9 August 2016
An Interview With:
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Good afternoon, I would like to welcome the four athletes representing Team USA in the Men’s Golf Competition at the 2016 Olympics here in Rio.
Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson. I know you’re thrilled on making the team and competing this week. We’ll go right into questions.
- You’ve represented your country before Ryder Cup, things of that nature. This is not a team format. As you view it now before you start to play, is it the same type of patriotic field that you to represent your country or is it different because of the format?
BUBBA WATSON: No, it’s very patriotic. We’re representing the United States. We’re playing on the greatest sporting event every four years. Every sport comes together for one event. It’s not just golf this week. It’s all these events, and so representing the United States, obviously I’m pulling for these guys, but not if I’m trying to beat them for a medal.
But no, it’s a different feel from that aspect. We’re not a team; we’re a team, but we’re not. But the flag, what it represents, what our colors, everything that represents the United States, we’re a part of it and it’s very exciting.
- You were here over the weekend, didn’t play travelers and came over here. Two questions. First, your thoughts on the course and what you saw over the weekend, but also I read a quote where you said you’re looking to make the other boys jealous, the ones that didn’t come. So if you can comment on that and are they jealous in what you’ve heard?
RICKIE FOWLER: I’ve gotten to see the golf course now two full times. We had a good time this morning, getting to go out and play. I felt like I had some local knowledge, was able to share a little bit.
The first time around is definitely a learning experience, but it’s a really fun golf course to play. I feel like Gil is a really good job taking obviously nothing and turning it into a great golf course without really having any time to make any changes or adjustments. It was basically when you finish, that was what we got.
Like I said, it was really fun to play. There was a lot of fun characteristics. There’s a lot of different green complexes and a good variety of holes. So I’m looking forward to getting another look tomorrow for a few holes, and then excited about the week.
As far as making guys jealous back home or wherever they might be, I feel like I’m doing a pretty good job of it, and there may be some personal messages that have been sent back and forth that I was definitely showing them that we’re having a good time down here.
- Is that the most hashtaged America hat that you could find?
RICKIE FOWLER: You know, I made a trip up to the USA house, and I somehow found these. These were actually hidden kind of on one of the bottom shelves. And yeah, this is about as good as it gets right here.
- When did you arrive here from Travelers and what do you think of the course?
PATRICK REED: We arrived Monday morning, and yeah, we got in pretty early. So you know, we kind of just rested and had some fun yesterday. And when we got out there today, I played the front nine, and I think these guys played, touched them all.
The front nine, the golf course was great, in perfect shape. The greens are rolling real true, and I can see how when they said when the wind blows here, that’s one of their defenses, and I can see that. Because today, there wasn’t that much wind, and you still have a couple of mid‑irons into a couple of the greens, but then you had some holes that are pretty short. It’s going to be fun and I can’t wait to get started.
- We know you were at the course on Sunday and we talked with Rich Lerner from the Golf Channel, and he talked about the wildlife that’s out there, capybara as well as burrowing owls and things like that. Does that make the experience unique, knowing that there are, I guess, animals out there like that near the course?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, there’s definitely some places in the world we go and wildlife is very prevalent and you see some different stuff than you’re used to seeing in the United States. Capybara being the largest rodent, as they say. It’s a decent‑sized animal. I wouldn’t want to get in a fight with it, that’s for sure. There’s some caimans cruising around and I’m definitely going to stay away from them.
It’s cool. Like I said, they have done a great job with the golf course, keeping somewhat of the natural habitat ‑‑ if I was capybara, I mean, I’d love to live there at the Olympic course.
- You sort of fashioned yourself as like a world‑class table tennis guy. Have you had a chance to get over and watch any of the guys that really know what they are doing over here? Do you have any plans for watching any of the other Olympic competitions while you’re here?
MATT KUCHAR: I went to Georgia Tech, a lot like you did, and ‑‑
- To hell with Georgia.
MATT KUCHAR: To hell with Georgia (laughter). 1996, the Summer Olympics were in Atlanta. I just finished my senior year in high school and I was ready to head up to Georgia Tech. However, our school was pushed back due to the Olympics.
The friends I had talked to in Atlanta were leaving Atlanta. They were nervous for traffic which is already typically bad in Atlanta. Bringing in a couple 100,000 people in watch the games, traffic might be really bad. The friends I knew that I might be able to stay with were all leaving town, so I wasn’t able to attend an Olympics.
So this is my first‑ever opportunity to attend an Olympics. The first‑ever sport that I witnessed as an Olympic sport was last night, it was table tennis. It was fantastic. It was a great way to kick off my first day as an Olympian at the Olympics to be able to spectate and see just what those guys do.
The BMW Championship has for the past several years brought in America’s best ping‑pong player, a guy named Timothy Wang, just to do demonstrations and come hang out with the guys in the locker room. I’ve gotten a chance to rally and even play some games with Timothy.
I know I’m a nice ping‑pong player, but I know there’s different levels that exist. When you go against guys that are best in the world, it’s a whole other level, and fun for me to actually get a chance to rally. But to watch a proper competition like we did last night was a real thrill.
- For all four of you, does wearing the red, white and blue have you guys thinking about eight weeks from now and The Ryder Cup, and you guys are all sort of on the bubble? Are you guys thinking about that?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yes, I think any time we get to throw red, white and blue on and represent our country, we relish the opportunity, whether it’s a Ryder Cup to a Presidents Cup, which we get every couple years since they rotate around.
But this is a new experience. I think with the time I’ve been here and seeing what it means to some of the other athletes, getting to be here for, not just the United States, but all the other countries, this is a special opportunity for sure.
Thinking ahead about The Ryder Cup and where we’re at, yeah, obviously we all want to be on that team. So playing well here can definitely help our cause; not with points, but yeah, this is special here, and we all want to be a part of that team in eight weeks.
- First time to Rio, and if so, what plans do you have off the course when you have free time? Are you planning to go to any other sporting events?
PATRICK REED: It is my first time. We’re actually going to go to swimming tonight, and I can’t wait to go over and see that event. I haven’t really looked as much into later on down the week, but hopefully we get out and see a couple more events and just kind of soak in the experience of being a part of the Olympics.
It’s something really, growing up, all we really dreamed about was the majors because golf was never a part of it. I remember when I was little watching the Olympics and wishing that I had the chance to go and play for a Gold Medal. And now that we actually have that opportunity, I mean, it’s awesome. Being first time and being here, it’s something that I’m definitely going to soak it in and kind of go look at every place and try to see multiple events and just kind of live the dream.
- Have you guys even used any bug spray, and what other misconceptions were there coming in that you realize, that aren’t true; have you gotten out and about, things like that.
BUBBA WATSON: What was the question again? (Laughter) yes, us three got here, what, yesterday.
I went and checked out the village. I’m moving into the village tonight. Going to say that the rest of the week, I want to live the experience. I want to hang out there, try to meet the other athletes and enjoy my time as an Olympian.
So you know, like we said, we’re all going to different events, checking out different events that we want to see, things where we can get tickets. Some of them are hard to get. I’m trying to go watch Denmark play handball but it’s hard to get a ticket for them. They are pretty good.
So we got golf to play. We’re trying to win a medal. We are trying to represent our country the best way we know how, but at the same time we want to be a true Olympian and be a fan of other sports and cheer on other athletes and be a part of it. So yeah, I’m trying to take it all in and do everything, and see the sites.
We went out to dinner as a team last night down the street, so it was fun. It’s only been a day, so it’s been fun so far, so I can’t wait for the rest of the week.
- The mosquitos this morning ‑‑
PATRICK REED: Well, I live in Houston, and San Antonio and I’ve lived in Baton Rouge, so always used bug spray. Always used sunscreen. It’s nothing new. Mosquitos are mosquitos. You see them all around the world.
Just kind of one of those things that being an outdoor sport, you know you have two things ‑‑ well, really three things you have to do. You have to wear sunscreen, you have to wear bug spray and you have to hydrate. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, those are kind of the norms for playing golf.
- The first thing is: Do you like the course? And do you like playing against Martin? And the third thing is, the question which I ask is: Why did you tickets for handball which is not a typical American favorite sport?
BUBBA WATSON: The first question, the course, yes. We talked to Gil today. He was out there. Told him how much we appreciate what he did. The golf course is beautiful. The layout is unbelievable.
Today, like Patrick said earlier, there was no wind. So it looked pretty ‑‑ it looked pretty inviting today. But with 40‑mile‑an‑hour winds like they had the other day, probably very difficult.
The condition of the course was amazing. So there’s nothing we could ask that they haven’t already done. The golf course is perfect. Doesn’t mean we’re going to play well. Just means we love what we see going into it.
The second question, Martin Kaymer, heard of him. Good player. Yeah, he’s a great man. Hanging out with him, he’s fun. He has that place in Scottsdale, Arizona where we’ve hung out there. I’ve seen him so much on the tours, yeah, so it’s going to be fun playing with him, a face that we know from the PGA TOUR. So it will be like just a regular event for us playing against him and playing with him in the same group.
And then tickets to handball. Handball, it’s a lot more activity in handball than I’ve ever imagined. I know in the States, we don’t play handball that much or to a high level; high level as that.
Yeah, it was just something I want to do. My manager, Jens Beck, is from Denmark. So we’re trying to go over there. He’s telling me all about it.
And then met some of the players, talked to a player on the team yesterday at the village cafeteria, I guess we’d call it. It’s massive, but yeah, so all the athletes been in there eating. We bumped into the team and talked to a player or two. Yeah, I want to go over there and see and experience handball for the first time and really see it up close.
- You guys are so programmed obviously when you’re in contention to go for the win or obviously get into a playoff. Here the situation is a little bit different with medals at stake. On Sunday if you’re coming down 17, 18, debating whether to go for the green in two on 18, I guess the question; is the mentality a little bit different here, because walking away with a bronze medal, as opposed to a major championship finishing third, it means a lot more.
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, there’s definitely something to be said for finishing second or third here but I don’t think we’re going to be very happy with that knowing that gold was attainable or possible.
I don’t think that means that any of us would ‑‑ I mean, I speak for myself, but I feel like I speak for the rest of the guys; that if there’s a chance of winning the golf tournament or taking a risk possibly down the stretch to win gold, I don’t think we’re going to play safe by any means.
BUBBA WATSON: I’m going to lay‑up and go for bronze. (Laughter) why is everybody laughing?
- Serious or absolutely not serious?
BUBBA WATSON: I am actually serious (laughter) no, it would be better to have bronze than nothing.
It’s situational, you know what I’m saying. Making a double‑eagle on 18 from 290 into the wind, even if I hit driver off the deck, I’m not getting there.
RICKIE FOWLER: You’re the only one that could hit it 290 into 18.
BUBBA WATSON: That’s what I’m getting at. It won’t be an intentional lay up. It would just be the wind made me not get there. Obviously it’s different; there’s no money changing hands. It’s all about getting the medals and competing and having that medal around your neck and being on the podium.
Yeah, it’s all situational. Just depends on where you are and what kind of lie and you have what it is at that time. But obviously you’re going to be looking. If you’re in third place, you’re going to be trying to make sure you don’t mess up and go to fourth real fast.
- The reaction about Jim Furyk‘s 58 and the low score, and do you think that kind of score is out there, or what kind of score are we looking for from the golf course in terms of a winning score?
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, those guys were there. It looked like the golf course played easy to me (laughter).
No, I wasn’t even there, but I’ve played Travelers. 58 anywhere on a PGA TOUR setup is amazing. For Jim to do two rounds in the 50s in the past three years, and to be the only guy that’s shot in the 50s multiple times in a tournament, is very impressive. It couldn’t happen to a better guy, and him being announced as the Payne Stewart Award winner, as well, nice little cherry on top for him. So definitely happy for Jim.
As far as the golf course here, like we talked about, it’s all conditions, what the wind does, how much rain we get tomorrow, and then that’s going to really dictate how we play the golf course and what the golf course will yield and how they set it up with pin locations.
If there’s not much wind, they can get a little more aggressive and creative with pins. If the wind picks up, I mean, I was out there playing on Sunday, and had to basically top playing because the wind was blowing so hard and from the wrong direction, something that we won’t see through the week.
But if winds pick up, shooting even par around the course will be nice.
- You were saying that growing up, you were dreaming about winning a Gold Medal and now golf is in the Olympics. And the fact that golf is an Olympic sport now, it was a little bit controversial. Some people were saying, well, those guys already had their four majors, and maybe the Olympics is for other athletes. How do you feel about that and how do you feel about the presence of golf in the Olympics and the fact that many top players who haven’t come has created some controversy, also, for the duration of golf, and now you’re there for 2020 also, but we don’t know for 2024. So how do you feel about that, the fact that golf is there?
PATRICK REED: Well, first after, the Olympics is every four years. And just having the opportunity to play in the Olympics and have golf be a part of it and help grow the game of golf, it’s huge. I think it will do everything it possibly could to help the game.
You know, being a part of the Olympics, because when people turn on TV to watch sports, they are just at home and are big fans, the one event that they can see almost every sport and all the top athletes in the worlds is the Olympics.
When it comes closer to Olympics time, that’s all anyone ever talks about. To now have golf back in the Olympics, it’s just going to help the game as much as possible.
And on top of that, there were some reasons on why some of the guys felt it was necessary for them to not be here. But when it comes down to me, any time I can put on the red, white and blue, stars and stripes, I’m going to hop on the flight first time I can. I’m just so excited to be here and to be able to play, and not only for our country, but for the game of golf, to help try to grow it and just be a part.
- On Sunday night, you’ll be sharing the headlines with the men’s hundred‑meter final. Could you give your predictions for that race and whether you think any American can beat Usain Bolt?
BUBBA WATSON: I’m from Pensacola, Florida. There’s a guy that’s running, you may have heard of him, he’s pretty fast, Justin Gatlin. So when you ‑‑ obviously my hometown, obviously going to pull for him. A big fan of his. I think he’s still 34. At that age, to still be running with the young guys is pretty amazing.
But obviously hometown ties, Pensacola, Florida, you always pull for your hometown. But it’s a pretty amazing feat to compete with Usain Bolt. Just to be there and have a chance, is a thrill of a lifetime.
You know, it would be fun watching that.
RICKIE FOWLER: I don’t think I’m really pulling for anyone in particular. I’m just looking forward to the opportunity to see the world’s fastest runners. I still haven’t seen Usain run. We share a same sponsor most of the time, and being able to see him run, possibly his last time, for me, coming down, the two events that I probably wanted to watch the most, events that I’ve watched the most in past Olympics, were swimming and track. We wanted to make sure Sunday night was possible and we’d all get to experience it together.
- For any of you guys, just wondering, as you’ve interacted with the other athletes, has there been any comments about the guys who are not here and who might have had some unflattering things to say about the Olympics and the experience; have you had to rebut any misconceptions?
RICKIE FOWLER: I’ve been here the longest. I’ve had I guess some of the most interaction, being at the opening ceremonies and people asking about guys not being here. Probably asked the most about Jordan and Rory.
You know, I told them, I tried to get Jordan down here as much as possible, and told them that you know, we all respect the decisions that were made; whether it was anything around schedule or health concerns or worried about security, and that’s possibly one thing I’ve relayed back since we’ve been down here.
I haven’t had a problem and I definitely feel safe here. Whether I’m in the village venues getting transported back and forth; I know mosquitos were brought up earlier. I’ve seen a couple but nothing crazy. We talked about trying to make some of the guys jealous. Like I said, I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job of that.
- Have you sensed any disappointment from other athletes?
RICKIE FOWLER: I wouldn’t say disappointment. Probably wishing they would have been able to come or made that decision to come. I wouldn’t say that they are upset or disappointed about it.
But I have had a very warm welcome from fellow U.S. athletes and other athletes around the village, almost thanking me for being here. It’s a really cool feeling to see them, and them kind of reaching out.
Like I said, not just from the U.S., but other countries, as well. Just they in a way appreciate that we wanted to make the trip down and wanted to represent our country.
So it gives you a little bit more appreciation for what the Olympics is.
- How does the courses here compare to the courses in Arizona?
BUBBA WATSON: Well, there’s no trees ‑‑ I guess it’s about the same.
You can’t really compare, because it’s different climates, different grasses. There’s other courses we play that have the same kind of grass, but you can’t really compare from that. But obviously the designer is pretty good. Has bunkers, has water, has 18 holes.
RICKIE FOWLER: I think the course ‑‑
BUBBA WATSON: Go ahead, Rickie. You go ahead.
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, I’m chiming in here. Stealing it from you.
I think the course is almost most comparable to some of the courses out in the Sandbelt in Australia and Melbourne, just as far as the look. I know Gil kind of drew from some of the things that he’s liked down there and the design and the look of it.
But as far as similar to Arizona, you don’t want to hit it off of grass. You want to stay on fairway and grass as much as possible. You stay out of the desert, you stay out of the native area here. Hopefully the four of us are able to do that.
- You’ve obviously been here the longest and you’re in the village, as well. Just wanted to get your thoughts on living in the village and the whole experience, and whether you’ve been able to pick the brains from athletes from other sports about how they have achieved their success.
RICKIE FOWLER: Well, I’m glad I’m going to have a new roommate moving in. I think he’s going to be just across the hall. We have two condos. No, I’m looking forward to showing him around a little bit. We are lucky enough to have a TV in there. I’ve gotten to know some of the divers pretty well. The last couple nights we’ve been in there watching swimming. Lucky enough, we’re going to go watch the swimming tonight live.
The experience is cool. Just I think where I got to spend the most time around other athletes was opening ceremonies, because staging in front of our building, obviously not all the athletes are here, but we have I think the largest amount of athletes at 554 total.
So the line of buses lined up for us, and seeing the whole team walk through the village and kind of just mingling from basketball to women’s basketball, and I ended up walking with some of the divers to men’s volleyball. Everyone was just hanging out, having a good time and enjoying the experience.
So it’s been fun talking to the other athletes about what they do, what are the similarities between sports, and a lot of things are on the mental side. It’s been a lot of fun. I feel like I’ve gotten a lot of questions about golf and what we do. People are very interested, like I talked about earlier, they are excited that we are here and we made the choice to come down.
- With so many other players pulling out, was there any hesitation on your part about coming here? And now that you’re here, how do you feel about the experience?
MATT KUCHAR: I had secretly fingers crossed hoping players would pull out. I was sitting at a spot where I needed a couple guys to pull out for me to be able to qualify.
I always was thrilled, always had a hope I could make it. I made a great run, kind of just before the deadline, to sneak inside the Top 15 in the World Rankings so it was possible that I could make it. I was thrilled when the opportunity came for me to be able to be part of the Olympics.
It’s one of those things, as a fan of sport, it’s kind of a boyhood dream. You think, wouldn’t that be amazing. If it wasn’t golf, just something; what could you do to be an Olympic athlete. And to be here now, it’s quite amazing. It’s a fantastic experience.
I figured this way, I knew there were concerns. I figured, though, that a lot of things get blown out of proportion. It is certainly story lines and headlines tends to be grabbers, attention grabbers.
I figure coming down here, it would be great. I had heard words from Gil Hanse that he had spent months and months here, never an issue. Talk to several people who said the same type of comments, just a lot of things get blown out of proportion. But the people that actually spent time here said it’s a great city and you’ll love coming down here.
We had a day yesterday where my wife and I kind of played tourist. We went around as much as we could, and we had a fantastic experience.
- Curious what you think of the format and if it could maybe change in future years? And to set the record straight, Matt, did you know the format? I know there had been some press.
MATT KUCHAR: I knew certainly it was individual. I was under the impression that it was a team format that was just a combined score. We always knew what the format was. I thought there was an additional team part of it, an additional medal that was just a combined score. I was misinformed, and I understand the format now.
As far as things to change, be interesting to see what happens four years from now. If they do tweak it, certainly this being the first time, four rounds of stroke play is the standard to what we do in golf. There are lots of other opportunities and ways to possibly make it more interesting, more fun. But interesting to see how this one plays out and then see if they do happen to tweak it.
- Are you guys ready for the Brazilian crowds? There’s been reports of raucous crowds for many sports that are usually quieter.
MATT KUCHAR: Ping‑pong last night, I tell you what, we watched a Brazilian guy play, was just unbelievable. The stadium was rocking for this Brazilian guy. It was super cool. I’m not sure who the Brazilian golfers are, but I hope their fans are out and going crazy for them.
- Peter Dawson was in here the other day and was asked, talking about the players that didn’t come, and what he was saying was just think about this: What it’s going to mean to the men and women that did come to play, to be able to go through their lives and say to themselves and tell their grandchildren, I was an Olympian and an Olympic athlete. Matt, you just essentially answered that question, but if you can just comment on what it’s going to be mean to you to be able to say that.
PATRICK REED: It’s going to mean a lot. Just thinking about it, growing up, watching the Olympics, we never had this opportunity. And now all of the sudden, being able to have the opportunity, and to be able to play for your country, now to call ourselves Olympians, it’s almost so ‑‑ I mean, wow. It’s hard to explain.
I can’t wait for my little daughter to get old enough so I can tell her, hey, your dad’s been an Olympian, and just show her the pictures from the week, show her pictures of us hanging out with the guys. It’s so cool. And to have this opportunity is just amazing.
Hopefully golf stays in the Olympics for a very long time, because all the guys I feel like need to experience this, because it’s awesome.
- I’ve had some questions from the Texas stations, maybe Rickie, you can address this since you’ve been on the courses. Do you know that’s American grass that’s from Texas, and how does it feel to be on your own turf, so to speak?
RICKIE FOWLER: Yeah, we got home turf this week (laughter). I think Gil did a great job of picking the fairway grass and the green grass. We were actually talking about that with him walking up No. 1 today, which was our 10th hole. I had heard prior that it was a strain of grass that was grown in Texas, to survive and be in a good position to kind of thrive in the climate here.
It was interesting. I know Gil kind of said, hey, stop me if we’re getting a little too deep here as far as the science behind why he chose the grass and what he did with it. But pretty cool to learn further into the golf course design.
- You mentioned you were going to the swimming tonight. Wonder if you can comment on what Michael Phelps has done for Olympic sport and American sport, and also what Katy Ledecky is doing in terms of breaking records in her disciplines, as well.
BUBBA WATSON: Well, like Patrick was saying, and all of us have said over time, Olympics was something that we appreciated. Being golfers, we never could dream about being a golfer and win a medal.
So when you’re watching these athletes, great athletes, no matter what country they are from, any time they get the medal around them, what an honor and a privilege for your country, for your team.
And then with Michael Phelps, being an American, that’s a dream of a lifetime. And when you think about how many he has, how many Gold Medals, how many years he’s done it; it’s not back‑to‑back years. It’s multiple years that row. For him to quit, come back, or retire, I guess you would say, and then come back; what a spectacular thing to do that and be a part of it.
And now with him, just like Patrick said, with a young child, what an honor and a thrill, the pictures that his kid will see of being there and being a part of it. What a thrill of a lifetime. And like I said, being from the U.S., for us to pull for him, to cheer for him and get to watch him train how he does it and learn from him when we get to talk to him.
Just like Rickie got to talk to him; he’s been to Ryder Cup before. So we’ve been able to talk to him and learn from him ‑‑
MATT KUCHAR: Pretty cool ‑‑
BUBBA WATSON: ‑‑ just how he goes about his business.
And then Matt Kuchar, too, one of the greatest Olympians of all‑time.
MATT KUCHAR: ‑‑ Greatest Olympian ever (laughter).
Michael Phelps, the greatest Olympian ever, it’s cool he’s a golf junky. It kind of proves the value of our sport; that the greatest Olympian of all time loves coming out and loves going to our competitions and playing in our competitions.
Had the opportunity in China of playing with him, of actually getting in the pool with him, swimming, seeing him do his thing during the Haney Show. I think it speaks volumes of our sport to have that guy love the game of golf like he does.
RICKIE FOWLER: The thing that’s cool, obviously getting to see tonight live is going to be a lot of fun. But just to add to what the other guys said, it’s inspiring to watch fellow U.S. athletes do well, compete, get a medal, gold, whatever it may be.
And to see what Phelps has done over numerous years and to see what Ledecky is doing right now and has done, like I said, it’s inspiring. It kind of ‑‑ you get chills watching them when they win, when they do well, and it just kind of pushes you to want to do the best that you can.
And to actually be here as an Olympian and get to play in the Olympics while they are here doing this and watching them tonight, it’s going to make it a fun feeling for us when we tee it up on Thursday.
- With the vote next year on whether golf goes beyond 2020, if you had a chance to speak to the IOC, what would you tell them to make your pitch that it belongs?
MATT KUCHAR: I want me to make my pitch to the IOC about why golf belongs?
- Given with guys dropping out, etc.
MATT KUCHAR: Unfortunately funny circumstances this year have led to guys not participating. I think the event is going to go off great.
I think certainly there are going to be guys regretting it, thanks a lot to Rickie’s help, not showing up. I think golf’s going to be a winner. I think golf’s a global game. I think it’s played by so many people around the world.
I think after this year’s event, I imagine it’s going to be a big success and it’s going to be an easy one to keep in the rotation of sports. I think it’s played by so many people around the world. It’s pretty easy to understand as far as the rules are concerned and the scoring is concerned.
I think it’s going to be an easy one for this to continue after 2020.
- I think you’ve represented the U.S. at least a dozen times in six different events during your career. How different or how special is it this time compared to all those other times?
MATT KUCHAR: They are certainly all special. I didn’t get a chance to do opening ceremonies and I know that’s people’s kind of moment, that, hey, here I am, I’m an Olympian. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to participate in that.
But for me, when I put on the uniform, and I’ve got USA on a patch on my sleeve, that to me, every time, gives me goosebumps. Every time I don the shirt and it has the USA patch, American flag on it, it’s my moment that, hey, I’m playing for the United States. This is an amazing event.
I’ve done lots of different ones from as an amateur, it was the World Cup, it was a four‑man team. And there’s something cool about making the really small teams, where you feel like you’re the best of the best of the country. And all of these, whether it’s Ryder Cup that’s 12 or Presidents Cup that’s 12; but to be on an event that takes a maximum of four guys from the United States to say, you’re one of those guys, is awesome.
And then to have it be an Olympics, and the first Olympics in over a hundred years, it really is just kind of ‑‑ it’s the boyhood dream come true.
- For each of you guys, if you couldn’t have been an Olympian in golf, what sport would each of you prefer to, or maybe thought you were best suited to be an Olympian in? And Bubba, I know it’s handball, but the other guys.
RICKIE FOWLER: Kuch is table tennis.
BUBBA WATSON: I’m talking now.
RICKIE FOWLER: Go ahead, Bubba.
BUBBA WATSON: He calls it ping‑pong back home. Don’t let him fool you (laughter).
It would be fencing, for sure. You’ve got a mask on and you get to poke people (laughter) that would be fun.
MATT KUCHAR: I’m a huge fan of all the racquet games. I think badminton is a cool game. I think some of the old, traditional, now there’s modern pentathlon. I think it combines all of the elements of what war was supposed to be. I think there’s fencing, running, swimming, horseback riding, shooting. I think really cool to be able to combine those.
But the Olympics, if you could have the title of world’s greatest athlete, like decathlon as a kid, to me, Olympics, track and field, all the events combined, that’s kind of an amazing thing.
Some of the different ones, I had a chance last week, PGA two weeks ago, family I was staying with, the kid was a javelin throw. I’ve never thrown a javelin, would you throw me, love to be able to try it and do it and say that I’ve done it. There are all sorts of unique sports.
So take my pick, it would be a hard one to pick. I’d say either full decathlon or modern pentathlon.
- Did you try and catch any of the javelins?
MATT KUCHAR: They are for catching, not for throwing. We did set up ‑‑ my boys came out and there was a training one that was a smaller one. We set up a target, so it was an old box that a suitcase came in. We let the boys pretend they could try to throw the spear, javelin, at a target and they thought that was pretty cool.
RICKIE FOWLER: I think Kuch did a great job with that. Just being here as an Olympic athlete, I don’t think it’s easy to just choose one particular discipline to say that you’re the best at what you do. I’ll take any of those.
PATRICK REED: I’m not really good at any other sports. I thought I was good at basketball whenever I was in middle school and then all of a sudden, I go to tryouts at high school, and I was always a pretty big guy. I was like, I’ll be a center, no problem. I did that in seventh grade and sixth grade. Dominated down in the paint because I was pretty big.
Went to tryouts, whenever I went to tryouts, Glenn Davis, big baby, he’s in my spot. I walk in, go, not gonna happen. I’m too short, too slow, not that good at shooting. Only thing I have maybe is free throws. So I walked out of the gym.
Really, never was that great at swimming. (Laughter).
BUBBA WATSON: Running?
PATRICK REED: Do I look like a runner? (Laughter).
RICKIE FOWLER: Power lifter?
PATRICK REED: Maybe. I might be able to, I might be able to throw something.
BUBBA WATSON: Maybe by 2020 you’ll be ready.
PATRICK REED: Maybe 2040. Need to get in the gym first.
- With all the wildlife out on the course, the capybaras, the caimans and the burrowing owls, are any of you guys thinking Caddyshack when you’re out there?
RICKIE FOWLER: It’s definitely a different setting than we’re used to. I mean, the golf course looks very familiar, when I talked about it earlier, being somewhat of a similar look to the Sandbelt area.
But having a capybara out there, and we’re not used to seeing caimans. They look fairly similar to an alligator. But it’s cool seeing some different wildlife. Hopefully we don’t have any encounters.
- Knowing what you do know about these guys that you see week‑in and week‑out on the Tour, who do you think could be among the competition, some of the guys to beat, some of the guys to look out for? What are your thoughts on who is going to compete for medals here, besides you guys, of course?
BUBBA WATSON: I think just like every event, you never know. It’s golf. Some guys, you make a putt here, it makes you happy and you keep going and you can make a few more birdies.
We are all top‑ranked players. That’s why we’re here as Olympians, because we qualified and made it.
So really, anybody can win at any moment. All it has to be is your week or your four days. It’s one of those where we are going to compete and hopefully at the end of the week, it’s not us four playing for gold, because one of us would miss out on a medal.
RICKIE FOWLER: With golf being the way it is, you see guys ranked 200, 300 in the world, winning some big events around the world. Outside of us four, battling out come Sunday, I think some of the guys, like Bubba said, there’s a lot of top‑ranked players in the world here.
It’s still a very strong field. It’s not going to be easy to win this thing. You’ve got guys from ‑‑ one guy, a couple guys I’m playing alongside with, Justin Rose, Jhonattan Vegas, to Henrik Stenson, champion golfer of the year, Sergio Garcia, Rafa, Kaymer’s here. Yeah, we’re going to have to play well. But we’re the only country that has a chance to podium sweep, so that’s kind of cool.
JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Team USA, thanks. Best of luck this week.