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THE PRESIDENTS CUP MEDIA CONFERENCE
February 26, 2008
TY VOTAW: Good morning, everyone, welcome. Thank you very much for being here. Before we get started, I just want to take care of a bit of housekeeping respectfully. If you can silence your cell phones or turn them off, that would be great.
My name is Ty Votaw. I'm with the PGA TOUR and to get things started I'd like to turn it over to Commissioner Tim Finchem who has an exciting announcement to make. Commissioner?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Thank you, Ty. And good afternoon, everybody. I think it's afternoon, or almost. Thanks for being with us today.
As you have suspected from rumors, commentary in the last 24 hours and this back drop, this is all about The Presidents Cup.
Before I get into the announcement of the day, I would like to make a couple of comments about the Cup. It seems like just yesterday that we were on the first tee at RTJ in 1994 waiting to create some history so we can get moving with the Cup and we had a two-and-a-half-hour fog delay with former President Ford as our chairman and Byron Nelson as the Honorary Starter on the tee.
And now 15 years later, we look back on seven Cups, and as we do that, I think if you reflect on The Presidents Cup over those years, there are three or four things that stand out, at least in my perspective about what's made it special. Obviously first and foremost, the incredible matches and the play and the caliber of play. Secondly, the impact on charity that has developed in The Presidents Cup this past Cup got up to $4.2 million in terms of what the players gave away to charity. Thirdly, that the theme of sportsmanship and camaraderie which has dominated the Cup throughout, and also importantly that as you look back on those seven Cups, each and every Cup has been more impactful to the players and the fans than the previous Cup, and that's certainly a tradition that we would like to continue.
In looking at that history, I'd like to comment and thank, first of all, the players who have committed themselves to the Cup, enjoyed it, made it special for the fans; the captains who have served to lead these teams in competition over the years; the communities where we played, and the support they provided the Cup in the United States and outside of the United States both in terms of the quality of the galleries; the presentation of the Cup that we've seen, and also the other tours around the world that participate, the International Federation of PGA Tours that collaborate on the staging and communication of the Cup; the participation in terms of working with the players to identify potential captains and things of that nature. Everybody has worked together to bring us to this point.
In particular with regard to the captains, I'd like to thank Gary Player and Jack Nicklaus who have served as captains of the two teams for the last three Cups, and three great Cups they were with the tie, a win on the last putt of the competition in the second one of those three, and then a tremendous exhibition of golf this last time in Montreal.
Now we turn a corner and we move to the next phase and perhaps the next era, since we like to use that word on the PGA TOUR the last couple years, of The Presidents Cup. Two weeks ago we announced in San Francisco that we will be playing the 2009 Cup at Harding Park. We previously announced of course it will be played in 2011 in Melbourne. In San Francisco we announced the honorary co-chairs will be Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and it's a demonstration of the kind of commitment and enthusiasm that we will see in northern California and California generally in support of the Cup. The excitement level of San Francisco is tremendous. We think Harding Park sets up as a perfect venue for this size competition, this quality competition, and we look forward to it.
And with respect to moving to a new era, we are now moving to a new era in terms of leadership of the two teams as we select and announce today two new captains.
I'd like to just preface announcing who they are by mentioning I think something we all recognize; that these two men are two of the most popular players ever to play golf in the United States or around the world, and we are absolutely delighted with what they will bring to the quality of the Cup competition in 2009 in San Francisco.
First of all, I'll start with the American Team and announce formally, and joining us on the screen from California is the Captain of The Presidents Cup Team for the United States, Fred Couples. Fred, thanks for being with us today. And on the International side, I'm delighted to introduce Greg Norman, who will be captaining the International Team.
Fred, I can't shake your hand, but I'll shake Greg's. Greg, thank you for joining me.
CAPTAIN GREG NORMAN: Hello, everybody. Hello, Freddie.
CAPTAIN FRED COUPLES: Hello, everybody. How's Florida?
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: I'll start with Fred in just a minute. I would like to make two points about these two captains.
First of all, I think it's important to note that we have two captains for the first time in the history of The Presidents Cup who have played Presidents Cup competition and played quite well.
In terms of Fred Couples, there's probably no player who is more identified with the United States Team over the course of The Presidents Cup than Freddie. He played in the first three and returned in 2005, and I think everybody remembers the putt he made in '96 to defeat Vijay in a critical match at RTJ.
As well, Greg, who qualified for the team in the first Cup 1994, he could not participate because he was ill, but he was there on the weekend supporting the team. And then he was providing a leadership role to the team in '96, '98 and 2000. And I think most notably, he was fundamental in the overwhelming and dominant victory of the International team enjoyed in the homeland of Australia where Greg posted a 3-1-1 record.
The other thing I will note is that these two players, as I said, are two of the most popular players in the history of the game; but their careers paralleled each other. Both won the Jack Nicklaus Trophy as Player of the Year; Couples in '91 and '92, Greg in '95. Both won the Arnold Palmer Award as leading money winner, Greg in 1986, 1990, 1995; Fred in 1992. From 1990 through 1995, every year the Byron Nelson Award, for adjusted scoring average, was won by one of these players, Norman won four, Couples two. And in the same years they were multiple winners of the PGA of America Vardon Trophy for scoring, Greg capturing three, and Couples two.
Their careers during those years remind me of -- people ask me about Tiger Woods today, but for years and years in the late 80s and early 90s when I was out on the TOUR and one of these guys was not in the field, I heard about it from the sponsors.
With that, I'd like to turn it over to the captain of the American Team, Fred Couples.
CAPTAIN FRED COUPLES: Hey, Tim, thank you. First of all, I am thrilled and honored. It's great to be going against Greg. Couldn't be a better captain for the Internationals.
And just to tell the people that when you came up to me in L.A., it was Wednesday in the Pro-Am, and came down to the range; and so I knew something was going on to walk down that hill at Riviera. And you brought it up and immediately I felt like I needed to change the subject because I was a little bit in shock.
And what an honor, I've been thinking about this for almost two weeks now, ten, 12 days. And you know, playing in it was great, but being captain, I think it's a great time in my life to be able to take the U.S. Team to San Francisco in the next year and a half and have a good time. And then to be going against Greg who I played a lot of golf with and admire what he does, it's just going to be fabulous. We'll do everything we can to have a great time.
But once again, I really wish I was there with you guys, but I'm in Palm Springs, and, you know, I'll talk a little more, but it's truly an honor. Hale Irwin was the first guy we had there when I made that putt in '96 and went on with Arnold Palmer and Venturi. And it's kind of nerve-wracking to say you're following Jack Nicklaus after three years, but I think I'll do a great job, and I'll certainly have a great time.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Greg?
CAPTAIN GREG NORMAN: Freddie. Congratulations, buddy. I think, you know, our careers have spanned, well, maybe 30 years, to tell you the truth, and you know, you say you've respected my game; I've respected you. But not just by the way you've played the game, Freddie, but by the way you've handled yourself on and off the golf course.
And I know we all go through our trials and tribulations when we're on the pedestal when we are having to make a putt put to win on the last hole and you're carrying the image of the game of golf, and you've done that in tremendous fashion.
And just like you when I was playing out at the AT&T, one of my first questions was for me to consider this, who would be the opposing captain. And when I found out it was you, I whole-heartedly endorsed it with Tim 101 percent, because I think you and I reflect the personalities in a big way. We both respect the game of golf in a huge way. We both respect what the game of golf represents to everybody.
But on top of all that, you and I were there from the beginning with The Presidents Cup, and you know, The Presidents Cup is only as successful as the players involved, and it's only successful by the captains that get chosen. And like you, I had to step back a little bit and think about it, and it came as a shock when Tim and I talked for about an hour at the AT&T. I didn't anticipate it, to tell you the truth. I was thinking it might be further down the line.
But at the same time, you have to weigh up all your options, and for me, my options obviously are my busy schedule and I talked to Chrissy about it at great length because we want to make sure that we want to be able to put, for myself, to put 101 percent into this effort. Being a captain is more than just being a title. Being a captain is rallying the troops, like Freddie will do. He's got the utmost respect of all the players out there, not just the Americans, but all the international players, because we've all enjoyed playing golf with him.
So myself, personally, I've made a couple of calls to a few of the international players. I called Adam Scott and I called Vijay Singh and I called Ernie Els, basically, to ask them for their opinion and their thoughts on the process for me if I accepted the captaincy, and they made me feel good that three players of that stature would kind of endorse me the way they did.
So from my perspective, it's an honor like you to be captain of The Presidents Cup for 2009. You and I are going to have some fun, there's no question about that. And I'm going to have some fun being a leader with the international players who I believe have been great for the game of golf on a global basis.
So over to you, Tim.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Ty, I'll give it back to you.
TY VOTAW: We will open the floor to questions. For any questions other than The Presidents Cup that some of you may be interested in in light of the policy board meeting that took place yesterday, Commissioner Finchem will make himself available to media after this, and we will also issue a press release about that policy board. But with that, like to open it up for questions.
Q. Greg, I'm guessing not this time, but the next time would have been the decision for you, since it's headed back to Australia and that would have seemed like a more natural timing; which isn't to say you can't keep the job somewhat in perpetuity like Jack and Gary had it, but was that part of your process of making the decision?
CAPTAIN GREG NORMAN: To be honest with you, we did have that discussion with Tim, if I was going to consider the job it would be for 2011. You have to understand the process of captains and there are certain rules in the bylaws that are written.
Obviously to have an opportunity whether you are out defending The Presidents Cup or trying to win The Presidents Cup, if you're defeated to Freddie's team, there's always that possibility.
There's no question about it; I would like to think that my name would be in the hat. There's no certainty that that will happen that way. But under the circumstances, I thought the priority for me right now was to get into the captain's seat, do the best job I could possibly do for the next less than two years now, and basically pull the team through for 2009.
Q. I know your history, too, there was a certain fracture with the PGA TOUR. Could you just address that, are things mended, healed?
CAPTAIN GREG NORMAN: Well, I think what's happened in the past is in the past. And I think it's also good to know that if you sit on a board of any company, you don't want to have a friendly board. You need to have some bit of contentious, open discussion because not everybody is going to think exactly the same way. I'm sure Tim's views on things are different than mine and Freddie's views on things that are probably different from mine, as well.
I always say this, that Tim and I have had an open discussion about certain situations with the game of golf, whether it's personal, whether it's business. I think there is communications that have been good for the game of golf in the long run, and that's the most important thing that comes out of this; the improvement for the game and the ability for players to go out there and perform their profession on a global basis.
But, you know, the issues are always going to be there. Those issues have got nothing to do with The Presidents Cup. Those issues are always going to be points of discussion maybe down the line that we can both maybe help each other and that's the way you work things out. I've done that in business. I've done that in the boardroom. I encourage aggressive relationships sometimes even with my staff members. I want to hear the bad news, not just the good news. So to me, it's all part of constructive dialogue to build a better system, whatever that system is.
Q. For Fred, just talk, you obviously are one of the more laid-back guys out on TOUR. How would you characterize what your leadership for the captain will be for the 2009 team? How will you be involved, and will you let the players have their input and just how will you handle that?
CAPTAIN FRED COUPLES: That's something that I've always wanted, to be a captain. I think at my age, I'm still on the TOUR and I took last year off, but I missed all the guys, and I'm very much a guys' guy. I enjoy being on these teams and when Tim talked to me, there were several days where my mind wandered. And I looked at captains, Curtis Strange on The Ryder Cup and what Hale Irwin did, and I think Hale Irwin played in that time.
So, still, we all have fun. The Presidents Cup, by the way, is a treat to play in, and it will be doubly to captain this thing. I think, you know, "laid back" is something that I'm certainly not going to go out there and instill someone's game plan the week in October in '09 and tell them how to be or now to the to be.
But, you know, I've talked about things, and I think respect in a way of just me in getting along with all the players, is something that I have no worries about.
Has Greg talked to a few? I wanted to wait until today, and I'll call a few guys tonight so they can't say "we don't want you." (Laughter) I don't want to call Tiger and have him say, "Are you kidding me." (Laughter)
But I do enjoy -- it's very emotional, and for me, for a lot of things that I've done, it just kind of happens. But when I see other guys, and especially the 12 guys that I'm going to have play, it will be a huge emotional thing because there's nothing more fun than seeing Chris DiMarco make a putt. I made a putt 30 minutes before him a few years ago, but it meant nothing as much as watching him make it. So that's what I'm hoping really to instill in these guys.
And say it one more time, to go up against Greg and his crew who I've played 20 years against; the young Rory Sabbatinis and the Adam Scotts and the Immelmans that actually they are they very young, but I know them very well because I enjoy watching them. I know it's going to be a great time for us, and it will be even better to go against Greg.
Q. The U.S. Team obviously has a natural bond because we're All-American citizens and the international players don't have that natural bond, although it seems like as soon as they get to the event, it's formed. What kind of things can you do in the next 18 months to develop that bond and intensity that I think is a little bit more natural to the American side just by virtue of all being Americans?
CAPTAIN GREG NORMAN: I think that evolution of bonding and friendships and will be easy to do because the International Team travels together as individuals. Most of us over our careers have played on different tours. Yes, a lot of the players are residents here in the United States now, and this is their principle tour.
But at the same time you pick up a paper or a golf magazine, and you'll see that they are competing in South Africa or they have competed somewhere in Asia or Dubai or somewhere in Australia. So it's going to be not as difficult a task at what you think, because the guys understand what it means to travel a lot, and to get together as a group.
I know that when I used to travel back 20 years ago, there always used to be about three or four of us get together for dinner at nighttime because we are in a foreign country and we needed our friends around us. I think that persona is still within a lot of these guys to do that. It's interesting to see the evolution of The Ryder Cup in the U.S. Team and the way The European Team kind of like the International Team, they come from all parts of Europe, but it's their team work that really got them to start convincing themselves that they can beat the United States. And look what their record is now; we all see the records and they speak for themselves. But it's that type of team work that works.
The Presidents Cup, I saw; it I've been on the team. Our relationships with the other players is very, very tight. We can only see what happened when we went down to Melbourne. When I was reading the stats today, I was surprised that was the only victory we really had, the International Team, but that tells you the guys got together. And when we got together in our players' villa or players' tent at that time, it was like a rah-rah-rah meeting, and it wasn't just the captain doing it; it was the other players doing it. And that's the type of -- and quite a few of those players are still on the team, actually, speaking of Ernie and Vijay, who it's fresh in their minds. We did talk about that on the telephone; how do we get that back. I think that is the responsibility of the captain, and because of my experience and I'm young enough still to be connected to these guys in a lot of ways just like Freddie; it not going to be a hard task as far as I can see at all.
Q. For both captains, can you talk about taking The Presidents Cup to a public access venue like Harding Park and what are your thoughts there?
CAPTAIN GREG NORMAN: I think any time we can promote golf at all levels, we do play golf tournaments at some of the high-end, ultra-private golf courses, not just here in the United States but around the world. I see it from a golf course design standpoint where promoting the game of golf whether through The First Tee Program or through a junior program in Australia, we all started from somewhere, and that was public links.
I used to grow up playing on public golfs courses just to be able to get out there and play. It's extremely important that from golf's perspective, PGA TOUR's perspective and the professionals to be able to promote the game through a public links facility.
I have not seen the golf course. I have never played the golf course. I've read about it. I've spoken to the players, a few of the players about it, and they just rave about the golf course. And it goes to show you that the test now for the public is to be able to relate to when Tiger and John Daly go into a playoff and say, okay, I played that very hole that Tiger and John Daly played on the playoff, and that's a way that you connect to the public, as well.
CAPTAIN FRED COUPLES: Well, for me, I grew up in Seattle, Washington, at Jefferson Park, which is a municipal course and played in tennis shoes and jeans and sweatshirt. So I know our team won't come dressed like that next year.
But I think Harding Park, I played a couple years ago, Greg, and everyone loved it. It's been redone, and of course San Francisco, I'm born in Seattle but I'm a California kid now, and just being in San Francisco is going to be phenomenal.
But just as you said, a public facility, they are so good now that the public can come out and play, and as you said, one of the most exciting finishes in a long time was Tiger and Daly. The 18th hole, for the people who don't know -- there's a lot of matches go down to the 18th, there's going to be some great things happen with quality shots and some tough shots, too. But it's a great course, San Francisco is a wonderful city, and I think the players, all 24 players will love it.
TY VOTAW: At this time we would like to invite questions from people on the call.
(OPERATOR PAUSES, CUES FOR QUESTIONS).
CAPTAIN GREG NORMAN: Freddie, you want me to call you and ask you a question? (Laughter).
Q. This is for both captains. Ryder Cup has had its contentious moments in the past, do you have a theory as to why The Presidents Cup with some awful close outcomes and victory by the International Team in Australia, why this has remained such a friendly and spirited competition?
CAPTAIN FRED COUPLES: I'll volunteer quickly on that. I've been Presidents Cup since '96, and I played in the Ryder Cup. I want to say '87 or '89; I should know this stuff.
But way back then, a lot of the European players didn't play on our tour, and if there was a comment made here and they got it back, whether they were in Ireland or London or some where, it had an effect, because they didn't really know us as well.
The European Team, now they all come over here, so it's even kind of toned down. But The Presidents Cup is so beautiful, because I played Vijay Singh I think three times so far in the singles and to be honest with you, even on American soil, they are rooting more than they ought to, which is okay, but for Vijay as well as me. What we want to see is great golf.
Certainly playing in Washington, D.C. you want to see the Americans win and as Greg said when we went to Australia we actually got pummeled, but all in good fun. I honestly think that's why the captains, you know, you have to think hard before you say things. But way back when, if I made a comment about Sandy Lyle and I didn't know him, it would be misconstrued or taken very, very in a tough way; whereas almost it's laughable when The Presidents Cup teams, guys will laugh with each other, and it's really a laid-back situation.
CAPTAIN GREG NORMAN: My perspective, I've never played in The Ryder Cup obviously, but I think what I see, The Ryder Cup has got a lot more history under its belt, and that history creates, well, whether you want to use contentious moments or special moments or great matches; at the same time, I believe that those contentious moments, if you interpret them the wrong way, they get blown out of proportion as Freddie said so correctly.
From a player's perspective, I think the interesting part, and I can speak about this from a Presidents Cup team, is I know when we got our rear ends handed to us by the U.S. Team, we always went over and joined the Americans in their villa for whatever we want to drink, iced tea or coffee or a glass of wine at the end of the day. And I think that's the spirit that's always been there and will continue to be maintained, because we do play week-in and week-out and we do see each other in the locker rooms more often nowadays than what happened 25, 30 years ago.
So I think from a Presidents Cup standpoint, even though it's one-on-one and everybody wants to beat each other, no question, it's done in a spirit that's reflective on the true spirit of the game of golf.
Q. Congratulations to both you guy, great picks. I'd just like to ask you, Fred, obviously you are a big sports guy, you watch a lot of sports, and you've been through a lot with The Ryder Cup and The Presidents Cup, and I'm just wondering, a little bit more about your style of being a captain. I know you haven't done it yet, but just what are you thinking about in terms of how to know when it's going to be hands-off and know when somebody is going to need a word of encouragement or a pat on the back or whatever.
CAPTAIN FRED COUPLES: Well, that's a great question, Larry, and I think, you know, people that know when I'm in the heat of the battle, I can look across at Greg ten or 15 years ago and really enjoy the day, and when you're in a situation that's in charge of these great 12 players in, my mind already, I'm pretty sure I know at least seven or eight that are going to make the team.
But when I've played, whether I was trying to beat a young player or not, I watched his game a lot. Maybe that's because my mind wanders on the golf course but there have been tons of times where it's a nice feeling, too. A lot of young players will come up and say, 'I really enjoyed playing with you and you're a lot of fun to play with,' and that's my goal. It's always been like that on the TOUR. I don't want to ever go out there and say, 'Nice shot' to someone and not mean it.
And whether you're talking about Hunter Mahan, I don't know him that well, but if he makes the team, I can say I've watched him play and what shots that he's hit. And even last week at the Gallery when he was battling out, birdieing every hole trying to beat Steve Stricker, some great golf.
So you've got to treat people differently, we all know that, I'm sure I'll say some wrong things at the wrong time, but if you're talking to 12 guys for four days, you're going to say a lot of good things and you're hopefully not going to say many bad.
But as far as me dealing with them all, I honestly think it's going to be very, very easy. I love the guys. Whoever makes the team. The hardest thing obviously for Greg and I is going to be these choices for the two captain's picks.
Q. I was wondering from there was ever a moment during your playing days where you said, "Some day I'm going to be a Canton on one of those teams." Obviously Greg, The Presidents Cup and Fred who played in the Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup team.
CAPTAIN GREG NORMAN: Freddie, I'll answer that. I never thought about wanting to be a captain. I always thought about wanting to be on the team. Golf is an individual sport, as we all know, and to reach the pinnacle of the sport, you have to give up a lot. You have to give up a lot of sacrifices to your own life in a lot of ways and a lot of sacrifices to the things that are going on around you and I always wanted to be on a team.
I played a lot of rugby when I was a kid I played a lot of Australian Rules, and I played a lot of team sport, and like Freddie, nothing feels better than having the camaraderie and support of other people playing around you. If you are playing bad, you get picked up by guys that are playing well around you; and if you are playing well, you can go pick up the guys that are not playing well.
So it's very much an emotional stimulus for me and I really just wanted to be on a team and that's why back in the early 90s I was wondering, how can we get something like The Ryder Cup. We've got The Ryder Cup, which is steeped in history, but we had so many great international players out here who are non-European and not Americans that could actually step up to the plate and put a pretty good team together.
So it was that process that I had in my mind of actually putting a team together somehow to create something like this. So that was always my dream and my goal.
Obviously now that you're the captain, a lot of things fall back into place about the thought process in the past about wanting to be a team member, what you would like as a team member, how you are going to instill the confidence in some players. And you've got to get some players, to quiet them down because they are overly exuberant in some of their approaches and comments. Now, that's the responsibility that a captain has to deal with on a case-by-case basis, I believe. And I think you have to get the respect, and the respect that comes your way as a captain because I think a lot of the guys are really looking for a good captaincy, a good, fun captaincy; the guys that are not willing to make some of the tough decisions, and some of the tough decisions are making somebody step out and not play and making a tough decision on putting a pairing together. You have to be able to do that. I know Freddie has got the capability of doing that, and I look forward to doing it on a case-by-case basis.
I've got just as much of an interesting 20-months ahead of me, basically, about that time, to get to know some of the younger players. I do watch them on television. I do watch their personalities and those guys, when I were younger were watching Freddie and I play so they have this connection through the TV tube and reading magazines and newspapers about what Freddie and I did on the golf tour on a global basis against each other.
So that's going to be fresh in their minds once we stir up and get them stimulated to go out and put their best foot forward. So it's a tremendous challenge in a lot of ways, but it answers your question about not wanting to be captain; about wanting to be on the team.
Q. Fred, what about you?
CAPTAIN FRED COUPLES: Well, for me, I think what a great way of putting it. You always want to be on these teams. I think for me way back in '96 and being a part of that team and then making that putt with Greg sitting on the hill, I'll never forget it, and acting kind of a little crazy. Those things don't happen very often.
I think The Presidents Cup, I was really different than on PGA TOUR events, because it was so much fun. And when I lost, it meant nothing if the guy in front of me or behind me won. And, you know, losing is no fun for anyone, but as far as building this team as Greg said and getting the character of young players, I don't think Greg and I are really that old and I think we'll have some players that are just a little younger than us on the team.
But it will be fun because of just the respect that I have for Greg and I can't foresee any players not want to go bust their tails and play and be Honorary Starter this team because just I was chosen captain. I think everyone will certainly look at me which is a great feeling, and I haven't really ever done that before, because as Greg said, we have always been on teams.
So it really changes, but I look forward to it and once again, when Tim told me Wednesday in L.A., literally there were a couple days. And I need to apologize to my caddie and two friends because I didn't even give them any hints that I was going to be captain, I kept it a secret. I'm not plugging Joe LaCava, but I apologize, Joe. (Laughter).
Q. Excuse the provincial nature of this question, but curious if you have any history of memories or golf in San Francisco, either a regular TOUR stop here during your playing days or at the Open at Olympic Club, or any particular memories leap to mind of playing in San Francisco.
CAPTAIN FRED COUPLES: Greg, go ahead.
CAPTAIN GREG NORMAN: I do. I think one of my favorite golf courses is the San Francisco Country Club that I've ever played. I played it as a guest of a member. Obviously I've played Olympic under tournament conditions, probably one of the golf courses I put in the Shinnecock mold, like the hardest, fairest golf course we've ever played. Demand, demanding golf course. That's why I'm looking forward to seeing Harding Park.
The support from the golfing public in San Francisco, you know, I've played in enough events out there to know that they are going to be 101 percent behind this. They do love their golf. It's a great part of the world.
So from my perspective, I'm looking forward to seeing Harding Park as a venue, No. 1, as a course, No. 2 and obviously seeing the reception we get from the local people.
CAPTAIN FRED COUPLES: I'll follow that up. I've played in some Opens up there. I've played San Francisco. I've played Olympic Club in a little outing last year. The golf courses are phenomenal. Where as Greg hasn't played, I have played Harding Park. It's a very, very demanding par 70. It's got a mixture of beautiful par 3s. The terrain is a lot alike; it's Olympic Club and San Francisco all together.
But the players will love it and then staying downtown San Francisco, who is not going to like that. You know, I'm sure the PGA TOUR will have great things for us to do, for the players to relax. But basically golf there and the fans, they have always supported it, and again, when we were there a couple years ago, there were a lot of people out there to watch us at Harding Park.
Q. For both captains, have you given any thought to who your assistants will be, and what would you be looking for from those guys?
CAPTAIN GREG NORMAN: I'll answer --
CAPTAIN FRED COUPLES: I'll --
CAPTAIN GREG NORMAN: Go ahead, Freddie.
CAPTAIN FRED COUPLES: No, Greg, you first. (Laughter)
CAPTAIN GREG NORMAN: I have put a lot of thought to it and I haven't come up with a decision yet. It's a lot more of an interesting task for me because of the base that I've got to go through, whether it's Australia or whether it's South Africa or whether it's from Japan and other countries that have participated to some degree in The Presidents Cup. So my task is going to be a tough one. I've got a lot of friends out there on an international basis who have played the game of golf, and spend a lot of time with me personally. So it's an interesting choice for me. I haven't made mine yet.
CAPTAIN FRED COUPLES: Well, for me, I'm sure I've talked to a few writers and given them some names before, and I do have a player in mind, a great, great friend, and I just haven't talked to him about it much.
But you know, I've mentioned Michael Jordan as an assistant, assistant, assistant. Lately I've mentioned Robin Williams and the reason I say that is as Greg mentioned earlier, we're not on any teams when you're in the locker room. And you have people come in when you're in the team room, I think, first of all, I love Michael Jordan, I've been around him. He does some things in Santa Barbara. A lot of our players know him. He's at these events. So that's why I bring his name up because as a team player, there's no one any better. And I think that's what's the fun part.
Now the challenging part is when you're sitting around and you've got nothing but time, I would like a guy like Robin Williams there to keep us loose, and that's why I say that. Whether they are there or not, I don't know, but I do have a great friend in mine mind to play as my teammate and hopefully pick some good guys and get some good pairings. (Laughter).
CAPTAIN GREG NORMAN: Boy, Freddie, you just threw it wide open for me right there. I've got the whole world to go to. You've just got the United States.
CAPTAIN FRED COUPLES: And I've got two Chicago guys, too. But I don't know Robin Williams at all, so he may just laugh at me. And I see the Commissioner over there chuckling.
But I'll tell you, it is a battle in these rooms and just to get your right frame of mind, and I don't expect guys to sit around and listen to me at night. So we're going to be playing and doing things you hear, ping-pong and fighting and wrestling against each other and getting rid of some of the tenseness before the morning starts.
Q. This obviously is about competition and winning but it's also about sportsmanship and makes you wonder, what's it most about, so I have a question. It could be a tough question, easy question. If the matches came down to where the Americans, the final putt, an American needs to make a 3-footer to halve and tie the matches; if he misses it, they lose. Do you want your player to concede that putt, or do you want the American to have to make it?
CAPTAIN GREG NORMAN: Have to make it. I mean, we love the competition. I can tell you from my perspective, I want to be that guy in the seat. Because that's what you train yourself for, that's what you train your mind for and train yourself physically for to be able to calm your nerves down. And it's a lot harder as a team sport because you have 11 other team members and the captain there, plus their significant others and spouses, and there's just a huge unit that's associated to this one putt.
But I think that's what everybody wants. That's what a Michael Jordan wanted, that's what a Larry Bird wanted. You wanted that last chance to win the tournament. And I bet you if you canvassed all 24 players, they would say: 'I want to make that putt; don't give it to me; because it's part of the game, to test your intestinal fortitude to see whether you've got it. And if you make it, sometimes it will take you to the next level.
And look what happened with Bernhard Langer in The Ryder Cup. He missed it, but know what, he's a great enough player, good enough player, he bounced right back to take himself to the next level in professional golf, because that probably was a good catalyst for him to stimulate him to say, okay, put it aside, I missed that thing, I'm going to go on to the next one.
So I don't know about you, Freddie, I would say my position, play forward.
Q. Fred, reverse the situation, an international player has a 3-footer, he needs to make it to tie the matches; if he misses it, they lose. What do you want your player to do there?
CAPTAIN FRED COUPLES: No, I'm fully with Greg on that. I think like you said, all 24 players and the two captains would want to, and if he misses it, it's the game of golf, and if he makes it for his team, he's got however many countries and people jumping up and down. I think that's the whole game.
I remember a couple putts being given but normally, I say normally, I think almost every time is when the matches are really over. But if you're talking about everyone watching, they would all go home, you know, thinking, what did they just do.
So no, it would never happen. And I think Greg is exactly correct. If you went to Ernie Els, he would want to make that putt. And so would Tiger and Phil and Hunter Mahan if he makes the team or Stewart Cink.
If the matches were over and I was standing there and I winked at a Davis Love and said, give it to him and we weren't going to win or we were winning by enough, then they would do it, no doubt.
Q. Steve already asked my question regarding the assistant captains, but as long as you were having a little fun with the answer, might I suggest getting Bill Murray involved in some way.
CAPTAIN FRED COUPLES: (Chuckling) Well, I think I've gone far enough on that. (Laughter).
I really do mean it, because I've been on nine teams, and I will say, I'm going to mention him, President Bush, or 41, has been to several of these things, and Barbara, and let me tell you, it's a treat to have them walk into your cabin or into your players room to say hi and play well, and that's pretty much what presidents has always done.
But I just want to reiterate this again, it may be someone else if Michael can't do it, but this team thing is a huge, huge thing. We've got 12 guys that some of them don't really even know what a team thing is, and some people look -- I've looked dejected before, but let me tell you, once my match is over and Davis is out there making a putt to win, I'm right back into the ballgame and I don't want to make everyone sound like I'm a rah-rah team this and team that. But Jordan can tell you things about what happens with 12 guys, and they are all there to do one thing, and that's win an NBA Championship. And we are there as 12 guys and a captain, and Greg is a captain with his 12 guys to win this thing in 2009, and it's just always been in my mind. Bill Murray is funny and great, but the Robin Williams, if anything, was thrown slightly as a comical answer to that. But I'll end it with that. That will be the last time I talk about that.
CAPTAIN GREG NORMAN: Fred, I've got an answer to that. I'm going to have my assistant automatically, because I'm going to be marrying one like that. Are you going to marry Michael Jordan?
CAPTAIN FRED COUPLES: No, I'm not. But I'll kiss him if we win. (Laughter).
TY VOTAW: With that, Captains, Couples and Norman, and Commissioner, thank you very much. Thank you all for joining us today.
Congratulations to both Greg and Fred on your selections and thank you very much.
End of FastScripts