Old Man Price Rips Though Nelson With 64


IRVING, Texas -- Nick Price is 45 now, a graybeard age for PGA Tour golfers. When he was 35, he was the best in the world. Ten years, though, makes a big difference, and now Price is only among the top 20 in the world. But he is No. 1 for his age, without question, especially now that Scott Hoch is experiencing eye problems.
Price fired a 6-under-par 64 Thursday in the opening round of the Verizon Byron Nelson Classic. Not too shabby for a man hovering around the age when most gents who play golf for a living are beginning to think towards the Senior Tour. Not too shabby, come to think of it, for the youngsters who are in the pro game, either.
I think its an accumulation of three or four things, said Price, who has finished worse than 20th in only his first event of the year. Ive been driving the ball very well this year ' Ive hit a lot of fairways (hes third on tour in fairways hit); Ive been working a lot with David Leadbetter on my swing since Augusta; and probably more than anything else, my putting has been more consistent than it has been for a long time (hes 49th in the category).
But certainly, my ball-striking has improved now, and my game-management is as good as its ever been. I just lack about 15 yards off the tee. If I had about 15 more yards, I could stay up with some of these young guys out here.
Price believes he and most of the other older players learned the game under a different philosophy, based on the persimmon drivers that werent as forgiving as todays metal marvels. Using wood, he learned to swing about 85 percent in order to make the ball go straight. The younger player has learned he can swing at 95 percent, since the metal woods are so much more forgiving.
However, the old warhorse can get still get the ball around the course. He had nary an eagle this season until three tournaments ago, but he has had four in his last three events.
He had another Thursday, on No. 16 at the TPC at Las Colinas course.
The hole was playing straight downwind, he said, and I hit a really good tee shot and had 203 yards to the front, 218 to the pin. I hit a 4-iron and the ball rolled up to about 10-12 feet behind the hole. I knocked that one in for eagle.
Price was only 2-under until he got halfway through the backside. He birdied Nos. 14 and 15 and got the eagle at 16 to dip to 6-under.
Im not one to make a lot of eagles, but they certainly contribute to good scores, he said in a classic understatement.
Price finished eighth last week at New Orleans after shooting an opening round of 74. So without question he is striking the ball solidly.
You cant actually pinpoint one thing, he said. But there are certain courses I can compete on. This certainly is one, since there are only two par-5s. I dont feel its a huge disadvantage for me. Some of the other courses have par-5s that, for me, are a driver and a wood, whereas for a lot of the young guys its a driver and long iron. They will make 12 or 15 birdies a week on courses with four par-5s, which is a huge disadvantage.

In short, this is a good golf course for me. I have a lot of good memories here (he won the Byron Nelson in 1991). I played well last year (tied for third), so hopefully I can keep it going another three days.
Full-field scores from the Verizon Byron Nelson Classic