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September 24, 2014

Tom Watson


PAUL SYMES: Well, Tom, many thanks for joining us for the third time this week. We are a day closer to The Ryder Cup getting underway now. Have you started to see your team gelling and coming together as a unit on and off the course.

TOM WATSON: Don't have a lot to add what I've been speaking about honestly. Indeed I was out with my players this morning. Some of the players are just playing nine holes. Some others are playing 18. They have things to do, too. It's kind of compressed for them. They have the interviews that they have to come here, so they are kind of compressed for time. We have the gala dinner. Have to leave here for Glasgow pretty close to 5.00. So the day is kind of compressed and some of them are playing nine holes, and others 18. They are enjoying it. They are hitting some good shots and making some good putts. I like what I see.

Q. I understand you had a couple Wounded Warriors in to address the team last night. How inspiring was that presentation?
TOM WATSON: Indeed we did. We had some men who suffered nearly the ultimate sacrifice for their country, and to be able to speak to the players, players and the caddies, as well, was a wonderful experience for everybody. It was a special night for people. The players, I think to a t, enjoyed the sobriety of the conversation; that, indeed, we are just playing a game, and that there are people out there doing work that very few other people will do in the world. That was the message.

Q. Do you feel it's a disadvantage that you haven't actually been to a Ryder Cup personally since 1993?

Q. Why not?
TOM WATSON: Because I've played in The Ryder Cup four times, and I've been a captain once. That's experience.

Q. That was a long time ago, though.
TOM WATSON: It's the same thing. The only thing different here, as I've said, is the media responsibilities I've had, the extra time that I've had to spend with the media. Everything else is the same. With the team, with the preparation, with the clothing, it's all the same. It hasn't changed from that perspective. The only big change is with you ladies and gentlemen and the time I've had to spend there.

Q. Can you still relate to obviously players who are 40 years younger than you?
TOM WATSON: I've answered that question before. Indeed, because they know I've played in The Ryder Cup. They understand I've been a captain. And they know that I know what they're doing. They have a respect for me and I have the ultimate respect for them. We're on the same page. It not a question we're on the same page. We're needling each other out there right in the practise rounds, which is kind of fun. You know, we're golfers. We're professional golfers. Doesn't matter how old you are or how young you are. Takes awhile for to you sprout your wings when you're a young professional. But we've got some seasoned -- we've got some I think very seasoned rookies out there, and that's good. We need -- it's not that we need it, but The Ryder Cup teams change. More new players come on the teams than stay and play in the teams for years. It's a turnover. How those new players play very many times determines the outcome of the matches.

Q. Who from your era most reminds you of Bubba, and why do you think Bubba and Webb gel so well?
TOM WATSON: I don't know if anybody from my era really reminds me of Bubba. He's a unique personality. That goes without saying. I know that Webb gels with him. There are a lot of players that will gel with Bubba. He's got a -- he gets along with the guys and they get along with him. There's no problem there, at all. I think almost everybody would like to play with him where he's hitting the tee ball right now and making birdies. He's doing well.

Q. Just going back to what you said about your guests last night, did you find that that kind of maybe helped reduce some of the tension and bring some perspective into the weekend, certainly for the new guys?
TOM WATSON: It did give perspective. That was the whole reason. I didn't want to advertise the fact that these gentlemen were coming to speak to the team. It was a very private thing. As I said yesterday, it's private. Now it's out. I'm willing to speak about it. It was a very good experience. As I said, it's sobering, sobering. The players, they went up to them and asked them questions. They thanked them. But it was a very sobering experience. In this cauldron of pressure, it's great to have that kind of sobering, okay, it's not so -- it's not that big a deal. We make it a big deal, but it's not that big a deal. It is The Ryder Cup; it is the event of golf. Yeah, there's pressure there. But you look in perspective of what those men did, what other people do, they work for a living. I like Hubert Green's comment, "I don't know what I'd do if I had to go work for a living," being a professional golfer. We're playing a game. We play a game for a living. What better thing can you do is playing a game for a living? You don't have to meet deadlines, really. You don't have to get your photographs in. If you screw up a flash card, no big deal. We're playing a game for a living. That's the message.

Q. Garcia spoke today about the pride of playing for Europe, the collection of disparate countries that make up the team. Are you sometimes surprised at the team spirit that the European players can call on in this competition?
TOM WATSON: No, not at all. You know, again, we're all playing a game. We play with each other on Tour. And you look forward to The Ryder Cup, because then you become, instead of competitors, you become teammates. Doesn't matter what country you're from. You all become teammates and you gel as a unit. Europe has done a great job of that. The question has been about the United States, have we done a good job of that, and I can assure you that we have. It's just you want to make a conflict about it, but there's no conflict honestly, I can tell you that.

Q. I understand that you also gave the team gifts. Can you enlighten us on what the gifts are?
TOM WATSON: They are private. They are private.

Q. Can you just talk a little about what Phil Mickelson's role might be on the team as one of the senior guys and how that may have changed a little bit with no Tiger Woods there?
TOM WATSON: Well, Phil has been just a wonderful man in the locker room through The Ryder Cups. I've talked to all the past captains of the last four Ryder Cups, maybe five Ryder Cups, and Phil's been there and he's a leader. He's a leader. He's the guy that talks. He talks smack, he talks, you know, we're going to get -- he talks the way you're supposed to be talking in the locker room. He talks the locker room talk and he gets people talking back to him. That's what you have to do. There's a lot of pressure. As I said, it's a cauldron of pressure. We're not unique in The Ryder Cup. You look at the World Cup, the matches in the World Cup, and then rugby and the locker rooms before the finals. There's banter going back and forth, and there's always one guy, maybe two guys, who carry it, and they get everybody kind of lightened up, talking back and forth. And that's the role that Phil is playing. We also have a quiet veteran in Jim Furyk, and Jim is very good at that, as well. Very quietly goes about and says the right thing at the right time. He's a wonderful, wonderful motivator.

Q. In 1993, following the '91 matches, which were very intense, yourself and Bernard Gallacher seem to have a gentleman's agreement to dial down the intensity of the two teams and it was a very civilized Ryder Cup which America won. Am I to interpret from what you're saying with regard to bringing the veterans and bringing perspective to your team, that you're dialling down the intensity of this Ryder Cup and that's a way that you want to motivate them?
TOM WATSON: I don't know. I can't answer that question. I honestly don't know. I don't know how to respond to that.

Q. Okay. Well, The Presidents Cup --
TOM WATSON: Can you elaborate a little bit?

Q. The Presidents Cup, for example, is an event which is quite intense, but The Ryder Cup thrives on its intensity and it's what has made The Ryder Cup, is its intensity. Do you believe that intensity is required for a team to win?
TOM WATSON: It's not required. It's there. When you're in The Ryder Cup, it's intense for a player, for the fans, for the captains, for the vice captains, for the press who are supposed to be non-partisan. It's there. That's why there are 400 seats out here in the media room. It's intense. People want to share this. They want to see it. They want to participate in it. As I said, when I watched The Ryder Cup -- every year I've watched The Ryder Cup. I am as intense watching it as I was when I played it or captained it. I've got that same feeling inside watching it. I don't think I'm unique. The intensity is there. The players know it. They have it from both sides. There are 24 players out there who they understand what The Ryder Cup means, but they also -- they are intense. Everybody's intense. It goes with the territory of being in The Ryder Cup. I don't know if that answers your question, but that's the way I interpret it.

Q. Has your idea of what possible pairings you were going to send out changed at all since you've been here and seen the players play?
TOM WATSON: Yeah, they have somewhat evolved. We are not set in stone. There's a little bit of give and take here and there and discussion, who is going to play with whom; if one match is really successful, do we keep them together. If they are not successful, do we split them up. Those are the decisions that the captains make, and we don't know what those are going to be yet. We kind of have an idea of who is going to play with whom at the beginning, but after that you're coaching and you're captaining by the seat of your pants. That's where we are right now. Both Paul and I, we understand that and that's why we have our vice captains to help us make these decisions and feed us information. We're retrieving information. Ultimately I have the final decision on it, but it's a collective decision, I can assure you.

Q. Do you feel that the new fearless generation of players, like Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler, are the biggest strengths in the team you have here and their performance and energy, can that be key to success this weekend?
TOM WATSON: Well, the young players, they always bring an energy to it. They bring the energy of the youth. They are getting their feet wet playing in these Ryder Cups. As I said, these Ryder Cups evolve from over the period of time -- new players come on every year; old players leave every year or every other year. The youth, as I said, they can very often determine who wins and who loses the matches.

Q. Do you think it's an advantage not to be scarred by past defeats like some of your veterans have been?
TOM WATSON: Well, I've used that from 2012. I've used that as a motivator for my team. I unabashedly have said that and that's part of the deal. We've got seven guys on the team who are there, and you know, they are not thinking about the loss. What they are doing is thinking about what they can do to win this Cup, bang, best way. As I said right from the beginning, my opening statement, these guys are in good spirits. They are in good spirits. After last night, I think the sobering effect of last night has put them on a good even keel. I like that.

Q. What went through your mind as you watched Phil and Keegan on TV two years ago? And now that you've seen them up close, how do you evaluate their partnership?
TOM WATSON: Well, they meld very well together. Keegan plays well with Phil and Phil gets in his ear. He messes with him sometimes. But in The Ryder Cup, the needle is out a little bit, back and forth. That's keeping them loose. If I play them, I expect the same thing. They are a formidable team.

Q. Are you borrowing in any way from previous Ryder Cups, namely Medinah, where you were very successful, the United States, on the Friday and the Saturday, and also from sort of Paul Azinger's kind of pod system; is there any kind of element of that going on with your preparations at the moment?
TOM WATSON: I think a little bit. You have the same guys playing in the practise rounds together. I mixed it up a little bit today but not a lot. Depending how many holes the guys want to play tomorrow, I'm not sure exactly how I'm going to pair them tomorrow, but I'll get a feel for them after they've finished today and talk to the vice captains and get some feedback there to pair them tomorrow. But pretty much, I'm pairing the same guys together in the practise rounds have them get a feel for each other, each other's golf balls, things like that, for alternate-shot. Paul is doing the same. Paul is doing the same thing.

Q. In 1993, I think you left a note for your players before the final round of singles and I think it said, "What they invented, we perfected." Do you still feel that?
TOM WATSON: Well, that was a motivating thought back then. I'm using different thoughts this time (laughter). No.

Q. Do you still feel that the Americans have perfected the sport?
TOM WATSON: That's a -- no, I'm not going to answer that. We certainly had our run of really good golf, and the run is favouring the Europeans right now with Rory and Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer. There are ebbs and flows to the careers of people and to eras of golfers. Right now it seems -- as we all know when we went into this thing, the first comment was: Well, The European Team is favoured. Well, you've got the names. You've got the guys who have really played some great golf. But that changes on Friday morning when we tee it up. Everybody's the same. That's the way I look at it.

PAUL SYMES: Thanks a lot, Tom, and we'll see you tomorrow.
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