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September 19, 2008

Paul Azinger

Justin Leonard

Hunter Mahan

Boo Weekley


KELLY ELBIN: U.S. Ryder Cup Team Captain Paul Azinger joining us along with team members Hunter Mahan, Justin Leonard and Boo Weekley, United States leading after the first day of the 37th Ryder Cup 51/2-21/2 for the first time since 1995 that the United States has led after the first day. Congratulations on a successful first day. General thoughts on the day and tomorrow?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Well, clearly we haven't led in a long time, so we're real happy about that. I was just real proud of everybody. It could have gone either way today. The guys, there were some nice comebacks today. They just played really well. Everybody kind of stayed on point, stayed in the present, and just kept going.
Phil and Anthony Kim came from 3-down twice today. They came back and halved a match and won a match. Stewart Cink and Chad Campbell came from 3-down today. Hunter and Justin came from 2-down today, this morning. And Boo and J.B. came from 2-down.
So it could have gone either way. We're real happy with where we are, but we're not even to the halfway point yet, and we know that. We also know how good Europe is, so we're just going to try to get a nice rest and go out and play well tomorrow.
KELLY ELBIN: Justin, a comment from you in regards to your two wins with Hunter and overall feelings about the day, please?
JUSTIN LEONARD: Well, Hunter and I just really enjoyed the day. I went out there with a goal to enjoy it, and I loved watching Hunter hit the ball and putt the ball today. Like Zinger said, we got 2-down quick and then got it back quickly.
So, we had a fun time. We enjoyed the crowds. My cheeks are sore from smiling all day long (laughter). This was a lot different than my other Ryder Cup experiences.

Q. Paul, did Justin and Hunter earn their way into this afternoon, who are was it always your plan to play them this afternoon?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: I was always playing them.

Q. Boo, can you just talk about what it was like out there and the fans, and as you guys kept going you kept fist pumping a little harder and getting the fans into it. What was it like?
BOO WEEKLEY: It was exciting. With this being my first time, it's hard to believe. It's about the fans. We had a good time with the fans today. That's what we're here for. That's what they want to see is see us play well.

Q. Boo, Lee Westwood and a couple of the guys were just in here, and he said that he felt that your riling the crowd up in between shots was a little bit over the edge a little bit. I just wonder if you felt that at all, and if you heard anything from him about that.
BOO WEEKLEY: Well, I mean, I didn't mean to if I did. But the crowd -- you can't control the crowd a little bit. And at the same time, we was trying to keep them positive and keep us positive.

Q. Paul, I don't think anyone was on the '91 team when Dave Stockton captained, which is in the same situation basically that you're in right now --
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: I was on that team.

Q. Were you? We were talking about that. Can you just talk about what that was like and that approach and how you might take some of what you learned from that and use it tonight going into tomorrow?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: I'm not sure what the question is. You're talking about being ahead the same amount?

Q. Well, not the same amount, but you were ahead (laughter). That was the last time basically.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Really? We're in a happy spot in that regard. I mean, it's better than it being the other way, that's for sure. But like I said, we're not even to the halfway point yet.
My hope is these guys can go back and get some rest and play some ping-pong or go to bed, whatever. It's not a sprint; it's a marathon. We've been here since Monday practicing, or Monday night, doing stuff, and it's a long week. We've got a long, long way to go, and we know how good they are. That's it.

Q. Hunter, a lot of people may not have known a lot about you coming into this, most members of the team. What do you think people may have learned about you today, and what did you kind of learn about yourself in your first Ryder Cup experience?
HUNTER MAHAN: I don't know; what did you guys learn today?
JUSTIN LEONARD: Let me tell you about Hunter Mahan (laughter).
HUNTER MAHAN: No, this event is fun. I think we've all been looking forward to it, six rookies on the team. I think we've looked forward to getting to know one another. I learned a lot from The Presidents Cup that helped me this week, that's for sure.
You know, I just tried to go out there and play golf, really just make it as simple as I could. I had a really good partner today who's been here before, so that helps a lot.
I don't know, I felt -- at the Presidents Cup I didn't know -- I questioned whether I belonged there. I felt like I was -- I felt like I deserved to be on the team, but just personally I didn't feel like I was there. I felt more together this year, this week. I feel like I'm good enough to be here.
I'm a good enough player to play with these guys, and that's what helped me a lot today. I just went out there and just played golf. I just tried to hit a good shot, nothing more, nothing less than that.

Q. This is for Justin. It's been a long time coming. You played in your first Ryder Cup 11 years ago, and you had two wins today, and that's twice as many as you've had in your career. That must be on a personal level if you could speak to that, and then I have a follow-up question for the captain when I'm done.
JUSTIN LEONARD: You know, it feels good to get a couple points today.
But really just to -- this time around, I'm really enjoying the week more. I mean, I was nervous on the first tee today, but it felt great. That's been my goal is to enjoy this week more because I haven't been here in a while, and I think I appreciate it much more this year than I did in '97 or '99.
You know, after I made a couple teams in a row, I kind of thought, well, the Ryder Cup will be my deal for a while. Well, it hasn't been. So I probably didn't -- I certainly didn't know how much I missed it until getting back here this week and playing today.
But about today, it felt great. Hunter and I had a ball out there. You know, but it is the first day. We've got a long way to go.

Q. Boo, could you just talk about what it was like playing with J.B. today? Obviously you guys were clear fan favorites today. Could you just talk about what it was like to play with him and how much fun you guys were having out there today?
BOO WEEKLEY: Oh, for both of us to be rookies and being able to play the first day, it's exciting. I mean, just being here is exciting. In the south, the fans were great, the golf was good. It's hard to explain everything really what happened today. I'll have to sit back tonight and think about it, you know, but it was an exciting day for all of us, for me and J.B..

Q. Paul, can you just talk specifically about J.B.'s play today, him being a first-timer, and the way he finished, also? Did you talk to him about -- what did you say to him after that finish?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Well, J.B. played okay. He played four birdies today. I'm sure he's a little disappointed. The drive he hit on 18 landed in the fairway, really, and rolled and rolled. It's the curse of hitting it 335 yards. That drive was so far, he had 150 yards to the hole or something.
You know, I think that for his first time he embraced it. But I really haven't had much of a chance to talk to him. He went and hit a few balls. But knowing J.B., I know he's a little disappointed that they tied that match, but he shouldn't be.
The team that Boo and J.B. had to play was a phenomenal team. For them to get that far, I'm real proud of both of them. Neither one of them has ever done it before. I put a bunch of rookies out there this afternoon, and they did real well. I'm real proud of them all.

Q. So much has been made of how all the American teams have played so tight in recent Ryder Cups, even the players have admitted it. Did you see any of that today, and why do you think that your team was able to go out there and free-wheel it even after things started going against them early?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Well, that's the intangible. The main thing is that these guys, I think, stayed just focused on the task at hand today, and they did a great job of it. It's a cliché, but it doesn't matter if it's match play or stroke play, a golfer can only do what he can do at the time. I was real proud of them. They were -- I'm sure everybody was nervous. I walked into the locker room today, and I was thinking, man, I wish I had my clubs, I want to be playing. Then when I got to the first tee, I was like, man, I'm glad I'm not playing (laughter).
These guys are going to embrace this crowd, they're going to embrace the energy and they're going to embrace the pressure. That's the whole message. I'm real proud of them. They did a great job today. But I'll reiterate that I'm sure the European team is going to come out free-wheeling with everything to gain tomorrow. We've got to be ready. We've got to do it again.

Q. Question for Paul, no Westwood, no Garcia for them in the morning. How surprised are you by that, and for that matter, how happy are you about that?
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: Well, I'm not going to justify why Nick Faldo does what he does. I'm sure he's confident in the guys he put out there, and the way I look at the teams they put out there, they look pretty strong to me. I'm not going to justify that. I'll let him answer that question.
KELLY ELBIN: Quick review of the morning foursomes tomorrow. 8:05, Stewart Cink/Chad Campbell against Ian Poulter/Justin Rose. 8:20, Justin Leonard/Hunter Mahan against Miguel Angel Jimenez/Graeme McDowell, 8:35 Phil Mickelson/Anthony Kim versus Henrik Stenson and Oliver Wilson. 8:50, Jim Furyk/Kenny Perry against Padraig Harrington and Robert Karlsson.
CAPTAIN PAUL AZINGER: I think we have two rematches; am I wrong? Did Padraig and -- I know we've got one rematch, Justin and Ian Poulter are going to rematch against Cink and Campbell.
But once again, I respect everybody on their team. I know what they're capable of, and you know, what's on paper doesn't mean anything to anybody. We've just got to go play good.
KELLY ELBIN: Captain Azinger, members of your team, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts

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