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An interview with David Howell

European team member David Howell sat for an interview on Tuesday with the press at Oakland Hills Country Club in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan USA.
September 14, 2004

JULIUS MASON: David Howell, ladies and gentlemen, joining us at Oakland Hills. David, some opening thoughts.

DAVID HOWELL: Well, glad to be here. Excited about it all and this is part of it and I'm looking forward to this as well.

JULIUS MASON: Beautiful. Questions, folks.

Q. I wonder, there's a group of what we call the Young Guns here there Europe, I wonder how you feel about being part of that group and what sort of information or background or whatever have some of the older players imparted to you and others playing for the first time?

DAVID HOWELL: Well, firstly, we are very excited. We are a much younger team than the Americans. As you say, there's five rather young rookies, although Thomas Levet is not so young, but a rookie all the same. We are all delighted to be playing and excited about it and looking forward to doing as well as we can and bringing the trophy back, obviously. In terms of the second part of your question, I have not been at a couple of the team meeting for various reasons, was not at the tournaments where those meetings were so have not been privy to those things. Last night we had a brief meeting and there will be a little chat, but I think a lot more is going to be said over the next few days with regards to the guys previous experiences.

Q. You weren't there last week so can we have a health report and have you had any good luck from the Queen or anything?

DAVID HOWELL: No official good luck wishes from the Queen no. But I'm fine. I just had a cold, basically and that's clearing up nicely. Actually, Lee Westwood got the far worse end than me, having two kids at home and he has a sniffle as well. We might pass this between us. But for all intents and purposes, fit and ready to go.

Q. As far as American audiences who may not know you quite as well, how much time have you spent over here in the States playing and what are some of your memories from golf over here?

DAVID HOWELL: I think I've played -- I think I've only played four events. I played at Muirfield village back in '99 after I won in Dubai and that was a great experience, quite young there, I was 24 there. That was a very enjoyable week. The next time I played was at Bethpage and that was two weeks after coming back from a broken arm, so that was not the best experience, playing the Black Course in that state was not particularly good. And I played the PGA this year and the AMEX last year and I performed reasonably well in those, made the cuts at the PGA and enjoyed playing over here basically. But obviously have not got as much U.S. experience as some of the guys, but certainly have to gain some more experience playing in America this week.

Q. Can you tell us what Emily's (Dougherty) title is?

DAVID HOWELL: She is P.A. to the assistant private secretary to the queen.

Q. Everyone always talks about because the Ryder Cup is so different from what you usually do, it's both exciting and stressful, what do you feel was the most exciting and stressful prior experience of your career that you might look back on as guidance to get ready for this?

DAVID HOWELL: I would say, I played the Walker Cup as an amateur. That was a great experience. I was playing great going into it, performed well in it. That was a big moment in any amateur's career. I would say I probably gained more experience in last year's Seve Trophy where I was playing absolutely dreadfully and still walked away with three points out of four. Just goes to show in 18-hole match-play, anything can happen. Team golf is totally different to individual stroke-play. No matter how things good, you can be playing great and lose or be struggling and win. That's the nature of this week. You really just don't know what's going to happen.

Q. You mentioned talking to some of the veterans who have been through this before, has anybody yet talked about how to deal with, like Bernhard using the term "hostile environment" and how do you suppose you will react to people pulling against you which is kind of a rarity in this sport?

DAVID HOWELL: Well, I haven't really been in that situation yet so as I say I'm not sure how I'm going to react. But certainly hoping, we are 12 nice guys and getting around there and be nice -- we're certainly going to be friendly with the American players and I'm sure we are going to try to lead by example of what golf is all about. If it does occur, if the fans just become a bit more hostile, that's going to make us more determined. I'm certainly not someone who is going to react directly to a person. I'm a fairly quiet guy but very determined, so I will use that to my own advantage and it will make me more determined to do as well as I can.

Q. There's a perception that the Ryder Cup is more important to the Europeans than the Americans. Do you think there's some truth to that and why would that be?

DAVID HOWELL: Well, I've only watched the Ryder Cup on TV like most people. But when you see the Americans faces when they don't come home with the trophy, I wouldn't agree with that at all. So they are just as desperate to win as us, that's for sure.

Q. Tell us where you were two years ago when you watched it and the rookies there, McGinley and Price, playing such a huge part in the victory, is that daunting or inspiring for you coming around this time?

DAVID HOWELL: It's not daunting. It's exciting. The first part of the question, I was just at home watching it as I have every year for the last 20 years. I enjoy every minute of watching it. And obviously I'm looking forward to playing it. The rookies, there's always been some unsung heroes in Ryder Cups, maybe predominately from the European side, a few more unsung heroes than the Americans. Which is exciting, hopefully to come home with some of the points that Paul McGinley's got, or the winning putt and you couldn't ask for more than that.

Q. Can you remember your first memory of the Ryder Cup and did you ever to go to watch a Ryder Cup?

DAVID HOWELL: Never seen a Ryder Cup live, no. I've always watched on the telly. My first memory really is of Craig Stadler missing the 18-inch put on The Belfry green in '85, I believe. I was just getting to golfing age, I was ten, and I remember getting home and watching it, probably Grandstand in those days, and that was the main memory of golf from that match and from then on I've watched.

Q. Darren said that he set his watch back five minutes to make sure he was on time for meetings that Bernhard had scheduled. Anything that you're doing to make sure you're on top of things and you're not on Bernhard's hit list, so to speak?

DAVID HOWELL: I'm certainly not doing that because my girlfriend sets hers about 15 minutes fast and that drives me crazy. (Laughter.) No, not particularly. I had a nice chat with him last night. We all as a team are getting to know each other a bit better. We already know each other fairly well. No, just being myself, just getting on with things really.

Q. Just to follow-up on what you're saying about the 20 years you've spent watching, what are some of the other images and what comes to mind when you think Ryder Cup?

DAVID HOWELL: Phillip at Oak Hill, I believe, when he 2-putted at the last to win that much. Kiawah Island, classic match there, Bernhard's putt unfortunately that missed. You know, numerous, when the first putt goes in in the morning for a half at the first. The last match first hole Clarky made a putt at the first to go 1-up, there's so many all day, really. I think all of the guys were just playing so passionately.

Q. Darren was in here a little while ago and he was asked what advice he would give to the newcomers, he said to get to the toilet early before the first tee on the first day. Have you gotten advice from some of the veterans in the same way?

DAVID HOWELL: Not yet, but that sounds like pretty good advice. I always set aside my little time before we have to go, so I'm sure that won't change. (Laughter.)

Q. Foursomes play, you've played a bit in Walker Cup, have you any thoughts or preference of whether you would like to be hitting first and also, how do you feel you'll cope with foursomes?

DAVID HOWELL: As I say, we don't play much at all. Seve Trophy I think we played it once, but we actually played threesomes in one of the sessions and that's a bit different. I used to love playing foursomes as an amateur. If you have two guys playing well, you can really -- contrary to the belief -- if you're both playing well, it can always seem easier, and with less good shots each. Contrary to that, if you are struggling that is a very difficult format. I've got no preference. I'm happy to play foursomes, I'm happy to play four-balls, whatever Bernhard wants me to play I'll be happy to turn up. I haven't seen the course yet so in terms of which tee to tee off, I can't give any details on that, but -- well, I'd like to tee off on the first actually. If I had a preference I think I'd like to stand up there and get it underway.

Q. Have you actually asked people like Phillip Price what it was like and what advice they would give to you?


Q. But you're seeking information this week? Of everybody else?

DAVID HOWELL: Not really. I can't see me really asking the guys, what's this like, what's that like. I mean, we're going to experience it sooner or later this week and nothing can prepare you for the feeling on the first tee like everyone says. It's a golfing myth, now, the feeling you get when you walk to the first tee. I can half-imagine what it's like, but you can't really comprehend it till you're there. So I guess they can give you all of the words of wisdom, they have always had words of wisdom in the past and they were all nervous when they got to the first tee. So maybe words of wisdom can happen in that situation.

Q. Just wondering, as a fellow U.K. person, whether Monty is a bit of an inspiration to you given that he's been going through these wars for so long and almost single handedly it seems he's carried the team on his shoulders, as least emotionally at times?

DAVID HOWELL: Oh, definitely. In the past Seve was the Ryder Cup man, he lived for it. And Monty has taken over that mantle and we are all pleased. We are delighted to have him on the team. You wouldn't want it any other way and he's going to be a rock this week as he always is, I'm sure. Yeah, you can't help but be inspired by some of the golf he's played in Ryder Cups over the years. It brings the best out of him and we all hope he's going to do the same for us.

Q. How much danger is there of Europe being overconfident this week?

DAVID HOWELL: None. We're not overconfident, that's for sure. We have a task on our hands, being away from home; on paper as always the statistics might show that the U.S. has a stronger team; and we are aware of that. There's obviously lots that you read in the papers about the lack of major wins on our side, but that's been the case for many years. We are not overconfident, but we are confident we're going to play well and if we play well we really feel that we're going to have a chance.

Q. For those of us who don't really see or hear much of the European press, can you describe what Colin has gone through in the last year with his divorce and everything that has surrounded him?

DAVID HOWELL: Well, I don't want to comment too much on what Colin's gone through. I mean, that's for him to know and talk about if he wants to. There has been a lot of stuff in the press and I can only imagine it has been very difficult but Monty is in great fetter this week as he always is. He's a great team man and he's a joy to be around in the team rooms so he's going to be the same all week. As far as we are concerned, it's Monty as usual and we are going to look forward to spending the week with him.

Q. Trying to get personal here, aside from golf, what things do you like to do? What are your hobbies? Tell us more about you?

DAVID HOWELL: Hobbies. Well, the last time I played tennis I sprained my ankle. And the last time I went jogging I broke my arm. I'm sportsman and I love to play all sports, but unlike David Duval and some of the guys who go skiing and all that, I'd like to do that, but I just don't trust myself. Golf, it's my life, I love it and am just quite happy doing as well as I can and watching sports on TV. But pretty much, you know -- it's just golf.

JULIUS MASON: David Howell, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you.

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