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U.S. Solheim Cup Captain Announces Assistants
The captain of the 2011 American Solheim Cup team, Rosie Jones, announced her assistant captains at a press conference Tuesday at this week's LPGA Tour stop, the Bell Micro LPGA Classic in Mobile, Ala.
Jones selected two veterans of the biennial competition, which will be held September 23-25 at Killeen Castle in County Meath Ireland. Sherri Steinhauer and Juli Inkster will do their parts to fire up the American squad, which will be defending its title after beating the Europeans in 2009 at Rich Harvest Farms in Illinois by a 16-to-12 margin. The U.S. leads the team competition named after the founder of PING, 8 to 3.
Here's what the three principals had to say during their appearance before the press.
MODERATOR: Hello everyone. We're here to welcome three of the top players in the history of the LPGA Tour. First, Rosie Jones will have an announcement to make regarding the U.S. Solheim Cup, which will be played in 2011 in Ireland.
ROSIE JONES: Thanks, David, and thanks ya'll for being here. This is really a proud day for me as the Solheim Cup captain of the 2011 Solheim Cup. One thing I learned as a player on the LPGA and now as captain of the Solheim Cup, the important thing for me for success is to surround myself with talented people that have character and confidence. Confidence, poise, and passion are the attributes that I believe in and would expect and depend on from my partners at the helm of the Solheim Cup. Both of these assistants have displayed these characteristics not only in their professional careers, but in their personal lives as well. They each bring special talent to the table, and are just as important to the team as the players who earned themselves onto the team.
Together with a combined experience of 19 Solheim Cups between the three of us, we become the foundation of what will be a fantastic U.S. team at the Solheim Cup in 2011. Obviously both of these gals are able, and I hope they do play their way onto the team. There's been a lot of questions about that throughout the last couple hours. But I've given them every option in the world, and the best options for all of us is that they can either -- if they do play themselves onto the team, they can play as just a player and give up their assistant captainship, or they can be playing as a plain assistant. It's up to them. Either way, they're gonna in the team room with me when we go to the Cup.
In no particular order and without further delay, I would like it introduce you to both of these assistants. Sherri Steinhauer is an eight-time winner on the LPGA, including two major championships. Currently No. 20 on the career Money List with just under $6 million. Four-time Solheim Cup player with the most recent one in 2007. As a player, she's been undefeated in in both singles and foursomes. She's won a total of 8 points and was the gal that sunk the putt to clinch the win in 1998.
Sherri and I have played on many teams together in both Japan and on the Solheim Cup. She's a hard worker, a meticulous planner, and very detail-oriented in everything she does. If you match that with her competitive drive and spark for the Solheim Cup, you've got a very confident, savvy, and irreplaceable assistant captain. Sherri Steinhauer. (Applause.)
SHERRI STEINHAUER: Thank you.
ROSIE JONES: Juli Inkster, Juli Crack-Pot Inkster, member of the LPGA and World Golf Hall of Fame, ranked No.4 in career money with over $12 million. She's won 31 tournaments, including seven majors, played in eight Solheim Cups, 31 matches, winning 18 points for the U.S. team. That's our top U.S. player with 18 points, so I can't go wrong with picking Juli. These stats prove what kind of player Juli is, but they don't say anything when it comes to being a member of a team. When you're a member of the Solheim Cup team, you're measured an a different stick.
Juli is the ultimate teammate. The type of person and leader that can bring just about any team together. She can keep it light and fun, but demand the respect from all the players with her honest and candid approach. To me, she will be the cement and the glue that keep the team bonding. Her personality along with her experience and tenacity as a player will be immeasurable as an assistant captain in Ireland. Juli Inkster. (Applause.)
JULI INKSTER: Thank you.
ROSIE JONES: Do you have anything to say?
JULI INKSTER: Yeah, I do. First of all, it's an honor to be here. The Solheim Cup has been a huge part of my life since it started. I've been on teams with both these ladies next to me, and, you know, I think the goal of the Solheim Cup is to make it fun, to go over there and win. But winning is not everything. It's how you win and how you represent the LPGA and the United States. These two are perfect for the job. I'm looking forward to Rosie's leadership and following that and doing everything I can to help her be a successful captain.
SHERRI STEINHAUER: I definitely echo what Juli says. Haven't been there as long as Juli has and played on as many teams, but been fortunate enough to play with these two amazing players and watch how they conducted themselves in the past Solheim Cups. Representing our country and to be a part of their team is a great, great honor for me. When I got the phone call from Rosie, I was surprised and elated. So I just look so forward to being a part of their team and going over to Killeen Castle and doing a great job.
Q. Rosie, when you chose these two, were you looking for two assistants who complement each other? Were you looking for somebody who's fiery? Steady? What was the decision process?
ROSIE JONES: Well, first of all, I think what I was trying to find is two assistants that would balance out the roles that we need to lead this team. I know that I have a lot of passion. I'm pretty intense at times. I knew that Juli would be kind of light, kind of roll with the punches. She talks really well with the gals and really connects with the younger players, especially since I haven't been out here for the last four years. She's played at last two Solheim Cup teams with them. Juli and I tend to shoot from the hip. And Sherri, that's when Sherri comes in and goes, Whoa, and balances it all out a little bit. (Laughter.) She's a well-rounded thinker. She stops, you know, and like I said, she is very meticulous in her thought pattern. She thinks of all different angles. She wants to make sure that we're all making the right moves.
They're all very competitive but very fun and very upbeat players and people. That's who I want to be around. I had to think real -- not very hard really. But my goal was -- I'm gonna be working very close with these gals. We're gonna be doing a lot brainstorming, a lot emailing. I had a lot of connections out at tournaments and whatnot over the next 16 months. They've been good friends of mine over the period of the 25 years that I've been on tour. We've been doing a lot of things together. I've been very good friends with both of these gals, more so at different times of our careers. But, um, that's what I wanted around me. I needed feel-good people around me, people that were strong and demand respect from the players, people that can help me lead the team.
Q. Sherri and Juli both, you've worked obviously under captains and assistant captains. In your mind, what type of an assistant captain do you think you'll be? Is there anybody who you've played for that you kind of aspire to in that regard?
SHERRI STEINHAUER: Well, I think, you know, the main thing is to be there for the support of Rosie. She's obviously gonna be bouncing ideas off of us, but Rosie already has demonstrated an amazing organization towards -- and we're how many months, 16 months away? So she definitely has things under control. But we're there for her, I think, to bounce ideas off, and you know, help with some selections and, what do you call them, the captain's picks and the teaming and all. So I think just because we do go way back, all of us, that we bond together. I think in the past -- let's see. You know, it's really -- the captain -- I really have a hard time even thinking of some of the assistant captains. The captain, they're the one that's running the show and they're righting the ship. We're just there for support for Rosie. I think that we represent that well because we're friends and we knee each other.
JULI INKSTER: Yeah, I think we're Rosie's eyes and ears. We're gonna be out here a lot more than her. I think good assistant captains are flying under the radar. If Rosie needs us to, you know, go out and get the pinch heats or do whatever -- whatever she wants, we'll be there for her. If she needs someone to go talk to the girls or someone to, you know, talk to the parents or whatever. You know, whatever she wants us to do we'll be there. I've been on a lot of teams, and I hate to say it, but I can't name one bad captain or assistant captain. They've all been really good. They all have a little different techniques and a little different way about them, but I loved playing for ever one of them.
Q. Juli, if you do indeed retire at some point...
JULI INKSTER: Why does everybody want me to retire?
Q. Just saying if you decide not to play, how will you handle watching rather than playing?
JULI INKSTER: Oh, it's gonna be a lot easier, I'll tell that you much. You know, I don't know. I've never really done it before. I think I'll be fine. You know, I think I'll be into the matches and I think I'll be into the girls. You know, it's gonna be definitely different, but I think it'll be good.
Q. Sherri, she was talking about the discussion about whether or not you could play your way onto the team. Do you still hold out for that? Would you like to do that?
SHERRI STEINHAUER: It's definitely a goal of mine to make the team. You know, I'm gonna be fighting hard for that. You know, if we come to that bridge, then we'll reevaluate and discuss what we're gonna do at that point. Right now I'm focused on working with Rosie, and, you know, obviously I'm working hard on my game. Whatever happens, happens.
ROSIE JONES: I wanted to comment on that a little bit, even though you didn't ask me. In 2004, Nancy Lopez asked me to be her assistant captain, and I was still playing and hoping to be on that team. That's the first thing I said to her. I said, Yeah, I would love to be your assistant, but I still want to play on your team. I really want to play for you. She says, Absolutely. It's the very same conversation I had with both of these girls. I opened up my phone calls and conversation with, you know, I very well think you can on this team, but I would like you to be my assistant. That doesn't mean, you know, take it away from you being able to play yourself on. But when it happened to me, it almost gave me a huge relief because I knew I was going to have some kind of role at the Solheim Cup. It allowed me to have the freedom to go out there and really play without the pressure of being there or not. Hopefully it kind of alleviates some of that curiosity and fear, because it's so hard to get on the Solheim Cup. I have a lot of faith in both of these players. If that is to happen, then we'll make adjustments as we go. I know that they'll be in that team room with me whether as a player or an assistant.
Q. Can you talk, Sherri, a little bit about the difference between playing an away match as opposed to home?
SHERRI STEINHAUER: Obviously it's a lot tougher on foreign soil. You know, you've got -- the fans over there are definitely, you know, European and they're dominating. So the goal when you're overseas is you want to hear noise. You want to hear American noise. If you hear the huge roars, then you know you're not doing so well. When hear those little soft kind of roars, then you know it's for the Americans. It's very, very different. So our goal when we go on foreign soil is to quiet the crowd. If we keep them quiet, then we know that we're doing all right. But it's definitely more difficult.
Q. Are you guys gonna go check out the course this summer?
ROSIE JONES: Yeah. We have a site check right after the British Open this year during the Irish Open, which is being played at Killeen Castle. So we'll be able to see the golf course and the hotel during tournament-ready conditions. We're looking forward to a couple days over there checking that out.
MODERATOR: Thank you.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.