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September 23, 2002

Paul McGinley


GORDON SIMPSON: Okay, Paul, you come in here in a very similar position to Phillip Price, because you're a rookie, and you've had to wait a long time. How does it feel now that all the teams are assembling.

PAUL McGINLEY: I'm looking forward to getting started. It's been a long wait. It's a unique situation, first time it's ever happened that -- obviously because of September 11. The first time it's ever happened where you've got -- normally you've got 12 guys making the team, all in form, and a month later you've got the Ryder Cup. This year you have a unique situation, where you have 12 guys making the team, wait 12 months, and then you have the Ryder Cup. Everybody's form is going to go up-and-down over the period of time. I think I've suffered a little bit from that.

GORDON SIMPSON: Of course on the first day of the Ryder Cup, you came and played the Belfry.

PAUL McGINLEY: I came on the Friday.

GORDON SIMPSON: What was your reasoning behind that?

PAUL McGINLEY: My reasoning was when we played here in May it's the start of the season, not a lot of growth. The grass hasn't really knitted together. And I wanted to see what it was like at the end of a growth, a year of growth, the trees obviously are quite different, too. It's quite different when you look at a golf course with trees that are blooming as opposed to trees that are scrawny and scraggly looking. I wanted to see what it was like. I learned a huge amount. As opposed to being hard and bony and scraggly in May without the growth, it was quite the opposite when we came here, this time last year, which was quite lush and green. It was quite a contrast, and I'm glad I did it.

Q. How much has the Ryder Cup played on your mind during the course of this year?

PAUL McGINLEY: I'm sure it has played -- I've had quite a poor season for me. It's been a disappointing season, no doubt about it. And, yeah, it has played on my mind, particularly when I'm not playing well. I've got the Ryder Cup in two or three or four months time, or whatever the case may be. And having said that -- I'm in a situation where I've made the team, and I feel I deserved to have made the team, I made it quite comfortably when I made it. I deserve to be here. In the last four or five weeks I've played quite reasonably; I haven't produced the scores, but hit the ball better. I'm really looking forward to being in this situation of being in a team event. I've always enjoyed team events.

Q. Have the nerves kicked in yet?

PAUL McGINLEY: Not really yet, but I'm sure they will very soon. It's a massive event. In my opinion, next to the World Cup and Olympics, this is probably the biggest sporting event in the world. It's a massive stage. And it's great to be here. But the important thing is now that I've achieved here, the important thing is to go and play well. I want more than just to be here; I want to go and compete and be part of the game.

Q. Thomas Bjorn said the general advice to the rookies on day one is bring your bicycle clips. Have you thought about what it's going to be like?

PAUL McGINLEY: Everybody has told me that. Everybody has had the same advice. So it will be interesting to experience that. That's part of what I'm looking forward to this week, is how daunting it is. Everybody has said how nerve-wracking it is. I'm looking forward to experiencing that. And I can't give you an answer until I've experienced it. This time next week Monday morning I'll say, yes, it was or it wasn't quite. But everybody has told me the same thing.

Q. Is it something you're looking forward to the challenge of overcoming those nerves?

PAUL McGINLEY: I'm looking forward to being in that situation to see how I react.

Q. Paul, how big a disadvantage will it be to you not to have been able to play at Mount Juliet last week?

PAUL McGINLEY: Well, as I say, what can I do? The qualification system was there for me to be there and I didn't fulfill it and I didn't make it. So I'm disappointed not to have played, because from a competitive point of view, four rounds of competitive golf would have been good for me, from my own point of view. Particularly being in Ireland and me being Irish, which was disappointing for me not to be there. It will be interesting to see. I could have done with four more rounds under my belt. In my opinion, I think it's an opportunity missed by the sponsor, by everybody. You press people would love the two teams being there, comparing who was playing well and who wasn't. I would love to have two Ryder Cup teams going there, as a separate story, particularly when we qualified for the team last year, and we were all in St. Louis, and obviously September 11th happened and we came home. I think it's an opportunity missed, from the sponsor's point of view, from the world championship point of view, but from my point of view I would like to play four more rounds.

Q. What did you do instead?

PAUL McGINLEY: I spent six hours in front of the TV, watched the minor game, watched the senior game, and got so excited watching Armagh win. Yesterday was our Gallic football final. Kerry won it 32 times before. It was like Leicester City beating Man United, having been equivalent to two or three down, they ended up winning. It was great excitement. That's what I did all day yesterday. Yesterday was -- I hit a few balls after it, but it was the only day where I didn't practice hard.

Q. Could you just compare maybe the pressures of qualifying for the Ryder Cup last year and holding yourself together to do that and the pressures this year which you've had coming up to the Ryder Cup?

PAUL McGINLEY: It's been a completely different pressure. Last year I'm under pressure to make the team, and I'm playing well. And that's a great pressure, when you're there and ready to compete and your game is there, and it's a matter of getting your mind right in focus and playing well and really feel you're under control of what you're doing. That's a great pressure, as opposed to the pressure of not being in control of what you're doing. The game becoming very difficult, not playing well, the big events coming along one after another, and you're not there to compete. That's a negative pressure, it's a horrible pressure. Unfortunately the nature of golf is, that's what happens sometimes. You have peaks and you have troughs.

It hasn't been a good summer, I haven't enjoyed it. It's no fun when you're not playing well. But as I say, the last four or five weeks I feel I've shown a lot of -- hitting the ball a hell of a lot better than I have been during the summer, and I feel like I'm starting to compete again. I'm aware of the cycles of golf. If you take the Ryder Cup team in any previous times, and you look at that team 12 months later, you will find guys playing better, guys playing the same, guys playing worse, no matter what team it is. It's been highlighted this year, because of the delay in the Ryder Cup. I'm very much aware that I've been through a trough, but I feel I'm going out the other side.

Q. Does it have to do with changing coaches?

PAUL McGINLEY: I worked with Bob Torrance five years previously and Peter Cowen, I had a huge success with Peter Cowen, he helped me normal unfortunately with my short game. But I got out of shape a little bit. And I was working hard on my game, practicing, and trying to get it around. And it wasn't coming around. And I felt that, "Pete, I need a second opinion on what I'm doing." And he was quite open about that. And I certainly haven't shut the door on Pete in any way. I'm very grateful for what he's given me. But having said that, I'm with Bob now, been working hard. I visited him quite a few times in Scotland; I continue to do so in the winter time, and I feel my game is starting to come around again.

Q. Regarding the team aspect of this week, is playing in team competition, something that gets your juices flowing, so to speak?

PAUL McGINLEY: Very much so. I've always enjoyed team events, yeah, whether it be football or hurling, growing up with soccer as a team. The Seve Trophy, it was a big advantage to have played in that. So, yeah, I'm looking forward to being part of the team. We've got 12 good guys, and I get on well with the team, no problems. And I'm looking forward to that. Everybody talks about the uniqueness of the Ryder Cup and the team spirit and that kind of stuff. I'm looking forward to experiencing that.

Q. Looking at the figures suggests that very few people, in fact, have been proved since this time last year, and there's been a decline certainly in world rankings. Would you have expected that, given all the effort that went into qualifying for everybody? I'm talking about both teams here, too?

PAUL McGINLEY: It's difficult to say. It's hard to say. As I say, if you look at previous Ryder Cup teams, and it would be interesting to do a study to see previous Ryder Cup teams, and watch the team 6 or 12 months later, see how the form has dipped on both sides. Just look at many team players from the last Ryder Cup team have made it this time on both sides. That's the competitiveness of professional golf nowadays. The standard is extremely high. Guys come in, guys go out. You don't have to be far off your game to miss cuts. You can be shooting 2-under par on pretty decent golf courses, and miss the cut. And if you miss the cut you're in a slump. I think that's the nature of competitive golf. It's so different now. I'm sure if you talk to some guys they'll give you reasons why, due to September 11 or whatever the case may be, guys -- I've got the Ryder Cup in the back of the mind, I'm sure there's some kind of theories.

Q. The hangover effect?

PAUL McGINLEY: I'm sure -- I don't really -- I'm probably -- it's hard for me to answer. But from my point of view, I hope there is a hangover effect, because otherwise it's one of the reasons I can put down playing so poorly this year. But I can't speak for other guys. But it certainly has been in the back of my mind all year. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't. And particularly when I wasn't playing particularly well during the middle of the summer. It puts a time scale on getting your game back in shape again. And as anybody in professional sport will tell you it's very, very difficult to peak yourself for a certain week or certain time of year. Tiger has managed to do it and he's one of the few people that's done it. Even Jack Nicklaus said he's always struggled to peak well for ages, and he was one of the best ever. And as I say, golf is cyclical, it comes and goes. But Tiger has definitely managed to do it. The bigger the tournament the better Tiger plays. And I expect him to play extremely well this week.

Q. Yesterday was a good day?

PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, it was. I tell you it was some excitement up there. It was a wonderful, wonderful game.

Q. Just looking forward to this week, what are your own expectations of the week, because I assume it's one of the pinnacles of your career, you're achieving one of your ambitions this week. What expectations do you have for the week, and when you were growing up, did you dream about hitting the first shot in the Ryder Cup?

PAUL McGINLEY: Growing up -- well, my dreams of a kid were more about football, because I wasn't interested in golf until I got to about 17 years of age. The Ryder Cup has always been something, that as I say in my opinion it's the third biggest event in the world, next to the World Cup and the Olympics, it's the biggest sporting event worldwide. It is a huge, big deal. My expectations for the week, it's difficult to say. Everybody has said that it's a very, very nerve-wracking experience. And that's ahead of me and I can't give you an answer as to what it's going to be like until I've experienced it and then I can tell you how I actually felt. I'm sure I'll be very nervous. I'm sure I'll be excited. I'm certainly looking forward to it. There's going to be a whole lot of emotions throughout the week, if what everybody tells me about it is going to be true.

Q. What was the first Ryder Cup you watched?

PAUL McGINLEY: The first one I remember watching was PGA National, when the Europeans came close for the first time. I vaguely remember that.

End of FastScripts....

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