Three-time major winner Nick Price is ready to end his self-imposed exile from the British Open by playing in next year’s tournament at Lytham, the scene of his famous duel with Seve Ballesteros in 1988.
The Zimbabwean golfer, who won the British Open at Turnberry in 1994, hasn’t played in the event since 2005, choosing instead to dedicate his summer to his three children.
“I’m really hoping to be there (at Lytham). Don’t hold me to it but I’m going to try. … I’ve missed coming to the British Open,” the 54-year-old Price said on Wednesday, on the eve of the Senior British Open at Walton Heath.
Price almost entered this year’s Open at Sandwich -- won by Northern Ireland’s Darren Clarke on Sunday -- but was concerned it would affect his busy summer playing schedule, which includes the U.S. Senior Open next week.
“I just didn’t think I could play four tournaments in a row, on two different continents. So I decided to skip that one,” Price said.
Price has played three Opens at Lytham, coming closest to winning in 1988 when he entered the final day two shots ahead of Ballesteros and Nick Faldo.
As Faldo dropped off, it ended up being a duel between Price and Ballesteros, with the late Spanish great winning by two strokes thanks to a final-round 65.
“It was a very exciting time -- you’re going head to head with one of the greatest players in your generation,” Price said. “I was convinced I was going to win … but that’s Seve.”
Price, who also won the PGA Championship twice, said he has no regrets taking the last six summers off. But he’s eager to rediscover the thrill of playing links golf at the British Open.
“I used to drag my kids around the world in June, July and August,” Price said. “It wasn’t much of a summer for them -- I remember seven years ago my son saying to me, ‘I don’t think I want to come with you to the tournaments this summer,’ and it suddenly dawned on me that staying in hotels and walking around golf courses wasn’t a summer vacation for them.
“I decided to take that time off to give them back my time and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’ve missed coming to the British Open. I think I played 25 Opens but I do still watch it, wherever I am in the world. It’s still the world championship of golf.”
Price said finishing in the top 15 next year wouldn’t be beyond him, but that he doesn’t expect to emulate Tom Watson and compete for the title, like the American did at Turnberry in 2009 when he lost to Stewart Cink in a playoff.
“What Tom Watson did two years ago was nothing short of miraculous,” Price said. “Save for what I thought was a really bad bounce on No. 18, he would have won the Open. And to me that would have been one of the greatest achievements in sport.”
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