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August 11, 2010
JULIUS MASON: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, I'm pleased to welcome the 2010 Ryder Cup Captains, Colin Montgomerie and Corey Pavin to Whistling Straits. With just 51 days to go until the first ball is struck over at the Celtic Manor in Wales, we'll go ahead and get some opening comments from the captains. We'll begin with our visiting European captain, Colin, hello.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Thank you, Julius, hello, everybody, and delighted to be here again and thank you to The PGA of America for keeping up the tradition of inviting The Ryder Cup captain. I appreciate that. I wouldn't have qualified otherwise, so the invite is very, very good to receive, and I look forward to participating and competing in this event.
The golf course and the setup here is first-class, and I remember it from playing in 2004 and how wonderful the whole setup is here. And speaking on behalf of Corey, we both look forward, I'm sure to competing and to contend in this event, and also with one eye on our own golf, and of course, one eye on another 15 or 16 other guys. And it's very interesting at this time of year as to who makes and who doesn't make with respect to Ryder Cup teams and very interesting to see who is performing well under a huge amount of pressure.
So I look forward to the whole week from today onwards.
JULIUS MASON: Thank you very much, Captain Montgomerie. Captain Pavin.
COREY PAVIN: It's a pleasure to be up here with Colin and at the PGA Championship. It's the last major of the year and there's a lot at stake here besides the last major of the year, certainly for the U.S. Team, we are going to have eight players that are going to qualify at the end of this week that are going to be definitively on the team and that's very exciting. I am also here to play a golf tournament, as well. I'm here to play the best I can in the PGA Championship, and I think it's going to be a heck of a week.
It's the first time I've seen this golf course and it's a very good golf course, just a beautiful golf course to look at and to play, and I'm looking forward to a very exciting week.
JULIUS MASON: Thank you, captains. Questions?
No questions? Thank you very much for joining us today. (Smiling).
Q. You mentioned having an eye on other players. Could you talk about your preparation for this event and trying to play this event with all of The Ryder Cup things kind of in the back of your mind, as well?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think it does affect both our games. Although, Corey has been playing an awful lot better than I have recently. But I think it does affect us in preparation for our own game in trying to see everybody at the same time, if you like.
All my perspective clients are playing here, apart from obviously the injured Lee Westwood. So I have everybody here on site, and who is going to figure in that Ryder Cup. So I look forward to seeing them all through the week. And it is quite tiring to go around and having to visit with everybody to try and see everybody and to see how they feel and to see their schedule from now on until The Ryder Cup.
So it does take away from one's own practice and one's own preparation for a major championship, which, I'm sure, Corey and I are still capable of competing in.
COREY PAVIN: You know, it's wearing two hats here at the same time a little bit, which is what Ryder Cup is all about and what the PGA is about this week. It's been fun for me. I've played a couple of practice rounds with a few players that are potential team members, and it's been quite fun to do that.
But at the same time, I'm playing practice rounds; I'm getting ready for the tournament, as well. So it's a week I'm looking forward to. Sunday evening will be very interesting. I hope it will be interesting on many levels, including my play. As I said, I'm here to compete and play in the tournament, as well.
Q. I wonder if you can set us straight on the whole Tiger Woods thing. He said yesterday he would accept a pick. You were quoted on by the GOLF CHANNEL as saying he'll be on the team. There was a Tweet this morning that said you were misquoted. Probably more than me are confused. Could you run us through what's right and what's not?
COREY PAVIN: Let's straighten this out right now. I had a conversation with Jim Gray yesterday just outside the locker room near where we registered and he asked me a few questions and his interpretation of what I said is incorrect.
There's nobody that's promised any picks right now. It would be disrespectful to everybody that's trying to make the team. I've got quite a few people I'm looking at. I would not disrespect any of the players that are potential players on the team, and obviously there was a misinterpretation of what I said, and that is an incorrect quote.
Q. What do you make of Tiger's form on the course in recent weeks?
COREY PAVIN: Well, you know, I've watched him all year. I've watched all the players all year. Every player is in the same boat. Obviously there will be eight players that qualify, and I'm looking at a lot of players as my four captain's picks.
So I'm looking at everybody, and I have to see who the eight players are come the end of this week and try to complement those eight with the best four that I can come up with to have the best team I can field against a very strong European Team.
Q. In regards to the misquoting, could you kind of go through with us exactly what you did say that he could have taken so out of context?
COREY PAVIN: Well, I don't want to get into specifics of the conversation really. But it certainly was something I did not say. Let's just keep it as simple as that. It was incorrect.
Q. Monty, I don't know if you're aware, your old friend, Feherty went on a nationally syndicated radio show yesterday and talked about the existence of a super injunction in the U.K. that would bar some potentially embarrassing personal photos, wonder if you want to confirm, comment, deny the existence of those and how it might affect your captaincy at all.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, obviously I listened to that radio show and I know a lot of you are having a lot of fun right now at my expense.
Let me clear this up, though, that I can categorically say that there's no injunction against the News of the World. I'm really not going to discuss this any -- any further. All I can say is categorically there is no injunction against the News of the World regarding anything.
I apologize for this, that you have to bring this up, but at the same time, no further -- no further comments from myself on that matter.
Q. I know you played this morning with Rickie Fowler, his name comes up as a potential captain's pick. Can you give me your thoughts on picking a rookie to go overseas to play in a Ryder Cup for the first time? Do you have any thoughts on that?
COREY PAVIN: Well, I think in general, what I'm looking for in a player is the ability to play well in The Ryder Cup in Europe. And whoever type of player -- whoever that player is, is what I'm looking for. It's not a matter of whether they have played ten Ryder Cups or six Ryder Cups or none; it's going to be kind of a gut feeling of who I feel I think can handle the pressure the best over there.
And as I said, it doesn't matter what age they are. That's going to be part of my decision-making and that's part of my job as captain.
Q. Can you quantify specifically what you're looking for, characteristics-wise?
COREY PAVIN: I cannot. (Laughing).
And it's not that I will not. It's kind of a gut feeling. Obviously there's many factors that are involved in captain's picks and part of them is who are the eight players that are going to be on the team after this week and the four that complement them the best is going to be what I'm going to have to do. There's a lot of parameters that I'm going to be looking at and one will be, do I think they can handle the pressure over there.
Q. You said we might be having a bit of fun at your expense, but have you any concerns that your potential -- your team, might also be having some fun?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: None at all. None at all. I've spoken to a number of the players, and there's no issue here at all. Nothing at all.
Q. Have you spoken to Tiger this week, and when is the last time you spoke to him and when do you plan to speak with him? Or, is what he said yesterday good enough for you that you know he wants to play and be out there?
COREY PAVIN: No, I saw Tiger today, and we talked for a while. So, yes, I have talked to him.
Q. Could you share any of that conversation?
COREY PAVIN: I'm sorry?
Q. Could you share any of that conversation? Were you clearing up what was said yesterday?
COREY PAVIN: We were just trying to figure out what we were going to have for dinner tonight and how our kids are growing up and how they are getting bigger.
Actually, you know what, the conversations that I have with all of my players or potential players are between us. It's very serious stuff sometimes that we with talk about and sometimes it isn't. Out of respect for privacy and how I go about doing things, it won't be discussed besides what we've been eating and things like that.
Q. So if you're still making your decision, if Tiger misses the cut this week, and doesn't play again until The Ryder Cup, are you saying you wouldn't pick him for The Ryder Cup Team?
COREY PAVIN: I think September 7, I believe, is when I'll be making my announcement.
So there won't be any decisions made until September 7 when I have the press conference, and when that comes around, I will make my announcements and everything else is just pure speculation on maybe your part and my part, as well.
Q. There is an injunction against Paula Tadd; correct?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Excuse me, I'm here to talk about The Ryder Cup, okay. So please, no further questions on that or any other subject regarding anything -- or anything regarding my private life. By definition that, is private.
COREY PAVIN: I agree with Colin, actually. Let's stick to golf subjects here. We'd appreciate that. Thank you.
Q. You potentially have a pretty tough choice if things remain the same with your captain's picks, I believe there are four players in the Top-20 in the world who haven't even made the team yet. Just wondering if you can talk about how tough that would be, especially a guy like Harrington who has not yet made it.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I have a number of Top-20 players in the world as you so rightly say. I've got Justin Rose, PĂˇdraig Harrington and Paul Casey and there's a number of top, Top-20 players -- Molinari, too. It's a headache and it's a nice headache to have. It's the first time that a European captain has had such a strong team, if you like, that haven't quite qualified as yet.
I'll know a lot more after this event, the amount of world points and the amount of dollars to be earned in this particular event will see a change, and I'm looking forward to seeing what that outcome is at the end of this week. And then we have got two more weeks, as I say, to qualify, the Czech Open, and also the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles and we look forward to seeing who is going to make it.
Yeah, I will be discussing with my three vice captains and going through every scenario and pairings and locker rooms and all sorts, and we'll get that situation right. It's most unfortunate this particular year that I'm going to have to leave out, as I said to the British press last weekend, I'm going to have to leave out winners this year, and this is possibly the first time any European captain has had to do that.
Q. Are you at least encouraged by what Tiger said yesterday that he seems to be gung ho about playing on the team and would you like to see him play his way on to the roster this week?
COREY PAVIN: I would love to see him play his way on to the roster obviously. He's the No. 1 player in the world. I believe he's still ranked No. 1. He's a hell of a player, and I would like him to play well this week and make the top eight. That would be fantastic.
Q. Were you encouraged by his comments yesterday?
COREY PAVIN: Obviously I was glad. I didn't have any doubts about it before. I thought he certainly wants to play The Ryder Cup, and he wants to play well, you know, when he plays in The Ryder Cup. It didn't surprise me one bit.
Q. Two years ago, Paul Azinger really sort of encouraged the notion that they were underdogs going into The Ryder Cup and they played with a lot of -- with kind of a chip on their shoulder. How much are you planning to do anything like that with the team or in public going into this Ryder Cup?
COREY PAVIN: Well, I've been reading a lot that we are underdogs. I think Colin is going to have a heck of a team. You know, just the problems that Colin is talking about, they are good problems to have as a captain. They are going to be very strong.
I think we are going to have a pretty darned good team, too, but it's hard to play overseas. We are over in Europe; Colin is going to have the luxury of setting up the golf course the way he wants, just as Paul had the luxury of setting up Valhalla the way he wanted to.
I think obviously there's going to be a larger contingent of European fans there, as well. And the last time we won overseas was 1993, which is a long time ago. So there's a lot of things that we have to overcome as a team, and certainly I know that we are capable of doing it, but I suspect that we are underdogs going in.
Q. As a captain of The European Team, if you stand up there and you see Tiger Woods on the tee, does that -- does he still have that same aura, do you think, that he may have had? Obviously this year has been difficult for him. Does he still have that same aura, and do you think he will bring that if he is on the team?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, I believe that Tiger -- I'm speaking for Corey, here, and I shouldn't -- (chuckled).
COREY PAVIN: That's okay.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think Corey is dead right. It would be great to see Tiger coming back into some form this week and actually making the top eight for the U.S. Team. As I've said many times before, The Ryder Cup is a better, bigger event with Tiger Woods playing in it than without when he was injured last time.
So I hope that he is playing. And to answer your question, yes, of course there's a huge aura regarding Tiger Woods, still, and it's the one name that all our team will be looking for if they are going to play against him in any form of The Ryder Cup Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. And it's the first name that would spring to mind for any of my team.
Of course, it's a huge aura playing against him, and something that my team will relish the opportunity of playing against what we all believe is the best player of our generation.
Q. Do you still think he's the best U.S. player?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I think the U.S. Team are a very strong outfit this year. There is more strength and depth in the American Team than there has been in previous years.
So, yes, he's the best player in the world; so therefore the best player on the team, so the gap is closing.
Q. With all of that said, obviously you wouldn't have this opportunity, but if you were in Corey's shoes and you had to have the choice, would you pick him? Would you pick Tiger to be on the team?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, that's a very -- that's a very difficult, dangerous, and undiplomatic question. (Laughter).
But of course I'd pick him, yes. (Laughter).
COREY PAVIN: Let me make a note of that. (Laughter) Thanks for the help. Appreciate it. He's very helpful that way, Colin is.
Q. In regards to Lee Westwood, it looks like he may not be inside the ropes now until actually The Ryder Cup. Can you talk about what you think he will bring to the team if he can play and how you may or may not limit him if he gets on the team?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I've just spoken to Chubby Chandler here, his manager, and having spoken to Lee, he will be hitting balls in four weeks, which is great news for everybody in Europe. He's our top-ranked player and our Ryder Cup Team will be greatly weakened if he didn't make it. So I'm delighted that he is going to hit balls within four weeks, and that gives him still another couple of weeks to prepare.
He wants to play in the preceding event, which is The Vivendi Cup, and I would be glad to see him play there, but otherwise, if he doesn't, I'm sure three practice rounds around Celtic Manor will be good enough for Lee. As I say, he's our top-ranked player, he's our No. 1 player, and I'm just glad, so glad to hear that news today that he will be hitting balls in four weeks' time.
Q. Given your last two answers, are you amused or surprised that we are even having discussions about whether the world No. 1, arguably the greatest player of all time, will be included in The Ryder Cup?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, it is interesting, he has taken a lot of time away from the game so has not been able to gather as many points as the other guys who have been playing. So that's why the situation arises.
But, yes, looking at this two years ago, you wouldn't have thought that on my side, you wouldn't have thought Sergio GarcĂa, Harrington, Casey, Rose, Henrik Stenson, Robert Karlsson wouldn't be on that team, as you wouldn't, of course, Tiger Woods, on your own team.
So it's amazing how things change within sport, and five minutes in sport is a long time, never mind two years.
Q. Would both gentlemen just discuss the golf course, just share a thought or two on it? And also, going to Wales for the first time.
JULIUS MASON: Thoughts on Celtic Manor?
COREY PAVIN: You're asking about this course as well, correct?
JULIUS MASON: Celtic Manor.
COREY PAVIN: Yeah, I think Celtic Manor is going to be a pretty good venue for The Ryder Cup. It's a very straightforward golf course. I think it's going to be set up with a lot of rough, I believe (glancing sideways at Colin.)
I think one of the neatest things about the golf course is the finishing holes out there. 15 is a reachable par 4 that a lot of matches are going to have some swings there.
And the 18th hole is a very risk/reward par 5 with water short. The players will have a chance to reach it in two. There will be some very serious decisions that have to be made on that hole. I'm sure the course will be in fantastic shape. I played in The Wales Open last year, and was pretty impressed with the golf course then.
I think it's going to be a fabulous venue and there's going to be some huge crowds there, some beautiful vantage points to watch the event for the fans, and the people of Wales are extremely excited to have it there. They have been nothing but hospitable to Lisa and myself over there and The PGA of America.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I'd like to second that, obviously. We have more experience at the course, obviously having played The Wales Open there for the last three years.
This year, I must admit, although we had a fantastic winner in Graeme McDowell, followed hotly by Luke Donald, the winner of this year's Wales Open was the golf course. It stood the test and it was in tremendous condition. The weather was set fair, and I think the course has matured into a very, very good match-play golf course, which is what it was, of course, built for.
As Corey so rightly says, there's a couple of real risk/reward holes coming in, 14, 15, and 18, especially, and in saying that, I think it's matured into the course that Ross McMurray and The European Tour design team were wanting it to be. We are all encouraged by the venue, and as Corey says, the hospitality that has been shown to everybody who has attended in meetings and so forth throughout the time has been first class. We welcome everybody from these shores across there towards the end of September, and we hope you have a great time.
Q. If Tiger doesn't make the team, under what circumstances would you not take him?
COREY PAVIN: Tune in on September 7. You know, it's -- I think there's a lot of players that I'm looking at. There's maybe 20 players that I would be looking at right now for those four spots. It's going to be very important to me to have everybody mesh together and come together as a team.
I think Tiger would be an exceptional addition to the team, and he's certainly under considerable consideration, as well. There's a lot of guys that I'm looking at, like I said; he's definitely high on the list, and I'll be looking at it for the next three weeks after this week.
Q. If you could recall, back to April, would you have guessed after he returned and finished tied for fourth at the Masters that we would be discussing this?
COREY PAVIN: I'm sorry?
Q. If you could think back to April when he tied for fourth at the Masters, would you have expected to be discussing this right now, based on what you -- based on that tournament?
COREY PAVIN: I think what everybody thinks; that we thought that he would qualify on points. I thought he would qualify on points and he still has a chance to qualify on points this week. He has not played as full of a schedule as he normally does, and I think it's obvious that he has not played to the standards that he wants to play, as well.
I'll just keep monitoring what's going on. There's this week; there's another three weeks after this, and I'll see how he's playing. I'll see how everybody else is playing. Out of sheer respect and admiration for every player that's out here on the Tour and trying to make this team, I have to give everybody a fair shake.
Q. I know it's been a while since the flipside of this question was asked, but if you had the opportunity, would you pick PĂˇdraig Harrington?
COREY PAVIN: (Laughter). Let's see, who should Colin pick.
That's an impossible question. I'm sitting here talking about who I'm looking at, and I don't even know who I'm going to pick in three weeks' time, 3 1/2 weeks' time.
To me, sitting here thinking about who Colin is going to pick; I have enough to think about. I'm sure Colin will make excellent, excellent choices. He's a reasonably smart guy and he's going to pick the team that he feels is going to represent Europe the best. I wish him the best in those choices. They are very difficult choices to make for captains to figure this out. It's also some of the most fun things to try to figure out. I'm really enjoying this part of The Ryder Cup year, and I know the next 3 1/2 weeks are going to be probably the most enjoyable for me is to try to figure out who is going to be the best four to pick for the other eight.
Q. Two years ago at Kentucky, the U.S. were very unified, did very well, without Tiger Woods. Do you and your players genuinely sincerely believe the U.S. is stronger or weaker with Tiger on the team?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yeah, good question, I think unfortunately having won The Ryder Cup without him, I do feel the American Team would be stronger with him. (Smiling).
COREY PAVIN: Got to write that down, too.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: That's how I see it. How can any team possibly be weaker with the No. 1 player playing? You just can't -- you can't see that. And I don't see it. He's a wonderful, wonderful player, and as I said, the best player of our generation, if not a few generations. No team would be weaker with him on it, believe me.
Q. Despite what you say, do you feel his relatively poor record when it comes to Ryder Cup play, do you not feel that in some way perhaps makes you think otherwise?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I mean, his record in The Ryder Cup isn't that bad. He's only lost one singles back in 1997. There's very, very few people haven't lost any singles. (Laughter).
COREY PAVIN: That was a leading comment there, Mr. Montgomerie.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: At the same time, I think his record is not as bad as people make out. It's just not as good as his individual record has been, which has been extreme.
We just look forward to welcoming him to Wales if Corey makes that decision; it's his decision, of course, but we welcome anybody that Corey selects, and look forward to the Matches.
Q. Do you think too much has been made about the argument that now with Tiger's marital situation that there would be friction amongst maybe the wives?
COREY PAVIN: Yes, I do. I think it's a non-issue really. I think it has nothing to do with Ryder Cup at all.
Q. And would you actually make the point to ensure if he were on the team that that wouldn't be an issue? Would you actually do something?
COREY PAVIN: No. I don't think anything needs to be done. I think whoever is on the team is going to be welcomed and we are going to be a team unit when we are there, which includes players, wives, caddies, assistant captains, everybody is going to be one unit, period.
Q. On your wild cards, nearly all of the candidates you mentioned have indicated that they are going to play at The Barclays, rather than Gleneagles.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes.
Q. Wonder if we could get your comments on that in light of your thoughts early in the year at Celtic Manor.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Yes, what's happened is a number of my potential candidates are going to be playing over here, as opposed to at Gleneagles. I said at the start of the year that I would like everybody that was in that position to be playing at Gleneagles.
I accept that the FedEx series and the way they have played and how well they have played has given them opportunity to do very well within this FedEx series.
I think it's a big change in -- I think it's a big reason why the American Team did so well last time, two years ago, at Valhalla, is due to the FedEx series in that it's keeping the Americans playing throughout this time between the US PGA and The Ryder Cup; it's about a six-week gap.
A lot of the Americans are now playing competitive golf between that time and the FedEx series has helped them. So if that's helping the Americans play well, there's no reason why it shouldn't help us, as well. I have a number of players, a great number, more than half my team, will be competing in that FedEx series, and I wish them success.
So it won't affect them either way if they don't happen to be playing at Gleneagles.
Q. Obviously Steve Stricker is a player that a lot of people locally follow and he's played himself into position to be on your team and he's had success in the past in international competition; what impresses you about Steve's game, his makeup, that you think he would be an asset for your team?
COREY PAVIN: Absolutely a great asset. Steve has tremendous experience in Presidents Cup and Ryder Cup. I mean, he's playing fabulous golf. I think he's one of the best putters that we have and chippers, assuming he will make the team, which it looks like he will. Very solid player. He can play with anybody. He's very flexible with pairings, things like that.
And on top of that, I think he's a great guy, a super guy, as well as his wife. I certainly hope that he makes the team. I think everybody in this room would probably say he's somebody you would pick to be on the team at the beginning of the year.
Q. To both Monty and Corey. If either one of you were to win this week, would you consider putting yourself on the team?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: (Chuckling). No. (Laughter).
I think that it's a question that, of course, isn't written down. There's no laws against it not happening. I said at the start of the year that all of my points were null and void at the start of the year, and that comment remains; that however many points I achieve here or win a major championship, which has been a goal that I haven't succeeded, as opposed to my opposing captain here, I won't be playing in The Ryder Cup this year, no. As appointed captain, a great honor it is and I look forward to captaining the team, as opposed to playing on it.
COREY PAVIN: Very similar answer for me. I would not. Hypothetically -- I don't like hypothetical questions generally, but if I were to win this week and get enough points to make the team, I would certainly bow out and not play. There's been a lot of players that have played Ryder Cups and there's only so many players that have an opportunity to be captain, and it's a tremendous honor and one that I certainly do not take lightly and I think it would be pretty impossible to play and be captain. Captain is my first choice. If I did have a second choice, which I, you know, probably won't, but I think, no, I don't think it's a plausible thing to do.
JULIUS MASON: Captains Montgomerie and Pavin, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you very much.
End of FastScripts