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Couples, Price & Finchem Discuss 2013 Presidents Cup
While the PGA Tour visits Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio, for this week's Memorial Tournament, one player entered and a couple of non-playing dignitaries were on hand Tuesday to discuss the next Presidents Cup, which will be played at the Jack Nicklaus-designed course from September 30 through October 6 in 2013.
2013 U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples is playing in the Memorial; he'll be paired in the first two rounds with Tiger Woods and Bill Haas.
Zimbabwe's Nick Price is replacing Greg Norman, who as International captain lost the last two Presidents Cups to Couples-led teams, 19½ to 14½ at Harding Park Golf Course in 2009 and 19 and 15 at Australia's Royal Melbourne Golf Club in 2011. Couples will be trying to go 3-0 as the captain when the biennial competition tees off in fall of next year.
Also attending Tuesday's press conference was PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem. The trio met with reporters and talked about the next Presidents Cup. Here's what they had to say.
MODERATOR: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for joining us today. I'm Laura Hill, senior director of communications for the PGA Tour, and I'm pleased to serve as moderator for today's exciting Presidents Cup announcement. With us today is PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, who will soon be joined by two very special guests. Before I turn it over to Tim, I'd like to thank our host for today Mr. Jack Nicklaus, he himself a four time Presidents Cup team captain. I'd also like to acknowledge Jack Nicklaus II, chairman of Muirfield Village Golf Club and chairman of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance.
We also have representatives from Citi with us today. Citi is one of our two global partners of the Presidents Cup, along with Rolex. And then some special guests here from the city of Columbus, the Mayor, Michael Coleman; city of Columbus Council President, Andy Ginther; city of Dublin Mayor, Tim Lecklider; and Franklin County Commissioners John O'Grady and Paula Brooks. Thank you for joining us today.At this time it's my pleasure to turn it over to Commissioner Tim Finchem for today's announcement.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Thank you, Laura, and welcome everyone, particularly the media for being here for this announcement. It's an exciting day for all of us who have been involved in the Presidents Cup for the last 17 or 18 years. I also want to recognize Jack and thank him for his hospitality and his commitment to staging the Presidents Cup here at Muirfield Village next year, and Jackie, thank you for your support and the support of your team, as well.
I'd like to thank Citi and Rolex, because with them as global partners it has really allowed us to stage this event at a very special level. We are in the glow still of last fall's matches at Royal Melbourne, and the great tradition of the Presidents Cup, which we're not sure how long it'll last as a tradition, but every single Cup has exceeded the one before it in terms of its size, its global appeal, the excitement level. And the challenge is now here to make it the best one yet. I'm sure that's going to be the case.
I also would like to thank the public sector folks from Columbus and Dublin and Franklin County for your great support in preparing for today and going forward to the conduct of the matches next year. We're about to announce the captains. And let me just start by saying that the Presidents Cup is a gentlemen's competition. I think most notably highlighted by Jack and Gary's decision to have a draw in the matches in South Africa, but also by the type of individuals who have served as captains. On the international side, David Graham, Peter Thomson, Gary Player and Greg Norman have been captains. On the U.S. side Hale Irwin, Arnold Palmer, Ken Venturi, of course Jack for four times and Fred Couples for two times.
And it is my honor today to announce that next year serving as captains for the United States team will be Fred Couples again, and for the international team Nick Price. They have agreed to serve as captains for the 2013 matches, and I'd like to invite them to come in. I'll introduce each of our captains to say a few words. First let me start with Fred. Fred, as you know, has a 2-0 record as captain in the Presidents Cups in 2009 and 2011, one of the most charismatic and popular players to have played the PGA Tour. I think it's fitting that with the matches here at Muirfield Village, Fred will have an opportunity to better Jack. Jack had a 2-1-1 record in his four matches, and Fred has an opportunity to go 3-0.
In addition to his four appearances in the Presidents Cup team as a competitor and two previous as captain, Freddie, as well, from team competition played in five Ryder Cups. Fred, if you'd like to say a few words about your thoughts upon being named for a third go.
FRED COUPLES: Well, first, the last time Tim and I talked was on the first tee at the LA Open, and all he kept asking me was how my game was, how my game was, and for the previous couple years at the LA Open, he expressed the idea of me being the captain. So I was a little bit like, what's going on at that time, and then I got the call a week ago, and it's truly an honor to be able to be the Presidents Cup captain again. I know that most of the guys on the team or all of them probably were in his face or in his pocket to have me possibly be the captain again, which makes me feel very good.
But just to be here, I did win this tournament, Jack's place at Memorial, and without being on the team as a player, there's nothing better to be a captain. And for me personally, to be up against Nick Price, who is one of my all time favorites, will be a thrill. I know he'll have the time of his life just like I have. And then to end it with all that, just to be able to do it a third time, I can't express it enough. The Champions Tour has been great, but to be able to come back at my age and captain this thing three times is truly an honor, and I want to thank Tim for his belief in me to be able to run our team.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Thanks, Fred. And with Nick Price, we are extremely excited. You're back at the Cup. Nick is a rookie captain, but I think everyone is aware of his support of the Presidents Cup going back to the first one. I don't know of a player since that day of the first Cup who has been more excited and more enthusiastic about the Presidents Cup. I remember when Nick was playing in the Cups he played in that he liked to tell people that the Presidents Cup was his favorite event in golf.
We all know Nick is a quality player, No.1 player in the world, a Hall of Famer, but more importantly, Nick contributes so much to the image of the game, a Payne Stewart Award winner, an Ambassador of Golf Award winner. He'll be a popular leader of the International Team. I think his appointment continues the tradition that began in 2009 of naming captains who have had Presidents Cup experience. In fact, Nick has five times participated on the International Team, actually more than four for Freddie and more than three for the International Team's last captain, Greg Norman. Please let us have some thoughts.
NICK PRICE: Thanks, Tim. This has been a moment that I've been waiting for for an awful long time. Obviously it's a great honor for me to be selected as the captain, but more importantly, it's probably the most excited I've been about anything in the last five or six years. The game has been going sideways, so it's nice to get out and have an opportunity first to meet all the young guys. There's obviously a few guys that I've known over the years, but this is, again, a huge honor, and I'm very, very excited about it. You know, my first inaugural Presidents Cup, I knew it was going to be something special. It was - everybody we played that year didn't really figure out what was going on and how it was working, especially the international guys because we had never played in any event of that magnitude. But as the years progressed, it turned into its own character, and it was a lot of fun for all of us who represent so many different countries to bond together and have camaraderie.
The win that we had in 1998 was just phenomenal. If I could recreate that feeling again for the guys who play at any time, it would just be very special because you never forget those moments. I think Jack remembers how much celebrating we did after that, but we had a great time. Again, it's my honor to be nominated as captain but also to come back to Muirfield. This is a wonderful golf course, and I think we'll have a very exciting Presidents Cup.
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Thank you, Nick. Just to those of you who were there, to take you back to that first Presidents Cup, we had been waiting to get the matches going, and the first day of the competition we had a fog delay for about two hours, and we'd been saying all week that the great thing about golf is history and the thing that separates events is the amount of history, and President Ford and Byron Nelson were on the tee waiting for the fog to lift, and they said, well, sooner or later we'll have some history, and when the first ball was hit, President Ford said, well, we've got a little bit of history now.
Let me just - before I turn it back to Laura to ask questions, to field your questions, let me make one more comment on the process. We've been doing this for some time. As we lead up to making the decision on captains, we obviously talked to the captains themselves, prior captains, competitors from the most recent team and competitors from prior teams, as well as the various Tours who represent players on the International Team from around the world. We think that process has worked well.
We do feel, however, that it's time to make some adjustments in that process going forward now that we're into a period where probably going forward everybody who serves as captain will be a player who's played on a Presidents Cup team. So we will later this year be formalizing a process on the international side that involves specifically the heads of the other Tours in consultation with International Team players sort of dividing the role of the PGA Tour in deciding the Presidents Cup captain on the U.S. side and working with the other Tours more definitively in a process that will lead to the international captain.
To conclude my comments, we are very excited about being here at Muirfield Village, having the opportunity to have these two great guys captain the two teams hosted by a player who served as captain four times and his wife Barbara who brings so much hospitality to the overall event, whether it's in Melbourne, Australia, or here at Muirfield Village. With that, Laura, I'll turn it back to you for comments and fielding comments.
Q. Nick, when was it that you were first approached about this; and secondly, can you talk about the changes that Greg and some of the other players had mentioned in Melbourne? Are you in favor of those changes, and have you talked to whoever you need to talk to on the PGA Tour side about those changes?
NICK PRICE: Tim phoned me a week ago. We spoke about some of the changes, some of the things that I felt quite strongly about. But we've got time now to address some of the things. I really want to get feedback from the players. And being a little bit out of it the last three or four Presidents Cups, I've kept a close eye on it, but I think the players who have played in two or three of them really need to - those will be the guys that I'll be asking the questions of as to which way to go. You know, this is a new situation for me, so having been - having played as a player and now as a captain, I want the players to contribute as much as they possibly can towards any of the decisions that I have to make. That's something that'll happen, I guess, in the next month or two.
Q. Fred, when we talked in Australia, you had said maybe it was time for somebody else to take a turn because there's so many guys that are obviously worthy of the position. But wondering if there was a little bit of hesitation on your part thinking about that, and then of course obviously you decided to take it again. So maybe talk about the excitement of captaining at a place where you've won a tournament.
FRED COUPLES: Right. First of all. Jack and his staff gave me a spot this week to play, which was an honor. Going backwards to Australia after we won, I think that's just an honorable thing to say, even though I was squeezing my leg like what are you saying that for. But to be honest, I've been on a lot of teams, and there's one thing I really feel like I can do is rally the guys, and I don't think it's that hard to do. And I'm not saying any other captains that I had weren't. Jack was here; he knew what to do with us. Some guys want to be way too hands-on.
So in that instance when I was saying, well, it's this and that, I think 12 guys said, no, you're going to do it again. So that's a good feeling. It's like when you win a tournament and everyone comes up and pats you on the back and when you go to another tournament all that is past, but in the Presidents Cup it lingers on and on and on, and there are a lot of caddies that are my friends. So I'm sure they were all telling Tim, give him another shot, and here we are, and I couldn't be more happy to go up against Nick.
I've said it the whole time: He's going to get to know those players more. I feel like it's certainly easier for the United States. I have guys that I can go play an event next year and see them all pretty much on the spot. Nick may have to get on his plane and stop about nine times to find his guys, so it is a little bit harder. But for me to be the captain again, it really made my day when Tim called.
Q. Fred, when you listened to Nick describe how he will approach his first year, running things by the players, is that the way you approached it your first year?
FRED COUPLES: Well, I chose Jay Haas as my assistant, who I've known forever. I know Nick will choose the right guys. I personally - I'm a little bit laidback, and I wasn't laid back in the whole scenario of what's right for the Presidents Cup. But what's right for the 12 guys, that's pretty easy. You just let them do their thing. You ask them when they want to play. You don't tell them when they're going to play. I think when you have guys that match up, it's pretty easy. I just don't see it being that hard, and I would like to sit here and say I'm not rooting for anyone to make or miss a putt, but obviously when you have 12 guys that you've known for a long time, you root very hard. It's a very emotional week, I must say, and the nice thing about the Presidents Cup for the United States is we've won almost all of them but one, and I think we tied in South Africa, so we've had the upper hand, and our guys know that going in there. I don't think anyone can really figure that out.
I've seen their teams before, played against them. They're incredible players. We just somehow get the lead and we stay in the lead and we win, and I think Nick will try his best to figure a way how to not have that happen.
Q. Fred, you may have just answered this question, but I was going to ask you, why do you think that they like playing for you so much?
FRED COUPLES: Well, I think maybe the main thing is one of our captains is sitting right in this room, Jack Nicklaus, who I think everyone loved to play for. And I'll be honest; there have been times when you're out there on the 12th tee and you've had other captains come up on the tee and tell you, hey, we really need this match. I mean, it's pretty obvious that if you're there, you know you need this match. So for me I go up and tell them something that's so far off the rocker that it has nothing to do with golf, and I do that the whole week.
I don't think I even talk about golf. So when I'm playing golf in my own game, the last thing I want to do is talk about golf. So on the Presidents Cup team, they all know their match is important. They all know who they're playing the night before and they go out and they play, and I think they like that and they understand my mentality is to talk to them a lot in the months before. I text them all every single night, tell them great round, keep it going, you're going to make the team, do this, do that, and it's fun for me. It keeps me busy and it keeps them thinking.
Q. Can you share maybe one of those things you've told somebody on the 12th tee one time?
FRED COUPLES: Well, I remember telling Zach Johnson, he was playing Tim Clark in San Francisco, and I think Tim Clark maybe was 7-under after 10. They changed the course around, but anyway, Zach Johnson made about a 40-footer for birdie, and it looked like he was going to win the hole, and I was sitting on the 12th tee. So when he came over there, I knew he had tied the hole. So I said, "What's going on? What was all the roars for? Did Tim Clark make another birdie?" I knew my guy had already birdied the hole. I didn't even give him the time of day, tell him nice tie, nice half. I said, Wow, Tim Clark, 7-under after 11, that's pretty good golf.
It has nothing to do with him. So when you're playing, if I'm paired at a Champions Tour event with Nick Price and he's 7 under after 11 you're paying a lot of attention to his game and you're still paying attention to yours. But I think when you're getting smoked in a match you don't want to go up and tell a guy, Get a glove or get in the game or we need the next hole. Those are things, it's like Gregg Popovich the other night when he was in that huddle saying a few things, and people ask, why, why, why. I think it's just the demeanor of him. And when I am around these guys I try and act like not everything is that important, just go out and play and have fun.
Q. In the first five events that you've played, how did you see the Presidents Cup evolve, and what have you seen it the last few times?
NICK PRICE: I think it was more the camaraderie amongst the players. We had that core of six or seven of us that seemed to play, had some continuity in it, Vijay, Ernie, Goose, a couple of the other guys, and you know, it was something special. These are guys that you play against your whole career, and suddenly they're teammates and they're pulling for you, and we're trying to figure out which is the best way to do the pairings.
We all put our hearts into it. That's the big thing. I think the first one was I don't want to say we didn't put our hearts into it, but we didn't quite know what was going on, whereas the second, the next four I played in, we knew exactly what was going on. We played our tails off. We tried so hard. It was just a fantastic feeling for us who have played so much individual sport, and growing up I played a lot of team sport and team golf, and I miss that, and obviously having seen the Ryder Cup and what was going on when they made the changes and how exciting and closely contested it became, that's what I would like the Presidents Cup to become.
I don't think there's anything better than playing for three days or four days and then come down to the final putt with one of the last two groups on Sunday, and I certainly hope that next year will be that close.
Q. Could you discuss a little bit what kind of response or feedback you got from the players about wanting to have Fred captain the U.S. Team again?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Well, I think both teams enjoyed their captains, both the International team, very positive reaction to Greg both times, and the same thing with Fred. Both of these guys in San Francisco and Melbourne I thought were terrific captains, and they worked hard at it prior to the Cup. They obviously are terrific stars in the game, and they brought a lot of interest in both places. In both cases, I think the teams were - would have been very pleased to have their captains back.
So we talked to all the players. I think that the deciding factor largely revolved around the fact that on the international side we were getting to the point I think one of the things we've heard from captains over the years, past captains and current captains and once in a while players, but mainly from the captains themselves, is the importance of being connected with the players. We were getting to the point where we'd had Gary and Jack for a number of years, and some of the players who had played on each of the teams were getting older and the list was piling up of players that should be captain. And it was a more acute situation on the international side, frankly because on the U.S. side we have a team competition every year. So Davis Love this year is the captain of the Ryder Cup, and whether he's the captain for the Presidents Cup is to be determined. But every year we have one.
Whereas on the international side it's every other year. Nick certainly was at the top of the list of players going forward simply because he had given so much to the Cup, he's such a popular player, etcetera, etcetera, and yet he was getting older, and we wanted to - not that he's ancient, he's still a young guy, but in terms of his connection with the players. So that was the tilting factor. Greg was terrific. He was great with the decision not to move forward. I think he would have been pleased to move forward, but I think going forward, we'll look back and Greg Norman's captaincy was important to the development of the Presidents Cup, and we appreciate it very much.
Q. Fred, you've played a lot of stroke play here on this golf course. I wonder if you could enumerate some of the attributes that would make it a good match play course.
FRED COUPLES: I can't believe you just said, while Tim was talking I was actually paying attention, but I was actually thinking of the back nine and what a great match play course it is. You have the 11th hole, and I'll hit a few holes and I'll let Nick take over, but you've got 11 and 12. I'm sure the 14th hole they may move the tees up and let guys try and drive it. And then now with the new 16th hole, there's opportunities to really win a lot of holes with pars under that kind of pressure with that water being everywhere and blah, blah, blah. So it's an unbelievable stroke play course, and there have been incredible finishes. But in match play I think the whole back nine is going to be amazing.
NICK PRICE: Absolutely. I think it's a spectacular golf course for match play format. I think we saw that in the Ryder Cup back in '87, and I know the changes that have been made. In fact, I have to come up and start checking and see all the changes because it's been a while since I've played, but all the players really love the changes. They're going to have to hit shots. That's the big thing is to try, as Fred says, to get your team members, get them all excited and get them motivated and get to hit some shots. But I think it's a spectacular back nine for match play.
Q. Was there any trepidation on your part, either this year or in previous years, about taking the position in that it could prevent you from becoming Ryder Cup captain at some point?
FRED COUPLES: No, I really never looked at it that way. I'm going to help Davis, I think. I don't know if that's out yet, but I believe he's pretty much put that out there. (Laughter.) Davis, wherever you are . . . But I have totally, totally been a Presidents Cup guy. I love the Ryder Cup. But to be captain a third time is, like I've said, very exciting, and the Presidents Cup to me, by playing it a bunch and all the great places we've played and by being a part of it, like Nick said from the very first one until now, to be able to do it three years as captain oversees anything that may ever happen in a Ryder Cup or not.
But it's the same guys on the same team. I do love the Presidents Cup format. As you know, everyone plays. I think Saturday a couple guys sit out, and I think for any captain it's very easy to do that. You can be a Ryder Cup player and not play much, and in the Presidents Cup you're playing all the time and every point is important and you've got to go out there and fight, and I think that's what the Presidents Cup is all about. I have a lot of belief in the way the Presidents Cup is running. I don't know what they were talking about earlier about changing a couple of the formats or whatever Greg had talked about on Sunday night.
But our guys, we've done well in the Presidents Cup I think because we team up pretty well and it's easier. Like Nick said, they don't play much competition. We play every single year, and we already have pairings matched up, and that's a big help.
Q. What was the impetus for allowing the other Tours to select the next captain?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Well, I think some of the players mentioned it to me in Australia, and I think years ago, in bringing the Presidents Cup on, we knew that there was a point in time when it would make sense to start to separate the internationals from the U.S. from a management standpoint starting with the captains. It was just a natural evolution. We didn't know - we'll still manage the event going forward. We think we're in the best position to do that, and I'm sure the other Tours are comfortable with that. But we've involved - we've counseled with the other tours on a variety of things related to Presidents Cup over the years. But this would be a structure that would somehow involve the other tours and maybe past captains or players who have played a certain number of Cups to take a lead role in deciding the captain, which is just more the natural evolution. But it has been mentioned in the past by some of the other national players.
Q. Would you envision that when this goes to Korea in '15 if there's a question of order or course setup that that decision would be made by the same group that picks the captain?
COMMISSIONER TIM FINCHEM: Well, on the competition - I think maybe there's some confusion developing here. The process I'm talking about is solely related to how you pick a captain. I think what might have been referenced earlier was that - two things, really: One is that in Melbourne there was a question raised about whether the home team should have discretion to set the blocks of competition. Greg felt that because the internationals played poorly in that one block of foursome matches that maybe if they had been flipped that day, it might have played a little differently, and shouldn't the home team be allowed to set that.
The other one has to do with, I think what Nick was referring to and what Fred inadvertently referred to, is the question of the number of players that - do the players have to play every day, the number of matches and things like that of that nature from a balanced competitive standpoint. We don't need to get into all that now.
I'll just say historically at least this is what has happened: When we set up the Presidents Cup and Hale Irwin was the first U.S. captain and David Graham was the first International captain, they came together and made suggestions as to why they thought it was important that the Presidents Cup differ in some respects from the Ryder Cup. That led to eventually four days of competition instead of three. The way we do our selections by the captains head to head and not issuing a slate, and also the number of matches we have and the requirement that everybody has to play at least once a day. Since that time when we did the first Cup, since that time, changes are made when the two captains agree, and we all agree based on that that it makes sense. So if there are suggestions like that, we'd probably want to see them go through that process.
Q. Nick, obviously outside of the possible changes that might come about, have you thought before the last Cup or whatever, obviously this has been on your mind for a while that you want to be captain, have you thought about different things that you might do as an approach to your team that maybe you haven't seen before, and if you could share those at all?
NICK PRICE: I watched the last three, or the last four since I've been out of it, and I have some ideas that I think would make it maybe a little closer on Sunday. I honestly feel I want to get - I want it to be exciting for all of the players. I think the closer contested it is, the more excitement we'll have in the competition. But I didn't sit in on any of the meetings, nor did I really talk to Greg about some of the proposals that he may have made to change the format or the way you do the captain's picks. But I'll be talking to the players, I think, more in the next coming months as to what they feel, and then try and weigh up what is best and speak to Fred and Tim about addressing maybe some of those issues.
Q. What are your recollections of the last match you played as a player?
NICK PRICE: Breaking my putter on the 18th green in front of Jack and Gary. Oh, God, that was - I remember Fancourt so well, and I knew it was probably going to be my last one, and I was playing up against Kenny Perry, who was hitting the ball about 30 yards further than I was, so I was hanging on for dear life and had an opportunity to make that putt on 18 to tie him. I knew how important that point was going to be. I think when you're around the Ryder Cup or the Presidents Cup over the years, you know they're sort of swing games, and I had one of those swing games. So I was trying probably as hard as I've ever tried over a putt of five, six feet, whatever it was. I was just happy that it all halved at the end, otherwise I would have felt sort of really guilty about missing that putt.
Just also, you know, being with all the players in the locker room, and again, I go back to that sort of camaraderie and the passion that they all had, that we all had in certainly the last two or three that I played in. It's just a lot of fun to play them, it really is. It's a different format, it's a different feel to everything. Obviously as an international player we never had that opportunity to enjoy that in the Ryder Cup, so when Tim initially spoke about the Presidents Cup, I was obviously very excited, and I can understand why the guys are so passionate about the Ryder Cup.
Q. For Fred and Nick both, if you wouldn't mind sharing your opinion: Would you like to see the home team set the playing conditions and set the rules for each competition?
NICK PRICE: I always felt that the team that's lost the year before or the two years before should have that.
FRED COUPLES: And I want to know if you knew his answer before you asked what his thoughts were in the last Presidents Cup because I didn't know any of that happened. I didn't know he broke his putter. That's pretty exciting stuff. But to answer his question, that's - it's such a unique format, so when you're going and you're putting your name here and you're trying to figure out who you want to get paired up with because you have that opportunity, it's a very, very unique format. And when you're sitting there like - I've done it two years in a row. A couple times you're nonchalant - one year with Greg, if anyone remembers, we did the first day in about four seconds, and then last year there was a little bit with Tiger and all these things, and I'm sitting here thinking, I've got to get this guy a point somehow. And that's one of the things that I think is different.
And like Tim said, if Nick and I are sitting there and we put our names down and you hand a piece of paper in, you don't really have much feel for it because you think, well, did I do it right because I put my guys up here, did I separate them. The Presidents Cup, I'm standing in the gallery the last two years and there's a lot going on just besides guys making putts. Everyone is excited about the pairings, and if we can figure out a way to make it better, then I'm all for it, and if that is for us to be the home team next time, I'm all for that.
MODERATOR: Congratulations, captains. Thank you for joining us.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.
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