The Solheim Cup
County Meath, Ireland
Sept. 21, 2011
Strategy, strategy, strategy…U.S. Captain Rosie Jones’ strategy to tame the lengthy Killeen Castle during Friday’s four-ball matches? Pair the longer hitters with the shorter hitters. The amount of rain that has recently accumulated in County Meath, Ireland – coupled with winds early in the week – have made Killeen Castle a formidable and lengthy test.
“This golf course is playing very long at the moment,” said Jones during Friday’s press conference. We thought better to split those players at the first round, see if this golf course dries out a little bit. We're using our spreading out the talent in that respect. It's fit in really good with our plan.”
Jones’s strategy is highlighted in the first match of the day with the pairing of Michelle Wie and Cristie Kerr. Wie currently ranks third on the LPGA Tour in driving distance at 266.1 yards while Kerr currently sits in 33rd at 254.4 yards.
Unpredictable... Rosie Jones admitted that Alison Nicholas threw strike one past her today by not sending out Rolex Rankings No. 2 Suzann Pettersen in the first match of the week on Friday. Unlike the 2009 Solheim Cup, Nicholas saved her long-hitting blonde until the final foursome match tomorrow.
“I actually thought that you would put out Suzann Pettersen in the beginning match,” Jones told Nicholas after the pairings were released. “You have a tendency to do that. I was kind of going on what you have done before. That didn't work out, but it's okay. You got me there. Strike one (laughing).”
In 2009’s Solheim Cup, Nicholas sent out Pettersen first in both the four-ball and foursome matches. Pettersen, a two-time winner on this year’s LPGA Tour and Sophie Gustafson were defeated in both matches including a 4&2 defeat in their foursome match. They are once again paired together this year and will face Brittany Lang and Assistant Captain Juli Inkster.
The perfect match… Cristie Kerr and Michelle Wie will come out of the gates first during tomorrow’s foursome matches. Both players combine for an impressive 16 LPGA victories including 14 by Kerr.
“Well, Michelle Wie and Cristie Kerr have played together, have had a lot of success together,” said Jones. “You know, they're a great team. They love to play together, good leaders. Want to get that point up there fast.”
Wie and Kerr are an obvious pairing whose strengths compliment the other’s weakness. Wie currently ranks 3rd on the LPGA Tour’s driving distance while Kerr is atop the list in GIR putting average at 1.75.
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome everyone to the 2011 Solheim Cup. In just a few minutes we're going to reveal the pairings for tomorrow's foursome matches tomorrow morning. We would ask that you keep these pairings under strict embargo until they are announced on Sky Sports and Golf Channel at approximately 5:45 p.m.
No, tweeting, Facebooking, et cetera. This is done as a favor so you can get your stories started.
So without further ado, we'd like to welcome the home captain, Ali Nicholas, and the visiting captain, Rosie Jones. Rosie, I'd like for you to start with your pairing for 7:40 tomorrow morning.
ROSIE JONES: Match number one, Michelle Wie and Cristie Kerr.
THE MODERATOR: Ali?
ALISON NICHOLAS: I've got Maria Hjorth and Anna Nordqvist.
THE MODERATOR: Match number two, Rosie?
ROSIE JONES: Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome.
ALISON NICHOLAS: Karen Stupples and Mel Reid.
THE MODERATOR: Match number three, Rosie?
ROSIE JONES: Stacy Lewis and Angela Stanford.
ALISON NICHOLAS: Catriona Matthew and Azahara Munoz.
THE MODERATOR: Finally, match number four?
ROSIE JONES: Brittany Lang, and Juli Inkster.
ALISON NICHOLAS: Suzann Pettersen and Sophie Gustafson.
THE MODERATOR: Ali, we'll start with you. Just some thoughts on putting your pairings together this year.
ALISON NICHOLAS: Yeah, well, I've got some experience there and a bit of youth too. We're very happy with them. Annika and Jo were very much involved in the decisions, and we're looking forward to the start.
THE MODERATOR: Rosie?
ROSIE JONES: Well, we had a great time putting our pairings together. We put a lot of thought, my assistant captains, into this, tweaked it around a little bit. Wanted to make sure that we took into consideration this golf course and the competition that we knew was going to be beside us.
Wanted to put in our strong teams right from the beginning.
Q. Alison, Catriona did well with Diana Luna last time. Is that why you maybe put her together again with a rookie because she's got something of experience that will help?
ALISON NICHOLAS: Yeah, I think she's a great leader, and everybody gets on with Catriona very well. She's a very steady player, and so is Azahara, and I think they make a very good pairing.
Q. Melissa Reid, Ali, is making her debut, but it doesn't feel like that, does it? Because she's been around and done so well. Can you just say what it is about her that is so exceptional and what you're expecting from her throughout this competition?
ALISON NICHOLAS: Well, she's a fine player. She's playing very, very well at the moment. She won last week. She's high in confidence. And Karen and her have played before in Nations Cup, so I think she's going to be a great asset to my team.
I think she's going to play very, very well, and a very, very good player. She's a great team member and lots of fun.
Q. Juli Inkster and Paula Creamer form a good partnership, but not playing together tomorrow. Is there a reason for that?
ROSIE JONES: This golf course is playing very long at the moment. We thought better to split those players at the first round, see if this golf course dries out a little bit. We're using our spreading out the talent in that respect. It's fit in really good with our plan.
Q. Is it important for both of you to have all of your players play the first day?
ALISON NICHOLAS: Depends really what happens in the morning (laughing). I haven't made that decision just yet.
ROSIE JONES: I think the matches dictate your plans. I have a master plan. I'd like to stick to that as much as possible. I plan on getting all my players out. I think that's important. But you have to wait and see how the first matches go and adjust.
I think part of the golf game is hit it and adjust and hit it again. So we'll see what happens in the morning.
ALISON NICHOLAS: Same with me. I've got a plan, but sometimes you have to watch that depending on what happens.
Q. Just wondering if there were any surprises for either of you on those pairings? Any comment, perhaps, on each other's choice?
ALISON NICHOLAS: Not really, no (laughing).
ROSIE JONES: I actually thought that you would put out Suzann Pettersen in the beginning match. You have a tendency to do that. I was kind of going on what you have done before. That didn't work out, but it's okay. You got me there. Strike one (laughing).
But I've got heavy hitters in every match, so I'm not really worried about it.
Q. Can you talk about your leadoff team and are you trying to make a statement, set a tone with them?
ROSIE JONES: My what?
Q. Your leadoff team, your first team up.
ROSIE JONES: Well, Michelle Wie and Cristie Kerr have played together, have had a lost success together. You know, they're a great team. They love to play together, good leaders. Want to get that point up there fast.
THE MODERATOR: Welcome to the 2011 Solheim Cup. We'd like to welcome Morgan Pressel from the U.S. Team. Morgan, thanks for coming in. It's your third appearance on the U.S. Team, 3‑2‑2 all‑time record, including a 2‑0‑1 record in 2009 at Rich Harvest Farms. If you would, talk about being on your third team and being here in Ireland?
MORGAN PRESSEL: It's great, my first Solheim Cup having been overseas, to come back here to Europe and play on foreign soil and be a part of a very talented American team. The weather is just what we expected and probably will be through the rest of the week, and we came prepared for it. We're ready to give it our best shot.
Q. You played your first Solheim Cup on foreign soil, can you talk about how nervous you were and how much better that got as the days progress?
MORGAN PRESSEL: I don't know how much better it actually gets. It's a very nerve‑racking week. It's one where every shot is so important, and you really want to do well for your country and your teammates. There is certainly nothing like the first tee.
I remember in Sweden when we were on the first tee, I partnered with Natalie on alternate shot, so she actually hit the first tee shot, so I escaped that one. But I remember it being really, really cold, and I was really nervous. So it was kind of like doubly bad in that sense.
But coming back, I'm looking for more of the same. I'm sure that the Irish fans won't be too harsh on us, but they'll certainly be pulling for Europe, as would be expected. I've told every American fan that I've seen out there the last couple of days, make sure you're really, really loud because we need to hear you.
Q. How important do you think the mental game will be this week?
MORGAN PRESSEL: The mental game is very important in a Solheim Cup just because you have to stay so patient, and you can never ‑‑ I mean, especially in alternate shot. You're going to hit a bad shot and the first thing you're going to want to say is sorry to your partner, and that's the last thing you should say because everybody's going to hit a bad shot. That's the greatest part about playing alternate shot itself.
But staying patient, grinding out every half point is so important. I mean, you might be three down with three to play, but grinding out a half point could change the entire momentum of the Solheim Cup. It's all about staying in the moment and trying to win every single hole.
Q. How are the fans particularly for Americans?
MORGAN PRESSEL: They love golf in general.
Q. How do you think the fan element will help or hinder the U.S.?
MORGAN PRESSEL: I think they'll be very gracious. They'll appreciate good golf and appreciate great shots that will be hit this week. But, yeah, I don't expect them to be pulling for us in any sense.
You'll certainly hear applause, but the applause will be much louder for Europe, for team Europe, and that is to be expected. We're on their home soil, and it would be ‑‑ it's always the opposite in the United States.
Q. I know you guys don't need any added incentive. Winning the Solheim Cup is enough. But is there an added incentive given that the guys have lost the Ryder Cup and the Walker Cup, so they're both over here? Does that give an added kind of scope for a bonus from your point of view?
MORGAN PRESSEL: I guess I never really thought about it that way. This is our week. No matter what any other competition has done, this is our week and our week to shine and to come out and play the best golf that we have. Put it up against the best European team that they can put together. They have a very strong one.
We need to come out firing on all cylinders and really play well. I don't think ‑‑ the golf course is playing tough, I don't know that a lot of birdies are going to be made on this golf course. There are going to be times when a par might win a hole. It's just set up tough, especially if the wind blows anything like it did yesterday. Today is a little calmer. But in cold, the ball doesn't go very far, and it's wet, so it certainly plays a little bit longer.
But it's the same for both teams. That is the thing about match play. You're playing the person right there in your group, and you're out playing in the same conditions at the same time.
Q. Can you talk a little more about the way the golf course played yesterday in that wind? Do you find it particularly long?
MORGAN PRESSEL: I found it tough yesterday. I think everybody did. I heard one of the groups yesterday only one person reached the ninth hole in two which is 420 yards, but straight into a 40‑mile an hour wind. I certainly didn't, but I got up‑and‑down for par, so...
It was tough out there. 1 and 9 straight into the wind played very difficult. But it's all about controlling your ball flight and taking advantage of the wind on certain shots. When the wind is that strong, it doesn't really carry the ball, so you almost have to take more club even downwind because it pushes the ball down.
I think we learned a lot by playing yesterday in these conditions, and I'm glad that we did.
Q. In some respects is the U.S. Team favored by the fact that it's a Jack Nicklaus golf course, an American style golf course? Yet at the same time, how much is that counter‑balanced by the fact that it's weather conditions that you guys just aren't used to, really?
MORGAN PRESSEL: Well, I think it being, I guess, an American golf course, there are plenty of American style golf courses all over Europe that most of these players have grown up on as well. It's more, I think, the conditions than anything else and playing in the rain and the wind and in the cold.
It doesn't get this cold in Florida all year. It's definitely something that's a little bit different from what we're used to, and it's something that we just have to adapt. We have to be adaptable and be ready to play and wear a lot of layers.
Q. Is it something that makes you uncomfortable? How many days does it take to adapt?
MORGAN PRESSEL: It doesn't make me uncomfortable, but you get used to swinging in layers and being well prepared, having plenty of hand warmers. It's all about preparation when you play in this kind of weather and make sure that the clubs stay dry and things like that because that's what really makes it difficult.
Like I said, everybody's playing in it. A lot of these players play in the United States as well, and even live in the United States, so they're also not entirely used to this weather either. It's not a cake walk for anybody.
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome you to the final pretournament player press conference in advance of the pairings at 3 p.m. To my far left, Brittany Lang, making her second appearance following her rookie campaign in the 2009 Solheim Cup where she was undefeated 1‑0‑2 in three matches. And to my left, Brittany Lincicome in her third appearance on the U.S. Solheim Cup team, 2‑4‑1 all time.
Brittany Lang, we'll start with you. If you would, just start talking about being here in Ireland and your first time playing a Solheim Cup overseas?
BRITTANY LANG: Yeah, it's been fun so far. I'm sure it's going to be a lot different than Chicago as far as the fans because we don't have as many over here. It's been great. I've played the course before, and I still have my girls here, so it's been really good.
THE MODERATOR: Brittany, for you, you've played overseas. Talk about what's different when you come over here?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: It's kind of the same of what Brit just said. My first time was over here, so it's kind of you have no idea when you play over here and then you played two years ago in Chicago how different they were without playing one or the other.
So for my first time, it was just there are so many people, you're representing your country, and there are so much more emotions that go into it. That was hard to get used to, but you've still got to go out and play your own game.
THE MODERATOR: You've had a really nice year individually. How can you parlay that into success this week?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: You know, just trust that I'm playing well and hitting the ball well and keep doing the same things. Try not to overthink it, and just try to go out and make as many birdies as you possibly can. Match play is a funny game. You never know which way it's going to go so just go out.
I like it because I like to be more aggressive, hit more drivers off the tee, try to go for the par‑5s in two if I can and just play more aggressive.
Q. First question is what's going on with your wrist?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: I knew you were going to ask that. I just wanted to be cool and have both of them taped. I don't know. It's kind of a funny story. They're totally fine. I took an Aleve and I'm good to go. It's not anything serious.
The right wrist, our PT kind of thought it was from fishing, catching that 300‑pound grouper last week, because it hurts to kind of like do that motion, so like the casting or whatever. Then they thought I was just kind of favoring this one, so now I've got this one taped (laughing).
But, yeah, the tape is just kind of to stabilize it to make it a little tighter, but they're totally fine.
Q. Have you talked to Vision 54 about how to deal with this week since it's so different than a normal week? Because I remember '07 was pretty stressful.
BRITTANY LINCICOME: Yeah, absolutely. I was playing awful. Yeah, we've talked. I definitely need to call them tonight or this afternoon before we tee it up tomorrow just to get a few more positive reinforcement vibes going, I guess. Yeah.
Just kind of the same things, singing out there. It's going to be nice to have a partner that you can kind of talk to throughout the day when you get down to pump you back up, so that's nice.
Q. How important do you think mental skills will be this week?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: Yes, it's huge.
BRITTANY LANG: Oh, it's huge. It's really important. You have to stay inside yourself and stay inner and do your own thing. You have so much going on outside. You have partners and other caddies. It's extremely important.
It's going to be difficult, and you have to work really hard to continue to see your own shots and play your own game.
Q. So trusting yourself will be very important?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: Very important.
BRITTANY LANG: Absolutely, yeah. You've got to come back to yourself and play in your own game and see your own shots.
Q. You're one of the long hitters on the Tour. Can you talk about what advantage that will be on this course when it's playing so long?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: Long hitter? Yeah.
Q. Any of the holes for long hitters that will be significant?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: The golf course is playing very long, actually. Even for myself to say that, it's definitely going to be a good test. Your No. 1, No. 9 even, obviously, it was a Tuesday‑Wednesday practice round, which I don't hit the ball very far for anyway. And then I had like grip 3‑woods into both of those holes the last couple days.
It's definitely going to be key keeping it into the fairway and hitting it to the right part of the green. Par is going to be a great score out there. If you can par almost every hole, you're not going to be too far back parring each hole.
But it's definitely playing long. It's kind of wet. We're picking up a lot of mud on the ball so they're not rolling out.
THE MODERATOR: I'd like to welcome Annika Sorenstam to the interview room. Annika, the first time assistant captain to Alison Nicholas for the European team this week, and she's the all‑time points leader in Solheim Cup history with 24 points for the European team, made eight appearances as a player, from '94 to 2007 and boasted a 22‑11‑4 record.
So Annika, it's great to have you here. How different is it this time being an assistant captain to being a player?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: First of all, it's great to be here. I've missed the Solheim the last time, so certainly great to be back in this atmosphere. It is different to be ‑‑ not to bring the clubs and not to be playing. Kind of been dealing with that the last two days, but I'm certainly happy to be here and just be part of it.
I was so honored when Alison asked me to be the assistant captain. So I'm doing everything from making sure the food is ready and warm, to looking at the pairings, to the golf course, so it's been a really busy week so far.
THE MODERATOR: How do you rate the European team? How's it shaping up?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I think it's looking good. I love the way they're playing. I love kind of the atmosphere that we got. I just think it's a great team, and Alison is doing a great job to put everybody together, and certainly with the caddies there are some fun laughs the last few days.
Q. Is it difficult or easy to discuss the pairings? Is it a given deal or is it very difficult to put the pairs?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: It's very hard. You know, as a player you think it's really easy especially when you play well. You all want to play. And as you all know it's only eight players in the morning and eight players in the afternoon. It's really hard to find good combinations.
I do think we have great combinations, but who is going to be the best? One day you have some thoughts and the next day you have some other thoughts. You know, we're taking a lot of notes, and it's not as easy as you might think.
Everybody has an opinion, and you're trying to put them all together. But in the end there is Alison and kind of what she feels and kind of her gut feeling that matters.
Q. Who would you say are the key players on the European team this year?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: The key players? I keep saying, you've heard it before, everybody's a key player. Everybody's going to play, every point is important. I think that everybody needs a point and a half to do it. It really doesn't matter who it is.
I'm not going to single anybody out. We all have the world rankings. We all have the money list. We all know who has won this year and who hasn't. But once you come together and you play match play, you play four ball and a foursome, it really puts a whole different spin to it.
I'm not going to single anybody out. You know who the top players are, but we've got to do it as a team.
Q. How important do you think the mental game will be this week?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: The mental game? Well, it's just like any other golf tournament. You've got to be strong mentally. For some of these players, the first time they're playing in such a format. There is a lot of pressure on some of them, and they want to perform well. Especially if you've been selected as a captain's pick, you really want to show them, hey, I'm here for the right reasons. So the mental aspect of the game is always an important part.
Q. One potential problem that I see is they may be trying too hard. Do you do anything with them to help them relax that a little bit more?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Yeah, we're trying. We're trying to have some fun on the golf course. We're trying to have some fun in the evenings. The key really is to include everybody and make them feel like they're part of the team.
Again, I think the winning teams in the past have always had a good kind of team spirit. Everybody's been very positive, and I think that's really what we can try to do on our side.
Q. Which side shone more at last night's dinner?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I'm sorry?
Q. Which side shone more in terms of how they looked at last night's dinner?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: You mean how they were dressed? You know what I'm going to say (laughing). I thought we were styling. What can I say? I mean it depends on what party you were going to.
Q. So how do you make this team spirit? How do you make that the best you can during a week like this?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, it starts with the captain, and it just kind of funnels down, her approach, her attitude, the things that she's bringing into the team. You know, Alison has done a wonderful job as far as collecting information, inspirational videos from other captains, other players, fun games in the playroom, mixing players and caddies together, keeping kind of light and fun.
Then, obviously, it's business when you come here. This is where we prepare. This is where we get ready. But in the player locker room and everything around, we're just trying to have fun and let people be who they are.
You can't just force everybody together as a team and tell them instructions of what they've got to do for five days and think they're going to play good golf. You have to let them be individuals and prepare the way they normally do so they can feel comfortable.
Q. You've got a lot of experience on the team, and you've got a lot of rookies there. How important is it to get the start, to actually get people ‑‑ your experienced players maybe out early, get them building momentum and get the crowd behind you and so on?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Yeah, that sounds very logical. I think that's what we are trying to do. We want to get off to a good start. We want to get off to a strong showing. Again, that's our goal.
We have veterans that we're going to play, and we have rookies that we're going to play. You just have to find the right combinations. Again, it's not an easy thing. It sounds so easy, but when you sit and look at the pairings and look at the course and the weather and everything, it's a little bit tricky.
Q. Will you play everybody over the first two days or will it simply be a case of form?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, certainly a case of form. I think anybody would say that. I think experience matters also. So, I mean, we are set with the morning group. We feel really good about the morning group, and then we'll go from there.
Q. Sort of on the same theme. Do you think it's very important that Europe leads going into Sunday in the Americans obviously seem to do better in the singles. Have you talked about that or why do you think that is?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I think every captain on the European team brings the singles up. I've played eight times and you have Catrin is sitting right there. I'm sure she could give you some insights. That is certainly something we address every year.
The key to me is like any other golf tournament, you want to be leading all day long. If you're leading, then you just keep on cruising, so I wouldn't think this is any anything different. I don't think anybody wants to be trailing anybody.
The sooner you get a point, the better and just stay in front. So whether it's after foursomes, after four ball, you know, going into singles, the more points, the better.
Q. We saw it in the Junior Solheim Cup this week, we see it in the Ryder Cup, we saw it in the Walker Cup, unless I'm mistaken, the Americans always seem to do better at singles. Why is that?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, I think you look at history, yeah, you would say so. But in our minds we don't look at it that way. We have to look at it another way. We have to look at it as we're individuals as well and we can play singles.
You look at the European Tour players, a lot of them play in the U.S., they play by themselves most of the time, and they've beaten most of the U.S. players. So why can't they do it this year? That's just the attitude we have to have.
We can't look backwards. We have to look forward. We have to be positive, so that's the mindset that we have.
Q. Is there anything positive you can do to boost that mindset sort of in denial of the results of such?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I wouldn't say we're in denial. I just think thinking positive. I believe in thinking ahead. I believe in anything is possible. I know a lot of our players have beaten some of the U.S. players individually this year, so why can't it happen here in Ireland here at Killeen Castle? There is nothing that stops us.
It's not about being in denial, it's just thinking, hey, anything is possible, and this is the week that it will happen.
Q. It's all been very friendly and cordial to now. When does that stop? When does the war paint go on?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, I wouldn't use those hard words. We're just very competitive, and it's fun to be here, and we all want to play well. So I think on the outside it's friendly, but I would say on the inside it is too.
It's very competitive, but I think we're done with all the kind of gamesmanship. In the end, sportsmanship will win this week, and women's golf will be the winner. I'm sure you've heard that before, but I think that's the goal from everybody.
Q. How important for the competition is it that Europe win this week?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, I'm a strong believer that I do think it's important that Europe wins. We have played 11 times. Europe has won three in the USA. I think for any competition, you want to see a little bit more of an even score.
However, having said that, if you look at each year or every other year, the scores are a lot closer ‑‑ the competition has been a lot closer than maybe the score says. I just think it's good for European golf for the women to win here. I just think it will boost it going to the U.S. in two years.
Of course, being part of the team again, there's nothing like winning. That's why we're here. We're here to have fun, of course. But as a winner, we all want to win.
Q. Can a good captain's speech affect the outcome? Can inspiring words make a difference or does talent ultimately rule?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I think this week is a combination of everything. One speech directly to a team player could inspire them, it could take some doubts out of their minds. It can build the confidence, absolutely.
I do think that it's the whole week together that matters. Of course you need to be hitting good shots, you need to make putts. We all know that.
But I think having the right head on the right shoulders and feeling comfortable ‑‑ just like anything. When you play any other week, you need to feel good. You need to like the golf course. You need to be swinging well, you need to be in a positive frame of mind. There is nothing different this week.
In the end, it's golf, and you've got to hit it from A to B in as few shots as possible.
Q. It must be a wonderful feeling for you to be back in the team environment. Had you forgotten how good it was? And do you see this being a training session for you being a captain some day in the near future?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I must say I'm really enjoying myself this week. I've been away from competition, and I've been away from kind of the whole atmosphere for 24 months or something like that. It brings back some wonderful memories. There is no doubt about it. Especially walking here and talking to some of the players that I played with like Suzann or Catriona, or Sophie, and Laura. I mean, the conversation that they're having between themselves is the one that I used to have with them.
So I'm in a funny position, but I also think that I can add some value to that because I've been in that situation. Yes, it's fun to be part of the team again.
As far as the captaincy, time will tell. What the organization wants and what the players want. I've always felt like it was a great honor to represent Europe as a player and as a captain, so we'll see, I guess, is my answer.
Q. Without wishing to put you in an embarrassing position, is it something you would like or yearn for?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Yeah, I would like, obviously, yeah. I would love to do it. I do see what it takes to be a captain this week. I think, again, Alison is doing a wonderful job.
As a player, you could kind of see it, but you really didn't see all the details. You show up here and everything is ready and you just go play. I've been part of this for 12 months. I was here 12 months ago, and we talked about all the logistics and the course and the clubhouse. So my mind has been on this week for a while.
Having said that, I don't know if I'm ready today or ready for next time by any means, and I know that there are other players that I think probably deserve to have this role as well. So it's out of my hands.
Q. In terms of your playing ability, obviously, you've been there, you've done it all yourself, a wonderful player. How difficult is it as a vice‑captain to watch these players and give them advice without actually sort of giving them too much advice, if you understand what I'm saying? You know how to experience the experiences that they've experienced, you know how to play the shots under pressure, and you see some of these rookies, to give them advice without overloading them with too much advice, if you understand what I'm saying.
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Yeah, you're kind of reading my mind or maybe seen how I've acted out there. I'm extremely competitive. You want to be there, you want to support them, and you want to help them. But as a previous player, it's so easy to say, well, this is what I would have done. Not that it really matters to them.
But then again, you want to help them as much as you can because you know what it takes. As a rookie, I made a lot of mistakes, and later in my career, I didn't make them. So you want to share with them, hey, don't make the same mistakes I did. If you do this, then you get this outcome instead.
I have to admit I have to juggle that back and forth and step away a little bit and look at it more from another perspective.
It's a good test for me. It certainly is. It just makes me think about being a mom and my kids playing sports down the road, that I've got to let them do it. Support them, but not do it for them.
THE MODERATOR: So we'd like to welcome Karen Stupples and Catriona Matthew from the European team. Thanks for coming in, ladies. Catriona, this is your sixth appearance on the European team with a 10‑7‑4 record and 12 points scored. And Karen, this is your second appearance. If you would, just start by talking about your experience so far being in Ireland. Perhaps, Catriona, if you could start.
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, obviously, I got in here Sunday night. I've been enjoying it so far. We played 18 Tuesday and just nine the last couple of days. So it's been nice having played the course twice in the Irish Open, it's been nice coming here.
It's not often you come to the Solheim and you've played the course and you know the course. I felt these few days running up to it have been more relaxing and normal. Had a bit more spare time and time to kind of save our energy for the weekend.
KAREN STUPPLES: Yeah, exactly what Catriona said just there. It feels very comfortable playing here because we've been here so much already. So we're both feeling very ‑‑ almost calm really, and it's been fun. We had a brilliant police escort last night with motor bikes and everything. That was fun, so we've had a good time, too.
THE MODERATOR: How long did it take you to scoot through Dublin?
KAREN STUPPLES: A lot less with the bikes.
Q. Being this is a match play event, how important do you think the mental game will be?
KAREN STUPPLES: I think it's huge, actually, because you're going one‑on‑one. But I think you have to remember it's just your ‑‑ you've still got to play quality golf and you've got to play your game. At the end of the day, if you take care of your business, you'll be fine.
But you have to put the stress and worry aside, I think, and just play golf and try to enjoy it. It should be fun, right? Golf's fun.
Q. How about you, Catriona?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, I think match play, obviously, it's slightly different from stroke play. But I think certainly the front nine you're ‑‑ well, it just depends on what your opponent's doing. You might change your strategy a little if they're in trouble or whatever.
But on the whole you're still just going to play, especially around a course like this, if it stays like this, par's are going to be good. You're going to be trying to hit the greens and give yourself a birdie chance and go from there.
But, yeah, I think it's slightly different. But there is definitely a little bit more of maybe a mental game if your opponent goes off line or whatever.
Q. Do either of you use mind‑clearing techniques like breathing?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: You know, I've never really been into the psychology of it a whole lot. I suppose just through experience you learn how to maybe relax a little bit on the course. I do sometimes take a few deep breaths, but that's about it.
KAREN STUPPLES: Yep, snap.
Q. How important do you think it is for Europe to get a win this week?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: I think it would be pretty important, yeah, for Europe and just for the whole Solheim Cup if Europe can get a win this year. We've got a good chance this year. Obviously, the Americans are certainly the favorites on paper, and world ranking‑wise they're higher up than us.
But I think we have a good team, a good blend of experienced players and some good rookies who have proven themselves winning tournaments and different things.
Yeah, I think we've got a good chance. We've got the home crowd. But, yeah, obviously, the Americans are going to be tough and they're favorites, but we're quietly confident.
KAREN STUPPLES: She's awesome. What can I say? I don't need to say anything more. She's perfect.
Q. With that in mind, for either one of you, what has to happen for it to be different this time? For there to be a different result, what has to happen?
KAREN STUPPLES: I think it's been incredibly close. I think we've been a bit unlucky really over the last few years, last few events. I think it's been a lot closer than the actual results have said. It doesn't take much. When you look at it ‑‑
CATRIONA MATTHEW: 14 and a half points. That's all you need to do.
KAREN STUPPLES: There you go.
Q. Either one of you, can you go over what you think some of the key holes are on the back nine?
KAREN STUPPLES: Any of those ones at the end really. You look at 15, 16, 17, really, those are going to be key. You've got a good par‑5 that you've really got to be looking at making birdie on. Then you have 16, which is a tough par‑3. And 17 is a really good par‑4 too because you've got to be careful with your tee shot and your approach to the green which is really quite undulating. A lot could happen in those last few holes.
CATRIONA MATTHEW: I think 11, 12. 11 is a tough par‑4, and then 12 maybe not so much on foursomes, but four ball. Some players may be going for the green and different things.
So I think certainly that can turn a game sometimes. So I think maybe 10, 11, 12.
Q. Karen you've only played one and it was in America. Can you talk about how much more comfortable it is being in Europe and talk about your experience last time? Did you enjoy it?
KAREN STUPPLES: My golf wasn't very good last time around. I wasn't playing particularly well. And I think if you're in this environment under the pressure of playing in a Solheim Cup, if your golf isn't good, it's a very tough week for you. You don't want to be ‑‑ it's hard to get your game ready as well. If you're coming in here trying to find your golf game, you're at the wrong event.
So for me, last time it was a tough event for me because I just wasn't playing very well. That's no fun because you don't want to let anybody down. You know, you're not playing well, and you don't want to let people down, so it just adds to the pressure of it all.
This time I feel good about my game. I feel like I've had some good results coming in. I've been very consistent. It's lovely to be here as well. Like we said earlier, we're very familiar with the course. We're familiar with the surroundings here. Everything's familiar, TV shows, things like that. It's just like home, really. It is home.
Q. So you mentioned earlier that the European team is quietly confident. Can you just explain exactly why you're quietly confident? Is it the course; is it the formula of the team?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: I think you've got to believe you can win. There's no point in being here if you don't believe you can win.
But, yeah, I think we've got a good team. Like I said, we've got a good blend of experience. Obviously, Suzann, Maria, Sophie, Karen, good, long hitters. All been playing well this year. And Sandra has won in the States this year. Mel Reid's won a few tournaments in Europe, and Caroline's won, I think, three tournaments in Europe.
Even though they're rookies, I think they've proved that they can win tournaments. They may not be up there in the world rankings, but they're all good players.
Yeah, I think all of us feel as though we've got a good enough team to win. As I said, we'll probably be the underdogs world ranking‑wise. But I definitely think we all believe we can go out there and win.
Q. Can you tell me who has been the life and soul of the team room?
KAREN STUPPLES: I think Melissa's been very funny, actually. Yeah, she's made all of us laugh quite significantly this week, yep. Wouldn't you say so?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah. I thought it was me.
KAREN STUPPLES: Well, and you.
CATRIONA MATTHEW: I thought you were going to say me.
Q. Given America's traditional dominance in the singles, what kind of position do you think Europe needs to be in come Saturday night?
KAREN STUPPLES: I don't think you even really need to look at that. I think for singles to be successful, everybody has to go out and take care of their own business and not worry about it. I think traditionally in the past the top players have had to ‑‑ have had a lot of pressure, because they know that their points are big.
But this year we're all playing fairly well. I think we have a better chance together as a team, so there's not that same kind of pressure. I think we're going to do just fine.
Q. Do you think it's essential in some ways for a European victory this time around for the Solheim Cup not to get a reputation as a one‑sided competition?
KAREN STUPPLES: That depends on what you write about it. I think that it's a big competition for us on the European Tour, and I think it is for the Americans. The rivalry that's happened now over the last few years ‑‑ 12 is it? 12 times ‑‑ has become quite significant. And the tradition that's involved in it, I think, is huge. I don't think anybody would really want to see that go no matter what the result ended up. But if you write good stuff, then we'll be just fine.
CATRIONA MATTHEW: We've been beaten, but they've been close. I think as long as it's close, which I think it will be.
KAREN STUPPLES: I think the matches will be great this year. I think it will be very close.