Nick Price Press Conference Transcipt

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Bank of America Colonial
Fort Worth, Texas
 
May 20, 2003
Pre-Tournament
 
An Interview With:
 
NICK PRICE

 
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Like to welcome Bank of America Colonial Champion Nick Price.
 
NICK PRICE: Thank you.
 
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Nick, thanks for joining us. Coming off a couple great performances the last couple weeks. If you could just talk about how things are going for you, obviously very well.
 
NICK PRICE: Yeah, they have been. I played pretty well at Augusta, at Hilton Head, my putting wasn't very good and I spent the two weeks between Hilton Head and Wachovia working on my short game and it seems to have paid dividends. I putted really well at Wachovia. And I didn't hit the ball as well at Wachovia as I would have liked to have. But last week I played really well and Sunday was, was really strong finish for me. I haven't been able to finish off very well the last two months or so, but Sunday I just played exceptionally well from tee to green and I had a lot of birdie opportunities and came up a couple of shots short. So I'm really excited. Last week was my best finish since I won here last year. So I'm excited about this week.
 
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Obviously have some positive thoughts about coming back to Colonial where you won last year. Talk a little about coming back to defend your title.
 
NICK PRICE: I love this golf course. It's been one of my favorites for a long time. And I had a couple of close shaves in the '80s here. And then finally broke through in '94 and won. And then last year it was really, I don't know, when you're 45 years old you just don't know how many tournaments you're going to win. So to win here last year was extremely special for me. And I coming off the last two weeks I'm playing just the way I want to coming into this week. So I'm really excited.
 
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We'll take some questions now.
 
Q. Want to talk about you or do you want to talk about that other person that's playing in this golf tournament?
 
NICK PRICE: Well I think that I've answered enough questions about Annika the last three months. So I think every one knows what my feelings are on that. So I would rather talk about the way I'm playing, if that's okay.
 
Q. As the defending and two time champion, does it honestly, does it bother you a little bit to be asked more about another player or would you?
 
NICK PRICE: Never. Because we -- Tiger, we're always speaking about Tiger. So that doesn't bother me at all. Not at all.
 
Q. When you look at the two tournaments that you have won here, even though they were nine years apart, what is it about this course and this layout and everything about it that suits your game?
 
NICK PRICE: One thing that I love about this golf course is the, every tee shot's different. It's not just a stand up and hit it as far as you can. Not only do you have to hit the ball really straight here, but you always have to control the distance you're hitting it. And when the wind switches here the golf course changes complexion totally. And you have to be on your toes. One day you might be hitting a driver and it's going 255 off the tee into the wind. And the next day you're downwind and you got to hit a 3-iron or 2-iron to that same spot. So it makes you think from the tee shot. It's not just getting the ball in the fairway and then playing from there like a lot of other courses we play. It's very advantageous here to have the ability to manipulate the ball. If you take the first three holes, the first hole you got driver trying to hit a little bit of a cut. Second hole, a cut. Then you got to hit a draw on the third hole. And you come right back on number five and you got to cut the ball again. So you really have to be on your game off the tee. And I think that's one of the things that's one of the parts of my game that's always been a strength. As I said, over the years here I've just, obviously, with Mr. Hogan's presence here over the years, it's -- I can see why he loved this tournament so much. I really can.
 
Q. How much in general does the rain affect this golf course. Last year we had thunderstorms Friday. Now you got this. Do you expect this to have much affect on the golf course?
 
NICK PRICE: Not too much. I think what -- as long as we don't get continuous rain throughout the week. This course is built on clay so it drys out pretty quickly. And we have seen this course change from in, eight hours, from morning to afternoon. If the wind gets up and the sun comes out, which I'm sure it's going to do tomorrow and Thursday, by the time we get to Saturday, Sunday, this course will have some fire in it. In fact I'm pretty sure by Friday afternoon it will be playing fast and fiery.
 
Q. Last year when you won and also previous times, people have compared your swing to Hogan. Said you had a Hogan-type swing. I was wondering what do you think about that? Do you think it's accurate or do you take it as a compliment?
 
NICK PRICE: That's probably the greatest compliment anyone could pay me. I don't believe it. I mean my swing doesn't feel like his. But I think we're maybe there might be some similarity is that there's not as many moving parts as some guys have in their swings I've always tried to keep my swing as efficient as possible. And I think Hogan had probably the most efficient golf swing of all time. I've carried his book Five Modern Fundamentals in my briefcase since about 1979. And I've used his book as a reference in so many things that I have worked on with my swing. I wouldn't say I modeled my swing on his swing, but there was a guy who found it in the dirt and worked out everything on his own without the benefit of teachers or video cameras. And so there's obviously a lot of merit to what he was saying in his book and what he was trying to teach people. I don't always agree with some of the feelings that he portrayed in his book. I think those were a bit deceptive to a lot of guys who tried to copy his swing. But he did so many great things in his golf swing and the simple fact he had so much power for a little man he learned the efficiency of the golf swing. And I think being sort of like that first generation to grow up with steel shafts, he and Byron and Sam Snead, they were the forerunners to the modern golf swing. And he just I'm sure went through so many changes and tried to find so many keys to work with his golf swing. But it was an efficient, just a flash through the ball.
 
Q. What are your views now on Annika taking part in this tournament?
 
NICK PRICE: Where have you been the last two and a half months?
 
Q. Well, she's going to dominate the tournament, you're the defending champion, I'm afraid I think we are entitled to ask.
 
NICK PRICE: Yeah, okay. You're entitled to ask. I'm entitled not to answer.
 
Q. Two things. If you had the same copy, how many times have you gone, how many copies have you gone through over the last 24 years?
 
NICK PRICE: Oh, boy.
 
Q. How often do you refer to it?
 
NICK PRICE: I probably got about five of them. Five of them. But the one that I have got in my briefcase has got so much sticky tape on it and so many things I've written in there over the years where I've kind of may have disagreed a little bit on what he has had to say, and written may own keys in there. So it's been -- it's been almost like my bible, my golf bible.
 
Q. How special is it to be the defending champion to return this week and given how special that is, how do you feel about maybe you being there's maybe a quarter of the people here that were here to see --
 
NICK PRICE: Oh, no, that's fine.
 
Q. -- a sponsor's exemption?
 
NICK PRICE: That doesn't worry me in the slightest. I'm just really happy to be here. I'm more focused on trying to play golf this week to be honest with you. There's so many distractions in this game as there is, and playing as well as I am, it's just another test, another hurdle that I have to go to try and play well again this week. And I really want to stay focused on my game. The last three or four months have been very uncomfortable because I've been asked so many questions about the subject. But now we are here, and I'm ready to play and I'm playing well and I'm excited about it. So this is a great event for me.
 
Q. You are a representative of your game just of course as Annika is a representative of the same game, she was in here and spoke admirably and wonderfully about challenges and respect for you and for the men on this TOUR. Do you not find that admirable or honorable at all that she would say that?
 
NICK PRICE: Sure. Absolutely.
 
Q. Could you speak about that, please?
 
NICK PRICE: Absolutely. Golf's a game where we all prove ourselves. And there's no doubt she's proven herself. So she's a great gall, she's got great game. And I wish her the very best of luck this week. I really could do. I don't think you'll find a mean, a mean streak in one person out here on the golf TOUR. I haven't. In the years that I've been out here. And I think every single one of us wishes her well.
 
Q. Is there anything you've heard in the last three or four months that you've had to deal with this that has changed your outlook one way or the other about her being here?
 
NICK PRICE: No, not at all. They made a decision to include her in the tournament. And they feel it's the right decision. So my hat's off to them.
 
Q. You've been threatening to break through for a victory here in the last couple of weeks, do you feel that this might be the week for you as defending champion?
 
NICK PRICE: Boy, I hope so. I had a similar sort of two weeks prior to this event last year where I played well in New Orleans and at the Byron Nelson. I think I finished ninth in New Orleans and eighth at the Byron Nelson. So May has always been a good month for me. And I don't know why. Just probably because it heats up a little bit and the courses get a little bit of speed in them and but I have played really well in May over the years, May, June, July the summer is really good for me. So this is like a start, hopefully, of a good stretch.
 
Q. Some of the guys it's been brought in, playing well over 40, you, Vijay, Jay Haas. A guy sitting at home watching television, saying, hey, look at all these older guys playing well. Can an amateur, can an older amateur pick up anything from what you guys are doing at an advanced stage? Your game seems to be getting better as you go along. Can amateurs pick up anything from that?
 
NICK PRICE: I think the one thing that you learn as you get older is that you tend to make the same mistakes in your golf swing over and over again. And just when you think you've got one tendency that you do, when you think you've got it licked, it comes back when you take time off and bites you. And so if you stay on top of those, I think it really helps an awful lot in having the experience. The great thing about the TOUR is we go back to golf courses that is you've played 15, 16 times before. So you try and draw on that experience that you had. So there are a lot of good things about it. The big thing is just have you got the desire. Do you still want to go out and compete. And that's one thing that to me is the last three years I've paced myself really well and I just enjoy playing. I enjoy going and hitting balls. And until that -- as long as I stay in pretty good shape -- until that interest dies, I hop I'm still out here.
 
Q. I think a couple times you spoke with great reverence about this event and about the course. What beyond the course itself strikes accord with you?
 
NICK PRICE: About this event? Probably Hogan's presence. The fact that he was such an idol of mine and unfortunately I never got to play with him. I got to meet with him and I had dinner and lunch with him a couple of times. He was the epitome of someone who came from basically nothing, had nothing most of his life until he started playing golf and then his refusal to take anything half standard or half based. And that determination to control the golf ball, I don't think anyone ever did it better than him. And I think every time I play this golf course I think about him. He was such a lovely man. I was terrified when I first met him because I had heard all these rumors about him and how he could be -- they called him the Ice Man and they called him the Hawk and all sorts of things, you know, so when I first met him I think I was 26 years old and I walked into his office and I really, I was terrified. I didn't know what to expect. And he was just so down to earth and so nice to me and for that I still will always hold him in the highest respect. And he was old school, Ben Hogan. I even asked him some questions about the golf swing and he says, well, go find it in the dirt. And that's fine. He gave me a few things, but I asked him about some of the areas in the book that I wasn't sure of. And he cleared those up for me. And he was -- I got to have dinner with he and his wife at Shady Oaks one night and sat in between the two of them and that was probably one of the most special evenings of my life. I just couldn't ask him enough questions without being rude.
 
Q. Annika spoke about the challenges on this course and the challenges with playing with players like yourself and how she would take what she learns here back to the LPGA. What do you think she might be able to take back there and what do you think the PGA might learn from her presence here and the participation of women? And finally do you think that there may be something the PGA can learn from the participation of women in the future here?
 
NICK PRICE: Sure. Well, the course is going to play long for her. It's probably par 74 for her. So she can make the cut if she plays well. There's no doubt. If she shoots what would normally be six, seven, eight under. She could probably make the cut. I think she will probably find the course a lot longer than what she's used to the rough might be up more and the greens might be firmer. But when she goes back, I'm sure she's going to have had a had a great experience here. Because having to deal with all of the this that's going on, it's a big thing for her. So I'm sure next week will be a lot easier for her. And but it will be interesting to see. I'm as interested as anyone to see how well she does. The ladies TOUR is different. They don't play with as much rough as we do. The courses aren't as long. So she's obviously been working out hard and she's been trying to hit the ball further. So I think it will hold her in good stead, I really do. What was the second part of your question?
 
Q. What can the PGA take from her being here?
 
NICK PRICE: Well, I said this awhile back and I'll say it again, that at Indianapolis and those other places anybody that goes into those races or whatever it may be, they have to qualify. And I think that's it should be a prerequisite. Sure, the sponsors can invite whoever they want, but qualifying is everything. Every single one of us who is out here has had to qualify. And I think that there should be maybe some stipulation in there that say no matter what gender you are, there's qualifications. And that would probably help things a little bit more with that. Certainly putting Fort Worth on the map.
 
Q. You told us last year how special it was to become a two time winner of the event. How special would it be to win it back to back?
 
NICK PRICE: Yeah. I thought about that the last couple days, especially when I've been playing. But every time you try and think like that, you try to put it out of your mind and don't get caught up. Because you think, hey, I'm playing well and I have a shot this week. I got to stand on the first tee and be as focused as I was on the first tee Sunday at the Byron Nelson. And in this game you're only as good as the week you're playing. Unfortunately. So you, everything, every thought that I have about winning will go out of my head by the time I tee it up on Thursday. But I would love to win this tournament three times. I really would.
 
Q. In your mind are there not enough courses like this on Tour or are there enough courses that they just elect to not play them?
 
NICK PRICE: Well you bring up an interesting point because we have had several meetings with the commissioner, a lot of the players and the board with regard to what's happening to the golf courses and what are we going to do. And I, it seems like the consensus that's come back is the fact that we need a mix so that we don't just all play one type of golf course year round. That we have the ability to play courses that are 7400 yards as well as courses that are 6900 yards. You don't want the game to get too one dimensional. And as I said last week in the press conference, there's two players who I think would be great players, Luke Donald and Trevor Immelmann from South Africa. And they're both five eight, not the biggest, tallest guys in the world, but I've played and watched them play both of them and they are great, very talented players. And I would hate to see their type of player be taken out of the game just because they don't drive the ball 300 yards. As I've said before, this has always been the ultimate game of David versus Goliath where you have guys who are extremely long hitters of the ball play against guys who don't hit the ball that far. And that's the greatest thing about this game. Size does not always matter. And sure, we're athletes and we're everything, but golf is a different type of game. You have got the power off the tee and then you got the feel around the greens. If you make too much power off the tee, the feel around the greens is irrelevant. So I think there's going to be, we're going to see in the future that there's going to be a balance in the golf courses we play.
 
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: I would be remiss if I didn't ask you to comment on the fact that you were recently elected to the World Golf of Fame. Can you share your thoughts on that?
 
NICK PRICE: That's probably the highest honor that could be bestowed on someone. To have been elected there. It means an awful lot to me. I have thought about it obviously the last couple of years when my friends, some of my peers started getting in. But it still was a surprise when the commissioner phoned me and told me that I was in. And actually in the last three weeks it's sunk in and it really, it means so much to me and my family and also to the people who helped me along the way to get to where I am. Because you don't get to be a top player in any sport if you don't get help from people and advice. And I've certainly had some wonderful people along the road who have helped me tremendously and steered me in the right direction, given me good advice. Just so many people. So I'm not only proud from that point from my point, part of it, but for them as well. Because I think that they also feel and rightly so, that they're, that they're a part of me. And a part of my success. So it was a huge day for me when Commissioner Finchem told me.
 
Q. You mentioned the importance of qualifying for these tournaments and earlier you mentioned that in a way Annika hasn't proven herself. She feels that with all of her accomplishments on the ladies TOUR that she's earned her exemption. Is there any merit to that in your mind?
 
NICK PRICE: We'll find out on Saturday, Sunday. I think that's probably the best thing. We'll find out.
 
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Nick Price. Thank you very much. Good luck this week.
 
NICK PRICE: Thanks.