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SUNDAY INTERVIEW: THE EUROPEAN TEAM
Sept. 21, 2008
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Yeah, well, firstly, congratulations to Paul and his team. It was an incredible week. And I think as I hope most of you would agree, incredibly close. Kind of like a knife edge at times. But there was that little difference that makes a difference at the end of the week, but I'm incredibly proud of these 12 guys, and Ollie, of course, for my vice-captain. I've had an incredible experience. We gave our heart and souls out there. We gave it 100%, and this particular week, you know, we were outplayed just marginally in different areas by America, but we take our hats off to them this week.
It was a great event. We can all leave here very proud, chins up, straight back, and we will be back to fight another day.
KELLY ELBIN: Thank you, Captain Faldo.
Q. For Mr. Hansen, you played with J.B. Holmes I believe three times this tournament. Did it seem like he picked it up a gear today versus the previous two days?
SŘREN HANSEN: He definitely didn't hit that many awkward drives today. He hit it quite long. But quite long is probably an understatement. He hit it really long.
He seemed to play really good today. He had a spell during the turn where I won a few holes, but coming down the stretch, he just hit the better shots, and that was the key to his win really.
Q. Can you tell us about your running order, whether you were trying to second-guess Paul, and whether when you saw his list there were any surprises at all?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Not really, no real surprises. You do your best to put the 12 guys together, and we talked about it last night, and posted the team.
Obviously with them being 12 points ahead, they can look in a different area to win. We've obviously got to make up those two points or hang onto their shirttails and not let them get away. And we literally got within one match from that happening. It was so close; it came down to, you know, they had obviously Jim Furyk's match, but it was mighty close. It could have gone any way at any particular moment, and then it could have gone all the way to Padraig's match at the end. So it was as close as it could get for that hour.
Q. Why do you think it was lost, and if you had your chance again, what would you do differently?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Well, I think it's fair to say golf was pretty exceptional this week. We've all experienced something really quite amazing, the level these guys can play now.
You know, America marginally, marginally better in different areas. Shot-making is very similar. I think they probably handled the greens -- I think you should ask the players more than me, and I think the stats people will come up with who has holed the most footage of putts this week. But it certainly seemed like they got the feel of the greens certainly towards the last two days. It took a while before anybody started holing any long putts and then that started happening. Then some of their players, Justin Leonard and Hunter Mahan, had incredible putting weeks, an incredible putting week, rather.
Well, the only thing looking back on the week is it was a long, grueling week. If I was thinking about things, you know, the Monday -- the Monday flying, the Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday schedule is so heavy. It always is at The Ryder Cup. If you could do something about that to make life a little easier and keep the strength up. Guys have been bashing away all year. That would be the only real area, that I would just conserve some energy before the start.
Q. You were once a Ryder Cup rookie back in the day; what did you think of the collective efforts of all the U.S. rookies, six of them, on display this week?
SERGIO GARCIA: Obviously they came around very well. It's never easy to play as a rookie, but you know, they had a little support out there and good players. They just got on a rhythm. Obviously when things go your way, it's a little bit easier, and you know, that's pretty much how everything went this week. We seemed to play okay, but we had a hard time getting things going our way. You know, every time we did something, they did something on top of us.
No, but it was very impressive.
Q. For Paul, Sergio and for Lee, as well, you guys were on the past three winners; it seems that as we just mentioned, the rookies, they brought kind of an extra jolt of enthusiasm or excitement to the American Team, something that may have been missing in the past. You guys always seemed to be the more excitable group in past Ryder Cups. I don't know if that's just because you were playing better than the Americans, but do you think from what you noticed that the Americans have an extra energy this time, perhaps than they did, certainly in Ireland last time?
SERGIO GARCIA: Who wants to go?
PAUL CASEY: You go.
SERGIO GARCIA: I go? What was the question, sorry? (Laughter).
I can't remember, seriously, I can't remember the question. What did he say?
PAUL CASEY: Lee, go.
SERGIO GARCIA: Lee, did you hear?
LEE WESTWOOD: Sorry?
SERGIO GARCIA: Lee, are you here? Did you hear it?
LEE WESTWOOD: Sorry? I was in a world of my own, sorry. What was the question again? No, I'm serious, what was the question?
KELLY ELBIN: The play of the U.S. rookies, Lee.
JUSTIN ROSE: Did they bring more energy than the past three Ryder Cups?
SERGIO GARCIA: Obviously they did a little bit. Sometimes it felt a little bit over the top, no doubt about it, but they were very excited to be on the team and to try to help their teammates. But yeah, I guess it did help them a little bit. So good for them.
PAUL CASEY: I think Phil put it nicely earlier in the week when he said they have no scars. I think that was a good point. I think they just played very, very good golf, as well.
Q. Since you became captain, many of your decisions have been criticized. In the wake of this defeat, you'll receive more criticism tomorrow no doubt from the British press. I wonder, do you care, and if not, why not?
JUSTIN ROSE: Thanks.
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Do I care? (Looking up and down the table.)
LEE WESTWOOD: No is the word you're looking for, I think.
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: About what, do you think I care.
That's a bit harsh.
IAN POULTER: Can I jump?
SERGIO GARCIA: Can I jump in?
JUSTIN ROSE: Can I jump in?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Please.
LEE WESTWOOD: We hold the golf clubs and we hit the shots, not the captain. If you want to talk about me being rested Friday morning and Sergio being rested, that's the session we won, so Nick was right to do that. So you tell me whether Nick was right or wrong.
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah (applause), it's true.
Q. After on the 17th when the U.S. players were asked about what the difference was with Azinger versus previous captains, a lot of them said it was a very systematic approach, that he broke the players up into groups of players and had different assistant captains that helped those groups and it was a very specific approach. Looking back on that, and the idea of having more captains, which was a request he had coming in, was that something that you wished you had had?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Absolutely not. Between Ollie and I, we played 18 Ryder Cups, and between these 12 characters, as well, I mean, we have talked solidly. Everything has been discussed this week. These are the guys who play.
So I am more than comfortable with everything that has happened in the team room this week.
JOSÉ MARIA OLAZÁBAL: Can I jump in? We didn't have any captains for certain groups, players in the teams, in the past few Ryder Cups. Actually, never. And it worked okay. So I don't think why we should change that now.
Q. Padraig, Paul was talking about how they wanted to set up the course to fit the American games, the individual American games, to make more birdies; do you think that was a crucial factor in what happened?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: I think our team was exceptionally pleased with the golf course that was presented here this week. We felt it suited our games just as much. We actually felt that if we had set it up ourselves, this is how the course would have been set up. So we didn't feel disadvantaged in any way. We didn't feel like there was an advantage there for the U.S.
We were very comfortable on the golf course. I think ultimately, you know, personally, I look at these things, and you know, the U.S., they obviously played very well this week, and they putted well, and they do tend to putt a little better than the Europeans when the greens get very fast, and we tend to putt a little bit better when the greens are a tiny bit slower like the last couple times, and that can make all the difference in a week.
But the course itself was superb, and I think everybody felt comfortable on it, all 24 players.
Q. Your match against Perry today, a ton of birdies; can you talk about the match and the atmosphere of the gallery?
HENRIK STENSON: Obviously Kenny being from Kentucky, there was big crowds out there. I mean, he played great. It was -- I don't know if it was his last Ryder Cup. He's getting up in age, and he was a worthy winner. He made seven or eight birdies today and it was hard for me to match that. Every time I made something, he came back and made the next one. I think I made one putt outside of 15 feet and he made six or seven. He played great and gave the home fans what they wanted.
Q. For Ian Poulter, you took your game this week to a level that people are predicting for a few years. Even though you lose as a team, can you talk about the level of confidence that you take off of this performance going forward? Are you taking this to a new level?
IAN POULTER: I think -- I think more importantly, I feel a little bit of disappointment with, you know, with not being able to take this trophy back for Nick.
And you know, I just worked hard to try and make this side. Yeah, I played great this week. It's not just about an individual; this is about a whole team, and unfortunately we've come up shy this week, and that's very disappointing.
I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing, and I'm not changing for anybody. So I'm just going to keep playing my game, keep working hard, and hopefully I can keep playing the golf that I know I possibly can.
Q. Ollie, there seemed to be an incident between yourself and Raymond Floyd on the 12th fairway. Can you explain what was going on there?
JOSÉ MARIA OLAZÁBAL: It looks like you like those incidents.
You know, it happens. It's just match play. Raymond just saw something that actually, didn't have the whole picture of what happened, and he thought, you know, one of our guys was practicing on the green when he wasn't.
You know, I guess I just told him what I thought (laughter).
Q. This is for Paul Casey. Paul?
PAUL CASEY: Sorry. I was listening to Sergio.
SERGIO GARCIA: Hold on.
Q. You referenced Phil's quote about the U.S. Team not having a star; in what ways do you think Tiger's absence might have changed the atmosphere or helped in the end the U.S.?
PAUL CASEY: I think you'd have to ask the U.S. Team that. I don't know what their atmosphere was like behind the scenes. I don't know what the result would have been if Tiger was here. Those are questions I can't answer. All I know is that the 12 guys they did have played great golf and beat us today.
Q. Lee, you seemed to be quite outspoken about the fans; can I ask you sort of where it went over the line?
SERGIO GARCIA: Tell him the ghost story. Tell him the ghost story.
LEE WESTWOOD: Did I tell you about the ghost? Should I tell you where it started at 12:30 last night when I got a phone call to my room to wish me good luck. Should we start there?
JUSTIN ROSE: What, about 4:30 in your mom and dad's room?
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, because they got the wrong hotel and rang the wrong Westwood room. I found that quite amusing. It upset my dad's preparation for walking around the course today.
Of course it's true, and then there was the ghost that jumped out at me between 5 and 6 and went, "Booooooo" right like that to my face and he was the one that got ejected, but he was the one that made me laugh. All of the abuse that I got was fairly nasty, and that was pretty shameful. That was only a minority, and the crowds were great. I expected them to get behind the American Team, which they did, but some people don't know the difference between supporting their team and abusing the opposition team, which is unfortunate.
Q. What did they say?
LEE WESTWOOD: Lee I'm not prepared to repeat it. One was a particularly nasty reference to my mother on the 12th tee.
Q. In the past few Ryder Cups the American star players have been criticized in the past about not winning enough points and when asked questions about why, they have said well, the other guys have played better or putted better or just beat us; this time, your top players didn't get the points as were expected. Was it really just as simple as performance and execution on that day?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Yeah, exactly. It's professional sport. You give your hundred percent, and some days, you take the result, what you get. That's why you shoot a 63 one day and a 73 the next day.
Q. Two questions, one for Padraig. Nick spoke about you falling asleep four times on the plane coming over; you came in here yawning; have you been tired in between?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: You know, yeah, look, I know I'm fatigued in many ways and struggling at times. I probably look back at this week as the week went on, I actually started off the week playing quite nicely and practicing got worse every day. There's no question in my singles match today, the minute the match was -- the overall match was over on the 14th. Any bit of spark that was in my game was just gone. The energy levels just dropped.
Yeah, I can't wait for the end of the season, personally, in terms of I'm definitely tired. But you know, The Ryder Cup brings it out in you. I certainly don't feel like -- well, I worked hard during the week. I didn't play very well but I worked really hard through all my matches and I gave it 100%, and I certainly needed the sort of pressure that is in a Ryder Cup to keep me focused.
My game just wasn't there this week, and it's probably because of a long, hard summer, yeah.
Q. Did any of the rest of the team receive phone calls during the night, or families?
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, I didn't even hear it. I just slept through it.
PAUL CASEY: I got stopped by the police this morning.
LEE WESTWOOD: I must be taking on the Monty role I think (laughter). Maybe it's because I've played the most Ryder Cups out of anybody and think they -- you know, they just pick on the old guy there with the few gray hairs.
Q. Nick, this is for you. Many of our U.S. captains that have experienced what you're experiencing now have had a really hard time dealing with it; in fact, some of them are in semi-seclusion afterwards --
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Can you say that again, the audio, please.
Q. Some captains have had a hard time dealing with losses afterwards and some of them we don't really see; you on the other hand, you're out there a lot on television and things like that. How hard is this to take, and how long, if you can, will it be before you can shake something like this off?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Well, obviously I'm disappointed for the guys. We've all given 100% for this event, and I will decide how long I wish to think about it.
Q. You say it was obviously close, but don't you think you'll be waking up tomorrow, next week, next month, kicking yourself over the order of the singles?
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Why?
Q. Well, because you had two of your best form players, Poulter and McDowell, redundant?
IAN POULTER: Or his picks.
SERGIO GARCIA: It comes down to playing well -- sorry, I'm right here.
At the end of the day, it comes down to playing well. If I would have played better and I would have won my match, maybe you know, some others coming down the stretch, maybe we would be talking and writing a different story. It has nothing to do with Nick. At the end of the day, we are the guys that need to perform well on the course and we just need to be better on the guys we play. It's not his fault.
Q. You're being very gallant in defeat, but presumably it must hurt you on a personal level as a guy as immensely successful in his playing career that under your leadership The European Team has changed from a winning team to a losing team; how hard is that for you to take personally?
JOSÉ MARIA OLAZÁBAL: (Shaking head) that question doesn't deserve an answer.
CAPTAIN NICK FALDO: Thank you.
KELLY ELBIN: Captain Faldo, European Team, thank you very much.
SERGIO GARCIA: Thank you.
End of FastScripts