An Interview With: ANNA NORDQVIST, TANIA ELOSEGUI AND DIANA LUNA
BETHAN CUTLER: Thanks for coming in. I’d like to welcome the European team rookies to the press conference area this morning. We have Diana Luna from Italy, Anna Nordqvist from Sweden, and Tania Elosegui from Spain. Perhaps, Diana, would you like to start with a few comments? How is the week going for you, your first Solheim Cup?
DIANA LUNA: The week is going great. I’m so happy to be here to represent Europe and Italy, my country. It’s such a great week and a fantastic experience with all my teammates, and we are making a great team, I think.
BETHAN CUTLER: Anna, how are you enjoying the week so far?
ANNA NORDQVIST: It’s been great so far. I’ve had a lot of fun. I mean, it’s just so much fun to be around your teammates and learn from each other and just go out and play. I mean, it’s great.
BETHAN CUTLER: Tania…
TANIA ELOSEGUI: A wonderful week. I think everything is different for us, the crowds, the organization, the presents we’ve got, everything, just great.
BETHAN CUTLER: What kind of presents have you received so far? You have a lot of presents in your room every day, don’t you?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Yeah. What haven’t we got?
Q. How does your game feel? Everybody is talking about this big event and about Europe might make history on U.S. soil. How does your own game feel, your golf?
DIANA LUNA: I’m pretty confident I’m playing very good, and I hope to give my best during this week.
ANNA NORDQVIST: Well, I think everyone is as prepared as they can be, and I think everyone is ready for the tournament to start, and I think everyone is feeling good about their games. So it’s going to be exciting.
TANIA ELOSEGUI: Yeah, I think we’re all playing great, so we’ll see.
Q. Question for any of you. Is there still a case of the nerves, and is it bigger now before play actually begins, or would it be bigger before a big hole or during the first several days of competition?
TANIA ELOSEGUI: I think everyone is going to be nervous tomorrow, even the Americans. I think, I don’t know, I think everyone is going to be nervous on the first tee. But that’s something that we have to manage to handle.
Q. Tania, Alison told us yesterday about Ollie giving you a motivational video, I guess, and I understand you’re friendly with him, maybe play some golf with him back home. What did that mean to you, his motivational speech, and has he said those things to you on a personal level?
TANIA ELOSEGUI: Olazábal, no? Yeah, it’s amazing. I know him quite a lot. We practice a lot back in Spain, and he gave me some advice before coming here, and I received a little CD with his speech telling me things the other day. I was so impressed by what he did for us. He’s just great.
Q. What things have you been doing together as a team this week so far? Can you tell us a few examples?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Well, I mean, everyone is in the team room when we’re not playing, just having fun, playing some video games and some ping pong. I mean, just having fun. We’re listening to music, watching TV, just hanging out.
DIANA LUNA: Watching Alfie dancing, which is such a great experience, I think. Halfy, she is doing everything.
Q. You guys are rookies. Who are you learning the most from this week, the veterans on your team? I presume perhaps Alfie and Laura, but have they been able to help you in any particular ways to really get you prepared for this?
ANNA NORDQVIST: I think a lot of the not the older, I shouldn’t say that. But I think a lot of the players with experience, they help you, and I mean, it’s not only one person. I mean, all of them come with advice. I mean, we come together as a team, and I think they do help you, and I think they’ve really done a good job so far.
DIANA LUNA: I think they are really very nice to involve the rookies in all the team and to make us really part of the team, even as rookies. They absolutely don’t let us feel like rookies, you know.
We’re feeling completely part of the team, and they have been so nice, giving advice on how to cope with pressure, and they have been great so far.
ANGELA STANFORD, BRITTANY LINCICOME and NICOLE CASTRALE.
MIKE SCANLAN: Ladies, thanks for coming in. Welcome to the 2009 Solheim Cup at Rich Harvest Farms. I’ll start on my far right with Angela. If you would, just talk a little bit about the 2009 team and how you feel about your chances this week.
ANGELA STANFORD: Well, you know, I’m excited to be here this week and excited to be a part of this team. You know, as much as I’ve heard that we’re the favorites, you know, I think we have a very strong opponent this week, and I believe in our team, and I think we’re going to do really well this week. But you know, I think they have a lot more experience, and to be very blunt, I’m sick of hearing that we’re the favorites.
We need to go out and play like we’re the underdogs because I think that they’re going to be ready to play, and they’re going to be ready to fight, so we’ve got to have the mentality that we are the underdogs.
MIKE SCANLAN: Brittany, your second Solheim Cup. Just talk about being on the ’09 team.
BRITTANY LINCICOME: It’s a dream come true. If you look at my record last year, I played so bad and had to work really hard to get there this year. It was my number one goal going into the season to make this team, and I had to work pretty hard and put in some good practice, which if you know me, you know I don’t like to do.
But it was a lot of work, but the reward was being here, and being with these girls and representing your country. I mean, there’s nothing better than that.
MIKE SCANLAN: Nicole, in 2007 you had a decisive putt in Sweden, you might say a career changing putt for you. Can you elaborate on your memories of that, and then of course, being back here in 2009.
NICOLE CASTRALE: Just the whole Solheim Cup experience is so special, and unless you’re on the team and you played with your 11 other teammates, you just don’t know quite how that is. I mean, we work so hard over two years to get on this team.
In Sweden when I did make the putt to clinch it, really that doesn’t matter. We had 11 other players out there, whether I clinched it or someone else clinched it. That didn’t matter. To me it was the fact that the U.S. came out on top. Especially over in Europe it was a great feat for us, and we all played well.
We’re looking forward to this week. Rich Harvest Farms is a great venue, and the best team will be raising their flag on Sunday. Hopefully it’ll be us.
Q. Angela, could you expand on wanting to be the underdog? Is there a danger in being told you’re so heavily favored?
ANGELA STANFORD: Well, I think anybody that plays team sports knows that there’s a trap in that. I mean, if you constantly believe that you’re the favorite and I mean, it’s one thing to think, yeah, we have a lot of talent and we’re stacked. That’s one thought. But you can’t go in thinking that the ball is just going to go in the hole. I mean, it’s still golf, it’s still match play, and they still have two major champions on their team and a boatload of experience.
So I think if you look at our team just experience wise, if you take Juli and Cristie out of it, nobody has played more than three times. I mean, and I think for us not to be aware of that and to just keep hearing it kind of makes you wonder if people are doing their homework.
I think we know what we’re up against, and that’s why we know we’ve got to play our best.
Q. If more rain comes, and it’s in the forecast for tomorrow morning, how wet is the course now? What would more water do to it, and can you talk about the winds if they stay this strong? What does that create for you guys out there?
NICOLE CASTRALE: Well, I don’t think we’ve played the golf course two times and the wind has been the same. It seems to keep coming from different directions, and there’s certain holes that we’ve played dead into it, downwind, left to right wind, right to left wind, and the golf course is soft. It’s really unbelievable how great a shape it is for as much rain as they’ve gotten.
The greens are rolling great. It is going to play longer, there’s no doubt about it. Just because Europe may hit it a little farther than us, we’re up for the challenge. As Angela said, this is a match not on paper. We’re playing it on grass basically. So you know, low score wins.
BRITTANY LINCICOME: I thought it was long today, and I’m one of the longer hitters, and I had three 4 irons into greens today, which is unbelievable. If I’m saying it’s kind of long, it’s a good challenge out there. It’s set up pretty good, though.
Q. Brittany, you talked about your affection for practicing.
BRITTANY LINCICOME: (Laughing).
Q. When you get into your mode, how do you get yourself out of it? What kind of self talk do you give yourself to get out there and work harder and have a better year than what you had and reach those goals?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: Yeah, it’s very scary because obviously I’ve only been on Tour very few years and didn’t know how I was going to come out of it, if I would have come out of it, and thank God I did.
But myself, I’m not one that’s going to go out there eight hours a day and practice. If I can get in two really solid hours and hit balls and do everything with my routine and go through every shot and do some chipping and putting, two hours for me personally is all I need, if I’m doing it right.
Eight hours, I’m going to start talking to Angela, I’m going to start talking to Nicole and be very distracted. There’s only so many songs on my i Pod that I can listen to. About two hours is all I need if I’m doing it right.
Q. You talked about not knowing if or when you were going to come out of it. What’s that like? What’s that emotion like, just kind of being somewhere that you’re not familiar with?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: It was very scary. I couldn’t do anything right last year. I almost took off the whole year kind of halfway through. Nothing was going my way. I couldn’t get anything going.
My father and I had the conversation, why don’t we just take the rest of the year off, work on the game a little bit and see what happens because I was already exempt from winning a tournament in the previous year.
But it was very scary. I changed coaches at the beginning of the year, and something just kind of clicked, and I figured it out again.
Q. Angela, you spoke about the two veterans earlier, Juli and Cristie. Could you just talk about what impact Juli has brought to the scene with her wealth of experience?
ANGELA STANFORD: Well, I gave Beth a hard time. I told her the Sunday of the British, okay, I support whatever you do, but if Juli isn’t on this team, I’m going to hit you really hard. (Laughter).
I know the entire team looks up to her, and I honestly believe she’s the most competitive person I’ve ever met in my life. And I don’t care which direction Juli Inkster is hitting the golf ball, I want her on my team. I told Beth, we need her off the course as much as we do on the course.
The other night at dinner, she stood up and she said a few words, and I mean, you could just see the team. I just got chills because they rally around her and they listen to her. When you have so much respect for somebody like that, I mean, we’re playing for each other and we’re playing for Beth and Meg and Kelly, but you also want to win one for Juli because you kind of wonder how many more she’s going to play.
I know deep down that’s why I wanted her on the team, because I want her to go out on top, and I want her to go out on top in America.
I think it’s also another mind in the room. She’s seen so much of this, and I think it’s just another mind that Beth and Meg and Kelly have to bounce things off of.
Q. Angela, your name came up yesterday when we were talking about Michelle Wie, and I was hoping all three of you could talk about what you have seen from Michelle this week, but specifically somebody said you were giving her a hard time to toughen her up. Could you talk about what you have seen from Michelle this week?
ANGELA STANFORD: Well, you know, I’ve been very impressed. I don’t know a lot about Michelle. The first round I ever played with her was Hawai’i this year on Sunday. I had never played another round with her.
And then I played with her in Kingsmill, and I think once you get her away from the golf course, she’s just another kid. I call her kid because to me she’s a kid. I mean, I’m 31 and she’s, what, 19? She’s just in a different world.
I mean, so I was giving her a hard time, and the coolest part was she kind of gave it back, and that’s you like people who can dish it out as much as they can take it.
NICOLE CASTRALE: Michelle, that was the funniest thing is Angela would call her kid and razz her on different things, and Michelle, she’d be quick to respond. You weren’t sure if at first she’d just kind of take it, I’m the rookie, I’m the youngest.
No, from day one she’s been a part of this team. I think the neat thing is whether just because Juli and Michelle were picks, no one on this team thinks of them as picks. I found that out two years ago when I was a pick. Once the team was all put together, we’re 12 players. We’re not 10 players and two picks, which is so special, because we’re all going out there with one purpose.
Michelle wants to win just as much as any one of us do. It’s been great because a lot of us did not know Michelle very well, and now we all have each other’s cell phones, and I’m sure we’ll all be getting together at some point in the future.
Q. Could all three of you address how match play seems to be more feisty, more personal, more intense, just how match play is different?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: I like match play just because you can be so much more aggressive. Like I said earlier, I’m one of the longer hitters, so on par 5s I love to go for them in two and try to make eagles. In this kind of format if you make a 12 or you make a 5, you’re only one down. I really like match play just because I can be more aggressive.
NICOLE CASTRALE: Especially with the crowds this week already for practice rounds have been unbelievable, the support we’ve received. So for them to watch match play and get into it, I think it’s going to be a pretty special scene once we get out there.
ANGELA STANFORD: I had somebody say this to me, and I’ve never looked at it like this, but there’s a result after every hole. Usually in a regular round of golf you just kind of add it up and you go. I think that’s the two things. I think each hole you have a result after and you do have an opponent. I mean, it’s not just the golf course. So that’s what, I think, makes it more personal.
Q. Brittany, you said that you changed coaches at the beginning of the year. Could you tell us who your coach is, some of the things you’ve worked on? And a separate question, how much of an effect has your work with Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott helped you?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: My new coach is Craig Shankland. He’s at LPGA International. A friend recommended him. I just kind of needed a change, kind of needed to hear something different. We’re kind of working on the same things, but just maybe it hear it a different way, something has clicked, and it’s really worked out very well. I’m very blessed to have him.
Unfortunately he’s in Colorado, so I won’t be able to take another golf lesson for another month or so when he comes back. But I will live.
But Pia and Lynn are two very special people. They know so much about what I’m trying to do on the golf course. If I have a bad hole, it’ll take me six or seven holes to get me out of my slump and they have taught me a few tricks to get my emotions back in check and forget about the bad shot and move onto the next shot. It really has saved me quite a few shots a round even. The U.S. Open was very, very stressful and a very tough week, and they got me through that week, and I finished really well.
I’m a big believer in what they’re trying to do, and we’re trying to work together as a team to try and make me better. They’re great.
Q. Just wondering who you guys have here in terms of family and friends? How many people flew in?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: I don’t have very many. I only have maybe ten people.
NICOLE CASTRALE: I’ve got about 70. (Laughter). My husband is from about five hours south of here, so he’s got a lot of family and friends coming up today, and a lot of my family from California has come out. So we’ve got a big crowd. But all of our families put together and the support of the fans, I mean, it’s great.
ANGELA STANFORD: My brother and grandmother got in last night with friends, and I probably have 20, 30. And my mom is making the drive. She originally cancelled her flight, and my dad had shoulder surgery on the 31st of July, so he probably wasn’t in a position to be around all these people. But my mom got in the car and we found somebody to drive her, and she’s coming up with my great aunt. So the three of them, I’ve been texting them, I have no idea where they are, so it’s scary. I know they’re somewhere. I’m pretty pumped my mom is going to be here.
Q. Could you update us on how she’s doing?
ANGELA STANFORD: She’s doing good. She just did her second chemo treatment. She has four more. They’re going to do one every three weeks and then probably surgery before the end of the year. She’s doing good, but I think the second round hit her a little harder. I found out where my impatience comes from. She’ll have a good day and then she’ll have a bad day and just get all upset because she thinks if she has one good day, she should have a lot of good days.
She’s doing great. Emotionally I think she’s getting better every day, so I’m pretty proud of her. She’s doing good.
Q. How long is the drive?
ANGELA STANFORD: Should be 15 hours, but they split it up. They stopped in St. Louis last night and finished it today, I think.
MIKE SCANLAN: All right, ladies, thanks so much for coming in.