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September 15, 2011

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Countdown to the Solheim Cup

22 and already a star player!

Swedish sensation Caroline Hedwall might still only be 9 months into her Rookie year on the Ladies European Tour but she has taken the golfing world by storm. With three victories under her belt this year, including her most recent in the UNIQA Ladies Open in Austria , the talented golfer from Barseb ä ck in Sweden is more than deserving of her place as one of Alison Nicholas's European Solheim Cup team picks. Golf Today's Ladies Editor Carly Frost spoke exclusively to Caroline ahead of her debut appearance in the Solheim Cup next week.

Caroline, congratulations on your captain's pick, was it a complete surprise to you?

Yes I was very surprised but really excited. It's a real honour to get picked, there were so many good players in contention, and I guess the timing was just right for me coming off the back of my third LET victory and the fact that I played nicely when the Ladies Irish Open was played at Killeen Castle in August.

Did you have a feeling that you might be one of the picks?

Not really, quite a few of the caddies had been saying to me you deserve to be picked because you're playing so well but I wasn't thinking about it. The first idea I had that I might be chosen to play in the Solheim Cup was when I was invited to the practice session for potential team members at Killeen Castle the week of the Irish Open. We played a foursomes match that day, I partnered Sophie Gustafson and we got on really well and won our game.

Do you think you are likely to partner Sophie during Solheim Cup week?

I honestly don't know. She's a great player and would make a fantastic partner but I'm totally flexible and I'm happy to play with anyone. We're having a team meeting on Monday next week where I guess we'll all sit down and chat about pairings and who we'd like to play with. I'm just so excited to take part.

How nervous do you think you'll be during Solheim Cup week?

Well I'll feel nerves, for sure, but that's not a bad thing. I get nervous under pressure in tournament situations and I like that feeling because it means I'm playing well and I'm in contention. I guess it helps me focus on my game, do my best and rise to the challenge.

How much matchplay experience have you had in the past?

Well I played a lot of matchplay golf in my amateur days - the Spanish, French and British Amateur Championships were all matchplay - and I always did well in those events.

What are you looking forward to the most, the foursomes, fourball or singles play?

Honestly? I'm looking forward to them all! But if I had to pick one I'd probably go for the fourball format because I think it is the most exciting and aggressive form of matchplay, when you can really attack the course and go for those birdies and eagles.

What were your impressions of Solheim Cup venue Killeen Castle when you played there in the Irish Ladies Open in August?

I think it is an excellent matchplay course and there will be lots of exciting holes from the spectators' point of view. There are some really good birdie and eagle opportunities to be had out there, holes like the par 5 7 th where if you get a good drive away you'll only be left with a mid-iron into the green, so that's a great eagle opportunity. I think the holes around the turn, 9, 10 and 11, will be really critical as they are tough and it will be important to keep your game together and score well there.

A lot of people have said that Killeen Castle is quite 'Americanised' in its design and layout. You went to college out in the States and have a lot of experience of playing courses out there as well as in Europe, would you agree?

Well I can see what they mean in terms of the conditioning of the course, it is certainly lush and manicured and nothing like some of the links we play, but that said it really doesn't matter what the course is like because it's all about form. Hopefully all of our team will be playing well that week and we'll be able to put the pressure on the Americans. One thing is certain putting will be crucial. The greens at Killeen Castle are big and slopey and you'll want to hit your approach to the right part of the green to take some of the pressure off your putter. I know I'll be working hard on my putting over the next 10 days before the tournament begins.

What advice have your fellow European Team players already given you ahead of the Solheim Cup week?

Well a lot of people have said to me that it's really important to rest and don't over-do it. There's a lot that will go on during the week, with all the media work, the photo shoots and the dinners, but I'll just take that all in my stride. I'm going to have a few days off to rest before the tournament begins so I'll be fresh and ready to go!

Will you have a lot of friends and family coming over from Sweden to support you?

Yes my parents are coming to watch and they are very excited, my coach is also going to travel over for the week and a few friends are coming to support, so it should be fantastic.

The Europeans have a pretty poor record in the Solheim Cup, what do you think it will take to turn the tables on that?

I think we have a fantastic team and there will be nothing to stop us beating the Americans. I'm actually hoping for a bit of bad weather, because I think we'll be more equipped to deal with some rain and wind than the Americans! But apart from that it just comes down to who can go out there, play their best and have fun. Anything can happen.

Caroline Hedwall is sponsored by Henderson Global Investors on the Ladies European Tour. Henderson is also the sponsor of the Ladies European Tour Money List and is supporting two other rookies on the LET in their maiden year on Tour.

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