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THE RYDER CUP MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 2, 2008
JULIUS MASON: Good morning, everyone. I'm Julius Mason, the Senior Director of Communications and Media Relations for the PGA of America. I welcome those of you joining us on the phone lines from around the world and those on-site at the Radisson Martinique Hotel in New York City, the birthplace of the PGA of America, 91 years ago to the United States Ryder Cup Captain's Pick News Conference.
We have some guests in the audience that I would like to introduce at this particular time, beginning with the PGA of America Vice President, Jim Remy; the CEO of the PGA of America, Mr. Joe Steranka; PGA of America board members, Rod Loesch, and Derek Sprague. And from the New Jersey PGA section, President Mike Sparks; Vice President Dan Pasternak; Secretary Brian Jones; and Executive Director, Scott Kmiec.
From the Metropolitan PGA Section, President Tom Henderson, Secretary Heath Wassem, First Vice President Brad Worthington, and Executive Director Charlie Robson.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, all the way from Bend, Oregon, PGA of America President, Brian Whitcomb.
BRIAN WHITCOMB: First of all, I want to thank each and every one of you for your interest today, and certainly an historic day for several reasons. Of course, most of you know we're at the birthplace of the PGA of America, not only New York City, but right here at the Hotel Martinique. It was almost 92 years ago when 78 professionals got together and formed the PGA of America, and of course now we stand 28,000 strong, and so it's an historic day.
And there's another reason this is a very historic day and of course it has to do with the gentleman, my friend to the left, our captain. But in just 17 days, the first shot will be struck at The Ryder Cup at the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky and we are excited about that and of course as you know the European Ryder Cup Team was formed Sunday night and eight of our United States Team members were identified on August 10th at the conclusion of the PGA Championship. So what awaits us of course is for the captain to identify the four men that will complete Team USA.
So before I introduce and turn over the activities to our captain, I just want to say that on behalf of the PGA of America how proud we are of our captain, Paul Azinger and his wife, Toni. It's important to us that our captain represents the essence of the game of golf, and of course, we all know about Paul's perseverance and his determination to win, and I just can only say that as the spokesperson for the PGA of America, I could not be anymore proud to have worked the last two years with the captain of the United States Team.
Ladies and gentlemen, Paul Azinger, captain, United States Ryder Cup Team.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Thanks, Brian. Julius, thanks. I want to thank all of you for coming today and for all of you that are tuning in, thank you.
The last two years has been pretty a amazing for me, and we've gotten to this point now where I'm going to make four picks.
I said all along that we needed to change the selection process, and we did that, and we have a one-year system in place. I like the way it worked.
I like who the top eight players turned out to be, and of course, I think many of you know that my desire was to find the four players who were playing the best who were the most confident after the PGA Championship, and we had three tournaments to identify that. Unfortunately we had three foreign winners in those events. So nobody really jumped off the page.
But I think in the end, the guys that I decided to pick are playing really, really well, and if you want me to just go ahead and start naming them, I'll do it. You ready?
JULIUS MASON: Like I said, we've got the room for another four hours, we can drag this on as long as we want. (Laughter).
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Before I do that I want to thank my three assistant, Olin Browne, who is here in the audience for his contribution and participation in all of this. He's been invaluable in all of this, as have Dave Stockton and Raymond Floyd.
I've received a lot of input from a lot of people and friends. I've tried to include a lot of people in this process. I feel that was important. In the end I'm kind of a controlling personality, so it kind of in the end boils down to me.
I'm real proud to announce that my first pick is Steve Stricker. Steve has a little experience, Presidents Cup-wise. He ended up winning a match-play event down in Australia a few years back, and statistically, he's a fantastic player, he's playing extremely well and had the selection process continued on the last three weeks, Steve Stricker would have actually made the team.
So I'm really happy to have Steve, and Steve is extremely excited about being picked. I called him, and I don't think he even said hello. He just said, I think my number is in his phone and he had said, "Is this a good call or a bad call"?
I said, "This is a good call, Buddy." So he was happy.
Before I go on, I would like to say that there's a lot of players that I could have picked that I didn't pick. I don't want to try to justify for anybody really why I didn't pick the guys that I didn't pick. There are a lot of guys who are really deserving to be on the team and I have some really good friends who I would have liked to have picked that I didn't pick. So there was some heartache in all of this as well.
My second pick is Hunter Mahan, who is a young lion, no Ryder Cup experience, terrific ball-striker, statistically, he's very high in greens in regulation and I think he has a lot of heart and he's going to add a lot to the team.
My third pick is from Kentucky, and he's a bomber, and his name is J.B. Holmes. He has a terrific Walker Cup record, and he won Phoenix this year, and I really like J.B. Holmes personality. I think he fits match play, and he knows Valhalla like the back of his hand. So maybe that will help. I hope it does. I'm really excited to have J.B. on the team. He was extremely excited. Hunter Mahan was excited. They really, really wanted to be on the team.
My fourth pick, I think he's really excited and it's Chad Campbell. Chad is a terrific ball-striker. He's third on TOUR in all-around. He's in the Top-10 in ball-striking. He's fairly long off the tee. And I just want you to know, that every player that's on this list was supported by a lot of players, a lot of people, a lot of friends and my assistants, and I'm really excited about having these guys.
I think that we have rounded off this team with the best possible players at this time. At this point, I'm ready for some questions.
JULIUS MASON: Thanks, Captain. Thanks, Brian.
Q. You told us, those are the recipients of the good calls. Did some guys get bad calls, too, or did you contact people that might have expected to be on?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: My intention after the PGA was to call several players and let them know that I was thinking about them, but I changed my mind, actually, decided not to do that, and for various reasons.
I only called one player this morning to let him know that I wasn't picking him, and you know, he was very disappointed and understood.
Q. Who was that?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Didn't matter who it was. I'm not going to tell anybody who it was. I'm just saying that I only have called one guy.
Q. Can you speak a little to the timetable of all this? Were some of these guys locked in in your mind fairly early, or were there some guys -- were you mulling this as late as last night?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Well, I was mulling it as late as last night, that's for sure. It was up for grabs last week. Anything could have happened at that last tournament. There's a number of guys that could have won that tournament last week that would have been automatic berths on the team, and I felt like for a lot of guys, it would have taken a win. Some guys, it would have taken just a really strong finish.
Not that a season should be chiseled down to one day, but in some respects, in some ways, it was, for me. I had two guys that I liked a lot, and I liked them for a few weeks, and then the other two spots were pretty much up for grabs.
Q. The day after the PGA, how many names did you have in your head, or did you have a short list of guys who were considered?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Well, I had a short list, but I also had, you know, to look at the guys that went all the way down to 25th on the list and I actually went beyond the Top-25 on that list. I had some help gathering statistical data on most if not all those guys in the Top-25 and beyond. After crunching all the numbers and all that, it became more difficult for me, so I kind of wanted to crumble up that paper and throw it away.
For the most part, I think this was wide open, and it was really going to depend on how the players performed these last three weeks. I really believe that I what I was searching for and to get what we need was to get players who are playing really well and that was one of my desires and guys who I felt like have confidence. So in the end, I've settled on these four guys.
Q. I think for those who have been following kind of the speculation of who you might be looking at, the only quasi-surprise might be Campbell. Wonder if you would talk a little more about how you arrived at that conclusion and I have one unrelated follow?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Well, I have three guys that have never played Ryder Cup before and I thought Chad had a little bit of experience, and the fact that Chad played really well this past tournament helped him. Chad also is a terrific ball-striker tee-to-green, and when I narrowed my list down to three or four players, his name came up a lot. That was important to me.
When I started crunching numbers on Chad, knowing his personality and knowing the way he hits it, then after talking to Chad, I knew right away that he was the right guy.
Q. His wife is due soon, I think, maybe today for all I know; do you have any indication on that?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: They are actually going to the doctor's office this morning at 9:30 Dallas time, so there's a chance that they could have the baby today or tomorrow. You know, there's a chance he may play St. Louis, he might not be able to play there. But maybe it will happen for him and he'll play and we'll see.
Q. Did he say anything about naming the child Samuel Ryder if it's a boy or anything?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: No, but I think it is going to be a boy, though. (Laughter).
Q. Early on in the process, you talked about wanting to have guys, winners and guys who are hot; and I'm just wondering as you mentioned the last three, last four winners have been foreign; did you have to alter that process a little bit as time went on here and you made these picks?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: All along what I said was I felt like it would be difficult to win the team if you didn't win a tournament; and it proved to be the case, except for Ben Curtis who played terrific at the very end of the year and got a second place finish at the PGA Championship and finished Top-10 at the British, double the points, a lot of value there; and Jim Furyk who has not won this year but plays consistently well every week.
And so it was almost the two guys that didn't win on the team are actually playing as well as anybody in the world right now -- well, maybe not as well as Vijay Singh but they are all playing pretty well.
That said I felt like it would be difficult to make the team if you didn't win and the other six guys have won a tournament this year. J.B. Holmes is the only other guy I picked that won a tournament this year. When I looked, I went back, and the last American winner was in July, really, other than Parker McLachlin winning opposite the British Open, which actually was in July. It's been difficult.
The process, if I were to look at it that way, was difficult.
JULIUS MASON: Hunter, are you on the line with us?
HUNTER MAHAN: Yes.
JULIUS MASON: Congratulations on making your first Ryder Cup Team. Say good morning to the captain and give us some thoughts on what you're feeling right now.
HUNTER MAHAN: Good morning, Captain Azinger. I've got the best feelings in the world right now. I'm on The Ryder Cup Team and there's nothing more to say than that, and I wish it started tomorrow. I think we are all pretty excited about it, and very much looking forward to it and excited about having it in the States and having so much fan support, so it's going to be a great event.
JULIUS MASON: J.B. Holmes, are you on the line?
J.B. HOLMES: Yes.
JULIUS MASON: Congratulations. Do you like the location of this year's event?
J.B. HOLMES: Very much so. To be able to play a course that you've played a lot and being in your home state, that's just unbelievable.
JULIUS MASON: Stay with us, if you don't mind, J.B. Mr. Campbell?
CHAD CAMPBELL: Yes, sir.
JULIUS MASON: Nice of you to be with us, because you're going to be getting some early mornings pretty soon. Thoughts on making the team again?
CHAD CAMPBELL: Obviously very excited. I knew, I felt like I was a little bit on the sought side looking in but definitely happy to get the call after I got off the plane from Captain Azinger last night. Unfortunately wasn't able to talk to him until this morning, but I got in really late last night. But very excited and just looking forward to getting it started.
JULIUS MASON: Thanks very much, Chad.
We're going to go back to Q&A. Ladies and gentlemen, I think we are having some technical difficulties with Mr. Stricker's line.
Q. Going back to the one comment you made earlier, there were two guys you said you really liked all along, if you could just talk about who those two guys were and why you liked them all along?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: I see no harm in telling you I really liked Steve Stricker and J.B. Holmes. Stricker has shown me a lot here, especially lately. I know his game is really good right now. I mean, he's confident. He's a terrific player. He's perfect on the team. His personality is good. Great chipper, great putter, and a proven match-play winner.
And J.B., for obvious reasons, power and local knowledge, and I think the fact that he's from that home state. I think J.B. is a terrific match-play player and is a British Open star.
Q. Did his final round at the PGA discourage you at all in your thinking?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: No, not at all. The guy led the tournament for three days on a course that I found to be extremely difficult. I played the Championship, and he tripled the first hole with the lead hitting a wayward tee shot and then got unlucky under a tree and it just snowballed like that.
When you want to win a tournament on a course that that's difficult, you begin to take some chances, and if it doesn't come off, you automatically are making bogeys on that golf course. That's the way it is, so that's a totally forgiven round.
J.B. is a terrific player and just had a rough day on a really hard course.
Q. And last thing, talking about hot players, there was a player coming in to this, two Top-10, didn't do so well at the Deutsche Bank over the last two rounds, Kevin Streelman, wonder where he popped up in your mind if at all?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Absolutely. I took a hard look at Kevin Streelman. I took a hard look at a whole bunch of players. You know, like I said, it's hard for me to justify why the guys didn't make the team. I can't really justify, you know, why I didn't pick who I didn't pick. I can just tell you why I picked the guys that I did pick. There's a lot of guys that deserve to be on this team and there's a lot of guys that were really close to making it.
JULIUS MASON: We'll go back to the phone line. We'll check to see if Mr. Stricker is awake yet.
STEVE STRICKER: I'm here.
JULIUS MASON: Say good morning to your captain and thoughts on making your first Ryder Cup Team.
STEVE STRICKER: Hello, every. Very excited to be getting that call last night. I was on the other end of a couple calls throughout my career; and to get that one, that's why I asked Paul right away if this was a good call for a bad call. I needed to know, and obviously it was a good call.
And I'm very excited and I'm very much looking forward to the competition and being part of the team. It has been my No. 1 goal at the start of the season. I kind of had a little mishap there in the middle of the season where I didn't play very well but knew that I still was in the running, and I felt like I finished off the selection process, you know, playing well, and very much excited and looking forward to the event.
JULIUS MASON: Thank you very much, Steve, and please stay with us for the duration of the news conference.
Q. Are you setting this thing up for bombers, the golf course that? That seems to be the impression upon the eight guys that have made it, Kenny and such, they said they gleaned that in talking to you; that you might have something special in store for the lengthy boys off the tee.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Well, you know, I personally -- I don't want anybody feeling handcuffed. I'm tired of playing in five-inch rough personally. So I think that the course, you know, a bomber is probably going to like the course. There's not a lot of rough. The first cut in spots is going to be pretty wide.
So does it favor anybody in particular, any team in particular? I don't know. I just felt like this event, I just didn't want anyone to feel handcuffed off the tee -- well, I mean, I don't care if Europe feels handcuffed, but yeah, I don't want our guys to feel handcuffed. (Laughter).
I don't think there's any advantage one way or another, just the way I set up the course personally, you know, Europe I think has been able to exploit an advantage trying to neutralize powerful teams. We don't nicely have a super powerful team at this point but we have a strong team that I'm proud of and some guys hit it long and some guys hit it straight. We'll see how it plays out.
Q. Do you envision the rock star Lennon/McCartney pairing with your two Kentucky boys and putting them together and maybe deafening the Europeans; could be very loud with the two locals in the same group.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Yeah, I could spread them out, too, and put them in separate groups.
I haven't really gotten into the pairing process too much at this point.
Q. How much did your thinking change in the last 24 hours?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: None really. I just was debating on a few guys right there at the end. Actually, it was last week after Vijay won the first of his FedExCup events where I stat back and actually started to pencil down. I had eight guys and started penciling down the names of the eight guys and trying to make some two-man teams out of those eight guys and started to look at the list beyond that and figure out who I thought fit.
Q. So yesterday did not have a dramatic impact on your thinking?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: It had an impact on my thinking. Didn't have a dramatic impact. It was down to a few guys and a couple guys jumped out.
Q. You're going to be an underdog, I suppose, and could you talk a little bit about going to Kentucky as an underdog?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Well, it will be unique to be I think in America on our home soil as underdogs, but clearly, The European Team is strong. I think it's one of the strongest teams I've ever seen them bring across here.
We will be an underdog. We are missing Tiger Woods, arguably the greatest player on earth -- well, not arguably; he is the greatest player on earth. Arguably the greatest player ever. That's a big blow to us.
I like the team that we have and I'm really confident with who we have, but I think it's confident that Europe has a terrific match-play record and team track record and we are going to be underdogs in this event and I think it's okay to be the underdog. Somebody has to be the underdog and it's very rare that it's evenly matched or a pick 'em. And I don't think this is going to be a pick 'em.
Q. Now that you have the whole team, I have a question, 1 through 12, how does -- what is the mesh of personalities like, 1 through 12, and how much does that matter?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: A personality mesh of 1 through 12, you want me to go through like everybody's personality profile or something? (Laughter) What do you want here?
Q. The mix of people that you have.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: I think it's a nice mix, a bunch of guys that will get along and actually relate to each other and communicate with one another. And everybody that I've talked to is happy with the other players, and I like the mix.
Q. How much does that matter?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: It matters a great deal.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: How does it matter? It matters. Personality matters. If you have guys that are not getting along or whatever, it makes a difference. But this team, like the personalities and the way they come together. I don't want to get specific.
Q. How disappointed are you that none of these guys, even though they knew what was at stake really jumped up and took charge of the situation and won a tournament or two and kind of put themselves on the map and made it easier for you to make a pick?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Ask me that again please.
Q. How disappointed ready you that these guys even though they knew what was at stake really didn't take charge, step up and win a tournament or two and make it easier on you to kind of make the pick.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Well, you know, I'm not going to focus on any kind of disappointment here.
All I can tell you is that the four guys that I have, I think were stand-out guys, and those were the four guys that became very obvious to me. And I'm happy with those four guys. I certainly would have loved somebody to come out of the pack and win, but it didn't happen.
Am I disappointed? No, I'm just taking what I got, and that's what I got, and I'm happy with the four guys. I like them a lot and they are all playing extremely well.
Q. Hello, how are you.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: I'm fine. I know this will be a tough question. Go ahead.
Q. We'll leave the tough question to the second point, but the first point is that Nick said on Sunday that he only wants one vice captain, and he believes that's all he needs; could you envisage yourself doing what you're doing with only one person to help you?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Yes. (Laughter).
Q. Why have you got three then?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Well, that's none of your business. (Laughter) What difference does it make to you how many assistants I have?
Q. Well, I'm just wondering, why Nick would say he only needed one; one seems to me, or to have only two, seems to be rather few when there are four matches on the golf course, and that's the view of most people.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: I'm not Nick. We're different people.
Q. But you're saying that you need more than two; is that right?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: No. I'm not saying that.
Q. (Chuckling) Well, then what are you saying, Paul? (Laughter).
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: I'm not paid to say anything. (Laughter).
JULIUS MASON: Is there another question you would like to throw at the Captain, John?
Q. Well, I'm sure he's got his answer all pat now, but does anything less than victory count?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: I didn't understand you.
JULIUS MASON: You're breaking up a little bit. Let's try that one more time.
Q. Okay. One more time, would anything less than victory for the United States be acceptable?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Well, what do you think?
Q. Well, here we go again. (Laughter) I tell you what I think. I think that under the circumstances, it might be, but I'm not the captain.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: I'm glad you're not the captain. I don't want to answer any questions, John, about that. That's a tricky question, and you even told me when you asked me that question the other day that I shouldn't have answered it, so I don't know why you would expect me to answer it now.
Q. Okay. Thank you very much.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Okay. (Laughter).
JULIUS MASON: You still remain on Captain Azinger's Christmas card list; I saw it.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: I love John, he's great, and he's clever, and he's trying to trap me and I'm not going to go for it. (Laughter).
Q. I just wanted to get your reaction to what Nick has done overseas. There seems to be just in reading some of the stories a lot of people surprised that Westwood (sic) didn't make it, and people are a little upset about Montgomerie. The Europeans have always been known for great team camaraderie; do you think that will make any difference in that sense at all for them?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Well, first of all, I think you misspoke when you said Westwood. I think you meant Darren Clarke.
Q. Excuse me. Darren Clarke, thank you.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Well, I don't want to justify why I didn't pick who I didn't pick, and I certainly don't want to justify for Nick why he didn't pick who he didn't pick. I can't really answer that question.
Q. Do you think that -- I guess the real question, though, is do you see them being as unified this time as they seem to have been in the past?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Yes.
Q. You talked a lot this year about the crowd and being the 13th man, and now that you do have two Kentuckians on the team, how do you envision -- how do you think the crowd can be a factor in these matches?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Well, I expect a real boisterous, home crowd advantage. That's what I'd like, imploring the crowd there to be our 13th man, all the while understanding that it is a golf event and that everyone needs to be properly behaved and never cross the line of what's proper etiquette in the event. And that's my hope, and I think sportsmanship should play out in the end as it always should in these Matches.
Q. How much have you analyzed or studied the approach of past U.S. Ryder Cup captains, and what do you see as your role when the first ball is teed up on Friday?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Friday, I'm going to kick back and relax with my multiple assistants, according to John Hopkins. (Laughter).
I'm going to watch these guys play. I really thought like, I feel like I've kind of gone outside the box a little bit in my thinking and really nothing that I want to talk about or share publicly or anything, but I just feel like I'm doing it my way.
I consider myself a little bit of a control freak and kind of maybe a little bit of a dominant personality, and you know, I'm doing it the way I want to do it. I'm surrounding myself with people that I think can contribute to our success.
So that's the way I'm doing it. I haven't really modeled the way I'm approaching this team and this concept after anybody.
Q. Do you see there much need to being a fiery-type personality?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Not really. I don't think so.
Q. Just wondering, how obvious Steve Stricker was as a pick, considering not only his play this year, but his play in the last two or three.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Steve Stricker was obvious to me after the PGA Championship. I didn't feel like I should tell Steve Stricker, because I didn't think that -- to me, it's almost more pressure if you say, listen I'm picking you know matter what, and then what does a guy feel when he's out there shooting a big score.
So I didn't want to do that to Steve. I knew he was sweating bullets. I had a couple friends from the media, you know, calling me and saying, I don't know if you're picking Stricker or not, but the guy is staring at the Coke machine like he thinks it's going to turn into something else.
So I know there was a lot on his plate, and I apologized to Steve when I talked to him yesterday that I didn't tell him sooner, but I didn't think it would be appropriate to tell him until he was done with the events. I liked Steve from the get-go, to answer your question.
Q. I'm glad you mentioned Tiger Woods a few moments ago, I didn't want to be the first one in the room to bring him up. But now that you've picked the team, a source told me that he is going to be traveling at least one day to Valhalla. Can you confirm that, and if not, how would you use him or how would you want to use him?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: It has not been confirmed. You know, Tiger's focused on rehab right now, and he needs to do what's best for his body.
I'm going to have an open phone line to Tiger Woods during the event. I didn't think it was fair to ask Tiger to participate in the selection process in any way. But I am kind of curious how he feels as the event unfolds and as things unfold throughout the week. He's really intelligent and he's a great golf mind, so I'm looking forward to talking to Tiger.
Q. As a follow-up, he was in New York City recently for the EA SPORTSTM unveiling. So that apparently didn't get in the way of his rehab. I imagine if you asked, he would come; having done that, again, what's your thinking?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: We haven't talked about it yet at all. I'll talk to Tiger but we haven't discussed that.
Q. You do have the No. 2 ranked player in the world on your team. Do you have any concerns about Phil's recent form?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: No, I think his recent form's been pretty good. He didn't play great last week. I think he's possibly a little bit tired. But Phil Mickelson is a terrific player, and I'm happy to have him on our team.
Q. Question for Chad, if he's still on the line. Just curious, Paul had brought it up earlier, your baby status, wondering where that's at and what your thoughts are going to the Ryder Cup with that on your plate, so to speak.
CHAD CAMPBELL: Right I don't think it will affect that at all. Funny that you ask, I'm actually sitting in the parking lot of the doctor's office and my wife is up there waiting on me to come up there, so we'll find out in about 15, 20 minutes how things are going.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: I think maybe we should let Chad go. (Laughter) What do you think?
Q. I have a question for Hunter. Obviously a lot was made of recent comments that you've said about The Ryder Cup and how players have to go through the ringer so to speak; wondering what your thoughts are now looking back on that and going forward to The Ryder Cup.
HUNTER MAHAN: Yes, well, I've talked to the PGA of America. I've talked to Captain Azinger about those comments, and I think that we have all moved on from those comments, and I think I'm just looking forward to The Ryder Cup.
I'm so grateful that Captain Azinger has given me this opportunity, and I'm looking forward to starting it up. I'm looking forward to every minute, every second of it, and I'm going to enjoy every second of it.
Q. Looking at this team, it looks like you've got no superstar, but a bunch of guys who I would say who are very proficient, workmen-like golfers; in the past, have you played on a team like that, or how would you characterize this team?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: I think that's a pretty good characterization of those guys actually. There's a bunch of workmen-like personalities on this team. I think their personalities all seem to blend and mesh nicely together. All my teams were kind of workmen-like teams, I felt like, in the past, and we had some success. So maybe it will bode will for us.
Q. Hunter, if you're still there, wondering how much Paul caught you by surprise, or were you pretty confident leading up to it today?
HUNTER MAHAN: You know, when I talked to Captain Azinger a couple weeks ago, we had a great chat, and I think he knew when I said -- my true feelings at heart; he knew how much I wanted to make the team, and so I felt like I was on his radar; and if I could just play well the last few weeks, I would get the nod. But I felt a lot of support from a lot of players and different media and stuff. So I felt like I still had a chance. I didn't feel like I knocked myself out of it. I still have to keep playing golf and try to make it -- like I say, I wanted to be on the team and I wanted to contribute, so definitely very grateful for this opportunity.
Q. Chad, are you still there?
CHAD CAMPBELL: I am.
Q. When did you get an inkling, if at all, you were on Paul's watch list? He's picking you as much based on past experience and the last few days, and how flabbergasted were you when you got the nod?
CHAD CAMPBELL: You know, I was pretty excited. Didn't really -- didn't really know. I knew I was on the outside looking in, but I was just hoping and felt like I played pretty well over the last couple months, other than a couple tournaments. I was just hoping that -- you know, hoping that he saw that. And I feel like I'm playing as well as I ever have right now. I feel like I'm honored to be picked and I appreciate the opportunity.
Q. I was wondering, are they going to induce today or bring the baby sooner because of The Ryder Cup?
CHAD CAMPBELL: Right. Well, the actual due date is the 4th, which is Thursday. We're going to see what's happening right now. We would love to be able to do it today or tomorrow but we're kind of up in the air right now, a lot of things going on right now. We'll have to wait and see.
Q. We were out at Ridgewood a couple of weeks ago and got to see Woody play a little in the Pro-Am, and most pros, the common thought is that they don't like those things and Woody was very engaging with the people in his group, actually giving them lessons on the tee and that was something that really surprised me as a lifelong golf fan. No one has mentioned him yet and he was obviously high on the points, great American; what was your thinking?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: A lot of the professionals will take care of their amateurs in the Pro-Am, so I think you're going to find that throughout.
Woody is an exceptional person and a terrific player. I've said all along, I don't want to try to justify why I didn't pick anybody that I didn't pick. He would have been a terrific pick, but there are a lot of guys who would have been terrific picks. I just want to stick to my guns on this and just try to justify the reasons why I really like those guys. There are a lot of players that could have been picked for this team. I just chose to go the direction that I've decided.
Q. Not asking you to justify or going against what you're saying, but you mentioned earlier why how difficult it was, on a few particular guys you were pretty close with. Rocco is a guy that had a pretty serious run early, and I just wonder how difficult that was not to bring him along; I think a lot of people, myself included, thought personality-wise and playing-wise he would have been good for the team?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: There's no question Rocco could have been a tremendous asset to the team and I could name several players that would have been a tremendous asset for the team. It was really difficult for me not to pick Rocco Mediate.
Q. Chad, you still there?
CHAD CAMPBELL: Yes, I am.
Q. You shouldn't be. (Laughter)?
CHAD CAMPBELL: Well, I'm looking right at my wife. She's waiting to go in.
Q. Tell her we said hello. For clarity, have you withdrawn from St. Louis this week?
CHAD CAMPBELL: Not yet.
Q. You can go now.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: I think we should release you, Chad. Thanks for participating.
CHAD CAMPBELL: Thanks a lot guys, I appreciate it.
Q. Looking ahead here, since it's the first time we've picked so close to The Ryder Cup, what is your plan for arrival? Do you plan to go to St. Louis at all and see some of the boys? Are you going to get together and meet before you come in on a bus or plane? How are you going to do that?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: I just plan on seeing the guys on Monday the week of the Matches. I don't plan on going to St. Louis at all. I'm going to go to Valhalla and take another look tomorrow. But beyond that, I haven't implored anybody that they need to play a practice round. I feel like they are all big boys and all professionals and I don't need to hold their hand.
If anybody wants to go in there and look at Valhalla, they are welcome to do it. The European Team is going to be in there, and they are going to look at it. But our guys, you know, a couple guys may go look.
It's not a real difficult close to learn. It's pretty much right in front of you. And three practice rounds is a lot. So they are going to get plenty of time on the golf course. Personally, I would go in, if I had never seen it, just for a piece of mind. There's something about driving into the parking lot of a place you've never seen before, especially in a huge event. I always liked getting in early at the majors and having a look and knowing where I was going. So I think some guys will go, but as far as I'm concerned, you know, I'm not pushing for it, so they can do what they want.
Q. When is the drop-dead date, if you will, for exactly how you want the course set up? And secondly, are you the type of captain who will have a game plan going in and will stick to it no matter what, or do things on the fly?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Well, as far as the deadline on the golf course setup, I think tomorrow I'm going to make my decision on the golf course setup.
I don't feel that based on the makeup of my team and their team that there's anyway that I'm going to get an advantage on the golf course setup, so I'm kind of throwing that out the window. I felt like if there was a perceived advantage, I would look for it. I felt like if I could create any kind of edge in any kind of way, I would go for it. But based on the way the two teams are made up, I don't see that in any scenario.
That said, you know, maybe I'll make a decision tomorrow one way or the other.
The idea, will I react on the fly, I'm not sure to what extent you mean act on the fly. So if you want to be more -- follow up with something more specific, you can. I'm pretty solid on the way I want to approach the team and how we are going to go out and do the things we are going to go do.
Q. If you have teams in mind Friday morning, and you're down 4-0 in the afternoon, will you change things?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: If we're down in the morning, will I change my pairings in the afternoon?
Q. As an example.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Under that scenario, I'm probably going to work on the fly. (Laughter) I mean, there's no way you could say you wouldn't make some kind of a change. If we're up 4-0, you know, maybe then I make a change, as well. You could go either way.
Q. You talked about Tiger and having an open phone line. Would you prefer that he not come, if you had the choice, if he was willing to come, would you prefer that he not come? Is there a possibility he could be a distraction if he does? Would you prefer he just say by the bat phone and kind of talk to you?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: I haven't really -- to be honest with you, I really haven't given it that much thought, whether he's going to want to come or whether I want him to come or any of that. I want Tiger to get better, and I want to watch Tiger on TV live. I'm tired of watching him on tape win all these tournaments. I want to see him win some tournaments live again.
I'm pulling for Tiger to get better and return to form. I think the game needs Tiger and misses Tiger. I'm going to really miss that Tiger is not going to be there and Elin and the baby. It's one of my great regrets of this Ryder Cup that he's not going to be a participant in these matches.
Other than that, I haven't really put a lot of thought into he's going to come or whether I want him to come.
JULIUS MASON: We would like to congratulate and thank Steve, Hunter, J.B. and Chad for joining us today, Captain Azinger, thank you very much for your time.
End of FastScripts