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THE RYDER CUP MEDIA CONFERENCE
June 3, 2009
SCOTT CROCKETT: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you once again for your attendance this afternoon on what is a very special occasion for everyone connected with both the Celtic Manor Resort, and of course, Ryder Cup Europe.
In a little under 16 months' time, two 12-man teams representing the United States and Europe will come together to contest the 37th Ryder Cup on The Twenty Ten Course here at Celtic Manor, and we are delighted that the two men who will be central to the drama and excitement which is certain to unfold that week join us here this afternoon.
United States Captain Corey Pavin and European Captain Colin Montgomerie are both steeped in Ryder Cup history: Between them they have made 11 appearances as players in the biannual contest, with Corey having been on the winning side in two of his three appearances where Colin has experienced that special joy on five out of his eight.
Both have swapped their playing responsibilities for the role of captain, and all of this room join together to wish you both the very best of luck starting this week, of course, in the Celtic Manor Wales Open, and leading up to The Ryder Cup itself next October.
Before we open up the floor to general Q&A session, I would like to invite both captains to say just a few words of their own welcome. As our guest here this week, Corey, I'll ask you to start the ball rolling.
COREY PAVIN: Thank you very much. I would like to thank Sir Terry Matthews for hosting my wife, Lisa, and myself here this week and Barclays for hosting The Wales Open. I'm very glad to be here and to be able to play in the tournament and do a little reconnaissance work, as well, certainly. I think it's going to be a good week. So far the weather has been fairly good and everybody says the weather is going to be like this in The Ryder Cup, as well, so I'm expecting it. Right?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Right.
COREY PAVIN: I think the golf course is very good. I like the golf course a lot. It's a very straightforward course, it has some exciting finishing holes which will be good for stroke play, but certainly for The Ryder Cup, as well, it's going to be very interesting so I'm glad to be here and I'll turn to over to Colin now.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Thank you. And may I second Corey's thoughts in thanking Sir Terry for his hospitality and to the Celtic Manor Resort, as well. I think Corey and I will and have been already hosted royally since we have been both made captains back at the start of the year.
So we just look forward to a wonderful 16 months ahead of us to get everything in place to have a wonderful occasion here in Wales, and we look forward to the two Wales Opens that are coming up this week, and also in a years' time.
Again, we just look forward to everything that's associated with being captains of The Ryder Cup.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Okay, gentlemen, thank you very much for those opening comments.
Q. There seems to be a sense of relief that Colin wasn't at the last Ryder Cup; I wonder if you got the same emotion seeing him sat in this role rather than being one of the guys that your team will go up against.
COREY PAVIN: I'm trying to understand the question. (Laughter).
I think you're saying that we were happy he didn't play last time because he's such a good Ryder Cup player; right?
Q. I suggested it, yeah.
COREY PAVIN: He's very good. Obviously his record is fantastic.
Q. I said are you pleased that he's going to be doing this role so your team won't have to face him, either.
COREY PAVIN: Well, he could still play; right?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Officially I could play, but unofficially I'm not going to.
COREY PAVIN: Unofficially, though.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, there will be no playing. But thank you for your comment. That's very kind.
COREY PAVIN: The record speaks for itself I think.
I think Colin has actually said that he's not going to play no matter what, which it would be very difficult to do both, certainly and I think being a captain is such a huge honour. It comes once in a career, basically, and if you do have that opportunity.
So it's a great honour and whatever team The European Team is going to have is going to be very strong. And I'm certainly hoping that the U.S. Team is very strong, as well, and we'll have a very competitive match. There are certainly players that have played well for Europe on the European side, and it's going to be -- I just expect it to be a very close match. I expect it to be very competitive, and everybody behaving very well.
Q. As the home captain, I believe you have the right to make certain changes to playing conditions of the course. I wondered if you had any thoughts and ideas having played it as often as you have with things like rough around the greens and situations like that that could possibly favour the home side.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think there's a lot of talk about setting up the course. I think you can tie yourself in knots if you're not careful by trying to do something different. I think the course will be set up in a very fair manner, and allowing the best golf on either team to win.
I think that's the fairest way to go. I think there will be nothing tricked up about this course at all. It doesn't need it. It's a fair test of golf, as Corey said and I think that it will be set up in a fair manner.
COREY PAVIN: Actually Colin is going to confer with me about how it's set up.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah. (Laughter).
Q. Question for both of you. The tournament, I'm told, is again going to be two weeks before the U.S. Open next year and you both want your players to get a look at the course. That's not going to be easy, is it, with that place in the schedule?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I can speak for mine and say that for those players who are not playing, potential Ryder Cup players that are not playing this year, I will be asking them to participate next. All I can do is ask. I can't insist, because they are individuals and they are on their own schedules.
But I can ask, certainly, as to how many are playing. I'm not sure yet. But I certainly will be asking, and expecting a number to play. It's easier for us, of course, being home here than it is for Corey's players to come and play here. But all I can speak for my own players is that I would expect a number to be participating anyway, because of course, it's a qualifying event, anyway.
COREY PAVIN: Well, obviously what Colin said, it's a little different for us to come over here and play, but you know, next year, what I'm going to try to do is again ask my players, ask they come over for The Open Championship, either before or after, probably before, to maybe come out here if they can and try to set something up with the PGA of America to help out to come out and try to get a few practice rounds in whoever wants to come over that is coming over for The Open Championship.
It is a little more problematical for us, but if the players would like to come over, it's their option and their choice. I certainly would like to see my potential players come over and see the course once or twice before The Ryder Cup week.
Q. I'm just wondering, there's only one player from Europe's team last year, Ryder Cup Team last year; did you ask any of the potential players to come this year?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I didn't, not this year, no. We are three late withdrawals in SÃ¸ren Hansen and Robert Karlsson and Oliver Wilson that played last year, so we had four down, which was quite good. I haven't asked anybody this year, and for those who haven't played this year, I will be asking for next.
Q. Disappointing that there are not more potential players here this week?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, it comes at the end of a long run that we've had in Europe, as you're well aware. I can't insist on any players to play, or on the quality of the field. I'm just very happy that Corey is participating alongside myself here, and we look forward to it ourselves.
Q. Mention was made about the fans in Valhalla, and The K Club before that; what do you expect from the Welshman and the Welsh reception you're going to get next year?
COREY PAVIN: I was over in Ireland. I thought the fans were fantastic over there. They were very vocal for The European Team and very respectful of our team. I would expect the Welsh people and the European fans to do the same. I don't see why they wouldn't. I think the fans in Valhalla were just the opposite, cheering for the U.S. Team and then respectful of The European Team. That's the way the fans should behave and I think they will, and I don't expect any problems from that.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I would second what Corey says exactly. I think that you do hear a roar on the course, and you can tell if it's a European roar or a roar for the American Team. So that's just a home advantage, if you like, I suppose.
But that's all it is. I think Corey is dead right in that respect will be shown for the away team, if you like, for the American Team, as we have been given respect in the last years when we go abroad to America.
Q. A couple of tournaments ago you were asked about player participation at The Wales Open, and two of the comments you made were that probably the winner in 2010 would figure highly in your three wildcard thoughts, and also players who played well here.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes.
Q. Given that, are you surprised that more have not tried to turn up this week to impress you; or B, if they don't turn up next year, will you issue that warning in advance, or would you like to do it now?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think you just have. (Laughter).
I can't insist on people playing in tournaments. I cannot do that. I can ask for participation, which I'm sure they'll get a number to say yes. It is a qualifying tournament; so it's in their own right to actually play, anyway. And I would expect a much stronger participation of Ryder Cup potential players to play next year.
Q. And if they don't, would that count against them in your mind?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I can't say at this stage who we are talking about, but I would expect those potential, potential Ryder Cup players to be playing here.
Q. Kiawah Island seems a thousand years ago; however, the memory city dances vividly. You brought a lot of things to that, including a very passionate participation that you took some criticism for, at least in some quarters this side of the Atlantic. These many years forward, are you still the same guy, or will you bring the same patriotic intensity to the week here or have you chilled out a bit in that regard?
COREY PAVIN: I hope I'm as patriotic or more patriotic than I was then; obviously referring to the Desert Storm hat. That was misconstrued, maybe over here, I suppose. But it was just a show of support for our troops over in Iraq.
So that's what that was all about, and I think a lot of people took it the wrong way and that was just supporting the troops, nothing more than that. I was showing my patriotism to the guys out there putting their lives on the line for our freedom, and if that's wrong, so be it, but I don't think that was wrong.
I think I bring a passion to The Ryder Cup a competitiveness that I have for The Ryder Cup, and a love for The Ryder Cup. I hope that I can instill that in players that need to have it instilled, and I feel like our players are guys that want to win The Ryder Cup. They are very passionate about it, as well. So I don't think I'll need to put patriotism in our guys and the will to win. But maybe I can guide them in other areas if I can and if they need it.
So I'm hoping I can bring some leadership to the team where it's needed to be and get the guys to play the best golf they can and give these guys over here a run for their money.
Q. Did you learn anything from what Azinger did? He had the pep rally; I don't think you'll have a pep rally down in Newport.
COREY PAVIN: Trying to get the Welsh people on our side; what do you think, do we have a chance?
Q. You never know, free drink, might work.
COREY PAVIN: Make a note of that.
Q. And he did that pod system where he split the team up into different teams within the team as it were. Is that something that you're likely to try to replicate?
COREY PAVIN: Well, I think every captain does that to some extent. I think what Paul did is take it to another level.
Every captain that I've played for and that I've talked to since I've been named captain, we always have players that we think are going to work together very well anyway. There are always going to be a few pairings that are just kind of no-brainers, so to speak, and there's just a few other guys that may match up intermixed with those guys so you kind of have a little groups of people anyway starting off. So what Paul did is just make them into four groups or three groups of four and then just did it that way.
You know, for me, it might be groups of three or a group of five here that work together or I'll just have to see the makeup of the team and decide at that time how I will make that work.
Q. The difference was that he had a leader for each team, an outside guy that he brought in, would you do that?
COREY PAVIN: You know, I'll have to see what the team is like, who is going to be on the team. It's going to make a difference on who the 12 are. Obviously I will have eight that will make it on merit and four that I get to pick and I'll just have to see how the team is shaping up and how the players are going to work within each other.
So it's going to be a decision that I am going to make as I get very close to The Ryder Cup itself, and when I find out the makeup of the team.
Q. I think you both made your debuts in '91 at Kiawah, and you played each other on the second day, just wanted to know your memories of that.
COREY PAVIN: I have no memories of our match. (Laughter).
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I remember the 17th green very well, yeah. But a good game, a very close game. Steve Pate and Corey against Bernhard Langer and myself, and we had a very, very close game, and they all are. They are all very close games in The Ryder Cup, even if you're winning sort of 3-up, 4-up. It's still very, very close; a lipout or a shot here or there is going to change things. They are all close games, and I am glad we have played together in The Ryder Cup and understand what it's about.
Q. There was a perception over here that interest in America in The Ryder Cup was waning during Europe's period of supremacy. I just wondered if there is a noticeable increase of interest back home and whether you feel under more pressure to retain the trophy because of that.
COREY PAVIN: I think it was probably more depression that we felt because we were losing than anything else.
No, I never felt it waning at all in the U.S. side. I think there's probably more and more determination, and coming over here, not having won The Ryder Cup on foreign soil since '93, I think there's a new kind of determination that we are going to have when we come over here.
Q. You come from a generation of players who were that dominant, and a lot of them are now sort of making way at many tournaments to younger players. Do you see The Ryder Cup Team you are going to have as maybe excitingly young but maybe a bit inexperienced the way things are going at the moment?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I still plan on having the sort of nucleus of the team that's remained for the last two or three Ryder Cups. And then of course, as you say, very, very fortunate to have the talent that we have in Europe assembled right now and it will be very interesting to see who actually comes through and makes the team on merit and that allows me, as Corey said, for the makeup of my team to see who can fit in with that; whether I have a very experienced team and I can go with some rookies, or I have a very inexperienced team and have to some experience. All depends how the qualifying system works.
All I'm very, very happen hey with now, as I've said many, many times in Europe we have an incredible wealth of talent here in Europe that we are very, very, very happy with.
Q. You mentioned how the course next to you will be setup in a fair manner. Do you feel that was the case at Valhalla and also just how badly do you want to win The Ryder Cup?
COREY PAVIN: I think what lengths will you go to win The Ryder Cup, is that the question? (Laughing.)
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, not being at Valhalla, I wasn't there, so I didn't see how the course was set up in, say, the American favour or whatever. So I can't answer that question, all I can say is that I will do my utmost as Corey will to try to win this magnificent trophy.
Q. We all know how big The Ryder Cup is, and this is just part of the whole shooting match we are going to see over the next 16 months, but how do you feel being captains is going to impact on your own personal performance on the golf course. Do you see it detracting in any way or do you see it as something that's going to help you?
COREY PAVIN: I don't see it detracting from my game. My schedule is going to pretty much stay the same this year. Next year I'm not sure where I'm going to be playing. Depends on how I play this year, or whether I'll be on the Champions Tour or the regular tour. I'll have to wait and assess that at the end of the year.
But it's not going to change my playing schedule at all. Even if I go out on the Champions Tour, I will be out on the regular tour in off-weeks and I'll play some tournaments on the regular tour as well. I don't think it will impact how I play. It may impact where I am but I'll play the same tournaments that I've played before.
You know, as far as I can tell, I'm going to try to get a lot done this year, especially in the off-season, and try to get all of my things that we have to do behind the scenes done, obviously with the help of my wife, Lisa, get a lot done. And then I'll just go out and play. I think it's important for me to keep playing. And I'll be watching a lot more TV and seeing what the guys are doing and making a lot more phone calls and talking to guys and things like that.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I personally will still be competing obviously on a full schedule on The European Tour and as many majors as possible.
So I'll be doing my 32 tournaments out here in Europe as I have done for the last ten years. So that won't change. As an impact on the standard of play that I'll be hopefully competing with, it has impacted slightly, I think, on my own playing schedule.
But as Corey said, when that's done and when we sort out all of the things that goes on behind the scenes, which is incredible to think of what goes on behind the scenes, we used to turn up on these Ryder Cups and just everything was in the room for and you now we have to do that ourselves.
So there is an awful lot of background work involved, but at the same time, once that's out of the way, I think that my own golf standard will come back again.
Q. Forgive me if you have announced your vice captains, but I don't think you have, how many will you have, and have you any idea that you're prepared to tell us as to who they are? And incidentally what is your thinking about the number of vice captains needed?
COREY PAVIN: Needed or how many I'm going to have?
Q. Might be the same thing.
COREY PAVIN: I'll have four. I'll have four people coming over with me. I don't know who they are yet. I have a list of people that I'm considering. I'll make that decision sometime next year. I have no timetable for an announcement or anything like that, but it will be next year at some time; I will make that announcement.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Similar, really. I think that you can put two and two together and say that I had a big say in the selection of the Seve Trophy captains in Thomas BjÃ¶rn and Paul McGinley, and I will be overseeing that particular event and I'll be there, anyway, to have a chat with them and see how they progress. And there's potential there for them to take up a vice captaincy role.
But at the same time, you'll find out next year, really, even if -- yeah, there's the next year to go. There's no rush in actually deciding that particular reason.
Q. Do you have a preference for a particular number?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think Corey is right. I think more is the better, to see exactly what's going on; to have somebody with every group, to have help, to have advice, to work as a group I think is very important.
So I think that it is important to have. I will be having four, as well, I believe, and it is very, very important to work together as a group to feed off information that's coming from the course and from the locker room and from other sources.
Q. Is there any possibility you might try to resurrect what could be seen as a failed experiment of playing Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson or is that totally out of your thinking?
COREY PAVIN: We'll have to wait and see on that one I suppose. I don't know. I haven't really thought about specific pairings. They both might not be on the team. (Laughter).
You're not buying that? You're not buying that answer. I don't know, I haven't really thought about that that much. We'll see how the team makeup is and what's going to happen.
Q. Going back to your vice captains, one candidate said recently, and I don't want to drag his name into the conversation, that "I've been a vice captain before, you don't get to make any decisions." Will your vice captains have an influence over you?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I think it's very-wise. I think that you have to listen to what others think and then I'll make my decisions from there. But it's wrong if I've got people there to help and not listen. I think one has to listen, as any leader of any team has to do. You have to listen, and then make your own judgment from there. But a very un-wise man doesn't listen.
Q. With Ian Woosnam being a Welshman and also a successful Ryder Cup Captain --
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Indeed.
Q. -- are you thinking of getting him involved as one of the advice captains?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I haven't made my decision as I say, but Ian did a fantastic job in Ireland, a super job, and being from these parts, there should be no reason why someone of his experience and how he is thought of on the course shouldn't be involved in my thinking.
But as I said, and as Corey so rightly said, we will both know later on next year.
Q. If Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson don't make your team, can we have them as wildcards?
COREY PAVIN: You have to remember, they are still Americans. They can lose their matches on purpose. (Laughter).
Q. How did you view the change in the number of European wildcards from two to three? Do you see it as a reaction to the result in Valhalla?
COREY PAVIN: Well, I don't know if I see it as an action to the result in Valhalla. It's maybe an intelligent decision, I believe.
When the PGA of America decided to go to four picks, it seemed to work fairly well. I think maybe the European Ryder Cup Committee saw some merit in having a few more picks. To have the flexibility of more picks is always better, and as a captain, the more picks you can have, the better it is. I'd like to have 12 picks but they wouldn't go for that. PGA of America wouldn't go for that.
It's nice to have that flexibility. I'm sure Colin is happy to have an extra pick. I'm certainly happy to have four, and the more, the better I think.
Q. Question to both of you if you care to answer. It seemed to many of us that Tiger has approached The Ryder Cup, usually as more of a chore than a joy. That's been the perception. What's been your perception as you watch? And Colin, if you can say what you think.
COREY PAVIN: I'm glad you asked that that way, because the perception of whoever has the other perception I don't think is accurate.
Tiger wants to win The Ryder Cup very, very badly. I was with him in Ireland quite a lot during that week, and you know, as a player, I can watch another player and see in his eyes what he's thinking and what's going through his head, and I saw a very determined man wanting to win The Ryder Cup. I don't know how to say it any simpler than that. I don't know where people get their perceptions about that, but I guarantee you, Tiger wands to win The Ryder Cup very, very badly.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I would have to second Corey begin. I think that the times I've played against Tiger, he's had incredible intensity in his game. There always is, but it just proves the fragility of golf in that any anybody can beat anybody at any given day and I think it's just been unfortunate that people have played up to their top standard against him and sometimes come out on top when others might not think that was possible.
Yes, he lost his first singles in '97 but has not lost since, and obviously being the No. 1 in the world, a fantastic, a fantastic player in every right. And as you said, we'd rather have him on our team than playing against him.
Q. Staying on the Tiger theme, after his recent knee problems, are you convinced he'll be able to play 36 holes a day?
COREY PAVIN: That's a long time from now, as well. I haven't talked to him specifically about how he feels about playing that many rounds of golf. I don't see any point of talking to him about it now; it's so far away.
I will broach the subject with him when it comes. That's something I will talk to every player about how much they will feel they can play. There will be players on the team that will have a nagging injury of some kind that will prohibit them from playing 36 holes in two days.
It's not just Tiger; it's everybody on the team that has to be approached and asked about things like that, which as the captain I need to know what players can go 36 two days in a row and who can't. And Tiger is no different than any other player on the team.
Q. How much of a disappointment would it be to you to have Tiger on the team not available to play every round?
COREY PAVIN: Depends on how he's playing at the time.
Q. The other perception from the European standpoint about Tiger was that it was difficult to pair him with anybody because it's so intimidating; other players might feel they were going to let him down. Now having a team of players that have won without him, is that going to be less of a problem?
COREY PAVIN: I think it helps to have won, certainly. The players that were on the winning team that will be on my team in 2010, it's a positive. It has to be a positive.
So you know, as far as playing with Tiger, just pairing one player with another player is not easy. It doesn't matter who you are, and certain players are going to mesh better than others. I think there's plenty of guys that would want to play with Tiger and that will enjoy it. It's probably going to be easier now with more confidence with some of the players that have played on The Ryder Cup in 2008 to feel comfortable in The Ryder Cup setting and playing with Tiger.
Q. Do you think that was a problem in the past, that other players might have been intimidated by playing with him?
COREY PAVIN: Well, I don't know, would you be intimidated playing with him.
Q. If I thought I was going to let him down, yeah.
COREY PAVIN: I think everybody feels that way in Ryder Cup. Whoever your partner is, you don't want to let down your partner. It really doesn't matter who you are. I think it's not an issue of so much who won player is or the other.
When you partner up with somebody, the one thing I've always told my partner is I never want to hear 'I'm sorry' from you, ever. And that's a tough thing in The Ryder Cup, because you want to do so well and you want to play so well with your partner, but you have to do your own thing, and that's the key, or a key.
Q. There's a good chance you're both going to have rookies on your team, and in the past, Ryder Cups haven't played until the singles; how important do you think it is the rookies get to play before single matches?
COREY PAVIN: (Turning to Colin).
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Thank you. Everybody on my team, I can only speak for The European Team, will be playing before the singles. The only way that they won't is if there's an unfortunate injury or whatever the case may be, but everybody will be playing at least once before the singles.
COREY PAVIN: I haven't decided yet. (Chuckling).
I would certainly like to have everybody play before the singles. I've heard it from every captain I've ever talked to. You want to get players in there and get their feet wet before singles, definitely, and I think these players have worked very hard for many years to play on The Ryder Cup Team, and the last thing I want to do is deprive a player of playing in The Ryder Cup as much as possible. Sometimes it's difficult to have that happen, but my intention is certainly to play everybody before the singles as well.
Q. Can you both recall a very valuable piece of advice from a captain to help you cope with Ryder Cup pressure?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Wow.
COREY PAVIN: That's a good question.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: The last question being the best of the lot. My word. There's a number of them. I've had six captains and there's a number of very, very influential meetings that we have had and things that people have said.
I think the one that springs to mind is I think Sam Torrance, when he spoke to us when we first arrived on the Monday of The Belfry in 2002, he said: "I'm awfully glad that you've left your egos at the door, and you can pick them up on Monday morning when you leave."
COREY PAVIN: I'm going to write that down. That's good. (Laughter) thanks for the tip. I appreciate that.
I think on an individual basis, I think I had Lanny, Captain Watkins tell me a couple of months before The Ryder Cup, he said, get in shape because you're going to play five matches. That was -- I don't know if it's advice, but it was a very big boost to my confidence for him to say that to me. That was probably the neatest thing someone said to me as a captain.
Q. You did play fine.
COREY PAVIN: I did. I was four and one, if you'd like to know. (Laughter) I beat you guys that year.
How come they didn't ask me about the time I won the match?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's shocking, isn't it.
Q. We firmly believe on this side of the water that Rory McIlroy will make a debut next year in The Ryder Cup; do you have anybody equivalent or who do you see as your outstanding candidates to be first-time players next year?
COREY PAVIN: Well, there's a few guys that I've been -- I'm obviously watching everybody, but there are a few guys that have played pretty well this year that haven't played. Probably the one that -- it's not a big secret, but Sean O'Hair is playing very well and he has not played in a Ryder Cup. I suspect if he keeps playing the way that he is, he's going to earn his way on to the team anyway. That would be one player that comes to my mind right away.
SCOTT CROCKETT: All right, gentlemen, thank you very much for your attendance.
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