LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship
Sky 72 Golf Club
Incheon, South Korea
Final-Round Notes and Interviews
October 20, 2013
The wait is over for Amy Yang as she outlasted a one-hole playoff with Hee Kyung Seo at the LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship to become the fourth Rolex First-Time Winner this season. Both South Koreans fired 9-under three-day totals in regulation but Yang prevailed with a birdie on the first playoff hole at the par-5 18th.
A member of the LPGA Tour since 2009, Yang has knocked on the door of her first-ever LPGA Tour victory several times including the 2011 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G where she lost in a playoff to Yani Tseng and the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open where she finished runner-up.
“I have been waiting for this championship for a long time, and I'm really happy get it in my home country,” said Yang. “I think still I can't believe it.”
Yang began Sunday’s final round trailing co-leaders Katherine Hull-Kirk and Anna Nordqvist by 1-stroke. The South Korean lingered around the top of the leaderboard throughout most of the final round but finally surged into a tie for the lead after an eagle at the par-4 15th moved her to 8-under for the tournament.
With pars on the next two holes, Yang was able to keep her composure and birdie the scoreable par-5 18th to force a playoff with Seo.
Both players hit errant tee-shots on the first playoff hole with Yang’s finding the right rough and Seo’s finding the left. Momentum slowly swung Seo’s way after Yang’s tricky lie in the rough left her with a lengthy third shot.
Despite the difficult third shot, both players managed to find the green in regulation but Yang sunk her 15-foot birdie putt to hoist the trophy.
“I mean, unfortunately this is third time, I guess, and I couldn't win at the playoff,” said Seo. “But I played really well last two days. Just I think the big miss was No. 14 hole, I missed short putt. That was a big one that I could not win. I'm really happy for Amy. She was waiting for really long time. I think I can wait more than her. I know it's going to be coming soon for me, so I will just wait and do my things.”
Playing in front of a large gallery consisting of several close friends and family, Yang fought back tears as she became the eighth Korean to win the LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship since 2002.
It has been nearly three years since the Stanford University graduate last made her way to the winner’s circle and as she found herself in contention to take home her third LPGA Tour victory, she was suddenly overcome with a wave of nerves. With nerves racing, Wie had close friend and playing partner Jane Park by her side to help remain calm.
“I haven't been in contention to be a while so I was a little bit nervous, but talking to Jane it really calmed my nerves down a lot,” said Wie. “You know, it's just always fun playing with a friend out there.”
While Wie came-up just shy of the win, patience has proven to be key on a season that has produced three top-10 finishes. As the LPGA Tour gears-up to head to Taiwan next week for the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship, don’t be surprised if you see Wie walking away with her third career victory.
“You know, like I said, at the beginning of the season, it's coming along. It's just taking some time to get together,” said Wie. “I feel like my game is finally coming together slowly, I have just been patient with my game and working hard at it. It’s just nice to see that it paid off this week, and hopefully I can finish strong next week.”
Golden Ticket Winners: Eun-Hee Ji, Ayako Uehara, and Candie Kung punched their "Ticket to CME Group Titleholders" at the LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship, each earning a spot in the season-ending CME Group Titleholders event, which will be held Nov. 21-24, 2012 in Naples, Fla. The third-annual CME Group Titleholders is a season finale with a field made up of three qualifiers from every LPGA Tour tournament.
MODERATOR: We would like to welcome our 2013 LPGA KEB HanaBank Championship winner, Amy Yang, into the interview room.
Amy, you've had to wait quite a long time. How does it feel?
AMY YANG: I have been waiting for this championship for a long time, and I'm really happy get it in my home country. I think still I can't believe it.
Q. What are you going to do to celebrate? Anything fun? I know your dad is here with you.
AMY YANG: My family members and friends are all waiting outside, and I should celebrate with them.
Q. In regulation play before the playoff, what was working well for you out there today?
AMY YANG: I think I obtain the confidence in shots and as well as putting. Putting was really going well this week.
Q. Could you explain about your game play in 18th hole.
AMY YANG: It's been quite long time since I played in the playoff, so I was a little bit nervous. My drive shot went a little bit to to the right, so it was in the rough. It was in deep, ball was in deep, so I didn't think that I should use longer club. I used a 5‑iron, but the problem is that my caddie said there is 162 yard before green, so I wasn't able to ‑‑ I don't think that I should use my second iron, which can go 170.
But still I think that I should use the longer ‑‑ I need to do the longer shot, so that's why I used the club which can go far.
Q. My questions is, before your success in the playoff, what was in your mind? And also, after you succeed, who was in your mind first?
AMY YANG: As the game approached the end, the green has been getting very fast, and also long putt was many.
So I just want to focus on the line and the speed. When putt drop, I thought of my family who were with me all the time.
Q. As far as I know, you practiced a lot, until the sunset compared to other players, so that's why when we see the championship it's your tears a lot. What was first thing in your mind when you obtained this victory? Second question is, this is the first time in three years Korean players has won this game. So what's the significance and meaning to you of this victory?
AMY YANG: First of all, I don't think that I practice a lot. Rather I should focus on quality practice. I look back on the things that I've been (indiscernible) about, sort of swing, so I practice swing.
And also, I didn't know that it's first time in three years Korean player won the victory, so it's really meaningful and I'm very pleased to win this game as a Korean player.
Q. Are you going participate in Taiwan Championship?
AMY YANG: I'm not going to attend unfortunately, because I need to attend the championship hosted by my sponsor.
Q. You're full of emotion, and I can see the tears in your eyes yet. So you are the person who has a lot of tears and emotion?
AMY YANG: Yes, I am, a little bit. When I feel frustrated and feel sad, I usually cried a lot in front of my parents. A little bit ashamed to tell you, but it is true.
Q. Many people surrounding you said you are really nice and kind, bit compared to other players you lack fierceness and intensity. You went through a slump two years ago and you overcame. What about any kind of opportunity for you to overcome that slump?
AMY YANG: I think I suffered a lot until last winter and earlier this year. I cried a lot in front of my parents, so I felt really sorry for my parents. But sometimes I want to escape the situation, and on extreme condition I thought that I should quit it.
But thanks to my family members and people surrounding me, I was able to overcome this slump.
Before that, I just looked in front and seriously practice and practice until sunset. But now I change my attitude. I really step back and take a rest, and that's the good opportunity for me to turn around.
Q. Out of four championships you obtained two in Korea. So that's why you can be successful in Korea? And the second question is that you obtain the first championship in LPGA. What is your next goal?
AMY YANG: My next goal is to obtain next victory. That's my goal. The championship that I earned before it happened was a (indiscernible) golf course. I think I'm familiar with the grass and courses here, and that has been ‑‑ has played in favorable to me.
Q. Both of your parents are very good in sports. Your father is a national canoe player, so that also works well for you to do this success?
AMY YANG: Yes, I think so. That scene is working in my success.
Also, both of my parents have good build, and they also have a lot of knowledge about sports, especially my mother. She takes care of my health and exercise.
Q. I know probably not the outcome you wanted, but in regulation play you played solid all day. Take me through that.
HEE KYUNG SEO: I mean, unfortunately this is third time, I guess, and I couldn't win at the playoff. But I played really well last two days. Just I think the big miss was No. 14 hole, I missed short putt. That was a big one that I could not win. I'm really happy for Amy. She was waiting for really long time. I think I can wait more than her. I know it's going to be coming soon for me, so I will just wait and do my things.
Q. Yeah, you had an eagle out there on No. 12. Did that kind of kick start you a little bit, get the momentum going?
HEE KYUNG SEO: I was struggling on tee shot, yeah, so it was in the rough. I just tried to get on to the top part of the green, and I hit it really good. Me and Dean just punched our hand that we were making the green, and then we were walking onto the green crowd was screaming and it was really happy moment.
Q. Yeah. Seems like from talking to you this week that you're really happy, almost the happiest you've ever been. Do you think that's the case?
HEE KYUNG SEO: Yeah, my wedding is coming soon and I'm really excited that I could play very well in front of my family and fiancee. That was happiest thing of my life.
Q. How was it hearing everybody cheering for you and having all that support?
HEE KYUNG SEO: Many people said, Congratulations. Go for it. Get married.
Yeah, I was really thankful that they are cheering for me and happy for me.
Q. We still have tournaments left this year. You haven't won since 2010, but seems like your game is right up there. Is that encouraging at all?
HEE KYUNG SEO: I played really good last week and this week as well. I know it's going to come soon. I'm sure there will be more chance for me to get at that time top, so I'll just believe
Q. Quite the charge there at the end. What was working for you out there?
MICHELLE WIE: It was just a lot fun today playing with Jane and Caroline. Just a fun group out there. Great weather and great crowds.
You know, I missed a lot of putts early on, but I really took advantage of the par‑5s today, which I think really helped.
Q. You're done pretty early in front of the leaders. What will you do?
MICHELLE WIE: I mean, only thing I can do is wait. I'm not very hopefully at this point. I had a couple of good birdies coming down but we'll see. You never know what might happen.
Q. You've been playing well as of late. Has anything clicked for you?
MICHELLE WIE: You know, like I said, at the beginning of the season, it's coming along. It's just taking some time to get together. I feel like my game is finally coming together slowly, I have just been patient with my game and working hard at it. It’s just nice to see that it paid off this week, and hopefully I can finish strong next week.
Q. You played with Jane today. I know you two are really close. I saw you all going back and forth on Twitter. Does that help down the stretch, having her right there with you?
MICHELLE WIE: I think it did. I haven't been in contention to be a while so I was a little bit nervous, but talking to Jane it really calmed my nerves down a lot. You know, it's just always fun playing with a friend out there.