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October 11, 2009
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
MARK WILLIAMS: Ladies and gentlemen, we would like to welcome Captain Norman and Vice Captain Frank Nobilo and some of the members of the International Team. Captain Norman, if you can just make a statement about your team and your effort this week and what it's like as an experience first time as a captain and we'll just open up to questions for everybody.
GREG NORMAN: From my perspective it was a great week. I know we didn't win The Presidents Cup, but at the end of the day, getting to know these 13 guys the way I got to know them over the last seven days was a victory in its own right.
I know we came here to win The Presidents Cup. I know each and every one of these guys gave 101 percent of their concentration and they are effort and their willingness and their desire to win The Presidents Cup.
I think if you look back over the series of the last four days, and the five competitive rounds of golf, I think the Americans probably just out-putted us a little bit; from a ball-striking perspective I think my guys stacked up shot for shot except just getting the ball in the hole a little bit quicker.
The format is very much indicative of that type of need, to get the ball in the hole quicker, but at the end of the day, I know I'm proud of my guys and I know I'm very, very proud of the event and to leave here we should hold our heads high, but also leave here knowing that we can work on a few things to make sure that we have a good chance of winning The Presidents Cup in 2011.
Q. Tiger, Phil and Stricker came up very big for the U.S. Team. Can you talk about their influence on this match?
GREG NORMAN: Well, I think when you get one or two guys really teaming together like Woods and Stricker did, you know you're going to get four out of those five points -- well, actually Woods won all five matches, I believe. That's huge. If he only wins three out of those five, then the whole match is a lot closer than what it is.
But that's what you expect out of your No. 1 player in the world. You need him to step up to the plate and sometimes he hasn't done that, and this time he did do it. I think that was the swing factor, the momentum factor that really changed momentum for us on, I think it was the alternate-shot with Mike Weir and Tim Clark. To be from 1-down with two to go that they were to swing that around and turn it around with 1-up, that was crucial for them. And I think that was a shot in the arm for Tiger himself and that injected a lot of adrenaline into the rest of the team.
So you need your big gun, and he is their big gun and he stepped up to the plate big time for his team.
Q. What things would you like to see changed in terms of the way the event is played and run; and secondly, Ernie, you've said a few times that the U.S. has a big advantage because six of the eight have been played in North America. Do you think it's still playing -- like the next one will be in Australia. Is it still an advantage or is it a home game for the International Team if you have obviously Ryo and Yang and guys from South America? Is it still the advantage it might have been when it was a lot of Aussies and South Africans, basically, in the team?
ERNIE ELS: Well, yeah, I think this tournament was started by the PGA TOUR, and obviously the first one was played in Washington, D.C., and then they thought they will play it there again, so we got beat there again. The third time they moved it, we went all the way south to Australia. We beat them pretty badly down there. And then we came back, obviously, to the U.S.
So out of the first four, we only played one away, 1-1. When we moved again, we got a tie. So there's certainly something there for us when we move away from here.
Canada, which is just across the border, you know, they beat us. But you know, it sounds like sour grapes. They are just one hell of a team. They are one strong team. You've got, I don't know how many players they have got in the Top-10; I don't think there's too many guys out of the Top-20. So they are one heck of a team.
I think another factor that plays in is that they play this kind of format every year. We have got to think about getting our guys together, either playing a friendly, or really getting together before The Presidents Cup and maybe play something and get the gel going. It's tough getting the guys together and getting some team formation in basically two days of practice rounds.
We have to pretty much go back to the drawing board, because they are a pretty well-oiled team and it's hard to beat that kind of team with momentum. But I think it will help when we go down to Australia. At least they have to get on the jet and experience a little bit of jet-lag themselves and maybe a little bit of heat. I don't know what our captain thinks about that, but that's basically what we think.
GREG NORMAN: Well, I think Ernie is 100 percent right. These guys play The Ryder Cup, even the guys who have not played The Ryder Cup get the experience of the other members of the team who have played alternate-shot. And a lot of their games are very similar, so it's easy to blend them and marry them up. They are all just power players -- obviously Zach Johnson and Justin Leonard are not the power players that the other ten players are.
So Ernie is a 110 percent correct. I just wish everyone in the room had the opportunity to experience the camaraderie we have in our room, considering we are under nine different flags. We actually act like we are under one flag, the International flag, but it's not your home country.
But at the end of the day, for to us do what we do and rally around each other the way we do; when we are meeting new rookies, like Ryo Ishikawa stepping up to the plate and coming into a team atmosphere that he's never experienced before, it's tremendous how we do gel together.
And like I said, that's part of the victory for all of us in a lot of ways.
As for some of the things I think should change, I've already spoken to the Commissioner about it. I'm not going to make them public. Hopefully he does take notice and bring them up to speed, because I think they will be very beneficial for The Presidents Cup, not just for the International Team, but for The Presidents Cup. And the whole idea is for the event to grow in stature, and if we can grow it in stature and get a little bit more of a Ryder Cup-ish history behind us, then The Presidents Cup is going to elevate itself every two years, which I want to see that happen.
Q. Do you think it's a home advantage to play in Australia?
GREG NORMAN: I think it is to some degree, absolutely. There's no better feeling when you walk on the tee and you get announced and you get 85 percent of the people yelling for you instead of ten percent of the people or 15. That's a big psyche. You know that you're getting the people's support when you walk from green-to-tee to hit your next tee shot; or if you're playing in alternate-shot and you're walking down the fairway, you have people cheering you on instead of giving you an earful of something. It's tough. It really is tough. You have to be a very strong, focused individual to really block out a lot of the things that we hear. You guys probably don't hear it, but if you walked around and heard some of the stuff, you would be amazed.
But that's part of it. That's part of a team, whether you play soccer or cricket or rugby or anything, you're going to get that. If you are only doing it once every two years, it's pretty hard to get adjusted to it.
Q. People came in here with playing a couple of practice rounds in high regard of Harding Park; after the tournament, do you look back and think it's a course that's worthy of holding this competition; and you're talking about the crowds, I've been to Ryder Cups and they seem to be a little more vicious, but were the fans here pretty good to the International Team?
GREG NORMAN: I think the fans were great. I made a comment, I think it was like a 70/30 split was my read on it. That would be expected here in San Francisco. We have a lot of ex-pats from all around the world. Obviously the Asian nations are represented very well here. So for Japan and South Korea, you really feel like you had a tremendous amount of support. And there were a lot of Australians and I saw a lot of Canadians out there and I saw a lot of South Africans wearing their rugby jerseys. There was great support out there for us, but it's pretty hard to get a majority of the support and you wouldn't expect that anyway.
As for Harding Park, you'll have to ask the boys that. I've only played it one time. I thought from walking around, looking at it, it was a pretty good test of golf. If you played well, you scored well. If you didn't play well, you're going to struggle a little bit. I think as a golf course, with just a minor adjustments to it, it could be a magnificent golf course worthy of probably holding a PGA or a U.S. Open Championship.
Q. As much as Fred Couples credited Tiger and Phil for their performances this week, he really liked what Sean O'Hair did today. What impressed you most about what he did today, especially for a rookie?
ERNIE ELS: He out-played me. I wasn't totally on my game, but he played very well. Didn't miss too many shots. I played against him earlier in the week. I think myself and Scotty beat him and his partner. They didn't make too many putts that day, and you know, we played pretty well.
But you know, I've known Sean for a very long time. Probably six years now. He used to be coached by a South African, Gary Gilchrist, and started knowing him through him. So I've seen him come through. He's had a couple of difficulties earlier on in his private life, but he's a wonderful guy. I think he's got as much talent as anybody I've seen, so he's got a bright future, and I would believe he's got a chance to become No. 1 in the world one day. He swings it well, he putts it well now, so a great young man.
Q. Without getting into specifics or tipping your hand, could you give us a sense of the certain areas that you think this Cup could use some improvement?
GREG NORMAN: (Shaking head).
Q. We asked Tim. We don't understand the answer. (Laughter).
GREG NORMAN: You think you'd understand my answer? (Laughing).
I don't want to do that. It was a private discussion, it really was. It was something that I told him early on, that if I did notice something over the two-year time period that I thought I didn't necessarily agree with the way things were being operated, and I personally thought could be improved, just out of my sense of understanding of what golf is all about, my sense of understanding as a player what the players are looking for; so I did. There are other things. I just saw him on the tee this morning before we flipped the coin and there was a couple I just mentioned to him, and he took note of it and he said, "I'll bring it up with our committee." What happens after that, I don't know.
Q. It would seem obvious that you would return as captain for Australia. Your thoughts on that?
GREG NORMAN: I don't know whether it's obvious or not. They are going to make the announcement in January. There has not been any -- Tim doesn't show his hand on any aspect of anything, so you've got to sit back there and really wait. Either way, if I don't become captain in 2011, I had a great time this time; I can tell you that. And just to be able to say you captained The Presidents Cup one time would be plenty.
If I was asked to be captain in 2011, yeah, I would absolutely accept it. I think it would be a joy to go to my home country and a golf club that I'm a member at to go and try and finally win the Cup back after ten years. It would be an honor to do it again.
Q. Would you like to?
GREG NORMAN: If he asked me; if he asked me, I would say yes. But he hasn't asked me. So that won't come until January.
Q. What about if Ernie asked you?
GREG NORMAN: If Ernie asked me? I would say yes to Ernie. (Laughter).
Q. Mike, you've been around a few of these, and the results have unfortunately been kind of the same almost every time. Are the American players that much better or do they just play better on this week from your experience?
MIKE WEIR: No, I don't think they are better. I think the fact is, as Greg said, they just seemed to get it in the hole a little quicker. I don't see any it difference when we are playing. It seems to be -- the matches I've been involved with and watching, they seem to be so close and it comes down to a few key things.
Maybe that little extra experience of them playing every year, in this similar format, that is maybe the difference. I don't think any of us 12 guys look across there and think that they are better than we are. That's not it at all. I think, you know, maybe you have to give a better answer than that, but I think the experience factor, maybe it's just the one thing that has maybe gotten them over the hump.
Q. How do you maintain the calm that you were able to maintain this weekend playing against all of these match play veterans and even winning three matches? And Greg, if you could think back to when you were 18, do you think you had the poise that he had?
RYO ISHIKAWA: When Greg first picked me to be on this team, I didn't know if I was worthy to be a part of this team. But when I got here and all of the players looked after me, talked to me, gave me a lot of support, and that really helped me throughout this week.
I just want to thank the captains and all of the players for all of the wonderful support and all of the help that they gave me so I could play this week.
GREG NORMAN: What was I doing when I was 18? I had about a 20 handicap, I was surfing, and I wasn't winning golf tournaments like he is, that's for sure.
I mean this in all sincerity. This gentleman sitting to my left, my immediate left, you have no idea the amount of poise he's got. He only turned 18 a month ago. And for him to be able to walk to the first tee on Thursday like he did and to never expect the reception like he expected; the first tee at The Presidents Cup, especially at Harding Park, it's a very confined space and there's a lot of things happening, people yelling, screaming, cameras going off and everything like that, it can really hit you between the forehead or hit you in the forehead. But the way he conducted himself and handled himself right from the very first moment he's walked onto the golf course and into the team room, you know, we have embraced him and he's embraced us.
And that's the spirit that we talk about with the International Team. And he's a young kid that we have all sat back and read about for months and months and months about how good he is, and playing well in Japan and winning in Japan is great, but stepping up to the plate on the big stage and getting thrown to the wolves against Tiger Woods on Thursday, and then to bounce back the way he's bounced back; there's not too many -- you've got to be in the sport to know how good that is, and you have to be a player to know how good that is.
Q. For Tim and Mike, as non-bombers, your impressions of Harding Park, particularly as a match-play venue; and if either of you have dealt with Tiger in this format before, did you notice a greater intensity, perhaps greater urgency? He has been criticized in the past for not performing the way he did this week.
TIM CLARK: In terms of the course, obviously it played a lot firmer as the week got on and I think that helped us out. But still for us, there were quite a few par 4s that were drivable that were not drivable for us. So that makes quite a difference on the golf course.
And I think the par 5s, we could get to most of the par 5s, I think what was it, 5? One on the front nine we couldn't get to that, maybe some of the longer hitters could. But overall, the par 4s and everything else kind of favored guys like us because it was playing so firm. If you got on the fairway it went out there and if you were in the rough, you had a chance to chase it on to the green. It wasn't like someone came up and put bunkers in front of every green, unlike most of the courses we have been playing lately. I think it was a good course, especially for the match-play format.
MIKE WEIR: I agree with Tim, as it went on it did play a lot firmer. It's a good shot-maker's course. Some nice dog-leg par 4s and you had to get the ball shaping the right way. I agree with Tim on that.
As far as Tiger is concerned, I didn't notice any more intensity. He's always like that. He's Tiger Woods. In our match in particular, we had a great chance, and he had a great putt on 17, and I missed one and I felt really bad for Timmy, because he had played so well.
But I knew he hit a good drive on 18 and I knew I needed to hit it close and I knew the angle Tiger had he was going to hit it in there close. I took a chance trying to hit a hybrid in close to the hole, but it didn't pan out. But we played great and Tim played unbelievable this week. So I was proud of him.
TIM CLARK: I do think Tiger was very comfortable with Steve out there. I think that's the one thing, if I noticed anything, I think he's probably found a partner now that he feels comfortable with and has fun with out there.
Q. I had a question for Ryo, and Ernie, I wouldn't mind your thoughts on it, just given your experience. But being around these guys and in this format this week, did it make you any more comfortable and give you any more outlook toward playing elsewhere next year, whether that's down in Australia at the end of the year or Europe or the U.S.?
RYO ISHIKAWA: When I get back, I'm going to have eight tournaments remaining in Japan, and obviously nothing has been decided for the future, but for now, I'm going to be playing on the Tour in Japan.
Obviously having played with great players all over the world this week, I'll be looking forward to playing with them in the future and I'll be looking forward to playing in America and in foreign lands. I think playing in other countries is going to help my golf game, and obviously in the end, I would like to play on the PGA TOUR and be able to play with the guys that I played with this week, and also I want to be able to play on The Presidents Cup team next time that it comes around, and I'm looking forward to playing with everybody.
ERNIE ELS: You want to ask your question again?
Q. He'll translate it for you.
ERNIE ELS: Okay.
MARK WILLIAMS: Gentlemen, thank you for your time. We look forward to seeing you in Royal Melbourne in two years' time. Thank you.
End of FastScripts