Talking Solheim With Nancy Lopez

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2005 Solheim CupWith the naming of the U.S. Solheim Cup team less than two weeks away, the Golf Channel chatted with captain Nancy Lopez about the U.S. team's recent outing to the host Crooked Stick course, Nancy's philosophies on match-ups, and the unusual camaraderie on this year's team.
 
At the recent outing at Crooked Stick, what was your main objective? Was it primarily to develop a little team spirit, or did you look a little at various pairings, work on some strategies?
 
NANCY LOPEZ: I really just wanted to practice together. The pairings I made were really just pairings that I thought maybe the players would play well together. Theyre not definitely my pairings or anything, I just wanted to see who felt comfortable with who. Weve never had an alternate-shot practice time. I think we got a lot out of it, I think the players had a lot of feedback on the golf course. And we had a great time.
 
So I think we really accomplished so many things with those two days of practice.
 
Can you talk about whom some of your teams were ' realizing that nothing is final until the Solheim actually begins?
 
NANCY LOPEZ: Id rather not go into that, but only because I dont want to tip my hand as to whom my pairings might be.
 
Is it your philosophy to try to match a veteran with a young player, a long hitter with a straight hitter, two friends ' how do you feel about it?
 
NANCY LOPEZ: I think you have to think about those things for sure. But I think weve got so many great young players ' I really like to match up people whose games are similar. I think a big thing is to always put a short hitter with a long hitter (in alternate shot.) You cannot put two short hitters together. That just causes twice the problems ' they may not be able to reach some of the par-5s in two when a lot of the other groups will be able to do that.
 
Do you miss the Dottie Pepper type ' someone with her feistiness?

NANCY LOPEZ: I would have loved for Dottie Pepper to be on my team. She is very intimidating; shes a tough little player. But I think I have everything I need on this team ' Ive got personality, Ive got feistiness, Ive got toughness, Ive got youngness ' Ive got everything.
 
And I think we had a great time on our outing. There was such great camaraderie between the players ' better than I thought. It was a great two days! I wish I could take all 15 of them. I feel very close to all of them, Im very proud of each and every one of them. Its going to be difficult to choose.
 
Is it possible to be a good golfer individually and not be a particularly good team player?
 
NANCY LOPEZ: I think thats possible, but only because golf is such an individual sport. But I think that with the bonding that I think we have done in the last couple of years, just with the players and having dinners together ' comfort is important. I think if you can get them comfortable, all that other stuff just falls into place. Instead of just throwing them out of the golf course and all that other stuff for the first time together ' theyve not really spent a lot of time together, not knowing each others emotions when you dont practice. I think weve done it the right way.
 
By spending more time together, even though it hasnt been every day, I think the players are comfortable, theyre familiar with each other, familiar with this format now by practicing alternate-shot. How does she play? Does she hit this kind of shot? A lot of questions will be answered in their minds, so they may be able to go into the alternate-shot a little more comfortable than they ever have been.
 
The U.S. team will be made up of the top 10 in the points race, plus two of Nancys choosing. The top 15 and their points:
 
1.Cristie Kerr, 727.5
2.Meg Mallon, 416.5
3.Juli Inkster, 403
4.Rosie Jones, 374.5
5.Christina Kim, 366.5
6.Natalie Gulbis, 365
7.Pat Hurst, 346.5
8.Paula Creamer, 340.5
9.Laura Diaz, 337.5
10.Michelle Redman, 322.5
11.Dorothy Delasin, 304.5
12.Heather Bowie, 289.5
13.Wendy Ward, 282.5
14.Stacy Prammanasudh, 241.5
15.Beth Daniel, 235.5
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - Solheim Cup