Transcript: Presidents Cup captains named for 2015
June 04, 2014
- Commissioner Tim Finchem: "We're going to have a great Cup on a phenomenal venue." (Chris Condon/PGA TOUR)
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, and welcome. I'm Gary Williams from Golf Channel's Morning Drive. Very pleased to be here for this special Presidents Cup announcement. As you can see up here on the stage, the Commissioner of the PGA Tour, Mr. Tim Finchem, and he is going to be joined in a little bit by a couple of very special guests, but none more special than the two men that he is flanked by who have meant so much to the Presidents Cup since its inception starting with Mr. Jack Nicklaus, four times a Presidents Cup captain, not to mention his host site, Muirfield Village hosting the 2013 Presidents Cup, and of course also one of his designs will host in 2015 in Korea. Meanwhile, Mr. Gary Player, three times an international Presidents Cup captain himself, and both of these men embody everything that this event intends to be with respect to competition and fellowship being at the forefront.
With that, I'm going to turn it over to the Commissioner of the PGA TOUR, Mr. Tim Finchem.
TIM FINCHEM: Thank you, Gary. Let me just start by welcoming The Golf Channel and all the media here to Big Cedar Lodge and the Big Cedar Lodge Legends of Golf tournament. This is an exciting week for all of us focused on the Champions Tour. I'd certainly like to thank our host, Johnny Morris, for his agreement to have us here and to partner with us on the presentation of the event this week. He and his staff have done a marvelous job.
You may recall we were in this room just about 90 days ago announcing that this was going to happen, and the work that's been done here to prepare for it is terrific.
We look forward to this week. Our players look forward to it, and I'll just comment briefly, this is a unique format that we'll finish on a par 3 designed by Jack, and it's designed to perpetuate the longest running event on the Champions Tour, which is The Legends of Golf, but also to use par 3 golf to tell the story of why par 3 golf fits in the golf landscape, why it's an attractive model for communities and businesses to look to to be able to build golf facilities that take up less room and can be built at a lower cost, and there are thousands of them around the United States, and we want to encourage our fans to get out there and use these facilities in the communities where they already exist.
But for right now, we want to talk about the Presidents Cup. Today is a special point in time with the Presidents Cup. I'd like to start by thanking our global sponsors Citi and Rolex that have been partnered with us on the Presidents Cup for a long time.
I'd like to make just a couple of comments about the growth of the Presidents Cup. It's young, it's only 20 years old, which in golf is young, but it already has a rich history in terms of the competition and most notably sportsmanship.
Gary commented on the historical roles of these two gentlemen in terms of their captaincies, in terms of Jack hosting the Presidents Cup, but in addition to that, these two men came together to create and execute probably what most people would agree is the most defining moment in the history of the Presidents Cup, a moment that when I say defining, meaning defines it as a competition that was designed to promote sportsmanship. They came together in 2003, went head to head, and after four holes of a playoff decided that their teams would share the Cup.
It was a great moment for sportsmanship, and again, it helped position the Presidents Cup to carry that message forward in sports generally, not just golf.
I want to thank both of them for their contributions over the years in helping make the Presidents Cup what it is today.
These two men have, in addition to their work with the Presidents Cup, helped set the model for what we like to see younger players coming up do in terms of handling themselves, the way they have conducted themselves over their careers has led to the following generation following in their footsteps, which means good things for PGA TOUR golf.
With that said, I'd like for each of these gentlemen if they would to make a couple of comments. The Presidents Cup has been blessed by terrific captains over the years, on the international side David Graham, Peter Thomson, Gary Player, Greg Norman and Nick Price, and on the American side Hale Irwin, Arnold Palmer, Ken Venturi, Jack, of course, and Fred Couples.
Gary if we could start with you, as a three time captain, I'll ask you to take a minute and ask you to share your thoughts about what you think about the Presidents Cup at this point in time.
GARY PLAYER: Thank you very much for the introduction, Tim. I'll just reciprocate and say thank you for the nice things you said about Jack and I. We appreciate that very much indeed. We have great respect for golf. We love golf. We've been extremely international, which is what we all stand for, and you have done a great job for the tournament players, so we appreciate that very much.
Also, I played on Jack's nine holes yesterday and the golf course here today; I have never been at a more beautiful place on the TOUR or anywhere. All the architecture speaks well for itself.
The Presidents Cup, I'm delighted to see it's going to Korea. They've produced so many wonderful golfers, both men and women, so that's been a great choice, and also this is the international tournament. It's the granddad of international tournaments because it's played in a different place every year, and we're trying to get used to playing the game of golf, because the youth of a nation are the trustees of posterity.
Having captained with Jack was one of the great times of my life. Jack I've always said is the greatest gentleman I've ever played with. Nicky Price, who captained last year, I'd have to put him right there with him. He's fantastic, and I know I'm not allowed to name the captain and vice captain this year, but I can tell you they are a great couple and they'll do a great job.
And also I must endorse what you said about Rolex. We're going to be playing the Ryder Cup and the Open, and Rolex is really one of our best sponsors, aren't they.
All in all, a very exciting thing for Jack and I to watch the results of the Presidents Cup. We haven't fared as well as we should. We should have done a lot better because our players really are as good as the American players and we should have done better, and maybe Jack was a better captain.
JACK NICKLAUS: Thank you very much.
TIM FINCHEM: Jack, we mentioned in addition to captaining four times you hosted the Presidents Cup, and I think we talked about that a little bit at the Memorial celebration we had at your tournament last week, by recognizing that it was the biggest and best Presidents Cup we've had when it was held at Muirfield Village last fall, so you've seen it from all sides, both captaining and presenting it as a competition. What are your thoughts at this point in time?
JACK NICKLAUS: Well, my first thought was that I go back to '98, which is the first time that I captained, and Peter Thomson was the captain. We went to Australia, Royal Melbourne, and we had it handed to us. At that time the Presidents Cup was played down there late November, and our players really weren't ready to play. When they finished the matches, they came to me and said, captain, we owe you one, and I'm sitting there saying, you know, that's pretty good. These guys, even though they weren't ready, they really wanted to play but they just didn't get it together.
So I was worried about the Presidents Cup and the Ryder Cup being one right after the other, one year one, the other year the next. I was afraid the guys would have gotten tired of it and they wouldn't prepare.
Actually it worked the other way around. The players got so excited about wanting to play, and when I had a meeting to go to South Africa, which was going to be 2003, I had a meeting at Muirfield Village and I said, okay, guys, if you want to play, fine; if you don't want to play, it's okay. I want 12 guys that want to go to the Presidents Cup and play golf, and I want 12 guys that are ready. Fred Funk raised his hand and said, I'll row to get there if I can get on this team.
The guys went to South Africa, and I thought that was one of the great matches that I've ever been involved with. I think it's still the greatest sporting event I've ever been involved with. When we got there, the president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeke, he was a little indifferent about what was going on because I don't think he understood it. But by the end of the week when he saw how many people around the world looked at South Africa and what happened there, he said, I get it, and he did get it. And it was great for South Africa, and we ended up, Gary and I were the ones that declared it a tie. We called Tim and had to get the commissioner's approval to do so, and the commissioner says, well, if you tie, whoever owns the Cup retains it. Gary says, we keep playing. Of course it was pitch dark.
But we thought the right thing to do was to share the Cup, and they changed the rules because of that match. Now if you tie, it is a shared Cup, which I think is a nice way of it is for international goodwill. It is for sportsmanship. It's to promote the game of golf around the world, and that's what the Presidents Cup does. The stature of the Presidents Cup has just grown miles since we first started the Presidents Cup, and I think that the Presidents Cup and the Ryder Cup are basically on the same stature. I think both of them are big events, and I think that the interest that is given to both events around the world has been unbelievable.
But the event in South Africa I think did an awful lot to make that happen.
We came back to Washington and we had a great event in Washington, and then had another great event in Montreal. Each time, I loved the way the Presidents Cup pairings are. First of all, all the players play in the Presidents Cup, and you can't hide anybody. With the Ryder Cup you have the ability to hide somebody if you don't really want to play; don't do that in the Presidents Cup. Everybody has to play every day, and I think that's great because once you make a team you don't want to all of a sudden say, well, he made the team and he sat out for four days and played the singles. I'm not big on that.
But anyway, I think the Presidents Cup has got a great format, it's a great event. We were really honored when we were chosen to have the Presidents Cup at Muirfield Village in 2013, last year, had a great event, unfortunately it rained the whole week, but the people I think Tim said in our ceremony we had last week, he said, it would rain, they would go home. It would stop raining, they would come back. It would rain again, the people would all go home and they'd come back. They did it every day. It was fantastic. It was unbelievable, and we did break all records at Muirfield Village.
Now we're going to my golf course in Korea, New Songdo, and it's a golf course that we did, and it's in a free trade zone I guess you would call it. English is the language of the area, and it's for business purposes. It's convenient for the players. They built I might be mistaken on this, on the number, it's a 17 kilometer bridge from the airport across Incheon Harbor to Songdo for this facility.
It's an unbelievable facility. The accommodations are great. The people will love it. I know that the people of Korea have responded very well to it. I'm looking forward to the 2015 Presidents Cup, and it's been a real honor and pleasure to have been part of four of them as captain.
I wish you all a great Presidents Cup and much luck, and the new present captains which will be announced shortly, you'll have a great experience. Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Mr. Player, Mr. Nicklaus, thank you very much for your comments. Mr. Player referenced playing the par 3 course yesterday. They are going to partner together this week, and as Jack told me last week, he said, they're actually going to let us play on Sunday. In Houston they shoved us out of the way a little bit early.
JACK NICKLAUS: The last Legends that we played we were done on Tuesday. We played Monday and Tuesday and they said you can go home.
THE MODERATOR: Well, I'm going to respectfully ask you to exit the stage. They're going to be available for one on one interviews after we are done, so they're going to take their seats in the front row, if you could do that now, please.
With that, Mr. Commissioner, I will turn it back over to you for today's big announcement.
TIM FINCHEM: Thanks, Gary. We are delighted to make the announcement regarding the captains today for the 2015 Presidents Cup, which will be played in Incheon City adjacent to Seoul in South Korea. A couple things noteworthy about that. It's the first time we will have played the Presidents Cup in Asia even though we've had representation from Asia on virtually every team, and in addition, we will use that week in Korea to tell the story about the very strong relationship that the United States has with South Korea and the very strong relationship our military forces have with the business community in Seoul and in Korea. We think it's a compelling story, an historic story, and one that means a lot to the Korean people.
With that said, it's my honor to first announce the American team captain, U.S. Team captain, who will be Jay Haas. We'll ask Jay to come up. Jay brings a perspective to the Presidents Cup like no other captain or player can because he's unique among players as it relates to being captain, and let me explain why.
As a player he has competed in two Presidents Cups, including the first Presidents Cup in 1994, and he compiled a 5 3 1 record in those two Cups. He also served as a captain's assistant on three winning U.S. teams, assisting Captain Fred Couples. And then as a father, Jay's son Bill was part of the United States team in 2011 and 2013, so he is unique in that regard with his perspective.
His appointment follows what has become now in recent years a tradition of selecting captains who have actually played on the Presidents Cup. We've decided not to limit future captains to those who have had sons play on the Presidents Cup team. That would make the list of possibilities somewhat small. But Captain Haas, your comments?
JAY HAAS: Well, thank you, Tim. As you can imagine, I'm pretty overwhelmed and excited and humbled by this appointment. I want to thank both Jack and Gary for being here today. I have big shoes to fill in that regard. I was on that team in '03 in George, South Africa, and it was quite an experience.
I don't know, I'm kind of tingling, I guess. I never really dreamt something like this. My goal as a player was to be a participant but never thought about being a captain, so I am in kind of uncharted waters here. But being the assistant the last three times gives me a little comfort. I'm just thankful for this opportunity. Really looking forward to it. Looking forward to getting back to South Korea. I played there in a Champions Tour event, and just can't wait. I'm really excited.
TIM FINCHEM: Thanks, Jay. I'll also note that Jay has served on the PGA TOUR Policy Board and he's a former recipient of the Payne Stewart Award for his professionalism and the way he's handled himself over his entire career on the PGA TOUR, a unique honor.
With that, I'll turn to the International Team, and we're delighted to announce that Nick Price will return as captain of the International Team for the second time. Congratulations, Nick. Nick has the distinction of being the captain with the most Presidents Cup experience as a player. He competed on the team five times in '94, '96, '98, 2000 and 2003 Cup that we were talking about with Jack and Gary earlier.
I think as we approached his selection for the last Cup, we focused on the fact that all during his Presidents Cup playing career, Nick was not hesitant to be in addition a strong ambassador for the Presidents Cup. He would go play in tournaments and talk about how the Presidents Cup was his favorite competition that he played in all year, which was in those years a very strong endorsement of the Presidents Cup from a player who has won all over the planet and had the recognition and stature that he did and a player who was, in fact, No. 1 in the World Rankings, as well, and a recipient of the Payne Stewart Award and Ambassador of Golf Award which is presented at Firestone Akron every year during the Bridgestone World Golf Championship.
With these two captains playing, leading their teams, I think we're going to have a great Cup on a phenomenal venue in Songdo, Korea, in the fall of next year. With that I'll ask Nick to give us your comments on your playing, your captaining, and what you're looking forward to.
NICK PRICE: Thank you, Tim. I'm obviously delighted to have been asked to do this again. Last year was a learning experience for me, and I just want to thank the players who were on the team last year because without them, I don't think I'd be sitting here again because I know Tim went and polled all of them, so I must have done something right to be back here.
We had a fantastic team last year. We had a great time. We had a lot of camaraderie. We had so much motivation. They were a great bunch of guys, and as I said earlier in the week, at Muirfield the only time we were all together in the same room, together for the first time in the same room was on the Monday on the eve of the tournament. It just shows you what a great bunch they were. They got together very quickly. Everyone contributed. It was just a wonderful, wonderful thing to be a part of, and I'm so excited to do it again, particularly in Korea.
I think this is going to be a huge event for Korea. Korea has become a powerhouse in golf over the past decade or so, all the great players that have come out of there. We've seen major championships come out of Korea now, and I just want to say how proud I am to have been asked again.
I also want to let you know that this next man who I have chosen as my vice captain is about as motivated as I am, has enjoyed playing on the Presidents Cup as much as I have over the years, and seeing as it's in his home country, I've asked K.J. Choi to be my vice captain, and he's accepted.
THE MODERATOR: Before we get a comment from K.J., Jay, I believe that you have an announcement to make of your own who is going to be the first assistant on your staff.
JAY HAAS: Well, we're going to keep pretty much the same formula. We just have a different person giving the speeches I guess at the opening and closing ceremonies. Fred Couples has agreed to be my assistant captain, and I can't say enough about Fred, how the guys respond to him, how they have the last three matches. We just have a big time. We just have a ball. I know Nick alluded to the team room, and I don't think there's anything better for a golfer from an individual sport to be in that team with those players and kind of feel that those other 11 guys have your back.
Again, Fred and I, we've been buddies for a long time, and we're really looking forward to going over to South Korea and trying to put up a good fight against the International Team once again.
THE MODERATOR: Obviously Fred is not present here today, but K.J. is. K.J., if you'd like to share a few thoughts about the appointment.
K.J. CHOI: First of all, I would like to thank Captain Nick Price for having selected me as vice captain for the Presidents Cup 2015 that will be taking place in Songdo, Korea, at Jack Nicklaus's golf course. Nick Price, whom I've respected since childhood, has shown me much kindness and guidance when I started on the PGA TOUR. To think that I will be working alongside with him with the same team gives me great pleasure to say the least.
As the 2015 Presidents Cup will be held in Korea, I'll do my very best to help our captain so that the International Team can have a win this time around. As this is the first time for me to become a vice captain for the Presidents Cup, I am feeling immense obligation and burden. Until now, the Presidents Cup was held in an English speaking world, and this is the first time that it's being held in a non English speaking world. With the Presidents Cup being held in Korea, I am quite sure that there will be renewed ideas of what golf is.
People in Korea are thrilled and excited about the 2015 Presidents Cup that is to be held in Korea, so we can already see more interest and love for the game being built up. I am quite sure that through this Presidents Cup, the golf business and playing golf in Asia will advance to a higher level.
The International Team has one win, one draw and eight losses so far. I sincerely hope to help realize a second win in Korea this time. Although I'm lacking in many ways, I'll give all I've got, and with players and with the help of captain Nick Price, I'll do my best to help our team win.
THE MODERATOR: At this time if you have questions we have some hand held microphones.
Q. A question about the fact that this is going to be in South Korea. You kind of alluded to it earlier, but this is a pretty significant event to be in that region of the world for the first time. Could you comment on that?
NICK PRICE: Absolutely. I wouldn't be sitting here today if it hadn't been for Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player bringing out Jack Nicklaus, Billy Casper and all the great players out to Southern Africa to play back in the '60s. They inspired me. When I went to watch them, that's what started golf for me, and I remember Billy Casper giving me a golf ball on the 7th green of Royal Harare back in 1967, and I've still got that golf ball somewhere. I don't know where it is, but I didn't throw it out, and I told him that when I saw him.
With satellite TV now, it's changed a lot of things because kids can watch golf live around the world, but it's still not the same as seeing the world's best golfers right in front of you live on your own turf. I think it's going to be a huge impact for youngsters in Korea. I think it's going to be so well received, obviously, going there for the first time, and I think it's going to be a huge have a great impact on golf there for many years to come.
Q. I just want to take this opportunity, Jay Haas, to tell you that we were there when your son picked up the check for $10 million from FedEx, and I just want to thank you for raising such a fine young man. The way he handled that and represented you and your family was just remarkable, and our future is in good hands with people like that.
JAY HAAS: Well, thank you. I was there at that event, and it was quite a thrill for me to see that happen. We figured out that Bill won more that year than I won in my entire career, which is wonderful.
The game has grown so much, and just talking about the event going to South Korea, Gary started it, I think, traveling all the miles, the millions of miles that he has traveled over the course of his career, and people have followed him just like Nick said. Going to South Africa now is like going to one state over anymore. Guys just do it all the time. It's very commonplace.
And back then, I think it took you, Gary, five or six flights to get to America when he played. The game has grown terrifically, and the young player of today is benefiting, certainly.
Q. Golf has meant a lot to you throughout your career. Was there ever a point when you thought you would be the captain of the International Team?
JAY HAAS: About 10 minutes ago maybe. No, I guess as an individual player, it was my goal to make any of these teams and to be in that room, I don't think there's been a better feeling for me than looking around across the room and seeing Tiger or Captain Nicklaus or whoever it might be, and to be one of those players, that was always my goal. I didn't really aspire to be a captain, never thought that that would be in the cards for me.
But being involved with the last couple, three teams along with Fred has given me and maybe thought someday that could happen, but it never really there's so many people who are deserving of this seat right here, I just feel like I'm very blessed to be sitting here representing the United States, and hopefully I won't screw this thing up too badly.
Q. Jay, how much can you lean on your past experience now that you are the captain?
JAY HAAS: I think the system that Fred and I used, and Davis last year at Muirfield Village, that we used for three teams was we leaned heavily on the veteran players. We got Tiger and Phil and Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker and guys like that in the room, and it's not there was not a pecking order it didn't seem like. We were a bunch of equal guys in there just trying to put the best team forward, and I don't think that will change any, relying heavily on their feel for the game.
Obviously with me on the Champions Tour not seeing these guys week in and week out, I feel pretty close to the players of today, just with Bill and being involved with the last three teams, but there's things that we would miss. Maybe the teams, the way they meshed together, we might not see something that the veteran players would know. Without question, it's about the players. It's not about the captain, in my role anyway.
Q. Mr. Choi, the remark was made here that golf has really exploded in popularity in Korea. Was there some specific incident, a game of some sort, one person that brought about this great level of popularity?
K.J. CHOI: As you know, in Korea there was a player called Se Ri Pak, and when she came over to the U.S. and won the U.S. Open, that was a big event for Korea. When I won the Compaq Classic, this was a big thing for Korea, too, and that helped a lot with the popularity.
All the junior golfers that saw that tournament back then such as Seung Yul Noh or Sang Moon Bae are all the guys that grew up right now and became such players.
Back then I didn't know much about Presidents Cup. I didn't know there was a tournament such as the Presidents Cup, but then in 2003 I attended the Presidents Cup and I realized it was a big tournament.
To the Koreans they were able to get close to golf through the PGA tournaments and through the Presidents Cup, and all of those things, they were able to get really close to the game of golf, and it contributed a lot to the popularity.
Q. As an American I wish you'd never found out about the Presidents Cup, but as a spectator from '05 to '11, what does this man mean to the International Team?
NICK PRICE: Well, last year we played the same team in 2003. I think K.J. was a huge learning experience for him. I think the first one you play in, whether it's a Presidents Cup, Ryder Cup, whatever team event you play in, it's a learning experience, because there were three or four of us, or five of us from Southern Africa on that team. I think we made him feel really at home, made him feel very comfortable. At the end of the week we'd always sit down in the room and discuss everything, and I know K.J. was very vocal about how much he enjoyed the week there.
Two years ago when Tim announced when I was announced as the captain for the first time, the first event that I went to was the Bridgestone Invitational, and I met with K.J. Immediately I could see the passion that he had. He was explaining to me what he felt would be how we could improve, how we could pairings, how we could have more practice rounds. He had a lot of great ideas, a lot of great advice, which I used, which I also understood. So it was really an obvious choice for me when we were going to South Korea, and I said to him that I wanted to have K.J. as my assistant captain or my vice captain.
I think he's also going to help me a lot over there with some of the difficulties that I may encounter, and he'll make me feel very much at home there, too. I'm looking forward to it a lot.
Q. Jay, the selection of choosing Fred as your assistant, was that easy or difficult, and did you think about choosing your son Bill?
JAY HAAS: I guess choosing Fred was a no brainer. Like I said, it just seemed like we meshed well the last three times, and we've had success. As soon as I had gotten the word from Tim, we talked, and it was just kind of a done deal. I think we both assumed that that was going to happen. And no, I did not ever consider Bill. I think that he's got enough on his plate trying to be a competitor and trying to make a team. I don't think that'll I don't think he would want to be in that role. I think if I was him, I'd want to be in the role of player. I did not consider that. But Fred was a tap in. It was going to happen.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, congratulations, and the former and present captains are going to pose for some photographs out in the hallway with the trophy, so if you'd like to stick around for that, please do so. Again, gentlemen, congratulations, and thank you all.