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August 22, 2012

Paul McGinley


MICHAEL GIBBONS:  Good morning, Paul, thanks for joining us.  Welcome to the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.  Congratulations on your vice captaincy appointment.  Can we get a few comments about that before we go into questions?
PAUL McGINLEY:  Obviously it's another great honour to be chosen by Ollie.  I think he'd be a great captain.  I played under him when he was captain in the Royal Trophy.  I don't know what year it was, three or four years ago.  I really enjoyed that.  I think he would be a terrific captain.
We have obviously got the same backroom team that‑‑ well, three of them, I don't know who the fourth one is going to be.¬† We had a fourth one in Wales which worked successfully, too.¬† I think it's great.¬† I think it's going to be a very tough Ryder Cup.¬† I think of all of The Ryder Cups I've played in, I probably put it up on par with the Belfry when Sam was captain.¬† I think we did incredibly well to win that Ryder Cup.¬† The other Ryder Cups I've been involved in, I always felt we had a stronger team and looked good.
This one, I think that it's not that we have gone weak, but I think the Americans have become very strong.  A lot of their top players are playing very well that made the team and a lot of their players are on form.  And along with our team, which is just as strong obviously, it's going to be a great Ryder Cup.  I think it's really going to be very, very close.

Q.  You were at Celtic Manor and you've obviously seen José Maria in action.  How does his passion come across to the players in things like that?
PAUL McGINLEY:  I think it's passion and it's also respect.  He's done so much in the game and he's done so much in The Ryder Cup context.  I think Celtic Manor, Monty had pictures of him and Seve all around the team room, which was great.
He brought a lot of passion obviously.  But The Ryder Cup is not just about passion.  A lot of it is tactics, as well, too.  Tactically you've got to be very astute, and I think he was very good at that.  What I saw in Celtic Manor, he did very well tactically, too.
That's very important; the two hats the captain wears, bringing the players and firing them up and having them properly motivated but also it's a very tactical position to have, captain.¬† And it's a position that originally when I came in, I thought it was more about the players, and it definitely is still about the players, but the captain plays a huge role.¬† The captain plays a bigger role than I ever thought of before I played The Ryder Cup, and I think that was‑‑ that's what Ollie‑‑ he's going to bring that passion.¬† He's going to bring that flair, and he's going to be on side with all of the players; they obviously all like him and respect him and I think tactically, as well, too, from what I saw in Celtic Manor, I think he's going to have that, as well, too.

Q.  Inaudible.
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† Well, it's obviously how your pairings go out, who plays, who doesn't play, how you handle the players who play, how you handle the players who don't play, how you work your overall plan for the week; all of those things, are very important, and tactics are shifting sands, always changing during the week depending how certain players come on form, come off form and have a good finish to a match and are confident and have a poor finish‑‑ I don't want to give too much away if the Americans are listening.¬† There's so much that goes into it and the captain's role is always a very important role and I think he'll play a big role in that.
For example, look at Monty two years ago, he had to really think on his feet when they changed the whole context of the match with the rain delay and we actually played more matches; I think we had six, nearly everybody played, didn't they.  We changed the whole format, so he really had to think on his feet.  That's what I mean by tactics.  It's changing sands during the week; it's players on form, out of form, Americans playing well, whatever the case may be.  You have to wear different hats as captain.

Q.  In 2014, you have been mentioned as a potential captain here, what would that mean to you, and where would you stand in that race?
PAUL McGINLEY:  Obviously I've been captain twice in the Seve Trophy and that's been great, but I prefer not to talk about that at the moment.  I think we have to respect this Ryder Cup and respect this captain, and I think it's important that we stay focussed on that.
This is a really, really tough challenge.  We have a really, really tough challenge ahead and there will be plenty of time to talk about 2014 afterwards, but it's important to stay focussed on this one.

Q.  After the last match, somebody remarked about how analytical you were in getting the matches set up; do you see that as your role?
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† Tactics‑‑ my role is to provide information to the captain and based on that, assimilate it with Darren's and Thomas's view, and whoever the fourth may be.¬† Based on all of that information coming to the captain, he then makes a decision.
That's how it worked with Monty.  Sometimes he goes with what your view is.  Sometimes he'll go with Darren's and sometimes he'll go with Thomas's; sometimes he'll go with Sergio's, whatever the case may be.  But it's important that that information is put in front of the captain and that he makes that decision.
Personally, I love the tactics side of it.  I love the tactical side of it.  I love the motivational side of it, and I love the team element of it and I love being in the team room.  And the team meetings always give me a great buzz as a player.  I really enjoy, and that's probably the biggest thing I'm looking forward to in Chicago is that element of team that we are going to have.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
PAUL McGINLEY:  I don't want to give too much away, but I do, yeah, I do watch a lot of things you wouldn't even know about, including press conferences.  I'm intrigued with it, I have to say.  I'm intrigued with how Ryder Cups have been won and lost over the years.
I've asked a lot of questions of a lot of people and got a lot of information, not just from our side.  I've always enjoyed having a beer with the American players or captain afterwards.  I've done that on a few occasions, and asked them their strategy for the week and why did they make certain decisions.  That's been intriguing for me to learn about all that, as well, too.  It's great to learn how they do it, as well as how they do it.  When the gloves are off Sunday night, we can talk a bit more openly.

Q.  José Maria has a big decision to make on Monday.  Should Nicolas Colsaerts get favoured for the fact that he is here, rather than other guys who might be open for a wild card that have not come to support the tournament?
PAUL McGINLEY:  I think the only thing I will say to that is:  If you're not in, you can't win.  Sergio proved that last week.  I thought that was one of the performances of the year last week for Sergio to do that.
Not particularly being on form the last few months; not had a particularly strong summer, and when it was put up to him about making The Ryder Cup Team, he played one of the so‑called lesser events on the American Tour, and went and won.¬† And that, to me, was just outstanding from a European perspective.
And all credit to Sergio.  I'm so full of admiration for what he did last week.  So answer your question, I'd just say, if you're not in, you can't win.  Sergio proved he was in last week, and he won.

Q.¬† You mentioned Ryder Cup Captains‑‑
PAUL McGINLEY:  Yeah, we won because of one reason, the captain, Sam Torrance.  There's no doubt about that.  I think anybody on that team will tell you why.
If I had more time, I would explain to you so many different roles and how he got me motivated to play in my first Ryder Cup when considering, you've got to remember, everybody forgets, 2001, we qualified for the team; and then we had to wait a year and it was 12 months when we came back.  And I was one of the players who had dipped in form in the following 12 months.
So now I'm going to play in my first Ryder Cup, which is always a daunting experience, particularly when you're on your game; so imagine when you're a little bit off your game.  So it was very daunting for me.
And how he man‑managed me that week was just incredible.¬† I mean, the loyalty I felt towards him when I walked over that bridge on Sunday, after all of the work that he had done for me that week, just me personally, there was no way I was missing the putt.¬† I mean, I even get emotional now talking about it.¬† It was something very special.
And I think tactically, he got it right, there's no doubt.¬† I think the most important point that week, actually, everybody thinks it's the winning putt and all, that but to be honest, that wasn't half as significant as the role that Darren played on Saturday night.¬† We got a halve‑match.¬† We were one down playing the last, and we won the last hole for the match to be all‑square, and to be over our match to be all‑square going into the singles.
Now if we would have lost that, if we had only halved the 18th hole and lost 1‑down, we would have been one point down going the singles against a very strong American Team in the singles and would have been really, really, really up against it.
It gave a great boost to the team.¬† When we went back to the team room, there was high‑fives; there was hugging.¬† It was psychologically a massive blow in our favour as Europeans.
And setting the team out the way he did on Sunday, he went for a gung‑ho strategy and put his team out in order of what he thought were the guys in form and the guys playing well, and Curtis Strange did the opposite.¬† He left guys like Tiger down at the end, and really his point wasn't significant at the end because the match was won at that stage.
Tactically, he was the difference.¬† And not just tactically, but as I said, motivation, knowing his players, understanding them.¬† If we had longer I could explain to you more in detail what he did, but the way he man‑managed me was incredible, and I saw him doing the same with other players in a completely different way.
He understood his players and he knew them, and you have to understand that; it's very important that the captain understand how to take everybody's thoughts, and he certainly knew how to take mine, which he knew more than myself to be honest.

Q.  Can you analyse Paul Lawrie's achievements and also what he might bring to the team?
PAUL McGINLEY:  Tremendous achievement.  I'm a huge admirer of what he's done, how he's returned to form the way he has done.  I'm a huge admirer of his ability to perform under pressure.  People say he got handed that British Open; I don't believe that one bit, never have done.  The way he played that playoff was just sensational.
He played great in that Ryder Cup, as well, in '99 in Brookline in a very hostile environment.  I'm full of admiration for him, and I think he's a very welcome member of the team.  I think I'm certainly looking forward to working with him.  I think he'll be a great addition to the team.  He brings experience, as well as form, which he had this year, as well as a guy that will be easy to blend into a team environment.  I think he ticks a lot of bottoms and it's great to have him on the team.

Q.¬† Two years ago we talked to you about going to Wales and had that strange feeling that we were going to Wales‑‑ going to Medinah‑‑
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† I was just going to say, the plane‑‑ never mind the car.
When I was captain of the Seve Trophy, too, that was the first time I did it, and that was really eerie, waking up in the morning at a golf tournament but not getting ready to hit some shots.  That was really strange.
And Wales was the same.  You know, it's kind of something I'm getting used to now.  It's the fourth time I've done it.  And, yeah, I know the role that I have to play.  I'm there as a support role.  As everybody knows, Ollie is very much his own man.  He's got more Ryder Cup experience and I'm looking forward to working with him and learning from him.  I've learned from everybody in the past before and he's going to be no different.
And I'm just looking forward to the tactical battles.  As I say, I really mean this, I think we are really, really up against it; not because we have gone off form but I think the Americans have really raised their game now.  They have two or three young players coming in, which is always important in a team who is showing a lot of form, and I think it's a very, very strong American Team.
They will be well captained obviously by Davis, and I think they will be very comfortable playing in Chicago, which will be a hostile environment in a very good way.  I have to say, I enjoyed playing in Detroit, which was also a hostile environment, but in a lot of ways, of the three Ryder Cups I played, the one away from home was the one I enjoyed the most, playing against the head, so to speak, in terms of the crowd.
I'm really looking forward to it and I think I'm looking forward to learning a lot from Ollie, as well, too.  I think I can learn a lot from Ollie.

Q.  Getting back to Paul Lawrie, how important is it to have some really older heads in a Ryder Cup dressing room?
PAUL McGINLEY:  It's important, there's no doubt, but it's also important to have a blend, as well, too.  You've got to have that youthful exuberance, as well, too.
I remember going back to 2002 with Sergio, the enthusiasm and the exuberance Sergio had in the team room was infectious.  It was his second Ryder Cup.  I mean, this guy was manic about The Ryder Cup.  Here he was playing 36 holes during the day, and when he got into the team room at night and we are all having dinner and all flaked out and knackered and trying to relax ourselves, there he was sitting in front of the TV watching three hours of highlights.  And every time he was on TV he stood up and got everybody to watch the TV and watch the shot that he played.  That kind of exuberance is infectious and it's great.  There's a lot of banter in the team room and it's very important to have that mixture in golf and I think we have it this year, as well, on the team, too.

Q.  Are you intrigued to know the fourth?  Curious to know why he wasn't named at the same time?
PAUL McGINLEY:  No, he's obviously not named because he's thinking of somebody that might make the team as well, too.  I'm not particularly curious.  I trust whatever decision he makes and I think he's made three good decisions already.  Hopefully we worked well in the past and hopefully we'll work well together in the future.
I'm not intrigued.  Whoever it is, we'll certainly work with him well and he'll fit into our team room.  And he'll make a good decision no matter who the fourth is.  I'm quite comfortable with whatever he does with that.  It's his captaincy and his decisions.  You have to remember, the vice captains are not also just for the players, they are for the captain, as well, too.
I go back to the point I made earlier to Jock there; if you are not in, you can't win.¬† Anybody who is here this week has got a chance at The Ryder Cup.¬† If you're not here, not just by forcing your way into the team like‑‑ only Colsaerts can, but if David Lynn wins like Edoardo Molinari did the last time, you're right there.¬† If you're not in, you can't win.¬†
And that's why all credit to Sergio last week and all credit to Colsaerts, playing the last few weeks in America, getting on a plane, flying into Scotland, completely different weather, completely different golf course and busting a gut to get on the team.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† They do have a chance to impress, yeah.¬† They do have a chance to impress, of course they do.¬† I think if one of our guys over there who is not in the team wins on Sunday night‑‑ well, I don't know.¬† To be honest, I don't know because I don't know when Ollie is going to actually make his picks.¬† But there's no doubt about it.¬† Whatever happens in America, too, will have a slight influence on his picks.
Monday morning is when he's officially announcing it.  I don't know how much I'm going to be involved in the picks or not.  I spoke to him this morning, had breakfast with him, but we didn't go into it in massive detail.
You know Ollie; he plays his cards chose to his chest.  If he wants my decision, I'm happy to give it to him, but I'm happy for him to make his decision himself.

Q.¬† What happened with Rory‑‑
PAUL McGINLEY:  And the good performance by the Europeans at the PGA.

Q.¬† How important do you think that is in changing mind‑set?
PAUL McGINLEY:  Very, very.  Psychologically it was big for our team.  Psychologically he was also a bit of a blow for the Americans to see us returning to form a bit; and seeing Rory cement his place at No. 1 in the world.
And as I say, Sergio going last week and winning last week was phenomenal, too.  It's been a good couple of weeks for the Europeans.  We lost a bit of momentum to the Americans over the summer.
We started off strong, looked unbeatable and that's what happens.¬† You look at 24 of the top players in the world, it ebbs and flows; and as I said earlier, shifting sands the whole time, things move, chop‑and‑change.¬† It's going to be a really, really tight Ryder Cup, a really, really tight Ryder Cup and I think we are in for a great week if we can somehow get close to matching the Olympics, I think it will be great.

Q.¬† In Detroit, The European Teamsigned autographs in the practise rounds to get the American crowds on side ‑‑
PAUL McGINLEY:  That was Bernhard's decision, yes.
I don't know what Ollie's planning.  That will all come out.  That was one of Bernhard's things to do, and we certainly had to slow down our practise rounds considerably.  Took forever to sign autographs.  It worked, and as I say, that was a great, great Ryder Cup for me.
I really enjoyed that one.¬† That was something special.¬† Going in and getting the crowd support, it was special, and it was‑‑ Bernhard did so many things great that week and that was one of them.
We'll have to wait and see.  I think the Europeans now, European players, are a lot more familiar to the American public now than they would have been back in 2004, because so many of us are playing on the PGA TOUR now and are familiar.  So there's an affinity between the American crowd now that there quite wasn't in 2004.  So a charm offensive of that degree is probably not necessary, put it that way.

Q.¬† Your memory to how Sam Torrance ticked the boxes‑‑
PAUL McGINLEY:  There's so many.  A particular one?  There's so many.  I don't want to give away some of the good ones because they are something that we may use in the future or this year.
I mean, one of the things he did was the week before The Ryder Cup, the American Express Championship was on in Mt. Juliet in Ireland, and myself and Lee were the only two players who were not exempt for it.
So he took us up to Belfry the week before.  I drove up with him from London.  We played 18 holes, all the stands were up, all the hospitality was up, it was like a ghost town, a beautiful day.  Everything was in place for the following week.  Golf course was exactly how it was going to play, and he made sure the greens were cut down to the speed it would be during tournament week.  He got a few of the pin positions out that were going to be used during the week.
We obviously played from the tee boxes that we were going to play during the week.¬† And we had a really good game.¬† And when we finished, I remember him‑‑ not that I drank it, but he got a bottle of champagne, a bottle of pink champagne, Laurent Perrier, and two glasses, and we step in the back of his BMW car that was driven up and down for us, and the whole way back to London, told me exactly his plan for the week.
He told me, he went through every player, what role they were going to play on the team and then he said, right, this is your role.  This is your window, this is what you're going to do, this is what I expect you to do; this is who you'll be playing with; this is when you'll be playing; and this is when you won't be playing.  It gave me a huge sense of inclusion straightaway that here I was a rookie, kind of a little bit off my game, and a little bit coy about playing my first Ryder Cup, let's just say.  And here he was, the captain, giving me his whole total plan, not just for me, but for the whole team and what role we were going to play, the different cogs in the wheel and how he expected we were going to win this Ryder Cup.
That was a huge thing for me.  I came away from that journey home, without a headache; let's just say he drank most of the champagne.  But I came away from that with a real sense of inclusion.  I was made to feel a very important member of his team, and the role he isolated out for me, was one that I was then able to prepare for over the next week mentally and physically.
So even in the practise rounds, I knew, for example, that I wasn't playing the first morning, but that I was playing in the afternoon.  So my preparation was excellent from the role that he told me.
Having said, that as I say, shifting sands, it always happens.  I ended up playing with Darren in one of the games which I wasn't meant to play, which was that one we played on Saturday night, and I didn't play with Pádraig the second round which I was meant to do.  So it does obviously change but I was prepared for it.  He did explain to me that things could change or this might happen or this might happen.
He didn't tell me‑‑ as I say, when I walked over that bridge and he said it to me, the sense of bonding and a sense of loyalty of self towards him just gave me a massive surge of loyalty for that captain.¬† And that's the difference that he made.¬† I wanted to hole that putt for him more than anybody else, as well as my teammates.¬† That was what it was all about.¬† That's the sense of a Ryder Cup that's special to me, that element of team, that element of bonding, that element of being connected to these 12 guys for the rest of your life.
It's just great.  That's what makes it so special.  When passion comes into sport, as we saw in the Olympics, that's what brings it to a completely different level from normal.

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