An Interview With: LUKE DONALD, SERGIO GARCIA, RORY McILROY and IAN POULTER
KELLY ELBIN: European team members Ian Poulter, Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia join us after completion of team play in the 39th Ryder Cup. It is now 10 6 United States, and in large part that deficit was cut late in the day to four points thanks to the play of these four gentlemen. Guys, great playing. Ian, you looked like the heart and soul of the team at the end of the congratulations. Comments on the last few holes, particularly all the putts that you holed, please.
IAN POULTER: Yeah, I mean, it was incredible finish to what was looking like a very mundane day.
I kept saying to Rory, he kept saying to me, we just need something. We just need something. We was down, we was two down, nothing was happening, putts weren't going in, and he hit a fantastic 3 iron into 13 to about eight feet, hit a great putt, a little bit left to right, went in, and that was the spark we needed to ignite what was a bizarre finish.
KELLY ELBIN: Rory, some comments, please, about those last few holes, particularly the back nine.
RORY McILROY: Yeah, as Ian said, we just needed something to get going. We were a little flat out there playing at the back of the pack. We had a couple good chances on 11, didn't go in. We had a good chance on 12. And then I think getting that birdie on 13 really gave us the little bit of momentum, the spark that we needed.
I could have just walked into the clubhouse. It was the Poults show from there on in, and it was just a joy to watch.
KELLY ELBIN: Luke, big lead early for you and Sergio and a real battle down the stretch with Tiger and Steve.
LUKE DONALD: It was. We got off to a 4 up lead through 9, and they played great coming down the stretch. They birdied the tough holes on the back nine, 12, 13, 16. They made it tough on us. But we hung in there, and we were able to match birdies on 17, which was key to us, and hold on there at the last. That was big. Having those of these matches turn our way has really given the European side a lift that we needed. It's given us a heartbeat for tomorrow.
Certainly the atmosphere in the team room is a lot more positive, and we're excited to go out there and make a good run for tomorrow.
KELLY ELBIN: Sergio, comment on that emotional lift that you all got at the end of the day.
SERGIO GARCIA: Yeah, like Luke said, obviously winning these two matches was very, very big, because it gives us a decent chance tomorrow. We obviously need to play amazing and win at least eight points, but I'd rather take having to win eight points than 10. We're happy about that, and we're going to give it our best shot.
You know, I felt a little bit better today, finally hit some good shots, and unfortunately didn't roll a couple putts in on the back nine when I needed to, to help my partner. But fortunately for us, he was in unbelievable form coming in, and I was just trying to make sure that I didn't hurt his back from riding him the whole back nine.
Q. Poults, I know you've won a match play, but what is it about this format and also this moment that makes you rise to the occasion like you did today, and do you even surprise yourself when it happens?
IAN POULTER: For sure. Yeah, I mean, I surprise myself. I mean, match play, I love the fight of it. I mean, you get to stair your opponent straight in the face, and sometimes that's what you need to do.
The Ryder Cup, I've said it so many times, it means an awful lot to every one of us. You know, there's a lot of passion in that team room, and there's reasons why we want to keep that trophy as long as possible. This event is just so big to every one of us, and we love it. I love it.
Q. Luke, setting aside Ian's performance, it looks like the Europeans in the afternoon session sort of figured out green speeds a little bit that had been a problem earlier. Has there been any conversation about making adjustments on these greens as the two days have gone through?
LUKE DONALD: Not really. We were caught off guard a little bit yesterday afternoon. They rolled them and didn't let us know, I believe. I didn't play in the afternoon.
We knew coming in that they were going to make them as fast as possible. The Americans are more comfortable in general than the majority of our players, even though most of us play in the U.S. now.
I think the afternoon they did seem to slow a little bit just because it was late in the day. I don't know if that helped us or not. But we finally made some putts, and that was nice. We're the ones who usually make the putts, and the Americans have done it to us the last couple days.
It's nice to, again, leave tonight with the momentum that we will carry forward to tomorrow. Seeing those putts go in, that's certainly given us a lift.
Q. Ian, can you just tell me what exactly was going through your mind over that last putt? Was there any doubt whatsoever?
IAN POULTER: No. I got me teammates right behind me. I'm not going to miss it for them, am I? Come on, it was an outside right putt, and she went in.
I mean, it's
RORY McILROY: I thought he pushed it (laughter.)
IAN POULTER: You never know. It was getting dark. You know, it was getting a little tricky to see the line, but it was in the right place, and for me, to have a putt that's just slightly right to left as a right hander is a good putt to have. I mean, the speed wasn't an issue, it was downhill, so I just had to obviously focus on the line.
That point is huge for the team, as Luke said. It's given the whole team a massive boost, to be able to go into tomorrow knowing that you can win from this position. It's been done in the past, it's going to be done again, and we've definitely all got a chance tomorrow to go out there and try and get our hands on that trophy.
KELLY ELBIN: Ian, what was the approximate length of that putt on 18, please?
IAN POULTER: 15 feet.
Q. Luke, can you talk about 17 and what was going through your mind when you saw Tiger's tee shot?
LUKE DONALD: Tiger hit it close. I thought I'd better hit it close, too. I was hoping to hole it.
SERGIO GARCIA: You pushed it a little (smiling).
LUKE DONALD: I had a good yardage, good club. Felt very comfortable all day today, I don't know. I just felt good about everything that I was doing and just got up there, picked a line and hit it. It looked good all the way.
Q. Rory, how would you describe the look that Ian gets in these matches, especially when the putts start dropping?
RORY McILROY: It's intense, it's very intense. I don't know, he just gets that look in his eye, especially when he makes one of those big putts, and he's fist pumping, and he'll just look right through you. It's just great to see, great to see the enthusiasm and the passion that he has for this event, like all of us do. But it definitely this event definitely brings the best out of Ian, and I'm glad it did today because if it wasn't for him, we wouldn't be in this position, and we'd have a very tough task tomorrow to try and make up those points.
Q. Ian, it seems like you're a very polarizing figure in the Ryder Cup, and American fans like to give you a hard time. You feed off of that energy, good or bad.
IAN POULTER: Yeah, that's fine by me. I guess I've had a bull's eye on my back for a while. I'm tough to play against in match play, that's important. Guys want to beat me, that's fine. I want to beat them just as bad as they want to beat me, and I'm not going to roll over. I'm going to go down blazing, it's dead simple.
I love this format, I love the Ryder Cup, I love all my teammates, my captain, vice captains, and you know what, you've got to give it 100 percent. I've got three weeks off after this; I can rest.
Q. I want to know tomorrow morning when you wear the clothes with the colors of Seve Ballesteros, will it be motivational for you?
SERGIO GARCIA: Well, well, it would be, but I don't think it needs. It definitely would be an extra motivation, but even if we didn't, if we weren't wearing Seve's favorite colors, we'd still be as motivated because we know what we can do tomorrow. We know it's going to be a tough day, and we have to be as motivated as possible to try to retain the Cup.
Obviously having Seve in our minds and in our hearts makes it even better.
I felt like he probably helped us a little bit today, and we're going to need a lot of his help tomorrow. Hopefully he'll be there for us.
Q. Ian, it's a long time to go, but at what point did you decide to get the crowd going on the first tee like Bubba did, and what was that like?
IAN POULTER: It was a shock to the system, I guess. I've done it once in Phoenix, and Bubba done it yesterday. I knew he was going to do it again today. I guess I had to get in there first. It's very daunting to stand there and hit a first tee shot. It's even more daunting when they're screaming and going bananas, but he was going to do it to us, so I done it back to him.
Q. Sergio, you were on that '99 team that had a 10 6 lead going into the final day. Take me back to how you and the team felt then and just how difficult it was to accept that you lost the following day.
SERGIO GARCIA: There's no doubt that it was hard, because when you have it so close to the palm of your hands or the tip of your fingers, obviously they take it away from you and it's hard. But it was still an amazing experience, and it was my first Ryder Cup. There were so many great moments about it.
You know, I hope that we can make them feel something similar. Hopefully we'll get off to a good start and see how they react, and then we'll see what happens from there. You know, it would be nice to kind of give it back the way they did it to us in '99.
Q. Ian, if there was a World Ranking system solely for match play, where would you rank yourself?
IAN POULTER: Zero.
SERGIO GARCIA: It's better than one.
IAN POULTER: Of course I'd be pretty good, but there's not, so
RORY McILROY: Really? (Laughing).
IAN POULTER: I'm not, I'm just 28 in the world.
KELLY ELBIN: But really good today. Gentlemen, thank you so much.
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