LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship
Sky 72 Golf Club
Incheon, South Korea
Second-Round Notes and Interviews
October 19, 2013
Anna Nordqvist and Katherine Hull-Kirk stand atop the leaderboard at the LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship after firing a pair of 2-under-par 70’s at the Sky 72 Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea. The duo will head into tomorrow’s final-round with a 1-stroke lead over Norwegian Suzann Pettersen and South Koreans Amy Yang and Ju Young Pak.
It was an up-and-down day for Hull-Kirk on Saturday as she carded one eagle, five birdies, three bogeys, and one double-bogey. Despite getting off to a quick start with birdies at two of the opening three holes, the wheels came off a bit for Hull-Kirk after a double-bogey at the par-4 ninth.
The two-time LPGA Tour winner recovered nicely however as she went on to record two birdies and one bogey on the closing nine holes to stand at 7-under-par for the tournament.
“Yeah, there was obviously a lot of kind of mistakes today,” said Hull-Kirk. “I was fortunate I made enough birdies to kind of make up for it. My golf swing is all right but I'm just going to go hit some balls on the range when I'm done here and just get a bit of time back. But I feel confident with where my game is, and really happy to be in this position.”
It was a bit of an easier day for Nordqvist who, despite a couple of errant shots due to the gusty winds, carded four birdies and two bogeys to grab a share of the lead. The Swede headed into the eighth hole at even-par for the day but recorded back-to-back birdies and holes eight and nine to make the turn at 2-under.
Despite making a charge late in the front-nine, Nordqvist cooled off a bit on the back-nine and recorded one birdie and one bogey for a two-day total of 7-under-par.
“I played really solid today,” said Nordqvist. “I had a lot of opportunities and I putted a lot of good putts that seemed to go in. I had a couple really good shots that just caught the wind, but overall I'm in a good spot going into tomorrow so I'm very happy.”
Both players are looking to put an end to a lengthy winless drought as Nordqvist’s last victory came at the 2009 LPGA Tour Championship Presented by Rolex and Hull-Kirk’s last trip to the winner’s circle came at the 2010 Navistar LPGA Classic.
If Nordqvist and Hull-Kirk want to make their way to hoist the trophy on Sunday, they will have to fight off KLPGA standout and younger sister of Hee Young Park, Ju Young Pak, Amy Yang, and defending champion, Suzann Pettersen.
“I don't think about a whole lot,” said Hull-Kirk. “Just grabbing some dinner and talking to my husband and going to sleep. Like Anna said before, there are so many good players on the leaderboard and it's really close. It's anyone's day tomorrow, you just go out there and do your best, add them up at the end, and whoever has the lowest wins. You can't control what everyone else is doing. You can only do your best.”
Watch your back… Suzann Pettersen already has three LPGA Tour victories under her belt this season and two of those wins, she was forced to come from behind. The Norwegian will have to just that tomorrow if she wants to take home her fourth win of the season as she trails current leaders Anna Nordqvist and Katherine Hull-Kirk by 1-stroke.
Currently No. 2 in the Rolex Rankings, Pettersen expects to be in contention each week and she has done just that as she has finished no worse than a tie for seventh in her last six events.
“I expected to be in contention the way I've been playing, that's all I can ask for,” said Pettersen. “We'll see where I go out tomorrow, but I feel pretty comfortable with the position I'm in. It's not going to be easy. The greens are going to probably dry up even more. Feels like the harder the better for me.”
Defending champion of this week’s event, Pettersen is feeling right at home this week in Korea and even showcased her Korean vocabulary with the media on Thursday. Tonight, the Norwegian plans to indulge in the hotel’s decadent buffet as she prepares to bring home her 14th career LPGA Tour victory.
“Yeah, definitely feel at home in Korea, I just blend in,” joked Pettersen. “But, no, I tried to birdie the last four, but I'm in a decent position. So hopefully nice buffet tonight and good sleep will do it.”
Wedding bells… Hee Kyung Seo is in the middle of an LPGA Tour season that has included five top-20 finishes, but the South Korean standout’s focus is not solely on golf as she is also in the midst of planning an upcoming wedding.
While most of the wedding planning is already complete, the 2011 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year winner will hop on a plane back to South Korea following next week’s Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship to say “yes to the dress”.
“I'm very excited,” said Seo who has it narrowed down to either a mermaid style of full dress. “Everything was all done except the dress so after Taiwan I have to pick my dress. I had a pre wedding photo shoot so I've already tried four dresses on, and it makes me more confuse because I don't know. It's all beautiful, so I cannot choose just one of them but I’m very happy.”
Originally from Seoul, South Korea, Seo has quite the large gallery following her every step of the way at this week’s pristine Sky 72 Golf Club. While the roars and cheers for Seo can be heard from across the golf course, her fiancé’s whistles manages to reign loudest of them all.
“I can hear his whistle,” said Seo with a smile. “That makes me very, you know, like fighting and really happy.”
The whistle has proved to be just the motivating factor that Seo needed this week as she currently stands in a tie for sixth at 5-under-par.
Dynamic duo… When you drive into this week’s Sky 72 Golf Club, it is hard to ignore the array of brightly colored windmills that line the festive entrance. Known on Tour for her witty sense of humor, Alison Walshe and her caddie, Mardi Lunn put the windmills to good use as they used it to measure the wind on the first hole.
When Walshe made her way to the first tee during Saturday’s second round, there was a surprise waiting for her on the first tee, her beloved windmill.
“We kind of took one of the windmills in the practice round on Thursday,” said Pettersen. “We were joking around, we were like, what's the deal with these windmills? We brought one to the first tee and we stuck it in for the wind gauge. We made joke of it, and then the next day, sure enough, we get there and it's standing there. It was a symbol on the first tee.”
Walshe and Lunn recently teamed up at the beginning of the LPGA’s Asian swing in China and the pair have seemed to hit it off nicely as they are coming off a tie for sixth at last week’s Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. The momentum of last week has continued into this week’s LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship as Walshe finds herself in a tie for sixth heading into tomorrow’s final round.
“Last week I was hitting it good and I stuck with it,” said Walshe. “This week, same thing, I'm putting well, so I think that's big think. Out here everybody in these events is a really good player, so I think if you make couple more putts, have that many more birdies. That's been the key, I think.”
MODERATOR: Alright, I would like to welcome our co-leaders, Katherine Hull-Kirk and Anna Nordqvist into the interview room. Ladies, you still have the lead heading into tomorrow’s final round, what works well for you out there?
KATHERINE HULL‑KIRK: It was a bit of an erratic round, but, again, my pars saved me. Yeah, just kind of nothing really else to it.
ANNA NORDQVIST: I played really solid today. I had a lot of opportunities and I putted a lot of good putts that seemed to go in. I had a couple really good shots that just caught the wind, but overall I'm in a good spot going into tomorrow so I'm very happy.
MODERATOR: Kind of seems like from both of you from what you've said it could have been a lot lower out there. Do you think that's promising going into tomorrow, or does that change your mindset at all?
KATHERINE‑HULL‑KIRK: I think it's a really scorable golf course. There are some holes where you have to play smart, but there are definitely low numbers out there if you're hitting it well and putting it well.
ANNA NORDQVIST: Yeah, I think there are quite a few birdies holes out there and a few that you're happy with par.
But going into tomorrow, I think whoever shoots the lowest. You know, there' a lot a lot of girls out there and a lot of girls playing well.
So you got to shoot a low round tomorrow.
Q. You have some up and downs. How will you adjust for tomorrow?
KATHERINE‑HULL‑KIRK: Yeah, there was obviously a lot of kind of mistakes today. I was fortunate I made enough birdies to kind of make up for it. My golf swing is all right but I'm just going to go hit some balls on the range when I'm done here and just get a bit of time back. But I feel confident with where my game is, and really happy to be in this position.
Q. (Question regarding Annika's academy.)
ANNA NORDQVIST: The last ‑‑ up until this year, I was working with (indiscernible) academy in (indiscernible). I still work with (indiscernible) as part of the team.
But Annika has always been kind of a legend to me, and I really appreciate her knowledge and her advice.
Q. You two played together today. Did you feed off one another at all? Was it kind of a struggle out there?
KATHERINE HULL‑KIRK: I was all over the park, so I don't know if the others were really feeding off fee. They played pretty solid and kept it pretty simple.
Yeah, like I said, I was all over the place.
Q. Is there one thing in particular you're going to work on before tomorrow?
ANNA NORDQVIST: I'm just going to and hit some putts. We played almost six hours today, so it takes a lot of energy. We seem to be waiting a lot, so just going to go home and rest.
Q. I have a question for both of you. Usually there are complaints that Korean players take a long time to do the game. So that's the main complaint that I heard. What do you think about that? And also, if they need to improve that, how can they address?
ANNA NORDQVIST: I don't think it's only Korean players in particular. I haven't played obviously this much over here, I don't know what the pace is over here, but everyone needs to pick up the pace a little bit and prepare a little bit better before. You know, just be on top of it when it's your turn.
KATHERINE HULL‑KIRK: I think everybody can do a better job of being ready to hit when it's their turn. The PGA TOUR are a lot faster on the greens than we are. I guess they read their putts faster are than we do.
There is obviously some time that we can make up on the putting green. But whether we're in Australia, Korea, or the U.S. our rounds tend to take too long or longer than the rules officials would like. Takes longer than we would like, too. Just going to take an effort on everyone's part to make it better.
Q. Tonight both of you are going sleep with the lead. You all have won on tour. Been there, done that before. What's your mindset going into tomorrow? What do you think about tonight before you go to sleep?
KATHERINE HULL‑KIRK: I don't think about a whole lot. Just grabbing some dinner and talking to my husband and going to sleep. Like Anna said before, there are so many good players on the leaderboard and it's really close. It's anyone's day tomorrow. Yeah, just go out there and do your best. Add them up at the end, and whoever has the lowest wins. You can't control what everyone else is doing. You can only do your best.
MODERATOR: Anna, same question for you. I know you've been up there quite a bit the past couple years. What do you think about tonight?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Probably going to bed pretty early. I’m just excited to put myself in this situation. I'll talk to some friends and be in a good mood and hopefully wake up happy and ready to go.
Q. Good playing out there. You brought it back at the end. What was working?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I don't know if I was prepared for the little bit of breezy weather. I just hit a lot of too normal shots for the conditions. The yardages were a little bit off for that reason, so I adjusted a little bit around the turn. It feels like I get it going on the back a little bit better than I do on the front.
I’m just happy to kind of bring it back. I don't know where the leaders are, but hopefully somewhere close. The greens of firming up so ‑‑ they're really hard, so it's hard enough to get close to certain pins.
Q. You're one back as of right now; you won here last year. Do you feel at home on this golf course?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah, definitely feel at home in Korea, I just blend in. But, no, I tried to birdie the last four, but I'm in a decent position. So hopefully nice buffet tonight and good sleep will do it.
Q. Kind of seems like you're unstoppable as of late. Every time you're out there you end up winning. Do you feel that way?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: No, I mean, today I feel really good about 3‑under; yesterday I felt like I left a lot of shots out there. I feel like I'm getting better at just letting the frustrating go.
I don't know. I mean, I'm playing good, so it's like I can't get too upset if you hit a shot that doesn't quite end up where you want it be.
I think I'm accepting more knowing that I can also get more chances out there.
Q. Do you have any expectations going into tomorrow?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I expected to be in contention the way I've been playing, that's all I can ask for. We'll see where I go out tomorrow, but I feel pretty comfortable with the position I'm in. It's not going to be easy. The greens are going to probably dry up even more. Feels like the harder the better for me.
Q. You're closing in on that No. 1 spot. Each week you keep improving. Do you think about that at all?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I keep an eye on it but it's not like I wake up and the first thing I glance on is the world rankings. But I know if I play well towards the end of the year and I win tournaments I can possibly take it from her by Christmas. That's what I'm shooting for but I’m not going to be disappointing if I don't get it. There's a chance, an opportunity.
Q. Good playing. 4‑under round. What was working for you out there?
HEE KYUNG SEO: It was pretty windier than yesterday, so Dean and I were trying to figure out which way the breeze was coming. My shot making was good and putting was good. I only missed one short putt, so I really had a confidence on the green. I just went through. I just played my game, yeah.
Q. How is it playing at home this week?
HEE KYUNG SEO: It's great. I mean, played last week for KLPGA Tour and it was really fun. I could not win, but it was fun and enjoyed I it, and lots of fans coming out and cheer me up.
Q. Do you know how many family and friends you have out here? Too many to count?
HEE KYUNG SEO: I mean, it was hard to get a ticket for them. I try my best to invite them.
Q. I was talking to Dean, and he said you have a wedding date. It's coming up really soon. How is that going, planning a wedding and playing an tour?
HEE KYUNG SEO: I'm very excited. Everything was all done except the dress so after Taiwan I have to pick my dress. I had a pre wedding photo shoot so I've already tried four dresses on, and it makes me more confuse because I don't know. It's all beautiful, so I cannot choose just one of them but I’m very happy.
Q. So you don't have any idea which one you're choosing yet?
HEE KYUNG SEO: Now it's the list, two of them. One is mermaid line, and one is really big. It's really different. I don't know. I have to think about it.
Q. Your fiancee is out here this week. How nice is that to have him out by your side?
HEE KYUNG SEO: I can hear his whistle. That makes me very, you know, like fighting and really happy.
Q. Talked to Mardi a little bit. What was the whole inspiration behind the windmill yesterday on the first whole hole. How did that come about?
ALISON WALSHE: We kind of took one of the windmills in the practice round on Thursday. We were joking around, we were like, what's the deal with these windmills? We brought one to the first tee and we stuck it in for the wind gauge. We made joke of it, and then the next day, sure enough, we get there and it's standing there. It was a symbol on the first tee.
Q. How long have you and Mardi been working together?
ALISON WALSHE: We just started this Asia swing. First week was China, so two weeks ago.
Q. How is it going? Seems like you two are having a lot of fun.
ALISON WALSHE: Yeah, she's a riot. She keeps me pretty relaxed out there, so it's been fun.
Q. Seems like you have a lot of fun out here; is that true?
ALISON WALSHE: Yeah, I mean, you have to, otherwise it's miserable. I mean, obviously I get upset and angry and stuff, but at the end of the day it's golf.
If you're not having fun, I mean, I don't know, I wouldn't be out here. I try to make it fun.
Q. You had a good week last week. Now you're right up there again. Is that kind of motivation carrying through, or something different?
ALISON WALSHE: Last week I was hitting it good and I stuck with it. This week, same thing, I'm putting well, so I think that's big think. Out here everybody in these events is a really good player, so I think if you make couple more putts, have that many more birdies. That's been the key, I think.
Q. Have there been any swing changes, or all just been kind of mental?
ALISON WALSHE: Not much. Same stuff. Still work with the same coaches. No, it's just been mental really.