November 18, 2003
GEORGE, SOUTH AFRICA
JAMES CRAMER: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to our first Captain's Press Conference for the 2003 President's Cup.
I'd like to introduce the International Team Captain, Gary Player, and the United States Team Captain, Jack Nicklaus.
I'd like to ask Mr. Player to open up with a comment about having seen the team practice for the first time earlier today.
GARY PLAYER: I think, you know, a thing that sort of comes to mind, Jack's team are all Americans. They all come from one country. My team come from all over the world. I think it's been remarkable. Obviously, one has to try to emphasize the team spirit, and it's been so easy. They are oozing with it. I'm really very, very excited. I thought it might be a little bit more difficult getting that to take place, but they are automatically doing it. They are a great bunch of guys. They have all been playing well lately, and so have the Americans been playing well.
As Jack and I continuously say, we want to really see this be a great example to millions of young people that are watching golf, how it should be played, in the true spirit. I'm delighted the way things are going.
And as far as South Africa is concerned, it's a big thing for me in the twilight of my career to be captaining the President's Cup and taking on a course that I have designed and particularly with an owner who has put up this kind of money, you've got to be very fortunate in golf to find these kind of sponsors in the economic climate of the world at the moment. For me to have my President Mbeki attending the President's Cup is very important, the same as Mr. Bush will be attending and the same as President Ford and other presidents and dignitaries have attended it. It's a good thing for the betterment of golf, in particular in my country where we are a young democracy, one of the youngest democracies and the truest democracies in the world today. We have made incredible strides in the great leadership we have from one of my five heroes of all time, Nelson Mandela who came into power after being in jail for 27 years; and through doing the right thing, went to jail for doing the right thing, not the wrong thing, and that's what makes it so more impressive to come out, have no revenge, no hatred and love everybody. As I have always said, love of is the most important word of our lives. Doesn't matter if you're president or pauper, soldier or sailor, and he's done this.
Now to have our President here and our Minister of Sport, because golf in the past is known as a white elitist sport in South Africa, and it's changed dramatically. We now have the Promotional and Development Fund for young black golfers and that's doing well. You're seeing a lot of young black golfers are coming to the fore now and they have formed caddie unions, which is really a good thing now in our country. It's progressing so well, and today in the corporations that are due here -- in the old days, you might have seen one black gentleman who was there, and now you are seeing 30 to 40 businessmen that are participating.
What our government has done which has been so essential and are busy doing right now, and very, very well indeed, and that's to form a good middle class. We have to have a good middle class in our country; otherwise it would be chaos. It's lovely to have our Minister of sport and President Mbeki, and then to have Nelson Mandela as a cherry on the top of everything to be present here, and to also be playing against my dear friend, Jack, who I admire. We see that it's going to be such a good match that's going to be taking place in South Africa on a course that I've designed is a very happy twilight of my career.
JAMES CRAMER: Captain Nicklaus, perhaps your impressions the first day here at the President's Cup.
JACK NICKLAUS: Do you want me to give you the same answer that Gary gave you? (Laughter.) Oh, Gary. I love you.
Actually, I really want to endorse Gary's remarks, seriously, though. I think that this match is a very important match for the game of golf and for the world of golf. And probably more than for the word of golf than it is probably for South Africa more importantly, from a tourism standpoint, from showing the world what's happened down here, the change of government and the change of things that have gone on, the importance of what sport means to the people here and the importance of what this event means and how it's being supported, how it's being handled and the spirit of which it's being played. It's very, very special.
I'm very proud to be captain of the American team, as I know Gary is very proud to be captaining the International Team.
To get back to your original question which was about golf, I played the golf course here about two years ago. I like the golf course very much. As many of you know, and Gary probably won't tell you about it, because I think he might be too modest about it, but I think they have taken an absolutely nothing piece of property here which was just an air field to start with, and I know that Phil Jacobs that works for Gary studied very hard the dunes of Scotland and England and tried to see how they went and how they matched and what happened to them. Spent a lot of time getting that feel on this piece of property.
I don't know how much dirt you moved here, Gary, but you moved a lot of dirt. Do you have any idea?
GARY PLAYER: Just more under a million.
JACK NICKLAUS: Just under a million yards. I think they did a very nice job. It's a very nice feel. The players mentioned they find this golf course is very similar to Royal St. George's in many ways. I think what they said about that is, you know, golf was never meant to be a fair game. Royal St. George's had some screwy bounces on it and different things and you had to play different things. And he says, you're going to get some funny bounces out here because it is a links-style golf course. I think that was what was freshest in our mind because that's the one we just got finished playing, but it could have been another links-style golf course, too. It reminded me of that.
There's an awful lot of holes out here that are long and strong, but the course is running fast and you can take advantage of it or not take advantage of it, depending on whether you have guts enough to hit it down a series of bunkers and do it; or you can carry it back and play a longer part of the fairway and play a longer shot into the green.
The fourth hole is a 482-yard par 4, our fellas hit it down 80, 90 yards from the green today because it was downwind. The fairways are running fast, but so are the greens. The greens are very firm and they resemble very much the seaside feel that Gary wanted on this golf course. Frankly, all of the guys have come in and said "I like the golf course very much." They enjoy it a lot. They know that every golf course is not made for everybody and they know that every golf course, particularly links-style course is going to have half a dozen shots that you're going to say, "I don't like that shot." Well, you don't have to like everything, but you've got to play it.
I don't think that you please everybody with every shot. And so there's some guys that are going to be -- some of the shots, they will say, gee, I really like that situation and another guy will say I don't like this situation and the other guy will say he likes that. But that's what makes the world go around. Frankly I think they all think it's a very good golf course, a very nice golf course and frankly a very fair golf course. And they all remarked they this thought as a match-play golf course of what we are playing; that it will give you the opportunity to take gamble, to challenge holes and not have to worry about putting the medal score on the board because you're playing match-play and you're trying to win golf holes.
I think it's a great venue, a great site. It's great to be in South Africa. We are we're going to have a great match. We have two great teams that both want to play well and want to do well. I know that when I see Tiger Woods showed up a day early, and Charles Howell, Chris DiMarco and Jay Haas, they all four were here a day before anybody was supposed to be here to play the golf course and get ready for it. You knew that they wanted to play well.
Q. Gary, I wonder if you could discuss the impact, not only of the President's Cup on South Africa, but the fact that two of the highest-ranked players on either team are men of color, alluding to what you said earlier about for years this being an elitist white man, what impact do you think that will have on the future here?
GARY PLAYER: Tremendously. Young kids sitting in sew way toe and villages in South Africa, most of them have got a TV set somehow or other. When they can see the No. 1 player and the No. 2 players in the world are both black, it's an awful big dream, it's a great dream that can be filled. They can sit back and say, gee, here is No. 1 and 2, they are both back; it's a dream that can be fulfilled. It's a very big thing for us.
We have been fortunate, in the past, we were starved. We went through a stage in the apartheid era where we could not participate and not travel to a lot of countries. This is a great sporting nation. We were the world's best rubgy players. And now, we've had the World Cup rubgy, which was, you see for somebody to another country to appreciate this, it as a white man's sport, we had springbok and our national emblem, standing there with a springbok jersey on and we had the black zulu singing a song called Shoshalosa, you feel it in your bones; and they are in the stadium and we had never had them in the stadium and that served its purpose.
Then we had the World Cup cricket and now we have the President's Cup here which will have a viewing audience of 800 million. And the purpose this will serve is tourism. Because our biggest problem in South Africa in my humble opinion is poverty because poverty helps crime and creates aids and it creates many other problems.
So if I can get, I see a measly four million people touring South Africa a year. And when you think of Orlando, 50 million, and Spain, which doesn't have anywhere near the infrastructure and the beauty that we have in this country, get 40 million. So, if we could get 20 million people a year would make a big dent in our poverty. That's my big dream for my country and that's to get 20 million tourists here a year. Many of you in this room, the perception you had here, you didn't know what you were going to see.
And I'm sure it must be quite a surprise when you go to the golf course that Jack designed yesterday, this beautiful golf course and these magnificent mountains and this coastline of 1,000 miles of what you have on 17 Mile Drive, we have 1,000 miles of that. (Laughter.)
It's not a case of boasting. It's a case of a fact and that nobody is aware of what we have in this country: The wineries, the great people, the great rainbow coalition of people that we have. They really get a terrible perception of it. This can really, thanks to the networks that are covering it and to your people, to explain to the people what a friendly and wonderful country it is.
Q. Not so long ago, as you mentioned we were the No. 1 rubgy team in the world and a great cricket team not so long ago, World Formula I motor racing champion, yourself and Bobby Locke winning multiple golf tournaments overseas. Today we have four golfers in the President's Cup. We've slipped a lot in other sports. We are not as great as we were, but in golf, four of the guys on the International Team, yourself as captain, that's a real feather in the cap. Would you tell us why you think South Africa slipped and why we do well in golf and what this event means to South Africa?
GARY PLAYER: As far as golf is concerned, we have always had good junior programs and we have always had an abundance in golf courses. In Johannesburg, we have 100 golf courses in basically a 60-mile radius and a great climate which allows to you play all year round.
For young South Africans to see that Bobby Locke could win four British Opens, and if I may quietly boast, they could see that Jack Nicklaus and I were the only two people to win a Grand Slam on the regular tour and a Grand Slam on the Senior Tour, it gave them encouragement to say, well, here is a little guy like Gary Player that can go over there and do it, I can do it. If you can see somebody do it, it really makes a big difference. But when you first try and do it, it's not that easy. They have been very encouraging and they have really celled. I think our golfers have done unbelievable. We have got a lot of young guys that are outstanding coming along. It's really very encouraging indeed. I cannot pass comment on why our rubgy -- laughter -- is not that good. Will you I above the way you said four South Africans, you when see Nicky Price when he plays well, he's a South Africa and when he doesn't play well, he's a Zimbabwean. I like to call him a South African.
I think it's fantastic we have five South Africans in the President's Cup. In time to come, I really believe that we will produce our own black Tiger Woods, and that would be fantastic because I want to tell you, we have got some wonderful young athletes in South Africa that are starting to play golf. It's fantastic.
Q. Jack, can you comment on the growth of this event, is it turning into what it was originally supposed to be?
JACK NICKLAUS: I think that's pretty difficult for me to comment. I know that the event that I captained in Australia was huge in Australia. It was very well received. It was a great competition. It was supported well by the home country, covered well around the world and this is even greater. In four years' time, five years' time, I guess, we lost a year this there, in five years time it seems to have had much more focus. We haven't have any anywhere near the television coverage five years ago that we have now. We certainly look at the event, we have 18 of the top 20 players, I believe if I'm not mistaken, in the world on both teams. Nine on each team if I'm not mistaken, could be wrong about that. That's what it was a few weeks ago.
The focus on this event is as strong as any top event that's played anywhere. Certainly the Ryder Cup has got a tremendous spot, and I frankly think that the President's Cup covers more of the world than the Ryder Cup. There's no reason in the world why it shouldn't have equal or strong billing. I think that in a very short time that the President's Cup has been going, it certainly has done very well and accomplished what the Tour is trying to do.
To be able to bring it to the southern hemisphere and be able to go to Australia and be able to go to South Africa and bring the best players, that's something. To have an event -- the Sun City event has been one that's brought a lot of the fellas down here but it didn't bring all of the fellas, never worldwide. It was a financial promotion to promote an area and done successfully. But never to the extent of what we are doing here.
I think the Tour should be very proud of what it's put together and how it is supported and how it's organized and how it's done. Frankly, in South Africa, if you look to South Africa, and I could be incorrect about this, but I don't think you're going to find a better facility for what we are doing than right here. Is that correct, Gary? I don't think there's anybody even close to it?
GARY PLAYER: I think Sun City would be close now.
JACK NICKLAUS: I think the beauty of this and coming down here in the Southern Cape, most of the people are coming into Cape Town and coming up in this direction and seeing the beautiful part of Africa that you just -- as Gary said, you have 1,000 miles of 17-mile drive. 17-mile drive isn't shabby. I promise you, South African coast isn't shabby. It's pretty neat. I've flown up in a helicopter up and down this property for ten years and I just see golf course after golf course after golf course, that could be done there. (Laughter.) Frankly, a lot of them will be done and are being done.
So some of the golf courses 50 year from now, I frankly think that some of the best seaside golf in the world will be right here. It's just like the Sandbelt in the Melbourne area, they have done a lot of wonderful golf courses in the Sandbelt in the Melbourne area. But, you know, here you've got -- you've really got virgin territory to be able to do some of the things you want to do. I suppose environmentally you have to make sure that what we are doing is the right thing to do, but you've got unbelievable land for it. Unbelievable.
Q. It's my perception that the Ryder Cup kind of took off in the last few years, when it became a terrific competition, the Americans did not automatically win every year. Will it take, I don't mean it so much this week, but will it take the Americans losing a couple of these events in a high-profile fashion for this --
JACK NICKLAUS: I hope we find out some other time. (Laughter.)
Q. But in the bigger picture?
JACK NICKLAUS: I think that so far, there's only been four competitions, and the four competitions have been -- three of them played on U.S. soils and U.S. has won those three and one has been played on foreign soil and has been won by the International Team. I would say that the International Team would be the favorite this week. I don't think there's any question about that coming into this event.
They are certainly for more accustomed to the type of conditions. Even though they are widespread from around the world, I think they are on paper probably a stronger team. Although I think the American team is quite good. I am certainly not trying to put down my team by any means. I have great confidence and we feel very confident that we are going to win, just as Gary feels very confident that his team will win. But that's what they should feel and that's what they want to feel. Our guys know they have a lot of rough slugging ahead of them to be able to get there.
I think that their attitude is far different than it was four years ago. They have come down four years ago, they won the President's Cup, I guess a couple of times, and you know they sort of thought, well, we'll just walk away with it. They got dusted pretty good. I certainly don't see that happening this time. I see this to be a dog fight right to the end.
GARY PLAYER: I don't think it has to prove itself; that America has to win to enhance the competition. But I think the world now knows how many wonderful players, if you look how many women are on the American tour successfully, how many international players are on the Champions Tour and the regular tour. I think America, particularly, I think the world now realizes that the game is truly an international sport.
As far as comparing the Ryder Cup and the President's Cup, I think this tournament, I think first of all, I think that if I may say so, I really believe we have a better team than the European Ryder Cup at this moment. I think this is going to lend itself to a great match. The Ryder Cup is something we all love and enjoy but this President's Cup serves more for humanitarian point of view around the world than the Ryder Cup does. The Ryder Cup is strictly between Europe and America, but this is going to go around and help a lot of people, needy people. And we all sit in this room and we are all in the one percent of the world, and the world needs help.
Q. Given that there's such high-ranking players on both these teams, do you envision the day that the winners of the International Team will take on the winners of the Ryder Cup for the President's Cup?
GARY PLAYER: I don't see it ever happening. I think that with the active program that young guys have today, I think that that is sufficient, to have a Ryder Cup and a President's Cup. I don't see, and I could be wrong, in my opinion, I don't see the winners, or including the two of them together somehow.
I think they will always be separate and I think that's sufficient for professional golf, with the obligations they have to fulfill in all corners of the globe.
And thank goodness for a Tiger Woods and an Ernie Els and a Vijay Singh and a Jack Nicklaus and a Lee Trevino and a Ben Hogan and a Sam Snead and an Arnold Palmer and these fellows that played international golf. Because it's through these guys that have done it that have enhanced the game. You can't just have the game big in America only. It's got to be big worldwide, and that in turn benefits every single tour around the world, whether it's ladies, the U.S. or our tour.
So I'm pleased these guys have not been insular in their thinking; and besides wanting to improve the game of golf, wanted to improve their education, which is the best education obtained is travel.
Q. Do the captains play a bigger role in the President's Cup than they do the Ryder Cup because of the way you match up the teams, you can play the matchup game?
JACK NICKLAUS: Probably a little great, yeah. I think so much that Gary and I do as far as matching up against each other is certainly a more fun way to do it rather than putting it on a piece of paper and let it fall where it falls. And I think that from that standpoint, yes.
But from the other standpoint of having 12 men on a team and only playing 8, leaving four players out, you have to be a little -- it's a little more difficult to pick the right eight. Whereas here, we are playing everybody the first day, two sit out in the morning and two sit out in the afternoon but everybody plays every day. So it's a little easier for us from that standpoint than it is for the Ryder Cup.
You know, I think the captain plays a big role in both. We have to make sure we have clean towels and fresh spikes and plenty of tees and sunscreen. We have to have those things ready for the guys. (Laughter.)
Q. No wonder they chose you?
GARY PLAYER: He's got enough grandchildren. Hell, he's got to win to break even.
JACK NICKLAUS: Both of us have to always.
Q. When you look at your pairings, what do you look at? Would you want to put for example two long hitters on the same side? And tactically, you watch the player from a distance, how much advice do you give to the players after the round, after the day's play and just tactically can you explain your role?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, from my standpoint, if I may go first, I think in the first round my players pretty well told me who they would like to play with. If they turn around and are successful in doing what they are doing, then they will get the chance to play together again. (Winking ).
So I'm not going to force one thing on somebody else. The second round, the second and third round are the round we have to make sure that the player that play are the ones we think will do the best in those conditions. Gary and I both have that same problem in trying to pair up likes or pair up opposites, however we want to do it, or fellas in foursomes who will play similar-type games that we feel will do well together and they won't have a conflict. I played with Dave Stockton, I remember in the Ryder Cup in St. Louis and we got beat 6&5. He couldn't play it out of the rough and I couldn't play a 2-iron out of the fairway. It just didn't work. (Laughter.)
You get to four-ball and then you've got to find out who is going to make a lot of birdies because that's a game of birdies. You have to feel -- that's sort of the way I look at it.
I think in the singles, Gary and I both have to figure out, do we want to come on strong to start with depending what the score is at the time; or do we want to see the match before it gets halfway done; or save our strength for last if it's all even come down the stretch. That's a lot of different things we have to do. I imagine Gary would think similar to that. Maybe not, but I would think so.
GARY PLAYER: Yeah, I agree with that. The thing is, tomorrow it's very interesting because Jack has the first choice and whether he makes me have it, he has the choice to defer me or he may make the first choice.
Say he makes the first choice and he puts Tiger and a strong opponent. I might say, well, gee, I have two guys that are real bulldogs and they are not as good as those two guys on paper, but I'm going to put them against them. And sometimes that works very well. Sometimes you put your best against the best; it doesn't work very well.
So you've got to do an awful lot of thinking. And then you get guys, strangely enough, you grow up at different times, and I mean with me, if I had a good golf ball, that was good enough for me. Now you have a guy who uses a Callaway Black ball and another uses a Titleist and this guy uses a Precept; and, well, I'm not sure I want to play with this guy, I don't like the Titleist, it's too hot.
Now it's another problem because he's used to using their ball. Me, it doesn't make any difference. Makes zero difference to me, but to some players, it does.
So there are a lot of complications that are involved in putting your team together, other than just saying, we'll put the best to the best and hope for the best. It doesn't work that way.
Q. Jack, going back to the pairing, do you remember at all putting a name in the envelope in case it ended in a tie in Australia?
JACK NICKLAUS: Did we put a name? Yeah, we put a name.
Q. Do you remember putting a name in and was there any part of you that hoped it -- well, it was blowout by then, but wonder if you could talk about the way that it possibly ends?
JACK NICKLAUS: I can't even remember who I put in. I don't have -- I wouldn't have the vaguest idea who I put in. You may know more than I know. I don't know.
Q. You didn't let me look.
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't remember. Gary will put a name in, too, just like I will.
Q. Do you like the way that the possible ending of these matches are different from the Ryder Cup where it would end in a draw, to just have one name you submit play it off for the whole marbles?
JACK NICKLAUS: I think that's an awful lot of pressure on one player to do that. However, that is the rules of how we're playing and that's what we do.
GARY PLAYER: It's tough because, as Jack says, that's a lot of pressure. But first of all, let me say that even though you might have seen a name and Jack submitted it, when you get to Jack's age, you'll also forget. (Laughter.)
GARY PLAYER: I think it's an awful lot of pressure on an individual. You know, just as Bernhard Langer missed that putt, you know you've seen some very cruel things. First of all, which we've said on occasion, if you win you're a great captain. If you lose, you're a bum.
What happened to Curtis Strange is one of the cruelest things I've seen in golf. McGinley holes the putt to win the Ryder Cup and Tiger Woods is coming down next, so to speak, and McGinley, if he doesn't to hole a 12-foot putt -- that's no gimmee with anybody. You're lucky if you hole that in three tries, never mind one; and he comes down, Tiger wins the match and he is a star. But they crucified the man. He never once put his hands on the club all week but they crucified him as a captain. It was so terribly, terribly unfair. I mean, I've seen what has happened when he lost the Ryder Cup and Trevino and Dave Stockton, if I'm correct in saying those are the three guys that is come to mind that lost the Ryder Cup. It's not the captain's fault. Guys have got to hit the shots.
What happens, the guys that play the best are going to win. Whatever team you put up, and golfers today, you can shoot 63, you're a champ; tomorrow, you shoot 73 you're a chump. You never know, there's no certainty. Whoever hits the shots well is going to win. Guys that play the best are going to win. We can have an active role, but it's up to them.
Q. They should do it like the UBS Cup then; if it ends in a tie, you guys should play each other.
GARY PLAYER: (Laughs).
Q. You're fans of golf as well, would you guys like to see 1 play 2, if it ever came?
GARY PLAYER: I would like to see the same as the Ryder Cup: If you tie it, you tie it. I'm in the horse business and when I see a Kentucky Derby, the biggest race in the world and worth a whole lot more than any golf event. They run and in a tie, they don't go back 200 yards and have a race-off. (Laughter.)
Q. No. 1 against No. 2, we're talking right now No. 1, No. 2, but as fans, wouldn't you like to see 1 play 2?
GARY PLAYER: Would love to see quite honestly --
JACK NICKLAUS: Who is that?
Q. Vijay and Tiger.
GARY PLAYER: I would like to see Ernie being a South African playing Tiger. That's what I'd like to see. I think that would, in this country, get people really stirred up. I'd like to see that happen and it might happen that would be absolutely fantastic.
JACK NICKLAUS: We'll have to see about that.
Q. He's baiting you, Jack.
JACK NICKLAUS: No, he's not. I don't think so. Frankly I think that Tiger would probably love to play Ernie and I think Ernie would probably love to play Tiger.
Q. But wouldn't both of those guys like to play with the pressure of a whole President's Cup, you say that's a lot of pressure?
JACK NICKLAUS: Remember what I said earlier, I think they both would like to be in the last match, and the match be halfway over, I don't think they would want that either.
Gary and I, we're captaining opposite teams, but we'll be in a little bit of cahoots trying to make the best theatre out of this, too.
GARY PLAYER: It's for the betterment of the match.
JACK NICKLAUS: The game is far more important than the outcome of the match.
GARY PLAYER: Particularly when you're a sponsor like those two. Man puts up $7 million and all of these facilities, you know, viewing audiences. And for you guys to make your stories, obviously if a match goes close it's a great for story for you. If it's over early, it's not a great story. It would be nice if it could be a real good match, and I really think it will be.
Q. Going back to the impact on the country, does it matter who wins in terms of the impact on South Africa of these matches?
GARY PLAYER: I think in South Africa at this stage in our history, this is far more than the result of the President's Cup. It's what the President's Cup can do for our country, that's what I feel at the moment. I think at this stage now, short-lived democracy, it can do so much. We'll get the world soccer and if we don't get the World Cup soccer, it will be just robbed. That will be the sport of our people and that's something that is fantastic.
But for our country and tourism, this is the greatest event that has ever taken place, and for me, it serves a greater purpose all around than just a golf tournament.
JAMES CRAMER: Captain Player, Captain Nicklaus, thank you very much.
End of FastScripts.