November 20, 2003
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, GEORGIA
MODERATOR: Welcome, Bernard, to the third UBS Cup. You're getting to be an old hand at this now. You played in the last two. Give us your thoughts on the format here this week, playing the 40- to 49-year-olds and the over 50s.
BERNHARD LANGER: I think all the feedback I've heard from the last two years from the players, everybody had a great time, they enjoyed themselves. It was very competitive, yet friendly. I think that's the way golf should be played.
I certainly enjoyed myself the last couple of years, even though we lost. We're going to try and do a little bit better this year.
MODERATOR: I imagine the competitive instinct, the whole team wants to get the trophy for the first time.
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, definitely. First of all, nobody likes to lose. We're all competitors. We would love to win. Secondly, you get more money if you win, as well. So there's two very good reasons to be trying very hard. I think that's what happened the last few years.
But the other positive I like about the tournament is that the people out there, the public, I think can really relate to most of us because they have followed us for, you know, 20 odd years, most of us. They can relate to us maybe more so than some very young players who they see for the first time, who are just new to the game.
MODERATOR: I'm sure there's a few players playing this week who could probably play Ryder Cup golf - yourself included.
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah. There's definitely some in the field. Obviously, there's a couple we missed that are out playing The Presidents Cup right now. You don't always get everybody anyway.
MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions.
Q. If you would, just kind of tell us the meaning of being the first captain from Germany to get the opportunity to captain The Ryder Cup team, what that means to you personally.
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, it's a great honor to be Ryder Cup captain anytime. You know, to be the second one from the continent maybe means even more. It will hopefully boost the game of golf a little bit in Germany or on the whole continent. As we all know, golf is a very popular game in Great Britain and in Sweden, but on the continent, we still need to increase in numbers. Hopefully that will help a little bit for that.
But I certainly look forward to it. It's a great challenge, a wonderful opportunity just to have the job. I played in 10 Ryder Cups, I've had a lot of experience as a player, and now I look forward to being the captain.
MODERATOR: I think Hal Sutton is going to join us now, the other Ryder Cup captain.
You're not late. Bernard was early, I can assure you (laughter).
Q. Bernard, you obviously played Ryder Cup under your captain this week, Tony Jacklin. Do you think you'll have time to sit down with him and pick his brains this week?
BERNHARD LANGER: I don't know if I will need to pick his brains, but I will certainly watch what he does. I played under, what was it, three Ryder Cups under him or even four, I'm not even sure now. Could be four. You know, I don't expect captaincy to be very different here than it was then.
I think I know pretty much the way he is and what he thinks, how he does the job. I've always enjoyed playing under him.
Q. Maybe along the same vein, Hal, Arnold never lost as a captain of any match play event. No matter what you believe the role of the captain is, how important or not it is, do you feel like there's things you can pick up from Arnold? Will you be talking about your role as a Ryder Cup captain, what you can do, based on his experience?
HAL SUTTON: I'll certainly be watching and listening. I've never played on a team that Arnie captained or anything. This is my first experience at that. But I'll be taking notes, watching and listening. Anything that I feel like I can use, I'll certainly make it part of our notebook (laughter).
Q. At this point, what do you see in Arnold that makes him a good captain of an event like this?
HAL SUTTON: He seems pretty relaxed to me. He doesn't seem very uptight. Of course, I think everybody's pretty relaxed this week, wouldn't you?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, it's not quite as uptight as The Ryder Cup.
HAL SUTTON: Not at all.
BERNHARD LANGER: Not quite as much pressure.
HAL SUTTON: He and I are both sitting up here pretty relaxed (laughter).
BERNHARD LANGER: Different in 10 months' time maybe.
Q. Bernard, could you characterize the style of captaincy that Tony Jacklin had? Could you give me some adjectives as to the way you think he did it?
BERNHARD LANGER: Well, it's difficult to describe. But he's usually one, he does talk to the players a little bit. You know, he's not a total dictator, if you want to use that word. He involves some of us if not all of us. Yet in the end, he's going to make the final decision. He's very positive, and at the same time relaxed, I would say. I think those three attributes are very important.
Q. Hal, you sound like a man who has taken notes already. Do you have folders full of notes? How are you dealing with it?
HAL SUTTON: I can't hang on to my thoughts as well as I'd like to from time to time, whether it's my own golf swing or anything else. So I do write things down that I make sure, you know, that I don't want to forget.
You know, if it was something that really struck me that week that I felt like needed to be part of what I am going to do next year, well then I'll certainly write it down.
Q. Where do you see this event going? How important was it to have Arnold involved from the beginning?
BERNHARD LANGER: I think it was very important for Arnold to be part of it, and also Gary Player also did a great job the first couple of years.
I personally think this has a lot of promise to be a great event for many, many more years to come, for the reasons I stated earlier: some legends are playing in the tournament, there's players who the public can really relate to, they've been following them for many, many years. You know, even today you look around the course, who had the biggest crowd? I think it might have been Arnold. I didn't see everyone, but I certainly saw a bunch of people following him, so...
HAL SUTTON: I feel like from a player's perspective, this is a real enjoyable week. This is my first experience. But, I mean, how could you have it at a finer facility than this? You know, like I said earlier, it's very relaxed.
I think we all enjoy seeing one another. I mean, there are a lot of guys on our tour, we don't get to see The Champions Tour players nearly as much as we'd like to probably. It gives us a chance to reminisce about the past, if you will, just be together for the week, both on the American team as well as on the rest of the world team. I'll have to get used to "the rest of the world."
Q. You both are going to have to switch roles from time to time. This week you're a foot soldier, then you're the commander in chief. In the long run, how important do you think the role of a captain is?
BERNHARD LANGER: I think sometimes the role of captaincy is overemphasized by the public or whatever. I've played in 10 Ryder Cups and have watched what has happened in the past. Whenever the captain loses, he gets kind of crucified. Whoever wins, well, he was the great hero.
I disagree with that. I think most of the time it's not the captain, it's just the players. You know, the 12 guys played better than the other 12 guys. You can have the greatest strategy and the whole thing. If the player doesn't play good, he's not going to win, no matter what strategy you have. That's the bottom line.
As a captain, you can only provide everything the player needs, that he's relaxed, that he has his thoughts on the game of golf, can concentrate on that. You take care of the rest. But in the end, he has to hit the shots. I can't go out there and tell him how to swing, what to do.
HAL SUTTON: I couldn't agree with that more. I think it boils down to just how well the guys play. I mean, you know, we might as well Saturday night throw the names in a hat, pitch them up in the air, let them fall wherever they do. Whoever plays the best the next day is going to win.
If he and I sit down together and matched every player perfectly together, it's still going to come out to the same thing: whoever is going to play the best.
BERNHARD LANGER: To give you an example, last year when I played the Ryder Cup, there was Phil Mickelson playing Phillip Price. Mickelson is No. 2 in the world, I don't know where Price was. If you go to people who bet, how many people would have put money on Mickelson and how many on Price? Phillip Price played better and won the match. That just kind of explains what I was talking about a minute ago. You have to play well.
Q. What would happen if you guys qualified? Have you thought about that?
BERNHARD LANGER: Yeah, I've been asked all the time. I will be the captain no matter what.
Q. You would not play?
BERNHARD LANGER: No. I said earlier on, if I would qualify in the Top 3 or Top 5, I should probably play. But I put so much effort and work into this captaincy already, and it's going to get more and more. I can't see myself playing. I don't really want to. I think I enjoy what I'm doing as a captain, I want to take it to the very end.
HAL SUTTON: Same thing. I've said all the time that I wouldn't. I think it would be hard to be a playing captain. I think if you decided to play, you'd have to turn over the captaincy to someone else because, you know, you kind of need to be watching who's playing well, who to pair up together, that sort of stuff.
If you're playing, you're concentrating on your game, you can't do that. I haven't played nearly as many Ryder Cups as Bernard has, but I felt what it feels like four times to do that. It's time to be the captain now.
Q. (No microphone)?
BERNHARD LANGER: To me, it's very, very unlikely, probably unrealistic. If it should happen, yeah, I would play. If I qualify for the team, if I'm one of the best 10 players in Europe, yes, I would go for it.
HAL SUTTON: I think it's unrealistic for me, too. But if I did, I'd be more than happy to make the trip.
Q. Hal, not only Arnold, but you're on the same team with a total of four past Ryder Cup captains. Is this week a unique opportunity for you? You could pick up the phone and call any of these guys, but being here talking to them face to face, is that a good process for you?
HAL SUTTON: It's good. Curtis and I spent an hour the other day on the practice tee talking. I'm sure there will be other conversations as the week goes on for both of us. I'm sure it will just be casual conversation among friends, you know, talking about what's been successful, what might change, different way to look at things.
We'll just have to wait till the end of the week. Might be easier to an these questions at the end of week of what we learned.
Q. Do you find conversations with these past captains, that they all have somewhat different ways of looking at the captaincy or is there a general philosophy that they share?
HAL SUTTON: I really haven't talked to anybody but Curtis this week about it. I think everybody has a different philosophy. We all have different personalities, you know. We all have different styles. We all have different demeanors. I don't think anybody would be the same. Even the other day Curtis was talking to me about something, he said, "I'm not trying to tell you how you should do it, but you might look at this." He was almost apologetic before he said what he wanted to say.
Q. What is the single most surprising thing that's happened to you since you've been named as captain? Is it the amount of press inquiries that you've had? Is it the amount of other stuff you've had? What is it?
HAL SUTTON: I really haven't been surprised by anything. The one thing that I already knew is the amount of people in the world that look forward to, that support, that can't wait to see the next Ryder Cup played. You feel that as you walk down the fairways. I think that would be a universal feeling.
Everybody says something to you once they know you're captain. "Bring back the cup," whatever. Maybe the amount of people that, while you're walking down the fairway, say that to you. That might be the biggest surprise.
Q. Is it to "Bring it back" or just "Well done"?
HAL SUTTON: Well, "Bring it back," that's what I hear the majority of the time (laughter). It's a tall order, though.
Q. It's probably both, right?
HAL SUTTON: It's both.
Q. Do you have a sense that you are captains of a team event that is very special? If you look at sport as a whole, golf at the moment is still enjoying a remarkably successful time, is a highly regarded sport. You are each captains of the teams that take part in probably the premiere team event in one of the most popular sports in the world. Can you put into words your feelings about that, how important it is that that is maintained?
BERNHARD LANGER: I think it's a great responsibility. I am very much aware of that. I think that's why Hal and I are going to put a lot of emphasis that it will be fair play, that we play the game the way it should be, adhere to the etiquette and the rules. In the end, we're all friends anyways. It's just a very important event, and nobody wants to lose.
But golf has a very good name and reputation. It's a very clean sport. There's no drugs. There's really no cheating. Players, when they break a rule, they hand themselves in or report it on themselves. "My ball moved, I moved the ball, this happened, that happened," give themselves penalties more or less. You don't see that in other sports.
I think it's important that we continue that tradition.
HAL SUTTON: I feel exactly the same way. I think one thing that I'm excited about, I understand the responsibility that we have as captains in the premiere team event in golf in the world. But I'm excited to be captain at the same time that Bernard is because we've been friends, we've been competitors for a long time. I think both of us understand the responsibility of our job and trying to keep the sportsmanship in the forefront, continue the tradition that we were just speaking about.
I think he and I will work together to make sure that that happens.
MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you. Appropriate note to end on. Good luck this week, good luck next September.
HAL SUTTON: Thank you.
BERNHARD LANGER: Thank you.
End of FastScripts.