Ryder Cup LogoRyder Cup: Team USASeptember 22-24 2006, The K Club, Straffan, County Kildare, Ireland
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An Interview With: PAUL McGINLEY

19 September 2006

GORDON SIMPSON: Okay, everyone, last for today but certainly not least, we have Paul McGinley. Paul, it's been a long time coming, it's meant an awful lot to Ireland and an awful lot to Paul McGinley I expect. How do you feel now that we're finally into the thick of it?

PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, it's great to be here obviously, the start of a momentous week in the history of Ireland from a sporting sense. I'm glad to be part of it obviously and looking forward to it. Most important of all, I hope we get the right result at the end of it. It would be a great shame if we didn't win the Ryder Cup for me in my home country, as well as everybody else.

But, we'll see what happens. We've got a strong team and we're going to do our best.

GORDON SIMPSON: From a personal point of view, was there a sense of relief or exhilaration, or how did it hit you when you knew you were in the team?

PAUL McGINLEY: I was relieved to be honest. I didn't play really well the last few months as everybody knows it. It was a relief to be able to hold onto my spot. Even though I didn't play very well, it was the complete opposite of what I did two years ago where I stormed through the qualifying, the final stages of the qualifying process and made the team. This time I've done the complete opposite. It's quite amazing.

Q. It's just Tuesday, tens of thousands out there today. Can you just put into your own words what it was like to play there today?

PAUL McGINLEY: It was great. You know, it was great to be playing with Darren and Padraig. Lee was very much on his own to a large extent. But it was, you know, it was great to share the first day of the Ryder Cup, you know, playing with Padraig and Darren. Great to see the crowds out. Plenty of good atmosphere and good fun out there and smart comments like you have in Ireland.

It was so funny, I remarked to everybody, because being it happened in Ireland, we were going down the Old Course, which is the 10th, and there was a guy driving a buggy and on the back of the buggy he had maybe a hundred small bottles of water where he was going around to fill up the things around the tee boxes. Of course he was looking at the golf but he was parked beside the crowd, and here was the crowd one after another helping themselves to all of these bottles of water (laughter). It can only happen in Ireland; anybody else would be afraid to go near the guy.

The guy was totally oblivious to what was happening. He had a hundred battles starting, and by the time he pulled off, I'd say he had about ten left. It was so funny (laughter).

Q. You're talking about Padraig and Darren, you know, the trio of Irish players has been a mainstay in the past two Ryder Cups, how important do you think it is in this Ryder Cup, and even more so it being played in Ireland, to have the three of you?

PAUL McGINLEY: Well, of course it is, yeah. You know, Irish history in the Ryder Cup has been great as everybody knows. We played a big part in history, of successes, particularly, which has been great. You know, Darren and Padraig have been consistently two of the best players in the world over the last seven or eight years, so of course they are going to play big roles on the team, in any Ryder Cup Team, whether it be European or American, so it's very, very important for the success of the team that your big players play well. And Darren and Padraig have been very much a part of that in the last two wins, they have played very big roles and won a huge amount of points, and that's been important from our point of view.

Q. First of all, it was good to see your dad out there with you walking the 18 holes on close range. Was there any particular reason for that?

PAUL McGINLEY: No, my dad knows my game better than anybody and I wanted him to have a close look at how I was swinging the club and what he thought. The things he said to me over the last couple of weeks and the last couple of months have been exactly what Bob Torrance has been saying to me. It was nice to have him in there, yeah. He was there at Oakland Hills and at The Belfry. It's nice.

Just for me as an Irishman, of course I'm proud and love to be here at the Ryder Cup, but it's a big deal for my family, as well. I'm very much aware of that. It's great to be able to include them in a lot of things, and my dad is a big benefit as everybody knows.

Q. A bit closer to the bone, but it has not been a good spell for you as you've readily and honestly admitted. How concerned are you about your form going into the game, and is there anything that's happened over the last few days or week to assure you about your game going into the Ryder Cup?

PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, my form has been poor. I did the complete opposite of what I did two years ago at Oakland Hills where I was flying, came through the qualifying stages very late and very strongly to make the team, and then went on to play great, because I was right on top of my game.

I'm obviously not on top of my game, you can quite clearly see that by looking at my results over the last few months, but I know how quickly the game can come around. I've had two great experiences in the Ryder Cup before. But most importantly of all, you know, I've been swinging the club very poorly, and technically I've got really out of position, really out of kilter where I've been swinging the golf club, swinging too flat and laying off too much from the ball coming up from the inside. I had a week of very, very strong practise last week and I switched my mobile phone, nobody could get a hold of me, as I'm sure you found, you Irish guys, press guys, and I wanted to have a week off without speaking to anybody and figure things out for myself.

I spoke with Bob on the phone and I spoke with him on the phone two weeks ago. I've had a technical issue with my swing, a habit I got into, and it's something that really hasn't been that evident in my career in the past. Normally my game has been very consistent because my technique has been consistent. For some reason, I was working on one part of my technique and I basically took it too far.

GORDON SIMPSON: More important, did you figure it out?

PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, I've had a really good week of practise as I say last week and I'm [] raring to go. I'm sure the adrenaline and the excitement of playing in front of my home crowd and playing in the Ryder Cup and playing a part of the team will bring it to a new level this week like it will to a lot of guys.

Q. The last few months you put a brave face on about the fact that you were there or thereabouts. Now that you're in, what sort of preoccupation do you have with it?

PAUL McGINLEY: Not as much as everybody thinks I had. I was very practical about it the last two or three months.

I was in a very strong position, I made a lot of points at the end of last season and played great. I started off the season reasonably well and went through a little bit of a lull. I was very pragmatic about it in the summer; I would have had not one complaint about not making the team because I did not play well enough.

Fortunately I had enough points in the bank to hang onto it, and now that I'm here, I want to take advantage of it.

Q. Do you think one of your strengths is your experience here?

PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, everybody thinks. It's a lot of extra pressure as well. You're performing in front of your home country in familiar surroundings. Often that comes with other pressure, as well, and that's something else that we have to deal with but it is something that we will deal with.

Q. Can you put into context what it means for Ireland, the nation and the economy, to actually host the Ryder Cup, and bearing in mind it will probably never host the Olympics and therefore a World Cup, do you think this is the biggest sporting event the country will ever have?

PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, I read somewhere where 2 billion people are going to have access to watching it on TV. That puts it into perspective how big this is. This is a showcase for Ireland. Ireland as an economy and as a country has grown unbelievably in the last ten years. I can see that more than most people because I don't live here anymore and I come back quite readily and I can see the changes and I can see how the economy has been brought on and the money that people are making and the wealth of Ireland and the price of houses and restaurants and the price of price of Guinness and those things have changed over the years. That's something I'm very proud of in Ireland, where we've come from as a country, and this is very much a cherry at the end of the cake to put on an event of this size; it's a massive show.

All of the events I've played from U.S. Masters, U.S. majors right through, I've never seen corporate hospitality and stands of this magnitude at any golfing event I've ever seen before. That makes me proud as an Irishman, that we have been able to pull it off and be here and most importantly now from my point of view is retaining the Cup for Europe.

Q. How does The K Club compare to the other venues that you've played in the Ryder Cup?

PAUL McGINLEY: How does this compare? Obviously the weather is going to compare hugely. The Americans, I know they were cringing when the plane landed yesterday in Dublin airport and it was blowing an absolute gale and lashing rain. Compared to two years ago, get off at Oakland Hills and take the photograph and two steps and it's 90 degrees, it's quite different.

The forecast is not so good from what we hear this week, so it's going to be rough, it's going to be tough. I've always found this golf course extremely difficult. I don't think it's going to be the birdie fest that you've seen in previous Ryder Cups. There's a lot of very, very tough par 4s out there, but par is going to win a lot of holes. So it will be slightly different in that context.

We talked about what a beautiful showcase for Ireland. You know, Ireland has always been a green country. I think you're going to see green grass everywhere, there's no question about that. The crowds are going to be what's going to bring the atmosphere to it. You're going to have very, very passionate crowds and that's going to bring a big and new dimension to the Ryder Cup; not that it wasn't before, but it's going to be even more.

Q. Just two questions. The first one is quite hard. You appeared to play very well today. How close are you, being the honest guy that we know that you are, to looking Woosie in the eye and saying, "play me."

PAUL McGINLEY: I would never do that. That's not for me to say that. I don't think it's right for any player to say that to a captain. He makes his own decisions. I spoke to him about that. Whatever role he asks me to play this week, I'm here to play. It's not for me to say.

Q. Okay. Look in his eye and say, "I'm ready."

PAUL McGINLEY: I think he knows that. Again, I think that's something I don't think I should say. Woosie is the type of guy, he's got his own eyes and other eyes that are out there as well watching, too. I don't think you can fool anybody by saying, I'm ready, and if you're not playing very well in practise, it's quite obvious that it will come through; he's saying one thing but he's acting, not doing it.

The big thing for me has been my technique and I got into some bad positions and I feel I've diagnosed it. I'm not back to the confidence I know Paul McGinley can have but I feel I have turned the corner.

Q. Darren got an awful pounding reception everywhere he went, and it must have been difficult for him to take and at the same time uplifting. How did you feel for him today and how have you felt for him in recent weeks?

PAUL McGINLEY: Darren is great. Darren is tough. He's come through a very, very tough period in his life, there's no doubt about that. He's had a lot of success and a lot of glory in his life, and he's had to deal with the complete opposite the last two years, guiding his kids through it. It's not over yet because there's going to be very, very tough days ahead, too.

But he's tough. He wanted to play the Ryder Cup. He's here. He's here as one of 12 players. We don't want to overemphasize the sympathy for him and he doesn't want that either. He's here as one of the 12 players that have a role to play and he will play it.

Q. Are you proud of the way the home crowd responded?

PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, very proud. He got a massive cheer when he walked onto that first tee this morning and it was lovely to hear. He will be an important player for us this week. He's absolutely buzzing, delighted to be here, excited to be here. He's had a really, really tough time as everybody knows, and it's nice that he's able to have something sort of joyous to look forward to as he has this week.

Q. You've talked about the water bottles being taken, you've talked about Darren. How about your own form in practise today; did you feel yourself come through today?

PAUL McGINLEY: I played very well. Yeah, myself and Padraig, we were 2 up and two to play and they finished 3 3, which really upset us because we had to pay them money. It was good fun. I enjoyed playing it. I was playing with Padraig, and Darren and Lee were big buddies and it was nice playing with them. We thought we had them in the corner but they backed themselves out of it.

We have two more days to go yet. I think the pairings will be thrown up different tomorrow, which is good. Everybody plays with everybody and gets a little bit of everything else. Woosie has thrown a few ideas at me of who is going to be playing the next two days. There's a lot of cards to fall yet before the final decision is made for Friday.

Q. Highlights of your particular golf today?

PAUL McGINLEY: I think the one highlight is 4, the par 5, Darren hit it into four feet, driving a 3 wood to four feet, and I was about six inches ahead of him off the tee shot and I hit it into three feet with a 3 wood as well, so that's quite unique.

But it was good. I think the highlight was the finish for the boys as all. They are very, very chirpy, and having lunch afterward, having finished 3 3, the fact that me and Padraig have to dig 50 Euros out of our wallet.

Q. You said you had the lads in a corner today. Do you feel you can produce your best when you're in a corner, when your back is against the wall; is that a quality you feel you have?

PAUL McGINLEY: I hope so. I don't want to make any predictions. From my point of view, the next three days if I continue the progress I've been making on my game, particularly over last week where I did a huge amount of practise; I said I have work to do. My short game is still not as sharp as I'd like it to be, but as I said, I feel like I'm on the right lines and I'm looking forward to hopefully starting the tournament, and like everybody else, hopefully be looking forward to a boost on Friday when the atmosphere kicks in and the adrenaline kicks in and the fact that you're playing in the Ryder Cup kicks in.

Sure I'm looking for a boost and I'm sure the other 23 guys playing, as well, will do the same.

Q. A lot of work had to be done before you play golf. Can you talk about Des Smyth and the influence and experience he brings to the team and squad this week?

PAUL McGINLEY: Well, as everybody knows, Des is a very jovial, positive personality. He's been a big influence in my career. When I came up first, I spent my first probably ten years on Tour with Des most nights in his company. So I've learned a lot from him and I'm thrilled that he's part of this team.

He's a very positive person. He's still competing extremely well in America on the Seniors Tour, and he gets on well with everybody. He's always welcome into the team room. We've got a great atmosphere in the team room. I think we always do as Europeans. We always do have a very good team room. I can't speak for the Americans because I've never been in their team room, but I'm sure they have the same, as well, too. They have a very, very good captain in Tom Lehman, and I think it's going to be a very, very close fought match and I'm looking forward to it. I think it will come right, right down to the wire on Sunday.

Q. Just what traits do you believe that you actually bring into the team room? I don't assume you're one of the quiet guys that sits in the corner. What would you contribute to discussions on what's going on?

PAUL McGINLEY: Well, I think I've learned a lot from the two experiences I've had from Ryder Cups. I've had a lot of anecdotes and a lot of stories that were very, very beneficial to me and to the success of the team on the last two occasions. I learned a huge amount from Sam Torrance and Bernhard Langer and also from playing with different guys, as well, too. So I feel I can do that.

But, you know, the most important thing for me is that we win this Cup at the end of the week. If Woosie says to me my role will be to play the singles on Sunday and that's all, I'm quite happy to do that. There will be no complaints from me whatsoever. If you ask me to play five games, it will be the same, I'll do my best. I feel that I'm a cog in the wheel, one of 12 and very much a team player. There will be no animosity whatsoever if I'm not playing on a certain day or whatever the case may be. So most important thing for me is that we win this Ryder Cup in my home country.

Q. So you refer to the incident with Darren. You made a quip; would you tell us what it was?

PAUL McGINLEY: I said, "You want to call it halves?" We were both about three, three and a half feet, and he said, "Would you call it halves on Friday," and I said, "Okay, I probably would." It was a very jovial match. Lee and Darren as you know are very, very cocky. They were very proud; they love taking money off me and Padraig, so they got €50. Ouch.

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