ANNIKA: Certainly. Of course I'm looking forward to playing this year in the Ginn Open. Like you said, it's a special place for me in many ways, and it's a little bit weird that that's the place I had to pull out with my first injury in my career and then I had the grand opening of my academy the Monday afterwards. I'm definitely looking forward to going back there with a little revenge, if I can put it that way.
What I'm going to do this week is really just recharge my batteries. I flew the redeye from California, got to Orlando this morning, and just been kind of running errands and catching up on the things I've missed the last two weeks. I'm going to do that for another day, and then back to practice and start grinding and preparing for next week.
It's kind of nice to be back home and practice, and I have a lot to work on to catch Lorena but I'm looking forward to it. I know the course real well, and it's going to be fun.
Q: I figured I'd start the ball rolling here since I just joined the call. Tell us what happened and how it happened last Saturday when you did take ill, and you did end up in the hospital?
ANNIKA: Well, it all started on Friday. You know, I had an afternoon tee time, grabbed something quickly to eat, and then made the turn and started to feel my stomach was just not feeling right and starting to lose a little energy. I made it through the round and just went back to the room and just got worse and really had a terrible night. I'm not really sure what it was, but I drank a lot of fluid and tried to keep my food down and tried to get ready for a big Saturday. I mean, I always look forward to the majors, and in this particular case I was Top 10 and really just wanted to try to play some good golf.
I had a very short warm up. I tried to save as much energy as possible, just hit a few balls, just hit a few putts, and went on the course and was really struggling. Energy wise it was really low and stomach was hurting and didn't feel good at all, but I just kept fighting. I was determined to finish, even though it felt at times, especially on 11 and 12 I told Terry, I know if I can make it I just didn't have any strength and it was tough to concentrate. But obviously I'm glad I finished.
I went to the hospital after the round to kind of get a regular checkup to make sure there wasn't anything special or anything to be worried about. I mean, they gave me they put an IV in me to give me the fluids in case I was dehydrated and they were talking about maybe possible stomach virus and gave me antibiotics so I would be prepared.
I felt a little better on Sunday, not great, but at least so I could play.
Q: Do you feel you're back to where you want to be, or close to that?
ANNIKA: I'm almost there. I mean, I hope this is just something temporary, a little stomach virus or something I ate. I'm hoping that this week I can charge my batteries and be fresh. It's tough to tell after you fly the redeye if you feel good or if you're tired. I'm hoping that tomorrow I'll be back and start practicing and working out again.
Q: Talk about your competition here, mostly Lorena, and how she's progressed and has been playing lights out.
ANNIKA: Yes, she certainly has. She's come off to a great start this season actually really continuing from last season I should say, playing some great golf, just it's impressive to see, so focused and so determined and so steady, shooting very low scores at tough courses. You know, she's making it tougher for somebody like me to catch her.
Q: What about any young players on the Tour that have impressed you so far in what you've seen this year?
ANNIKA: I mean, Paula is young but she's been around a little bit, but she's played very well. I mean, I think it's a great year again for the LPGA. It's very competitive. For me, I mean, I just want to keep on playing. I'm very happy with my results so far. It's been very consistent in the tournaments I've played. Now I just want to I mean, I'm staying away from injury, now I want to stay away from being sick, and I should be fine.
Q: My last question and I'm going to let everybody else chime in here, but this being the Masters week, your thoughts on the Masters?
ANNIKA: Well, I'll definitely be tuning in. I think it's one of those tournaments you don't want to miss. I just love watching it on TV. There's so much history. I mean, I've had the chance to play Augusta a few times so I know the golf course. I'll definitely be in front of the TV, and I'm sure Tiger is going to play as well as he can, so whoever can catch him will do a great job.
Q: Did you text message him yet?
ANNIKA: I have. I think he's ready. He's preparing. He's so focused.
Q: I wanted to know just how much better you're feeling this season after the back ailment last year, and maybe stomach flu aside, just what the difference is being able to come in and start the season healthy this year.
ANNIKA: Well, it's just a huge difference. Now I'm swinging the golf club again. I'm posting low scores, I'm playing consistent golf. I mean, this is fun. The last year and a half it was just me trying to swing, compromising from weaknesses, compromising from pain and all that. It just wasn't the same.
Now when I feel good again, it's just it gives you some energy. It gives you adrenaline, and you just want to practice and get better. So it's totally night and day, and the motivation is back.
Q: It's early in the season, but how much of your schedule is set? I'm down here in the central Illinois area and in Springfield, and I'm wondering if you still have plans to come back for the State Farm in July. How much of your schedule is set at this point?
ANNIKA: Well, I normally set my schedule when it comes out October, November, and I put down the basic tournaments, the majors and tournaments I'm defending, which this year wasn't really that much, so it was kind of open to start the season with.
But as of now, I have not really planned anything past the U.S. Open. I'm playing a lot of tournaments until then, more than I normally do, so I want to try and see how I feel at that time and then pace myself through the rest of the season. I can't really answer your question yet what I'm going to do later in the summer.
Q: Can you talk maybe a little bit about when you come here to this area, people are very receptive and they're excited to see you play. Is that something that weighs into you coming back to a tournament, especially one that you've won in the past and as recent as 2006?
ANNIKA: Oh, absolutely. I've always felt welcome there and actually stay with a family that's from there. So I have a nice tie, and it's been good to me.
When it comes to choosing tournaments and playing, I mean, there's different factors that weigh in. Of course one of them is how you feel, and going there with the fans, et cetera, but an important issue is time wise, where do you play before, where are you going to play next and how many in a row. I mean, that's really how I determine my schedule.
Q: You do have a major coming up here in Minneapolis in just a couple of months, the U.S. Women's Open coming to Interlachen. I think you played Interlachen with the Solheim Cup in 2002?
ANNIKA: That's right.
Q: What do you remember about the course and what are you looking forward to with that tournament?
ANNIKA: I love the course. Obviously Solheim Cup is a special event, and match play is different than the U.S. Open. I love old, traditional golf courses. It's a true course. I remember it being quite long, and obviously with the weather, too, a little bit, but smaller greens, and you really have to work the ball, right to left, left to right, and that's what an Open should be.
I'm sure that the rough will be a little bit more than what we saw at the Solheim Cup. I mean, the Open has always been my favorite tournament of the year, so I'm excited for this venue, as well.
Q: I don't know if you had a chance to see that Golf Journal section in the Wall Street Journal, but it did talk about players coming out of Sweden. Do you have any thoughts on any up and coming players that are coming out of Sweden?
ANNIKA: The young lady that just won in Mexico, Louise Friberg, it was so nice to see. I'm not really sure of the number, but it was over ten players from a little country, and to see her step up to the plate and win a tournament was really nice. You know, the growth has not been very strong the last few years, but it looks like we have a new fresh kind of generation, so obviously I'm excited to see that.
It's tough to keep up with all the Koreans, but we try and do our best.
Q: Talk a little bit about where the Academy is now, and you're also planning to take the Academy to a little place in California, too?
ANNIKA: Yeah, you're right. First of all, the Academy is going great. It's a dream come true for me for many years now. We've almost been open it's going to be a year at the Ginn Open. I can't believe it's gone so fast.
But we've had several guests this particular week. We have seven guests, ladies who are loving it. It's a fun way for me to get back to the game and share my passion for golf and fitness.
You know, we sat down, and at the end of April, it gets quite hot here in Orlando, and we thought we'd try something new and take our team on the road, and we're going to go to Lake Tahoe to have some packages for some members up there. It's actually a club that I belong to up there. The golf course is Old Greenwood, and Tahoe Mountain Club is the area. We're excited about that opportunity. Tahoe in June is just spectacular, so it'll be exciting.
We're actually thinking about doing that more in the summer. We have gotten a few requests from different clubs around the country. It's that time of year when it's too hot here and just perfect in other places, so it's kind of fun to expand a little bit without really bringing the whole academy, but we're bringing the staff.
Q: If you can answer one more question about the Ginn Open, in 2006 you finished fourth. If you can just talk a little bit about what you remember from the Ginn Open that year.
ANNIKA: Yeah, I have a lot of great memories. First of all, it's always nice to play in your home city, and I thought the crowds were spectacular. The commitment that Bobby Ginn is putting into women's golf, actually I should say golf in general, has been fantastic. I remember showing up, the first year of the event, it had almost like a major feel. He treated us very, very well, and the 18th with all the bleachers, and it was just so professional the first year, first class in so many ways. It was a great tournament, and I think all the players loved it. And of course with a purse that's over $2 million, I think it's $2.6, I think that's really saying something about his support.
I'm looking forward to this year. I know the field is going to be probably one of the best we have all year, so it's a good tournament for sure.