November 16, 2005
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: We'd like to thank Stewart Cink and Zach Johnson for joining us for a few minutes here representing the United States Team.
We'll begin with Zach, this is your first opportunity to play in a team competition, International Team competition. Why don't you just talk a little bit about the excitement of that, and also, the excitement of being part of the World Cup for the first time?
ZACH JOHNSON: Well, I think you can kind of sum it up in saying that it's an overall privilege and honor, just talking about representing your country in general. I always dreamt of playing on the Olympic basketball team, but that never happened, so this clearly helps. This is something I've always wanted to do.
You know, the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup are the two that everybody talks about clearly, and those are always goals of mine and will continue to always be goals of mean. I fell short with the Presidents Cup this year, so this is definitely icing on the cake. And I feel very fortunate in Stewart asking me to play. I'm not sure why he asked me, but I appreciate it. (Laughter).
I'm going to relish it. I just think it's a great opportunity, and playing with someone you enjoy to play with, a friend, and someone who clearly is experienced in these types of formats is beneficial, too. So I'm going to have a good time.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Stewart, Zach just touched on the fact that you have experience in this format, talk about maybe how you might help him, how you might have helped him this week, or something that someone else did for you when you first competed in one of these events.
STEWART CINK: It's been so long since my first time doing it. I don't really remember any advice I got.
The one thing I helped Zach with today and I mentioned this earlier, we played some alternate shot out there for the first time, for Zach's first time ever, and I advised him after our first hole that he should cut across the fairway and wait for me to hit instead of coming all the way back to the tee because you can turn 18 holes into about 12 holes of walking like that.
ZACH JOHNSON: He's just looking out for me.
STEWART CINK: Competitively, I don't think that has a whole lot to do with our succeeding in this tournament, but as far as Zach being in a good mood when I eat dinner with him tonight, that's a big deal.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Any other advice?
STEWART CINK: That's you will I can share. Seriously, though, I try to share a little bit about it seems like every other sentence out of my mouth is, "Well, in the Presidents Cup we do this" or "in the Ryder Cup we do this." So I don't want to seem like I'm trying to tell him stuff, like he's never played golf before or something like that.
There are things about alternate shot that are a little bit unusual in the game. Emotionally and mentally I think it can have an effect on you if you're not comfortable with the person you're playing with, but Zach and I really don't have that problem. He's going to see some bad shots out of me this week that he's going to have to deal with, and I'll probably see some bad shots out of him that I'll have to deal with, and we're totally prepared for that.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Talk a little bit about the golf course.
STEWART CINK: It's a very American style golf course I think. With Arnold Palmer being the designer, it's not unlike a course we see pretty regularly over there on the other side of the ocean.
So, you know, we're fairly comfortable with the design and the demands the course putts on you. It's in great shape, you can tell they really have worked hard to get this club in shape or in condition to be able to hold this tournament, because they have got a lot of nice rough out there, the greens are absolutely perfect, and I think it's a real hub for golf in this area.
Q. Joan mentioned about what Zach said about why you picked him; was it a surprise that it came down to you in the first place?
STEWART CINK: Well, a little bit. I found myself about 22nd I think on the World Rankings at the time and there was probably at least nine or ten guys ahead of me, maybe more, that had to turn it down. So I really didn't I was surprised when I got the phone call that said, basically, if Fred Couples doesn't play, you're in, you're the next one.
So I was excited, too, because I think this is a big tournament. We get to represent the U.S., our home country, and only a few times in our careers, if we're lucky, at all. So I wouldn't want to turn down a chance to do this.
Zach I thought he was joking earlier his caddie told him that the only reason I picked him was because I thought he should have made it on the Presidents Cup team this year. (Laughter). That's not totally true. I do think that I'm not arguing against Jack Nicklaus's picks of Justin Leonard and Fred Couples at all, but there was definitely a lot of merit for Zach being picked, too. It's hard to leave somebody out. Unfortunately this year Zach got left out, and so I did think I deserved a chance to play for the United States.
Like I said before, that's not the only reason, because I also think his golf game has been really solid for a long time now. He's excited about this tournament, and I think he'll be an excellent partner.
Q. Why do you think so many of your countrymen did turn down the chance to come and represent America?
STEWART CINK: Well, I think that probably is because it's a long season over there. The guys that are playing at the very top level, we play a lot. It's tiring when you play a lot of golf in competition in contention for wins. It's mentally draining. It's just every year when we go overseas or when there's a Ryder Cup or a Presidents Cup, these World Golf Championships events, they always ask the same thing: Why don't the Americans come overseas more.
You know, I play overseas some, and I like going overseas, experiencing new cultures, playing in an unusual format like this. I think it's great and it helps to me, I think it makes you a better player. So I really can't answer for why the other guys don't come. This year, I'm glad they didn't, because I got to come with Zach.
Q. How do you rank this course? Do you think we'll see a lot of birdies during the weekend?
STEWART CINK: Well, the old saying holds true here: It all depends on the weather. If the wind with blows a lot this could be a very difficult course. There's some narrow fairways and the greens could be fast.
But if the wind doesn't blow, I think there will be lots of birdies and low scoring out there because everything is in such good shape. The way the guys play these days, you know, it doesn't matter if you're one of the very top golfing countries historically, like England or the U.S., it doesn't matter anymore because anybody out there in the field can put a low round in and be in contention here.
Q. Isn't it true that this tournament is not valid for the rankings and maybe that's why so many good players are not coming here from the states?
ZACH JOHNSON: I think there's really no way of knowing why they made the decision with the exception that it is a long year, but that could play into it.
Q. It's not valid; is this tournament not valid for the rankings?
ZACH JOHNSON: I don't believe it is.
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: World Ranking points, no. It's a team tournament.
ZACH JOHNSON: If it was, that would be great.
Q. How many times have you played overseas?
ZACH JOHNSON: About a handful. I've played, well, two Opens and the World Golf Championships in Ireland last year. I played in Korea in an event, which is not on the schedule this year, which is unfortunate; that was very good. A handful of times, very inexperienced in that department but I like forward to this, because as Stewart said, I think it makes you a better player.
The best players in the world, I don't know how they do it, especially the ones that are from outside of the United States, they travel all the time, and they still play good golf. So you know, I think that as far as looking down my career or even in the future, I think it can help me substantially. Especially any want to continue to you know I'm going to put emphasis on the big events, the WGC events and the Open in the U.K.. so I look forward to it.
Q. Is this the perfect event to have a good time between you guys and really enjoy it and having not so much pressure?
STEWART CINK: Oh, I think there's pressure. Look at the other teams we're trying to beat, I mean, Sergio Garcia, Miguel Angel Jim√É¬©nez; there's some teams on paper that are extremely strong.
So we'll have our share of fun, but it won't be without pressure, coming down the stretch at this tournament will feel just like it does at any other tournament. There will be pressure and it will be very intense. But that's what is fun for us. We play golf to compete.
A lot of people may think that we play golf to get rich. Well, you know, we play golf to compete because without if there was no competition, if they just paid us the same amount every week, then it wouldn't be near as much fun to play. I like beating guys like Sergio and Miguel more than I like earning more money for me, if you know what I mean. Just competing and you win some and you lose some. It's all about seeing what the outcome is going to be. That's what gets us out here, and it won't be without pressure this week, but we'll have a good time.
Q. So tomorrow you are paired directly against the Danish them team, what can you tell us about those guys?
ZACH JOHNSON: I don't know anything. Are they brothers? I don't know. I truly do not know. (Laughter).
Q. You took notice of their last name.
ZACH JOHNSON: I took notice of their last name. I've clearly heard of their names but I've not played with them. I know they play primarily in Europe, or The European Tour, rather. Other than that, unfortunately I don't know.
Q. So you feel confident that after the first round you'll be well ahead of the Danes?
ZACH JOHNSON: No, I'm not going to go there. (Laughter). As Stewart said, this tournament, when you get two guys that are comfortable with each other, that's big. I mean, anybody can win. There's teams that, you know, clearly I can't pronounce their names, but they are good. (Laughter). I mean, they are great.
So anybody can win. It's just you know getting professionals on the same in the same arena, the same platform, you never know. I got asked a question today, did it surprise you that David Howell beat Tiger last week? No, not really. Yeah, Tiger's great, but he has bad days. He's human; we're all human.
Q. Have you two played already as a team before?
STEWART CINK: We have never played as a team. We've played a lot of practice rounds together and we've played some in tournaments. But we've never played on the same team.
Q. Did you expect this country and this weather and this course as you've found it, as good as it is?
STEWART CINK: The course to me it's exceeded all of my expectations. I heard so many good things about it, about not just the course but this whole area. The course is even better than I thought it was going to be. I mean, it's really in good shape and it's a good golf course. Everything is just top notch.
Q. Did Tiger's comments about Ryder Cup gamesmanship reach you?
STEWART CINK: I don't know what he said. You'll have to fill me in.
Q. He said the Presidents Cup is more fun because there are better friendships, and then he hinted at sort of Ryder Cup gamesmanship goes on.
STEWART CINK: Well, I don't know. I don't agree with that, because I've seen some gamesmanship in both tournaments and I've seen a lot of friendship in both tournaments, too.
You know, maybe somebody playing against Tiger Woods maybe pulled a few more things out of their sleeve or something along the way, but I've seen a it a little bit at both and to me both events are more about they are more friendship when you get between the ropes and in the matches than they are about gamesmanship and attitudes.
You know, I have not seen that side of the team events.
Q. Which do you prefer of the two?
STEWART CINK: Which do I prefer? I don't have a preference. I think they are both excellent.
As far as I can tell from playing in two of each, I think they are both equal as far as intensity, too. This year the Presidents Cup was just it was off the charts intense. It was awesome.
Q. Knowing that the USA won for 23 times but haven't won for a while now, does that make you more pressure playing?
STEWART CINK: Not really, because it me and Zach have not played in this tournament that many times. Neither of us has ever played, so I don't think we feel like we don't really feel the pressure of the U.S. not winning this for, what, since 2000? We don't feel that. We just feel like it's our chance to maybe come through and carry home the trophy back to our country. That's what we're here to do.
We're not really concerned that much about what happened before. The teams just aren't the same. They change and they spread it around and that's good. I think it should be like that. You shouldn't have the same two guys every year playing.
It's just that we're not really we don't feel affected I don't think but what's happened in the past.
Q. How big is the tournament back home in the States, not within the players, but in media, the public?
STEWART CINK: Well, you know, it's been a couple of years since I was even in the States when this tournament was going on. I was in Japan last year.
ZACH JOHNSON: I was in Korea.
STEWART CINK: And the year before I was somewhere else, so I can't really answer that, so I don't know. I know it's being carried by a major network.
ZACH JOHNSON: ABC has it.
Q. Some teams wear the same colors for bonding; do you plan on doing that?
ZACH JOHNSON: We discussed it. He wears Nike clothes and I wear something else.
Q. You can wear the same color.
ZACH JOHNSON: Yeah, maybe we should have our wives work on that one. We pretty much wear whatever they give us to wear. We're a team at heart, not necessarily outwardly I guess.
STEWART CINK: We're the same color in here. (Indicating heart).
ZACH JOHNSON: Red, white and blue. It's all heart.
Q. Did you hear anything about the Portuguese team?
STEWART CINK: Yeah, I know those guys. I know Lima is a good player on the tour, and I've seen those guys in the results. We get a lot of European Tour coverage on the Golf Channel back home. Because of the time change, it's always on in the morning right when I get home from taking the kids to school. So I usually have it on and I see the names, so I'm familiar with those guys.
ZACH JOHNSON: I enjoy I watching The European Tour in the mornings. It's good. The coverage is great. Clearly it's good golf. Conditions usually aren't quite what we play in over in the States. Seems like we're pretty lucky as far as that goes. You see all the names. Everybody's good. That's the way it is in any country, any continent. There's good players every where, great tours, depth. So that's what makes this tournament a lot more special.
Q. Have you decided who will tee off on 1, 3, 5?
STEWART CINK: We've talked about it.
ZACH JOHNSON: We've discussed it.
STEWART CINK: There are theories.
ZACH JOHNSON: There are theories. They are not facts yet.
STEWART CINK: We're not going to let Zach talk anymore about that.
ZACH JOHNSON: I opened my mouth a few times.
STEWART CINK: We developed our own local knowledge about this course and the way to play it, and Zach blabbed and told all of the other teams. So I'm not letting him talk about anymore after that.
ZACH JOHNSON: I might be banned in anymore international competition by the PGA TOUR. (Laughter).
JOAN vT ALEXANDER: Thank you for joining us, and play well this week.
End of FastScripts.