Corey Pavin becomes the 26th man to captain the United States Ryder Cup team. (Photo: Getty Images)
U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Corey Pavin Interview Transcript
JULIUS MASON: Good morning, everyone, I'm Julius Mason, the senior director of communications and media relations for the PGA of America, and I'd like to welcome those of you joining us on the phone lines from around the world, and those of you on site right here at Tavern on the Green in New York City for the 2010 United States Ryder Cup Captain announcement.
For those of you that were not lucky enough to be with us in Louisville, Kentucky last September, we would like to share some great history and some unbelievable moments from Valhalla Golf Club right now on the monitors.
(Highlight video played).
The 2008 Ryder Cup, you had to see it to believe it, ladies and gentlemen. Welcome back to Tavern on the Green in New York City.
We have some very special guests in the audience that we would like to you meet, beginning with PGA of America Secretary, Mr. Ted Bishop in the front row. Honorary President, Mr. Brian Whitcomb. PGA of America Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Joe Steranka. Representing the metropolitan New Jersey and Philadelphia PGA Sections, PGA Board Member and District Director Rod Loesch.
From the Metropolitan PGA Section right here in your backyard, New York, President, Tom Henderson. Vice President, Heath Wassem. Secretary, Brian Crowell. Treasurer, Brad Worthington, and Executive Director Charlie Robson.
From the New Jersey PGA Section just across the river in Piscataway, President Dan Pasternak, and Executive Director, Scott Kmiec.
Now, from Okemo Valley Golf Club in Ludlow, Vermont, it's my pleasure to introduce the 36th president of The PGA of America, Mr. Jim Remy.
JIM REMY: Thank you Julius, good morning, everyone and welcome. Thank you for being here today and thank you to all of you who are joining us via satellite from all over the world.
First of all, let me say that we are coming off a tremendous year at the PGA of America with just outstanding championships for the entire season, capped off by really one of the greatest Ryder Cups in history.
It has been a remarkable year for the game and for the PGA of America. The Ryder Cup trophy is back on U.S. soil once again, thanks to an outstanding United States Ryder Cup Team.
We are very proud of the United States Team and especially proud of our captain, Paul Azinger, who did an outstanding, fantastic job as our Ryder Cup captain. He is a friend of the PGA of America, a long time supporter of the PGA of America, and a long time supporter in the game of golf and we could not be anymore thankful for the job that Paul did for us.
But today we are really gathered here to share another very important announcement regarding the 2010 Ryder Cup. The Ryder Cup is an event that demands someone that is experienced and a strong leader, and we have found just that man for the job. He is a native of Oxnard, California and lives in Dallas, Texas. He turned professional in 1982 and today he becomes the 26th individual to be chosen as the United States Captain since The Ryder Cup began in 1927 in Worcester, Massachusetts.
He exemplified his enthusiasm for this job by competing in the 1991, 1993 and 1995 Ryder Cups. He served as the assistant captain with Tom Lehman at the 36th Ryder Cup at The K Club in 2006. His playing record of 27 worldwide titles includes the 1995 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on Long Island in New York. He continues to compete at a very high level with six Top 15 finishes just this past season and a third place at the AT&T.
He is the 1991 PGA Player of the Year. His competitiveness and passion for this game, and particularly, The Ryder Cup, makes him the consummate captain to guide the next United States Team. In fact, he has been viewed by many as the most focused American competitor in the history of The Ryder Cup; and be clear, we have given him one mission, and one mission only: To keep The Ryder Cup on American soil. We understand that won't be easy. It won't be an easy task, certainly heading off to Wales.
It is my pleasure, and he has the complete support of the PGA of America to introduce the man who will guide the United States Ryder Cup Team at Celtic Manor in 2010, Corey Pavin. (Applause).
COREY PAVIN: Thank you, Jim. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, fellow PGA of America members, and I thank you for being here today. I would like to thank Jim Remy and the rest of the officers for selecting me as captain. I've been waiting for this day and I'm very excited to be here today.
When I received the all from you last month, Lisa and I were thrilled beyond words. I can't even begin to describe how happy we are to be part of this it fantastic event.
In 1991, I played in my first Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island, listening to the National Anthem, experiencing the pressure of The Ryder Cup for the first time as a player, watching the last match between Hale Irwin and Bernhard Langer, and of course, throwing Captain Stockton into the ocean, cemented my love for The Ryder Cup in my blood forever.
I knew then that I wanted to play in as many Ryder Cups as possible and dreamt about being captain some day. Today, my dream has come true. It is an honor and a privilege to represent the United States of America as captain of 2010 Ryder Cup Team.
I feel The Ryder Cup is the most dynamic experience a competitive golfer will ever have. I never have been as nervous well, maybe today I'm a little nervous; anxious or focused, as when I played in my three Ryder Cup Matches. In other words, it's a lot of fun to play in The Ryder Cup.
We witnessed just how fun it can be at Valhalla this year. I would like to congratulate Paul on a job very well done and the U.S. players for playing so well. It was not only fantastic to see us win again, but to see our younger players step up under the ultimate pressure of the Super Bowl of golf was wonderful to witness. I hope their play will inspire other young players to do the same over the next two years.
Playing in The Ryder Cup on foreign soil brings a whole new set of challenges in 2010. The home field advantage will shift back to the European Team. They will be able to set up Celtic Manor as they wish, plus they have a very partisan crowd.
I was proud to be a part of the last winning Ryder Cup Team on foreign soil back in 1993. As captain, I am encouraging all U.S. golf fans to make reservations now and come support us in Wales. We need you and we want you there.
It is not only an honor to represent my country as captain, but it is also an honor to represent the PGA of America. There are 28,000 men and women who are members of the PGA of America that I am pleased to represent as captain of The Ryder Cup. It's a first class organization and one that I am proud to be affiliated with.
Over the past couple of years, it has been a pleasure to get to know you, Jim, Joe, and Brian, and get to know you better, Ted, here, in the next couple of years. We have had dinner, drinks, and maybe even a casual text message here and there about some football games, like ASU/UCLA, but we won't talk about that right now.
I look forward to closely working with you guys the next couple of years. I think it will be a great ride and a great journey. It will be a learning experience, one that I'm looking forward to tremendously. You guys have bestowed upon me a great and wonderful honor of being captain of the 2010 Ryder Cup Team, and winning it. I guarantee you that I will do everything that I can to bring The Ryder Cup back to the United States of America. Thank you very much. (Applause).
JULIUS MASON: Ladies and gentlemen, we will now open the floor to questions.
Q. You said you got the call last month. At what point after the win with Captain Azinger and it kind of became clear that the players wanted him to come back, and you've been an assistant in the past; did it dawn on you that you might not get this shot, that it might be Azinger coming back?
COREY PAVIN: You know, you never know what can happen. We have had conversations for a couple of years, and PGA of America has talked to me and were interested in my interest in the captaincy. They knew I was interested, and you never know what can happen. But I was certainly hoping that they would pick me as captain. I'm very, very pleased that they did.
Q. Who were the various people who spoke to you or you consulted before making the final decision? Who did you speak to before making the final decision?
JIM REMY: Certainly the executive committee of the PGA of America and the officer of the PGA. This is something that has been on our radar screen for a long period of time. It will never be an easy decision to choose a Ryder Cup Captain. But there are so many great players that have earn it, and we have all the confident in the world in Corey. We believe he's earned the right to be a Ryder Cup Captain and we support him.
Q. Did you talk to current players who might be involved in the next team?
JIM REMY: We discussed it with some players over a period of time, and we are always willing to take feedback and we continue to do so, as well as past captains.
Q. How important is it going to be for you as a captain to have been on that last time to win overseas?
COREY PAVIN: (Pulling Ryder Cup closer.) Let me move this so I can see you. I'll just put it right here. (Hugging trophy close, smiling).
Yeah, I think it's important that I participated overseas in The Ryder Cup and was on a winning team. I certainly have a feel for what it's like to play overseas in The Ryder Cup. It was great to be on a winning team obviously. There's a few things that I learned when I was over there playing in the '93 Ryder Cup that I will use in 2010. And I'm sure between now and then, I'll come up with some more ideas and some more concepts. It obviously is always helpful to have the experience and to have been there and gone through it as a player.
So I think that I can apply that pretty well as a captain.
Q. You mentioned the pressure of playing in The Ryder Cup; could you talk about that pressure, and also, do you anticipate the pressure to be even greater as captain of the 2010 team?
COREY PAVIN: Well, as far as the second part to your question, and being captain is a different kind of pressure. You know, being an assistant in 2006 was a whole different type of ballgame for me, and that experience will help me tremendously in 2010.
As far as the pressure as a player, I can tell you a story back in '93, actually. Lanny and I were the first match off, and we had about a two hour fog delay and everybody is antsy and restless, and finally we go to the first tee and we are playing foursomes. We decided I way going to hit off the even holes, basically, because I didn't want to drive it off 18. I wanted Lanny to do that.
I didn't think about it very much. We talked to the first tee and they announced from the United States, you know, Corey Pavin to hit, and I realized then that I'm the first person to hit the first match, first to win The Ryder Cup. I was extremely nervous. I can't even describe how nervous I was. I put the tee in the ground and I went to put the ball on the tee, and I got about that far from the tee and I realized that my hand was shaking so much, and I decided, you know what, let's just drop the ball and hopefully it will stay on the tee. And thank goodness, it did. It stayed right there and I was able to compose myself and get up and hit a good drive. Lanny and I went off and we won our match and we were able to win the whole Ryder Cup that time.
So the nerves you feel at The Ryder Cup are nothing like you feel anywhere else in it golf. I've won the U.S. Open, it felt like a walk in the park compared to The Ryder Cup.
Q. Given your personality, how do you think you'll go about the job, in similar or dissimilar ways to the way Paul did it?
COREY PAVIN: Well, I think Paul and I are similar in the fact that we love The Ryder Cup. The Ryder Cup is in my blood. I think if you cut my arm open, Ryder Cup would just bleed out. It's the greatest event in the world I think, and certainly the golf world.
It's something that as far as how I'm going to go about it, I'm going to lead this team. Our goal is to go over there and win and just bring this guy right back with us. There's going to be a lot of things I'll be thinking about and a lot of strategies and a lot of plans I'll be working on over the next two years. I have a few ideas already.
But obviously having played over at The Belfry in '93, it's a different challenge, as I said, and there's going to be some different things that need to be done. And I will work on those over the next couple of years.
Q. The system has changed since you last were on The Ryder Cup, and obviously you are going to have four picks versus two. Would you suggest making any changes to the system in regard to selecting players or are you comfortable with the system that's in place now?
COREY PAVIN: Well, I think the improvements that the PGA of America and Paul did two years ago were excellent changes. I think the systems are always being modified and tweaked, and I think we will sit down and talk a little bit about possibly tweaking it. There may be no changes; there may be some changes. I think it's very important to make sure that the system is the best possible system to identify the best players and to build the strongest, best team that we can possibly field there.
You know, we will sit down in the next few months and discuss it and see if there's anything that's worthwhile to change, and if we do, we'll give you a shout.
Q. Obviously sitting there with The Ryder Cup next to you, things have changed from where they were in the last couple of years in the Ryder Cup at this time; how does your mind set differ knowing that you have to retain it versus the pressure on you going to try to win it?
COREY PAVIN: Well, you know, I can thank Paul and the U.S. Team for giving me an extra half a point to work with when we go over to Celtic Manor in Wales. That may be valuable, but it's nice to have a little cushion there.
But you know, going over there, it's going to be so different. We are going to have Louisville, we had fans that were crazy cheering for the Americans. Going over there, we are going to have very pro European crowd, and it's going to be tough. It's going to be a very difficult challenge to go over there.
On the other hand, we have a winning team. We have had a winning team, but I still look at it as we are underdogs when we go over there. We are going to be on foreign soil. It will be 17 years by the time we get there, was the last time we won a Ryder Cup. There will be a lot of challenges and I look forward to looking those right in the eye and tackling them.
Q. The United States won The Ryder Cup at Valhalla as a decided underdog, and they did it without Tiger Woods. How important was that from a confidence standpoint and a general psyche standpoint to be able to do that? And I would assume that you're looking forward to having him back and healthy on the 2010 team.
COREY PAVIN: I would be a fool not to want Tiger Woods on my team; I can tell you that.
But that's a good point. We won without Tiger. And to have Tiger on the team the next time, I certainly hope he will be on the team will make a stronger team for sure. So anything that can make us better, I'm all for it.
Q. Mentally from a confidence standpoint, do you think the players took something out of that, to be able to do it without Tiger?
COREY PAVIN: I think so, definitely. Any time you win in general, you're going to gain confidence and you're going to believe in your ability to accomplish something. And when you do it, you know, conceivably shorthanded so to speak, it builds even more confidence.
So the players that played in 2008, if they are going to be playing in 2010, they will have a little bit more confidence, certainly.
In the years before when we have lost quite a few in a row, that doesn't build a whole lot of confidence. So it's nice to get back on the right track, but it's still an uphill battle in Wales.
Q. You mentioned earlier that you've known about this decision for about a month now. How difficult has it been to sit on it and not tell anybody?
COREY PAVIN: Very, very difficult. Lisa and I have wanted to just run on the streets and shout it out. I've been wanting to do this since I played my first matches at Kiawah Island. I've been waiting 17 years to be sitting right here at the podium, and I figured maybe another few weeks or so was okay to wait.
But it was difficult knowing. But it was very peaceful to know, as well.
Q. I had a couple of questions, one for Corey, one for Jim. Corey, if the U.S. were to win the Ryder Cup, would you rather, if you could only pick one, take a winning Ryder Cup as captain, or a U.S. Open?
COREY PAVIN: (Laughs) Well, I'll take one as captain, because I've already had a U.S. Open win. So I've got that one under my belt. So I'll take that Ryder Cup win as captain.
Q. As a quick follow, there was a lot of revamping of the system as you know and one of the things Paul had mentioned during the year was wondering if it was, a, whether four picks was too many, given this didn't prove to get the hottest players, and whether too much emphasis was given on the majors with double points. I think we had cases at the PGA Championship where a club pro could have won and qualified. Any thoughts to that?
COREY PAVIN: Well, I've already asked the PGA of America if I could have 12 picks, but I think they rejected that already, I believe. (Laughter).
I think as I said before, there's always refinement to systems. Sometimes they are fine the way they are and we will discuss that over the next couple of months and if we deem any changes need to be made, then PGA of America will announce that and just have to stay tuned and see.
We need to talk some more about that. It's only been a couple of weeks that I've been captain, so there's a lot of work to do and a lot in front of me and that's one of my duties here in the future.
Q. A quick question for Jim, because there's been so much discussion, I guess, about Zinger coming back, I was wondering if you could just for the record say, was he ever a consideration, and did the PGA contemplate offering him the job?
JIM REMY: Thanks. Good question, Doug, and we probably thought that was going to come up.
There's no question about it. Paul did an incredible job, and certainly after the victory, you had to consider the possibility of Paul coming back.
But when we look at those who have earned the right to be Ryder Cup captains, as we look down the road, and look at the ripple effect that repeating a captain may have on history, really we felt that Corey was the right man for the job at this time and that Corey had earned that right to be The Ryder Cup Captain and we would support him.
And we did discuss with Paul, and like I said earlier today in my statement, Paul Azinger is a friend of ours and a friend of the PGA and a big supporter. We thank him, really, for what a fantastic job he did with that Ryder Cup.
Q. Corey, first of all, welcome to New York. You're obviously still playing well. How about with this selection, how may this or how might this affect your playing schedule going forward the next couple of years?
COREY PAVIN: It's really not going to affect my playing schedule, very much. I'm not going to say at all, but I will continue to play. I'll play next year on the TOUR. I'm an exempt player next year, so I'll play between 20 and 23 events probably next year. It will be a great opportunity for me next year to network with a lot of the players, talk to the players when I'm out there, discuss The Ryder Cup in 2010 and just get a lot of feedback from the players.
Whenever there is a captain around from previous Ryder Cups, sit down and chat with them, and obviously I'll be calling previous captains and talking to them over the course of the next couple of years, as well.
Q. What in your opinion are the qualities that make for a good Ryder Cup Captain?
COREY PAVIN: I guess maybe winning The Ryder Cup I suppose.
You know, there's a lot of things that go into it. There's a lot of planning. We are going to be out picking clothes for the team, and maybe as a side note to the officers, Lisa is going to be helping me a lot. Lisa has an unlimited budget with clothing at home; so I just want to give you guys a fair warning right now about the clothing. (Laughter).
That's one aspect of it going over to Celtic Manor and checking out the golf course, the accommodations and what those are all about. As I said, talking with players, getting everybody in the fold, understanding each player individually, their personalities and eventually obviously who they may want to play with and what good pairings would be and just the nuts and bolts of actually being the captain of the week of The Ryder Cup and doing the pairings, as well.
There are a lot of things and I just want to be the strongest leader I possibly can be for the team and make sure that my players are ready to play and I give them the best opportunity to be ready to play in The Ryder Cup.
Q. I was wondering, you said picking Azinger for two in a row would have a ripple effect on history; can you elaborate on what you meant by that? A lot of us might not see where you're going there.
JIM REMY: I think that what you have to understand is that there are many great players who have earned the right to be Ryder Cup Captains. And should you have a repeat of a captain, chances are that somewhere down the road, one of those great players may miss that opportunity.
And if you look backwards for the last 30 Ryder Cups, we have had 21 winning Ryder Cup Captains who have all won The Ryder Cup without repeating immediately. And if any one of those captains had repeated, it would have changed the future of The Ryder Cup captaincy.
So it's something that you have to keep in mind, and as you look down the road, we have so many great players who have earned that right to be a Ryder Cup Captain that we want to make sure that we support them and hopefully not leave any great player behind.
Q. You've been an assistant captain in the past at The Ryder Cup. Is it too early to consider who your squad is going to be and who is going to help you with this great honor?
COREY PAVIN: Well, it's certainly not too early to think about it. Like I said, I've only had a few weeks to kind of digest all of this. Certainly I have thought about potential assistants, but the list is very, very, very long. But if you have any suggestions, I'm open to them.
But it will be a process. I'm not in any hurry to make that decision. There's going to be a lot of factors that come into play on who my assistants will be. I would like to take my time about it and make a really good call and thoroughly think about it and make sure that I get the right guys for the job.
As soon as I find out or make my decisions, I'll let you guys know and you can all leave your phone numbers, whatever you like, and I'll get to you individually.
JULIUS MASON: Questions? Questions twice? It looks like this just about concludes our news conference, ladies and gentlemen.
We have some very, very special guests with us today, this is one of those things that can only happen in New York. They are one of the most iconic dance troops in the world, stars of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, and they are here to celebrate the return of The Ryder Cup to the United States and to wish our United States Ryder Cup Captain good luck. So ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, please welcome the world famous Radio City Rockettes.
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