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November 20, 2003

Ian Baker-Finch

Jack Nicklaus

Gary Player

Jeff Sluman


JAMES CRAMER: We are here for our pairings press conference regarding tomorrow's matches. I'd like to introduce our Captains and Captain's Assistants. With us from the United States, Captain Jack Nicklaus his assistant, Jeff Sluman. And from the International Team, Captain Gary Player and his assistant, Ian Baker Finch.

Captain Nicklaus, why don't you get us started with a comment about the pairings that we just saw on there.

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know what you want to talk about as far as comments about them. I think they are all good pairings, they are all good players and I have some very -- I see some very good matches and some ones that I think that produced a lot of interest, particularly -- probably particularly the last one since Tiger and Ernie are in the last group. I think that's going to be a great match for the public here.

JAMES CRAMER: Captain Player, you picked first, can you give us your impressions of how the pairings process went?

GARY PLAYER: Well, I think a fact that one has to take into consideration, that you have to not play two in the morning and not play two in the afternoon. So therefore, we changed our teams considerably. Our strategy, both Ian and I have a strategy that it's obviously common sense, foursomes are a completely different game to better-ball. So we tried to put the guys together that we felt would do better in better-ball. So we made a complete change of our teams. That was our feeling; now, who is to say is what.

Q. In terms of today's play, how much did that influence the first-up pairings, tomorrow, did you have a pretty good idea of what they would be yesterday, for instance?

GARY PLAYER: Well, Ian and I were doing the pairings because we knew -- they had requested that they do this in 30 minutes rather than an hour. So we started to right on the golf course. We made, we prepared what we thought would be our teams for today. I don't think the result of today's play had any bearing whatsoever on the choice of our team.

Q. You're a little better shape than you were after the first session in Melbourne, but for a while there it looked like you guys could take a big lead.

JACK NICKLAUS: We had a good shot at being 5-1 here today. We ended up 3 1/2 - 2 1/2.

That's disappointing, obviously, but that's also very good play on the part of Gary's team coming down the stretch, we had three matches, I know Adam Scott holed a putt, probably, I don't know, 12, 14 feet, I suppose on 16. If he misses that putt and Jim Furyk makes it, the match is over at 3&2. And Jim missed his putt and lost the last two holes. I know that -- we had Funk and Haas were in a very similar situation. If Allenby doesn't hole the putt off of the fringe at 16, that match is over right there, which he does, much to his credit.

And Mickelson and Toms were 2-up after 12 and they were one you have after 16. Phil didn't hit a very good tee shot at 17 but David made a beautiful pitch. But then Nick pulled about a 15-footer, it was a great putt that Nick holed.

Then the last hole, they are both sitting of the green and David didn't play a very good pitch and they lost the match.

You know, turnabout events happens. It's not something that I know Jeff and I were happy about, but I'm sure that Gary and Ian were ecstatic.

GARY PLAYER: Well, at one stage we would have settled for a 4-2 result. It was looking a one-way street.

JACK NICKLAUS: Why didn't you come to me? (Laughter.)

GARY PLAYER: Such a short answer, I couldn't find you in that grass.

It's still basically match-play, whether it's foursomes or not. It's like Davis Love at the end there, Tim Clark hits a shot in there close -- if you go to 16, 17 and 18, 17 is about as, I think, about as tough a par 3 as you can get. I think the par 3, Augusta 6, is still the toughest pin placement I've seen, No. 6 at Augusta, but you come down the line, anything can happen. Davis hit a chip at No. 16 that was unbelievable because you have this mound and the flag was just behind it. He hit the most incredible shot right into the Cup, to the delight of the people. As I say, we were in trouble and we pulled the rabbit out of the hat today.

Q. In terms of watching it, was there quite a strong desire, do you wish you were out there playing the shots yourselves rather than just watching?

JACK NICKLAUS: I think both Gary and I would have been an extra shot gained going into each green. No.

GARY PLAYER: Yes. (Laughter.) I've love to have been playing. I still love the -- not effectively, obviously, against the young guys like this. But it's also a lot of pressure. You feel the pressure, I think. I certainly do. I have a little bit of a headache right now, it's better now, I have a bit of a headache -- I felt the pressure far more zooming around the golf course, pulling for our guys than I did if I was playing myself.

You feel the pressure. You always feel that you are in control but really you seem helpless. You know you've got confidence in your guys. They really did extremely well to end up ahead.

Q. Is it any coincidence that the first match, the way Weir and Price came back and you said that they were grinders and they just keep coming, any coincidence that they came back for a win and the other comebacks seemed to happen right after that?

GARY PLAYER: You know, I'm not so sure the other guys -- although, I know for a fact that not all your team members -- I can't tell you how many -- but not all your team members know what is happening that far ahead because they are pretty focused on what they are doing.

I know for a fact one of my team members was not sure what happened and that's understandable. He's focusing on trying to do the best that he can for his match. I don't know whether that has -- but with some guys it might be a good indication, gee, our guys are 2-down, but they don't have time to watch who is up and who is down if they have to start worrying about all matches who is up and who is going to be down, they certainly would not be focusing. So I would not say that that was a factor.

Q. When we spoke to Kenny Perry earlier about any advice you had given the team he said that you had a meeting and you spoke to the guys and they were very motivated by what you said, and I was curious if there's anything that you can say to players, no matter what their experience level when they get to an 18th tee of a match they know is going to decide it about the feeling in their gut to put everything behind them that they have done for 17 holes and execute; is there anything that you can say to a guy to get them past a tentative or nervous feeling?

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't think so. I think the best thing you can say is nothing.

They know where they are. They are the ones that got there. They know what they are doing. You know, they are all grown men. They are all accomplished players. They are all -- they know exactly what's going on. Nothing that Jeff and I could either one of us could say to them would make any difference.

Do they like the support? Absolutely they like the support. Saying something, would it make any difference? Just for me, I couldn't see it.

Q. Have you guys met yet at all since the matches were concluded today as a team?

JACK NICKLAUS: I've talked to everybody. I haven't met with them.

Q. What's their mood, what's the sense you get from them about how the day transpired?

JACK NICKLAUS: My team they are all want to go kick themselves in the rear end, I'm sure, to the extend of what they got. Are they upset, yeah, they are upset with what they didn't finish. But that's what happened.

But they know that they have three more days and four more rounds of golf, and they know that they have got to go out and play and do their best and that's what they will do. They are all champions or they would not be here.

Q. Jack and Gary, the value of early momentum, there's 28 points still out there, what value do you put on Gary, if you want to start on this early momentum that your team seems to have?

GARY PLAYER: I think Jack and I both played so many tournaments in our lives when we were -- I remember winning at Augusta, I was seven behind with one round to go. I won the British Open I think six shots behind. Jack did many tournaments like that. We played many tournaments, we won with being a long way behind. You know, this is just -- the horses have just come out of the gate. Now, yes, would I rather be half a point in front than half a point behind? I'll take half a point in front. But it's nothing really to speak about. The match has not really begun yet. It's nice to have that momentum from looking hopeless to coming up with a half a point lead.

But no, you're talking about, as Jack said correctly, accomplished players, all experienced. There is nothing -- it just turned out a great day's play, whether they are upset. And we are happy, I think the TV, the gallery, everybody was very excited, it was a great day for the event, which we've said from the beginning, yes, we want to win, but yes, we want to have a great win.

Q. Too early?

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't think there's much at this point. I think had we finished if off 5-1, there would be a lot in that. But where it is right now it's basically half a point difference. I can't see that there's really much in it at this point.

Q. Charles how will spoke about the support that him and Tiger received and he said it felt it was almost equal to the International Team, probably due to the popularity of Tiger as a player, but there was no animosity out on the course like we have seen in Ryder Cups before. Can you comment on the crowd, the South African crowd the way they relate to the players and whether you can see the crowd getting really feverish and really lifting the players over the next few days as the competition unfolds?

GARY PLAYER: Well, as a South African, I was very pleased with the way our crowd, obviously, they are pulling for our guys, but it wasn't blatantly so. There was none of this "Miss! Miss!" business or flags being rammed down damn the throat. (Laughter).

And Jack and I, I remember watching the Ryder Cup, for years never saw a flag out there in my life. All of the sudden there are flags out there and it's a war at the shore and this. (Laughter.) The guy on TV had announced: "This guy hates that guy" and "this team is slow playing this" -- it was nothing like that. It was really refreshing to see that.

I must say in all respect, the last Ryder Cup Matches was fantastic. It was really, everybody behaved impeccably well and I think September 11 had quite a bearing on that and I think the guys behaved fantastically. And today, as a South African, I watched for that and I was really pleased that Johann Rupert at the ceremony this morning said, you know, it must be played and equal applause must be given to everybody.

I watched all of the guys, and when Davis chipped in, I'm not sure whether it was our guys or there guys. Normally you can hear a difference. You say, "Oh, that's my team." It was hard to distinguish. I think everybody here is just so excited having a Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods and Jeff Sluman and the whole team. They are just so excited to have everybody. It's been mentioned through the press, I have mentioned it a lot of times that I want it to be played in the true spirit, and Jack mentioned it, it was mentioned this morning. I was very pleased to see the reception to both teams.

JACK NICKLAUS: My turn to disagree with that. (Laughter.)

No, I think Gary is right. I think the International Team is going to get more support basically because there's several South African players and a large amount of the population, part of the gallery is going to be South African. I thought the game was played in fair spirit and I don't think there was anything out there that I saw that was out of line. You've got -- you've got all the support for Tiger today; we'll see if he has it tomorrow when he plays Ernie.

GARY PLAYER: (Laughing).

JACK NICKLAUS: I think they will be very fair.

Q. You have two guys that had not played with each other before, Kenny and Davis, and Charlie and Tiger, did they mesh about the way you expected them to?

JACK NICKLAUS: I they them both on the same list for the same pairing tomorrow.

Q. I saw that, as well.

JACK NICKLAUS: I think they must have.

Q. Did that surprise you at all?

JACK NICKLAUS: Did it surprise me that I put them together again? No, it didn't surprise me the all.

I thought they were probably our two strongest teams to start with.

Q. Some uncertainty about the penalty shots with Choi and Appleby. Can you take us through that, please?

GARY PLAYER: Well, I was not there but I think Ian was there. I was at the other side.

IAN BAKER-FINCH: The situation was, they needed to take a drop and the rules official there said, "Mr. Choi, you are to play" and he played. They got out into the fairway and there was a question. The rules official radioed back and actually found out that actually Stuart Appleby should have played, but because it had been an official decision -- am I correct how I'm explaining it? It should have been an official decision, like an official was there watching and was actually directing the situation and they allowed it to continue.

So they continued in that order until the end of the hole, which they lost anyway, so it didn't really matter and started again in the correct order on the next tee.

So basically all of the issue was, was that Choi played the third shot when Appleby should have played the third shot because of a drop. Theo (Manyama) unfortunately just mis-timed the rule. There's two different rules in that situation and he was incorrect in the way he played it out unfortunately.

JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know what happened. What happened?

IAN BAKER-FINCH: Appleby hit it left off the tee. I wasn't there but I came into the situation.

Q. Choi hit it left.

IAN BAKER-FINCH: Choi hit it left off the tee. Sorry. They took the drop, the penalty drop as Stuart's second shot and then Choi played again.

JACK NICKLAUS: Played a whole new shot regardless of the penalty?


JEFF SLUMAN: The rules official made a mistake.

IAN BAKER-FINCH: He allowed it to happen, so it wasn't like the players did it purposely. They asked the official, the official said, no, no, you play, and he was incorrect. No big deal.

GARY PLAYER: What was the result on that hole?

IAN BAKER-FINCH: We lost the hole.

Q. Do the players have any influence in the choice of the pairings tomorrow or was that purely your choice this time?

GARY PLAYER: No. I sat down with all my players, with Ian, and we said to them, "This is what Ian and I would like to see happen, and are you guys agreeable or would you like to see; is there anybody you would like to play with or not play with and please let us know."

So our guys are very happy with our selection. They do make suggestions but they are very, very accommodating. There's no real problems.

IAN BAKER-FINCH: It's a team effort. We just do it Gary's way. (Laughter.)

JAMES CRAMER: Thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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