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June 29, 2022

Sergio Garcia

Martin Kaymer

Lee Westwood

Portland, Oregon, USA

Pumpkin Ridge

Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Good morning, everybody. Welcome to the 9:00 a.m. press conference with our team captains today. We have Martin Kaymer, who's the captain of the Cleeks; we have Lee Westwood, the captain of the Majesticks, and Sergio Garcia, the captain of the Fireballs. I want to kick it off by asking you guys all the same question. It's simultaneous, individual and team play. You guys are all team captains. How are you balancing advocating for yourself and also advocating for your team at the same time?

MARTIN KAYMER: Well, first and foremost, I think it's an individual sport, but obviously in this league with LIV, they add that team aspect, which for all of us we have a long history -- Lee has the longest history of Ryder Cups, so we all enjoy that team aspect a lot.

Also, it might be some kind of preparation for being the captain one day to be the captain of the Ryder Cup team. That would be great.

But as I said at the beginning, first and foremost, you play your own game. You play 18 holes, and then you add up all the scores of your team members, and yeah, hopefully we can challenge the South Africans this week.

LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, obviously it's an exciting aspect to the format. I think, like Martin, you go out and try and shoot as low as possible, the balance of our team, we've got two older guys that are fairly steady in myself and Ian, and hopefully the younger guys, Sam and Laurie, are going to throw in some low ones and shoot the lights out.

I like the way our team is balanced, and like I say, it's an exciting format. We go out, obviously try and do your best as an individual, but certainly that team aspect to it gets it really exciting, especially on the final day when it's three out of four scores to count.

Yeah, it's exciting to be part of and exciting to watch.

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, for me it's super exciting. I love team sports. Obviously, yes, we're all playing our own ball, but at the same time it's nice to build relationships with your partners, with your teammates, and kind of peek out and see how they're doing while you're playing. I can't help myself but do that.

It's just exciting to play a little bit of a different format. It's something new. It's something different, exciting, and for me, as much as I love team events and team sports, it's obviously something that helps me build stronger and better relationships with my teammates.

THE MODERATOR: Sergio, what was your strategy for picking your team?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, obviously I wanted to have the best players I could have possible, but at the same time have three guys that I get along very well with. They're not only great players but great people, great kids.

It's fun to have obviously Abraham, which is such a solid player and a wonderful kid, wonderful man. Then obviously Carlos, it's also so much potential and a great, great person, one of the nicest out there. Then obviously Eugenio Chacarra, which is brand new, just coming out, and he's played amazing as an amateur. I've known him for a while. Funny enough, his godfather was my physical trainer in 2006, '07 and '08, so he always told me about him when he was growing up, 10 or 11 years old, and it's nice to have him in my team now, so we're excited about that.

THE MODERATOR: Lee, your making your debut as a captain this week. Is it changing anything for you in your approach to the week?

LEE WESTWOOD: I guess it's a little bit more responsibility, but no, I'll just be concentrating on my own game as my other teammates will be concentrating on theirs. Obviously Ian did it in Centurion and we finished third, so it would be nice to go better than that and prove I'm a better captain than Ian.

Q. Is there anything that the Tour could have done to prevent you from joining LIV? Also, are you at all disappointed in some of the comments that have come from the Tour since this all started?

LEE WESTWOOD: Well, I think both tours could have communicated with the players better. I personally am disappointed with the European Tour's approach to it. I've been a European Tour member for 29 years, and a lot of those years I've also been a member of the PGA TOUR, as well, and the European Tour, as long as I've played before, have never had any problems with me playing anywhere else, and now it seems to be a problem.

Yeah, communication, and as far as fines and sanctions and things like that, I'm disappointed, yeah.

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I mean, similar for me. I think yes, we could have -- they could have communicated better with us and come to -- I think we could have all come to an agreement if they really wanted.

I've played both the PGA TOUR and the European Tour for 24 years, so obviously I've been very faithful to both of them, and it is a little bit disappointing the way they've kind of turned around.

But at the same time we're doing what we think is best for the game, for ourselves, for our families, and that's our decision.

MARTIN KAYMER: Well, obviously it's not much different, but I think transparency is a big thing. It would have been great for many years to evaluate all the options that all the tours have and that we can all decide together, that we can sit down at the table as adults, find a solution that is not only good for individuals, for the whole Tour, for all the members. Maybe even go further down. Also think about the Korn Ferry TOUR and the Challenge Tour; that would have been a better approach in my eyes.

We are where we are at the moment, and I think in this day and age where we live, there should always be a door open or at least that is how I grew up, the door should always be open that you listen to people. You can say no, but listening never hurts.

Q. Sergio, Eugenio, he has idolized you growing up and you guys have got a relationship which goes a long time back. Just tell us what kind of questions has he been asking you as he turns professional tomorrow, and what kind of advice are you giving him on your own? Because this is really a very exciting time for him, and the fact that he can be under your wings while he turns professional.

SERGIO GARCIA: Yes, like I said earlier, he's a wonderful kid, very energetic, a great player. Obviously at the end of the day it's his decision, and I'm very happy to have him under my wing and in my team. Obviously we have a great relationship for many years now. I can tell that he's very excited about it.

The only thing I could do, or I did, was to give him as much of my experiences as I could growing up and turning pro and everything, and then obviously it comes down to him making his own decision.

I think that, like I say, he's super excited about it, and I'm super excited about it for him. I just hope that he plays as well as he can play because he could be really, really good.

Q. How good is he?

SERGIO GARCIA: I mean, only time will tell us. It's as simple as that. I guess when you turn pro, all those things -- and it happened to me, too. All those things kind of disappear and you start from scratch. But you have all that confidence. He has all of that.

I just wish him the very best, not only because he's in my team but because of the kind of person he is and the kind of player he is. I guess time will show us where he goes to.

Q. All three of you spoke about team golf, and all three of you have very rich histories in the Ryder Cup. I'm wondering, if you knew whether this decision would jeopardize you guys' Ryder Cup futures, and if you did know, why was it worth it for you to jeopardize that to come play LIV Golf?

SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, I guess there was -- you never knew how everyone was going to act. Obviously you were hoping that it wouldn't change. We still hope that it won't affect it.

I think at the end of the day, like I said, I did this for several reasons. I did it because I think this is the future of golf, because I think that this is a great opportunity, not only to do what I love, which is playing golf, but at the same time be able to spend more time with my family and watch them grow. I have a four-year-old and a two-year-old so it's nice to watch them grow as much as possible. I've been doing this for 24 years, so traveling a lot and stuff, and make a great living out of it.

I hope that I still have the possibility, as I'm sure they do, too, to be a part of a few more Ryder Cup teams, but that's not going to depend on us now. We'll just keep our fingers crossed.

LEE WESTWOOD: I mean, why should it be threatened? I've been playing Ryder Cup golf since 1997, and the criteria has been to be a member of the European Tour. Now, the criteria for being a member of the European Tour is to play four events. Why should they change that now? I've been a member of the PGA TOUR and still played four events on the European Tour, and why would the European Tour change their rules so dramatically because another tour doesn't like it or feels financially threatened? There's just a bit too much protection going on for my liking and not enough transparency.

I think as long as you fulfill the criteria to be a European Tour member, then you should still have the opportunity to try and qualify for the Ryder Cup team.

MARTIN KAYMER: Yeah, for me it's very similar. Obviously I love to play Ryder Cups. I've been part of important Ryder Cups in my career. I would love to play for Sergio or Lee one day. That's just how it is. Obviously we didn't know what the sanctions might become one day, but if you asked me if I would do the same, if I would make the same choice, absolutely, because I do believe in the whole vision that LIV Golf provides for the game of golf and for us players.

I just hope that everybody thinks about what golf stands for and the European Tour, what it stands for. As Lee said, back in the day we needed to play a lot of tournaments on the European Tour, a lot of tournaments on the PGA TOUR. That has changed. We only need to play four in Europe, and I think we are more than happy and proud to play more than four events on the European Tour.

Again, it comes down to communication. I think you can talk about it, what kind of tournaments are you thinking about playing. Me as a German, obviously I'm going to play all the German events and a bunch of the tournaments that I really liked in the past, that I always wanted to win in my career, and I don't see a reason why we should be not capable of playing those tournaments.

Q. As far as the European Tour, I'm sure you guys saw yesterday to the changes to the PGA TOUR structure and sort of a strengthening of the strategic alliance. As guys who played on the PGA TOUR and came up on the European Tour, what was your reaction seeing the PGA TOUR and the European Tour make all these changes so quickly and kind of lean into one another?

LEE WESTWOOD: Well, I'd like to see more transparency what this strategic alliance is all about. People have been talking about it, but we haven't had too many details so far of what it means to the European Tour. If I was a European Tour member, sat there looking at all the facts and not being emotional about it, just dealing with the facts, I right now wouldn't be feeling too confident that it's going to enhance my playing opportunities or earning opportunities.

Q. You've all heard the debate about whether golfers should participate in the LIV Tour because of Saudi Arabia's human rights record, but I was wondering what you feel your responsibilities are as an athlete; is it to make moral considerations or is it just to have the best career you can and provide as well as you can for yourself and your family?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, I think golf just brings good things everywhere. Sports in general. Us as golfers and role models and stuff, that's what we try to do.

We're trying to bring the best we have to everywhere we go, and if we can help any country or any place in the world, that's what we're going to do. That's one of the reasons why we're here.

LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, I think golf and sport is a force for good. It does a lot of good things. Pretty much along the same lines as what Sergio said, yeah.

MARTIN KAYMER: I also think, imagine you're a child in Saudi Arabia and you've never been to -- you've only saw maybe golf on TV, and then for the last three, four years, you were able to watch golf live in your country and you could even try it out, like a lot of other sports that Saudi Arabia brought to their country. I think you can also see it from that point of view, that you can inspire a different generation to do good, to do better, to do something with their lives that they never thought they would be capable of doing, and if we can inspire them to do something similar to what we are doing, I think it's a great opportunity for the rest of your life, to try something that all the family members before you, all the generations have never done before.

Q. Martin and Sergio, I'm wondering what was the most important thing you learned about being captain in London, and what kind of adjustments, if any, will you make this week?

SERGIO GARCIA: Well, obviously it was something new, something different. I tried to engage with my players as much as I could. Then it comes down to playing and playing well. It's as simple as that. I think it happens everywhere we play a team event, the Ryder Cup and stuff like that.

I think as a captain, the only thing you can do is to try to make your players feel as comfortable as possible, feel them loved and have confidence in them, and then just cross their fingers and hope they play the best they can.

MARTIN KAYMER: For me it was a bit strange to be the captain. I'm kind of like a guy, I'm rather under the radar. I don't want to be in the front line. I'm a good second, I would say. But all of a sudden you're the captain, and I must say it was strange on one hand. On the other hand, I think playing a few more of those events, being the captain in the events will make me grow as a person, as well. I will understand myself a little bit better. Also going back to Ryder Cups, if the possibility would come my way, if I would like to be the captain one day, and also be comfortable with the situation.

I think it's a whole process of also as a person and not only as a golf player to be the captain.

LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, I wasn't captain in London, obviously, but one thing I did identify is the volatility of it all. Our team was comfortably in second place with two holes to go. I think we were five shots clear of the third team, and I finished poorly and the other two guys in the team that counted dropped a couple of shots over the last two holes, and all of a sudden five shots in front went to one shot behind. Really it's a case of trying right to the line and not being complacent because certainly with three scores to count the end of the third day does get very, very volatile.

I think that's part of the attraction of the team aspect of it.

Q. Will you be doing anything different from Ian?

LEE WESTWOOD: Me personally, I'll try not to finish double bogey-bogey. But no, I think we all probably have our own individual captain characteristics and the way we do things. It's a bit like playing in the Ryder Cup. I've played under a lot of different captains. You try and pick out the good bits.

Q. A question about the camaraderie of it all. Obviously you had all South Africans win, and you guys finished third, all English. Is there something about a team that you can have a camaraderie with, relationships with?

SERGIO GARCIA: Without a doubt, yeah. Like I was mentioning earlier, I think we play a very individual sport throughout our whole lives, and now we have the possibility of making it a little bit more of like a little group, like a little family, and you definitely build stronger relationships through that.

I said it when it comes down to Ryder Cups, probably my best friendships on Tour have come out in Ryder Cups, through Ryder Cups. This is a little bit different format but it's a similar feeling, and you can definitely build some amazing relationships for the future.

Q. There's been a lot of talk in recent weeks specifically from players like Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy about this not being a proper golf tournament. I'm curious to know you guys' response to the assertion that this isn't competition but rather exhibition golf.

SERGIO GARCIA: You know, it's their opinion. I mean, I don't know exactly what they said, but at the end of the day for us, I can tell you that when we're out there we're competing and we're trying our hardest. Everyone is. It's not easy.

You know, that's what they might think, but we are here trying to hit the right shots and good shots, and like I said earlier, you also feel a little bit of extra pressure performing for your teammates. We're working hard on it, and that's the way we see it.

LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, I'd say since LIV came on the scene, prize funds have gone up, opportunities have gone up, and we all saw what the PGA TOUR announced a few days ago, and one of their things is to pretty much replicate at the end of the season what LIV is doing eight weeks of the year this year and for I don't know how many weeks next year. Can't be that bad an idea, can it. But they are allowed their opinion.

Q. After speaking to one of the players who is actually supposedly waitlisted for LIV Golf and he's one of about 40 players from the PGA TOUR who's waitlisted for getting into LIV Golf, which shows the success of the format and the Tour so far, but one of the things that he was talking to me about was the fact about loneliness at the elite level of golf and that being -- everyone talks about money and other things, but he said that loneliness on the PGA TOUR at the elite level is actually one of the biggest reasons why I want to come to LIV Golf from what I've heard of what has happened in London. I wanted to get your thoughts and opinions on that.

MARTIN KAYMER: Yeah, I would say since I've been a golf professional, nobody prepares you for being on your own so much, especially out on the PGA TOUR and the European Tour. Everybody has their own teams. You barely go for dinners with other guys unless you're Spanish. You always see them at all the restaurants when they hang out together. This is completely different out here. You have your group, you have your team. Even guys that you never spend time with, they maybe even play on the Challenge Tour, they play on the Asian Tour, you can tell them about your experiences, they ask you about your experiences, how you can become an even better player, become a major winner, Ryder Cup player, stuff like this. So the loneliness, no one prepares you for this when you turn pro, and when you come out here, it is a little bit different.

It's also when we play smaller tournaments on the European Tour, for example, when there are only 50 guys or back in the day we'd play in Sun City only 12, 18 players, automatically you spend more time together. I don't know why that is, but it's just the dynamic of a small field.

I think what LIV created here for us with this playing opportunity is the opportunity to get to know people also a little bit different, it will take a little bit of that loneliness away, that player that you were talking about, what he felt since coming out here, it disappears a little bit in a very natural way.

Q. It's obviously a bit of a different model in the sense of you guys have contracts with LIV Golf as opposed to being independent contractors on the other tours. I saw the pictures from the party last night. How are the asks different on a LIV Golf tournament week as far as what you guys have to do, obligations, compared to a PGA TOUR or European Tour week?

SERGIO GARCIA: I mean, they're not that different from a lot of the tournaments we play. I mean, don't get me wrong, LIV is not riding us until we can't walk. We don't have those many things to do.

But at the same thing, the events they put on, they're fun events. They're nice to go to. They're very easygoing, a lot of good energy around them. It's easy to do them.

Obviously personally I've enjoyed them, the ones in London and the ones here so far. I've enjoyed them very much, and I'm very happy with the way they're managing our time and everything they want to achieve with it.

Q. Are they optional or are you guys given like a schedule of events to attend?

SERGIO GARCIA: Some are optional, some you have to attend.

LEE WESTWOOD: When you play elite golf, you get to the top level, you generally have contracts with pretty much every tournament you play in, whether it be on the European Tour or the PGA TOUR, and the requirements within those contracts to fulfill obligations in the evening, cocktail parties, things like that, clinics, appearances. I don't think the workload or the asks here in a LIV tournament are any different to ones I've been doing on various tours around the world for 25 years.

SERGIO GARCIA: Some of them are probably even less I would say.

Q. You guys have touched on the transparency issues you might have had with the PGA TOUR a little bit as well as seeing all the things, the changes that they've made so far. I guess I just want to ask, when you see the PGA at events add the prize money after you guys go to LIV, how does that hit you personally, and if you did have a specific gripe with the PGA TOUR, what was it?

SERGIO GARCIA: For me personally, I'm happy for the guys on the PGA TOUR. I'm happy that they can enjoy that. I'll just say it that way.

MARTIN KAYMER: I think it's great for the guys out there, that LIV maybe made other tours to elevate their possibilities. As Sergio said, I think it's good for all the players. I think the bottom line is it's great for the members of the Tour, but somehow it comes across that everybody is fighting against each other. That's not the case, or that shouldn't be the case.

I think when we look back in 12 months' time, yeah, there were some issues. There were some difficulties. But I strongly believe in all the tours.

This Tour here is an addition to what we already have, to the traditional game of golf, playing those 72 holes. If LIV Golf helps the PGA TOUR and the European Tour to provide even better playing opportunities and financially to support players even more, I think it's a win-win.

LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, competition is good. Keep it simple.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you guys very much.

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