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September 28, 2002

Curtis Strange


GORDON SIMPSON: Curtis, you don't have to read them out.

CURTIS STRANGE: No, I don't. Sam has already done it.

GORDON SIMPSON: We had them ready. Here we are, 8-all, all down to the singles. What's your assessment of the game at this stage.

CURTIS STRANGE: You know, as I said last night and the night before, I can't see a lot of shots out there, because I'm all over the lot, making sure everybody is okay, and whatever I do. But all I can tell you is I saw some of the most exciting, fantastic golf today. And when I applaud my guys -- I don't applaud anybody, because as I said I'm sitting back watching. But I applaud my team and I applaud them. When 24 of the best golfers in the world get together and play at a level that they played today, I don't care if it's my team or their team, you have to applaud and you have to say congratulations, job well done. It's fantastic, it really is. And as we see in match play, there's disappointments and guys that feel really well about the outcome of the match. There's momentum swings that are incredible for the players. And some don't end up the way you would like. But whatever the case, it's been exciting. And there's been a lot of great shots.

Q. Sam told us he intentionally front-end loaded, because --?

CURTIS STRANGE: You think? This isn't out of a hat.

Q. Because he felt like putting a lot of blue flags up on the board. He thought a lot of blue flags on the board would generate momentum?

CURTIS STRANGE: I know exactly what he's doing.

Q. You tail-end loaded yours, tell us what you're doing?

CURTIS STRANGE: No, the first thing when I saw it, is exactly what you said. He wants to get the spectators involved early. He wants to get momentum early and hopefully that will feed over into the back-end of his field, of the players. And we do -- this is close to the format I had a year ago, if the matches were close. I had two formulas for Sunday. One was if the matches were close or we were a little ahead -- I'm sorry, or a little behind. And if we were way ahead it would be different. But this is pretty much the way I had it, a couple of good, solid players up front -- well, two of my horses up front, maybe three. And then coming in if it's on the line you certainly have to have a couple of horses there and certainly it was talked about -- I'll be honest with you, it was talked about Tiger not even going last. But if the Ryder Cup is on the line, for any team, that's the guy you have to have go last. So he's last, he's No. 12. Hoch played very, very well today. Toms is a little tired. I think he played a little sloppy this afternoon, just because of fatigue. Not so much physical but mentally. It's a long, hard battle out there. And the people are fantastic, but match play wears on you. And then we just go down the list. You could mix and match any way you wanted to, but everybody is very comfortable in where they are, and we discussed it and talked about it and this is the way it lays out.

Q. I know you'd rather have a lead going into tomorrow, but given the historical advantage the United States has in singles, 9 out of the last 11, do you feel comfortable tied and would you have taken 8 at the start of the week?

CURTIS STRANGE: No, I wouldn't have taken 8-8, honestly. What kind of captain would I be if I would say we would be even going into the last day. But with the way the matches have flowed over the last two days and we were behind going into the fourball, and historically, as we talked about the other night, they had been better in fourball, God knows why, but they have been, I think we're all pleased, not tickled to death or happy, but pleased that we're 8-8 this week.

Q. Could you talk about the importance of Calc and David coming way back from their match. And also the second thing is David going for the green on 10?

CURTIS STRANGE: We had a couple of real swing matches this afternoon. And I'm just happy as I can be for both David and Mark. They were put out there -- because of the golf course their advantage has been taken away a bit with the driver. And the only reason I say that, so that when you put them out there, their advantage -- I would put them out there in the best ball with no question at all because they're long, they make a lot of birdies and they can be explosive. But with the golf course, and them having to lay up a bit, it brings them back to the rest of the field. And so I was tickled to death that they went out and did well. David is not driving it well, but Mark isn't known for the straightest driver on Tour, either. As I said to Azinger, who sat out this afternoon, when I was discussing it with him or after I made the pairings, it was a toss-up -- not a toss-up, but it was Azinger, Calc and Duval, who's going to play for those three. I said Paul, can you make eight birdies out there in one round. And he said no. And I said Calc can, and so can Duval, and that's why he sat, simple as that. You have to go with what best ball takes, and best ball takes a lot of birdies.

Q. And David going for the green?

CURTIS STRANGE: Duval? You know, I heard on the radio. I wasn't there. Why not try? If you feel good about it, why not try? I know Sergio has done it. And actually both Westwood and Sergio I guess both went. And that's their call. Absolutely that's their call. How they stand in the match, how they feel at the tee. It's certainly more of a gamble now than it was if the tees were up a little bit. And as I said earlier, they can all hit it far enough, or most of them can hit it far enough, it's just the angle. I guess all of you have been out there. It's a tough angle.

Q. Tiger Woods didn't come in here last night. He didn't come in here tonight. Is he ill? I'm just curious if there's anything wrong with him?

CURTIS STRANGE: No, he's fine. I've actually seen him for a few minutes tonight. But, no, he's fine. He's very -- I think he's finally glad he kind of got one in the win column. And he played well today. He was fortunate to get one in the win column, but he played well. And I can't comment on individual games too much because, again, I don't see a whole lot out there. I see shots here and there. But my understanding is he's made a lot of birdies and really played well. So, no, he's fine.

Q. Is he just sick of that?

CURTIS STRANGE: I'm not in charge of that. I don't know, I'm not in charge of that. I have other duties. When I finish I have to make pairings and I have to do this and I have to come over here. I really don't know why he hasn't come over here.

Q. Now having seen the order, are you a little concerned that the match could conceivably be over before your two best players have had a chance to make a difference?

CURTIS STRANGE: No, I'm not concerned. I'm going to ask you a question, okay? (Laughter.)

Q. That's a fair question, isn't it?

CURTIS STRANGE: Do you believe that can happen?

Q. Having seen Sam's order, yeah.


Q. What was Tiger's reaction? Is he happy with that, going out last?

CURTIS STRANGE: Yeah, he likes it. Any champion, any superstar likes that situation. Hopefully, from my side it didn't come to that. But any superstar likes to take the last shot.

Q. Ben last time around said he had a feeling before the last day of singles that the U.S. was going to win, even though they were behind. Do you have a feeling at all about tomorrow and what is it if you do?

CURTIS STRANGE: Well, no, I don't have much of a feeling. Honestly, I don't. My guys have played reasonably well all week, and they have to perform tomorrow. I'm not into the game of surveying here and there, just kind of -- I just -- I have told them if they have to go -- they have to go out and play well tomorrow because Sam's team is playing well, they really are. And I can't do anything other than prepare them. And do I have a feeling? Well, I have a lot of trust and I believe in these guys. They're wonderful players. But that really doesn't mean much tomorrow when they get on the golf course. So they've got to go get the job done. And my job is to make sure they know that. There's no gimmee tomorrow.

Q. Last night I asked you about President Bush. And I just wondered, that Alamo speech didn't quite get it done at Valderrama. Is he going to come in the room and give them a pep-talk or are you going to give them a pep-talk. We asked Sam about motivation, do you have --?

CURTIS STRANGE: The Alamo speech wasn't in Valderrama.

Q. I'm sorry. I misspoke.

CURTIS STRANGE: No, he's gone. He came in the room and said a few words and saw the team, and just had a wonderful day. He and the ambassador had a wonderful day.

Q. What did he tell them?

CURTIS STRANGE: Just good luck, enjoy the day, good luck, go get 'em.

Q. If you could follow one match, only one, which would you pick?

CURTIS STRANGE: Give me a second, here. I'd have to go early, because it is important what happens early. I don't know, I'm thinking about this. I won't do that, but -- are you asking me as a spectator or as a captain?

Q. One match is all you could see?

CURTIS STRANGE: Meaning one match might be very important. Honestly, I don't know. Let me back up. Let me go beyond early. Let me go back where it might be a swing match, 7, 8, 9 and 10 could possibly be. See, I think we're going to win the last number -- I don't know. You've got me. You've got me there. I'm not sure.

Q. What about two, Curtis?


Q. What about the first with Hoch and Monty?

CURTIS STRANGE: I don't want to go to the first one. I might go with Garcia/Toms. I want to see how Garcia comes back after today. I want to see how he handles it. He was visibly upset this afternoon. He lost one that he certainly sits right here tonight and says I should not have done that. And David Toms was -- I want to see how he reacts tomorrow, as well, because he's been used a lot this week, and I think he's going to be ready, but he's going to be nervous. He told me this afternoon, you know, this is far and away better than I ever thought it could be, just riding in the cart this afternoon with me when he finished. It's kind of neat to hear somebody say that the first time.

Q. Guys talk about Ryder Cup pressure from the first tee, but yet we see how they respond and there's a lot of great shots and great golf. And then there seems to be a cross-over point when the golf goes downhill and they struggle coming in, I wonder why or how that happens?

CURTIS STRANGE: Because 17 and 18 are damn tough. 17 is where -- are you talking about toward the end of the round? 17 you can't hardly drive in the fairway. You have to be long enough to carry the bunker, and you have to land it in the rough, because of the fairway comes right at you. You just have to land it in the rough and be lucky. So we've seen time and time again somebody has to lay up short of a ditch. And that doesn't get real exciting when you can't put it in the fairway, but every so often. 18 won't be as tough tomorrow. I think the flag is going to be in the middle tier. But today it's tough to get it in there close and make birdie. It was probably less exciting.

Q. We see a lot of holed putts, and then all of a sudden three- or four-footers seem impossible.

CURTIS STRANGE: Pressure, nerves. It's tough. You see it early on, you see them -- you see it in a golf tournament every week on television. Guys shoot a million under the first two or three days, and they don't do that on Sunday. It's the same thing in a smaller scale, here. So it's pressure. And we talk about it a lot and if you've never done it, it's really hard to -- these guys have so much on their shoulders. They have -- first of all just having a partner is tough, because when you miss for them you just feel like you've let him down. You have all these other teammates around, especially if it's the last match, you have all these other teammates around. You have a gazillion people. You have the former president out there, the ambassador; you have a lot of people. There's a lot of pressure.

Q. Could you talk about your pairing Davis with Tiger and how he responded today after Friday's matches?

CURTIS STRANGE: I just wanted Davis to get pumped a little bit. And I wanted Tiger to get pumped. And it worked well this morning. It worked well this afternoon, barely. But they really did well in alternate shot this morning. They really played well. That's all. I just wanted to -- hopefully I was kind of counting on that point. And we sweat a bunch, but we got through it.

Q. I was going to ask the same question, but does it sort of follow on to that, you said that was a hunch yesterday, do you think that by playing with Davis Love it actually drew Tiger out of himself in the match, in the foursomes or the alternate shot as you described this morning. He was playing with a partner he could bounce off, as such?

CURTIS STRANGE: I wanted Tiger to feel like -- when I came into these matches I wanted to pair somebody with Tiger that would bring out his best. Obviously that's what we try to do. It's so crazy how personalities mesh, as well as games. And you learn with these players. In practice rounds it's tough to learn exactly how they react to each other. It's tough. First thought when best ball a lot of times is a short hitter and long hitter, but that doesn't really work well here, because everybody is laying up off tees. I just thought Davis was a guy Tiger can relate to, because they're both launchers off the tee, and they can talk the same game and look at the same type shot, both in best ball and in alternate shot. And there's more of a -- more similarity there than Tiger and Scott Verplank, say.

Q. Can you talk about Mickelson and Toms, how they've done together. Were you expecting them to be, if not your best team, certainly as good as anybody you put out this week. And they're also the only team you put out together all four times?

CURTIS STRANGE: I expected them to be my best team from the get-go. And there was no hesitation ever before I got on the airplane to go to Ireland about them not going out all four rounds. Personalities mesh well, games. I'll leave here this week -- I've never played a lot with David, only a couple of times, so you never really know how somebody plays until you play with them. After watching him now for about five days, there's no question in my mind why he is where he is in the world of golf. And Phil Mickelson is Phil Mickelson, so I knew that was going to be a good team.

Q. Am I allowed one more about the singles order?


Q. Are you aware what happened in the Solheim Cup only a week ago to Europe, that they led with a day to go. They had one player with a hundred percent record and put her out last. And she ended up being in a dead rubber?


Q. Are you slightly aware -- are you keeping your fingers crossed that the same doesn't happen to you tomorrow?

CURTIS STRANGE: Say what you said again. You lost me there.

Q. In other words, Europe's best player in the Solheim Cup last week was put out last in the singles. And it didn't matter, the match?

CURTIS STRANGE: That's what I was talking about earlier is -- I don't think like that. As a captain I can't allow my team or me to think like that. Sure there's always the possibility. There's endless possibilities. There's endless possibilities and hunches, but you do what you think is right, in front of, hey, this wasn't all me, this is with 12 opinions, here, 13 opinions, counting me. And I just want to do two things. I want to do what's right, and I also want to do where everybody is comfortable in the scheme of things, first through 12. But you're right, it could happen.

Q. From an Irish point of view, we have a great interest in the Calc and Harrington match. Could you talk about the qualities of both players from what you know of Calc and what you've seen of Harrington?

CURTIS STRANGE: Padraig has certainly become a world-class player in the last year and a half, two years. Calc is going to have to drive it in the fairway. Calc is going to have to make some birdies, because I don't think Harrington is going to put it out of play. I think he's going to put it on a lot of greens and make birdies. Calc knows he has a job ahead of him.

Q. I don't want to bring up '95, but the last time we were in a similar position was '95 and obviously you know what it was like in the team room the night before. You know what it was like during the day. And you know what it was like that night. How much did that affect how you, putting these pairings together, because you thought when you put these pairings together, you had said if you were even or maybe a little up, this is what you were going to do. How much will you impart of that experience tonight to your players?

CURTIS STRANGE: I have no idea how the pairings were in '95, I don't remember. I don't remember that. And all I can tell them is be ready. My experience in '95 is like any other experience of losing: You win some, you lose some. But my words to them tonight is, which are going to be very, very, very few -- because they're all tired -- is hey, guys, you have to be ready. And they know that. They know that. But hearing it again hopefully they'll think about it again. But this is no given. Why is it that we think we're so good in singles? They're damn good, too. So that's my word to them.

Q. When you filled out your singles line-up card, did you do it with the idea that Sam was going to put his power first?

CURTIS STRANGE: We try to guess, yeah. We thought that -- actually we thought that Sam would do -- put a lot of strength up front to get the people involved and get some blue on the board. But we certainly thought he would hold back and put -- we actually guessed that Monty would go last. And we thought Garcia might go 11, just guessing. It could be any number of their four or five top players. But we were guessing Monty would go last or second to the last and Garcia would go around there, too, thinking that if they could keep it -- if it was close, you'd have to have somebody at the end, like I have Tiger. But what they have done is -- not the opposite, but put all their strength up front, trying to get the people right into it and hopefully all that momentum, if they would somehow win the first five matches or so, momentum as we know is incredible in the Ryder Cup matches, enthusiasm, and maybe carry over to the rest of the guys.

Q. Now that you've seen the pairings, do you like them?

CURTIS STRANGE: You know, I'm not sure what to think. I've never seen somebody front-load like this. So I don't know how -- I don't know what to think. I know exactly what Sam has tried to do. I know what we try to do. We'll have to wait and see. Ask me tomorrow at about 1:00 when these four or five get through eight or nine holes. I'm confident, obviously. But you just never know.

Q. Do you think today with all the mood swings, the great golf and the crowd, this is why we're all here?

CURTIS STRANGE: Absolutely. I don't want to get corny on you, but it's exactly right. I can't imagine the television audience back in America today with these golf shots. I just got a nice fax from Judy Rankin, she was on the edge of her seat all day long. And again, I don't see a lot, so I don't know -- it's easier to watch on television. And I'm sure all the fans throughout Europe are thinking the same thing. So I would like to watch it. And we also like to watch it because it's great golf and it's close. You're seeing -- I have to tell you, I'm so proud of all 24 guys. They all get along so well. We've heard that before, but there have been -- they have been nothing but complete gentlemen. The fans have been nothing short of fantastic. And it's been a great, great week.

Q. Tiger seems to be a man who always learns by watching. I'm wondering what would you like to have him learn from watching and hanging out with you this week?

CURTIS STRANGE: You have to ask him. I can't speculate on that kind of stuff. I tried to do the job that I thought was best. And because you're dealing with 12 world-class players, golfers, and they don't need a whole lot of motivation. They don't need a whole lot of speeches. They don't need a whole lot of me. But direction -- I think, as I said earlier in the week, everybody -- every team needs direction. Every team needs somebody who is in charge, and that's all I can tell you. I can't -- you ask me a question that's tough for me to answer. You'd have to ask those 12 guys back there in the room. They seem to have gotten along with me. They might be talking about me behind my back, you know. But it's been wonderful. I doubt that. It's been wonderful, the whole thing. And again you'd have to ask them.

Q. You've had a goal of making Tiger maybe more a part of the team than he's ever been?

CURTIS STRANGE: I disagree, completely.

Q. That's what I'm asking.

CURTIS STRANGE: No, he's been part of the team. I haven't been part of his teams, but I have never heard one negative word uttered about Tiger Woods being part of the team. And he goes about his business. As I said earlier this week, he's a quiet leader. He sits back and let's the veterans on the team speak. And this is the way, when I was brought up, it should have been done. The veterans do the talking, the rookies -- not rookies, but younger guys don't. And then they move into that leadership role. But that's the way he's been, and people -- it's been wonderful, it really has. When you have guys, leaders on the team like Azinger or Sutton, he still has plenty to learn from them. Just because he plays so very well doesn't mean he can't learn from somebody who has been around for years.

Q. Speaking of Veterans, your thinking in sending Scott Hoch out first?

CURTIS STRANGE: He likes to play fast. He played well. We had to put a couple of guys -- I want to put two or three good players -- not two or three, they're all good players -- but he had played so well all day today, especially this afternoon, get him out there, get him going.

GORDON SIMPSON: Thank you very much. Good luck tomorrow.

End of FastScripts....

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