An Interview With: CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM
21 September 2006
GORDON SIMPSON: You will see in front of you a notice informing you that the pairings we are about to hear are strictly embargoed until Ian and Tom make the official announcement on stage during the opening ceremony. Could you please respect that. Thank you.
Ian, here we are at last, the talking is just about to stop but not before you've given us your last thoughts. But what I'll do first is to read out the Friday morning four balls, and they are, the first match, at 8:00 in the morning, Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk against Padraig Harrington and Colin Montgomerie; match two at 8:15, Stewart Cink and J.J. Henry against Paul Casey and Robert Karlsson; match three at 8:30, David Toms and Brett Wetterich against Sergio Garcia and José Maria Olazábal; match four at 8:45, Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco against Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood. So, Ian, you haven't seen it for very long, what's your thoughts on this?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Well, I'm just glad it's all going to be starting, and I know it's going to be a fantastic day of four balls in the morning and there's some great pairings. You know, I'm glad it started and we can see some great golf this week.
Q. There some obvious ones, but could you go over the Casey/Karlsson, one which might surprise a few of us.
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Obviously it's a very, very hard job to leave anybody out of our team. For the first time I think it would actually be great to have six four balls.
I put them together, I thought they was going to play really good together. Casey has just won the World Match Play and Robert is playing exceptionally well.
Q. Did you think about what the American pairings might be and where they might be in the four balls and try to figure them in with your pairings?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Yeah, I thought I will say I thought they are going to come out as strong as they possibly could, and I expected Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk to be off first, and I had an inkling that obviously Phil Mickelson and Chris DiMarco would be off last.
So I think with Padraig and Colin off first, and Darren and Lee off last, I think that's going to be two fantastic four balls.
Q. Are you surprised about any of the two other American pairings in the middle?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I've only had a few minutes to look at this draw. You know, it's going to be difficult for Tom to put who he is going to put with Stewart Cink or David Toms. I thought it might have been Chad Campbell playing, but he's obviously put whoever he feels like is playing the best out strong, and I would do the same.
Q. Can you just take us through the timing of when you decided on Casey and Karlsson?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I decided last night on that pairing, and that's why they went out together today to give them a chance to play together.
Q. Harrington and Montgomerie went out first last time and beat Woods and Mickelson and that momentum did not stop for three days. How important do you think this first match will be for the whole event?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I think there's been a lot of talk about obviously Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk playing together, what they did in the Presidents Cup, a very strong partnership. Obviously it's going to be a big boost for us if we can beat that pairing. It's just going to be fantastic for us, and that will give the confidence to the rest of the team. But obviously if you lose it, you know, there's three more matches to go there.
Q. You talked about Casey and Karlsson, Casey having just won, and you said you think they would be nice together. What are the things that you see? Is it their personalities that go together? You know, can you elaborate a little bit?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Yeah, I think, not necessarily personalities. I think it's the way they play. They both hit the ball extremely long, very similar off the par 3s. They hit in the same club and hit the same shots into the green, and I think that's what made me go for that pairing.
Q. Just to go back to the first match again, there was a feeling last time that it was a no lose match. Is that a similar scenario now, and can you tell us who will hit off first?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Who will hit off first?
Q. Who will hit off first, as well, of our pairing.
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I'm not sure who will hit off first. I think I'll leave that up to them. You know, I'm not actually hitting the ball with the professionals. I don't want to tell them who to play off first or whatever.
If it was me, it would most probably be Padraig Harrington probably, but that's up to them. They are both fantastic players, especially Padraig being Irish, you know.
Q. And the no lose match two years ago, is it the same thing?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: What do you think? It's going to be tight, that match.
Q. Can you compare the way partners of Sergio and Olazábal with Olazábal and Seve?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: As I said earlier in the press conference, I see them as, as I say, the new Seve and Olazábal. Olazábal has been around for a long time and he has a lot of experience, and the enthusiasm he has this week has been incredible. Keeping him off the golf course has been the hardest thing.
With Sergio, he's been around a while now and he's such a fantastic player. They are just going to work beautifully together.
Q. You have a Spanish pairing here. Was it ever close to a full Swedish pairing?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Well, you know, it is my intention to play everybody before the four balls, I'm definitely going to do that. And they all know that. We might see that through the week, but we'll wait and see.
Q. Obviously Luke Donald and David Howell are two of your highest ranked players. Was that particularly difficult to tell them they were not playing first session?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Very difficult. You know, as I say, I've got nine players in the Top 25 in the world, and I think, you know, Stenson, Donald and Howell are right up there, and it is difficult to tell them players they are not playing.
As I said, I wanted to go out that's the trouble we've got. Everybody is playing well; someone is going to be dropped.
Q. Have any of them been assured they are playing tomorrow afternoon or anything yet?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I can't tell you that (laughing).
Q. They might be.
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Might be (laughter).
Q. This is a question for me and my colleague who we were discussing this earlier. What do you guys think about just absolutely dominating the Americans in the last ten Cups; I mean, you have, especially the last one. That thing, you were in control after the first day. What's your thoughts on that?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Well, I think, you know, for the last, as you say, for the last four matches out of five we've won, and I just think it's the way we come around as the friendship between the players is incredible, and in the team room there's always a fantastic spirit.
I think it's just a matter of just keeping that going. The understanding of each other, I think that's what Tom's tried to do. He's tried to get a lot of bonding together, and it will be interesting to see how Tom's team performs this week.
Q. Seve seemed like he was a bit of a mentor for Ollie when he started out, and I don't really see that dynamic between Ollie and Sergio. I wonder what you see in their relationship and what you see about them that you think will work beautifully together?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Obviously they are both Spanish and they both come from not far from where Seve lives and they have played a lot of golf with Seve.
What amazes me, they have both got this love of match play, and the spirit they have. You know, obviously they might be talking Spanish all the way around, as well. So that's another great thing I think.
Q. You started your two wild cards. Was that always your intention, and what do they bring to the Ryder Cup?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Well, yeah, two wild cards, I don't think of them as wild cards. I think of them as, you know, part of the team.
Darren and Westwood have played very well this week together. They are great friends and it's a big occasion for Darren tomorrow, and playing with one of his best friends, I think that's going to boost Darren right up.
Q. Would winning this week mean more to you than your individual victory at the U.S. Masters, and if so, why?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I think so. This is the biggest honour I've ever had. Winning a major was fantastic, but to win this, being a captain of 12 great players and a great team, and having all of the responsibility of Europe on your shoulders, you know, this will be probably the most emotional I'll ever be in my life.
Q. Would it not be unnatural for Paul Casey to have a bit of a letdown after the incredible way he played last week? Has he managed to keep bubbling along as he was last week?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Yeah, Paul's up for it. It was in the paper last week, that he would rather win the Ryder Cup than win a million pounds. That sums it up, how Paul Casey feels about this tournament.
Q. Can you give us an idea when Colin Montgomerie comes into a Ryder Cup environment, how he changes, how he becomes kind of a bigger man in golfing terms?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Well, I think, you know, Monty always just seems to rise his game for this tournament. Obviously he stands on that first tee, he changes into a different person. He's playing for himself and for all of his teammates. He's been an incredible ambassador over the last few years.
Q. The pairing of Harrington and Montgomerie, did they volunteer to take on Woods and Furyk or how was the dynamic of that exactly or did you tell them?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I think I look at it, as you say, Monty is a fantastic competitor. He's got a fantastic Ryder Cup record, and Padraig has also got a fantastic Ryder Cup record. I thought if we're going to have to play against Tiger and Jim Furyk, let's get a lot of experience out there and two great players.
Q. On a very similar subject, if you look at your pairings there, there are some there that you would have come into this week with, obviously, they are preconceived, assuming that Monty Harrington are in that role. Who specifically has impressed you this week and has it made you change your mind?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: That's the trouble, I think, everybody is playing great golf. That's why I've openly said that I'm going to play everybody before the singles. And I could put anybody with anybody and every pairing would look fantastic.
Q. Have you actually changed your mind on any pairings this week as a result of what you've seen in practise?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Yes, I have, definitely.
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Not specifically, there's a couple I've changed around.
Q. Who, for example?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I'm not telling you that (laughter).
Q. When you had worked out that you thought Tom was going to put Tiger and Jim first, was it a very close run thing between Padraig and Colin, and Darren and Lee?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: No. I've always felt that I wanted to put if I'm putting them together, I wanted to play Monty and Padraig first. That was always my decision was to put them first.
Q. Apart from 16, 17 and 18, what do you expect are the key holes on the course over the weekend?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I think 6 and 7 are very key holes. I think the par 5s could be very interesting. You've got four par 5s are evens thank you for that, and the three par 3s are even as well, and one odd. So I think that's going to be a lot of the key holes as well.
Q. Pardon the silliness of this, but given that Padraig is Irish and given that Monty is the best Ryder Cup performer at these Matches, from what they did last time, were you at all concerned that if Tiger and Furyk beat them that it will be an emotional lift for the U.S.?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I guess so.
Q. We are the underdog, right?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Exactly. Saying you're the underdogs, it's going to be a close match. I don't think anybody should be favourite. I think if I went to the bookies, it would be 50/50 who was going to win this match.
Q. Have you got anything special planned to do with the players tonight, and have you thought what the last thing you're going to say to the guys before they step on the first tee tomorrow morning is?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Just go to the opening ceremony, go back to the team room and discuss obviously we'll be discussing the pairings and we'll also be discussing the foursomes tomorrow.
What I have said to the lads, that I will be making a decision, I have to have the pairings in by 12:00 tomorrow afternoon. I will let all of the players know if they are playing in the afternoon as quick as possible so they can get G'ed up for day.
Q. Did it come down to Luke and David that maybe they were better as an alternate shot pairing and was that the decision there?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Well, I think you've just got to look at it, I think you can read whatever you like into that. I think length is a big thing on this golf course. It's playing extremely long out there. I think that is some of the main things I didn't put some of the players out there, and it was an obvious choice, Luke Donald and David Howell, they are going to blend beautifully into foursomes and four balls, really, but foursomes they look great together or could play with anybody.
Q. What's the most telling thing that anyone has ever said to you on a first tee in a Ryder Cup?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Enjoy it.
Q. And who did that come from?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Tony Jacklin.
Q. Has there been any update on playing lift, clean and place and how late could the decision be made?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: It's supposed to rain this afternoon. I know myself and Tom have agreed on it that we two would like to wipe and place, or whatever you call it in America. Pick it up and clean it (laughter) and replace it.
Me and Tom prefer to do it that way, because, you know, we don't want to see any balls just flying off anywhere. But it is an outdoor sport, and I think the referees are going to look at that very closely. If we play one day up, we might not be playing it the next day. I think it's taking it one a day at a time.
Q. What was the reaction to Monty and Padraig to going out first and did they expect to be playing Tiger and Furyk?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Yeah, I think they expected and I think they will be up for it.
They have got, what is it, so many hours to think about it. Plus Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk have to think about it, as well. Let's get this match started.
Q. This is a very stupid one it may seem. (Laughter). Who has the honour, do you mind my asking? Is it the American team as the visitors?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Yes, they will get the honour, yes.
Q. Can I just ask Ian how Paul McGinley took the news that he wasn't going to start and how his demeanor or has been all week for you?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Paul is great. You know, all of my players have been great. They know I've got a difficult job. They know that someone has got to stand down and some are going to play. And they know they are going to get a game before the singles and everybody was happy with it.
It's like, you know, they are going to be disappointed. If I was a player, I'd be disappointed; I want to be out there playing. But that just shows you the nature of the team. Everybody wants to be out there playing.
Q. There is an intimidation factor when it comes to playing Tiger Woods, or at least that's the general opinion. Do you believe that when Americans play Colin Montgomerie, there is that same factor that they feel?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I think so, yeah. He's obviously got a fantastic record, and not very often he gets beat.
You know, my motto is, I'm never scared of anybody, not even Tiger Woods.
GORDON SIMPSON: Seems like a good note to finish. And just to remind you again, please, the pairings are embargoed until they are announced during the opening ceremony.
Sunday Video Recap
Check out all the great highlights from Sunday's European victory. Watch
- 1969: Tony Jacklin and Jack Nicklaus on the final hole of the final day.