Q.How frustrating was it to be forced to sit out the end of the Race to Dubai with a rib injury and not be able to challenge Westwood and McIlroy?
A. It would have been nice to have been a part of it. I have no idea whether I’d have been in front or behing them. It would have been great to have been up there though. The golf they were playing all through the season and Lee’s 64 in the final round in Dubai was just phenomenal and he thoroughly deserved to be the Race to Dubai champion. It was annoying I couldn’t have been up there annoying them on Sunday!
Q. After three wins last year, what are your goals for 2010?
A. Much the same as they always are; they revolve around Majors and the biggest tournaments around the globe. The added one is to look after my body. I now appreciate more than ever that it’s very important. Golf is a sport where you can’t have injuries and play at a top level, not with the quality of players on Tour these days. Every tournament I play this year I’m playing because I feel I can win and play goof golf. The Ryder Cup is a huge goal too, of course, but I’m not going to get tied up in the idea of just playing to accumulate points - I want to get in the team by winning tournaments. If I play the sort of golf I did at the start of 2009 then that should take care of it.
Q. Is there anything you feel you need to do differently to pick up a first Major?
A. Just keep doing what I’m doing. A lot can come down to self belief and confidence. Guys who’ve won Majors in the past, they’ve got all the great assets that they need - ball-striking, putting, driving - but they’re also very accepting of everything that happened when they win a Major. The media scrutiny takes it toll and you have to accept everything that goes with it. If you’re not 100 per cent into it, that small fraction means someone else will win.
Q. The Majors are at great venues this year. Which one are you most looking forward to and which suits you best?
A. To me, the ultimate is St Andrews and The Open - that’s the Major I want to win the most; it’s the Home of Golf. St Andrews is the one place where the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Whether I’m playing in an Open or playing with my mates it’s just a great place. Augusta suits my game the best - a nice high ball flight, right to left shape - and I love playing there. That’s probably the easiest one for me in terms of performing well. But The Open is the one I really want.
Q. How do you think Monty will do as Ryder Cup Captain?
A. I think Monty will be very good. Actually, I think he’ll be a phenomenal captain. I’ve been privileged to play on the same team in previous Ryder Cups and I know how much it means to him. I’ve also seen his captaincy abilities in evenys like the Seve Trophy. He’s going to be great - he has the respect of the players.
Q. Which qualities does he bring to the table as captain?
A. Communication with Monty will be breat, and I think that’s key You’ve got to know what’s going on with your players, discuss it with them, let them voice their opinions on pairings and how they’re feeling. Some guys are going to be veru up for it while others are going to be nervous and he will react to that. I’ve played under three very different
captains with varying approaches. I wouldn’t say any one was better than the other, they were just different. Monty will have his own way of doing it and I’m sure it will be great.
Q. Who’s going to win the Ryder Cup and why?
A. Well, I hope Europe win it! Azinger was a great captain last time and he did so many things brilliantly, plus his players played brilliantly and they really got a lot of things very right. They had that unity the Europeans had been know for over the years. They sort of levelled the playing field psychologically and then played better golf, which is why they
won it. It’s going to be a very close match but obviously we have a slight advantage playing at home. But we’re going to have to play very good golf to win it, that’s for sure.
Q. What’s the favourite club in your bag?
A. Right now it’s the putter. It’s been with me since August 2008 and I’ve got three wins with it. Although the first time I used it in competition I four-putted the very first green with it! It was the first green at Firestone but I stuck with it and ended up finishing in the top 10 that weel so I recovered well.
Q. What’s your favourite course?
A. St Andrews has to be up there; it’s never the same twice and it’s the Home of Golf.
Q. Is there anything you take with you everywhere you go?
A. My golf clubs (laughs), I also always take my camera with me and I always take my laptop... for some reason.
Today's Golfer - June 2010