Price in Tucson Thinking About Champions

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2005 Chrysler Classic at TucsonTUCSON, Ariz. -- Nick Price will start his 23rd PGA season at this week's Chrysler Classic of Tucson. With 11 months until his 50th birthday, he's also getting excited about the Champions Tour.
 
'I'm hoping I'm going to find a little inspiration out there,' Price said Wednesday. 'My last year and a half, I haven't had as much fun as I would have liked.'
 
Price played in just 16 PGA events last season, finishing with $626,736 to rank 125th on the money list and retain his tour card. His best finish came when he closed with a 67 and tied for sixth at the Byron Nelson Championship.
 
Winner of the PGA Championship in 1992 and 1994, as well as the 1994 British Open champion, his name is among the most respected in golf. He's an 18-time PGA Tour winner with another 24 international victories.
 
But the game has changed considerably since Price's heyday, with longer courses and high-tech equipment putting a premium on distance.
 
Price has always been a shot-maker, and the 7,312-yard layout at Tucson National doesn't exactly suit his strengths. He'd prefer courses, he said, offering more of a challenge in the rough and requiring precise approaches.
 
No surprise, then, that he paused when asked if he can win in Tucson.
 
'Ahhh, I don't know,' Price said. 'In the back of my mind I feel like I can win, but I haven't really practiced much. I haven't played that hard. I've had a little bit of a problem getting motivated.'
 
With many of the tour's bigger names at the Match Play Championships in California, Price will carry one of the higher profiles in Tucson, where the purse is $3 million and the winner receives $540,000.
 
This year's field features eight of the past nine Tucson winners, including Heath Slocum, Frank Lickliter II, Ian Leggatt, Garrett Willis, Jim Carter, Gabriel Hjerstedt, David Duval, Jeff Sluman and Larry Mize.
 
Price usually starts his season at the Nissan Open but missed last week's event with a nasty flu that has hit several tour golfers. Tiger Woods dropped out after two rounds last weekend and several others complained of the illness.
 
'A bad bug. Everybody had it. It was awful,' Price said. 'I was supposed to fly out on Tuesday morning but I got sick on Monday and didn't get out of bed until Friday. ... That was as sick as I've been in quite a while.'
 
So he'll begin the year instead in Arizona, where this tournament still meets the criteria Price likes to see early in the season.
 
'You just want a place where the course is in good shape and the weather is nice,' he said.
 
He's also keeping an eye on the Champions Tour, looking forward to the slower pace of those more easygoing 54-hole events. He hopes to play several senior events next year, provided he doesn't find himself grinding on every hole.
 
'From all I've heard, it's a lot of fun,' Price said. 'That's what I want to do, just go out and enjoy myself. I don't want to go out and beat thousands of balls and spend hours and hours on the putting green.'
 
He's encouraged by the recent success of a buddy, Loren Roberts, the first player to win the first three Champions Tour events of the season.
 
'Yeah, a good sign. The courses can't be all that long if he's winning,' Price joked. 'There's a good example of a guy who's stayed in form through his late 40s and played well. All kudos to him. I'm very happy for him.'
 
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