Wegmans LPGA Championship
Locust Hill Country Club
Rochester, New York
First-round notes and interviews
June 8, 2012
Se Ri Pak -3, Rolex Rankings No. 33
Paula Creamer -2, Rolex Rankings No. 11
Inbee Park -2, Rolex Rankings No. 26
Mika Miyazato -2, Rolex Rankings No. 29
So Yeon Ryu -1, Rolex Rankings No. 19
Stacy Lewis E, Rolex Rankings No. 3
Grace Park +6, Rolex Rankings No. 224
Yani Tseng +7, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Just six weeks removed from a partial tear to the labrum of her left shoulder, Se Ri Pak is defying the odds with a one-shot lead after 36 holes at the LPGA's second major of the season. The LPGA and World Golf Hall of Famer appears to have made a full recovery, shooting rounds of 70 and 71 to lead a quartet of players by one stroke at 3-under-par 141 at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. Pak carded three birdies on her day, including back-to-back birdies at 16 and 17 (her seventh and eighth holes) with two bogies to shoot 1-under-par 71 on a breezy day at Locust Hill Country Club. A 25-time LPGA winner with five major championships to her name, Pak is in pursuit of her first victory since the 2010 Bell Micro LPGA Classic. Her last major championships victory came at the LPGA Championship in 2006.
"This week you come out, you don't (have) very high expectation," she said. "Of course you really want it. My shoulder isn't any problem at all."
Major champions Paula Creamer and Inbee Park are tied for second at 2-under-par 142 along with Sandra Gal and Mika Miyazato.
Helping out the youngster: As a 15-year veteran on Tour, Se Ri Pak has seen it all. From 25 victories to a shoulder injury, Pak has taken something from every round, every win, and every season. With many emerging young South Koreans on the LPGA Tour, Pak feels it's important to be a mentor to the girls and help guide them in their careers
"I tell young players as much as I could say it is great to be out here," Pak said. "I'm very happy to see you guys. I'm really proud to see you guys here play so well. It will come, but before that make sure you have to enjoy something in your life. Golf is a job. Yes it's a job. Most important thing you have to enjoy it.
"Just go out and relax just as fun. It's a game. Bad week, move on. You are not finished. Good week, yes, happy. But move on, right? Try to make it simple as I could. Most important for me to tell all Korean players if they need help that's the most I can say. Not how to make the shot, how to make this kind of lie."
Paired with fellow South Koreans Sun Young Yoo and So Yeon Ryu Friday, Pak wanted to start the round with some advice.
"Se Ri gave me really great advice and before the tee off," So Yeon Ryu said. "Se Ri said, please, enjoy the golf. Don't think about the results. So I did. So I think that's why my results is great."
"She said the great player is great golfer. But also we must be a great personality. So I really trying to be -- smile on my face and kind for lot of gallery. So I really respect her and she gave me really great advice, so I want to follow in her step."
Thinking of "Pops": Every time Paula Creamer walks up the 18th fairway at the Locust Hill Country Club this week she is overcome with memories of her late grandfather, who passed away the week of the Kia Classic. Creamer's grandfather, whom she calls "Pops," hadn't missed a single tournament played in Rochester since she started her LPGA career.
She plays with a heavy heart this week as she thinks of the memories of his presences in the grandstands on the 18th green where he used to always sit. Creamer believes those memories will be the driving force in her quest for her first season victory.
"This is by far the hardest year for me with pops not being here," Creamer said. "I've kind of been dreading this week in my mind ever since he passed away, just coming here. He has never missed a tournament this week, or at this event. That's been kind of the hard part for me mentally is really just kind of getting in my own world and every time I walk up to the 18th green, I get tears in my eyes, because I see him right behind the green. But that's part of life and hopefully this is my year and he will be there helping me out through it."
Tough competition: For Inbee Park, sitting at 2-under for the day along with Sandra Gal, Paula Creamer and Mika Miyazato is a pretty good feeling. A four-time winner on the Japanese Ladies Professional Golf Association (JLPGA), Park has found it difficult to be in contention at an LPGA event since her first and only victory, the 2008 U.S. Women's Open.
"I haven't won for a while, and I really want to win but I try, I try to play like all of the other tournaments," Park said. "I've had a couple of wins in Japan, not over in U.S., but I think it's a lot tougher to win out here. Competition is so tough. I'm just trying my best and see just what happens."
Park has consistently finished in the top-25 in each appearance this year and although she hasn't posted a win this season, she believes her wins on the JLPGA have boosted her confidence to pull out a victory this season.
Sticking around for the weekend: A total of 73 players made the cut which fell at 7-over-par 151
Waiting game: Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng found herself in an unfamiliar position after finishing her second round early Friday afternoon at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. The defending champion, who won by 10 shots last year, had to sit around all afternoon to find out whether she had made the cut at this year's event.
Tseng fired a 3-over 75 on Friday to sit at 7-over-par after two rounds. When she finished, the cut line was at 5-over-par but with the winds picking up, the course proved to play tough in the afternoon wave. So Tseng managed to sneak in under the cut line and avoid becoming just the second defending champion to miss the cut at the LPGA Championship. The only one to do so was Betty Burfeindt, the 1976 champion, who missed the cut in 1977.
"I don't know how I shot 19-under last year," Tseng said. "And it's really tough. I know the course is very different this year. I mean, I just keep telling myself be patient, be patient. It's a Major. Everybody is going to make bogey. It's okay. But I finish with 3-over today, I wasn't happy. I was kind of very sad. Like I say, hopefully, I can still play the next few days and try to get my feel back for the next two days."
Tseng, who recorded her worst finish of the season with a T12 last week at the ShopRite LPGA Classic, played in the marquee pairing over the first two days with Stacy Lewis and Paula Creamer. While both Lewis and Creamer put themselves in the hunt, Tseng struggled to get anything going.
"That's probably the worst I've seen Yani play over two days straight," Lewis said. "Usually if she has a bad day, she bounces back, and the next day is right back in it. She got off to a good start today. She looked more confident with her swing, and then throughout the day I can tell she just lost some confidence. It wasn't the usual Yani out there."
Stacy Lewis kept herself in contention for a third victory in 2012 with a second-consecutive even-par 72 on Friday. The top-ranked American is three shots off the pace at even-par 144 entering Saturday's third-round play at the Wegmans LPGA Championship.
Lewis is the winner of two of the last three LPGA Tour events including a four-shot victory at last week's ShopRite LPGA Classic.
"My round was a little up and down," Lewis said. "I gave a few away, just not really playing smart. But I was lucky a couple of times and got a couple back. So overall it was pretty solid." The 27-year-old had a wild closing stretch including a long distance putt for par at 17 and a bogey at 18 where she drove it in the rough and hit a tree on her second shot.
Curtain call… Grace Park shed a few tears after sinking the par putt on her final hole in Friday's second round of the Wegmans LPGA Championship. It was an emotional moment for the 33-year-old who wasn't sure if that would be the final putt of her LPGA career.
Two weeks ago, Park made the decision to retire from the LPGA Tour in the midst of her 13th season. She chose Rochester to be her final event and sitting at 6-over-par through two rounds of the event, Park thought she might miss the cut and thus see her career come to a close.
But Park's determination, which helped her to six career wins on Tour including the 2004, showed on the back-nine of her round on Friday when she went 3-under to give herself at least a chance of making the cut. It made a big difference as Park finished inside the cut-line to give herself two more days of golf.
It's fitting that Park will get a little more time considering that injuries stunted a career that showed so much promise early on. The 1998 U.S. Women's Amateur champion and a six-time winner on the LPGA Tour, Park seemed poised to make a big splash on Tour early in her career. But back problems, as well as a hip injury, limited Park's time on the golf course in recent years and when she finally seemed to be back on track health-wise, she wasn't able to rediscover that magic in her game.
"I had been thinking about it for a while," Park said of her decision to retire. "After getting my health back and playing every event last year, I wanted to give it one last chance at becoming one of the top golfers again. I worked really hard to get here today. Especially this past winter in trying to improve my game, improve my strength again, and I thought I could do it again. But the truth was, the reality was, that my game just wasn't there."
Park is engaged to Skye Kim with a wedding planned for November. It's just one of many new things ahead for Park, who acknowledges that she's unsure of exactly what lies ahead for her.
"I just want to take some time off," Park said of her initial plans. "I picked up this game when I was 8 years old. I've been competing since I was 10. I really never had any time off. I don't even know what I like doing because I pretty much devoted my whole life into being the greatest golfer that I could be. So I want to take some time off to find out what I like doing."
Tweet of the Day: "What?!?!? Grace Park is retiring?!?! Wow! She will be missed out here on tour for sure. I wish her nothing but the best." -- @ThePCreamer
Of Note…Jodi Ewart made eagle on the par-4 No. 1 hole, knocking in her second shot from 153 yards with a 7-iron…Karen Davies and Minea Blomqvist both withdrew after the first round of play at the Wegmans LPGA Championship…Sponsor exemption Cheyenne Woods shot a second-round 79 to finish at 10-over-par and miss the cut…Michelle Wie shot 82 on Friday to finish at 12-over-par and miss the cut. It's Wie's sixth consecutive missed cut this season.
MODERATOR: We would like to welcome our current leader Se Ri Pak into the interview room. Congratulations, another great round out there for you today. Can you take me through the day? We've been talking to all of the players and they've been saying how much tougher the golf course has been playing out there today. Is that the case for you as well?
SE RI PAK: Well, definitely I'm happy to be back here in this seat because that means I'm doing a good round. It was. Before teeing off, we know it's a lot tougher because we could see the wind blowing. This golf course a lot harder than the last couple of years. It's always hard. But they narrowed the fairways. It actually affects it a lot, this golf course. We got a couple of rains, actually get courses little longer. It's really hard. It's very difficult because you will miss the fairway. The next shot from the rough, you have to really smart thinking.
You don't really try to make, or push your force to make par because sometimes bogey is a good number. So I try not to have a big mistake for every hole, every two shots. You miss it, you miss a lot of fairway. Of course, I did it today. I miss a lot of fairway. It's pretty hard to hit fairway from the tee because of the angles, the wind, narrow fairways, it's really hard. I just go out there and do my best, of course, four-and-a-half hours really stressful because the course is so hard. Of course, you are there, you are trying to play well; just extra.But I'm very happy about the finish today, the round, because I got a couple of great up and downs from the rough and some great putts too. So I think my momentum going from non-stop to moving forward. That's why I am here again today. So that's really good.
MODERATOR: We talked yesterday about the shoulder injury and how frustrating it is to have that injury to sideline you for a little bit. But you were playing so well before the injury, tied for eighth at Kraft, which is one of your best finishes at Kraft, and you had some much success at Majors. Did you feel good about your game before the injury and is this the result of how good you were feeling with your game earlier in the area?
SE RI PAK: I can't say really good my game starting 2012 this season. I got a really great wintertime off with my parents. My family was in town in Orlando. We spent time together for first a long time actually. I practiced with my dad. Actually he is my first coach. My coach is there but we work on together. He understand and my dad understand. He actually helped me out the easy way. Sometimes I just find the hard way. But that helps a lot. As I said, all season it's been really great for me. Probably the best off season I ever had for a long time. I really feel great about it and makes it more enjoyable, the golf course.
And the next thing I know, my golf game has been a lot better. Score well, play well, consistency and you got more distance. Overall I'm really happy. Then after the accident I'm not sure, it's going to get back right away. Right now still not 100% the way I was because I'm slowly better every day but it's still here and there and wasn't uncomfortable for me. I know it takes a little while. It takes a little more time for me to let it heal and just trying to be myself out there. I said don't push myself out there so much. That's my other problem. To go out and really give myself a lot of pressure. This week you come out, you don't very high expectation. Of course you really want it. But this time I actually tried when I come back from injury so that why it helps a lot. My mind be relief from all of the pressure. I'm trying to focus as much as I could. Then it happened this week I started pretty good.
Q. Se Ri, just explain to us how difficult it is with the shoulder? Do you feel pain on every shot? Are you compensating in any way?
SE RI PAK: My shoulder isn't any problem at all. I think from the shoulder down to my elbow. That's why the back of my elbow, I kind of feel a little bit of pinch, a little bit, soreness. But it wasn't really crazy bad about it. That's what happened from after shoulder injury. That's what the doctor said.
I said this is my first time, try first week, and I don't think I come out rushing to play the event. But I talked to the doctor and they said it's perfect, it's okay with that. But this is going to be happening anyway. As long as it keep bothers, I probably maybe stop here and there maybe one or two tournaments. But right now it feels like it wasn't going any worse. But probably full schedule this year. It wasn't shoulders any problem but just because of the shoulder what happened.
Q. Are you surprised though by what's happening? You are able to play with this? You are leading? Are you surprised by the way you are playing and able to lead with the problem, the first time out?
SE RI PAK: I was surprised because I said, the way I come back. I'm playing really well actually. The way I'm playing. I'm really happy about it. But another surprise, the scores here. The last couple of years someone has always been huge lead leading all the time here. Only one person be so easy golf course here. This golf course has never been easier. But this year it looks like a lot harder than it used to. You can see the difference of score in the first round. Normally we got at least three or four players, 4 or 5-under. Yesterday we got like 3-under is leading is probably the lowest in the first round leading. And today, because of wind, the scores are higher. It happens this golf course, but I guess, this week is most difficult conditions ever played from this golf course.
Q. Se Ri, you had Ms. Ryu playing with you in the same pairing, can you take about how you guys went back and forth? You were tied going into the final hole, how was that?
SE RI PAK: Actually the first round her and there, I know she strike it really well. Lately she got a pretty good solid round for a couple of tournaments. Just comfortable to play with her. Like Sun Young and So Yeon, for a long time a couple of years, here and there. It's probably the first time we played together, and I know they should play good. They should have a lot of confidence herself too. But today her putting work really well. Oh my God, she make some birdie putts probably longest a couple of times. She strike it well and putt it well.
Last hole she was unlucky probably the lie from the second shot. It's good to be with someone playing well. At the same time get together as a team. It helps. Because your focus is always being out there, the same time. Sometime, someone have a good day or bad day, it can affect it. This is where the golf is. It's like players. It's all team. You have to really care from your partner too. But today really solid round, both of them too. So that helps out a lot playing a good round I think and enjoyable. We are having some fun again.
MODERATOR: Se Ri, So Yeon was talking about how you served as somewhat of a mentor to her. Do you relish being in that roll with some of the other Korean players and someone like So Yeon, who have so much talent, who has been a major champion, to be able to give that advice to her.
SE RI PAK: I love to. I love to tell young player come out of U.S. play the LPGA Tour. Everybody looking to be No. 1. It's pretty hard. But not too hard to get out there as long as you find an easy way. It's easy to do. But giving more better idea to being out there at the same time. It's important how much you take care of yourself better way or best way than, you know, you are there one day. But work hard, practice hard. Of course, that's important but it's not all about it.
You have to make a better balance. You have to find perfect balance to be out there and play and try to relax at the same time. But it's pretty hard to do it. For me, late or not too late, because I'm still playing. I'm learning.
One point I think I missed something, because what it is, and this is it, I'm trying to be out there as best as I could, trying to be best player in the world. I'm trying to win a tournament, yes.
But I'm a human being too. You have to make sure you work hard but at the same time you rest hard too.
So I love from a couple of years ago, and slowly get better and better. I'm still here in great shape. That's important. Of course, I done so many things earlier. I did. But that means I'm not taking care of myself too.
But most important thing, being young is such an important age, they come out, play every day, every week, traveling. No resting. No thinking about the golf course Monday to Sunday, following the same thing. It's going to be a burn out some day. I don't know. Nobody knows. What happened? That's why I tell young players as much as I could say it is great to be out here. I'm very happy to see you guys. I'm really proud to see you guys here play so well. It will come, but before that make sure you have to enjoy some thing in your life. Golf is a job. Yes it's a job. Most important thing you have to enjoy it. So I tell them practice well, do this. This is not the answer to them. Just go out and relax just as fun. It's a game. Bad week, move on. You are not finished. Good week, yes, happy. But move on, right? Try to make it simple as I could. Most important for me to tell all Korean players if they need help that's the most I can say. Not how to make the shot, how to make this kind of lie. I can tell them all day long all year long but this is not the answer.
MODERATOR: I would like to welcome Paula Creamer into the interview room. Paula, a great round today. Can you just take us through your round and what was working well for you today?
PAULA CREAMER: Yes, I started out with a bogey but got it right back on the third hole with a birdie. I hit the ball off the tee, I think, better than I did yesterday, just unfortunately didn't take advantage as much with my irons. But it is playing really tough out there. It's difficult. This is the hardest I think it's ever played, and the scores are showing it and pars are what you want out there.
When you get those opportunities for birdies is really when you have to take advantage of it. I have been trying to do that more this week than I think any other week.
MODERATOR: You started the week off pretty strong yesterday, tied for fourth, and today still at the top of the leaderboard. What do you think you will need to do to keep your momentum for the weekend?
PAULA CREAMER: It's going to continue drying out, hopefully we miss a storm this afternoon and tomorrow. It's only going to get harder. I'm sure the pin placements are going to get even more difficult. I'm just going to have to try to keep doing what I'm doing.
My attitude, I think, is what I have been really working go on out on the golf course, besides changing my golf swing and things like that. If I don't have a positive vibe, or energy out there, it's going to be a long day. So I have really been trying to watch my demeanor on the golf course and so far so good.
MODERATOR: The leaderboard is pretty crowd for the most part, what do you think you will need to do to set yourself apart from the rest of the field and on potentially run away with it.
PAULA CREAMER: I can't really change what people are doing. If somebody gets hot, so be it. I just got to keep up with them. Where I am at right now, I played pretty good. I played well. I've played solid. I made my mistakes. But at the same time I'm right in contention. It's going to be a good weekend. I'm sure there is going to be -- it's going to stay a little windy, so it's going to be hard and it's going to put a premium on hitting fairways and greens.
Q. Paula, it's playing tough today. It seems it's playing tougher today, the winds are blowing. Would you say conditions are worse today than yesterday?
PAULA CREAMER: Yes, definitely. It's hard out there. It's very breezy in certain spots. Some of the holes, the driving tee shots with this kind, gets pretty narrow down there, so it does put a premium on the fairway. But this golf course without wind is hard right now. When you add the factor trying to stay below the hole with these front pins that we have today, and with this type of wind, it's hard. 2 putts are good out there. The good thing about this golf course, if you do hit it in pretty much in the middle of the greens, you are really not that far away. But above the hole is just so penalizing that you have to put a premium on your good iron shots.
Q. At 2-under you got to feel pretty good? You are in a nice spot there?
PAULA CREAMER: If somebody said, do you want even par before you went out there? I would have said yes today. It's difficult.
I'm playing well. So at the time I like being challenged, so I can go out and try to make birdies. But I'm very pleased with where I am at today. I'm sure I will be a couple behind by the end of the day but there is a lot of golf left.
Q. I know you love it here. Again, for the fifth year in a row, do you feel it's finally your time to get a win at this golf course that you started here as a pro and all of that stuff?
PAULA CREAMER: I hope so. As long as I keep doing what I'm doing, we'll see on Sunday. This is by far the hardest year for me with pops not being here. I kind of been dreading this week in my mind ever since he passed away, just coming here. He has never missed a tournament this week, or at this event. That's been kind of the hard part for me mentally is really just kind of getting in my own world and every time I walk up to the 18th green, I get tears in my eyes, because I see him right behind the green.
But that's part of life and hopefully this is my year and he will be there helping me out through it.
Q. As someone who has won a U.S. open, do you feel like you are equipped to win here because you have won on a top golf course? Does this remind you of a couple of years ago when you won the U.S. Open?
PAULA CREAMER: Without a doubt. I love this kind of golf. This is to me what it's all about. It's hitting shots. It's hitting fades, hitting draws, knock downs, everything. It's not just trying to land it on a huge fairway. You have to golf your ball around out here and that's what you have to do at Oakmont and that's what you have to do at most Majors and this is right up there with it. This is difficult. This is a tough test of golf.
MODERATOR: We would like to welcome one of your current leaders InBee Park into the interview room. Congratulations, a great round out there, 2-under par. We are not seeing a lot of low scores out there. Take me through the day and tell me how you were able to score and how you feel about being on the top of the leaderboard right now.
INBEE PARK: Today I hit a lot of fairways, that was the big key today. Yesterday I was struggling a little bit with the ball striking but today it was much better. And I think I missed only two fairways and that was just like in the first cut. So I that just helped me a lot today. I gave myself a lot of opportunities for birdie. It could have been a couple of more but I'm really happy with the way I played today. And two more days to play so I'm looking forward to it
MODERATOR: The last two years we seen the winner getting to 19 under par and this week it seems that everybody is struggling to stay under par. What's been the biggest difference that you've seen on the course and how much tougher is it playing?
INBEE PARK: I think it's playing much tougher this year because I think they narrowed the fairways and the rough is a lot longer than all of the other years that we played. I am really used to seeing this golf course because I play this golf course so many times and it was playing easier. I try to play the same as the years that I played before, and I really love this golf course. So maybe some good results.
MODERATOR: You're a Major champion already in your career, what would it mean to you to win this tournament as another major to add to your resume.
INBEE PARK: I mean any tournament would be good for me but especially being a Major, and I really like the tough golf course so I think that's going to give me some advantage, especially winning the U.S. Open, 2008, that helped giving me a lot of confidence going into these kind of tournaments.
Q. Inbee, you obviously won the Women's Open as Kelly said and you are contending here this week, what's it with you and hard golf courses; do you just prefer more of a challenge, tight fairway, that kind of thing?
INBEE PARK: No, I think I just don't like going too low. I mean a lot of girls out here, so good competition. I mean it's tough to shoot 6 and 7-under every day. They are doing it every week. So it's really tough to catch them. But this kind of golf course, I think it's really tough for everybody, so I think that works for me.
Q. Inbee, how do you approach this weekend because it has been a couple of years since your last victory? How do you go into this weekend and keep a good mindset obviously?
INBEE PARK: I haven't won for a while, and I really want to win but I try, I try to play like all of the other tournaments. I've had a couple of wins in Japan, not over in U.S., but I think it's a lot tougher to win out here. Competition is so tough. I'm just trying my best and see just what happens.
MODERATOR: You mentioned those wins over in Japan, I know you were playing over there frequently recently, what did that experience do for your game and how much confidence winning over there has that kind of brought over now?
INBEE PARK: I think mostly confidence-wise it just gives me a lot of confidence playing over there and playing well over there. So that gives me confidence that I could do good over here, too.
Q. Walk me through your round, what was working for you today, what wasn't working for you today?
MIKA MIYAZATO: Tee shot (Inaudible) so much wind out there. Plus the second shot, my distance not very good. So I try to figure out with caddy. But still tough on the front 9. So I tried the back 9 a little bit better.
Q. You've started the week off pretty strong tied for fourth yesterday and tied for 2nd, what do you think you will need to do to continue that throughout the weekend?
MIKA MIYAZATO: Getting difficult I think next two days. So I need still patient, more important I think.
Q. The leaderboard is pretty crowded, a lot of people tied for second, a lot of people tied for 6th, what do you think you need to do to set yourself apart from them?
MIKA MIYAZATO: One shot, one time I think more good for me.
Q. I know not the finish you were hoping there on that last hole but overall pretty pleased?
SO YEON RYU: Oh, yes, actually last week my coach, Ian Triggs, came to the ShopRite Classic so I fixed my swing a little bit. So my driving distance go more far. So today the second shot was a little bit more comfortable. I hit a lot of short, short iron. And especially today my putt was severe because I made lots of really long putts. Unfortunately last hole I hit the 5, my tee shot was a little too aggressive.
But I think my game is getting better and better, especially today I'm playing with Se Ri Pak. And Se Ri gave me really great advice and before the tee off Se Ri said, please, enjoy the golf. Don't think about the results. So I did. So I think that's why my results is great.
MODERATOR: I know you and Se Ri have been close having her last year walk with you in The Open, can you talk about your relationship with her and what she has meant to you?
SO YEON RYU: Yes. Yes, to this day she give me really, really nice advice, lots of things. She said the great player is great golfer. But also we must be a great personality. So I really trying to be -- smile on my face and kind for lot of gallery. So I really respect her and she gave me really great advice, so I want to follow in her step.
Q. I want to ask you about the Women's Open media day, you wanted to play with Se Ri, right, but she ws hurt and came and walked with you, right?
SO YEON RYU: Yes, just the first nine holes, yes.
Q. What did that mean to you?
SO YEON RYU: Se Ri gave us some tip. She said actually the golf course is really, really tough. Even bogey is a great number so don't be high expectation. And she said don't practice too much at this golf course. So first I couldn't understand it. But next day I practice alone. But I understood it. The green is really, really tough and even the distance is really long. It's 7,000 yards. So I think it will be the hardest golf course.
Q. I know you won the U.S. Women's Open last year and everybody talks about the tough conditions at U.S. Women's golf courses, but everybody is talking about how difficult this golf course has been, do you like tough golf courses?
SO YEON RYU: Yes. Normally I like a tough golf course. But I think this golf course, the fairway is too narrow. The rough is so thick. Sometimes my wrist is a little hard and the tee shot was really, really tough. But everybody have the same conditions. So I just want to think about my golf and absolutely the tee shot is really important.
Q. Does this feel like a U.S. Open?
SO YEON RYU: A little different because the green is a little small. Actually U.S. Open golf courses the green is normally big. But this is a really, really narrow fairway. So it's kind of a little different but this is a Major tournament.
Q. This seems like a brutal experience for some many players, how tough is this golf course compared to others that you have played, one of toughest?
SO YEON RYU: Yes, yes. Even today I play really great without the last hole. I made double bogey the last hole. We can't imagine the results. If we finish the 17th hole, if I finish really great. But still chance to be really tough hole the next hole, the 18th hole. So the green is really small and the rough is really thick so even chip is really hard, so I think a lot of part is really tough.
MODERATOR: We would like to welcome Stacy Lewis into the interview room. A solid round out there today, kept yourself in it which seems to be the theme this week. It's just putting yourself in position not to fall too far out of it. Take me through the day and how much tougher this course is really playing this year than in years past?
STACY LEWIS: Yes, it's a lot tougher than the last couple of years. The rough is long, but it's the longest, it's the longest right off the fairways. So you barely miss the fairway, and you don't have a shot.
My round was a little up and down. I gave a few away, just not really playing smart. But I was lucky a couple of times and got a couple back. So overall it was pretty solid. There is a couple of things I could have done better. I'm hanging in there, and I am happy with it.
MODERATOR: Looking at your group, you and Paula have been playing pretty well, but you guys were playing with Yani, and she has been shooting what we are not typically used to seeing from her. What was the biggest thing that you saw from her the last two days and how much different did her game look than what we've seen over the past year?
STACY LEWIS: I was shocked. That's probably the worst I've seen Yani play over two days straight. Usually if she has a bad day, she bounces back, and the next day is right back in it. She got off to a good start today. She looked more confident with her swing, and then throughout the day I can tell she just lost some confidence. It wasn't the usual Yani out there.
Q. I asked Paula the same question, it was harder today. Give me your impression of the wind and what exactly was happening. It was so tame yesterday, but not today it looks like?
STACY LEWIS: Yes, yesterday it was pretty scorable, especially in the afternoon. There was hardly any wind. Today the wind, it was brutal.
In the beginning of our round it was switching around, you couldn't really figure out the direction. And then once we hit 9, I mean, from there on it was blowing pretty hard. It was hard to trust certain numbers because the wind gets blocked from the trees a lot of times here. It was really hard out there. A lot harder than yesterday.
Q. When you see back-to-back 19-under par winning on this golf course, was there some question coming in about is this place truly a Major championship venue if that can happen? And once you've answered that part, tell me what you think now.
STACY LEWIS: I don't know. I was surprised actually the last two years that they got that low. I think this is the kind of course though that if you are hitting it straight and making some putts, you can shoot a low number. I wouldn't say I was surprised. It was just one of those weeks for Yani and Cristie that everything was firing on all cylinders. So I think with the rough up, and the greens firm, this golf course is hard enough. To me, I don't think there was a question about that before we came here.
MODERATOR: As you are talking about how tough that is, there is a Major championship mentality that everybody talks about with the U.S. Opens and the toughness and having to grind it out. Is it getting that feel where you just sit there and seeing who can survive at the end of the week?
STACY LEWIS: Yes, I was. In the middle of the back 9, I think I was counting down the number of holes we had left and how many shots I really had to focus on and get through. It's so hard.
If you miss a fairway by an inch, you have no shot, and you are making bogey at best. You have to keep your focus. You are going to make a bogey. You are going to make a bad swing and just move on.
MODERATOR: What do you think is the biggest key heading into the weekend of what it's going to take to pull out a victory here?
STACY LEWIS: I think it's just that same mentality. It's all mental. It's keeping it on the right side of the hole. There is a couple of hole locations out here you just can't get it above. That was a couple of things I did today. It's playing smart, get on the right side of the holes, and just staying as much patient as you can.
Q. You guys had the Marquis pairing, you must have had huge crowds out there, what was that like and how does it add to the start of a championship?
STACY LEWIS: It was a lot of fun for me. I haven't played with both Yani and Paula together with the big crowds like that. So it was a lot of fun and it was really cool. The people watching knew how hard it was playing. They were really appreciative and clapping for good shots. They were struggling through it with us. But it was a lot of fun because that was kind of a first time for me.
MODERATOR: Everybody, we have a very special guest with us today. Six time winner on the LPGA Tour in her 13th year, a Major championship winner. Won the 2004 Kraft Nabisco championship. Also was the winner of the 1998 U.S. Women's Amateur, Grace Park. This is an emotional day for you, emotional moment this week. You have decided this is your last tournament on the LPGA Tour. Can you just share with us your decision on coming to this and kind of what your thoughts were out there as you finished your round today?
GRACE PARK: I don't even know how it came. I had been thinking about it for a while. But after getting my health back and playing every event last year, I wanted to give it one last chance at becoming one of the top golfers again. I worked really hard to get here today. Especially this past winter in trying to improve my game, improve my strength again, and I thought I could do it again. But the truth was, the reality was, that my game just wasn't there. Honestly it just wasn't fun playing. I know my work ethics, my heart is still there, but not seeing the results was really painful, hard to deal with. So, yes, I made the decision.
MODERATOR: I know you talked about all of the injuries, playing with quite a few injuries with your back and various other ailments throughout your career, how frustrating is it to have dealt with those injuries and known such a promising young golfer and still for everything you accomplished, what the injuries kind of hampered you?
GRACE PARK: Yes, my back got really back 2005. That was the year after I had my best year out here winning 2 tournaments, Kraft; one Vare trophy, and I should have taken care of it back then. But I was playing so well that I just hate playing with the pain, and it just became worse and worse where I couldn't practice anymore, where I couldn't do anything. So my rankings started to fall. Back got worse. I was miserable. It was a downward spiral. Just everything was getting worse and worse.
MODERATOR: As I read off that list of all of your accomplishments, it's pretty impressive long list there, and you have had a wonderful career, when you look back, what are some of the memories that are going to stand out to you the most?
GRACE PARK: I think it's that I was able to perform really well at every level. I was Junior Player of the Year, College Player of the Year, Amateur Player of the Year. I didn't quite make it out here on the LPGA Tour. But I had some great wins and great memories, so I will cherish every one of them.
MODERATOR: I know you have some other exciting things coming up in your life, getting married in the fall?
GRACE PARK: Yes.
MODERATOR: What are your plans going forward now that this part of your career is coming to an end.
GRACE PARK: I have no idea. I don't know. I just want to take some time off. I picked up this game when I was 8 years old. I've been competing since I was 10. I really never had any time off. I don't even know what I like doing because I pretty much devoted my whole life into being the greatest golfer that I could be, that I want to take some time off to find out what I like doing. I don't know. I'm just going to enjoy some time with family. I was away from them for 20 years. I'm ready to go home and just be with my fiancee and my family and friends for now.
Q. What goes through your mind knowing that the first tee is going to be your last round as you reach the last hole?
GRACE PARK: It's funny. I imagined it. I pictured it for the past couple of weeks. I was in fact more emotional last weekend in Atlantic City when I knew it to myself, my family knew it, knowing that I was going to retire in two weeks. I was very emotional. Also early on this week, Monday, Tuesday, I was going out to lunch and dinner with my friends and everybody saying oh, it's our last time. They were crying. I was crying. But came yesterday I was fine. I think it was in that tournament mind again. I wanted to just focus and not think about it. But this last back 9 I think I gave it all. I started to feel a little butterflies and started to get little tears in my eyes. Oh my gosh. The last back 9 I was very emotional, and I shot 3-under. I should have gotten more emotional more often.
Q. What if you don't make the cut?
GRACE PARK: You know what, I wanted to make the cut. I played my heart out. I made the turn at 9-over, and I shot 3-over on the back. So I still wanted to play through the weekend. I hope the wind blows and people start making bogeys.
Q. Grace, we all kind of know Se Ri Pak in 1998, but you were actually the first Korean player a lot of us ever worked with. In that sense you were also a pioneer. Maybe your thoughts about what you've seen in your career since you have been on the LPGA Tour?
GRACE PARK: It's amazing, the transformation, or I don't know what the word is, but the changes there have been since the '90's or early 2000. Just everything about it. Not just with the Korean players, but with American players, Europeans. The field is younger. The skills have really escalated. It's not just an American based Tour. It's a world-wide Tour now. Everything. I'm very glad that I was able to participate in this and also be recognized as one of the pioneers of Korean women's golf.
Q. How did you and your parents decide at age 12 to come over here since you were kind of the first to do that; just kind of talk about that decision?
GRACE PARK: Golf back in the 90's or 80's wasn't well known back in Korea. My parents became avid golfers, and they saw potential in me because I was such a great athlete, that they wanted to give me the best opportunities to learn English and pursue a golfing career. Opportunities that we had back in Korea was nothing compared to what was available in the states. Yes, they moved me. I came to Hawaii where I have some family members, lived with them for two years and the travel was too difficult going from Hawaii to the mainland. So I moved to Arizona in hopes of attending Arizona State University which had the best women's golf program in the country at the time. I moved there all alone when I was 14 years old, and I have been there ever since. The rest is history.
Q. Grace, I know you said you need some time to figure out what you like to, but do you see yourself being involved in an advisory roll with younger golfers as you say The TOUR now is global, and after you had some time to find yourself, do you see yourself being a mentor or an official in some capacity?
GRACE PARK: I would love to be. I'm not counting anything out. I don't know for sure, but I don't think I can be away from golf for very long. I might not be competing as a professional golfer, but I realize over the past 20 years that I did it because I love this game. Golf will always have a big part in my life, and I would like to, you know, one day have a roll -- have another golfing career beside a professional competitor.
MODERATOR: Grace, thank you so much for joining us. Thank you for all that you have done in your 13 years on the LPGA Tour and even better that, I shared with you the story I got to watch you in the 1998 U.S. Women's Amateur and I know, like myself, you inspired a lot of young girls to really love the game, and we will miss seeing you out here. Thank you again.
Q. What are you thinking right now after the way everything went last year and to be in this spot?
YANI TSENG: Just hopefully I can still play the next few days. It was a really tough day out there. I play so good the front 9. Didn't make any putts. It could be so much a better score today. And I didn't play well on the back 9. But I hung in there and I didn't give any shot. It was very disappointing but, hopefully, I will learn something from this two days and hopefully I get it back next time.
Q. What's the difficulty out there, for you and all of the golfers?
YANI TSENG: Yes, I think it's my mental. I did my best. I focus on every shot. The golf course is very tough and the rough is very thick. If you get in there it is really hard to save par from the rough.
Q. What was the biggest thing with those putts on the front 9 that you couldn't get them to drop?
YANI TSENG: I didn't read well. I putt good. I made some good strokes but didn't drop any putts. The first six holes I had inside 12 feet on every hole, and I didn't make anything. It was just hard to make par on this golf course. It's hard to shoot low score.
Q. Does it get more frustrating because you made it look so easy last year?
YANI TSENG: It is. I don't know how I shot 19-under last year. And it's really tough. I know the course is very different this year. I mean, I just keep telling myself be patient, be patient. It's a Major. Everybody is going to make bogey. It's okay. But I finish with 3-over today, I wasn't happy. I was kind of very sad. Like I say, hopefully, I can still play the next few days and try to get my feel back for the next two days.
Q. You are talking about things you said yesterday, you are frustrated because you felt you were hitting well on the range and mentally things don't come the way you want them to, that's been the last few starts, what do you think that is, or are you still trying to figure that out?
YANI TSENG: This morning on the front 9 I shot very well. I hit it in the front fairway, hit it in the green, keep very close to the pin but just didn't make a putt. But I mean I still finished 2-under on the front 9. It was pretty good. But the back 9 I struggled with my driving. I think very much it was my swing.
Q. You are never on the cut line, or you don't ever appear to be, what's it like for you to be sitting here waiting out a cut?
YANI TSENG: I know I told my caddy maybe we go play Oakhill tomorrow. It was tough because I don't know how many players needs to makes the cut. I will find out later. I don't want to see anybody play bad, but hopefully some people -- I'm still hoping to make the cut tomorrow.
Q. Do you see this as just sort of the normal ups and downs of golf?
YANI TSENG: It is normal. But I think I'm too far over. I was off these two days how I play. It should be much better. But the reason I feel better, maybe because Rory had three weeks cut in a row, if I didn't make it, maybe I will feel better too. But I learn something from this day. I will try to.
Q. You had so many responsibilities being No. 1 player, does that add to the tension if you will? It looks like you dealt with that pretty well, and that's not what's bothering you?
YANI TSENG: There is pressure there. There is still pressure but it's way far off.