5 Tough Questions for... Paul Azinger

5 Tough Questions for… Paul Azinger

"Nicklaus said to me a few months ago that it's what you don't do that's most important. You don't want to overplay anything."
David Walberg

1. You had some harsh words for Faldo in a British tabloid earlier this year, saying, 'The bottom line is that the players from his generation and mine really don't want anything to do with him.' You said you were misquoted, but what was your reaction when you read that story?

I say stupid things once in a while. Nick and I are friends and we're going to be friends long after the matches are over.

Which Ryder Cup moment do you most regret?

The 10th tee, with Seve and Jose [at Kiawah in 1991], I regret that we had to have a dispute on camera. It was an implied rules infraction. We were hitting, and the implication was that Chip Beck and I were teeing off with the wrong ball, that we were purposely doing that. It was not a good moment. [After being assured by Azinger that Team USA was not trying to cheat, Ballesteros replied, 'Breaking the rules and cheating are two different things.' He and Olazabal won the match 2 and 1, but the Americans won the Cup.']

The last two Ryder Cups have been one-sided. What will it take for the U.S. team to become competitive again?

I don't know how to give you a short answer to that. The points system has been radically changed, and I'll get four picks instead of two — I think changing the way our team is picked is a step in the right direction.

After pairing with Tiger Woods to win a match Saturday morning in 2004, Chris Riley famously said he was too tired to play Saturday afternoon. As captain, what would you have said to him?

First of all as captain I wouldn't have told anybody that he said that. It's happened before. I don't believe he said he was too tired. I have a lot of respect for Chris Riley, and don't believe he would say that. It's possible that he said he didn't feel that confident playing [foursomes]. What he said and what was written isn't necessarily the same thing. I know how that works. Who knows? Maybe he was coming down with the flu and was sick the whole next week. It's not fair.

Which part of the job makes you most anxious?

Setting the tone the first night the players are together. I don't know what kind of tone I want to set but I think the first night is important. There's a lot of billboard material out there, some of it may be useful, some not. Nicklaus said to me a few months ago that it's what you don't do that's most important. You don't want to overplay anything.

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