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September 29, 2002

Paul Azinger

David Duval

Jim Furyk

Scott Hoch

Phil Mickelson

Curtis Strange

David Toms

Tiger Woods


GORDON SIMPSON: Welcome to Curtis Strange and the U.S. team. Curtis, what a day. What a match. And it's amazing your players accepted defeat in great sportsmanship and dignity, you must be proud of all 12 of them.

CURTIS STRANGE: That's the way they grew up. That's the way they are. I'd like to say to start out it was a wonderful day. It really, truly was. We played pretty good golf. I didn't see -- again, I didn't see a lot of the shots. But I think we played pretty well. I just think this they played exceptionally well. We got beat. That happens, and the fans were fantastic, the atmosphere was something that we will never forget, and guys hold their heads high, and we'll be back in two years.

Q. Question for Curtis. Everyone is saying, Curtis, that you handed the Ryder Cup to Europe by not putting your top players at the top out first. Do you agree?

CURTIS STRANGE: I think Scott Hoch can play a pretty good game of golf. And I think David Toms is a pretty good player. And I think David Duval is a pretty good player. So obviously if somebody says that, it shows me that -- well, I won't say that. (Laughter.) I would tend to disagree, as simple as that. I think it's an insult to those three players, quite frankly.

Q. I'd just like to say congratulations. That was some beautiful golf out there. And there are 12 fabulous players, here. There's no question necessarily.

Q. Could I ask Tiger about perhaps a new sense of bonding between yourselves and the European players. Perhaps after Brookline there was an unsavory taste left in the mouth. Do you feel this Ryder Cup has gone a long way to changing that? Tell us your perspective on that.

TIGER WOODS: I think this Ryder Cup was played in the fashion that the Ryder Cup was initially designed. And it was just a beautiful week. Obviously we didn't come out on top, but it was the best thing for golf to have it played this way. The fans were bipartisan, which is the way they should be, but they were fair. And they were respectful. And they like seeing good golf shots, and they cheered when we hit good golf shots, and they were respectful and courteous the entire week. We are certainly appreciative of that.

Q. Could I put that to David Duval, as well. Is there now a new sense of Ryder Cup -- did you think the matches were contested very well?

DAVID DUVAL: I think the players conducted themselves extremely well. I think that the question like you're asking stems from not actually being out there and being amongst the players as they're competing. I say that simply because if you were there, the question wouldn't be asked. You would see how the people are acting, the concession of putts, the congratulations on good putts, things of that nature. It was very good this week, and I imagine it will continue to be that way.

Q. Could I put a question to Mark Calcavecchia about his match, and to David Duval, and to Jim Furyk about his game in quick succession, please.

MARK CALCAVECCHIA: Padraig beat me 5-to-4, what else do you know? He was 4-under, I was 1-over, that pretty much says it all. No, he played good. He was pretty much in control on the whole way. I made a silly bogey the third hole and he made a great save for par on four, and then I hit it in the rough on 5. Anyway, I got going the wrong way, and he was solid. Padraig played good. He made a bomb on 9 that was going off the green. That's the way it goes. I certainly gave it all I had and enjoyed the matches.

Q. And David Duval, the game with Clarke.

DAVID DUVAL: We both played very well. I gave Darren a couple of holes. He gave me one, I think, too, so that was kind of even. I was never ahead actually in the match. However, it was very close the whole time. I was quickly 2-down after two holes. But I think that from 10 through 18, you saw exceptionally good play, very good shots from tee-to-green. You saw good putts, good putts that are made on top of each other. Certainly he would have liked to have won the match, as would I. However, as I said earlier, if there was ever a match that should have been halved that might have been it.

Q. And Jim, just a word.

JIM FURYK: I actually played against Paul three matches this week. He's a wonderful gentleman. I never met him before. I told him afterwards that I felt like I made a new friend this week. He's a wonderful man. Our match -- I got up on him early. I played very well early in the match. I slipped a little bit in the middle. I made some poor decisions on 8, 10 and 13. He won those three holes, although I still was leading the match at that time. And I played very solidly down the stretch, not making a bogey, and making a couple of birdies. And his putt at 17 pretty much -- he made about a 10- to 12-footer on 17 for birdie, and a 10- to 12-footer on 18 to halve the match. And he came up with some big putts when he needed them.

Q. Davis, you appeared pretty hot on 18. And you've also made a couple of comments in the past about Sergio's histrionics. Can you walk us through what happened and what your feelings were and what your feelings are now.

DAVIS LOVE III: I was mad that we had lost the Ryder Cup. I was upset. And the only comment I have about the end of my match is Pierre Fulke is one of the classiest players I've ever been around for 18 holes. He was very classy and at 18th fairway he offered me an out, he offered me the point. He offered me a half a point, and I took him up on the offer. And that's the way the match is, Curtis and Sam asked us to play the matches, and Pierre held that all the way through. And even with my blunder on 10 when he missed a little putt and I ran off the green to the 11th tee, I forgot to give him the putt. He came up smiling on that one, which could have set a lot of people off. And he's the story of the 18th hole, in my match, and I'm proud of him for that and I'll always respect him for the way he handled it all the way through. And that's really my only comment.

I just shook hands with Sergio out on the walk back, just like I did everybody else. And we're all friends, and that's the way I think it's going to end. We all will play together; maybe not next week -- we're not going to stay over and play at St. Andrews -- but in the next few months we'll all be back together again and it will be fun for me to see Darren Clarke and Thomas Bjorn, and all the boys. Ask like we said earlier, like Jim said, I wouldn't have Darren Clarke for a good friend if it wasn't for the Ryder Cup. So I'm thankful for that and that Curtis and Sam made us play the way we did.

Q. Question for Paul Azinger. Paul, your match, can you talk about that incredible last bunker shot?

PAUL AZINGER: Well, we both played okay, nothing special. I didn't play that great. He definitely outplayed me all day. He was ahead all day. I hit it two and a half feet on the first hole and he made a 15-footer. He was really into it and he was pumping his fists when he drove it in the fairway. He was excitable and excited and he had a great time. He's probably horse, I think, he was jacking the crowd up the whole time. It never looked like he would lose that match or halve the match. And on the last hole I understood the situation and the gravity of the circumstances as early as about probably 15. And I just got lucky on 18. I was trying to force a 6-iron, I didn't want to hit a 5, I had 182 up that hill and the breeze right-to-left a little bit. And I thought I can get 6-iron on the top shelf. And I tried to squeeze it and I pulled it into that bunker. I asked my caddy actually before I hit it, I said I need to hole this, don't I? And he didn't even answer me. (Laughter.) But it was lucky. I didn't even have a good lie. It was a little down slope, sitting kind of heavy in the sand and it just came out great.

CURTIS STRANGE: Don't make it seem tougher than it really was. We know you're good.

PAUL AZINGER: I thought the ball might be better when I walked up from this direction. But I was just lucky, it was a great moment for me. I wish it would have been enough, but it was a great moment for me, and I was just lucky it went in.

Q. For nobody in particular, on paper when we sit down and analyze this thing before it's played, you guys appear the overwhelming favorites. This, again, the result again is very indicative of the recent history of the matches. As the best players in the world, can you guys impress upon us the importance of not playing this on paper and why match play and the whole show seems to turn out so evenly and so unpredictable?

CURTIS STRANGE: I'd like to start, and then somebody can follow-up. But I think that sometimes we don't give Sam's team enough credit, because they can really play. Most of them play -- and I'd have to look at the numbers -- but most of them play quite regularly in the states. Others play the European Tour. That's not a knock, it's just where they play, and it doesn't mean they can't play.

No. 2 is that these Ryder Cup matches are -- that's one of the reasons why we like to watch them. They're close because they bring out the best in players. And the excitement, match play as you all hear, and we're tired of hearing about it, is like that. If you get going for 18 holes you can beat anybody in the world, because you only have to sustain top play for four hours versus 72 holes of stroke-play. So that's the way it is. And when you play in front of a crowd, wonderful crowd like they had today, it carries you on. It inspires you. You have no idea how much it inspires you to carry on. And my whole sense is that the second half of this roster that I see today was purely inspired by the crowd. They played well, but -- we lost, but it was a hell of an atmosphere to be part of. And I hate that we lost. But it was a hell of an atmosphere to be a part of.

Q. Can I get Phil to address that?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, on paper Tiger is the number one player in the world. And over 72 holes he seems to win a lot of majors. But very rarely does he ever lead after 18, and not too often does he lead after 36. And quite a bit he leads after 54. My point is after 18 holes, like Curtis said, anybody can beat the best in the world if they play well for 18 holes. And when you have the crowd giving them momentum after winning early matches, that momentum leads those players to play their best. And although on paper we might be favored, that doesn't mean anything during the match. You still have to play your best. And if we don't play our best, we don't win very many points.

CURTIS STRANGE: Let me follow-up one thing that I said afterwards, I haven't been asked tonight, but I will be. Sam did one remarkable job today. And I mean by that I thought he took a hell of a gamble by front-loading his team like he did, a heck of a gamble. Because if they don't do well, in my mind it was over. But they went out and played well. They got blue on the board in the first four matches early. And then the crowd got into it. And I think that was exactly what he wanted. The crowd got into it, it inspired the rest of the team. In my mind there were a couple of upsets. And they won the match. I think he had a hell of a gamble. It turns out to be smart. But I've never seen that. I've never seen somebody front-load like that and play on home-field advantage, it looks pretty good now, it really does.

And just to explain -- one more second -- just to explain what we did, we put top players to start, we wanted a point early, a point or two. We put top players early. And then we had to put top players at the end, obviously. And that's no -- it's terrible to say on my part, because I'm acting like there's top players and not top players, but everybody on my team, I have the fullest of confidence in. But when you talk about Love, Mickelson and Woods at the end, thinking, as it turned out when I saw the matches top-load, I'm thinking what if they do well? Then I like what I have at the end. And one other question was that if there's one player in this world that you want finishing last with the complete Ryder Cup matches riding on it, you want the best player that you have, right? Best player in the world, Tiger Woods. That's why he was last. That's why Phil Mickelson was second. You figure it might come down to the end, especially when we saw the draw and saw that he top-loaded. So just to clarify what we did, that's it.

Q. This question is for Tiger: How frustrating and disappointing was it that the Ryder Cup was settled before you had a chance to do anything about it?

TIGER WOODS: It was frustrating. I felt -- going down the first hole, I told Jesper, he was asking me do you think -- what do you think of the board? I said, well, I think it will probably come down to our match. So let's go out there and let's enjoy it, have some fun, play hard, compete. And let's see what happens. And I wish it would have come down to our match, but unfortunately it didn't. I realize that we weren't going to win after I hit my tee shot on 17. People were yelling, as soon as I walked to the fairway that's when they clinched the cup. It was a little bit frustrating. But at least I hit one of the best 3-irons I've ever hit on 17, though. That was kind of cool (laughter.)

Q. Did you understand the strategy of being in the 12th spot?


PAUL AZINGER: We discussed it all together, and we felt Scott Hoch was as hot as anybody on our team.

JIM FURYK: Especially Zinger, he discussed it quite a bit.

CURTIS STRANGE: I said when he's captain, he can do damn well what he wants to (laughter.)

PAUL AZINGER: We were all huddled together, and discussed it, we thought throwing three guys that were really hot and a guy like Hal Sutton with tons of heart, and Calc that can be super streaky and hot. And to anchor the team was great strategy. And it was really. They played great. There's not a whole lot you can do about that.

Q. Phil, I wanted to follow up with you on your comments from before, how that specifically affected your match? Did you get the sense that your opponent had momentum before you started?

PHIL MICKELSON: I knew that my match was going to be a critical point and that was because we were losing many of our first matches. And that just seemed to put a little more pressure on me, and the last few guys to get out to a good start. And when I didn't, it made it very difficult to get it back.

Q. Curtis, the Europeans have four rookies that were unbeaten. You won two matches today both from rookies, is kind of the rookie jinx or whatever, is that kind of a myth now?

CURTIS STRANGE: I don't know of any rookie jinx, I've never been a believer in a so-called rookie on the Ryder Cup team is a true rookie. He's a world-class player, qualified for the team. I never have. I felt that when it was my first team. Let's go play. You need to qualify for the team, you've won tournaments, you've won enough points for the team. I think a lot of it has to do with such -- David Toms can speak, and Stewart, and Scott Verplank on what they felt this week and how exciting it was for them and what they felt. I can't explain that. But I think they were so fired up it's kind of neat to see. You talk to him.

DAVID TOMS: As far as one of the rookies might have done well? To me, first of all, like Curtis said, I don't feel like a rookie. I've gotten really close to everybody on the team this week. You don't feel like an outsider all of a sudden on their team. You feel like one, all 12 guys together. And then when you're paired in the first part of the week with somebody that has experience, like I was with Phil Mickelson, he kept me in there, even when I felt like I was maybe losing a little bit, he kept me in there and just kept pumping me up, and that carries over to the singles matches, that, hey, I've done this, I've done it all week, and I feel comfortable, and just go out and play your game.

Q. This question is for Scott Hoch. I wanted some comment with your match about Montgomerie, and what's it like playing with somebody that's playing that well.

SCOTT HOCH: I hear how well I'm playing, but you'd never know it from the record, would you? I played decent today. I hit a lot of good shots, didn't capitalize on all of them. And when I did miss a shot I had trouble getting up-and-down. But that wasn't the story. He was the story. I played against him three matches this week, and I don't think I've ever seen anybody putt as well as he has for three straight -- I'm sure he did it for all five matches, but for three matches I saw him play, that's as good as I've really seen anybody play, and especially putt. And my hat's off to him. I you told him when we got done, I said, I don't want any part of him over here, but come on back to the States and we might play another match (laughter.) But he's tough. He's got my number. But I was actually happy when it came up that I was going to play him first. And what we saw we were going to do. Most of the time I feel I'm a pretty good match player. And he kind of got me at the Valderrama, we had some unfinished business. But thanks to him I came out with a halve there. And he dusted me off and my partners off this week. So I was ready for him, I thought. And it looks like he was more ready for me than I was for him (laughter.) I think he was like 7-under for 14 holes.

Q. This is for Phil and Hal. Could you talk about how the golf course set up impacted the final result this week?

PHIL MICKELSON: How it impacted what?

Q. How it impacted the final outcome.

PHIL MICKELSON: I thought that because everybody had to play the course, that it wouldn't have an effect either way, and I still feel that. I felt it was a very fair test. The greens were in great shape. Actually they were in great shape for two days. They were really difficult to putt on in the later matches today after there had been a bunch of people walking on them. The poa annua gets a little bumpier, all the matches at the end were tough to putt. The fairways were immaculate. The rough was fair, and you could oftentimes get it out of there. I thought it was a set-up that -- in a major championship or regular TOUR event it might favor some style of play, but in this format of match play I don't think that it makes a difference because everybody has to play it in a head-to-head competition format, and I didn't think it made a difference.

HAL SUTTON: Every golf course favors a certain style of player, and this week it was imperative that you stay out of the rough and you hit your putts hard (laughter.) That is all I can say.

GORDON SIMPSON: Gentlemen, you've contributed greatly to an exciting week and we'll look forward to Oakland Hills in two years time. Thanks for being here this week.

End of FastScripts....

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