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SATURDAY P.M. INTERVIEW: CAPTAIN NICK FALDO
Sept. 20, 2008
Captain, your team picked up a point today, two points down headed into tomorrow. How do you feel after what was a very exciting day on the golf course all day today?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Well, it was an unbelievable day. It all started, we had a ridiculous situation last night when I'm in here doing a press conference and then obviously the teams get posted, and then you get a whole night of speculation obviously over Sergio and Lee. So I heard that all morning.
You know, I knew the facts. Sergio was very tired after Friday's first round. He asked to be rested. Obviously he's already out Friday afternoon. So I said, "Fine, you're resting for Saturday morning." He's pleased with that.
By doing that, it also meant foursomes was going to be Lee Westwood and Sergio, so Lee has lost his partner, and I had already wanted him to look after Sřren Hansen in the afternoon. So I didn't want to throw a new partner that Lee hadn't practiced with for this morning.
So that all made sense. That's kind of like one of the your little rules, golden rules for picking. Don't throw two players together during the week that haven't practiced.
And obviously I knew; for me, I saw the blisters, and I thought, this guy is maybe, maybe causing something. He would say no, but it's fine.
Then my other goal was I really believed this week between the physical and the mental and the whole intensity that five rounds is a long haul, and to keep that to the minimum number of guys. So that's how that all transpired.
Then it was great stuff. Henrik Stenson, we were talking from Friday lunchtime how to look after Ollie Wilson. We originally thought fourball; it's less pressure. Then Henrik came over and he said, "We think we're very comfortable to go in foursomes." I thought, that's great. That got Ollie out. What a match they had; to come from 4 down against Phil and Anthony Kim on the 7th tee. And Henrik, as we know, he's got a great dry sense of humor, and I said, you do realize this has been done before from 4 down obviously, and he goes, "Must have been a long time ago" (speaking in Swedish accent).
The guys, even in that situation, we managed to keep ourselves loose, enjoying ourselves. We play hard, patient. So that was a great what an amazing moment for them to turn that around.
Then the next key thing for me was Rosey, Justin Rose, I knew he was tiring, a little bit of back issues, and that was great what he did for the team. I just simply said, "What's your gut feeling?"
And he said, "Yeah, I know I'm a little, da da da, I want to do it for the team." And he came to me, and he said, "I'll rest."
So that's just about how that's my version.
Q. In your opinion right now, who's the underdog going into tomorrow?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Oh, no idea. We're even. Or pretty even I would have thought.
Come on, we know what's in store for tomorrow.
Q. Can you comment about the fantastic set of finishes this afternoon as sort of like high drama, Ryder Cup drama in every single match?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: That's exactly it. What the guys are able to do, you know, you never see I won't say never. It's pretty close to never. You can almost see you never see faces like that.
When guys hole putts, the emotion, there's a well, there's whatever. The sheer emotion of the faces we don't get in a regular tournament, the reactions we don't get in a regular tournament. It's completely different.
In some cases, some of the shots we don't get, as well. I mean, guys obviously it's match play. You go for everything just about.
So, I'm amazed. I'm down there I haven't been down next to the players for quite a few years, and I can see they've got the yardages, 203, basically playing for 203. They've got a 6 iron in their hands now. So I'm thinking, well, they're literally playing, they're going to hit it 100 percent onto that number. There's literally no margin of error. And I'm thinking, wow, back in my day I was a little softer, giving myself a little bit of margin of error here. I go, "What are you going to do with this one?"
"Just going to go for it." There's bunkers and everything. It is amazing, it really is. The guys are hitting the golf ball. It's pretty impressive.
Q. Do you think even among all the cheers and the wild plays, do you think the U.S. is hearing the footsteps from the Europeans a little bit?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Oh, most definitely. Most definitely. Crumbs; it was America's day Friday, it was our day today. We clawed in there, hung in there. That was the goal, to chip at the lead they had. There was moments where it could have gone either way.
So no, the team was really up, very upbeat. Obviously we know and we believe we have a great opportunity.
Q. When Ian Poulter came off the 18th green he said he asked you a question, he said, "Is this why you picked me?" I just wonder what your response was.
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: I just said, "I'm proud of you. I'm so proud of you." Simple as that.
Q. And his play over the last two days?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: He's been all right, as we would say, wouldn't it? All right, my son, as we would say back. "Raquel, you're doing all right." Americans, we have to explain that to you; Only Fools and Horses.
Q. Jim Furyk said that Graeme McDowell's play is some of the best he's ever seen at the Ryder Cup. Can you give us your thoughts on Graeme McDowell and what he's brought to the team this week?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: He's been absolutely amazing. I didn't know, again I'm kind of out of it in this era of golfers, but to get in the team room with these guys, and he's really come on incredibly. I've talked to him a lot.
As you know, I'm big on the visualization. He's really grasped on to that. He's loving all the things I'm telling him. He said, "I'm just loving it." That was why it was a great swap this afternoon to put him and Poulter this afternoon, because you've got two guys just absolutely bouncing. And at the late stage of two days' tough golf, that was a great pairing to have.
Q. Assuming that all your experiences shaped everything you've done this week at the Ryder Cup, which Ryder Cup experience or experiences are reflected in the way you stacked your lineup for Sunday? What match or matches show up in this particular situation?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: I don't know. It was a group effort. The guys it's all about being comfortable, that's the most important thing. You want guys to play where they want to play, and they can set their mind on it. I don't know. I really don't know.
No, sorry, I can't really I don't know if this has a theme to it, but most importantly I deal with present time, right now. You take the experience from the past, but you have to make a decision in the present. Experience is relative.
Q. Going back to Westwood and Garcia, I wonder why you chose not to even mention Garcia and Westwood when you were in here last night.
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Because the draw wasn't out.
Q. But you had made the picks.
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Yeah, I had done mine but Zinger hasn't put his in.
Q. But you had made your choices not to play them. I'm just curious why.
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: So I come in here and announce who I'm not playing?
Q. Couldn't you have diffused the situation?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: You're kidding. If I announced who I'm not playing, is that what you're saying you'd like me to do?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: And they hadn't but the their team in.
Q. I thought they had put their team in.
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: No. Because it comes out instantly. As soon as the two teams are together at that time last night, the teams had not been put together. So I can't go, "Oh, I'm not playing these four guys, oops." Agreed? Or have I got it all wrong?
Q. I wasn't sure what the timing was.
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Plus I'm not going to say I've got guys who are tired or injured. That's my opinion anyway.
Q. One thing about the singles order. 2002, Tiger Woods was put out last and became irrelevant to the match's outcome. Did you think long and hard about putting the winner of the last two majors out last?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Yeah, sure. We've been in there for half an hour doing this. Yeah, we got in there and everybody was involved in this. So we've thought long and hard of it. It's been an extremely tight match so far, so we will see. Padraig wanted to go there. I'll let him say the words. They have been said, but I would rather he use the words that describe what kind of match he wanted, so I'm not going to say.
Q. Going back to the last two hours today, all the frenetic, the putting, the to ing and the fro ing, is that as good as you've seen?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Yeah, it seems to kind of top itself. When we won at Muirfield Village in '87, we all said we had never played like that and never putted like that, and it seems like Ryder Cups kind of take things to another level.
You know, the putting and the shots have been amazing, everything. These guys are able to produce unbelievable stuff at times. Yeah, it really is.
Both teams I'm talking about. You look at the putts that Phil was holing and Hunter Mahan and Justin Leonard, wow, Steve Stricker. Pretty impressive.
Q. Apart from the half point that Padraig Harrington has put on the board, what else do you feel he's contributed to the team?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Well, as I said, we've all been talking. At least most of the time certainly you must mention Ollie, as well. Olazábal has been great. We meet every hour when we've got to put the team in for twelve o'clock. That's a tough decision.
So we're talking all the time. The whole week has been so special. I've had Sergio involved and Padraig involved, Lee involved, Robert Karlsson, Stenson. I mean, how many is that, six or seven? Basically between that lot, we kind of when I'm on the golf course, they come and see my little sandwich list (laughter) and comment on it. This has been a real team participation. It's been awesome.
Q. Just a two parter. How much of a personal vindication do you think Ian Poulter's performance has been for you this week?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: I'm not bugged about it. The man is 23rd in the World Rankings and he finished second in the Open Championship. That's why I picked him.
Q. And on the eve of battle, just before things happen, regardless of what happens tomorrow, do you think your friend, Paul Azinger, has managed to restore something in the United States Ryder Cup team?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Oh, Paul all the way around in his whole last year has done a great job in building the momentum or the enthusiasm or the interest in America. Look what he's done. He changed he's really thought about it. He's changed the points systems and the picking system and turned the play around.
So he's really if you haven't noticed his fence going on this week. Hopefully the stock market will stop crumbling and we can concentrate on golf.
Q. You've spoken about the spirit in your own side, but have you seen the spirit in the American side now?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: I've known all along, there's 12 golfers that want to play. They've got pride and passion, same as us. They want to come and beat us, and we want to beat them.
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