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September 11, 2019
Gleneagles, Scotland, United Kingdom
THE MODERATOR: I'm happy to be joined by Danielle Kang and Lizette Salas. Danielle is playing in her second Solheim Cup for Team USA. And Lizette is representing the USA for her fourth Solheim Cup. Danielle, thinking back to Des Moines, you absolutely thrived in that first tee setting. I remember you calling the crowd up. What are you expecting on Friday when you step out into this stadium on the first tee?
DANIELLE KANG: Like you said, Des Moines was pretty top-notch for me. I had an amazing time. The crowds were incredible. The fact we were on U.S. soil obviously made it better and I heard all the "U.S.A." chants.
However, since we're in Scotland, I don't know what I'm going to hear. I hear that I'm going to be booed at one point. So bring it on. I'd rather hear loud booking at that point. So I'll still have them cheer as loud as they can, whoever they want to cheer for but I still want to hear them. So I'm excited.
THE MODERATOR: Who boos for Danielle Kang, really?
DANIELLE KANG: That's okay I just go, boo, I'm here.
THE MODERATOR: Lizette, that was starting off the Solheim Cup two years ago. Fast forward to the end and you made the winning putt. That had to be an incredible experience. Walk us through that final hole and that moment and maybe some of your best memories of that time on the final hole.
LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah, that moment was pretty special, and for it to come to my match and that putt on 18, I embraced it. I was ready for it. I knew what I had to do.
And I was just really honored to do it for the team. And that's one of the highlights of my career. And, yeah, it was pretty awesome.
THE MODERATOR: Now we're here at Gleneagles. You've been out on the course you played the front nine this morning. Tell us about the golf course. What does it look like out there, either of you?
LIZETTE SALAS: It's pretty wet. And it's a beautiful golf course, beautiful track. And I think it suits everyone's -- well, everyone on Team USA's game.
So it's challenging. Obviously the weather is a big factor. But we're out there just to get a feel for the golf course and how we're going to play well on it.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. Now that you've had a chance to have a bit around the golf course this morning, how confident are you feeling that you can go on and win the Solheim Cup for the third year running?
DANIELLE KANG: Well, I'm not really thinking about -- I don't think anyone's really thinking about the end result at the moment. Everyone that's playing the practice round and playing with their teammates, trying to figure out what suits each other's game, et cetera, are more focusing on what they can do in order to contribute to win.
It's not a one-person game. So there are 11 other players that have to step up their game as well. So everyone's preparing in the right way to get that Solheim Cup.
Q. Lizette, do you see yourself as a role model for girls in golf who perhaps are looking to take up the game, not only in America, but in Europe as well?
LIZETTE SALAS: I don't see myself as a role model. I think we all are. I think the 24 women out here are doing something remarkable, and I think we're all on the same page in terms of making the game better than what it was when we started and really making it an easier journey, a more fun journey to this sport. But, yeah, I think what we're doing is pretty remarkable.
Q. Danielle, you seem to love the team environment and the match play thing. What is it about it and how do you approach it that's different from your stroke play?
DANIELLE KANG: So golf's okay. I love match play golf. The fact that whether it's team game or singles, I like playing against one other person. I like to have a win or a loss instead of playing the entire field.
That's my entire idea is that I like to get some kind of feedback. Because golf, we lose most of the time. If you don't win, you're technically a loser. So it's hard to win. But match play you just play one person. And the fact that I love about the team environment is you have a teammate.
And you get to play with them and for them and it's kind of like a sisterhood, as when the men play it's like a brotherhood. I love somebody having my back and I love having their back.
Golf is a very lonely sport at one point where you're out there all alone, you're hitting the shot. You and your caddie are just there, and nobody really understands what you feel and how you felt over a shot like another player. And to be on the same team and to approach that together to win a Cup is pretty incredible.
Q. What about the psychological side of having a direct opponent? You win that hole or you lose that hole. What about that do you like? The psychological element of having one opponent, even in the singles, you win the hole or you lose the hole, massively different. What do you like about that?
DANIELLE KANG: That psychological part of it is what's fun for me, that I'm just going after this one person. Either she wins or I win. It's kind of a 50/50, higher percentage chance there, and it's kind of fun.
You play one person, one-on-one match, like I said. Psychologically you don't have to worry about the other 143 players out there, or some matches 155 players out there. You just worry about that one person. And I think that narrows your game down on your approach. You're not watching the leaderboard but you're watching her. So I think that's the fun of it for me.
Q. How do you feel the six rookies are transitioning so far to this new deal? How are you helping the process? And do you think it's easier for them because there's so many of them?
LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah, I think our team's embracing the fact that we have a lot of rookies. I mean, they did something pretty remarkable just to be on the team. So I don't think we need to change anything in terms of how to prepare them golf-wise.
We're always -- as we've been on the team already together. And we're just here if they need us. And I think they're doing just fine. I think the fact that there are a lot, they help each other out. And I think we're all just coming together.
Q. Does this course maybe remind you more of something you'd see back in the states rather than over here? And do you think it's therefore less of a home course advantage?
DANIELLE KANG: The golf course is definitely not link style. And personally I'm happy about it. I'm not a big fan of links golf just yet. You can see my stats.
But I think that it does give us a little bit of advantage because we're not very used to the links-style golf yet. So the fact that it's -- what is it, parkland-style golf course? There's not a lot of trees. But the fact there's a fairway and everything is soft as well.
So I think it suits a lot of different parts of everyone's game, long hitters, short hitters. It's going to be interesting to see what it turns out to be.
Q. Could you comment on the greens? They're more undulating than maybe what some of these Europeans are used to, week in, week out.
DANIELLE KANG: Are they?
LIZETTE SALAS: I don't know.
DANIELLE KANG: The Europeans, a lot of them play on the LPGA Tour. We all usually play the same golf courses. I don't believe they're more undulating than the other ones. We definitely have golf courses that are pretty crazy greens.
So you're right, these do break more than links-style, where it's more flat. But I don't think that either team has an advantage over the other because of the golf course.
Q. Just returning to the fact that half the team is rookies. As players with Solheim experience, do you feel that you have an added responsibility, not necessarily on the golf course, but off the golf course in terms of familiarizing the newcomers?
LIZETTE SALAS: Not really. We just need to remind them what to wear and make sure they're on time. And it's nothing different.
We're all just trying to help each other out. And, yeah, the rookies aren't really like rookies to me. Two years ago, I played with Danielle and Angel and they did remarkable on and off the golf course as rookies. The same thing this year. We're just there if they need us.
Q. Danielle, you had a memorable debut on the big Olympic Solheim stage. You were quite entertaining. I'm just curious, being on the road, can you take the same expressive approach, or what is your approach playing a road game?
DANIELLE KANG: I'm loud whether I'm in Nevada or in Scotland. (Laughter) I don't think I change no matter where I am. I'm definitely going to embrace the first tee. I'm going to embrace whenever I get a chance to hit it. I'm going to embrace the fans out there for the entire golf course, whenever I get to play.
And I'm just embracing this vibe that we all get to have and experience amongst your teammates and the rivalry team. And it's a lot of fun, and I'm excited to have a lot of fun out here.
Q. Danielle, you talked at the start about being taught expected to be booed. Have you been taught as a team to expect to be booed or is that an individual view?
DANIELLE KANG: I was told personally I was going to be booed.
Q. By whom?
DANIELLE KANG: I can't tell you.
Q. It's obviously something you're thriving in, in that environment?
DANIELLE KANG: It's okay. You can boo me. Because they'll clap out there if I hit a fairway anyways. I have rowdy crowds.
Q. I'd like to know about Ally McDonald sliding into the team, how that's worked out and what your impressions have been of her as she slid into this position?
LIZETTE SALAS: We all love Ally. I mean, we're glad to have her, welcoming her with open arms, even if she wasn't going to play. She's still part of the team. And she's ready.
She's excited to step in and contribute to the team. And Stacy's obviously been a huge part. This team's stacked.
DANIELLE KANG: Well, definitely threw a curve ball, to be honest, in my personal opinion. But everybody on this team has earned their spot, I do know that.
I don't really know Ally's game very well, but I do know that I trust Juli's judgment, and I know that she's got a very, very spunky personality. And I think that will do very well with Solheim Cup. She's very positive and energetic.
And having Stacy Lewis as assistant captain really helps. She walked with us today. She was explaining the golf course to me. And I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have gotten that insight if she wasn't assistant captain.
She was explaining to me what to see around the greens, how I should approach certain shots. So I really appreciate her for talking to me about that. And I think it all happens for a reason, and gotta expect the best.
Q. Lizette, I heard that Angel has been borrowing a lot of your clothes since her bags haven't arrived. How excited are you for her to get her bags?
LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah, that's funny. She's been in my room every day trying to pick out what she could wear. I'm excited for her to get her own clothes back. But I came prepared. I have plenty of red, white and blue in my suitcase. That's what you have a teammate for.
Q. Danielle, have you ever been booed before?
DANIELLE KANG: I don't know. Maybe. I'm not sure.
Q. Are you looking forward to it in any way?
DANIELLE KANG: I don't know if they'll do it, though. So I'm not sure. Whatever happens, though, I know -- at the end of the day I don't really hear what they say, I just see the people and then the noise. So I'm just excited to hear the noise, whatever that may be.
And, plus, they have an accent, so I'm sure it's not going to even come out as b-o-o. So it's all good.
Q. Can you share your best Juli Inkster story, favorite story of how she's impacted, affected you?
DANIELLE KANG: Best Juli Inkster story. There's so many Juli Inkster stories. But I don't really have a specific story but I do know that Juli knows me very well inside and out. She's been watching my game ever since I was an amateur. She was commentating when I was winning the U.S. Women's Am. She also commentated when I was fourth at the U.S. Open. And we talked about that, how she knows I'm an aggressive player.
She knows I'm very expressive. And she doesn't try to change who I am. She likes to embrace that I have a lot of energy. So the fact that she understands the player that I am and the person that I am on and off the golf course really helps me to play for her just the way I am.
LIZETTE SALAS: Geez, there's a lot of Juli Inkster's stories. There's this one time we had a dinner in Naples about four -- right before, what, 2016. And we had a team meeting.
And I was at the bottom of the Solheim Cup standings. And I go over to her, and I said, "Captain, like, I promise I will get my stuff together." I said something else.
But she's like, "Girlfriend, you've got this. You're rock solid. I know you're going to make this team." And just the way she talks to you, the way she looks at you, just gives you that inspiration to just grind and to make the team.
So it's something that I will always remember. And to be on her team now for the third time is pretty special.
Q. Danielle, as an Englishman it pains me to say this but Scottish crowds are usually pretty knowledgeable and respectful. Is there any chance somebody's probably joking with you that you're going to get booed?
DANIELLE KANG: Yeah, it's probably a joke.
Q. Do you think you'll get booed this week?
DANIELLE KANG: No, it was a joke. Obviously, you're not taking the joke very well.
Q. Was it your caddie who was joking with you?
DANIELLE KANG: My caddie's an Englishman.
Q. Was he the one who told you?
DANIELLE KANG: No. It was a joke. (Laughter.
Q. It's a funny joke. We're just trying to find out?
DANIELLE KANG: I don't know. If they do or they don't -- you're right, Scottishmen are very respectful and honorable. And this is where the home of golf started -- this is where the home of golf is, it's where golf started, so I'm excited to see what the fans are going to be like, and I know I'm going to hear that "Oh Ley" song as well.
It's definitely going to be a different vibe from Des Moines. I do know that. There will be more Europe chants than U.S.A. chants. I can already see it. But that's the --
Q. Want to ask you if you've been doing anything away from the course to help build team spirit and getting to know each other. We heard about some of the exercises the European team have done, driving a cart blindfolded together?
DANIELLE KANG: Oh, my gosh, they drove a cart blindfolded together? No, we're not going to do that. (Laughter).
Q. Have you been working on any of that, sort of getting to know each other and being away and doing activities?
DANIELLE KANG: I think we're also chit-chatty. So, we just talk.
LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah, we don't need to go -- we're not extra.
DANIELLE KANG: I think everybody's bonding really well. We have the pod system as well. Everybody knows about that. But we're intermingling pods quite well this year. And we've got a lot of games in the player lounge, if that helps. But, yeah, we're all talkers mostly. And then the ones that like to listen just listen to the people that talk.
Q. Still games and watching box sets and things like that?
DANIELLE KANG: Sorry, what?
Q. When you are in the room, obviously playing games and things; are you watching TV as well, doing things like that?
DANIELLE KANG: No, I talk.
LIZETTE SALAS: I listen.
DANIELLE KANG: She listens.
Q. Danielle, in the 2014 Ryder Cup here, Patrick Reed did his best, fired up the crowd with his "shush" gesture. I don't know if you remember that. You talked earlier about being a loud individual, a loud character. Is that your type-A nature on the golf course? Would you be a Patrick Reed type of player in the match?
DANIELLE KANG: What did he do? Oh, he shushed the crowd. I can't shush the crowd. I like noise. I can't be shushed. I don't know how you guys would be shushed, but I like noise. You'll see me doing that.
Q. I had a chance to walk a few holes out there. Obviously enormous challenges await. What do you all see as the biggest challenges on this course?
LIZETTE SALAS: Honestly, I think just how the wind blows, how hard it's going. I think that's the biggest challenge is the wind.
DANIELLE KANG: I think the biggest challenge is to worry about your own team that you're playing at the moment with you and your partner, because like she mentioned, the golf course is not very clear. You could be a long hitter; you could be a short hitter, but neither really suits the other.
The winds are blowing all over the place. The fairways are very soft. You're not going to get much run-out. The longer hitters could have longer irons in, which they're not used to.
So I think the toughest challenge is to be patient with this weather challenge and the expectations that we have, and plus people have of U.S. retaining the Cup.
And I think that's it. I think the challenge will be just to be able to stay in the zone and stay in the moment instead of kind of freaking out what the other teammates might be doing. So patience; it's just golf.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports