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THE PRESIDENTS CUP ANNOUNCEMENT
October 2, 2008
LAURA NEAL: I'm pleased to be joined by Greg Norman, Captain of the 2009 Presidents Cup International Team, as well as Frank Nobilo the newly-minted captain's assistant for the International Team. The announcement was made earlier on the GOLF CHANNEL but Captain Norman, could I ask you to make some additional comments about why you chose Frank, maybe embarrass him a little bit more; and Frank, we'll take some reaction from you as well before we open it up to questions.
CAPTAIN GREG NORMAN: Well, it's pretty hard to embarrass Frank, but from my perspective it was a very difficult decision. I boiled it down to three, maybe four individuals and of those, two had a chance to play their way on to the team. Frank was always out there on the front line of everything. Obviously because of his knowledge, his perception and his understanding of the way the game of golf is right now, and also where the players are; he's on the ground where just about every tournament is played and sees what's going on with the players.
As I've said previously on the GOLF CHANNEL his knowledge of caddies, as well, is just as important to me as anything else. I've known Frank for a long period of time. I've known his career as a player. He's been successful, tournament victories, but most importantly I've seen what he's like behind the scenes at The Presidents Cup when I was on the same team with him in '96 and '98. He's very likable, very amenable to everybody, and other than that, he very decisive in his decisions and he's very impactful in any thought process he puts in; the words coming out of his mouth are thought about. He just doesn't blurt out something just to say something. So it all added to something I really honed in on more than anything else, the guy is very aware of where he is in his environment and very aware of the people around him.
So to me it was a great choice, not only for The Presidents Cup, but also for the International Team. We want to win the tournament, and I wanted to surround myself with somebody who has the same passion for the game of golf and the same passion for victory like I do.
LAURA NEAL: Thank you, Greg. Frank, it's been official for about 2 1/2 hours. Can I get some reaction from you?
FRANK NOBILO: Yeah, I'm delighted. I don't know how big of a check I've got to write to Greg now.
No, it's phenomenal for me. I've been very fortunate to be on three Presidents Cups. The first one, Greg, as you know, he actually had surgery; that's why he couldn't play. But I'll never forget, he still lobbed up when he was the No. 1 player in the world to support the side, which meant a lot to the teammates. Even though we didn't go onto win that one, I think that set the tone for what I believe was a phenomenal event.
He obviously then took a leadership role when he came back in for the remaining two Presidents Cup I played. And even '98, a lot of people gloss over the fact that he was out of the game for nearly 12 months with shoulder surgery, and still, he was an intricate part of team that won in '98.
He always brings a lot more to the table than just a great golf game, and I think at this stage of his life, he's bringing the knowledge, the ability that took him to world No. 1, and he wants to impart that as he has on a lot of younger players around the world.
To me, he was a mentor. One of the things I always appreciate about Greg is he tells you exactly what he thought whether you liked it or not. He made you stand up for what you believe in, and to be part of something that he's involved in, that he believes in, and something that as strongly as I believe in, as well, is the future of the game and how important it is from where we come from because Australasia, as you know, it's not the biggest part of the world, but we are very proud when it comes to sport. Greg is as proud of his country as what I am of mine, and we know it's important that you leave the game in better state than which you found it and you want to be as competitive as you can and as fair as you can.
To me to get the announcement today is probably as good of any highlight I've had when I played golf, so I was delighted.
LAURA NEAL: Thank you and congrats again.
Q. I've been looking at the World Rankings, and is it fair to say, I don't know whether you've looked at it, but the world team at the moment has as much depth as it's ever had in the Presidents Cup, when you look at guys like Appleby, Allenby, Tim Clark, Retief Goosen probably all would not make a team now on rankings.
FRANK NOBILO: Yeah, it's amazing. I looked at World Rankings this morning, and Greg is aware of that, too, is that there's 15 of the top 33 players in the world as of today would be on the rest of the world side. I think that's not an anomaly. That's the way it's been tending to go for the last decade or so.
It's important, and that's why as foreign players, or non-European players, we campaigned so hard for an event like that. We were lucky, and that's why I go back to players like Greg and Nick Price, who stood so vehemently for this event when it finally got off the ground, and they believed in it. And it's important for the young players coming through that they have something other than just trying to play individually.
It's great to win tournaments around the world. Some are fortunate to win majors; others aren't. But to be part of a team in a game like golf is so important. And believe me, it will be a very, very strong team next year.
Q. I don't know if there's any other questions directly but just your thoughts on somebody like Michael Campbell who is playing well at the moment; is he a guy you would like to see make his way back into this environment?
FRANK NOBILO: Oh, certainly, and maybe it helps Michael. I remember seeing Michael earlier in the year, and I think anybody that plays golf, you know you go through the ups and downs, and so maybe having another Kiwi out there, maybe that will help spur him along.
But when you can climb as high as he did and win the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, you know you've got the game. And I've seen the last month or so, he's starting to show the signs that he got him there. It was not by accident and he's always proved that in his career, and hopefully it spurs him onto a really large charge and will give him the motivation to make what should be a very, very good team.
LAURA NEAL: I had one e-mail to me from someone who could not join us; could you take about your role with the GOLF CHANNEL, and it's kind of an interesting dynamic that you're out on TOUR, but interacting with players but in a different role than as a fellow player. Can you talk about how that will contribute to being assistant captain?
FRANK NOBILO: I suppose that's been a rock and a hard place, too, because as a player, you put your spikes on and that's what's the most important thing. I know I have a job to do that. I certainly will take both roles very, very seriously as I always have.
I don't think one will complicate the other. I think the intention of doing as good of a job as I can on TV will still exist, and at the same time, I'll be trying to assist Greg in whichever direction he thinks that we should be best deserved. So if I can be his eyes and his ears for a while and if he needs more or less or whatever, I'll take his direction or whatever.
But my job is to assist him. He has the tough job. You know, whether it's cleaning somebody's shoes or whatever, I think -- I know that the teams that I served on, I had some very, very good assistant captains in Ian Baker-Finch and Wayne Grady, and I know that they made our job extremely easy. The captain had to make the tough decisions. I certainly know that Greg won't shirk from that, and I will simply assist him in whatever capacity, however little or great that might be.
LAURA NEAL: And do you have any experiences out at Harding Park Golf Course; do you know the course or do you know the San Francisco area well?
FRANK NOBILO: I know the San Francisco area well. Actually Mark Lye, who I work, with literally grew up at Harding Park. But I know it's been renovated over the years and changed dramatically. My playing experience out there is more the U.S. Open at Olympic (Club) that I enjoyed the year Lee Janzen won.
I know San Francisco is a great sporting town. Again, the good thing for us, it's a little closer to Australasia, so hopefully we can get a few more spectators to come across. It's simply one hop on the plane.
It's not necessarily neutral playing ground. It should get some very raucous galleries from both sides.
Q. Just wondering what your assessment of the Australians -- apart from your performance at the British Open of course, given the fact now we don't have any players in the Top-10.
CAPTAIN GREG NORMAN: You broke up in the early part of that question. What was that, sorry?
Q. I was just trying to get your assessment on how the Australians performed this year on the TOUR given now that we don't have any players in the Top-10 anymore.
CAPTAIN GREG NORMAN: Well, on reflection, I think the players themselves are probably looking at the year they had and are saying, well, it could have been better.
As far as I'm concerned, every player should look that way, no matter whether you're out there winning every golf tournament you play; you should always be striving to push yourself forward. The evolution of the game of golf is a weird one. You don't -- (phone connection wanes) -- a distraction for them. I would hope that nothing like that will be taking place, but you just can't say, well it's all because of their golf. But I think the players always sit back, and this is the time of year they sit back and analyze what's taken place over the last nine, ten months is or whatever it is, and just set their goals for next year.
The talent of those players coming out of Australia is nothing short of phenomenal. We all know that. We've got a new young crop of guys coming through. I had a great experience with Jason Day in the early part of this year. I thought this guy had a lot of talent in his shoes. I've been watching with interest to see how he's been, and I know he's had a lot of problems.
Adam Scott, Adam, he's a great player. He's won this year. There's no question, he hasn't won a major, and I know he's probably a little bit ticked off about that not being able to put himself up there in contention more in a major championship but he will do. Time is on his side. He's still a young guy. He's still a great player.
I think the inspiration comes from within, how much you really want to take out of it yourself. If you're inspired to reach the top and chase that ultimate goal of being No. 1 in the world, then you'll get there. I respect and admire every one of the players from Australia or New Zealand, or from anywhere in the game of golf to tell you the truth, because it not an easy task to go out there and try and achieve the level where there's only one person who has that level.
You can have a whole lot of No. 2s and you can have a whole lot of No. 3s, but there's only one No. 1, and to get to that position, it's a tough deal. Tiger's done a phenomenal job of it to date, but I think by now, with Tiger's absence, I think it's given a lot of confidence to a lot of the younger players to establish themselves with a little bit more credibility within themselves, mentally as well as physically.
And next year is going to be a very interesting year when Tiger comes out, because there are going to be guys with more confidence under their belt and it will be interesting to see how they take on the task of when Tiger comes back to play, including the Australians.
Q. When you're in the television booth week-after-week, I think it gives you a unique position to observe and add some perspectives to these things, and in terms of competition with the players, do you think that actually will be a benefit for you in offering anything to the team in terms of player observations, perspectives, maybe even pairing strategies?
FRANK NOBILO: I'll answer in reverse. Pairing strategies are a little different if you want to compare The Presidents Cup to the Ryder Cup, by virtue of, that you have more matches that are played each day. So by virtue of the fact that you have more matches, there's less people to sit down; so the strategy is a little different.
With regard to actually watching the players, I think any time you're on the ground and you watch them -- following up on what Greg is just saying, there, too -- and watching them complete at the highest level maybe where they fall down and try and correct themselves, yeah, I think you definitely have the observation that the shots that they might, their go-to shots or where they might mistakes, there's certain things, that sometimes they want to have a chat. These are guys you've played alongside and or the younger players now you watch, and sometimes on the range they want to have a chat, and you get the insight and you start to see what makes them tick; and maybe if they do need a little shove in the right direction, or some of them, just purely, they are fine on their own.
I think the more time that you spend with the players, whether as a broadcaster or as an assistant captain, as you develop the rapport and hopefully the trust, you can sometimes just let them play, or maybe get them to that switch a little quicker that makes them ignite and be the player that you know they are capable of.
So all those things are an advantage to be out there on a regular basis.
Q. It's that switch, you just hit like the key phrase for me there; do you see even that in some of the players now as you're watching events week-in and week-out?
FRANK NOBILO: Yeah, I think it's always easier to see with the household names because they win on a far more regular basis.
Going back to Adam Scott for example when he won at the Byron Nelson this year, sometimes it's the frustration, and he bombs a drive up the 18th hole in a playoff and hits a relatively poor approach shot, but he makes the 40-footer. Sometimes there's a look, you see guys that don't back down, or the hunger; they are all a little different.
Greg in his heyday from behind was a phenomenal player; you could see he had a look in his eyes. Ballesteros; each player sort of goes about his trade a little differently. So with the younger guys, you're trying to pick up on, sometimes they need to be angry. Sometimes it's a change in caddie, and sometimes it's the old caddie coming back. Ernie Els has got Ricci Roberts back on the bag. There's a lot of different things.
I just don't think you can have enough information on the players of the day, because the game is so much more different and it's so much more powerful. Fitness is involved; whether a guy is fully healthy; the type of golf course; the weather conditions, whether they suit -- for example, I'm in New York at the moment, and it's very, very cold. Some guys are not that favorable with cold conditions. All of those things add up to it.
But in the end, every player is looking for that switch. Sometimes he gets it from his caddie, sometimes his wife and sometimes from his opponent making a birdie putt on top of him. But that's really what determines great players from the rest.
Q. Obviously The Presidents Cup doesn't have the tradition or history of the Ryder Cup. Do you feel The Presidents Cup, despite that, is headed in the right direction to event it actually achieve that status?
CAPTAIN GREG NORMAN: I'll pick up on that one first, and Frank then you can follow up.
I think earning establishment comes with time, but that time needed can only be built on the building blocks that you establish very early on. Frank hit the nail on the head about the early Presidents Cups, '94, '96, '98, and the energy that was established in the early ones really will be reflected as time goes by. And each Presidents Cup right now that has passed by, it seems like there's a little bit better energy.
Now, I'll never forget the energy down in Australia, Royal Melbourne, '98. It was the first time we basically ventured outside of the United States, and everybody was fired up. It really just had -- I had never been to a Ryder Cup and obviously had never played on one, but it had that feeling about it, because there is some credibility to be had by the fact that you have the nation and the supporting gallery behind you.
When you're playing golf as an individual, you get it, but you don't get it at the same level as what team sport does. And I noticed that big time in '98, and we really rose to the occasion. We rose to the occasion through the time we spent in the players' tent.
So in other words, give it time. We've already started seeing the building blocks position itself where it is going to develop into a classic team event as time goes by.
FRANK NOBILO: Yeah, I've actually been to the last three Ryder Cups. The first one I went to was at Oakland Hills, and I became very aware the difference is not just in the format. But I've played a lot of golf in Europe, as Greg did, and so historically we are aware of the history of the event, you have 37 Ryder Cups. And I just came off a show, correct me if I'm wrong, I think we've had eight Presidents Cups. So there's a big difference in history initially.
But I think if you look at how quickly The Presidents Cup has developed, the strength of the teams that both teams have fielded, I think that's what gets the event going into the right direction. It's obvious the changes made in the Ryder Cup when it went from Great Britain and Ireland to Europe to strengthen that match. Those changes have not had to be made in The Presidents Cup because already we are fielding one strong team against another.
So I think people today want to see great competition. When you look at the World Rankings, if you want to use that as a standard bearer and you compare the two teams, then you've got on paper two of the best teams out there. The people want competition, then it has to be successful.
Q. You mentioned Harding Park, San Francisco earlier, just going on from that, I guess early on in the very formative years of The Presidents Cup, we came to expect Lake Manassas, Virginia as the permanent home for the U.S.-based venues, do you think it would be a positive now to continually shift the venue around the United States?
CAPTAIN GREG NORMAN: Well, I can just tell you, I got off the phone just prior to this call with Commissioner Finchem and we were discussing that very subject. It has to move around. I don't think there should be a home anywhere whether it's the United States or anywhere else for this.
I would love to see The Presidents Cup go to New Zealand. I would love to see it go up to maybe Fiji or Japan or maybe to India if Jeev (Milkha) Singh gets in the tournament. You've got to really promote the game of golf on a global basis. This is The Presidents Cup; it's the International Team against the United States. I think the United States has some wonderful venues that are available in different parts and all four corners of the country. It would be a sad day if they decided to keep it at the home of one place. I think it's the responsibility of the TOUR to move it around as much as they can.
Q. Obviously being from the Australasian Tour, we think it's fantastic having an Aussie Captain and a New Zealand assistant captain. As far as that feeling on The Presidents Cup team, can you describe your favorite moment in a Presidents Cup?
FRANK NOBILO: Obviously winning was great. There's a few private moments that I probably couldn't share just because I couldn't do them justice.
When the second team that we had, which was '96, which was Greg's first team, there was a moment afterwards we lost by a point. I was actually on the second to last and Vijay Singh was in the last match. For various reasons, we found ourselves in the team room afterwards, and everybody their ultimate and we lost by a point. That was only the second time The Presidents Cup had ever been played, and we all looked at each, and effectively there was not a dry eye in the place. Everybody gave a formal speech for reasons I won't state, and you realized that we had all come from so far apart. You know the history between Australia and New Zealand; and yet, I could not have been closer to 11 other players in my entire life. And I think it was a moment that spurred obviously '98 for a start, but it was a moment that I always remembered.
It was almost like you grew up. You looked every other player in the eye. You respected them for what they gave that weak week, and that will be probably one of the best moments that I've ever had in my golf, just seeing the same look or the look that I had mirrored in 11 other guys faces.
CAPTAIN GREG NORMAN: I agree with you 100 percent, Frank.
Q. My question was based around the fact mainly because golf is such an individual sport once you're out on the course, those team moments, when you see a team win as a whole and you share that joy; I was hoping you would say, that's the feeling that you actually get to experience that sharing of something with the whole team rather than just yourselves as individual.
CAPTAIN GREG NORMAN: We all hurt. That's what we did. We all felt for each other. And it wasn't just one player winning or one losing. The team lost by a point we all bled for each other.
FRANK NOBILO: Yeah, it was a phenomenal feeling. A lot of us grew up playing team sports, because that's what you do in Australasiana, and there was an empathy I never thought I would have as a fully grown adult.
Q. That's almost like a Wallabie hugging an All Black then.
FRANK NOBILO: Yeah, maybe that will happen.
GREG NORMAN: Let's not get too far with that. (Laughing).
FRANK NOBILO: That's a lot of bonding.
Q. This has just been touched on by Greg, but I was going to raise the prospect of whether New Zealand had the infrastructure to actually host an event like this, certainly we have got the courses but the age-old problem is always finding a venue that can handle the amount of television cameras, cables, media, etc. Have you got a place in mind that you think could do something like that?
FRANK NOBILO: I think it's a little bit premature. I'd certainly like to think New Zealand could handle it one day, and I think we deserve to. One of the questions previously was about the Ryder Cup, and I think if you look at Ireland as a great golfing destination for hundreds of years, it finally hosted its first Ryder Cup two years ago.
And I think it's not necessarily that we have to wait our place in line, because obviously what Sir Bob Charles has done, he's inducted to the Hall of Fame this year, as well as Michael Campbell, the only two players to win major championships, I think the infrastructure is important because the one thing we do want do is be tremendous hosts.
Australia has had the advantage, as South Africa has, that's why they have been two tremendous venues, the third one being Canada outside of America. I think it's great and we want to do everybody proud. I think there's nothing wrong with waiting your time in the cue, but our time will come.
I haven't spent enough time to be perfectly honest back home in the last few years. There are some really good golf courses. I would be terrible to single out, whether it's Kidnappers or Kauri Cliffs, because they have got more public acclaim overseas.
But you're right, I think infrastructure is more important. We've had America's Cups in yachting, and we have done extremely well with that and I have the utmost confidence in New Zealand to be a tremendous host. The thing is, golf is a huge game. It's a language in itself. I'd like things to be done for the right reasons, not just because we could simply host it.
Q. The world is going to see Cape Kidnappers and Kauri Cliffs with this Kiwi Challenge.
FRANK NOBILO: Yeah, the young guns.
Q. That's going to be a real showcase but they are both in quite remote places.
FRANK NOBILO: Yeah, it takes time. It would be phenomenal, and there will be a day, whether that day comes in two, four, eight, ten, 15 years, 20 years; we will host The Presidents Cup.
Q. This build up for The Presidents Cup for next year is very important considering it is back in Australia the year after; your thoughts on that, are you planning on staying around for the next one if that ends up being the case?
CAPTAIN GREG NORMAN: Planning on saying around being alive or staying alive and being captain? (Laughing).
Q. Well, if the captaincy was offered to you again and that was the case, is that something you would be coming back for?
CAPTAIN GREG NORMAN: Well, I'll be honest with you, my position was right from the beginning if I was ever going to be a captain of a Presidents Cup, my heart and soul was really focused in on being in Australia. When I had a meeting with Commissioner Finchem at Pebble Beach this year about the 2009 Presidents Cup, that obviously was our discussion point.
Obviously there are certain rules and regulations that are written, but you know, I voiced my very clear opinion or thought that I would love to be in my home country in 2011. We'll see how that plays out. You know, my focus right now is 2009. Whether you win or whether you lose, hopefully I have an opportunity to defend or come back and win it.
We've seen that in the past with Gary Player. We've seen that in the past with Jack Nicklaus. But I am not the one who makes that decision. I hope that decision falls in my lap, because it would be one of my greatest feathers in my cap would be to take a team to Australia, especially to Royal Melbourne, one of my favorite golf courses in the world, would make me even prouder to come down there. Australia, just like New Zealand, we have a country that based our livelihood on supporting sport and our heroes and around our respective countries, and golf is no different. It would be a huge, huge boost to our country golf-wise. I know Australia is probably struggling a little bit, I read some of the editorials what's happening with golf down there sponsorship-wise, and 2011 is a long way away, but if we can focus in and get a victory and go down and defend it, I would be very proud if that was the case.
Q. Definitely something we are looking forward to very much.
CAPTAIN GREG NORMAN: I would agree.
Q. While we're here, on the Australasian Tour, your thoughts on Mark Brown, he's had quite a year this year.
FRANK NOBILO: Yeah, I'm impressed, I liked him many, many years ago. Another thing as a fellow New Zealander, it's hard to find what spurs your game on. He's been a little bit of a late bloomer but showed a lot of talent. I know he worked with Mal Tongue earlier on in his career, and so technically he's a very refined player. Sometimes, I know because I experienced it when I first turned pro, New Zealand seemed such a remote place, and then it seems to take us a little while longer just to adapt to the rest of the word and feel that we really have the goods and I think that's what he's going through right now because he's certainly a very, very talented player but belief is something that comes to everybody at their own individual time.
LAURA NEAL: I'd like to thank everybody for joining us, especially Greg Norman and Frank Nobilo. Congratulations again, and Greg, we will see you next week at The Presidents Cup Captain's Media Day at Harding Park.
End of FastScripts