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July 23, 2014
OWINGS MILLS, MARYLAND
KRAIG KANN: Good morning. Thanks for being here at the International Crown. It is a great pleasure to welcome in four of the best players in the world who are competing this week in this competition. Representing both Pool B and Pool A, down to my far left, a nine‑time LPGA winner, former No. 1 in the world representing Japan is Ai Miyazato. Representing Sweden Rolex Rankings NO. 10, four‑time LPGA winner, Anna Nordqvist. From Pool A and representing Spain is Beatriz Recari, Rolex Rankings No. 36 and a three‑time LPGA winner. Representing Thailand is Onnarin Sattayabanphot, she is a member of the JLPGA competing here this week.
So thank you all for being here. Several questions I know you all will have some as well, so please raise your hand. We'll get to you in just a second. But I want to start with some overall thoughts and I'm going to make this really easy. I'm going to start at the end of the table down there and work our way this way. I want your overall impressions of this event, the microphone will definitely work for you, and get your kind of feelings on what you think about the International Crown to this point.
AI MIYAZATO: This is amazing tournament. I'm so excited to be here. Looking at the other players, all the great players that get to play this week, it's going to be really tough. But the Team Japan is in good shape and we're looking forward to playing this week. We're so eager to win this tournament, so we're just so ready.
KRAIG KANN: What was your first thought when you walked in, and kind of the team room or when you got your gear, tell us what was that like for you.
AI MIYAZATO: Well everything is amazing. It's kind of a new experience to me, because I can't play in Solheim Cup. I watch them many times in the Solheim Cup and I felt always that I wished I could be in there. So this is amazing feeling, representing my country, and seeing my country flag everywhere on this golf course makes me have goose bumps. So happy to be here.
KRAIG KANN: Anna, you played in the Solheim Cup, in fact you starred at the Solheim Cup. You made a hole‑in‑one at the Solheim Cup. What's this been like for you and representing Sweden and not just Europe?
ANNA NORDQVIST: It's been very exciting. I do get the honor to play in the Solheim Cup, but I feel very fortunate to be here this week. Asia has been such a dominant force these last couple years, so I'm very excited to have them included and have Australia and the rest of the great countries here.
I love playing team events, because there's nothing we do in a regular basis. It just brings that excitement and you have fun with your teammates and I just can't wait to go out there and play best ball for once.
KRAIG KANN: International competition this week and for you personally, you decided to fight off a little jet lag this week as well, coming internationally just to get here. What were you doing last week?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Back home in Sweden enjoying some time with my friends and family and maybe getting a little bit of Swedish spirit going. Eating a lot of Swedish Candie. So I'm fit for the fight.
KRAIG KANN: Beatriz, let's gets your thoughts on this. I know you played in Solheim Cup. How does this feel different and your thoughts?
BEATRIZ RECARI: Well, I hate to compare. Solheim Cup, I had the experience last week or last year, and it was such an amazing feeling and it was everything that I could have imagined and more. This week, it is different. You're representing your country, but it's just different. It's just another special week. It's the four of us. We have known each other for so long and we have competed as juniors, growing up. So even though we turned pro for many years, we didn't have this opportunity to represent our country on a professional level.
As soon as we came this week, it is like everything came back. We remembered how strong we were as a team and we can't wait to represent our country and our professional level.
KRAIG KANN: Your team, just perception, seems incredibly close. Is that a fair assessment?
BEATRIZ RECARI: It is. So you got to really watch out. We get really passionate. We feel our flag like, I mean like everything, our blood boils. So when we watch our flag and when we found out that we are first off tomorrow and the National Anthem is going to be played, we were like, Oh, please, let's not get emotional and start crying.
But that's how we feel about our country. So we can't wait to give our best and hopefully get the crown on Sunday.
KRAIG KANN: 32 events on the LPGA schedule, 33 if you count this, spread over 14 countries including Thailand. Onnarin, you don't play on the LPGA full‑time, but what are your thoughts on this event and being able to represent your country?
ONNARIN SATTAYABANPHOT: It's been awhile since I was in the States, so I'm really excited to come back here and play and represent my country and then have fun with my teammates again. I'm really looking forward to this week.
KRAIG KANN: Your team is getting a lot of attention, actually, a lot of people think that they could be a surprise team this week. When you got here and were able to spend time with your teammates, what has that been like for you?
ONNARIN SATTAYABANPHOT: Well, it's been really exciting. I haven't seen them for a long, long time, like maybe six years for Pornanong. So I'm excited to play with her tomorrow and then try to have fun.
KRAIG KANN: Questions? We have microphones so raise your hand. Before we start taking those, I do want to ask a little bit about the matchups and get your perspective on that. Early off tomorrow in Pool B Mamiko Higa and Mika Miyazato, Caroline Hedwall and Anna Nordqvist. So, Anna, I want to get your take on that matchup. Did you know that you were going to play with Caroline? Was that something that was a lock going in? Do you feel like you would play together more than just tomorrow or what's the dynamic there?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Well, I mean, me and Caroline, we played really well together at the Solheim Cup last year and we feel like that we didn't want to switch it up. We kind of feed off that momentum. I have known Caroline for many years. She's such a strong competitor and I can relate to myself a lot in her. I can trust in her game and she performs very well under pressure.
So it was kind of one of those pairings that I really enjoyed and I'm very happy that we're starting out like that tomorrow and then we'll see for the end of the week how it goes.
KRAIG KANN: Very strong pairing. Ai, you're with Sakura against Pernilla Lindberg and Mikaela Parmlid. I put you guys together down there so we could see if we got any rivalry between Japan and Sweden to kick things off. But what about that matchup for you and how did the pairings come about in your team room? Was it a long conversation or was it easy?
AI MIYAZATO: It was only a two‑minute conversation, I guess, because I know Sakura a long time, since when I was 10. It was just a natural feeling, I think. It was just so nice to be with Sakura and just no claim from her. And it's just, I don't know, nice to be with, as a team, with my best friends. So I think it's going to be fun.
KRAIG KANN: I think there will be a lot of eyes on the Pool A matchup tomorrow at 10 a.m. The Jutanugarn sisters competing against Belen Mozo and Beatriz Recari. How did you end up with Belen and is this something that might go on? Karrie Webb made a comment that she hopes to play with everybody, so give me your assessment on that matchup.
BEATRIZ RECARI: Well, I don't want to give too many insights because that's part of our strategy.
KRAIG KANN: Give me a few minutes.
BEATRIZ RECARI: Just give you enough information here. First of all, Carlota and I played so well in Solheim Cup, and then Belen and I get along so well, too. So we looked at each other and nodded and said, Yeah.
It's kind of like what Ai said, it just felt natural and it just fit perfectly the two pairs that we did for tomorrow. And I can't wait to play with her. It's been awhile, since junior events and we're going to have so much fun. We're so pumped up.
KRAIG KANN: The Jutanugarn sisters can bring some game to the first tee. Who is the captain in the Team Spain room, even though there is no captain?
BEATRIZ RECARI: No, there is no captain. We get along so well that we agree. The discussion was like who goes first or who gets paired with her. It goes in 10 seconds. We agree and we discuss everything. I never liked to have any kind of leader and feel like you have to follow in terms of like among players. We're four, we get along so well, and we discuss everything, and we just come to an agreement. So that's part of how, why we're so strong.
KRAIG KANN: Beatriz, you're teammates Carlota Ciganda and Azahara Munoz will take on Pornanong Phatlum and Onnarin Sattayabanphot. Let's talk about that matchup for you personally. Thailand and Spain, that's going to be quite a little battle. How do you feel about your pairing and were you going to play with Pornanong from the get‑go? Was that easy for you?
ONNARIN SATTAYABANPHOT: I think that should be pretty easy to play with Pornanong. Her game is pretty consistent and then I think I can go and be aggressive tomorrow.
KRAIG KANN: Help us with what your style of play is. There are a lot of folks that won't necessarily know what you bring and what your style of game is, because you're not a member of the LPGA full‑time. So what can they expect?
ONNARIN SATTAYABANPHOT: Well just come and watch tomorrow and you'll find out.
KRAIG KANN: I like that. No secrets. Okay. Let's take some questions.
Q. I wanted to ask about the Olympics. Do you see this as kind of a first step toward telling what the Olympics might be like in a couple years? What are your thoughts on the format? Would you like to see some sort of a team format in there as well as the individual?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Yeah, ever since Olympics or the golf got voted into the Olympics, it's been such an exciting process, just thinking about seeing yourself and working hard to compete, not only with the best golfers, but also seeing all the other athletes. I was definitely disappointed to not see any kind of team format in the Olympics. I think stroke play is fair, it brings out the best game in everyone. But when I watched the Olympics, a lot of things I relate to is seeing the team format and playing for your country.
But obviously very exciting to have a chance to play in the Olympics as a golfer, and I can only speak for myself, but I'm working very hard to be able to get the opportunity to represent Sweden in 2016.
KRAIG KANN: Ai Miyazato, your thoughts on the Olympics and a team competition or specifically how the International Crown might help everybody in leading up to Olympic golf.
AI MIYAZATO: Oh, yeah, of course. It's going to be a huge help with Team Japan, because the Olympics obviously it's really exciting about it. But this week it's going to be match play and we're so used to playing four days tournament. The match play, you might play 18 holes or you might play extra holes, so you have to be ready from the first tee, first shot.
So it's going to be really exciting this week. But for sure it's going to be a great experience for the Olympics this week.
BEATRIZ RECARI: I have to agree. Representing your country, every time you watch the Olympics every four years, or even the winter Olympics and you watch, and it's like, My God, you know, I really want to be there. And now that golf was voted in, it was a huge excitement.
This week I think it's only going to help, just to show what this tournament can bring to the Olympics, and probably maybe like you said, maybe include a team format. Because the Olympics is all about the team. I don't think it's so much about individuals, I think it's about in the end raising your flag for your country.
I'm really excited. It's only two years to go now. It's gone really quick since they voted it in and I think that this week is going to be a huge boost towards the Olympics.
ONNARIN SATTAYABANPHOT: I think that this week will really help get our team ready for the Olympics. The Olympics is a once‑in‑a‑lifetime experience, so I think this week will definitely help to get us prepared for the Olympics.
Q. Anna, to you, with experience of the Solheim Cup, only four players, no captain, Karrie Webb, who hasn't played in one, said that her and her teammates took 20 minutes to decide where to go to dinner on Monday. Have you guys found yourselves having indecision in determining strategy and how to put together teams so far, and what has that dynamic been with you guys discussing it?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Yeah, all four of us got together on Monday night for a dinner. Me, Pernilla, and Caroline have played since we were 15 or 16, I would say, so we know each other very well. Mikaela is a couple years older than us, but she might be the most experienced one. So it felt pretty natural to put me and Caroline together since we played a lot. I know that Pernilla and Mikaela will feed off each other very well.
So it's just such a fun format where there's no captains and for once you're kind of in charge. We talked a little bit about strategies and that, how to play match play. But I feel like all of us have played our fair share of matches growing up and over the years, so it's just very exciting to play better ball. If you make a double on a hole, you always get a new chance the next hole. So for us it's just very exciting. We had a great team spirit this week and we hope to be a strong competitor this week.
KRAIG KANN: The top seed in Pool B is the Republic of Korea. The top seed of Pool A is the UnitedStates. So given that neither of them are represented in this room, let's talk about them a little bit. Why not? Are they the absolute favorites? So let me get your perspective from Pool B and start with Japan, Ai, do you feel like Korea is absolutely the team to beat? How do you feel Japan is in that bracket?
AI MIYAZATO: Well, for sure the Team Korea is in good shape. All the four players played so well last couple years. It's just a different thing. You have to accept it. You have to focus your team. It's going to be really tough against any other country, so you have to focus on your own game on the golf course and you have to be proud of yourself that you're playing this week.
So I'm just ready for any country against any country.
KRAIG KANN: Two teams will advance out of the pool. Anna, how confident is team Sweden right now?
ANNA NORDQVIST: I think we're very comfortable, but I feel like we're underdogs. I think that just only works to our advantage. Korea and the U.S. are such strong teams and they have both been playing very well this year. I think the American team is very pumped up after losing in Colorado last year and they obviously have been dominating the Tour this year.
So we just got to try to figure out how to beat them.
KRAIG KANN: The Americans are in Pool A as the No. 1 overall seed. They overtook the Republic of Korea. Spain sits in that pool. I know you're a fairly confident bunch, is that a fair assessment of Team Spain?
BEATRIZ RECARI: Yes, we are. I think that team events for us, it only brings the best out of us. So even though I think we're No. 5 ranked, we can only go upwards.
It's always playing the UnitedStates, on home soil, it obviously is going to be hard, but we believe in each other a lot. We're very confident in our game. We're playing well. I think this kind of format is only going to bring the best out of us.
Even though Korea or the UnitedStates or any other team is going to be hard to beat, we're very confident and we're going to fight them until the end.
KRAIG KANN: Beatriz, does the 5 overall seed mean anything in this? Do you throw all that stuff out or is it a number that matters?
BEATRIZ RECARI: Yeah, no, we don't look at it as we're NO. 5, and we feel kind of 5 out of 8. No, we don't look at it that way. We feel like, okay, every day we have a team to beat and that's all we have to focus on. One day at a time. Just give it your best, and in the end, do your best job to bring that crown to Spain.
KRAIG KANN: Onnarin, your thoughts on the UnitedStates being the No. 1 overall seed and you having to potentially get past them.
ONNARIN SATTAYABANPHOT: Well, definitely it's going to be tough to beat them, but we, as a team, we're going to try our best to beat any match every day and then let's see how it goes.
KRAIG KANN: Any other questions from the audience? I have one more on the way out the door. I'm going to start with you Onnarin. Come Sunday night, there is only one country that gets to wear the crown, four crowns will be put on the heads of four players from that country. Somebody will be called the best golfing nation in the world, the first time that will ever happen. What would it mean to you personally, what would it mean Tour country?
ONNARIN SATTAYABANPHOT: It would be a big honor if I can take that crown back to my country. Definitely Spain has the name on the crown, but as a team we would like to steal it from them.
KRAIG KANN: That came out at the gala dinner. I don't know how that ended up happening. Beatriz, your thoughts on what it would mean for you personally and for your country. Could you put it in words?
BEATRIZ RECARI: Yeah, I know that this event has drawn a lot of attention back home and they're waiting for us to bring those crowns back home. It will mean a lot. Especially I think that the Spanish golf is just growing, so I think it's only going to help grow the sport as well back home. Yeah, just make everybody back home proud.
KRAIG KANN: Anna? Sweden's had a few players that have achieved a few things in the game. What would this mean?
ANNA NORDQVIST: It would be a huge honor, especially playing a team event on the professional level. We all got a lot of support from the Swedish Federation growing up and that really helped us learn a lot about the game and take our games to the next level. I think that I wouldn't be here without their support. It would be a huge honor for me to give back to them, back to my country.
KRAIG KANN: Ai Miyazato, your thoughts on maybe the importance to Japan and maybe the enormity of what it would mean for your country.
AI MIYAZATO: It's huge. This is huge for Japan. Because the women's golf in Japan is so popular right now, we have so many golf fans back home and everyone's really watching this week. Hopefully we can bring back the crown to Japan.
KRAIG KANN: Ai Miyazato, Anna Nordqvist, Beatriz Recari, Onnarin Sattayabanphot, thank you very much for taking part. Good luck this week to you and your country.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports