Featured Golf News
Couples and Price Stump for Presidents Cup
Following on the heels of the high-drama thrill ride we all just witnessed at Medinah Country Club and the 39th Ryder Cup, Fred Couples and Nick Price meet up at Muirfield Village Golf Club outside of Columbus, Ohio to talk about the 2013 Presidents Cup.
At a media day being held at Muirfield, the heavweights of the competition were on hand to begin the one-year countdown to this other biennial match, which will be held Oct. 1-6, 2013. With Couples fresh off his role as assistant captain at last week's Ryder Cup, there was plenty to talk about.
Here are the comments, insights and memories they offered up to a gathering of media.
MODERATOR: Welcome to our media day to mark our one year countdown to The Presidents Cup here at Muirfield Village in 2013. My name is Laura Hill. I'm Senior Director of Communications for the PGA TOUR, and it's my pleasure to moderate today's press conference. We couldn't have captain's day without two of our captains for the 2013 Presidents Cup, Mr. Nick Price and Fred Couples. We'll ask them to join us in just a few minutes. But first I would like to acknowledge special guests, we have Jack Nicklaus II, Chairman of Muirfield Village Golf Club and The Memorial Tournament Presented by Nationwide Insurance.
And of course, our host today, and for next year's Presidents Cup, Mr. Jack Nicklaus, he himself a four time U.S. Presidents Cup team captain. At this time, it's my pleasure to welcome Mr. Nicklaus to the podium to say a few words on behalf of Muirfield Village Golf Club.
JACK NICKLAUS: Thank you, Laura. Thank you for attending today. It's just a couple days shy of a year that we are going to have this event. We were selected for this, it was a long time ago it seemed like, and it's not going to be much longer. Fred, thank you for being here. I think it's going to be a great event. You know, The Presidents Cup has grown since 1994 and I think it's become one of the greatest events in golf. I know that The Presidents Cup we had in South Africa was just sensational and I think that did an awful lot to raise the stature and the world awareness of it. I thought it was a special event and I still said to this day, it's the greatest event I've ever been involved in. I think it was just fabulous.
I'm delighted that Muirfield Village has the opportunity to host it. We have been fortunate enough to have The Ryder Cup, Solheim Cup and now Presidents Cup along with the Memorial Tournament, so we have been blessed to have some very significant events here at Muirfield Village. You're going to see the golf course play under a match play venue, I think when we had the Ryder Cup here, it was fast, and the players, they saw so many different things. It was really exciting. I think the fans will love the match play format. And we have a new clubhouse, that many of you have seen as you drove in. We started out with a little small addition, and of course it's gone to we are blowing the whole place up probably, but it will be ready. Matter of fact, it will be ready and awaiting us by May 7 next year. We have had great support from the city. We appreciate it and hope you continue to do so and we look forward to a great event, and something that we just really, really are looking forward to hosting. Thank you very much for being here.
MODERATOR: As Jack said, even though we are a year out, preparations for this competition are well underway and to talk more about the plans and progress for The Presidents Cup 2013, I would like to ask Commissioner Tim Finchem to say a few words on behalf of the PGA TOUR.
COMMISSIONER FINCHEM: Thank you, and good morning, everyone. I'm delighted to be here a year before the beginning of the matches. I'm quite confident that the vast majority of you were glued to the television on Sunday afternoon, and it's only been two days, so it's hard to imagine we are talking about going through that again, because that was high drama. It reminds me that in 1994, the basic reason for the creation of The Presidents Cup was because players outside of Europe and the United States did not have the opportunity to participate in that kind of format on that kind of stage. And that was the basic driving reason of The Presidents Cup. I would like to again thank Gary and Jack for the instrumental role in doing what Jack referred to, which is to grow what The Presidents Cup is; Gary Player a captain three times, Jack a captain four times; bringing everything they bring and representing what they represent in the game to The Presidents Cup had a very special impact on what's happened with these matches. Since 1994, the hallmark of the Cup has been that every two years, it's gotten better. And as we said when we announced coming here that the challenge would be to out do Australia and Royal Melbourne with what as an incredible presentation last year; so that is the gauntlet that's gone down. So we won't know where that's going to come out until a few days from a year from now.
We know the fans are going to be terrific galleries, they are going to be knowledgeable galleries; and I thought the galleries in Chicago were great but I'm familiar with the galleries that come here, Jack, to see golf, and these are knowledgeable galleries. These are galleries that will applaud hard for the U.S., but Nick, they are going to applaud when they see a good shot by the International Team, as well. Thank you very much.
MODERATOR: Four months ago in this very room we announced Fred and Nick for the captains for Presidents Cup for 2013. So it's my pleasure to ask them to talk about what preparations have there been thus far and their expectations for next year. Thank you both for spending the day with us and kicking off the one year count down to The Presidents Cup 2013. Before we open up to questions, maybe just a few remarks from you both. This has to be old hat for you at this point, it's your third time around and you're just golf a couple days ago with your Ryder Cup experience. Make just give us some perspective on that and things you learned and maybe applying to next year.
FRED COUPLES: Well I learned four and a half points is awfully hard to get, I can start with that. As the Commissioner said, it was an unbelievable week. The fans were incredible. And I've played in this tournament a lot of times and had the fortune of winning here and the fans here are incredible. So for me personally, it's an honor to be The Presidents Cup captain again; to play here again at Jack's face, to come here and see everyone scream and yell, it will be a lot of fun. Nick's played on a lot of teams. He's now the captain. It will be fun seeing him. Seems like a month ago we were here, I know it was back in May to kick off The Presidents Cup. And you know, last week I think was a lot of fun for all our players at The Ryder Cup. They took it pretty hard. And oddly enough two of them were actually talking about the Presidents Cup Sunday night and a couple of the players were at my table and telling me, you know, the par-3s are all even numbers and the par-5s are all odd numbers, so can you give me Bubba Watson as a partner, and I'm laughing at all that. Just little things like that. Again, I think when you get a little disappointed, you get a little edgy, you look to the future. The future for me personally is next year, The Presidents Cup captain, and for a lot of these players, it's really to bounce back and start playing golf again and put that aside.
MODERATOR: Nick, we keep calling you a rookie captain, it's been a while since we've use that had term for you I guess. What have you been doing to get up to speed next year?
NICK PRICE: I'm hitting into uncharted waters. This is a first for me obviously. Fred, this is his third go around, and he's been involved in the Ryder Cup in previous years. But my extent of match play knowledge goes to I've been on five Presidents Cup teams, fortunately when Gary was captain, he confided in me a lot as I was probably the senior member of the team when he was last captain. So I've been involved in some of the strategy doing the pairings. I'm trying to figure out how we as the international Presidents Cup team can get that same buzz that the Europeans get on Sunday at The Ryder Cup. That is one of my goals, and how I'm going to fire my players up and how I'm going to get them really excited and to show the passion and the zeal and that zest to play well.
That's the great thing about not only The Ryder Cup, but The Presidents Cup; that there's no money on the line. This is pure golf. This is pride. We want to compete. We want to compete. We want to try and win the Cup. It's not a question of beating the Americans. It's a question of winning the Cup. And I think that's something that's really important to the International Team. We have kind of had a tough time. We have played nine; we've lost seven of them and we've had one tie and we won in Australia. I think our careers are sort of like a mirror image. Although he won his first tournament over here probably a little earlier than I did. But he's been a great friend and I know he's going to be a tough adversary. But we are so happy to be here at Muirfield Village.
MODERATOR: As the Commissioner said, this is the first year we'll have up to three captains assistants for both of you. And if you want to start off by announcing your three?
NICK PRICE: Well, my decision, it was pretty easy. Although because of the dynamics of our team, I really felt that I needed three. I spoke to the Commissioner through the office and voiced why I wanted it. The first picks I made were Tony Johnstone and Mark McNulty, and the reason I did is because not only have they been great friends of mine over the years, but we have been rivals; we have played junior golf together and against each other. So our history goes back a long way. We are all from the same country. We went through a lot of tough times in our country over the years. These guys are tough. They are great competitors. And my third pick is Shigeki Maruyama from Japan, and the reason I asked him to come on board, he has a smile and a demeanor about him that is just second to none. He loves to joke. He loves to tell stories. He loves he's just got a passion for life. And obviously with the dynamics of our team, I felt it really important to have someone from Asia involved in it, and he'll help me, I know, with some of the decision making; there could be two Koreans, two Japanese, there could be four Asians on the team.
FRED COUPLES: Sounds like the Champions Tour is going to be well represented in this Presidents Cup, Nick. (Laughing). I think those are great picks. For me personally, I'm taking my winning man, Jay Haas again. Jay and I have been friends forever. I have a lot of faith in Jay. He's helped me make a lot of decisions well before I was ever chosen by the Commissioner to be The Presidents Cup captain. And I think that's a pretty simple one. The second one, I'm sure everyone will want to know about is Michael (Jordan). He can't make a decision at this time. And then my third one, if Jack Nicklaus wasn't the host of this event we were talking about this last night, I would have him. Sounds pretty odd to have Jack Nicklaus be your assistant, but that can never happen, so we can discuss that. It would be a little odd. That would be fun for all of us. Those are the plans, but Jay is one, and then I'm not throwing a curveball to Jack, but obviously he was a Ryder Cup Captain here, and we'd have to get past that, but that would be something that would be remarkable.
NICK PRICE: Can I say something about that (laughter)?
FRED COUPLES: He knows every turf of the grass (laughter). But host and assistant captain, what a great thing. But anyway, I'm hoping Michael can come. Last year, as you know, they were like the hockey people right now, struggling to get the season started, and it was a bit of poor judgment for him to come. But we texted and talked every night from Australia, and he certainly loves golf. You saw him at The Ryder Cup trying to get the players going. He gave a great tape to show the players on Thursday night and I just have a lot of respect for Michael and what he's all about for him as a golfer. Jay Haas and I, we'll figure out the next two in the next couple months.
Q. This might be difficult given what you just went through on Sunday in Chicago, but I'm wondering if you're going to challenge your guys at all from the standpoint of what the history that was made here in '87 with Europeans winning on American soil for the first time; the internationals haven't won on American soil and is that something you want your guys to know and you want your guys not to let happen.
FRED COUPLES: Well the second part of that, not to let it happen is pretty obvious. I don't want that to happen. You know, I'm a little bit different on captaincy. You know, I try and get next year started. I have an idea who I really believe will continue to make these teams. There's a stable of a lot of guys have made every team the last, I don't know, five or six Presidents Cups and Ryder Cups. So certainly next year I can promise you when they get here or throughout the year, I'll never say, hey, we are not going to let what happened at Medinah happen here, because that's really not what I'm all about. If Jay wants to say something, he can; I don't want to hear about it. The one fun thing Nick and I do get to do is we get to match our pairings, and I think makes all the players feel pretty good. And one of my goals is to make them feel like they are running the show, because all these guys run their own lives for 360 days a year; and then the five days Nick and I get them, we boss them around, I don't think they really want to hear that. So if they tell me, we want to go first and we want to go fifth and we want to go third, if you get them close to, that they have a good feeling good that. That is one thing that I think Tim and The Presidents Cup, I just think it's the most exciting minute and a half or two each day for me. Because once the matches are going, Nick and I are nervous Nellies and we watch. But that little two minutes for us, it's an exciting time when Nick throws a guy up there and then I put one and then I put one and he does. A lot of stuff gets buzzed and it's a fun little two minute period.
Q. As you know, Fred is 2 0 in these, what do you do to slow his team down? What do you do to change things around?
NICK PRICE: It's a tall order. I mean, to be honest with you, you can captain as much as you want to and you can choose the pairings as thoroughly as you possibly can. But it comes down I think to the spirit and the camaraderie of the team. And that's something you know, when you have got guys from the four corners of the world playing on our team, how do I create that. And I've got a couple ideas. You know, probably about two or three months before I choose a team, I'll be really looking hard at who the players are that are in form and they might not necessarily be 11th or 12th in the rankings or the qualification list. But there's a lot of things that you have to look at. There's a lot of things to consider. In the end, it's about the motivation; I think when you have team spirit and when you have camaraderie, it will push players to do things that even surprise them sometimes. I think we saw that on Sunday.
Q. I don't know if Davis said this to you but Sunday night after it was all over, he said that starting this week, his goal was to get on your Presidents Cup team, I don't know if he said that to you. What are your thoughts on that possibility?
FRED COUPLES: Well, I think actually Davis played very well this year. He did tell me that on Monday. He was flying to Las Vegas to play, which I don't know how he's going to do that, but I wish him well. You know, it's one of those things where I think all of the guys want to play. Davis Love has been a friend forever. Certainly I texted him this morning, hoping he would give me a response, and he didn't, because he was someone that maybe would want to be an assistant. But he wants to make the team just like everyone else. And let me emphasize one thing before we get too far; when Nick was answering that question, I can promise you, Nick Price is going to be an unbelievable captain, I can just tell. For me, I can go to almost any tournament and hit probably 12 of the 20 guys that are probably there might be some surprises next year. For Nick to do, that he would have to get in his plane and fly to Korea and then to Japan and Australia and South Africa, or he can pick Augusta and get a few guys.
But getting back to Davis, I hope he plays well, I hope he can make the team, that would be remarkable. He did everything right last week. He was phenomenal, and Nick and I were talking about this. You know, when you win, I didn't do anything I've won two of these. I didn't make any great decisions. Great guys made my team. I picked Tiger last year. Took a little grief for that. I don't know why. And I just kind of laughed at it. But the crowds last week were unbelievable. It was really the most fun. All of the guys loved it. Obviously Europe loved it a little more on Sunday. But it was a fun five or six days.
Q. Wonder if you can talk about the other gentleman across from you, and maybe qualities that he has as players and captain over his career.
FRED COUPLES: Talk about Nick? I've known Nick a long time, and I think the first time I saw him play was at the British Open when he was battling to win that thing. Once I finally got to see the way he played, he hits the ball with precision and accuracy and I play a totally different game but when we were paired together, he's a little bit like Nick Faldo. And when I got paired with Nick Faldo all the time, I used to love it and some people would say, is he fun to play with; I would say, I just like watching him play. I think José and Davis were magnificent (at last week's Ryder Cup). I think the José and Seve thing played out a lot, and I think what Nick will have is a lot of passion for his players, and I think that's a great thing for any kind of a team captain.
NICK PRICE: Fred and I go back a long way, 30 odd years or 25 years, and one thing you've got to be careful with Fred, don't let his laid backness fool you into thinking there's not a fierce competitor under there. He wants to win as bad as anyone I ever played against. You know, always when you play with Fred, he looks like he's about to fall asleep on the golf course, where the rest of us, you know, our hearts are going to (laughter) I can remember, if I can just tell one story really quickly here which is probably the funniest thing that ever happened between Fred and I was down at the World Series in Akron about 12 years ago. I got on the practice tee there and Joe LaCava who was caddying for Fred at the time, they were having a go at each about something, I don't know what it was. So I picked up my balls and started moving away and Jimmy Johnson, who now caddies for Stricker was caddying for me at the time. And Freddie looked over to me and he looked me in the eye and said, "I don't want Joe today, will you take Joe?" I thought, we were doing all right, we were in the middle of the pack or something and I said, "Come on, let's do it, that's a great idea. Let's switch caddies." And Jimmy, my caddie, looked at me with daggers in his eyes like he was going to kill me. You can see what kind of bad mood Freddie is in. So we switched caddies for the day. It was a great thing. It was a little bit refreshing. They are both excellent caddies and they can adjust to whatever. But anyway, Freddie played right in front of me, ended up shooting 66, I shot 67. We both moved up into the Top 10 and it actually worked. It was a tonic. It was September or whenever, August, late in the year. So we went and had lunch and we talked about it. And I said Joe was great and he said Jimmy was great. Walk downstairs to go and hit balls, and Jimmy, my caddie, was down in the caddie room there and said, you ready we walked, he was about two paces behind me and he had his head down. He was not going to talk to me at all; I could see I had really irritated him. So we got to practice tee and I said, "Well, how was it, how was the day?" "It was okay." I said, "Well, what was it like? What was the difference? What was it like caddying for Fred?" He said, "Well, he's about half a club longer than you. Took me a little time to adjust. Doesn't hit as many shots he likes to cut the ball." I said, "What was the biggest difference caddying for Fred and me?" He looked me straight in the eye and he said, "The quality of the women in the gallery." (Lots of laughter).
FRED COUPLES: I'll finish that story. Jimmy put more pressure on me to shoot a lower score than Nick, and actually we ended up 66 and 67 were incredible rounds, and I mean, Jimmy should have been mad. Joe was as happy as could be, because there was a time I was struggling a little bit with a lot of things and I was wearing Joe out. He would have ran to anybody. But that is true, and that's what Nick is all about. To say, sure, is like, wow. It was a lot of fun.
NICK PRICE: I did give it a little bit of thought.
FRED COUPLES: Right. (Laughter).
Q. I hope this gets as good an answer. I know from talking to him earlier this morning that one of the guys that you're trying to get to be your assistant captain has a definite idea of how to set up this course next year for The Presidents Cup. I wonder if you have thoughts on that already, if you like what Davis did at Medinah where he had the rough cut down because he wanted to see birdies where he wanted to get the crowd energized.
FRED COUPLES: Personally, the captains don't have any set up in the course. So I think Jack and his staff will set it up with the PGA TOUR the best way they can. I do know Davis talked to me several times. One of the things, I kind of saw on Sunday, I thought the pins were set up pretty difficult. And we were the ones in charge, I believe Davis worked with the superintendent. But he also worked with the course. The course had some struggles and they got it ready and it was beautiful. But the rough was very short and I think all 24 players love that. I mean, you could move the ball around a little bit. You could play it. Medinah is a very difficult second shot course, and obviously with eight inches of rough in the U.S. Open, it's a very demanding course off the tee, too.
But I actually really like that. I felt like it was remarkable golf. The first two days, you know, we look I'm just talking about the setup of the course and I'm thinking here, I keep looking at the 14th hole in the picture, and thinking, there's going to be possibly upwards of 20,000 or 30,000 on that hole I may be dreaming, but I'm sure Jack will move it up and guys will be going for that green. It's going to be the greatest hole next September and October.
And it's well when I won here, I played it well, but I don't like the hole at all. (Laughter) First of all, I wanted to hit driver every time I played it and that's why I keep staring at it. The rest of the holes are awesome. That hole I can't hit it with a 3 iron, and once I do, I can't hit the green with a 9 iron. But that's up to Jack and his staff and Tim and the PGA TOUR. I can't tell them to build eight inches of rough or no rough.
Q. What if Jack is your assistant?
FRED COUPLES: If Jack's my assistant, we have a nice little tea party we're going to have sometime in the near future.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy ASAP Sports.