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September 28, 2007

Jack Nicklaus

Gary Player


LAURA NEAL: Captain Player, maybe talk about how things turned around today and what you thought of the day overall.
GARY PLAYER: It certainly was a very exciting day, and the thing that I'm so pleased about, at least after yesterday, we are now going to the third round where the matches are alive. I mean, you know, the public are enjoying it immensely, and TV -- so I would not like to have seen the matches either way just run away from each other.
So this is now a match, and very exciting. And there were a lot of birdies and a lot of eagles, some par 5s. I think of Mickelson and Retief halving, which was terrific. A lot of great matches and a lot of birdies. 11-under par, Stuart Appleby and Vijay Singh against Tiger, plus or minus, 11-under. Unbelievable golf, and I think everybody had a great day.
LAURA NEAL: Captain Nicklaus, your thoughts on today and heading into tomorrow for your team.
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, I can't say that everybody had a great day. (Chuckling).
We thought Gary's team played very well today. We were a little scratchy, but I know that they had some good matches coming down to the end. And like yesterday, we pulled the matches out; today, the International Team pulled the matches out.
The one that I was obviously, that amazed me, was Woody Austin. Here he is, he takes a dive in a lake and then holes three straight putts. He's amazing. He's been terrific so far.
But I think that we were fortunate we had yesterday's lead because we don't have much of a lead now. But going into tomorrow, I think that tomorrow is a big day, two rounds. It will be a difficult day, it will be a tough day for both teams, and I know that Gary is trying to figure out the best way to play his team, and you know, the hardest thing is we just discussed at the pairings, is how do you leave two fellas out? Everybody has played so well and wanted to play; how do you leave two fellas out.
And unfortunately, you have to, that's the rules. So anyway, here we are.

Q. Gary, obviously it was important to get started early today, you wanted to get off to a quick start. What were your feelings when Vijay holed out on 1, and kind of got the momentum rolling, I believe, for your team?
GARY PLAYER: Yes, obviously playing against Tiger, you know he's got a monumental task, particularly with Tiger, really playing so fantastic lately.
And then holing the bunker shot in the first hole, you know, if he holes a putt, you sort of say, well, gee, that's wonderful. But when you hole that bunker shot, that's a great, great way to start, and it gives you a shot in the arm.
It was a very, very important start, psychologically very important.

Q. Is it contagious on the team?
GARY PLAYER: The team are aware; the team are aware of what's going on, and I think it gets the momentum going. I really believe that.

Q. You said yesterday that you were surprised by the outcome of yesterday's session. Were you equally surprised today to see it kind of swing back the other way in?
JACK NICKLAUS: Not really. I think that's what the matches do. I was surprised we won by as much as we did. I was actually probably surprised that they won as much as they did today. But you never know. I mean, we had South Africa -- we had a pretty good lead in South Africa, and then you blanked us, what was it, Saturday afternoon?
GARY PLAYER: Yeah, Saturday afternoon.
JACK NICKLAUS: I think you blanked us 5-0 or something. You just never know.
That's why every match is important, and every match, you've got to try to -- get every half-point or every point that you can get.

Q. Gary, question for you, did you try to rally the troops at all at the dinner last night, or did you leave it to themselves to try to find a way back into the matches or inspire themselves, or do you feel like you needed to get in there with them and rally the troops?
GARY PLAYER: We certainly did. We rallied them going back home and this morning coming to the club, both ways.

Q. How did you do that?
GARY PLAYER: Top secret. (Laughing).
No, we did that. We really rallied them to the best of our ability, both Ian Baker-Finch and myself.

Q. You've played and been a captain on many of these teams. Is Woody kind of the consummate team player, do you think?
JACK NICKLAUS: Has been so far. He's actually -- let's see, I think he's actually halved both matches. He's actually just been terrific in both matches. Woody is a character, as you know, but he's just a great competitor. He just absolutely -- it just kills him to not play well or not hit the right shot or not do the right thing. He just sort of is pure grit coming down in the stretch. He's been great.
You know, I think that here is a guy that's 43 years old, first time he's ever made an International Team. I could be wrong, but he really didn't start playing professional golf I think until he was probably over 30.
This is his first time and he just says he wants to make the most of it. I give him a lot of credit.

Q. Thought process in match 15 of pairing up Adam and Ernie, both of them seemed to be struggling with their games a little bit.
GARY PLAYER: No, not contrary, I thought -- I thought Adam, he hit some of the most magnificent iron shots today, and drove the ball well. He missed quite a few putts, but, you know, you can hit good putts and not go in. I thought Adam played very well.
Ernie said to me that he was happy with his game, but that he wasn't putting as well as he would liked to have today. But, you know, you go on the putting green tomorrow and you have a few putts. I mean, Jack and I invariably played, and ten minutes before you play, you find something and you go out and do extremely well or you stands there and you hole everything on the putting green and you hole nothing when you're on the golf course. So it can change very quickly as far as things like that are concerned.

Q. Mike Weir has played some good golf for you in his two matches, do you plan to send him out in the afternoon tomorrow?
GARY PLAYER: Mike played extremely well today, extremely well. He's swinging the club so much better now than he was during the year. During the year, he was keeping all his weight on his left side and reverse-pivoting when he hit the ball and now he's got his head still but he's getting his weight back, and he's a different golfer.
And I am so pleased that he's played so well these two days. Obviously in front of his own people, I cannot tell you how excited I am. He's a dominant man, dominant man in this series.

Q. Will we see him twice tomorrow then?
GARY PLAYER: Yes, I would like it, unless he says to me -- if he says to me he doesn't want to. We have tonight to decide.
We did have Angel Cabrera say, "I would like to have a rest tomorrow morning." Because it makes it easier for us, because whoever you drop, subconscious says, "Why are you dropping me?" It's a really tough decision. In my opinion, I'm sorry that we have to drop somebody, because foursomes, why should you have to drop somebody? Foursomes goes so quickly. I don't want to hear about athlete getting tired. You're an athlete, you don't get tired playing golf, I don't think; that's just my opinion. I'm in the minority that thinks that.
But Mike is going to be a very big force in this series.

Q. Is K.J. Choi healthy?
GARY PLAYER: Healthy? As far as I know, yes. I've been asking him all the time, are you feeling great; he says yes.
He didn't quite swing his best today. He was hitting the ball a little bit left. So I think maybe he'll go on the practice tee tomorrow morning and hit a few extra balls and be ready in the afternoon.
I must also say that Mike is such a great team member. It makes a big difference when you're playing matches like this if the guys are good team members. Very big difference. Because you're picking teams, and obviously everybody wants to know who they are playing; I don't want to play this guy; I want to play this guy, so it's not easy.
So you know, Mike just says, "Anybody you want me to play. You want me to rest, I'll rest. You want me to play, I'll play. You want me to play anybody, I'll play them." He's a great team member.

Q. You've kept Immelman and Sabbatini together again and I'm assuming they are going to play in the afternoon. You obviously think that's a good group for you, and then obviously Sabbatini today after Woody hit it four feet, hits it six feet on 18-under a lot of pressure.
GARY PLAYER: Yeah, that was a great shot. That was a great shot. But the shot that really impressed me today was at 14 at a time like that, that Rory -- I didn't see where Adam Scott's ball finished, whether it finished on the green or on the bunker. Did anybody see on that hole?

Q. Immelman?
GARY PLAYER: No, Adam Scott.

Q. Just off the green.
GARY PLAYER: I think he was the only one, am I not correct, in saying that the only one that put it right on the putting surface. But he put it like 15 feet. I mean, he hit the most unbelievable shot.
I think temperament-wise, they suit each other, and they want to play together, which is nice. And that makes a big difference.

Q. I guess for both, but mainly for Jack, what was the reaction to Woody's falling in? Did it lighten the move or have any impact on maybe making guys a little less worried about tension or was it just sort of a one-off?
JACK NICKLAUS: I have a feeling that he will be hearing about that for the rest of his life. And he'll be kidded about it, have fun with it, and he'll laugh about it and remember it for the rest of his life.
And they showed Jim Furyk right after that, and Jim, he couldn't contain himself. He says, "I was 30 yards away," and he says, "I didn't know what to do. I was trying not to laugh, but I couldn't help it."
GARY PLAYER: Now with me, obviously I'm on the opposing side. I'm dying to laugh, but I'm scared the cameras will be on me that I'm laughing the guy is drowning. (Laughter) so I didn't know what to do, I sort of turned my back. But I was really laughing, because Woody, he was such a great sport. I mean, here, you know, when you're watching, it's a lot colder than when you're playing. When you're walking and playing, you never feel the cold as much as when you were sitting. I thought damn it, that water must be cold. But I was pleased to see his head come up. (Laughter).
It's like the guy said to his caddie today, if I don't play well today, I'll drown myself." He says, "I don't know if you can keep your head down that long."
But he was fun, he came out laughing and everybody, it was really neat. That shot will be shown for a long time on TV.
LAURA NEAL: Captains, thanks for coming in. Have a good night.

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