Ryder Cup LogoRyder Cup: Team USASeptember 22-24 2006, The K Club, Straffan, County Kildare, Ireland
Ryder Cup Captain Ian Woosnam poses with The Ryder Cup trophy at a press conference to mark the start of The Ryder Cup Qualifying Process during the Omega European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre Golf Club on August 31 in Crans Montana, Switzerland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Woosnam Starts The Ryder Cup Countdown

As the race for a place on The 2006 European Ryder Cup Team gets underway, Europe's Captain Ian Woosnam gives his views on the year ahead.

06 September 2005

The qualification process for The 2006 Ryder Cup began during the Omega European Masters at Crans-sur-Sierre in Switzerland last week. Europe's Ryder Cup Captain for The K Club, Ian Woosnam, gave his views on the qualification at a pre-tournament Press Conference. There follows an extract from the Conference.

Question: Ian, do you feel that the countdown to The K Club begins now?

Answer: "Yes, I think I've been looking forward to this day since February, when I was announced as Captain. I look forward to the points starting and how the Team starts to shape up. I guess I will be spending more time in the Press Centres talking about players over the next few months."

Q: Did you feel it was always good to make a fast start to the qualification?

A: "Yes, I think so. Obviously if you can get points early you can relax a little bit and you don't have to push to play in tournaments to try to make the Team."

Q: Ian, are you surprised that only four members of the last (European) Team are playing here?

A: "Well I guess they've had a busy schedule the last few weeks and sometimes you have to take a rest. Maybe they put it in the schedule but might have played in a lot more tournaments."

Q: Do you plan to get to The K Club between now and the match to dress up the course your way?

A: "I sort of did that at the Smurfit European Open this year and we've set that in motion already. The way it was played at The K Club this year will be very much as it will be for The Ryder Cup."

Q: What do you want?

A: "I want something similar to The Belfry in 2002. A similar set-up. I thought that was a good set-up for us, (where you can) shave around the greens so that the ball runs off and more variation of shot, chip and putt, you have the variation of chip and run it or chip lob it. We've got to play into our hands and what works best for us. I also added about 13 or 14 new trees but it didn't seem to bother the guys at the Smurfit!

Q: So power won't be the key?

A: "No, I think you saw that at The K Club this year. It wasn't all about power. You've got to keep it on the fairway and if you do that you can attack the flags."

Q: What are you thoughts on the qualification. Will you be watching from a distance or will you do what previous Captains did and try to play with potential team members?

A: "After six months or so and the Team is getting established I might want to get to know some of the guys better - especially a lot of the guys I haven't played with a lot before - and it would be nice to be able to do that."

Q: The wild cards - will you be basing it on a season's form or current form?

A: "I've got to look at that when I come to it. It a good point - the guy who've in hot form at the moment or the guy who has played steadily through the year. I will be looking at every aspect of it."

Q: I know you said you were worried about getting into a 'Catch 22' situation with players playing in America next season. We heard that Sergio (Garcia) is targeting the Ryder Cup World Ranking points table, do you still have concerns and have you spoken to any of the players involved?

A: "I haven't spoken to any of the players. I think you have to look at our record over the last four or five times in The Ryder Cup. It's been very successful - why change it? These guys have to make their mind up what they want to do. If they only leave themselves one option they might miss the Team."

Q: Would you encourage more (players) to play in Europe?

A: "Luke Donald came and made the effort last time, although he didn't quite make the Team automatically he got a wild card. These guys have got the the opportunity and hopefully they will come back to our Tour and play."

Q: Would you speak to them personally?

A: "Yes. I want that sort of player in the Team and if he has the chance to come back and try then it would be better for me and better for the Team."

Q: Sergio has qualified for the HSBC World Match Play, the Seve Trophy and the HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai. Does it disappoint you that guys are missing big Ryder Cup points scoring tournaments?

A: "I suppose it is disappointing. He's taking a risk. I can't understand why he isn't playing these tournaments but I am playing with him tomorrow so I'll ask him! He's playing in Majorca and Volvo Masters but he's a very confident player and I am sure he's going to make it anyway."

Q: Your thoughts on Justin Rose rejoining the Tour?

A: "That's great. He played very well last week and I watched a bit of it on TV. It's good. I think Justin has a very good chance of making the Team. It would be good for him to get in because he's still a very young lad and he will be part of The Ryder Cup for a long time to come."

Q: How much will you lean on your Vice Captains?

A: "Definitely when it gets closer I will be relying on Des Smyth and Peter Baker, plus I also hope the get the players together for a few meetings to get everybody together to explain what I am trying to do with the golf course, the clothing, everything, and get their thoughts on it too."

Q: Do you start looking at pairings when you want to play with them, because some would say it puts extra pressure on them playing with you?

A: "If they can't play under pressure playing with me they can't play in The Ryder Cup, can they? If they can't take the heat, they shouldn't be there. No, I don't look at it that way. It's the Captain's chance to get to know them a bit more. It's not putting heat on them. You have to look at it over a year and just get a feel of what the person's like and what kind of game he's got and who he might play well with."

Q: Ian, it seems in the last few Ryder Cups that the Americans don't have the same sense of team work?

A: "Yes, I think that's what our strength is. We play as a family and that's one up for us before we start. The Americans are very much individuals and I guess that Tom Lehman's job to get them to play more as a team, practice together, whatever. We want any player to ask a question about anything he is not happy about and we will be pushing for people to do that again. That family situation we have is not as close as it used t be with players playing more in America and it's something these dinners can help to get everybody together."

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