Arnold Palmer brought the game to the masses in the early years of sports television with a unique blend of talent and charisma. He holds a number of U.S. Ryder Cup records, including most singles matches played and most matches won, hes tied for most singles matches won and most foursome matches won.
Gary Player is no stranger to international golf. The South African is widely regarded as the most traveled athlete in the world, closing in on 13 million miles. He has won 163 tournaments in five continents and was the third golfer to win the career Grand Slam. A victim of timing and geography, Player was never eligible for the Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup and had his first taste of large-scale international team competition at last years UBS Warburg Cup.
These two legends reprise their roles as captain of their respective teams in November at the second UBS Warburg Cup. Both men have overwhelmingly positive memories of the inaugural event and seem intent on carrying the success of 2001 in to this years edition.
Arnold, youre the most accomplished U.S. team player in history, what are your feelings as you look back over a career playing on and captaining Ryder Cup, Presidents Cup and UBS Warburg Cup teams?
Well, my feelings of course are fantastic. Many years ago I had the idea that golf competition internationally or between nations was a way of creating good feelings and good clean competition between the various countries of the world and the people that we involved, and I havent changed that thought at all. So, Im very proud about the fact that Ive been able to participate in the Ryder Cup, The Presidents Cup and the UBS Warburg Cup and of course I think that the initial USB Warburg Cup was one of the friendliest competitions that we have had. It was a fun situation and I think all the players, even though theyre getting a little older, enjoyed themselves very much.
Can you describe the mood of last years UBS Warburg Cup matches?
Well, it was fantastic, David. The fact that the players really got caught up in the magic of the competition. They were very motivated and each and every one of them enjoyed it, and it looked for long time like the U.S. was not going to come out of this competition on the topside. But it worked out very well and I think that made it more exciting and I think more enjoyable even for both teams.
Your playing days were defined by sportsmanship, style and dignity. How did you pass those characteristics to your UBS Warburg Cup team last year?
I dont know that I had a great deal to do with how the players played coming down the line. I know how I felt, playing against Gary, an old friend and certainly one of the most competitive people that Ive ever played with. In that competition, I felt very fortunate. Neither of us was playing exceptionally well and maybe I was just lucky to come out on the topside of that. But whatever, it was fun and of course, it stimulated a lot of people to enjoy that competition.
What do you hope to accomplish at the 2002 UBS Warburg Cup?
I would be very happy if we could accomplish the same things that we accomplished in the first competition. The camaraderie between the teams, the enjoyment that the players held seeing each other and competing against each other, and of course, Id be remiss if I didnt say that the same result would satisfy me very much.
Spirit, civility and sportsmanship were prevalent at the 2001 UBS Warburg Cup, how did you, as captain, help foster that attitude?
I said to our guys before we played, Look, we want to win this match very badly but lets behave properly. I said I dont want to see any guys coming out with crazy statements anything about, I dont like this guy or this or that. I said keep your feelings to yourself and go out and play. I said we are a team now, this is not an individual match, this is a team. I said youre representing the Rest of The World, not just yourself, and lets go out and try and beat them with the golf clubs, not with our mouths.
Your team seemed to take your words to heart, and from a spectators perspective it certainly seemed very refreshing, their opinions and their attitudes and the way they treated each other. From a competitive standpoint, how do you like your team?
Well I think weve got a very good chance. Last year we lost by half a point and that made it such an exciting event. And I think the UBS Warburg Cup playing in Georgia this year it is going to have great crowds. And for Arnold to captain the United States, is a thrill for me to have my team play his team because Arnold and I, as you know, have grown up together and I certainly have a lot of respect for him.
As he does for you. Any special strategies to look for this year?
You know, I get together with my team because there will always be a different team from year to year and I say to them, who do you feel comfortable playing with? I think thats very important, I must say. So theres a lot of discussion that goes on when you have a team.
In the final, from a competitive standpoint and a sportsmanship standpoint, what do you hope to see at Sea Island this year?
Id like the galleries to come out and see that you can be competitive and yet still be a gentleman. The thing is, weve got to remember that there are hundreds of millions of young people that are looking and watching us, and weve got to set the example for the youth. Winston Churchill said the youth of our nation are the trustees of posterity. And so it is up to us to set the example for these young people so that they can follow suit. When they see people waving flags and screaming miss and war on the shore, and I hate this guy; and this and that, that breeds the wrong message to young people. As it is, television injects children with an attitude of crime. Weve got to try and balance that and get a good message across to young people and I think this is a wonderful example of doing it.