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November 21, 2003

Ian Baker-Finch

Jeff Sluman


Q. Big blow today, Finchy?

IAN BAKER-FINCH: Yeah, the U.S. team just played better. I thought the pairings were good pairings, strong teams on both sides. But sometimes when the other team, or when a team gets the momentum on their side, you really notice, it picks up the rest of the players regardless of how the other side is playing. Just the momentum was on the U.S. team's side this afternoon.

Q. Ernie spoke a little earlier about the fact that he's been looking for a partner to play with and has played particularly well with Adam Scott, and with Tim Clark this morning as well, but are they happy enough to be interchanging like that?

IAN BAKER-FINCH: Oh, yeah, I think both teams are very good. I think the way team and Ernie gelled this morning, I thought they were a great team for four-balls. So Gary and I thought that was an excellent pairing. And I think it's worked out well with Jim Furyk and Jay Haas, I think that's a real good pair to watch a couple U.S. Open champions there. Yeah, that was certainly something we talked about in our team meetings. We didn't want to break Ernie and Adam up tomorrow because of their great finish and way and style for this afternoon. But Tim and Ernie were sensational this morning.

Q. Tim was.

IAN BAKER-FINCH: Tim was unbelievable. Tim played a good game again this afternoon. Even though they unfortunately lost on the last, he played very, very well.

Q. How much has the pressure shifted on to you now or is it still much too early to tell?

IAN BAKER-FINCH: Well, there's 34 points.

Q. Eighteen left.

IAN BAKER-FINCH: Long way to go. We're not halfway there yet. So the momentum is on the U.S. side, especially after a great afternoon, but there's a lot of points still out there. We're happy with the way things have turned out for tomorrow. We've got six games on Saturday, so we're in pretty good shape. We are in good spirits.

No one likes losing four games to one in the afternoon segment there. It's always tough because you take it home and think about it. The guys I'm sure will have a cold beer or a glass of fine red South African wine together. We're all going over to Ernie's house, but it will be over today pretty quickly at Ernie's place, and we'll be in here tomorrow pretty quickly.

Q. When the U.S. put Charlie and Tiger together in the fourth game, did you and Gary purposely throw Singh and Goosen there just for a presentation of Tiger - Vijay?

IAN BAKER-FINCH: We think any time that Tiger and Charles play together, they are a very strong team and they have proven that. We think Vijay Singh and Retief Goosen are a very strong team and they have proven that. So I think that's wonderful match up. It will be a great crowd-pleaser: A local boy and No. 2 in the world playing a young star to come and the No. 1 in the world. So I think that will be a great pairing.

And yes, we were -- to answer your question, we were happy to putt Vijay and Retief against them. As you can tell, that's what we did. We think that's a good matchup.

Q. Having watched these competitions for so long, you're now in the middle of it, can you explain with a goes into the dynamics of making a pairing, Toms and Mickelson were so great at The Belfry last year and they haven't won. Tiger has apparently found a partner that he really enjoys and Charles has complemented him well, and Furyk and Leonard. What goes into the dynamics of that?

JEFF SLUMAN: Well, I mean, as far as Phil and David, I think they absolutely played so well last year at The Belfry. You could tell right from yesterday's opening match, we wanted them out there, and kind of a heartbreaking loss for them. They were 1-up with two to go and end up losing the match. So we put them out again. We just kind of felt like, you know, some years it's going to work and some years it won't.

I don't think there's really any secrets or any magic to putting them together. But as the matches go on, you see who is playing well and you would like to try to keep them together as best we can. You know looking at our match here, Kenny and Davis have been playing wonderfully well, but we put Jerry with them and we're going to keep Jerry with them again and just kind of mixed it up a little bit just sometimes. As we talked about before, guys get a little too familiar. But you do still try to take the hot hand. And four-ball is different than foursomes. There is a distinct different strategy.

Q. I wonder if you could give us some insight on the meeting last night after that they had comeback so strong on the final three holes in those three matches that really turned things; was that a message that came out of last night to do a better job of finishing? We didn't have a transcript; Renee wasn't there last night. It made it difficult on us.

JEFF SLUMAN: Dinner and our meeting?

Q. Yeah.

JEFF SLUMAN: If you would have had the good fortune of walking by, you would have heard a lot of yelling and screaming and everyone laughing and having just a huge time. Really, although, we were disappointed with the way we finished because we thought we had a chance for an outstanding start, nobody was down in the dumps. I think, if anything, after having just a wonderful evening, we had a few games and just everybody kind of cut loose. It really takes a lot of the pressure off. You don't need to be sitting around a dinner table looking at everybody and glum and not willing to talk or anything.

So everybody had a wonderful time. It was just a very unique night. I heard from a lot of players and a lot of wives that was one of the most fun nights they have had in a long, long time and I think that really does help the team out.

Q. Justin was saying he felt a lot of the guys were disappointed and maybe played with a little more -- he used the word angry; I'll interpret that to mean purpose. Do you think there was some carryover from that?

JEFF SLUMAN: We've got 24 wonderful players here and when they get the opportunity to do something, and it's so close, our 12 guys and we didn't quite finish it off yesterday, you know, they are professionals. Of course they are going to try and come through the next day and play a little better than that.

But you have to tip your hat to the International Team. They played those last two and three holes yesterday extremely well. They knew, although we were looking at 5-1, it's human nature to look at the scoreboard yesterday and we ended up with 3 1/2- 2 1/2. It wasn't like we ended up trying to just make a halve out of it and we were down 5-1. It was only a one-point deficit start today. So it wasn't that -- it's always important but it wasn't like a killer momentum. We just figured, you know, we're playing pretty good. They did all the right things in three matches to get two wins and a halve on 18.

We just figured that, not that it was an aberration but that we were going to go out and play well the last couple of holes and we were able to do that.

Q. Given that, Finchy, I wonder if you could just assess after three sessions; and you guys had the nice finish yesterday can you size up how this U.S. team is playing, and are your backs against the wall a little bit because of that?

IAN BAKER-FINCH: As I said, we are not even halfway there yet. Even though we'll be feeling, as I said, we'll be feeling a little bit down for this hour. A few of the guys went out to hit putts. A few of the guys just went and had a stretch or a work-out. A couple of guys went to hit some balls. I'm sure Vijay is probably still out there.

We had a real good meeting picking the teams. Gary and I really wanted to get everyone's feelings and a lot of honesty came out and a lot of help from teammates. A lot of guys that have been -- Vijay and Nick have been here, as Davis, at every one of the Presidents Cups. This is their fifth one. So they help out with what we were thinking along the lines. I think that gives a lot more good feeling about tomorrow to those players; that we put a lot of thought and time into these pairings. Everyone is really happy.

It was like, yeah, we kind of reminded each other about times that he played well together. Leaney and Lonard said we used play a practice round together every Tuesday for five years in Europe. They know each other's games. There was almost in that first half hour a lot of positives about tomorrow, rather than, where did we mess up this afternoon. The U.S. team played great golf this afternoon.

Q. What do you mean when there was a lot of honesty, what do you mean by that?

IAN BAKER-FINCH: Just guys saying who they really thought were good teams as far as who they gelled well with who, and they thought other players gelled well with. And that comes out in team meetings. It's like: "I love ya, like a brother," but I think you are actually better suited to him, and I think I am better suited there perhaps. And obviously then there's guys that just sit back and wait, the team guys, the all-arounders they will just sit back and wait and see how it pans out. You also have to give a lot of thought on who you think your strong two or three teams are and make sure everyone is comfortable with that.

Take the momentum of today and how they played today. There was a couple of good teams out there today that didn't do well. We wanted to give them the opportunity to say, well, maybe we're not as good of a team as we thought. Maybe we should mix it up.

Same thing, you guys changed a couple of teams around.


IAN BAKER-FINCH: And you stuck with Haas and Furyk, they had a 6&5 win this morning in four-ball.

JEFF SLUMAN: Justin and Chris, same thing.

Q. Was there anyone that was particularly vocal about who they wanted to play with that surprised you?

IAN BAKER-FINCH: Yeah, well, I don't want it to sound like it was "no, don't put him with him, I want him." There was none of that. But there was a couple of guys that said we really, and we all knew, why would you break up Ernie and Tim or Ernie and Adam? That was a given, that Tim was going to play with Ernie, or Adam was going to play with Ernie. And we discussed it all and tried to figure who Adam was bet suited to or who Tim was better suited if Tim left. Sometimes you have the hardest choices to make when there's options. And Ernie, obviously Ernie and anyone is a good team but sometimes it doesn't work.

Any of the guys with experience, Pricey is a great team, Pricey and Apples, they are just a great team together. I think they won, I cannot remember where right now, I have so much going through my head. I think they won in Australia and I think they won again in Washington as a team, so they are a good team. They will joke you to death anyway, those two.

Q. What are you guys doing tonight?

JEFF SLUMAN: We're just having a team dinner again. Jack and Gary are at the -- as you know, why we're here, they are at the Gala with all of the Presidents in the tuxedos. So we are just -- Gary's hosting your guys and I'm hosting you guys.

Q. Are you going to crash Ernie's house?

JEFF SLUMAN: Don't know where it is.

IAN BAKER-FINCH: There was nearly going to being a dual thing but there was too many people.

Q. Everyone inside the ropes was coming, too?

IAN BAKER-FINCH: It was going to be everybody coming but it was just going to be too many.

Q. He said his house was big enough but not true.

IAN BAKER-FINCH: I haven't been there.

Q. One of the great oddities in this game is Tiger has won only one of his last ten four-ball matches in Ryder and Presidents Cup, can you make any rhyme or reason out of that?

JEFF SLUMAN: All I can say is, quite honestly, any time Tiger Woods tees it up, I'm surprised if he doesn't win, or I'm surprised if he losses, whether it's Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup, or any golf tournament. He's that good to me.

And I think we could all retire if we were to place that bet in Vegas two and a half years ago that he could possibly go, what is it, 0-9 or 0-10.

Q. 1-9.

JEFF SLUMAN: There's no rhyme or reason. I can't even -- couldn't fathom a guess. It's just golf.

IAN BAKER-FINCH: You know, if I could add something to that, Jeff, one of the toughest things is that I think everyone always holds their strongest team to play against Tiger and his partner. So no one is ever going to say: Well, we are going to put our two guys that are not feeling to good against Tiger.

I think just about everyone is going to go, well, we are going to put out the toughest team out. So poor old Tiger whoever he's with, Charles each day, but I would say he's out there every day against the toughest twosome.

JEFF SLUMAN: The international players, the top players, we know who they are, I'm sure Gary has asked them: "If I could get you this match, do you want it?" And they had better say yeah. So, I mean, like you said --

IAN BAKER-FINCH: Ernie had him yesterday afternoon and Vijay has got them tomorrow.

JEFF SLUMAN: The course is going to face the toughest opponents all the time. That would be the only, certainly not an explanation or anything but I mean he's -- no matter what, you're going to face stiff competition. But he's usually facing the No. 1 or the No. 2 guy.

Q. And they are going to be extra-motivated playing against the No. 1 guy.

JEFF SLUMAN: My football analysis like Florida State, everybody pins that in the ACC on that: "That's the game we want to win."

Q. They used to, anyway.

JEFF SLUMAN: Hey. Ouch, ouch, ouch.

Q. If you'd covered this event on television, you obviously would see every shot that was hit and have a very good idea how everyone is playing. In your situation here, you're just out there and there's a lot of cross-talk, but you don't see everything in your mind. So getting back to what we were just talking about, you really have rely on the players because you might want to see them play 4 out of 16 or 18 holes; how does that entire process work?

IAN BAKER-FINCH: It's very difficult.

JEFF SLUMAN: We've got 12 players, and they have been very candid with me on this or that, or I'm playing well or I'm struggling a little bit. I had a player come up to me yesterday and just say: "You know, I'm really, really playing well and I don't know what you have planned for me on Friday morning but I really think I should play.: I mean, as an assistant captain, then I go to Captain Nicklaus God that's a great thing to be able to tell him, "this player is playing great." You just want the honesty, don't you, Ian?

IAN BAKER-FINCH: Yes, and as you say, it is difficult to know exactly how they are playing. They have to be honest with you. You're not canvassing remarks from caddies and other players, but you take them in when they are given to you.

It's a difficult format to get out and watch a lot of golf, and this type of course makes it even more difficult for us to get around and see a lot of golf. We have to take carts because we might have to get back to a match or get to a ruling or get somewhere. It's difficult as Jeff can attest to. So we're not seeing enough, and therefore, we have to rely on the guys to come and tell us what's going on, their partners.

There's a lot of -- that's the assistant. This is a fun role and certainly one where we are learning a lot of trade secrets. Sometimes it's hard to put them forward in a politically correct way to get what you want, but at that same time it's a team effort and that's why the meeting today was so important. We talked about the honesty factor. It wasn't just Gary and I going on gut feeling. It was really one of, hey, listen, this or that, not so good, better, he's not so good with me, that sort of thing.

You're right, if you're watching it on TV, probably people sitting in the clubhouse here today saw more golf shots than I did. I'm there to support the team, be there, sit in a position early on, so as they all go by, if they have got on issue, they can come to me, they can see me, I've got to be visible. But at the same time, I want to stay away, so if they don't need me I'm not in their way. Right?

JEFF SLUMAN: It's an interesting -- that's an interesting position we're in. But it's been a tremendous amount of fun for me and like Ian said, a learning experience. I think both of us as players, we certainly would like to be playing out there, but without that right now, I mean, being an assistant captain to Jack and Gary has been just absolutely fantastic.

IAN BAKER-FINCH: Great experience. A lot of fun.

Q. This morning on the first, Tiger was about to play his tee shot and stopped and started holding his wrist, has he got any problems with that wrist?

JEFF SLUMAN: Nothing. No problem.

End of FastScripts.

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