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American Team Leaders Explain 'Difficult' Loss
Following another closing ceremony after another American loss in the Ryder Cup, USA captain Davis Love III - along with team leaders Keegan Bradley, Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker and Bubba Watson - met with reporters and were forced to explain what happened.
What happened was that the Yanks failed to take advantage of a 10-6 lead entering Sunday's singles, losing seven of the 12 matches and halving an eighth to lose 14½ to 13½ and send the Cup - for the 10th time in the past 14 events - back to the continent.
Here's what the disheartened Americans had to say.
MODERATOR: Captain Davis Love III and the United States Team are joining us after the Americans fell to Europe today 14½ to 13½ in the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club. Opening comments, please, on what must have been a very difficult loss today on home soil.
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, it was certainly a difficult loss. I think any Ryder Cup loss is difficult. There are some guys on this team that have lost and it's never fun any way it happens. Today was certainly not what we expected. I'd have to say that I'm very proud of this team, though. They played very well. We had a lot of guys today that played well and just got beat. They got beat by some holed putts, chip ins, some incredible shots, and some matches got flipped at the end on long putts and great saves by the other team. I have to congratulate them on the way they played. They played great.
But I can't be more proud of this team. They conducted themselves with class all week. They inspired the fans to get behind them. But they showed the fans what golf is all about and how to act. I think this is - I said this is one of the most powerful teams ever put together. But it's also one of the classiest teams put together. We had a great time in the team room. We had a great time on the golf course. They did everything we asked them to do, and I can honestly say that I've been a part of a lot of teams and I've never seen a team of golfers like this, and I'm proud of them.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Captain. Let's open up for questions for Captain Love and the United States Team.
Q. Tiger, why did you concede Molinari's three foot putt on the last? Had he missed it, it would have been a tied match, 14 14 which is a lot better from a U.S. perspective than a one point defeat.
TIGER WOODS: It was already over. We came here as a team. This is a team event. And the Cup was already been retained by Europe, so it was already over.
Q. Could you walk us through the last two holes, just give us the details of 17 and 18 from your perspective?
JIM FURYK: In exactly what way?
Q. I'm just hoping that you can walk us through the shots and how difficult was that bunker shot at 17 and then where you were on 18; there seemed to be a lot of shots that went long today on 18. Wondering what was going on there.
JIM FURYK: I think the wind was a little confusing to the players. 17 I was a little bit in between clubs. Did not want to go long there, and you know, tried to give I took the lesser of the two, tried to give it a little bit more, and in doing so, you know, hit the ball a little hard, came over it. It rode the wind, got in that back left bunker, which had I hit it short of that and on the green, it would have been a much better spot. I hit a great bunker shot but it caught the collar and shot to the right and left myself, what, about a 12 footer straight uphill that I misread.
Then I heard that most players missed that putt out to the right today. 18, I hung my drive a touch to the right. I was actually surprised it was in the bunker. I hit a very good second shot. I actually had the identical yardage I had yesterday playing in the foursome matches. Hit the same club, and I just feel like the wind was probably a little bit more right to left than it was into and right to left; and was a little surprised to see it went as long as it was. I hit my first putt exactly how I wanted; I thought I hit it within three or four feet, but it just kept trickling out; and hit my second putt pretty much exactly where I wanted to, and it never took the break. I hit it what I thought was right edge or outside, and it stayed there the whole time and caught a piece of the hole.
Q. Can I ask you in hindsight, is there anything differently you would have done as a captain? And I'm thinking specifically about leaving Keegan and Phil out from one session when they were obviously playing so well together.
DAVIS LOVE III: Well, in hindsight, we would have done a lot of things differently, I guess. No, these guys asked to do certain things during the week, and there are some guys that didn't want to sit out; but guys that felt like they needed to rest, we let them rest. I I'm going to second guess myself for a long time. Could have done a lot of things differently, but I'm proud of -
PHIL MICKELSON: Hold on, Davis. Hold on one sec, Davis. As far as playing Keegan and I, you need to hear something. Keegan and I knew going in that we were not playing in the afternoon, and we said on the first tee, we are going to put everything we have into this one match, because we are not playing the afternoon. And when we got to 10, I went to Davis and I said, listen, you're seeing our best; you cannot put us in the afternoon, because we emotionally and mentally are not prepared for it. And I know you're going to get pressure, because we're playing so good.
But we have other guys that are dying to get out there, and we have mentally put everything into this match; we won't have anything later, and so you need to stay to our plan. So you cannot put that on him; if anything, it was me, because I went to him 10 and said that to him.
DAVIS LOVE III: I'll add to that. Michael Bamberger has been asking me every night and some mornings, what's my most special moment of the day was, and one of my most special moments this week was some of the guys back in the team room and the guys on my radio were calling for Keegan and Phil. So I rode out to 10 and popped under the ropes and Phil came running over and started yelling at me, we are putting the most effort into this, we are giving you our all and we are going to win this match and do not play me in the afternoon. And I thought that was the funniest thing I had ever heard. He was really adamant that he did not think that they should play in the afternoon; that some of the other guys would have a lot more energy and would play well.
It was a tough call. We had a lot of tough calls. You know, Tiger not playing was a tough call. Tiger had, I think we figured out if it was a stroke play event the first two days, Tiger might have been leading, and it's hard to sit a guy out that's making seven birdies a round. We felt like alternate shot, that that would be a good spot for him to rest. You know, would I have liked to have had everybody on our team play four matches the first two days? Yeah, because they were all playing really, really well.
Q. We were all incredibly impressed as ever with your sportsmanship against Justin Rose. Could you just talk me through how pivotal those last two holes were for the European momentum right at the top of the order?
PHIL MICKELSON: Where are you, Handsome? I don't see you. (Laughter.) As far as the last couple of holes, I don't know what else to say. I mean, we played some really good golf, didn't make any mistakes throughout the entire day, won every hole with birdies. Got to 16, and after I made a 12 footer for par, he knocked a 10 footer in right on top of me. 17, I thought I won the match, I thought chipped in. I can't believe the ball didn't break that last inch in there. And after that ball didn't go in, he made that long putt. That was a huge momentum boost. What a big turnaround, because it looked like I was going to be dormie, if not close him out. On 18, when it looked like I might be able to stop some of momentum on the board, they were able to get another point, and I thought that match, as early as it was, was a very pivotal one.
Q. Could you tell me were there points of the day that stick in your mind as when you really started to believe that this could be going against you, because you were obviously very confident at the start. And was there a point when you felt that the pressure was starting to tell on your players?
DAVIS LOVE III: We felt like we had the back end right where we wanted it with Tiger and Strick and Duf and those guys, Furyk at the end. Phil just described the whole Ryder Cup right there. We played well. We had a couple matches get flipped by guys that made incredible putts. I mean, I was behind 16 green, I came to watch Phil play 16, 17 and 18, and when Phil made that putt at 16, I thought he had just done something spectacular for The Ryder Cup.
And then right on top of him, two putts, boom, boom, boom; three putts, boom, boom, boom, and all of a sudden he got beat. I don't think he lost, he just got beat by a guy that finished well. Poulter's last five birdies, just to get to a win on 18, was incredible. Things like that kept happening to us. You know, Phil played great. As I said, Tiger played great. A lot of guys played great and just got beat by a guy that played a little bit better.
Q. Obviously just a phenomenal first two days for you, and as a rookie, can you talk about the difference in the emotions in today and not winning and how you are feeling?
KEEGAN BRADLEY: It was a difficult day for most of us. It was really neat coming back into the team room and having everybody kind of come together and let each other know that we all had each other's backs. And it just made you feel really, really good. I've never really felt more on a team in my life. I mean, we are all very close, and it was just such an unbelievable week to share with these guys and the captains and one that I'll never forget. And I'm going to be disappointed that we are not going to get together tomorrow to all get ready to play.
Q. The ending there after Kaymer made the putt, the idea of a tie is awkward, but yet it still was there, and there was that big celebration and everything, and Tiger and Molinari are in the fairway with that point still at stake. I'm just curious your take on that; did 14 14 not matter? I think it left the players maybe a little bit confused as to what they were playing for at that point.
DAVIS LOVE III: It always leaves me confused at the Ryder Cup when we're all standing around knowing the outcome and matches have to be played to their conclusion. I think it's very awkward. I saw some confusion on both sides of, what do we do here; it's over. There was a lot of disappointment, a lot of emotion on our side. You know, I saw Molinari looking around; what do I do here. I just think when it's over, we all shake hands and go. It doesn't really matter the score. They had the Cup, and they knew it. They were celebrating while we were trying to get out of Tiger's way and Molinari's way to hit shots. It was very awkward. I don't think any of us that haven't played Ryder Cups and stood out there on that green know that kind of feeling. I know I've had that with Darren Clarke, and I've had that several times where either we've won or they have won, and you still have to keep playing. So I think it's very awkward.
Q. For the guys that were around in '99, have you ever paused to think about what the Euros felt like at that period, and just kind of what this feeling is like, if you've had time in the last whirlwind hour or so to think it's going to come around to you guys?
DAVIS LOVE III: I thought about it last night when we put our pairings together. I thought about it when I woke up about 6:15 this morning on the morning we were supposed to sleep in. I know what we felt like going into it, and you know, the stunning defeat that they had that day. We knew that they remembered that, as well. Exact same score. So I tried to remind the guys a little bit yesterday, even after the third session, that the tournament was not even halfway over yet point wise. We had a long way to go. We tried to not focus on results, but we talked about it a little bit last night; that all we could do was just go out, play one match at a time, everybody go out and have fun, try to win their point.
You know, and when Hal Sutton sent his two best teams out Friday morning in Detroit, I thought it was a great plan. The first two teams that were supposed to win didn't win. It didn't work. I'm sure there's a lot of great plans in a lot of sporting events that sound really good the night before, before the game starts, and then there's a fumble or a turnover or something happens and it doesn't work. What didn't work today is they played a little bit better than us and got some momentum and made it tough. But, again, should record these conversations that we had last night of why we put people down, why we slid names around on the board, and I thought it was very interesting, some of the things guys came up with.
But when you end up with the power and the excitement that we had in those first groups, and we had what we felt like was the steady Eddie guys in the back, we thought it was a great lineup. Again, a few putts they made, a few putts we missed, and it would have been a huge difference. We had a couple matches flip that we didn't expect. At one point I think we had five or six all squares. That means it can go either direction, and it's whoever makes a putt.
MODERATOR: Phil, Jim or Tiger, care to elaborate on anything captain Love said?
JIM FURYK: I couldn't hear that.
MODERATOR: Any further comments to the question about how it compared to winning in '99, if any of this has gone through your mind?
JIM FURYK: How this compared to '99? Well, that was fun. This was pretty miserable. So I mean, it was very similar circumstances with the four points. Very similar score today, if not identical score. You know, it was a hell of a lot of fun being on the other end. It wasn't very much fun today.
Q. You had some tough finishes in events this year; can you describe the difference as an individual, versus this kind of maybe letting your teammates down or your captain who picked you to be on the team?
JIM FURYK: Well, first of all, I would gather that you probably haven't been on a team to ask that question. Losing the U.S. Open this year, losing Bridgestone, I'll be honest, it's been a very difficult year. But if you had been on a team or if you had been on this team, I've got 11 guys, I've got a captain, I've got four assistants that I know will pat me on the back; that know how I feel, understand how I feel. You know, we came here as a team. We wanted to win the Ryder Cup as a team, and we didn't do it, but we are going to leave here in the same fashion. And I've got 11 guys here and I have a captain and I have four assistants that have my back. It's been a low year. I've played very well this year but haven't closed the door. I'm pretty sure Sergio would tell you that I out played him today but I didn't win and I lost the match. I've had a lot of that happen this year. As far as team versus individual, it's the lowest point of my year.
Q. You know Ian Poulter and you've played against Ian here; what do you see in his sort of psychology, his make-up, that turns him into Superman when the Ryder Cup comes around, and do you think that's peculiar to a European player?
TIGER WOODS: I think Monty was probably the same way. Monty had a fantastic career and an even better Ryder Cup career. I think Poults is about the same. He's - say again?
Q. Why, though?
TIGER WOODS: I don't know, you'd have to ask him. I just play against him. I know that he plays well in this event, and he's tough to beat.
Q. Sort of a follow up on an earlier question, just curious what was going through your head on 18 as you're standing there in the fairway, and at that point, is there motivation or do you feel it's worth it to actually play for a tie at that point?
TIGER WOODS: Yeah, well, I've been in that situation before. If you guys remember in 2002, I was in that same position against Jesper on 17 when McGinley won the Cup. So you know, you come here as a team, and you win or lose as a team, and it's pointless to even finish. It's a little different than a Presidents Cup, because the Presidents Cup, you can keep playing until there's a tie and basically every match is pretty much done. It's interesting being out there; as I said, I've been out there twice when that's happened, and it's a tough spot to be in, because you know, you've got to finish out the match, even though it's useless because our team didn't get the Cup and they did. So 18 was just hey, just get this over with, and you know, congratulations to the European Team. They played fantastic today, and they deserve the Cup.
Q. When did you know that your match had become increasingly more important, and then maybe could you walk us through the last two holes?
STEVE STRICKER: You know, had a pretty good idea it was going to be important pretty early in the round, really, maybe even at the turn. When I went past the board at No. 10 tee, saw a lot of blue up on the board, started doing the math. Kind of figured that it was going to come down to Tiger or I in the last two groups. Yeah, I just, you know, knew it was going to be important, and we just I didn't get it done. Had a couple opportunities. Just let a couple putts slip by, a couple shots here and there. Yeah, pretty disappointing, but still a great experience again. We really came together I thought as a team this week, and we had so much fun. And to see everybody get together after it was all said and done, and still be a team, be united as a team, I thought was pretty cool to see. Yeah, disappointing, but still, I love all these guys. We all played I thought very well all week and just came out on short end.
DAVIS LOVE III: The only thing I would add is we had the whole staff of the PGA of America, Medinah Golf Club; we had my brother and support staff that we brought with us; we had four assistant captains; we had 12 players; and Ollie summed it up best: Everybody in America can be proud of this team. Thank you.
BUBBA WATSON: Thank you for your questions.
MODERATOR: Thank you.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.