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July 29, 2008

Helen Alfredsson


COLIN CALLANDER: Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the 2008 Ricoh Women's British Open. We have Helen Alfredsson here before us having just won the Evian Masters for the third time in your career. Congratulations. How do you feel?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I feel great. I love that event and it's been quite good to me so we do good together.
COLIN CALLANDER: You've also won this tournament, as well, albeit not here. Do you have fond memories of this event?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Yeah, I do. Not so much in the last few years I haven't, but you know, obviously since the British Open was my first win on The European Tour, it means a lot to me.
COLIN CALLANDER: How has the win in Evian changed your perspective in any way coming into this tournament?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Not really. I played well this year. It was nice to win. That was awhile ago. No, I've been playing quite well so I look forward to it.

Q. Inaudible?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Well, I know it sounds so odd to say it, but that injury was something that had probably been there for a long time, and just something that I feel in my right hand having strength and feel, which was something I didn't realise how bad it was compared to how I feel now.
So all of the practise and everything that I had put in the last five or six years never gave any results, and then this year, you know, because they found this problem with a herniated disk in my neck. They obviously went all the way out, and now my finger, I couldn't even hold the club in my right hand.
It gradually gets to that point, but the practise I put in this year and the swing changes that came with it, obviously, you know, you get some feel back.

Q. Do you feel winning is now possible again?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: It's all possible. It was nice to win again and nice to make such putts when I needed to. That's the biggest thrill in life I think as a golfer to make them when you need to and finally to walk off with the trophy.
Obviously I feel like in a very different perspective now. I probably enjoy golf the way you probably should do from the beginning. I enjoy playing golf and I enjoy hitting good shots. It's not the end of my life anymore. I have other things. I love my life outside the golf course. I have a great family and everything and it's kind of a happy medium. I care enough about the game now.

Q. Inaudible?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Not really. I still go as I feel. I don't sit in January and plan. I go as I feel. Obviously when this happens, it gives you a few more options. I didn't play much any of the last four or five years. I've been tired and haven't been feeling very good. I might even go to Asia this year or I might get a chance to play another few events.

Q. Was there a point last year where you thought you might be done?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Well, it was hurting and I was not having any fun. You know, every day felt different. I hit shots that I had no explanation for. You know, usually my iron shots had always been my strength. If anything else failed, I had my irons, and I would hit my irons 40, 50 yards off-target, which has never happened, and I have no explanation for it. Obviously somebody, please, if you look at it in video, it doesn't really show if you hold it with your right hand or not if you're hitting it.
I think I welcome the fact that I was injured, and obviously I was busy with the Solheim Cup anyways, so it all turned out to be a good thing, but of course, not just last year. I mean, I've had questions six, seven years ago. Because it's hard to come in with a good attitude every year and work out really hard in the off-season and feel like you're in good shape, and you work out on the golf course on hitting golf shots and absolutely no results.
I think it's the hardest thing for an athlete when you feel like you're doing everything you can and you're getting nothing out of it. I think golf is as hard as it is because you lose so much more than you ever win, unless you're Annika, but there's only one of her. And then where do you then gain your strength from or your energy from? It's from the game, and I never got it. And it wasn't just last year; I would have felt this for a long time.

Q. Inaudible?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: No, it was last year. I think it was after Sybase, I just had all this tingling, the arm felt like a huge noodle, and I would have to lift it up. I couldn't even lift it up on my own, and then when the Tour -- thanks to the guys in the fitness van which have been great to me. They sent me to this doctor and they X-rayed and they saw that it was pretty bad herniation.
So then they started to help me with some therapy and it started to ease up a little bit, and then my nerve, it took a little bit longer for the nerve to calm down, but it was basically last year that that was a problem.

Q. (What has been the reaction since winning Evian)?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Actually quite nice to me. People have been congratulating me and it's been very genuine. I guess they feel that I've struggled and I think I've always been nice to them, too. It's nice to see people win and it's nice that they enjoyed my win, I guess.

Q. Inaudible?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: No, I didn't know the Koreans spoke so well English. They have been very, very nice and I think that's been a very pleasant surprise. They have been terrific, all of those. Obviously we all know each other, the other ones and they have been terrific.

Q. Did they not used to be --
HELEN ALFREDSSON: No, they speak. I think we understand them more and more. I've had some great conversations with them this year. But I think sometimes it's hard for us to understand our parents in Sweden; they can't wait for us to move out and be on their own, you know. And the Korean parents, they stay with them for all this time, and you know, like I didn't even know Seon Hwa Lee had been pro since she was 14. And when you've been told basically what to do all your life and not to have any opinions; I think it's hard for us to expect them to start asking a bunch of questions when that has never been asked of them before.
I think they started feeling much more comfortable with us and we enjoy them more, and I think that the Tour is getting very good with that. I mean, we integrate a lot better and we understand each other.

Q. Inaudible?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Well, he was more happy that he got ten more years to stay at the Royal Hotel because he enjoys that, too. He enjoys that week.
It's fun because he's a very good golfer himself and he loves to practise. For me to just have somebody to practise with, when times are rough and you don't always feel like getting up in the morning and go out, he has always been the one that's been keen on going out.
Then he wants to learn new shots and that sort of kept me on my toes, too, and so I help him and a lot of times we get very complacent. We hit the same shots and we work on our games, and he's like -- he loves to play and have fun.
Just to keep me up and keep me practising. It's been tough sometimes to get up, because you wonder why, because you don't see any results, and then you start questioning yourself and when you start going down mentally, that's the last -- when you go into a slump, I think that's the last part that leaves you, but it's also the last part that comes back, because you have to work so hard coming back.
I think obviously with his experience in sports, he's been a great help and just helped me getting out there and helped me staying fit and working out. So no, he's been great.

Q. (Regarding distance).
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I think I'm hitting the furthest that I've ever done, yeah. I have no idea why. I guess because I think it has to do with how my right hand it working. I can be much more aggressive. Before I just basically swung with my left.
So, yeah, it's been a nice addition, actually. I'll take it.

Q. Your chances this week?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Well, if I can continue to play to where I played, and obviously my putting was the big key, which is always is when you win to make putts. You never know, but this is a big event, and, you know, we have so many good players now on Tour. So it's obviously it's harder and harder to win. I was very happy for my win last week and of course I'm going to give it my best shot. You never know.

Q. Any other Europeans favoured to win --
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Well, of course Lorena is always going to be there. You have the Koreans, they are very strong and very steady. Annika, I think she's sort of keen on finishing on a high note obviously, which she has won everything, so I would have just quit a long time ago and just enjoyed it, but I'm not her obviously.

Q. Inaudible?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I asked her last week, how she felt with the decision she made, and she said every day, it's more and more clear for her. I think we mentioned this last week in the press conference, and I think asking athletes -- because obviously with the struggle I've had, you know, when that day is going to come, how are you going to feel. And I talked to my husband who played hockey and other people, and they all say the same thing, you know exactly when the day comes that it's over.
I think what Annika said is the best point is to quit on your own terms, which she obviously said in a few interviews, because I think it's the hardest one you have to quit because of injuries, that you never feel like you finished. As an athlete, it's a blessing if you can finish on your own terms.

Q. Thoughts on Sunningdale?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Oh, I think it's a fantastic place. It's so fun to play a little different type of game. Obviously you never know what you're going to get here. It could be very nice and calm, and, you know, just need a little bit of wind and your total course management has to change.
But it's fun. It's a great change from what we normally play, and I think I have never heard anything bad about this golf course. Everybody super-enjoys it, and from what I hear, it's in fantastic shape, so we are all looking forward to it.

Q. Inaudible?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Yeah, I think it's how far the ball runs and how you play into the greens and how you play much more of the slopes. You really have to know how the greens work in order to get close to the pin because you cannot always throw it at the pin. I don't know how it's been now because it's been raining but you play the course much more.
You have to play with the course. A lot of times in the States, you have to drive up in the middle and throw up, because the greens are very receptive. Here, you have to sort of play with all of the breaks, even on the fairways and on the greens, and it keeps you on your toes.

Q. Do you think Annika is going to find this hard to win?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I don't know, I think it would be the first time she finds anything hard on the golf course because she's won so much.
I admire the fact that she still goes and finds the interest in doing it. I think she has a lot on her mind and it sounded to me when we talked last week that she has a lot of other projects she loves to do. I think what makes her so good is that when she sets her mind on something, she does it very, very well. You know, when she decides to do something, which she has done in the last ten years quite nicely, you know, if she ever wins again, I don't think anybody would really be surprised. I don't be surprised.

Q. Inaudible?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: You know, obviously I cannot speak for her at all, but I think it's one of those things that she knows what's coming and she has achieved everything.
I think you can want to, but if your heart isn't in it, I don't know. There's so many things you can tell yourself: I really love this, but do you really want it? And after all that she has achieved, I don't know, obviously, but I would find that it very hard, especially when you know what's coming; because you know it's the end and you've been here and you've done this so many times, how could your heart be in it as much? Obviously she's from a different breed, so I wouldn't be surprised if she, you know, finishes on top here.

Q. As a young player, did you ever imagine that she be as successful as she has been?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I didn't know her very well, because I was already in the States, but I remember I think I saw her and she had an enormous work ethic, and I think that really is something that shows a kid that stands out.
You know, the ones that are really willing to work hard and work on something and get it done. I saw that today, the kids come out today and they have a little excuse for this and that and surround themselves with people that tell them they are good enough and that's enough for them and I think she belongs to that category that she wanted to perfect everything; and she did, and I think that she really set her mind on something and she achieved it.
But just what I remember from as a kid, she worked really, really hard, and it is no shortcut. I think that's the same what Tiger did. All of the really top players, they worked really, really hard and you set a very good base for yourself, and then you can just move on from there.

Q. Inaudible?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: You know, I don't know, I never -- no, I think in the later, I think she found stuff going on. Right now I think the Koreans do everything. They work out, they do this. I think she started out finding stuff as she went along to really get better. She can she can she worked out much harder in the end she decided they wanted to hit it further.
I think the Koreans, they just do everything. They work out, they absolutely --
Q. Inaudible?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I think it was very healthy what Annika did and worked very hard on her golf game, and when she turned pro she added stuff just to become a little bit better all the time.
I think sometimes when you're young and you try to do too much, and every day, every waking hour is golf, I think that's very difficult. And I know that Annika was a little crazy on the national team, she loves to do pranks and stuff, and obviously that's not really the Korean way and I think she did have fun. And when she moved on and became as good as she is, she just kept finding ways to become better and better.

Q. (Regarding Michelle Wie playing on the U.S. men's tour this week).
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Oh, she does? She is? I feel kind of sad for her. I think she's a very good person. I feel sad for the guidance that she seems to not have in the right direction. She was so good a couple of years ago when she finished second a few times, and instead of worrying about -- I don't know who won the McDonald's, I think it was Se Ri, and Michelle should really have won it. She missed the green with wedges and couldn't get up-and-down; and instead of just keep working on that and working on winning -- winning is tough. It takes a different mind.
I'm sure if you put yourself enough times in that position, you know, then you can deal with it, and I think that's how you become better. That's how you learn to win. But if you never get yourself there and if you're always trying to do something, I think the exhibition time for her is over, and we have some great, great players on the LPGA right now, and obviously Morgan has won, and Paula Creamer is a fantastic player and you have a bunch of young Koreans.
I think if she wants to be a golfer, she should really concentrate on being on the women's tour and dealing with them and learning to win. Winning is what we are out here for, but, I don't know, I just don't see the interest really on being on the men's tour. I didn't know even know -- I thought she had quit that idea but obviously not.

Q. Inaudible?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Well, I think a lot of them, I think, you know, the way Jacques Bungert and Franck Biboud has taken Evian Masters and what they have done with that tournament, I think the prize money is coming up significantly; British Open. I think the players and the way everybody looks now and the way everybody cares about themselves now, I think we are in a great time.
I'm very proud to be a part of the LPGA and how everybody, you know, performs and how they are week-in and week-out and taking care of themselves. It's a bunch of great girls. We always say that girls can't get along, but I will always remember how you have 144 girls every week and very little jealously because you respect people who do well, and I'm very proud to be part of an organisation that is in that way.
COLIN CALLANDER: Helen, thank you very much and good luck this week.

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