THE PRESIDENTS CUP MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 7, 2017
It's my pleasure to introduce Steve Stricker who just earlier announced his two captain's selections to round out his 12 player team. Those two selections, Phil Mickelson and Charley Hoffman, are also on the call. Congratulations to each of you.
Captain Stricker, if you could get us started with a few opening comments.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, thank you, Amanda. Yeah, we're very excited our assistant captains, who make the decision on who we need to be a part of this team and to fill out the last two spots on this team.
Charley brings a unique dynamic. He's 40 year old rookie, which I feel is a positive to this team that's led by a lot of younger players.
I think Charley brings a great demeanor, a stability, and he's been playing great. He's had a great summer and knocked on the door of winning some tournaments a few times, and just hasn't punched through. But he's playing well and we look forward to having him.
And Phil, of course, has been a stalwart among these Presidents Cup teams. He adds so much to the team, and I've been able to witness that firsthand on a few. He's starting to play better. We love his attitude. Great in the team room, great on the golf course, and it's a guy that you, when you look at a team, it would be hard to imagine not having him on the team.
So it was great to see him play well last week, and finish in the Top 10 to make our decision a little bit easier to have him on the team, and we're so, so excited to have him on the team, as well as Charley.
AMANDA HERRINGTON: At this time we're going to open it up to questions for all three of you.
Q. Steve, I was wondering, if you have given any thought to whom might play with whom. Who is a good partner for Dustin Johnson? Who is a good partner for Jordan Spieth? Who is a good partner for Justin Thomas?
AMANDA HERRINGTON: We had a dropped line. If you can ask that question again. Steve's on the phone.
Q. I was wondering if you've given any thought to who you might pair with whom, and maybe it depends on the format; like who would you put with Dustin Johnson? Who would you put with Jordan Spieth? Who would you put with Justin Thomas?
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, well, we have some ideas but I don't think I'm going to tell you our ideas (laughing).
We're going over a lot of that now, and some of the past history has helped determine those questions. But it all depend on what format, I guess, that we would pair some of these guys together. But we're not sure on anything yet. You know, we're still talking about things and we probably won't finalize some of these pairings all the way up until, you know, the tournament week. You know, maybe even Tuesday, Wednesday of the tournament week.
It's a process. You want to see how your guys are playing. I think that's the most important part is see how they are playing, and how comfortable they are and then you go from there.
But yeah, we'll get some scenarios put down and we'll talk to everybody about it and see how comfortable they are with them, and then go from there.
Q. For Phil, I'm sure you wanted to make this team on points and you were trying hard to do that, but in some ways, is there a different level of gratification when you know how much the captains and these teammates want you to be part of this?
PHIL MICKELSON: Jeff, I totally agree with that. I think there's a lot of merit to that. I feel as although I wanted to make it on the points to be one of the picks because of the players and the captain and vice captains wanting you on the team, means as much as anything to me.
And although I've played on a number of these teams, my excitement level to be on this team is every bit as great as any team event I've played on.
To be able to play in the metropolitan area where the fans are so supportive and to feel that home course advantage that we cherish and always want to have is going to be exciting; and to do it on a golf course that I love; that I'm a member at, is just as meaningful.
Captain Stricker has been a very special person to me and my family and my wife. He and Nikki are just two of the greatest people. To have this opportunity to play for them, because he and the vice captains and the other teammates wanted me on, means as much to me as anything, yes.
Q. Do you remember the first spark between you and New York, as a California kid, was there one instance that got this thing rolling? It's been a pretty magical relationship.
PHIL MICKELSON: It really has been special. The way the people have treated me and my family has been remarkable. They are incredible sports fans. I'm excited to have a team event up there. I'm excited to have another team event in 2024 there with The Ryder Cup and I think that it's just a great place for the USA to play and compete.
I don't know what sparked it, but I'm certainly very appreciative, and I know that winning the PGA Championship there at Baltusrol was one of the coolest feelings, to feel that support. It really does mean a lot to me.
Q. For Phil and for Steve, what kind of advantage is it to have a course in the metropolitan area as the home course for an event like this?
PHIL MICKELSON: Captain?
STEVE STRICKER: You want me to go?
PHIL MICKELSON: Yeah, go ahead.
STEVE STRICKER: I just think it's an unbelievable spot. It's the melting pot of our great country. There's so many different people, nationalities, that live in that area. Many people came through New York to come to our country. It's very special. We see the city in the backdrop. We see the Statue of Liberty that signifies freedom. It's just a great place. I think it's a great match play course, and it should be a tremendous week for everybody involved. Can't get here fast enough as far as I'm concerned.
PHIL MICKELSON: I think it will be a great advantage to have the support from a crowd like we'll have, but it also can add pressure because you don't want to let them down and make sure that you perform for them.
When you're already representing the United States and you feel that pressure, it might even add to it. But I think more so, it will be a home course advantage.
But Captain Stricker said something earlier today in an interview, and he said our biggest concern, because we have such a good team with so many great players playing well; we can't be complacent because the quality of play on the International Team is stellar.
If we play our best and we're prepared, I believe we'll come out on top, for sure, but, they are an incredibly talented team and if we're not ready and we don't play our best and we come in there not sharp and we take some things for granted, we'll get beat. So that will be our biggest challenge is that he and I thought that Captain Stricker said it very well earlier.
Q. Charley, do you have any particular members of the team that you would enjoy playing with, and how excited are you to be a 40 year old rookie?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: Yeah, I'm going to follow the captain's leads and let them make a lot of those decisions about who I play with, but I'm here to play with anybody. And just to have the opportunity to be on that team there may be a few guys that I prefer but that's going to be between us and we're going to figure out some great, strong teams that are ready and prepared to play the International Team.
Q. And how excited are you to be on the team?
CHARLEY HOFFMAN: Yeah, it's one of those things where, you sort of dream of listen to all the guys talk about how great of an experience it is. I guess I don't know what I've been missing all these years, but after being a rookie at 40, I promise you, I'm going to want to be on those teams in years to come. I know it's going to be a great experience. I haven't played a team competition since, really, college. Obviously we won the National Championship back in '98 and that's obviously an experience that I'll never forget. Team golf is few and far between, and I can't wait to make my maiden voyage at 40, and couldn't be a better spot at Liberty National.
Q. There's so many 20 somethings on this U.S. Team. Curious to get your thoughts on what kind of nucleus this could start to build a U.S. run for a long time.
STEVE STRICKER: Yeah, you're right. It's an exciting time for U.S. Team competition I feel like, and it's up to this team this year to keep that momentum going that we got from last year's Ryder Cup Team. There's a strong nucleus of young players that are going to hopefully continue to shine and be on these teams and keep that ball rolling. But you just every event's different. You know, every event is a new event. We're going to have to be prepared and come ready to play, and it will be a challenge. They don't give them to you. So you've got to play well, make the putts.
But it is a very exciting time. Some of the older guys, you know, are still there, like Phil, but we had some losses that we were always contending with and hopefully these guys get on a run where they don't get that feeling of losing, and all they know is winning and continue to do that.
So it will be fun to watch, and an exciting time for golf.
PHIL MICKELSON: I think that you're right on with the amount of good, young talented players that are on this team. But I think a big part of this is going to be, you look at the leadership of this team with Captain Stricker, Fred Couples Tiger Woods, Jim Furyk, Davis Love, guys that have been on countless teams now.
You take that experience, and you get those guys in their early 20s, mid 20s, and helping them understand how to work together and how to create the environment for success going forward; and I think that the combination of those two elements are going to set these players, these young players up, for a lot of short and long term success in the team events.
Q. What do you like out of this group? You play a lot of golf with these guys. Is there a common thread? What do you really like in this crew?
PHIL MICKELSON: When you look at the players like Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler and the way they are with each other, supportive; not just the weeks of The Presidents Cup, Ryder Cup, but every single week, the camaraderie that they have and the friendship that we have with all players, it's a unique experience. I think it's one of the healthiest things for the game of golf, and these young players have really represented the game well and will continue to do so. They are just classy, fun, respectful people.
Q. What are your best memories in The Presidents Cup since 1993,1 994?
PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I think, gosh, there's been some incredible experiences, and I think that what has been so fun is the relationships that have lasted; and going back to 1994, my first one. And '96, playing with Fred Couples and Davis Love, and building a relationship to where we've maintained a friendship for decades now.
Those are the experiences that I cherish. Being in the team room, getting ready for a match, feeling the pressure, representing the United States of America, and sharing that with somebody on TOUR that we usually compete with; and sharing that experience creates a bond, and that bond has lasted for decades.
I look at that; what it has done for me with those players from the first Presidents Cup I've played on and I look at what it's done now with some of these younger guys with a couple of decades age difference, and how I feel about Rickie Fowler, having played with him now on some of these team events and experiencing these emotions and this pressure with him and this bond that I feel that and friendship that we have, you know, I'm double his age, basically, and it's a really cool thing. Those experiences are what I cherish most in The Presidents Cup.
AMANDA HERRINGTON: I'd like to hand it over to mark Williams, the International Team liaison. Steve, Phil, Charley, thanks for your time today.
MARK WILLIAMS: Thanks, Amanda. It's my pleasure to introduce the International Team Captain Nick Price, who has joined us, along with his two captain's selections, Emiliano Grillo and Anirban Lahiri.
Nick, if you could just make a few comments about your two picks today and your team overall to get it started, and from there we'll open it up to the media for questions from all three of you.
NICK PRICE: Sure, thanks. In the months preceding, the last three or four months, we were probably you know, we were still a little bit undecided to be honest. There was a lot of golf, obviously, with the majors and everything to be played.
So anybody who was back far enough, you know, in the 30s, say, on our points system; if they had a really good summer, they could make it into the team. And what's important for all of us is form.
I think that's what we look at. We look at the guys that are in form, the guys who have experience obviously here in the US was a big one for us. Obviously the New York crowd is incredible golf fans and they can be very supportive, you know, of their teams. But also, New York is very cosmopolitan. I think the International Team is going to get a lot more support there than some people are bargaining for.
But anyway, as we got a little closer to selection day, it was becoming more and more apparent to all of us. And I asked the players and also the co captains to the last couple of weeks, give me some ideas of who they felt.
Emiliano was unanimous before, basically, on Tuesday. Yesterday when we had our conference call, his name came up first, and that was it. It was done and dusted.
And then, you know, Anirban, he was almost at the top of a lot of our lists. There were three or four other guys that we were obviously looking at: Tanihara, Byeonghun An, Danny Lee, Graham DeLaet and also Scott Hend; guys who have played every here, Wang, who is obviously a really good, young player.
If any of these guys had played well, they would have improved their chances, but nobody had really a good summer. Byeonghun An didn't play very well. Graham DeLaet had a great start to the year and then sort of fell off, and he's also got I think he's got a back problem. In fact, I know he's got a back problem. So his health was questionable for us for the week.
But Anirban, he brings an awful lot to the team. His camaraderie and spirit at the last Presidents Cup was something that we all took notice of. He was wonderful in the team room and very enthusiastic, and he's got a great heart. Honestly, it didn't take us long to make the second decision, and probably one of the shortest conference calls I've ever been on in my life. That was really made it easy for me.
Q. Given how emotional you said that team room was on Sunday night in South Korea, how nice is it to be able to give Anirban another go around here at The Presidents Cup?
NICK PRICE: I think it's really important. You know, I spoke to him after that match on Sunday, and you know, there was obviously he was a little shellshocked. But I remember putting an arm around him and looked him square in the eye and said, "You're never going to feel pressure like that ever again." But I think he rose to the occasion. He hit a really good putt. He just misread it, and I think most of us knew that.
But you know, the emotion, you need that emotion, Jeff, as I said earlier. You've got to learn to lose before you really appreciate how to win. And I think we got so close last year, and that certainly has fueled the desire amongst these 12 guys, and I can tell you now, since they asked me to do it again back in April of last year in 2016, these guys are fired up.
They are really motivated and as you know, when you have a motivated team and you've got a lot of team spirit in there and good morale, the sky's the limit.
Q. Can I ask you as a follow, I know you're looking at your own team and all the things that you have going on there, but when you look across the fence to the U.S. Team that's loaded with 20 somethings, the Spieths and Thomas and Koepka and Rickie and Reed and Berger, what are your thoughts as to what that team might be heading into the next, you know, decade and a half, two decades?
NICK PRICE: Well, you know, as I think Steve Stricker and Phil Mickelson both said it very well. This is a young team, and they have to be wary that they don't take a little bit too overconfident.
But one of the things is 18 hole match play is so unpredictable. I just think that it's a great competition. It's great that it's wonderful that we've reduced the points to 30. I think that helped us an awful lot in South Korea.
But to be honest, I'm not looking at the quality of their team, and I'm not doing that just to say to put it to the side and bury my head in the sand. But I'm looking at the strength of our team, and we've got 12 exceptionally strong players on our team, and if they can all bring their A Games to The Presidents Cup, I think we're going to have a fantastic match.
Q. Just wondering how you think your two captain's picks will gel with some of the team leaders like Adam Scott, Jason Day and Charl Schwartzel?
NICK PRICE: Yeah, I think certainly Korea in 2015 was a good indicator of how well everybody got on. We had a wonderful buzz in our team room the whole week. You know, everyone was there with a sense of purpose. We've got a great mixture of guys to be honest with you, and we all love to play golf and we love to compete.
So I don't really think there's any the guys all respect each other, and you know, whether you're No. 12 on the team or whether you're No. 1 on the team, there's no distinction, honestly. We're one team. I know that sounds a little bit of a you know what I mean, it's just a little bit but honestly, the guys are wonderful like that. Everyone goes out and supports each other.
Q. The question that I had is, I know that New York is a little more of an international city than some other cities that you've played in, but how do you prep the younger players, being in that kind of atmosphere? A lot of them have fans in New York, but there's going to be times when the crowd is going to get rowdy, and it's something you don't see in singles play a lot.
NICK PRICE: Yeah, good point. That's one of the things that we thought about when we made our selections. We certainly looked at the guys who we felt, you know, would be able to handle some of the adverse comments that may come out of the gallery.
But you know what, I think New York fans are really fair. I think they may say things and they may shout names or whatever at guys, but if the guys take it on the chin, that shows they get a lot of respect from the New York fans. If other guys react differently as we know some of them have in the past, you know, that makes it very difficult for them in the future.
So you know, I have sort of encouraged the guys, if it's all is in good jest, I don't think there may be a few bad comments which may be personal and that. But you know what, we know that with New York fans. They get excited and they speak their minds. The guys know what to expect.
But it was important for us to have guys who play over here full time and who have played in the New York area before, and you know, it's going to be an experience for everyone; I think the first time The Presidents Cup or The Ryder Cup has been in the New York area for a long time. You know, I think it's going to be a learning curve for both teams.
Q. Can you tell me what Adam Hadwin will bring to your team, please?
NICK PRICE: Adam Hadwin is an explosive player to see the least. He's a guy that's not scared of going low. We've seen him shoot 59 before, but he can make a lot of birdies.
You know what I'm looking forward to more than anything else is the amount of Canadians that are going to come down to watch The Presidents Cup. I think there's going to be some phenomenal support for him.
You know, Mike Weir being Canadian as one of our assistant captains; I think that's going to be enough of a draw for us to get a lot of Canadian support.
But Adam is a very quiet guy. I don't know him very well. I've only met him on a couple of occasions, but when we exchange text messages, he's very motivated, and he has had The Presidents Cup in his sight and making this team for a long time. He's another guy who I think could spend, you know, could get on this team for five or six more Presidents Cups, another ten or 12 years, no problem.
Q. About Jason, are you concerned about the way he was playing this summer and the last few weeks?
NICK PRICE: Yeah, but I think he had a big start to the year, and I think he may not have played the right amount of tournaments for him, and I think that probably just you know, when you win early in the year, it kind of throws your year it can throw your year into sort of a little bit of disarray. But I think he's got over that now. He played really well last week ask also at the Bridgestone tournament in Akron. He is ready to play; I know he is.
Q. It's been a big trip for you starting in India and then going to the Asian Tour and then European Tour and now to the U.S. Do you feel like that progression has made you a stronger player?
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: Well, I think I've taken my opportunities as they have come along. I didn't go to college in the U.S., so unlike Emiliano and a lot of the other players, I didn't have that springboard of already having played here.
I think for me, it's happened at a natural progression. Obviously since the last Presidents Cup in South Korea, I've been here full time the last two years and I've learnt a lot and kind of adapt and made America my new home.
So yeah, a lot of experience also gained since the last Presidents Cup, and I'm really ready to go back.
Q. Emiliano, you won the Web.com Tour championship to get your PGA TOUR and then your first PGA TOUR event you played in, you won, and now you're on an international team. Did you expect to have so much success, so quickly?
EMILIANO GRILLO: You know, you always work really hard for it. So you expect big things of yourself, at least that's what I did. This is a dream come true. I've always worked for this and I've always wanted to be on this team.
I think this is a good time of the year. I'm playing very well, and I'm expecting to add a few points for the team.
Q. We spoke in April about you having, quote, unquote, unfinished business after what happened in Korea personally. Do you feel specifically fired up for that reason?
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: Yeah, it's been two years waiting. Obviously I've been wanting to get back on team ever since that day in Korea.
Obviously you know, it's something that I feel that I need to do. I felt like I let the team down, and I feel like I need to go back out there and contribute to the winning cause. I feel like in the last two years, I've kind of grown as a player. I've definitely learned a lot, after having moved here, played here, and I feel like I'm ready to go back out there and make a positive difference to the team.
Q. What specifics do you take from Korea itself in terms of being ready to hit the first ball on Thursday?
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: First thing, Nick has mentioned it a couple of times, some of the senior players from The Presidents Cup have mentioned it a few times before. I think in the tournaments past, in The Presidents Cup past, the Americans have come out very strong on Thursday and Friday. I think we've generally fought back quite well but the thing is, you don't want to get behind the 8 ball especially when you're playing in their backyard.
So I think it's going to help; the fact that, you know, I've played one before, and we know what to expect. I know personally what to expect. Because you have to experience it before you go out there.
So when you get to that first tee, it's not a Thursday morning. It's like the back nine on a Sunday when you're in contention right from the first tee shot on Thursday. That's the difference in the attitude that you have to have, and that's what I have learned, as well, from my past experiences.
So I think coming back to what you said, that's what the whole International Team will look to do I think starting on Thursday morning.
Q. I noticed that Quail Hollow in the final round you played with Adam Scott and guys really seemed to get along like a house on fire. Are you looking forward to playing in a team where he is the kind of stalwart; he's appearing for the eighth time, and do you think his enthusiasm is rubbing off on the younger guys like yourself?
ANIRBAN LAHIRI: Yeah, I think Adam is an inspiration to all of us, especially my generation. We've seen him play some of the best golf of his career, and he's absolutely magnificent. When he's in full flow, it's just amazing to watch him play.
Adam and I did play in Korea two years ago, and we enjoy playing with each other quite a bit. We played earlier in the year at The Scottish Open, and both of us had a good go on the Saturday I think it was a Sunday, rather.
Yeah, we form bonds and we form friend ships when we play events like this, and I think every time you see any, you know, Presidents Cup members who have been on teams together, any time you see them play, whether it's Branden, Louis, Charl, Marc, Adam, we all, we are like a family. It's like a bond that you form, so when you go out there and you're competing, you know, you want to do well. You want to win, but you also want them to do well. I think that's what The Presidents Cup breeds among us, even though we are competitors.
Q. Are you excited about the last couple of weeks and the form that Jason Day has shown after a bit of a disappointing year before that?
NICK PRICE: Yeah, Jason just gets on these streaks. He always has been a little bit of a streaky player, and when he's up and when he's not injured, the guy, he can shoot some really, really low numbers.
Unfortunately at Korea, Jason was really tired. We all knew and we could see that the whole summer of 2015 had taken its toll on him. Emotionally, I think he was drained. He came in, and he was a great team member, don't get me wrong, but we could all see the effects of what the summer had taken out of him.
I think Jason, again, is explosive. He can turn his game on any time, and I think these next two weeks, we could see some wonderful form from him. I'm pretty sure we will.
MARK WILLIAMS: We'd like to thank you, Nick, and Anirban and Emiliano for your time today. Thank you very much for attending this teleconference and we'll see you all on September 26.
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