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Price Gets Closer to Recapturing the Spirit of ’94

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In the last two years, Nick Price lost his caddie to leukemia, developed severe sinus problems, missed enough putts to fill the Irish Sea and played, well, not that well.

The most obvious things you could always say about Price, the 41-year-old from Zimbabwe who lives in Florida, is 1) he has good hair, 2) he has a neon smile and 3) he was terrific in 1994 when he won the British Open and the PGA Championship.

Anyway, it’s beginning to look like a new beginning for Price, at least in majors. All right, Price missed the cut at the Masters, but he finished a strong fourth at the U.S. Open and after Thursday’s first round of the British Open at Royal Birkdale, Price is one shot behind with a four-under 66.

So as far as comebacks go, this is a pretty good place to start.

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Price had six birdies and two bogeys and played very much like the guy who was the PGA Tour player of the year in 1993 when he won four times and again in 1994 when he won six times.

If there is any reason for his turnaround, Price said it’s his putting.

“I hate to harp on this, but that’s been my biggest problem,” Price said. “My game from tee to green has been solid. If I could just get to putt like I did in that spell from ’92 through ’94, I would probably have won a couple of tournaments this year.”

Price switched to a new putter at the Western Open, where he finished tied for 22nd. He now uses a face-balanced mallet putter instead of a blade putter. Price said he is now able to be more focused on the speed of his putts.

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“When I’ve been putting poorly in the past, I seem to try to start the ball on line and then I lose speed or don’t think about speed as much as I should. Putting is such a fickle thing. I think it’s a science, a game within a game. You know, there’s no doubt about it.”

Whether Price, who has won once on the PGA Tour since 1994, can once again become a major player, well, there’s no doubt about that either, at least in his mind.

“I still have the desire, which I think is the key,” Price said. “I’ve got priorities in order. My kids have no idea what I do. My kids are too young to understand. They still think Greg Norman is a better golfer than I am.”

For updates during each round of the British Open, a quiz testing your knowledge of tournament history and photos of the top players, go to The Times’ Web site: https://www.latimes.com/britishopen

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