|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
August 13, 2007
LAURA NEAL: Good morning, thank you for joining us. This is Laura Neal director of communications for Presidents Cup and PGA TOUR Championship Management. Welcome to today's announcement of the captain's selection for the 2007 Presidents Cup team.
The ten automatic qualifiers were determined last night following the PGA Championship. For the International Team in order of qualifying: Ernie Els, Adam Scott, Vijay Singh, Geoff Ogilvy, K.J. Choi, Rory Sabbatini, Retief Goosen, Trevor Immelman, Angel Cabrera and Stuart Appleby.
And for the U.S. Team: Tiger woods, Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson, Zach Johnson, Charles Howell III, Scott Verplank, David Toms, Steve Stricker, Stewart Cink and Woody Austin.
Now to round out their 12-man teams, we'd like to welcome international Captain Gary Player and Captain Jack Nicklaus who will each make two captain collection. Afterwards we'll open the phone lines for questions from the media.
Captain Player, you have the honor of making your selection first. Captain Player joining us from his home is identify. Mr. Player, your first selection.
GARY PLAYER: Laura, I thank you very much. I have chosen Nick O'Hern.
He's been a very steady player for the last couple of years. He's been right there in the Top-10 all the time. He only just finished out of the Top-10 recently by a fraction. He's a very good match player, and I'm not incorrect, I hope I'm not incorrect, I think he's played Tiger twice already and beaten him, which is a big feather in his cap to beat such an incredible golfer, and he's a good team member. He's also had experience in the Presidents Cup, and I think obviously experience is always -- it's not necessarily the only thing, but it's always a good thing, anyway. So, I'm delighted to have Nick on the team.
LAURA NEAL: Thank you Captain Player. That is Nick O'Hern as the first pick for the International Team.
I'd now like to ask Captain Jack Nicklaus, who is joining us from Florida, to announce his first selection.
CAPTAIN JACK NICKLAUS: Okay. My first selection is Lucas Glover.
Lucas has been in the Top-10 for the last two years, basically, and only with Woody Austin's finish yesterday did it bump him out of it. And I felt Lucas's play over the last couple of years deserved to be picked. He's been on the verge of making teams the last couple of teams and delighted to have him.
LAURA NEAL: Congratulations to Lucas Glover as the first pick for the U.S. Team.
Now, Captain Player, please share your second selection.
CAPTAIN GARY PLAYER: Mike Weir is my second selection.
Mike, as we know, won the Masters, and has been a very, very good player throughout the years, very, very good match player. Even though he didn't finish in the Top-10, you know, it's a different story when you're playing match play and medal. And Mike is a real -- he's a terrific competitor. He's really a fighter, and I've got tremendous confidence in him. He's a wonderful -- you couldn't ask to have a better team member than Mike. If you don't put him in, he doesn't sulk. If you put him in, he always says he's willing to play anybody. As a captain, you know, it's always a difficult position because you can't satisfy everybody, even though you're trying your best. But he is a terrific team member.
And being played in Canada, if we didn't have a Canadian in the team in my team and playing in Canada, I can assure you in my opinion only, the series would be quite flat amongst the Canadian people. Mike is a hero in his country, deservedly so. And I'm sure the Canadian people are going to be relieved, because I continuously had questions every week: "Are you putting Mike, are you putting him in?" And I said, we have to wait till the end obviously.
And so I'm really thrilled about having Mike in. It's going to enhance the event in Canada, and as we know, the Presidents Cup is going from strength to strength. And we played, if you think about it, plus or minus 1,022 holes, and we've lost by one hole, and Ernie Els didn't play in the last match. So it could have been a tie again.
LAURA NEAL: Thank you, Captain Player. That's Mike Weir who is the second pick for the International Team.
And finally, Captain Nicklaus, please announce your second selection.
CAPTAIN JACK NICKLAUS: My second selection is Hunter Mahan. Hunter has come a long way in the last year or so. I mean, early this year, Hunter was 200-some in the World Rankings and wasn't eligible to play at the Masters, and then came along and finished in the Top 20 in the last three majors with a sixth place finish in the British Open. And if there's been a player who has played better from -- a young player who has played better in last six months, I don't know who it is, but he's played very, very well and we're delighted to have Hunter join our team.
LAURA NEAL: Thank you to both captains.
Before we open up to questions, I do want to let the media know that we have all four captain's selections on the line, Nick O'Hern, Mike Weir for the International Team, and Lucas Glover and Hunter Mahan for the U.S. Team. They are both available for questions from the media, as well. So if we can go ahead and open the line for questions.
Q. Mike, congratulations. I know it's been very important for you to play on this team, and were you on any sort of pins and needles the last couple of weeks? There's not much you could do better than try to play your way on the team, but as far as this part of it goes.
MIKE WEIR: Yeah, it was tough the last couple of weeks, because I ran into obviously a little bit of bad luck with pulling a bit of a neck muscle at Firestone. It was bad timing. Didn't want to be, you know, hampered by that the last couple of weeks, but that's the way it WAS. I knew I had been playing well the last couple of weeks leading into that, so it was unfortunate.
So it was kind of tough to wait these last couple of weeks. I've always thought highly of the Presidents Cup, enjoyed playing the last three, and thought it was just such a great competition; and being in Canada, I wanted to play badly. You know, I felt like sometimes maybe I was trying too hard. So now that Gary has named me a selection, hopefully I can relax a little bit more and play some really good golf leading into the Presidents Cup. So I'm really relieved.
Q. Gary, was there ever any consideration given to Stephen Ames as a Canadian?
CAPTAIN GARY PLAYER: Well, it was very, very close, actually, and he played so well in the PGA. It looked to be, actually the way we worked it out, he had to finish in the top four, which I actually thought he would do the way he was playing. If he finished fourth solo, he would have got into the Top-10. Unfortunately, he didn't have a very good last round.
But obviously, you know, everybody was on my mind. It's a very difficult thing to select a team. You've got a lot of people there that will -- when they hear the selections, they will say, 'I felt I deserved to play and I didn't get in,' and that's part of the game. But there are a lot of players that we had to really -- and I watched them every single week. I got a rundown every single week if I was out of the country travelling in some other-world country and was kept up-to-date. I gave it a lot of thought.
Q. How much confidence do you feel having Ernie Els on the team this year?
CAPTAIN GARY PLAYER: Well, it makes a very big difference. Last time Ernie was not able to play, and he's my No. 1 player. He's No. 1 on the list. And so it was a great disappointment because, you know, Jack and I really enjoyed the great competition, and the Presidents Cup has been such a great example to people around the world. These players have all been so fantastic, the American and International players. They have all behaved so well. It was played -- it's always been played in the true spirit of the game, which Jack and I insisted on and asked our players on, which they obviously would do.
So, it's become so popular. It's just very, very exciting for me to be coming to Canada. And I know Jack feels the same. It's going to be a great event. And to have Ernie on the team now makes a very big difference, because if you're not playing with your best man, it's hard to win. But it's still been such a great series, and I've enjoyed every moment of it.
Q. Jack, a question about a player who made the team on points, Steve Stricker. He played his way out of a slump that has ruined a lot of other players. What do you think of his comeback and the state of his game and what do you expect of him in Canada?
CAPTAIN JACK NICKLAUS: Steve has actually played very, very well this year as you know. He's come a long way. I've followed Steve quite a bit when he was in college because he was playing against my son, Gary, a lot. They sort of were playing at the same time, so I saw him play a lot of golf and I thought he had great potential. And he started out well on the TOUR, and then had a slump there for a couple of years and now has worked his way back.
He's obviously playing with confidence, and I was just delighted to see him come. He's always been a guy that I've watched very closely and rooted for, and I'm delighted to see him make the team and doing well.
Q. I'm sure that Woody Austin is a very emotional player, and I'm wondering what you think he'll bring to the team, please.
CAPTAIN JACK NICKLAUS: Emotion. I don't know whether Woody will bring golf or bang himself in the head. You never know what Woody might do. I watched with great interest yesterday, watching Woody finish, and he came down the stretch and he played some great golf. He played great all during the PGA and he has had several good tournaments this year.
Woody has never had international competition. I believe Woody is around 43 years old I think, and for your first time, it's great. I made a comment, I don't have a lot of international experience on this team. I have three or four guys that have played one time and if I think -- let's see, what do I have -- I three guys that have never played.
But you know, you've got to get experience somewhere. And the only way you get experience is to play. I think we've got some very good players, some guys -- and all I've ever said is I want 12 guys who want to play. And I promise you, the three guys who have not had any international experience want to play. So that's great. I'm looking forward to having them on the team. And I think that Woody and Hunter and Lucas will bring great enthusiasm and we're delighted -- I told them last night, delighted to give you some experience, but we want you to play well with it.
Q. Lucas, I know you were a little disappointed yesterday afternoon when you knew that Woody had knocked you from that 10th spot. Can you talk about how long you had to sit on pins and needles and when you found out and what it means to you? And sort of the same question for Hunter, as well.
LUCAS GLOVER: Obviously I was watching the board pretty close yesterday. There were a lot of guys that were there that were playing great. You know, I knew Woody was going to -- was probably going to bump me so I just kind of, you know, just said, well, maybe I'll get picked this year. I had kind of the same situation last year, wasn't near as close. But yeah, it was pretty nerve-wracking.
And then I was flying home and Mr. Nicklaus called me when I was in the Atlanta airport, and we talked and obviously I was very excited and very honored to play for him and play for my country. But you know, looking forward to the next couple of weeks and trying to play well leading up to the Presidents Cup. So, very excited to say the least.
Q. Hunter, can you just talk about getting picked?
HUNTER MAHAN: It's been a pretty hectic summer for me. It wasn't even really in my sights a couple of months ago. But you know, I've been playing so well; I've kind of been thinking about it a little bit more and more. But I've just been trying to play one tournament at a time and not really worry about it too much and just try to let the chips fall where they may.
I wasn't too concerned about it since I was kind of always the opposite of Lucas; he was inside the whole time, and I was on the outside the whole time and was trying to earn my way on. If I didn't earn my way on, I wasn't going to worry about it and hope to get picked.
So, I'm very, very excited and really looking forward to the opportunity that Mr. Nicklaus has given me.
Q. There's so little match-play competition in college these days, wondering whether you guys have actually made enough formal match-play competition before.
LUCAS GLOVER: For me, the last one was in Tucson for the WGC where Nick O'Hern dusted me off pretty handily. Before that, I played the Walker Cup in amateur golf, and let's see, after that, that's about it.
But, you know, it's still golf. I mean, there's some little nuances here and there. But we'll have a few days to prepare with the team, and those guys that have played a little bit more can maybe help us out.
But yeah, there's not a lot of match play in the U.S. like there is in Europe and the rest of the world. But it's still golf, and you have to hit good shots and make putts. Try to pick up some tips from the guys that have done it a lot or done it more than we have.
HUNTER MAHAN: Yeah, the last time was the U.S. Amateur, '02 I think, and I lost to Ricky Barnes in the final. So, I've had some success in match play. I really enjoy it. It's kind of fun. I think it's obviously different from stroke-play golf, but you know, I really, really enjoy just kind of, one hole is done, you go to the next hole and try to win that one. It just has a lot more -- it has like a fast pace, and it's a lot more exciting I think.
Q. Jack, obviously two young guys with no experience in international cup competition; did that give you pause at all or were you trying to infuse some new blood in there?
CAPTAIN JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I had -- and I go through my thought process a little, that obviously I had to think of whether I wanted to have experience or youth.
Unfortunately my experience was not playing particularly well, and when you start looking at the guys, they didn't -- they all basically missed the cut at the PGA. Guys I were looking at, saying, well, if my experience is going to play, they have to be playing well at the end of the year and they didn't.
You know, I started coming down to it and I started to confer with Jeff Sluman on it, my assistant, and we kept talking about it. Maybe the only way guys get experience is get to play. So, we both came up to the conclusion that we would pick two young guys, give them an opportunity. You know, it's not just this Presidents Cup. These guys have got a big future in front of them and give them an opportunity to play, why should next time be the first time they play. Maybe Gary will have a little bit more advantage on the experience side, but hopefully we'll be able to match that with some enthusiasm.
Q. I wonder if Jack tosses Tiger's name out there on Sunday, with your selection process, would you think about throwing Nick back at him? And Nick, how would you feel about another shot at Tiger in match play?
CAPTAIN GARY PLAYER: You're talking about the man who is a phenomenal athlete and a phenomenal golfer. I mean, I have such great admiration for Tiger Woods. He can actually not be playing his best and still score phenomenally well and that's what Jack Nicklaus did, and that's what all champions, every superstar that I've seen in my life. And I haven't even an awful lot of superstars, but all of the superstars I ever saw in my life could play badly and score well. Whoever plays Tiger Woods is in for a very, very difficult match to say the least.
But last year, Retief Goosen played him and beat him. Nick O'Hern, as I say, I think has played him twice, I'm not 100% sure of that and has beaten him on both occasions. But the odds are of anybody beating Tiger, are remote. But it does happen. Golf is a very humbling game and it's a game that has crippled more people than any disease I know of. This game is so tough. It knocks you down a peg or two. I don't know, Tiger is just so good.
And what was the other part of your question?
Q. For Nick, how would Nick feel about another crack at Tiger, seeing if he can make it three in a row?
CAPTAIN GARY PLAYER: I'd have to speak with Nick. You know, when you get together with your team, we've got to sit down and say: Is there any one of you that would like to play Tiger, or would you like me to pick a man to play Tiger. We discuss this with our team, and that will be done during the event.
Q. Nick, how would you feel about that?
NICK O'HERN: Yeah, I'd obviously love another crack at Tiger. We've had two great matches before and I've been fortunate enough to get past him. He's the No. 1 player in the world for a reason, and I think everyone would love to have a -- would love to have that challenge of playing him. I mean, that's why we play the game is to play against the best players in the world. I know Gary and Jack loved playing against their best opponents, and I obviously feel the same.
On a different note, I'd love to thank Gary again for the compliment of picking me. It just a wonderful compliment that he can put his faith in me and hopefully I can contribute to the team. I feel as though I've been in there all along and to be knocked out at the end was a little bit tough, but it was a nice phone call to get knowing that I made the team.
Q. Curious how much thought you gave to (Andres) Romero and his language compatibility with the big duck there.
CAPTAIN GARY PLAYER: Yes, a lot of consideration, because he's actually been a little bit unlucky. He had to do the last two holes, play the last two holes at the Open Championship to tie for the tournament and he had a bogey, and one of the holes he had to par, he had to play them at 1-over to win. And then he went along and won on The European Tour, played well over in the United States, and then he was -- I think he was lying 10th and then missed the cut at the PGA which -- I gave him a lot of thought, because I like to pick guys that are on the up.
But I just felt that he's very young and he'll have a lot of opportunities to play in the future. And I just think that Nick is such a very, very good match player, has had the experience of playing in the Presidents Cup, and I placed that ahead. My decision was obviously very close because they had both been doing very well. Nick has been there all the time -- it's only a fraction of a point when you look at what he was knocked out by. But he has been there all the time. And so that was my decision.
But obviously I had to give that an awful lot of thought because he's a very, very fine young golfer, and he came within a fraction of automatically being in the Top-10, a fraction. So I feel sorry for the fact that he just didn't make the cut, and also just bogeyed, or had that bogey spree at the Open Championship. But he's young and he'll have many chances to lay in the future.
Q. What's the provision in terms of an injury? You can obviously replace the man on the team, do you already have an alternate in mind in the event it did happen? And secondly, have you already agreed that if it's a tie at the end of singles play, you will forego any kind of playoff?
CAPTAIN JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know how to answer that. I have not had an alternate at this point in time. We will certainly consider that as time goes on.
Secondly, the rules of the Captain's Agreement, if it's a tie, it's a tie. It stays that way.
CAPTAIN GARY PLAYER: Does that not apply anymore? If there was talk about if there was one fellow injured, you could have your captain play, does that not apply anymore? I mean, your assistant captain?
CAPTAIN JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know. I think you and I, Gary, have the option to take alternate of whomever we want.
CAPTAIN GARY PLAYER: Yes, well, okay,.
CAPTAIN JACK NICKLAUS: Hopefully we're not having that situation.
CAPTAIN GARY PLAYER: No, I hope not. That was terrible not having Ernie Els play last time. But anyway, let's hope had a that doesn't happen and they are all young and fit guys, so I'm sure they will be okay.
Q. Nick, your teammate make Mike Weir said that one of the things he misses about PGA TOUR golf is the lack of any team golf, growing up playing hockey in Canada, that sort of a thing. Did you play any team sports when you were younger and have you ever had that feeling yourself when you miss that team element, playing week after week, 72 holes of stroke play?
NICK O'HERN: Yeah, you're right, I do miss that. I used to play baseball quite a lot as a youngsters. That was one of my favorite sports and I thought about giving that a go, but I'm glad I made the decision to play golf to be honest.
The last Presidents Cup, I got to partner with Tim Clark and Peter Lonard, and you know, we had a great time out there. It's just a whole different feeling when you've got someone there who is sort of, I guess, guarding your back and really wants you to do well. Normally it's just you and your caddie out there, but to have the whole -- to have your partner out there, and also to have your other 11 teammates can your captains and whatnot, it's a great feeling. I do wish there was more of it, but unfortunately the way the schedule is, it's just not going to happen.
Q. The American Team has had a pretty good run here in there, but you are facing a team that has 11 of the top 26 players in the world, as well as Mike Weir on it. Can you just talk about the challenge that you will be faced with this time in?
CAPTAIN JACK NICKLAUS: I know that Gary has got a very, very strong team. The game has, you know, grown tremendously internationally as you well know. If you start to look at the game around the world, it's no longer an American-dominated game. It's a game that the world dominates and I think that's great for the game of golf.
However, this is a match of America versus the rest of the world other than Europe, and we know that we've got a good team against us, but I know that we've also got a bunch of good players on our side who are very proud to be Americans and proud to play for their country and I'm sure that we'll have a good match.
Q. Nick, I assume you're still renting the place down in Florida. I'm wondering whether you've had occasion to run into Tiger out there on the range or in the locker rooms or whatever while you're down there.
NICK O'HERN: We're living in the same estate down there. Yeah, I see him from time to time out on the driving range. We sort of go about our business. He's pretty intense when he practices and I kind of leave him alone, and I guess vice versa. We get along just fine. There's no problem there. Probably a good thing I don't play with him because then I'd probably found out how really good he is.
Q. Lucas, as I recall, I think you even added last week, Reno-Tahoe to your schedule, unlike Hunter, who this all sort of came about in a very short period of time because of the way he played over the summer; you've sort of been pointing to this, well, actually since before the Ryder Cup last year to get on one of these teams. Wondering about if you could comment on how much it means to you and the lengths you went to secure this spot on the team this year.
LUCAS GLOVER: Yeah, unfortunately I wasn't in Akron, and, you know, that's my fault. I didn't play my way there.
I was the only guy in the top 19 not in this field and sitting 10th, I figured, those guys don't have a cut. So the guys behind me are guaranteed a check, so I had to do something to try to combat that and hold my position leading into the PGA and hope to have a good week there.
And I played okay out there. I played pretty well the first day and the last day in the wind, but if I had something in the middle, might have been a little better. But I felt like it was something I had to do, No. 1, to play well and keep place; and No. 2 to show Mr. Nicklaus and Slu and these guys that I was dedicated to make the team and that I would go out there and play.
You know, it's something I felt like I needed to do and I needed to play well. For the most part, I did that. So that's what I played and you know, a week off leading into the PGA and the FedExCup and all that might have been nice, but one of my main goals this year was playing on this team and it's something I felt like I needed to do.
LAURA NEAL: Thank you to all our participants. We will be posting transcripts to PresidentsCup.com later this morning. Like to thank both captains, and congratulations to the captain's picks and we will see you next month at Royal Montreal.
End of FastScripts