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THE PRESIDENTS CUP MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 2, 2013
LAURA NEAL: We are pleased to have U.S. Team captain Fred Couples on the line, as well as one of his assistant captains, Mr.Jay Haas. We also have International Team captain, Nick Price on the line.
Before we begin, I'd like to read the Top‑10 from each team that was finalized today, since I know this is last‑minute information, I wanted to make sure everybody had the updated standings.
For the U.S. Team, in order:
1, Tiger Woods
2, Brandt Snedeker
3, Phil Mickelson
4, Matt Kuchar
5, Keegan Bradley
6, Jason Dufner
7, Steve Stricker
8, Bill Haas
9, Hunter Mahan
10, Zach Johnson
And for the International Team:
1, Adam Scott
2, Charl Schwartzel
3, Jason Day
4, Ernie Els
5, Louis Oosthuizen
6, Hideki Matsuyama
7, Branden Grace
8, Graham Delaet
9, Richard Sterne
10, Angel Cabrera
FRED COUPLES: Thanks, Laura. You know, Jay and I have been texting back and forth here. It's a really, really good day for a lot of the players. A really sour day for Webb. As you know, Webb was inside the Top‑10 for the whole two years, made The Ryder Cup Team last year, and then this year, Zach Johnson birdied the eighth and ninth hole paired with Webb, who pushed Webb into 11th.
And then Steve Stricker, there's a little story behind that, but Steve Stricker I talked to a couple weeks ago and told me that he wanted to make the team badly and was going to play a couple of the FedEx events, and oddly enough, he played today, almost won, and pushed his self from 11th to seventh.
For Jay and I, it was a great day. We have guys on the outside that are top players. As we all know, only ten play, 12 make it and two picks, but we have a great team. And I can talk about the other guys, but they have been up there the whole time, the Tigers and the Phils and the Snedekers and the Kuchars and Bill Haas has had a great year, Jay's son again, and Hunter Mahan is back on the team.
We are very strong and very excited. I've texted all ten guys already and they have all gotten back. I've been doing this with them for four months now, five months now, and they all want to play and they all want to be on the team. We are going to a great spot at Jack's place, and so, you know, as a team, we rounded off very well today.
LAURA NEAL: Now I'd like to turn it over to Nick to make a few remarks on his team coming together.
NICK PRICE: Thanks, Laura, to be honest, the team didn't change much, the Top‑10, the last three or four weeks with the exception of Canadian, Graham DeLaet playing so well the last two weeks and moving his way from, I think 13th or 14th up into eighth position. So the Top‑10 for us has been pretty static. No real surprises there. Angel Cabrera at No. 10, Richard Sterne at 9.
You know, I think my biggest concern for the Top‑10 right now is Louis Oosthuizen and how his health is going to be. I spoke to him last week on Monday a week ago. He's had three, four‑‑ five weeks of therapy now, and he's very confident that he's going to be able to play at the Dunhill which is going to be the week before.
But to be honest, I think we have got a really strong team. All of these guys have had some really good finishes this year. They have played well in the Majors. Obviously Adam winning Augusta; Jason playing well in Augusta; Charl played well at just about all the Majors this year; Ernie winning in Europe. I don't think the American people know Branden Grace or Richard Sterne too well, but they are both very accomplished players.
So I'm very happy with our team. It's a team made up of quite a few rookies, but what they lack in experience I think they will make up for this enthusiasm.
Q. First of all, are you watching the Florida State game now, or no?
FRED COUPLES: No, I'm talking to you guys. Afraid to turn the TV on because‑‑
Q. You don't know how to turn it off.
FRED COUPLES: No, I know how to turn TVs on.
Q. There's been a lot of talk about Jordan Spieth, wonder if we could get your thoughts on him, and notably in 2009 and 2011, there were two young up‑and‑comers that didn't get picked, Dustin and Keegan. Where do you stand on the young Texan?
FRED COUPLES: Well, you're correct, and I did leave off Keegan who was a PGA champ. You know, the kid showed a lot of golf today. I'm going to sleep on it tonight and tomorrow.
And to be honest with you, the last time this happened was at THE TOUR Championship and Bill Haas won, he won the FedExCup, and Keegan played very well in that, also. I chose Bill and left Keegan off the team‑‑ I jokingly called him Justin on the plane, and a lot of guys have been teasing me.
Jordan, knowing what he had to do, really played very solid, birdieing the last three holes on Saturday to turn a bad round into an okay round and going out today and shooting the low score by three or four strokes was a remarkable score.
So, you know, he's got a 50/50 chance. Jay and I have been talking, and Davis is going to get on the phone when we are done. He's showed a lot of character and he's had a great year, there's no doubt. He's really had a great year.
Q. Just wanted to get your thoughts on obviously your picks going forward, as well. Obviously Marc Leishman for us made a little bit of a push into 12th and did really well in two of the majors, but then you have a guy like Tim Clarke and even your countryman, Brendon de Jonge there, as well. What is your thinking, given that you already have quite a few debutantes on the team?
NICK PRICE: I think that's a really important point and something I'm going to have to address tomorrow with the other players when I speak with them and what do we do. We have potentially six or seven rookies on our team; do we go for the experienced guys, or go for the youth and inexperience.
But to be honest, I was really impressed with the way Marc played today. He was under a lot of pressure, as was Brendon de Jonge. Timmy Clarke unfortunately missed the cut and probably lost a couple of positions, or at least a position.
But tomorrow's a really big day for me. I'm going to get with all the players, get some of their views now that we have finalized the Top‑10 and make a decision from there. You know, there's a lot of permutations.
There's a lot of variables in what‑‑ I think I'm down to five, maybe six guys at the most. But to be honest, I'm going to be looking at the guys who are in form harder than the other guys.
Q. And maybe a lot of rookies is the key, you need perhaps, given in the past we have not won this thing very often and we've had a lot of established players.
NICK PRICE: Right. Absolutely. And that's the thing is I'm going to look tomorrow at potential match‑ups, who is going to play with who and who I think would be best suited to play with who. Obviously those two picks are going to be a huge part of that decision as to who I think will complement the team for all.
Q. Just wondering if you can provide your thoughts on Canadian Graham DeLaet and what you think he might be bring to the team.
NICK PRICE: Well, you know, Graham has improved since‑‑ in the last two years, I've watched him play a little bit, and I don't really know his game that well. But this last, say, ten, 12 weeks, I've watched him really, really turn his whole year around.
One thing I will say, when I had the meeting at Muirfield Village in May with all the other players, Graham came to me afterwards and was so fired up after listening to Adam Scott and K.J. Choi and some of the more experienced team members talk about what it was like to play in The Presidents Cup.
And he came to me and he said, "I really want to make this team, Nick." That determination, to me, showed in the last month of play, particularly the last two weeks. You know, he's matured. He's learned how to play the game so well, and I think he's going to be a huge asset to our team. And the enthusiasm is such an important part; enthusiasm is infectious in a team, so with all the youngsters that are in there, I don't think we are going to be too short of enthusiasm.
Q. I would like to ask you about Hideki Matsuyama who is obviously making his debut at The Presidents Cup. In The Presidents Cup website, you mentioned that you were impressed by his results at Merion and you said you thought he was going to be a star in the future, that was your opinion after he played at Muirfield. Can you talk about him in general, what part of the game you really like, what he brings to the team, and your expectations, and the last question will be, I recall Hideki played with Adam Scott in a practice round at Muirfield, was that something that you requested, you got that practice round together with Adam and Hideki?
NICK PRICE: Yeah, absolutely, when we had our players meeting in May at Muirfield, I asked the guys if they would play‑‑ especially the senior guys, if they would play more practice rounds with the younger guys and the potential members. So that was wonderful.
I think Hideki is 21 years old if I'm correct, his first year as a professional; I think the big thing for me is to make sure that he really feels a part of the team. I've spoken to him a little bit, I know his English is not great, but I think he understands a lot of it. So it's going to be great to have Maruyama there to help him; Maruyama has been there to help interpret the feelings and what we talk about in the players room and amongst the meetings.
One of the things that's really impressed me about him this year is even though he played so well in Japan in the early part of the year when he first turned pro, when he came over and played in the U.S. Open, I kept a very sharp eye on him to see how he would handle the pressure of playing in a major championship. I know he played at Augusta as an amateur, but his first outing in as a professional in the U.S. Open in a major, he finished 9th or 10th, I think it was, and that really got my attention. I knew this was a guy who was not afraid of the big moment.
Then to watch him play at the British Open, he had another really strong finish for a rookie, and then also at the PGA. He had the cut at all three majors, and he has played‑‑ he has put a lot of good rounds together.
You know, he's going to be a huge asset to our team. I just want him to feel that very early on that he is going to be very much a big part of our team.
Q. If you look at points in 2013, Jordan Spieth is ninth in the standings, as opposed to 22nd overall; how much consideration would you give to those kind of numbers or do you look at the straight numbers, and how far down that rankings list do you look?
FRED COUPLES: Well, that's a great question. I know it was towards me, but since I put my assistant on, I'm going to have him answer a little of that first.
JAY HAAS: (Laughing).
FRED COUPLES: And then I'll finish it up. Jay, I know we've been talking about this for two hours. So I put Jay on to answer a few questions, but I'll let him go first on this.
JAY HAAS: Obviously we are looking at all different types of scenarios and like Fred says, we are talking about it a lot. A lot happened today just in that one round, and a lot of movement on our team.
Yeah, I think certainly that is something we have to look at. Jordan obviously came out this year with no status and here we are talking about him possibly being on The Presidents Cup team. So he's obviously played very well.
You know, his record is speaking for itself, and his round today kind of capped off what he's accomplished this year in just such a short time at a young age. So obviously you can't overlook that, and we are certainly looking at the different scenarios, and I've heard people talk about, well, he's just done it in half the time that most everybody else has, but obviously we have been looking at the same thing, weighing just this year, as opposed to both years.
As Fred says, he's going to get a great look. And the fact is, all these guys, just go to 15, 16 and on down for both teams, all of whom are unbelievable; you could put a third team together and beat the other two teams. The guys are just so close, and unfortunate that somebody will be left out.
FRED COUPLES: And so for me, to finish up, I think we're all not really new at younger players. Nick Price, it's his first time doing this, but really, I don't know Jordan Spieth that well. I've certainly watched him play. I watched him play at the Wyndham because he was up there. I've seen him play a little bit.
But the point I'd like to make in all of this is it's really‑‑ it's hard for everyone to make these picks, and they are called picks. And so for my team, you know, I could sit here and say, well, this guy played in the 2009 Presidents Cup and then he also played in The Ryder Cup; whereas Nick, Nick is getting guys that he's picking but have never partnered up with anyone before.
So when we talk about advantages or disadvantages, I think Nick loves the way people play golf just like I do. So when I'm looking down the list‑‑ look, one of my all‑time favorite players is Rickie Fowler. I love the way Rickie plays. He's just not close enough for us to give him a thought, whereas Jordan Spieth is further down the list most of the year because he got zero points last year.
So he's a kid this year that's put on a great show for golf. You know, I don't think it takes a genius for me to sit here and tell you that Jay and I and Davis, we have two picks and we have four guys that we are looking at really, really hard and one of them was Webb Simpson who was in the Top‑10 for 23 hours and 59 seconds and a guy birdied the last two holes today to push him out; besides Steve Stricker playing so well. But how do you not pick that guy who has been in the Top‑10 for two straight years here and up until the very last second, he gets pushed out.
So none of this is easy, but we all have great players to choose from, and it will be a tough decision, but Jay and I and Davis will figure it out.
Q. Fred, would you care to expand upon the four names that you're looking at?
FRED COUPLES: Well, I think you just go right off the list, and it would be, you know, Webb who got bumped out, and then it would be the next guy is Dustin Johnson and the next guy would be Jim Furyk, and then Jordan Spieth, who is‑‑ I don't know if I'm going on a limb, probably has had as good or better a year than those guys.
I don't think Jordan's dominated any major events. Jim Furyk was in the last group and played well at the PGA, and Dustin was hurt a little bit, and obviously Webb Simpson is as good a player as you're going to get on the PGA TOUR.
So those were the four guys. It's pretty obvious.
LAURA NEAL: Fred, you had Jay answer your question and he ended our call.
FRED COUPLES: Awesome. Wake up, Jay.
JAY HAAS: (Chuckling).
LAURA NEAL: Nick, Fred and Jay, we appreciate your time late this evening and we also appreciate the media who joined us. Just a reminder, Fred and Nick will be making their two captain's picks apiece at two o'clock Eastern live on the Golf Channel on Wednesday, and then will join us for another discussion via satellite and teleconference.
Thanks again and we will talk to you in a couple days.
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