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September 11, 1996

Brian Allan

Ernie Els

Greg Norman

Joe Ozaki

Peter Thomson


WES SEELEY: We have assembled for you on the far end the Chief Executive of the PGA TOUR of Australasia, Brian Allan, and to his right is Peter Thomson; then Ernie Els, Greg Norman, Jumbo Ozaki, Tom Tomokuga will help us interpret for Jumbo, and why don't we just go to questions.


WES SEELEY: Thank you for coming. (AUDIENCE LAUGHTER)

Q. Ernie, can you just start and give us some impressions about what the week has been like so far, what do you think the golf course is like and the overall thoughts on the competition.

ERNIE ELS: The golf course is unbelievable, and it's wonderful to play in a team environment that we have. The guys are really kind of happy to be here to start off and then they really want to play. And we had a great dinner last night and we are ready to play. We came here to give the American guys a good run for their money. '94, both myself, Greg and Jumbo didn't play, so I'm happy to be here and I'm happy to play and I'm ready to play. I think the golf course is really playing very long. I don't know how it played last time, but it's playing quite long at the moment. The greens are good. It's a good matchplay golf course, I think.

Q. Greg, you didn't get to play last time. Could you just talk about what your feelings are coming into this?

GREG NORMAN: I agree with Ernie. The team spirit is very, very high. I had -- our dinner last night, according to the guys who were here two years ago, was the best they've ever had, because we all sat at one big table together and we all laughed and joked and basically psyched each other up for the coming week. So it was good to see that. We knew that back in Tulsa last year at the TOUR's Championship when Ernie and myself and Vijay and Elky, and we sat down, we have to field the best team. If we field the best team, we'll do it. Camaraderie, as well. We've all known each other exceptionally well. We all know each other's game. And I think it's a very, very balanced team from the aspect of no matter who plays with pro. We're balanced exceptionally well. And the golf course, as Ernie says, it's a long golf course. It's playing every bit of 7,300 yards or whatever the yardage is, you'd think because of the power play we have on the International Team and the great putters we have on the International Team, we have a pretty good chance of winning this event.

Q. Just for all the players, do you think it's going to take an International victory on this event to put it on the map?

ERNIE ELS: Well, I think this year with the guys playing on our side, on our team, we feel, as Greg says, our best side we possibly could. I think it's already on the map. I think we're going to have a great week this week. Whoever wins, it's going to be a tough match, but I think most of the guys will take next week off after this week, and I think it's going to be really tough. I think it's already up there. The Ryder Cup, obviously, has been played over the last - I don't know how many years - so they've had some great matches on that side, too. But I think when we start moving it around maybe in the future, maybe to Australia or maybe even to South Africa, it will also make it a little bit more interesting, Japan, obviously, also.

GREG NORMAN: I agree with Ernie. I think, from the stature, from a International aspect of the event, we need to move it around. We've had it two years here in the United States. And it's great for the American players. Yes, it's good for us because a lot of the International Players do live in the United States, but from the pure -- getting the rest of the world involved publicly-wise, it would be important to move to tournament. We've already spoken about it. We, from the players' point of view, would love to move it anywhere outside the United States, whether it goes to Japan, we'd all go there; whether it goes to Australia or South Africa, we don't really care. We feel strongly about that. We need to give the country people, no matter where we play, a Jew view of this event.

Q. I wonder in light of the whole controversy at the British Open and David and what's happened, can you talk a little bit about that and what Peter has added to this team at this point?

PETER THOMSON: I made it clear a few days ago that we don't wish to discuss that matter at this time. We're here to play this event to the utmost of our ability and we'd rather defer that until next Monday, if you don't mind.

Q. Second part of the question.

GREG NORMAN: I'll answer that for you. What Peter brought to our team is years and years of experience. And he's already shared a little -- shed a little bit of light on how he and Kel Nagle played in the America's Cup. They were a success. I don't know how many World Cups they won. They were extremely successful. He also told us how the guys played in the Chrysler Championship, the seniors, about seven years ago. Those type of bits you get, gives us, as younger players, that much more of an experienced edge. And it's really shown through. Just -- we went back to have a team meeting; Peter wants to have a team meeting this afternoon, and I'm sure those things will come out, as well. The maturity and experience and statesmanship he brings to the event is very, very high in everyone's mind.

Q. I wonder if Greg, Ernie, Peter and Jumbo, if you could talk about any and all -- about how this is being received in each of your respective countries. We all get a sense of how big a deal this is here, but how is this playing in Australia, South Africa and Japan?

ERNIE ELS: Well, we're a long way from home. I haven't been home since April, so -- but obviously they watch us, South African people watch us all around the world with great interest; especially on television. I think it's like, what Greg said, when we start moving this tournament around, to Japan or South Africa or Australia or wherever, it will be big for those people down there. My mom is flying over here. She's coming over on Thursday to come watch this event and support me and the team. It's kind of hard to get the support you do in America. We play in America again this year and obviously it's all rooting for America at the moment. But it's pretty big. I'm sure that people in South Africa and Australia are going to be watching on television, probably supporting us. But I think when this tournament starts moving around, I think it's going to become really big.

JUMBO OZAKI: It's becoming very popular in Japan slowly and the interest is growing. Right before I came here, the PGA of Japan threw a big party for this event. So the interest is growing.

Q. Why did you decide to play this time? Did the other players have to convince you or did you feel like you were wanted?

JUMBO OZAKI: At the PGA Championship when I met Mr. Greg Norman he really welcomed me and I felt his warmth of appreciation to play this event. Because of Mr. Norman I decided to play.

Q. There's been a lot of talk about all the team spirit and camaraderie, Jumbo, are you participating fully in that or is the language a barrier?

JUMBO OZAKI: I would not like you to ask questions about the team spirit.

GREG NORMAN: Jumbo speaks better English than you think. There hasn't been any problem with that. Our communication has been phenomenonal in the villa. He understands from our practice rounds together, there hasn't been a problem there. And obviously, I've got to say, Jumbo really did lift this tournament. He lifted it from the International standard. Yes, we have the Ernie Els and the Nick Prices and the Steve Elkington and myself. But Jumbo has been predominating that region. We needed Jumbo to play. And it brought this tournament, from our standpoint, from the players' standpoint, brought it up. It wasn't just me. It was all the other eleven players on the team. We all sat down. We all discussed the fact that we wanted Jumbo on the team. If we got Jumbo on the team, we knew then we were having, 100 percent, the strongest International Team. I ran across two fairways to see Jumbo and asked him if we would have that meeting we had at the PGA. And Jumbo came along. I don't think he made the decision that night. But from the players' point of view, when he turned up for that meeting, we went, "yes," now we really have a team right now because Jumbo is here and we've got the best of the best.

PETER THOMSON: I would like to add a little to that answer, to give you an even deeper idea of what it's about. This team has found names for each of the individuals. Jumbo is called Samurai by the rest of the players. I think that's a term of endearment, but also a respect for his might, and the power of his sword. I won't tell you the other names, but you can find out if you ask.

Q. After the International Team gets its turn to play the Presidents Cup, would you like to see the tournament come back here to Lake Manassas?

ERNIE ELS: I wouldn't mind it. If we win this weekend, we can always come back. I don't know. I haven't played the golf course in competition. It's kind of new territory for myself and for Greg and for Jumbo. But I enjoy the golf course. As I say, I think it's going to be a really good matchplay golf course. You've really got to hit some good shots to make birdies out there. It's quite an interesting golf course, too. So I wouldn't mind.

Q. Maybe for Greg, on the subject of Jumbo, lots of people in America won't know that much about him. Could you describe, from your viewpoint, a little about his game, what people might expect to see from the way he plays?

GREG NORMAN: Well, Jumbo is probably as long as a Tiger Woods. He's as long as a Vijay Singh and an Ernie Els. And he's got a lot more years on him than any of those guys. So that tells you what his fitness is all about. When you go to Japan, Jumbo is really the leader. He's the icon of Japanese sport. You can throw in your baseball. You can throw in every other sport they play over there, but Jumbo is idolized, you cannot believe to what level. I think he's bigger than a Michael Jordan over here, popularity-wise, for what he does for the game and what he does for the country. From a playability standpoint, he's just sheer power. He has the ability to overpower par 5s, because of his length. And obviously he's got the short game to go with it. To give you an example, he's won five of the last nine tournaments he's played in Japan. Now, I don't care where you play anywhere in the world, to win five out of nine, you've got to play some golf to do that. So that gives you -- I can't remember the number of tournaments he's won in Japan, but I think it's somewhere in the high 70s or 80s. So that's an impressive number of events. So what people see is Jumbo being the last to hit because he's so far out in front of everybody else, no matter who he plays with. And they'll see -- people have the image that the Japanese players are smaller in stature and not as strong as the guys from the Western world. But he's going to show people - 210 million people are expected to watch this event. 210 million people are going to find out these guys from Japan can really play the game of golf.

WES SEELEY: 74 wins in Japan for Jumbo.

Q. Ernie, if you would, as though you were talking to someone who didn't know Greg, didn't know anything about him, if you would convey who he is and what he's about and what he's meant to the sport, if you would talk about that. And in turn, Greg, if you would please talk about the way you feel, you forged a name for yourself over the last decade in this sport.

ERNIE ELS: Greg Norman, I've -- ever since I was a lot longer than I am now, I've been looking up to Greg. He's almost like an Arnold Palmer of our era. Whenever Greg plays, there's people around. I think he's done a lot for our sport. He's done a lot for us as International Players. He's one of the greatest players that's ever played the game, I would say. He nearly ever misses, especially in the Majors, but if you look at Greg's record in major golf, I don't think anybody - except for Jack Nicklaus - has anybody really been that close winning major tournaments. He's always in the hunt wherever he plays. He's one of the soundest ball strikers to ever play the game. As I say, for Greg to play on our team, it kind of lifts everyone up. We all kind of want to play better; want to try a little harder - it's really good.

GREG NORMAN: What was your question about?

Q. I was asking if you would talk about the place you've forged for yourself in this sport over the last decade.

GREG NORMAN: The place I've put myself in sport?

Q. The place you've forged for yourself.

GREG NORMAN: Simple. I've only done it because I love to play. I've always said I don't play the game for the money, I play because I love the game. I have a lot of pride in what I do. If I'm swinging poorly, I don't want to shoot a 78. I want to shoot a 72. I've won golf tournaments playing bad, and I've lost golf tournaments playing great. It's how you walk off the golf course at the end of the day is how good you feel. And you know whether you've done 101 percent or you know whether you've only put in 70 percent. Winning is great, but winning is not everything. It's how you perceived -- how you handle your losses. Everybody can be ecstatic when they win and say all the right things, but when you lose, it's how you lose. And, to me, when I see young kids and I go play practice rounds even here now and I hear people talk about "you're a role model for kids," that means so much to me. It doesn't matter what your amass in victories and what you amass in wealth. The most important thing is to be a role model and the only way you can do that is to be proud of playing the game. And I'm very proud of playing the game of golf. It's easy for me to forge what I've forged the last decade.

Q. Question for Greg. The team concept here has not been played up that much in the United States except when there's a Ryder Cup coming up and all of you are such great individual players in an individual sport. Greg, how do you approach this in terms of the excitement of a team concept of making this a personal thing where it's not forgotten three weeks from now? This is a big deal. This is so unique, particularly International, you're from all different countries, unlike the American team, how do you size that up and try to get excited being part of a team?

GREG NORMAN: It's easy to be excited because you're playing with your buddies. Don't forget, the guys like Ernie and myself and Jumbo, we've had to play the International scene our entire lives to get where we are. Yes, the older you get, you have to put your roots down somewhere. We grew up going to Australia, Japan, South Africa - just going around and around for a decade, maybe more. When you do that, you can't believe how much of a camaraderie, how much of a friendship you build up with these guys, because they go through the same thing you're going through. They appreciate how much effort and time and sacrifice it takes to do that. It's great in America. It's easy. You're two hours from any golf tournament anywhere. And you've got great conditions to play under all the time. It's a very user-friendly environment to be in. When you start traveling around the world, that's where we get the spirit. It's already been formed because of that. When we got together and the International Team started to form five years ago, when it was coming to its first fruition, we decided this was going to work for us. We had all been down the same road together. We all wanted to win this team event. So from that standpoint, it's easy, from a team-work point of view. It's going to be difficult for Ernie and myself and Jumbo, because we didn't play in this event two years ago. And all the guys that we've spoken to now know what to expect come Friday, because you're going to be different in nerves. You're going to be different in your approach, for sure, when you play a true alternate shot or foursomes, we haven't done that yet, so I'm sure it's going to take us a little bit of time to get adjusted. It normally takes me two or three holes to get ready to go. If I get nervous, it might take me four or five holes this time. Those are the things that are going to be difficult for us, because the other nine guys have experienced it. We're going to lean on them to watch them; what do you expect; how are you guys going to play this. We're all talking among -- who tees off the odds and who tees off the evens in the foursome. It's a tough decision. You ask the guys what hole did you tee off, I asked Nicky, he teed off the evens, and Robert Allenby tees off the odds. All of this -- come Friday morning, that's why we have Peter here, to help us do that as well. That's the beauty of our team. We really -- you can't believe how tightly knit the team is because of the years and years of experience of traveling the world together.

Q. Where do the strengths lie in the Americans, and where are their weaknesses?

PETER THOMSON: I'm going to answer that. We have a very healthy respect for the U.S. Team and the power and the might of their game. And we certainly don't underestimate them in any way at all. We're a little scared of their skills and their talents and we know that we've got a real handful to win this game. I wouldn't like to cast any aspersion that there's a weakness of any kind there. In fact, I don't believe there is. I think they're 12 very nearly perfect players and they match the team that I captain here, too. We've got 36 players, and there's not much between any two of them. But I stress that we don't believe there is a weakness here. We know we're up against something very formidable.

Q. Will it be a setback for the International cause for an International Tour, if the International Team were to lose?

GREG NORMAN: Not at all. To go back to what Ernie says, no matter who wins here, they're going to have to work extremely hard to have won. Because you do have that -- Peter said 36. There's 24 players here, pretty high class professional golfers. And we're all out there with that extra edge this week. So whoever wins has had to play dam good golf to win. If we lose, I don't think that will hurt the cause at all, it will probably fire it up. Remember what happened at the Ryder Cup. Europe didn't win for a while and then all of a sudden -- I mean, America was winning for a long time and all of a sudden Europe wins, and then Europe wins again. What did it do to the Ryder Cup? You remember Kiowa Island, it took it to the next level of International competition. It created something great for you guys. Every two years -- I guess you guys were salivating waiting for the Ryder Cup because it was a great story. And that's the same thing that will happen with the International and the Presidents Cup. We win, we lose, it's still going to be a great story, because we're going to win this event, no two ways about it. We'll win, whether it's this year or whether it's next time. So the spirit in which we're going to play under is going to dictate how the tournament and its strength is going to go on for years to come.

Q. Do either of you have any team experience in any sport, golf or previous experience in any other sports?

GREG NORMAN: All three of us do. Jumbo is a great baseball player. He can answer that question.

Q. Do you think tapping into that will help you this week?

JUMBO OZAKI: I was a professional baseball pitcher in Japan before becoming a professional golfer.

WES SEELEY: Will that team experience help him in this tournament?

JUMBO OZAKI: Yes, because I'm friends with everybody. It will be no problem, the team aspect.

GREG NORMAN: The Australians kick the shit out of the South Africans, whenever we play anything. We have the team there already.

Q. Did the events of this past summer help bring this team closer together?

ERNIE ELS: The events?

Q. The mutiny. The captain's controversy.


End of FastScripts....

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