From the Booth With Peter Oosterhuis


Peter Oosterhuis is no stranger to match-play golf, having competed for Great Britain, Ireland and the Europeans in six consecutive Ryder Cup competitions from 1971-81, and sharing the record for most wins in singles - six - with Nick Faldo.

Peter OosterhuisA former player on the European and PGA Tour, Oosterhuis garnered more than 20 victories worldwide. He was runner-up in the 1974 and 1982 British Opens, and led the European Tour Order of Merit for four consecutive years (1971-74) - a record that stood until Colin Montgomerie's fantastic stretch between 1993-97. Now recognized as one of golf's best commentators, serving as an analyst both for The Golf Channel and CBS Sports, Oosterhuis will again share the booth with Golf Channel host Grant Boone for the 2002 UBS Warburg Cup.
You were part of some memorable Ryder Cup matches for the European team. Do you look at team match play differently now that you are a television analyst?
Oosterhuis: Obviously as an analyst you are looking at things a little different. In fact, just covering the Ryder Cup at The Belfry, I think I just like to see a match played in the right spirit and a good match that it is entertaining for everybody. So, even though I played for Great Britain and Ireland and then the European team when it became Europe, I certainly enjoyed the matches and I think they are a good contrast from the week-to-week 72-hole stroke play.
Having served as lead analyst for The Golf Channels coverage of the UBS Warburg Cup, how do you think the returning players from both teams will approach this years competition?
I think maybe last year they were not skeptical but they obviously did not know exactly what the atmosphere was going to be. I think everybody had a great time. The atmosphere in the matches was tremendous, all of these guys are naturally competitive, they have not been successful in the game without being competitive, and I think they played their hearts out, but in the right spirit. The appropriate things were said and done during the matches, very competitive but in the right spirit.
Quite a few players are returning on both sides this year, but what do you expect from the rookie players who include Tom Lehman and Paul Azinger on the US side and Eduardo Romero and Rodger Davis for the Rest of the World side?
You have to say that Tom Lehman and Paul Azinger are two of the toughest competitors and they have shown their spirit playing in Ryder Cup teams for the United States. So again, they will be playing with their competitive spirit but maybe with a little less tension in the Warburg Cup than you would expect in the Ryder Cup. Romero is doing extremely well on the European Tour this year. Although he is getting close to 50 years old, he is right up there in the top handful of players on the Order of Merit. Rodger Davis is an exceptional player. He has been playing well on the U.S. Senior Tour and he has won tournaments all over the world. I think they are two great additions to the Rest of the World team.
Speaking of Paul Azinger, both he and Bernhard Langer played in this years Ryder Cup and again will be on opposing teams during the UBS Warburg Cup. Although Azinger is a rookie, Langer had played last year. How do you think these players will approach this competition?
I think you have seen the career character of Paul Azinger and of Bernhard Langer. I think they are just going to carry that through the Warburg Cup. They are going to play in whatever format they are assigned. They are going to play with their natural character. Azinger is always feisty and competitive and Bernhard Langer is all business but very competitive as well, just a quiet man but all business. His opponents know they are in trouble because he is never going to give up. Any match involving Langer you know you are in for a tough match.
Arnold Palmer and Gary Player, who were captains of their respective teams last year, return as captains again this year. They have seen it all in golf but how do you think they will approach this year?
I was at the dinner where Arnold and Gary spoke last year and it was tremendous the way they spoke about the matches. Their feelings for the game inspired a crowd that had maybe seen it all in golf. They were an experienced group being entertained by Gary and Arnold and there was a standing ovation at the end of their speeches. Now, I think you just expect them to carry on the way they had throughout their careers. Great competitors in the right spirit, never giving up. Of course, in the singles last year for Arnold to beat Gary, that was a surprise. Gary had played better over the first couple of days and Arnold had struggled a bit, but then he came through on the last day and inspired the U.S. team.
Do you think they really enjoyed this competition because, other than this, they wouldnt have had a chance to do this kind of thing?
I think they enjoy any kind of competition, but I think the fact that they were captains of the U.S. team and the Rest of the World team, they felt an extra responsibility to show their stuff - whether it is standing up in front of a crowd at a dinner or on the course. They are two people who have done so much for the game and they are just carrying it on in a different scenario.
And, Gary Player actually never got to play on a Ryder Cup team, did he? Or Presidents Cup for that matter?
Obviously the Ryder Cup was Great Britain and Ireland against the U.S., and then it was Europe against the U.S. So, South Africans, Australians and numerous other countries were kind of left out until the Presidents Cup was born.
How would you describe your experiences as our color commentator last year?
I enjoyed it very much because they were playing at a great venue at Kiawah. Everything Ive seen and heard about Sea Island suggests that it is going to be a great venue. It was fun to see these characters of the game, people who have achieved a great deal in the game, playing in a little different scenario at a great venue, and I expect to see more of the same this year.
Can you recall a favorite moment or anything that happened last year, a funny anecdote or your favorite moment of the tournament?
There were a lot of tight matches on the last day. I think a really significant shot for me was Mark Calccavechia, who in the Ryder Cup in 1991 had blown a lead against Colin Montgomerie and felt that he had cost the USA the match. Coming down the stretch in the Warburg Cup last year at the 17th, a very dangerous par 3 with the water in play, he hit a phenomenal iron shot close to the pin and defeated Ian Woosnam. I think that was, considering what had happened to him ten years previously, was a phenomenal shot. There were a number of things that happened like that, but that was maybe the most outstanding for me.
What do you think the Warburg Cup holds for the television viewer?
I think youd watch it because as I said, Gary Player has never had the chance to play in a Ryder Cup or Presidents Cup. There are other players who you are seeing in a different time in their careers than when they did play the Ryder Cup, having another chance to show their competitive spirit. I think there are a lot of stroke events throughout the year and you have Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup matches and this is for the players over 40 and some of them are over 50. I think it is a great stage for some good players to show their competitive spirit and their game.
This is year no. 2 for the Warburg Cup and they are discussing what they are going to be doing with this event in the years ahead. In your opinion, what would you like to see happen with the Warburg Cup and then realistically what do you think the future holds for this event?
The UBS Warburg people really have to make that decision. I hope they got good value out of the event last year at Kiawah. I expect it to be an excellent match this year at Sea Island and I think it entertains the people who are not only at the event, but it entertains people on television, so I certainly hope that the event will continue.