Manulife Financial LPGA Classic Final-Round Notes and Interviews

Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Brittany Lang poses with trophy after winning the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic at Grey Silo Golf Course on June 24, 2012 in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

Manulife Financial LPGA Classic
Grey Silo Golf Course
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Third-Round Notes and Interview
June 23, 2012

Brittany Lang -16, Rolex Rankings No. 35
Inbee Park -16, Rolex Rankings No. 26
Hee Kyung Seo -16, Rolex Rankings No. 37
Chella Choi -16, Rolex Rankings No. 61
Stacy Lewis -15, Rolex Rankings No. 2

Brittany Lang recorded her first-career victory on the LPGA Tour on Sunday at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic in Waterloo, Ontario. The 26-year-old Texan defeated Chella Choi, Inbee Park and Hee Kyung Seo in a three-hole, sudden death playoff to become a Rolex First-Time Winner and earn the $195,000 first-place check. Lang shot 4-under-par 67 during the final round to finish the week at 16-under-par 268. She had an opportunity to win the inaugural event in regulation, but missed a short birdie putt that forced the four-way playoff.

"I can't believe it took me seven years to win a tournament out here," Lang said. "I hadn't been that good under pressure and I'm getting better, and I'm so thankful that it happened this week and I'll only get stronger from here."

Lang, who had never before been in a Tour playoff, made birdie on each of the three playoff holes and outlasted the Korean trio thanks in part to a steady putter. She hit her approach shot in the front greenside bunker on the third hole and blasted out to six feet to setup the winning putt. The two-time U.S. Solheim Cup Team member did not make a bogey in either in the third or final round and carded just two bogies on the week.

Luke, I Am Your Sister! Brittany Lang credited her brother and caddy, Luke, with keeping her calm and focused throughout the playoff.

"He said to me, 'just because you're nervous doesn't mean you're going to miss the putt.'"

Brittany and Luke worked together last week in Texas, where he suggested she take more time before each shot behind the ball visualizing what she wanted to do. Lang has often noted that she has the physical tools to win, but needed to work on mentally staying focused on each shot.

Playoff Woes… Hee Kyung Seo won the 2010 Kia Classic Presented by J Golf as a non-member of the LPGA Tour but playoffs have stood the way of this talented Korean becoming a Rolex First-Time Winner.

Seo's first defeat in a playoff came at the 2011 U.S. Women's Open where she lost to So Yeon Ryu, then in 2012, she was defeated in a six-way playoff. During Sunday's final-round of the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic, Seo narrowly missed an eagle putt on the second playoff hole and eventually lost on the third playoff hole to champion, Brittany Lang.

"Yeah, it reminds of Australia," said Seo of today's playoff. "It was fun, I think it was a great time and I tried my best."

Good Feeling…In search of her first victory since the 2008 U.S. Women's Open, Inbee Park came up just shy and was ousted in the third playoff hole. Park recorded four birdies and two bogeys on Sunday then failed to get up-and-down on the third playoff hole to notch her second LPGA Tour victory.

"Today wasn't the best day for playing today," said Park. "I left a lot of putts out there, I think. Today was just not my day and maybe the next time."

This week's Manulife Financial LPGA Classic kicked off a three stretch for the LPGA Tour which concludes with this year's U.S. Women's Open. Despite not winning this week, Park admitted this week helped boost her confidence heading into the year's third major.

I mean, I played well this week in all four rounds and that gives me a lot of confidence going into the U.S. Women's Open, so I think it's going to be good," said Park of her chances at this upcoming U.S. Women's Open.

Surprise, Surprise… Chella Choi finished Sunday's regulation play at 16-under-par and much to her surprise, she was tied for the lead. After signing her scorecard, Choi immediately talked to the media where she discovered she had a chance to become an LPGA Rolex First-Time Winner.

"Oh, really," said Choi after being made aware she was tied for the lead. "Maybe I think No. 18 very easy par 5, but a couple putt and rest, and I'm very hungry, so eating."

Choi credited her putting on Sunday for getting her in the playoff, where she was eliminated on the first playoff hole. A graduate of the Symetra Tour, Choi's best finish this year was tied for 10th at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup and Kia Classic.

On Fire! Despite opening with a 1-over-par 72 to start the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic, Lewis showed her resilience and rebounded with rounds of 64-69-64 to finish tied for fifth. Lewis carded six birdies, one bogey, and an eagle on 18 where she chipped it in just off the green.

"Yeah, if I could go back and redo Round 1, I think I would be in a little better spot," said Lewis. "I'm just proud of the way I came back and finished it out really strong."

Since missing the cut at the LPGA LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf, Lewis has gone on to record five consecutive top-5 finishes including two wins at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic and ShopRite LPGA Classic. Lewis also is currently leading the Rolex Player of the Year and is the top American on the Rolex Rankings. After her impressive finish this week, Lewis is looking forward to returning to her old stomping grounds of Arkansas for the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G.

"It's going to be a busy week, but I love getting back home and playing in front of my -- my family and friends will all be there," said Lewis. "It's such a fun week for me. I was talking to Travis, every year we go back, it gets better and better and it's crazier and crazier, so it's no telling what it's going to be like."

Golden ticket winners: Brittany Lang, Chella Choi and Inbee Park punched their "Ticket to CME Group Titleholders" at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic, each earning a spot in the season-ending CME Group Titleholders event, which will be held Nov. 15-18, 2012 at The TwinEagles in Naples, Fla. The second annual CME Group Titleholders is a season finale with a field made up of three qualifiers from every LPGA Tour tournament.

Lang is going to Canyon Ranch. With her victory at the Manulife Financial LPGA, Brittany Lang earned an all-inclusive stay for two at a Canyon Ranch resort. In a combined effort to promote health and overall well-being among Tour players, Canyon Ranch will provide every winner of an LPGA event with one all-inclusive stay at one of Canyon Ranch's two destination resorts.

Tweet of the Day: Had an amazing time in Canada playing in the @ManulifeClassic , the event was so great and @GreySilo was in terrific shape! Loved the week:) – @Lexi (Lexi Thompson)

Brittany Lang, Rolex Rankings No. 35

MODERATOR: All right. We'd like to welcome the inaugural Manulife Financial LPGA Classic winner, Brittany Lang. Congratulations.
BRITTANY LANG:
Thank you.

MODERATOR: How does it feel?
BRITTANY LANG:
I'm just ecstatic, I can't believe I finally won, and to do it here was good. It's a great venue, nice place and to do it for the inaugural event was very special.

MODERATOR: Take us through your day. You played well this week, you came out and shot 67, missed the putt in regulation that would have won it and took three playoff holes to become a Rolex first time winner. Give me the scope of the day for you.
BRITTANY LANG:
Well, I started out really well. I knew if I made a couple birdies early it'd be a pretty easy day because it's that kind of course. The back nine's not very difficult. If you shoot a couple under on the front nine you can get some momentum going into the back. And Hee Kyung and Inbee, they were playing extremely well, they just kept making birdie after birdie, and I was like 3- or 4-under and I still was a couple down. They made a few mistakes coming in, so I finally got pretty close to them and made a good putt on 17. And then I was just extremely nervous on the last hole to make that putt in regulation and it was just, my hands were shaking, it wasn't a good putt, but I gathered myself. And it was a really good experience for me to have that playoff go on that long because it was just good to be in the hunt and in the thick of things and it was a good practice for me.

MODERATOR: You've knocked on the door a couple times, very close to winning in the last couple years, you've got six runner-up finishes coming in to this week. How good does it feel to get that off of your shoulders?
BRITTANY LANG:
It feels amazing. I can't believe it took me seven years to win a tournament out here. Like I told you in Hawaii, I hadn't been that good under pressure and I'm getting better, and I'm so thankful that it happened this week and I'll only get stronger from here.

MODERATOR: You knew you had the physical tools, you've always known it. You told me in Hawaii and earlier this week it was the mental side of the game that you've really been working on. What went right mentally for you today to put you in this position?
BRITTANY LANG:
Well, I was hitting golf balls with my bother last week on the off week at our course and I asked him what I needed to do to play better because I felt like I was playing good, and he just gave me a couple tips. He told me I needed to spend some more time behind the ball seeing my shot and to just have some better tempo with my putting. I really felt like I was in each shot by doing that, so thank you, Luke, it was good advice.

Q. You talked about your nerves on the short putt in regulation, but how were your nerves on that last putt to win the third playoff hole?
BRITTANY LANG:
Yeah, you know, I got better with each putt because I had to make two other putts to stay in the playoff. I was so nervous on that first putt in regulation, I couldn't really see what I wanted and I just kind of putted up there. But those two birdie putts I made to stay in the playoff, I was getting better at being nervous and knowing that just because I was nervous didn't mean I was going to miss it. In regulation I felt a heck of a lot better. I mean in the last putt to win, I felt way better than I did in regulation, so it was good practice.

Q. How far was the winning putt?
BRITTANY LANG:
It was probably like six feet, yeah.

Q. Can you talk about your experience in playoffs? Have you a lot? How have you done?
BRITTANY LANG:
Well, professionally I've never been in a playoff. I mean, I've had playoffs as an amateur, junior player, but that was a long time ago in college, six, seven years ago, so this was my first playoff.

I mean, it was a good hole for me because you can hit a 3-wood or hybrid on the green, so I just tried to stay positive and just enjoy it, so one-for-one in playoffs.

Q. Brittany, you and Morgan were robbed a little bit in the U.S. Open a little while ago now. How do you compare being in the hunt then to being in the playoff now?
BRITTANY LANG:
Yeah, you know, that was -- I played fantastic that week. It's just extremely different because during that week I had no idea where I stood, I was just playing golf and I just happened to get second. I think this week I'm much more mature, I'm much more prepared, I knew I was in the lead, I knew I had a putt to win and I faced it and took care of it. I don't think at Cherry Hills I was ready for that. I just think I had a good round and I finished second, I don't think I was ready for something like today.

Q. We walked most of the round with you. It looked like you played tee to green wonderfully. Was there any point you thought you had to put your foot on the gas a bit because you had at one point five or six putts in a row basically, looked like 10 or 15 feet and hadn't made any of them. You didn't look frustrated by it, but it looked like it could have been frustrating because you were running out of holes and it didn't look like your playing competitors were coming back at all.
BRITTANY LANG:
Yeah, you know, I find these greens extremely difficult to putt. Every putt broke twice, they're straight, they did something, and watching Hee Kyung and Inbee make loads of putts, they obviously didn't have problems, but I had a very difficult time getting them on the right line because they broke twice. I was still 2-, 3-under so I just started to stay positive, and I knew like yesterday I made 15 pars in a row and finished birdie, birdie, eagle, so if you stay patient, stay positive, you never know what can happen.

Q. We asked you this yesterday as a what if, but now it's reality. What's it feel like to be the first Duke Blue Devil to win an LPGA victory?
BRITTANY LANG:
It feels very good. I still can't believe that I'm the first Dukie to ever win an LPGA tournament. That blows my mind with all the talent that comes out of there, but I'm very thankful and very honored.

Q. Britney, first, congratulations on your victory today.
BRITTANY LANG:
Thank you.

Q. There are a number of young Canadians in the field today. Just wondering your thoughts on young Canadians such as Maude-Aimee and Rebecca Lee-Bentham, and any advice you'd give them to achieve the same success level that you've achieved?
BRITTANY LANG:
Yeah, I don't know any of those girls personally. I did play a practice round with a girl, her name was Kirby Dreher; she was a really good player, nice girl. I would just tell them probably just work hard and keep a good attitude. I think keeping a good attitude is probably something that's gotten me to where I am and I just think it gives you more chances to play better by keeping a positive attitude and seeing the brighter side of everything, so that would be my advice.

Q. I just wanted to pick your brain for a second. What did you think when you missed your first chance at winning the tournament and then you had to watch. There was nothing you could do about it and your competitor had two shots of winning it.
BRITTANY LANG:
What are you --

Q. In the playoffs.
BRITTANY LANG:
Oh, the eagle putt that I had and then watching her? Yeah, she's such a good putter, too. If she didn't make the putt today, it had a chance to go in, and I thought for sure she was going to make that. I was even telling my brother there's no way she's missing this. That's all you can do, which is not good when it's out of your hands, you're just sitting there watching it. But I thought for sure she would make it and I felt rejuvenated when she didn't.

Q. How did you envision your first LPGA victory? I'm sure it wasn't like this.
BRITTANY LANG:
Yeah, it's pretty similar, me crying, me hugging my brother. It's actually very similar. I wish my parents were there. I owe everything to them, so I wish they were here. But to have Luke here and my friends, they stuck around, it's pretty cool.

Q. In terms of actually going to a playoff and all that?
BRITTANY LANG:
I never envisioned that. I actually envisioned making the putt in regulation, but yeah, it's very similar to what I envisioned.

Q. You just touched on that, but I notice there was a bit of false start from your peers with the champagne when you missed the putt in regulation, and then obviously once you made it they came running out on the green. I'm just wondering, you said you've been out here a long time and haven't won, so what was the reaction from your peers when you finally got the job done today?
BRITTANY LANG:
They were ecstatic. Angela and Cristie stuck around. The other girls had to catch the charter flight, but they're such good friends, they're always so supportive, and when I've had chances to win in the past, they've always been right by the green there when I have not succeeded. So they're good friends and they were so happy for me, they doused me in champagne, but they were ecstatic. I think they were at happy as I was.

Q. Talk about recently Stacy Lewis, she won two of three events, she's become the top-ranked American, obviously you're very close with her. A lots been said in recent years where are the American golfers. Jessica Korda, Angela Stanford, Stacy and now yourself are in the winners' circle. What's the state of American golf?
BRITTANY LANG:
Yeah, I don't -- I mean, I know a lot of Koreans do win, but I don't understand that because we do have so many good American players and I love that Stacy keeps winning, Angela won. Even when we win they say that. I don't know why they say that, I'm not really sure.

Q. I would just like to hear your thoughts on the tournament itself in terms of the crowds, the galleries, you know, the field.
BRITTANY LANG:
It was a fantastic event. It was a fun golf course to play, very scorable, a lot of birdies, eagles. It was extremely fun to play. It was in good condition. The fans were fantastic, as usual in Canada they're fantastic, and the weather was nice, the towns are nice. It was a well-run tournament.

Q. So looking ahead, have your plans changed? Are you going to play Arkansas? Does your preparation for the Open change at all?
BRITTANY LANG:
No, not really. Arkansas is one of my favorite events so I'll definitely be there. I love Arkansas. No, my plans don't change. I'm going to keep doing what I was working on this week and get with my coach and just keep trying to get better.

Hee Kyung Seo, Rolex Rankings No. 37

Q. All right, good playing. Can you just start out by taking me through regulation play today?
HEE KYUNG SEO:
It was great round, yeah, but I played really good and, you know, I'm still a little nervous, but yeah, it was fun. I think I played really good, but Brittany was really great so I would like to say congrats to her.

Q. We have a couple of big tournaments coming up, starting with Arkansas and then ending at the Open. Does this boost your confidence at all heading into those?
HEE KYUNG SEO:
Yeah, before that I was a little depressed after Nabisco, but since now I've got confidence and I can -- it was another chance for me, but, you know, I didn't catch up, but I trust it's going to be more coming.

Q. There've been a lot of fans out there this week. How's it been?
HEE KYUNG SEO:
Yeah, it was good, lots of Koreans here, too, and lots of Canadian people come out here and cheer us. It was really good.

Q. What were your thoughts in the playoff?
HEE KYUNG SEO:
Well, I really wanted to win, but I just enjoyed it.

Q. It was the playoff that would never end out here.
HEE KYUNG SEO:
Yeah, it reminds of Australia. It was fun, I think it was a great time and I tried my best. I think it was Brittany, so yeah.

Q. It's difficult, you played the same hole four times in a row. Was it difficult to get -- to think about it differently or to think about how you would approach it each time?
HEE KYUNG SEO:
Yeah, I had different yardage every time so it was hard to pick the clubs, but I really made good shots up there, but the hole is really tough position so I couldn't know my stroke, that's why I didn't make it, but it was good.

Q. It looked like you had a hard time actually playing enough break on that putt coming downhill. But on the last one, on the previous hole, did you think you made it, because you made it really far right and it just trickled right. Did you think you made that?
HEE KYUNG SEO:
You mean the last one?

Q. The previous one.
HEE KYUNG SEO:
Well, yeah, most putting was short today, so I tried to just, you know, over the hole, but I didn't quite get a good break.

Q. Were you surprised when Brittany missed the putt in regulation?
HEE KYUNG SEO:
I didn't expect that. I thought she was going to make it.

Q. Did you say anything to each other during the playoffs?
HEE KYUNG SEO:
Not really. It was a really -- we had really lots of pressure.

Q. You played most of the day with the same -- you know, you added one when you came in for the playoff. It's interesting nobody on the back nine really made any putts of any length. It looked like nobody could get a couple of shots ahead coming in.
HEE KYUNG SEO:
I think the pin position was, nor,pre difficult than the front nine, so it wasn't hard to get to the green from the fairway, but when we got on the green it was really tricky to read the break.

Q. Because nobody really -- we walked, what, the last 10 or 12 holes, and we were like, you're right, everybody was in the fairway, everybody was on the green, but nobody could seem to make putts coming in.
HEE KYUNG SEO:
We need to be right spot and right speed, so it was really hard.

Inbee Park, Rolex Rankings No. 27

Q. It was a hard-fought battle. Can you just take me through, first, regulation play?
INBEE PARK:
Yeah. Today wasn't the best day for playing today. I left a lot of putts out there, I think. Today was just not my day and maybe the next time.

Q. What happened in the playoff?
INBEE PARK:
I just hit it to the right and then I didn't get up and down from the right. That was the side I should miss it, to the right.

Q. This is the start of a two-week stretch and then the Open, which you won in 2008. This kind of has to boost your confidence.
INBEE PARK:
Yeah, it does. I mean, I played well this week in all four rounds and that gives me a lot of confidence going into the U.S. Women's Open, so I think it's going to be good.

Q. What was it like playing in front of the fans this week?
INBEE PARK:
It's great. There's a lot of crowd this week, I'm glad, especially for the first event in Waterloo, so happy for that.

Chella Choi, Rolex Rankings No. 61

Q. Good playing, you're right in there. Can you just take me through the day?
CHELLA CHOI:
Today was a very good day and my shot is really good and my putting is really, really good, so I'm very happy. And my best round today, my best finish today, so I'm very happy.

Q. How did you feel about the wind? It seemed to pick up this afternoon, but we're seeing some low scores so maybe it wasn't a factor at all?
CHELLA CHOI:
I don't know, maybe a little bit, but I'm grateful because I don't care wind, so it's fine.

Q. How about the pins today, were they harder?
CHELLA CHOI:
Easier than yesterday, but yeah.

Q. You're tied for the lead now. What are you going to do kind of for the rest of the day? Are you going to go hit balls?
CHELLA CHOI:
Really?

Q. Yeah, you're tied for the lead, 16-under.
CHELLA CHOI:
Oh, really? Maybe I think No. 18 very easy par 5, but a couple putt and rest, and I'm very hungry, so eating.

Q. You don't look at the scoreboard while you're --
CHELLA CHOI:
Yeah, nothing, because yesterday I played really good before 13, but I was first bogey No. 13 and 15 and No. 17, so I'm very stressed today, more focus. So I made No. 15 and No. 17 birdie, I made birdie, so I'm very happy.

Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 2

Q. All right. Tell us about that last putt.
STACY LEWIS:
Well, it was a chip shot. I was about 30 yards from the hole and I was just trying to get it close. I was back into the wind, so I knew I had a pretty good shot of getting it close. It went all the way around the hole and fell in, so I thought that was going to lip out, too, and it finally stayed in and it was a good way to finish.

Q. What about 16, you missed a close one there. What happened there?
STACY LEWIS:
It was a good putt. It broke right over the top edge. I hit it right where I wanted to and it's kind of how a lot of putts have gone for me this week, just kind of right over the edge. But I kind of found a way to get it done today and still posted a pretty good score.

Q. I guess you would like to subtract Round 1?
STACY LEWIS:
Yeah, if I could go back and redo Round 1, I think I would be in a little better spot, but I'm just proud of the way I came back and finished it out really strong.

Q. What does it do for your confidence, two wins this season, being near the top consistently?
STACY LEWIS:
I mean, it's all confidence just knowing that if you do have a bad day like I did the first day, knowing that you can come back and play well and still be in contention, still have a chance to win, so it's a lot of fun when you have a chance to walk up 18 in the last couple groups. I don't know, you take -- every time you're in the top 10 or something like that, it's a good week for me.

Q. What do you think of crowds and just the course this week?
STACY LEWIS:
The crowds are unbelievable. We were talking about that walking up 18 actually; they were lining the fairways there. We always have good crowds when we come to Canada, so I love coming to play here, the fans are awesome. For a first-year course, this course is really good. I think they probably don't like such low scores, so I think some tees will be moved back next year, but it was a good first year and I think we just thank Manulife for that.

Q. So we'll see you back next year?
STACY LEWIS:
I think so. It's hard to say no, I think.

Q. Next week you're heading back to your old stomping grounds in Arkansas.
STACY LEWIS:
Um-hmm.

Q. How excited are you?
STACY LEWIS:
I'm pretty excited. It's going to be a busy week, but I love getting back home and playing in front of my -- my family and friends will all be there. It's such a fun week for me. I was talking to Travis, every year we go back, it gets better and better and it's crazier and crazier, so it's no telling what it's going to be like.

Q. Can you sum up today for me, how the day went for you?
STACY LEWIS:
It started out very frustrating and it ended on a really good note. Finally I relaxed and played some good golf on the back nine and I was happy about that, but overall it was a good day.


Topics: Notes and Interviews, Choi, Chella, Lewis, Stacy, Seo, Hee Kyung, Park, Inbee, Lang, Brittany, Manulife Financial LPGA Classic [+]