An Interview With: DUSTIN JOHNSON, MATT KUCHAR, WEBB SIMPSON and BUBBA WATSON
KELLY ELBIN: Four members of the United States Ryder Cup team joining us at the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club, after two days of team matches the United States leads 10 6 heading into 12 singles matches on Sunday. Joining us we have Webb Simpson, Bubba Watson, Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson. Gentlemen, I'd like to get comments from each of you on the play today, your play if you'd like in particular, but also just the general scene and excitement out there. Webb, start with you, please.
WEBB SIMPSON: Yeah, Bubba and I's afternoon was a lot different than the morning. He played well this morning, I just didn't make any putts. We fought back, got back in it and we took them to 18. It was tough to lose that one on 18. But we rebounded well. I was proud of us for coming out this afternoon and doing what we like to do, make birdies. We made a bunch of birdies and just had a great afternoon and watched some good golf with our teammates coming in.
KELLY ELBIN: Bubba, you and Webb had a great start to the afternoon. Looked like it was a lot of fun out there.
BUBBA WATSON: Yeah, it was. Watching Webb play this afternoon in best ball format, I just was helping him read putts, seven birdies, he made all the putts. I birdied the par 5s because he can't reach them, so I had to stick up there.
But no, it was fun. We had a blast, and this morning we just couldn't get in a rhythm. We pushed it to 18, but we just couldn't get in a rhythm, just couldn't make the putts that we needed to make and they just beat us. And then this afternoon we jelled well together and obviously he made a lot of key putts.
KELLY ELBIN: Dustin, we saw a lot of emotion from you on 17. Talk a little bit about that and what the afternoon meant to you.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Yeah, it was great. My man, my partner here, Matt, he kept us in it all day. I pitched in a few holes here or there, but not too much. I was definitely riding on his back for most of the day.
And then really hit some good shots on the back nine, and then obviously that putt on 17 was probably one of the biggest putts I've ever made.
KELLY ELBIN: Matt, obviously a lot of excitement out there on the course. How does it feel to have a four point lead going into Sunday?
MATT KUCHAR: Yeah, awfully exciting. We are in great position. We're playing good every session. We've got a great bunch of guys. I was excited to team up again with Dustin. I think he and I make a great team. It was fun getting a chance to play a couple matches with him. But singles tomorrow, we've got a nice lead, but there's 12 points up for grabs tomorrow.
I think we'll enjoy the fact that we had another good day and make sure we come out tomorrow focused because with 12 points on the line, there's still a lot that can happen.
Q. Now that the partners portion of this is over, how long have you known that you were all going to go out in every session with the same partner? Did you know that from the beginning of the week?
BUBBA WATSON: No. He said that he said we could change. We always we told him a couple people that we'd like to play with and he said we could change at any minute, just depending on who feels what and if somebody is tired, somebody is sick, anything like that.
And so he made the decision to stay with us instead of change us.
MATT KUCHAR: He basically made it clear if things were working, they were going to stay the same, and for the most part all the teams just got on really well.
Q. Dustin, how antsy have you and Matt been the last two mornings having to wait to play your afternoon matches?
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Well, you know, last night was nice. We got I was probably a little more antsy the first day, just because we've been practicing all week and you kind of you're kind of ready to get out there. But you know, I was real pumped up about going out in the afternoon. Obviously we had a good day on Friday afternoon, and then this morning I was up early and then came out and watched some of the guys for a few holes and then went back in and did my normal warm up to get ready for the afternoon match.
Q. Do any of you have a preference for when you go off tomorrow? Do you want to go early? Do you want to go middle? Do you want to go late?
WEBB SIMPSON: Bubba is going to caddie for me so I'm not sure what time you want to go.
BUBBA WATSON: If you're going to putt like you did this morning I'm not caddying.
Any time is good, it doesn't matter. You're going to have to play good whenever you go, if you're dead last, if you're first off, if you're in the middle you have to win the point. It doesn't matter when you go you have to play good.
DUSTIN JOHNSON: Bubba is going to go first I would imagine because he likes to play first, him and Webb, so they'd be towards the front I would imagine.
Q. A lot of comparisons are made to '99 at Brookline with this deficit. Did any of you watch live that Ryder Cup at Brookline when the Americans came back on Sunday, and how much different is it that this is an American team on American soil that has the lead as opposed to the Europeans, who had the lead at Brookline?
BUBBA WATSON: It was 13 years ago. I don't really think it can be compared to it. I mean, I watched it live, though. It was crazy what they did.
But obviously we're all playing good as a team. We're going to have to keep playing good as a team. But no, I mean, you can't really compare. It's just a different time, different setting, different everything.
MATT KUCHAR: I remember '99. I was a junior in college at Georgia Tech. I remember watching David Duval get so animated and so fired up, he was a Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket as well, and watching David Duval who was stoic like a Jason Dufner on the golf course, but for him to get riled up, I remember him pulling the Hulk Hogan kind of jacket and getting the crowd to liven up and him pumping his fist. There's a lot of memories from '99, and I think we have to know that that sort of deficit is overcomable. We have to go out and still play some really good golf tomorrow and make sure that we don't let a comeback like that happen, happen to us.
Q. With the exception of Matt, it didn't look like the strategy of trying to drive the green on 15 today was really working out for people, and I wonder if there might be any rethinking of that strategy for tomorrow.
BUBBA WATSON: Well, I didn't play 15, but if you looked at the strategy, the strategy was to get it in that bunker. Matt hit an unbelievable shot to get it on that green. To get it on that green is
DUSTIN JOHNSON: I flew it over that green and it went pin high left, which was fine. I had a pretty easy chip so I was pretty happy with where I was. But depending on if the flag is on the left or not, that's the only time you really don't want to be in the bunker.
BUBBA WATSON: Right, so everybody was trying to hit it the bunker today. That's their goal, because that pin placement from the fairway was almost impossible.
Q. Can you guys speak to the effect of momentum that happened today, and it was so noisy, there were so many roars, can you talk about the effect that has, and just looking at the board and seeing how much red was up there?
MATT KUCHAR: Match play is definitely a momentum game. You get on some swings. It was great seeing a lot of red out there early. I know even just in the morning matches, we were Dustin and I were watching on TV and seeing all the red kind of got me fired up. And then in the afternoon getting out there and seeing Bubba and Webb off to a great start, it gets you fired up. It certainly helps to see guys doing well.
Q. If anybody told you you'd be leading 10 6 going into Sunday and Tiger Woods hadn't contributed a point yet, would you have believed them?
MATT KUCHAR: We've got a great team. We've got 12 really good players. It's hard to believe Tiger hasn't gotten a point pairing up with Stricker. They make a great team. But we've got 12 really good players. Yeah, it's absolutely doable.
Q. Bubba, were you surprised Ian Poulter tried the scream while I hit the drive on 1 this morning?
BUBBA WATSON: No, I'm not surprised at all. You know, that's so much respect for that guy. That guy is an amazing talent. I loved it. I loved that he did it, and I was behind him pumping the crowd up, letting telling them to roar. That's what he wanted. So he did it. I thought it was great. I think it's great for the game of golf. It made it fun, and I love that he did it. You saw now nerve wracking that is when you actually do it. It was cool to see.
You get jacked up. You get pumped up. You get very excited, and adrenaline starts coming through you, and the ball could go anywhere (laughing).
Q. Is there any concern of European momentum going into tomorrow given they got those last two points tonight?
WEBB SIMPSON: I think our start tomorrow is going to be big. I think if we can get some guys playing good early and get the crowd loud like they were today, I mean, I think that's going to be big. Not that one match is more important than the other, but we want to keep the momentum on our side like it is right now. Even though the Europeans did finish strong, our guys were making birdies at the end, too. Poults birdied the last five holes, and Zach birdied 17, Duf birdies 18. We're still there's a lot of positives out of those matches that they were able to grab at the end.
Momentum I think is going to be everything tomorrow.
KELLY ELBIN: Webb, Bubba, Dustin, Matt, thank you very much.
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