The 2008 Ladies European Tour Money List winner has competed in the United States for the last two seasons but now the 10-time tournament champion feels the time is right to return to her home Tour.
Talk us through your journey over the last couple of years since you dominated on the Ladies European Tour.
I’ve spent two seasons on the LPGA. Last year was alright. It was my first year and kind of like a discovery, just going there and expecting too much and enjoying whatever comes. I played pretty good but I was bored and I thought I would try one more year to see if it’s for me or not. This year was really hard. I found myself alone all the time and I didn’t like that too much. I’m old enough to know what I want and I decided to come back to Europe where I started; where I have my friends and my family. I’ve never wanted to be number one in the world so going there doesn’t make any sense. It was a great experience and the golf is great there. It is awesome and there is no place better but human wise I don’t get what I need.
You didn’t have a house in the United States so how did you manage?
I travelled so much that by the end of the season last year I was feeling tired, I had lost a lot of weight and I wasn’t feeling good. The season started really early in Australia and I wasn’t ready for that. I didn’t take any breaks basically for two years so I went back and forth and it was too tiring.
Do you still have the same support team around you?
I stopped with my coach Olivier Léglise in Evian. I stopped with my caddie Raf after Ireland. This year was a big change in everything: my life in general and golf. It was one of those years where you clean up everything and start from fresh.
Who is on your team now?
I’m working with Ian Triggs, Karrie Webb’s and Maria Hjorth's coach. Next year will be different because I’m hoping to play a few events in the US at the beginning of the season to start the season and then Australia but when I come back to Europe I won’t have a coach so I’m looking for a coach and caddie wise will be the same thing. I’m working with Duncan French and he will be there for the rest of the season and Australia but same thing. As soon as I come back here I don’t know what is going to happen, so big changes. I have the same physical trainer. If I’m not in as good a shape it’s because I didn’t find the courage to work hard enough. I had so many things going on that I’m still working out but not as much as I used to because I found more important things to work on and to deal with, on my game and life in general: just to get organised and find out what I want. Life on the LPGA is awesome and if you want to be in the top players in the world that’s the place to be but if you’re not happy there’s no point in being there. It almost comes to the point where the life decision is to make you happy not miserable. I want to play on the LPGA: no, I want to be happy.
Will you mix both tours in 2012?
For now, I want to play in Europe. I want to concentrate on Europe and be one of the top players. I want to win the order of merit again. I want to set my goals high and be part of The Solheim Cup in two years. The reason I’m coming back to Europe is because I wasn’t happy and I know European Tour makes me happy. That’s all that matters, really. You need to look in the mirror and be able to smile, not cry. I want to be happy when I go home. Golf is my passion: it’s my work but it’s my passion first and if you don’t have that passion anymore there is no point.
Are you hungry to win again?
I felt really good last week at the French Open and I didn’t perform as I wanted but I was playing good. Mostly I was enjoying myself on the course and that’s what I need. Next year I’m going to come back stronger: I’m going to work hard and come back strong.
Are you still running?
I need that. When you get older you know what is good for you. I know that running makes me happy and when I run and have pain in my legs and I go for an hour or so and I come back I’m proud and I enjoy it. It’s good for me so I go on trails and stuff. Right now I’m not doing anything. I’m looking at the season like it’s the end of the season. I need a break right now and I’m not going to China. I will go to Dubai and possibly India also.
Do you still feel nerves?
I don’t put pressure on myself to win tournaments. Winning is what I want: I want to lift the cup and I want to be happy because I’ve done something good. There is no pressure to win. It comes to playing good enough to being in contention which didn’t happen for a while expect in Portugal where I was leading the tournament and Ashleigh played awesome on Sunday. All you can do is play good golf until Sunday night and you can win.
Why did you change coaches?
It was a problem with timing. Olivier spends a lot of time with the guys so he didn’t have time for me; he didn’t want to come to the US anymore and each time I was back in Europe he didn’t have time to come so there was no point working together because we didn’t see each other. We decided to end that professional relationship because we didn’t have time for each other.
Do you know your schedule for next year?
I don’t know my category on the LPGA yet but right now I’m 84th which I think will get me into everything except the majors. I’m going to play the first two or three in the US and then come back to Europe for the main season.
Has it changed since you were away the last couple of years?
I think the LET is getting stronger and there are more players that can win every week. A few years ago it was a handful but now there are many and it makes everybody increase their level, which is really good. What makes the LET good is that it’s like a big family and there is a good golf spirit which is fair and really good and golf wise the level is increasing every year. There are some young players and American players. We need more and more and more to make it even stronger.