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An Interview with Team USA - Final Day

September 20, 2004

JULIUS MASON: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, we'd like to go ahead and turning the mike over to United States Captain Hal Sutton for opening comments and we'll own up the floor for Q&A.

CAPTAIN HAL SUTTON: I'd just like to say how proud I am of all of the players up here. They played their hearts out. We just got outplayed this week. The fans were great. Oakland Hills Country Club was great. The stage was set and we just couldn't get it done.

Q. For Phil or Jim or Davis or, I guess not Tiger, anybody that's been through this before, I guess this just must be getting kind of old.

PHIL MICKELSON: What was the question?

Q. If this is getting kind of old, for lack of putting it a better way.

JIM FURYK: I guess I'll take it, I'm the last one. Well, yeah, I think that obviously we're disappointed. It's been four of the last five Ryder Cups now, yeah, I mean, it's an obvious answer. Yes, it's disappointing and none of us want to sit up here and say we lost, but that's the way it is.

Q. Hal, going back to this four out of five theme, having gone through a captaincy now, is there anything that can be done structurally to change the way the U.S. team is selected, to change the way you guys come together, are you going to be recommending to the PGA that things change?

CAPTAIN HAL SUTTON: Well, you know, off the top of my head, I don't know of anything to do. PGA of America is a large organization. Change is part of life. They will analyze everything that they are doing and see if it needs any changes made.

I think they have done a lot of studies on the way that the points are compiled and I don't think there's much of a change based on how they might do it differently. I think it's basically the same guys that make the team. But you know one thing that I'll add to that is, is these are very capable players right here. One thing that you learn when you play golf, you have to learn how to lose as well as win, and when you play the game, unless your name is Tiger Woods almost, you don't win all the time.

TIGER WOODS: (Laughing).

CAPTAIN HAL SUTTON: You don't win all the time. Some of us have to get a little more used to that than others, Tiger.

But anyway, they played their heart out. There will come along another day in 2006 and a whole bunch of these same guys will go back over there to do it again.

Q. For Davis and then I have a follow-up for Hal. Davis, could you take us through the stance and the situation you faced on 18 and just how you handled that?

DAVIS LOVE III: There wasn't much to it. I was in the rough and I had to chip out and, you know, I guess Mark Rolfing has a wider stance or a deeper stance than me, he stands farther up from the ball and that got it started. I would have had to stretch it to stand on that drain. I couldn't have gotten a drop and had to lay up. Just didn't cut my tee shot. I hit it kind of straight down the middle.

Q. I think he referred to that maybe if you had taken a stance for a fade, you could have manipulated into a stance that would have gotten you a drop or at least deserving of a drop?

DAVIS LOVE III: If I was going to hit a high cut 4-iron maybe, but I don't think that lie was ready for a high cut 4-iron. So I went in there with a club that I thought I could fairly take a shot at the green with and it was a 6-iron. I couldn't feel it under my foot so I just took a wedge and whacked it out.

Q. Just wanted to get a thought from Hal about Davis's actions and the integrity he showed.

CAPTAIN HAL SUTTON: Davis is one of the leaders of the American golfers. He's mature about everything that he does. He takes leadership roles and, you know, I alluded to it last night, I think he would have done anything that I asked him to do. He's a guy that you lean on hard in a championship like this.

DAVIS LOVE III: I'll add to that, that nobody else sitting at this table would have taken a drop there. So don't put anything extra on me. But I didn't do everything Hal asked me to do. He asked me to get out there Friday morning and play hard, and I didn't get the job done on Friday.

So you can't second-guess Hal or anything he did because we put our best players out there Friday morning that were playing the best on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Monday all day, from Phil working hard all day Monday to get ready.

And we just didn't play well. So we can sit here all night and talk about it, but it just boils down to, we didn't get off to a good start and I was a big part of that. I didn't do quite everything you wanted me to do, Hal.

CAPTAIN HAL SUTTON: Most everything.

Q. Could you talk about what happened on 16 against Garcia?

PHIL MICKELSON: I was in the first cut of rough and as firm as the greens were, I didn't feel I could fly it over the water and get it stopped, but I was 2-down and I needed to make birdie. I was trying to hit a low, running hook that caught the left side of the green that ran over the hill up by the hole, giving me about a 15-footer.

It was probably about seven yards short of where I needed it, and it caught the slope and took it in the water and made bogey and lost. I felt like I needed to take a little bit of a risk there trying to get it close.

Q. I heard you say that the next Ryder Cup Captain, that you would spend a lot of time wanting to give him advice; is there any way a prior captain could have gotten you ready for what you went through this week as captain?

CAPTAIN HAL SUTTON: Did I say I would spend a lot of time? I said if he asked me, it might take a lot of time for me to tell him what I thought.

You know, I don't think anybody who ever assumes the role of the captain of the Ryder Cup ever fully understands what's going to be entailed in doing that. You don't understand the weeks leading into it, what you go through and then you certainly don't understand what you're going to go through when you get here.

I mean, I can't tell you how many times I second-guessed every decision that I made. Am I doing the right thing, am I not doing the right thing, you know, I don't normally do that a lot. I pretty much am committed with the decisions that I make and I don't really worry about it and I did this week.

Q. Hal, I'm curious what your emotions are tonight. You were very confident earlier in the week, I'm just curious what this day has been like for you and what your emotions are tonight now that it's over?

CAPTAIN HAL SUTTON: I have proud emotions to be honest with you. I am proud of the guys here, I'm proud of the friendships that we've made, I'm proud of the battles that we've endured with one another. You know what, we're bleeding but we're not dead. We'll get back up, we'll fight again.

Q. For Chris Riley, at this point, obviously, everything is second-guessing, but if you could go back, you said maybe you wish you had taken the alternate-shot format on the two afternoons, what your thoughts are about not going and continuing to play and also, Hal, some people have said maybe you should have stepped up and forced a hot hand and continued to play, if you could comment about that?

CHRIS RILEY: I'm pretty tired right now, and yesterday I was really tired after the morning match with Tiger. I just thought it was best for someone to get out there who was fresh.

And to be honest, I've never played alternate-shot, so I didn't really feel comfortable doing that. It was all on me. I asked to sit, so that's pretty much that.

Q. Actually, this is for any one of you who want to answer. Every one of you has been in a situation where you've had a chance to win a major championship and not won it in the end. How does that compare to this as a team event and seeing the other guys celebrating, is there any kind of comparison?

CHRIS DiMARCO: I'll answer. They both piss ya off. (Laughter.)

To be quite honest with you, they both do.

Q. Phil, yesterday you talked to us about seeing the videotape of yourself on Friday and how you had not been you, and I'm sure a lot of your teammates probably felt the same way about how they performed. You guys have all taken the heat in the toughest kind of competition or you would not be on the team in the first place. Is there something specifically different about this event that can create that kind of effect that almost snowballing effect on?

PHIL MICKELSON: Create the kind of effect of what, that we've lost over the years or that their margin increased? What do you mean?

Q. Create the kind of effect where you really, you've talked about feeling tight and not being yourself and not playing the way you normally did on Friday, is there something specific about this event that created that that you couldn't come in loose?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, I don't know, I think a lot of it is the pressure that you feel in the Ryder Cup. I think that the Europeans have taken a great attitude the last decade of trying to come in and say, "We're the underdog, we're the underdog, we have nothing to lose" as they did this year, even though we were trying to say that it was a very evenly-matched event. They try to take the pressure off that way.

We worked very hard, all of us up here, to make the team. It's a goal of all of ours to be one of the 12 best American players, to represent our country in the Ryder Cup. It's a rare opportunity and it's a career-defining moment for us. When we get here we are under constant ridicule and scrutiny over our play and not coming together as a team and all of this stuff that we know to be false. We want so badly to win this event that when we arrive on the first tee, we don't play as though we have everything to gain and nothing to lose. We feel just the opposite almost. We feel like we have everything to lose and nothing to gain. If we win, it's, "Oh, well, we expected them to."

We need to play with more of a free spirit and we played very evenly the last two days. It was the first day that really put us way behind, almost not an insurmountable lead, but a very big deficit. We played pretty free and good golf from there on, but the opening day, we all were a little tight.

Q. One for Phil and one for Tiger. Phil, obviously you ran into a pretty strong player in Sergio, somebody who was playing very well today, or this week. But it looked like you were maybe having a little distance control problems, like on 12 and 13. Would that be correct?

PHIL MICKELSON: Well, on 12 and 13 specifically, not really, no. I didn't have a sand wedge on the 12th hole and it was a 100-yard shot for my sand wedge. So I had to take a gap wedge and run it up. I didn't want to go long because it rolls away and you have no shot there. So I was trying to leave it short and I just didn't have the right club to fly it to the hole.

And 13, man, I hit a shot that landed to within six inches of the yardages I wanted it to fly, but it hit hard and caught up in the rough. If it was a foot shorter it rolls down and it's a tap-in birdie. I needed to take that risk, I felt, at that point in the match. Sergio did it to me on 9. I 2-up, figured there was no way he would make two, hit a shot in the middle of the green and had an easy two putt par. He takes a chance going at that pin. If he missed he would be -- he makes an 8-footer on 10 and knocks it two feet on 11 and that was a big momentum switch. I took a risk on 13 to get that momentum back and I ended up losing the hole because of it, but I felt like it was the time that I needed to do that.

Q. Tiger, since this is the first time we've had you in here, so I guess it's our first chance to ask your take on things. Aside of the fact that you ran into some pretty good players, why the quote unquote, Dream Team didn't gel the way people might have expected.

TIGER WOODS: I thought we gelled. We just didn't make enough putts.

You know, when they birdie, what, six out of the first eight holes against you on this golf course, that's pretty good playing. We were right there. We were 1-down. Even though they threw all of that at us we were only 1-down. If we could have just gotten it to all-square, somehow, I thought we would have turned the tide if we'd have done that, but we just didn't do that.

At the time, No. 12 was a huge hole. Both of us are long enough to make it there in two with no problem. We didn't do it. Ended up losing the hole and they got the momentum.

In the afternoon, we struggled a little bit, just again didn't make enough putts. When it comes right down to it, if you look at the highlights of the whole Ryder Cup in general, you'll see the Europeans making just a boatload of putts.

That's what it comes down to. I think we hit the ball just as good, if about the same, but you've got to make putts.

Q. Since you play Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup every year, one of the Europeans was quoted as saying, "It's good that we play this every two years", do you think motivation is tough for you guys, because Europe comes in every two years with a fuller gas tank?

TIGER WOODS: I think we have to answer so many more different questions about a team event and also we have to get ready to prepare for our team.

It's two totally different, I guess, arenas, atmospheres. But still, it takes a lot out of you. In preparation for it, you're looking for, we've got all different team members, trying to prepare and practice and get ready and it does take a lot out of you. As the Europeans said, if they had to do this every year, it would be very difficult. There are four of us who have been on -- well, I've been on every team since '97. There have been four of us, I think Jim, Davis and myself and Phil, four of us have been on the same teams every year. It's tough.

Q. Hal, this is a follow-up to Chris's comments earlier about asking to sit out in the foursome. Previous captains have said they have overruled players and said, "You're my hot guy and I'm going to stick with you", not really physically forced the player to play but suggested that they keep playing. Had you thought about that and if so, what are your thoughts just in general to overruling a player?

CAPTAIN HAL SUTTON: I've thought about everything there is to do with this thing. But you know when Chris came to me and said basically that he felt like he was tired and somebody else that was fresh could do better, you know, I had to trust his feelings at that point. We've got a lot of very capable people up here. Chris Riley is not the only capable person. He smiles probably the best of everybody on this team, maybe. Tiger's got a good smile. And Chris is funny and great to be around and he's a great putter. But there's a lot of other capable people up here. You know, I had to trust Chris's feelings at that point.

We're going to second-guess a lot of different things. If I had put Chris out there and overruled him and he played poorly, and then somebody asked him and said, "Well, I was really tired and I asked Hal not to", well, what would we be talking about right now? (Laughter.)

Q. Tiger, it was interesting when Hal was talking earlier and he said, "You know, in the game of golf, you have to learn how to lose. Unless you're Tiger Woods." I thought that was kind of interesting, because in reality, Tiger, you also have to learn how to lose, it is the game of golf and especially in match-play when you don't have total control on the overall outcome, could you just talk a little bit about how you deal with losing? I know that the benchmark has been set so high for you and so much, as Hal even separated you, if you could just talk a little bit about that?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I don't like losing, period. It doesn't feel good. Never has.

I don't know how many people enjoy losing but I'm certainly not one of those people. It was frustrating for us to be here and not holding the Cup in front of us right here for our captain. We busted our tail and didn't get the job done and that's frustrating.

I had control over five points this week. That's what I was playing in and I didn't get the job done in those five matches. Only two of them. From that standpoint, it is frustrating and I wasn't able to contribute to the overall team the way I felt like I could have. From that standpoint, it's very disappointing.

Q. Hal, you mentioned earlier about how hard it is to be a captain in today's era, in your mind what player today meets the qualifications needed to be a good captain in the future?

CAPTAIN HAL SUTTON: There's a lot of qualified people to do that. That's the PGA of America's job.

My job just ended a little bit ago.

Q. Plenty of Americans have been watching this for 20 years, in a golf sense Tiger and maybe Davis, could you explain how it's possible that the Europeans can be better in this format than they are in other formats? Nothing against you guys how can they be better at this?

TIGER WOODS: You want to go first? Thanks. (Laughter.)

Well, I just think they have just got the job done. I don't know why. If I knew the reason, obviously, we would be doing something similar to it, if not a little bit better than that.

When it comes right down to it, I think they just played a little bit better. This is my fourth team now and I've been part of some pretty darned good matches, where you shoot 10- or 11-under par and you lose, that's tough to take. Or alternate-shot, you shoot 6-under par and you're going home. I think that's just part of it. They have just played better. And unfortunately, we haven't -- we've played well at times and brilliant at times, and just overall, I don't think -- when it comes right down to it, we haven't made as many putts.

JULIUS MASON: Davis, your analysis?

DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I don't think there is an explanation. Maybe you ask them and then Julius will bring us the printout tonight and then we'll figure it out. (Laughter.)

They seem to come together very, very well. I think in talking to the guys this week, you know, every night obviously we've looked at ourselves a little bit harder every night, you know, why does this keep happening? And my own personal observation is, is we're very close friends with the guys that are our captains, whether it's Tom Kite or Hal Sutton or Lanny Wadkins or Ben Crenshaw, and it's awful hard to go out there and not perform for them like Tiger said.

I really don't have any personal goals on winning the Ryder Cup. It's all for helping these guys win and handing Hal that cup at the end of the week. I think that's where the pressure comes from, is we want to win so bad, that we don't play well.

And they have been winning and they have got the confidence. I don't think it's anything other than Tiger said, it's anything simpler or anything harder than we have not putted well, we have not performed well, and they have. You've got to tip your hat to them because they have done very, very well since the last, since '93, I guess they have done very, very well. We've had one or two good days since '93. They are on a roll.

CAPTAIN HAL SUTTON: I've got one thing I want to add to that. I think it's all their hairdresser has the answer that we are looking for. (Laughter.)

Q. Tiger, who are you most disappointed for, yourself or your teammates?

TIGER WOODS: Team. We're very disappointed for the team. We came here as a team. We came here to win as a team and we ended up losing as a team.

It's very frustrating. It's hard to swallow, the fact that we lost as a team. As I said, I was responsible for five points this week and I didn't get the job done in all five points, only two.

So I know I contributed to their victory, that's three points right there. You know, we came here as a team and we leave as a team, period. It just doesn't get any more complicated than that.

Q. Question for Jim Furyk. Jim, you played great today, you shot 31 on the front nine, just wondering if you could talk about what was different for you today versus the rest of the week?

JIM FURYK: What did I shoot the other days on the front nine? Do you know? It wasn't 31.

Well, you know, obviously the biggest difference in all of my matches was in the first three team matches, my partner and I tended to fall behind early. I was always down in my matches for the first three or four holes and always trying to climb out of the hole. It makes the day difficult.

In one of those matches we did claw back and get ahead before losing towards the end. Today was a totally different story. I jumped out really quick and made a bunch of birdies really early. I was 3-up through four. In match-play, that makes -- in this type of format, I'd much rather be a front runner. I'm a guy that I think I can put the ball in the fairway and I can put the ball on the green, and I want to put pressure on the other guy. I want to make him hit the spectacular shot to beat me.

I got up early today where I had not in the past and was able to keep that pressure on.

Q. You guys can decide who you want to answer this, but can you just talk about the early energy that was felt out there when there were a bunch of red flags on the board and conversely, how deflated you felt when the tide started to turn.


DAVID TOMS: Well, he didn't point me out so I really wasn't listening. Something about us being up early that was pretty exciting. When we were up, I was like the first match that was actually losing at one time when I looked up at the board and so that wasn't a very good feeling.

And I started trying to come back because I felt like if I could get up in there too, that would help.

I guess, you know, just kind of the way the whole week went even when things started to look good for us at times it, quickly turned the other way. You know, just like yesterday morning, it looked like it could have been an awesome day for us and then all of the sudden it wasn't all that great. Then it went south in the afternoon again.

So, I don't know. It was tough, but for a while it was pretty fun out there today, seeing guys, seeing us up in bunch of matches early. It was like, "Man, here we go." Didn't just quite happen.

Q. This is for the captain, as well as any other player that may want to address the question. How much of a factor do you believe the fans were? I'm sure you're aware of the criticism leveled against some of the American players for not signing autographs and not getting the fans into the game, do you think you took the team out of the game by not pulling the fans into the game and from an observer's standpoint, it just seemed as if the European Team and the European fans had a lot more fun out there.

DAVIS LOVE III: It's a heck of a lot more fun when you're winning and our fans were great. If we made a birdie they cheered for it. If we hit a fairway they cheered for it. They were great.

The tournament asked us, because there's 25,000 or 30,000 people out there not to sign autographs. It's hard to practice and play and sign autographs at the same time. We signed autographs, if you ask the people standing around the clubhouse, I watched the group in front of me, finish the ninth hole, I think it was, and by the time I got up there, they had not gotten even around the corner and we all signed autographs for half an hour. So the Europeans, they want to sign on the course when they were asked not to, that's fine. But the fans, don't criticize the fans because they were in support of us. We didn't make enough birdies to give them something to cheer about but they were very supportive of us.

Q. Two questions, on Friday, you said that you would have bet the ranch on Tiger and Phil when they were 2-up, what would you have bet if somebody would have come to you before the matches and given you nine points?

CAPTAIN HAL SUTTON: Whatever was left to bet. (Laughter.) I am a gambling man. I am a gambling man and I believe in these guys up here. I believe in them a lot more than that. (Laughter.)

Q. Does the margin of defeat make it any tougher on everybody than, you know, you guys got dusted, let's face it. Does that make it any tougher?

CAPTAIN HAL SUTTON: You know, your mic wasn't working on the first part of that. Did anybody else get the first part of that?

Q. Does the margin of defeat make it any tougher than just say if you would have gotten beat by a point?

CAPTAIN HAL SUTTON: Defeat is defeat. I think every one of us would answer this question the exact same way. We came in here with one purpose and that was to win this thing. And if we'd have lost by half a point, it would have been painful. Losing by as many as we did is equally painful.

Q. Hal, this is for yourself and Tiger and Phil if you could answer, the Europeans coming in despite having won three of the last four of these did a pretty convincing job of marketing themselves as underdogs, I'm wondering if you can kind of comment about that and the job they did, maybe convincing themselves and maybe the rest of the world, maybe even you guys, that they are underdogs and the next time around, what would your reaction be?

CAPTAIN HAL SUTTON: I would love to answer this question actually to be honest with you.

You know, the media, did a hell of a job as marketing them as an underdog, not the Europeans, first of all.

And now, secondly, I want to address how you went about marketing them as the underdogs, and that is, the World Ranking system. So if there is an adjustment that might need to be made, it might need to be the World Ranking system. So, you know, these guys are grand. They are very good. I mean, these guys fought their heart out up here. I mean, y'all make the Americans feel like they have really done a pretty poor job if we get beat by these guys. But these guys are darned good.

If you know anything about golf and you watch these guys play this week, you would know that they are very good players. I said early in the week that there wasn't an underdog in this thing, right here in this room I think everybody heard me say that. And y'all laughed at me. That will one day change.

JULIUS MASON: You want Tiger and Phil to follow-up as well?

Q. I'm sure you felt that vibe during the week, it seems to always be that case with these guys.

PHIL MICKELSON: I don't think we'll be the favorite next time. No matter what the World Rankings say, I think we'll be the underdog. And hopefully we'll play like they have.

TIGER WOODS: There you go. Why don't you market us as the underdog.

Q. Start now.

TIGER WOODS: Start now? Perfect.

JULIUS MASON: The United States Ryder Cup Team ladies and gentlemen.

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