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October 7, 2009

Fred Couples

Greg Norman


LAURA HILL: I'd like to welcome Captains Greg Norman and Fred Couples. I think we will get right to the news at hand with the pairings. Give us your impression of how things have matched up and we'll skip right to questions.
GREG NORMAN: I actually thought from my perspective it went very, very well. I anticipated Freddie doing exactly what I would have done in the same situation. I think it's always good when you look all the way through to Sunday when you have that last card in your hand, so we anticipated that; and as for my team, I can only speak about that. My guys are very, very well balanced. They like the format. They like the golf course. The pairings, we talked about it last night, we were very open with the guys and get 100 percent support on the team for it.
As it played out, it is what it is. You've got 24 great players here. You can put them all in a hat together and pull them all out so you'll still have great matches, irrespective of how it makes out. As I said the other day, the ball is in their court and they are going to get to the first tee and just do what they love to do, play great golf.
FRED COUPLES: I agree totally. I think we went too fast in there. We came over here and you guys weren't even in the room yet. I agree with Greg. That was a lot of fun in there. He has so many guys that have played on a lot of Presidents Cup teams, as do I. I think for our guys, the alternate-shot, they basically came to me and told me who they wanted to play with, and that's how we did it.
Jay and I tried to match up a couple times that we could with Greg's team and he did the same with us and it looks like we both did pretty well. But again, it's easy, as he said, with 24 of the top players in the world, you're not going to get a bad pairing in The Presidents Cup.

Q. Did you have an instance where guys came up requesting the same partner, and if so, how did you deal with that?
FRED COUPLES: Same partner on my team?

Q. Like if Phil Mickelson and O'Hair both requested to play with an Anthony Kim or something like that.
FRED COUPLES: Well, we've been here 2 1/2 days and guys have been talking a lot. To be honest with you, Anthony Kim and Phil played at The Ryder Cup and enjoyed it, so that was a pretty easy one. We have two young guys, Hunter and Sean, who play a lot together. And the list goes on and on.
You know, Jim Furyk and Justin Leonard had a light game, so they have come to us, Jay and I, more about the best-ball. The alternate-shot I think is somewhere where people fit the schemes, one guy who drives it a long way, maybe not quite as straight, the other guy doesn't mind playing out of the rough; and then you get two guys like a Jim Furyk and a Justin Leonard who live and die by very consistent and solid play, they are a great team to put up.

Q. How quickly did this come together, were the decisions all made within the last couple of days or were there some input over the last few weeks? And for Greg, how much input did you take from your players about requests?
FRED COUPLES: Well, his is long -- for me, again, we have The Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup, and he's going to answer his questions.
These guys have been, except for Sean O'Hair, and he's fitting in tremendously, but all of these guys have played a lot of golf together in big events, not on the PGA TOUR. So my pairings were very easy.
GREG NORMAN: And my pairings were, too. We had an Option A and an Option B. What I did early on about ten days ago, I e-mailed all my team members confidentially. I'm the only one who got the response. It's all confidential. And I asked six very pointed questions. I'm not going to tell you what those questions are, but I'm sure you can assume some of the content. And every one of my players came back to me with six very succinct answers, and those answers helped me and Frank Nobilo, and Frank Nobilo don't even know the answers to these questions, helped me formulate and understand the mind-set of this eclectic group of international players.
So that helped me tremendously. So I knew getting on the plane when I got the last e-mail back on Sunday, that I had a very, very good idea of who wanted to be with who. There's a difference between playing the alternate-shot and the fourball. Some people might like and enjoy relish playing against somebody. A lot of my guys play here on the U.S. Tour on a full-time basis and a lot of the guys are very good friends with a lot of guys on the U.S. tour, so you have to take those sensitivities into place; do you want to play a great friend of yours or do you want to play somebody you don't like.
So I had a very good understanding of where I was heading straight off the bat; a week ago, actually.

Q. Fred you had said that Tiger and Furyk would play together. Is that still in the works for later in the tournament? Or why did you end up with Tiger/Stricker? And just how much the course affected both of your decisions, how much do you consider the style needed at this particular course.
FRED COUPLES: Real quickly, Tiger and Steve both wanted to play together. They came way back at Liberty National which I believe was the first Playoff event and that was a given. They deserved that.
To answer your question, the course, I think Greg -- both teams have it very nice tomorrow. We are not playing at eight in the morning. They are great tee times today and tomorrow. So the course should be just like it is right now. So it will be not ridiculously long, but just long enough, and we feel like great iron play will be a key factor in this. Obviously putting is in any golf event, but the golf course is very nice and it's playing -- it's playing the same almost every day for our three days.
GREG NORMAN: Yeah, I agree 100 percent with Freddie. It is an iron player's golf course, and the rough is not that penal, so whether you're a power player or whether you're a steady player, you can get the club head through the rough very easily. Most of the greens, if you drive it in the rough, you can have access to the front of the green. So it's not that germane off the tee. So yeah the golf course is balanced. It really is. It's got good flow to it. The interesting part about it, the scorecard, if somebody tees off on the even holes tomorrow, they tee off on a lot of par 4s, so as Freddie said, you get down to the putting then, so somebody has to be making a lot of par putts. That one person. And then the golf course balance out, except for that one thing you have to take into consideration, that's up to the players and the teams now to figure that out for themselves.

Q. Your thoughts on pairing Geoff Ogilvy and Ishikawa.
GREG NORMAN: I asked Geoff, I went to him earlier in the week and I asked him, because he's one of the statesmen of the game. He is as consistent as you can get as a player. And I asked him, do you have any problems playing with Ryo. He said, I was going to tell you somewhere during the week before that I wanted to play with him, so that was an easy one.
Like Freddie, some of these pairings were predetermined because of the players, they want to play with their friends and they want to play with a like-minded player and they want to play with a guy with a similar golf ball. I would say 50 percent of our team picked themselves.

Q. And Fred, your thoughts on putting Woods and Stricker against Ogilvy and Ishikawa?
FRED COUPLES: Well what we were trying to do was put Tiger and Steve in the four or five slot and so then it just came down to really where Greg had put them up there and they went right in there.
So our guys, all of them, like Greg, asked a lot of questions, and we wanted guys where they would like to play. So we tried to get Hunter and Sean out, it's Sean's first Presidents Cup, get them out early so they are not looking at score boards, where emotionally guys are 2-up after four or down two after four. As for Tiger Woods, we felt like we wanted him in the four or five slot for today.

Q. Were there any -- you must have, over the weeks and months, been thinking about different things that the other team would do. Were there any surprises that Greg threw up, and vice versa; and Adam and Ernie, what was the motivation behind that?
FRED COUPLES: Well, real quick, for me, I've been on -- I've played against every one of their teams, most of them, except for probably -- well, Camilo, and I keep looking at him like he's a TOUR veteran, but for really, Ryo and Yang. I use the word easy. This was a no-brainer. He's got the greatest guys in the world, I have the greatest guys in the world. There's no animosity. They are going to grind it out and battle. I don't know if in eight Presidents Cups there's ever been any kind of problems. I'm certainly not going to let any happen.
But when we put our pairings up, we did it so quickly, I didn't look at Tim Clark who gets under his skin and that. These guys tell me where they want to play and it fit in there. Just like Anthony Kim and Phil want to play early and set a tone as best they can. And Tiger wanted to go in the middle. And I had four other groups I had to place in there as soon as he put his guys down.
GREG NORMAN: It's interesting what Freddie said about Anthony and Phil, because Mike and Tim wanted to get out in the first group, and then Mike definitely wanted to be the leader of the pack. He feels good about that. He wants to be out there going forward and keep going forward. So here our mindsets are exactly the same, the one pairing on each of the respective teams both wanted to go, so that's where they got.
And the rest -- none of my guys were concerned about playing anybody. We weren't sitting there going, okay, if this happens here, I want to play this guy. Because you really can't determine what Freddie is going to put up. And then we have a situation where Retief wanted to come in the fifth or sixth group, and same with Geoff Ogilvy. He wanted to play five or six. And so you have their wishes on where they want to play, who they play against really didn't matter.
As for Ernie and Adam, they are both great friends and they both wanted to play with each other. They have got compatible games in a lot of ways. Ernie used to play the Titleist ball and Adam plays the Titleist ball. So a lot of that comes into play. So that was a no-brainer for both of them. He said, "Look, I want Scotty." So if he wants Scotty, he's going to get Scotty.

Q. Other than Weir asking about leadoff, did any of the players on either team ask to face a specific player?
GREG NORMAN: Not on my team.
FRED COUPLES: Not on mine either, no.
Alternate-shot is a very -- we all know it's difficult, but it's an emotional thing, whereas Jay is not in here, but I played with Jay in The Ryder Cup, why I don't know; I drove it all over the lot, he's never been in the rough in his life. I've never hit 4-irons to par 4s, so, you know, I'm not going to pick on my guys this week and make those comments (laughter).
Greg will tell you where today is a day, like he said, for Mike Weir and Tim Clark to feel good. Anthony and Phil they just want to get out there. There are six teams and they will do their best to go to town and see how they do.

Q. Will it come to singles where guys say, I want to face so and so?
FRED COUPLES: An easy answer would be yes.
GREG NORMAN: Guys feel comfortable playing certain guys mano-a-mano. When alternate-shot, with a partner, it's a different thought process on how you go into that -- well, say rest of the 18 holes. So when you go up, like Freddie and I, we go up against each other, we know each other, we know how to play each other, we know our moods and mannerisms and speed of play so you can make that adjustment very, very quickly because of the history we have playing one-on-one. And one-on-one happens when you play on Saturdays and Sundays. So that definitely comes into play then.
LAURA HILL: Thank you for your time. Good luck tomorrow.

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