Interview Transcript from Corey Pavin's assistant captain selection news conference
DOUG MILNE: We would like to welcome Corey Pavin, 2010 Ryder Cup captain, to the interview room here at the Northern Trust Open. Thanks for joining us here for a few minutes. It's been a while since we kind of got an update from you, so why don't you make a few general comments as we're looking towards the fall and Ryder Cup and kind of how your mindset is leading the way.
COREY PAVIN: Well, obviously very excited about the Ryder Cup. There's a lot to do between now and the Ryder Cup. There's a lot to do, and Lisa and I are very excited to keep going on this process, which has been a great enjoyment for us. It's been a great journey and a great honor for both of us.
I'll just keep going here. In exactly 240 days, the first shot of the 38th Ryder Cup will be struck in Wales at Celtic Manor. Team USA faces a big challenge in trying to retain the Ryder Cup, and I will not be able to do it alone. I've put a lot of thought into choosing my four assistants. Having been an assistant in 2006, I know how important this role can be.
I have hand picked my four assistants because of their intelligence, experience, and their ability to express their own opinions to me without hesitation. Each of my assistants have unique perspectives to bring to the table which I believe will bring a great balance of leadership to Team USA.
My first assistant pick occurred seconds after I was named captain. Since then my wife Lisa has been working tirelessly to assist me with countless Ryder Cup details. She is my captainess, and I'm grateful for her incredible help. I would also like to thank everyone at the PGA of America, as well. They have been extremely helpful and will continue to be so.
So with that and in no particular order, I would like to announce my assistant captains for the United States 2010 Ryder Cup team. One of my assistants will be Tom Lehman. He has played on three Ryder Cups and captained the 2006 Ryder Cup team in Ireland. Tom and I were paired together in the first Ryder Cup match, where we were fortunate enough to win our match against Nick Faldo and Colin Montgomerie. Tom is a great friend of ours, and I am glad to have him on board.
Next is Jeff Sluman. Jeff is a PGA champion, and he comes with the credentials of assisting Jack Nicklaus three times in the Presidents Cup. He will bring a great wit and his own way of making the team feel at ease.
My next choice is another PGA champion who is standing in the back of the room right now. Davis Love has played in six Ryder Cups and made the winning putt in the 1993 Ryder Cup, the last time we won on European soil. He brings a wealth of experience and in my opinion will be getting on the job training as a potential future captain.
And lastly is Paul Goydos. Paul Goydos with his lack of team experience makes him an ideal choice. He is unconventional, thinks outside the box, and is an excellent judge of character and talent. Paul is also well respected amongst his peers. He will give me his untarnished opinion, which no doubt will have his unique stamp on it.
Lastly as captain I will lean on these four men for advice, and they will play an integral role in helping our team bond so that we can reach our ultimate goal of retaining the Ryder Cup. I thank them for their time and effort, and I am thrilled that they have accepted my invitation to be part of Team USA.
DOUG MILNE: Paul, Davis, if we can get you guys to come join us for a few minutes, that would be great.
COREY PAVIN: I guess we can open it up to questions.
Q. Davis, just your goal of trying to make the team, and if you do, what happens then?
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, well, Corey asked me a couple months ago to consider it, and I said I'll consider trying to make the team, and the more we thought about it and talked about it, it's the best of both worlds. I get to try to make the team, and if I don't make the team, I still get to go. I think it's an honor for me to be in this group. It's an honor for Corey to think of me.
One of the goals of mine always has been to play, and then my secondary goal was to be a captain. It's going to be great to get to have a shot at both this year. I figured that Robin and I would be going to Wales anyway just to spectate a little bit and see what it was all about since we missed the last couple, and then when Corey asked me, I said that's perfect, I'll really get to see how it goes and get to try to pitch in. I'm thrilled. I'm very, very excited, and Robin is very excited, and I'm looking forward to getting to know these players.
I know the last couple weeks knowing about it, I've looked at everybody that walks through the locker room differently now. I'm thinking, I don't know that guy that well, I'd better get to know him a little bit better. It's going to be good for me, it's going to be fun, but obviously the goal is still to make the team and mess him up and have him go find somebody else.
Q. I'm curious since you always seem to win in non Ryder Cup years, what's the closest you've come to making a team, and did you ever think you'd have a team uniform for the Ryder Cup?
PAUL GOYDOS: Well, I watched it on television. I have watched it. I think it came down to me and this guy right here. He had the name advantage. I'm a little offended that Jeff Rude didn't ask me that question, quite frankly.
I made the cut in like two majors last year, so I'm ahead of the game to start.
It's an unbelievable honor. I don't even know what to say. It's going to be a chance of a lifetime. I'd obviously like to play well this year and at least have a shot. I think the closest I've gotten is probably 112th on the points list. But hey, you never know. Just go out and try to learn something, and I've got, again, you look at the people involved with the Ryder Cup and Corey's team, and the thing I was thinking about after he asked me, and the thing that really surprised me is that if I ever had a question, something that was bugging me about the TOUR, about golf or about something, I've looked at the people who I would ask their advice of, the first person I would probably ask would be Tom Lehman. I've been friends with Tom since the Hogan Tour. The second person I probably would have asked would have been Corey; the third person I probably would have asked would have probably been Jeff; and then Davis might have been the fourth person, so people I respect on TOUR.
I think it's kind of odd that they're the three assistant captains. I find that kind of weird how that worked out.
COREY PAVIN: The one thing is I had the exact same conversation with Paul that I had with Davis. Both these guys can make the team. It's certainly possible. You know, I hope they do. I'd like to see them both on the team as players, as well.
If that does happen, we'll I'll sit down and figure out an alternative plan. But I'm very happy to have them as assistants, and they both have a wealth of knowledge to share. But just for the record, I have had this conversation with both Paul and Davis.
PAUL GOYDOS: Yes, he did, absolutely.
Q. Will their roles be different?
COREY PAVIN: Well, I think all the assistants right now, the most important thing that I want to communicate with my assistants is to keep track of how everybody is playing, what they're doing. One of the big reasons I picked Davis and Paul is because they're playing on the PGA TOUR full time. I wanted eyes out here on the TOUR. I'm going to play a lot on the Champions Tour. I'll play some on the regular TOUR. But I wanted to be able to get on the phone and call these guys up and say, hey, go talk to so and so or try to play a practice round with so and so and then get back to me about that. So that's one of the reasons I've picked these guys, as well.
Q. Can you guys talk about, Corey and Paul, the SoCal connection and flavor to this, too, maybe make us Southern Californians feel, okay, we're a little part of this thing from afar?
PAUL GOYDOS: I think he went to UCLA, so I don't hold that against him, going to Long Beach State. Who won the basketball game this year, by the way?
COREY PAVIN: I'm afraid I don't want to know.
PAUL GOYDOS: Listen, you're representing the country in this event. From what I can tell this is the closest thing we have to the Olympics until 2016. I don't know that being from Southern California has a whole lot to do with it. But again, the people in Southern California who know me are obviously very excited.
I've known Corey, Corey is a little older than me, but Corey, again, is a guy that embraced the younger players when I was one of the younger players who we always looked up to, and he's one of the guys who in a sense helped me along. This is a tough game and a tough life. Again, these are the guys that I've just kind of looked up to more so than looked at as a friend. He's a little higher up in the hierarchy to me.
Q. Corey, not being facetious, although it sounds facetious, but Freddie went with Michael Jordan last year, and I know Davis, you know MJ pretty well. But did you have any thought to maybe bringing in a non golf person to work with the team or bring whatever they bring to the team? Or did you just go with Goydos?
COREY PAVIN: That was a shot. Would you like to respond to that?
PAUL GOYDOS: Well, if Michael Jordan wants to go play golf, fine with me. Let's go. What would Michael Jordan all due respect, I don't get the Michael Jordan thing. I don't get it. He's a nice guy, but I don't know what he has to do with golf other than he's tall.
COREY PAVIN: I think Freddie is Freddie and Corey is Corey, so I have my own way of doing things. That was Freddie's call. And I think the Ryder Cup is a different beast than The Presidents Cup. There's a lot of decisions that have to be made in the Ryder Cup that don't have to be made in a Presidents Cup. There's only four matches played on Friday and Saturday, and you have to leave four guys out. And as a result, I need to have, I feel, four experienced golfers that can watch these gentlemen play, whoever is going to be on the team, in September and October and come back to me and say, this person is not really playing that well or they can talk with them and have a rapport with these guys, as well.
I think it's a little different animal, the Ryder Cup, for sure. It's certainly a much more tense, intense event than The Presidents Cup. That's the way Freddie went. I want to have experienced golfers out there to help me out and people that have Ryder Cup experience. I think Paul not having Ryder Cup experience is a very good
PAUL GOYDOS: I have as much as Michael Jordan.
COREY PAVIN: That's right.
DAVIS LOVE III: He's been to a lot more. (Laughter.)
PAUL GOYDOS: But it came down to me and Brett Favre. (Laughter.)
Q. Corey, you've talked about leading up to the matches and these guys watching other players. What about during the matches? Have you kicked around some sort of concept about what they'll be doing? Will we see something like what Captain Azinger did with Haas and such?
COREY PAVIN: Well, the reason I picked four assistants is because I want an assistant to go with every match on Friday and Saturday. That was the main reason I picked four.
You know, I don't know how I'm going to go about exactly the makeup of the 12 guys is going to be interesting, and I won't know who those 12 guys are. Usually any time I've been on Ryder Cup teams, I'm sure Davis can say the same thing, there's groups of guys that just kind of mesh anyway, and all the captains I've talked to and I've seen have kind of about two, three, four, five guys that you can mix in the different formats. So it's always there anyway, the type of a pod type situation.
So I'm going to just wait and see who's on the team and see how they match up. I thought the guys that were on The Presidents Cup team, you could almost pick two names out of a hat and they would match up. So hopefully I'll have that type of situation in the Ryder Cup where I can pick two names out of a hat and it won't be that difficult a decision for the pairings.
Q. Have you talked with Paul Azinger and reflected with him on how he structured and led the successful challenge?
COREY PAVIN: Well, I've talked to a lot of captains. I hope to talk to Paul here in the future. We've tried to connect up and it hasn't happened, but I hope it will shortly. I'll see him out on the Champions Tour a lot this year, and I'm sure we'll have some chats.
But I like to get input from everybody, not only from captains but from players that have played, players that might make the team. I'm going to be talking to a lot of different people and get a lot of different thoughts, and again, when those 12 players are assembled, I'll have a much better idea how to go about pairing them, and I'll as well be talking with Davis, Paul, Jeff and Tom about how these guys will mesh together.
Q. When we spoke in Hawai'i, you weren't suggesting that you were going to take the team over like Tom Lehman did to K Club. Is there a possibility that you might look at that a little differently now that you've got your assistants and everybody in place, to go over and play some rounds at Celtic?
COREY PAVIN: You know, I think back when Tom was captain, it was a different situation. There was 10 players, two captains' picks. Captains picks were made the day after the PGA Championship, so there was a six week period between the PGA when the team was assembled and the Ryder Cup. It's a different story now. My four picks are going to be coming three weeks before the Ryder Cup and right in the middle of the FedExCup. Logistically I think it would be impossible to get the guys over there as a group.
If they want to get over there and play on their own, maybe around British Open time, that's going to be up to them. If they'd like to, that's fine. If they don't, that's fine, too. We're going to be over there, have three practice rounds during the Ryder Cup. It's a very straightforward golf course, and I think three is going to be enough to get ready.
Q. This is obviously a rollover for you and Tom; you were his assistant. What do you think he brings to the table, and what are you looking for him to bring to the table for you?
COREY PAVIN: I'm going to make Tom pay. He had me do some of the craziest things, so I'm going to turn it back on him. I'm just kidding.
No, Tom brings the experience of being a captain and a captain overseas. So I will certainly be talking plenty with him. I've already talked a lot with him, and we'll just shoot around ideas and talk about things, and as we get closer, maybe we'll definitely solidify what I'm going to do, and we'll be talking to these other gentlemen, as well.
Q. Going back to the Presidents Cup, you had if you look at it, Tiger and Stricker won everything, a pretty natural team, pretty much an A team there.
DAVIS LOVE III: Write that down.
COREY PAVIN: Do you have a pencil?
PAUL GOYDOS: What was that name again?
Q. But realistically, Davis, you might be able to speak about this, it's very difficult it's a challenge to play against Europe in Europe. What's your sense of how difficult it would be if you get Tiger, if Tiger plays and he's on the team? Would that not be the most difficult challenge he would face this year coming back to golf?
DAVIS LOVE III: I think you want to answer that, Captain.
THE COURT: That's a captain question. You know, I hope Tiger is on the team. He's the best player in the world, and I want to have him on the team. I think pairing him is not that difficult. Maybe 10, 12 years ago it was a little trickier, but I think it's a lot easier now.
You know, with the Stricker Tiger pairing, you never know how these guys are going to be playing at that time. They paired up great at the Presidents Cup, but that doesn't mean they're going to pair up great at the Ryder Cup. So there's nothing that is even set in pencil at this moment, let alone stone.
You just don't know. Steve Stricker might not make the team, Tiger might not make the team. There's a lot of guys, you sit here and think now, they'll be on the team for sure, but you don't know. As far as I'm concerned, I'm not even thinking about pairings right now. It's not even on my radar. I'm going to wait and see how the team develops and then I will start looking at that more in July and August actually.
Q. What about the challenge that he would face in Europe at a Ryder Cup?
COREY PAVIN: Who would be he?
Q. That would be Tiger Woods.
COREY PAVIN: Okay, just wanted to clarify. If there's anybody on this planet that can handle any situation on the golf course, it would be Tiger Woods. He is as mentally tough as anybody I've ever seen in my life, and I don't expect for there to be any problems anyway.
Q. Davis, do you have anything to add to that? You've played with him a bit.
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I agree with Corey. We want him on the team, and I've played matches with him. Nothing bothers him on the golf course. I think if he's on the team, that means he's been playing for a while, so I think he'll be fine. Obviously if he comes back, he'll be playing the British Open and the rest of his schedule.
We want him on the team, just like we want Stricker and just like we want Jim Furyk and Stewart Cink and all the guys that have done so well the last few years. He's a big part of it. I think he's turned into a fun guy in the team room and a fun guy in practice rounds, and he was obviously fun to play with. We didn't have a perfect record, but it was fun to play with him. I hope I'm playing with him at the Ryder Cup because I'd love to go back into the battle over there again with a guy like that, that you know is going to be driven to win.
I'll never forget him telling me at the Belfry I said, "What do you want me to hit off the tee?" He said, "I don't care, hit it in the fairway." I said, "Well, how far down there do you want it?" He said, "I don't care, just put it in the fairway and I'll put it on the green." That's the way he thinks is I don't care if I'm hitting a 3 iron in or a 7 iron in, I'm going to hit it close. It was one of the most incredible of course, the first hole I missed the fairway, and then the third hole I missed the fairway, and we were 2 up quick because he's just he was so determined to win, and it was an amazing that was the first match I had ever played with him, and it was just incredible to watch him play.
So I don't think it'll be a problem. We have 50 guys on the list right now, and he's one of them that we really want.
Q. Where is Goydos on that list?
PAUL GOYDOS: 51.
Q. I'd be curious what occupies most of your time right now given that this list I wouldn't think really starts to materialize until maybe April or May because of how current it is, how fluid it is this year. What do you spend most of your time with right now over the next month or two?
COREY PAVIN: The little girl that was up here a minute ago, Alexis. She's given me some very good advice actually. Right now actually Lisa is doing a lot of the behind the scenes stuff. I've leaned heavily on her, and it's really freed me up. It's been great that I can go out, talk with the guys, walk around the driving range, sit around in the locker room, sit at lunch and talk with guys, just let them know I'm around, I'm watching them, make a few phone calls, talk to some guys. I talked to Bill Haas and Ryan Palmer already this year after they won. But just to keep in touch with these men and make sure that they know that I'm watching. I want them to know that I'm watching and very interested in everything that's going on out here so that when the time comes, I will know every individual very well.
Q. I think they got it wrong on the Michael Jordan thing. I think Paul is more Robin Williams than Michael Jordan. Given that notion, other than an unvarnished opinion from him, which he's good at, do you expect some levity, which is always important in a tense environment?
COREY PAVIN: Well, I mean, that's the reason I picked the assistants I picked. I think there's it's a very diversified group of four men, and I'd say the funnier individuals would be Paul and Slu. This guy here to my left can be pretty funny, too. He can be pretty funny, but you have to really listen carefully. And Tom would surprise you, as well.
But we want to create an atmosphere of comfort, we want to create an atmosphere where the guys are relaxed, and I feel like these four men and their wives and others are going to create that atmosphere for us.
Q. I'm not leaving out Paul just because you weren't there, but what's the challenge, Corey and Davis, of the Europeans in Europe and the atmosphere that those crowds create? How difficult is it to play in that setting?
COREY PAVIN: Well, we played in '93 on the same team at the Belfry, and you know, for me it was really fun to do something good and hear nothing. It was very fun. I enjoyed that. I enjoy playing in an environment where you're treated as the underdog, or not even underdog but as the bad guy so to speak. And I like it. It's fun.
So I took on that type of an attitude that week of let's keep the crowd quiet, let's do stuff, and then just enjoy whoever I'm partnered with out there and enjoy each other's companies and our caddies and the wives that are walking around. It's a really neat, tight group when we're overseas, a small group, and it's really fun.
DAVIS LOVE III: I agree. I think there's a lot of pressure in the Ryder Cup, and pressure in golf tends to show in putting. Then you fly overseas and play an away game, the pressure gets even more intense, and it shows up in the putting. I think that's the hardest thing is you're trying so hard to win that you get in your own way, and I think it's just harder away from home.
You know, when you don't have the fan support your head is a little taller at home and you walk a little faster, and I think that's the the biggest thing I've learned in six Ryder Cups and six Presidents Cups is the team that gets on a roll and putts well is the team that wins.
We just had one day at Brookline where we putted well, but we had a great putting day. I think the challenge of going over there, obviously we can figure out the golf course in three days, it's just getting the confidence to free it up and just play. And I think that's what Corey did here is he got some guys with some experience, but he also got some guys that are going to make it fun and relaxing and energetic and pull the team together.
I can see what my role is, and I can see what Paul's role is. I'm supposed to be the guy that's seeing it all and knows the players. Paul is supposed to be the one that keeps us focused on what we're doing. Hey, it's just golf, let's relax and play and have fun.
I think Corey put a great group together that can go over to Wales and play golf like we know how to play golf. That's the important thing is relaxing and having fun, and that's the challenge over there is just 10 percent more pressure. That's why we want guys like Tiger and Stricker and guys that have been handling it real well lately and know how to handle it and teach the younger guys how.
Q. Not to be critical of past captains, but has that been the problem, where the seriousness level has been ramped up in the past?
DAVIS LOVE III: The question about going and playing the golf course early, again, 12 times I've played with a couple repeat captains in there, so however many captains that is, nine, they all did an incredible job in their own way. The players are the ones that screwed it up and lost.
COREY PAVIN: Now you're talking like an administrator.
DAVIS LOVE III: I can go back and tell you at Detroit the shot that I hit that cost us the Ryder Cup, and it was the first day. It didn't have anything to do with Hal Sutton's black hat. It didn't have anything to do with what Hal did. But if Chad Campbell had a 10 footer for eagle on the second hole rather than me missing the green, we probably would have won, because if Tiger had seen us winning, they would have won their match. It just comes down to getting on a roll. We sent the two best teams we could possibly send out that morning, and we lost. The two No. 1 teams lost. So Hal didn't do anything wrong.
Tom Kite had Justin Leonard won a major, I won a major, Tiger won a major. We went over there with a hell of a team. Kite didn't do anything wrong; it's just his guys putted terrible all week. We never made a putt. It's not really what the captain Corey knows what he wants to get done, but we have to get the players to relax and go play golf like it's the LA Open where we always Americans always play great. That's the challenge. Dr. Coop should be the assistant captain and tell us how to do it because we all need to learn. But it'll come down to who's mentally toughest, and that's why we need a bunch of guys to watch out and make sure that guys aren't getting taking it too seriously and getting too wrapped up in trying to win, and they just go out and play their games and play golf and do like Ben Crane did. He didn't know he had won the tournament on the last hole. That's what we're looking for is guys who will be having so much fun playing a match that they're not worried about I have to win this point or I have to make the putt or this is for the Ryder Cup and we're in Wales.
We want to play golf to have fun and enjoy the experience. A lot of them, they might not get to play six of them. We want them to say soak this in, enjoy it, play the game and play like you know how to play and don't worry about the outcome. I think that just gets a little tougher over there.
Q. I'm only half serious, but I'm wondering how you arrived on the total of four assistants. I think it was three last year. It seems like the number keeps going up. We're approaching NBA levels with five guys and 12 players and what the distribution of labor would be and if Paul is supposed to specifically heckle Monty. The ratio is pretty high player to coach.
COREY PAVIN: I didn't tell them that you were supposed to do that.
You know, like I said before, the number of four is basically because there's four matches on Friday and Saturday. You know, each round I want eyes on each match. I can't watch everybody, and I want guys that can. It seems like four is better than three and five is too much. Is that a good explanation? Maybe we'll have 12 one of these years and one assistant for every player. But I think it's a good number. It kind of allows everybody not to have to do too much, but it allows them to focus on players that need to be focused on.
DOUG MILNE: Paul, Davis, congratulations. Corey, thanks for your time.