Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player’s press conference after the Masters’ Opening Ceremonies

MODERATOR:  Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.  The start of the 2017 Masters Tournament occurred just a short few minutes ago with a beautiful and moving ceremony on the first tee. This morning, we are extremely privileged and delighted to welcome to the new press building, indeed, two legendary and iconic Masters champions who collectively won nine green jackets.  Mr. Jack Nicklaus participated in 45 Masters Tournaments, capturing six Green Jackets, and Mr. Gary Player participated in 52 Masters Tournaments, winning three Green Jackets. Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.  Before we take questions, we would like Mr. Player and Mr. Nicklaus to comment on the ceremony that occurred just a few minutes ago.

JACK NICKLAUS:  I thought the ceremony was very nice.  I know Billy, he said, “How did I do?”  He said, “I was really nervous.” I don’t believe he was that nervous.  He did a nice job.  I thought the ceremony was very nice.  They brought Kit out in Arnold’s jacket.  It was done very nicely and in good taste.

GARY PLAYER:  I thought his talk was extremely eloquent, very touching.  And also to have his wife come out, there was a lot of thought put into that, and to have the jacket over the chair. And I must just add one thing that I never heard much about.  Arnold was a great stickler for manners, and I’ll never forget, which really reminded me on the first tee this morning, when he sat on the chair last year and they called his name, you know, a lot of people don’t stand up.  But Arnold could hardly walk to the first tee and he put his arms like this, and he stood up like this [lifting himself a few inches up from chair using arms], because he had been taught to stand up.  And he gave a little wave, and that was very touching to me, and I could see him doing it in that chair today.  It’s funny how things come back to your mind.

Q.  Jack, you seemed to be very much in the moment and concentrating on that shot.  Did you get it past him?  I didn’t see.

JACK NICKLAUS:  Well, the official word was that it was a little past, but Gary’s claiming a tie (laughter).  But it’s okay.  Doesn’t make any difference one way or the other.  I hit a nice, solid hit and I was quite happy with that.  I’m sure that Gary was quite happy with his, and neither one of us topped it, skied it or whiffed it.

Q.  For both gentlemen, do you still get butterflies on the first tee?  If so, was it especially so today because you wanted to do a good job under the circumstances?

JACK NICKLAUS:  I didn’t have any butterflies.  I was just trying to figure out how to hit the golf ball.

GARY PLAYER:  I wasn’t very nervous, no.  I think the way that people accepted us was so heartwarming and the introduction about Arnold put everybody at ease.

Q.  Just wanted to see if I can get thoughts from both of you on the Champions Dinner Tuesday night, and how that went.  Any stories or thoughts on Arnold not being there for that?

GARY PLAYER:  The dinner went extremely well.  You know, in the old days in these dinners, Sam Snead and even Hogan, although it was a bit controversial when he stood up, used to have a lot of fun.  And everybody would say something and was encouraged to say something, and then it dwindled off and then the dinner ended and everybody got up and left.  I went to Ben Crenshaw and I said, “Ben, you’re the new host, so to speak.  You should ask people to start talking and having a bit of fun,” and that’s occurring now. He asked five guys to stand up, and Jack and I were two of them, to give little stories about Arnold.  They were all different and all very nice. It was a terrific evening.  Terrific.  It always is.  That, and the British Open at St Andrews with all the champions there, with all the pomp and ceremony, which I enjoy, as the two greatest evenings of my career.

JACK NICKLAUS:  Well, what Gary said was absolutely accurate.  The dinner was a nice dinner, and Arnold was well represented with some nice talks, and I think everybody always enjoys it.  It’s good fun.

Q.  Gentlemen, it’s a very windy morning and it’s going to be a very windy day.  Do you have any fond memories, or not so fond memories, you can share of playing this golf course in winds like this?

JACK NICKLAUS:  I think both Gary and I played it on a lot of days like this.  I mean, in his 52 years and my 45… I didn’t even realize you played that much more than I did.  What happened?  I must have stopped earlier.

GARY PLAYER:  (Laughing).

JACK NICKLAUS:  Anyway, yeah, we’ve seen a lot of days.  And when you get a day like today, I don’t think the greens will be that firm this morning.  But maybe by late afternoon today or tomorrow, the greens are going to get very difficult. They asked me how many scores would be under par today, and I said, “Oh, maybe a dozen.” I don’t think there will be a lot of scores under par, but some of these guys are so good that they will shoot under par.  I don’t think you’ll see very many low rounds on a day like today. The rain last night will have slowed up the golf course a little bit.  Made it a little easier.

GARY PLAYER:  One year, I remember when Jack won, it was absolutely ideal for him because he hit the ball so much higher than we all did, and the fairways were long and the greens were firm.  And I don’t know if Jack remembers, but they had asked me to go and see Clifford Roberts.

JACK NICKLAUS:  (Laughing)

GARY PLAYER:  I made an appointment the next morning.  So I go along and I see him, and I said, “Good morning, Mr. Roberts.”  And he says, “Morning.  What can I do for you?  I’m in a hurry.”
I said, “Mr. Roberts, the fairways are very long and the greens are very firm, and we cannot spin the ball.  The ball’s flying.”  If you look last night, I think they must have had 10 mowers on the one fairway.  In those days, they had one mower and they don’t have blades in the damn thing. So he says, “Do you know anything about poetry?” I said, “Yes.  Yates, Wordsworth, Shakespeare.” “I’m impressed,” he says.  He says, “Listen carefully:  The mowers are as low as they can go.  Good morning.”  (Laughter).

JACK NICKLAUS:  That was back in ’66.

GARY PLAYER:  Was it ’66?

JACK NICKLAUS:  Yeah.  And I won ’65, and the fairways were nice and short and you could really do what you wanted to do with the greens and I was 17 under par. The next year, in ’66, the fairways were longer, but the mowers were set the same.  They just forgot to sharpen the blades.  And the winning score was only 17 shots higher.  They didn’t like that 17 under par.

GARY PLAYER:  Did you shoot even?

JACK NICKLAUS:  We played, Brewer, Jacobs, we shot even par.  The greens were like a rock and the fairways were long, and when they get that kind of condition, they are going to complain. They may have told Mr. Roberts that the fairways were the same height, but he doesn’t play during the tournament.  It’s okay.  The golf course, you can do anything you want to it.  They can do anything they want with the golf course.  You’ve got a million different things:  They can put water on the greens; they can suck the water off the greens.  They can cut the fairways; they can let the fairways grow long.  They can do anything to that little short rough they want to and they can make it a little bit longer, a little bit shorter, do whatever they want.  There’s so many things that they can do to make the variables of the golf course change. Frankly, I like that.  I didn’t really care.  Whatever the conditions are, it’s our job to adjust to them, and to me, that’s part of the fun of the game is to adjust to what the conditions are.

Q.  Your thoughts on the commemorative badges that were given out to the Patrons today; what do you think Mr. Palmer would have thought of all of these today?

JACK NICKLAUS:  He would have dropped over if he had seen one on Gary and me (laughter).  It was very nice.

GARY PLAYER:  Very nice, indeed.  Well, this was typical of what happened.  He had his Army.  It was not easy playing with him when he had the Army and they were screaming and rushing off the green before you finished, but one had to get accustomed to that.  That was his Army, it really was his Army.  And then Jack had his pack.  So it was a wonderful time.

Q.  It might not be fair to ask you this question about trying to narrow down all the recollections that you have of your interactions with Arnold, but I was wondering if each of you could share one of your fondest recollections of Arnold Palmer.

JACK NICKLAUS:  Why don’t you start that one, buddy?

GARY PLAYER:  I think that when he visited South Africa, and I told him this. He visited South Africa to play some matches with me.  He visited the game reserve and my farm and then we went down the gold mine, and because we always had a Rolex, I wanted him to actually experience this, because my father spent 40 damn years in that damn dungeon. And we went down the gold mine and obviously you have to mine many tons of rocks to get a couple of ounces of gold.  So we were discussing how rightly difficult and how one should appreciate that anything that you have is gold. So we went down in the gold mine and we went down 8,000 feet because in those days, we went down further.  It was hot as Hebrides (ph) and we came up and we were all absolutely wet with perspiration, and there was an elevator, they called it a skip.  It was an iron elevator, went straight down (indicating with high velocity) and then straight up (with speed). Then we went into a room and there was at least a billion dollars worth of gold in gold bars, where they poured the gold and put them into gold bars.  And this one man was standing there and there are about 12 people and he said, nobody… and this gold bar was right in front of him.  He said, “This is the final result and nobody has ever been able to pick it up and anybody here who can pick it up may have it.” Remember, he’s an employee.  So Arnold says, “Ask him if I can have a try.” I said, “I’ve got a friend here from America, do you mind if he tries?” To give you a good illustration, I always got a kick out of it.  His little finger was the size of my index finger.  Now look at that (indicating).  I always said if we could have a combination of Jack’s legs, which were 29 inches, and thighs and Arnold’s arms, which were a blacksmith’s arms, we would be driving all the greens. Arnold goes, picks it up.  And this guy started to sputter (starts stammering).  He said, “I work here.” Palmer said, “You did work here.  You’re going to be fired.  This is mine, baby.”  And it was absolutely amazing because you’ve got no idea how heavy that was, and I don’t think anybody’s ever done it since.  Not today with all the world heavyweights worth trying.  But it was impressive.

JACK NICKLAUS:  I’ll go back to the early years, my first year on Tour, and how a young rookie comes out on Tour and how a senior member of the Tour… senior, meaning 32 years old… treated a young kid. Arnold, from the time I came on, I remember Palm Springs, we played a practice round and I was chipping the ball off the green, and he said… and I used to chip everything off the green. He said, “I think you’re going to find out that your worst putt will be about the same as your best chip.”  And he was right.  Now, I putted 11 times out of 10 and have ever since then. We got to Phoenix a couple weeks later and we played in the last round together and Arnold was going to win the tournament by a mile.  We walked off the 7th green and he put his arm around my shoulder, hand on my shoulder, and said, “Okay, you make a birdie here, you’re going to finish second.”  He says, “You can do that.  Just be patient.”  I birdied the hole and finished second.  Arnold won by 12 shots. We went on to the U.S. Open.  Here, we’re in his backyard.  We had finished the regular 72 holes and there’s a picture of Arnold standing beside me as we’re warming up toward the round.  And what he did, he came over to ask me, he said, “You know, it’s traditional at the playoff, that the winner would get the gate from the playoff.” And he says, “Would you like to split it?” He was being nice to a guy, a young kid who had never won a tournament. I said, “Arnold, that’s not fair to you.”  I said, “We’ll just play for it,” and so forth, which we did and I won.  That’s neither here nor there; the gesture was what it was about. That was sort of the way I looked at my first starts with Arnold, and I think that developed a relationship that probably never would have happened without his initiating it.  It never would have happened because a young kid wouldn’t initiate that.  You needed somebody; a senior player who really saw something in me and cared about me and wanted to see me do well.  I thought that was very nice.

GARY PLAYER:  If I could enlarge on that a minute.  Something that always comes to mind, is that the three of us were all extremely competitive obviously and wanted to win, and we made it very clear that we wanted to win.  And we traveled the world extensively, unlike the players today where they get millions and hundreds of thousands of dollars to go around the world.  We went around the world with very small sums of money trying to promote the game, and because we love the game, and because we enjoy people and also the fact that we were traveling, which was the greatest education one could acquire. And there will be other “Big Threes.”  But I don’t know if you’ll ever have another Big Three that will live together like we did.  I mean, I was in Jack’s home for weeks and Arnold was in my home and Jack visited my farm time and time and time again.  And I was in their airplane; I didn’t have mine at that stage.  We really lived our lives together, playing Big Three matches all over the world.  And then, between us, we must have won 354 tournaments. Now, will that happen again with three guys?  Possibly.  I don’t know.  But it was a very, very unusual time in history, and it will be interesting to see if there is again.  And it was a privilege and we all appreciated each other, which was a great friendship.  It’s hard to be highly competitive against people and have a great friendship.  And yet I sit here today and Jack Nicklaus is my best friend in the world. And I would like to say something.  I never felt that Jack… and it’s an appropriate time to say it because I don’t know if I’ll ever be back here… But Jack Nicklaus was the greatest gentleman I ever played golf with on a golf course in my life.  Not only the greatest player but the greatest gentleman I ever played with on the golf course was Jack Nicklaus.  I just wanted to be able to say that.

JACK NICKLAUS:  That’s very kind.  Thank you, Gary.  Next question, please.

Q.  I wanted to ask each of you.  You mentioned this on TV yesterday.  Can you expand on what the Masters meant to Arnold, and what he meant to it?

JACK NICKLAUS:  Well, I think that Arnold came along at a time… He won his first Masters in ’58.  I don’t know what year the first television was.  It was probably right around that time.  So Arnold came along, he won in ’58, won in ’60, ’62, ’64, and it was a time television was getting started.  It was a time that the popularity of the game was really stimulated by Arnold.  It was a time when, you know, the Masters was just sort of getting its feet wet with what’s going on in the golfing world. The Masters was created basically because of the U.S. Open and the British Open and the PGA Championship, and really taking the best players from those events, and that’s why it’s not a championship; it’s a tournament.  They felt like that was… they didn’t want to be presumptuous in calling it… and maybe I’m overstepping what I’m thinking here, but I think I’m correct.  Jones, he didn’t want to be presumptuous saying his was a championship.  That was sort of the collective feeling. Arnold was sort of the guy that made that popular and took the Masters from being a tournament to being one of the four biggest events in golf. Then Gary came along, and Gary won in ’61, and of course I won in ’63.  We came along and added to that, but I think it was Arnold who took it to that.  So my feeling was that, yes, the Masters made Arnold in many ways because of his wins in ’58, ’60, ’62, and ’64; but the other way around, I think Arnold made the Masters.  Arnold put the Masters on the map and with his rise and his popularity, the Masters rose the same.  I think they were both very good for each other and very synonymous with each other.  That’s sort of my feeling.

GARY PLAYER:  I agree wholeheartedly but I think one is inclined to; the players of today, obviously think they are the best.  When we played, we thought we were the best and Hogan and Snead and Nelson, and I don’t think there will ever be three better players than Hogan, Snead and Nelson. I think we must never, ever forget people of the past, which we are inclined to do.  If we see what Bobby Jones did, he was one of greatest golfers ever.  Maybe the greatest golf swing ever.  He was an introvert; he had the greatest command of English language of anybody and the most highly educated of any golfer that ever played golf. So we must not forget the prominent role he played, and Ben Hogan and those who were from Britain will remember vividly what I’m saying, that when Hogan went to play in his only Open Championship at Carnoustie, they called him the “Wee Ice Man” and people came out in droves like they had never came out before, but people forget that. I think that in history, people play a prominent role. I agree a hundred percent with what Jack said, but let’s not forget people of the past.  I think that to me, I cherish the opportunities that I had to watch a man like Sam Snead who was the greatest athlete in golf. There has never been a man in my opinion that came close to Sam Snead.  He could have been an All Star basketball player, baseball player, football player.  This man, I’ve never seen an athlete like that. He was so strong and so supple, and a golf swing, debatable, he might be the best player who ever lived, who knows. They all come along, different eras, different equipment, etc., etc., but we are all trying focus on what happened now.  And reiterate, never forget the past.

JACK NICKLAUS:  And he may have had the largest tin can collection.

Q.  Wonder if you would share a favorite anecdote from your honorary tee shots with Mr. Palmer. Maybe just a favorite line from the ceremonies in the past that he was part of.

JACK NICKLAUS:  I don’t know if there’s any stories.  Arnold, really, in the time that Gary and I were involved in the ceremony, Arnold was really not strong enough, really, to hit very many golf balls.  He could barely get it to the bottom of the hill, unfortunately. And I thought that two years ago, last one he hit, I don’t think he hit a golf ball in seven or eight months, and he had a dislocated shoulder, separated.  He went out and hit a ball and he said, “That’s the first ball I’ve hit in eight months.”  He almost killed somebody down the left side, so I think he didn’t want to try that again.  But he knew that he was going to give it his all. And I think that Gary and I have a good laugh about everyone, we’re going to have a driving contest.  Gary last year got me off the first tee and we awarded him his fourth Masters jacket.  That was sort of a joke.  We have had a lot of fun about it. Gary had said, “I will improve every year.”  This year, a couple weeks ago with him doing push ups with his feet up on a couch, and he says, “I’m planning to outdrive my friend, Jack.” But you know, it’s all just in good fun.  I think that the ceremony is a nice ceremony.  It’s a nice way to recognize some of the players of the past.  It’s a nice way to start a golf tournament.  It’s a nice way to… I can’t believe he’s saying that, a guy who said I never wanted to do it, but I’ve had a lot of fun doing it.  It’s a nice honor and one I think both Gary and I look forward to every year.

GARY PLAYER:  As far as I’m concerned, it’s a sign of gratitude.  I was on the practice tee this morning at 6:30.

JACK NICKLAUS:  We saw you on television.  I wasn’t out of bed yet (laughing).

GARY PLAYER:  Well, when you’re a farmer, you have to get up early. But really, I stood there and I had this top businessman from New York caddying for me, a man we designed a golf course for.  He said, “Look at this, they come in by the thousands at 6:30 in the morning.” And I mean, it’s really something that you never forget.  And it’s choky.  I got on the first tee this morning and I was choky, thinking of the people, the warmth.  The greatest thing that can happen to a person is to receive love.  The greatest word is God.  These people were inundated with love.  There were young kids there, at eight years of age, who know Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player and are cheering, and old people at that time of the morning. You drive through Magnolia Lane, and every year of my life I get out of my car, and I walk up there and I just say a prayer of thanks, of gratitude.  Because having traveled more miles than any human being that’s ever lived, these eyes have seen things that are atrocities. I think gratitude is a very important word and I think it applies to you people in this room, if I may say.  If you think of the facilities that have been afforded you guys, there’s nothing like this in any sporting event in the world.  I walk into this place and a practice tee that cost $100 million.  It’s a dream, and I think we must enjoy the dream while we can.

Q.  You talked very well about how the three of you travelled and visited each other.  When you were traveling then, what was the pecking order?

GARY PLAYER:  Well, I think we always had respect for age, which is the way the three of us were brought up.  You know, Arnold would go through the door first, you make the first speech, etc., etc.  It was according to age we basically did that, even though Jack had the best record. I think that, again, I’ll come back to the manners, and our great hero, Winston Churchill; if it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t be sitting there.  And he said, “Manners maketh the man.”  And we all try to have good manners for young people to follow suit. And talking about young people, it was very nice to see Rickie Fowler and is it McGirt?

JACK NICKLAUS:  Will McGirt.

GARY PLAYER:  He was out this morning, very nice to see that. A few years ago teeing off at that time of the morning, there was Phil Mickelson on the first tee and Phil Mickelson, to me, is one of the best PRs I’ve ever seen as a professional golfer.  He was one of the few at 7:00 in the morning and he was teeing off almost last. I remember watching Jock Hutchison and Freddie McLeod and I got up to go watch them tee off.  It was an experience.  Then I watched Snead tee off.  Hogan didn’t want to do it.  Hogan wouldn’t do it.  But Snead appreciated seeing these young guys there.

JACK NICKLAUS:  Snead and Nelson.  I think Gary’s probably right.  Most of us, I was the youngest and I yielded to Arnold and Gary as it related to things.  Once we got on the golf course, we were equal.  We just played.

Q.  Talk about the role of laughter in your friendship, because there is always so much laughter, especially when the three of you would sit up there and talk about the honorary start, it would be hilarious.

JACK NICKLAUS:  We had a lot of laughter, a lot of fun and we won’t tell you anything about it (laughter).

GARY PLAYER:  Well, you have a great laugh. It’s interesting, I met an Indian gentleman in India… it’s strange you should ask that question.  And he was a gerontologist, and I’ve always been very interested in that.  I said, “Tell me five things that make you live a long time.” First thing he said, more people die of the medicine than the actual disease.  He said the greatest medicine is from God and it’s free: laughter.  He said when you laugh, it washes the soul, and the great difference between laughter and unhappiness is vast.  He said, if you can laugh, it’s a tonic.  And this is what we did.  Honestly, we laughed and teased each other. And I still tease Jack today.  The other night he was saying, “Well, what do you think it takes to be classified as a superstar in golf? Because everybody uses the word superstar and great in all sports, and they are not.” So I said, well, I suppose, to be a superstar, you’ve got to win six majors. So Jack says he knows I’ve won nine.  He says, “I think you’ve got to win 10.”  (Laughter).

JACK NICKLAUS:  We’ve had a lot of fun.  We laugh, we kid each other.  We used to wait to see when the first one of us would shoot 75 and the other two of us would be waiting at the lockers when he came in.  “Oh, hey, Arn, 75 today, where did you get all your birdies today? Describe the round to us.” He’s fuming; he’s absolutely got steam coming out the back of his neck.  We had a lot of fun with that kind of stuff.  We were ready to needle each other at the drop of a hat.  But that was fun.  That’s what kept our friendship so good.

GARY PLAYER:  I also cried with Arnold.  At Bay Hill, and I don’t know, something happened where we got cross with each other, and we signed the card and Arnold said, “Let’s go in the clubhouse.”  We sat down and we were both crying that we were both so nasty and confrontational to each other and we stood up and gave a great hug.  So, it’s nice.

Q.  I wanted to ask you what Gary was talking about a few minutes ago about your relationship and your competitiveness, and I ask you this from just being around as much as you are at The Bear’s Club, if you’re seeing more of that, more capability of being very competitive and friendships among this young generation.

JACK NICKLAUS:  We have about 30 pros that are members at The Bear’s Club and those guys go out and they practice and they play together every time they are off.  They have some really good games going.  They have a lot of fun.  I think that’s great. The opportunity for the young guys as they are not only working on their game but to have somebody to work with and gain knowledge from; but also to have fun with and relax off the golf course.  They will go out and play games, I don’t know whether they play for five bucks or $5,000, but I know they don’t play a lot. They are there, they have fun with each other.  They enjoy being around each other.  It gets them to know each other.  It relieves a lot of the tensions of the TOUR. You know, I think that we did the same thing.  We played a lot of practice rounds here.  We played a lot of exhibitions here.  We traveled a lot together.  We had dinner a lot together.  We stayed in each other’s homes.  We relieved our tensions.  I know that Gary and Arnold and I were all competitive.  None of us wanted to lose.  We all wanted to win.  We wanted to beat each other’s brains out, but we knew once the day was over that the day of golf was over, that it was time to go be civil again and be friends, have fun, enjoy time, spend time with our wives and really, you know, the game of golf is just a game. The competition is a competition.  It’s not how you lived your life and how you want to be mean and tough all day long.  There’s some guys who are and I feel sorry for them.  But I think we never did that and I’m thankful that we didn’t and I think that what we’re going to see in the young guys today, I see a lot of them, I think they get along really well. I’ve been a captain on four Presidents Cup teams, and Gary, you’ve captained a similar number of teams, and those guys get along together.  And to have a team event where they dine together, they practice together, they play with partners together, it really forms a camaraderie that lasts a lifetime.  So I like seeing it and I think it’s something that we have and I think that they have.
So I don’t think the kids of today are any different than we were.  I think the stakes are a little higher today.  Maybe the stakes aren’t a little higher.  Maybe the stakes are a little lower because we didn’t have any stakes.

GARY PLAYER:  I’d like to elaborate on that, the two different sides of the coin.  We were playing The World Match Play Championship in Wentworth in England, 36 holes, Jack and I were in the final.  I was not hitting the ball all that well but I was putting extremely well.  Jack said, “You know, you’re just not getting any extension.”  And this is before I’m playing him. He said, “You’re not getting enough extension to start with.”  And I beat him 6 & 4, and he put his arms around me in the end.  Honestly, enjoyed my success as much as he enjoyed his.  Now that’s very rare in golf to see that.  And that’s why I reiterate about the greatest gentleman I ever played with. Now, I played with Sam Snead in The Greenbrier in 1957.  I had no money.  And I was married and I was traveling from South Africa taking 40 hours, stopping four times with no jets and six kids, basically had to win the tournament to break even.  I’m playing with Sam Snead and I play 36 holes with him.  And I tie with him.  And we go in a sudden death playoff and we go seven holes and he beats me on the seventh hole. And I said, “Mr. Snead,” of course I was in awe watching his swing.  I said, “Mr. Snead, is there anything you can do, suggest, that can help my swing?” He said, “I ain’t seen your swing yet, Son.” I’ll never forget that (laughter).

JACK NICKLAUS:  You never told me that story about giving you the lesson before. I do remember giving you.

GARY PLAYER:     Because you wanted a percentage of the prize money.

JACK NICKLAUS:     And he beat me 6 & 4.  You drummed me pretty good a couple of times.

GARY PLAYER:  Yeah, but you got even.

Q.  I’m sure there were countless times when you fellas played sick in a big tournament.

JACK NICKLAUS:  Played sick?

Q.  Given what happened to Dustin Johnson, did either of you have a freak mishap before a big tournament or do you worry about those kind of things?

JACK NICKLAUS:  I think we all did.  I think we all had injuries.  I think we all had things we did.  I can probably name 10 tournaments I had something happen that I just played through.  I don’t recall too many of them that I ended up winning, but it was what it was.

Q.  Do you remember anything in particular that happened to you?  Picking up a kid?

JACK NICKLAUS:  I remember at Muirfield, I won the first two, in ’72, and I slept wrong on my neck the Sunday night before the tournament and I was like this for about three days.  In those days, they didn’t have somebody to fix you.  I wasn’t any good until the weekend and I was a few shots behind, and I ended up catching Trevino,  and he ended up not winning the tournament.  I felt bad about that. I remember Oakmont, I won ’62 and came back, same thing, I hurt my neck.  I started getting a little smart and traveling with my own pillow.  Those are little things but those happen. I sprained my ankle here walking    I think three years in a row, I walked off the 10th green and stepped on a pine cone going to the 11th tee and sprained my ankle here.  I had it wrapped all three years and I might have even won the tournament one of those years, I don’t remember. We all have injuries.  Gary has had injuries.  I’ve had injuries.  You go through them.  I remember, I don’t know how many times, lifting the suitcase into the truck, you pull a rib and you’re sore for about two weeks.  Let’s just play through it. In all the years I played, I withdrew twice from golf tournaments.  From the last round of a World Series of Golf in Akron in 1981, my back got me and I went right to my knees and they carried me off the practice tee right before the last round.  I was in third place going into that.  And I was playing with Gary in 1973…  ’83…

GARY PLAYER:  On the 10th tee.

JACK NICKLAUS:  10th tee, had the same thing happen, because it was two years later.  He carried me    he didn’t carry me, but he literally carried me into the locker room.  Only two times I ever had to withdraw from a golf tournament.  Those were the two times I couldn’t play. I’m sure you’ve had some.

GARY PLAYER:  In the World Cup in Spain, which we beat you and Arnold that time in Madrid, and there was no gym.

JACK NICKLAUS:  We played with Tony Lema there.

GARY PLAYER:  Well, today these guys have a traveling gymnasium, there’s skin specialists, psychiatrists, men of life, of all cultures.  It was a different time, obviously.  And you’ve got a gym in every hotel now. We were playing and there was no gym and I had to do my squats and I had a friend called George Bloomberg who was sharing a room and I knocked on his door and I said:  George, come here, I have to do my squats.  Get on my back here (demonstrating squats).  So he bends down and I hold his legs like this and I’m doing my squats like this and pop.  Man, he was fat (laughter) or should I say, I was weak. Now we’re leading the tournament and my friend Harold from South Africa needed the money, and I phoned him and I said, “Harry, I can’t play.” He says, “Don’t tell me that.”  He says, “Tell my lawyer that.” He says, “You’d better play today.”  I took a whole bunch of aspirin and I had a guy rubbing my back and twisting me, and he went on and won the tournament. Tiger Woods, he won the U.S. Open, was it at Torrey Pines where he played basically on one leg.  Injuries; funny enough, I think what hurts more golfers is confusion of the swing rather than injuries.  People, they play through injuries.  I mean, I know, hundreds of times in life, in my 64 years as a pro, that players arrived with bad injuries and they played.

JACK NICKLAUS:  You’re obviously asking because of what Dustin did.  I have no idea, zero, how Dustin is, so I can’t really comment. But my bet is, that he’ll try and play but the thing that Gary is talking about is the uncertainty of what you don’t know.  What is going to catch you, what is going to hurt you, how is it going to affect you, and how is it going to affect you mentally.  That’s the part of the injury. Unless Dustin really hurt himself, rather than tweaked himself.  If he hurt himself, he won’t play. But if he tweaked himself, it will be the unknown that he’s going to go through.  And generally speaking, that only lasts about two holes, and he’ll think, I’m all right, go play.  Or he won’t be all right.  We just don’t know.

Q.  Both of you participate in social media to some degree.  Do you think would you have willingly participated in social media in your prime, and do you think it can and does have an effect on the performance of not only golfers but all athletes at all levels?

GARY PLAYER:  In our time, when I first came to this great country and I wanted to phone my father in South Africa, I had to book the call today and I would get the call tomorrow because the cables were under the ocean.  And if the ocean was very rough, you never got your call.  And if there was, sometimes you couldn’t hear. Today, it’s just amazing what happens.  When I had my hole-in-one here, last year, I’m getting e mails as I walk off the green from Peru, China, India and South Africa.  My daughter is on the beach, my one daughter is at that one, Machu Pichu, in Peru.  It’s just frightening the things that happen. We live in a very different world.  Whether it’s a better world is debatable. Young children today, they come in school, they don’t do any exercise, they get fat, diabetes. It’s just a different world.  You can also see exactly what’s happening immediately.  I’m driving this morning, on comes the car on the front of the screen exactly what’s going to happen with the weather today.  We are just unfamiliar with those kind of things. It’s good and it’s bad.

JACK NICKLAUS:  Well, to answer your question, I can’t see that far. Gary, you know that I can barely text, let alone know what my social media… you know, Scott Tolley obviously handles most of that.  But I will say that what I do with social media and I’m sure that Gary does the same, somebody in the office will come up with an idea; or I have something that I say something, and I’ll give it to Scott or he has Brittany in his office that puts this stuff together. And it doesn’t come from me.  You know that.  I’m not sitting there with a telephone and doing that. But do I see it and pay attention to it?  I think I want to know what goes out under my name.  Do I think that it is the wave of what happens today?  Absolutely.  Should we ignore it?  No. I had Pete Egoscue I talked to yesterday, the guy I work my exercise stuff with, and Pete, he says, “For crying out loud, will you organize your voicemail so you can get voice messages.” I said, “Pete, I don’t want voice messages. I have plenty of people who can get voice messages for me.” I said, “I do not want to become a slave to my telephone.” I said, “I will text.” If you don’t text with your grandkids, you don’t communicate with them. So I text with my grandkids and I text with people that I really want to text with, but most of the time I try to get away from it. That’s not what I want to do and that’s not what I want to spend my life doing. I get Scott Tolley, I’m sure you guys all fall into the same category, how many messages did you have to return this morning, 300 some? I mean, 300 some every day, do I want to do that every day?  I have other things to do in my life besides knowing there’s some guy wanting to know if I had a hangnail on my right finger when I hooked the ball.  I don’t need to know that. You get what I’m saying? I think there’s a balance.  I think both Gary and I need to be involved in it in a certain way, but I don’t want to get absorbed by it. But I don’t want to ignore it, either.

MODERATOR:  Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so very much for being here and Jack and Gary.  It is a pleasure for us to have you down here in this press building.  Thank you very much.