Take an exit poll at the scoring trailer at any PGA TOUR event.
Ask every competitor who is the nicest, most congenial and friendly player on TOUR. Chances are the name of Nick Price will be on the tips of the vast majority of wagging tongues.
There is a reason.
Everyone simply loves Price, the native of Durban, South Africa, who, from top to bottom, has endeared himself to his peers, the TOUR staff, tournament directors, pro-am partners, volunteers, autograph seekers, club house attendants and members of the sometimes cynical media.
Examples of Price's random acts of kindness abound. Matter of fact, it would take a volume of work on the order of the Encyclopedia Britannica to list them all. For instance, Price is a major supporter of the Harare Shelter for Destitutes in his native Zimbabwe, a program for 150 children who have lost parents to AIDS, or whose parents are blind. He also has established "Hearts and Hope'' in West Palm Beach, Fla., a program that helps children who have lost a parent.
One on-course anecdote underlines what Price, the thoughtful man, is all about. As Price was making a triumphant walk toward the 18th green in the 1994 British Open at Turnberry, he noticed his caddie, the late Jeff "Squeeky'' Medlin, had dropped back to allow Price his moment in the Scottish sun. When Price noticed what was happening, he motioned for Medlin to join him.
"I said, 'You -- come up here,' '' Price said. "He came running up and said, 'No, Nick, I want you to go. You go and enjoy it.'
"I said, 'Squeek, you and I have done this together. You're walking with me onto that 18th green, right next to me.'"
Price and Medlin finished golf's most prestigious stroll locked arm-in-arm, bathed in a thunderous ovation. "And that smile on his face, man,'' Price recalled of his caddie and friend. "He was lit up.''
That's Price for you. The anecdote underlines why he received the third Payne Stewart Award from the PGA TOUR in 2002, following Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus in 2000 and Ben Crenshaw in 2001.
"Nick Price has earned this honor because of the way he has represented himself and the game throughout his career,'' PGA TOUR commissioner Tim Finchem said at the awards ceremony. "He doesn't just talk about integrity, sportsmanship and giving back to others less fortunate. He applies those values in his own life.''
Finchem was preaching to the PGA TOUR choir.
"I think the players recognize what a great guy he is,'' Davis Love III said of Price. "People always ask who is the nicest guy on TOUR and Nick Price's name always comes up. He is a role model out here that a lot of players need to pay attention to.''
Price also happens to have crafted a Hall of Fame career while treating others with compassion and respect. Blessed with one of the most fundamentally sound golf swings in the game, Price burst onto the world's golf stage at the 1982 British Open. He held a three-stroke lead with six holes left, but faltered. Tom Watson beat him by one stroke. In 1983 he went wire-to-wire to defeat Jack Nicklaus by two strokes in the World Series of Golf. But he struggled for almost a decade before being rewarded for his persistence and hard work. Price scored a breakthrough victory at the 1992 PGA Championship and through 1994, he dominated international golf. In 1993, he won four PGA TOUR events, including THE PLAYERS Championship, and was named PGA TOUR Player of the Year. Price then turned in one of golf's great seasons in 1994, winning six times, including the British Open and PGA Championship and again was named Player of the Year. He spent 43 weeks sitting atop the Official World Golf Rankings during his torrid stretch.
The United States Golf Association honored Price in 2005 with the Bob Jones Award. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2003 and received the ASAP Award from the Golf Writers Association of America in 2002, several months before he garnered the Stewart award for sharing Stewart's respect for the traditions of the game, his commitment to uphold the game's heritage of charitable support and his professional and meticulous presentation of himself and the sport through his conduct.
In 2007, the 50-year-old became eligible for the Champions Tour and has already made an impact on that circuit. Price has finished inside the top 10 nine times in 13 tries this year.
competed against Stewart throughout most of his career, and he noted
during the 2002 ceremony at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Ga., that he
was born one day before Stewart. Like Price, Stewart also won three
majors, including the 1999 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, just four
months before his private plane flew uncontrolled across the country
before crashing in a South Dakota field.
"He loved the limelight,'' Price said of Stewart. "We miss him a lot. There's a big hole in our TOUR.''