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August 31, 2008
SCOTT CROCKETT: Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it's my great honour to welcome you to what is always one of the most exciting days of any European Tour season, the finalising of the European Ryder Cup Team. The race for places on the team chartered to Valhalla began almost exactly a year ago in Switzerland and has ended this afternoon in Scotland with the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
My thanks to go to every involved in this week's tournament for their hard work and their diligence, and of course our congratulations go to GrĂÂ©gory Havret for his wonderful victory, his third European Tour success, and indeed his second here in Scotland.
Without further ado, it's my pleasure to introduce our top table to you. Closest to me, we welcome European Ryder Cup director, Richard Hills. To the far side of the platform we welcome Chief Executive of The European Tour, George O'Grady. In between we have two men who will be central to The European Tour's hopes of a fourth successive Ryder Cup victory in Kentucky, Vice Captain JosĂÂ© Maria OlazĂÂĄbal, and the 2008 European Ryder Cup Captain, Nick Faldo. Gentlemen, it's indeed a pleasure to have you both with us this afternoon.
To kick off proceedings, I'd like now ask George O'Grady to say a few words.
GEORGE O'GRADY: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you, AND welcome to this week's Johnnie Walker Championship.
Before we hear from our captain, there are just one or two people I would like to acknowledge who played such a significant part in this week's tournament, and, in fact, in our Ryder Cup effort: Our host this week, Patrick Elsmie, managing director of this Gleneagles Hotel; thank you, sir, for everything you've done for us. Andrew Morgan, who is the president of Diageo Europe, for putting on this week's tournament with all your team, all your volunteers; thank you very much for looking after us so well. John Yapp, who is from the British PGA representing the PGA of Great Britain and the PGA of Europe in the place of Sandy Jones, who everyone knows has had a very serious heart operation. Speaking to him yesterday, he's fully on the mend and subject to one doctor's opinion, will be joining us on the plane to Valhalla, which I know everybody will be delighted with. And Paul Bush, who is the Chief Operating Officer for Events Scotland and all the things we do in Scotland. We are very privileged to have the Minister of Communities and Sport for Scotland here with us, Stewart Maxwell; thank you very much for joining us.
And it would never be complete in any Johnnie Walker sponsorship without the Honorary Life President of Diageo Scotland, Lord Macfarlane. When Johnnie Walker really got behind The Ryder Cup in growth years, you were always at the helm, and we thank you, sir, for joining us today and welcoming every player to the first tee.
Now with that finished, thank you all, gentlemen, so very much. And now Nick Faldo, our captain.
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Thank you, George, thank you. My Lord, ladies and gentlemen, thank you all. Obviously this is a fabulous moment for me, and I assume for Ollie, but this is the start, finally I have a team after a long, long wait.
So as you all know, in alphabetical order, Sergio Garcia, SĂÂžren Hansen, Padraig Harrington, Miguel Angel JimĂÂ©nez, Robert Karlsson, Graeme McDowell, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Lee Westwood, and Oliver Wilson; I congratulate them all on making the team. Fabulous performances throughout the year.
And of course, my two picks, Ian Poulter and Paul Casey.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Thank you very much.
Q. Taking one player at a time, Nick, can you tell us the reasons that you chose these two individuals?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Well, we know, I don't really have to reel off all their stats; I'm sure you'll be putting them up on the screen pretty sharpish.
I've been watching these guys through the summer, and Ian is obviously a very determined guy. I love his attitude and obviously what he did at the British Open, or The Open Championship. That back nine he played with the intention to win, and he had that emotional feeling, rather than just finishing second. He had that putt probably, I'm sure for those few moments, he felt that was to win an Open Championship. So, you know, coupled as I'm saying, with his stats, he's the leading playing in the world who is not in the team in the World Rankings, so you know, those are just a few obviously.
And then Paul Casey, I've been watching Paul play in my role now in television, I've become a bit of a stat man, and tee-to-green Paul has been playing absolutely the best through this summer and through the majors, and I was kind of waiting for the putting to turn around. You know, in the last few weeks, he's been very much close to being No. 1 in putting averages through the week. So that's been very important. And obviously former World Match Play Champion and extremely good record in Ryder Cup from his past Ryder Cups and even Walker Cups going way back.
I feel very good about those two picks.
Q. Have you spoken to them, and how did they react?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: That is a good question. I can tell you, Ian, I get on well with Ian, I said to him, "Raquel, go and put your overcoat on; it's time to go to The Ryder Cup." So he was absolutely gobsmacked. I think Ian's been put through the ringer the last week and was actually very quiet. I think he was complete -- it was more just sheer relief. I think the emotion just hit him very quickly and just delighted.
And we have right now, Paul Casey is airborne; so he actually hasn't been told. We are that live.
So I am sitting here waiting with two phones in my pocket and messages have all been left, please to call me; he doesn't know either way, because, you know, I spent the rest of the afternoon, unfortunately, having to tell guys who are not on the team, which I've had better afternoons.
So actually currently right now, we're 11 and one to be confirmed. (Chuckling).
Q. Given that Ian chose not to travel here, speculation you had given him a wildcard in advance; your thoughts on that please?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: No, you probably heard the story, well documented now. Yes, I spoke with Ian. He was in a dilemma. I said, "As your captain I want you to go and play."
And he says, "Right," and well, he went and booked flights and over the course of the next couple of days, and he said he had a real tough decision. And at the end of it, the real bottom line -- I said, well, Ian, as a player, I understand your side. As a captain, he says, I understand your side, but the bottom line is you have to make your decision and you have to live with your decisions, and that's what he chose to do.
Q. You had to disappoint some extremely classy players, which I'm sure was a difficult decision; can you talk about who was on your short list and whether you've spoken to any of them?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: No, I've spoken to everybody. I've been on the phone, obviously we left things right to the last minute.
But I have either spoken or left voice messages, because the guys are already travelling, and yeah, that's difficult. I've got youngsters who have played their heart out this year who have just missed out.
I've got seasoned campaigners, obviously you've got Monty and of course Darren. Darren made a massive, massive charge, big effort the last few weeks. You know, the end of the day, it's a tough call. It's a decision I have to make. Some will agree. Some will disagree. I'm the guy that has to live with it and I have I can live with my decision.
Q. Any news for us on further vice captains?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Well, no. We feel --
Q. Monty's clean, by the way.
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: No. We feel that between the pair of us, we've got 18 Ryder Cups, and I'm very confident that we have served with five captains, as well. We've had as I said the inspiration of Tony Jacklin, both involved there, we both had Bernard Gallacher, and we both had Seve, kind of witnessed everything there.
So I want to keep it the two of us, because the thing I learned from the Seve Trophy for me that was the most important thing was that if I'm going to make the final decision, I have to gather the information myself.
I learnt from a very simple thing, when I put Justin Rose on -- I knew he had a bad back. And I put Justin Rose to play Saturday afternoon I think and then I went and told him, and he said, "Oh, I wouldn't mind having a rest this afternoon." And I thought, all right. I learned a little simple lesson from that that I need to gather the information, and obviously with Ollie, we can bounce things off each other from all those years of experience.
So we are very comfortable with just the two of us.
Q. Obviously Darren won in Holland last week and has a stellar Ryder Cup record; so what more could he have done to earn one of your picks?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: That's difficult. That's kind of -- you know, the guys, everybody gave their all through this whole year. And you can see how much we care and the passion that we have for The Ryder Cup.
So it's a little unfair to say, what more could he do. He was right there, right there to the final -- to the final this afternoon. So I've got to go one way, and with what I feel and what I feel brings to the team, but that's not a decision really I've enjoyed to make, that one.
Q. And when did you finally make up your mind, when had you settled upon Paul Casey and Ian Poulter?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: I guess to be very honest with you, really it's been toying for quite a while. I've been watching all the scores, watching how the guys -- seeing what permutations were going to happen. It's really been, you know, these last few days.
It's kind of like when you finally start looking at what the scores are coming after the cut and what the guys have done, and I can't put a real time on it, but I guess there must have finally been a moment when you say, yes, I can live with that decision.
Q. Was that this afternoon when you said, right, yes, I'm going with that, or before you arrived here?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Probably haven't had much sleep I should think, but to be honest right now. Pretty much right now. It's pretty much today.
Q. You were saying all along to us that form would come from experience and that you wanted winners; Darren has won twice this year, your two picks haven't managed to win and I think Ian has not managed a round lower than 67 since January; so what was it you saw in Ian that convinced you he would be a better bet than Darren?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Well, you know, again, I've got to make the call. What I saw through the majors this year have been very important to me. I think obviously the Ryder Cup is a major, it really is. It's taking you to another level.
I feel that, you know, new roles will be coming into this Ryder Cup. I think that Lee Westwood will probably take a new role on, very much like when I first was Lee Westwood's partner, how we dove-tailed together way back ten-odd years ago, and I think Lee will have a role there, very much like I had, looking after some of the rookie players. Or he's also teamed up with Sergio very well.
You know, it's been a tough decision.
Q. You said you had spoken to the ones who are on the short list, and I just wondered what kind of reaction you had had from Darren, and then from Monty.
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Monty I only managed to leave a voice message. Apparently he was watching football this afternoon, or shopping, one or the other.
I briefly spoke to Darren. Darren as he's been saying, you could sense he was disappointed, but he wished me well, wished the team well. But sure, I know that when it's pretty raw and you've just come off the golf course and you're right there, the guys are disappointed.
Q. Did you have pairings in your mind when you made these wildcard decisions?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: In a way, early days, but yes, yeah.
Q. And is this side do you think capable of winning by nine points again?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Well, I will be more -- 14 1/2 will do me very nicely. What about you?
JOSĂâ° MARIA OLAZĂÂBAL: Me, too, yes.
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Obviously we've been on an extraordinary run for these last few years, and I personally think the way that we have been performing, obviously we've got Padraig, a three-time major winner and in the middle of a Paddy Grand Slam and he is going to be a very dominant factor to this.
Points; winning is the most important thing to me. Points is really not important.
Q. And speaking to other Tour players this week, a lot of them think Ian should have come; that it showed he was taking the US Tour more importantly than The Ryder Cup. How would you answer that?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Well, it was a tough call for him. You really should speak to him about that. Obviously he put himself through the ringer.
But as I said, I could understand as a player, and I'm sure that it will be one of the major parts of it, the questions from now.
Most important thing, he's there. I really think he's going to bring a great part to on-course and off-course.
Q. You spent a lot of time in America, so you see a lot of Carl Pettersson, and he won two weeks ago, three victories in the last two years; how difficult was it to leave him out?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Yeah, as you can imagine, everybody is difficult, it really is, but I have to pick two picks; that's the small print.
You have to -- as you see, we are discussing all of the ones who missed rather than the ones who made it.
Q. Your two wildcards you picked from the younger generation ahead from the claims of Monty and Clarke, two older men with definitely strong characters; was it your desire to be the unquestioned leader in the locker room, did that contribute to that decision?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: No, I feel this is a -- looking at the characters that we've got on our team. We've got Padraig, I think he's moved onto a new level. Sergio brings great passion to the team. Many of the guys will be contributing in their own way.
You know, for me, it's the important thing is -- I think they are riding a good wave obviously. My role will be probably first thing to bring the guys back down-to-earth and we start from zero, start from the bottom line and we work forward.
I know every player in the 12 is passionate, more than passionate about The Ryder Cup and how much commitment they have given this year, and the No. 1 goal is to go and win.
Q. Following up on that, Harrington said he wanted to play with Monty and Clarke and Westwood has a great record with Clarke as well; did you consult your senior players before making the decision?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: No, I didn't talk to those guys. I think Padraig is kind of underplaying his new role now. Padraig will be -- of course we have a two-time -- well, three majors, currently two in a row. He has, you know, very valuable status now on the team, new status and we can play on that status because America doesn't have any current major champions right now.
So I think he is underplaying the importance that he is now going to be playing to take that mantle as being the senior, in the right word, if you know what I mean, along with Lee Westwood, serious campaigners, same with Sergio. I think we have got enough guys who can carry the atmosphere in the room more than comfortably.
Q. Nice to see you back. We haven't seen you in your best form necessarily all season; can you tell us how you feel now, and obviously you're raring to go, but are you on or off medicine?
JOSĂâ° MARIA OLAZĂÂBAL: I thought we were going to talk about The Ryder Cup (smiling).
Q. You're in the team. Secondly, were you involved with Nick in the selection of the two wildcards, or did Nick do it on his own?
JOSĂâ° MARIA OLAZĂÂBAL: Well, regarding my condition, I'm feeling much better. I have stopped the medication a couple of weeks ago. I have to keep my fingers crossed so that there's not any setbacks, and hopefully everything will be back to normal sooner or later.
Regarding the picks, obviously Nick is the captain and I am here just to assist him. He makes the decisions and he is already an experienced man. He has been in The Ryder Cup many, many times. He knows what he wants in the team and I think in that regard, I think he made the right decisions.
I'm not going to -- at any time, I'm not going to disagree with him. I might give my opinion to him, but I'm going to support him all the way through. I think he has chosen two young kids with good experience and I think that they are going to be very valuable to the team.
Q. But just for the record, you did talk, the two of you?
JOSĂâ° MARIA OLAZĂÂBAL: We talked, yeah, on the phone.
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Monday chat.
JOSĂâ° MARIA OLAZĂÂBAL: Obviously he has the final decision. He's the captain.
Q. I was going to ask you, you picked Paul McGinley as one of your vice captains, but he resigned to try to make the team automatically; are you saying you've closed the door on inviting him to be a vice captain?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: As I said we are very comfortable. From the Seve Trophy experience, I know how much I enjoyed it and it was valuable to know how I can move around the golf course and as I said, the real bottom line is, I want to gather all the information myself, firsthand, and I'm confident I can make the decisions. As he's been saying, Ollie and I, 18 Ryder Cups, that's pretty darned good.
Q. Did you speak to Paul this afternoon?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Paul McGinley, no.
Q. Would you have preferred more wildcard picks?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Well, you know, when I took the job that was agreed and when you get to the 11th hour like this and you get to a tough situation like that, yes, I would have quite liked to make life a little easier on myself, but I accept that I had two, and you know, my decision has to be made.
Q. In all of those headlines about Poulter being given a nod and all of that, were you hurt by that and what it said about your professionalism?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Well, I knew, I might just go with what I knew. As I did text one player, because I saw a quote, and I said, "I can put my hand on my heart, and nobody's been given a nod. If you heard" -- I should have -- well, we did have a few in the room; Julia was in the room and Mitchell was in the room; Poulter was flat. I wasn't expecting that. The guy was emotionally shocked in a way. Poor guy had been put through the ringer. I know in my heart nobody got the nod.
Q. Can I just ask you to clarify something for me please. Did you actually watch Darren Clarke playing in Holland? Did you see it live?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: I did. The beauty of my role with CBS is I can watch GOLF CHANNEL in the mornings and go to the work in the afternoon. I get tons of golf.
Q. Did you feel at the time that he might have done enough to get in or did you feel he was going to be under a lot of pressure or had you already made up your mind at that point?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: No, he did his bit. We were looking at the Money List to see where he had pushed himself up to, and he was right there. I was expecting Darren to -- it wouldn't have surprised me if Darren had gone win, win.
So, yeah, I promise you, I was watching that. I saw it all. It was very impressive. But I have to make a call.
Q. Can you talk about the decision not to pick Monty; is it simply because he's not been playing well enough in the last few weeks?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Yeah, I can feel for Monty, because his run; my run came to an end. I did 20 years of Ryder Cup, and, you know, the first one you miss, it stings. Monty has been -- well, he's had an historic career in The Ryder Cup. So I can imagine it hurt. Unfortunately Monty's summer wasn't great and he's finished down the list, about 18th, 19th, in the final settings today.
So when I'm looking and I've got these ten guys, and looking what to add to the team, then you know, then that decision had to be made.
Q. Colin said he felt he had to win this week or come close to win this week; is that the way you saw it, as well?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Well it would have given me another headache, but it would have been a nice headache. Yeah it would have been interesting, if Monty had thrown in that kind of performance, then, yeah, it would have been seriously considered.
SCOTT CROCKETT: I'd like to thank you all for attending, and I think I join everybody in this room in wishing you all the very, very best, Nick, and your team at Valhalla. Thank you very much.
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