September 26, 2002
SUTTON COLDFIELD, ENGLAND
GORDON SIMPSON: Welcome, Sam Torrance, the European captain. And Sam, three years of waiting, we're on the eve of the matches. Just give us your final thoughts before we get under way tomorrow.
SAM TORRANCE: I wish it was next week, I'm enjoying it that much. It's just fantastic. It's been awesome.
GORDON SIMPSON: Curtis said it was almost flawless all week.
SAM TORRANCE: I can't believe it's already tomorrow. It's passed like that. And I'm sure we'll be here Sunday night saying it's finished, but it's been great.
Q. Could you please go through your pairings and the thought process that went into each one?
SAM TORRANCE: Clarke and Bjorn have been fantastic all week. They're two great players, they're birdie machines. They're ideal for fourball. Garcia and Westwood, Garcia obviously one of the best players in the world. Lee Westwood has been struggling, but he's been great through this week, all matches. It's not how you're playing; it's how you respond to pressure, and he's very good at that. Montgomerie and Langer, what can I say? They're great. And Harrington and Fasth, and Niclas Fasth is the only rookie I'm playing the first morning, but he's well capable of handling it, and he's got a great partner in Harrington. I like them.
Q. Did you purposely put Tiger killers, knowing you'd get Tiger the first match?
SAM TORRANCE: I had no idea where he'd put Tiger, no. But thanks for reminding me. I'll remember that for the team meeting tonight. Thank you. That might be my best point tonight (laughter.)
Q. How much of those pairings differed from what you had in mind at the start of the week?
SAM TORRANCE: Monty and Langer were one, Bjorn and Clarke were one. Jesper is not on top of his game yet, but he's very close. He played a lot better today. I didn't want to put the pressure on him, when his game is not right in the first match. Harrington and Fasth was quite a strong possibility for fourball.
Q. Tiger Woods went out this morning before I even got back to my hotel (laughter.) Do you think he had a moral right to be there, to let the fans see him. Because it was finished before they even arrived?
SAM TORRANCE: I don't really want to comment on that one. That has absolutely nothing to do with me. Tiger is the number one player in the world. He does get a lot of hassle from crowds, maybe he wanted to go out and have a nice, quiet round and prepare himself for tomorrow. He won't be out at 6:00 tomorrow morning. I'm not being flippant there. He's been out at the right times Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, so he slipped out for a quick round this morning. I'm sorry for the fans that didn't get to see him. But all the Europeans were out there, they could have seen them.
Q. How much of those pairings have changed since September, original plan 1 for the Ryder Cup?
SAM TORRANCE: I couldn't find it. I haven't got a clue. Actually -- no, I really don't know. I think Westwood and Parnevick were together, but that was a year ago.
Q. I know you've got your army of family and friends. Is it possible for you to say how many are here because of you and what it means to you?
SAM TORRANCE: Well, it means everything to me. I just got real sentimental, so we'll leave that.
Q. What's your view of Niclas? He seems to be very strong mentally.
SAM TORRANCE: He's very strong. For a young man he's got an old head on his shoulders. He's playing great and has good swing, and he's ready for anything. His performance at the Open last year coming down the stretch was exemplary, for a kid to almost win the Open at first-go in contention was fantastic. This is obviously another deal, but I'm sure he's well able for it.
Q. What do you think your team has to do to win this match?
SAM TORRANCE: 14-and-a-half points. Sorry, but that's it. 14-and-a-half points any way they can, fairly.
Q. On the day that it was announced when you were going to be the captain, you said it was a job that you'd always dreamed about doing. Has it lived up to those expectations?
SAM TORRANCE: It's far surpassed it, yes. It's fantastic.
Q. You touched on Jesper Parnevik and his current form. Elaborate a little bit more on his form or lack of it and how he's accepted the news, please?
SAM TORRANCE: Well, it wasn't news to him. He knew when he came in he wasn't playing great. He's been working hard, he's a great kid, he's great in the team room. He understands he's not on top of his game and knows he's not going to play the
first morning. He was absolutely fine with that. If he doesn't play Sunday, he said "I'll be absolutely fine with singles."
Q. It's obvious that security here is very intense, you've seen police with semiautomatic rifles. A, does that put you and your team off, or B, is it a comfort to you, after what happened last year?
SAM TORRANCE: I hope they're on our side, so it's got to be a comfort. It's a comfort, of course. Unfortunately in this day and age it's a necessity with such a high-class field. It probably would be -- wouldn't be something terrorists would look at, but you do have some high-powered people here, so they have to be looked after.
Q. How has it changed the atmosphere of the event, the one-year delay?
SAM TORRANCE: Absolutely nothing. If you've been out there today the atmosphere is fantastic. And it's got better since Monday to today, and it will be better than tomorrow. Today the Americans were on the front 9 and we were on the back 9. We had the spectators split, and there was a huge gallery, anyway.
Q. Curtis spent the first few minutes a little distracted-looking over your pairings. Is there anything about his pairings that had you surprised?
SAM TORRANCE: No, he is a wealth of talent and he's paired them.
Q. Obviously you've done this a number of times as a player. Now as a captain, are the nerves any different for you as a captain? Are you more nervous with tomorrow arriving and can you just also talk about the transition of this week from the kind of the camaraderie of the dinners all week, and now what the mindset is, as it gets into tomorrow?
SAM TORRANCE: You're going to have to fire one question at a time, giving me three in a row is confusing me. What was the first one?
Q. Are you more nervous?
SAM TORRANCE: No, absolutely not. I'm as calm as a, cucumber. I feel fantastic. I've been waiting for this moment for a while.
Q. When did you decide, precisely, if you like, when Lee Westwood was going to play, and also what was Lee's reaction when you told him he was going to play tomorrow morning?
SAM TORRANCE: There was no reaction. There might have been a reaction if I told him he wasn't going to be playing. I think Wednesday. He'd been very strong, very strong. And he is a class act.
Q. Almost all the Americans played just nine holes this morning. I think almost all the Europeans played the full 18. Did they play more because they felt they needed more time on the course or because you told them to or was there any particular reason for that?
SAM TORRANCE: None of them played 18. They played the back 9, and then three or four of them played the first five holes, really just to keep themselves occupied. The range was shot, just to do something, just to keep themselves going. There was no reason for it, certainly not because they needed it.
Q. Curtis just told us everyone in his team will play before Sunday. Can you promise this to anybody on your team, too?
SAM TORRANCE: No.
Q. You never did?
SAM TORRANCE: No. I'm intending to, but there's nothing cast in stone. I'm not going to give points away. If something is not right, I'm not putting them out.
Q. When Payne Stewart was around he always put on "Born in the USA" in the USA dressing room or locker room. In your team of all stars, what music do you put on?
SAM TORRANCE: (Singing) "We will, we will rock you..." (Laughter.) Queen. We're all a bunch of queens; aren't we? (Laughter.)
Q. Do you know a little bit more about Bernhard and Colin playing together; can you talk about that choice and why you made it?
SAM TORRANCE: They've both got a wealth of experience, they're both playing great. They were actually a couple of my floaters, as I mentioned, they could have gone anywhere. And it was wonderful to be able to pair them up together.
Q. Because they're your two most experienced players. Did you consider splitting them up some way?
SAM TORRANCE: Yes, I did, at the beginning of the week, but the other teams gelled so well together, that I didn't have to split them up, so it was great to be able to put them together.
Q. How strong was the temptation to play McGinley and Harrington on how they performed in the Seve Trophy?
SAM TORRANCE: Very strong. Paul -- well, he's probably more of a foursomes player, which might give you a wee indication of when he's coming in. But Fasth has made a lot of birdies this year. Paul is very steady, doesn't miss much.
Q. I noticed your dad was out with the two of them, was he giving you running reports of what's going on?
SAM TORRANCE: No, they're just fine-tuning.
Q. We had Padraig in here yesterday telling us about the intensity of his approach, how completely he was focused when he played Mark O'Meara in singles two years ago; is this something you encourage your players to do or is this something you leave up to them to do for themselves?
SAM TORRANCE: To focus?
Q. To focus.
SAM TORRANCE: They're all very well in focus. They know exactly what they've got to do. This is when the fun begins. When the draw came back up there at 2:00, it was awesome to see the reactions and now the plan is in place. The game starts tomorrow, and now they start focusing. Up until today, it's really up in the air, they don't know if they're playing, they don't know who they're playing with. Now they know, now they're ready.
Q. How is the team spirit? Has there been anymore practical jokes like the one Pierre played on you the other day?
SAM TORRANCE: No, a few wind-ups, but nothing like that. His bow tie had broken last night, and he wanted me to fix it, but I couldn't do that one. Nothing at all. I think the fun aspect is usually Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, a little bit of Wednesday, but it's pretty serious now. We're all settled, we're all ready and we just can't wait to get going.
Q. Was it hard to tell the four you had to leave out, was it hard to break the news to them?
SAM TORRANCE: No, no. That's my job.
Q. How important is the support of the wives and the partners give the team?
SAM TORRANCE: Very much so. Very important, dear. (Laughter.) I have a bed to sleep in tonight.
No, the wives are fantastic. In the end, they're the ones in the room where the players go back with the frustrations and whatever. And they're the ones that calm them down. (Laughter.) Actually that wasn't meant to be funny.
They calm them down. They're a very important part. On the golf course, as well. It's very nice to see someone that loves you there.
GORDON SIMPSON: Good luck tomorrow, Sam.
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