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February 14, 2007
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Nick, thanks for joining us. T-20 in your debut at the Allianz Championship last week, and this week it's the Outback Steakhouse Pro-Am. You just got done with your first Pro-Am around here, maybe just a couple general thoughts about the golf course
NICK PRICE: The golf course is in great shape, it really is. It's always difficult when you overseed bermuda and especially with the warm weather that we've had, but this golf course has come out smelling roses.
It's really in good shape. A little wet in places from yesterday, I guess that squall came through here, that front dumped quite a bit of rain on but as the day progressed, it started drying out and hopefully we won't get anymore rain this week. I know it's going to be cold on Friday, but the golf course is really good. It's a good length. It's playing a little longer than the course we played last week which is good for me; I didn't think I would ever say that. I can see why, you know, the players really like coming here because it's such a well-organized wonderful event.
Again, you know, you're going to have to play well to win, and I've still got a little bit of a question mark behind my game. I'm still trying to round off the roughage because I haven't been competitive the last two years. Last week I played pretty well on Sunday which was encouraging. So I'm hoping to pick up from where I left off on Sunday and play three good days this week.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Just early impressions on the Champions Tour after playing three rounds last week.
NICK PRICE: It kind of reminds me of playing on the PGA TOUR in the early 80s. Obviously it's -- well, let me put this without being negative here. The regular Tour has become -- it's so busy now out there. And even the last, you know, two years with the quantity of media that we have out on the regular Tour, it just seems it's so busy.
I think the last two years, even though I wasn't a player of force, I was doing just as many interviews and one-on-ones with guys, and then you put that together with all of the autograph hunters that we have out on the Tour, which is great for the Tour, but it is very taxing. It is very, very busy.
And when you've gone through your career sort of, even I would say the last two years, three years past when I was playing my best, when I was No. 1 in the world for attention, it was incredible. I guess a lot of the media wanted to speak to me because, you know, having been around the game for a while and with all of the equipment issues and the way the game was changing.
And of course, I had been quite vocal, outspoken about a lot of the issues to do with the equipment. You know, I was constantly doing interviews. It just was so busy.
But this is much nicer. It's a lower key, it's a lot friendlier. The guys have welcomed me with open arms. Everyone has been so kind to me the last two weeks, and it's been fun to see all of the familiar faces again, guys who not only I played a lot with my early years but guys who I respected and admired, generations, guys who have played so well; Gary Player obviously, but Dave Stockton was out there, and Colbert and I played a lot together, and Eichelberger. And these are guys, these are real characters, guys who I learned an awful lot from playing, and J.C. Snead and guys like that.
So, you know, I'm very positive about it. I'm enjoying it a lot. It's just what I thought it would be to be honest with you. I tried to come out without any expectations, which is hard to do rebound but I'm very surprised and I'm very pleasantly surprised at just the whole state of the Champions Tour. It's very good. It's very good.
So I think I'm going to be out here for a while and keep playing. As long as my game gets better. My game is still -- leaves a little to be desired but it's getting there. I think I've got to play a little bit more. Golf is about competing and I haven't been competing last two years on a regular basis.
So hopefully I'll find a little bit of that spark that will get me going again.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: A little bit of a different format this week, playing with the Amateurs similar to last week's AT&T. Your thoughts on that.
NICK PRICE: I think it's really great. You know, it's certainly a direction that I would encourage this Champions Tour to go. A lot of us who have played for as long as all of us out here know some wonderful amateur players who are chairmen, CEOs, presidents of companies, celebrities. The AT&T has always had the highest ratings outside of the major championships. And if we want to encourage more television, I think it would be a good direction for us to go. Or maybe Friday, Saturday, play with the amateurs and Sunday have a shootout as they do at a lot of the other Pro-Am events.
You know, most of the guys are pretty good. As long as guys pick up and keep the pace of play going decently, then it's actually fun to be out there.
Q. Last week you had your first go out here, and this week O'Meara does. I'm sure you've seen him a bunch over the last few years on the regular Tour. He had his struggles, as well. But what are your thoughts on how he'll do out here with his game?
NICK PRICE: First off, I don't want to say this in a negative way, but our generation, O'Meara, myself, Norman, we're the first generation I suppose who really don't need to play the Champions Tour from a financial standpoint. We were lucky enough to make the money that we did, so it's all about enjoyment.
I think that's what he's looking for as well. He wants to come out here and have a good time, and also compete, because every single one of us, 75 of us or however many there are out here have competed our entire lives.
So a lot will depend on how I think he plays and how much fun he has, because that's going to be the -- those are the two criteria that I think are going to determine, A, how much I play, and also how much he plays. But he can still play. I mean, everyone out here can still play.
Q. They have played the tournament on this golf course I think 15 years, and six of those years, it's been won by players who won major championships. Does that mean anything when you look at the golf course, will that tell you something?
NICK PRICE: It's a shot-maker's golf course. You have to drive your ball pretty straight here.
It's a good mix, although I guess the win was blowing out of the west northwest today, which is probably the only time when we have a front coming through it will blow from that direction. But I probably used every club in my bag today, which is always to me a sign of a good, strong golf course. A good mix, a good blend of some shortish holes, 3-woods, wedge, sand wedges and some good par 4s. I hit probably two 5-irons, a 4-iron to a par 4, so it's a good mix, a couple of par 5s, and you hit good drives that you can reach. I can see why this golf course has produced players (winners) who have won major championships.
Q. Was today the first round you played?
NICK PRICE: Yeah, first look I had.
Q. When you arrive at a tournament site and it is the first trip around the golf course, what are the things you most try to focus on? What do you study to try to get a feel of?
NICK PRICE: You always look at the lines off the tees, which give you I suppose the most margin for error and the right plays off those tees. So you don't want to hit good drives that run out of fairway or you don't carry the bunkers and of course there's a lot of doglegs on this course. So you kind of figure out where the correct line off each tee is.
And then these greens are a good design. You have greens within greens or portions of green within green. And knowing where the pins on this side, water, the traps, the hazards that come into play when the pin is on the front left, as opposed to the back right.
So you sort of go around and you look at all of those. This course has no surprises. It doesn't have any sort of holes out there that you -- that are not in front of you. So it's in that respect -- then you look at the texture of the sand in the bunkers, the texture of the rough, how much it affects your club when you're chipping, and then the speed of the greens and how much grain or how little grain or what speed they are. Because once you get the speed of the greens, it's all relative to the amount of break there is. Slow greens, less break; faster greens, more break. So trying to read all those things.
Most of us can do a pretty decent job in a day, maybe two days, of getting a good feel for the golf course.
Q. You had an opportunity to play with Derrick Brooks today, what are your impressions of his golf game and how familiar are you with him as a football player?
NICK PRICE: Not that much. You know, last couple of years, I really got into football because I don't travel as much as I used to. But I used to travel a lot in November -- October, November, December, January, February overseas and I spent a lot of time in Africa, so I never really got into football that much.
But in the last few years because I haven't traveled overseas as much I got into it. He's a wonderful man, really, really nice man. Matt, my caddie who, is sort of my eyes and ears when it comes to sports sometimes, he tells me exactly how good he is.
I didn't realize that I had a UF shirt and he was an FSU grad. I didn't wear it on purpose this morning. (Laughter) As a golfer he has a lot of talent. He hits the ball very hard. I thought he was going to break a couple of shots out there just swinging because he's so strong, you know.
I'm glad I don't have him running at me. I'd rather have him on my side. He's a very nice man.
Q. He shared some stories that he that took a group of kids to South Africa.
NICK PRICE: Yeah, he told me about that, and a wonderful trip for those kids, and also Derrick to go down there and see how different Africa is. South Africa has been a success story with the transition, and I think it's probably opened many kids' eyes to see how different the world is. But he does a lot of good, I mean, you can see that.
Q. Given your reputation and your name, do you feel a certain amount of pressure to perform at a certain level?
NICK PRICE: A little bit. There's certainly a little bit of pressure there. But I just don't -- I'm trying not to put any pressure on myself because I did the last two years, trying to perform out on the regular Tour.
But you know, I'm trying to take it one day at a time-out here and try and build up some confidence. You know, I've always said, golf is a game of momentum, and I have no momentum. Maybe just a smidge after last week on Sunday, but that's what you've got to do out here. You build up momentum, and along with that is confidence.
There's no doubt that October -- September, October last year, my confidence was at an all-time low. So I started at the bottom again and I'm trying to pick that game up and get back to where I was. Somewhere inside -- it's there somewhere. It's just a question of it coming out, and I have no doubt that it will come out, but I just don't know how long it's going to take.
You know, consistency, when you are playing well, certainly when I played well, my game was very tight, and you know, I'm hitting a lot of loose shots now. So I'm trying to get that game back, that tightness and that efficiency that I played, did so well when I was playing well.
Q. Are nerving still a factor?
NICK PRICE: Oh, sure, your nerves are always a factor and they are always a little more frayed as you get older, they are not quite what they used to be. But that's to be expected. Everyone goes through that. They say, well why, would you get nervous. Well, if I stop getting nervous on a golf course then I'd better quit because I don't care.
That's one of those things, people always talk about choking, and I just think that choking is an integral part of the game, but people forget that a guy is trying so hard. People make fun of guys choking, and it means an awful lot to people when they choke and when they get nervous.
So it's just a question of learning to control it. But you've got to have nerves. If you don't have those little butterflies, you know, I'm not talking about flat-out shakes and falling over your feet and that. I'm talking about the butterflies; if you don't have that, then you might as well quit the game. Because I've been through that when I haven't had that and it's a not a nice feeling because really you don't care. That's what it boils down to.
Q. Talk about the difference between when you play in a Pro-Am versus when you're playing with other professionals, is there a difference in how you feel, you know, with your game, you talk a little about whether it's nerves or something?
NICK PRICE: Obviously it's a little more relaxed. You've got a guy you're playing with who is 14 times more nervous than you are, so you try and calm him down and get him to enjoy. (Laughter).
But when you get in a Pro-Am, priority for me is to make sure the guy I'm playing with has a good time and just enjoys the time that we spend together. You know, some of the really best players that you can have on a golf course is when you play with a good bunch of amateurs who are just having the time of their life and they win the Pro-Am. If they are good people and nice people on top of it, it makes a great day.
But you know, try and get a guy to calm his nerves and get to play and enjoy the day. And if he does, he'll play better and then you'll all have a little more fun. So sort of like a circle.
Q. Have you ever been in a situation where you got with a group that just the games were just so off?
NICK PRICE: I couldn't count how many times that's happened. (Laughter).
But the good thing is you just try to encourage the guy to pick the ball up and you try and help him a little bit. There's very little you can help a guy. You can give him a few tips in four, five, six hours on a golf course, but you are certainly not going to turn him into being a player. And the jokes come out and you make a bit of fun at each other and have a good time. I always say when they get miserable because they haven't birdied the first seven holes or something, you can go back to the office. If you want to go back to the office, that's the option, and that will perk him up a little bit. (Laughter).
Q. Do you know how many events you're going to want to participate in this year?
NICK PRICE: I'm on track for 15 or 16, and if I get into the Charles Schwab Cup Championship, then I'll play 17. And there's a couple of weeks that are open there, but I'm somewhere around there. So I've got to give it a good go this year and try and play as much as I can.
You know, I've got young kids still, my kids are 15, 13 and 10, so I'm going to try to spend a lot of time with them. And then my golf course design business is doing really well, so I've got a lot of work out on the golf course side. So I'm kind of juggling everything around a bit. But I do feel like I'm playing enough to give myself an opportunity to play well enough out here. You know, if I don't play well enough, playing 15 or 16 events, then I'll have to change something next year, either play more or less, I don't know. I don't think I'll play less.
Q. You mentioned Norman earlier. Are you surprised he has not played out here?
NICK PRICE: I didn't mention him. Did I mention him?
Q. When you were talking about your generation, guys who don't need to play out here for the money. I just wondered, have you talked to him about it?
NICK PRICE: No, I haven't spoken to Greg about golf. I see him occasionally now at home, but I don't know. I don't think he really enjoys playing golf anymore because he doesn't play that much. I mean, that's my take on it. But, you know, I thought he may have played a little bit more.
PHIL STAMBAUGH: Nick, thank you very much. Good luck this week.
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