August 28, 2005
NANCY LOPEZ: I want to welcome everyone here today. I know everybody has tried to pick my brain as who I'm going to pick as the 11th and 12th player on the Solheim Cup. These players have played so hard the last two years. And of course, you know 10 of them have earned their way by making it with the point system that we've had over the last two years, and I am to choose two today.
It's been a lot of fun for me these last two years, being with these players, getting to know them. And of course, I wish I had 15 members on my team. I had to turn away three players last night and this morning, and it was very, very hard because they didn't do anything wrong, I just couldn't choose them all. It's been very, very tough for me in that respect, for sure, and I know tough for them.
I know how they feel because there were a couple of times I wasn't chosen for two Solheim Cups, and it's heart breaking because you know how hard you work and you feel like you deserve to be on the team.
But it's great that it's come to the decision here at the Wendy's Championship for Children where all these great U.S. players have played so hard. I'm so proud of every one of you guys. You've done a great, great job. Especially in this tournament, I was so proud to see all those Americans on that leaderboard. That was awesome.
The Solheim Cup is so special. And as I played in one, in 1990, the very first, there's so much pride involved in the Solheim Cup when you're playing for your country, but also playing as a team when golf is such an individual support.
But my chest was busting out of my shirt when I teed off on that first hole at the Solheim Cup because it's such a great thrill to represent your country. And I know each one of these players feels that same way.
With that, I am pleased and proud to announce the 2005 U.S. Solheim Cup team. First, Cristie Kerr, Meg Mallon, LPGA Tour and World Golf Hall of Fame member, Juli Inkster. I got chills. This is great. Rosie Jones, Pat Hurst, Natalie Gulbis, Christina Kim, Paula Creamer, Michele Redman, Laura Diaz. And my captain's pick for 2005 are Dottie Pepper (laughter). I know you know I was going to do that, Dottie.
My 2005 picks are Wendy Ward, and LPGA Tour Golf Hall of fame member, Beth Daniel.
We've got a great team. We have practiced together, hung out together, and I think that we have one of the strongest team, bonding wise, as much as game wise as we'll ever have, I believe, on the U.S. Solheim Cup team.
Wendy Ward, when I decided to pick her, she has played on two Solheim Cup teams, this being her third. She has shown me that she can play under pressure, with the kind of pressure she has to deal with in the Solheim Cup, and this year has played very well. She is a four time winner on the Tour, including this year's LPGA Takefuji Classic. I told you she was a two time Foreign Cup player, and she finished a few months ago, very well, in the match play event. So I know she's ready for match play.
Beth Daniel, she finished 15th in points. But how can you have a Solheim Cup team without Beth Daniel. She is a great competitor. She's played so well, and I know that the time that she's spent on trying to find a Commissioner for the LPGA, she was dedicated to that and I know that took a lot of her time and probably took her mind away from golf for a while. Because I know when she does her job, she puts her whole heart and soul into it. So I know now she's ready to be with the team and go with her heart and soul to the Solheim Cup. And she looks good in Liz Golf.
This team has all the experience we need to win the Solheim Cup. We've got young players who are so enthusiastic and I think they're really going to keep us going. And then you've got the veterans to help them along if they have any problems with pressure. But I don't think that's going to happen.
Nine of the 12 players have Solheim Cup experience. Nine of the players have played in at least two Solheim Cups. Five members have played five or more times. And there's a total of 37 years of Solheim Cup experience among these players. That's pretty astounding and great.
The U.S. team, Solheim Cup team, has never lost on home soil, and I look forward to leading the team and winning the Cup back in 2005.
I want a few players to make comments before we open up for questions, because I'm sure some of you have questions. First of all, I'd like for Beth Daniel to come up and say a few words. And I don't know if you knew you were going to do that, Beth.
BETH DANIEL: Thanks, Nancy. No, I did not know I was going to be asked to speak, but I usually don't have a problem with that. It's an absolute thrill for me to be picked as a Captain's Choice by Nancy. We have played Curtis Cup together and we've played a Solheim Cup together and I'm really looking forward to her being my captain for this Solheim Cup.
What a team. I look at these 11 other players, I'm so excited to be their teammates. They are fantastic personalities, they play fantastic golf and it's going to be a very exciting week. I'm really looking forward to it, you guys. So I just say Go USA!
NANCY LOPEZ: Next, I want Wendy Ward to get up and say a few words, if she doesn't mind.
WENDY WARD: Well, I echo Beth's thoughts in that this is a thrill, it's an honor to play for your country. And you guys probably haven't a chance to be inside the ropes with these ladies, but we have had so much fun preparing for this week coming up and Pat Hurst and I have side bets all the time, and we're looking forward to turning that around and taking out the Europeans and bringing that Cup back here where it belongs. Thank you.
NANCY LOPEZ: Paula Creamer is the TOUR rookie on the team, but she's not the only rookie, as we have a great player, Natalie Gulbis and Christina Kim, but Paula is also is a 2005 LPGA Tour Rookie. She becomes the first Tour rookie to make the Solheim Cup team. Of course Paula, I'd like for you to get up and say something.
PAULA CREAMER: I guess I have to do whatever she says now, so I have to talk. I am so excited to be able to wear red, white, and blue with the best players in the world standing next to me. It's going to be so much fun and so exciting. All I can say is that they better get ready, because they're going to get beat. I'm laying it down. I'm very confident and I know we have a good team and the best captain that anyone can have. What are you talking about? You don't want to win? Come on.
We'll all play our best and our hardest and it's going to be a truly memorable week. And I'll take every memory with it and I'm ready for some new ones. So let's go USA.
NANCY LOPEZ: It would not be right if I did not ask Cristie Kerr to get up and say something. She's, of course, the No. 1 in points in Solheim Cup points, she's a tremendous competitor. And as you saw, she won today. With eight Top 10s this year well, nine Top 10s now, including a win at the Michelob Ultra Open.
Cristie led all players in the U.S. Solheim Cup qualifying points, so I'd like Cristie to get up here and tell us what you're thinking, Cristie.
CRISTIE KERR: Well, I don't think there's really much else to say. Congratulations to everybody who made the team, including the Captain's Picks. I think we've all worked very hard for this. We can all agree this is the most chemistry of any team I've been on in now this is the third time on the team. And I'm so excited to have the chance to play with them and to do my best and wear the red, white, and blue as bright as we can wear it.
And congratulations, Paula. As a rookie, I don't think people know how difficult that is. I think she's the first rookie in history to make the team. Very impressive. Here's Natalie Gulbis.
NATALIE GULBIS: Again, we are just so excited to have the opportunity to play for our country. And it's going to be a great week. It's going to be a lot of great sportsmanship. We're going to hold our head up high and just carry the flag. Thank you very much.
NANCY LOPEZ: Like I said before, being a part of this team is tremendous. And I know each one of these players will take this event in their heart and they will carry it the whole week of the Solheim Cup with them. I know there are going to be. Some questions, if you would like to ask them now, well try and answer those.
Q. Would the fact that you're going back to Crooked Stick to practice for a second time be an indication how serious you are about this whole enterprise?
NANCY LOPEZ: Definitely. I feel That practicing the course makes my players feel more comfortable, not just with the golf course but with each other and what they are going to share and how they bond when we go and play these practice rounds.
I think the first two times we played there it was great. I felt a lot of good feelings. And as we walked away from there, I felt a closeness. As I said, golf, it's such an individual sport, but in the Solheim Cup you have to bond as a team. And as one of the players said, there is a lot of great chemistry on this team, and I think we're thinking of each other's feelings and we're always going to work hard to be there for each other. And I think that's very important to be able to win any kind of team event, especially the Solheim Cup.
Q. Will foursomes be the order of the day tomorrow, and might you even establish some pairings before tomorrow?
NANCY LOPEZ: We're going to play alternate shot again, because I think that's where we're the weakest. But last time I think the players were comfortable. I paired them with someone, not necessarily who they were going to play with, so they can get to know each other's games. They may come up to me and say, I really enjoyed playing with that player, I think we work well together, and I might use that as a team.
Q. When did you tell Wendy and Beth and the other three?
NANCY LOPEZ: Am I supposed to lie to you or tell you the truth?
Q. The truth.
NANCY LOPEZ: I didn't tell them until this morning, but I had to tell the other three, and of course it was very, very difficult and very disappointing and very sad. Those players deserve to be on this team, too.
Q. I was wondering, when you said yesterday that you had pretty much made up your mind, today wasn't going to matter, did this week matter in your decision? How far back did you go to actually say these are probably my two?
NANCY LOPEZ: I think it mattered to an extent, but I wasn't really waiting to see who finished the tournament and that they would win. It was more points, how they were going to fall in points, and if it changed, and who I was looking at making my decision. I think pretty much they had to play well too, this event, for me to see what was going to happen. If someone would have won maybe that was in the 15, I really wasn't sure which way I was leaning, because it was very, very equal, it was very tough, that maybe it might have. But I wasn't closing my mind out to that, and because of that I didn't really make that decision until yesterday afternoon who I was going to choose.
Q. Do you have an alternate?
NANCY LOPEZ: We don't have alternates anymore in the Solheim Cup. If a player becomes ill in the matches, if they didn't start the match, of course, I would put someone in to take her spot. On Sunday, if somebody is sick we lose the point.
Q. I think there was a hope you still might be able to take an alternate.
NANCY LOPEZ: I would like love to do that. But it's hard for that player, too, to be an alternate, because now she's sitting there waiting and wanting to be on the team, and it's hard when she's there also.
Q. Can you tell us a little bit more about the bonding sessions you've had, other than the practice rounds themselves? Cristie Kerr has already mentioned a little wine, in her post round interview. What other things beyond the practice sessions themselves have you orchestrated to try to get the team to bond more?
NANCY LOPEZ: Well, the team, there were a few players that had never played together. You don't really know a player until you're really playing with them and get to know them. I think we're all like that. You might see somebody that you like but you're not sure because you don't know what they're all about. And once you get them on the golf course, you're going to know a lot about a person once you get them on the golf course.
I felt like when we had that practice session I got a lot out of that from the players, because they told me, I've never played with her, and I wasn't sure I'd like playing with her, not in a bad way, but just wasn't comfortable with the game. And walked away saying, you know, I felt good with her, I was comfortable, I enjoyed it. That was good. You're learning each other, because when you're out here individually you don't get to sit down with each other and spend that time together. Some people have early tee times, some have late. You may never see them. It's for us to get comfortable with each other.
Q. Considering what Paula just said, do you regret letting a rookie say a few words?
NANCY LOPEZ: No. She's awesome, she's pumped up. I love it. We want that. You did good, Paula.
Q. I'm the only European here. Can you just tell me what you think of the European team?
NANCY LOPEZ: The European team will be strong. I know they have always bonded well. I was a little surprised they did not pick Liselotee Neumann, because she is a very strong player, shocked. She adds a lot of class also to any Tour, and the European Tour, I think, will miss her very much, or the European team will miss her very much.
But they will be a tough team to beat, because they know we mean business and they know we're going to play very tough golf because we want that cup back, because we did lose it two years ago, and there are a lot of players on this team that have been breathing hot air since that event two years ago.
Q. How did the other three handle the news? And was there any one thing in particular that you did say to them?
NANCY LOPEZ: They handled it better than I did. They were very good. Dorothy Delasin, she played very well last year. She didn't really make a lot of points this year. She didn't play as well as she wanted to, but she's worked very hard. She was disappointed, of course. She's a great team player. I know she would have been there to be the supporter and she would play very hard.
I told Heather Bowie this morning. It was very hard because Heather played great, but I told her that there was so much on my mind about her and how she has played, but I felt like I had to go with experience.
Wendy has played great. She does have the experience. She is a great team player, as Heather Bowie is. And experience is what I'm looking at. And Heather will be on a Solheim Cup team. She's a great player and has come a long way in two years and she played very, very well this year.
Stacy Prammanasudh, I talked with her today. She said she didn't play as well as she could have, and she was great about it. It's very sad because, like I said, I was there twice. I wasn't picked for the Solheim Cup and I know what they're feeling. As I walked away from that experience, I said, well, I'm going to have to work harder to get on another Solheim Cup. And unfortunately I never did, I had babies and that stopped me from accumulating points and stuff like that. And Ray, I have to give Ray some love, I guess, on TV. I'm going to give him some love, because he's been my assistant assistant captain. And he's been on that computer every night throwing stats at me. While I was in my sleep sometimes he would say, "Nancy, who are you going to play Rosie with?" I'm like, "Who do I have?" And he would say, well, these players.
And I'd go, "Annika Sorenstam." He'd go, "Annika? She's not on the team."
"Talk to me tomorrow." He did a great job and I thank him for all his support on that, because he was you really used a lot of ink on that computer, didn't you?
He loves these players, too. He has learned so much about them and what they've done and he's always been a big supporter of the LPGA Tour. And I know he's going to be on the side lines for us at the Solheim Cup. Go USA!
End of FastScripts.