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November 15, 2011

John Cook

Jay Haas


JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Now we would like to welcome the vice captains for the United States Presidents Cup Team, John Cook and Jay Haas.
Gentlemen, thank you for joining us. Maybe if we can start with some brief opening comments from each one of you, we'll start with John.
JOHN COOK: It's a real honor for me to be here actually. To add this to my Aussie trip is just like I said, a real honor.
So I'm happy to be here, any capacity, and to be the next side of Jay and Fred, the seasoned veterans out here, it's even more enjoyable. It's great camaraderie, great group of guys. Guys are happy, and I'm just -- like I said, I'm an old coach's son, so this is a natural progression for me.
JAY HAAS: Yeah, I was thrilled last time when Fred asked me to join him in San Francisco and to do it again here, I feel a little bit more at ease with what I'm expected to do and what I should do.
But I'm real excited about this team. I think in all of my years of being on a team or being around a team, I think this team has the best chemistry and the best camaraderie, great leadership. It seems to have a mix of a lot of different things. And you're seeing that in the team room and out on the golf course; that guys seem really, really excited about playing.
I think from my perspective, just watching it, when I noticed a couple of years ago, watching golf live is way different than playing it. You really notice a lot of things.
So just to see that excitement that the guys are showing here, they are so excited about the golf course, it's really, really fun to be a part of it.

Q. For both of you, starting with Jay, last time it was here, it was the opening time the U.S. has lost. What are the lessons from that, and how do you think that you can overcome the underdog on the road type of situation?
JAY HAAS: Well, I think already the guys have been aware of the fact that -- I was not on that team but what I heard was a lot of them were pretty unprepared. It was December, and they had not played in four, five, six weeks and it was an afterthought and they just didn't give it their best I guess.
I think that's not the case this time. I think guys are much more prepared. They have been playing in Asia; they have been playing last week at the Open, so I think in that regard, the guys are certainly more prepared.
But you know, that being said, I think the fact that we are playing an away game here, so to speak, with five Australians on the team, three of which have grown up around here and know the course extremely well, and can impart that wisdom to their teammates, that's going to be a tough hill to climb certainly.
But good shots are good shots here, and they are good shots in China and they are good shots in the States. Bad shots are bad shots. So if the guys play well, I think they can overcome that.
JOHN COOK: It looks like they are getting a real good feel for the golf course. These guys are professional golfers and it doesn't take them long to adapt and figure out where to go, what to do, what they are going to hit off each tee, sight lines.
But I'm still really blown away by the chemistry with the guys. I played on one Ryder Cup Team and I remember how special that was and how close we were. But like Jay said, I don't know if I've been around these guys very often -- a couple of them I'm around quite a bit.
But the way that they gel together and they throw -- the egos are gone and it's all become one real solid unit, willing to help each other in any way, I think that bodes well for this situation, being away from home. The more that you are a team when you're away from home, the better chances you have.
So I've seen that so far in just the couple of days that I've been around the guys.

Q. Would you agree that the U.S. is the underdog here, because it's an away game?
JOHN COOK: Well, I would think so, yeah. You know, in any sporting event, unless there's such a dominant, dominant visiting team, the visiting team will be the underdog.
And you've got to relish that role. You've got to want to go and get out of your comfort zone and want to go and play well and be victorious in somebody else's home.
Like I said, I'm an old coach's son and I'm an old team player. We always relish the fact of going into somebody's place and beating them and then running to get on the bus before stuff was thrown at us. So growing up in L.A., that happened quite a bit (chuckling).
Like I said, the guys are one unit, and the stronger that unit is, when you're way from home, the better chance you have.

Q. A couple of things, first, a conversation that you might have had with Bill about what you expect this week and where that conversation took place, and you know, sort of the details of it if you can share a little bit of that.
JAY HAAS: Specifically about this, we have not talked in great length about it but probably in conversations throughout his life that I really was not speaking to him, but he was in the audience, just about my experiences in team golf and what it meant to me personally and things like that.
I've told him to expect, you know, he said he's nervous and he's excited, all this stuff. I said, "You should be." This is about as big a stage as it gets, and try to relish that role. He and all of the other guys, they all know how to play golf. I can't really tell him anything other than to enjoy it and just to look around and look at these 11 other guys that you're in the room with. That's about as good as it gets out here.

Q. For both of you, this is Phil Mickelson's 18th team event that he's going to take part in. That record he's had, what that means?
JOHN COOK: Just shows the great longevity that Phil has had in that game.
I have not been on a team with him. I think Jay Haas. Just last night and being around him today, you could tell, he's into this one. He has made some really interesting and fun comments to show that he is part of this big unit. The longevity of his career and how he keeps making them, and wanting to play; it's hard, 18 years in a row, to get up for, that and I'm sure there's times where they would rather have been doing something else. But I don't see that this year. He's kind of taken that veteran leadership type of attitude and role and I think the young guys -- when you see those guys relax and confident and wanting to be here and part of this, I think it puts a little bit of ease in the mind of the younger guys, the rookies or the younger players, and Phil exudes that. He brings that into the team room. He brought it on to the bus this morning.
JAY HAAS: Yeah, a couple of things I've noticed about Phil. No. 1, each time I've been around him in one of these events, he's become more and more of a leader in different ways, but always very positive. But the other thing is, I've seen him very high and very low and he's been very consistent in all of those situations. Meaning, he's been very, very positive, all about the team. I've been with him when he didn't play very well in this event, and he couldn't have been any more gracious, any more positive with the other players.
He's a class guy and I think that bodes well for the young guys to see that and to know that here is a guy who has been here now 18 times, if that's the way he's acting, then they would follow suit.

Q. Probably safe to say, you don't have Jordan's jumpshot, but what are you going to bring and what are the things you hope to impart?
JOHN COOK:, well, it's certainly not Cook going in for Jordan and reporting in at the table and one of those things, 11-for-23, that's a little different.
I was always pretty curious about Michael being here. I think the guys had a great time with him. Obviously I can bring more of a golfing type of environment. Although, I do still have a pretty good jumpshot. I can't dunk anymore but I can still shoot.
JAY HAAS: I like the "anymore". (Laughing)
JOHN COOK: I did dunk once in pregame -- I did! But the floor was over the top of the swimming pool and it was a tarp floor and you could bounce out of the gym.
Just the experience; I have played here in three events, and I will play any role that I am asked to play, whether it's to shadow a couple of guys or be an overall -- bounce things off of. So I don't feel like I'm replacing Michael. I'm here, you know, just as a guy that wants to be here and has -- I really have a real interest in what we do. This is our team. This is what we do. We are professional golfers and I can bring that aspect it.

Q. Along those same lines, when Fred Couples made the call to you, there was speculation that if Stricker couldn't go, that you were going to be able to suit up. Any truth to that at all?
JOHN COOK: It might have been maybe in the back of his mind of emergency only. We have got Jay here and Fred himself. Obviously I would not have earned my way onto this team. There's Keegan and Brandt Snedeker. I don't know how those things work, whether they can come over and do that, I don't know.
I would happily do that, obviously. But I would be in -- in no means would I be the alternate that got in. I would be the guy that was here off the emergency squad, you know, when that second quarterback goes down and the only other guy was that practice squad guy. That would have been me.
You know, if you have a chance to step in, that's what you do. I feel like I've played -- I mean, I've prepared to play. Obviously I've been playing a lot. But he never really mentioned that. You know, just kind of jokingly, "Hey, make sure you bring your clubs" and stuff like that. Well, my clubs are here.

Q. You have a leg up, you have the uniform.
JOHN COOK: I've got everything ready to go (chuckling).

Q. Obviously going back to your selection, your relationship with Tiger and your friendship with him, it couldn't have hurt. What are your -- I know I spoke to you in Sydney, but what are your reflections on how his progression is, his readiness, his eagerness and desire to be here? Obviously his game, came close at the weekend.
JOHN COOK: Like we talked about last week, I've never given up on Tiger Woods as a golfer, as a person. He's gone through his things, obviously.
I'm always willing to give him a chance to believe in what he's doing and then taking it to that next level. He knows his place in history. He wants to get better. And to see someone like that that has been so, so very high at the top of the mountain and then, you know, struck down, and then battling back; his will to win is exceptional, better than probably anybody that's ever lived playing any sport. This guy is very, very driven.
And what I've seen lately is, trust in what he's doing, trust in what he's doing with Sean. He realizes that what he's doing is so much easier than his body that he really has a confidence in what his body can do now. It's not hurting. To play hurt like he did for that many years and to do as well as he did is just a testament to himself.
But when you have a healthy, confident Tiger that believes in what he's doing, I think that bodes pretty well for the state of the game, and now it's just a matter of -- and we saw it last week. In a relaxed state -- Jay and I were just talking about it. In a relaxed state, he's fantastic, the same. You couldn't tell if it was 2000 or 2011. But getting into those tense, kind of anxious moments to see how it does, and for three rounds out of four last week, he was that guy.
So you know, it's just a confidence-building, each step is more and more confident.
So answer your question on his readiness here, he is part of this team and he loves it. Just to see him right now in that situation where you can tell he's into this, he's talking about different pairings, he's talking about preparation, he's asking questions about the golf course. He's laughing and joking with the guys. I mean, he wants this. He realizes that he was a pick. He wants to make sure that he's warranted that pick.
Anybody that's left him for -- just jumped off that wagon, they jumped off way too quick, because this guy will make -- I have a feeling he's going to make people eat their words and I'll be the first one in line to congratulate him. Because I look forward to that moment when he does something that they figured he could never do again, and he's going to do it a lot more.

Q. Just in terms of, same kind of deal, you've been around Tiger and played on teams with him, too, what's your view on where he's at?
JAY HAAS: Just from watching him swing on TV last week, I watched a good bit of the tournament, it appears to me that he's getting more and more comfortable with his swing, and it does look -- to me, it does look much more relaxed, not as violent of a swing or something, I don't know, and maybe that's a product of him feeling better and working on a swing that now is not as hard on his body so to speak.
As far as his want to be here and things like that, I know that in the past, all of these great players have been questioned on, do you really care about this and all that. They would not be great players if they didn't care every time they stepped on the golf course. And if you think that Tiger doesn't want to win, whoever he's playing against, then you're mistaken.
He loves this competition. And I honestly think that all of us, being in this individual sport, when we are in a team atmosphere, we love that. We love the fact that there's a partner. And when you look over and see four or five of your guys not playing or finishing their matches or whatever and cheering you on, I don't think there's a bigger thrill for the guys, I don't care who it is. Just to see a guy on your side who you're usually trying to beat week-in and week-out, that's something we don't get to experience and we cherish.

Q. Do you think he's extra-motivated because he was a pick?
JAY HAAS: You know, that could be a part of it. But I think he's just motivated to get back to playing like he knows he can play. And each tournament, each day he's working and under competition, I think that's a positive for him to see how his swing is handling pressure situations and things like that.
But I don't know that -- it's almost like, how nervous can you get; how motivated can he get? I don't think he can be any more motivated at any time in his life.

Q. A few people have been around Tiger as much as you have over the years, since 1998 when the matches were played here, how has he progressed in your mind as a person and as a player?
JOHN COOK: Well, there's a lot of stages of that we all know. When we first got to playing and hanging around each other quite a bit, you could see a young kid that was so incredibly talented but didn't quite know what to do with it maturity-wise. He was still 20,21 years old, and he was a 21-year-old, 22-year-old kid, there's no doubt about it. Physically gifted, motivated beyond anybody could even explain.
But always had the -- he was always willing to ask questions and wanting to learn more. It was a great privilege just being around him because he has tried to motivate Mark and I even more, because as we are kind of wanting down, here comes this kid that's so interested in asking questions and getting better, it kind of motivated us a little bit more and Mark went on to have a couple more phenomenal years.
You know, to progress from that stage through the Butch 1 to Butch 2 to Hank as far as golf goes and to Sean, just to see the progression of the swings and also asking him if he really believes in what he was doing, and he's always been quite honest. Then moving on; health-wise, personal-wise. You know, he's struggled a bit with both and he's come through and he's healthy again. He's in a very good place in his personal life.
So those stages, those are just parts of life. He's come out of them pretty well. And like I said, he's very motivated again, and like Jay and I were talking about, he's trusting what he's doing now and he's more relaxed and confident in that, and a healthy, confident Tiger Woods is very good.

Q. Can I get an answer from Jay and John on the mathematical chances in your mind that we are going to see Adam Scott and Tiger Woods on Sunday.
JAY HAAS: I can honestly say it's nothing that Fred and I have discussed. I don't know if he and Greg have talked any about that.
You know, I don't know what to say about it. I guess to me, it's not about Tiger and Adam so much, and so it shouldn't -- it shouldn't be a huge issue. If they played against each other, I think it would just be two really, really good players playing against each other. And you know, I didn't -- I was not over here when all of that went down. But again, I don't think it's something that we have talked about trying to make happen or anything like that.
I guess, I don't know what the odds would be, 12 to 1, 11 to 1, I don't know how you would figure that out, if it would work out. And I'm telling you straight from my perspective.
JOHN COOK: Yeah, we haven't talked about any of the pairings other than possible team pair-ups other than -- the individuals, we haven't talked anything about that.
It would be interesting for sure. The dynamic would be very entertaining. But like I said, you would hope that it would be Tiger and Adam, the Tiger and Adam match, not anything more than that.
I think that they would do that. I think that that, if it happened, that would be -- hopefully that would be the story line is Adam and Tiger playing an individual match with The Presidents Cup on the line. I think it would be great drama.
But like Jay said, those are two very, very good players that are playing very well right now. So, yeah, 11 to 1 would be the odds. (Laughter).

Q. Freddie earlier said, I asked him about his experience and how he was going to walk the rookies playing through the first match and he said he was going to depend a lot on you and Tiger and Phil and David Toms. In your experience, what do you say to a player going out his first time; how do you talk him through it?
JAY HAAS: Well, I don't know if you can ever prepare any player for a first-time experience in an international competition. It's just different. I've just tried to get that message across to Bill, and like I said earlier, throughout my time to be playing in international competition, he's heard me say how nervous I was or stories about guys being really nervous and things like that.
I'm sure, you know, he will be that, as well as Nick and as well as Webb, and a couple of the other guys.
So to me, when you're in that situation, you should be nervous, because you care. If you didn't care, you're on your way through and you get your butt handed to you probably. So you know, about all I can tell him is to embrace this situation. You've got to love it. You've got to love not being able to spit and not being able to think and walk and talk; it's the best. To be that uncomfortable, there's no other feeling like it. You've got to love that feeling, and talk yourself into it I think, more than anything.
And they have won tournaments before. Somebody said to Bill, or to me, about Bill, winning the $10 million and is that more pressure. And I said, I don't know that you can be under more pressure than, say, for me personally, when I feel like when any time I've been in the hunt to win a golf tournament, I have a max, and it's either pass out or be that nervous. It doesn't matter if it's for a hundred dollars or a thousand or ten million or whatever, I pretty much hit that max level and I think most guys do.
I don't think he was thinking that at that time and all that. So when he gets to that first tee or any of these guys get to the first tee, I hope they are nervous. Enjoy it. Once you get started, though, it's just golf.
JOHN COOK: Same. You've got to have that anxiety and you've got to want that, you've got to want that feeling, and embrace -- like Jay said, embrace that situation. Because that's what we play for is opportunities to win and represent. And then it just comes down to the good old football term, concentrate and execute. That's what it comes down to.
Embrace the situation. That would be my message to any of the young kids. You're going to love this. You have to embrace it and get out of your comfort zone a little bit, and the more you're comfortable with that, the better off you're going to do and you can put it away. You can draw back on the other experiences of closing out golf tournaments, and like Billy and Nick and Webb have all done, they have closed out some pretty big events. They can draw on that experience.
JAY HAAS: And if they are not nervous, then they are probably at home sitting on the couch watching it. You'd rather be at home nervous and throwing up on your shoes than sitting at home.
JOHN COOK: Done it. Done it. (Laughter).
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Gentlemen, we appreciate your time.

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