What they Said: Thursday at the Ryder Cup
Members of the U.S. and European Ryder Cup Teams met with the media on Thursday during the final practice day ahead of the start of the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits. Americans Brooks Koepka, Tony Finau, Daniel Berger and Harris English discussed the new makeup of the U.S. squad going forward with rookies making up half the Team. Europe’s Jon Rahm, Paul Casey, Tyrell Hatton and Matt Fitzpatrick weighed in on the challenges of adjusting from competing week in and week out as an individual, and shared insight into how they’re keeping themselves both mentally and physically prepared for the start of the Ryder Cup on Friday.
Brooks Koepka: There's two teams playing and there's going to be a winner and there's going to be a loser. It just comes down to who plays better, and I think it's as simple as that. I think sometimes people look into it a little too much, whether it be guys playing a lot, playing five in a row out here or four weeks in a row, whatever. There's different things. They kind of depend but at the end of the day it's just who plays better.
Brooks Koepka: It's different. It takes a little bit of adjusting but once you get out there, it's same thing; it's competition. It's go put the ball in the hole as quickly as possible, and hit the best shot you can or if you're in trouble, get it back or your partner, or whatever. It takes a little bit of adjusting but it's tough. I mean, my whole life, I just played an individual sport and go to a team, so it is different. But I enjoy it. I think it's fun. It kind of brings you back a little bit to college, to be honest with you. We're not playing alternate-shot or best-ball or anything like that but it is that team camaraderie.
Tony Finau: We have a tall task in front of us we know that. We have a great European Team that we're up against but we have got a great -- I've got a great group of 11 guys that I'm going to go to battle with these next few days. And we've had some great practice sessions, gotten to know each other really well. Got a great group of young guys. As one of the older guys, crazy to say it, in 2018, I was one of the younger guys and now just a short three years later, I'm the third oldest on the team. I think it tells you where American golf is headed. We have so much great young talent and we have a handful of that young talent on our team already this year.
Really exciting that that's the case, and our goal is not only to change the mold this year, but the history of The Ryder Cup for us I think means a lot to us young guys and to our younger guys, and hopefully we change the mold here moving forward, not just this Ryder Cup but many Ryder Cups to come.
Tony Finau: We have a whole new team. We have a team with no scar tissue. There's only a handful of us that has even played in a Ryder Cup, and the few of those, we have winning records. So we actually don't have guys on our team that have lost a lot in Ryder Cups. We've got a whole different group of young guys that are hungry. I see -- you guys see six rookies. Man, in this team room, I don't see any rookies. I see six -- I see 12 guys that are confident and none of us are wide-eyed. We want to win. At the end of the day that's what I see. When I'm in the locker room, I see guys beaming with confidence and really hungry to win.
Tony Finau: I definitely love having the opportunity to play in front of our home crowd. That's something I personally haven't had. Both Cups I've been a part of, international teams, Ryder Cup in Paris and the Presidents Cup which was in Melbourne, Australia, so I personally haven't had the opportunity to play in front of our crowds. That's something I'm really excited about.
Daniel Berger: I think I'm fierce. I'm competitive. I think I got a taste of the team environment at the Presidents Cup at Liberty National, and it brought out a different side of me that I didn't really know that I had, so I'm imagining that this is going to be times a hundred.
But I'm excited for it. I'm excited to represent the United States of America and to be a part of a great group of captains and assistant captains and teammates and guys that you're usually competing against on a day-to-day basis, and now you're working with them to achieve a goal which is something that, you know, as individual athletes, we don't get very often. It's a cool experience and it's something that I've looked forward to for a long time.
Daniel Berger: The toughest part this week is waiting to tee off on Friday. I'm ready to go. I want to play golf. I want to play as many times as I can and I feel like that's the mindset for everybody. We just want to play. No one wants to sit. There will be occasions where players are sitting but I know they will be ready to go when their name is called.
Daniel Berger: The notion that rookies can't come out here because they don't have the experience can kind of be thrown out the window. All of these guys are competing at the biggest events, the major championships and winning big golf tournaments. That's what it comes down to is being able to perform at the height level.
Harris English: I think being 32 years old, it means a lot more now than it would be if I had made this my first or second year on Tour. This is my 10th year on Tour. I've tried to make this tournament, what, four or five times and haven't made a team. But put in a lot of hard work the last couple years and this has definitely been a goal of mine. I wouldn't have had the career in this game that I have wanted if I had never made a Ryder Cup and had the chance to bring the trophy back home. It definitely is more of a sense of an accomplishment and kind of shows, I don't know, all the work I've put in the last couple years means something and definitely glad to be here.
Harris English: It definitely feels like a major. But I'm definitely ready to get the show on the road. I've played the practice rounds. I know the holes out here. I know the wind is going to change. That's what it's about. I love the build-up to this tournament and the pairings coming out tonight, it's fun. Everybody has waited for this tournament awhile and I know the fans in Wisconsin have waited a long time to watch some live golf and they are going to get a good show.
Paul Casey: This place is spectacular. What a creation. It's a great golf course. Always been a Pete Dye fan. My knowledge of the course I think is strong. My memory or my knowledge of my results that week has been weak. That year, 2010 Christian Donald was on my bag, he is on the team for us this week, who is here this week as support staff and I asked him, did we play two rounds? He said, no, you finished 12th, which is great to hear because that means I can play the golf course relatively well. To this day, spectacular. Love it. What a challenge, and I think it's a great golf course for this week.
Paul Casey: As much as I wanted to be on this team, I put it to the side, the thought of trying to qualify. It's just been a sort of organic process and a result of the good golf I've played. And now I'm even looking at Westy going, how many more can I play? I think Westy is maybe the oldest player to represent Europe at 48 or whatever he is now. I'm 44, thinking can I squeeze a couple more out?
It's amazing how my view on it has changed going from maybe never -- that's it maybe I'm done, to what does the future hold? In the meantime, yeah, this week, brilliant. It's been an absolute joy. The whole process from the qualification to here I am on a Thursday couldn't have been better.
Matt Fitzpatrick: I think in terms of players nowadays, most guys are great athletes. I'd like to think you can do 36 a day for two days and then play 18 on Friday. I know there's obviously so many added stresses with the crowd and emotions and everything else that comes with it. But you know, I'd like to think that everyone really can kind of get through that pretty kind of easily.
Tyrell Hatton: I think at the end of the day, you still have to go out and play your own game. If you're naturally a more aggressive player, then sometimes shying away from that, you're not going to hit as good a shot as you could. I think you just have to try and be true to yourself, play your own game. And yes, I guess you do need to be a little mindful at certain points in the match but generally just go out there and just do what you would normally do.
Tyrell Hatton: The fact that I've made two teams now is good for me as an individual and how my own thought process kind of works. And yeah, obviously growing up watching the Ryder Cup and certain members on our team that you've idolized and now you're sharing a team room with them and obviously it makes it very special.
Jon Rahm: We do want to win but it's a team effort, right. It's not like I can do it by myself -- unless you're Poulter; he can do it by himself.
It would be a very nice end to what has been a wonderful year. That win in France, you create a bond that's unforgettable and it would be a really good feeling to be able to do it in my first try in my case on U.S. soil, as well. It's something we always want to add to the calendar and always want to add to the repertoire and winning a Ryder Cup, especially in an away country.
Jon Rahm: I'm physically ready for it. I know I don't look like it but I train every day when I'm at home, believe it or not. I'm in really good shape. I have no problem walking 36. I feel like the biggest challenge in an event like this is possibly five rounds of the mental aspect of it, and that's where I think you need to learn to really unwind quickly and get ready when you need to.
And I mean on the golf course, as well, you can't be 100 percent focused and locked in for five hours. That is mentally driving range. You have to learn how to switch off a little bit and have fun with your partner and then caddies and be ready to hit the shot in there. It's a bit of things. Also when you get to the team room after the round, practice round, whatever it is, everybody is having such a good time that that in itself is a great rest.