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May 22, 2007
GORDON SIMPSON: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen and welcome to a nice sunny warm Wentworth. It's lovely to see you. Before the BMW PGA Championship gets underway on Thursday, we've got some preliminaries here today, and I'll introduce the top table. First of all, on the far left we have Ryder Cup Director, Richard Hills; six-time major champion and the European Ryder Cup Captain 2008, Nick Faldo, and next to me is George O'Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour. And George, I believe you're going to say a few words to kick us off today.
GEORGE O'GRADY: Thank you, Gordon. Welcome everyone to the BMW PGA Championship. I think a nice way to start the week, we have our board directors of the Ryder Cup Limited here: Philip Weaver, Chairman of the PGA Board; we have representing PGA of America -- the PGA of Europe, Sandy Jones. We wish we had the PGA of America but they are on conference. We said when the two captains were named in Dubai, The European Tour is very lucky, we had great players and great captains to choose from. And I firmly believe the policy chosen by our Players Committee to announce two captains at the same time; in this case, Ian Woosnam for Ireland, and now Nick Faldo, was the right policy and we are very fortunate to have such a great captain.
It's my pleasure to introduce Nick Faldo.
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Thank you, George. Well, welcome. This is very different for me to be -- normally I'm sitting up here, birdies and bogeys, but I guess that's kind of changed now.
So this is, as George says, my first press conference. I thought I'd like to keep you all up to speed. As you can imagine I've already started thinking of things and thought this was a great opportunity to here at Tour headquarters, our BMW PGA Championship, and as you can imagine I'm extremely honoured at this position I have, and really looking forward to the whole experience of the next, what, 16 months to go to the event.
And so really I thought I would break the news right now that what I've decided to do is have at this present time two, Vice Captains Designate, is the word. Two guys that I feel I have good chemistry with. And one is mainly based and playing in America and one is mainly based and playing in Europe, and I know that was very important for me to have good eyes and ears close to the ground, good feedback so we can discuss things so that will the players will know and we'll start opening up communication lines with the players later on.
But to have two players of their character and playing stature, I think is very important for me.
Q. Who are they?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Yeah, I know, you just want to get to the bottom line. You don't want the spiel, do you?
One thing I do want to stress is the two players are still currently -- their No. 1 goal is to make the Ryder Cup Team, and I'm in full support of that and if they do both do, well, then fine, I'll go back to the woods and come up with a couple more names.
All right, without further ado, the one man who has an incredible record and brings to the team will bring to me great passion for the Ryder Cup and incredible determination -- and I don't know where he got that passion and determination from. It may have had something to do with his incredible record he had playing with Seve Ballesteros in his 15 matches he won 11 times, losing only twice, halving two. Ollie (José Maria) Olazábal. Where is he? In the wings -- he's late. It's all about timing.
I guess that would help, need to make a note, if the team are all present in the crit before I announce them. Okay, I'll make a note of that. (Laughter) Well, he's still putting you know what he's like. He's still got to get a thousand putts in.
(José Maria Olazábal enters room).
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Do you still have a couple more putts?
JOSÉ MARIA OLAZÁBAL: Yes, I love my practise.
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: And No. 2, more in the vein of -- am I giving my diplomat as part of the team, already had a couple of chats with this fellow and to get some good inside information, because I haven't competed in the Ryder Cup the last ten years, and this gentlemen came up with a very good point.
When I was thinking of who I wanted as my vice captain, you know, the players today who they look to very much this era, rather than the eras from the captains of past, he's a three-time Ryder Cup player and holed an unbelievable magnificent putt at The Belfry: In the green corner Paul McGinley.
(Paul McGinley enters room.)
GORDON SIMPSON: I think we'll give the two guys a chance to say a few words and since they have joined us on the podium, Jose Maria, what are your feelings on being invited by Nick?
JOSÉ MARIA OLAZABAL: Well, obviously it's a great feeling but he knows that my intentions are to be part of the team as a player. But always it's nice to be named by Nick to help him in any area that he needs me to. And, well, I think we do have a few more months ahead of us and we'll see how things develop.
I'm pretty sure that we'll be keeping all of our eyes and ears open just to hear things and from the players and try to give Nick some information about possibilities or what players are thinking. That's pretty much going to be our job I think.
GORDON SIMPSON: And Paul?
The thing is, obviously, what a great honour it is to be picked by Nick. We all know his record and how much in high esteem he's held and how much he thinks about the game, and to be picked as part of this team is a great honour.
But obviously the main thing I want to do I've played the last three and I want to play in this one, just as Ollie does, as well. I've been very fortunate, I've played three Ryder Cups, won all three, two by record margins, three great captains. I've learned a hell of a lot, but I still feel I've got a few more Ryder Cups in me and my first objective obviously to make the team. That's what I've been endeavouring to do.
I'm obviously thrilled that I'm going to be involved one way or the other and I'm obviously there to help in any way I can.
GORDON SIMPSON: Well, there's an opportunity to ask questions to any of the five gentlemen to my left here.
Q. To both of you really, because you want to play in this thing, did you think long and hard about whether to take this step -- even, Ollie, you've turned it down in the past haven't you?
JOSÉ MARIA OLAZABAL: Yeah, but I'm getting older, too. (Laughter).
Yeah, it's a possibility but I think it's pretty clear to me, to Nick, that you know, if we can make the team, that's our first priority as Paul said, I think we still have a chance. But know, there's a second possibility there. Well, it's nice to have that one, too.
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, I did think about it. It a few weeks for me to call about what my decision was going to be. I asked some people and got some advice, and one thing I didn't want to do was lose focus. My fear was losing focus on my own game and I had to think it through that it wasn't going to take away from my driving focus on making this next Ryder Cup Team. And once I got that right in my head, I was more than delighted to go ahead and make the decision and as I say, I'm very proud and looking forward to it but most important of all I'll be doing my best to make the team.
Q. Obvious question to the follow-up question: If you do make the team, do you have a short list of guys?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Yeah, I've got Maurice Flitcroft at No. 1.
GORDON SIMPSON: He's deceased.
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Poor, fellow, yeah.
We'll take it as we go. We've got tons of time. Most important thing I wanted; as I said, I wanted to get valuable, up to the minute, as in the last Ryder Cups, what these guys felt, how their captains performed, take things, the positives and negatives, whatever. That's really why I wanted two current guys and I think that as we say, yeah, I fully support them making the team. If they don't then that's also equally important for the fellow players who they are with to know that these guys are current I think I felt that was very important for me.
Q. The obvious follow-up is if you're looking for a captain, will you be fighting over it?
PAUL McGINLEY: It won't be me. I think Ollie's going to be a great captain in the future. He's won major championships and he'd been an absolutely fabulous captain. We're very fortunate over in Europe; we've had some great captains lining up one after the other.
It's no secret who the next few captains -- it's a good bet that Ollie is going to be a captain soon, and a wonderful captain he'll be. But in 2010, I'll still be very much playing and he's too modest to say that.
JOSÉ MARIA OLAZÁBAL: I've always said that I don't know what the future will bring, but I think that a couple of guys ahead of me that should be in the team as a captain.
If my day comes, you know, I'll think about it. All through these years I've had wonderful experiences in the Ryder Cup. I know there is a lot of pleasure and a lot of work involved as a captain and you know, I guess it will be nice to be one day captain of the team. But, you know, time will tell.
Q. Your thoughts, do you see them as two future captains?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: I think they have got good possibilities. See how they perform.
Q. What happens next year if these two lads are both sort of 11 and 12 on the order sort of end of August and they are battling to keep their places; that going to affect how they operate for you?
JOSÉ MARIA OLAZÁBAL: No pressure.
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: I posed this to Seve. If the guys want to put their head down; if they ever felt that their duties -- really, it's just feedback at the moment. That's the way I envisage it. Obviously it's my responsibility to make the final decisions on so many things. But it's very important to have guys of this stature to be able to run things by. But I can't imagine it will. That's what I already talked to Paul about. I can't imagine it getting in the way of teeing it up each week. I have no intentions of doing that. I hope we can just keep it, you know, the communication as simple as that.
Q. Team spirit is something that Europe has been associated with ever since you started having success; is it something that you think happens naturally or do you have to work at it?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Well, a lot of credit goes to Tony Jacklin and Seve. I was there in the transition, which was a wonderful period. '83 was an incredible Ryder Cup. It was that moment when Seve walked in and said, "let's celebrate," and we had just lost a point and we were all feeling pretty down. But you can imagine when Seve says, "This is a victory for us; that was an incredible turnaround for us."
And then Tony then took the ball by the horns again and again. You know that, period was fantastic. I think that's what really, you know, as Tony says when he first went to Muirfield Village, we had our own units down there on the first fairway. He said, we are going to live, sleep, breathe golf together this week. I think that was probably the foundation of what we now have in our team -- in our team room which is obviously very special the way that guys come in and lay their hearts on their sleeves and their emotions and come out there and we're all part of it for that week.
Q. Having chosen them for this role, would it make it a little more difficult for to you choose them as wild-cards or easier?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: I don't know, if they are 11 and 12, it's a simple choice, and at least I get them to back me up as well. (Laughter) I won't get anybody fighting. We shall we. We shall see.
Q. Given Paul's penchant for leaving it until the last minute, qualifying for the team, I mean, would that cause any --
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: I think it would be more fun if one is 11 and one is 13 and 14, and then they have got to argue over who is going to make it or not. That will be very interesting. One in one out.
Q. Good meetings.
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Yeah, good meetings.
Q. It's probably not a factor and you have your choices, how far down would you have the courage to go?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Very difficult to say, Hoppy. I currently believe the current golf weight would have a little bit more of my vote. If somebody stormed through the last four months and he's obviously playing extremely well and you can see the look in their face and their eyes that that's their goal is their intention to be there, maybe rather than the guy who has just gone steady, he's still there. So far me, I have no idea how far down I could go. Really, you can't really say but if somebody makes a very late move, that is the current golfer, he's the guy on form and depending on his person, his personality, that will be a great call to have to make.
Q. But you don't fear making a difficult decision?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: No, of course not. I think that's the most important thing that you can have time to weigh things up and I'll go with my gut feelings at the end of the day. And if I believe it, well, that's the best I can do.
I have to make the final decision, if these gentlemen are around or obviously whatever position they are in, they will be in part that have decision as well. We will weigh it over and welcome up with -- but surely the captain is the one who has to be the one who says this is my decision.
But you know, you will be making it an absolute hundred per cent belief that it's in the absolute best interests of the team. So if that's my goal, ten, you know, I'm going to make good decisions and I may make some bad ones. But if you go in with a clear intention of doing that, can't do anymore.
Q. You've always been very much your own man as a player. As a captain, are you going to be a sort of captain by committee, are you going to take a lot of soundings by players and former captains? What's the Nick Faldo captain going to be like?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Well, this is the whole point of exactly what I'm trying to say now. I've already met with Paul, and you know, that was good to get great insight on what the current golfers are all about. I intend to be absolutely hands-on. I've got a great opportunity at the Seve trophy in September. I'll have to get the stats but I guess it must be pretty darned close to the team, the team, Ryder Cup Team will be in that room on those two teams, pretty darned close to everybody.
So that's going to be a great opportunity for me to me to get to know them, them to get to know me. I've already started making their time to spend with other players. I've spent a little bit of time with Henrik Stenson already. I mean, that's what I intend to do, is to really get to know the guys over this -- I need to know their characters as best I can and as we finally get down to the countdown the last few months we will be assessing games and potentials and I'm sure that will be part of the fun of it.
Q. Does part of you almost think -- coming on the back of two huge European victories, so if Europe wins now, well they always win now, if they don't win then, you're the first not to win; you are coming off two huge wins.
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: I'm not thinking that way, we're not going to win. We have, you know, the potential we have, the team we have, it's -- I have a very simple goal what I want to achieve when I go there. I want my team to win. Simple as that. That's the No. 1 goal we're going to go with.
And I will concentrate on that.
Q. Can you explain why the United States have fallen so fall short in the last couple?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: I don't know. We've been able to -- as you know, the momentum is a very important part of Ryder Cup, and we've been able to ride that wave and it was fascinating for me -- I worked last year with this guy, to see the momentum in five minutes is quite amazing. You see one team will hole all the putts and will win all those holes or whatever. And then five minutes later, it can swing the other way.
And I think that is something I don't know if we can -- that's down to the guy, their drive, their determination and everything is how to -- if the Americans go on a momentum surge, well, you've got to be able to respond. And that's exactly what we've been able to do. And then if America tried to come back in the past, well, the counter act has been quite incredible. I was quite fascinated watching it to see how it can fluctuated. You can sit there and look, we're winning in all four matches and we're up and then one minute literally four holes later, you only move in time in ten minutes, you lose all four holes and bang. Completely changes the leaderboard.
So that's part of the ebb and flow of the Ryder Cup isn't it. You can't control -- we can be aware of it. We all know how important that is.
Q. Following on from that, the Americans showing how concerned they are by changing their selection and four captain's picks and all of that, being over there, do you have a sense of how desperate they are?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: I wouldn't say desperate, no. I know Paul Azinger shares the passion, which is great. He is going to do the best I can. I believe he's already had a meeting with past captains. And he's in discussion as we know, he has a good reputation -- not reputation, association with a lot of players on Tour, as I know from his phone. He's always got somebody calling him.
So we will definitely command respect among the players and I think he's definitely going to inspire them again. So we know it's going to -- I think for me it's very important that we know this next one, we'll be starting again from scratch. We'll be starting again from zero. Yes, we will go over there as favourites. I'm sure that's probably one of the things the team will have to deal with.
But it's equally, I feel that Zing is going to inspire -- what was I going to say. Oh, yeah, we will start from scratch. We will not go over there with any preconceived ideas or anything. I want the team to basically come back down-to-earth and start again. This is another very important Ryder Cup for them, for the Tour, and the record books.
Q. Do you think by the time you tee up next September, you will see at least one European Tour, European major winner? Do you see that as part of your role in the bigger picture to help that happen in your work over the next 18 months?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: I don't know how I can make that happen in the next -- prior, but you never know, but you know darned well they are trying hard enough. I think the experience that they are getting is invaluable.
It takes time. We kind of forget. I came out, I was right in there -- in fact, I think I led after 27 holes at St. Andrews in '78. It takes me 12 years later before -- or something like that, nine years later before I win my first major. So it's -- golf is very much part of climbing the ladders and comfort zones and that sort of thing.
And obviously now, as soon as somebody comes out and has potential we go well, he can win; oh, you haven't done it, when is it going to happen. The players are under an awful lot of pressure right now to perform.
Q. Do you see that as part of your role to talk about things like that?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Well, that's kind of an outside -- yeah, I am even in a non-captain role, always open and available if somebody wishes to come and have a chat with me. I had a chat at THE PLAYERS Championship with David Howell just to get my -- pick my brains for a while. I'm more than happy to do that.
Q. Is the importance of selecting Paul and Ollie today, is that a reflection that you feel slightly divorced from the players who are likely to make the team?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: I wouldn't say divorced from the players, no. I think I know exactly what's going on with the players. I think it's more that, divorced the fact that my last Ryder Cup was '97, you know, so time has gone on and obviously things have changed. Players are now wearing Spandex and big buckles and white belts, and this is all going to be different for me, the days of the old cashmere's cape are hopefully over. In fact, that's one of my first duties this afternoon, we're going to already start on having some preliminary look at clothing. So my duties have now started.
No, I think that's the most important thing is to get the -- I feel in my role, actually it now as being analyst, I feel I have a better and closer relationship with players on the range because you know if I want to go down there, I haven't got a bag of clubs and guys are much more readily available to chat.
Q. Do these appointments help you to continue the amount of TV work that you're doing next year or does that change because it's Ryder Cup year?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: No, the TV commitments will stay the same as you know with TV, I have got scores coming out my ears. I can watch it as far as I like. Great feedback that way. No, it's more, it's more with a goes on behind the scenes and the feelings and that sort of thing, not so much of the obvious of results. I mean, you can see that.
But you know, the guys are going to go and play, points start September, they are going to run -- nothing is going to happen for the last six months or so and we'll slowly get do you know to the last four months and then the heat is on.
Q. Will it help being an analyst on the course?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Of course, very much. I think I can make very quick observations.
Q. I know I don't believe what I read in the papers but is there some pleasure in seeing that poll in the American magazine about you and Johnny Miller, or is it all a lot of nonsense?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Well, I don't know, that's a nice poll, it's from the professionals, from the Tour, and it's simple as that, it's very nice to know. I feel a -- call it the way I see it and I really have no intention to get personal with the guys but they know darned well they hit a lousy shot, I'll say it's lousy. But at least I'll try to say it in a formative way. That was very nice to search so quickly, over the couple of years I've been involved as analysts.
So I equally respect them. I still know, I think that's the important -- I still know you will miss a green with a wedge in your hand and you'll still skull one and you'll still do that. They are making golf courses more and more difficult all the time I think any time you expect guys to hit the tough shots just as a normal shot -- so I still really understand what it felt like to hit a good one and a bad one.
Q. Just following on from that, you said that as an analyst you call it as you see it, is your position as a captain compromised if next year some European player in contention struggles a bit and you have to be critical as a commentator; is that difficult?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: It might be. I might also be complimentary. That might be worrying, wouldn't it. Am I allowed? It usually goes both ways, doesn't it.
As I said, I have a start of being made critical or observing whatever so I can't imagine that.
Q. The point I'm trying to make is that captains usually, if one of his intentions was starting to struggle, take him aside quietly and say it quietly; but you're doing it in a very public arena.
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: That is a very important role for me, as well. As I said, I think the Seve Trophy is going to be a great opportunity. That's when the points have just started and get to know the guys. Yeah, I agree with that. I want to have -- I don't want anybody in the dark. You know, if I have a player who I want on the team and I feel he's struggling, and if I feel I have a good enough relationship, important thing to have a relationship, some players may not want many my opinion to be bold and go out, just because I'm Ryder Cup Captain I think you should try this or do this. We've got to know each other. I'm not going to bowl in unless I'm invited.
But certainly I will be -- I want the best. I want my best team, I want my strongest team. I think we always witness that when we were playing in a team. You know, would you help your fellow pros. You know next week we're teeing it up with them but that one week if you see something in his swing and say, well, just a little bit of this, a little about the of that; well, thanks mate. For that one week you're going to give as much advice and help and pulling for your teammates. And yes, as a captain that would be my intention.
Q. How soon will you be having a conversation with Paul Azinger about the tenor and tournament you want the Ryder Cup to be played in?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Yeah, we've already done that. We actually flew back literally at the end of our ABC career together; we flew back on a flight together and started talking Ryder Cup.
I think we both kind of initially mutually agreed that we would like to have, and the media team around us, that has to be a captains' agreement on how many vice captains you have and helpers and we're both agreeing on that. We already talked about the party side, or the official functions and unofficial functions, that sort of thing. Obviously he took on board my thoughts because obviously he presents it to their PGA; they are hosting this event.
So, yes, we have already talked on that. I think, yeah, it's very important to both of us that we are furiously competitive on the golf course, but off the golf course, I think that, you know, we want to all be standing around together at a barbeque at the end of it, saying what an experience that was. I think it's very important for both of us it is a very important experience for both teams. Obviously there's going to be a winning team and a losing team but my goal is I just want it to be an experience that we'll remember for the rest of our lives.
Q. How different would your rapport with Paul be had you not sort of spent that time together at ABC?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Yeah, good point. He had his opinions on me and I had my opinions on him. But obviously when you spend time together and we traveled together and dinner and what have you; it was a great experience for me. I think it really was. I think I have now come from a very individual career, and then I've now had three years of being really part of a team, with ABC and now CBS and now GOLF CHANNEL.
So I'm now surrounded with many people and part of the team environment where we are pulling for each other and no egos and nobody trying to be the hero. I think that is part of the change in my life, as well, coming out of being a golfer and this is a transition for me as well.
Q. But in terms of you and Paul, do you think it's beneficial for the tone of the matches?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Oh, yes, I think we know how far we can push each other and I think that will be half the fun. There will be a few below the belt, but hopefully we'll go and have a pint about it afterwards, as well.
Q. Just following on from your analyst of things, how encouraged are you by the progress of some of the European guys?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: I do watch very closely. Sometimes they won't even make TV which is quite a shame. Some weeks we've got Poulter all in pink in San Diego and he finished eighth or something and didn't even make two minutes. No, I take all of it on board.
I am watching very closely how the guys play and relate it to myself of, you know, you can be at an event but what effort does a guy make on the weekend and that sort of thing.
So, yeah, I've taken all that have on board and yes, you're right, they are all getting more comfortable in America. It is very different from the obvious of different grasses to different style golf courses and what-have-you, but it's a different lifestyle. But the guys are really making a big push there now.
Q. Is it cast in stone that if Ollie and Paul don't make the team that they are your vice captain?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: If they don't -- yes. This is my -- well, they call them designates. If they don't make the team, yes, we are the three.
Q. After talking to Paul, it's well known that Tiger has said that he thinks there are too many social events that week. Are you sensing that there's an impression coming to you that he would like to cut back on some of the social events?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Yeah, obviously we know that from the moment the teams arrive to Friday morning, there's an awful lot going -- that's literally a week, literally a week of official functions, official this, unofficial that, all sorts of things. We're very conscious of that. So we will -- yeah, we've already talked about keeping that a little bit lighter.
Q. So they might be changing a little bit?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: I don't know, that's still down to them. I can voice my opinion. I'm sure that as we move on and start talking officially, then maybe, you know.
Q. We've done well the way it is.
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Done well, exactly.
Q. How often do you envisage going to Valhalla before the week, and will you try and replicate the trip that Tom Lehman did with his team to The K Club?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Not sure. I'm sure there will be an official trip probably.
RICHARD HILLS: October.
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: We have an official trip to Valhalla in October and then I'll do a good reccy then and then if -- yeah, I will be probably we're thinking I'm sure there will be another one, because obviously it's very important to me, the players' route literally from hotel to first tee; that's the most important thing for me. So that they know everything is set up, that we have our rooms, everything, that sort of thing, what we need.
So there's plenty of opportunities. I'm not sure about what we need. I've got to look at the schedule and see how we do that because obviously there will be players already over in America more than likely. I believe that it's a week after the last --
GEORGE O'GRADY: One week after THE PLAYERS, there will be five going there for one day.
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: You've got the FedExCup, haven't you, and then a week off and then the Ryder Cup. So more than likely, guys will be around and we will see. It will be great to have a bonding time I'm sure.
Q. Do you worry about that schedule going into the match that it will be very draining?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: If they have got a week off, I think that's an important thing. A week off after.
Q. Has that changed, George? Because it was back-to-back.
GEORGE O'GRADY: The week after the Mercedes Championship in Germany, and then British Masters and then Ryder Cup. THE TOUR Championship, there's 30 players. I think the U.S. Team might worry, as well. I think a lot of our teams have committed to Mercedes, as well. TOUR Championship competes with Mercedes, and then British Masters and then Ryder Cup.
GORDON SIMPSON: Thank you very much for your attendance.
End of FastScripts