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SOLHEIM CUP MEDIA CONFERENCE
August 6, 2017
Des Moines, Iowa, USA
THE MODERATOR: Before we get to the all-important wild card announcements, I'd like to re-emphasize that qualifying for Team Europe, it's the top four from the LET points list and top four from the Rolex Rankings with four captain's picks.
For Team USA, it's the top eight players on the Solheim Cup points list, as well as the top two players in the Rolex Rankings, not of course already qualified on points, leaving two captain's picks.
Delighted to say both captains are here this evening, and time to introduce the two captains. And first for Team USA, Juli Inkster to read out the ten players, who have automatically qualified, please.
JULI INKSTER: Okay, our No. 1 point leader was Lexi Thompson, followed by Stacy Lewis, Gerina Piller, Cristie Kerr, Jessica Korda -- she's not here. She's back in Prague looking at having her arm looked at. Danielle Kang, Michelle Wie, Brittany Lang. Brittany Lincicome and Lizette Salas were my Rolex Rankings.
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: First Georgia Hall, Florentyna Parker, Mel Reid, Carlota Ciganda, Suzann Pettersen, Charley Hull, Karine Icher and then Jodi Ewart Shadoff.
THE MODERATOR: Staying with the European Team, time now to finalize your entire team.
Drum roll, please, with the four captain's picks. Who is your first wild-card pick, please?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: My first wild-card goes to the highest-ranked European player. Due to an illness, she missed the tournament last week in Scotland, but of course her merit speaks for itself. It was kind of a no-brainer pick, so Anna Nordqvist.
JULI INKSTER: That was a good one. I would've picked her, too.
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: The next pick is a two-time Solheim Cup player. She was part of the winning team in Colorado. She's had two tremendous performances the last two weeks, two Top-10 finishes, and that's Caroline Masson from Germany.
Our third pick is an upcoming player from Denmark. She has had an impressive few tournaments on the LPGA already. She's aggressive. She hits the ball a long way. I think she's going to be a great addition to the team, Emily Pedersen.
Our fourth and final pick is going to another upcoming player: Aggressive, very popular, has a lot of potential and she's had several Top-10s on the LPGA already. Madelene Sagstrom from Sweden.
JULI INKSTER: My first pick, she doesn't hit the ball very far at all. 25-year-old, this will be her first Solheim, Austin Ernst.
And then my second pick is a rookie this year on Tour. She's 18 years old. I just like the way she plays. She plays aggressive, as Annika said. She does hit the ball a long way. She's a great kid, a lot of fun. I think she'll be very good in the locker room. We can tease her a lot and she can't say anything, so it will work out well. That's Angel Yin.
THE MODERATOR: And she always brings her phone everywhere with her.
First of all, congratulations. Rookie season on the LPGA Tour, how confident do you feel heading into the Solheim Cup, given the way that we've seen you perform here this week?
ANGEL YIN: I'm pretty happy with my game right now. So I'm pretty confident going into -- two weeks from now, next week.
The MODERATOR: Next week. (Laughter) What does it mean to represent Team USA?
ANGEL YIN: Everything. I played in my Junior Solheim in Germany two years ago (sighing).
THE MODERATOR: You're pretty speechless right now, aren't you.
ANGEL YIN: Yes.
THE MODERATOR: Austin, you played Curtis Cup back in 2012 and you've won on the LPGA Tour but you are making your Solheim Cup debut. What will it mean to wear the red, white and blue for Team USA?
AUSTIN ERNST: It will be awesome. It's a dream come true, honestly. I really wanted to be on the last team and just missed out. Now to make this one, I'm excited to pair up with all of them and get out there and play. But yeah, it's a dream come true for me.
The MODERATOR: Anna, I spoke to you earlier this week. First of all, physically, how are you feeling?
ANNA NORDQVIST: I'm feeling pretty good. This weather hasn't helped, but so far, so good.
THE MODERATOR: We know you've been battling the glandular fever the past couple of weeks. Have you been getting any rest between practicing and playing, and will you kind of manage that over the next few days heading into the Solheim Cup?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Yeah, I mean, it's a little bit different, not practicing anything. Because everyone who knows me, knows I practice a lot. You know, I'm happy. Obviously happy to be sitting here, having a great team, and I'm just going to rest and ready to head back to the USA.
THE MODERATOR: Caroline, you've played Solheim Cups before. Once again, what does it feel like to be lining up for the Europeans and once again be taking on Team USA?
CAROLINE MASSON: Yeah, obviously for all of us, it's probably the best week of the year, or in two years. Yeah, I'm just happy that I showed up in time and played well the last couple of weeks. To be on the team this year, it means everything. I'm really excited. It means we have a great, young, powerful team, and yeah, just can't wait for the week to start.
THE MODERATOR: Two players making their Solheim Cup debuts. Describe the emotion right now that you're feeling as you prepare to take on Team USA the week after next, and what lining up for Europe means. A dream come true, I'm sure.
EMILY PEDERSON: Yeah, I'm really excited to go out and play for Europe, and yeah, do the best. I played two of the Ryder Cups and Solheim Cups as junior, and I had a lot of fun and I'm really looking forward to being on the real one this year.
THE MODERATOR: How much have you dreamed about this moment?
MADELENE SAGSTROM: This has been on the background of my phone for a lot of years. So this is definitely a dream come true, and I'm just so excited to be in this position right now and have this opportunity.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, all six of you.
Annika, if I can get a quick word on your four selections, the decision that came into making the four captain's picks and as you look at your team as a whole how delighted you are with your lineup?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Yeah, I'm very delighted. I'm sure Juli can echo; it's not an easy thing. I certainly have enjoyed the journey the last 18 months. We've done a lot of preparation, and I think this is probably the hardest thing that we will do. You know, but looking at these young ladies here, I'm very, very.
Proud of what they achieved. It's been great to follow them for awhile and get to know them. I think we are all just gearing up for the event and the challenge ahead. This is certainly a treat to be the captain for this team. It's a real honor to represent our continent. Looking forward to going to Des Moines in a week.
THE MODERATOR: Just elaborate on the selection process for you and what came into it.
JULI INKSTER: Well, it is tough. It's the hardest day, a lot of up-and-downs. A lot of should I, shouldn't I. But Pat and I, we kind of just went with our gut.
Austin, the last two years, as she said, when we were going to Germany, she was really close. I just feel like she deserves a chance to be on this team and to represent the USA. My players also thought that.
Then Angel, you know, she's kind of been on my radar all year. I've watched her play. I watched her play over in Mexico City in the match play event, and I just liked her demeanor. And again, my team just loves, loves her. So I just thought it was a win/win.
You know, I'm bringing two rookies, but you know, what they have got to play sometime, and I've got a lot of confidence in them. I know we're all looking forward to getting to Des Moines. It's great for women's golf. It really escalates the level of women's golf and brings it to the forefront, and all of these ladies can really play. I think you're going to be impressed when we get to Des Moines how well the matches will go.
THE MODERATOR: We spoke about this. How loud do you expect that crowd to be? It's going to be hugely well supported, probably the most well supported Solheim Cup in history potentially.
JULI INKSTER: And you know, what I hope it keeps growing. It's such a great event. I think Annika's job is to make it quiet and our job is to make it loud. So I think it's going to be great matches and I can't believe, you know, in a week it's going to be here.
But I think we're all ready to go.
Q. (Can you talk about not selecting Paula and how did she take the news, was she upset) --
JULI INKSTER: I'd be upset, too, but you know, I explained to her why I picked these two and you know, she was -- she understood. She didn't play well enough the last year and a half, two years. She left it in my hands. But I've got a lot of respect for Paula, her and her game, and believe me, she'll be on many more Solheims to come.
Q. And Annika, Catriona not playing --
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: You know, you start off looking at 40 players and then you go down to 30 and then you go down to 20 and then you go down to the last few. Every year since she's played on Tour, even this year -- like we said, it's hard to say no to somebody who works hard and is very committed and lives for Solheim Cup.
But you know, she's been along in the process, and being the vice captain, she knows the players that we've been talking about, and at times it was a little awkward when we had to talk about you, Catriona, but you were strong and mature enough. So she knows. We're happy to have her on the team either way.
Q. In terms of Jessica Korda's injury, do you have a backup plan?
JULI INKSTER: Well, I think I put a name in the hopper, and if she pulled that name out, then she would play. But if -- once the matches are introduced on Thursday, we have to have 12 bodies. So she's got till a week from Thursday to find out if she can play or not.
Q. Have you spoken to someone else?
JULI INKSTER: Yeah, but I'm not going to say.
Q. At what point did you actually make this decision? How up to the last minute was it for your pick?
JULI INKSTER: That's a good question. I would say, probably with the Rolex Rankings, you could have moved -- it was really, like Annika said, you go from 25 to 20 to 15, and I would say last night, we kind of had what we were going to do. So I would say up to last night.
Q. We know how hard it was for Juli to speak to a couple members of the American Team that didn't make it, like Paula. What was one of the hardest conversations you had to have today?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, I would say, they all care so much. They all want to be on the team. It's a hard thing to do. I've never done it before. So you know, I think they all took it very professionally. Of course it hurts.
But you know, once you start talking to them, I think they all understand why. I can't give you any particular names, but I think they all handled it with class and just wished everybody good luck.
Q. The two rookies you selected, would you give us insight into the qualities that led to you pick them?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Yeah, like I said, both obviously upcoming. They are both very strong. I like the personalities for the team. They are both very driven. I think their game suits the golf course that we are going to play, and I don't know, they all want to play with those two. So it gives us a lot of options in pairings and so forth. Fun to be around and have a lot of energy. I have several reasons but those are some of them. It's exciting to have them on the team.
Q. For players that have never played in a Solheim Cup and playing on American soil, what's the challenge for you?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I didn't really look at that. We discussed with the leadership on the team, I feel like there might be Solheim Cup rookies, but these two up here play on the LPGA in a way already. And we have great veterans within the team and we are going to support them, of course. They feel comfortable.
But it's always a challenge to play in the US. I think history speaks to that. But I think if you look at the one time we did win in the US in comrade oh, we had six rookies. I really don't think that it's going to matter at this particular time. We're just going to have a good time, play the best we can. It's a tough challenge. Juli has a great team on her side. Just see what happens.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports