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EUROPEAN TOUR MEDIA CONFERENCE
August 27, 2012
SCOTT CROCKETT:¬† Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the beautiful Gleneagles Hotel here in the heart of Scotland for one of the most exciting days of the year, the finalising of the European Ryder Cup Team for 2012.¬† The quest to be at Medinah began last September in Switzerland and ended here yesterday on the PGA Centenary Course, at Gleneagles, and I think we all join together in congratulating Paul Lawrie in his wonderful win in that championship.
Before we get to the heart of today's conference, it's my pleasure to introduce today's top table to you:¬† Ian Randell, Chief Executive of the PGAs of Europe.¬† Next to Ian is Sandy Jones, Chief Executive of the PGA Great Britain and Ireland.¬† On the far side is European Ryder Cup Director Richard Hills.¬† And on Richard's left is European Tour Chief Executive George O'Grady.
Last but by no means least, is the man in the middle, the man central to today's proceedings, as well as Europe's defence of The Ryder Cup in Chicago, next month.¬† Ladies and gentlemen, Europe's Ryder Cup Captain, Jos√© Maria Olaz√°bal.
JOS√Č MARIA OLAZ√ĀBAL:¬† Thank you.
SCOTT CROCKETT:¬† To get things underway, it's now my great pleasure to hand over to European Tour Chief Executive, George O'Grady.
GEORGE O'GRADY:¬† Thank you Scott and welcome again to everybody for finding their way to the Gleneagles Hotel for this press conference.
Before we hear from the captain I thought it would be appropriate to mention a couple of very special guests who have joined us today.¬† Firstly, the First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, our strongest partner in Scotland; it's a pleasure to have you here, sir.¬† And sitting next to him, Lord MacFarlane, the president of Diageo in Scotland; you and your team have staged such a wonderful tournament here that finished yesterday, everybody here at Diageo and the Gleneagles Hotel, we appreciate that very much, thank you.
We have representatives of all our major partners in The Ryder Cup, and in the room are representatives from:¬† Rolex, BMW, Emirates, Diageo themselves, the Scottish government and our newest partner whom announced earlier today, Ernst & Young.
That's the end of the commercial; and now, the captain.
JOS√Č MARIA OLAZ√ĀBAL:¬† Thank you, everyone, and I'm proud to announce that 2012 European Ryder Cup Team, the first ten players that already qualified are:¬† Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia, Peter Hanson, Martin Kaymer, Paul Lawrie, Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy, Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose and Lee Westwood.
And my two picks to join and complete this team are Nicolas Colsaerts and Ian Poulter.
Q.¬† Taking one player at a time can you please explain exactly what led you to choose them?
JOS√Č MARIA OLAZ√ĀBAL:¬† Well, I think every one of you pretty much guessed that Ian was going to be there.¬† That was a pretty good guess, not a difficult one, for obvious reasons.
He's had a great Ryder Cup record.¬† He was playing well, he had some issues early in the season.¬† He got ill and he couldn't play as much as he could, but his attitude and his spirit in The Ryder Cup team has always been great.¬† He's one of those players that likes to be in that situation.
I think he gets the best out of him playing The Ryder Cup.¬† The two times I had the opportunity to share a few moments with him at Valhalla and Celtic Manor, you didn't need to motivate him.¬† He pretty much, you know, got‑‑ just by looking at his eyes that he would give everything that he had during that week.¬† So that's Ian.
And Nicolas, obviously he's a rookie.¬† If you look at the team, he's going to be the only rookie on the team.¬† We do have an experienced team.¬† His match‑play record is very good.¬† He finished runner‑up last year at The World Match Play.¬† He won this year at The World Match Play.¬† He's had a very solid season, and on top of that, he's made the extra effort trying to make the team.¬† He really showed me that he wants to be a part of that team.¬† Those are the reasons for me to pick him.
Q.¬† Can you give us an insight into your decision‑making process?¬† Did you consult players already on the team as well as your vice captains and was it an easy or difficult decision?
JOS√Č MARIA OLAZ√ĀBAL:¬† It's never an easy decision.¬† Obviously you have a few more players in that mix every time.¬† But it's true that I talked to‑‑ especially to the vice captains quite a bit regarding the picks.¬† You know, we studied the different possibilities.¬† Yeah, we had a few discussions regarding that, and actually, the last time we talked was on Friday this week.
Q.¬† Of those in the mix, who have you managed to speak to, and how did they react to the news, both good and bad?
JOS√Č MARIA OLAZ√ĀBAL:¬† Well, obviously it's not an easy moment.¬† They are all disappointed.¬† I know that they really wanted to be on the team.¬† And I went down, I talked to the next four, five guys on that list.¬† I talked to David, I talked to Rafa, to Gonzalo, to Alvaro, to P√°draig.¬† I talked to ‑‑ I made those phone calls.¬† It's not easy.¬† I mean, obviously I've been in that equation, and somehow when you're not picked, obviously you don't want that news.¬† But they took it well, and that's the way it is.
Q.¬† At what point did you actually finally make up your mind?¬† Obviously Nicolas had that opportunity to play his way into the team, but when was your mind finally made up?
JOS√Č MARIA OLAZ√ĀBAL:¬† Well, it was made up obviously yesterday because Nicolas still had a chance to change things around.¬† If he had finished top two, I had to wait until the very last minute and the decision was made last night.
Q.¬† And the fact that he's such a big hitter, Nicolas Colsaerts, a huge asset for you at Medinah having been there and having had a look at the course?
JOS√Č MARIA OLAZ√ĀBAL:¬† I have to say that Medinah Country Club the course No. 3 is a long course.¬† They built two or three new tees.¬† They changed 15.¬† They made 15 a reachable par 4.¬† Length can be a factor, but obviously at the end of the day, we have all known that, you know, the most important thing is how many putts you make.¬† That is also very important.
But obviously I think his game is suited for that golf course.¬† It depends how the golf course will be set up regarding rough.¬† It's a tree‑lined course.¬† But as I said, it's been a long course and I think he can take advantage of that.
Q.¬† And we know Martin Kaymer has not been in the best of form.¬† He was saying to us yesterday that he is working very, very hard on his game.¬† If there comes a point where he feels he's not making sufficient progress, would you have somebody on stand by in that eventuality?
JOS√Č MARIA OLAZ√ĀBAL:¬† Well, regarding that question, I talked to Martin yesterday.¬† We had a little chat on the phone.
He's been working really hard the last two weeks after the PGA.¬† He's very happy with the work he put in the last two weeks.¬† He's happy with the results that he's seen on the driving range, and his schedule, actually he's going to play Holland and Italy, and we are going to have, you know, a pretty good idea on how his game is.
But don't get wrong‑‑ don't be mistaken.¬† He wants to be a part of that team.¬† He's determined to give his best.¬† He made that point very clear to me yesterday and in that regard, I don't think I'm going to have any issues with Martin.
Q.¬† Not many captains choose rookies; do you think there's a gamble in it?
JOS√Č MARIA OLAZ√ĀBAL:¬† Well, if you look at my team, as I said before, you know, we do have a huge amount of experience on that team.¬† Out of the 12 players, 11 have played Ryder Cup.¬† They have proven they can handle that pressure.¬† They have the experience.¬† We do have a very solid team in that regard.¬† I don't think it's a gamble.
I think when you look at the next guys on line, the next guy with The Ryder Cup experience would have been Thomas Bj√∂rn.¬† You know, I don't think it's going to be a gamble in that regard.¬† I think the guy has shown a lot of heart, a lot of character.¬† And obviously we know that The Ryder Cup atmosphere is very different to any regular event, even major events; but I think he's got the game, and to be honest, the desire and the determination of being there has been huge.
Q.¬† Based on experience, do you think your team will go into the match now as favourites?
JOS√Č MARIA OLAZ√ĀBAL:¬† I've always said that I don't see any favourites in this Ryder Cup.¬† Both teams are playing very strong.¬† If you look at what happened yesterday, you look at what Nick Watney did yesterday, I think Davis has a new contender in that possible pick.
The U.S. Team is always strong.¬† They have played great.¬† They won the Masters this year.¬† They won the U.S. Open.¬† They won a bunch of tournaments.¬† You have, you know, three rookies in that team so far that they play extraordinary well.¬† In that regard, both teams are strong.
I don't see any favourites at all.¬† We are going to have to play really well.¬† We are playing away.¬† They are going to have the crowd advantage.¬† They are going to set up the course to their liking, but the end of the day, we are going to have to play really very, very well and hard if we want to have a chance to win.
Q.¬† You were vice captain at the last two, as well as your playing experience, can you say from those last two, how much does crowd support and home advantage count for?
JOS√Č MARIA OLAZ√ĀBAL:¬† Well, there is‑‑ little things help.¬† Obviously when the Ryder Cup is played here in Europe, by instance, the speed of the greens are not all that fast.¬† We like to have them between ten, ten and a half, because we feel more comfortable around that speed.¬† We know that in the U.S., they prefer the firm and fast greens, and most probably that's what we are going to find out we are going to have over there.
Those little things obviously help.¬† And the crowds, the support of the crowds are massive.¬† We saw that in Ireland.¬† We saw that in Wales.¬† It's huge.
So you know, the only thing is that we have to be prepared.¬† That's part of my job.¬† You know, the players know that the atmosphere is going to be electrifying.¬† So I need to prepare them for that; tell them that they cannot allow themselves to be, you know, bothered by that.
So they have to be really prepared for it.¬† That's part of my job, and luckily the guys have the experience, and that should make things a little bit easier for me.
Q.¬† At what point now do you start to decide on your pairings or do you start to consider that?¬† Is that starting now?
JOS√Č MARIA OLAZ√ĀBAL:¬† No, there's still two, three, four weeks ahead of us.¬† Most of the players will have to play a few events before the Ryder Cup, and during that week, I'm going to have all my vice captains following the players, following the groups, trying to get as much information.¬† And it will depend on how the players are playing, how they are feeling.¬† You know, the information that we gather from them from their caddies, and that‑‑ once we get that information, we will be prepared to make some pairings.
Q.¬† When did you contact Harrington, and what reasons did you give him for his non‑selection?
JOS√Č MARIA OLAZ√ĀBAL:¬† Well, I talked to him last night, and I was very straight to the point.¬† I know he tried hard.¬† He played well at the Masters; he finished eighth.¬† He had a good U.S. Open and then the following week he had a great Irish Open.¬† But you know, he was 19th on the list.¬† He was just a little bit down the list.
I know he's a great player.¬† I would have loved to have him on the team the same way I would have loved to have Paul Casey, Robert Karlsson, Henrik Stenson.¬† Those are great players.¬† But you need to be playing good, simple as that.¬† I think he took it well, and that was it.
Q.¬† How important is it that you have your team members winning, Rory winning the PGA and Sergio winning in the States and Paul Lawrie winning yesterday; how important is that going into the match?
JOS√Č MARIA OLAZ√ĀBAL:¬† Well, it is important in the way that that builds confidence, and that is crucial.¬† But at the end of the day, it's how they play during that week.¬† We are going to be facing a big opponent.¬† Anything can happen.¬† You know, they will have to play great.¬† But obviously it's important to see Rory winning, Paul winning, Sergio winning.¬† It's always nice, obviously.
It helps to boost the confidence of the players, and what you need within the team is confident players.¬† I think that helps, yeah.
Q.¬† You mentioned one of your reasons for picking Nicolas Colsaerts was he made that extra effort to make the team; without naming names, were you surprised that other players didn't make that extra effort?
JOS√Č MARIA OLAZ√ĀBAL:¬† I've always said that it was a personal decision.¬† I didn't push the issue with Sergio.¬† Sergio changed his schedule to play Wyndham knowing that he had to do something special; he did that.
I'm not surprised.¬† I mean, it's been a long season.¬† Obviously I believe that the players have done the best in their possibilities to make that team, and that's it.¬† I mean, sometimes you have to miss a tournament here or there, but that's part of life.
Q.¬† Can you tell us at what stage you contacted Ian and Nicolas to tell them of your decision?
JOS√Č MARIA OLAZ√ĀBAL:¬† I contacted Ian, same scenario, last night, and Nicolas also, yeah, last night.
SCOTT CROCKETT:¬† I'm delighted to say that we now have, due to the wonders of modern technology, Mr.Ian Poulter on the line now.¬† Hopefully you can hear us?
IAN POULTER:¬† Good morning, I can hear you loud and clear.
SCOTT CROCKETT:¬† Sorry to get you up early, but I presume this is a time when you don't mind that at all.
IAN POULTER:¬† I don't mind; I'm getting ready to go out and play golf right now anyway.
SCOTT CROCKETT:¬† Ian, we are going to take some questions but give us your reaction, many, many congratulations for making the team once again.
IAN POULTER:¬† Thank you very much.
SCOTT CROCKETT:¬† Give us your reaction; obviously delighted?
IAN POULTER:¬† I was actually thrilled to get the call last night from Jos√© was a great moment, and I'm going to be thrilled to, again, pour some passion over the holes at Medinah and I'll try my best.
NICOLAS COSAERTS:¬† I'm delighted to say that the second wild card choice, Nicolas Colsaerts is actually with us today, ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together, Nicolas Colsaerts.
SCOTT CROCKETT:¬† Nicolas, we have just spoken to Ian in America; he's naturally delighted and I'm sure you share the same emotions.
NICOLAS COLSAERTS:¬† Yeah, of course.¬† You know, this has been something I've wanted since I was a little kid.¬† To be part of such a big team with a captain with such great history is something I'm very proud of.
Q.¬† Ian, you've played in three Ryder Cups so far and this will be your fourth; can you describe to Nicolas what he'll feel like on the first tee?
IAN POULTER:¬† (Line static).
Q.¬† That's what you'll feel like.¬† (Laughter) Nicolas, four years ago you were ranked outside the top 1,000 players in the world, and you're now in a situation where you're 35th in the world, and you've had tremendous success this year and now this to crown it, can you believe what's happened in such a short time?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS:¬† Yeah, I'm just living proof that if you want something badly, it's only a matter of time if you put the work in and you still have the passion; it's a bit of a fairy story, I know, but I'm just living proof that anybody can do it.
Q.¬† What are you looking forward to most?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS:¬† Sitting down, team meetings, going on the plane with some of the guys, just I think I'm going to be quite humble and I'm just going to sit down and listen to what's being said.
Q.¬† Was there any one point in your career where everything changed?¬† Was there a moment where you realised you had to change and your career took off?¬† Was there one incident?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS:¬† No, not particularly.¬† I always knew that one day or another, I was going to feel that it was going to be the moment to change.¬† But if you have the passion, you just‑‑ if you have self‑belief that one day it's going to turn around; but I never lost faith of one day maybe being in the position I'm in today.
Q.¬† Could you give us an idea of how nervous you were last night until the phone call came and how relieved you were when Jos√© Maria made that phone call in?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS:¬† Are you saying I got the phone call yesterday then?¬† (Laughter).
It doesn't matter.¬† I was pretty nervous.¬† Just as much as I was nervous for the last weeks.¬† It's been a pretty long summer.¬† You know, every time I put myself in a situation where I could seal the deal, it was always in the back of my mind.¬† So I'm‑‑ it's funny, because I've gone to nervous of making the team to nervous to get there sort of thing.¬† But it's a good problem to have.
Q.¬† What would it mean to Belgian golf, you making an experience in The Ryder Cup?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS:¬† My phone can't just stop ringing in my pocket right now (looking down).¬† I hope it's going to put¬† golf in a better position in people's minds, people's heads.
You know, it's not a very popular sport back home, not as much as what you guys are used to over here.¬† I've always felt like it was going to be, you know, my task to make it a bit more popular and put it a little more on the map.¬† I would like to think that some of the young guys are going to go play tournaments abroad and feel like they are part of a bit of the golfing culture, just because I've finally but the Belgian flag on the map.
SCOTT CROCKETT:¬† Ian, we were worried the storms in America have swept you away, but looks like you're back with us.
IAN POULTER:¬† I'm back with you guys, loud and clear.
Q.¬† Ian, I was asking, would you describe to Nicolas Colsaerts who is sat with us what he's going to feel on the first tee at The Ryder Cup?
IAN POULTER:¬† I'm not sure if you can put it into words to be honest.¬† I think Nicolas will feel the excitement that everybody and anybody that has played Ryder Cup has ever felt before.¬† That is a lot of intense pressure, a lot of excitement, and I think Nicolas is going to do an incredible job handling that and delivering with the rest of the guys on the team.
Q.¬† Nicolas, you know the other 11 men that you'll be joining on the team.¬† Who do you fancy partnering?
JOS√Č MARIA OLAZ√ĀBAL:¬† He's not allowed to answer that question.¬† (Laughter).
SCOTT CROCKETT:¬† First good decision, listen to your captain.
Q.¬† Over in the States, what's the feeling from the Americans about this event coming up?¬† Are they pretty determined and confident about taking the Cup back?
IAN POULTER:¬† Well, I mean, I think collectively as a group, it's a very strong team.¬† I haven't personally spoke to any one of them regarding The Ryder Cup.¬† And I think‑‑ you know, I think it's going to be a very tough match this time around, like it always is.¬† I think certainly, the guys on The Ryder Cup side, are going to be pretty passionate to get out there and give it 100 percent and take the trophy back, as we have before.
Q.¬† Obviously you were very close in one major, but is it fair to say that the Ryder Cup has defined your career so far, and how much pride do you take in your record?
IAN POULTER:¬† Yeah, I think I take a lot of pride in my Ryder Cup record.¬† You know, I feel I've given an awful lot to The Ryder Cup, and you guys have seen what it means to me.¬† You know, to have been to many Ryder Cups as a kid, to be able to watch the passion that I've seen come out in so many people; I'm honoured to be able to give that passion back to the side like I viewed when I was a kid.
Q.¬† Could you please give us your thoughts on Jos√© Maria as a captain?¬† I know he's been your vice captain on a couple of occasions; embarrass him by telling him how good he's going to be.
JOS√Č MARIA OLAZ√ĀBAL:¬† Careful what you're saying (smiling).
IAN POULTER:¬† It goes without saying, Jos√© has been there at a number of the last Ryder Cups, and everything that he's had to say was perfect.¬† Everybody has a huge amount of respect for Jos√©, and everybody lives and breathes The Ryder Cup through Jos√© and what he means to The Ryder Cup.
So I think he's a perfect captain, someone that's going to lead us forward in the right way.¬† I'm honoured to be part of that team with the other guys.
SCOTT CROCKETT:¬† Jos√© Maria?
JOS√Č MARIA OLAZ√ĀBAL:¬† Well, he had no choice.¬† (Laughter).
SCOTT CROCKETT:¬† I thank everyone for their attendance.¬† Ian, you can now go and have your breakfast, thank you very much for joining us from America, and Nicolas thank you very much for joining us today and Jos√© Maria I think we'll all join together to wish you the very, very best at Medinah next month.
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