November 18, 2003
GEORGE, SOUTH AFRICA
JAMES CRAMER: I'd like to introduce the first six players from the United States Team that we have with us today: Tiger Woods, Justin Leonard, Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III, Jim Furyk and David Toms.
Tiger, why don't we just get started. You've seen the course a couple of times now. Maybe you could comment on the condition of the course and how it's playing, and then we'll open it up to questions.
TIGER WOODS: Well, the golf course is playing very quick. The fairways are very fast, very undulating. It's interesting how far you can hit the golf ball. Actually Kenny Perry today hit one over 400 yards on one hole. Caught one of the downslopes and just kind of went.
You've got to really make sure you've got your lines right off the tees because some of the bunkers are pretty high in the fairways and you can get blocked out pretty easily. It will be a good test this week.
DAVIS LOVE III: I agree with Tiger. It's tricky off the tee. You have to be very selective in what clubs you hit, and certainly, in the alternate-shot format, you're going to have to get some balls in play to be competitive.
I think we are going to need, definitely, another practice round to sort it out and get used to the different wind conditions.
I think that's going to be the biggest challenge, really, for both teams is learning the golf course off the tee. There's some small greens out there, so you've got to be very accurate. You're not going to hit a whole lot of greens from the rough. So I think that it's a very tough driving course.
Q. Davis, your thoughts on this event; is it turning into what it was intended to be?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I think it has. It's grown every year. Certainly more recognition every year. You know, taking out of the country, it certainly is very exciting. The whole country down here is excited about it.
You know, obviously it doesn't have the history of a Walker Cup or a Ryder Cup, but it's a young tournament and still growing.
Q. A question for Phil Mickelson. The 6th and the 13th are the shortest par 4s that are attackable, looking at them today, are they the kind of holes that you can take a driver at in four-balls?
PHIL MICKELSON: I normally like to play those holes laying up. I've never been one to really like to hit driver off the tee. (Laughter.).
To answer your question, seriously I think 6 is a hole that most everybody will be able to reach, but it's very difficult to get the ball on the surface. But I will hit with the driver and try to get it town to one of the chipping areas.
13, that's a question mark as far as what club to hit, because it's a little bit longer and I don't think I can actually get it on the surface. Position is going to be a little bit more important there.
But I like -- I think the golf course has a lot of great risk reward, I really do. With five par 5s and all of those greens that are very difficult to where you can go at it and leave yourself an impossible up-and-down; and you're going to make 5, or you can make an eagle. You have two short par 4s, like you mentioned, so there's seven holes that really are exciting holes. I think it will pose a very good test and have some very exciting turnarounds on the course.
Q. Did you make an eagle on 9 today?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, I did actually. Thank you.
Yeah, normally 9 and 18, they are presses so it was rather critical. (Laughter.)
Q. At the Ryder Cup on the Sunday lineup, when the envelopes open, there's no chance to say, "I want to play so-and-so." Here the captain's can set up a match if you want. Do the players like that as much as, say, we do; do the players like that?
DAVIS LOVE III: I do. I like it that way. It's fun to match it up.
Q. Does it matter?
JIM FURYK: I think it's fun both ways. It's fun if you play a guy all week, and maybe he got the best of you and you want to see him in singles again and get one more crack, that's fine.
The possibility of pairing up some guys together is fun but it's also interesting to wake up Sunday morning or see Saturday night and put those two cards together and by chance see who you're going to get. I think it's fun both ways.
Q. Justin, are you and Jim sick of each other or do you think you might be playing together again this week?
JUSTIN LEONARD: I think there's probably a pretty good chance you might see us together.
You know, we had a great time last week, and I think it was probably a pretty good preparation a little bit for this golf course, and certainly for the format.
JIM FURYK: Still probably sick of me.
JUSTIN LEONARD: Yeah, I didn't answer your first question. Yes, I am sick of Jim. (Laughter.)
Q. I talked to some of you guys last week, but as a whole, do you feel like underdogs this week, given the strength of their team, where we're playing; any thoughts on that, Jim?
JUSTIN LEONARD: I never look at this event as being favored or an underdog. I think either way you've got to go out and play really well as a team to have a chance to win. You know, even on all those -- well, the two Ryder Cup teams I've been on when we were favored heavily by whoever -- yeah, by the Golf Channel, you know, they ended up being very close and one of them we got blown out.
So when you get into match-play situation like this, both teams are really good, I think you always have to look at it that you have to just go play well.
Q. I guess what I was getting at, just by the look of them and the form they are in, is this one of the strongest teams you guys have played, those of you who have been on several different Cups?
JIM FURYK: I think this International Team is always a very good team. Go right down the World Rankings when we play the President's Cup, and we are always playing against a very strong team and we have to play well.
Q. Obviously some of you guys have been to the Million Dollar in Sun City and I think just about all of you, it's your first visit to the Southern Cape, how does this golf course compare with Sun City, and generally as a worldwide golfing destination, are you impressed, unimpressed, is it just average, mediocre, your thoughts on that?
DAVIS LOVE III: I've only been here 24 hours, not even that, so I can't say.
It's nothing like Sun City golf course, no. It's a completely different style. But certainly the area and the weather seem very nice. So we'll see at the end of the week.
DAVID TOMS: We haven't seen much yet. It was dark last night. Hotel's nice. Just came straight to the golf course.
DAVIS LOVE III: The rooms are very nice.
JAMES CRAMER: Most of the players didn't arrive until late last night.
Q. Tiger, even though there is 7,400 yards, do you think it rewards accuracy more than distance?
TIGER WOODS: I think it rewards being strategic off the tees. You have to pick your direction, but also your distance you want to hit the ball off the tee. Because a lot of the fairways tend to kind of narrow and widen and you have to pick out which way, if you're going to fly it all the way in the wider part and lay it up short.
We played yesterday, Charles and I and Jay, we played with a different wind. Like you mentioned, 6 was drivable today. Well, we couldn't get there yesterday, so it was playing completely different.
And 14 was drivable yesterday and today it wasn't. You really have to make a decision off the tees. I think that's going to be a very critical factor in getting another practice round in tomorrow.
Q. Justin, the course is called a links, how much did it feel like a genuine links course today, not just how it played, but the whole design and feel?
JUSTIN LEONARD: It's certainly got the look of a links off the tee. Some of the greens are probably a little more -- have a little more undulation than a lot of links courses that I've played.
You know, off the tee, with able to see a lot of what you're playing to, but not exactly sure, like today, guessing where the ball was going to end up because the course was playing so fast. And then once you get outside the rough to see all of the long grass and everything, it's got a real linksy look to it.
Q. Question for Phil. The fact that the U.S. does not have a Solheim Cup and a Ryder Cup at the moment, is that extra motivation for the week or is this a completely separate thing?
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that as a team, we realize that the Rest of the World Team --
JUSTIN LEONARD: International.
PHIL MICKELSON: Right. I think the International Team is obviously very strong. We know that it's going to be a tough go of it, and we know how supportive the hometown crowd is towards their heroes, with Ernie being from here, Nick Price being from Zimbabwe, Retief Goosen. They have been supportive in the Sun City Nedbank Championship. And we expect it to be the same here and we know that it won't be easy.
We would like to win the Cup back, or keep the Cup, I guess. But it will be challenging. When we went to Australia in '98, we did not play our best. So we are looking on it as a real challenge for us to bring out our best game and put up good matches.
So irregardless of whether we have the Solheim Cup or not or whether we have the Walker Cup or the Ryder Cup, we very much want to keep it cup. We have only lost it one time, I believe, and we'd like to keep it that way. Although, it will be difficult.
Q. Nelson Mandela is going to be here on Thursday, you've met him, can you talk about the aura around him and are you excited to see him again?
TIGER WOODS: If I get a chance to see him again, that would be great. When I met him in '98 he invited me to his HOME. It was a very unique opportunity and one you don't get very often, that's for sure. It's a lifetime dream I've always had to try and meet him. Especially after the chronicles of him being in prison and growing up and reading all of that and especially when he came out and took over the country. I mean, these are things that happened when I was a teenager, a very influential part of my life. And to be able to meet the person that I've admired was a dream come true.
When I walked in the room, my father was there with me. You could feel something in the room and you didn't know what it was. You just looked around the room, you see him, he's over in the corner, just reading the newspaper. But you could feel, as you said, that aura, that something was definitely exuding in the room, and it was Nelson Mandela in the corner.
Q. I know it's early and you've only seen night here, David, but I'm curious, there being your first President's Cup, what differences have you noticed, be it atmosphere or anything else, than your first Ryder Cup last time?
DAVID TOMS: As far as the whole experience, I mean we haven't gotten into competition yet, but everything is pretty similar.
I enjoy it just because -- getting to play with guys on a team. We don't ever get to do that. Even today, we're out there, and Phil and I had a little game with Jerry and Chris, and you know, he's putting the needle in them and everything, but at the same time, we don't want to get too much at each other because we are all one.
TIGER WOODS: That's a shocker.
JUSTIN LEONARD: Talking smack. (Laughing).
DAVID TOMS: It's one of those things that it's special just to be part of it, and just like that event, it has it's differences, but I think in the end we all want to win. We're here as a team and pulling for each other and that's what's unique about events like this.
Q. Is the intensity the same?
DAVID TOMS: Certainly is for me. You know, any time that you show up, I'm like that at a normal event, you show up to win, just like we are here to win. Anything short of that, we'll be disappointed. So as far as the intensity goes, I think it's there, at least it is for me.
Q. What were your recollections of Australia, getting down there, getting adjusted, the beating, leaving, the whole bit?
JIM FURYK: Five years ago, I'm trying to forget that event since we played so poorly.
The recollection that I have of that event, really is that although.
JIM FURYK: The flies. (David Toms waving hand). I think our team, really other than the five to ten hours at the golf course, whether it was a 36-hole day or an 18-hole day, other than the time we spent at the golf course, we had a wonderful time, but getting beat up pretty badly that week was not much fun out there. At night it was a pretty close-knit team and we had a good time. We had a good trip.
But it always leaves a little bit of a bad taste that you don't play well and it's pretty much over by the time Sunday came around. It's a wonderful golf course, Royal Melbourne. I've been to Australia twice and I'm happy I played that course, but I was disappointed because there were a lot of wonderful courses and that's one of my favorites.
Q. You have played on every team since '96, is it?
JIM FURYK: '97, Brookline.
Q. Why do you think it is that we've seen every Ryder Cup match, it seems like, comes down to the last couple of matches on Sunday and yet the last two of these have been routes, any explanation for that?
JIM FURYK: I don't. Do you?
Q. No. I can go make something up but --
JUSTIN LEONARD: You're going to do that anyways. (Laughter.)
JIM FURYK: I probably could, too, but it wouldn't be well thought ought or intelligent.
Q. That's why I'm asking.
JIM FURYK: I don't know. That's a good question. I think these matches, we beat a very good team last time and I felt like our team was very strong in '98 when we got routed. So one team picked up the momentum both times and ran with it and put the other team in a hole that they could not climb out of.
You know, that's a good point. The last couple Ryder Cups have been close and these haven't. That's probably maybe unfortunately maybe tainted some people's look. Everyone always tries to compare the President's Cup to the Ryder Cup, and it may be because the last two President's Cup were not that close.
It's been unfairly judged. It's a wonderful event and it's unfortunate that I think it has to get compared to the Ryder Cup. It should be it's own event. Although it's younger, it has a similar style; it's always going to be compared. I think it's a wonderful event. It just doesn't have that 70-year history or whatever. The Ryder Cup has to be in about that 70-year time frame.
Q. Are we wrong to compare?
JIM FURYK: No, I don't think you're wrong, it's just unfortunate. I understand the comparison because the events are so similar and President's Cup is pretty much modelled after it. But I feel badly about that because it's a great event in ITS own right. It's taking away from the international fans, the International Team, the international media by comparing it and always wondering if it's as good. I think we should just treat it as its own event and know that it's a wonderful event.
Q. Do you think it's more natural to look at Europe differently than you do, the international flag, not so much since these guys play our tour and they come from all over, but just the dynamics of a continent versus a collection of really good players, anyone?
PHIL MICKELSON: Rather than look at it like that, golf has become such a global sport, it's natural to expand the competition. And rather than open up the Ryder Cup to everyone in the world, every country in the world, we just created another event.
Look at what it's done to the city here, George, and what it's done to the country of South Africa, what the game of golf has been created by this event coming here. So that's a real plus. I just think it was a natural fit to do it.
JIM FURYK: We are starting to see those players on the Ryder Cup, they are playing our tour now. We are seeing them at more majors, the World Golf Championships. We are getting to know those guys as friends. The other 12 players on the International Team almost all play our tour, or we see them quite a bit, if not, so we are friendly with all of them and a lot of them are neighbors of ours. We see them an awful lot. So it's not like -- it's more of the bragging rights at home more than it is this international grudge match type of thing where you're talking about the flags.
This has been, I think, has been a real friendly event and it should be that way. That doesn't mean it takes away from the competition. I don't think it does at all. I don't want to go home and have Vijay popping off for the next couple of months. That's not fun.
TIGER WOODS: I'm the same way. Appleby practices at Isleworth, too. I don't want him giving me a whole bunch of flak.
Q. The familiarity with the other players, it enhances the rivalry perhaps more than it hurts the rivalry?
JIM FURYK: I think it's a good rivalry. Although we on both sides want to win badly, it's still a friendly match. We are still going to shake hands and see each other Sunday night. We are still going to be neighbors and friendly with those folks. That's the way it should be.
Q. David, you don't have anybody in Shreveport?
DAVID TOMS: No. That's not a golf destination.
Q. Davis, I think after Nicklaus was named captain, I remember you saying that a lot of guys that were there, you kind of owed Jack one as a team. As you get closer now, we're at the event, does that feeling still persist, is that still part of the motivation?
DAVIS LOVE III: It definitely does. Like Phil said, we felt like we left something on the table down there. We didn't play our best golf.
You know, it was disappointing for Jack to have not gotten a win in one of these type of events. Hopefully we can make up for that. We're going to give, I think, a much better effort. This time it's closer to our golf season. We were kind of a little removed from our golf season in Australia. It was a little -- it was a strange feeling playing that kind of a big competition that far away from the season. So we're a little closer. We're only a week out of THE TOUR Championship. Hopefully we can do a better job for Jack than we did last time.
JAMES CRAMER: Gentlemen, thank you very much.
End of FastScripts.