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April 1, 2009
CHRIS REIMER: Good morning. Alright, guys. Good morning. We want to welcome obviously Greg Norman and Fred couples here to the interview room at the Shell Houston Open. We're going to do this press conference a little bit differently, because I know we have a lot of subjects that want to get covered all at once here.
We're going to start with the Shell Houston Open questions and move to a couple Masters questions and get into the Presidents Cup. And if you guys have anything after that, we'll knock that out, too, but starting off, if I could just get some opening comments from both of you. We'll start with Mr. Norman. Shell Houston Open, first time playing here since 2002. Just talk about what it's like to be back.
GREG NORMAN: I've always enjoyed coming here. To me, the Houston Open is a great tune-up for the Masters in a lot of ways. You've playing pine trees, and if you have allergies, you get adjusted to it. Woodlands is totally a different golf course than hat Augusta National is. At least you got the chance to play under similar conditions, clay-based grounds.
The greens are always very, very fast, and the same here. This is my first loop around Redstone yesterday and, you know, I actually called Freddie about this about a month and a half, two months ago, "What do you think about Redstone? Do you think I would enjoy it?" He gave me the thumbs up. He was absolutely correct.
It's a good golf course. The greens are superb, probably the best I putted on in years, but I haven't played an awful lot of golf in years. Really doesn't matter. But they are absolutely perfect and got enough undulation in there, not to some of the degrees you get at Augusta National, but enough to know that you got big swinging putts and a lot of speed downhill. So it's a great green tune-up for Augusta National, no question about that.
Me coming back to Houston, got a lot of ties here, enjoyed it over the years. Been a long hiatus, to say the least. I'm back and looking forward to playing well.
CHRIS REIMER: Captain Couples, obviously a past champion here. Some comments from you as well.
FRED COUPLES: I went to school here way back when, and I've played several years, and it's gone from Woodlands to the course that I won on to this one, and they're all great events. Shell has been a great sponsor, and as Greg said, I did not play it yesterday, but I played last year and it was phenomenal.
As he said, the greens -- I chipped on the chipping green out here, and it's very close to as quick as Augusta. So that's important to me to be here, and there's not a whole lot of rough. And as I was talking to the gentleman over here, by not playing it but most of the people have said that, you know, it's a good tune-up for Augusta, just to play, and it's exciting that when Greg asked and he said he's going to play here, certainly that's a huge boost.
We are going to play a practice round next week at Augusta. He's picked Adam Scott to play with. I've got Nick Watney. We'll be more worried about seeing how those guys are doing next week nd then paying attention to them here. They're both playing here also, I believe. I know Nick --
GREG NORMAN: I don't think Adam is here?
FRED COUPLES: Adam is not. It's one of my favorite tournaments. I've been on Tour 29 years and have played and lucky enough to win it four, five, six years ago. So I enjoy it here.
CHRIS REIMER: Some Shell Houston open questions, guys.
GREG NORMAN: Okay.
FRED COUPLES: Wow. Our tee time is at 12:50.
Q. Greg, can you just talk about having your son on your bag next week and just how much that will add to the specialness of the week for you?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I think anytime you have that opportunity to share a moment like that with your son, whether it's Kenny for Augusta or other special moments, you have in life, I think it's important to be able to capture it. He's extremely excited about it. We actually talked about it coming out in the car this morning and say "Hey," I said, "You getting ready to wear white overalls next week?" He kind of chuckled at it, but he's excited about it.
He's elevated his confidence in caddying, to put it mildly. Last week at the tournament, I gave him the duties of doing all the yardages. As a player, I never did my yardages in my past. As Freddie would know, if you don't do yardages, you walk up to your ball, you think about your shot, you hit it and go on. Last week I gave him the duty of doing that. He's elevating himself into the position.
I said next week at Augusta, it's going to be totally different. There's a lot more intensity and severity of these greens and carries and little knobs and humps and hollows where you don't want to go, just as much as where you want to go. It's a good step for him. I'm proud of him. He's excited about it and just having him on the bag like I said, is going to be a great moment for both of us.
Q. What happens if he gives you a wrong yardage or picks a wrong club? How do you fire your son?
GREG NORMAN: Fortunately I've played Augusta enough to know what the yardages are going to be out by 10 or 15. If they're out by one or two, which is just as bad as Augusta, I got a good eye for it. I'll understand it, and I'll make sure that he double checks everything -- we are going to play three practice rounds.
I'm going to hit the golf ball within a certain area on every fairway. So he'll know the right distances from each sprinkler head. But I wouldn't fire him anyway (laughter).
Q. Greg, so many of the Australian players have talked about you and the influence that you've had on them. Can you speak kind of to how well they're playing this year and kind of the development of Australian golf?
GREG NORMAN: Well, unless you've been down to Australia, you probably don't understand the tightness of our country. We're a small country, big country with a small population. We're a huge sporting nation. No matter what sport -- it's Cricket or rugby or swimming or golf or whatever it is -- we all support each other.
You know, my peers have always reached out to me in some shape or form. I was a bit of the leader of the pack in some degree early on in the late '70s, early '80s, early '90s, but I also followed some other leaders.
I had players in front of me that I tried to emulate or eclipse in some ways, and they were my -- the greats that I aspired to and wanted to get ahead of them in some ways. And I'm no different to some of the younger players.
I supported Australian golf every year for almost every year of my life, to tell you truth, of my golfing life. So they grew up. These kids, they come to me and say, "I watched you when I was six year old win a tournament." That puts it all in perspective. But, at the same time, you know, they've tried to formulate their success in life over maybe somebody ahead of them, and that person was probably me.
It's a great feather to have in your cap, and all of them, every single one of them, I didn't get to spend a lot of time with all the guys, but the guys I do spend a lot of time with, all of them do a tremendous job representing, A, the game of golf and more importantly, the country. For them to make the comments they do, it tells me I did a good job.
Q. Fred, would you mind, can I ask you for some of your thoughts on Greg's Masters career, what you think it does for the tournament that he's playing next week?
FRED COUPLES: It's a tournament that doesn't need much of a boost, but it's a huge boost, and, like I said, we've played some practice rounds. I'm not sure if we were paired a few times in the event, but we've always usually play with Ray Floyd and played with Tiger before, and this year, you know, as soon as he made it, we talked about playing even as much as a couple weeks after the British Open.
But, again, he is truly a remarkable player. I think it's great to have him there. Obviously for the players. To be honest, some are young, they don't pay attention to who is playing and they're in their own deals. I'm not far in age. I think it's great.
What he did at the British Open, you know, I was on the West Coast up awfully early pulling very hard. I personally think it would have been the greatest feat in golf history. He still played extremely well on Sunday and Padraig Harrington just out played him. As far as him at Augusta, it will be great, be fun to see him play there again. I don't know the last year you were there.
GREG NORMAN: 2002, I think it was, wasn't it?
FRED COUPLES: That's awhile and he -- I read somewhere or heard someone have him make a comment about how much longer it is. He hits -- he's better with a 3-iron than most people are with a 6-iron. He'll do just fine.
Q. How about memories of when he was --
FRED COUPLES: Memories of great play. I remember the shot he hit on 17 from the left trees --
GREG NORMAN: Seventh green.
FRED COUPLES: Yes. That was bad tee shot, unbelievable second shot. I remember other great irons in 13 and 15. He's a shotmaker. I always pay attention to guys first that I like the way they play. I've always said that he was probably in my time the best driver of the ball that I ever saw.
I'm sure he'll tell you that that's why he would play Augusta so well every year, because he drove it long, and whether you want to drive it in the right spots or straight, it's all irrelevant but -- and a great putter. So, you know, memories of mine that he didn't win it but he was darn close several times, and, you know, I just remember a lot -- seen him out there in those powder blue pants pounding it away. Correct?
And I had khaki white on, so I wish I would have wore powder blue. Somebody might have remembered. Again, we've done this a few times, but the best thing about this Presidents Cup is that he's their Captain for me.
Could say that about anyone else sitting there, but deep down, he's a great guy. I've always loved playing with him, one, and getting along with him, two, and we just haven't played because he doesn't play much anymore.
Q. Fred, where is your head in terms of where you were leading into the Masters, and how do you feel about your game?
FRED COUPLES: Well, my head is in a pretty good spot. My game way behind it. I missed the cut at Bay Hill and came down here and worked with Paul for a couple days, and, you know, he's got me going in a better direction.
I needed a lot of help. I haven't seen Butch at all this year because Butch is busy with a lot of guys, and so I just thought I would come and see what Paul had to say. This week I'll be working on a couple big things, and so far I've hit it solid. And as Greg will tell you or any golfer, if you start hitting it solid, then you can worry about where it's going to go.
Right now I'm trying to get the path of my shots to narrow in a little bit, and I'm not looking past here. I want to play well here, but my real sights, I didn't think this six, seven years ago, are coming up in October because as soon as the Presidents Cup is over, I'm going the play a couple of Champions events and take my time and maybe play 10, 12, next year, too.
Q. Why do you think your thinking on that is changing?
FRED COUPLES: Six, seven years ago I really didn't have any interest in playing on the Champions Tour because I was playing fairly well on the PGA Tour. Now I've made a little bit of a move to try to practice a little harder and see if I can play, and in my mind, I can still play golf pretty well, but there's no reason to go out and play against the list that are on both of these pages.
It's a waste of my time, to be quite honest. There are some courses. I just played well at L.A. and I think here and Augusta are two other spots, but to be quite honest, I went to Bay Hill and it's too tough for me. I'll be the first to tell you. You got to drive it 300 and straight. You got to be strong out of the rough, and, you know, it was just overwhelming and that's not sad to say.
I mean, I think I'm 40 years old and I can still play every single time, but I'm learning at 49 that the times that I do play well, I really need to cherish and enjoy those, but it doesn't happen nearly as much as I'd like.
Q. Greg, can you relate to anything that he just said?
GREG NORMAN: Oh, absolutely. What people really don't understand from a player's perspective, you get to a certain age, whether that's 44, 43, 45, 46; you kind of fall in a deadman's zone because your commitment to stay on the top of this list, like Freddie said, with these guys is a lot harder.
When we were their age in the 20s and the early 30s, we were out there pounding the balls, out there working, playing 30 tournaments a year. We were doing it. The older you get, your intensity factor, you still want to do it, your mind is there, but your body doesn't allow you to go there as many times as you like. You fall in this dead zone, and that dead zone is okay, in three years, oh, I don't know whether I want to play the champions tours.
I really don't know what I'm going to do. Once you get close to the event, you realize what's inside you is your competitive spirit and you still love to play.
But, you know, it's been three years since I've turned 50 and it's been three years I've hardly played any golf on a consistent level. I've played a couple tournaments now, and I'm actually starting to feel like I'm enjoying it again, going out there. The thing I hate is the travel, but I actually enjoy the thought of going out there and playing a little bit more golf.
So as Freddie approaches 50, it's great to hear him say that. He can still play, but, you know, we cannot pound the ball 340 yards. Played with a kid yesterday hit it 360, 365. You can't play golf against these kids on a regular basis. Week in, week out. You'll go -- you hit the ball well and pacing off 75 yards before you get to the next shot, it's a little humbling experience, to say the least, but -- it's a reality check of life.
Freddie will find when he gets out there and you start pounding the ball 30 yards past the guys, 40 yards past the guys that you used to back in the '80s and '90s when he gets on the Champions Tour, he gets rejuvenated again. Played my first Champions Tour event last week. It's a different world than on the PGA Tour. As he goes forward, he will be Freddie and keep winning and win on a regular basis.
So you have to go through this dead zone that I said. I'd say a lot of people find it. There was a lot of chatter a few years ago, maybe 10, 15 years ago, reducing the age of the Champions Tour down to 45, because there's a lot players who wait around, not having the opportunity competing on the regular Tour but too young to compete on the Senior Tour. That won't happen, but there was that because that zone is there for players.
Q. Greg, just what you did, what you did at Birkdale last year, does that make you anymore -- are you anticipating what you want to do at Augusta anymore because you had such a fabulous week that week? Does it play into it? Are you able to just calm down and say, "Hey, I'm back at the Masters. I got another shot"?
GREG NORMAN: Two totally different weeks. My lead up to the British Open was got married, had a honeymoon, had a great time. Who cared? Here it is since the British Open, everybody is talking about Augusta, Augusta, Augusta. Every time I wake up in the morning, I get an e-mail, can't wait to be in Augusta. I'm coming in from here.
Oh my gosh, can I get away from Augusta just for one day? Here we are leading up the week before. It's a totally different build-up.
I've been to Augusta, I've played it, and it's one of the longest golf courses I've ever played. Mind you when I said they had 3 inches of rain two days before and the fairways weren't mowed because of the saturation of the ground. I played it off the tips and played it the full length, and my gosh, it's brutal. Makes Bethpage Black look like a pitch and putt, it really does. I thought Bethpage Black was one of the longest we've ever played. Right, Freddie?
FRED COUPLES: I agree, yeah.
GREG NORMAN: So, as I enter Augusta, it's going in with a totally different mindset than the British Open, but I'm going in with the exact same expectations.
I'm going in there, I'm going to go enjoy it, I'm going to go play practice rounds with my friends, have fun, being with a lot of members that I haven't seen for a long period of time. And how it plays out over the week, quite honestly I really don't care. I'm going to enjoy myself. I want to go in there, and I want to play well. I want to put my best foot forward, whatever that best foot is, left or right, both of them, who knows?
At the end of the day, if I can get through Friday and get to the weekend, that's Goal No. 1.
CHRIS REIMER: Couple more questions, and then we'll get to the Presidents Cup.
Q. Greg, when were you playing a lot, you played some in Houston. I remember you had sinus problems, you had relatives here. You said, "Well, I just got to stay away from this place this time of year." What exactly brings you back? Is it the Masters, and your thoughts on coming back to Houston because you enjoyed your time here?
GREG NORMAN: I think we touched on that in the opening part of the conference. Maybe you just walked in. I do have a lot of allergies. I did get a lot of allergies at the Woodlands. Haven't experienced them here yet. Maybe my allergy symptoms have changed over a period of time. Who knows? Haven't been affected here.
That was one of the main reasons why I didn't come back here for that reason. It took me quite a few days to get over it. I enjoyed playing here. I had a chance of winning the tournament a couple of times. Never did. But, you know, I think this is one of the great areas of the United States that supports golf on a phenomenal level. Shell has been incredible like that. I missed playing here, and yes, I do have a lot of good friends and family members here or past family members here. We still stay in touch. So there's no reason not to come back.
Q. Greg, beyond your companionship, are there practical ways that Chris, because she was such an amazing athlete at the highest level of her sport, has been able to help you with golf?
GREG NORMAN: I don't think it's helping me with golf. It's helping me with the approach to things that needs to be put in place.
As Freddie knows, there's very few people in the world know what it's like to attain a certain level. There's a lot of people -- there's thousands of No. 2s and 10s, thousands of No. 3s, and there's hundreds of thousands of everybody elses. It's no different whether you're in sport or whether you're in business or in life in general.
As Freddie knows, as you had reach this certain plateau, it's a very tight circle, and tennis is no different than golf and no different than any other top echelon sport.
We can go talk to a quarterback who played in the Super Bowl and know exactly how he feels as you're getting ready to release the ball. If he doesn't release it right, they're going to lose the Super Bowl.
Everybody goes through the same emotional feelings. Chrissie sees it the same way. She's somebody who has been there, and she understands what it is, and she's won and lost.
No matter how times you've won, you still lose, and it's the understanding of those losses and how you relate to it going forward, and she's been a great supporter of mine to say, "Go back out there and play if you. If you want to play, play."
As an athlete, there's no better feeling when you have that, "Okay, I want to go play, let me go play," and you have the support behind you.
CHRIS REIMER: Get into some Presidents Cup questions now. Do you have one?
Q. Ask you a question about Phil Mickelson, if you don't mind. With the way he's started this year, do you guys think he has a chance of overtaking Tiger for the No. 1 ranking in the world and staying there? Do you think that's possible?
GREG NORMAN: He's looking at you.
I'll gladly answer the question.
FRED COUPLES: First of all, I don't pay that close attention to it, so I never realized where if Tiger would have done this and Phil came to Houston and won, you know, he would be the No. 1 player.
I don't really know the facts and figures of how you become No. 1 when a guy hasn't played for six, seven months, but I believe when he stopped playing after the Open in San Diego he was gobs ahead, ahead of everybody.
But your question is valid. Would it have been surprising? Well, he would have -- Phil would have won another couple tournaments and passed him. Yeah, I think at that time he may have been the better player, but I think Tiger has been the best player for eight years or however long. So it was a little misleading.
But in my opinion, I wouldn't go too far down the list next week with those two guys. They're going to battle forever. What Tiger did last week was phenomenal.
I didn't play -- just a comment. I didn't play any in '07 and came back in '08 without really an injury, and I was very excited to play. I mean, I can't imagine -- Greg has had some surgeries -- what it feels like to swing and do that. So he was testing it for a couple weeks, and then he wins, you know, on a course he's very comfortable with. I'm rambling on here. I think Tiger is the No. 1 player in the world.
GREG NORMAN: I think both players approach the game of golf to win and whatever happens after that is secondary, to tell you the truth. Every time they go out and play, it's more of a media focus on who is No. 1.
And Tiger, like Freddie said, has been streaks ahead of everybody else. As the gap narrows, it becomes more exciting to the media and "Can he overtake him, or who can overtake Tiger?" It's the logical excitement to have.
It's good for the game of golf to have two guys vying for it, or three. I'd love to see four, five guys up there, not just two. But I think the players themselves, they just go play. Tiger Woods to me is the best clutch putter I've ever seen in the game of golf. I think he and Nicklaus are equal inside 6 feet out. Outside 9 feet, Woods is by far the best you've ever seen play the game. I think Tiger's ball striking was better in 2000. His putting now to his ball striking in 2000, he would win every golf tournament by four, five, fix shots, wouldn't you agree, Freddie?
His ball striking is not as good now. His mind is better. The putting is better. He's a lot more exciting to watch nowadays because you don't know what's coming out. Before you knew just going to be perfect, perfect, perfect. Hit it, miss the putt, doesn't matter, he's going to shoots 68, 63, whatever it is.
Phil, on the other hand, he just is very, very -- more enjoyable to watch in a lot of ways because he just goes after everything and he's also a great short game, probably on a par both them, the same short game.
What I'm leading up to, who is the best player? I think if you look at all the categories that they go through, driving to mid, long iron, medium iron, short iron, sand play, I think they're both pretty much the same. I think Tiger got him on the mental edge and Tiger has got him outside 9 feet, and that would be my assessment on the two.
I think it's going to be interesting to watch the two of them play out, and I agree with Freddie a hundred percent, next week it's going to be a Tiger and Phil show because the golf course sets up perfectly for both those players. And I've always said that Augusta National suits a left-hander easier than it does a right-hander because a left-hander can hit his driver more places.
We had to hit 3-woods, like 14, 13. He can hit that cut driver and be way down there a lot further than that we can be.
And even on No. 2 to a lot of degrees, Freddie. I've always thought good lefty, good power lefty got a little bit more advantage around Augusta than a power righty.
Q. Does it strike either of you two guys how odd, how lost in the shuffle the guy who actually won the last two Majors of the last year is? We've got a guy who will win his third Major in a row and yet it's --
GREG NORMAN: I don't think it is from our point of view.
Q. You don't hear much about them.
GREG NORMAN: Nobody asked us questions about them. The questions are Tiger and Phil.
Q. That's why I'm asking.
GREG NORMAN: We know the players out there who are playing very well. Going from -- I never played the PGA, so Freddie you might have a better comment on that. That was a long golf course, lot of rough. He's got his own personal pressure on himself, knowing hopefully I can slip under the radar screen and nobody is going to bring any attention to me and I can just do my thing and go there, win my third one in a row.
I think he's hoping a whole lot of attention isn't brought to him.
CHRIS REIMER: We'll get into the Presidents Cup. October 6th through 12 at Harding Park in San Francisco. Start with Captain Couples. Obviously, you've talked now a little bit about the success that you've seen Tiger and Phil have lately, but also a lot of success from the young players with Nick Watney, Dustin Johnson, even Sean O'Hair and Anthony Kim will likely be playing in his first Presidents Cup. Just talk about some of the guys from the United States.
FRED COUPLES: Right. Well, you know, I've looked at this pretty closely, and I believe there's going to be the usual guys in this event, at least six or eight of them. I looked at Jim Furyk is outside there right now but Stewart Cink and Anthony Kim for his first time. These are polished players, guys that play a lot, get a lot of points and win, and I think anytime you're a Captain of anything, it's a heck of a lot easier when your team is set-up where people are winning, making the team, and then obviously Jay and I later on down the line will have two picks.
We discussed that thoroughly a few times. Even when that time comes, it will be pretty easy for Jay and I to accomplish the 11th and 12th players.
Every week that I play, this I think my sixth event or seventh event, there's new people come up. Nick Watney played with in Palm Springs, and he's a very good friend and talked to him a little about some other things that were off the course and told him he needed to pay attention to it on the course. And he's done that every week, and I'm very proud of him.
And then there's a few other guys, you know, making their way up the list. But basically it's so early now that all I'm paying attention to is bumping into a few guys that are excited about maybe being on the team, the Hunter Mahans, who have played the first Ryder Cup. These are great young players I want on the team, and if they're close, they'll probably be chosen to be on the team.
There's not a whole lot to worry about. There won't be much in a surprise. And that's basically it. I think as we get into, you know, maybe July and Augusta through a couple of these Majors where guys start to battle and you might see a guy down the list play well in the couple Majors, that's kind of what you want to look forward to.
CHRIS REIMER: Captain Norman, kind of what with what you've seen out of international side. Geoff Ogilvy with two wins.
GREG NORMAN: Geoff speaks for himself. I agree with what Freddie is saying. Right now is not the time to be paying too much attention to the list because the list is going to vary and it is going to adjust. My focus is like having conversations with some of the top players, like Adam Scott or Ernie Els and understanding where their psyche is.
You know, they may not be going through the best of times on the golf course themselves right now, but they're both -- both their incentives is to play better for the game of golf and for themselves, and as they play better they're going to work their way back into being ready for the Presidents Cup. I'm not really worried about the top echelon of the players. Where I get really excited about is my group of guys from about 20 down to 40.
From an International perspective, you know, with Freddie he has all the U.S.A team members. I've got a -- gobs of great players on an international level coming from multiple different countries.
The players like, for example, I know he's not even on the this list now, but I look forward into the future for the Presidents Cup is somebody like a Danny Lee or an Ishikawa, players of that ilk really thinking about the Presidents Cup, believe it or not, that they're such at a young age that I'm going to play a practice round with them at Augusta on Monday just to see where their mindset is.
The future for the International team, going forward into the future is phenomenal with all the young blood coming in. It bodes well. It shows to the old guys, the regulars who think and assume they're going to be on the team that "Hey, I better watch out. As the guillotine starts to drop, gets closer and closer to the date, there might be some young kid coming through that might be never even thought of."
So as a Captain, I very excited about our opportunity of putting together a very eclectic team going forward. And I think 2009, with Freddie, come July, that's when you start paying a little bit more attention to the players. I get a report every two weeks on my players, and I try and understand where they're playing, how they're playing, what their psyche through their scores. You can formulate pretty good plan and understand how the players are playing. I was extremely happy to see Retief win. That was a great shot in the arm for us, because he was a guy who I know wants to be on the team, was disappointed about his performance over the last year, and now he's won. So that's a little bit of one less bit of a sweat bead not rolling off my forehead.
FRED COUPLES: I have a quick question. Is this Danny Lee another guy I need to lose sleep over? Can be on your team? (Laughter). He's eligible -- wow.
GREG NORMAN: I think prior to the Masters, is that correct? Has that been confirmed? He's turning pro?
FRED COUPLES: Andy, put that name down there on that list, please.
Q. Kind of along those lines, Freddie, if you're looking at Top 50, you're going to have a lot fewer choices than he has. Can you speak to that as why maybe that's happened over the years, International players?
FRED COUPLES: Ask that one more time.
Q. How strong do you think they are, especially in the Top 50.
FRED COUPLES: Their team is phenomenal. Our team is phenomenal. We've had huge success in the Presidents Cup. I don't know why.
A I mean everyone asked what we do different, what we do different. But pound for pound, it's a heavyweight match, and the Villegases that are coming on strong in the last couple of years, and of course my buddy, Adam Scott, who with Retief Gossen, guys I played with, we could not beat them in the Presidents Cup.
But our success, you know, is great, and then I've looked at this -- you know, the PGA Tour has, like Greg has said, has given us plenty of information. If I go down my list, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Kenny Perry, Justin Leonard, Steve Stricker, Stewart Cink, Jim Furyk is 11th. That's seven guys that probably have been on every Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup in the last ten, 12 years.
They're battle tested. But, you know, Greg's team is battle tested, too, because they win all over the world.
My team is probably easier to pay attention to, but when it comes down to it, they all fill out very easily. Greg will have, you know, two picks. Mine will be U.S., probably best friends, you know. Greg may have a guy from South Africa and someone from China or somewhere.
So it's very -- totally different teams. And his team will be stacked with six, seven, the same guys that play in the Presidents Cup, too. As he said a minute ago, you know, another two, three months, this will start itching its way to being two, very, very good teams playing in San Francisco.
Q. As you get closer, how hard do you think it's going to be to handle being responsible for so many other guys instead of you spend your careers being responsible for one guy and your game being in shape? How hard do you see that being as you get closer?
GREG NORMAN: I don't think it's going to be hard at all, because Freddie and I have great rapport and relationships with the majority of these guys on this piece of paper. We play golf with them. We talk to them. I think a lot of them probably look up to us. The younger ones look up to us to what we have done on the golf course. They kind of respect us in a lot of ways.
To me, I'm going to speak for myself, I don't think it's going to be hard at all. I think I'm looking forward to it. Sometimes it's the other stuff away from it that gets a little bit okay, you have to zero in on this, make a decision on this, get it done. You have to spend a little bit more time on that. That's part and parcel. We knew when we accepted the captaincy that there was all encompassing in a lot of things.
So from a player's speculative, I probably look forward to that more than I do a lot of other things.
FRED COUPLES: I would agree totally that the easiest part will be arriving Sunday night prior to the tournament starting. There's a lot of decisions to be made, but, you know, these are all -- I've been on the team with most of these guys. Not Anthony Kim, but I live in Palm Springs. I see him all the time. We've joked about every scenario possible with him.
I think the best thing will be is what Greg and I will do with the 12 guys. It will be truly -- it's an honor to be Captain, but the second part is I've played so much individual golf and been on a lot of teams that now -- I'm in charge of them, but really they're in charge of themselves.
If we go there and get a lead the first day and everyone plays well, it will be a fun week. If we go there and they're ahead of us the first day and they're playing better, it will be a fun week. It's not going to be life or death. It's going to be a lot of fun.
Greg and I will probably laugh at a few things that we do when we're making our teams and look at each other and trying to figure it out, because my looking into this, as he's always said, is to make it better but make the players have more fun. It's a lot -- it's a very laid back event for everyone who has been. There there's a lot of work. The players have to do a lot, but they get a little bit of free rein, and we all like that.
As captains, I'm going to try to give them as much free rein as I can. Because they're not used to being told what to do. When they are, just like I did, you kind of get bitchy about it (laughter). When you're there -- the truth hurts.
So you're trying to deal with Ernie Els and Retief Goosen, who are good friends, it's very simple. You're trying to deal with other guys who don't even speak the language, that's a tough barrier. They're going to look at Greg like he's a hero. So we have it pretty easy, I must say, pretty easy.
GREG NORMAN: Follow-up on that, what I am doing right now is the direct confidential communication you have. I will set up a direct website in my office that these players can write to me, and it's confidential, nobody reads it. I get it and that's it. I respond to them just saying any information or history that you've had from past experiences in the Presidents Cup, let me know.
It's a great outlet for them because a lot of guys, when we play on a team as Freddie said, we might get bitchy with each other as team members saying what, why are we doing this or that. Very seldom could you go as an outlet and say to the Captain, "Boy, I don't want to do this. Give me a break. I need to go to bed early. I need to put my feet up. I've got something wrong with me."
Now you put together this list of what the players have experienced in the past, positive and negative, and what they'd like to see implemented going forward. You can't fulfill everybody's wishes, but you can formulate the desires of what a team is looking for. And as Freddie says, they're all individuals and our responsibility as Captains is when we get there Sunday, the only job they got to do is play golf and play the best golf they can possibly play.
It's interesting to read some of the comments that players have to make.
CHRIS REIMER: Few more.
Q. Freddie, leading up to the Ryder Cup this year, there was so much talk that this was going to be a better team because Tiger wasn't going on it. Then, of course, when they won, it was some talk that oh, they won because Tiger was not on it.
Your thoughts on that.
FRED COUPLES: I've been asked that a few times, and it's usually the same answer. I'm thrilled to death Tiger Woods is probably going No. 1 on the list or, you know, if he takes a little time off, Phil may pass him. But as Greg said, he's the most clutch -- what Ernie Els and he did quite a few years ago in South Africa, I wouldn't wish on anybody and they -- I was at home watching.
I literally didn't root for the United States, I rooted for both of them, and we've changed a couple of those rules, but just that in itself, if they look back and think oh, if they have another guy that could have made those 8 and 10 and 12-footers, then I hope he's also on that list.
One thing Tiger, I texted Tiger a lot the other day. The other day I congratulated him. He said, "Yeah, I got a lot of Ryder Cup points."
I said, "That's really nice of you, but it's the Presidents Cup year."
"I know, I know what year it is."
That's the most fun about being ribbed. He's texted back the same thing. "Do you want me on your team? My knee can be bad that week. You guys won the Ryder Cup." It's all fun stuff, but I need him on the team, and we played extremely well in the Ryder Cup, and Paul Azinger did a phenomenal job.
Q. Along those lines, can there be a tie at Harding Park?
FRED COUPLES: I'm going to say no but -- we can tie. There you go.
GREG NORMAN: You can, yeah.
Q. That was the big problem down in South Africa.
GREG NORMAN: I suggested the Captains play off --
FRED COUPLES: We'll sit around seven days and go play -- or the 15th hole at Harding Park. Wow. That would be good, though.
Q. Great drama. Jack and Gary wanted to do it.
FRED COUPLES: Yeah, sure they did.
CHRIS REIMER: You can always pick yourselves for the team if you want to do that.
FRED COUPLES: I get into a lot of events if I pick myself to play for a couple years.
CHRIS REIMER: We want to thank you guys for joining us. Best the luck, not only this week, next week, but at the Presidents Cup as well.
End of FastScripts