September 21, 2005
TODD BUDNICK: We'll get started, we've got Fred Funk, Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson, Kenny Perry and David Toms, and we are going to jump right into questions.
Q. There were three greens resodded, four, five, six weeks ago, is it noticeable and are they playing any differently?
PHIL MICKELSON: I didn't know which holes they resodded. They look great. I'd never even know it.
FRED FUNK: Actually they are in great shape. They might be a hair slower than the other ones, but actually No. 17, which was 1 last time, or the normal No. 1, I heard was the first one that was sodded and that one is probably the best conditioned green on the golf course. So the new greens are not issues at all. The whole golf course is really in good shape.
Q. Maybe I can throw it open to anybody, but I wonder if the formats being used here this week can sometimes hide whether you're playing well or not so well. In other words, compared to a regular Tour event, is your game open to a little different scrutiny here; you can play well and get away with a loss and play well and vice versa.
FRED FUNK: That's the nature of any match play, doesn't really matter if it's a Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup.
Q. Just the difference for you guys.
FRED FUNK: Well, yeah, you can play great and lose and play bad and win. So match play doesn't really forecast how well you're playing.
I guess to answer your question, it can hide the way you're playing a little bit.
Q. Kenny, your match last year with Nick Price turned out to be a very emotional match and a very pivotal match in many ways. Can you sort of talk about that and in some ways, does that match sort of bring this event, it's kind of arrived in many ways?
KENNY PERRY: I don't know about making this event arrived. But for one thing, Nick Price and I are pretty good friends; the match, there was only three holes tied the whole match. I went 3 up, he tied the match, I went 3 up again, he tied the match going to 17, and I ended up beating him on 18. And y'all remember, he kind of had a little accident with his putter over his knee there. He told me he didn't mean to do that; it was just the emotion of the moment.
You know what, I hated to see him miss it, because that's how much I like Nick Price as a friend and that's kind of what the Presidents Cup is about. We're all about friends. We play each other week in and week out. We know each other very well, and I think we're just in a fun competition. We'd love to win. Obviously I didn't want to lose. It was nice to win that point for Jack Nicklaus.
So it was emotional for me because that was the first singles match I had ever won, so that was pretty neat for me.
Q. For either of you, could you guys just talk about giving the Katrina victims something to rally behind, I know in the grand scheme of things golf is minute, but the people have a team they can rally behind and cheer and just take their minds off of things for a moment.
DAVID TOMS: Certainly there are a lot of people that I I've experienced it, we have a lot of evacuees in Shreveport and already a lot of people that are in bad shape and their lives are have been turned upside down. You look at us, we have everything that we could ever want and we all have a great life. Just to be able to do a little something, whether raising money for them, whether we're out there trying to win this competition to give them something to cheer about, whatever it might be, just any bright light in their life right now is a good thing.
So, you know, I'm certainly thinking about those people, just because I've met a lot of them and know what their situation is like and just from being from that area. So I want to play great for those people, just like I want to play great for my teammates.
Q. And a follow up for you, can you just reiterate, any special medication or precautions you have to take after the scare at the 84 Lumber?
DAVID TOMS: I feel good. I am taking some medication but I feel fine. Haven't seen any bad effects from this week, and looking forward to getting started tomorrow.
KENNY PERRY: We're just going to make sure none of his partners put him in any kind of a stressful situation.
DAVID TOMS: Exactly. (Laughter).
Q. Phil, can you talk about the anatomy of a good pairing, what you think is the most important part of I guess chemistry between you and another guy?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that there's a couple things that come into play. Obviously you want to have a guy that has a very similar demeanor; that you guys get along well and play throughout the day, because you're going to spend four or five hours together in the same type of emotional state. Some people like to talk, some people don't, and it's important that you have somebody that you get along with to spend those four or five hours to keep you relaxed.
I think it's also important to play with somebody who plays a similar game as yours, especially in the alternate shot format because it allows you to play the way you normally would play and not alter the way you look at the golf course and the way your course management is set up.
So in doing that, I think that we've done a pretty good job this week in getting partners that fit those two criterias.
Q. This is a question for everyone except David, because it's about David. I know how athletes sort of needle one another about all kinds of things in life, I wonder what your guys reaction to David has been when you've got here in view of what happened to him last week.
KENNY PERRY: Well, I think first of all we're concerned about him. I think each of us went up to him and wanted to make sure he's okay. I mean, he says he's okay. He's made us very relaxed and very easy, maybe he's hiding something, I don't know, but we're very concerned about him, first.
And then once we know he's okay, a few of the guys have taken shots at him, you know, about partnerships and Sonya needs to leave him alone at night.
DAVID TOMS: (Laughing).
KENNY PERRY: So, he can get his rest. But anyway, you know, he's a great player, he's a great teammate, so we want the best for David. I think it's pretty neat he's here. He says he's playing great and he feels fine, so we've got to go with what he says.
PHIL MICKELSON: Obviously we need his performance. He's one of our leaders, one of our top players, and we need his game to be sharp for us to do well this week.
But before we look at that, we care about David as a friend, and all of us on this team are very close to him. So that was our concern, that, yes, we'd like him to play this week and play well, but more importantly, we want him to be healthy and feeling well. And Jerry, you know how serious this ailment can be, so as we're all becoming aware of that, we get more and more concerned and just want to make sure that it gets taken care of.
Q. Rumor has it that the trip to the White House was a very good one last night, can you share any stories or memories from the trip that can be broadcast?
JIM FURYK: Are there any real bad trips to the White House? (Laughing.) I'm just curious about that.
I think everyone looks forward to that. None of us are really I beat anyone in this room wouldn't be real interested in long dinners and going to big functions. But I think everyone would say they would look forward to going to the White House and sitting down with the President and First Lady for dinner. It was a 120 person group, so it was still relatively quaint. It was a nice evening.
Q. Fred, just wanted to ask you, is this any more special to you since it's so close to Maryland?
FRED FUNK: It doesn't mean any more. It was a huge priority for me to make this team, I think for any of us to make this team and represent our country, and everything that goes with it. Being so close to home is a little extra special for me. I still pinch myself to think what I've done and where I've come from, the University of Maryland golf coach to representing the United States on the Presidents Cup here at RTJ is pretty neat. So I'm very conscious of it and feels good to come home and to achieve a goal that I set for myself last year.
Q. Phil, do you remember any match, talking about how you're playing well and still lose, do you remember any match that you felt, wow, I'm playing really well, or your partner is playing really well and you still got beat in the end?
PHIL MICKELSON: You mean out of the five matches I lost in '03? Is that what you're referring to? (Laughter).
Q. Or vice versa.
PHIL MICKELSON: You know, Captain Nicklaus said all we need is a half point more than last time and he kind of looked at me and he said, "You've just got to tie one match, man, come on." (Laughter.)
I thought that '03 as an example, there was two or three matches that I played pretty well in and took it to 17 and 18 and lost. That's obviously the way match play can be.
I love that challenge. I love the challenge of the unknown, of not knowing what you need to shoot. And certainly after my performance in '03, I want to come back with a strong one this year.
Q. This question might be for Fred or Kenny, when you played in team golf, the pairings are often talked about, Fred, your role might be a guy who hits a lot of fairways and that creates some opportunities for your partner or Kenny Perry might be a guy who makes a lot of birdies and that creates some opportunities for his partner, what happens if you go out, does it create any extra pressure, do you go out in a pairing and you don't play the role you typically play, what happens then?
FRED FUNK: Well, you've got to adapt and hope your partner is playing really good. If I'm not hitting it in the fairway, the one thing I've got to do is hit the fairways and that's what usually I can do and that's the strength of my game is to keep it in play and allow my partner to have shots into the greens, or myself have shots into the greens, with best ball, and just keep the heat on. Basically, you've got to figure out a way that you can keep the heat on your opponents and always try to be on the offense instead of the defense. And that's what happened to us a lot at Oakland Hills; we were always on defense and hopefully we can get on offense here.
Q. Phil, following up on the chemistry sort of thing about pairings, can you reflect at this point of why you think the pairing with Tiger didn't work the way that Hal seemed to think it would work, similar games, that kind of thing?
PHIL MICKELSON: It's a good question. I really thought we were going to play well together. I had been wanting to play with him for a few years, and I think he felt the same and we were both excited to have a chance to play together. And it was disappointing that it didn't work out. I thought it would have been cool to carry that through, and I don't think that another captain will go out on a limb again and do it given the scrutiny that Captain Sutton went through after doing that.
But the bottom line is, we just didn't play, we didn't play our best. You can put it on a number of different things, but we just didn't play our best. It's unfortunate, but we're going to we both have some pairings this week that we like a lot, too. I think Tiger and Fred is going to be a wonderful pairing, and I'm going to have a chance to play with Chris DiMarco and I think it's going to be a fun first match tomorrow. And we're all looking forward to it, so even though it didn't work out, we're still looking forward to the team competition and playing with a partner.
Q. Is there anything to the whole thing about people saying that a lot of golf is trying hard not to try hard and maybe some of that enters into it?
PHIL MICKELSON: That could very well be. We both knew it was a match that we thought we had to win because we put ourselves in a position of trying to go out first, trying to get together to get I don't want to say a guaranteed point because nothing is guaranteed and obviously it wasn't, but to get a point and get some momentum for the team, and we didn't do that and we weren't leading, we could feel the pressure mount, and that was frustrating.
Q. Right after the incident last week, you said you wanted to be here and play this week; how much is it in the back of your mind how you're feeling at every moment?
DAVID TOMS: Really haven't thought about it too much. Just because I haven't been to this venue before, I've never played here. Wanted to get out there and try to learn the golf course. Just been trying to figure out alternate shot and what holes I like, how to play the golf course and I haven't been thinking about the conditions at all to be honest with you.
I was a bit sluggish early in the week. I don't know if that's because I didn't sleep for a couple of days or what but now I'm starting to feel much better. I really don't see it being an issue at all, unless for some reason I have an incident this week on the golf course, or off the golf course, I certainly hope that that doesn't happen. But for now, I'm going business as usual and golf feels fine and I don't have any effects from it really to be honest.
Q. Back at the White House, when you guys get together, wearing the same uniforms and a team format and it's foursomes first and then four balls and Sunday singles, etc., do the memories that come back right away go more toward last year at Oakland Hills, the last event like this, or towards South Africa two years ago?
JIM FURYK: That's a good question. For me I think probably back to the Presidents Cup just because of the events. Although they are very similar, the events in some ways have a lot of differences in my opinion. Our team tends to be a little bit more loose, a little bit we have a little bit more fun during the weeks of the Presidents Cup. I think we tend to play better during the Presidents Cup. So I think when we show up this week, my thoughts go more back to South Africa than they do last year at Oakland Hills, and maybe that's just because I want to forget about last year a little bit more. The team didn't play as well as we could have.
But, you know, it's a whole new year, it's a whole new team, we have some different players, and I'm not a real reflective person as it is, so instead of looking backward on those past years, I think at the end of my career I think I'll turn around and start reflecting back on things. Right now I'm still looking forward and looking to this year did I answer your question right? You look confused.
Q. I always look that way.
PHIL MICKELSON: Justin was talking about that last night over here on the bus about the difference. Go ahead, why don't you tell him what you were saying last night? (Laughter).
JUSTIN LEONARD: (Rolling eyes.) I just lost a hundred bucks. I bet Phil I could come here and not say a word. (Laughter).
Well, I didn't play Oakland Hills, so my memories go back two years.
Thanks a lot. (Looking hard at Phil. ) (Laughter).
Q. I just want to ask a follow up
PHIL MICKELSON: That's a follow for you.
Q. I didn't even know you were there, I'm sorry. As a follow up to anyone but Justin
JUSTIN LEONARD: It doesn't matter now.
Q. These matches have often been described as I think Peter Thomson called it a happier occasion, certainly more civility than the other matches, is that necessarily a bad thing, or, is there any part of you that would like to see this have a little bit more intensity, acrimony, if you want to go that far, to giving it a little more attention?
JIM FURYK: I would love to answer that question, because I speak so much as it is. I think that just because the match is friendly doesn't mean that it can't be intense.
These matches have always had a great spirit to them. I think we all on both sides have a lot of pride, a lot of these guys on the other team are our neighbors. I practice next to Vijay throughout the year quite a bit. If one side is going to win this week, you can bet that one of us is going to be crowing a little bit, all winter, talking about the matches. So it's a sense of pride, but at the end of the matches, you know, there's a lot of shaking hands, the teams are together quite often, you're having a beer saying "well played." I think it's done in the correct spirit but I don't think that takes away from the intensity or the competitiveness of the match.
Q. Justin, this question is for you. Just wanted to see what you thought, your memorable performance in the '99 Ryder Cup, does that memory help you in an event like this, even though you have struggled in some past President Cups?
JUSTIN LEONARD: I think it does. I think it probably helped the little game we had yesterday, being 3 down; in '99 it was 4 down. I think in those kind of situations, I really learned not to throw in the towel and all you need is a little bit of daylight.
JIM FURYK: I think that match was against Phil, wasn't it?
JUSTIN LEONARD: It was, actually.
JIM FURYK: He got his hundred bucks back, anyway.
JUSTIN LEONARD: Yeah, I think memories like that help. We all have something like that to pull upon. Maybe not in a match play situation, but in some kind of tournament where you did something, maybe you weren't sure you would be able to pull off, and that just kind of that becomes infectious and you learn from those successes as well as you learn from the failures.
Q. Since Justin, since you're our go to guy, you guys have all won big tournaments, I wonder how much in match play, how much more pressure you feel, particularly like over a putt and things like that, just because you have to use your partner and that every hole pretty much comes down to, if you win or lose, do you feel more pressure in a match play event than, say, a stroke play?
JUSTIN LEONARD: I do. I feel more pressure at an event like this than I did last week at 84 Lumber. Because this is a team thing and you've got 11 guys that are pulling for you, and a captain, assistant captain and their wives and we've got a lot of fan support.
But I think ultimately, it's the same game that we play every game, and you just have to go out. We've all played some match play and team events, and I think we all learn to enjoy that, enjoy that pressure, and if we didn't enjoy it and thrive under it, we probably wouldn't be on this team.
Q. For Jim and Phil, why is RTJ such a great home course advantage against a team that essentially plays a lot on American courses just like you guys do?
PHIL MICKELSON: That's a good question, because we have had a good record here. And really, we don't have a great reason as to why, other than we've had a good mixture of players, guys that hit long off the tee and can take advantage of the par 5s that are marginally reachable. And we have guys that are incredible short iron players; we have a lot of short irons into these pins to make a lot of birdies. I think the mixture works out well as opposed to being a one dimensional team. I don't really have an answer for you, but we have had a good record for you.
JIM FURYK: (Shrugging shoulders). I'll go with what Phil said.
I have no idea. It's nice to be playing on home soil and it's nice to have the majority of the fan support rooting for you. It's not like any of these guys traveled or many of them traveled any farther to get here than we did, whereas in a Ryder Cup you switch in a six hour time change or something. Other than fan support, I have no reason to pick one side or the other.
Q. Question for Jim and Phil and David, Jim, you said a few minutes ago that the U.S. Team tends to have more fun and is a little looser at the Presidents Cup than the Ryder Cup, I just wonder why you think that is?
JIM FURYK: I don't know. I don't know. We should we all want to be in this position, we all want to be playing in this tournament, accumulate enough points to get on these teams. I think you should enjoy it while you're there and I always tend to play better when I'm enjoying myself and having fun. I think everyone would agree, we tend to tighten up as a whole during the Ryder Cup. I think you can just take a look at the guys' faces in the locker room and on the bus on the way out to the course, everyone just looks a little bit more uptight during Ryder Cup week.
I don't know what that reason would be, but my opinion is it's something that we should play in that event more than we played in the previous years, and excluding Australia, and have a little bit more fun. You know, I think most people when they are enjoying themselves, when they are having a good time, they are usually feeling a little bit more loose and they usually play better.
Q. Justin, now that you've lost your bet, I'll ask this question, I was thinking about it but I didn't want you to lose your bet.
JUSTIN LEONARD: Thank you.
Q. Scott Verplank tells me that you and he play a lot of golf together and you're friends; is it a possibility that you two could be paired together and would it be better to have you paired with someone who has a dissimilar game?
JUSTIN LEONARD: Like Phil said earlier, alternate shot, it helps, that's kind of our strategy is to go out with guys that have similar games. I think Scott and I will probably be playing together tomorrow because we do play so much together, we've got very similar games. So it's a pretty easy pairing.
You know, best ball I think guys maybe have different we don't all have the same strategy. I mean, I might rather play with a guy like Phil or somebody who can hit it over some of the bunkers and take advantage of the par 5s better than I can and have a little more contrasting games. On the other hand, you can put maybe a team like Scott and I or Jim and I together where we tend to hit a lot of fairways and put the ball on the greens more often, and that might wear a team down.
So I think you'll see probably Scott and I play alternate shot and then I think best ball, there's a lot of different theories and just play as hard as I can no matter who I'm playing with.
Q. How often do any of you play match play, except for these, be it the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup events? In other words, in practice rounds, at home or with friends, do you ever just play match play just for a change of pace?
JIM FURYK: It's a standard game probably for all of us at home. If you're going to play a match with a buddy at home, I think everyone in the group if you play a match, it's usually match play. It's pretty standard I think growing up.
Q. This is no knock on Hal, but do you think maybe it's easier to play for a captain like Nicklaus whose maybe primary goal is to make sure that you guys have fun, as opposed to in it to win it 100%?
JIM FURYK: Wow, does anyone think Jack Nicklaus doesn't care if we win or not? (Laughing).
Q. Obviously he does, but he seems to be a little more
JIM FURYK: No, I don't think Hal is anymore that way than Jack would be. I think it's just Hal's personality that comes out that way. He's very direct, he's very forward, kind of has that, you know, Louisiana style down there, you know. (Peering down the table to David Toms).
DAVID TOMS: (Nodding.) (Laughter).
JIM FURYK: He's got a southern way about it. He's very direct and forward. And I'm looking your way when I said that.
Hal wanted us to have fun, he wanted us to enjoy ourselves and quite honestly it was a lot of fun when we won by ten points than when we lost by ten points in Australia. Winning's fun. So I think that's all part of it.
I think all of the captains feel like the 12 guys that are playing for them are their guys, and they really want them to enjoy themselves and enjoy the experience. They want it to be memorable and they want their teams to win. It's just how they go about it might be a little bit different, because their personalities are all different. But I think they all want the best for us, and, you know, I think Hal and Jack probably have a very similar approach; they just in theory, when they speak, it comes out differently.
Q. The premise here may be wrong, but it appears from watching, the internationals are signing autographs in between tee to green and everything, and you guys aren't, you're signing after the round; was this a policy and has it changed in the last day or two?
PHIL MICKELSON: We were asked to wait until after to sign right by the putting green which is what we've all tried to do to make the attempt after we've signed and go over there and sign for everybody, yes.
Q. So it's the same policy all week?
PHIL MICKELSON: As far as we understand, yes.
TODD BUDNICK: Thank you, gentlemen. Good luck this week.
End of FastScripts.