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September 29, 2015

Darren Clarke

Kerry Haigh

Davis Love III

Palm Beach Gardens, FL, USA

JULIUS MASON: The drama begins in just 367 days and right now it's time to welcome our Ryder Cup Captains.

First the 2011 champion golfer of the year, has won 14 times on the European Tour and three more times stateside on the PGA TOUR. He is from Portrush, Northern Ireland and is making his debut as the European Captain that has played on five Ryder Cup teams and vice captained twice. Please welcome, Darren Clarke.

Darren's counterpart, he is the 1997 PGA Champion and a 21-time winner on the PGA TOUR after winning last month at the Wyndham Championship at age 51. He is from Sea Island, Georgia and is in his second stint at United States Captain. He has played on six Ryder Cup teams and vice captained once. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Davis Love III.

Captain Clarke, let's begin with you. You've been in town a few days, tell us how Minnesota has been treating you.

DARREN CLARKE: It's been wonderful. We arrived on Friday and we've had such a warm welcome, not just myself but all of Ryder Cup Europe, we've been looked after at our every whim. We've enjoyed being here, wonderful stuff. Thank you very much for that.

JULIUS MASON: Captain Love, welcome back to Minneapolis, your home away from home. Are you ready to do this all over again?

DAVIS LOVE III: Very excited. I'd like to thank Pete Bevacqua and Derek Sprague for giving me this opportunity. I'm thrilled possible a part of Team USA again. I've been captain and vice captain and worked alongside Darren as assistant captain and it exciting to be back at it.

Minnesota has been great to me and we have been here a few times already. Darren has been here since Friday, and Robin and I have been here a few times and the hospitality they have shown all of us has been incredible here and Hazeltine National Golf Club has done an incredible job getting ready. They are overly excited. They are ready to go now. It's going to be an exciting year and I'm looking forward to the buildup.

JULIUS MASON: Before we go to Q&A, I'd like to invite The PGA of America's Chief Championships Officer, Kerry Haigh, up to the podium to touch upon the restructuring of the golf course.

Kerry, those that were here for the 2002 The PGA of America and 2009 The PGA of America will see a somewhat different golf course; correct?

KERRY HAIGH: 2009, 2002, PGA Championship, everyone is used to that routing but all of the upcoming Ryder Cup, we are going to change the order of the holes. The front nine will be the current holes 1 through 4, and 14 through 18, and the back nine for The Ryder Cup will be holes 10 through 13 and 5 through 9, and the primary reasons for that, for the match play, we feel holes 15, 16 and 17 will create a lot more excitement.

All three have water adjacent to the green. They are two-sided holes. They will hold a lot more people who will be able to view those finishing holes from a spectator viewer standpoint. And an entrance for the spectators, the bus terminal, the main entrance and exit is close to what will be 16 and 17.

They are the three major reasons: Spectator viewing, excitement, and also less walking for the players on the back nine holes from the green to the next tee. We think it will be a great addition, add more excitement to the Matches, and we can't wait for them to get started. Thank you.

JULIUS MASON: This is a news conference, ladies and gentlemen, so let's go ahead and get to the Q&A portion.

Q. When The Ryder Cup was at Medinah the course was very open with very little rough. I would imagine that Hazeltine offers more opportunities to keep the rough up. Do you have any thoughts on how the course will be setup even at this early stage?
DAVIS LOVE III: It offers the same opportunity to mow it down, as well (laughing). I don't like rough. I hit it in it a lot.

I think we've been saying for six months, really, that Kerry has always done an incredible job setting up PGA championships. He's set up the golf course here a few times. It suits our game to play it the way we play it in the PGA Championship.

I do not like the rough to be so deep that the fans are going to see a lot of chipping out. I like more opportunities for birdies. I think it's more exciting. This is a match-play event. We want to see holes winning birdies, not putting 10-footers for par all day.

I think the way we set it up at Medinah, the way Kerry has been setting up golf courses for years; the PGA Championship is not scared of eight or 10- or 12-under winning the tournament. These players are great players. They are going to make birdies and I think that's a fairway to set it up.

Q. Momentum is such a big key in match play and The Ryder Cup, and the Europeans have really been on a great run. Darren, what's the biggest key in keeping that momentum? And Davis, what would be the biggest key in trying to turn it around?
DARREN CLARKE: I think if you take a look at recent Ryder Cup, you'll see that the Europeans have a little bit the edge on the greens, knocking in a few extra putts.

As I said before, the difference between a putt lipping in and lipping out doesn't seem an awful lot, but it's a huge amount of momentum to the team. And the team that gets that, they get a bit of a buzz off it. Should you be the home team or the away team, you can recognize the roars very easily whether it's a home-holed putt or an away-holed putt.

Certainly for Europe, these past few Ryder Cups they have been able to be a little bit sharper on the greens and hole more than their share. And that's what it comes down to, because as Davies just said, we are going to have 24 of the best players in the world here and to separate them over 18 holes of match play, is the differences are minimal. So holing an extra putt here or there makes a big difference.

DAVIS LOVE III: I agree with Darren. It is momentum and it's just a putt made here or there. The matches are always close. It seems like once you grab the momentum, it's easier to keep it for awhile but it's hard to keep it for three days. I think if you look back over maybe the last six or eight Ryder Cups, it's just been whoever got that momentum right at the last minute.

Unfortunately for the last few years, Europe's gotten it on Sunday right when they needed it. We go back to '99 with Ben Crenshaw, somehow we got it that Sunday morning and rode it all day. And we just had to figure out, like Darren said, how to make that crucial putt; one more chip-in, one more putt, one more little bit of believing in yourself, believing in your teammates, can make the difference.

It's not going to take much, because it is always close, but it will come down to just a few putts holed or one good shot when you need it.

Q. As the best golfers in the world, you want to win majors. Where does The Ryder Cup stack up against winning a major for each and every golfer?
DARREN CLARKE: I think winning, winning a major, is what we practice for day-in and day-out. That's what we do and Davis and I are both fortunate in the fact that we are mutual winners. But The Ryder Cup is a completely different animal all together. It's an experience that stays with you forever. It's something that you work your socks off to get there to make the team, and then we all feel so nervous whenever you do get there and make the team, it's one of those sort of things.

But it's been certainly one of the highlights of my career to be fortunate to play in a lot of Ryder Cups, and I think when we have the opportunity to make the team -- he still does because he won not too long ago. I'm quite happy to be the captain this time.

To get that experience means an awful lot. The pressure coming down the stretch in a major is nothing compared to a Ryder Cup. The Ryder Cup to me personally has always meant an awful lot more.

DAVIS LOVE III: To capture the feeling the last nine holes or the last few holes of a major -- that nervousness, but then it starts on the practice rounds. I've never been so nervous hitting a shot in a practice round as I would be in a Ryder Cup. It really starts up -- it's our Super Bowl. There's a lot of buildup.

Friday morning, the first tee shot of The Ryder Cup is like your last shot into the last hole of a major championship. You're nervous already, and I think it's that little bit of a difference of you're trying to win a major championship, you don't have a fear of losing it.

In The Ryder Cup, there's always that in the back of your mind, that what if we lose this match, what if we lose this Ryder Cup; that kind of pressure, you don't really feel in a major championship.

Q. Just wonder about Davis and Darren both, have you thought about the speeches you're going to give to your players and how important is that sort of motivation for you before the big matches?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I've already got Tom Lehman, who is a very emotional, very good speaker and great team leader. So he can do a couple of them for me.

DARREN CLARKE: (Chuckling).

DAVIS LOVE III: We've already identified a few past captains and friends of our team that we can use to help motivate them.

But I think we've said all along: These players don't need any more motivation. They don't need any more pressure put on them. They are trying as hard as they can to win. I always say, the Americans try to hard and get in their own way.

We are going to be more, this time around, this next team, this leadership group we've kind of put together over last six months, we are going to be more focused on talking to them all year long about taking ownership in the team, playing to win, being a little bit more relaxed and free like they play the rest of the year.

And it's always a great theory to say, all right, guys, we've been running these plays all year in practice. Let's run them in the game. It's that message that we are going to have to give to them that we need to just relax and play and let the results take care of themselves and do a little bit better this time with our coaching, with our speeches and our messaging.

DARREN CLARKE: Pretty similar to what Davis just said. The guys, they don't need motivation whenever they get here. They need a little bit of time to relax because it is, it feels like a short week but there's an awful lot of commitments and stuff to do during the week.

I would like to end up with the European Team as relaxed as possible to go out there and enjoy it. Like Davis, we have a few people that we want to have come in and speak to the team but I think the guys whenever they get here, they know why they are coming here. They are coming here to try and retain The Ryder Cup, and that's what we plan to do.

Do I need to motivate them? I don't think I will do. Do I need to say a few words to them? Yes, of course I am. But these are successful athletes in their own right. There will be an awful lot of motivation, but maybe just a nudge in the right direction, but as long as they behave themselves, they will be fine.

Q. Could each of you guys recall the single-most memorable stroke you've ever played in your Ryder Cup careers?
Darren Clarke: My one was the first tee at The K Club in 2006. I didn't know if it was going to miss it, up it, duff it, whiff it, hook it, block it, do whatever, I had no idea, genuinely no idea where the ball was going to go. I got lucky and made contact and went straight down the middle. That's probably the most nervous I've ever been on a golf course.

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I said it last night with David Feherty. My first Ryder Cup, I was partnered with my mentor, Tom Kite, and we had decided that alternate-shot, I would hit off the odd holes and he would hit off the even holes. Then we had a fog delay Friday morning, so I got to sit around and think about it for about an hour and a half.

Then walking up to the first tee, I tried to convince him to hit off the first tee, because I figured out 1 was odd and I had to hit first and I wasn't ready for it. And he had to calm me down and give me a 3-iron and said, "Just get me in the fairway and get going."

But yeah, when you walk up to that first tee, even if you played six of them or it's your first one, it's a nerve-wracking experience. But I'll never forget that, playing Seve and Jose, and Tom Kite; it was an unbelievable moment in my career.

Q. How does Hazeltine compare to other Ryder Cup venues as both a golf course and a facility?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, the facility is incredible. I've been coming here for a long time, all the way back to Payne Stewart's memorable U.S. Open win here. It's a great venue as a golf course, a great city, Twin Cities to play in. The fans are incredible. Obviously everybody that lives here knows, a short season but a busy season of golf and they are great sports fans and golf fans.

But it's a big golf course. It's a big, long, major championship-style golf course, and I think it suits match play. It's hard to turn in a 72-hole score on this course. It's a big course. Match play will be more friendly and a lot of fun, and I think it will be exciting matches.

DARREN CLARKE: Again I would agree with Davis. It's a much more enjoyable golf course to play without a card in your hand. There's a lot of tricky ones out there.

The Ryder Cup, as we all know, it's match play, and with the way that Davis I'm sure is going to set the golf course up, we're going to see birdies and eagles.

With the global audience that we are appealing to, they are going to be tuning in all over the world watching it. They want to see birdies and eagles, and I'm exactly on the same page as Davis. That's what it's all about. We are in the entertainment industry and we want to give people something to watch, to cheer, to enjoy, and you know with the fans, as Davis has said, it's obviously a big hometown sport.

So to see all those fans and everything coming out and make the atmosphere as good as I'm sure it will be, will make The Ryder Cup even more special.

Q. You have the home-field advantage to begin with. How much more of an extra edge do you have, as you mentioned, having one of your assistant captains being one of Minnesota's own?
DAVIS LOVE III: I hope it has a big advantage. Tom has already been instrumental in a lot of decisions we made up here. He knows the lay of the land and knows the people.

You know, when we started talking about who the next captain would be, I certainly thought he was a strong candidate.

So we've got a great team already put together with The PGA of America staff up here. So I've got inside track on not only the golf course and the fans, but the great places to eat and found my way around town and tickets to all the sports games. Tom is a great connection. We are going to rely on him a lot.

We had a great past captains dinner last week and Tom was really instrumental in getting some good information with me from the former captains, so we are going to lean on him a lot certainly up here in Minnesota.

Q. There was some unfortunate controversy at the Solheim Cup a couple of weeks ago over the concession of a putt. How important is it that the Ryder Cup reaffirms golf's reputation as the epitome of sportsmanship and fairness?
DARREN CLARKE: Well, I think in answer to that, this Ryder Cup will be played in the manner in which Davis and I respect each other. We've been friends for such a long time; I holed Davis in a highest record. He's been a good friend but probably one of the best gentlemen in our sport.

The Solheim Cup was an unfortunate thing. What Suzann did was correct in The Rules of Golf, but in the spirit of the game, it was wrong. And she admitted that on Monday with hindsight. Hindsight is always a wonderful thing.

In The Ryder Cup, we are always briefed by the referees earlier in the week and the rules officials, and we do not touch a golf ball until we hear either from our opposite number or from the referees, just one of those sort things. I hope and I'm sure it won't happen under our watch.

DAVIS LOVE III: Yes, I agree. I think Darren and I will set the tone with our teams and with our messaging over the next year that what we expect -- how we expect the matches to be played. We will have -- something will come up during the three days that is uncomfortable. But we'll handle it as gentlemen and a sportsman-like way. It will be fair and competitive and fun. In the end, one of us will win, one of us will lose, but we'll enjoy a cigar and a tear afterwards on Sunday night.


DAVIS LOVE III: It will be a very fair match. That was an unfortunate incident and I think we learned a lot from it.

Q. The fans here are so enthusiastic. You've seen it in previous events here. This is a team competition. Is there different rules for the fans to try to abide by while still being very enthusiastic at an event like this?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, you said it: Be enthusiastic but be fair to both sides. I think you want to cheer for good shots. Obviously there will be louder cheers here than will were at Gleneagles for the US shots; but respect for our competitors.

We want a lot of noise. That's what we're here for is to putt on a good show, enjoy The Ryder Cup. But I think if the fans cheer for their side in a fair way that's what makes it fun for the players.

DARREN CLARKE: Agreed. Home support we have whenever we play in Europe, and obviously Davis will have it when we are here the next time; and the home support and the roars and the shouts, that's all part and parcel of The Ryder Cup. That's makes it what it is.

It's always tough for the away team to go into the other one's territory to try and perform. But as long as the crowd are within the etiquette of the game, give our guys what we do, quietness to hit their shots, you can't expect anything more.

But I'm sure -- I would be disappointed if the home support wasn't as loud and vocal as it should be.

Q. Last night you spoke about how this has been an eye-opening experience for you with everything that goes on behind the scenes. Do you have a new appreciation for your past captains, considering what you've gone through so far?
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, definitely. Past captains and indeed Ryder Cup Europe, I've turned up, as I said last night, I've turned up as a player, vice captain: Everything is in my room and you have a schedule and you adhere to it for the most part. Everything is laid out and sorted for you.

Whereas as Davis and I, and he knows, he's done it before; I haven't, but I have all these decisions to make all of a sudden. There's an awful lot more things that go on behind the scenes than I had originally thought.

But Ryder Cup Europe, same as The PGA of America, they have been doing it for a very, very long time. We have a wonderful team on our side and I lean heavily on them for their help and support and they have been wonderful doing that with me and I'm sure they will continue to do it all the way through.

Q. A year out, is it tough to imagine a U.S. Team that might not have Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yes, it would be hard to imagine. We are all -- my teammates that I played with, we are all getting older and obviously Tiger has had some surgeries and slowing him down a little bit. Phil didn't quite make it on points and Jay Haas picked him for The Presidents Cup.

But I expect Phil gets on a roll about every other year now, so maybe next year is his -- his off-year is really, really good (laughing). In talking to him, he's excited about playing. He's not done yet. He wants to make this next team.

If he doesn't make the team, he's going to be involved, and I know he doesn't want to work for me, so I think he'd rather play for me. So I have a feeling he's going to be strongly motivated to make the next team. And obviously Tiger wants to get healthy and play. They are just two of a lot of players that have stressed to me that they want to play on a winning Ryder Cup Team.

I think the tone has changed a little bit on our side that guys are not saying; I want to make your team. They are saying, I want to play on a winning Ryder Cup Team. They are not looking at it as my team. They want to play on a U.S.-winning team. Tiger, Phil, Webb Simpson, Chris Kirk, all those guys, they are excited about making this team and making it a winning team.

Q. Do you still believe you could be a playing captain, and if so, what did your recent win do for that conviction?
DAVIS LOVE III: I was thinking about that late last night and early this morning because Darren and I keep getting that question. And he says no and I am reluctantly saying no.

If, if, I played like I played a few weeks ago, not like I played the week before at the PGA with Darren when we both played poorly. But if I play like I played the next week --

DARREN CLARKE: There's a reason why my hair is grey and yours isn't.

DAVIS LOVE III: If I was one of the best eight players of the year, and made it on points, I'd have to consider it, because my goal right now is to play golf and be competitive. I didn't go through three or four months of foot surgery so I could walk around comfortably at home and go fishing. I want to play golf on the PGA TOUR. Always been my goal and I don't want to give it up.

My focus over the next year is to get this team ready any way possible, and as Darren said back when he played at The K Club, if I could come and contribute as a player, I would love to do it. But I'm focused on being the captain right now.

Q. Could you both talk about the state of the game today with the incredible young talent we have in the world? It just seems like in the last year in particular, it's taken another leap.
DARREN CLARKE: It has. With the performance of Jordan Spieth, what a phenomenal year he's had with his five wins and capped off a win again last week. Jason Day and Rickie and obviously Rory, as well, they are wonderful young men that I think are fantastic role models, aren't they.

The golf that they are playing is just getting better and better and better, and some of the scoring, I thought we could play a little bit when we were younger but some of the scoring those kids are doing these days really are phenomenal, looking up the stats on what they are achieving.

I think as younger kids that have the opportunity to draw more people to our sport; that they can perform the way that we would all like to, I think they are wonderful ambassadors for our game.

DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, I think "ambassadors" is the correct term. We are the elder statesmen a little bit of the game now.

And there's been three guys that have come out that have impressed me with their maturity, with the way they carry themselves around the golf course, the way they carry themselves around the sponsors and around the media, and they have all turned out to be three of the top players in the world: Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy.

Isn't it amazing that three of our best players are also three of our best citizens out on Tour and best representatives of the game. So I'm really proud of now only the way they are playing; and goes right on down the list. On our tour, we have so many great young players that are not only great players, but they understand; they get it, as we say. They understand what golf's all about.

I think that we can thank the players that came before us for passing that down to them. They understand what golf's all about and they are going to make great champions and great leaders for our tour for the future. It's in good hands I think.

JULIUS MASON: Thank you very much for joining us today, ladies and gentlemen. We'll see you next year.

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