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August 6, 2014

Paul McGinley


KELLY ELBIN:  2014 European Ryder Cup Captain, Paul McGinley joining us at the 96th PGA Championship in Louisville, Kentucky.
Unfortunately, Captain McGinley will not be able to participate in the Championship this week due to some issues with his left shoulder but we do appreciate you being here to talk about The Ryder Cup, which is just seven weeks out.  You have in Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer, the winners of the last two major championships.  You have a very shot Sergio Garcia right now.  How about some general comments on the face of your team with inside of two months to go.
TOM WATSON:  Yeah, thanks.  Obviously first thing is, obviously disappointed not to play this week.  I was really looking forward to playing, and I've got something called bursitis in my left shoulder which has forced me to give it a good rest.  I'm hoping to play The Italian Open maybe in three weeks' time, fingers crossed.  So we'll see with that.
Yeah, the players, you're right, are playing great.  Europeans at the moment are playing great.  We are having a great run of success.  Obviously Rory was superb, as we all know, in The Open Championship, and Martin obviously, too, with the TPC and U.S. Open, kind of opened the gates for a very strong summer so far for Europeans.
As we stand at the moment, of course things are great from a European perspective and we're looking good and hopefully we can hold that form for another seven weeks.
KELLY ELBIN:  Will you stay around for the rest of the week?  How will you spend your time here?  Will you continue to evaluate players over the course of the Championship?
PAUL McGINLEY:  Yeah, I'll stay here, I'm doing a small bit of work for SKY Sports back in Europe each day.  I will not be communicating anymore with the players.  I've had five minutes with all the players in contention and on the team this week, and my job is done with that.
It's a question of letting them off, encouraging them and wishing them the best of luck for this week and the rest of the qualifying.  I'll be communicating with them periodically over the next few weeks but certainly not this week.  I've done my bit in terms of Ryder Cup captaincy.  Now it's just watching the scores and watching how guys play.

Q.  How well in memory or recently do you think Rory is playing compared to the best European players of the last several years, the form that Rory's in right now?
PAUL McGINLEY:  It's hard to evaluate.  I mean, it's hard to evaluate with different eras, going back to Nick Faldo and all that.  It's not apples and apples, the way the game is played compared to the Nick Faldo, the Ian Woosnam, the Bernhard Langer era.
But there's no doubt about it, when he gets into overdrive at the moment he looks like he's certainly got an extra gear compared to everybody else in the world as he showed recently.  He's got loads of potential obviously, still to come.  I think it would be a brave man to bet against him winning anymore in major championships.  There's a lot of wins and success going to come Rory's way.
He seems to be very focused and very happy in his life.  I don't think we're finished with Rory, certainly not this year.  There's a good chance he's going to win, if not this week, he'll certainly win maybe once or twice, maybe even more before the end of the year.  He's in a purple patch at the moment and playing very well.

Q.  The noise around Tiger Woods is almost deafening just now.  As the European captain, do you want him to play, do you not want him to play or do you care if he plays in The Ryder Cup?  What's your kind of position on it?
PAUL McGINLEY:  The first point on Tiger Woods is obviously his injury.  We don't know what that is, and I think hopefully for the PGA Championship as a tournament and for golf, we all know how much the viewing figures fluctuate depending on whether Tiger plays or not.  I think it would be great for him to play this week.
But in terms of whether he plays The Ryder Cup or not, that's not for me to say.  That's Tom decision.  Tom's dealing with his injury issue and his form issue.  Whether he's going to be picking him or not, it's not right for me to have an opinion on that.  I'll leave that Tom.
Certain from a PGA Championship point of view, I'd love to see him playing this week because he's great; he's box office; he's great for the game of golf.

Q.  As you heeded, the European players seem to be doing well.  You must be going to bed each night with a warm glowing feeling looking at the makeup of the team?
PAUL McGINLEY:  Looks good at the moment and looks like we'll be favorites going into the Ryder Cup, which has not really happened much over the history of The Ryder Cup.  But that's good.  That's a good position to be in.
Having said that, I'm certainly under no illusions how strong America is going to be.  They have been in some ways they are very unfortunate to lose the last two Ryder Cups, where Lady Luck and a lot of players showing a lot of fortitude at the right time just edged out in front to win by a point on each occasion.
The margin between the two teams is very, very small.  Obviously Tom is going to do a great job of captaining, I know that.  I'm under no illusions how big a task we have ahead of us.  We certainly won't be getting ahead of ourselves and thinking it's a case of turning up and winning, far from it.  It's a big task ahead of us and the players all know that.

Q.  Lee Westwood mentioned just recently that if he's not playing well, he doesn't expect to be picked.  But he shot a 63 last Sunday at Firestone and he said, "That's form."  Would you agree with that?
PAUL McGINLEY:  That is form, 63 is great form.  But it's not a done deal.  You know, as everybody knows, we don't finish until the 31st of August at the end of The Italian Open, our points qualification system.
Lee knows‑‑ that's a spring board.¬† It's kind of steady the ship last week, having missed four cuts in a row before that.
The other big factor for Lee was the fact that he solidified his place in the FedEx series.  He was 117th, I believe, before last week.  So he was a little bit dodgy in terms of being in the FedEx and that performance last week has solidified that.  So it gives him more opportunities to play on the PGA TOUR the next few weeks and again show some more form.

Q.¬† Just a reaction to Steve Stricker's appointment as vice‑captain for Tom Watson, and do you have any update?¬† I think you have two vice‑captains to come; is that correct?
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† Well, I haven't put a number on it yet.¬† I'm more concerned with the team evolving first before I start looking exactly as to where I'm going to go with vice‑captains.

Q.  You mentioned Lee Westwood and the FedExCup.  Would you pick a player who is not qualified as the FedExCup, who confined to The European Tour, maybe three or four places outside of the automatic slots, somebody like Shane Lowery?
PAUL McGINLEY:  Shane Lowery knows, there's a lot of pedigree players ahead of Shane in the rankings at the moment.  But as Shane has shown this year, he's had two of the biggest performances in two of the biggest tournaments, The Open Championship and our BMW PGA Championship.
He seems to be the man for the big occasion and he needs a big performance this week to put himself really on the top of the radar.  At the moment he's on the radar, but if he wants to push himself to the forefront of that, it going to be a big week for him this week.
Getting back to Steve Stricker, it's a very strong appointment from Tom.  I know Steve very well.  Not only has he been a great golfer but he's been a great person, as well.  I think he will complement very much what Tom has got in terms of Ray Floyd and Andy North already being a current player.
Again, it's something that I will be doing when I do appoint my vice‑captains, and where I'm looking in terms of appointing those vice‑captains will be current players just as Tom has done.

Q.  Steve Stricker paid Tom Watson quite a compliment by calling him Mr.Scotland, and you've also acknowledged that, his popularity.  Given the negativity with Dustin Johnson and Tiger's injury, is that a single positive factor in his favor?
PAUL McGINLEY:  I wouldn't say single.  I think Tom Watson has got a lot of strengths to his bowl.  Obviously being a magnificent golfer and won all the major championships, majority of them won in Scotland, as you say.  But the integrity in him as a human being, and everybody likes Tom Watson.  He's going to be a very popular figure in Scotland, there's no doubt about that.
We will respect him very much as a team and also the crowd will respect him, as well, too.  But we're under no illusions how strong America are going to be, and you know, we know we're in a real battle against Scotland and particularly Tom Watson.

Q.  Out of The Ryder Cup captains that you played for, which one do you think had the single greatest impact on whether that team won or lost The Ryder Cup?
PAUL McGINLEY:  That's a good question.  Probably Sam Torrance in 2002 had the biggest effect.  His strategy on the Sunday was very gung ho, where he led from the front, what he considered to be his top players and that came off for him.
He was very brave in some of his decisions that he made during the week.  And he had a difficult situation to deal with because of 9/11 and The Ryder Cup being put back a year, 12 months, and having the same players in place that had qualified 12 months previously; and a number of those had slightly gone off form.
He was really juggling a lot of balls that week and I think he did obviously a really strong job to win.  I think the Americans were very strong that week, a very strong team and Curtis did a very good job, too.  But certainly Sam's brave decisions, which could have backfired on him, but they didn't, they came out strong and obviously and we won.  I would say probably that.
The other two wins that I played, Bernhard Langer and Ian Woosnam, we won by record margins there.  We had two very, very strong teams in place.

Q.  Victor is a little bit of a man of mystery to many of us in the media.  Your thoughts on having him on your team and him as a person and your interactions so far?
PAUL McGINLEY:  Yeah, Victor is an interesting guy.  He's not out of the normal mode that you would expect in terms of professional golf.  But that's not a bad thing.  He's a real character.
I've gotten to know him very well over the last six months.  I've spent a lot of time with him.  I traveled to the EurAsia Cup particularly with him in mind, because I knew he was going to be at The Ryder Cup at that stage with the amount of points he amassed.  I had dinner with him every night, got to know him, got to like him, got to understand his background, where he came from, who he was as a person.
I enjoyed him, and I've really, really enjoyed working with Victor so far and I will continue to do so over the next few months.  I know he's excited about being part of The Ryder Cup Team.  Incredibly humble guy, real character, Hollywood looks.  He could be a movie star, never mind a golfer.  I certainly think he's going to be a star of golf in the future.

Q.  Have you bothered to work out exactly which players are guaranteed to be on your team yet?  And related to that, how much do you expect it to change over the next few weeks given that there are relatively few World Ranking points available in the three European Tour events compared to this week?
PAUL McGINLEY:  Yeah, well, obviously there's two big events left in terms of ranking points from the European perspective.  One is obviously this week.  But remember, the first event in the FedEx, as well, too, counts for World Ranking points.  So there will be a lot of points available for that.
So the guys who are playing in that have a real advantage.  Obviously the events on The European Tour, the last three events obviously will have a factor but the points available will not be as large.
Having said that, if you look at the difference between Graeme McDowell, Jamie Donaldson and Luke Donald is only two or three points, it's less than three points; it's nothing.  I think it's going to be an exciting run in for those guys and I'm looking forward to seeing how it all evolves.

Q.  Have you worked out exactly who is guaranteed?
PAUL McGINLEY:  Not particularly, because one thing I've learned in this game is you never take anything for granted.  I think Victor is certainly one and obviously the guys who are at the top of the World Rankings, as well, too.
Other than that, I would say the rest of the guys, you know, some more so than others, but it's still all up for grabs.  I know the players are not taking anything for granted.  Thomas Björn, for example, this week had a chat with him and he looks very strong in it and he's not taking anything for granted.  He really feels he still has to have some more good weeks, because he realizes the quality of players chasing him are so strong, and he's aware he has to keep his nose in front and he's got to play well.

Q.  You have an injury and you've chosen not to play.  Tiger has had an injury very recently, looked in a lot of trouble and he has chosen to play, it looks like, or he's trying to.  Do you think he's taking a risk there?
PAUL McGINLEY:  I don't know enough about Tiger's injury to say that, and I certainly wouldn't compare myself to Tiger.  I don't know enough about his injury to have an opinion on that, I'm sorry.
All I can say is that I really do hope that he recovers from his injury because he's great for golf in my opinion.  He's really escalated the game in the years that he's been playing the golf.  I mean, golf will certainly survive without him when his career ends and all that, but hopefully that's not for quite a while yet.  But he certainly has been good for the game and obviously wish him well with his injury.

Q.  I think you may have already poured cold water on this on SKY Sports, but can you give us an evaluation on Bernhard Langer as a possible Ryder Cup player this year?
PAUL McGINLEY:  He was one of the captains I played with.  Tremendous guy, huge heart, as we all know, great guy.  He's 56, 57 years of age now, and for me as Ryder Cup Captain of the The European Team, it's very hard for me to evaluate Bernhard, for two reasons.
First of all, I've got a real quality‑‑ we've just spoken today about the number of players who are vying for places on this European Team who are playing well for the last 12 months who are on the edge of the team.
And the second thing is it's very hard for me to evaluate Bernhard because he's not playing in World Ranking points.  The real basis that we picked him in Europe, one is World Ranking points and the second is European Order of Merit points.
Now, Bernhard doesn't count in either of those.¬† The only event he's played in that has World Ranking points or European Order of Merit points is the Masters.¬† So it's very hard for me to evaluate Bernhard where he is vis‑a‑vis the rest of the players.¬† As a result, I'll almost certainly‑‑ I'll never say never, but it's 99.9 percent sure that my picks will come from the guys who are on the periphery of the team and chasing at the moment.

Q.  You mentioned Graeme McDowell there, how pleasing is it to have a proven Ryder Cup winner moving into contention now and coming into form at seemingly the right time?
PAUL McGINLEY:  Well it seems to be the case with a number of the players.  Talking about Thomas Björn as well, he's played a number of Ryder Cups in the past and successfully so.  Obviously with me being part as the vice captain, as well.  He has a lot of experience inside the ropes and outside the ropes, which is great.
Graeme, we all know how big a heart Graeme's heart is and what kind of player he is, and he'd obviously be a good addition should he make the team, too.
But it's not just those two, we're very lucky at the moment.  Things are going incredibly well from a European perspective.  There's nothing that I would be certainly concerned about.
I'm wishing them all the best in the next few weeks because Graeme is on the periphery at the moment, but the form he's showing, it's quite logical that if he doesn't make it himself that he's got a great opportunity for a pick.  That's kind of obvious with the form that he's in.

Q.  Staying with Graeme McDowell, himself and Rory McIlroy have been a great partnership for Europe over the years and at the moment they have been caught up in the management controversy over the company that used to manage both of them and there may be a case coming.  With that in mind, would you pair them up for The Ryder Cup?
PAUL McGINLEY:  At this point in time, I don't really know where I'm going with pairings but I certainly have no issue of pairing them together.  I'll kind of be surprised if they won't play together at some stage, but I won't make that decision yet.  I want to see how things evolve.  I want to see how things evolve over the next month or so.
I know both of them are going to be huge contributors to the European time and I certainly have no issues as regards the court case or anything like that.  That's not my issue and I'm certainly not going to get involved in terms of either side.
I think both of them will be a great part of the team should they both make it, and it looks like they will.
KELLY ELBIN:  Captain, for those of us who may not know a lot about the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles, can you talk about the golf course and how it will shape up in your opinion for match play?
PAUL McGINLEY:  Yeah, it's a very interesting golf course.  I think it sets up great for match play.  You've got two par 5s and a drivable par 4 in the last five holes, so if that doesn't get people on the edge of their seats, nothing will.
Jack Nicklaus went back two or three years ago, made some slight adjustments to the golf course.  All the adjustments that he's made, I've respected.  I haven't sort of, in terms of court setup, certainly tried to outsmart or outdo the changes that Jack's made.  I've enhanced them as best I could.
I think it's going to be a great venue.  The hotel is really iconic, and the golf course will be a wonderful test and a very exciting one, with the finish that we have, particularly.

Q.  Quick question about Ian Poulter, a guy who is a Ryder Cup legend but whose form may not end up being as great right now as some who might be on the periphery of the team.  What are your thoughts on him right now?
PAUL McGINLEY:  Thoughts on him are the same as we spoke about anybody else on the periphery.  He's got a goal over the next month.  I certainly have not told Ian Poulter he's going to be a pick.  He knows that.
But with his pedigree and his background, of course he has got a great chance of being one, but he needs to keep showing form just like all the rest of the guys do.
The conversation in terms of who I'm going to go with picks has not happened and it certainly won't happen until the very last moment.  I need to see Ian Poulter play well not just this week but see him play well, too, in the FedEx series, too, which he's comfortably qualified for.
He's very close to the team.  He's only one decent performance away from being automatic on the team.  He's not a huge worry for me because his form has been quite good and he's amassed a huge amount of points.
KELLY ELBIN:  The 40th Ryder Cup is seven weeks away, Captain Paul McGinley, thank you very much.

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