GB&I Press Conference (Day 2)


By USGA
September 8, 2013

THE MODERATOR:  Good evening, everybody.  We're pleased to be joined by Nigel Edwards, captain of the Walker Cup team for Great Britain and Ireland; Kevin Phelan and Matthew Fitzpatrick.  Captain Edwards, let's begin with you.  Your impressions, please, on what must be obviously a disappointing loss today.

NIGEL EDWARDS:  Yeah.  Naturally very disappointed.  We didn't do the simple things well.  We didn't hole out well enough.  We missed greens with wedges, which is very costly, especially when the punishment of short‑siding yourself was so severe.

You know, the lads ‑‑ you know, they played their hearts out.  It's not that they haven't tried.  They have tried, and of course, we're disappointed because they've had such success this year and in recent years that it makes it all the more disappointing.

But we have to deal with that, and I'm sure that they will all learn from the experience and go forward and develop themselves into better players, whether it's as a professional or continue as an amateur because quite a few of them are in college, and some of them are staying amateur and playing in the UK.

THE MODERATOR:  Kevin, Matthew, you have a lot to be proud of this week.  You both won your matches today in singles.  What do you take away from this experience?

KEVIN PHELAN:  It was a great week, and being on the team for ten days was excellent and I really enjoyed it.  I'm sure I'll remember it for a very long time.  I just really enjoyed the week.  It would have been nice to have been a bit closer today and give it a good run at the end, but we all did our very best and we came up a bit short, but it was a great week for all of us.

MATTHEW FITZPATRICK:  No, I agree, the same.  Had a great week at the start, getting some new experiences, going into New York.  That was good.  And then getting here and prepping for the week was good as well.  Obviously we're all very disappointed about the result, but like Nigel said, we all tried our best, so can't ask for much more than that.

THE MODERATOR:  Questions for GB & I.

Q.  Kevin, I know you're turning pro.  Matthew, you're going to Northwestern, obviously.  I'm just wondering how many guys, Nigel, do you think are going to come back and have a chance of playing in two years' time?  You'll probably be one of them.  And Gavin Moynihan and anyone else?  Rhys Pugh?

NIGEL EDWARDS:  Yeah.  I think Rhys Pugh.  I believe he's got two years to finish in college, and I'm sure his parents are very keen on him finishing college and getting his degree.  Couple of the English guys are turning pro.  I think Max Orrin is definitely going; Neil Raymond is definitely going, and a couple of them are going to tour school.  Ideally I wouldn't like them to go to tour school, not all of them anyway, but they are.

I'm being totally selfish in my job with England golf because I want continued success.  The World [Amateur] Championships take place in Japan next year, and I'm sure that we'd have a very strong team for that.

But the other lads, the majority of them are staying ‑‑ well, the others out of that are staying amateur, I believe, but you never know because these things change quite quickly, don't they.

Q.  I know it's in the aftermath of the match, but where do you stand on two years' time in terms of captaincy?

NIGEL EDWARDS:  I think it's up to The R&A to choose who the captain is.  I haven't been asked.  So whoever it is, you know, I don't think ‑‑ it would be setting a precedent if I was to be appointed for 2015, but it's not my decision really.

Q.  What would you do if you're asked?

NIGEL EDWARDS:  Of course you'd do it.  Wouldn't anyone captain GB&I?  I don't really think I'm good enough now having lost by such a heavy margin today.

I put my heart and soul into ‑‑ over the last four years into captaining the team, and it would have been lovely to have won here this week.  Clearly it's very disappointing, but I think it was only small margins, even though it was a big margin.

That's a bit of a contradiction in what I'm saying there, but there were a couple of games that went up the last ‑‑ yesterday afternoon in particular that had we won them instead of losing them when we were all square playing the last, it would have been very different ‑‑ or should have, would have, could haves don't count, do they?

It is small margins, but that's the same in any team match play event or any stroke play event that you see week to week throughout the year.

But yes, of course, if I was asked, I'd do it.  Obviously I'd have to consult with my family because it's such a huge commitment, and obviously with England Golf because I've got a very busy job there, although it does dove tail quite nicely.

Q.  Nigel, you kind of talked about the fact that down the stretch at 18 obviously sometimes there were critical matches.  There was one yesterday, there was one this morning.  There was one actually in the Friday foursomes where the U. S. actually got a half a point where it didn't look that we were going to.  Can you talk about it looked like the U. S. actually played the 18th hole a little better than the GB & I team did.  Do you have any idea why that might be?

NIGEL EDWARDS:  Not really sure.  I mean it's easy to see from the sidelines and criticize every shot, isn't it?  There's some tough pins there.  It looks like a very wide green when you're playing from down in the fairway, but boy, that ball runs off to the left very, very sharply.  And I can't remember who ‑‑ it was somebody's shot this morning and went down, and I didn't think that was left of the green.

It was Garrick, Garrick and Rhys.  And Rhys didn't play a bad pitch, but I went down there after he played it, and it was pretty severe shot in there to that back flag.

I suppose ‑‑ when you're playing to win, you've gotta try and be aggressive, but at the same time you've gotta try and play with patience.  And with hindsight, I guess you play 20 yards short of every flag or 20 yards right of every flag on 18, especially when that wind is whipping across.  But they're going in with long clubs off slopey lies.  It's not an easy golf shot.  The ground is very firm, and it's a tough shot, and the Americans played it better than us.

Q.  Matthew and Kevin, your captain seems to be beating himself up over the fact that you guys lost today and then suggesting that maybe the margin was something he could have done something about.  Can you talk about his captaincy and is there anything that he could have done that you know of that could have made the difference?

MATTHEW FITZPATRICK:  For me personally, I think Nigel has been a great captain, very enthusiastic and motivating.  You certainly want to succeed for him.

My personal view, I don't think it's his fault at all.  So I don't think he should be beating himself up about it.  It's one of those things where they picked for me the best 10 players in GB&I.  And just not got there, not played well enough, I guess, as a team.

No offense to ‑‑ I'm not saying ‑‑ no offense to any of the lads, but it was one of those like Nigel said, the Americans holed more putts than us, and that's the way it goes really.

And I just think that's the reason why they edged it by a bit more.

KEVIN PHELAN:  Yeah, the very same.  Nigel has been an excellent captain.  I thoroughly enjoyed playing under him.  And I think I learned a lot from him, and I really appreciate the effort he put in, not just this week but the last couple of years in preparation.  It was a joy to play under Nigel, and it's by no means Nigel's fault.

Q.  This is really for all three of you.  Nigel, maybe you could start.  Did you guys practice in this type of wind, and is it more or less ‑‑ I mean did you see the course in this type of wind while you were practicing?  And is it more or less wind than you had expected?

NIGEL EDWARDS:  We practiced in the wind quite a lot back in the UK.

Q.  I mean playing this golf course.  Did you have any windy days while you practiced here?

NIGEL EDWARDS:  I don't know.  I'd have to go home ‑‑

MATTHEW FITZPATRICK:  We had a few.  Probably say, what did we practice for four days?

KEVIN PHELAN:  Yeah.  It was windy a couple of days and maybe not quite as strong as it was this afternoon, we got to see some winds.

Q.  It seemed on both sides there was an awful lot of balls coming up short.  Not just you guys, but both sides a ton of balls coming up short all over the golf course and it seems to me like that wind might not have been expected.

NIGEL EDWARDS:  I think there were balls coming up short, there were balls going long.  This is a very, very severe golf course.  You know, perhaps if you get a chance to play tomorrow, you'll realize how tough it is and we'll put a card in your hand and see what you score.

It is a tough golf course.  The boys did practice in the wind.  We wanted to go to Shinnecock Wednesday just to break up the week a little bit, but because of the weather on Tuesday, that sort of interrupted that.  But the boys didn't go round and round and round in circles.  They're used to playing in tough conditions, and hat's off to the Americans.  They adapted to it better than us.

Q.  Is it possible that the Americans adapted better with more rounds, more practice rounds here under their belt?

NIGEL EDWARDS:  I don't think so.  I mean if we ‑‑ we holed probably two putts from six feet each the rest of the week.  You know, if each of the 10 players holed two more putts from six feet, then there would be a lot of difference in the matches.

I think as Allister pointed out yesterday after the foursomes, you know, if we two‑putted the foursomes match on 18 or if we'd holed on 17 this morning in Rhys and Garrick's game, there's four points gone.  Probably not four points, but certainly two points gone there.  And that has an impact on the momentum and the edge that the Americans had over us going into the singles, which, you know, America are always going to be strong and they've got a very strong team.  So it's, you know, our backs are against the wall.

Q.  Nigel, the Walker Cup weekend always seems to go by so fast.  Saturday morning foursomes and you're at closing ceremonies it seems like.  Would you welcome a change to possibly make it three days or would you have enjoyed that switch?

NIGEL EDWARDS:  I haven't even given it any consideration really.  I'm not sure.  I think this is a good format.  I don't think ‑‑ perhaps if the media embraced it a touch more, then ‑‑ or if it was ‑‑ sorry.  Not that I'm criticizing the media here.  If three days ensured that amateur golf got more coverage out of the Walker Cup, because let's be fair, you know, let's hope that people back home and in the United States will see this wonderful golf course, see, you know, what a Walker Cup experience is about, whether it's winning or losing.

You know, we're all here to win.  Let's don't pretend that we're not.  Because kids like competing, don't they, when they play football in school, they want to compete.  When they play rugby, when they play cricket or baseball or American football, you play to compete and if it's over three days, that would be great.

But I don't think the format necessarily needs changing for change's sake, just to fall in line with the Ryder Cup, the other professional events or even the Curtis Cup.  I think the Curtis Cup is over three days now.

So if it makes it more appealing to the public and getting more people playing golf worldwide, then why not?  We should embrace that.  But I don't know whether it would.  It's a toss of the coin I guess.  I mean everybody's looking to get more people playing golf.

You know, there's been a big dip certainly in Europe, and I know in the United States.  And we need to get more people enjoying and embracing the game and getting more people challenging for places on the Walker Cup team and then seeing them go on to success in major championships.

I said the other night, you know, it was great to see ‑‑ and I've played the Walker Cup since 2001.  And I think out of that there's been five U. S. Open champions actually.  Lucas Glover, Rory McIlroy, Graeme McDowell, Webb Simpson and now Justin Rose.  So they are inspiring people to play the game and you can write about people playing in the Walker Cup.

I don't know, I mean to be discussed the Walker Cup format has changed, if you read the history of the Walker Cup, it's changed considerably over time.

Q.  Would you like to see fourballs added or do you think that a three‑day format would build the suspense of the event?

NIGEL EDWARDS:  I think it would be exciting on this course, fourball.  Yeah, it would be good.  May take some time, you know, because that's severe out there.  Not that I'm complaining about it.

I think it's a great golf course and I think it's a huge challenge, and I quite like ‑‑ I mean I wasn't surprised to see the pins where they were at all because having played in a number of Walker Cups, that's what happens, and you know, especially, you know, the greens are ‑‑ it's such a visual golf course, isn't it?

It looks as if the flags are hanging off the edge of the green rather than hanging on them, which is great design.  And I thoroughly enjoyed the golf course, and I think fourballs would be exciting.

THE MODERATOR:  This is a good place to stop.  I'm certain we'll be seeing Nigel and his team an awful lot in the game.  Well done this week, boys.  Congratulations.  And you have a lot to be proud of.

NIGEL EDWARDS:  Thank you.  Thanks for your time, gents, and ladies.