Lehman, U.S. team ready for 2006 Ryder Cup
U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Tom Lehman held a press conference Tuesday and talked about next week's Ryder Cup, as well as the recent trip the U.S. team made to the K Club -- a practice and bonding trip he hopes will serve the Americans well.
September 12, 2006
JULIUS MASON: I'm Julius Mason senior director of communications for the PGA of America. Thank you very much for joining us, ten days before the Ryder Cup is to take place over in Ireland. The United States Ryder Cup Team is taking off to Ireland in five days out of Washington D.C. Not many more days for our Ryder Cup Captain to prepare, although he was doing just that in Carolina yesterday, and with that note, I'd like to ask Tom to say a few words, maybe talk a little about your trip yesterday and maybe a coach you had a chance to spend some time with.
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: First of all, thanks for the invite to be here and thank you being here. I know that we're all really excited about what's going to be happening ten days from now. You know, it seems that the two years I've been captain have gone by in a flash and I just can't wait to get this thing started. Our team is more than prepared, more than ready and really looking forward to playing.
I think it's great being in this Irish pub, even though they have got the European Ryder Cup logo on their bar up there, we'll have to give them a new one before we leave, but it's great being here.
As Julius mentioned, yesterday was a good day for me. I had to be in Pinehurst for a corporate event that I was obligated to do with one of my sponsors, and then I kind of piggybacked it on arranging which I've been trying to do for some time now to spend some time with Mike Krzyzewski at Duke University, and I was able to spend an hour and a half with him yesterday at his office at Duke which was a great experience for me. The time was very well spent, and I think especially doing into before the Ryder Cup, it was good to hear his point of view on all kind of different things, so it was a good day for me.
JULIUS MASON: Folks, the floor is open to you now.
Q. What did he tell you, what inspiration and advice did he give you?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: You know, I had never met him before. I would say that the guy is certainly a genius in what he does best, and to me what he does best is he listens extremely well. He understands where you're coming from. He had just a million ideas about things that we could do as a team to achieve our dream which is to win. A lot of it has to do with creating the environment and the atmosphere to allow the players to play their best, and so we talked a lot about that. It was almost the entire conversation.
Q. Obviously Coach K is coming off a pretty dramatic loss with the U.S. basketball team, did he tell you all about that and what he may have learned from that?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, he talked some about that. He talked about the style of play, the European style being so much more physical for one. He talked a little bit about how it's a unique situation because the stars are all of the young guys and the veteran guys are the supporting cast and how difficult it is to stratify an arena the NBA for the older veteran guys to actually mentor the star younger guys. The status of the stars makes it, you know, kind of difficult for the older guys to reach up to, and that's probably something that you would like to see change over the next couple years with this team.So that kind of led into the conversation about the Ryder Cup and the form of our team and the makeup of our team and all that kind of stuff. So it was a good conversation.
Q. What are some of the things specifically, the environment, the atmosphere that you could share with us that he thought might help?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: You know, he gave me a lot of really good ideas. I told him some of the ideas that I had for our team because leading up to the Ryder Cup. We spend a lot of time together obviously, but the week of the Ryder Cup you can get a lot of things solidified early in the week, and he helped me almost to effect some of the ideas that I had and he gave me some new ones.
More than anything, I think what he said was you don't want to come away with without having shot all your bullets. You don't want to hold anything back. I think if there's one common theme, that would be it.
Q. You mentioned this two year period is sort of reaching it's climax, I'm just wondering from your perspective what has been the most overrated aspect of your job and how different from what you expected to be and what was the most underrated part of the job?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Underrated?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: You know, I think the most underrated part at least for me was how difficult it was making two picks. That to me, that was very difficult, and not that I didn't know who I wanted to pick but was more wanting to make sure because I knew the guys who I didn't pick had poured their heart and soul into it. Having disappointed guys who wanted to badly so be part of the team, some tough phone calls to make. That to me was way more difficult than I expected because everything else about it I think is underrated. I think it's been way better than I expected, the ability to interact with players and get to know guys better and understand them better. Some of the conversations I've with had all of our guys have really been enlightening from Tiger all the way down, so it's been really good that way.
Q. What are your conversations with Tiger like in terms of the team dynamic, because Tiger is such an individual person, what is he thinking about in terms the team dynamic?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: You know, I'm simply going to say that more than anybody I know, Tiger wants to win no matter what. You think what you're seeing this year I'm not sure is that much different from the past, but he definitely is engaged in the process, definitely. You know, I have his private cell phone number and he says "call me any time "and I do. So he's been very helpful. He has offered to give his opinions. Obviously he's taken a great leadership role especially with some of our younger guys. I think that the trip with the players we made, the 12 of us with our caddies over to Ireland is a perfect example of everyone's commitment to winning.
Q. Can you share some examples, like on the charter flight, while you were playing golf, fishing, just some examples of bonding, anything that stood out to you that showed this is a different type of team?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: You know, we went sneaking into Tiger's room about three in the morning and we were going to write some nasty note on his back. But he had a shirt on. I'm like, "What's this all about, you're wearing a shirt while you're sleeping? I can't believe it."
So we had to pass on him, then we sneak into Mickelson's room, and he was still awake. (Laughter). He's like, "Okay, it's the thought that matters, so whether it takes me a year or five years, I'm going to get you back." So he'll probably try.
When you're playing poker and you're losing your butt, I mean, it doesn't matter who you are, people make fun. If you're fly fishing and you tangle your line up with a tree in back of you, you're going to be made fun of no matter who you are. That's the beauty of it when you go and everybody becomes kind of the same, the same thing.
Coach K did mention one thing that he expressed, coaching the Dream Team back in '92, he was talking to Michael Jordan, and Michael Jordan said everybody has a totem pole, and stars at the top and the bottom guys at the bottom and everybody is kind of seen on this totem pole, top to bottom. He said Michael Jordan told him the way the team works is the totem pole is that way, it's sideways, everybody is the same on the team, and that's kind of how I saw our trip to Ireland was, kind of turned this totem pole from this to this. I think for that reason it was really a good trip.
Q. You have two of the hottest players in the world, Tiger and Jim Furyk, and they are both playing in the HSBC Match Play. Just wondering, how you see that thing working, are you thinking about pairing them together again as they were in the Presidents Cup? I know Tiger on his Web site yesterday said he would like to play with him again. Have you thought about pairings?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, I've thought a lot about the pairings. Obviously Tiger and Furyk is a great starting point. They proved quite successfully in the Presidents Cup that they enjoyed being together and they play well together and they can win together.
So I am very seriously considering playing those two guys together. I know they want to. That's a big part of it; that player feels comfortable with another player and they bring out the best each other, and it's tough to break them up.
Q. You mentioned at the PGA one of the things that's missing in your mind is the fun, just curious what the players on teams that have not been successful, have they given you any advice or thoughts on why the team has struggled so much other than the Europeans just playing so well?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Everybody has an opinion, and they all kind of come back to the idea of the competition not being as enjoyable as it could be. You know, for some of them, they might feel like there's no time, no down time. Or for some of them it may be, you know, whatever it might be, but the idea is that actually inside the ropes, hitting the shots, competing is less than the enjoyable experience that it should be as a real competitor.
I tried to organize our day each day to kind of really attack those exact things. Part of again, the purpose of this trip to Ireland was to it's way more enjoyable if the guys feel like they are all on the same page together and everybody's ego is kind of checked in and it becomes kind of a collective team ego, and that's kind of what makes it really fun. Then you can kind of draw off each other and it's kind of like every shot you hit is our shot. It's not your shot. It's not your putt. It's our putt, it's our shot. That's the way it should be.
Q. In relation to that, I'm sure you probably have, analyzed the things that went so right in '99, that magical singles day, and what made it what you just talked about, because that was clearly a day of "our shot" and guys coming out of their shell so to speak, guys like Duval that never show any emotion. Have you analyzed what went right that day, and is that something that you would try to bottle if you can?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: I think the biggest thing I can think of was the incredibly positive expectation we had going into it. You know, we were well behind, but on Saturday night, I think there was a real sense of something great was going to happen. I think it was a real positive anticipation about playing singles. I think going a step further, thinking, I don't know if these guys can beat us.
I think it all goes back to a mind set of we have nothing to lose. We have a great team, you look around the room and you had Payne and O'Meara and Tiger and Phil and Justin and Hal Sutton, the list goes on, Furyk. We just had a really, really strong team. And everybody had a lot of confidence in the other guy, and there was a sense of anticipation.
Q. How did the players respond to the course in practice, sort of a parklands course, as opposed to a links course, do you find they prefer that?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: I'm not really sure there's a preference. I think the course is the course and you figure out a way to play it. There's definitely some you know, there's some things about the course that lends itself to strategy with alternate shot and there's things about the course that lends to the strategy of best ball. For example there's three par fives on the back nine, so if your matches are tight on the back nine and you have guys who play the par 5s well, you need some power on the back nine. You need some guys with firepower that can take advantage of the holes that they can reach.
So you don't want to be in a situation where you're playing uphill against a team that has all of the power and your just two guys pop it down the middle.
Q. How did they do in practice?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: They did really well. I was really encouraged by should have the pairings that kind of seem to be working. Seeing the synergy between the guys, I'm thinking, wow, this is good.
Q. In possibly playing Tiger and Furyk, is there a bit of a risk putting two heavyweights together in the sense that they will get more motivated to beat that team and they will have momentum if they do, a bit like two years ago with Tiger and Mickelson?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: There is, and that's one thing I actually talked to Tiger about. If we put he and Jim together, that's two of your best players on one team and if you guys play great, you get four points, and that's wonderful. If you get separated and you play great, you might get six, you might get seven, you might get five, but either anyway, it's more than four.
You know, what, at the end of the day, if the team, works, it works. And that team works.
Q. Is that because of the friendship?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: I think it's because of the fact that they are both very similar in their style of competing. They are very similar a lot of ways in their personality; they are both very private. They go about their work very professionally and almost with a cold kind of ruthlessness, if you want to call it that.
They have different kind of games but they are both great putters and they are both great competitors. I think the difference in their games is really kind of the alternate shot really make them quite formidable.
Q. Talking about the totem pole going sideways so to speak, which I understand what you're trying to say, but haven't we're talking about Tiger, isn't finding Tiger the right parter, trying to find out what's gone wrong with him in Ryder Cup that he has not been the dominant player that he's been able to be on the Tour, when you pull out your yellow pad and figure out your priority, isn't that pretty much close to priority No. 1?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Absolutely. Your stars have be to your stars. Your best players, I mean, your best players have to play their best. You have to give them the opportunity to play their best.
Q. When you talk to Tiger, does he have an explanation as to why in Ryder Cup he has not been the dominant player that he's been in stroke play, let's say?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: No, he hasn't really said anything about that. But I think I did ask him, for example, why did you and Chris Riley hit it off so well, what made you guys so good together, because you actually looked like you enjoyed playing with him, laughing, smiling, gave him a hug and high five. And he actually related to me a really funny story about the fact that they played together in an alternate shot thing when they were junior golfers and so the history goes way back. I won't bore you with the story, even though it's pretty funny.
Q. (Media in unison): Bore us! (laughter)
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: It's actually a good story. They were playing alternate shot and they were probably 15 or 16 years old. And they got to a par 3 and Tiger's words were that at the time, Chris kind of had the yips with the short putts. As great a putter as he is now, Riley had the yips as a kid. They got to a par 3, tight match and Tiger hit it to about three feet. Chris said, "Tiger, you've got to putt this."
And he said, "Well, I can't putt this."
He goes, "No, no, no, I'm not putting it. You've got to putt it."
He goes, "No, I can't putt this. We're playing alternate shot."
"Tiger, I am not putting. I'm not even going to go to the green. You're putting. That's all there is to it. I'm not putting."
"Chris, listen, this is the way it works. I hit it, you hit it. I hit it, you hit it. I hit it, you hit it. I hit a tee shot, you have to putt. End of story. You have to putt."
He goes, "But I can't do it."
He goes, "I tell what you I'll do. I'll walk you through it." So he got off the couch and he knelt down like he's standing behind somebody putting like: "Just pull it back, take it through. Just back and relax, nice and easy back. Just nudge it to the hole, just roll it to the hole, roll it. Get it going, roll it forward." And he took it back and he rolled it into the hole.
And he (Chris) goes, "Okay, I'm fine, let's go."
So that was the story. But that kind of history is really important when you have a partner who you know, and they had a lot of common things going on and they enjoyed each other, they enjoyed their history together and they enjoyed that match together. So that was really a great pairing for that reason.
Q. Having said that, just what does it say about just the whole magnitude of this event, really, the impact that that had on Riley, just the aftermath of all that? You can make the argument, he's never been the same after that, after that Ryder Cup. What does it say about the Ryder Cup that it can do that to you?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Well, I think it's there's probably a whole bunch of things you could say. But, you're right, there is an enormous amount of focus and pressure being put on individuals, and if they make a mis step, it can be pretty harmful to your career.
But on the flipside, if you do something great, it can really make your career. The two sides of the coin, one is positive, one is negative. And that's what I've been hearing from all the guys I've talked to, all of the good people in coaching involved in sports: You need to take that positive thing and let it run, let that horse run. Think about all of the good things that can happen.
Q. Speaking about some of the best players on the U.S. Team, how is Phil's game being looking? Where is his head at?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: He's ready to play. I just talked to him probably four days ago and he's ready to play. He's motivated, excited, can't wait.
Q. Thoughts of pairing Phil and Chris?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: That's a good pairing. He played well with David Toms in the past. Phil likes to play with guys who he enjoys being around obviously, but more than that, it's whose game he's going to trust. If he's playing with a player who is real consistent and steady and keeps the ball in play, makes a lot of pars, makes some birdies, it allows him to be free to be who he is, which he's a guy that can make a lot happen in a hurry.
Q. How about the Ryder Cup rookies, did Coach K give you any advice on what to tell them under the intense pressure, and did he give you any advice as far as coaching them?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Absolutely.
Q. What did he say?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: I'm not telling you. (Laughter).
Q. How come?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: You know what, there's some things that I think are meant for me and our team. There's some things that I wouldn't want the other team to hear me say. Because he gave me some, what I consider to be, invaluable advice, and only he would know, because he's been through it 27 years in a row at Duke. But there's ways to make those younger guys comfortable and play their best, and it's a matter of following through with that.
Q. Did you approach talking to him as, "I'm going to have a chance to pick his brain," or was it a lot more casual than that. It seems like you were using him as a sounding board more so than just chitchat?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Well, I had a bunch of questions. I had a whole list of questions and I never even opened up the being boo. We just started talking. I'm sure I covered almost all of the points I wanted to talk to him about in one shape or another.
He talked a lot. He talked about a lot of different things, and we got into, you know, a lot of different ideas about competing and we talked about the focus with his team and the things he's done with his team. He even gave me, he said he keeps almost nothing on his desk that's motivational but he had one thing and he gave it to me to keep.
Q. What was it?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: It was a little thing that had a little saying on it, and it's one of those things that I'm going to share with my team and keep private. He took it off his desk and said: "Here, take it, it's my good luck wish for you." And when I left, he gave me a hug. I was like, wow, that wasn't a handshake; it was a hug.
So it was a very enjoyable, enjoyable conversation. I feel like we connected. I think the way he coaches is very intuitive, motivational, makes you a better person, better basketball player, better student, better everything, way going about it.
Q. Does he play golf?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: No.
Q. You spoke about your time over there and the window of time being very small, Julius might take exception with this, Jackie Burke in his book makes comments about how Ryder Cup has become such a spectacle and it's so hard to focus on golf for some of these guys. I'm wondering what you've done to address that, what you can do to address that to contend with that and allow for some of the dinners and functions and all that stuff, to minimize that?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Well, you know, I believe in first thing's first. The reason we're over there is to play golf. So as an example, there's a day when you need to take team photos. Historically it's always been done on Tuesday mornings at, say, nine o'clock, ten o'clock or something. To me, that's like insane. That's right in the middle of your prime practice time.
So, you know, you carry through the idea of first thing's first, you practice first and then take pictures afterwards. That was obviously against the grain of the photographers, because they have got to wait around and against the grain of the people who care about the way you look because they want all of the clothes to be nice and neat and everything. But to me it was against the grain of a competitor taking pictures right in the middle of the morning.
So I scheduled our practice day to be on the range at 7:00, to be on the first tee at 7:30, take the pictures at 1:00, 1:30. That's my idea of team. I was part of teams growing up and, you know, you don't always everything you do with the team, before practice and after practice, guys always stand around or stay around and shoot extra free throws or a goalie takes extra shots. There's always practice outside of practice that guys want to get with the coaches or with other players.
And that's the way I'm going to do it. We're going to practice as a team from 7:00 to 1:00 and if you want extra practice afterwards, you're free, but from 1:00 basically to 5:00 every day, you've got down time. You can go back, take a nap, work out, go fishing, do whatever you want. But I want to create a time when they have down time so they don't feel like they are rushing to this and to that.
Q. Tiger said today that the U.S. Team is the underdog. Do you agree with that assessment, even though they have not been in a while, and especially in Europe and is that extra motivation?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: We're definitely the underdogs without question. I think that that's one thing that Coach K and I talked with was the U.S. Teams go overseas to play, in his words, he feels like, yeah, they are, they have a freebie. The U.S. is always expected to win, so if they lose, well they are expected to win, if they win, it's a huge upset and they can celebrate. But basically there's no expectation on them, they have a freebie so they can take their best shot.
This time around, the European Team is the favorite. I'm not saying we're getting a freebie because we are not, but they are the favorites.
Q. Do they agree on that?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Doesn't matter. The bookies say they are, whatever, or so I'm told. (Laughter.)
Q. How did you come across your list, compile your list of this star chamber of guys you went to?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: It's a pretty short list. You know, I guess first and foremost I'm a huge basketball fan. If I could do anything outside of golf, it would be college basketball. That would be my dream. So I when think of guys I really wanted to talk to the most, two guys were on top of the list, one was John Wooden and the other is Mike Krzyzewski. To me, very fulfilling to be able to do that.
Q. In your visit to Ireland since your captaincy, I'm not sure how many times you've been, but do you get the sense along with the emotion that's going to be carrying Darren at The K Club, do you get a sense that it being in Ireland is going to be a little different this time?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: My sense is it's going to carry the perfect competitive attitude, which is going to be really intense and really play really hard, play to win. But the crowd and the circumstances with the loss they have suffered this year, but not just Darren but Tiger and Chris DiMarco, it does shed should perspective, and then the fifth anniversary of 9/11 yesterday was very difficult.
It's still a game. We're not talking about world peace, not talking about a heavy nuclear issue of the day. It's golf. We're going to play to win, but it will be a golf match.
Q. How many are playing in Pittsburgh?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Five or six.
Q. Why are you flying out of Washington?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: We were hoping to meet to the president but he has other things on his agenda.
Q. As far as the course setup, I'm told that there have been trees planted on a number of the doglegs, perhaps with the intention to keep players from trying to cut the corners. How do you see the course setup or the way the course shapes up affecting your team versus their team?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: They have as many long hitters as we do, maybe more. I feel like our team is really well balanced with the number of guys who can really bomb it versus the number of guys who are more the keep it in play and keep it, knock it on the green. We have guys like Verplank and Furyk and DiMarco and Zach Johnson, Vaughn Taylor. They all play that way. They are definitely long enough but they are not bombers. Keep it play, they can make a lot of birdies. Vaughn, for example is the top ten on the Tour in making birdies and he's also in the top ten in fairways in regulation and top ten in putting. And then we have the other side of the coin with Tiger and Phil and J.J. Henry and Brett Wetterich and Stewart Cink. They can really hit it out there. It's a good mix. It provides a lot of options.
Q. What can you relay about being a rookie and how nervous you were on the first team and whatnot?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: You know, adrenaline is an amazing thing. I hit my 3 wood at 8:00 in the morning with a balata golf ball and wind in our face about 290 to the first hole. Corey Pavin, my partner, hit a little chip 8 iron for his second shot and that hole is 460 yards long. Certainly says a lot about the adrenaline and excitement of the first hole of Ryder Cup. I was very nervous.
Q. I don't know what your thoughts are going to be or whether you thought about the Ryder Cup when you were a kid, but how has it gotten to the point where it has; that it's so big and that it's so intense?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Well, I don't know, maybe just simply by adding the Europeans to the team, it's way more competitive. I don't know, maybe it just is. I think the Ryder Cup is like a golf match played in the Rose Bowl, that's the best way I can describe it, just the crowd is way different. It's way more of just a sport; if you're a sportsman, you can't help but appreciate the Ryder Cup, the drama and the people are so enthusiastic about so much emotion.
Q. What did it mean to you for Tiger to take out the four rookies in Akron? After Deutsche Bank, he talked about when he was first on the Ryder Cup people team, people expected him to be a world dominator because he won The Masters by 12, and now he is one of the veterans in the Ryder Cup; he says now he felt more comfortable with younger guys to be able to take them under his wing.
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, it's just amazing the attitude. It's one that you have to have. I think the best teams are always the teams where the best players has the best attitude. I'm a firm believer in that. And when your best player is taking that kind of an interest in a leadership role, it makes the whole team better.
This is all about Tiger. He knows how much I want to win. He knows what I think about the team, and this is this is not Tiger sending messages. This is Tiger saying, you know what, I'm going to do what I can do, that's all I can do to help us win.
Q. Why would someone want to be a Ryder Cup captain?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: So you can get abused for six months by the media.
Q. You will. So then, why? Why do you want to do it?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: You know what for the love of the game, absolutely. Because you love the Ryder Cup. Because you want to it's not like there's no competition amongst captains. Nobody wants to be outdone by another guy or another captain. But more than that, you want to see your team win, and I feel like I've got something to add to this team. I feel like I have something that I can do to help this team not only win in Ireland but maybe help some of the guys become better players.
It goes beyond I think just one golf match. Having a chance to have a role in somebody's life for two years that you haven't had before or having a chance to have an impact is a significant thing. I really appreciate that.
Q. You interviewed for the University of Minnesota golf job?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Yeah.
Q. So you contemplated this life at one point, how has your perspective changed since then in terms of being a coach?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: You know, I would have loved to have been a coach. If you redo the story and said, you can't play golf and what would you do, I'd be a coach, no doubt about it.
I guess in both situations, I've been able to talk to Coach Wooden and Coach K, I've left both times kind of shaking my heads marveling at the kind of people they are. But also on the other hand saying, you know what, I think instincts are pretty good. Coach K even told me, he's got really good instincts, just follow your gut, trust your gut. You're on the right track.
Q. At what point in your career did you say to yourself, yeah, this is something I want to do?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Golf?
Q. The Ryder Cup Captaincy. At what point does the light bulb go on and you say, you know, I'd really like to do this. And when you can look at this stuff and say I'm going to get abused for six months if we lose and still say, this is something I want it do, at what point in your career does that happen?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Well, you have to have won a major to be considered. So, you know, I guess as my career progressed after '96, it's one of those things where you start thinking, you know, maybe there's a chance if I can win another major or two, or in this case make a few more Ryder Cup teams or whatever it might be, maybe I'll have a chance at one day being a captain. I'm very grateful that they chose me to be the captain this time with other guys who maybe had won more tournaments. I think it was the right time for me. I just feel very confident that I was a good pick and it was the perfect time for me to be the captain.
Q. Do guys really think about that win a major or rather than I've got an exemption for so many years?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Guys think about it down the road, if they are realistic about themselves, they realize there's a chance they can be a captain. And it may not be the first thing on their mind but when they think about everything as the big picture, that's a part of it.
Q. Just getting back to, obviously, winning captains sometimes enhance their reputation for the rest of their careers and losing captains sometimes it tarnishes their careers in some people's eyes. For example, do you think that Hal Sutton's career is a little bit tarnished because of a loss, or as a fellow player, maybe you don't see it that way?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: No, I don't see it that way at all. I'll tell you why. I'll speak only for myself, but I know that I've done basically all I can do to win. I went to the Presidents Cup to watch the guys play. I visited people, talked to people. I encouraged guys to do things together and I've hosted barbeques and organized a trip to Ireland. I feel like there isn't a lot more I could have done to this point to get our guys ready to play.
On top of that, I feel very confident that once we get there next week, that it's going to be a great week with the things we've started preparing and carrying them through. I feel really good about the way we have prepared for this. I know the guys have poured their heart and soul and they are going to play hard and that's all you can ask. I told them, you know, the only thing I expect from you guys is to come prepared and to give it your very best. And I quite frankly, I don't care one word that you guys write if we lose, if that happens.
Q. Have you spoken to Hal at all in the last couple years?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Oh, yeah, I have.
Q. Can you share anything?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: You know, I think he felt bad. He tried so hard and he was so passionate about it. I think the captains take a lot of grief when you lose. That's why I say that, you know, if we were to lose, I wouldn't really be bothered by what you would write, because I know in my heart that I have done all that I can do.
Q. When did you meet with Coach Wooden, and what's the one impression you came away from that conversation with, and also, was there anybody else besides Wooden and Coach K on that list of people?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: There's other captains that I wanted to speak to.
Q. But outside golf, those are the only two?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: I had a bigger list, I've got to be honest with you, but I kind of felt like maybe there was not a lot of need.
Q. Golf writers?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: I've talked to a couple. (Laughter.)
Q. When was it you met with Coach Wooden?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Back in February.
Q. Where was that at?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: That was at his house.
Q. What was the one thing you came away from with your conversation with him?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: What a good person he is. That was my overriding thought of what a good person, what a good man he is. It's easy to see why his former teammates are so loyal to him.
Q. Somewhat concerned about all of these rookies; are there advantages to having all of these rookies?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, they bring a lot of passion, a lot of new enthusiasm, new excitement. They have a different perspective, because we were all rookies at one time, and I can remember being a rookie and just how thrilled I was. That kind of enthusiasm be could be contagious.
Q. That unknown factor, Colin talked about that at the British, about that almost being an advantage because they don't know your guys' games.
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: I remember one time playing in the Presidents Cup and we played Brad Hughes who was might have been a fill in for somebody else, and I forget who the other guys was. So we had this guy everybody knew and Brad Hughes shot about 10 under with his own ball, 14 holes, and just clobbered us; by himself, he beat us.
So you don't need to be a star to beat be someone. And them not knowing our guys, it could be an advantage. Somebody could go out and play with Brett Wetterich and go, holy smokes, this guy can drive his ball, hits it forever, hits it straight. He's a good player. J.J. Henry, the guy is an athlete, he was captain of his baseball and basketball team in high school. The guy knows how to compete and knows how to be on a team and he's a Walker Cup player. So he's a bit unknown, but the guy knows how to play golf.
Q. Is if Tiger and Furyk are together, do you expect Clarke and Westwood to be paired with them?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: To be paired together? I think there's a good chance they will play because part of the reason why they were selected, the two of them. I could see Westwood also playing with Sergio and I could see Clarke playing with who knows, he could play with anybody. But I think those two guys will definitely play some golf together.
Q. Do you feel personally, as opposed to the team, do you feel pressure on you personally to deliver?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: You're probably not going to believe me, but I don't really feel much pressure at all. I don't. I feel very confident in our team. I feel very confident in what we're doing and I feel very confident in how repaired our guys are. They are all playing well. I feel like we have a lot of momentum that we've built over the last year and a half, and we're ready to play. So I don't feel nervous at all.
Q. Did you feel pressure as a player?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Oh, yeah.
Q. So you took on more pressures a player than you do as a captain?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Maybe a little different perspective because more than anything, I am looking forward to competing. And I look forward to competing as a player as well. I couldn't wait for the tournament to start. So the pressure I felt was not so much anxiety about playing as much as just anticipation of playing.
Q. As a guy who is playing a pretty good level, and has played on last number of Cup teams, will there be any part of you that finds it difficult not to play; if you can't have an actual on course shot by shot impact on what goes on, will that hit you at all?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: I don't think so. Well, maybe it will. It's very possible I suppose. But I've accepted this role and I've been committed to it for a while now. I'm looking forward to going over there as the captain, not as a player.
Q. What other stuff have you done, the barbeques, do you look at this as this in some you way of doing business for the American team? Is this something that you decided to has this ever been done like this before to this extent do you think for these guys?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: I don't know. We were talking on the way over here, one of the European guys said something about, well, if they hadn't won the last three or four in a row they would probably not be doing this. Probably wouldn't be making that trip to Ireland if we had won the last three are to four in a row. Probably some truth to that. But it doesn't minimize the fact that we did do. It doesn't minimize the fact that we want to win. It's pretty simple.
Q. In the past, has the U.S. Team gone to this extent to do it, or is this something you wanted to do personally or is this something that you thought it needed?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Yeah, I thought it needed it. Going a ways back, one of the messages I wanted the guys to hear, actually there's like maybe two or three. First one was that this is an incredible opportunity. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity. We get to play in a sporting event that's being billed as the biggest sporting event in the history of Ireland, so we get to go play in it. So it's an incredible opportunity to go do something fantastic. So I want everybody to see that as something we wasn't wait to go and play in. It's a chance of a lifetime.
I think this I wanted to get across come back to that.
Q. But there's no pressure? You're not feeling any pressure?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Not really, no.
Q. What was the messages you were going to write on Tiger's back, by the way?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: I can't share that. (Laughter).
Q. Was it spray paint, shaving cream?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: It was a Sharpie. It wasn't going to come off for a while.
Q. It was your idea, I would imagine?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: We went out to a pub and crawled in about two o'clock in the morning.
JULIUS MASON: Why don't you tell them how you paid for your drinks?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: We went to a little pub and we got in there and started ordering Guinness, and Guinness was flowing very freely. And somebody reached in their pocket to give the bartender a credit card for the bill and he says, well, we don't take credit cards.
Okay, no problem, cash. Anybody have any Euros? Not one guy on our team had Euros.
So I ended up buying a bunch of Euros from theres with a like a guy and his two sisters and brother in law at the bar, a young group of four people and I bought some Euros from there and Julius scraped up some Euros from somebody else and we ended up with 300 Euros or whatever. The one thing I learned, though, is that you can drink a heck of a lot over there in Ireland for not very much.
JULIUS MASON: It was two for one night and he forgot to tell you that he was trading autographs all over the bar for free drinks before he realized we could round up some more.
On an ending note here, I want to let everybody know that Tom is a huge fan of this city. He loves coming to New York with his family, and I'd ask him to share a story with you about what he does with his family in the park. And I'd like you to tell everybody what you did late last night, and then I'd like you to tell everybody what you're doing tonight.
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Oh, yeah, well, New York is like an interactive city. That's the way I look at it. The fans here are the best, the best, the best fans anywhere. The reason I say that is we came last year, stayed up near Central Park, family vacation, my wife and four kids. Every morning we go across in the park to the baseball field and we play baseball. My wife and I and one of my daughters on one team whatever and then the other whatever it may be, we play a little family game.
And here is the way New York fans are, okay. They walk by, and they have a comment, "Hey, Missy, get that bat up there, come on, swing it, swing the bat."
"Hey, Sonny, come on throw that ball, throw it in there." But they don't just walk by. Some people actually sat in the bleachers and watched and started cheering and commenting on everything we did. "That was a strike, come on, swing the bat." It's like, nowhere else in the world could you find that. Nowhere. That's what I love about New York is the fans here are just the people here are phenomenal.
Last night I got in late, got in about nine o'clock and we had a little brief meeting about today. To me it was, you know, I just couldn't wait to get Julius and get a cab and we went down to Ground Zero and spent about an hour and a half down there walking around, just kind of taking it in. I had never been there before, so it was a first tie experience for me. Very, very sobering, humbling; you know all the words, you probably know more words than I do.
Reading the stories today, the stories last night, the wall, to me that's the thing that was the most compelling and most tragic was just reading the little notes left on the wall by families, daughters and sons and wives and husbands and everything. That was, I don't know how you classify an experience like that, but you know what I'm talking about.
Then tonight on a little happier note, I get to bring the heat at in the opening pitch for the Yankee game. So they are all giving me a hard time, saying, whatever you do, don't one hop it to the plate. I guess my biggest fear is throwing it to.
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