August 20, 1997
LEE PATTERSON: Obviously we have Mr. Thompson with us who is going to entertain any questions who was just named as the Ambassador of Golf for 1997 and, as you all know, is the captain of the international team for The Presidents Cup.
PETER THOMSON: Last time we met was in Washington, wasn't it?
LEE PATTERSON: That is right.
Q. Have you ever played here before?
PETER THOMSON: Yes, I have. Probably before you started writing golf. 32 years back.
Q. What was it for?
PETER THOMSON: World Series. Before it became what it is today. It was a four-man team in those days.
Q. How did you do?
PETER THOMSON: I finished second last. ( Laughter) Top 3. No, I think Player won and Dave Marr was one of the other fellows who played. He was PGA Champion that year.
Q. Did you beat him?
PETER THOMSON: Yeah.
Q. President Cup play this year, if it were to be played this year, how would your team stack up against the American team, Ryder Cup team, do you think?
PETER THOMSON: Well, I think my team, our team is strong. Either one of those Ryder Cup teams, I think we proved that at Washington. There was just a whisker in it at the end and I thought we were a little unlucky because of the shots that really knocked us off. Had they been normal shots, I think it might have been a tie or perhaps it would have gone our way. But, that is my opinion. This year while we would have had a couple of different players, the list shows that a couple of different players, Parry, Craig Parry, for instance, was not in the top 10 as he was. So we might be stronger and I think next year when we play in Melbourne we will certainly be stronger.
Q. Is there going to be a huge advantage to most of the International guys knowing Royal Melbourne or are the Americans so professional they will be able to learn it quickly enough?
PETER THOMSON: There is no such thing as a home course advantage. The International team is -- there are four Australians certainly would be involved. But, the other players will be strangers to Royal Melbourne as will the U.S. team be. But, they are professional enough to know what to do about it in a couple of days. It is not a mystery course. In fact, it is very obvious. Got some subtleties, but it is not a difficult course.
Q. Can you talk about what winning this award means to you?
PETER THOMSON: I am flattered to be given this award, I am, truly. There must be more deserving people than me, but perhaps they are not available or something. They might be dead. (laughter). Anyway, just as well you catch me while I am still here.
Q. It is sort of a rare double, you get this now and then Memorial in the spring, the Ohio Grand Slam?
PETER THOMSON: They are coming thick and fast, don't they? I think everybody is getting in before it is too late. (laughter)
Q. Is it true they are going to alter the configuration of Royal Melbourne for the --
PETER THOMSON: Yes, it is true because this contest is a Match Play contest and statistics show that most games finish between the 15th and the 17th holes, so we are arranging the sequence of holes so that we get big grandstands. For instance, along the 16th hole, which will be -- what will be the 16th hole. It is to deal with the fact -- the rearrangement is due to the fact that matches in this contest finish prior to the 18th. We couldn't set up a great grandstand at the 18th and the people never see a shot fired. They would want their money back.
Q. So the 18th will be played as the 16th?
PETER THOMSON: No, it is rather complicated. I will have to send you a map of it. But, it is the same holes and they just play it in different sequence. That is what I mean.
Q. What will the 18th be?
PETER THOMSON: The 18th -- the 18th will be the 18th.
Q. It still --
PETER THOMSON: Yeah, but it wouldn't get a lot of business, will it? But the 12th on the west, since you know it will be the 16th hole, that is the one right outside the clubhouse and then the first hole will be the 17th. Anyways, as you know, it is a composite course, of the two courses. It is not, in its own right, a course. It is a mixture.
Q. Where do you rank that course? A lot of the lists, those world rankings have it No. 2 to Pine Valley, I think so.
PETER THOMSON: Well, I get rather angry with rankings. I disagree with all of them. I have never seen the ranking yet that corresponded yet to my ranking. So, I think you shouldn't take it too seriously where it is ranked. I'll leave it at that.
Q. Was it in your personal top 5, let us put it that way?
PETER THOMSON: It's certainly the top of Australia. It is the best course we have in Australia.
Q. How did you play in the Pro Am today?
PETER THOMSON: Well, I had 79 and I thought that was pretty good effort. This is about a par 83 for me. I kept waiting for a nice little driver and pitch hole, but there weren't any. There are a lot of two drivers and a pitch, one driver with a pitch. Anyway, it is a special course. But it is soft now and it an especially long. It will be more interesting really if the ball was bouncing a little bit.
Q. Do you play much anymore?
PETER THOMSON: No, I haven't played for a month before today, for one reason or another. Well, I play social golf, I don't play competitive golf, and I have just been travelling. I have been busy or the weather has been bad. I mean, in a Melbourne winter, the temperature's below about 60. I don't go out, or if the wind is too strong, things like that.
Q. When it gets cooler than your age?
PETER THOMSON: Yes, gets below my age, I don't go. Anyway, I'll play a bit later this month, not this month, but -- we are nearly finished. Next month. But I play irregularly. I sometimes play three or four times a week, then I don't play for several weeks.
Q. Are you a member of Royal Melbourne?
PETER THOMSON: Yes, I am.
Q. Any other courses --
PETER THOMSON: Yes.
Q. -- in Melbourne?
PETER THOMSON: Yes, several. Several. There is hardly one that I am not a member of. But, it is all honorary. I don't pay any dues. Very embarrassing. Anyway, we are looking forward to 1998. I'll be watching the result of the games next month in Spain - probing for weaknesses. But anyway, I think the U.S. team should win this time. The European team looks disorganized to me and really it is hard to imagine it without Faldo, isn't it? I don't know. He is in it yet or --
Q. Two weeks left.
PETER THOMSON: But, he is unqualified as yet, isn't he? I think they need him. However, I think the U.S. team is rejuvenateed and younger. You have got Leonard now who has nipped up to the top of the tree. So, I think the U.S. should win. And Spain, of course, is sort of neutral ground anyway. It is not like playing in Britain.
Q. Is the United States team that much tougher because they are playing Match Play every year as opposed to Europeans just once every two years?
PETER THOMSON: I don't understand that. What are they doing?
Q. They played the Presidents Cup last year and the Ryder Cup this year.
PETER THOMSON: Oh, yeah, right. That is a good point, isn't it, if they play it more often they should be better at it. Yeah, it is a good point. But we soften them up a bit. They are still a bit groggy. They have got a terrible shock that U.S. team. They may not be over that yet. No, as I said, I think the U.S. team should win.
Q. They should have won at Oak Hill?
PETER THOMSON: Yes, I gather so. Yeah.
Q. I know you don't want to help the Americans, but would you advise the players to play the Australia Open the week before at Royal Adelaide?
PETER THOMSON: Yes, I would. Well, no, I am not going to give any advice. What am I just saying? I think they should wait 'til the last minute and wait in Hawaii on the beach or something like that. I think that would be excellent preparation. Arrive the night before. That is plenty of time really. Well, it is going to be the biggest golf event Australia has ever had. The excitement and expectation is aroused already and the budget is in place and ticket sales will start 1st of October and it is anticipated that they will be gone by Christmas. 17,000 a day I think we are holding.
Q. In the Presidents Cup, unlike the Ryder Cup, you get a chance to pick who you guys play against on the Sunday. If they nominate Woods at the moment, who would you put up against him?
PETER THOMSON: No, I am not going to say that.
Q. Would you consider Greg?
PETER THOMSON: I'll consider everyone. There will be 12 considerations. Somebody has to go to the slaughter. I think Woods will make Royal Melbourne look very easy. It is a course like Augusta. In fact, it has the same architecture. So Woods should find it very much to his liking. He will be, I would think, very, very hard to beat.
Q. Bamboos behind the greens at Huntingdale?
PETER THOMSON: I think it was the trees at Huntingdale. Anyway Huntingdale is not in the same street as Royal Melbourne. No, he is a big -- Woods is a big worry at any course and particularly a course like August and Royal Melbourne is like Augusta.
LEE PATTERSON: Anything else?
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