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August 18, 2003

Jack Nicklaus

Gary Player

JAMES CRAMER: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, my name is James Cramer, Senior Manager of Communications and Media Operations for the PGA TOUR. I would like to welcome every one to today's Presidents Cup teleconference. In just a few minutes international team Captain Gary Player and United States Captain Jack Nicklaus will announce their two choices to complete their 12-man teams. The 10 automatic qualifiers were determined following the conclusion of yesterday's PGA Championship. A complete listing of the United States International Teams is available on The Presidents Cup web site www.presidentscup.com. After each Captain has made its two picks we'll open the phone lines to the media for questions. Gary Player is not only the Captain of the International Team; he also designed links course at The Links course at Fancourt Hotel and Country Club Estate where this year's Presidents Cup will be held. Captain Player is joining us today from South Africa where it is 5:30 in the afternoon. I would now like to ask Captain Player to announce his first Captain's pick and share a few comments about that choice. Captain Player.

CAPTAIN PLAYER: Good evening, James, and my first choice is K. J. Choi from South Korea. K. J. has been -- I think consistency in golf is a very important thing, and K. J. Has -- he's performed his consistency on the most difficult Tour in the world, obviously, the United States. And besides being very strong physically, he has an all-around game and I think he will an terrific team member.

JAMES CRAMER: Thank you very much, Captain Player. Jack Nicklaus has the honor of being the United States' Presidents Cup Captain for a second time this year. He captained the team in 1998 Royal Melbourne in Australia. Captain Nicklaus is joining us today from Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin where he is at the grand opening of the Bull at Pinehurst Farms the newest golf course that he has designed. I would now like to ask Captain Nicklaus to announce his first pick and also share his thoughts about that thought.

CAPTAIN NICKLAUS: My first pick is Fred Funk. Freddie was probably one of the most enthusiastic guys I know on the Tour. Fred told me at the Memorial tournament - he says, Jack, I will row a boat to South Africa to get there. I said, well, Freddie, I hope you play well enough to get there and Fred Funk kept moving up on the list and he a good PGA Championship last week and at 47 years old he will bring a lot of experience, a lot of support. He will be a good team member. He has not had international competition experience, however, I think that his age and maturity will be something that will be good. Freddie and I were kidding last night he says, you know, this maybe my last chance. I said, well, we're going to give it to you, Fred, love to have you on the team. He said, I accept.

JAMES CRAMER: Thank you very much, Captain Nicklaus. Captain Player, would you now please announce your second pick.

CAPTAIN PLAYER: My second pick is Tim Clark. I come back to consistency and doing it on the most difficult Tour in the world. The thing that many people forget in their minds is that Tim Clark finished, if I am not mistaken, 13th in The Masters Championship this year, an outstanding event. He has won just under a million dollars on the U.S. tour and his performance in the PGA was absolutely magnificent. And we got in touch with quite a few of our team members and they are delighted to have Tim on board. It could be windy at the links golf course at Fancourt. There's a possibility. Tim Clark is long off the tee and he's a particularly good wooden player and will make a very, very good team member.

JAMES CRAMER: Thank you Captain Player. Captain Nicklaus, would you now please announce the second player you have chosen.

CAPTAIN NICKLAUS: Yeah, my second player is Jay Haas. And I selected Jay for a couple of reasons. One, obviously, Jay had a wonderful year this year. He had a good PGA Championship. He has had a lot of international experience. He's played on President Cup and Ryder Cup teams previously. I felt like we have three fellows -- actually four fellows on the team now that do not have international competition experience. I thought the stability and the steadiness that Jay brings to the team will be something that I think will be really important; particularly on foreign soil.

JAMES CRAMER: Thank you, both very much. We would now like to open the phone lines for questions from the media.

Q. Jack, curious, you were in an unusual situation, the last two majors Major Championships have been won by young Americans who have not won a major championship before obviously. Did you have any inclining to give them a chance to compete for their country on your team?

CAPTAIN NICKLAUS: Absolutely. I had several players that I was looking at very closely. I got this material here in front of me, profiles of probably the top 22 or 3 fellows that were on the list and had a chance to make it. I felt like if I was going to select a Ben Curtis or a Shaun Micheel, then I would select both of them. I thought that Chad Campbell who had made a tremendous run, and one that certainly it was very deserving of having an opportunity to make the team. I think that the reason I did not select either one of those three players was a matter of inexperience of some -- of basically -- not that Chris DiMarco, Jerry Kelly, or Charles Howell are inexperienced. They are good players, but they haven't had any international experience. And travelling to South Africa I have felt that the stability of a couple of older players; guys that have been around and guys who have played and guys that have had good years, would help the team. I think that Chad Campbell is going to make a lot of teams in the future. He's going to play a lot of international golf. I certainly was very impressed by what Shaun Micheel did yesterday. I thought his stability down the end, how consistent he was and how well he played the finish was fantastic. Unfortunately I did not get an opportunity to see Ben Curtis play at the British Open but everybody told me how great he played. I was very -- you know, we gave him an exemption for the Memorial tournament earlier this year which sort of proved to us that we made a good choice there when he went off an won the British Open. I had a lot of other fellows that I gave a lot of considerations. I mean, obviously Bob Estes was a big consideration. I had Jeff Sluman, Scott Verplank, Brad Faxon, three guys that I was looking at to see how they were playing in the PGA Championship. Unfortunately, all three of them missed the cut. So I wanted to look at what guys are doing, what they are doing in significant events, and it's never an easy choice to select anybody, and I just felt like what I did was I think the best for the team.

Q. Jack, we haven't seen a close exciting Presidents Cup at least, you know, compared to what we have seen in recent Ryder Cup matches. I am wondering with all the talent on the International Team, if you think this might be the year we get a real exciting edge-of-your-seat kind of matchup?

CAPTAIN NICKLAUS: I think each one of the matches have been won by the home team, if I am not mistaken. Is this the fifth Presidents Cup?


CAPTAIN NICKLAUS: I think we've won three times on the U.S. Soil and when I Captained Australia we got run down there. My hope is that -- I know the International Team is a very strong team - very, very strong as far as I am concerned. They fell a little bit in the same category as our team though, they go down to seven or eight and then they sort of drop off in international team competition experience, or experience that may be in a lot of international competitions. The first start of both teams are just excellent. The second half of the team which is where you are going to win the matches, and we hopefully -- what I am trying to do is put on a strong enough team and when we get down to South Africa that we are competitive as a team and we'll be there at the end of the match. I certainly hope so. I think all of the guys felt like -- I mean, I think Davis has made the comment, I read it in the magazine the other day he said, we owe Jack one. I think what he meant by that -- you know, I think a lot of the guys got to Australia last time and they really enjoyed the trip, but I am not sure they were there to play golf. All I have ever said this year is -- and I have talked to none of the players other than the media at the Memorial tournament this year about coming and playing. I didn't want to try to convince anybody to play. I didn't want to try to coerce them into playing. All I said is all I want is 12 guys to go to South Africa who want to play golf. And I think I have got 12 guys who want to play golf.

Q. Do you see also this year's Presidents Cup as a way for the U.S., as a team, to find a little bit of redemption in light of last year's disappointment at the Belfry; obviously different event, but same nations, same national team spirit at stake?

CAPTAIN NICKLAUS: Well, you know, I take a different view, I suppose, than a lot of people of an international competition. I take the view as whether it's an international competition for goodwill, sportsmanship, and much like Gary, I am sure Gary takes it the same way, is that we want to provide a good platform for the game of golf to grow in the country we're going to and the countries around the world that are competing in this event. And the representatives to represent themselves well and make a good showing. Who wins? Obviously Gary wants to win; I want to win. There's no question about that and it's pride for us to win, but it's not the most important thing. The most important thing is to have a great event. And would I like to win? Absolutely, I'd love to win. Will I want our guys to play hard? Absolutely. I wouldn't have chosen Fred and Jay if I didn't think they could add, in the balance of our team, to produce a team that can win in South Africa. Sure, everybody goes down there to win, they want to win. And they want to do it in the right way and make a proper platform and a proper something that really leaves a lasting impression upon, particularly the youth of South Africa, to help them bring kids into the game and people into the game from all walks of life.

Q. I wanted to ask whether you fellows have done any thinking in respect of or made any provision for the fact that somebody may not be available? In other words, have you chosen any official reserves?

CAPTAIN NICKLAUS: I can start off with that. I will make my announcement of my Assistant Captain on Wednesday and that Assistant Captain has been told that -- who has accepted, has been told that to have his golf game ready and if one of the boys happen to get sick or can't play when they are in South Africa that he would be the alternate there. But I am not sure that he will be the alternate if somebody decided, let's say, in the next couple of weeks decided not to go; I might pick another person because I do need an Assistant Captain and somebody who is actively working while we are there. So I have got actually an opportunity for two fellows that I am thinking of and if that situation arises, I certainly hope it doesn't, though.

Q. Gary, I am just wondering if you could tell us who are your most difficult phone calls possibly to make to tell them that they weren't going to be on the team?

CAPTAIN PLAYER: First of all, my team like Jack's have been very enthusiastic throughout the year. This means an awful lot to them. Having an 800 million viewing audience is also a significant in a golf professional's career, not early as Jack so aptly said everybody wants to win, but we want this to be -- Jack and I have spoken about this -- to be played in the right spirit. I simply cannot say that the Ryder Cup over the last few years has been played in the right spirit. This year that just took place it certainly was. But prior to that you were hearing people say this is the War at the Shore, and people were running on the greens before other people had putted. And the British players were slow-playing the Americans, and they were certainly not the role model for the kins of millions of viewers to be watching two great allies playing against each other which was Sam Ryder's whole intention, these two great allies to be playing the game, as Jack correctly said, in the true spirit. This is something that I will hammer home with my players because I think it's important. The youth of South Africa, we have just in our infancy of a true democracy in this country and this is a very big thing for the majority of young Black youths, some of them living in very poor conditions, with a dream that could be fulfilled with having a man like Tiger Woods come along to South Africa and the greatest player that ever lived Jack Nicklaus as the Captain and a very able team, this could be a big thing for them in their lives because golf in South Africa, prior to recent, was a white elitist sport. Now, it's changing dramatically. We have golf development programs. We have at golf academies, 50% of some of the people taking place are now Black. We have a lot of businessmen that are participating in the sport. It's very, very encouraging so this, to me, is a very, very exciting match and, you know professional golfers, when Jack Nicklaus and I played a friendly round, we played for $10, we tried to beat the hell out of each other. This has been the most healthy thing that has ever happened in my association with Jack in the past. We love to beat each other. If one loses -- and I have always said that Jack Nicklaus was the best loser in golf. Everybody knows he was the best winner, but one of your great football coaches said, show me a good loser and I will show you a non-winner. Well, that's hogwash. Jack Nicklaus has proven this to be absolute nonsense. We both see eye to eye on our teams behaving extremely well - none of the funny things have taken place in the Ryder Cup. As I said this, last year the Ryder Cup was a breath of fresh air as compared to the ones prior to that.

Q. I am curious who were the toughest players for him to omit (laughter) --

CAPTAIN PLAYER: Well, you get to 68 you know you can't remember everything. It's going to happen to you. I get a mulligan. We had a lot of players obviously closed up there. You know, a man that I really was very keen on in the beginning in the year and was playing so extremely well was Trevor Immelman but his game has gone off very, very much so, quite a surprise. I was very surprised and I have to pick a person -- then you take a Eduardo Romero who finished 12th on the list. Well, he's nearly 50 and you take a man like -- and he's done most of his record in Europe; where if you look at somebody like Tim Clark, he's done it in the United States. And I'd much rather have, quite honestly, a 27 year old playing for my money than a 50 year old.

CAPTAIN NICKLAUS: What does that mean, Gary?

CAPTAIN PLAYER: It means I am pleased you pick the oldies. (Laughs).

Q. Jack, I am wondering after the last Presidents Cup or during the last Presidents Cup, a lot of the players sound a little iffy about making the big trip all the way over. They didn't sound very enthusiastic about it. I wonder if you have any gut feelings or any early indications of whether most of the players that qualified will all be on board when you go?

CAPTAIN NICKLAUS: All the indications that I have had is that all the players that have qualified are going. And all of them are going enthusiastically. That's what I ask of them and that's what they all told me, that they wanted to go and work. I have not heard anything to the contrary.

Q. You are coming to Akron on Wednesday, I believe. Will that be the only team you will get together with the team or will you plan something before you go over?

CAPTAIN NICKLAUS: Probably the only time, George. I don't think there's anything else scheduled. I think all the fellows that were selected, I think they will get all their schedules. They will find out what the airlines or what -- how they are going to get there or what they are going to do, what kind of accommodations. We'll ask them all -- what other stuff they want to do -- what they are going to do while they are down there. And then I think all the fellows will probably assemble like the Monday evening prior to the matches down in South Africa.

Q. Same question, Gary, what about you? Will you try to get together with the guys someplace?

CAPTAIN PLAYER: It's not as easy for me to get to the United States as it is for Jack to fly from wherever he is. But I am coming back for a Senior in Ireland, so if Baker-Finch my Vice-Captain will be there, then we're trying to set up a phone call that I can speak to all the guys, it's not very easy when you are practicing at a championship, some guys want to play early, some guys got a late starting time to get them altogether, it's not easy but we are working on that right now to do it.

JAMES CRAMER: I would like to thank both Captains for taking time out of their very busy schedules to join us today. Thank you both. We look forward to seeing everyone this November 17th to the 23rd at the Links at Fancourt Estate and Country Club Hotel in George, South Africa. Captains, once again, thank you very much.


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