September 11, 1996
LAKE MANASSAS, VIRGINIA
WES SEELEY: We have assembled. To my left is Phil Mickelson; then Fred Couples, Davis Love III and Arnold Palmer. And we have three who have done this before. And we just left three of the International Team who did not play last time, Greg and Ernie and Jumbo. So why don't we start with Phil. How much does experience matter in an event like this?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I think that those three players you just mentioned have enough experience, they're pretty good players. I think that in this format the players who are here have played golf all their life; have played it professionally; have succeeded professionally; have made a great living on Tour and acquired a number of wins across the world. So I think there's a lot of experience. Whether or not they've played in the first Presidents Cup or not, it really shouldn't mean that much.
FRED COUPLES: I agree. I think he's correct. We have a pretty young team, but they're all playing very, very well. If you look at Justin Leonard, David Duval, I think they've answered most of the time this year - played great. So I don't see it as a big factor. I think it will help because, unlike the Ryder Cup, you have to play ten of the twelve guys instead of eight, so a lot of people are going to be playing a lot and I would consider those guys to be young and guys that can go. So I think that helps, too.
Q. What's the biggest adjustment? Golf is an individual sport. What's the biggest adjustment you have to make as a team?
DAVIS LOVE III: I think it's just really on alternate shot. The best ball, pretty much just playing your own ball. But you have to adjust a little bit on alternate shot. I think the guys who haven't done that, I think that's the hardest thing to get used to is not hitting the shot, skip every other tee shot, and it's hard to get into a rhythm. I think we're used to big competitions and everything, but I think that's the one thing, matchplay. Justin Leonard, he's played a lot of matchplay, probably more recently than we have. And David Duval and Phil, they are all successful as matchplay players. So I don't think that's hard to adjust to. I think it's the alternate shot. None of us really got much of a chance to play growing up. It's hard to adjust to it.
Q. May I follow-up on that? How will you determine who's going to hit which tee shot off which hole?
DAVIS LOVE III: I think you look at how Arnold pairs us and then you say, sit down, between the two guys and say, all right, I need a drive off these holes for such and such a reason, or I feel comfortable hitting off the par-5 tees and you hitting the second shots or whatever. You kind of have to wait until you get your pairing. But usually leading up to it, we'll have decided, hey, the guy that hits off the even number holes, hits drives off the par 5s or whatever. And you figure the course out; how it's going to fall. You can figure out certain quirks of the course. The guy who hits off the tee on odds may putt more than the guy that hits off the tee on evens. We'll have that kind of thing figured out. Then you see who you've got. If you get to the first tee and one guy is less nervous than the other he hits off the odd hole, so he has to go first. You just figure it out between yourselves - little strategy. Maybe one guy hits good long irons and he hits off the holes where he hits irons off the tee and long irons on the par 3's. So you just kind of work it out as you go.
Q. This is for all the players. Greg Norman just said the International Team is going to win, if not this time; then the next time. Do you think that's inevitable and do you expect a much closer this time than last time?
FRED COUPLES: They're eventually going to win. That's going to happen some time. I feel like we missed them playing last time - the three guys that were just in here - and I don't know if they're the exact same, rest of the nine guys that were here. So they're much stronger, that's obvious. Anytime you get Greg Norman playing anything, you've got a good team. I think the weather is a huge factor, how much fun it's going to be to play and try to grind it out in 36 holes if you're in the rain and the slop. But as far as who wins, Sunday is a long way from now and I think we have a very, very good team. Obviously I think we're going to win. I think all 12 of them on their team think they're going to win; otherwise, I should have Arnold sit down with us and explain that we're going to win. But it's justifiable on who's got the better team. If you looked at it, you'd probably say they do, but we're used to playing in these things a little bit more. And I think that helps.
Q. Tim Finchem in here earlier said the only thing this event lacked was history. You guys were here the last time. Do you feel it's more established, more history behind it this time?
DAVIS LOVE III: I think it does. Last time there was maybe six or eight months leading up to it and it was -- it all came about real quickly. I think we've all had a couple of years to think about it and digest the first one. I think it's great coming back to the same golf course and the same town and doing it all over again. It definitely feels a lot more -- everything is running a lot smoother. Everyone knows what to expect, but I think Tim is right, after we've played it five times or ten times and it has a track record, I think it's going to add a lot to it.
Q. Phil, you cut your teeth here at the Presidents Cup in your first professional team matchplay and also had a very successful Ryder Cup. Now you're back at the Presidents Cup again. Do you feel like you're a tough veteran and those experiences will carry over on the course?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I don't know. I don't know how to answer that. I've had an opportunity -- I have had an opportunity to play in eight matches and have a decent record. I'm pleased with the record. I don't know how this is going to go. The past doesn't really mean much for the present. And the competition is going to be a little different. We've got some of the best players in the world that we're going to be playing against. I hope that I have an opportunity to compete against those players and see if the experience, two year's ago Presidents Cup and last year's Ryder Cup, if the experience in playing and competing in those events can help me perform better and perform well this week. And I'm curious to see how those matches would be, how they'll go.
Q. Fred, Davis had mentioned it's nice to come back to the same club. The International Players talked about they can't wait until it's moved somewhere else to get the rest of the world involved support-wise. Do you guys in fact have a home-course advantage?
FRED COUPLES: No. I don't think so. I think the one thing I remember is I played with Davis and some other guys last time and it was not the rivalry like a Ryder Cup match. They were rooting just as hard for Nick Price, who I played, as they were I. And obviously, when it got down to the end, they were excited the Americans won. It was a little more lopsided. But the whole basis -- they see all these guys all the time. A lot of guys maybe never even heard of Philip Walton who won the initial point --
WES SEELEY: (The last point).
FRED COUPLES: -- Vijay Singh or Frank Nobilo, those are well-known guys who play a lot in America. There's a twist to it there. So as far as having a home course, no, they've played just as much as we have.
Q. Freddie touched on this a little, but what are these three guys who didn't play the last time, what do they bring to the table? What do they do in terms of strengthening the other team?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, they go from having the 97th ranked player in the world to the No. 1 ranked player in the world, so it increases 97 points, which is a big jump. So I would say that it's a very important part of the team having Greg Norman and Ernie Els and Jumbo Ozaki as part of the team. Those guys are three of the top ten players in the world and they're going to bring a lot to that team. It's going to be difficult for us. We're going to have to play very well.
FRED COUPLES: And also, we all like Jumbo. We've played him a lot. It's great to see him play - it really is. He is a unique individual, I would say, by far. And I think he turns 50 real soon. I'd love to see him come play the Senior Tour one year. I think he would - I don't know what the word would be - I think he would enjoy playing over here. So hopefully this will help him come back. But I've had the opportunity -- Phil played him last week. Did you get paired with him in Japan?
PHIL MICKELSON: No.
FRED COUPLES: But they're a very good team with or without those guys, and obviously with them, they're much better. But we have a good team, too.
Q. If the event goes overseas, how do you think that would impact the Americans? Would everybody still be as willing to play if you have to hop on a plane and go to Australia, 20 hours or whatever?
FRED COUPLES: It's a good question. I would say you might have what happened last year: Greg was sick, but Ernie didn't make it. I heard Davis talking the other day, if we go over there, I think a captain would really help, like Arnold Palmer. I'm not trying to tell him if we go over there, he would be captain, but to have someone like that come up to you and say, we need you, obviously, you would never not do it. But when you start talking about it, if you go to South Africa, Australia, you're going to skip the week before, you're going to skip that while you're there and you're going to skip the week after, I think. So that's a lot of golf for somebody trying to win a money title or something like that. Now, years down the line, I'll be done playing, but this is going to be a huge, huge event. It already is, but there were guys that skipped the Ryder Cup before. Now you would never even dream of it. So it's a good question.
DAVIS LOVE III: I think the thing you've got to realize is they would love to see it in their home country, but most of the guys play our Tour, too. So it would be taking it away from their home Tour. I'm not a hundred percent sold on the event needs to be moved around. You've got half their team, at least half their team, right, that's living in the U.S..
FRED COUPLES: If they moved it to Orlando, that would be their home country (audience laughter).
Q. Question for Arnold: Over 35, 40 years, whatever, you have played or been captain, been a part of events from their conception like this. How big do you see the event going? I realize it's nice to talk positive. Realistically speaking, Fred was talking about the excitement and the importance to the players of the Ryder Cup. Do you think it's going to take 10 or 11 years before the players feel the excitement, I've got to be part of this and if you leave me off the team, I'm going to be upset?
ARNOLD PALMER: First of all, I don't think it's going to take 10 or 12 years. I think, No. 1, I think the international aspects of this event are very, very important. And the enthusiasm that we're seeing this year with Jumbo and the guys that would have been on the team are on the team. And I think each country represented here is going to feel some of that enthusiasm when these matches get started. And they're going to start rooting and it's going to be a big, big factor. I really think that eventually this event will have to go international. I think location-wise, I think that's very important, too, to make it the kind of event that I think it's going to be. I'm not going to say that it's going to be bigger than the Ryder Cup and I'm not going to say it's going to be less than the Ryder Cup, either. I think that what happens here this week is going to have a very definite effect on the success of this event and that means the media and their accepting it as a competition that it is, the television around the world and then the world recognizing this as a major golfing event. Why is the Ryder Cup so big? What has happened to it? It happened because you guys and television created a mystique between two countries, Europe and the United States competitively, in golf. And it also happened because all of a sudden the Europeans became very competitive and they won. If you want to think about that, that is what created a lot of the enthusiasm in the
Ryder Cup. The same thing will happen right here. Let's put a multiple of 2 to it. You're not talking about just Europe. You're talking about the world, the rest of the world. If you don't think this is going to be successful, then you don't think the rest of the world is very important in golf. Well, I happen to think it is. I happen to think that we are now building golf in China. And Japan is an absolute major factor in the world of golf, Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia has been a major factor in golf for many years, South Africa has been a major factor in golf for many years. And it's growing. And it's going to grow and these matches are going to help make it grow and they're going to be recognized for the competition that has been created between the players like Vijay Singh and Greg Norman and Jumbo Ozaki, Nick Price from Zimbabwe, if you wish, and that's going to be -- but everything, that steamroller that is happening could be stopped, if it doesn't work out, and the enthusiasm of the players and the press, media is very important to the success of this whole thing.
Q. What do you guys think about the idea that Peter Thomson had about a three team Ryder Cup one day, the U.S., Europe and the International?
DAVIS LOVE III: I haven't heard that idea but it would be hard to figure out how to do it. It would take a couple of weeks, probably to play it. When I was on the board and I'm still on the board and when this came up, I think the main thing that we said that we didn't want to do is do anything that would hurt the Ryder Cup. The Ryder Cup I hope is and always will be what it is and hopefully the Presidents Cup can be its own event. I'd like to see some tournaments grow and be like the enthusiasm of a Presidents Cup or a Ryder Cup, something like the World Cup or Dunhill Cup, where there are more countries, but individual countries. I don't know how long we can go on, and Freddie and I were talking about this the other day, how long can we go on playing against so many countries? As Arnold says golf is growing in Japan and all these other countries so fast that eventually the United States versus Europe or the United States versus the rest of the world is going to be a pretty daunting task, and I hope some of the other events like the Dunhill or the World Cup, things like that would grow to where individual countries like Fiji or Sweden would have an opportunity to play against the United States or play against Australia and stuff like that. But I would hate to see them ever get combined. These two events are so great the way they are.
Q. I have a question for Arnold. One of your players told me yesterday, he said I don't have any experience in competitions like this, matchplay competitions, however, every time I play with friends or sometimes in practice I play some type of match. Do you think that type of experience could mean anything or significantly to participating in a Cup competition like this?
ARNOLD PALMER: I'm not sure what you're asking me.
Q. What I'm asking is you and a lot of other people have played matches with friends, basically every time you play. Is that kind of experience, can it be transferred into this kind of experience?
ARNOLD PALMER: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think that competition -- one of our guys has never played a foursome match. And I'll tell you how long I think it will take him to pick up on that; tomorrow. I think he'll know exactly what he wants to do after tomorrow, because I'm going to do some things and sort of give him a shot at playing tomorrow like they would be playing on Friday.
Q. Who is this, which player?
ARNOLD PALMER: Well, Steve Stricker for an example has never played in a foursome match. But he'll have played after tomorrow. And he'll have the opportunity to know what it's going to be like. If he only plays nine holes, but that's going to happen and they're going to get a dry run, all of them, at doing this.
Q. What do you guys think about some of the subtle differences in the format of this event and the chance that it goes down to a sudden death playoff? What are your thoughts on that, playing that hole or holes? Do you relish that opportunity?
FRED COUPLES: Do you mean like if we absolutely tie?
Q. Absolutely goes down to a tie.
FRED COUPLES: I think that's a great thing. I think that's a lot of pressure. I'm a little against -- we don't want to get into it -- on finishing and tying and going out for a playoff. I do think for right now as it goes in the Ryder Cup if you tie the team that had won the time before keeps the Cup. I think this is a neat thing. I think as it goes on and gets to be like the Ryder Cup it could become a bit much. But the first few years you'll be nervous, but I think it would be something the tournament could use and I hope it happens and Davis goes out and beats whoever he's got to beat. (Laughter).
Q. Freddie, even in the rain going head-to-head with these guys in the rain, do you guys have a problem with that this weekend?
FRED COUPLES: The reason I said it, it takes a little bit away from the tournament. I know we played one day in the Ryder Cup at Oak Hill, it's difficult, there's a lot going on, but it would kill everything; the fans coming out. This tournament doesn't need any snags, and I think if it was sunny everything would be exceptional. It may not be, but there's no advantage, if it rains, to us or them. It just wouldn't be, obviously, as much fun.
Q. Put it in the words of the late great P.T. Barnum, the show goes on?
FRED COUPLES: Yes.
Q. Phil, and maybe everyone else, could you briefly touch on the difference from the pressures of the Presidents Cup and the Ryder Cup and a major tournament or regular tournament? Obviously major tournaments the pressure is more, but how do they compare or do they compare?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think in a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup format where you have a matchplay deal there's a lot of anxiety in between matches that you feel because you're anxious to get on the course and you don't know what you need to shoot to win your match. It could be 66, it could be 76. So you have to find a way to deal with that until you get on the golf course. And once you're on the course it's fine. Well, it's the same thing in a major championship. The anxiety builds up because you want to play well and perform well in these huge tournaments. But you still need to deal with that anxiety that is built up between rounds and the anxiousness to get back out on the golf course and perform. So my point is that they are very similar in between rounds, in between matches, once the player is back on the course he feels a lot more at ease. It's in between rounds it is very similar in the anxiety that is built and created.
End of FastScripts....