U.S. Women's Open Championship
Third-round notes and interviews
July 7, 2012
Na Yeon Choi -8, Rolex Rankings No. 5
Amy Yang -2, Rolex Rankings No. 13
Lexi Thompson -1, Rolex Rankings No. 23
Sandra Gal -1, Rolex Rankings No. 39
Suzann Pettersen +1, Rolex Rankings No. 6
Paula Creamer +1, Rolex Rankings No. 12 and 2010 U.S. Women's Open champion
Michelle Wie +2, Rolex Rankings No. 40
Yani Tseng +8, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Lydia Ko +9, (a)
Five-time LPGA Tour winner Na Yeon Choi will have an opportunity to capture the biggest victory of her career, as she carries a six-stroke lead into Sunday's final round of the 67th U.S. Women's Open. Choi, who is ranked fifth in the Rolex Rankings, put on a masterful display on the Championship Course at Blackwolf Run Saturday by firing a 7-under 65. Choi's round tied Karrie Webb (1997) and Judy Clark (1985) for the lowest 3rd round score in U.S. Women's Open history and only four lower rounds have ever been recorded in the history of the championship.
Choi's impressive 65 came on a day where scoring proved to be difficult for the majority of the field. The winds picked up in Kohler, Wis. and only five players managed to shoot under par in the third round. At the end of Saturday's play, only five players remained under par through 54 holes.
While Choi has five wins already on her resume, she is still seeking her first win in a major championship.
The 24-year-old South Korean has come close many times with seven top-10 finishes, including a career-best T2 at the U.S. Women's Open in 2010 at Oakmont Country Club. Choi will try to become the fourth South Korean in the last five years to win the American national championship.
"I'm pretty sure I'll be nervous tomorrow, but I think I won't miss that feeling," Choi said. "I have confidence and this is a good opportunity to be winning the U.S. Open. So I just hope to get a good warmup tomorrow morning and just go out there with my caddie and have fun."
Choi's last victory on the LPGA Tour came at the 2011 Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia last October when she defeated Yani Tseng by one stroke.
Consistency pays off: Ask any player on the LPGA Tour to mention a player who consistency puts together solid rounds and Na Yeon Choi would surely be a name that's frequently mentioned. Choi, who won the 2010 Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average, has tallied double-digit top-10 finishes in each of the last three seasons on the LPGA Tour.
On Saturday, she put that consistency on display with an unbelievable performance on the Blackwolf Run Championship Course. Choi hit 12 fairways and 13 greens while needing just 26 putts en route to shooting 65.
"I had a really good warmup this morning," Choi said. "When I done with my warmup, I talked to my manager, and said today will be very difficult day. But my manager said you can do it. She encouraging me.
"And then I had birdie on 1st hole and birdie on 2nd hole. Then I got some good vibes from there, good confidence from there. It was really fun out there. I had fun out there. And then -- actually, I couldn't believe how I got eight birdies today. But I did. And I'm very happy, and I'm very satisfied and I'm very excited."
Honoring a legend: Na Yeon Choi still vividly remembers the day that Se Ri Pak captured the 1998 U.S. Women's Open at Blackwolf Run. Choi was 10 years old at the time of the victory and hadn't picked up the game of golf yet. But following that historic win by Pak, Choi's life changed and so did the lives of many other South Koreans.
"I think that was like big for all the Korean people," Choi said. "Even some people who didn't play golf. I think we had bad economy in Korea that moment, but she won on the LPGA Tour and that was amazing all the Korean people. So I think after she won in June or July, even until like December, I watched it on the TV what she playing on U.S. Open. I kept turning on, turning on. So I remember everything that feeling, and I really want to continue that feeling to the Korean people."
Choi recalled the first time that she met Pak. It came back in 2004 when she was 16 years old and was playing in her first KLPGA event as an amateur. Choi went on to win that event and turned professional right after the victory. So she acknowledges that having her first major come at Blackwolf Run would be very special.
"After Se Ri won on the LPGA tour, I think all the Korean people or even a lot of players has bigger dream than before," Choi said. "And even me, just dream was professional golfer on KLPGA tour. Just Korean player. But after she won and even Grace Park or Mi Hyun Kim, when they did that LPGA tour, I changed my goal. I have to go to the LPGA tour and I want to win on the LPGA tour. So they encouraged all the Korean players and we have bigger dream because of them."
Move of the Day: Amy Yang has come close many times to capturing her first victory on the LPGA Tour but that win has proved so far to be elusive. Yang posted seven top-10 finishes in 2011 and now she could have another chance at a win.
Yang shot a 3-under 69 to move into second place at 2-under-par heading into Sunday's final round. Yang, who will turn 23 later this month, has often been compared to her hero, Se Ri Pak, both in terms of looks and also the quality of her golf game. Now the young South Korean might have the opportunity to capture her first victory at the place where Pak captured arguably the most famous victory of her career.
As for Yang's approach heading into Sunday, she said that her goal is not to change anything about how she plays.
"I'm just going to keep being patient tomorrow, try to do my best," Yang said.
Quest continues: Lexi Thompson already has the distinction as the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history. But the 17-year-old will have a chance on Sunday to become the youngest golfer ever - male or female -- to win a major championship. She would be 10 days younger than Young Tom Morris was when he won the British Open in 1868.
Thompson kept herself in the championship hunt by shooting an even-par 72 in Saturday's third round. She will enter Sunday seven shots behind leader Na Yeon Choi at 1-under-par but like many other players, Thompson said she can't focus too much on that large deficit.
"I'm not going to just try to go after her," Thompson said. "I'm going to play my own game and the golf course. That's all I can do is focus on my game and nobody else's."
Moving on Up! One player who was able to make a solid jump up the leaderboard on Saturday was 2010 U.S. Women's Open champion Paula Creamer, who fired a 1-under 71 to move from a T29 into a T7 at 1-over-par.
Creamer certainly will have her work cut out for her if she's to capture a second U.S. Open title since she's nine shots behind leader Na Yeon Choi. But Creamer was pleased with the move that she was able to make during difficult playing conditions on Saturday.
"Definitely I wanted to shoot under par before I went out there and I would have taken it in a heartbeat," Creamer said of her round of 71. "It's playing tough. But you can make your birdies. There's some holes where you can put a close wedge. It's just different wind we have had, and the pin placements, the USGA did a very good job tucking them."
So what does Creamer expect for the course setup on Sunday?
"I don't know where they can even put some of these pins tomorrow with what they did today," Creamer said. "But you know, you know that's going to happen. The USGA doesn't like it when how many people, 10, 11 people were under par, whatever it was. They made it hard today. It helped with the wind, made it even tougher. It also helps where they put some of these tee boxes for some of these pins. I never thought 6 would be a back tee box, but it is. I made a par and I felt like I made a birdie."
Not a strong finish: The final pairing for Saturday's third round featured two well-known players in Suzann Pettersen and Michelle Wie, but on "Moving Day," both players found themselves headed in the wrong direction.
Pettersen, who led after 36 holes at 5-under-par, and Wie, who was T2 after shooting a 66 on Friday, each shot a 6-over 78 to move respectively to 1-over and 2-over for the championship. While neither player could be considered completely out of the championship following their rough third rounds, they know that it will take a lot to catch Choi since conditions will surely be tough again on Sunday.
"There's birdies out there," Pettersen said. "I think the wind is going to be a little bit less tomorrow from what I've seen. So if you get off to a hot start, hopefully put a number down early in the clubhouse. Who knows."
"Obviously a low score is good," said Wie of her goal for Sunday. "You have to look for that. But it's still Blackwolf Run and shooting 65 is difficult, so I'm going to go out there and play the best score I can. Par is a good score, but obviously being so far back right now you have to make some birdies out there tomorrow."
Rough going: Yani Tseng's quest for the career grand slam will have to wait another year. Tseng failed to make up ground in Saturday's third round, firing a 6-over 78 to move to 8-over-par for the championship and 16 shots out of the lead. It certainly was not the type of performance that the 23-year-old was hoping for this week, although she took solace in her play on the back nine Saturday.
"The front 9 could have been much better," Tseng said of her round on Saturday. "I feel stressful, because I mean, if you feel comfortable to hit on the shot, I don't think that's very hard goal to achieve. And today I just didn't do it, those three, four holes. I feel confidence on the back 9. Hitting lots of good shots on the back 9 too.
Tseng's 78 on Saturday marked the 10th consecutive round that she has failed to break par. It's been a rough stretch for the world's No. 1 golfer but she is trying to take the positives out of each round.
"I feel much better," Tseng said. "This week I feel way better than last couple of weeks. I think my game is on the way -- I think it's going to be coming back soon. I have two weeks off. I'm going to the Evian. So I'm going to get ready for the Evian. I think tomorrow if I play a good day then everything will feel good."
Low Am honors: 15-year-old Lydia Ko has an opportunity to take home low amateur honors this week at the U.S. Women's Open. After shooting a 7-over 79 on Saturday to move to 9-over-par overall, Ko leads fellow amateur Alison Lee by three shots.
"I want to become the leading amateur for this tournament," Ko said. "But the pressure was a bit off [after I made the cut], because I've never missed a cut in a tournament, and I would be kind of gutted if I did it at the U. S. Open. And it's better experience if you play on the weekend, too."
Ko, who is ranked the No. 1 Women's Amateur in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, became the youngest person to ever win a professional golfer event back in February. She won the Bing Lee/Samsung Women's NSW Open on the ALPG at the age of 14. Ko also played in one LPGA Tour event earlier this year, the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open, where she finished in a T19.
Of Note…Co-first-round leader Brittany Lincicome bounced back from an 80 on Saturday to shoot a 2-over 74 and sits in a T33 at 2-over-par…While there were only five rounds under par in the third round, there were 19 scores recorded in the 80s…The average score for Saturday's third round was 76.90.
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, Na Yeon Choi with a wonderful round of 65 today. The low round of the championship. And she had nine birdies. Is that right?
NA YEON CHOI: Eight.
THE MODERATOR: Eight birdies. And one bogey. That's what I'm looking at. Eight birdies. You putted very well today. You only had 26 putts. That's better than you did in the first two rounds. And yet your approach shots put you in a position to have shorter putts for birdies. Would you say that was the key to your round, your approach shots to the greens?
NA YEON CHOI: I think yesterday I had a 2 bogey on par-5. And then after second round yesterday, I talked to my caddie, we need -- try to get birdie on par-5. So like today we -- it's not like different approaching to the green, but I had more focus on my short game and putting. So I had a lot of birdies today. I think that's why I had a good score.
26 putts, that was amazing putting stroke during 18 holes. So I have a good feeling about my putting speed and putting strokes. So I hope to get good results tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: When you came out the wind was blowing pretty hard, when you teed off. And it would have seemed that a round like this would have been almost impossible.
NA YEON CHOI: I mean, actually, I had a really good warmup this morning. But like when I done with my warmup, I talked to my manager, today will be very difficult day. But my manager said you can do it. She encouraging me.
And then I had birdie on 1st hole and birdie on 2nd hole. Then I got some good vibes from there, good confidence from there.
It was really fun out there. I had fun out there. And then -- actually, I couldn't believe how I got eight birdies today. But I did. And I'm very happy, and I'm very satisfied and I'm very excited.
THE MODERATOR: She is only 24 years old, but in 2010 she was the leading money winner on the tour and she also won the Glenna Collette Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average. She's certainly well-known among her opponents.
Q. Can you remember having played a better round before? And if so, what was that one like?
NA YEON CHOI: Do I have better round before? I remember I had 9 under par from 2009 Samsung World Championship in third round. I think 9 under par or 8 under par. I couldn't remember exactly. I think that was the lowest score in my life during tournament.
THE MODERATOR: Was that as good as this round, though?
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah. I mean, when I hit lower than 60 -- I think all the 60s score is good for all the players.
Q. There's a lot of talk going into this tournament how Se Ri's victory in 1998 inspired a lot of people. Were you one of those people? I think you were around 10 years old at that time.
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah.
Q. If so, would winning here be particularly meaningful for you?
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah. I think at that moment I was nine or ten years old. And I was watching on TV. Because I started golf, and then I think she -- I think all the Korean people think a Korean couldn't win on the LPGA tour. But she did. After she won on the LPGA tour, I think all the Korean people or even a lot of players has bigger dream than before. And even me, just dream was professional golfer on KLPGA tour. Just Korean player. But after she won and even Grace Park or Mi Hyun Kim, when they did that LPGA tour, I changed my goal. I have to go to the LPGA tour and I want to win on the LPGA tour.
So they encouraged all the Korean players and we have bigger dream because of them.
THE MODERATOR: And you have five wins on the LPGA Tour. When Se Ri won, that was the middle of the night in Korea, wasn't it?
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah.
THE MODERATOR: What were you doing up at nine or ten years old that time of night?
NA YEON CHOI: I don't think I watched it live on TV. But I think that was like big for all the Korean people. Even some people who didn't play golf. I think we had bad economy in Korea that moment, but she won on the LPGA Tour and that was amazing all the Korean people.
So I think after she won in June or July, even until like December, I watched it on the TV what she playing on U.S. Open. She kept turning on, turning on. So I remember everything that feeling, and I really want to continue that feeling to the Korean people.
Q. Some of the girls seemed bothered by the wind today. It picked up a little bit from the first two days. Didn't seem to affect your game. Can you just comment on that?
NA YEON CHOI: A lot of wind out there, but right now it's calm out there. But when I am playing today, there was a lot of wind out there, but I tried just put the ball exactly where I want, and when my caddie gave me number, I just trust that number and swing it. All my 14 clubs worked very well today. I think I had a really good patience until the 18th hole.
THE MODERATOR: And she hit 15 greens in regulation figures. That's extraordinary in these conditions.
Q. What's your strategy when playing with a really big lead? And are you comfortable with that?
NA YEON CHOI: Especially this week I just want to focus on my aim and rhythm about my swing, and then especially putting. I have to hit good speed, because this course has a really big green. So even when I hit to the green, I can hit like 40 yard or 60-yard putt on 9.
Especially this week I tried to focus on my putting speed and just good rhythm with my swing and just good aim. If I hit one bad shot, I don't want to judge from that one shot. Because this is a very difficult course, and then sometimes we can't judge -- I mean compare this week and regular tournament week. This is a lot harder than regular weeks.
So I don't judge or compare with the other week. I just do my best and then I just want to hit without regret.
THE MODERATOR: Why do you think this is harder than a regular tournament week?
NA YEON CHOI: I think the length is almost 7,000 yards. I think the USGA set up a difficult course -- I mean green speed is very fast. If I compare last year and this year, I think last year was more narrow fairway and very longer rough. But this week I think it's more like the fairway and green has a lot of big undulations. So we have to hit exactly where I want. And then we have to get a lot of long putts.
Q. Obviously it was sort of a rough finish for you at the LPGA Championship. Can you maybe talk about did that motivate you more to play very well in this tournament?
NA YEON CHOI: I'm sorry. I couldn't understand. Yeah, I had the miscue from the LPGA championship. But I think humans can have mistakes. I think I tried to don't think about that. I mean, I had the miscue, but after that happened, I can't control this. I wasn't mad maybe after 10 or 15 minutes. But after that I talked to mom and dad and -- it's already happened, finished. So I tried to accept that happened, and I just tried to do my best next tournament.
THE MODERATOR: You said earlier that doing interviews made you more nervous than playing golf today.
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah. I do study my English last two or three years. But right now I'm more nervous than out there. I don't want to mistake in front of a lot of people. But I tried to improve my English because I want to connect with all the American fans and media. So I just do my best every day, learn a lot of vocabulary. Right now I'm more nervous than out there.
THE MODERATOR: You do very well with English. If you're nervous about this, how do you think you'll feel tonight? Are you going to be nervous having a big lead? Are you going to be nervous on the first tee? What will that be like?
NA YEON CHOI: I'm pretty sure I'll be nervous tomorrow, but I think I won't miss that feeling. I think it's time to back on track. I have confidence and this is a good opportunity to be winning U.S. Open. So I just hope to get -- I hope to get good warmup tomorrow morning and just go out there with my caddie and have fun.
THE MODERATOR: All right, that was an absolutely fantastic round of golf. I need to ask you about the length of your birdie putts and what clubs you hit into the greens. So we'll start with No. 1. What club did you hit to the green there?
NA YEON CHOI: Can I look at this?
THE MODERATOR: Yes, you may.
NA YEON CHOI: I hit 3-hybrid for tee shot. Then I hit 100 yard with a 48 degree wedge.
THE MODERATOR: How long was your putt?
NA YEON CHOI: Maybe three feet.
THE MODERATOR: And No. 2, just what club you hit into the green?
NA YEON CHOI: 58 degree.
THE MODERATOR: And how long was your putt?
NA YEON CHOI: Putter was 15 feet.
THE MODERATOR: And then we go to No. 7 and the club that you hit to the green?
NA YEON CHOI: I hit 8-iron.
THE MODERATOR: And how long was that putt?
NA YEON CHOI: Almost like 20 feet.
THE MODERATOR: So that was a long one.
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah.
THE MODERATOR: No. 8.
NA YEON CHOI: I hit 8-iron for tee shot. And putt was like 15 feet.
THE MODERATOR: And then No. 10?
NA YEON CHOI: I hit 58 for 30 shot.
THE MODERATOR: How long was the putt?
NA YEON CHOI: Maybe two feet.
THE MODERATOR: Those are fun.
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah.
THE MODERATOR: No. 11. What club?
NA YEON CHOI: Second shot -- I was 48 degree.
THE MODERATOR: And the putt was --
NA YEON CHOI: The putt was I think three or four feet. Like four feet.
THE MODERATOR: And No. 12?
NA YEON CHOI: I hit 8-iron. And then I think another four feet.
THE MODERATOR: 140 feet?
NA YEON CHOI: No, 8-iron for second shot. And then four feet.
THE MODERATOR: And then the bogey on 13.
NA YEON CHOI: I hit the 3-putt.
THE MODERATOR: From what distance to start?
NA YEON CHOI: The first putt was almost like 50 feet. Like 17 yards, I think.
THE MODERATOR: And then you had that nice birdie, your last one on No. 17. What club did you hit?
NA YEON CHOI: I hit 7-iron for tee shot. My putt was 15 feet.
Q. Lots of birdies today.
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah. I had a lot of birdies today.
Q. What did you feel like when you began your round? When did you feel like you had something going today?
NA YEON CHOI: I mean I didn't try hard, you know. A lot of people think or even, you know, before I started I thought today would be very difficult because a lot of wind blowing. But you know, I started two birdies, first hole, second hole. So I had good vibes from there. So I have confidence until last hole, and I think, you know, I had good patience. So that's why I had good round today.
Q. Is this special for you because of what Se Ri did here back in 1998?
NA YEON CHOI: Yes. This is a very special golf course and very honored because 14 years ago I was playing golf and then I was watching on TV. And when she take off shoes and socks, I remember that feeling. And then you know, like Se Ri Pak did. She inspired all of the Korean players.
So I mean not even me, I think all the Korean players feel very honored to play this week and very special. So yeah, I'm very honored to play this week, and I really hope to continue from since 14 years ago.
Q. Did I read it correctly that you actually defeated Se Ri earlier in your career?
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah. I think it was like almost eight years ago, when I was 16, 17 years old. Yeah, I played KLPGA player from amateur, and she was playing there, and yeah, I won the tournament. That's why I turned pro in Korea.
I mean she's -- actually all of my friends, all the golfers in Korea we called the legend to Se Ri. I mean I really appreciate what she did on the LPGA Tour. No way we come here without them.
Q. Did you surprise yourself today? Did you catch yourself by surprise the way you played out there?
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah, I was very surprised, and I couldn't remember, but the main thing I wasn't nervous on the course. Right now I'm more nervous right now. But on the course I wasn't nervous, and I had fun with my caddie and even my partner, Nicole. And I think I had a great time out there. Yeah.
Q. Do you think that's going to change tomorrow with all the pressure and everybody looking at you? What do you think it's going to be like waking up tomorrow and knowing you're leading by so much?
NA YEON CHOI: Honestly, it will be a lot of pressure tomorrow, but you know, I know what I have to do, and I know what I can control. I cannot control winning. I can't control score, so I just do my best and I just hit one shot at a time. I hope to get good warmup tomorrow morning and just go out there and like today, fun with my caddie.
Q. How were the galleries out there?
NA YEON CHOI: I was very thankful. A lot of spectators were out there, a lot of Korean people, too. So I think they were very supporting me a lot, and encouraging me. Yeah, I think they helped me a lot.
Q. How will you keep your eye away from the board tomorrow, because everybody's coming for you, you don't want to look over your shoulder?
NA YEON CHOI: Actually, even today I was looking leaderboard on 9, and then my caddie said, what are you looking at. Don't look at it. And then after that I tried to don't watch leaderboard until last hole. So just after play, after score card signed and then I knew what happened on the course. So even tomorrow I will try don't watch leaderboard and just focus on my game and play my game.
Q. Do you remember where you were, were you watching on TV at home? Did you like stay up all night to watch it?
NA YEON CHOI: I can't remember exactly where I was, but I remember that feeling. That was very big boost of all the Korean people. So I was only nine years old and maybe I can shoot like 90 score or something like that, but I remember that feeling. So really I want to keep continue that feeling and I want to give to all the Korean people what Se Ri did 14 years ago and tomorrow.
Q. You played very well today. Tell us about your round.
AMY YANG: I had a great day today. My ball striking was good. It was windy conditions, but it was good play.
Q. Were there any particular holes that stood out to you that really helped your round today?
AMY YANG: It was quite a lot. I had some good shots to the greens. Had good chances.
Q. You said it was a little windy today. Compare the first two rounds to playing today in the wind.
AMY YANG: It's a lot different. Almost there was no wind last two days, but it was 15 to 20 miles, and it made the course a little bit drier and hard to play. Thankfully my striking was good, and it's great.
Q. What was it like with all the spectators out today watching?
AMY YANG: You know, it's always so great out here, the U. S. Open, a lot of people. I like to play in this crowd.
Q. Did you think the course setup was more difficult today than it was the first two days, outside of the wind? Do you think they set it up harder today because of the low scores?
AMY YANG: I think all three days was hard. Yeah.
Q. And now looking at tomorrow you're real close to the top of the leaderboard. What kind of changes in your mind and how do you look at playing differently tomorrow?
AMY YANG: Nothing change. I'm just going to keep being patient tomorrow, try to do my best.
Q. Are you surprised that you were the first person to break 70 today?
AMY YANG: Oh, I was? Like I said before, I was hitting the ball so good. So yeah, it feels good.
Q. I guess last I looked, you're third on the leaderboard now but Na Yeon is minus 7?
AMY YANG: Yeah. She's playing good.
Q. Does Na Yeon have the type of game to really excel at an Open. Tell me a little bit about her game.
AMY YANG: Her game is really good, you know. Everything she hits the ball so good, putting very good, and it's -- yeah. I think she's a great player.
Q. It's an Open. Her game fits an Open setup?
AMY YANG: Yeah, I think so.
Q. Were you scoreboard watching at all today? Were you kind of keeping track and know what you had to do to make that move?
AMY YANG: I was watching it, but I didn't really try to make birdies to get up there, you know. Just same play.
Q. 72 seems like a pretty good score today. Is that something you're happy with?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah. I'm very happy with it. It was a little windier today and some harder pin placements. Just had one bad hole, but I'll take it for sure.
Q. You said some harder pin placements. Compare the course today versus how it was the first two rounds.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, just a few holes they tucked a few more pins, but today I think it got up to 10 to 15-mile-per-hour winds. It got pretty gusty. The other days it wasn't blowing that much.
Q. What do you think about the way Na Yeon is playing today? Have you played with her that much?
LEXI THOMPSON: No. I don't think I've ever actually played with her, but 7-under at an Open is pretty good I would say. So she's leading by a good amount, but I'm still going to go for it.
Q. I was going to say, what's your mindset like with someone with that kind of a margin?
LEXI THOMPSON: I'm not going to just try to go after her. I'm going to play my own game and the golf course. That's all I can do is focus on my game and nobody else's.
Q. With so few rounds being under par today, hers seems to be the anomaly. How do you get in your mind I'm going to have to go low. I know you don't want to look at here, but you're going to have to get a pretty low number and there don't seem to be many out there.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah. You know, you just have to take the easier holes and try to make birdies there, but pars and birdies are good out here. Just gotta make your worst score a bogey.
Q. What's your mindset going to bed at night and waking up tomorrow and knowing where you are on the leaderboard. What has prepared you for this moment to chase a U.S. Open championship?
LEXI THOMPSON: I'm not going to have any different mindset, just go in tomorrow with the same attitude, confidence and trust my shots out here and play the way I have been.
Q. Talk about 9. You were on a roll coming into 9. You had to wait a long time for the second shot. Does that get your rhythm in trouble?
LEXI THOMPSON: On 9 I actually hit a really good shot into the green. It just ended up running through and chipped up to about six, seven feet, but didn't end up making it. It wasn't really that bad of a bogey, so I wasn't too upset with it, so I just moved on.
Q. Sandra, you probably went the wrong way compared to where you thought you should go, and now you've got a little bit of ground to catch up. Assess your round and what's your chances heading into tomorrow?
SANDRA GAL: You know, actually overall I don't think it's that bad of a round. The conditions were really tough out there, and I thought some of the tee boxes and pin positions were as well. So I can't help that one girl shot 65 out there. I mean that's very, very impressive. So obviously that's a long way to catch up, but second place is only 2-under. So you never know what's going to happen tomorrow, but I think I fought well out there. It was really tough, and I hung in there.
Q. Is there another 65 out there tomorrow or do you need her to come back to the group a little bit?
GAL: Yeah. Well, obviously there is. I don't know if the conditions are going to be tougher tomorrow or not. I hope not, but whatever the day brings.
But obviously there is a 65 out there. So I think that's a good thing to see because you can look up to that.
Q. Sandra, compared to your other rounds, the conditions probably made you turn the direction you didn't want to go, but you probably played about as well. Is that a good estimation?
SANDRA GAL: Yeah. I did miss a few shots on the front nine there that were a bit unnecessary, but the rest of the round I played pretty decent, you know.
Like I said, I hung in there.
Q. How did you feel playing in the second-to-the-last group?
SANDRA GAL: It always feels good. There was huge crowds out there, much more than the last couple days. So it was great to see, and hopefully it's going to be a good Sunday.
Q. Any shout-outs from the crowd at all to you?
SANDRA GAL: Yeah. Lots of them. I have a lot of friends following me, which is nice too.
Q. Talk a little bit about your round today.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: It was hard to get a rhythm to start off. It took forever to play. A lot of holdups. I felt like I made the turn, and one over. Just lost a little bit there at the Back 9.
Feels bad to give away that many shots in that few holes. But it's a U. S. Open and hopefully -- well, I have a round tomorrow to make up for it. Today wasn't easy. Today was kind of the biggest test a little more, I think. Just made a few mistakes.
Q. How do you reassess tomorrow, and do you take it any differently because it's a final round?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Not really. I gotta go out and try and be really aggressive. Na Yeon played phenomenal golf today it looks like. And today wasn't the day of my best precision, and it gets you.
Q. The wind brought a new element into this championship.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: This is how I thought it would be from the get-go. This is how it was when I played practice rounds here, so I guess the first few days was kind of a bonus for us players.
Q. Kind of a daunting number to see what Choi put out today and what you have to try and hope to get to or hope that she comes back to?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: You know what, there's birdies out there. I think the wind is going to be a little bit less tomorrow from what I've seen. So if you get off to a hot start, hopefully put a number down early in the clubhouse. Who knows.
Q. Considering there's only five rounds under par today, how impressive was it the round that Na Yeon put up today?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I don't know. I couldn't believe the scores I saw, to be honest. I got up to six myself after two holes. But I had a few sloppy shots. And it's impressive golf.
Q. Did the wind affect play a little bit?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Of course it makes it a little bit -- it's another element to bring into the challenge.
Other than that, the course is playing great. It's receptive still. The wind firmed up the greens a little bit, like the par 5 on 16, that's such a slippery little pin even if you're coming in with a chip shot. And I guess that's what we gotta expect for tomorrow.
Q. Anything under par I guess today would be pretty darn good; right?
PAULA CREAMER: Yeah. Definitely I wanted to shoot under par before I went out there. I would have taken it in a heartbeat.
It's playing tough. But you can make your birdies. There's some holes where you can put a close wedge. It's just different wind we have had, and the pin placements, the USGA did a very good job tucking them.
Q. Were there any that were really tough hole locations?
PAULA CREAMER: More on the back side. The front side I thought was playing really tough with 6 and 8. Those were some heck of par 3s right there. 10 was all right. 11 is fine, hitting a shorter shot. I think the Back 9 pin locations were tucked but you're hitting a shorter club as opposed to the front nine.
Q. How close do you have to be to have a chance tomorrow?
PAULA CREAMER: I wanted to get in around even. That was my goal. Even or 1-under. Obviously when I woke up this morning and saw it was so windy, I knew even par would be a good score.
Hopefully if I'm within four or five and I can go out a little bit earlier than them and make some birdies, you never know what's going to happen.
Q. You went right to the putting green after your round yesterday. Did you feel more comfortable with your strokes today?
PAULA CREAMER: Yeah, I was there when it was dark on the putting green last night. Yeah, it's just a confidence thing, and obviously, you can look at my stats, my putting has been an issue. I've hit the ball great. I've given myself so many opportunities. I was incredibly frustrated yesterday. I haven't been that frustrated for a long time after a round and I had to go grind it out on the putting green. Definitely it helped today. I made some more putts and that was good.
Q. I saw you lipped out violently on 15 yesterday and it seemed you let out a little yell. It probably was indicative of the week you've been having where you've been kind of around the hole.
PAULA CREAMER: Well, it's not only this week. It's been pretty much every week, it seems like. And I gotta get over it. It is what it is and it can't be like this forever. That's for sure.
Like I said, this is a big test for me to overcome, and it's a mental grind, and I've just gotta put the time in and work hard and take it to the golf course, and we'll see. It's getting better. I just have to continue being positive.
I know I'm a good putter. It's just a matter of time.
Q. Is it more of a confidence thing or is it something physical that you're still struggling with?
PAULA CREAMER: I think what happens is I have some makeable putts, and ultimately I give myself opportunity almost every other hole for a good look at birdie and I'm constantly being held with these 15, 20-footers. And you're not going to make them all. Over time I miss them and I think maybe something is wrong with my stroke. But nothing is wrong with my stroke. It's just matching my speed and my line.
Q. When you go out tomorrow are you going to put a number in your head that you feel like you need to get to or do you feel like that would mess up your game even more?
PAULA CREAMER: Depending on the wind and the weather, I think that's going to be a part of it. A pin like today it's tough, it's hard out there. You just have to take what it gives tomorrow.
I'm glad I'm done. I wish I would have finished at even, one over, but it is what it is and I'll start off strong tomorrow.
Q. Does it help having won two years ago to sort of say, well, I kind of know what it takes and you could adjust maybe better to that round?
PAULA CREAMER: Of course. I mean there's no better experience than winning at a U. S. Open and being however far behind I'm going to be.
I mean I'm a chaser. I love chasing, you know, so definitely I have a confidence factor in the fact that I have won a national championship and I can do it again. It's just having some putts fall and getting some good breaks out there.
Q. How long were you practicing in the dark last night? Would you do that again or do you need to rest?
PAULA CREAMER: No. I'll continue doing what I've been doing. Just because I had a decent day in this weather doesn't mean I'm going to go sit in there and just say yea, that kind of thing. No, I need to grind it out.
You know, last night obviously the rounds took forever, so it was dark when we finished any ways. But I will. I'll continue to do my practice afterwards.
Q. Paula, do you think the course setup today was a reflection of some of the comments and some of the scores?
PAULA CREAMER: 100 percent. Yes. 100 percent.
Q. Where do you think they'll put the pins tomorrow?
PAULA CREAMER: I don't know where they can even put some of these pins tomorrow, what they did today. But you know, you know that's going to happen. The USGA doesn't like it when how many people, 10, 11 people were under par, whatever it was. They made it hard today. It helped with the wind, made it even tougher. It also helps where they put some of these tee boxes for some of these pins. I never thought 6 would be a back tee box, but it is. I made a par and I felt like I made a birdie.
Q. If you're chasing, would you rather it be harder or easier?
PAULA CREAMER: Oh, harder. 100 percent. I like it when it's this. You gotta hit good golf shots and that's what golf is about is being able to work the ball right-to-left and left-to-right. When you get the calm, easy days, I don't like that.
Q. What are your thoughts on the leaderboard? There's a lot of big names up there.
PAULA CREAMER: Oh, this golf course, like I said, suits top players, and people who can make the big putts at the big moments are going to be at the top. And Suzann, she's going to be a tough competitor. She's come close to this championship in the last several years, so you know she's going to grind it out really hard and want to hang in there.
Q. Conditions were a little bit different today than they have been the first two days. Did that affect the way you played at all?
MICHELLE WIE: It was tough out there, for sure. It was playing tough, and I left a couple of putts and left a couple of shots out there.
Granted, it was playing really tough out there, but a little disappointed with my play today, but the thing is it's still the U. S. Open. Na Yeon had a really awesome score today and we'll see what happens tomorrow.
Q. Saw your course record lasted for all of the day. Knowing how hard it was for you to post a 66, what does that say about a 65 when the pins were a little tougher today?
MICHELLE WIE: I mean it was tough out there. It was pretty crazy, that 65 today. Good for her. But I think tomorrow we'll see what happens.
Q. In reality does she need to back up because it's unlikely to see another 65 or 66?
MICHELLE WIE: You never know what happens. It was playing tough today, especially on the front nine.
Q. How was the wind a factor in your game today?
MICHELLE WIE: It was different because the winds were different. The par-3s played a lot differently. Every hole played differently, but I felt I did a pretty good job of managing that. Like I said, I hit a couple of loose shots and I felt like my putts should have gone in that didn't go. So hopefully I'll get them back tomorrow.
Q. What's your mindset going into tomorrow being so far back?
MICHELLE WIE: Obviously a low score is good. You have to look for that. But it's still Blackwolf Run and shooting 65 is difficult, so I'm going to go out there and play the best score I can.
Par is a good score, but obviously being so far back right now you have to make some birdies out there tomorrow.
Q. Can you talk about being in contention and the crowds and everything and how you enjoyed that in '05 and '06? What were the crowds like today?
MICHELLE WIE: It was great. The crowds were awesome today. It was a lot of fun playing with Suzann in the final group. It was a lot of fun being in contention. I'm still not out of it. Don't count me out just yet.
It's exciting. It's very exciting that I have the opportunity and I'm really looking forward to tomorrow. Thank you.
Q. Tough day on the course.
YANI TSENG: It is. Especially from 9s. Totally two different persons playing on this course today. I was very struggling today. My goal actually today was come out today and feel comfortable for every shot. And on No. 4 and 5 on the tee shot I didn't feel comfortable. And I still hit it and hit it to the rough and made two bogeys in a row.
And I hit a good shot on par 3 and one yard and in the rough. So double. And the next hole par-5. So it was like those 4, those three really tough out there.
They set out very tough today. There is not many chances out there. Except Na Yeon. If you finish even, it would be very good today. I shot 1 under on the back 9. Always could be better. I was a little disappointed. But it's okay. I find it again.
Q. Are you disappointed you didn't have a better showing in the Open?
YANI TSENG: Yes, of course. Especially today. The front 9 could be much better. I feel stressful, because I mean, if you feel comfortable to hit on the shot, I don't think that's very hard goal to achieve. And today I just didn't do it, those three, four holes.
But any day also was perfect. I feel confidence on the back 9. Hitting lots of good shots on the back 9 too.
Q. Can you pinpoint why you just didn't feel comfortable on those two tee shots?
YANI TSENG: Because of the wind, maybe. I feel I want to hit a driver. I feel always hitting 3-wood here. And I pull out a 3-wood, I don't feel comfortable. I wasn't feeling as confident as like a driver. So I just hit it and it pushed it right in the rough. I should have probably birdied. I bogeyed there.
Next hole, I never hit any 22 degree this week. I didn't feel quite comfortable there. I either hit 4 -- iron, hit it out there. And hit it to the right in the rough and chip out again. I bogeyed there.
Q. You didn't have any practice rounds in this kind of wind, right? It was coming from another way?
YANI TSENG: Yeah. The wind it was -- it's fine. But you just needed to grab the club that you feel comfortable to hit it. It doesn't matter if it's going to be like 180 for second shot or 100 for the second shot. You just need to put it on the fairway, get it in play on this tough golf course. The pin position was very tough today. They don't give us many chance to come close today.
Q. You said coming into this tournament the number one thing was to have fun. Are you enjoying your time after a couple of days here?
YANI TSENG: Yes, I do. Even I shot terrible, I still very enjoy the crowd here, enjoy the golf course. Today is very challenging. That's why it's the U.S. Open. So but I'm very, very enjoy out there. Yeah.
Q. It's easy obviously when you're having a lot of success like you have to feel good. But when you're going through some struggles like you have in the last couple of weeks, how do you makes sure you stay focused and feel good about everything?
YANI TSENG: I feel much better. This week I feel way too much better than last couple of weeks. I think my game is on the way -- I think it's going to be coming back soon. I had two weeks off. I'm going to the Evian. So I'm going to get ready for the Evian. I think tomorrow if I play a good day and everything will feel good.
Q. So tomorrow you just go out try to feel comfortable over every shot?
YANI TSENG: Yeah. Try to feel comfortable and be aggressive. Because there's nothing you can lose.
Q. Can you talk about the wind? I noticed that was a factor back in '98. It really hasn't been a factor until today. Was the wind an issue today for golfers?
YANI TSENG: The wind is a little bit of an issue. The way they put the pin, the way they set up the tee is very different. It's very hard to hit it close to the pin if you have downwind. I remember No. 6, par-3, you have to carry. There was no way to stop there. So -- and they put a pin on the back, you couldn't go back. There's not many places you can put it close. You just need to put it on the middle of the green and try to make two putts every hole.
Q. What about the course setup today was so difficult? It's not just the wind, you said. It's the course setup. What were some of the holes they set up --
YANI TSENG: The wind was a factor a little bit. Some of the holes they put a pin like very tough. Because the wind, that way you couldn't go for there. And some of the tee, they put it way back. You just need to play smart. And then keep your ball on the fairway, and do the best you can.
Q. Was this the hardest the course has been playing all week do you think so far?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, maybe. I think maybe because of the wind and the way they set up, it makes tougher for this week. But if you can go in there and be even or a couple of over, it was great for today. Thank you.
Q. Can you talk about, first of all, making it to the weekend in an Open? That's a pretty big accomplishment as an amateur.
LYDIA KO: Yeah, it is. It's pretty exciting stuff, and I played pretty good the first two rounds, so I got to play on the weekend.
Q. How was it today? Pretty tough, huh?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, it was much tougher than the last two days. I think I made a few easy mistakes, but it comes. Yeah, and the Back 9 was kind of a struggle for me today. Overall it wasn't that bad.
Q. How did you feel comparing your game with Stacy Lewis, who's No. 2 in the world? I mean you must have kind of watched her a little bit while you were playing; right?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, definitely. Playing with the world No. 2 professional, that doesn't come that easy. Like even Yani, I could have played with her. So it was really exciting, and we didn't shoot -- or we didn't play too good today, but I did definitely look at some of her good shots.
Q. And did you think that your game compared favorably to hers?
LYDIA KO: There's definitely things I do need to work on, and like nobody is playing to perfection at the moment.
Yeah, you know, if I get a few things tweaked, hopefully when I turn pro, I will be as good as her.
Q. Is this the toughest field you've played in, because you play a lot of pro events.
LYDIA KO: Yeah, this is the biggest one you've played. I played one LPGA tournament in Australia. It was tough then, but this is the best crowd I'll ever play in.
Q. Did you feel intimidated out there at all playing with her?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, a little bit.
Q. Did you?
LYDIA KO: There were a few more spectators than the last two days, definitely, and it was quite intimidating just being out here and behind Amy Yang and Se Ri Pak and in front is Yani.
Q. Yeah, a lot of people. But still, it seems like with 28 amateurs in the field, we've seen a lot of amateurs the last few years in the Women's Open. Seems like amateurs hold their own pretty well in these big events.
LYDIA KO: Yeah, I think so. Just because we're amateurs doesn't mean that we are worse than them. I guess we are all in the same position, except they are professionals, and sometimes it's just age that's stopping people.
And yeah, I don't think people should rate amateurs just low.
Q. Is this the first time you've played in the Midwest? I know you've been on the coast.
LYDIA KO: I was in the Boston area, and I played around LA, so this kind of area it's the first time.
Q. How does this compare to the New Zealand courses?
LYDIA KO: When I was over here last time, I said the same, but like these kind of courses we don't have much of them, and like even the just middle ranking courses here, you know, it's better than some of our top ones.
Yeah, I mean our top courses are pretty good courses, too, but we don't have that many, and I guess land wise, we are quite small country.
Q. Did you find that there were any shots that you didn't have here today or this week, like on this course specifically, that you had never kind of encountered before? I mean you know how to hit out of the deep rough, the greens.
LYDIA KO: I'd say the rough is a bit different. Like I played at my home course, Gulf Harbour, and they kind of look the same, but it's much stickier here, and it's quite hard to get the distance right. And sometimes the ground's hard, and you hit it pretty good and it goes long, and sometimes you hit it good and it goes like two feet past. Yeah, it's quite hard, and I think the rough is quite longer than most. Tricky putts and when you're hitting out, sometimes the club head flips around. Not many differences, I guess.
Q. You said the course was playing tougher today than any of the previous couple days in the tournament. Can you tell me what factors were involved in that do you think?
LYDIA KO: Well, weather wise it was much cooler, so I would say it was a positive, but the wind got up, like especially early in my round, and I think like you can see by the scores, it's either very low scores, like Amy Yang and like Na Yeon Choi, but most average high scores.
Yeah, I think just weather -- I mean like wind, it's tricky, and I guess the fairway is not that narrow, but you know, there are tough pin positions.
Q. Because a lot of the commentary this week is this course plays a lot harder in the wind. It still plays hard when it's hot, humid and not windy, but much harder when there's wind. Did you agree after you've seen this course play in hot, humid, no wind and windy conditions today?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, I think so. There's quite a -- it's kind of a surrounded course with lots of trees. Sometimes the wind starts to swirl and one player could have left-to-right wind and it comes towards in the opposite could happen to the next player. So yeah, I guess the wind kind of swirls around, and I guess that's kind of one of the hard parts, and the greens are very slopey here and the pin positions are not in the same place, and we can't exactly go at the pin every single shot.
Q. You came in as an amateur making the cut, did that add any pressure to you or did it take some pressure off knowing you had made that first hurdle?
LYDIA KO: I think it could have taken a little bit of pressure off me, yeah. Mean though my score didn't project that, but I think like there wasn't as much pressure. I mean like I want to become the leading amateur for this tournament. But the pressure was a bit off, because I've never missed a cut in a tournament, and I would be kind of gutted if I did it at the U. S. Open. And it's better experience if you play on the weekend, too.