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THE PRESIDENTS CUP MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 8, 2015
LAURA NEAL: I'd like to welcome all the media joining us in the United States and around the world for this special announcement launching The Presidents Cup 2015.
No introduction needed, but I'm joined by Captain Nick Price of the International Team. Nick, I know you've been waiting for this moment for two years now. And we are finally here. Let's start by your top ten that were solidified yesterday. Just maybe give us an overview of how you think those guys came together to start your top ten.
NICK PRICE: Well, I think if you look right at the top from Jason Day, what a fantastic year he's had, along with Louis. I think their performance in the major championships this year has been phenomenal.
I think Jason's performance in the majors has been sort of overshadowed by what Jordan Spieth has done, but to me he's definitely one of the top three players in the world right now, and deservedly so. Louis has had a couple of tough breaks, but I think he's played awfully well.
And then, you know, look at Adam Scott. Adam has had a solid here. He's had a showing in a lot of the majors this year; as well as Hideki Matsuyama who I think has played exceptionally well all year and very consistently.
So the top half of the team is looking really good. Branden Grace, who I think is a No. 5 on my list, also had a wonderful year. Unlucky at the U.S. Open championship but he hit a loose tee shot on the 16th or 17th hole of the championship, which cost him the championship. But he's certainly coming into the prime I think of his golfing career right now.
And then we've got Thongchai Jaidee and Anirban Lahiri who for the first time is on the team, they are rookies. It's great. I'm so happy Anirban made the team. I spoke to him last year in Fiji when we played in an event together, and he was very excited about the prospect of playing. I know we are going to have a lot of fans in India supporting him.
And then Charl Schwartzel I think is next on my list. He has not had the best year. He started off the year pretty strong, but he's had some good finishes and he's just a very, very solid player and he's always an asset to any team.
And then Thongchai Jaidee, what can you say, he's a fighter. He's probably going to be, along with Adam, the veteran of the team, even though he has not played in a Presidents Cup yet. The guy, he's got a huge heart and I think he's also going to be a wonderful addition.
And then Danny Lee who has had a phenomenal summer. I think he's played exceptional golf and really deserves a spot on the team. I think had he slipped out of the top ten yesterday for some reason, I probably would have picked him because of the way he's played this summer. And I go back, again, to say that I'm trying to get guys who are in form, guys who have played well through the summer or of late.
We're only 3 1/2 weeks away from starting now or four weeks away, so I think it's a key period to watch the guys who are playing well, and I would really love if we could have a couple more weeks to go through the Playoffs before we made our picks. But we have to make them today.
LAURA NEAL: Like a true captain, you rattled off all ten names off the top of your head, so good for that. We do have two more to add. We have them on the line, but let's get to some housekeeping prior to that.
Some of the format changes that were announced recently for The Presidents Cup 2015 allow the host team captain, which is you, to decide what format we are going to decide The Presidents Cup with. So what did you decide for day one on Thursday?
NICK PRICE: Well, obviously we have two options. We have the fourball, which is the better ball event, and then we have the foursomes which is alternate‑shot and we have decided to go for the foursomes for the first day on Thursday.
LAURA NEAL: Any reason you want to share?
NICK PRICE: Well, when I look at the results over the last few years or last few Presidents Cups, I think we have played better in foursomes than we have in fourball. And we've got some good teams that we had at the last Presidents Cup, so whether we use those guys or not, I don't know. But there are some guys who I think are going to be automatics for the team.
LAURA NEAL: Well, we have two very anxious people on the phone with us. With no further ado, let's start with your first captain's pick and we'll get his reaction.
NICK PRICE: This has been a difficult job to say the least. The options that we had open to us as my co‑captains and I, we basically whittled it down to about six guys over the last week or so, and of course yesterday, there could have been some changes, some shuffling among the sort of Top 10, 11, 12. This morning we whittled it down to three and at lunch time we whittled it down to two.
My first pick is a young man from Australia who I think has played exceptionally well this summer. He won the Byron Nelson in May, and he's shown consistency and I think he's just hitting his stride as a player, Steven Bowditch from Australia is my first pick. I'm very excited to have him on our team.
The second pick was a little tougher. As I say, it came down to two‑‑ there were three guys, and the second pick was down to two, down to Matt Jones and Sangmoon Bae.
I chose Sangmoon Bae because he has played pretty well the last couple of weeks, three, four weeks, but also, because he's won on the golf course, Songdo, the Jack Nicklaus golf course the last couple of years on the Korean tour, and he loves the golf course.
So he is my second pick. And also I think very important for us to have someone on the team that the Korean fans and media could pull for. But it was a difficult decision, and I think he's also going to be a credit to our team.
LAURA NEAL: If we could get some reaction from the newest members of the International Team, let's start with Steven Bowditch.
STEVEN BOWDITCH: It's been a very interesting 24 hours to say the least. Yeah, I'm very humbled and honored do be able to be chosen by Captain Nick, and it's just been a dream, a dream of mine for a long time, and now to be led by Jason Day and all his accomplishments of late, I'm just over the moon and so excited to get there.
LAURA NEAL: Congratulations. Sangmoon, could we get your reaction on being named to Nick's team?
SANGMOON BAE: This is Sangmoon, hi.
LAURA NEAL: What are your thoughts on being part of the International Team in Korea?
SANGMOON BAE: Actually I'm really happy now I can play The Presidents Cup this year. I would like to say thanks to Mr.Price for selecting me to represent the International Team, and I would like also to thank all the staff who is organizing The Presidents Cup.
I'm really honored to play, and I think we have a lot of chance to win this tournament.
LAURA NEAL: Congratulations.
Q. Sangmoon, we know you've been through a lot this season with stuff happening off the golf course, but The Presidents Cup captain's pick today, what does it mean for your career at this stage, and how do you think the reception will be for you when you tee it up on that Thursday morning of The Presidents Cup in front of your home fans?
SANGMOON BAE: To be honest, I have a little tough situation right now. I think this shouldn't be a problem and just I want to try focus on my game and on The Presidents Cup in Korea. That is my home country and really excited to play and I will do my best. It will be a really great team. I'm really happy to play now.
Q. I have a question for both Sangmoon and Captain Price. Obviously with Sangmoon, his military service situation, has that cleared up? Do you know if Sangmoon will be able to actually play at The Presidents Cup?
NICK PRICE: As far as I understand, they will speak to the government, but I'm pretty sure he'll be cleared to play.
LAURA NEAL: Sangmoon, have you been given any indication on your status for playing?
SANGMOON BAE: Actually nothing changing right now, and I want say, it shouldn't be a problem. Because I already talked to all the Korean media, I've got go ‑‑ I will go to military service in this year after The Presidents Cup, actually after this season. But Nick Price just pick me up and I've got to play Presidents Cup, and I will do military service after that. So yeah, I think it shouldn't be a problem.
Q. Obviously had a chance to lock it up at Deutsche Bank but missed the cut. Can you talk about the feeling after missing that cut at TPC Boston and contrast that with the feeling you had when you received the phone call from Captain Price?
STEVEN BOWDITCH: Yeah, obviously I had a fair idea of what I needed to do to get on Nick's team, and unfortunately, I just didn't play well enough.
You know, I wasn't real sure‑‑ put it this way: I wasn't as confident these last 24 hours as what I was the previous four or five days leading into last week. It was a pretty nervous feeling.
I guess I've always wondered what the feeling was with the guys in the draft, waiting for the draft pick and I guess now I know. It's an unsettling feeling when you've got no control.
Q. I think my question was pretty much answered, but what is your criteria when choosing two players for captain's pick?
NICK PRICE: Could you repeat? I didn't catch the second half of your question.
Q. What is your main standard or criteria for choosing two players for a captain's pick?
NICK PRICE: Well, I think just to see their play during the summer this year. And also to take into consideration what's happened with Sangmoon this year, I think he's had a really tough time with his military service has been a cause for concern and it hasn't allowed him to play his best.
But I think once he's made the decision, he's played a lot better. The big thing for him was‑‑ the big plus that he had had was that he won twice on the Jack Nicklaus golf course that we are going to play The Presidents Cup on in the last two years, so he obviously feels very comfortable on the golf course.
Steven Bowditch had won at the Byron Nelson in May. I think it was a pretty convincing win. I watched him play the last nine holes on TV. I think he's played consistently well. He fits the mold I think for us as a player that will be able to play with anyone on the team, so he will be very versatile in that. He's a wonderful ball‑striker and I think he's just hitting his stride as a professional right now.
Q. Is there a backup plan in case the government does say no?
NICK PRICE: Well, yes, I would say there is one. But I've been assured by some of the people who we spoke to in Korea that it should be all right; that Moon will be allowed to play.
Q. Could you just talk to, as you said, you've been wanting this for a long time and you've got it now. What do you think you're going to bring to the team specifically, and how can you make the Americans lose for once in this event?
STEVEN BOWDITCH: You know, I'm not sure, I grew up playing a lot of match play, as we do in Australia, a lot of state and inter‑state match play, and I always thought that short game was an integral part of being a really good match player. You can completely change the circumstances and the pressure just by hitting a good bunker shot or a good chip when the opposition feels like they are ahead.
I sort of feel like I have that, and you know, I guess it's one of my strengths and hopefully I can bring that to the table. As Nick said, we don't get to play team sport much. And if I can go out there and just help anyone, whether it be a cheering squad or being with any of the other guys, I feel like I'll be able to play and adapt to the way they play golf.
Q. You obviously grew up with the same scenario with beating the Americans with everything or even the tall poppy syndrome is there. Do you have the fire in your belly to finally get this thing done?
STEVEN BOWDITCH: Yeah, I guess. It's the way we have growing up, you're right, in Australia. The International Team, we haven't been able to hold the Cup up since '98, so based on form and the other 11 guys that have been picked, there's plenty of talent.
You know, I've definitely got high hopes of being able to be alongside all the guys and Captain Nick and holding up that trophy for the first time in October.
Q. What's your history been like in terms of watching Presidents Cup or Ryder Cup, and what do you see in those events that have made you so excited to be part of this team, and when did it first become a thought on your mind that you wanted to get on a Presidents Cup team?
STEVEN BOWDITCH: (Disconnected.)
LAURA NEAL: Like to thank the media and Nick, congratulations on a great team that you've put together.
CHRIS REIMER: I'm Chris Reimer, Director of Communications for the PGA TOUR. First off, congratulations to Captain Price for what looks to be a stellar International Team and a true example of how golf is expanding around the globe.
We are thrilled to be joined by United States Team Captain Jay Haas. Before we got to your picks, just your initial thoughts on the ten players who qualified yesterday.
JAY HAAS: Well, first of all, Chris, I'm thrilled to be here and thrilled to be representing the U.S. as their captain. It's a dream come true. It's been a wonderful couple years here. Jan and I have just had a blast preparing for this and it's finally just around the corner.
Also want to congratulate Steven and Sangmoon for their selections. I think Nick made great choices there and they will be a formidable team without question.
I'm thrilled to death with our team. I think we have a great blend of youth, experience. You look down the list, we have 15 wins this year on the PGA TOUR, among the Top‑10 players starting with Jordan with four wins, two majors, threatened to win two more, set records throughout the whole year. What a fantastic year for Jordan. And even at a young age, I look for him to be a tremendous leader on the team in Seoul.
Bubba has obviously played extremely well for quite a long time now, and at any time capable of dominating a golf course. So I think Bubba will be a strong player in South Korea for us, and he seems very excited to be on the team and to get over there and compete.
Jimmy Walker is a guy who has been just steadily getting better and better, and he just shows up on leaderboard after leaderboard. He's got a couple victories this year. I look for big things out of Jimmy. He's one of my guys that I just love being around him. Again, really look for great things out of him. He showed that in The Ryder Cup last year, and I think he'll do more of the same this year in Seoul.
Zach, winning the British Open, what a great win for him. Just a tremendous competitor. When you look across and see Zach on your team, you have good feelings that he's on our side, and the guys that he's playing know that their work is cut out for them. He's a veteran of quite a few teams, so looking for him to be a real leader on and off the golf course, and excited that he's on our squad.
Jim Furyk has just been a constant this year throughout the year; Top‑10s, a win at The Heritage at Hilton Head, proud of him for doing that. Can't say enough about how Jim has been, to me, throughout the course of the year, staying‑‑ having my back so to speak. We've texted and talked quite often and he's a champ. We played in Fancourt quite a few years ago and I'll never forget playing with him, and we always addressed each other as "Partner." It's always fun to be representing the U.S. with him on the side.
I believe Rickie Fowler just jumped a few spots and got into the six‑spot here yesterday with his great win up in Boston, and coupled with the victory at THE PLAYERS Championship, he's risen to the occasion many times this year and just has shown, also, in past Ryder Cups how clutch he can be. I'm expecting a lot of that in Seoul, as well. I think he's somebody who can play with a lot of different players, like a lot of the guys on our team. I think we have a lot of interchangeable parts, so I feel good about that.
Next, Dustin Johnson, also a little bit like Bubba in regards can kind of dismantle a golf course at any time. He was so close to winning the U.S. Open this year. He's been a guy who can shoot 65 or 66 or 64, 63 at any time during the tournament, so looking forward to Dustin showing some of that dominance when we get over to Seoul.
Patrick Reed, another solid year for Patrick, a victory, and somebody who showed last year at The Ryder Cup what he's made of. I think the guys rallied around him quite a bit, and I'm happy that he's on the team. He will be a solid performer for us, and somebody that will be tough to contend with for the other side.
Matt Kuchar, somebody who didn't win this year but is a Top‑10 machine. He is a veteran of quite a few different teams, and I think Matt is a little bit sneaky in the fact that he's quite a character off the golf course and keeps everybody loose. So we are hoping for seeing more of that in the team room when we do get over to South Korea.
And then Chris Kirk, I'm so happy for Chris making the team. He broke his hand eight weeks ago, ten weeks ago now, and he missed eight weeks, and at the time probably was sixth or seventh on the list when he broke his hand. So for him to hang on to be 10th, I know he came awfully close last year to being on The Ryder Cup Team, so I'm extremely happy for Chris to be on this team and what a great gentleman and somebody who is really going to be an asset for us.
CHRIS REIMER: Congratulations on a great ten players that qualified. Now the moment that's been on your mind for quite some time, let's go ahead and get your first captain's pick and we'll get some comments before moving to the second pick and then to the questions that are in queue.
Captain Haas, your first pick for The Presidents Cup 2015?
JAY HAAS: My first pick, I am going with Phil Mickelson. Phil has obviously been a veteran of many, many teams. In fact, Phil has made the past 20 Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup teams without needing a pick. So if anyone deserves a pick, it's Phil Mickelson. He is without question the leader of our team in the team room, on the golf course. I think the guys trust him 100 percent. The guys on the team were adamant that Phil is the guy, and I think between the captains and team members, Phil was an overwhelming choice to be a pick. He is somebody who we all respect and like I said, look up to, and I look for him to be a leader like he has been in the past. Can't wait for Phil to get over there. He's excited, I believe, to join our team.
CHRIS REIMER: Phil, I believe you're on the line. Some comments on being selected?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I am really excited. This means a lot to me. I find that the team events, The Presidents Cup, The Ryder Cup, the team events are where relationships are formed. They are the most special, emotional weeks of the year.
I am so honored to be on this team. My first Ryder Cup was with Jay Haas in 1995. I'm so happy to have an opportunity to play for him.
And to have it come from input from so many players and assisting captains wanting me to be on the team means a lot to me that‑‑ I couldn't put it into words. It's just a very special honor to be on the team.
CHRIS REIMER: Now for your second selection, Captain Haas?
JAY HAAS: My second selection is Bill Haas. Bill finished 11th on the points and he also got tremendous support from the players and the captains. He was very close this year to qualifying outright, and I know a lot of self‑induced pressure trying to make the team as an automatic choice.
But I'll be honest, I would probably have picked the 11th person regardless what their name was. You know, I feel like Bill deserves this as much as anybody. He's had a wonderful year. There are many, many people that we discussed at length up and down between Steve Stricker, Davis Love and Freddie Couples and myself, and quite a few of the players. But to a man, they were all behind Bill and as you can imagine, I'm thrilled to death that he will be joining us in Seoul.
CHRIS REIMER: I believe we have your son, Bill. Some comments about being selected to the team.
BILL HAAS: Yes, I can't tell you how honored I am to be picked. I couldn't sleep last night. Last week was very difficult being No. 11, and the last few weeks, I've really, really wanted to make the team outright. I can't even really explain how I was feeling on the golf course. It was totally different than in the past.
I guess it just showed how much I wanted it. I really, really wanted to be on this team, as I have in the past, but also to be in that team room with my dad as the captain, I don't think it's something that we, especially I, will ever, ever forget. So honored to represent the U.S., my dad, and to be alongside these other teammates.
My dad, when he told me he was going to pick me this morning, he told me that he had a lot of support from other players, from the other assistant captains, and like Phil just said, that means so much to hear your peers have support behind you. So excited, very emotional and this is a wonderful moment for the Haas family.
Q. Maybe talk about the emotions of the last couple weeks and how hard that has been compared to anything else in your career as far as playing in those last few weeks with a pick on your mind?
BILL HAAS: I can't compare it to anything else. I don't know that anyone just with a father/son dynamic has been in that situation. Certainly there's been plenty of players that have been on the border of making a team, and that certainly weighs on your mind.
But just with the FedExCup and just every tournament alone, trying to win these golf tournaments, which are all such big events, and then knowing that I'm so close to making the team and not wanting to have to‑‑ none of us want to have to rely on a pick. We all just want to make the team.
Having those thoughts before the first tee shot was a challenge, and I admittedly, being honest with myself and everyone else, it was definitely a challenge. But it's something that I'm going to have to go back and rely on and hopefully it can fuel me to just get better in the future.
I don't know, I can't even put into words how good this pick feels and earning it. Just to be on those teams and in those team rooms is something that we don't forget. And you make friendships and you get to learn a lot about the other players that we see week‑in and week‑out, but these type of weeks, I think you learn a lot more about the guys in the room than you do in normal locker rooms.
Q. I just wanted to know, first of all, what kind of effect this has had on Jan in the last few months, and also it's been reported that you guys haven't talked about this in the weeks prior. Has it been kind of like the big elephant in the room? Has it been awkward for you two?
JAY HAAS: I'll go ahead and answer that, if you don't mind. I'll just say that we didn't talk a lot about it. I think Bill knew what he needed to do, what he wanted to do. But there was no inside info that he got from me or anything.
I tried to treat him just like any other player. I texted him when he played well. I let him know any information that came out about the event, things like that. But it was‑‑ again, Bill knew what he needed to do. It wasn't like we had to talk about it every time we got together, and I was trying to put less pressure on him, if you will.
And to your first point about Jan, I guess I forget anybody else in the family being nervous about this whole thing, but she's had a hard time I think sleeping. Her stomach's been in knots just like mine has been.
Q. 1994 was your first Presidents Cup and now here you are in 2015. Your role certainly has changed over the course of time. What are you looking forward to most coming in with the experience that you have to be a part of this team?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I'm going to be as helpful in any way possible that Jay and his assistant captains want me to do, first and foremost is through good play. I'm going to be working on my game these next few weeks. I'll be in Chicago to work on it there. That's the best way I can contribute is through good play.
And then anything that I can do inside the team room, off the golf course, to help bring out the best play in the other guys, I'm in. I'll do whatever I can, whatever Jay and the guys feel is best. If there's anything that I can do, I want to do it. I've had so much fun being part of this team, being part of the past Presidents Cups and representing the United States is such a great honor, that we want to do all we can to be successful in Korea.
Q. You've played a lot of practice rounds with Rickie and Dustin and you've seen Jordan rise to the next level where he is. Talk about this next generation of golfers, these 20‑somethings that have come up and performed so well that will be your teammates.
PHIL MICKELSON: I think the greatest thing about the game of golf right now, the position that it's in, is that we have so many great young players who are quality individuals, as well; who represent the sport well; who represent themselves and all of the game of golf so strongly.
And we have a couple‑‑ well, we have a team full of players like that. And when you look at the young guys that have won majors this year, like Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler winning a PLAYERS Championship; certainly on the other side, Jason Day who is such a strong player, such quality guys; Zach Johnson winning the British Open, has always been just a great guy, but he's not quite as young as the other players are.
But we have such great young players winning big tournaments, winning major championships and really just handling themselves in such a professional manner that the game of golf is in great hands.
Q. Just curious, I realize it's a different competition, but there are a lot of the same personalities in The Ryder Cup and The Presidents Cup, and with the new direction that you're trying to go with The Ryder Cup, I'm wondering if you feel that your role in that has anything to do with this pick, whether it's some continuity towards the next year, being with the same guys from year‑to‑year, what‑have‑you.
PHIL MICKELSON: I know that Jay has gotten every player involved and has talked to the vice captains quite a bit; and the fact that the support came from the players and the vice captains means a lot to me. And just as I am in everything I do, I'm very competitive and want us to do well, want us to win, want us to be the best we can be.
I want to help out in any way I can, and I'm so happy that the players and the captains wanted me to be a part of this, because I love it and I think it's an important thing for our future in both Presidents Cup and The Ryder Cup, and if it had something to do with it, I'm even more flattered.
Q. Chris had mentioned that this was your 21st consecutive appearance, either in a Presidents Cup or a Ryder Cup, and I'm just wondering, how much did you think about that during the summer, that legacy you've built beyond a solo year but as a member of the U.S. team; and were you nervous at all as today came, and wondering where you stood with everything?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yes, I was extremely nervous, because there were so many good players to choose from that could bring a lot to the team and could add to the team experience.
To be honest the team has meant so much to me, and as I look back on my career, it's one of my greatest accomplishments is being so consistent over the course of two decades. And I want to continue that.
I realized how much I want to be a part of these teams; how much I want to continue to be a top player, and I'm going to work and do whatever I can to continue that into next year, too.
CHRIS REIMER: Captain Haas, I know you've made a trip or two over to Korea. What do you see as far as the golf course is concerned and what will it mean to have an event of this stature in South Korea?
JAY HAAS: Being a part of the first event like this in Asia is very special. The people over there have been so supportive of it. President Park has been very supportive and we certainly appreciate that.
The golf course itself is a Jack Nicklaus‑designed golf course, so there's no surprises there. I think the guys will feel comfortable in that regard.
I think it's just going to be an outstanding week. The people over there, the fans, are excited about coming there and watching 24 of the best players in the world compete in some good, spirited competition. Can't tell you how excited I am to be going to Seoul and experience South Korea as a whole.
CHRIS REIMER: Congratulations and we look forward to seeing you over in South Korea.
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