An Interview with Jack and Gary Nicklaus at the PNC Father/Son Challenge

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THE MODERATOR: Jack and Gary, 32, 31, and 63, two off the lead after the first rounds. Just a brief comment from each of you about the day.

JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I probably should start by saying that I supported Gary just a little bit. Not very much. Just a little bit. It was basically Gary’s round with just a dab or two from the old man.

GARY NICKLAUS: We got off to a slow start, and then we switched the order in putting and I actually hit a couple good putts after that. When I missed, he made ’em. It was a good, fun day.

It was a little windier than it was last year so the course played tougher. I thought it was a pretty good round.

MODERATOR: Any highlights in the round, anything that kept round going or any long putts?

JACK NICKLAUS: Every putt he hit was a highlight. You don’t want to talk about your own putts. I’ll talk about ’em.

GARY NICKLAUS: Okay.

JACK NICKLAUS: We both missed a good makeable putt on the 1st hole. I guess we both missed a good, makeable putt on the 2nd hole.

3rd hole Gary hit two shots about 25 feet behind the hole and 2 putted it. Made a birdie but not an eagle. 3rd hole was our savior.

We both hit bad shots into the bunker on the left Gary had a nice bunker shot. Not as close as we would like, but he holed the putt.

Next hole, we missed good chances.

Then we started playing. I guess I hit it in close to the next hole about, what, 10 feet? You made the putt.

Next hole we did not make a putt.

And then 8th hole Gary hit I guess a 7 iron in about 18 feet and he made the putt.

No. 9 he hit pitching wedge in about 15 feet; made the putt.

10 we both missed the putt.

Actually the 1st hole was one you got robbed on.

GARY NICKLAUS: Yes.

JACK NICKLAUS: The 11th hole was you hit it in about two feet, right?

GARY NICKLAUS: Uh huh.

JACK NICKLAUS: And I asked it you if I could putt first so I could contribute finally. So I made a two footer to contribute.

Next hole Gary hit a beautiful shot in behind the hole. He, again, was picking it out of hole and it came out, I don’t know how.

13, we used my tee shot and we didn’t hit it that close, about 20 feet. It was not a very good second shot. Gary holed that.

Next hole Gary hit it through the green in two and made a nice pitch back to about six feet.

GARY NICKLAUS: Yep.

JACK NICKLAUS: He missed the putt and let me contribute again.

The next hole we both missed about 18 , 20 footers, something in there.

We were on the fringe in the next hole and the ball bounced all over the place. Weren’t very far away. Less than 20 feet.

17, Gary hit it on the green and I hit it in the water. He put it right on the green after me and had about a 30 foot putt up the hill. I said, What do you think? Just outside the right edge. Plunk.

Then 18, actually we used both Gary’s shots over the green. Used my pitch to about 10 feet and then I made the putt.

So I think we got a pretty good result from let’s put it this way: If Gary had played with anybody else he would have had a better result.

GARY NICKLAUS: Lee was pretty sure you were going to make the putt on 18.

JACK NICKLAUS: He must have willed it in for me. I don’t know.

THE MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. Two parter. When did you get the word you were going to play? When did you find out?

GARY NICKLAUS: Wednesday.

Q. Pretty short notice. Was that a panic situation or you’re okay?

GARY NICKLAUS: I’ve been actually probably more prepared this year than I was last year. I’m playing a lot with my son who I have been trying to get ready who had a tournament today.

JACK NICKLAUS: You heard yet?

GARY NICKLAUS: Not yet.

Q. Is that the secret of being a manager, you have good bench depth to call in another player?

JACK NICKLAUS: I tell you, if you’re not deep on the team you’re really in trouble.

Well, Jackie, he had some issues about six weeks ago. He thought he was going to be fine, and then he got the flu on top of it.

He thought he was going to be all right, but he always said, Make sure that Gary is ready because he didn’t know. But he said, I think I’m going to be fine.

We played last Monday and he played very well. He thought he was going to on fine. Tuesday he was just worn out. Wednesday he said, I can’t play.

So it’s just a lingering thing with him. It’s a flu and a combination of some stuff. He’s fine.

But Gary and I have been playing all week, and Gary was trying to get his son ready for a tournament. We had all been playing. Even I had been playing. I was playing so badly, and I reverted back to the way I been playing today.

Thank goodness I hit a couple putts between last year.

Q. Jack, Gary, what was it like being out there with your good friend Lee Trevino today, playing with him and his son?

JACK NICKLAUS: We just had to make sure we stayed far enough away that we didn’t have to listen to everything. That was the start of it.

I always enjoy playing with Lee. I have great respect for him. He’s done an unbelievable job with his life. For where he’s come from and where he’s going, he’s unbelievable. He’s done a great job with Daniel and Olivia, his daughter.

I’m glad we had the opportunity to play together. We haven’t played much together in quite a while. We did make sure we stayed far enough away so we didn’t have to listen.

GARY NICKLAUS: First time I played with Lee.

JACK NICKLAUS: Is it really? Oh, my Lord.

GARY NICKLAUS: And he hit his best shots when he was talking. If he was still talking when he was swinging the ball, it went well.

For me, remember the source that I’m asking the question to, but as I grew up, there were a lot of players would say, What do you think of his game? What do you think of his game? It was never real positive except for people like Lee and Watson and a few others.

He had a lot of respect for Lee’s game. Knowing the respect he had he must’ve been just an amazing player because of the respect he has. So it was neat.

JACK NICKLAUS: He meant as far as games, I’m sure. When you said…

GARY NICKLAUS: The golf game of other players.

JACK NICKLAUS: I think today he saw how see, I’ve always thought Trevino and Hogan are the two best ball strikers I’ve ever seen. Lee is, like I am, a shell of what we were before, but he still flights the ball, and particularly with his irons and short game and maneuvering the ball, he’s terrific with it.

He hits some shots that you look at it and you say, Now, man, you just take about 30 years off that and you can tell how good this guy was.

GARY NICKLAUS: Not a lot of players that beat him as many times as Lee beat him.

JACK NICKLAUS: I beg your pardon.

GARY NICKLAUS: You beat him a lot, too.

Q. Now that you guys are in the mix, how do you go into tomorrow? I’m sure you’re pretty competitive about this when it comes down to it.

GARY NICKLAUS: Go spend the night with Fuzzy; hang out late.

JACK NICKLAUS: We were in pretty good position last year. I don’t know where we were, but not very much behind. Maybe three; we’re two this year.

We had a dry spell in the middle of the round last year. We just can’t have a dry spell.

I hope Gary plays pretty much the same as he played today, and I just got to give him a little bit more support. Because I had a half dozen shots today that I hit, and all of a sudden I turn around and you’re by yourself, you know.

When you’re playing a team deal, you can’t do that to your partner very often. Sooner or later they’re not going to play that perfect shot. It makes it difficult.

But Gary did very, very well today with the absence of his father’s decent play.

Q. How often do you guys play together?

JACK NICKLAUS: Neither one of us ever play that much. When we play I suppose we played, what, four or five times this year?

GARY NICKLAUS: Maybe a little more than that.

JACK NICKLAUS: Six maybe. Not very much.

Q. So it’s kind of special to get together and do this stuff I would think.

JACK NICKLAUS: I always enjoy playing with him, yeah. I enjoy playing with all my kids. We don’t play that much golf anymore. None of us do.

Gary plays probably as much as anybody, and he doesn’t play a lot.

Q. What’s the rotation for putting tomorrow? You first? Gary first?

JACK NICKLAUS: I think we’ll go with what we did today. Gary putted first. If that doesn’t work, then I’ll go first.

Q. Unless it’s real short and you go.

JACK NICKLAUS: Unless it’s my chance to help and then I go first. Not any longer than that.

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