FORT WORTH, Texas - The last time Mr. Nick Price was in Fort Worth was 2004, and he returned on Thursday night to be receive the Distinguished Sportsman Award from Colonial Country Club. He is 57, looks great, sounds good, and remains one of the most congenial, professional, polite and humble professional athletes any generation could produce.
He was nice enough to answer some uncomfortable questions, which aren't too uncomfortable.
Ben Hogan died in 1997, and the more time that passes the more stories of his fade; what do you remember about him? I signed with the Ben Hogan company in 1984. I got to spend some time with Mr. Hogan. We went to lunch. I can't tell you how nice he was to me. He was a lot like those in that era - you got back what you gave. If you were courteous, and listened to when he spoke - he was misinterpreted a lot. On the course, he was focused and he could be very offhandish to people. That's what he was like on the course. I never saw that saw that side
I had a few dinners with him at Shady Oaks, and saw him a few times at Colonial. I went out of my way to say hello to. As a young golfer, I met a lot and Arnold Palmer and Ben Hogan were the two people I was the most nervous to meet. You could give me the Queen of England and the President of the United States, but these two. I knew more about them when I was 14 or 15 than the President. I read their books and they were icons to me. Jack Nicklaus was right there, but when we were 18 we all wanted to be Arnold Palmer. Or Ben Hogan.
Do you think you would have had the type of success you had in the '90s in today's game? I have no reserveration we would have adapted. We adapt to the equipment we were given. If you gave Hogan, or Palmer the same equipment, they would have gone to the top.
When you handle this equipment today, do you think I wish I had this when I was 25? No, because my whole game and I was forged by the equipment I was using. When it changed, it left me behind.
Seriously? I was in my 40s. I think if we had all wooden drivers or metals, I would have played better for longer.
Is the PGA Tour still Tiger centric, and is he driving the bus? He will be driving the bus for a few more years. You have more guys coming in the wings. Rory McIlroy will do wonderful things. These guys have to win. That's what Tiger did.
Can a player win like he did? Sure, but I never thought we'd see someone like Tiger Woods. I never thought we'd see a Jack Nicklaus. Someone will. The problem now is there is more media, more focus, and they can't play as much as we could, the same for the era before us. There are more distractions now. It's busy. It will be harder, but there will be a guy that comes along and beats the pants off everybody like Tiger.
At one point were you no longer able to play the type of golf you were accustomed because of age? It was 2005. The equipment left me behind.
It was the equipment, not your body? Yes. Two years ago, before my injury, I could play well on the right length course.
What is your definition of not playing well? I had elbow surgery and had to take 14 months off break. When you are 55, that is not a good thing.
Do you miss playing? I miss playing well. I love playing. It's great fun to play in shorts without a scorecard with your buddies. If you hit it in the woods, you just let it go.
What else do you do for fun? Fishing and bird shooting. I got into that back home in Zimbabwe.
Do you ever go back to Zimbabwe? I haven't been back since 2007. It's not good. South Africa is doing OK, but Zimbabwe is terrible. It's a nightmare. Robert Mugabe has been our president for the last 30 years and he's just a bandit of the highest order.
You like golf in the Olympics? Love it. I think it will be fantastic for the kids, when they are 6 or 7 and 8. They will always know golf in the Olympics. For the older guys, it will be a little bit of an adjustment.
Favorite course to play? Wow ... that's a good question. Probably the 18th at St. Andrews. There was so much, you walk over that bridge and it was such a humbling experience. There were so many golfers before you - on the stone work on the bridge you could see spike marks. It's an amazing course.
Course that made you mad? Augusta. It was really hard for me. When we played, there was never any rough. When I played, my strength was my driving and iron. Iron play there, you could get the ball close to the hole but they put the pin on shelves, which made it so difficult. You would have to putt 30 footers all day. I was never long enough to dominate the par 5s. And those greens. It was very difficult course for me to win on.
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