SOLHEIM CUP MEDIA CONFERENCE
August 8, 2017
KELLY SCHULTZ: Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you all for joining us for this conference call. We are here with U.S. Solheim Cup Captain Juli Inkster for a special announcement regarding the news yesterday that Jessica Korda has to withdraw her spot due to an injury, so I'm going to turn it over to Juli.
JULI INKSTER: Good afternoon, and good morning to all. First of all, I want to thank you for coming on. I know you all heard about Jessica, and I want to say that Jessica, when she let us know, it was big on her part because she could have waited and to see if her injury would have healed, but with that, she let us go ahead so this player can get ready for the team. I mean, for her to think about the team first and not herself, I have a big admiration for that.
With that said, the person I put into the hat is Paula Creamer. The reason why I put Paula in the hat was, one, she's been there. She knows what's going on. She has the experience. She's playing well. I didn't know when Jessica was going to make this announcement, and I just felt Paula, if she had to come in Wednesday night and tee it up Friday that she could handle that. I needed the experience. I needed someone that was not afraid to step in at that point and contribute to the team.
When I told Paula she was not on the team, she was disappointed, but like everybody I told, they were disappointed. But when I suggested would she be an alternate if Jessica could not play, she was 100 percent in. That speaks highly to Paula, and everybody on the team is excited to have her and knows what she brings to the team.
KELLY SCHULTZ: We are also pleased by joined by Paula on this call. Paula, just your reaction to finding out that you will be on another U.S. Solheim Cup team.
PAULA CREAMER: Yeah, well, thank you. You know, first off, I want to just say to Jessica, I know she worked so hard, and she earned her way on that team, and I've been through injuries, and I know what it feels like. I just hope that the injury isn't as bad as everybody is saying and she can take care of her body and she can get back out there.
But it is a very weird feeling. You don't want one of your teammates or your friends to be hurt, but that's why you have alternates, for that reason. But I'm very honored. I'm ready to wear red, white and blue for the seventh time. It's pretty crazy. I'm definitely looking forward to being out there. But it is kind of sad under these circumstances for Jessica.
Q. Juli, thank you for taking the time with this call. I was just wondering if you could talk us through a little bit of what the process was of how you found out from Jessica about her injury and decision to pull out.
JULI INKSTER: Well, so we made the announcement Sunday around 8:00 p.m. over there, and then the team kind of met with a little dinner that night, and I got a text from Jessica that night to call her. So when I was on the road, I called her going from St. Andrews back to Edinburgh about -- I guess it was about 11:30, almost midnight, and she said that she would not be able to play.
That's kind of how we got the ball going. She didn't want me to tell anybody because she wanted to put out a statement, and I respected that because it was her deal right there, and it was her wishes. I didn't say anything until she sent out that tweet, and then we got the ball rolling.
Q. The fact that you have Angel Yin and Austin Ernst and Danielle Kang, who will be in a Solheim Cup environment for the first time, how much did that also factor into your leaning on a veteran like Paula?
JULI INKSTER: You know what, to tell you the truth, I really didn't have anybody else in mind. I just felt like she was the perfect person for that, and she was a captain's pick last time. She knows how that goes. I mean, it's great, and it's great for the team to have that veteran leadership on it, but I guess it was a consideration because she is a veteran, but she was really the one that was on my radar.
Q. Paula, could you tell us just maybe what your range of emotions have been over the last 48, 72 hours?
PAULA CREAMER: Been a bit of a roller coaster, that's for sure. You know, I played really hard these last couple of weeks, and I've tried to give it a big push as much as I could, and then obviously -- I played decent on Sunday, and then you never want to hear somebody say you're not picked. You don't even want to be in that situation. So I knew it was tough going into it. But then when she asked me to be the alternate, followed by that, it's just been a whirlwind.
But like I said, when somebody is injured, you do think there is a possibility that you could be there, and the fact that Juli even asked for me to take that spot, it means a lot to me that to know that she can trust me. But I'm ready for just a couple days to relax a little bit and kind of figure out -- got to get into match play mind and ready to play for the team.
Q. Paula, two years ago your form wasn't the best, and Juli showed a lot of faith in you; how much did that mean to you, and how much does that mean now?
PAULA CREAMER: Oh, well, last time was -- I was quite -- it was a different experience because I knew my game at that point going into Solheim, it wasn't my best. I definitely wasn't showing any good scores right around then. I know I missed the cut before at the Canadian Open and I was just distraught and devastated, and now I'm in a place where I'm in total control of my own game. I feel so confident. It's just a very different situation, and in terms of where I am at mentally and also physically.
So the fact that she gave me a chance then and now she's giving me an opportunity now means everything. You know, I felt like I pulled my own weight last time, and obviously I wanted to win all my matches, but I was in some pretty good situations out there for nerves wise, and it's nice to have your team that supports you, and when you are a pick, it's a little bit different because if they didn't want you there, you wouldn't be there, so it's nice to know that my team is behind me, as well.
Q. Juli, two years ago there was some question about whether you should take Paula, and not only did you take her, you put her out first and you put her in the anchor match. Can you just speak to the message that you sent with that?
JULI INKSTER: Well, I mean, I've got a lot of faith and a lot of confidence in Paula. She reminds me a lot of myself as far as heart and grit, and I know she never gives up. And with her and Morgan, I wanted to send a message out that captain's picks don't mean anything, you're on the team. You're one of the 12. And if you're one of the 12, you're going to play, and I felt if I had to have anybody make a four-foot putt on the last to win the Solheim, I had complete confidence that Paula could do it.
I asked her, I said, would you mind being my anchor, and she didn't even waver, she goes, "Put me in last. I'm good. I'm ready to go." That's what you need. You need honesty from your teammates. You need honesty from your players to let you know that, hey, they can do it, or hey, I don't feel comfortable there.
And as far as Paula being an alternate or whatever, she's on the team now. The team was all behind me putting her in there, and we all have faith that she's going to bring it like she always does.
I'm disappointed that Jessica can't go, and I feel bad for her, but I like where my team is at right now, and I think everybody can't wait to get there.
Q. Juli, you mentioned earlier that you weren't sure about Jessica's health, so that was obviously weighing on your mind. Did you know something that we didn't? Had you had any discussions with her last week or prior to last week about how she was feeling?
JULI INKSTER: Well, I mean, I saw her Monday -- no, I saw her -- let's see, when did I get in? Wednesday. I saw her Wednesday of Scotland, of the British Open, and I said, hey, how you -- I knew she took two weeks off. I knew her forearm, wrist, was not great at the U.S. Open. So she said she took two weeks off and didn't hit a ball and came over here. She said it felt great and everything was going good, and then I guess on Thursday, I saw her in the physio room. She was getting worked on, and I guess she hit a shot and kind of aggravated it. So that's really what I was worried about, that she felt great and there was just one shot and then she was back to where she's at.
As Paula knows, when you're in the Solheim, you've got to be ready to play 36 holes. You've got to be ready to play maybe 72 holes. You just -- you're playing a lot of golf, and I was really worried that one shot and I could lose her for the week.
So that was really the only message I really got, and then when she withdrew and flew to Prague, I stayed in communications with her, but I did not know the extent of it until I talked to her that Sunday night.
Q. Paula, I was just wondering if you could talk a little bit about where the confidence in your game is coming from. Obviously the last few tournaments you just keep getting better and better, and you sound like you just love where your game is at right now. Could you just kind of break down why you think that's happening?
PAULA CREAMER: Yeah, I've definitely put in the time, that's for sure. I have been working so hard, and I know when you hear that and people say that, it is words, but I do believe that it's starting to show. You know, it hasn't been easy. Playing bad golf is no fun, that's for sure. It's exhausting, it's mentally draining. It's not easy. But I've been staying so positive, and I knew that these changes that I needed to do in my golf swing were going to take some time, and it was just a matter of when that was going to happen. My team around me has been so supportive. I mean, they have seen me in some pretty dark places, but they know my goals, and they know that I'm not a quitter and that I'm going to do what it takes, and I played five weeks in a row. I've got a lot of tournaments on my schedule that I'm going to play because I want to play my way through this, and I went home after the U.S. Open pretty upset, and I had two days at home with Gary, my coach, and we worked really hard on just trying to figure out a swing thought, and I found one, and it definitely has stuck, and I feel like it's something that'll stay around for a long time.
Basically it's more confidence in knowing that I'm in control of what I'm doing. I know my misses, and it's been a different year for me. I've had a couple different caddies, so there was a learning experience with all of that, but Brooker is on my bag now for a while, and it's been good to have the consistency of that.
Q. Juli, you had picked Paula as your alternate on Sunday night? Obviously we all didn't know who the alternate was, but your team knew; is that correct?
JULI INKSTER: No, my team didn't even know. I just kind of ransom names out there, and they just kind of told me who they thought. But I couldn't tell anybody. I just had to tell one person. That's kind of how it came about.
Q. So they were all surprised when you talked to them today I'm sure?
JULI INKSTER: Yeah.
Q. I've just got a clarification question on the captains' agreement. Now that you have opened the envelope, do you get to put another name back in it in case something happens or are you done?
JULI INKSTER: No, I do. I get to put another name in there.
KELLY SCHULTZ: Thanks, everybody, for joining. Thank you, Juli. Thank you, Paula, and we look forward to seeing everyone in Des Moines next week.
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