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August 17, 2017
Des Moines, Iowa, USA
THE MODERATOR: We're here with three members of Team USA -- Lexi Thompson, Stacy Lewis, and Gerina Piller. Stacy here playing in her fourth Solheim Cup with a record of 4-7-1. Lexi, her third Solheim Cup, record of 3-2-2. And Gerina, her third with a record of 3-2-2 as well. We'll start at the immediate left with Stacy. Three days of practice are over, a wonderful day with no rain, how is the golf course holding up out there?
STACY LEWIS: The golf course is good. It's actually -- I would say it's a lot wetter today than it has been; played a little different, but the golf course is still in really good shape. And it's going to be a good test throughout the week.
You're going to see some birdies but you can get in some pretty bad spots in this rough. So I think it will be a great test for match play.
THE MODERATOR: Looked like the fans and crowds were up today. Is it starting to feel the Solheim Cup?
STACY LEWIS: I always say once you get to the gala night, it starts to kind of feel real. And today certainly showed it with the fans. They were out in forces today, and there are a lot of people out there. And we'll have a lot of people tonight for opening ceremonies. And it starts getting more and more real that we're getting closer and closer to this thing starting.
THE MODERATOR: Lexi, I think you probably know where my question is going. How are you feeling?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I've answered that question quite a bit this week. I'm doing better. I feel pretty good today and felt good yesterday. So one more good night's sleep and I'll be good to start up tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Has your practice been hampered at all? Or what has your go-to been over the last couple of days of getting over this virus?
LEXI THOMPSON: Well, I've still been practicing, playing, but really just taking it easy, not grinding away on the golf course, but still out here swinging. But making sure I take the time back at the hotel and just relax my body and making sure I'm energized for the most important rounds coming up.
THE MODERATOR: Gerina, I'm going to take you back actually two years, 2015, that Sunday singles, the nine-foot putt. How fresh is that in your memory? And now moving to this week, how do you use that to hopefully kick start a great weekend here in Des Moines?
GERINA PILLER: First off, it's hard to believe it's already been two years since that happened. Those kind of things you try to keep as fresh as you can in your mind, especially at this time being back here at the Solheim Cup.
So it's just kind of a big motivator for me and a big confidence boost, especially my putting, growing up and not being known as a great putter and to make that putt for the team was huge for my career and for my confidence. So I'm just excited to be back and hopefully we'll have more of those putts go in.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. Lexi, all athletes think they can go right up to the moment; they can't. There's a lot of golf over the next three days. What's the threshold at which point you say, you know what, I need to take a rest?
LEXI THOMPSON: Mainly just when I know my body isn't fully into it, and I don't have the energy that I need to get through a round of golf. I mean, I played 18 Monday and then just kind of took it easy after that because I wasn't feeling too well. But the last two days I've been feeling pretty good and I got some more rest. So that was definitely needed coming into tomorrow and the next few days.
Q. Interesting first hole with a drivable par-4. What's sort of the strategy there for all of you?
STACY LEWIS: I think, for me, I like kind of laying back and having a wedge in. But I think a lot of it depends on the format and what the wind is doing. If it's downwind I kind of let it go.
These two are probably letting it fly, I would think. But a lot of it depends on the format. In four-ball, you can kind of let somebody go at it and have one safe. I don't know, there's definitely a lot of strategy to it. Normally a first tee you just step up there and hit it as hard as you can. A little more strategy on that first tee this year.
LEXI THOMPSON: Definitely what Stacy said. It depends on the format, depends on what your partner wants into that green if you're hitting the first tee shot.
But, yeah, if it's best ball, you're going to have the other partner lay up and then you can go for it. But that green is kind of funky, has quite a bit of slope into it. So it's kind of important to have more of a straightforward chip at it and not leave yourself short-sided to a tucked pin. So it depends on the wind and format.
GERINA PILLER: I didn't come here to lay up.
LEXI THOMPSON: Go big or go home.
STACY LEWIS: I'm glad she's my partner.
GERINA PILLER: That's all I've got. (Laughter).
Q. Gerina and Stacy, you two came back out Tuesday night after the rain delay and watched the Junior Solheim Cup. Just talk about how much fun that was for you guys to kind of watch the up-and-comers?
STACY LEWIS: I was hoping to watch it during the day. So I was glad they were still going at night. And you know they definitely recognized us as soon as we walk out there. And just hopefully give them a little bit of added energy and excitement.
I never got to play Junior Solheim. So just to go out there and see what those kids are doing, and they're really good. So, who knows? We could have one of them on the team here in a couple of years.
GERINA PILLER: I think it's really cool to see those girls being so young. For those who don't know, I didn't start to play golf until I was 15. So I can't imagine out there being 14, and, like, Angel Yin being out here when she's 19 playing for your country.
So all that to me is very foreign. And it's just really cool to see that those girls come together as a team and they don't have their caddie. And they're pushing each other's push carts. And it's just really cool to see. Even the camaraderie between the two teams, it's just really fun to go watch and support them.
Q. Your rookies this year seem pretty relaxed. At least yesterday a couple seemed really relaxes. What do you tell them heading into the first tee? And do you think they'll focus in a little more or do you think they'll keep that attitude going into the whole weekend?
STACY LEWIS: I assume you're talking about Angel and Danielle. It has to be those two. But, yeah, what you see is what you get with them. They're like that all the time.
They're out here to have a good time and have fun. And I think the best part, especially Angel, she doesn't know any better. She just gets up there and rips it and doesn't care, doesn't -- I mean she cares, but she doesn't care where it goes because she's going to get it up-and-down from there.
It's fun to have them around. Brings some extra energy to the group. And definitely had a lot of laughs between the two of them, I think.
LEXI THOMPSON: Oh, yeah.
GERINA PILLER: I think it has something to say for our team that the people that have been on the Solheim Cup have really embraced them. And they've been really good with asking questions. And we told them from the start there's no dumb question and ask as many questions as you can.
And I just felt like there's a lot of girls on our team that have really taken them underneath their wing and really made them feel welcome.
Q. Lexi, you played in two of these, but in the last two years, your game has advanced and you're number two in the world. Are you feeling any differently coming into this Solheim in terms of the pressure or obligation you feel to play well, given your status in the game?
LEXI THOMPSON: Well, first off, thank you. You know, it's just been a matter I've been working on my game a lot, improving on things that needed to be improved on. And it's shown.
But this is all about being a team. It's not about yourself. It's about how you come together as a team with your partner, your captain. And you're not only playing for yourself, you're playing for your country and your team and that's what it's all about.
I don't feel any extra pressure with being 2 in the world. That's not what it's about. I'm just out here playing the game I do, that I love, and that's what I'm here to do.
Q. Team USA is obviously heavy favorite coming into the event, especially now with Suzann's injury. Is complacency an issue that you guys as players talk about, think about? And what do you do to help mitigate against the potential problem of complacency?
STACY LEWIS: I don't think that's a word that's even been spoken. I mean, Juli has been on us about playing our games and working hard. She gave us hard hats to start the week. We're here to do our work, and that's kind of the model we took into Germany.
And it doesn't matter who we're playing against. Catriona is just as tough of a player as Suzann is. I don't care what rankings or anything say. That's the hardest part about match play -- rankings don't matter. It doesn't matter how many Solheim Cups you've played.
A lot of times rookies come out here and play great. So there's so many unknowns in this event that you just have to go out there and do your thing. And, as Juli says, just work hard and everything else takes care of itself.
GERINA PILLER: I don't think there's any sense of complacency on either side, whether we won 10 in a row or the Europeans won 10 in a row. We know they're great players.
And I know they know that we're great players. And so, like Stacy said, it could be anybody's ball game when it comes down to the singles matches or any of the matches. So just kind who gets hot and makes more birdies.
Q. How does the Sunday round two years ago and the epic comeback affect your mindset going into this week?
LEXI THOMPSON: I think it just gives us the confidence that we can overcome anything and we can come back from being behind and that we can overcome just that battle that we had to go through that morning. But it was great. We were fired up going into Sunday. We knew what we had to do and we just went out and believed in ourselves and never gave up. We played some great golf, and so did they. And it ended up going in our favor.
STACY LEWIS: I think it's -- I had never won a Solheim Cup. And so just getting that experience of winning and what it takes to win your matches, I think, that helps you going forward.
So for myself and Gerina to get a win and to know what that feels like, I think if anything it probably motivates you more to want to be in that position again. So I think we all learned a lot last year. And I think it's going to help us down the road.
GERINA PILLER: I felt like it gave our team a good taste of what it looks like to play as a team. Growing up, for me not particularly, but some of these girls, golf is their only sport and they've only played golf and it's an individual sport.
I grew up playing team sports. So for golfers growing up, you don't have a whole lot of experience being on a team. So it is a different -- I feel like it's different playing with a team and playing as an individual.
There were girls on my volleyball team that I probably wouldn't be caught hanging outside of the gym with, but as soon as she put on that jersey, the same as mine, I knew I had her back and she had mine.
So I think we did a great job of that last year, and it gave us a good taste of what that is and what it looks like. And so I think it's definitely a huge motivator for us this year.
Q. What's it mean knowing we're going to have a potential for record crowds? What's it mean for the game of women's golf in general to know that it's getting this much attention here in Des Moines, Iowa?
STACY LEWIS: Well, this is by far the biggest event we have all year. And I think we've been waiting for this. We've been waiting to have a big crowd like this to get everybody's attention. And it's unbelievable for women's golf. These team events -- I don't know what it is, but everybody seems to love them more than all the other ones.
And it's just the best time we have for women's golf. There's no other way to put it. It's the most exposure we get. It's the most people we get watching. And record crowds, and I think Toledo is going to want to break it here in four years. So we just create some competition, and that's what continues to make our tour better.
LEXI THOMPSON: I think it's great. I think it just shows how much women's golf is growing. I mean, even since I turned professional, we've gained more tournaments. We've gain more sponsorships and more TV coverage.
To see the amount of people here in a practice round and taking three hours and 20 minutes to play nine holes, because all the autographs we have to sign, it's unbelievable. And it's great for us because we want the fan base to grow. And it's what we deserve.
We work hard and we're showing our talent and doing something we love. And we want more and more people to support us. So it means the world to us.
Q. Stacy, what's it been like having the same captain for four years? What's been the upside to that?
STACY LEWIS: Well, it's been great. Obviously I think Juli is just so relatable to everyone that everything -- there really hasn't had to be a transition. Everything is kind of the same. Behind the scenes there's not a whole lot going on that's different. And there's things we're doing different that we learned from Germany, and there's things we're doing the same that worked in Germany.
So there's just not as much newness to it, I guess. We all kind of know what our roles are and what we're here to do.
But Juli has been unbelievable. It's been really fun the last -- we worked four years now for these Solheim Cups. And she's kind of brought me in a lot on kind of learning everything that's going on. And it's been a lot of fun for me personally just to learn how these things work.
Q. After Germany, you had a comment, there was a little bit of Juli in all of us, or something to that effect. What did you mean by that? What did that mean to you?
STACY LEWIS: I just think when you think of Juli Inkster, she's intense on the golf course, and she's passionate. And she wants to win more than anybody. And that's what she brought out in all of us on that Sunday. And whether it was all the controversy or not, you know, she was able to bring that out in us.
And that's what you saw -- I just remember watching highlights, and you saw this intensity in people's face that you don't see in a normal week. I don't know what she did but she brought it on all of us.
I've used it since then, as she told us to play aggressive and to play confident. And that's something I've kept in my head, and I'm going to use this week because, I don't know why, it just freed me up to play some golf.
Q. Golfers famously have tunnel vision on the course and only worry about their round. But this weekend, do you look around? Do you want to know how everybody else is doing while you're playing?
GERINA PILLER: I think to a certain extent. I mean, I think, being at home you can kind of tell if it's really loud, it's really good. I'm sure they could probably say the same thing in Germany.
There wasn't many scoreboards out there on Sunday, and it was kind of quiet. So it's kind of a good thing when you're not at home. So I knew something was going on that was good. I wasn't sure.
But you just -- I think it just depends on what's happening and just kind of where you are as far as in the matches and whatnot for me.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, like Gerina said, you don't want to be too focused on it because you're still playing your match with your partner, or coming Sunday, by yourself.
But I'm sure there's going to be a lot of scoreboards out there, so it will be hard not to see them. But, yeah, you just try to focus on what you're doing at that time, but you definitely want to still see how your other partners are doing, and how your team's holding up out there.
Q. Lexi, would you describe what you've had, is it a respiratory virus? And are you prepared to go 36 holes a day?
LEXI THOMPSON: I'm not dying. (Laughter) People, I'm not dying.
STACY LEWIS: Cristie Kerr is giving her all kinds of medicine, so she's all good.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I've been on everything you can think of. Just finished my Z-Pak, so I think I'll be good.
Q. It wasn't a stomach flu?
LEXI THOMPSON: No just a sore throat and a little congestion. I'm good, guys. I'm good.
STACY LEWIS: Dr. Kerr.
LEXI THOMPSON: I'm here, breathing.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports