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October 18, 2000

Peter Thomson

Ken Venturi


Q. Could you take us through your strategy for working the pairs out, why you sent Elkington and Greg out first?

PETER THOMSON: I doubt there's a story there. They just like playing together. They played together in Melbourne and they were pretty effective. And they made it clear that they wanted to do that again.

Q. But the fact that you put them out first, is there some significance to that, are you trying to get that first match?

PETER THOMSON: I think from our side it's appropriate that Norman should be first off.

Q. Peter, can you talk about leaving Shikoku Maremma out after his performance at Milton?

PETER THOMSON: One of the tough things a captain has to do for these first four days is leave out two players. And that's a rather nasty thing, I don't enjoy doing that. But I have five very strong pairs that I've put up and he'll get his chance tomorrow, he'll play twice tomorrow or the next day, I'm not sure. But he plays from here on.

Q. On the live feed you looked genuinely pleased about the way the pairs turned out after it was over. Are you pleased about the way things matched up?

KEN VENTURI: I was very pleased. I think it's very compatible. I think you couldn't find a finer match up for the first day than what came out of there today. And I think both Peter and I are very happy with the outcome.

Q. Can you talk about the thinking behind the Cink/Triplett pairing?

KEN VENTURI: Well, I had a few things in mind. Just with the -- I left off Loren Roberts and Azinger, because they were my picks, because I took them off the first day, and let the ten who qualified be up there today. As Peter said, the hardest thing there for us to do is to leave off two players. I can't imagine having to leave off four. But leave off two -- but Triplett and Cink are compatible, they're rookies, they have something to prove within itself. It's just that -- a lot of this stuff doesn't really go on paper, it just comes out to be a gut feeling. It's just something that you feel. You can't explain why, but you just do it.

Q. Kenny, I notice that Tiger and Notah both play the Nike ball, Sutton and Furyk play a Strata, and Davis and David Duval play the new Titleist ball. How much did equipment factor into the way you paired these guys up, considering that only one ball will be in play tomorrow?

KEN VENTURI: I think there's a big factor. I think the golf ball that they're familiar with is -- there's been some articles written about that, I've talked with the players. They expressed a desire to play in the foursomes with someone that's compatible with the same equipment, rather than changing back and forth. They know what they can do. I think that plays a big factor in selecting the teams for the foursomes, that's for sure.

Q. Peter, what was your decision with the Weir/Goosen matchup, why did you like those as a pairing?

PETER THOMSON: Because they're both pretty good (laughter.) They won their own way into this contest by virtue of their ranking. And they're just about the best two that we've got. I think our team is pretty even from top to bottom, I believe.

Q. Ken, I wonder if you can tell us a little bit about how Tiger is playing after such a long layoff, and general impressions on how this course is setting up for your team, advantageously or otherwise?

KEN VENTURI: Well, I think this golf course leads for Tiger because of the dog legs and bunkering. The first hole is a perfect example. I watched him yesterday, he was practicing, and Paul and I went out there to follow him around and he made a very good statement in the press conference this morning is that this is coming in October rather than when we went down to Australia, it was the end of the year for us. It's the best weather down in Australia at that time. But they still have some things to do, they're coming off playing the competition and they're still on a high. It's not like they just took their shoes off and are relaxing, they are still competing. I don't think there's anyone on the whole list here that when they tee it up that they don't think they can win. If they didn't, they wouldn't be playing.

Q. I'd like to get a response from the captains as far as the chemistry on their teams, and are there any things you can do to help harbor that or further that team chemistry?

KEN VENTURI: I think it's easy. I think it has a lot to do with the captains. It has to do with the compatibility of the teams. A lot has been written about our team that they don't know. I've never seen -- we ride out on the bus, they're tightly knit. I've known them for a long time, but really known them for two years doing television. I see them on the practice range and the weekends when I watch them play. I look down and I couldn't pick a finer team. Sure, there are other players that have done well in the past. But I'm very pleased. I don't see anything with our team that is negative. It's all positive. And we've got some great cheerleaders on there, too, and as they said, again today that the rookies are just waiting to see what happens. They've never done it before. And they're going to follow. And the leaders will lead. And they'll lead them in the right direction.

Q. Peter, should the thing be tied at the end, have you given any thought to the name you'll put in the envelope for the playoff.


Q. Can you expand on that?

PETER THOMSON: No. (Laughter.)

Q. Peter, when the Americans discuss what happened in Melbourne a lot of them will talk about playing a long distance, playing in December close to the holidays, and almost as an afterthought mention that the International Team happened to play very well that week. Do you guys take any umbrage to that, is there any sense of proving that they can do it again on any soil?

PETER THOMSON: They probably do, but it goes over my head, because I've got an old head now. Most of them live here in the United States, and they've got the same distance to fly to Australia as the American team. And as for the weather, I remember there was some complaints about how hot it was in Melbourne. It gets pretty hot in Florida I recall and Texas and everywhere else. So that's basically I think the team's attitude to those comments. They had to do it the same as the U.S. team.

Q. Is there any sense it's sour grapes from the Americans?

PETER THOMSON: As I said, it's gone over my head. I don't even listen to that.

KEN VENTURI: Let me add to this with Peter, that when I did the television there, everybody thought I did a marvelous job. I have walked -- we have our own team, but I walked 36 holes with Greg Norman, Ernie Els and Elkington. And Elkington took us under their wing, and our players had never played Royal Melbourne. And come the first day of competition, an opposite wind. It's a golf course they'd never seen before. They were unfamiliar with the golf course, but they all know this. So as far as knowledge, there's no surprises here.

Q. Peter, rightly or wrongly, fans tend to look at a Tiger Woods match above all others. The fact that Vijay and Ernie are in the pairing against Tiger and Notah Begay, I wonder if you can address your feelings on how that played out and how you feel about having Ernie and Vijay playing in the first match against Tiger?

PETER THOMSON: Well, I'll tell you the truth of the matter, and Ken will probably tell you, too, I had my numbers down, at least my pairs in the sequence and logically Ken must have had his the same way. It just came out like that. It wasn't planned, but it's a nice thought to save your best for last or nearly last and that's, I think, why it happened.

Q. In terms of the actual competition of the matchup that you have the foursomes with the No. 1 and No. 2 player in the world?

PETER THOMSON: Well, that sounds impressive, doesn't it? Well, apart from being captain of this team and all that implies, I want to see this Presidents Cup succeed, and this is a great step for it, this helps a lot, frankly. And I hope in the succeeding rounds there's also some pretty good matchups that see Tiger under a bit of pressure.

Q. Ken, you haven't talked much about this being your last I'm going to say major project in your golf career. I hope that's accurate to say that. Would you talk about this event and what it means and also I thought that you were going to have your players wear black ribbons in honor of the American sailors. Is that going to happen? Could you talk about that?

KEN VENTURI: My career is winding down, and this is a great way to end it out. I've cut way back on television now. I'm only going to do six next year. I've done a few things that -- won a U.S. Open, Peter has won five British Opens. I think we still have the same thing in mind: the tradition of the game of golf. And I think the question about the ribbons will be answered tomorrow at the presentation, because -- I mean today, I'm sorry. Vernon Jordan will make the announcement, and then I'll confirm it. But it's something that is just another tradition being in this area, the capitol area, having won here in this area and the prestige of the members and the people here, as I will echo what Peter said, I think you're going to see a competition that will set a standard because of the friendship I have with many on the International Team, as Peter has on our team, we all have the same common goal and that is for the tradition and the -- keeping golf at the level that we were raised to it and keep it there.

Q. Why all the fuss about pre-European members of the Ryder Cup team two years ago not playing until Sunday morning. Do you see any scenario where we'll get to the singles on Sunday without all your players having played at least once?

PETER THOMSON: Well, the rules of our contest make that impossible. They've got to play. It's not a captain's choice, rather it's part of the rule.

Q. Kenny, talk a little bit about the pairing of Tiger and Notah beyond the similar equipment, but personalities, how they're alike, how you think they'll mesh together?

KEN VENTURI: How they'll mesh together is for us to see and you to see. They've gone to school together, they play the same equipment. They have requested to play together. Of course you can't put them with every match because Notah Begay will have to miss one match. My theory is the our two top qualifiers -- and they said they will be able to do it -- will play all the matches. They earned that right. And the other 8 will only miss one match. But they are very compatible. Notah spent the weekend down with Tiger, it's just a great friendship. And it's just sitting there for the waiting.

Q. I just wanted to follow up with Peter on what Kenny had said earlier about the manner in which this championship or event is conducted. Peter, how important is it to you that there is no animosity when all is said and done, that it doesn't spill over the way it seemed to at the Ryder Cup?

PETER THOMSON: Well, that's very important with me, because I was disgusted really with what happened at Boston. A personal friend of mine from Melbourne was there watching. He almost came to blow with people who were abusing the players, hissing and spitting and things like that. That's really upsetting in our game of golf. And I certainly don't want to hear of anything like that in this contest. I don't think it will happen, because I'm on record as saying that I think this particular thing started with the Ryder Cup match in Britain maybe 8 years ago or 8 contests ago, and really it's just retaliation, I think, that happens each time the match takes place. We don't have any history like that, and I don't think we ever will. There's no point in anybody hurling any abuse; it just won't happen with this contest, I'm sure. But that's my attitude to it, all right?

Q. I think Price has had six or seven different partners since The Presidents Cup began. Can you talk about why you settled on Franco with him? Is he a hard person to match, Nick?

PETER THOMSON: No. Nick Price is such a person that would play with anybody, although I don't mean that facetiously. He is so amenable. He could play with Vijay or Ernie or anybody else. It happens by process of elimination he's the best fellow we've got to go with Carlos, who is an amazing talent. You probably all agree. And Carlos needs somebody like Nick to be right at his elbow I think all the time, to get the best out of him. That's why it happened.

Q. Kenny, just going on from what Peter was saying. What is your view on how the Ryder Cup has in many ways degenerated. And why would that not occur in this event?

KEN VENTURI: Well, it won't occur in this event because we have already programmed what Peter has said. It was something that happened there that when they ran out on the green, they all regret running out there. They wish they didn't do that. But that's not the main point. It was the harassment from the gallery and everything like that. You're in a different place right here. You're in a traditional place, and I think from the speech we had, the dinner we had on Saturday night, the members and all that now and all of you know the feelings of Captain Thomson and myself, and our players know it and we have made it the point. It's not that we're beating them over the head. They know we're traditionalists. We have respect for the game of golf. I talked about how I judge a lot of my judgments, just I live and played golf for Gene Sarazen for 25 years and hear the stories, taught by Byron Nelson. Ben Hogan took me under his wing. They taught me -- that's my tradition, and I expect to carry it on. And I hope that from what we do here, that this will pass on. And I hope that we will be a competition that will be copied and a lot of people will speak about our teams and the respect that they had, both sides had, for the game. And that's our ultimate goal. And I'm not speaking for Peter, but I know he feels the same as I do.

Q. Ken, there was a fair amount of abuse heaped on Montgomerie at Congressional just a couple of years ago in the U.S. Open. Can you guarantee that this gallery, if the Americans fall behind five or six points going into the last day, without some kind of rally won't go over the edge like they did in Boston?

KEN VENTURI: Well, Montgomerie is not here. But as Peter said he was appalled by what happened -- I would be very surprised if anything like that happened here. You all now know, you've got a pretty good in sight into the way we feel. You can pass it on to the press and the people, and I think you'll see a very pleasant competition.

Q. Ken, earlier today the players were saying we as the media do not know about the things they talk about and about their attitude. You're there, could you talk with us about how interested they were in this event? And also continuing on what you just said, do you tell these young players your experiences with Mr. Nelson, Mr. Hogan, Mr. Sarazen, do you tell them stories, I guess, is the best question?

KEN VENTURI: I think they know that about that. I think with the difference in the television that I do, you know, we all -- we've got the most sophisticated audience there is in television. Golfers watch television, they know golf, there's a different language in golf, you can tell about how somebody talks if they know golf. I can say that's a dumb, rotten shot. The player knows it, and I know it. But if I say that's the one place he didn't want to hit it, he would love to have that shot over. But I treat each player on the fairway or out there on television is the way I would like him to treat me if I was out there. And I think that's the respect that tradition-wise that we all have. And I just feel that you're going to see it here. And that's -- I have nothing -- Weir saying the same thing. He talked about at the press conference with Jim Furyk, and he was just -- he felt that the press didn't know him. He's a very quiet person. But if you were together with and being in the -- with them as I have been, you will see a very -- 12 players that have a common goal -- 24 players that have a common goal, and two captains that have a common goal. But we'll get in there. I love competition. I mean, there's nothing like it. It wouldn't be fun if there wasn't competition. And Weir going to go at a full bore, and there's nothing like it. The bottom line is respect for the game of golf.

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