|European Solheim Cup winners Annika Sorenstam, Catriona Matthew, Carlota Ciganda, Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall
All 24 members of the 2013 European and US Solheim Cup teams are playing in the Evian Championship this week. European team members Catriona Matthew, Carlota Ciganda, Anna Nordqvist and Caroline Hedwall were joined by assistant captain Annika Sorenstam at a preview press conference on Wednesday, to reflect on their stunning victory in Colorado a month ago and look ahead to this week's major in France.
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us. It's my very great pleasure to introduce to you four members of the winning European Solheim Cup team and the assistant captain Annika Sorenstam.
Obviously we're here at the inaugural Evian Championship, which is a major. Everybody is very excited, but we have the Solheim Cup here with us here today. First off, can you just reflect on the victory a month ago and what that meant to you looking back now. Maybe start with Carlota.
CARLOTA CIGANDA: It was such a great week, one of best weeks of my life. It was the atmosphere since the first day, the caddies, the players, all the helpers. We got along really good and I think it was lucky that we were a good team all week. You can see on the course and outside that was the most important.
ANNA NORDQVIST: Obviously it was a very exciting week. Every time you walk by one of your teammates, you are you are still smiling and you still share videos or memories. I think our friendship has grown stronger.
It's been four weeks ever since, but I feel like it's almost like it was yesterday. You walk by someone you are smiling and they are smiling back at you. I think we still have some momentum from it.
CAROLINE HEDWALL: We had a great team spirit and a lot of fun together. That was a big key to the win, I think. I don't know what to tell you. It was just a fun, awesome week.
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Obviously a fantastic week. Like the others said, we had great team spirit. I still played two tournaments since then and the Solheim is the freshest in my mind. It feels like it was no time ago.
Yes, I see the trophy and it brings it all back. So very excited.
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I agree. I mean, I didn't hit a single shot, but I felt like I hit a lot of shots. You live with the players. It's very different to be outside the ropes in a way, even though I was inside. But it's different from a captain or vice‑captain's perspective because you live every player's shot. You get involved in their game, you try to inspire them, you support them as much as you can.
Our goal was to create an environment when they feel very good so they can perform at the very best and they did that. I'm very proud of them. They played tough. It was a tough venue, but I think the team atmosphere helped it.
Everybody was so supportive and it was so fun to see and experience. It was very, very special.
Q. You have all been to Evian before, but major changes to the golf course. I'd like to get your feedback to what you think about the tournament and the course?
CARLOTA CIGANDA: I think it's a great place to play a major event. The atmosphere is really good. There have been some changes on the course which I think it's really good because the course is playing really tough. The greens are looking a bit different, so you need to be careful and be very patient out there. I think it's a great change and it's the same for everyone.
I'm looking forward to playing this week and to play the last major of the year.
ANNA NORDQVIST: Evian has always been a great place. Definitely one of my favorite stops on the Tour. I think a lot of the players never really knew what to expect coming here this week, and I think we're all surprised with the amount of work they put in these last couple of years or last year.
And they moved a lot of mud around because you thought, oh, there used to be a huge hill there and it's not anymore. The course is playing really tough. I definitely thinks it a great major championship venue. I'm real excited about this week. The course is going to be playing tough. I think that favors the better players, but there are some really tough holes out there. The greens have a lot of movement in them, so it seems like they have been there for so many years but in a way it seems like we are playing a new course.
CAROLINE HEDWALL: This is just my second time here, but it's a beautiful place and I really like the changes. I love the new par‑3s. I think they look beautiful.
I'm just excited to go out and play. It's the last major of the year and it will be a fun week.
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Obviously delighted to be back here again. I played here I don't know if this is my 15th or 16th time. They have always done tweaks to the course over the years, but obviously a make or renovation last year.
It's one of most beautiful courses. You have got the fantastic views. It is going to be a challenge out there. I think with the rain we've had the course is playing pretty long. You have got to get in the right spots on the greens. You have to hit a lot of really good second shots to give yourself some good putts.
It's going to be interesting to see what scoring is like. When you come to a new course or one that's been redone as much as this one has, you never know what the scoring is going to be like. I think come Thursday or Friday, we'll have more idea of how the course is playing and how we're all doing on it.
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: Again, I'm not hitting a shot, but I'm just arrived this morning and I'm going to go out and take a look at the changes.
Actually, I'm one of you guys this week. I'm doing some TV. I'll be the journalist, I'll be talking to the players, getting some feedback and see what they think.
I look forward to seeing the changes I have been coming here probably as long as Catriona has. I've seen the course change every year. It seems like one year you figure it out and come out next year and you have to figure it out again.
But this is a beautiful venue and obviously Frank and the team have done an exceptional job to make it the tournament it is here. I'm proud to be here and watching the ladies play the golf course.
Q. During the Solheim Cup I spoke to Cristie Kerr who said that the chemistry among the American players was better than she had known before. If you were outsiders looking in, why would you think that your chemistry was better than the Americans?
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I don't know what the atmosphere was before within the U.S. team. As far as from our team, it always starts at the top. I think Liselotte did an excellent job.
Overall, we travel, we see each other in Europe. A lot of us go way back, right? So it was a friendship. With some of the new players I have gotten to know the last few years, we get along. We are friends more. We are golfers, but that really comes second. I think we respect each other very well. It is just a nice atmosphere within the players and within the caddies. Overall, there is just ‑‑ we don't need to pretend. We are just the way we are and it's accepted.
When you can be yourself, it's a lot easier. It comes naturally on our side. I don't know about the U.S. team, but it does play a big role.
I remember having the conversation with Lisa when we won in Ireland. She said what was the recipe there? I said it was the leader. The leader gives the feedback. You got to make sure the players feel comfortable. If they feel comfortable, they play good golf. We all know that they can play good golf, but you have to create the environment so they can play as well as they can. Like I said, it starts at the top.
ANNA NORDQVIST: I think win or lose at the Solheim Cup, we're still going to have a great week. I grew up playing with Caroline, I grew up with Carlota and with Jodi. We all played a lot of amateur golf together and even in college. So to me that didn't feel like rookies, and I think that helped.
Jodi, Charley, Carlota have been friends since way back. I think on a regular basis we know each other very well and we have such strong friendships, so it wasn't just for that week we came together. But we have a lot of good times besides the Solheim Cup week, too.
Q. All Europeans, do they get closer than the Americans get in the amateur arena?
ANNA NORDQVIST: We have a lot of tournaments together growing up. We have a European team championships where we play team events, so alternate shot and better ball is nothing new to us. There is a European Championship, there is British Girls, there's British Amateurs. There are a lot of great European amateur events that we are fortunate enough to be able to play when we grow up. So you get to know them just traveling around Europe.
Q. For the assistant captain, you have been in that role a couple of times now. What would you say if you look back over the other experiences, was there anything that made this win more possible this year not just the better shots, but you have seen many as assistant captain plus as a player.
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I have been lucky enough to be part of the last two wins. What can I say? I think the players overall, they are a lot more experienced playing in the U.S. Everybody here plays in the U.S. We might be Europeans but a lot of us, that is our home.
So I think if you compare to Solheim Cup 1990, there was only a few that lived in the U.S., maybe Liselotte and maybe somebody. Now it seems like most of them do.
I think just being more comfortable playing over there, you are used to playing against the Cristie Kerrs or Angela Stanford. Now we have this tournament as part of the LPGA. The British Open is now part of the LPGA. So I think we are away, but then we are not really away. I think that's one of the reasons.
The other reason is, again, the players in Europe are getting better and better. It takes 12 players, we talk about that every year. Every point is important. One player is not more important than the other. Every point matters. You have got to make sure that the players believe that. We need everybody. I think that was home this year for sure. Everyone understood their value and that as a team we can do it.
Q. If you look at the list of winners of the Evian Championship, the number of Swedish winners stand out. Why do you think that is?
ANNA NORDQVIST: To be honest, I have no idea. This is my second time here. I think maybe it's pretty similar, the grass and everything is pretty similar to Sweden. I'm guessing the course is played like what we grew up playing. Maybe that is a reason.
I think Annika, it would be better for her to answer this.
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: I think if you look at the Swedish women in general, we get some good golfers over the years. Before this was an LPGA event, there was a lot of Swedes that played here every year. When you feel welcome at a place, a lot of times you play well.
Take Helen Alfredsson, she was one of the first. She was one of the top players in the world. For her to come here and win, she was one of favourites and she did well.
I guess when I played I was one of top players and I played well here. I think it reflects the talent from Sweden. So more to come, in other words.
Q. Who do you think of you can contend for a major championship this week?
CARLOTA CIGANDA: I'm feeling good. I have been working in the last couple of weeks on my swing, I have been hitting the ball better. Obviously there are great players here. You have Inbee Park, she had a great year. She won three majors. You have Stacy Lewis, Suzann Pettersen, these girls over here, everyone is playing so good. There are so many options I don't like to say one name because I think there are so many good players out here.
I think the most patience is going to have chances to win this week because everyone is playing very good.
ANNA NORDQVIST: With a tougher set up, I do think it is going to favor the better players. You are going to have to play well this week to win. I think a lot of the European players have been playing good having some momentum after the Solheim Cup. So hopefully we'll have a European winner, for sure.
CAROLINE HEDWALL: At the same time, it's golf so you never know what happens. Obviously you want to be in contention on Sunday.
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Obviously there is a lot of people in there with a chance this week. Caroline won all five matches at Solheim so that's a pretty good record and obviously coming in with some form. Obviously you have got Inbee and Yani coming in and playing this week. So I think there is great competition.
I think that's what so great in ladies golf at the moment. There is so much competition, so many people who are capable of winning every week, which makes it exciting.
Q. Being paired with Inbee the first two rounds, you are happy about that and all that will go with it?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: I've played with Inbee quite a few times. I think she's a great person to play with. She's got such good tempo. I think if you can work from her tempo, it kind of works and helps my swing just watching her play. Going to be pleased going out and playing with her.
I think it's always nice when you go out and play with people who are playing well. I think sometimes that can drag your game along with it.
Q. Inbee had mentioned you as one of the favorites for the win because she said your game would fit the course. Do you think the same?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: I played the whole course. I feel as though I am playing well. I think anyone is going to want to do well here. Obviously you are hopefully going to drive it fairly long because it's playing quite long with the wet. I think mostly it was going to be trying to get your second shot in good positions. The greens are going to be pretty tricky. They are pretty undulating.
Whoever is in control of their long irons and rescues is going to do well this week.
Q. With this being a major, does the mentality change for any of you? Is there any more focus or do you approach it as in other tournament?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: I suppose I played a lot now and I know kind of ‑‑ I just try and treat it as any other tournament. I think go through the same preparations I would do every week, because every week you are out there trying to win the tournaments. I think sometimes you can really put too much pressure on yourself and prepare differently from what you might normally do.
I really just try and stick to the same preparation each week regardless of whether it's a major or just a regular tournament.
CAROLINE HEDWALL: Well, I'm the same as Catriona. I mean, I try to prepare the same way for a major championship. But at the same time I know I'm going to be a little more pumped on the first tee on Thursday. So hopefully that can just help me play even better.
ANNA NORDQVIST: I think it's still very new that Evian has become a major, so I think you still have (indiscernible) a major this year. But with all the changes and the course playing tougher, it definitely feels like you are more pumped up. And when you start tomorrow, you will definitely be excited to get going.
CARLOTA CIGANDA: I think same as Catriona, I mean, obviously it's a major. It's one more tournament, so you need to do the same preparation as every other week because you want to be at the top and try to win the tournament. So yes, doing everything the same and that's it.
Q. I imagine you guys have played (inaudible) a number of times since Monday. Please tell me what kind of club you use on that hole.
CATRIONA MATTHEW: I played a practice round on Monday and I had 3‑rescue in there.
Today, luckily I was playing with person who used to play in the European Tour, so he got a good drive down there so I was excited.
CAROLINE HEDWALL: I was hitting a full 4‑iron into the front of the green.
ANNA NORDQVIST: I played for the first time today in the Pro‑Am and it was blowing, so I actually had a 3‑wood into the front of the green and I barely got it on.
CARLOTA CIGANDA: I had a 4‑iron on Tuesday and today too, 4‑iron.