RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup
Wildfire Golf Club at JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa
Final-Round notes and interviews
March 17, 2013
2012 Rolex Player of the Year Stacy Lewis (@Stacy_Lewis) continued her impressive streak of tournaments in 2013, fighting back from a three-stroke deficit down the stretch to capture a three-stroke victory at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup (@founderslpga). The 8-under 64 in the final-round was highlighted by nine birdies prevailing her to her second consecutive LPGA Tour win.
“It's awesome,” said Lewis of the win. “I played great today. Myself and Ai we just went back and forth all day; she was making putts, I was making putts.”
The win didn’t come easy for Lewis as she found herself going into today trailing Ai Miyazato by four strokes after an unfortunate two-stroke penalty on Saturday. The penalty occurred after Lewis had finished her round when it was determined that her caddie, Travis Wilson, had violated rule 13-4 by moving sand in a bunker on the 16th hole.
One day later, it was the 16th hole that proved to be the turning point for Lewis in a good way. Miyazato looked to be in command of the tournament all day until a three-shot swing at the 16th gave Lewis the outright lead. Lewis was able to capitalize on the uncharacteristic mistake by the petite Japan native as Lewis went on to record back-to-back birdies on the 16th and 17th and capture a three-stroke victory.
“I was certainly surprised she finished the way she did, but to make those two putts I did on 16 and 17 was pretty unbelievable and I'm just ‑‑ I'm really speechless,” said Lewis. “I played great today and I was super motivated from all that happened yesterday and just happy for Travis (Wilson).”
Cherish the Moment… While the official Rolex Rankings standings will not be official until tomorrow, it is projected that Stacy Lewis (@Stacy_Lewis) will take over as No. 1 crowning a new player atop the standings for the first-time in 109 weeks. Lewis made all this possible by a four-win season in 2012 and a 2013 year that has already included two wins in the first four events.
Lewis becomes only the seventh player to hold the coveted top spot in the Rolex Rankings alongside Yani Tseng, Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa, Jiyai Shin, Ai Miyazato and Cristie Kerr. Despite always having the goal of holding the No. 1 ranking, Lewis admitted to being surprised of her rapid climb to the top.
“It's crazy,” said Lewis with a smile that could light-up a room. “That was my goal kind of since the middle of last year and I really didn't think it would be possible this quick. We've only played four tournaments this year and it's just crazy.”
The number one ranking is even more surreal for Lewis who nearly 10 years ago was undergoing surgery to correct scoliosis. The always optimistic Lewis understands now more than ever that everything happens for a reason.
“Yeah, it's almost 10 years ago I was having surgery, I was going into surgery to put a rod and five screws in my back,” said Lewis. “That was just 10 years ago. That's not normal, that's not supposed to happen. I mean, I'm not ‑‑ I'm really not supposed to be here.
“People with metal in their back, how do you play golf,” she added. “I don't know, I don't know how, I don't know why I'm here. I know that there's a reason and I know that everything happens for a reason. Every setback you have along the way, everything good that happens, it all happens for a reason. I don't know, I couldn't have dreamed the kid growing up wearing a back brace 18 hours a day that is the No. 1 player in the world. I don't know, I don't know what to say.”
While the 2013 LPGA Tour season is still young, Lewis is going to cherish her newly acquired Rolex Rankings No. 1 status for as long as it lasts.
“We have majors coming up, Solheim, and so much more to play for and I'm just excited about the rest of the year more than anything,” said Lewis. “I'm having a blast on the golf course, and to be No. 1 in the world, it's what everybody out here on Tour is working for and to be that person is, I mean, I really don't even know what to say.”
Indecision…Ai Miyazato is known for her consistency in hitting fairways and greens so it caught everyone offguard to see the petite golfer hit such a wayward approach shot into the 16th green in Sunday’s final round. At the time, Miyazato had a one-shot lead over Stacy Lewis but with 124 yards to the pin, she pulled her shot left and found herself in a precarious situation.
Miyazato’s ball ended up in a bush in the desert and she had to take unplayable lie. But rather than returning to the spot where she originally hit from, she instead took a drop in the desert. Her fourth shot ended up 30 feet away from the pin and she two-putted for a double bogey. When Lewis made birdie on the hole, it resulted in a three-shot swing as Miyazato found herself two strokes behind Lewis with two holes to play.
It was a margin that Miyazato wasn’t able to make up as Lewis went on to win by three. With that double-bogey resulting in such a big swing in momentum, Miyazato was asked by the media after her round why didn’t she go back to the fairway and hit her fourth shot from there rather than in the desert?
“My shot was like totally in between club,” Miyazato said of her second shot on the 16th. “I hit the pitching wedge, but my instinct said that it was an easy 9, so it was a little bit indecisive and that's why I pulled my shot. I went there and I take a look around, but it's just the same as like not easy from anywhere, you know? I decided I would take a drop almost like in a bunker position and I thought we had that little backstop behind the pin so I thought I could make it stop a little bit more. It was kind of a little flat when I dropped, so it was hard but it just happened like that. It's a little unlucky I thought.”
There was no one more surprised to see that type of mistake from Miyazato on her approach shot than Lewis.
“I was shocked that she hit the shot she did on 16,” Lewis said. “That is not like Ai at all, she's green, green. I mean, it's boring to play with her because she hits so many greens. I was very surprised that she did that there. I knew ‑‑ but I knew, I mean, I hit a great shot in and I had to capitalize on it because that was my opportunity and fortunately I did.”
For Miyazato, who has an offseason home in Phoenix, it was her second consecutive runner-up finish at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. While it certainly wasn’t the result she was hoping for, Miyazato still took away positives from her final round and the week overall.
“All in all I had a good day,” Miyazato said. “I have a good feeling and my play was really solid, just the one bad shot on 16. I was a little disappointed. But one bad shot this week, not bad, I'll take it, so it was a really fun day.”
Giving Back… While the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf received $500,000 from this week’s RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, Stacy Lewis made an extra donation to help young girls achieve their dreams of one day playing on the LPGA Tour.
This week’s RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup is centered around honoring the Founders and Pioneers of the LPGA Tour and the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program. Stacy Lewis recognized just that and after recording her seventh LPGA Tour victory, The Woodlands, Texas native announced she would be donating $50,000 to LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program.
“Yeah, actually kind of thought about it on Friday when we were playing, just kind of put it in the back of my mind, if I won, I want to do that,” said Lewis. “It's more because of what this tournament stands for. I mean, to have our founders out this week and our pioneers, they worked so much harder than I do right now to get this Tour up and running and everything is because of them. So for me, I mean, I feel like I need to keep giving back to the game and giving back to those kids because they're the future. They're going to be up here doing these interviews in 15 years. So I just feel lucky to be able to do it.”
Immediately following her dramatic victory, Lewis was greeted by several members of the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf Program. In a newly designed program, the LPGA “Drops the Ropes” after the final group tees off on the 18th hole allowing approximately 50 girls from the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf program inside the ropes to enjoy LPGA action up close and personal.
Golden ticket winners: Ai Miyazato, Angela Stanford, and Jessica Korda punched their "Ticket to CME Group Titleholders" at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, each earning a spot in the season-ending CME Group Titleholders event, which will be held Nov. 21-24, 2013 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.
Where it all began: This week’s RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup is all about honoring the women who helped make the LPGA what it is today. Today we feature Joanne Carner and Kathy Whitworth.
Education: Obessa College
Rookie Year: 1958
LPGA Victories: 88
Career Earnings: $1,731,770
Kathy Whitworth’s professional golf career spanned over 32 years. From 1959 to 1991, she was a consistent figure on the LPGA Tour and set high standards for the women who followed in her footsteps. She started out when the organization was just beginning and played an integral role of bringing it into its own.
Whitworth’s name is splashed across many records on the LPGA Tour, which includes being the first woman to earn a million dollars at an official LPGA event and capturing the most wins in tournament play for both the men's and women's professional associations, winning 88 events. She was also captain for the first American team to play in The Solheim Cup. Her only disappointment in the midst of many achievements is never having won a U. S. Open tournament. In spite of that, she continues to maintain a proud yet humble opinion of her career, as she was inducted into the LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Fame, New Mexico Hall of Fame, Texas Sports and Golf Hall of Fame and the Women’s Sports Foundation Hall of Fame.
Rookie Year: 1970
LPGA Victories: 43
Career Earnings: $2,973,823
Joanne Carner compiled one of the finest amateur records of any woman golfer. Capturing five U.S. Women’s Amateur Championships, winning the 1956 U.S. Girl’s Junior Amateur Championship and competing on four U.S. Curtis Cup Teams, there’s no question she turned heads as she competed in numerous LPGA events. She started her LPGA career with a tie for 15th at the 1962 U.S. Women’s Open, went on to finish second at the 1963 Lady Carling Eastern Open, and won the 1969 Burdine’s Invitational before joining the Tour in 1970.
Carner’s career was paved with consistency, notching multiple victories every year from 1974 to 1983. It was during this time that she won three Vare Trophies, two money titles and two Player of the Year awards. It was the peak of her career, boasting 43 LPGA titles. But she never stopped competing until the ripe age of 65, setting an LPGA record for being the oldest player to compete in an LPGA event at the 2005 Kraft Nabisco Championship. The LPGA Hall of Famer was most known for her long drives and booming personality, earning the nicknames “Great Gundy” (after her maiden name, Gunderson) and “Big Mama” from her fellow LPGA members.
Tweet of the Day: “Congrats Stacy, You deserve this world number 1! Great job !! Happy for you!!!!!!I am about to start chasing world number 1 now @Stacy_Lewis” -- @YaniTseng, who held the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Rankings for 109 consecutive weeks
Of Note… Angela Stanford (@Angela_Stanford) finished third and donated 50% of her winnings ($50,246) to her foundation, the Angela Stanford Foundation…2012 RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup winner, Yani Tseng, finished T59 at 4-under.
MODERATOR: All right. I'd to welcome the 2013 RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup winner, Stacy Lewis, into the interview room. Stacy, we have a lot of things to discuss, but first off, how does it feel?
STACY LEWIS: It's awesome. I played great today. Myself and Ai we just went back and forth all day; she was making putts, I was making putts. I was certainly surprised she finished the way she did, but to make those two putts I did on 16 and 17 was pretty unbelievable and I'm just ‑‑ I'm really speechless. I played great today and I was super motivated from all that happened yesterday and just happy for Travis.
MODERATOR: The rankings won't be official until tomorrow but it's projected you'll be the new Rolex Rankings No. 1 player in the world. I'm sure it hasn't sunk in yet, but how does it feel?
STACY LEWIS: It's crazy. That was my goal kind of since the middle of last year and I really didn't think it would be possible this quick. We've only played four tournaments this year and it's just crazy. We still have so many more events this year. We have majors coming up, Solheim, and so much more to play for and I'm just excited about the rest of the year more than anything. I'm having a blast on the golf course, and to be No. 1 in the world, it's what everybody out here on Tour is working for and to be that person is, I mean, I really don't even know what to say.
MODERATOR: We all know the 2‑shot penalty with your caddie yesterday. What most people don't know is he gave you something that has a little bit more meaning now in the beginning of the week. Can you tell everybody what that was?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I always mark my ball with a quarter, and at breakfast he got some change and one of the quarters was actually a silver quarter and it was 1964. So he gave that to me to start the week and I used it every day.
All that happened yesterday, I wasn't even mad at him because he didn't do anything on purpose. I just felt really bad for him just because all the stories were Stacy Lewis' caddie, Stacy Lewis' caddie, and the spotlight was on him and he never wants that. We were so motivated today. I said in my interview, thank you to the viewer that called in because he gave me some more motivation. I didn't really need it, but he gave me some more. Everything happens for a reason and it just turned out to be a perfect day.
MODERATOR: After the round you announced that you are going to donate $50,000 to Girls Golf. What made you decide that and how did it feel after you won to have all the girls from Girls Golf run out to you?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, actually kind of thought about it on Friday when we were playing, just kind of put it in the back of my mind, if I won, I want to do that. It's more because of what this tournament stands for. I mean, to have our founders out this week and our pioneers, they worked so much harder than I do right now to get this Tour up and running and everything is because of them. So for me, I mean, I feel like I need to keep giving back to the game and giving back to those kids because they're the future. They're going to be up here doing these interviews in 15 years. So I just feel lucky to be able to do it.
Q. On 16, were you surprised when she didn't go back and play it from the fairway rather than trying to play out of the desert there where she was all shortsided?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I didn't really see where her ball ended up after her second shot, saw she was kind of figuring out where to drop. I mean, that was what Travis said, he kind of said he was surprised that she wasn't going back to the fairway. Sometimes it's hard when you hit a bad shot, you don't really want to go back to that spot and have to hit it again. Who knows. I think at best, if she goes back, she's going to make bogey so she did pretty good from that position.
Q. With the win today, does it make it easier to not tease your caddie a little bit about that where if you lost it would be something you would never bring up?
STACY LEWIS: I was already teasing him about it last night. We were having fun with it because he won the Caddie of the Year a couple weeks ago and he was getting all these pictures and articles and all these ‑‑ he was doing interviews and he hates the spotlight and I just told him he's sharing the spotlight again. I was kind of ribbing him all day. It happens. People hit the wrong golf ball or they ground their club in a hazard without knowing it. Weird things happen when you play enough golf rounds and I told him that over and over and over again. He would have felt horrible if we lost by two, so that's why I just put the dagger in and made some more putts there coming in.
Q. Stacy, you said it's crazy you said to be No. 1. Given what you went through as a teen, can you put that in perspective, here you are?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, it's almost 10 years ago I was having surgery, I was going into surgery to put a rod and five screws in my back. That was just 10 years ago. That's not normal, that's not supposed to happen. I mean, I'm not ‑‑ I'm really not supposed to be here. People with metal in their back, how do you play golf? I don't know, I don't know how, I don't know why I'm here. I know that there's a reason and I know that everything happens for a reason. Every setback you have along the way, everything good that happens, it all happens for a reason. I don't know, I couldn't have dreamed the kid growing up wearing a back brace 18 hours a day that is the No. 1 player in the world. I don't know, I don't know what to say.
Q. That swing with three shots, you were standing behind the green and it was obvious what was going to happen, and I was watching you very carefully and it looked like although you appeared very calm that there was a lot of a adrenaline coursing through your body.
STACY LEWIS: There was. I was getting pretty fired up there making the birdies that I did. That's my challenge all the time is to kind of reel it back in and calm down. I really wanted to birdie 16, that was kind of in the back of my mind all day, and as soon as I made that putt I pointed at Travis and I said, That one's for you.
Q. It seemed like every time you looked to have an advantage earlier in the round, Ai was beating you to it or topped you or something. Can you kind of talk about her consistency? And were you getting a little bit frustrated for her to hit a wedge like that given the fact that she rarely misses a green, just kind of your thoughts on all that?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, we kind of ‑‑ the front nine we were just kind of going back and forth, we were both hitting great shots, one of us would make a putt, one would miss. I birdied 9, I feel like I have some momentum, and then she drains a putt on 10. I birdie 11. It was back and forth all day long. I think really the big kind of swing was 13 and 14. I make birdie there and then she bogeys 14. So I think really that kind of changed the momentum a little bit and I was shocked that she hit the shot she did on 16. That is not like Ai at all, she's green, green. I mean, it's boring to play with her because she hits so many greens. I was very surprised that she did that there. I knew ‑‑ but I knew, I mean, I hit a great shot in and I had to capitalize on it because that was my opportunity and fortunately I did.
Q. What do you think your biggest challenge is going to be in your new position at the top?
STACY LEWIS: Probably all the extra stuff. I'm getting more comfortable doing the extra things and people wanting your time and recognizing you, but it's still a little strange to me so I'll definitely have to get used to that. Probably keeping the expectations down and knowing that it's hard to win out here and it's not going to happen every single week, and so just keeping those kind of reeling it back in and keeping expectations low. And I'm going to have fun, I know that. I watched Yani struggle with it for too long and I'm going to go have fun.
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Ai Miyazato into the interview room. Congratulations, a great week for you. I know not quite the finish that you had hoped for, but just take me through that day, and it was pretty exciting for all of us golf fans out there to watch what was a great battle between you and Stacy over those final 18 holes.
AI MIYAZATO: Well, it was a lot of fun out there. I was four shots ahead from Stacy, but she played really solid out there. I played really good, too. 20‑under on this golf course, it's really good, I think. All in all I had a good day. I have a good feeling and my play was really solid, just the one bad shot on 16. I was a little disappointed. But one bad shot this week, not bad, I'll take it, so it was a really fun day.
MODERATOR: And this golf tournament really has been good to you. I mean, a runner‑up finish last year. You really seem to like playing this golf course.
AI MIYAZATO: Yeah.
MODERATOR: Is there something about being here in Arizona that makes the best in your game come out?
AI MIYAZATO: Well, like I said earlier of this week, I have a home in Phoenix and it feels like a second home over here, so it's just nice and relaxed out there and just so comfortable to play in this tournament. And also I have a great memory from last year. Like you said, I finished tied for 2nd last year and this year was 2nd place, so a little bit better than last year. The people are really nice in Phoenix and it just makes me happy.
MODERATOR: And you've gotten off to a really good start this season. You've been playing really good golf. How good do you feel about your game just overall through these first few events that you've played?
AI MIYAZATO: Well, my game is in good shape, I think. I made a lot of birdies out there today. Seems like my driving distance is a little bit longer than last year and my putting is really good. You know, I really controlled myself really well out there. So I'm only two tournaments finished, but I feel good.
MODERATOR: We talk about players having motivation all the time, and Stacy we knew was a motivated player heading into this final round. She had the chance she knew with a win to take over the top spot in the Rolex Rankings, and then with the misfortune that she had yesterday, it seemed almost to give her a little extra motivation. What did you see from her out there today that you could see how kind of focused she was in on that?
AI MIYAZATO: Well, just confidence, I think. Just she looked like bigger than ‑‑ so much bigger than last couple years. She's just playing really solid right now. And also I like her a lot because her personality is really nice. She's sometimes saying joking in the round and it just makes me laugh. She's really friendly and I know she's working hard these three years, like working hard more than anybody, so I think she deserve this. You know, it's already ‑‑ it's still two tournaments finished, so it's going to be really fun season this year.
MODERATOR: I was going to say that race for No. 1 is going to be a tight one up at the top, but she won't officially take over until tomorrow, she's projected to take over that spot. You've been there in that top spot. Do you have any advice for her about all the pressures that come with being in that top spot?
AI MIYAZATO: No, I don't. I'm sure she'll be fine. I don't think she needs my advice.
Q. On the 16th hole, what happened on the approach shot, and then we were wondering how come you decided to take a drop in the desert as opposed to going back to where your ball was originally in the fairway and hit your fourth shot from there?
AI MIYAZATO: Well, let's see. My shot was like totally in between club. I hit the pitching wedge, but my instinct said that it was an easy 9, so it was a little bit indecisive and that's why I pulled my shot. I went there and I take a look around, but it's just the same as like not easy from anywhere, you know? I decided I would take a drop almost like in a bunker position and I thought we had that little backstop behind the pin so I thought I could make it stop a little bit more. It was kind of a little flat when I dropped, so it was hard but it just happened like that. It's a little unlucky I thought. I'm just get over it.
Q. So which did you hit on 16, the pitching wedge or the 9?
AI MIYAZATO: Pitching wedge.
Q. And so you weren't committed to the shot?
AI MIYAZATO: Yes, but that wasn't hundred percent, it was like almost like 60, 70 percent. But it sometimes happens like that in a tournament. You can't hit hundred percent like every single shot, so I had a good conversation between my caddie and it wasn't like really solid commitment, but I was still happy to hit the pitching wedge.
Q. So how about the tips for people in terms of how you handle those in‑between club shots and stay committed to them?
AI MIYAZATO: Well, if you're in the situation like that in between shot, then take one club ahead I would say because I hit the one club less today. Three quarter shot is much easier than hit the full shot, I think, so that's my advice.
Q. Were you surprised the ball rolled as far as it did? It hit in the grass and it kept going and going into the desert.
AI MIYAZATO: Well, I saw the bounce, it looked to me it was almost like straight bounce. I didn't know that it didn't ‑‑ I mean, it went all the way down to the end. I know the back pin and there is space on the left side, I knew it.