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Europeans Revel in Comeback
Europe's Ryder Cup team was justifiably exuberant following its thrilling rally from a 10-6 deficit entering the 12 singles matches on Sunday. The team members needed to equal the greatest comeback in the competition's history - 1999 at Brookline by the Americans - in order to take Cup back to the Continent.
Moët & Chandon, a Supporter of the Ryder Cup,
Helps Team Europe Celebrate Its Win in Chicago
(Photo Courtesy of the PGA of America)
And that's just what they did. Thanks to a clutch 8˝ points at Medinah Country Club near Chicago, the Euros won 14˝-to-13˝ to retain the Cup they won two years ago at Celtic Manor in Wales. It was the 10th victory by Europe in the past 14 go-rounds of the biennial competition.
On late Sunday evening, the Europeans were in a celebratory mood as team captain Jose Maria Olazabal and seven members of his squad met with reporters. Here's what the group had to say.
MODERATOR: Matching the greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history, the victorious 2012 European Ryder Cup team and captain José Maria Olazábal are with us here at the 39th Ryder Cup. Captain, you had momentum coming in today, a guiding force watching over you, incredible play from your team, and congratulations on a stirring victory, the fourth for Europe on U.S. soil.
JOSÉ MARIA OLAZÁBAL: Yeah, it's been an unbelievable day. It's true that yesterday I think we felt that something was going our way in those last two matches. They were crucial for the outcome of this match. And last night, when we got together at the team meeting, all I did was just tell the boys that I still believed that we could turn things around, that all we needed was just to be a little bit more effective on the greens and to make a few more putts, and that would change the tide for us. I think the players believed, and you know, what happened today, I think it will go - it will go down in the history books of the Ryder Cup. You know, it was a huge comeback, and I'm really happy for these 12 wonderful men.
Q. Ian, question for you, please. Poults, we know everyone on the top table is passionate about the Ryder Cup, but you seem to put so much fire and energy into it; where does the energy come from, and how long does it take you to come down from a week like this? Ian?
SERGIO GARCIA: Two years. (Laughter.)
IAN POULTER: I'm officially taking two years off, and I'll see you at the next one. I don't know. It's a passion I have; it's a passion I've seen at the Ryder Cup for years and years as a kid growing up, and it's something that comes from within. I don't know. I just love it. I love the whole fact that I've got 11 great teammates, a fantastic captain and vice captains, and I love the team atmosphere. It's something very, very special to be a part of, and you grow a lot closer to 11, 12, 13, 14 other people, and it's very, very special moments that you get at a Ryder Cup.
LEE WESTWOOD: We have got - is this on? We have actually revised the qualification for next time. It's nine spots, two picks and Poults.
SERGIO GARCIA: (Laughs.)
LEE WESTWOOD: Poults clause.
Q. Back in 1999, you stood on the 17th green as America celebrated and you waited patiently to get your turn to putt and so forth. Today the 17th hole proved pretty pivotal to your team. Wondering if you can just comment on the symmetry on that, or the irony that you flipped four matches at that hole.
JOSÉ MARIA OLAZÁBAL: Well, that's golf. I think the atmosphere has been fantastic, especially around those last few holes, 16, 17, and 18. I think yesterday afternoon, the players noticed that kind of atmosphere, and you know, I think that's what brings the best in every player when you're playing in front of that crowd, that kind of crowd, so noisy; I think that's what we really dream of, to be in that kind of situations. You put that same hole with not a soul in it, and you wouldn't deliver the same.
Q. Rory can I ask you to go through your rather interesting morning, please?
RORY McILROY: It was a rather long -
SERGIO GARCIA: Rory, do you mind if I take this one?
RORY McILROY: Sergio, I'd rather you not.
LEE WESTWOOD: (Making siren noises.)
SERGIO GARCIA: We actually were talking yesterday after dinner, and he said to me, "You know, when you went through that year without warming up, how did it feel?" I said, "You know, it's quite interesting. The best thing about it is you always come out to the course with the right attitude, because it doesn't matter how bad your shot is on the first tee; it's the best shot you've hit that day." So he said, "You know, I might try that tomorrow." We knew he was going to make it. We thought it was going to be 15 minutes, not 10 minutes, but, you know, we were fine.
RORY McILROY: You know, the last couple days were very long. Captain Olazábal wanted to play me in all four sessions, so I needed just that extra bit of sleep - no, to be honest, I looked at the tee times last night, and I must have saw them in eastern time and I thought it was 12:25 instead of 11:25. Walking out my hotel room door this morning at 11:00, and I get a phone call saying, "You're on the tee in 25 minutes." I'm like, oh - I've never been so worried going to the golf course. Luckily there was a state trooper at the bottom outside the lobby of the hotel that took me here and got me here a lot faster than we would have normally. I had just enough time to put my shoes on, have a couple of putts and go to the first tee.
JOSÉ MARIA OLAZÁBAL: (Shaking head.)
RORY McILROY: In a way it wasn't a bad thing because I didn't have time to think about it, and I just went out and played, and I played probably the best I've played all week. I still would have liked to have gotten here sooner, but I delivered my point for the team, and that was the most important thing. I was like, "Just get me there, get me there." He was like, "Do you have motion sickness?" I'm like, "No, I don't care, just get me to that first tee."
Q. How fast?
RORY McILROY: Fast enough.
Q. Paul, you've now been on both sides of the greatest last day comeback in the Ryder Cup; how does it feel to be sitting up there as a winner this time?
PAUL LAWRIE: Obviously a lot better than '99 felt. That was pretty tough. We were 10 6 ahead in Brookline, and obviously the American Team played fantastic in the singles and deservedly won. But today, you know, especially at my age, to be part of this team and to come back from 10 6 behind on American soil, doesn't get any better.
Q. Just wondering given the fact that the team jumped out to a quick, you know, won the first five matches today, whether that might have taken the home crowd out of things a little bit, whether that could have had any effect on how things went for you?
LUKE DONALD: Well, I think that was our strategy was to try and get -
LEE WESTWOOD: (Having separate conversation with photographer and Justin Rose.)
LUKE DONALD: Do you mind? The strategy was to get out early and get some blue on the board early. That's what happened in Brookline in '99. We missed the first six games -
SERGIO GARCIA: You weren't even in Brookline in '99; what the hell do you know?
LUKE DONALD: Hey, you told me.
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: He's got the DVD at home.
Q. Obviously you haven't been on form; what did it mean to you to deliver the winning point and after the way you've been struggling a little bit the last number of months?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, on one hand, I must say, you know, it was not only me; obviously I made an important point, but on the other hand, you know, what the other 11 players have done the last two or three days, you know, it's a team here, and that is I think - Graeme had the same experience as me two years ago, and I didn't know how much pressure he must have felt until I get to 16 today and José Maria told me, "We need your point. And I don't really care how you do it; just deliver." But I like those; that's very straightforward. That's the way we Germans are. Fortunately I could handle it, and I made the last putt. But I think it will give me a huge push, a huge confidence for the next few months, and definitely for next year; if you know you can make those important putts in - I don't even know if important is the right word, but it's probably more than that; important situations; then pretty much you can do anything.
And then just knowing that, and getting the job done, not only for the team, but for me it was very important to get the trophy for José Maria, because I know how much it means to him, and I think we can be very, very proud and very happy to have such a strong man behind the team. I really mean, that because it's been a great journey for us the last few months. And especially this week, he's such a great man for us.
Q. Being the only rookie here on the team, how would you describe the magic of this team, and who will start the party tonight?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: Undescribable. When I was given a chance to be part of this experience, I have never thought it was going to be this intense. I've had so many dreams about being part of experiences like these, but this has just been mind blowing since practice rounds day one. Hanging out with all these guys, discovering all different personalities, and seeing them deliver on a day of the highest pressure like this in front of the whole world, is, like I said, it's just undescribable.
Q. You said earlier in the week that playing in Wales opened your eyes to the Ryder Cup; as the world's best player, No. 1 player now after having gone through the downs and ups this week, what do you think about this thing?
RORY McILROY: It is the most special and unique golf tournament we have, period. To bring this group of guys together; to all play for the same cause; we win together, we lose together, and luckily the last two Ryder Cups, we have won together. I said this at the start of the week: There's nothing better than celebrating a win with your teammates. We don't get to do it very often, and you know, when we do, it's just so nice to have these guys around and to celebrate it with them.
Q. When you were standing over that putt on 18, did you think about Bernhard Langer and his putt in 1991?
SERGIO GARCIA: I did.
RORY McILROY: Me, too.
SERGIO GARCIA: But I thought, he's going to turn it around.
MARTIN KAYMER: I mean, I don't like the question, but it's true; yes, I did. I did think about him, especially when I walked around the hole and read the putt from the other side. And to be honest, there were - well, there was a footprint in my line, but it was not that bad. So I thought, okay, it's not going to be - it's not going to happen again, it's not going to happen again. And to be honest with you, I didn't really think about missing. There was only one choice you have; you have to make it.
LEE WESTWOOD: Yeah, boy.
MARTIN KAYMER: I was not that nervous. I was so very controlled, because I know exactly what I had to do. But if you ask me now how that putt went and how it rolled, I have no idea. I can't remember. When it went in, I was just very happy, and that is something that I will remember probably for the rest of my life and hopefully I can talk about when I have some grandchildren one day.
Q. Amazing performance, the reaction to your performance in particular has been phenomenal, and I see your brother sent you a message last night saying how proud he was of you; your kind of relatively humble beginnings of this sport are well documented, and you've come from that to in many ways be the emotional leader of Europe's greatest ever Ryder Cup victory. I wonder if you have had a moment to reflect on those terms at all?
IAN POULTER: I don't think I've really had a lot of time to reflect. I've kind of been enjoying it with all my teammates. It's been a truly inspirational day. It's been history in the making. It's been one that I'd like to - obviously I'm taking three weeks off after this to sit down; I'm definitely having a few drinks, and I'll have a very good reflect back on what's been an incredible week. I think I've had huge support from so many people this week, and it's been amazing. You know, from the captain to the vice captains, to everybody in the team room, you know, it's been a long week, and we was being beaten, but yet yesterday, there was something in that team room which ignited everybody, and it was inspirational, just to see everybody's kind of personalities change and the atmosphere change in that room; and I knew there was a glimmer of hope. So I'd like to take a bit of time next week and the week after and the week after to sit down and really enjoy what's been a really memorable day and week.
Q. Question for Justin.
LEE WESTWOOD: Here we go.
JUSTIN ROSE: Is that David Facey's voice?
LEE WESTWOOD: Is that David Facey's son?
Q. First of all, it is easier to keep the Chicago crowds quiet or Westwood?
JUSTIN ROSE: Well, Westwood's chirping at me. He seems in good form right now. In terms of keeping the crowds quiet, we knew that that was possible. We felt that last night, really, with Poults and the guys winning their two games down 18 last night. And coming down the stretch this afternoon, there was some amazing periods where you just didn't hear anything on the golf course, and that's really what we were striving for today.
Q. Is there a case to be made that the last two points last night were as big as any points today, and can you speak to the role of momentum in this event?
JUSTIN ROSE: Yeah, absolutely. Go on, Luke, hammer it hard.
LUKE DONALD: Absolutely. I think the whole atmosphere of the team changed last night. Sergio and I hanging onto that point - who is it, Sergio? (Sergio Garcia's phone ringing.) Obviously getting that point and the celebrations that went with that, that was just a huge boost to our team and our morale, how we felt about our chances. It gave us a huge lift. You know, I think Poults making that putt on 18 in the dark last night was the difference.
Q. Some of the things that went down this weekend, y'all are complete legends, Luke, the 7 iron you hit yesterday on 17, the putts you made Rosey - what are some of the thoughts going through your head as you're making these putts? Do you notice what's going around you and how do you get it done?
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: Like I said the first day, man, you go with what's in your pants.
SERGIO GARCIA: Well said, Dude.
LEE WESTWOOD: I like that, dude. I liked it. (Laughter.)
Q. Martin, how did it feel yesterday when you had to sit out the whole day, and also, can you tell a little bit about the words of advice that you received from Bernhard Langer?
MARTIN KAYMER: To be honest it was very difficult yesterday. You want to prove that you can do better than what I showed on Friday, because on Friday, I didn't show good golf, and so I didn't get the possibility yesterday, which was fair enough, it was José Maria's decision, and we have to respect that, but I definitely want to show him that I can win a match here. And I didn't know that it's going to be that important, but it was very important for me to make that experience, as well, yesterday, because it didn't feel good, and I don't want to be in that situation again. And then I took the possibility to talk to Bernhard a little bit yesterday. I texted him on Friday night and asked him if we could sit down on Saturday morning and talk about the Ryder Cup, because my - I felt like my attitude and - I would say I was not as inspired as I should be, I thought.
We talked a little bit about a bunch of stuff, and he has been a fantastic role model for me, and he's always there if I need him. And that is very rare to have someone like him that you can ask whenever you need to. But I got even more inspired to be honest with you by Poulter yesterday. I told Ian after 18 that I thought about him on 16; when I had the par putt on 16, I thought, come on, if he can do it, you can do it, too. So show him that you have that he inspired you for that special event. And so he has been fantastic for the team - great pick by Olazábal. Ian should be set in the Ryder Cup forever.
Q. Can I ask the players, when the Americans woke this morning, they were 10 6 in front, and when you're in that position, you're expected to win and you're meant to win. I just wonder whether that transferred the pressure to them that way and enabled you all to relax and play your natural game without the pressure of expectation.
SERGIO GARCIA: Anyone? Well, I'll try my best. I guess it does in a way. Some of us were in this position in '99, and you know, we knew what happened there. We knew that -
GRAEME McDOWELL: Pass the drinks along, Sergio.
PAUL LAWRIE: (Passing drinks down the table to rest of team.)
SERGIO GARCIA: We knew if we got going -
PAUL LAWRIE: (Laughing.)
NICOLAS COLSAERTS: We are still missing a few.
SERGIO GARCIA: We knew if we got going early, we needed to put the American Team in a situation where we wanted to see how they felt with a bit more pressure on. Obviously everything was going their way throughout the whole week. You know, they were making the putts, they were getting the good breaks here and there. We were just waiting to change that a little bit and see if we could do the same thing they did to us in '99 and see how they could react against that. Obviously a lot of the matches were won because some of my teammates played amazing and some others, you know, we took the possibility or the opening that they gave us; and you know, I have been in that position; Lee has been in that position; José has been in that position; I don't know who else - obviously Paul has been in that position in '99, and we know how it feels, and it's not easy. So we wanted to see how they would react and see if they could hold it; and it was a combination of playing great and maybe then that little bit of pressure getting to them.
Q. Tiger's match ended up not mattering today; how crucial was that that he was effectively shutout?
JOSÉ MARIA OLAZÁBAL: Well, not at all, because actually they were four points ahead coming Sunday, so they must have done something right. This is a team event. Obviously all players have to contribute in order to win. But I don't see that being any - in any way special in that regard. There is 12 players, there is four matches played in the morning, four in the afternoon, and you have to try to win as many points as you can. We were four points behind come Sunday, and that was, yeah, in effect, Tiger without winning a single point; yes, that is true. But at the end of the day, we were four points behind.
Q. It's possible that one of your four vice captains will be named as your successor; can you speak a little bit in detail about what each of the four brought to the team and how that might have made the difference perhaps between winning and losing?
JOSÉ MARIA OLAZÁBAL: Well, obviously they bring a lot of knowledge, experience; but at the same time, a lot of diversity. All four guys are completely different. They have their own way of thinking. And I think that combination is very helpful or has been very helpful in this case for me, because I could have the view from a different perspective of how things were going. And that's what they bring. Also, they have the respect of these 12 men here. They have done - they have played great golf for many years. They have won - Darren has won a major event and Thomas has been fighting for it, and they have been great golfers for many, many years and these guys respect that.
Q. Sergio, please.
SERGIO GARCIA: Yes, sorry.
GRAEME McDOWELL: (Holding rabbit ears over Sergio's head).
Q. Wondering if you can describe the last two holes, and were you aware of him tensing up with the pressure getting to him?
SERGIO GARCIA: I think the 16th hole was - well, there were a couple moments, but I think the 16th hole was probably heartbreaking for him, because he hit a great putt. I managed to get a great up and down from the front bunker. I hit a great putt to win the hole and go 2 up with two to go and he lipped out. Obviously the last couple of holes, 17 is a tough hole with the pressure. He pulled it left and I hit a decent shot to the middle of the green, and he didn't manage to get up and down. And then, 18, you could see, as reliable as he usually is, you could see he was feeling a little bit. He didn't hit his best drive. He hit a good second shot, but probably a little bit too much adrenaline and went over the back. And then you know, I hit a bit of a girly putt to try to win the game, but he still had a seven or eight footer to halve, and he missed that. You know, it was one of those moments that you obviously feel it, and when you are up for a long time and you feel like things are going the wrong way, it's hard sometimes to stop it. And unfortunately for him, he couldn't do it.
Q. Francesco, were you surprised to be given that putt on 18 by Tiger in the last match? I know you probably would have got it, but it changed the match to a European win -
SERGIO GARCIA: Not probably. He would have definitely got it.
FRANCESCO MOLINARI: He's an optimist. No, I mean, I don't know, I was a little bit - not surprised; I was getting ready to hit the putt. You know, I thought about giving him the halve on the fairway, but then the captain was there, the chairman was there, they told me, it's not the same, winning or halving, so get focused and do your best, and that's what I did. So I just tried to win the hole, to win the tournament, basically. I was getting ready to hit the putt. I wasn't expecting him to give it to me.
Q. You learned how to win at the Ryder Cup from Seve; you dedicated this Ryder Cup to him; you wore his name and silhouette on your sweater today; what does it mean to you to win in his name, and how emotional did you get thinking about him as you won it?
JOSÉ MARIA OLAZÁBAL: Obviously emotional - he's already smiling about it and laughing about it. This has been a very special week. Seve, it's the first time that he's not here with us at the Ryder Cup. He passed away last year. I do have wonderful memories from my matches with him. He was a very special man, and he's very close to my heart. All these guys sitting here on this media room know how much this week has meant to me. And you know, I get emotional about it; but I want to thank them for what they did today. They gave me the best week of my life. And I'm just glad that I had the 12 men on my side ready to give their best during the whole week. The start of the week was a tough one. Nothing went our way, but these guys kept on believing, and I'm sure that not just the silhouette, but the phone call Seve made last time at Celtic Manor in 2010 and all the images of Seve around the clubhouse, the locker room and things like that, kept that spirit alive. So it's not just me. I think these guys did it also for him.
MODERATOR: Captain, European Team, congratulations.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.