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September 21, 2011
MIKE SCANLAN: We'd like to welcome everyone to the 2011 Solheim Cup. We have with us here three legends of the U.S. Solheim Cup team. On my far left, needs no introduction, obviously, the first ever playing Assistant Captain for the U.S. or European team. She also is the U.S. record holder in points earned, Juli Inkster.
JULI INKSTER: Thank you.
MIKE SCANLAN: Next we have Cristie Kerr who also has made a name for herself not only in the Solheim Cup, but with 14 wins on the LPGA. One of the top American players for the last ten years. And finally, Paula Creamer, undefeated in singles play in the Solheim Cup, making her fourth appearance.
Juli, out of respect, we'll start with you.
JULI INKSTER: Oh, that's great. Thanks.
MIKE SCANLAN: If you would, just talk about being the first ever playing assistant, and how you actually came to be playing on this team rather than just captaining?
JULI INKSTER: Well, it just kind of evolved. I really never had any intentions of playing, but here I am. So it's been -- it's been quite interesting trying to do both. I'm not sure I recommend it, but it's been a great experience working with Rosie and Sherri and learning that side of it.
I think the playing part is easier, but you need that part for the playing part to make it all work. I'm excited to get out there and play now and see what happens.
MIKE SCANLAN: Cristie, you've become a leader on this team over the last couple of events, and I know you've taken some of the younger players under your wing recently. Can you just talk about what it means to be here, and what it means to be able to share knowledge with other younger teammates?
CRISTIE KERR: It's great to be here in Ireland. It's going to be my sixth Solheim Cup. It's hard to believe that I'm already one of the veteran players on the team. I mean, it seem like yesterday I was just playing in my first one. Rosie Jones was actually my first Solheim Cup partner ever, and she was able to give me a lot of great advice playing in the matches with her and on and off the course, in Interlachen.
I'm just trying to give the younger players, rookies, confidence to know that they can play as great as they've been playing even in this kind of format, and that they can come to us for any advice or any questions they may have and that we're there for them and they're not alone. Just trying to give them confidence and help them to play their best.
MIKE SCANLAN: Paula, 3-0 in singles, and you've become one of the most respected U.S. Solheim Cup team members. How do you feel here in Ireland, and how do you feel about the match-up against Europe?
PAULA CREAMER: This is my fourth Solheim Cup. I was talking about it earlier today. I'm 25, and here we go. It's incredible, I think, the team that we have. The big thing about this golf course and this event is your match-up and your pairings.
I think we all get along so well. It's things like Cristie's saying, doing dinners, and getting everybody to become one is something that I've learned in the past three Solheims that I've been on.
The records, just I love it. I love this format. I love match play. I love playing against somebody else. You're not playing the golf course this week, you're playing your opponent, and there is nothing better than going out and just grinding out pars to win matches, grinding out birdies.
Playing in Ireland, this is my first time over here. I just can't get over how nice the people are. They are just so supportive of all of us, and I think that's very nice when you are coming on foreign soil.
Q. Cristie, Ryan O'Toole talked about how you planted the seed in her mind that she could make the Solheim Cup team. I saw you practice with her today. Can you talk about the challenge she faces and how you have been mentoring or helping her?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, for sure. I had met her a time or two before the U.S. Women's Open this year, but I got a chance to play a practice round with her. We got on very well and talked about life on Tour and different issues in playing and not getting the rookies and younger players not getting to play that many tournaments and stuff.
I said it was hard. I said my rookie year I didn't get into a lot of tournaments, and you've just got to kind of play better and everything else takes care of itself. You're the kind of player with your length and dynamic game that we could use on our Solheim Cup team. Little did we know that she would make it this year.
She's a great player. She's a great girl, first and foremost. Yeah, it's been great to get to know her.
Q. Do you think women, the Solheim Cup ladies from America, are better than the men at being as one, as you've said, Paula?
PAULA CREAMER: I think that you can see when we're walking around, we're playing practice rounds, we have a lot of fun. It's kind of a difficult question. I think that we've made it our priority to become one. Our games, we all have control over that. But becoming a teammate and becoming a partner, there is a whole other strategy to that.
I think that we all have the same mindset. We love representing our country, not saying that they don't or the men don't, but really all two years we do things together. We try and make dinners. We try and make time because this is such a big week for us.
Juli or Cristie, I'm sure you can elaborate more.
JULI INKSTER: I think sometimes the guys get a bad wrap that they don't mesh. I think it's just a girl thing and a guy thing. Guys just -- girls like to chat and go out to dinner and braid each other's hair.
CRISTIE KERR: This is the first time I've had a braid in my hair in a really long time, and I didn't do it.
JULI INKSTER: Yeah, really, to me, it's two different things. I really think the guys get a bad wrap. I think they do get along. I think they do like playing for each other. It's just a guy's thing.
Q. Cristie, you switched putters last week. Can you just talk about that decision and what putter you'll be using this week?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, that was an interesting one by me, but it was in an attempt to get better. I'm always looking for ways to get better and improve my game. I've been playing so great and hitting it well, making a couple more putts a couple of weeks this year, and I walk away with a couple of wins instead of a second or a third or a fourth.
Sometimes golfers can be a little crazy. Sometimes you think well, if I switch putters and I can make those extra putts that it's kind of the magic pill. I'm just going to win. And sometimes it has the opposite effect and it kind of affected my whole game last week, and it's not the club's fault, obviously.
But I'm back to my old putter this week and putting great. So lesson learned, and I guess that proves sometimes golfers do crazy things to try to get better.
JULI INKSTER: Lock it in.
Q. Can you just remind us what you switched from and to?
CRISTIE KERR: I currently have an Odyssey Marxman, and I tried last week a Ping -- it's called a Wolverine. It's very similar to the putter that I won the U.S. Open with.
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, that was the Crazy. Last week was the Wolverine.
PAULA CREAMER: Wolverine, Marxman, Crazy.
CRISTIE KERR: The Marxman is my heat-seeking missile. That's what I called it when I first got it, and I won the first week with it so it's stuck.
Q. Juli, you've played a lot with Paula and had her as your partner in the Solheim Cup. Can you talk about what makes her tick and why she's so good in this format?
PAULA CREAMER: You want me to leave?
JULI INKSTER: You know, Paula has got heart. She's got spunk. And she loves the Solheim Cup. You don't have to get her all fired up. She's fired up as soon as she gets on the plane. Plus she's got a little bit of talent to go along with that, so that kind of adds up to success.
I really enjoyed playing with her. I think we're pretty comfortable with each other.
Q. How important will the mental side of the game be this week?
CRISTIE KERR: Mental side's huge. Match play is definitely more of a mental game than just playing and teeing it up four rounds in a regular tournament. You have to be ready to go right from the git-go, and you have to have the right mindset to want to get your opponent down early and keep going.
It's definitely a -- match play is definitely more of a mental mindset, you have to have that to be able to win your matches.
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, that's true. But you want to embrace that as well because you can use it to play better.
Q. In Solheim and Ryder Cups, it all seems to be tough for the rookies, and Europe's got five rookies this year. So do you think that makes you the favorites?
JULI INKSTER: Everybody says favorites and non-favorites. You can't play on paper. You've just got to go out there and play. I think this is the deepest the European team has ever been. I think the rookies that they have on their team are playing very well. They have a lot of confidence. They've been playing well over here.
I don't know how you guys keep thinking we're favorites. We're going out there and playing like we're underdogs?
Q. The Ryder Cup last year was pretty soggy affair, and it looks like we're going some more wind and rain in the next few days. How does that affect the way you approach the match? Do you have a lot of experience -- I'm sure you do -- but do you think your team has more experience in bad conditions?
PAULA CREAMER: Well, no (laughing). We don't come over here and play in this. Obviously, today showed it. I don't know how many of their players went out and played, but we were all out there playing nine holes. Getting used to the wind, getting used to the rain, wearing rain jackets. Normally we have lightning storms and we go in. So for us it's an adjustment.
But we're all grinders. You grind it out if it's blowing 40 miles per hour or not. It's the Solheim Cup. We do have experience in the British Open and things like that. But like I said, at Solheim, you don't even feel it's raining. A normal practice round, I'm not sure we'd all be out there playing in this, but we have to do it for this week.
Q. Can I ask you collectively, what would you say is the status of ladies golf in the United States at the moment in relation to five years ago? Is it growing, is it standing still, or is it in decline? The second part of the question, how does your Tour relate to the club golfer? Is there a synergy there between you and is that growing as well?
JULI INKSTER: Well, our Tour has changed. We're a world tour now. We're global. We have a lot of diversity on our Tour. We play a lot overseas, which, that's just the way our Tour is heading. I don't think we're in decline at all. I think, if anything, we're going up.
The last few years with the economy and everything, it was difficult, but we held our own. I think that was a real test. I think our commissioner, Mike Whan is doing a great job. He's building a soiled base that he can grow from. And I think we have a lot of great, young players coming out that are playing very well, American and foreign players. I think it's good.
As far as the club thing?
CRISTIE KERR: I don't know how you answer that.
JULI INKSTER: I don't know how you answer that either. I think golf is down in the United States. I don't think there are as many rounds being played. I think with the economy and everything the way it is over there, I think the first thing people are cutting out is their fun, and golf is a luxury, it's not a necessity.
But I think you can say that pretty much around the world that golf is in decline a little bit. So we, as players and LPGA, PGA, Nationwide, Champions Tour, we've got to keep promoting golf because I think it's a great sport for young kids to get into. I think it teaches them a lot about life and a lot about growing up.
So, hopefully, the economy changes a little bit and we can get more youngsters out there playing. How was that? I thought that was great.
CRISTIE KERR: I thought that was great.
JULI INKSTER: I think I just nailed it.
Q. An easier question, Juli, can you talk about your sub when you're out there playing, Kathy Whitworth, what she'll be doing and how she came to be a part of this?
JULI INKSTER: Yeah, so when I'm out playing, Kathy Whitworth is going to be the assistant captain. Rosie's very close to Kathy, and I just think it's such a great choice.
Kathy Whitworth is the goddess of golf. She's got such a calm demeanor about her whether you're 5-up or 5-down, she can come up to you and give you a little bit of a hug or a pat on the back and you just feel better.
Every player in this room has the most respect for Kathy Whitworth. It's great for the younger players to be around her and to get to know the history of the game and just to get to know Kathy. I think it's a win-win situation.
Q. Paula, can you comment too?
PAULA CREAMER: I actually met Kathy when I was 14 years old at her event in Mira Vista in Texas. Ever since then we've kept in contact, emails, phone calls, everything. To have somebody like that on your side, it's incredible.
The stories. Just like Juli said, when you're in the same room with her, you feel better. I feel like I can go and shoot 54 after talking to her. She just has a great aura around her and the way she speaks to you. We have so much respect for her. Who couldn't? I mean, 88 wins, that's never going to be broken, and that's something that I think is more impressive, just her demeanor and the person that she is.
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, definitely. If I had a comment, I was going to lead with what she just finished with. It's impressive the amount of wins obviously of all time. She is the greatest. But the kind of person she is, makes you want to become a better person and just draw upon that experience that she has, which is it's invaluable to have her as part of our team.
JULI INKSTER: And it's great for -- I consider them younger players, but, you know, to say that, to know who Kathy Whitworth is, and JoAnne Carner and Pat Bradley and stuff like that, and Marlene Hagge, and all of these people, the people that have made this Tour. It's great for the younger players to recognize that and to go up and thank them and acknowledge them because it means a lot to them, and it means a ton to us.
Q. Given the U.S. Team's domination at recent Solheim Cups extending back to 2003 and given the number of players who aren't from Europe or the United States at the top of the world rankings, do you think it's time the event was expanded to embrace international players on the European side and perhaps give you guys a better challenge to make the event more relevant?
JULI INKSTER: No, no. I think we need to leave it the way it is. You look at the past three Solheim Cups, it was close. It was close until the last day. We were behind a couple of those times.
I don't think we need to change it at all. I think this is what the Solheim Cups all about. I think we have like a Lexus Cup or something like that where we bring in the world players.
I think sometimes you just have to stick with tradition. I don't think you need to tweak things all the time. I think this is something we started in 1990, and I think it's something we need to continue.
I love the tradition about this. This is the way it needs, for me, needs to be played.
PAULA CREAMER: And I played on the Junior Solheim Cup team, and I remember when I was 16 years old and I came over. That's what I wanted to do. I wanted to be on the big girl team. So even for juniors, being on a Junior Solheim Cup team, it's all about tradition. It's all about watching and that's what you want to represent and be a part of that. I think there is no way you should change history. Keep it going.
Q. Juli, you were 20, I think, in your rookie year, weren't you?
JULI INKSTER: No, I was 23.
Q. 23. So now you have winners at 16. So how do you feel about that -- well, Paula may have a slightly different view -- but how do you stop people thinking that they're too old at 20 to become pros or that they have to become pros at 16 or whatever?
JULI INKSTER: Well, I think everybody kind of peaks at different times. I didn't even start playing until I was 15, so that doesn't mean that I couldn't become a good player. Lexi Thompson, she's just a great player. I think every once in a while you get one of those.
Paula came out right away and played well, Morgan played well, and Aree Song, they came out early and played well. It's just different now.
When I was growing up, I really did not know what the LPGA was. It wasn't a goal of mine to play on the LPGA. I just kind of fell into it. Now these girls are growing up and they know what the LPGA is. They know they want to be a professional golfer. There are a lot of opportunities out there for them to become that.
We never had video. We didn't have academies. We just went out and played with the guys, so it has changed. Whether it's right or wrong or whatever, that's their dream. That's what they want to do.
Having two girls of my own, I want them to follow their dream, and having the opportunity to play on the LPGA because of the Kathy Whitworths and the people before us, they have that opportunity. You know, he think it's great.
Q. Cristie, Suzann Pettersen has been claiming you've been trying to set up a singles match against her for revenge for the loss at Sybase. Any comment on that and confirm it if it's true?
CRISTIE KERR: I know she's been kind of spreading that message because she told me she was going to spread that message, so, there (laughing). But if I end up playing with her, it would be great. I can't think of anything better than the number one points earner for them and number one points earner for the U.S. playing each other and duking it out for the Solheim Cup and hopefully bringing it out for the U.S.
So if that's the way it's meant to be, that's the way it will be. The captains know what's best and where to put us in the lineup. That's more important than playing a revenge match or a grudge match. That's what we're keeping our eyes on and focused on.
JULI INKSTER: I think that is the greatest thing about match play. It's one day. You know, you could probably play ten times and Cristie would win five and Suzann would win five. It's just who's got it that day? And I'd take Cristie -- but, never mind (laughing).
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports