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September 10, 1996

Arnold Palmer

Peter Thomson


WES SEELEY: We have Peter Thomson and Arnold Palmer. And if you have any comments you'd like to begin with, your thoughts as you finally have your team together this week and you've got to spend some time with them.

PETER THOMSON: I prefer to be last to answer the question. I invite the question.

WES SEELEY: We'll turn it over to questions.

Q. Are the softening conditions out there beginning to be any kind of problem and with a reasonably wet-week forecast, any problems you see coming up?

PETER THOMSON: Well, we don't want it to rain, certainly. And I'm afraid it looks threatening; doesn't it, this new hurricane coming? That will be disaster. I think we want a nice, sunny, dry weekend.

Q. Arnold, how about the actual playing, is it starting to play long? Any problems for the guys at this point?

ARNOLD PALMER: No. The only problem I see, well, the rain or continuing rain would -- it would become unplayable, and that is a possibility. But the length for these people, I don't know anyone in this organization, either side, that has a serious problem with length. They're all long. And even though the golf course may play a little long and a little more difficult, it's not a problem.

Q. Did the two of you guys play in a matchplay event back in the early days of Picadilly matchplay, perhaps. And what's it like to be back and competing again with each other?

PETER THOMSON: Well, it certainly took place. And we had a hell of a game. And finished on the last green, which was the 36th green and one of the highlights of my life, I think, that day, it was a wonderful match.

ARNOLD PALMER: It was. Peter and I have been going after it for as long as we've been playing golf professionally, really. We started very early in our professional career in Australia, in the British Open, U.S. and the good news is that we've both enjoyed it.

Q. What's it like to be back competing again?

ARNOLD PALMER: I think we both welcome it. I think it's fun for us. I know it is for me, and I think it is for Peter. The fact that we're still competing and we still enjoy the game of golf as much as we do is great fun for us.

PETER THOMSON: I consider it a very high honor to be kept on this team, sort of a topping of a long career, but I appreciate this. It's a very big thing for me.

Q. Who won that match?

PETER THOMSON: I forget. Who won? There are a lot of things that our age you forget. Arnold won on the last green.

WES SEELEY: We are joined by the International Team's co-captain, Ian Baker-Finch, who will also answer a question, if one is sent his way.

Q. This is for both captains: What's it going to take for this event to get on the map? Will it take a -- for there to be a tight finish or a U.S. win?

PETER THOMSON: This map you refer to, I see as the world map, and I think it's imperative that this International Team shows itself to be at least the equivalent of the U.S. Team. These players have been excluded from the Ryder Cup since its inception and here's the big chance to demonstrate that there's a third team in the world which can take on the other two. I know the team looks at it that way. And they're very determined to prove a point in that regard.

Q. Peter, do you see maybe a three-year rotation coming up, where the Internationals would take on the Europeans in the third year?

PETER THOMSON: I doubt the Europeans want to know us. The fact is that when the few of us, that were doing well in the '50s and early '60s, offered our services to the British to try and strengthen their team, we were politely told to get lost. And although it's no longer a British team, I would think the attitude would be still the same.

In any case, it's time. There was a broadening of that particular contest, and if this International Team of ours shows itself to be of the same quality and talent, then I think it's inevitable that this contest will broaden to a three core contest. It would be something if you had three teams playing in one week for one Cup. That would be 36 of the very top players on earth, head-to-head.

Q. Arnold, what's your opinion, do you think --

ARNOLD PALMER: I think there are a lot of factors, and you heard Peter, and I certainly would not disagree with anything he said, but I think the coverage, the media coverage to all the countries of the world is going to be very important to the continued success of the Presidents Cup matches. I think it's wonderful. I would think that in the years to come, as the Presidents Cup matches are rotated, and hopefully they will be rotated throughout the world in the international scope of the matches, that it would be fantastic and I really think, that barring any unforeseen disasters, the kickoff year. This could be the year that will really get attention from around the world and with some of the top officials, meaning, political, being here, President Bush and Hawke from Australia and so on, I think that could be also a major factor in drawing attention to this. But I feel very strongly that the guys that are playing on the International Team certainly deserve an opportunity to be a part of a team that is competing. When you think about the British empire, as Peter says years ago, these guys could have all played on the Ryder Cup, actually, in the British empire, because they were a part of it. That's not the case so much anymore, even though it's still known a little bit that way. But they've been shut out; now they're back in. I think it's going to be fantastic. I'm really looking forward to it. And certainly I want to win, but I don't think that it would be a disaster if we lost. I would personally take it as a disaster, but it probably would be very good for golf. I just don't want that to happen.

Q. What it Nick Price's physical condition?

PETER THOMSON: Nick Price hasn't arrived yet. He's due this evening. He's become a father in the last 24 hours. That's an ordeal for anyone. But he's had a little health problem, as I understand, through the summer, with some allergy, infection in his sinus or some such. But he's determined to play. So I think he'll be there and pulling his weight. He's certainly one of our key players, one of our big guns.

Q. Greg has had problems with his back on and off. Has he indicated he's able to play 36 a day; what do you think?

PETER THOMSON: Yes. The answer to that is yes, and he doesn't seem to have any particular problems at this moment.

Q. Mr. Palmer, you've captained the Ryder Cup team. How is your role as a captain going to be for the players here? You've got the 12 best U.S. players playing for you. How do you handle the captaincy with that?

ARNOLD PALMER: I don't handle it much differently than I did the Ryder Cup. You try to keep the guys psyched up; try to keep their energy flowing and their desire to win flowing and I will do the same this week. I suppose that there is some mystique to pairing them properly, to how they'd like to be pared. So I will give them the opportunity to talk about who they'd like to play with - that sort of thing. But the major thing is to keep the emotion high, to keep them high. And there's a lot of practice. We're going through Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday practice which is probably more than they usually practice for any tournament unless it's an Open or something like that. So I don't want them to get practiced-out by Friday morning, and that's something I'm going to try to prevent.

Q. This is for Arnold. I heard that you expressed a little displeasure with David Duval for passing up Vancouver. Were you going to stick with that gameplan choosing 11 and 12 or did you ever consider choosing Tiger Woods?

ARNOLD PALMER: I did not. I think Tiger Woods would be a formidable player on this team, but from the beginning I said that unless something really happened to change my direction or opinion that I would probably go with the top 12 guys. As far as David is concerned, David, I've talked to him, and I was perfectly satisfied with what happened and I'm happy to have him on the team. He's a strong player.

Q. He finished second last week, and also talk about some of the younger players, Justin Leonard, who haven't had the Ryder Cup experience, are you concerned at all about the lack of team experience?

ARNOLD PALMER: Concerned? No. As I matter of fact, I watched them play yesterday; some of them today, and a few tomorrow and I'm very pleased with what's going on.

Q. In view of the David Graham controversy, do you have any comment about the future selection of the International Team Captain?

PETER THOMSON: You all heard that, I suppose? I'm not able to -- I'm not on the committee that decides these matters about captaincy. You'd have to ask Tim Finchem about the future of that particular position and role. I don't know, honestly.

Q. How do you feel about being here? Is it awkward at all, being kind of a last-minute captain?

PETER THOMSON: I feel honored and exhilarated to be involved in this. As I said in the beginning, this is one of the highlights of my long career and I'm feeling pretty proud at the moment because of the guys I've got to deal with and the opponents I have to deal with. This is a very wonderful occasion for me.

Q. Ian, what role do you see yourself playing on the team?

IAN BAKER-FINCH: I guess in American terms, I see myself as assistant coach, really. Not so much as to go out and tell them how to play, but be assistance to my captain, Peter, and assistance to the team. I know all the players well; have a good rapport with the players. They know me. They know what I'm like. They feel like they can ask me to do something, what are we going to do now, when is the bus leaving, there are lots of things I can help out with. I'm honored to be a part of it, as well, I must say. And it's great working with Peter. We've been friends for a long time, since I first started playing. He's always been a great influence to me and in my career, and I'll be doing everything I can to help the team and help spark them up and keep their electricity flowing throughout the whole week.

Q. I have a follow-up question for Ian. I know you have played the course a few times. Could you tell us if there is a hole or a group of holes or an area out there that you think will be very significant in the matches?

IAN BAKER-FINCH: I really think the course obviously is a great test of golf and it's a long course, a tough course. The greens are quite severe. But the par 3's, to me, are very, very difficult, tough to judge the club and very difficult if you get in the wrong side of the green. There will be a lot of 3-putting going on. And especially in foursome-play or team-play, I think putting is the more intricate part of the game, because you're tending to have a couple of eyes extra looking at the line and things like that, just seems to be a little more pressure on the putting green, and these greens are very difficult. So rather than say that one or two particular holes are going to mean the difference, I think it's the greens overall will be the tricky part of the whole thing.

Q. Mr. Palmer, Davis Love and Freddie Couples, obviously a great team, great pair, is that a team that you plan on keeping that way or are you going to split them up?

ARNOLD PALMER: Well, I don't know. I'm not making my announcements just yet on that. They are a great team, there's no question about that, I agree.

Q. For Mr. Palmer: Do you have any thoughts on where you would normally play long/short hitters together or short hitters, long hitters? Could you give us any idea on that?

ARNOLD PALMER: My feeling about that is that they're all long hitters. I was out there with them. And the other thing is if I have any thoughts about that sort of thing, long hitters, short hitters, my feelings on that would be the guys that played in the first Cup matches and the guys that have not played, I might favor some pairings of putting the younger guys, so to speak, or the guys that haven't had the experience of playing with someone that has. That's about as far as I'll go on that situation right there.

Q. Going back to the first time that you ever played, a team competition for the U.S., I don't know if it was the Ryder Cup or the Walker Cup. Do you remember that and were you really nervous?

ARNOLD PALMER: I do remember my first Ryder Cup. It was Lytham St. Anne's. My partner was Billy Casper and I was very nervous. I was thinking I'd remember when they played the National Anthem, I got choked and that told me something and I was anxious. I was like a bull coming out of a cage. I was young, ready (laughter.)

Q. What kind of words are you going to give to the younger players?

ARNOLD PALMER: If I can just give them that word, that would be good enough, just to get them fired up. I think that's part of my goal.

Q. For both the captains: Is there one or two players on each of your teams that you expect to be like natural leaders out there, that you're looking to inspire the other players?

PETER THOMSON: Well, I think in my team I have the dominant personality in golf at the moment. I don't think this would deny that. He's the natural leader, the playing leader and all the other players look up to him. He's a blond-headed fellow. I forget his name, what's his name?

ARNOLD PALMER: Peter Thomson. (Laughter.) I think certainly both teams, but Peter clearly has said, but I always look to the guys that have the most experience, Mark O'Meara is one, maybe the one on that note, but certainly I have a number of guys that are pretty good in that department, Love and Couples. And I have some young guys, and I really enjoy it when they tell me they're nervous, I like that. And I like to get them with the guys that will calm them down a little bit. But I have never minded a player on my team being a little nervous. I think that's pretty good.

Q. How is your birthday today?


Q. Are you enjoying it?

ARNOLD PALMER: I don't know. Tell me, how is it? It's great. If you have to have birthdays, it's a nice birthday. And it's nice to be here with Peter. As he said and as I will say, it's a great honor to be here today and help manage this situation and I really am rooting for the total success of these matches and the fact that my birthday happens to be here is a coincidence, but a nice one.

End of FastScripts....

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