LPGA MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 21, 2020
Solheim Cup Press Conference
KELLY SCHULTZ: Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you so much for joining us for our Tee It Up Toledo event as we count down one year to Solheim Cup 2021. I'm Kelly Schultz, vice president of communications for the LPGA, and really so pleased to be joined today by four women who are going to have a huge role in next year's Solheim Cup, and that is U.S. Solheim Cup captain Pat Hurst, assistant U.S. Solheim Cup captain Angela Stanford, European Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew, and vice Solheim Cup captain Suzann Pettersen. Thank you, ladies, so much for joining us here today.
At a time when we don't have a lot of fans, can't really have fans on-site, I think everybody is dreaming of what the crowds and all the noise and all the fun that we have at Solheim Cup and getting really excited to be thinking about that.
Pat, I'm going to start with you first. Just a little bit about your thoughts on being one year out from Solheim Cup 2021 and what is the excitement level like for you, and then Angela, as you start thinking about what it will be like to be at Inverness.
PAT HURST: Yeah, I went out to ANA not last week but the week before, and it's kind of getting the juices flowing, getting excited, seeing the girls that I don't really know and seeing what type of players they are. That's really exciting for me, and I think a lot of the girls enjoy Angela and I both being out there.
KELLY SCHULTZ: Angela, what are the feelings like for you as you're getting excited for Toledo?
ANGELA STANFORD: Well, you know, I think having the Drive On event at Inverness was pretty cool. I had never seen that golf course, so to get to be there and then see Pat there, just to get to see the course and see the layout and get to talk to Dennis and Becky and see everything that they're doing to make the event amazing, you know, I think it's going to be pretty awesome. So I'm excited.
It's been fun talking to the girls out on Tour. Yeah, I think everybody is really excited.
KELLY SCHULTZ: Catriona, you're getting ready for your second stint as European Solheim Cup captain, victorious at home in Scotland. What are the feelings like now for you as you look ahead to Toledo next year?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, I must say I'm really looking forward to it. A real shame I couldn't come out to Toledo this year and see it with everything that's going on, but obviously been watching. Now that golf has started, been watching, and I watched a lot of the Inverness event on television and the course looked amazing. Can't wait to get there and see it in real life.
Just talking to some of the players at the Scottish and the British, they all seemed to love the golf course and think it's going to be a fantastic event there when we do get there. It's just nice to see them out playing and you can watch and see how people are playing and different things. So yeah, the excitement is definitely building.
KELLY SCHULTZ: Suzann, the last time we were at the Solheim Cup, the last memory of it is you sinking that last putt to win it for Team Europe, and now you're returning in a vice captain role. How excited are you to still be a part of this team in 2021 for Europe, and what do you think it will be like moving into that vice captain role which you held in 2017, as well, in Des Moines?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, obviously I'm very happy to still be kind of a part of the European team. This next time will be in a different role for me completely. In '17 I prepared to play, kind of slotted in last minute, and then in 2019 I was kind of vice captain and then subbed in as a player last minute.
This time around I'm going to assist Beany all the way through. Just really excited. Really happy to see all the girls out competing again, follow them, and just fun also to see a lot of the new Europeans kind of playing well and showing their faces.
A lot can happen in a year's time, but I think it's a nice reminder that we're one year out, and I think Inverness from what I've heard is going to be a massive event. Really excited to go there in a year's time.
Q. To both Beany and Suzann, I want to ask you to comment on a couple of players, Sophia Popov and Mel Reid, both of whom have been in the news and made a tremendous impact on Tour here recently.
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, obviously Sophia Popov, a player I don't really know, to be honest, but obviously just from hearing her story and reading it all, obviously she was a fantastic college player. I think she was First-Team all-American for four years at college, and then obviously struggled with the lyme disease, which kind of knocked her career off.
But obviously I played at Troon and watched a lot of it, and I think to win from the front and to win -- I think she was leading for three rounds, just shows that you've got the temperament, I think.
Very impressed by her, and obviously another solid week here in Portland, so really excited about her, actually.
Mel, yeah, I think she's just coming into some good form. Obviously just missed out probably last year in the team, and she was a fantastic vice captain and really, really helped the team. But I know just from speaking to her that she'd much rather be playing. It was great to see her up there in Portland and competing for a title.
Q. Angela, you were just here in Toledo obviously a little over a month ago. What did you think of Inverness as a Solheim Cup course and the layout and the way fans will be able to flow around there and everything? What was your impression of the course from that perspective?
ANGELA STANFORD: I think it's going to be tremendous for a Solheim Cup. I think there's so many things setup-wise that we can do with it. I say we, not knowing who's truly in charge of that, but whoever is in charge of the setup. I think there's so many things that you can do with it.
I thought it was going to be a great match play golf course, and I think the fans are going to love it because there are a few holes that it almost works as an amphitheater kind of style where you can have fans sitting on hills and -- I'm not sure how many bleachers they're going to have out there. They may not need as many as they have in the past because the way the course lays out, there are a lot of places fans could get to see a lot of golf in one spot.
I think it's going to be a tremendous Solheim Cup. Course-wise, I think the fans are going to love it, and speaking of Toledo, it just loves golf. They've always welcomed us for the Marathon, and I just can't wait to see them and to bring the Solheim Cup event to their city, their backyard. I think they're going to come out and they're going to love it, and it's going to be a great week.
Q. For anyone who wants to jump in, with the Ryder Cup and the Solheim Cup being so close together in time and location, how do you think you might be able to play off the synergy of the course for the next year and the buildup?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, I think it's great that we're going to be -- I think we're three weeks before the Ryder Cup next year. I mean, obviously there's going to be great buildup for both of the events. Obviously Toledo have done a huge amount already in getting ready for the Solheim Cup. The Solheim Cup is kind of a standalone event now. It's got so much bigger probably in the last 20 years. And I think -- I mean, there's probably a crossover of fans, but it is different fans, as well.
Yeah, I think they can both kind of work from each other and maybe gain a little from each of the events.
Q. Is there anything you think you could do uniquely that maybe you haven't been able to do before because of that?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: I don't know. That's perhaps more for the actual tournament organizers of the Solheim Cup and the Ryder Cup. With it being three weeks apart, the players are going to be in different parts of the world more than likely, so player-wise I don't think you'll be seeing anything, but perhaps the organizers, that's probably more a question for them perhaps.
Q. Catriona, obviously Georgia Hall had a good win at the weekend. How much confidence is Georgia going to take from that, and how hard has it been for her having won that first major and then trying to back that up? It's never easy sometimes, is it?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: No, it's never easy. I think she perhaps struggled a little bit last year just from the pressure of defending and then it was going to be defending near her home, and big crowds and things. I think once you get over that -- she had a tremendous Solheim Cup again, played fantastically well with Celine. I think getting her first win on American soil will do wonders for her confidence. I think just to win at the highest level obviously helps your confidence, and golf as we know is all about confidence. I think that's a fantastic win for her, and hopefully she'll just go from strength to strength now, obviously still with the U.S. Open to come this year with the strange schedule, so some big events still to come.
Q. Can I ask Suzann, the winning putt was just over a year ago. I've seen that umpteen times. Do you still sort of occasionally watch that to get a nice sense of enjoyment?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, I don't necessarily pull it up unless it kind of falls right in front of me on social media, but it's obviously a great memory that will go with me forever. Some of those memories last a lifetime, and I was just very fortunate and lucky to be part of such a great team.
I would like just to comment on Georgia. I think it's hard to win at this level any week. She's proved she can now win a major, and I think for her to win last week in Portland gives her a huge confidence boost and kind of gives her the little push that I think she needs. I don't think she quite gives herself the credit she deserves, but she's a great player.
I was really impressed when I saw her play in 2017 and was not surprised seeing her win the Women's British Open in 2018.
You know what, the European team had a great one last year, and it will be fun to see who's going to make it next year.
KELLY SCHULTZ: Suzann, on that putt, for all of our media friends, tonight for those of you that didn't get a chance to catch it when it was on network TV, but Suzann's final putt story that was put together will be airing for the first time on the LPGA's Facebook page. Suzann, if you haven't had a chance to watch it, you can watch it again and all of the fun stories in watching that putt again, but really kind of a great way for us to celebrate and talk through remembering that moment and looking back on the 2019 Solheim Cup.
Q. I wanted to ask Pat, we're a year out now, and as we're talking about various players, when do you really start paying attention to how people are playing and what kind of streaks and start looking at stats and even talking to players?
PAT HURST: We start talking to them quite early, but looking at the stats and trying to figure out who we're going to pick, we have two picks as of right now, and we don't really start looking at the stats until later on, probably a couple months out, just because things change a lot next year. The year of Solheim, the points, they're not doubled but almost doubled, so it makes a big difference.
If you start thinking about, oh, your picks or what have you, you're going to get lost. I mean, we've done it with Juli before where we thought we had the -- who was going to be on the team, and next thing you know here comes Sunday, last day of the event before our picks and it just changes everything.
We're going to hold off looking at the stats. I'm just trying to get out there and watch a player, see what type of personalities they are. We're going to do the pod system again, so they're going to have to fit into the pods. We'll know probably seven, eight players that are going to be on the team with the points when it gets down to the last couple weeks, and so you've really got to look at the girls who are going to fit into those pods that are kind of already made up.
Q. Pat, this might be a dumb question, so I apologize in advance, but with all the things going on with COVID, the fewer number of tournaments, so many question marks, is it possible for you to add to your picks so that you have more than you currently have?
PAT HURST: I would love to. I think maybe we can propose that just because of what's going on, but time will only tell if they're going to change that for us.
Q. So you haven't asked but you could?
PAT HURST: We've kind of -- we've talked about it. Whether Dennis has asked or not, I don't know. I mean, I'm not in those conversations, but I've talked to Dennis about the points and about maybe changing the points. It sounds like they don't want to change the points. Maybe we can do more picks. But until it's done, I really don't know. I'm not in those conversations that he has with others.
Q. Just to follow up, how many captain's picks would be your ideal, given everything going on right now?
PAT HURST: Well, definitely more than two, so I mean, I think four would be great. I don't know if we'll get that. Who knows. I mean, like I said, I'm hoping for four, but I don't know what the talks are -- what they are saying in the talks right now. Let's keep our fingers crossed and see if we can get four.
KELLY SCHULTZ: I know you've both had a chance to walk through Inverness together the week after the LPGA Drive On Championship and sort of get to know the venue a little bit. What did you guys take from watching some of the American players at the LPGA Drive On Championship and what did you get from your site visit that makes you feel like this might be a really good venue for the American team?
PAT HURST: Well, I actually wasn't at the Drive On event. I just went, so I didn't get to watch any of the girls in tournament competition. Angela and I went out after she had played the event, the Drive On event, and just kind of mapped the golf course. We were just looking -- it was basically a site visit where we were looking at the locker rooms, we were looking at how they're going to do the first tee and 10th tee. It's more the little things that we were looking at and kind of getting familiar with.
The golf course, you know, I talked to some of the players, and they were pretty pleased overall with the course setup. The girls definitely got all different types of weather that week, so they had a lot of comments on the golf course. Some were -- most of them were real favorable. Some of the course setup maybe we can do a little bit different. But we'll see with that.
KELLY SCHULTZ: Angela, what were some of your thoughts that you had as you and Pat walked around and got to talk about things together?
ANGELA STANFORD: I think everything that Pat just said. I think that the good part of that week was in the beginning it played firm and fast, and then when some rain came in, it was soft towards the weekend. I thought that was really good, that most of the -- that everybody that played the event got to see it played a couple different ways, a couple different wind directions so that was really good. So all the feedback that we've gotten has been at least there were different playing conditions.
But I think that Pat has some great ideas about the course setup, and I think there are some holes that can be -- that we could set up in a way that's going to be extremely exciting for match play.
Q. Suzann and Catriona, when do you think you'll be able to see Inverness?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Who knows. Obviously not this year, so then you're looking at perhaps late spring next year. Obviously they get pretty cold winters up there, so I think we just need to wait and see how the virus progresses this winter. Hopefully probably kind of late spring next year we'll have a chance to get a look at it.
Q. From your perspective in terms of four picks, how big is that or was that for you when you went to that, and what are your thoughts --
CATRIONA MATTHEW: We actually have changed our qualification for this year because of the kind of impact on the schedule this year, so we've actually changed it to two from the LET points, four World Rankings and six picks. We just changed -- we just felt with the players not playing as much and the whole kind of all the schedules being up in the air that it was just nice to do that and give you a bit more options and what you might do going forward next year.
Q. Pat and Catriona, as keen observers of golf, what do you make of what Bryson DeChambeau has done, and do you see perhaps women going down the same route in terms of everything Bryson is trying to bring to the table?
PAT HURST: Hell, I've tried to gain that weight and be a little bit longer. I don't think it helped me. Now I'm trying to lose the weight.
CATRIONA MATTHEW: I think you can just see that in the golfers now that they are -- even the women are more athletic, they're working out more, trying to get stronger. Obviously as women we just can't put on that muscle mass that Bryson has. But definitely I think the players are getting stronger. On the ladies' Tour, everyone is hitting it further. Obviously it's just not quite the same extreme as the men are doing. But yeah, I mean, everyone is just trying to get that little edge that might just take them to the next level.
I'm sure a lot of the women will be watching Bryson and heading into the gym and trying to put on a little bit more muscle.
PAT HURST: I have to say that golfers are definitely more athletic now than they were even 10 years ago, so he's changing a lot, and I think everybody is watching it and they want to be -- I mean, he just won the U.S. Open. Everybody wants to be like the top player.
Q. Talking about a year ago you making the putt, you also surprised us all a year ago with your announced retirement. Do you miss it?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: You know, I miss the structure, the everyday structure I really miss, waking up always knowing what's on the schedule to do. I miss the girls. I miss being out on Tour like with all -- with like the Tour, traveling from week to week. You kind of miss that bus.
The one thing I'm not missing is the frustration and the sleepless nights trying to figure out how to play this game, and waking up not feeling guilty or bad that you haven't done enough or kind of -- but I do miss like the feeling of being ready, when you've felt the best and couldn't wait to go to the first tee and tee it up.
But my life is in a different spot now, and I must say the sleep I get at night now feels a lot better than all the frustration I had over 20 years.
Q. Angela, you're still out competing every week. Are you getting a lot of conversations from people who are talking about Solheim Cup?
ANGELA STANFORD: Oh, yeah. I think the fact, again, that we had the opportunity to play Inverness for the Drive On event was huge. I don't ever recall a Solheim Cup venue being played beforehand in a tournament before 2000. I don't think that actually spurred more conversation than ever. I think the girls loved it. I think they loved seeing it in a tournament environment before. So yeah, I think people are already excited and talking about it.
Q. I was wondering if Angela and Catriona could talk about what sorts of things you learn by playing in events with women leading up to a Solheim Cup that you otherwise probably wouldn't have learned.
CATRIONA MATTHEW: I think perhaps you just get to see kind of how the course is playing when you're there and playing it yourself. Sometimes if you're just looking at scores on a computer or watching on television, you don't get good appreciation for perhaps how difficult or how easy a course is playing. And I think you get to see how the players react under pressure, obviously, suddenly if they're paired with myself or Angela who might have a bit of influence on whether they get a pick or not, it puts that pressure on, and that's what you want to put them under. You want to put them under that pressure because there's no more pressure than there is playing in a Solheim. I think it's good to see how they react in tournament conditions.
ANGELA STANFORD: I loved seeing Pat at ANA this year. Obviously she was in between holes and caught me on one of the holes, and I got all those nervous feelings again, like this is so cool. That was fun seeing Pat out there and I know the girls loved it.
For me now being on a different side of this, you know, I know where I've made my mistakes in the past, and I know that it's made a world of differences. Like Catriona said, when you get out there on the course and things don't go their way, and just their overall attitude, and I think so far some of my conversations with Pat have been, I like this player's attitude or -- and that's something that has been fun for me because as all of us know when you're playing and you're trying to make a team, you're really just thinking about yourself and you're just trying to do everything you can to play better for the team.
I've truly enjoyed working with Pat and helping and having those conversations so far, so yeah, I'm really excited going into next year.
Q. Catriona, it's often said that the picks are the most stressful part of the captaincy. When you have six, you have more control, on the one hand, but is your anxiety level going up on the other hand with all of that?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Well, we'll find out next year, won't we.
No, I mean, I think obviously the last time we had four picks, and I think you're kind of probably three-quarters of your picks are fairly obvious. It's probably just the last one or two that you have a little bit more stress over, and it's between -- even perhaps just the last pick it comes down to one player or another. That's when it's fun having discussions with the vice captains and seeing what everyone thinks.
Yeah, at the end of the day it comes down to kind of your gut feeling on that last pick and just how that person perhaps fits in to the team and whether you're looking for maybe experience or you know you've not got many rookies so a rookie would be a good pick.
Yeah, it's just different things. I think having the six, as I say, I think at least four of them will be pretty straightforward and perhaps the last two will require a little bit more thought.
Q. I think you'll have a lot of lobbying probably.
CATRIONA MATTHEW: You never know.
KELLY SCHULTZ: I want to first off thank all four women so much for joining us today and talking with the media. I think this is the most global Zoom call we've had yet with Norway, Scotland, Texas and California all represented on this call, and I know you ladies are all going to go take part in the big event that we're having with the Toledo audience this afternoon, and I know we're all disappointed we can't be there in person in Toledo today to celebrate with that group because the entire community is just so thrilled to have this event coming. You've all been a part of our LPGA event there for so many years, and I know the Toledo audience is so excited.
To the media group if you want, Suzann, Catriona, Angela and Pat will all be taking part in a Q & A as part of the Tee It Up Toledo event that's going to be shown live on Facebook, and I think if you go to the Solheim Cup website you can click on some links to go see that. Thank you everyone so much for taking part today, best of luck and looking forward to a really exciting year as we get ready for the 2021 Solheim Cup. Thanks, everyone.
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