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September 7, 2005

Annika Sorenstam


Q. I would like to welcome Annika Sorenstam into the interview room. This is your seventh Solheim Cup, you're the tied leading points scorer.

Would you start by telling us all how the experience is shaping up for you this week so far and how the team is coming together.

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Sure, first of all, I want to say, this is a great week to be here. This format is so different than anything we played all year. To gather all the players together and play, it's a lot of fun. This is a great golf course.

It's amazing when you tell me I have been here seven times, it's hard to believe. I'm excited to be here. This year we've got a great team. This feels like a solid team, and I think we're all looking forward to some great matches at the end of the week.

Q. Can we take some questions? And use the microphones, please.

Paula Creamer, when this thing was announced, came right out and said, "The Europeans better get ready because they're going to get beat." When you hear that, from a rookie nonetheless, what does that mean to you?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I think she's very excited to be part of the team. She has every right to be. She's played very, very well this year. She was probably speaking from her heart. They have a good team.

The atmosphere is there, and the talk is there, and now we have to just play. I think it's going to be a lot of fun. This is something she was really good about, her team, and so do we. We don't voice our opinions the way they do. Hopefully we can let our clubs do the talking.

Q. How did you like the siren out of the 10th tee?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I'm glad it was today, not Saturday or Sunday.

Q. Are you hitting a lot of woods there or mostly drivers on this golf course?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I'm mixing a little bit. I'm getting roll off the tee. This course is more about placement than distance.

There's some holes where I hit a driver just because, you know, the fairways are a little wider.

There is some par 5s I like to reach in two. I think that's what makes a good golf course. I think I've used every club in the bag so far.

Q. I saw you spend some time signing autographs. What's the response you get from fans at an event like this?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: We're getting a lot of response. A lot of great fans are here. They're very, very supportive. I think they're looking forward to some great golf. For them to come out in the practice round already yesterday and today it's wonderful to see. It's a lot of fun for a player to come out and have a practice round when you have some crowds behind you and cheer you on already three days before the event. I think we're going to have great support this week in many ways, especially from the crowds. I think it's going to be a lot of people.

Q. Are you happy with the way you performed in the earlier Solheim Cups and your stats and all that?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: You know, I don't really look at the stats very much. I do my own stats, but not this type of format. You know, I think I've done pretty well the last few years. My rookie year and the year after that, maybe I wasn't so good. I think I've improved. This is a new event, new players you play against, new golf course. Obviously, you're going to play well, but the key is to play your own game, focus on that and see how it goes. This week is really about the team.

This is an individual sport, but it's about helping the team do the best. That's really all you can do.

Q. Can you comment how your role has changed in the team throughout the years?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: My role, well, I think I've noticed it a little bit the last few times where I guess maybe I'm not really the Captain because we have Catrin. We have Laura, who's been on every Solheim, but a lot of people ask me about a few things; how would you hit this shot, et cetera. I feel a bit more respect in that way. They will ask me for my advice. It's kind of neat.

Q. Have you yourself taken a bigger part as a person in the team?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Not really. I think it's about the whole team. You've got 12 players and 12 caddies. I don't think it's good for certain players to be dominant. I like to prepare the way I do to get ready and do my best, but overall it's us and I don't want to go in there and tell them what to do or not to do. I'm here to support everyone and play the best I can.

Q. Do you find a difference the way you're playing away comparing to playing in Europe?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: It's a big difference. There is no doubt. The home crowd makes a huge difference. In Sweden I thought the atmosphere was great. Obviously we had a lot of fans pulling for us. When we come here, it's probably going to be the opposite, but that's what makes this competition so much fun. It's harder away. It's a big challenge for us, but, you know, today and yesterday the crowds were very supportive.

So, I think if we can focus on our games and not pay attention too much to where we are. If you think about it, the golf ball doesn't know which country you're in. If we look at it that way, it might be easier.

Q. Annika, in this format with a partner, is there anybody you really want to play with or you look forward to playing with this week?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, I think, you know, I get along with a lot of the players, and I think the combinations that we have this year is there is so many different combinations compared to the past. I think there is a lot of players I could play with this year. You know, in the past I played with Carin I played with Catrin. I played with Suzann, and I played with Maria. I think I can really play with anyone.

It's a matter of who wants to play with me, or if there is somebody who prefers not to play with me, I guess I'll find another one to play with.

Q. They all want to play with you.

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: You're too nice. It depends on the format. We've got alternate shot, best ball. The tricky thing for Catrin is to split us all up. We get along very well.

Q. Is it important to get a lead, and how important is the start of the match on Friday for a team and whether it's going one way or the other, how much scoreboard watching do you do?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I think it's very important to take the lead early on. You want to set the pace. You know, we've got two colors; we've got red and blue. In my case, I want to see blue up there. It's great to have the momentum on your side. It's tough to fight from behind, if you only see red.

The first few holes, the first few matches, the first day, you name it, is really the key. I think we just got to think about that when we're out there.

Q. Annika, Ludivine and Gwladys are obviously very inexperienced. Have you given them any advice?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I played with them both the last two days, and we've talked a little bit. I think the key is more to make them feel comfortable, make them feel part of the team. They're not so used to some of the players over here, and we want to welcome them and tell them that they've done well this year and they deserve to be on the team and they're a big part of the team, and they need to play their own games.

I think so far so good. They're doing great. They're both playing really good golf, and I think they're enjoying themselves very, very much. You can really tell.

Q. Annika, is there anything you do differently to prepare for match play versus medal? If so, specifically what would it be?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I think this is a format where you can be a little bit more aggressive, so when I'm out there in the practice round, I'm looking for certain holes where, "Can I hit driver here if I need to? Is there a hole where it's better to hit 4 wood."

I look at the course a little bit different in that way. Again, I think this course is there is not so many different ways to play this course. It's almost like a stroke play course. You have to be very, very accurate with the irons. The greens are tough. I don't know if I can be a lot more aggressive even if I needed to. It depends obviously on the weather and the wind. It's one of those courses, hit the fairway and hit the greens. You can't really overpower this place or cut corners.

Q. What about mental preparation for the opponent piece of match play?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I think golf is a mental sport in general. Then you add match play, and you have to find a balance between playing your game and watching your opponent. It's anything can happen.

We've seen shots in the past where you chip in or you hold a bunker shot or hold full shots. You have to be prepared for anything, and that's why I think it makes it so unique. You can play Steady Eddy, which is normally my game, but I've got to make some birdies this week.

Q. I have a two part question. First, how is your role or your experience or whatever you want to call it different? The last time you were the world's best player and you were playing the Solheim Cup for the first time in your native country, and now you're here in America. Did you feel more responsibility?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: For me, it's like we're a team here. We were a team in Sweden. I didn't really feel I had a bigger role last time. We had Catrin as a Captain over in Sweden. I think that was important, but as a player, it didn't really feel to me it didn't matter what country you were from.

I did feel a role to be there for the players, and obviously I think it's important for me to play well and set the tone. Other than that, it's a team event. If they need me, I'm there. I try to do the best I can to be there for everyone.

Q. Secondly, do you think it's important or how important might it be do you think for Europe to finally win in the US as it relates to the interest and importance for the Solheim Cup?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, personally I think the interest is already there. I don't think, you know, Europe winning over the US is going to make a big difference in that aspect. I think the media coverage we're getting this year, I think the players are getting I mean, just the buzz that we have is huge already.

I mean, yeah, it's going to be important for us to show them that we can play over here and beat a strong team on their home soil. That would mean a lot for us. But competition wise, this tournament has gotten a lot of recognition the last few years. We're starting to get the history. That's just it's already there. This is just another year with great golf and some great excitement, and that's what I look forward to.

Q. Annika, to follow up on Doug's question we know how much you focus on the major championships during the year. How important is this event to you personally?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: To me, personally, I love being apart of it. You know, this is not a week where I say "I would like to win the Solheim Cup." It's tough for me to set a goal like that because this is a team event.

I like to come here and be prepared as I can. I worked with my coach for a week before I got here. I'm really doing everything I can to play well. It's something you want to be a part of. It's a great week in so many aspects. Obviously the golf, the camaraderie, golf course, everything, you don't want to miss. That's what I look forward to every other year.

Q. Annika, have you ever been to the Indianapolis area before and what do you know about this part of the country?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: To be honest, I don't know very much about this area. I've never really been here. I have been looking forward to coming here. I've heard a lot of good things about this golf course. They had The Open I believe in '93. For me to come here and experience it is pretty neat, but, you know, I wish I would have time to see some things in the area, but it seems like all we see is the hotel, golf course and back to the hotel.

So, when I leave, I'm not sure I will know anything more about it than what I did when I got here.

Q. Annika, playing with a group as you are with a team is not really, according to your personality, is it? I mean, from an on golf course perspective and kind of a solitary person, is that fair to say? And how do you enjoy being part of the team when golf is such a solo sport?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, I like I said earlier, I love this. This is something I look forward to every other year. I don't really know how to handle your question. I know I'm an individualist, and this is an individual game, and I love what I do, but I think I have some qualities when it comes to a team as well that you might not have seen, but this is fun. I love it.

This is all about sharing and experiencing something together. Like I said, this is something I don't want to miss.

Q. Do you have any more questions? Okay. Thank you, Annika.

End of FastScripts.

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