The winning 2009 U.S. Solheim Cup team made a special visit to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, January 12th to meet President Barack Obama. The squad met the President in the Oval Office and was given a tour of the White House.
U.S. Solheim Cup Team Captain Beth Daniel, along with assistant captains Meg Mallon and Kelly Robbins, led the 12-member team. Also joining the group was LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan and John Solheim of PING Golf, the event's sponsor and son of the late Karsten Solheim, for which the Solheim Cup was named and founded.
After touring the White House, the U.S. team was greeted by special guests at a reception at the University Club in Washington. The next day, the squad visited the 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon.
Duramed FUTURES Tour alumna Kristy McPherson of South Carolina recently spoke to duramedfuturestour.com senior writer Lisa D. Mickey about her experience of meeting the President. Here's what she had to say:
DFT: Did you ever think you would be standing in the oval office talking to the leader of the free world?
KM: It was pretty cool - pretty special to have that opportunity. It's something I never thought I'd get to do. When I got on the LPGA Tour, somebody told me that the winning U.S Solheim Cup teams go to Washington, but I didn't know that one of the perks of winning was getting to meet the President of the United States.
DFT: Were you more nervous on the first tee of the Solheim Cup or walking in to meet the President?
KM: Actually, I thought I might be more nervous than I was when we met the President. Some of the girls on the team said they had sweaty palms. But he was great. He shook our hands. He looked me straight in the eyes and said, "Hi Kristy. I'm very proud of you. Thanks for coming to see me." He welcomed each of us into the Oval Office. Everybody walked in together in a certain order. Truthfully, we had rehearsed the order because we knew where we all would stand when we had the picture taken of the team with the President.
DFT: Describe that visit and what you will remember about the day.
KM: Just being in there for 10-15 minutes with the President and having him really engaged with us. To have the President of the United States say he's proud of how we represented the country was just really special. I have great respect for this guy and I just wanted to soak it all in. He gave each of us a golf ball with the Presidential seal with a stamped autograph on it.
DFT: Did the team bring any gifts to President Obama?
KM: We brought a couple of Solheim Cup hats. Michelle Wie gave him a lei from Hawaii. John Solheim also was there from PING Golf and he had a PING putter made for President Obama with his name engraved on it.
DFT: What kind of things did President Obama ask or say about golf?
KM: He was just really laid back and it was cool to see him on a different level. He asked us how he could get his girls involved in golf? Angela Stanford told him to just make sure he played golf with them. We all told him we got started when we went to the golf course with our dads and they let us drive the golf cart. We would drive the carts and watch our dads, and then after a while, we also wanted to play. The President told us that on his Christmas trip to Hawaii, he hit a 2-iron from 250 yards to eight feet and made the putt. His staff was giggling, so I'm not sure if he was pulling our leg or not. It might have been his only birdie on the Hawaii trip, but that's OK. And he also asked when our season started [on the LPGA Tour] and where it started? He seemed to know a lot about the PGA Tour and their schedule.
DFT: Did you invite him to come to an LPGA Tour event?
KM: We did. We said to bring his girls out to one of our tournaments and they will see women playing a high level of golf.
DFT: Is it true that the normally effusive U.S. Solheim Cup team member Christina Kim was as quiet as a church mouse on this trip?
KM: Laugter She was pretty quiet! In fact, I'm not sure I heard her say anything all weekend. We also went to the September 11th Memorial at the Pentagon and she was quiet there, too. I guess it was a lot to take in.
DFT: Golf has taken you to many interesting places. How does this rank?
KM: To get to go to Washington, D.C., and meet the President and have him shake my hand - wow, it's pretty cool that golf allowed me to do that! Hopefully, there will be other opportunities to meet more U.S. Presidents in the future. This was the fourth President that [2009 U.S. Solheim Captain] Beth Daniel had met. Angela Stanford met President George W. Bush from the last Solheim Cup. He was really into golf and he took the team down to the putting green and talked about golf for 45 minutes. We talked a little golf with President Obama, but he got called into the "Situation Room" right after we left because of the earthquake in Haiti. It had just happened and the White House staff was pretty busy that day.
DFT: This must be a nice closing chapter to the 2009 U.S. Solheim Cup Team's time together.
KM: It was. The coolest part was the experience of knowing that you can only win one of these things with 11 other players and the captains. You can't win the Solheim Cup as one person. Our team got to reap the rewards together and it was great to be together again as a team. We had a nice reception on Tuesday night after meeting the President and we relived our Solheim Cup moments. It's a different type of bonding and friendship that happens on a Solheim Cup team than from what happens at regular LPGA golf tournaments. It's something really special. And something I'll never forget.