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An Interview with Hal Sutton - Day 2 - Afternoon

September 18, 2004

JULIUS MASON: Hat Sutton, ladies and gentlemen. Ready to take your questions and I see you're ready to ask them. Let's go on mic No. 3 first, please.

Q. I couldn't help but notice you just went 1 through 12 on the rankings for your pairings tomorrow. How come?

HAL SUTTON: Well, actually I'm proud of you. First question is that you noticed that. (Laughter.)

That was as good as any way. I put as strong of guys as we've got to put out first. So, you know, that was as good as any way I could think of to do it.

Q. The captain two years ago bottom-loaded the order and you've done exactly the opposite and put your big men right at the front is that because there was a lot of criticism of your predecessor?

HAL SUTTON: That had nothing to do with it. (Laughing).

How about a deficit of this order. That had a lot to do with it.

Q. I'm assuming Tiger is not coming in here; is that correct today?


Q. Is there a reason why he doesn't come in two days in a row and is that something you have any control over that you might ask him to do or is that -- what's your reaction to that? Obviously he's a leader of your team and he's letting his other teammates have to answer questions, obviously some unpleasant questions because it has not gone well. That's the first thing I'm wondering. And secondly I wanted to know -- well go, ahead, answer that.

HAL SUTTON: I think they have talked to him. There were some quotes that have been brought down. He's obviously disappointed with what's gone on.

You know, he's probably scratching his head like the rest of us are. So, you know, I'm not going to push these guys. I pushed them as hard as we could today. You know, we almost responded this morning and we lost the energy after that.

So we'll see if we can gather something up tonight. We'll have to gather up more than anybody's ever gathered up before.

Q. Just as a follow, Hal, unrelated to that, the last match of this morning, how pivotal was that in the way the day fell? Because as you said, your earlier quote was you almost were dynamite and you would have been if you had won that match. How do you think it might have played for the afternoon?

HAL SUTTON: I think it took some energy away, but more importantly, what it did, it gave them energy. And you know, they fed off of the fact that they held us off on that.

I mean, actually it was a morale victory for them because they felt defeated all the way around all morning long till the last hole. Momentum switched right there.

Q. Can you explain your thinking of putting Tiger Woods and Mickelson out first? Wouldn't it have been better to invert the order, these are two of your weakest players this week.

HAL SUTTON: You're full of great questions, aren't you? Aren't you the same guy that asked me, would we concede? (Laughter.)

You know what, when you ask such stupid questions, you remember a face. (Laughter.)

So, no comment. (Shaking head).

Q. When you look at World Rankings or major wins, it looks like a gap between the teams, what's wrong with the World Ranking as a measure of people's ability or is there anything wrong with it?

HAL SUTTON: You know, that's a debated point for a long time, what's wrong with the World Rankings.

I'm not sure what's wrong with the World Rankings. It's such a convoluted mess that I'm not sure that I can figure it out. You've first got to understand it a little bit to decide what's wrong with it. I don't know.

Q. The first thing you said when you came in here yesterday was, "Well, we made history." You have an opportunity to make history again and I wonder if that's what you hang your hat onto night when you talk to your team?

HAL SUTTON: Absolutely that's what we hang our hat on.

I'm kind of getting some strange questions here about why Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson off.

You know, in my mind, the Top 3 players that I've put down here is the strongest players we've got. We have a large deficit that we have to overcome, and maybe the Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson that y'all know hasn't actually been quite there this week, but there's a good chance they might be there tomorrow. And if they are, you know, what's going to happen? I mean, they will probably play well.

I can tell you right now that those guys right there know that if they do show up, they will be a formidable opponent.

So, you know, one thing that I can tell you after two years of doing this, I'm not too worried about being second-guessed, because this whole world is about second-guessing. Everybody else has got the answer but nobody's been walking in these shoes, nobody has been walking in these shoes. It's easy to second-guess.

Q. You said the other day one of the reasons you put foursomes in the afternoon is that traditionally Americans have done better in that format and you might want to have a little bit left if you needed it. I think you're down 6-2, just what do you attribute that to the last two days, the Europeans playing better in foursomes?

HAL SUTTON: I attribute the whole deficit to better putting by the Europeans.

You know, we missed a lot of fairways at inopportune times. You know, they have just outplayed the Americans so far. There's really no other way to put it.

Q. Padraig Harrington had said that Bernhard on every par 3, he's told him what club to use, what shot to hit, where to hit it on the green, how much of that type of coaching have you given over the last two days?

HAL SUTTON: I gave them as much as I could give 'em. I was on foot today because I wanted to show them how much I cared. I didn't get over to 17 in time to tell the first group that went through there to make sure that you hit it out to the right because you can get it to the hole. I just didn't get there on time; I was on foot.

But 14 I did it. 13 I did it. When I could get over there to them. You know, Bernhard had a luxury. He had a big lead. So it wasn't as imperative that he be there for everybody that needed the encouragement.

I felt like the strong encouragement was better than being there to tell them where to hit it. These guys are grown men. So I tried to encourage a lot more than I did that. Although I did a bunch of that. I told everybody on 14, 13, nobody had hit the backboard. When I could get out there after I made sure everybody got off on the first tee, I went to the third hole and said everybody has missed it left, make sure you hit it to the right.

Q. Did you use all of your good stuff up last night at the team hotel and do you honestly think there's anything that you can possibly say to this team right now?

HAL SUTTON: There's 12 guys that know what they have got to do. You know, I think all I'm going to do is tell them what they have already heard in their own mind. Their little person in their mind speaking to them has already said everything that I can say.

You know, I'm not going to whip these guys. These guys have already been whipped in terms of, you know, how they have played, you know. I think they will respond tomorrow and play great. Whether they will play great enough to win, I mean, that's pretty great in order to win.

You know, these guys are all champions. They want to win. They are down about the way where we're sitting right now. But they are still good people. I've enjoyed being part of their team.

Q. You had a lot to do with kick-starting what happened in '99 on Sunday, getting out there early, what are the similarities or differences between the two situations, other than the fact that you're behind by a whole lot?

HAL SUTTON: Well, there's very little similar to it, to be honest with you. The Country Club's greens were easier to putt than these greens are.

These are difficult greens to make putts on. So, in a way, you're kind of waiting and playing off of another guy's mistake, and you're trying to make sure you don't do something just drastically wrong, and at the same time, you're trying to encourage yourself to make a putt. It's very difficult to do all of those things.

So, you know, we've got our work cut out for us on these greens.

Q. You've been really candid in your assessment of your team, I'm wondering if you're angry about the way things have gone, and if not, if there's a word, perhaps frustrated or disappointed that you would use to describe the way things have gone to this point.

HAL SUTTON: You know, it's difficult to be the captain. You feel helpless. You'd like to make a difference. The difference is making the putts. I mean, if you just can't get the putt in the hole you're going to have a hard time winning the match. We've said it, I've been preaching it for a long time. I said I thought this is one of the best putting teams America had ever assembled. The stats says it is.

We made some putts this morning, but we haven't made any putts outside of this morning.

Q. We've talked about your lineup, I want to know your feelings about what Bernhard Langer has done, is it what you expected? What do you see as his strategy?

HAL SUTTON: Actually, I think he did exactly what he should have done. He's kind of spread everybody out. He's got strength in all areas. Not that anybody's weak on his team, they have performed beautifully all week. He had a nice luxury when he was doing this. He's got a large lead. He's structured it nicely.

Q. It's a huge deficit that you have to make up, and obviously it's not impossible that the American team can make it up; do you believe in your heart that they will?

HAL SUTTON: I believe in my heart that they can. Whether they will or not is a whole nother story. This is golf, I've been doing this a long time, 23 years professionally to be exact. These guys have been doing a lot. Y'all have probably been writing about it a long time. Y'all probably know what this game is all about and how difficult it is.

These guys are capable. I can tell you one thing about match-play, once it starts swinging one direction, it seems to swing for a while. So, we'll just see what happens.

Q. You said the whole world is about second-guessing, as you've gone through this whole process, have you second-guessed yourself anywhere in this two-year process?

HAL SUTTON: All the time. I second-guess myself all the time. But you know what, I'm not going to lose any sleep over the way I've done this. I mean, I did it the way I thought we should have done it. I thought the world deserved seeing Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson together. I was determined to give them that. I mean, if they had good karma together out there, if they could get it going together, they could have been grand. They didn't.

You know, you didn't see them out there together today. I mean, we adjusted.

Q. Were you prepared to play Chris Riley with Tiger or anybody else this afternoon in alternate-shot if Chris had been willing to? It sounded like he really talked you out of it.

HAL SUTTON: Chris was really heavily on my mind, you know and I told him, "Look, man, I hate to use this line, but I said, a 42-year-old fat man in '99 went five straight matches so I'm sure that a 30-year-old flat-belly that's hyper can go four, can't ya?"

He kind of stuttered and I said, "Well, I guess, if you really want me to."

So I backed off of that, and I just thought, well, if he really doesn't want to go, if he's tired and he just doesn't feel like it, well then I'm not sure he can help us as much as somebody who is really energetic about going out there. So, I went a different direction.

Q. On the flipside of that, 50-year-old Jay Haas going out there and playing 54 holes in 24 hours. Any reservations or what was his reaction to that?

HAL SUTTON: No reservations in it. Jay played beautifully this morning. Played great yesterday afternoon. He was ready to go. He was ready to rock and roll, you know.

You know, he was involved in the pivotal match, his match could have -- what did they do? They halved this morning, right? Yeah, they halved this morning. They could have won the hole, too.

Q. Second question, you said, you mentioned a couple of times that Bernhard had some luxuries there, so he has a big lead going into this morning, and one of those luxuries may have been putting the two rookies together. When you looked at that, did you see that as maybe a gimme point?

HAL SUTTON: Nothing is gimme in this game. Nothing is. You know, they played good together, you know. It looked like they did to me.

Q. We all remember the emotional fervor that the American team came out with at Brookline in '99, is that overstated and can you re-create that?

HAL SUTTON: I don't know. You know, I didn't have a grand feeling at this particular time in '99. This hour in '99, I didn't have it.

That evening elevated everybody's feelings. So, you know, all it takes is one somebody to say the right thing, whether it's me or somebody else. I mean, I really didn't think it was Ben that said anything that night that that got it started. It was when everybody started around the room talking about, you know, what the Ryder Cup had meant to them. And each conversation got a little deeper and a little bit more touching and everybody got their heart touched.

You know, that same thing may happen tonight.

JULIUS MASON: Hal Sutton, folks, thank you very much.

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