November 19, 2003
GEORGE, SOUTH AFRICA
JAMES CRAMER: Thank you for coming out this afternoon. We have our other group of six international players: From Korea, K.J. Choi; from Australia, Stuart Appleby; also from Australia, Robert Allenby, Stephen Leaney, Peter Lonard and Adam Scott.
Robert, you've played in four Presidents Cups prior to this one, maybe you could get us started by speaking as to how you've seen the event grow over the years.
ROBERT ALLENBY: Well, I definitely have seen the event grow over the years. '94 four was the first one and I was there. I think it was sort of treading water. It was a bit of a test to see how it would go and how people would react to it. Obviously you've got the Ryder Cup that's been there for a number of years and has such great history and we've seen a lot of great matches over the years.
I think the Presidents Cup is an event that when we first started, people weren't sure whether it was going to take off and they weren't sure what was really going to happen. All these years later, nearly ten years later, I think this event has grown into something pretty special and it's starting to get its own history. You know, for the international players, we don't get to play Ryder Cup. So this is our Ryder Cup.
It's definitely a very, very special event. It's a unique event because of the type of format that we play because we don't get to play this sort of golf. The only time I ever get to play match-play is either the World Match-play or the World Golf Championships at La Costa. It's very unique to come together as a team, 12 players, captain and a co-captain. I know over the years that's probably the part that the International Team has always been the best at is we have all come together as a team.
I think we have all bonded very well over the years and no different this week. We've all come together and we're one hell of a team.
JAMES CRAMER: Thank you, Robert. We'll take questions now.
STEPHEN LEANEY: Was that your short answer?
ROBERT ALLENBY: That was my short answer.
Q. Will you be able to watch the World Cup Rubgy final before you go out on Saturday?
STUART APPLEBY: What time does it come on? 11:00, Saturday, here? What time we playing? Just play golf.
Q. Could I describe you as cultural refugees?
STUART APPLEBY: Yeah, you could.
ROBERT ALLENBY: I look like an Ethiopian. (Laughter.)
JAMES CRAMER: After having played the course a couple of days, just your impressions and your opinions. K.J.?
K.J. CHOI: The course is very difficult, especially the bunkers. To play around the bunker is very hard. It's smart not to be in the bunker. The greens are very hard and overall, playing good, short iron is very important and there's a lot of difficulties around the green. So you'd better have your A Game out, your A Short Game out there if you want a good performance.
STUART APPLEBY: Do you need an interpreter for us Aussies or not?
ROBERT ALLENBY: Only for you. (Laughter.)
STUART APPLEBY: I agree with what K.J. said. There is a lot of danger, obviously. The big concern is the sort of blind shots in the sense a lot of the fairway is missing you don't see all the fairway. I guess a lot of slopes going into, a linksy style course. So you have to watch the way the ball bounces or try and control that as much as you can. The green is very firm to stop on, even though they watered them a lot last night. If you miss the greens, you've got a lot of chip-and-runs, a lot of huge slope off the edge, six- and eight-foot rises on some of them with quite a bit a bunkering.
It's basically really a lot of work from the tee to the green. And the greens, some of them have quite a lot of slope on them. So it's quite a lot of work. There's no good strategy out there. There's a lot of thinking and thought process have to be built around the alternate-shot format about leaving a player with a shot that he wants.
But good test. You've really got to think it and play it well.
JAMES CRAMER: We have three Presidents Cup rookies on the end. Maybe we could ask Adam and Peter and Stephen their impressions, is it what they expected and what they are looking forward to over the next four days.
ADAM SCOTT: Yeah, it's pretty much everything I expected. Obviously I didn't really know what to expect, but this tournament has been building up over the past few years like Robert said. And I can definitely feel out on the course just playing these practice rounds, the South African crowd is definitely behind the whole team, especially the South Africans, but they are getting behind us all. I'm just looking forward to the team getting up there and putting in a good performance and hopefully we'll have something to cheer about.
PETER LONARD: As one of the oldest rookies, again, after last year, I thought I had gotten rid of that bit. It's nice to finally make a Presidents Cup team. I suppose I thought we would all be a bit nice to each other from the time we've got here, we've been taking the piss out of each other, but we're getting quite used that. We have got a lot of camaraderie going. It's been good. It's been a great experience so far and just want to get us started.
STEPHEN LEANEY: It's just nice to make the team. It's nice to have all these, Ernie, Goose, Vijay, Nick Price, all of the best players in the world. It's nice to have those guys as your teammates for a change rather than playing against them. But it's nice, too, at night, it's nice to just go out and have a few beers and have a good laugh. I think the team gets along pretty well and I think we should have a good week.
Q. Who among this team, I know you've got Gary, and Finchy as the assistant, but amongst the players, is there anyone that kind of emerges as the, I don't know if leader is the right word --
ROBERT ALLENBY: We are all one.
STUART APPLEBY: There's nobody standing out after those guys trying to run the team aspect of it, no.
Q. I don't mean that, but just somewhat of an emotional leader, if you will. I'm trying to get a sense of if it's Ernie being the host country or Retief, or Nick because of his age, or Vijay because of his play or do you get --
STUART APPLEBY: All of those guys are sort of in the same box of quality of a player. You mention those names, they are all the same. There's no stand-out, someone we go to. You go to any of those guys, really if you want to ask a question or get advice.
Q. Pretty much needed to skip this question; right?
STUART APPLEBY: Yeah, right you're wasting my time.
ROBERT ALLENBY: Do you have another one?
STUART APPLEBY: Next. (Laughter.)
Q. Last one of the year right there.
STUART APPLEBY: Good try. Good try.
Q. Do you get help from Ernie who has played here before?
STUART APPLEBY: We did yesterday. I played with Ernie yesterday, and Scotty and K.J. had a bit of a round. He helped us a bit, but it's such a course where you say something and it doesn't always get that visualization in your head about what the ball is going to do. So it really is a play-the-golf-course scenario. Some holes, you watch him hit a driver and maybe that wasn't even the right play and you may hit 3-wood. It is a play-the-course scenario. You really can't just look at it.
Q. There was a risk-reward golf, is that -- if you risk it, you can be rewarded?
STUART APPLEBY: Yeah, I think that's fair. I don't know if you can say that but I think that's a good test for this type of format. I think's that's a good type of setup to have.
Q. Practical question, when you play with K.J., do you have a translator?
STUART APPLEBY: Yeah, he speaks English, Korean and Australian. He's okay. (Laughter.)
ROBERT ALLENBY: Speaks Australian quite well.
STEPHEN LEANEY: "Nice shot, Mate," seems to work all the time.
Q. You were rated unlucky and you were obviously disappointed to not have been on the winning side in '98, does that give you a little extra itch going into this one?
ROBERT ALLENBY: Well, I guess I wasn't fit enough there. I wasn't playing well enough to be on that team. This is just the same as the last time I played. And every event, every match we're all out there trying to win. And for myself, personally there is nothing personal. It's a team and as long as -- if I didn't win a match and the team won, then that's what it's all about.
Obviously, I want to win every match whether I'm playing, whoever I'm playing with or by myself. We come as a team and it's not about myself.
Q. Just to the Australians, how alone do you really feel in South Africa?
STUART APPLEBY: We do this week because everyone is bearing for us to win the football. I hear "Good luck on Saturday." I'm like what about the Thursday, Friday and Sunday? "Good luck, Saturday." (Laughter.)
Q. You're in a unique situation, it's probably the only event in history that South Africans will actively support Australians, sports event?
STUART APPLEBY: It's one of those 100-year things. It's amazing.
Q. Adam or Peter, Stephen, the last time you played alternate-shot, did you do it much in the amateur days or no?
STEPHEN LEANEY: I did a lot in the Amateur, and last week I was playing with Stuart at the World Cup, which I think was handy just to sort of get back into that format, because it's different, especially four-ball is different. And I guess also in foursomes it just takes awhile, but you just have to sort it out with your partner which holes best suit you and which holes you're more comfortable on.
I think with my partner this week, I'm not going to say who he is, it's just nice that we have the course sorted out and we can go ahead and play.
PETER LONARD: I played one foursomes match in my life. (Laughs). So it's a bit like the World Match-play at the start of the year, I played one match-play game.
Q. How long ago was that, the foursome?
ROBERT ALLENBY: Yesterday. (Laughter.)
PETER LONARD: It would have been ten years ago. I played with an old club pro who had not picked up a set of sticks for about 14 months and put me on foursomes for a fair while.
Q. Adam, do you play a lot?
ADAM SCOTT: I played the last two World Cups so that would be the last times I played any foursomes.
Q. Did you play with Aaron one year?
ADAM SCOTT: Aaron in Japan.
ROBERT ALLENBY: He-dresses-badly.
ADAM SCOTT: You had to bring it up.
Q. Yesterday Tiger said one of his motivations was he didn't want to lose and have you chirping with Isleworth at him -?
STUART APPLEBY: Didn't have to what, sorry, at Isleworth?
Q. He said he didn't want to have you chirping at him.
STUART APPLEBY: Me, personally? I'll chirp at him, definitely.
Q. How much of that would go on with something like this among all you guys?
STUART APPLEBY: Well, we haven't said anything before the event. After the event, it depends on how the scenario panned out. There's a lot of -- you have to see how it all worked out. But all of us are very proud to be on the team and thankful we got in it through the good play that was performed. It all panned out. And I swear there will be a lot of stories to be told, some good and some bad. And I guess our job is to make a lot of good ones, and I know Tiger doesn't want to lose. We've seen how competitive he is. Obviously he doesn't want to lose. We don't want to lose. We don't have any other stories. Australians are pretty good at dishing it out and we're pretty good at taking. Hopefully I'll have that scenario. We'll see.
ROBERT ALLENBY: We're here to give, not to take.
Q. How much of a motivation is it for the team with the only time prior to this year the Presidents Cup has been staged outside of the U.S.?
ROBERT ALLENBY: Well, I guess we've been unfortunate that we haven't won in America because the matches have been very close over the tournaments that we have played over there. But obviously they won in '98 down in Australia, and I think being here, I think as a team, and the guys that did play that one, everyone's very confident that they can do exactly the same right here. We feel that we have -- everyone on the side has a lot of confidence going into this and I think that's a good thing.
And I think the Americans, they probably are a little bit wary that they did lose last time, away from the country and from their homeland. So I'm sure that in the back of their minds and I know that they know that we will play hard, and we'll definitely give it the best shot possible. There's a lot of confidence that we should have because the last time it was played, we did win.
Q. Did either of you two play in South Africa early in your career, come over to the tour here?
STUART APPLEBY: No. I played World Cup '96.
Q. Just curious, if you had any sense, people talk about what a huge deal this is going to mean to golf and particularly junior golf in South Africa, how big a deal of it in Melbourne?
STUART APPLEBY: It was huge. Probably this is similar, this is the South African version of Australia. It was huge for us to get it to Australia, and obviously being successful was awesome, playing one of the premiere courses in Australia full stop. I think this will be the same version the South African version.
Q. How was it huge in Australia -- beyond the galleries; we saw that.
STUART APPLEBY: Galleries, but the quality of players. In Australia we in previous years had drawn a lot of big-name players. We had World Cups, '88. McCumber and Crenshaw won the World Cup at Royal. And it's been tough for us to get big-name players in Australia to play tournaments. It's really a clashing time of the year, but obviously Presidents Cup is different.
ROBERT ALLENBY: More so the last ten years.
STUART APPLEBY: Very much so. So it's been very difficult to do that. So to get the quality of Australian players there and the best internationals and Europe, they are all one hit on our top two and three courses, and then go out and win, was huge. I mean, all of the Australian press knows how big it was. This is the same version, we would love the same scenario, to work out. Gary Player has been a huge driver of that, Ernie, with being the best South African and Goose and Pricey out of the modern day heroes of South Africa, southern Africa golf.
Q. Does it elevate the status of golf, is that what is it did, after?
STUART APPLEBY: Having this tournament here? It brings the attention to South Africa, which is not a bad thing at all, to bring the players for one weeks, drilling it out, having Gary Player behind it, obviously Jack Nicklaus, as well. It's a great event. The World Cup is played around the world and because there's a lot of the world here apart from the Australians and South Africans and K.J., we really need to move the Presidents Cup around the world for it to be a success; whereas, Ryder Cup can just jump back and forth across the pond. It really has to grow as an international sport.
Q. And given that Gary was saying yesterday that for years this was regarded as pretty much an elitist white sport, what impact might it have that a top player on each team is a man of color?
STUART APPLEBY: I think that's very significant. I think's that a very good point. It's a positive point. Gary mentioned to us yesterday about just that issue of getting black golfers involved in South Africa or southern Africa, make that part of their life, growing up as kids wanting to be like X, Y or Z, any of the top players. He's really making a conscious effort of that.
I think that's the ultimate for golf, for localized golf. I think that would be the best part of it, getting the young kids, disadvantaged kids, getting them involved in the game more and not have that tag in South Africa as an elitist white sport.
Q. It looks like there's a lot of signals that next time it goes outside the U.S., it might be Canada. Beyond that, do you think the Far East or anywhere in Asia should get the next Presidents Cup?
K.J. CHOI: It's not really important where it's played. I think the fact that there's a competition between the U.S. and the International Team is a big help to the golf. I think wherever it's held it should consider the fact that players have to travel, considering the convenience of challenge, it makes sense to hold it in a country where it's convenient for the players to travel.
Being my first Presidents Cup tournament, I think it's helped me a lot in looking at the broader picture of competitive golf and the fact that the Presidents Cup has affiliations with charities, that does a lot to promote the sport itself.
Q. To anyone who wants to talk about it, what's Gary Player like to work with? What's it like to work with a person of that kind of reputation?
ROBERT ALLENBY: You go. You're the oldest. (Speaking to Peter). (Laughter.)
ADAM SCOTT: Well, obviously, you know, I've known Gary Player for a couple years now. I know a lot about his career record in the game of golf and he's a legend of the game. You know, it definitely is an honor to be selected in his team and work underneath him. He's got a lot of good things to get across to us. Especially me, I'm only 23 and he's played out here for about three times as I've been alive. He's pulled me aside a couple of times and really, really helped me out and I appreciate that. But he's been very helpful to me, not just this week, but for the whole last year since I've had a chance to make the team. He's pushed me along and really helped me out with my golf game.
I think most guys, if they have anything to ask him, he'd be more than willing to tell them a story.
ROBERT ALLENBY: I think he's a great captain.
Peter Thomson was a great captain, as well. But Gary is the type of guy that you can just go up to him and you can just tell him anything and he's willing to help. He's willing to answer any questions that you have, and for a captain, it's nice to have a captain that you can go up to and just ask him anything. He's very supportive and he has a lot of knowledge of the game, and I think it's great, awful the young guys, younger guys go up to him and ask him, you know, his thoughts.
I think we're all, as I said before, we're bonding as a team, really quite well. We have a great captain and we have a fantastic co-captain as well.
Q. What was it like playing with Gary on the Tour, Pete?
ROBERT ALLENBY: He's not that old. (Laughter.)
Q. Can you give some idea of what Ian Baker-Finch does, we saw him a lot today and yesterday.
ROBERT ALLENBY: Finds the bananas (Laughter.)
Q. In the last two days, he seem to be working hard.
ROBERT ALLENBY: Finchy and Gary work very, very close together. Do you want me it answer this? (To Stuart).
They work they close together as far as picking who is playing with who, and Ian is doing a lot of the scouting and then going back to Gary. But they are working both as one and that's what needs to happen. You need a good co-captain that can scout around and find out things that the captain can't quite find.
STUART APPLEBY: Like where the bananas were put, which hotel.
STEPHEN LEANEY: I think it's good with Finch because obviously it's nice to have the five Australians on the team. But he's been in the U.S. for the last six, seven years as a commentator. So he's been seeing how the guys have been playing all year; whereas, Gary might not have the chance to see us all play this year, but Finchy certainly knows how we are all playing. And I guess it's nice to have him, being an Australian on the team, as well.
Q. Has Gary allowed you to choose your pairings, because Jack Nicklaus said yesterday it allowed the American players.
ROBERT ALLENBY: Absolutely.
STUART APPLEBY: It's been very open, very, very open for discussion; do you have any ideas about first of all who you would like. See if that guy is wanted by two other players or three other players and work out what's the alternate plan A, B, C, and D. So first of all, we're thrown into the pot: "I would like him, him and him," see the obvious pairings, where those work and water down from there and fine-tune it. I guess that's where we'll getting before we announce the team.
ROBERT ALLENBY: Whatever our team is, it will be that we want to play with that particular person.
STUART APPLEBY: I think we have a good match-up. I don't know about the American team.
ROBERT ALLENBY: We've matched ourselves real well and it's not as if that's the way it's going to be and that's it. We all have a say in it. We all have an input. We all work as a team, as I said before.
Q. You mentioned quite a bit throughout that you're here as one and it's a theme we also heard in Australia and RTJ and everywhere else. Playing under six different flags, the U.S. playing under one flag, why does it seem like that's an easier task for this collection of players than it does for the Americans?
STUART APPLEBY: Do you think it does?
Q. Observation over the last couple of months, it seems that way.
ROBERT ALLENBY: I think it's just our personalities.
STUART APPLEBY: I think if we were all really spread out more on other tours like geographically, it would be a lot harder. Obviously K.J. is from miles away, but he's on the U.S. tour full-time, so we are always bumping into him, playing with him, whatever. Obviously all of these guys are playing as well, and Stephen is spending a lot more times in the States next year.
You can look at a guy, we are from different countries, but we are all really sort of playing out of the same bag in the States. And Scotty has done a bit of pond-hopping, crossing back and forth. It's other countries, but still the biggest golf tour and strongest golf tour is still in the States.
Q. Is there something about where you came from, in terms of everyone having to travel at some point in your career, that allows for that cohesiveness to take place more than a group of Americans?
STUART APPLEBY: Well, I think if you were a cow you would stand in the greenest pastures. If you were a cow -- I'm from a farm, I should know about green pastures.
ROBERT ALLENBY: He knows a lot about cows, too. (Laughter.)
STUART APPLEBY: The Americans didn't have a real great, not a great motivation and reason to leave the States to play because, I mean, it's very strong, great tour to play. I guess that growth has really brought in a lot of internationals. Australians traditionally went to Europe. Rob was really one of first guys, the first guy here. And Pete, too, briefly to make that stint to Europe years ago and then step over to the States.
I never really had an attraction to go there because I didn't have relatives or really didn't feel that was my path. And now Scotty has done a bit of both, which is very mature at a young age, to take his time and select that. But we all end up in the States. That's where we all sort of want to play. It's the best competition.
So it's not so spread out geographically, really. On the first tee, you never know who you're going to play with, from what nationality.
JAMES CRAMER: Gentlemen, thank you very much and good luck tomorrow.
End of FastScripts.