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October 11, 2009

Fred Couples

Michael Jordan

Justin Leonard

Hunter Mahan

Phil Mickelson

Sean O'Hair

Steve Stricker

Tiger Woods


DOUG MILNE: We would like to welcome the victorious American Team who retained the Cup 19 and a half to 14 1/2 points. Congratulations. I know it was a long week, but obviously it paid off very well. Instead of getting general comments from everybody, if we could just ask Captain Couples to just make a few general comments on the week.
FRED COUPLES: On the week? Well, the week was phenomenal. We had a lot of fun every day and the guys played practice rounds together and practiced together and we ate together like any other team. But as the week went on I felt like Jay and I and Michael had an easy job of making pairings. And when I say Michael, you know, he sat with Jay and I several times, and actually came up with a couple great ideas, which helped Jay and I.
But basically these guys played golf and did it all. I would like to say that I didn't have a whole lot to do with it, that's for sure.

Q. Just wondering why all of the veterans have their jackets on and all of the youngsters do not. (Laughter)
JUSTIN LEONARD: (Standing up, eyes wide, looking aghast).

Q. Except for one very notable exception.
SEAN O'HAIR: Is that even worth answering?
HUNTER MAHAN: They are old, they are cold. How about that?

Q. I guess Phil if you could -- Fred said he didn't have much to do with it, but you've played for a lot of captains over the years, but how is this distinctive and how much of a role do you think Fred had in your success?
PHIL MICKELSON: We were talking earlier about how impressed we were with the job that he did. He just seemed to be on top of everything, from even details, which isn't, you know, his personality. He was on top of all of the details. He was on top of who was playing well --
TIGER WOODS: (Stifling laughter).
PHIL MICKELSON: -- how he wanted to match up pairings, how he wanted them to play. I thought he and Jay and Michael did a great job of staying on top of everything and allowing us to play our best.

Q. Tiger, Phil, and Steve were the hottest guys coming into the event and obviously came through for you. How important was it for you to have your three stars put so many points on the board?
FRED COUPLES: I'll answer that easily and quickly. You've got 12 guys on a team; it's very easy to pair teams up. And putting Steve and Tiger together, was a cinch. Phil and AK played well at Ryder Cup. We tried that. And then Phil and Sean hooked up. And then AK and Jim played two very good matches.
So it sounds like they all got the same amount of points but I still had to pair Stewart Cink and Lucas Glover together. We thought they were a natural team. They play the same ball and they have fun. Not everyone is going to win every match; otherwise, it would have been over Friday night.
So it was a fun thing to have Tiger and Steve beat up on everybody, for me, because I wanted Tiger to win every match, and I thought that was important to our team. Now, obviously Phil wants to win every match, Sean O'Hair wants to win every match. But every tournament Tiger plays, everyone wants to know what he's shooting and where he's at, and The Presidents Cup is no different. So for him and Steve to win every match, we basically shut their team down from saying, "Hey, we have them where we want them." We won every time and I think that was a big boost to us.

Q. You've been criticized pretty much every single one of these team things for, you know, lack of this and lack of that; no need to categorize it all. 5-0 this time, winning point, what was that like? And for Steve, looking backward now, it seems like that one you were able to salvage on the 18th hole may have been a key point, because had you lost that, you would have had a one-point lead going into today and maybe anything could have happened.
TIGER WOODS: For me, it was a pleasure and an honor to play with Stricks. He was so solid and so consistent and did all of the right things at the right time. It was just a lot of fun to play with him.
We really gelled well together. You know, I think that the important part, also, too, is that we read greens the same way, and that certainly helps. We kind of had the same type of feel and roll and belief on how we can put. It just seemed like we were able to read greens pretty easily because we putt the same way.
But it was also nice to get out there and get up on the guys early. That's what you have to do in these 18-hole matches and we seemed to do that just about every single match.
STEVE STRICKER: Well, obviously what Tiger did down the stretch there, holing that putt at 17, and then hitting that great 3-iron in there for eagle to put a lot of pressure on them I think was a big turning point in the whole competition. There was a lot of guys that stepped up and fought hard to the very end and brought their matches down to the end.
You know, it's a big team effort, but I think that, like I said, I think that was a big change for the team. It got us an extra point lead going into, you know, the afternoon matches and gave us a big momentum going into the afternoon matches as a team.
But it was a lot of fun to play with them. We had a great time out there, as well as everybody else had a great time out there. But it was a blast to play with him and I learned a lot, and just I felt like I held up my end of the deal, which was a big concern for me coming into this deal, because I knew I was going to play with him. I wanted to make sure I contributed and I felt like I did at times.

Q. For Assistant Captain Jordan. Michael, you've accomplished pretty much everything you set out to accomplish in your sport. Now can you tell us your view of this week and maybe one or two key memories or things you'll always remember from this week being with this team?
MICHAEL JORDAN: Well, actually I feel awkward sitting here with the whole team. Most of the time I do a press conference, the whole team never sits to do press conferences.
But I followed the sport for a long period of time and obviously I've been a big fan of this type of format. And one of the things that I hear all the time is that the U.S. Team is not a team. You know, and the one thing that I saw from day one that I walked into this is that these guys get along -- they are more or less a team than even in my professional sport, from knowing each other's wives and holding the kids and talking and talking through strategies. I think we had a team; we had a team this week. And I think that was one of the things that I saw the most.
And when I walk away from this and any time I see an international or U.S. competition, I know that as a team, you have leaders, you have followers, you have certain role players within a team, and this team is very similar to any championship team I've ever played on where that everybody make their own contribution in whatever respective way they can. That means a lot when you talk about winning. You know, when guys don't win and other guys do win, it's not about wearing it on their sleeves or rubbing it their face. It's about bringing that guy up.
Phil Mickelson, if I had to say anything from my perspective, was able to take guys who had not really been successful on certain days and turned them into -- giving them confidence to help them rebound and get back to their game form. That, to me, symbolizes what a team is all about.
So I take this as an experience as being part of this whole process and learning. Obviously I don't play in team sports anymore, but I'm glad to see that this sport has adapted to a whole team concept. Contrary to what people may say, there is team sports here in professional golf at the right time and at the right moments and the right events. So I'm very proud to be a part of it. You know, I wasn't expecting any questions, so please don't ask me any more questions. (Laughter).
JUSTIN LEONARD: (Patting Michael Jordan on the back. )

Q. You wanted to play against the kid today, wanted to get your thoughts on the match today and also general thoughts on Ryo.
KENNY PERRY: I'm retired. I don't talk anymore. He sent me right into retirement, that kid. (Laughter).
He beat me three matches. He was paired with Y.E. and I lost twice to him. I spent three rounds with him and was pretty impressed. He's very calm, very mature for an 18-year-old. I don't know how many -- but he lives in that world, there's so much media and cameras around this kid. He lives in that world.
I couldn't do it. I don't think I could live in that world. I'd feel like Tiger Woods, I guess. But he played awesome. I threw a lot at him. I knew on the first hole I was in trouble, I hit it in two and he laid up and hit it 25 feet from the hole and he poured it in there like it was nothing. The match was on. We had a good fight. We had a good battle.

Q. You obviously struggled the first couple of days, but bounced back well over the weekend. Can you talk about the impact Phil had and the impact Michael had?
SEAN O'HAIR: I actually played pretty solid all week and putted it fairly well. The putts weren't quite going in the hole the first few matches, but you know, it was nice to early in the week to have MJ kind of try and pump me up a little bit. We talked a little bit, and he took a lot of my money, and you know, then that kind of took me back down. So Phil had to kind of step in there and hook me up yesterday. So it's just nice to play with somebody who made you feel comfortable out there. You know, Phil definitely did that. H and I sucked it up.
HUNTER MAHAN: I didn't suck it up.
SEAN O'HAIR: I sucked it up. (Laughter).
HUNTER MAHAN: I'm just kidding.
SEAN O'HAIR: But you know, with Phil, he just played great, and he just kind of made me feel like I could hit the ball anywhere. And I learned a lot watching him read putts yesterday and it helped me today. I think I was 5- or 6-under par today.
So you know, it was a fun week.

Q. Fred has said that the pairing against Yang was a complete coincidence; that said, what was your reaction when you saw it, I realize it's two completely different contexts, but was there any added significance given what happened at Hazeltine?
TIGER WOODS: I tried to get my point and I got my point.

Q. Was there any thought to your past history with him?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, because you guys kept talking about it. So yes. (Smiling) (laughter).

Q. For Fred or anyone else who wants to answer it; very decisive, impressive victory. What does this prove about your team and/or American golf?
FRED COUPLES: Well, I've been on a lot of teams, I guess that The Ryder Cup American Team last year was a team because they won, but they got up early and they held the lead and they ended up winning. And as Michael said, our guys stepped up. There's not -- I will say again, Lucas and Stewart played some good golf. They got beat by ridiculous scores. Tiger and Steve, Phil and AK won, AK played awesome with Furyk. Sean and Hunter, put them out first today, he won. This was, I don't want to say bashing of my players, but it was the way we sent them out and they performed, and they were magnificent. So I think the players win and the players lose, and if I make a huge blunder, then everyone in the world would know it.
And a little bit last night, Jay and I were talking, we didn't want the pairings like they were. We were trying to go the complete opposite. And I woke up at about 3:30 and for three hours, all I did was think, how are we going to do this and how are we going to do that. That's the only night of the whole week where I worried about anything. I don't know why. Just the other pairings were so easy.
But pairing these guys, they play so well every single round, and it was the easiest thing ever.

Q. What about American golf?
FRED COUPLES: Well, American golf, look at them. They all are top, top players. I don't know how to answer that in a correct way. They are phenomenal. They are Top-10 players on our tour. Hunter and Lucas were hand picked. Hunter -- and Lucas won the U.S. Open and Hunter is one of our top players. You go right down the line, Tiger, Mickelson, Steve Stricker I would love to take them anywhere in the world and play them. You take them with Stewart Cink, British Open champ, it was a win/win spot for me and Jay, I can tell you that much.

Q. What were your thoughts on Vijay conceding that last putt, did it surprise you at all?
LUCAS GLOVER: We were behind Tiger when he made it on 3 and we were pretty much ready to go in then. (Laughter).
We didn't -- we kind of started, I don't know, I don't know what to say. But it was great. It was a good gesture. I'm not sure he knew what the score was, because he came up afterwards and said, "I didn't know that was for a halve. I thought I was 1-up." (Laughter).
No, that was a great gesture. We had a good match. I played well early and he played well late. It was pretty fitting the way it ended. It was pretty cool of Vijay, even if he jokes around and says he didn't know what the score was.

Q. Would you like to do this again or did all of that attention to detail take too much out of you?
FRED COUPLES: Well, I will say this, that coming from Phil Mickelson, that's very, very complimentary, because when I came in here, I thought Phil was going to be my toughest player to deal with out of the 12 guys.
FRED COUPLES: So let him think about it, too. (Laughter) I mean, Jesus, Tiger Woods, you put red shirts on Sunday. I like tan and white, we did that one day. I like gray, we did that. I don't know what the detail is.
If you'd have watched Jay and I the first day, we made the pairings in about three seconds. You know, it's easy. Would I do it again? Hell, yeah, I would do it again. Would I be picked again? I have no idea, but I certainly wouldn't turn it down. It was the week of my -- way better than any golf tournament, ever. It was that much fun. And obviously I'll end it with this, because when I asked Michael to do this, I knew this was going to happen. It's a no-brainer. I think if Jim Furyk was captain and he asked him to come, I would have said, wow, what a move, as a player.
So for me, I knew this was going to happen. I just didn't think it would be that overpowering. It was such a blast. So Michael, we all love you and thank you for coming.

Q. Going back to the Buick Open, I think it's eight tournaments for 11 weeks for you, can you just talk about that stretch and how well you performed and how it ranks over your career, a lot of wins, a lot of close calls, and obviously you ended up here with 5-0.
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that it's certainly one of the longer stretches I've had. The only other stretch this long was back in 2000 at the end of the season, or end of the year.
But as far as my play, I'm very proud of how consistent I played week-in and week-out, day-in and day-out. I was very consistent. You're not going to win every event, but I felt like I gave myself a lot of chances to win events. You know, with all things considered with the entire year, to end it this way, it was something I'm very proud of.

Q. Fred, could you talk about, if Corey Pavin comes to you, what you would impart, what knowledge you might impart to him that maybe you didn't have coming into this event? And one question for Tiger; Tiger, you seemed to enjoy this event pretty much. Can you talk about the reasons why you enjoyed it so much, and was it one of your better Cup experiences?
FRED COUPLES: Well, I wouldn't know what to say to Corey Pavin. You know, I knew what to say to these 12 guys, to be quite honest. I picked a couple guys out, started texting them, talking to them, and they performed really, really well the last four or five weeks. Obviously there's a handful I didn't really need to bother, but I enjoyed bothering them. So I would tell Corey to bother them. Text them, make fun of them, make them feel like they are going to get ripped a little bit and make them feel like they are not going to hit every shot perfect.
For me, I never put a walkie talkie in my hand and never had a headset on. I walked around and it was like fun, it was fun to watch people hit the ball, even on their team. They were magnificent, too. I only paid attention to my guys, and it's a different game when you're watching. And then I had more fun watching. So I couldn't tell Corey Pavin anything. Maybe sign up Michael Jordan. (Laughter) But he ain't going over there. Or maybe he is.
TIGER WOODS: For me, yeah, obviously, it's one of my better Cup experiences; we won, and that's the name of the game, whether you go 0-5 or 5-0. The fact that we won, that's the number one thing. We came here to win as a team, and we did it.

Q. Phil, you won with three different partners, and as Sean mentioned, maybe not at the perfect spot in their games, I'm wondering, in an up-and-down Presidents Cup career, if this ranks as your most gratifying experience at this event.
PHIL MICKELSON: This was a really fun event. We had a great team. We had a great mixture of players and great mixture of personalities. It made for a special week. The players I played with, totally opposite personalities. You look at AK to Justin Leonard to Sean O'Hair, they are just different people, but yet they play incredible golf.
And I loved partnering with them. I loved sharing that experience, the experience of competing with each other and partnering and teaming up together. It was fun. And it's even more fun that we were able to be successful and play some good golf in the process.

Q. The provincial question from the San Francisco Bay Area media, the event has never been to the West Coast, on a public crowd and the crowds came up, your reaction to San Francisco, Harding Park and The Presidents Cup, how you thought it all went together.
FRED COUPLES: The people were magnificent, very much behind us, very cool the last couple of days weather-wise, and they were out there -- I don't know how many people there were, 25,000, 26,000, 27,000 people, they were behind us and it was extremely loud. If you watched some of the putts go in or some of the irons hit, it was nice. Because I've been in these before, and it seems like it doesn't get that way until maybe late Saturday or Sunday, and maybe because it has not been out here, it was a little different. It was pretty much one-sided. But the people up here, the course was good, everything was perfect.
DOUG MILNE: Gentlemen, congratulations and thank you all for your time.

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