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THE PRESIDENTS CUP MEDIA CONFERENCE
March 22, 2000
JAMES CRAMER: Good morning, everyone. My name is James Cramer. I am manager of
communications and media operations for The Presidents Cup. I'd like to welcome you to
today's Presidents Cup press conference, featuring our honored guest, PGA TOUR
Commissioner Tim Finchem; International Team Captain, Peter Thomson, and United States
Team Captain, Ken Venturi. This year, in October, October 17th through the 22nd, The
Presidents Cup will have its fourth playing. It will return for the third time to Robert
Trent Jones Golf Club. As a testament to how tight and competitive the matches have been,
of the 96 total points available through the three playings, each team has won 48 points.
So at this point I'd like to invite PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem to the podium.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Thank you, James. Welcome, everyone. Let me just start by
recognizing some key individuals here. First of all, we have all of the Tours and the
Federation with us this week, and some of them are represented this morning. The Asian PGA
Tour is represented by Ramlan Harun here in the front row; Arthur Sanderson runs the PGA
TOUR of Australasia; Louis Martin, the Southern Africa Tour. Mr. Shimada, Chief Executive
of Japan Golf Tour and Mr. Schofield, Executive Director of the European tour are about
somewhere. We will see them during the course of the week. George Burger is seated in the
third row. George is the coordinator on behalf of -- a trustee now of the Robert Trent
Jones Golf Club and the individual who has been our main contact over the years at Robert
Trent Jones, and we are delighted to have him with us. Lance Hartman, our tournament
manager here in the second row. Mike Bodney, our Senior Vice-president of International
Affairs for World Golf Championship events in the first row, all of you know. And we have,
during the course of the week, obviously other people involved in The Presidents Cup here
at the Championship. As James indicated, this is the fourth running of The Presidents Cup.
We are delighted to have the captains with us this morning. We got off to a great start in
1994 with these matches. They exceeded by a substantial margin our expectations. But it
was in 1998 in Melbourne that the matches, we think, hit their stride with the turnout,
with the reaction of the crowds in Melbourne, and with the recognition that this is an
event that would be so well received around the world. It took on a new meaning. This year
our golf course is better than ever. The club has been very helpful in making improvements
to what it was already, a very fine golf course, by rebuilding a number of greens and
creating a situation that is not only going to be better for the players, but from a
spectator's standpoint, excitement standpoint, an enhanced competitive venue. We have a
substantial increase again in television distribution - over 150 countries will receive
the telecast. We are very pleased with the addition of NBC as our television producer and
carrier, primarily because NBC has developed over the years, through its commitment to the
Ryder Cup, an understanding of how to cover this competition in a positive way. Tommy Roy,
the producer for NBC Sports has already been active on the property of Robert Trent Jones.
We will have an enhanced number of cameras, and it will be a first-rate quality production
by NBC Production Team and Talent Team. Of course, it doesn't hurt to have on NBC the lead
golf commentator for the last 30 years from CBS, Ken Venturi. This makes for a nice
package as well. I would just comment that I think the reason for The Presidents Cup at
the inception primarily was that the good number of international players who, if you look
at the World Golf Rankings each year, have moved higher and higher in terms of their place
in the World Rankings, did not have an opportunity to participate in this kind of
competition. And what has developed over the last six years is a real camaraderie and
coming together by those international players, so that as we saw in Melbourne, they are a
cohesive team. They include some of the very best players in the world. There is no
weakness in that team, and they were able to play well enough to beat the United States.
And as James said, over the last four - three runnings, the point totals are equal. What
the future is of this Cup only the fans and the players can determine. But we are off to a
great start. We are extremely excited about what is going to happen in Washington this
year. The staging of the event has been greatly improved. The involvement of the public
sector in Washington, the President on down, is going to be very strong. It certainly will
be a showpiece for golf this fall, and we are delighted to bring it forward. I will turn
it over to you, James, for introduction of our captains, and I will be happy to answer any
of your questions later.
JAMES CRAMER: Thank you, Commissioner. Our next speaker, Peter Thomson, is perhaps best
known for his distinguished playing career that saw him win the British Open Championship
five times. A member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, he led the International Team to a 20
and a half to an 11 and a half victory in the last Presidents Cup in Melbourne, Australia.
Ladies and gentlemen, Peter Thomson. (APPLAUSE).
PETER THOMSON: Thank you. As the Commissioner and Ken, I am thrilled, as I was last
time I was here, to be standing here as the Captain of the International Team. Just
recording those moments of joy for us in Melbourne, that was one of the highlights of my
golf career. Even though I wasn't playing, I was -- I felt I was very much involved in all
those chips and putts that went in the hole and all that. So here I am again. I did feel
after that game that I should bow out on a high note. But it seemed to me like I was sort
of deserting the team. And I said to them, if they wanted me to do it again, I would be
pleased to do it. And it turned out that way. So here I am again. I have been involved at
RTJ, and I look forward to that again, because that is a magnificent venue for a big event
such as Presidents Cup. It doesn't suit either team. I think it is a very fair course. I
have high hopes of our performance. You might recall that it was very close in 1996 there,
came down to the last match on almost the last green, or the 17th green before it was
decided. So we are looking forward to a keen contest and a close result. I welcome now the
chance to do a bit of jousting with Ken here, because I know he was very formidable as
player. And I am sure he is going to be very formidable as Captain as well. But that is
part of the great experience of The Presidents Cup. I am thrilled that it has reached a
level, I believe, now where it is very important. My -- I shouldn't say "my
players." The players of the International Team all feel that way about it. They
support it whole-heartedly. And I might say, we had a meeting this morning, and already
there is a sense of excitement about it. And in a way, we had the possibles and the
probables, there is a fair bit of competition between them to make this team, as you can
imagine, with all these big events coming up. The team will comprise some new faces this
year without any doubt. Apart from the Captain's choices, the 11th and 12th spots, the
other, I suppose, the from 6 to 10 will be, I think, new faces, new people. And I hope
without any disparagement to the previous team, that this will absolutely be a stronger
one. Anyway, I am here at your disposal, and I hand it over back to James. (APPLAUSE)
JAMES CRAMER: Thank you, Captain Thomson. This year's United States Team Captain had a
unique view of the first three Presidents Cups. A television commentator for them. He
knows what it is like to represent his country. He played on the 1953 Walker Cup Team and
the 1965 Ryder Cup Team. Winner of 14 PGA TOUR events, including the 1964 United States
Open. Ladies and gentlemen, Ken Venturi. (APPLAUSE)
KEN VENTURI: Thank you very much. When I was asked to be the Captain of The Presidents
Cup, Mr. Finchem, I was in awe. Where he told me about two months before we announced it
and to keep that secret, was very difficult. So it was an honor to get this position. I
watched Peter Thomson, the way he conducted himself down in Melbourne, and admired -- I
couldn't think of anybody that I would like to see on the other side as Captain. Admiring
his career, his five British Open Championships, and the tradition and his loyalty to the
game of golf, I have admired that all through my career. And he has set a great standard
for our game, which I appreciated the way he has handled it. When I think about the
International Team, I think about -- I have quite a few friends on the International Team.
In fact, when I went down and did the tournament in Melbourne, I was quite proficient, as
I say when I did it, because I went 36 holes with Greg Norman and Ernie Els and Steve
Elkington. And Norman had played there many times; he said: This is where you want to hit
it; this is where you don't want to go. He gave me all the information. To tell you how
great these players are, when I had a charity at Marco Island for my wife, and when I
asked these players to come there, I had 24 of the top players in the world come at no
cost, I mean, no appearance fees. The first two or the first three to say, "I will be
there," was Greg Norman, Nick Price, and Mike O'Meara, were the first three to say
they'd be there. So I was -- to have the Normans, Ernie Els and all those, and they said,
"How are we going to play against you?" I am talking with Ernie Els and
Elkington and Norman. I said: "I win hands down." They said: "How can you
say that? " I said: "I put the three of you up for citizenship." But I am
looking so forward to it, that it is, to me, it is winding down a career. And a victory
there would mean a lot to me. But to me, the best thing about it, which I think Peter
shares it, that tradition, loyalty, and respect of the game is more important as we handle
it that way. And the best team will win on that certain time, as we have had three before.
And we have had equal 48 points a piece. So that comes down very equally. And the
International Team is very, very strong. And to me, to be close to it for the three times
that I have done the telecasting, but to be Captain of the team is something that I will
always treasure and honor. And I think that the quality of the players on both sides will
be phenomenal. And to handle it, my assistant Paul Marchand is here with me from Houston
with Shadowhawk and good friends with Freddie Couples and Jim Nantz, my man on the tour
and stuff, and another man that is traditionally is well respected and a true
professional. So I am looking very forward to it. I am looking with anticipation. I am
looking forward to going back to RTJ. And most of all, of all the players that will be
playing, I am looking forward to competition with Mr. Thomson, because he has got the
class of the game. And I think we are both going to enjoy what we are doing. And may the
best team win. (APPLAUSE)
JAMES CRAMER: At this point, if we have any questions for our three guests.
Q. Could you talk about the long-range plan for this, three out of all three have been
at RTJ. Where do you take it from here in this country and elsewhere?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Well, tentative plan right now is we are looking very closely
at South Africa in '02, but we keeping our options open. We are looking at golf courses
there and some other places. The next time we are in the United States, we obviously like
Robert Trent Jones. We will be back at Robert Trent Jones again. There is no question
about that. But we also were intrigued with the idea of being able to play in the western
part of the country at some point. And we are looking at some things there. As has been
the case, we will probably announce details right around the first of the year about 02.
And then this time maybe get a little bit further ahead and talk about 04 as well.
Q. Ken you are such a golf traditionalist, a historian, but it seems to me that many,
many years ago -- don't ask me where it was -- but I heard you say at one time that the
way the European Team was set up for the Ryder Cup, that it was unfair, and you were one
of the proponents that felt there should be other people like brought into it. And it
seems to me that when you started, I heard you say, The Presidents Cup started, you said
this is even greater. This is what has been needed to have the best players in the world
against the best players in the world all the time. And your thoughts there?
KEN VENTURI: In the Ryder Cup was when I played. We played against Great Britain, and
it really, you know, with the players we had over here, it really wasn't much of a
contest. When they brought in all of Europe it became much more of a contest. It became
more important, really, when the United States lost. Everybody started getting an interest
because everybody was bored with the winning over the years. But The Presidents Cup, to
me, if you take the teams and International players, you are looking at probably the
strongest team, the International Team, because of being worldwide, and it showed down in
Melbourne. The thing about going back to Robert Trent Jones is that when we went down to
Royal Melbourne, our players had never seen the golf course before. Where now the players
internationally know Robert Trent Jones Golf Course. So there is no home court advantage,
but -- of the teams, I think -- of the three teams, that the American and International
Teams are very strong. And the edge, if you take the International Team, our guys are
going to have to play very, very well, because the International Team is very strong. And
they are tournament toughened worldwide.
Q. Mr. Venturi, you spoke about tradition, loyalty and respect of the game being
important in this competition. In your opinion, has the Ryder Cup somehow damaged the
respect of the game? I don't mean "damaged," but has what the Ryder Cup become
-- has that taken away from respect of the game, especially last fall?
KEN VENTURI: Well, there was, as Commissioner Finchem was saying, that they had, what?
45,000 people there. It was hard to control. We are going to have to limit it to 25,000.
With Peter Thomson, myself being traditionalists we'd like to restore the -- I was very
impressed with the galleries in Melbourne. They appreciated good shots. There was no
yelling and screaming of things like this. The applause is bringing back the galleries
that at Augusta are traditionalist because they go there year after year. I was raised
like that. I mean, I knew Bobby Jones and Francis Ouimet and I were friends. And I was
taught by Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan took me under his wing. And for 25 years Gene Sarazen
and I lived just a few blocks away. I have to look up to them, and every decision I make
in golf - and I think Peter will go along with this too - these gentlemen would be proud
of the decisions that I make. That is the way I base my life on what is good for the game,
and I am second.
Q. Greg Norman has slipped a little bit in the rankings. I think he is 11 in terms of
the points. Can you say unequivocally that barring injury he will be on your team this
PETER THOMSON: Pretty difficult, isn't it? I would certainly like him to make the team,
one way or another. So it is really up to him. But I think he will do it. He is keen to do
it. He has got these big events coming up and he told me this morning he is ready and he
is looking forward to it. I don't think there is any doubt he will be there.
Q. Secondly, have you watched much or visited with Mike Weir and do you think he will
have to flat out make the team for him to be there?
PETER THOMSON: Oh, yeah, you are asking too much -- (laughs). I would like him to be
there too. I spent some time in Canada last October and I know how keen they are in the
Toronto area for a Canadian to be on the team and, long last, is one that is, I think,
about to make it. I think he is playing so well that he will be in there in his own right.
He won't need me to pick him, he will be there.
Q. You took a couple of Kiwis last year; given also the matches were played in
Melbourne,. Will you look -- will that be that big of a deal now to find players
PETER THOMSON: I did explain to the fellows this morning in our little breakfast
meeting that my job in choosing these people is to strengthen the team and I gave them the
assurance that I would do that without any regard to which country they come from. Whether
they are Australians, or New Zealanders or Japanese, or Afghanis or Nepalese, I will pick
the two strongest players I can find.
Q. Congratulations to you and Kenny on being made captains. You guys are going to do a
great job. Mark James last year was maybe critiqued a little bit for not coming up with
maybe a more experienced player like Bernhard Langer in place of his other captain's
choice. A little bit about what this gentleman just said, Mike Weir has really indicated
that he would love to be able to be a member of this team and, of course, Greg Norman we
all know his worldwide expertise as far as worldwide golf, you can say that -- actually
you have -- you have got to putt somebody like a Greg Norman or Michael Campbell on the
team. Would you say that if they slipped out of the Top-10 or the top 12? Simply because I
think you are going to be looking at the rest of your players your Vijay Singhs and they
are going to be looking to Peter for somebody with a lot of experience.
KEN VENTURI: You are getting some good questions, Peter.
PETER THOMSON: I know. You already described the problem that I have. I will just say
if I may, the team without Norman would be a lesser team. So I hope there is room for both
Q. Peter, wasn't there a time pre the Europeans being involved in the Ryder Cup that
you and Norman made some sort of an effort to have the other members of commonwealth
countries, for example, Australia, Canada, South Africa, be involved with the British team
as opposed to the Europeans feeling that was a natural a more natural order than including
the Europeans I am wondering if that is the case if you can relate that story because I
don't think it is that well known a story over here.
PETER THOMSON: Well, it didn't apply to too many people, but in the '50s, when, as Ken
described, the Ryder Cup was really a one-sided contest and those of us that had some use
from Australia side or Canada, we did volunteer to join the team and make it a British
team. But the answer came back that as bad as the team was, at least it was a British
team, that we weren't (laughter) -- required, so that was the end of that. But I must say
that we got a bit of a shock and a disappointment when a couple of Spaniards popped up and
a German and a Fin ((laughter) --
Q. Mr. Venturi, when you played the Ryder Cup Byron Nelson was your Captain. I wondered
if you could characterize what his Captaincy was like and whether or not there is anything
specific that you want to take from that and use yourself?
KEN VENTURI: In 1965 Byron became Captain because I turned it down because I was
operated on with my hands in 1965 and I wanted to play on a Ryder Cup. I have never played
because -- see, the thing about the Ryder Cup, I missed three Ryder Cups when I was
starting because you had to wait five years before you could get a point. So I played on
one and I thought I would be Captain one day of the Ryder Cup but I wanted to play on it.
But having Byron, there is no competition there because I looked up to him because he
taught me, the same as Peter has and I have, we are not in competition with these -- with
our team. We are someone that has no ax to grind and I think the motivation of people like
that is far greater than someone who is playing against you for two years and for one week
they become your best friend. There is no competition there. But having Byron, it was --
we only had nine players at that time. We played eight and -- but to have him there, it
was just an honor to be near him and to be around him. Like I have always said, he has
been like a second father to me, but I have known Byron since 1952.
Q. Have you talked to him at all about serving as Captain of this team and maybe has he
offered you any advice?
KEN VENTURI: Captain of this -- he couldn't serve as Captain.
Q. I mean, have you talked to him about your role as Captain of the team?
KEN VENTURI: We have talked, but he is the type that -- "It is your ballgame"
and that is the time -- he'd never do that. No, we talk all the time and I respect him
tremendously. That is about it.
Q. Tim, I know that you talk to the American players on a regular basis. At present,
what assurances are you getting on this issue of there is a Cup every year for the top
American players either the Ryder Cup one year or The Presidents Cup the next year, what
assurances are you getting from the Top 5 or 10 American players that they are going to
want to continue to play every year in a cup?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: I don't think anything has really changed in that regard from
the standpoint of the two Cups. I think what has changed is that we have added the World
Golf Championships which if you are going to play in all these things, you do have to --
there is more of a national travel involved and that has changed and made it more
difficult for players. And we have seen that manifested in some cases with players playing
or not playing in some of the World Golf Championships. I suspect we will continue to see
that. I think I said that a number of times that not all the players are going to play in
those events going forward. I think that in the long-term what the players need to focus
on with respect to those events and The Presidents Cup is what do they really want them to
be; that these are events that belong to the players, nobody else, the values -- that the
value that is generated from these events come back to the players directly and they have
to decide that. I think that is just an ongoing conversation going forward. But right now,
in terms of this period, I think on both counts, I think we will have an excellent
Presidents Cup this year and I think we will have a second running of the World Golf
Championships that will be very, very successful.
Q. Peter, were there any specific issues discussed at the meeting this morning or was
it more of just a general bonding session?
PETER THOMSON: Well, we did have a query about whether we were living in a tent this
year or we had a roof over our head because if you recall at Royal Melbourne, the
clubhouse there is so inadequate, we had to add a big marquis to create a room for
ourselves. Why this was an important issue, I don't know. But anyway, I said, well, if it
is good enough for the King of Arabia to live in a tent, it is good enough for you. They
are assured that they are going to have a roof over their head. Besides that, we discussed
mundane things like travel arrangements and how many rooms in the hotel they needed for
their kids, things like that, so that was really all we discussed.
Q. Ken, as you said no home-court advantage, but what about the Venturi advantage
because through the years whenever I have had captains announced for Ryder Cup, Presidents
Cup they always said, well, I am going to have to get the players; I am going to have to
see this and that. Through the years you know the strengths and weaknesses of all these
players and I wondered your thoughts there.
KEN VENTURI: We were discussing that. I do 18 tournaments a year with CBS. I have been
with CBS 32 years and I go up and down the range and look at them. I don't have any
discussion with them. I just watch them and I watch them on -- I know which way they play,
what they do, how compatible they are, and it is a great advantage to be out there at that
time; where other captains before me were -- only got to see them at the time of the
competition and not really much experience with them, but I know all of them. I know their
games. I know everything about it. I would like to say about advantage, I think that this
year's Presidents Cup, I think Peter and I have something that we are going to establish a
tradition in the game, the try to bring back what golf is all about, is that the applause,
and respecting each side and their shots and enjoy the game of golf. We have discussed
that and I think that that is very important after you see some of the things on Tour that
I see, some of the things we saw at Phoenix and things like this, that is not part of our
game. And that is not -- I am sure I speak for Peter, too. That is not our game. Our game
comes from the old school, where applause was what it was and the tip of the hat and the
whole thing, that is the way it is and that is the way I was brought up and I am sure
Peter the same way. But that is -- we have a big obligation here in this and I think we
can and we will set a standard that will be followed both sides.
Q. Commissioner following up on the question that was asked earlier about The
Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup and other world golf events, is there any regret on the part
of the Tour that those events are perhaps limiting -- top international players' ability
to play in non-major events in this country.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I am not so sure I follow your question limiting --
Q. World golf events will take several -- the openings that they are allowed to play
here; is that right. They have a limited number of events they can play, non-PGA TOUR
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Two count against their limit, the Andersen Consulting counts
and the American Express count. NEC does not count because it has never counted.
Q. Then you --
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: It doesn't change the total number of events -- total number of
event players can play. The total is the same. Those two just count. So, frankly, I think
just the opposite. I think that having the Andersen Consulting, having the NEC be official
money, actually brings more international players to play in our tournaments and we are
very comfortable with the level of play that we are receiving from international players.
We welcome the International players. They strengthen our Tour. We are delighted with all
the interest that we get when a player on any of these Tours gets to be a top player and
wants to come play in the United States. That is one of the things that has made us strong
for decades is to have the Bruce Cramptons and players from all over the world come and
play. That has been the history of the Tour, but it is not a priority for us now because
these players -- also, it is important that they play at home and keep those Tours strong
and long-term these Tours have to be strong to grow the game in those parts of the world.
So that is not a concern to us at this point.
Q. The Presidents Cup seems to be establishing its own identity as you would have hoped
would happen. As that is going on, as it is continuing, do you see that the talk of a --
possibility of a three-cornered competition, the European, the U.S. and the International
players diminishing or is that still out there?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I think it is still out there. I think the Ryder Cup has certain
contractual commitment for a good number of years and it has a long, long history and I
don't think there is a lot of interest in changing the basic structure of the Ryder Cup
that has been going on for 70 years. The Presidents Cup has some contractual commitment.
If there was a way to do something, you know, we would be open to sit down and talk about
it. I haven't heard any particular suggestions that seem workable at this juncture, but I
think the main thing is that the -- to play in international team competition in match
format is a unique showplace for these players with their skills and that all the top
players in the world should have the opportunity to do that. Now that is the main thing.
If there are different ways to get that accomplished, we are open looking at it going
Q. Ken, considering the sportsmanship issues and the crowd control issues that we had
at Brookline, how important is it do you think for this Presidents Cup to be conducted
without an incident or a major incident?
KEN VENTURI: I think it is very important. I think that I am sure I will convey to my
team and Peter has -- watching him down in Melbourne, I am sure he has conveyed that to
his team - we will set a standard that maybe that people that watch, that go to
tournaments will conduct themselves better than they do and it is not from the -- it is
not the old school. It is the young school that is having these things happen that we want
to take -- bring back in Tradition again. When you saw one time at Phoenix where they --
Tiger made a hole-in-one, I guess, the 16th hole and they were throwing beer bottles out,
the whole thing. That has never been done. Those things -- that is not a place for that.
So I think that to our team is that, you know, you can have in your heart -- I mean, I can
play against Peter and I want to beat him. I want to whip him; I want to do everything I
can to -- when I am playing and when we get through, I want a handshake and would you like
to have dinner. But when you are out there, that is what counts and tradition and
sportsmanship is very important in our game and always has been.
Q. Is the Tour going to do anything specifically at RTJ cutting down beer sales after a
certain point, I mean, what can the Tour do to prevent the kind of stuff in addition to
limiting the number of tickets available?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: First of all, we haven't had any incidents at The Presidents Cup.
We feel very comfortable -- the fans in Washington DC are terrific fans. I think the way
we are going to go into organizing the tournament with the club is going to be to create
an atmosphere that is very positive. Now having said that, we are doing all the things
that we do increasingly all over the Tour because things are changing. We are getting new
fans. We are getting more people. We are getting new fans that haven't been out there. So
security is a concern and we want the best possible competitive atmosphere. We will take
whatever steps necessary to do that. I think the concerns of the Ryder Cup perhaps were
overblown. I think that we probably have more problems on two or three of our tournaments
on the Tour than you had at the Ryder Cup, but when you have that many people out in this
environment, the way society is today, you need to be careful, but I think the fan base
that we have in Washington was basically going to be bringing that fan base back. As Ken
said, the fan base at Augusta is probably the No. 1 fan group in the world in terms of
their understanding of the game, you just don't ever have any problems. When you do have a
problem it is so obvious it is easy to deal with because it is one individual. Where you
have a group of problems it is more difficult to deal with. I don't anticipate us having
those difficulties in Washington.
JAMES CRAMER: Thank you very much, Commissioner Finchem, Captain Thomson, Captain
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