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An Interview with Paul McGinley

September 15, 2004

JULIUS MASON: Paul McGinley, ladies and gentlemen. Participating in his second Ryder Cup Matches.

Paul, welcome to the media center. Some thoughts on your practice round today and we'll go to Q&A, please.

PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, we have had a very good day again obviously. The weather's been wonderful so far. I think it's going to be pretty good all week. The golf course is magnificent. Crowds have been fair and vocal. We're looking forward to a great week.

JULIUS MASON: Thank you.

Q. Making the winning putt last time around, what did that moment, where does that rank for you in your career?

PAUL McGINLEY: Well, it's obviously as high as you can go. I think winning the World Cup with Padraig was a big deal, because it was our first breakthrough either of us in world golf. That will always be special because it was for Ireland. It was World Cup for Ireland.

But to hole the winning putt in a Ryder Cup is great. I feel fortunate and blessed that it happened to me. It was a wonderful moment that I will never forget.

Q. Is that an experience you think you'll draw upon this week? Is it something that you keep in mind while you're out there?

PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, very much so. To be under the pressure I was the last time and come through is obviously a great boost for me mentally, personally. It was a wonderful thing to come through. I very much enjoyed being part of the team.

I think it was important for my career, though, that I made this second team and move on from that. It's part of my career, something to be very proud of, but it's also something I want to be part of my career rather than being the defining moment in my career. This one is a different story. We're away from home, don't have the vocal support, American-style golf course here. And I understand that it's going to be really tough for us and I'm prepared for a tough week.

Q. Did you by chance see or hear Padraig's press conference talking about you making that putt?


Q. There was a funny moment, and I'm sort of paraphrasing, but he laughed and said he thought it was hysterical because you're a guy who leaves so many putts right on the edge, and then he says all of a sudden he is the guy who makes it. And he just laughed. What's your reaction to that? He thought that that was ironic that you would be remembered by most as the guy who made the winning putt?

PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, you know, another funny story was -- first of all, I don't agree with that. I believe I putt pretty well. But I don't agree with him. But there was a lovely story on many things that happened in Ireland, obviously, after the last Ryder Cup. One of the things that I remember and I'll never forget was we did a big black tie dinner, it was about 1,000 people in Ireland, the Sports Awards in December, that December like three months later. And Doug Sanders was the guest of honor. And I never met Doug before and he came over and found me in the bar before, and as we were waiting to go out to the dinner, and he come over and introduced himself. And he said, "You know, me and you have something very very important in common with each other."

And I said, "What's that?"

He says, "We're both going to be remembered for putts; me for missing and you for holing." And it was something that I thought, wow, that's very big of him to say something like that. That's one of the things I'll always remember.

Q. It's early, but can you tell is what differences you've detected so far and some in Sam as a captain and Bernhard as a captain?

PAUL McGINLEY: Well, Sam surprised me a little bit because Sam was very much like Bernhard in terms of preparation. There was no stone left unturned. I know he had an extra year to do it but everything ran like clockwork just like it has this week with Bernhard. He's very organized. I think there's a lot of similarities between the two. More so than differences. Sam didn't have the big, rip-roaring, hand on the heart speeches that people expected him to have. He was very contained in his team meetings and had a lot of confidence in us. And Bernhard seems to be coming across exactly the same way. It's too early to say. I'll answer that question better on Sunday night. But I think Bernhard's a very clever captain. He's put a lot of thoughts into the pairings, put a lot of thought into the golf course. We have a lot of faith in Bernhard as a captain. A lot of confidence in him that he'll make a lot of right decisions this week.

Q. Do you see yourself this week in the role of one the senior players or do you still feel that you're perhaps at that in between stage?

PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, I would like to think myself as more of a senior player than an in between player. I know I've only played one Ryder Cup but it was a -- but my experiences were enough for two or three or maybe 10 Ryder Cups put together. But, yeah, I, there's, it's a five rookies on the team I think. And so I'm one of seven who have played before. So I certainly learned a lot the last time. Which I will be sharing with the rest of the team. Particularly the rookies this time. The tips that I was given by people that worked for me, Jesper was one that I learned most from last time. I learned a lot from him. And I'll be sharing those insights with the rookies as the week goes on. I already had a few little chats and things like that and it's very much a team effort this week.

Q. Your team seems to be very comfortable filling the underdog role. It seems to be something that everybody kind of hangs on to. I'm just wondering where do you kind of draw the line between being an underdog but you still should be a very confident team given that you've won six of the last nine Ryder Cups. Can you kind of talk about that aspect?

PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah. I think the teams are quite evenly matched to be quite honest. I think the Americans are favorites and the fact that they're playing in front of the home crowd is a distinct advantage. American style golf course which is a distinct advantage. And they have four or five players on this team who have won multiple major championships. And that's a big deal. That's a big deal. But having said that, I think as Europeans we're very strong 1 to 12. Something we might not have been in the past. We're strong, very strong as a group. And I think the two teams are going to be matched pretty well. I think it's going to be a very very tight contest. But home advantage, from my experience home advantage is a big, big deal. We had it at the Belfry, it's the American's turn to have it now and that's what Ryder Cup is about. Home and away.

Q. You made a supreme effort to get here. I'm wondering if it, how difficult it was to refresh yourself after that physically and whether there was any drawback on your swing and your tempo in that long stretch of events to get here.

PAUL McGINLEY: I don't think so. I think the adrenaline has kicked in even when I got on the flight on Monday morning the adrenaline was kicking in and that takes over for a lot. I made a big effort to get in. I think, as I said before, it was very important for my own personal career that I made a second Ryder Cup and that I wasn't going to be remembered for just having made one Ryder Cup. I really enjoyed the camaraderie the last time to be part of 11 other players and part of the captain and his staff. And I'll be up for it I'm certain. I'm not out of gas, that's for sure. I've learned a lot the last time. It's a busy week this week. A lot of functions and meetings to attend. And I'm aware that keeping fuel in the tank is important. And I'm trying to rest up as much as I can in between different engagements.

Q. Just on the swing and the game, did your swing survive all that? Do you need any tweaks?

PAUL McGINLEY: I think the swing improves when you do something like I did and you -- I liken it to Olympic sprinters to make a duck for the line. That's what I did. And I played really well the last five or six weeks under intense pressure to make the team. That gives me confidence as opposed to taking it away.

Q. What does this mean to Ireland for you. Three of the 12 players are Irish. How proud are you of that and what kind of reaction, if any, have you gotten out in the crowd from that?

PAUL McGINLEY: I'm very proud of it personally. I think it's wonderful for a second year in a row we have had 3 Irishmen on the team. Graeme McDowell missed out on the team so it could have been four. The next Ryder Cup is going to be in Ireland and we're all very keyed into that. There's a lot of -- we're sort of in the center here of the three main Irish centers in America, Boston, New York, and Chicago. There's going to be a lot of shouting from that. Irish people telling me where they come from and that. And it's great to see that. And yeah, I'm very proud of it. I'm very proud the Ryder Cup's going to Ireland. I think we're going to be a great host the next time. And it's -- the Ryder Cup is a big deal now. And it's a great for Ireland to have it the next time. And it's truly a, not so much to me and Darren and Padraig who are playing now but to guys like Christy O'Connor and Eamonn Darcy, Des Smyth, those guys who have done it. Phillip Walton. Those guys who have done it over the years and that's why Ireland has been rewarded with the Ryder Cup. Just like Spain was rewarded particularly on behalf of Seve, I think those guys have paved the way for Ireland. So that's obviously something I'm proud of, yeah.

Q. Some of your teammates have spoken about how, just how important this is overseas to your fans at home. After making that putt last time around what was the reaction like? Did your profile suddenly rise? Did you get some hero worship at home? Were you suddenly much more famous than had you been before?

PAUL McGINLEY: I don't know about hero worship but certainly a lot more recognized. The best way can liken it is to a football team, whether it be a baseball team or soccer team whatever the case may be and if you meet somebody in the street after they have won and you're a fan you go up and congratulate them and you're also happy for your self because you're fan of that team. And that's the feeling I was getting from people right after the Ryder Cup. They weren't so much happy for me, although they were and happy for the European team, but they were also happy for the team because they were European and that's the way it should be. I think they're all very proud to be European just like the Americans are proud to be American and it's I never criticize anybody for patriotism, it's a wonderful thing. And that's what the Ryder Cup is about. It brings it out in everybody and you got to be proud of your country. I think it's a really nice thing. And for me personally, I don't know about hero worship, but, yeah, I'm certainly more well known. People want to talk about that putt very regularly and that's okay. As I said before I feel blessed that it happened to me and it was a wonderful occasion and I will talk about it forever. But I want it to be part of my career as opposed to being the defining moment of my career. I want to keep on moving on from there.

Q. Following up on that, how European do you feel? How European do you think that the team feels or is it more nation by nation any more?

PAUL McGINLEY: No, it's very European. Very European. I mean me personally, before I was a professional golfer I worked for six months in the EEC in Brussels. So I was European before -- I worked for the European community. And so I personally feel it. There's a great camaraderie in the team room. A lot of rib taking, a lot of the barriers have been broken down in the sense of humor between the nations. We all understand a common sense of humor now and it's great. It's great. I'm very proud of Europe. There's nowhere I would like to go better on holiday than some of the European spots and I'm proud of Italy and Spain and France and Portugal and those kind of places, I love visiting them. It's nice to have the different cultures we have. And then when everybody comes together on the team it's great that you admire and see different people the way they do different things.

Q. Paul, that putt, seems to me you tried over the years to stop talking about it. Haven't been allowed to. Would that be fair?

PAUL McGINLEY: Not really, no. As I say, I'll always talk about it. I'll never refuse to talk about it. I think that I feel blessed I feel lucky that it happened to me. I'll always talk about it. I'll always probably be remembered for it. I'm happy to talk about it with anybody that wants to talk about it. So it's a great thing. It's a wonderful thing that happened to me. I'll be happy to share it with anybody because it wasn't just me who got such a massive kick out of it, it was everybody who supported European, everybody who supported golf in general. It was a great moment in golf. Not so much me personally but for European golf.

Q. Most of the Americans did not play a full round of golf today, most of them only played nine, only a couple finished 18. Can you just kind of talk about how the European team is going to go about pacing itself both mentally and physically through the first practice rounds so that when you get to Friday and Saturday you're not emotionally and physically worn out?

PAUL McGINLEY: That's a good point and that's something I mentioned earlier that having played in it the last time it's important to conserve energy as much as possible. As Europeans we're in a different, slightly different predicament than the Americans because we don't know the case as well. A lot of the American team will have known the course and played it before and played practice rounds leading up to the Ryder Cup on various weeks we didn't have that opportunity. So we have a bit more homework to do than they do. But I'm very much aware that conserving energy and keeping fuel in the tank is a very important part of Ryder Cup week.

Q. You were talking about patriotism earlier, it's a team event, you're the away team, what are your thoughts on facing into a partisan crowd?

PAUL McGINLEY: It's going to be difficult. I'm very much aware of that. We're obviously away from home. We had a big advantage at the Belfry, it's the Americans' turn now to have a big advantage in being home. And as I said before I'll never criticize anybody for patriotism. I think it's a wonderful thing. The Americans should be proud of the country and I'm sure they're going to let that, let that vocal support come through in the matches. But we have our European contingent there too. I'm sure they will be doing the same and shouting as much as they can. That's what a Ryder Cup is about. It's about home and away and it's what brings out that patriotism in everybody and I think it's a wonderful thing.

Q. Can you just go back over the scare you had about your driver at the Belfry when you thought it might be illegal. How that came out and now are there any rule issues now with this side of the water?

PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah. What happened was at the time TaylorMade which I was using there was an R on the driver. And the R drivers were illegal. And then they came out for some reason with another driver and it was still called the R. But the original R was illegal. It's quite complicated. And I had the second R, which was the legal one. And I got a fright. It was on the 8 tee box as I picked me tee out of the ground I was leaning on the driver and I just caught the R of the driver and I thought, oh, in the state that I was in I wasn't really thinking very clearly. Was it one of the legal ones or was I not. Because they were legal in Europe and not legal in America. But Sam quickly checked it out and it was okay. It was in the four balls with Darren the second afternoon Saturday afternoon.

Q. Are there any questions this time around?

PAUL McGINLEY: Not that I know of. I think nowadays the golf manufacturers have all grouped together, there's a common ground, there's common drivers. There's not drivers that are legal on one side of the continent and not. Whereas there was before. That is all together now and I think everybody is using the same equipment and rightly so.

JULIUS MASON: Paul McGinley, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much.

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