U.S. Women's Open Championship
Pre-tournament notes and interviews
July 3 & 4, 2012
Meg Mallon, U.S. Solheim Cup Team Captain and Dottie Pepper, U.S. Solheim Cup Asst. Captain
Paula Creamer, Rolex Rankings No. 12 and 2010 U.S. Women's Open champion
Joe Goode, Martha Lang & Ben Kimball, United States Golf Association
Lexi Thompson, Rolex Rankings No. 23
Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 2
Se Ri Pak, Rolex Rankings No. 33 and 1998 U.S. Women's Open champion
Cristie Kerr, Rolex Rankings No. 8 and 2007 U.S. Women's Open champion
So Yeon Ryu, Rolex Rankings No. 20 and 2011 U.S. Women's Open champion
Michelle Wie, Rolex Rankings No. 40
Juli Inkster, Rolex Rankings No. 73 and 2002 U.S. Women's Open champion
Yani Tseng, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Level headed: Rolex Rankings No. 2 Stacy Lewis will be playing for her second major championship this week and third win in the 2012 season. Lewis currently ranks No. 1 in Rolex Player of the Year points and hopes to learn from the challenges she faced in last year's U.S. Women's Open at the Broadmoor.
"I think I look back to last year's U.S. Open and I was doing really well through about a round‑and‑a‑half," said Lewis. "And then kind of the middle of the tournament my attitude got in the way. I was kind of trying to force some things. I would get upset over some bad shots and kind of really get down on myself. So that's something I've been working on this year, is to stay a little bit more level, and especially at a U.S. Open you have to stay patient. So that's one thing I'll look to this week."
Lewis' improvements on her mental game have allowed her to take her game to the next level this season and became the top-ranked American in Rolex Rankings after her win at the ShopRite LPGA Classic. She said her consistency and ability to put four solids rounds together has led her to be in contention each week on Tour.
"I think that's what has helped me so far this year," said Lewis. "I think I played a lot more consistent because I just stayed more patient. You know you're going to hit a bad shot, especially on this golf course. You're probably going to hit one in a hazard. You're probably going to have one in the high grass. You're going to hit a bad shot. Just being okay with that and knowing I can come back and make some birdies after that."
Lewis knows what it takes to win a major as she made the leap into Poppie's Pond after winning the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship in Rancho Mirage, Calif. and knows that if every club in her bag is not on, the course will get the best of her.
"Well, a major you have to have every aspect of your game," said Lewis. "It tests every club in your bag. You have to hit wedges well, you have to hit 4‑irons good. Certain tournament weeks you don't have to hit your long irons so well because the golf course may be a little shorter, you have a lot of wedges, short irons. So the majors are a mental grind, and everything has to be spot‑on. If it's not, the golf course ‑‑ they will pull out your weaknesses for sure."
Still a kid at heart: Lexi Thompson has had the 'youngest player' tag on her for quite some time and for good reason. Thompson, who has accomplished so much at such a young age, is looking forward to bringing her earned experience to her sixth U.S. Open this week.
Thompson qualified for her first Open in 2007 at the age of 12, becoming the youngest player in history to ever do so. After two missed cuts in 2007 and 2008, Thompson finished T34 in 2009 at Saucon Valley Country Club and followed it up with a top-10 finish in 2010 at the vaunted Oakmont Country Club.
"I've just grown mentally," said Thompson. "I would say from my first Open, I've grown with length to just getting older. But mentally has been a big learning experience for me. So I think that's really important on the Open golf course."
Thompson can now be considered experienced when it comes to Opens, with five years under belt, but she still remembers the nerves that got to her that first tee shot back in 2007.
"The one thing I remember from that one Open is my first tee shot," said Thompson. "I teed off at 10. I was the most nervous I've ever been over a shot. My legs were shaking and everything. I ended up hitting a good tee shot.
"It was really exciting to be there," said Thompson. "I learned a lot. I learned by watching other players' games what I needed to improve on."
Thompson played with two 14-year old players in a practice round this week at Blackwolf Run and is impressed with the even younger generation that is following in her footsteps.
"It's pretty cool to see, just their games and how they got there," said Thompson. "They just have to play their own game and not focus on anybody else. That's what everybody does in the Open. You just have to play the golf course.
Although she may seem like a seasoned veteran to the youngsters in the field this week, Thompson says she's still a normal teenager at heart and will try to keep the pressure off herself in her pursuit of her first major championship.
"I'm still a little kid inside," said Thompson. "You still have to have fun off the golf course and on it. So just relax and not put any pressure on yourself."
American girls: Any American golfer can attest to having a dream of winning the U.S. Open Championship. Paula Creamer, the last American to win the national championship spoke on Wednesday about how she would love to keep the trophy in the States and how there's a national pride amongst the Americans to win.
"Of course," said Creamer. "I mean, you want an American to win the national championship."
But Creamer said she's not blind to the amount of international talent that threatens to take the title overseas.
"The competition is what it is right now," said Creamer. "There's a lot of great players from all over. They're pushing women's golf for everybody.
"Of course there's a little added pressure on the Americans to do well," said Creamer. "Every week there is. Being such a big and important event to all of us, it's the person who I guess in a sense doesn't put as much pressure on themself to do well that will be there."
Wardrobe function: The Solheim Cup provides some of the most exciting golf the game can provide and while the U.S. team wants to always play well, they want to look good too. Solheim Cup uniforms and outerwear always gives the fashion forward fan something to look forward to. U.S. Solheim Cup Team Captain Meg Mallon said wardrobe choices have been some of the first responsibilities she's taken on as captain.
"I've already been out for clothing, for rain gear," said Mallon. "Sunice and Antigua have been wonderful to work with. As funny as it sounds, clothing is a big deal. Players want to be comfortable, and it means a lot. So that's a tedious process, but a fun one as well."
Newly appointed Assistant Captain Dottie Pepper shared some insight on her white pants, blue paisley top combo she wore for the Wednesday morning press conference.
"I will share our first clothing issue from last night," said Pepper. "This was not on the radar this week, certainly. Meg said, 'what are you going to wear?' I said, 'I have a white shirt and some red pants.'"
Pepper figured she'd be in patriotic spirits on the 4th of July and representing her team's colors. But a flashback from the 1992 Solheim Cup made her do some wardrobe adjusting.
"I thought, 'Oh, great. For 4th of July, it's all patriotic. All you. Perfect,' said Pepper. I sent her a text last night and said, 'I'm rethinking this red pants thing.' And I said, 'remember in 1992 we lost and wearing red pants on Sunday?' And we all made a vow on that team to never wear red pants again when it came to the Solheim Cup. So I'm wearing white."
Fans can expect the U.S. squad to look great, but don't place your bets on any red bottoms
Emotional leader: Dottie Pepper was always known for being a fiery competitor while she played on the LPGA Tour, but at no time was that more apparent than when she played on the U.S. Solheim Cup Team. And now the 2013 U.S. Solheim Cup Team will get to experience that same passion and intensity.
U.S. Solheim Cup Captain Meg Mallon announced Wednesday during a press conference at the U.S. Women's Open that Pepper will be one of her assistant captains for the 2013 Solheim Cup.
"I'm so excited for Dottie," Mallon said. "Dottie and I have played our whole careers together, competed against each other, fought for each other on five Solheim Cups, five or six. I'm just thrilled to have her by my side."
Pepper got emotional during the announcement, shedding tears before even getting a chance to speak about her new role. It led to Mallon joking that Pepper was killing her and that she has "Nancy Lopez, Jr. to my right here." But there was no question that the appointment as an assistant captain meant a significant amount to Pepper, especially considering the backlash she received following a controversial comment that she made about the U.S. Team while broadcasting during the 2007 Solheim Cup.
"I don't know if there's a broadcaster in sports or even in sports themselves that hasn't said something that they don't regret saying, whether it was intended for air," Pepper said. "I reached out to that team immediately as soon as I knew it had happened. I reached out to the LPGA to get a message that they could put my head on a plate if they so cared to. I felt like I did the right thing. There was definitely a lot of hurt in both directions. I have had a number of players reach out to me. Some very upset, some not. Some with a bit of a joke in their voice. But there's not a day really that goes by that I don't regret that it happened. And we all learn. "
Quotable…"I've been there before. I know what it takes. I want it so bad. I want it more now than anything I've ever wanted it. As I said, I feel very mentally strong right now. And I think that's going to be the biggest difference." –Paula Creamer
Tweet of the Day: Goes to Ron Sirak on the announcement of newly appointed U.S. Solheim Cup Team Assistant Captain, Dottie Pepper.
"My take on Dottie Pepper being forgiven for her accidental on-air comment during 2007 Solheim Cup? It's about time!" --@ronsirak
The 67th annual U.S. Women's Open conducted by the USGA takes place at the vaunted Blackwolf Run Golf Course in Kohler, Wisconsin this week, marking the second time the course plays host to the major championship. The third of four majors this year, the field will feature 156 players competing for a $3.25 million purse and the season's largest first-place check at $585,000.
Fourteen years ago, the course saw one of the most epic finishes in U.S. Women's Open history. LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Famer Se Ri Pak became the youngest winner of the title in 1998 during her rookie season, outlasting amateur Jenny Chuasiriporn in a two-hole playoff. If the course wasn't intimidating then, it will be this year. With 6,984 yards of brand new bentgrass, the course it projected to play a bit firmer and faster. While it's more than 500 yards longer than it played in 1998, players will get some slack as it changes to a par-72 instead of 71.
Last year's U.S. Women's Open was played at the Broadmoor Country Club in Colorado Springs, Colo., where Rolex Rankings No. 20 So Yeon Ryu defeated fellow South Korean Hee Kyung Seo in the tournament's first-ever all-international playoff. Four straight days of delays due to weather made the final day seem long enough, and a three-hole sudden death playoff made it that much longer. The two travel to Kohler, WI. this week with hopes of being in contention again.
Experience matters? Of the 156 players in this week's field at the U.S. Women's Open, only nine competed when the event was last held at Blackwolf Run back in 1998. But for some of the players who took on this course 14 years ago, they are not sure if the extra experience is going to matter this week.
"All I remember about this golf course, it doesn't matter how many times you play, how long you spend time here, it doesn't really matter, I think. I remember it was so difficult," said Se Ri Pak, who won the U.S. Women's Open that year in a 20-hole playoff. "But whatever the USGA set up, the golf course is really hard. Especially this year, I guess, more the lengths ‑‑ the distance."
Yet some like Cristie Kerr, who finished 60th back in 1998, believe that knowing the holes and the previous setup of the course could provide an edge to the few players who competed here the first time around.
"I think it's definitely an advantage to have played here the last time to know where you can hit it, where you can't miss it and kind of overall how the course is going to play, how they move tees around," said Kerr, whose first U.S. Women's Open as a pro was at Blackwolf Run. "I remember hitting a 7‑iron into the 6th hole from up tee to the front right pin. I remember going for the seventh hole when they moved the tee way up, the par‑5 in 2, having a long bunker shot. Just things that you remember.
"I think that because I've been here before, I kind of know what to expect. And I have more of a comfort level certainly than I did in 1998."
The other players who were in the field in '98 that are playing again this week are: Isabelle Beiseigel (T36), Pat Hurst (T4), Juli Inkster (MC), Lorie Kane (T19), Catriona Matthew (MC), Wendy Ward (T19) and Karrie Webb (T31).
The Course Has Teeth: The U.S. Women's Open Championship historically has been considered one of golf's toughest tests and players on Tuesday in Kohler agreed. The course at Blackwolf Run has earned the reputation as a difficult track and the field this week will have to bring their A-games to post low numbers.
Se Ri Pak, the first player to record a U.S Open victory at Blackwolf Run says once players get out onto the course, hole-by-hole course management is essential.
"Every single hole you have to really plan the next shot," says Pak. "You don't have a chance for it. This golf course you really have to have course management, how you play this next shot, how ‑‑ second shot coming to the next shot. And on the green, from the fairway, bunker and rough. It's going to be tons of work to do. So today, I'll be going out for the first time in 14 years. It's going to be a lot more work for it. But I'm very excited about that."
Juli Inkster, who missed the cut back in 1998, attested to the tricky greens and how the winner of this event will need to have a hot putter all week.
"They're tough," said Inkster of the greens. "They're sneaky fast. You feel like it's the speed you want it and it gets there and then it just keeps rolling. Especially if you're going up and then over, it's really tough to judge the speed. So you're going to have a lot of 4, 5, 6‑footers for par. The winner of this tournament is going to make those."
Rolex Rankings No. 8 Cristie Kerr said that the setup in Kohler is the most challenging course she has ever played.
"I think it is," said Kerr. "It's just really demanding. It really doesn't let up. There's no easy birdie holes at all. There are really no give‑me holes here. That's when they say Blackwolf Run has teeth in it, it really does."
Feels Like Yesterday: 1998 U.S. Women's Open champion Se Ri Pak will have plenty of chances this week to relive some of the best memories from her career that came during her first-career major championship run 14 years ago at Blackwolf Run. The 25-time LPGA Tour winner says the memories are still fresh.
"It feels like yesterday," said Pak. "There aren't any big differences at all. One big difference is I'm a little bit older than last time I was here. That's the difference."
With some more years of experience under her belt this time around, Pak will try to bring the good vibes onto the course this week.
"I feel really special," said Pak. "Because you win the U.S. Open in '98 and came back 14 years later to the same golf course. I still play and I still play my game ‑‑ my game is not as perfect as a couple of years ago but I still feel great.
"My game is getting better every single week," said Pak. "But I guess I think my heart knows that this week is giving a lot of great momentum. I have a lot of energy. This week it doesn't matter good or bad, but I really want to be out here again. So I think that will make me successful again."
Advice from a Hero: Defending U.S. Women's Open champion So Yeon Ryu spoke on Tuesday about the influence of the 1998 Open at Blackwolf Run when compatriot Se Ri Pak became the first South Korean to win an LPGA major championship. She describes the event as the tournament that inspired her to pursue a career in professional golf.
"It's definitely 1998 U.S. Women's Open," said Ryu. "Definitely. That's a really big tournament. So that's why the last year when I won the U.S. Women's Open, Se Ri following the playoff. It was huge for me, because she's my hero. I was pretty inspired with the 1998 U.S. Open. So that moment is a really, really special thing for me."
Ryu said she has taken some advice from her hero on how to manage her preparation for this week and was surprised at the words of wisdom Pak gave her.
"Actually, it's really interesting that she said don't take too much practice at the golf course because sometimes too much information makes you crazy," said Ryu. "And I totally understand it, because when I came here for the first time at media day, almost one month ago, the first time I played the course, I didn't feel bad. But after that, the course feels like getting more tough and tough."
Ryu said she has been light on the practice this week but now knows that putting will be the key, something that Pak said she needs to focus on.
"I just decided to practice 9 holes and 9 holes, and that's it," said Ryu. "Se Ri said the putting is really important. So I focused on the speed at the putting green. Anyway, Se Ri said keep the expectations low. No more practice at the golf course. Just trust yourself. So I will."
Open Tested: LPGA Tour veteran and career-grand slam winner Juli Inkster will be playing in her 33rd U.S. Women's Open this week, tying the record for most appearances by an Open champion. Only Marlene Hagge has competed in more U.S. Opens and a national championship to her name. Inkster calls the event 'the ultimate golf tournament.'
"It's a test not only of your physical skills but your mental skills," said Inkster. "So, you know, as far as me, it's the tournament of the year. I had elbow surgery in January, and I really worked hard to get back to try to be able to play the Open. So that was my goal."
Inkster said it's truly her love for the game that keeps her going after all of these years and that the milestone doesn't make her feel hold, but accomplished.
"Well, I feel great," said Inkster. "It's just longevity. I play because I love the game, and I think a lot of it is because I did start late playing golf. And I was never really pressured into playing golf. I just played golf because I loved it. Thirty years later I still love it. That's why I play."
What's Going On? Yani Tseng enters this week's U.S. Women's Open with yet another opportunity to complete what is considered one of the prestigious honors in golf - the career Grand Slam. Tseng, who last year at the RICOH Women's British Open became the youngest golfer - male or female - to capture five major titles, is missing just one major on her already impressive resume and it's the U.S. Women's Open.
But Tseng is entering this week in the midst of a rough patch. After starting the year with eight straight top-10 finishes, Tseng has struggled in recent weeks. She finished 12th at the ShopRite LPGA Classic, 59th at the Wegmans LPGA Championship and missed first cut since the 2011 Avnet LPGA Classic at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G last week.
When asked what she thought the problem was recently with her game, Tseng didn't hesitate to say it hasn't been her swing that's troubled her.
"It's more about the mental things," Tseng said. "Because my coach Gary Gilrit was here with me like these couple of weeks. He said even my swing now can win in the tournament. So it must be my mental. Because sometimes when I start on tee I still worry about if my ball is going to hit right or left.
"But I feel good this week, actually. I feel very good. I feel very peaceful, and thankful for playing the Open. There's so many I can achieve. The past year how much I've done to winning many tournaments and winning lots of things, it's very thankful for this."
So with Tseng feeling good this week, the question was asked: Is the career Grand Slam on her mind?
"Of course," Tseng said. " It's hard to not think about, because everybody is talking about it. But like I say, I'm not worried about what's my result this week, because I just going to have fun. To have fun and enjoy the Open. It's very different than the other tournaments. Enjoy the golf course. There's a big crowd here. It's really hard but I try to not think about a result and just think about the process. I think that's the most important thing for me this week."
Patience is a Virtue: Michelle Wie has become accustomed to doing things in a hurry. That's what happens when you have to juggle a career on the LPGA Tour with the demands of pursuing a college degree at Stanford University. But now that Wie has officially graduated with a degree in communications from the prestigious university, she acknowledges that she's had to adjust to the additional time on her hands for her golf game.
"I'm still learning how to not to rush," Wie said. "I still find myself when I practice, I just go, go, go, go and not really rest because I feel I have to be somewhere or do things at a quicker pace. I'm just learning to take my time. I do have all day [to practice], which is really nice."
Slowing things down seems especially important at an event like the U.S. Women's Open, which many consider to be one of the toughest tests in golf and a week that will try the patience of even the most veteran golfer. So it's no surprise that's a message her coach, David Leadbetter, has stressed to her for this tournament.
"I think it's just my nature to be impatient and to try to do everything fast," Wie said. "Like you said, this week is the U.S. Open week. David has always told me walk slower, do everything slower. It's a long ‑‑ it's not a race. It's a marathon here. It's going to take a long time, and just got to take your time, be patient. Also, because it is a long golf course, it takes a lot of energy out of you. You kind of have to conservative that and be aware of that as well."
Wie's career best finish in the U.S. Women's Open came in 2006 when she finished third in 2006, competing as an amateur.
Quotable… "It's been one of those tough kind of years. But I see it as an opportunity. When you're playing this bad, it can really define who you are. I want to become someone that gets through it and becomes a stronger person because of it. And I'm trying really hard. I'm practicing really hard. And the more ‑‑ I feel like the longer this has become, the more I want it. So I think this is a good week to turn things around, and I'm just going to prove to myself that I can do it." -Michelle Wie
KRAIG KANN: Good morning, everybody. My name is Kraig Kann, Chief Communications Officer for the LPGA Tour. Happy 4th of July. And thank you very much for coming this morning. As the best in women's golf takes center stage in a whole lot of ways at one of golf's biggest and very best events, we welcome you to the United States Woman's Open.
I'm joined by the American Solheim Cup captain, Meg Mallon, to my immediate right. Also joined by six-time Solheim Cup team member for the United States, Dottie Pepper is here as well.
The matches are set for August 13-18 in Parker, Colorado, outside Denver at Colorado Golf Club. That is next year, 2013, the 13th edition of the Solheim Cup which is currently in the hands of Team Europe.
Before we begin, I want to say a special thank you very much to the United States Golf Association for allowing us this time and this stage this morning. This is a big platform, we understand. We are glad to be able to share this news with you today here at this event.
This is also a very big week for the women players, double points to qualify for the Solheim Cup team. So I want to get that out here. Without further adieu, Meg, the stage is yours. And I know you have an announcement.
MEG MALLON: Actually, I was just going to announce that eight years ago today I won the U.S. Open. I don't know if you all remember that.
KRAIG KANN: Thank you all for being here.
MEG MALLON: I appreciate that. Obviously I'm thrilled and excited to announce my first assistant captain for the 2013 Solheim Cup at Colorado Golf Club as Miss Dottie Pepper.
Who is crying already. She's killing me. She's going to kill me. I have Nancy Lopez, Jr. to my right here. This has been a great process talking to Dottie about becoming the assistant. As you know, when I was announced as captain, I talked about Dottie's role in the Solheim Cup and how important that is and how important I feel that is. I feel that Dottie will be a captain some day and also strongly feel that if you're a captain, especially as big as the Solheim Cup has become, that it's important to be an assistant and be a part of the process.
I'm so excited for Dottie. Dottie and I have played our whole careers together, competed against each other, fought for each other on five Solheim Cups, five or six. I'm just thrilled to have her by my side. I'm going to -- this is Dottie's stage today, so I'm going to let her tell you how she feels, if she can get it out of her mouth right now. But I appreciate you all being here. It's just exciting. Thanks again to the USGA for allowing us to do this special announcement.
DOTTIE PEPPER: Thank you. Thank you all for coming on quick response. This was definitely not planned for this week, to the point that she said to me what are you going to wear? I said, I don't know. I wasn't really -- this was definitely not on the agenda. Although we did speak last week and we've been speaking for a few months, actually. And I don't think anyone really knew. Meg had talked to a few of the players, potential players, past players, and I'm thrilled to be able to reconnect with them, reconnect with the LPGA in an event that obviously matters a lot, mattered a lot to me. I went back, looking -- crossing lines about our careers. And I remember back in the mid-80s when I was at Furman in the spring we always hosted the Ladies College Invitational, and Ohio State always came down, and we always felt so badly for them because the weather was horrible. It snowed, rained, some combination of the other or it was so hot that Meg was as red as her shirt by the time she left because they hadn't seen good weather in so long.
And then we ended up winning our first LPGA events at the same event, at the Oldsmobile Classic. So the connection goes way way back, and of course, five Solheim Cup teams beginning in 1992. We were book-end losses. So we got to really enjoy the middle and learn from the book-ends. I think that's what I hope I can bring to that team is the things that we learned from both sides of giving the Cup away, getting it back, giving it away, getting it back and hopefully certainly getting it back again.
I told her yesterday that I'm -- what can Brown do for you? I'm the UPS man here. I'm about logistics and trying to make her job easier and putting out whatever fires I can to make her job as being captain as easy as possible and to be able to run anything by me and bounce it off and her to ultimately make the decisions. But to just have, I don't know, somebody who is kind of particular about stats. I feel like I do my homework, and maybe that can help us put the best team forward a year from August. Thank you, by the way, it will be my 48th birthday present Saturday of the matches. Early birthday present for me. Thank you.
MEG MALLON: Nice try.
DOTTIE PEPPER: 48th?
MEG MALLON: Nice try.
KRAIG KANN: We're going to take some questions obviously from the audience. I want to ask, before we do that, the first one to you, Meg, obviously we're seeing some emotion shockingly from Dottie. It's really not what I was expecting to see. I don't know about the folks out here. What do you feel like she's going to add? She said stats and so forth. I don't think she's going to be mailing letters and doing that. But she brings a lot to the table. When you made this choice, why?
MEG MALLON: Well, I'm no dummy. Dottie and I balance each other out very nicely. I'm more of a big-picture person. And Dottie is great on the details and very organized and also has a great knowledge of the golf course, which is going to be helpful as well.
We balance each other very well, and I think as a team and how the team will look at us they'll see the whole package. And that's what I wanted out of my assistants. She's going to fit that role very well.
KRAIG KANN: Dottie, I want to ask you a question that I'm guessing is going to come your way anyway. So I'm going to ask it to you. This is something that will probably be discussed a little bit in the media, as I'm sure you can imagine. Your comments broadcasting the Solheim Cup back in 2007 caused quite a stir. And there were some comments that were not intended for air that did. Have you cleared the air in regard to that? And how do you feel about that issue as it pertains to you being the captain assistant?
DOTTIE PEPPER: I'm going to take Meg's broad-brush stroke and big picture. I don't know if there's a broadcaster in sports or even in sports themselves that hasn't said something that they don't regret saying, whether it's it was intended for air. I reached out to that team immediately as soon as I knew it had happened. I reached out to the LPGA to get a message that they could put my head on a plate if they so cared to. I felt like I did the right thing. There was definitely a lot of hurt in both directions. I have had a number of players reach out to me. Some very upset, some not. Some with a bit of a joke in their voice. But there's not a day really that goes by that I don't regret that it happened. And we all learn.
MEG MALLON: Well, and that being said, I just felt it was enough. I wasn't on that 2007 team, but I was there when it happened. I saw the hurt on the players' faces. When I got home and I listened to the telecast, knowing Dottie as long as I've known her, it just was Dottie in her passion and her passion for the game and her passion for the Solheim Cup. I know it wasn't out of ill will by any part. That's where I feel like Dottie needed to stop carrying this burden around. And that she needs to be a part of this event, and these players need to get to know the Dottie that I know.
KRAIG KANN: Some red, white and blue passion will definitely be there next year. Let's take some questions from the audience. We'll try to get the microphone to you all.
Q. Congratulations. Given the incident in 2007, was there a part of you that thought this day might not ever come where you would be asked to be an assistant?
DOTTIE PEPPER: Yeah. Certainly. I don't think you could not. I told Tim Rosaforte back in January after the subject came back up again after Meg's announcement of being captain the possibility, the thoughts that were popped around that I had kind of made good with it a long time ago that, hey, I screwed up. The guy on the switch screwed up. We all screwed up. And that if that was the way it was going to be, that was the way it was going to be. I couldn't change that.
Q. Dottie, your obvious emotions of being elected and talking about your career paralleling Meg's, does that indicate how much you miss playing the game?
DOTTIE PEPPER: I miss playing good golf. I can tell you that. Not missing it so much. Certainly looking at this golf course. Not so much.
I feel like I have -- I'm still getting so much out of the game that's given me so much that that was only a very small part of it. And being able to do this, being able to do my job in television and being able to reconnect with the LPGA, as I said, makes me not miss playing. But again, I miss playing good golf. But I'm a 9 and diner now. Thank you very much.
Q. Let's try and lighten the mood a little here. Dottie, I want to ask you if it's at all possible we might see a renewal of interest in the Europeans marketing a Dottie Pepper punching bag.
DOTTIE PEPPER: We can provide that.
Q. From the '98 match. Second of all, and maybe both can speak to this, and that is just your favorite memories of Solheim Cup, Dottie, just you playing and Meg, you playing with Dottie.
DOTTIE PEPPER: Oh, gosh. We were never partners. Not once.
MEG MALLON: Dottie always got to pick her own partners. I got thrown with everybody. Put Meg with them. Meg will play with them.
DOTTIE PEPPER: Actually Brandie Burton picked me and I was stuck with her from there on in. Gladly. I think one of my favorite memories was watching you, actually, at Muirfield Village being she went to Ohio State and to have the matches played there. I know it was moving for you. There was a football game on Saturday, and it didn't impact attendance one ounce. That was pretty special. And again, that particular match in '98 watching my partner, Brandie Burton, try to hit a shot she had no business hitting at the 11th, par-5 and falling into the creek.
We were actually texting back and forth last night, and she asked me what one of my best memories was. I said it wasn't actually a best memory but it's sticking because she smelled so bad. When she got out of that creek, it was just horrible.
MEG MALLON: Yeah. This is why I want Dottie back into the fold as well. She arguably was the face of the Solheim Cup in the 90s. And carried that, carried it very well and wore her red, white and blue on her sleeve and unabashedly patriotic, which was fantastic.
Nine Solheim Cups I've been a part of. It's so many great memories for everyone. That's why I love watching it through the young players' eyes and seeing that, and I can't wait for Dottie to be in that locker room and see it from that perspective, to remember what that was like representing your country. So each and every one of them have been special. Obviously it's a lot more fun to win, but when we lost, we had a good time too. At the end of the day we shook hands with the Europeans and had a great time. That's what the Solheim Cup event is all about. That's what the Solheims wanted it to be.
KRAIG KANN: Dottie, you worked for NBC Sports and you'll be working this week. How does that come into play? How will your work with NBC potentially, will it hamper you in seeing players? How do you balance that?
DOTTIE PEPPER: When Meg and I spoke on Friday, I said, I would love to do this, but I can't tell you yes now, because I had -- I have bosses I needed to clear this with. We're all in the middle of contract renegotiations and schedules that may change.
It's certainly my intent to be around the LPGA and the bigger events next year, not only from a broadcast standpoint, but also from an extra set of eyes for Meg. So one of the first text phone calls I made was to Tommy Roy, who happened to be in Omaha for the Olympics trials which were going from 11 a.m. to 10:00 every day. And also to Molly Solomon at Golf Channel. I needed to run this by both of them.
They iced me for a day and a half. Mostly because Molly is moving into a new house in Orlando with triplets. They had just finished their school pre-clearance for the fall. Tommy was up and at 'em odd hours through Omaha and Michael Phelps locking in all that other great stuff that was going on. So when they did call me back on Sunday, the reaction -- I think I had to peel them both off the roof, they were so excited. They were just ecstatic supportive. And they said, whatever you need to do, we'll figure it out. So I called Meg right away and said I'm in.
There were a few things I saw online last night. And I see Judy Rankin in the back of the room, and the question was can anyone really balance being a broadcaster and being a captain, assistant captain, whatever it is. I say absolutely, and I went back last night and looked for examples. And the one that -- one particular -- obviously Judy did it twice working for ABC and ESPN. Dave Marr did it in 1981 working for an American Broadcasting Company.
I'm going to continue to broadcast the same way I've always done, do my homework and just staying with the numbers and my gut tells me. I know Judy Rankin made me better because she always said it in a nicer way maybe than I do sometimes. If she told you you didn't chip very well, you didn't chip very well. And she had a reason to say that.
I will continue to do that. Part of my homework. I think -- I hope it will make the team better. And also the experience I've had working now so many Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups I've seen some things from behind the scenes that I think will help our team, will help Meg and maybe ease out a few speed bumps and make them go away completely. Whether it be a wardrobe malfunctions or whatever. I've seen a lot over the last eight years now, and I hope that can help.
KRAIG KANN: Other questions?
Q. I was wondering if anybody had been in contact with the course in Parker and whether they were affected by the wildfires at all?
MEG MALLON: I have talked to them. They have not been affected. They are getting a lot of smoke. It's more Colorado Springs, obviously. Parker is about a half hour south of Denver. So they are getting some smoke effect, but that's about it. Fingers crossed on that one and that that all gets taken care of.
KRAIG KANN: It should be known also we'll be out there in August with for a media opportunity for the European side and from the American side Meg will be there and I believe Dottie will be there as well. As we try to ramp up the support and get ready for 2013. Other questions?
Let me just run down the American side, get maybe your perspective on where the team is. I know we're a long way off. It might add some perspective to your jobs over the next few months. Stacy Lewis is at the top, Angela Stanford, Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer tied for 5th, Brittany Lang and Brittany Lincicome. Morgan Pressel is 7th, Katie Futcher eighth; and tied for tenth right now, Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson.
MEG MALLON: Okay. Let's go.
KRAIG KANN: What are your thoughts on the American side and your preparation? How much have you been talking to players at this point? Can you give us an update?
MEG MALLON: As you said, the first year is double points and majors and not as much as it is for next year. But that being said, it's a short year next year. The Solheim Cup is in August, not in September, so there's fewer events to qualify. Mike says he's going to get a lot more events on the schedule.
DOTTIE PEPPER: We don't have to worry about the points.
MEG MALLON: I really like how it's shaping up. I love American women's golf right now. I think it's outstanding. The players that are coming up, the names that are coming up, the players that are coming up to me and saying I want to make the team so bad. I love the enthusiasm, and it looks good. It looks really good. I think we're going to have a tough decision in August in our picks because I think we're going to have a lot of players playing well at that point. That's a good problem to have.
KRAIG KANN: What's been your biggest challenge thus far? Is there any sense of complacency because it's a long way off? Or do you feel like you're busy every day thinking of this?
MEG MALLON: It's busy every day. The points come out. There's a lot going on behind the scenes which I'll start introducing Dottie to. We have conference calls every couple of weeks. I've already been out for clothing, for rain gear. Sunice and Antiqua have been wonderful to work with. As funny as it sounds, clothing is a big deal. Players want to be comfortable, and it means a lot. So that's a tedious process, but a fun one as well. So it's just things like that, the preparation things that -- so that by the time the week comes, everything is done. So the players don't have to worry about a thing, but just to play golf and that we've done our job and been prepared for them. That's basically what we do for the next year.
KRAIG KANN: Chance for a last couple of questions? Anybody? All right. I'll allow you each a final statement. Dottie, I'll start with you. What's your first thing you're going to do now that this is official?
DOTTIE PEPPER: I'm going to go check the timeline on Randall Bell's tweets because I'm darn sure he was the first one to put something out.
MEG MALLON: Sorry.
DOTTIE PEPPER: I really haven't thought about it. This was my timeline ending today. We'll start again. I'm just thrilled.
I will share our first clothing issue from last night. We weren't supposed -- this was not on the radar this week, certainly. Meg said, what are you going to wear? I said, I have a white shirt and some red pants.
Oh, great. For 4th of July, it's all patriotic. All you. Perfect. I sent her a text last night and said, I'm rethinking this red pants thing. And I said, remember in 1992 we lost and wearing red pants on Sunday? And we all made a vow on that team to never wear red pants again when it came to the Solheim Cup. So I'm wearing white.
MEG MALLON: That's carried through, too. We have not worn red since 1992. It's been fairly successful with that. I'm thrilled. My team is starting to come together. And with Dottie, obviously it's a big piece of the puzzle. I'm not going to announce my next assistant until the end of this year, the beginning of next year. I just want to see how everything plays out this year. I'm just thrilled. This is a big piece of the puzzle for me. I've got a great team.
I've got my cart driver Danny Dan who is going to be with me the whole time.
KRAIG KANN: So that's an official selection? You've made that?
MEG MALLON: That was my first selection. No offense, Dottie. The Danny Dan job is important.
DOTTIE PEPPER: Danny is no rookie.
MEG MALLON: No, he's been on the cart for a long time. I have a lot of support. I want to make sure all the past Solheim Cup players are involved in this event; past captains. Hall-of-Famers. I want a big presence from our tour. I want our players to see their past and why they're here today.
KRAIG KANN: It's interesting because Dottie always got to pick her partners. You just took what was left apparently according to what you said earlier. Now the tables are turned and you actually picked Dottie. Thanks very much for being here. Thank you to the USGA. Thank you all for coming. We appreciate it, and we will see you in 2013 or in August outside Denver. Thanks very much. Have a great day, everybody.
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, Paula Creamer is our 2010 United States Women's Open champion, and we're pleased to have her with us today. She won on a heroic golf course, Oakmont Country Club. I'm sure she's replayed that many times in her mind. We have another big golf course this week, Paula. Very big. Blackwolf Run. What do you think it's going to take to win here?
PAULA CREAMER: I think the best putter will win this week. Off the tee, it's not very difficult. It's not really -- you don't have to think very much with certain shots. I think it's more of the approach shot into greens. These are probably the biggest greens I think I've ever played. And there are so many undulations. Being able to control your distance with your irons and your long clubs is really going to be where it's at.
I'm sure the USGA is going to make pin placements difficult. There's so many tee boxes out here that they can do what they want with the golf course. But I'm really looking forward to it. It's in good shape. The greens are rolling so pure, and I'm excited for tomorrow's start.
THE MODERATOR: You were the 36-hole leader, I believe, in the LPGA Championship. You finished ninth. Excuse me. You're poised right on the edge of playing some really good golf. What is it going to take for you to cross that line?
CREAMER: You know, I am starting to play a lot better. I'm getting more and more comfortable out on the golf course with the changes I've been making. It's really just a confidence thing in that I love being in contention. There's nothing better than having putts to move up the leaderboard and whatnot. It's just putting four good days together. This is a major championship. You have to take it hole by hole, shot by shot, the old cliché of that. But in reality, that's what you have to do out here. And I think whoever is going to be the mentally toughest as well is going to come out on top.
I've been there before. I know what it takes. I want it so bad. I want it more now than anything I've ever wanted it. As I said, I feel very mentally strong right now. And I think that's going to be the biggest difference.
Q. So which course is more difficult? This one or Oakmont, and why?
PAULA CREAMER: To me they remind me a lot of each other. You can see all the holes, that kind of thing, undulations. I think Oakmont, they're different but they're similar, the rolling hills, that kind of look. The greens, I think, at Oakmont were trickier because the breaks were so much bigger. I mean, when you looked at a putt, it was six feet left-to-right. When you're here there's left-to-right, right-to-left and left-to-right in all these putts. It's different in imagination type-wise. Oakmont just in itself is a very difficult golf course. I think the USGA will make this one a difficult golf course with how they set it up.
Q. I just want to get some of your thoughts and feelings about the U.S. Open. What makes it different from anything else you play and how does it fit into your year? What do you feel about it?
PAULA CREAMER: Goodness. This is by far one of my favorite tournaments, besides Solheim Cup and representing my country, playing my national championship. This is it. This is the week where it doesn't matter where you're from, you want to play in this. You want to get into it. You want to qualify. No matter what age you are, you want to be here. It's the best players in the world. The fact that it is your national championship, you always want to play well. And just the excitement, the nerves that you go through. There's nothing more than this week.
To have your name on that trophy with all those players, it's such an honor in a sense, to know that you've beat the best players in the world and you had four good days of golf. There's really nothing that can compare to that.
Q. Paula, being that this is the national championship, is there any national pride amongst American golfers to win this thing again, given what the foreign players have done, not only in this tournament recently, but in most of the Majors?
PAULA CREAMER: Of course. I mean, you want an American to win the national championship. Of course. The competition is what it is right now. There's a lot of great players from all over. They're pushing women's golf for everybody.
Of course there's a little added pressure on the Americans to do well. Every week there is. Being such a big and important event to all of us, it's the person who I guess in a sense doesn't put as much pressure on themself to do well that will be there.
Q. Hey, Paula, you talked about mental toughness a moment ago. How much does that factor in with the weather you guys are going to experience over the next few days?
PAULA CREAMER: It is hot. It is very hot out there. It's muggy. Being hydrated and taking care of yourself is going to be a huge factor. It's just such a mental grind in itself being out there, and the fact when you add all these other elements to it and delays and whatnot. Hopefully we don't get any. This would be nice. We already had one. That's a typical U.S. Open.
It is. It's going to be draining. People who are fit, it's going to help out a little bit better. Being able to prepare your body. I've been drinking so much water. But living in Florida helps too. I'm used to practicing in this heat. Last week was hot, so it was kind of a good warmup going into this week.
Q. Paula, Dottie was just named assistant captain. Can I get your comments on that?
PAULA CREAMER: I'm really looking forward to it. I never got to play with her. She was -- I think retired the year before I came out here. I don't know her as a player. I know her as an announcer. I have complete 100% faith in our captain's choice. To have Dottie be there, she's red, white and blue. It's going to be a pretty motivating team room. I'm looking forward to picking her brain on how it is to be so competitive and feisty and learn also things from her as well -- not only that, but become a friend too.
THE MODERATOR: About two-and-a-half years ago you had a real problem with your thumb. You had to have surgery. It was a long recuperation. It was before you won the Women's Open. How much of an issue is your thumb today?
PAULA CREAMER: My thumb, it feels good. I've been able to do everything that I've wanted to do. It's hard when the grass is really tight, but here I'm okay. Divots aren't huge, things like that. It will always be a part of my life. It's not going to go away by any means. I don't have much pain and I'm good.
THE MODERATOR: Do you have to ice it down or anything before you play?
PAULA CREAMER: No, not anymore. I did a couple of months ago when I was hitting a ton of golf balls. But I'm okay now.
Q. First women's major in Wisconsin a number of years. How has the women's game changed over the last 10 or 12 years? Is it diversity? What have you seen?
PAULA CREAMER: Ten years -- I was 15. It's pretty much the same girls I've been growing up with now. I didn't play get to play in the Open when it was here. But I've just seen so many -- just the resources that we had when I was 15 until now, equipment, golf balls, everything. Anything going from how we look at our golf swings on V-1, things like that. It has been -- you've been able to do so much more. Nutrition, fitness, all of that is really change. We're more athletes now. I think that's a big difference. Not that they weren't then. We've taken another step to our health and our bodies and being able to prevent injuries, things like that. I would say that would be the biggest difference in what I've seen.
Q. There are 13-year-olds in this field. There's a 14-year-old in the men's Open field. What do you make of that? What do you think that portends for golf?
PAULA CREAMER: They're the future, really. I do a lot with The First Tee. I see a lot of 10, 11, 12, 13-year-olds that are so good, so talented. They're the future of either the women's or the men's golf. I try to support that as much as I possibly can.
At the same time you also have to remember it's a game. It's a marathon. It's not a sprint. It's something that you can have for the rest of your life. It's very important to I think have a balance.
There's a lot of stories in women's golf and men's golf and the people who just really know how to be a person off the golf course and on the golf course are the ones that are going to last for a long time.
THE MODERATOR: What do you like to do off the golf course?
PAULA CREAMER: Goodness. I don't really have much time off the golf course. I have a puppy now. I have a little dog that I get to take care of and I guess be a mom to my little dog.
But I just like being able to spend time with my family. I had a big loss this year with my grandpa passing away. For me it's been really kind of a wake-up call to just being a person and being -- golf is my life, it's my passion, but there's a lot of other things I want to do as well. I need to remember that. I think one of the greatest stories of the year is Mel Reid and what she has gone through. I think that is so impressive what she did. You put everything into perspective and we're so lucky we're able to go out and play this great game, but at the end of the day you're still a person.
THE MODERATOR: The key question of the day, what kind of dog is it and what's his name?
PAULA CREAMER: His name is Studley.
THE MODERATOR: And what kind of a dog?
PAULA CREAMER: A Coton. A cotton dog. Everybody wants to know about my dog? It's like a Maltese or a Bichon.
JOE GOODE: Good morning, everyone. And a very happy 4th of July. My name is Joe Goode and I'm the managing director of communications for the United States Golf Association. I would like to welcome you to Blackwolf Run here in Kohler, Wisconsin for the 67th U.S. Women's Open Championship. It's been 14 years since the USGA last conducted a Woman's Open here at Blackwolf Run, and we're excited to be back. All of us at the USGA take great pride in having the opportunity to welcome the golf industry, the players, the corporate partners, the media and fans from around the world this week. We're proud to celebrate especially through the Women's Open the diversity of this great game, showcasing the beauty of the original championship course here at Kohler and witness the game's best players as they compete in golf's toughest test.
The U.S. Women's Open has been conducted annually since 1946. And a list of champions is a veritable who's who of the names from around the world. Since the first championship won by the great Patty Berg the USGA has fully embraced the Women's Open as an opportunity to make the game we all love more welcoming and more inclusive. Over the course of this morning's news conference, we'll provide an update on the USGA's efforts to sustain the game. Our preparations for the 2012 U.S. Women's Open and a review of some of the course features that are sure to challenge the field of 156 competitors. It's now my pleasure to introduce Martha Lang, chairman of the USGA's women's committee.
MARTHA LANG: Thanks, Joe. Good morning, everyone. It's a pleasure for the USGA to be back at Blackwolf Run for this Women's Open. I'm just pleased to be joined by Ben Kimball, director of the Women's Open Championship. Before I comment on the state of the women's game, I would like to make a few comments. First, I would like to take this opportunity to remember a woman who was very special to the USGA and a passionate and tireless ambassador for women's golf, especially the Women's Open. Barbara Douglas, my predecessor as Women's Committee Chairman, passed away in January after a long and valiant battle with cancer. She refused to let her diagnosis get between her and the game that she loved so much. She scheduled her treatments around her committee duties and not the other way around. I was honored to call her my friend and she is greatly missed this year at the Women's Open.
I would also like to direct our thoughts and prayers to Colorado Springs, the site of last year's Women Open at The Broadmoor. The region continues to battle fierce wildfires that have scorched homes and businesses and sent tens of thousands of people from Colorado Springs and other communities. It's a very difficult time for the community and we want to acknowledge our support for them.
At the USGA our 2012 championship season kicked off in June with the 37th Curtis Cup match. It was at Nairn Golf Club in Scotland, and we congratulate the team from Great Britain and Ireland for their spirited win, and we look forward to 2014 at the rematch at St. Louis Country Club.
Most recently we've added Webb Simpson as our U.S. Open champion and Kyung Kim as Women's Amateur Public Links Champion. We look forward to adding to that roster this week at the Women's Open. United States Golf Association has promoted women's golf since 1895 when it hosted the first U.S. Women's Amateur, one year after the association was founded. Today this legacy supports remains strong with USGA conducting six championships especially for women, including the Women's Open, which set a new record for entries with 1364 this year. The 2012 Women's Open field includes a long list of great players with widespread and diverse backgrounds from 13-year-old Angel Yin to 52-year-old Juli Inkster, who has won the championship twice and is competing in her 33rd championship. This will tie her with Marlene Hagge for the most appearances in championship history. Juli is also one of 27 USGA champions in the field.
We're excited to return to Blackwolf Run. This was the site of one of our most dramatic championships in Women's Open history. It took a grueling five days and 92 holes to crown the champion Se Ri Pak, capturing the championship over Jenny Chuasiriporn and forever changing the face of golf in America. The globalization of women's -- of the women's game particularly in Korea can be directly tied to Se Ri's victory here at Blackwolf Run. In 1998 there were three Koreans in the field. This year we have 28 Koreans competing for our championship. Since 1998 there have also been four Women's Open champions from Korea, including our defending champion So Yeon Ryu. Many of these talented women can identify July 6th, 1998 as the moment they realized that they had the chance to play golf in the United States. The USGA is proud to be a part of that moment. Today the Women's Open field reflects a more diverse game with players representing 25 countries, including a very talented roster from the United States. Through the Women's Open, the USGA continues to commit to playing a meaningful role in promoting golf in and around the world. As part of the five-year strategic plan led by executive director Mike Davis and the USGA staff, we continue to work to make the game more welcoming to women, minorities and juniors. As one example, we are actively supporting the games like Get Golf Ready, a grassroots partnership initiative with the PGA of America that teaches the basics that an individual needs to know to play golf in just a few short lessons. The program has proven itself particularly successful in exposing women and minorities to the game with women totaling 60% of all the total program participants and ethnic diverse individuals making up 29%.
As further commitment to the opening of the game to new and emerging markets, our 2012 U.S. Open host championship site, the Olympic Club, will play co-host to the U.S.-China youth golf match. This match which will be played in August is a collaborative effort by the United States Golf Association and the China Golf Association and reflects the USGA's mission to promote the game in a larger way. We're also very proud of our partnership with the LPGA and the collective support for our LPGA-USGA girls' golf program further exhibiting the USGA's longstanding dedication to introducing the game to young women.
Since 1989, this program has grown from 15 sites to more than 240 sites throughout the United States. Girls-only teaching environment allows girls age 7 to 17 play golf in a fun environment, build lasting friendships and prepare for a lifetime of enjoyment of the game. We are proud to debut for you today a public service announcement in support of the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf. The two organizations have worked together to conceive and produce this PSA, which will subsequently be aired on the LPGA tournament broadcasts and be made available for other promotional uses following the USGA Women's Open broadcast debut on NBC and ESPN. Let's watch this PSA.
(PSA Played in Media Center).
MARTHA LANG: In addition to this new creation, we are pleased to have contributed $200,000 in 2012 to continue the success of girls' golf, which has reached more than 90,000 girls since its founding with approximately 10,000 girls participating this year. Finally, we remain strongly committed to Tee It Forward, an initiative that was developed with support of the PGA of America. After a successful pilot last summer, tens of thousands of golfers are now playing from tees more suited to the distance they actually drive the ball, saving time and making the game more fun. Today we are promoting Tee It Forward year-round. USGA has begun to work with state and regional golf associations around the country to promote its use and effect a long-term change in playing habits that will ultimately strengthen the game. We are very thankful to the LPGA Tour and the players for their aid in promoting these initiatives that are vital to the USGA mission.
Paula Creamer, the 2010 Women's Open champion is a passionate ambassador of Tee It Forward, along with Dustin Johnson and Jack Nicklaus. We are very pleased to have 2005 Women's Amateur Champion Morgan Pressel join our support of girl' golf as the national ambassador earlier this year.
In short, the USGA is devoted to sustaining the game we all love for current players and for future generations of golfers. On behalf of the women's committee, I thank all of our associated organizations for their support. Thank you very much. At this time I would like to turn it over to Ben Kimball, the director of the Women's Open.
BEN KIMBALL: Thank you very much, Martha. Happy 4th of July to everyone. We are indeed glad to be back at Blackwolf Run. Wisconsin is certainly taking center stage in the golf community this week and the courses are a great part of that run. Along with the two championships here at Blackwolf Run, Whistling Straits hosted the 2007 U.S. Senior Open as well as two PGA Championships in the last eight years and another up coming in 2015. Combined with the 2020 Ryder Cup at the Straits as well as the 2015 U.S. Open and two past U.S. Championships at Erin Hills, it's a good time to visit the state of Wisconsin if you're a golf fan.
I have had several visits to Blackwolf Run and have worked very, very closely with Michael Lee, manager of golf course maintenance and his staff who have done a wonderful job in preparing this golf course for this national championship.
We see it as a very, very stern test for the very best with the game this week. There are a few key areas that will be very interesting to follow during the competition of this year's Women's Open. I would like to briefly describe some of those to you and give you an example of what we're looking for this week.
Designed by the legendary architect Pete Dye, the original championship golf course comprises what is now holes 10 through 18 of the Meadow Valleys course and holes 1 through 4 and 14 and 18 of the River Course. Most of you have probably seen in the information surrounding you that the golf course itself will play the 6954 yards at a par-72. That's about 500 yards longer than it was back in 1998. I'll briefly touch on where some of that length has been added for the 2012 championship.
The biggest change you'll see on the golf course is the 7th hole this year will be played as a par-5 instead of a par-4. We're really, really excited about this change. This hole back in 1998 ranked as the second hardest hole on the golf course during the championship and a lot of it had to do with the combination of it playing with a steady north wind for most of the championship week. The green wasn't as receptive as we originally anticipated. It was the second longest par-4 in 1998 besides hole No. 18. So a new teeing ground was built on this hole and added the total yardage is now 590 yards that from this teeing ground the players will be able to choose how aggressive they want to be with their tee shots. They have to negotiate a very elevated ridge line on the right-hand side at least to the fairway. We feel that bringing this ridge line back into play was very, very important to us, posed quite a challenge for the players. By giving them a shorter iron in for approach, it definitely sets itself up nicely as a par-5.
Probably the most significant reason to see added length on the golf course since 1998 is to give us flexibility within teeing grounds out on the golf course. Be able to mix and match as needed based upon what wind and weather conditions we do get during the course of the week. We definitely like to have this flexibility built in on as many holes as we possibly can so that we can adjust as Mother Nature throws us some curve balls if she decides to do so.
People have been telling me this is the longest Women's Open golf course to be played at sea level. I don't necessarily feel that length will be an issue. It didn't seem to be an issue last year at The Broadmoor, even though we were playing at elevation. I didn't hear much from the players in that regard. But with that being said, I think it's important to realize that on any given day because of the flexibility that we do have with the teeing grounds, I don't think you'll see the golf course played close to the full length on any given day.
The front 9 and back 9 here at Blackwolf Run are quite balanced with a variety of long and short holes. The front 9 starts with a difficult par-4. Properly named Quiver. Not only is it the first hole of the national championship, but that uphill second shot tends to have people quite nervous. It's a significant uphill approach into probably the smallest green on the actual championship routing. Par here is going to be a wonderful score to start.
Another hole to talk about, the par-4 fifth hole which played as the most difficult in 1998 requires players to position their drives on the left-hand side of the fairway and be able to have the best angle into any hole location on this green. That's one of the shorter par-4s on the on the golf courses for the 2012 championship. So it will be interesting to see if this plays as difficult as it did in 1998.
I already touched on how the par-5 7th will play different this year. We're anxious to see how the strategy of the players will use there. The par-3 6th hole I envision probably at times could play as the hardest par-3 on the golf course. Of course, I've heard some conversation from some players that think 13 is a little more difficult than hole No. 6. The 6th hole this is a hole we will definitely mix and match some teeing grounds on due to the difficulty. Players will have little room for error on this tee shot.
I find that Blackwolf Run is, as you can see, there are very, very wide fairways out here. I feel it's a second-shot golf course. One bad swing on the second shot could lead to some trouble for most of these players. The back 9 presents some good opportunities for players and us championship week as well. I strongly believe most players will be able to find some scoring chances on the great back 9.
The par-5 10th hole which usually benefits from the prevailing wind coming from the south, southwest will likely look to move that teeing ground up into a position where players can possibly get home in 2, depending upon what wind we are getting that day. The stretch of holes 13 through 15 played as the easiest in 1998. With no major changes to yardages there, I wouldn't be surprised if there's some scoring opportunities in those areas as well.
Who could forget the memorable par-4 18th hole where Se Ri delivered some wonderful drama to all of us watching here and at home with a wonderful recovery shot she hit to continue the playoff that led to her second major championship victory.
So a lot of great things going on on the golf course. A couple of holes to watch possibly during the championship. Obviously, the 6th hole, the par-3, I mentioned that before with the forward teeing ground, but a tucked hole location on the left-hand side may be something that could potentially come up.
The par-4 14th hole provides a drivable par-4 option for us with the teeing ground placed anywhere in between 275, 285 yards. That could be a very good option for us down the stretch, especially with the water hazard lurking down the right-hand side.
As well as the 17th hole, which I think the players are -- excuse me, the 16th hole first. I think players are still trying to figure out what's the best way to play that hole. I think we're going to try and change their strategy on it on a daily basis to make sure they're using the mental aspect of the game as part of their daily round.
And last, coming to a venue that's previously hosted a Women's Open is definitely a positive for us. We get the opportunity to review old notes, watch the television footage to find out with a works, what doesn't work. We definitely tried to take a hard look at each individual hole to see what can be done to make it more challenging but at the same time keep all the great architectural features in each of play for the world's best players.
ust a couple of things more specific to the golf course itself. Right now we envision the putting green speeds tomorrow to average right around 12 or slightly over. They are putting beautifully. I think we'll see folks make a lot of putts; very, very smooth. Speed is good. We're really excited where we are in the putting greens. And just more of a note, similar to what we've done in years past with the Women's Open championship, we do have the graduated rough and more significant first cut of primary rough at three on holes that have short approaches, examples being holes 1, 2, 4 and 7. And a less significant first cut of primary rough on the holes that have longer approaches at 2-1/2 inches. So the long par-4s like 3 and 12, you'll see a significantly less high cut of primary rough at 2-1/2 inches.
Let me just say again how excited we are about this year's Women's Open. Being back in Wisconsin, a state known for having great golf fans, only makes it even more special to be here. We're thrilled with where the golf course is at the current time and look forward to actually getting play started tomorrow.
At this point, I would like to leave the golf course for a few minutes and comment on our ongoing efforts to best meet and hopefully surpass the expectations of all of our constituencies, players, spectators, fans and the community. For the first time at the Women's Open, the USGA is allowing spectators to bring cellphones into the championship. We recognize that cellphone usage is an every-day practical convenience and we're happy to allow the spectators to use technology while on-site. Anyone who needs to make a call must do so away from competition to be courteous of their fellow spectators as well as the players when using their cell phones. We ask all of you to help in spreading awareness of our cellphone policy which is available in both the spectator guide and print and at uswomensopen.com. For those golf fans who wish to enjoy the Women's Open from afar and on the go we continue to make improvements in delivering an integrated view of our championship coverage.
At uswomensopen.com fans get the very latest information, concerning championship, play schedules, real-time scoring, social media feeds through our @usopengolf Twitter handle and much more.
Beyond our digital channels, our television broadcast continues to be increasingly successful platform for sharing the excitement and the drama that will unfold this year at the Women's Open Championship. This year ESPN and NBC will air 14 hours of live U.S. Women's Open coverage helping the USGA to reach millions of people with this wonderful game of golf.
Now I would just like to take a moment to express our gratitude to our partners here at Blackwolf Run. This is a wonderful, wonderful golf facility with an exemplary group of individuals supporting its operation. In this period leading up to the championship we have benefited greatly from their expertise and dedication, and on behalf of the USGA I would like to thank all the leadership and staff for your professionalism and your passion.
I would like to particularly recognize Mr. Herb Kohler, the chairman and CEO of Kohler Incorporated, general and chairman and director of golf Jim Richerson and Kohler's championship director Barry Deach for all of their efforts. And a very special thanks to manager of Golf Maintenance Mike Lee, along with his staff of Jeff Wilson and Ron Bierwith and their entire crew for their outstanding efforts on preparing this wonderful golf course.
JOE GOODE: Ben, Martha, thank you. I want to open things up to questions now. Who would like to get us started?
Q. Just maybe a point of clarification on the setup. Juli Inkster had recalled that maybe the rough was a little higher back in '98. I'm wondering if that is indeed the case, if anybody can answer that, and if some of that may be a product of the weather.
BEN KIMBALL: I'm not exactly sure what the final height of cut on the final day of the 1998 U.S. Women's Open rough was. I'm willing to bet -- the setup philosophy from '98 to 2012 was changed significantly. I say that in where I talked about the varying teeing grounds. It seemed like in 1998 we were more along the lines of this is where the tee sign is. We're going to play here from all week and just let things completely grow. But obviously with our executive director Mike Davis taking the lead, we've thought a little bit harder on how best to determine our national champion, and we feel that the graduated rough concept we have in place is probably the best thing to determine this national champion. That doesn't mean that come Sunday this week the rough may be a little bit higher than what they are seeing right now. But it's only Wednesday.
Q. Ms. Lang, can you talk about what you are most proud of in the diversity factor trying to get more diverse participation in golf? And where do you think it falls short? What more would you like to do?
MARTHA LANG: I think that our programs with girls' golf, with trying to include women and minorities, I think we're making great strides. It's not to say that we're there, but we're certainly trying to improve. I think we've done a very good job. And I think as we start with the young players, that that's where we'll grow.
Q. Ben, just wondering given the forecast this week and the number of people on the golf course, what provisions are being made for spectators in regard to the heat and advice and cautions and have there been any problems this week?
BEN KIMBALL: You know, I'm not aware of any issues, Gary, that have come up to this point. But obviously even for everybody in this room, we have to make sure we all are taking care of ourselves while we're out in the heat. Passed the same message along to even my staff last night as we were having a meeting about it.
The weather forecast itself actually before I walked in here to visit with all of you, I was able to catch up with our meteorologist. Thursday, Friday, Saturday, they are going to be warm days. I think come Sunday it's going to get a little bit cooler. That Lake Michigan air is going to start to blow from the east come Sunday, so things will cool down.
I know our operations team and staff here have taken some precautions, added some additional seating areas and some shaded areas, particularly more in between holes 13 and 14 to take care of our spectators while they're here. But hopefully people know to drink a lot of fluids and stop and take rest when needed. We want to make sure we have a safe championship for everybody that's involved.
Q. Ben, just a follow-up on the cellphone issue. It's such a hot button issue in golf right now. When did you come to this decision and what does it mean going forward with other championships?
BEN KIMBALL: It's a great question. This is a very manageable environment for us to be able to test out this policy. We're excited of having this opportunity at the Women's Open. Obviously it's something that's regularly seen week to week on the LPGA Tour. I'm not necessarily privy to all the conversations about how this week and the use of the policy this week will go on to other championships moving forward, but we feel that it's important because cellphones are in every-day use by all of us in this room to bring our spectators and fans a little bit closer to the game. So we're excited to see how it's going to turn out. It's going to be a new experience for all of us, including our rules officials. But we hope it's going to be a pleasant one and get better and something that the folks, the leadership at Golf Haus will continue to talk about and maybe down the road discuss for other events.
Q. Back to the course, do you know what the greens are running early week and what you might expect them to get to by the weekend?
BEN KIMBALL: Obviously, with the excessive heat that this part of the country has had over the past couple of weeks, or some folks in the room may even say months, it would be silly on our part to push it too much early on in the week, the golf course itself, simply because the sustaining a golf course in heat for seven days is very difficult to do, especially when dealing with large fairways like they have here. And a lot of what we do at this point in the championship is all hand-watering, meaning we have individuals out there doing it. We're not using overhead irrigation. It's very difficult to keep up with a lot of the watering. We felt it was smarter on our part to ramp up as the week goes on as opposed to start at a certain level.
So green speeds at the beginning of the week on Monday were averaging in the middle 11, 11-1/2. And we're slowly creeping up now to where we're at 12, 12 and one inch is kind of the average. It will continue to stay right around there. It will probably plateau at 12-1/2. Won't get much higher than that. That's about what the greens can do. That's probably all we're going to let them do. You'll see a slight increase from day-to-day. But probably not more than a couple of inches, which even to the greatest players in the world is hardly noticeable.
LEXI THOMPSON, Rolex Rankings No. 23
THE MODERATOR: In 2007, Lexi Thompson was just 12 years old when she first qualified for the United States Women's Open Championship. And so that makes her an old veteran now, I guess, just five years later. But we welcome her back. She tied for 10th at Oakmont at the age of 15 in 2010. So she is a contender, certainly. Doing very well on the LPGA Tour. She is a winner now at a very young age. Became the youngest winner in the history of the LPGA.
Lexi, what do you have in your arsenal now that will help you win a Women's Open championship?
LEXI THOMPSON: I've just grown mentally. I would say from my first Open, I've grown with length to just getting older. But mentally has been a big learning experience for me. So I think that's really important on the Open golf course.
THE MODERATOR: What does winning a U.S. Women's Open mean to a player of today's generation?
LEXI THOMPSON: It's the biggest win you can get is a Major. Everybody just really prepares for this event, few days preparing for it. You just have to take your time and be patient during the rounds and everything.
Q. Lexi, it's a long golf course. The fairways are fairly generous in the landing areas. Does that give you an advantage over some of the other girls in the field?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I hit a lot of drivers on this golf course, which I like. The par-3s are actually pretty long, too, I think. The shortest iron I had in was about a 6-iron on par-3. It's a really long golf course, but it's a challenge. That's what an Open is made to do.
Q. What do you remember of that 2007 Open and have you learned over the years from your Open experiences?
LEXI THOMPSON: The one thing I remember from that one Open is my first tee shot. I teed off at 10. I was the most nervous I've ever been over a shot. My legs were shaking and everything. I ended up hitting a good tee shot.
It was really exciting to be there. I learned a lot. I learned by watching other players' games what I needed to improve on.
Q. We talked with a lot of golfers this week about the youth of the field. I think there's one player this year who is 13 years old. I wanted to ask in your experience what's it like being a young player playing in such a competitive field like this? What's the pressure like for young kids? And is that good? Is it good to have such a young field playing?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah. There's a lot of young girls playing. I think I played with two 14-year-olds my first practice run. It's pretty cool to see, just their games and how they got there. They just have to play their own game and not focus on anybody else. That's what everybody does in the Open. You just have to play the golf course.
Q. Going back to 2007, you were talking about going to PetSmart every day and what you were watching, you were watching the Disney Channel. I assume you're not doing that this week?
LEXI THOMPSON: No. I still like PetSmart. I might stop by. I'm still a little kid inside. You still have to have fun off the golf course and on it. So just relax and not put any pressure on yourself.
Q. Just on that same topic, why are so many players so good so young now?
LEXI THOMPSON: I guess just starting at a younger age and just being really dedicated. That's what it's all about. Just practicing. You have to have a love for the game and wanting to improve.
Q. How do you balance that? How do you balance all of that dedication, all of that work with just being a young person?
LEXI THOMPSON: I mean, you have to love the game. Off the golf course you have to hang out with your friends, get your mind off your game or you're just going to -- you're going to go crazy. But just relax and have fun with your friends. It's good to have a friend to play golf with or practice just to keep it nice and calm.
THE MODERATOR: Who are some of your friends out here on the tour?
LEXI THOMPSON: Out here? Probably like Natalie Gulbis, Brittany Lang has been really nice. A lot of them have been really welcoming. Always saying good luck and chatting up conversations. It's really good to see.
THE MODERATOR: That's who you play practice rounds with mostly?
LEXI THOMPSON: Not really. I play whoever I get signed up with. It doesn't really matter to me. Just going out there and practicing on the golf course.
THE MODERATOR: Pretty hard to find friends of your own age, though. They just aren't there, are they?
LEXI THOMPSON: Well, I have Jessica Korda. She's close to my age. I played a lot of junior and amateur golf. We're pretty close. It is hard since I'm the youngest. They don't treat me any differently.
Q. Who were the 14-year-olds you were playing with earlier in practice?
LEXI THOMPSON: I know one of them was Megan Khang. I'm not sure of the other's last name.
Q. Did it feel a little strange to have -- I'm sure they were picking your brain a little bit how to play the U.S. Women's Open. Did it feel a little strange considering you were on that side of the fence just a few years ago?
LEXI THOMPSON: They actually didn't ask me really anything during the round. They just pretty much played their own practice round too. It is cool to see just to think that that was just a few years ago for me. But they were great players. So I wish them all the best this week.
Q. Going back to 2007, you talked about being able to pick up little things from other players as you watched them. Who did you watch the most when you were at Pine Needles and trying to pick up little things from?
LEXI THOMPSON: Whoever I was paired up with. I'm not sure who my pairings were. I think maybe Amy Yang I played with the first year. I learned a lot from playing with them, just seeing their strengths and their short game, and obviously their distance was an advantage compared to me. I think I was playing down both strips that year. It's really exciting to be there and see all the players I was watching on TV.
Q. Lexi, two questions. First, obviously, the story angle is you are the young player. We were all asking that. When do you think that story ends? When are you seen as a golfer, not just the teenager that comes in that was the youngest winner?
LEXI THOMPSON: I'm not really sure. I don't really know. I'm just playing the game I love and I'm just doing what I love. And that's all I can do, just try my best every tournament. I don't know how people will see me, but I guess always as a teenager that won. I'm not too sure.
Q. One way they see you is as a very popular player. You seem to connect with the fans. Is that important to you?
LEXI THOMPSON: Connecting with the fans, it's really important to me. They take time out of their lives to come watch me play. That's why I usually sign every autograph, take pictures. Just giving back is very important to me.
Q. What is the dynamic like within your family in terms of the competition you have within your family and how much do you help each other with that competition and how much do you help each other with your games?
LEXI THOMPSON: It's a lot of competition between my brothers and I. Matches when we're all home, playing straight up. We learn a lot playing each other. We play contests and teach each other. Throughout my career they've helped me.
Q. Where do you rank right now in the Thompson rankings?
LEXI THOMPSON: I don't know if one has passed the other. It's always like on-and-off winning. So it's really intense every match we play.
Q. Can you give us a state of your game right now? You've made 10 of 11 cuts but only two top 10s. You're driving the ball well. Your putting numbers are a little suspect. Can you talk about your game right now coming into this week?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, last week didn't go so well for me, but this week I'm feeling really confident about my game. These last few practice rounds went really well. I just have to go out confidently and stay patient out here. Pars are good. So just have to trust your golf shots.
THE MODERATOR: Monday I believe they're going to announce the Espy awards. You've been nominated for two of them. Which would mean the most to you? Winning the Women's Open or winning an Espy award?
LEXI THOMPSON: Well, both would be nice. I'm just really excited to go to the ESPYs. It was an honor once I got the invite. I'm really just focusing on U.S. Women's Open this week. I'm going to try to do my best and go out and free swing.
Q. How did you develop your discipline and your work ethic at such a young age?
LEXI THOMPSON: Well, growing up with two brothers helped out a lot. They got me started in the game. But I played some other sports too, so I've always been really dedicated. But once I made it down to one sport with golf obviously, just being really dedicated and always being around my brothers competing has made me a better player.
Q. How has the transition been to not having your dad on the bag and him going over to Nicholas's bag?
LEXI THOMPSON: It's been different. Definitely at first it was a different change. But me and Greg have been working out really good, just getting along, personalities. To me it's all about just getting along on the golf course and having a similar personality just to keep you relaxed.
He knows every golf course really well. I think he's been out here for 20-something years. It's going really well. My dad has been helping out my brother a lot.
Q. How long did it take for Greg to kind of get used to what you like and how you approach the game?
LEXI THOMPSON: I would say probably a few weeks. The first few weeks was pretty much just learning my game, how far my shots were going and everything. But we got together pretty quick and it ended up working really well. So hopefully it will stay that way.
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, Stacy Lewis is with us. She's having a wonderful year. She's had nine Top 10 finishes. She's won twice. It's not exactly a breakout year because she did win a major, the Nabisco -- Kraft Nabisco last year. Stacy, I was looking at your stats for the Women's Open. You were third in 2008. Haven't quite crossed that line to win. And I noticed you will have three really good rounds and one round that is shall we say less than good.
STACY LEWIS: Yes.
THE MODERATOR: How can you change that to perhaps contend this week?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I think I look back to last year's U.S. Open. I was doing really well through about a round-and-a-half, and then kind of the middle of the tournament I really -- my attitude got in the way. I was kind of trying to force some things. I would get upset over some bad shots and kind of really get down on myself. So that's something I've been working on this year, is to stay a little bit more level, and especially at a U.S. Open you have to stay patient. So that's one thing I'll look to this week.
THE MODERATOR: And you think that maybe will help you be more consistent and have four really good rounds rather than that one round?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, absolutely. I think that's what has helped me so far this year. I think I played a lot more consistent because -- just stay more patient, really. You know you're going to hit a bad shot, especially on this golf course. You're probably going to hit one in a hazard. You're probably going to have one in the high grass. You're going to hit a bad shot. Just being okay with that and knowing I can come back and make some birdies after that.
Q. Stacy, just wondering maybe overall your attitude to the U.S. Open and how it's evolved since you finished tied for third a few years ago.
STACY LEWIS: I don't know. I think I always come into U.S. Opens a little unsure of how I'm going to play just because we -- I've never seen the golf course and I don't know how it plays under tournament conditions. And so I never really know what to expect. And so during the practice rounds I just try to hit as many shots as I can and visualize it. But it's hard because you never know what a winning score is going to be or anything like that.
So I don't know, I usually come into a U.S. Open with no expectations, and then you're just hopefully you're pleasantly surprised after that.
Q. Just to follow up on the patience theme, as pros, you're all trained if something is going wrong with your game, the way to get out of it is you work harder at it. How do you practice patience? How do you work on that?
STACY LEWIS: I don't know. It's hard for me. It's something that you have to do it when you're in tournament rounds, is when you hit a bad shot, okay, how am I going to get out of this, instead of being worried about the shot you just hit. You can hit three bad shots and make one good putt and you can still make a 4. So it's something that I've definitely worked on. I really think over the last six months why I've played better it's just because of my attitude on the golf course. I feel like it's gotten better. Even though I still get angry, I still kind of use that in a more positive way.
Q. Stacy, can you talk about the first hole with the blind second shot and what you need to do to be successful there?
STACY LEWIS: Well, it's interesting. It's a hard first hole just because you can't see the iron shot land. I hit a 3-wood off of that tee, and then I think I had an 8 or 9-iron into the green. It's tough. You're not really sure how far the ball is going yet. You're really not sure what the wind is doing. So it's not the easiest opening hole. I start on 10 tomorrow, so I'm kind of glad I'm not starting on 1.
Q. Yani has been struggling a little bit in the last few weeks. Do you feel like potentially the window to become No. 1 is closer, the opportunity is closer than maybe it appeared that it might be last year?
STACY LEWIS: I definitely think it is. I think at this time last year Yani was just so far ahead of everybody. She was almost unbeatable at some tournaments. Now she's been struggling a little bit, and I wouldn't say she's beatable, but she's just not playing as well as she was last year. She's -- I mean, she's going to work and she's going to grind it out and she'll figure it out. She'll get back to where she was. I have no doubt about that. When she's not playing her best, that's when we can kind of close that gap and chase her down a little bit.
Q. I was talking to Joe yesterday a little bit, he said there was a point during the practice round where your caddie said, she's back. There was something that clicked with your putting. Can you talk about that?
STACY LEWIS: After Canada, Joe, my instructor, came to Arkansas. I felt like my swing was just getting a little bit off. He stayed all last week at Arkansas and came here. He's been here a week and a half. We've been working hard on it, just getting it back on track. Because it really -- you can't have a weakness at a U.S. Open. You have to be playing good. And so we've been really working hard to getting it back. I think it was towards the end of the round yesterday finally it clicked that I got it back. I'm not worried about it anymore.
Q. So was it your full swing?
STACY LEWIS: Yes, full swing.
Q. What clicked?
STACY LEWIS: I don't know. It was just the timing, the tempo. I tend to get really fast and really out in front of it. So I was just trying to slow things down a little bit. I don't know, just the timing of it just finally clicked.
Q. Stacy, you're a little young to remember the best of Meg Mallon and Dottie Pepper and the Solheim Cup. But they were in here today talking about now Dottie is going to be assistant captain and it looks like you're going to be on that Solheim Cup team. Can you talk about what those two meant to women's golf, both their Solheim Cup and their LPGA careers, what you remember and know about that?
STACY LEWIS: I didn't really watch a lot of golf growing up. But I did watch the Solheim Cup. I remember I think -- where was it? Meg made a really long putt. I don't know. I just remember Meg smiling and cheering her teammates on on the course. Dottie was so fiery out there. I love that. You could tell every emotion she was feeling. She was pumping everybody up. Those two right there, I think they are the Solheim Cup. They are two of the highest points-getters for the U.S. team. And I think -- I think it's perfect. I think Dottie needed to be assistant captain, and then she's probably going to be the captain now. She needed to be there. I think it wouldn't be complete if she wasn't.
Q. Stacy, we talked earlier about No. 1 maybe coming back to the pack a little bit, your rankings up there as well. How do you see yourself as one of the best players in the world? How do you consider yourself?
STACY LEWIS: I certainly have felt like I've been one of the best players in the world. And even over the last year I felt like I have been, but haven't gotten the recognition. When everyone talks about the top American players, they'd always talk about Paula and Cristie, and I was never thrown into the mix. My goal coming into this year was to get my name in that mix and get people to see that I am one of the top American players, and that's really motivated me over the last year.
Q. People maybe don't talk about this part of the game very much, but wondering how much lag putting might be of importance this week on these big greens.
STACY LEWIS: I think whoever has the least amount of putts is going to be up there on Sunday. During my practice rounds, I practiced kind of 3 and 4-footers, and I practiced 40 and 50-footers. You're going to hit great golf shots and still have a 40-footer. Putting I think is more important even than ball striking this week, because off the tees you can get away with it a little bit, but once you get on the greens you have to be so perfect with the speed and the lines you pick. I think that's going to determine the winner. I don't know if there's the stats from '98 where the putting was on who won, but I'm sure they didn't have very many putts that week.
Q. You just sort of mentioned that people talk about top Americans. They talk about Cristie, they talk about Paula. They haven't talked about you a lot. What's your thought on why that has been? What will it take to get that to change?
STACY LEWIS: I truthfully I don't really know why. I feel like I have been one of the top American players for the last year or so, and I don't know. I don't know. I don't wear the pink like Paula does and have the whole Pink Panther thing. That's not really me. I just really want to go out there and play good golf and be known for the golf part of it. I think the more I win, the more I'm up in contention, I think that will take care of it.
Q. Stacy, in some ways does this setup work well for you? Obviously last week you were at the center of attention because you were home collegiately, anyway. Maybe sort of get you geared up even more for the Open environment because of the way the tournaments were back-to-back?
STACY LEWIS: Last week in Arkansas was really tough for me. I love playing there, but it's probably one of the hardest weeks of the year. On the golf course it's fine, but as soon as I get off, I can't go anywhere without somebody recognizing me. I guess you would want to have that problem, but it also makes this week a lot more relaxing for me, which is what you want. You don't want to come to a Major stressed out. This week actually seems more relaxed, and I don't know, I just feel a lot more at ease this week.
THE MODERATOR: Having won the Kraft Nabisco, you've won a major championship, how is it different trying to win a big championship, a Major, than a weekly Tour event?
STACY LEWIS: Well, a Major you have to have every aspect of your game. It tests every club in your bag. You have to hit wedges good, you have to hit 4-irons good. Certain tournament weeks you don't have to hit your long irons so well because the golf course may be a little shorter, you have a lot of wedges, short irons. So the Majors are a mental grind, and everything has to be spot-on. If it's not, the golf course -- they will pull out your weaknesses for sure.
Q. Stacy, kind of along the conversation of top American, but with the game being so global and with the talent spread really across the globe, is there any sort of extra motivation, maybe even pressure, among the American girls to win the U.S. Open?
STACY LEWIS: I think we as American players, I think we put enough pressure on ourselves. This is our national championship. I think as a kid you grow up wanting to win this tournament. You see yourself with that trophy, and I think we put enough pressure on ourself, and we want to keep this back in the U.S.
So like any Tour event, the Americans, we need to play well. We need to play well for our Tour. I don't think there's any extra pressure this week that we don't already put on ourselves.
Q. Do you feel like this course suits your game? And what's the strongest part of your game right now?
STACY LEWIS: Well, I don't know if this golf course really suits anybody. It's a lot of golf course. It's really tough. I don't know. I think the golf course suits a longer ball hitter and someone that putts well. So I feel like that suits me, I think. I don't know. The course is just so hard. It's going to be -- it's more of a mental test than physical, I think. It's going to be who can stay the most patient. And then for me I feel like even over the last couple of months, my ball striking has just been really good. It hasn't really put a lot of pressure on any other aspects of my game, so it's allowed me to kind of free up my putter a little bit and not really have to use my short game too much.
Q. A couple themes we've talked to all of the players with this week, the game has become so much more global and there are so many more youngers players playing. Given there's so much more talent, how do you cope with that? How do you deal with such increased competition and maybe more pressure?
STACY LEWIS: I don't know. It's great for the game. It's great to have like Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda winning this year. It's great for the game. It brings a whole another fan base in there. There's always going to be somebody behind you that's working just as hard if not harder.
I was -- it made me kind of realize last week with Ai winning she went to No. 3. I've been so focused on trying to get to Yani. There's always somebody that's going to come up behind you that wants to beat you. You have to put that pressure on yourself to just keep getting better, because you know there's somebody out there working just as hard as you are.
THE MODERATOR: Good morning. Welcome to the 2012 United States Women's Open Championship. In 1998, we had one of the most thrilling Women's Opens that I ever have seen. It took 92 holes. At the end of it, Se Ri Pak was the national champion. Ever since then the young Korean players have called her by the name of "Legend." She certainly deserves that. She started a whole pattern of players from Korea coming to the United States and doing so well.
So Se Ri, you've had ‑‑ you're back, the place that you love. You've had a few problems with your shoulder this year, a little shoulder injury. Tell us how that is going and how it feels to be back.
SE RI PAK: The first I'm very excited to be back again. It's been 14 years back, actually, since from the U.S. yesterday ‑‑ it feels like yesterday. It wasn't any big differences at all. One big difference is I'm a little bit more older than last time I was here. That's the difference.
Yeah, probably already know that I got a little injured on first three ‑‑ sometimes first of May I dislocated my left shoulder. I was lucky to get to be not having serious injury. So I came back early and right now I feel really great. Which is still working on my shoulder, make sure I get perfect with the condition that I have. Other than that just that I really feel great to be back again.
Q. You started a wave of ‑‑ you became a legend in your country by winning, and you started the wave of South Korean golfers. What satisfaction have you had about the success of other South Korean golfers?
SE RI PAK: Everybody, because, yes, legend of my country, yes, sometimes I hear from a lot of pressure on it. But I think I actually opened the door for them. Before I decided to move to the U.S., play the LPGA Tour, I'm trying to get myself to making my dream, actually, as one of the best golfers and want to be the best.
I want to be No. 1. So I choose to play at the LPGA. And I came '97 I went to the Q‑School. First stage and the final. Actually, I was a little more closer first step to be the LPGA Tour as first time ever ‑‑ not the first time, I was the second time of my country. I think the first one was her name is Oh‑Kee Kuh (phonetic). She was here a couple of years back, actually, then I was '97.
So anyway, that's my first step. Yes, I'm trying to be here, trying to learn how to play the best golfer in the world. Everybody in the LPGA Tour. So just step by step I'm trying to set my goal, trying to be the best and trying to learning and get used to it. I know it takes about a couple of years to get everything, you know, more centered down because, first of all, like I don't think it's easy to pick it up.
So in the second, you're traveling. And third, you're learning from a totally different culture from a different country. So I know it's not going to be easy ‑‑ from different country ‑‑ first time ever for me to move on by myself in the U.S.
Since that ‑‑ since, however, I'm in my dreams here at the LPGA Tour. And then I'm giving now ‑‑ you see 40‑something players from my country, I guess, every year they are trying to kind of ‑‑ they are trying to make their own dreams come true. So that's why ‑‑ what I do ‑‑ I guess I opened the door for them, as nobody even tried before. You know, it's not easy. However, I give them more confidence about their move forward.
Q. Se Ri, did you play yesterday? Did you play the course?
SE RI PAK: Today. Afternoon.
Q. So you haven't played it yet?
SE RI PAK: No.
Q. Go back to your memory, what makes this such a tough place?
SE RI PAK: All I remember this golf course, doesn't matter how many times you play, how long you spend time here, it wasn't really matter, I think. I knew ‑‑ I remember it was so difficult. By whatever the USGA set up, golf course is really hard. Especially this year, I guess, more, actually, the lengths ‑‑ the distance.
'98 back then, yeah, course condition, course setup, Blackwolf golf course, it's really hard. Every single hole you have to really planning if next shot ‑‑ what you're trying to miss ‑‑ you miss, every golf course is the same way. Just miss the wrong side. You don't have a chance for it. This golf course you really have to be course management, how you play this next shot, how ‑‑ second shot coming to next shot. And on the green, from the fairway, bunker, rough. It's going to be tons of work to do. So today, of course, I'm going out first time in 14 years. It's going to be a lot more work hard for it. But I'm very excited about that.
Q. Se Ri, what do you think of the change of No. 7 from the par‑4 in 1998 to a par‑5 now?
SE RI PAK: I think that's pretty great changing, because back then it was more the longest par‑4, and then always into the wind. And you see the right side, huge bunkers wide open. And greens is really far too. Everybody hits from the fairway, doesn't matter how long you hit it. It has to be ‑‑ long hitters have like long iron if you're into the wind. Then the greens never hold it. So that's another big huge hard hole. That's why everybody has been having trouble for No. 7. Now par‑5 actually, that's really great. Even the par‑5 is pretty long par‑5 too. But a lot better than the No. 7 for par‑4. That's really great move, I think.
Q. Se Ri, I saw that you withdrew last week. Can you talk about why and how you're feeling now?
SE RI PAK: I don't know why the last week. Everybody probably heard about it's so hot there. It's kind of dry hot, dry heat. I don't think I never felt kind of so weird. I really love hot weather than cold weather. But on Saturday it was perfect for me in the range. Everything warm up, everything ready to go. 20 minutes before my tee time, I went to a couple of putts to roll on the practice green. As soon as I step on the green, I felt a little bit of dizziness. I thought sometimes does, just like for a second and then back to normal.
I kind of a little felt weird. I was on the tee and it doesn't feel really right. And trying to eat some bananas, make sure ‑‑ maybe so hot maybe I don't have any big energy. So I was trying to eat some ‑‑ a couple of bites. It doesn't really taste right. Still trying to keep on playing.
So first tee, hit, great. Second, but trying to drink water. And all of a sudden I can't swallow, I felt sickness. And then until I think I played 5 hole. Then I decided not, because it doesn't feel ‑‑ feeling is right, I think. I think I got a little dehydrated and maybe a little heat stroke a little bit. Comes this week, I'm trying to prepare myself to make sure I'm everything 100% in this week. So I'm trying to get ‑‑ you know, don't really feel right, I don't want to be pushing. So I'm trying to make this week prepared. So I came back here and I feel good, actually, yes.
Q. I guess during the rest of the time of the year, they don't have water on the 18th, on the last, do they just play it as sand? Can you talk about the intimidation factor of filling that area with water? You obviously know that water well.
SE RI PAK: 18?
Q. Yes. What that adds to the hole.
THE MODERATOR: Intimidation.
SE RI PAK: '98 was in the water, the hazard there, always to be the hazard there. Last time we were here for media days, surprised there was no water. It's bunker. I don't know what's going on. Totally different story. I think the 18 hole is a signature of Blackwolf Run Golf Course, I think.
As you can see, they make the golf course a lot different the bunker to the water. That makes you a lot more difficult finishing 18 holes.
Of course, I remember it was always water. For me, always there. So doesn't really matter the bunker, but I wish it was water. They took the water ‑‑ I think that's great.
Q. Se Ri, I see Kohler is one of your sponsors. Can you talk about how long that relationship with Mr. Kohler?
SE RI PAK: Well, starting '98, actually, being actually great relationship with the Kohlers. And then Mr. Kohler, I met him a couple of times and the last couple of times in Media Days. However, I feel really good, though. Part of ‑‑ as my personal thing. This is this week we are trying to be ‑‑ because I really appreciate it the way they have done and what they did. And my career started this week 14 years ago. So it's more like friendship right now as more business. But in the future, yes, probably will be the ‑‑ as more good friendship and good businesship. But right now, as I said, just be as great relationship and get‑togethers. I thank Mr. Kohler. That's why I try this week being, you know, promote a little bit. Yes.
Q. Starting this week?
SE RI PAK: Yes.
THE MODERATOR: Today. We waited for that patch to arrive.
SE RI PAK: Right.
Q. Yani needs to win the Women's Open to complete the career grand slam. Obviously you neat the Kraft Nabisco. That's alluded. How much pressure do you put on yourself each year when you go to that event is to try to complete that slam?
SE RI PAK: It's really a lot. Because you knew you need this. And it's important you know you kind of are setting your mind, this is it, and you kind of automatically giving a lot of pressure on yourself.
Every single hole you play, every single day of practice, you are actually trying to 100% prepare every single shot. Just gives you extra more pressure on it. And then again, week to week, especially that week came and all media, all fans, they knew this is what we needed. Keep telling us you are going to do it, you will do ‑‑ you wish you can do. All from hearing from the fans, family, your friends, media. It's a lot of pressure on it. But best thing to do is ‑‑ of course it's pretty hard. But trying not to think about this is it. Really I need to. Just go out and just shoot ‑‑ every single shot you're trying to play one shot at a time. I think that's the best way.
As you know, if Yani, some top players knew, they knew they can do better. So this is why the top players a lot harder to be now ‑‑ such a great big event. They are giving a lot of extra pressures and are really pushing so much sometimes, this won't help too much. It wasn't easy at all trying not to think.
Q. Se Ri, this year you were really having a wonderful year. You were starting to play better. I have the feeling that perhaps you were inspired because you were coming back to Blackwolf Run that maybe you started thinking about that and reliving that. And then you got the shoulder injury.
SE RI PAK: Right.
Q. Six weeks later you went to the LPGA Championship and you were leading after two rounds. Did the fact that you were coming back to Blackwolf Run kind of give your game some more momentum and make you feel like I really want to have a great year?
SE RI PAK: It is. Definitely that's true. As soon as I heard from earlier this year, we knew last year. We knew we came back here again right after 14 years later. First hole for me was a huge impression, huge excitement. I always I remember in my mind and I played the U.S. Open every single year, but as I said, this is probably the best U.S. Open ever. Not because I'm winning, but it just overall ‑‑ that year is such fans ‑‑ I never see that huge a fans out there ever. And then of course, great 18 playoff, which is 20 playoff. And of course, that shot I had made on 18, I mean, of course making the differences.
I feel really special. Because you won the U.S. Open '98 and came back 14 years later the same golf course. I still play and I still play my game ‑‑ my game is not as perfect as a couple of years ago. Still feel great. My game is is not getting ‑‑ is getting closer, getting better every single week. But I guess I think my heart knows that I'm actually ‑‑ this week is giving a lot of great momentum. That's why I think ‑‑ I got injury from my shoulder, but I got back so quickly healing and really quick back to the play again. So I think because of all I have, it's exciting. Having a lot of energy. And you really want to play. This week doesn't matter good or bad, but I really want to be out here again. So I think that's make it my own successful again.
THE MODERATOR: In 2007 Cristie Kerr became the U.S. Open champion, something she had long wanted. Last year she finished third. The year 2000 she was runner‑up. And so we welcome her as a great authority on this championship. Cristie, what does this championship demand of you that perhaps other events don't?
CRISTIE KERR: I think it really ‑‑ this event is different because it demands everything of every aspect of your game. You need to plan out there. You need to say if the pin is on the right side, I need to hit it here. I can't miss it over here. I can hit it here. You need to have a strategy for every pin on every day on every hole. You need to really ‑‑ your short game really has to be on. The rough is really, really thick around the greens here. So you really got to make those tough up‑and‑downs. You have to lag it close from long distance to keep the stress off the rest of your game. You need to make great two‑putts from long distance. You need to play smart and not get greedy. It really is a test of the mind more than any other event that we play on tour.
You have to have patience of a saint.
Q. Cristie, I think you played your first U.S. Open as a professional here in '98 I believe. As you went around today, what do you remember about the course? Any specific shots? I know the seventh hole has changed. Maybe you can talk about that a little bit. Kind of your impressions of the course coming back here 14 years later.
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, you know, as soon as I stepped on the first tee on Sunday for my practice round, I started to remember the golf course. I thought that I did remember it, but as I have played it over the last three days, a lot of things have been coming back to me.
I think it's definitely an advantage to have played here the last time to know where you can hit it, where you can't miss it and kind of overall how the course is going to play, how they move tees around. I remember hitting a 7‑iron into the 6th hole from up tee to the front right pin. I remember going for the seventh hole when they moved the tee way up, the par‑5 in 2, having a long bunker shot. Just things that you remember.
I think that because I've been here before, I kind of know what to expect. And I have more of a comfort level certainly than I did in 1998. I think the first open that I ever played, I think, might have been at The Broadmoor. But I think I was an amateur when I was 16 there. So I think you are correct in saying that my first open as a pro was here.
I do remember the birds chirping on the A‑frame outside of the clubhouse. Some of the silly things you remember. But it's great to be back. It's a spectacular golf course and a great venue for the Women's Open. We all remember different things from that week.
CRISTIE KERR: I didn't even know you guys go all the way back there.
Q. What do you think is probably the most difficult hole this year? I know in '98 it was hole 7. Curious, what do you think is going to play the hardest hole ‑‑
CRISTIE KERR: The hole 7, the par‑5?
Q. Yes, the par‑5.
CRISTIE KERR: It was. That's why. I remember hitting 3‑wood into the green.
Q. What's going to be the most challenging hole and how do you feel about moving that to a par‑5?
CRISTIE KERR: I think it's a good move. The green is more designed to hit wedges into. If they do move the tee up, I think it's a better tee shot from those two back tees. I think we played it more up when it was a par‑4. I think that's a very good move. Was it a par‑71 the last time we played here?
CRISTIE KERR: Yes. I think it's a little more fair. There's so many long, demanding shots into greens here that it's nice to have one additional par‑5 to feel like you can make a shot up. With that being said, you gotta get it in the fairway there, because if you hit it down in the gully, you're going to have a longer shot in for your third shot.
The toughest hole, wow. They're all pretty tough out here. I think that ‑‑ I think it's the 6th hole that goes down and to the right, I think that's going to be a tough par‑4. And I'm trying to think of the back 9. The back 9 there are some shorter shots into the greens. But I think it's the 13th hole, that par‑3 is going to be pretty tough when they put the pin back. It's all about the pin placements and what you're willing to chew off and kind of go for.
I think overall pretty conservative approach. Just hitting the greens if you can here. Even if you have long 2‑putts. That's kind of the play. The rough is really sticky around the greens. That's U.S. Open golf.
Q. Cristie, can you talk about the first hole? It's got an uphill ‑‑ uniquely uphill severe grain. Can you talk about that a little bit?
CRISTIE KERR: That's one of the more unique opening holes for an Open that I've ever played. It's just a fairway wood off the tee. Fairly generous; 3‑wood, 5‑wood off the tee. Then like today we hit 8‑iron in. One of the other practice runs I had a pitching wedge in. So it's going to be a mid‑iron up to a short iron in. And that's just a very interesting green. There's not a lot of flat spots on that green. You kind of have to ‑‑ in my opinion, you have to separate that green into two parts, from the middle to the left and the middle to the right. And wherever they put the pins, if you have two clubs that you're faced with and you're in between clubs you really have to pick your spots. Of course you want to hit the green. Where do you miss it is going to give you the best chance to make par. Anybody in the field here would walk away with four pars on that hole. Even considering it's a short hole. That's the great thing about the U.S. Open. You can have a lot of short holes, but they still play pretty tough.
Q. In all the courses you've played in your career, is this one the most challenging?
CRISTIE KERR: I think it is. It's just really demanding. It really doesn't let up. There's no easy birdie holes at all. Like even what I just said about the first hole it's somewhat of a short iron in. But it's a blind shot. There's a lot of ways the ball can bounce on the greens. There's really ‑‑ there are really no give‑me holes here. That's ‑‑ when they say Blackwolf Run has teeth in it, it really does.
When I played in '98, I remember playing really tough the first few days. Then we had a little wind and it played so much tougher. You don't need a lot of conditions to make this golf course tough. You don't need greens firm to make this tough grass. There are some greens on this course that are bigger than my house. So you can have a like a mini putt‑putt kind of putt. Like that 6 hole, that par‑3, you need to make sure you're looking at three different greens and not just one green when you're hitting into that green because you just get some really silly putts out here.
Q. Cristie, can you just comment on the parity on the Tour this year? It just feels like especially Yani has fallen off a little bit. It just seems like every week there's a lot of different people who can win. I don't know if it's good or bad from the fans being engaged, but what are your thoughts about that?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, we have a really talented tour, a really international tour, a tour where ‑‑ in America especially, especially in the U.S. Open, a lot of players that Americans really aren't used to seeing. So they don't kind of know what to expect and how good these players are. We have a really, really deep tour as far as talent.
Maybe when I first came out on tour 15, 16 years ago, there were only really 10 or 20 players on any given week could win. Now we have three quarters of the field, especially this week, that can win a tournament. So it is getting harder and harder to win.
I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but I'm still trying to win. I haven't won in over a year. And I played some pretty good golf in the last year. So it's definitely getting harder. It's not getting easier. If you're not doing what it takes to get ahead, you're falling behind.
THE MODERATOR: You haven't won in a while, but you've been in contention continually. What do you think the state of your game is coming into this and what is your ability to win this week?
CRISTIE KERR: I think I have a really good chance. I wouldn't count me out. Just because I haven't won in the last year and so ‑‑ year and change, I feel like I played so much good golf. Especially last year. I finished Top 5 five or six weeks in a row and had opportunities to win and just didn't get the breaks.
This year it's been a little bit of inconsistency in my game. I've been putting up some good rounds and some bad rounds. I've missed three cuts in the last probably ten years on tour, and they've been in the last year. So I think my goal this week is to have consistent good golf, get most of the up‑and‑downs that I can get up‑and‑down that are tough and really just grind it out. That's what I do. I'm a grinder. That's really what the U.S. Open demands.
Q. How will you draw on your 2007 victory to help you compete this week?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, I think I draw on all the Opens. Not just only the one that I won. I have had a lot of great tournaments. I finished Top 5 in the Open a bunch. And you really ‑‑ you don't need to make a bunch of birdies out here to win this tournament. I think on any given week on any given golf course that we play you have to make a lot of birdies and no mistakes. And I think this week you can make some mistakes and still win.
I think that I understand what it takes to play well in this tournament. And I think that's why I play so well year after year, because I'm a grinder. And you just can't quit on anything. I don't care if it's a tap‑in putt or a really ‑‑ 3‑wood into a par‑3 green. It doesn't matter. You can't give up. If things go wrong, you have to realize things are going wrong for everybody for the most part. Especially this week on this golf course. So you really, really got to grind and you have to get as much out of your game as you can.
Q. Cristie, in 1998 when the tournament was here, it was just over 6400 yards. It was the longest Women's Open in history to that point. Can you talk about playing this course at potentially 6900 yards and how that may affect from what we saw 14 years ago?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, I think it's anybody's guess, really. We had some tough conditions on the weekend there. And I think the USGA is really, really good at changing the course setup. It will play 6900 if we play the max distance on every tee. But I think they'll move some tees up and change things around. If you have a really tough par‑3, they might move a par‑4 up. The USGA is pretty fair like that.
They've been really good at moving things around the last couple of years. I think it's anybody's guess. I think maybe at Saucon or Pine Needles, you can kind of predict what is going to win, but I don't think you can do that here. The last time we came here 6‑over got in a playoff. So I don't think anybody has any idea what's going to win, and I can tell you this: If I shoot under par for the week, I'm going to be a real happy camper.
Q. Just to follow up on what you were saying before about the increased depth in the field. There are so many more players that can win. What do you attribute that to, the increased depth in the field in your sport?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, there are a lot of factors, right? When I first came out on tour 16 years ago, I came right out of high school. That was really an unusual thing. But now it seems to be the norm. It seems like kids at a very young age ‑‑ I played a lot of golf growing up in South Florida with Lexi. Lexi is 17 now. I asked her how many opens is this for you? She said 5. She's been playing since she was 12 and she's seasoned veteran at 17. When I came out and I was 16, 17, 18, it was a really scary thing. They are just grooming these kids so early now that it's a business. There's a lot of money in women's professional golf now. I think that's really why we're seeing so many young players be so good.
17, you have a coach, you have a mental coach, you have a trainer. When I was 17 I was lucky to have my parents traveling with me. It's a different world we live in now. And I think that the golf is just become such an international sport, especially with the Olympics going to be in Rio in 2016. It's just ‑‑ especially in Asia, they are just crazy for golf over there. Those are all the factors. It's just I think the money, I think TV, I think the Olympics. It's just a very, very global sport now.
Tiger Woods did a really great thing. He made golf cool. Before that I don't know if golf was necessarily something that people were like, oh, I have to go play golf in high school or junior high. Now everybody plays golf.
Q. Cristie, with all the tests that you're given in a U.S. Open week, how much do you think the heat that's forecast is going to kind of add to all the mental part of the game?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, I think heat definitely plays a factor. I think it's just ‑‑ as the week goes on and trying to grind to make pars, mentally you wear yourself thin. It's certainly a lot less hot than it was in Arkansas last week. This is exactly the kind of heat I grew up in in Miami. And it doesn't really bother me much. But I think you need to manage your time and the amount of time you practice and kind of get away from the golf course as well, because this week and especially on this golf course is going to be very mentally taxing. And you need to be able to try and stay as fresh as you can.
THE MODERATOR: Last year at this time it was just four days before So Yeon Ryu won 2011 United States Women's Open Championship. She won it in a three‑hole playoff with Hee Kyung Seo. And we're very happy to welcome her here as the defending champion.
SO YEON RYU: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: I understand that another great champion Se Ri Pak, who won here in 1998, gave you some advice.
SO YEON RYU: Yeah.
THE MODERATOR: On how to play this championship and this golf course.
SO YEON RYU: Actually, really interesting is she said don't take too much practice at the golf course, because sometimes too much information make you crazy. And I totally understand it, because when I came here first time at media day, almost one month ago, the first time I played the course, I felt like not bad. But after that, the course feels like getting more tough and tough.
So even this week I just decided to practice 9 hole and 9 holes, and that's it. And then especially Se Ri said the putting is really important. So I focused on the speed at the putting green. Anyway, Se Ri said keep the low expectation. No more practice at the golf course. Just trust yourself.
So I will.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. Curious, you were here for media day, and you played around then. What's different about the course now? What have you noticed changed? Is it more difficult now? How have things changed?
SO YEON RYU: The big thing is the 18th hole. Before the left side is just bunker. Now you guys filled it up, the water. So it feels like more afraid of it.
But the good thing is the fairway is still wide. It's not too narrow. The bad thing is the greens getting firmer and faster and faster. The different thing is just 18 holes and the green speed. And I think maybe fairway will be getting harder.
Q. Along the same lines with the water on 18, for the media day you went into what was then a bunker, took the shoes off and played that shot.
SO YEON RYU: Yes.
Q. Would you have preferred to have taken the shoes off and stepped into water to play that shot?
SO YEON RYU: Actually, at the tournament I don't want to try it. But just at media day I just want to try it, because actually the photo of Se Ri standing under the water hazard on the 18th is kind of iconic in Korea, because how can I say? Se Ri is just feels like the hero at the moment because Korea had an IMF at the moment '97 and 8. Always at the moment I guess I want to try it. But now I'm here, and I just want to try it at the moment.
So it's kind of interesting moment. Actually, it's really steep, the hill. So before I thought it's not that tough shot. But now I thought it's pretty tough shot. So Se Ri did really great at the moment, yeah.
Q. Was Se Ri's victory here a factor in your trying to become a professional golfer?
SO YEON RYU: It's definitely 1998 U.S. Women's Open. Definitely. That's a really big tournament. So that's why the last year when I won the U.S. Women's Open, Se Ri following the playoff. It was huge for me, because she's my hero. I'm pretty inspired with the 1998 U.S. Open. And then I send up U.S. Women's Open. So that moment is pretty really, really special thing for me.
THE MODERATOR: And it was because of that 1998 Women's Open that you put down your violin and picked up your golf clubs.
SO YEON RYU: Actually, yes, that's true. At the moment just golf is my hobby and violin is my dream. But now violin is my hobby, golf is my dream, my job. So totally changed.
THE MODERATOR: To win a national championship seems to be a momentous thing. Being the U.S. Women's Open champion, has that changed your life in any way?
SO YEON RYU: Definitely, because ‑‑ after U.S. Women's Open, lots of people recognize me. And now I'm a major Korean. Before I don't have any major title in KLPGA. So I always really wanted to win the major tournament. But U.S. Women's Open is really huge major tournament. That's why it feels like that moment is my turning point. Now I play in LPGA Tour, and this is pretty interesting tournament. And it's really exciting tour.
Little sad thing is I heard of Colorado Springs fire the last week. The area is a really special area for me, so I feel really sorry for Colorado Springs. I want to come back everything as soon as possible in Colorado Springs.
THE MODERATOR: Do you hear from any of your friends there in Colorado Springs? Did you make friends during the championship?
SO YEON RYU: Actually, I don't have any friends in Colorado Springs. But the last year lots of volunteers and spectators cheering for me. So I feel like everybody is my friends and fan. So I really sorry for hear that.
Q. Do you really enjoy courses that potentially could be as difficult as this one that you really have to plan through every hole, and obviously pin placements are going to change your strategy day to day? Do you enjoy playing them when they're this tough?
SO YEON RYU: Actually, always major tournament course is pretty challenging. Especially this course is really tough. The USGA set up the tee around the back one and forward one. So we have to hit a lot of shape shots. How can I say? Sometimes just the green is too big, so sometimes chipping is better than putting. So this golf course is really ‑‑ the management is really important.
Q. I was curious to ask as many of the golfers as I could what they feel will be the toughest hole this year. Last year I know it was hole 7. What do you think will be the toughest hole this year?
SO YEON RYU: This year, actually, easy to say easy holes.
THE MODERATOR: Toughest.
SO YEON RYU: Toughest hole. I think 16 is pretty tough. Par‑5. It's dogleg right and left. We have to hit the fairway, and then the second shot was pretty ‑‑ is pretty tough, because it's around the green. They have a big tree just right of the water hazard. So we have to hit the right side. Right side is really thick rough right there. So it's really hard to playing at the 16.
But every golf course definitely 18 hole is more important, and more toughest, I think. So anyway, the 16th, 17th, 18th is really tough hole.
THE MODERATOR: We have with us Michelle Wie, whose highest finish in the Women's Open was a third place finish as an amateur in the year 2006. She's to be congratulated for graduating from Stanford this year, and now she can devote herself to her golf game. What have you done this week that maybe you can turn this year around and make it a fabulous year with a really great performance here?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, you know, half of the year went by officially, and you know it was not the year that I wanted ‑‑ half the year I wanted. The U.S. Open is always a good way to turn things around. I'm feeling really confident, feeling pretty positive about things. I'm just working on my game. It feels so close, and I just need the gates to open, really.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take some questions.
Q. Michelle, congratulations on your degree. Now, can you talk about what the whole experience at Stanford did to you as far as making you a well‑rounded person?
MICHELLE WIE: You know, I think Stanford was great. It was a very personal decision for me to go there. I learned a lot about myself. I think it was a great learning experience in general. It was also one of my biggest goals in life growing up was to graduate from Stanford. For me to achieve it was really great for me.
Q. Now that you've graduated, are you going to be able to devote a lot more time to your golf, and maybe fulfill that promise everybody thought you had when you were a few years younger?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, it's nice not having to go to school, not having to run off to classes right after practice. It's just nice because I can kind of make my own schedule and not have to worry about being anywhere. So it's nice. And just the practice days, just to go out, if I want to have lunch and come back, I can do that. If I want to go out in the afternoon, I can do that. A lot more flexible. I feel like I have a lot more time to rest. So when I go out there the next day, I'm not at 70% energy level I've always been. I can be out there and be 100% again. It's nice. It's been really good, and I'm really looking forward to the next part of my life.
Q. Because you got college behind you, do you feel maybe a little refreshed, reenergized? Do you feel maybe there's less pressure on you because you had so much going on before?
MICHELLE WIE: I don't really feel a big difference, but I think the difference I do feel is that I can, like I said before, I can really focus all of my energy on it and kind of have ‑‑ be at 100% energy level every time I go out and practice and have that rest that I needed, have time to go work out and not rush. And I'm still learning how to not to rush. I still find myself when I practice, I just go, go, go, go and not really rest because I feel I have to be somewhere or do things at a quicker pace. I'm just learning to take my time. I do have all day, which is really nice.
Q. Given all the advantages of not being in school, what sort of inner debate did you have while you were there saying should I stay with this and maybe I shouldn't ‑‑ were you torn there? What made you stay for the full four years?
MICHELLE WIE: You know, I really wasn't that torn. It was just a big goal of mine, and I knew that I just had to tough it out for a couple of years. In perspective, when you look back on it, if I had not graduated, if I had dropped out after two years or so, it would have been something that I would have regretted for the rest of my life, and that I think the scariest question of all, everyone says, is what if. For me, not graduating would have been that for me.
So I have that degree. It's done. Four years in anyone's professional career's life is not that long. I'm just starting out, and I feel like especially after this year, I feel like I'm starting out afresh and starting new. I think right now after college starting my new part of my life, I'm really looking forward to it. I'm really looking forward to what I can do and what I can do with that time and really try to become the best player that I can be. Now that I don't have anything else to do ‑‑ I've kind of accomplished that goal and I've put that aside. Now I want to accomplish this.
Q. How do you deal with the high expectations that people have set for you when you emerged on the scene?
MICHELLE WIE: Expectations are expectations. They won't change. It's nice that people, you know, had those expectations for me. It's better than not having expectations. For myself I don't really pay attention to it. For me I have my own expectations for myself and I want to fulfill that.
Q. Everybody is talking about the course. Can I get your impressions about it?
MICHELLE WIE: It's a fabulous golf course. I mean wow! It's a golf course. Starting from the 3rd hole, it's a pretty long hole. I played it yesterday into the wind. It was pretty tough. And the par‑3s, pars are some good scores out here. There are some good birdie holes out there as well. I think it's a really good mix of birdie holes, par holes. It's a U.S. Open golf course.
Q. Michelle, you said sometimes you have to slow yourself down a little bit. Maybe that's in every aspect of your life. You're kind of eager to go do things. The Open is the tournament where you most have to be patient, I think. Do you have to sort of extra have to crank it down to be more patient here?
MICHELLE WIE: Exactly. I think it's just my nature to be impatient and to try to do everything fast. Like you said, this week is the U.S. Open week. David has always told me walk slower, do everything slower. It's a long ‑‑ it's not a race. It's a marathon here. It's going to take a long time, and just got to take your time, be patient. Also, because it is a long golf course, it takes a lot of energy out of you. You kind of have to conservative that and be aware of that as well.
Q. Michelle, you said once you got done with college, you accomplished that, you said you wanted to accomplish this. What exactly do you want to accomplish out here?
MICHELLE WIE: I want to become the best player I can be and get that No. 1 spot and win Majors, win tournaments. Just become as good as I can get.
THE MODERATOR: Have you made any changes in your golf game going into this year? Any remarkable swing changes or cutting stroke or anything? Because this has been kind of a different year for you.
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, it's been kind of an off year. I've been working on the same kind of stuff. When things don't go your way, it really doesn't go your way. For me this year was kind of one of those years.
It's been one of those tough kind of years. But I see it as an opportunity. When you're playing this bad, it can really define who you are. I want to become someone that gets through it and becomes a stronger person because of it. And I'm trying really hard. I'm practicing really hard. And the more ‑‑ I feel like the longer this has become, the more I want it. So I think this is a good week to turn things around, and I'm just going to prove to myself that I can do it.
THE MODERATOR: Are you still working on the same basic fundamentals that you've worked on in the past couple of years?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah. No weird things. THE MODERATOR: No weird things.
Q. What would you rate your confidence level at right now going into this week?
MICHELLE WIE: It varies. I think coming ‑‑ honestly coming from this year, it's been a struggle trying to keep my confidence level up. But you can either look at it one way or you can look at it another way. I've chose to be positive about things, always trying to find positive things in my rounds that I like and things that I need to work on.
And it's there. I feel very confident about my golf game. It just needs to kind of come together, and you know, just work.
THE MODERATOR: What would be the most fun thing that could happen to you this week?
MICHELLE WIE: You know, just being here is so much fun for me. It's to have another opportunity to play in another U.S. Open. I feel so grateful to be here, actually just to be here at Blackwolf Run and play in the U.S. Open. I get those butterflies in my stomach. Just being here this week has been amazing so far, and if I can be in contention this week, that would just be even more amazing.
Q. When you're in the spotlight for as long as you've been, and this goes for all athletes, the bar seems to be set at Majors and championships. How much more pressure is there heading into a tournament like this to get that Major championship?
MICHELLE WIE: I wouldn't really call it pressure. Like I said before, that butterfly in your stomach ‑‑ right when we landed in Wisconsin, I felt it. We're at the U.S. Open. It's a good feeling to have. There is a little bit of that pressure, but I feel like you get a little bit more nervous, you get a little more excited. All kind of sensations are heightened at this week. But I definitely really do want to win.
Q. Judging from your friends at school who aren't out here on tour, what is golf's cool factor? How cool do they see golf?
MICHELLE WIE: All my friends are currently in banking. They're just getting their first golf lessons. Before they weren't even ‑‑ they didn't even care that I played. Right when they knew they were going to Bank of America or Goldman Sachs, they were like I think I need to start playing golf. It was funny. I had to explain to them what a par was.
My friend just went to the U.S. Open last week for the first time. It was the first time they went to a golf course. The funniest comment I heard was about ‑‑ you know, the "quiet please." She's like, "it's like the anti‑cheerleader." It was really funny. It was really cute. It's nice that I have friends that have no idea.
Q. Michelle, on days like today, you get a lot of chances to sign autographs. How important is it to you to be a role model to the young golfers out here getting those autographs today?
MICHELLE WIE: It's great seeing young girls out here, young boys out here. They're the future of golf. If kids stop playing, the golf kind of dies away. It's really important for them to be out here and to kind of look forward to it.
It's just so nice. It's so nice meeting those young people and people that want your autograph, because you kind of see why you're out here. You kind of want to at least ‑‑ I don't know ‑‑ my brain is not working right now. Kind of affect one person in a positive way. If you could just do that every week, it's just great.
THE MODERATOR: The USGA for this championship has decided to allow cell phones and the USGA did not allow them in the U.S. Open, the men's event. How do you think that's going to affect the players?
MICHELLE WIE: It's fine. I think even when you didn't allow them, they were still out there. As long as everyone just turns them off, it doesn't really bother us really that much. Just take pictures, but turn the sound off.
Q. Michelle, some of the TV golf commentators and analysts have said you've gotten mechanical in your swing. Do you feel you have more of a mechanical approach than you did when you were 13 or 14 years old?
MICHELLE WIE: I don't think so. I think when you aren't hitting the ball as well, it's not hard not to think about it. I've been trying to work on that. I've just been just working on trying to just hit it again. I don't think I've become too mechanical per se. I think I've just been thinking a little bit too much. It's also my nature to think and to overanalyze and to try to be too perfect. I realize you need to hit good enough shots out here and hit them ‑‑ just go out and rip them like I used to.
Q. Kind of a two‑part question. One, there's a lot of teenagers under age 18. I think we have a 13‑year‑old out here. Is that a good or a bad thing for the sport? And at that young of an age, how much pressure is on them in this kind of tournament when you have a 14‑year‑old practicing with a former No. 1 player?
MICHELLE WIE: I mean, I played with Lexi yesterday and two 14‑year‑olds. It was pretty crazy. One of them was born the year Se Ri won here. So that's just mind‑blowing to me. But it's also kind of ‑‑ I mean, I think it's great. I think it's great that kids ‑‑ I was that age once. I think personally speaking, being out here playing the U.S. Open it was like, oh, my God, I can't believe this is happening moment. I'm so happy for them that they can enjoy this U.S. Open. I think they ‑‑ it's a lifetime experience they'll never forget. Good or bad, I think it's great for them.
Q. What would you give them as advice in a tournament like this?
MICHELLE WIE: I would say just to have fun. It is a U.S. Open. You're one of very few people to play at a U.S. Open when you're that young. So just have fun and treat it like a normal golf tournament.
THE MODERATOR: We are extremely pleased to welcome Juli Inkster, who not only won three U.S. Women's Amateur Championships in a row, she's a five‑time USGA champion, having won the U.S. Open. And Juli, this is your 33rd Women's Open, which ties the record set by Marlene Hagge the most Opens that a champion has participated in. Your first Women's Open was in 1978. How do you think the women's side of the game has evolved since that time?
JULI INKSTER: Well, it's evolved a great deal. I played '78 as an amateur. I'll never forget, it was in Indianapolis at Indianapolis Country Club. And it was really my first USGA event I ever played in. Could have been my first time I was out of California.
You know, the game ‑‑ it's a business now. Most of these girls when they're 17, 18, they don't go to college. They go right from high school. Or even if they are home‑schooled, they go right to the Tour. AGA, junior, they play almost every week. It's like a factory. They just bring them out.
They're great players. They have perfect swings. They've had the ‑‑ I guess the video machines, the physical therapists, the trainers. We used to just play. We would go out and say let's play. And we would play all day. We would play 36 holes. We didn't have video machines. We didn't know what our swing looks like. We just knew that this is where the ball had to go, and we tried to get it to go there.
So I mean, it's changed a great deal. It's world‑wide now. We're very global. So I think when Se Ri won here in ‑‑ what was it '95?
THE MODERATOR: '98.
JULI INKSTER: '98, that just set Asia on fire as far as women's golf. It's been non‑stop since. So they're great players. Even have a lot of good young Americans coming up that are playing well. It's changed a lot. When I was in high school, if you played a sport, you were kind of known as the jock or whatever. But now when you play ‑‑ I see my kids when they play sports and stuff, now they're the homecoming queen. They have it all. Which is great. Which is the way it should be. These girls want to come out there and beat you up and then put stilettos on at night and make‑up and short skirts, and you go out to dinner with them and you say, wow, did you just beat me? And then you're wearing that? You know?
So it's changed a lot. Like everything, nothing stays the same. It just evolves.
Q. We know how tough the course was in '98. You've played it now. How tough is it out there?
JULI INKSTER: Well, hard to believe I don't remember a lot. All I remember is the wind was really blowing. They played No. 7 as a par‑4. It was tough. It played very tough.
The thing with this golf course, you don't really have a bailout hitting to the greens. You have to get the ball in the fairway to give you a little room for the fairways, but from then on, you have to hit some good, tight iron shots. I think the course is going to play tough. And if the wind picks up, I think it's going to play tougher.
Q. Just talking also about '98, do you play the course any differently than you did 14 years ago? Are you hitting the same clubs that you remember?
JULI INKSTER: Well, one, I don't have my yardage book, so I don't know. They've lengthened the golf course. I hope I play longer than I did in '98. I think it was just a couple of days. So that's my goal.
You know, it's a tough golf course. Everybody knew it coming in. When everybody said Blackwolf Run, I always said that's the toughest golf course I ever played. And it was. With the wind blowing, the greens were firm, the rough was up, it was just ‑‑ it was tough. The greens are a little more susceptible now because we got a little rain. They're rolling great. I don't think the rough is up as much as it was in '98, but it's still tough.
Q. How do you feel about having that distinction of having played so many U.S. Opens? And what is it about the Open that keeps you coming back some might say subject yourself to this test?
JULI INKSTER: Well, I think the U.S. Open is the ultimate golf tournament, and it's a test not only of your physical skills but your mental skills. So, you know, as far as me, it's a tournament of the year. I had elbow surgery in January, and I really worked hard to get back to try to be able to play the Open. So that was my goal.
THE MODERATOR: How do you feel about now tying that record?
JULI INKSTER: Well, I feel great. It's just longevity. I play because I love the game, and I think a lot of it is because I did start late playing golf. And I was never really pressured into playing golf. I just played golf because I loved it. 30 years later I still love it. That's why I play.
Q. Juli, can you talk about the oddity of the first hole, with the elevated green and the blind shot that you need to get in there?
JULI INKSTER: First hole is ‑‑ you know, you just want to ‑‑ I hit 3‑wood off the tee, and then yesterday I hit 8‑iron in and today I hit 6‑iron in because it was totally into the wind. It's a tough shot, because you don't want to be long and you don't want to be right. And the green is very undulated. It's a good starting hole. It's not tight off the tee, which gives you a little leeway. Then you have to be ready to go after that.
Q. You talked about maybe you didn't feel as much pressure when you were younger. You've got a player now like Yani who is 23, has already won five majors, and yet seems to be under a lot of pressure. She feels like she's not playing well. Do you think that's maybe a difficulty some of the younger players have as they're facing more pressure when they're younger?
JULI INKSTER: Totally. Yani, she takes her golf game personally. She wants to succeed. She wants to be the best. But that's the case with the social media these days. I mean, when I won my U.S. Amateurs back in '80, I think people found out the next week. By Pony Express, I think it was. So nowadays top players they are scrutinized for everything. Whether that's right or wrong, it's just the way it is. Yani is young, and I think sometimes it's hard to take. But she's a great player. She cares about the LPGA. She wants to do things right. Her bad game is still probably 90% better than most of the girls out here. So she's going to be just fine. She's got to just go out there and relax and play her game.
Q. How is the elbow? And how is your form?
JULI INKSTER: The elbow is good. I've kind of picked up a lot of the repetitions. I've been hitting them a lot more. So it's a little more tired at night. But it feels good.
The form is a little rusty, but I mean, it's a lot different playing golf at home with the buddies where if you hit a bad shot, you just drop another one and go on.
Competition, getting in the competitive mode is a little rusty, but I feel good. That's half of it.
Q. You're known as a pretty competitive player. After having to take some time off for the elbow, are you chomping at the bit to get back out here?
JULI INKSTER: Yeah. I mean, I've been very lucky. It's my first‑ever injury. I think it was the unknown that kind of got to me, because I really didn't know what to expect or how the rehab was going. But I had a great physical therapist in San Francisco at Active Care. She kind of put me through what we're doing and how we're doing it, and she was right on. So I was very fortunate.
THE MODERATOR: Did you have any fear of that surgery, as a great athlete?
JULI INKSTER: Yeah. It's the unknown. I knew I had a torn tendon, but I didn't know how much it was torn. I didn't know if they were going to have to reattach it, which they did. And then I didn't really know how my strength or durability would come back after that. And I'm still learning that. So I love to hit balls and I love to practice. So I've kind of had to back a little off of that. But being home, Brian and I, we didn't kill each other. We're still married. So it worked.
Q. Going back to Yani, she's going after a career Grand Slam if she wins this week. You won two back in '94. Then you went a long time without winning the next two. Did you have added pressure after you won those first two? Did you make it a goal to win the career Grand Slam?
JULI INKSTER: Golf is such an individual game. You put more pressure on yourself than you need to. I'm sure Yani is feeling that. She feels like her game is not where it should be, and she is the No. 1 player. Why aren't I playing well? Golf is just ‑‑ it's just ‑‑ it's not like that. If you put 20 hours in, that doesn't mean you're going to be 20 times better. A lot of it is between your head and a lot of it is believing in yourself. When things are going great, I mean, it's like you'll never play bad. As soon as things ‑‑ doubt creeps into your mind, then things get a little tougher. It's easy when you're up here and you're playing and playing and playing, good, good, good. And then when you start to fall a little bit, it's really hard to start climbing that ladder again.
Everybody does it differently. I had really two careers. I had before kids I did pretty good, then I had kids and I did bad. After I had kids it took me four, five ‑‑ climbing the ladder, getting back, getting my confidence back. The thing is with these kids being so young, playing so well so early, all of a sudden they're 23, 24, and I'm not saying this about Yani. I'm just saying this about golfers, is they've never really struggled. They don't really know how to climb that ladder again. That's the hard part.
Q. When did you start thinking about a career Grand Slam?
JULI INKSTER: I never really ‑‑ I'm really bad at knowing how many tournaments I've won or Majors or where I won it or how much. I just play and they add up at the end. That's all I do.
THE MODERATOR: I was looking at your stats for the Women's Open. In 1999 in Mississippi you averaged 27.75 putts per round, and then at Prairie Dunes you averaged 26.25 putts per round. And that was so much better than your other average putting rounds throughout the years in the Women's Open.
JULI INKSTER: Yeah, I mean, at the Open you have to putt good. You're going to have a lot of 6, 10, 12‑footers for par. That's just the way the Open is set up. I don't really remember Mississippi, because I thought I hit the ball pretty good in Mississippi. But Prairie Dunes I made everything.
THE MODERATOR: And chipped in a few times.
JULI INKSTER: Yeah. I have to admit, I mean, I was not the best ball‑striker, but I was the best putter. Putting makes up for a lot of mistakes. My game is not pretty, but I'm a grinder. And I just grinded it out. In the USGA that's what you have to do. You just have to grind it out.
THE MODERATOR: I guess my question is how are you putting now?
JULI INKSTER: I'm putting good. I went to the belly putter. I'm putting good.
Q. How tough are these greens?
JULI INKSTER: They're tough. They're sneaky fast. You feel like it's the speed you want it and it gets there and then it just keeps rolling. Especially if you're going up and then over, it's really tough to judge the speed. So you're going to have a lot of 4, 5, 6‑footers for par. The winner of this tournament is going to make those.
Q. Juli, Se Ri Pak opened the door here. Could you just speak to the phenomenon that followed after that? It must have been unexpected.
JULI INKSTER: Yeah. It's been amazing. I played a lot with Ayako Okamoto who was from Japan. She was the first Asian‑born person to come over here and play full time. She had a lot of success. So we had a lot of Japanese golfers come over and play. And then Se Ri came, and again was probably one of the first Korean‑born to play. And then it just kind of took off.
It's amazing when we go over there and play how many girl Korean golfers, South Korean golfers there are. I played with a 13‑year‑old in the Korean U.S. Open, or Korean Open, whatever it is. She blew it by me by 40. I'm like how old are you? She goes 13. I'm like, oh, my God!
It's different from the States. When I was raising my kids, I had them in ballet, dance, music, sports, they were in everything. Over there if you play golf, you play golf. That's what you do. And you do it all day. And whether that's right or wrong or indifferent, or whatever, that's just the way they are brought up. Technically they are brought up very sound. They just go to the driving range and they hit balls. And they hit balls and they hit balls. And their swings are perfect. They're just great golfers. That's what they do.
THE MODERATOR: And your husband Brian is caddying for you this week. You've had quite good success with that in the past.
JULI INKSTER: Yeah. You get what you pay for. We might be a few over the greens. Coming back I really didn't know what I wanted to do caddie‑wise or whatever, and so he said he would caddie. So we just went for it. We'll see.
THE MODERATOR: So far in 2012, Yani Tseng has won three official events on the LPGA Tour. Her best finish in the U.S. Women's Open was a tie for 10th in 2010. Yani, what is the one missing ingredient in your play in the U.S. Women's Open that can take you over the top?
YANI TSENG: I think it's nerves, nerves and pressure, because the very first tournament I watch is the U.S. Open when I was 13. And that year Juli Inkster won. So even now I still have that great memory when I was 13. So every year when I come to the U.S. Open I always feel more nerves and more pressure on this tournament. When I was 13 my dream was playing the U.S. Open. Now I'm trying to think to winning the U.S. Open. It's a very big step for me to think this way.
So I've been learning many, many years. And this is my seventh, eighth U.S. Open. It's getting better. My best is Oakmont, finish 10th. So I was very happy. In this year I feel really good. This year I come out here, I feel like I'm going to have lots of fun and enjoy the crowd. Doesn't matter how good I play, but I think I will have fun this week.
THE MODERATOR: You've struggled a little bit in the past two weeks. You were among the top 50 and then you missed a cut. Have you made any changes coming into this championship?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I do. Like the last two months, couple of months I've been a little struggling. I try to not think too much. I had a missed cut last week. I think it's good for me. Give me a little break and take a rest. And ready for the U.S. Open, because this week is a long week. Just gotta be very patient and I just try not to think about it much. When I get here I'm very exciting. I can't wait to start on Thursday.
Q. Everyone I've been talking with the past couple of weeks has been talking about how long the course is and how difficult the length is going to make the U.S. Open this year. Do you agree it's going to be the most challenging aspect of the tournament? If not, what's going to be the most significant challenge?
YANI TSENG: I think the course longer it's better for me. I wish if they can put every tee on the back, I'm happy with that. The most important on this course is the second shot, how you're hitting on the green with the spot because the green was huge and there's so many slope on the green was really hard to putt on this golf course. So I think you just got to be patient. Going to make a couple of 3‑putt. But everybody is going to make 3‑putt on this golf course, I think. Be patient is part of the most important thing to play in the Major, and I think the golf course is great. I played 9 today and 9 yesterday and I really enjoy playing on this course.
Q. When you look back at the last couple of weeks, is it more a mental thing when you try to dissect what's going wrong?
YANI TSENG: It's more about the mental things. Because my coach Gary was here with me like these couple of weeks. He said even my swing now can win in the tournament. So it must be my mental. Because sometimes when I start on tee I still worry about if my ball is going to hit right or left.
But I feel good this week, actually. I feel very good. I feel very peaceful, and thankful for playing the Open. There's so many I can achieve. The past year how much I've done to winning many tournaments and winning lots of things, it's very thankful for this.
Q. Do you think about winning the career Grand Slam, and if so, what do you think?
YANI TSENG: Yes, of course. It's hard to not think about, because everybody is talking about it. But like I say, I'm not worried about what's my result this week, because I just going to have fun. To have fun and enjoy the Open. It's very different than the other tournaments. Enjoy the golf course. There's a big crowd here. It's really hard. But try to not think about a result and just think about the process. I think that's the most important thing for me this week.
Q. Is that something you've learned from your previous Opens?
YANI TSENG: Yes. I've been learning a lot. I think like this many U.S. Open I play, it's give me lots more experience. I mean, it helps a lot. Every year I've been more calm and more ‑‑ less pressure, less nerves. So this year I feel great.
THE MODERATOR: You say the Women's Open is very different from other tournaments. One thing being the number of spectators. When you go to Asia you're a rock star and you have huge numbers of fans come out. So how in other ways is the U.S. Women's Open different?
YANI TSENG: The history. The history, the traditional, all the best players have won the U.S. Open. It's just a wonderful experience when you step on the first tee and they announce your name, where you're from, where's your country. It's just feels very different than other tournaments.
In other ways this is my first tournament I ever watched. I was 13, and I was holding the flag to get all the players' autograph. I still have a very, very good memory here. Either you're outside the ropes or you're inside the ropes to play, you're going to have so much fun around here.
THE MODERATOR: So you attended this championship when you were 13?
YANI TSENG: No, I just ‑‑ I come and watch. We had four or five Taiwanese players (come here). When you're a junior, you can get hotdog and soft drink and free ticket to come in here. It was so much fun. First time I came here I just tour, I say I want to play this tournament. It looks so much fun.
THE MODERATOR: You played with Na Yeon Choi on and Suzann Pettersen. Is that a good paring for you?
YANI TSENG: It's perfect. Both of them we're very good friends. I played with Suzann in the practice rounds and we're going to start betting this week. I think it's going to be so much fun playing with them. We kind of push each other to get better. When she hit a good shot, I want to hit better than her.
Q. Yani, do you sometimes ‑‑ you talk about focusing on the process instead of the result. Is it sometimes too easy for to you start thinking about results and not thinking about I meant playing well but the numbers aren't coming?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, it's very easy to say, but it's very hard to do. I've been learning this play one shot at a time many, many years and still couldn't do it 100% on the course. One shot at a time, just how much you can commit on the course, I guess. If I have 80% commit on the golf course playing one shot at a time, that's perfect. So it's very hard to commit every shot and play your best, play one shot at a time for the whole day.
So you need to think that way, that's your goal. So I've been learning a lot from the mistakes. The harder you try, the worser you get.
THE MODERATOR: We are very pleased to welcome for the first time at the United States Women's Open Miss Cheyenne Woods who recently graduated from Wake Forest University. This is her first time qualifying for the U.S. Women's Open. Cheyenne, I imagine you know a couple of people who have probably played in U.S. Opens before and maybe even won a couple of them.
CHEYENNE WOODS: Right, a few. One particular in the family.
THE MODERATOR: So have you had any advice from him on what to do this week?
CHEYENNE WOODS: Not necessarily advice, but support. That's probably the biggest thing I can get, his support. Knowing he's excited I'm here and that feels good he's there to support.
THE MODERATOR: Has he been in touch with you at all and where and how?
CHEYENNE WOODS: When I qualified, he was really excited that I made it here. My caddie had spoken with him at ‑‑ I forgot what tournament it was in between then and now. But again, just excited that I'm here and looking forward to how I play.
THE MODERATOR: You recently turned professional. You have a college degree in communications. Why did you choose to make that leap into professional golf as your career?
CHEYENNE WOODS: It's something that I always wanted to do since I was five years old and I started playing golf. Watching Tiger play as I grew up, I knew I wanted to get out there one day. When I did graduate from Wake Forest, I knew that was the next step. It was the next step in my career, and hopefully I'll be here for a while.
Q. What are the positives and negatives of having a famous relative?
CHEYENNE WOODS: Let's see. You see, I wouldn't really say that they're negatives, the expectations and the pressure, because I've grown up with that. And I think that it has helped me get to where I am today and prepare me for this next level, because it is a lot more pressure playing out here for money, playing in front of a crowd. The camera is on you at all times. So I think that that has helped me.
And then the positives would be having his support. He's the best player in the world and I have him at my fingertips if I need help. So it's nice to have.
Q. Cheyenne, in a way do you feel it's a little unfair because you're bracing for your entire career in which you win for the first time, they're going to say Tiger won when he was this old. You win ten times, they're going to say you're behind or ahead of his pace. You're going to be compared your entire career. How do you feel about that?
CHEYENNE WOODS: I mean, it's expected. I mean, I've always said that I'm going on my own path. I have my own progression that I've taken. And just accomplishing my goals and doing what I can do, because Tiger is a very elite athlete. Not everybody can be Tiger Woods. So I just do what I can do to be the best that I can.
THE MODERATOR: You've never played in the U.S. Women's Open in the past. Do you feel anything different in the air when you come here? This is the greatest women's golf championship in the world.
CHEYENNE WOODS: It is. It is. There's a lot of excitement. The fans, the volunteers, everything is run so well by the USGA. So I mean it's really exciting for me to be here finally. It's my first time, like you said. So I'm looking forward to the week and the experience of being a part of this.
THE MODERATOR: What's your plan of attack on this very difficult golf course? CHEYENNE WOODS: The golf course is awesome. I got to play it today for the first time. And the greens are definitely very difficult. They're pretty big with a lot of undulations and breaks. I think that will be a big part in trying to manage those. So I guess I'll focus on putting, trying to keep it on the fairway the best that I can.
Q. What is your favorite Tiger moment?
CHEYENNE WOODS: My favorite Tiger moment. I think that chip shot was pretty awesome. Was at 16 at the Masters. That was pretty cool. That's the one that stands out to me the most. And then this isn't really a Tiger moment, at the ESPYs when Will Farrell accepted Tiger's Athlete of the Year award. That's not Tiger, but it was funny.
Q. Just wondering if you've been to any of his events that he won at?
CHEYENNE WOODS: Actually, I haven't. I don't think. I've been ‑‑ I went to the Phoenix Open a few times when he would play out there from Phoenix, Arizona.
The first time I ever actually watched him play was in '92. I was two years old in the stroller watching him at the L.A. Open. That was the first time I ever watched ‑‑ I don't remember it, but I was there.
Q. What are your expectations and goals for this week?
CHEYENNE WOODS: For this week to definitely improve from how I played at the LPGA Championship. That was my LPGA professional career ‑‑ I mean debut for my career. And definitely make the cut. I was pretty happy with how I played overall at the LPGA Championship starting out. But there were some things I wanted to improve, and so hopefully here I'm able to do that.
Q. Cheyenne, you stayed in college all four years. We've got so many young girls in the field. What were your thoughts about staying in college four years? Did that work for you? And what were your experiences like?
CHEYENNE WOODS: It worked for me. It was great to have those four years at Wake Forest. I got my education and I was also able to play four years of collegiate golf. Traveling every year with my team, playing every week almost. So I think it helped me learn how to manage my time, create that balance, and also have a life outside of golf with my friends and my teammates and everything like that.
It's definitely exciting to see some girls that I've played with in college here at the Open this week. It makes me feel a little comfortable seeing people I'm familiar with.
THE MODERATOR: You're sort of new on the scene, so we haven't really become accustomed to seeing what your golf game is like. What would you say are the strengths of your game? And also maybe if you have a weakness.
CHEYENNE WOODS: My strengths, I would say I'm pretty good with my wedges. I wok on those a lot. My ball striking is something I have been working on. But I would say my wedges, I'm pretty confident with those.
THE MODERATOR: How about your putting? It's always a big factor in the Women's Open.
CHEYENNE WOODS: It is. I've been working on my putting a lot, so hopefully it will come through this week.
Q. Just out of curiosity, have you ever had Tiger look at your swing or look for some pointers to help you with your swing?
CHEYENNE WOODS: Yeah, he's overlooked my swing a little bit. But I do have my personal swing coach at home, Mike Labauve. Tiger kind of lets him do his own thing. He has watched me for the past almost ten years now. So he knows my game better than anyone else, I would say.