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May 31, 2006
JAMES CRAMER: Good morning everyone, my name is James Cramer, I'm the director of public relations for the PGA TOUR. I'd like to welcome the media that are joining us here onsite at Muirfield Village Golf Club, and also the media that are joining us via teleconference from all around the world, both nationally and internationally for this important announcement.
To begin with, I'd like to introduce a couple of distinguished guests we have with us. We have Mike Richards, the President of the 2007 Presidents Cup.
To Mike's right, we have Mr. Tom Clark, who's the Executive Director of the 2007 Presidents Cup at the Royal Montreal Golf Club in Montreal, Canada.
I'd like to introduce Tim Finchem, the commissioner of the PGA TOUR.
COMMISSIONER TIMOTHY W. FINCHEM: Thank you, James, we're delighted to be here for a special announcement regarding next year's Presidents Cup. I think all of you with us last fall when we had thus far the most exciting, perhaps, of the presidents Cups, the last two have been phenomenal. For the second year in a row, the second match in a row, the matches came down to the last hole. And so the competition was fantastic. In addition to that, I thought the sportsmanship exhibited by the captains over the life of the Presidents Cup, particularly the last couple of years, especially with the tie in South Africa at Fancourt, and by the players has been a special message about what this competition should be all about.
Over the history of the Cup, we've had a good range of captains. On the International side, we were delighted to have David Graham, and then Peter Thompson served three times. And the last couple of Cups, Gary Player. And on the United States' side, Hale Irwin, Ken Venturi, Arnold Palmer, and the last couple of times, Jack Nicklaus, as well.
We're delighted this morning to announce that next year in Montreal, at Royal Montreal, Jack Nicklaus will captain the United States team once again, and Gary Player will captain the International Team once again.
I will preempt your questions by explaining the reason for this announcement, and the reason for asking these two fellows to serve again, and of course, we were very pleased when they agreed. I think there are several reasons that are worth noting, from our perspective and the perspective for the other Tours around the world. The first and foremost is the impact on the Cup, the last couple of matches have had. And in both cases, what happened in those two Cup competitions had an awful lot to do with the leadership displayed by these two men with their respective teams.
Secondly, I think we are focused a lot on the unique position of the competition today. We played in the last two Cups, 68 matches. We played 1,221 holes of golf in those matches, and it all came down to the last putt at the last hole at the end of the second Cup.
Over the last couple of years, Jack actually has captained three times now, and he's tied one, he's lost one, and he's won one.
Gary has captained twice, he tied one and he lost one. One had the feeling going into the last Cup that we wanted Jack to have another opportunity to win, although his leadership was the primary interest we had in his captaincy. And I think there's some sentiment with Gary that we give him one more chance to win. And if we're going to give him a chance to win, obviously it would be great if he had that chance against Jack, again.
So the quality of the competition and how it stacks up had a lot to do with this decision.
Thirdly, there is no question that the fans have reacted so positively to the involvement of these two men in the Cup, and I think it's frankly an historic vote and one that 50 years from now people will look back on and say that these matches captained by these two fellows really set the stage for where the Cup will be in those times.
Another couple of reasons was the players, I think the players clearly, on both teams, bonded with the leadership that these two fellows provided. They were very pleased with the direction in both cases that was provided by the captains. And they couldn't be more pleased with the opportunity to have these two guys back and to keep them connected with the game in a very real way.
And lastly, I would just say that we are, of course, as we go to Canada, very much focused on the fact that we have some of the most intense fans for our sport in Canada and among those fans, Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player are very, very popular, indeed, and we think that will be a nice additional contribution to their captaincy next year.
With that said, I'll just say from our perspective, we're very, very excited about the fact that Jack and Gary have agreed to continue another time. We look forward to some great matches next year. And with that, I'll turn it over to the International captain, who is perhaps the best individual to represent International golf, the most traveled athlete in history of the sport, Gary Player.
GARY PLAYER: Tim, I can only say that I am ecstatic, I'm so excited about captaining. I spoke to Jack the other day, and we're both very thrilled. It's an honor, and I appreciate it very much indeed. And also to be going to Canada, where I think Jack and I have supported golf to the hit. Over all the years we continue to play there, doing extensive Tours through Canada with Stan Leonard, and it's really a great fan based golf. You think about it, so close to the United States. They love their golf, and if we can do anything, which I'm sure The Presidents Cup and its status at the moment, will promote golf, I know what it did to golf in South Africa, not only to Tourism, but played a vital role in our country. And the match we played in Washington I can understand why Jack said that it's the most exciting moments of his life, The Presidents Cup. And it's certainly two of the most exciting times of my golfing career, that you can play over 2,200 holes, plus or minus, and it goes to the last green, and really we didn't have my best player in the team, which was Ernie Els last year, because of knee problems. It really could have turned out to be another tie, it was so close.
That's what we want to see, the games which Jack and I put great emphasis on, which is to have the game played in the true spirit and the camaraderie that existed was absolutely unbelievable. I don't ever remember guys full of enthusiasm, and enthusiasm is one of the great essences of life, besides the gallery, the media, which is so important to our events, the sponsors, having the ex presidents of the United States present. It was absolutely unbelievable. And the players, we got on together so well. We wanted to win, absolutely, but the atmosphere was fantastic. To be playing at Royal Montreal, having had nine Canadian Opens, and the oldest golf course in North America, is that correct? So this is really going to be a privilege coming to your country and playing there. And I hope Jack and I and our teams can really promote more young people playing, we need that desperately at the moment. We have three million people plus or minus going out of golf and three million coming in. So we want to have the overheads as they say, of vanity and profit is sanity. We want to make a profit in the game. We want more people to play. And we'll do our utmost to do that and promote The Presidents Cup while we're there, and we look forward to it with great enthusiasm.
COMMISSIONER TIMOTHY W. FINCHEM: Jack told me after Australia some years ago he was delighted to be involved in The Presidents Cup. And we're so excited in welcoming another opportunity. I don't know if you thought, at that point in time, we'd come knocking three more times. But, Jack, why don't you give us your thoughts.
JACK NICKLAUS: First of all, how could it have gotten any better than it had the last two? South Africa, when we played down there, I said it was the best event I've ever been involved within the game of golf. I said it was absolutely the most exciting, the most rewarding, and to see the teams and the camaraderie, and watch, particularly, what happened in the country of South Africa and the people take walking away from the playoff, called it a tie, walking arm in arm, and the singing and the presentation, and the enthusiasm of President Mbeki, everything was just terrific.
And then to come back to Washington and to see it happen all over again, and see it come down to the last hole. I always go back to never forgetting asking Freddie Couples, I said, "Chris has got the same putt you had, how did it break, what did it do?" Freddie says, "I'm not sure. I just closed my eyes and hit it." And maybe that was what Freddie felt, because he knocked it in, obviously, and Chris knocked his in and won the matches. The matches were fantastic. Both teams got along so well. Not only did the American team bond, I think the neat deal about guys who play against each other all the time, every week, come together as a team, there's a little shyness starting out there. I play against this guy, I don't know if I want to get too close to him or not.
But the first moment we walk in and Tiger and Phil say, "Let's play some ping pong." And they start playing, and I love that story, because they played and Tiger won the first two games. And Phil had to sort of a piece of furniture in the back part of the table, he says, "I'm going to switch ends, I can't get back here and play." And Tiger said, "Sure, we'll switch ends." And Phil wins at the other end of the table. And he says, "One more." And Tiger said, "No more, 2 1." He said no more. And they never played another game all week. But they bonded as a team.
And I think Phil Mickelson came of age in South Africa. He was 0 5 in South Africa. He could have taken our team down with him. But he didn't. He went exactly the opposite, he took the exact opposite road and supported us right through. I think he was my most valuable player, even though he had a 0 5 record. He obviously had a better record than RTJ. But the things that happened and the way teams got together in the evenings, and to see these guys, grown men, and their wives, do something once a year that you would never see happen before was, to me, was very rewarding to do that. So when Tim asked me to be captain again, I had some reservations, because I said, "How can it get any better?" And it probably didn't. Barbara, Tim knows, how can you beat that? I said, "Well, those two events stand on their own two feet." They'll never be lost, they're always there, and there will always be great memories from them. So we go on again. And I think that's great.
I don't mind giving Gary the opportunity to win a match.
GARY PLAYER: Don't leave it 1 up.
JACK NICKLAUS: Gary and I have been friends for years, we've competed against each other for years. Our families are friends, we've spent a lot of time together. And I think we both understand what The Presidents Cup means to the game of golf and what it does for International golf. We have played a lot in Canada, I wish they changed the 18th hole at Royal Montreal, I don't know if you have or not. But I don't like the lake there, it cost me the Canadian Open. I hit a 3 wood and knocked it in the lake.
But anyway, we're delighted to go to Montreal. I'm sure they'll receive the event well, and we'll show the world that golf is played well in Canada and can be displayed well in Canada. We're delighted to be part of it. It will be great fun. These matches will stand on their own two feet. Tim has told me that the guys have politicked to have me back. And the other guys have politicked to have Gary back. And that's very rewarding that the team members that you had before wanted you to come back and be captain again. So that's very nice, and I think we'll have some great matches. I know everybody is looking forward to it very much. Thank you.
JAMES CRAMER: We have an opportunity for questions. We'll do questions onsite, first, and then open it up for media joining us on the teleconference.
Q. Were you thinking about having Jack and Gary back or was there consideration for other captains?
COMMISSIONER TIMOTHY W. FINCHEM: As you might suspect at the very end of the matches, given the way they finished, and yet the kind of week it was, there was a pretty strong feeling from the players that they wanted another go, generally, and they wanted these guys back, if they could get them. But we deferred for a period of time, for a couple of reasons. Historically we don't announce it until the spring.
Secondly, we had a lot going on right after the matches. We were going to television negotiations, we had to get the FedEx Cup going, and we had an awful lot of work to do. We decided to set this one aside, let everybody reflect on the Cup, watch the videos, and then reflect on it. When we got back into reflecting on it, it was quite clear in everybody's attitude that it just felt like the right thing to do at this point in time. If we had the opportunity to have Jack and Gary do it, we should take advantage of it. Frankly, I thought we felt the same way about Peter Thompson when he did it once or twice, that he was a captain. But this has been very, very special the last two Cups, and if there's a way to continue that one more time.
We know there are a lot of players out there that should be captain going forward. In the big picture, this is still the infancy of the Presidents Cup. It's only since 1994, these are the early years, and we don't think there's anything wrong with doing things this way, even though 20 years from now we may be in a very different mode. So that was kind of the thought process.
Q. Jack, I think the press always brings up the bad news, but you were 0 7 in Canada.
JACK NICKLAUS: I'm not 0 7 in Canada.
Q. 7 times a runner up. Okay, 0 25.
JACK NICKLAUS: I haven't won a tournament in Canada? I don't know. Well, I think that I beat 142 guys more than seven times (laughter).
Q. A chance for you to finally get a trophy in Canada?
JACK NICKLAUS: That would be a nice way to do it, certainly.
Q. Do you see this as a you still have a lot to offer the game and the other players, as not playing anymore. Do you see a chance to stay in touch, stay connected?
JACK NICKLAUS: That's one of the reasons I accepted. I love the game and I've taken myself out of the game from a playing standpoint. And of course Barbara was saying, if you quit playing, you have a successful Presidents Cup, why do you want to do anything again? I said those are going to stand on their own two feet. I said, "I love being involved in the game." And I said I was very flattered that Tim and the Tour and the players wanted me back to be a captain. And it gave me an opportunity to stay involved in something I love. And so it was probably the most active way for me to stay involved and probably the most significant way for me to make a contribution back to the game of golf.
Q. This is for both Jack and Gary. You're going to be in a unique situation, where The Presidents Cup is going to come after what is the FedEx Cup. And most of the guys that I assume will be on your teams will have played four or five basically stressful tournaments in a row, and then turn around and come to Royal Montreal. How do you see that changing the way you look at things or how do you think that will affect the matches?
GARY PLAYER: I think tiredness is in the mind. I think when you're a young athlete, this is one of the things that really upset me when I listened to your TV commentators, saying they're playing for a first prize every week, thanks to Tim and his committee and sponsors, a million dollars, how do you get tired when you're playing for a million dollars? If you have to try to explain this to a man in the street who four percent of this great country, four or 5 percent don't even make a hundred thousand dollars, let's say four and a half percent of this country make a hundred thousand dollars or more a year. And they're reading this, that a man is making a million dollars and they're getting tired. It makes me want to puke when I see that.
I'm 70 years of age and where I'm going, tomorrow I'm going to China, then I'm going to Germany, and I'm going to Cypress and South Africa and I'll come back here. I'm 70 years of age, I don't understand this business of tired. If you want to take Monday and Tuesday off, you can stay in bed all day and go and play on Wednesday and restart. I wish I had a chance to play for a million dollars a week. And so this is just my opinion.
When I read about players being tired, it drives me nuts.
COMMISSIONER TIMOTHY W. FINCHEM: If I can interject, this schedule has been reviewed with all the players, and we haven't had one player one player hesitate in their enthusiasm for playing the playoffs at the FedEx Cup at all, and the notion that they're going to stop playing golf after the FedEx Cup, a lot of them will be playing four or five in the fall series, let alone maybe make the Cup. So I just don't think this is an issue.
JACK NICKLAUS: What is the schedule? I don't have a clue.
COMMISSIONER TIMOTHY W. FINCHEM: You have the PGA Championship, the end of the preliminaries for the FedEx Cup is a week after the PGA Championship, and you have four weeks in a row where players are essentially in a playoff mode. And then I think, James, we have a week
JAMES CRAMER: That's correct.
COMMISSIONER TIMOTHY W. FINCHEM: A full week off and then go to Canada, for the Cup, which will be the same, basically in Ryder Cup years. If you go out the next six years, Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup in the years when they're close, there's a couple of years where they're the week after the playoffs, but most years, they have a week off in between. So they have a week off to get ready.
JACK NICKLAUS: It is what it is. And I think maybe that will be better play the matches in the spirit of the matches. They've had enough competition, maybe they'll play the spirit of the matches in the name of sportsmanship, which is what it should be, anyway. I don't think that's an issue for us.
Q. You've had Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup here, any chance there could be a Presidents Cup at Muirfield Village in the not too does distant future?
JACK NICKLAUS: I have no idea.
COMMISSIONER TIMOTHY W. FINCHEM: We're Canada in '07, and back in the United States in '09. We made no determination for the Cup in '09.
JACK NICKLAUS: You have made or have not?
COMMISSIONER TIMOTHY W. FINCHEM: Have not. Obviously we're looking at Robert Trent Jones again, but we're not wedded to that. And we are looking at some other possibilities. But it would be premature to speculate about moving it any one direction right now. We're probably a year away from probably getting into that.
JACK NICKLAUS: To answer your question from our standpoint, we'd love to have that. But as I say, that's not been offered, that's not been talked about. But The Presidents Cup in Washington, D.C. has worked very well, particularly from the standpoint it is The Presidents Cup, and the president has participated and the ex presidents have participated, too, which is a big, big plus in the matches.
COMMISSIONER TIMOTHY W. FINCHEM: Of course we'll have a different president in '09. Maybe it will be an anti golf president, who knows, but figure that out. Unlikely.
JAMES CRAMER: At this point, let's take a few questions from those joining us via the teleconference.
Q. Tim, you just answered my question about whether it's coming back to RTJ. I'd also like to ask you, Tim, if you have a time table on the fall schedule, when you'll announce that and if you think Washington is still in the mix there?
COMMISSIONER TIMOTHY W. FINCHEM: Washington is still in the mix now, although it's certainly not confirmed. We are hopeful to be completed by the third week in June. We anticipate a fall series of 7 events, five are maybe not announced, but firm. And we want to add at least one or maybe two more. So we're in the process of doing that. Hope to have more to say about that in a few weeks.
Q. Tim, is it getting easier or harder to get these two guys to be your captains?
COMMISSIONER TIMOTHY W. FINCHEM: It hasn't been difficult. These guys have been basically since day one, they've both taken the position that they would do anything they could to help the Cup. But you'd have to ask them. I think there was a sense that maybe after the last couple of Cups that we wouldn't be asking them again. But as we asked, they were both very responsive, and we're just delighted that they've agreed to move forward with us.
Q. Is the main reason you went back to them again was your hearing from the players on both teams, and their desire to have them back?
COMMISSIONER TIMOTHY W. FINCHEM: I wouldn't say it's the main reason. As I said, I think the fundamental is what has happened with the Cup, the strength of the Cup, based on the last couple of matches, and what Jack and Gary have had to do with that, that but for their involvement, leadership, we wouldn't have had that much of an impact, not as much. Obviously the matches were great. So I think that is the No. 1. But certainly that the players feel like having these two fellows continue to be very involved with them, involved in the game and the way they handled it's hard to describe. I think the way they created an atmosphere for the teams, it was one of sportsmanship, one where they totally enjoyed the experience, one where the match ups and the pairings were done in such a way that it was met with universal approval by the players. All of that address up to an experience that's very positive. So it's not surprising that the players would be very supportive and certainly that is a factor. But like I said earlier, I thought there were three or four important reasons to try to move in this direction.
Q. Gary, your expectations for this one coming up, you've drawn one and you've lost one to your great rival, Jack Nicklaus. Are you planning to do anything differently in your captaincy style this time around?
GARY PLAYER: We'll have a lot of new players that are excelling on the International list, a lot of very good players and a lot of players knocking at the door. So it's going to be very interesting to see who, A, finishes in the top 10, and B, it's always a very difficult task to pick two players, because there's so many of them that are right there. So I think we have to wait and see before there's a change of style, probably will be, because change is the price of survival. So I think we have to wait and see, because it's a long time away, still.
Q. There was another controversy over Trevor Immelman captain's pick, and the fact that he got a two year exemption on the PGA TOUR. And you've come in with a lot of lambasting from the media around the world for that. Surely a captain's pick should be exactly that, someone that you feel, for whatever reason, should be there. What do you feel about the captain's pick?
GARY PLAYER: As it's the format right now says, it's very self explanatory, that you have a choice of picking two. And Jack might have been under a little criticism, I heard from several players, choosing Freddie Couples. As it happened to turn out Freddie Couples was fantastic. Trevor Immelman is going to be what he is, one of the best players in the world. He's a tremendous golfer as we've seen. I was very happy with the way Trevor played. He played extremely well. I'm very proud of him. So whoever you choose the interesting thing about this format, whoever you choose there are going to be people that like that choice, and people that don't like the choice. But if you can't stand the heat as captain, you shouldn't accept the position.
Q. What are your thoughts on a captain's assistant for next year?
GARY PLAYER: A little early at this stage. The announcement is just being made today. But I must compliment Ian Baker Finch, he was a fantastic captain's assistant. You couldn't have anybody better than Ian. The players really liked him. And he was always at our beck and call, every time we had a meeting, he'd be there, and his wife was very helpful, absolutely an outstanding captain's choice. And I think one day he certainly deserves to be captain of the Presidents Cup one day.
Q. If I could direct my question to both Jack and Gary. I wondered if you heard about the changes going on at Royal Montreal, if you had a chance to discuss that yet with the tournament organizers. And I'm also wondering with The Presidents Cup being played late September, whether you think weather will become a factor?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, first of all, I don't know what the changes have been to Royal Montreal. '75 was the last time I was there. So I'm sure that the trees have grown up since then. Let's see, there have been a lot of bunker shots, so I'm sure they're deeper. And I bet you you've redone the whole golf course, haven't you? They've redone the whole golf course. Weather probably will be a factor in September. And I think weather is always it's always good to have a little weather factor in a game of golf. I think it adds a little spice and uncertainty to what's going on and brings a little excitement to the game.
GARY PLAYER: I endorse everything Jack said. I'll just elaborate on weather. These young golfers are so good, and they do play in all kinds of weather. So it will be exciting to see, because the public likes to see fellows playing to a bit of a breeze when they play these punch shots, because that's what they have to do. Irrespective of the weather, I can assure you it will be a great event.
JAMES CRAMER: As tournament host, Captain Nicklaus has a busy schedule. So we're going to have to end the press conference now. I thank everybody for coming, and look forward to seeing you next September at the Royal Montreal Golf Club. Thank you.
End of FastScripts.