USA Press Conference (Day 2)


By USGA
September 8, 2013

THE MODERATOR:  We are once again pleased to be joined by Bobby Wyatt and Michael Kim from the victorious 2013 USA Walker Cup team and their captain, Jim Holtgrieve.  Jim, let's begin with you.  You had two years to think about this day you assembled, along with the USGA, a very talented team who played incredibly well this week against a very talented team from GB & I.  And your team took back the Walker Cup on the very soil in which the Walker Cup was founded in 1922.  Tell us about the emotions you're feeling and this day.

JIM HOLTGRIEVE:  Well, this day to me was ‑‑ I've used the word ‑‑ story too many times, but it's probably one of my more gratifying days in my 65‑year golfing career.  60‑year golfing career.  And to me it's like I said that I've been saying all along, it's all about what the Walker Cup is all about.  To see all the spectators out there, to see 20 young guys playing for their respective countries, to see how Michael and Bobby, along with the other eight teammates came together as one, played together as one, helped each other as one, it's just so rewarding and comforting to know that amateur golf is alive and well.

And I think when I look at these young guys, that going forward, the experiences that they can talk about and promote amateur golf and Walker Cup and to try to play for your country, it just doesn't get any better.

THE MODERATOR:  Bobby, Michael, you both won your single matches today, 4 and 3, 4 and 2 respectively.  The team in fact dominated in the singles competition.  As two young players what do you take away from this week?

BOBBY WYATT:  You know, it was just a wonderful week for everybody involved.  You know, I got to know some of the Great Britain and Ireland guys that I didn't know.  I really enjoyed that, and I'm sure I'll be seeing a lot of them down the road.

And for me this week just getting to know my teammates and Captain Holtgrieve and everyone involved was just unbelievable.  We had an amazing time, and certainly we came with keeping in mind that we wanted to win more than anything.  And you know, we were able to do that.  And just unbelievable experience, something I'm never going to forget.

MICHAEL KIM:  Yeah, you know, this week I've been looking forward to this week for years, and you know, it took a long time to get to the matches, but once I was there, it seems like it just went by real quick.  And you know, winning is great, but to win with these other nine guys who, you know, I've known for a while now, it's special.  And to represent your country is always an honor and something I'll never forget.

THE MODERATOR:  Questions for your Walker Cup champions.

Q.  Jim, I think the most impressive thing was the way that the 10 boys managed the golf course.  If you look at the numbers, they didn't lose a lot of holes to pars, but they were very solid.  I wonder how much you'd talked about course management, especially on a course as tough as this one.

JIM HOLTGRIEVE:  Allister, I gotta be honest with you.  This is probably one of the smartest teams I've ever been around.  These are smart young men, and as far as managing a golf course, I've never seen anything like it.  And the great thing about it was, as I said earlier, that there is a team, and not only during the practice sessions, but when we were playing two five‑somes or even one time we were playing a ten‑some, they were all talking to each other about how they would play a certain shot, how they would play in this different wind condition.  So that's what was so impressive to me is they came together, as I said, as a team, but also helping each other with course management.

These guys do it on their own.  I never used a yardage book when I played golf.  That's probably why I wasn't very good.  These guys use yardage books down to the nth degree, and they talk about it.  So that's what was really impressive for me.

Q.  Bobby, I'm not very good at math, but I think if you add up your NCAA, Palmer Cup and Walker Cup, you're 9-0-3.  How do you explain that and what kind of clicks on inside that makes you so good in match play?

BOBBY WYATT:  It's something I really enjoy.  It makes it a little bit like other sports that I grew up playing.  You're playing your opponent rather than the golf course or just yourself really.  And really enjoy that aspect of it.

It's something I've developed over the years.  I really struggled in match play early in my career.  I didn't fare well in the U. S. Junior and I hadn't gotten as far in the U. S. Amateur as I would have liked.  It's something that playing for a team is a little bit different, even I think in the NCAAs and Palmer Cup and Walker Cup I can get really excited to play for other guys, and it's something fortunately I've been able to succeed at.

Q.  Any stripes by the way?  (Laughs)?

THE MODERATOR:  Other questions.

Q.  Bobby, Jim on Friday talked about how camaraderie was a big part of this team.  How much of a factor was it the fact that you had your two Alabama teammates, Alabama coach, how much comfort did that give you out there this weekend?

BOBBY WYATT:  Oh, it was great.  Cory and Justin are two of my very best friends in life in general.  We do a lot of stuff together, on and off the golf course.  To have them around, share this experience with is something special for me.

I'm sure Michael can attest to that as well with Michael Weaver and Max Homa.  It was awesome.  Having three Alabama guys and three Cal guys, we have gotten to know them through the Palmer Cup and just through so many tournaments.  And we all just immediately became great friends, and it was just an unbelievable team atmosphere, felt like we'd been playing together for years.

Q.  Jim, when you sit down with Spider Miller over something cold and he asks you outside of winning what was the difference between Royal Aberdeen and here, what will you tell him?

JIM HOLTGRIEVE:  What I will tell Spider is that he needs to really focus on making sure that everybody forgets about their individual accomplishments and becomes a team member.  Royal Aberdeen, while we had a very ‑‑ obviously as you well know, had a very accomplished team, but it was ‑‑ I probably did a bad job of not putting them together as a team.  There became some individuals.  I didn't have that situation here.

When we had our practice session back in December, the guys came together there.  I felt when we came away from there, I felt that there was some good camaraderie there already, mainly because of what Bobby just said about six of these guys go to college ‑‑ three of these guys go to college together.  So I had a big head start, and I'm going to make sure that Spider knows that he's really gotta make everybody come together as a team, particularly not only on the golf course, but off the golf course as well.

Q.  Jim, your guys spent a lot more time in practice on this golf course than the GB & I team did.  Can you sort of put a value on that?  How much did that reflect in your success?

JIM HOLTGRIEVE:  We got two days on this golf course more than the GB & I team did, versus at Royal Aberdeen when they got four days more than we did.  But as I said earlier in the press conference a couple days ago, that I thought it was a huge benefit for us because we saw all kinds of wind conditions.

Obviously we didn't see the hole locations, we didn't know what those were going to be.  There was a lot of new ones.  I thought we knew some of them, but they found some new ones for the guys, I think.  Unbelievable.

But there's no question.  I think that it certainly gives these guys, like I said, as smart as they are, it gives them some more opportunity to take more notes, to see more conditions and to prepare.  And to me it's a huge advantage.

Q.  And for the guys, distance control was obviously a challenge over the last two days, certainly today.  I mean it really kicked up.  Can you guys talk about some of the difficulty you had in assessing the wind and clubbing?

MICHAEL KIM:  You know, it was interesting, in the practice round, I think everybody was shooting under par, without a doubt.  This course is pretty soft, and the greens weren't nearly the speed it was this entire week.  And so, you know, especially after the first practice session over here, we came here thinking it was going to be, you know, we were going to have to make birdies to win holes.

But then, you know, especially after Tuesday when it just rained about like five inches or something, we thought it was going to be soft.  But the next day it didn't even look like it rained.

And as the week went on, the wind kept drying up the fairways and greens and it got firmer and firmer, and when the wind kicked up, it definitely made it hard, and I'm sure Bobby can relate, we won a lot of holes with pars.  And to just hit in the middle of the greens and 2‑putt was big.

BOBBY WYATT:  Yeah, it was extremely difficult to judge the wind.  Generally out here there's not many trees, there's not many objects blocking any of the wind.  So you generally could feel the direction well, just judging the speed and flying your ball exactly the way you wanted, whether ‑‑ you know, sometimes when you got a cross wind, if you cut it and with the wind it goes 15 yards further than if you draw it.  It's just really difficult, and especially when it's firm and where the pins were there were places you just could not be.  So there was times where you in the fairway had to accept 35‑footers or even a chip, missing the green almost on purpose to be below the hole.

Q.  Jim, can you talk about the way that Todd and Nathan played today, and if you felt like the goal of the mid am rule was accomplished, and what your hope is for that going forward?

JIM HOLTGRIEVE:  What do you think, Alex?  It was Todd White was No. 13, and Nathan Smith was No. 14.  So here again, ladies and gentlemen, as you ‑‑ as we've had articles and comments go back and forth, whether it worked or whether it didn't, that still is not the reason.

Those two gentlemen should have the opportunity to be able to play for their country just like anybody else, and they should be able to promote the game just like anybody else.  This is such a huge ‑‑ for me, and I think for the USGA, that they can contribute, and they won ‑‑ you know, they won the points that got the trophy back.  Not to say that ‑‑ Jordan Niebrugge was about to smoke his guy and Michael was about to win, but it just shows to me that what I wanted to accomplish was for them to be able to contribute to winning the Walker Cup.  And they did it.

And now that story going forward in their communities and their clubs and their organizations and the people they're involved with, it's gotta be positive, doesn't it?  Doesn't it have to be positive?

I think I am just ‑‑ I'm so happy that they won, whether they won their 13th or 14th.  I'm just so happy that they won their match and they can still play.  They can play.

Q.  Would you like to see it continued beyond ‑‑

JIM HOLTGRIEVE:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.  I hope the USGA, and to me the barometer was not if we won or lost.  I think the barometer was going to be how was it received and accepted.

As I said earlier, I think now, particularly with the success, that there will be a lot more mid ams, particularly in the United States.  It's too bad we don't have the situation in Great Britain and Ireland, but in the United States I think there's going to be more mid ams trying to make this team for the next two years for 2015 for Spider Miller's team.  I think mid-am golf will pick up.

THE MODERATOR:  That's a positive place to stop.  I want to thank Jim and Team USA for the team you've given us this week.  Once again, congratulations.