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June 25, 2013

Paul McGinley


SCOTT CROCKETT:  Give us your thoughts on the week ahead.
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† Obviously great to be here.¬† Great to be here.¬† Irish Open is always a big week in the calendar, not just for the golfers but for the Irish sporting public.¬† When you get two players like Rory and Graeme representing Ireland so well on this national stage, both of them Top‑10 in the world, and played a successful Irish Open in Portrush last year, we all loved that and hopefully this can match that in some ways this week.¬† We've had bad weather at The Irish Open the last number of years, so I think we've got a decent forecast this week, so it should be good, and hoping to have some big crowds and a lot of atmosphere.
SCOTT CROCKETT:  And your own form?
PAUL McGINLEY:  I don't know, I played quite well at Wentworth to be honest, and chipped and putted well but didn't score particularly well, I think I finished 50th there, and unfortunately I've had four weeks off since then so I have not been able to build on that.  I'm playing this week, French Open next week and the Scottish, and looking forward from now to the end of the season playing quite a bit of golf hopefully.
SCOTT CROCKETT:  You've played all over the world this year; exciting playing back home, isn't it?
PAUL McGINLEY:  Yeah, it is.  I obviously know all the golf courses here, and you know, it's a great thing for the Irish people and golf, 500 golf courses in Ireland which is incredible, for the size and the land that we have.  We have got more links golf courses than any other country in the world and it's something that we are very proud of, Irish golf.
Irish golf is very important for the Irish economy and it's great that we have got an Irish Open going this week in these tough economic times, and I think it's very important that we can have anywhere near the success we had last year and continue going forward.
It's important in the big picture in terms of the economy in Ireland, so many cities and towns particularly around the West of Ireland that are dependent on golf, whether it be accommodation or bars or green fees, whatever the case may be.  Fingers crossed that golf can help along the road to economic recovery in Ireland.

Q.  You've seen The Irish Open go through 2 1/2 decades of incarnations.  Where do you regard it now in terms of health?
PAUL McGINLEY:  I think we are fortunate, we still have an Irish Open for a start.  As I say, it's been a very tough year in Ireland, very tough times, we all know that, and I think to be honest, the success that the players have had internationally, Rory, Graeme, Darren, Pádraig particularly, it's what kept The Irish Open going through the last number of years through the economic climate.  The Irish public reacted well in the past, too, in support of it and hopefully we have got through the worst of it and we can continue going forward from here.

Q.  How competitive are you as a player, and how much would you like to get a win in the Irish Open at this point in your career?
PAUL McGINLEY:  Yeah, you know, as I say, I played really well at Wentworth and unfortunately haven't played well since then competitively.  I would have loved to have played a couple of tournaments after Wentworth but I had a lot of things to do the weeks afterward and I didn't get the chance to play.
I'm going to play a lot from here to the end of the year and I take very seriously the importance of the captaincy and to remain competitive.  I think we have a view here in Europe that it's important for the captain to still be competitive on Tour.
And I take The Ryder Cup duties seriously; that it's important that I remain competitive and something I want to do, to be out competing with the guys and be at the tournaments rather than just hanging around trying to speak with the players; I want to be there for a reason.  I'm certainly motivated to have two good years on the golf course.

Q.¬† We have obviously two world Top‑10 players, Rory and Graeme, and a former three‑time major champion; an Irish Open win by an Irish player isn't essential to the health of the event, but it would be a good thing to keep the momentum going?
PAUL McGINLEY:  Yeah, I think the most important thing is the participation, those guys you've mentioned have played in The Irish Opens over the last number of years.  They have never let the tournament down and they continue to play and there were no appearance fees.  Appearance fees are charged so many times around the world.  These guys, some of them can charge massive appearance fees around the world, yet that's not the case in The Irish Open.
So I think it's something we should be proud of in Ireland that the guys come back, even though it mightn't suit their schedule, they do come back and support The Irish Open.  So I think the participation is more important than the winning; the winning is kind of the cherry on top.
But I think we should be very grateful that they have made sure that The Irish Open is part of their schedule, and that's what's kept it going to be quite honest over the last number of years, along with the big crowds that have turned out to support.

Q.  In terms of the importance of playing alongside your potential players, is this an event you've earmarked to have a few conversations and get in the minds of potential players for your team?
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† To be honest I'm not watching form massively at the moment.¬† Obviously I watched Justin with great delight at the U.S. Open but I'm a realist, professional golfers, there's up‑and‑downs, and I know The Ryder Cup is 15 months away and I think this time next year I'll be a lot more concerned about who is on form.
At this moment in time I'm kind of observing and kind of seeing where everybody is at but not particularly worried if they are on form or off form at this moment in time.¬† I think what's important is for guys in the Top‑50 in the world, there's an onus on them to go in the next three months and make sure they are in the Top‑50 at the end of the year and get qualified for all the World events and Majors, because if you're not in the Top‑50, it's extremely difficult to make the team.
So there's an onus on guys between 35 and 1‑‑ in the world to get in the Top‑50 in the world and give themselves ample opportunity next year to get points.

Q.  How competitive will it be between the Irishmen to come out on top and be top Irishman this week?
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† It always is.¬† You just look at the bookies and they always like to have a bet on the leading Irishman.¬† Going back to the Irish Open at Portmarnock, I think the prize ‑‑ inaudible ‑‑ in terms of the trophy, so it's important, of course it is.
We are all competitive on Tour, and competitive is good, as much as we are all friends, we are also very competitive against each other and it should remain that way, and not just Irish people but Scots as well, too, and the French in the next few weeks.  It's good.
It's a very competitive business that we are in and a very competitive world, but ultimately you are playing against the golf course and you're trying to play as hard as you can and shoot a low score; what will be, will be after that.  If you happen to be top Irishman after that, it will be great.

Q.¬† Has it surprised you that Rory has not so far managed to regain‑‑ is it something you attribute to his equipment change or something else at play, do you think?
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† My opinion on Rory six months ago, is the same opinion I have now.¬† I don't think Rory is ever going to be a flat‑line golfer.¬† I think it's in his DNA to be up‑and‑down.¬† If you look at him this time last year, the same questions are coming, why has Rory gone off form, he missed three or four cuts in a row, he's this, and that and all of a sudden a few weeks off, he wins the US PGA and he's off and he played fantastically well.
It's in his DNA and he's never going to be a Nick Faldo who is going to flat‑line, and I think we just have to accept that and let him get on with it and he'll come through with the bit of trough that he's had and he'll come through and have success again.¬† I don't see Rory as a flat‑line player, and I just think that's going to be part of his career for the rest of his life.

Q.  Do you think it's going to be difficult for him to come to terms with this, judging by, for example, the way his frustrations showed in the final round of the U.S. Open?
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† I think he's a young kid and he's learning.¬† He's, what, 23 years of age now, and what he goes through is quite incredible for a 23‑year‑old and how he's behaved and how he's managed himself is extremely impressive.
I got a real eye opener at Medinah last year.  It was the first time I've really seen him up close in Americaand how big he is.  I think as a young kid, he's made a couple of mistakes here and there, but in general his behaviour is astonishingly good and I think we should be proud the way he's carried himself considering the way his brand is so strong and so big, particularly in America.  It's quite incredible.
I was really taken back by the interest people had of him in America.  It really was like being a rock star, being with a rock star when you're walking from the green to a tee or if you're hanging around going to the courtesy cars afterwards.  There would be hundreds of people hanging over the barriers shouting his name and looking for his autograph, and that's the same every week in America for him; a real eye opener for me.
As Irish people, and certainly for me, sitting back here and watching him on TV you don't realise what goes on behind the scenes and what he has to putt up and what he has to deal with and I think he handles it extremely well.  There's a lot more to come from Rory, there's no doubt.
But as I say, he's going to be an up‑and‑down, that's the way he is.¬† Everybody is different and one of the reasons why he's so exciting is the fact that he's up‑and‑down.¬† That's one of the reasons why Seve was so exciting, he was up‑and‑down, too.¬† I think that's the X‑factor that Rory has.¬† He can win every week.
He's got the game, he knows that and when he gets that feeling and when he just feels comfortable and things start clicking for him he gets on his Rolls‑Royce performance and heads off into the distance.¬† That can happen at any time and that's what makes him so exciting.
And you know, I don't think we should expect him to be a flat‑liner or a guy who is basically going to be in the top 5 or at worst Top‑10 every single week.¬† I think his career is going to have peaks and troughs like anybody and I think him more so than most people and it's actually not a bad way to be.¬† It's quite a good way to be to be honest because when you're hot, you're really hot and that's great, that's what professional golfers are.

Q.  (Regarding potential weather at Gleneagles next year).
PAUL McGINLEY:¬† A lot of times in the last six months.¬† Always very welcome up there.¬† I love going up there obviously, and I have absolutely no problems whatsoever with the golf course condition‑wise.¬† I saw what a hurricane did to The K Club when we played here in 2006 and the golf course inside the ropes was immaculate and the same with Celtic Manor, again, unbelievable monsoon rains we had and yet inside the ropes was immaculate.¬† I know it was tough for the crowd outside.
So I've got no question marks over the agronomy team for The European Tour and green keeper at Gleneagles.  I certainly don't have any questions from a playing point of view.  Obviously the worry is if the weather stays that bad, it's going to be outside the ropes and that's always a problem when it turns into a glass kind of feel to it.
That's always a worry and I think there were a number of broken legs and things in Wales and that's what happens when you get such huge crowds on a slippery surface, that's what happens.  I'm hoping more so for the crowds than the players that the weather remains kind of dry so that outside it's good to watch.

Q.  From a playing point of view will it help your guys, the Scottish weather, is that overstated?
PAUL McGINLEY:  I think it's overstated.  Look how they played at Wentworth when it was wet and cold and windy.  A lot of them were not that comfortable and a lot live in Florida now and like a lot of us, we get sanitised to the good weather.  Growing up in Ireland, you're putting on waterproofs and woolly hats to play every day, and you don't realise that there's a big world out there with 70, 80 degrees every day.
I think when you get used to the 70, 80 degrees, it's hard to go back.  But I think everybody, our team included, is hoping for good weather that week.  I don't think the wind and the rain is going to suit particularly The European Team.

Q.¬† I don't know whether it was your idea or not, this 'Golden Ticket' to The Ryder Cup, but it strikes me‑‑
PAUL McGINLEY:  Willy Wonka, I read about it.

Q.  It's a brilliant idea, though, isn't it.
PAUL McGINLEY:  It is, and it's just a way of giving the fans a little bit of extra access and interest behind the scenes.  We are all so interested in behind the scenes in any sporting event.  I watched it probably three or four times the behind the scenes of the '97 Lions tour, and that was amazing, I loved that.
I'm a real lover of sport and I particularly love programs that are behind the scenes and the access that you have there for that was incredible, and observing what went on.¬† This is kind of‑‑ though they won't have the same access to the players, it's a little behind the scenes for what goes on for some lucky people.¬† And, yeah, I'm right behind it and I'm sure whoever wins it will be very grateful.

Q.  What question would you want to ask of a captain?
PAUL McGINLEY:  Where do I start, so many questions I would like to ask the captain.
You see, the problem is, there will be a lot of questions like that for the captain, but the captain might not answer them ‑‑ there's a lot of things I can't reply to, like colours of the uniform, or management of the players, my views on certain pairings.¬† You would love to ask all those questions but obviously as captain, the captain won't be able to answer those‑‑ inaudible ‑‑ Rory's room, right on the wall, should he make the team he'll have a huge clock in his room.

Q.  You mentioned Justin's win at Merion; does that have any relevance to The Ryder Cup?
PAUL McGINLEY:  I think it does, and I'll tell you why I think it does.
Again if you look back through historically, not just for European golfers but for world golfers, when somebody breaks through and wins, often their peers step up to the plate after that.  I think that's exactly what happened here in Europe with Pádraig.  He was the first of modern era of player to break through.  I know you had Paul Lawrie a bit before that, but when Pádraig won we then had a number of players come up behind him and winning.
I don't think it's unusual the fact that Pádraig won and then we had Graeme and then we had Rory and then we had Darren, all Irish.  No question about the Irish players feeding off it, it's a very healthy thing.
So I would not be surprised a number of the English players particularly stepping up now and performing well The Open Championship and the US PGA and FedEx events at the end of the year and obviously all of our European events here that we are looking forward to here in the summer, the big part of our tour.
So I think it's good, because ‑‑ inaudible ‑‑¬† if Justin can do it, I can do it and I'm looking forward to the reaction of the European‑based players particularly stepping up to the plate.¬† Justin Rose, he's broken the mold; let's go and follow him then.

Q.  The fact that he's a Major Champion, what it does for his stature does it make him more important within your team?
PAUL McGINLEY:  You know, I think Justin's performance at The Ryder Cup last year in Medinah to be honest, that's what mentally elevated him to a different level, and I don't think without that performance he would have gone on and been as calm and as collected and as determined as he was in the last round there.  Didn't seem to be any hint of nerves.
He seemed to have a body language about him, like I'm destined to win this.  That doesn't happen overnight it happens in steppingstones, and I think The Ryder Cup provided a steppingstone for Justin.  To come through, makes the putt on 17, which was obviously wonderful, but there's no doubt there was a huge element of luck that putt comes across the fifth green with six or seven foot straight downhill to go in the hole was certainly a big element of luck.
The big thing for me was the way he played 18, and he hit a massive shot, and after Phil Mickelson hitting an incredible chip from over the back of the green; for Justin to stand up then knowing he needed to make that putt to win his match, and to though hole it; that, to me was a huge steppingstone in Justin's career and huge level of achievement.
And as you saw at the end of the year, he won a trophy at the end of the year and nearly beat Rory in the Dubai World Championship last year, and he's come out and played really well this year without particularly putting big performances on.  He hasn't really putted that well, and he putted well at the U.S. Open and I think that's the big difference.
I think it's all about steppingstones and Justin, I think The Ryder Cup players, did well in those steppingstones.  That's the importance of The Ryder Cup, and not just in terms of winning but in terms of so many careers, as well, too.
I don't think, again, it's any coincidence that the success we had in the early 2000s in The Ryder Cup where we won twice in 2004, 2006 by record margins, for me it's no coincidence that so many of those players that played n went on to win major championships afterwards.  The Ryder Cup really solidifies in their mind the ability to play in America to play at a high level.  When they get in a major championship, they have been there before and been at a similar level of performance and come through.  That's the importance of The Ryder Cup for their careers as well as individual.

Q.  Do you think that's what made a difference to Rory McIlroy after playing Celtic Manor, that Ryder Cup performance?
PAUL McGINLEY:  The exhibition match he scoffed about?  (Laughter) there's no doubt, Rory was enthralled in Celtic Manor, there's no doubt about it.  I know there was a board there that we all signed for Monty and Rory had a lovely comment on it about calling it an exhibition match.
I think there's no doubt about it; for me, The Ryder Cup is‑‑ of course it's important to win it but individually for these guys careers, it's huge, as well, too.¬† And you know, I'm looking forward to seeing a number of European players step up to the plate over the next number of months, because we've just had a great success in The Ryder Cup, we've just had Justin winning as well, too.
And I won't be surprised if that peer pressure kicks in now and says, well, as much as we are great friends and a team when it comes to Ryder Cup, also very at the time and I have and that's the way it should be and the way we want it and we encourage it, and often the peer pressure is very important, and it's very prevalent in professional golf, not just in Europe but in America, as well, too, and it's a good thing, it's not a bad thing.  It's a very good thing, very healthy.
SCOTT CROCKETT:  Paul, thanks, as always, for your time, good luck this week.

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