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December 15, 2019
THE MODERATOR: Like to welcome the victorious United States Team to the 2019 Presidents Cup.
To get us started before questions, I'd like to turn it to Captain Woods to comment on the play of your team today.
TIGER WOODS: Well, the whole team played extremely well today on a very difficult golf course against a very formidable International Team. They were up 8-10, and the guys went in and got it done. We were up early in a lot of matches and it came down to the very end. We knew that was going to happen. We had some really strong guys at the end. Actually, strong guys from 1 through 12.
We were excited about going into this session. I know we lost the two-team sessions after the four-team sessions, but we were excited about our chances going into singles and we did it as a team.
Q. For any of the players, and hopefully at least two of you, how inspired were you to win the Cup because your amount was Tiger Woods?
GARY WOODLAND: I didn't hear the question.
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: What was the question?
Q. At least one of you?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: We didn't hear the question.
Q. How inspired were you to win the Cup because your captain was him?
XANDER SCHAUFFELE: I mean, I think that's an interesting question. Obviously we were all fired up -- thank you, Gary -- hazing right now, I'm getting shorter by the second (laughter).
It was, for me, personally, a dream to play on this team, since I was a kid. I think I'm speaking for more than just myself. At no point did we feel -- we were obviously down, but not in spirit, TW, we had our meetings every night. He told us to keep our heads down and keep fighting.
MATT KUCHAR: It was pretty awesome to play for the greatest player ever. To have a chance to make a team captained by the greatest player ever that is also a player on the team. I can't tell you how unique, how cool of a thing that is, to not only play for him, but alongside of him.
And so for us, you know, to be in a hole, to come back and win this thing was such a thrill. One, to win it as a team, but to do it with Tiger Woods as our captain was just a huge thrill.
Q. If you can go 3-0 in this, does it suggest that moving forward you to stick to you're not quite ready to be a captain only?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that my responsibility as a captain was to put together the team and to put together -- to bring these guys together as a team, and we did that.
Now my responsibility as a player is whenever the captain said to go out and play, go earn a point. This week, as the captain and a player, it was a juggling act, but the guys understood that. We knew that and we communicate that had going in. There were a lot of different plans that could happen and I trusted all of them, from all the 11 players with Stricks and Coups and Zach as our vices; it was trust in each other and that's what ultimately won us the Cup.
Q. You ended up getting the winning point or half-point. You were 3-down early. Can you talk about your feelings as the match went on and the feeling of making that 5-footer that was the decider?
MATT KUCHAR: It was interesting, this morning, I had a hard time getting going, and not just on the golf course but before. Was just exhausted from yesterday, going a full 36, a full 18 for a half-point in the morning, a full 18 for a half-point in the afternoon, and just the energy that that took trying to get things going this morning was a bit of a challenge.
You get out here and the buzz and energy gets you going. I got off to somewhat of a slow start, but I know Tiger thought about the picks, and it was an honor for Rick and I to be brining up the rear; to go: Hey, we trust you guys to finish this out if it needs to be finished out.
And I dug myself a hole early, 3-down early. I've played enough match play, played enough golf, that if you keep plugging along, I knew some good things was happening and was playing good enough. To have a chance there on 17, knowing exactly what that scenario was, if I make that birdie there, that gives me a 1-up leave, and for sure a clinching half-point.
To make that putt and to have everybody there on 17, I don't know make explain the emotions, but I just was leaping out of my skin with joy. To do that was such a thrill and something I'm hugely proud of.
Q. You've done your fair share of winning over the years. I'm wondering how the emotions from this are different being the captain and the leader of this group?
TIGER WOODS: Well, it's the same feeling. Only difference -- it is the same feeling. We won and we did it together. I've been a part of teams before where we have won. Also been a part of, unfortunately, this Presidents Cup when we lost 21 years ago, and so to come here and to do it in this fashion, to do it with this team, in particular, it was an honor for me as a player and even more of an honor to be their captain.
Q. Question specifically about Royal Melbourne. I'd like to hear from any of the players who got some thoughts about the course. You've been coming here for more than 20 years as you said. How has the way you guys played the course changed over that time? Are there lessons for golf to learn or things we need to think about given the relationship between equipment, players and courses?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I've enjoyed playing here. This has been over 20 years that I've been coming to Royal Melbourne and be able to play it. I've played a different composite setup, but I just have enjoyed the way that it's been played.
This is the ultimate in golf. It is like an Open Championship with Augusta greens; it's difficult. It's the way golf should be played: On the ground, or up in the air if you need to. It's tricky. As I said earlier this week, you don't have to have 240-yard par 3s for it to be very difficult. That third hole and fifth hole in, particular, is all you want in two golf holes.
On 5, I've hit between a full wedge and a full 6-iron. So it's a lot of fun to be able to play.
Q. Steve, as assistant captain this week, is there anything you saw in terms of pairings or organization or anything like that that you feel you can take forward and learn from for Whistling Straits?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, you're learning all the time when you're around these guys. You know, some of the pairings we had this year, I took a lot of notes, talked to a lot of the guys.
But yeah, every time you're a part of the team and a part of a great team like we had here and an unbelievable captain, you learn. Hopefully I can use some of it next year.
Q. Just interested in your thoughts after the draw when you walked out of here last night, because it seemed that Ernie placed a lot of faith in his veteran guys later in the day, and at least on paper, looked like you could get a really quick start to the singles today. And the second part to that question is, what did Tony's comeback mean and how did it energize the other guys on the course?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I had faith in all the 11 other players. We love the lineup. We love how we set it up going into the singles. We felt like we were all playing well at the same time unfortunately some of the matches in the team format ended up flipping on us because of a couple key putts here and there, but that's the way it goes. We all knew that we were all playing well on this golf course; in particular, with this lineup, we felt like we were going to get it done and we did it.
Q. How would you assess your performance as a leader and what did you learn from the experience?
TIGER WOODS: Well, as the captain, I could not, as I said earlier in the week, I could not have done this without Stricks and Coups and Zach. I wouldn't have accepted the captaincy if these guys wouldn't have been a part of this.
We all go way back together, and I have the ultimate in trust and faith, and I love those three guys. We conversed a lot about what this experience was going to be, and hopefully we could create an atmosphere where all the 11 other players on the team would have just an amazing experience. Ultimately, we would like to have ended up where we did, winning the Cup, and here it is.
But we did it and we did it together. It's just so exciting for me to be a part of this. I've been a part of three -- as a player, three captaincies under Coups, and a vice captain under Stricks, and Zach will be our future leader very soon.
So just to be a part of this with them with, all of the 11 other players, is truly an experience that I will cherish forever.
Q. You've spoken so glowingly about Royal Melbourne over the week. Did you ever think that this is potentially the last time you're going to play here competitively? You probably will say never say never, but did that cross your mind at all?
TIGER WOODS: Not once. Not till you just asked it (smiling).
Q. I know you led the way on course. Are you going to lead the way off the course in the celebrations over the next 24 hours?
TIGER WOODS: Well, as soon as we get the hell out of here, yes. (Laughter).
Q. You talk about seeing red on the board. I wanted to ask you the difference of a lot of red on the board, or seeing what Tony did in his match. And secondly, it's been a long time, I realize, since you've been on property for a Cup, a winning team that wasn't decided until the last hour. The emotions that you showed when it was over, do you think you would have been that way as a player, instead of a captain or playing captain?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I've shown -- I've cried in pretty much every Cup we've won. I've been doing this a long time. Any time you have moments where you're able to do something that is bigger than us as an individual, is so much more meaningful and so much more special.
Just to have, as I was saying earlier out there to the guys, some of them, I looked up on the board only twice today. I had my responsibility going out there and getting my point. I happened to cheat and look up on the board and I saw Tony was 3-down. I said, "I'm not looking again."
Just happened to be in my vision, I think on 15 green, and I think Tony got to all-square, and, "Okay, I'm not looking again, I have my work to do. "
After I made my putt on 16, it was like, what the hell is going on, how are the matches going and how are the guys playing and what hole are they on. I had my responsibility of locking down my point and I was focused on that.
Q. As far as your own game, you've been on a pretty nice little roll here lately, the three events that you've played. Where would you put your game right now, and does it compare to how well you played at the Masters? Is it better? Not quite as good? Can you say how it stacks up?
TIGER WOODS: I hit it well this week. It was good. I was responsible for three points, J.T. and I went and got to and happened to play well and got Abe today. Abe wanted it; he got it (laughter).
Q. You've played on a lot of teams for a lot of captains. Was Tiger unique, and if so, how?
MATT KUCHAR: It was really cool being part of this team and having Tiger as captain in that you get Tiger to speak up a little more. I think a lot of our teams as a player, you let the captain captain and the players play, and to get Tiger to speak up, I mean, we had a room full of some of the greatest golfers in the world, and when he speaks, we all listen. It was awesome to be a part of.
I think all of us will look back and have these pictures hanging on our walls and say, we played for and alongside Tiger Woods, the greatest player ever. It was awesome. And to have him take that role, take that mantle as captain, was great fun to be part of.
Q. In your early interview with Steve Sands, you appeared to show a lot of raw emotion. How deep does this go from a personal achievement point of view?
TIGER WOODS: As Doug was asking, I've been part of teams before, but this is -- each individual team is unique and it's different. It has its own organic feel to it, and these guys, we've all bonded together. We did it together. We were coming down, I mean, I think J.T. said it out there, was it 26 hours and change -- 26 hours and change coming down here; it was a commitment to do this.
We came out here, trying to get over the jet-lag, trying to figure this out, trying to figure this golf course out, trying to get a feel for the pairings and how we're going to do this, and we're in it together, and all of a sudden Kuch makes that putt and it's finally rover.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, he did. (High-fiving Webb).
Q. Were you aware that Abe answer had made some comments that he wanted --
TIGER WOODS: Yes.
Q. -- to play you? (Laughter). Okay. It's clear now.
TIGER WOODS: Next.
Q. Can you describe your level of interest in being captain again in 2021 and also potentially 2022 for The Ryder Cup?
TIGER WOODS: We are going to have those conversations in the future, but not right now. We are going to enjoy this one moment.
Q. It's been an emotional sort of week for you. I'm just wondering how proud you are of the way you played today, and also what sort of memories you'll take home of Australia and Melbourne and the galleries?
PATRICK REED: First off, today was a new day. I knew coming out today that I had to go out and play golf, especially going out early. Had to go out and get red on the board and earn my point and try to keep momentum on our side and get the guys going.
I was pleased, obviously, with how I played today and I mean, the golf course and Melbourne has been unbelievable. The golf course is unbelievable. It's a true test. If you hit the ball well, you're going to be rewarded by it, but if you mis-hit a shot here or there, you're going to really get penalized.
Q. On that same topic, can you talk about Patrick's ability to respond in such incredible fashion today. Had you spoken to him before he went out in singles?
TIGER WOODS: Yes, absolutely, we talked about it. Patrick was responsible for his point. Just go out there and focus on what you need to do to get your point, just like the 11 other players. We had our responsibility to get our point. We were going to be all over the golf course. I was through 11 or 12 holes when guys were teeing off. It was going to be spread out.
Stricks had the captaincy, and it was one of the great moments, I think ever, is when Stricks was on 14 and the last group just went through and he says, "I don't want to be captain anymore." (Laughter) That was one of the great moments, and to hear that in my earpiece was definitely a moment I'll never forget.
Q. You may be the most qualified to answer this since you were his teammate on the golf course. Who had the better week: Tiger Woods the player or Tiger Woods the captain?
JUSTIN THOMAS: That sounds like a question that's trying to get me in trouble somehow (laughter).
Q. I promise, no.
JUSTIN THOMAS: He is playing -- obviously played a lot of golf with him. He's playing unbelievably. A course like this is something that it benefits -- most golf courses do benefit him, but as much control as he has of his golf ball and how high he can hit it and different shots, I think he would have been tough to beat. I know I'm glad he was my partner the first two days because I probably would have lost both my matches. So thanks, Cap, for that.
I forget who I said it to earlier, but in terms of a captain, he did great. Actually I was talking to Zach about it, because someone who has done as much as he has and had as much experiences as he had in all these team events, he very easily, I felt could, have tried to take over the team rooms or try to give all this advice and try to do so much, when he was like, look, including himself, we have 12 of the best players in the world. No offence, he just needed to get out of the way and that's what he did.
Once the captains made the teams, he was just like, "Go play hard, boys." Even when we got down, he was like, "They are making more putts than we are. We're going to be fine." Never panicked.
I know I just rambled and didn't answer your question, but there you go (laughter).
Q. You've won a major championship, but you've also now played on your first team. How aspirational for a player that's won a major championship is being part of a team event, and not just The Ryder Cup, but the Presidents Cup, as well, for a guy like you?
GARY WOODLAND: This has been a goal of mine for a long time. I grew up playing team sports, and being an individual sport, I just haven't had that. I've been close for a lot of teams, but finally making this team, it's been an amazing month since I got the call from Captain. We've all been invested. He's unbelievably invested.
But this week was amazing. It was stressful today. I played great today and got steamrolled. I didn't want to lose my first team event. So it was nice that the guys stuck together and played great golf and pulled it out.
But for me, this was an amazing -- obviously I'm used to watching these guys and rooting against Justin Thomas and hoping he misses every putt. This week I'm out there watching golf yesterday and I'm hoping he makes every putt (laughter) so it was a different experience for me. That's what I get.
But it was the first time I've ever really watched golf yesterday, and that was an experience, and even coming down the stretch today, the last couple holes was as stressful and exciting, the emotion, the roller coaster, those guys digging out, Kuch making that putt, watching Xander grind it out, Cantlay grind it out, it was awesome. That's what we came here to do and I look forward to being on many, many, many more.
Q. When you look back on the week, is there anything that you would have done differently?
PATRICK REED: What was the last?
Q. When you look back on the week, was there anything you would have done differently?
PATRICK REED: Yeah, Webb and I would have won our first three points.
WEBB SIMPSON: That's right.
PATRICK REED: We played solid golf the first two days. Unfortunately they played a little better. I think that's the biggest thing is, you know, the thing we would have done differently is obviously gone out and won our points early to help the team out.
But to be able to come in today and for the team to rely on everyone going out and playing well and for Webber and I to go out and to win our points today meant a lot for us. I knew we were playing well. It's just we weren't quite getting it done, and to be able to close them both out today was great.
Q. Fred can I ask you a question? First want to make sure you're awake there.
FRED COUPLES: (Showing peace symbol).
Q. There's points and points, you know from being a captain from a long way back; how important was Xander's point today?
FRED COUPLES: Great question. We knew Tiger would go out and do his deal, and a lot of times, we're in a room on Saturday night and everyone wants to win their point. Pretty much you're not going to go 12-0, so you look around you, and try and figure out how we were going to do this.
We threw Patrick Reed out there and he was 6-up, and I think anyone looking at that kind of got very excited. I know Dustin Johnson got 4-up. Xander then going to play Australia's, one of their top players in the last 20 years, Adam Scott; but we have a lot of faith in our guys, and we put Xander and Patrick as a team the whole week because it just solidified other things we could.
And they played near each other today. They both won. But Xander, to beat Adam Scott, on really a course that he plays very well, was really a huge point.
Q. This is a question for any of the players who want to answer it. When you were trying to dig yourself out of the hole, did you ever have an explicit conversation about look at what your captain has dug himself out of the last couple years from thinking his career was over to what he's done, or could you just take some kind of internal inspiration or motivation from just looking at him and seeing what he's doing this week and this year?
TONY FINAU: I'll chime in on this. I was 4-down today, and I thought to myself, I didn't have a lot of my best stuff and I thought Hideki played a great round of golf. I was 4-down with eight to go and I basically told myself, you know, if I -- I can't give up on my teammates, my guys, my captain. Tiger, the story of his resilience, coming back from what he has with injuries and everything that he's been through, I think each of us, we just believe in each other because, you know, we know we could do what we did today, and we really believed that we could win the Cup.
We were kind of against the odds, but you know, I couldn't give up on my teammates and my captains and I know everybody on this team felt the same way. But we are very inspired to play for Tiger with Tiger and it's so satisfying to win this Cup because of that. I think we all believe in each other and we were able to get the job done for our captain and playing captain.
Q. Tiger Woods, overcome with emotion once Kuch got final point. How did it feel to sit there and watch him and see the comeback complete?
FRED COUPLES: Well, we're basically both crybabies, so we really enjoyed it (laughter). It's hard for me; I just love team events.
So when Tiger asked me to be captain, it was like all the players, it's an honor. But it's pretty edgy. And he kept saying to me, "How did you do this, how did you do this?"
I said, "You've got to keep watching and the points are going to come, and you're just got to believe in every one." The hug he gave everybody is so heartfelt. He's a good man, and it's fun to be on his team, it really is.
STEVE STRICKER: Me, too? Yeah, I love seeing other people cry (laughter) especially Tiger Woods.
Freddie said it the best. It means a lot. It means a lot for all of us to be here and to be a part of this, it really does. I'd love to take all 12 of them, all 15 of them, however many we had here, right into next year. It's a good start, and everybody's smiling, so yeah, it was a great week. We enjoyed it. We love being with each other. Tiger did an unbelievable job, and it was a privilege and we'll all keep this on the forefront of our minds forever.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, all, for your time and congratulations to the United States.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports