2001 US Open - Nick Price News Conference Transcript
Q. Nick, the last time you were here to play, it seems like Tulsa summers have been fighting an air quality problem. We seem to stay off the dirty air list by a few inches, it seems like. Considering your history of sinus problems, do you prepare differently or do you do anything different for a tournament like this?
NICK PRICE: Knock on wood, since '96, I haven't had much problem, because I'm aware of what my problem is. I have a constriction in my one sinus up here, and if I have an allergy or if I get a head cold, if that constricts, then I get an infection. The nasal sprays that I've been taking, and I take them regularly, has really helped that quite a lot. So I just guess it's something -- I never had allergies until I came to America, but they're quite common over here. And this time of year -- in fact, Augusta time is normally the worst time for me, because of the pollen off the pine trees. So right now, I haven't suffered at all.
Q. Nick, how do you make sure the heat doesn't catch up with you, if it stays this way during the course of the week, and does it affect your day-to-day routine?
NICK PRICE: Well, not really, because I think most of us who play over here full-time are used to this kind of heat. In fact, it doesn't matter where you go in summertime in America. You're going to be -- it's going to be hot and humid. And most of us who have played over here know what to do: Drink a lot of water. You start drinking a lot of water before you even get to the course, before you even get out on your round. But I think that the weather, the biggest factor with the weather is going to be how to fix the golf course. If you have this dry wind and the sunshine that we're having now, it's going to dry those greens out and make them firm and very, very fast. And with the wind as hot as it is, taking all the moisture out of the greens, it's going to be a big disadvantage playing late in the day, because those greens are going to probably get a foot, foot and a half, maybe two feet faster on the Stimpmeter, plus being firmer. It makes your target that much smaller. So everyone out here is fit. Everyone out here can play 18 holes in any kind of heat. And I think the slow play, we know it's going to be slow out there. There's going to be guys who do take a lot of time, and guys who are slow players are going to slow the whole field up. And there will probably be five-and-a-half-hour rounds out there. So it's not something we're unaccustomed to.
Q. You talked about the course changes, Nick. What are the changes in your game since '94?
NICK PRICE: Where do you want me to start? (Laughs.) Well, I came here in '94 probably at the pinnacle of my career. There's no doubt having come here winning back-to-back majors, and getting to No. 1 in the rankings. There were so many great things that happened to me that week. More than anything else, though, was coming to a major championship and absolutely dominating. I think that was -- that's the one thing I recall the most about that '94 PGA, and coming off a summer of just having played just so, so very well. My game is not far away from where it was, but there's something missing somewhere. I can't quite put my finger on it, whether it's the intensity, whether it's the desire, whether it's the inability to focus as well as I did. I'm not sure. But I feel like from tee-to-green, my game is more consistent, and in that I don't hit as many loose shots as I did back then. But my putting is probably the one thing that isn't as strong. On a scale of 1 to 10, my putting in '94 was a 9. Now I'm putting at about a 7, which I've always felt I've got to putt at about 8, 8 1/2 to win. And that's the difference, I think. Plus, I'm seven years older.
Q. Nick, considering Tiger's domination of these events the last couple of years, do you get any sense at all that some guys are just saying 'let's go for second'?
NICK PRICE: I doubt it. That's something you'd have to ask them. But my opinion, no. I think Tiger is well aware and would be the first one to admit or to tell you guys that he has to play well to win. The question is, when he plays well, can anyone beat him. There are a few guys out there that can. But I would say this: You can probably count them on one hand right now. When he plays really well, he doesn't seem to make that many mistakes. And when the other guys are playing well, they make a few mistakes. They have to stop making those mistakes, if they're going to challenge him. But what he did at this Championship last year at Pebble Beach, I don't think we've ever seen golf played like that before. He absolutely annihilated that golf course. What he did to the rest of the field was part and parcel of what he did to the golf course, as far as I'm concerned. It just shows his ability, his mental toughness, and he's got a -- he drives the ball far and straight. He hits beautiful, long irons. And around the greens from 20 yards in, there aren't very many players out here who are as good as he is. And when you couple all those factors with his mental discipline and his intensity and his drive, it makes a very formidable opponent. There are a few guys out there that can beat him, and I think he's aware of that. But he's going to have to play well.
Q. Nick, in '94 Crenshaw came into this press room and described you as a player in full flight. He said you were involved in the best ball-striking since Byron Nelson in the '40s. Obviously, that applies to Tiger Woods. Can you talk about maintaining that excellence as it applied to you, and how it might be different as it applies to Tiger?
NICK PRICE: Well, I've always felt that golf is a game of momentum, and taking the momentum from one good week over to the next week, and so on. And that's what Tiger seems to be able to do so well. When you look at the way that he's running his schedule right now, the amount of tournaments he's playing in, not playing overseas as much as maybe someone else who would be in that situation would, he's pacing himself so well. He's focused totally on the Majors. It looks like he works his schedule around the major championships, which is what Jack Nicklaus and so many great players have done over the years. They want to try to peak their games for major championships, and he has that uncanny knack of being unable -- being able to do that, as we've seen in the last seven, eight majors that he's played in. When you have that momentum and you have confidence in your ability -- plus the fact I think he and Steve Williams make such a great pair out there. They kind of feed off each other. If you watch the way they work together on the golf course, their caddy/player relationship is a very strong one. If you see what Tiger has done since he's had Steve Williams on the bag, I believe Steve has had a huge effect on Tiger in that respect. But you take those factors and you put them together, you've seen the result. It still surprises us. But when you see him play the game day-in and day-out and the shots he hits under pressure, and the pressure that he puts on his opponents when he hits those shots, it's phenomenal. The guy seems to be able to spot that weak moment in his -- with one of his adversaries, and just hits a great shot. And he's just done it so many times now. And I don't know how to explain it. I mean, I've never seen anyone like him in all the years that I've been playing golf. We always said someone was going to come out here and drive the ball 300 yards, in the middle of the fairway; and hit high, long, irons, like most guys hit wedges; and putt the eyes out. And he's doing it. He's going to win a lot of majors, no doubt about it.
NICK PRICE: Squeeky and I had a great relationship. In fact, Ricci Roberts who caddied for me the last two years, went back to work for Ernie. Because I said to Ernie in April, I said, 'You know, when you have that caddy/player relationship, and that chemistry, it doesn't come along that often.' And no disrespect for any other caddies that worked for Ernie, but you've got to have that chemistry. I think a lot of great players have had that chemistry with their caddies over the years. And sometimes it's one shot on the back nine that can determine whether you come first or third. And that one shot might be a little chip shot, it might be a bad club, it might be reading the way the ball comes out of a flying lie in the rough. It could be a break on the green. It could be anything. But that one shot, be it destructive, be it a great shot, makes all the difference. And you just have a look at the way Steve and Tiger work together. I think there's a mutual respect there. I think Tiger respects Steve and his opinions, because Steve's an exceptionally good caddy. And obviously, Steve respects Tiger for his ability to hit the shots when he needs to, and he's always very quick to praise Tiger. If you listen to him, he says, 'Great shot.' When you're playing well, that's what you want to hear from your caddy. You want to hear that, because that's the guy -- the crowds and the galleries don't really know what kind of shot you've got to play. But if you normally draw the ball and you've got to hit a high cut with a 3-iron, and you hit the shot, you want your caddy to say that's a great shot. Tiger is constantly pumped up by Steve.
Q. Nick, it was a little strange not to have Jack Nicklaus around here this week, and also you played with his son today. How is Gary coping?
NICK PRICE: I have to tell you one thing, Jack and Greg Norman and myself all keep our planes in the same hanger in Palm Beach. When I left yesterday, their two planes were in the hanger, and I cannot tell you how strange a feeling that is for me. For two guys -- one was an idol of mine, and the other is still a very good friend of mine. To come to a U.S. Open and not see them here, that's -- it's just strange. 25 years I haven't seen that -- or 20 years. What was the second part of your question, about Gary?
Q. How he's coping with being Jack's son, the pressure that brings?
NICK PRICE: Looking at Gary, Gary is Gary Nicklaus, not Jack's son. And I think that's one of the reasons why -- he's his own person. I think there's a lot of pressure that some people put on him and expect him to do well, but he's learning to play the game really well. If he can get through his first couple of years on Tour and keep his card, I think he'll mature into a really nice player.
Q. Nick, it took you a couple of years to kind of break through and get your first major title. So I'm sure you can empathize with David and Phil, what they've gone through. Do you find it amazing that those guys have not been able to win a major? Is it just because you have a guy out here like Tiger winning them all, the reason they haven't won a major?
NICK PRICE: I started panicking when I got to my mid-30's, that was when I really started worrying a little bit -- worrying a lot whether I was going to win a major championship. Then in '92, when I was 35, I won my first one. Both Phil and David haven't quite got to that age yet, but they've both had numerous chances, but you're a very fortunate person, indeed, if you get in the hunt in your first major and win it. That doesn't happen too often. And I think you're seeing those guys are both -- it's steeling them up. It's making them harder guys, harder people -- not in a bad sense, but when they get under the gun, more determined. Certainly the disappointment on David Duval's face at Augusta was very evident. And every one that goes by that you have a chance and you don't win, it puts more pressure on you. And I don't know, they've just got to perservere. They've just got to keep knocking on the door, and hopefully it will open. They're two extremely good players, and I think it's just a matter of time. But I'm sure it's very frustrating for them right now.
Q. My question was kind of like that, too. How badly did you want to win that first major before you actually did it? How badly did you want it?
NICK PRICE: How bad did I want it? Well, after '88 at Lytham, the next day, on the Tuesday, because we had a Monday finish at Lytham, I sat back and I thought to myself, 'I don't know if I'm ever going to win a major.' I've had the chance in '82. The '85 PGA I had a chance, '86 Masters. And then the '88 British Open I played so well tee-to-green and I came up second, and I started questioning. I said, 'Am I ever going to win one of these things?' And the determination that I had inside of me then, I think if you could have measured it in some form or fashion, I was going to win one. And it took me another four years. But I just felt that I was going to win one. If you see the way that I played at PGA at Bellerive, the back nine on Sunday, you can think back, look back to that '88 British Open and that's where it really matured or -- it was really coming out in me. It was tough. I can empathize with other guys, David and Phil, because they are playing well. And they both want to win majors very badly, but it's a tough deal when you play well and you're not winning one. That, 'the best player never to win a major' is the worst tag you can get put on you.
Q. You referred to Pebble Beach last year. How likely do you think it is that something like that can happen, if not this year, but a semi-regular basis with this guy?
NICK PRICE: I guess I'll never be surprised in golf again, after having seen what Tiger has done. And I think you've got to look back to the college kids and the young teenagers now who are watching what Tiger is doing and saying. For the longest time for us, that kind of thing didn't happen too often. I only wanted to win a major championship by one stroke, and you would play that way. If you were in the lead and you had a chance, you would play that way. But what he's doing now, as we all know is he's raising the bar, and the youngsters are seeing that. And the sky's the limit. It's like there are no more rules in golf anymore, and that's changing golf tremendously. And I think one of the things -- and I'm going to go back to this -- because I really believe it is the equipment issue. I think the equipment issue is changing the game phenomenally. If you had to look at it in a percentage scale over the last, say, 20 years of why the players are so much better than their counterparts 20 years ago, I'd have to say ten percent of it is like physical conditioning, ten percent of it is maybe knowledge of their golf swings, working with video cameras. When I was a youngster, we never had video cameras. Having the ability to have a shutter speed on a video camera that's 3,000 frames per second and can freeze the club on the downswing, can teach you a lot and help you with your swing. And Charlie Howell, he's worked with David Leadbetter since nine years old; he's swinging a club efficiently. Ten percent, 15 percent perhaps now is on course agronomy. The courses are conditioned so much better. And the balance is the ball and the driver, I guarantee you. I'd love to see some of the guys on the range now with wooden drivers, because you just cannot swing the club as hard with a wooden driver as you can with these new ones, because the old sweet spot on the wooden driver was the size of a pea. Now it's the size of a peach and you can't miss. It makes a big difference. So that's one of the reasons -- it equates to guys hitting more fairways, hitting the ball further. When you put players the caliber of this tournament and this championship in the fairway more often, they're going to make more birdies.
Q. You're just missing something, you talked about. Is it you have one major and then you have another major, and you've talked about working up to this, then the goals, what comes after that? What kind of goals do you set? You get to the top of this mountain, and then you've done all this stuff, and you're in your 40's now.
NICK PRICE: Well, just the love of the game, more than anything else, I suppose. And not to get away from your point, but I can remember going to Bay Hill one year and watching Arnold Palmer on the practice tee -- this was probably ten years ago. He was 58, 60 years old and he had played just in front of me, went and had lunch, came out and hitting balls, and he walked up and down the range the whole afternoon, looking at everyone's bag, pulling out the clubs, hitting a couple of shots. I thought, 'What is he doing out here? Why is he still out here?' Then I realized this guy loves the game so much, he's got the option to do anything else in the world that he wants to, but he loves playing golf, he loves being out on the practice tee and he loves to hit balls. He loves to fiddle with golf clubs. He's probably changing shafts in his workshop as we speak. That's what he's done all his life. It dawned on me that this guy loves the game. I do love the game. I don't know if I love it as much as he does. To me, it's a challenge. And as long as it's still a challenge and I have the ability to come out and compete and win, I'll stay out here. As soon as I feel that diminishes or falls off, I will be fishing, believe me. I'm not going to stay out here to try to make cuts, because I've done all that in my life. And I've got a young family, so I'll end up spending more time with them. To be honest with you, it's self-motivation, trying to lengthen my career as long as I can, and have the ability to win in a major championship in my 40's.
Even with broken driver, Salinda beats Hagestad at U.S. Am
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – With a trip to the U.S. Amateur quarterfinals on the line, and with the Pacific Ocean staring him in the face, Isaiah Salinda piped a 330-yard drive down Pebble Beach’s 18th hole.
Not a bad poke with a replacement driver.
Salinda’s Round of 16 match against Stewart Hagestad got off to a rocky start Thursday afternoon with an awkward tee shot on the second hole.
“The ball came out weird, with no spin,” said Salinda’s caddie and former Stanford teammate, Bradley Knox. “He said, ‘Yeah, that felt weird.’”
Salinda looked at the bottom of his Callaway Epic driver and noticed a crack.
Worried that they'd have to play the rest of the round with only a 3-wood, Knox called a Callaway equipment rep, told him the issue, and was relieved to hear he'd meet them at the back of the third tee. Salinda teed off the next hole with a 3-wood – he’d taken driver there all week – and wound up in a tricky spot, on the side of a mound, leading to a bogey.
“Then they came over and cranked the driver,” Knox said. “It was like a NASCAR pit crew.”
The replacement driver was nearly identical – same head, same loft, same weighting – except for the lie angle. The new one was a degree flatter than his gamer, which led to a few more pulled shots than usual.
“It took a little while to recover the mindset that we’d had the rest of the week,” Knox said.
Salinda downplayed the equipment malfunction – “I just had to adjust, and it wasn’t really a problem” – but he didn’t play well early. After trailing for just one hole during his first two matches, he was 4 over par and 2 down through 10 holes against Hagestad, the 2017 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion who’d finally made match play after eight previous failed attempts.
On 11, Salinda finally got going, stuffing a wedge shot to 10 feet and recording his first birdie. He followed with three clutch pars before another good approach on 15, leading to a conceded birdie to square the match.
On the home hole, Salinda bombed his drive about 30 yards past Hagestad and had 220 yards to the flag. It was a perfect 4-iron distance, and he sent a rocket into a blinding sunset.
“I never saw it,” Salinda said. “I told my caddie: ‘Where is that? I have no idea.’ But it felt good.”
A lone voice shrieked as the ball landed on the green. They knew the shot had to be tight. Years ago, Stanford senior Chris Meyers had made an albatross on 18 for a walkoff victory with Lee Janzen at the PGA Tour Champions’ First Tee Open. Knox thought they’d come close to duplicating the feat.
“Probably almost had a Chris Meyers,” Knox said, chuckling, as they walked up the fairway.
The shot never had a chance to drop – turns out the spectator was well-lubricated – but it still was only 35 feet away, for eagle. Salinda cozied his putt to a few feet and could only watch as Hagestad’s last-ditch 25-footer stopped a rotation short of the cup.
The Round of 16 victory continued a breakout summer for Salinda. His 15th-place showing at the NCAA Championship kick-started a three-month stretch in which he’s finally taken his game to the next level.
“He’s shown flashes of brilliance before,” Knox said, “and he’s had the game. But now he has the consistency and the confidence that it’ll come back time and time again.”
Salinda shot 62 in the third round and won the Pacific Coast Amateur, which boasts one of the strongest fields of the summer. Then he finished third in stroke play at the Western Amateur before a quarterfinal loss in match play.
Now he’s one step closer to his biggest victory yet – even with a backup driver.
Salas (62) leads LPGA's Indy Women in Tech
INDIANAPOLIS - Lizette Salas' waited 77 minutes to line up her 4-foot putt to take the lead Thursday at the Indy Women in Tech Championship.
She refused to let the weather delay get to her.
When the 29-year-old California player returned to the course, she quickly rolled in the birdie putt, finished her round with another birdie at No. 18 and took a two-shot lead over Angel Yin and Nasa Hataoka with a course record-tying 10-under 62.
''I didn't even think about it the entire time,'' Salas said. ''I was hanging out with Danielle (Kang) and she was giving me her silly dad jokes. So it definitely kept my mind off of it. I was really excited to be back and to finish off with a birdie, from off the green, was the icing on the cake.''
It's the lowest score by a female player at the Brickyard Crossing.
Defending champion Lexi Thompson opened last year's inaugural tournament with a 63, one shot off of Mike McCullough's 62 in the PGA Champions Tour's 1999 Comfort Classic.
But the way the saturated 6,456-yard course played Thursday, Salas needed virtually every putt of her career-best round to reach the top of the leaderboard.
The morning starters took advantage of overnight rain by shooting right at the pins.
And nobody made a bigger early splash than Yin, the 19-year-old Californian who finished second in last year's rookie of the year race.
She opened with five straight birdies and shot 8-under 28 on the front nine. Only a par on No. 6 prevented her from becoming the sixth LPGA player to shoot 27 on nine holes. South Korea's Mi Hyang Lee did it most recently at the 2016 JTBC Founders Cup.
Yin also tied the third-lowest nine-hole score in relation to par in tour history.
Her only bobble came with a bogey on No. 13 and she closed out her best career round with a birdie on No. 18.
''I have never done that before,'' she said. ''I had nine putts, I think, on the front nine, which is incredible. I've never had that many little putts. But it just felt good. Everything was working.''
Last year's runner-up for rookie of the year has never won an LPGA Tour title in her home country though she did win in a playoff at Dubai on the Ladies European Tour.
Everybody seemed to find their groove Thursday.
Eighty-eight of the 143 players shot under par and 54 were 3-under or better.
And with more rain in the forecast Thursday night and Friday, the scores could go even lower as a star-studded cast chases down Salas, Yin and Hataoka.
Four players, including Kang and Jane Park, are three shots behind.
Seven players, including last year's tournament runner-up Lydia Ko, are four shots back. Ko was tied with Yin for the lead - until she knocked her tee shot on the par-4, 16th into the water. She wound up with a double bogey and birdied the final hole to finish with 66.
After taking a monthlong break to recover from physical and mental exhaustion, Thompson looked relaxed and comfortable in her return to the course. She shot 68.
''It was hard for me to take the break because I didn't want to show weakness,'' she said. ''But at the same time, it takes a lot of strength to acknowledge that you need that kind of break and just take time for yourself, especially when you're in the spotlight like this.''
Salas, meanwhile, started fast with an eagle on the par-5 second and finished with a flurry.
She birdied three straight holes on the front side to get to 5-under, added birdies at Nos. 12 and 14 to get to 7-under and then birdied the final three holes - around the approaching storm - to put herself in contention for her first title since the 2014 Kingsmill Championship.
''I have been just striking the ball really well this entire year, and just glad some more putts dropped today,'' she said. ''I was really refreshed. I didn't practice at all last week, and I was just really eager and excited to be back.''
Sordet opens with 62 to grab lead at Nordea Masters
GOTHENBURG, Sweden - Clement Sordet opened with four straight birdies to shoot 8-under 62 and take the first-round lead of the Nordea Masters on Thursday.
Sordet says ''I wasn't really focusing on the score, I was just enjoying it.''
The Frenchman, who shot his lowest European Tour round, has a two-stroke lead over Scott Jamieson of Scotland and Lee Slattery of England.
Hunter Stewart is the highest-placed American after a 5-under 65 left him on a four-way tie for fourth with Christofer Blomstrand, Tapio Pulkkanen and Richard Green.
Defending champion Renato Paratore's hopes of becoming the first player to successfully retain the title look in doubt after the Italian shot 9-over 79 at Hills Golf Club.
Peterson confirms plans to play Web.com Finals
After flirting with retirement for much of the summer, John Peterson confirmed that he will give it one more shot in the upcoming Web.com Tour Finals.
Peterson, 29, had planned to walk away from the game and begin a career in real estate in his native Texas if he failed to secure PGA Tour status before his medical extension expired. His T-13 finish last month at The Greenbrier appeared to be enough to net the former NCAA champ at least conditional status, but a closer look at the numbers revealed he missed out by 0.58 points in his last available start.
But Peterson was buoyed by the support he received from his peers at The Greenbrier, and when he got into the Barbasol Championship as a late alternate he decided to make the trip to the tournament. He tied for 21st that week in Kentucky, clinching enough non-member FedExCup points to grant him a spot in the four-event Finals.
Last month Peterson hinted that he would consider playing in the Finals, where 25 PGA Tour cards for the 2018-19 season will be up for grabs, and Thursday he confirmed in an Instagram post that he will give his pro career "one last push."
The Finals kick off next week in Ohio with the Nationwide Children's Hospital Championship and will conclude Sept. 20-23 with the Web.com Tour Championship. Peterson will be looking to rekindle his results from 2013, when he finished T-5 or better at each of the four Finals events while earning fully-exempt status as the top money earner.