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August 15, 2005

Jack Nicklaus

Gary Player

JAMES CRAMER: Everyone, my name is James Cramer, director of public relations for the PGA TOUR, and I'd like to welcome you to today Presidents Cup teleconference. In just a few minutes, United States Team Captain Jack Nicklaus and International Team captain Gary Player will announce their two choices to complete their 12-man teams. The 10 automatic qualifiers were determined following the conclusion of the PGA Championship earlier today. A complete listing of the U.S. and International squads is available on the PresidentsCup.com Website. After each captain has made his two picks, we will open the phone lines for the media for questions. Jack Nicklaus has the honor of being the United States Presidents Cup Captain for a third time. He captained the team in 1998 in Australia and again two years ago in South Africa. Captain Nicklaus is joining us from Palm Beach, Florida and I would like to now ask Captain Nicklaus to announce his first pick and share is some thoughts about that first quick.

CAPTAIN NICKLAUS: My first pick is Justin Leonard. Justin finished 11th in the points standing. He is the 10th-ranked American, 22nd overall in the official World Rankings going into the PGA Championship. He won twice on the PGA TOUR this year at the Bob Hope and the FedEx St. Jude Classic. He also had a Top-10 late in June and a tie for 7 in the Barclays. Going into the PGA Championship, he and Fred Couples had the best collective performance in the majors for a U.S. player outside of Tiger. Justin is a major championship winner, 1997 British Open, ten-time winner on the PGA TOUR, and he won two points for us at Fancourt in the last team.

JAMES CRAMER: Thank you, Captain Nicklaus. Again Captain Nicklaus has chosen Justin Leonard with the first pick. Gary Player, who had the honor of captaining International Team in his home country returns to captain the International Team for a second time this year. Captain Player is also joining us from Florida. I'd like to now ask Captain Player to announce his first pick and share a comment.

CAPTAIN PLAYER: My first pick is Peter Lonard. He has won three tournaments this year and has been very, very consistent and played on my team last year and just loved the way -- I love his aggressiveness when he plays golf, and he is my No. 1 choice.

JAMES CRAMER: Again, that's Peter Lonard with the International Team's first pick. I'd like to now ask Captain Nicklaus to announce his second selection.

CAPTAIN NICKLAUS: My second selection is Fred Couples. Freddie finished 17th in the points standings, but he's the seventh-ranked American, 17th overall in the official World Rankings going into the PGA Championship. He made the cut this year at all four majors, and along with Justin, he had the best collective record in the majors this year for any U.S. player outside of Tiger. Fred's best performance in 16 starts this year have been in the strongest fields. He had Top 20 finishes in the Match Play Championship, Bay Hill, Memorial, U.S. Open and British Open, all of which are ranked in the top eight this year in field strength, 45 years old, he brings a wealth of experience in international team competition. He's played in five Ryder Cup Matches and three Presidents Cup matches. He's 8-3-1 in Presidents Cup matches, including a 6-1 record at RTJ where he is honorary member; 18 official events, a lot of which are team events and the 1992 Masters Champion and a 15-time winner on the U.S. Tour.

JAMES CRAMER: Thank you, Captain Nicklaus. Again, with the second pick, Captain Nicklaus has chosen Fred Couples play to announce his second pick.

CAPTAIN PLAYER: My second pick is Trevor Immelman. He is truly an international golfer. He's played all over the world, he's a great shot-maker and he's had a lot of experience, extremely focused young man, and a very, very good team member and has played exceptionally well in the major championships this year.

JAMES CRAMER: Thank you very much, Captain Player. With the second pick Captain Player has chosen South African Trevor Immelman.

CAPTAIN NICKLAUS: First of all, let me congratulate Gary on his two picks. I think he's picked two very fine players and they will fit with his team very well.

CAPTAIN PLAYER: Jack, I feel the same about your two picks, two very, very strong players.


Q. Gary, I want to ask you, in view of Steve Elkington's performance here at the PGA and the fact he's only missed two cuts this year and his experience, how could you not pick him?

CAPTAIN PLAYER: You know, before the major championships started this year, I said anybody that wins a major championship would automatically be put into the team. And I watched with great anxiety this morning, because I really thought he might win the tournament, but if you look at a man like, say, Peter Lonard, who has played consistently well won three tournaments, and I think if I'm not mistaken, going into this -- the event of the U.S. Open, I think he was on our list, International Team, 31st. So had he won, there would be no question he would have been on the team. And it's a very tough job any time you're picking people. There's always the good news and the bad news, but that's the responsibility that a captain has to have.

Q. For Jack and Gary, if you could just talk a little bit about that responsibility, how tough it is to pick these two extra guys, how much did you deliberate and how tough was it?

CAPTAIN NICKLAUS: Well, in my case, I felt it was very difficult. I was kind of looking forward to having some of the young players have an opportunity to win, such as Zach Johnson or Chad Campbell, Ted Purdy, Joe Ogilvie. All of those fellows all had a chance. I called Zach this morning, since he was 12th on the list, and told him that the pick I was going to make and why. And I felt like Zach had missed the cut in three majors had year and had not won a tournament, although he still played very well, and he was 12th on the list. I told him, I said, if we have an injury, I wanted him to be my first alternate. He was fine with that. He was actually -- he said he was trying real hard, "I wanted to make the team." I said, "Zach, I would love to see one of you young guys make it." But, you know, it just turned out that it just didn't work out that way. As relates to picking, the responsibility of what you're trying to do, I think you're trying to represent the United States with the best team that you can field, and not always does the points system reflect the accurate result of what you think or who are the best players. Freddie Couples has had a wonderful year and has played well. I felt like with his performance in the majors, I felt like it was difficult with his experience and his record at RTJ to leave him off, even though he was 17th. It was a difficult choice as Gary said, a difficult choice and tough responsibility. Somebody is going to make it and somebody is not. We just wish -- I know we'd like to choose them all but we can't.

Q. I would like to hear Gary talk about how much he had to deliberate and how tough it is to come down to the final two.

CAPTAIN PLAYER: I'd like to reiterate that it is very, very difficult when choosing your picks. I have given it a lot of thought, but you know, Peter Lonard has been such a -- you know, when you win three tournaments in a year, it's pretty easy to pick him. But you've got to trust instinct to the end, even if there's no reason, just who is the guy who is going to be able to stand up to a Tiger Woods face-to-face and not be scared of him. You've got to go with -- it's a gut feeling you have, and it's actually one of the unpleasant things about being captain. One of the fellows who expected to be or was hoping to be my vice captain at the last Presidents Cup, I didn't select him; I chose Ian Baker-Finch. And this fellow wrote a terrible article about how that I should have picked him and then went into the reasons. Those are just things you've got to swallow. You've got to go by what you feel, and that's a gut feeling, who will be able to perform, how they are playing at this moment, is their graph going up or is it going down. You know, last time, I chose Tim Clark and was criticized quite severely, and as I say, you can take it, and I was criticized because he was -- something like No. 18th. I say that with tongue-and-cheek, he was about 18th on the list. He went on and played; he was the man of the match, of the whole -- really, of the whole Presidents Cup, and since then, he's now in the top 20 players in the world. He's gone from strength to strength. Now, it could have gone the other way, but that is the choice I had.

Q. I wonder if both captains could just give us a general assessment of the strength of each of their teams, and Gary in particular, with Ernie Els not available, how much of a problem is that going to be to replace a guy like Ernie?

CAPTAIN PLAYER: Well, first of all, Mr. Shapiro, you can't replace a man of Ernie's ability. He's in the Top 3 players in the world, so it's very, very difficult. It's a tremendous setback for our team. I mean, that could make a very, very big difference. But we've got to go ahead, the show goes on, and I think we have a very capable team, guys who have had a lot of experience, and who have done well on the international scene. It will be very difficult, obviously, to beat an American team on home soil. Playing in your own country is always an advantage. America have a very, very strong team. But I think it's going to be a very good series. I was always impressed with what Jerry Kelly said when we played in South Africa and Jack endorsed that, of course Jack and I are very compatible as far as captains are concerned. And the South African public were really so fair when both players, both teams were playing and Jerry Kelly said, "I've never as an American had such a warm reception anywhere in the world." And I know that the galleries up in Virginia will be exactly the same; they will want to see a good match. This is not the type of atmosphere that exists or has existed, which has been unpleasant in a Ryder Cup series, both from the players point of view and some of the galleries in both respective countries. Jack and I have insisted on our teams playing in the true spirit of the game. We are not enemies; we are allies and we all love each other. This took place in the Presidents Cup, which was so refreshing after watching the incidents that occurred and the war and this guy doesn't like that guy and this guy doesn't like that guy. And we saw what happened to Olazabal on the time when Justin Leonard holed that putt and Payne Stewart, God bless him, was not feeling too good when he walked up the last hole and how he was such a gentleman. But it's on both side, not just one side. So thank goodness this doesn't exist in the Presidents Cup. It truly exemplifies the sportsmanship and playing in the true spirit of the game.

Q. I wonder if you could talk about your team, your overall assessment?

CAPTAIN NICKLAUS: Well, I think I've got -- I think I've got as good a team as I can have from the choice of American players today. I think that I've got as much experience, I've got depth, I've got leadership. I've got all the things that I want in a team, and I've got a bunch of guys that want to play and they are looking forward to the matches. I know Gary's team is a very strong team, International Team right now. I think there are probably more good international players than there are U.S. players than there are today that have experience. Gary will bring a wealth of talent to RTJ, but the U.S. Team will have a wealth of talent. And Gary's right; we are on our own soil. It should be a great match. I think both teams are very talented, and I endorse Gary's remarks that we want to play the matches in the right spirit and I think they will be.

Q. Just talk about how both the teams will play the golf course going into the match?

CAPTAIN NICKLAUS: What do you mean, how they will play?

Q. Just in terms of, have you guys played the -- do the players have a lot of experience at the course?

CAPTAIN NICKLAUS: Well, I think several of our players have played on the team before. I think most of them probably have. I personally have never played the golf course. I have been around it. I was around it this spring and Gary was around it this spring with me. I think that they will play their practice rounds on Tuesday and Wednesday. Several of my players have told me they are going down to play practice rounds ahead of time. Is it ready; I know that I talked to Freddie this morning and he said he was going in ahead of time. You know, I don't know how many of the other guys are, but I think the guys are taking it seriously and want to do the best they can.

CAPTAIN PLAYER: As far as knowing the golf course is concerned, I think that's a very overrated thing, statement, unless you're playing on a links golf course at the coast where the course varies to a great degree. I think the ones that decide to come in and play two practice rounds is sufficient. I'm sure that some of my players will also go there ahead of time, the ones that feel it's necessary, and everybody is different. I know Jack has picked his vice captain already. I obviously wanted my No. 1 choice was Nicky Price to be my vice captain. I will be announcing my vice captain tomorrow morning in Akron, Ohio. But Nicky Price, his management -- I could not get a hold of him. I tried to phone him. He's on vacation in Mexico at the moment. And I always said I'd wait until the last minute to pick my two picks and also my vice captain. I could not get a hold of him on his cell phone, his mobile phone in Mexico. His management, I phoned this morning and they reassured me that Nicky does not want to be the vice captain. I think Nicky Price -- I don't know what his reasoning is, but that's his choice. I think maybe he knows he'll be or should be captain of the next Presidents Cup, and so he's got his reasons, but so I'll have to think of somebody else. I'll obviously have people in mind and I will announce that tomorrow morning. I was sorry that Nicky declined because I've known Nicky since he was a young man, and he's a perfect gentleman and would have been a very, very good vice captain, but that's his choice.

JAMES CRAMER: Captains, I'd like to thank you both for taking time out of your busy schedules to join us here today. Again, thank you.

End of FastScripts�.

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