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September 20, 2005
JAMES CRAMER: Ladies and gentlemen, I'd likes to welcome you to the sixth annual Presidents Cup. This is our first press conference for the week featuring our captains. From the United States Team in his third stint as Presidents Cup captain, Captain Jack Nicklaus, and then we also have in his second stint as International Team captain, Captain Gary player.
So gentlemen, why don't we begin the theme of this week has been unfinished business or settling the tie, there's been a lot of talk about what happened two years ago, maybe we could start off this press conference by talking about what we're looking forward to this week and why don't we begin with Captain Nicklaus.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, what are we looking forward to? Well, I'm sure we're looking forward to a match played in good spirit, played in the right way, and very similar to what was played in South Africa. Teams are not that much different. I think what we left in South Africa was something very special and something that I think that Gary and I both enjoyed participating in and being part of. This week I think if you look on paper, I think possibly the International Team looks stronger than the U.S. Team, but then I use the argument that we're playing on American soil, but all of the international players all live over here, too. So I don't know whether that holds any water.
But anyway, I think it's going to be a great match. I think all of the guys are very excited about it and looking forward to playing and I know that Gary and I are looking forward to being part of it.
JAMES CRAMER: Captain Player?
GARY PLAYER: Well, everything Jack said obviously. One of the drawbacks that we do face, we obviously have several hurdles to cross. Ernie Els getting ill and injured at a bad time, but we've obviously got to forget about that and now go on to the best of our ability. A subject that Jack brought up, playing on American soil, you know, I never really was ever concerned about that personally because the soil is the same here as it is back in South Africa or Australia. So I never really let that interfere, but it's a point that does affect certain people, but as Jack appropriately said, that all of our guys play on the Tour here, so really they are accustomed to everything.
Gallery wise, I think that obviously the Americans will be a little partial towards the American team winning, but our guys have got to get used to that because it's always maybe the other way around when you play in the respective home countries. But all galleries are very courteous.
So, we have new members, we have four new members on our team. How many guys do you have over there? Fred Couples, he's played before, hasn't he?
JACK NICKLAUS: He's played here but he didn't play last time obviously. Scott Verplank; let's see, who didn't play last time? Stewart Cink didn't play last time.
GARY PLAYER: Well, we've got four guys that have never played in the Presidents Cup before, which is also interesting and exciting for those young guys.
All in all, I think, you know, it doesn't matter whether you're Masters Champion teeing off this week or you haven't played well recently; it's what you do this week. It's a brand new week, and as we all know, golf is such a humbling game. You see, well just last week in the World Match Play, Retief Goosen wins it one day, he wins something like 11 & 10 and the next day he gets beat like 7 & 6. As we all know, golf is a puzzle without an answer.
So we all tee off on an equal footing, it doesn't matter what your record is or how you're playing or what you've done, it's a new week and this is what makes golf so exciting. As long as we have a great match, that's the important thing, and that all young people are getting the great audience; this tournament is growing in stature, and can see, well, this is the way to play the game. That's the important thing.
Q. Captain Nicklaus, first, if you would please, sir, you've obviously played in a lot of Ryder Cups. Many in our golf world would say that the Presidents Cup is actually a better event; one, you get to go to the White House every four years, and two, look at the captains that we have for the Presidents Cup. If you would first, Captain Nicklaus, and then Captain Player, tell me where why the Presidents Cup is better than the Ryder Cup?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, that's what you just said, not what I just said. I think both events are very good events. I don't think there's any question about that.
I've said numerous occasions, I think that the potential of the Presidents Cup to be greater than the Ryder Cup is there, simply because the scope is larger.
I think you've got a lot more people around the world, you look at the players that are in the event I think are probably more good players in the Presidents Cup as it relates to World Rankings than probably if you played the Ryder Cup. I don't know whether Gary and I are any part of that situation as far as elevating, as you say, that's what you were referring to, but thank you anyway.
But I think the Presidents Cup has become of age. I think the event in South Africa was one that I think moved it up a big notch. And I think it showed to the world that the game is a game and not a war. It's for international goodwill, it's for bragging rights, and when 24 players walk away all winners, I thought that was very special.
GARY PLAYER: Gee, I'd like to endorse what Jack said about, you know, I had a friend who came back from Vietnam and a very keen golfer. He said, you know, it really irritated me when I had to read about a "war on the shore." He said, I didn't look upon golf as such, particularly on allies; you play against your enemies. I must say it bugged me, too. The way the Ryder Cup had a tendency, a trend to be going, unfortunately after September 11th, the Ryder Cup came back to it's senses and the last one was played in the true spirit of the game, which Samuel Ryder wanted to see take place. But it was starting to be a bad example for young guys that you had to win at all costs.
So the Ryder Cup has come back to the correct position that it should be in. The Presidents Cup, as President Eisenhower once said to me, America is a global society and I think that everybody in the world should be thinking about it as a global society and the Presidents Cup is played in different parts of the world; not just America and Europe. It's going around the world gradually, and fostering the game of golf which we all love and want to see happen.
I'd be so bold as to say that even though and golf as you say, as I mentioned earlier, it chops and changes from week to week. But if you look at our team, if Ernie Els was in our team today, I think that we'd have a better team than the European Ryder Cup Team. Not to say that if we played them, we would beat them; I think we would. But it's a stronger team and so, therefore, it's going to create a lot of interest around the world and the number of viewers you get will increase substantially being a global event.
But they are both very, very important events in golf, and play a very, very strong part. But the Presidents Cup I think Jack hit the nail on the head, having been to South Africa, which as you know we were the polecats of the world for so many years, and today we are the blue eyed boy and a true democracy with the leadership of Nelson Mandela and Mr. Mbeki and having the event there which was in South Africa, with the stigma as a white elitist sport is now beginning to change, and we realize what it could do for tourism, what it could do for international relationships and to have President Bush, Senior there and Mandela there and a host of other dignitaries, it just was a far bigger thing than golf.
You will never ever have another event, in my opinion, and I appreciate what Jack's saying, and I've thought a lot about him saying that it was the most significant event that he had been to or participated in his life, and it was something way beyond golf, and you have to live in South Africa or live within South Africa to appreciate the significance of it.
So the Presidents Cup is a tournament with a message, and a good message.
Q. For both captains, I wonder if you could talk about what you see as your main duties this week as captains, and what do you like about the job and what don't you like about the job? And Jack, I know you've already said, handing out the chewing gum, but obviously more than that.
GARY PLAYER: Jack said he wanted me to start.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, you've had me start every one. You start one.
GARY PLAYER: Well, I think being captain for me is a great honor to be chosen. To get to know these young guys, we live in a world that is different now, we're on our Champions Tour and we're doing our golf design and all of the other things that we're doing, we live in a different world. To be able to get together with them and see how the game is progressing and to see how they are playing, what methods they are working on is very interesting for me. I think that we realize the importance of the event and we are delighted to be part of it. We realize that the great benefactor is always going to be charity in the respective countries. I think this is one of the great things about golf is that as a golf society, we're nearly at a billion dollars, which is more than the NFL or any other two sports put together. That's a very, very big thing to be part of that. It's just a great game to be part of and I think that's about it.
Then if you can set an example and you can have another captain who Jack is one of the best friends I've ever had and we're very compatible in our thinking, if I could only get a wife like that, I would be very happy. (Laughter).
JACK NICKLAUS: You've got a wife like that. (Laughter).
GARY PLAYER: Don't write that, please I'll need a driver. (Laughter.)
JACK NICKLAUS: You had a driver, packed in neglig√É¬©, put it in the bed one night (laughter).
Anyway, I agree with Gary, I think all of those remarks are absolutely correct. Is that what you're asking for? What else do we do?
Q. Specifically what do you see as your main role here this week?
JACK NICKLAUS: Our main role is guidance and I think that Gary and I have both been through a lot. These players have, too. We have been through a career, and I think that to have a group of young men that are representing their country, they sometimes say, you know, captain, how do you want us to handle this? And you know, I've got this issue here, what do you think we ought to do. You know, obviously we're making the pairings, obviously we're watching what's going on and we take care of the speeches and that kind of stuff.
But it's guidance. It's being, in many ways, being a role model I suppose to our players and help the players be a role model to whoever is watching the event and trying to make sure that the event is played in the proper way and played in the proper spirit, and making sure that we end up walking away from this benefitting the game of golf and benefitting international relations, rather than creating something that we don't want.
I think that's basically your role here.
GARY PLAYER: I think you would agree with me, Jack, it's not just this week, it's the meetings that you go to at the British Open and at the NEC Championship and you might have been different places with your team; the calls with Sid Wilson, my liaison, who has been absolutely unbelievable, the numerous calls and going over all of the intricacies of the tournament. It's not just a week; it's a year from the time we finish now, it's another two years before the next one is played, and they start working on that.
So there's so many things that happen as a captain behind the scenes, not just this week.
Q. There are certain format differences here, everybody plays, for instance, the first day and you don't sit anybody out and you can match up singles on Sunday. There are certain advantages I think that make this better. One more format change, would you guys like to see them try a scramble for one of the sessions? Some of the players think it would be a lot of fun. What do you think?
JACK NICKLAUS: No. (Laughing).
GARY PLAYER: No.
JACK NICKLAUS: No, I don't really think scramble is golf. I mean, it's fun to play, but I don't think it's really golf in the true sense. What we have seen in the past, historically foursomes are a game that is played, played far more overseas than is played here. Four ball is a game you play every day and individual is a game that you play every day, but scramble you only play in special events when you try to get everybody around and get them out of the way.
Q. Can you walk us through the last time, kind of how you made it up at the end to come to the solution that you did in South Africa? I think there were no rules governing the situation with the darkness.
JACK NICKLAUS: You want to handle that, Gary?
GARY PLAYER: Go ahead.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I think that both Gary and I, we felt that we had the captains' agreement last time, which probably in many ways, I don't think anybody ever anticipated that the captains would play that much of a role. The captains' agreement was basically written up for us and we said, fine, whatever the rules were. And the rules got down to the end to where it says that we were to select a player from each of our teams to have a playoff. Well, Gary and I, I think if we had talked about that situation prior to it, would probably have said, we really don't think that's the way a team event should end up. But that's what the rules were.
And so Gary had Ernie in the envelope and I had Tiger in the envelope and they played three holes, and neither one of us wanted to see the other fella lose, because we felt that all 12 players had played so hard and had such a great event that we'd like to see it stay that way.
I know Gary walked together basically those three holes and we were trying to figure out, how do we keep this thing the way we think it should be. Sure, Gary would like to have won and sure, I would have liked to have won but I think if either one of the fellas had won that, we would have felt really bad for the other team. Sure, we would have been happy or our team and happy to have won but we would have felt badly for the other team but the way it ended I don't think anybody felt badly about the situation.
When we had the opportunity, when Tiger had about, I don't know, a 15 , 16 foot putt and Ernie had about an eight foot putt, when both of them made their putts, that was the biggest relief because now it was basically dark and we could not play anymore. At that point in time we conferred with Tim Finchem and we both felt like a tie was the appropriate thing and not to bring back a playoff and it really ended the thing in the proper spirit. You know, Tim agreed with that and we all agreed to share the Cup. As a result the captains' agreement has been amended to include that provision in this event. So we will not have a playoff in this event. We will have a tie and share if we do the same thing. I guess that basically answers your question, doesn't it?
GARY PLAYER: It also would cause chaos trying to come back the next day. At that time of the year from South Africa, the planes are all fully booked and now to change all reservations, and you did have one of the most important holidays in America following that, so the guys might not even have got back for, you know, who knows, five days later and they certainly didn't want to sit around there.
And Jack said, it was getting dark and it was just I just thought, you know, for a match, particularly when Jack is following his team and I'm following my team and Jack's team are up and look like they are going to win and lose a hole they thought they were going to win and then Davis Love duffs the chip on 18; it was a miracle that it ended up a tie. I mean, really, you have to be there and say, well, how is this possible? But it did, and getting dark, everything just sort of jived, as they say, into place.
Q. It's been quite an emotional year for you this year, highs and lows and each end of it, and I've heard a number of players say how much they kind of want to win one for you, not only because of all that's happened in the majors and everything else, but how much does that mean to you as to that kind of enthusiasm from your players? A lot of players wanted to be on the team just to be able to do that.
JACK NICKLAUS: You know, when we started out in 2003, I thought that we might have some players that might balk at playing and going internationally at that time. I didn't have anybody. They were very good.
In '98 when I captained at Royal Melbourne, the guys told me afterwards, they said, you know, we were there, but we really didn't want to be there.
I think all of the guys wanted to be there in 2003 and I've found it even greater this year that the fellas have all come to me all year long and said, boy, I want to make the team, I want to be there, I want to play, and I think that's great. I mean, I think it's really helped the Presidents Cup. I think it's helped the morale of the team. I'm sure the International Team has been much the same way. I know I've talked to an awful lot of the guys, the international players, and they have all said, I want to make that team, I want to be there and I want to play. I think that's great when guys really want to be there and really want to play.
You know, I don't know whether they want to play, as you say, for me, but I think they want to play. I think they want to be part of the team. I'm enthused about that. Obviously, we'd love to win, I'm sure Gary's team would love to win but I don't think that's the important thing and I never have thought that's the important thing. But, you know, everybody if you can get a win, you're going to try and take it. You want it if you can.
But we want to just we want to play as hard as we can, we want them to enjoy the competition and we want them to develop a stronger bond and relationship between the players of the International Team and the U.S. Team and promote the game of golf around the world, this is what it's all about.
Q. How far are you on your pairing thoughts and specifically with Tiger?
JACK NICKLAUS: I think we are pretty well organized where we think we are going to be. What you do is you make a really nice plan for the first day and then you've got a really nice plan for the second day and then you panic the third that's basically what we all do scrambling to find out who has played well, who has not played well and you throw away all of the things you've thought about for the last six months and do something else. Who knows. Isn't that about right?
GARY PLAYER: That's exactly right. (Laughing).
Q. First off, do you know if Ernie Els is going to come here and what does that tell you about him and what he thinks about this event and how much are you going to miss him as a competitor for your team?
GARY PLAYER: We'll miss him very much as a competitor because after all, he's rated in the Top 3 players of the world. Vitally important for my team.
Secondly, I stopped in on my way over and had a cup of tea with Ernie at his home in London. And his leg, he's recovering very quickly but his doctors advised him not to come at this stage, so that he can recoup and get playing again because he's got some very important tournaments at the end of the year.
So the latest is he will not come. He would have loved to have been here, and I asked him to come on in an embassary capacity, sort of behind the scenes, best possible diplomatic way of getting him. But I understand, he's got to do it for his knee, he has to get it right. He said he's never been so bored; he's having to just sit in one place when he's been so active is driving him nuts. But he's recovering very well, but I know he'll be sitting in front of the TV watching every single shot.
JACK NICKLAUS: We're going to get him another tube. (Laughter). That one wasn't big enough, obviously.
Q. Have you had much chance to talk to David Toms yet this week and how is he doing?
JACK NICKLAUS: Talked with David. I told David last night, I said, David, you know, I think the choice is yours whether you want to play or not. Certainly not mine. It's your choice, you and your doctor. If you tell me that you're going to play, then I don't have an issue. I would think that if David decided after today that he couldn't play, he would certainly let me know tonight so that I have the ability to bring in a replacement, but I don't really see that happening.
David has had this condition for quite a while. He understands the condition. It's not a life threatening situation. It's whether he handles the new medication that he's handling. He thinks he can handle it. He was fine this morning and didn't seem to have an issue with him.
You know, I don't think there's much I can do about it one way or the other. I think that what has to happen is it has to come from David, and right now, David was telling me he's going to play and that's it.
JAMES CRAMER: Captain Nicklaus, Captain Player, thank you very much and good luck this week.
End of FastScripts.