RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup Wednesday Pre-Tournament Notes and Interviews

RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup
Wildfire Golf Club at JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa
Phoenix, Arizona
Pre-tournament notes and interviews
March 13, 2013

Paige Mackenzie, Rolex Rankings No. 202
Gerina Piller, Rolex Rankings No. 79
Kristy McPherson, Rolex Rankings No. 232

Solheim Cup

Number One up for Grabs… There is a lot on the line at this week’s RR Donnelley LPGA Classic including the number one spot in the Rolex Rankings. For the first time in 109 weeks, Yani Tseng’s (@YaniTseng) top ranking could be swept from under her feet by Na Yeon Choi and Stacy Lewis (@Stacy_Lewis).

Choi will take over as Rolex Rankings No. 1 if she wins this week and Tseng finished fourth or worse and Lewis will take over as Rolex Rankings No. 1 if she wins and Tseng finishes third or worse.

MLB meets LPGA:  The LPGA has encouraged followers of the Tour to See Why It’s Different Out Here and on Wednesday, a few current and former Major League Baseball players got the opportunity to experience that first hand while taking part in the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup pro-am.

Former Phillies star and current ESPN baseball analyst John Kruk (@JohnKruk_ESPN), Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski and two-time World Series champion Aaron Rowand all played in Wednesday’s pro-am at Wildfire Golf Club at JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa. Kruk and Pierzynski were paired with Kristy McPherson (@Kristy2208) and Gerina Piller (@GerinaPiller) in the nine-and-nine pro-am format while Rowand was paired with Mindy Kim (@mindykim89) and Paige Mackenzie (@Paige_Mackenzie).

For Kruk, it wasn’t his first experience playing in an LPGA pro-am as he’s a frequent supporter of the Tour. But Pierzynski and Rowand both raved about the experience and what it was like to get the chance to learn from playing with the LPGA golfers.

“They were really fun to play with, that was the biggest thing for me,” Pierzynski said. “We had a great time out there.  The two girls we were lucky to play with on my right and left were just fun.  I know they're better than me, I already knew that going in, so I wasn't expecting that as much as John was, who was I think expecting to break par.  It was fun to get to know them, get to see them play.  It was awesome to read putts and watch how they go about their business and see how good they really are.”

The experience was also fun for the LPGA players, as Piller and McPherson are admitted baseball fanatics. For Piller, who resides in Texas and is a big Texas Rangers fan, the opportunity to play with Pierzynski was already a highlight of her week in Phoenix.

“I grew up playing little league baseball with the guys for eight years, so I kind of had to hold back with my baseball questions,” Piller said. “I did ask you one [A.J.].  So I was itching to ask a whole lot more.  It's great to see someone be so good at their sport in baseball and come out to our sport.  So it's pretty cool to play with someone that's kind of in the spotlight like we are and you just get to share that experience, and whether we're playing in our backyard or we go watch them, we appreciate what they do and they appreciate what we do.”

Tears of Joy… With the Solheim Cup on the horizon in August, Meg Mallon (@MegMallonUSA) was on-hand at this week’s RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup to announce her second U.S. Team Assistant Captain.

Two-time LPGA Tour winner and four-time Solheim Cup participant Laura Diaz will join forces with Meg Mallon and Dottie Pepper (@DottieandBogey) to attempt to bring The Cup back to the states. While Diaz has known about the selection since January, that didn’t stop the two-time LPGA Tour winner from shedding a few tears during the well-attended press conference.

“Wow,” said Diaz. “It is the greatest honor in my career. I think playing on the Solheim Cup team four times was such an honor, pleasure, privilege, but the passion for the game really comes out that week.  When Meg asked me, I was really just in awe, surprised, shocked. I didn't even know what to say.”

The leaders of the red, white, and blue team had a captivated audience full of media, Solheim family members, and potential members of the US Team including Stacy Lewis, Angela Stanford, Jessica Korda, Morgan Pressel, and Meaghan Francella. Diaz still competes alongside the group of LPGA Tour players in attendance at the press conference and feels the strong relationship built through competition will be a benefit come August.

“I hope that the girls are at a point where all of us are still competing against each other but we have a relationship,” said Diaz, “a respect that I've developed with them over the years that they're comfortable coming to me and saying, you know what, this is my good friend and I love playing practice rounds together, but it's just not ‑‑ we're not feeling it out there, can we make a change.”    

Quoteable… “Well, I've done a few of these and I've done some with the men.  No disrespect to the men, but I would much rather play with these ladies because they're helpful.” – Former MLB player John Kruk on playing in the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup pro-am

Five Things You Didn’t Know About…Victoria Elizabeth

1. Victoria celebrated her 21st birthday yesterday. Wish her a Happy Belated Birthday on Twitter, @vegolf.

2. Victoria might be a girly girl but when she is not playing golf she enjoys hunting and fishing.

3. Don’t be surprised if you hear Victoria referred to as Wicky-Wacky-Woo. It is a nickname she was given by her grandfather.

4. Victoria’s first sport she played was tennis but stopped playing at age 15 to focus on golf.

5. Victoria might have decided to skip college to turn pro but she has studied plastic surgery since she was nine.

Where it all began: This week’s RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup is all about honoring the women who helped make the LPGA what it is today. Each day throughout the tournament week, we will showcase a few of those Founders and Pioneers. Today we feature Helen Dettweiler, Marlene Hagge, and Helen Hicks.

Helen Dettweiler
Birthdate: 1914, Washington D.C.
Rookie year: 1950

Growing up in a family of golfers in the Washington, D.C., area, Helen Dettweiler graduated from Trinity College with degrees in history and English and headed to Florida to launch a golf career with money her grandmother gave her as a graduation present. Dettweiler won the first tournament she entered, capturing the 1939 Women’s Western Open as an amateur. Later that year, she joined Wilson Sporting Goods as a staff professional, along with fellow future LPGA Tour co-founders, Opal Hill and Helen Hicks. Patty Berg would follow in 1940.

The D.C. native was instrumental in getting the Women’s Professional Golf Association off the ground in 1947, later serving as the vice president of the LPGA when it was formed in 1950. Dettweiler was one of 13 players who co-founded the new association. While she was there for the LPGA’s beginning, Dettweiler left the tour in the early years to teach golf, returning to California to become the head professional at Indian Palms. She passed away in 1990.

Marlene Hagge
Birthdate: 1934, California
Rookie Year: 1950
LPGA Victories: 23
Career Earnings: $481,032

Marlene Hagge and sister Alice Bauer got an early start in golf at age 3, thanks to golf pro father, Dave Bauer. In fact, their father billed them as “The Bauer Sisters” in golf exhibitions around the country in the mid-1940s. By age 10, Hagge had won California’s Long Beach City Boys Junior Championship, and by age 13, she had captured crowns at the Western and National Junior Championships, the Los Angeles Women’s City Championship, the Palm Springs Women’s Championship and the Northern California Open. Just before her 16th birthday, she joined the LPGA Tour in 1950 to launch her professional career.

From 1952-1972, Bauer recorded 26 victories and was voted into the LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame in 2002, through the Veteran’s Category ballot. One of the 13 founding members of the LPGA, Bauer will long be recognized for her longevity, playing in each of the LPGA Tour’s first five decades. The petite blonde will also be remembered as the player who brought a splash of California glamour to the LPGA Tour.

Helen Hicks
Birthdate: 1911, New York
LPGA Victories: 2

Helen Hicks launched her golf career with several top amateur wins, including a victory over legendary American amateur Glenna Collett Vare at the 1929 Women’s Canadian Open. She recorded two other key wins at the 1931 Women’s Eastern Championship and at the 1931 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, where, once again, she defeated Vare in the finals.

Known for her length and strength, as well as her non-classic reported “baseball swing,” Hicks was also the first woman to have signature Wilson golf clubs bearing her name. The company actually gave her the title of “business woman golfer,” and sent her out on the road to engage customers with the power of her game and her big personality. Hicks then helped train future LPGA co-founders and Wilson staff members Opal Hill and Patty Berg how to conduct golf clinics.

 

Paige Mackenzie, Rolex Rankings No. 202
Gerina Piller, Rolex Rankings No. 79
Kristy McPherson, Rolex Rankings No. 232

MODERATOR:  Good afternoon, everybody.  As you can tell, all of us just got done playing a little golf this morning.  We had a little bit of fun.  We had figured since we're here in the land of spring training this week in Phoenix, that we'd bring out some baseball players and give them an opportunity to get the full LPGA experience. 

So I would like to introduce everyone that's up here.  To my left, first off to my immediate left is A.J. Pierzynski, who's currently catching for the Rangers.  Then we have former MLB player Aaron Rowand, who played for the White Sox, the Phillies and the Giants and won two World Series titles.  And then we have former Phillies star and current ESPN baseball analyst John Kruk. 

First off, thanks so much, guys, for joining us today.  I guess just immediately to start, just take me through what your day was like out there playing with these women.  I know, John, it's not your first time playing in an LPGA pro‑am, but kind of go through the experience of what this day was like.
JOHN KRUK:  I marvel at their consistency.  A.J. and I played together and one would go there, one would go there, one would go there, and then we'd hit one down the middle and we're tickled to death.  If they do that, they're done, they're out of the tournament.  To me, the way they hit the ball consistently every swing pretty much where they want to hit it is the thing that I marvel at that we cannot do.  36789.

AARON ROWAND:  I agree 100 percent.  I was telling Paige the same thing, the exact same thing.  What I marvel at is how consistent you guys are with hitting within 150 yards, it's within 15 feet, it's birdie or par at the worst.  For your average Sunday golfer or in my case not very good everyday golfer, you know, it's something to marvel at. 

A.J. PIERZYNSKI:  I'm just glad they were fun.  They were really fun to play with.  That was the biggest thing for me.  We had a great time out there.  The two girls we were lucky to play with on my right and left were just fun.  I know they're better than me, I already knew that going in, so I wasn't expecting that as much as John was, who was I think expecting to break par.  But they were just fun.  It was fun to get to know them, get to see them play.  It was awesome to read putts and watch how they go about their business and see how good they really are.

MODERATOR:  I really should introduce the stars of the day who actually carried all of our teams.  
AARON ROWAND:  Then introduce yourself considering you hit a 25‑foot putt on 18 for birdie.

MODERATOR:  I did sink one good birdie putt today.  Well, okay, a couple birdie putts today.  But we'll leave me out of it and bring in the true stars. 

First off, we have Kristy McPherson, Gerina Piller and Paige Mackenzie.  Ladies, I know all of you are sports fans in general.  How fun was it to go out there and showcase your skills today in front of these guys, who I know you all, especially Gerina, I know you're a huge Rangers fan. 
PAIGE MACKENZIE:  I would say my favorite part was just talking about sports with another athlete and the similarities that we share, just going through the process together or with each other on how we each prepare.  For me, that's always been the highlight of meeting other athletes is being able to learn from each other and share those other stories that most people wouldn't really experience.

GERINA PILLER:  I think it's great.  I grew up playing little league baseball with the guys for eight years, so I kind of had to hold back with my baseball questions.  I did ask you one.  So I was itching to ask a whole lot more.  It's great to see someone be so good at their sport in baseball and come out to our sport ‑‑ no, you did well.  So it's pretty cool to play with someone that's kind of in the spotlight like we are and you just get to share that experience, and whether we're playing in our backyard or we go watch them, we appreciate what we do and they appreciate what we do.

KRISTY McPHERSON:  I'm a huge baseball fan, huge sports fan in general.  I told A.J. out there, the Rangers are my American League team.  I'm a huge Braves fan, which didn't make Kruk very happy.  But it was just really cool out there.  I wouldn't say we got as serious as Paige and Aaron did, I guess.  They were talking about routines and stuff, we were just trying to have a good time.

PAIGE MACKENZIE:  You have to see his routine. 

AARON ROWAND:  It's slow and it's awful and I'm not good. 

PAIGE MACKENZIE:  Well, if you're going to take a long time, you've got to at least be good.

AARON ROWAND:  That's I told her, the kicker is I spend all this time going through my routine and I get over the ball and if I shank it, everybody's going to go, Well, why did you even go through that?  We talked about that.  But we had a great time out there, too.  It was really fun playing out there with Paige.

KRISTY McPHERSON:  There's a lot of wedge work between these guys, don't let him fool you.  Between the two of them, both of them didn't hit the fairway in any certain hole but between the two of them, one of them would hit the fairway and give me 60 yards into a par 4 that I'm used to having 150 into.  

A.J. PIERZYNSKI:  Aaron's just mad because Gerina outdrove him on the long drive hole. 

KRISTY McPHERSON:  Gerina outdrives everybody.

MODERATOR:  As we were talking about with Texas, one of the things this year is the LPGA is heading back to Texas for the first time in a little while and I know, Gerina, you're excited to be back in your home state.  But A.J., I was asking you earlier too, what does it mean to have an LPGA event back there and knowing what a big golf area it is? 
A.J. PIERZYNSKI:  Well, it's huge obviously with the PGA tournaments that are there and a lot of players live there, and then having the LPGA being able to get back in there.  And I know north Texas and especially Dallas and Ft. Worth areas, huge into golf.  I mean, there's golf courses everywhere.  So it's a big thing for the LPGA and the people there, plus I hope the people come out to support them.  I know I wish that we were in town because I'd be out there.  I'd be begging Craig to get me in the pro‑am again, but we're going to unfortunately be out of town.  But I hope other people go out and support them and realize how good these girls are and how special they are at a sport that is not easy at all. 

MODERATOR:  One of the big things that we promote at the LPGA is See Why It's Different Out Here, but a lot of it is the personalities and the accessibility of our athletes here on the LPGA.  How nice was it in terms of this experience in the pro‑am to see these players relate so easily to you guys and just really have fun with all the groups?  And it wasn't just you guys, it was some other people that were in the pro‑am groups as well. 
JOHN KRUK:  Well, I've done a few of these and I've done some with the men.  No disrespect to the men, but I would much rather play with these ladies because they're helpful ‑‑

AARON ROWAND:  Thank you. 

JOHN KRUK:  Well, not you. 

AARON ROWAND:  I was saying thank you, I agree with you.

JOHN KRUK:  They're more helpful reading putts, helping ‑‑ constructive criticism, sometimes getting honest because we hit balls so far out of bounds, it's unrealistic.  But that's the thing I like about playing with the women.  When you watch men play, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and those great pros, we can't do that.  We can't.  As much as we would try, we can't do that.  We can't hit a ball 210 out of a bunker with a 6‑iron to a guarded pin over a lake like Tiger Woods did in Canada.  Impossible.  So if we're good players, we would hope to be as good as these ladies and we're not, but we know we'll never be as good as the men.

MODERATOR:  So I have one last question for you guys up here because you guys were all hitters.  What's the difference between hitting a baseball and hitting a golf ball, and which do you find easier? 
A.J. PIERZYNSKI:  What's the old line, in golf they have to hit their foul balls?  Isn't that the difference?  We were joking on one hole that I don't understand why golfers, they have to have it all quiet.  We hit balls that are moving this way and that way and there's 50,000 people telling me I stink, so I don't understand why it's so hard to hit a golf ball that's not moving, but then again, it goes left, it goes right, like Kruky was saying.  We have a hard time keeping it on the green stuff.

JOHN KRUK:  If you put a baseball on a tee, I could tell you I could hit it that way, I could hit it that way, I could hit it that way whenever I feel like it.  I put a golf ball on a tee, God knows where it's ending up and it's just the way ‑‑ that's why they sell them by the dozen, right?  We went through a dozen, didn't we, A.J.?

AARON ROWAND:  I'm just amazed like you were saying at the beginning, any one of us can put a ball on a baseball tee, swing a bat and I can say I'll hit that corner, I'm going to hit that corner, I'm going to hit that.  No brainer.  I know where to set it up in my stance, I know what kind of swing I need to take.  But what gets me and what amazes me is how consistent you guys are and you guys put it there every time, you put yourself in ‑‑ you don't have the big cajones to try to go for it.  You lay up and then you go, I'm going to go ‑‑ 

A.J. PIERZYNSKI:  She does.  She outdrove you on 18, so easy there. 

AARON ROWAND:  Well, she knows where she's hitting it, I don't.  That's the biggest deal.  But you give yourself 150, 110, 100 yards in, 80 yards in, whatever it is, and then you roll it from 15 feet and you make a birdie and you do it consistently.  It's like, Hey, good hole, A.J., or Good hole, Kruky, and then the next one's a triple.

JOHN KRUK:  And 10 holes later we say it again.

AARON ROWAND:  And that's why you end up having a handicap of 15.  That's what really amazes me about all you guys and how well you guys can do that kind of stuff.  It's amazing.

MODERATOR:  I'm just going to say we appreciated having you guys out here today.  We hope to see you at a couple more LPGA pro‑ams and get to enjoy what tremendous skill these women have and how much fun it is out here.  So enjoyed playing with you and thanks again for coming. 

 

Solheim Cup

MODERATOR:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Thank you all for being here this afternoon.  I think it's 3:00 local time.  Nice job, glad you guys are all here.  Dottie made her flight, that's tremendous, always good to be on time.  Thank you for taking part with us today.  We are five months away from the opening ceremonies of the Solheim Cup matches, the 13th staging of the Solheim Cup in Parker, Colorado, at the Colorado Golf Club.  The dates are August 13th through the 18th.  The United States currently leads the Solheim Cup competition 8‑4, so this is a big one this year, and we have an announcement to make.  I want to acknowledge a couple much people that are here.  John Solheim is here right in the back.  Thank you, John, for being here.  Chairman and CEO of Ping.  Louise Solheim is here as well, and Sandy Solheim.  Let's give them a round of applause.

And Louise, it's great to see you here as well.  Louise Suggs is here as well. 
LOUISE SUGGS:  I'm applying for the team.

MODERATOR:  You are applying for the team, get that one down.  Captain's selection.
MEG MALLON:  She's one of my picks.

MODERATOR:  Okay.  Well, there we go.  We have an extra announcement that we didn't know was coming today.  Congratulations.

So I'm joined by Meg Mallon to my left, the U.S. team captain, an 18‑time winner on the LPGA with four majors and a nine‑time Solheim Cup member, eight as a player and one as an assistant captain. 

Dottie Pepper, the U.S. team assistant captain, running through the resume, 17‑time winner on the LPGA, two majors, six times a competitor on the United States Solheim Cup member. 

Now the team will not be finalized ‑‑ I'll get to you in a second ‑‑ will not be finalized until the Rico Women's British Open.  That is August the 4th.  The Top 8 on the U.S. Solheim Cup points list, the next two highest Americans ranked in the Rolex Rankings, and then two captain's selections, which will now just be one because we've already got that settled with Louise being on the United States team.  Sharpen up the short game, Colorado Golf Club's very difficult, there's some testy spots out there on those greens.
MEG MALLON:  It's the altitude, though.  She'll hit it really well.

MODERATOR:  The captains are now finalized and I introduced Laura Diaz and I'm going to let you handle the introduction.
MEG MALLON:  I'm happy to announce that I've selected Laura Diaz as my second assistant captain for the 2013 United States Solheim Cup team.  As I look in the back of the room, I'm thrilled to see a lot of Solheim Cup players here to support her.  And of course she's crying already.  I have two assistants that cry like I can't believe.

Obvious reasons, Laura is as passionate of the Solheim Cup as any player that's ever played in the history of the Solheim Cup.  She's played on four Solheim Cup teams.  I've been fortunate to play on three, I believe, of the four that we played together.  When I talked to Laura about it, I knew she was playing a full‑time schedule and I felt that Laura could easily have a big year this year and make the team.  And I felt that she could do both, be a playing assistant if that came around, so I didn't have a problem with that whatsoever.  I just knew I needed Laura on this team and by our side, and I'm just thrilled she said yes.

MODERATOR:  That, she did.  So why don't we start with you.  Your reaction beyond the tears?
LAURA DIAZ:  Wow.  It is the greatest honor in my career.  I think playing on the Solheim Cup team four times was such an honor, pleasure, privilege, but the passion for the game really comes out that week.  When Meg asked me, I was really just in awe, surprised, shocked.  I didn't even know what to say.

Meg is one of the people that I respect the most in the game and was on three, I believe we were all victorious on all the teams that we played on together.  She was always one of the ones making that big putt on the last hole to win a big match.  So I respect Meg beyond words, so it's such a great honor to have been asked to do this.

MODERATOR:  Can you take us through the phone call?  What is that like?  You've been keeping this under wraps very well, I might add.
LAURA DIAZ:  There were reasons.

MODERATOR:  Why don't we start with that.
MEG MALLON:  Actually, I hid it pretty well because Laura represents a jewelry company and I was looking at her jewelry for possible gifts for the team.  And I had a function at my house with several players that I run a charity event down in south Florida and Laura was there and I snuck her away pretending that we were going through the jewelry.  Even she didn't know what I was doing.  And I said to her, you know, How do you feel about being an assistant captain for the Solheim Cup?  And we talked through several things obviously, just about schedule, her playing full time and all that.  She said, I need to go home and talk to Kevin, her husband, about it.  And Kevin looked at her and said, Are you nuts?  How did you not say yes right away?  So she called me right way and said, I'm going to do it.  So it was terrific, I'm thrilled that she was on my short list for a long time and I'm just glad and happy that she's on board with us.

MODERATOR:  We'll take some questions in just a moment.  Dottie, I know you answered a bunch of questions when you were selected as an assistant captain by Meg, so you've been through this drill.  From your perspective, what does Laura add?
DOTTIE PEPPER:  Well, she told me she's not doing stats, so I guess that's in my lap.  But what she adds is the day‑to‑day component on Tour because she's still an active player.  My schedule with the PGA of America and other things I have going on is somewhat limiting.  I'm planning on coming to three or four events even past this one, but it's not the schedule that she will play as the team starts to take its final shape.  So I think that was the biggest thing, was to have someone that can really feel the heartbeat of what was happening from a week‑to‑week standpoint and really have a feel of how the team is shaping up, and more than just who's playing well, emotionally how everybody's handling things as the year goes on.  And she's got to play, so she's got her hands full, but we know she can handle it.  First and foremost, it was to have somebody who was really still in tune every day.

MODERATOR:  Eyes and ears, Meg, that's important? 
MEG MALLON:  Definitely.  I knew she was going to be week in and week out out here playing with the players.  I know the majority of the players out here, but there's some young players I haven't seen play a lot and Laura will be playing beside them and she can fill me in.  Not to make those players nervous when they get paired with Laura, just to let them know I have other spies out here, too, so it's not just Laura.  And it's nice to have that, and the feel of what's going on week in and week out, you can't replace that.  I can't be out here and do that, and to have someone out here week in and week out is invaluable to me.

MODERATOR:  Is that going to be a difficult challenge, to focus on golf and be a scout, if you will, as well?
LAURA DIAZ:  I think what I do is difficult, period, so I don't think that it's going to be much different.  I mean, I'm a multi‑tasker, so I think that Meg and Dottie will tell me when they really need me to focus on something and that's when I'll do it.  I told Meg when she asked me and even before that I wanted to make this team, so I think that I will go out with that and I have gone out with that as my focus, and the goal is to be a playing assistant captain alongside Dottie.

So we were trying clothes on and Dottie said, You're not trying it on to play in it, to swing in it, and I go, Oh, yeah?  Obviously that's my goal, I want to be playing.  I'll be watching and doing as asked to do by my captain.

Q.  What are some of your favorite Solheim moments or one favorite Solheim moment?
LAURA DIAZ:  One favorite, oh, gosh.  Well, I don't know if it's favorite or not favorite, but a very memorable match I had between ‑‑ it was Kelly Robbins was my partner and it was against Suzann Pettersen and Annika and it was a very tight match.  It was back and forth the entire day and it went 18 holes and I think that we lost the cup that year, but it was a very intense match and the crowds were unbelievable.  We were in Sweden, Barseback.  I think the moment of making a putt on 17 to make the match go another hole, those moments are extremely memorable. 

But I think my first Solheim Cup would be the most memorable when I was done with my match early, I think through 14 holes or something, and we all just like gathered around the 15th green and we had won the Cup.  I think at that point I was oblivious that we had even won the Cup because I wasn't keeping track of how it was all going.  Everyone's going crazy and we're all on top of each other. 

So the most memorable one was the first one because you never really grasp what it's all about until you're there.  I was lucky enough to hit the first tee shot that year that started the matches.  Juli was my partner.  I could go on and on.  I think every moment I've ever had there is memorable.  But winning the Cup is obviously the goal.  The Solheim Cup is something that you don't get to compete for every year, it's only every two years, so every moment I think I cherish and look forward to bringing the Solheim Cup back to the U.S. this year.

Q.  How long have you known this?  
LAURA DIAZ:  Since ‑‑ two months.

MEG MALLON:  And you think chicks can't keep a secret.

LAURA DIAZ:  I didn't know in December, just so you know.

Q.  Dottie, can you think of ways in which all the years that you were announcing for the Tour can contribute to what you're going to be doing here as an assistant captain? 
DOTTIE PEPPER:  Yeah, I covered, gosh, three, four Ryder Cups, three Presidents Cups throughout that time, and if anything, I think it was watching captains that were completely different across the spectrum.  Fred Couples, who just totally gets out of the way.  You had Corey Pavin, who was very hands on, didn't let his assistants even talk to the press, nothing came out unless it came through Corey.  So there were completely opposite things that I've seen over the course of really eight years with NBC. 

I just think the things that I saw most were the best captains just got their players in position and let them go.  They didn't really overanalyze the whole situation.  A lot of like personalities were paired together, they went with golf balls.  There was certainly a philosophy, but I think the thing I saw operate best was get the players in the mode they need to be to play and then just get out of the way. 

I was at a function at Port St. Lucie last night and they were talking about Tom Watson being the captain for the upcoming Ryder Cup team and his whole philosophy is just, I don't care what they do, I just want them to be in the best frame of mind they can be to go play the golf they already know how to play.  I think that's kind of where we've been at since July.  Every decision that's been made has been get them in the best atmosphere they possibly can and just turn them loose.

Q.  I have to ask.  I mean, I'd get in trouble if I didn't.  There was an incident a few years ago, words were said, and I know it was tough for you in the aftermath, even like the next year it was still tough for you.  Where does that stand now for you?  And obviously I'm sure you have had conversations about it with Dottie and Meg and just kind of ‑‑
LAURA DIAZ:  I think in most friendships words are said that people don't like, right?  And sometimes it takes a little time to get over and sometimes it takes a longer time.  I think that words are words and it's whatever.  We both are very passionate about the Solheim Cup and I think that Meg kind of said it best to me today.  I would assume that when you're watching, you're feeling like you're a participant in the Solheim Cup.  And as much as Dottie and I have shared, I've known Dottie since I was 10 years old, so there's a lot more that goes into it than just she was a commentator.  I would like to believe that she was playing that match with me and she was feeling what I was feeling and words came out that, you know, they were just words.  I think that we've spoken a lot since then.  I've kind of actually been in her position, I commentated last year or two years ago on the Solheim Cup and it's definitely a different position, a player and an announcer. 

It's all behind us.  I mean, we've been family for so long, I think that that's probably why it bothered me the most.  But now I just see it from a point of view that the passion that came out is the passion that we have for the Solheim Cup. 

DOTTIE PEPPER:  I would say the same thing, and I made one crucial mistake.  It was breaking a broadcast rule that you're never supposed to root and I did, and the switch wasn't off when I did and I said something that I would have and have said to myself numerous times and it happened to go out over the air.  But I think the thing that is most important to remember about the Solheim Cup itself is that while it drives passion and that can sometimes scar a friendship, Solheim Cup is also way bigger to mend it again.  

MEG MALLON:  When we talked about this, I have been slapped in the face with "life is too short" in the last few years, and life's too short.  And if they're okay with it, the rest of us are okay with it and I'm happy to see this.  And I'm no dummy.  These two love this event and they should be together enjoying this event together, so I'm happy about it.

MODERATOR:  You picked a couple real feisty assistant captains from a personality perspective.  
DOTTIE PEPPER:  We did something good here today, we let Beth Ann keep her job.

MODERATOR:  Talk about that and what they will add to the team in that regard from an emotional standpoint.
MEG MALLON:  It's so funny you say that.  My friends that are here in the crowd that know a different Meg Mallon than what most people think, I'm a duck on a pond, everything is going pretty fast underneath.  So I have equally the same intensity, it's just handled a little differently.  These guys are a little more outward than I am, so really we're going to balance each other really well.  My whole theme about the Solheim Cup is we're going to have so much fun, this is going to be a blast.  My team is going to have so much fun and that's the bottom line.  It's a sporting event, it's the greatest event in women's golf.  If you're privileged to be 12 people on that team, you're going to have a good time.

MODERATOR:  There's a lot of smiles in the back, some of those ladies.  I have one more question for you two and then if you have a question out there, raise your hand.  A lot of times the captain of any professional team or coach gets too much credit, it's always said, when they win and not enough or too much when they lose.  As an assistant to the captain, I'm sure you've thought a lot about this opportunity for you guys and how you handle your role and how you make a difference beyond just being an assistant captain.  How do you feel you'll do that?  How will you make a difference for Meg Mallon?  You first, Laura.
LAURA DIAZ:  I think that it's a supportive role, so I'll basically do whatever she asks.  No, I think the relationship that I have with all the players that are still playing and the way that ‑‑ like the go‑between to help figure out certain pairings or how someone fits together, who's comfortable.  I'm hoping to be more like that buffer and that I can give her the added support she needs if she's kind of wavering on who she wants to put together, stuff like that.  I hope that the girls are at a point where all of us are still competing against each other but we have a relationship, a respect that I've developed with them over the years that they're comfortable coming to me and saying, you know what, this is my good friend and I love playing practice rounds together, but it's just not ‑‑ we're not feeling it out there, can we make a change.  So I just want to give Meg the best support that I can give her.  And sleep is something that we don't get much that week, so if they can come to me with problems and let me take the heat on the sleep and let her ‑‑ because she's got to have that fine tuned brain.

MODERATOR:  Dottie?  
DOTTIE PEPPER:  Well, I'm one of the few that's actually spent some time at Colorado Golf Club.  I worked all 72 holes of the 2010 Senior PGA Championships, so I've seen it in tournament conditions, so I think that's certainly an asset for our side.  Although it won't be the same time of the year, it still will have a lot of characteristics that I saw in major championship setup.  I've said this since last July, I've been the UPS man for Meg, what can Brown do for you?

MEG MALLON:  She's been great.  If I ask her to do something, it's done yesterday.  

DOTTIE PEPPER:  It's been take the details off her plate so she can paint in broad strokes and make sure things are done with the staff on site, with everything else that goes into getting prepared.  It's not just about the week of the Cup, it's about the practice rounds, it's about special trips, it's about being prepared for media days that we've had, it's been all of that.  So if there were details that I could take off her plate and make sure the little things were done, that's what I try to do.

Q.  (inaudible)
MEG MALLON:  Yes, you're a smart man, Jerry.  I am a pay‑it‑forward person.  I was looking to the future of the Solheim Cup, bringing Dottie back into the fold of being a part of the Solheim Cups again was certainly a lot to this about grooming future captains.  I was an assistant captain in 2009, invaluable experience.  You have no idea what goes into this two‑year process, and even Rosie Jones said it last year, I wish I had been an assistant captain because there's just so much that you have to learn.  So definitely a big part of it.  I had a lot of list of players that were eligible for it and these two were on my short list right away.

MODERATOR:  Do you want to give an update on what you've been doing as captain aside from making this choice a couple of months ago and keeping it from us for this long?  We've been to Colorado a couple much times as Dottie talked about and the enthusiasm in the Denver area and Parker has been outstanding, ticket sales going well, everybody seems pretty fired up.  What about from your perspective?
MEG MALLON:  It's a great golf community in Colorado.  We had the U.S. Open at Cherry Hills and at Broadmoor, so we're going to have a wonderful U.S. backing.  And certainly a lot of European sales have happened as well, so it's going to be a wonderful event from the fan perspective.  This week's actually been a big week.  Antigua clothing is doing the Solheim Cup clothing, so we've had a good 30 players trying on clothes because, frankly, the top five are pretty much a lock, but seven spots are wide open. 

What's different this year for the Solheim Cup is the Rolex World Rankings are the 9th and 10th picks, so this is going to be completely different for who makes the team.  We could literally go to the two weeks before the Solheim Cup and not know four of our players who are on the team.  So that's our biggest challenge of the coming months is watching how this plays out, how these players play for those seven spots that are available.  So it's been a lot of work, but a lot of fun.  A lot goes into this event, but it should because it's the greatest event in women's golf and I've really enjoyed it.

Q.  So, Meg, how long have you been waiting for this captaincy?  Certainly since you were an assistant captain.  And how is it now that you're in the slot, how's it different than what you expected given all the experience you've had?  
MEG MALLON:  I was completely surprised when Commissioner Whan called me and said I was the next captain.  It's something that you would hope you would get a chance to do, but when that phone call comes, it's pretty cool.  So from that perspective I was excited.

The background on Colorado Golf Club, my teacher actually started and built Colorado Golf Club, so I've known this golf course before there was even a hole in the ground.  So I have a history with this place, which is kind of special for me to be there and be captain there.

And then second part of your question was?  Oh, how's it different than what I expected it would be.  Yeah, it's a lot of work.  I dabble in social media a little bit.  I am not married to a computer and now I am, so that's been an interesting process, just a lot of information.  I mean, it's from what are we having breakfast, lunch and dinner every day, what rooms are people staying in, what clothing are we wearing what day?  It's from 24 hours figuring out six days of being in Colorado what we're doing every minute and then working backwards to practice sessions, getting my players out there to see the golf course.  It's a lot, but it's a lot of fun.  It's a once‑in‑a‑lifetime opportunity and I'm embracing it.

MODERATOR:  One final thought from Laura Diaz.  It's about you today as we all get to leave the stage.  What would this mean to you to be a part of this team getting the cup back?  
LAURA DIAZ:  The honor and the privilege that go along with the Solheim Cup I think make all of us in the room speechless, so I think that my final words would be USA All The Way.

 

 

 

Topics: Notes and Interviews, Mackenzie, Paige, Mcpherson, Kristy, Piller, Gerina, LPGA Founders Cup [+]

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