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September 26, 2007

Jack Nicklaus

Gary Player


LAURA NEAL: Thank you all for joining us. We'll start with the international teams since you had the first pick, Captain Player. Would you like to tell us about your first match up?
GARY PLAYER: Jack had the first pick and deferred it so we didn't have the first pick. Ian Baker-Finch and I definitely agreed irrespective of what happened of whether we had the first pick or Jack went ahead and used his first pick, we were putting Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy together so we were very happy with the way it worked out.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, Gary put a very strong team out. We knew that. I think that outside of Tiger, I think the two fellas that probably are playing about as good of golf as there is in the world, as well as anybody is playing in the world today is Stricker and Mahan. I think they are both itching to get out and play, and so that's why we put them there. Thought it would be a good match, and we'd have a young guy with some experience there and we did that.
And I followed it up with Phil and Woody. They have been wanting to play together and they said they both wanted to play together, so that's what we did. We put them together and we threw him out there for Gary.
GARY PLAYER: We put in Mike Weir and Vijay because we know how popular Mike Weir is and we wanted a lot of screams to be coming up whether he was making putts or not. That's been a good combination. Vijay is pretty long off the tee, and Mike's swinging really well at the moment. He's made a few changes in his swing and is doing extremely well and they just liked the idea of playing together and we thought it was a good combination in a foursomes.

Q. Gary, just on putting out Adam and Geoff, do you think of them as maybe your best team in terms of how they are playing and why, how excited you feel they are to be playing together?
GARY PLAYER: It's very hard to say what the best team is because you have Ernie Els who has led the points system regularly and he's been No. 1, and Angel Cabrera is extremely confident at the moment and playing beautiful golf.
But Adam and Geoff really wanted to play together, and they both are playing extremely well. I think Adam Scott's got one of the great golf swings of the world today. He's impressive, and obviously Geoff, U.S. Open Champion, very straight hitter. I think this is a week where straight hitting is not going to pay off like a U.S. Open or British Open. I think length this week is a great asset, because the rough is not bad at all. They both wanted to play together and watched them today and I think that's a very good team.
Just really walking around with it today convinced us that they should go together.
JACK NICKLAUS: Why don't you let us skip pairings and let us answer questions, is that all right? Let's get the pairings right and we'll get questions up and down. Let us get our thing out and then maybe you can ask anywhere you want to ask.
LAURA NEAL: Absolutely.
GARY PLAYER: The reason we put Rory and Trevor Immelman together is that they played in the World Cup together and did extremely well. And they have been chosen to represent South Africa this year, so they have played a lot of golf together and also the World Cup, which has changed considerably, foursomes comes into the event, and it was a natural. It was just a natural for them to play together.
JACK NICKLAUS: And we decided not to take the bait.
GARY PLAYER: (Laughing).
JACK NICKLAUS: Stewart and Zach have been wanting to play together, and we knew that a good, solid calm team would be a good one to put in there.
And then put that with David Toms and Jim Furyk, who are two pretty solid players who don't play too badly. So I just put them out.
GARY PLAYER: We sort of, nothing worse than -- Winston Churchill said he never got indigestion from saying the wrong thing because we all do it. We just put Ernie Els in and Angel Cabrera play, strong team.
Angel Cabrera I saw him hit a drive today on No. 12, the par 5. He must have hit an 8-iron. He is oozing with confidence, but that's a help to be confident. I'd rather see a man who is confident than negative.
Ernie's played very well the last few tournaments, so we just felt that it was a natural, and Ernie can understand him very well and I think he has respect for Ernie and so we thought that was a good team.
And the last one just happened.
IAN BAKER-FINCH: We put out Stewart and Retief. That was our next. We put them out first.
GARY PLAYER: Pardon me, we did, yes. We put those two out. Retief is playing a lot better now, and Stuart Appleby is feeling confident. That was Ian's suggestion, which I liked very much indeed.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, obviously when we only had two teams left and I had my pick of whether I wanted to put Tiger and Howell, or Glover and Verplank again them or wanted Tiger and Howell to play Choi and O'Hern, which is the way it was going to work. And Jeff and I selected that we thought we would put Glover and Verplank together and put them against Appleby and Goosen.
We thought that Charles and Tiger, I think that they played together in South Africa, won their matches down there. I know Choi is playing very, very well, and O'Hern, also. We think it will be a good match.
You know, Nick has beaten Tiger in singles twice.
GARY PLAYER: Big difference in foursomes.
JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah, I know.
GARY PLAYER: And big difference on the golf course.
JACK NICKLAUS: Anyway, that was my thinking.
GARY PLAYER: You want to come and pick the team? You're welcome to come and help us. (Chuckling).
JACK NICKLAUS: We all look at it and we say, those are all good match-ups. Those are all tough matches, for both sides, and that's the way it's supposed to be.
GARY PLAYER: And I think you have to tell your team, one of the things I've said, is that it doesn't matter who you play. To try and work out these things and to try to work out who is going to play whom is impossible, because they might want Adam Scott and Geoff to play somebody, and it doesn't work that way. You put their names up and Jack puts another name far from it.
So whoever you play, you're going to have a tough match.

Q. Jack and Gary, now that you see the other's list, did you anticipate those type of pairings, Jack, that Gary put out and Gary, that Jack presented to yourself? Talk about the chess match.
JACK NICKLAUS: I think we pretty well knew the guys who would be playing. And you know, we probably -- we get around to Friday and we'll probably, you know, flip it in all directions. Gary might do the same, and we don't know. We just said that, we anticipate, I guess Gary probably anticipated what we had, too, because that's what we've been practicing.
GARY PLAYER: Correct. I think we both walked away from the table both very happy, which is nice.
GARY PLAYER: Really the most important thing, and this is something that Jack and I put a lot of effort into from the time we were chosen as captains, we managed to -- obviously you want to win, but go out and have some fun and we're trying to really -- this event here can give Canada such a boost with the number of young people that are coming along. I heard an amazing stat last night; I can only repeat what I heard that Canada has probably more people playing golf per capita than anywhere else, 20 percent. It was really amazing to hear that.
And Canada, really, I believe this event, thanks to you people, as well, and thanks to having all of these top players in the world and an exciting event like this with the coverage is going to give Canada a great boost for a lot of people just like it did in South Africa when you had in that particular time, we played at the Million Dollar, we had the two leading players in the world were both black, something that had never had in the history of golf, coming to South Africa, my country, where we have the majority. It was such an exciting thing for our cunning kids leaving in Soweto watching a TV set seeing that their dream can be fulfilled seeing Vijay Singh and Tiger Woods being champion.
I think one of the most amazing statements in which I was delighted to here is my friend, Jack Nicklaus, who has had enormous success and handled it in an extremely gentlemanly manner and to say that the greatest moment of his golf career was the Presidents Cup in South Africa. Now that's pretty significant.
So this event I really believe is playing a very vital role in not being played in the same place all the time, not just between two countries, it's going to different parts of the world and fulfilling a vital role in golf. Especially when you see 3 million coming into the United States and 3 million going out, we want to see the game grow and where it's going to grow is globally. America has had massive growth, it's a little on the decline at the moment, but the massive growth is going to be international now.
Obviously the manufacturers making clubs and shirts and balls are going to be the benefactors and golf is going to come out I think smelling like a rose in the time to come.

Q. Was there some strategic manufacturing in place related to course management and making sure that the two lefties faced each other in match two?
GARY PLAYER: Never even thought of it. Never even came across my mind. The little golf ball doesn't know whether you're a lefty or a righty.
JACK NICKLAUS: Interesting thought.
GARY PLAYER: Very interesting.
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't know what it means, but it was an interesting thought. (Laughter).
IAN BAKER-FINCH: You probably get more out of these press conferences if Gary and I came in first and Jack and Jeff came in second because we're hesitant to say too much in front of our opponents and maybe they are hesitant to say anything in front of us.
JACK NICKLAUS: How many lefties do you have? Two?
GARY PLAYER: Three, Mike Weir, O'Hern and --
JACK NICKLAUS: No, you have two. We have Phil. We only have one.

Q. Two lefties then.
JACK NICKLAUS: They are dominant. (Laughter).
GARY PLAYER: It's really nice. Actually that's a tremendous question you're asking here. If we could have three lefties playing in the same foursome, that would really get some comment. And there are a lot of people who are wanting to play left-handed whose coaches are persuading them not to be left-handers.
I think Bob Charles, who it's debatable if he isn't the best left-hander that ever lived, debatable if you ever look at the record book, as good as anybody; I'm just saying Bob Charles and Phil have won majors, it's terrific.
And how about Mike Weir also winning the Masters. So it's encouraging for a lot of lefties who want to start.
What about your coach, is he against playing left or did he want to turn them to right? Most coaches I went to did.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I think that you have a lot of fellas, I think Phil and Charles are right-handed and both play left-handed. Hogan was left-handed and played right-handed.

Q. Sergio is left-handed.
GARY PLAYER: David Graham.
JACK NICKLAUS: Sergio is left-handed?
So depends whether you like to play right-handed or left-handed, whether you're right-handed or left-handed we like to switch them around and keep them together or move them around or whatever they like to do or whatever it is is fine, which meant nothing. That's what I'm trying to say. (Laughter).
Let's move on to the next subject.
GARY PLAYER: What we are saying is that in the old days most coaches prevented you from playing left-handed and today they are not doing anything.
LAURA NEAL: See, that was an interesting comment apparently.

Q. I'm wondering, Tiger and Charles, say versus Tiger and Furyk, is that player preference or your preference or what was the flavour there?
JACK NICKLAUS: I think that Tiger would like to play with Furyk. I think he would like to play with two or three other guys, also. I think that Tiger and Charles played well in South Africa. I think Charles has in a bit of a bump since then, bumpy rode and he needs some help from somebody and I think Tiger is the guy to give it to him. I think that Charles has probably played not as strong as some of the other guys through the last half of the year this year. And so I felt like if somebody was going to pull Charles up, it would be Tiger. And so that was the reason for that.
After that, my guess is it will be switched off but I want to get Charles off to a good start if possible.

Q. Kind of along those lines, Charles mentioned that you kind of stuck it to him pretty good in Boston telling him he needed some lessons.
JACK NICKLAUS: Needed to what?

Q. At the team meeting, "Congratulations to the players and Charles, we need to get you some lessons."
JACK NICKLAUS: Oh, that had nothing to do with that -- that Charles was just asking me about, he says, how long you staying around? I said, "No, you could probably use some lessons."

Q. I just use that as a reference point, because just about everybody you talk to amongst the players talking about Nicklaus memories, there's always talk about the Nicklaus needle, what a great needler you are; curious where you got that from and what is the worst you have ever got in return?
JACK NICKLAUS: My dad was a great needler. And he just had a blast doing it, and I guess I learned from him, and my kids were pretty much the same. And my wife, Barbara, she pulls more pranks than anybody, she just loved John Montgomery, Sr., what he did all the time. She would want to pull one back on our side and I would just it alone. It's kind of reverse from what we're talking about right now buy I think I've always had fun kidding guys. I think Gary and I think that Arnold and Gary and I, we walk in and every time one of us would shoot 75 or 76, the first one, we couldn't wait to get to them and ask them where they had all their birdies at.
To me if you can't laugh at yourself and laugh a little at everything, that's the way it is. And so I'm probably a little too quick sometimes with it, but I've never had anybody really get too mad at me I suppose.
GARY PLAYER: Jack and I said we both won the Grand Slam before we were 30, and we said, "Well, you know, we're going to retire at 35."
Arnold said, "Well, I'm going to play forever." Arnold said, "Well, we won't see you at Augusta anymore," and we said no.
And yeah, I'm 72 and I walk in there and Jack is 66, he said, "This must be a mirage." He said, "You said weren't playing after 35, and how come you are playing? " He never forgets every year to needle us.
JACK NICKLAUS: (Twisting invisible knife) It's okay. I don't know what the worst one was because I don't really worry about it. I've always just had fun with it.

Q. After three Presidents Cups, you sat in that room and matched the games several times now; do you like the process? Is it fun? And for you, Jack, how does it compare to Ryder Cup or do you just put them in an envelope and go?
JACK NICKLAUS: This is far more fun. Neither Gary and I hit a shot so we probably have more fun here than any place else.

Q. Mickelson and Austin against Singh and Weir; Weir is 4-0 in Presidents Cup against Mickelson, was it a factor for your choice?
GARY PLAYER: I think what happened, I found --

Q. Say yes, Gary. Say yes. (Laughter)
GARY PLAYER: I say yes, but you don't get the headlines.
It's a strange thing. Like last year we had a team of Adam Scott, and he and his partner, they just played so well, but that was last year or two years ago. I think it's irrelevant what has happened. I think we have found -- one year I won the Open at Carnoustie and I remember Jack winning at Augusta. I went on the practice tee at ten o'clock at night and I was playing and found something and won the Open. Jack at Augusta one year, the night before the tournament, he said he was out hitting balls and it was dark. I said, "Gee, it's pretty late."
He said, I'm playing so bad." And he played one of the best tournaments he ever played. So whatever happened, you're thinking in the past is irrelevant. He's playing very well this year as we know. That's what I think. Boy, he's playing well now.
And I listen to Adam Scott saying today, "I played a lot with Phil. His short game is just miraculous." So I look at it in terms of -- it's interesting. I look at they are playing extremely well right now.

Q. Would you rather have had the opportunity to match two guys against Tiger and his opponent rather than the way it worked out?
GARY PLAYER: Well, we certainly were very happy the way it turned out, very happy the way it turned out. Now we definitely have in the singles, I have somebody in the singles for example, I definitely have somebody I've already chosen to play Tiger. You're talking about one of the greatest players that ever played golf in Tiger, so the guy that is playing has got nothing to lose.
JACK NICKLAUS: You're not going to let me in on it?
GARY PLAYER: I'll tell you. I'll tell you on Sunday night.
LAURA NEAL: Just to clarify, we will revise the tee times. They do start at 1:15. Thank you all.

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