September 16, 1998
LAURA NEAL: Good afternoon. We're going to get started. Helen will be off of 18 momentarily. We'll get started. Do you want to comment on the course and then we'll take some questions?
CHARLOTTA SORENSTAM: No.
ALISON NICHOLAS: No, it was lovely. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Lost a hundred dollars, but apart from that, it was lovely.
CHARLOTTA SORENSTAM: I won a hundred.
LAURA NEAL: We'll just open the floor up, then.
Q. How long is this course, how long does it play?
CHARLOTTA SORENSTAM: Today it played a little longer because there was no wind. Yesterday when we played, the wind was behind a lot of backside holes and it was also a little wet today because of the rain and the sun didn't come out as much as yesterday. So the backside played a little longer than yesterday.
ALISON NICHOLAS: I don't know. I didn't play the back nine.
Q. Charlotta, has anybody who has played in the team told you anything helpful about playing in a SOLHEIM CUP?
CHARLOTTA SORENSTAM: Not yet.
ALISON NICHOLAS: I'll have a chat with her later.
Q. I presume you lost a hundred dollars to Laura, did you?
ALISON NICHOLAS: No.
Q. Who did you lose it to?
ALISON NICHOLAS: Charlotta here. The Lotta as -- the two Lottos as on our team.
Q. Lotta, how different does it feel coming into this tournament compared to a regular one on the LPGA TOUR?
CHARLOTTA SORENSTAM: Well, we come as a team here. Normally, you're an individual with your caddie. But here everybody cheers for everybody and gives information about the course and we eat together and we spend all the time we get together. So just having that feeling that everybody is together, it's different from a normal tournament. But I like it a lot. So far.
Q. Do you feel pressure being a first time SOLHEIM CUP player or is it just more of a challenge to you to hang with them?
CHARLOTTA SORENSTAM: So far, I haven't felt anything. I know it's a big tournament and it's the biggest we can play in, but I've been feeling really confident because I know my game right now is pretty good and I just try to think it's like it is a normal tournament. Don't think about it as huge. So it makes me feel more confident.
Q. I have a question for both. You represent Europe. Normally, you're used to representing Sweden. You're used to representing England. When you guys put it all together, do you get that feeling of, you know, that international spirit that we hear so much about?
CHARLOTTA SORENSTAM: I think so. As soon as you put on your shirts, everybody has got the same shirt that says "Europe" on it. It just feels like we're a team. For me, it doesn't feel like we're from two different countries. We're a team. That's what it feels to me.
ALISON NICHOLAS: Yeah. You know, basically, we're a team and I felt like that -- I played -- this is my 5th SOLHEIM, so it's been the same every time and we have good fun and there's a good spirit in the team and there's a lot of fun and I think we're ready, basically.
Q. Ms. Sorenstam, let's get down to a question now, like Sunday. That's where the singles are played. That's where this whole thing is pretty well summed up and has been. With that many matches, it's going to be individuals now that have performed. How about your game and, Alison, how about your game right now?
ALISON NICHOLAS: Yeah, I'm just coming into a big form, actually. I've been ill most of the year, so I haven't played an enormous amount, unfortunately. I played last week and my scores got better each day and I'm starting to hit the ball well again and I'm really looking forward to it. I think the great thing about match-play is that you can be aggressive and you haven't got the card to think about; so you can just go for everything and I'm really looking forward to it and such a great competition and I've had such fun before in the SOLHEIM CUPS that it gets me going, so I can't wait to get out there and play.
CHARLOTTA SORENSTAM: I think I've been playing kind of steady all year. It's just the last couple of weeks I've been hitting the ball better and better; so I feel, myself, very confident playing singles, too. We did a lot of match-play as an amateur and team events, too, but still a couple of single matches here and there. So the feeling comes back to you, how it felt then.
ALISON NICHOLAS: I've obviously played four before and I know going into Sunday is probably the most important day, as you say, and I think you've got to concentrate on the match and that's what I've tried to do and not worry about anyone because I can only do something about my situation. I think that we're all aware of that and we'll concentrate on our own games and try and win a point.
Q. Can you each speak in turn about what Pia has brought to the team?
CHARLOTTA SORENSTAM: That's a question more Helen.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: State the question, please.
Q. Helen, asking if you could each speak in turn on what Pia has brought to the team.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I don't know. You know, it's so many things, I think, that she does. But I think the key is for all of us is to -- that she let's everybody be themselves and I think her -- it's just, you know, being positive but not overly positive and going and telling yourself to be something that you're not. But she is guiding us to things and she is open to talk to everyone, I think. I don't know how you guys feel.
ALISON NICHOLAS: Yeah. I think communication -- she has been terrific with the communication and I think that's important in a team situation. She is very competent, determined and I think that obviously you can feed off that. She's got a great sense of humor; so we've had some fun, too, and we've had a few little games out on the course that she has set up for us which is the fun element as well as, you know, obviously, making us concentrate. But I think she's very experienced and -- in obviously the teaching that she has done over the years and the mental side of the game. So she is -- just passing on her knowledge and she has been very good. I think we've all enjoyed having her as a captain.
Q. When you guys look at the lineup for the American team, what is your first thought?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I think this is your question, Charlotta. (Laughs). She is probably the most politically correct of all of us.
CHARLOTTA SORENSTAM: I haven't thought about it.
Q. So anyone in particular?
CHARLOTTA SORENSTAM: I don't think that much, so... (Laughs).
ALISON NICHOLAS: Obviously, they're a good team, you know, and we're aware of that. I think they're good in their places and we all know they're very good players, but we've also got some great players on our side, and so I think we're up for the challenge I think.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I think the key is not to concentrate. It's like when you play your own game, you can't concentrate on what everybody else is doing on their team. I think we need to go out and get a good team spirit going and the sarcasm is growing, so we're doing really well. (Laughs). I think if we think about them or what they do, I think -- this is as tough as it is, you need to focus and put all your concentration in our strategy and what we're going to do and that's what we're going to give them and then we're going to see what they putt up against that.
ALISON NICHOLAS: Yeah. I think that, you know, like Lotta said, you don't really think too much about it. Everyone is aware who the team is going to be for a number of weeks and months now. We're all trying to concentrate on our own games and get our games into shape and making sure our team is ready.
Q. You put 12 young women together anywhere?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Thank you (Laughs).
Q. You could start the 3rd World War and you know it?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: We don't have any -- it won't be that bad. I that's not going to start a world war, do you think.
ALISON NICHOLAS: I think there might be a few more things that might have to happen before we start a world war. I think we've got sensible individuals.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: As long as they don't beat us, we'll be just fine. As long as we beat them, I should say.
Q. Alison, these games that you have been playing on the course, what are they and what's the point of them?
ALISON NICHOLAS: You'll have to ask Pia that question.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Exactly, because we haven't figure it had out either, actually. We'll see on Sunday.
Q. The first part the question is: Can you tell us what they are?
ALISON NICHOLAS: Yeah. She's given us sort of difficult bunker shots or chips around the green. We've all been teamed up with a partner for the practice round and see how many points we can get, a difficult chip, you get one point or getting on the green and if you get it within a few putts, it's like you get 3 points. If you holed it, you get 10 points; is that right.
Q. Do you win prizes?
ALISON NICHOLAS: I don't know. We haven't discovered that yet. We don't know whether there's a surprise at the end or not.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: It's the honor.
ALISON NICHOLAS: Just fun things. I suppose it's just -- what's important --
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I think it's part of keeping the concentration a little bit and getting in competitive mode. I think we're all competitive even when it comes to a little chip over a bunker, you still want to do it and I think it just keeps you -- even a practice round, we although we're trying to concentrate.
ALISON NICHOLAS: A bit of competitiveness gets you going, I suppose.
Q. Is that something different than you've done previously?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Yeah.
ALISON NICHOLAS: Yeah.
CHARLOTTA SORENSTAM: We've always done it.
ALISON NICHOLAS: The Swedes have always done it. It's news to me.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Me too, actually.
ALISON NICHOLAS: New for the -- well, I'm actually Scottish, according to the program.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Me, too, so I've definitely done it. Too many Swedes, we'll put another Scott in there.
Q. What are those punching bags?
ALISON NICHOLAS: That's another game.
CHARLOTTA SORENSTAM: That's one of the things we're supposed to do later.
ALISON NICHOLAS: I've already tried it.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Do you punch anybody.
ALISON NICHOLAS: I punched the --
HELEN ALFREDSSON: You don't punch somebody. You punch the bag.
ALISON NICHOLAS: 40 yards, -- 60 yards and 80 yards and you've got to try and hit the -- whatever they are on the fly and it -- if you hit it, it falls over and then comes back up again, you see.
Q. Does it say "MEDIA" on it or anything?
ALISON NICHOLAS: No, but Brandie asked me whether it had her picture and I said, no, it hadn't.
Q. Tell us about the golf course from each one of you?
ALISON NICHOLAS: Yeah, great golf course, superb condition. Obviously, a very good test as well. I think -- obviously, I hadn't been up here before previously to see it but there was obviously lots of people talking about it, how fantastic and how difficult it was and I was quietly surprised, actually. It wasn't as difficult as I thought it was going to be. But it's still a good test and, yeah, you've got to think your way around it, especially on the greens, where you're placing your 2nd or 3rd shot. But thoroughly enjoyed it, yeah, it's in great condition.
Q. In what way isn't it as difficult as you thought?
ALISON NICHOLAS: Well --
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Probably wider than I think. Gives you a little more room off the tee. I mean, I'm sure you can still find trouble. This is the kind of golf course like you use open course every day and the tougher the competition and the closer you get to the last day you can find more opportunities than when you just play it. But it is wider, maybe, but there are so many other things that come into play. If you're on the rough, that's really tough. And like she was saying, really on the greens. You've got to place it -- depending on the positions -- today, these last two days, the pin position has been trying to keep the greens. So there's has been a -- especially on the Nicklaus golf course, you can get some nice tee-to-greens.
Q. Tammi Green the other day said if it stays dry and with the clubs usually hitting into the greens, it's going to be hard to keep the -- really be in trouble with a lot of putts.
ALISON NICHOLAS: A little bit. If it dries up, then you're going to have a much shorter coming in. Today, if the greens don't dry up much more, but the fairways, in some spots it just dries and now you're starting with the 4-iron and in other support, the 7-iron. So I think we do hit some long clubs on the greens, if it's fairly firm. If it dries up a little more, then you will have shorter clubs in.
ALISON NICHOLAS: The greens aren't as fast as I thought they would be.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: You've been thinking a lot.
CHARLOTTA SORENSTAM: I follow that, too. (Laughs).
ALISON NICHOLAS: Well, you know. I mean, sort of the last couple of weeks that we played on the LPGA, last week the greens were extremely fast, weren't they? I suppose just a little bit slower than last week.
CHARLOTTA SORENSTAM: Everybody said the greens are so fast, and then you kind of look forward to really fast greens. Maybe it's a thought, too, that they weren't as fast as they were.
ALISON NICHOLAS: But they're a lovely base. Don't get me wrong.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I think they're very fast. I've been in Sweden for 3 weeks.
Q. Might be faster on Friday.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: We have no doubt, dear.
ALISON NICHOLAS: Might be. I don't think they could get too much -- if they get too fast, they become impossible. So I think they obviously keep that in mind.
Q. Do you guys see any pistol holes out there that you could see, maybe, Sunday becoming real key plays to either win or lose?
ALISON NICHOLAS: I don't know. Every hole is important. I think 10 is a tough hole, isn't it?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Yeah, 10 is a tough hole.
ALISON NICHOLAS: That might not be pistol, unless you you're 8 down or something.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: In match-play -- if you're talking stroke-play in a normal tournament, certain holes could be a pistol because you bring them with you. But in match-play, can you have a tough hole but if you lose that, that's the only thing you have. So it's harder to say a pistol hole in match-play versus stroke-play.
ALISON NICHOLAS: Obviously, early on it's crucial, too. You want to win as many holes early on as you can. Have a strong start.
Q. Where can you see birdies on the front 9?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Everywhere.
ALISON NICHOLAS: I mean, there is a few par 5s are that are birdieable.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: You've got to hit some good irons around here. You can't get by by skanking around on this kind of course.
Q. Alison, you've played in four previous matches. How does this team compare with those teams, strength-wise?
ALISON NICHOLAS: We've got more Swedes on the team, of course.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: And? (Laughs). Finish your sentence.
ALISON NICHOLAS: It's a sheer pleasure to have them on the team.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: The official language. (Laughs).
ALISON NICHOLAS: No. I mean, I think we've got a great team. Obviously, the first couple of years, we had less players. And, obviously, it changed after DALMAHOY. But now I can we've got a great team and I think most of us get on very well. There's not a huge difference. I think obviously this time there is more LPGA players who play regularly. But I mean, there is quite a few on this team that have actually played in everyone; so it's kind of interesting. Now I think we all get on very well and I love the Swedes.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: You better. We're the majority.
Q. Is there any Swedish spoken in the team room or in the locker room?
ALISON NICHOLAS: Well, there is this funny sort of mumbo-jumbo that comes out. I suppose that must be Swedish.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: You could read up. You flow. You could learn something.
ALISON NICHOLAS: I haven't mastered English, yet, so give us a chance. (Laughs).
HELEN ALFREDSSON: No, there is Swedish spoken, but not when somebody else is around. Or if it is when she's around, she knows.
Q. At the team meeting, is there any Swedish spoken?
ALISON NICHOLAS: I don't think so, no. I think Pia has asked the Swedish players, because we can't speak Swedish, not to speak Swedish when there's another player in the room that isn't Swedish, basically.
Q. Alison, could you expand on your comment about how interesting it was that they expanded the rosters after DALMAHOY? Why is that?
ALISON NICHOLAS: I don't know. I wasn't at the meeting. They probably wanted to make it like the RYDER CUP.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Get yourself out of this one early. (Laughs). Go on. Go on. I'm listening.
ALISON NICHOLAS: What's that word? What's the two words they say? No comment or something. I think they just wanted to --
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Fifth Amendment.
ALISON NICHOLAS: I plead the Fifth Amendment.
Q. For those of us who don't see Maria play very much, can you maybe talk about what she brings to the team? I'm not familiar with her strengths or really anything about her game.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: She brings a lot of language. She is a very good player. I don't think she has maybe in the last few years probably the courage up to -- the capability that she really has. We all know her from very early amateur days and she's totally outstanding. I think one year -- was it the year before she came on tour -- she worn eight tournaments. Unbeatable. I think she had a child. I don't think she has really gone back to where she really could be. She is -- she really is a fabulous golfer.
ALISON NICHOLAS: Maria is a great player. A lot of experience. She has got a good sense of humor and she is a very calm, cool and collected. And I think that she can offer a lot, especially to the rookies. I think we enjoy having her on the team and I think she is a great player.
Q. It's been said a lot coming in here that this is the European's best team ever. Is it just because everyone is two years more experienced or are you better from 1 through 12 than you've ever been or what? What's the reason this is your best team?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I think the defendant has become -- depth, sorry -- take a little Swedish, see how far we go with that one -- depth (Laughs). Shut up. I think, you know, you have more players. It's become a lot more -- people are much more -- I think we were very good, I guess. One year when we played in Lake Nona, I think we were very naive and still having idols -- Nancy and Pat and those girls. I think just the fact that we are all sort of playing together on a more everyday basis now, I think the initial fear and all that is -- comes down to everybody trusts their own abilities more today. Yes, we do respect the Americans tremendously, but on a healthy level where, you know, you can come out and it's not going to take away some of our own competitiveness.
ALISON NICHOLAS: I think there is more strength and depth, basically, than year one.
Q. You've been on every team. Would you say this is the most competent European team?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I think now -- I think what happened in DALMAHOY, for example, I think we almost surprised ourselves a little bit. We had -- the team spirit was wonderful and I think we've always had -- do you think it was Tootsie -- I don't know. I think everybody was just in a great mood and we did what we had to do, made the putts and triggers as the week went by. I think now -- we saw what position we are in -- I think even in Wales last time we played really well and I think we were almost surprised how well we played the first two days and I think we were just -- we were a little bit ahead of ourselves. We did think that we had one more day that really needed to be played. I think we showed what we are capable, actually, in Wales. We were just not able to -- like I just said, we were just a little ahead of ourselves for the last day.
Q. Alison, how important is this week for the future of the EUROPEAN TOUR?
ALISON NICHOLAS: I think, obviously, it's important. But I don't think that it balances on what happens. I think that with the work that I've been doing with Trevor; and we've been talking to our sponsors and things are going very well. I think that a lot of people will be surprised at the schedule that will come out for 1999. I think that we're building from within and I don't think that -- obviously, if we won, it would help enormously, but if we didn't, then it wouldn't mean the EUROPEAN TOUR would fall apart.
Q. Charlotta, concerning what Helen said earlier about take away the fear of being in your first match. Having played as well as you have on the LPGA TOUR, that for you, you might be more in awe of this situation if you didn't have that experience?
CHARLOTTA SORENSTAM: Yeah, I think so. First, when I came out on the LPGA TOUR, I kind of looked up to all of the players as idols or some of them as idols. But as I've been playing pretty good this last couple of years and -- I can't seem to find the microphone --
HELEN ALFREDSSON: How about putting it closer? (Laughs).
CHARLOTTA SORENSTAM: But, as I said, I played pretty good and then you kind of -- of know that you are in the same kind of level because you're on the LPGA TOUR. But since we're all -- we have a lot of respect, as Helen said, for all of the players that are on the U.S. team. But I think we can do pretty well.
Q. Charlotta, can you talk about -- because you've been with her here --, instrumental throughout your career --
CHARLOTTA SORENSTAM: Yeah, she has been my coach as long as I can remember, and I don't think I would like to have anybody else as my coach, either. What was the question again?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Pia was the question.
CHARLOTTA SORENSTAM: Pia is a great coach. She does all of these little small things like all the competitions we have today that makes you just feel great and makes you more competitive and it's a group practice, too.
Q. Charlotta, what's it like to be on the same team as your sister?
CHARLOTTA SORENSTAM: Well, she is the best player in the world; so it's great to be on the same side as her.
Q. Has she given you any advice from past SOLHEIMS?
CHARLOTTA SORENSTAM: No, I haven't heard that yet, so...
CHARLOTTA SORENSTAM: It sounds like I'm inexperienced. Nobody is giving me advice here.
ALISON NICHOLAS: What can we say?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Exactly.
Q. Charlotta, you've been practicing together and obviously been playing pretty good. Do you think that you can be a possible partner?
CHARLOTTA SORENSTAM: Yeah, we haven't really heard anything yet, but since we've practiced together, it might be a good idea. Pia is going to let us know later. Before Friday, anyway.
ALISON NICHOLAS: Hope so (Laughs).
CHARLOTTA SORENSTAM: We get along pretty well, so -- and our game is very similar. So I think it's a good idea.
Q. Does the European team have anything that the Americans don't have and vice-versa, would you say?
ALISON NICHOLAS: I don't know. In what way?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Swedes.
ALISON NICHOLAS: English.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: They have I think better English. They don't have Swedes. They speak English.
ALISON NICHOLAS: Well, yeah. That's a bit debatable. (Laughs).
Q. They've got a pregnant woman.
ALISON NICHOLAS: Yeah. Tammi is pregnant and also they've got 13 on that team, so. . .
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I think that's two shots already.
ALISON NICHOLAS: I can't think of anything.
Q. Individually, now, each one of you: Are you going to win?
CHARLOTTA SORENSTAM: Yes.
CHARLOTTA SORENSTAM: Yes, we are going to win. (Laughs).
ALISON NICHOLAS: Of course we are. We wouldn't be here, otherwise.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I agree.
ALISON NICHOLAS: We'll find out on Sunday, won't we? (Laughs).
Q. Helen, what is it like for you to have Charlotte Montgomery and Pia out here? I mean, they were -- to my knowledge -- the first, absolute first Swedes to come over and play and then, I guess, go back home and do things to bring along players like Charlotta and Sophie. What's it like to have those guys out here and be a part of this week?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Well, I think what is so great about it and I think that's some of the things that really helped Swedish golf that these players that were good players: They played professional golf; they came back and they related all their knowledge and what they did that they didn't like; that probably if they would start a career now, they would have done differently; or they saw how many of the really top players that are out here. And I think that probably helped a lot of the girls to not do some of the same mistakes, or at least be aware of the different things that you can do that might not be as great. And plus that Pia has studied up and read a lot of books just about how people are and how people react in different situations, and I think she is very good at relating that back. She doesn't force it on your throat or anything. She just relates her knowledge and what she knows and then it's up to you to do whatever you want to do with it. If you don't want to use it, you don't have it, and if you do, then she is there to help you along the way. She is great to talk to. She always has a good answer, I think, to any question that you offer her. Even if she doesn't have it right away, she'll always come back to you later and I think that is a very good comfort and just knowing she knows what we're going through, playing on the tour and doing what we're doing because it's always -- don't worry about it or -- especially with confidence, especially -- I don't have that on the course and somebody goes, don't worry, just think about it. At least she knows what it is and I think it makes it so much more worth some of the stuff she has to say.
Q. Is Charlotta serving as an assistant coach this week or what is her role?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: More of a teaching pro now at home. She is one of the best I know, as far as knowing shots and things. And I think they also know -- Pia and Charlotta have been friends for about 26 years, Pia being the first here. But it's nice to know you have somebody that knows what you're thinking. That takes a lot of the extra effort to try and guide everybody what to do and basically know what their roles are.
LAURA NEAL: Okay, Ladies, we'll wrap it up. You've put in more than enough time today. Thank you.
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