This week's PGA Championship is the last chance for Americans to pick up Ryder Cup points. And majors count double. With 51 days until the first ball is struck at Medinah, team captains Davis Love III and Jose Maria Olazabal fielded questions at Kiawah Island. But they weren't asked about their chances this week on the Ocean Course. The two men talked captain's picks and course setups and shared a few memories on Wednesday afternoon:
MODERATOR: José Maria, start with you, please. Some thoughts about how your team at this point is shaping up.
Olazabal: 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.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Davis, comments on your team. The top eight, again, will be in by the end of this Sunday.
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 [Bradley] last week and a great putt on the last hole, and obviously Jim [Furyk] 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.
MODERATOR: 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.
What about Mr. Woods?
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?
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.
Good omen for Jim Furyk?
In addition to mentioning him above, Love refered postively to Furyk and other Ryder Cup veterans -- notably Steve Stricker and Phil Mickelson -- multiple times in the press conference. Both Furyk (11th in points) and Stricker (10th) will need a Captain's selection if they don't make up ground this week.
Love, though, didn't say too much about who he's considering with his picks:
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...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.
A Seve story, for old time's sake:
Olazabal: Regarding moments or something to remember from The Ryder Cup that we played here in'91 with Seve [Ballesteros], 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 par5. 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.