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RYDER CUP MEDIA CONFERENCE
May 27, 2016
SCOTT CROCKETT: We are delighted to be joined by our captain Darren Clarke.
Darren, before we get into today's announcement, four months or so to go till Ryder Cup. Just give us your thoughts on where you are and your excitement at the four months coming up.
DARREN CLARKE: Yeah, everything seems to be going very quickly now at this stage. We've had a lot of planning, European Tour staff, and Julia and everybody involved in The European Tour have been doing an unbelievable job, helping me along.
They all warned me that it would get to this stage and everything would start moving very quickly and indeed it is. It's very exciting times. The team is shaping up nicely. It's changing somewhat on a weekly basis, as I'm sure all you guys can see as much as I can.
So it was very exciting on a Monday morning for me whenever I look at the World Rankings and see who has slipped in and who has slipped out and who has moved into possibles, etc., etc. It's a very exciting time and I'm sure this week is going to put another couple of twists and turns in them, certainly looking at that leaderboard at the moment. It's all very, very exciting at the minute.
SCOTT CROCKETT: We know you're here for a specific announcement, the staff of your backroom team. Let's hand it over to you to make that announcement.
DARREN CLARKE: My three vice captains that I'm going to announce today, pretty well known to I'm sure which most people have seen in the media: Thomas Bj√∂rn, P√°draig Harrington and Paul Lawrie, three wonderful guys. Three guys I've known for almost my entire career on Tour, three good friends, three guys who won't be afraid to tell me, sometimes, what I don't want to hear.
You know, they are guys that I trust implicitly and their opinions, I will value tremendously. They are my first three, and hopefully they are going to form part of a team that are going to enable the playing side of the team to perform as well as we know they can to hopefully bring this trophy back with us come September.
SCOTT CROCKETT: We've heard from Darren who the first three vice captains are. I think it's time we met them: Thomas, P√°draig and Paul, everybody.
You've heard from Darren, let's get some thoughts from you before we open up to questions.
Thomas, involved three times as a player, three times as a vice captain; this will be your fourth time. Give us your thoughts looking ahead to Hazeltine.
THOMAS BJ√ĖRN: Yeah, it's going to be interesting, as always I think. I've done it three times before, but I think this is the first time the captain is one of my best friends and I can tell the truth, which I'm quite looking forward to (laughter).
No, I'm looking forward to this. It's always a position where you're there for the captain and for 12 players, and you've got to go in with that attitude. It's not about anybody but getting those 12 players to perform as good as they can and that's all we're there for. We've got a lot of experience doing it ourselves, and try and pass some of that on and try and get them to do the best thing that they can do and hopefully win the trophy again.
Got a great captain and a great friend, and I'm honoured to be by his side for this Ryder Cup.
SCOTT CROCKETT: P√°draig, you experienced vice captaincy out at Gleneagles. Looking forward to taking that role again?
P√ĀDRAIG HARRINGTON: Yeah, I strangely I really did enjoy Gleneagles. It's a different side of things being vice captain. Obviously it's not the same pressure as the captain is having, and you do get not the same pressure as the players, and you do see a different side.
Just like Thomas said, it's all about trying to figure a way of helping the captain get the 12 players play as well as they can that week and get the result that counts.
I'm particularly looking forward to this. Obviously when Darren asked me first, I was kind of looking at it and say, obviously Darren is an emotional person, and I'm thinking, oh, I'll bring a little bit of structure behind the scenes.
But talking to Darren, the amount of work he's done, the detail he's gone in behind the scenes, as usual with Darren, there's a little bit more work being done than he let's on. He's really put the effort in behind the scenes.
Again, it looks like a Ryder Cup that the vice captains will be there to enjoy the back room scenes because the captain's looked after everything.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Paul, obviously your first time as vice captain, but your two Ryder Cup experiences have been in America, so that's something you can bring to the team.
PAUL LAWRIE: First time for me in the backroom team. Obviously known Darren a long time. Came out roughly the same time together on Tour and get on really well with everyone up here. We're all pretty good friends.
Mega looking forward to it. Excited, honoured to be part of the backroom team. And looking forward to getting going.
Q. Darren, having done the vice captain role yourself, and having obviously played under several different characters as vice captains, what specifically are the contributions you want from a captain, or vice captain off-course, and on-course, as well, when the pressure is on, especially, that last day.
DARREN CLARKE: Well, I think as a vice captain, having been there, you want honesty from your vice captains. You want them to tell you exactly what they are thinking.
Obviously I wouldn't have asked the guys to be part of the whole team unless I trusted their judgment. These are three fantastic players with seriously, seriously good golfing careers. They know what they are looking at whenever they see guys performing in The Ryder Cup. They have all played before they have all played under that extreme of pressure. They know what they are looking for. They know whether they are looking at guys who are maybe a little bit off form, guys that are a little bit nervous.
And because I can't be everywhere at one time, that's what I've been told from the Tour and all the previous captains I've spoken to, it's a pretty hectic week for the captain. So they are my eyes and ears.
With the level of trust that I do have in these three sitting up here beside me, I've got no worries whatsoever that I'm going to have some fantastic information and, indeed, advice and support coming back my direction.
Q. Plenty of captains in the past have had more than the three added late; do you plan to add one or two others?
DARREN CLARKE: Yes, I will have two more later on in the year. But at the moment, it's about today and these three great guys that are sitting beside me.
Q. How serious a consideration was Lee Westwood to be sitting up here, and if not, can he be added?
DARREN CLARKE: There's quite a few different guys that are all in the running for those final two places. It's a difficult thing. I didn't want to ask these guys too early a stage because they are still playing some fantastic golf.
If you ask them to do it, it's almost like you think they can't play and they are not going to make the team. That was my opinion. All of them still could if they had a really good summer with some of the big tournaments we've got coming up.
But as of now, these are my first three and I'm over the moon with the fact that all three of them have agreed.
Q. Paul, as the one who has not done the vice captain role before, what do you see as your key contribution having seen the vice captains in the two Ryder Cups you've played in, and how important is it for you that you've played your two Ryder Cups in America going to Hazeltine?
PAUL LAWRIE: Well, obviously being the rookie amongst the backroom team, I haven't been that for a wee while to be fair. But obviously it's like Darren says, all three of us that he's named today have all played the game for a long, long time. We all want to be on the team but at the minute that's not happening.
But no, I'm looking forward to getting over there and getting it done and passing on anything that I can to Darren to help him make the right decision.
Obviously at the end of the day, Darren is the captain. He's the main guy; he's the guy that's in charge, and if any of us can add anything to that, then we're looking forward to helping out in any way.
Q. Are you up for a management role?
PAUL LAWRIE: Yeah, absolutely. Looking forward to it. Like you say, it's the first time for me. So what it's going to be like, I don't exactly know. Looking forward to the banter on the radio. I've heard a bit of that.
DARREN CLARKE: He may be in charge of coffee during the week I think.
PAUL LAWRIE: Looking forward to that. Getting promoted already, coffee boy (laughter).
Q. Having done it the last time, what do you learn from that going forward? What were good points from what you did and from the vice captains that you've seen that will perhaps tweak the way you do it this time?
P√ĀDRAIG HARRINGTON: I don't know about tweak, but it is busy. There's a lot to be done for the vice captains out there in the day.
Clearly Darren is looking for honest opinions and he's probably picked some of the right guys to get honest opinions. He's going to have to make the decisions. The buck stops with Darren. We're really there to give him an honest opinion and support him in what he's doing, because as he said, can't cover everything, and we will be busy.
It's an incredible busy week. The amount of -- 12 players is a lot to keep on top of, watch what's happening, as Darren said, make sure everybody is comfortable.
In practise rounds, guys can maybe not play their best, but you have to know whether they are not playing well or they are just a little bit nervous getting ready for the gun to go, and once it goes, they will be great again.
It's a lot of work behind the scenes, but ultimately it's about giving Darren an honest opinion, and he has to work with that, which, you know, that's all we can do is support him.
Q. Having done it three times, how much of a part can you play in controlling the guys' emotions, the tension, the pressure, and how fine a line is it between having the players too fired up and having them calm, cool and collected and playing with their head and not heart too much?
THOMAS BJ√ĖRN: They will probably say I'm the most emotional one of them.
I don't think it's too big a problem with the guys today to keep their emotions under control. But I think you've got to get in some of the youngsters' heads and kind of help them find a way of dealing with that kind of pressure, and especially in America, it's an extremely difficult task for players.
I think that they have somebody by their side all the time that they can trust and that they know have the experience of what they are going through is of massive importance to any young player. Any team with new players on the team, rookies on the team, they are going to need the support.
When you look at the experienced players, they know what they are dealing with, but all of us has an equal role to play in just helping these guys through what's a very tough week playing-wise but also one of the greatest weeks you'll ever experience.
But we are just there to serve. That's all we do. It all stops with this one and the 12 players, and that's hopefully what we can deliver.
Q. Obviously as Darren mentioned, you'd have all preferred to play at Hazeltine. So could I ask what your reaction was when he approached you and asked you officially and when that conversation took place?
PAUL LAWRIE: The conversation took place quite a while ago to be fair. And I had been struggling a little bit with my foot and with kind of bits and pieces of injuries, not being 100 per cent fit for a long time.
Yeah, I didn't see it as something that I kind of felt I could make the team to be fair, so I didn't see it as a problem at all.
I was hugely honoured to be asked by Darren. Like I said before, I've known him a long time, and for him to want me on his backroom team was brilliant for me personally.
P√ĀDRAIG HARRINGTON: Again, Darren mentioned it to me quite a while ago, would I be interested. I'm very honoured to be part of this team. He waited a decent amount of time, and very polite amount of time, to confirm that I would be in the team, which was very nice of him.
Yes, look, all of us dream of playing gait golf every week we play, and we think that tomorrow we're going to win and make things. But the reality is a little clearer than that, and I there comes a time, and now is the time that is pretty clear that we're set for vice captains rather than anything else (smiling).
THOMAS BJ√ĖRN: Well, it was quite clearly early on that Darren asked me very early in his captaincy, if I didn't make it as a player, would I do it role.
We go accurate back a long way. We played in the '97 Ryder Cup together as rookies, so we go back a long way. We've been great friends, and you know, I don't think it came as a huge surprise to me that he was going to ask me.
But it just shows where our friendship had been over the years. We always trusted each other. We've gone through some really great times together and some really tough times together, and we've always been there for each other.
I kind of expected that it would only be right in this situation that we would be there for each other for this, as well. That conversation happened very early in Darren's captaincy.
Q. I just wondered if you are in a position to be more specific in terms of the time frame when you might announce the two remaining deputies later in the season?
DARREN CLARKE: Hopefully that will be around The Open Championship. That would be my plan. Because there's a few guys who are playing very well still, and plus I have another couple of guys that I have in mind, as well.
As I mentioned there earlier, you don't want to ask somebody if they are still playing very well for fear of insulting them, and that's not the way I'd like to do things. We're going to see how things progress with the individuals I have in mind, and I will be hopefully in a position to announce the other two come The Open Championship.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports