Interview: We speak to Helen Alfredsson
Being Solheim captain “It was much easier being a player as you only had to worry about yourself. We golfers are pretty good about worrying about just ourselves!
I live in a world of organised chaos Some people said I was maybe a bit disorganised in 2007 but I live in a world of organised chaos. I tried to be more organised and make everybody feel comfortable but maybe I tried to be in too many places. Maybe I could have been a bit calmer but that’s only what they told me after. I thought if I had good energy and was positive then that would be good.
It is hard when you don’t have your top players winning. It is easy to criticise the captain, in Wales we only needed four points in the singles and we lost. As a player you still need to win.
For one week you can’t affect the players that much, it is more about the team spirit and that is easier if you are feeling good about your game.
It is amazing to watch your team fighting and it was really awesome to see your players push through in tough conditions and the weather in Sweden was so awful.
I got a lot of crap for pairing Laura and Trish but I knew they would do well together and Laura would perform at her best when she is comfortable.”
1. The biggest upset
“I partnered Lotta Neumann at the 1992 Solheim Cup and she is so calm and isn’t affected by anything. We beat Dottie Pepper and Pat Bradley and Pat said to Beth Daniel that we were trying to irritate them all day by speaking Swedish!
Beth said that only Laura and Lotta would get in their team. Trish Johnson was given clothes that were too big for her. We told our commissioner and he said we had to just ‘make do’.
Dale Reid didn’t like the green, Laura didn’t like the checkered pants but, for some reason, we just bonded and everyone played beyond themselves.”
2 My Major moment
“The Kraft victory in 1993 was my first win on the LPGA. When I was coming down 15 and 16, the commentators were saying this is where I was going to falter but my head was pretty strong. I had never thought about winning a Major and, looking back, maybe it was almost a curse to win one as your first. I just enjoyed it so much, I never got to experience it again but at least I did it.
My fondest win was actually the British, it wasn’t actually a Major then but it was still a pretty big tournament in Europe. Growing up that was the tournament where you would practise those four footers as a kid.”
3 Dealing with injuries
“I had three major injuries throughout my career. My hamstring was detached for 11 years after a bike accident, I could run 10km a few times a week, then I couldn’t run at all.
I started to reverse pivot in my swing and they took 11 years to find it. By then I was so uneven in my swing and the hips are so important in golf.
Then I had a herniated disc when I lost the feeling in my right arm. My big problem was that I felt that it was my fault and that I could do better and I blamed myself a lot.
Then I had my shoulder detachment. It is always so tough with injuries, players who don’t have injuries have such a better chance to develop their games. When you have them the mental recovery also takes so long as you have hit so many bad shots.
I am now fitter than I have ever been, the old hag is back in shape!”
4 My Evian hat-trick
“I think it was the emotion of the place. We went there in 1994 and the course is nothing like it is now but the soul of the place was special, it sounds corny but they made the tournament from the heart.
They always made it a little bit better every year and always tried to make it fun for family members. There were bars with champagne and beers so everyone would sit around after the round and talk and chat and bond.
The course was short in the early days but the views were always the same and the food was always great. There was a big party where all the players would go crazy and then there was the pro am on the Sunday and everyone was so hungover.
They deserve their Major. I was on the board at the time and I know the requirements the LPGA put out and the committee did it. They are always prepared to go that extra step for ladies’ golf and they have put a lot of money into it.”
5 My game
“I was pretty strong mentally, I never really had a lot of fear. I was never the perfect swinger of the club, I was always a little bit shut but I could get the ball in the hole when I was in contention. But I was a pretty good ball striker and hit a lot of greens.
I was long and that was my big strength. I always enjoyed working out and hitting the ball hard. I gave myself a lot of chances to reach the par 5s and have shorter clubs into the par 4s. I was around 78-80 per cent of the greens hit every year. My putting was always in and out a lot.”
6 My favourite partner
“It was great partnering Suzann Pettersen but I loved playing with Alison Nicholas. She is my partner in crime and is a great team member.
If she didn’t play well she would always be there for the team and I always super enjoyed being her partner. I am more emotional and she isn’t and she always accepted that.”
7 My other half
“My husband always continued to work so he was never that involved but it was always fun when he came out. I was always more involved in his game as you can see here!
Sometimes I would get annoyed if he made silly mistakes but I learnt to be nicer to my caddies.
It helped a bit that he was a sportsman (ice hockey) but I’m not sure how much he understood the mental side of golf. You go with injuries in golf and then you have to face yourself every single day. If he didn’t play so well he had the whole team supporting him or he could sit on the bench, in golf you have to face your demons and the only person who can do anything about it is you.”
8 Back in solheim team
“I was still a player when I was captain in 2007 and I think it is better to have retired players as captain as you are removed from it all. It was so fun to play again in 2009 and to be able to affect something. Being so emotional I would become all 12 players as a captain and you get too emotional, as a player you could focus on your game.
We had a very good team spirit five years ago, Laura and Ali had a bit of a fall-out and it is difficult as Laura is such a dominant figure and you want her to do well for the team.
That was the away match that we really thought we were going to win for the first time, we had a really strong team.”
9 My temper
“I have always been criticised for having a temper but a lot of the time I have played better afterwards.
It helped me lose my fear, I would get so mad that I didn’t really give a sh*t.
A lot of times you get held back by fears and you have to conquer and deal with your fears. Sometimes I would go a little overboard but it really helped me a lot of the time.
It made me so incredibly focused, the adrenaline kicks in and it sharpens the mind so it’s not always a bad thing.”