August 30, 2006
SCOTT CROCKETT: Okay. I think everyone is in and settled. Ian, thanks very much for coming in as always. Just before we get underway, Ian is here as Ryder Cup Captain, we know that, but he's also here to play in the BMW International Open. He's doing this interview here for everybody, as you see everybody is in here, so anybody can ask questions here for the week, and that will be it. Ian will next speak to us officially on Sunday night, so this is your chance, as they say.
Ian, just kick us off, obviously an exciting week for you and you must be looking forward to it.
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Yeah, I am. I think over the last two weeks, I've been watching the golf very closely, and, you know, there is a scenario how many people can qualify for this Ryder Cup, and there's a queue of players who are on my list to qualify or be picked as the two extra picks to make up the team.
But as Scott just said, I'm not going to talk about any player individually because I think it's very unfair to try and talk about one individual player. What I want to do is let them guys go out and play their best and on Sunday night, I will choose them two players, and also, we've got to wait and see what happens. You know, there's people that can pass other players, people can drop down. So, you know, the team is not ten players that were already in, there could be a change already. So it is a unique situation I'm very much in at the moment.
Q. You've seen that the Americans were over at The K Club as the start of the week. Have you felt any need to get the boys together, or is it a case of them catching up on the team bonding?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I think Tom Lehman is doing the best he possibly can to get the team bonded for them and obviously got a few rookies on the team there. I think he's done a terrific job to get all 12 of them together and to fly over from the states, play two days at The K Club and then fly back and play in another tournament. He's done a wonderful job. Obviously they are all out to, you know, get the trophy back.
Q. You talk about you've got a queue of players you're looking at, how many people on that queue?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Well, it can be up to a dozen, can't it. We all know, as I said, I'm not going to answer or talk about one individual player, but I think we can all work it out. It might not be a dozen, but there is a lot of players. Someone wins this tournament, comes into the frame, he comes into the frame. There's a lot of money to be played for this week.
Q. Just to go back to the second part of my question, have you got the boys together or have you felt the need or do you feel that the team spirit amongst the European players is inherent, anyway?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: We've always had team spirit. Obviously we're going to be there on Monday and with the guys playing in different places, it's difficult to get everybody together. I think that's been one of the challenges this year; that we haven't been able to get together. As you ask people to come to dinner, where do you go down to, the top 20; do you go down to the top 30? As I said in Augusta, we've got so many good players that we can almost make up two teams now, and I think that's the strength of The European Tour.
Q. You may not like this, may not want to answer this, but can you please say whether this is a possible scenario of naming Darren and one other, and having one in reserve if he didn't want to play?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: As I said, it isn't possible to answer that question. All I said, all I've heard is that Darren is available to play in the Ryder Cup and I'm not going to answer that question because I don't want to talk about any individual. It is a possibility. He is a possible, yes.
SCOTT CROCKETT: The question was, when did you hear that?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I heard that last week apparently. Is that good enough? (Laughter) I'm just reading what I see in the paper, really.
Q. Can you clarify the Darren situation then, was it something that somebody told you, that he was available?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I said I was not going to talk about any individual player. I just said what I just said. I'm not going to talk about anybody because I think it's unfair.
Q. One of the issues for the Americans has been team bonding, do you think that advantage has been effectively wiped out by the way he's gotten everybody together and gotten Tiger to cross the Atlantic?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I don't think so. It all depends what happens when the Matches are actually being played. We'll see if that bonding has come together or not. At the moment we can only speculate that that's what he's trying to do and we'll have to see the result when we play in the matches.
Q. Is this really sort of your job in the next few weeks?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: It's definitely part of my job. I've only got a goal along the lines of what the other captains have done and say the positive things of what happens in the matches before and keep our bonding together like we always have been.
They have always known the need to get more bonding together and that's what they are trying to do. We've got to look at, you know, they are trying to do that because they have got four rookies in there who has never played on the team before and they need the experience from the players that played in the Ryder Cup before to get to know the other players and get to know what the Matches are all about.
Q. Making your picks on Sunday night, how does this sort of rank in terms of pressure with other decisions you've made in your sort of golfing career?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I think it's going to be one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I've got a lot of good friends out there, a lot of friends I've been with I know who are desperate to be on the team. But at the end of the day, I feel I've got to pick the right two players who I think is going to be strongest for the team.
Q. How does your week look like here, you're playing yourself, do you have time to concentrate on tournament here or are you just running around looking for the guys?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: No, I'm here to play golf as well, but obviously I'm here to see what's going on. I'm playing with Luke Donald this week. I asked to be paired with Luke Donald because I haven't played with him and I'd like to get to know him a little bit better. It's been a good choice that I have the opportunity to play with Luke.
But I didn't want to play with any of the other players who were in contention because as I said, I want to let them get on with their own game and let them do the best they can and then on Sunday night, you know, at least I can just get on and pick the two players.
Q. Can you tell me how many players, you said you have 20 or 30 good enough to play, how many players got kitted out for uniforms as potential players, and also, perhaps you can talk about Tiger winning four in a row, how much of a galvanizing effect is he going to have on the Americans?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I think the question, how many have I kitted out, I can't really say that. I don't really know to tell you the truth. I think at the time of the PGA, you know, there might have been 20 people playing, but then there's other players that come into it and they might have been kitted out, so I can't really go into how many.
But coming back to Tiger, it's a massive achievement, four tournaments in a row, it's incredible. They are going to be standing there knowing they have the best players in the world and the second best player in the world. But in the end of the day, it's a match play competition, and that's a bet to go straight through the window really.
Q. How lonely is this position you find yourself in now, or you do bounce ideas off Des Smyth and Peter Baker?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I spoke to Des Smyth last week and I speak to Peter quite a bit. Peter will be with my Sunday night, and we'll be making a phone call to Des on Saturday night asking for his ideas. It's a difficult situation, and at end of the day, it's my choice and it's my decision whoever I pick. It is difficult.
Q. If I may ask you just a little bit from left field, you said you don't want to talk about individual players, but Jose Maria is not playing this week so you're not going to put him under any pressure by saying anything. Are you surprised he's not here?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: He wants to do what he wants to do. He obviously doesn't feel like this is one of his favourite golf courses. I must say he's left himself a little bit vulnerable, and he knows the situation. But that's his decision. I respect that.
Q. Do you have an idea now of the two players do you have a top two in your head going into this tournament, and how important does this tournament play as playing under the pressure of the last event going to be to your decision making?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Yeah, I think this tournament is very important because you know, there's so many players on the edge, and I think a good performance this week could change it for a lot of people.
Q. So if it was going to be decided today, you wouldn't
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: If I had to decide today, yes, I most probably know who I would pick. But as I said, there's a big tournament to come this week.
Q. Today you are playing with one of Germany's most famous sportsmen, Michael Greiss, just won three Olympic gold medals, do you know something about him?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: No. No. I only try to go to the sunshine. I try to get out of the cold. (Laughter.)
I always look forward to playing with obviously a superstar and hope his golf is good. That's all I ask.
Q. You're playing just ahead of Bernhard Langer I believe on Thursday. Will you be seeking any advice from him at all this week? Have you spoken to him yet?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: No, not really, no. I think I'll just go along the lines with what I feel myself, Des and Peter Baker. I'm quite happy with the lines I'm going down at the moment. I've spoken a little bit to Sam Torrance. That's about it, really. I've got to make my own choices.
Q. You mentioned about getting to know Luke Donald a bit better. Are there other players on the team you want to get to know better before the Matches?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Luke has played most of his golf in America and I haven't really had a chance to get to know him that well over the last three or four months, I've spoken to him a few times. But actually I've never played with him. I've obviously watched him on the television a lot. We all know he's a sound player, very steady player, world class player, but, no, I haven't had the chance to actually play with him myself.
Q. Who else have you played with?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Almost all of the guys who are in at the moment, I've played with almost all of them.
Q. Did Sam have any particular advice for you to pass on to you? Did he pass anything on to you?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Just trust your heart, really, and you'll make the right decision in the end of the day.
Q. Tom Lehman has done various things culminating to the The K Club. What's the most beneficial productive thing you've done with the team to now, and do you think the work really starts this Sunday building up to the K Club?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I think so. It starts next Monday really, because I haven't been able to put a full team together because it's changed a lot in the last few weeks and the last few months. I'll be glad when it's all done and dusted on Monday and Sunday night. And from there on, I can get on and move things forward to the Monday when we get to the Ryder Cup.
Q. Do you have anything planned in your head, what you're doing to do with them on Monday, are you going to make calls, get a team bonding session?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: It would be nice, but as I say, people are all over the place playing, so that's going to be difficult. If they have the opportunity to get a week off or something to go and play at The K Club, that would be fantastic. That we very nice if they could go and just get a couple of practise rounds in, it's not far to go. That's all I can ask for them, really. We've always got there on a Monday, we've always done well, gelled together really well, bonded well, I can't really see us doing anything different from there.
Q. How different is the course going to look to the one we're used to seeing at the European Open?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I don't think it's going to be much different, maybe a little bit narrower in certain places. We put a couple more trees in, a couple more bunkers, but very similar to what is usually is played at The K Club.
Q. With Tom Lehman's two wild cards he very much had in mind what the team needed in terms of foursomes, straight hitting, something like that; how much does that factor into your thinking, partnerships?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Yeah, that's a good point. I'll have to look at that. Obviously the golf course is very long, especially if it's going to be wet. But also, you've got to be straight. And I can see that Tom has gone for Stewart Cink, a very long hitter and fairly straight as well and I think he proved his point.
But then you have Scott Verplank, he's a good putter, he's not the longest in the world, but he's very straight. You can see he's trying to fit him into a foursomes pair, really. As I say, there's lots for me to think about.
Q. I don't think any Germans player are in the queue; as the Ryder Cup Captain, do you see any German players who can follow in the footsteps of Bernhard Langer?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I think what he's asking is are there going to be any German players in the future going to play in the Ryder Cup. Of course there's always someone coming up. At the moment, you know, you've got a few Germans, but they haven't been present for a Ryder Cup place at the moment but I'm sure in the future there will be players from all over Europe going to be more on the Ryder Cup Team.
Q. A lot of the players who are on the team or on your list have had pretty patchy years, really. Does that complicate things for you when this comes to picking?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: You know, it's difficult. Stroke play is stroke play. When it comes to match play, it's a different competition. I think we've gone into other matches where the guys have not been playing well and we've come out winning. And I think, you know, it's a different kind of beast all together playing in the Ryder Cup. And it's all about as we said, bonding, friendliness, being a team, and that's getting each other excited and playing together and pulling our strengths together to fetch the best out of each player, and I believe that's ultimately what will happen at The K Club.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Ian, thank you very much for coming in today. Good luck in the tournament and good luck on Sunday night.
End of FastScripts.