Price has his priorities straight heading into RTO
Appeal Sports Writer
RENO – In the early 1990s, Nick Price was the best golfer in the world, winning three majors in a three-year span.
To be the best, however, takes sacrifices, and for Price, that meant continued time away from his family. A few years ago, Price put the family first, and he doesn’t regret the change in priority one bit, even though his game has slipped.
Price is participating in this week’s Reno Tahoe Open, his second tournament after a seven-week vacation in the Bahamas and Mexico with his wife and three children.
“The last three years I’ve taken the majority of the summer off to spend time with my family,” said the 49-year-old Price before his pro-am round Wednesday afternoon. “They are growing up so fast, and I really want to. My son (Gregory) is 15 and the way I see it, I only have another two years with him coming on family vacations and then the family will start splitting up, and I just want to enjoy that time with him.
“I haven’t worked as hard on my game as my contemporaries, Jay Haas and Fred Funk. I am at a point in my life where the more time I spend at the golf course, the more time I am away from the kids, which I have done my whole career.”
Price admits that taking the time off has affected his game. For the first time in his career, he’s in danger of falling out of the top-125. His best finish was a tie for 16th at the FedEx St. Jude Classic. He has missed seven cuts of 11 tournaments entered, including the PGA Championship and U.S. Open.
It’s a far cry from 1992-94 when he won 12 times, including two PGA Championship crowns and one British Open title. He was one of only three players to win two majors in the 1990s, and one of only seven players to win back-to-back majors. He finished second four times and third twice. Taking things further, he had 29 top-10 finishes. For a two-year span, he was as dominant as guys like Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
“You know someone asked me yesterday, ‘how is life?’, and I said perfect or it would be perfect if my game was good,” he said. “It (my game) is the only thing suffering at the moment. Other than that, I feel like I’m being a good father and doing all the things that need to be done. You know you only get this opportunity once in your life, to be a good parent and I just want to make sure that while my kids are growing up that I’m there for them. I have had a great career, and I’m not saying that it is over, but my priorities have definitely shifted.”
After being No. 1, Price said he went through a change mentally.
“I still love playing the game,” Price said. “Obviously I still love playing the game and being competitive, and when you are not competitive you have to take a review of things and step back and look outside in and say what am I going to do?
“As I said, I still love playing the game, and I love to come out and play in tournaments but I know that my game is not where it needs to be. So, you kind of have a little bit of a fatalistic, I suppose is the right word, approach to the game. I’m not going to panic, but there certainly is a huge psychological adjustment that you have to make when your game goes south a little bit and I have been through that. If anything, it has probably made me understand that there is so much more to life outside of golf, which I always knew.”
Price admits that he’s biding time until he can join the Champions Tour (age 50 and above) in four months.
“It is scrappy,” Price said when asked to describe his game. “Although this year I have had a couple of good tournaments where I have played OK, the best way to describe my game is that I’m treading water waiting for the Champions Tour.
“I really feel that I can crank it up a notch or two and be competitive on the Champions Tour, which is what I’m looking forward to. I’m not saying that it is going to be easy on the Champions Tour, because there are a lot of guys who really are playing well and they play everyday. I want to go out there and have fun, and enjoy my health and play with the guys who I started out on the Tour playing with.”
Price hopes an equipment change with his driver will help his progress.
“My driving has been terrible,” he said. “I figured out something awhile back, a week or so ago. I grew up using a driver that was 43 inches, and then eventually I went to a 44 1/2-inch driver which was the old standard, and I used that.
“At the PGA, I drove the ball poorly. I shortened my driver to 43 3/4, and the last three days I have been driving the ball much better and probably hitting the ball the same distance as I probable did with a 44 1/2-inch driver. I have gone retro. I have figured out that I can hit the ball further, but I am not going to have the consistency I need. I’ll hit my fairways. That has definitely been the worst part of my game, and when that has been your strength for so many years, to suddenly be chopping out of the rough, when you are accustomed to attacking flags with your irons, it’s a bit of a turnaround.”
Price is making his first stop at the RTO, and he likes the beauty of the area and the course itself.
“I played the front nine yesterday (Tuesday),” Price said. “It is what I expected here with the Ponderosa Pines and the elevation changes. It really is a pretty golf course. It is strategic, too. You have to know what you are doing here. You have to take into account the elevation changes and altitude. Club selection is going to be the biggest challenge.
“It is really pretty here. A lot of my friends came to the hunting convention here in January, friends from back home, and they told me about the area. Also, it just fit perfect into my schedule.”
Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281
The Price File
Full name: Nicholas Raymond Leige Price
Birthdate: January 28, 1957
Birthplace: Durban, South Africa
Turned pro: 1977
Biggest wins: 1992 PGA Championship, 1993 The Players Championship, 1994 British Open, 1994 PGA Championship