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Golf Talk Live - Jack Nicklaus Transcript Segment 1

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GOLF TALK LIVE - APRIL 5, 1999
JACK NICKLAUS

PETER KESSLER
WHEN 58 YEAR OLD JACK NICKLAUS THRILLED US BY FINISHING TIED FOR 6TH IN THE 1998 MASTERS DESPITE SEVERE PAIN TRIGGERED BY A DEGENERATIVE LEFT HIP, HE WAS VISIBLY DISAPPOINTED THAT HE HADN'T GOTTEN THE JOB DONE.

NOW HE'S GOT A NEW HIP AND WE SUSPECT THAT THE COMPETITIVE FIRE HAS NOT BEEN COOLED . HIT.

HE'S NOT PLANNING TO PLAY A MAJOR, MAJOR SCHEDULE JUST TO SEE IF HE CAN MAKE THE CUT.

JACK PLAYS TO WIN OR HE DOESN'T PLAY. MEET THE PLAYER AGAINST WHOM ALL OTHER PLAYERS ARE MEASURED NOW ON GOLF TALK LIVE.

PETER KESSLER
THE TWO GREATEST PLAYERS OF ALL TIME ARE BOBBY JONES AND JACK NICKLAUS. WHEN JONES BECAME THE 2ND AMERICAN AFTER BENJAMIN FRANKLIN TO BE MADE A FREEMAN OR A CITIZEN OF THE BURGH OF SAINT ANDREW, SCOTLAND,

HE SAID THAT IF HE COULD ONLY HAVE THE EXPERIENCES IN GOLF THAT HE HAD IN SAINT ANDREWS, HE WOULD HAVE HAD A VERY RICH, FULL AND SATISFYING LIFE IN GOLF.

IT SHOULD BE NOTED THAT AT SAINT ANDREWS JONES SUCCESSFULLY DEFENDED THE BRITISH OPEN IN 1927, WON THE BRITISH AMATEUR IN HIS GRAND SLAM YEAR OF 1930,

WAS DEVASTATING IN WALKER CUP PLAY THERE, AND WAS WELCOMED AS A HERO WHEN HE RETURNED FOR A CASUAL ROUND BEFORE THE 1936 OLYMPICS IN HITLER'S BERLIN.

IF JACK NICKLAUS HAD ONLY HIS EXPERIENCES AT AUGUSTA NATIONAL DURING MASTERS WEEK AS HIS GOLF CAREER, HE STILL WOULD BE ONE OF THE GREATEST PLAYERS IN GOLF'S 600 YEAR HISTORY.

JACK MADE IT HAPPEN WHEN WE DIDN'T LIKE HIM BECAUSE HE WAS CROWDING ARNIE'S SPACE.

JACK WON WHEN WE RESPECTED HIM AND BEGAN TO LIKE HIM.

JACK WON WHEN HE LOOKED LIKE A MOVIE STAR AND WE HAD FALLEN IN LOVE WITH HIM.

JACK WON BEFORE THE GREENS WERE FRIGHTENING.

AND JACK WON WHEN THE GREENS DEMANDED THE SENSITIVITY OF A SAFE-CRACKER.

HE WON THE FIRST TIME WHEN GRINDING OUT POWERS WAS THE KEY TO SUCCESS.

HE WON BY SMASHING SCORING RECORDS WITH AN UNPRECEDENTED COMBINATION OF POWER, JUDGEMENT AND FINESSE.

HE WON WHEN A PLAYOFF WAS REQUIRED TO IDENTIFY THE CHAMPION.

HE WON WHEN NO ONE ELSE WANTED IT BADLY ENOUGH.

HE WON WHEN HE SUPPORTING CAST OF CHARACTERS WANTED IT JUST AS BADLY.

HE WON WHEN WE WERE HOPING FOR FAIRYTALES.

HE REMINDED US OF HOGAN AT THE '53 BRITISH OPEN AS HE IMPROVED HIS SCORE EVERYDAY AND GAVE THE CLEAR IMPRESSION OF BEING CAPABLE OF SHOOTING WHATEVER WAS REQUIRED TO WIN.

JUST AS HE ALWAYS HAS AND JUST AS IN OUR MIND'S EYE AND IN OUR DAYDREAMS .

HE ALWAYS WILL.

WELCOME TO GOLF TALK LIVE. I'M PETER KESSLER. IT IS A GREAT PLEASURE TO INTRODUCE YOU TO THE GREATEST PLAYER IN THE HISTORY OF THE GAME AND PERHAPS JUST AS IMPORTANT,

ONE OF THE GREATEST SPORTSMEN WHO EVER PLAYED ANY GAME, JACK NICKLAUS. GREAT TO SEE YOU AGAIN.

JACK NICKLAUS
THANKS, PETER, APPRECIATE THAT.

PETER KESSLER
HOW EXTRAORDINARY A GIFT IS IT WITH YOUR NEW HIP, AND SETTING ASIDE GOLF FOR THE MOMENT, TO BE ABLE TO REDISCOVER THE JOYS OF GETTING YOUR LIFE BACK, THE SIMPLE PLEASURES OF YOUR LIFE?

JACK NICKLAUS
WELL I'M , YOU KNOW, I'M NOT QUITE THERE YET. UH, BUT UH .

I DID MY HIP FOR QUALITY OF LIFE ISSUES. AND, YOU KNOW, I HAVEN'T HURT SINCE THEN. UH .

AND I'M -- I CAN DO THINGS NOW. I CAN GO OUT AND WALK AND I CAN GO DO OTHER THINGS. I'M NOT QUITE BACK TO BEING ABLE TO HIT A GOLF BALL FULL YET. I'M - I PLAYED THE LAST 4 DAYS AND UH . UH, I CAN'T EXACTLY SAY THAT IT'S CALLING MUCH ABOUT - I WOULDN'T CALL IT MUCH PLAYING.

BUT I, I HAVE PLAYED. AND UH, I'M SORT OF SEMI-BUNTING THE BALL AROUND THE GOLF COURSE. BUT I NEED TO GET BACK INTO IT AND START THINKING ABOUT IT. AND UH, IT'S PAIN-FREE. IT'S FUN. AND UH, A LITTLE, AND A LITTLE FRUSTRATING, I SUPPOSE, AT TIMES.

BUT IT'S A . UH, IT'S NICE TO . IT'S NICE TO SEE IT MOVING IN THAT DIRECTION.

PETER KESSLER
WHAT SCORES DID YOU BUNT IT AROUND IN?

JACK NICKLAUS
WELL I PLAYED UH 9 HOLES AT LOXAHATCHEE AND SHOT 38. I PLAYED 9 HOLES AT SEMINOLE AND SHOT 38. THEN I PLAYED 18 AT LOST TREE YESTERDAY AND I SHOT 38 - 37. AND I PLAYED 9 AT LOXAHATCHEE THIS MORNING AND SHOT 39.

(LAUGH)

I'M A GOOD SOLID 4.

PETER KESSLER
THAT'S A GOOD PLACE

TO START.

JACK NICKLAUS
I'M A GOOD SOLID 4. (LAUGH)

PETER KESSLER
THERE'S EVERY REASON TO THINK YOU WILL IMPROVE AND PAIN-FREE, RIGHT?

JACK NICKLAUS
YEAH, I DON'T HURT.

PETER KESSLER
YOU KNOW, IT'S SO RARE WHEN SOMETHING EXCEEDS OUR WILDEST EXPECTATIONS, BUT MOST PEOPLE, WHEN THEY GO TO AUGUSTA NATIONAL FOR THE FIRST TIME DESPITE THE FACT THAT THEY WATCHED EVERY SINGLE SHOT ON TELEVISION THAT'S EVER BEEN FILMED,

IT ALWAYS SEEMS TO EXCEED ONE'S WILDEST AND GREATEST EXPECTATIONS. WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION THE FIRST TIME?

JACK NICKLAUS
AT AUGUSTA?

PETER KESSLER
AT AUGUSTA.

JACK NICKLAUS
UM, WELL I DON'T REALLY KNOW. I WAS 19 YEARS OLD. UH, IT REALLY HASN'T CHANGED, PETER. I MEAN, I THINK WHEN YOU DRIVE THROUGH THE GATES, GO DOWN MAGNOLIA LANE, THE THRILL FOR ME LAST YEAR WAS JUST AS GREAT A THRILL AS IT WAS IN 1959 THE FIRST TIME I WENT DOWN IT.

I MEAN, IT'S SOMETHING THAT YOU DON'T EXPECT TO SEE. UH, YOU HAVE YOUR . YOUR EXPECTATIONS OF WHAT YOU THINK YOU'RE GOING TO SEE AND IT EXCEEDS THEM.

AND UH, TO WALK INTO, OR TO DRIVE IN OR WALK IN, WHATEVER YOU DO AT AUGUSTA NATIONAL, UH, INTO THE AREA SEE THE CLUBHOUSE, SEE THE GROUNDS, SEE THE UH .

THE PERFECTION AT AUGUSTA NATIONAL. UH, IT'S A . IT'S PRETTY MIND BOGGLING PARTICULARLY FOR A 19 YEAR OLD.

AND UH, AND WHEN THAT CAN STILL IMPRESS YOU AS A 59 YEAR OLD, UH, THAT'S -- I THINK THAT MUST BE A PRETTY SPECIAL PLACE.

PETER KESSLER
IN THE EARLY 60'S YOU COULD ALMOST ARGUE AT ANY MAJOR TOURNAMENT AND INCLUDING, OF COURSE, THE MASTERS THAT, THAT MAY HAVE BEEN THE GOLDEN AGE OF GOLF IN THE SENSE OF HAVING THE MOST PLAYERS FROM THE MOST GENERATIONS WITH A REAL CHANCE TO WIN.

I THINK OF YOU PLAYING WITH HOGAN IN '60 AT THE OPEN AND, OF COURSE, HE HIT THOSE FIRST 34 GREENS AND COULD HAVE WON.

JACK NICKLAUS
UH-HUH.

PETER KESSLER
AND HE SAID, YOU SHOULD HAVE WON. AND IN '63 WHEN YOU WON YOUR FIRST MASTERS, SNEAD, SAM, WAS LEADING WITH 3 HOLES TO PLAY AND LOOK WHO WAS THERE:

NELSON, HOGAN, SNEAD, YOU, ARNIE, GARY, TONY LEMA, UH, BOROS, CASPER . UNBELIEVABLE AND UNLIKE AN OLD-TIMER'S GAME LIKE BASEBALL WHERE THE 35 YEAR OLDS PLAY BEFORE THE 25 YEAR OLDS,

EVERYBODY HAS A CHANCE TO WIN.

JACK NICKLAUS
THAT'S RIGHT. IN '66 I PLAYED THE LAST ROUND WITH HOGAN. SO, I MEAN, YOU KNOW, YOU JUST CONTINUE RIGHT ON THROUGH. AND UH,

UH . IT'S A, IT'S AN AMAZING PLACE. I THINK THAT UH YOU CAN COUNT AN AWFUL LOT FOR EXPERIENCE AT AUGUSTA.

BUT YOU CAN ALSO CAN COUNT AN AWFUL LOT FOR STRENGTH AND YOUTH. I MEAN, YOU KNOW, ONE ALMOST COUNTERACTS THE OTHER. IN OTHER WORDS, TIGER, WHAT HE DID A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO WAS YOUTH, PURE YOUTH.

UM, O'MEARA, WHAT HE DID LAST YEAR WAS PURE EXPERIENCE. AND YOU PUT THE 2 OF THEM TOGETHER AND, YOU KNOW, THEY .

THEY COMPETE VERY WELL AT AUGUSTA. THERE'S NOT MANY PLACES THAT THEY DO COMPETE WELL AGAINST EACH OTHER.

PETER KESSLER
YOU'VE SAID THAT THE MASTERS IS YOUR FAVORITE TOURNAMENT BUT THAT YOU WOULD RANK IT AS THE LEAST IMPORTANT MAJOR. HOW DO YOU RECONCILE THOSE TWO THOUGHTS IN YOUR HEAD?

JACK NICKLAUS
WELL, I MEAN, AS A TOURNAMENT, IT'S BEEN - ALWAYS BEEN MY FAVORITE TOURNAMENT TO GO PLAY IN. IT'S ALWAYS BEEN THE START OF THE GOLFING YEAR. IT'S ALWAYS BEEN GREAT FUN.

BUT I THINK THAT IF YOU LOOK AT WHAT JONES REALLY WANTED THE MASTERS TO BE, AND HE SAYS IT'S NOT A CHAMPIONSHIP. IT'S A TOURNAMENT.

HE SAYS THE WINNERS OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP COME PLAY IN THE MASTERS. SO, IN OTHER WORDS, YOU QUALIFY TO PLAY IN THE MASTERS BY HOW YOU'VE PLAYED IN THE CHAMPIONSHIPS OF THE U.S. OPEN, THE BRITISH OPEN AND THE PGA CHAMPIONSHIP.

AND SO, BY HIS ADMISSION AND BY HIS INTENTIONS, THEY WANTED THAT TO BE AN EVENT THAT WAS A TOURNAMENT THAT WAS . THAT REWARDED THE CHAMPIONSHIPS.

AND IT GREW INTO . INTO THE SIGNIFICANCE OF BEING A MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIP. SO, YOU KNOW, IT'S NOT THAT I, I CONSIDER IT LESS IMPORTANT THAN ANY OTHER EVENT. UH, QUITE TO THE CONTRARY. UH,

BUT, DO I THINK THAT UH . UH, JONES' WISHES SHOULD BE HONORED? AND I THINK THAT WAS JONES' WISHES.

PETER KESSLER
WHEN JONES DID HIS INCREDIBLE INSTRUCTIONAL SERIES FOR WARNER BROTHERS IN THE EARLY 30'S, WHICH I THINK HAS NOT YET BEEN SURPASSED, HE CALLED IT 'HOW I PLAY GOLF'.

WHEN YOU WROTE ONE OF YOUR EARLY BOOKS, YOU CALLED IT 'GOLF MY WAY'.
JACK NICKLAUS
UH-HUH.

PETER KESSLER
BOTH OF THOSE ARE FAIRLY MODEST TITLES IN THE SENSE THAT NEITHER OF YOU THOUGHT TO SAY HOW TO PLAY GOLF BUT RATHER HERE'S HOW I

DO IT.

JACK NICKLAUS
UH-HUH.

PETER KESSLER
DID YOU RECOGNIZE THAT IN HIS TITLE AND DID YOU IN A DIRECT WAY IMITATE AND THEREFORE FLATTER HIM WITH YOURS?

JACK NICKLAUS
DIDN'T KNOW HIS TITLE . TO BE VERY HONEST WITH YOU. UM, MY TITLE CAME BECAUSE I DIDN'T THINK THAT IF I WAS GOING TO TALK ABOUT PLAYING GOLF AND HOW I PLAY GOLF, I WASN'T TRYING TO TELL SOMEBODY HOW TO PLAY GOLF.

I WAS TRYING TO LET THEM MAKE THEIR OWN DETERMINATION OF HOW TO PLAY GOLF AND TELL YOU HOW I PLAY GOLF. THIS IS THE WAY I DID IT. NOW YOU CAN TAKE FROM THAT WHAT YOU WANT.

IF IT CAN HELP YOU, IF UH, IF YOU PICK SOMETHING OUT OF IT THAT REALLY MAKES IT - YOUR GAME BETTER, TERRIFIC. BUT THIS IS HOW I DO IT. AND UH,

I DID NOT - I DIDN'T REALLY KNOW BOBBY JONES' TITLE. SO UH, UM . MINE WAS UH . I GUESS, IN MANY WAYS, CAME FROM KEN BOWDEN. KEN WAS PROBABLY THE, THE UH . UH, THE ONE WHO PICKED THAT TITLE.

PETER KESSLER
WE WILL TAKE A VERY SHORT BREAK AND WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK WITH JACK NICKLAUS RIGHT AFTER THIS.

(BREAK)
 
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