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THE RYDER CUP ANNOUNCEMENT
September 2, 2014
SCOTT CROCKETT:¬† Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, my name is Scott Crockett, Communications Director for The European Tour and it's my great pleasure to welcome you to the beautiful ballroom here at Wentworth Club for what's a very special day in the journey towards The Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
On Thursday, August 29, 2013,53 weeks ago, the very first shot was struck in the race to qualify for the European Ryder Cup Team.¬† The man who hit that shot was the man sitting to my left, European captain, Paul McGinley.¬† And so it's highly appropriate that now with only 24 days until the first match shot is struck, that Paul is here to put the finishing touches to that team.
Before we hear from the captain I'd like to recognize a few special people in the audience.¬† Ryder Cup is very much a partnership between many organisations and none more so than between the three facets of Ryder Cup Europe itself.
I'm there for delighted to welcome from the European Tour, Chief Executive George O'Grady and Ryder Cup Director, Richard Hills.¬† From the Professional Golfers Association, Chief Executive, Sandy Jones and from the PGAs of Europe, the Chief Executive, Ian Randell.
The Ryder Cup will, of course, be played in Scotland for only the second time in its history this month and while many people of proud of that fact, one of the proudest is also here with us today, from EventScotland, the Chief Operating Officer, Paul Bush.
Finally, I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome the representatives from several of our Ryder Cup Official Partners who travelled to be with us here today.¬† Ladies and gentlemen, you're all most welcome.
Without further ado, it's my great pleasure to hand it over to European Ryder Cup Captain, Mr.Paul McGinley.
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† Thank you, Scott.¬† It's a great honour for me as Ryder Cup Captain to be sitting here about to complete the team that will face the Americans at the end of this month.¬† I'm in a very privileged position that I had a variety of choices.
And it goes a long way, it says a lot about The European Tour and the standards we have now in Europe the quality of picks that I have and how far we've come over the years for me to have such an abundance of talent to choose from.
So with no further ado, the three picks that I have chosen complement the nine players who are already in place.¬† Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Victor Dubuisson, Jamie Donaldson, Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose, Martin Kaymer, Thomas Bj√∂rn and Graeme McDowell, will be joined by Stephen Gallacher, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood.
SCOTT CROCKETT:¬† Thank you very much.¬† Before we take questions from the media on the selections you have just announced, give us your initial thoughts on the three wild card selections.
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† Initial thoughts that I'm a very lucky man for a start to have such a variety of talent, as I say, to choose from.¬† There's some real quality players who have performed incredibly well, who are not going to make the team, and it was a very difficult, obviously, call to those guys involved.
But on the positive side, I think we have three players that will add a lot to the nine already qualified, and make The European Team as strong as it needs to be to take on the might of America.
Q.¬† With regards to Stephen, what particular qualities do you see in him both in attitudes and his golf game that helped you make this decision and how much did last week's performance influence you?
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† I think his performance last week in Italy under the spotlight was huge.¬† You look back on the end of his career, and whatever he may go on to achieve has been one of his highlights, if not the most highlight.¬† I know from experience; I look back on my career as I come to the close of it now, and my performance in 2004 in the very, very last event to just get my head in front and make the team, I look back on that as probably my proudest moment as a professional golfer.
Stevie will feel like that this morning.¬† What he did, how he did it, all credit to him.¬† I spoke last week about dashing for the finishing line, being gravitated towards the finishing line, being excited about the finishing line; Stevie did all of those, so all credit to him.
Q.¬† Luke Donald misses out.¬† How did he take the news and what was the conversation between the two of you like?
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† That was a very, very difficult conversation for a number of reasons, personal more than anything else to be quite honest.¬† My relationship with Luke is very close.¬† He's a guy that he played his first ever Ryder Cup match, I was his partner in 2004.¬† He's played in ‑‑ every Ryder Cuphe's been involved in, I've been involved in.¬† The only one we missed recently in 2008; both of us missed the same one.
So three as a player; for me, I played twice with Luke on the team in 2004, 2006, and obviously vice captained him in 2010 and 2012.¬† And it was very much my brief from the two captains, Colin Montgomerie and Jos√© Maria, that Luke was one of the guys that I was kind of looking after, and I forged a very strong relationship with him for a number of reasons.
He's been an incredible performer over the years.¬† His record in The Ryder Cup is absolutely outstanding, and he's a player that no doubt will go on to make many more appearances in The Ryder Cup and it was a very, very, very difficult call for me to make, but one I had to do in the interests of The European Team.
Q.¬† In regard to the three that have made it, what sense of excitement did you get from them, and what does it feel like now to look at that board and see a complete team of 12 players?
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† I think excitement is the word.¬† It's excitement that I want the players to feel, and it was certainly that.
Stephen Gallacher, as you can imagine, I said, Stevie, you can go and have a drink and celebrate, and he said, okay, can I go and have a drink?¬† He is taking this serious, no doubt.¬† Very proud for him, obviously, being Scottish.¬† Again, I'm lucky having played a Ryder Cup in my home country, I know what it's going to feel like for Stevie and how proud he will be and his family, as well.
Lee, despite the fact that he's played so many Ryder Cups, and I think this is going to be his ninth appearance, was a real sense of pride on the phone with Lee that he had made another team.¬† Very gracious, and very humble about the fact that he was going to be on this team.
And while Ian Poulter is a bundle of energy whenever you speak to him, you can feel the energy coming down the phone.¬† So obviously great excitement.¬† They were easy phone calls, I have to say, and the difficult ones were made, as well, too, and Francesco Molinari, I want to mention, too, was a very serious contender and given a lot of thought and a lot of consideration.
And again, just like Luke, incredibly humble and incredibly accepting of my decision on the phone even though it was a very difficult call to make.¬† I could not have asked for two guys to accept the decision in a better way and I think it speaks volumes not just for them as golfers but as people, as well.
Q.¬† What did Luke Donald actually say to you when you told him the news?
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† He was very, very disappointed, and rightly so.¬† He's a former world No. 1.¬† His record in The Ryder Cup stands with anybody in the game.
As I say, my personal relationship goes right back to the first ever shot he hit in The Ryder Cup; I was his partner.¬† He said:¬† "You know, Paul, I publically backed you to be the captain.¬† Even though you have not picked me, I still believe you'll be a great captain."¬† His last few words were, "Go Europe."¬† I think that says a lot about Luke.
Q.¬† Did he sound emotional or did he take it in an expectant sort of way?
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† No, he wasn't expectant.¬† He was very disappointed.
Q.¬† Just to expand on that a bit, at what stage did you make the call to Luke?¬† Was it when he finished his round last night or earlier this morning?
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† Well, I texted all the players the night before to say I would not be calling them.¬† Don't expect a call until after tee time, U.K. time.
So they knew that the phone call was not going to come during the day.¬† I told Stevie Gallacher, it will be a long day for him.¬† I said, Stevie, we have to assess a lot of things and there's still some players waiting in America and I want the game to be finished and well finished before I made any calls to anybody.¬† So I gave plenty of time, and made my phone calls then.¬† So it was around 8.30 last night U.K. time when I made the calls.
Q.¬† You mentioned Francesco.¬† How many other calls did you have to make to players?
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† Well, Lee Westwood was 16th in the points list, and I called everybody ahead of Lee in terms of the points; so obviously Francesco.
And I also called Bernhard Langer, as well, too, out of respect for than anything else.¬† He wasn't a consideration in terms of a pick but as an ex‑captain and a captain that I played under, I called him.¬† Unfortunately didn't get a hold of him.¬† Tried a couple of times and left a message for him and I really want to have a chat with him before The Ryder Cup starts, mostly because obviously he was a captain that I played under and I obviously learned a lot from him and I'm interested to hear his views on a number of things.¬†
Q.¬† Can you tell us what Stevie Gallacher's first words were to you, and was there a concern at all‑‑
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† His first words were:¬† "That's brilliant, wee man."¬†¬†¬† (Laughing).¬† Of course, it's a concern for me that he's a rookie and it's very difficult to take a rookie in a Ryder Cup.
But I've said all along from day one, I'm not afraid to pick a rookie if he proved himself and there's no doubt that Stevie Gallacher has proved himself and earned his spot on this team.¬† He was up against it.¬† As a rookie, you've got to do a little bit more to earn a pick, and I think Stevie did a little bit more; more than a little bit more.
The performance last week, in particular, had a huge effect on me.¬† I reached out to him through the media.¬† I reached out with him personally.¬† And later on in the line, I would like to think that I was very honest and open in the lead up to it and I wanted to give them all an opportunity of making the team and knowing where they stood.
I always thought as a player that I would like to know where I stand a month before and not kind of guessing what the captain is thinking.¬† I would like to hear there the captain exactly where he thinks I'm at and what the permutations are.
Stevie had the goal last week.¬† He really had the goal last week.¬† He played poorly, relatively poorly for three weeks in a row in America there at a crucial time in the qualifying process around the US PGA time.¬† He came back and he had a decent performance in Czechoslovakia, and he needed a big performance last week.¬† To stand up to the plate; and people talk about Sunday where he shot the second best score of the day in 65 and that was a tremendous score obviously.
But for me, the afternoon on Friday, that's when he really, really showed that he wanted to be a Ryder Cup player.¬† To go out, I think he was 14 shots behind the leader at that stage, knowing he was a one, two, finish, and to come home in 30; to get himself within touching distance of the leaders, that showed a lot.¬† And then to follow it up with a very strong weekend, as well, too.
Q.¬† Now that you've completed your 12‑man team, when would you be planning to complete your backroom team with the additional two assistant captains?
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† We will be making an announcement within the next 48 hours regarding that.
Q.¬† Did you literally after the tee times yesterday sit down with a piece of paper and put the names down and cross each one out?¬† What was the actual protocol, the process, that you went through, to get those last three names?
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† Well, the protocol was quite simple.¬† Des Smyth and Sam Torrance were very much part of it.¬† We met at the club I'm a member of up here, Queenwood.¬† We had a private room.¬† We played golf, first of all in the morning, because I was aware the golf was on in America and there was not a lot we could do while the guys were still competing in America.
We conversed a little bit obviously on the golf course.¬† We came in, had a bite of food and sat down and analysed a lot of the statistics that we have been following.¬† Had a short presentation on those from the statistics guys.¬† Didn't last very long but it was very short and concise.¬† We reconvened and we had a bit of a chat regarding it.¬† We were all very much on the same lines.
We went away, had a shower, came back, had dinner around 7.00 and firmed up our ideas at that stage.¬† So it was a process but it wasn't a process that just started yesterday on the golf course yesterday morning.¬† But it's a process that's been formulating with my communication with those two guys in particular over the last month in particular where we've been communicating on a very regular basis as we got closer and closer to the picks.
Q.¬† I just wondered, you were mentioning Stephen's performance in Italy.¬† How important is it for you to have players going into Gleneagles with that sort of momentum, not just players like Stephen, but players like Jamie Donaldson, as well?
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† Well, again, speaking from experience, I do believe my form was best going into 2004 and I went on to play what I believe to be my best Ryder Cup at that time.
So I use a lot of my own personal experiences and how the players will feel and how did they feel and what it must be like in their shoes.¬† I try to put myself in their shoes and what they feel and they would like the captain to say to them and analysing where exactly they are.
So form is very important.¬† But then the question will be, well, maybe Ian Poulter's form has not been particularly as strong as other players, but obviously there's other reasons why Ian Poulter has been a pick.¬† And Lee Westwood, while he's shown a lot of glimpses of form in the last month in particular, again, there's other reasons why he was a pick, as well, too.
So it wasn't just a case of, although we looked at statistics and looked at form, to be honest, it was a reference more than any big decision regarding the picks.¬† The picks were and always will be based on the captain's instincts along with the views of others, vice captains or people that he may share confidences with.
Q.¬† Now that you've picked Stephen Gallacher entirely on merit, have you had a thought about an influence that he may have at a Scottish Ryder Cup, the local boy, just 35 miles down the road and what sort of impact he will have with the galleries in Gleneagles that week?
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† Of course that's a factor.¬† It's a factor and my personal relationship with Stevie is very strong and always has been but I couldn't let that get involved in the decision‑making, and I couldn't let the fact that he was Scottish playing in his hometown become a massive reason as to why he should get the pick.¬† He had to earn his place.
And he really went out and earned his spot.¬† He finished 10th in the standings.¬† He was the next man in.¬† If I had kept the process in place that Jos√© Maria had, he would have qualified.¬† He went out and he grabbed it with both hands and he showed how much he wanted to be a Ryder Cup player.¬† And that, to me, was the biggest influence of him being on The Ryder Cup 2014.
The fact that he's Scottish is wonderful.¬† The fact that he's got great record around that golf course obviously had an effect, as well, too, in terms of my decision making.¬† But a lot of things went in and I have to say, everybody was considered very, very carefully.¬† It boiled down to five players in particular and they are the five that we really focused on most of yesterday.
Q.¬† On Sunday you said on SKY Sports that the next 24 hours are going to be the hardest of your rein so far.¬† Did they live up to that bill, the 24 hours?¬† Has it been a really stressful period and are you feeling relieved now?
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† I wouldn't say I'm relieved.¬† I'm very excited about the team that we have in place as you can see on the board.¬† I mean, that's a real, real quality team that we have in Europe.
The picks were always going to be difficult.¬† From day one, they were going to be difficult.¬† And I think the success that we have on The European Tour and the standards we have on European Tour, I think every Ryder Cup Captain, European Ryder Cup Captain going forward is going to be in a similar‑‑ have similar difficult decisions that I had to make.
Particularly my personal relationships with a number of the players.¬† Francesco, as well, too, I know extremely well, and just a class act.¬† And again, the word that he spoke to me what I gave him the bad news; again, that will remain with me forever what he said.¬† The same with Luke.¬† And that was always going to be difficult.¬† That was always going to be very, very difficult.
Joost Luiten was another kid that raised the gallop and looked like at one stage like he was going to make the team.¬† And, it was tough.¬† It was tough.¬† But I wanted to take my time and I wanted to be really cold about the decision making that we were going to do, because I had to make the decision, not based on my personal relationships; obviously based on what's best for Europe.
Q.¬† You said there were reasons for picking Lee Westwood.¬† Just wondering what reasons there were, over, say, a Luke Donald if you could enlighten us.
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† Yeah, very difficult, very, very difficult.¬† Two former world No. 1s, not a lot between them to be quite honest.¬† Both of them have been pillars in The Ryder Cup in terms of success.¬† Lee has played nine.¬† This will be his ninth appearance; I think this is a guy who if you look back to the 1990s, he partnered Nick Faldo in 1997 right through to where he is now.
I think Lee's performance during the month of August there, coming off the back of four missed cuts and having a very strong finish in Firestone, and then going onto play a very strong PGA, certainly showed that he wanted to be on this team for me.
And basically, it came down to form between the two players, and ultimately, although I think Luke is going to show some form very shortly and I think he's certainly on the right tracks in terms of where his game is coming.¬† For me, just Lee slightly pipped him.¬† As I say, it's difficult.¬† I would have loved to have Luke on the team.¬† As I say, it's going to be strange for me on a Ryder Cup team, never having been in a Ryder Cup environment without Luke before.¬† He's a guy I have a lot of affection for and a lot of respect for in this game, and it was a very, very tough call obviously.
SCOTT CROCKETT:¬† We've heard through the wild cards are and we've heard the reasons they can I think perhaps now is the time to speak to the wild cards themselves.
Lee, just give us your thoughts on being selected to play in your ninth Ryder Cup, a fantastic achievement.
LEE WESTWOOD:¬† Yeah, obviously delighted, Scott.¬† The Ryder Cup has always been a massive thing in my career.¬† Delighted to get the call yesterday afternoon from Paul.¬† It was a long day yesterday, and obviously when Paul rang, breathed a sigh of relief.
Played a lot better the last month, month and a half, and Paul asked me to show some form, gave him some reason to pick me and I think I did that, especially at Bridgestone in the final round, and then came out of the blocks the following week and led at the PGA Championship.¬† Delighted and honoured to be representing Europe again.
SCOTT CROCKETT:¬† Stephen or Ian, are you there?¬† Stephen, just give us your thoughts on being selected for Paul's team.
IAN POULTER:¬† Good morning, guys, I can hear you.¬† (Laughter).
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† Poulter's never beaten (laughter).
SCOTT CROCKETT:¬† Congratulations for A, getting on the team, and B, making the phone call.¬† Just give us your thoughts on once again playing in The Ryder Cup.
IAN POULTER:¬† Well, absolutely thrilled.¬† Obviously to accept the call last night from Paul was amazing, and I just can't wait to be at Gleneagles.¬† I think it's going to be a fantastic team.¬† I'm very, very proud to be a pick and I just can't wait to get there.¬† Ryder Cup means a lot to me and I guarantee I'll be ready to perform to my best.
Q.¬† I was just going to ask you, what does this mean to you, bearing in mind the family history you have in The Ryder Cup, to finally follow in your uncle's footsteps; how special is this moment?
STEPHEN GALLACHER:¬† It's massive for me and my family.¬† It's been a goal of mine all my days to get in, and I was just delighted what I got the call yesterday from Paul.
Q.¬† And the captain is telling us that he gave you special permission to have a drink last night; was there a good celebration yesterday?
STEPHEN GALLACHER:¬† It was a long day yesterday, definitely a long day.¬† Don't know about my nerves but a couple of drinks settled me down nicely.¬† (Laughter).
Q.¬† I just wonder, Paul mentioned that this was probably the toughest selection race he's seen.¬† Do you feel this was the toughest team that you've had to try and get on?¬† Was this the toughest team anyone's tried to make for Europe?
LEE WESTWOOD:¬† I think The European Team just gets harder and harder to make every couple of years.¬† Strength and depth on Tour, it's phenomenal now.¬† It's not easy; a lot of us play over here in the States and don't play in Europe as much as we'd like to.¬† I guess that's why Paul's captain.¬† Made a difficult decision.¬† When you look at the people that missed out, you can't argue that it's strong guys.
IAN POULTER:¬† Absolutely, it's always difficult to make a Ryder Cup Team, and you know, this one, no different.¬† The players that only just miss out and the players that rallied hard at the end and tried to obviously show a lot of form to put Paul under pressure to make picks.¬† Paul had a very difficult decision with some fantastic players to pick from.¬† So, yeah, I mean, the Ryder Cups are very difficult to make.
Q.¬† You played on quite a few teams with Luke.¬† Can you just articulate any sympathy that you feel for Luke at the moment with him not making the team?
LEE WESTWOOD:¬† I reckon Luke will be very disappointed.¬† But those are the decisions the captain has to make.¬† At the end of the day, he goes with his gut feeling.¬† He's got to be, like he said, very cold in making his decisions and personal relationships can't come into that.¬† He has to make the team up that he sees right.
I have no idea what process Paul went through but obviously I'm pleased that he picked me.¬† But having partnered Luke a couple of times and seen what a good Ryder Cup player he is, you know, I'm obviously disappointed for him and I'm sure he'll be very disappointed.
Q.¬† Given the circumstances on Sunday and, in fact, all four days last week, is that the proudest you've been of yourself on a golf course, and also, is it your biggest achievement?¬† I know you've won tournaments, but was that even bigger, perhaps?
STEPHEN GALLACHER:¬† I would say it was, yes.¬† I think having to go out there and know what I needed to do, finish first or second.¬† And I gave it my best shot, you know, I finished third and a fantastic round the last round.¬† But I think for me to know that when I had to deliver and do it and I've done it is just satisfaction for me, really.
Q.¬† When you finished on the 18th on Sunday in Italy, and you missed out on automatic qualification by one shot, I'm just wondering what your emotions were at that point, and secondly, did you still sense that you had done enough?
STEPHEN GALLACHER:¬† My emotions were a bit mixed, really.¬† I was delighted with the way I played and I was disappointed I didn't qualify automatically.¬† You know, I still had it in the back of my head that I was up against a lot of really good players for the picks, as well.¬† You know, the easiest thing for me to do was to finish second to Garcia (ph) but it was a tall order.¬† I didn't really have a clue what was going to happen.¬† It was a really long day yesterday but it was all worth it in the end.
Q.¬† There's no denying your brilliant Ryder Cup record, of course, with 12 points.¬† Your season has not gone according to plan the way you would have wanted it to have gone with a few injuries but a successful few days you've just had in the States, some solid golf, would you say, and how do you feel that your form is right now as we speak.
IAN POULTER:¬† I wouldn't say the form last week was solid.¬† I had 24 birdies and 17 bogeys, but I guess that's‑‑ making so many birdies.
My body is in a lot better shape than it was in the middle of the season.¬† I've done a lot of hard work in the last three months, and the hard work was needed to get me through the difficulties of the start of the year.
But right now, I'm very happy with my game, the way the game is come around.¬† I've got three weeks now to prepare to be ready for Paul's Ryder Cup Team, and you know, I get very fired up for The Ryder Cup; I get very motivated.¬† I tried very hard to make the team on merit and unfortunately wasn't quite good enough.¬† So I had to rely on getting the phone call from Paul.
But three weeks, a lot of work has been done in the last three months like I just said, and I feel very confident where my game is right now that in three weeks' time, it's going to be even stronger.¬† The good thing and exciting thing from my perspective, last week I started to hole lots of putts, and that is a good feeling, certainly with me coming into The Ryder Cup.
Q.¬† Lee, your comments in the past about the PGA Centenary Course have not always been glowing.¬† Is that going to be an additional obstacle for you to deal with, or has your opinion of the course changed after the extensive refurbishment to the PGA Centenary over the last couple of years?
LEE WESTWOOD:¬† Well, I haven't seen the golf course recently but I believe it's in fantastic condition.¬† You know, The Ryder Cup brings its own sort of intense atmosphere to the place, and I'm sure it will be a great venue.¬† I'm looking forward to seeing it.
Q.¬† Can you possibly satisfy the demand for tickets you are now going to have after today's announcement?
STEPHEN GALLACHER:¬† I've sort of not touched my phone or anything like that but I know it's just about to go off the wall with friends.¬† I don't really‑‑ my head is in a bit of a daze just now so I'm sure after all, I'll be in demand for tickets, 100 percent.
Q.¬† You obviously like the PGA Centenary Course.¬† Is there a better course for you to be making your Ryder Cup debut?
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† No, I don't think so.¬† I think it's a course I sort of play well and it fits my eye.¬† I like it and it's in great condition.¬† It's just up the road.¬† I've played it a lot.¬† So for me, to be honest, in Scotland up there, it's a perfect fit for me, really.
SCOTT CROCKETT:¬† I thank everyone for their attendance and obviously congratulate the three gentlemen who are on the telephone with us and thank Wentworth Club for hosting us today, Julian Small, your hospitality is always fantastic.
And I think it's appropriate we leave the last word today to The Ryder Cup captain, Paul McGinley.
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† Yeah, thank you, Scott.¬† You spoke to the guys.¬† We have our 12 players on the board.¬† Roll on the end of September.¬† We've got a big task ahead of us.¬† We are playing against a very, very strong American Team led by a very, very strong individual in Tom Watson.¬† I for one am under no illusions how difficult the task ahead is going to be, and the players will, as well, too, and they do know already.
It's going to be a very exciting week, a roller coaster ride, as we all know Ryder Cups are.¬† But I think everybody in this room who is a European fan will be very proud of those 12 players representing them in The Ryder Cup this year.
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