March 2, 2005
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
GORDON SIMPSON: Welcome, ladies and gentlemen and good morning to the Emirates Golf Club and for a very special Ryder Cup press conference. Without any further ado, I will introduce the top table to you. On the far left we have Jamie Spence, who is the chairman of the European Tour's tournament committee; on Jamie's right is Richard Hills, the Ryder Cup director; in the middle there is a man who needs no introduction, but he will get one anyway on his 47th birthday a very happy one Ian, Ian Woosnam; George O'Grady next to Ian, the Executive Director of the European Tour; and on my immediate left we have Mohamed Buamim, who is the vice chairman of the Emirates Golf Club and the Dubai Desert Classic. And we would all like to say thank you to the Emirates Golf Club and to the Dubai Desert Classic for helping host this conference today.
I will now pass on to George who will make the introductory remarks.
GEORGE O'GRADY: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Dubai Desert Classic. I think Mohamed, as Gordon has said, for allowing us to use the media centre today, for what is a very important, and, in fact, an unprecedented announcement, re the Ryder Cup Captaincy.
Ian Woosnam will be the captain and has accepted the committee's invitation to captain on the side on 2006, as has Nick Faldo for 2008. This is the first time the committee and this decision has been ratified by our Ryder Cup board, having asked two captains at this stage. I think when you have captains of the calibre of Ian Woosnam and Nick Faldo, it's quite easy to understand why. It was the unanimous vote of the committee last night, and those members of committee who are not here have given their view by telephone. Although they were not voting, they all voted the same way; they all together in having two captains announced together.
On behalf of the Players Committee, chaired by Jamie Spence, and in fact, all of the board of the European Tour and the PGA and PGA of Europe, we are delighted to confirm Ian's appointment. And Ian, congratulations on behalf of all of us.
IAN WOOSNAM: Ian, thank you, George. (Applause.)
GORDON SIMPSON: Ian, you might just want to say a few words on what this means to you.
IAN WOOSNAM: Well, absolutely delighted on my 47th birthday to have a present like this is something I'll cherish for the rest of my life because I've been involved in many, many Ryder Cups, also as a vice captain. And to have the chance to captain your side, the European side, it's something that I'll cherish for the rest of my life.
And so I'd like to thank Jamie and the committee for voting for me and George and everybody who has been involved. I'm looking forward to the Matches in 2006. I'll doing my utmost to make sure I win the Ryder Cup for the third consecutive time and try and make history.
And also I would like to congratulate the committee on deciding to give Nick Faldo the captaincy in 2008. I know it was a difficult decision, but I think it's the right decision and I'm sure we've got Britain's best ever golfer being the captain in 2008, I'm sure he's going to do a fantastic job, as well. Thank you.
GORDON SIMPSON: Thanks very much, Ian. We'll open up to questions now. Any of the gentlemen on the top table are available to take your questions.
Q. Sam (Torrance) said one big thing in your favor was your experience in being a vice captain. Would you expect Nick to play any role next year and would you invite him to be your vice captain?
IAN WOOSNAM: It's early and I think I need to sit down and think what I'm going to do. I would like to see Nick carry on and do what he's going to do in 2008 and carry on and do what I'm going to do in 2006.
I'd just like to say, if anybody is else is going to ask a question about the vice captains, I am going to announce a vice captain at the Smurfit European Open when that is held, and it will be an Irishman who is going to be my vice captain.
Q. What kind of a captain will we see in Ian Woosnam, one running around like Seve (Ballesteros) or one like Bernhard Langer?
IAN WOOSNAM: I'll give you a guess. I think hopefully somewhere in between. Obviously Seve was very excited and that's his character. And Bernhard Langer has got his own character, he's more laid back and very cool. Hopefully I learned, as being a vice captain, having my experience under Sam, as you know, it's a long week and you can't get too excited about things or get too down. You've got to keep it level-headed, and that's possibly what I'm going to try and be, level-headed, anyway.
Q. How much of a disappointment was it to miss out last time, and is there an element of relief in your appointment now when you heard that Nick would stand in this time?
IAN WOOSNAM: Obviously, yes. Obviously disappointed last time, but I think Bernhard Langer was the correct person to do it in America last time, and he did a terrific job and he's proved his point.
I think it was always, I felt, that I would do the captaincy and do the best job in Ireland for me; and with being the right age as well; being involved with the players who are playing on Tour now; getting to know the young players, as well. I need the next 18 months to getting to know a lot of other players as well, and I think it's very important to be on the Tour, as well.
What was the question again? (Laughter). A lot involved in that, talking about age.
Q. The relief of the appointment?
IAN WOOSNAM: Yes, the relief, you're up against Nick Faldo, and I wasn't sure if I was going to -- I think the committee had gone the right way of selecting the captains now. There was a lot of stuff going in the paper and you've got to be invited to be the captain and that's how it should be.
You know, I've tried to keep myself quiet and hopefully I got the job, and it's come through for me. I think, as I said, the committee made the right decision naming two. It would have been very disappointing for one of us to have missed out.
Q. Three-part question. If, if, you were to hit a rich vein of form and you qualified --
IAN WOOSNAM: I'll answer that easily: No.
Q. Well, forget the second question. The third question then, what do you think about playing captains? Your opposite number, Tom Lehman, has gone on record saying he would be a playing captain if he could; is that possible?
IAN WOOSNAM: Only I would say after being involved with Sam Torrance as a vice captain, and seeing how much Sam had to do, I can't see how possibly you can play on the team and be a captain. There's no way; I am going to be the captain and I am not going to be a playing captain and my decision is made now. It's clear, even if I won two major tournaments, which is unlikely.
Q. Why do you say that, is that because this is such an honour?
IAN WOOSNAM: This is such an honor and it needs full attention. And I want to give it my full attention, not -- it would do -- if I was a playing captain, it would do the team no go and it would not do the captaincy any good, either.
Q. How much of an advantage would it be to have a player like Bernhard Langer who was the captain last year to be playing for your team if he qualifies for the Ryder Cup?
IAN WOOSNAM: Well, definitely, Bernhard, if he plays solid this year; he's always a very fit man and a very experienced man, and if he gets close to the Ryder Cup, I would seriously to have think of him of being a pick. Again, I'd be using Bernhard Langer as a stepping stone, using a device, helping him guide me through, as well. Again, with all of the experienced players, I'll be looking at them to give me a bit of a helping hand through the next 18 months.
Q. Can I ask you, how well do you know the generation of players who are going to make up this next team, i.e., Ian Poulter, Paul Casey and Luke Donald?
IAN WOOSNAM: I have to say, I don't know Luke very well because he plays most of his golf in America. I haven't had a chance to play with him yet or speak to him really. But as I say, in the next 18 months, I will get to know these guys a lot more.
I know Ian Poulter well and Casey well. There's a lot of young guys out there. There's always young guys coming out every year on the Tour, and being out there for nearly 30 years, sometimes it's difficult to keep up with the names. But, that's my job and that's what I've got to do and I'm looking forward to helping and giving encouragement to the young players, because it's a big chance to get in the Ryder Cup, it means such a lot to them.
Q. Jamie, can I ask you a question? There was a lot of talk last few weeks there may have been more than two players you were sort of, you know, considering last night; we know that Sandy Lyle's name may have been in the melting pot.
JAMIE SPENCE: Well, yes, you're right. From the start Bernhard Langer's name was mentioned, as well, and Sandy, and others to be honest with you. But you have to whittle it down somehow, and we came down to the two names, Ian Woosnam and Nick Faldo. And just to say that Ian was a unanimous choice from all of the guys on the committee for these Matches. We just felt it was the right time for Ian having been the vice captain, and we are all 100% behind him on this choice.
But obviously with Nick looking over your shoulder and for the man he is, we felt sort of some obligation towards Nick to be honest with you, and we didn't feel it was fair to keep his hanging on. We felt he needed to know, he wanted to know, and we weren't prepared to make him wait.
Q. Just briefly, what was the thought about the guidance process you have to go through to pick two captains?
JAMIE SPENCE: Well, precisely that, because we have two great champions, two former world No. 1s, major winners. And we feel they are the right man for the job, it's as simple as that.
Q. To Jaime, first of all, congratulations, Ian. What was Nick's reaction when you rang him last night?
JAMIE SPENCE: You'll have to speak to George.
GEORGE O'GRADY: Well, contrary to what was written in some papers last week about Nick not being spoken to, he was spoken to at length, just after I think his impromptu conversation on the practice range at La Costa. He had already been sounded out. Both captains had been sounded out; would they serve in 2006 or 2008. He was delighted to get the chance. He spoke through his manager; they are somewhere in Panama I think at the moment in the bush, and the mobile phones were difficult. He was absolutely delighted. He intends to -- he wishes Ian and I think it is all within the press pack which you have got coming here, are his words. He was delighted for Ian, knew he would be a very good captain, gets on well, pledged whatever support he can give, and then he will keep his own counsel until he starts preparing for the 2008 Matches.
Q. Did you speak to him after or before?
GEORGE O'GRADY: I spoke to him on the rainout day -- was that Wednesday? Wednesday by telephone, and then he had a long meeting with Richard Hills at La Costa. And then he was together with his manager last night, but he was actually -- he wasn't physically in the room when we got the phone to him last night.
I think to be precise on the time, was at nine o'clock at night on Wednesday, U.K. time.
Q. Ian, a nine-point win last time, that's going to put a lot of pressure on Europe, isn't it?
IAN WOOSNAM: Definitely. How can you beat that?
I can only just do my job as best I can, get the pairings right, make everybody comfortable and all I can do is get the guys out there, wish them the best and see if they can match them.
I don't care if we halve the match or win by one point or half a point, as long as we win. I'm not trying to beat that record. I just want to win.
GORDON SIMPSON: Well, we're all done, just to say congratulations again, Ian and I think we are all looking forward to The K Club in September of 2006. Thank you.
IAN WOOSNAM: Thank you.
End of FastScripts.