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October 9, 2009

Fred Couples

Greg Norman


CHRIS REIMER: We want to welcome International Team Captain Greg Norman and United States Captain Fred Couples. After two days of the 2009 Presidents Cup, the United States team up 6 1/2 - 5 1/2. Captain Norman, if you don't mind starting, maybe some opening comments about today's matches.
GREG NORMAN: Great. That's how I think the end result, from our perspective, we looked like we were down -- well we were down 5-1 in our matches. To come out with a push just was an admirable job by my guys.
Tim Clark, to do what he did at the end, to come down to make eagle to win that match was really the shot in the arm. I can tell you our team cabin is very, very happy right now and very excited about the way we turned things around today, because it really could have been a disastrous situation if the trend just kept going the way it was going.
CHRIS REIMER: Captain Couples, you still have a lead, that has to be pleasing going into day three.
FRED COUPLES: To a degree, it's either a short lead or a small lead, but as Greg said at one time, we were up, but barely up, and his guys certainly have as much fight as our guys, and they battled back, and we did lose a couple of matches. But we won one that we thought we might not win even though we were up.
You know, Timmy Clarke, eagling that last hole was a big boost for them, but at the same time our guys are awfully excited about the way they are playing. That's a key thing. Greg's guys were great today, to battle back and get three points when they needed to was a good finish.

Q. Was it your plan all along to keep Tiger and Stricker together, or was it something where you felt compelled to just veer off the plan and keep them together because of how they have played?
FRED COUPLES: Well, quickly, they wanted to play together. And Stricker thought they would be a great best-ball team, and Tiger thought they would be a great alternate-shot team.
So when we got here, we were going to put them together, and obviously they won the first match and then they won again today. So until they get tired of each other, they are going to play again and again and again.

Q. It seems that as you were saying, that there was a lot of fight in the team. It seems that when you're getting to those closing holes, your guys are somehow pulling out a half a point or a point, and you could be 4- or 5-down by now and you're only 1-down; so talk about that a little bit. And Fred, in reverse, same thing to you.
GREG NORMAN: Well I think that's just indicative of what professional golf is all about. If you're behind the 8-ball, you feel like you've got to dig a little deeper, you have the ability to do that. There's no reflection on the opposing team. Just our guys just came up with the shots at the right time.
Hopefully, and I said to my guys in the team room, I said, "Maybe we should just miss those tomorrow. So get your matches over and done with early." My guys are very comfortable with those golf holes, and the way it balanced out, and look, just take Tim Clark and Vijay, for example. There's role reversals on those holes. You would think that Tim Clark was going to birdie 17, because he's a really good pitcher of the golf ball and a very good putter, so you would think he would have made it. Well he makes it and he eagles the last when you think Vijay would eagle the last.
There's no real secret formula why it happens. It did happen. You never know. Things could be different over the weekend. But at the moment, the guys feel very, very comfortable coming to those holes.
FRED COUPLES: Yeah, I was behind the 16th green yesterday for probably an hour, and I looked forward, saw some birdies and I turned around, I watched Adam Scott drive the green, Goosen drive the green. Those were quality shots.
Our guys did, too. You know, Lucas drove the green. We 3-putted -- obviously we 3-putted the 18th green the last match of the day. But those things are going to happen. And if you're telling me guys are driving greens and knocking it on par 5s in two and making a little blunder by missing a 3-footer, anyone is okay with that.
But as the week goes on, all of the shots are going to be double and triple escalating, too. So our guys know. And I don't believe -- I've watched a lot of shots, but each team is playing very consistent and good golf. If you look at these scores, guys are shooting today 5-, 6-, 7-, 8-under par, which isn't bad. The ones who were 5-under were losing, and the ones who were seven or eight were winning their matches.

Q. Are they playing the last holes necessarily better than your guys?
FRED COUPLES: Well, yesterday Lucas Glover drove it on the green and Allenby drove it, not one of his best drives. And Vijay hit an unbelievable pitch, they made birdie, and we 3-putted.
And on the 18th hole, Justin Leonard hit a wood 30 feet short of the hole and Goosen hit a very good wood and chipped it up close and you would think we had the advantage.
It's not that we are butchering the holes, but those guys are playing them awfully solid and we are hitting good shots. In a medal play tournament, you would walk in and say, I left a shot or two out there. And in match play, if you're 1-up and leave a shot or two on those holes, you're 1-down and that's what we have done.

Q. Could you talk about putting Sean with Phil tomorrow and what you're expecting to see; is he going to get a boost out of that do you think?
FRED COUPLES: We are hoping. Sean is a great kid, has played very well and not made any putts. Phil has wanted to play with Sean and we wanted Sean to feel comfortable, of all the guys, which doesn't mean he's playing poorly, it just means it's his first time. He's played with Hunter and we decided to split those two up. Today we chose Phil to go out and play alternate-shot tomorrow morning.

Q. Your decision tomorrow morning to sit down your No. 1 player, on paper at least, I guess isn't something you took lightly; how hard a decision was that, and how did Geoff take the news, and what's he had to say about his play so far this week? I'm sure he's disappointed.
GREG NORMAN: Well, it wasn't a decision I made on my own. It's a decision -- I had a conversation with Geoff independently. I took him into another room and talked to him about how he's feeling. I'm always a big believer in respecting how a player feels.
And it wasn't easy. I said to him -- "Geoff, the most important thing for me is that you are there tomorrow afternoon and you're there for the weekends, Sunday." I said, "We need you. If you're feeling a little bit out of sync for whatever reason, if tomorrow morning is going to make you feel better." And he said, "I would be happy doing that. "
So it wasn't my call, it was a call between the two of us. It was a joint decision.
And obviously it goes over to making a decision, okay, who else would be. And then Angel, he just basically asked me, he said, "I'd just like to have a rest so I can be ready on Sunday." I said, "Okay, if you want a rest, you can take a rest." Because everybody else wanted to play. That was really an easy decision for me. I didn't have to think about it -- I actually thought about somebody else. But when he came up to me and he volunteered it, I said, fine.
And you have to respect the feelings of the players, simple as that. You can't ask them to do something they don't want to do. And quite honestly, both those players were very happy to receive that position or situation they are in.
They will be fine. All they need is just a little rest, and Geoff's played a lot of golf of late. Quite honestly, he was beaten up a lot, too. He was against Tiger and Stricker for two straight days. He felt like he was playing okay, fairly decent golf yesterday, and he just got into a buzzsaw. And sometimes you need to -- you don't throw the baby out with the bath water, but you want to get rid of the bath water so the baby can swim the next couple of days and be okay.
So I think it was just a good move for him to say that it was time for him to take a rest.

Q. A year ago, I asked captain Couples this question about the golf course, and how different it is or unique it is than the other golf courses where the Presidents Cup has been contested. Captain Norman, now that we are a couple of days into the matches, your thoughts on that?
GREG NORMAN: About Harding Park?

Q. Yes, sir.
GREG NORMAN: I think everybody likes Harding Park. For a public golf course and the number of rounds that get played here on an annual basis, I think it holds up very, very well. In my mind, as a player and as an architect, it would be so ease to make this one of the best golf courses in America. That probably won't take place because it needs money, but it's a great venue. The players like it. Every one of my guys, to a tee, says it's great to get on a golf course where you actually have to maneuver the ball off the tee. A lot of golf courses we play nowadays are just flat-out, bomb it straight and away it goes, and at least this one here, you have to work the ball. So it's got a lot of style about it. It's got a lot of style about it from a golfer's perspective.

Q. Greg answered why he sat the two people he's sitting tomorrow morning, and how did you make your decision?
FRED COUPLES: We all huddled up in the room and went over lots of things, and basically our pairings were pretty much there, except for the guys to sit, and there would be two groups and we were going to flip-flop a couple of things. We decided to sit AK and Lucas for really no rhyme or reason. You know, two guys have to sit. It's the hardest, I think the hardest thing besides picking two guys about a month ago.
You know, they are all big boys in there. Nobody is whining and complaining that they are not getting to play five matches. They are getting a ton of golf.
I just felt like -- I polled four or five, six guys, actually, and I didn't bring in the two guys that we sat, because I felt like there were four of them that were probably going to sit. And we decided on AK and Lucas.

Q. Can you talk about having another group against Stricker and Woods and what do you think about that and had you talked to them about that before you stuck them into that buzz saw?
GREG NORMAN: Yes, I did bring it up to them. You have to ask the guys when they want to tee off what time they would like -- Goosen wanted to tee off first. He really wanted to go play first tomorrow, so we have Goosen and Camilo out of the gate.
And then you ask, okay, if Tiger gets drawn, well, I was the first up, so it was a lot easier that way, but if Tiger goes up second or third, anybody would like to go. Mike Weir and Tim Clark says, "Yeah, we'll play them." So those guys stepped up to the plate. They don't have any problem with them.
I think if you're a player I would want to, too. I would step up to the plate. If you're afraid of losing, then you're going to lose. If you have no fear -- no matter who you play, you've just got to go and play your best golf. If a guy goes out and shoots a score like they did in the alternate-shot the other day, you're only going to get beat unless you shoot a phenomenal score. So you should never play the individual or the name of the person or the reputation. You just go out there and play. And both of these guys said, we'll go play them, it doesn't bother us.
And here you have probably two of the relatively shortest hitters in the 24-man field going against one of the relatively longest hitters and one of the greatest putters this year with Strick. They were actually relishing the chance of stepping up to the plate tomorrow.
CHRIS REIMER: Thank you for coming in and good luck tomorrow.

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