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SOLHEIM CUP MEDIA CONFERENCE
July 22, 2020
THE MODERATOR: I'll go ahead and say hello, everybody. I'm Christina Lance with the LPGA media, and we're really excited to have you all here with us today to talk about this exciting news. As you've seen, we're happy to announce that for the 2021 Solheim Cup, team captain Pat Hurst has selected her second assistant captain to join the team, Michelle Wie West. Michelle, welcome to the team. Pat and Michelle are both here and excited to talk to you about this opportunity.
Let's start talking to Pat and Michelle. Pat, I'll start with you first. You said that Michelle gave you a call and said, I want to be on your team. Clearly you agreed. What was your reaction when you got that call from Michelle, and what made you decide you wanted her to be a part of your 2021 Solheim Cup team?
PAT HURST: Yeah, Michelle called me early on and said, you know, if you haven't picked your assistants, can you please consider me. I told her, you know what, we'll be chatting soon enough, and give me a little bit of time. I just called her up, we set up basically an appointment to talk, and she was in my pod two different times, and I know what she's like. I know she's very patriotic, loves the red, white and blue just like I do, and her intensity is there. All the players love her. They respect her, and that's what I need.
THE MODERATOR: Michelle, what was your reaction to hearing that Pat was going to be the team captain, and why did you want to be on her team so badly?
MICHELLE WIE WEST: I was so excited. I kind of predicted it just because she was such a great assistant captain the last two times, and I was thinking she'd be a great captain. When I actually heard it, I was like, this would be amazing. I would love to be assistant captain under her. So I'm pretty sure I texted Pat. I think I texted you really early on, like I think as soon as I heard the news I immediately texted Pat, being like, if you haven't picked your assistant captains yet, I just would love to be even considered.
She was my pod mom twice, and she was just so amazing. Really she made me feel comfortable, and that's kind of what I aspire to be, and I just feel extremely honored when I actually got that phone call when she picked me as assistant captain. I was just ecstatic.
THE MODERATOR: What do you feel you're going to bring to the team as her assistant captain? What are your best assets you're going to bring to Team USA?
MICHELLE WIE WEST: I hope I can achieve as much Pat did as assistant captain. I'm just here to assist her. As you can imagine, with the title of assistant captain, I just want to help her as much as possible. I know how much work goes into it, and those 12 players on a team, you can't be everywhere all at once, so wherever she needs me, whatever she needs me to do, I just want to make her week easier, her year easier, and to assist with the team so we can come home with the trophy.
Q. My question to you, Michelle, is I know how important that very first Solheim was to you on so many levels, not justâ€‘â€‘ we talked about this before, the confidence gained and your success there right away, but I think in the bonding with teammates and maybe acceptance on the Tour. Can you speak to all of that and the importance of that experience?
MICHELLE WIE WEST: Oh, yeah. I mean, I don't thinkâ€‘â€‘ I mean, I won my first LPGA tournament after I played in the Solheim, and I don't know if I had that experience if that was going to happen that year.
It's a truly unique experience. I mean, I've experienced the Curtis Cup before, I've experienced team bonding before, but the Solheim is on a whole 'nother level. And the way the fans come, it's just truly unique. It puts you in a situation where you feel really extremely uncomfortable, and you have to rely on your teammates, and that's something that you don't experience out on Tour, and the bonding that we have between the teammates, it's so unique. Every week we're playing against each other, but there's this underlying bonding, there's this underlying sisterhood between your Solheim teammates, whether they have been on the team ever since then or they've only been your teammate once, and especially if you've played with someone as your partner that's even a more closer experience.
That's something that I want to help Pat with, and if I have my little pod and there's going to be a mix of rookies and veterans, I know that experience as a rookie, how scary it can be, from going from rookie to fiveâ€‘time veteran, and I've experienced it all, and hopefully my experience can help Pat and the team out just even a little bit if possible.
Q. Just to follow up, Pat, what do you remember about Michelle's growth and what you saw in her via the Solheim Cup, through the Solheim Cup?
PAT HURST: You know, her confidence really shot up a lot after Solheim. Again, you're not only playing for yourself, you're playing for your captains, you're playing for your teammates, you're playing for your country, and when you step up to the tee, the very next tournament after playing a Solheim, your confidence level is so much higher, and she showed that and she proved that after by winning.
Q. Michelle, I just wanted to ask you as a new mom, I've seen a lot of action from you on the range recently. What are your thoughts on competition? Would you like to be a playing assistant captain?
MICHELLE WIE WEST: I definitely want to compete again. It just depends really on the state of the world more than the state of my game at this point, unfortunately. But it's been so much fun going out and playing and having her on the range with me and all that and just playing again and being healthy and feeling good. You know, it's fun. I just really enjoy being back.
Whether or not I'm going to be a playing assistant or not, I've talked to Pat about that, and that's a bridge that we'll cross when we get there, if we even do get there, but I'll leave the decision completely up to Pat. It's completely up to her whether she wants me to play or not.
I mean, that's so far down the road and that's so just notâ€‘â€‘ I mean, it's not predictable at all, but I told Pat that I'm totally leaving it up to her. It's her decision, and if she wants me to play I'll play; if she doesn't want me to play and only be an assistant, I'm fine either way.
Q. Do thoughts of Suzann Pettersen come to mind and what she did coming back after a long layoff with a baby?
MICHELLE WIE WEST: Yeah, I mean, it's definitely very inspirational. I mean, all the moms that have come back, just kind of thinking about it now and thinking about how Catriona Matthew won the British Open nine weeks after giving birth, that even seems more remarkable because I'm like hitting my driver barely 220 right now, and the fact that she won a major nine weeks, that's probably like four weeks from now, it's just crazy.
So I think all the LPGA moms out there, it's justâ€‘â€‘ going through it now and like going through everything is justâ€‘â€‘ it's even more remarkable.
Q. Michelle, I was just curious the winning Solheim Cup teams you were on, where do those weeks rank in your career?
MICHELLE WIE WEST: Oh, yeah, definitely like the top moments for sure. You know, when I think about the best golf I've ever played, it always goes back to the matches that I've won, and I've talked about this before, but the match that I had my rookie year, 2009, against Helen Alfredsson, my singles match, that had to be the toughest match I've ever played and the best golf I've ever played, considering how nervous I was.
And just being on the winning teamsâ€‘â€‘ I've been on both winning and losing, and losing sucks. It's really not fun. But you learn a lot from it, and then coming back and being on the winning teams again, it makes you appreciate it more, and it's definitely one of the top moments because those moments that you celebrate with your teammates, you'll never forget it.
Q. Pat, I was just curious if you were going to be at Inverness next week and how closely you'll be paying attention to that event.
PAT HURST: I would love to have been at Inverness but they're not allowing anybody out there. I will be getting out there probably the week after when I am allowed out there.
Q. Michelle, I just wanted to know kind of what your mentality is going into a Solheim year, having a team that has come off of a loss, and how much more important you feel your role may be, or maybe it's not different at all.
MICHELLE WIE WEST: I thinkâ€‘â€‘ I think even though we lost last year, we had such a strong team. I think both sides played so well. It's not like we lost the Solheim, it's more so Suzann made the putt and won the Solheim. Both sides just showed such amazing golf, and I have so much faith in our team and so much confidence after watching our team play last year, and all the rookies did so amazing. You expect the rookies to play and to go over there, especially in Europe, and to have a little bit of a struggle just because you don't get the support that you get from being on the home team, and it's tough. It's tough being over there in conditions that aren't great and fans that aren't supporting you. But all of our rookies last year did so amazing.
The rookies that look like they might make the team this year, they're playing such strong golf. I won't speak for Pat, but I personally have a lot of confidence in our team, and whichever direction Pat wants to go with the picks and all of that, I'm just going to really rely on her and her leadership and really just help with assisting with it.
Q. Michelle, this is our first chance to speak after Makenna was born, so congratulations.
MICHELLE WIE WEST: Thank you.
Q. I wanted to talk a little bit about your shifting priorities now as a new mom. You're trying to get back out and play; you're doing some television work and doing a remarkable job there. Can you talk about all the different things you're doing now and how you prioritize all of that?
MICHELLE WIE WEST: I mean, Makenna is definitely my number one priority no matter what now. Playing is my second priority now, and TV is kind of a fun thing I like to do on the side, and probably my third and last priority. But definitely my priorities have shifted. I see the world in a completely different light now and a completely different view, perspective, and it's insane how that happens overnight.
Right now practicing is only happening in between her feedings. I kind of like try to schedule is out, and that's something that I would never haveâ€‘â€‘ obviously never have done before, and it's just crazy to think what I have to think about now before I need to go practice.
So yeah, definitely she's my number one priority now and forever.
Q. I'm curious, how do you think your experience playing in the Solheim Cup will sort of help in your preparation for being an assistant captain?
MICHELLE WIE WEST: I think because it's so fresh to me, hopefully I can help the rookies a lot by making them feel comfortable. I kind of am pulling from the experience that I've had having Pat as my pod mom. We called her "pod mom" because she really was like a mom to us, just really nurturing and some of the stuff that we need when we're out there because we're so nervous, we're in uncomfortable situations all the time. It's not something that's extremely comfortable for us coming from tournament play where we only think about ourselves or we have to think about our teammates.
A team I consider as family, and just really rely on the experience that I've had with Pat as our pod mom. Hopefully I can do the same, and definitely going to be pulling from those experiences.
But I think being on the younger side for being an assistant captain and being still playing a lot, I'm hoping that I can relate to the players a lot, the younger players, the older players, because I've experienced it all, the highs and the lows of Solheim, playing well in a Solheim, playing bad in a Solheim, feeling very comfortable and confident going into a Solheim to feeling very uncomfortable going to a Solheim.
I think I've experienced a lot of it, so whatever our players are going to be experiencing, hopefully I can guide them and use my experiences to help them.
Q. Michelle, how can you with a newborn look more refreshed than most of us scribes? It makes no sense to me.
MICHELLE WIE WEST: It's concealer and coffee, the two C's.
Q. Very impressed. I wanted to ask you, when Tiger signed up, wanted to be an assistant captain, he said it was because he was really worried that he would never play again. He was looking at this as the segue to the nextâ€‘â€‘ his next act. We don't get that sense that that's your motivation at all. What do you have left to prove by playing again?
MICHELLE WIE WEST: I think thatâ€‘â€‘ I mean, I just wantâ€‘â€‘ I've said this before in interviews. I just want that experience of her, of Makenna watching me play and hopefully watching me come down the stretch and win a golf tournament. That would just mean everything to me because I want her to grow up and be a strong woman and all the things that I value, and hopefully whatever she values. But I think being a good role model to my daughter is really important to me, and showcasing being a strong athlete, being a woman athlete, being on the LPGA Tour, and for her seeing it in person I think is very different from her seeing it on YouTube or news articles, and I think that's something that Tiger got to experience with the Masters, his son watching it live.
So that's definitely something that I aspire to do, and that's kind of the reason why I want to come back and play now. I guess my perspective has kind of shifted with that.
But yeah, I mean, regards to being assistant captain, I justâ€‘â€‘ especially because Pat is captain, I just really wanted to be assistant captain under her and have that honor, and obviously in the future sometime down the road being captain, as well, too, would be a huge honor, so for me to have this experience to learn from the very best is just so great.
Q. I'm just curious, we've been living in really weird times, and I know you and I have talked about this before, but are you leaning into that leadership role already? Are younger players coming to you for advice on how to deal with this challenging season and this kind of weird season that it's been thus far, especially with play coming up? I'm curious if you've already started to lean into that role as a leader when it comes to mentoring these younger players, kind of giving them advice on how to navigate these times.
MICHELLE WIE WEST: I mean, I wouldn't say people are coming to me for advice, but I think we have a really great support system on our Tour and all of our friends. We have group chats going on and all of that. It's just a good support system. I think we come to each other for advice.
It's a weird time. You know, if we can't lean on our friends or if we can't lean on our family, it gets extremely hard. I'm extremely grateful that I have friends I can lean on and then hopefully I can be someone that my friends can lean on, as well.
But in regards to a leadership role, I think coming down the stretch, coming down next year hopefully when I come out to tournaments and I can see players, I just really want to help the rookies and people that feel uncomfortable, I want to be that role that Pat was to me of making players feel comfortable. I think comfortable players and relaxed players make good golf and make for a fun time, and that's what we're here for, good culture and the fire to win.
Q. Tell me this: I was going to ask you first about match play and stroke play; as a child you played a lot of match play, didn't you, with your father's friends; which do you prefer?
MICHELLE WIE WEST: I kind of like match play, to be honest, just because I love going headâ€‘toâ€‘head against someone, and I just love theâ€‘â€‘ it feels really competitive. I love stroke play, as well, too, but there's a lot of things that you can't control, like you have to worry about 144 other players. But match play, it's really oneâ€‘onâ€‘one, and it really gets you into sort of like a certain mindset, and I think that's what I love about Solheim so much is all week it's match play and such intense match play. I've really grown to love team matches and alternateâ€‘shot a lot. That's something that a format that I haven't played growing up and that's a format that I first learned how to play during Solheim, and it's so much fun, I just love it.
Q. Will you be bringing your artistic bent to bear? You're always thinking of braids for hair and bracelets and goodnessâ€‘knowsâ€‘what, and if you're wanting to make players feel relaxedâ€‘â€‘
MICHELLE WIE WEST: Yeah, I know we've gotten ragged on before for the stickers on our faces and the bows in our hair, but I think that's a way to have fun. That's a way to express yourself. I've always done it with my shoes, with Nike. Coming up with that process, making the Solheim Cup is such a huge honor, it's something you look forward to for two years, and I think it's so much fun to have fun with it, to have the decorative ribbons in your hair if you want to or have stickers on your faces, have really fun shoes. That's all up to the players. Some players are different. Some players love to do that, some players don't.
But I've always loved to express myself in creative ways and just really celebrate the fact that you've made the team, celebrate the fact that you're there that week representing your country. It's such a huge honor to be even there that I think having fun with it and really being grateful and supportive of your teammates and just having fun is really important.
Q. Michelle, could you update us just on how your hand and wrist is doing, whether you're still undergoing treatment? And if it weren't for the pandemic and Makenna was ready, could you actually play this month?
MICHELLE WIE WEST: That's a really hard question to answer because I don'tâ€‘â€‘ I mean, it's a lot of whatâ€‘ifs. But my hands feel pretty good. I'm always wary of answering that question when I actually do feel good because I feel like something happens right afterwards, so knock on every single piece of furniture that's wood, I feel pretty good. The third trimester was definitely rough because everything was swelling and it was really flaring up my hands, so it was getting me a little bit worried, but literally right after I had her, everything kind of felt normal again.
Definitely still doing treatment whereas just trying to get stronger, but with the pandemic, I was working with a physical therapist before, but since the pandemic and the quarantine I haven't been able to see anyone or work with anyone, so it's been really a lot of single treatments and doing stuff on my own.
But with balls that I'm hitting right now, it feels really good. I don't think I'll ever be able to like go out and hit balls for 10 hours now in a row, but if I'm smart about it and listen to my body, it feels pretty good.
Q. What are you thinking for a return? What will determine it?
MICHELLE WIE WEST: I'm not sure. I mean, I would love to play something this year. It just would have to depend on if it's safe for Kenna to travel or not. It just really depends on the state of the world right now because her health comes first, and even if I feel ready to play but it's not really safe for her to travel, then unfortunately we have to stay home. It's not a situation where I can just leave her and go by myself.
Q. Just a followâ€‘up when you were talking about practicing in between feedings. I'm just trying to think of the scheduling of that and how much she must have changed how you view practice, and I'm wondering if she's made you more efficient and if she'sâ€‘â€‘ how else she's really changed how you look at practice.
MICHELLE WIE WEST: For sure. My parents are here right now, so it's been really nice. We've been taking like full advantage of it. So the other day we went out and played 18, which I haven't done in a long time. I had to pump after nine holes (laughing), but it's just taking full advantage of being out of the house right now, being able to practice, sometimes leaving her just with my parents for a couple hours. But yeah, whenever I take her on the range, I have to like time it perfectly like right after feeding we'll head out straight to the car, go to the range and then time it like right before she has to feed again we come back home so I can feed her at home. Definitely making a lot of things more efficient, really keeping things on schedule.
I've been a pretty schedule oriented person before, but now I'm like a schedule nazi. But then just with everything, it's just herâ€‘â€‘ she comes first, and even when she's on the range, I hit like two balls and then I go and check what she's doing, hit two balls, check what she's doing. So my mind is never fully on golf, it's always like 70 percent her and 30 percent being out and being able to hit balls.
But I'm just really lucky that I thankfully had a very uncomplicated birth so body feels pretty good, and I go up to my sixâ€‘week checkup in a week or so, so hopefully I'll get cleared to do even more things. But yeah, just very grateful for everything.
Q. Michelle, if there was ever a time to have a pandemic and the Golden State Warriors not very good, was that the silver lining for you, that Jonny has been able to be home a lot more than he normally would be?
MICHELLE WIE WEST: Oh, yeah, this is amazing. It definitely was a good thing. One positive thing that happened, there was a scenario where if they want to Orlando in the bubble and I was home by myself, I was quarantined, my parents couldn't come, I could have been a single mother for a couple months all by myself, and that was a scary thought.
You know, but thankfully he's home probably until December now, and all the work that he's doing, he's not even going to the office because they're not able to. So all the work that he's doing he's doing on Zoom, and he's home all day, which has been incredible.
Q. Obviously Drive On Championship is going to Inverness in 10 days now. I'm curious what can you learn from that setup, especially now looking through the lens of an assistant captain?
MICHELLE WIE WEST: When we found out that they were going to play Inverness, we were all very excited because you never really get an opportunity to watch players play in a competitive state on the golf course where you're going to have a Solheim. I mean, I don't know if that's really ever happened. I mean, I think that happened in Ireland at Killeen Castle they had that tournament, but besides that, to have a home course where you know that most of all the American girls are going to play, it's going to be really interesting to see how they play, and that's definitely going to be something that we look closely at.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you so much. Pat, this was a great decision. We're really excited to have Michelle on Team USA. Michelle, welcome to Team USA as an assistant captain. It's going to be an exciting next year and a half while we get ready to take the Solheim Cup back to Toledo. Thank you very much for joining the call.
A reminder this is embargoed until 9:00 a.m. eastern tomorrow. I will send around the transcript.
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