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July 22, 2014
OWINGS MILLS, MARYLAND
KRAIG KANN:¬† All right, everybody, thanks for being with us in the media center at the International Crown here at Caves Valley.¬† It's a great pleasure to have two members of Team USA, the No. 1 overall seed in the first ever International Crown.¬† To my far left 10‑time LPGA winner, Paula Creamer, and to my immediate left, the current No. 1 ranked player in women's golf, 11‑time LPGA winner, Stacy Lewis.
Before we take questions from the audience, and I'm sure they're going to have a few for y'all, I want to get your first impression on this event.¬† Both of you have played in Solheim Cup competition, both of you have won Major championships and been a part of things big.¬† This has been building for the better part of a year and a half.¬† What are your thoughts?¬† Let me start with you, Paula, first.
PAULA CREAMER:¬† I think it's great.¬† I truly think that it's going to be an event that everybody's going to want to try and get into, all the other different countries that aren't here this week.¬† It's exciting.¬† Being able to be on a team of just four players is a little bit different than what we're used to with Solheim Cup, but whenever you get opportunity to represent your country and play match play and just play a different style of golf, it's always fun.¬† A lot of the girls are having a week off, but I would so much rather be here representing our country and playing this great golf course.
KRAIG KANN:¬† First impressions for you, Stacy when you showed up here this week?
STACY LEWIS:¬† Yeah, this event, it's got a little bit different feel to it than say a Solheim Cup.¬† Just having all the other countries, and obviously a lot more players.¬† So it's got a little bit different feel.¬† But it's cool.¬† I think it's really great.¬† It's something we needed for a long time.
Getting the Asian players involved, they have more than deserved an event like this.¬† So I'm interested to see how it all plays out, how the pairings come out. ¬†And I don't know, I think we're all just kind of itching to get started.
KRAIG KANN:¬† Let me ask you about the dynamic you just talked about, Paula, the four versus 12.¬† Tell me a couple of reasons why that is so different or feels so different.
PAULA CREAMER:¬† Well, there's just four of us.
STACY LEWIS:¬† Easier.
PAULA CREAMER:¬† We can all sit at a table together.¬† Not worry about who is sitting there, who is sitting there.¬† There is no captain.¬† We're all just a team together in that sense.¬† We make our own calls of what we're going to do.¬† Not saying its bad when we do have a captain, but it's just a little bit different dynamic in that sense.
We're kind of figuring that out, too.¬† And normally someone is telling us, Okay, you got to be doing this, this, this.¬† And that kind of thing.¬† We're all kind of doing that together now.
But it is, it's nice.¬† I've been fortunate and lucky enough I've played with every one of them in a match, the three girls.¬† So I have experienced match play with all three of them, which is kind of lucky for me.¬† But it is, it's kind of neat that we can just group together a little bit more and have that kind of advantage of knowing each other's personalities well on and off the golf course.
KRAIG KANN:¬† Stacy, Paula just said we're figuring that out.¬† Four players and making decisions and stuff.¬† Is that a challenge?
STACY LEWIS:¬† No, not really, actually.
PAULA CREAMER:¬† It's fun.
STACY LEWIS:¬† It's fun.¬† It's nice to have a say in who you're going to play with, but we were all really on the same page.¬† I think we all played so much golf together just at tournaments every week, we know each other's games.¬† So it was really pretty easy.¬† It's been fun, because we're all making plans to what we're going to do and talking about dinners and stuff like that.¬† So actually for us I think it's been more relaxed than say a Solheim Cup has been.
KRAIG KANN:¬† We're going to take some questions.¬† Last one from me before we start going around the room.¬† And that is, being No. 1 overall seed forever, and the Republic of Korea was in here just a little while ago and we talked about them being No. 1 forever, and then you all going on this magical run for the UnitedStates and taking the top seed.¬† Is that a good thing?¬† Does it add pressure or do you wish you could slide in as the No. 2, Stacy?
STACY LEWIS:¬† I think it's a great thing.¬† For me, I mean I don't think we would rather be any place else.¬† We all work hard and we all want to play our best.¬† I think everybody's goal on our team, everybody wants to get to No. 1 in the world, so why not be the No. 1 ranked team.
I like playing under pressure, I like when the spotlight's on me and the pressure's on.¬† So I think that's how all the girls feel.
KRAIG KANN:¬† Paula?
PAULA CREAMER:¬† Same.¬† I think we would be kind of bummed if we weren't the No. 1.¬† We did go on a really strong push there near the end of the criteria.¬† And being No. 1, obviously you have a little bit more, people are looking at you, but I think in a sense they're always going to, because we do have the experience of the team, of Solheim Cup.¬† Stacy made a great point yesterday with the European players, they're playing for Europe, now they're playing for their country, and it's a little bit different.¬† They have never been able to do that as professionals, and we have done that.
So I think that in that sense there's going to be a lot of people looking at how we kind of manage things.¬† It is best ball, so it's not as much thought process of alternate shot, but it's still, you got to find your partner and go out and get the job done.
KRAIG KANN:¬† Let's go around the room.
Q.¬† Stacy, I heard that you might have slightly turned your ankle in practice.¬† I was wondering what happened, how it's feeling, is it a factor at all?
STACY LEWIS:¬† Yeah, I rolled my ankle pretty good.¬† The sprinkler heads here are pretty deep.¬† They're down in the ground pretty far.¬† If you're walking around I would be careful.¬† But I'll be fine.¬† I'll be fine.¬† We got two more days before we play.¬† So it's all good.
Q.¬† Which ankle?
STACY LEWIS:¬† Right.
Q.¬† And did it happen this morning?
STACY LEWIS:¬† Yeah.¬† This morning.
PAULA CREAMER:¬† Between, what, 3 and 4.
STACY LEWIS:¬† Yeah, early in the round today and then by the end of the round it felt okay.
Q.¬† Have you had treatment?¬† Are you doing anything for it?
STACY LEWIS:¬† I got it wrapped up just to get a little bit more stable and I'll get some treatment on it today and tomorrow.¬† But it will be fine.¬† It's not an issue.¬† If anything it's helping me stay down and not jump in front of the ball, which I've been trying to work on for two weeks, so maybe it's a good thing.
Q.¬† There's been a lot of talk here about playing for your country, etcetera, and the first Olympic rankings came out and you're on the top of that.¬† Paula, I'm sure you want to be higher up on there to get to Rio.¬† Can you talk about the excitement, is this kind of a build‑up for two years from now as well?
STACY LEWIS:¬† Yeah, I think that this is definitely probably the best preview we have ever had of the Olympics.¬† I know we got a long ways to go before Rio, those rankings are a little early.¬† I think a lot of the girls are focused on this event and Solheim Cup, those are your times to represent your country.¬† But this is certainly a really good preview to see what we're going to have in Rio.
Q.¬† What goes through your mind when you see you would be going to Rio, as if it were today?
STACY LEWIS:¬† It's a bit surreal.¬† To think that you could be a part of the opening ceremonies and the closing ceremonies, those kind of things that you see on TV, just to be a part of that and to stay with all the other athletes.¬† It's hard to really even imagine it, because obviously we never have been there.
But at the same time, you don't want to think about it too much because then you start putting too much pressure on yourself.¬† But it would be really cool to represent your country there.
Q.¬† Paula, could you follow‑up on that, too.
PAULA CREAMER:¬† The Olympics have always been one of my dreams.¬† Just watching it.¬† When I was a gymnast, obviously that didn't get me very far, but I would watch them and just the pressure, the amount of time, just within yourself and then representing your country on top of that.¬† I mean, the best of the best, and it would be a dream of mine to be able to play.
Like Stacy said, it is so far away, but at the same time you still kind of got to keep your eye on it.¬† You can't get too far out of the race for it to get in.¬† The criteria is pretty tough.¬† You want to be within the mix.¬† You don't ever want to feel like you need to push a little bit harder and focus too much on it.¬† But it is a big goal of mine to be on that team.
KRAIG KANN:¬† Stacy doubting Paula's gymnastic ability.
STACY LEWIS:¬† No, but she's a little tall for gymnastics.
PAULA CREAMER:¬† Probably a little too heavy, too.
STACY LEWIS:¬† She's got a pretty good cartwheel, though.
KRAIG KANN:¬† That's not an Olympic sport.
Q.¬† You talked about the advantages of being smaller, a group of four and not having a captain.¬† What are the disadvantages?¬† You got four pretty strong personalities.¬† You're going to disagree about something over the course of the weekend.
PAULA CREAMER:¬† I don't think we really have disagreed about anything.¬† I think just because we have been on a team and been in that team atmosphere, we kind of know.¬† If somebody doesn't agree with something, it's not like we're going to sit there and not say anything, but...
STACY LEWIS: ¬†We're all so comfortable with each other that if somebody says something that somebody disagrees with, we call them out on it.
PAULA CREAMER:¬† We say, No, you're wrong.¬† And on to the next.
STACY LEWIS:¬† I think our only disadvantage is that we have got so many good American players that aren't here, that are playing really good golf.¬† We almost wish it was a Solheim Cup, because we have so many players playing good right now.¬† But we're doing good.¬† We're having fun and it's been really cool.
PAULA CREAMER:¬† And it's only Tuesday.
Q.¬† First impressions of the golf course.¬† Have you played it before and how does it stack up?¬† This is a course that's predominantly a male club.¬† How does it work with when they setup a course like that for a LPGA tournament?¬† Is there a different feel to it or is it just a good hard, tough golf course?
PAULA CREAMER:¬† It's a great golf course.¬† It's hard.
STACY LEWIS:¬† Long.
PAULA CREAMER:¬† It's long.¬† Hitting a lot of long irons into holes.¬† The rough is pretty nasty if you get into it.¬† Especially around the greens, the chipping is difficult.¬† All in all it's a good golf course, but it is long.¬† It's playing long for us.
But I have played here.¬† I played in the Canon Cup here on Team West, and I played in match play as well.¬† I was on Team West, it was the west side.
So it was nice being able to come back to the course.¬† I don't remember all of the holes, we played it opposite, too.¬† But it is, it's a great test of golf.
STACY LEWIS:¬† This is my first time I've been here.¬† I played all 18 today and it's a great golf course.¬† It's long, they're not getting a lot of roll, so there's a lot of long irons into some of those par‑4s.¬† And a couple of the par‑5s are even pretty long.¬† So it's a ball‑striker's golf course.¬† It's who can carry it the furthest and stay out of the rough.¬† Because if you're coming into some of those greens out of the rough from 180 yards, it's not ideal.¬† So hopefully they kind of move some tees up and mess around with it a little bit and make it interesting throughout the week.
PAULA CREAMER:¬† The fairways are pretty generous, so there's really not too many times that you are hitting out of the rough.¬† But some of those holes, if you try to cut the corner a little bit and you pull it or tug it here or there, you're stuck into a difficult spot, because the greens are so undulated as well.
I think that reading the greens is something that we have been kind of working on a lot today and I'm sure tomorrow and in the pro‑am we're going to be looking at them, because they're very subtle breaks, but they're all over the place.
STACY LEWIS:¬† The greens have a ton of slope in them.¬† You got to hit it on the right side of the holes.¬† It's a hard golf course.
PAULA CREAMER:¬† I'm glad it's best ball.
STACY LEWIS:¬† Yeah, if it was alternate shot, it would not be very much fun.
Q.¬† Just a follow‑up.¬† Does it have a feel for like what you are used to playing on Major Championship weeks, U.S. Open or LPGA Championship or anything?
STACY LEWIS:¬† I think it's comparable to a Major Championship golf course for sure.¬† Yeah, I think you look at, we were even talking about courses that it reminded us of, and I saw a little bit of Oakmont in it, Rich Harvest, so, I mean it's definitely got that feel to it.¬† It's just so hard.
I think they're going to get the greens faster as the week goes on, so that's just going to make it even harder.¬† But I think that's to our advantage.¬† So we were asking the rules officials to speed up the greens.
Q.¬† Caroline was just in here right before and she said that she's got a mental advantage playing Americans on U.S. soil?
KRAIG KANN:¬† Caroline Hedwall.
Q.¬† And just wondering how are you guys able to use your Solheim Cup experience to get back at some of the other European teams.
PAULA CREAMER:¬† Well, I mean obviously she had an incredible record at the last Solheim Cup, but still it's not a one‑man show.¬† There's four players on a team.¬† She played well, we're never going to take that away from her.¬† It is a new tournament, a new golf course, a new week.¬† I think it's still going to be a challenge.¬† She's not going against one other team, she's going against seven others.¬† So that's a little bit different, too.
STACY LEWIS:¬† Good answer there.
PAULA CREAMER:¬† Thank you.
STACY LEWIS:¬† I think playing at home, I mean, I think we do have an advantage playing here.¬† I think that we'll have an advantage with the fans and things like that.¬† But with so many of the girls, they play on the LPGA, they're used to playing in the States and all that, so I think we'll try to use our home‑field advantage as best as we can.
Q.¬† For both of you, there seems to be a trend where every couple of years there's a young woman, a teenager essentially, who is breaking into LPGA tournaments and competing relatively well.¬† I mean, why does that happen in women's golf as opposed to not as frequently as other sports?
PAULA CREAMER:¬† Tennis is pretty young.¬† There's always a lot of young players there.¬† You're in tennis and you're putting your shoes up.
STACY LEWIS:¬† Retired.
PAULA CREAMER:¬† And 25 out here is a little bit different.¬† I think it just shows how good junior golf is, giving the kids opportunities.¬† I played on the AJGA for a long time, played amateur golf, Stacy went to college.¬† I think that it just shows that there are opportunities for women.¬† And sponsors exemptions, things like that, that you get to kind of see what life is like.
If I didn't play in my sponsors exemptions when I was 17 years old, I would have gone to college as well.¬† But it just is, it happens.¬† It happens in sports.¬† There's always going to be a new young person, it's always going to happen.¬† Records are meant to be broken, things like that.
STACY LEWIS:¬† I think a lot of it is the maturity level.¬† I think girls mature pretty young.¬† I didn't finish growing until I was almost 18, where some of these girls are done growing at 13 and 14.¬† So with the equipment we have now, 13‑ and 14‑year‑olds can hit it just as far as 20‑ and 30‑year‑olds.¬† I mean, that's just kind of the way the game of golf is now.
Then you look at where the girls are coming from as well.¬† You got Lydia out of New Zealand and Minjee out of Australia, they're getting the support of their government's and of their golf federations and that's huge.¬† Because financially, it's really hard to do it at a young age.¬† But if you have got that financial backing, you can go play in professional events, like Paula said, and have those opportunities.¬† Because that's how you work your way up, is just having those opportunities to play.¬† So a lot of it is timing and just being in the right place at the right time.
Q.¬† Follow‑up on that.¬† What will this event potentially do for countries around the world in growing women's golf?¬† Some of the players that were in earlier talked about a few of the players that didn't make it or their countries didn't qualify.¬† What would be your take on that?¬† Where could this event perhaps help?
STACY LEWIS:¬† Well, I think by the time we have this event again, I see China being here.¬† I think it's just going to reach so many countries globally that these golf federations are going to say, Well why aren't we there?¬† Why don't we have a team there?
So they're going to put money towards it, put money towards the girls that have the abilities, and because it's such a great exposure for their country, they're going to want to get them here.
KRAIG KANN:¬† Paula, that said, do you feel like you're part of a special era, the growth of the women's game specifically?
PAULA CREAMER:¬† Oh, yes.¬† When I first came out, I was 18 years old and I was a baby.¬† Now 18 is your ancient.¬† I'm 27 and people are asking me, Well, how much longer are you going to play for?
I'm thinking, Holly cow, I'm 27.¬† I'm not 57.¬† But it is, it's amazing how women's golf is growing.¬† It is true.
How old are you?
Q.¬† I'm 52.
PAULA CREAMER:¬† Well, see 57 is ancient, right?¬† I mean.
STACY LEWIS:¬† Let's stop there.
PAULA CREAMER:¬† Well, we'll move on.¬† But it is.¬† It's great to see.¬† I have a lot, even just in tournaments, girls following me when they come out when they're eight years old.¬† They're still doing it.¬† They're playing in a pro‑am out there.¬† They're getting opportunities through the First Tee, and in Arkansas, they have a great program there where the girls can go out and play in a Tuesday pro‑am.¬† And that would never have happened several years ago.
Q.¬† If I could follow‑up.¬† Is it good for a player that young to be on such a big stage that early in her career?
STACY LEWIS:¬† I don't know.¬† You can say it's good or it's not.¬† There's some good things about it, there's some bad things about it.¬† But most of the time when it happens, it's, those players are so good that if they go play anywhere else, they're not going to get any better.
I think that you have to be playing with the best competition for your abilities.¬† Some girls, they need to go to college and learn how to win there and then come out, and some of them, like you look at Lydia, she doesn't need to be playing in college or amateur golf.¬† She's ready to compete out here.
So you can't say whether it's good or it's bad, it's just, it's each situation on its own.
PAULA CREAMER:¬† I think a lot of it, too, people just look at the game, the golf part of it.¬† You have to also grow as a person as well.¬† And I think that your team that's around you, that's a huge part of it.¬† You see a lot of the young players, they have their parents out with them.¬† My parents are here this week, Stacy's parents are here.¬† Just learning how to grow as a person I think is hard when you're thrown into it at a young age, it's a difficult life.¬† You have to grow up incredibly fast.¬† But if the people around you support you, then it is your decision at the end of the day.
Q.¬† For both of you, before this American resurgence, South Korea was a dominant force in women's golf.¬† I'm curious how you view them?¬† An in a sense, did you view them as a team to beat long before this was even thought of?
STACY LEWIS:¬† I don't know.
Q.¬† Just because South Koreans were winning everything that you guys wanted to win, the U.S. Opens, got the No. 1 ranking.¬† So did you view them in a sense as a team to beat before this?
PAULA CREAMER:¬† No, I don't think so.
STACY LEWIS:¬† No, I mean, the media likes to clump everybody together based on where they're from, and as players, I don't think we do that.¬† I don't think we grouped Inbee and So Yeon Ryu and we said we want to beat the South Koreans.¬† We want to beat them individually and I don't think we ever grouped people together like that.
But I think in this competition, I mean, I think for us, I mean, I think they're a great team.¬† I don't care what the numbers say.¬† I think they're going to be a hard team to beat.
Q.¬† For Stacy, Yani was in here before talking about her struggles after being No. 1 in the world.¬† How difficult is it to hold the No. 1 ranking from the mental standpoint?¬† Do you think, given where you are in your career, you're much more equipped to handle it than you would have been if you had been 21 years old?
STACY LEWIS:¬† Yeah, I mean I couldn't imagine being No. 1 in the world at 20 or 21.¬† There's no way I would have ever been ready to handle everything that it entails.
But I think a lot of being No. 1 is the mindset that you have going into it.¬† If you see it as a burden and as pressure, then you're not going to enjoy it.¬† I worked so hard to get to No. 1, and it's where I want to be.¬† I generally want to be here and I'm excited to be here.
So I think if you have that mindset, you don't see it as a bad thing.¬† I mean, yeah, everybody's chasing me down every week.¬† You know, there's that pressure there, but I want to be here.¬† So I don't see it as a bad thing.¬† If anything, it makes you better.¬† It makes you learn how to handle pressure and learn how, because everybody's going to be firing at you and you got to just keep learning.
Q.¬† Follow‑up for either one of the players.¬† What have you seen of Yani's game the last couple of years?¬† What's the difference between the way she played when she was No. 1 and the way she plays now?
PAULA CREAMER:¬† I mean, I play with her a lot in the tournaments.¬† It's just her ball striking.¬† Her driver was one of her strengths.¬† She would just bomb it out there.¬† She's so long.¬† She plays like a guy.¬† She has a very strong game.¬† Her putting is actually really good.¬† She's been putting great.
It's obviously a confidence issue.¬† Playing the British Open two weeks ago Birkdale, where she won, I think a little bit of it is she played so well for so long and now she's kind of like, well, what's going on?
It's more of a confidence.¬† But she's going to get through it.¬† I know she will.¬† It's tough to watch her, because she's just, she changed our game.¬† She changed my game of how I looked at the game of golf and was such an influence on that.¬† Lorena did it, she did it.¬† But she's going to figure it out.¬† It's not far off, that's for sure.
STACY LEWIS:¬† I played with Yani a couple weeks ago and I think it was in Canada, and it was probably the best I had seen her play in a long time.¬† When she was No. 1 in the world, and I played with her a lot when she won a lot of tournaments, she had a swagger about her.¬† She had so much confidence and she knew she could drive it 300 yards right down the middle.
I think if she just gets that confidence back, the golf, the talent is still there.¬† That doesn't go away.¬† It's just that belief in yourself.
Q.¬† So speaking of match play, it seems like all the players are super stoked for the format.¬† Would you like to see the Olympics in future games go to a match play versus stroke play?
PAULA CREAMER:¬† We got to get there first.¬† We got to play one.¬† But, yeah, it is neat when you are on a team, you want to play a match and you want to go against another opponent and that kind of stuff.
But golf is an individual sport, and in a sense, too, we do go out every week and play four rounds, make a cut, and there's a winner at the end.¬† There aren't many match play tournaments.¬† I think that's why we do love it so much because we don't get to play it that often.
But I think the Olympics, obviously going to be a trial‑and‑error type thing, to see what works best.¬† But I don't know.
STACY LEWIS:¬† I think that match play's great for TV.¬† I think it's one of those things that draws some people in that maybe wouldn't normally watch.¬† I would just like to see the Olympics, after this first year, maybe go to some, just have a team format to it.¬† It's a 72‑hole stroke play event, which we have enough of those throughout the year.¬† I would just kind of like to see it differentiate itself from everything else.
KRAIG KANN:¬† Before we let you go.¬† Final thing.¬† On Sunday only one country will wear the crown as the first ever champions of this event.¬† Given Solheim Cup the last couple go rounds and given the great play of the Americans, how confident do you feel that you'll wear it?¬† What would it mean to walk away with it?¬† Paula, you first.
PAULA CREAMER:¬† Obviously we feel strong together as a team.¬† But it's different.¬† We have to take one day at a time, one match at a time.¬† We're kind of used to playing two matches a day and turning around and doing it again the next day.¬† This time it's just go out there, get your points and start over again the next day.
But there's no doubt that we want to wear that crown.¬† I mean, my goodness, that's what we are here for.
STACY LEWIS:¬† That's what we are here for.
PAULA CREAMER:¬† That's the No. 1 goal.¬† But we have a long way to go until we get there.¬† At this point every hole, every hole matters and you're going to have to take care of your business, and you know your partners behind you are going to be doing the same.
STACY LEWIS:¬† Like Paula said, we are here, we are here to win to wear the crown, I guess.¬† We wouldn't come for any other reason.¬† Obviously the Americans, we have been playing some good golf, but as we said, in match play, anything can happen.¬† So we're going to go out there and do our best and hopefully it comes together on Sunday.
KRAIG KANN:¬† Thailand, Spain, Chinese Taipei in the pool with the Americans.¬† Best of luck.¬† Thanks very much for coming in.¬† Paula Creamer, Stacy Lewis.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports