Playing the 71st hole, par 5, Price of Zimbabwe felt he needed a birdie to give himself a chance. He did better than that. He got an eagle, knocked in 50 feet, and went on to win by stroke Jasper Barnevik Sweden.
Price, 66, speaking on the phone from his home in Florida, recently reflected on his Open Championship victory and why it was so special. The conversation has been edited and intensified.
Where would you place your victory at Turnberry?
Having finished second twice, in 1982 and 1988, it was something I very much wanted. It’s the first major tournament I’ve ever seen on TV. He meant more to me.
What challenges do Royal Liverpool players face?
I think your regular golf links. One of the real keys to golf hooking is hitting the ball straight. That was the philosophy of Tom Watson, who has always been an expert on links courses. He said it didn’t really matter whether you missed the ball or something else, but if you hit it right you could play a links tournament, and no truer words would be spoken.
What was the opening that you saw for the first time?
In 1969, when Tony Jacqueline won at Royal Lytham. We didn’t have live TV in those days. Tobacco companies used to have all these 16mm films they used to bring to their golf clubs. They were doing two shows, one on a Friday night and one on a Saturday night. I can remember sitting on the floor of the golf course in the main hall in front of the screen watching with two or three of my friends. It was an interesting thing. I didn’t know you could make money playing professional golf.
What is the key to your victory?
Putting the 17th was huge, but I birdied the 16th hole, which really put me in a position to win. I played the hole absolutely perfect. I bumped the driver in there so I could get a 60-degree wedge of sand, which I had the most spin on. I used a little slope behind the pin as a backboard and pulled the ball back off the slope to about 15 feet and holed a very difficult left-to-right shot.
How about Bernhard Langer who recently set the record for most wins as a senior?
What amazes me about him is the desire. He still has the desire. For many of us who have stepped aside or retired, he is just an amazing human being.
You are only seven months older. Can you imagine yourself doing what he does?
No, I had an injury that sent me sliding towards retirement in 2012. But even then, if I hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t have played as much – in some events, but not as well as he does.
You weren’t excited about the Senior Tour anyway, were you?
Not real. I toured regularly until I turned 50, so I was a little jaded for the first three of my four years on the Champions Tour. Didn’t inspire me.
What is your biggest regret?
I wish I had come to America sooner. Here my progress accelerated much more. I should have been at the end of 1980 instead of 1983.
When you play with friends these days, what motivates you?
Love the game, that’s what it’s all about. I must keep moving my targets. Not what it was. Yesterday, I shot 71. I broke the level. I’m playing off the second set of tees, a course about 6,700 yards. It’s still fun for me, especially with the guys I play with. I try to be selective about the courses I play. I just like to play tournaments that I enjoy playing. That’s one of the things you can be when you get to my age.