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May 20, 2008

Nick Faldo

George O'Grady


SCOTT CROCKETT: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for your attendance today. The BMW PGA Championship is a very special golf event, but of course, we have another very special one coming up in four months time. We are delighted to welcome European Ryder Cup Team Captain, Nick Faldo to join us today, obviously on the table with me, as well, is Richard Hills, Ryder Cup Director, and George O'Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour.
I'd like to start by asking George just to say a few words to kick us off and then we'll move into some questions from the floor. Thank you, George.
GEORGE O'GRADY: Thank you, Scott. Just a word of welcome to everyone today to join us for our flagship event here at Wentworth. I think this conference in Ryder Cup years is traditional where The Ryder Cup Captain makes himself available. In this case, I think we are fully appreciative of Nick, of course, has most of his life in the United States and he's come in for the day to have a look around at how this tournament has moved since he used to win it all the time himself and to attend our dinner tonight as one of our guests of honour.
So with that, from our side, when you've finish with Nick, we'll answer any questions on the organisation of The Ryder Cup if it's necessary, but without that, this is his press conference, and Nick, it's all yours.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Okay. We'll take some questions.
NICK FALDO: Throw yourselves.

Q. Where do you stand on the position of vice captains at the moment? When are we going to hear something?
NICK FALDO: I haven't got anything to tell you yet, no.

Q. Can I get your take on the way the qualifying is at the moment and are you particularly pleased to see Sergio coming back to form?
NICK FALDO: Yeah, obviously Sergio made a massive leap. You know, I've got the team here in front of me, and you know, I think we have 16 more events to go from now, so still plenty of time for players in and out. There's going to be a lot of moment going on, so really this is the part that's out of my control.
I'm obviously going to be looking from the British Open on. Obviously my two picks is very much from there. I will just about do every event, so I can get firsthand, and will assess what those two players are going to be, to add to what I will be given for the team.

Q. Earlier in the year, Padraig Harrington suggested there may be six rookies on the team this year, but quite a few experienced players have come to the fore; how pleased are you to see Darren Clarke come back into form?
NICK FALDO: Yeah, it was great, probably more so for what Darren has been through off the golf course; for him to come back very emotional and you know, he's been trying hard, hasn't he. He's had a full schedule, and I'm sure, I got a quick glimpses of that, saw the putt. And obviously I congratulate Darren on his efforts.

Q. Says a lot about his character that he was able to do that.
NICK FALDO: Well, what he showed at The K Club was character beyond belief, wasn't it, really.

Q. Was that something that made you say, "I'd like a bit of that in my team"?
NICK FALDO: "I'd like a bit of that?"

Q. A bit of that character.
NICK FALDO: Well, I'm sure in the past, the character of the 12 guys has always been pretty impressive.

Q. Some previous captains have said there is a point in the table below which they will not consider players for a wildcard. Do you have any views on that?
NICK FALDO: I haven't drawn that line yet to be honest. As I was saying, I think it's really -- as I said it's really going to heat up from the British Open on. Those last six weeks are going to be really important, and obviously you're going to be very much in there, but where that real bottom line is, I don't know.

Q. And also Paul Azinger was saying that when he comes to choose his, experience will effectively count for nothing. He's looking at form players, the way he's going about it. Again, do you have a philosophy on what you want?
NICK FALDO: No, I don't, because hey, we can say -- I guess we are getting close to a few looks aren't we at the top end. So it will be that blend. I think the big crunch is going to be -- well, it will be right down to the last month; what I've got as my ten, and what I wish to add to that.

Q. Can I just go back to the elusiveness of the vice captain and everything? Can we assume or would we be wrong to assume that you will want to stick to the same pattern that you announced last year, in as much to have two, or might you have one, or might you have three?
NICK FALDO: Assumptions, there you go. It could be any number. (Laughter).

Q. What would be the thinking for three, for example?
NICK FALDO: Well, I'm not going to speculate. I'm not going to speculate on any number. I have my thoughts but I haven't -- I'm not ready to announce them yet.

Q. When do you think you could be able to confirm it, the vice captains and assistants?
NICK FALDO: It will definitely be before The Ryder Cup (laughter) just in case they miss the flight.

Q. But you don't think it would be better -- because you did it the year before last year, and now it's like you say, 16 events, so a month before or two months before?

Q. Sorry, I don't want to pin -- well, rather, I do want to pin you down, actually.
NICK FALDO: Speculate from zero to six.

Q. Yeah, okay. And then there's a group of --
NICK FALDO: Let's discuss each number, John.

Q. Well, four, how about four? Will you have four more?
NICK FALDO: Four more, or four total, including me or not?

Q. Well, you've still got one, haven't you?
NICK FALDO: (Laughing) We could go around the houses on this. I'm not here to go around the houses.

Q. You're not really changing from your ideas as laid out?
NICK FALDO: I don't know. Why not? Change is good.

Q. Can we have some solid information?
NICK FALDO: You have got solid information. The decision will be made later. There you go.

Q. Have you then considered the possibility that you and José Maria could do it yourselves and you don't need any help?
NICK FALDO: Make a note of that; I hadn't thought of that one, George.
I don't know, guys and girls, why do you want to speculate? Why do you want to write a speculative story?

Q. Well, it's news.
NICK FALDO: News of speculation.

Q. It is a rare opportunity for us formally to sit with you and for you to address us.
NICK FALDO: Well, I don't know who it's going to be. I will announce it later. Plenty of time. Don't panic.

Q. Do you have anything precise to tell us about today that we don't already know?
NICK FALDO: There you go, there's a question and a half; I don't know.

Q. Are you doing something with the players fitness-wise this week? Am I right in thinking that you've made an offer to put a few through some tests?
NICK FALDO: Yeah, we have a facility down in Weybridge where we felt -- well, it was offered to me from the Tour, a screening process, and I obviously went down as a guinea pig a couple of months ago to check things out.
It's an unofficial offer to the guys, and that's an opportunity to have basically a wider spectrum, give them a menu of all the things you can have. I went and had a full medical, I haven't had one for a while, and then you could be sport-specific. I've had my feet checked and all sorts of things. You can have your eyes, your ears, everything. They basically give you a full menu, and I think it's been quite well received. It wasn't in any kind of way an official request from me. It was part of, hey, this is a great opportunity for us.
In saying that, I went down at that time and I gleaned a few things which we would deem as very important on the week. The sports science is fabulous now, isn't it; they understand so much more how the body works and the body and mind and how we can benefit from it.
So I've taken on board a few things that I can be beneficial from the team for that week.

Q. Do you get to see the results?
NICK FALDO: No, that's totally private. It's nothing to do with that kind of screen. It's an opportunity for players as the individuals to go down and assess themselves as the individuals. It's not going to do with me. Obviously it's BMW PGA Championship week, great opportunity; the fact that it's down the road. But a few players felt this week it was more important to practise, which was totally agreeable, and then you can use the facility some other time.
It's kind of nice the Tour has taken the medical side on board for the players because they should understand the importance of their own health, longevity for this game.
GEORGE O'GRADY: I think we should say we think it's a really powerful service that's been worked out in consultation with a lot of our leading golfers. It's the Weybridge Diagnostic Centre. It's supervised by a guy call called Jonathan Shrewsbury, who used to be a physiotherapist on the Tour for many years. I think he does it. We really do feel it's the finest you can get, to use that phrase, state-of-the-art.
All our leading golfers have been there when they have had any kind of problem and speak hugely, highly of it. It has been very good for us, as Nick does a lot of work and really understood the body and all those things he talked about before. But the feedback from many different golfers, and they do a lot of footballers, too. The Chelsea team go there and are readied on match days when they are dealing with all sorts of different injuries.
So to give all members of the Tour, but specifically people on this week; a lot of players have been there, I think, Richard, today and I think it's encouraging they are doing it. It's the professionalism we look for in all aspects of the Tour.

Q. You held a meeting with prospective candidates at the Match Play earlier in the year. Is there anything planned this week?
NICK FALDO: Not really, no. It was just a good opportunity after the Seve Trophy to look at the potential team from all of the Europeans. As you know, the match play had 19 guys, so it was good.
At the moment, we probably will bump into each other prior to the general meeting and what have you and maybe tonight. I think from now on, I'm very much -- it's more hands on. I'm at an awful lot of events now through the rest of the season, and I can walk the range like I've been doing and have a chat with the guys, so I think it's probably more that way from now.

Q. And Fred Couples from the Presidents Cup is going to talk to people like Michael Jordan and get him on board. Do you have any thoughts about going outside golf?
NICK FALDO: Well, my freethrow is very good, so I don't need to talk to Michael right now.

Q. Have you thought to talk to anybody else?
NICK FALDO: I haven't thought of that, because I strongly feel these are golfers being prepared for a golf tournament, but it's a major golf tournament in that respect.
Obviously I've been there and walked the walk a on that one. So I really feel like I know; I certainly believe I know what the players want on this week, and to go outside to other sports, I'm not sure it's beneficial.

Q. Obviously you're seeing a lot of PGA Tour golf at the moment. I just wonder what you make of the makeup of the American side as it stands at the moment, and obviously some very impressive performances from had some of the young guns there, seems to be a good mix between experience and youth?
NICK FALDO: They are very keen in America. Every interview any player does, they want to make that Ryder Cup Team. Same as here early days but a few guys have come through; Anthony Kim, young guy, very strong, looking good, but we shall see. Same thing; we've all got time before it really starts getting serious.

Q. Are you expecting a far stronger challenge than we've seen in the last two Ryder Cups?
NICK FALDO: I certainly believe it's their intention, isn't it. I think they are going to be coming at us at full guns, and I know that's the way I'm thinking, as well. I'm sure my team will be thinking that. You're going to go there and start from ground level and work up again. No assumptions at all.

Q. Do you notice a difference this time, how much they are talking about it?
NICK FALDO: Yeah, that's probably true. Obviously being a little closer with Zinger, he's drumming it up a bit more. But it's very prevalent the number of players that talk about The Ryder Cup. They all want to make that team. It's a big priority for just, you know, the Top-50 guys.

Q. Talking to Justin Rose earlier this week, he stressed that he wants to make -- he doesn't just want to make the team so that it's on his C.V. that he's played in a Ryder Cup; he wants to go into The Ryder Cup on form so that he can make a positive contribution to what hopefully will be a win. I would imagine that's an attitude that would please you.
NICK FALDO: Very much. I hope I've got -- well, I assume when you've got -- that's not the goal. The goal isn't to get to base camp at Everest, isn't it. It's getting to the top and coming back down alive; that's the goal. And that is the goal of The Ryder Cup is to go and win.
I know every player wants to be there. They want to be there because they want to witness that experience. It's something special. It's something different. Better to go and play well and do your part and win a point for the team, it's an absolute No. 1 priority on everybody's minds to do their bit.

Q. If you can play in the Ryder Cup, you should be able to play on any course, but is there anything about Valhalla that has special demands or players?
NICK FALDO: Yeah, obviously I went there end of last year and assessed the golf course, what I feel the players will need. I'm keeping it under my hat obviously what I think a couple of the key areas are, and I will pass that on to the players in due course when it's time to start preparing for The Ryder Cup.
But I don't think, you know, you're going to have the 24 best players in the world right there all on form playing match play. So, you know, you can put these guys in a desert or on the moon and it would be match play.
So I don't think the golf course is going to lien in any direction but it may be through preparation. It may help you, how well you prepare for it.

Q. Are you urging players to go there?
NICK FALDO: Well, we haven't really got time. There is an opportunity possibly the week before America has their week off; Europe doesn't, Europe are going to be playing in Germany.
So I would leave that to the players choice if they wish to do that. I wouldn't make an official request. But there may be a couple of guys that wish to do that and would certainly set it up for them.

Q. When it comes to your wildcards, after The Open, as you said there will probably be quite a few players locked in; presumably the more experienced ones, will you get an opinion from them, as well before you make your wildcard choices?
NICK FALDO: Possibly. Possibly. But the bottom line, it has to be my decision.
You know, I'm sure that's part of my goal is to be very communicative with the team, and, yeah, you never know, somebody may say so and so is playing extremely well or would be good and make a match. You know, I'll take everything on board.

Q. You said a few minutes ago that you perceive in Paul Azinger perhaps an effort to wind things up a little bit, stir things up a little bit and get the passions going. Do you think his remarks about you were of the same genre to perhaps introduce an atmosphere around the Match that was at Brookline and other Matches at Kiawah Island where they had done well in, do you think that they were looking for passion from that?

Q. So what do you think was the source of his remarks about you?
NICK FALDO: The source -- I got on very well with Zinger. We did two years together at ABC and I think what he said was he was actually very pro-Nick.

Q. It was a misspelling, was it?
NICK FALDO: Yeah, I think so. (Laughter).
(Turning to George, shaking head) They are hard audience, aren't they? Well, that was the joke of the day; so we'll start again.
GEORGE O'GRADY: Write that one down as serious.
NICK FALDO: Write that down as a serious bunch, anyway.

Q. Will there be drug testing at The Ryder Cup.
GEORGE O'GRADY: There's facilities in place for drug testing to take part. The PGA of America announced last week that they would be the first major to have drug testing; that they would be welcoming the PGA Tour's system and it will be in place for The Ryder Cup. Whether we choose to use it or not hasn't been decided yet. But the drug testing unit will be on site, yeah.

Q. Who chooses or who decides?
GEORGE O'GRADY: Well, they are the host running the match; and so within reason, there will be a discussion, but it's ultimately the choice of the PGA of America.

Q. You've played under a lot of captains in your time and seen how they have operated since you stopped playing; do you take anything from how you saw them operate?
NICK FALDO: Yeah, a little bit of everything. You know, Tony was inspirational to us. Bernard Gallacher was a great diplomat, and then Seve was the passion. Those are my last captains. You know, a little bit of everything.
I've had obviously 11 Ryder Cups, great experience from seeing a lot of great things. I'm sure I'll get thrown a few curveballs, as well. But I'll take all that experience on board for my week.

Q. I'm right in thinking you're not playing this week?

Q. Is your playing career almost over?
NICK FALDO: Very thin right now, yeah.
I'm actually not going to play the British Open, probably due to this being Ryder Cup year. I'll be at the British Open, as I said, in my viewing capacity now.

Q. Where are you playing?
NICK FALDO: Good point. I don't know yet.

Q. Will you not play this year?
NICK FALDO: I will play somewhere, yeah. I'm not 100% sure.

Q. Would you play Troon the following week?

Q. Can you go back to the sports science you were talking about; you said you learned a few things. Maybe you could give us a little taste of what you learned? Some of these chaps will be playing two rounds a day.
NICK FALDO: Fatigue is a major part of it and there are areas to look at, and I'm not going to say; but I'm trying to make sure I've got every edge here.
Thanks to the appliance of science now, you can see how the individual is performing and keep that performance to its peak, and that's what we're trying to achieve. So everybody we believe will be well prepared in every possible way.

Q. Big wins for Darren and Sergio, but Monty's form is still off-colour; what's your view on his form at the moment?
NICK FALDO: I believe Monty will turn it around. I certainly haven't counted that out. He has a great way of producing the goods when we really need it, and in theory a player of his ability has enough time to make it happen.

Q. You were stressing the need to communicate closely with the players. Now a few of us may have cast doubts on how easy that I would be for you because you were very much a loner when you were a player. Have you found that you've been well received, and were there any sort of barriers to cross before you were accepted?
NICK FALDO: None at all. No barriers at all. I think I'm at a lot of events, as you know, and a lot of the European guys are at the next events. I've got, what, three majors. I won't be at the U.S. Open; a couple of majors, the World Golf Championships events and the rest of the PGA Tour events which an awful lot of the players are there. I enjoy that, and that's part of my duties, as well, with television, and go have a wander, check it out, walk the range and that's what I've been doing most of the time. So getting on good with all the guys.

Q. Just to clarify, Nick, you will play The Open again after this year?
NICK FALDO: Yeah, I will play again.

Q. Getting back to Colin, if he doesn't qualify by right, would his past singles record influence you?
NICK FALDO: Again, it all depends where he is, like anybody, in that last -- as we've been talking, that last six weeks is going to be real kind of keen for me. So we'll see where, and that's exactly what I'm saying; what I've got and what I need.

Q. You mentioned "the British Open" a few times, which is something I guess you wouldn't have done in the early days; are you spending too much time in the States?
NICK FALDO: Slip of the tongue. Have to clarify, yeah.

Q. Just wondering if you felt you had made any mistakes so far in your year as captain?
NICK FALDO: Is that allowed or not? Is mistakes allowed?

Q. Do you feel you have made some?
NICK FALDO: No, I've had learning experiences. (Laughter).

Q. You announced your vice captain designate with a lot of fanfare last year. Paul McGinley, I believe, is no longer one of those. Have you had any contact with him since last year's Seve Trophy?

Q. How is your relationship with Paul at the moment?
NICK FALDO: Completely fine.

Q. Absolutely fine?

Q. Just one aside, have you actually curtailed your broadcasting duties after The Open; had you any assignments that you stepped back from?
NICK FALDO: No, it works great for me. When I'm in America, I go to the gym in the morning and I watch the GOLF CHANNEL. So I get the European Tour and I'm completely up-to-date. I watch the guys winning the tournament, and I head off to work and watch the American tour, which you've hopefully got European guys there, as well. So I'm golfed out; I watch more than you guys.

Q. But you said you would be over here --
NICK FALDO: No, I stick to -- I've got my television schedule, but I basically curtailed my playing schedule to make it happen this year.

Q. So you'll still be commentating between the time of the British Open and the time of The Ryder Cup?
NICK FALDO: Yeah, I have a couple of events, quite a few, the PGA, the Bridgestone, and I've got the Barclays, the FedExCup stuff.

Q. So you will be at Gleneagles then?
NICK FALDO: I do believe, yeah.

Q. You said to the players some time ago that they could come to you at any point and ask questions; has that been happening and could we have a small illustration?
NICK FALDO: A small few guys -- who have I been chatting to. I talked to Nick D. Obviously; I've been helping him a little bit, obviously going through the difficulties he had with the loss of his mom, as well as guys, chatted to Poulter, crumbs. Who else have I been talking to -- gone blank; Casey.
Might be just a few minutes. Chatted with Sergio a little bit; Lee Westwood; crumbs, quite a few guys. Who else have I been bumping into --

Q. Darren?
NICK FALDO: No, I haven't seen Darren. I haven't seen Darren for a while. Some of the Swedes, as well. So just a little bit here and there.

Q. Somebody like Richard Finch, who I guess you wouldn't know too well; would you make a point of going to introduce yourself to him this week?
NICK FALDO: Probably when I bump into him, yeah. Probably doesn't know me, either.

Q. Monty said a couple of weeks ago he felt he needed to win at least twice.
NICK FALDO: That would probably help, wouldn't that.

Q. It would help; does have to?
NICK FALDO: By the numbers, if he wants to be on the team, if he's planning to be in the team.

Q. He thinks just to do that to convince you that he's worth consideration for a wildcard.
NICK FALDO: Well, that would be a damned good case, wouldn't it.

Q. Did he have to?
NICK FALDO: No, but by the numbers, yeah. The.

Q. He could have a string of second places, third places and be --
NICK FALDO: Well, if he did that for 16 weeks, he would probably make the team.

Q. So he doesn't need to win twice; he feels the nature of winning is what is important.
NICK FALDO: If that's what he said, that's what he said. I don't know.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Nick, thank you very much for your time and good luck in four months time.

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