September 15, 1998
KIRSTEN SEABORG: Since today was the first round of practice, do any of you guys want to comment on how the course plays? I don't know how many times you've played in the past. Do you want to start?
BRANDIE BURTON: First time playing the golf course. We were -- we were warned -- I guess -- I don't know if that's the word or not -- that the course would run very fast, and that it did. I found that it was very important to position yourself in the fairways to have a good shot into the pins. Greens were rolling pretty good. I think they will be cut down much more as the week goes on. But pretty much, I think it's laid out right in front of us. You know, I think the big importance is to be able to set yourself up properly on the hole.
KELLY ROBBINS: I would agree. No, Brandie is right. The tee shots are crucial. You need to No. 1 get the ball in play and that's what, you know, we tried to figure out today as far as what club would putt us in the right positions there. Again, just for the proper angle to the pins, the opportunities or the possibilities that are out there for the greens. We just worked that way. I think most of us practiced around the greens and in the areas that we could in that we wouldn't like to be in just made sure that we hit the shots we needed to. Overall, the greens are in good shape. As Brandie mentioned, I probably do see them getting a little faster and maybe a little firmer, probably, depending on how much weather we get the next couple of days. We'll just have to see how the conditions are. Overall, the course is in great shape. Hopefully, we all can pull the ball in play and hit the greens and give us a lot of opportunities.
Q. Have you played here before?
KELLY ROBBINS: Yes, I did. I played -- I think it was about 3 years ago, I believe. 3 or 4 years ago.
CHRIS JOHNSON: I came in between a couple of tournaments when we were playing in Ohio, so I played the Tuesday before Youngstown and I was able to play the course then. It wasn't rolling quite as much as it is now. It's a little faster and that's what the -- played with someone in the pro shop and he said it would be a little faster and it is. It's not overly hard or anything, but it makes you think a little bit. You've got to put it in the right spot. There were some spots -- we did find some spots where you don't want to be here and there are some generous areas in the fairway, but then sometimes you want to be on one side of the fairway or the other.
KIRSTEN SEABORG: Does anyone have any questions?
Q. The 7 and 15 are the short par 5s that the men traditionally like to go after. Are they set up so you have a chance to get to those par 5s?
KELLY ROBBINS: I didn't today. Again, it's just probably going to depend on how much the course dries out. This morning, it was wet, so it did play longer. I remember the last time I played here, I think 15 was -- I could go for it -- and I actually could go for 11, too -- and I wasn't even close today. I mean, I just had no chance and the wind was coming at us on both of those holes. So personally, it's just probably going to depend on how the course -- if it does dry out, if you hit the best two shots or the best two shots that could possibly put you in a position to choose to go for it. I don't know about you guys.
BRANDIE BURTON: If you can't reach them, Kelly, we can't.
CHRIS JOHNSON: On 15, we couldn't get up on top of the hill. And then the wind picked up right around -- pretty much in our face -- around that time for us and so it was in our face. So, 15 there wasn't even -- there wasn't even a thought. On 7, for me, I had 250 to the front and then once I got up there, my caddie, Rob, said that we had 238 to this point because there is a little -- I don't know -- little bit of fairway up there and 238 wouldn't have been too bad. Depending on the pin, that might be a place that you could maybe hit 3-wood. Whether you can make it or not, depending on what your partner is doing in a best ball thing, then the best ball play. But otherwise, it's just not set up necessarily where they're making it easy for us on those holes.
Q. Some of these bunkers here at MUIRFIELD VILLAGE are among the deepest on the PGA TOUR. Did you guys practice a lot of these and how crucial is it going to be short game this week as opposed to any other week? Is it going to be even more crucial?
KELLY ROBBINS: Like you say, it is crucial every week. But there are certain parts, I think, on the golf course that a bunker wouldn't be bad, depending on where the pin is. And then there are parts you don't want to be in. The good thing is they were all very consistent. Not a variety of depth to them as far as the sand in the bunker themselves, which I think is very advantageous for us because there is some consistency there. Again, I'm sure we all dropped balls in areas where certain pins could be located if we missed a shot. We could have a pretty tough shot here and there.
BRANDIE BURTON: A lot of downhill -- bunker shots that there is no way, no matter how much spin you've got on the ball, you're going to be able to stop it. I don't think it's so much the deepness of the bunkers, but a lot of bunkers if you hit it in, you're hitting a way away from the hole.
CHRIS JOHNSON: Brandie, you got in that bunker on 16. I could barely see your header. How was that?
BRANDIE BURTON: Uphill.
CHRIS JOHNSON: See, the deepness of the bunkers are the uphill shots so they are easier than some of the shallow downhill bunkers that we tackled today.
Q. I don't know how often the LPGA players play on courses that hold a PGA TOUR event. Would you like to each comment on what that is like or any observations that you might have on that?
BRANDIE BURTON: I don't think there's another place that we play where the PGA tour has played, either.
CHRIS JOHNSON: Tuscon. They played Randolph a couple of years.
BRANDIE BURTON: Obviously, the MEMORIAL is very prestigious for the men here. And by being in here, is pretty incredible for us. I don't know what else to say.
KELLY ROBBINS: That sounds good. I think like Brandie said, anytime -- just being, I think, at Muirfield Village, just the tradition that is here and just for golf itself and then knowing that, like Brandie said, the pretigiousness -- is that a word -- of having the men play here also is -- you know, I mean, it's been great. It's already a great experience and I've play on the course before. Knew what we were getting into. And it's even better than we expected. Just from what they've done here, it's totally a fan favorite as far as advantage points and that type of thing. It's just a perfect setup for a golf tournament. That's why they have it and it's been great enjoyment. I think that's about all I have to say, too.
CHRIS JOHNSON: I think the best part, too, -- even last night, the volunteers that took us on our parade over to KROGER and back that they all knew exactly what to do. Everyone has been -- we're coming into a golf course for a first time event. SOLHEIM has not been here before. And the volunteers are experienced and everything is set up because a tournament has been here; so we're getting the benefit of the experience of tournament play. The course is wonderful and just the experience of having a greens superintendent and a committee that's used to preparing a golf course for a tournament.
Q. How do you feel about this team? It seems to be more of a veteran team than in years past. The fact that you played when you were 20 years old the first time -- ?
BRANDIE BURTON: Yeah.
Q. Is that feasible now to have someone that young, do you think, on a team like this?
BRANDIE BURTON: Oh, I think so. I mean, for example, look at Se Ri. Obviously, she is not eligible to be in the SOLHEIM. There's so many great players on tour that they're calling me old at 26 and that's pretty scary. I think it's very feasible for a young player to be out here. We have so many players with so much experience that can handle the pressure situations that -- I don't see it -- I don't think we have.
KELLY ROBBINS: There is no fear.
BRANDIE BURTON: No fear out on the tour anymore.
KELLY ROBBINS: They don't know enough to know any better kind of thing.
BRANDIE BURTON: I have more fear now than I did then.
KELLY ROBBINS: It was easier when we were younger.
Q. Do you feel you can cut loose on your emotions at a tournament like this when it is hole-by-hole and you're with a teammate?
BRANDIE BURTON: I think, actually, we modify our emotions, maybe, a little more. We show maybe a little more excitement to one another, but sometimes the tension gets so extreme out there that you're kind of holding on trying to keep yourself together. I don't think we let it flow out. That's what I feel.
KELLY ROBBINS: There is a little added -- I think having a team -- playing even with a partner, I should say -- the pressure is just -- I mean, can you handle yourself missing a shot or missing a putt that you think is pretty makeable. To feel like you've let down the person you're playing with and that's one thing we try to tell everybody early. Did you try to miss it? No. Put a good stroke it and see what we can do. We get more excited when good things happen, but as far as individually, I think you're grinding probably more than ever. But there's nothing better than making the shot when needed or watching your -- having your partner do it. I mean, it's just -- there's emotions that are just hard to explain to anybody until you've experienced them. So it was a very unique situation.
Q. Kelly, what was -- you keep saying that you have played here before. Was that in a specialty event?
KELLY ROBBINS: THREE TOUR CHALLENGE, the one in December.
Q. Kelly, I've read some stuff this year where you've kind of struggled. You finished No. 1 in the point standings and I just wondered if you could give us a little capsule --
KELLY ROBBINS: I did that? I got them all last year. Thank God.
Q. Can you describe your year in two minutes, maybe, or something like that?
KELLY ROBBINS: Sure. That's fine. You know, it was -- I think I really -- I don't know if you can ever put your finger on the exact reasons why you go through a struggle because I hadn't really done it yet. This game has been so good to me and for about 6 years it was probably some of the best years that I've had and obviously coming off the year last year, expectations go up a little bit. Not only yours but everybody around you as well. I just felt like I never got the hang of what I was supposed to be doing this year, basically, for whatever reason. I worked even harder than what I had in the past and probably proved not maybe the thing to do. I think I played a little bit more. My weeks off I didn't really take off, I kept practicing. It kind of snowballed a little bit. After a while, I think I believe I just maybe lost some confidence on the golf course and I wasn't doing the things that I had been doing for years. I wasn't maybe getting up-and-down when I needed to and the momentum just -- I wasn't feeling it during the times when I needed to. Why? I don't know. I really don't know. But it happened and I think I've learned a lot. What's great about this game is it always changes. You just can't let it get to you. That was my main goal this year, I think, was I just was not going to let it get to me. Keep doing it because it's what I'm supposed to be doing and keep with it because I knew that the momentum was going to change and certain -- the good things were going to start happening again.
Q. After last year, did you keep the same equipment and everything as far as --
KELLY ROBBINS: Actually, I did -- I actually did for about 3 months and then I was like, okay, let's do something different. So I just went to a different iron. Same -- I play Titleist and just went through from the cavity-back DCI to their blade. This didn't do me any good. I was like common it's not me, right. Finally, I guess about a month ago I just put everything back in the bag and just went -- I kept the blades in just because I felt that my iron game has been fine. I put my putter back. Drivers always been the same. I just went back to square one and just restarted and fortunately have played a little better. I still am not -- wasn't scoring the last few weeks how I'd like to, but I was getting the ball in the greens. It was amazing how when things are going bad you think you get every bad break in the book and I haven't been the luckiest of people lately, but that's okay. I can't get much worse, so it's bound to change. Last week I had a lot of good things happen to me. So I'm looking for a good rest this fall after this week and just kind of regroup and get ready for next year.
Q. How would you rate your confidence level coming into this week, scale of 1 to 10?
KELLY ROBBINS: It's higher than I think what a lot of people think. It's right around an 8 or 9 even. Probably the only thing I'm not doing -- and I never do -- I don't think any of us ever make enough putts -- it seems like you can always make more putts. But I'm giving myself a lot of opportunities and I give my partner a lot of opportunities and we'll go from there. If I can just keep rolling the ball well. I'm very happy to the greens so that's where things start, especially for us this week. Hopefully, that'll come through for me.
Q. For any one of you, has Judy -- did she talk to any of you last night or this morning about pairingS she's thinking about or people she wants you to get comfortable with?
KELLY ROBBINS: No, she wasn't. I don't know if she did last time, either.
BRANDIE BURTON: Basically wanted us to go out today and get a feel for the golf course. Not worry about who we were going to be paired with. Sometimes you get kind of caught up with who your partner is going to be rather than focusing on how the golf course is going to be played and how you would approach it. So she was just wanted us to go out and get a feel for the course. She might have some ideas tonight or whatever. We might try some kind of combinations tomorrow during practice round, on Thursday as well. For right now, we're just trying to get used to the golf course.
Q. Does this golf course lend itself because of it's demands, lend itself to any different complications than you've traditionally played in the last few CUPS that may have popped into your mind in the last day or so?
KELLY ROBBINS: Well, personally, no, not really. You know, when I played on my first team was at the GREENBRIER and JoAnne paired us opposite games for the most part. I think she tried to pair opposite games for the alternate shot and maybe the best ball. I don't know. And then last year, Judy put people with similar games together which obviously they both worked. But I don't think there's been anything -- I don't think being the golf course she'll do anything unusual that way. I have an idea she probably knows more of who is playing with who than we do, obviously. She has been thinking about it for a while and she has her little charts out there somewhere and all her information in that secret folder. I don't think the golf course will have -- I think she knew what she was getting into when she had her team and who was going to be where.
Q. This event is still fairly young. How has it grown in prestige and stature between the players and the fans over the years?
BRANDIE BURTON: Well, it's just gone on the up and up. I've been in the last four. I missed the first one because I wasn't out on tour yet. My first one was at DALMAHOY and it had prestige, but when we went to GREENBRIER, it was just -- it was like it doubled and then Wales it tripled and now here, it's just unbelievable. I think -- we're not to where the RYDER CUP is, obviously, but it's definitely boosted women's golf. There is no question. And as far as fans in the gallery, the emphasis on this event is so big and I think it's just so great to see the love that everybody has for this game and the competition that we're going to be going against in Europe -- and Europe against the U.S.. I just see it getting bigger and it's so exciting to be here and be a part of it.
Q. We haven't talked about the Europeans. If you would just give us your idea of -- to me it would seem strange to play against these women throughout the season for the most part, the players on their team. I wonder if there is any different feeling now that you're against each other as teams and if you could discuss that.
KELLY ROBBINS: You know, Chris, why don't you talk?
CHRIS JOHNSON: I'm having a good time.
KELLY ROBBINS: Go ahead.
CHRIS JOHNSON: The only thing I noticed is that when I was putting this morning and I was one of the last -- I was the last U.S. players to tee off and we had kind of comandeered the lower green and so they were on the upper green. We did not mix on the putting green this morning. (Laughs).
KELLY ROBBINS: That was good.
CHRIS JOHNSON: So, really, we've been so busy with our own thing, we are we've just been so separated because they have -- we had to do the parades and we're all lined up by team that so far we've been really pretty separated. There really hasn't been any bantering or much going on. They came to the range and they were on one side and we were on the other side, so there is not so much the taking a spot every other one or anything. So we're kind of doing our team thing when we're practicing. For the most part there hasn't been much contact because we've been so busy.
Q. They didn't try to stare you down on the putting green, did they?
CHRIS JOHNSON: They may have. I just didn't notice (Laughs).
BRANDIE BURTON: It's kind of funny. We make a joke, but it ends up happening. I was talking to Laura and it happens every time. The Sunday prior to the SOLHEIM CUP, we say: Hello, how are you? I'll talk to you next Monday. We can't talk to you anymore. We'll talk to you after the week. It's like you go from team against team and then -- when Monday comes along, it's like we're just back to normal.
KELLY ROBBINS: Exactly.
BRANDIE BURTON: Funny funny.
KELLY ROBBINS: It's amazing.
BRANDIE BURTON: We joke about it, but it definitely happens.
KELLY ROBBINS: It's such a unique thing. These girls are our friends. We play with them week in and week out and compete against them and then all of a sudden it's okay. It's so understood what we do here. It makes it easier because of the respect we all have as individuals and as players. We all know what it takes to be here this week and it's just really -- well, just -- it's really an honor to play for our countries and we understand that and we all go out -- each year their team gets stronger so it's just great to see that all of those foreign players, obviously the Europeans that we're speaking of now -- actually come to our tour to play. I think that says about our tour and they know where the best competition is and they come over to the States to find that and it just says a lot for the tour. And then to have an event like this makes it fun for awful us being in an individual sport to actually root for these guys is neat. I've never cheered for anybody harder in my life.
Q. What would you assess we might expect -- I want to say character or what would you say -- what might you expect to be the defining characteristic of the European team? You know all of those players. What could you tell us about that.
BRANDIE BURTON: That's a good question.
KELLY ROBBINS: Defining characteristic?
BRANDIE BURTON: I think it's all -- I mean, with technology nowadays, everybody hits the ball long. Obviously, Laura separates herself a little bit from the rest of us. So distance is not an issue.
KELLY ROBBINS: Maybe just their consistency of talent. They all seem to be very solid. I mean, you've got your Neumanns, your Sorenstam, your Davies. As far as world play, they're three of the best players in the world -- and if I'm missing someone, please help me.
BRANDIE BURTON: They're all great players.
KELLY ROBBINS: Now, there's just no -- they're all just becoming so good, their consistency of play. Before you could look down a list and find a weakness, if that means anything, and now there just isn't one. There is none out there.
Q. One of the stories that was kind of highlighted by Pia's selections a few weeks ago was the strength of Swedish golf and I imagine it's probably something you people have talked about on tour from time to time among yourselves. I wondered if any or all of you -- Pia made a statement I think she could bring 12 Swedes over this week and be competitive. What are your thoughts about why they're good?
CHRIS JOHNSON: That really came into play a lot at the beginning of the year. Helen won twice pretty early and Lotta won and they were -- and then Annika is always up there. So they -- the press -- I was in the press room at one tournament and it was like, what Swedish contingents? So it's been going on, especially at the beginning of the year, and I think what they -- they've done is they just have some -- I think that's what we're trying to do with our LPGA Junior Golf Programs because if you can organize juniors and teach them fundamentals to enjoy the game, then there's going to be some people that come out of those programs that really enjoy playing and they want to do it and they have had the training. And I think that there's some wonderful training and I don't know if Pia is instrumental in getting some of the players to come over to college or not.
BRANDIE BURTON: I believe so. I'm not positive, but I believe she's involved in the Federation.
CHRIS JOHNSON: She brought -- she played at ASU when I was playing at U of A and Charlotte Montgomery, who is helping out the team also. They were both there. So they were some of the first, and then I'm sure they've helped some other players to come over and our college golf programs are so strong that it's a really good place to hone those skills.
Q. What do the Swedes have for any of you that have gone down to the wire with Annika or Liselotte or anybody? Is this mental toughness or what characterizes them?
KELLY ROBBINS: Seems to be a little of everything. They're just -- they just -- you know, like Chris said, they obviously have been -- I don't know if you want to say trained or taught to get the job done, period. I think a lot of them, if they have a weakness, they realize it and whether it's just overall strength or -- which I don't even know if that happens anymore -- whatever that weaknesses if they know they can do something, if their game can't handle a certain situation or shot that they just don't do it and they put themselves in a position where they can get the job done. I don't think -- they don't seem to make too many mistakes. I don't know if that has to do with course management or what have you. For some reason, I'm sure they call -- you hear of the Swedish tempers and I don't know -- a few of you may have seen Helen do her little number every once in a while. But she has probably been visually the only Swede that I've seen lately to come out with that type.
BRANDIE BURTON: They're usually even keel.
KELLY ROBBINS: Very level-headed. You'd never know what was going on and that, obviously, has a great deal to do with it.
KELLY ROBBINS: I played over in Sweden this year and Liselotte has an outing that a few of us were at on one of the Mondays and they had some of the junior Swedish girls hitting. And Lotta is not from a big town at all in Sweden; so I don't know where these girls are coming from -- I don't know, from Guttenberg or what -- and that was a good trip, too, if they did. They couldn't have been more than 12, 13 years old and they were hitting on the range and Laura is saying: I'm going to be captain of those girls one of these days for THE SOLHEIM CUP. There is a lot of good things going on over there in Sweden or women's golf and we're all feeling it.
Q. This is for, I guess, Kelly and Brandie. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about your experience with Judy as a captain. Does she give you guys a lot of freedom or is she more of a micro manager?
BRANDIE BURTON: She gives us freedom, but she also -- everything is right there. She sets up everything. She makes sure that she talks to each individual a lot to know how you're feeling, make sure she is pairing you with the right person. She is very concerned with taking care of your individual needs, that everything is set, that you're comfortable. I think that's a big plus. Big advantage. If something is wrong, she wants to know it. She wants to make it right. This is your week. You need to be most comfortable with yourself and be prepared to play. She is very concerned with that and she doesn't -- she is not demanding. We have a lot of laughs, a lot of jokes, a lot of little cartoons or something on the wall, little trinkets that we have in our team room. We have a light side and then we have a serious side. But it's more on the light side. It makes everybody feel like family and really some team unity happening this week.
Q. Can you think of any stories of your last experience with her and maybe describe some of that?
KELLY ROBBINS: Besides the fact that she thought she was going to faint about all day on Sunday. I didn't --
BRANDIE BURTON: We always make fun of her because you can tell when she is stressing. Just calm down everything is going to be okay. Most of our stories were because of players -- we had something going on with our clothing or something and people were getting nicknames. That's where all our jokes came from. There really wasn't a story that she would tell in particular. She did have a couple of quotes for us in the morning before we played. Something to do with a duck one day. Now we've got an animal as -- a duck sitting on our mantle.
KELLY ROBBINS: Occasion jokes. You've got to be there.
BRANDIE BURTON: Insider stuff. Serious stories or anything like that, there really isn't any.
KIRSTEN SEABORG: Any other questions?
Q. Just curious how much input she let's you guys have as far as pairings or does she leave it up to you? And also, for Brandie and Kelly, having played before, does your experience help you be less nervous or do you find yourselves just as nervous as the first time?
KELLY ROBBINS: Probably just as anxious every time to find ourselves competing in this kind of event. I don't think that ever goes away and if it does, we probably shouldn't be playing. What was other part of the question?
Q. How much input does she let you have as far as pairing?
KELLY ROBBINS: Fortunately, with all the girls on the team, we all get along great. There is no personality conflicts or anything like that, which obviously -- I don't know if that makes her job easier or harder. But she -- like Brandie says, she pays such individual attention to each of us, she makes sure: Can I do anything for you? Who do you want to play with, is there anyone you don't want to play with. She just goes from there.
BRANDIE BURTON: In the end, she is the prime decision maker of who the pairings will be.
KIRSTEN SEABORG: One more question. Jerry?
Q. We were talking about the Swedish players. A lot of us remember Lotta -- I guess she was the first player to come over here and win -- won the U.S. OPEN. I think since then some other players have surpassed her. Could you comment about her skills and her contribution to the overall Swedish program from your perspective, Kelly?
BRANDIE BURTON: Obviously, her record backs herself up. What she has done. When she won the U.S. OPEN, I think it was at Baltimore, Five Farms in '89 --
Q. '88, I think.
BRANDIE BURTON: That was my first OPEN. I was 16 years old. I'll never forget. Mark was caddying for her, then, too, and right after that, I mean, she just took off. My first year on tour was '91. But I don't know -- I think maybe the Swedish contingency kind of looks to her as the British contingency looks to Laura. I think even though Annika is Annika Annika. What else can you say about Annika other than she has won four times this year and could repeat player of the year again and all that stuff. I think in the end Lotta has been the sole leader in that whole situation. When you talk about level headedness and coolness, I mean, she is No. 1 at that. She'll sneak up out of right field on you at any point. You just never count her out.
KELLY ROBBINS: I agree with Brandie. I think, obviously, she might get overlooked a little bit, but I don't think she minds at all. She's just goes out and does her job and, again, like Brandie said, you'd never know if she was shooting 80 or 60. There's just -- her disposition on the course speaks for itself and, again, what she has done for the tour. I think we're pretty lucky to have someone like her on our tour. Not only do we enjoy her play, but obviously she has a lot of fans over here, too, in the United States, that come and watch her yearly.
Q. Kelly, you've been around her at various other functions in other her home country. Is she the same away from golf as you describe her in golf?
KELLY ROBBINS: Yeah, you know, all she has got to do is put on that smile and they just love her. I don't know they might love her more in Japan. I'm not sure. But they just love their Lotta. They just -- they know -- like Brandie said -- probably they put her where the Swedish programs are today as far as her starting that and giving them more opportunities than they could probably ever ask for and Annika has only added to that. Yeah, Lotta is what you see is what you get and you don't usually find her in too many other situations doing anything much different.
Q. Is she still bigger than Annika in Sweden from what you could gauge when you were there?
KELLY ROBBINS: I don't know if I can go that far, but I think just as -- well, see, during the tournament, it was hard to tell. I mean, people were following the leader and Annika was playing so great anyway, that type of thing. But as far as where I was in the day that she had for her fund-raising and her fund day which is out in nowhere, she probably still got 115-- 15, 2,000 people which is amazing. We played a 9 hole Skins game after a PRO-AM deal and these people were there the whole day, they loved it. You could just feel them rooting for her. It was really neat.
Q. This was in Fingspan?
BRANDIE BURTON: Yes, it was. Annika is just such a -- I don't know. Just, wow. The level where she is right now is pretty amazing. I don't know how I'd rate that, though, as far as who is bigger. I'm not going to say anything. I'll get in trouble.
KIRSTEN SEABORG: Thank you all very much. Good luck this week.
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