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September 26, 2007
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: We would like to welcome six members of the International Team for the 2007 Presidents Cup, Assistant Captain Ian Baker-Finch, along with of the six members, Angel Cabrera, Retief Goosen, Rory Sabbatini, Ernie Els, Trevor Immelman, and Vijay Singh.
Q. You had a chance to play with Mike Weir in the 2004 Canadian Open in the final group and saw the support he had there, are you looking forward to having some of that support on your side, as well?
VIJAY SINGH: I hope so. Actually this week we are all Canadians. Only for this week, though. (Laughter).
Yeah, obviously he's one of the most popular sports persons in Canada, a Canadian. He's a good friend of mine and I've played a lot of golf with him and I'm looking forward to it and hopefully I get all of the support I can.
Q. Retief, we know how we've at least heard how important and how big of a deal this honor is to you to play for this team. How big is this event in your country, South Africa; where does this stand this, week in the scope of other sports?
RETIEF GOOSEN: Well, I don't think it's quite as big as the rugby. The Presidents Cup for all of us is every country and there are a lot of South Africans here, and for us it's definitely going to be great to try to win it.
We're going to have a lot of support down in South Africa, for sure. But, you know, the whole side is very good. I'm very much looking forward to it.
Q. Jack and Jeff were in and they seemed to be a little more liberal with how they do their picks, in other words, the guys kind of have an influence as to who they might play or who they want to play with. What about you guys? Do you have that same sort of influence with Ian and Gary?
VIJAY SINGH: Cabrera answer this one.
ANGEL CABRERA: No.
ERNIE ELS: (Laughing).
RORY SABBATINI: We just pull them out of a hat.
ANGEL CABRERA: The picks, definitely the captain is asking the players who they want to play with and who they feel more comfortable with. Yeah, that's a role the players have to play.
ERNIE ELS: There you go.
Q. Retief, you mentioned rugby a few minutes ago. Question for any of the four South Africans, wonder who is winning the banter in the dressing room this week between the South Africans and the Aussies?
VIJAY SINGH: New Zealand.
RETIEF GOOSEN: Frankly --
RORY SABBATINI: We're also the bigger guys.
ERNIE ELS: The Aussies are underdogs and when they are underdogs, they shut up. They are quiet.
Q. None of the four Aussies are rugby players.
ERNIE ELS: There you go. What is it, AFL.
Q. Obviously you were not here for the last one, and now you're back again, what did you miss about it and how important is it for you to try and beat them; you've come so close, how important is it to try and actually win with one of these?
ERNIE ELS: I had a great week last time. I had a week off. Watched it on television.
No, obviously, this is a big deal. You want to get in a team like this, puts you with world-class players like we have. It's quite a battle that we have against America, a really strong team.
But always enjoyed playing in this team event. The Presidents Cup -- Vijay and myself started playing it when we were still in our teens, or I was. (Laughter) We've been around for a long time and it's nice to see the younger guys coming through.
The last time I played in South Africa, I played with Tim Clark and I had a great time with him. It was his first time down there and Adam Scott, so I've had a good time with a lot of guys. We have great chemistry on this team and we give a lot of schtick.
Q. For Retief and Ernie, you guys at Fancourt a few years ago played this as a home game, and as it relates to Mike Weir this week, are there pros and cons to being in that position, or is it all good? Are there expectations upon you when maybe the fans don't know everything there is to know about golf and are coming maybe for the first time?
ERNIE ELS: I think obviously it's wonderful when it comes to your home country. But you've got to kind of perform in front of them.
Obviously you know, when we've played in South Africa, Retief and myself, we've got homes down there so we play in that area a lot, so it's truly a home game for me. And I had a good tournament down there the last time we were down there, so I had a really good time. It definitely helps.
And it kind of helps that the rest of the team -- because you kind of feed off the local guy so to speak, so hopefully Vijay and Mike, they are off early tomorrow, they can get the crowd going early on, maybe that will feed into us.
RETIEF GOOSEN: Yeah, definitely it can add a bit of pressure to yourself and you want to be focused and you want to play well in front of the home crowd.
For Mike this week, it's going to be a great experience and as Ernie said, he's out early on and hopefully he can get on a roll early on and help get the crowd pumped up.
Q. Ernie, is the best thing about this deal the fact that you walk away at the end of the week maybe knowing a guy like Angel twice as well as you did before, and if so, what's an anecdote you can share about an eye-opener in a past Presidents Cup team?
ERNIE ELS: Well, it really all happens on Sunday night. We've had some good times on Sunday nights, especially in South Africa.
As you say, you know, you play with the guys -- you might play some of the tournaments throughout the year, but you kind of stick to yourself and you stick to your own schedule, you do your own thing.
You know, this week, we're on the team bus, we're at the same hotel and we're in the games room; there's a lot of talk going on. So you get to know the guys a lot better. You see what they are and, you know, and then Sunday night, we have a good time and laugh the whole week. We've definitely laughed this year.
Q. Gary Player was saying that he put you and Angel together because you understand each other. I don't know if he meant language or you just understand each other as golfers. How did that grouping come together? Did you ask to play together, and what do you think of you two guys playing together?
ERNIE ELS: It just kind of evolved. I played yesterday with Angel and I played with Rory and Trevor. Just kind of looking at what might be a pairing. You know, the way Angel hits the ball, I think anybody wants to play with him. So just kind of glad to get him. He's my partner. And I've known Angel for a very long time, too. We've both played on The European Tour, so I've played with him a lot, and hopefully I can work on my Spanish this week.
Q. Rory, it seems like with your fiery personality, you're made for these kind of events. As one of the two rookies, are you excited to be here and do you think your personality fits this format?
RORY SABBATINI: Obviously it's an honor to be here and great to be associated with the members of this team, they very well respected names in the world of golf. It's great to be here.
But you know, this format, you can lose a hole by one or you can lose the hole by 11, doesn't make any difference, you still lose the hole. The situation being, it does tend to fit the way that I play the game. You know, I've had a lot of experience with it and I understand the game very well and you know, I'm very comfortable performing.
VIJAY SINGH: You're not fiery.
Q. What about your belt Buckle, do you have a new one this week?
RORY SABBATINI: That's a surprise.
VIJAY SINGH: White belt.
Q. How do you see your pairing tomorrow with a local player, a favorite of the crowd to start tomorrow against Phil Mickelson? You're playing with Mike Weir. (Laughter) working on the short-term memory --
VIJAY SINGH: I sense, we are ready for this question. I love playing with Mike. He's a good friend of mine and we've played a lot of golf together.
You know, we have a thing about Canadian Opens, four years ago, three years ago, and hopefully the crowd gets to my side as well, this week.
But we have the holes sorted how we're going to play, and we're playing with Phil and Woody and I get along very well with Woody, so I think we are going to have a good time out there.
Q. What about Phil? (Laughter) How do you get along with Phil?
VIJAY SINGH: Phil who? (Laughter) That was off the record by the way.
Q. Sticking with Vijay for a second, you've played in all of the Presidents Cups, can you talk about the difference from the first one to now and just, you know, how you see it having progressed and do you have a memorable moment or two overall of those that stick out?
VIJAY SINGH: Most memorable thing I've seen is the photo of the international side in our locker room. I mean, it's just amazing. We had Frank Nobilo in there and Mark McNulty, Fulton Allem, Craig Parry. I look at this photo and I say -- Peter Senior; my hairdo. (Laughter) Those are the things you look back and say, wow, we had some great times some ten years ago, 12 years ago, 15 years ago. That's a long time.
Through the years, they have been good, every one of them. You meet a lot of new players and they come and go. You strike a relationship with all of the players in the team and the memory stays forever. This is a great event to have a friendship with a player as long as you play golf or even after that.
Q. What about the event itself, the way that it's grown from maybe curiosity.
VIJAY SINGH: I think the first three years it stayed in Washington, D.C., went to Australia. For some reason we enjoyed it better outside of the U.S. I guess we all played better and the support from the home crowd was a lot more than when we played in America. And we had it big time in Australia and South Africa.
It's different; we have a lot more crowd on our side when we are away from America. This, I don't know how this is going to be. This is so close to the States. But I enjoyed every one of them, and hopefully this is not going to be my last.
Q. Ernie, obviously a lot has been made out of a potential match on Sunday with Mike Weir and Tiger Woods and you had the opportunity to do that in 2003. What advice if any would you give to Mike if that potential match took place?
ERNIE ELS: Not much I can say.
RORY SABBATINI: Hit it long, straight and make every putt.
ERNIE ELS: Shoot 62 and hope for the best.
We all know how Tiger has played through the last couple of weeks and this year and through his whole career. We've all had a chance to play with him. He's a difficult guy to play. At least Mike has the home crowd. It didn't work out for me in South Africa, I was a bit off that day and he beat me down there.
Just got to play well.
Q. There was a lot of discussion in Canada when Mike was selected as a captain's pick about whether he wanted the selection, etc. Can you talk about how you felt or how the team felt about having Mike there?
TREVOR IMMELMAN: Personally I was always for it. I was very happy to see him make the team. You know, obviously we know what a big name he is here in Canada.
But beside that, he's had a fantastic record in this tournament. He's always been a great match player and a great guy. Obviously the last time, it was my first time, but then he was my partner all week and he was a great guy to have around the team and in the team room.
And so, you know, I was very pleased when I saw him get in the team.
Q. Gary Player has been talking about the effects of the Presidents Cup four years ago in South Africa as a country. In fact, I think it was the largest sporting event in the country -- I wonder if you can expand on that as what you saw as the benefit of having the Presidents Cup in South Africa.
ERNIE ELS: Well, I think we've had some really good champions come out of South Africa, obviously with Bobby Locke and obviously Gary Player, and also a lot of other players who play the U.S. Tours and The European Tour. South Africa is a country that has given a lot to golf from a player standpoint. It was a natural thing to do was to take it to South Africa when Gary Player was the captain, especially playing Gary's golf course, the Links.
There are other sports and championships and competitions, like the Rugby World Cup, so South Africans can host big events.
I guess the TV audience, it would have been one of the biggest sporting events in South Africa. I think you have to ask the players. I think anybody that went down there had an unbelievable time and we had great support and it was great for the country and for golf in South Africa, and to see Tiger Woods and to see Vijay and all of these great players. I think it did a lot for South African golf.
Q. Will it ultimately grow the game there?
ERNIE ELS: Yeah, I think it definitely helped. Myself, Retief, Trevor, we helped it grow down there, too. We played a lot of golf down there in South Africa. After the U.S. and European Tours are done, we play in South Africa and try to give some back. I've got a foundation and Retief has got a foundation down there and so we try to give back.
Q. Rory, obviously throughout the year you've been very public about how you would relish the prospect of playing Tiger. Have you been doing some lobbying and are you keen to have another shot at it?
RORY SABBATINI: I'm just here to play golf and let everyone that makes the decisions make their decisions. You know, that's the way it is. I'm just going to go play and if they decide to pair me up against him, so be it.
I'm here to do my job probably as hard as I can and as well as I can, and that's about all I'm focused on.
Q. Ernie, kind of a twofold question. A, about the Presidents Cup, does it kind of fill the void that the World Golf Championships used to do in that now it's now the only big event that actually moves around the world? And secondly, going back to Australia in 2011, I think is the next overseas event, how important do you think it is to get to Asia, and especially with Romero, to get down to Argentina -- and I'd also like Angel to answer because I'd like to hear him speak. (Laughter).
ERNIE ELS: Well, I think obviously this event was started by the U.S. Tour back in '94. They wanted to give us -- if I remember just before the Presidents Cup got started, we played a southern hemisphere event down in South Africa. We had a southern Africa player against Australasia and we played that in Johannesburg. Funny enough, right after that, they started the Presidents Cup. I guess they got the whole world so to speak to play together against America and give us something to play for, and I think it's worked very well. Especially after Australia, we won it for the first time and eventually started traveling. Because as Vijay said, you know, the first three was played in the U.S. Then it started moving out, you know, start seeing a bit of success, especially in South Africa and Australia.
So we would like to see it move around a bit more. You know, we are the rest-of-the-world team. It's great to be in Canada, nothing against Canada, don't get me wrong, but there are guys from Fiji and South America and Asia and we can take it there, too. The next one is going to be in Australia and obviously we would love to have it in South Africa again. It's got to move around as we are a rest-of-the-world team.
ANGEL CABRERA: Definitely to have the best players at one point in South America would be like a dream come true. We are certainly looking forward if this is going to happen at some point.
IAN BAKER-FINCH: Guys we have a few things we need to do, a few of the boys want to go practice and hit some balls. Could we get going, if there's anybody one or two more, we'd like to get out of here and let you know that we're excited about being here, we're going to have a gait time and just remember we are 12 Canadians this week, this is a Canadian hockey team and I want everyone out there to come and root for us and yell as loudly for all of us as you are for Mike and we'll be extremely happy and we'll do our best to make you proud of us.
Thanks for looking after us.
Q. Question for Vijay, golf being such an individual event, how differently do you approach the team concept after a good or not so good round? Do you practice differently or do you mingle with the team, do you withdraw to yourself? How do you deal with the team concept in such an individual sport?
VIJAY SINGH: It's not the individual anymore. It's a point. When you play, it's a point. If you win the point, it's great. If you don't win the point, obviously it's a point away from the team.
You don't really worry about how bad you played or how bad your partner played. You just go out there as a team and you perform as a team. If you lose you go out there and try to support the guys that are winning. You kind of have to have a team atmosphere, team feeling out there. If you go individually, then you're not going to do very well. That's how we do it or that's how I do it anyway. The whole team does that.
We try to play our best. Individually we go out there and try to work on what we're working on, and once you get out on the golf course, we are a team player and that's how we do it.
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