2013 PGA Championship Interview Transcript: Paul McGinley
KELLY ELBIN: We welcome European Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley here at the 95th PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club. Paul will be participating in his eighth PGA Championship this week.
Paul, some thoughts, please, on the golf course here at Oak Hill, and also your closing in on the one year out mark for The Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, thank you. The golf course is obviously very strong. My view on the US PGA has always been that it's somewhere between a PGA TOUR setup and a U.S. Open setup, and it's normally somewhere in the middle. This particular course I think with the difficulty and the way it's setup is more akin to a U.S. Open than it is a PGA TOUR event in terms of the scale.
It's a real good test and there's no doubt it will provide a very good champion.
KELLY ELBIN: You've got the one year out event coming up at Gleneagles. Are you happy with the way things are progressing there?
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, obviously it's been a whirlwind since I was appointed in January, and it's been very exciting and things have been going very well. They have been well received by the players, and it's a fun time in my life, very much a fun time in my life.
I'm looking forward; points start in two weeks' time, and then we have the year to go early in September, which is also going to be very exciting. That's when it will really kick off. So I'm looking forward to that.
Q. I remember Colin Montgomerie told us he had a 'Dream Team' that he wrote down and put in a drawer at home; is that the sort of thing you'll do? Do you have a wish list of five or six players?
PAUL McGINLEY: No, quite honest, I don't. I'm very open ended about what the team is going to be and who the 12 players are going to be, and I don't want to mentally go down the road of potentially having this player, this player and then their form might go off or they may get injured and they mightn't make the team.
I want to keep my mind very much open. And I also want to feel like I want to give everybody an equal chance of making the team in my own head and I don't want to feel like I have certain favorites here and there.
Obviously as the team evolves, I'll start forming opinions, but initially I want to encourage everybody and give everybody the best chance of making the team.
Q. Just for this week, is it too soon to be looking ahead at guys you think might come through, especially it being such a stiff test, and guys who might not have played Ryder Cup before?
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, we had David Lynn coming second in this tournament last year and propelling him off to a wonderful season that he's enjoying this year. It would be nice to see a European do something similar, if not winning, maybe having second or third and having the bounce on that David has experienced.
We'll have to wait and see, and obviously if it's not going to be me, I would very much love to see a European winner this week.
Q. You're playing with Tom this week. What stage does that take you in your relationship with him?
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, our relationship is one that is evolving all the time. As you know, he was a great hero of mine when I was a boy. When I was at college in San Diego, I used to go and watch him. Unbeknown to him, I watched every shot he played in practice and in the tournament, and I came on Tour and got to play practice rounds with him. We recently had dinner for the first time at Muirfield.
So our relationship is getting stronger and stronger all the time in terms of getting to know each other better and better. He's a man I highly regard and highly respect, and I'm looking forward to the challenge and going up against him, because he's going to be a very formidable competitor as a captain just as he is as a player.
Q. I'm sure that you've got great sympathy for Rory and that you would want him to start playing better and so on. What is actually going through your mind about him at the moment? How much personal sympathy do you have for his current situation and how much Ryder Cup captaincy issues do you have about his current situation?
PAUL McGINLEY: Well, just keep it in perspective, John. Sympathy is a very strong word, and I certainly don't think Rory would want anybody to be sympathetic towards him. I think empathy; we are all in the game of professional golf, we all know there's up and downs. We've all experienced them.
Tom Watson was in here earlier, and nobody can tell you more about the ups and downs in the game than he's had, and look at his career; Jack Nicklaus, something similar. We all experience these up and downs. And Tiger Woods, like he is now, is on a high and this time a year ago or two years ago, he was on a real low. So we all know what it's like, and I think Rory knows that as well, too.
I'm obviously very supportive towards Rory. I played a practice round with him yesterday. But from what I see at the moment, everybody has got a public opinion about Rory and everybody wants to throw their weight in and say he needs to do this and he needs to do that.
To be honest I don't want to add to that and say, Rory needs to do this and needs to do that. He knows I'm supportive of him. I'm there if he wants to call. I don't want to get too much involved in what he's doing. It's his own private life and circle of friends and people around him.
And it's not just because I'm Ryder Cup Captain, I don't feel like it's my right or my duty to get involved in what he's doing in his life. I think he's got some good people around him. He's making some decisions. He's making some adjustments in his life, and a matter of time, it will go on. If you look over the spectrum of his career, we are talking about a small part of his career the last six or seven months.
So, you know, that will be a little bit insignificant. As things move on and time goes on, he will get his form back and he'll have his success again, and just like Tiger now, he'll be back on a high and we'll be thinking, oh, yeah, I remember when he was off his game.
I think if you're a professional golfer, that's what happens. You're going to have to experience and deal with up and downs, and Rory is going to be no different than anybody else.
KELLY ELBIN: How much time have you had a chance to spend at Gleneagles at the course since you were named captain?
PAUL McGINLEY: Oh, good question, I've probably had four or five trips up there since January. I'm very excited for Gleneagles. I know they are very excited, as well, too. People can't be more helpful or more supportive when I go up there. They are very excited about hosting it. The hotel is synonymous with style and class, and I'm sure it will be a wonderful host and no doubt it's a very memorable place to have a Ryder Cup in, particularly the Home of Golf in Scotland.
Q. You mentioned the points race starts in a couple of weeks. How important do you think it is to make a good start for the players who are contesting in those first few events?
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, it's important but it's not essential. I made three teams and one of the teams, I had made the team by Christmas. The other team, I made it on the very last week.
To be honest, if you asked me which way I'd prefer to make the team, the one at the last week was better, because I was coming into form at the right time as I was coming into The Ryder Cup. The start is important but it's not essential. I'd really like to see, if I had a choice, I would love to see everybody playing great in the last two months of qualifying, so as we are going into a high then going into The Ryder Cup.
We'll see. We'll see. As I say, I'm going to wish everybody the best of luck, and in my own head, I want to wish treat everybody on a level playing pitch and wish them all the best of luck.
Q. Do you have a picture in your head of the kind of blend you want to have on your team, not naming names, but just a blend of players, a particular blend, and what would be your archetypal Ryder Cup player? What kind of guy is that?
PAUL McGINLEY: I think I don't know if you're referring to rookies or not, but I'd certainly be very welcoming of rookies on the team. If rookies have played well enough and young guys have come on strongly and won tournaments and deserve to be on that team, I would very much welcome them on the team. I'm not afraid of having rookies on the team.
Anybody who plays well enough to make the team and qualifies for the team, I will be delighted to accept them on the team and know that they have earned their place and looking forward to it.
And maybe even a pick, you never know; if somebody is showing a lot of form and just doesn't make quite enough points, I won't be afraid of picking a rookie, as well, too. So, that's important.
Obviously I need to have a bit of experience on the team, as well, too, and hopefully I will have some experience. I think it's unlikely that I won't have some experience. If you look over the backbone of our team over the last number of years, it would be unusual to see that backbone breaking up significantly. There will be part of that backbone that will be brought forward again and guys will have qualified.
We are lucky in Europe that the age profile of our team is not old, so we have a number of guys, the backbone of the last three or four Ryder Cups, that are still very much in the prime of their careers and likely to make the team.
So hopefully there will be a blend of that experience along with some rookies, as well, too, who will be make the team, or maybe even guys who have played in The Ryder Cup and maybe missed the last one or two and then coming back into form again and making the team that way. So that's experience, as well, in the different forms.
At the moment I'm very open ended and very open minded about how the team is going to evolve. All I can assure you is whoever plays well enough to qualify for the team or come close to the team and earn a pick; that they will be very welcome in the team room.
Q. The early days of your captaincy, but what have you found to be the biggest challenge so far, and what have you found to be the biggest surprise?
PAUL McGINLEY: The biggest challenge is the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes, and the kind of responsibility that I've taken on board and that I want to take on board in terms of the organization of the team room, the hotels, the schedule for the week, the uniforms, the golf bag, all of those things.
It's not just going in one day and deciding, right, there's ten bags and this is the bag I want to have. It's constantly evolving. Same with clothing. I've already had four or five meetings with the clothing companies, and they are not just meetings for ten minutes or 15 minutes. They are constantly evolving and these meetings go on and on and on, and they are fun and exciting because we are evolving our own ideas. Although I have a good set idea of what I want, I also like to see it evolving. I like to see things evolving as we go forward.
So it surprised me how much work all of that entails rather than sitting down and going, right, I thought it was going to be one, maximum two, meetings, for example, just to pick the uniforms and we have already had five and I'm still only 70 percent there. There's a lot of work; there's an incredible amount of work that goes on behind the scenes.
When I joined and when I became captain, it was incredible to me how much work had already been done in preparing Gleneagles and preparing the site and how advanced they were. So that was a big eye opener for me.
The pleasant surprise I've had and the thing I didn't expect was the amount of support I've had from The European Tour and The Ryder Cup team, particularly, that's been in place. There's a lot more support there than I thought I would have had and I'm very grateful for it, I can tell you, with the amount of work that's going on.
Q. I'm wondering whether there have been specific Ryder Cup experiences or perhaps actions by captains that have influenced the way you would like to see your own experience unfold?
PAUL McGINLEY: There's no doubt about that. I've been very fortunate being involved in five Ryder Cups, five different captains. A lot of those experiences went very positively but not always positively.
We were very much on the ropes the first two days at Medinah last year and that was the first time I experienced the downside of a Ryder Cup when things are going against you, the tide is going against you, all of the momentum was with the American Team. That was a huge learning experience for me.
I've also played a number Seve Trophys and Royal Trophys captained like by people by Seve and José Maria and Colin Montgomerie, as well; so a who's who of European golf who I've either played with or who have captained for me.
So I'd like to think I've learned a lot from everybody, there's no doubt about it. I can talk about every single captain and I can tell you about things that I've learned from them, and I'm certainly, along with my own ideas that I've evolved over a period of time, as well, too.
But a lot of it is I've been very fortunate to be involved in a very sweet time for European golf, and a very productive time and a successful period in the history of The Ryder Cup. We look back won't be around, but in a hundred years' time they will look back over the last ten, 15 years, and it's been a real high for European golf, and I've been very fortunate to be a front seat passenger for most of that.
KELLY ELBIN: Talk for a minute just about the course at Gleneagles. What makes it a good match play course?
PAUL McGINLEY: Yeah, it's got great potential for a match play course. We've played like ten Johnnie Walker Championships up there already, so we are familiar with the golf course on The European Tour. The hotel is absolutely spectacular. There's no doubt that it's going to be wonderful at the hotel and to be on site.
Little things like the planning that's been in place in terms of where the practice range will be and where the putting green will be and how it's all going to flow, I think all of the players are going to be delighted with that. The golf course, it's a Jack Nicklaus designed golf course, an American style golf course in the homeland of golf in Scotland.
It's a tough golf course. It's a big golf course. It's a big walk, and it's going to be a very exciting match play course with a wonderful finish on it, 15, 16, 17, 18, particularly, are four great holes. I think we'll see a lot of seesaw battles coming down to those last few holes.
I know Jack Nicklaus has had a go at re doing the 18th green, and he's created a lot more run offs on both sides now, and the green sits up a little bit higher. He's also made the hole a little bit shorter, so it's very much on in two, so the pin position is going to be vital. There's going to be a lot of theatre, no doubt, around that green, because it's in a real amphitheater and he's built up the mounding behind it and dropped the green down.
So I think we are in for a very exciting Ryder Cup, and it's an incredible tournament, this Ryder Cup. Just when you think it can't get any better after Wales, coming down to the last match on the course on the last day, you see what happened at Medinah, and that was just absolutely, in terms of sport, that was as good as it gets.
So hopefully we can go some way to matching that in Gleneagles, just some way to matching that, because that was special.
Q. On the Seve Trophy, how important from a Ryder Cup point of view is it that it's been saved this year and who are the two captains going to be?
PAUL McGINLEY: From my point of view, I'm delighted that it's saved and that The European Tour have worked very hard to get this tournament off the ground. That's why it's been so late being announced.
So from my point of view, from a selfish point of view, in terms of being the captain next year, I really want to be involved in the Seve Trophy. It's been a tournament very close to my heart that's been very good to me both as a player and as a captain. I'm delighted it's going to happen and I'll have an active involvement in the whole week and sit there over the whole week and observe and watch and communicate with everybody that will be involved.
I'll be picking the captains. At the moment, the points are still running. I'm a little bit reluctant to go ahead and choose now who the captains will be, but I would say in the next couple of weeks, particularly after this week, I'll have a good idea as to where we'll go with the captains.
KELLY ELBIN: European Ryder Cup Captain, Paul McGinley, thank you very much.
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