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And on the Other End of the Spectrum . . .
While the Europeans were ebullient in victory, the Americans were in an altogether different frame of mind. Still defiant and definitely supportive of teammate Hunter Mahan, who lost the final match to Graeme McDowell to earn the Europeans their decisive point.
After the awards ceremony, the USA team - including captain Corey Pavin - gathered on the podium and took reporters' questions. Here's a full transcript of that interview session Monday afternoon at Celtic Manor in Wales.
MODERATOR: I'd like to welcome Team USA, and I think it's fair to say, their defense of the Ryder Cup was quite remarkable. They were so close to retaining it. Corey, there was some fabulous matches, some great performances out there today, with Tiger winning, Dustin winning and Rickie Fowler's incredible finish, I take it you're a very proud man of your team.
COREY PAVIN: I think they should all be proud of themselves. As I've told them all week, they are playing for each other. We are a team and I was proud of every one of them and how they played during this week, how they fought, how they kept at it out there. There was many points it seemed this week that momentum was going against us, and they kept fighting back and fighting back. And as I said, we nearly got there today. And I'm just proud of each and every one of them as a team.
MODERATOR: I think it's traditional that we have a quick word with the players along the line, so starting with Hunter.
HUNTER MAHAN: Well, I'm just proud to be a part of this team. It's a close team, and -- (tearing up).
PHIL MICKELSON: We are all proud to be a part of this team. We are all disappointed that we didn't come through. We wanted to win over here in Europe awfully bad, and we fought hard today. We put ourselves in a bit of a deficit we didn't see ourselves being in after the first two sessions. And we thought that we came out today and we all played with a lot of heart, and put forth a very strong effort. We came within a half a point. But we could look anywhere throughout those 28 points for that half a point. I look at the three matches that I played in, and had many opportunities to try to get that clinching point. We just fell a little bit shy. Europe played some incredible golf all week, and our hats are off to them for their effort.
Q. Everybody has been talking about how fantastic it's all been and everything like that. But going into a fourth day, how much of a negative impact is that on you, particularly as an away team? It must surely mess up your plans, you're so far from home and everything like that.
COREY PAVIN: I think that's about the last thing that we are thinking about. You know, we wanted to -- obviously we had some bad weather, and we are trying to finish on Sunday. I thought the plan that, as I said, that people came up with, that are smarter than myself, thought it was a great plan. It was a plan for the fans; it was a plan for TV, and it was a plan to get the Ryder Cup done on Sunday. I thought it was a great idea. The weather just didn't cooperate, and we went to Monday. I don't think anybody up here really cares that we went to Monday at all. I think what we care about is that these matches were played to the completion and they were played fairly, in great sportsmanship. I thought the fans were fantastic all week. They were respectful. I thought all of the matches, the players played with great pride on both sides. And it was a very, very fair fight.
Q. What did you learn about the guy sitting next to you here today going down as you were, and how much these guys gutted it out, yourself included?
TIGER WOODS: Well, some of the guys have been on teams before throughout the years. Nothing's changed in that regard. I know that they are great players and unbelievable fighters, and some of the new kids that are on the team. It was great to see, especially Rickie today turn that match around, birdieing the last four, was awfully incredible and very impressive. And get to know them on a personal level, too. We play against each other 51 weeks of the year and battle it out and come here this week. It's great to get to know these guys on a more personal level. We came close.
Q. Hunter, if you don't mind, how tough was that match and how tough was Graeme to try to catch in that situation?
HUNTER MAHAN: I've played with Graeme before. I don't even know what day it was. But he didn't miss a shot. I think it was alternate-shot, and he played -- he played great today. Didn't miss a shot. Hit a bunch of key putts, probably the last four or five holes, and you know, he -- that birdie on 16, after I got it to 1-down, was huge. He played -- he just beat me today.
Q. Tiger, a word that's been used this week, all over the place has been momentum. How do you feel for yourself that, that the brilliant way you played today will give you momentum for the rest of the season?
TIGER WOODS: Well, I played well today, and it was nice to turn my match around like I did today. I was 2-down early after the first two and ended up being 2-down through five. Turned the match around, and felt like that's been -- I've been close to playing that way for a little bit now, but really looking forward to the rest of the year. I have three more events.
Q. Tiger just spoke about Rickie, I'd like you to speak about him, as well. And to Rickie, what was this experience like for you, particularly the match today where you birdied the last four to come back.
COREY PAVIN: Well, Rickie played well this week. You know, as a captain's pick, I thought he would. That's why I picked him. He's a great kid. He's going to be out here a long time. He's going to play in a lot of Ryder Cups in the future. I think Rickie I'm sure will tell you the experience was a different one for him, as it was for everybody up here at the podium. It's very special to play in Ryder Cups. There's a lot of emotions you go through in Ryder Cup as players, as assistant captains, as captains. It's a very strong, emotional week, and it can have emotions all over the spectrum. I think Rickie is a player that can handle that. I think the way he played today and the character he showed in hanging in there in his match and coming back and birdieing the last four holes, I believe it was, to tie that match, was an incredible performance, and it's something that he'll remember his whole life and he'll be able to mature and grow as a player, just as every other player on this team will grow and mature from playing in a Ryder Cup.
Q. Stewart, that scene at the first tee, with the crowd and singing and the jokes back and forth, what was that like? It must seem like a long time ago now. What are your thoughts about it?
STEWART CINK: Well, the atmosphere is awesome. To hear that kind of excitement for golf really is spectacular for us. We don't get a chance to play in front of crowds that boisterous and spirited. Mainly though they were cheering for the Europeans, the fans here are really respectful for all good shots and they have a lot of respect for all of us, everyone on this table. So it was really about to hear the crowd be into it, despite the weather, and their team won, but they were behind everybody in a way. It was really cool to see that just for the game of golf.
JIM FURYK: Hats off to the fans here. They are obviously cheering their team on, but I felt like we were given new respect and it's a home-field advantage, and it should be, but I think they did it in the proper way.
Q. For Jim and Phil, you were on a couple of teams where the deficit was much larger than this, and you couldn't go back and really say one thing or another. Here it may be that one thing here or there may have made a difference; will that make this loss harder?
JIM FURYK: I'm not sure I understood.
PHIL MICKELSON: Unfortunately I did. (Laughter).
COREY PAVIN: Good one, Phil.
PHIL MICKELSON: Is the bow tie a U.S. thing? The Alex Miceli famed Monday? We put a lot of heart and energy into this event. We really believed all week we were going to win. We not just talked about it, but we really believed that we were going to prevail. Even heading into today when we were down, we just knew we were going to win, and we didn't. And that's what's hard because we were so close. And every one of us can look back on a match and say that this could have been the deciding factor, that could have been the deciding factor. And certainly I've been on -- this is my eighth Ryder Cup, and I like and want to try to be a leader, and the best way to lead is through play, through about play. And when I didn't win any of my first three points, I felt more disappointment than I've ever felt, because this is an opportunity for us to win here in Europe. And so the fact that we came so close, and I let some of these opportunities to gain points for our team slide, it does hurt more than some of the past losses.
JIM FURYK: I would reiterate a little bit what Phil said -- I think I understand your question now. You know, we played hard today. I'm proud of these guys, the way we played our singles. Obviously I had a match that went to 18, and I know we needed that half point. So lots of us are looking at each other thinking, God, one-half point, and we get to take the Cup back home. One full point and we win the Ryder Cup. Everyone could probably beat themselves up over and over again for that half point. What we have to remember is we win as a team at Valhalla, and we lose as a team. It doesn't ride on one person. We are going to go together as a team here, and it falls on all of us.
COREY PAVIN: I'd like to add to that. I'd just like to say that, yes, the matches were very close, and you can look at it that way. I look at it as a way that each of these players played their hearts out. They tried on every shot. And they gave it their best shot. There's nothing that any of these guys have to hold their head down about. As a matter of fact, there's a lot to hold their heads up about. As I said, I'm very proud of them. Every shot, they gave it their all, and what happened was that Europe played a little bit better, and they beat us. Next time when we play again in the Ryder Cup, we'll try to get a different result. But as I said, I'm very proud of the efforts that Team USA gave.
Q. A lot was sort of said about playing the FedEx Cup and how you would play a lot and be in good form coming into a Ryder Cup, but could the reverse be true? Monty said in terms of taking something out of you guys, you winning last week; Monty said today that really the match was won in the third session where it was 5½ to a half; and if you go back to late Saturday night, from 30 to 36 holes for most of you, maybe that you can about the level of how much you played.
JIM FURYK: Definitely, the third session was our demise. We won half a point out of six. So giving up five points, we lose the Ryder Cup by one point and lost by five in the third session. That was our demise. I'm not making any excuses. I didn't play the first session, so basically, I slept all week. I got to sleep in no matter what. So I've got no excuse, no regrets. I'm well rested, and I said it after I won the FedEx Cup in the media room there, if you can't get up for a Ryder Cup, you can't get up. There's 12 guys here that were committed to trying to win the Cup, trying to bring it back to the United States, and we have got no excuse for I was worn out. I had a week off before going to Atlanta, so playing two weeks in a row is not tough, trust me.
Q. Can you talk about how big your match was and how it set the tone for the day and how you handled it?
STEVE STRICKER: It was an opportunity to get us going in the right direction I guess. Corey instilled a lot of confidence in putting me out there first, and I felt a huge responsibility to get us going. And fortunately, I did. You know, it was -- I don't know, it's hard to say. It got us off in the right direction, but you know, we had a tough hill to climb. We just came up a little short, you know. I don't know what else to say. It was tough to take a one-point defeat. But you know, we all played hard all week long. It really doesn't come down, you know, to Hunter. And you hate to put a guy in that position. We can all look back and we can all think about a shot here or there that could have turned the match to make up that one point, and you hate to see Hunter go through what he's going through, because it really shouldn't have come down to that. But unfortunately it did, and we are taking this all as a team as a loss. We are trying to help Hunter along here in this situation. But a tough deal for him.
STEWART CINK: Can I add something to that, too, since Steve -- I felt like he was on a roll. If you go up-and-down the line of the Tour players in Europe and U.S. and asked them if you would like to be the last guy to decide the Ryder Cup, probably less than half would say they would like to be that guy and probably less than ten per cent of them would mean it. Hunter Mahan put himself in that position today. He was, as a man on our team, to put himself in that position, all right. (Applause). It's a selfish spot in the game of golf, and Hunter Mahan performed like a champ out there today, all right. And I think it's awesome. Not many players would want to do that. I'm sorry, I just wanted to add something to that before we stop.
COREY PAVIN: Well said, Stewart.
Q. Obviously that was a tough spot to be in, can you talk about maybe when you realized that your match really did matter, it might come down to you, and also, just the pressure of that situation, how does that compare to anything you've dealt with before?
PHIL MICKELSON: Let's go to another one. Yes, in the blue, back there. (Laughter) Go on, Lad. (Laughter).
Q. Phil, maybe you can answer this, or Tiger or Jim or Steve. But obviously there's a lot of emotion up there, not just with Hunter, and with all of you guys. There have been times in the past when this team, the U.S. Ryder Cup Team, has been accused of not caring as much as the other team perhaps. With the emotion that's displayed here today, can some of the veterans say, do you think that has been completely dispelled to this point, and you obviously care just as much, based on the emotion we are seeing here.
STEVE STRICKER: Jim, tell us what you think.
JIM FURYK: I think the 12 men up here and our captain, our assistants, this event's always meant -- it's always been my favorite event. Rarely have I ever been as happy after winning; I've never cried after losing other than at the Ryder Cup. We know what it means to us. Whatever you all thought in the past, whatever you've all written in the past, it's your observations, the way you feel. But that judgment really, I mean, we know what it means. I'm glad maybe finally you've all figured it out. (Team applauding Jim.) And I'm sorry it's in this way.
Q. For Phil and Rickie, picking up on what you said you knew you were going to win, you had a feeling; you had a pretty big deficit. Can you describe where that came and how other years when you were behind -- and I'd like to hear Rickie answer that, too, because he surely looked like he felt he could win out there.
PHIL MICKELSON: I just felt like we were playing well enough. We were playing well enough to win. The matches were all close. We just needed a little bit of momentum and some matches would turn, and we felt Stricker going off early would provide that, playing their best player, and he did. He went out and beat the guy that was playing the best for them. We fed off of that. It just seemed like as our guys were -- as Stricker was taking the lead and other guys were following, all of the matches were staying close. Even when Europe were getting up, they were not getting up big. They were all within striking distance. We all just felt it was going to turn our way and that we were all playing well enough and there was not any weak link and that when we got out in singles, we were going to do it. Historically, we have been very strong in singles and we felt like this was going to be no different. And we came out and played as such. Europe played really good golf today, and even though we ended up maybe winning the session, we didn't win it by enough. They gave themselves a big enough lead that we came up a point shy.
RICKIE FOWLER: Like Phil said, with us in the position that we were, being three back, the U.S., like you said, has been known to be strong in singles. We knew we had a shot, and to have a chance to win, in Europe, which has not been done in a while, is what we came here to do. We all felt we could win, and I knew especially today I would have to work hard, especially getting in the position I was in. I felt the point that turned around in my match or got me pumped up again was, I saw Tiger make a putt on 13 from about 50 feet and that kind of gave me a little extra life. I went on to win the hole with a par, and that kept me moving those last four where I made a little run. I just want to say, it's been an awesome week for me. At 21, playing Walker Cup last year, and to come and play Ryder Cup this year, it's been pretty cool to be on a team with all of these guys. We are all very close. We have gotten to know each other on a personal level, and getting to know each other's games a little bit better. I want to thank Corey for giving me the opportunity to be here, and the four assistant captains. It's been a great week. (Team applauding Rickie.)
Q. Phil, I think that the weather was a big feature of this week; I was wondering yesterday when you flipped out of the bunker in 12 into what was a bog and someone in the crowd offered you a shovel to get out of there, wonder how you felt about the conditions and have you encountered conditions quite like that in a championship contest?
PHIL MICKELSON: We all have. We all have encountered difficult conditions. We have all played in rain and cold and we have played in fog. We have played in wet, sloppy conditions like this. I mean, we have played Augusta like this a few times where it's been wet like this. I think we are all experienced in it, but so are the Europeans and they played a little bit better in this weather than we did. I thought we all played some pretty good golf. I didn't feel like there was any match where we rolled over and gave it to them through poor play. There really wasn't. We had some great golf played on our side and we had a couple of guys on the team for the first time that played very well for us and brought a lot to the team, brought a lot in their game and they brought a lot in their personality and attitude. We have had a lot of fun off the course, too, that has helped us deal with this weather. It's helped us stay relaxed, be rested and enjoy the week, and we just wish the outcome was slightly different. But we appreciate the way the people here in Wales treated us, because they were very supportive of The European Team and very respectful towards us, and we thank them.
MODERATOR: Corey, your team played with great passion, pride and integrity, thank you very much.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.
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