2012 PGA Championship Interview Transcript -- Davis Love III and Jose Maria Olazabal
KELLY ELBIN: With 51 days to go until the first ball is struck for real at the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club, we are delighted to have with us the United States Ryder Cup Captain, Davis Love III, and the European Ryder Cup Captain, Jose Maria Olazábal, here at the 94th PGA Championship. The top eight players on the United States Team will be determined after this PGA Championship, with Davis then making four captain's selections on September 4. The ten qualifiers for The European Team will be determined after the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles on August 26 with José Maria then picking two selections on August 27th.
José Maria, start with you, please. Some thoughts about how your team at this point is shaping up.
JOSÉ MARIA OLAZÁBAL: Well, at the moment, I'm really happy. Every one of those ten players that are in today have Ryder Cup experience, all of them; in that regard, I'm really pleased.
Obviously there are certain players that might not be at their best at the moment, but as you said, there is 51 days to go, and I'm pretty sure that they will be okay by then.
KELLY ELBIN: Thank you. Davis, comments on your team. The top eight, again, will be in by the end of this Sunday.
DAVIS LOVE III: Right. Obviously a big week for us, the PGA Championship and the end of the points on Sunday. I know there's several guys that are working really hard to try to make the team. So hopefully they will relax and just play the PGA this week and work their way in. But our team is shaping up very well. A lot of guys are playing well, as José Maria said, all our top really 12 to 15 guys seem to be playing very, very well.
We are very excited about it. It was a great win for Keegan last week and a great putt on the last hole, and obviously Jim is playing very well week?in and week?out now. A lot of guys ?? there's not a whole lot of movement, but we have a whole lot of guys playing very, very well top to bottom.
KELLY ELBIN: Thank you, both. And again, officially Tiger Woods is the only player on the United States Team who has officially clinched a spot for the U.S.
Q. Who are you going to lean onto make your four captain's selections, because it's pretty loaded right now? Who will you seek out counsel with?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well I've got Freddie Couples and Mike Hulbert already. And obviously some of our veteran guys that have played a lot of teams that I've been on with, like Tiger and Phil and Jim and Steve and right on down the list.
I'll be talking to them. I watched Corey; Corey got a lot of input from a lot of different people. I've talked to a lot of my friends, including like Justin Leonard or Scott Verplank or Stewart Cink, guys like that. We are all talking about it.
It's interesting now, everybody wants to talk about it, whether it's give input, ask questions, ask what's going on. So it's getting down, as Kelly said, 51 days to go, everybody is starting to realize that, that it's close.
So I'm going to lean on my friends and the veteran players that have been there a lot.
Q. What does it tell you about the team that Hunter Mahan is on the outside, yet he's won two tournaments this year? And then I have a follow?up.
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, we were talking about that, playing yesterday, how could that even happen. When I go back and look at the points, I guess he probably had a couple of weeks where he might have missed a couple cuts. You win two golf tournaments, you think he would be in, especially big ones like he won. It shows you our guys are playing very, very well. Keegan has got a lot of points obviously; the PGA Championship last year, but he's had two or three big points weeks. Obviously last week was a big boost for him and knocked Hunter out.
I'm trying not to stress about 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 right now, because as we saw last week, Keegan went from 9 to 4, and anything can happen this week. It just shows you that we are strong and all of the guys, as I said before, at the top are taking turns playing well.
Q. And secondly, if nothing were to change this week, how deep do you envision going down on the list to look for your four picks?
DAVIS LOVE III: Wherever Freddie is, we'll go down that far. He played great at the Senior British Open.
No, I don't know. That's a good question. 51 days, there's three tournaments after this week. So there's a lot of golf to be watched. So I would think somebody can get really hot that we are not even looking at or didn't get invited to dinner or didn't get fitted for clothes. You never know.
I don't have a hard list yet, though, to answer your question of who I'm looking at and who I'm not.
Q. How much will this week's performance by guys sort of on the bubble impact your decision making? And secondly, how much are you going to look at things like experience versus things like playing well?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, I've said several times, we'll be plugging holes, matching pairings, things like that. Obviously if Steve Stricker was on the outside, we have a guy that likes to play with him, that's a lock, as Kelly says.
So you look at things like that. You want some hot putters. You might want another long?ball hitter. But I think this week is important, because it ends the points. But it's just as important as any of the guys who play at Greensboro or who plays well at Barclays. That's what we're looking for. I think that's what they found with Rickie last year, he kind of got hot at the end and he was cocky with the putter and he got picked.
That's what we are going to be looking for. If they played great this week, that means in 40 days they are really going to be playing great again. I would like to catch somebody that's hot this week and the next two tournaments they play.
Q. To what extent are your picks and ideas for picks crystallized already in your mind, and what part would this week and also Gleneagles play in that?
JOSÉ MARIA OLAZÁBAL: In my case, I do have three more weeks ahead of me before the team is finalized. Quite a few things can change. There is a couple of guys there that at the moment are on the bubble, Sergio being one of them. Well, he will have to be on his toes these next three weeks to secure his place over there. And apart from that, obviously we do have a couple of players that are nearby, and you know, can make the team; if they don't make the team, there are a couple that I am looking at. But I would rather wait and see what happens the next three days.
Q. I understand you gathered some of the guys for dinner last night. Wonder what you got out of it and if you will get together before Gleneagles.
JOSÉ MARIA OLAZÁBAL: No, we got together because this was the only week that I could have the top players that are at the moment in together, because after this week, most of the guys will stay here in the States to play the FedEx tournaments, and some of the rest of the guys obviously will go back to Europe. So this was my only chance to really have them together.
We had just a little chat and that's it, I won't say any more (laughing).
Q. It almost seems like you could play The Ryder Cup on a par?3 course and you would still have some drama.
JOSÉ MARIA OLAZÁBAL: (Laughs.)
Q. How important or not important is the venue and the actual setup?
DAVIS LOVE III: Setup of the golf course? I think it's important in the way that the matches are played. I think the fans would like it better if there were more birdies and it was a little bit more exciting than putting for pars. I know we have had a few Ryder Cups over here that played extremely tough and there were not a lot of birdies, and then we have had a couple that there were a lot of birdies; at Valhalla, it was pretty exciting, there were a lot of birdies made.
I know when we have played over there, we have not made a whole lot of birdies for one reason for another, and it certainly was not as exciting for us. So I think setup can be more ?? a little bit more exciting and it will be good, and you know, I don't know if you can set up a golf course for 12 guys, but we're certainly looking at ?? I always say, I like it long and no rough, but that's just my personal preference, and no trees, but there's a lot of trees at Medinah.
But it's a big, solid golf course, where it looks like a major championship when you're there, and I think no matter what we do, whether it's hot and the rough's not deep or whatever happens, it's going to look like a major championship, a great setup, and it's a great clubhouse and a great venue. So I think it's going to have a big?time feel to it there.
Q. Could you talk about your memories of the '91 Ryder Cup here, how the weather impacted that event, and how the course is playing now compared to then?
JOSÉ MARIA OLAZÁBAL: The course obviously is playing different to those days. It was 21 years ago, obviously we have new tees, some new bunkers. Some of the greens have been changed. So I think it's a tougher challenge now than it was in those days.
But I have to say that in particular, that week, the wind blew really hard. That is something that is very usual around here, even though the last three days we didn't have any of that.
And I think that is going to be a huge factor this week. If the wind really starts to blow, this is going to be a monster of a course. And, well, we are going to see some great scoring obviously, because the field is very strong. But we are going to have to be really, really playing our best golf this week if the wind blows.
KELLY ELBIN: And José is the only player from the 1991 Ryder Cup who is in the field this week.
Q. Paul Azinger wrote a book, very successful; how much of what he has come to stand for in terms of the way he set about pairing players, and have you taken on board? Have you read his book? Have you spoken to him?
DAVIS LOVE III: I've spoken to him several times, and I've rest most of the book. I won't tell you I've read every page of it.
I've talked to several of the players that played on that team, and we have talked a lot about how this team is going to come together, how we are going to make pairings. But I don't know what our style is going to be, but certainly, having fun and coming together as a team were his themes. We've talked a lot about that, and hopefully we can equal that.
Q. Are you comfortable with the points system that you've overseen for the last two years, and I would be curious about the majors getting double points from the standpoint that a guy could finish distant third at a major and get more points than someone winning at Quail Hollow or Memorial or someplace like that. Are majors getting too many points or is double about right?
DAVIS LOVE III: I think double is right. Certainly we want Webb Simpson to get credit for an incredible win, or if we had one of our guys win this week, he certainly would be on a high. It certainly propelled Keegan to the top of the list. And he had to play well. If he didn't win last week, he would have been out, even with his double, essentially double points, last year.
I think it's good. But we were asking the same questions you were asking. You know, how could Hunter win twice and not be in; should you get more points for a World Golf Championships if you win that, or what's the dollar amounts? I have not studied it. It seems to have worked pretty well. We have got all our top guys up there near the top, so I think it's working pretty good.
Q. Just wondering if you feel any extra pressure as captain, given that the last time the United States hosted the Cup, they won.
DAVIS LOVE III: There's a lot of reasons to feel a lot of pressure as a captain; that's one of them.
When Kelly says 51 days, it just adds more pressure. You know, it's a lot of fun. I think José Maria will tell you the same thing. It's a lot of fun, it's a lot of responsibility, and it's a humbling experience. I know I'm out there playing with Tiger today and I'm the captain of the Ryder Cup team and he's our No. 1 guy. It used to be we are just out here playing golf. It's a lot of responsibility for two guys that just came up trying to play golf.
This tournament has gotten so big, so important, so internationally well?known that it's a lot of pressure. I heard Dave Stockton speak at the Past Champions Dinner last night, and he said the best thing about being the captain here in '91 here was he got to watch everybody tee off and he didn't have to play.
That was a pretty good line. I know we have been back and forth about wanting to play, not wanting to play on this team, and now I'm kind of getting the drift. I don't have to hit any shots. I can just go out and watch.
It is a lot of pressure. Just the fact that you want this experience, I don't know, he's probably played ten times, I've played six times; we want the same experience we got, for these players. We want them to enjoy it as much as we did when we played. I think that might be more pressure. The winning and losing, we have both been through both sides of that. Just getting everything ready and being prepared and doing your best for these 12 players and making it a special week for them is probably the biggest challenge, the most pressure.
Q. Phil has slipped to No. 8, and if by chance he were to slip out this week, any scenario you envision where you would not pick him?
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, he could be hurt or not want to play. You know, I think Phil's ?? I've talked to Phil several times this week and watched him play a little bit, and he's very excited about making the team. I think he and Steve and a lot of guys are trying really hard to make the team, and that might be hurting them a little bit. We have all been there; the last few weeks, you press a little bit, you try a little too hard.
I have a feeling that Phil is going to play well sometime in the next three weeks, and it will be back to normal for him. It would be hard ?? I know Phil wants to make the team. He doesn't want to get picked. He's a lot like me or anybody; when you keep making a bunch of teams, you don't want to be picked, you want to make it. I know he's grinding.
But it would be hard to play without him. He's been such a big part of a lot of Ryder Cups in a row.
Q. Even though you don't play in The Ryder Cup, it's kind of unique that the captains are playing in The Season's Final Major as you guys get ready to pick your teams. Could both of you talk about playing well this week to kind of lead by example; does that play at all in trying to motivate guys that you will pick and be on your team?
JOSÉ MARIA OLAZÁBAL: I'm not going to try to impress any of my team members there. (Laughter.) They know that, as Davis said, that the Ryder Cup has become one of the biggest sporting events in the world. They know what it's all about. It's a lot of excitement. The atmosphere is unique, and they are really eager to make that team so they can be part of it, and they are playing their socks off trying to make that team.
Obviously this week is a major event, but I can assure you that I am not trying to impress any of my possible team members.
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, they are not going to pick us. I would say that I'm trying to do the exact same thing I want them to be doing, and that's just go out and try to win the PGA Championship, just go out and play golf, play one shot at a time and get in the habit of not thinking about the results and try to win this golf tournament.
I know that Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, right on down the list, everybody, Hunter Mahan, they all have a great chance to win this tournament. I don't want The Ryder Cup to get in the way of that. I want them to go play just like I'm going to go play and try to win a great tournament on a great course.
Q. We always hear such?and?such a course is a 'great match?play course.' What makes a great match?play course, and then with Kiawah and Medinah, which of those is a great match?play course or better stroke?play course?
JOSÉ MARIA OLAZÁBAL: You want me to go?
DAVIS LOVE III: You wanna try that?
JOSÉ MARIA OLAZÁBAL: Okay. Well, great match?play course, especially if you go down the stretch, those are the key holes. Once you get to 14, something like that, 14 all the way down to the end, because you know the matches are going to be decided over there, you need really tough holes or actually risk?and?reward holes where a lot of things can happen; I mean, you can win the hole with a bogey, you can go and make an eagle. That's what a good golf course, match?play course is all about.
You had a good example here in '91 with those finishing holes, 16, 17, 18. We all knew what happened with Monty and Calc, and the same scenario can apply to Medinah. If you go down the stretch, 15, 16, 17, 18, you have 15, a drivable hole, par 4, but with a lot of risk, water right, even if you bail out left in the bunker you're going to have a tough job making a birdie from that bunker.
16 is a really tough hole. 17 you have water, also. And I think both golf courses are going to be excellent ?? well, this one was excellent, and Medinah is going to be excellent for match play.
DAVIS LOVE III: Yeah, I would agree with that. I think risk/reward is the main thing I think in match play. If it was a very straightforward golf course with no long holes, short holes, a mixture of holes coming in, like José Maria said, I think that makes it interesting.
Here it's tough in the wind and you had water, and the same thing can be at Medinah, tough conditions. You've got a couple easy holes and a couple tough holes coming in. Those par 3s, you hit a great shot in there, and you can win a hole right off the tee on 17. 15, one good shot, you could win the hole or you could cost yourself a hole. So I think risk/reward on a golf course makes it good for match play.
Q. You had referenced Sergio earlier; how important is it for him to make the team, and why? And also Harrington, as well.
JOSÉ MARIA OLAZÁBAL: Well, you've seen him play a Ryder Cup. He's a great team player. His spirit is always really good. And in that regard, I think he's a great asset to the team. He has obviously the experience, the knowledge. He wants to be part of it. It's true that at the moment, his game is a little bit off. And pairing?wise, he's proved the last few Ryder Cups he can play with anybody, and he's done well. And I think that's very important. If you are looking at the players to be on your team, Sergio would certainly be one of them for sure.
Pádraig, he has to do really extraordinary well. He's well down the list. He will have to really do extraordinary well here. We've known Pádraig, he's a very methodical player. He really works hard at it. I've played with him a couple of times during this year. From tee?to?green, his game has been fairly good, but I think his putting has let him down this year so far.
As I said, three weeks left; if he really does extraordinarily well, he can have a great chance of making the team still, but it's going to be up to him.
Q. How do you view the sort of end of the European qualifying process and potential decisions that players will make as to whether to play at Gleneagles for one last attempt to qualify versus potentially the Playoffs? Will that come into your thinking in terms of who you choose?
JOSÉ MARIA OLAZÁBAL: No. Every player is free to do whatever he feels is the best for his chances to make the team. In that regard, I'm not pushing or forcing anyone to play at Gleneagles.
On the other hand, we are going to have players that are going to be playing here at a huge event, also, with a lot of points. So it can go either way. In that regard, you know, it's up to them to decide what they think is best. That's not going to change my decision.
Q. Can you give us an idea of the role and the responsibilities that your assistant captains will perform during Ryder Cup week?
DAVIS LOVE III: Sure. I got to see that firsthand in Wales. They are going to do a lot.
The captain's job now has changed a lot. I think maybe it was Tiger or Scott Verplank today pointed out to me that he thought that Tom Watson did not even have an assistant captain when I played for him. Now it's gone to four assistant captains. So that's a pretty big change.
It's just a big job. It's a big responsibility. There's a lot going on. Obviously bigger crowds. It was awful nice to have four guys out there watching the matches while Corey was maybe in the media room or maybe had some other responsibility he had to take care of.
In Wales, we were very busy trying to get dry towels and get guys shuttles, equipment out to guys. I know I was walking around with towels under my rain jacket just so my group had a fresh towel every couple of holes. You never know what's going to pop up, and it's nice to have those guys are around, one, for helping you make decisions, make pairings. And then also to do the dirty work; somebody has got to make sure that everybody has got the right outfit on when they walk out of the hall and retrieve stuff that gets left.
I was amazed at how busy I was as an assistant captain. It was a lot of fun. I told them I'd do it every year. I love doing it. It's a fun job. Again, I just realized, because you don't have to play. I know that it was fun to be a part of a team, and I know that Freddie and Mike Hulbert are excited about helping me out.
JOSÉ MARIA OLAZÁBAL: Along the same lines as Davis, as the captain, that week in particular, you have a lot of things to do, media attention, television interviews, and you're quite busy. In that regard, I think all of the help you can have is welcome. It's great to have somebody watching every match or even during the practice rounds how the players are playing, and they are going to be gathering that information for you, and at the end of the day, we are going to have to sit down and talk about it and that will help obviously the time of making decisions and pairings and things like that.
Q. Is there a captain that you played under that shaped your vision of what that role should be? And also being back here at Kiawah, is there a story you could share that you think of being here from playing with Seve?
JOSÉ MARIA OLAZÁBAL: Well, going back to the first part of the question, I've had a few captains in my career, and all of them, they have their own personalities. They approach The Ryder Cup captaincy in a different way, and I would say that I would maybe pick Tony Jacklin and Seve for different reasons. I think Tony Jacklin made us believe that we were special during that Ryder Cup.
And Seve, obviously, we pretty much knew how Seve was; he was very passionate about it. He had a lot of courage, and I think that's what I would take from Seve.
Regarding moments or something to remember from The Ryder Cup that we played here in '91 with Seve, I would go to one of the first matches that we played, the way we started. We were hitting the ball all over the place. We ended up winning the match, and, you know, certain moments. For instance, I remember the second hole, the par 5. He snap?hooked the tee shot way left into the water and I have to drop it on the ladies tee, that's how bad he hit the tee shot. (Laughter.) I hit it onto the fairway.
Obviously the U.S. Team was, like always, right in the middle of the fairway. They hit the second shot short of the green in two; Seve hit a 4?iron and blocked it right into the trees, left me against the tree, and I have to chip it out. And obviously we are lying five and the U.S. Team is like two, and I look at Seve, and I said, what the hell are we doing here, let's pick the ball up and go to the third hole. And in those days, the green had water front and water on the back. Seve said, "Just hold on a second. If we chip?and?putt, we make 7."
Yes, correct, Seve. That's true.
"Well, if they miss the chip and hit it in the water and drop it and chip it on to the green and make two putts, what do they do? Seven. So we still have a chance. Let's go." (Laughter.)
So you know, that's one of the stories.
KELLY ELBIN: In '91, José Maria and Seve won three of their four team matches and halved their other one.
Q. Along the same lines, José, what will you take from what you learned from Seve in '97 and try and incorporate it here in 2012?
JOSÉ MARIA OLAZÁBAL: Well, it's very difficult to compare to Seve in any way. He was really all over the place. I don't know how he managed to be in so many places at the same time to be honest. He was very close to the players, at even some times he was a little too close to the players, trying to hit the shots; I'm not going to go that far, but he had pretty much all the options.
I remember him making a phone call at 3:00 in the morning to Miguel Ángel Jiménez, who was vice captain, and said to him, yes, come to my room because I've had a few ideas for pairings tomorrow and I need to discuss that with you. I'm not going to be waking up at 3:00 and calling any of my vice captains to check on pairings for the next day (laughing).
Q. I know you have not announced any of your assistants yet, but have you asked anybody yet?
JOSÉ MARIA OLAZÁBAL: No, not yet. I'm just trying to keep it as personal as possible. This week is a big week. There is a lot of points this week, and depending on how things work out this week, I will be able to announce or talk to some of the guys at least the following week. But I'd rather wait because there are a couple of guys there that if they do well, they might be in the team.
Q. Haven't asked much about Tiger, and obviously he is your one guy right now that's in. Wondering, first of all, if you've talked to him about maybe any pressure he's feeling, not been part of a winning team since 1999, and have you picked his brain a little bit about the secret to Medinah, because he seems to have figured it out from an individual standpoint?
DAVIS LOVE III: I've talked to him about several things but not about specifically how to play Medinah. I played with him at least two rounds one year when he won there, and I saw how he did it. He hit it really long and straight and made a lot of putts, and that seemed to work real well for him.
But like José Maria said, this is a big week and a lot of those things are starting to come together. Obviously when the team is set, then I can say, who wants to go play, and who doesn't know the course. Tiger doesn't need to go, but maybe he can tell us something to do when we do go.
I think these guys in this day and age, you see ?? I heard maybe Geoff Ogilvy came here or somebody came, Adam Scott came and played early or Tiger came and played early. Guys know how to prepare now and I think don't have to tell them a whole lot about how to get ready for a golf course. I'm relying on Tiger and Stricker and Furyk, like I said earlier, to help me make those decisions and help me make assistant captain's decisions and things like that, and the golf course is going to be a big one. Luckily we know Medinah pretty well. Guys on both sides, they know the golf course pretty well. We are pretty used to it. Maybe there's some Keegan Bradleys and Rory McIlroys that are younger that don't know it. But a lot of our guys have seen it or seen something very similar to it.
Q. You've spoken about the importance of Harrington making the team and Sergio. Could you mention some thoughts on Poulter; he's currently outside of the qualification. And I know you're happy with your decision to go from three picks to two, but how concerned are you that you may end up ?? that that may come back to bite you?
JOSÉ MARIA OLAZÁBAL: Not really. Monty had three picks and he was in the same situation. I don't think that having more picks saves you from being in that kind of situation. It's going to be like that every time. There's always going to be a few guys that you would love to have them in the team for different reasons and might not be making the team. You might have to make a few phone calls or you might have to approach two or three players and tell them face?to?face, listen, you tried hard but you're not going to make the team.
I've always said that that is going to be one of the toughest moments of the captaincy without a doubt. But that's the way things are. I'm not going to change that.
And as you said, Ian Poulter, he's really close. We all know how great of a match player he is. He did extraordinarily well the last two Ryder Cups at Valhalla and Celtic Manor. Obviously he's one of the players that I am keeping an eye on, see how he does the next three weeks. And you know, he's not all that far away. He still has ?? of the guys that are at the moment not on the team, he's one of the guys that has the best chance of making that team.
So I'm keeping an eye on him, yeah.
KELLY ELBIN: Ryder Cup Captains, Olazábal and Love. Thank you very much.
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