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September 14, 2011

Paula Creamer

Sandra Gal

Maria Hjorth

Christina Kim

Michelle Wie West


THE MODERATOR: Thanks, everybody, for coming today. The Navistar LPGA Classic is the final tournament that we have before the biennial Solheim Cup. It's always an exciting event between the U.S. Team and Europe. We've got five of our Solheim Cup members here today, two from Europe and three from the U.S. Team. We've got Sandra Gal here from Germany, Maria Hjorth from Sweden, Christina Kim, Paula Creamer and Michelle Wie. I'd like to open it up for questions.

Q. Can you guys just talk a little bit about some of you are Solheim Cup veterans and just your experiences in the past and what makes this event such a fun time?
MARIA HJORTH: Well, I've played four Solheims before, this will be my fifth. It's been a really great experience coming in, now playing the fifth is obviously -- you know what to expect. You know what's coming. You know everything that is around and what's there for you. I think we have five rookies this year, so having this many rookies I think it's important to let them know and understand that you're going to be tired, you're going to be exhausted. You have no time for yourself, there's so much going on that week, and just letting them know it's okay, you're going to be overwhelmed and going to be so much going on and letting them know the feelings that you had when you were there for the first time as a rookie and what's going on.
But it's such a great week, and it's an amazing atmosphere. I think the pressure you have at Solheim, it's like no other tournament. You just can't explain. You have to be there to kind of realize what it's like. It's just amazing, really great.
CHRISTINA KIM: I know this is going to be -- I'm essentially a rookie going into Europe. This is going to be my third Solheim Cup but first one in Europe. A little part of me doesn't quite know what to expect. I know it's going to be, like Maria said, an incredible atmosphere. It'll be a bit different, but it's going to be absolutely thrilling, and we've got three rookies -- excuse me, two rookies on the U.S. team, and it's going to be great -- three. We've got an incredible amount of personalities on our team, and like Maria said, it's going to be a grind out there, and Maria is going to do a great job because being a mother she'll be able to take care of the little ones.
PAULA CREAMER: I think the biggest thing is that you're playing on a team, playing on a team, there's nothing better than that. It's an individual sport, and when you get 12 girls together and become one there's nothing cooler, nothing better when you're standing on the green and you see them two holes away and you hear the cheers and the roars. It's incredible. Like Maria said, there's no pressure like it. I've never felt the way I have on the first tee like you do at Solheim. It feels like it's already here. You wait forever and then we leave Sunday.
It's a different atmosphere when you do go overseas, but it's fun. They're great, they respect our golf, which is very nice, and that's always a comforting thing when you do go over.

Q. How difficult would you say this course is compared to the courses in years past? Would you say this is very challenging?
CHRISTINA KIM: Well, you know, you can tell that there's been a massive change to the golf course in terms of the grass that they're using around the greens. You know, I was told earlier in the week that there hasn't been any play since June, which is a huge testament to the commitment that the people with RTJ have with the LPGA. It makes us feel like queens. You come here and the fairways are pristine, there hasn't been a pitch mark on the greens. It's pretty remarkable.
But it's hard. The greens are very, very fast, they're rolling true, and they're rolling really quick. But considering that they've been put in in June, they seem like they're very mature greens, which is a wonderful thing.
And now I can see where my approach comes in on 5, so I'm really happy about that.

Q. Does Solheim Cup make a difference to the American team or the European team -- do the Americans have an edge so far in the Solheim? Does it put more pressure on you guys to defend or you guys to win?
CHRISTINA KIM: Well, past is past and you've got to focus on the now. The Europeans have an incredible team. We've got 24 of the best golfers in the world that are out there competing, putting in all their heart and soul into playing the best golf that they can, and in the end as long as the game of golf wins, I think that we can all be able to leave smiling.
MARIA HJORTH: I think, too, the Europeans seem to be the underdogs every time. I think in a way we have nothing to lose. If we lose, everybody will say, okay, they were expected to lose. If we win, it's going to be huge and it's going to be remarkable. I don't think we've got anything to lose. We've got everything to win and just go out there and play the best that we can and we're going to put up a good match.

Q. (No microphone.)
MARIA HJORTH: We do. We have a very good team. I think the biggest thing is that everyone is playing really well and very consistent, and I think that's what maybe we've been lacking a little bit before. But now everybody is up there, and we have a lot of players up there in the World Rankings, as well. I think we've got a very good, solid, pretty experienced team, as well.

Q. Is it difficult to focus on the Navistar this week knowing what's ahead with the Solheim Cup, or is it looming over you when you're ready to tee off?
MARIA HJORTH: Well, for me, I think this week is this week. We still have to focus on this week and go out here and play good golf, and that's going to give you good confidence for next week and going into Solheim. I think you play this week, finish off Sunday, and go on the charter on Sunday, and then everything can start.

Q. How familiar are you with the course?
CHRISTINA KIM: I haven't played it a lot. I played the Irish Ladies Open the last two years and have spent a bit of time on the golf course and out in town, so I'm really, really comfortable in Ireland. The people are incredible, the buzz for the Solheim Cup is phenomenal. You guys are going to love the golf course. It's an incredible challenge.
Both teams are very skilled. Both teams are also very long, which I think is going to help both teams I guess I should say. But it's a very demanding golf course, and I know the course pretty well I'd like to think. It's going to mean for making a great Solheim Cup.

Q. (No microphone.)
PAULA CREAMER: My rookie year was in the States, so for me it was very different. When you're on your home turf and it's your first one, the feeling is a little bit different. But going overseas, it's hard. I mean, it's very tough. We don't have the behind-the-scenes support from everybody. We're out there in the U.S., and we've got everybody down to the camera guys to the boom guys out there pulling for us, and when we go over there, everybody wants Europe to win. So that feeling is very different.
But pressure is pressure. Every week we go against it. We were talking earlier, it is a lot different. It's much more impacted there. But I think the biggest thing is staying in your own world, and you've got 12 girls, or 11 other girls to rely on and your captains for that advice.
MICHELLE WIE: I agree with what Paula says. My first one was in America, so it was a little bit different. The only thing that I'm kind of thinking of right now or drawing up in my memory was when we played in the Curtis Cup and we played overseas, and that was actually my first experience on a team event, and it was very different. It was very different. In America on the first tee everyone is singing, chanting, everyone is like waving the American flag, so it's very different. But even though when we played -- I'm just drawing back a long time ago, but in the Curtis Cup, the crowds are very respectful. I think they were still clapping for us, cheering for us in some sense, and I really appreciated it.
So I'm really looking forward to it. I've only heard good things about playing overseas. Ryann is a little bit nervous, but at the same time she's got us. She's got the entire team, the captains, all the families, we're going to get her going, we're going to get everyone going, and I can say that we've got each other's back, especially overseas.

Q. Can you talk about nerves?
SANDRA GAL: Yeah, obviously it's my rookie time and I'm very happy that I can play in Europe the first time. I definitely want to talk to the veterans about it and trying to get a picture of how the whole week is going to unfold. I'm just very excited and I don't know what to expect, but I'm thrilled to be on the team. I've got an Irish caddie on the bag actually, so I hope we're going to have a lot of support from the Irish people.
I love Ireland. I love playing over there, and the people have been so, so nice over there. I just can't wait.

Q. Do the teams haze rookies?
AMERICAN PLAYERS: What happens at Solheim stays at Solheim.

Q. What is it like to have a co-captain who is also playing?
MICHELLE WIE: I guess I'll speak first. We've been asked a lot of times, and I think every time every single one of us gets so excited to talk about it. I remember obviously playing the last one, she was so riled up, and watching every other Solheim, she's always the one that is running around the greens and just cheering. I was very excited that she was going to be assistant captain, but at the same time I knew she was going to play, and I think it's a great experience for her. I can say for everyone that we're really excited.
PAULA CREAMER: No, I think it's great. I mean, 51 years old, make your way on the team, that's impressive. That just shows you how much fight she has inside of her. She wanted to get on that team. I know two years ago we sat there and I didn't hear her say that she wasn't going to play, that was her last one. I found out like a couple hours later, and I was like, what are you saying that for, are you crazy? It just shows how good she is and how bad she wants it, and I think that she's a great role model for a lot of girls to show that you can keep on going, you don't need to stop, especially with your passion.
CHRISTINA KIM: They both put it beautifully. I don't have much more to add, other than Juli has a role beyond our captain. It's like having a 13th player, and having Juli on the team and being an assistant captain, she's got a big load that she has to handle, but she's Juli. Everyone, going down in the record books, every Solheim Cup Juli is there since the dawn of time (laughing), and she's just an incredible human being and someone that everyone worldwide can look up to, and like Paula said, be able to draw from the fact that you'll play until the passion inside of you runs out, and that in itself is a pretty remarkable story and remarkable feat.

Q. (No microphone.)
SANDRA GAL: Well, obviously it's my first time so I haven't experienced her on the team, but just growing up she was one of the role models in women's golf for me or for a lot of European girls. She just has this incredible game that -- she plays like a man, basically. It's great to have her on the team, and I think it's definitely one person you can ask a lot of questions when it comes down to how this week is going to unfold.

Q. (No microphone.)
MARIA HJORTH: Of course we're motivated. I think it's -- you know, World Rankings, sometimes I can feel that it maybe doesn't really show who is playing the best right now, who's being more consistent. You know, the World Ranking works, the European Tour unfortunately doesn't rank as high as other tours, so in that regard, even if we have a lot of success in Europe, you don't really move up a lot on the World Ranking, so that might show -- even if you have players doing really well in Europe, it doesn't show on the World Ranking that they're playing well. So in that regard I think it doesn't really show the European girls' potential that they have.
Obviously playing out here for me and Sandra, it's easier, because it's stronger fields to move up in the World Rankings. So I think we're definitely really, really fighting hard to show that we can compete against these young, great American girls and beat them.
I mean, they've got a really, really young team this year, except Juli obviously, but she averages it out a little bit, but we have a lot more mixed ages in our group. We have like three moms in our group and all that stuff, which is so different obviously to the American team. But I think we can still show that we're great players. We're hard fighters, and we can put up a good fight.

Q. Is there any particular person on your team that you're incompatible with in personality or skill or whatever that you didn't enjoy playing with?
CHRISTINA KIM: I'll tell you when these two leave. (Laughter.)
I'd like to think that all of the players on the American team have every shot in the bag. We're all great off the tee, statistically we're all very good approach shots in, putting, chipping. All 24 players are amongst the 24 best in the world, so when it comes down to skill, there isn't -- you could put anyone from anybody on our team, and there is a good sense of camaraderie with the team that we have right now.
Obviously there's been some great matches, some great pairings in the past with Paula and Morgan, Paula and Juli, both Michelle and myself together, and there's any number of people. But I'll be mama bear if I have to or I will play the role of the rookie in Europe. I'm just happy to be able to be able to play at least one match.
PAULA CREAMER: I think the fact that we only have three rookies also shows that we've played a lot of golf together. You know, whether it's team practices or even out here, I've played with Brittany Lincicome I think the last four tournaments. So even though it's not necessarily -- you might not be playing with them, you still have that camaraderie between each other and you still have the capability of playing with everybody, and the fact that we do have three rookies is a good thing for us, that we can look at the past and see the pairings that we've had.

Q. Christina, you're very boisterous and energetic in Solheim Cup. Will it be any different over seas?
CHRISTINA KIM: Having the Ochocinco complex? I don't know to be perfectly honest. I am me, and I hope that people understand, when I cheer and celebrate, it's more in regards to the execution of the perfect golf shot. It's not because I beat someone or anything like that. Obviously adding a point to the American side is a wonderful feeling to have, but you want to win, obviously, but for me it's more about executing that perfect shot, and half that stuff back then was because oh, my God, I made it, as opposed to yes, I went 3-up on her or 5-up or whatever it was.
For me if I'm executing the perfect shots, I might be celebrating that. But I don't know what it's going to be like. I don't know. I don't know if I celebrate as hard when it's cold, because it's cold. I have no answer for that. I won't know until the time comes. I had no idea it was going to be like that my rookie Solheim. I had no idea it was going to be like that at Rich Harvest Farms. You don't sit there and plan I'm going to -- on hole 16 I'm going to do a handstand or this or that. You hope you never have to go that far, but there's no way to do it.
As long as people express themselves how they are able to release any potential negative energy, I think that's all both teams need to do, you know, and to celebrate the game, because in the end that's what it's all about.

Q. (No microphone.)
CHRISTINA KIM: I've got all the confidence in the world. I don't know what happens up there, the numbers don't add up, but I've got confidence. I ain't concerned about that. But the state of my game is actually in a very good place. I'm striking the ball really well, and I'm starting to get some of my distance back. I was injured a little bit toward the end of last year and kind of played and fought through it. But for me it's just a matter of going out there and just focusing on the one shot. Obviously I would love to win this week, as I'm sure these four girls sitting next to me would be able to say the same.
But I'm just excited to be out here. I'm happy to be back among them, I don't know how, but for me it's just a matter of executing my perfect shot. I'm in a really happy place.

Q. Each of you have played the course. Any idea how it's going to go? How do you see this week playing out here at Navistar?
CHRISTINA KIM: It's going to be warm. There's going to be a lot of Alabama fans, "roll Tide," and everyone is going to get it to the hole at least 18 times per day. I don't really know if we can handicap anybody, or the field.
MARIA HJORTH: I think it favors the long hitters a little bit because obviously there's quite a few dogleg holes where you can cut corners and get close to the greens. So I think in a way it favors a little bit of a long hitter. But I think also with the greens the way they are right now, I think it will favor maybe a little bit of a good ball striker because the greens are getting a little bit firmer. So obviously if you can hit good drives, like you always want to do on every course, but you're going to have shorter irons in and be able to hit the ball closer to the pin because the greens are very tricky. So I think that's really the main goal this week.

Q. Paula, you said something about Solheim being special because it's a team event. Can you talk about that?
MICHELLE WIE: I mean, I'd say also the team camaraderie, the whole experience of it. It's really hard to put it into words. But I think -- I guess going on what Christina said about cheering and everything, when something means so much to you and you make the putt or hit the shot the way you wanted to, it's just the best feeling in the world, being able to represent your country and seeing red, white and blue, stars and stripes everywhere. It's just a pretty amazing experience.
At the same time getting to know the 12 players a lot more. I think before Solheim I didn't know the girls as well as I do, and after that you're together and it makes you feel good.
PAULA CREAMER: The team and the memories, whether it was the firemen coming in at 5:00 in Sweden because Sherri Steinhauer set the toaster on fire, or whether it was our rookie year when our team meetings were in your room. It's things like that that you take back, and there's a lot of -- we play every week, but the most important memories for me come from being on the team, representing my country, and it's hard to believe that this is my seventh year and my favorite times have been in the Solheim Cup.
CHRISTINA KIM: Well, for me it's nothing more, just stories like Paula had said, the memories, and the camaraderie that you have on the golf course like Michelle said, they culminate into some of the most incredible stories that at dinner sometimes you just sit there and you hear from the captains who have obviously played several Solheim Cups who have memories from back in the '80s with teased hair and this and that to what happened the last time around. You hear some of the most amazing stories, and you hear the players' hearts, because even though you don't necessarily get that opportunity week in and week out, we all go to dinner, we do this and that, but when you have a group like that, there's this whole kumbaya experience and just knowing that it's history in the making. It's a pretty remarkable feeling.
MARIA HJORTH: I think also one thing, when you get up in the morning and you go to the team bus and go in the team bus to the golf course, that's something special, too, because obviously out on the road you never do anything like that. But being in the team bus, you play the music that you've decided for the week, it's going to be like pump-up songs, and those songs will be like -- it's going to be in your memories forever, like when you hear that song it's going to always remind you of Solheim. So things like that, it's things that are going to be special.
SANDRA GAL: Coming from Europe, I played a lot of team events, whether it was on the national team or even in the States for the college team. So I do have a lot of really good memories from that, and I just am really looking forward to know the girls better and just experience the same feeling on a much larger scale. You know, it's already started. We've had a few meetings, and it's already a team feeling, and we're all getting to know each other. So I'm really looking forward to just being one team and fighting for one common goal.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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