Ryder Cup Tuesday brought the first full day of serious practice and 14 media centre interviews that threw up the usual questions about Europe's "template", targeting "big dogs", Rickie Fowler's haircut and exactly how shy/odd is Victor Dubuisson.
As far as news go, we had confirmation from Paul McGinley that Alex Ferguson was to give the European team a motivational talk on Tuesday night and the real reason why Graeme McDowell might not be paired with Rory McIlroy — he's simply not comfortable in the new dynamic that's been created since his former stablemate became a dominant, major winning juggernaut.
As far as the on-course stuff went, Europe went out in threes with Miguel Angel Jimenez accompanying Henrik Stenson, Dubuisson and McDowell; Sam Torrance with McIlroy, Sergio Garica and Martin Kaymer; Des Smyth with Ian Poulter, Justin Rose and Stephen Gallacher and Jose Maria Olazabal with Jamie Donaldson, Thomas Bjorn and Lee Westwood. Pádraig Harrington appeared to roam with Paul McGinley, indicating that he may continue in that role with the other four assistants remaining with their threesomes, unless McGinley changes plans.
On the Seve quote that can be seen from the first tee:
Seve lives with us. He lives with The Ryder Cup more than anything, but he lives with us as a team. He's a huge inspiration to this team and he always will be... He will live with us forever... I'll still look back at it as some of the best days of my life to get close to a man that was that great for this game.
Does anybody really know Victor? (Laughter). Victor, I mean, he's brilliant.
Apparently Bjorn is pretty good at table tennis:
"I played table tennis last night with Thomas Björn, who had a jumper on and I had a tee shirt on and I was dripping with sweat and he didn't have any sweat on him at all, and he battered me 3-nil. He was winding me up all morning, and I'll be looking to playing him tonight. So it's very relaxed in there, and it's a great environment."
On the strength of the European team:
"Well, I've played on some strong ones, but I tell you, this is right up there. It's equally as strong. We've got a lot of very good world-class players. Pretty much, with the exception of maybe one, all the big tournaments this year have been won by Europeans and people on this team. We are in a pretty good position. We're confident without being complacent ..."
And Rickie's hair:
I've seen it. I've touched it. I gave it a stroke yesterday on the range. (Laughter).
On that green wig at The K Club:
"But yeah, 2006 is such a long time ago, you know. I can't quite remember. I was not quiet when I had that green wig on, anyway, on Sunday afternoon, I know that much."
Q. Who is the most annoying American? Who is our Poulter?
HENRIK STENSON: I wouldn't say it's on the team. Possibly someone in close proximity (laughter).
On the pressures of hitting the first shot and holing the winning putt:
They're very unusual scenarios because you crave them, but when you're actually there, you kind of sometimes wish you weren't there because it is very, very -- it's very hard, and all you can think about is not messing up. When you do come out the other end of them, if you do succeed in that type of environment, they are very, very rewarding, as well.
On why the Ryder Cup might be better every three years:
I've spoken to a few of them (Americans) and they are of the belief that this needs to be every three years so that they can play a Ryder Cup and a Presidents Cup and have a year off. I would be a supporter of that. I think for their level of engagement, they need that, because when you look at the Tigers and Phils and Strickers and Furyks who have played eight, nine, ten, 12 of these in a row, they do lose their shine.
And why playing with Rory is possibly not an option:
I think myself and Rory, there's no doubt our personal issues have been well documented the last couple years. And I believe that we've both come out of the other end of that probably better friends than we were going into it. So our personal issues are not a problem this weekend, so that's a fact. I think tactically, you know, Rory and I's golf dynamic has changed significantly from the first time we ever played together back in 2009 or at the Seve Trophy, whatever it was, when perhaps the older brother/kind of younger brother leadership role that maybe I had with him, that's changed. He's the world's No. 1 player. He's a four-time Major Champion. The dynamic between him and I is changed forever. He would now be the leader of the two of us and perhaps the dynamic doesn't work as well as it did in the past. Perhaps I'm the kind of guy that needs that leadership role a little bit, who needs to feel like he is on at least on a level with the guy he's playing with. I'll be the first to admit it. Medinah a couple years ago, and Rory and I spoke about this, I found the better ball format very difficult with him because he likes to go first, I let him at it, and I kind of comes second. You know, he's standing there beating it 350 down the middle, and I put my tee in the ground thinking there's not really a lot of point in me hitting this tee shot and find myself throwing myself at it, and literally it kind of didn't help my game much at Medinah playing better-ball with him. Foursomes I think is different. I think we could still play foursomes really well together.... I've spoken to McGinley about this, as well, because he felt like himself and Harrington were the same way. They gelled well as a partnership in their early days, but when Harrington became the star, the dynamic changed from a tactical point of view.... I would really embrace the opportunity to play perhaps foursomes with Rory at some point this weekend. We are both up for it. And like Paul says, though, he feels like I could be best used somewhere else, kind of like we alluded to earlier, and Rory certainly can play with anyone. So we might be best served apart.
The Frenchman appeared on the verge of falling asleep a few times during his interview session. One question needed repeating:
"Q. You've been described as an enigma and the Greta Garbo of golf?
VICTOR DUBUISSON: A what?
Q. The Greta Garbo of golf. How would you describe yourself?
VICTOR DUBUISSON: I would describe myself on the golf, on the golf course, as probably a quiet and humble person. But then everybody has two different -- I think when you are at your work and when you are outside with your friends, it's very different. Honestly, you can ask the other players. I'm very funny and cool guy (laughter), but on the course, I'm not shy. Just I prefer to be quiet and humble than the opposite (smiling)."
On the golf course set up:
"The rough is a little thicker than we would have liked it, but I think that's down to the warm Scottish September that we've had, along with some heavy showers."
On Sir Alex Ferguson giving a team talk:
"I've always loved the way his teams played. And there's a number of things that he's dealing with that he was particularly good at that I think he'll be a particularly strong fit."
On managing Victor's shyness:
"Yeah, it's a challenge. Every player is different. You know, not everybody is Ian Poulter. He's a challenge, as well, too, for a different reason."
On fears that Poulter will be targeted:
"Every Ryder Cup, you go in and you question is Ian Poulter going to perform, and he does. His record is sensational and he's very proud of it, very proud of that, and he's motivated this week obviously....That's one of the fruits of all his labours in The Ryder Cup is to have a target on him. I think Ian Poulter is relishing that. He's relishing that fact. He likes playing the villain. He was the villain in America in Medinah. He was the guy they all wanted to bring down and he went out and produced, and not only did he produce Saturday night but he went out on Sunday and produced in the singles again. This is a guy that relishes this situation and relishes The Ryder Cup and he absolutely loves it. It's one of those things that comes with the territory. If you're as successful in Ryder Cups as Ian Poulter is, you're going to be a targeted man
On the template and not being a maverick captain:
"Yeah, the template is huge. It's a wide template. There's big parts, big components in that, and natural pairings are a big part of it. The attitude that we have in the team room that's obviously very private and confidential, that is a template that, again, what I see my role doing as captain. I said it the very first day I became captain, I don't see myself as a maverick. I see myself as a guy who has been very lucky to ride shotgun on a lot of success, both as a player and vice captain. I've learned a lot from the captains I've played under and been vice captain. This is not a time for me or Europe to have a maverick captain. It's a time for me to go in, identify the template, which I'm very in my own head, enhance it and try to make it better, roll it out again and then hopefully you hand it over to the next captain when he comes into position, whenever that may be."
On the G-Mac factor:
He's got a big heart, a big, big heart, we know that. He's going to be a big player this week. He brings a lot to the team, a huge amount to the team.
He'll have a motivational speaker but he clearly believes he's the motivator:
"I've already given them some talks (laughter). And will be continuing."
Is he jet-lagged or tired already? A mixture of both seems likely:
"The biggest difference between '93 and now is the amount of time that I spend with the media and those types of responsibilities. It wasn't like that in '93. There was times in '93 that I had lots of lulls. Right now, it doesn't seem like I have a single lull any time."
He's had 14 partners in eight years. Hard to play with or versatile?
I like to look at the positive side of that. I'm like the utility infielder that leads off now. Half these people have no idea what I'm talking about. These are all baseball references, by the way. (Laughter).
On whether it's religion that helps him gel well with Webb Simpson:
"No, I didn't say I like partners that believe the same thing I do off the course. I just said that's how me and him have partnered up well because of our personalities. I can play with anybody on the team. Maybe they don't want to play with me, but yeah, me and Webb have just gelled so well. But yes, we go to Bible study together and believe in the Bible together and we can talk about different things and things we believe in."
Never mind his possible pairing with Jordan Spieth, like everyone else in the media centre he's already wishing it was Friday:
"Here we are Tuesday, and Friday is a long way away. I mean, I think you could talk to the 24 players and everybody would like to get started tomorrow.
Q. Us, too."
He couldn't believe the Tom Watson has organised an American soccer supporters group to sing and counteract the Europeans:
Q. One thing that strikes me as a bit different about this Ryder Cup is the story that the Americans plan to bring over a choir to drown out the sounds of the crowd. What do you make of that?
ZACH JOHNSON: I don't know what you're referring to. Our team is?
Q. There are stories in the newspapers that Tom Watson might be bringing a choir over.
ZACH JOHNSON: That's the first I've heard of that.
Q. What do you think, good idea?
ZACH JOHNSON: Like a choir for our team room or like a choir on the golf course?
Q. On the golf course.
ZACH JOHNSON: I'd have to think about that one. That's news to me. Is this conjecture? (Laughter).
He was on the Junior Ryder Cup team at Gleneagles in 2010. He's also got an observant caddie:
"Q. Did you notice your name was spelled incorrectly on the practise range, and what did you think of that?
JORDAN SPIETH: I didn't. Of course Michael, my caddie, of course he noticed and let me know. But I saw it and I said, hey, there's no surprise there. They spelled it like it sounds, I guess. It happens all the time. It's got to be the Europeans just, you know, trying to get under your skin early (laughter)."
He duffed a chip and lost the decisive match to Graeme McDowell at Celtic Manor on his last appearance in 2010. He hasn't forgotten:
"Yeah, it feels great to be back. Tough thing about The Ryder Cup is when you win, you get to cherish it for two years; and when you lose, it takes awhile to get over and you have to wait hopefully two years to come back. It's taken me four. It's good to be back and excited for this week and this opportunity."