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November 16, 2011

Tim Clark

Frank Nobilo


MARK WILLIAMS: We welcome captains' assistants Frank Nobilo and Tim Clark. Frank, just talk a little bit about coming back here again and what it looks like for you this year.
FRANK NOBILO: It's tremendous, for a start, to come back. It rekindles a lot of memories, no question about that, but it's also something that you can convey to the younger guys. We have guys that -- it's embarrassing when you say they were sort of eight or nine years of age when that happened I guess.
It was memorable. I think that's really where the Presidents Cup took a turn forward. There's always a comparison to The Ryder Cup, and obviously as an international player, I think that sometimes it takes us -- it irks us, because I think if you look at The Ryder Cup, the first 24 times it was played, only twice did Great Britain and Ireland win, and then it all changed in 1985. The Presidents Cup just started nine years later.
So I think in its very, very short history, the standard of golf that's seen, I've been on the sideline, I've watched Tim play, attitudes that he brings to the table. When you see people play with that much passion, you realize how successful this event has become in such a short period of time.
But it's nice to come back to a place where not only do we play well, but all of the guys that are on the team, it's one of their best memories of their careers.
MARK WILLIAMS: And Tim, you obviously have a great affinity with Australia having been a past Australian Open champion, and for you to come back here and be received by the Australian fans. Just give us some comments.
TIM CLARK: Yeah, obviously I'm very excited to be down here. Like Frank said, Australia is one of the greatest places you can play any sporting event with how knowledgeable they are, and for that reason alone I am excited about being here.
We have played the majority of The Presidents Cups have been in North America, so to get out on what we feel like is true home territory is going to be exciting and bring a whole new dynamic where a lot of the guys on our team haven't had that experience of playing in front of a crowd that's behind them. So that's exciting.
Obviously to be back here in this region with these types of golf courses is a lot of fun, too. I mean, this golf course is very different to anything we are used to playing on a week-to-week basis. So it brings a whole new dynamic, and particularly for our team, I think the guys are very excited about that.

Q. You spoke about the passion in The Presidents Cup, it's friendly passion between the two. Ryder Cup is -- well, there's a lot of needle in The Ryder Cup, probably because of its history and heritage. Will The Presidents Cup ever become quite as fiercely-contested as The Ryder Cup?
FRANK NOBILO: I think it's getting very close, Peter. As I said before, the first 24 times it was played, from 1927 to 1983, it was 21, a halve and 2. It was considered an exhibition match until Jack Nicklaus stepped in and said, "You should include Europe." So really the success of The Ryder Cup has been since 1985, and also once they won at Muirfield, it made a big difference.
Obviously Seve, who sadly passed away this year, was one of the unique parts of The Ryder Cup. That's what makes it. I think just seeing Freddie and Greg, the attitude that they brought -- Tim can speak on, that as well; the difference that's made.
I think we have upped the bar every year. We would like to think because most of the guys on the international side know the American side, it doesn't have to be blood, but it can still be the next best thing.

Q. Not quite on that same subject, but Tommo said winning The Presidents Cup here in 1998 was as good as one of his British Opens. Where does it sit with you in your golfing career?
FRANK NOBILO: Top of the tree. Sadly I stopped playing before I would have liked for various reasons. And when I look back, there's always selfish victories that you think your own skills and the way you played against the fields that you played; but very few times you play for a team. I was fortunate to play for New Zealand for many others and Eisenhower, Walker Cup, Dunhill Cups and we did very well.
But to play with guys that had the same belief system when they go up, whether it's the Australians with rugby, South Africa is the same, and I think it's also going in southeast Asia. When you put them together, you wouldn't think it was possible. So in 1998, when it did happen, it's amazing how 12 people from all over the world really felt as one. And that's something that Greg certainly has and we have; that we are 12 players one; and it's amazing what can be done and that's why it rates at the top of the tree for me. I always thought -- things your own, but it's amazing what you can when you have a little bit of help.

Q. In '98, you had the whole crowd behind you and might have given the team self-belief; every successful team probably needs a moment of inspiration like that.
FRANK NOBILO: Yeah, I think you hit the nail on the head. I know Greg and myself, we were drawn against O'Meara and Duval. It was sort of what Tommo said before, you have to be there for that moment to happen. And I think just as I was saying to Peter, that we are 12 guys, start to play like one, crazy things happen. People use words like "zone" and "the moment." But it's a process and you have to get there; so you have to be at least a step before.
So before we teed off, we knew what we had to do. We had a little bit of -- we were written off in some respects, not by our captain, and that provided motivation. But it was positive for us. We felt like we had nothing to lose. And it wasn't just the putt I holed out; Craig Parry chipped in. So many neat things seemed to happen. But rather than stop and look at each one, we created this big wave.
The crowd last -- I was going to say last year, the crowd in '98 was phenomenal. I wasn't in South Africa in 2003, I know it was close there. But as Tim just said, Australia is a sporting nation. When you get them on your side, it's more than the 13th man.

Q. What's been the plan of attack today? Can we read too much into what we are seeing this morning, or can we take what we are seeing as potentially the pairings for tomorrow?
FRANK NOBILO: Go for it. Who is Ryo playing with?
TIM CLARK: I can't remember.

Q. He's playing with Els out there.
FRANK NOBILO: He's playing with Ernie. That wasn't who he's meant to be playing with. I thought Ernie was playing with Goose, wasn't he?

Q. Robert and Goose.
FRANK NOBILO: Oh, it's Robert and Goose. Tim, what the hell's going on? (Laughing).
TIM CLARK: We have been discussing it the last few days. You know, I think this year, we are trying to simplify it a little bit, and you can't read too much as to what's out there today really.
But the guys are all ready to play with whoever they have to play with. I think that's the great thing about the team this year is nobody cares who they play with. They are ready just to get out there and play and compete. I think that's the special thing this week.
FRANK NOBILO: What we have tried to do is, you look at the groups that have gone out yesterday and today, we have at least 50, maybe a little bit more, percent of our team has played this golf course on more than one occasion.
We tried to make sure that people that have not played this golf course play with someone that knows it like the back of his hand. It would be crazy to send four guys that have never played here out together. So we are trying to make sure that we can at least get two and two and they can get as much information. You can't play -- it's like St. Andrews. You can't play this golf course enough and learn it quick enough. That's something we have done.

Q. Second time as a captain's assistant, what do you learn from that first time that you can bring in from this and do things a little different from what you did a couple of years back?
FRANK NOBILO: I clean shoes so much quicker than last time, no two ways about it. Tim's learning, but he should be playing; obviously the surgery on his arm.
But I learned that you need another person. I think it's -- Greg is an incredible captain. He's decisive. He captains like he played. I think you need another mind.
It's great having Tim here, not just because -- if you follow Tim's career, he brings that bulldog mentality; as I like to say two years ago, I enjoyed so much being on the sideline and watching the way in which he played.
On one hand, I'm sad that he's not on the team playing this week, but on the other hand, I think one of the best additions we did this year was to get another guy that thinks a little differently, but incredibly positively. We learned that three minds are better than two. That was one thing.
And I think the other thing is, try not to complicate it. A little bit like tomorrow, simplicity sometimes is key. We can't legislate for every permutation, and in the end that's the way golf is, there's a bounce, there's a roll, and you just hope it goes in your way by letting the guys do what they normally do on a day-to-day basis, play their best.

Q. Frank mentioned before about a 13th man, and you were talking the other week about a bit of good-natured schtick; how important is it for you to that have on your side as a non-Australian on an International Team?
TIM CLARK: It's very important. Again, most of the ones I have played have been in America, and you can just feel when the crowd is not with you, and with the other team. You know, it can get demoralizing.
To be here and have this crowd behind us is going to be a huge boost, and I'm sure the non-Australians on the team are going to feel that, too. We want them to go out there and embrace the crowd and hopefully have the crowd embrace them, which I'm sure is going to happen. We are looking to get out tomorrow to a quick start. Get them rowdy early (laughing).

Q. How is the bonding process going? You've had a couple of nights with the team to get together. And can you also talk about, I believe, Greg told me that he had big photos up including South Africa and maybe rugby triumphs and maybe Japanese sporting triumphs; can you tell us whether you think that's had an effect already?
TIM CLARK: Yeah, the bonding with the International Team has always been good. For some reason, the guys are from different countries, but when we get in that team room, it's really bonded. Very few egos on the team. Guys enjoy everyone else's company. We are here to help each other and vice versa.
So the bonding has never been an issue. I know there's some language barriers here and there, but really for the most part, the guys find a way to get on and enjoy themselves. You know, Frank's seen it, there's table tennis going on, we all sit around and chat and it's never been a problem. And obviously to have those -- the greatest photos in there is the one of the team that won around here in '98. I've been looking at that all week.
FRANK NOBILO: (Smiling).
TIM CLARK: Frank has obviously put on a few pounds since then.
FRANK NOBILO: Thanks, mate.
TIM CLARK: It's really the photo that stands out. I think we all go there and see that, and that's one of his fondest memories on the golf course. And most of us have not had a chance to experience that, winning this tournament, and so I think that's a big driving force for us this week.

Q. Why did Ryo arrive in late? When did he arrive in? And I'll probably have a follow-up question after that on the same subject.
TIM CLARK: His flights were delayed out of Japan. I think there were flight issues.
FRANK NOBILO: He was scheduled to come in Monday but obviously he's a rock star in Japan, so he had been inundated with requests, all sorts of things. And then effectively, his flight that was booked was cancelled and then he was rebooked and so he didn't arrive until, I think it was 2:30 yesterday afternoon.

Q. Did he get a rousing cheer from the boys when he arrived?
FRANK NOBILO: We were all at the golf course, yes. We were all told as soon as he arrived. There's no question, would you like people to be here as soon as possible and that's why we delayed our team photo to today. He tried to address everything he could in Japan, make sure they were happy over there and the original schedule was to get him in Monday night.

Q. He was a little tardy on the tee, this morning, all of the other three had hit off and halfway down the fairway waiting for him.
FRANK NOBILO: That we didn't see. We were too busy trying to work on some of the pairings, yeah.
We were trying to get the guys going off both tees. Yesterday was very slow out there. We teed off behind the Americans yesterday. Just everybody is trying to learn the golf course in front. So you know, today we gave the guys the option of teeing off both sides effectively, as it is now.
So there's a little bit of confusion of who was going off where, and like I said, we thought Ryo was playing with -- who was it again? (Laughing). We are just trying to make sure they know who they are playing with.
MARK WILLIAMS: Can I just add that Ryo was the first international player on the range this morning. Correct?
FRANK NOBILO: There's a lot of things that happen. Team photos at 8:30, off at 9:00. I know we had that years ago in the Dunhill Cup, where you are just trying to stay in your warmup; our bus arrived five, ten minutes late, you start off, you have ten minutes, try and have 12 guys have breakfast and get on the range. It was always going to be one of those staggered-type mornings and effectively making sure everybody has their clothing for the Opening Ceremony, and we are going to stay back afterwards and just have a team dinner here.

Q. The format is something that the Internationals have struggled with.
FRANK NOBILO: That's right.

Q. You obviously need to get off to a good start tomorrow or the whole thing starts to slip away from you. What can you do to counter that poor form?
FRANK NOBILO: That's been the question we have asked on a continual basis. I don't think there's a straight answer; you can say, we have done this wrong or this right. I think as Tim said, the bonding is slightly different. And I don't want to sort of compare it obviously to teams in the past.
But when you look at the program, I don't have one in front of me, you'll see the American side will have 12 names next to it. And if you look at the International side, even the program, it splits us up into our various countries. So invariably, you go from Monday, when you try to get everybody here and you try to sort of diffuse that; that you are now the International Team: You are not from Korea; you are not from Australia; you are not from South Africa. I really think that's the only sort of thing that makes sense. We sort of get it by Friday and Saturday, and then we are playing catch-up.
I think that's affected our pairings in the past, where you sort of think, well, logically a South African should play with a South African or an Australian should play with an Australian. Really the only language that's familiar on our team is golf. So we are trying to look more at that and hopefully we got it right this time.
We are very aware, as we have been in the past.

Q. You and Ernie are the only two members, I guess you could say, not a playing member, but of the '98 side that are here. Can you give us your thoughts on the golf course? I know you might not have played it since you've been here, but your thoughts on the golf course now compared to '98.
FRANK NOBILO: Well, Greg was also here, but Royal Melbourne has always been in my top three; St. Andrews is my most favorite golf course in the world.
I always thought it was difficult -- matter of fact I was trying to Greg yesterday when we were driving around. I always thought when the flags were in the front third how difficult this course was to play. And that's why I think -- they had the ability, Greg to flight the ball high and land soft. The golf course is as good as I can remember. I know they have re-turfed some of the areas. It plays shorter. What was a driver for us, these guys carry strong 3-woods. The ball has changed.
So carries that were difficult, our lines are slightly different. All of the nuances, the kicks and rolls, bumps around the greens, tough hole locations and they have not changed. And it still has its luster.
I was saying to someone the other day, it is sort of what Augusta should be like, because Augusta has had a lot more changes over the years, lengthening, changing of the greens. Royal Melbourne has somehow always maintained their character. We had the old 16th hole -- I know it's the 14th hole now. I think Greg added the other tee, adding 30 yards on has made that a stronger par 3. Personally I like the old one but there's a congestion problem.
So many great par 4s. I was amazed yesterday with the young guys -- Tim, please jump in -- how impressed they were, because you think these guys have just been brought up on the newest golf courses and they were amazed at the beauty and just how it presented to the eye. That was one of the things that pleased me. But the golf course itself, great, absolutely great.
TIM CLARK: We know the Australians all obviously love the golf course. The majority of our team is Australian and the Internationals like this style of course.
So I'm interested to see what the younger Americans think of it. Obviously in the States we play a certain style of golf course and this is very different to that. I think we all have an affinity for this course.
Personally I would be interested to see what they have to say about it, because like you say, this golf course will stand the test of time no matter what happens with technology and how far the golf ball is going. It kind of proves that a course doesn't have to be 7,500 yards to make it good.
FRANK NOBILO: The best bunkering of any golf course in the world.

Q. Can you give us an appreciation of Charles Schwartzel's game and how he might be quite suited to the course?
TIM CLARK: Well, we watched him yesterday, and I noticed just in the last year how much power he's put on. He's obviously gotten -- he's still fairly skinny, but he has put on some weight. Just so much more power in his game now and the way he's flighting his irons really suits this golf course. Just as Frank said, how Greg played it, he can bring it in high and soft, so there's really no flag he can't get to.
I was really impressed with what I saw from his game yesterday, and obviously winning the Masters earlier this year, I mean, there's obviously no shortage of confidence there, and he's certainly become one of our top players.

Q. For the guys who have not played, obviously you have so many Aussies that know the course but the guys that have not played it, how meticulous are they at breaking it down hole-by-hole? Do you break it down or let them go out and play and learn it themselves?
FRANK NOBILO: Well, you have to resist the temptation. I know as a spectator last time two years ago -- I never really felt how a tour wife felt inside the ropes and not being able to affect play. These guys are good and most of the time -- most golf courses you can learn about 90 percent of the golf course in one practice round, just yardage books and all that.
It's not uncommon of us to tell them things they don't need to know so there will be lines that I might have thought or Greg might have thought or even Ernie when he played here in '98 that have changed.
So really you don't want to instill that and say there's a tree down there -- it's not played for them. So you have to be careful on what you tell them. A lot of it is more hole locations and make sure where the old par 3, the 5th hole -- the new rotation is still confusing to me, but there's a front right hole location when you're above it. You always think it's straighter than it is. It's like Augusta, it breaks two, three feet more than you read the first time you put it. Just to get the guys to putt to a couple of hole locations.
Also, if you hit it in that green-side bunker left, there's an he escape route which is just up and around the lip. Like Tim said you watch these guys hit the ball, we have some swings on our side that are just beautiful. Yesterday it was like watching a clinic. At times it makes golf look too easy. The gun wasn't off but not much you can tell them. They hit the ball a country mile and fly is so beautifully. You have to tell them, when the flag is here, hey, maybe think about this and there's a ridge here. Sometimes less is more. They learn quick.
MARK WILLIAMS: Thank you for your time and good luck this week.

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