Nick Price and the Thrill of Winning the Open
Nick Price, the former No. 1 player in the world, won the P.G.A. Championship in 1992 and 1994, but it was his victory in the ’94 British Open at Turnberry in Scotland that stands out.
While playing the 71st hole, a par 5, Price of Zimbabwe felt he needed a birdie to give himself a chance. He did better than that. He got an eagle, knocking in a 50-footer, and went on to win by a stroke over Jesper Parnevik of Sweden.
Price, 66, speaking by phone from his home in Florida, reflected recently on his Open triumph and why it was so special. The conversation has been edited and condensed.
Where do you place your victory at Turnberry?
Having been second twice, in 1982 and in 1988, it was something I really wanted badly. It’s the first major championship I ever watched on TV. It meant the most to me.
What are the challenges facing the players at Royal Liverpool?
I think your normal links golf. One of the real keys to links golf is to hit the ball straight. Tom Watson, who was always a master of the links courses, that was his philosophy. He said it doesn’t really matter if you miss hit the ball or whatever, but if you hit it straight you can play a links course, and no truer words were spoken.
What was the Open you first watched?
In 1969, when Tony Jacklin won at Royal Lytham. We didn’t have live TV in those days. The tobacco companies used to have all of these 16-millimeter films that they used to bring to the golf clubs. They would do two showings, one on a Friday night and one on a Saturday night. I can remember sitting on the floor at the golf course in the main lounge in front of the screen watching with two or three buddies. It was such an eye-opening thing. I didn’t know you could make money playing professional golf.
What was the key to your win?
The putt on 17 was huge, but I birdied the 16th hole, which really put me in a position to win. I played the hole absolutely perfect. I hit a driver down there so I could get my 60-degree sand wedge on it, which I had the most amount of spin with. I used a little bit of a slope behind the pin as a backboard and drew the ball back off the slope to about 15 feet and holed a very difficult left-to-right, downhill putt.
What about Bernhard Langer recently setting the record for most wins as a senior?
What amazes me about him is the desire. He still has the desire. For many of us who have stepped aside or retired, he’s just an amazing human being.
You’re only seven months older. Can you imagine yourself doing what he is doing?
No. I had an injury that put me on the downhill toward retirement in 2012. But even so, if I hadn’t that, I probably wouldn’t be playing as much — a few events, but not like he does.
You were never fired up about the senior tour anyway, were you?
Not really. I went flat out on the regular tour until I was 50, so I was at a little bit of burnout on my first three of four years on the Champions Tour. It didn’t inspire me.
What is your biggest regret?
I would have liked to have come to America earlier. Over here my progress accelerated a lot more. I should have come at the end of 1980 instead of 1983.
When you play with friends these days, what motivates you?
The love of the game, that’s what it comes down to. I have to keep moving my goals. It’s not what it was. Yesterday, I shot 71. I broke par. I’m playing from the second set of tees, a course about 6,700 yards. It’s still fun for me and especially with the guys I play with. I try to be selective about the courses I play. I only like to play courses I enjoy playing. That’s one of the things you can be when you get to my age.
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