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August 18, 2009

Helen Alfredsson

Suzann Pettersen


BETHAN CUTLER: Thank you for joining us for the final press conference of the day at the Solheim Cup. I'd like to introduce Suzann Pettersen from Norway, who's playing in her fifth Solheim Cup, and Helen Alfredsson from Sweden, who's playing in your eighth as a player, but obviously in the unique position that you were the captain in 2007 at Halmstad in Sweden. Helen, could you just give us your thoughts on how the week is shaping up for you so far.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: We are very happy with the team. It's a great team spirit, and I think we're playing -- everybody is playing pretty good.
BETHAN CUTLER: Obviously you were asked when you first made the team about how does it compare being a player to being a captain. How is it comparing now?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: It's much easier. I don't have to go and get anything for anybody, which is nice. I don't have to worry about anybody but myself, and since we are so selfish, it's much easier. (Laughter).
I think it's going to be more obvious when the tournament starts, you know, because you're out there and you're sort of involved with 12 players and what they're doing because you see it, and now you're sort of on your own and you have to really focus on your own game because you're playing.
BETHAN CUTLER: And Suzann, you wrote on your Twitter page that this is your favorite week. Why is that?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I just think this is a unique week for us to get together, team up, good friends, fellow competitors. Most of the year we compete by ourselves, we work for ourselves, we play by ourselves. This week we can play for each other, and you build friendships for life and you kind of share the passion. It's just a week of grinding, and it's so much fun.
BETHAN CUTLER: You also said that you have a great team. Why do you think that is?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, because we do. But I also think we're the true underdogs, but I still think we have the best team.
A lot of people over here don't really know all of our players, which I think could be a good thing. But they're actually playing very good, all of them.
This could be a very hard week. We've got to put the pedal down right off the gates, but I think we're ready to do that once Friday comes.

Q. Helen, I'm curious, 1990 you played in the first event, I believe. Can you talk a little bit about the evolution of the Solheim Cup? Sort of walk me through what your impressions have been over the years with this event.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Well, obviously it's amazing. I think in 1990 we could hardly give the tickets away, and here we are cheering ourselves on and just seeing what women's golf has come to when we see all the tents and all the hoopla around it. It's an amazing feeling to have been there from the very get-go with Mickey, sitting next to you. It was a lot of fun. We still have the same fun in the team room, but outside it's grown a lot.

Q. Helen, Juli Inkster was in here earlier, and she said this is possibly the strongest European team ever in the Solheim Cup. Would you agree with that?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Absolutely. I think, like Suzann was saying, some of these younger ones that are not very well known over here, I played with Tania today and Gwladys has been over a few times, maybe not played as well, but they play quite impressive golf, which is very nice to see. Yeah, I would tend to agree with her.

Q. Just as a follow-up to that, statistics indicate how difficult it is to win on U.S. soil. How big is the home-ground advantage and especially having home crowds?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Well, I think for us that are playing, we know that the Americans like to shout and scream, and the players that have been over here, we all know how it works.
But that's the same on our side, as well. Of course it's a little bit of an advantage, but I think it helps that you have been around it, and we try to tell the young ones that's just how it's going to be. You just have to focus hard on what you're trying to do.

Q. Suzann, how does it feel to get your old captain back as a player on your team?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I prefer her as a teammate. She's a player who will fight her heart out, but she also was a great captain.
It's two -- I mean, she knows what it's like to be on both sides now, but I think she did a great job in Halmstad. You are faced with a lot of different challenges that week, and you try to build your own team, and I think we were fairly close to getting the Cup back. And to have her sitting here playing, I think it's quite impressive that she's here.
No, I think so. Same with Juli Inkster and Laura Davies. There's so many veterans playing in the Solheim this year. I prefer her as a teammate.

Q. Would you like to tee up with her on Friday morning?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I'm not going to tell you everything.

Q. I was going to ask you, what difference, if anything, and are you pleased about fourballs starting the competition rather than foursomes? What are your thoughts or feelings about that?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I thought that was a bad move, to be honest, because it's always fun to go out in a foursome because it's very hard for the captain to see who's actually playing well because you don't get in your own rhythm, so it's kind of a guess for the four ball.
Now you can kind of play your own ball in the morning, get comfortable, and then it's always easy to play foursomes in the afternoon. I thought it was a lot of fun playing a foursome in the morning straight out of the gate. I mean, it's such a huge test. You might not hit that many shots your first 30, 40 minutes, depending on how the course sets up. You might only putt really.
This makes it easier for the captains.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I didn't even know it had changed, but that's okay. I'm sure it's good. (Laughter).

Q. How much more difficult will it be for your captain with all these oldies on the team who won't be able to play five matches or whatever? How will she cope with that?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: We are stronger than you think. Age is just a number, dear. (Laughter). We have all the young ones. This is where we send them out, go, go, go.

Q. How did you find that when you were captain, having to gauge who was able to play, who you were going to rest when?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Well, I think you more judged what they were playing. It's a week that you have more energy than you ever thought you would have.
You achieve more than -- all of us, I think both teams, always say that you wish you could play like this every day because the intensity and the way you hit your shots and the focus that you manage, it's a very unique week in many ways, but that's certainly one of them. But we see so many good shots and such good play.
You have all the energy from your teammates, as well. When you're by yourself, every time you go in the team room, there's somebody there. You laugh all the time and you get all this energy, and of course you're falling dead on Monday, but it doesn't matter; it's all over then.

Q. How do you both like the golf course, and are there any particular keys to playing it well?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: The course is a great -- the course is great. It's in very, very good shape. Obviously there hasn't been too many players out here before we got here. There's only 50 members here.
It's literally -- as soft as it is right now, the fairways are fairly wide, I would say. The greens, I would say, there's small undulations and sort of slopes on the front nine compared to the back nine. Some par-5s are reachable. There's some good, solid par-4s out there.
So I mean, if it stays wet, it's going to play long, which I think is good for us. We have a lot of good ball strikers on our team. We can hit the ball high and soft and kind of shape it both ways.
Front nine you have a few more doglegs in corners, and I think on the front nine you've just got to make sure you're positioned to attack the pin.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I think it's a very nice golf course. It's a very fun match playing golf course. It's tough. You have to hit good shots. I don't know, I was very happy and very impressed when I got here. I really like it.

Q. Helen, what's the single best thing not being a captain?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: That you don't have to do anything for anybody else. You can sleep better. You know, you do your own thing.
I enjoyed very much being a captain. I had such a great team. But it is -- when you're as emotional as I am, you lead 12 players in a different way than when you're on your own. You're all a team, but you still concentrate on your task at hand rather than worrying about everybody else.

Q. Has being captain made you a better team member, or are you more sympathetic now towards your captain?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: You should know that. No, we're never empathetic to anybody.

Q. Just checking.
HELEN ALFREDSSON: You were hoping, but no, sorry. (Laughter).
BETHAN CUTLER: Thanks very much for doing this.

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