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August 6, 2014

Tom Watson


JULIUS MASON:テつ Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, United States Ryder Cup Captain Tom Watson joining us in Louisville, Kentucky for the 96th PGA Championship.
Tom, welcome to Kentucky.テつ Looks like you have a couple of things on the agenda around the corner.テつ On Sunday, you will find out the nine players who will make your team.テつ On Monday, after the PGA news conference to talk about the nine who just made you team, we'll forecast to September 2 in New York at about 7:00 p.m. primetime, where you will announce your three captain's picks, and I guess in about 47 days, you'll be landing in Edinburgh, Scotland with the 12 members of your team.
TOM WATSON:テつ How do you know it's 47 days?
JULIUS MASON:テつ I want to say I really like your shirt today, too.
TOM WATSON:テつ Julius, you're a beauty.テつ 47 days, you have this down to a T, this man.テつ Thank you, Julius.
PGA Championship, I've had some success here at Valhalla, although it's a little bit different golf course this year.テつ It's about 400 yards longer than 2011, when I had some pretty good success here back then, and it's pretty long for a guy my age.
Going into No. 16 with a 3‑wood yesterday, and hybrids into some of these greens, that makes it a little tougher for me.テつ But I hope I'm up to the challenge tomorrow as we start.
I've had a pretty good run this summer as far as my own golf is concerned.テつ I've had some good rounds.テつ I haven't put four together but I've put some good ones together a few times against the kids, as I call them.
But I think more importantly, that what's transpired over the period of this last‑‑ really from the beginning of the year, people have asked me how much work has it been to be a Ryder Cup Captain.テつ And I say, it really has not been any work at all.テつ It's been a joy.テつ And the joy has been honestly to be able to walk up to a lot of these guys on the team or trying to make the team, and talk to them, mano‑a‑mano, as a Ryder Cup player myself, as a Ryder Cup Captain, former players, to be able to get to know these players.
Bottom line is when we go over to Scotland in 47 days, I'd like to be able to understand who these players are, what their likes and dislikes are, and it's been fun to get to know a lot of these players for the first time.テつ That's been the joy of the process of being a Ryder Cup Captain.
Right now, we are down to the last tournament to determine the last nine players, or the nine players that will be on the team.テつ A lot of things can happen.テつ You look at the list right now, you see Reed, Dufner, Johnson, Mickelson, Bradley, Todd, Moore, Kirk, they are all in the mix.テつ Anybody that has a half decent tournament, they can jump right up there, but you never know what's going to happen until the end of Sunday.
I go back to my one sad Ryder Cup story, trying to make the team.テつ 1985, I believe we were playing at Cherry Hills, I can't remember exactly, was that Cherry Hills in '85 we played in the PGA?テつ And I was trying to make the team.テつ I was right on the borderline.テつ There were no captain's picks then, none, and I was right there.テつ And I knew I had to make a certain number of points on the last‑‑ you had to finish in the Top‑10 to make some points.
And I came down to the last hole, the 18th hole, and I knew that I had to make a par to be on the team.テつ I hit the best drive I possibly could hit, big cut shot up the ride side, fairway slopes like this, and it rolls all the way across those fast fairways down in the short rough, the collar rough, but in a divot.テつ And I tried to play a shot out of the divot, tried not to hit it fat and I skulled it.テつ Went over the green, chipped it back 15 feet coming down the hill and missed the putt to miss The Ryder Cup Team by one shot.テつ That was the shot.テつ It was a great disappointment.
Another time, Dave Stockton in'91.テつ I went down to play Kiawah by myself to try to get a chance to see the golf course to prove to Dave Stockton, and I wanted to play on the team.テつ He called me and said, "Tom, you didn't make the team, but appreciate your efforts going down there."
The Ryder Cup has been a very large part of my life, growing up, really used to look forward to it, to watch it, to listen to the aftermath of it.テつ You know, some of those stories about Brian Barnes beating Jack Nicklaus twice in the last day of the 36 holes of individual matches, those are legendary stories.テつ That was part of my love for the game and part of my love for The Ryder Cup.
So this year, as I said, it's been a joy to be a part of this.テつ Julius has been putting a lot of pressure on me to do a lot of extraneous things that I actually haven't had too much problem with.
I certainly enjoyed the Year to Go event in Scotland last year at Gleneagles.テつ Got to ride in a steam train and got to be around Paul McGinley, my counter part, who is a wonderful man and will be a very formidable opponent as a captain I'm sure.
So that's basically what has been going on in my life as far as a player and being Ryder Cup Captain.テつ If anybody has any questions, I'd like to open it up to some questions.
JULIUS MASON:テつ How about that, Tom.
TOM WATSON:テつ I satisfied everybody.テつ Tiger's not on site yet.

Q.テつ Have you talk to anybody on the bubble, and any advice that you give them this week?
TOM WATSON:テつ I have.テつ In fact, I have played with everybody with the exception‑‑ I haven't played with Bubba.テつ I've talked with Bubba.テつ Played with Jim Furyk, Jimmy Walker, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth.テつ Played with Patrick Reed.
Haven't played with Duf.テつ There's a story in itself today.テつ You obviously heard him be very frank about his issue with his neck and he's going to try to play this week and get enough points to be on the team, and he has some options if he makes the team, or if he doesn't make the team, what happens.
It's kind of the same thing with Tiger; what happens if he doesn't make the team and what are my options.テつ Those things, the answers to those questions that you'd like to hear, I don't have an answer to that yet.テつ I can't answer that.テつ I have to wait till things transpire up to the September 2 date that I pick the three players, and a lot of things can happen between now and then.
I haven't played with Phil.テつ I played with Keegan, Brendan Todd, Ryan Moore today, Chris Kirk, Webb Simpson, Harris English, Matt Every.テつ So I've done what I wanted to do as far as being a captain and having a chance to go out and play with these players, talked with every one of them.テつ It's been a joy.テつ It's been a great process.
As I said earlier on with the question being, am I too old to be Ryder Cup Captain, and I answered it very clearly, and I said, I know that they know that I've been there before.テつ And I know that they understand that I understand what they go through on The Ryder Cup team.テつ So age is not an issue.
Now, Tweeting and things like that, I'm not very good at that, but I do know that these guys can help me out there if I need some help.

Q.テつ Have you talked to Tiger?テつ And if so, when and in what way, by phone or by note or by text or however?
TOM WATSON:テつ I've talked to Tiger here a couple weeks ago by phone.テつ I've texted him.テつ In fact, I texted him after he got hurt on Sunday and just wished him well.テつ Hope he gets it figured out.
Then he texted me back and he said, That's what we are trying to do, figure out what's going on.

Q.テつ That being said, it's a little different scenario now.テつ Before, it was more if he was healthy and he was playing well, you thought that it was a good possibility you would pick him.テつ Now it seems like it's hard to tell when he will exactly be well or when this type of situation will flare up.
TOM WATSON:テつ Exactly.

Q.テつ Does that change your mind‑set going into the next six weeks?
TOM WATSON:テつ Really honestly, it's speculation what's going to happen.テつ I can't tell you what's going to happen with Tiger.テつ I don't know his physical condition right now.テつ And I said right from the beginning, if he's playing well and he's in good health, I'll pick him.
Obviously he's not in great health right now and he hasn't played very well.テつ So the question is, will I pick him?テつ Well, I can't tell until things happen in the next three or four weeks.テつ Honestly can't answer this.

Q.テつ Are you encouraged by the fact that he did show up this week?
TOM WATSON:テつ I am encouraged, yes.テつ He said to me he really wants to make the team in the worst way.テつ He wants to make the team.テつ Just like Duf did; Duf says, I want to make this team.テつ This Ryder Cup is a big thing.テつ It's a big, big, big event, and these players really want to make the team and bring that Cup back to the United States.
After what happened at Medinah, I'd be the same way.テつ I'd want to be getting on the team and do what you have to do to get that Cup back.

Q.テつ Rickie Fowler has not won this year, but he's been in the mix in the three majors very strongly.テつ What do you think of his evolution this year?
TOM WATSON:テつ Well, I played with him in a practice round at The Open Championship at Hoylake.テつ He impressed me.テつ He knows how to maneuver the ball.テつ I think Butch Harmon has helped him.テつ He's admitted to the fact that Butch has helped him.
You know, the one thing about this game, as players know, and I know as a player, you can't have confidence in you're playing badly.テつ You can only gain confidence when you start hitting shot after shot, the way you want to hit that shot, and confirming shot after shot.テつ That gets you to that confidence level, and I can see it in Rickie right now.テつ He's got that confidence level.

Q.テつ There was a discussion yesterday on the Golf Channel about the possibility of Tiger being a vice‑captain if he didn't prove fit enough or able to play on your team.テつ What would your thoughts be on that?
TOM WATSON:テつ I haven't given any thought to that at all.
JULIUS MASON:テつ That's a terrific segue while we continue to take questions.テつ Tom, I think you had another special announcement you wanted to share with everybody today?
TOM WATSON:テつ I do.テつ Back to the beginning of this process, one of the things you do as a captain, you pick some people that you really believe that can help your team in both the team room and also from the psychological standpoint and the trust standpoint who can help you get on the golf course, give you good feedback on how the players are playing, and really make a difference between winning and losing.テつ That's the vice‑captain.
First I picked my good friend, Andy North.テつ Andy's background to it was he's been around the horn a lot with these players, working for ESPN.テつ He's been able to talk with all the players and understand from a personal standpoint who they are and how they are playing.
Raymond Floyd I brought in as the kick‑butt vice‑captain.テつ He's got those steely eyes; being a former Ryder Cup Captain, he knows how to get the best out of the players.テつ He knew how to get the best out of me, I can assure you that.
And I'd like to announce right now that I have asked, and he has accepted, Steve Stricker as my third and final vice‑captain.テつ Steve, would you come up and join us on the stage here?
Steve has been on The Ryder Cup Team three times.テつ He's been on five Presidents Cup teams.テつ He's a man‑‑ he may be a little bit too close to Andy North over here being from Wisconsin, but I think that maybe gives him a good one‑two punch with some of these players.
Steve, when I called you, it was a pretty simple‑‑ it was a pretty simple response from you.テつ I'd love to be the vice‑captain, and I appreciate that very quick and simple response that you made.
What do you think of our team?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ I don't like that all these guys are showing up hurt or leaving the TOUR for personal reasons.テつ But you know, we've got a lot of great players still in the mix.テつ The team hasn't been set yet, but the guys just outside the points I know are excited to play and are trying to earn points this week.
There's so many good players, and whoever is on that team is surely going to have played their way in there.テつ So I still like it.テつ I would really like to have a healthy Tiger on that team, I know that, and I know you would, too.
TOM WATSON:テつ I would.
STEVE STRICKER:テつ It will be exciting to see what happens this week, and with your three picks come September.

Q.テつ Regarding Tiger's fitness, are you content to evaluate that simply from conversations with Tiger or do you need a doctor's report?
TOM WATSON:テつ Conversations with Tiger.テつ He's straight‑up with me.

Q.テつ In picking Strick as an assistant captain or vice‑captain, was there any thought to the fact that if one player was in Gleneagles and couldn't go, that you would have a player that could actually go if necessary?
TOM WATSON:テつ Well, I think the way it stands, and you correct me if I'm wrong, Julius, if a player can't go when he's on‑site, we just play with 11 players; if a player can't go before we leave, I have the ability to be able to pick another player to go.
JULIUS MASON:テつ The Opening Ceremonies is the cutoff date.
TOM WATSON:テつ It is.
JULIUS MASON:テつ So as long as you have your 12 people lined up before the Opening Ceremonies, you're good to go.テつ If you have a player that is unable to participate before Opening Ceremonies, you have an option to pick out.
TOM WATSON:テつ He just corrected me, okay.
You'd better be playing well (Laughter).テつ Hope we don't have to make that decision.
The other question you want to ask me, what if he wins the PGA, he's on the team.テつ Will he be a vice‑captain or play on the team?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ I told him I wanted to be a vice‑captain.
TOM WATSON:テつ I told him, BS, you're playing, man.
STEVE STRICKER:テつ I've got one more shot left.テつ I've got this week left.
TOM WATSON:テつ You're darned right you do.

Q.テつ When you look at the young, present makeup of the European side, would you say it's getting stronger as the weeks have gone on?テつ And what is your assessment of the picks Paul McGinley has in his hand compared with the picks you're facing?
TOM WATSON:テつ Well, the team is obviously very strong.テつ They have got some real good frontrunners right now, Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy to name two.
As far as the picks are concerned, you look at Luke Donald, Ian Poulter, Joost Luiten, Stephen Gallacher, Miguel テδ]gel Jimテδゥnez; you've got five really solid possibilities for picks right there for his three picks.テつ Their team has shaped up very strong, not a question.テつ But we'll be there and we'll be ready, I promise you.

Q.テつ A lot of captains have gone for four vice‑captains recently, to have sort of one with each match or out on the course during the first two days.テつ Can you confirm that you said Steve is your third and final vice‑captain, you're not going to have anymore?
TOM WATSON:テつ Yes, we had a budget for the team uniforms, you see, we had to kind of keep it down there (Laughter).

Q.テつ How much will you involve your assistants in making those final three choices out of the nine?テつ And to add on to that, those three captain's choices, are you looking for players whose games will fit the course or are you looking for those players who will complement the nine that have made the team?
TOM WATSON:テつ Well, first of all, I'll involve them intrinsically with every decision I make on the picks.テつ Steve's been out there; he's played against these guys.テつ Andy has been out there watching the guys.テつ Raymond has his thoughts.
I'm going to use every bit of information available to me to make those picks.テつ Now, ultimately it's my decision to who is going to be there.
As far as picking players who complement the golf course, yes, I've played the golf course.テつ I understand how the golf course plays.テつ But the golf course is pretty straightforward.テつ The greens are fairly large, they are fairly flat.テつ There will be a lot of birdies made on the golf course.テつ So does that favor‑‑ it favors the longer hitter, as it always does on American golf courses, whether you hit the ball a long way versus some of the links courses where it forces you to lay‑up.
Not a lot of lay‑ups there.テつ There are a few.テつ No.1, you'll probably lay up, No.5.テつ There may be four or five lay‑ups out of the 14 drives there.テつ But the rest of it, you can get away with hitting driver.
My assessment of the golf course is there will be a lot of birdies made.テつ I don't think it favors the longer hitter a great deal over the shorter hitter.テつ But it's always nice to have that extra 20 or 30 yards over the shorter hitter.

Q.テつ Could you outline the qualities that Steve will bring to your backroom team, and also just address the fact that obviously he's of a different generation to the other two vice‑captains that you've selected.
TOM WATSON:テつ Are you a different generation than North?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ A couple generations (Laughter).
TOM WATSON:テつ Again, the generational differences don't make anything, don't make any difference at all.
What Steve brings here is a great familiarity with the players who are on the TOUR right now.テつ He's played against them, played with them, has played with them on The Ryder Cup Team and The Presidents Cup teams.テつ So he brings a great deal of understanding of who these players are and their capabilities.テつ That's the bottom line.

Q.テつ I know that you're very close to Tiger.テつ Can you give us any perspective on what he's dealt with the last three days?テつ I know you're about to go to the course with him; do you feel like this might be a barometer in terms of whether he can play this week?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ Yeah, I don't know too much about what he's been going through.テつ I texted him right after he got hurt, as well as a bunch of other guys did, too.テつ I got pretty much the same response back as Tom, saying that he's trying to figure out really what's going on.テつ So yeah, that's about all I know.
And I know how deeply, just to reiterate what Tom said, how deeply he wants to be a part of this team, and I think that's why he's here.テつ I think obviously he wants to get his game going but he wants to show that he can play; that he's going to get healthy.テつ Because he was on that last Ryder Cup Team and we didn't get it done.
There's a bunch of guys who want to try to get that Cup back.テつ So I think it's just hindsight on my part, but I think that's his underlying reason why he's here, and like I said earlier, we need Tiger on that team.テつ We know how important he is in the game of golf, and how good a match‑play player he is; when you really do need him, he'll be there.
We'll see.テつ We'll see how it plays out this week. テつHopefully he's healthier and he can get his game going, and like I said, get it going in the right direction and be a part of the team.

Q.テつ You've suffered a bit of pain in The Ryder Cup on teams.テつ Why do you think the man sitting next to you is the one to end North America's poor record in recent matches?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ When you think of Tom Watson and you think about, first of all, respect.テつ The second thing is, we're going over to Scotland and Tom is Mr.Scotland himself.テつ He's one of them over there.テつ So I think it was a great choice by Ted and the PGA, and I know as players we all look up to Tom.
And I think he's experienced‑‑ were you on four teams?
TOM WATSON:テつ Four teams.
STEVE STRICKER:テつ He's been on four teams, and I think it was a great choice, I really do.テつ I think players will rally behind Tom, and I'm looking forward just to be a part of it.テつ It was an honor for him to call me and just to be a part of it, just because I was on that last time.テつ And I think guys‑‑ it still stings. テつI know it still stings me.
Just to be there and try to have that opportunity to get the Cup back, and to play for Tom, for all the guys, is a dream come true.

Q.テつ Mr.Scotland, how does that feel?
TOM WATSON:テつ I still can't understand the language. テつ(Laughter) I don't know how Mr.Scotland I am if I can't understand the language (Laughter).
I love it there.テつ I love the way they love the game.

Q.テつ What was your reaction when you heard Dustin Johnson would not be participating and was taking a leave of absence?
TOM WATSON:テつ Well, I was disappointed from a selfish reason that the team was going to lose a bomber, a guy who could really do it.テつ He had a great record in the previous Ryder Cup.
But on the other side of the coin, I understand a little bit of what he's going through, frankly, and I want him to get well.テつ I think that that's the most important thing that he needs to deal with right now is getting well.

Q.テつ A little off‑topic.テつ As a PGA professional, I want to thank you for putting together your DVD series, not only for the world but for us as golf professionals to go out there and be better teachers and learn everything that you did over your years.テつ Thank you.
TOM WATSON:テつ Well, thank you.テつ It's all plagiarized, you know that.テつ I learned it from everybody else and just put it down in short form.
We all learned a lesson, you learn the grip.テつ Who invented the grip?テつ Well, Harry Vardon did.テつ Anybody ever see Harry Vardon's real grip on the golf club?テつ It was about the most beautiful grip you ever saw on a golf club.
Thank you.

Q.テつ Do you plan on watching, for instance, Tiger's practice round today and follow him more closely than someone else on the course or anything like that?
TOM WATSON:テつ No, no.

Q.テつ Is there such a thing as a playing vice‑captain or a playing captain?
TOM WATSON:テつ There used to be, but actually there's too much responsibility now for the captain and the vice‑captains to be players.
You know, get back to the point I made a long time ago about being captain, but we are stage managers.テつ We just get these guys, these actors, to their marks on the stage, and they have to go out and perform.テつ And if they get a standing ovation, that's great.テつ If they boo them and throw rotten tomatoes at them, they understand what they did.
The main thing is for them to go out and perform their best, and it's our job to try to create the best place on stage for them to do it.

Q.テつ When you get picked vice‑captain, that's usually a sign of longevity.テつ Do you feel a little bit old now?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ I feel old, yeah.テつ The way my body feels makes me feel old, too.
Yeah, it's a sign of the times, I guess, that you're moving on in your career.テつ But it's also‑‑ you know, it's rewarding, too, to get a call from Tom, and to be a part of Andy and Raymond; to be a part of the whole team is pretty special.テつ But it is, it makes you feel like you've been out here for a while, but also the respect of Tom and these other guys to even think about having me on the team.

Q.テつ And with the connection between you and Andy, who is going to be big cheese and who is going to be little cheese?
STEVE STRICKER:テつ He's big cheese.テつ He's always been big cheese in Wisconsin.
JULIUS MASON:テつ Ladies and gentlemen, Tom Watson and Steve Stricker.

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