September 14, 1996
LAKE MANASSAS, VIRGINIA
WES SEELEY: We have Nick Price. Part of this stirring comeback.
NICK PRICE: It's exciting; isn't it? I think the worse thing that could have happened to this competition is that if either side dominated. And I think we did really well with the pairings today. We obviously gave it a lot of thought and paid attention to a couple of things, some of the things that maybe we tried on Friday didn't work out that well, but I think the big difference today is it seemed like we were holding out and the U.S. Team wasn't. It was just a role reversal of yesterday. I think certainly, for me, today playing with Elky, we holed some putts, and playing with Mark this afternoon we holed some putts. And that was a big difference. We got momentum going there. It looked like a while we were going to be tied up ten points each. You couldn't have written a better script for that. But tomorrow is going to be really interesting. We're a point down, but with 12 singles matches, anything can happen. I think you're going to see a lot of momentum swings tomorrow. I think you're going to see everything change; one guy changes one hole. And I can remember last time we played here it was very similar to that. We certainly had a chance at one stage two years ago and we just didn't finish it out. So, hopefully, tomorrow we'll have a good shot at it.
Q. Nick, realistically, today did you come in with a number in mind of getting so close to the American team or was it just go out --
NICK PRICE: We wanted to get back some lost ground. That's all we tried to do, really, was just try to make up, if we had closed within two points or two and a half points going into tomorrow, we would have been really happy. Everyone just played so well today. And the thing that really we did well today was we paired the right people together. And I know in the foursomes I play well with Mark all the time, so it was good for us to play this afternoon. And I think Elky and I played really well in the fourball. What a great day's golf, though. Two days -- the shot he hit on 18, under the circumstances, was phenomenal. What else can you say?
WES SEELEY: Mark O'Meara has joined us.
Q. The pairings, how did they come about today? Did the players have, more or less, input?
NICK PRICE: We've had shared input with Peter. I think yesterday, as I say -- well, we got together on the front of the 18th green last night, because we only had about 30 minutes to get all the pairings in for this morning. And obviously we had to do a lot of we felt rearranging to see who was going to play with who. And Peter was standing there and listening to 60 different scenarios going on - this guy wanted to play with this guy; eventually he said I've got the idea and off he went. We came back and saw the pairings this morning and we felt comfortable with who we were playing with. Ian Baker-Finch has done a great job, because I think he's sort of been the coordinator between the players and the Captain and also he's had some great advice.
Q. About your putter, you switched putters, you broke your putter yesterday?
NICK PRICE: Did I? Did anyone see me do it?
MARK O'MEARA: That's five hundred.
NICK PRICE: No comment.
Q. Is it a Ping or can you say?
NICK PRICE: It's a Bobby Grace putter. It's one of these Ping look-a-likes. Beautiful putter, and it's actually Robert Allenby's. It's his back-up putter. But my putting still isn't worth writing about right now. My partner today certainly upped himself on the greens.
Q. What's the model called?
NICK PRICE: What's it called?
Q. A skinny lady?
NICK PRICE: No, it's got the letters - it's the composition of the two nickels.
Q. Mark, speaking of partners, what was your reaction to being split up with Duval?
MARK O'MEARA: You know, David and I played well the first one and a half days and I was kind of hoping to play with him in the alternate shot. But the tough thing we've had and the fact that you don't have a lot of time to make a decision on the pairings is that the majority of the guys on the team have all been playing pretty well. My hat is off to the International Team today. Obviously, we all know what kind of players all the guys are in this tournament. But they definitely showed their true colors. We knew they were going to play very well today. You saw a lot of great shots out there. Not exactly my tee shot on 18, but you saw eagles out there. I think Frank Nobilo made a couple today. We played against Elkington and Vijay. They had two eagles in the first five holes. There was some great, spectacular golf out there. And you had to really play well to win a match. You had to get good scores. So it's tough. It's tough when you have to leave two guys out. We felt like our 12 guys coming in from the practice rounds were all doing well. I don't know how Nick felt. I think the International Team felt similar. It's a tough decision for any Captain.
Q. For a guy who is sort of low keyed, this event and Ryder Cup, your own priorities, are you changing your idea about team-play?
MARK O'MEARA: I think it's exciting for the game when things like -- the last hole, it comes down to that or it may come down to that tomorrow on 18, you know. I think that -- yeah, I think I'm changing my mind a little bit. But I think that the thing that you have a tough time doing out there - Nick will tell you - he's out there playing to do the best he can do. And what everybody else is doing on the team, he has no control of. So sometimes you go and play the best you can, and sometimes you play good, or -- and your team doesn't win or your match doesn't win. I guess that comes with the territory. There's times I played well in certain matches in past Ryder Cup experiences and I lost. I thought I played well, but I still lost. So I guess like today I think Vijay and Steve both played very well this afternoon. They probably deserved to win the match. But we just had some good, fortunate, good breaks on our side. And I guess that's what helped me in the past, and I'm just trying to play the best I can. And I can't control what everybody else does.
Q. Mark, you mentioned your drive on 18. Can you take us through the entire hole?
MARK O'MEARA: It was late in the day. I was kind of tired. I hacked a couple out of the rough. I hit a poor shot on 15, but bounced back with a pretty good shot on 16, obviously. And a decent one on 17. And I know that there's times where I'll miss a shot. But that's not really like me to hit a tee shot like I hit on 18 under the circumstances. Granted, I can hook one, but that was one like you guys out in the audience might hit. (audience laughter) not Carol, she can't hit them like that. I hit it by the cart path. Scott hit it by the cart path and I got lucky with the pitch shot. Luck is a big factor in the game of golf and it was on our side.
Q. What was the wedge?
MARK O'MEARA: It was a 50 degree sand wedge, Taylor Made.
Q. May I ask the same question of both players. Mark, first of all you. You were the last group. You had to be noticing the leader board. Was it an inspiration?
MARK O'MEARA: Basically, we were getting waxed. I saw what was going on. Yeah, felt like our match was a very, very important match. And when I hit a poor shot into 15, where I pulled it left of the green, when we had the 1-up lead, but I came back with a good shot on 16 where the ball almost went in the hole. But don't take anything away from the fact that Steve and Vijay had many opportunities out there for birdies coming in. And ran it over the edge. Like on 17; Steve's putt on 18. That's the kind of fine line you're talking about when you get to this level of play. And I think that it's just -- it was a very important match. We maintain a lead, but we also realize that we've got our work cut out with these guys tomorrow.
Q. What about you, Nick, was it an inspiration to see the whole team gelling?
NICK PRICE: Yeah, I think when I got on 13 I looked at the boards and we were up in four and square in one. And I was calculating in -- my mind was going fast forward there, thinking, hey, we could tie this up going into tomorrow. I think we just didn't play well enough yesterday. If we made an extra point, obviously, we'd be tied up. That was the difference. We just didn't play that well yesterday. The U.S. Team played great yesterday. But to me, it's just great being a part of a team and I can't tell you the camaraderie amongst the 12 guys. When you see we're from all over the world, the only thing that we have in common is that we spend a lot of time in airplanes, outside of golf. But the camaraderie has been fantastic for us and I can't tell you how much fun it is to be part of that. And I could see that in the years gone by in the Rider Cups and also in the amateur golf that I played, because there was a long gap for me, and I suppose for just about all the guys from amateur golf where we did play team matchplay golf to -- I'm nearly in my 40's now, so it was 21 years ago. But it's great fun and I think it's taken a little adjusting on our side to plan it together with the guys and not keep saying sorry to the guy when you hit a bad shot. You just get up and play. Tomorrow is going to be really exciting.
Q. Just for both players: I know a close match is what everybody wanted, but now we've got Tiger Woods halfway across the country threatening to win, maybe overshadowing that. What do you think of that whole scenario and what do you think of him?
MARK O'MEARA: I don't think Nick and I are worried about Tiger right now. We're worried about our games and winning - winning this thing- me, for the U.S. side, and Nick for the International side. But I've got to tell you what makes this competition, in my opinion, better than the Ryder Cup is the fact that after this thing is over Nick and I will still be competing with each other. Basically a lot of the International Players live in the United States and play on the U.S. TOUR. We appreciate the fact that they've come over and made this their second home and played alongside of us. And we are all friends. Are we trying to beat each other? Yeah. But at the end of the day, we will remain friends. And I think that's what the game of golf is all about. Win, lose or draw, the best man should win. If you lose, you should be disappointed, but you should be able to stand there and congratulate the guys that win and hold no grudges. Don't you think, Nick?
NICK PRICE: Yes. Absolutely.
Q. Nick, is there a big mood shift on your team from 24 hours ago?
NICK PRICE: In fact, we were going back on the bus last night it was hard to -- if you'd been a fly in the bus, you wouldn't have thought that we were seven and a half, two and a half down or whatever we were. You wouldn't have. Because the mood was very jovial and win, lose or draw, I know that all of us are going to have a great time this week and have a good experience. It's a very, very hard week, because it seems like since I got here Tuesday I've been running flat out. I got to bed and I've got to sleep. I've got 25 minutes to get to sleep and then you've got to get up early in the morning.
MARK O'MEARA: I had to get here Sunday night for a board meeting all day Monday morning until 1:30; then I had to play with Arnold, about 12 or 13 holes and then do what you've done.
NICK PRICE: I was in the hospital for 12 hours.
MARK O'MEARA: Right.
Q. Nick, was there one match that was the catalyst for the turnaround, was it this morning or maybe Peter and David winning this afternoon?
NICK PRICE: I think Peter and David getting off today helped us a lot today, also. But you're not really concerned too much about what the other guys are doing because if you get engrossed in that, you don't pay attention to your own game. You kind of are hoping that the guys are going to stay ahead. But you've got to pay real close attention to the match you're playing, because just one -- we had one -- we had the game really sown up today playing 15 and I hit a bad second shot. I was right in between clubs and I pulled a 4-iron and the momentum swing right then and there. And it could have gone -- we could have lost the match. We could have tied the match. As it turned out, we hung on and won. But that's the way that this game goes. It's very, very close there and as soon as one team gets on top, you try and break that momentum a little bit because for us yesterday, we lost holes in spurts. I think our whole team did. It was like we were all sort of squared up, and the next thing you looked at the board and we were 2, 3 and 4 down. That gets a little depressing.
Q. Mark, could you just take us through that last shot at 18? What did you see? Was that exactly what you were trying to do?
MARK O'MEARA: No. My ball wasn't really sitting very good. It had some grass behind it. It was kind of a nasty lie. I knew I had a backstop behind the hole. But my game plan was -- the good thing was that my lie was so much of an uphill lie that with the lie and the hill and everything, it was just one of those ones that I said, "be somewhat aggressive." I don't have to murder it, but be aggressive and put the ball high. The greens are soft and the ball must have flown on the fringe or whatever, it landed and it trickled down there. But there's no question there was a little bit of luck involved. Unfortunately this game -- that's kind of like what Nick said, it kind of fluctuates back and forth. And the momentum is going this way; then it's going back that way. But we stole one there - there's no question about it.
Q. Mark, you talked about why you like the Presidents Cup over the Ryder Cup, the camaraderie, no grudges to bear. Do you feel the Ryder Cup has too much --
MARK O'MEARA: Yes and no. I think the Ryder Cup is an unbelievable experience. I think that the problem is that the amount of -- it's good to see athletes perform under pressure and see what happens. But I think when you lose and people look at you like you're a major failure or you're not a good person, that's when I have a problem with it. And sometimes because that amount of pressure that's been applied to a Ryder Cup format, even though I know everybody likes to see the Presidents Cup the same way, my hopes would be that the players can still -- hit good shots, say "good shot" and Nick says "thanks," and Nick would be the same with me. Golf is a game of being gentleman. And not to say that it hasn't, but there's been times in the Ryder Cup that that animosity kind of -- this side and that side, and the fans probably are a little bit -- I would hope that the fans this week -- I've heard some things said that there's been a couple of comments made out there. But I don't want it to be that way. I want them to applaud a good shot when Nick hits it. He knows they might be pulling more on the U.S. side than the International side. I want them to be gracious out there and pull for both sides.
NICK PRICE: I don't think anybody has a problem with another -- with the crowd cheering for their home team. Not one of us do. But I think the thing that hurts the most is when they cheer when we miss a putt. That to me is really -- and I'm sure Mark has experienced that. It's so uncalled for in this game, to me, anyway. For me, it actually -- it happened a couple of times and it worked the other way, because it drove me even harder. It's just not -- it's not done in golf. Maybe in other sports it is, but in this game, the integrity of this game stands high and above everything else. And I would feel very bad if a tournament was played - this championship or this competition was played in my country or in Southern Africa and I saw some people cheering when our opposition missed putts, because I would get very upset about that.
Q. Tell us about 16 and 17.
MARK O'MEARA: On 16 I tried to hit a little 6-iron and draw it in and I basically pulled it in a little bit and it caught the slope and ran down there a foot, maybe 10 inches. On 17, Scott hooked a 3-wood just in the rough and the ball wasn't sitting very good. It was kind of sitting down, a lot of grass, and I had like 129 to the hole, something like that, 124 and five and I just layed open the face on a 7-iron because I just didn't feel like I could get an 8-iron there. And fortunately the ball came out nice. And then, like I said, 18, I just hit kind of a low smother-hook drive with my driver and Scott hit a 4-wood or 5-wood up there left of the green.
Q. Where did you take the lead?
MARK O'MEARA: On 16, I'm sorry. Because we had it on 14. Scott made birdie. Then we lost it on 15 because I missed the green to the left and we regained it on 16.
Q. I know you feel satisfaction from the first two days, but do you feel relief that you don't have to play these formats anymore for another two years or one year? Now you can go play golf tomorrow.
MARK O'MEARA: Actually, I think it tests your patience. It tests, like Nick said, it tests your concentration powers, because when you hit a bad shot, it's not like when you hit a bad shot by yourself, but it's your partner and your team and all these other things and that adds that pressure and you don't want to have to feel keep feeling like you are saying you're sorry out there. I know -- I knew I hit a sh-- I can't say the word here, but basically it was a pretty crappy tee shot on 18. I can't walk all the way down and say, gosh, Scott, boy I really wasn't too good, I'm sorry. He knows I'm sorry. I wasn't trying to put it over there. I think Nick understands that, too. So I think as you mature and you say to yourself as long as I go out there and play as hard as I can, hopefully everybody will understand that I'll hit some good ones and I'll hit some bad ones. And I think it gets a little bit more fun. I think when you keep it in that perspective, you'll do better.
Q. If I might for both players, again, haven't heard much mention of this. I feel I've watched 72 holes of golf and I've never seen so much outstanding and fantastic shots in my life. Is this course too easy for the best players in the world or is it just in fantastic shape?
NICK PRICE: The course is soft, Ed. It's giving us the opportunity to fly the ball right at the flag; certainly a little different to the last time we played where the ball was releasing a lot. But pars aren't going to win out here, pure and simple; especially when you're looking at the best ball of fourballs when the guys are shooting 9 and 10 under through 16 holes, you've just got to go out there and fire on all cylinders. And I think the quality of golf has been outstanding. I said to Squeaky yesterday when we were playing Tom Lehman and Steve Stricker, I said why don't the American guys play like this in the Ryder Cup; the Europeans wouldn't have a chance. I mean, the golf yesterday was phenomenal. Tom Lehman has played so well and then this morning Elky played great. So I think the quality of the competition lifts everyone's games up a notch.
Q. Mark, when did you feel a momentum shift today? Was it Freddie and Davis's match this morning and then finally getting over the beaten factor or the fast start by the Internationals this afternoon?
MARK O'MEARA: No. I think that -- when you've played in three past Ryder Cups and I've seen momentums swing back and forth like that, and even Arnold spoke about that last night. He said, look, you guys had a good day today, but don't take, for one instance, that the International Team is not going to play extremely strong tomorrow. Because they're not going to lie down. We know that. I know what kind of players the International side has and I have the utmost respect for the International Team. I think it was their day today. They played some extremely solid golf, obviously. I don't know about my fellow players on my team. I don't get to see what they're doing, obviously, so I can't comment on how they felt like they played. I felt I played reasonably well with David this morning. I think with David we were 19 under par through -- in our best ball we were 19 under par for 31 holes or 30 whatever -- I think we played 15 and -- 16 and 15, 31 holes we were 19 under par. And we were 1-under in the alternate shot yesterday, so we were 20 under, and I don't know what Scott and I shot this afternoon, but I think it was probably just under par. The alternate shot is obviously, like Nick said, is a little tougher to get real low. Because you are going to make some birdies, but you might slip a couple of bogeys in there.
Q. So what are the moods going into tomorrow? Will you guys feel better, because you got a strong charge today?
NICK PRICE: Our moods were good last night. So it's hard -- I would say that we're not going to sort of go in there and say, hey, because we've played great today, we're going to play great tomorrow. I think everyone is just going to go out and play their own games and fire as hard as they possibly can. But certainly the momentum swung our way today.
MARK O'MEARA: I'd have to agree with Nick. The momentum definitely shifted today and the International Team took full advantage of that. I think we know we've got our work cut out for us tomorrow and we're going to have to come out and play some solid golf to try and rally back. A lot of things can happen tomorrow. You're talking 12 single matches. It's going to take 16 and a half points to win. And I just think that it's good for the game and hopefully both teams will play really well and we'll see some exciting matches out there and we'll have to wait and see.
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