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May 24, 2006

Ian Woosnam


GORDON SIMPSON: Ian, it's a very special tournament at the best of times, the BMW Championship, but for you personally, this is an event that you reach that milestone and join a few of your pals, including Mr. Baker, and this will be your 500th tournament. The first prize that you won was £134.09, so things have changed a little bit down the years.

IAN WOOSNAM: Just a little bit. If anybody wants to help me out with a few quid, that would be very nice.

GORDON SIMPSON: We have Richard Hills here, as you know, our Ryder Cup director, and I think Richard would like to present you with something to commemorate this momentous day.

IAN WOOSNAM: Something else to ponch.

RICHARD HILLS: On behalf of all The European Tour, a momentous journey, 500 not out.

IAN WOOSNAM: I'd like to say thanks very much to The European Tour. It feels more like 5,000, not 500. It's taken me except for the month of September this year, I think it's 30 years I've been professional and it's taken me that long to do 500. Hopefully it won't take me that long to do another 100, anyway.

So thanks very much to The European Tour and everybody who has been involved and who I've traveled with for the last 30 years, a lot of faces I know. I've had some good times, I've had some up and downs and so it's just a pleasure to receive this award. Thanks very much.

GORDON SIMPSON: It's going to be hard to catch, Sam, isn't it, coming up 700, you'll be in your wheelchair by that.

IAN WOOSNAM: Yeah, carry on.

Q. What was that £134 for, where did you finish and what event?

IAN WOOSNAM: You'd have to ask Gordon that.

GORDON SIMPSON: Tied 53rd in the 1979 Italian Open.

Q. Do you remember it?

IAN WOOSNAM: No. (Laughter).

GORDON SIMPSON: Do you remember your first win?

IAN WOOSNAM: I remember my first win at Crans-sur-Sierre in 1992 in a playoff against Bernhard Langer. I think it was a third extra hole. I think he 3 putted to let me win my first tournament.

Q. You mentioned there's been a lot of up and downs. What has been the biggest up and what was the lowest down?

IAN WOOSNAM: Well, obviously the biggest up has been winning The Masters in 1991 and being involved in many Ryder Cups. There have been ups, and the downs has been when I've not played very well; when you think you can play to your ability, and you just don't seem to be able to get your game together.

Obviously over the last ten years or so, nice to win the World Match Play, but I haven't felt I'm able to play to my ability. I think a lot of that has to do with my back, I don't think the flexibility that I used to. It's still nice to be out there playing golf. Again, it's disappointing. I know the shots I want to play and do. I just can't physically do it anymore.

Q. Was it a serious struggle for you early on, can you remember a certain instance where you borrowed money or somebody helped you out that might have changed everything?

IAN WOOSNAM: Yeah, well, in the early days I started with a company called MTM Engineering. I think they gave me £10,000, and well, up to £10,000 and if I earned over £10,000, I give them 50 percent back and that I think that was my starting point.

I think winning a Range Rover in 1981 I think it was or something like that, which is an expensive car at the time I think I paid I give them a car and after that, you know, went on from being just an ordinary golfer to started winning golf tournaments after that.

Q. Is there any one tournament that you feel you should have won that you look back and think you should have had that one?

IAN WOOSNAM: Which one do you think? (Laughter).

Q. Dubai?

IAN WOOSNAM: Dubai? What about the Open?

Q. That's what I was thinking about.

IAN WOOSNAM: Yeah, I've had my opportunities in the Open a few times. I just haven't rolled the putts at the right time. I think that's what you've got to do. In major tournaments, you've got to roll good putts. You've got to hole out well, and I just haven't been able to do that enough times really.

But 2003, it's always going to be a big if; you feel like you lucked in and maybe that might have been the week, but it changed very quickly, my luck.

Q. Keep in touch with the caddie?

IAN WOOSNAM: No. I ask his brothers about him quite a lot. A bit disappointed that he doesn't come back on Tour and give it another shot. I think he's got a wife and maybe got a family now, and he's happy with what he's doing.

Q. Do you have any regrets?

IAN WOOSNAM: Not really, no. I'm a farmer's son. I had a 1 handicap when I turned professional. I was very erratic. A lot of people said I wouldn't make it, got no chance and I think I've been fortunate to stand here winning 45 tournaments around the world. It's been quite a good achievement. Plus, I've enjoyed myself along the way, as well.

Q. Was there a point, struggling at 5 under, you didn't think it was ever going to happen?

IAN WOOSNAM: The question I think I was prequalifying in 1991 at Princess for the Open. I think I shot 67 the first day in the first round and the second round on the 18th, I hit it about ten yards off the tee and it went over the fence and I thought, this is it. And I drove all the way from Deal up to Stropshire and I thought, I'm never going to play golf again.

After a couple of weeks of cooling down, my mom and dad said to me, just give it another try, you haven't given yourself the five years yet. And basically, a few months after that, a year after that, I won a tournament. So it all changed from there.

Q. What do you think of the modern obsession with fitness regimes, diets, coaches, all the stuff that goes on, head coaches?

IAN WOOSNAM: I think obviously once you see some players doing it and if you want to get to that standard, and they are successful at doing it, everybody has got to go along with it.

I think obviously these times and days, professional golf, it's a highly, highly tuned sport and very physical now. If you want to hit the ball a long way, you've got to be very, very fit. I think most probably in the modern time of golf now, being my size is probably gone. You've got to be more like anywhere from five foot ten to six foot four to play this game now I think. I just don't think you can generate the speed. You could look at maybe there will be an exceptional small player, but I think the taller player with the golf clubs are going to hit the ball a lot further now.

Q. Is it a much more interesting game, though?

IAN WOOSNAM: I think with the modern equipment you sort of aim straight and hope it goes straight. When we used to play the game, you used to sort of try to fade it, draw it; there was more a variety of shots. It was more like tee to green and then hope you 2 putted. But now there's such a variety in the game, really.

Q. Do you think you've had more fun than the guys have now?

IAN WOOSNAM: Yeah, definitely. Oh, yeah. You go in the gym for two hours before you go off, play your game of golf, do a bit of practice and then a couple more hours in the gym, I don't think that was for me. (Laughter) I don't think I would have been making it.

Q. You've been on the Tour for a long time, what do you think in historic sense of the standard of golf now, is it as good as it was or better than it was?

IAN WOOSNAM: I think you can look at it two different ways. The equipment has changed such a lot, everybody is working out. As you say, it's a different game all together. I think you've got to look at the way the game is played now and what it was played before. You know, if you watch any of the histories or videos or anything, there has been time where equipment has changed the game completely and we're going through a phase now where the game has just been completely changed.

Q. What do you think about the standard of golf on the Tour today, is it better than when you won the Masters?

IAN WOOSNAM: Well, I wouldn't say so, no. What I would say is that there's more people got a chance of winning these days than what there used to be.

Q. Because of the equipment?

IAN WOOSNAM: Don't get me into that one.

Q. Because of the equipment or because of the new attitude?

IAN WOOSNAM: I think the equipment is so good. With a wooden driver and bladed clubs and other kind of golf balls, it was very difficult to get the ball in the air. Even a wooden club, you get the ball in the air, you would hit it a long way. I think that's why I hit it a long way was because I managed to get the ball in the air and it went a long way with a strong driver. Nowadays the clubs are so big, the clubs just automatically get the ball in the air for you. Everybody has a better chance of scoring better really.

Q. Colin was talking yesterday about the Masters and how the fact that he's not such a long hitter anymore is not necessarily a handicap; he can't drive into some of the trouble that's out there.

IAN WOOSNAM: At the Masters? What trouble? There's no trouble in the middle of the fairway. (Laughter) Masters, you hit the ball if you can hit it 340 yards, it's going to be a huge advantage. You know, tell me, first, second, third, fourth, fifth, seventh, eighth, ninth, you can hit it 340 yards, it's a huge advantage. There isn't any trouble down the middle of the fairway.

Q. Golf being a game of ups and downs, with four months and the Ryder Cup, you're not too concerned about players having injuries or loss of form at the moment?

IAN WOOSNAM: No, I don't think so. I think looking at last week, we have three players doing really well there. You know, Casey, Thomas Björn and Clarke, and other guys making points as well. I think the team is shaping up all right. We're going into a big run of tournaments now. But the guys are going to start playing in their own backyard and they are going to gain confidence.

Q. Are you planning a squad get together?

IAN WOOSNAM: I think everybody's got such a busy schedule, I think it's going to be difficult to do it. I'd like to. It would be nice to do it this week, but everybody is so busy, especially after Monday, it's just left everybody a short time really.

Q. And there would be advantages to do it, there's a purpose to it?

IAN WOOSNAM: Yeah, there would be a purpose to it. I think maybe, you know, because the team is a bit mixed up at the moment, players are all over the place, when maybe some of the other guys from America come over, maybe they will get a chance to do something. But it is difficult at the moment to slop it in.

Q. Still worried about the public speaking?

IAN WOOSNAM: No. Not worried about it at all.

GORDON SIMPSON: I think he's doing all right right now.

Q. I only say that because three months ago you told me you were.

IAN WOOSNAM: Yeah, but I've been practicing (laughter).

Q. Can you explain, do you go for training sessions or did you go for training sessions?

IAN WOOSNAM: No, it's all just part of, you know, you've got the speech written and just practicing and having confidence, and actually doing press conferences and taking to people, you gain confidence by doing it all the time.

Q. Is the speech written?

IAN WOOSNAM: The speech has been written. It's been done for a year.

Q. Which one?

IAN WOOSNAM: Which one? I've only done one at the moment. There are other ones I'll just have to do out of my head.

Q. Are you pleased to see Luke Donald playing here this week, and will you have a chance to speak to him at all?

IAN WOOSNAM: Yeah, I'm glad to see him here. Hopefully he'll play a few more tournaments. Obviously he'll play in the U.S. Open and NEC, but it's nice to see him over here. He might be playing just before the Open as well. I haven't got a chance to see anybody. I only just got here. I was away yesterday. So hopefully I'll get to see Luke through the week and have a chat with him.

Q. Do you encourage him to play as much as he can over here?

IAN WOOSNAM: Well, I will try to, but, you know, he's doing pretty good by himself I think. It would be nice just to come over and play with some of the other guys and just make sure that he knows everybody and just be more social, not sociable, but just being part of the team a little bit more as well.

Q. Sergio's absence is not a concern?

IAN WOOSNAM: Well, we know that Sergio has never played here for a long time and we all know why that is and it's obviously his own business. Yeah, it would be nice to see Sergio at our main flagship tournament. He has other issues why he doesn't here and it just seems very strange. No, he's doing all right.

I haven't seen him doing too well in America lately. Hopefully he'll run into form when the Ryder Cup comes.

Q. Have you a mental picture of the team you want or are you just going to wait to see how it pans out?

IAN WOOSNAM: Well, I have an idea of what I'd like to have, yes. I've just got to wait and see how things pan out because there's a lot of tournaments and money to be won at the moment.

You can see who is in the team at the moment, there's a lot of players on the outskirts of it, and it will be interesting to see for myself and for you to see how it's going to end up in three months' time.

Q. There's quite a lot of players on the fringe, will you seek any of them out or say anything to them?

IAN WOOSNAM: I think I had a few words in the paper the other day. I think some people didn't like it, some people did. Some people responded to it. Some people haven't. But you know, if you don't play in the tournaments and you don't get the points, you're not going to get in the team, and you don't want to be left to be feeling like you're going to get a pick.

Q. A lot of guys looking for picks, and that's going to be a hard choice.

IAN WOOSNAM: That's right. I could have four or five guys that I've got in mind. And I've got to pick two of them, and that could be difficult. None of them's going to be happy. Well, two of them is going to be happy and three is going to be unhappy. But that's part of my job and, you know, it's up to them to get into the team and not really on that.

Q. So you think loyalty to the Tour will play a part in that decision?

IAN WOOSNAM: Did I say that? I think what I'm saying, if you play more in Europe, you've got a better chance of making the team.

Q. But when it comes

IAN WOOSNAM: I'm saying you've got a 50 to 100 percent more chance of making it with Order of Merit points and money by playing in Europe.

Q. But if you're not in the Top 10, will it count against you if you've not shown the same loyalty as some of the others?

IAN WOOSNAM: I will do the best what I think is for the team really.

Q. Previous captains not necessarily from Europe either have actually asked to be paired with certain players, have specifically and perhaps without telling too many people, asked to; have you gone out of your way to do any of that or have you gone out of your way not to do that?

IAN WOOSNAM: I haven't at the moment. I just presumed we had that they would do it. And I found it very strange last week I was playing with two Argentinians, so I have that in mind to make sure I do get to play.

Q. Starting when?

IAN WOOSNAM: Well, I was hoping it was starting this week, but I just haven't had time to get around to asking.

Q. So you're asking now?

IAN WOOSNAM: Yeah, I'm asking now.

Q. Were they nice Argentines?

IAN WOOSNAM: There's always great. (Laughter).

Q. One of your biggest players will be Colin, but he's not in the best of form at the moment. At what point do you get concerned about form of someone as crucial as him?

IAN WOOSNAM: Well, Monty, lately, he's had his up and downs and his downs and he's just having one of his downs. Maybe when he comes around to the Ryder Cup, he'll be having one of his ups again. He obviously seems to get himself up for the Ryder Cup.

Yeah, I'll be talking to Colin. Obviously closer to the time and obviously he's going to make the Ryder Cup, he's pretty well in now, and get his feeling how he feels. You know, I'd have to look at that at the time.

Q. Do you think the U.S. feels like the underdogs this year?

IAN WOOSNAM: No, I don't think so. America is always going to be stronger on paper. I think, you know, because we've won the twice in the last two, and four times out of the last five, that we might have the edge on them.

But on paper, they have always been in World Ranking terms stronger, but we've always been better as a team. And so I expect it to go down to the wire like it has done except for last time. It will be 50/50 who is going to win it, really.

Q. You said nearer the time you would have a chat with Colin how he feels, do you mean about himself or the team in general?

IAN WOOSNAM: But, you know, if he's still in the form he is, he had a second or something not so long ago, just because he's missed a few cuts, I'm not too concerned about it. But if he's playing really poorly at the time, I'll be having a chat to him how he feels his form is. Not to say that he's not playing, but how he feels and whether he'd like to play and whatsoever.

Q. One of the striking things noticeable about American teams is that they don't seem to have played as well on paper as they appeared they should have done. Do you think Tom Lehman may be the most successful captain in recent years in getting the best out of his team?

IAN WOOSNAM: I don't think what he's done already. He hasn't done anything yet, has he?

Q. Well, he's paying a lot of attention to detail; letters in lockers.

IAN WOOSNAM: I know what you mean. Exactly that's what I think's going on. I thought the guy who would have done that would have been Hal Sutton, as well, but obviously Tom has learned from other captains and been on the team a few times. He knows what their team needs. Tom, he's going to be a very difficult captain to beat really. He's going to be really switched on.

Q. Paul Broadhurst, what do you think he has to offer to the Ryder Cup?

IAN WOOSNAM: I think Paul, he's played in the Ryder Cup once and he's got a 100% record I think. So if Paul Broadhurst gets in, he's a doggy player, he won't back down, he's a great match player, he's got a great short game, he putts well, and on his day he can beat anybody. So if Paul Broadhurst makes the team, he'll be up to the task.

GORDON SIMPSON: Well, Ian, hope to see you back here, and congratulations again

End of FastScripts.

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