Team Europe > News

An Interview with Ryder Cup Captains Hal Sutton and Bernhard Langer

The two captains discuss how the week is shaping up at Oakland Hills Country Club.

PGA.com
September 14, 2004


JULIUS MASON: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, I'm Julius Mason, director of public relations for the PGA of America. Thank you very much for joining us this afternoon.

Joining me, fresh off an eight-hour flight from London is the European Ryder Cup Captain Bernhard Langer. And fresh off what I guess felt like an eight-hour bus ride from Birmingham is the United States Ryder Cup Captain Hal Sutton.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are finally just about four days away for an event that we have been waiting two years for. With that said, I'd like to go ahead and turn it over to the United States Ryder Cup Captain, Mr. Hal Sutton.

CAPTAIN HAL SUTTON: Well, thank you very much. Bernhard, I would just like to welcome you and Vickie and the rest of your team here to the United States of America. It's been a week we've both looked forward to for a long, long time, and it's here now. I know that the United States is very excited about this week. I'm sure Europe is, also, to play for the 35th Ryder Cup Matches, a great week that we should all be looking forward to.

Anyway we are not going to arm wrestle for this thing. We've decided that. We've kissed and we've hugged and this is about as close as we're going to get on this thing, Bernhard.

CAPTAIN BERNHARD LANGER: Probably will be. We'll still be friends afterwards no matter what.

CAPTAIN HAL SUTTON: No matter what.

JULIUS MASON: Captain Langer, some thoughts, please?

CAPTAIN BERNHARD LANGER: First of all Hal, thanks very much for welcoming us here. We look forward to this week's competition and appreciate the friendly welcome and the hospitality we have received already.

Also, of course we thank Ashley and all of the ladies who are present. It's been a long journey of campaigning and getting ready, preparing to enjoy this week's competition. And to arrive here in the United States of America as members of the European Team, we are dedicated to uphold the true spirit and the sporting tradition of the Ryder Cup, and the game of golf.

As captain, I want to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to the PGA of America, to the Oakland Hills Country Club, the Detroit Metro Authority, Wayne Metropolitan Airport and everyone who has helped prepare the way for what truly will be a memorable match.

We wish you, Hal, and your team, good luck. Guarantee that this match will further enhance the bond of friendship that already exists between us. We promise you a sporting contest, but I should let you know now, Hal, that we have enjoyed having this trophy in Europe for the last two years, and it is our intention to take it back home next Monday.

CAPTAIN HAL SUTTON: So I guess the arm-wrestling match is off?

CAPTAIN BERNHARD LANGER: I think so. We'll let the clubs do the talking, okay. (Laughter.)

Q. So much has been made of who is the underdog, who is not the underdog; do you guys feel as the Americans that you might look better on paper that maybe you need to think that you're the underdogs going into this match?

CAPTAIN HAL SUTTON: You know what, there's no underdogs in this thing. There's 24 great players on this little sheet of paper right here, and both Europeans and Americans and everybody here is very capable.

So, I think Bernhard would probably echo what I'm about to say. Our task is to create a situation where we bring their greatness out, and that will make for the 35th Ryder Cup Matches being one of the greatest sporting events ever.

Q. Where was the Ryder Cup on the flight over? Did it have its own seat or did it get passed along to the team?

CAPTAIN BERNHARD LANGER: It was everywhere on the plane. It is in a secure case when it travels, so it doesn't get scratched when it travels and it won't be stolen. We got it out f the case and had a bit of fun with it and took many pictures and passed it around. We just had a wonderful time on the airplane coming over here.

Q. Can you elaborate on "had some fun with it"?

CAPTAIN BERNHARD LANGER: We certainly had some fun with it, yeah. As I said, spent a bit of time with it, took some memorable pictures on the plane off the plane and before and after and all that kind of stuff. And it's nice to have it, as you say, in my grasp and I'm not going to try and let go of it.

JULIUS MASON: He's not going to tell you the preferred liquid of choice that was in there, if that's where you were going, Doug. Next question.

Q. Can you give us your impressions of what you think the European Team looks like despite an eight-hour trip, first impressions of how they look?

CAPTAIN HAL SUTTON: They look great. I like your jacket.

CAPTAIN BERNHARD LANGER: Thank you.

CAPTAIN HAL SUTTON: I wish I was in their attire instead of mine. I don't like ties all that much. No, they look great. We all know they are a formidable opponent. They are great players.

And we are excited to have this competition here in Detroit and I have to say, that when they were -- we were both announced as captains, I can't think of anybody that I would rather be an opposing captain to than Bernhard. He's a great man, a great competitor and a good friend.

CAPTAIN BERNHARD LANGER: Thank you. Same here.

Q. What does the U.S. Team have to do differently this time to win the Cup back that perhaps wasn't done at The Belfry or on other occasions?

CAPTAIN HAL SUTTON: The team that wins here this week will make the most putts. And it will be just that simple. So if you see it going in the hole a lot from either side, go make a bet. (Laughing).

CAPTAIN BERNHARD LANGER: It's always that way, isn't it?

CAPTAIN HAL SUTTON: It's always that way, that's what it comes down to.

Q. Did you guys talk any golf at all on the flight over, any strategy, any golf talk?

CAPTAIN BERNHARD LANGER: Of course we did. We are professional golfers. That's a big part of our lives.

And yes, I did talk with a number of the players and started thinking of my pairings and stuff like that. But it's still a long ways to go and I've already had a few lists and crumpled them up, threw them away again and that will continue to go on for the next two or three days, I suppose. So come Thursday afternoon hopefully, I come up with the right pairings that will do the best.

Q. Is this the first time that you've seen the team all together, that you guys have all been together?

CAPTAIN BERNHARD LANGER: Well, actually all of us, yes, that is correct. Obviously I've seen most of the players on several occasions, but it is the first time that everyone was here.

Q. What did you think about team unity and individual groupings, were you thinking at all like they were getting along better and that might play into your decision of who you play together?

CAPTAIN BERNHARD LANGER: I think the players are getting along fantastic already. We have just started the week and just started the bonding so I don't think we're going to have any issues also. All of the 12 guys I have on my team, everybody loves to play with everyone, so it doesn't matter who I put together. They are all going to get along and that's a thrill. There's no, what you say, animosity or anything like that, or any egos involved. They just have a friendship and bonding between them and they enjoy being together out there playing golf.

CAPTAIN HAL SUTTON: I have a question. You said something about you started this bonding process for two years. I've been listening to how y'all since have been bonded since the world started here. You just started this process? We've still got a chance. (Laughing).

Q. Speaking of which, Hal, when are you guys going to start bonding?

CAPTAIN HAL SUTTON: (Laughter.) We got a late start, Doug.

Q. What is your first official meeting?

CAPTAIN HAL SUTTON: Tonight.

Q. Dinner?

CAPTAIN HAL SUTTON: Dinner tonight.

Q. Are you going to wear a tie?

CAPTAIN HAL SUTTON: I am not going to wear a tie. Very caz. (Casual).

Q. I think we all agree that the spirit of the Ryder Cup was captured at The Belfry both on and off the course. How important is it that we carry that on here; and specifically for you, Hal, the American team at the Olympics was asked to tone down their celebrations, will you be making a similar request to your players?

CAPTAIN HAL SUTTON: I've continually made statements like: All we want to do is go put our best foot forward, play the best we can, tip our hats and thank everybody for the game, regardless of the outcome. So I will continue to drive that message home. I think that's what great golfers have been doing for a long time, long before Bernhard and I ever grabbed a club, that's what they were doing and that's what I'd like to see our guys do this week.

CAPTAIN BERNHARD LANGER: I think the last Ryder Cup two years ago was a great example of what the Ryder Cup should be and can be. I think Curtis strange and Sam Torrance and their 24 players set a great example. I think the spectators behaved very well overall, and I think Hal's and mine intention is to follow in the footsteps of what happened two years ago and to continue the tradition that we've had for so many years, to play the Ryder Cup in the true spirit and sportsmanship and gentlemen-like that it should be by the Rules of Golf.

We all know every once in awhile they got out of hand here and there and wasn't always the players fault or the captains fault. But we will do our utmost I think to maintain what we've started again two years ago and keep it in the true spirit and let the clubs do the talking.

Q. Can you just talk about there are some non-golf fans here who are in this Detroit area who are not that familiar with the sport or what happened at Brookline, can you talk about how difficult it is for a golfer to play in an environment that is a little bit more hostile than they are used and can you kind of give a description of how that impacts the actual play?

CAPTAIN BERNHARD LANGER: Well, every player takes it a little bit different I suppose. But in general, I would say that golf in general, whether you play the Masters, the British Open or whatever tournament around the world, great shots get applauded for and when you hit bad ones or you miscue, the people, they go, "oohh" and "ahhh" but they keep fairly quiet. Not so in the Ryder Cup. Not always.

There's a definite difference where certainly people are for one team and against the other. It's a lot like in football and in soccer and tennis and whatever else. So we have to be aware of that and that makes it a little bit harder to stay within the fair Rules of Golf and create an environment that is still fair. And some players, you know, when they get booed or something or if they hit a bad shot and the spectators applaud, it might fire them up even more, and others get down. So it's difficult to say how the individual responds to it.

Q. Getting back to the underdog thing, Hal says there is no underdogs, and Sergio just a minute ago said that the Europeans feel like they are the underdogs; do you agree with that sentiment?

CAPTAIN BERNHARD LANGER: I do. If you look at the majors that have been won over the years, the last few years, tournaments in general that have been won, whether it's World Golf Championships or majors or World Ranking, as a matter of fact, which reflects the true capability of the player how well he's played over the last few months and the last couple of years. When you look at all of that, the American team is a lot stronger than the European Team. You know, at the same time we know over the last 20 years we have been very evenly matched. There was one point two years ago when I think they figured out we have had 200 matches or something and each team had won 100. That's how close it has been. So, it's just a little different contest.

JULIUS MASON: Bernhard Langer Hal Sutton, thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports. ...

2004 Team Europe Sponsors
News Sections
Interviews
Recent News
Memorable Moments
Memorable Moments

Check out our exclusive video collection of the greatest moments in Ryder Cup history.

Jack Nicklaus & Tony Jacklin

Today's Memorable Moment: September 1969- In a memorable display of sportsmanship, Jack Nicklaus concedes ... more

Spectator Guide
Spectator Guide

Everything you need to know about attending the Ryder Cup Matches is right here in the spectator guide.

The Course
Course Tour

Take a hole-by-hole tour of Oakland Hills Country Club, site of the 35th Ryder Cup Matches.

History
Ryder

Nearly eighty years ago, English seed merchant and entrepreneur Samuel Ryder founded the Ryder Cup. Learn how it all began.