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September 27, 2007

Jack Nicklaus

Gary Player


JAMES CRAMER: Ladies and gentlemen, we're joined by International Captain Gary player, U.S. Captain Jack Nicklaus and his Captain's Assistant, Jeff Sluman.
Let's go into the pairings so you have them before we go into questions. Match No. 7 at 11:45 will be Phil Mickelson and Hunter Mahan versus Angel Cabrera and Retief Goosen.
Match 8 at noon is Vijay Singh and Stuart Appleby versus Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk from the U.S.
Match 9 at 12:15 will be Zach Johnson and Charles Howell III from the U.S. versus Ernie Els and Mike Weir from the International Team.
Match 10 at 12:30 is K.J. Choi and Adam Scott from the International Team versus Steve Stricker and Scott Verplank from the U.S.
Match 1 at 12:45 will be Stewart Cink and Lucas Glover from the U.S. versus Geoff Ogilvy and Nick O'Hern.
And the final match of the day at 1:00, Match 12 is Trevor Immelman and Rory Sabbatini from the International Team versus Woody Austin and David Toms from the U.S.
With that, I'll ask Captain Player to comment on the pairings from this afternoon. Captain Player?
GARY PLAYER: May we say something about the match today first?
GARY PLAYER: I'd like to congratulate Jack and his team on playing so well. It's obviously very interesting when you drive around and observe as against playing. It's a completely different angle and the matches were very, very close and could have gone either way in many, many matches. But that's -- there are no ifs and ands and we are a long way behind the first day, we only got half a point.
Tomorrow things could turn around and we are in for an exciting day. I thought it was a tremendous turn out. We couldn't have had a better day to play golf. No wind, it was cool, the greens were holding, and it was a perfect day to play and I thought it was an enjoyable play.
JAMES CRAMER: Your comments on the play today, Captain Nicklaus?
JACK NICKLAUS: Needless to say, if you would say if this is what I expected the results to be, I would say no. But am I happy with them? Absolutely I'm happy with them. Our guys played well. They played well down the stretch. Even the match that they halved -- Austin holed about a 12-footer at 16. Phil holed a 20-footer at 17 and Austin came back with about a 12-footer at 18 to just halve the match. And so they all played great coming down the stretch.
Time after time, they just did what they were supposed to do, and Gary was right, it was very close. Could have gone either way. There's a lot of golf to be played. We've got a full four-day tournament in front of us, a four-round tournament in front of us, so a lot of things can happen.
JAMES CRAMER: All right. And we can go into today's pairings, and I'll leave it to you, would you like to go match by match or would you like just general talk; however suits you.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I picked first for tonight, tomorrow's matches. Again I've gone with a policy of asking the guys who they would like to play with and who they would -- try to spread around who plays with who and try to accommodate as many guys as I can.
Phil and Hunter wanted to play together and they asked to go out first. Said, do you care who you are playing against and they said no, just want to go first.
GARY PLAYER: Really I think it's quite in one way, it's irrelevant who plays anybody because every match is a tough match. You cannot say, well, we put this guy against so and so because he's a points-getter. It just doesn't work like that.
Every single match here, irrespective of who you put against who, is a very, very tough match. But we had a system and actually it worked out. We put down our teams in the order we wanted to play and it came out, which is unusual because when two people are choosing, came out exactly in the numbers that we said they would play, and that's what happened tonight.
JAMES CRAMER: With that, why don't we just go right into questions.

Q. Just wondering if today's result is perhaps even a bit more frustrating given that you had four of your six matches go to the 18th hole and to only come up with half a point out of some pretty tight matches.
IAN BAKER-FINCH: I'm extremely frustrated. It's a frustrating position anyway when you can't go out there and let your clubs do the talking.
And to be on the sidelines and feeling so bad for the guys when they are just not quite getting there, they are not playing poorly but just getting beaten. And to have so much matches go to the last hole drags it out, and as you say, makes it more frustrating, because we were quite happy with the pairings coming into the day. We thought it was going to be a tough battle of course, but we were happy and quietly confident that we could perhaps even be in front coming to the end of the day.
So that makes it more frustrating and you start second guessing a little, and all those sorts of things that come with being a part of the team sport.
GARY PLAYER: You only have really basically -- to enlarge on that, and I think Jack and Tiger have been exceptional as far as the course management. You have a decision to make when you're under the gun, and the right decision is important that you make.
We've seen a lot of majors, we've seen a lot of majors in the last few years lost on the last hole by a lot of players, by the incorrect decision; i.e., Phil Mickelson at the U.S. Open, and you can go -- Van de Velde lost on the last hole with a three-shot lead taking a driver instead of taking an iron off the tee. And you have a split decision to make it. And this is with Jack, and people reemphasize -- I'll give an example today.
Coming down the last hole, Rory has the honor, he's long on the tee and he can reach the bunker on the right and now you've got the water. That's a driver, you mustn't go with a driver; you've got to go with a 3-wood because you can aim it at the trap and not hit it and hit one club more into the green and it makes a massive difference. It makes the fairway a lot wider if you go that way.
And I spoke to him afterwards, and I don't like to interfere with my player's play at all. We've never interfered and he agreed. He said, "It was in my mind and I just made the wrong decision."
When you have four matches, as you say, go to the last hole, that split decision is vitally important.

Q. Mr. Nicklaus, did you decide to concede Vijay's putt on the 18th in the Weir match? It was pretty long.
JACK NICKLAUS: It was about 3 1/2 feet. I think that Phil and Woody made the right decision, and they both felt that Mike, you know, had played a good match; and Mike being a Canadian and being here, that it was the right thing to do.
And I'm glad they did. I would support it 100%.

Q. It was not your idea, though, or was it your idea?
JACK NICKLAUS: I think I made the right decision.
IAN BAKER-FINCH: Well done there. That was really good.

Q. There was quite a change in the pairings tomorrow. Just wondering why you've decided to change up the pairings as much as you have on both teams.
JACK NICKLAUS: Different game.
GARY PLAYER: Different format.
IAN BAKER-FINCH: Foursomes; four-ball.
GARY PLAYER: Completely different format.

Q. Jack, could I get you to comment on the play of your four rookies?
JACK NICKLAUS: Terrific. Want anything else? (Laughter).

Q. A little more.
JACK NICKLAUS: Who was the fourth rookie?

Q. Woody, Glover, Mahan, Johnson.
JACK NICKLAUS: Johnson's not a rookie, he played Ryder Cup. But yeah, he's a rookie. Hunter, I wanted to start him out this morning -- even though Steve Stricker has not had a lot of international competition lately, he's played some great golf over the last 12 months and has been a steadying influence wherever he's been, and I wanted Hunter to play with him. I thought that was good.
I thought that although not a rookie, was Charles Howell, and I thought Tiger would play the steadying influence on him. And I kept kidding Charles all day, I says, "Are you holding him in, are you keeping Tiger straight? Good going, keep holding him in."
We had good fun with that, but he was a good winner even though he was not a rookie.
Lucas Glover, he played with Scott, and they are good friends, been friends for a long time. Played a lot of golf together. Felt like Scott has a lot of experience and would give Lucas the experience he needed to play, and they played very well.
And Woody Austin, you know, I think that -- I kept kidding Phil, I says we're going to send Woody out there and get you on the board early in the week, Phil. So that's what we did.
And Woody was very good today. I thought he was terrific.

Q. Gary, down the stretch today -- and probably Jack, you could answer this, too. Down the stretch today, I think there were seven balls hit in the water by players from both teams. Is that a product of the format or was there a lot of pressure or were the conditions difficult? What do you attribute the lapses, or even Stuart's 3-iron into 18. There seemed to be a lot of errant chip shots.
GARY PLAYER: It's always harder to putt yourself in somebody else's position, because everybody swings differently and everybody plays differently.
I think with Stuart Appleby it was just, I said to his caddie, do you have a bad lie; no, it was just a bad shot, a shot we all hit, just a bad shot.
In the case of Rory, I think Rory agreed with me, he should be taking a 3-iron; because of his length off the tee, he should be taking a 3-wood. The others, I didn't have a chance because there was so much going on on 18, I didn't have a chance to talk to the others about going in the water.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, my feeling is I never did figure out how to play that hole because the last time I played that hole, I hit it in the water with a 3-wood to win the Canadian Open and I lost it.
They couldn't get how to play it from the captain, so they tried to figure it out themselves. But it is a very difficult hole to drive on, because the hole is a long hole; you need to put the ball out far enough so that you don't stand back there with the wood into the grain. And the lake, it's a big carry.
So I think Gary is right, 3-wood is the right play foremost fellows, they can keep it short of the bunker and out of the lake. When I played here, I'm sure we didn't play that tee, must have had a shorter tee but I tried to hit 3-wood just over the lake and I thought I could carry the lake. Now, I don't know whether these guys can carry it today with a driver or not, maybe they can come close.
IAN BAKER-FINCH: Not today I don't think.
JACK NICKLAUS: Probably not. Rory wasn't five yards from carrying the lake. I don't know about the other shots hit in the lake. It's a very strong golf hole, strong finishing hole, and it's meant to -- it's meant to make you think and play the right club and do the right thing if you want to win the hole.

Q. Going back to the conceded putt, would it be the right move that you would applaud if this event were played in the U.S. or South Africa or something?
JACK NICKLAUS: I think it's up to the players playing. You know, I think that all I said to them when they were there is I said, "What do you want to do with Mike's putt?" And they both looked at it and turned around and said, "It's good."
I think they felt like they had a great match, they had six holes they tied, six holes that the U.S. won, six holes that the International Team won, and they just felt they all played well and I thought that -- I guess they felt that there shouldn't be a loser in that match. I thought it was a good decision.
If it was played somewhere else, I would say if it was the second, third, or fourth round, we probably wouldn't do that. Maybe the last round, if it sits there, if it makes the outcome of the match, in the spirit of what we are playing these matches, I think that's the important part.
I think Gary and I both have stressed that throughout the matches that we want the guys to walk away from here feeling like, you know, we didn't get everything we could get. But we gave everything we could give, and meaning from themselves and golf and spirit of the game and sportsmanship.

Q. Zach and Stewart together, they got roughed up pretty bad at the Ryder Cup last year as a pairing, did they want to play together? Did they come and talk to you specifically about --
JACK NICKLAUS: Zach and Charles?

Q. No. Zach and Stewart. They played together at the Ryder Cup last year.
JACK NICKLAUS: Is that who played this morning?
JACK NICKLAUS: We are into tomorrow already.
JEFF SLUMAN: This is tomorrow.
JACK NICKLAUS: They played together today? What are you talking about, Stewart and -- (laughter). I'm sorry.

Q. Sink and Johnson got beat 5 & 4 last year at the Ryder Cup, and I wonder, did they want to get paired together; did y'all talk about that?
JACK NICKLAUS: On Johnson's list was Cink and on Cink's list was Johnson. That was how I made my pairings.

Q. How did you think they did?
JACK NICKLAUS: They won, didn't they?

Q. Yes.
JACK NICKLAUS: Okay. (Laughter) Second question?

Q. We're having fun. Second question, Phil and Hunter for tomorrow.

Q. Phil and Hunter for tomorrow.
JACK NICKLAUS: When Hunter gave me his list early in the week, Hunter is a rookie and he was very bashful about what he did.
But Phil asked for Hunter. And Hunter was delighted that he's going to play with Phil. So I think that -- I mean, and they both knock it a mile. And against Cabrera and Goosen, four of them out there will hit it a mile. It will be a great match. There will be a lot of birdies.

Q. Today Jim Furyk and David Toms held off a pretty formidable duo for the International side. After some adversity, what was your feeling about that match?
JACK NICKLAUS: David and who? Let me have it again, Ian. I'm into tomorrow, guys.
Oh, they played Els and Cabrera. That's a little bit of David and Goliath there, isn't it. They hit it about 50 yards by both of them, don't they.
JACK NICKLAUS: Yeah, Cabrera and Els are long. Thomas and Furyk aren't short, but they are certainly not in the same league from a distance standpoint.
Okay, now what was the question.

Q. Just wonder after how you felt about that after the adversity, going from 3-up to 1-up.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, that's what the matches do. The guys had it tucked away and it came down to the last hole, and I felt terrible for Ernie, missing the short putt that he missed. You know, he's holed so many putts because he needed to hole some putts at the right time, and he had one to halve the match, probably about a 5-footer I guess. And it looked to me like he thought the ball was going to break right and the ball, he missed it on the left side of the hole. I don't know what was going through his mind, when I spoke to him, briefly, afterwards, I would have to say, he obviously wasn't very happy.
But you know, I think that Furyk and Thomas, I think they did very well. Any time you win a match, you've done well, period.
IAN BAKER-FINCH: Can I say there, too, that was great sportsmanship, to give that putt. I don't know whether you noticed that, I don't know whether you noticed that if it was on TV, I'm not sure, but Ernie's putt went four foot by and David and Jim gave them that putt, and then had to hole their putt. So I thought that was something else that you may not have seen that was great sportsmanship again. Really appreciated that, that was good.

Q. After Johnson's chip on 18 at the Masters --
JACK NICKLAUS: Johnson's chip on the 18th hole at what?

Q. At the Masters earlier this year in April --
JACK NICKLAUS: I don't remember it, but that's okay. Where did he chip it from and where?
GARY PLAYER: He missed the green on the right-hand side -- he chipped it up on the ridge like that (indicating six inches). He was exactly -- there is the bunker, he was here, just there.
JACK NICKLAUS: Where was the pin?
GARY PLAYER: Pin was front left.
JACK NICKLAUS: Front left?
JACK NICKLAUS: Normal place?
GARY PLAYER: Yeah. And he chipped it up like that. (Indicating distance)

Q. Since he was able to do that at the Masters, how confident were you that he would be able to stick it again today to close to the hole?
JACK NICKLAUS: If you look at his game, Zach has a great short game and Zach is not the longest person I've got on this team; and the guys that are not long on this team, they would not be on this team if they did not have a great short game because the game today is power.
If you don't have a great short game and you can't hit it out 320 yards, you're not playing. Zach can't hit it 320, but he's playing. So I would think his ability -- and what did he do last week, he shot 60 in a round last week or two weeks didn't he? That's not too bad. I imagine he hit a couple good chips there, too.

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