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October 7, 2015
Songdo IBD, Incheon City, Korea
ALEX URBAN: Welcome everybody to the 2015 Presidents Cup Vice-Captain, Captains' Assistants press conference. Like to introduce from the Team USA Fred Couples, Jim Furyk, Davis Love III and Steve Stricker.
From the International Team, Tony Johnstone and Mark McNulty. We'll open straight up to questions.
Q. Can you talk about the emotions of this week? Obviously you're disappointed not being able to lay but why did you feel it was important to be here and what are your feelings so far?
JIM FURYK: Yeah, obviously I'm disappointed not to be able to compete. This week has two components, really. It's an honor for us to represent our country. It's the greatest to go out there and compete in an event like this, test your ability, under a lot of pressure on a big stage. I'm missing that part.
But the other component really is the camaraderie, the hanging out in the team room, the talking about pairing, just really having a good time with your boys and with the guys I've played so many of these events with.
I really feel fortunate and I'm happy that Jay wanted to have me here and gave me the opportunity and really if I were home this week, I would be miserable.
So the idea was kind of twofold. I wanted to come over and learn and really get some experience and understand what Jay and Fred and Davis have been doing and Strick got an opportunity last year, and really just help out any way I could.
Q. Just wanted to ask you, being the captain three times in this and now the assistant captain in this, what are your specific duties this week, and how excited are you about those duties?
FRED COUPLES: Well, I think the three times I was captain, Jay was my right-hand man and probably did 51 percent of the things except for the speeches. So I'm not writing any speeches for Jay for tonight or anything.
And Davis was on the crew at Ohio, and I must say, that I kept in touch with Jimmy -- this is not bouncing around through Jay. But for Jimmy to be here is incredible, he and his wife, to fly all this way. And he'll be a captain here very, very soon, so he knows the ropes and he's at every meeting.
And I think Jay has done a phenomenal job. It's pretty easy. We let these guys play, and when I was captain, I just try and do the same things that I've always done when I'm on the course or around my friends or other guys that I used to play practice rounds with. That's how I treat it. Jay's a little more serious, but that's his mentality.
But I must say, from the last three months, every conversation we've had, he's been right on the ball. He realizes how hard some decisions are. For instance, you know, when I did not pick Jim at Ohio, I didn't call him for two days, which was a weak effort on my part but it was kind of gut-wrenching, and those are decisions you have to make. And I think Jay is doing phenomenal, and we're helping him. He's sitting there and we are all doing our best to make the correct decisions.
Q. You never had to deal with what they are going to do now with cutting out some of the teams and not having to tell players they are going to sit for a day on Thursday and Friday. How much more difficult is that for a captain from when you were captain?
FRED COUPLES: I think it's obvious that it's hard. You're cutting out two guys that are very strong players and they are going to sit tomorrow and then it's just one of those things that you have to do. And I think the picks you make to make the team are difficult, but I think it's even harder to get guys to sit.
On Ryder Cup teams, when they tell you you're not going to play today -- you know, sometimes it's okay. If you're not playing that well, you don't want to be out there. But I think all of us feel like -- even the four of us, if Jim was healthy, I think all four of us could probably go out there and feel like we could play, and every golfer who ever plays -- I'm sure Mark and Tony on the other side of the table have the same touch decisions.
But everyone wants to play golf and it's just one of those things where Jay is still deliberating what to do. We have a couple more hours to figure it out.
Q. We spoke briefly yesterday about the importance of the points changes and what this means. Can you just talk about the vibe inside the team room, because of the points changes, and maybe the international side feels like they have a better chance this time around?
MARK McNULTY: Yeah, we definitely feel that we have a very strong team this year. Obviously Jason's play is not the only factor involved here. But the vibe of the side is terrific. We have a nice balance. Thongchai is 45 and he's by far the eldest; the average team age is 30, which is I think the youngest it's been. It's nice to have the young vibe. Watching the guys at dinner last night at a Korean barbeque was great fun. There was a lot of laughter, and I think that vibe is important.
I've been part of The Presidents Cup playing-wise a couple of times and also as assistant captain last time. It's tough when you get beaten badly by obviously -- traditionally what has been a better side, no doubt about it. But you know, Jay was asked a question last week or the week before at Pebble about how you keep your players loose and cool.
And it was an interesting question; that Jay came back with an answer to say that people like to be with Fred because he's cool. He doesn't wear an earpiece, never; he doesn't know what's going on because Fred's cool (laughter). That vibe is something which -- Freddie, are you there?
FRED COUPLES: (Appearing to be startled to attention).
MARK McNULTY: You see what I mean by cool (laughter). That's the vibe that we want to instill. Certainly we had it at Jack's course, but obviously they just played fantastically well, and obviously we want to have that vibe on our side, and obviously both teams definitely want to win and it's going to be very tough, I'm sure of that.
Q. For Davis or Strick, just to keep you from falling asleep over there, Jay made the point yesterday that there's been a lot of talk about The Presidents Cup, grooming players going forward and that this is not some kind of minor league system. How do you keep -- with so much of you guys up here and building continuity for The Ryder Cup going forward, to keep this its own competition, its own importance and not look at it as training ground for The Ryder Cup?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, no, I think as assistant captains, we look at it as maybe training for us for down the road to be Presidents Cup captain or learning the ropes so we can help out. I think all four of us, Fred's obviously been captain three times but all four of us just want to help this team win this competition.
And then for down the road, we want to gain experience so we can help future teams. We want to grow The Presidents Cup like The Ryder Cup has grown. Obviously it's a lot of years behind and its still in its infancy compared to The Ryder Cup, so it will continue to grow.
But I think we want the rookies, or the guys that have only played one or two -- we've got a lot of guys out there that have five, six, seven, eight, 11 Cups on their bag this week and the guys that have one or two, we want them to be ready to play -- we have to play every year in one of these.
So we're kind of building from year-to-year gaining experience, learning how to build a team. As Mark said, learning what makes our guys relax and play better, and we need to carry that from year-to-year no matter whether it's the Presidents Cup or The Ryder Cup, keep that momentum going.
Q. For Mr. Johnstone, so the foursome matches will start The Presidents Cup 2015 tomorrow. So we are just wondering if the pairings have been already decided, and if the two players have been practicing together.
TONY JOHNSTONE: Do you really think I'm going to share that with you? (Laughter).
Nick Price, our captain, he's got a game plan and we've got a game plan we've been working on for months now. So obviously we've been through all the permutations. It comes down to last-minute form, there's no doubt. But basically, we've got a plan and we're going to stick to it and we think it's a good one.
Q. A question about Sangmoon Bae. He's said his head wasn't in the right place because of the military service thing but he's a home-based player and he knows this course. Would you describe him as a high risk, high reward pick?
MARK McNULTY: Not at all. Getting back to the military service, Nick and I both had to do military service, so we understood the complexities of what he was going through. When you're 29 years old and you are in a situation where you've got a career and at the same time you know you have to go into military for two years, what do you do.
So yes, we all knew that. But I think once Sangmoon was told by Nick that, you know, if you play well, you're going to be on the side and we hope you're going to be on the side; you saw it, his game sort of just got a little bit better. We are obviously delighted for him. He's totally happy with being back home in Korea and he's really fired up to play and he's looking forward to it very much.
Q. Would you guys share a story or two about what makes Nick Price a good leader and also perhaps a story or something that Nick has said that describes just how badly he wants to win this time?
MARK McNULTY: I'll defer that to Tony, because he'll obviously come up with something hilarious, too.
TONY JOHNSTONE: It's obviously a tough question. He's deferred it to me.
I think Nick is unbelievably passionate about The Presidents Cup. Always has been from the very first one. He's a tremendous captain and anybody who knows Nick knows that he's just a really, really good man. He's a great man, Nick. We've known each other, the three of us, since we were 11 or 12 years old. I'm very happy to say that I'm not the oldest one of the three.
I think he's got a great sense of humor. There aren't any better storytellers than Nick. He manages to get the team united. He manages to keep us all laughing. But at the same time, he takes this extremely seriously. Hence, his big fight to try and get the points system changed.
You know, he just feels that if we get closer to The Ryder Cup points system, it will be better for the long term and the longevity of this event, because it needs to be more of a competition.
Let's be honest, it's 9-1-1 at the moment, and it has not been a great contest. I think the public perception of The Presidents Cup will just be better if it is a better contest.
Funny stories, there's just so many funny stories about Nick. He's fearless. We were telling a few last night but I'd need a couple of days to go through those with you (laughing).
Q. Any of you guys can answer; how did you feel about the points change, and the point of contention for Nick to do this, his players wanted that. How did you guys see it from your side?
JIM FURYK: I think we should probably tag a team answer. Jay and Nick spoke about it for years. I don't think it was an agreement between the captains, but it not something our team has really -- I don't think we've talked about it once or I haven't heard a conversation about it. The points are what they are. It's something that we're focused on working within the parameters we have right now.
That's past us. We're trying to figure out, you know, our best options for the week and how to put together our team.
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, our only talk about it, really, is what the question earlier, like Fred said. We've just got to figure out who to sit out. I think that's the only difference.
Fred told me when I came in and helped in 2013, he said, it's great on Thursday because I don't have to sit anybody out. I just put all my good pairings out there and we go play. So that's the only I think really change for us is having to sit out a really good team.
But we're excited about going and playing. We'll play the format they gave us, and our team is excited to play and really, like Jim said, they are not talking about points. We're just talking about going out and playing and having fun and getting it going.
ALEX URBAN: Steve, you're a five-time player in this event, compiled a 14-10-0 record in your career. Just overall thoughts on your contribution to the team this week.
STEVE STRICKER: Just like these other three guys up here, it's an honor and a privilege to be a part of the team. Obviously if you can't be playing in it, this would be the next best choice to be here, to be with the guys, with the wives, to be part of this group is always a special week in our lives.
I've been on a few of these on the playing side of it, and when you're on this end of it as a captain and assistant captain, you know, it's different. It's a lot different. It puts you in a place where you want to play again, work on your game. But like I said, ultimately it's great to be here this week, and just to be a part of it is an honor. And to be with these other three guys and Jay has been a lot of fun so far and look forward to start the week.
Q. You just mentioned that you and also Mr. Price served in the military compulsory in your countries. So how hard was it personally to recover from the military service, because during that period of time, you could not play. How hard was it after the service?
MARK McNULTY: Well, fortunately for both of us, playing golf was a great asset for us. So I can remember quite clearly that the very first day I went into the Army, I arrived without my golf clubs and there was a very, very strong ex-special air services man from the British Armed Forces. He shouted my name out and I had to run fast to get there.
And the first question I was asked was why haven't I got my golf clubs. So I knew then that I was going to have a pretty good time in the Army (laughter). I had certainly had to do three months basic training, but after doing that, I was kept back and I played with the generals and all that jazz. So I had a good time. (Laughter).
I was lucky enough towards the end of my service that I was able to get out early. So I'm not saying anything what's going to happen to Sangmoon, but one hopes that he's honored in a way, because he is a Korean National and has played well in world sport, especially in golf, and they respect that. I think that would be fantastic for him if he gets the respect. I think it's great that he's come back to do it, and we wish him luck.
Q. I was just curious, is this your first trip to the Far East?
STEVE STRICKER: It is. Well, I went to Japan in college. I played on the collegiate team, the USA-Japanese Friendship Matches back in '87 or '88. So it's been a while.
Q. What are your recollections of that trip and what have you thought so far of Korea?
STEVE STRICKER: The recollection of that trip was that everybody was getting sick by the end of the week. (Laughter).
No, it was a great trip. We had a lot of fun. David Toms was a roommate of mine for that trip, so that's pretty cool. And then this week, we had a Korean barbeque last night that was pretty interesting. It was good, some parts of it. Some parts I didn't even try. But it's neat to see the culture here and people here. It's a beautiful area, and it's neat to be here.
ALEX URBAN: We'd like to thank all the captains assistants for their time.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports