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June 5, 2009

Helen Alfredsson


JASON TAYLOR: Want to run through the scorecard real quick. You started on the back with a birdie on No. 13, par 5.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I have to think about it. Geez, I can't even think straight. Back nine, back nine, back nine.
JASON TAYLOR: The long par 5.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I know, but I can't even --
JASON TAYLOR: Would it help going in order?
JASON TAYLOR: No. 2, par 3.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: No. 2, I hit it to about five feet. I had 8-iron.
JASON TAYLOR: No. 3, par 4.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: 9-iron to about two feet.
JASON TAYLOR: No. 5, par 3.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Par 3. I hit a 6-iron to about eight feet.
JASON TAYLOR: No. 6, par 5.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I hit it up with a wedge to about five feet.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Here we come again (laughter). Now I know.
I hit a 58 to about 12 feet.
JASON TAYLOR: 14, par 3.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I had about six feet. I hit a 5-iron.
JASON TAYLOR: 15, par 4.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: 9-iron to about five feet.
JASON TAYLOR: Then eagle.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I hit a 6-iron on my second shot to about five feet.
JASON TAYLOR: That's the hard part. Thanks for coming in. Excellent round. 9-under par. Puts you one back from the lead after Round 2. Seems like everything went pretty well for you today.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: No, yeah, I hit it so awful yesterday. It was nice to start hitting it a straighter. I hit some shots, some good shots obviously to the pin. Made some putts when I needed to. I really was only in trouble once, which was 8, which was my 17. I made a 4-footer for par chipping up.
It was pretty uneventful, which is kind of nice sometimes. So I was pretty happy with the way I hit the ball today.
JASON TAYLOR: Questions.

Q. Obviously your irons were excellent today.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Yeah, they were pretty good today. I mean, yesterday was atrocious. I got a nice bite, good distance control. Made one hop and then stayed. That gives you pretty good confidence. Even though it was windy, you have, you know, 40, you hit a 9, it still only goes about two, three feet, which is kind of nice.

Q. Would you consider yourself a streaky player? Does the cup start to look like a basketball hoop when things are going well?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Don't we all wish (laughter)?
No, I think we -- I don't know. I don't know what the key is. I think sometimes you just see the line. It comes easy to you when you look at it. When you do, you can strike the ball well. Sometimes you look, you're reading, reading, you have no idea. You have no idea if it goes right to left or left to right. Those are the days when you're having trouble.
I think I just saw the lines today, put a good roll on them, and was lucky to make a few.

Q. A couple weeks ago at Sybase you shot a 62. Any similarities between that round and the way you're playing today? Were the same things working for you?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Yeah, pretty much. But I have to say that 62 was the best round I've ever shot. I didn't have one birdie putt that was over eight or 10 feet. It was one of those things, like if you sit at home, you say, I would like to do this, this and that, that's what happened. This was a little bit not as solid, but obviously I'm very happy to shoot a 63.

Q. Obviously a Solheim Cup year. You're on the leaderboard with Suzann Pettersen. How well do you know her? What impresses you about her game?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I've known her for years. We played in the Solheim Cup team together. I captained her two years ago. I'm probably going to be playing with her again this year.
You know, she's very solid, very determined. With all the Americans on the board, we have a few Europeans, it feels like the Solheim Cup is coming up pretty fast.

Q. You had a back injury in 2007.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I had a herniated disc in my neck, which I think had been going on six or seven years. I feel much better now.

Q. Was it '07 that it peaked?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: 2007, after Sybase, I took the rest of the year off. That was also the year I captained, so it worked out well. It was nice that they found -- that it wasn't just me that the ball was going pretty much off the planet.

Q. How were you able to bounce back from that, come back playing better?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Well, I think my hamstring was detached before that for 11 years, so I struggled with that as well. I think when all of a sudden your body feels well, you start practicing a little bit, the ball actually goes where you want it, I think it was such a kick for me to take the club and feel the right hand, which I didn't do at all. But progressively I had gotten so bad.
When you're been feeling that bad, you just all of a sudden get some response from the practice, it wasn't like I ever stopped practicing. I saw the response and things were getting better. I think when you see a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel, it's nice.

Q. What does physical fitness play a part in being successful out here and confident, feeling good about what you're doing when you're inside the ropes?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I have to say that I think it is a fitness craze. I think it is great to be fit. I think it's very individual in how far you want to take it.
I think just mentally, for me it's more that I do work out because it's something that releases my mind. I get physically tired, not just mentally tired. We're out here, we get so mentally tired. To get in the gym, sweat your butt off, of course when you get over 40, you need to try to keep the pounds off, too, so it has its benefit for that.
But I think it's in the state of your mind how you feel. Obviously, I think it's very healthy to stay fit. I think you can definitely -- especially the way it is now with these young kids, they practice so much golf. In order to avoid injuries, I think you really do need to stay fit.
I don't think we practiced as much as maybe they do now. I mean, they start so young doing this extreme repetitive mode. To stay on top, I think you have to be pretty strong.

Q. With the herniated disc did you go for surgery?

Q. So you just treated it with rest?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: It's so funny, I love to go to the gym. I work out hard, sweat. Here you go with these exercises like this, you know, just to get the muscle, to get the nerve to work again. It was very eye-opening actually to realize it's not about the heavy weights, how hard you can go, it's just the little things.
It was a pretty well-needed break, too. I think there's nothing harder for an athlete to work hard and work hard and work hard and see nothing. You don't know why. You're looking for all the answers, but you can't find any, so... It was nice to get a little break.

Q. How did you finally find out?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Well, it was to the point where I had a tingling all the time. I couldn't even catch the ball. My caddie threw the ball. I couldn't catch it. I am extremely right-handed. I had to do everything with the left. I went in and said, I need to know what this is. I can't have this all the time. Feel like I have to shake it off, like it's sleeping.
They x-rayed it and I saw it was herniated.

Q. And the hamstring, how did that happen?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: That happened in college, and 11 years later they figured out it was detached fully.

Q. Solheim Cup question. The fact that you captained, now you're going to be back as a player probably, having been a captain and being in those shoes, making those decisions, tough choices, what kind of perspective did that give you that maybe you didn't think about before?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Well, I think my agenda was -- first of all, I had two years coming up to it. Even though we know each other, we're all individuals, so we don't know what somebody needs to be happy. The only thing I tried to do the first year was sort of what made everybody comfortable and happy.
It was hard for me also because I was still playing, you're friends with them, you don't want to be somebody all of a sudden telling them. I think it's enough pride that everybody is going to go out there and bust their butt to try to win the whole thing.
I just tried to make it all relaxed, give everybody pretty much the freedom. I knew what Laura liked, what Annika liked. Because it's one week. It's not like you have a junior team or something where you gather them and you know them. I think the more comfortable, the less you sort of interrupt in their daily routines, I think the better you play.

Q. The Solheim will be here in Northern Illinois in a couple months. Have you been to that course?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: No, I haven't. I heard it's a nightmare apparently (laughter).

Q. What did she have to say about it?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: She said it's one of the toughest courses she's ever seen or played. We played the U.S. Open one year at Cherry Hills in Colorado. That was one of the toughest roughs. It's the same. If you see the little red flag go down in the rough, give me the 60.
But I think it's great. Maybe it won't be as many birdies obviously to win. Maybe like Kiawah when the guys were celebrating with a double bogey when the other one had a triple.

Q. Survival?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Pretty much survival of the fittest. And it's match play, so you don't have to worry. You don't have to carry on the previous holes.

Q. When you see Se Ri's name up on the board, is she still one of those players that commands a lot of respect? Is she still as dynamic a player as she's been earlier in her career?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Well, I think she's sort of coming back. I think she came out absolutely like a bomb, winning and getting into the Hall of Fame. I don't know if she's the quickest or whoever was the quickest, but she was so extraordinary, absolutely fantastic. I think she had a little bit of a letdown, getting into the Hall of Fame. She's so young. What do I do now? When you really have one big goal, which that is, what do you do after that pretty much?
I think she went back and she couldn't find a motivation, which absolutely is so understandable. I think she is a terrific, terrific person. I think she's a great girl. I'm very happy. I know she's very solid. She's very strong mentally. I think it's great to see her come back, not only for us, but for her, too.

Q. Born in Sweden. Played many years on the tour with Annika. What was it like when you were both on the tour putting Sweden on the map as far as golf goes? What is the state of golf in that country?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Not as good as you would think, to be honest. I don't know. I really don't know what to answer to that. We have lost our tournament, which is kind of sad. I don't know why. I mean, you would think that her success...
The thing is, she was really very rarely home. If you're not there, you can read about somebody a lot, but if you're not actually there physically, I think it's very difficult. She lives over here. So I don't know. I hope it's going to turn around. I don't know, hope we have a few more young kids coming up. It's hard. You really have to work hard. Annika put a very high bar. These girls have come up. They are terrific golfers. They are very good players, the Koreans.

Q. How well-known is your name in Sweden?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Yeah, in golf people know. I've been around for a long time.

Q. You've always had a great personality. As the captain at Crooked Stick a few years ago, how did you deal with a player like Suzann, who is a little quieter?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I was in Sweden when I was there. She's not as quiet as you think.

Q. She was sick today. How would you describe her personality?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: She likes to have a good time. She's also one of those young ones, they stepping up. But off the golf course, you go out, she's a lot of fun. I think it's hard to see too much of personalities. Everybody is working really hard. I talked about Poker Face. I love that song, Poker Face. It's almost like you don't want to let anybody in on how you really are, which has never been my worries actually (laughter). I am who I am.

Q. Not to bring up a real unpleasant memory, but a few weeks ago Sybase, you opened with the 62, almost kind of surreal. The next day was a tough day. For everything that went right the first day, nothing went right the second round.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Pretty much. It was certainly not like I was nervous. You know what, that's what is so strange, such an enormous focus. People said, I wish I could feel that way. It's so easy. Sometimes you come in and you feel like you worked so hard. I was 10 times more tired shooting a 76 than a 62. Everything is so easy. Everything comes so easy. It was only the second day. It wasn't like I was running for something.
You come out, you look at your clubs, they just don't look like they're yours, you know. Well, somebody must have been in here messing with my clubs (laughter). No, but they was mine. I held them. I wish I had an explanation.
JASON TAYLOR: All right. Thanks, Helen.

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