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September 12, 2007

Annika Sorenstam


BETHAN CUTLER: I'd like to welcome Annika Sorenstam to the interview. Annika, thank you for joining us today.
This is a very special tournament for you, I think, playing at home in Sweden. Your eighth appearance in a Solheim Cup, and you're the leading points scorer are 221 and a half points. Can you talk a little bit with about how it feels to be back here?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I certainly will. It's wonderful to be back. I've been back now twice in one month, so I think that's a record the last few years.
But you're certainly right. It is a wonderful week in many ways. You know, it's an honor obviously to represent your country and in this case Europe as well. So, you know, I always look forward to this week and, you know, to come here back to Sweden and play here in front of the Swedish crowds and in front of the Swedish media and the all the other media and the fans all around the word. It doesn't get much better than that.
It's different than other tournaments because it's, you know, different format and now you have 11 teammates to think about and they can help you. It's fun.
BETHAN CUTLER: Take some questions, please.

Q. Annika, how would you assess the state of your game right now, just given all the health things you've had, and also could you maybe explain how it has been for you the last eight months, frustrating or encouraging because it's getting better or just how it has been dealing with the injury.
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, I would say right now I'm probably as good as I've been in a year and a half, I would say. What I mean by that is I have no pain and I'm starting to swing the golf club again. I'm starting to hit some good shots. I'm starting to have some feel and some control of the golf club, which has been a long time. I've been able to play, but it just hasn't been, you know, the way that I know that I can and also not the way that, you know, you should feel when you're on a golf course.
You know, I'm excited about that. I had a really good showing in Springfield about two weeks ago, and, you know, I've been working with my coach, Henry, and my sister. We can work on more things now.
Before it was just the basics. Just trying to get the club to the top, in the right plane and go from there. Now we're working on a lot of different shots and, you know, I'm enjoying it. I'm seeing some results, and,you know, it's fun when you work on something and you see that it's going in a direction you want.
So I'm really excited about this week. I'm excited about the way I'm playing. I wish I could say I'm back to a hundred percent. I'm not there yet, but it's certainly going in the right direction.

Q. Can you say how you dealt with the last several months. Has it been one of the most frustrating times in your golf life?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I wouldn't say the most frustrating in my life, but golf is just a game, and I'm one of those players that has been very fortunate to have a lot of success on the course where things have gone my way for such a long time. No reason to be upset and angry. At times it felt it was tough and, you know, "Why is this happening?" But, you know, I've just -- it's been a great year overall. Maybe not so well on the golf course, but everything around, you know, what I do has been fabulous. So, you know, I have every reason to smile.

Q. Annika, have you ever seen the course play this difficult before, and do you think it is an advantage for the European team, given your length?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: You know, I was -- the last time I was here was over 15 years ago. So, you know, I don't remember how the course was playing then. I would say I'm a different player today, but I would say in Solheim Cup history this is probably as long as I can remember a golf course.
It is, you know, with the conditions and the wind and the rain, it's just feels even longer. I'm not sure if it is an advantage for the Europeans, but I would say none of us are complaining. We kind like it. So we'll see how they'll set up the course on Friday and Saturday. But, you know, this is the best women golfers in the world.
I think distance is part of golf, and, you know, if you can keep it in the fairway, you're going to have a good chance to hit it close to the hole. It should be challenging. It should be tough.

Q. Annika, you have experienced a lot of captains during the Solheim Cup events. Two days into this week, what would you say about Helen?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I would say Helen is different than the other captains that we've had. (laughter).
You know, she just has a very different approach. You know, she's very easy-going. She appears to be less organized, but I know she's not. She knows what's going on. She just has a little bit more of a laid back attitude, and she's more about living in the moment than, you know, the way I would be. I would probably be living, you know, way early trying to prepare.
But things are going well. I think we have great team spirit, and I think the captain has a lot to do with that. So, you know, so far so good.

Q. 2005 you were quite close with Catrin with the team. Is that a role you will have this week as well?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I'm not really sure. I've let them know that I enjoy being part of it, and I feel like, you know, with the experience that I have and knowing a lot of the players on the team, I think I can -- I think I can help. So we'll see if they will utilize me, but she has a lot of helpers this week, and it seems like they have everything under control.
BETHAN CUTLER: Any more questions? Over here.

Q. Annika, can you just talk about home advantage. You're looking at the history of this competition. It seems to matter a lot.
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: What was the first part?

Q. About home advantage.
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I definitely think it matters where you play. We have seen that in the past. And I think if you look at the results and all the previous Cups, it really makes a difference where you're playing. And for some reason when you just have all the fans, it seems like, on your side and when, you know, it just -- it makes it so different. You just get so -- I mean, I'm excited about playing in the U.S. Solheim Cup, but when you come here, just something extra with the crowd on your side and, you know, wanting to prove to the home crowd that we can do it, and, you know, it just really matters and, you know, hopefully it matters this year, too. We'll see. But it is extra to play kind of on your home turf.

Q. Annika, the Solheim Cup has changed a lot over the 17 years. In what ways do you think it's changed and grown?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: If we start with the competition, it's better than, you know, when they started even though those players were great. I would think women's golf in general has just gotten better. So I think -- the matches are, you know -- it's very, very good golf.
I would say the courses that we're playing, you know, have changed. I think we mentioned a little bit about that earlier, they're longer and tougher. They changed the format a few times. But it's like anything. The more you do it, you get better at it. The captains and the help and just being more professional and efficient out there, you know, as a player, we notice.
I would say those are the few things that I can think of on top of my head. But it's still as much fun and much exciting. When you play this format, anything can happen. And I remember the first time I played was Greenbrier, and I was nervous on the first tee, and I can tell you I'm going to be nervous on Friday, so that hasn't changed.

Q. You were talking about your health earlier. Do you feel good enough to go all five matches if you're asked?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: It's a very good question. If you would have asked me two months ago, I would have said no. It is different once you get here, you know, with the adrenaline pumping, and also I feel better now.
So, you know, Helen has not asked me if I can do it, and, you know, I've given it some thought myself. I think it really depends on the matches. I really think it depends on the conditions. I do know that if -- I mean, once I get into playing, I'll do anything for the team. So we'll see.

Q. Annika, I don't know how well you know Becky or Bettina, but anything you've done to try to help the rookies, you know, for the start of the competition?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, we just -- the first two days have been really trying to get to know each other. And what I mean by that, just spending time together, you know, dinners and, you know, play a little ping-pong and talk a little bit. Today I played with Becky nine holes and try get to know each other. They ask me questions about, you know, drills or how do I practice, how do I look at things which, you know, I find very flattering they want to know how I approach things. I love to help them as much as I can.
This is such a big week, and everybody is so excited, and everybody has so much on their mind that I don't want to just come up there and throw my face in there and do this and do that.
I'm here if they need me, and I think that they know that.

Q. Annika, do you think that the Swedes appreciate women golfers more than anyone else in the world?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Swedish fans, is that what you're asking or Swedish --
Q. Swedish, the men is what -- the people in general and at home, I think the women are seen as second best. I don't get that impression here.
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I think you're right. I think we -- with the success that the Swedish golfers have had around the world, I think the Swedish people and the Swedish media, they understand that, and, you know, when I come here and when I play in my tournament that I host, it's just the reception is amazing and, you know, as a matter of fact, I think our tournament is more successful than the men. And I don't know if you can say that anywhere else in the world, but we can.
It's been -- you know, it's been very successful the last few years, and obviously it's going to take sponsors and organizers to do all that. If you don't have the crowd or support, I don't think you can get there.
For us to be here again at the Solheim Cup in a little country like Sweden, I think that says a lot. And if you look around, it's just very well organized, and, you know, I think you've got every person that knows about golf or plays golf is involved in this event one way or another. So I think that's another way to say it really doesn't matter if it's men or women. They appreciate the sport and the success that we've had.

Q. Annika, can you pick one particular moment in your Solheim Cup history that's been your best and explain why?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: You know, I think it's tough to single a particular moment out. But if I only had to pick one, it would be obviously the win that we had at Barseback four years ago, and, you know, there's nothing like it when the final putt goes in and you know you have taken the Cup back.
So together with the teammates, it's just an amazing feeling. You know, I will never forget the putt I made on the 17th hole playing with Suzann Pettersen. That was probably -- it was a crucial putt, but also, I mean, I jumped so high. I mean, I thought I was going to pull a muscle, but it really didn't matter at the time. It was just so exciting, and, you know, those are the one of the putts that I can still feel in my body that just went in.
That was key, and that was an amazing week and, you know, memories forever.

Q. Annika, just to go back to whether you can play five games. You say Helen hasn't asked you yet. If she does, is it a definite "I will do anything for the team" or is it "I can't play five games"?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: You know, I think -- again, I have to see how I feel. If I feel good, I'm going to do what they want me do. I also think I need to be honest and to say if I don't feel like I can, you know -- every point is important. And, you know, if I can't play up to the way I need to, then I need to let somebody else go out there and get that point. Because by the end of the week, it's a team effort, and whoever feels like they can get the point should be out there.
So, really to be honest, I think it's a decision we're going to make at the time. But I'm going to start out, I'm sure, the first, you know, first day and with two matches and then hopefully get a chance to play in the morning. If I take a break, it would be the fourth match, but again, we'll see.
BETHAN CUTLER: Okay. One more.

Q. You just mentioned Barseback and playing with some last time.
Would you like to be paired with Suzann this year as well, and what's special about Suzann?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: The first question I'm not really sure. You know, it's only Wednesday, and we haven't really decided the pairings. I mean, we have certainly done well together, and we get along really well.
You know, there's a lot of special things about Suzann. I mean, I think the year she's having is fun to watch. I mean, just seeing her grow up and mature as a player and, you know, just develop. It's really fun to see. She's a great person. She's a lot of fun. She has a lot of energy. She has a lot of talent. I think she's a great asset for women's golf, and I'm glad she's on our team.
BETHAN CUTLER: Okay. I think that wraps it up. Thank you very much, Annika. Good luck in the Solheim.

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