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August 19, 2017

Juli Inkster

Des Moines, Iowa, USA

THE MODERATOR: We're pleased to have U.S. team captain Juli Inkster back in the interview room. Juli, Team USA leads 10.5-5.5. It's kind of an unusual position actually for the U.S. to be in, leading going into singles. First lead since 1998, actually going into Sunday. Just talk about today, what an impressive display of golf and how you feel having pretty commanding lead heading into Sunday's singles.

JULI INKSTER: I was just telling Kelly I was a little nervous today just because my teams played so well yesterday afternoon.

We talked a lot about it last night about being ready to play in the morning. And I knew Annika was going to come out firing. And when we split in the morning 2-2, I was really glad to get that over with.

My pairings were a little different this afternoon. I switched them up a little bit. And it really -- it turned out well. I mean, I know Lizette and Angel lost today, but they played some amazing golf and lost to some amazing golf.

So we played well. We played probably better than well; we played amazing. But as you know, closing it out is the toughest thing to do. And we need one more great day of golf.

THE MODERATOR: You talk about this afternoon, so many birdies on both sides. Have you seen that kind of -- you've been part of many, many Solheim Cups -- that kind of display of golf from both sides in a single session?

JULI INKSTER: I haven't. And I'm telling you right now, this golf course is not easy. It's not easy. I mean, the greens are so tough.

I mean, I put Brittany and Brittany out there first. Brittany birdies the first five -- six holes. I mean, that's amazing. And those two -- I mean, I couldn't put two better best-ball players out together. They just complement each other. They love playing with each other. They wanted to make sure that they were playing back to back in singles, so they can wave to each other. It's really cute to watch. And they feed off of each other. I'm just very lucky to have the team I have right now.

THE MODERATOR: When we look at, we just got the Sunday singles, talk a little bit about strategy, of what you were thinking when you put together your lineup.

JULI INKSTER: I knew Annika would go heavy. I mean, I went heavy last year. I mean, really, I don't have a weak -- I don't have a weak link in my team.

When I say heavy, I say veterans. I'm not saying the best players, I just say veterans. I started with four veterans that have played a lot of matches, a lot of Solheim Cup matches. I know they won't get riled if they get down early. I know they'll stay in the game.

I put Angel fifth. I thought that was a great place for her. And I put my two other rookies at the end because I think they can handle it. I like my lineup. In fact, I love my lineup.

Q. You've been around long enough to know the toughest round to play is the one after you've shot a course record. How do you keep everybody focused and not get down tomorrow?
JULI INKSTER: You know what, we talk about it every night. They're focused. They want this. They're playing for each other and they're having fun. You can see it out there. It's fun for them. It's not a grind and they're not stressing. They're having fun.

And we keep it loose. We keep it light. That's just what I'm trying to project.

Q. They're having fun. I mean, everybody, I think, was having fun watching them shoot a collective 39-under par in the afternoon sessions. How much fun were you having watching them as their captain?
JULI INKSTER: I have to say the front nine, it was tight. It was really tight. It was one, two, 2-down, one. It could have gone either way.

But I just went up to them and just said, hey, just get me a point. Just get me a point. Do your job, just get your point and we're going to be fine.

Q. We do talk a lot about team, but there were two really impressive individual performances in the fact that Cristie Kerr actually set the record today with her two points of 20 total points surpassing you at 18.5?
JULI INKSTER: I was going to sit her down because of that but -- (laughter) I didn't know that. But that's good.

Q. When you look at what Cristie is able to accomplish -- and you know what it takes to make so many Solheim Cup teams and do that -- and how impressive was it for her to do that over the course of her Solheim Cup career?
JULI INKSTER: I'll tell you, there's not a captain on the European team or the American team that would not want Cristie Kerr on her team. She just gets after it. She's the most -- you just can't teach heart. You can't teach guts. You can't teach willing the ball in the hole. And she has that.

And she deserves to be the best Solheim Cup player point-wise. And I am just so happy that she's on my team.

Q. And the other feat was Paula Creamer, actually with her point went above you in most points in a foursome. But when you look at what Paula does, especially in foursomes, that's not the easiest format. And the type of teammate she is and to be able to get so many, what does she bring out with other teammates who play with her in that format?
JULI INKSTER: Paula is a leader. She's really mentored Austin this week. You know, to play foursomes, I played a lot of foursomes and to play foursomes you've got to be a grinder. You gotta grind.

It's -- nothing's perfect, everything's a little bit off. I think Paula maybe hit two or three iron shots all day. But it can't faze you. And Paula is an amazing foursome player.

And all those Twitter people out there that told me that I shouldn't have picked Paula, shame on you. (Laughter).

Q. You talked earlier about Lizette and Angel playing really well in defeat. Can you talk more about what Lizette has mean to the team? 2-0 yesterday and played really well today in a loss.
JULI INKSTER: Lizette has been our little spark plug. And again she's a match play -- she loves match play. She loves the mano y mano.

And I asked her yesterday, afternoon: Do you want to sit in the morning? Do you want to play in the morning? I said, you've played well enough, you can dictate what you want to do.

She goes, well, I need my beauty rest. So I played her in the afternoon with Angel. And it didn't work out. But the thing I loved about her, she walked off the green and she goes the Europeans played really well today. We just made a couple of mistakes and it cost us. But we're both playing very well.

Q. Can you, in your two years since Germany, have you ever gamed out a scenario when you would be this far ahead?
JULI INKSTER: Never. Never. Never. I mean, it's like having a 10-shot lead going into the last round. It's kind of nerve racking.

But I just love where my players' heads are at right now. They know -- they haven't said one thing in the locker room. They just were just all -- putting the team, the lineup together and asking everybody where they would like to fall, where they felt comfortable.

And they know that it's like game seven of any playoff, that's the hardest game to win, is to advance.

So we've got our work cut out for us, and I know Annika's team will not quit. So we'll be ready for the task.

Q. Brittany Lang said earlier that the emphasis this year was on fun. Maybe in the past it's always been about winning, but this year it was more about fun. When did you come up with that?
JULI INKSTER: Well, I think everybody puts a lot of emphasis on wins and losses. And these girls have worked really hard two years to make the Solheim Cup team. And, yeah, it's great to win, and, yeah, it would be great to win. But it's not about that.

To me my best memories of the Solheim Cup -- some we won, some we lost -- but it's being together and being, not only being together as a team but bringing our families together. That's where it's amazing to be on a team like a Solheim Cup team. And I'm just trying to bring that back the last couple of years because I know that's when I had my most fun.

And my team is -- they want to be a team. But sometimes you have to learn how to be a team. And I think they're learning how to be a team.

Q. We've mentioned that this has been more about your team playing extraordinarily well for the most part and nothing really the Europeans aren't doing. I mean, who among the European side has impressed you most that maybe American golf fans here may not have known going into this week?
JULI INKSTER: I love Georgia Hall. I think she's a great player. I love her spunk. She's an amazing ball striker and her putting has been on point.

I'm a huge fun of Anna Nordqvist. I just think she's a great player, great ball striker, great person.

But Georgia Hall as a rookie has really impressed me.


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