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Norman Looks for Format Changes in Future Presidents Cups
Captain Greg Norman was disappointed that his International team couldn't pull off a win on their home turf of Royal Melbourne Golf Club. He, along with various observers, believed that the "Great White Shark" had a squad of players with diverse ages, experience and skills necessary to wrest the Presidents Cup away from the Americans.
But that didn't come to pass as the U.S. beat their hosts, 19-15. Entering the final round of singles matches with a 13-9 deficit, the Internationals made things interesting by winning the first four matches. But the tension was only temporary, as Hunter Mahan and Nick Watney beat their opponents, and Tiger Woods got the winning point after getting past Aussie Aaron Baddeley 4 and 3.
During a press conference after the awards ceremony, Norman said he'd like the PGA Tour - which oversees the Presidents Cup - to give the host team the option of determining match formats. Right now, the four-day Presidents Cup involves foursomes on Thursday, four-balls on Friday, followed by foursomes on Saturday morning and four-balls in the afternoon, with Sunday devoted to the 12 singles matches.
Norman, in particular, lamented the inability of his team in the foursome (alternate-shot) format, due mainly to their inexperience. "I was asked as soon as I walked into the team cabin tonight, could you please put down your bullet points of suggestions on what you think," Norman said. "I go, okay, I'm going to give you two right now so I don't forget. And those are the two that hit me the hardest and quickest.
"We do get our cage rattled a little bit in the foursome match. And it does rattle us because we don't like getting beaten; so maybe just getting our confidence level off. What's wrong with the host nation of having the choice of the format anyway? I think that's a pretty - you just add to the flavor of the event; creating and capitalizing on it, and the Americans do it every year. And once the Internationals get used to it, they might just revert back to it. It's a win/win for all. I don't see any negative at all."
Here's what else Norman said about the changes he'd like to see, He was accompanied by a few other International team members during a Q&A with reporters Sunday evening.
MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you, and we would like to present to you the International Team. Captain Norman, if you would just open it up and just make a couple of comments about your team, the way it bonded, the way you played this week.
GREG NORMAN: Captain Norman - please, please, I'm going to hand ball over to my -- you want me to say something? (Turning to Geoff Ogilvy). I asked all 12 guys to come in here along with Frank and Tim for a reason, and I think a lot of you have had a chance to speak to each and every one of them individually, as four of them came in here during the week. But it's all about team, integrity and team unit. There were a lot of questions asked this week about, do we have it, do we have it, do we have it. I just wanted to show everybody that we do have it. Even in a loss, and I think the victory that we had coming out of 2011 just as much as 2009 as a captain is the fact that all of these guys are sitting up here today.
It's been an honor; it's been a privilege to work with them. Obviously today, our game plan worked partially. Getting Ryo out first, getting K.T. out first, getting Charl out there, putting the runs on the board like they did, they did their job. They wanted that job. They wanted that responsibility, and they got it, and they performed. Obviously the Americans are looking at the television and the replays of late in the last hour, and Jim Furyks of the world and Tiger Woods, they made a lot of putts and they kept our guys out of the match. I think if you look back over it, it came down to just that. And when you look back over the whole -- all of the days of competition, our foursomes let us down, no question about it. I said in the beginning that it was going to be the hardest one for us and it turned out to be the case.
I think as players sitting up here, it's very difficult for us to prepare for an alternate-shot format, because we don't do it. If you look at the U.S. Team, probably 30 percent, 40 percent, maybe even more sometimes play in the Ryder Cup, so they get the experience and the feel for that. So they get the ability to hand on any knowledge or information that they can. But that being said, you go outside the foursomes, my guys, these guys here, held their own. And if we get that in a little better balance, these guys can definitely walk away winning more Presidents Cups than losing Presidents Cups, I can tell you that. So I'm going to leave it up to them to answer some questions, but it's been a privilege and an honor. I think from a standpoint of just the playability of the golf course and the weather conditions, these guys stood up to the test of absolutely everything, and the game of golf, the Presidents Cup, really were the winners out of the whole thing.
Q. Greg just addressed this, but as a future captain, I would like to get your thoughts on the foursome play. You struggled so much in the foursome play. How do you fix that?
ERNIE ELS: Well, that's the million dollar question, isn't it? I thought what Greg tried this week was the right game plan. A lot of us have got a lot of experience around Royal Melbourne. A lot of the guys on the team are absolute rookies at Royal Melbourne, and as we all know, you need to know the course to know how to play it. We got together as a group, a great group of guys, all winners, all champions. You know, my personal match with Ryo and against Bubba and Webb, you know, we just got out-played. I thought we played good enough. We might have won some points playing other matches, but it didn't work out that way. It's a bit of a mystery. Like I said, I think we did what we could.
Greg and Tim and Frank really thought it through, and I thought we had good match-ups. How do we fix it? I think we are so bad at it, and every year we start The Presidents Cup with foursomes. You know, especially if we have a home-field advantage, why don't we start with something different, you know. Let's start with four-ball matches, maybe that's the answer. (Smiling).
Q. To Ryo and Kyung-tae Kim, can you tell us about your experience this week, and what will you most take away from here?
RYO ISHIKAWA: My best experience this time is that I was able to play with a great player, Ernie, and thank you very much for that. Even though I played with such a world's best player, I was very sorry that I could only win one out of two of our foursome matches, and I feel very sorry for you. Last night, captain Greg Norman came to talk to us in person, and told us that "you can win tomorrow." I did my best and actually I did my duty. I think we had a very good International Team this time. I'm looking forward to the next occasion.
K.T. KIM: It's been a very great experience, a fun experience, apart from it being such an honor and privilege to play on such a great team. To play with 11 of the world's greatest players, and to have teamed up with one great captain, and two great captain assistants, is in itself quite an experience for me. I don't know where else I could find such an experience. It brought back a lot of good memories of why I started golf, and I think that I will bring home with me a lot of confidence and a lot of encouragement that I have received over the past week. I do believe that this will be a solid foundation for me going forward and playing other tournaments and bigger Tour events.
Q. Can you give us your thoughts on how Tiger played in that match?
AARON BADDELEY: Yeah, that was pretty much the difference. I felt like Tiger played very well all day. He hit the ball -- he hit the ball nice. I felt like I played really good, as well. I had a lot of opportunities to make birdies out there. I just wasn't able to convert any putts, and he did. He didn't miss a putt inside 20 feet. So that was the difference. Unfortunately I just couldn't get any momentum going my way to try and get a comeback. He played well.
Q. You said earlier that this is probably your last time as captain, and they haven't said who the next captain is going to be, would you be interested in coming back as an assistant captain?
GREG NORMAN: That's going to be totally up to the captain. I'm always open for the betterment of the game and the Presidents Cup. I made a couple of suggestions already to the powers that be back in Jacksonville to make this Presidents Cup a little bit better from my team's perspective, which I think is a really important thing. Any golf tournament has got to be fine-tuned every year. No matter whether we play a golf tournament, whether we win or lose, we always go back and look at what we can or could improve on. Presidents Cup has got to do, that as well. We are always going to strive to get this event better and better and better, and how we do that is seek those that have experienced it, especially for the last four years. I've spoken to Frank Nobilo about this and I've spoken to Tim Clark about this, and we have a lot of information. I want to see these guys perform to the best of their ability, but we also have to pave the right way for them to do that.
If coming back or getting an invitation to be involved again in the future -- obviously I would very much consider that, no question about it. I think as we look into the future, as we look into Korea, for example, you know, Columbus, Ohio, a lot of guys have a place in the United States, so it will be a little easier for the internationals to make a trip to Columbus, Ohio. But as we look out to 2015, for all of these guys that could be on that team, I want to make sure that the information I can supply makes that journey to South Korea a better journey for them; and make that event in South Korea a great event, because Korean golf is just -- look the three Koreans we have on the team here and the way they have played this week. So we have to make sure we capitalize on that. Just because we lost doesn't mean to say we didn't win. At the end of the day, we have to make the Presidents Cup a better event for it. So, yes, a long answer to your question is, yes, I would consider it.
Q. Fred Couples said that felt that a lot of your guys came out hitting driver on the first hole and that that was maybe a way that you were trying to make a statement. Was that true, or do you leave the strategy of how to play the golf course and holes like that up to your guys?
GREG NORMAN: Look, I leave the strategy up to the guys. If they ask me a question, what do you think, I'm going to give them an answer. That pin position today, I know to get access to that pin, you have to be long and right. I haven't seen the results of what happened on the first hole, but you know, the guys did go to that tee with a thought process in mind. They have got great caddies on their bag. They know their games well enough, and they are not on this team because they can't play; they are on the team because they can play. Like I said earlier, it happened on the golf course, too, when I was out there. Players and caddies would come up and ask me a question, what do you think. And most of the time, I would relay it through the caddie and not directly to the player, because it's easier that way because the player is deep in thought about how he wants to play his shot himself. Look, any outside information is a great help. You can reject it or you can accept it, whichever way you want.
Q. Greg, do you think that the solution to the problem with the foursomes may be to find a game in the alternate year for the international players in some form or another?
GREG NORMAN: Look, I'm in agreement with Ernie. I don't think you should start foursome, four-ball, foursome, four-ball. I think it should be the host nation's opportunity to dictate how the format is played. I think the host nation should have the opportunity to defer on their choices; we talked about this week. I also think the International Team captain should have four picks, not two. And the reason why -- I brought this point up with Commissioner Finchem two years ago right after 2009. And I make a very valid case for it, too, and I made a very valid case in my opening speech about the base of golfers that the International Team comes from, outside of Europe; about 300 million strong population-wise. I have a much more diverse cross-section, or the captain has, a much more diverse cross-section of a base of golfers to go to. And we don't get to play week-in, week-out like the Americans do with the Americans all the time.
So for future captains going forward, we need to have the opportunity for what we see, as international captains, as international players, to balance out our team for what we see as the right move. And everybody says, well, you're trying to keep the criteria the same about the selection of the respective teams. Well, the International Team goes on World Ranking points. The American Team goes on prize money. So there is a differentiator right there. So to open this thing up a little bit more and to give the future captains of the International Team the ability -- because I had three other guys on my team that could have easily been on my team, but I couldn't put on my team. The top eight are going to get in anyway. So the top No. 9 or 10 would probably get in any way. So it just gives the opportunity for the captain to build a business. I hope the PGA Tour listens. I am going to put it in a report back to the PGA Tour, because they have asked me for feedback. Again, we are just building on the tournament and how to make it better for these guys here.
Q. The suggestion to Ponte Vedra, I'm assuming foursomes first, and also the four captain's picks, are there other suggestions you made to help improve the competition?
GREG NORMAN: There will be, Jeff. I was asked as soon as I walked into the team cabin tonight, could you please put down your bullet points of suggestions on what you think. I go, okay, I'm going to give you two right now so I don't forget. And those are the two that hit me the hardest and quickest. We do get our cage rattled a little bit in the foursome match. And it does rattle us because we don't like getting beaten; so maybe just getting our confidence level off. What's wrong with the host nation of having the choice of the format anyway? I think that's a pretty - you just add to the flavor of the event; creating and capitalizing on it, and the Americans do it every year. And once the Internationals get used to it, they might just revert back to it. It's a win/win for all. I don't see any negative at all.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.
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