GB&I Pre-Match Press Conference Transcript June 9, 2010 By USGA

RHONDA GLENN:  Ladies and gentlemen, we are very happy to welcome the captain from the Great Britain and Irish team and also two of the players.  And I will mention for the players that we have given the media the pairings, but they are embargoed until 6:00 tonight at the flag raising.  So after the media interviews the players, if Mary will just remain seated, then the players can leave and the media can ask Mary about the pairings.

We would like to introduce Mary McKenna, who is a famous Great Britain and Irish player.  She was on the GB & I team nine times between 1970 and 1986, which is a record. Also Hannah Barwood, who is 19.  She is from England.  Hannah was the English Amateur Champion.  And Danielle McVeigh, who is on my far left, who is 22, from Northern Ireland, who won the British Stroke Play and the Scottish Stroke Play.

Mary, you are such a Curtis Cup veteran.  I know you're seeing a lot of old friends and past players, but how has the Curtis Cup changed in your estimation from the days when you were playing to now when you are captain?

CAPTAIN McKENNA:  Probably the biggest change is the age group.  I was 21 when I made it and I think I was nearly the youngest on the team; whereas, now my eldest is 22, so I think the biggest change is the youth.  And I think probably the other change is so many of the girls now turn pro earlier, therefore, we don't have ‑‑ we had one player who was here two years ago, and we have seven new caps.  From that element of it I think it has changed.

RHONDA GLENN:  Danielle, how strange is it to you play in the United States?  Is this your first effort here?

DANIELLE McVEIGH:  No.  I attended the Texas A&M for two years, so I'm quite used to playing in the States.  Played a lot of college golf here.  Never quite up so far north, but I'm used to conditions in the States.

RHONDA GLENN:  How do you like this golf course?

DANIELLE McVEIGH:  I like it a lot.  Kind of actually similar to back home.  Like when it gets hard and fast.  Requires a lot of creativity, which is exciting.

RHONDA GLENN:  All right.  Hannah, is this your first venture playing U. S. golf?

HANNAH BARWOOD:  Yes.  First time I've ever been to the States, so I was really looking forward to coming over here, seeing what it was all about, seeing what the golf course was like, and the local area as well so far.

RHONDA GLENN:  And this is your first selection to the team.  How much did it mean to you and how were you told that you were selected?

HANNAH BARWOOD:  It was a great honor, obviously, to be part of the team.  It was something I always wanted to do to represent Great Britain and Ireland.  And I found out on the Internet, Monday, the 26th, in the afternoon.  I was at work at the time.  So they let me have a quick break to check and found out the good news.

RHONDA GLENN:  And where do you work?

HANNAH BARWOOD:  At a golf club, as a bartender and waitress.  Keep the money coming in.

RHONDA GLENN:  Good.  All right.  I understand that as an amateur.  All right.  Let's open it for questions.

Q.  Danielle, was it hard being the oldest player in the locker room?  Any added pressure at all?

DANIELLE McVEIGH:  Not at all, no extra pressure at all.  Maybe the players look up to me, hopefully ask me some advice along the way, but I don't force anything because everybody's made it here on their own merits, so everybody's well capable of playing golf.

Q.  Danielle, have you kind of been a scout for your captain, obviously playing collegiate golf, you know some of the caliber of players that are on the U. S. squad?  Have you been able to give your teammates any advice?

DANIELLE McVEIGH:  Yeah, I wouldn't give them any advice.  There's no questions really about who we're playing or why.  We have our own golf balls.  We put our own ball in the hole.  Not really to do with who we're playing.

Q.  Let me just ask you about the two 15‑year‑old twins on the team.  They're both from Ireland, so you know them pretty well.  Is it hard to imagine at such a young age to be able to be playing in a competition like this?

DANIELLE McVEIGH:  Well, they're very technically efficient.  It's great to see that.  Their practice is very good; a hard‑working ethic.  It's great to have them on the team; they keep pushing me hard, hopefully I keep pushing them.  They're just great kids.

Q.  Have you gotten a sense since you've been here about the history and the connection that this course and the Curtis sisters have?  Has some of that soaked in for you since you've been here?

DANIELLE McVEIGH:  Yeah.  I read up on it before I got here and then we got told more about the Curtis sisters and met a few people who actually knew them, which is nice.  It's great to see the history and stop to appreciate them and makes it more special.

RHONDA GLENN:  Mary, you met the Curtis sisters here.

CAPTAIN McKENNA:  I was very fortunate because in 1970 I actually met Harriot Curtis, so I suppose in a way for me it's been ‑‑ I started my Curtis Cup career in Boston, and I will be finishing it in Boston, so it's kind of ironic that it's come full circle.  So for me it's been very, very special to be invited to be captain knowing that it was here in Boston and actually having met Harriot and being able to tour her house, so from that end of it the history is there.

And I suppose for me the opportunity of meeting so many of the past players and the players that I've met kind of over the years as well as being part of the team, having the opportunity to kind of rekindle those friendships, you know, which I suppose for someone like me, it's really what Curtis Cup is all about as well as golf and the friendships you have, and you have it forever.  And I think the girls really appreciate that, no matter where you go in the world.  They're always going to be a member of this very, very special group, and they'll always be invited to come when you have the likes of Dottie Mochrie here or Dottie Pepper here, who's now pro.  There's so many of the girls who played, and they just come back off and on which is fabulous.

RHONDA GLENN:  When you did meet Harriot Curtis, what was your impression of her at that time?

CAPTAIN McKENNA:  She was very elderly.  (Laughs).  It was just very special to be at their house, and she was ‑‑ I mean I think she was nearly 90 at that stage, but I mean she still was kind of, you know, very, very special to the game, and what it was all about.

So I suppose I have more than kind of ‑‑ I was trying to actually find a photograph, and I found a great photo of our team with her.  So it's kind of special.

Q.  When was that?

CAPTAIN McKENNA:  1970 at Brae Burn.

RHONDA GLENN:  And Hannah, tell us about your impressions of the history of this club and the people who were here.

HANNAH BARWOOD:  It's great obviously.  The history of the course and the people who have been here and meeting all kinds of players has been definitely a great experience and seeing what goes into the Curtis Cup and it's been a great experience for me to see who comes back and still support the Curtis Cup it's great.

Q.  Thank you.  How would you size up the American team and who would you say would be the favorite to win this event?

HANNAH BARWOOD:  Obviously never being over here before I don't know the American players too well myself.  I haven't seen much of the British or European events.  We're just going to stick to our own game plan and see where it puts us at the end of the weekend.  History says they've obviously done quite well, but we've got a strong team here this week and we're all winners here and I think we can do well.

CAPTAIN McKENNA:  I think my team is superb and I think the fact it's a match play event makes it wide open.  I think anything can happen.  I think the key thing probably more than anywhere would be in and around the greens here, and because of the speed and that, I mean I know for the practice rounds the holes have been in very, very difficult places, but hopefully they'll be in slightly fairer places for the actual matches.

So I think it's whoever holes the putts.  We know our girls are champions in their own right.  They have won and they have competed well.  So there's no reason why they can't continue that here.

DANIELLE McVEIGH:  I know the U. S. has done very well in this event.  I just have to believe in my own game and myself.  So it's time to get down to business and see who comes out on top at the end of the week.

Q.  Follow up on that.  They have won six in a row, there is a tremendous opportunity for your team to break the pattern.

HANNAH BARWOOD:  Yeah.  We have the opportunity to make it.  We'll just go for it, see what happens.

RHONDA GLENN:  Mary, you were part of a very famous photograph, I believe it was 1986.  I think it was you and Belle Robertson, wasn't it?  Celebrating on the green where they broke the American streak and won the Curtis Cup.  You've been here before.  Do you think that was part of why you were selected maybe that you could break the track of the American team?

CAPTAIN McKENNA:  I think you would have to ask the Ladies Golf Union about that, but I would hope that maybe in some ways that it would help, but I think the fact that I was on the winning team and the fact that we actually won in the States that we know that it is possible that it can be done.  I mean that was just an amazing week because it ended up we only needed one singles match out of the six in the afternoon of the second day, which was quite extraordinary, but again, the heat, it was very hot and windy and the odds were against us there, and yet we came out of the traps and did the work.

RHONDA GLENN:  What did you learn from that experience that you might be able to bring to this team?

CAPTAIN McKENNA:  Just the belief that you actually can do it and that the Americans are beatable, and I think that's the most important thing that if they each believe in their own game, and if they each produce the game they are capable of producing and don't think that they have to play like God, that if we play the game that we are capable of doing, I think we have a good chance.

Q.  I just noticed your green bracelet. Is it new?.

CAPTAIN McKENNA:  I got it from a pro shop.  Had the Shamrocks and everything.

Q.  Are you superstitious?

CAPTAIN McKENNA:  Absolutely not.  No, I'm not.  No, not at all.

Q.  Hannah, you mentioned how proud you were, how excited you were to make this team.  And Mary had mentioned, though, how the dynamic has changed a lot of players turn pro?  Are you surprised that more players aren't staying amateur to try to have this experience?

HANNAH BARWOOD:  A little because from what I've experienced so far, I've really enjoyed every minute of it.  I'm really looking forward to getting into the matches.

Maybe because the way things are nowadays, people are in such a rush to get out there and see what the pro tour is all about and make some money and get some pro events under their belt.  It's definitely a shame because there's so much history to this event, it would be nice for players to play year after year like Mary has done.  It's what the Curtis Cup is all about.

RHONDA GLENN:  Would you be tempted to remain amateur for a long time and wait to see?

HANNAH BARWOOD:  I would have to see how the rest of this year goes.  I'm not going to jump into it for sure.  I'm just going to weigh out each year and see how it goes and make sure I'm ready to turn pro at the right time.

Q.  Mary, when you were on the 1978 team, did you play against Noreen that year?

CAPTAIN McKENNA:  Yes.  Yes, I was.

Q.  Do you have any memories of playing against Noreen?

CAPTAIN McKENNA:  I can't remember, actually, who I played, to be honest.

Q.  Have you had any conversations with her this week?

CAPTAIN McKENNA:  Oh, yes.  We have.  We had a team dinner on Monday night and then at the clam bake, I had chats with her and some of our old past players.  So yes, we have.  We had quite good chats, yes.

Q.  How much does it add to have so much history with the other captain?

CAPTAIN McKENNA:  Well, I think probably from my point of view actually knowing the other captain makes a difference because it makes it quite easy because you're just picking up, and probably we both know different people and the same people, whereas, if you don't know the captain, you’ve kind of probably got to do a bit of work to find out more about them, but actually knowing is lovely.  Yeah, it's very, very well for me.

RHONDA GLENN:  Questions?  All right, well, we thank you all for your most gracious answers.

Q.  How do you set the skills of each one and know which players belong together?

CAPTAIN McKENNA:  I think the body language is the most important that they actually get along in pairs and that they're comfortable with each other and they're comfortable with each other's game.  They're all very good players.  They wouldn't be here if they weren't kind of efficient at every part of the game.

But I just think that the most important that they're actually happy with the people that they're out there playing with.

Q.  Can you help us tell the Macguire twins apart in terms of their games? 

CAPTAIN McKENNA:  Lisa has a pink shaft on her driver.  They have their names on their hats and their shoes.

Q.  Is that what you rely on?

CAPTAIN McKENNA:  You know, there's not a huge difference in their games.  They both have achieved as individuals the top rate practically in Ireland, and right over it, so they both have very solid games.

Q.  Are you thinking about pairing them together?

CAPTAIN McKENNA:  I thought about it, yes.

Q.  And?

CAPTAIN McKENNA:  And I didn't put them together.

Q.  Will you?

CAPTAIN McKENNA:  I don't know.  I'll just kind of play it by ear.  I mean they're twins, but they've got themselves here as two individuals.  I mean the two girls have won club championships.  Leona has won the under 21.  They have achieved as individuals.  Quite honestly, to me they're just two individuals, they're two parts of the team.

Q.  You were saying Danielle is supposed to be your No. 1 player.


Q.  What was your thought to put her in the #3 group?

CAPTAIN McKENNA:  Well, I just thought I would like to give Sally and Rachel a shot at the top space.  I said to her, I said, you know, playing her doesn't mean you're bottom at the ranks, and she's quite happy where she is.  You know, she's been the leader within the team, and I mean she doesn't necessarily have to tee it up first.

You know, but she still is the leader within the team because she is the British champion, and she's a super leader in her own quiet little ways when she has everybody kind of running around, and she looks after everybody.

Q.  I'm curious how quickly or how early you were able to identify pairings.  Is this the kind of thing you were able to figure out early or was it even up to yesterday you were trying to decide?

CAPTAIN McKENNA:  It was still up in the air, yes, they were.  I mean I suppose I'm lucky in a way because it's a lot of combinations I could use, and my best thing is I think there's a comfort factor with each of these groups, and we'll see how it goes.  I mean I would be quite confident with them.

Q.  Noreen was saying earlier (indiscernible).  Do you feel any of that?

CAPTAIN McKENNA:  I had chats with both girls before I came away, and other than that, no.  I have a manager who has been my sounding board, and she gets (indiscernible) every so often and makes me think different ways.

Q.  Mary, having to sit two players in the first four sessions, are you determined to get everybody ‑‑

CAPTAIN McKENNA:  I would hope I would, yeah.  I hope everybody would play the first day.  That keeps the spirit going.  I mean the biggest difficulty is not who I'm going to play.  It's who I can't play.  Quite honestly, I'd love to be able to play four foursomes.

Q.  Can any players on your team come up and ask or maybe specify somebody they really want to play against?

CAPTAIN McKENNA:  No.  Who they would like to play against?

Q.  Yeah, somebody they're really looking forward to playing golf against this weekend?

CAPTAIN McKENNA:  No, not at all, no.  I think that's quite difficult to do because you don't know what way she's going to pair hers or what order she's going to play them in.  No, not at all.

Q.  So you don't know one player that might want to play against another one?

CAPTAIN McKENNA:  No.  I don't think so.  No.  Nobody has said.

RHONDA GLENN:  Mary, do you think these players know each other at all?

CAPTAIN McKENNA:  Do our players know the U. S.?  The U. S. had four players on the Solheim Cup, the Junior Solheim Cup, and we had three, with Sally and the twins.  And there were four of the U. S. team.  So they know Sally is over here, so she probably knows all of the team.  And some of our girls were at the Spirit, so they would have met some of the U. S. team there.

I think probably Hannah probably doesn't know anybody.  So they would know some of them, and I think maybe Danielle, you know, having been out here, might know them, but yeah, they probably know a lot more about them than I do.  I mean Kimberly is the only one I would have met before.

Q.  Does it surprise you to see how much the event's sort of grown in terms of being an event in the years that you've been involved?  Does it feel different today than it did?

CAPTAIN McKENNA:  I think from support, yes, it has grown huge, and it's fabulous, and probably ‑‑ because at home we would have already had more spectators because we're a smaller area and it would be kind of, well, obviously easier to get to it in certain places in England and Ireland it would be strong golfing communities so you would get great coverage.

In my early days over here there wouldn't have been that much spectators, but now it has grown and even from the GB & I traveling there's great support from home, and it makes it for the girls, you know.

RHONDA GLENN:  Questions?  All right, Mary.  Thank you so much for meeting with us today.

CAPTAIN McKENNA:  Not at all.  A pleasure.