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September 28, 2004

Paul McGinley


RODDY WILLIAMS: Paul, thank you very much for coming and joining us today.

PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, sure.

RODDY WILLIAMS: Start us off with some opening comments about what it's like to be here at Mount Juliet, your thoughts for the week ahead, and what you've been up to for the last week or so.

PAUL McGINLEY: It's been great. It's great coming back to here. It's a great venue when we had the Irish Open here. I didn't qualify the last time it was here, which was a week before the Ryder Cup, so this is my first time playing a world event here. I'm looking forward to it. It's a wonderful golf course, great condition, a wonderful place to stage an event, and most important of all, it's in Ireland.

Last week has been a great week for me. I've had a really quiet week. I've ducked under the radar to a large extent compared to the last time. A lot of the media attention went to the Heritage and the guys playing like Monty, and it's been nice to have a week at home where I haven't been too much bothered, and it's been really nice. I'm rearing to go again.

Q. What sort of reception do you think you guys are going to get here this week, particularly the three Irish Ryder Cup lads and the European Ryder Cup team?

PAUL McGINLEY: Huge. It's the same as it was the last time. It's exactly the same feeling that I got the last time, which is when people see me, they're so happy for me because I was part of the team, but also happy for themselves because they are Irish or European and they feel we've done them proud and represented them, and that's really nice. It's the happiness for themselves, as well as for us, that they were all part of the winning team. That's what makes the Ryder Cup so special. Everybody has got that passion to do well, and that's what makes it a special event.

Q. It's a week to keep the adrenaline rush going. You say you've ducked under the radar, but -- (inaudible).

PAUL McGINLEY: Very much so. The end of the day, I learned a little bit from the last time, too. The Ryder Cup was wonderful. It's a great event. I'm so happy I was part of it. It'll be memories that will live with me forever, but it's also important now to draw a line under it, shelf it and move on with my career. I have to improve my World Ranking. I'm mid-60s in the World Rankings, which I'd like to improve. I've had a good two, three months to qualify for it and I'd like to keep playing well, keep the momentum going.

Q. You haven't played the course today?

PAUL McGINLEY: I just arrived. We did a corporate day for Taylor Made, so I've just arrived. I hear it's in great condition, like it always is. I know the course, obviously I've played it a lot.

Q. Was it almost impossible to draw a line after the Belfry?

PAUL McGINLEY: I think to a large extent it was because of what happened, my holing to win a putt. A large part of that is inexperience. I had never been on the world stage to that extent before. As much as I tried to draw a line under it, it was difficult. Everybody wanted to talk about it, and that's fine. It comes with experience. You move on. There's different things that go on, and I think it's important for me that I finish the Tour strong this season, have a strong finish to the season and move on, use it as a steppingstone to keep going forward.

Q. You don't want to be remembered just for holing one Ryder Cup putt? What did you want to be remembered for before now?

PAUL McGINLEY: Fortunately I've been on two teams and won both. I think it was so important for my career that I made that second Ryder Cup team, the fact that -- to draw a line under the first one. Yes, it was a great experience, the first one. It was magnificent to hole the winning putt, but in terms of my career, I think it was important that I made the second team and wasn't just the one guy who came in, did his bit and then sort of faded away.

That's why it meant so much to me to make the second team more than anything. I wanted to be part of that camaraderie, that spirit. The four of us did a question-and-answer thing; me, Howell, Darren and Sergio, and the bond, you could feel the electricity between the four of us on stage. That's the kind of bond that you develop with people over the Ryder Cup and that's what makes it so special for me particularly.

Q. Do you believe you're playing the best golf that you've ever played now?

PAUL McGINLEY: I think the results show it. I've said before, this Ryder Cup team was the hardest Ryder Cup team to have made in Europe. We had a strong team. I think that to make that, everybody, everybody will have to have played wonderful golf to have made it. I think the results show that, yes, I'm playing the best golf.

The last time I was in sort of 8th position going into the last two or three tournaments and didn't do a whole lot, but nobody passed me, whereas this time everybody was trying to pass me and I was able to hold off the challenge and keep going forward and make the team. I think this was the toughest team to have made, and the way we played in Detroit proved it because we had so much good players. I just met Alex Cejka there and he was so happy and congratulating me and he would have loved to have been on the team. I said, look, if you would have been picked there would have been no complaints.

Bernhard had four or five guys he could have picked, all which would have been great choices. The decision the committee made at the start of the year that the players have to be members of the Tour to make the team has been the right decision. We've had Luke playing well, and Alex did his best to make the team.

Q. (Inaudible).

PAUL McGINLEY: I do actually feel I have more. I feel I've been unlucky, too. I've been 2nd three times this year. I've played well all three times. David Lynn played the golf of his life to win in Holland, and I played fantastic, too. Mark O'Meara played well in Dubai, and I went head to head with Goosen at the end of last year. He had that couple-shot advantage on me going into the last round and was able to maintain it.

It's difficult to win. You've got to really play fantastically to win now. You've got to do something special nowadays to win.

I haven't done it. Yes, it does disturb me that I've only won three times. I feel I'd like to certainly add to my tournament wins.

Q. Does the Ryder Cup mark a watershed for that, give you more confidence about winning tournaments?

PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, I think, as I say, the fact that I've made two Ryder Cups is a reflection of the way I've played over a long period of time and not over a short window where I made one team and then sort of faded. Yeah, the way I performed in this Ryder Cup, too, I feel I performed better in this Ryder Cup than I did in the last one. I was comfortable in the environment. The pressure felt exactly the same in terms of pressure, but I've moved on a little bit and I was able to handle things in the right way.

Q. How did you spend the week between returning from the States and getting to here? And tell us about the celebrations while you're at it.

PAUL McGINLEY: The first day was the case of sobering up. Everybody had a rough night -- well, it wasn't a rough night. It was just a wonderful night the first night. We were all a little bit worse for the wear when we got on the flight, but it was great. We all joined together. Everybody had a ball. We actually ate dinner together that night, which is nice. It wasn't the case of everybody going off and getting drunk. We had a couple of beers, had dinner, and then a couple of guys went to the Irish bar, I think most of us. A couple of guys did their own thing in the team room. As I say, it was that camaraderie, that spirit. We didn't need anybody else. We were so happy in our own environment, and then when we went to the Irish bar all the fans were there and they went crazy and that was wonderful, too.

The big celebration in the Belfry was the time we spent in the bar at the Belfry, and that was just amazing. If I have one regret from the Belfry it's that it wasn't filmed. I'd love to have it again.

Lee Westwood was just hilarious. We had some pictures this time, so I'm looking forward to seeing those. You want to keep the memories. You play hard, you party hard. Darren is the best example of that. Darren had such a big role to play in the team this year, a lot of responsibility on the shoulders. He played fantastically well and then he blew out. He had a blowout. There was so much inside of him he needed to get it out of his system, and he certainly did.

That's what the Ryder Cup should be about. It should be about that build-up. Darren had such a big role to play, and when it was all over, it was just a release, and I think everybody felt the same way. It was memorable, and as I say, it was the bonding you had with the players. That's what makes it special for me.

Q. Was it easy to come down after it all?

PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, a lot of it was easy because I didn't have such a lot to do. I stayed home with the kids and we had a nice normal week. I walked the dog, did a bit of gym work, hardly played golf at all, and it was nice to have a nice -- still be part of it, but come down slowly off of it. I would come over early because I did that company day with Taylor Made on Monday and I came out on Monday, so it was nice to get back into the Irish culture.

Q. Was it easy to walk the dog or were people stopping you every two minutes?

PAUL McGINLEY: No, they weren't stopping me, but there was a lot of second glances when I was walking by, but that was okay. If people want to talk about it, I'm happy to talk about it. Everybody was so happy for the Ryder Cup, and I'm happy to share with anybody. I'll never turn my back on anybody. I want them to be part of the success, too, and I think they feel that. That's what's important about the Ryder Cup. We have the bonding that went into the team, but there's also the fans and supporters and the people at home. That's what makes it so special.

Q. Was there a moment when you felt sorry for the Americans?

PAUL McGINLEY: Not particularly the Americans, but I do feel sorry for Hal Sutton. I mean, I haven't talked about the players too much, but I do feel sorry for Hal Sutton, because to me the role of captain in a Ryder Cup is twofold, and one is equally as important as the other. One is to win the Ryder Cup and have the right strategy and do your best to win it, but second is the ambassador role, which I thought he played superbly well.

A lot of time for Hal Sutton now having gone through the week with him, the way he was in the press, because we watched the press conferences in the team room, the way he was grilled, the way he took it on the chin, but the ambassador role which he played, which I think is equally important, he played magnificently well. I mean to give you an example.

We were all worse for wear all coming down 4:30 in the morning. We hadn't slept at all before getting on the team coach for the airport. As I say, all the worse for the wear, and Hal and his wife had gotten out of bed, come down to the foyer and shook everybody's hand before we got on the bus. That to me is what the Ryder Cup is about. He got a lot of stick in the press room because he lost, and the strategy and so forth.

But to me the role is twofold, but he played the ambassador role and he deserves credit for that. That's going to be a big factor in my mind in the next cup. Bernhard played it absolutely magnificently. Win, lose or draw he was always going to do that, because he's not just representing the players. And it's important, we're all competitive, we want to win the Ryder Cup, but they're also representing the European Tour, all you guys, all the press, every one of the Tour sponsors, the hierarchy of the Tour, Ken Schofield and George O'Grady. So much has been represented and heaped on the captain's shoulders for that week and it's important it's carried off in the right way, and all credit to Hal Sutton.

Q. Did you think his strategy could have worked?

PAUL McGINLEY: Of course it could have worked, yeah. It could have ignited. It could have been massive. To me there was two huge points in the Ryder Cup, two massive points, because the Ryder Cup is all about momentum. The first one was Padraig and Monty the first day, winning that first one. It set the scene for us. It crushed their top team, it sent a message down. As I said, in the press conference, it was a chill coming down through the team, you could feel it, that they were taking out Tiger and Phil. That was a huge point. It set the momentum, set the team up for the week.

The second one was the second morning. I wasn't playing, I was out watching a bit and also preparing for playing in the afternoon, and looking at the score boards. I went and played four holes, and it looked like we were going to lose 4-nil so it was back to square one. All of a sudden we managed to get it back.

Howell and Casey, I was in the room when Paul rolled that putt, and the roar from the players and the relief from the players that we hadn't lost the momentum, that we were able to move on, and we just took off. Darren and Lee went down in the first game in the afternoon of the second day, then just 1 up, 2 up, 3 up, 4 up, game over, then the whole team was off and running again. Those two things were huge in terms of winning the Ryder Cup.

Q. On the captaincy, you've played under a Scotsman and a German. Would you like to play under a Irishman?

PAUL McGINLEY: Absolutely. My first choice is always going to be an Irishman. But I'm a realist, and we have major champions all lined up chomping at the bit lined up to be captains. Tony Jacklin and Bernard Gallagher had three or four goes at being captains because there wasn't anybody waiting in the wings. I think Des Christy or Eamonn would be brilliant captains. But I'll be very disappointed if they don't have some role in the team.

Q. Would you feel that to be a big enough contribution to have made to the Ryder Cup team?

PAUL McGINLEY: I dearly would love an Irish captain. I certainly would love an Irish captain. I'm a realist and I understand that the guys sitting in the wings chomping at the bit to be captain are heavyweights, and it's just unfortunate timing for the lads. You never know what's around the corner. You never know.

Q. Do you genuinely think it could happen?

PAUL McGINLEY: An Irish captain?

Q. Yeah.

PAUL McGINLEY: I think it's an outside chance, a very slim chance, but you never know.

Q. You've got a vote.

PAUL McGINLEY: I've got some ideas, but I'm looking forward to sitting down with the committee and listening to all the cases put forward and having an open discussion about who's going to be captain. I know there's three or four guys waiting particularly, and maybe Bernhard might go again. He hasn't decided yet. I know the next question is going to be who do I think should be captain. I'll preempt that by saying Monty, Faldo and Woozy are going to be the next three captains. What role do they come, I don't know, but you can pretty much assure that those next three are going to be captains if Bernhard doesn't go. If Bernhard goes again, you put him back into the equation.

It'll be decided by the end of the year. I think it's important that we decide by the end of the year and get the captain into his position early.

Q. Why is that important?

PAUL McGINLEY: I think it's important that the players know. There's none of this, who's going to be captain, all these things in the air that deflects away from making the team. Players need to set their schedules for next year. They want to play a bit more at the end of the year once the Ryder Cup stuff starts. I think it's clear, this is our captain, this is our destination, this is where it's going to happen, The K Club, this is going to be the captain, now go qualify.

Q. You didn't have that with Langer? He was only appointed a couple weeks before qualifying started.

PAUL McGINLEY: Is that right? I don't think that was a good thing personally. You have a different scenario there because you had Woozy and you had Faldo and you had Langer, and all three of them were at a stage in their career where they could have made the team. You had to wait until the last minute to see how their form was. This time I think they're far enough removed from making the team that you can make a decision earlier.

Q. Except for Monty.

PAUL McGINLEY: Except for Monty. Langer has gone public and said -- a lot of the players are going to say no way. My instinct is he's still such an important player on the team. The best credit and gift to him, if it was a football team, he would be the captain. He's that kind of influence. He's huge. If he doesn't make the team next time, he's going to have a very, very strong case for a pick again. I don't know, I personally think he's probably a little bit young. He's still only a pup. Jay Haas is 50.

Q. Could you talk the pros and cons of having Langer again?

PAUL McGINLEY: Well, I think the pros are quite obvious. The two hats that I think you have to play, which I've discussed earlier, strategy and ambassador, he played perfectly in Detroit, and he will do the same and represent the European Tour and everybody and Ireland very well. He's a former Irish Open champion, which is important. He's got affinity with the Irish people and he's a European Open champion, and he has obviously proved to be a great captain with the winning score that we had.

The cons is you've got guys waiting in the wings chomping at the bit. It comes around every two years. It's not like you can give him the following year. You've got to wait two years. The cons would be the guys waiting in the wings. Bernhard will make his own decision and we'll wait for that decision.

Q. Who was it who said that it should only be done one year at a time?

PAUL McGINLEY: I don't know.

Q. Was it Schofield?

PAUL McGINLEY: I don't know. I haven't heard.

Q. Do you foresee it down the line?

PAUL McGINLEY: I'd love to be captain some day. I think everybody who's played in it would love to be captain. It's a great honor, a wonderful honor. Who knows, down the road, we'll see. I'm a long way away from that yet. I haven't really thought about it to be honest. You never know some day.

Q. In terms of winning, does it really matter to the players who is captain? How much of an influence does the captain have?

PAUL McGINLEY: That's a good question. There's no doubt about it, the captain -- two the captains I've been under have been two very strong personalities. I think that's important. The guys we've discussed who could be captains the next time are also strong personalities. I think that's the first criteria.

It's very important for the Tour to keep winning. It's important for the sponsors, important for the good will on the Tour, it's important -- maybe one of the outcomes that I'd like to see come out of it the way we beat the Americans was the World Rankings, and Hal Sutton made a big deal at his press conference afterwards. The reason they were made such heavy favorites compared to us was based on World Rankings. Sergio made a remark that was a bit flippant, but Sergio said if you want to be No. 1 in the world, you've got to win 20 times in Europe to be No. 1.

I finished 30th on the Order of Merit and I was 155th in the world and those two don't equate. I didn't have a wonderful year but I didn't have a disastrous year. I think that has to be addressed a little bit. I think we've got to get a little bit of credit for what we've done as a Ryder Cup team. We've won four of the last five, and I think it's time that the world body starts saying this European Tour is a lot stronger than we're giving it credit for, and give us a little bit more credit for what we've done and a little bit more reward in terms of World Ranking points. The best example I can give is what I said.

Q. You're saying the players versus the captain, the players have to --

PAUL McGINLEY: The players have to go out and play. The bottom line is we had a really strong team this year. I've described it before, it's like Man United going to a European Cup final and Alex Ferguson has got every single player on form with no injuries. Now he's got four brilliant center forwards and I know whatever two out of the four he chooses are going to be great.

That's an ideal situation for a coach, and Bernhard Langer had that situation. Sam had eight guys playing well, four guys right off form, and now he was trying to build up the egos of the guys not playing, try to get them in the game before Sunday. He had a lot more balls in the air to juggle than Bernhard did. I'm not playing one captain against the other, but it was a different role a captain had to play compared to the previous one, and both have played very successfully.

You asked me the question how important is a captain. The best way I can describe it is to give you those two examples. We had two captains and different balls that they had to play with and balls that were played really well, so a captain's role is huge.

Q. Your own expectations this week, in what sort of frame of mind are you going into it?

PAUL McGINLEY: As I said, I've had a great week off, which is important. I've rearing to go, playing in front of an Irish crowd, which is great. It hurt not playing here the last time when it was a week before the Ryder Cup. I've qualified this time and I'm looking forward to a good week and competing and getting out there and hitting balls now. My caddie is waiting for me.

Q. The European golfers have not done well in World Championships lately. Any explanation for that?

PAUL McGINLEY: I think it's a matter of time. We have a very, very young Ryder Cup team. I think it's just a matter of time. People used to ask me the same question, why have we not had an Irish winner. A matter of time. Darren has won, Padraig has nearly won. It comes in spurts, and I think we had a stage where we were winning all the major championships and we didn't have the strength and depth in the European Tour. Now it's flipped. We have the strength and depth in the European Tour and we don't have the major championships. Can any of you not bet against Sergio not winning a major? I certainly wouldn't, just to give you one example.

It's a matter of time before the ball starts rolling. If one European wins, you'll get two and three winning right behind. Sandy opened the floodgates and then everybody started winning. Sandy, two or three major championships, he's got a corner to fight, too.

RODDY WILLIAMS: Paul, thanks very much for your time.

End of FastScripts.

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