by Elspeth Burnside
The day after
Europe's magnificent Solheim Cup victory over the US at Loch
Lomond last October a striking blonde with a beaming smile
shone out from the back pages. One of the most perfect of
moments for the European women's game had been sealed by an
eight foot, birdie putt, on the 17th - and it was the
photogenic Carin Koch who holed it to clinch the winning
point in the penultimate match of the final day singles.
For Koch, it was a dream come true. That dramatic moment has
also proved to be a platform from which she is now building
an even more successful career as one of the world's leading
At her home in Scottsdale, Arizona, Carin talked to
Bunkered's Espeth Burnside about the changes the Solheim
has made to her career, and she also gives an insight into
life as a wife and young mother on the professional circuit.
First of all, we must
look back at Loch Lomond. How good was it?
It was extra special; everything I've dreamed about and more.
The atmosphere in the European camp was great all week and Dale
Reid was a wonderful captain. To pull off the victory was
magnificent and for me to hole the winning putt... Well, you
just couldn't ask for anything better.
It must have been extra
pleasing, considering your unlucky Solheim history. You were
controversially overlooked by Mickey Walker for a captain's
wild-card pick in 1996-Dale Reid got the nod instead-and then
the fact that you were seven months pregnant again counted
against you in 1998. Did you wonder if you were ever going to
I certainly had waited a long time to make the team, and it was
a relief to be named as one of Dale's wild cards this time. But
I think that made it extra special. I was so disappointed when I
missed out in 1996 and 1998, but I always knew that I deserved
to be there and that I could justify my place.
You certainly did that,
considering you won all three matches that you played in - a 100
per cent record isn't bad for a debut. But just how
nerve-wracking is it playing?
It's unbelievable. The pressure is enormous. But I had a great
partner in Catrin Nilsmark in the foursomes and fourball, and
then the singles was just an amazing afternoon.
With the outcome hanging
in the balance, and everyone depending on you, can you describe
the final moments of your singles match?
Strangely, I felt very calm. I stood on the 17th tee (a short
hole) one up and I knew I needed to produce one good, solid
swing. I did that, it landed about eight feet from the hole and,
as they say, the rest is history. But, when I holed the putt, it
was just the best feeling. Everybody was jumping about and I
felt so happy.
wasn't it a funny old final afternoon? With a five-point lead
everyone really thought that the Cup was in the bag. But the
leaderboard soon turned nasty.
Yes. We got off to a terrible start and the scoreboard was
covered in red. But then we had around a 40-minute break because
of rain and I think that really worked in our favor. We all got
together and Dale gave us a really good talking to. Catrin [Nilsmark]
then insisted that she was going to win her match and we all
became convinced that we were going to win. I definitely think
it was a turning point.
But work had still to be
The break had made us all start thinking positively again. Then
I saw that Catrin and Janice [Moodie] were doing really well and
the scoreboard was turning blue. I also sensed that Michele was
getting very nervous. I was nervous too, but they were good
nerves and I just tried to stay focused on every shot.
Now, months later, how
do look back on Loch Lomond?
It's all so positive. To be able to play so well under the most
pressure I have ever experienced has given me a lot of
confidence. I proved myself. Now I know that I can't face
anything more testing than the shots that I hit on that final
This season you started
on the LPGA tour with a tie for second in the Your Life Vitamins
Classic in Florida and you also featured highly in the first
major, the Nabisco Championship, before finishing 15th. At
number 22 on the money list, you are heading for your best
It's been a steady start. As I said, after the Solheim, I no
longer feel that I have anything to prove and that has made me
much more confident. Actually, I was amazed that I did start the
season so well. I pulled a rib muscle in the middle of November.
It was really stupid; I just coughed too hard - and I didn't
really start hitting shots again until the New Year. I was
worried, but Stefan [her husband] reminded me that I took about
the same time off when I had Oliver [her son] and, actually, I
think the rest did me good and it meant we could go home and
have a really restful Christmas in Sweden.
"What I really want is to become more consistent and have a
lot of top ten and top twenty finishes."
But how much do you want
that first LPGA win?
You know, I just guess that my time will come. I'm not applying
any pressure, saying that I have to win this year or next or
whatever. What I really want is to become more consistent, get
into contention on a regular basis and have a lot of top ten and
You scored your first
win in Europe last year and it happened in front of your home
fans at the Chrysler Open at Halmstad. How important was that
That was great, particularly as it happened in Sweden. I think
everyone had always been asking when it would happen for me in
Europe, and it was nice to do it.
With your career moving
to a higher level, and with a husband and son to keep you happy
off the course, life must be pretty good at the moment. But how
do you cope with life on the road and looking after two-year-old
I'm very lucky because my husband, Stefan, helps out so much. He
organizes Oliver when I'm playing and they can come out to watch
because there are great day-care facilities at all the
tournaments on the LPGA.
How did you and Stefan
He was the head professional at my club just outside Gothenbourg.
We met when I was 18 and he was 23.
He used to caddie for
Yes, but I always say that we split up on the course because we
wanted to stay married. He played tournament golf as well. and
tried it in Europe and Australia.
You were once known as
someone who had a fierce temper on the course. So poor Stefan
couldn't have had it easy when he was your man on the bag?
I did used to get pretty fiery, but I've calmed down a lot since
I had Oliver. Now I leave the golf course and forget all about
the round. I used to brood over the bad shots - but now I spend
all the time that I'm not playing changing nappies and playing
with Oliver. Becoming a mum has definitely been good for me, and
Stefan is still involved with helping your game?
My coach is an American, Chuck Cook, but Stefan also knows my
swing so well that he can help out at tournaments. He follows me
round. It's also great for Oliver that we are both around every
You're one of the women
players that carry a lot of woods. At the Nabisco you even had
an 11 wood in your bag. Can you give women amateurs any advice
on ditching the longer irons for the more lofted woods?
At the Nabisco the rough is really tough and it is difficult to
hit irons. My 11 wood is equivalent to a four iron, but it
produces a higher and softer shot and is ideal for playing out
of the rough. I would definitely recommend that women players
opt for the woods.
You went to the
University of Tulsa [the US accent confirms that 30-year-old
Carin has spent much of her life in the States] and you now live
in Arizona. Is America always going to be home?
We're leaving our options open. I really would like Oliver to go
to school in Sweden; it feels much more natural. But Swedish
kids don't start school until they are seven or eight so that is
still quite a long way off. Of course, he is quite settled in
America. He speaks Swedish and English, but Swedish comes first.
And do you enjoy the
I do. The flights and travel can be quite hard, but I love
playing golf and it has given us a good life-style.
But what do you miss
most about home?
Family and friends and silly things like Swedish food. I miss
watching my friends' children grow up. But everything in the US
is very convenient and we've adjusted well and made a lot of
good friends. There are also quite a few Swedish players that
live in the Scottsdale area, such as Charlotta Sorenstam and
Maria Hjorth. And our parents come over on regular visits.
Chrysler Open is not taking place this year so you won't have a
title to defend. How do you think the Evian tour is faring?
It's been through some difficult times, but the signs are
promising. I am disappointed, however, that I won't be able to
go back to Sweden to defend my title.
"I spend all the time that I'm not playing changing nappies
and playing with Oliver."
You grew up playing
alongside Annika Sorenstam in Swedish teams. She is having a
sensational season [including four wins and a round of 59 in the
Standard Register PING]. What do you think of her career?
Annika and I are great friends and what she has done for women's
golf is unbelievable. She was always very competitive as she
grew up and it's been wonderful to watch her success.
It must be nice to have
so many Swedes on the LPGA tour?
It is, especially since so many of us are enjoying success.
Indeed. And let's hope it
won't be too long before Carin Koch is the next Swede to add her
name to the LPGA winners' list. As for last year's Solheim Cup,
I'm sure everyone involved in the women's game in Europe would
just like to say "Thanks for the memories".