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Europeans Revel in Solheim Cup Victory
The Europeans surprised the golf world Sunday. Not only did they beat the USA on American soil for the first time since the biennial Solheim Cup began in 1990, they did it in record fashion.
After sweeping all four of Saturday afternoon's four-ball matches at Colorado Golf Club to forge a 10½ to 5½ lead, the Euros proved their wins in the four-ball and foursomes competitions weren't flukes in the 12 singles Sunday.
Needing only a total of 14 points to retain the Cup they won two years ago at Killeen Castle in Ireland, the Europeans won five of the singles and got five halves, with the Americans winning only two matches. The final score of 18-10 was the largest margin of victory ever in the series.
While USA captain Meg Mallon bemoaned her team's inability to perform well on the final three holes - "The way we played 16, 17 and 18, I think really is what made the difference," she said later, she tipped her cap to the opponents. "Today was a European day, for us, but they played some great golf this week and really deserved the win."
Her counterpart, European captain Liselotte Neumann, was ecstatic afterwards. "It's a fantastic feeling," said the 47-year-old Swede. "I just can't tell you how proud I am of all of them. They all really played so well. It was all, it was really great this week. Everybody has done something great for the team, including (vice captains) Annika (Sorenstam) and Carin (Koch).
"They really helped out with putting our pairings together, and just being out here, being on the golf course. Just being there for the players. And also our staff, the whole tour, everybody, it's just been fantastic. Just everything. We just wanted the players to be out there and just focus on their game and they have been able to do that. And they just played brilliant."
After being presented the Cup for the second straight time, which brings the overall series record to 8-5 in favor of the Americans, several European team players met with reporters. Among them was Sweden's Caroline Hedwall, who became the first player in history to win all five of her matches. Appropriately, Hedwall captured her team's winning point when she beat Michelle Wie with a birdie on the 18th hole.
Here's what Neumann, Sorenstam, Hedwall and fellow teammates Charley Hull - at 17 years old the youngest player ever in a Solheim Cup, Suzann Pettersen and Beatriz Recari had to say following the trophy presentation. Understandably, their media session was a joyous occasion.
MODERATOR: My very great pleasure and honor to introduce the victorious European Solheim Cup captain Liselotte Neumann and her winning team. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: European team made history today, both coming the first European team to win on U.S. soil with a record eight point margin of victory. Lotta, can you summarize what this win means for you?
CAPTAIN LISELOTTE NEUMANN: It's just obviously, just an amazing feeling to be sitting here as the captain of this winning team, and I'm just super excited, proud, happy, all the emotions that you can have. And they all just played so great this week. We just came together as a great team, and with Annika and Carin here, I think that we did a great job with some of the pairings. And it was just really just a total team effort, and I think we're all just extremely proud and happy right now.
MODERATOR: This is possibly one of the best days for the Ladies European Tour and women's golf in Europe. What do you think this will mean for women's golf in Europe going forward?
CAPTAIN LISELOTTE NEUMANN: I think this is obviously a big step in the right direction, and hopefully this will mean that the European Tour will have a bright future, and hopefully with lots of more golf over there. Many more tournaments and better prize money and so on.
MODERATOR: Open it up for questions, please.
Q. For Lotta, you were the first Swedish woman to ever win a Major back in 1988, and now you're the first captain. Does it - I know this is a team thing, but does it feel pretty special to have your name in the record books for both of those things?
CAPTAIN LISELOTTE NEUMANN: Well, of course, yeah. No, it's wonderful. It feels, yeah, I did a little bit of history back in '88 and now it feels like we're making history again. So it's a wonderful feeling.
MODERATOR: Caroline, you went 5 0 winning all your matches. Can you summarize your feelings about winning the tournament and winning all your matches as well? It must be awesome. (Laughter.)
CAROLINE HEDWALL: Yeah, it is pretty awesome. I mean, it's just an incredible feeling. And just winning five matches was a lot of fun and great moments here, and it's been a great week.
MODERATOR: Caroline, we're going to Germany in two years. What does it mean for you to be here a part of this winning team?
CAROLINE MASSON: It's just been an awesome week. I'm very very proud that I could be a part of this team. Its been very special, so I'm just going to try everything to be on that team in two years. This has been awesome, but playing at home, it's probably just - I mean I can't even describe it. It is my dream to play at home, in Germany, and as I said, I'm just going to try everything to make it on the team, and I just hope we can keep the cup in Germany then.
Q. For Annika and for Lotta. We all know that Carlota's a great player, but obviously, struggled a little bit on the first day, and I know you worked with her on the range. Can you both talk about the turn around that she had?
CAPTAIN LISELOTTE NEUMANN: Yeah, she won the prize to go to Annika's academy. (Laughter.) She got 50 percent off of it, I guess. (Laughter.)
Q. Talk about her turn around. Obviously, she played great here after that session.
ANNIKA SORENSTAM: She played amazing. I really didn't do much, I was just there to support, like I supported all the players. And it's just great to have her on the course and, no, it was just fun, she doesn't need much coaching. I just stood there and said well done, and that was about it. (Laughter.)
Q. Charley, did you ask for any other autographs this week and can you just summarize your week as a whole.
CHARLEY HULL: Honestly, it was for my friend. He just, he deserves it. He's like can you please get Paula Creamer's autograph and I said, okay, then, so. (Laughter.) So, I was just like, I got it. But anyway, it's been a really good week. And I actually remember that hitting a shot today and I was behind a tree, and I hit this massive draw around it, and I said to my caddie I was like, that was a shot like Carlota would do you know. Because, no, no, like Seve, you know not Seve, like Carlota, She's really good at recoveries. No, not that she hits offline a lot, but just like. (Laughter.)
Q. Charley, did your friend ask you for this autograph before you teed off this morning or before you got here for the week?
CHARLEY HULL: No, this was last night. When the draw came out.
Q. Lotta, can you talk about last night, how you kept your feet on the ground, you know obviously, the 4 0 yesterday afternoon. What did you say to them last night to make sure they didn't get carried away with yesterday's result?
CAPTAIN LISELOTTE NEUMANN: Well, we were, I mean seriously, I've been on a team before where we actually only needed four points, and I think we didn't make it back in '96. So I knew it wasn't over yet. So we were actually pretty calm last night. We had a great time, we had a little gift giving and listening to music, eating, watching some videos. Charley had 0 did a couple of speeches and you had a problem with your belly button. What was it? I don't know. (Laughter.)
Anyway, so, no, but we were just talking about how we needed to be serious and come out this morning and just really focus on each match and not celebrate in advance. So trying to keep everybody just to go out there and focus on their own match. Don't look too much at the board, just play one shot at a time and try to put some pressure on the U.S. team. And for everybody to go out there and make a point and just really go as deep as we could.
Q. Lotta, the Saturday night four balls. Of all the Solheim Cups you've been a part of, how would you rank that performance and how pivotal was it to the result, final result?
CAPTAIN LISELOTTE NEUMANN: It was, I mean definitely one of the best afternoons the European team has had. So, winning four points like that, that was obviously crucial. It put us in a great position before single matches.
Q. Suzann, if I heard you right on TV, you said this was one of the best teams, if not the best team, you were a part of because of some of the atmosphere that the youngsters brought. Can you expand on what the youngsters on this team brought to the team?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I don't know, I think this is the best team I've ever been a part of. I think I talked to Annika, I said this is a new generation coming up. To sit and watch the kids, I call them the kids, the girls, Charley thinks I'm old, to sit and watch them perform the way they did, yesterday afternoon, it was almost more fun watching from the sidelines than actually playing yourself. And fantastic team effort, and I think all the rookies did a fantastic job.
Q. Lotta, I lost my voice this week.
CAPTAIN LISELOTTE NEUMANN: I think we all did. (Laughter.)
Q. How did you prepare the caddies and the players for these amazing greens out here, the speed? Obviously you putted lights out, your team. What did you do on Tuesday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday to get ready?
CAPTAIN LISELOTTE NEUMANN: No, actually, we did talk a lot about the speed. I think that as soon as we got here we obviously realized that they were super fast and probably faster, some of the fastest greens we have ever played on. And we were just talking about it just like working on speed and I think that a lot about like reading the greens, just really you have to read the speed into the putts. So a lot of times after our practice rounds a lot of the girls went actually out on the golf course instead of just standing on putting green, they went out on the course, so they get to really get a more feel of the whole undulations of the greens and everything. So, but, yeah, it was big discussions obviously about the speed. How quick they were.
Q. Caroline Hedwall, when you were here in July and you had your practice session, you left earlier than you were anticipating. What did you do between then and now to kind of mentally prepare and get rested and those kind of things after you left here in July?
CAROLINE HEDWALL: I just needed to rest a little bit. I started my season in January and I have been on the road for a long time. So I just felt like I needed to take a week off from golf. That helped a lot.
Q. Follow up for Caroline, how conscious of you, were you coming down the last couple of holes about wanting to win all five matches and inward just your match and the whole team performance.
CAROLINE HEDWALL: Well, I always look at the score boards. I know what the standings was.
CAPTAIN LISELOTTE NEUMANN: I told you not to. (Laughter.)
CAROLINE HEDWALL: Sorry.
CAPTAIN LISELOTTE NEUMANN: You never listen to me. (Laughter.)
CAROLINE HEDWALL: Well and I was told yesterday that no one had won five matches before, so I knew everything. But it was just a great moment and a lot of fun.
Q. When you told them not to watch the score boards, I'm curious, how did you think in your head how this day was going to unfold from the start and did it turn out anyway the way you thought it would?
CAPTAIN LISELOTTE NEUMANN: Yeah, pretty much. I don't know if you know that every player that has won on the European team, the one that had made the winning putt, their name starts with a C, so I was trying, we talked about and we just tried to put all the players that their names start with a C close together. And it worked out really good. That was the strategy. Did you get that? Did I lose you.
Q. No. I wanted to know who did that research?
CAPTAIN LISELOTTE NEUMANN: Mark did that research. (Laughter.)
Q. Beatriz, maybe I'll ask you this, I asked the American players about, it felt like this week really shows how much I think the public loves this team format and golf and you guys are having a new event next year that's going to have the top eight countries, obviously with Spain's contribution to this I'm just wondering what your thoughts are about that the international crown and what that's going to bring to women's golf.
BEATRIZ RECARI: To be honest with you I haven't really thought about it. I've been so focused on this week and I think that the key for the success was not only that we're great golfers, but that we have bonded as a team and we were just encouraging each other from the beginning. Even the caddies, I mean we are not 12 here and assistant captains and Lotta, we were like 30 people every day just like supporting each other and pumping each other up. And the International Crown is going to be a great event and I'm sure we're going to start thinking about it now, but we have shown, I mean I'm talking from Spain, we have shown great golf, so I think we're going to be a tough team to beat, right? Yes.
Q. Suzann, you're a part of those teams, the European teams that were where Europe lost like three in a row and there were questions about whether this competition was still relevant and were the Europeans worthy of it. Can you talk about how it felt hearing than a how rewarding that makes this now?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: We don't (want) two in a row, so why not make it three in a row?
Q. Was that motivating when you were hearing all that back in that spell?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: We liked it mostly when it was so quiet out there. We kind of like it peaceful and quiet. When the crowd when quiet, we knew we were doing well.
Q. Lotta, do you talk a little bit about Charley? You had a lot of confidence for her for making her a pick but an impressive singles victory today over Paula and a 2 1 record.
CAPTAIN LISELOTTE NEUMANN: I think when I picked Charley I had, I mean my first two picks when I did my captain's pick was Jodi and then Caroline and in my mind and I was thinking of players that I could pair them with and who would be my next picks. And Charley was definitely in the thinking there. So she's been, she was on my junior team two years ago and she's just a special girl. And she has a special game and she brings a lot of energy to our team and she's just a terrific player. She plays fearless and it was just awesome to have her on our team and I think we all love Charley. (Laughter.)
Q. Lotta, is it nice that the fact that every single person contributed at least half a point to the overall score?
CAPTAIN LISELOTTE NEUMANN: No, that's obviously great. That's why I think that we were such a great team. Everybody just contributed and also when you do your captain's pick you always want all your picks to play well and prove that you have done the right choice and that they fit into the team and bring something to the team. And they all did. Everybody in this team did something great and it was just really just a fantastic week.
Q. Lotta, to sort of feed off that, I believe you have eight countries represented on this European team. And I wonder if you talked before the Solheim Cup about how that reflected the growth in the individual countries of women's golf. Now having won this cup do you feel like that's going to just help the growth in all of the individual country, not just Europe as a whole but in Spain, being inspired by the Spanish players and such?
CAPTAIN LISELOTTE NEUMANN: Oh, absolutely, I think so. The more countries you have represented and obviously with the media and TV and all the countries back in Europe that gets the feed from here and they're watching it, so the game is growing over in Europe and I think obviously it means a lot for the future of women's golf. And golf overall in Europe.
Q. Quick question for Caroline Hedwall. Did I say that right? Is that close? Caroline, your club and yardage on the 18th? What club did you hit?
CAROLINE HEDWALL: 9-iron.
Q. Do you remember the yardage?
CAROLINE HEDWALL: 138 meters.
MODERATOR: Okay. Thank you for joining us, thanks for the great golf. Congratulations and enjoy your victory. Thank you.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.