September 24, 2017
|A Chat With Team Europe Captain Annika Sorenstam|
|Annika Sorenstam at the entrance to Des Moines Golf & Country Club|
|Annika claimed her third U.S. Women’s Open title in 2006 after a 10-year drought.|
By R.J. Smiley"Annika Sorenstam is among the all time best golfers to ever play the game - man or woman!" states Juli Inkster, Team USA Captain. In head to head competition against Inkster in the Solheim Cup, Inkster won both matches, Fourball and a Singles. Annika retired from professional golf in 2008 with 93 international victories. In the spring of 2003, Annika became the first woman, since Babe Zaharias to join the field of a PGA Tour event at the Colonial but missed the cut. With Solheim Cup experience dating back to 1994, Annika was the all-time point earner for Team Europe until Laura Davies moved ahead of her after her retirement. Since retirement Annika has served as Vice-Captain three times. Her overall record 22-11-4 is outstanding winning 65% of her matches, but her Foursomes record of 11-3-1 80% is the best ever recorded in Solheim Cup history.
Tee Times: After eight Solheim Cup experiences as a player and three more as a Vice Captain, what does it feel like wearing the Captain's uniform? Explain the similarities and differences?
Annika Sorenstam: I am obviously excited to be the Captain this year. Some of my best memories in golf come from playing in the Solheim Cup. There is just nothing in women's golf quite like it. The atmosphere on the first tee is second to none. In the team rooms, you really connect with the players and form a bond that goes well beyond golf. I learned a lot each time I was a Vice Captain and look forward to applying all of my experience to help our team this year. I hope to make things memorable for the team.
TT: Which of the eight Teams was the most fun for you to experience? What year? Where was it held? Why?
AS: 2003 at Barseback was the most fun I ever had in the Solheim Cup. It was just a good time in general. We just had a great week on and off the course and it was nice to win big in my home country. (The 2003 Solheim Cup was played at Barseback Golf & Country Club in Loddekopinge, Skane, Sweden. The first Solheim Cup ever played outside the United Kingdom. Team Europe won 17½ - 10½. Annika won four of five possible points losing a Fourball Match to Juli Inkster and Beth Daniel.)
TT: Which Team Captain was your favorite?
AS: I don't necessarily have a favorite captain. I have learned from each of them, but it's always more fun when you win.
TT: Will you weave any of those previous Captain's practices and policies into your 2017 Team? If it is not giving away a trade secret, please tell our readers what some of those are?
AS: I will take bits and pieces from each Captain, along with my own experience and apply that to our team. I know what the players like and dislike, so I'll do my best to make sure they are relaxed and have fun. I have just tried to communicate with them as much as possible. I'm probably wearing them out with information, but I never liked surprises so I want to stay open. I've told them this is not about me. I'm just here to help them.
TT: Of all the great golfers you were paired with over your Solheim Cup career, who was your favorite? Foursomes or Fourball?
AS: I always enjoyed playing with Suzann Pettersen and Catriona Matthew. It seemed we would be paired together a lot and I enjoyed being with both of them whether it was Foursomes or Fourball. (Annika was 3-3-0 in Foursomes and Four Ball with Catriona Matthew and 4-0-0 with Suzann Pattersen.)
TT: You and Juli Inkster have great respect for each other on the golf course. Give our readers something about you and Juli that might surprise them?
AS: Juli and I have competed against each other for years. The Solheim Cup will be no different.
TT: With so few events being held on the LET (Ladies European Tour) this year, do you feel that some of the players who will make the Team might lack that competitive edge necessary in the Solheim Cup?
AS: The LET schedule has certainly been disappointing and the lack of tournaments is not a good thing for anybody. I am hoping the co-sanctioned events right before the Solheim Cup can help them stay sharp.
TT: Several of the women who will qualify for Team Europe play on LPGA and live in the Orlando area. Have you done anything to bring those women together?
AS: It has been nice having so many of our players living in the Orlando area. I have been able to meet with them individually for coffee or lunch. I had the group over to my house for some games and dinner earlier this year. It was nice to just hang out together.
TT: After your Team visited Des Moines Golf & Country Club in May, what is your impression of the golf course?
AS: I have been to the course twice and will not be there again until the event. I love the course and the players who went and played there with me felt the same way. There will be some fun risk-reward match play holes. There is room for lots of hospitality and I know the crowds will be record breaking.
TT: Do you think that the length of the course will favor either Team?
AS: I'm not sure how the course will be set up. Of course, since we're in the U.S. this year, their team has the right to set it up however they feel it can help their team.
TT: Patrick Reed blossomed into an instant star of the Ryder Cup. Who do you feel has the potential to blossom and become a star for Team Europe?
AS: I am hoping one of them does blossom into a star. This is the biggest stage in women's golf, so the opportunity for greatness certainly awaits. I would say Suzann did that in the past, as she is well known for her success in the Solheim Cup.
Annika went on to say that the Solheim Cup puts women's golf in the center ring on the world's sport stage. The women who represent both Teams understand how important it is. For many it is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
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