An Interview With: PETER HANSON
KELLY ELBIN: Peter Hanson of Europe joining us at the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club. This will be Peter's second Ryder Cup experience. He was a member of the victorious European Team in 2010.
Peter is coming off a victory earlier this month at the KLM Open, and also has had a tie for third at the Masters in April and a tie for 7th at the PGA Championship in August.
Peter, welcome. You must be feeling good about your game the week of The Ryder Cup.
PETER HANSON: Thank you, yes, nice to be here. We checked into the hotel yesterday and just, you know, great to finally get going. It feels like it's Ryder Cup week and really looking forward to get on the golf course and see what it's like.
KELLY ELBIN: Can you talk a little about the state of your game and how you feel about the way you've been playing, particularly with the win earlier this month?
PETER HANSON: Yeah, that was nice, to get that win and get a bit of confidence going. That was a big thing. And then the last two weeks, been back home at Lake Nona down in Orlando practicing. So me and Ian Poulter and Graeme McDowell have been hitting balls and playing a few rounds just trying to get ready.
Q. You mentioned obviously the win in Holland, and we know there were some difficult circumstances surrounding that win. Can you just talk a little about that and hopefully give us an update; your son is doing better now?
PETER HANSON: Yeah, it was a very strange week. If I take it from the beginning when I finished 7th at the PGA, I kind of looked at the numbers and I saw I was going to make the team, and I kind of set up a goal of six weeks to really prepare for Ryder Cup. And in those six weeks, there was a tournament in Switzerland and a tournament in KLM, and at the weekend, on Friday, my little son, he was put into hospital with a virus, and it just changed my perspective completely. And with the buildup to here of course, it even affected the tournament over there.
But in the end, I sometimes this game is just a strange game, because when you think about other stuff in between shots, I was thinking about him all the way around, especially Saturday. And just changed everything and all of the sudden, golf doesn't become that important anymore. So that might be one of the reasons why I won that tournament.
KELLY ELBIN: How about an update on your son; is he doing okay now?
PETER HANSON: Yeah, he's doing a lot better. They got out of hospital the Monday I got back home, which was nice. He's of course lost quite a bit of weight. He's turning two now in a couple of months, so getting stronger and getting back where he was before.
KELLY ELBIN: Good news, thank you.
Q. How have you found American golf fans over the years? And Ryder Cup fans in particular, do you find them particularly hostile and difficult to handle, or how do you go about handling that dynamic?
PETER HANSON: I think I have to wait and see. It's my first Ryder Cup over here, and playing at home last time was just amazing with the crowd behind you. So I think that's going to be one of the critical tests for our side and of course we discussed this quite a bit within the team room and we get some boys in the team that played quite a few Ryder Cups over here, and we are trying to get as much information as possible of what to expect and how to handle the different situation playing over here.
Q. José was telling us yesterday that there was that you were going to have your first meeting last night. What was the atmosphere like in the room? Was it businesslike from the off? Was there a bit of fun, or a bit of craic as we say in Ireland?
PETER HANSON: It started off very informal. We have to go through everything and everybody was getting together. We had a few guys coming over from Europe and a few of us came down from Florida and a few from Atlanta. So we just were gathering the troops, and a lot of information for the first hour, but then, you know, atmosphere was very relaxed over dinner and quite a few laughs.
So it feels like the team is really coming along and feels like we have a great team spirit going.
Q. I was just wondering, what was the gift from José to the team?
PETER HANSON: The gift, I think the only thing we have, we know, or we think we know, it's going to be a tough match. So I think we are just trying to get everybody ready to be ready Friday when it starts, and I think our side is maybe a bit more open this time with the pairings. When we played two years ago, maybe it was a bit more obvious who was playing with who.
So I think there's a very, very open mindset on the European side of who is going to play with who.
Q. I was wondering, what gift did José Maria give the team?
PETER HANSON: No, no gifts. No, this is tough times. (Laughter.) No gifts.
Q. José Maria was talking about days of yore when Europeans played primarily in Europe only and they would assemble and get on an airplane and come over and many of them had very little experience playing on these shores; it's so different now because so many of you guys are playing over here regularly, get to know the U.S. setups better, and only assembled in the hotel last night. I know you don't experience those old days but talk about the team chemistry but also in the context of the intimidation factor coming over here; and these days you guys do know the U.S. courses and so forth?
PETER HANSON: Yeah, you're right, I think it's completely different now, and I think we play each other more often than we maybe did before, before the World Golf Championships and all these.
In the old days, it was pretty much only the four majors where we got together and played with the Americans, and now it seems, like you said, a lot of us play a lot of golf over here. But still, I mean, the key aspect is still to get the team spirit together even though we are flying in from different places. I think that's why it was so important to spend a lot of time together yesterday, already Monday, and try to we know each other so well, but still get that good team feeling going.
Q. Davis was speaking yesterday and talking about what he anticipates to be a very, very raucous supportive crowd, because Chicago is such a strong sporting city. Now, you've been on the other side of it and you've been the beneficiary of hometown support and so forth, and I know you haven't, as you said, done it over here, but talk a little bit about how much that advantaged The European Team two years ago and the anticipation of how it might help the American Team or hinder the European Team this year.
PETER HANSON: Of course, it's very hard for me to answer that question when I haven't played here. But of course, like I said, we talked a lot about it, and there's no doubt, playing at home is a big advantage. We saw it last time in Wales, and we have seen it over here in the past. So I think it's just something we have to deal with and, you know, we have to be stronger this time than we were last time when we won by one point.
So if we are going to get that Cup back overseas, we know we have to perform very well.
Q. To help you prepare for this, are you relying on what others are telling you, or have you made a point of watching videos of matches, as well?
PETER HANSON: Yeah, I've watched quite a few of the videos. Golf Channel have been very nice to show me all these over the last couple of weeks (chuckling).
I've been watching quite a bit. It's nice. It gets you revved up and it gets you in a state of mind where you want to be coming into these matches. I mean, to really prepare for Ryder Cup, I've taken the approach, like I said, for those six weeks just to be as ready as I can ever be physically, mentally, golf ready, just practicing enormous hours.
We've seen it over in Europe with the guys that played over those two tournaments or three tournaments with Switzerland, Holland, Italy, with the amount of practice that goes into it; I think if you come here and you feel really as prepared as you ever can be, that's pretty much all you can do, and then you try to go out and enjoy the golf and just see what happens.
Q. You seemed a little worried about your form at various stages this year, but you've played particularly well in the majors. For this week, what is the state of your game coming in?
PETER HANSON: I'm feeling very, very confident. Still maybe not 100 percent with my game off the tee, but the rest of game is tuning up and I think that victory in Holland was a big confidence boon.
It really started again at the PGA, when I was up in contention, of course when Rory ran away with it. But that was really the start of the buildup and building a bit of form coming in here.
Q. Just following up the question about the home crowd. How much do you know about the Chicago sports fans a little bit here? Do you expect them to be extra raucous at all?
PETER HANSON: Being a Swede, I know a lot about the hockey team, of course, up here, and I know it's a massive sports city with two baseball teams, I believe, and the American football team and hockey teams. I know this is a sporting city. We are expecting the crowds to come out and enjoy the matches and enjoy the golf. And like I said before, we're looking forward to the challenge of playing away, and for me as a rookie playing in America, it's just going to be great fun playing this week.
Q. How different is it coming here this year compared to last time since you were a rookie then, not now.
PETER HANSON: Yeah, exactly. It's very different playing a second one. I had actually never been to Ryder Cup before I played in Wales, so I didn't really know what to expect. When you know what it's all about, just walking into the media center and seeing the size of it and all you guys showing up and the attention that Ryder Cup brings; I think preparation wise, I'm a lot better prepared for this one, but on the other hand, I also know what kind of pressure it is and how much this means. Sometimes it can be nice to be a rookie and just sit in the back of a room and watch the other guys.
This time, we've only got one rookie on the side, Nicolas Colsaerts, so he can take the back seat and enjoy it and watch. I think the 11 of us that have done this before, it's going to be a very different thing and we are going to be a lot more involved; talking about myself and Rory of course, being the world No. 1 but was a rookie last time, and Francesco Molinari and Martin Kaymer. We have quite a few guys that have played in ones now and really know what it's about.
Q. You just said that for a rookie, it's quite difficult the first time. Now you have Nicolas on your team. Do you have any tips for him? Are you going to walk him through this?
PETER HANSON: Yeah, I think Nicolas, he's going to be a great asset to our side; with the power he has and especially his personality I think goes very well with The Ryder Cup. He's a very relaxed guy, enjoys the attention and all the buzz around it. But like I said, still when you play your first one, you come in, you listen and you learn and you take it in and then you go out and try to win as many points as you can.
I think the picks we had were very good with Ian and Nicolas. So with Ian's emotion and his mental aspect of playing match play and then with Nicolas' game, that maybe we only have Rory McIlroy with that kind of power on our side.
Q. Peter, have you thought that José Maria may come to you and say, I want you to tee off first on Friday, and if so, has it kept you awake? If you haven't thought about it, what do you think about it?
PETER HANSON: Yeah, that would be nice. I was down in Wales watching Kaymer hit his tee shot; to play the first tee ball in The Ryder Cup, I don't know if we've got the honor or if America hits the first one.
KELLY ELBIN: Europe has the honor.
PETER HANSON: I thought my first tee shot when I played with Miguel in the foursome was very nerve wracking, and I just can't imagine what it would be like to hit that first one.
But we kind of love the nerve, as well, when you tee it up in majors, and this obviously being one step up on the Richter Scale. Yeah, something to get ready for, just try to put a nice, easy swing on it and see if you can find the ball.
KELLY ELBIN: Peter Hanson of Europe, thank you very much, and best of luck this week.
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