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European Team Ecstatic in Victory
As would be expected, the European Ryder Cup team was thrilled with its win over the Americans. Needing 14 points to retain the cup, the Yanks came up just short at 13½ points after Graeme McDowell beat Hunter Mahan in the final singles match Monday to secure the final winning point.
After a raucous celebration on the 18th green at Celtic Manor in Wales, the entire European squad - including captain Colin Montgomerie - sat down en masse for the following interview session.
MODERATOR: Well, thank you very much for joining us, everyone. We have got the European Team here with us, winners of the 2010 Ryder Cup. And Colin, you said it in the speech there, it was one of -- no, sorry, the greatest moment of your golfing career.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, yes, to captain this winning team was the proudest moment of my golfing career. And this press conference isn't about me. It's about the players on stage. So please don't ask me anymore questions this week, because I don't have any answers left. Been in here since Sunday answering your questions, so I'll just leave this stage to the 12 great players on this European Team. Each one delivered at least half a point out there, and that is key, and that's why this side won, was because everyone contributed at least half a point to the success to get to the famous 14½ that I have been dreaming of for nearly two years now. And we must congratulate all 12 players on the stage here that have done a magnificent job in regaining this Ryder Cup. It is very difficult to regain. You need another half a point, and it became very, very difficult to gain that extra half a point. It's made much easier when you only need 14. These matches are so close now, so close. And all credit to everybody on this stage who has performed magnificently throughout these last three days -- four days, excuse me.
MODERATOR: Well, there were some huge wins today for the European side and none for more I suppose than Graeme McDowell. Just tell us a little bit about your thoughts over these closing holes where you to see what was developing in front of you.
LEE WESTWOOD: Tell them what you just told me.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Do you want us to tell them what I just said?
LEE WESTWOOD: He said he was so nervous out there he could barely hold the club. (Laughter).
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, I got asked earlier to compare the back nine on Sunday at Pebble Beach to how I felt out there today, and I can safely say, that I've never felt that nervous on a golf course in my life before. You know, we kind of said that we weren't going to check out leaderboards, the guys playing down the order were not going to focus on what was going on out there. But the screens by every green were quite big, and it was kind of tough to not notice. (Laughter). The 10th green, I looked up at the scoreboard on the 10th green and I realized that things were really, really tight and that chances were that the last matches were going to come into play. I mean, obviously I hoped that I wasn't going to be needed. At that point, I got extremely nervous, and coming down the stretch there, I've never felt nerves like it in my life. Obviously I was out there trying to win it for me, for my 11 teammates, for Colin, for Europe, for all of those fans out there. It was a different level completely to what Pebble Beach was, and you know, this is why this golf tournament is extremely special and will continue to be one of the greatest -- probably the greatest golf event on the planet.
MODERATOR: Ian, you really set the ball rolling with that 5 & 4 win. Can you explain in 140 characters or less your thoughts? (Laughter).
IAN POULTER: I don't think I can. (Laughter). I said this morning on the range, actually, that I would deliver a point. You know, I said it last time, I'm pretty passionate about this format. I love The Ryder Cup. I always have. I've watched so many matches over the years, Seve, Ollie, Colin, Nick, all the guys; they just pour out passion upon passion in this event. I love it. I love it from the first tee. I love it from the songs. And I love it with all 11 teammates. It truly is the best tournament in the world, and will always be. I love it. I said I was going to win today, and I won a point. But more importantly, the team, as a team, managed to win the trophy back.
Q. Monty, I was wondering if you could tell us what prompted you to put Graeme in the 12-hole; and Graeme, what you thought when you were given that responsibility?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I asked every team member, the four vice captains, plus Ollie and myself, the six of us had 32 Ryder Cup experiences between us. We had an idea, Graeme was put as No. 12 for a very good reason, and the reason it came up truly trumps at 16 when Graeme birdied 16 when he most needed it. There's a reason why Graeme was there, and it worked out brilliantly.
Q. Miguel, you are going to be qualifying for the Seniors Tour very shortly. (Laughter)?
MIGUEL ANGEL JIMÉNEZ: Four more years. Four more years.
Q. Do you want to keep playing the Ryder Cup, or do you want to throw your hat in the ring to be captain?
MIGUEL ANGEL JIMÉNEZ: The Ryder Cup is amazing, and it's the best tournament in the world, and I can say that it's the most passionate tournament that you can have. Of course, I am 46, and I believe probably this is my last Ryder Cup. But if I am able to play in two years' time, I will be there on the team, of course. But I hope, also, these new people who are coming, who are going to defend the Cup for us, we just have to give the way to them. It's life. But that doesn't mean I'm not going to be fighting for it, and I still have four more years to go to the seniors.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Consider yourself lucky. I've got three.
MIGUEL ANGEL JIMÉNEZ: You're half a year older than me. (Laughter) I see also the seniors playing, it's nice, the way they enjoy it and things. But to me, it's a privilege, I got to play 22 years on the Tour, and I come in here when Woosnam, Faldo, Seve, all of these top players in the world of golf, and I see coming -- I see these guys passing away -- passing the way, sorry. (Laughter) sorry, sometimes I can't explain properly, my English isn't that good. But they left and all of the people are coming through, and I come here and I see like Darren Clarke, Westwood, all of these mid-aged guys here.
LEE WESTWOOD: Hey, hey, hey.
MIGUEL ANGEL JIMÉNEZ: Hey, you are 37 -
LEE WESTWOOD: Speak English, speak English (waving finger).
MIGUEL ANGEL JIMÉNEZ: You see guys like Fisher, like Rory coming. For me it's a privilege to be here, you know, and to be in form, competing with them and enjoying the golf with them. I think it's amazing.
Q. When Hunter came in just now, he could barely speak he was so upset. Could you just speak about the emotions that are out there and just say that if you agree, this puts to bed the concept that Americans don't care about the competition.
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, you know, the emotions surrounding this golf tournament are extremely different from anything else. Golf is a very individual and very selfish sport. We play for ourselves week-in, week-out. When it comes to this week, it's different. You know, I have 11 teammates beside me here who give me the opportunity to do what I did this afternoon. Without them, I don't do what I did. You know, I got the best player in Europe beside me, I have some of the greatest players in the world, and the emotions and the passion that everyone displays at this Ryder Cup, I mean, it just -- it's just different. And I mean, I'm sure Hunter was disappointed. He played great today. We actually had a great match. It was a funny -- a really funny atmosphere out there. It was very flat for 12, 13 holes, and then all of a sudden, it was obvious that our match was going to count.
You know, he played some great golf down the stretch. I mean, he shouldn't feel too disappointed. I mean, I was up early in the match. And apart from the chip on 17, he played pretty flawless golf coming down the stretch. I'm sure he felt like he had a chance to do it for the USA, and I was obviously very happy to be able to get the job done. But I don't do the job. It just so happened that it came down to me. I didn't want it to come down to me, that's for sure. I hope these guys beside me were able to do the job -
RORY McILROY: Sorry.
GRAEME McDOWELL: My caddie was going to give me the nod at one point to relax and to know that we had done the job. But I just felt honored to be able to have the privilege to win the Ryder Cup today for these guys.
Q. Over the closing holes, did you think about what it would be like to lose the Ryder Cup, as opposed to win it?
GRAEME McDOWELL: There's no doubt. I had a massive amount of emotions going through my head. That is the most difficult nine holes of golf I've ever played in my life. You know, from the 10th onwards, I realized that my match was going to be hugely important. As my teammates started filtering back to me, you know, winners and guys that had lost their game, and obviously on 16 fairway, I found that Rickie Fowler had just halved his match, and a half wasn't good enough in my game anymore. That's one of the hardest -- one of the hardest nine holes of golf I've ever played in my life. I was really nervous over every shot. I haven't felt great about my game all week. I really felt like I've been struggling with my swing a little bit and I really had to grind it out and I really wasn't playing my best. You know, it was pretty amazing to have that kind of opportunity. 16 was the greatest second shot and the greatest putt I've ever hit in my career. I can't compare this to Pebble Beach. This is another stratosphere compared to Pebble Beach. To be able to do it with these other 11 world-class players, it's just an amazing feeling; to be able to do it for Colin, who has been a great captain this week, it's a special feeling.
Q. And is there anything negative -
GRAEME McDOWELL: Yeah, there's lots of negativity in my head. These guys are all great players and they will admit to having lots of negative thoughts when they are even playing their best. Of course there was negativity there. You know, I was imagining losing, I was imagining winning in the same breath, and I think that's just the way golf is. 18 holes, it's like you experience all of the emotions of every day, of every life. It's up-and-downs, good times and bad times and great shots and bad shots. You know, everyone experiences it in 18 holes, and that's what makes this game so great.
MODERATOR: Thanks for the concise answer.
GRAEME McDOWELL: I give very long, drawn out -- sorry. (Laughter).
Q. You experienced a topsy-turvy game today, and you had some tough ones beforehand, as well, how has this experience here helped you in, I assume, your quest to become the best player in the world?
RORY McILROY: Yeah, I mean, this is -- this isn't about me or the development of my career. This is about the guys that are sat in front of you here. You know, it was a great match today with Stewart. He's played great this week. I've played against him three times this week and had three really good matches. You know, he's just a gritty competitor. He holes putts when he needs to. He hits good shots when he needs to and just doesn't really let you get away with anything. So it was great to get a halve at the last, and leaving my first bunker shot in there -- yeah, it's fantastic. This experience this week has been so much different and so much better than any other experience I've felt at a golf tournament before. And you know, I truly believe that this is the best golf tournament in the world.
Q. Having said that this is the proudest moment of your golfing career, is it fair to assume that, therefore, it tops the experience of winning The Ryder Cup as a player? And also, does it more than make up for the major that has so far eluded you?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Oh, yes, I'd never go back at all. I only want to go forward. There's a different responsibility being captain than there is playing. Playing is a whole different responsibility and a whole different feel. It was my job to try and manage these great players this week and try to make them feel as comfortable as possible and to play their best. And I always said, if they can play to their potential, we would win. And I truly believe they did, and therefore, we did.
Q. Personally speaking -
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Personally, nothing. Personally, nothing. This trophy is back in European hands. Europe's a big place. Personally, nothing. Personally, nothing at all. This is in Europe, and we are delighted that it is.
Q. For Luke and Lee, I'm just wondering, down the stretch, when you're watching Graeme have to hold on there for the Cup, what were you thinking about as a player, and what was that like to watch what he was going through?
LEE WESTWOOD: I hated every minute of it. (Laughter). I think -- I don't know how my wife and parents do it, watch. It's just awful, watching. (Shaking head). It is.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: True. True.
LEE WESTWOOD: So much easier playing, because you're in control. No, it was just horrible. (Laughter).
Q. What did you think about what Graeme was doing out there and what he had to go through?
LEE WESTWOOD: No, he had the easy thing. He was playing.
GRAEME McDOWELL: (Nodding).
LEE WESTWOOD: It's always difficult when it's within grabbing distance, I suppose. But it's just such a fine line, as well, because the blue -- a bit like last night, the blue things that were on the board, we needed to convert into points. So obviously Graeme knew early on; I apologize if I put him off by coming down the 11th fairway in the buggy, because I think he was sort of intimating that turned up that sort of focused the attention on his match. But you know, when you're a player, you understand what something like Graeme is going through today, and that's what makes it awful, because you know how nervous he's going to be, yet you can't do anything about it, you can't say anything to him or do anything. So you are really helpless. And like Monty said, this is about the whole team sat here, and at that moment in time, Graeme had the whole team's success or failure in his hands. So that's a lot of pressure.
MODERATOR: Luke, what were your thoughts?
LUKE DONALD: The same. It's extremely nerve-wracking just watching. And you know, you just can't control it. You know, just as a player, when you have positive and negative emotions running through you, it's the same as when you're not playing and watching. I think that's what makes it so hard to be a captain or vice captain. These guys all played and performed under pressure before, but they have no control in terms of the actual shot-making. But you know, I think as a team, you could see things slipping away a little bit down the stretch, but we had great faith in Graeme. I mean, he's proven himself over this year, especially, Major Champion. He can get it done when he needed to. You know, hats off to Graeme for holding on and playing great golf down the stretch, and winning that point that we needed.
Q. For Edoardo, Francesco, your feeling about the matches today and the experience.
EDOARDO MOLINARI: Regarding my match today, I think I played very well, and unfortunately Rickie came back in the last few holes. I didn't really do anything wrong the last few holes, I parred 14 and birdied 15, and at that point I thought it was almost over; and then I bogeyed 16 and he hit two great putts on 17 and 18. So there wasn't really much I could do. I could have birdied 17 or 18, but it was going to be difficult. So hats off to him to coming back that way. Regarding the whole week, I think it's been absolutely a fantastic week. It's been a dream come true to play the Ryder Cup, especially with Francesco and all of these other ten great players, and Colin as a captain. I think I enjoyed every minute of it. I think it's different from any other golf tournament and it's a lot more fun, for sure, because you're playing with another 11 players, with a captain, with some vice captains always there trying to help you, and it's something that you can never do as a golf professional. So it's something that has been a lot of fun.
MODERATOR: Francesco, a difficult afternoon, you were kind of hit by a truck on the back nine there.
FRANCESCO MOLINARI: That was the feeling, yeah, yeah. Luckily I knew I could count on these guys, and obviously my match, I knew it was going to be hard. I had a good start, and I think I played all right. But, you know, if Tiger plays like that, there's not much you can do. So, I mean, it's been a great week, anyway, and I would like to thank, really, all of the guys on the team, because they have been a huge support to me and to Edoardo and to all of the rookies. It's just been an unbelievable experience, and you know, hopefully we will have made some good friends, as well, you know, apart from winning the tournament.
Q. Martin, what did you feel after you had finished very early and had to wait so long tonight, could you have imagined doing that and the team could lose?
MARTIN KAYMER: Of course, I felt terrible. Losing a point for your team didn't feel good. Especially there were 11 guys and our captain were relying on me, and were hoping I would get the point. Yeah, going into this week, of course, there was pressure, because after that PGA Championship that I won, people were expecting a lot from me, and I expect a lot from me. I expect it probably more than the media or my friends or my family. And losing that point was very difficult. I mean, it's still difficult for me to accept it, but it was not about me this week. It was about the team. And luckily, we had Graeme, Graeme McDowell on our 12th spot back there, who got the point in the end to get the trophy back to Europe. So, yeah, what I said, it was not the best feeling, obviously, if you lose. But the team won, and that was the most important thing this week.
Q. Just a question about Monty. All week he's been telling us that his record in the Ryder Cup and his captaincy, nothing is personal to him in terms of accomplishment. Now that you've played with him and been captained by him, can you talk about what he brought to the table as captain and his legacy?
LEE WESTWOOD: I think he brought, really, an education. He educated everybody in what was going to happen. How it was going to happen, when it was going to happen, how he really wanted it all to pan out. I think that's all really a captain can do. Obviously, he puts his pairings out and he thought deeply about those, and his singles lineup, which I thought he got pretty much spot-on today. And a good decision when the format was there for changing or modified, put it to all of us, but really, that was -- I think Colin was 90 per cent there on the decision before he asked us, really, what we thought.
Q. Just as a follow-up, his playing record and now as a winning captain, his legacy and his tie to the Ryder Cup.
LEE WESTWOOD: Well, I think Colin is known for his Ryder Cup passion and record. I mean, it's difficult to talk about it when he's sat 15 feet down the table from me. No, I grew up watching Colin. I went to the Ryder Cup in '93 and watched him play at -- sorry, that's not meant in a bad way, that, Colin. It's not meant to make you feel old. But I stood on the 10th tee when they were playing at The Belfry and watched it. So, you know, he's got a long history of great Ryder Cup results. I remember watching at Kiawah Island when he got a result against Calc. Just goes back a long, long time, and he's built up a legacy there. I think, you know, unless he wants to do it next time, it's the cherry on the top, isn't it, when you can become a winning captain.
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: I would just say to finish off that, that this is a one-hit time, and I'm delighted that Europe have won this trophy, and I will not be doing this again, I can assure you. We have a number of fantastic four vice captains, plus Olazábal, and one of those five, I'm sure, will be your next European Ryder Cup Captain who will defend, hopefully defend the trophy at Medinah in 2012, and it will not be me.
Q. Can you just put into words the emotions you're feeling over the closing holes today, and is that why you don't want to do it again?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: No, it's not that at all. No, no. I think that it's only right that the captaincy should be shared between potential, very good candidates that we have now in Europe. And I think Lee and Luke said the same thing; we all felt out of control. I felt out of control all week as captain, somehow, not being able to hit the shots that I have. This is the first Ryder Cup that I have attended, really, that I have not actually played; and it is very, very difficult to play every shot over that radio. I played every shot out there for every game in every match. And that's why I think that that's a one-time -- a one-time hit, this, and it's a one-time go now, and it's only right that it should be passed on to the next great candidate that we have here in Europe. But it's the proudest moment, as I say, to captain these fantastic players here this week, and captain them, not just to captain them, but to captain them to success.
Q. What actually went through your mind when you knew The Ryder Cup had been regained?
GRAEME McDOWELL: I mean, I think the 17th green, after obviously Hunter conceded, my putt was -- they say, if you can't handle the celebrations, don't score the goal. It was pretty nuts. But I think there's probably way too much emphasis put on the guy who holes the winning putt, because it's not really an individual effort, this. It's 12 players on the team this week. One of my big goals this year when I set out in 2010 was to be on this Ryder Cup Team because I knew it was going to be one of the best teams ever assembled, and I wanted to be part of this week. Colin has been inspirational putting this team together. Just to be part of the European Ryder Cup Team this week has been a very special feeling. And to be able to have that privilege and opportunity to win the winning point, was very special for me. But like I say, I mean, it's not possible all this, the 11 guys to my right-hand side here to play the way they have played this week. I can't say enough about how world-class these guys are and how good the whole week has been in general. It's been an amazing week. You know, this is an unbelievable feeling to have the opportunity to hole the winning putt.
Q. You probably talked to Oliver Wilson and Paul Casey and those guys to find out what it was like, but did it come anywhere close to what the reality was?
ROSS FISHER: No, I think it was way more. You know, I've been fortunate enough to play a couple of World Cups with Poults, and I knew I had a good chance of making the team. You know, I spoke to him a little bit about it, and he told me that there was a lot of passion and just expect a different week. You're not playing for yourself, you're playing for the team. I was out there playing for Monty, all of these guys sitting in front of you and for the whole of Europe. So it's been a life-changing week for me. I felt like I've stepped up and played pretty good. I was disappointed not to get a point today, but thankfully I had 11 guys backing me up, and especially that guy sitting right at the end of the table there, G-Mac. You can't say anymore. Nerves of steel, absolutely fantastic.
MODERATOR: Peter Hanson, happy birthday, by the way.
PETER HANSON: Thank you very much. What a birthday present it has been. (Applause). Couldn't wish for anything else, sitting -- feeling very proud sitting at this table up front here. It's been a tough day. Like Ross said, I was a bit disappointed to lose my game. And talking about that, I knew I had a really tough game coming up. You guys have helped me -- or helped Phil to know that he had the worst Ryder Cup record in history (laughter). So I knew he was going to come out trying really hard and I tried to be ready. He played really well and I didn't play my best. So it was a tough game. But I have to say, the experience has been unbelievable. The only thing I thought about when I was after I was 4-down after four holes, I could hear Monty say, "Come on, never give up. I was 5-down at Kiawah after nine holes and managed to get a draw, get a half point." And great support from Colin and Thomas, people came up and were saying, "Keep trying, keep trying." I kept trying all the way but unfortunately not today for me, but like we said, it's a team event, and sitting here, looking at that wonderful trophy feels fantastic.
Q. How big of a blow was what happened on 15, and how did you manage to come back from that?
GRAEME McDOWELL: You know, 15 wasn't really a blow. I missed the green on the wrong side. I wasn't trying to miss that green right, and I got a horrible lie for my second shot. It wasn't so much a blow as, yeah, I lost the hole. Hunter hit a great pitch shot there, and I was just happy that I could make my putt for a four to make him putt for three. I realized things were tight, and you know, to go playing -- to go 2-up to 1-up was a big -- it wasn't a blow. I missed the green the wrong side, simple as that.
MODERATOR: Only one we haven't heard from so far is Pádraig. Pádraig, would you like to get into the act somewhere?
PADRAIG HARRINGTON: Yes, you know, the only things I would add is, you know, personally, for any of us guys who didn't win our points today, well, it's very bitter when you don't win your singles, it doesn't matter any bit because Graeme went on and won his match to get the Ryder Cup. It is all about the team event on the final day. It is all about the win. Whereas I'm sure I was feel the same as everybody else who didn't win their points, I was particularly looking at the leaderboard, knowing that I was in a bad situation, that if I could hang in there, if I could hang in there, if by some chance I could get a half point to guarantee us the win, and when it didn't happen that way, I was disappointed; and thankfully G-Mac was there to make sure that was irrelevant. As regards the overall team performance of the week, I think -- I know Colin says that it was all about the team and it is very much that way, and that's what he certainly kept us thinking. But I think we all knew in the team how much this meant to Monty. How much a win in The Ryder Cup -- he's done so well as a player; that it is only fitting that he win as a captain.
But, you know, at the end of the day, things don't work out like that. You don't automatically get guaranteed to be a winning captain just because you're a winning player. I think everybody in the team was aware that this was the one opportunity you would get to really cap off an unbelievable Ryder Cup career, and we didn't want to let him down. I think as much as he didn't play on that, it was very obvious to the team members that he deserved it, and you know, we wanted to deliver that for Monty. It doesn't always -- you know, life doesn't guarantee you these things, but as a team, we wanted to guarantee that his captaincy would do his playing record justice, and it did. Well done, Monty. (Team applauding Monty. )
Q. Just to pick up on that, I saw you close-up on the 17th green going down your team one by one, gripping them by the shoulder and giving them a quiet word, and then coming off the 17th, you looked like a man who could barely breathe, let alone focus. You've been very understated about it all, but can you give us some insight into what was then just going through your mind?
COLIN MONTGOMERIE: Well, I think Pádraig just summed it up there, that this meant an awful lot to me. You know, I have a reasonable playing record in this competition, but I never had a winning record as a captain. And you only have one go. And it was down to us today to do what we had to do. But may I say, I don't think this match was won today. It was won yesterday evening. It was won yesterday evening with 5½ points out of six. That's where the Ryder Cup was won. It wasn't won today as such. It was won yesterday evening when we came in with 5½ points out of six to take that three-point lead into that singles. Playing at home with a three-point lead, the Americans played brilliantly today, and all credit to them, they really did, they came out strong and battled hard. And for Rickie Fowler to finish the way he did, all credit to Rickie for that. But we won this, we won this because we were three points ahead, and that was a team effort. That was the whole team gaining at least half a point in that session. That's why we won the Ryder Cup today, and I thank every one of you, you guys here, to help me in my quest to be a winning captain, and I thank you all.
Q. Rory, first of all, what does it mean to you to win the Ryder Cup, and how much have you valued Graeme this week? And Graeme, how special was it having your mom here today?
RORY McILROY: This has been the best week of my golfing life, by far. It's been absolutely incredible. To share every moment with these guys up on stage, it's just been fantastic. And you know, I'm still very, very young, and you know, I don't want to miss a Ryder Cup for the next 20 years.
LEE WESTWOOD: It's the best exhibition, isn't it?
RORY McILROY: It's the best exhibition in the world. (Laughter). It's been fantastic. You know, I realize now what The Ryder Cup means and how much it means to everyone, and I'm a big fan.
MODERATOR: For team Europe, it was some exhibition, and well played again. Onwards to Medinah. Thank you very much and enjoy the celebration tonight, everyone. Thank you.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.