August 10, 2001
SEA ISLAND, GEORGIA
CRAIG SMITH: With me here on my right, your left, Bryce Molder, Captain Danny Yates, and John Harris. We've got Walker Cup experience across the row here, Bryce having played in 1999, Danny a couple times himself, and John three times before even now. Let me start by directing a question to Danny and then we'll open it up. Danny, when did you start thinking about lineups and those kind of things and getting another chance at bringing a Walker Cup back home? How often has Walker Cup been on your mind since 1999?
DANNY YATES: Every day. Every single day. That was a tough loss.
CRAIG SMITH: John let me ask you the same thing. You've had both good and bad. How about the thoughts and the range of emotions for you and what Walker Cup means? I think we have to start there?
JOHN HARRIS: I'm not sure for me if it was good and bad. I was disappointed to be involved in a losing effort in Wales. It was a fun experience. I had wonderful teammates, a great captain and it was a lot of fun to represent the country in Wales. But like Danny, I think about the Walker Cup almost every day. It's very special. I feel very lucky to be part of it, and it's the greatest honor an amateur player can have.
CRAIG SMITH: Bryce, you have made this important enough to be your swan song as an amateur. Talk about the emotions that you will have this week.
BRYCE MOLDER: One thing I have looked forward to for two years, or at least hopefully looking forward to, and then the past couple months looking forward to is this afternoon at 6:30, the opening ceremonies is something, for everyone there, especially us, as we are representing our country. It's something, a feeling that you really can't duplicate anywhere. It's so special, and I decided early on this year that if I got picked for the Walker Cup team, no question, I would definitely play, and I wouldn't turn pro early in the summer. The U.S. Amateur was back and forth, but the Walker Cup was never in my mind did I ever think twice about playing. And if I did think twice about it, it was for about a second or two.
CRAIG SMITH: Questions, please.
Q. Danny, how do you think the heat is going to affect your opponents?
DANNY YATES: I think they are pretty well accustomed to it. Obviously they don't play in it as often as we do. I think we went over to Spain and they have been over here for a week or so. I think they will be ready. I'm not counting on the heat doing anything for us.
Q. Could you talk about how you put your pairings together for tomorrow?
DANNY YATES: Well, everybody is going to play -- hopefully, everybody will play three times. Some guys might play four. So I looked at the age factor, the matchups, how our guys fit, and we are thinking about the heat. But just a feel for who would go early, who would get it -- as a team we all put our heads together who thought would go early, who likes to go later. We just talked it over as a group and did it that way.
Q. If I could follow-up, you did really well in pairings, at least the first day at Narin and then it didn't work out as well later on in the event. Did that have anything to do with how you figured out how you would do the pairings?
DANNY YATES: Not really. At Narin, I thought our match-ups were very good. I've said this very good, but their team just played spectacular golf. We played better on Sunday than we did on Saturday. Their team, it was just their day. They made the putts. They made the birdies. If you look at the scoreboard and the numbers, which I've looked at later, they were under par. We were par or better. They just did what they had to do by making birdies coming down the stretch. We didn't give them a hole. We didn't make any bogeys or give them anything. They earned it. I don't know how we could have combatted that, because their scores were just better.
Q. John and Danny, could you both address this, as career amateurs in this sport, how do you see this event and the U.S. Amateur and other events and everything, where do you see amateur golf right now in the U.S.? How much more popular is it now than maybe X number of years ago, or is it?
JOHN HARRIS: The game of golf is very strong right now. Amateur golf is wonderful, when you've got people like Bryce and Luke Donald and some of the other great college players. Junior golf has never been better. Instruction has never been better. And, you know, events like the Walker Cup promote golf, and it's really a showcase for these great young players. The mid-Amateur game has never been stronger than it is right now. I feel very lucky to have been able to do this before, and it's what we all work for. We all like to play well in the Amateur, but there's not one of us mid-amateurs that tries to compete; that this isn't our goal, right here.
CRAIG SMITH: John, let me follow that up. Your singles record of being undefeated, you've got a chance to add to that, and usually, people know your name. How do you measure your success in singles play?
JOHN HARRIS: Well, I've been very lucky. I have made some putts at some key times, and I've played poorly in couple of matches, and as match play works, my opponents played worse. You know, I feel lucky that my record is what it is, but it's a team game, and, you know, we're playing, the individual records really don't mean much. It's really what the team does. We're here. We've been talking all week about team play and whoever gets the points, it doesn't make any difference as long as we get 12 1/2.
Q. Bryce, can you talk about your experience from last time, what it felt like after it was over and how much you were looking forward to these matches?
BRYCE MOLDER: I don't think I can explain how I felt, standing there watching them celebrate and we're sitting there, just can't do anything but watch. That hurt. More than anything, because we put everything we had into it. We came together as a group. We just came up short. They just played really well. So that was very, very tough, and I think at that point in time, I said, "You know, I want to play again and I want to go away a winner." This doesn't mean this is revenge or whatever. Just another chance to compete, and hopefully, have a little better outcome than two years ago.
Q. John, Danny said he was taking age into account. Now, do you feel 49 or do you think you are as fit as the young ones?
JOHN HARRIS: Well, I don't feel 49 and I told Danny I could go out four matches and that heat, age or fatigue would not be a factor. This is what we point for all summer. I work out most every day, and, you know, when the adrenaline starts flowing at the flag raising tonight, it is not going to stop until Sunday night. So fatigue would not be a problem.
CRAIG SMITH: How would you assess your coaching style, that of a player coach, disciplinarian or a friend?
DANNY YATES: I hope more of a friend. We have certain thins we have to do and they know that. These guys are good. They don't need me to tell them how to play. I try to get out of their way. If they need something I will be there to provide it. If they need a pat on the back, I'll do that. If they need a kick in the pants I'll do that. But these guys are focused, they know what's at stake, they have all played golf. They have all played big-time college golf. They really don't need a whole lot of coaching. I'm just going to try to get out of their way and let them do their best.
Q. What have you all been doing this week to try to build team chemistry? You've been here all week, obviously; and how important is that going into the weekend, having built some camaraderie this week and gotten to know each other a little bit?
DANNY YATES: I just think the chemistry of all of these guys, they all know each other, some better than others. But it's been a good group. The chemistry has been great. I think there are certain guys on our team that know how to loosen people up and keep it light and then there are others that know how to putt their game face on when it needs to be done. That's the thing that has pleased me more than anything; the chemistry, just from day one remained -- we named seven players at the U.S. Open and everybody got excited and then the last three were later. I think everybody is pulling for everybody, and just the group has gelled very well and I'm very pleased about that.
CRAIG SMITH: Bryce, how about your angle, just team camaraderie, who is the character, who is the serious guy, how are the young guys interacting with the more mature players on your team in.
BRYCE MOLDER: I think what kind of happens is us younger guys buddy up with -- I don't want to say older guys, but more experienced guys. For some reason, I don't know why that -- I guess we are used to playing against each other all the time. But it's been a lot of fun. We can both learn something from each other. From playing with John, I learned something from him and hopefully he can learn something from me and that's the great thing about it. Like Danny says, it's really, really easy for us to come together, because this means so much to each one of us and we know that it takes all of us to do it; that it's very easy. To throw a few names out, I would say that you know when Danny Green is around. Earlier on, we were getting together for a meeting and I said I had not seen Danny Green, and Eger said, "Well I haven't heard him either, so he must not be around." I know Nick, maybe James, they are a little bit more serious. Maybe just more quiet than serious. I think we are all pretty serious.
Q. Bryce or John, I'm wondering if you can address this golf course. Does it lend itself to be a good match play golf course? Is there a hole down the stretch where you think a lot of matches might turn that, sort of thing?
JOHN HARRIS: Well, I think it's a great golf course. You know, the par 5's are spectacular holes. Par is going to win a lot of holes out here. You have to play from the fairway. It doesn't make any difference how long you hit it. If you don't play from the fairway, you are going to struggle, and it can be around the greens. It can be off the tee. Holes will swing dramatically going from a loss to a win or a win to a loss around the greens. It looks like right now that the greens, if we don't get any rain, are going to be where the Committee would like them, and that's firm and fast. While there is some length required, I think particularly with the younger players on both sides, length will not be an issue. There's much more finesse involved, I think, than power, and it is a fabulous golf course. As far as any one keyhole, I really don't think there is one. You know, the last six or seven holes, they are all great holes, so it is going to be exciting. Pars are going to be very valuable coming down the stretch.
CRAIG SMITH: John, you walked away in '97 and had a significant part to play in the win. At that point, did you think you would get another chance to sit here?
JOHN HARRIS: Well, I sure hoped. So obviously, I was not at Narin, and that added some incentive for me to work on my game and try to get back here and I could not be more thrilled than to be here today.
Q. I know the Europeans have had a motivational video made. Have you guys had a video also to get your team up and can you tell us a bit about that?
DANNY YATES: No, we haven't.
Q. You say you have hopefully given everybody three games. Is that just something you think is right and proper or are you doing it for the benefit of the team?
DANNY YATES: Well, both. Things can change after the first round, but I played on a great team in '93, and that was the strategy. When you have 10 guys that are playing well, I think they all ought to have the chance to play three times. The math works out that they can only play three and two guys can play four. But things can change once the flag goes up tonight and play starts. That's any strategy now. I've told the them that we're going to do what's best for the team, and they all understand that. I think that any one of our players would do what's best for the team.
Q. Several of the GB&I guys have said this week that they think maybe the pressure is on your team to avoid being the first American team to lose two straight Cups, but your players don't seem to look at it that way. And do you think they will play loose this week?
DANNY YATES: We are not thinking about losing. We are thinking about winning.
BRYCE MOLDER: Once the first ball is teed up, nothing else matters. We are just trying to play golf. That thought doesn't come into your head until after it is all over with.
Q. Danny and Bryce, obviously, you want to win this week, but do you feel that you have a score to settle from Narin?
DANNY YATES: The match is the match. I don't look at it as a score to settle. This thing has been going on for 80 years almost. It's just been a great competition. I think all of the players, just the opportunity to be here is spectacular. You want to win whether you are playing in this thing or you're playing in your state team championship or whatever. I'm not looking at it like that. This is the Walker Cup and it is a special thing, and the feeling of winning is very special after it is all over. So I don't really approach it in those terms.
Q. For Danny and John, the older guys, I think three out of the last six Walker Cups, it's been split three and three, whereas before, the U.S. dominated the thing. Why do you think that is and does that reflect what we see in the pro ranks, where the European players are starting to compete more with the Americans on that level?
JOHN HARRIS: You know what, the game has become a global game. There are players all over the world that are becoming better players. You know, we have some players that have turned pro earlier than maybe some others, but, you know, it's just a state of the game has become worldwide and the players are better everywhere. You know, I really don't have any specific reason why, but, you know, the players are just getting better and better.
DANNY YATES: I agree with John. One reason I think the college game has gotten so good, there are is so many good college programs in the U.S. A lot of the GB&I players come here, and it is a place where you can play year round in a lot of places. The programs are so good, and like John said, it's global. The teaching is great on both sides of the Atlantic and there are just a lot of good players that are getting better and better.
BRYCE MOLDER: Nothing more than that, it's just becoming more of a popular sport and players playing all over the place, it's just evening out all over the players. Now you are starting to see a lot of players really, really young starting to shoot really low score. That's just part of it, it's just getting more popular.
DANNY YATES: I remember John won the Amateur out in Houston after the '93 Walker Cup. Jackie Burke who always had something to say, he said, "You watch. Athletes are playing golf now. It's not a sissy sports. You are going to see a lot of guy that is used to play football and basketball and baseball play golf." He predicted, he said, "You wait, you're going to see some guys that are going to light it up." He looked at Tiger Woods who was playing in the tournament. He said, "You're going to see a lot of guys playing golf who are going to put aside the other sports." And he was right. There are a lot of big strong guys that can really play.
Q. More and more British and European players are coming over here for their college golf. I wonder if that's changed the dynamics of the Walker Cup, if there is more of a familiarity between the teams because of that over the last 10 or 20 years?
DANNY YATES: A lot of our players know a lot of their players and a lot of their players know a lot of ours. The first time I played in '89, I knew a couple of their players because I played on a world amateur team but rarely you didn't know their guys because they were there and didn't come over to the States. But the college coaches are going out to find the talent and they are finding them wherever they can find them and I think it's been good for the game.
Q. Do you have one player on your team who you consider your No. 1 player, and also, do you plan on pairing Cassini and Compton together?
DANNY YATES: Cassini and Compton? I don't want to go into the pairings right now but all of our players are good. I don't want to say one guy is any better. We have got great players. I'm sitting by two great players and I don't want to say one guy is better than the other. It's a team sport, so I'm going to rest on that.
Q. Bryce, you were talking about the college players from other countries. Can you talk about the level of college golf -- I was looking at the thing I think it is four or five guys with ACC roots on the U.S. team. Mike he'll played for Clemson for two years before he went back to Ireland. Can you just talk about the level of college golf now, particularly in the southeast?
BRYCE MOLDER: Well all over the country, it's gotten unbelievable. I know about five or six, seven years ago, I think getting through regionals was just kinds of part of getting to the nationals, and now, there's two or three or four teams in the Top-10 every year that don't get into the National Championship and I think that's just from talent spread out all over the place. The fact that it's here in the southeast right now, I think that just changes with time. Right now, Georgia is -- Georgia and Florida and South Carolina, that's where most of the golfers are coming from right now. I remember when I started junior golf, it was a lot from California, and then it was Texas and then it's moved over to the southeast. So I think a lot of it's timing, but it is kind of strange that it's all, I think at one time, us, Georgia Tech, Georgia, South Carolina and Clemson were all in the top four, but that's just kind of -- I guess, a little bit of coincidence right now.
CRAIG SMITH: Thank you very much. We wish you good luck tomorrow morning.
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