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THE RYDER CUP MEDIA CONFERENCE
October 12, 2009
SCOTT CROCKETT: Thank you very much for your attendance this afternoon. Ladies and gentlemen, it's my great pleasure to welcome you here today as part of our special 'Year to Go' Celebrations as we continue to look forward to the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor next October.
Before we hear from the two gentlemen on my left, I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome several special guests here with us this afternoon. It's always been a thrilling contest, perhaps the pinnacle of our sport in a team context. Ryder Cup allows us to make many friends, and we are delighted that two gentlemen in particular have travelled over from the United States to be with us today. Jim Remy, president of the PGA of America, and Joe Steranka, CEO of the PGA of America, have worked hand-in-hand with us here in Ryder Cup Europe in every aspect of the contest itself, and gentlemen, we are delighted to have you with us here today.
From our own European Tour, we are pleased to welcome Chief Executive, George O'Grady, and Ryder Cup Director, Richard Hills. From the PGAs of Europe, John Yapp is here, and also one of the greats of Welsh golf, Brian Huggett. You are all most welcome and thank you for your attendance today.
Last but by no means least from the audience, I'm delighted to welcome the man without whom none of us would be sitting here today. It's a fact that Sir Terry Matthews was actually born on this site where this magnificent Celtic Manor now stands, and it's a very appropriate analogy because it was his vision drive is it and determination that gave back to the notion that Celtic Manor, and, indeed, Wales, could host The Ryder Cup, a dream which will become a reality in a little under a year's time. Terry, as always, thank you and your staff for your hospitality this week.
Of course we turn to two gentlemen, Corey Pavin and Colin Montgomerie, who will stand proudly shoulder-to-shoulder with their 12 men, their teams, they believe, to win in the 2010. Now we are delighted that they sit shoulder to shoulder with us here today to continue the build up to what will undoubtedly be a fantastic occasion in 12 months' time.
Before we move into a question and answer session, I would like to ask both captains to say a few words of introduction, and Corey as our special guest, if you would like to start us off please.
COREY PAVIN: Thank you for being with us here. Thank you, Sir Terry, for great hospitality here at Celtic Manor once again. We had a wonderful time when we were here in June, and again, the hospitality is fantastic, thank you very much.
I would just like to say that we had a fun day out there on the golf course good, fun, a good kickoff to start the year to go function today. Halve match, it was good. It was all good fun out there. We enjoyed it. It's going to be a very fun dinner tonight. I think it's going to be very enjoyable.
The golf course looked pretty much the shape as it did in June, I believe. Great shape. Looking very much forward to coming back here in a year and hopefully lead our team to victory. I'm sure Colin is going to try to do the same thing. I think we are going to have a fantastic competition and it looks like it's going to shape up to be extremely competitive, extremely close, and thank you for having us here today, and I'll pass it over to Captain Montgomerie.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Thank you, Corey. Thank you, Scott, for your kind words. And I thank that Corey and our friends approximate from the PGA, thank you for coming all that way from San Francisco, it's a long way to Wales, and I must also thank Terry for his hospitality. And throughout this course since I was announced captain back in February, he has been nothing but a great host every time we've been down here.
So thank you so much, and we look forward to everybody coming down here in a year's time, and enjoying your fantastic resort that we have here today.
To everybody that was associated with today's golf, we thank you. To Bryn Terfel, and also to my partner, Chris Evans, delighted, we'll see more of them and hear more of them this evening, that they did a marvellous job on a super golf course that was in great condition. And we just look forward to the weather being as similar as it was today in a years' time.
We all look forward to coming back here for as Corey so rightly said, some great, exciting matches and a close Ryder Cup.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Thank you very much for those opening comments.
Q. You mentioned the condition of the course. Obviously it's been causing some concern because it's going to be played so late in the year. How was it under foot, and how did it hold up compared to The Wales Open?
COREY PAVIN: It was excellent. I didn't even know it had rained here, at all. The greens -- actually this, type of weather is ideal for these greens. You don't want these greens to grow real fast.
So when it's cool like this, this is actually the exact type of greens I grew up playing in southern California, and I know that when the weather is cool and the grass doesn't have a lot of peat to grow. They are going to be beautiful. I thought the greens were fantastic, and I'm sure a year from now they are going to be beautiful.
Q. Colin, can I ask you about The Presidents Cup last night, I'm sure you were monitoring it, when you got your captaincy, you mentioned that Tiger Woods would make it that much more difficult, was there a sense of foreboding when you watched the way he played in The Presidents Cup?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, it's very interesting that he seems to have this team game down as well as the individual one now. We're all thrilled. (Laughter).
Five points out of five can never be -- well, there's never a European ever achieved that feat in Ryder Cup play. So it proves how that type of feat is. There's only a few Americans, I believe Larry Nelson and there's only a couple that's actually achieved it in Ryder Cup history.
So five out of five is always a fantastic feat, and as I said, this will be difficult enough to try and regain The Ryder Cup without Tiger Woods; never mind if he's back to his top form and winning five points out of five, it makes our job even tougher. So we have to counteract that by playing as well as we can against him and also the other 11 players on that team.
But I think it makes it -- I hate to say here in front of Corey and our American friends, but it makes it a better win if we can regain The Ryder Cup with Tiger Woods in it.
Q. For those of us in America who have not seen a course, is there a course back home that this reminds you of that you could compare it to or talk about in terms of describing it for us?
COREY PAVIN: I can't really. Every course is different. It's very difficult to compare it to one specific course.
The one thing that I think is very, very good about this golf course is everything is right in front of you. It's a very straightforward golf course. Difficult, but it's right in front of you. And I think it's a very fair test of golf. There's no tricks out there. There's very few pins that require a tremendous amount of knowledge.
We will be here for three days and see the course and see the greens. Obviously there's a few finishing holes that are going to require some risk/reward, but it's just a very solid golf course from tee-to-green, very well laid out all the way through the bowing and coming up through the side of the hill. It's all right there in front of you, very fair and very strong golf course.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think I can second that by saying that it's a driver's golf course, this, and there's very many in the States that are similar that if you do get out of position off the tee, then you're playing defensive for your second shots. There's a lot of water around and a lot of tight pin positions and there will be either up against slopes and also down to the water's edge.
So if you're out of position off the tee, you'll find it very difficult to be as aggressive as you want to be because it's a match-play tournament. So it goes back to driving the golf ball straight. And remember, our grooves are changing January 1 next year, so it's making the emphasis back on the game how straight we are off the tee, which is what we are all after. I think that rule is a fantastic rule to bring in, and I think it will benefit all golf, and especially around this type of golf course.
Q. THE TOUR Championship is due to finish on the Sunday before The Ryder Cup starts, and Tiger Woods has already voiced his concern about that. What's your feeling about that and how do you make any representations to the PGA TOUR to see if anything can be done?
COREY PAVIN: I don't really see a big issue with that. I believe that there will either be a week off before THE TOUR Championship, or there will be a week off two weeks before THE TOUR Championship. So the guys will all have a chance to rest.
And don't forget, there will be some European players playing in THE TOUR Championship, as well, I would assume. So both teams will have players in the same boat.
I don't think it's a problem. We'll just fly from Atlanta to here. Whether it's a European player or a U.S. player, we are going to arrive here Monday morning and we'll have plenty of time to prepare and get ready. I think the week off somewhere between there, whether it's two weeks or one week before, is going to be ample time for the guys to rest and be ready to go.
Q. I just wonder what you feel about your boys coming back to you Sunday night and meeting up with you Monday morning a bit jet-lagged, do you how do you feel about that?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Same as Corey. Nothing we can do about that. The tournament finishes Sunday and they are on a plane Sunday evening and back Monday. We do this very, very often through the year.
They will be fine. I will monitor their positions, and if they want to play nine holes one particular day, they can. Obviously we are talking about two or three players on my particular team, as opposed to a great majority of Corey's team will be there. So I have less of an issue with that.
But at the same time if they need to rest and just hit some shots and just relax the first day or so, that's fine by me. I just need them all right by Friday.
COREY PAVIN: I think that's a good point, too. Also, The Ryder Cup starts on Friday, not Thursday, so there's actually an extra day there to get ready and rest, as well.
Q. Is it safe to say that the way Tiger and Steve Stricker performed in The Presidents Cup that that's one partnership you'll decide on already?
COREY PAVIN: I would say that's not safe to say, but you can say it if you like. I have not made any pairings yet. You have to assume that Tiger and Steve will both make the team, as well.
We'll see. It's a long time from now and obviously both are in tremendous form right now. They are playing fantastically; and you put any two players together that are playing well, they are going to be a tough team to beat.
Q. So much is made of golf being a team sport at The Ryder Cup, and pretty much only at The Ryder Cup. But I'm interested, how much personal satisfaction is there for both of you gentlemen to be sitting up there today as the captains for the next Ryder Cup?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think it's the biggest honour that could be bestowed on any professional golfer. Certainly on the European side of things, for myself, Corey can speak in a minute; we in Europe, this is the highest honour that can be given, and very proud, and with that pride comes a responsibility, as well.
And I, just having possibly enjoyed my career more as a team player than I have as an individual; I've often come back from Ryder Cups with more joy than I have having won myself. I think it's great the way that the European family, if you like, as a Tour, are brought together within this Ryder Cup. And to play for each other is a great thrill and especially when the result comes out in a European favour, if you like. It's been fantastic, and I have enjoyed every one of my Ryder Cups, all eight of them, in all different ways.
I look forward to the ninth with that same passion, if you like, and I look forward with every step within this next year to look forward to bringing on site the 12 best players in Europe against the 12 best players in America. It's proven over the year what is a fantastic sporting event, not just a golf event, this has become.
COREY PAVIN: That's a very good answer, Colin.
Personal satisfaction is kind of a funny way to say that because it's not something that we accomplish on the golf course. It's not something that we perform to get there. It's an honour that it's bestowed upon us, as Colin said, and with great pride I accepted the captaincy. I look forward to leading whatever 12 players I have from the U.S. side and come over here and compete as hard as we can.
And that's the satisfaction I'll have personally is to do the best job I can to give these guys the best opportunity to play their best golf. That's what I would like to do as captain. Obviously I would like to take this little gold thing home with me, and so would Colin. But my objective is to get my guys ready to play golf and give them the best opportunity to play solid, good golf and be as competitive as possible.
Q. What's it like to play with a microphone on your shirt?
COREY PAVIN: It's scary, isn't it.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: It's a different one. Hit some different shots, but at the same time got used to it. Many times we do these walk-around clinics and what-have-you, and we are used to playing with a microphone. And it's quite good. I like to say the yardage out loud and what club I'm hitting, because some of the spectators are not aware sometimes of, one, how far you're going to go and, two, what club you are hitting from that distance.
They tend to get more feedback from that than otherwise, and the putts, and the way you're aiming and the pace and all sort of stuff, so it's like a clinic as you go around. It was good today, made so by the fantastic weather and the condition of the course, which we both felt was amazing.
COREY PAVIN: It's fun. It's nice I think for the people to hear what we are either thinking or talking about on the golf course. People always wonder what we are talking to our playing partners about, and usually it's sports and movies and things that everybody else talks about, but it not too exciting I guess in that regard.
You know, it's fun when Bryn and Chris are out there and we can interact with them, and they are the true entertainers, as far as being in front of people and comedians and all that type of things. It's nice to have that interaction and it's nice to have people hear what we are thinking sometimes, but like I said, just have to be careful once in awhile what we say.
Q. The U.S. haven't won in Europe for a while; so what do you have to do differently to win in Europe next year?
COREY PAVIN: Chip well; make putts. I know last time we won was in 1993 at The Belfry, and I was part of that team. It's awfully fun to win on foreign soil, as Colin can attest to that, I'm sure. So that's something that I would like to instill in my players, how much fun it is to win on the other person's golf course. Because it is enjoyable, right?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Very much so.
COREY PAVIN: I know you would agree with that. I would like to get these guys out here and get them in that little bit of a different mind-set. When we play an away game, so to speak, when it's very quiet on the golf course, it's very good for us and it's a complete opposite mind-set to have out there. It's hard to listen for nothing. And when the fans are cheering and going crazy in the United States, we know it's a good thing. You just have to change your mind-set a little bit when you come out here.
Q. Your words of encouragement for players to play more in European events, the BMW and Wales Open, have you had any personal feedback on your encouragement?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I haven't actually made it that clear as yet. I will be e-mailing every player to make sure they play at one, our Flagship Event, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, and also I'm encouraging the players to play here.
I mean, it goes without saying that in The Wales Open, if I have one of my European potentials or probables or possibles, or whatever you call them, to win by a few shots here, that does them no harm at all. And with one extra pick, as well, it does them no harm.
And also the final qualifying event the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, we feel that takes care of itself that the Top-25 players will be playing there anyway, you know, because it the final event.
But the two in particular, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, I'm encouraging every player that's eligible to play, to play, and also here, as well.
Q. When you consider the team that you're going to have here, and at the moment, you can guess, no one knows, how important would it be for to you have a Welsh player, and if not actually playing on the team to, have a Welsh player in the background team?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think Ian Woosnam did the right thing in preempting that fact in Ireland, to have Des Smyth as one of the assistant captains in Ireland. He was fortunate enough to have three Irish on the team with Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington and Paul McGinley. So a quarter of the team were Irish anyway. I might not have that fact here in Wales.
So if I don't have a Welsh representative on the course playing, I would like have some sort of Welsh help in the background. I think it's good for everybody; the fact that, what, 65, 70 per cent of the spectators here will be Welsh. It's only right that I would encourage some of the backroom staff, if you like, to be of that nationality.
Q. When we go back to this e-mail that you are going to send out to encourage players to play, in at least those two events, are you prepared to maybe take some flak from some players over that?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: There should not be any flak regarding that. It's in their one interests, one, in the interests of the Tour to play in the BMW PGA Championship, and two, in the interests, never mind The Wales Open which is a great event, but in their own interests for The Ryder Cup to play here.
Q. Similar question to the last one, but Phillip Price is a member of the Twenty Ten Course and plays it on a regular basis; is his knowledge something you can tap into?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: As a past Ryder Cup player at The Belfry in 2002, you know how well Phil did on the Sunday there, and he would be one of the potential candidates that might well be in the backroom staff here, if, of course, he doesn't perform well and make the team on his own merit.
Q. Fred Couples said last week that being a captain was a no-brainer, you said you just do the obvious things and send the best players out together. Do you think the last Ryder Cup proves that the role of the captaincy on both sides can make a difference to the outcome?
COREY PAVIN: I think as a captain, pairings is one of the most important things that we will do, no doubt. It's not easy to pair Freddie against Freddie. His job there is a little different than our job here. He has six matches, five matches going at a time and that in itself makes it a little bit easier to pair.
We have four matches at a time, and it's much more difficult to leave four people out in a match, because we want everybody to play. So we have answered this question before, that we would like to have everybody play as much as possible, and that's probably the most difficult thing we are going to have as a captain to do is to sit some people out. But that's our job. So it makes pairing a little trickier than what Freddie had to do.
But I'm sure Freddie worked a lot harder on those pairings than he let's onto.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I think Corey is dead right. It's easier in The Presidents Cup where for the first two days, everybody is playing.
I think as Corey so rightly said, the hardest job that we have is to leave four out, so the captain plays a different role. I'm not saying a more important role, but a different role within The Ryder Cup than he does in that format. If we were to not leave anyone out, I think it would give us no option which would be easier than having so many options.
I'm sure Paul Azinger found the same last time to go from two picks to four; it's a harder job to pick four players than it is to pick two. And I have made it more difficult for myself to pick three instead of two. But it just gives us the opportunity to have the strongest 12 together, but at the same time the hardest job of ours is to leave four players out the first two days.
Q. One of the criticisms of Nick Faldo's captaincy two years ago was the suggestion that he wasn't able to bond The European Team as in the past and didn't have the rapport with players like Bernhard Langer had and Ian Woosnam did. How confident are you that the team will bond the way you would like them to, and will you be taking any special steps to ensure this?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think one of the reasons on our committee that I was asked to become Ryder Cup Captain was because I was still in a playing capacity. Nick had not played for a number of years really fully on our Tour, and was over in the States in a commentating position; and I think found it more difficult, therefore, to communicate with the team on a day-to-day basis than I would be able to do playing with the team around. I.
Mean, I'm off tomorrow morning to Portugal to play in the Portuguese Masters, and this is another area where I'll be looking at potential players that will be here in a years' time that Nick didn't have the advantage of doing. So that was an issue then, and it won't be in 2010.
Q. On that note, Corey, yourself, on the suggestions two years ago that Paul Azinger bonded the American Team a lot better than perhaps Captain Faldo, there were suggestions especially in Brookline and Ireland, it was a team of United States and did not bond in the same way as the Europeans; how confident are you that they will bond in the way you would like them to? Will you take any special steps to make sure this happens?
COREY PAVIN: First, I would like to say that I don't agree with your statement that the U.S. Team did not bond at other events. They do. It's a lot easier to bond when had they are making putts and winning the tournament. You feel like they bonded -- trust me, in Ireland we had a great time there. We just didn't play very well, simple as that.
I don't think creating a bond with these players is an issue because I think the bond is already there. The guys get along fantastically.
Also, you know, we have another event every year, as well, and that helps us stay bonded, as well. Obviously last week with The Presidents Cup, a lot of those players are probably going to be playing on The Ryder Cup Team and will have experienced a week together in bonding. And you can go back probably quite a few years and see the same people.
So I don't think that's a big issue that needs to be nurtured and addressed. I think the guys are going to get along fantastically. Lisa and I are going to make sure that everybody is having a good time and enjoying themselves. That's what we would like to do and be relaxed, and again, go out and play the best golf that they can.
Q. Have either of you found today a slightly strange exercise in some way; obviously today is about the European flash American friendship and you two captains being very cordial and statesmen-like to one another. Can you imagine yet how your relationship might be different in a years' time with the raucous of The Ryder Cup upon you?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think we can answer this together, and I don't think it has. We were friends before we were made captains of our respective Ryder Cup teams and will remain so. Of course, this is not an exhibition match. They would have to have score boards if it was. So this is a highly competitive competition, and the more competitive it is and the more passion that is brought to it, just fuels people watching and viewing The Ryder Cup.
But to answer your question, Corey and I will remain good friends before, during and after.
COREY PAVIN: Colin and I are both very competitive, and we have played Ryder Cup Matches against each other, and we both understand how it works, friendly, and we do things together off the course and have dinners and talk and once they say on the tee, it changes into a very competitive match and nature.
We can go around and we can talk to each other during a match or we can say nothing to each other during a match. It doesn't matter; we are out there trying to beat each other's brains in out there and do the best we can and win our matches. But when it's all said and done, we shake hands on the 18th green, maybe -- (laughter) -- maybe the 18th green, not shake hands -- and say well done, and go on, and that's what the Ryder Cup is about. It's about a competitive -- it's a competition amongst friends, and we are friends before, we are friends after, and we are kind of friends during, but it's a little quieter friendship at that time.
It's very healthy stuff. Bernhard is a good friend of mine and we played a lot against each other in Oak Hill in '95, and it was very easy, actually, to play against someone that you would say is your friend, because we understand each other. And Colin and I understand each other very well, and as he said, when this is all said and done, we will still be friends. We will be friends now, and we will be friends during, as well. We have a very nice relationship.
Q. If I can ask you both, what would you each say if you would answer for me, please, is the other's strength that you perceive as a captain at this point, possibly?
COREY PAVIN: To me, Colin -- (laughter) we can say it at the same time because our answers will be very similar.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: One word that springs to mind is that we are both competitors and both of us are that way and we will bring that to our teams. And this will be a very competitive Ryder Cup.
COREY PAVIN: I was just going to say ditto. That's what we bring. We have shown that in our Ryder Cup experiences as players, that we love to compete, and our players know that and they will see that, and they will respond to that.
Q. Would either of you suggest that it's okay for the crowd to cheer on missed putts?
COREY PAVIN: Go ahead, since I went first last time.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Thank you for that.
No, it's not okay to cheer for a missed putt and never has been and never should be. As Corey so rightly said, you'll know if there's a European putt goes in and you'll know if an American putt goes in. There will be different cheers for different putts. There should be no animosity shown to any player or any team member from our guests.
And that's what our American Team are here, they are guests here in Europe, and we treat it as such and always will be and if there's anything that goes around, I will be the first person to stamp that out. I don't envisage any problem at all. I think those days are behind us and we are glad about that and we'll go on and have a very competitive match, a very competitive match.
COREY PAVIN: I would agree with that. I don't see an issue with if we miss a putt and there's a proper pause, whatever that may be, and some applause, because obviously Europe would have won that hole, but there has to be that gap there, whatever that may be, to have a proper response. I have no problem with a response like that.
Cheering for missed putts or missed shots is inappropriate, and I think true golf fans understand that and they know that and we will see that all the time here, I believe.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Here in Wales, and the same in Scotland and Ireland, I believe, and Britain generally, the people and spectators that attend The Ryder Cup are golfers. They watch and walk around as golfers, and golfers respect traditions of the game. There will be no issues on that part at all.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Gentlemen, thank you very much for your attendance today. Enjoy the rest of your evening.
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