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September 21, 2006

Ian Woosnam


CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: As I say, "cead mile failte," a thousand welcomes to you all. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, Tom and Melissa, players and partners of the United States Ryder Cup Team, officials of the PGA of America, and of course, you, the fans, those here now and the thousands that will join us over the next three days of competition, not to forget the millions watching on television. They say it could be over a billion.

To each and every one of you, welcome to Ireland, welcome to the 2006 Ryder Cup, and welcome to you, the best golf fans in the world. You have waited a very long time for the Ryder Cup to come to Ireland, and as we all know, Ireland is famous for it's hospitality, and famous for its craic, and for giving us so many great names that have played in the Ryder Cup, who we heard their names earlier on.

On behalf of The European Team, my players and their ladies, my support team, Des Smyth, Peter Baker, Sandy Lyle and David Russell, and all Officials of the European Team, and of course my wife, Glen, I would first and foremost like to thank Dr. Michael Smurfit, staff and members of The K Club for their fantastic work in preparing the outstanding Palmer Course, for this, the 2006 Ryder Cup. Thank you.

I want now to take a moment to pay tribute to a man who has been an inspiration to us all. He has won four Masters titles, two Open Championships, and the U.S. Open and a designer of the golf course we are playing this week, the legend himself, Mr. Arnold Palmer.

(Standing ovation)

Arnold, I'd like to remind you, you've played in many Ryder Cups against two very special Welshmen, Dai Rees and Brian Huggett, and for me now it is a great honour to follow them by becoming the third Welshman to captain a Ryder Cup Team.

This week's venue, The K Club is an absolutely spectacular setting for such an historic match as the Ryder Cup. I would especially like to thank the many volunteers without whom it would not be possible for this match to take place and continue the wonderful traditions which has passed from one generation from another since Samuel Ryder presented this magnificent trophy for competition.

In 1927, Walter Hagen and Ted Ray stood as Ryder Cup Captains for the very first time, and now 79 years later, Tom and I are very proud and honoured to follow them and write another chapter in the history of this great event.

I would like to congratulate all of the players who have played some wonderful golf to make it here this week. They are the best 24 golfers from both sides of the pond. They are fantastic competitors and have the greatest respect for each other. So, gentlemen, we wish you all the best of luck over next three days of competition. Good luck.

Only two years ago, the PGA of America made a smart decision. They appointed Tom Lehman as captain of the 2006 United States Team. Tom is a very wise man, and I know he'll get the very best out of his team this week. Congratulations, Tom, and good luck to you and the United States Team.

This week is all about honour and tradition, sportsmanship and integrity, and like all of the captains and teams before us, we stand here knowing that we are playing with pride and passion for the honour of holding the Cup. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what the Ryder Cup is all about.

Tom, you and I share total respect for the virtues of the true competitive sportsmanship on which the Ryder Cup has flourished for almost 80 years. Now we invite every spectator, every fan to uphold traditions of the game as the eyes of the world focus on our sport, win or lose, we the players, our wives and partners, the officials, and you the fans will join hands to ensure that together we will write another chapter in the history of this incredible game that we all love so much.

As The European Team captain, I now have the honour and privilege to introduce our 2006 team. My vice captains, Des Smyth, Peter Baker, and players, Paul Casey, Darren Clarke, Luke Donald, Sergio Garcia, Padraig Harrington, David Howell, Robert Karlsson, Paul McGinley, Colin Montgomerie, José Maria Olazábal, Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you, and may the best team win.

End of FastScripts.

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