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September 11, 2015
MIKE WOODCOCK: Good afternoon, everyone. We'll make a start, pleased to welcome Captain Spider Miller back to the interview room, and he's joined by Hunter Stewart and Beau Hossler, who are of course members of the winning American Palmer Cup team this year.
Spider, if I can start with you, I guess the preparations are almost complete and we are on the eve of the Match now. Can you share your thoughts now as we go into the final few hours?
SPIDER MILLER: I think as a team, we are ready to play. We've had quite a bit of preparation. It's been something of a lengthy process for us to travel over here; and, too, we met in Latrobe, and gathering all the clothing and all the support items and things. It's gone fast but it seems like we've been at it for about a month.
So, we are ready to play. Our boys are ready to play. I think Nigel and his team is ready, and, yeah, it's going to be fun and we're prepared.
MIKE WOODCOCK: Guys, I guess as Spider alluded to, for the players, it's a lengthy buildup. How much are you both looking forward to just getting started tomorrow?
BEAU HOSSLER: Yeah, I'm really excited. Like Cap said, it's been a long time coming since we met in Latrobe. Feels like about a month.
But obviously we've had a lot going on and we've not had much downtime but fortunately the last couple of days we've been ready and able to catch up on sleep. I know every guy on the team is excited to tee it up tomorrow, and I think it's going to be a really good competition obviously.
But our preparation has been really solid, had a lot of good foursomes action as well as individual as far as getting ready for the individual matches in the afternoon. I know everybody on team is playing great. We have some really good players but we have a lot of guys that mesh really well with each other. I think we've had a really good chemistry with all ten of the guys on the team and fortunately Cap has done a great job of harnessing that.
MIKE WOODCOCK: Hunter, from your point of view?
HUNTER STEWART: Yeah, I think we have a good idea how we want to play the course and we've been over here since Monday so we have a pretty good idea.
But I think it's all going to be different a little bit tomorrow when you go out on the first tee, and they say, "On the tee from USA," go to hit the first tee shot. Just be -- how mentally ready we are and just the physical preparation is there, it's just going to be who can handle it the best out there.
I feel like we've got a lot of guys with a lot of experience in big tournaments and I think that's going to be important tomorrow.
Q. You might need the waterproofs in the morning, and the wind is supposed to be up, as well; does that weather suit either team?
SPIDER MILLER: I think that our team is equally adept at playing in the off-track conditions, and so it's not a concern. It's what we expected quite frankly. All of us are prepared.
Part of what I had to do as captain is to get the kids ready and have the clothing and the rain gear and the towels, and we have that, and they are ready to play. They don't care if it's raining. They don't care if it's windy. They are ready to play.
Q. Going back to The Ryder Cup in 2010 --
SPIDER MILLER: I'm sorry, I misunderstood.
Q. The American Team in the rain at Celtic Manor, if you remember, or maybe you don't, but The Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor in 2010, the American wetsuits didn't work, and an emergency call had to be made after the first hour of play to go into the ProQuip stand and a whole new set of waterproofs was bought.
SPIDER MILLER: No, I just couldn't understand you. (Laughter). I have a friend who flies all over the world and English is the air traffic language, and he flies for UPS everywhere. I said, "Mark, do you ever have any trouble understanding the controllers?"
He said, "Only in England." (Laughter).
So you see my difficulty.
I'm going to give Jimmy Holtgrieve, my predecessor, credit forechecking out the rain gear because he wore it in the shower. We have the same -- it's not the same look but it's the same fabric, the same material. He stood under there, which I'll take him for his word. I didn't feel compelled to stand in the shower with it. So yeah, I think our rain gear is fine.
Q. First of all, is it Polo or somebody else's?
SPIDER MILLER: We are Polo.
Q. You guys get caddies that you didn't really know when you got here. Can you just talk about how that has evolved over time, and have you seen guys maybe trading caddies or something because maybe your caddie didn't work well?
BEAU HOSSLER: My caddie, James, has been great. We've had a good relationship the whole time. I don't think anybody has had any problems with their caddies. You can tell that they are all experienced out here.
The thing that's really cool is they know how the golf course gets affected by the wind more than we do, just because we have only really seen it for the last four days, I think the same southeast direction, and the first day was from the north, northwest.
But they have been great. They have really adapted to their role. A lot of guys like a more active caddie. I personally like to just kind of do my own thing and just kind of talking between shots. But as far as providing knowledge when I need it, he's always right there and I think everybody has had that same experience for the most part.
HUNTER STEWART: I would say -- my caddie's name is David and he's been great. The first time I played here on Monday morning, he had me pretty much dialed in on lines and what to hit off tees, he pretty much had it -- with the wind looking around, going in a different direction. They are very knowledgeable and they could kind of pick up on a few subtleties in the greens that we wouldn't pick up on just being here for a few days.
Q. Spider talked about the fact that he's going to have you guys maybe more included than other captains have in the past, not just in Walker Cup, with regards to the process and everything that's going on. Do you feel like you've been more included than maybe even Palmer Cup?
HUNTER STEWART: Way more included in the Palmer Cup -- like the pairings, is that what you're saying? Cap had us write down guys we want to play with, kind of give an order. Some guys are more picky than others.
But yeah, at the Palmer Cup, we just showed up and said, well, this is what I thought for pairings, and bang, there it was. It worked out fine and we ended up winning. I'd say you're a players' captain.
SPIDER MILLER: Thank you.
HUNTER STEWART: He just made it all about us this week and he's kind of taken a back seat which shows you kind of the guy he is. But he's been an awesome captain.
BEAU HOSSLER: Yeah, it's been great. I think everybody has really enjoyed everything that we've done. We've had some really incredible opportunities, as well as just being over here in plenty of time and enjoying Lytham and St. Annes, as well.
But Cap's done an incredible job for us, making us comfortable. Anything that we've needed, we've had, and going into the weekend, I think every single person on the team is really comfortable with the pairings as well as the order in which we're playing and whatnot.
And as far as the schedule this week, we have been very -- he's been open to doing whatever makes us all feel comfortable, and he knows that each player on the team may prepare a little bit differently for the tournament and so he's had the opportunity to do exactly what makes us feel comfortable on the first tee tomorrow.
HUNTER STEWART: And he has an open door policy, as well, if anybody needs to say anything to him about anything, he's always said: Guys, we can do it front of everybody or private, whichever you like. Guys have been able to kind of voice their thoughts and concerns on whatever, and I don't think there's been very many, but Cap's always right there to talk about anything with anybody.
Q. The Ryder Cup last year, there seemed to be a lack of harmony on the American Team. What have you done to get these guys on your side, so that they go out and play for you tomorrow?
SPIDER MILLER: Without being critical of anyone in regards to The Ryder Cup, I would say that my overall takeaway was that I wanted to make this competition more fun for them. I wanted the golf portion to be fun, and that's part of my process in pairing.
I want each player to vest in the process. Each one of them has as much input as I have. Yes, there will be a hard decision or two to make, and I'll make it, but they are the ones that are doing the playing, and I'm listening to them. We've had pretty much consensus agreement on everything. It's not me as an autocrat saying one thing or the other. We have generally agreed on our plan.
Yeah, we're having fun and I want it to be fun for them. That was my goal is to make it an experience that they will never forget, and I want it to be an experience that the players coming behind these two will want to be.
They will hear from Beau and from Hunter what a great process and what a great time it was and I want them to want to make the team, the next team beyond me, the next captain, as much as these guys wanted to make this team.
Q. Me again.
SPIDER MILLER: Yes, sir. I can understand you now. (Laughter). Don't talk too fast, though.
Q. I don't expect you to tell us your pairings, but have you told the person, the player who will hit the first shot?
SPIDER MILLER: Well, I'm listening to the team. That was a team process, and we took that up as a group, who is raring to go. I found a guy that was raring to go, wants to get out, wants to get with it. That will be the guy that hits the first shot.
Q. You have or you will?
SPIDER MILLER: I've already done.
Q. So he knows?
SPIDER MILLER: Yes, sir. He told me. I didn't tell him. (Laughter).
HUNTER STEWART: We sat down at lunch and kind of talked about order.
Q. Is it you?
SPIDER MILLER: Me? We can't tell you. We can't tell that.
Q. You said you sat down at lunch and worked out the order.
SPIDER MILLER: We did. But that's among us. We know (smiling). And that's part of the fun. If I disclosed our order, it wouldn't be as -- that would take away from some of the charm of the competition.
Nigel and I don't pair for TV. They may do that in Ryder Cup, I don't know. We're not doing it.
Q. Did what happened at The Ryder Cup influence your captaincy at all?
SPIDER MILLER: I would say for me, not necessarily. I observed what happened and I took it into account. But the style that I have is the management style I have in my business. I'm a beer wholesaler, and I work with my guys and we're a team.
And I listen to the guy that's on the street, the one calling on the customer; the guy stocking the shelves. I don't go in and tell him what to do. I let him tell me what he needs to do and how I can help him be better at his job.
So I take that -- that's my philosophy in business and I haven't changed it here. That's the way I would be.
Q. And you talked about it all being about fun; is it possible to make it fun without winning?
SPIDER MILLER: Well, I hope I don't find out.
Q. Question for the players. In The Ryder Cup, there seems to be a perception that the American players get caught up in other things and can't express themselves, and that doesn't seem to be the case in the Walker Cup. Do you agree with that and can you put a finger on why that is?
BEAU HOSSLER: I couldn't tell you why because I've never played in a Ryder Cup, but I can tell that you every guy on this team is more than comfortable in their own skin and their role on the team. I know that every player can voice their opinion, and we have been having a lot of fun, and lots of joking around and enjoying ourselves, making sure that we really do enjoy the experience here.
I talked to a lot of players that have played in the Walker Cup, and every one of them has said it's one of the top two or three weeks in their career, and a few of them have played successful PGA TOUR careers with victories and whatnot. I think that Cap made it very obvious to us that we really need to enjoy the experience, and that's only going to help us to play better rather than putting a ton of pressure on ourselves and making a miserable week out of putting a lot of pressure to win the event.
I think if we keep on having fun like we have and enjoy being around each other, we are all really good friends, and as soon as it becomes a business rather than being an enjoyable process, then we are going to have some trouble.
As long as we can keep it light -- and obviously the focus will be there, but at the same time, I think that you have to realise that this is a match that was built on sportsmanship and the collaboration of the R&A and the USGA, we are trying to make golf a better sport moving forward, and enjoying the process I think is a huge part of that for us.
HUNTER STEWART: One thing I would say is you see in Ryder Cups that Europeans find guys together that one plus one equals three and they get more out of each other than, say, they would in a normal week. I mean, Ian Poulter is a monster in The Ryder Cup and he's a really good player, but you see things that he does there and it's incredible.
So they kind of feed off of each other. I think that's one of the things I love with Cap taking kind of a little more of a backseat role in determining partners; then we get guys that feed off each other well. You might get something better than you would get on your own individually.
I think Europeans embrace that idea of being more of a team sport in this kind of competition than the Americans do. They don't get bogged down in the golf ball changes or the bad shots hit by their partners. Europeans just handle all that stuff better and have a great attitude and just get through it all. And so I think the guys on our team have the ability to do that this week.
Q. That all being said, you have an opportunity, I think at some point probably, to turn before you came to play Walker Cup. Are you glad now that you didn't, and secondly, other guys will come to you at some point and say, why didn't you turn or why didn't I say beforehand because I wasn't guaranteed a spot, what would you tell him?
BEAU HOSSLER: Well, it was a tough decision. It was carefully thought out and I knew I was running the risk of not making the team and basically wasting the summer and wasting some momentum that I had coming off of a decent finish at the NCAA Championship.
I had a conversation with Brandt Snedeker over a year and a half ago, and he told me that one of his biggest regrets of his career was not playing on a Walker Cup Team. He didn't make the team. So I kept that in mind.
He also said that, you know, going into turning professional, that you want to have confidence. And I could have spent the entire summer trying to get some pro starts playing in various things and maybe not having as great a finish. But I played pretty well this summer and did some good things and have momentum.
This is kind of a cap-off to it a nice amateur career. I would say that the experiences that I've had this week, I'll never forget, and I wouldn't trade them for three or four starts that I would have been able to get on the PGA TOUR this summer. I don't think about that and wish I would have done it in any way. It's been well worth the wait, and the guys that are on the team and the friendships that I'll have moving forward, I'll cherish.
There are times we sit around the dinner and the bus just joking around, you know, at each other and just having fun. This has been one of the best weeks of my life in golf so far, and I'm so happy that I made that decision.
Q. Everybody seems very happy about the way you've approached things, but if you guys don't win, is your approach successful?
SPIDER MILLER: It will be for me and that's all I'm concerned about right now. I can tell you, I wouldn't do it any different. I don't think the guys would want me to do it any different, so it won't affect anything that I think or don't think. I'm happy with where we are at this point in the process, and I think we're ready to play, and I wouldn't do anything different.
HUNTER STEWART: I'll say our results, our play will determine our results. Cap has done everything he can to make us successful, and I think every single person on the team would agree with that. Every person feels comfortable in what we are doing, and obviously you have got to still go golf the golf ball. The captain can only do so much, and he's just providing an opportunity for us to play our best golf.
Q. I've been trying to get to the bottom of the Spider nickname, and I've been led to believe that you're one of nine children and that you've always had to keep chasing and climbing -- 11? One of 11?
SPIDER MILLER: We were obviously Catholic. (Laughter).
Q. Are you the 11th?
SPIDER MILLER: No. I'm the middle. I'm the middle child of 11. I'm the sixth one.
Q. So was it, then, that you were climbing bookshelves and other things?
SPIDER MILLER: My father was a small businessman in a very small town of about 5,000 people. He ran a hardware store, a tire store, a laundromat; to feed all of us, he wore a lot of hats.
And apparently when I was three or four years old, I rode my tricycle down to his hardware store and they found me on the shelves. I was looking for a baseball mitt, I remember that, and one of the guys said I looked like a Spider up there.
So having all the brothers and sisters, it sort of stuck with me. So I've had it -- I went to school in Indiana. I grew up in Indiana, about 60 miles from Bloomington where I live now where the university is located. It followed me to college. If I said my name was John, someone would say: "His name is not John, it's Spider."
So at some point, I just said, okay, Spider. Sissy to put my hand out and say that. Although, the bankers still call me John when I sign all those notes to those rascals (laughing).
Q. There's been some criticism about the USGA's decision to keep two Mid-Ams on the team and I'm curious how you feel about having the Mid-Am going forward and how important it is?
SPIDER MILLER: You know what I'm going to do, I'm going to let these guys answer that question because their perspective is much more important than mine.
BEAU HOSSLER: I'll say the two Mid-Ams are some of the best guys we have on this team. And whether or not it was required, I think that they complete our team and every guy on the team really, really enjoys being around them.
They have experiences that none of us have and have been around for -- Mike has been around -- how old is he?
SPIDER MILLER: 52.
BEAU HOSSLER: And he's still a hell of a player. But the amount of experience: He's played in the Masters; played all over the place, played many, many U.S. Amateurs, and I think he's been trying to get on this team for a long time.
SPIDER MILLER: Over 20 years.
BEAU HOSSLER: And to have someone that really, really wants to be here, as much as we want to be here, he's been trying for 20 years. That's longer than a lot of us have been alive, and Scott, as well, is just a heck of a guy. In the team room they are amazing and I think it really completes our team, because we have a lot of young guys, as well. I don't think we have anybody over the age of 22 or 23.
So to be able to be around them has been really, really fun. I think we've all enjoyed it. I'm not even going to talk about the fact that we are forced to have two Mid-Ams because it's just so -- I think we all enjoy having them so much. It's almost a joke to talk about them.
HUNTER STEWART: Yeah, I couldn't really imagine the team without Mike or Scott, just wouldn't be the same. They do complete the team and they do have totally different experience than we do and they each run their own business. Mike is on the phone running stuff -- it's just kind of a different deal.
But for them, this is kind of where they try to get to and for us, a lot of us will turn professional and move on to other things in golf but for them, this is kind of it.
And not that it's not it for us, because up to now, this is the biggest thing I've done. But for them, it just means so much more, and to give that to them, it's great to see.
So many stories I hear from Todd White talking about his experience at the last one -- literally has chill bumps telling a story on the first tee at Ocean Forest, and it just means so much for the guys. Just wouldn't take it any other way for us.
Q. If you do win, will you celebrate with champagne or beer? And if it's the latter, do you supply the beer?
SPIDER MILLER: I am a beer and wine wholesaler, although primarily beer. I haven't thought about that. Since it's not my market, I don't have to be concerned with what brand it is. Although, I'm always concerned about that.
I suspect at the proper time and if it's appropriate, we would have something of a celebration, but that's yet to be determined. So we're focused on our task at hand. I think our guys are ready to go, and I am, so, yeah, we're happy about where we are.
MIKE WOODCOCK: Spider, Beau, Hunter, best of luck over the weekend.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports