Ryder Cup LogoRyder Cup: Team USASeptember 22-24 2006, The K Club, Straffan, County Kildare, Ireland
Story Image The two teams are set after Captain Ian Woosnam named his wild cards on Sunday. (Photo: Getty Images)

Transcript of Woosnam's wild card press conference

Here is the transcript of the Sept. 3 news conference in Munich, Germany, in which Captain Ian Woosnam announced his wild card choices and took questions regarding the team and his preparations for The K Club.

03 September 2006

SCOTT CROCKETT: Welcome to always one of the most exciting days on any European Tour International Schedule season, the announcement of the two wild cards which finalises the European Ryder Cup Team.

Before we go to that obviously there are one or two thank-yous which I have to give. First of all, to BMW, of course. They are always generous hosts here in Munich. They provide a wonderful facility both for the players and, of course for all the media here, and we would like to officially thank them for their help once again this year.

Of courses, our congratulations go to Henrik Stenson, who won the BMW International Open in fine style as we saw just over an hour ago. And of course, Henrik will be a welcome and good addition to Ian Woosnam's team at The K Club in three weeks' time.

I'd like to introduce the top table. Furthest with away from me is Richard Hills, European Ryder Cup Director. Next to Richard is George O'Grady, Executive Director of The European Tour. Nearest to myself here is Heinz Fehring, representing the PGA of Europe, and next to Heinz is Sandy Jones, chief executive of the Professional Golfers Association.

Of course the man in the middle almost needs no introduction. He is of course our Ryder Cup Captain, Ian Woosnam. I'll hand it over to Ian who will introduce his wild cards to you, and we'll open up the floor to some questions. Thank you. Ian?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Thank you all for being here tonight and staying on. Let me start, obviously you've been waiting a while for this.

My first pick is Darren Clarke. And my second pick is Lee Westwood.

It's obviously been a very difficult time for me, but I'd like to say something on both players. They are magnificent players. Darren has had his problems in the last couple of years, but he's a magnificent player, he's been a great player in the Ryder Cup. And Lee Westwood, you know, he's won many tournaments around the world. His last record in the Ryder Cup, four and a half points, stands for itself. Lee has also won twice around The K Club, and I think that has persuaded me to go for Lee. There's been some fantastic players this week, plus all over the year, played some fantastic golf, and Lee Westwood is my other pick.

SCOTT CROCKETT: Ian, thank you very much for those opening comments. We will open up the floor to some questions.

Q. A few weeks ago the speculation was that Darren would not want to be considered for this Ryder Cup. When were you aware that he wanted to play, and did you contact him or did he contact you?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I heard that Darren wanted to play through the press, and at the beginning of the week, I had made my mind up that I wanted Darren to play.

So I contacted him on Thursday and gave him the good news and he's absolutely raring to go to play in the Ryder Cup. I think Darren, it's going to be a great emotional time for himself, and with the guys and all of the families and all the players, it will be like one big family for him, and I'm sure Darren is going to cope very fine.

Q. Players face tremendous pressure in Ryder Cup Matches. Given his circumstances, were you surprised he wanted to put him through that and did you talk to him about that scenario?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Yeah, I did a little bit. Darren, he's a great competitor. You know, I think Heather would have loved him to play in the Ryder Cup, and I think that's why he put his name forward. I think, you know, he won't be thinking about anything but the Ryder Cup, only but other than winning.

Q. So many players had a strong case, can you elaborate on the qualities you see in Lee that convinced you that he should be chosen?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I think Lee has played some great golf over the last few months. And again, there's a lot of players have played some great golf, but I think Lee has come into good form. And he's experienced; he's played in it four times. His records stands, I think 20 matches and he's won 11 points. And again, as you say, he's won twice around The K Club and I think that made a difference.

Q. What did he say when given the news, and when did you give him that news?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Well, funny enough, it has been in the last few minutes that I've made a decision. I tried to ring Lee about ten to six. He's obviously flown off and I haven't got in touch with him. So he's going to have to wait until he gets on the phone and I think speak with him and tell him the news.

Q. How difficult was the decision to make, and did you try to pick two from three, and if so, who was the third?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Well, I think you know, I'm not going to say any names who I was going to pick. I think at the beginning of the week, I had a short list of a number of players. And as the week's gone on, it's dwindled down to a few.

As I stand here now, as I said it's only realistically in the last hour or so I made a decision, and it's been a very difficult decision. I feel for the guys who haven't made the team, and I've got to say, how strong the European golf is at the moment that we have so many great players. And in the future, all these guys are going to get into the team sometime.

Q. Disappointing a number of players, can you just clarify for us, have you had a chance to speak to some of those or all of those?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: No, I haven't, because as I say, I've only just made that decision. I know over the next couple of days, I'll contact them all and say, you know, I'm sorry, but I've had to go with my heart, and my feeling on what's got to be best for the team.

Q. Now that you know the make-up of both teams, how do you fancy your chances?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Well, as I say, for the first time, I think we've been put as favourites. But I think you've only got to look back, all of these Matches have gone down to the wire, and I expect it to go down to the wire again. You know we're at home ground and hopefully we can keep the Cup in Europe.

Q. Lee and Darren have played together six times and won four of their matches. How big of a consideration was that in your decision?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Yeah, as I said earlier, they have obviously played well together, but they have also played well with other partners. And I think it's a strength for me and for the team, and you know, that's a pairing I can be looking at.

Q. So what do you think about the performance of your players this week in Munich?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I think the performances of the guys who have been in the Ryder Cup have been absolutely fantastic. And it's good for them and it's good for the team to putt some encouragement. They have all played well. Henrik Stenson, I've got to say, congratulations to him, making an eagle on the first extra hole, that's fantastic. And Padraig Harrington, Howell, all of the other guys up there as well, it's great for the European Team.

Q. Do you consider the selection of Darren Clarke to be a risk at all given the circumstances?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: No, I don't think it's a risk at all. I think Darren will be up for it. I know he's been practising every day, and he will be playing in the Madrid Open. He said that's what he would do if he made the Ryder Cup, and he'll be there playing under competitive golf, and I'm sure he'll be up for it. You know, Darren's always a great practiser, and he always thinks well. Believe me, Darren is up for it.

Q. It seems almost extraordinary that you could have gone right to the very last minute. I mean, can you say if it was between one and two players or if it was between more than two, and again, what was the final clincher for you?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I'm not going to mention any names. I think you most probably know, but I'm not going to say who it is. It went down to two players, and it's probably been the hardest decision I've ever had to make. I'm going to step out of this room and talk to that guy and the rest of the guys and say, you know, I have to go with my gut feeling.

Q. Did you actually go into a room on your own at the end and debate it all with yourself, or were you talking to players and vice captains repeatedly?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I spoke to quite a few people today, past captains, my vice captains. But then again, at the end of the day, it's me who has to make the decision, and I made the decision at the end of the day.

Q. Will you be asking Thomas Bjorn to join you on your back room staff at The K Club? He was a help at Detroit, as well.

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I don't think I want to answer that question. He's obviously one of them players that's going to be very disappointed. It's not up to me. I think it's up to the rest of the team to feel that they want to invite someone to the Ryder Cup. I will consult them first and see what they feel.

Q. When we first heard that Darren might be available, it was going around that you might, in fact, name him and two others in case he then decided he might not be up to it after playing in Madrid. Was that never really a possibility as far as you were concerned?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: It was never a possibility. I spoke to Darren. He's really positive. He's looking forward to playing in Madrid, and then going off to the Ryder Cup and obviously defend the Ryder Cup.

Q. You're in a unique position of captaining a European Team that's a clear favourite. Are you able to give us an idea on how you will feel with hubris and trying to stop the team from becoming complacent?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Yeah, I think that's difficult, the way we've run it in management, it's inspirational when I am there. I will be talking to the players a lot and giving a lot of team meetings. We've got to make sure what we don't do is get complacent, and run off the ideas about every player who has played on that team how they feel and actually, you know, use what we've done over the last 20 years there, and work out why we've played so well and keep doing what we're doing. You know, we've done pretty good over the last 20 years, so just keep doing what we're doing.

Q. I was doing to ask something similar actually, and I think you've almost answered the question. I was going to ask, are you going to be a captain from the buggy, or are you going to be a manager in the locker room?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Well, hopefully I'm going to do a little bit of both. I'll be on the buggy being around as much as I possibly can to speak to my vice captains; that's what they are there for and my assistants get the best advice from them, get the best advice from the players, how they feel. And at the end of the day, I want them to be honest with themselves. I want to have the ability to say they will play with anybody, and at the end of the day, we are a team. We're going to go out there and enjoy it and do what we've done before, and if we keep doing that, we've got a good chance.

Q. Bernhard Langer told us yesterday that you haven't spoken to him, but Tom Lehman has spoken to him six times. You just said a minute ago, working out why we've played so well over the last 20 years and keep doing what we are doing. Are you going to speak to Bernhard Langer and do you think he has something to offer you?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Interesting question. Yeah, well, it seems strange to me that Tom Lehman asked to speak to Bernhard Langer and give him advice. I spoke to two other captains about their experience. I feel like I'm in control of what I'm doing. Okay, that's the difference in the last by a big margin with Bernhard winning, but I've been in the team room many times. I've been a vice captain. I've seen how it's worked before, and I'll carry on the way it's happened before.

Q. So what's your schedule now to the start of the Ryder Cup; what do you do with the team? What do you want to do?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: I think to answer that question is obviously to speak to every single player, make sure everything is all right, the travel arrangements, and then basically let's get there on a Monday and do some practise and get on with the Ryder Cup really.

Q. You're saying you haven't had a chance to speak to Lee before he boarded the plane and he still doesn't know. Can you imagine what he must be going through, even though it's going to be good news when he gets to the other end?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Well, exactly, and as I said, I didn't make the decision until not so long ago. And as far as I know, and I had heard he was going to fly out at six and I made a phone call and obviously they must have taken off early. So I can't really speak to him at the moment.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your strategy, about your master plan to beat the Americans?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Well, if I did that, I would be giving me secret away, wouldn't I? As I said, we're going to try to keep on doing what we've done for the last 20 years, and that is our secret in the players' room. You know, you've seen it, you wrote about it, and that's what we're going to do for the next Ryder Cup.

Q. It seems that Jose Maria Olazabal was not pleased with some comments made by Colin Montgomerie earlier into week about his absence; do you envisage any possible disharmony in the locker room?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: You know, there's always things that happen in the paper and some people getting upset about it. But, you know, we're all there, we're all top-class players and I think that will be just put underneath the mat and nothing will be said about that.

Q. What's your movement the next two weeks personally, and are you tempted to go to Madrid to see Darren?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: No, I haven't really thought about that at the moment. Personally I've got other things to do at the moment involved with the Ryder Cup. To go to Madrid, I'm not playing in Madrid.

But obviously, you know, I've spoken to Darren. I don't think he would want me to be there anyway. I think he's capable of getting on with the golf tournament himself. I'm sure he would be more interested in me getting things right and settled down for all of the players to get to the K Club.

Q. You probably have a pretty good idea of some of the American pairings. How close are you to knowing your own?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Well, I've been writing down a lot of pairings with different people on the team. Now I can sit down tomorrow and the day after and put them all into practise and see where we go from there.

Q. I just wonder, did you speak to Paul McGinley since he missed the cut here, and what sort of words were said?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: No, I didn't speak to Paul. I think Paul will be really happy now that he's on the team and everything is all right.

I think Paul McGinley, we'll see best of him in the next few weeks. He can relax. That's how much it means to Paul and I think he struggled over the last few months because he wants to play so badly in the Ryder Cup, and also to a lot of players, as well. I think now he can relax, and I think we'll see Paul's game coming back together again.

Q. The Americans have done a considerable amount to develop their bonding in recent weeks, we all know what they have done; you have no plans to get your players together I presume before you gather on the Monday of the Ryder Cup?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Not at the moment. But no, as far as these guys are playing in all different places, I think it's difficult to get them all together. It's not like it's in the United States where, you know, you can get them all together and come over to The K Club. Some guys are playing in different countries and it is difficult to get them all together.

But it would be nice if, you know, as I said, just to speak to them all on the telephone and get their views and everything.

Q. Do you think that the rain and strong winds in Ireland will help the European Team?

CAPTAIN IAN WOOSNAM: Well, if you look at the forecast, we've taken a long look at forecast over the last ten years. The weather is actually pretty good in September in Ireland, and I think they were over there last Monday and Tuesday, the weather was shocking. Over the last ten years, the weather has been pretty good and fairly warm, so it should be reasonable.

You know, obviously if it's wet and windy, it does suit us better, but we don't know what's going to happen in Ireland. We'll have to wait and see.

SCOTT CROCKETT: Ian, gentlemen, thank you very much. Ian, I think everyone in this room wishes you all the very best at The K Club, you and your team. Thank you very much. (Applause)

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