LPGA MEDIA CONFERENCE
January 27, 2004
NEAL REID: Welcome, everybody, today, thanks for joining us. Earlier this week I'm sure you know the LPGA was excited to announce that Nancy Lopez will be the U.S. team captain next year at the Solheim Cup at Crooked Stick in Indiana. And we have Miss Lopez here joining us today. We would like to just open it up for some general remarks from Nancy. But first I wanted to remind you that we also announced that the points change for Solheim Cup for 2005, players will now receive points for top 20 finishes instead of top-10 finishes, that is retroactive back to the State Farm Classic of 2003. And so players will receive points based on the top 20 finishes for 2004 and for the remainder of 2005 before the Solheim Cup. So keep that in mind. And with that I would like to turn it over to Nancy. Just give some general comments on your reaction to being named captain for next year.
NANCY LOPEZ: Thanks, Neal, and welcome everybody that's on right now. I of course am very thrilled, honored and nervous about being the next Solheim Cup team captain. It's something that I've hoped that I would be able to do some day. As of last Thursday when our commissioner called me, Ty Votaw called me and let me know the great news, I was very, very, very excited and just can't wait.
NEAL REID: Can you talk little bit about how it will be to be in Indianapolis and that setting and at a golf course like Crooked Stick.
NANCY LOPEZ: I've not played Crooked Stick, but I know so many people that have played there and say it's a wonderful golf course. I'm sure it's going to be a very tough golf course also. I have played in Indianapolis before in years past. When we play the U.S. Open there one year that Hollis Stacy won it. And I know it's a great golf town. And I hope a lot of people will come out to watch it. It's going to be very exciting.
NEAL REID: Okay, we can open it up for questions now.
Q. By the way, you have played Crooked Stick?
NANCY LOPEZ: When did I do that?
NANCY LOPEZ: Oh, that's why I can't remember.
Q. You saw another U.S. Open go by the wayside, you were actually tied for the lead going into the 8th hole and hit it in the water there?
NANCY LOPEZ: Are you serious?
NANCY LOPEZ: Where was that? Let me remember. See if I can.
Q. I hate to embarrass you like that?
NANCY LOPEZ: That's -- no, no problem. I was talking to Neall and I was trying to remember. I know Lauri Merton won the U.S. Open there. But that wasn't the year I was there, was it?
Q. Yes, you were there and you played right behind Lauri Merton and you hit it in the water there and you were tied for the lead on the 8th hole. There was roars all through the day everybody thought you were going to win. You know, what does it mean for the LPGA golf though to come back and try -- it's been in a bit of a mix with the Ryder Cup, going against it the last couple of years because of 9-11, is this really important for you to take charge of that?
NANCY LOPEZ: Well like I said, I'm thrilled to be there in 2005 and the players on the U.S. team I'm just proud to represent them as their captain. I watched the Solheim Cup this past year when they were over in Sweden and of course my heart died for them as they did not bring the cup back. It's an honor for me because I think when you're playing a professional anything and to be able to be able to lead a team as their captain, it's an unbelievable feeling. I know it's going to take a lot of my time and I'm going to spend a lot of my time doing whatever I have to do. And I know when I played in 1990 it was nothing like it is now compared to what it was then. We had very few people really watching us and it was brand new, of course. And I think even then it was so exciting. But when I went to the Solheim a couple years ago in Minneapolis it was a major undertaking. Everybody was there, the crowds were tremendous, the feelings and the pride that I was feeling there just to be watching them was unbelievable. And like I said last year when they didn't win the cup, I was really devastated for them because I saw -- the thing I remember the most was Rosie Jones winning the last point in Minnesota and then her losing the last point in Sweden. And the disappointment that I saw on her face brought tears to my eyes. Because I know those disappointments and I have felt them. And being able to watch that and now being able to be a part of it, I just can't wait.
Q. And the change of points does that just show how international that the TOUR has become and that we need to change these points?
NANCY LOPEZ: Yeah, because I was talking to Neal about that and yes, with the top 20 because we have so many foreign players now, sometimes. So American players didn't finish in the top-10, so I think it was a great idea to change that.
Q. You had a top-10 finish in '93 at the Women's Open at Crooked Stick, I'm surprised you can't remember.
NANCY LOPEZ: I can't remember it. I know when I step out there and see the course again I'll remember it immediately. But for some reason I'm just blacked out with that. I cannot remember that. I was telling Neal I remember Lauri Merton winning it, but I thought I was watching it on television.
Q. Will you make a site visit? Will you encourage your players, some of the contenders for your team to make a site visit or does none of that matter this far out?
NANCY LOPEZ: No, I think that --
Q. How do you start, what do you do first?
NANCY LOPEZ: Well, I'm going to talk to a lot of people, spend a lot of time with the commissioner and of course pick a lot of people's brains. Probably talk to some of the past captain's. Really start doing a lot of homework early. I think whenever the time gets closer to the Solheim Cup I would like the players to come and play there and maybe spend a couple two or three days there. And have a good time, but develop some fellowship also as a team there at Crooked Stick. I think it would be a lot of fun to do that. And that's what I would try and do closer to where we're going to see who is going to be on the team.
Q. Have you given thought to an assistant and what will be the first things you'll do? When will you start or have you already?
NANCY LOPEZ: I talked to Ty Votaw and he just, we really talked about assigning an assistant captain to me probably early would be better, so that we can really start working together on what we need to do. I have a few people in mind, just kind of waiting to see what I need to do next before I decide anything. I don't want to be in a hurry, I want to do everything I need to to make the right decisions, but also think about it and talk to people that have been involved with the Solheim in the past few years. Like I said, it's a great undertaking and I just want to take my time and hopefully make the right decisions and look forward to picking an assistant captain. I think that will be a lot of fun doing that. And the one person I have in mind I think would be great, but I can't say anybody's name right now.
Q. Last year in Sweden there was an enormous enthusiasm, just a wave of emotion that I think helped carry the Europeans. And that was based on some special factors. But do you hope to engender the same kind of enthusiasm at Crooked Stick, is there anything you can do to build that?
NANCY LOPEZ: I think there will be great enthusiasm at Crooked Stick. I think that the Solheim is such a prestigious event that I think people have now caught on to that. I think the Americans do see it as a Ryder Cup. I always hate to compare, but I think that the people are excited about it, my friends have called me from all over the country since they found out yesterday and they're all looking forward to being there and supporting the Solheim Cup team. And when you've played on the team, I played in 1990, almost made it another time, it's a thrill that, unless you've been there, it's really hard to explain. But to represent your country, I know when I was playing in 1990, I was scared to death. I had played in a lot of tournament, won many tournaments, but the competition is different when you know that there's teammates and there's people there waiting to see how you did and hoping that you would win your match. There was tremendous pressure. And of course every time the National Anthem played I had great pride and I had tears in my eyes every time because I was so proud to be a part of that team. And watching the teams as the years have gone on, and having the camaraderie with the players and of course even with the Europeans, there's a lot of them that are my friends and many times having little spats with Helen, which -- a spat, I mean a friendly spat, and it was fun to know that we were going to play against them. And the competition that you have when you're there as a team it's tremendous. And I loved it when I was playing in 1990 and I know it's gotten even bigger and better since then.
Q. You did a lot as a junior, you started big, I think you were 12 when you won your state amateur have you ever seen anything like Michelle Wie?
NANCY LOPEZ: I tell you, she's tremendous. I guess I was a little shocked she did as well as she did in Hawaii. I think she -- there has to be some pressure, but I remember being young and really things didn't bother me as much because I really didn't have anything to lose. So the pressure of playing hadn't really, it wasn't affecting me yet. I think that she's out there playing, having a great time, she knows she's good, she hits the ball a long way. I don't think that pressure even comes into her mind yet. She's too young to know what that's all about. And I think that's what why she's playing very well and I think that she will play well for a very long time. It's unbelievable, when you're 14 years old, and of course I have two daughters, one 20, one 17, and one 12. My daughters weren't focused on anything at page 14 like she is when she's playing golf. So she -- I was very thrilled to see how well she did and very amazed.
Q. I wonder though if you forget that you played at Crooked Stick because of all your, you never reached that goal of U.S. Open, you tried to forget all those times that you were so close but never, you never got there.
NANCY LOPEZ: Right. What place did you say I finished?
Q. You finished 7th. You finished 3-under.
NANCY LOPEZ: I don't -- see I always say you never remember the second place winner you always remember, only remember the first. So if I finished 7th it really went right out of my mind. But I will promise you, when I get there, I'll know it. I'll remember it immediately.
Q. You only played three tournaments last year, this is going to take away some of that time with your family. Have you talked to Ray and the girls about that?
NANCY LOPEZ: Oh, yeah. Well, I think you kind of prepare for that and I was hoping to play a few more tournaments this year, but now that I'm Solheim Cup team captain, I might think differently. I'm not really sure. I have to do some stuff for Golf Channel. So that will have me out there even more. But whatever I have to do, I'm going to do what I have to do. If I need to meet with anybody in a week or so where I have to go somewhere, I am definitely going to dedicate my time to the Solheim Cup and hopefully and great captain.
Q. I just wanted to follow-up on your own playing. You just mentioned that you might not play much. Do you miss it? Do you miss not competing or has being away from it been great?
NANCY LOPEZ: I struggle with it in my mind. I think, I sit many times watching television, watching golf, and some of the desire has kind of left me to play competitive golf, but yet I still sit there and say, you know, if I practiced and worked on my game, I think I could get some of that desire back to where I would want to play a lot more. But other things come up in your life and I think what I miss the most is just the fellowship I've had with all the people from different cities that I've gone to to play. I miss that a whole bunch. I miss playing golf competitively. I don't miss the pressure because I think I feel -- last year I really didn't feel any pressure it was kind of nice just to get out of bed and not worry about that hour before getting up and going to the golf course and hitting golf balls and chipping and putting and making sure everything was right. You can definitely tell the difference when you're not playing competitively and when you are just playing or when you just come home, you realize how much pressure you really had every day and the 20 something years I played on tour. But you don't realize it while you're doing it. It's after it's over. And now that I am sitting around watching competitive golf and working -- and I still work on my game and I'm going to work on it because I would like to play a little bit and I would like to compete a little better than I did in the last year and a half to where when I do play I'm going to be competitive when I'm out there. I may not win, but you never know, I might get charged up and really work on my game and something might fall into place. But I just realized how much I loved the game, but how much I'm enjoying being normal or in my other life kind of where there's not so much pressure. And some days I say I don't know how I played golf and had a family and took care of everybody, because there's days where I just feel like I don't have time to do anything but take care of my family.
Q. Is that sort of the Catch-22 at this point in your life? The thought of putting in the work necessary is a little daunting?
NANCY LOPEZ: Yeah, it is. Because I know that you've got to work -- for me to play the type golf that I would want to take out there on tour, it takes work. And I guess I always said I never really wanted to play just to play. And I think I really kind of did that last year and the year before on my fair well tour. I was playing, I was hoping to play competitively but I think it was just more important to me to spend time with my fans and the people that supported me through all the years of playing golf and missing the cut, it bothered me, yeah, but I got to see all those people that have been so good to me. And I just really wanted to give them a chance to or at least give me a chance to be with them one more time before I decided not to come back to that city and play competitive golf.
Q. If you had in mind a number of tournaments maybe and you're now cutting that back I wonder what you envision playing and what you might now play?
NANCY LOPEZ: I would like to play six, seven tournaments and some of those might be, if I do Golf Channel this year might be a few of those tournaments. I really many going to just play it by ear. But would I say my No. 1 priority right now would be the Solheim Cup for sure. And then like playing whenever it fits into everybody's schedule, because I really look at my daughter's schedules and what they're doing and how I can be there for them. And so I really am looking at the schedules from week to week, from day-to-day and what I can do, but now being Solheim Cup team captain, that's going to be my first priority right now.
Q. If I had come up with an adjective for you it would be nice, and that's one of the reasons you've appealed so I think to the masses, will it be hard for you to make some of the hard decisions in terms of pairing, benching somebody, representing your team in a dispute or something or are you not so nice that you can handle those things?
NANCY LOPEZ: I don't know. I've not been in that situation before. But I feel like I can feel people, they're feelings, what they're thinking. I will definitely share my thoughts with my players. I will definitely keep open ears for my players to speak to me. It's a team effort. I know that being captain you might have to make some decisions, but I would definitely just communicate with my players, because I want them to be happy. I want them to play and enjoy it. I know just by playing on even the collegiate golf level, when you're playing on a team, I know that I have to -- I, as a player, I would want to be sure that I feel good about the person that's leading me. And I think with that you play even better because you respect that person and you want to play to win, but you respect that person you play even a little bit harder. I would just like to do good for them. And I want to have that kind of relationship with my players. Let them know that I care about everything they feel. Because I know that that determines a lot of the way you play when you're on the golf course. What you're feeling. If your emotions are stressed out or if you're not happy about something, it just to be able to do that and know that they can come and talk to me, especially when it comes closer to the Solheim Cup matches. I hope that they will be able to share their thoughts and feelings with me anyway that they can. And I would think that wouldn't be any different than with any of the other captains that have been captain. But I definitely will have an open door, an open ear for sure for all the players that are, that have the chance to be on the team because that's how you have a great team is if you always converse and speak and feel good about the whole situation.
Q. You mentioned pressure a couple of times since we started and the fact that you haven't missed that the last several years. There will be enormous pressure attendant to this enterprise, the Europeans have won two of the last three, they have never won on U.S. soil, what are your thoughts about that?
NANCY LOPEZ: I'm psyched up for it. I know we can win that cup back. I know there is a little more pressure because we never lost on American soil. And sure, there's pressure because I want to win and I want a team that wants to win. And I know all teams want to win. But I think there's a lot of enthusiasm and I think there will be a lot of enthusiasm at Crooked Stick. And I think that even more so because we don't have the cup in our hands there's going to be even more excitement in the players that want to go and try and win it back.
Q. You know Katrin and Allison very well as a competitor and everything else and I know it's not official but it's going to be one of those two. But any thoughts on that?
NANCY LOPEZ: Well Katrin, she did a great job and I think that Allison, I know Allison I think pretty well. And I think a lot of her. I think there's a true friendship between her and I. Of course I've had best friends and I've played with them on the golf course and when we're on the golf course I really didn't talk to them very much because I wanted to win, I wanted to concentrate. Not that I was ugly or anything, if you just have a different -- you just have a different focus when you're playing against your friends. Because I consider the Europeans my friends. I've played golf with them, I've known them, but I think they know where I'm coming from an of course being a competitor, I definitely want us to win. I'm sure I will converse with them many times, either one, and I think either one would be a great captain.
NEAL REID: If there are no more questions I would like to thank you all again for joining us and remind you that the transcripts of this tele conference call will be on lpga.com by the end of business day today.
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