An Interview With: THE U.S. RYDER CUP TEAM
September 24, 2006
SCOTT CROCKETT: Tom and your team, many thanks for coming down and joining us this afternoon. Commiserations on the result, I know it's not the one you wanted, but congratulations on your team's performance this week and what you thought at the closing ceremony, it was was a truly great event, so congratulations to your team for that.
Your thoughts on the week and how it's gone, please.
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: What is there I can mix with this water right now, because I probably need something.
But thoughts on the week, you know, I guess more than anything I feel like our team gave it all that we had. It was the one thing we wanted from the very start was we didn't want to leave anything behind. We wanted to give it our very best effort, play with heart, have courage, and I feel like we did that.
So many matches went down to the wire and it was tight for the most part, but I guess The European Team just played better. At the end of the day, they played better. They played great golf, they made a lot of putts, and I think to a person on this team we just tip our hats to the way they played. They played a phenomenal golf tournament.
SCOTT CROCKETT: You mentioned the atmosphere the matches were played in. Could we touch on that before we take some questions?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: I don't think I can recall one episode on the golf course between players or fans or anybody that was anything less than perfectly sportmanlike. The players played tough, they played hard, they showed respect to each other, the fans were emotional and passionate and excited, but they showed respect to the players. I thought everything about it was just right.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Tom, thank you for that.
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: No questions? Thank you very much. (Laughter).
Q. Simple question. How will this defeat play out in America?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: I guess we'll find out. I'm not really sure. You know, we just simply had two rules on our team this week. Number one was to be honest and be truthful in what we had to say to each other and the team; the other one was play with your heart. And we did that. We did both those things.
So I'm not sure how it will play out, and quite frankly I'm not really too concerned how it will play out, because I'm very proud of the effort that our team gave.
Q. Could you kind of talk about the depth of The European Team?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: They were a very strong team, and from top to bottom they played extremely well. They played very inspired golf. But they simply, around the greens, were magical. I've always felt in the past that they putt well and they chip well every Ryder Cup. But this was something truly exceptional. I was just amazed at the short game.
Q. Tiger, it's been well documented how much you hate to lose. How much did this bother you, not only this year, but Oakland Hills as well?
TIGER WOODS: Not real happy. I believe, what am I, 1 and 3 or 1 and 4 in Ryder Cups? So, no, it doesn't sit well, nor should it.
We went out there, we played, and they just outplayed us. They made more putts than we did. When it comes right down to it, in all of these Cups that I've been a part of, it's whoever plays 18 the best and whoever makes the most putts for the week. If you look at the way the Matches went for the entire week, the Europeans did better on both of those occasions.
Q. A couple of questions on some of the highlights from today. Scott, if you could talk about your hole in one, and Tiger, if you could talk about your 9 iron. (Laughter.)
SCOTT VERPLANK: What did you do with the 9 iron? (Laughter.) Did you make one?
TIGER WOODS: I was playing. (Laughter.)
SCOTT VERPLANK: Just a lucky shot. I hit a nice looking shot. It never left the flag. But, you know, to go in is pretty lucky.
It was, I was 3 up at the time, trying to get the thing over with, and you know, I knew I hit a good shot. I was hoping it would be close where I could win another hole and it went in.
So, you know, I just turned around then and told Padraig, "Well, it's your shot now." He actually hit a beautiful shot in there to about eight feet. When it didn't go in, I said, "Well, that's one's good," and we went to the next hole. (Laughter.)
SCOTT CROCKETT: Tiger, thoughts on your 9 iron?
TIGER WOODS: Well, that was interesting. Stevie was I hit 9 iron, my second shot into 7 and we went up to the green, my ball spun off to the right side of the green, just off the green. I handed my ball to Stevie to have it cleaned and he was going to rinse the 9 iron in the water, and he did. He went to take a step on the rock to reach in there and rinse it off, and he slipped on the rock, and it was either going to be him or the 9 iron, so he chose the 9 iron. (Laughter.)
Q. Whatever happened to the club?
TIGER WOODS: We got the club back. We got it back on 15. So I figure it must have been a European who was diving for the club. (Laughter.)
Q. Did you ever need it?
TIGER WOODS: I did. I had a perfect number, 127 on 11. I went with just a tiny little 8 iron, worked out okay, made birdie, so it was all right.
Q. Who brought it back?
TIGER WOODS: The diver, and he was wearing a dry suit, which is understandable here. The water's not real warm, not like Florida.
Q. Were you able to use the club after that if you needed it?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, Stevie dried the grip, it was fine.
Q. Two questions. Tiger, at this same press conference two years ago, you got two points and you said you contributed to the European victory. Do you feel that way? And for Tom, you talked about, I know you're not a second guesser, but at some point, someone is going to come to you as the U.S. captain, what would you have done differently, how could you help me; what would be your response?
TIGER WOODS: As far as my part of the question, yeah, they got 18 and a half, and I contributed two. I was part of that.
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: Oh, you want me to answer that question? Repeat it again. You said something about future Ryder Cup Captains coming.
Q. I know you don't second guess, you don't like to second guess, but at some point, our future captain is going to come to you; what advice would you give him?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: You know, I think I need to think about that some. The one thing I would say about our team is that we definitely came here extremely prepared. We came very prepared and very ready to play, very motivated, with a clear goal. Everything you need to do to perform at your maximum level, we were prepared, we were ready to do. I'm not really sure we left too many bases uncovered. So in terms of what I would tell somebody else, I need to think about that. I need to just, you know, sit back, let a few days go by, whatever, just try to figure out what could we have done better.
Q. For Tom and for Tiger, some of us have followed this event for more than 20 years and it's become a great world event after being nothing. After two straight wipe outs like this, are we beginning to be in danger of seeing the event go back in the other direction if America doesn't become more competitive?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: I guess my first response is that sounds a little insulting in some ways. We have extremely talented players on our Tour. I go right down the line here. I'm continually impressed by the caliber of play and the heart and the courage these guys have.
So you know, things all have a bit of cycles, and there will be a time when we'll be sitting here saying to the Europeans, you know, is this in danger of becoming a little bit in trouble, because the American team is on top.
So you know, that will happen. Our guys are great guys and great players.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Tiger, do you want to add to that?
TIGER WOODS: Tom said it all.
Q. Phil, just wondering, obviously your record obviously was not nearly what you had hoped or thought it would be. I'm just wondering how shocked you were at how things unfolded for you and if you felt like you played well and just generalise the week for you.
PHIL MICKELSON: Mark, I don't know what to say. That's a tough, tough question to answer. I don't know what to say. Obviously I expected to play to get more points than a half. But I felt like we were in every match. I felt like we had chances on every match to win, to get momentum, and things just didn't go our way.
And I look back on the matches, and it seemed to all come down to the greens. We would have putts from closer range and we would miss after they had already made, or things like that seemed to happen a lot. It comes back down to the greens.
It's going to make me work harder in putting in the off season because I just didn't putt the way or make anything this week, and that was certainly frustrating.
But, on a high note, I really enjoyed the captaincy that Tom Lehman put forth. He was an incredible captain in that we all had so much fun. He was such a great leader, he gave us direction, he provided us with every opportunity to play well.
We developed friendships this week when we came over earlier, not just this week, but from when we came over a couple weeks ago. And I just think that his leadership was tremendous, and I'm sorry that we didn't play well. Again, it comes down to making putts and hitting golf shots and so forth, and we were outplayed and got beat.
But as far as leadership, I thought he was just tremendous, and we had a great week as far as the American side. We had a lot of fun together, but unfortunately we didn't come home with a victory, and that's what's the frustrating part.
Q. For Jim Furyk, the past couple of times you lost to a great team here, but you have beaten a great team in the Presidents Cup. What's the difference; is it the way you approach the two events? That's a pretty good group of world players that you've beaten, but the Europeans, that's a different story.
JIM FURYK: Difficult question. It's a difficult question. Early in the week, or weeks ago, I was quoted as saying that I felt like we approached the Ryder Cup tight; that we didn't play loose; that our team had a different look on their faces when the gun went off in the first round for the Presidents Cup than it did in the Ryder Cup. You know, I think a lot of us made an effort to make sure that didn't happen this week, and we were led by 12 of us are going to stand up here and tell you that our captain has done a phenomenal job. I wish we would have played better for him. I don't think that was the case this week. Everyone wants answers out there, what happened, why, what's the difference between 18 and a half and nine and a half, and I don't think there's a guy up here that can give you that answer on what's different.
But it's definitely going to have to be a point of reflection in the future, and obviously, next year, we'll send 12 guys to the Presidents Cup, and hopefully they can take care of business there. But come Ryder Cup time, it's on everyone's mine. We're going to have to take care of business in two years and reflect and figure out what the difference is.
Q. Tiger, just the European performance this week was immense as a team, but could you assess in particular the contribution of Darren Clarke both on and off the course for Europe and indeed for the Ryder Cup?
TIGER WOODS: Well just Darren being here was just an inspiration in itself. His play was remarkable, really, considering the loss he's had recently and the things that he is going through, he and his entire family.
For him just to be here is one thing, but on top of that, to go out there and play as well as he did was absolutely remarkable. It was fantastic. Hats off to the quality of player that he is. That's what I kept telling him, that you're a hell of a player, and unfortunately he went out there and did it. (Smiling.)
I just think that in the whole scheme of things, when Darren and I sat down at dinner the other night, the whole scheme of things, it puts things in perspective real quick for you when you lose people who are close to you. It's changed his life, and it's made it tougher, but also in a sense it's drawn him closer to his kids, and I think that's something that's going to be even better for him in the future.
Q. For J.J. Henry and Zach Johnson, J.J., were you surprised when Paul McGinley made the concession on the 18th? And for Zach, could you talk to us about the atmosphere that prevailed on the first tee today when you went out to take on Darren Clarke?
J.J. HENRY: Well, I think it shows really what the spirit of this competition is all about. What a gentleman, obviously, Paul is. We all know how much it means to Paul being here, from Ireland. Of course, we did have some extracurricular activities going on at the same time there.
You know, it was just, we had a great match, we were neck and neck virtually the whole; I was down early and came back and led and we were virtually all square the last four or five holes.
You know, it's just a great match, and you know, well played match. It was obviously, I tip my hat off to him. It was a remarkable thing he did.
ZACH JOHNSON: The first tee, is that what you asked? Okay, sorry.
Yeah, that was pretty very inspiring for him I would imagine. It was a very warm welcome. I expected it to be loud, but it was like 80,000 people stadium amassed around one tee box. I felt like I was the away team, you know, playing for the world championship or something in some sport. It was pretty remarkable. Frankly it was like that on every tee box for him. Well deserved, too.
As Tiger said, it's one thing for him to play, but two, to play how well and how hard he played this week is extremely inspirational.
I think as a player, we all know what he can do, and how good he really is, but he's an even better person, which it was a fun match, regardless. It was a lot of emotion, obviously more for him, and I don't know, I could have had my A+ game and not so sure I could have beat him. The gods were on his side. He's a great guy.
Q. Tiger, you know a thing or two about how to win major golf tournaments. Do you have any theory as to why the form we see these Europeans put in at Ryder Cups doesn't transfer to major championships? Not every player has one, the likes of Harrington, Clarke, McGinley, Montgomerie, Garcia. Any theory on why these guys can't win a major?
TIGER WOODS: You have to ask them that, what's in their heads. I know that I've been fortunate to win a couple here and there. (Laughter.) I know what it takes to win those events. I won one Ryder Cup, so I kind of know what it takes.
When you boil down to it, it becomes 18 holes and it's match play. There's one thing you do realise when you're in a format like that; anything can happen. We see that at La Costa in The Match Play there. Anything can happen in 18 holes. And I think that's what you see, and especially when you have partners that are involved.
The Europeans just seem to feed off of one another. They make more putts than we do. And unfortunately we're just not able to make putts when we had the opportunities to make them, to turn the tide. We've had, from what I've seen just on the highlights alone, how many chances we've had to turn momentum around in the matches. Even the matches that I've been involved in this week, how many times we've been in position to make those momentum turning putts and we just haven't done that, and the Europeans have been doing it all the years that I've been on the teams.
Q. Tom, do you think that the American public's anticipation of the next Ryder Cup at Valhalla will now be increased or diminished?
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: You know, I'm not really sure I have a sense for that. Maybe you as writers maybe even know better than we would as players. I really don't know. I know from a player perspective, I'm sure we'll just keep on going up. There's only so much you can take.
But in terms of the public, I don't know.
Q. Stewart, could you talk about going out and getting Sergio this morning? And Tom, if you could talk about were those the kind of red numbers you were looking for from everybody?
STEWART CINK: Well, it was really a dream match up today for me, because I felt like I had something to prove after going 0 2 my first Ryder Cup singles matches. I really wanted to go out there and stay focused and give it 100%.
I knew it was going to be tough against Sergio, because he's one of the top two or three guys on their team, and obviously with his record this week, he showed that it's not just a fluke; he's played great. And the crowd support was there for him, along with Darren, probably the two most cheered players on their team.
It just felt great to go out and get a great start, really wonderful start for me, four out of the first five holes I made birdie on. He really didn't have an answer. He made a few mistakes.
You know, match play is a lot of times very much about who gets a little bit down on themselves for getting down. The guy that gets down four or five holes early in the match, it's hard to come back from that hole.
So felt really good to go out there, and with Tom's trust, putting me in the No. 2 spot to hopefully get a point, and to get one, I felt it was probably my best match play experience of my life today.
CAPTAIN TOM LEHMAN: The second part of your question, did we need to see red numbers, yeah, we did absolutely needed to see red numbers. We needed to see a lot of red and the numbers increasing.
We played some tough tough matches. David Toms' match, the first match out, was quite a golf match. David played extremely well, and you know, it could have gone either way. But we needed to get momentum. I mean, sports are all about momentum. You've heard it from everybody. It's all about momentum, it's all about delivering the body blow, so to speak. I remember McGinley talking to him in the match where he was playing, I think Zach made a putt on 17 for birdie and Paul made a downhill slider to halve the hole to take the match to 18. We were talking about that afterwards, and he was just talking about, you know, how it was a huge momentum putt for them.
And that's I think what Tiger was saying; everybody is saying it. Momentum swings on those kind of putts. Momentum swings when you have a chance to either take one away or top somebody. And we just did not make them.
Q. Chris, you came in, you figured to be one of America's kind of go to guys, you were still scrapping even when the outcome was no longer in doubt today. I kind of pose the same question as was posed to Phil. Between the two of you guys, you had the potential to get six points and you came away with a half point. Can you give us your take on that?
CHRIS DiMARCO: Obviously I didn't play well. Yeah, very disappointed in my play this week. I was very excited going out with Phil. I felt like we had a great partnership at the Presidents Cup and we were going to go out and do some damage this week.
It goes back to momentum. We just never got momentum. We were riding the wave, and we just never got over it. We just kept getting there. We'd get there and have a chance, and then by not doing it, it would take away the momentum and just never got into it.
Unfortunately, I started to finally feel some, but I was 5 down at the time today. And I started getting you win a couple of holes, and that's what we never did the whole week. We never put two holes back to back the whole week, and that's where you pick up momentum.
I was disappointed with my play, but again, you have to take your hat off to them.
SCOTT CROCKETT: Tom and gentlemen, thank you very much for your time.
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