EURASIA CUP presented by DRB-HICOM
Wednesday, January 13, 2016
PAUL SYMES: Thanks for joining us, I’m sure this air conditioning comes as a blessed relief after spending the morning in the oppressive heat. Start with you, Lee. As one of the team’s elder statesmen this week, do you feel a certain —
LEE WESTWOOD: Ouch. I wasn’t ready for that.
PAUL SYMES: — responsibility to be matched with the likes of Matt through the week, given the amount of experience you’ve got in Ryder Cups?
LEE WESTWOOD: I think all the lads that are playing this week are great players in their own right and they really don’t need much. They have played on a big stage before, maybe not so much team golf but I’m sure they have played a bit of team golf coming through the amateur ranks, things like that.
But it’s the same principle as anything else: You try to hit it down the middle, hit it close and then make the putt. That takes care of most forms of golf. Obviously this week and later on in the year, you’re representing Europe, but you try to not let that get in the way and not let that kind of thinking get in the way and just do your own thing, play your own game, and the game that got you into the team, and hopefully that’s good enough to win your points.
PAUL SYMES: How about you, Matt, you may be the youngest member of the team, but you’ve obviously played a lot of team and match-play golf during your amateur days, so it’s familiar.
MATT FITZPATRICK: Yeah, obviously I’m playing foursomes and fourballs, well, last time I did, was Ryder Cup two years ago — I wish — Walker Cup, two years ago. So I played it then. Obviously some of these guys, it’s probably four, five, six years, since they have played amateur golf — 24.
PAUL SYMES: Who’s counting.
MATT FITZPATRICK: For me, I always enjoy it and it seems like all the lads are enjoying it so far. That’s the big thing, you’ve got to go out there and play as well as you can but at the same time enjoy it.
PAUL SYMES: How about you, Shane, EurAsia Cup this week, but I’m sure The Ryder Cup will be very much in the back of your minds, as well. Good opportunity to impress Darren Clarke?
SHANE LOWRY: Yeah, I suppose you could look at it like that but you know, EurAsia Cup is its own tournament in its own right, and we want to play as well as we can and we want to try and win on Sunday. I’m pretty sure that the 12 of us will noting thinking anything about The Ryder Cup in 40 degrees on Friday, Saturday, Sunday.
But it’s just kind of one of those things, it’s nice to be here. Obviously the start of our season, first of all, and it’s a nice tournament to start the year and hopefully we can start it well. Team event, it’s always very fun and we’re having a good laugh in the team room. It’s just a nice environment to be in, a bit of change, you know.
Q. Europe keeps stats on player’s strengths and weaknesses. Just wondering how big a factor is that going to be for the team pairings?
LEE WESTWOOD: I think it’s good for pairing people up. You obviously want — in foursomes, you want similar kind of games. So, you know, if you do take stats and people’s strengths and weaknesses, you can match those up. Obviously if you play a certain kind of way and then they put you with someone that plays completely differently, that’s going to be kind of an alien game to you, and that’s not going to fit nicely for foursomes.
Obviously four-ball, slightly different, because just play your own ball, but I think stats certainly help. I think we all keep them pretty much throughout the year and The European Tour does a good job with their stats, and some people employ their own statisticians. But I think it’s part of the modern game now. Anything that you can use to your an obviously is going to help, even on a week like this week, trying to match games up.
Q. One of the first tournaments that I covered was 1997, I think the Malaysian Open that you won, long time ago. How do you manage to overcome this heat and the humidity problems so well? Because whenever you play over here in this part, you seem to do so well, and have you revealed your secrets to your other team members and told them what it is?
LEE WESTWOOD: I haven’t revealed any secrets. Obviously being such a finally-tuned athlete (laughter) helps. But I think it’s so hot here, I don’t think you ever get used to the heat and humidity. Everybody is out there suffering along.
It’s just I’ve always thought that you try and — obviously try and drink a lot and stay hydrated, take your electrolytes, things like that. But it’s the fact that you try not to let the heat get to you and affect you mentally. Make sure your thinking is still clear at the end of the round. Kind of what you did for the first 12 holes sets you up for the way your body reacts over the last six. That’s where people drop shots on a long, hot day. On the last few holes, you can whittle a few shots away but if you’ve done all the preparation leading up to that, obviously the last few holes are very important.
Q. The fact that Darren picked you and Poulter as captain’s picks, does it mean that the spotlight is on you guys; is winning the only option then? How much pressure do you guys feel because of that?
LEE WESTWOOD: I think Darren probably looked at his team and sees it’s a young tee. Not too much team golf experience in it and wanted some experience in there. Therefore, he’s picked myself and Ian. Obviously when you’re a captain’s pick, you feel a little bit more pressure to perform and validate that pick. But I’ve been a pick for The Ryder Cup a couple of times, and this is the first time I’ve played the EurAsia Cup obviously and obviously got picked this week.
I know I’m experienced enough and like I said before, you just try and go out there and play the game you know you can play and hopefully the other two guys or the guy in singles doesn’t play as well as you and you win a point.
Q. Can I ask Matt, obviously your first EurAsia Cup, you’ve played Walker Cup Team game before. The first couple of days that you’ve been here, what’s the kind of taste that you’ve got towards your Ryder Cup ambition?
MATT FITZPATRICK: I think the big thing is probably the banter within the team, really. I think everyone on the outside probably thinks we’re all so serious and really grim, but it feels like it’s just one big laugh.
Me personally, haven’t stopped laughing all day, playing with Willett, Lee and Poulter. I think for me, it’s obviously something I really enjoy and doesn’t feel like there’s so much pressure so far. It’s good to just keep enjoying it.
PAUL SYMES: Perhaps your say on the camaraderie in the team room, as well. Has it been enjoyable for you?
SHANE LOWRY: Most of us only got here yesterday, so only a day into it. Yeah, we spend a lot of time together, anyway, in players’ lounges all the way around the world. But being in the team environment, sitting around, having a laugh, there’s a bit of time to be wasted, as well, just before meetings or whatever, just before dinner and stuff like that.
It is different, but it feels like the same, you know, because you’re around the same people anyway. It’s one of those things, like we have a good laugh, like we’re going out for dinner this evening, and it’s just you’re going out for dinner with the lads and it’s all good. When we get on the first tee, that’s maybe when it gets a bit serious, you know.
Q. Can I ask you a slightly unpleasant question? At the end of the year, you were not at all happy with the way you were putting, and I remember in Shanghai, I saw you putting until about 8.00 when it was pitch dark and you were still putting out there. So was it a golf-free Christmas for you or were you working hard at it over Christmas, and how are you feeling at the beginning of the new year?
SHANE LOWRY: No, I’ve gone back to an old putter that I used last year at the end of 2014, start of 2015. I had four weeks without touching a club, and the last sort of two weeks, I got back into it, which is nice.
Yeah, I didn’t do well at the end of the year, but it was only for my last three tournaments. It was not like I was putting badly for six months. It was kind of only a few events and it wasn’t — obviously it’s the reason I didn’t do well, but I’m here this week and I actually putted nicely today. Felt like I holed out well.
I feel fine. I think it’s just towards the end of a long year, and you know, I was feeling a bit — with my whole game, I was a bit deflated I think towards the end of the year last year. But I’m ready to go this year now after four weeks off.
PAUL SYMES: Thanks again.