November 12, 2014
PAUL SYMES:¬† Many thanks for joining us today, ladies and gentlemen, great to see so many of you out here.¬† The guys that are about to enter the door need no introduction, but I'll do so anyway.¬† We have obviously Lee Westwood coming back for the second time; Sergio Garcia, playing here for the first time, and finally Ahmet Agaoglu, president of the Turkish Golf Federation.
Welcome, gentlemen, and please come and take your places on the stage.¬† Many thanks again for joining us.¬† If we can start with you, Sergio.¬† It's your first time to the Turkish Airlines Open, so I assume you heard good things from your fellow players about the tournament, and indeed the course.
SERGIO GARC√ćA:¬† Yes, I definitely have, a lot of good comments.¬† Obviously it's a fairly new tournament but a lot of good comments from the past years.¬† Yeah, it's one of the things that made my decision easier to come and play this year.¬† Obviously it fitted nicely in the schedule for me after a nice little break after The Ryder Cup.
So I'm excited about seeing the course today.¬† I heard it's in good shape.¬† I heard the rough is a little bit high but it looks really, really good, and obviously the resort is quite spectacular, so we are enjoying that.¬† And obviously yesterday with Lee and Henrik at Aspendos Amphitheatre was something to remember.¬† That was a great experience.
PAUL SYMES:¬† In terms of The Race to Dubai, still an outside chance to catch Rory; is that giving you extra motivation this week and next?
SERGIO GARC√ćA:¬† Yeah, there's no doubt that it's nice to be a part of it, to have still a little chance of winning it.¬† It's obviously very difficult but to at least be in the race of it and have a possibility of becoming The Race to Dubai Champion, it's something that you look forward to it and I'm going to need a couple of really, really good weeks.¬† We'll try it until it's over.
PAUL SYMES:¬† And moving on to you, Lee, second time back here.¬† Can you talk a little about the course and how your form is coming into the week?
LEE WESTWOOD:¬† Yeah, obviously delighted to be back.¬† I played two years ago in the eight‑man match play and obviously last year in the Turkish Airlines Open, and it's nice to be back.¬† It's a nice golf course.¬† It gives you a good chance for some low scoring.¬† You can make a few birdies on it but obviously there's some trouble out there.
Form has been consistent, more consistent of late, more so more consistent than it's been all year really.¬† I've not played great this year.¬† I won once but not enough Top 10s really.¬† So trying to sharpen everything up and it feels like it's turning around a bit, so I'm looking forward to the last few weeks this week and then Dubai next week and a couple more, the Nedbank and the Thai golf championship, they are my final events of the year.¬† Build up a bit of confidence and some form and get a few good results and get ready for next year really.
PAUL SYMES:¬† The trip to the amphitheatre looked like you had a lot of fun judging by the pictures.
LEE WESTWOOD:¬† Yeah, everybody did, and nobody got too injured, either (laughter) it was one of those places where you sort of stood there and looked around and thought, wow, how did they build this 2000 years ago.¬† It was incredible, really.¬† Took your breath away.
Q.¬† On The Final Series itself, what do you think of the way it's structured and do you see a way of maybe improving it to get guys to play more of the final events?
SERGIO GARC√ćA:¬† Well, I think that there's obviously‑‑ I mean, we have a good example on the FedExCup.¬† There had to be some tweaking and they are still kind of trying to get it as close to perfect as possible.
So I think that the you're European Tour is trying to make it more and more interesting to make sure to give these last four tournaments the credit they deserve, and to make it a little more interesting going down the end.¬† So I think as you experience it and as you go through the years and as you try different things, you will hit the spot where you say, you know, this is the way it works the best.
But until you try different things, you don't know exactly what works in the best way of the best interests, not only for the players and the Tour, but for the fans and for everybody to be excited throughout this Final Series.
LEE WESTWOOD:¬† Yeah, I agree with Sergio.¬† These things need a little bit of tweaking.¬† But I don't think that the fields have been particularly weak.¬† It seems to have attracted decent fields so far, and they can only improve with time.¬† But I think it's a nice finish to the year.¬† It finalises it well.
You tend to get‑‑ they are obviously very big events and good sponsors, and you tend to, there's not really been a week where I've thought‑‑ I've looked at it and thought, this has not been well supported.¬† So just a few tweaks here and there and it will be where we want them to be I think.
Q.¬† On The Ryder Cup, what do you think of the Americans now having a task force to try and sort out the mess they have been in, and who would you pick for Ryder Cup Captain for America if you were on that task force?
LEE WESTWOOD:¬† I'll revert to my Twitter statement from a couple of months back.¬† I think it's a massive pat on the back for the Europeans and European Team that the Americans need a task force to pull all their ideas together now.
I wasn't criticising the American players and The PGA of America at that time when I put that Tweet out.¬† It was more of, this is how far The European Team and The European Tour has come that we are now the favourites, and the Americans need to up their game, because obviously they are not happy with keeping losing.
So they are looking for new ways to improve all the time, and this task force is obviously a massive step for them.
SERGIO GARC√ćA:¬† Yeah, I definitely think that it shows, like Lee said, it shows how well The European Tour have done in the qualification points and everything, the setup that we have for The Ryder Cup.¬† And because of that, I think that it's helped us get stronger teams in there, have better chances of winning The Ryder Cups.
And then obviously the Americans are trying to find their way of getting back into it, and you know, I guess it's kind of like what we were talking about before with the FedExCup and The Race to Dubai, I think that you try to find, when something doesn't work exactly like you want it, you try to tweak it until you find what clicks.
And you know, we'll see if this works for them.¬† We'll try to make sure that it doesn't, but you know, the only thing we can do is kind of concentrate on ourselves and make sure that we keep going in the same direction that we have been going for the past 15, 20 years, and kind of keep crawling into kind of tieing up the whole series.
LEE WESTWOOD:¬† As far as picking their captain is concerned, captains don't really sort of in my opinion and experience, they don't really have a massive influence on winning a Ryder Cup for their side, but they can certainly have a massive influence on losing it and getting stuff wrong.¬† That's really where they have got to focus.
There's two or three obvious candidates.¬† Fred Couples would be the first.¬† He's had the experience at The Presidents Cup which he's been successful at, and obviously experience at captaining 12 players and they are all going to know him fairly well, and Freddie is pretty easy to get along with and play for, I would imagine.
Paul Azinger, because he's the last one to have won; and then you know, I figured Steve Stricker.¬† Although I know they have a rule where you have to be a Major Champion I think, but Steve Stricker is a pretty nice, solid guy and one that everybody respects and I'm sure would rally for and play for.¬† E did the vice captaincy this time around, and he's still relatively young and in touch with the players that are playing on Tour at the moment.
They are the three that would make sense to me.¬† And just sort of on the fringe of that would be I guess Jim Furyk, but I think Jim still has ideas on playing.¬† You know, I think he's Top‑5 in the world still.¬† I think Jim, I've played against Jim a lot and I think he's a great Ryder Cup player.¬† He gives very little away, so it wouldn't surprise me if he was on the next team, even though he's, what, 44 or something like that.¬† I would say that it's between those three.¬† But.
SERGIO GARC√ćA:¬† We'll see.
LEE WESTWOOD:¬† We'll see.¬† They may have other ideas.
Q.¬† You both played in The Final Series and the FedExCup.¬† The FedExCup has a structure where the fields decrease going towards the last event.¬† Do you think The Final Series should be mirroring that more than it is just now?
SERGIO GARC√ćA:¬† I don't know.¬† I think that at the end of the day, everybody has to have their own personality, and I don't think that The European Tour wants to just copy exactly what the PGA TOUR is doing.¬† I think everybody needs to bring their own ideas, their own different ideas, good ideas, and I think at the end of the day, that's the most important thing, not to be like a copycat.¬† Just kind of try to figure out ways that you can kind of get in front of the other guy but in your own way, and not just‑‑ if you just copy what the other guy is doing, you're always going to be behind him.
I think that they just need to figure it out.
LEE WESTWOOD:¬† I mean, I would agree.¬† I've only played one FedExCup event; I wouldn't be in favour of it decreasing.¬†¬† Also, you leave yourself susceptible to losing out on some of your top players if you keep decreasing the field.
I think you want all your best players there at the final event and if you keep decreasing the field, you could miss out on a few players that the sponsors would think, it would be quite nice if he were here, even if he's 35th in the Money List or however you break it down.¬† I think The European Tour needs its own identity and have its own format at the end of the year for sure.
Q.¬† I would assume you both agree it doesn't make sense to go into the third event of the series or the final event of the series with the winner already being determined.¬† Would you agree with that?
SERGIO GARC√ćA:¬† Yeah, unless you are the winner‑‑ it's difficult.¬† I think at the end of the day, yeah, I guess for the fans and stuff, it's nice if it goes down to the last tournament.
But on the other hand, I'm also a big believer on, you know, if you have done something extraordinary to be able to achieve that, to win before the last tournament happens, why shouldn't you be the winner.
I think Rory did something quite extraordinary this season and this summer more than anything, and maybe he deserves to be The Race to Dubai Champion, even before we play the Dubai World Championship next week.
So you know, it's kind of like a thin line between both opinions, I guess you might say.¬† But you know, I guess you can't always please everybody at the end of the day.
LEE WESTWOOD:¬† Yeah, there's going to be flaws in it, whichever way you go.¬† I'm a big fan of somebody showing the consistency over the whole year and winning it.¬† If you look at Rory's season, he's won two major championships, a World Golf Championships, and our Flagship Event, the BMW PGA Championship, which is a phenomenal year.¬† If you put that up in somebody's career, those four tournaments, that would be a good career, and he's done that in six months, basically.
Occasionally somebody will do something extraordinary and deserves to win the Money List this year, that, for me.¬† If you do have it where it's all on the last event, we are getting into that area of copying the PGA TOUR again and copying the FedEx.
And people complain at that that it's a little too volatile at the end.¬† I've looked over the last few years and it just seems that whoever wins THE TOUR Championship wins the FedExCup in the States, which can be‑‑ you can look at that one of two ways; that's not ideal sometimes.
I have no problems with it being over before the final event, especially this year with what Rory has done.
Q.¬† The other question is, since you were so willing to express your thoughts on who should be the U.S. captain, I'm assuming you must have some thoughts on who should be the European captain.
SERGIO GARC√ćA:¬† Well, I think there's obviously a couple good possibilities that they have been named with Miguel √Āngel and Darren.¬† I think that, you know, also on this aspect I would like to say something on respect to that, because I talked about it last week and I think what I said didn't come out or whoever wrote it didn't write it the way I kind of said it.
So I think that obviously Miguel deserves, for sure deserves to be a Ryder Cup Captain.¬† He's done so much and even more than a lot of guys.¬† But you know, it's difficult‑‑ being a Ryder Cup Captain is not just getting there the week before and putting your foursomes teams and your fourballs teams and that's it and go play and try to win it for me.
There's so many more things involved.¬† It's very nerve‑wracking, and when maybe English is not your first language and you get caught up in a press conference where you're getting questions left and right, sometimes you may say something‑‑ and I mean, I see the same way.
Looking in the future, it's something that when I become, or if I become a Ryder Cup Captain, I would feel kind of a little threatened about it.¬† Because my English‑‑ I consider my English okay, but it's not your first language and sometimes you can say something that in Spanish means one thing and in English means a totally different thing, and it can be taken so totally the opposite.
And you know, it can be thrown straight at you for that, and it's difficult to do those things.¬† So I think that at the end of the day, it's going to be interesting to see who they pick.¬† I'm sure that whoever they pick, it would be great.
But you know, there's so many things that are involved on being a Ryder Cup Captain that maybe people don't see around.¬† It's almost a two‑year work.¬† It's not just one week.
LEE WESTWOOD:¬† I think The European Tour is very lucky.¬† It's got lots of good candidates, lots of former Ryder Cup players that have got experience of many different captains.
I would agree with Sergio that it's probably between Darren and Miguel √Āngel.¬† Darren just edges it for me:¬† His record, and I think with it being in the States; Darren's got a good reputation there.¬† And not that Miguel hasn't, but Darren's won World Golf Championships over there and he's played the PGA Tour quite a bit and been a member of that Tour.
I backed Darren last time and Paul got it; and I was wrong, Paul was a great captain.¬† I'd like to see Darren get it next time around and sit down with Paul and let Paul shoot a few ideas at him and feed off that momentum that pull really built up as far as being the captain.
Q.¬† You boys may be on the Senior Tour when it happens, but can you see The Ryder Cup coming to Turkey or perhaps going to the Dubai UAE at some stage?
LEE WESTWOOD:¬† That might have been directed at me with the Senior Tour actually (laughing).
Q.¬† No, both of you.
SERGIO GARC√ćA:¬† Yeah, it definitely could be a possibility.¬† I think there's already been some talk about it, so why not.¬† We can stand here and talk about maybes or ifs, and you never know what might happen.¬† You never know where we might be in ten or 12 years' time.
So we'll take it one step at a time, and you know, I think we have a great venue coming up in Europe in France, and then we'll see what happens after that.
You know, there's a lot of‑‑ the beautiful thing, I think there's a lot of great possibilities that we could have around Europe nowadays.¬† I think any of them could do a great job.
LEE WESTWOOD:¬† Certainly Turkey is an option in the future.¬† But you want to look at the countries that have been represented over the last few years.¬† You have two that I can think of immediately in Sweden and Germany that have never had a Ryder Cup and have had great representations from players:¬† Bernhard Langer and Martin Kaymer just recently for Germany.¬† And going back to Joakim Haeggman for Sweden and then Jesper Parnevik and Per‑Ulrik Johansson, and Henrik and Karlsson.¬† Maybe they should come first, I don't know.
But certainly Turkey has got a good shot at it.¬† Certainly got the climate at the right time of year when the Ryder Cup is played and the facilities.¬† It's got a lot of positives and a lot going for it if it was to put a bid in.
Q.¬† This is to both of you.¬† Sort of aware that Rory seems to be putting his stamp of authority on The European Tour and this could be his second Race to Dubai in three years.¬† Is there a feeling that you always have one eye on where Rory could be, and there's a sense of if Rory does well that week, that we know what we've got to compete against?
SERGIO GARC√ćA:¬† Yeah, for sure, I think that when you have a calibre‑‑ a player the calibre of Rory, you obviously, yeah, take a little peek here and there knowing when he's up there on the leaderboard and he's around it.
But I think it's happened‑‑ obviously it happened with Tiger before and it's happened many years throughout our careers, and before our careers with Jack and Arnold and Gary Player and Greg Norman and Seve.¬† There's always a handful of guys that when you see them on the board, you know that they are not going to go anywhere.¬† So you know that you are going to have to bring out your best if you want to stay on top of them.
But I think that's great.¬† I think that's great.¬† Any player that can bring something extra to the game that makes the game better, it's always good for our game and at the end of the day, that's our goal, to make our game better, whichever way that's possible.
LEE WESTWOOD:¬† Certainly good to have a dominant player.¬† I think it ups everybody else's game and ups the level that everybody else plays at and is good for the people to watch.¬† Certainly when I first came on Tour, Monty was the one that everybody was shooting at, and there's been different people over the years, and now it's Rory's turn where he turns up at a tournament and if he plays well, he's going to be towards the top of the leaderboard.¬† Whether he wins or not is another thing but he will certainly be in contention.
Q.¬† Darren, obviously his English is going to be pretty good.
LEE WESTWOOD:¬† Well, that's debatable (laughing).
SERGIO GARC√ćA:¬† Sometimes it's hard to understand him (laughter).
Q.¬† Debatable; but he's a very different person to Paul McGinley, personality.¬† What do you think he would be like?¬† What are we going to get from Darren Clarke if he gets the job?
LEE WESTWOOD:¬† I think Darren's played under a lot of different Ryder Cup Captains and I certainly have.¬† It's nice that people have different personalities and different ways of doing things, and if you've played under him and been in contact with him and chatted to him, you can pull them all together into your own form of captaincy.
I don't know particularly what kind of captaincy that would be from Darren, and he obviously has his own ideas, and that's why you have different people every time around, to change it up a little bit.¬† But one thing you want from a captain is someone that's well respected by the rest of the players and Darren certainly has that.
And he was involved at Celtic Manor when Monty was captain, and he obviously played under Seve and Mark James and Sam Torrance and Bernhard Langer.¬† So he'll have watched what those fellas did, and hopefully when it's his chance, if it is his chance, then he'll apply some of that because most of them have been winning captains.
I think that's the thing.¬† I think Europe has almost an advantage of we do sort of bring our captains in, sort of blood them gently with vice captaincy and stuff like that, and then when it comes around to being captain, it's not so much of a shock.¬† And also we have captains when they would still be playing the Tour, so they know the players that's going to be playing for them fairly well.
Q.¬† Follow‑up to that, obviously you guys have a lot of respect for Rory's game, just looking at the Americans, they are pointing the finger at the captain; they are talking about their foursomes play; they are talking about a lot of different stuff.¬† But very few have stood up and said, we are playing a very good, well‑led European Team.¬† Do you think they maybe just haven't respected you guys enough going into these matches?
LEE WESTWOOD:¬† No, I think we get lots of respect from the American side, and I think at the end of the day, we won The Ryder Cup this last time around because we played better.¬† You know, that generally wins you Ryder Cups if you play better.
Like I said earlier, the captain sends his players out and then it's up to you, really, how you play.¬† The captain can't hole the putts when you need him and hit the shots when you need him.¬† And I think we just executed the shots better at the right times.¬† And I've always said, it's the people that win that 18th hole when it's needed and hole that putt when it's needed; and over the last few years, we have just done a bit more regularly than the Americans.
Look at the shot Sergio hit from the right‑hand rough in the foursomes game, the high 5‑wood.¬† You didn't see the Americans playing that shot, and you haven't recently.¬† That's why we have been dominant over the last few years, because we won the last hole a lot when the matches have been on a knife edge, and that's what can turn a Ryder Cup around.
I know it was a big victory in the end last time around, but there wasn't an awful lot in it.
SERGIO GARC√ćA:¬† Didn't feel that easy.
LEE WESTWOOD:¬† No, no.
SERGIO GARC√ćA:¬† Might have looked easy but it didn't feel easy.
LEE WESTWOOD:¬† Rory, holing a 25‑, 30‑footer on 17.¬† And was that the day you hit the one‑‑
SERGIO GARC√ćA:¬† Yes.
LEE WESTWOOD:¬† See, that can be a big swing.¬† I know myself and Jamie won a game coming up the last.¬† I'm sure there were a lot of games like that where it could have gone either way.
Q.¬† I think, Lee, you said that the captain doesn't win you a Ryder Cup and can certainly lose you a Ryder Cup.¬† What would you say that American captain did this time around?
LEE WESTWOOD:¬† It's very difficult to tell from somebody that's not in that team room and listening obviously to what's going on and hearing it firsthand.
But all I can look at it is afterwards, the fallout, it didn't look to be that much harmony within the U.S. Team squad, so that's obviously a vital component when you are trying to win a team event.
PAUL SYMES:¬† Many thanks again, gents.
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