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September 29, 2016

Chris Wood

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

JOHN DEVER: Good afternoon again. Welcome to Hazeltine National and the 41st Ryder Cup. We are pleased to be joined by Mr. Chris Wood, Ryder Cup Europe, making his debut in The Ryder Cup.

Chris, is it nice to kind of break in as part of this six-player rookie class that essentially represents the next wave through the pipeline of European golf talent?

CHRIS WOOD: Yeah, I think if I wasn't involved, I'd feel quite left out, because there's so many of us as rookies here. And you know, myself, Dan, Sully, we grew up in the same era playing amateur golf together back in England and Europe, and we played in England squads together growing up. So we have all known each other since we were sort of 13, 14 years old. So it's pretty cool that the three of us have made our first Ryder Cup Team at the same time.

JOHN DEVER: Now, when you talk about Lee Westwood and Phil Mickelson, they are playing their 10th and 11th Ryder Cups. I mean, when you just think about that, that's 20 years, 20-plus years of Ryder Cup experience. It's remarkable to me; do you feel the same way?

CHRIS WOOD: Yeah, when I first heard that Lee was playing his 10th, obviously I've got to know him reasonably well over the last few years since I've been on Tour, but you just think 20 or 21 years, given it was moved in 2001 to 2002; he's been at the highest level of the game for that long, and I think that's the most incredible stat.

And likewise with Phil over here. Obviously I don't really know Phil very well. I've never played with Phil. So obviously playing predominately in Europe, I don't get the opportunity to come over here to play as often with him. But thinking that players like that have been at the top of the game for 20-plus years, it's just unbelievable.

I don't want to be somebody who is just going to play one Ryder Cup. I want to play three, four, five, you know, but that's ten years. I mean, that's a great career. But these guys have played double that. It's unbelievable.

JOHN DEVER: Mind-boggling.

Q. We met eight years ago at Q-School, and it seems like a long time ago, but how have you changed as a player since then, and how have you changed as a person since then?
CHRIS WOOD: I'd like to think I haven't changed as a person, but I might have grown a little bit since then. But as a golfer, your game just becomes tighter over those years.

I think after the first year or so on Tour, I just naturally got longer without trying because you've got to hit it 300 yards to try and compete in professional golf. And I wasn't hitting it that long when I first came out.

So your game just develops naturally playing with better players every week. It pushes yourself, and then you pick up things you learn from other players and you go and practice those things, so you pick up all sorts of things like that.

Q. A lot of your team is still in their 20s, as well. Do you see this as a bit of the changing of the guard, so to speak?
CHRIS WOOD: Yeah, definitely. It's going to happen at some stage, I think, in every team. The American side went through it a couple of years ago when Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed -- I can't remember off the top of my head, but three or four other players maybe were rookies at Gleneagles.

It's going to happen -- it was always going to happen in Europe at some point. We've seen the same sort of faces on The European Team side for maybe the last four, five, six Ryder Cups. And that just shows the strength that they have continued to play at for that amount of time. So hopefully the group that you're seeing this week, or at least half the group, can try and create the same sort of thing, and you know, in 12 years' time, we're all sat here, we're all 40 and we're all playing in our sixth or seventh Ryder Cup.

Q. Just wondering in the lead-up to tomorrow's start to the Ryder Cup, what's the best piece of advice you've received?
CHRIS WOOD: The current theme, or the sort of common theme from every vice captain or former player that I've spoken to or has sent me messages has just been to enjoy it. And it's hard not to when you go out on a Tuesday and you play your first practice round and there's 40,000 or 50,000 people out there.

Tomorrow is obviously going to be slightly more intense, and the feelings that you're going to get are going to be a bit different. But you know, I've seen obviously every Ryder Cup of recent years; the first morning is just unbelievable.

And you know, I've seen pictures or videos of Luke a few years ago at Oakland Hills, and he's struggling to get the ball on the tee (laughs), and that will be quite interesting to try to go through those sort of same feelings. But it's a challenge; I'm sure I'll cope.

JOHN DEVER: Well said. I like that.

Q. Along those lines, just in your time around Lee this week, what have you tried to glean from him? What is he trying to tell the new guys about the experience and how big of an asset is it to have a guy by your side that has been through it for so often?
CHRIS WOOD: Yeah, they have all said how excited -- the nerves are there. And we don't know what's coming. Lee has said exactly the same. He's excited; he's nervous, but he knows what's coming. It just shows that he's played in -- this is going to be his 10th Ryder Cup and he still gets the same feelings that we are all getting as our first Ryder Cup.

You can go on that first tee tomorrow and feel as nervous as you've probably ever felt, but you look around and every other guy is feeling the same. So that brings an element of comfort to you if you can have any of that.

Q. You were saying that you did grow up with Danny. You know how mentally strong he is. I just wonder whether you think all this fuss with his brother is going to affect him in the slightest bit.
CHRIS WOOD: Like you say, Dan is so mentally strong. That's been an asset of his ever since I've known him. And you know, like he said, that had -- it was nothing to do with him. You can genuinely see that he was gutted by it yesterday.

You know, we've all said, it's completely a bolt out of the blue that nobody has got any sort of feelings towards at all in our side. No, Dan will cope just fine.

Q. When you won the BMW PGA at Wentworth, you spoke highly about Punk and the input he gave you in that victory at Wentworth. What's going to be a bigger job tomorrow, keeping his feet on the ground or he keeping your feet on the ground? And how nervous is he looking forward to tomorrow?
CHRIS WOOD: He doesn't give much away, my caddie. He's pretty level-headed and quite -- he's great for me on the golf course.

A great example would be when I wanted to hit a 6-iron on the last at Wentworth over the water and I've got a one-shot lead into a par 5. And he said, No, we're going to hit sand wedge, sand wedge. He's very level-headed and he's a great asset to me. I need to keep him happy as long as possible, really (smiling).

Q. Phil Kenyon is coaching all the players in the team. Who do you think is the best putter for this week?
CHRIS WOOD: The best putter on the team? Me (laughter).

JOHN DEVER: Good answer.

CHRIS WOOD: Yeah, Phil's big into his stats with the players that he looks after, and he was tracking all of us around, the guys that have made the team that he works with.

I think statistically, I've performed the best this season out of the guys he works with. That's a huge confidence boost for me, and obviously shows what a great job Phil's been doing with us.

Q. You played here in 2009 at the PGA Championship, your first time actually in America, as I remember. Do you have good memories from that trip and from the course?
CHRIS WOOD: I was trying to remember quite a bit of the course. I could remember a few holes, but obviously they have changed a few around, which sort of confused me a little bit when I got here.

But the seventh, which back then was the 16th, that's obviously a very memorable hole; I think probably the signature hole here at Hazeltine. I could remember the first, but I thought it was like a 5-iron into the green, but I think we are playing off a forward tee this week and it's more like an 8-iron, 9-iron.

I can remember quite a few holes but not all of it. But that was my first major in America and first experience. It was quite daunting. But I've played all four rounds. But you know, it was sort of the first step in my sort of major career as a pro really.

Q. Jimmy Walker said that Phil Mickelson gave the rest of the team some dog tags and there's been interesting presents sort of going back and forth. Just wonder if it's been the same in the European room and what Darren gave you and what you gave Darren in return.
CHRIS WOOD: What was that? Phil gave some --

Q. Phil gave them dog tags.
CHRIS WOOD: Dog tags. He's the one to give us all the presents this week. No, we haven't given each other dog tags. Henrik is the sort of joker in our side. That's as much as it's got really. On the bus back from the dinner last night, Henrik was on the microphone reeling off joke after joke after joke. And then on the way, he was actually the DJ and playing with the radio and dancing at the front of the bus. He was the only one; and he didn't get many laughs with his jokes (laughter). But he tried.

JOHN DEVER: Chris Wood, Ryder Cup Europe, we enjoyed the talk and thanks for the visit.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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