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THE IRISH OPEN


June 17, 2014


Paul McGinley


FOTA ISLAND, IRELAND

STEVE TODD:  Welcome to The Irish Open, I know it's always a special week for the home players this week, and the start of four weeks in a row for yourself playing.  So just give us your thoughts coming into this Irish Open.
PAUL McGINLEY:  Thoughts are excited to play four weeks in a row.  I'm looking forward to that.  Obviously a great time from a European golf point of view and another major win for a European player.
In the back of that, creates a buzz for everybody at the tournament and everybody in the European Tour in the background, and obviously me, Ryder Cup Captain.  I think some venues are blessed with good weather and Fota Island seems to be blessed and the last time we were here the weather was sensational, as well, and looks like we are going to have a tremendous week, too, the way the forecast is.
Exciting.  A lot of exciting players in the field.  Obviously Rory is going to get a lot of attention and Graeme, too, with the World Rankings and the way they have been playing and the exciting talent that they are.
It's all good and a good buzz around the place.
STEVE TODD:  Twelve years since we've been to this venue.  How special is it for the Irish players coming to this venue, and talk about the challenge it presents.
PAUL McGINLEY:  I like the fact that it's going around the country.  We were in Portrush a couple years ago, Carton House last year and we are going to be in County Down next year.  And I love the idea that the Irish Open is being moved around so the different parts of the country to get to view us.  And down in the heartland of Cork here, hurling and football county, it's good.  It's just good to be here.  The weather is so good and the golf course is very strong and we know that.  It held up before; everybody loved it.
From the players' point of view, when it was announced it was coming to Fota Island, it was definitely, 'Oh, great, we're going back to Fota' attitude, which is great.  And I think it was very successful from a player's point of view the last time it was here; and not just the golf course but I think the town and the craic and everything.
And with the weather being so good and the people around the place this week, I think we are in for another good week on the golf course, as well as off.

Q.  What's it like balancing playing and keeping an eye on The Ryder Cup?
PAUL McGINLEY:  It's difficult.  Obviously every previous captain has told me how difficult it is to do, and the preparation is the problem, getting prepared to come out and play.  There's so many things going on and there's so many things going on in your head.
But it's fun.  It's a challenge.  I've played quite decently to be honest, and I haven't played that much this year.  I think I've only played four or five tournaments.  So I'm looking forward to playing the next four and getting a run.  That's what I've missed is that run.  I seem to be playing one tournament and then two months off and then another tournament and then another month off, and now I've got four in a row and I'm looking forward to doing that.
To be honest a lot of The Ryder Cup duties is done at this stage and everything is in position and letting things evolve towards September.
The big job that I have at the moment is the communication with the players, and the best way to do is now is to be out on Tour and having a little five minutes with them here or there.¬† At the same time, I don't want to bring too much of their attention to September.¬† It's important to focus on their own games and winning their own tournaments and playing well in majors over the next two‑month period, and I think that's the best way that they can prepare for September.

Q.¬† Rory McIlroy said that his clubs got lost on the flight back.¬† Probably not the most ideal‑‑
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† I didn't think you could lose those on a private place, but obviously ‑‑ United?¬† Okay.¬† See, American airlines, that's what happens.¬† If he had gone Aer Lingus, it wouldn't have happened.
One of the perils of traveling we do is losing your clubs, and it is an issue.  But I'm sure the fact that once the American airlines find out it's Rory McIlroy's clubs, there will be people scurrying around the world to find the clubs.

Q.  What do you think of the condition of the course?
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† It's good.¬† I haven't played it since I've come down.¬† Obviously I've just arrived now and I'll play a few holes this afternoon, Pro‑Am tomorrow.
I've played here a number of times in the past.  I'm looking forward to seeing it.  Since we were here the last time, there's a couple of new tees but in general it's pretty much the same golf course.
So it will be interesting to see with the advances of technology‑‑ what year were we here before?
STEVE TODD:  2002.
PAUL McGINLEY:  So, I mean, 12 years ago, there have been gigantic leaps in technology since then.  So it will be interesting to see how the course plays since the last time we played here.


Q.  You touched on Martin's spectacular effort at Pinehurst last week, how good was that and how good was that as a Ryder Cup Captain having locked himself on the team now?
PAUL McGINLEY:  I was impressed like everybody.  To lead after the first round, and then to extend his lead to a bigger margin by the time the fourth round came was very impressive, because in my view the U.S. Open is the toughest tournament to win.
I think it's a test not just of‑‑ not just of golf, but of mental skills, as well, too.¬† There's a potential calamity on every hole and, it's easy to make a double or a triple so it's a real test of mental resilience.¬† To lead after the first round and keep going was very, very impressive, and to pull away from the field in the end.
I think it's great for The European Team, great for The European Tour.  Certainly creates a buzz around the Tour.  Certainly there's a real element of peer pressure in golf, and I think the fact that Martin has won and he's a popular guy will give that little bit of extra added incentive to the other guys, too, to maybe match him and win The Open or the US PGA, as well, too.
It's exciting for The European Tour.  I know we have a tournament in Germany next week and Martin is going to be there with the U.S. Open trophy.  I mean, that's an exciting time for the Tour; an exciting time for Germany.
But also, watching the results, as well, too, I think the Americans, I think Tom Watson will be sitting back very happy with the U.S. Open from his perspective, as well, too.¬† A lot of his potential team featured very strongly, Top‑10s, Top 15s, and his team seems to be taking shape, as well, too.
I think it was a very strong U.S. Open from a European perspective for both teams.

Q.  When you think of the American Ryder Cup teams in the past, say, 1991, Des Smyth played, everyone was a Major winner.  Are we getting to a stage now where European teams can start intimidating American teams a little bit, or do you think they are just so strong always?
PAUL McGINLEY:  I don't think "intimidation" is the word.  I think what you're seeing is raising the bar and we are becoming equal to them, and I think there's very little between the two teams now.
If you add up all the World Rankings, there's very little between the two teams.  It just shows you how much European golf has risen over the last decade, two decades, if you want to call it that, as well, too.  We are very much on a par with them now.
As I say, I still think it's going to be a very formidable American Team.¬† I looked at the points yesterday afternoon, the American points, as well as ours, and it's a very strong‑‑ it's starting to form.¬† It's a very strong American Team.¬† They have a nice mixture of youth, as well, and experience and a lot of players starting to show form coming into the summer.
We have won the last two Ryder Cups by a point and I have no reason to believe that this one is not going to be just as close.¬† Just shows you when you get two very tightly, closely‑matched teams, it could be one point to win it again.¬† Wouldn't be surprised if it was.

Q.  You were obviously a vice captain the last time.  What did Martin Kaymer bring to the equation?
PAUL McGINLEY:  He's a very interesting guy.  I'm sure you've seen his press conferences.  He gives a lot away about himself when he gives a press conference, and he's very insightful about himself and he's very honest in a press situation about himself.
So I think he's a very honest guy.  He's straight with himself.  He's a popular guy.  Yes, he minds his own business and does his own thing but he's a very loyal guy, loyal member of the team.
And he's an easy guy to pair.  He's not high maintenance.  He's not requiring, you know, playing with one player or another player or whatever the case may be.  He's kind of happy to be guided, whatever the captain says.  That's what we saw with José, and Monty, as well.  No reason to think he won't be any different with me, hopefully, anyway.

Q.¬† So you can pair with him with anybody‑‑
PAUL McGINLEY:  Yeah, not only has he got a very strong game, but he's got a very easy demeanour to be paired with other people.

Q.¬† On Sunday, how important was it to make that winning putt and to get that point at The Ryder Cup, it was sort of make‑or‑break and you had to deliver, and he said he drew on that on Sunday when he had to deliver in the final round at the U.S. Open.¬† Do you think these things are sort of like a circle and they perpetuate themselves and he's a much stronger player as a result of The Ryder Cup and now as a result of the U.S. Open to where you can trust him in that situation?
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† I think if you look at the big perspective of careers and individuals, we go on momentum.¬† It's all momentum‑related, and you go through peaks and you go through troughs, no matter who you are.¬† There's peaks, there's troughs.¬† He's going through a peak at the moment.
He's gone through a bit of a trough, as we all know, and often something ignites you to get on that momentum surge.  There's no doubt The Ryder Cup was a great thing for him.  He had a solid year last year without having a spectacular year.  He had a slow start to The Ryder Cup points list, and just before the TPC this year, he started to show a bit of form and had a few Top 10s.
And then he ignited at the TPC and obviously that's given him a lot of confident to go on and win the U.S. Open.  It's peaks and troughs.  It's momentum, whatever you want to call it.  We all go through it and Martin is no different.  He's certainly on the upper curve at the moment.

Q.  He was talking about how he appreciated you going for dinner with him at TPC after winning there.  You deliberately did that because you saw he was at a loose end?
PAUL McGINLEY:  I walked two holes with him in the practise round on the Wednesday, and he had just come off a couple of Top 10s after a slow start to the points list.  And I just wanted him to know that he was very much on the radar and there was a lot of time to go and not to panic; and I'd like to see him playing well; and the confidence was starting to flow again and keep playing well, basically and just let him know that he was very much in my thoughts.
We walked two holes, him and his caddie.  We had a nice chat.  He was the first guy I saw.  It was about half seven in the morning on Wednesday morning.

Q.  And the dinner afterwards?
PAUL McGINLEY:  Obviously he went down and he won the tournament.  And yeah, I sent him a text afterwards like I always do to anybody who won.  And I said, I know what it's like sometimes in the few tournaments that I have won that often the Sunday night can be quite a lonely place because you want to celebrate but everybody has left and everybody has gone.  I said if you want to have a beer later, I'm around, let me know, I'm staying the night.
He text me back ten minutes later and said, "Yeah, Paul, come over, let's have dinner and a few beers," and I did.¬† Went over to his hotel‑‑ by the time did he all his press and everything, it was a late finish if you remember with the weather delay, it was around 11.00.¬† We probably had a couple of hours and a few beers and a bit of food, and it was just him and his caddie and me.
It was nice to hear the debrief, but it was also very insightful for me.  It was very clear from what he was saying to me and what he was saying to his caddie that this wasn't a rejoicing, shouting from the rooftops, we are back on the top of the summit again.  It's a start.
And it's no surprise, he's followed it up four, five, six weeks later to win a major.  He was very clear that this was the start of a surge, and he's been proved right.

Q.  Naturally for yourself about The Ryder Cup and the week of The Irish Open, wonder if you're happy with the state of The Irish Open and where it's going in the future?  The prize fund isn't perhaps as much as most would like it to be, and it's a venue where you have won a tournament; you won here in 1997.  I'm sure it's changed a lot since then.  Can you give us your feelings about where The Irish Open is?
PAUL McGINLEY:  First of all, we all know, Ireland has gone through a tough economic time the last couple of years and trying to find a title sponsor has been very difficult.  It's been a real challenge.
Fortunately the government see the big picture, both our government here in the south and also in the north, as well.  The big picture is the importance of golf to the tourism industry and what the tourism industry can bring up, so they stepped up to the plate, both governments have, very much so.
I think we are very‑‑ as players, we are very appreciative of that.¬† I think they also understand that they probably got the most exciting player in the world, being Irish at the moment, in Rory McIlroy, that everybody is talking about.¬† Him and Jordan Spieth are very much the two icons at the moment in world golf.¬† To take advantage of him being Irish, as well, too; we really need to have an Irish Open showcase that, as well.
They see the big picture, and I think they will always support The Irish Open, like both governments, I'm sure they would like to have a title sponsor and hopefully that can be found.  Now that we are starting to come out of the economic downturn; that we can find a title sponsor who will bring it forward, not just here in the south but in the north, as well, too.
In terms of prize money, I still think it's a decent prize fund.  I don't think it's a small prize fund.  It's very decent and healthy by standards of what we are playing for on The European Tour.  Okay, if you want to compare itto the PGA Tour, it's not, but by European standards, it is.  I certainly don't have an issue with the prize fund.  I think it's quite a decent prize fund.

Q.  Would you elaborate on what you were saying earlier about the way you like the tournament going around the country and the various venues?
PAUL McGINLEY:  Again, I see the big picture here, the government and tourism and promoting Ireland as a country, both north and south.  The tourism, the golf in Ireland, brings in a huge amount of revenue for the government, massive amount, and the fact that this is going to be showcased to millions of people around the world and live on the Golf Channel in America, is very important to the Irish economy.
And I think the more courses that are showcased, the better.  It's not just about one area down around Kerry or one area around Dublin or one area around the north.  It's nice to come to Cork.  Maybe one day we'll see it go to the West of Ireland.  I'd like to see it going to the West of Ireland, too and showcasing over there, because that is a beautiful place, too, and some beautiful golf courses over there.
I'm very much in that flavour but I also understand the economic constraints that are important, as well, too; and the commerciality to have to be involved now in terms of hotels and access and airports and corporate sponsorship and corporate entertainment, as well, too.  All of those things go into the mix.  So it's not just a case of:  That's a good golf course, let's put it there.  There's a lot more issues involved, as well, too.

Q.  Do Irish golfers feel a sense of loyalty or is it a sense obligation to be here this week, given what you've just said about The Irish Open?
PAUL McGINLEY:  I think loyalty more than anything else.  I think we are all proud to be Irish.  And I think the Irish people, the Irish members at all the golf clubs around Ireland have been very instrumental in making us be basically tour players; from Rory McIlroy to me to Pádraig to wherever you want to go.  The funding of the GUI when we were amateurs was very important to us, and we wouldn't have reached the level we did without that funding that we had.
It's kind of a payback to playing The Irish Open.  And it's great that Pádraig, when he was winning majors, felt an obligation and always felt an appreciation to The Irish Open and The Irish Open people and always played it, and Rory and Graeme are doing the same, and Darren when he won his major, too.  I think it's great and it's nice to see that and giving back.

Q.  Do you see yourself as a tournament golf who is also Ryder Cup Captain, or do you see yourself as a Ryder Cup Captain whose tournament career is winding down?
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† Let's be honest, I'm in the twilight of my career.¬† We all know that.¬† I'm 47‑year‑old.¬† I'm still exempt on Tour obviously and I can play another couple of years with my exemptions.¬† But I still enjoy competing and I still enjoy playing.
Yeah, I mean, it's quite clear.  Obviously my best years as a golfers are behind me.  I'm in the twilight.  Not many golfers play their best golf at 47 years of age, and looks like I'm no different.  And that's just what happens; time catches up and you move on.  I'm very fortunate that I have been put in this position of Ryder Cup captaincy which I'm really enjoying.
It's a real challenge for me.¬† It's a real learning curve for me, and I'm trying to mix that‑‑ we have a view in Europe as everybody knows that we like to have The Ryder Cup players still competitive and still playing on Tour.¬† And I feel it's my obligation as a Ryder Cup Captain to play well and compete and prepare as best I can to go out there.
I've been drawn with a lot of the potential Ryder Cup Team over the last 12 months, and that's been really beneficial for me.  And hopefully over the next four weeks, my golf will be strong enough that I can get into the weekend I get drawn with potential players going forward, because I think you learn a lot when you stand inside the ropes playing with them.

Q.  Just this week, could you be a contender this week?
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† Could I be?¬† Yeah, of course I can be a contender.¬† I've had a decent ‑‑ the few tournaments I've played this year, I've played quite decent.¬† I came in 16th in Abu Dhabi against a very, very strong field.¬† I think I was only six shots off the winning score in the Spanish Open four weeks ago.¬† So of course I can still be a contender.¬† It's a big ask, but I certainly can be a contender, yeah.

Q.  Your earliest Irish Open memory?
PAUL McGINLEY:  Got to be Portmarnock.  Got to be those great Irish Opens before we had SKY TV and before we had any exposure to American golf, really, except the majors.  Stars like Hubert Green coming over.
My first ever memory was John O'Leary winning.¬† And then Ken Brown winning, as well, in Portmarnock and getting up‑and‑down on the 18th; and standing after the crowd kind of went, and walking back to the car with my uncle and walking on to the actual 18th green and looking at the putt that he had hold from 16 feet to win.¬† I don't know what year that was when Ken Brown won but he got it up‑and‑down.
Before that, I remember The Irish Open in Woodbrook.  I remember my dad taking me to Woodbrook and Christy, Jr. winning.  I remember seeing Tom Watson there, actually.  I remember Christy O'Connor, Sr., going off in a helicopter, which I thought was like a spaceship at that stage (laughter).
And I remember it was around the time was the Pope visiting Ireland.  He was at the window and we were all looking at him, and as he was being lifted up, he gave the sign of the cross to everybody.  (Laughter) that's a good memory.  That's a long time ago.  What year did the Pope come to Ireland, '79?  I think that was around the same time Cristy was.  It was certainly funny.

Q.¬† When you finally decide to hang up the driver and the 5‑wood and so on, can we expect to see even greater things from you on television?¬† Your burgeoning career seems to be going from strength‑to‑strength.
PAUL McGINLEY:  I don't know.  I don't know.  I've obviously taken a little role with SKY over the last two years but that's very much been Ryder Cup focused.  I've enjoyed doing it.  I've learned a lot.  Gives you a lot more appreciation for the guys on TV and how difficult their job is, but it's been a great thing for me as Ryder Cup Captain to observe.
I mean, the example we gave about Martin Kaymer there.  If I wasn't doing that work for SKY, it's unlikely I would have been at the TPC, and that opportunity to be there for a reason.  I was there for SKY, and I was able to plan out my year and I was able to say to all the players:  I'm going to be at this tournament, this tournament, this tournament.
So they know where I'm going to be this year and they know when I'm going to be in America.  And as we know, most of the players are playing in America and so it's important for me to be there.
So it was a great‑‑ it's just a small little thing for a two‑year period and I've really enjoyed it.¬† Whether it goes forward or not, I don't know, we'll have to see.¬† Post-Ryder Cup, my life is on hold at the moment.¬† I don't know what direction it may take.¬† We'll have to wait and see.

Q.  With a hundred days to The Ryder Cup, you said things had been done behind the scenes in preparation, but when will you start to get anxious about things?  And do you have a time you will announce the other two vice captains?  And are you under obligation in picking those, perhaps future Ryder Cups captains as one of those vice captains?
PAUL McGINLEY:  Of course it's exciting.  The countdown has started.  Do I feel under pressure?  There's pressure there, of course there is.  There's huge expectation.  There's huge pressures.  There's huge responsibilities as captain and there's a lot of important days ahead.
But I've said it before, when I was announced captain and I still use the word now, I'm relishing the next hundred days.  I'm looking forward to September.  I'm looking forward to the opportunity of pitting my wits against Tom Watson and leading what I know will be a very strong European Team against what I know will be a very strong American Team.
So I think looking forward to the challenge would be the answer to that question.
The second one?

Q.¬† The date when you will announce the‑‑
PAUL McGINLEY:  The two vice captains will be announced post the picks.  In the formulation of the team, we all know it's starting to take shape and there's some players pretty much guaranteed on the team at this stage.
I think we are‑‑ my focus now is on form and who is playing well and how guys are performing with a view to possibly who the picks could be and what potential picks I would have to do.¬† I don't know where I will go with the picks yet until I can see who the nine are that make the team.¬† Obviously form is going to be a‑‑ not the only prerequisite but a big factor in it.¬† So the next two months are going to be important for that.
And in terms of vice captaincies, it's way over there.  It's kind of towards the end of August I'll start looking at that.  I'm here right now and I'm watching the team evolve and I'm playing my bit of golf and that's where I am now and I'll get to that when I need to get to that.  I don't need to get to that now.

Q.  Last part of question, are you under obligation to pick future Ryder Cup Captains as one of them?
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† Possibly so.¬† I don't feel it's an obligation.¬† You know, I think I'll‑‑ again, I want to see who the 12 players are before I look at where they are.
But safe to say, those two ‑‑ likely to be two more vice captains will be current players, players that are still playing on Tour.¬† Obviously Des and Sam are not still competitive on Tour, but I can assure you, the remaining vice captains being announced will still be competitive on Tour.

Q.¬† The reality of the way the Tour is these days‑‑ making enough money‑‑ do you think the Irish, PGA champion should be playing? **
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† There's a tough question.¬† I don't know enough about it to have an opinion to be honest.¬† I need to look at it.¬† I think it's always been‑‑ The Irish Open has always been very favourable towards the PGA Champion and also towards the amateur ranks, as well.
I know I played as an amateur and that was a huge learning curve and stepping stone for me to play in The Irish Open as an amateur.  I think the PGA are very much part of The Ryder Cup as we all know, as well, too.
My instinct is yes, you know, it would be nice to have the PGA club pro playing here, as well, too, but I'm sure there's a bigger story behind that and a reason why.  I don't know all the ifs and outs of it and I need to have a look at that before I can have a clear opinion on it.
But in general, the principlewould be year, but there's obviously a reason.  I wouldn't like to have an opinion without going through the background and doing my homework on it.

** Note The European Tour granted eight places to the PGA of Ireland for eight Irish PGA professionals. In addition the Tour granted four spots to the GUI for Irish amateurs to compete.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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