An Interview With: CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM
20 September 2006
GORDON SIMPSON: Welcome to the European captain, Ian Woosnam. Ian, I know there's many things you can control in terms of the Ryder Cup, but the elements is not one of them. So it's been a fairly difficult morning. Just take us through what has happened since you woke up this morning.
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Basically one of my assistants, David Russell, got up early to see what the weather was going to be like, and as you can see, it's bad. It's raining a little bit but it's very, very windy, and I can understand a lot of guys don't want to go out there and ruin their golf swings. And what I hear about the forecast, this might be the calmest day for a while. So I just felt if all the guys wanted to go out and play, to give them an option.
One of the main reasons we came out, as well, is you've got 40,000 people here, paid a lot of money and wanted to see the golfers. I thought it was important we come out to the practise ground, even if we only hit some balls and sign some autographs and maybe just play a few holes. But all the lads are going to play nine holes now in foursomes and just going to see what it's like.
GORDON SIMPSON: And I suppose it's an opportunity to play in these conditions if they are prevailing over the few days.
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: That's right. You know, this could be, as they say, the wind is going to get up even higher, and what's it going to be like then. At least it gives them some idea of what the conditions is going to be like over the next couple of days, anyway.
GORDON SIMPSON: Okay. We'll open it up to questions.
Q. Given the conditions, what benefit, if any, can you get from nine holes today?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Well, a benefit is that we wanted to play foursomes, and we're playing foursomes a little bit different way today. Both players are driving off the tee, and then playing each other's ball. So when it comes down to the foursomes, at least they get a feel for which tee they would like to play off, which iron shot they would like to take into par 3s and they can discuss that together, and I think it's important that we do get a feel for the foursomes and a feel for the course, how it's playing in these conditions.
Q. What were your pairings for your foursomes today?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I think
Robert Karlsson is playing with Olazábal; Garcia/Donald; Westwood/Clarke; Howell/Casey; Montgomerie/Harrington; Stenson/McGinley. Just see how that gets on and how today turns out.
Q. You touched on the fans there. The place was packed yesterday and packed again today; receptions on each tee box is tremendous. Can you just expand on that a little and give us your thoughts on the Irish crowd out there?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I just think the fans, the Irish fans are unbelievable and they won't be out of here in any sort of weather. When I heard they could not come in this morning and were not allowed in, obviously it was a bit dangerous, things blowing around everywhere, everyone is excited to get in here, and I'm glad they opened the gates at 10:00 and you could come in and do a little bit of something. It's 79 years that Ireland has waited for the Ryder Cup to come to these Isles, and I'm pleased. They will be terrific fans all over the week and hopefully we can start off the right way.
Q. You said you can understand the players are worried about going out there and ruining their swings. What are the dangers of playing in these conditions? And secondly, how does that affect you strategy wise if the course is getting softer and softer?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Obviously, again, what we wanted to do, see if the ball was picking up a lot of mud on the fairways. That's going to be a discussion with the PGA if we're going to place it or not.
What was your question again, sorry?
Q. What are the dangers?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Well, obviously, you know, I'm a true believer if you've got a great golf swing, you can play in anything. I think if the wind is going to be like this, it's learning to hit the right sort of shot into the right sort of green and play the right shot.
Obviously how the game of golf has gone at the moment, the players hit it very high, and you know, you've got to learn to keep the ball down in this wind, and that will be a good little test for them this afternoon, plus it will a test of guys who are out there and they've got to play different golf balls. I want them to get a feel, they can play this with their ball, he can play with his and they can discuss that as well.
Q. It seems that whatever the weather is this weekend, it's going to be less than perfect. Do you believe that favours The European Team?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I'd have to say it does, yes. I think it's favourable for us because we've played much more in these conditions than what the Americans would do. The air is much more heavier over here. When the ball moves, whether you hit a slice or a draw, it moves twice as much as what it does in America. That was the experiences I had when I was in America. I had a five yard draw on my shot; I'd have to just hit it for two yards. I didn't get as much movement on it. So that is a big factor.
Q. Have there been any kind of discussions with officials or anyone about potential accommodations for the conditions? Is it conceivable that there would be lift, clean and place at the Ryder Cup?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: The PGA does not want to have place if we possibly can, but if it gets to such a stage that it's picking up too much and it's going to affect all the balls all the time, no one wants to see a good shot just swithers off line into the rough. You have to be reasonably sensible about doing that.
Q. Whose decision would it be, whether to play preferred lies?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: It will be the PGA's decision, but I think as players and captains, we'll try and influence them a little bit. But that might be a little bit difficult.
Q. Someone like Paul McGinley, trying to impress you this week, is he particularly vulnerable in these conditions, given his swing, that it's in the remedial phase at the moment?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Paul doesn't have to impress me. I know how he can play. I've spoken to him a couple of times yesterday and last night; he's ready. He played pretty solid yesterday. He's up to playing with anybody. He's looking good.
Q. Do you think the Americans will play today, and if they don't, do you think it's a bit of a PR coup for The European Team?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: It's up to the Americans, they maybe want to go out and get the feeling that they don't want to ruin their golf swings or whatever.
But I just feel like it's important to get the feel of the course in these conditions.
As a PR thing, for the Europeans, and being here in Ireland, for us, yes, it's a good point to get out here and sign a few autographs at least and show our face.
Q. I just wondered if you could give me sort of your philosophy of pairing. You mentioned about having players play different golf balls; is that a factor when you determine who should be paired together? Can you give me some of your thoughts on that?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Well, not necessarily about playing which golf ball. It's a decision where two players play two different golf balls, and they come to a decision, they might even play a different ball that they are not used to at all. It's up to them to decide which one they are going to play. I can't make that decision for them.
Obviously you're saying, well, playing with him, they will play different balls. You know, I think that's where I have played in many Ryder Cups and have to come to a decision which one we're playing. Maybe one of the players is not used to the other ball, and you're going to have to accept that. I think on both sides that's going to happen, as well.
Q. Did you give the players the option whether to practise this morning, or did you make the decision that they will all go out together?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I gave them all the option. I said, let's go to the range, hit some balls, see how it is. I'd like you to play nine holes, but if you feel like you don't want to play, don't play. And if you do go out there and you feel like it's too windy or too wet, you know, come on in and do something else.
But obviously they've all stood up to the mark and gone out and played nine holes.
Q. Are you pleased that they all did that together?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Very pleased.
Q. At least four of your pairings today look how they expected to be, which wasn't the case yesterday. Are you fairly solid on these pairings?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I still haven't made my mind up yet. All I'm going to say to you, I'm going to go out with the strongest pairs tomorrow. If it be there's rookies in it, I want the strongest team out there.
Q. Are you expecting you can find much out about them today in this weather?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Not a lot. I think it's just going out there, have a game of golf, mainly just to feel what it's like to play foursomes.
Q. There's a lot of golf scheduled for Friday and Saturday, two rounds each day. Have you been involved in contingency plan talks yet about how long this match might go on, if you can get all the golf in that you want?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: No, I haven't you mean going onto Monday or something? I haven't heard anything about that yet. I think that is a good factor that it could possibly go onto Monday. Obviously there might be players with different schedules on, but we'll just have to wait and see what happens.
Q. You've changed all but one of your pairings from yesterday, and Colin Montgomerie said yesterday that you could almost throw all the European names into a hat to draw the pairings because the team on the whole is so strong. Does that make your job more difficult in that you have too much choice?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Yeah, you could say that. Again, it's like, who am I going to leave out of the team for the first day and who am I going to leave out of the team for the foursomes.
But as you say, they are playing all great and they all get on great together and basically they could play with anybody. Who I put together depends on who I think is going to give us the best chance to win.
Q. What are the worst weather conditions you've ever played Ryder Cup in and what are your memories of that?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: The worst? I can't remember. Where would that be? Valderrama probably was one of the worst. I didn't get to play very often, anyway (laughter). Well, I suppose this is the worst conditions we've played in so far. I'm not a player but Valderrama is one of the worst.
But, you know, it's the same for everybody. There are 24 great players and you have to go out and play with the elements.
Q. Will you play everybody before singles?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I will try and play everybody. If someone is not feeling too well and feels like he doesn't want to play, I won't play him. I'm only here to do one thing, and that's to win. And they are all out there and all 12 players want to win. And if someone has to stand down, I want him to say that.
Q. If you could pinpoint one attribute of yourself that will make you excel this week as a captain, what would it be?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: My will to win. My excitement, my I always seem to have to have battled all of my golfing career to prove something to someone, and hopefully that will come out through the way I'll captain my team this week.
Q. In these conditions, is there any advantage or disadvantage to pairing, say, a very long hitter off the tee like Stenson with an expert wedge player like Olazábal?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Yeah, exactly. I think someone maybe who can be a shorter hitter will be playing with a longer hitter. The benefit of that is because, you know, someone is a bit shorter, you've got a longer hitter who can hit the ball a long way into the greens. And if a longer hitter hits it in the rough and he's way up closer to the green, the shorter player has got a good chance of getting on the green.
Q. The configuration of the course works very nicely if you want to combine a long hitter and short, the par 5s are all even; how does that go into your tactical analysis?
CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Not at the moment. That's very good, I haven't thought of that (laughter).
No, that's a good point. I think that's something we'll discuss; we're going to have a team meeting tonight and we're going to have a look at that. That's a good point, who is going to be comfortable hitting more often off the par 3s than the others.
GORDON SIMPSON: Ian, thank you very much.
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.