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September 27, 2002

Paul Azinger


THE MODERATOR: Paul, unlucky this morning, but start us off with a few of the thoughts with how the day went to morning.

PAUL AZINGER: Well, we just ran into a couple of guys that played exceptionally well. They made a lot of birdies. And they made miles of putts. I think the back nine they made six putts, probably over 15 feet, maybe over 18 feet. They made a 20-footer on 10, by Bjorn. 50-footer on 12 by Bjorn. We had it close on 13 and Darren Clarke made about an 18- or 20-footer. I had a gimmee birdie for the most part on 15. And Bjorn made about a 15- or 18-footer. Then they hit a gimmee. On 18 we hit a gimmee there and made a 25-footer. There's nothing you can do in this game of match play -- actually golf, there's nothing you can do to control your opponent. And usually -- I think we were 9 or 10-under -- we were 9-under -- I would say that would probably win 95 out of a hundred matches. But there's an occasion when you run into some guys that play well. Those guys played terrific. And Tiger and I did, too, but it wasn't quite good enough.

Q. How would you describe the atmosphere out there?

PAUL AZINGER: The atmosphere was fantastic. I wasn't in Boston, I'm sure it's completely different. The Boston crowd was extremely vocal. The Boston crowd, they're tough, anyway. I thought this was very cordial, extremely patriotic.

Q. Nothing unpleasant?

PAUL AZINGER: Not one unpleasant comment, and I think that bodes well for this crowd.

Q. Is it easier to take a defeat when you've played as well as you have and lost to people playing better?

PAUL AZINGER: Well, yeah, I suppose. But had I played really lousy or we played lousy and gotten beat, I'm sure I would have felt a little worse, just because you have to go out and play again the next day. But the fact that -- I've got a lot of confidence. I've come a long way since Tuesday. I commented to Tiger on 18, I didn't play with him Thursday morning. I said, "I've come a long way since Wednesday, don't you think?" And he said, yeah. I did hit some decent shots today. Tiger is playing great. He'll win some points. Just to watch him up close like that, even in a losing effort, was just spectacular.

Q. Paul, can you talk just a little bit about the mood of the team? Curtis had wanted to get off to a fast start, and it's another three for the Europeans, and one for the American start?

PAUL AZINGER: I think we were glad to get the last point. Padraig looked like he got tapped on that last putt he hit. I think the mood of the team is fine. It's very, very early. It seems like in the past that when the pressure is on, one team or the other, they seem to respond. And if history bodes well, we'll respond in the afternoon.

Q. At any time did you and Tiger have any philosophical exchanges about the effect of, well, what can we do about this?

PAUL AZINGER: Well, actually I asked if they were going to birdie every hole on No. 4. Darren birdied the first three. And not too much. We pretty much tried to mind our own business and do what we needed to do.

Q. You can only do as well as you can do, can't you?

PAUL AZINGER: Yeah, you just shrug your shoulder and say we did great, but they played better.

Q. Did Tiger say anything to you about what happened on the first, when he was playing out of the bunker --?

PAUL AZINGER: I never asked him about it. I think someone snapped a camera, I'm not a hundred percent sure, but I never asked him about it. I didn't want him to dwell on it beyond that instant. A lot of times if that happens to you early, it can be in the back of your mind on every shot that it could happen on your downswing. It's a distraction. You don't want that to happen, and I didn't want to bring it up. I didn't ask him what happened.

Q. You say you made that comment about birdieing every hole; cordial between the two sides?

PAUL AZINGER: Very cordial. Even Thomas Bjorn, I walked out to see the first group off in the afternoon, and I said something to Thomas and he just said it was a terrific match, and it's the most fun he's ever had and it was great company and wonderful and all that. I think that Tiger and Darren Clarke hit a lot of balls together with Butch Harmon, and Thomas and I have gotten on for a while. I've known him for a while. And that's the way it should be. Now is a different era for the Ryder Cup. There was a lot of animosity that had been stirred up beginning in probably 1987. And we didn't really know the European players. They obviously were a little better than us and didn't remind us they were better, that's the way we felt. And with the World Tour kind of the way it is, we see each other quite a bit more often, and there's no need for that. Certainly the times would never dictate that we would be treating each other any way but as a gentleman.

Q. Tiger hasn't got a great record in the Ryder Cup, and he lost again today. How much do you think that other players raise their game to new levels, because they are playing against the world number one?

PAUL AZINGER: Well, I'm not sure, because I wasn't in Spain, I don't know what happened there. I know the golf course in Spain was set up to neutralize our power as a team, because we were much bigger hitters. Brookline, I think he was neutralized a little bit. I don't know what his record is there. Here there's nothing he can do. We've got some very powerful hitters that are forced to hit irons off every tee. Tiger hit driver off both par-5s. And he's hitting to a small area, and there's -- the guy is forced to play back. His strength is his power. And he hit iron -- I think he hit three woods today. They do get up for him. If I played him I would be so jacked up to play him head-to-head, are you kidding? It would be great.

Q. With those putts dropping, it says something about the greens, but how would you describe the nature of the greens?

PAUL AZINGER: Well, they're a hundred percent poa annua, and the ball can't wiggle on them, they're not the most true greens, because obviously nobody has played on them. There was no footprints ahead of us. And footprints you don't really take into consideration, but make a dig difference when you're out there. They were perfect. You should see a lot of putts made. The greens are fine, but poa annua greens, the ball zigzags a little bit on them.

Q. Has this course been set up to neutralize you, as well, like you said Valderrama was?

PAUL AZINGER: It's a home course advantage, and they clearly took advantage of it. Somebody suggested to me the possibility of having somebody that's neutral set up the golf course. And I don't know about that, but I think the golf course has definitely neutralized the strength of the American team. We have a more powerful team, big hitters like Tiger and Phil Mickelson and David Duval and Davis love, they've got to pull back the reins. I'm not saying that you guys have a short team on the European side, but certainly not as long. And I think if it was driver on driver, we might have a little bit of an edge, but the driver has been taken out of our hands for the most part. It's more of an even playing field in that respect. I really believe the teams are so evenly matched, I really do believe that. And what Sam is going to do is the guys that aren't playing well, he's going to let them sit. And that's just the way it is. And it keeps it real close.

Q. The Tiger-proofing, is the worst example of that the 10th hole, which would be a very --?

PAUL AZINGER: The 10th hole? I think that people think that on a Tiger-proof golf course you have to lengthen it. That doesn't Tiger-proof the golf course. If you force Tiger to hit it the same distance as everybody else, then you've Tiger-proofed it. But if you want me to comment on No. 10?

Q. Yes, please.

PAUL AZINGER: I'm really surprised. I always felt like No. 10 is the greatest match play hole I've ever seen. A lot can happen there. And we're relegated to 7-iron, pitching wedge. And there's not a lot of drama in that. But tons of drama if guys can crank 3-wood or long iron on that green. I don't know if they intend to move it up or keep it back later in the week. We have five or six guys that can go on the green from where it used to be, and I don't know how many they have.

End of FastScripts....

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