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September 7, 2005

Nancy Lopez


Q. We're joined by US Solheim Cup team Captain, Nancy Lopez. You played in the first Solheim Cup in 1990. This year you're the Captain. Can you talk about what your experience has been like so far.

NANCY LOPEZ: It's been unbelievable. I don't think there has ever been an honor in golf that I've received as being the Captain of the Solheim Cup.

Being the Captain to all these wonderful players has been so tremendous for me and so rewarding. I think that the relationships that I formed with the players that I've played against in the past years, and the new players of today, it's just very special to me, and I hold it very dear to my heart, and I would say it ranks as the best thing that's ever happened to me in LPGA golf.

Q. We'll take questions. And. Once again, please use the microphone.

NANCY LOPEZ: I'll try not to cry.

Q. Nancy, can you talk about the motor home trip that the team took from Columbus and why you came up with that idea? Was it something you thought the team needed in terms of bonding, maybe, compared to the European team, which always seems to have such a close friendship among them?

NANCY LOPEZ: I just think that that was my goal two years ago was to make sure that my team felt like one.

I watched the Ryder Cup a couple years ago, and it was sad because I didn't see that. I didn't see that bonding of players, so that was my goal was to hopefully have the bonding that we need to win a Solheim Cup.

Because golf is such an individual sport, but when you have 12 players, you have different personalities, different golf games. I want to make sure when we came here that they felt comfortable with each other, that they felt good about each other, and I think that has been accomplished, and I think all the players have had a great time, and the trip on the motor home was really fun. We have some great pictures, some you can't see, but it was really, really fun.

It was a great bonding time for us, and it was about almost four hours, but we had done other things before that. It was great. It was just one more fun thing we did. We took ourselves away from golf and became friends, and I think that was great.

Q. Nancy, you probably have been thinking about foursomes pairings for two years now. Is that one of the hardest things a Captain has to do, you know, coming up with four, not just a couple strong ones, but four strong pairings, knowing everybody has to play at least once the first couple of days, and everything that goes into it?

NANCY LOPEZ: It's hard for me to choose because they're all good. I feel like I have so many strong teams. Obviously, I want them to play, and I sit there hoping that I choose the four that are really going to be hot that day, because they're all great players, and I hope that I can put the teams together that I think will play well together, and I have been working on that for quite awhile, but I think the practice sessions helped me to make that decision.

It's made it easier at least, and, you know, you always kind of second guess yourself a little bit. You're wondering, this is a great team, that's a great team, should I put them on the morning on Friday or should I play them best ball in the afternoon.

That's the struggle I have is I have so many great players and I'm not sure where to put them all.

Q. You knew going into your announcement on Captain's choices the day before. Are you pretty much there with foursomes at this point?


Q. Nancy, what kind of notes did you take in those practice sessions to help you in the four ball and the best ball?

NANCY LOPEZ: When we practiced, I put teams together that I thought would play good alternate shots, that games would complement each other's games, and after I let them play together, I talk to them a couple days later. I asked them how they felt about the players, if their games were good. If there was a good feeling playing with the player, and if the chemistry was good. You know it pretty quickly what that feeling is like.

I got a lot of feedback from the players, and I feel like I have a really good trust relationship with my players. I've told them they can tell me whatever they want to, and it's between them and myself, and, you know, I want them to know they can tell me anything they want, and if they're feeling this way, that way, tell me, and I think they've done great with that.

I feel like that's where I have become very close to them, because they share so many things with me. I want them to feel at ease when they go out there and compete. I want them to be excited about the player they're playing with and be charged up together as a team.

Q. Would you say it's a 50 percent balance on both sides of choosing a team based on the physical at that time or emotional balance?

NANCY LOPEZ: A 50 percent?

Q. If you were to say, I'm going to look at this team, physically, strength from tee to green, would that be equally important to you as the emotional balance and blend between the two?

NANCY LOPEZ: I think my team needs to be emotionally balanced even more than with their golf games. The mind is so strong in golf to me. If they're emotionally settled, they'll play great golf. I think that's why I see a lot of happy faces. I think the team is excited. I see a lot of smiling going on. I feel at peace with that. I feel like I'm accomplishing what I wanted to.

I want them to have nothing to worry about. If they have a problem, come to me, I'll fix it as quickly as I can. I want them to have a great time. As my dad always said, 'I want them to play happy and enjoy what they're experiencing out there," and the rest of it I want to take care of. The golf part of it comes secondary to the emotional part of it.

Q. Nancy, you have been here a lot as far as this course, Crooked Stick. My question is: From a fan's perspective, where would you watch this thing from as far as where is the good part of the course where they will see some of the best golf?

Do you have a feel for that based on the practice, certain holes that have been exciting through practice?

NANCY LOPEZ: I want to be inside the ropes. You're not going to see much outside the ropes. It's so exciting. There's so many people.

Well, you know, I'm hoping that our players win before they get to 17 and 18. 17 is a great hole to watch because there is a spot where you can kind of look down the green.

With you, I mean, you have to kind of walk around and find your position where you want to stay. There is going to be a lot of people out there. It was so exciting. I went to the Solheim Cup in Minneapolis, and I always said you can watch it on TV better than you could if you were there, but you've got to be there.

The excitement of watching these players and getting to see them hit that shot, and the team spirit and flags, the patriotism, the red, white and blue, you've got to be here but, of course, on the golf course everyone has to find their own place where they can see the best.

I would certainly stay on the front side, because you'll see all the holes on the front side. Back side, you never know when the matches are going to finish.

Q. Nancy, how has Donna Caponi been as an assistant Captain? What has she brought to the table and how have you complemented each other?

NANCY LOPEZ: I have all my thank you notes written. She's so good. She's really taken everything off me. She has helped so much, making sure the players were organized with their clothes, anything that comes up, she goes right to it and takes care of it. She has taken a lot off of me and made my job easier.

She never stops. She never stops. She's been there 24/7 for me and the players. It's made me be able to be the Captain that I need to be to my team, not worrying about all that other stuff.

She did give me this bracelet, if you can see it, months and months before she even knew she maybe even had a chance to be my assistant Captain. She gave me it for good luck.

We were doing Golf Channel and she said, "Nancy, I've got a bracelet for you that's for good luck."

Q. How much of an advantage can the home crowd be for your team this week?

NANCY LOPEZ: I think you have a tremendous advantage with the home crowd. I've never played overseas on the Solheim Cup. I know even playing over there as an individual, you know, when you're down if you're on home soil, and you're down, they're there to root you on. They're like, "Come on, keep going, you can do it, let's go."

If you're over there you're not going to hear that. Maybe a few voices, but it's not the same. When you mess up over there or you don't play well, or you play a hole terribly, it's almost like you feel it ten times worse.

When you come out here and mess up, there is somebody to pick you up and stroke you and say, "Let's go" so it's definitely different, and I think it's a lot easier to play over here.

Q. Your husband, Ray Knight, did he give you any help as far as in how to form a team? Obviously, that's something he's very familiar with.

NANCY LOPEZ: First of all, he said, "Well, you've got to put first, second and third, the top two or three hitters up, and then you put the one that's going to hit the home run." I said, "Okay."

He's been a tremendous help. I'm not a stat person. I look at the player, I know when they're playing well or not. He followed every stat probably the last two years and was on the computer every night bringing up this stat or that stat.

I mean, I'm surprised he didn't tell me how many times they ate during the day. He knew everything, and it did help me to look at the stats, to see how good we are, which I loved.

He showed me our driving accuracy, and I think at one time I probably thought the Europeans hit a lot further than we did, but he brought to me the top two players on the European team and the top two players on the US team, driving wise, distance wise. I think Laura Davies was probably off a little bit because she didn't use her driver all the time. There was only 8 to 10 yards difference, so that kind of eased my mind, but I think that we're very accurate.

I think we have a lot of players that hit in the fairway, a lot of greens and regulation, really, really good putters.

He showed me all that, and now I can talk about it and know what I'm talking about and know these players, and I knew they were before I saw stats, they were great players.

Q. Who's hitting cleanup?

NANCY LOPEZ: I'm not telling you.

Q. Nancy, when people talk about your rookie year, they remember the winning, the relationship with your father you had. I'm curious as you watch Paula Creamer out here winning the way she is, her parents traveling with her tournament to tournament, I'm curious what role you think that's played in her winning and the stability and maturity she's shown at such a young age?

NANCY LOPEZ: Paula Creamer is a superstar. She's a great player, she's enthusiastic, can't wait to play, not afraid of anything, not intimidated by anyone. Her mom and dad traveling with her, I think, is great. She's a lot like I was at age 19, very young. A lot of 19 year olds are not very young.

That's a compliment. I mean, I like to see that. I think her parents have definitely added stability to her and have helped her to go out there on the golf course and only worry about golf, not worry about anything outside the ropes. I think that's just enabled her to be the great player that she is.

Q. Nancy, Annika was in here right before you. If you would speak to her, what impresses you most. Is it her talent, drive, determination?

And part two, does the team sort of neutralize her a little bit?

NANCY LOPEZ: Annika is, you know, one of the best players I've ever seen, and I know when she set her goal to win the Grand Slam, I was rooting for her. I would have liked to have seen that happen. I don't think there is many players that can ever really say, and dedicate themselves to that goal and say, "I want to win the four majors." You know, my hat was off to her. That's a lot of pressure to put on yourself.

She had to really focus and work hard, and she had to feel pressure every minute, every day, every tournament. I know when she wasn't able to do that, and she lost the US Open or didn't win the US Open, she was very tired. She didn't really play well after that. She struggled a little bit. Unless you've been there, you don't know how that feels.

I'm sure at night, she laid in bed and knew how good she is, but she never told anybody that. She just went ahead and played her game, beat everybody, and that's the type player that I see in Annika.

I think that, you know, we had a conversation, Catrin and I did, at Nabisco, because we were watching Annika on television, and she kind of nudged me, and she said, "What do you think about her?" I said, "She's a great player, but you have one Annika and I have 12 Annikas," so she said, "Oh, that was good, that was good."

But I think that they have a strong team, and the Europeans seem to really blossom during the Solheim Cup. So, I have to tell my players, you may be the favorite, but play like you're the underdog, because you don't want to get big headed about anything, now that you're playing great. You have got to go out there and play 100 percent. That's what I told them, give me 100 percent. That's all that matters to me.

I think it's important, and I always kind of lived my life on the golf course like that. As I told them, if you look in the mirror, and you can say to yourself that you gave 100 percent, that's all that matters, win or lose, because you're playing against some of the greatest players that have ever played the game. Sometimes they're going to beat you, no matter how great you play. I try to encourage my team to play the best they can no matter what.

Q. Do we have any more questions for Nancy?

Kind of a two part question. With Paula being the first rookie on the team, is it possible though, since she is one of the strongest players on the team, we could see her play every match? And also, could we see a couple of rookies put together as a team?

NANCY LOPEZ: Well, you know, those young players, they have a lot of energy, and I'm sure she'll be able to play 36 holes at least one of the two days. I haven't really decided what I'm going to do, but I think the young players could definitely do that.

Playing two rookies together, I may do that. I'm not really sure, because I think they're experienced enough to handle it. Just watching them, I mean, they're great players. They're not intimidated by anything. So, I mean, I could do that, but I'm just kind of watching to see what's going to happen maybe after the first day, and then go from there, but like I said, I have so many great players. I mean, I just I visualize some great matches, and hopefully ours we'll be the ones that are on top by a lot, and that's what I visualize hopefully.

Q. Do we have any more questions?

Okay. Thank you. Thank you Nancy. Good luck this week.

End of FastScripts.

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