Sunningdale Golf Club
29th July 2008
COLIN CALLANDER: Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the 2008 Ricoh Women’s British Open. We have Helen Alfredsson here before us having just won the Evian Masters for the third time in your career. Congratulations. How do you feel?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I feel great. I love that event and it’s been quite good to me so we do good together.
COLIN CALLANDER: You’ve also won this tournament, as well, albeit not here. Do you have fond memories of this event?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Yeah, I do. Not so much in the last few years I haven’t, but you know, obviously since the British Open was my first win on The European Tour, it means a lot to me.
COLIN CALLANDER: How has the win in Evian changed your perspective in any way coming into this tournament?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Not really. I played well this year. It was nice to win. That was awhile ago. No, I’ve been playing quite well so I look forward to it.
Q. What got you going again?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Well, I know it sounds so odd to say it, but that injury was something that had probably been there for a long time, and just something that I feel in my right hand having strength and feel, which was something I didn’t realise how bad it was compared to how I feel now.
So all of the practise and everything that I had put in the last five or six years never gave any results, and then this year, you know, because they found this problem with a herniated disk in my neck. They obviously went all the way out, and now my finger, I couldn’t even hold the club in my right hand.
It gradually gets to that point, but the practise I put in this year and the swing changes that came with it, obviously, you know, you get some feel back.
Q. Do you feel winning is now possible again?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: It’s all possible. It was nice to win again and nice to make such putts when I needed to. That’s the biggest thrill in life I think as a golfer to make them when you need to and finally to walk off with the trophy.
Obviously I feel like in a very different perspective now. I probably enjoy golf the way you probably should do from the beginning. I enjoy playing golf and I enjoy hitting good shots. It’s not the end of my life anymore. I have other things. I love my life outside the golf course. I have a great family and everything and it’s kind of a happy medium. I care enough about the game now.
Q. Now that you’ve won again, will you be changing your schedule?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Not really. I still go as I feel. I don’t sit in January and plan. I go as I feel. Obviously when this happens, it gives you a few more options. I didn’t play much any of the last four or five years. I’ve been tired and haven’t been feeling very good. I might even go to Asia this year or I might get a chance to play another few events.
Q. Was there a point last year where you thought you might be done?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Well, it was hurting and I was not having any fun. You know, every day felt different. I hit shots that I had no explanation for. You know, usually my iron shots had always been my strength. If anything else failed, I had my irons, and I would hit my irons 40, 50 yards off target, which has never happened, and I have no explanation for it. Obviously somebody, please, if you look at it in video, it doesn’t really show if you hold it with your right hand or not if you’re hitting it.
I think I welcome the fact that I was injured, and obviously I was busy with the Solheim Cup anyways, so it all turned out to be a good thing, but of course, not just last year. I mean, I’ve had questions six, seven years ago. Because it’s hard to come in with a good attitude every year and work out really hard in the off season and feel like you’re in good shape, and you work out on the golf course on hitting golf shots and absolutely no results.
I think it’s the hardest thing for an athlete when you feel like you’re doing everything you can and you’re getting nothing out of it. I think golf is as hard as it is because you lose so much more than you ever win, unless you’re Annika, but there’s only one of her. And then where do you then gain your strength from or your energy from? It’s from the game, and I never got it. And it wasn’t just last year; I would have felt this for a long time.
Q. When did you first get the diagnosis?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: No, it was last year. I think it was after Sybase, I just had all this tingling, the arm felt like a huge noodle, and I would have to lift it up. I couldn’t even lift it up on my own, and then when the Tour thanks to the guys in the fitness van which have been great to me. They sent me to this doctor and they X rayed and they saw that it was pretty bad herniation.
So then they started to help me with some therapy and it started to ease up a little bit, and then my nerve, it took a little bit longer for the nerve to calm down, but it was basically last year that that was a problem.
Q. What has been the reaction of your fellow pros since winning Evian?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Actually quite nice to me. People have been congratulating me and it’s been very genuine. I guess they feel that I’ve struggled and I think I’ve always been nice to them, too. It’s nice to see people win and it’s nice that they enjoyed my win, I guess.
Q. Anyone in particular?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: No, I didn’t know the Koreans spoke so well English. They have been very, very nice and I think that’s been a very pleasant surprise. They have been terrific, all of those. Obviously we all know each other, the other ones and they have been terrific.
Q. Did they not usually speak?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: No, they speak. I think we understand them more and more. I’ve had some great conversations with them this year. But I think sometimes it’s hard for us to understand our parents in Sweden; they can’t wait for us to move out and be on their own, you know. And the Korean parents, they stay with them for all this time, and you know, like I didn’t even know Seon Hwa Lee had been pro since she was 14. And when you’ve been told
basically what to do all your life and not to have any opinions; I think it’s hard for us to expect them to start asking a bunch of questions when that has never been asked of them before.
I think they started feeling much more comfortable with us and we enjoy them more, and I think that the Tour is getting very good with that. I mean, we integrate a lot better and we understand each other.
Q. What was your husband’s reaction to your win and what was his input in it?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Well, he was more happy that he got ten more years to stay at the Royal Hotel because he enjoys that, too. He enjoys that week.
It’s fun because he’s a very good golfer himself and he loves to practise. For me to just have somebody to practise with, when times are rough and you don’t always feel like getting up in the morning and go out, he has always been the one that’s been keen on going out.
Then he wants to learn new shots and that sort of kept me on my toes, too, and so I help him and a lot of times we get very complacent. We hit the same shots and we work on our games, and he’s like he loves to play and have fun.
Just to keep me up and keep me practising. It’s been tough sometimes to get up, because you wonder why, because you don’t see any results, and then you start questioning yourself and when you start going down mentally, that’s the last when you go into a slump, I think that’s the last part that leaves you, but it’s also the last part that comes back, because you have to work so hard coming back.
I think obviously with his experience in sports, he’s been a great help and just helped me getting out there and helped me staying fit and working out. So no, he’s been great.
Q. Do you still hit the ball as far?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I think I’m hitting the furthest that I’ve ever done, yeah. I have no idea why. I guess because I think it has to do with how my right hand it working. I can be much more aggressive. Before I just basically swung with my left.
So, yeah, it’s been a nice addition, actually. I’ll take it.
Q. Your chances this week?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Well, if I can continue to play to where I played, and obviously my putting was the big key, which is always is when you win to make putts. You never know, but this is a big event, and, you know, we have so many good players now on Tour. So it’s obviously it’s harder and harder to win. I was very happy for my win last week and of course I’m going to give it my best shot. You never know.
Q. Who will be the most dangerous Europeans this week?Or who else will go well?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Well, of course Lorena is always going to be there. You have the Koreans, they are very strong and very steady. Annika, I think she’s sort of keen on finishing on a high note obviously, which she has won everything, so I would have just quit a long time ago and just enjoyed it, but I’m not her obviously.
Q. Did you try to persuade Annika not to quit?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I asked her last week, how she felt with the decision she made, and she said every day, it’s more and more clear for her. I think we mentioned this last week in the press conference, and I think asking athletes because obviously with the struggle I’ve had, you know, when that day is going to come, how are you going to feel. And I talked to my husband who played hockey and other people, and they all say the same thing, you know exactly when the day comes that it’s over.
I think what Annika said is the best point is to quit on your own terms, which she obviously said in a few interviews, because I think it’s the hardest one you have to quit because of injuries, that you never feel like you finished. As an athlete, it’s a blessing if you can finish on your own terms.
Q. Thoughts on Sunningdale?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Oh, I think it’s a fantastic place. It’s so fun to play a little different type of game. Obviously you never know what you’re going to get here. It could be very nice and calm, and, you know, just need a little bit of wind and your total course management has to change.
But it’s fun. It’s a great change from what we normally play, and I think I have never heard anything bad about this golf course. Everybody super enjoys it, and from what I hear, it’s in fantastic shape, so we are all looking forward to it.
Q. What are the differences?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Yeah, I think it’s how far the ball runs and how you play into the greens and how you play much more of the slopes. You really have to know how the greens work in order to get close to the pin because you cannot always throw it at the pin. I don’t know how it’s been now because it’s been raining but you play the course much more.
You have to play with the course. A lot of times in the States, you have to drive up in the middle and throw up, because the greens are very receptive. Here, you have to sort of play with all of the breaks, even on the fairways and on the greens, and it keeps you on your toes.
Q. Do you think Annika is going to find this hard to win?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I don’t know, I think it would be the first time she finds anything hard on the golf course because she’s won so much.
I admire the fact that she still goes and finds the interest in doing it. I think she has a lot on her mind and it sounded to me when we talked last week that she has a lot of other projects she loves to do. I think what makes her so good is that when she sets her mind on something, she does it very, very well. You know, when she decides to do something, which she has done in the last ten years quite nicely, you know, if she ever wins again, I don’t think anybody would really be surprised. I don’t be surprised.
Q. Will this be a really big week for her?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: You know, obviously I cannot speak for her at all, but I think it’s one of those things that she knows what’s coming and she has achieved everything.
I think you can want to, but if your heart isn’t in it, I don’t know. There’s so many things you can tell yourself: I really love this, but do you really want it? And after all that she has achieved, I don’t know, obviously, but I would find that it very hard, especially when you know what’s coming; because you know it’s the end and you’ve been here and you’ve done this so many times, how could your heart be in it as much? Obviously she’s from a different breed, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she, you know, finishes on top here.
Q. As a young player, did you ever imagine that she be as successful as she has been?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I didn’t know her very well, because I was already in the States, but I remember I think I saw her and she had an enormous work ethic, and I think that really is something that shows a kid that stands out.
You know, the ones that are really willing to work hard and work on something and get it done. I saw that today, the kids come out today and they have a little excuse for this and that and surround themselves with people that tell them they are good enough and that’s enough for them and I think she belongs to that category that she wanted to perfect everything; and she did, and I think that she really set her mind on something and she achieved it.
But just what I remember from as a kid, she worked really, really hard, and it is no shortcut. I think that’s the same what Tiger did. All of the really top players, they worked really, really hard and you set a very good base for yourself, and then you can just move on from there.
Q. Does she work as hard as the Koreans?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: You know, I don’t know, I never no, I think in the later, I think she found stuff going on. Right now I think the Koreans do everything. They work out, they do this. I think she started out finding stuff as she went along to really get better. She can she can she worked out much harder in the end she decided they wanted to hit it further.
I think the Koreans, they just do everything. They work out, they absolutely
HELEN ALFREDSSON: I think it was very healthy what Annika did and worked very hard on her golf game, and when she turned pro she added stuff just to become a little bit better all the time.
I think sometimes when you’re young and you try to do too much, and every day, every waking hour is golf, I think that’s very difficult. And I know that Annika was a little crazy on the national team, she loves to do pranks and stuff, and obviously that’s not really the Korean way and I think she did have fun. And when she moved on and became as good as she is, she just kept finding ways to become better and better.
Q. What do you think about Michelle Wie playing on the U.S. men’s tour this week?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Oh, she does? She is? I feel kind of sad for her. I think she’s a very good person. I feel sad for the guidance that she seems to not have in the right direction. She was so good a couple of years ago when she finished second a few times, and instead of worrying about I don’t know who won the McDonald’s, I think it was Se Ri, and Michelle should really have won it. She missed the green with wedges and couldn’t get up and down; and instead of just keep working on that and working on winning winning is tough. It takes a different mind.
I’m sure if you put yourself enough times in that position, you know, then you can deal with it, and I think that’s how you become better. That’s how you learn to win. But if you never get yourself there and if you’re always trying to do something, I think the exhibition time for her is over, and we have some great, great players on the LPGA right now, and obviously Morgan has won, and Paula Creamer is a fantastic player and you have a bunch of young Koreans.
I think if she wants to be a golfer, she should really concentrate on being on the women’s tour and dealing with them and learning to win. Winning is what we are out here for, but, I don’t know, I just don’t see the interest really on being on the men’s tour. I didn’t know even know I thought she had quit that idea but obviously not.
Q. Will this event be great for Women’s golf?
HELEN ALFREDSSON: Well, I think a lot of them, I think, you know, the way Jacques Bungert and Franck Biboud has taken Evian Masters and what they have done with that tournament, I think the prize money is coming up significantly; British Open. I think the players and the way everybody looks now and the way everybody cares about themselves now, I think we are in a great time.
I’m very proud to be a part of the LPGA and how everybody, you know, performs and how they are week in and week out and taking care of themselves. It’s a bunch of great girls. We always say that girls can’t get along, but I will always remember how you have 144 girls every week and very little jealously because you respect people who do well, and I’m very proud to be part of an organisation that is in that way.
COLIN CALLANDER: Helen, thank you very much and good luck this week.
COLIN CALLANDER: Ladies and gentlemen, we have Rebecca Hudson, two time winner this year on the Ladies European Tour. You must be feeling fairly confident coming in here.
REBECCA HUDSON: Yeah, I played quite nicely since the beginning of the year. I enjoy this golf course. Not playing fabulous again at the minute, but hopefully I can turn it around the next few days.
COLIN CALLANDER: How much have you actually played here in the past?
REBECCA HUDSON: I’ve played a few Pro Ams and The Open.
COLIN CALLANDER: Who did you play with on the Sunningdale courses, if you can remember?
REBECCA HUDSON: A boyfriend, and I actually split up with him, and I didn’t actually play.
COLIN CALLANDER: So you shouldn’t have those problems this week then.
REBECCA HUDSON: No.
Q. Are you still friends?
REBECCA HUDSON: No. He wishes. (Laughter).
Q. Did you go back to working in a hotel last winter?
REBECCA HUDSON: I did. I haven’t been I kind of just do it just over the winter, so I was there this winter, end of December, January.
Q. Will you go back again now you’ve won on Tour?
REBECCA HUDSON: If I’m at home in the winter and it is that cold and there’s nothing else to do, yes, I would go back and help him out. Not to the extent that I used to for kind of other reasons, as well. It’s just very hard work. It’s extremely hard work.
I will go back if they want me.
Q. Do you enjoy working there?
Yeah, it is. I think in the winter, I do like my time off, and I do like relaxing and seeing friends and things, and it made me realise actually that I work at that, and how much I love to play golf and enjoy what I do.
I have some very good friends, and it’s such a different environment to being in the golfing scene, which is nice. But I think doing it for four or five months a year, I don’t think I could do it day after day after day after day, but it makes me enjoy being out here more.
Q. Have any doors opened for you since you won?
REBECCA HUDSON: No, not yet. I’ll be good. I was going to say, when you win back to back events and drop back two places in the World Rankings, I don’t think that’s going to open many doors. I think they are in a meeting and I think they will look at it and realise that No. 1 Gwladys is 120 something in the world and really she’s better than that.
As far as moving to America, we are getting stronger and putting a lot of hard work into new events and bigger events, and so I’m happy where I am and try to show that the European girls are good.
. Were you wise to the vagaries of the World Ranking System?
REBECCA HUDSON: Yeah, you always the following week after the tournament you go to the Web page and just think, oh, I’ll have a little look. I think they changed the system I don’t know how the system works. It’s a very complicated points system. I don’t know, when it first started, you looked at our No. 1s, and it looked quite fair. But in the last year we just seem to have just dropped and dropped and dropped.
Q. Whereabouts do you think the top Europeans should be?
REBECCA HUDSON: That’s just personal preference. Gwladys, who plays full time in Europe I have no idea. I wouldn’t like to say a number, but I would hope that she would be definitely in the Top 50 in the world. I mean, she played Solheim and won seven times in how many years; I would hope that she would.
Q. Is this something your management company can address?
REBECCA HUDSON: My management company is me. I’m part of the Players Council and a few of us have kind of said something to the tour and I think Alex and Marta are having a meeting today and just trying to push forward and just trying to make everyone aware exactly that it’s not a fair system at the minute. Overall, it’s not a very fair system.
We are not saying we all should be somewhere, but I think the LPGA probably has got the best players in the world. But then if you look at Japan and the LET, you would hope that they are on a par. I don’t know, I don’t study it that much, this is just my own reference and they are all in the Top 50 in the world. Our Top 15 are lucky if they are in the world top 500. We just need something that’s on some level.
Q. Did your situation highlight the problem?
REBECCA HUDSON: Yeah, that sounds good to me. I think they realise it’s a problem. I don’t think they realised that it has been a problem. If any of the European girls did well, it would make them look, and actually there are some girls out there with the game that could do it, there is. There’s lots of people who the spectators will walk up and not know who they are and that’s just a shame. There’s some great golfers out there at the minute.
Q. Would it make the system look ridiculous if you won this week?
REBECCA HUDSON: Yeah, definitely, the TV coverage we get and just the whole everything about the British Open just boost it is forward and I hope some of the European girls, that we do show what we can do. I hope there are some names on the leaderboard that they go, who is that but we know who they are because they are European girls, and I think we are very understated sometimes.
Q. Have you thought about playing in the States?
REBECCA HUDSON: I have, and it’s like anything. I think that if you’re going to go to the States, you have to have your life out there. It’s like anything, you’ve got to be happy doing it, and I think if I have something, if I wanted to move out to America with my husband and the whole thing, we would just want to go out there and be out there, then wonderful. But my personal thing is I don’t think I could go backwards and forwards and be happy.
So I am happy in Europe, and as I said, the golf is getting better and there’s more tournaments. It’s becoming a very good tour.
Q. Is there enough income here in Europe?
REBECCA HUDSON: Yes, when it’s good, it’s good. I think we haven’t got the whole in depth strength down as the Americans. To make a good living in the European Tour in the top 20, you would have to be. Further down than that, I know I had three horrible years when I first started, and it is hard work. Whereas if you’re 50th on the LPGA, you’re actually doing okay. In Europe, you’re struggling a bit. But the standard is better.
Q. So you’re not going to America, for the foreseeable future?
REBECCA HUDSON: No, I’m happy. I’m staying in Europe. We’re getting stronger and look forward to tournaments like this and Solheim Cup and try to qualify for that, would be good.
COLIN CALLANDER: Rebecca, thank you very much and good luck this week.
COLIN CALLANDER: We have Annika Sorenstam here. Annika, your last experience in a major championship I believe for you. Must be an emotional week for you.
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I believe you’re right, it is my last one, and it’s going to be emotional. I think it’s mixed emotions because I’m happy to be here. I’ve always liked make in the British Open and I’ve always liked Sunningdale, so I’m looking forward to the week.
COLIN CALLANDER: What is it you like about Sunningdale?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, I think it’s a true golf course. You know, it puts a premium on your driving. I would say it puts a premium really on all your shots. It’s a long golf course. You know, it has a mixture of a links feel the way it plays, but when conditions are the way they are after a little rain, you can still be a little aggressive and attack the pin.
Q. What are some of your fond memories of playing in the British Open?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: What memories I have? I have a lot of great memories. This has been a great tournament to me. I finished in the Top 10 a lot of times. I finished second several times and I’ve won it. I’ve always enjoyed it here.
Like I said, I love this golf course and I love links in general, and being a European, I’ve always looked up to the British Open with the history and so forth, so tons of memories.
Q. Does it feel any different coming to Europe
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: No, I don’t really feel any different. Everybody has been treating me well since I joined the Tour. I’m just here to play and I’m here to play as good as I can, and with that said, this is not a farewell tour by any means. This is my last season and I’m going to give 100 per cent and have a good year and hope to finish at the top.
My mind set is the same of course, talking about it is different, but the way I look at it is it’s another golf tournament and I want to focus on it and I want to do well.
Q. When you say you are going to give 100 per cent
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: It is a little tougher to get motivated nowadays. That’s one of the reasons why I’m stepping away, because it doesn’t come as naturally, and the desire and hunger is not there as it used to be.
I mean, when I was a rookie, I just couldn’t wait to play, and now I have to drag myself out to practise and to get going. But having said that, it’s different when it’s majors, tournaments that I really care about, and I get excited to play.
Q. Do you think you’ll come back in two or three years?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I wouldn’t say in two to three years, no. I’m not really sure. I want to finish this year first. I want to start the next chapter in my life and we’ll see what happens. If I get the urge, then I know I can come back
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: No, the door is not closed, and that’s why I didn’t use the r word. I said I’m stepping away, and all of my sponsors are staying with me. Maybe they are hoping that I’m going to come back.
So I’m going to continue to be involved with golf, either through the ANNIKA Academy, or, you know, these golf tournaments I’ll be hosting and so forth. So I’ll be keeping my game alive. Maybe not to the extent where it is today, but I will be still swinging and doing clinics and so forth.
Q. As the one woman
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, it wasn’t one particular day or one particular moment. I think it’s been coming on for a little while, and I felt this winter that it was very obvious that my focus wasn’t there. You know, the motivation wasn’t there, and it was very hard to set up goals. Setting up goals is very easy for me, I can do short term goals, and I can do long term goals. But it got to a point to where it’s one thing to say I want to win majors and tournaments, but how do you really feel about it, and does it drive you as much as it used to, and I realised it doesn’t.
Q. Was this a gradual realisation or
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I would say that, I mean, it’s mixed. Really the key is to be realistic with yourself and listen to what your needs are and what you want. I’ve tried to push myself very, very hard the last few years, and now it’s very tough to put in another gear. It’s like there’s no other gear for me to put in. I used to have one or even two extra gears when I needed to, and I just don’t have that anymore.
It’s sad in a way because I enjoy the competition, but the reality is what it is, and you know, I have a desire to do some other things, and I feel like I have extra gears there and it’s time to put them into work. So I’m excited about that, and I think there’s some fun challenges ahead, and I really can’t think of a better timing, because you know, I’m leaving on my terms. I’m leaving on a really healthy stage for the LPGA, and it feels good.
Q. Looking into the future 15 years ago, would you have believed what you have accomplished?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: No, I would not. There’s so many things I wouldn’t believe. Looking at the LPGA book right there, and I have several pages. I would have been happy with a photo and a bio of, you know, kind of some of my stats, but I’ve got five pages. So, no, I never would have believed you, no.
Q. Are there any particular projects you can tell us about?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Yeah, I can talk about what I’m going to do in the future for a long time. Like I said I’m excited about that. I’m going to start with the ANNIKA Academy which is my place and I’m going to share my passion for golf and fitness with my coaches. And really excited about the ANNIKA Foundation, which is all about creating dreams for kids either through scholarships or golf tournaments, designing courses. I’m on my fifth project right now, and I have a few others lurking around the corner that I hope to be able to get. Hosting events, clothing lines, and you know, the Web site that we’ve continued to improve, and then also I’ve just been announced the Ambassador for the USGA. It’s a great honour for me and I’m looking forward to working with them in different ways to grow the game and so forth.
So, you know, like I said, I’m not using the “R” word because I will not be sitting still. I will be going in different directions and I think it will be fun.
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: You know, I doubt that I can go out and play social golf just for fun for a while. The reason I didn’t say that is I competed in tennis for eight years and it took ten years for me to get over that. I’ve been a professional golfer for 15 years, so I mean, I hope by the time I’m 50, I can go out and shoot under 80. I guess that would be nice.
Q. Did you discuss with Tiger in any way your plans for the future?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I didn’t discuss with him, but I called him before I made the announcement and shared with him my plans and what I was going to do.
Q. And what did he say?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: He said: “I’m glad that you’re at peace with your decision and wish you all the best.”
He did tell me that I beat him to this and I said, “Well, it’s the only thing I beat you at,” but on the other hand, he’s kind of stepped away already, so I have another five more months.
Q. Have you been very emotional at tournaments this year?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I haven’t been that emotional. There have been a few tournaments where I’ve kind of choked up coming down the stretch, but I think it’s easy when you make the decision on your own, you know, when you feel content about something and you know it’s the right reason. I really don’t get that emotional.
You would think that I would be showing maybe more sadness of leaving, but you know, I am going to leave, but on the other hand, I feel like I’m not really leaving.
So therefore, you know, this is the last major, and I would love to play well here, but you know, it’s not the end of the world. I think I will come back here and play some golf some other time.
Q. How high are your expectations this week?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, my expectations are always high. I believe in myself and I know I can play this golf course, but the competition is tough and you just don’t know. But I mean, I’m going to try and stay as competitive as possible. I mean, I would love to win here. It’s the only major that I haven’t won two or three times, so you know, this could be if I could win here this week, and then I would say I’ve pretty much achieved everything that I possibly can.
Q. Do you feel any pressure?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I don’t feel any pressure. I would love to win. I’m in a different state today than I was a few years ago for that reason because I’m content with myself and I practise hard and I know the course and all these things, but I’m not going to go out there and pressure myself.
That’s another reason why I’m stepping away, is it’s very hard to wake up every day and go to every tournament and put pressure on yourself every single day. That’s very hard. What’s the.
Q. What’s the most common question you’ve heard throughout the years?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: “What do majors mean to you,” that’s probably one. I know the answer well: I care a lot about them.
Q. What will you miss the most?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I am a very competitive person. I love coming down the stretch when you have to hit that perfect 7 iron or you have to make birdie to force a playoff or hole a putt to win. You know, there’s a special adrenaline that pumps, and I think I will miss that.
You know, I will miss all of the friends out here. I will miss some of the courses, but I’m planning on taking my competitive drive into the business world and I think I’m going to need it.
Q. It’s very well documented that as a young girl you were very do you find it very intrusive
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: You know, I think I’ve been lucky in the sense that I’m well known within the golf industry, and when I wear a hat or my Oakley’s, people recognise me. But when I kind of dress up or when I’m more casual and let my hair down, not a lot of people recognise me, so I’ve always felt like I’ve got a good mix. If I want to be recognised, I just put a hat on. If not, I take it off pretty much.
Q. What Tiger has to go through
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I do, yes. He’s in a different world there. I don’t envy that at all. Like I said, I have a good mix.
Q. Have any players or has anyone tried to talk you out of your decision?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Not a player, but I’ve had family members, sponsor, caddie, everybody else, a lot of fans have just said, you know, do you want to do one more year, we’re going to miss you. It’s been very nice that way.
But I’m set on my decision, and I’ve said it before, this is not something I came up with during a little coffee break. This is something that’s been coming on for a little while, and I think for me coming back through injury just reinstated that I can do it. I’m playing good golf again, I’m back, and to me that just means a lot.
Q. The announcement about stepping away, Brett Farve
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Yeah, I think we were all a little surprised about his mixed move. What’s funny, though, is when I went to I was going to say Leadbetter, but it was Letterman I said I was going to spend some time with his family; I’m not really sure what I’m going to do now because he won’t be there.
You know, this is a decision I’ve made and normally when I make a decision, I stick with it, and again, like I said, I have no plans of coming back in the near future; if I ever will, then time will tell.
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: You know what I have to be honest, it’s a mix actually. There are four sponsors that are renewing knowing I’m quitting, which I’m very, very proud of that. We have found different ways for me to be involved with them and to continue the partnership, and it’s not just about being seen on TV.
There’s so much more, and I’m very, very proud of that, because we have built this partnership that’s more than just a logo on the chest or the sleeve. We really have built a bond, and it’s going to be customer entertaining and them sending their customers to my academy or them being involved in my foundation or them being involved with the AJGA which is a tournament I’m going to host in January. There’s so many connections and so much synergy between my sponsors that we are all really looking forward to the next chapter, and actually I have two sponsors that are delighted because now they can use me more.
I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but there is a lot more than golf, and it’s a lot more about the lifestyle and what I do and me as a person, and we’re finding that connection. So I think it’s pretty cool.
Q. How long were the contracts?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Oh, they all varied, but they go from two to four. And Rolex is five years, so there you go.
Q. How is the cooking coming?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I’m still cooking, cooking away, but it’s fun. I’m going to keep it that way for a while.
Q. How is the course playing?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I think the course is in absolute fantastic condition. You will agree it’s probably as green as we’ve ever seen it, with all of the rain, and especially last night, there was actually some puddles out there and normally you don’t see that here. Normally it’s as rock hard as this table.
The approach will be a little different. You will carry the ball into the green and you can even carry it to the pin on a lot of holes, but I think the setup is good and some of the holes have been lengthened and it’s playing really well. I think it’s fun.
Q. (Regarding Michelle Wie).
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Well, we all have different agendas in life. I had a wonderful experience and when I look back on my career; I will always think about that. I think that was really a turning point in my career, and as a person.
You know, I really don’t know why Michelle continues to do this. I mean, we have a major this week, and if you can’t qualify for a major, I don’t see any reason why you should play with the men.
Q. What’s your proudest moment in golf?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: The proudest moment? You know, I’m so lucky, I felt like I’ve achieved a lot more than I ever thought I could and it’s tough to single a moment out, but the first one would be the U.S. Open in ’95. That kick started my career, but then I also won what I think is one of the biggest tournaments in women’s golf.
Shooting 59, to be the first woman to break 60. You know, I’m so proud of a lot of things, and again, that’s why I’m stepping away. I’m very proud of my career, and you know, one or two more things is not going to change is. I have memories and that will carry me for a lifetime. I have a lot to be happy about.
COLIN CALLANDER: Annika, thank you very much indeed and good luck this week.
COLIN CALLANDER: Paula, thank you for joining us. I believe you’ve been out on course this morning. How was it?
PAULA CREAMER: Yes, this is the first time I’ve been here. The golf course is a lot different than it was yesterday, that’s for sure, with the rain overnight. It’s amazing how a golf course can change so much. But I do, I like it a lot.
There’s a lot of birdie holes but there’s a lot of par holes and you have to kind of take advantage of the par 5s for sure here. I think those are the big part of the golf course and those are where you really need to make your opportunities and capitalise on those, and the par holes, like 7, 5, a couple of those that you just need to take your pars and kind of move on.
COLIN CALLANDER: Do you think it’s a very different experience than St. Andrews last year?
PAULA CREAMER: Yes, definitely. This golf course, it’s like playing in the States, but at the same time, there’s so many different shots you can play from everywhere. Your creativity and your imagination has to really come out this week, and that’s something that I felt pretty lucky having a coach playing that kind of golf, and so he’s been teaching me different shots to play and practise before the tournament starts.
COLIN CALLANDER: You came in here with two wins on the LPGA Tour last weeks and a Top 10 last week, you must be relatively confident.
PAULA CREAMER: I have had a good start, and winning in the last three months and staying in contention, I think that’s the biggest part I’ve been trying to do is just give myself opportunities. Obviously majors are a big part of what I focus my goals on, but the U.S. Open was a big week for me, and I think that playing in the last group on Sunday definitely helps just knowing what it feels like to be in that situation and nerves and whatnot.
And coming into this event, I feel very prepared and I feel very excited to be here and hopefully it will be a good Sunday.
Q. What would it mean to win a major?
PAULA CREAMER: Like I said, it’s a huge goal for myself. There’s no reason why I can’t win a major. It’s just a matter of timing. The only thing I can control is my own golf. If somebody gets really hot, there’s nothing I can do about that, just try to stay there with them. It really would mean a lot to me. There’s so much that I want to do in golf and majors are definitely a big part of that.
Q. The final round of the U.S. Open this year, how did you learn from that and how has that helped you moving forward?
PAULA CREAMER: The first three days of the U.S. Open were totally different than how I went on Sunday. I was very patient and was out there making pars and making some birdies here and there and I got off to the wrong start on Sunday and kind of reverted back to my old habits of getting anxious, trying to go for pins and on the back pin I was long and things like that.
I looked at it and had a week off where I went home and just focused on what went wrong on Sunday and how to make it better, and definitely just decisions, poor decisions in the heat of the moment.
PAULA CREAMER: No, I mean, I love pink, I always have. I guess the harder questions are when I’m not wearing pink, people ask me, why are you not wearing pitch, but I always have something, it’s always there, even my ribbon or my spikes, or my anklet is pink. I like it and I like the colour and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me wearing pink. Ian Poulter wore pants on Sunday at British, and I thought it was pretty nice.
PAULA CREAMER: You know, I went over to St. Andrews, and I think it was March, before the Open, to kind of get that wow factor out of the way so that when I went to the event I was ready and prepared to play, and that was a huge tournament for us to be able to go there and play that golf course. It was, it was a big featfor women’s golf. Like I said, I tried to go over a couple months early to get that out of the way so I could go and focus on winning a golf tournament.
Q. Have you thought about how important a win would be this week with Annika in the field, her last major?
PAULA CREAMER: Forgot about that. Definitely that would mean a lot. You know that she’s going to go out here giving it her all, that’s for sure. She’s going to try to post as low scores as she can, but at the same time there’s so many great players in this field and they are going to want to do that same thing and win with Annika in the field.
There’s so many people out here that want to win, and I know Annika, she works so hard at the game and it works very hard to win my first major with Annika in the event.
Q. What do you think about the course, Sunningdale?
PAULA CREAMER: Yesterday was so different and so firm and so fast, and today it was much softer. The greens were receptive. They are just a little bit slower. You know, to me like I said, it’s mind boggling to me how fast it can change overnight. I hit driver, 6 iron into No. 2 yesterday and today I hit driver, 3 wood, and it’s just things like that. To me knowing that you never know what you’re going to get and any day you come out here the wind could switch.
It’s a great golf course and you have to focus on your tee shots. Those are the main priorities, because if you keep it in the fairway, you can have short irons in the hole.
Q. Annika said she didn’t know why Michelle Wie was playing with the men this week instead of qualifying
PAULA CREAMER: Yeah, I’m not sure, I don’t know why you would want to pass up playing in a major especially the British Open here at Sunningdale but she goes a different path and that’s not the pathway that I’ve taken. We’ll see what happens.
PAULA CREAMER: Well, Helen has had such a great year, and I’m so happy for her to have won that event last week. She’s been really playing well, putting well, just it’s great to see that.
And you know what, it’s just drive and it’s inner they fight to the end. Juli Inkster has always been my role model, because she grinds.
I love people who will give it their all and fight for it, and definitely Helen did that and in a three hole playoff with three holes, or two. It’s awesome and that’s what you want, it’s what you want to win tournaments just by showing who wants it more.
PAULA CREAMER: What do they do better? I mean, well, experience, I think that’s one of the biggest things. You see a lot of golf and you’ve been in a lot of situations. There’s so many different ways to get the job done at the end of the day, and I think the more that you can control your emotions and you know your tendencies that are going to come up emotionally and physically, I think that has a big advantage over things.
PAULA CREAMER: A lot from 50, 65 yards, bumping it up with an 8 iron or a 9 iron and still trying to fly it. I forget, I think it’s No. 11, that short par 4, you know, with that big mound in the middle of the green, if the pin is up front, you have no chance.
Just shots like that where you would never play in the States, different ones around the green and I remember chipping with 6 irons yesterday and trying to get to the ball as soon as you can, and obviously it changes when it rains but bumping and running it 65 yards, those are new ones for me but they work.
PAULA CREAMER: I think it’s great that you can stand there and hit a 58 degree wedge or you can stand there with a 7 iron or ultimately have a decision of what gets closer, and I like that. I think that’s what brings the best players to the top of the leaderboard is the creativity and imagination, and the biggest thing is trust. Everybody can say you can bump a 7 iron up to the green, but to do it is another thing.
PAULA CREAMER: Great, he won with Se Ri here, and he knows what it takes to win. He’s been around here many, many times and grew up here, ten minutes from here, and it’s huge. He tells me a lot, where to be aggressive, where not to be aggressive, and I’ve really taken a lot of advice from him.
Q. What’s his name?
PAULA CREAMER: Colin Cann.
Q. Do you know what town he’s from?
PAULA CREAMER: Is there like, a Surrey? I’ll ask him, I’m sorry. I met his parents for the first time, though, so that was nice.
COLIN CALLANDER: Paula, thank you and good luck this week.