Jack Nicklaus Press Conference
JOE GOODE: One of the ways the USGA works for the good of the game is by preserving, interpreting and celebrating golf history, which is at the very heart of this morning's program.
Good morning, my name is Joe Goode, Managing Director of Communications for the USGA. And I'd like to welcome you to a very special USGA announcement, which celebrates the 50 plus career and accomplishments of Jack Nicklaus and his truly enduring connection to the U.S. Open.
I'd like to introduce USGA President Glen Nager.
GLEN NAGER: Thank you, and thank you for coming. Particularly, we welcome our special guest, 4 time U.S. Open champion, Jack Nicklaus.
Fifty years ago, Mr. Nicklaus defeated Arnold Palmer in a thrilling playoff at Oakmont Country Club to win his first professional event and his first major, the 1962 U.S. Open.
The victory was more than the crowning of a new national champion, which is something we do every year. This time it was a seminal moment in golf history, marking the arrival of a champion for the ages and the beginning of a new and exciting era in the game.
Today we meet for three reasons: First, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this championship with a documentary called 1962 U.S. Open, Jack's First Major. It's the first film ever produced by the USGA for network television and we enlisted Emmy Award winning producer, Ross Greenburg to co‑produce this film with the USGA Museum.
This hour long film will debut in the U.S. on Sunday at 2 p.m. eastern time, prior to final round coverage. Let's watch a short clip from Jack's first major.
Ross Greenburg is here with us today. We'd like to again thank him for his incredible work and collaboration on this film.
Arnold Palmer said we didn't realize how great Jack Nicklaus would be. Well, he went on to win 18 professional Majors, including four U.S. Opens, a record that he shares with Willie Andersen, Bob Jones and Ben Hogan. And while those wins are impressive enough, the breadth of Jack's U.S. Open record is truly staggering.
In 44 consecutive championships, a record for the most played, Jack had four runner up finishes in addition to his four wins, 11 top five finishes, and 18 top 10 finishes.
He still holds a share of the 18‑hole scoring record and he set the 72 hole scoring record two different times.
But just as importantly, and throughout his incredible career, Jack has always displayed the kind of integrity, sportsmanship and respect, both for the game and for his fellow competitors that distinguishes golf from other sports.
For more than six decades Jack Nicklaus has been one of golf's greatest ambassadors, embodying golf's timeless values and acting as a role model for generations of golfers and fans. He's the quintessential U.S. Open champion. And for that reason the USGA is proud to announce today that the medal that we present to the winner every year will be renamed in his honor as the Jack Nicklaus Medal.
This gold medal dates to the first U.S. Open in 1895, when Horace Rollins received the coveted prize. Since then the design and medal, which have not had a formal name, have evolved and now the U.S. champion will receive the Nicklaus Medal, which will incorporate a silhouette of the four time U.S. Open champion in its design and represents a fitting capstone to his U.S. Open legacy.
Jack, if I could ask you and Mike Davis to come up here we'd like to present you with the medal.
JACK NICKLAUS: It's really pretty. Somebody's on the back (laughter). We had a little fun with it. The first time it came back it look like I needed a hair cut, so we got one.
GLEN NAGER: I'd like Mike Davis, our Executive Director, to come up and make our last announcement honoring Mr. Nicklaus.
MIKE DAVIS: Good morning, everybody. Jack, I certainly can't think, and I know I speak on behalf of the entire USGA group, to say there's just simply not another player whose name is more fitting for the U.S. Open medal, which, by the way, as of today is known as the Nicklaus Medal, forevermore than you. It is great to have your likeness on there, your name associated with it, and we're just so proud.
In addition to the things that the USGA does, like conducting national championships, being involved in the various governance functions we're involved with, one of the most important things that we do and have done is to preserve the history of the game. And we do that through the USGA Museum.
And interestingly, the USGA Museum, which is located in Far Hills, NJ, which used to be in New York City, is this country's oldest sports museum. And to this day it certainly serves as the world's premier institution for preservation, study and really education of our game of golf.
Some of the items, for those of you who have been there before, have probably seen, of the thousands of things that we have in there, we've got Bob Jones's Calamity Jane putter, we have Alan Shepard's moon club. And even last year we got that great 6‑iron shot that Rory McIlroy played to the 10th green on the final round. He donated that. Just some great things celebrating the game, the history of what's happened in the United States. And certainly you heard some from Glen Nager, some of the wonderful things that Jack has done in his career as a player, we know about his wonderful career and continued career as a golf designer, and since the time that Jack's been playing, what a wonderful ambassador he's been for the game and continues to be for the game. How he conducted himself on the golf course and continues to give back to the game today.
So in light of all that I'm honored today on behalf of the USGA Executive Committee, the more than 300 staff we have, the 1,200 volunteers and also the some 700,000 USGA members around the United States, to announce that we're going to be building a new addition to the museum. It's going to basically be the Jack Nicklaus Room. We already have a Bob Jones Room. We have a Ben Hogan Room, we have an Arnold Palmer Room, and just recently we announced the great Mickey Wright has a room, and we have her artifacts there. And it's just so fitting to honor the game's greatest player in Far Hills, New Jersey.
This is going to be a roughly 24 month project. We hope to break ground sometime next summer with an opening in the spring of 2015. It will contain artifacts, really relating in large part to what Jack's done and all his successes in the U.S. Open championships. The '62, the '67, the '72 and the 1980 Opens, you'll see significant artifacts from there. But also his two U.S. Amateur wins in '59 and '61. As well as when he dusted the field in 1960 at the World Amateur Team Championship and he won a couple of U.S. Senior Opens.
Then there will be things in there about Jack's architectural career. There will also be things ‑‑ Jack Nicklaus Library. A lot of things Jack has written, the articles over the years, and the many things written about Jack will be there.
So we're so excited. We're honored to have Jack in Far Hills with us and with that I'd ask both Jack and Glen to come up and we're going to unveil this. Although looking through these earlier, I think you have a sense of what's coming. We didn't hide these so well.
Here's the room here, and as you can see, this is the back of the museum. And this will be the new Nicklaus addition to the USGA museum. It will be about the size of the Ben Hogan Room. The Ben Hogan Room sits under the first floor of this building, here.
And you can see kind of a water color rendering there of what the contents will be inside. It will be really focused on, as I say, Jack's career as what he's done in USGA championships and his architectural career. And also what he's done with other Majors and champions. We're going to have Jack say a few words now. I'm sure he'll be happy to take questions.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, kind of neat, isn't it? Take an old guy and honor him. I think that's pretty nice. It's pretty humbling and meaningful, these honors, both the medal and the museum. I appreciate that.
I go back to my start with USGA events. I had the 7:00 starting time in the Junior Championship at Southern Hills in 1953. I was 13 years old. I was the youngest player in the championship. There was three of us that were 13 years old at that time.
I'll never forget walking up on the first tee, about 30 seconds before my starting time, and on the tee was Joe Dey and Colonel Lee S. Reed in his white suit with his little goatee. He looked like the Kentucky Fried Chicken guy. But anyway, he was a starter, from Louisville.
I walked on the tee about 30 seconds before I teed off and Joe Dey said, "Young man, 30 seconds later you'll be starting the second tee, 1‑down." That was my introduction to USGA golf. I promise you, I was never late for a starting time.
But I've always loved playing in USGA championships. I've played in 71 USGA events. That's a lot of events, considering we've only got one or two a year of different kinds and most of the times it's one a year, because you're playing an Amateur or Junior or Senior or regular Open or whatever it might be.
But it was kind of neat, every time, as I grew up, I always loved what Joe Dey did to a golf course. And that was carried out through the years by the USGA, as Mike is doing today. I always felt it was the complete and proper examination for the level of tournament that they were playing.
We played the juniors, we expected the fairways to be a little bit narrower, and the rough to be modest, the greens to be fast, but not ridiculously firm.
And then as we moved to the Amateur it graduated up a little bit, a little narrower, and a little bit more rough.
As we got to The Open obviously we end up with a complete examination of where you had to be able to drive the ball perfectly. You had to drive the ball long at times. You had to drive it in position at times. You had to be able to use all the clubs in the bag. You had to be able to play out of the rough when you needed to play out of the rough. You needed to recover when you needed to recover. And you needed to be able to handle the fast undulating greens and firm greens that you get with an Open Championship.
So I've always thought that complete examination was what I felt really produced the best golfer that year, because it was ‑‑ I always felt the U.S. Open was, to me, the most important championship in the world. I suppose outside the United States you might say the British Open. But the United States, I'm an American, and to me that's what it was.
It was always something thrilling to me to be able to have the opportunity to win a couple of Amateurs, win a couple of Seniors and win four of the U.S. Opens. And to have the medal today being named after me is pretty special.
To have a wing put on at Far Hills is, again, pretty special. I remember going to 40 East 38th Street. That was Golf House years ago, a little tiny building, and ‑‑ actually it was a flat, really, wasn't it? And years ago going in there and seeing some of the artifacts and see how it's grown and see what you've done.
It's really kind of neat to be honored in this way. So I thank you very much. I appreciate it. It's something that I'll obviously always treasure the memory. When somebody comes to me and says, "Hey, I won the Jack Nicklaus Medal," I'll say, "That's great." Thanks so much.
JOE GOODE: I'd like to open the floor up to some questions for Jack, Mike, or Glen. Just wait for a microphone to come to you. Who would like to get it started?
Q. Two questions, one relating to Rory McIlroy, specifically, another one to anybody who's an Open champion.
You did an interview recently, the week of your own tournament, sit down with Rory. You seemed genuinely surprised he was not taking the week off before this tournament. I'd like you to expand on that. The other is about repeating as U.S. Open champion. You won back‑to‑back Masters. Other people have won back‑to‑back British Opens. And Tiger has won all three back‑to‑back, except for this tournament. Is there something specific about the U.S. Open mentally or physically that sets it apart from the other three Majors?
JACK NICKLAUS: First of all, McIlroy. I did that interview and I was trying to encourage Rory, not necessarily not to play the week before, that's his call. The decision to play the week before is an individual. But he was not going to originally come to San Francisco until the week of the tournament and hadn't played it. And I was trying to encourage him to go see Olympic that weekend, it turned out to be that weekend, because he missed the cut in our tournament, but that Monday and Tuesday.
I said, you've got plenty of time to get back ‑‑ you go out Monday and play Tuesday morning, you have plenty of time. You're going to play one practice round in Memphis, going to be your Pro Am, and go play the tournament.
Some people need competition before they play. Some people don't. Rory felt that he hadn't been playing particularly well lately and he needed to get his golf game back. That's his call, not my call. But I was trying to encourage him to go see Olympic Club. He came out and played two days.
I like Rory a lot. And I think he's done a great job last year winning the U.S. Open. And I'd like to see him continue to give himself the best chances to win. He's asked me for advice from time to time. Not often do we sit on CNN and ask for advice, but we were talking about it, and that happened to be the subject, but anyway, it had nothing to do with Memphis or any other tournament, the man's choice of what he does and how they prepare.
I just happened to prepare best by not playing the week before a Major. I had the experience of playing some ‑‑ although I have to say, when I won my first U.S. Open at Oakmont I played the week before at the Thunderbird, which was the first Thunderbird and I finished second and went on in.
In those days I played every week. And I was a rookie and I played 16 tournaments in a row. The 17th tournament showed up, that was the U.S. Open.
But once you get yourself in that position, I think you try to get yourself ‑‑ prepare yourself the best that works for you. And some guys play the week before and that works best for them. That didn't work for me. I was just trying to impart something to Rory.
The second question you asked me was about winning them back‑to‑back. And I always felt like probably the easiest one to win back‑to‑back would be the Masters, simply because you're playing the same golf course every year and the same conditions generally, don't change that much from year to year.
I would say the U.S. Open would probably be the most difficult, because I think the rotation is further apart.
And the British Open, you sometimes, your rotations are only five or six years apart. But usually the U.S. Open you're 10 or 12 years apart or more.
I think that's probably the most difficult. The conditions ‑‑ the golf courses are different. A lot of people say, this golf course doesn't suit my game. Which to me is the most ridiculous statement you ever hear, for the reason that the golf course is not supposed to suit your game. You're supposed to suit your game to the golf course. That's why we play a different site every year, otherwise we'd play on the same site. I think that's why it's so difficult?
Q. Two questions, one related to the museum. How much of the stuff from your museum in Columbus will be either on loan or on display or will there be any of it?
JACK NICKLAUS: There will be a lot of it, I'm sure. They get a little stingy in Columbus at times, because they feel like they have everything there, which they do.
But, no, I definitely will work with USGA, some stuff will go permanently, some stuff on a revolving basis, to keep it fresh. I think it's very important that we do that?
Q. When you talked a minute ago about graduating your way to the U.S. Open. I'd be curious what were the toughest conditions you ever faced in a U.S. Open, not weather related, mostly not wind related, and which were the easiest?
JACK NICKLAUS: Toughest conditions? I don't know whether you'd call them tough. Whether I handled the conditions or not is another question.
I may have had some conditions I didn't handle very well and maybe some of the courses I didn't handle very well. But some of them I did.
Pebble in '72 was pretty difficult conditions. I think it was 1‑over par won the championship then. I think that's right. That's a pretty high score at Pebble Beach. Pebble Beach really, without weather, Pebble Beach is not that difficult a golf course. And you don't really have weather this time of year. We had a little bit of wind that week, but not any ‑‑ you don't have weather this time of year out here. You have a little fog and that kind of stuff. I thought that was a pretty difficult examination. The greens got really away from us pretty good and you really had to be ‑‑ really work hard in '72.
What was the other part of your question, again? The easiest one?
MIKE DAVIS: You didn't play last year, did you?
JACK NICKLAUS: Where did you play last year? Congressional. Must have been last year. And you fiddle around with how you do things, you change different things on how you try to have your test of golf.
I think Baltusrol did not play particularly from my standpoint when I won in '80. And I remember going back to Baltusrol for practice rounds and I shot ‑‑ I won The Open in 67, 13 years apart, that's part of the question over here, repeating back‑to‑back, and I remember going to the course and saying, man, this is really a difficult golf course. I don't remember this golf course being this long or this tough.
And then all of a sudden it just sort of ‑‑ I figured out what I was supposed to do and I really played well. Maybe it's just me, but really Baltusrol, I just clicked with Baltusrol for me.
I thought Oakmont was a difficult test. I thought ‑‑ I don't know, let's see, where do we really have ‑‑ there were courses I had trouble with.
I had trouble with Southern Hills. I never really played great at Southern Hills. I never really played great at Congressional. Although I did finish second in a Senior Open. Winged Foot I always had trouble with. There were some courses I had trouble with, where I couldn't fit my game.
Here I played decent here, the one time ‑‑ we played in '66 was the only time I was really at the top of my game. '87 the next time, here? I was basically not playing anymore. Lightning didn't strike two years in a row, they're generally speaking not in the same bottle.
I always ‑‑ every time I came to an Open Championship I'd look at it and I'd come in the week before, which is what I was encouraging Rory to do, to get all the problems out of the way. Meaning you come in and you get used to the rough, get used to the width of the fairways, you get used to the firmness of the greens. Usually the week before is not worth putting much, because usually they stuck the pins on the front edge of the greens, do you still do that?
MIKE DAVIS: There's a little bit of that done.
JACK NICKLAUS: They used to put them about 6, 8 feet on the greens on the front edges, because they were never going to use that and it was really not worth getting much putting out of it.
But you really get all the elements out of the way, and where most of the guys who came in the week of the tournament, they were coming in and you'd hear them as they came in from registration. "Man, is this rough deep." Check him off. "Man, these greens are fast." Check him off. All those things you got rid of the first week in practice. That's what I did the first week.
When I went to the tournament, all I had to do was worry about my golf game. And so ‑‑ sometimes, obviously, I didn't get it totally right at the Open. I lost a lot of them.
Q. The clip mentioned you played with Arnold those first two days in '62. Did you like that kind of marquee pairing?
JACK NICKLAUS: I think that was the first time that the USGA experimented with playing twosomes in the first two rounds.
MIKE DAVIS: Because of pace of play.
JACK NICKLAUS: They tried to speed up play. They didn't know they had me. I was pretty slow in those days.
Q. Did you like playing ‑‑ I asked ‑‑
JACK NICKLAUS: Did I like the format? I loved that. We used to look at the pace of play at the British Open. That was always the most fun to play because you just got out there and we played in three hours and 15 minutes or something, three hours and ten minutes. A lot of time you went off early and played in less than three hours. That's unheard of today.
You hear the first ones go off, the first ones off, trying to get off the golf course saying, "Man, we played in three hours today." That's what we used to play.
We first played The Open, the Opens were four hour rounds. It was in threesomes. That's not terrible compared to 4:45, which is it is now. Or longer.
As I say, I was a slow player when I played younger. I learned how to combat that and how to not do it. But I believe that slow play is not a good thing for the game and even if I was one of the guys that perpetrated that thing.
But the slow play, the problem with slow play is that all of the kids try to copy the pros. And all the kids grow up playing slow. And that's the problem.
I remember we played here in '66 we had the USGA gestapo, as we called them then, they followed you around with a watch walking behind you. Phil Strubing was the one walking behind me. They had one with every group. They go, "You took 33 and a half seconds to play that shot. You need to move faster." It was a little ridiculous.
But it turned out, Billy Casper won the golf tournament, Arnold Palmer finished second, and I finished third. We still had a pretty good result out of the tournament as far as who the players were. That's the idea, who is going to produce the best player, and Casper was the best player that week.
Q. The promo to the movie mentions that you and Arnold went back for a day at Oakmont. What was that day like and what kind of emotions did that stir?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, it was kind of funny, because Mike and I had gone to Merion the day before and looked at Merion. Mike asked me to stop by, which was nice of him to do that, to want to get my thoughts on Merion.
And then we went to Arnold's house, and we stayed at Arnold's house in Latrobe and we flew over in a helicopter at Oakmont the next day. And Arnold was most gracious in taking care of us and hosted us at Latrobe Country Club that night for dinner.
But we went over the next day and Arnold said to me, he says, "Why are we doing this?" He says, "You know, I lost that one." And he says, "They want to do one on Casper at Olympic. I lost that one." And I said, "Arnold, we did Cherry Hills first." (Laughter).
We had a lot of laughs with Arnold. Arnold was great. We didn't venture very far from the clubhouse, I promise you that. We didn't walk out very far.
We walked out to the middle of the 18th fairway and a little bit to 10 and 9 and the first hole. We did sort of a simulation of the putt that I made at 17 on the 71st hole of the tournament, which was a downhill, five foot slider, wasn't on the green, it was on the putting green, but showed that same type of putt.
And they tried to put some things together that ‑‑ we took our old drivers we had, the old picture of Arnold and me standing with our drivers out in front, Arnold had a Hogan driver and I had a MacGregor Nicklaus driver. Mine was so old, it didn't have anything on the bottom of it anymore, it was all worn off.
But it was a lot of nice things. We talked about a few things. But we didn't really do that much there. But we just added, I guess, a little bit to what ‑‑ a favor of what you were doing. It took us three or four hours, we had a nice time and had lunch and moved on.
Q. Question for Mr. Nicklaus. Regarding today's announcements, did you have any special requests of the USGA? And for Glen or Mike, if you could tell a little bit about the back story about how this came about.
JACK NICKLAUS: Did I have any special requests?
Q. Regarding memorabilia or the way the displays are to be done, or rolling back the golf ball, anything like that regarding the USGA?
JACK NICKLAUS: Part of the rolling golf ball as part of the museum? Yeah. No, not actually. I think Mike came to me and Robert was talking about doing, what they wanted to do, explained what they were trying to do and what they were trying to show and asked how we could help and work with them.
We obviously worked with the USGA to make sure they get an exhibit that is meaningful and one that represents my career and should be at Golf House. I'm absolutely just thrilled with that. I think that's great. No special requests from myself. The only thing we did was cut my hair on the medal, that's all.
GLEN NAGER: I'll answer your second question, which is that one of the core missions of the USGA is to preserve the history of the great game. And in our instance, although it's an ongoing story, there was a missing chapter in the USGA chronicling of that history, which was honoring the greatest golfer of all time.
I didn't play golf as a child, but I watched him hit that flag stick on 17 at Pebble Beach and his career is a highlight film of the U.S. Open. And for us, there was no greater honor we could think to give him and recognize the contributions that he's made to the game and to history than to name the medal that we give the winner every year ‑‑ because the winner gets to take the medal and keep it.
So it was a way of taking the history of the U.S. Open and Jack's great record as a USGA champion and passing it forward to the future.
And the same with the addition to the museum, to have a place where people could come and experience history with all the other great champions who we've honored in the museum.
Q. In terms of their emotional impact, how would you compare winning your first major at Oakmont in '62 to your last at Augusta in 1986?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, they're just a couple of years apart. One, I was a young kid and the other I was an old man ‑‑ 46, an old man. I'd like to run back to 46. I'd just like to be able to run, actually (laughter).
Oakmont, it was a different thing. I played ‑‑ I'd come very close at Cherry Hills in '60. I played ‑‑ well, I'll go back quick. I shot 80, 80 at Inverness in '57. I finished 40 something in '58. And then I shot a pair of 77's at Winged Foot in '59.
And then '60 came along, I was the U.S. Amateur champion. I played very well. I felt like I should have won the golf tournament then. And if I'd known how to win, I might have won that tournament.
Then I had a very good chance again the next year at Oakland Hills and I played the last seven holes 2‑over par to lose that tournament. I finished fourth that year.
So I felt going into Oakmont and particularly finishing second the week before and I had three seconds that year, that my best shot of winning a golf tournament was right there, because I loved playing in the U.S. Open. I loved playing USGA golf courses.
I didn't realize, and I'm a young 22 year old kid, I had no idea that Arnold Palmer lived anywhere near there or anything else about Arnold. Arnold was a friend and we'd played a lot of golf together, but I was ‑‑ what 22 year old kid ‑‑ a 22 year old doesn't have much of a brain anyway, sort of goes along and whatever happens, happens.
And all of a sudden, 20 years later, you look back on it and say, wow. That's sort of what I did. Looking back on it you go back and say, wow, that was pretty special. Something pretty good that ‑‑ I guess I'd learned how to win a golf tournament by then. Or I did learn how to win a golf tournament that week. But it was something that ‑‑ it was a learning process for me.
In '86 when I won the Masters, you know, I was basically beyond my career. And nobody thought I could win the golf tournament, including me.
And getting myself in contention, I remembered how to play. I remembered how to win a golf tournament. And that was unbelievably exciting, to be able to come down and be able to, at 46, control your emotions, control your golf club and your golf ball enough to enable you to compete against the best in the world, which you hadn't competed well against for a couple of years. That was pretty thrilling.
So there are two totally different things. One is you've got this young kid growing up and trying to figure out how to become a player. And the other one is you've got this older guy who has forgotten how to become a player and trying to remember again. It's totally opposite.
Q. Two things related to the U.S. Open. First of all, should pace of play be part of the examination, a reasonable pace of play, because I think the thought today among players is they should be able to take as long as they want on a difficult golf course.
JACK NICKLAUS: They've learned the system. And the guys can always beat the system. If they know that they have to play in less than 40 seconds or they know that they have to be in a certain position, they'll figure out how to get it done.
But that doesn't help what you're trying to do. That's an individual trying to help ‑‑ I did the same thing. We all did the same thing. We knew how to beat the system, and we went ahead and played the system.
Today, I would assume at the Open, you have a two‑shot penalty?
MIKE DAVIS: Starts out with a one‑shot penalty.
JACK NICKLAUS: Everything else is two shots in golf, why one shot?
MIKE DAVIS: We thought, administrators would be more apt to use it.
JACK NICKLAUS: That's, again, accommodating the player. For years it was two strokes. I got a two‑stroke penalty in Portland one year, for being a slow player. And a couple of years later I got a slow play penalty in Houston playing with Middlekoff. It happened to both of us playing together.
But, anyway, a two‑stroke penalty, that's a bad deal. Yeah, that throws you right out of a tournament or certainly can. And you don't want that.
So if you want to get play to increase, the Tour, it's been 14 years since they penalized somebody a stroke. We haven't had any players in 14 years? Come on, give me a break.
If you're going to do it, you've got to do it. And if you're going to increase play, then you have to figure out how to do it. It's no different than somebody said roll back the golf ball or whatever. Whatever you do, do it. And do something that's going to actually be significant that actually benefits the game.
It's not necessarily ‑‑ what happens here at the U.S. Open, it's a ripple effect, it's not necessarily what happens here, it benefits it right down through the game to the kids. That's the point. The USGA is not all about the U.S. Open, they're about golf. And what is best for the game of golf. And that's the whole issue.
Q. Secondly, you were one of the best long, straight drivers that's ever played. I'm wondering how Olympic sets up in terms of difficulty in driving, where it may be ranked in comparison to other Open courses that you played.
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know how you've set the fairways up this week. Pretty much the same as they had before, Mike?
MIKE DAVIS: Yes, generally. A few changes.
JACK NICKLAUS: No, I meant width‑wise.
MIKE DAVIS: I would say generally.
JACK NICKLAUS: Olympic was tough because of the pitch of the fairway. They changed the 17th hole, I don't know where the landing area is at 17. 17, I don't care where you hit it, they cut the fairways three eighths of an inch in those days, I don't know what you're cutting them at now, but you get on one side of the fairway it ran off the other side in the rough. And they've got a lot of fairways that have a lot of pitch. You've got a tremendous number of holes with uneven lies that are very awkward to play from and to keep the ball in the fairway.
So driving the ball and shaping your ball off the tee to fit those fairways was essential on this golf course. It was hard for me. There's a lot of holes on this golf course that didn't shape well for a left‑to‑right player. Fourth hole didn't shape well for me, 17th didn't shape well for me. You had to take the ball and turn it back into the hill on both of those holes.
There are others, I can't think of what they are. I know there are other holes. And so you really ‑‑ it's a difficult golf course to drive on, I think, because you do have to shape it both ways.
Q. If memory serves, back in 1981 when the U.S. Open last came to Merion you were the defending champion. What are the chances of seeing you compete for the Jack Nicklaus Medal next year, you're exempt through the sectional qualifying.
JACK NICKLAUS: The course is a good length for me. As long as I don't have to play five par‑4s, I'll be fine (laughter).
We saw Merion ‑‑ you're talking about what you're going to see next year. Mike's done a really nice job of setting up that golf course. And the golf course has got some birdie holes on it, which Merion always has had. But it's got some really, really strong par‑4s, which will balance that out. I don't think you're going to find Merion being a piece of cake. I think Merion will be a pretty good test.
JOE GOODE: This has been a special day for Jack, the Nicklaus family, the USGA and passionate golf fans everywhere. Want to thank everybody for joining us today. And our three gentlemen will pose with the medal for a few minutes for your photographers. Thank you.