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A different perspective

Posted: March 13, 2008 1:22 a.m.
Updated: May 14, 2008 5:03 a.m.
 
At his peak, few could beat him. He was the best golfer in the world. But Nick Price has been beaten down lately.

Now in his second year on the Champions Tour, the South African-native who once dominated the PGA TOUR says he's no longer dominant.

"I've played so poorly that if I say I want to try and win every event, that would be a pipe dream," says Price, who is competing in his first AT&T Champions Classic at Valencia Country Club. "I'm trying to find some form. Maybe I'll be back in that competitive spirit because I haven't had it for a while."

It's surprising to hear coming from a World Golf Hall of Famer who won 18 times on the PGA TOUR and has career earnings over $20 million.

But Price said his last couple of years have been subpar.

He finished his rookie season on the Champions Tour in 2007 ranked 40th in total earnings - another surprise as his name carries so much weight in the game of golf.

He's currently 34th.

But he's been encouraged lately with his play.

Price finished fifth in The ACE Group Classic on Feb. 17 and made a cut on the PGA TOUR's Mayakoba Golf Classic Feb. 24.

"I still love to play don't get me wrong, but if I could get a spark, it gets me to play better, and it's starting to come now. There's a little bit of a spark because I played well a couple of weeks back," the 51-year-old says. "If I can get that going, then I think I can get on a roll and that is what this game's all about. It's about getting momentum."

Price says he about bottomed out a couple of months ago.

It's made him look at golf in a different way.

He's thankful for the opportunity to play on the Champions Tour, but the more important thing in his life now is family.
He has children aged 16, 14 and 11.

Whereas before if he'd be fishing or flying, golf would be on his mind, now his life outside of golf takes up more space in his consciousness.

But at one point, it was all he could think about.

Why not, when you're as good as he was.

"Nick was No. 1 in the world. At the time he played ridiculously good golf," said Champions Tour/PGA TOUR golfer Fred Funk. "Nick was truly one of the best players of all time. Not only that he's one of the best guys of all time, Nick is just a really special person with extraordinary talent and it's never gone to his head. He worked really hard to be No. 1 and he achieved it and kept himself as being the same person he always is."

Price's career started to soar in the early 1990s.

He describes himself before that as being a journeyman. But thereafter, he was the man to beat.

He won his first of three career majors in 1992 at the PGA Championship.

In 1994, he won the event again as well as the British Open.

Price won six events that year.

"What was great about it, it was a reward for all the hard work that I'd done. Being No. 1 is fantastic, but there's a lot of guys that play really well who never get to No. 1. I was just fortunate that I was rewarded to get that spot," Price says. "When everything you work on gels and comes to fruition, it's a wonderful feeling. It's just a feeling that, 'I can do this. I can go out and play well week in and week out,' and that's what's fun."

He described it as feeling like Tiger Woods, where everyone else is playing for second place.

Based off playing experience and past success, Price is still a threat on the Champions Tour, whether he admits it or not.

But because he is not playing at the same level that he once did, his desire isn't what it was.

"It's a double-edge sword or chicken-and-the-egg syndrome or horse before the cart. The way you play, I think it's a little bit of both. You have to play at a certain level to play out here and if you're not playing at that level, it's almost impossible to win," Price says. "I'm not saying it's impossible, but it becomes extremely taxing on your physical and mental abilities. If I start playing better, hopefully I'll get that competitiveness back in me. But it hasn't been there for a while."

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