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September 27, 2014

Paul McGinley


STEVE TODD: Paul, thanks for joining us, another strong day for Team Europe. Can you give us your assessment of it?

PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, obviously my assessment is great. I'm a very happy captain obviously, four-point lead going into the singles. Great team performance again. Obviously very strong in the afternoon. Happy. I mean, what can I say? Four-point lead going into the last round is great. But obviously the big word is complacency. The big word is not conceding momentum -- there are two words. And just being on it tomorrow; that's the most important thing. This job is far from finished. We're in great position, but we've got a lot of work to do tomorrow.

STEVE TODD: If you want to talk a little about the orders.

PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, obviously I've gone from what people would consider my strong players at the top, a lot of experience, guys who played well this week, and it's important we don't concede momentum. We also over the years know how much momentum can affect Ryder Cup, and I think with the players that I have in there, that hopefully that won't happen.

Q. We've just had the boys in here, and Graeme spoke about complacency being the buzz word in the team room this week and we asked what they might do tonight to avoid that. Rory said you might have some videos lined up. Can you enlighten us a bit more?
PAUL McGINLEY: Well, everything I've been doing this week as captain has been working towards three or four key messages. Alex Ferguson wasn't just picked out of the blue because I met him by chance or anything like that. He was picked for a reason. He was picked as a guy who I've obviously always respected, we all do as sports people, for what he's achieved. But he was a manager of a very, very successful football team that played at home very well, had a great record at home, were very good playing with the tag of favourites on and the expectation on them. And I knew there was a lot of common themes he could relay to the players. A lot of the images that we have in the room are all on messages, along the same message that I asked Alex to speak about. And a lot of the videos are the same thing. There's a number of words, obviously complacency is one that really comes to fore a lot. Players have mentioned that a couple of times during the week in our meetings and refer back to him, as well, too. We've got a lot of really strong images in our team room, and photos that have messages on the bottom of them and have been kind of doctored in a way to highlight it. One particular one comes to mind is right outside our team room, it's a huge big one, probably two metres by three metres and it's a picture of a European rock in the middle of a raging storm in the ocean. The message underneath is: "We will be the rock when the storm arrives." And the storm arrived this morning. The American Team came at us really strongly this morning, and we did incredibly well to get 1 1/2 points out. Then our wave came again this afternoon came out, fresh guys obviously performed and got the job done, as well, too. There's a lot of things and hopefully a lot of continuity in what the players are seeing this week.

Q. How important was it -- and I know it was only a half a point, but you didn't give them anything in that last game; like Ian Poulter two years ago at Medinah just gave the guys something to hold onto in the locker room and you didn't allow them that today, did you?
PAUL McGINLEY: Absolutely. That half-point was absolutely huge. If we go on to win this Ryder Cup, that to me was a very pivotal moment, but as I say, let's not talk too far forward yet, because we have a big, big job to do tomorrow. That's a strong American Team. It's a strong lineup. Some young blood up the front there and they are going to be hungry to make a reputation for themselves on away soil just like we were in Medinah two years ago. This is far from over.

Q. And the second one is, really strange, just looking at the figures, that you lost the fourballs 5-3, you won the foursomes 7-1. What is it that makes us better than them at foursomes?
PAUL McGINLEY: Well, I don't think it really is to be honest with you. If you look over the record, the last recent Ryder Cups, it's not really black and white where we keep winning foursomes. They have been very strong in foursomes the last few Ryder Cups. This is unusual. This is really unusual. I think we have been very lucky to have some wonderful partnerships. We have a partnership in Jamie and Lee that have been very strong; and Victor and Graeme, and I'm very fortunate as a captain to have two guys in Lee and Graeme to play that senior role. It's a very, very difficult thing to do in a Ryder Cup, and not many players in history have ever done it. Seve comes to mind. I remember Seve playing with David Gilford. Seve looked after José Maria. Very few guys can do that. Golf is very much an individual game and it doesn't breed that kind of personality. We have all seen with Lee Westwood what he's done in the past, with Nicolas Colsaerts in particular, with ten birdies in his first-ever Ryder Cup match two years ago with Lee on his shoulder. It's no coincidence. No coincidence. Lee was very much part of that and one of the reasons he was a pick was for that reason, to play that kind of role. That's what I had in mind for him. He's played that incredibly well. I think this year, at this Ryder Cup, we've seen now Graeme step up to the plate for that reason. I always had in mind that Graeme was going to play No. 1. Since two years ago, I wanted Graeme to play No. 1 if I ever became captain. Never changed my mind and never shared it with anybody. I only shared it to Graeme on Wednesday when I told him what his role was this week, because Graeme was a guy who wanted to play five matches. I told him what I needed him to do. I needed him to play with Victor in one session today because I wanted him fresh to play No. 1 in the singles.

Q. Why No. 1?
PAUL McGINLEY: A number of reasons: Big heart, big player, loves the big occasion. And for me, you need a fighter, a real fighter in that first game. That sets the tone for the day. That's the guy that goes in with the hard tackle, the first hard tackle in a soccer match and poses in the middle of midfield. Graeme is that kind of guy -- Not Roy Keane, not a dirty tackle (laughter).

Q. Would you have thought at the start of the week that you would have a 10-6 lead with Poulter only playing two matches; and secondly, was complacency one of your buzz words at the start of the week, and if it was, has the definition of complacency changed?
PAUL McGINLEY: No, the definition is the same. We all know what the word -- I'm just writing it down so I don't forget the first one. No, the definition has not changed, but complacency is a massive, massive word. You know, we have a very strong team here. We're playing at home. We have won seven of the last nine Ryder Cups. It's easy to be complacent. It's easy to just come off the edge. We have another huge, big graphic; huge, big graphic in our team room: "Passion has determined our past" -- Graeme McDowell holding the scales, and "attitude will determine our future." That's for complacency. I don't think anybody who has ever played for Alex Ferguson can ever accuse him or that's watched him or observed him that any of his teams have ever been complacent. Going back to your first question, regarding Poulter, this is more than a one-man team. Ian Poulter has been a colossus in The Ryder Cup. He played a massive role today, massive role winning that half-point with Rory. What he did those last few holes when we really needed him; when his game wasn't as good as we've seen Ian Poulter in the past; to be able to stand up and do what he did, chip in when he needed to chip in; take the pressure off Rory with the chip on 18 to hit that wedge shot in as close as he did, that's why he's Ian Poulter. Even when he's a little bit off-form, he's able to produce like that. That's why he'll go down in history as one of the greatest-ever Ryder Cup players.

Q. We keep learning more and more about your philosophy and the extent of your organisation, and we keep learning how comprehensive it was and how it was years and years in the making. On the other side, it seems a little bit like there's more reaction and more off-the-cuff thinking. Have you gotten the sense, using the rock metaphor, that you guys are the rock, that everyone has to react to you because of what you've established before the tournament even began?
PAUL McGINLEY: Not necessarily, no. The way we're approaching this Ryder Cup, there was a number of issues that I knew were going to come up. We're playing at home. That was a given. That was a given when I became captain. We've won seven of the last nine. Complacency was going to be a given. Our players are having great success. We won three majors this year, Europeans have. So we're going to be slight favourites. These are all a given before we come in here. When you're a captain, you go in with a plan. You have a skeleton plan. Nothing is written in stone. You don't ever write things in stone and you have to react and if you're not able to react, you've got a problem. And me as captain, what I've done, and what I've been planning all week long is this is why you don't see a lot of me on the golf course. I'm plotting our next move. I'm plotting the afternoon session when the morning session is going on. The players don't need cheerleaders, they don't need to see the captain. Have a vice captain, very strong vice captains with big personalities following each game. They are there for a reason. They are giving me good, honest feedback and I'm plotting the afternoon session. I've been looking at this draw for the after -- once the players were out on the golf course today, I had a skeleton plan for where I wanted to go tomorrow. And my conversations with the vice captains as they went around was punching holes in that: How's your match going; this is where he's playing; this is where he's playing; this is where I have them; what do you think.

Q. Spieth and Reed obviously have played very well for rookies. Tomorrow is a big occasion. Are you surprised that they are so early in that lineup, despite their good form, and do you think it's pretty risky to put a player when we have major-winning talent, veteran talent that could have been in that spot?
PAUL McGINLEY: I'm not going to second-guess Tom Watson. He's a very, very experienced player and I believe a great captain, as well, too, who has seen everything there is to see in professional golf. He's got two players up there who proved that they are ready for Ryder Cups. They have performed admirably this week, both of them. As much as you have experience, it's very good, but form is just as good. Form is huge. And he's got guys up there who have performed very well this week. It's a mixture of both. He's got three young guys going out first three matches. He's going with guys who are out there to try and make a reputation for themselves, playing on away soil, coming back from a deficit of four points down would be a big motivating factor and I'm sure one Tom will be mentioning tonight. It's important that our guys are ready for that, prepared for it. Attitude determines our future.

Q. Could I please ask you quickly about Victor Dubuisson? He's come across as fearsome on the golf course but very humble in the way he speaks. I know you said beforehand, he was the type of person that you would give him his space if he needed it or he may need some different treatment. Has he gelled with the lads? How has he been in the team room? Has he come out of his shell a little bit? Is he still the same? Can you give us an insight to how he's been?
PAUL McGINLEY: He's been an absolute joy to be around, absolute joy. That word humble, as well, is another word we've talked about this week and he has been -- he's just what he is. I just watch him. I learn a lot from watching him, observing him, and what he has to say to me. He's a very intelligent guy, you know. Don't underestimate him. He might look like he's not. He's a very intelligent guy. He looks like he's not really paying attention. He looks like, you think, Oh, Victor didn't notice that. But, no; Victor notices everything. This guy is a very smart guy. He's been an absolute pleasure to be around, and his golf has been sensational. And I think having a guy like Graeme on his shoulder has let him carry on and be Victor without getting in his space, which is very important.

Q. A well-known bookmaker tonight told me tonight he's offering 80 to 1 for the Americans to win. Are they mean odds? Should they be about 500 to 1?
PAUL McGINLEY: No, we've seen it. We only have to look back two years ago what happened on away soil. We were the beaten team the first two days. They were sensational the first two days, the Americans. Davis Love did a fabulous job. We were pulled from pillar to post. Ian Poulter just kept us within it with his finish on the Saturday night. We all see how quickly it can turn around. They have got three guys atop of their order tomorrow, who are full of ambition, full of golf game, full of attitude. They win those three matches, the momentum switches, we have pressure on the rest of us. So we know that. We know how quickly it can turn, and that's what momentum is. Momentum puts pressure on. If they climb back, a large majority of those three -- it will go down at four matches, and win three of the first four points. They have got momentum then coming down. They have some big players down the end, as well, too. As I've said many times, this is a strong American Team. They have got a great mixture in there of a lot of youthfulness, and a bedrock of experience. These are not to be underestimated.

Q. You spoke yesterday and today quite a bit about understanding your team as people and their personalities, not just understanding them as golfers. When you make your decisions about pairings and about the singles lineup tomorrow, what percentage is who they are, the kind of person they are, as opposed to the form they are in or the golfer they are?
PAUL McGINLEY: Huge part.

Q. Like 50/50?
PAUL McGINLEY: I don't want to say a percentage but it's a massive part, massive part. Henrik and Justin's partnership came along because of personality more than golf game. I think Henrik can play with anybody, his golf game is so great. And likewise Justin. But there's a particular reason why they were together. That's just one example. I think it's very important. I think Graeme is a great guy to let Victor be Victor. I think Lee is a great guy to let Jamie be himself. And then other guys need a little cajoling and like to have somebody a little bit spicy on their shoulder. That's a huge part of it, that ability to just gel, that X-factor, that relationship between two guys is important, because all their golf games are so fabulous, really fabulous.

Q. Is that what you've learned over the last 18 months as captain? Was that the key thing, to understand them as men?
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, you've got to blend. Players have got to blend. They have got to be happy on the golf course with their partner. They have to trust them not to judge their partners. All those things, it's part and parcel in it. Personality is a huge thing in any partnership, whether it be business, whether it be golf, whether it be football teams. There has to be an ability to blend when you're on the golf course. Doesn't mean you have to be best buddies off it, but an ability to blend on it and where you are as a person -- listen, I can go on and on. I've got a lot of views on it obviously.

Q. You have exuded tremendous confidence this week. In what ways do you think you've changed since your early captaincy with the Seve Trophy?
PAUL McGINLEY: Me personally, I don't know. That's for other people to say, I don't know. The first Seve captaincy I did went incredibly well. We were massive underdogs, massive underdogs, and we won and we won quite comprehensively. So obviously, you know, a lot of things went right that week. I was very lucky I had a very young Rory McIlroy on that team who was maybe 30th in the Order of Merit that year, in his second year on Tour I think it was, and a Graeme McDowell who was an established Ryder Cup player having played in Valhalla the year before. And they were certainly the bedrock of that team, and I played them in the first game; in three out of the four sessions, when I moved them down to the second game, they lost. I learned a lesson. So I've observed and I've watched and I've been interested. But you know, it's not just golf I'm interested in. I'm interested in sport. I'd like to think I learned a lot from other sports and I have a natural -- I'm very inquisitive. I like it. I enjoy it. I love the to-ing and fro-ing of it. I love the conversation and listening to people and talking about it. Alex Ferguson is a reservoir of information when it comes to things like that. I've had great chats with him over the last 18 months, he's been a big help. So has Jim McGuinness in Donegal and Jim Gavin in Dublin. I ask people. Not afraid to ask them. And learn. Because I can relate to their sports. I understand their sports.

Q. Have you had to lift Stephen Gallacher at all, and what is your thinking about putting him at No. 5?
PAUL McGINLEY: Stephen Gallacher doesn't have to be lifted. He's been absolutely brilliant to work with this week. I've really enjoyed working with him. I had a chat with him this morning. I told them there was only a ten per cent chance he would be out in the afternoon but I told him to get ready, be prepared, gave an example of what happened with me in 2002 under Sam. I had the same chance at ten per cent and at the last minute he made a decision to put me in, and I ended up playing with Darren in the afternoon on Saturday. And just as well, I was prepared. When I finally got the call to go out, I had been practiced that morning, I had played a few holes and got a feel for the golf course and I was ready. And I wanted Stevie to know that. Unfortunately he didn't get out this afternoon but I wanted to get him out early tomorrow. He's a Scottish player. He's playing at home. I wanted to get him out early, get a feel for the crowd, get the crowd on his side. He's drawn one of the greatest players we've seen in recent times in Phil Mickelson. He's going to be very much the underdog in that game tomorrow. He's up against it but he'll relish that. He's playing on a golf course he's played well in the past, and I've had a chat with him and he'll be ready.

Q. This is probably only a one-word answer and I know we're looking ahead, but when the pairings went up at lunchtime, were you taken aback that Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley were not involved?
PAUL McGINLEY: It's not a one-word answer. I can honestly say that, I'm not being flippant about this, I didn't really look at who they were playing to be honest. I knew this was a strong American Team. I knew he was going to make decisions and he was going to, I was prepared for my -- my house was in order. When the draw goes up and the guys hit off the tee shot, like I get them to -- I'm always on the tee when they hit their first tee shot. Once they go out of sight, I'm plotting my next move in the afternoon, or what I was doing this morning, and I was kind of -- whatever was happening, was happening. I was getting updates on the matches but I was plotting what were we going to do with our rotas. That's what I always believe: As a captain, you have to be half a day ahead of everybody else. You're observing, you're watching, you're getting feedback from your vice captains to help you make decisions going forward. That's what my communication is about. It's not really about the matches. Of course I'm interested in the matches; are we up, are we down, or where we're at, of course, but I'm half a day ahead.

Q. So you weren't taken aback --
PAUL McGINLEY: I didn't look. It's like the golfer who is trying to shoot a number rather -- you look at numbers rather than personalities. I'm very much looking at -- I wasn't taken aback, no. I wasn't taken aback.

STEVE TODD: Thank you for your time. We wish you well tomorrow.
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