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October 1, 2013

Jack Nicklaus


CHRIS REIMER:¬† Excited to welcome our quasi‑host this week, Mr.Jack Nicklaus to the media center here.¬† Mr.Nicklaus, first and foremost, the whole facility‑‑
JACK NICKLAUS:  What did you call me?
CHRIS REIMER:  You're host, right?
JACK NICKLAUS:  What was the word you used?
CHRIS REIMER:¬† I think quasi‑host.
JACK NICKLAUS:¬† Quasi‑host.
CHRIS REIMER:  I think host probably would have been better for that, right.
JACK NICKLAUS:¬† What's quasi‑mean?
SCOTT TOLLEY:¬† Semi‑host.
JACK NICKLAUS:  Semi.  Okay.
CHRIS REIMER:  I don't know if it's official.  I guess I could make it official.
JACK NICKLAUS:  You can do whatever you want.  That's all right.
CHRIS REIMER:  We would like to welcome our official host to the media center here.
JACK NICKLAUS:  I thought I was sounded like Quasimoto for a second.
CHRIS REIMER:  First and foremost, the whole facility, the course, everything just looks amazing out there.  Some opening comes on The Presidents Cup 2013 coming here to Muirfield Village Golf Club.
JACK NICKLAUS:  Well, obviously we are delighted at The Presidents Cup coming here.  We've said that many times, and we are honored to have hosted The Ryder Cup and the Solheim Cup, and now The Presidents Cup, Chris, as well as the Memorial Tournament every year.
Muirfield Village has been blessed with a good golf course and a great town and great people working on it and great volunteers.  To be able to bring the PGA TOUR in here and have The Presidents Cup, and just say, okay, guys, we're going to get out of the way, which is very difficult for us to do as you can imagine, and say, let's show us what you guys do that's different than what we do.
What a setup:  How about this press facility that you guys have got, and gals; the bleachers and the different marquises and hospitality areas on the golf course; the setup on the first hole; the change in the variety of how we are going to play the tournament, play The Matches here, versus how we play the tournament and the setup of the golf course, all different things that make it very unique.  Something I sit back and look at and say, wow, that's pretty neat.  There's a lot of things here that we can take and help make the Memorial Tournament a better tournament.
So to be the host and be part of it is very, very special.

Q.  How is the golf course set up differently?
JACK NICKLAUS:  The rough is not very high.  The members have the rough at about 2 1/2 inches.  I think they cut it at about 2 1/4 inches for the pros.  So obviously that means that the driving of the golf ball is going to be far more aggressive.
I think we've got the 14th hole, probably on a couple of rounds, give them the opportunity to drive the green.  Probably play the hole as its designed.  Although, even as its designed, if they have a following wind, even from the back tee, they can take a run at the green; always could.
And the 16th hole, I think we added to the tee on 16 to give it a little more variety.  I think even with some of the tough pin positions, they might even move the tee forward to try to find a little more aggressive shot down near the end of the match, have the water in the match.
The new 18th tee that we built after the tournament, I didn't build it for The Presidents Cup, I built it because I said I was tired of seeing guys drive over the nine bunkers that we put out there.
So actually after the tournament, we are going to take out some of those bunkers, because we won't need them anymore.  I never dreamed that we could get that tee back there as nicely as we have done it back there, and we do.  It really makes the 18th hole a hole that I've always enjoyed, loved playing, but as time has gone on, they kept hitting the ball further and further and driving over stuff.
I mean, Garrigus came in here last year and he says, "Jack, remember when I drove it up 76 yards from the hole last year?" 

"Yeah, I remember.

He says, "I drove it 64 today."¬†¬† I mean, okay‑‑ I want to wring his neck, you know.¬† (Laughter) because the hole is really, the creek is there and so forth and it's supposed to be the defining hole in the match and that's what we really want the hole to be.¬† So I think it will be now.¬† Those of you that are familiar with the hole, the black walnut is out on the right side of the fairway and has become quite a substantial tee now.¬† Its' 305 yards off the new tee.
So I don't think that they will drive it over all the bunkers but I think they will at least be forced to play, not an iron off the tee, but play a driver or 3‑wood depending on the conditions, which is really what I wanted, so you play a very significant shot in.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†
That's pretty much just what we wanted to get done, as I say, not specifically for The Presidents Cup.  We haven't changed anything specifically for The Presidents Cup.  We think that the golf course will play faster in the fall, which is usually does.  The weather forecast is actually pretty good, so the golf course should be relatively dry.  It will make it harder to keep the ball in the fairway, but the rough is not signature enough so that's okay.
This is match play, not medal play.  It's an event to have a few birdies and not play defensive golf but play offensive golf.

Q.¬† Just a follow‑up, the low rough, is that Fred Couples call, as it was Davis Love's call at Medinah last year?
JACK NICKLAUS:  I think the TOUR, we talked about it a year ago, and they said, "Jack, we'd like to have a little different setup.  Mainly, we'd like to have the rough a little shorter."
I said:  Fine, that's okay.  If you can get Latshaw to shorten, lower his mowers to do it, you're doing better than I'm doing.  I can't get it done for the membership.  Anyway, that's what we've done.

Q.  You obviously captained Tiger in some of these matches.  What were your thoughts when you went around trying to figure who to pair with him?
JACK NICKLAUS:¬† Well, I paired Tiger with whoever he wanted to play with, as I tried to get him whoever he wanted to play with in the singles, and I did that with a lot of the guys.¬† I didn't specialize with Tiger on that.¬† I'd ask all the guys at the beginning of the week, who would you like to play with, who would you enjoy playing with, who would you like to give it a shot.¬† I have my own ideas as far as what I would do and what I wouldn't do, and if I had a couple guys‑‑ guys, I don't think that's going to work.
I go back to St.Louis at Old Warson in The Ryder Cup, and I got paired‑‑ Jay was my captain then I think, and Jay paired Dave Stockton and I together.¬† And Stockton was not used to hitting wedges of the rough to the greens and I wasn't used to hitting 2‑irons out of the fairway to the greens; we got beat 6 & 5.¬† That didn't work out so well.
So the idea is‑‑ and I know that it's pretty hard to putt a really long hitter with a short hitter today because there's not any short hitters.¬† So really, we don't worry too much about that.¬† Put Tiger and Furyk together or Tiger and Stricker.
Tiger hits the ball much longer than both of those guys do, but they hit it long enough and Tiger is playing enough irons and things off the tee so maybe evens it out off the tees.  So maybe they blended together a lot better today than they did 30 years ago or 40 years ago or whatever it was.
But I think we went to South Africa, and Tiger and Charles Howell decided they wanted to play together down there.  I said, okay, so they played together, did very well.  I think they went to Washington and I think Tiger said he and Furyk wanted to play together, and I think Montréal, maybe he and Stricker I think wanted to play together.
Couples asked me to give him Vijay one match.¬† I remember at Washington, I had Mickelson asked for Cabrera one time.¬† I mean, there was a variety of things that guys asked for.¬† Some guys didn't ask for anything.¬† Some guys said, I always get‑‑ put it on a piece of paper, I said, is there somebody‑‑ I said who would you like to play with; or who wouldn't you like to play with.¬† And I had very few who I wouldn't like to play withes.
But I get the guys to give me an opinion and that's sort of how I made pairings.  I thought here the guys should have fun, and it's a goodwill competition; it's for bragging rights, and I think the guys take the bragging rights pretty seriously.

Q.¬† You're known for like tuning out distractions, crowd noise, that type of thing.¬† Is it different in team match play, whether it's Ryder Cup, in terms of‑‑ does the crowd really affect things; in what way; how?
JACK NICKLAUS:  Playing in a regular tournament, you don't get a lot of rooting and cheering for one player so much, against another player.  There's only going to be two out there or four, two and two.
I always found it a little harder to play with that, so the distraction‑‑ first of all, I never believed in rooting against somebody.¬† That was never in my vocabulary.¬† My vocabulary was always just play better.
You see that, and it sort of, it gets a little tough if you're the guy they are not rooting for.  But the other thing is that we don't ever do it but once a year and back when I was playing it, was once every two years.
So when we went over to Britain and so forth and played The Ryder Cup, it was difficult at times.  Frankly more difficult in England than in Scotland.  The English crowd was tougher than the Scottish crowd.  You always found that you knew where you were, where you were playing.

Q.  When you were playing Ryder Cup, did you guys ask to play with another player or were you just paired?
JACK NICKLAUS:¬† Occasionally we played.¬† I think Muirfield, Weiskopf lost his first two matches and I turned to the captain‑‑ who was captain?¬† Maybe Jay was captain.¬† I said, get me Weiskopf, we have to get him in the record book.¬† We kid around that way and have fun with it.¬† So Tom was paired with me the next match, but we didn't know who we were going to play against.¬† It's all put in an envelope.
I love The Presidents Cup format of pairing.¬† We pick one, the other team picks one, vice versa, go back and forth.¬† You can get‑‑ and I told at lunch this story about Norman did not want to play Tiger in Royal Melbourne.
I think Norman had been injured and had not been back very long, so he asked Peter Thomson not to give him, and word got to me that he didn't want to play.¬† And so I said ‑‑ and Tiger said to me and said, "I want Norman."¬†¬†
So my goal was to get Norman for hem them, so we kept going back and forth on the pairings and we have four left and Peter was the first pick; he was had.  So I paired Norman; I walked out and got the pairings, and Norman said to me:  "Why did you do that do me?"
And I said, hey, you're not on my team of course, got a big laugh out of that.  Norman didn't like it to start with but he laughed about it later.  That's just part of the fun.

Q.  Nick Price on a number of occasions has expressed his desire for The Presidents Cup to follow The Ryder Cup playing format and the number of points available.  Just wondered if you were happy with the structure of The Presidents Cup as is or if there are any changes you would like to see?
JACK NICKLAUS:  I'd love to see The Ryder Cup change its structure (laughter).
No, I like The Presidents Cup structure.  And the reason I like The Presidents Cup structure is you can't hide a player.  Everybody has to play every day.  And I mean, guys didn't work for a whole year or two years to make a team and have to sit on the sideline because a captain says, he doesn't think he's playing well.
I mean, I don't think that's what the guys are‑‑ guys came here to make a team.¬† They worked their tails off and they want to play, so I think that's good and I think that's all Nick's talking about.¬† Instead of having six matches, they would have four matches.
And I understand that he thinks that maybe on‑paper, the world team is not as strong as the U.S. team.¬† Well, you know, that changes from year to year.¬† I suppose on paper this year, you look at the U.S. Team, it's pretty strong.¬† I've gone to where the U.S. Team has been pretty strong and we've gotten whipped, too, in The Ryder Cup and the other.¬† I've been on both sides of the fence.¬† I just happen to like this format better because of those reasons.
The other one is, the way the pairs are, in The Ryder Cup, you just put it in an envelope.  Here, you match pairings.  I really like that.  And it actually let's the captain do something strategic.  And not hiding the guys; a few more matches; over four days; yeah, I like The Presidents Cup format.  I don't think there's anything wrong with The Ryder Cup format, except I think that the Ryder Cup has that ability to do that.

Q.  Can you talk about how the City of Dublin has embraced this whole event and rallied around it?  What do you hope all the visitors around the world take away from visiting your course and coming to the Dublin area?
JACK NICKLAUS:  You know, this is the center of the golfing world for this particular week.  230 countries are going to see this on television.  What's that, a couple billion people, a couple billion viewers.  They are going to see Dublin, Ohio; Columbus, Ohio; central Ohio.  They are going to see the hospitality.  They are going to see the enthusiasm.  They are going to see the support.  They are going to see a lot of things that I'm very proud of where I grew up.
And so to have that displayed on television for this week is I think a pretty important week for this city.  I think they understand that and I think they appreciate it and they embrace it and will continue to embrace it.

Q.¬† Two things, completely separate.¬† What do you make of the notion that The Presidents Cup needs the International Team to step up‑‑¬† and if not win, make it much more competitive than it has been recently.¬† And completely differently, can you clarify what your role was way back when Europe became part of The Ryder Cup?¬† I believe there was a story where you were very instrumental in that.
JACK NICKLAUS:¬† I think that the teams this year are probably skewed a little stronger toward the American side.¬† But in many years, you've seen the number of Australians, when you had Norman and you had Appleby and you had‑‑ you name them; I'm getting so old, I can't even remember the guys I played against.¬† The South Africans have always had strong players, and with Ernie, when he was at the top of his game, and you had Retief and those guys.
Some of those guys are not playing as well as they used to play but they will be replaced by young guys that you don't know much about.¬† I mean, you don't know much about Branden Grace, but Branden Grace is an awfully good player.¬† Got a couple other kids I've watched ‑‑ and don't ask me the names, because that's where I'm getting in the game.¬† They have pretty darned good international records.¬† They will surprise you this week.¬† The International Team is a lot better than you think it is.
And we hear about the American players, because they are here every week.  And the American players have played very, very well this year.  They have stepped up and done a good job.
But I think that goes in cycles.  I don't really pay much attention to that.  You know, four years from now, the Americans might be begging for mercy.
As it relates to The Ryder Cup, The Ryder Cup Team is one that we always, as an American, loved making the team, but really didn't care much about playing the matches.  Loved representing your country, but we won the matches every time.  So 1977, we went to Lytham, and I asked John Darby, it was Lord Darby who was president of the British PGA to sit down and talk and told him exactly what I just said here.
I said:  John, we all love to make the team, we all love the matches, but we have won the darned thing every time.  You're not the British tour any nor now.  You're The European Tour now.  I said, why not include the Europeans.  Henry Poe was president of the American PGA and Henry was with me, and Henry let me talk.
So we talked a little bit, and we got done and John says:  "Jack, you leave it to me."  And then he says, "Henry, you and I will work this out."  And they changed it.  Maybe introduced the idea, but they took it to the next level, which I appreciate them just considering the idea.  I think it's made a far better match out of The Ryder Cup.

Q.  Clearly the Memorial Tournament speaks for itself, but to have this event along with the Solheim Cup, Ryder Cup, what does it mean to you to be the only course to have that?
JACK NICKLAUS:  Obviously that's pretty special.  We are the only one that can say that.  But I don't think it's necessarily what we say.  It's that we have had the opportunity and privilege to be awarded those events and to be able to host them in the fashion that central Ohio has hosted them.  They have always supported everything we put out here as far as the golf tournament.  People have been great.  The fans have been great, the facilities great.  It's just always been good golf.
And I think that's what the TOUR saw.  They saw that we have good golf out here.  They know what we do at the Memorial Tournament, and awarding us The Presidents Cup, they said, well, we know that they will do a good job.
And I think a little bit, as Tim said at lunch today, he's asked me to do a lot of things and I've never turned him down.  He says, I only asked for one thing, and I asked him to see if we could have this; to be considered for this, and he said that's one of the reasons why they awarded it.
Well, I think that's very nice but I don't think it's because of me.  I think it's because of what everybody here, how it supports it and how they really do it, and they really do a great job here, and it's a place that has put its dues in into the TOUR and paid its dues, and I think to be rewarded and be thanked by giving us an event that we can try to see do even better, I think is really a very nice honor.

Q.¬† You were captain down in South Africa when Ernie and Tiger went head‑to‑head in the playoff to decide The Presidents Cup, and it was arguably maybe the single‑most exciting aspect of these matches.¬† Was that too much on two players, or was that a feature that was worth preserving?
JACK NICKLAUS:  Both Gary and I when we were captain, neither one of us liked the idea of putting one name in an envelope.  We thought if it was a team event, it ought to be a team finish, but that was not the rules.  We didn't make the rules.  We were just the captains and we abided by the rules.
As the event tied, neither Gary nor I wanted to have a playoff.¬† We thought it should be a tie.¬† And then when Tiger and Ernie started playing, obviously that was what the rules were, so they did; they‑‑ Ernie must have holed a good putt I think on the first hole and I think Tiger holed a good putt on the second hole.
And they got to the third hole, and it was almost dark, the par 3, long par 3.   Tiger didn't hit a very good slot but he put it on the front part of the green.  Ernie didn't hit a particularly good shot either, but he hit it closer than the Tiger but on the green.
Tiger knocked it about 18 feet by the hole and Ernie left it about eight feet short.¬† And Tiger, pitch dark, is hitting this downhill slider to the right, and as the best player in the world, even he‑‑ it was more than he could do, I would have thought, but he made it.
And then Ernie, who was probably the second best player in the world at the time put it in right on top of him.  We just said, hey, we are not going any further.  We don't have light for it.
So we said, we think it should be a tie.¬† We've always thought it should be a tie.¬† We called Finchem‑‑ I don't know why Tim didn't there, but he was back in the clubhouse or something.¬† Tim said, well, if that's the case, then the U.S. retains the Cup.¬† And Gary says, "On we go."¬† In pitch dark and I went over to the tee and said guys, I said, why don't we share the Cup, these guys take it half the time and pass it around the world and we'll keep it half the time here.
I think that's what the spirit of the matches were about and we ended up having 24 winners rather than 12 winners.  Since that time, The Presidents Cup, they accepted that and they have accepted that as the finish of the matches and if the matches end up in a tie, they end up in a tie and that's the spirit of how they are played in and that's the spirit of the way we'll go forward if there is a tie.  I think it's the right thing and I still think it's the right thing.

Q.  Apologize in advance for the question, I'm a Canadian, I'm, wondering about you dropping the puck for the Blue Jackets' opener on the second night of The Presidents Cup.
JACK NICKLAUS:¬† I don't understand, first of all, I've never seen a puck dropped.¬† I've never heard the phrase until about two weeks ago.¬† (Laughter) I don't know how far you drop it from.¬† I don't know what you're supposed to hit and who you're not supposed to hurt.¬† So I'll find out on Friday night.¬† I'm going down and do the‑‑ I don't even know who the blue jackets play.¬† Who do they play?¬† Calgary?¬† They play Calgary on Friday night and that's the opening of the season and they have asked me to come down and do that and I'm delighted to do so.
I need to learn something; I need to broaden my horizons.  I've been to one NHL hockey game in my life.  I had season tickets for the Panthers for about four or five years, never used them one time.  My office used them.  And they were playing for the Stanley Cup and they are playing against the Avalanche and that's when they were throwing the mice or the rats on the ice.  And Wayne Huizenga;  Wayne owned the Panthers at the time and asked me if I wanted to come down with Barbara and we did.  We went down, sat right behind the glass. Of course, every time the puck hit the glass, Barbara was jumping back about ten feet; or somebody would check into the glass.
It was a very interesting experience and enjoyable and we had a great time.  I had not been to a hockey game since, so we are going to go to a hockey game Friday night.
CHRIS REIMER:  No mice throwing out here this week?
JACK NICKLAUS:  It was rats.  Couldn't catch the mice or the rats.
CHRIS REIMER:  Mr.Nicklaus, thank you for coming in, a great week, good luck and everything looks amazing, thank you so much.

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