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October 6, 2015
Songdo IBD, Incheon City, Korea
CHRIS REIMER: Welcome to The Presidents Cup 2015. International Team Captain Nick Price, Vice Captain K.J. Choi, U.S. Team captain Jay Haas are joining us.
If we could, I'd like to start out with just introductory comments from Captain Price and we'll move to comments from Captain Haas.
NICK PRICE: Our team all arrived yesterday, so the rest of the team, there was four guys arrived yesterday, which was really good.
So we had our first team meeting last night. It's the first time that all 12 of the players and the captains have been in the same room at the same time, so it's always a big evening for us there. Just to get everybody to know everyone, and of course these guys have all played a lot of golf together over the years, so there weren't any introductions necessary. But we had a brief meeting, discussed a few things, made sure everyone was feeling okay and comfortable.
I think all of us were very impressed with the facility: The golf course, the hotel, the proximity of the golf course to the hotel, it's just going to be a very convenient week where there's not a lot of headache with traffic and commuting to and from the golf course. I think that's a huge positive.
And then also, just the warm welcome that we've received from all the Korean people, I think it's something that's very special. We all feel that this is going to be a wonderful week and we are going to do a lot of entertaining with some wonderful golf.
Everyone is keyed up, the team is ready to play. And apart from Charl, who had a little bit of a bug, some bug he may have picked up. He had a vitamin B12 shot this morning the doctor gave him, so hopefully he'll be okay. Other than that, everyone is raring to go.
JAY HAAS: Well, the US team all got here last night, or completed it last night with Matt Kuchar coming in yesterday afternoon. So all 12 are in house and enjoying South Korea, Incheon, Songdo city.
As Nick said, it's so pleasant to be ten minutes from the golf course with the hotel. And the golf course, the greens are immaculate. Superintendent should be commended on that. But the guys seem very loose. Very excited to be here, top to bottom.
Everyone is anxious for things to get started. They seem very energetic, so you know, it's fun to watch, fun to be a part of it. We're trying to figure out a few pairings here and there, but overall, the guys are just having a good time. It's fun to get everybody together and see them laugh and joke and things like that.
But also, they are serious on the golf course, trying to figure out pairings, shots, who should go in alternate-shot and things like that. But right now, just kind of trying to learn the golf course as much as possible.
CHRIS REIMER: Vice Captain Choi, I know this is a special week for you. If you could, some opening comments.
K.J. CHOI: Thank you. I am K.J. Choi, Vice Captain of the International Team. First of all, I would like to begin by welcoming the International Team and the US team to Korea.
As soon as I got here, I could feel that all of the Korean citizens' ears and eyes are on this Presidents Cup 2015. The course conditions are wonderful and also the support from the city government of Incheon, as well.
I have been living in the United States for the past 16 years, but I think of myself as a Korean citizen. I think I know both the golfers in Korea and also U.S. golfers, as well as international golfers, so I would like to take this opportunity to promise you that I will do my best in supporting the International Team.
This Presidents Cup is being held for the first time in Korea and actually for the first time in Asia. And I don't know who brought this good weather, but we will enjoy the weather and also we promise you that we will show the full sportsmanship as much as possible, and I hope that this Presidents Cup will be a great success.
It is somewhat unfortunate that not many Koreans don't know about The Presidents Cup even though it's a prestigious golf tournament, so there needs to be more promotional activity. So I would like to ask all of the journalists for your full support, and also, golf is now very important in history, not only for Korea but for the rest of the world, as well.
All of the captains and myself as vice captain of the International Team, we will do our utmost for a successful Presidents Cup, and I hope that everyone here will enjoy the good weather and the week.
CHRIS REIMER: Thank you. If you could, we'll take questions at this time.
Q. Could you talk a little bit about, how would you describe your captaining philosophy?
JAY HAAS: A lot of listening I think, listening to the players and talk about who possibly they would like to play with. Trying to keep them loose, joking with them a little bit. Certainly it's not my way or the high; I hope I haven't projected that.
Listening, certainly, to Fred, Davis and Jim and Steve, listening to some of the better players on the team and trying to formulate. Seems like that was a pretty successful formula in the way Freddie went about the last three times and when I've been involved with him.
So trying to gather as much information as possible, and you know, obviously everybody is not going to get their exact wish, and we've got a little different this year with two guys having to sit out on Thursday and Friday. Going to disappoint a couple guys in that regard. But I think through the course of the four days, the guys will realize that they are going to get in four, maybe some three, some five matches.
I guess my theory has been, certainly not a hard liner and it never has been that way.
Q. No pod system, or you don't have your own?
JAY HAAS: I guess we haven't limited to that in the sense of four guys just staying together for the entire week and all that stuff. But I do think we have some ideas and pairings and all that, trying to keep them in practice somewhat.
But I think we've got some, what you might call floaters, where they could go from group to group and kind of fit in easily. You could play sixsomes and sevensomes, and we could put everybody together that we might think about. But there might be -- from today's pairings, we might jockey a little bit tomorrow and just see who suits each other the best.
But I think in a sense, we have done -- Freddie's done the pods without it kind of being labeled that way.
Q. Do you have any recollection of you and Phil being captain's picks in 1994, and how much of it would you describe the pick this time for Phil as a captain's pick or a player's pick?
JAY HAAS: I don't have a lot of recollection. I didn't even realize that Phil was a pick back then until just a few weeks ago.
Q. Neither did he.
JAY HAAS: He had played 20 straight or whatever it was and thought he had earned his way on to every one. He was picked the first time but obviously deserved it. He was a wonderful player back then, I think he was 24 or 25.
I guess in the past, I have within a pick on a team, and I never felt -- once I got to the event, I never felt like I was less than. It was 12 players, no one looked at me or I didn't feel like they were looking at me like I didn't earn my way on to the team.
Phil has been great already in the team room. He's been Phil, and he asks, "What do you want me to do?"
And I said, "I want you to be you." I think that's one of the main reasons we picked him is to lift the players spirits, to keep them loose. Obviously you cannot replace his experience in this, so he's doing everything we've asked of him and he seems to be relishing that role.
Was there a second part? Did I kind of answer your question fully?
Q. Was he more of a captain's pick or a players' pick?
JAY HAAS: You know, I don't know if I can answer that. I would say that across the board, the players were all-in when we were texting them and talking to them. The captains, certainly, were all about Phil.
I guess the way I've been answering, why did you not pick such and such a player and this player and that, I don't think there were any negatives to any of the players that we passed over. I think Phil, the intangible that he brought to the team maybe put him over the top. You could say, well, his play didn't warrant being a consideration and all that. But I don't know that you can put a value on what he means to the players and the demeanor that he brings into the team room.
Q. How is your approach, your attitude, hatred of losing, however you want to describe it, how is it different now than it was in 2013?
NICK PRICE: I think we had a highly motivated team in 20134, and I think it one is, too. As a captain, there are certainly very limited things you can do. I can't tell these guys how to play golf. The only thing I can do motivate these guys and that's what we're trying to do, motivate them on the golf course, off the golf course, get them excited about playing.
Some of the veterans who have played in numerous Presidents Cups, they have had a tough time in the past I think, certainly at Muirfield, getting them motivated, because it's been a bit one-sided. So I think that's changed, or with the points changed now, I think the guys are looking forward to this a lot more than any of the previous two or three.
And then as Jay said, you start looking at the pairings, as to who you are going to pair with who, but it's different. We've got I think it's five new rookies on the team. We don't have as much experience on this team as we had the last one. Obviously losing Ernie was tough for us and certainly he was someone that we thought very hard about as a pick.
But I'm not going to change too much, I don't think from the last time, because I thought we had a really great recipe, and going into the week, the guys were really fired up about playing the last time.
Q. You just addressed the points, but can you go a little deeper; first of off, was there disappointment that they didn't meet you all the way, 28 points was what you wanted and do you feel like where they ended up meeting you was enough to make it competitive after you talked about after the last matches?
NICK PRICE: First off, it wasn't what I wanted; 28 points is what the team wanted. It's what all the players wanted. I think it's come to the stage now where all the other events and The Presidents Cup should be on an apples-to-apples basis. We seem to think looking at the past, that the most excitement there is in an event is when you have a 28-point format. I think the Solheim Cup showed that two weeks ago, again.
So that's something that I think the guys who are going to play -- certainly I'm out of it after this year, but the guys who will continue to play, I think will continue to push for that. But you know, that's something that we can debate ad infinitum. We can go on forever saying, what's the best thing.
Sorry, what's the second part of the question?
Q. Was there any disappointment?
NICK PRICE: A little bit. A little bit. But more than anything else were the restrictions, the restrictions having two guys to play a minimum of two team matches. That's always something else that's debatable.
You know, there's a lot more strategy I think involved when you have to sit guys out, and some people think that you're hiding your weakest players, but in actual fact what you're doing is putting your strongest team forward. It's glass half-full or glass half-empty, depends which way you look at it.
I think we've seen in the past that The Presidents Cup needs more excitement. It needs to be more -- it needs to be more closely contested. Certainly most of us on the International Team feel that that hasn't been the case the last five or six Presidents Cups.
Q. Why J.B. Holmes and what does he bring to the team?
JAY HAAS: I think ultimately being No. 12 on the list, it was hard to pass him up initially. And then certainly his last couple events, BMW finishing fourth I think and sixth at THE TOUR Championship, I think that pretty much answered any questions there.
And the second part?
Q. What does he bring to the whole atmosphere?
JAY HAAS: As Jim Furyk said, we've certainly gotten younger and longer, and this course looks good to his eye, I believe. J.B., obviously he's excited about being here in the first place. You know, he certainly has the length and length is never a bad thing on any golf course, but I think it pays good dividends here.
You know, again, young guy, energetic, ready to go. This time last week, he wasn't on the team, so he's excited.
Q. Could you talk about your decision to start off with the foursomes on Thursday? I think the players think that foursome might be the weaker, as opposed to fourball.
NICK PRICE: Yeah, last Presidents Cup, we started off with the foursome -- no, we started off with fourball, sorry.
We just thought that this would be a better way to start. I think in the past, we've sort of done well in better-ball, but I spoke to my captains, my co captains, and they all felt that foursome was the best way to go, and I did, too.
Q. We are pretty excited about having an Indian player for the first time in The Presidents Cup, and Anirban has been speaking fondly of how you approached him in Fiji last year. What did you see in him a year ago, 12, 14 months ago?
NICK PRICE: We did, we met in Fiji last year, and I went up to him, because he had been progressing up on the rankings in our team. He expressed to me he really wanted to play on The Presidents Cup, and that made me feel very proud. You want guys out here who are going to play. You want guys -- and so he's really looked forward to that.
And then I've seen him a little bit over the years, but I think it's a huge bonus or however you want to put it for us to have an Indian for the first time on our team. We know how big golf has become in India, and all of us hope that maybe one day The Presidents Cup will go to India. I mean, you guys have produced some really good golfers over the last ten or 12 years, and I think that it's just great that Anirban is on there.
He brings a great sense of humor to the team. A lot of guys didn't realize how funny he is but he has a really good sense of humor and he's just so keen to get out there and play. We're very happy he's on the team.
Q. Two questions for K.J. Choi. What was the reaction of the players to the golf course and the City of Songdo?
K.J. CHOI: Well, I have been receiving questions since last year from players about what kind of city Songdo is, what the design, what the golf course is like, what is the weather like in Korea and what is thank you in the Korean language. But I don't think my answers were enough because when we got here, the last person arrived here last night, and everybody said everything is better than expected. The hotel is good, the food is good, the course condition is very well and they feel very welcomed.
And that was one of the most important factors: That all the Korean people have shown such hospitality for all the players, and I'm sure that it resonates with the U.S. players, as well.
Q. Is there any activities prepared to introduce the players to the culture of Korea and this Presidents Cup?
K.J. CHOI: Yes, we do have something that is arranged for the families and players of the International Team, and it is to introduce them to authentic Korean food. We have reserved a spot at an authentic Korean restaurant and that restaurant is famous for the number of side dishes. We are going to have over seven or eight different side dishes.
So our plan is to mesmerize our players with the number of plates on their table. They will like the Korean food and they will have a good time.
Q. Two questions for Mr. Price. The first question is, as you said, you had a meeting with all 12 players last night, and I think that the International Team might have an advantage because you have Sangmoon Bae and K.J. Choi in your team, and they should know a little more about the course here than other players. So if they could share any information about the course conditions, how can that help you with strategizing how you're going to play this Presidents Cup.
NICK PRICE: Yes, that's certainly true. K.J. and certainly Moon, having won here twice in the last two years, they have got a lot of knowledge of the golf course.
However, I will say that most of these professionals these days, they learn things very quickly on a golf course. A couple of practice rounds -- and this golf course is a very, very good golf course. It's right there in front of you. There's no tricks. There's nothing hidden to it, but I'm sure that the players and the caddies, probably more so the caddies, will be talking to Moon's caddie about maybe the idiosyncracies and the little characteristics of the golf course that they may not have seen.
But it is really nice to have the opportunity to have them to call on.
Q. Do you have any strategy on how you're going to pair your players with the foursomes and fourballs?
NICK PRICE: Yes, I think when you pair your players together, there's two things you look at. First off, are they compatible as individuals. Take away the golf, take away everything else; do they get on as two individuals.
And the second thing is, you look at how their games match up together. Do you think that this guy playing with another guy with another guy, are they better at foursomes or would they be better at best-ball. So there's a lot of strategy involved in that.
And as Jay said, you talk to the guys, you find out who they may feel comfortable playing with, but in the end, K.J. and myself and my two co-captains, we are the ones that make the decisions as to who is going to play with who.
CHRIS REIMER: Vice Captain Choi, Captain Price, Captain Haas, thank you for your time and good luck this week.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports