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September 10, 1996

Mark Brooks

David Duval

Justin Leonard

Mark O'Meara

Arnold Palmer

Kenny Perry

Steve Stricker


WES SEELEY: We now have our first group from the American team, and just to identify we have, starting nearest me is Steve Stricker, and David Duval, Mark Brooks, Justin Leonard, Mark O'Meara, Kenny Perry and their captain. Why don't we turn it over to questions to start?

Q. I guess this is for everybody up there except Mark O'Meara. Nobody has ever been on a Ryder Cup Team or a Presidents Cup Team except Mark. What do you expect for your first team competition professionally, anyway? Is it going to be nerve-wracking?

STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, I think there's going to be some pressure involved, just because of what it's all about. You're playing for your country and you're playing on a team, something different than each week, so you don't want to let anybody down, for one. And it's all good experience, especially for us, a lot of younger players on the team, I think. But I think there will be some nerves that we'll have to handle a little bit come Friday.

DAVID DUVAL: I think, for sure, there being some nerves involved, but that's the nature of this competition, whether you've participated in one before or not. I think Mark will probably have some nerves, as well. It doesn't matter. I don't really know about Brooks or KP or Stricker, but Justin and I have played together on some teams, and granted, it's not professional, but it's at the level you're participating in golf at the time and it's nerve-wracking then, so we have a bit of experience with that stuff. But I think they might know a little bit more how to handle the situation having participated, but like I said, there's going to be some nerves all the way around.

MARK BROOKS: I guess I'll echo the same things. The better you play, the easier it is to handle the nerves, I know that will.

JUSTIN LEONARD: I thought I'd have a minute or so. Yes, nerves, excitement. I think I'll be a little anxious; especially Thursday, wanting Friday to get underway and just trying to enjoy myself and being part of a team and playing for our great captain.

KENNY PERRY: I say the same thing. What I like about the format the first two days, you've got a partner the first two days. You're not on your own. That kind of takes the pressure off, which makes it a little easier. We've all won up here, and we've been on Tour quite a few years, and I'm nervous on a regular tournament, even if it's not a Ryder-type setup. I'm looking forward to playing for Mr. Palmer here. We want to win this thing for him. That would be great.

MARK O'MEARA: Kenny, I think that, obviously, I've been fortunate to play on three teams in the Ryder Cup, but I've never played on the Presidents Cup Team. I think this is a wonderful honor. I think the guys up here right now and the rest of our teammates have had tremendous years, not only the PGA TOUR, but some winners of major championships - Tom Lehman's win at the British Open; Mark's win at the PGA. This is a strong team. These guys might not have, like you said, some of that Ryder Cup or past Presidents Cup experience, but each one of them is on their game and they're going to play very well. Like you said about the pressure, anytime you're playing a Championship to win, believe me, that's what we want to do, there's going to be some nerves there. But I think each one of these guys knows how to handle that. They've shown that on the PGA TOUR, and the rest of the tournaments. We're tremendously honored, not only to represent the U.S., but to have Arnold Palmer as the captain and play under Arnold's helm. If it wasn't for Arnold, a lot of this wouldn't be taking place. So we want to play hard not only for ourselves and the teammates and our team, but also for the Captain, Arnold Palmer.

Q. This is a long enough, difficult enough course, pressures and few run-ups out there, more rain in the forecast, gets softer, how do you think this would impact your games and the competition, if it stays like this?

MARK O'MEARA: These guys all hit it so good, it's not going to affect their game at all. I think by what I saw in the forecast, it's supposed to rain and cool off a little bit, which would be nice. The golf course is pretty long, but these guys all drive it so straight and they're such good iron-players. It's just going to boil down to composure. You're going to hit some bad shots out there. That's all part of golf. And I think if we putt well and play the way we can play, they're going to have a tough match on their side. But we have the utmost respect for the International side. We know they're hungry. They want to win. But if we play the way we can play, we should be able to hopefully get the job done.

Q. I guess for Justin and David, how is your matchplay record in, I guess, the Walker Cup and for everybody, when was the last time you've played in matchplay events?

DAVID DUVAL: My record in the Walker Cup was 2 and 1. The last matchplay event I played in might have been the Walker Cup - I don't know.

Q. Did you play the U.S. Amateur?

JUSTIN LEONARD: At the Diners Club matches where he smoked me.

DAVID DUVAL: We had partners there, too, so I had a strong partner. You play a few. You don't have the opportunity to play it very often, even in the amateur golf, tournaments aren't structured that way. It's kind of a nice play and a lot of fun to play that type of golf, when you do have the opportunity.

JUSTIN LEONARD: I was 3 and 0 at Walker Cup and played the Diner's Club, and I played Mr. Brooks in a match yesterday. So now I'm 4 and 0, yeah. Well, 4 and 1, David took care of that.

Q. Do you guys have particular preferences as to who you'd like to play with at this point and will you express that to the captain at some point coming in?

DAVID DUVAL: It hasn't really been talked about a whole lot at this point. But I think through yesterday and today's meeting and playing golf today I think everybody is starting to have some ideas of what they want to do and I'm sure it would be beneficial to all the guys on the team to express their views, who they feel they'd be most comfortable to play with. I'm sure Mr. Palmer would be receptive. That doesn't necessarily mean that's what is going to happen, but I'm sure he'd want our input, but maybe I'm wrong. We're with these guys every day, and so we kind of get an idea where your personalities gel, and if that's the way you want to go, we have a good idea that way.

WES SEELEY: Would you want their input?

ARNOLD PALMER: He wasn't paying attention at the meeting this morning - (laughter.) - when I announced that I would love to hear their feelings about playing and who they play with and I am open to that.

DAVID DUVAL: I'm not going to put words in his mouth. You kind of just smooth it in there.

MARK O'MEARA: I think the uniqueness about this team is the fact that because of the 12 guys that are on this team, all of us are pretty good friends. We've all competed with one another. We all know each other's games pretty well. And I don't think there would be a lot of difficulty with Arnold matching any one of us up together. I think we're all ready to go, and we'll welcome the challenge. And if we're not playing that well, we'd be honest and tell Arnold. It's not easy being in his shoes trying to figure out who goes with who, but I think with his experience and in coming out watching us play and listening to us, he'll put the strongest team out there.

Q. Just a follow-up. You guys are playing regularly with a lot of guys on the other team. Is there a lot of talk in the locker room as you go around and as this event became closer, is there any guys saying they're going to kick your rear-ends?

MARK O'MEARA: A little bit. Just a little bit. There's been a little bit of work in them, they definitely want to revenge the loss two years ago. Greg's going to be playing this year, and they've got a strong team on their side. Uniqueness of this event is the fact that it's a little bit different than the Ryder Cup in the aspect that we do play a lot of golf with these guys on the other side. We are friends, Vijay Singh, Craig Parry, a lot of these players on the International Team play the majority of their golf in the U.S. So, to me, I think that's what makes this event more unique and the aspect that we're playing against guys, that we compete against each other week in and week out. But on the other hand, this is a different team situation. (Birthday presentation to Arnold Palmer).

ARNOLD PALMER: Thank you very much. That's very nice. If I didn't have my handicap, I'd be playing on this team. I saw all these photographers coming in here and getting all lined up, I thought the International Team must be coming in. I didn't know it was a birthday cake. That's very nice and I can't think of a nicer occasion to have a birthday than today and with my team.

MARK O'MEARA: Make a wish and blow those out.

ARNOLD PALMER: I'm not going to tell you my wish. But if you can't guess it -- (laughter) . Thank you very much. And everyone is welcome to a piece of cake.

End of FastScripts....

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