‘Kissing your sister’ and ‘swamp chestnuts’: The BEST lines from Ryder Cup Day 3
Editor’s note: The Ryder Cup, after last being played two years ago, is now just two days away. But that’s also 48 hours. And 2,880 minutes. The point being, the biennial matches are as close as a par-3 — but yet feel as far away as a brutally long par-5. The second hand can seem stuck until Friday.
And then there are the press conferences. They, too, can mostly drag. After all, there are only so many ways to slice a golf ball, double-pun intended.
But there are tasty morsels.
So, starting Monday, as a means to get us to the moment when balls are in the air, we’ll offer a highlight or two. They might be technical. They might be insightful. They might be emotional.
They might be technically insightful, emotionally said.
They might include quotes about “kissing your sister,” being “mentally fatigued” and “swamp chestnuts,” like Wednesday’s.
Day three at Marco Simone was a hump day. We’re getting there, but we’re not there yet. Two days in, two days out. Practice rounds were again played. Press conferences were again held. There were 14 in all (eight Americans, six Europeans), and in total, they lasted — get ready for it — 5 hours, 18 minutes and 55 seconds. Oye. But we read every word. Including when:
A reporter’s question to Tyrrell Hatton included this: ‘Is there a feeling like kissing your sister?’
Notably, this was the second-best part of Hatton’s press conference — the highlight was a breakdown of the Englishman’s swearing, and you can read that here. But this is good, in an odd kind of way.
To set things up here, there’s been conversation this week on whether there should be ties in the event, following a draw last week at the Solheim Cup, which allowed Europe to retain the Cup after its win in the previous meeting.
And yes, there’s a phrase to express something that’s underwhelming, such as a tie.
It’s just that it was early. The exchange was started by the reporter.
“What do you feel about a tie or a draw at the end of the day? Is there a feeling like kissing your sister or — [here, Hatton twisted his head] — would you like to have a playoff of some sort? What do you feel about it?”
“That’s some question for 8:25 in the morning.”
“Yeah, but you’re the man for the job. Come on.”
“I don’t want to know what that — I don’t want to know what that’s like, what you referred to in the question.”
And Hatton went on to say he’d like a playoff. Still, there was one more question.
“Clarify, Tyrrell: Do you have a sister?”
“Yes, I do,” he said, laughing. “Yes.”
Max Homa said he also did not like ties
“I’ve never liked ties,” Homa said. “They don’t make sense to me. The whole point of any competition is to see who wins. So I do not like ties. I do not like the retaining thing.
“I understand it, I understand why they do it, but I’m not a fan of it. You have a completely new team, for instance, at the Solheim Cup, and they tied. Someone should play a playoff.
“I thought one of the most exciting things we’ve had, although it still ended in a tie, was Tiger [Woods] and Ernie [Els] playing at the Presidents Cup. That was one of the coolest memories you could have of a team event. You would, I guess, crave more of that if possible, plus we don’t tie very often in this thing. I don’t know, people much smarter than me would have an answer for that, but I don’t know, just ties leave a bad taste in my mouth.”
A reporter wondered what would happen if Wyndham Clark bumped into Rory McIlroy
Some quick background here. A week ago, on Golf Channel’s Golf Today, Clark had been asked how he would greet a singles matchup with McIlroy, and part of his response include this:
“I have the utmost respect for Rory — he is one of our great ambassadors of our game. He is obviously one of the best of all time and he is still going so he can be that. I have tons of respect for Rory and because of that respect, I also want to beat him. I like to think I am better than him and I want to prove that.”
And folks jumped on it. But it’s here where we’ll ask just this: Is he supposed to say he’s not better?
On Wednesday, Clark had a similar thought.
“If I say I think he’s better than me and he’s going to beat me,” he said, “then I’m going to get ridiculed because people don’t think I have any self-belief; and then if I have self-belief, which I do in myself, people take it out of context either way, so it was kind of a tough question.”
Still, a reporter wondered what would happen if Clark and McIlroy crossed paths this week, to which Clark answered:
“I don’t know if Rory saw the full interview or if he just saw the little snippet that everyone is running with or if he’s seen it at all. I have not seen him or talked to him. I would love to talk to him because I imagine he’d probably give me some jabs here and there.”
Clark also said the Europeans might be ‘a little mentally fatigued as this week goes on’
Later in the session, Clark talked about his preparation, saying he had practiced and played at home since the Tour Championship last month. On the other side, though, many of the Europeans have played in two events — and Clark added this:
“I think the European team, it’s great that they got to play, but I also think they might be maybe a little mentally fatigued as this week goes on. This is obviously a very intense environment and mentally challenging, and then also you put in a pretty physically demanding golf course being so hilly and up and down that maybe come Sunday they might be leaking oil and we’ll be fresh.”
Brian Harman said he was ‘a big flora fauna guy’
To note here, during his run to the Open Championship crown, Harman was questioned extensively about his love for the outdoors. Then came this exchange on Wednesday, started by a reporter:
“As a country boy, what are your impressions of Rome and your experience here so far?”
“I’m a big flora fauna guy, so I think they call them the Scot pine, the pines that have the canopy. They’re beautiful. Just been taking them in. I think there’s a few Linden trees hanging around downtown.
“It’s a beautiful place. I’ve been overwhelmed. Our hotel is incredible, and it looks out over the city. The history and just the magnitude of how long everything has been here is pretty overwhelming.”
There was more.
“As a tree guy myself, do you have an app …”
“Yeah, PictureThis,” Harman said. “Is that the one? It’s incredible. I use it at the farm because I’m like, well, damn, I saw the deer eating that weed or whatever, and I take a picture of it. All the herbs, they have the most incredible names — it’s like, purple top, whatever it is. It’s great.
“I was curious if you have a favorite tree?”
“Yeah, the swamp chestnut tree,” Harman said. “You guys aren’t familiar with swamp chestnuts? They call them cow oaks, too, because when we used to graze cattle, they would graze them through the swamps and they’d eat these giant acorns, so they call them cow oaks or swamp chestnuts.”
Collin Morikawa was what he had ‘made of Brian Harman close up’
“What’s the most interesting thing you’ve found out about a teammate in close proximity this week, and what have you made of Brian Harman close up?”
“I think Brian — what I’ve learned is that I’m still very young and I have a lot to learn because Brian Harman knows a lot of facts. He spits facts out of nowhere. He’s always questioning me about random things that I have no answer to.
“Even though I finished college, I have a lot to learn from him and everyone else.”
Brooks Koepka said he loved Harman
As GOLF’s Dylan Dethier detailed, Koepka said he believed that:
— Not everyone at the Ryder Cup would want to be in a deciding match
— That he was “representing the USA” — in response to a question on whether he was representing LIV Golf
Koepka, though, also had admiration for Harman. Here was this exchange, started by a reporter:
“Regarding Brian Harman, I think you’re viewed as one of the more mentally tough players out here, and he obviously went through a lot of BS at Liverpool to win that Open Championship this summer. What’s your take on him and how — he’s been overlooked a lot, and he’s got a chip on his shoulder a little bit because of that, and he expressed that after the Open Championship.”
“I love it. I love guys with a chip on their shoulder. I love guys that are very gritty, gritty players. That’s something when I first came out, that was who I kind of emulated. I thought, to me growing up, it was Dustin [Johnson] and then G-Mac [Graeme McDowell]. I thought they were both — well, G-Mac was just especially gritty. I don’t want to say — he’s got to work a little bit harder than everybody else and always finds a way to get it done, and I think Brian is quite similar. I think you can compare those games a little bit.
“I just love that. Never gives up. Always battling to the end and ready to prove people wrong.”
Robert MacIntyre said: ‘When I’m in the shower, I get the old tunes on and sing away, just like anyone’
MacIntyre is a rookie, and a reporter wondered how he was handling the buildup to Friday.
The conversation, rather quickly, got to him being in the shower.
“I know you’re not allowed to put your music on publicly,” the reporter started, “but are you reading anything or watching anything that’s helping you kill those hours when your mind could wander?”
“To be honest, there’s not much time to yourself other than when you’re sleeping,” MacIntyre said. “But it’s been — to be honest with you, I’m very relaxed just now. The buzz, the proper buzz hasn’t hit me yet. I think Friday or Thursday night, it will start to hit me a bit. Just now, I’m as chilled out as I ever have been, and I think it’s my personality. But I think on the music side of it, I don’t think they will let me control the music. I like my Gaelic, my kind of Teuchter music.”
The reporter asked some follow-ups.
“I’m an Englishman,” he said. “You’re going to have to explain that in great detail to me, I’m afraid.”
“It’s just the Scottish Highland music,” MacIntyre said. “Scottish Gaelic stuff. Sometimes not the best singers, but it’s a good party.”
“Is it bagpipes and stuff like that coming out?”
“No,” McIntyre said. “I mean, I try and not make it too loud, but when I’m in the shower, I get the old tunes on and sing away, just like anyone.”
“It’s a fascinating image, that,” the reporter said.
Rory McIlroy remembered the wigs
The highlight of McIlroy’s time may have been him saying that this week would “hit home” for the former European Ryder Cup players who had joined LIV Golf. But this exchange was good, and along the same lines.
To note, in 2009, as McIlroy was in line to play in his first Ryder Cup, he dismissed the event, saying: “It’s an exhibition at the end of the day. In the big scheme of things, it’s not that important of an event for me.”
Here was McIlroy on Wednesday, 14 years later:
“It was probably very early in the week at Celtic Manor. I took a bit of grief for those comments, and rightfully so.
“But I remember in 2010, in one of the practice rounds, I still had the sort of long, curly hair at that point and a few of the guys on the team came down to the first tee with wigs on and like sort of made a joke of it. Yeah, that meant a lot to me.
“I think just early in that week, and look, I said it in that little video piece I did earlier in the week. It’s not as if I didn’t play team golf before or knew what it was about. I think in 2009, I was just so focused on myself and trying to get my career off the ground that I felt like I had sort of bigger and better things to achieve for my individual goals and stuff like that that I just didn’t put any emphasis on making a Ryder Cup team until you make one, and then you never want to be off one again.
“I think that’s sort of the crux of it. So I love being a part of this team. My most enjoyable moments in my career have been being a part of European Ryder Cup teams. I’m still very, very proud and probably proudest of the things I’ve done as an individual, but nothing — nothing beats this week. It’s an amazing experience and I want to be a part of it for as long as I can.”
Rickie Fowler was asked for his thoughts on the Roman Empire
When in Rome, right? Here was his answer:
“Well, it probably would have — I probably would have had more knowledge on it back in probably middle school when I was taking history classes and it was a bit more fresh. It was special to walk around because when we left here and went back, I was in New York for two days, and you see the things that are older for our home country, and we’re over here, and then you think of the timeline of Rome and walking around and seeing all the ruins and what an old building really is. You think of an old building in the U.S., and it’s pretty darned new.
“I think one of the things probably to take from the Roman Empire or kind of the history over here is patience, understanding what it took for them to build things back then. It’s hard to wrap your head around it when you look at really anything, but walking by the Pantheon and seeing how small the bricks are that ultimately make up that structure, it’s not like those bricks were being printed out at a factory down the street. Everything is handmade.
“I think a big thing with that is kind of seeing the big picture and having the patience to understand what it takes to get from start to finish.”
Matt Fitzpatrick talked about some clever thievery
At the last Ryder Cup, in 2021 at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, Fitzpatrick and opponent Daniel Berger were last off in Sunday singles — and they were left mostly left by their lonesome, as the Americans clinched relatively early.
The scene was strange, Fitzpatrick said. But his caddie, longtime bagman Billy Foster, took advantage.
“It was great, though,” Fitzpatrick said, “because Billy and Daniel Berger’s caddie at the time just took every flag, so I’m sure they have got the most mementos because nobody really cared.
“I ended up — I was talking to Daniel Berger as we were going around, and we were kind of saying, it’s pretty dead. This match didn’t really have any significance, really, by the time we got to maybe the 10th or 12th hole, really. Yeah, it was a little bit odd.”
Scottie Scheffler said ‘I mean, basically he just told me I sucked’
Scheffler was asked extensively of his new relationship with putting coach Phil Kenyon, and he went extensive in his answers.
In short, Scheffler believes he may have solved his recent putting woes.
“I had a feeling what I was doing wrong,” he said. “It was something that — my suspensions were kind of answered. It was just I was trying to fix it in the complete wrong way. To get into the details of it would take a little bit of time, but it’s really very simple.
“The way I moved the putter through the ball, I was kind of fighting the toe rising on the putter as I went through, and so sometimes I’d miss contact a little bit in the heel. In order for me to try to keep my putter head low, the way I would do it is I feel everything in my hands, and what I would do is I would lower my hands. But when I lowered my hands, it actually caused the toe of the putter to go higher and higher. So as the year went on, my hands are getting lower and lower, and the problem is getting worse and worse.
“It was something I couldn’t figure out, and it was preventing me from hitting as many putts on line as I should have. Like I said this year, I really did hit a lot of good putts. Now I feel like I’m much more consistent hitting my start line, especially my practice.
“I see the ball rolling end over end a lot more than I did a month ago, and it’s exciting. It’s good for me to have a little bit of direction. I think the second set of eyes with Phil was really, really helpful. It was good to get my brain in order and feel like I’m working in the right direction versus playing a bit of a guessing game. So Phil has been really helpful.”
But we’re burying the lead.
Scheffler had started his answer this way:
“Yeah, well, I mean, basically he just told me I sucked, [and] he couldn’t believe I ever won a tournament with how I putted.
“That’s what you want to hear, right?”
Two more days to go.