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September 17, 2014

Paul McGinley


SCOTT CROCKETT: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for your attendance here today. Paul, welcome back to Celtic Manor, obviously the site of the last home Ryder Cup and very appropriate, we are only nine days away from the start of the next home venue. Tom is giving a conference tonight talking about his plans. Just talk about outlining where you think you are with your team.

PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, I think we are in good shape. We are all very excited. Not far away now. A lot of the players are resting, particularly the ones who played in America the last few weeks, and right to the end of THE TOUR Championship, obviously rest is the most important thing for them. Obviously some players playing this week, which I'm having dinner with tonight, and then other guys are preparing on their own in various places around the world. We are all in good shape, all preparing in different ways and we are all looking forward traveling with Sunday/Monday to Gleneagles.

SCOTT CROCKETT: I know you're looking forward to seeing with the four guys tonight here, as well, and having dinner with them.

PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, I have dinner tonight with the four players that are here along with the four caddies, just a little chitchat, going through a number of things. Nothing too difficult for them to comprehend and to take on board because I'm aware that they are playing The Wales Open this week and it's important they play and prepare well for this tournament and hopefully play well in it and show some form they can carry into Gleneagles. I won't being taxing them too much with too much information but a general chitchat and a bit of information, a little small folder I'll be giving each of them, photographers there of what it looks like at Gleneagles at the moment, various places like the first tee and the walk to the first tee and maps of the golf course and maps of the where the practise ground will be and just an information package like that, just sharing information.

Q. I think they have set this course up to as closely resemble Gleneagles as possible. Can you talk about the obvious reason why you did that, and also, you have four players here? And you sound quite happy that the others are doing their own thing, having rest where needed, etc.
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, exactly. We have got three sets of fours, really, four guys doing their thing on their own, four guys preparing this week and then of course the guys who played last week need rest more than anything else. When I got the job quite a while ago now, I was aware of when the schedule would come out, I was keeping on top of the schedule on what the week would be before it's very important the week before. I'm delighted that the guys in America have a week off before, the guys that have been playing in America and they needed that. They didn't have that at Medinah, and I think we suffered from that; some of our players suffered from fatigue as a result of going so far in THE TOUR Championship. So I'm delighted they have an opportunity to rest this week which they are all doing. And then in terms of the guys that are playing this week, as I said before so many times before the examination paper that Gleneagles is going to pose, and I wanted to align the setup of this golf course very similar to that, for that reason, preparing for the examination paper that's going to be next week, but doing it in a competitive environment and in a very good, strong tournament like the Welsh Open, at a tournament where we've obviously had a Ryder Cup in the past.

Q. You were saying that the European team is in good shape and I don't think anyone would dispute that. On the American side of things, there's been obviously a lot of discussion about the wild cards, some of them under performing while other people have come to the fore. Has to help that you perhaps the wild cards are going to be perhaps under extra pressure.
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, you know what yeah, all those points obviously are valued. There is questions and there is that kind of talk going on but to be quite honest, I'm under no illusions whatsoever. The players, I've spoke to them all, were all really gung ho and ready for this Ryder Cup. This is not about being complacent. If we don't win this Ryder Cup, it won't be because of complacency, I can assure you that. We are very motivated. We know it's going to be a very strong American Team. We know it's going to be a very strongly motivated team and a very strongly led American Team, as well. So we are under no illusions how big this task is. It's not a case of turning up and the Americans are going to roll over. This is going to be very, very difficult to win this Ryder Cup. I think we've got a slightly different threat from America than we've had in the past as far as they really feel like they are underdogs and they are up against it. Those things that you mentioned there, the questions and all that kind of thing and the form, that can galvanize a team, as well, too. We've seen that in the past, certainly from a European perspective, how not being on form are questions marks being made about the team can really galvanise themselves. We will not be underestimating America, I can assure you of that. We will be absolutely ready for this.

Q. Talked about the players being maybe fatigued at Medinah. Fair to say Graeme McDowell maybe lacked a spark there and maybe about Rory?
PAUL McGINLEY: Well, I'll speak about Graeme about it. I won't speak about Rory about it because Rory has not gone on record. Graeme has gone on record as saying that he was and he felt that he wasn't prepared mentally or physically for that Ryder Cup; and as a result, because The Ryder Cup has meant so much to him, he has basically formed his schedule around the last week in September for that reason. He's gone on record as saying that, and it's quite clear that that's what he did and there was pressure on him in the middle of the season because he had fallen because he had not played very many tournaments, he had fallen behind pace in terms of making the team. But boy did he make up for it with a very strong summer. Obviously I think we're going to be a very fresh certainly he's a very motivated Graeme McDowell, I can tell you that. I know he's coming over on Friday and he's getting over the jet lag, giving himself time to get over the jet lag over the weekend. Going to spend a bit of time in Northern Ireland and travel up on Monday morning. He'll be ready.

Q. Just on Graeme, when a few of us saw him in Denver, he was adamant he wanted to play here to see the state of the game. Can you bring us up to speed on why he's not here?
PAUL McGINLEY: I spoke to Graeme about that and to be honest it's something he should talk about. Obviously there's reasons what he did. He was keen on doing it and obviously his wife just had a baby and that came into it and all that kind of thing and things change as you know when you have a baby. He just felt that

Q. Nothing to worry about?
PAUL McGINLEY: Certainly nothing to worry about, no. Absolutely not. He's disappointed he's not playing here. He like it is here and he knows Terry Matthews well, and he feels like would he have loved to play a tournament. He just felt the family issue and all that kind of thing. He'll enlighten you more about that. Victor is Victor, as we all know. He decided at a very late stage to say, you know what, I'm going to prepare better I think down in France where he is this week. I know he's down there with the French Federation doing some work for them. I know they are very proud of him being on the team and I know he's doing some work and video stuff for the Junior Ryder Cup coming up and wishing them the best of luck, having played in that before. The one thing that makes me feel happy and secure in terms of Victor's preparation is the fact that he's a guy who disappears, and then all of a sudden comes out of nowhere and plays well in a tournament. We saw him after a sustained time he had off at the BMW PGA Championship when he was injured and missed a lot of tournaments having played so well in the World Match Play. The whole world is like, where's Victor, and then he comes out and wins the Scandinavian Masters. I have no problem with him having an extended period of time away from competitive golf from playing because he's proven in the past that doesn't affect his performance. Again he's a guy who is ready and I know he's really keyed up and looking forward to next week.

Q. Just following up on that, would you have preferred Victor to be here, because he does come across as being a bit of an outsider and someone you have to work with to integrate into the team than more than some of the other guys.
PAUL McGINLEY: My conversations with the players were along the lines of what I said earlier. I'm going to be setting up the golf course and I'm going to be talking to David Garland and Mike Stewart like I have been, setting up this golf course in a very similar vein to how Gleneagles is going to be set up, a European Tour setup. I explained to all the players that that was going to be the case. Obviously the guys that went to the end of THE TOUR Championship, that wasn't really a question for them coming here and playing another week. They needed rest more than anything, so I didn't really have a big conversation with them about it. Although I did give it to them before they played because they didn't know how far they were going to go in THE TOUR Championship, and should you go into THE TOUR Championship, this is what's going to be available to you. They all knew well advance and obviously the guys that got to THE TOUR Championship, that wasn't a factor and the guys that didn't, some of them decided to prepare themselves away. Like Ian Poulter, for example, is in Lake Nona preparing, Victor is down in France, and some guys feel that's the best way they can prepare. I'm not going to say, you have to do this, you have to do this. They know their games better, they know how to prepare better, they know where they are mentally better and I trust them. If that's what they want to do, there's certainly no pressure from me or trying to talk them into playing here.

Q. We all remember what happened four years ago when the rain came and the Americans got wet. Given you are going to Gleneagles next week, are you confident that there's nothing all the attention to detail has been carried out?
PAUL McGINLEY: You can never say never in anything. I'd like to think that everything we've done to minimise the chances of something big going wrong in terms of waterproofs or bad weather, we've looked at a lot of those angles. We're on top of all those things and I'd like to think we have but you can never say never. You know what life is like. Things can go wrong, something can go wrong. Never going to say never, but like to think that we have minimized the chances of something going wrong.

Q. When we were at The European Tour awards dinner, you said you wanted this to bed rowdiest Ryder Cup ever
PAUL McGINLEY: Noisiest, not rowdiest.

Q. have not been exactly subdued in the past years. What exactly are you looking for?
PAUL McGINLEY: What I'm looking for is an environment that's going to elevate the players to play to a different level. I have always enjoyed feeding off the crowd when I was a player in The Ryder Cups, and I think it's an incredible occasion, particularly playing at home, where the noise level and the people pulling for you can really elevate you. It certainly elevated me, particularly in The Belfry, my first Ryder Cup. Wow, I definitely rode the emotion of the crowd there and the noise from the crowd, and the tighter things got, the more security you had because the crowd was so much in my favour and were so vociferous when I holed a good putt or hit a good shot, and incredibly passionate. I know that the players are looking forward the big players, it's like racehorses, big players like big occasions. Big racehorses, they love the big occasion, and it's the same with golfers. We like big occasions, big atmospheres. And I think if it is a very noisy Ryder Cup and the crowd can play a big part in hopefully elevating the players to a new level and hopefully perform better.

Q. You made the point that you did not pick Stephen for that reason, but having him on board has got to help in that respect, as well?
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, it is. I've got a lot of affinity and I can connect with Stephen on where he's coming from in terms of I've been lucky enough to play a Ryder Cup in my home country, as well, too. I know what it's like and I'm really happy he's gone out of Scotland and he's down here in Wales. I know what it's like, demand for tickets, everybody talking and everywhere you look and billboards and reference to The Ryder Cup. It's great that he's come away now and got his plans in place and he's going to have one night at home on Sunday night where he comes up to Gleneagles on Monday. He's played a few practise rounds already and he's been up there and at this stage for Stevie, it's not about burning energy. It's about conserving it as best he can. I think it's great that he's come down here, a little away from everything that's happening in Scotland and it will help him prepare for next week.

Q. Touching on Victor again, as a self confessed loner, if you like, have you felt the need to work with him or try to make sure that he's ready to embrace the team room environment?
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, Victor is a guy I didn't know this time last year very well. I played with him on Tour but I couldn't say that I knew him. I've gone out of my way this year, particularly after the performance on Arizona which assured him on the team. I went out of my way and the EurAsia Cup was very big for me on that point. I used that as a reason for me to travel out there and be involved in it. I was going to go anyway, but it was an extra reason for me to go whether Victor was going to be playing and get to know him. I had dinner with him most nights. We conversed with him, had a bit of fun, had a bit of craic, got to know him, got to understand him and got to gather information on him and who he is as a person. I know who he is, and I think Victor is very much his own man and I'll be certainly letting him be his own man and letting him make his own kind of way. Obviously there's an overall structure in place in Gleneagles, but there's also room to do his own thing, as well, too. I think it's important that Victor has that freedom to make his own decisions and to go about things the way Victor sees it. As I say, he knows himself better than I know him. There will be time and place where things will have to be done and conversations with Victor but in general I think he's a guy that's going to relish this Ryder Cup and enjoy the environment.

Q. What's the most unusual source of advice that you've sought?
PAUL McGINLEY: I'll have to think about that. It's not that I go out of my way to speak to people but I do happen to be in a situation where guys were there like, for example, yesterday, I had lunch with John Jacobs, and it was just a pleasant lunch. And you're always gathering up information, even though it's a very social environment where you're having a bit of lunch, there's always something you pick up. What's the best advice that's a tough one. I have to think about that. There's nothing that comes to mind. Nothing that comes to mind but there's been a lot of really good advice I have to say from a lot of people and I'm lucky I've been involved in so many Ryder Cups and I've learned a lot myself and I've observed a lot myself and walked and listened and been observant.

Q. Both McIlroy and Garcia expressed relief that they would not be facing Horschel or Kirk. Were you relieved, and do you see in the future the Americans maybe putting back their wild card picks?
PAUL McGINLEY: Again, that's not for me to, that's something for the Americans to decide going forward in terms of how they formulate the team. I'm very happy the way we do ours. I think we get it right. I know there's some guys playing THE TOUR Championship but I think it's good that we finish our points system on European soil like we do. The first part of the question was?

Q. They both said they were relieved.
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, look, when you have two guys on fire like they are referring to, yeah, of course you would probably like them part of the team but again I haven't focused that much. When Tom makes the decision, he made it based on what was in front of him and the information in front of him at the time. I don't really know what that information was because I wasn't following his stats and I wasn't getting to know the players and getting all background information that I had to do when I was making our picks. So it's not really for me to say because I don't know enough about what was going on there, and I don't know enough about Billy Horschel. I don't know him and I've never met him and I don't know Chris Kirk. So it's not really right for me to have a view on that. Honestly I've been more concerned about that. 95 percent of my time, maybe more, maybe 98, 99 per cent of my time and energy goes into Europe. I'm not really spending a lot of time around what the Americans are doing or following what the Americans are doing. All I know is this is going to be a strong team, a very motivated team and we have to be really on it if we are going to win this Ryder Cup. There's no room for any complacency and there won't be any complacency.

Q. How and when did you find out that Victor wasn't going to be involved this week?
PAUL McGINLEY: He text me and told me and he's had conversations, and I endorse his decision. I said, Victor, if that's how you see it, I have no problem with that and you do what's best for Victor.

Q. Have you a few on the R&A vote, which way it should go?
PAUL McGINLEY: Oh, I think the view to be quite honest my view is that very much, yes, of course ladies should be members. I think that's the view most people will have and hopefully that's pushed through.

Q. Rory and G Mac have been obvious partnered in the last few Ryder Cups but the judge in their court case, even he was moved to say, you've got to sort this out and go to mediation. How much of a concern is that situation at the moment?
PAUL McGINLEY: Well, it's not a concern to be honest and I really mean that. Both of them have played this has gone on for a year and both of them have had very strong years. Graeme has won The French Open, had a great run during the summer, and Rory arguably has had his best year on Tour, just been voted Player of the Year in America. Both of them, it has not affected their golf. Both of them have assured me it's not going to affect anything going on behind the scenes. Where I go now in terms of strategy and all that kind of thing is up for me to decide on what we are going to do. I'll be very surprised if they don't play together like I said before at some stage, but I'm not going to write it in stone. It is something I'll make decisions over in the next few weeks. I can assure you, I'm very lucky and I don't have anything to worry about on that side.

Q. I was going to ask you about pairings. Do you have an idea of what the pairings will be or do you need the four days of practise to put them in stone?
PAUL McGINLEY: I have a good idea in general of where things are going. I think my experience like most Ryder Cups, you have a skeleton plan in place. It's not written in stone, but it evolves during the week: You see some guys coming into form, some guys coming out of form, some guys may be more tired than you think, and there has to be room and maneuverability and flexibility within that plan. So I'm working to an overall skeleton plan, but it's not written in stone. And we'll just have to see how things evolve and the communication with the players and my reading of the players and where they are: Are they tired, are they not; can they play five matches; is five matches too much; is three matches better for four matches or two matches or whatever the case may be. I just have to assess that next week, along with the vice captains, when we get there.

Q. Listening to all your answers, it's clear that you're very positive about an awful lot of things heading into the week. Would it be possible to say what your biggest concerns and worries might be at this stage?
PAUL McGINLEY: My big worry, my one worry is: You're at the very pinnacle of world sport here. You've got 12 of the best players from Europe playing 12 of the best players from America. This is top level sport. And top level sport, anything can happen as we all know. That's always a worry. I mean, I know a lot of you don't follow Gaelic football but there was a big match in Dublin last week where Dublin played against Donegal. Dublin were 1 10 playing at home. Great team, won last year, incredibly well prepared, brilliant manager, very cutting edge manager, great record, great run of form, playing against a Donegal team that had had a bad year last year, gone down to Division II and were coming back and very heavily under dogged. And I can assure you, I know both managers very well. Jim Gavin the Dublin manager would have prepared the Dublin team very well and would have got his so many of his strategies and decisions right, and his man management on top of that. And went out and they got beaten and they got beaten comfortably. And that's just an illustration about when you are talking about top level sport, these things happen. And that's always a worry. My job as captain is to minimise the chances of that happening to the best of my ability. But as we all know in top level sport, it can happen.

Q. You mentioned the book you were going to hand out tonight. Is there one thing in particular
PAUL McGINLEY: Small information folder for each player.

Q. Anything in particular that you think will get their juices flowing?
PAUL McGINLEY: I think the photographs, the photographs which were taken two days ago. You've been up there, I've seen you. You've seen them. It's one thing going to Gleneagles playing in the Johnnie Walker and another thing going there when you're playing in The Ryder Cup. The first tee, how the stands are sitting around the first tee, the walk that the players have to do because the practise ground is moved over to the Kings Course and where they will be walking them underneath the cart following the cart path going underneath the road back out to the first tee. I have an overall map of that and a picture from the top. I have some aerial photographs taken from an airplane on top, as well, too, so they can see the whole site and where everything is, and where the media centre is so they won't get lost on the way to the media center. And the section of the hotel that we'll be staying in and showing them exactly where it is and there's a site plan in there, as well, too. There's no images inside the team room or no images like that, but it's just a general view so they know that's where the hotel room is, that's where the practise ground is, and so they will know all that in advance. The guys in America, I've FedEx'ed those to them so they have it, and the guys coming over for the weekend, most of them are coming over on Friday and they will have them when they get here into Europe on Friday. So we are all on top of it. It's an information thing, very generic. There's nothing in there that's secretive. Just sharing of information to a level that's enough for them to take on board without getting into who they are playing with or whatever the case may be or what balls they may have to practise. That's something that we can go on to a later stage.

Q. People take different approaches to the rookies. Could you assess your rookies and what your approach to bedding them into the Ryder Cup is going to be?
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, that's an interesting thing and obviously a big challenge for me is to in terms of what I'm doing now, strategy and as I say I've got a skeleton plan as to how we may do it but that may change. It's interesting because the first session is fourballs and as everybody knows it's a lot easier to play fourballs than it is foursomes. Got three rookies on the team. If you don't play them in the first morning or maybe you put them out in the foursomes in the afternoon or maybe you wait until the following day foursomes that don't play the first day, these are all questions going through my head and discussing through my head with my vice captains and strategy. That's what's interesting about it. It's up to me to come up with a plan as to what is the best way of bringing the rookies into it. But like I said before, I can assure you, everybody, barring injury or something unforetold, will be playing before the singles at some stage, certainly at least one match maybe more. And there are other things going through my head, and you as followers off The Ryder Cup and looking at it and understanding the game, what you're thinking, I'm thinking, as well, too. It's the obvious thing we all see. It is a challenge. Do we put rookies out first in the morning, leave them out until the afternoon or leave them in the second day? They are questions I have, too.

Q. Played with Phil Price, Jamie Donaldson, is the second Welsh man to play in a European Team
PAUL McGINLEY: Third. Woosie is a very proud Welsh man.

Q. Making his debut this time. What are you expecting, hoping, from him?
PAUL McGINLEY: I think, here is a guy who, again, I can sense where he's at because I went through a similar experience of having played well to make the team and to burst through the line like he did, winning the Czech Open to make his first Ryder Cup Team. He's playing his first event since this week, and it must be an incredible exciting time in his life; and it will be an incredible, exciting time, not only for him, but his family, too, and people that are close to him. It doesn't get much better. It doesn't get much better, anticipation of your first Ryder Cup. And I'm sure he's in a very excited state of mind at the moment looking forward to playing the Welsh Open this week and then going up to Gleneagles this week and playing his first Ryder Cup. He must be incredibly excited. I know he is and I've obviously spoken to him quite a bit. He's had a few weeks off and a bit of fun and he's looking forward to getting back and competing and playing this week
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