Paul McGinley

Paul McGinley alongside Ryder Cup Director Richard Hills (L) and Keith Waters (R), Chief Operating Officer of The European Tour

Transcript: Paul McGinley

European Captain Paul McGinley spoke to the media ahead of the ISPS Handa Wales Open where he will strike the first tee shot of the European qualification process.

            SCOTT CROCKETT:  Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for your attendance today and a very warm welcome here at the Celtic Manor Resort.  The Ryder Cup has a special association with the Celtic Manor Resort, and I think all of us who were here in 2010 to witness that marvellous victory will never forget that day when Europe won The Ryder Cup here.

            Tomorrow sees another chapter in Ryder Cup history at Celtic Manor when the points race for the 2014 team begins.

            Of course the man who leads that team is Paul McGinley, and I'm delighted that Paul, along with Keith Waters, who is the Chief Operating Officer of The European Tour, and Richard Hills, who is the Ryder Cup Director, have joined us today to mark that special event.

            Paul, I did a little calculation last night:  225 days since you were appointed in Abu Dhabi.  Are you relieved this moment is now here; that players can start trying to make your team?

            PAUL McGINLEY:  Yeah, wow, how time flies.  I can't believe it's been that long.  It's been an exciting whirlwind of 225 days.  Every day has been busy one way or another, but a good busy.  It's been an exciting time, not just my career but in my life, as well, for me and my family.

            It's been great; spoke about it last night, a number of milestones along the way on the journey that a captain takes and the start of The Ryder Cup points is another one of those milestones.

            SCOTT CROCKETT:  You're obviously involved in The Ryder Cup in a lot of your career, three as a player and a few as vice‑captain; have any of the elements surprised you as captain?

            PAUL McGINLEY:  Yeah, generally the work that's required has really taken me by surprise, how big The Ryder Cup is behind the scenes.

            As a player, you turn up and all you're concerned about is whether your clothes fit or not; or in my case, normally can you turn up the leg in the trousers.  But now I'm seeing from behind the scenes, from the business point of view, from Richard's point of view, I can see now exactly the work that he and his team put into it.  It's been a real eye‑opener for me and a big learning curve, not just regarding The Ryder Cup, but regarding business, as well, too.

            SCOTT CROCKETT:  All of us know you like to lead from the front, you're hitting the first tee shot in the qualification race, just talk a little bit about that.

            PAUL McGINLEY:  Yeah, it's great to be able do that tomorrow.  I think it's the first time a captain has done it.  I'm playing with the winner of the Tour School and winner of The Challenge Tour, and I think it's a nice European story.  I'm hitting the first shot off, and hopefully I'll be hitting the last shot as well, too.

            Q.  Only one player from the 2012 team is here this week; is there any sense of disappointment in that or are you taking the long view of the whole process?

            PAUL McGINLEY:  Not necessarily.  I think it's always a disappointment when there's not more of the top players playing, but there's very legitimate and understandable reasons with most of the players, top players, playing in the PGA TOUR now and they are in the middle of the FedEx series.  That's understandable.

            Having said that, as we saw from that week, it won't make any difference from the scoring and the standard.  You saw last week, the quality of golf on The European Tour now is phenomenal.  And there's a lot of young players on The European Tour now who are ready to step up to Ryder Cup standard.

            This is a great opportunity for them, not just this week and last week, but going forward for the next nine or 12 months.  I'm not afraid of having rookies on the team, and if those guys step up to the plate and play really well, I'll be delighted to welcome them to the team.

            We'll have to see; we have experienced players playing in America.  We have Francisco playing here this week, as well.  Generally, all I'm concerned about at the end of the day is having the 12 strongest players to represent Europe at this time next year.

            Q.  At the end of the season, the four big events at this year and Sun City, does it concern you that there's an exclusive element to that and there's not going to be that many European Tour players in these events perhaps, and yet maybe to win one of these events halfway through The Ryder Cup, too; does that bother you at all?

            PAUL McGINLEY:  Not necessarily.  I think those events, anybody on the Tour can qualify for those events, and everybody has got an equal opportunity to qualify.  Certainly, it's harder to make the team if you don't make those events.

            But it doesn't really concern me, because I understand that ‑‑ we had a situation a couple years ago where Alvaro Quiros won The Race to Dubai and ended up not making the team.  So even though you may have a big win, it doesn't necessarily mean you're going to make The Ryder Cup Team.  You still have to play extremely well.  Alvaro had a pretty decent season the year after, but it just shows you, it has to be a phenomenal season for 12 months in order to make the team, and that's just one case in point.

            Ultimately I'm looking for the guys who have played the best over the 12‑month period and I'm looking for the guys who have shown the best form over that 12‑month period, because as you all know, form is a very fickle thing in professional sport, whether it be golf or soccer or anything.  Form comes and goes, and I want to have 12 guys who are going to be on form this time next year.

            Q.  When you talk about that, you've got these three captains picks, haven't you.  Be afraid or reticent to say someone like, Emilano ‑‑ or the way Shane drove the drove the ball last week, would you be reticent to pick a rookie who had not sort of qualified, if you see when I mean, from Europe, rather than just those who play in the big events in America who haven't qualified?

            PAUL McGINLEY:  I'm very open about that.  I think Colin Montgomerie picked Edoardo Molinari, and rightly so, and I was part of that decision making.  And to be quite honest it wasn't a very difficult decision to make, because Edoardo had played so well and had showed such form during that summer period and leading up to winning that last counting event when it was all on him and the pressure was on him to do it.  He felt that he had qualified and showed his ability to make the team and rightly so.

            So I have absolutely no hesitation, as I say, about having, A, rookies on the team, or B, picking a rookie.  Generally what I want is players who are playing the best, whether they be from America, playing on American tour or guys playing on The European Tour here.

            Q.  Obviously you've got players over in America, but do you think the home‑based players are missing a trick by not coming here to get a bit of a flying start, shall we say, to the points race?

            PAUL McGINLEY:  Well, I think professional golfers nowadays, it's a little bit different.  It's funny, since I came on Tour, the Tour has grown so substantially and there's such a wide variety of tournaments and sizes of events, and number of tournaments throughout the year.  I think we are up to, in the 40s now, Keith, are we?

            KEITH WATERS:  47.

            PAUL McGINLEY:  47 events.  It's a huge amount of tournaments, and not everybody can be expected to play all 47.  So what the players do is tailor their schedule according to courses that would A, suit them, and B, where they think they are going to play well on.

            Certainly you're trying to make a team or make a schedule so that you're saying, right, these courses suit me, I've played well here in the past and this is where I can get the most points to make the team.  So I think everybody has got their own reasons why, but I think it's just a consequence of the success that we've had of growing the Tour from 15‑odd events to 47 now.

            Q.  How do you explain 2010 to 2014 ‑‑

            PAUL McGINLEY:

            Q.  How you are looking ahead to The Ryder Cup and your previous experiences in The Ryder Cup.

            PAUL McGINLEY:  Yeah, I'm very lucky.  I said it so many times, I've been so fortunate to have a back seat in the last two Ryder Cups as vice captain to Colin Montgomerie and to obviously José Maria, and huge learning curves for me on both occasions.

            And both captains were wonderful to work for and I really enjoyed working with both of them.  They kept all the vice captains very included in all the decision making.  It was really good to be involved.  And certainly when we win on both occasions by a point, it was right down to the wire, the decisions we made, we knew if we got it wrong, it would be costly because there was such a small line between the two teams.

            I think particularly ‑‑ I said it before, particularly, looking back at Medinah last year, it was a big learning curve to see over the first two days how strong the Americans played.  The fact that we didn't think as a team, or as a management team behind the scenes, that we got a whole lot wrong in terms of our tactics.  Yet, we were blown off the golf course with the quality of golf the Americans played the first 1 1/2 days.  That was a big learning curve for me to be behind, the first time I had ever been really behind in a Ryder Cup and to see how we got ourselves out of that hole.

            So, yeah, it's been fortunate.  I've been very fortunate to have those kind of experiences behind me.

            Q.  The Final Series, if players not high enough to The Race to Dubai to get into those four events, plus the Sun City, very, very difficult for them to get into the team.

            PAUL McGINLEY:  Yeah, it is.  It's like everything:  If you don't play well enough to get into the majors, well, then, you can argue, if you're not going to play well enough to make a qualification into the Majors where US PGA, the Top‑100 in the world generally gets into that.

            Then you can argue the point to say, well, those guys are not good enough to play Ryder Cup anyway.  It's same kind of with The Race to Dubai; if you don't really have a strong season on The European Tour, it's kind of hard to justify that you should be a Ryder Cup player.

            Having said that, there's always the potential to go next year and win The Open Championship and that's why it's so special and there is a chance to win the PGA Championship, and all of a sudden you get into all those big events.

            Even if you have a mediocre year ‑‑ as I say, Edoardo Molinari to give one example, a couple years ago where he really wasn't part of the first three or four months of the qualification process, and then all of a sudden from playing well and then getting into bigger events and bigger events and performing well in those bigger events, one thing ticked after another, and he made the team.

            So there are a number of ways to make the team and I certainly would not discount anybody who has the a poor first three or four months because there are other ways to make the team.  As I say, Edoardo proved that a number of years ago.

            Q.  And there's one extra pick, as well.

            PAUL McGINLEY:  There's one extra pick ‑‑ well, Colin Montgomerie had three picks, as well, too, and I know he was mindful of having that extra leeway if somebody like Edoardo was to come through, and then maybe if one of the experienced players who had not quite made the team, he was able to put them in, too.

            So that's why the versatility of having three picks to me was very important, and I was delighted that the committee accepted that I could have three picks rather than the two that José Maria went with.

            Q.  Do you expect to see a very similar lineup to the one in Medinah in terms of players making the team?

            PAUL McGINLEY:  The odds are if you're a bookie, and bookies don't get things wrong very often, they would heavily back the 12 players who made Medinah because they have all continued to go on and maintain their position in the World Rankings and go forward and have success since.

            So you know, if it was to be those 12 players turned out, I'd be delighted.  But at the same time, they all know they have to earn their place.  Everybody is starting from zero.

            And at the same time, I think generally if you look back over history of Ryder Cups, it's very, very rare you have a Ryder Cup Team without at least one rookie in it.

            So the chances; again, if you're a bookie, you would back the fact that there will be some rookies in the team.  Maybe one, maybe two, maybe three; we don't know yet.  And if they do, and if they play well enough to qualify for the team or play well enough to qualify for one of the picks, I'll certainly be delighted to have them on the team.

            I'm not afraid, as we have seen in the Solheim Cup, six rookies on the team.  I'm not afraid of having rookies on the team.  Rookies nowadays are very different from when I started on Tour 20 years ago.  A rookie who makes the team will be very welcome into the team environment and into The Ryder Cup.

            Q.  The second questions was:  You played in the massive nine‑point victories in '04 and '06; can you see that happening again?

            PAUL McGINLEY:  Eight points I think, wasn't it.

Q.  No.

            PAUL McGINLEY:  Was it nine?  Okay.  I stand corrected.  Wow.

            Q.  Can see you that happening again, basically, is the question.

            PAUL McGINLEY:  Can I see that happening again?  I mean, it's unlikely.  We won the last two by a point.  I mean, let's get the perspective right.

            I think went through a golden period where everything that could go right, did go right for us.  We were obviously fortunate.  The emotion of what happened in the K Club, we got momentum, things just ‑‑ everything that could go right for us on the golf course that week did.  Even a hurricane blew through in the middle of that, too, which caused problems.  But on the golf course, it was serene.  We were very fortunate to win by such huge margins.

            To be quite honest, I don't think the margin between the two teams was ever that big.  Just happened to be, the results seemed to go that way.  And as I said so many times, the last two Ryder Cups, we've won by a point so the margin between the two teams is very small and I think this is going to be a very strong American Team.  I'm under absolutely no illusions; that Captain Watson is going to captain very strongly just as Davis Love did last year and Corey Pavin did the year before.

            I'm aware that we are really up against it and that we are going to have to play extraordinary golf to win this Ryder Cup.  In terms of winning by record margin, that's the last thing in my head.  If I won by half a point, I would be absolutely doing cartwheels down the fairway, never mind winning by a record margin.

            Q.  Paul, you seem a very charming, approachable man.  How difficult will it be if the time comes for you to show your teeth and show another side to your personality?

            PAUL McGINLEY:  I understand that along the journey that I've spoken about that all captains take, some tough decisions have to be made.  Some have been made already and some will be made going forward.  I'm prepared for that, and I'm prepared for the fact that not everybody is going to agree with my decisions.

            As long as I do it with the right integrity and I do it for the right reasons, as I say, I've been very fortunate, I've been involved in five of the last six Ryder Cups, and we won all five that I was involved in.  To me, I've seen the template; I've seen what works, and I just want to make that template better and roll it out again.

            I understand; I've seen Colin Montgomerie and José Maria, for example, making tough decisions, having to do that.  I've learned from how they made the decisions, how they approach them, and I intend to do the same.

            And I'll meet any challenges I have head on and I understand that, and I understand that not everybody is going to be in agreement with the decisions that I make.  But I make it because of ‑‑ based on experience of what I've seen and based on my own instinct and build a good, strong team around me that I can bounce ideas off.

            It's very important; I'm a great believer in bouncing ideas off of people and not being single‑minded, and I can assure you that any decision I make will not be just made on the hoof.  It will be made with a lot of thought and with a lot of bouncing off people that I respect around me.

            Q.  You've got the Seve Trophy early October and now EurAsia, as well, to look at players; are you going to attend the tournament in Malaysia as you would have at Seve Trophy?

            PAUL McGINLEY:  It looks like, yes.  It's only been announced yesterday, so we are still in discussions about how the exact week is going to evolve.  But certainly as Ryder Cup Captain, I will be involved to a degree; I don't know what, but I will be involved in that tournament.  I think probably Keith can answer questions more on that EurAsia than I can.  It was just no announced yesterday, two days ago.

            Q.  If someone performed outstandingly in those two as a match‑play player, but maybe not so well in The Race to Dubai or whatever, would that come into your thinking?

            PAUL McGINLEY:  EurAsia Cup is interesting, because unlike the Seve Trophy, there's two picks and it will be interesting to see where we go with those two picks and how it's going to be involved.

            Safe to say that I will be involved as a figurehead for that tournament, absolutely.  When Europe are represented I'm keen to be involved in that week, and as I say, Keith can answer any questions that you have on that.

            Q.  Just on the weather subject.  Obviously we had the problems here in Celtic Manor a few years ago.  Are there any sort of contingency plans in place ‑‑ we had wonderful weather last week in Scotland but might not be able to rely on that.

            PAUL McGINLEY:  One of the buzz words I've learned from being around Richard Hills is contingency (laughing).  There's always a backup plan.  I've learned that, very much so.  I think The Ryder Cup in Gleneagles will be no different, but we are not anticipating the deluge of rain that we had here.  We might have some mist, but I'll be disappointed if we get the deluge that we did here in Wales.  Safe to say from Richard's side ‑‑

            RICHARD HILLS:  Having just completed a survey with NBC, ESPN and the Golf Channel, the Americans think the weather in Gleneagles will be fantastic.

            PAUL McGINLEY:  So, yeah, contingencies; there's contingencies in place left, right and center, all around, yeah, absolutely.

            SCOTT CROCKETT:  Paul, thanks.

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