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September 18, 2002
MR. PARK: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. On my left we have Suzann Pettersen, Helen Alfredsson and Paula Marti from Spain.
Q. Suzann Pettersen, could you talk about -- you are the first player from Norway to be in the Solheim Cup team, what that means to you, and, also, what it means to golf in your country.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I mean, it's -- for me, it's personal. I can't really think of what's history and what's not, and you have your own goals and you play your own game, so -- and I am lucky to be on this team, but I think it's very good for Norwegian Federation and everything with golf in Norway that you do have players who can compete on a good level in Europe and in the U.S. yeah, I don't know what to say.
Q. Helen, do you feel like you are one of the -- I don't know if the right word is mother hens out here. Do you feel like you are playing sort of a leadership role on this team?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I mean, we get paid for baby-sitting. Actually, this week has been great. I think the check is in the mail, that's what Dale said, and I think I have been taking care of it. Actually, I don't know, they have a lot to teach us, too, just the way they are very fired up and the way they play. It's been so fun to be more close to all the girls. I have known them for the last two or three years in Europe, but I think we get along really well, and we have a lot of fun together, and it's fun to see, you know, young players with no fear and all the skill in the world, particularly when they are on your side.
Q. All we hear and all we read now is about the women's approach on the Augusta National Golf Club. I think you might tell them a little bit about that because you have played Augusta National.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Yeah, I think it's a ridiculous issue, period. You know, I think you should be able to have -- they -- I had a most wonderful treatment when I was there, I couldn't ask for anything better than what I had, and I think Martha Berg should really worry about something else than to worry about Augusta National. I think they have the right to choose the members they want, and sometimes I don't think we have to be part of everything everybody did.
I think the men should have had the right to do it and the women should have the right to have their private club, too, and we are probably going to start one where we are all going to wear bikinis, and no men allowed, so that's going to be a great club, I think.
Q. How about your game coming in, and talk a little bit a little bit about the difficulty of these greens, because that's what they say, that you can't take two practice rounds and really learn the greens. Is that true?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Yeah, that's true, you don't want to be long and you really don't want to be short, and left is not good either, and right is really not to be recommended, so we haven't figured out where to put the ball, but, you know, it's match play, so it's a little different, you can be a little bit more aggressive than you would be on a normal stroke play.
Q. Helen, do you feel like you have taken some heat with the captain's picks? I mean, have you had to defend yourself or do you feel -- I mean, how do you feel about that?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Well, it's the same procedure, and last year -- or last time, I think. You know, it's hard. Of course -- you know, because people make it up, but I can't -- I feel very fortunate to be here. I feel, you know, Laura and I were looking at each other yesterday, it's like, goll, we really are the old bags in this group, but I think we also provide some valuable experience and some things, and -- but what can I say?
I have not asked to be picked, I have done whatever I can, I have played a lot in Europe, and whatever she said, you know, hopefully I can just come here and do similar to what I did last year -- or last time. And, of course, it feels hard, you know, you feel guilty, but there is nothing I can do about it, you know, it's hard to pick a team and you just got to trust, I think, what Dale did last time, probably one of the gutsiest moves ever, and it paid off, and for somebody to keep questioning that, I think she had her reasons, whatever those were, but I feel very fortunate to be here with this group.
Q. Let's talk about the individual young lady over here on the right about her game, all three of you, about your games coming in. How do you feel about your games right now?
PAULA MARTI: Well, last week I was playing the qualifier for the PGA, and I played really good that week, so eventually I hope I am going to get the same results this week, so I am very comfortable about my long games and my putting right now so, hopefully, I will keep it like this for this week.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: My game is getting better. I don't think I want to be (inaudible) right now, just want to get a good feeling and go on the first tee on Friday and just play the match play. So -- but, I mean, the game is really improving, and I am working hard, so --
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Yeah, I am hitting the ball pretty good. This year is probably one of the best ball striking years that I have had in a long time, I just haven't been able to put the numbers on the board. Sometimes it's hard to get the confidence when you have been hitting a lot of bad shots, but I have been hitting it pretty good this week and being here on this kind of golf course and with this group, it just gives you a lot of confidence.
Q. Everybody seems very relaxed and at ease and confident. Helen, you are the only one who knows just what it's like to stand on the first tee at the start of a Solheim Cup. What will it be like for them, for those who haven't done it?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: You know, I think my rookie year, when I teed off on the very first day, very first hole, I had to play Bradley and Lopez. I just wanted to go somewhere else and first ask for an autograph, and then go home, basically. I think this is a very confident bunch, and I think they thrive on the competition and, also, they know everybody. You know, nowadays they are able to get to play in tournaments like the British and the Evian Master, so they get to see each other a little bit more than we did then, so I think they are going to super enjoy being there.
I know these two at least are my good horses, not even my team, but great confident players, so I think they are going to go up there, step up to the plate, and do what needs to be done.
Q. Helen, you have played a lot of golf with and around Annika. How has she taken it to the next level over these next couple years? She has always been a good player, but so dominant this year. How has her game evolved?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Well, she never makes mistakes, she hits them to about 2 feet and knocks the putt in, that's pretty much perfection right there. You know, she is an amazing person. She is able to just absolutely let nothing else bother her, you know. She is -- her focus on her practice on what she is trying to accomplish is extremely well. You know, I wish I had half of that. I think that's probably sometimes just be able to stick with -- you know, not to let anything bother you or just -- you know, when you practice, this is what you are going to do, and you set out to do everything, you know, work out, and the discipline is tremendous. I really admire that.
I know that I could never -- you know, I am too weak when it comes to having fun, so -- but, you know, obviously, she is almost perfect, you know, the way golf can be played, considering that obviously you are going to have a lot of nature, putting, not every putt is going to go in and, you know, there might be a few mistakes, but I think she has probably taken it as close to perfection as I think any of us have seen.
Q. Paula and Suzann, you must be doing a lot of thinking about who you would like to -- or would not like to play on Sunday in the single matches. Comments?
PAULA MARTI: I don't know, just give me whoever they are going to give me. I am just going to play my best golf, hopefully, and I don't mind playing whoever I have to play, so I am happy to be here, so give me whoever. I don't mind.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I agree, but to be honest, I don't know how the Americans -- all the Americans' game because I haven't played that much in the U.S., you have seen some of that, and I have played some rounds last week like last week when I played in Portland, so I don't have any big feelings against their game, so I think it's just, go out there and do it.
Q. Have you spent some time studying their matchabilities or their styles or anything?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: We do our own thing. We don't care about the Americans.
PAULA MARTI: Just take care about our own business or what.
Q. You read what Catrin Nilsmark said about them?
PAULA MARTI: That's Catrin's, I think, point of view. You have any questions, ask her. I don't think I am capable, you know, to answer these things, just ask her if you have any questions.
MR. PARK: Allen?
Q. Back to Annika for a second, please. Laura was in earlier and said that the team expects Annika for four points at least. Do you think she would feel the pressure of expectation of this Solheim Cup instead of a normal week?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I think she has proved her -- I mean, she absolutely loves to win, and I think the other team -- I mean, what she has produced this year, I think it would be very hard if the Americans would not have a tremendous respect for her, the fact that she never really makes mistakes, and she is longer from the tee than she has ever been, and she is stronger than she has ever been, so, you know, I think we are very fortunate to have her on our team and we don't have to deal with her on the golf course, so I think the Americans probably have more respect who have to deal with her, we just have to make sure that she is happy and playing her best game.
Q. Helen, someone said, and it was written, that you -- that your captain considered you to be the greatest match play contestant in the world. Now, if that's true, is there a different psychological approach to match play than there is just to tournament play?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Of course it is, you only lose the hole. In match play, that's what it is, and I think, also, a week like this, you know, you draw tremendous energy from everybody else, and I think we have had such great teams through the years, and this year it's one of the best teams I think I have ever been on in all these seven years that we have played.
And I think it's fun, especially when you play all together, you know, you talk about the shots, and you play, and you can be a little bit more aggressive and you don't have to fear, and I wish sometimes -- at least for me, I wish I could have sometimes the mental state when you play in a stroke play. Sometimes you become a little bit more defensive, but the funny thing is most of the time you hit better shots when you are a little bit more aggressive, I don't know if the age is catching up and, you know, you deal with some of the things that you didn't deal with when you were younger.
Q. Helen, I wonder if you could talk a little bit about you have a teammate from Norway on the Solheim Cup for the first time and somebody from Denmark. Do you think the Solheim Cup itself has elevated the interest in women's golf in Europe, and maybe in other countries, that we haven't seen players from before -- we haven't seen as much from before?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: You mean the Solheim --
Q. I am just wondering if this competition has helped with that process.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I think overall, you know, it's -- Europe has had very good players. I think, you know -- now, I think the fact that we can come over here, that there is more players, you know, in the last ten years have been over in The States, and to come and play and, obviously, the possibilities for women to play and to make money, obviously have increased tremendously in the last few years, and obviously that's very -- a very important part, you know, when you reach a point when you finish school and you need to pay your bills.
And, you know, in Europe before we played a lot of amateur golf, and then when you were done with that, you know, you had kids and you got married, and that was a little bit more prevalent, maybe, than it is over here, but I think now everybody wants to go out and try their talent with a chance to come to The States, you know.
And, obviously -- and I think anytime when you have been on the Solheim Cup team it raises the need to be part of it one more time because of how you get to know one another and the team spirit.
Q. Helen, with world events and past incidents of 911 as a backdrop, what do you think the spirit of these matches should be?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I think it should be great. I think we all have tremendous respect for each other. I think the biggest difference with the men is that they have not always played together. I think this year maybe our team is a little different because we have some rookies, obviously, that will come to The States next year to play, but they haven't been around the Americans as much as a lot of us have done through the years. So I don't know, I think -- sometimes it's difficult when you are too good of friends, and you hang out every day the rest of the year together, because you don't want to do anything or be, maybe, too aggressive because it's -- but that's also the part of the sport.
I think this year it's just Laura and I that have to behave. I guess the rest of the group can do whatever they want. But no, I think it's hard. It's just the atmosphere, when you play match play and when you are 11 other -- you have 11 other players behind you to push you, and to give a high five, and you are trying to achieve a final goal like to win the Solheim Cup, it's hard sometimes to control the emotions, like we know in the past how that just triggers, I mean, and the men is obviously the same.
It's just so fun, and all of a sudden, instead of just being by yourself winning, now you have got 11 other players that are happy that you win, which, obviously, it makes it even bigger.
Q. Paula and Suzann, there are a lot of rookies on the team. How big of help is it to have players like Helen and Laura on the team?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I think it's a great honor to be on a team together with Alfie and Laura and, I mean, all the other players who have played the last couple of years. And it makes it much easier for us to kind of feel part of the team. I mean, I don't think any of us feel like any outsider or rookies.
PAULA MARTI: Maybe we will feel more comfortable, you know, having these two excellent players here playing with us, and I hope they are going to help us, you know, to do our best job here this week, so it's great to have them.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: It's all about having a great team spirit, and I think the team is having a lot of fun. Keep smiling.
Q. Is there anything specific that you have had to ask Helen or Laura about?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: No, Helen just has to brush my teeth every night and put on my pajamas, so I think I am --
HELEN ALFREDSSON: You are doing good.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: From 1 to 10, I am probably 1. Just stay behind Alfie.
Q. Helen, just a minute ago you were talking a little bit about the spirit of the Solheim Cup. Some of us in the media have been to all of the Solheim Cups, and there is another aspect that is a part of that spirit, and it comes from the family and the coaches and people that have been a part of your golf life when you participate in this event. They come, and that means a lot, as I have talked to the players over the years. That's been an awful lot to talk about -- talk about that for a moment.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Everybody, like the extended sort of family, that becomes a part of this, or what did you mean?
Q. Yeah. Well, St. Pierre, I spent most of the week with one of the player's coaches that started at age 3, and every day we rode to the golf course, and the more we got to know one another, we realized how much that support team of family and friends were there for, not only on the course to root you on to victory, but it was sort of like I am surrounded by my core group of people.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Oh, yeah. But what I think is so great, you know, like Suzann's parents are here, and Paula's parents are here, and you do -- I agree with you, you do really become a huge family, you know, you always come up and hug each other, you haven't really maybe known each other, but you are all together, and all these parents that are there, they are there to be very supportive, and it just brings everybody, in a total different way, together because you really are one team, and you really are -- everybody that's outside, you know, you are all helping each other.
Like you said, some other coaches, you can ask them this week if they would like to help you or see a few shots, if you had some troubles, but I think it's -- the greatest thing is to see the parents that come out and to be a part of it, you know, we all have dinner together, and we get to talk, and you get to know -- that's the beauty of it, you get to know people that you might not have had a chance to get to know before because they usually stay with whoever the child is, or whatever.
And I just love when you have this big group of people where, you know, you are laughing, you see them on the golf course, they say "good shot," and then you see them somewhere else, and everybody is running around. I think all those things makes this week every two years so incredibly special.
MR. PARK: Any more questions, ladies and gentlemen? Paula, Helen, Suzann, thank you very much.
End of FastScripts....