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September 23, 2014

Tom Watson


MICHAEL GIBBONS: Captain Watson, welcome back, thank you for joining us again. Maybe start us off on your groupings that you've sent out today. Talk us through those.

TOM WATSON: Yeah, the players are out there feeling the golf course, a few of them for the first time. They played a sixsome yesterday. They had a great time playing yesterday, six of them, and played a sixsome best-ball. They came back laughing and just they are feeling good right now, all the players. Everybody is in good health. I followed a few holes with them today. I'll kind of follow them when they finish up after the interviews that we have to do, and we'll kind of assess the first day. I told everybody, don't worry about your golf swing too much today. It's early. Just kind of get a feel for the golf course. You see a lot of chipping and putting, and that's what I would be doing if I was a pro in The Ryder Cup, same thing. It's early, as I said, and the players, they are in very good spirit, very good spirit right now. So that's always a good thing to have.

Q. Paul McGinley revealed that Alex Ferguson is giving a team talk tonight to the European Team. Do you have any similar sort of personalities coming to address your team?
TOM WATSON: I've already given them some talks (laughter). And will be continuing.

Q. Apart from you, have you got any other similar personalities from outside the team coming to speak to your team?
TOM WATSON: Anybody else?

Q. Well, motivational speakers comparable to Sir Alex Ferguson?
TOM WATSON: Yes, have some people coming. Basically the PGA has spoken to the team, our PGA of America, and we have some other special guests.

Q. That's what I was asking. Can you say who they are?
MICHAEL GIBBONS: I think that's all he's saying, Charlie.

Q. If Ian and/or Rory are the targets for The European Team, who do you think are your targets, the targets of the U.S. Team?
TOM WATSON: Well, again, I don't want to make too much of targets, but obviously there are. Our players, I think Bubba would be a target. And I wouldn't put target -- I wouldn't define him as a target. I would just say that he can really get it going and make it happen. I hope he does. The other players on the teams, I have to give all 11 of them right now, I hope that The European Team is thinking that every one of us is a target. But again, it gets down to, it boils down to 12 players playing against 12 players, and the individuals will be great. If you knock off the big dog, as I said yesterday, that gives your team a boost. But they know that they still have to play everybody else on that team, and it's just not one person on that team they have to defeat.

Q. So Bubba is your big dog?
TOM WATSON: I would say that if I just had to pull a name, he would probably be the guy that people would be looking to defeat.

Q. Could you talk a little about your philosophy on pairings? Are you looking at types of games, or is it more personalities? And how much player input will you solicit with your pairings?
TOM WATSON: Well, I'll solicit a lot of info, to answer the second part of your question. I'm soliciting info from all sources, from the caddies, from the vice captains, from other people that know the players, know their games. As far as the pairings are concerned, I spoke to that yesterday; that there are probably pairings in the past that we are looking very hard at. Just like Paul was asked yesterday about McIlroy and McDowell. We are looking at all the players, but there are certain players that we want to play -- we're targeting to play with each other right now. It's not rocket science. I think there are certain players who I think meld very well with each other, and those are the pairings we'll probably start with. Again, once you start the contest, things do change. It evolves into who do you think is playing the best, who has the best run going. You want to go with the horses that are really running strong, and that's the way both Paul and I will do it.

Q. Paul McGinley was in here earlier saying that he wasn't sure what you meant by targeting a player, and he said that he had no player on the U.S. Team that he intends to target. Could you explain what you actually mean?
TOM WATSON: That's when I answered the question -- I just pulled a name out of a hat, Bubba. But targeting the players, I wouldn't say target. We would like to beat every player. But if you look at the players right now, the No. 1 player in the world is Rory McIlroy, and that's somebody that we'd like to see on the losing end of a match.

Q. And that's what targeting means, that once you know the pairings, that that's just what you try to motivate --
TOM WATSON: Every player, when they're paired up, they will be targeting the players they're playing, not looking at somebody else.

Q. Can I ask you about Jordan Spieth, and is there anything in particular you've seen from him that convinces you that he'll be able to cope with that at such a young age, and are you more likely to play him with one of the more experienced guys?
TOM WATSON: Jordan has a great attitude about this game. He has a very strong, mature attitude about how he plays the game, and couldn't be happier to have him on the team. He's an A-1 player.

Q. Graeme McDowell was talking earlier today about the thought that perhaps The Ryder Cup should go on a three-yearly cycle to provide a gap, particularly from the American point of view, because obviously you have The Presidents Cup; and therefore, there's more scope for kind of a refreshment of the cycle, if you like. I just wonder what your take would be on that?
TOM WATSON: Well, let me address that and say that I am concerned about how much these players are playing before they reach The Ryder Cup. That's what I'm very concerned about that. Two years ago, I made my point to Ted Bishop and to Tim Finchem about a week off between the end of the FedExCup, which, as I said, these players are playing seven out of eight tournaments or eight out of nine tournaments in a row. They are tired. That's too much golf, too much golf. But just the way it is. You have to deal with it. That does concern me, and if they could rectify that by a change in the date or the way these tournaments are played prior to it, that would be great for The Ryder Cup. As far as a three-year, I had not thought about a three-year cycle. I still like two years. I think that's just right.

Q. There's been an undertone maybe in the past decade or so that perhaps the Europeans care a little bit more about The Ryder Cup. Do you think the success they have had has made the younger generations of America care more about the Ryder Cup because they want to kind of get it back?
TOM WATSON: Well, I can assure you that our team cares; they are all in for this Ryder Cup. I've been around them, been around them for the last year. Every time I see them, they are talking about Ryder Cup. They know of our position. They know we have been defeated, and they want to get that Cup back. That's the attitude that I wanted, and that's very clear to me that this team is 100 per cent in for the run here.

Q. What characteristics make a player, both their golf game and personality, make a player a good player and an even better match-play player?
TOM WATSON: A good match-play player is someone who I think understands, first of all, you have to play the course first, but your opponent is now an element you have to deal with. There are certain things, I remember Sam Snead saying that there were certain things he would notice about an opponent when they got nervous that they didn't do normally. That's the element of a good match player, you assess your opponent. That's part of playing match play. You've all played golf before and you know how to get under each other's skin when you're on the golf course, needling them or doing something like that, you know how they react to it, but you know how they react to it in a different way when they're a little bit nervous. That's part of match play. It's mano-a-mano. I love it. I love that element of the game. When I grew up, that's all I played is match play. As a kid, my dad played Nassaus all the time. That's what we always played. We played a dollar Nassau and it was match play. When we play on the Tour, when we play money games, it was match play. It's an element that we don't see in professional golf except for The Ryder Cup, and maybe one or two other match-play events over the entire year. It's something that I truly love. I love match play.

Q. We hear a lot about what makes good pairings. Can you mention a thing or two about what specifically makes a bad pairing, what you try to avoid in making pairings?
TOM WATSON: Well, I think the bottom line there is how are they playing, what type of attitude do they have. Right now, I have the luxury right now that all the attitudes are good. During the course of the matches, it's my hope that all the attitudes remain as strong as they are right now. It's human nature to get down on yourself, but the bottom line is that if you get down on the match, you're not thinking about hitting a bad shot. You're thinking about you're hitting a good shot. You don't have that negative attitude. Each individual is -- I have to say that the team, I get back to the point of the team is right now at a very, very good mental state, and that mental state, when the pressure is on, how will that transpire to the end. That's what I have to look at when I start making the pairings after the first pairings are done. The pairings evolve throughout the matches. The body language, the play, everything is involved with you picking who is going to be playing with whom after the first pairings. The negatives are something that you don't want to see, but I don't expect to see them.

Q. People talk about how you want players whose games complement each other. Could you be a little more specific on just how two players' games can complement each other?
TOM WATSON: If they are both playing great, that's complementing each other. I don't care if it's Bubba or Zach, the long and the short of it; if they are playing well, they can play together.

Q. You spoke about needling opponents in match play being part of it. Will you send out your team with specific instructions to do that?

Q. Which of your players would be naturally best at --
TOM WATSON: No, no. You don't do that in The Ryder Cup. No. You play like gentlemen. When you're playing just for fun, you can get out the needle. You can stick it in.

Q. Sticking with the match play them, how do you think your direct opponent, Paul McGinley, is doing so far? And how challenging is this captaincy compared to 1993?
TOM WATSON: Well, Paul, he's very eloquent and he's a very tough competitor. I admire him greatly. He's a fine man. I expect him to do what he's doing right now. He's carrying the class of what The Ryder Cup is to the full hilt. Second part of your question?

Q. How does the challenge of this Ryder Cup captaincy compare to 1993?
TOM WATSON: Well, as I said yesterday, the biggest difference between '93 and now is the amount of time that I spend with the media and those types of responsibilities. It wasn't like that in '93. There was times in '93 that I had lots of lulls. Right now, it doesn't seem like I have a single lull any time. The schedule here is in my pocket. I mean, I've got this -- anyway, it's just a list, about 12 things on this thing I've got to do today, and then there will be 13 things I have to do tomorrow, all like this, plus I've got to be out with the players and here and there. I'm prepared for it. I've been there before. I rely a lot on other people and I delegate authority, and my vice captains, The PGA of America, their staff, Julius Mason is my go-to guy for what's happening here and just about everywhere. He's a wonderful man to work with. I've worked with him for a long time. So the responsibilities are greater from that standpoint, but actually from the standpoint of the team, there's very, very little difference. It's the same. My responsibility to the team is to be there for them, to tell them what I believe, and I believe that we're going to win. And I believe that they believe in themselves that they are going to win. That's the main thing. The other thing you do as a captain, you try to keep it light, but you let the players keep it light. Right now they are on the golf course. They are having a great time out there. They are needling each other. They are hitting drives and who's hitting the ball a little bit farther than the other, it's just like we all do, heck, when we were kids. This is a game. This is a game. Remember that there's just certain standard things you do when you're playing with each other. I love to see it out there with these guys.

Q. Your team is a mixture of older players and younger players. Do you sense at the moment that there's any change in the order of things in players in American life?
TOM WATSON: The older players?

Q. A change in the order of things.
TOM WATSON: Well, there's always a change. There's always a change going on as far as the players who are leading the pack. That's the nature of sport. There's a change there, and the people who lead the pack consistently, like a Tiger Woods or now Rory McIlroy. They won't last forever. You look at the great careers of the great players of the past, and the greatest players had the long careers in my opinion. The ones who proved themselves over and over again over a period of 20 or 30 years, and there are very few players like that.

Q. I feel like I should know this, but I just want to be clear: Have you been to a Ryder Cup since '93 in any capacity?
TOM WATSON: I haven't been there in person, but I've been there every time watching intently on TV, that's for sure.

Q. From what you've seen on TV, outside of the obvious, putts being holed, etc., what has enabled Europe to win so often and America to win so infrequently?
TOM WATSON: They have been able to pull it out a little better at the end than we have. That's what I've seen. They have pulled it out. I can't explain why. That's obviously what's happened. I have to give credit to the Europeans. They have played better at the end.

Q. Stephen Gallacher is playing in a Ryder Cup 37 miles from his home. Can you talk about that achievement and what you know about him? I think you played a practise round last year in the U.S. PGA with him?
TOM WATSON: I did. I saw him on the practise tee yesterday, went over and just greeted him, and said, "I'm very happy for you to make The Ryder Cup Team. I know how excited you must be." I said, "You don't live too far from here." He said, "Just a little ways away." He said, "Not as close as Monty, though." He's up there at the 10th hole at the Kings or Queens Course, isn't he. No. It's great to be -- I haven't had the pleasure of really playing a tournament close to my home. There's been a senior tournament in Kansas City, but no major championships right in Kansas City. I guess Tulsa, Denver, Chicago, but they are all a long way away, St. Louis. I know how it is when you're playing in front of your hometown with the senior tournaments. It's always a lot of fun.

Q. Does it put any extra pressure?
TOM WATSON: It may. But he'll know one thing; he'll have all the support, and that's always a good thing to have that type of support when you're running around the golf course and you have all that support. Getting back to the partisanship of The Ryder Cup, our fans will be outnumbered by the European fans, but our fans, they will make themselves heard. I guarantee you that the players feed off that. There's not a question. The players really feed off that. And as a result, I think because of that, because of the partisan nature, and also because it's match play, you see greater shots in The Ryder Cup than you do in a normal tournament. You can take more risk in match play. It's a different animal. Sometimes you just have to take the risk that you wouldn't ever take when you're playing in medal play. You have to take that risk. Sometimes with the excitement, the adrenaline and the quality of players, they just go beyond their normal capabilities in The Ryder Cup, and that's the beauty of this thing. I see more hole-outs in The Ryder Cup than any other tournament you ever watch. You don't see them at the Masters or The Open Championship, you don't see the hole-outs like you do in The Ryder Cup.

Q. Paul was talking about a template that The European Team uses, which to me sounded like a governing philosophy that's handed down from captain to captain so that success can build upon itself, whereas the U.S. Team seems to change philosophy, depending on the captain. Do you think that's something that the U.S. Team could use, and does it seem like an uphill battle when you're fighting against --
TOM WATSON: Can you tell me what his template is?

Q. No, I wish I could. Actually, they seem to keep it pretty secret.
TOM WATSON: I think every captain brings something special to it, but I think you have to say that they know what's happened in the past and they know how the teams have played in the past. I think that you might call that a template, as well. You simply try to put the best players that you think complement each other that are playing their best together to win the matches. That's what you try to do. Everybody can't play all five matches. Everybody can't play all four matches. So you have to sit some people. And the players who are not playing so well, you sit. That's what both teams do.

Q. Given your enthusiasm for and your success on the great Scottish links courses, do you think it's a pity that they are not being showcased for The Ryder Cup this year when The Ryder Cup might not be back in Scotland for a very long time?
TOM WATSON: No, not at all. This is a great location. This is a beautiful spot. Golf course is in great nick, as you say over here. It's really just superb. We are going to have some cool weather, that's one thing. We're probably going to have some rain. But this location is ideal for a Ryder Cup.

Q. Who was the team leaders that you had player-wise in '93, and who is evolving in this team as team leaders, guys that you'll talk to?
TOM WATSON: I think you go with the veterans, people that have played there. Phil has played 11 times. Jim Furyk is ten times. They are the veterans. The players look up to them. The rookies look up to them. The other players have played a few times. Again, it's a process. There's a change. We have three rookies on the team that have never played before, and then you have a couple of players that played just once and a couple players played twice, but that's it. You look to the experience. Those players, Jim and Phil -- those players look up to Jim and Phil. They have the platform a lot, and that's a really good thing.

MICHAEL GIBBONS: Tom, thanks very much, as always for joining us. We'll see you tomorrow.
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