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September 27, 2014

Tom Watson


TOM WATSON: Well, in the infamous words of our President, we got shellacked this afternoon. Again, there was some ebb and flow, it ebbed too much in the afternoon. We had a good start to the morning. We got one of the points back, and again, it was another one of those miraculous shots by Ian Poulter that kind of sealed it just a little bit against us. It was a good morning. The afternoon, we didn't play well, and we had players that didn't quite get it done. European players, they played some very good golf. I actually just followed the last group, and of course that got off to a bad start and got worse. But it may have been a mistake that I put Jimmy and Rickie out four matches. I thought they could handle it. I think Jimmy got a little bit tired. Rickie didn't seem like he got tired. But this is kind of a marathon when you have to put them out four matches in a row, 36 holes, two days in a row, with all the pressure and all that. That was my calculated decision, because I thought they were playing very well. The one very bright spot for our team was the play of Patrick Reed and Jordan Spieth, was very, very bright. The rookies certainly -- I think it was a good decision, basically, to sit them yesterday because now I look at four rounds of maybe it was a little too tough on the players. But with Jordan and Patrick, it was -- I love to see their fire, what they had out there. They got it done and couldn't be more proud. That's not to say I'm not proud of the rest of the team. The rest of the team, they fought their guts out. They just didn't live up to the standards that the Europeans did this afternoon. They did it yesterday afternoon to us and they did it again this afternoon. It's disappointing, but when all is said and done, it's 10-6, and as I recall, there's been a little bit of history with 10-6 comebacks, most recently the Europeans last year and of course in 1999 at Brookline. The players are already talking about that. They said that this is what we're going to have to do. Every player right here is going to have to play their guts out, play their hearts out. We are going to have to get off to a good start. It looks like -- well, I know that Paul's put out some pretty heavy hitters right off of the bat there with McDowell, Stenson, McIlroy and Rose right in the first four. I felt he was going to do that, so I think it was time to give the rookies a chance to see what they have got. I put them out first and second. I think if they can turn the tide right there, it would give us a boost that the rest of the team can handle. I think the lineup here, I think it's good. I think it's very good. I don't see -- it's hard to tell if there are mismatches there. But on the face of it, you look at our rookies, Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed playing Graeme McDowell and Henrik Stenson, they played against them. Then Jimmy Walker playing Lee Westwood. The rookies are the bright spot. The team, there's kind of an evolution going on I think. As I told the rookies, you could be the future soul of The Ryder Cup, these players who played so well. Jimmy Walker not so well this afternoon, but he played awfully well; and Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed.

Q. Given that it is a marathon, you had two bodies that were fairly fresh in the afternoon in Keegan and Phil, and I know that Phil maybe is not the future but for the here and now, he could have been a good alternative. Could you just explain why he sat all day?
TOM WATSON: Well, I think the main reason there was, first of all, I played him two rounds yesterday and he was tired last night. I sat at the table with him. He was exhausted. And maybe that was the wrong choice for me playing him two rounds. But he wanted to play in the alternate-shot, and I had to give him his due. He says, "I've got a good record in the alternate-shot." Today I came back up to the clubhouse and talked to him and Keegan and Webb, and said they would be sitting in the afternoon, as well. I tell you, I expected exactly what Phil said to me. He said, "We can get it done, Captain. We want the chance." I said, "Well, I think the way this golf course sets up, the four teams I put out there gives us the best chance." He lobbied again. He texted me, he said, "Give us a chance." I had to tell him no. I felt that we had the four best teams possible in the afternoon for alternate-shot. And again, we can talk about decisions on teams all you want. It's the players that perform are the people that you have to talk about; who performed the best. I have to give credit to the Europeans in the afternoons, yesterday afternoon and this afternoon, they performed the best. And yes, you might think that it's a given that the Europeans are going to win, but I sure as hell don't.

Q. The fact you've put out your two bright spots, that you're calling them, your two rookies tomorrow morning; is that an indication that for whatever reason, you don't trust your experienced guys to get the job done at the top of the order?
TOM WATSON: No. I did it strictly on their play. Look how they played. They won 2 1/2 points, and it could have been three points, all three matches. You've got to go out -- I knew that Paul was going to do the same thing. He's going to put out his best players first. And that's typical of what happens from the European captain in The Ryder Cup, they put the stronger players out first. I think we have got a good lineup starting right there.

Q. Before this week, people might have looked askance at you partnering Jordan Spieth and young Reed. What was it that made you think that they could in the heat of this battle come through? And Jordan just now said it was like the last nine holes of a major, only every time he went out there. So what was it you in your thinking that, yeah, these two could do it together?
TOM WATSON: Because I like their attitudes. Bottom line, their attitudes. They have a great attitude, both of them. They are tough. They are fiery. I like the look in their eyes. There is no deer in the headlights in their eyes.

Q. The last three Ryder Cups for America, we write, we hear people talk about, Americans aren't close enough; there's not enough inspiration. Certainly, Davis Love was a different approach than you, and Corey Pavin, yet nothing seems to work. Is it just the players, and are they -- they just don't play team golf? When I say team golf, under the whole format of The Ryder Cup, play well.
TOM WATSON: Well, you have to give credit to the play. Do we play well enough to win; and obviously we haven't in the last two Ryder Cups. It's up to the players. It's up for the actors to go out there and act. They haven't acted well enough to get that standing ovation at the end in the last two Ryder Cups. That's the way I look at it.

Q. Curious, was there any thought given to playing Keegan this afternoon with somebody who was not Phil, like a Bubba or somebody like that? And the second part, what was Keegan's reaction when you told him that he wouldn't be playing?
TOM WATSON: Well, both reactions were what you would expect. They were disappointed. And I said, I'm trying to make the best decisions possible in the afternoon with the lineup that's going to be the best for our team to win points. They were disappointed. They wanted to play. I like that in a player. I like the push-back that I got from them. You know, you can question my decisions on that. That's fine. But I was making -- I get back to the point, I made the best decisions I possibly could at the time I was making the decisions with the help of my vice captains and my guts. That's what they brought me in as the captain for, to try to make those best decisions. In the afternoons the last two days, I don't know if you can question my decisions, but the play was not up to standard for our team.

Q. Ben Crenshaw famously said at Brookline that he had a good feeling about this. Do you have a similar good feeling about tomorrow?
TOM WATSON: (Chuckles). I have a trust in my players that they can get it done. I have an innate trust. I've gotten to really know them, and they have what it takes. They are just going to have to play better. They know that. They know absolutely what they have to do. We've got to smoke 'em. We've to take them out early. That's the whole point of the way we set this up. I think you've got to give -- I have to give credit to the European Team. They played some marvelous golf. I watched Victor Dubuisson play some just wonderful golf today, and congratulated G-Mac on the 14th hole when they won their match 5&4. I said, "Congratulations." He said, "I didn't do anything." That's what you have, when you have a great partner like that. I remember partnering with Jack one time. I didn't play very well, drove the ball in the rough five times in the heather and every time Jack extricated it out of the rough. This was at Walton Heath. Put it on the green four out of five times from the heather. I said, "Wow." We won pretty easily there, but it wasn't because of me. That's why it's team golf here. Tomorrow is individual. Let's see what these people, what everybody has inside their heart.

Q. You told us on Friday that Phil managed to persuade you to play him in the foursomes. It sounded liked today he tried even harder to persuade you to play him. What changed in 24 hours that he couldn't persuade you to play him?
TOM WATSON: No, he couldn't. That's exactly what happened. Was there a question there?

Q. Just that he managed to persuade you yesterday to play him, but he tried even harder today to persuade you to play him, and the answer was no today, yet it was yes yesterday?
TOM WATSON: He didn't play very well yesterday. I mentioned that and I told him that. I said, "You struggled yesterday." And whether that was from being tired or the course not being set up exactly for his type of game; I had to make that decision.

Q. You talked about fiery individuals in Jordan and Patrick. Do you have enough fiery individuals on this team to win?
TOM WATSON: Yes. Not a question. Not a question, looking down there. You know, in the team room, there is -- I have to say in the team room, there is a wonderful -- not wonderful, it's a special feeling that the players have for each other. What they exude is the belief that they can do this. I know that. I see it. I get that feeling from them. That's all I've asked of them is that they have the belief in themselves, because I sure as hell believe in them.

Q. The second thing is, you talked about how we could second guess you on the foursomes selections, pairings on Friday and Saturday. Do you second guess yourself on those?
TOM WATSON: Well, as I said, maybe I didn't know -- Jimmy got a little bit tired today, and Phil got a little tired yesterday. And maybe it was not the right decision to play Phil two days or Jimmy four days -- or two rounds in a row or Jimmy four rounds in a row. Rickie was still going strong. Jimmy tired out a little bit. And you know, if I had to second guess myself, I think it was based on just that, a couple players getting tired. Might have done it differently if I knew they were going to be that way. I didn't know they were going to be that way.

Q. I think it's absolutely fantastic you talk about your young guys as the future of The Ryder Cup and they have played great. What do you think about Paul McGinley putting out Victor Dubuisson who has otherwise been completely faultless in a game that could essentially be redundant, out last?
TOM WATSON: I think that's one of the key positions, and it may be the key position there, because when we run the tables tomorrow, Victor may have to prove -- get the winning point. That last spot is really important.

Q. Do you think somebody who --
TOM WATSON: So you don't think we're going to run the tables tomorrow, do you? See, that's what I have to do as captain, I have to put somebody in the last spot. I put Zach Johnson in there. You don't think he's tough?

Q. Absolutely, but we have a four-point lead, this is a guy that's playing at the top of his game, we could put this to bed very quickly. Do you not think he's missed a trick by putting one of his strongest players out early to get a point in the bag?
TOM WATSON: Well, that's up to Paul. But I like a strong guy at the end and this guy has certainly proved he was very strong. That's what I was saying about G-Mac, G-Mac said it was easy out there being his partner.

Q. Do you think he deserves a chance like the one you've given your young guys, Victor Dubuisson? Do you think he deserves a chance like the one you're giving to your young stars?
TOM WATSON: It's not my decision.

Q. This time yesterday, you looked a bit bruised and said it was time for an early night. What's tonight's plan?
TOM WATSON: Well, tonight's plan, everybody's going to get together in the team room and we're going to, including the caddies and their wives, we're going to have a big get-together in the team room and we're going to feed off each other. We're going to have -- we'll just see what happens. We'll see what transpires. I have a few words I want to say to them. But we had seven guys go 36 today. They are going to be pretty bushed. They want to get some sleep. I'm going to tell them to get some sleep because we have to go and run the tables tomorrow.

Q. Looking at the score-line now, do you regret not playing Phil today?

Q. Did you expect your second captaincy to be so stressful?
TOM WATSON: Well, the first one was just as stressful. It was very stressful.

Q. It was less media --
TOM WATSON: No, the media and all this is different. Actually I've enjoyed the ride of that. The stress of The Ryder Cup is to get -- making your decisions on the fly when the players are playing, and to have a good game plan going into it. As I said, we had a game plan going into the initial matches, and it changed somewhat. It didn't change a whole lot, really, a few players here and there were changed. But we basically had this game plan kind of from the beginning. The stress of it is to try to get the best pairings that you possibly can in on time. I think that's the most stressful part of this. So it's a tough week. We have 12 hours of daylight here, right at 12 I think right now. And to fit everything in, 36 holes, all the media, all the interviews and things like that, it wears you down. I've been tired a couple times. I'm not really tired right now. In fact, I'm a lot more pumped up right now than I was last night. I was disappointed last night. But tonight, I'm more pumped up. I believe that these players, what I've seen of them, talked with them in the locker room already, I like what I see. It pumps me up. Got another day to see what happens. These guys, they are ready to go and make it work tomorrow.

Q. I was just curious, when you were asked if you didn't regret sending Phil out, why you didn't regret it. And I wanted to ask if you gave any consideration on Rickie and Jimmy, the fact that all three of their matches had gone 18 holes; and thirdly, if you regret anything at all.
TOM WATSON: Well, you know, when I look back on it, maybe playing the players too much would be one regret. They got a little tired. And that certainly is something that I thought they could handle, and maybe I regret not understanding that they couldn't handle it.

STEVE TODD: Tom, thanks for your time
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