‘American girls’ and ABBA? The BEST lines from Ryder Cup Day 2 interviews
Editor’s note: The Ryder Cup, after last being played two years ago, is now just three days away. But that’s also 72 hours. And 4,320 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 American girls, ABBA and grumpiness, like Tuesday’s.
(And if you’re interested in a highlight from day one, please click here.)
Day two at Marco Simone was getting-settled-in day. Practice rounds were played. Potential pairings were previewed. Press conferences were held. There were 12 in all — the two captains, four Americans, six Europeans — across a whopping 3 hours, 17 minutes and 22 seconds. Whew. But we read every word. Including when:
Justin Thomas said: “If Jill teed it up in the Ryder Cup for the other team, I’m going to try to beat her pretty bad”
Over the course of his session, Thomas was asked several questions about his passion for the event. A reporter then wondered how you would not let things get personal afterward.
“I would say I would just kind of channel, honestly, the things that I feel because I don’t — Rory [McIlroy] is a great example. I love Rory. We get along extremely well. He’s been a role model of mine. He was super nice to me when I was first starting up. He still is. We see each other a bunch. Yeah, we played each other in the Ryder Cup and, yeah, we hated each other for 18 holes. Again, it’s nothing personal. It’s not a dislike as a person.
“It’s just my wife knows, if Jill teed it up in the Ryder Cup for the other team, I’m going to try to beat her pretty bad.
“It’s nothing personal.”
European captain Luke Donald talked about ‘American girls’
That came after a question about Sepp Straka. To note here, Straka is Austrian, but has lived in the U.S. for the past 16 years and has a somewhat Southern accent.
So Donald was asked how he was mixing in. Was he getting ribbed?
“No, no ribbing. We are one of 12 — everyone is one of 12 this week. There is no hierarchy, certainly, and Sepp is enjoying the team atmosphere. We saw how well he enjoyed it and really mixed in very well with the guys even in January at the Hero Cup. Again, that showed a lot of commitment flying all the way from Maui to Abu Dhabi.
“He might have an American accent and lives in Georgia, but there’s a few of us that live in America and a few of us that are married to American girls. It’s just the way it is. We are all Team Europe this week.”
U.S. captain Zach Johnson was asked about the ‘media’
Yes, this is a member of the media, writing about a question from the media, about the media. How Inception-like. Here is the exchange, started by the reporter:
“Can you explain to me why most of the media, they say about the U.S. team are favorite, and these team captain, they say 50/50, say something different, we are favorite and why.”
“What? I’m sorry.”
“Most of the media say the U.S. team are the favorite.”
“The media is saying we are the favorites? Well, the media knows everything so that makes sense.”
“Why do you think they say this?”
“I have no idea.”
“Can you say something different so you don’t say …”
“I’m not going to speak on behalf of anybody else, let alone the media. I appreciate them and know they are doing their job. I don’t know what media you are referring to because I really try to ignore the noise, no offense. I appreciate it all. The way I see it when it comes to favorites or this, that or the other, we are not the favorites when we step onto the first tee because of the crowd. We are not the favorites because of what’s happened and transpired over the last so-many-odd years, and they have got a really, really good team playing well. So hey, I love that. Our backs are against the wall, and that’s the way we are going to approach it.”
Here, author and Golf Digest contributor Shane Ryan then immediately asked the following.
“Zach, are you guys the favorites?”
“I’m still trying to figure out your question from yesterday.”
A day earlier, he notably had asked Donald and Johnson to compare their teams to the Roman Empire.
Ludvig Aberg talked about how he’s nowhere near ABBA
Aberg, from Sweden, was asked about others from Sweden.
“We all love your country, Sweden, but there are not too many famous Swedes. ABBA, Henrik Stenson, [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic, Björn Borg. How does it feel for you to be as famous as them in such a short time, and could you go on to actually eclipse those guys and become Sweden’s most famous person?
“I would not put myself in the same sentence as ABBA,” Aberg said. “All I try to do is play golf and I try to hit as few shots as I can every tournament I play in.”
Let’s break this up then with some Dancing Queen.
Jon Rahm said he would pay to play in the Ryder Cup — and joked about Aberg
Rahm, as fervent as anyone over the Ryder Cup, was asked if he would pay to play in the event.
“Pay for what and how much?”
“I think it’s negotiable,” a reporter said.
“I mean, if there was an entry fee to be a part of a team?”
“Probably, yes,” Rahm said. “This week is a lot of fun, so yeah, I think as long as it’s manageable for everybody on the team, because we have one that was in college like two days ago.”
Aberg, notably, was playing college golf as late as May.
Patrick Cantlay talked about grumpiness
“He’s very positive,” Cantlay said, laughing.
That’s a contrast?
Cantlay then expanded on it. Later, there was this exchange, started by a reporter:
“Going back to your first answer about Xander being the yang to your yin and him being super positive, that makes me feel you’re a grumpy kind of guy. Is that fair enough?”
“Did you just get that notion right now?”
“I’m a mind reader.”
“Most people would be grumpy around Xander. He is like Tony Robbins out there. He is impressively positive. I think the nice way to say it is I’m a realist.”
Xander Schauffele talked about Cantlay — the joke teller
Schauffele followed Cantlay, and he was asked a similar question: What would he get from his partner?
“Positivity,” he said, smiling.
Then came this exchange, started by a reporter:
“A very quick, simple question. Has Patrick Cantlay ever told you a joke?”
“He actually was just telling a ton of jokes at lunch. None that I can repeat in this room, obviously.”
“Depends on what rude means to you.”
Tommy Fleetwood talked about how things may not be as they seem
How difficult a balancing act is it for someone like Phil Kenyon this week with a foot in both camps?
Fleetwood was ready for the question.
“Well, that’s what the Americans think,” he said, smiling.
He then talked seriously on the subject.
Jordan Spieth talked about being yelled at
“I can’t say I’ve had experiences like that. I can’t say that it would be something that would motivate me or not. In fact, I try and just throw it out of my head and just stick to what I’m doing because I think blocking out the noise is the healthiest thing to do, and that’s because I’m a guy that — I played a lot of matches with Patrick Reed, [and] when he felt insulted, he turned the notch up. When I feel insulted, I don’t turn it up or down. I’m just like, OK, they are drunk, move on. [He laughed.]
“I’ve also shouted plenty of things at sporting events at people that I have no reason to do, so I also try to say, pot and kettle, and recognize that it’s all just sport and move on.”
Shane Lowry revealed something he maybe shouldn’t have
Two years ago, in his Ryder Cup debut, Lowry said he cried — and that he hadn’t done so when he won the Open Championship in 2019, nor when a daughter was born weeks earlier. On Tuesday, he was asked if that showed how much the event meant to him.
“Yeah, look, it’s an emotional week, and even some of the stuff that’s happened already this week would get you quite emotional.”
“As I was saying that, I was like, probably shouldn’t be saying this …”
“No, look, a lot of stuff goes into this week, and there’s videos that are played in the team rooms in the evenings, motivational videos, and just kind of hits home a little bit. I’m not going to elaborate much further than that, but Luke and his team have done a great job already this week on Monday and Tuesday. Yeah, I’m excited for what’s to come the rest of the week.
Has Lowry cried already?”
Does he just cry a lot now?
Didn’t he once say he didn’t cry when his daughter was born — and now he’s crying here?
Sepp Straka talked about his arms
Straka, a Ryder Cup rookie, was asked if he’s questioned veterans McIlroy and Justin Rose about the experience. He said he has.
“Yeah, definitely, you’ve got to lean on those guys. It’s incredible how many Ryder Cups they have been a part of and been successful in. Yeah, a typical question like, ‘What do you on the first tee box when you can’t feel your arms,’ kind of thing. But yeah, overall the goal is you’ve just got to play golf. But yeah, just sharing stories and hearing stories from them has been helpful.”
What do you do when you can’t feel your arms?
“Hope, I guess. Yeah, maybe just stick to the routine and hope you make a good swing.”
Viktor Hovland talked about hate
Hovland was asked about the changing of the rivalry. Here was the complete exchange, started by a reporter:
“Talking to guys like Paul McGinley, he speaks a lot about the rivalry that used to be more clear in the way that Europeans played in Europe, Americans played in America. Nowadays, you guys pretty much all play together. You’ve grown up with Collin Morikawa. How does it affect the rivalry of the Ryder Cup, in your opinion?”
“I can’t speak for the guys that played in the past,” Hovland said, “but it seems that we probably hate each other less than guys used to in the past.
“But sure, hate is a big motivator to do well. That’s just a fact. But I think where we are now, we’re more motivated maybe to win for our country and continent. We want to win for Europe. It’s not so much to — obviously we want to beat the Americans. We enjoy that.
“But it’s not because we hate the other team. It’s because we love Europe and we want to do well for the people that support us.”
Three more days to go.
Editor’s note: To watch Johnson’s Tuesday press conference, please click here. To watch Donald’s Tuesday press conference, please click here. To watch the press conferences of the four Americans, please click here. To watch the press conferences of the six Europeans, please click here.