Kraft Nabisco Championship Wednesday Pre-Tournament Notes and Interviews

Kraft Nabisco Championship
Mission Hills Country Club
Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Pre-Tournament Notes and Interviews
April 3, 2013

Beatriz Recari, Rolex Rankings No. 26
Natalie Gulbis, Rolex Rankings No. 98
Suzann Pettersen, Rolex Rankings No. 8
Yani Tseng, Rolex Rankings No. 2
Lydia Ko, (a) Rolex Rankings No. 25

Comfortable at No. 2: Yani Tseng (@YaniTseng) makes her first appearance in over two years at a major this week without World No. 1 attached to her name. But despite the brief pang of losing the top spot, she says she comes into this week feeling fresh with her game and comfortable holding the No. 2 position.

“The first couple of days were weird,” said Tseng of her reaction being unseating as No. 1. “It's kind of sad, actually.  I mean, I don't feel sad.  That's kind of weird.  I prepared for a couple of months already.  But I know it's sad and I'm very emotional after that couple of days after I lost World No. 1, but after that I felt like total relief.”

“But I feel really good. I don't look at the ranking as much.  Like I said, in the beginning of this year my goal was to have fun on the golf course, play the game I love.  There is no way I get too stressful.  I mean, Two is good.  Two is not bad.  I know one is great, but it's giving me motivation to be great again.”

Tseng held the No. 1 position for nearly 110 consecutive weeks, and managed to keep a grip on it through the roughest weeks of her golf career. She watched the gap get narrower as Stacy Lewis grabbed the spotlight with 2012 Player of the Year honors and snagged back-to-back victories earlier this season. Tseng admits the pressures of being No. 1 hit her hard last season.   

“I think the middle of last year, because I finished like Top 10 like eight straight Top 10s,” said Tseng. “After that, I finished on 12 or 13.  And one of the media ‑‑ I don't know why I read those things.  I just read it on the internet it said ‘Yani is playing bad.  What is wrong with Yani?  Yani is struggling.’  But I just finished 12th.  That is the time I felt like, no, this is not right.

“To finish Top 10 is not that easy too.  Why does World No. 1 have to win every week or have to finish Top 10?  I think a lot of people still don't understand how tough it is.  After that, when you get in that moment, it kind of broke my heart a little bit with the press saying that.  After that, it took me a little while to go through.”

One might expect there to be tension between current No. 1 Stacy Lewis and Tseng, but she admits the two are friends on and off the course – a friendship that began when Lewis helped Tseng write her speech when she was the 2011 Player of the Year.

“We started at that time, and after that we kind of became good friends and we joke around,” said Tseng.  “Everywhere we go we say hi to each other.  We chat a little bit.  It's good to have a friend like that on the Tour.  You can talk about anything you want.  We're good friends outside the ropes and good competitors inside the ropes.  If I don't win, I'm happy to see her win too.”

For the past three years, Tseng’s record at the Kraft Nabisco Championship shows first, second and third place finishes. It has officially been over a year since her last win on the LPGA Tour, but she feels her next win could end with a leap into Poppie’s Pond this week.

“I just want to win a tournament,” said Tseng. “I don't care how long I have waited.  This is the week I feel good because I think I was very close the last two years.  I feel good about this week.  I feel I have a chance to win, but I just want to go out there and try to do my best, play one shot at a time, and hopefully the results will come.”

A Rich Tradition: Just off the 18th hole green overlooking the famous Poppie’s Pond is a long barrier showcasing an elite group of LPGA Tour pros who have claimed the Kraft Nabisco Championship title. This week the California Dessert will watch as 111 players will vie for the chance to etch their name as the 31st champion of golf’s first major.

Natalie Gulbis (@natalie_gublis) is among the competitors this week who are eager to make their mark in history. She says the rich tradition this tournament holds is her favorite part of returning to Mission Hills Country Club.

“Well, what makes this event so special this Kraft Nabisco Championship is the history,” said Gulbis. “I mean, this event, I don't know if we have any other event on Tour that has the tradition and history that this has on the same golf course.  You walk up 18 and you see all the past champions and players that I've gotten to play along with and also my heroes growing up, and know that they've walked that same path and same golf course.  I remember watching the Kraft Nabisco when I was 12, 13 years old.  Now that I'm a few years past that, it's a great to be able to play here and compete in this event.”

Gulbis will play in her first tournament since contracting malaria in Asia earlier this year. Combating the sickness for the last few weeks, she finally feels healthy enough and ready to compete again.

“I feel good,” said Gulbis. “This is the first event in the last month that I've actually registered for, So that is a good step in the right direction.  But, as everybody knows, it's been a pretty rough month.  I've been trying to play, and then I'll fall back and rest for a couple of days, and then I try to play again, and I'm back to square one.  Hopefully, I'm past that part and I'm doing better every day.
           
“I'm just so excited to be back.  Not only to be back here in this event, but back playing golf.  I mean, yesterday was the first time I've played 18 holes since Singapore, and I really missed being on the golf course.”

Mission Hills Vibe: Rolex Rankings No. 8 Suzann Pettersen (@suzannpettersen) has had some close calls at Mission Hills Country Club and is hoping to finally get the chance to make the leap into Poppie’s Pond for the first time in her 11-year career. Pettersen has had three runner-ups at the Kraft Nabisco Championship (T2- 2007, T2- 2008, 2nd- 2010) and is hoping to channel some recent success from another Mission Hills into her performance this week.

Pettersen won the Mission Hills World Ladies Championship in China last month, a Ladies European Tour event, and said it was good to get her competitive adrenaline pumping early in the season.

“It was nice,” said Pettersen. “I actually went down to China to make sure I could play on the Solheim team without getting a pick. You know what?  I just took it as another opportunity to work on my game, get some low rounds, and ended up in a good fight with Inbee Park coming down the stretch. Just nice to feel the heart pumping having to hit shots and make putts coming down the stretch.  Was lucky enough to get another W in Asia.”

Pettersen, whose only major championship victory came back in 2007 at the McDonald’s LPGA Championship, said despite some close calls at Kraft, it is always an event circled on her calendar.

“It's always one of the highlights of the year coming here,” said Pettersen. “Everything I've done prior to this has been with this in mind. I have a lot of great memories on this course.  It's one of those courses you just come to that just suits your eye.  A lot of the tee shots, I like what I see.  You have to shape the ball somehow off the tee, and when the greens firm up you have to be able to hit certain shots to hold certain pin locations.

“I've had a few tough defeats here, but I've also gained a lot of experience here,” she said. “So I kind of feel like this is one of my favorite majors of the year.”

Momentum for the Iron Woman: Beatriz Recari (@BeatrizRecari) has been building momentum since the 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic, the last event the Spaniard missed a cut in an LPGA event. Recari was the only player on tour last season to play in all 27 scheduled events and to make every cut. She coined the nickname “Iron Woman” and has done a respectable job living up to the moniker.

She started off the 2013 season with two top-4 finishes in the first two events and was the least surprised person when she earned her second-career victory at the tour’s last event at the Kia Classic. Recari knows her Rolex Ranking of No. 26 doesn’t speak for how well she’s currently playing.

“I honestly feel the same,” said Recari. “You know, I think I knew early in the year when, you know, in my first tournament I finished tied for fourth, in Thailand I finished tied for third.  So I knew that my game was better than what my Rolex Rankings number said or anything.”

The fourth-year tour member is playing for first major championship and trying to build off her best finish in the Kraft Nabisco Championship, a T26 last year.

“I don't feel that much difference,” said Recari. “Just want to keep on building on this momentum and feeling and hopefully get some more wins.”

Blissful ignorance: All eyes will be on 15-year old amateur Lydia Ko (@lko424) when she tees off with Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) at 8:30 a.m. local time on Wednesday. Ko has raised expectations with her brilliant performances in professional events, earning three victories in her young career including one LPGA Tour event at the 2012 CN Canadian Women’s Open. When asked whether she can even grasp the impact she’s having on the professional game, Ko said she’s mostly just out playing for experience. And not forgetting to have fun while doing it.

“I think it's become more like fun and serious at the same time,” said Ko. “I'm an amateur, you know, so money don't really matter like up here as much as the pros.  One shot counts and stuff. Obviously I'm trying my best out here, but I've come here for experience.  I think it's really fun, and I get to see a little bit of what being on tour is like as well. It's been really fun to be able to play a couple of the tournaments.”

The youngest player to win in LPGA Tour history has held her own on the biggest stages in golf too. This week will be her third appearance in a major championship and first at the Kraft Nabisco. She earned low amateur honors at both the U.S. Women’s Open (T39) and the RICOH Women’s British Open (T17) last year and has already gotten off to an impressive start in the professional events this season.

The top-ranked amateur in the world won the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women’s Open on the LET & ALPG earlier this year and went on to strong finishes at the first two LPGA events of 2013 at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open (3rd) and the Honda LPGA Thailand (T14). 

Rolex Rankings No. 1 Stacy Lewis said on Tuesday that she thinks Ko might be unaware just how good she is and that her blissful ignorance has helped her step up in professional events.

With a win this week, Ko would become only the second amateur in LPGA Tour history to win a major championship and first in over 40 years. Catherine Lacoste won the 1967 U.S. Women’s Open.

Quotables: “Just gives us an advantage coming from tropical Norway just so used to this heat. It's tropical back there in the summertime.” –Suzann Pettersen joking when asked whether the warm Rancho Mirage forecast will separate the field at all this week

“The last couple of years have been the most fun parts of my career.  I think the first couple of years ‑‑ this is my 12th season on Tour ‑‑ the first couple of years there is a lot of pressure and you're trying to learn all the golf courses. For me, I came out when I was 18 and I was trying to adjust to what it was like to be a professional athlete and to travel the way that we do.  And now after 12 years, it's so much more fun.” –Natalie Gulbis on the current state of her game

“If it was my first time I would have been really nervous, but I will definitely be nervous as she is my idol.  Luckily I've experienced playing with her and Yani at the Australian Open. Yeah, I got to know a little bit more about her.  I think she's very good player, and I'm very excited to be able to play with her tomorrow.” –Lydia Ko on playing with Michelle Wie in the first two rounds this week

Tweet of the Day: “So Chief, @LizetteSalas5 since we’re friends and all, wanna introduce me to @OscarDeLaHoya? I’ll introduce you to Bruce Jenner? #trade” –Danielle Kang (@daniellekang)


Beatriz Recari, Rolex Rankings No. 26


THE MODERATOR:  It is a true pleasure to kick off the day with our most recent winner on the LPGA, Beatriz Recari, winner the Kia Classic this year.  Thanks for being here.
Out there working on your game.   How do you feel going into this major championship?  Different than in majors past.

BEATRIZ RECARI:  Yeah, definitely winning the last event in San Diego was definitely a confidence booster.  I feel good.  Doing the same things trying to keep it simple, so I'm feeling really good.
           
THE MODERATOR:  I think everybody in here watched the tail end of that tournament, or has seen it on TV,  and the emotions that poured out.  When you were maybe driving away to the airport or thinking about it that night, how was that for you?

BEATRIZ RECARI:  Yeah, it was definitely very special.  You know, I just felt ‑‑ I don't know . I just hold that part, and all the emotions came out.  The first thing I thought was about my family and the loved ones that have been with me all the way.
I was just really happy to get my second win and just see that all the hard work pays off.  Yeah, it was (indiscernible) to drive back to the airport and feel that, yes, I just got my second wind.

THE MODERATOR:  You were on Golf Channel a couple days later, and I'm sure you've done some other interviews.  Has that given you a different feeling about not only yourself but about your game and where you rank on the LPGA tour right now?  By the way, you are No. 2 in the points race for Rolex Player of the Year.

BEATRIZ RECARI:  I honestly feel the same.  You know, I think I knew early in the year when, you know, in my first tournament I finished tied for fourth, in Thailand I finished tied for third.  So I knew that my game was better than what my Rolex Rankings number said or anything.

So I actually felt really good.  I don't feel that much difference.  Just want to keep on building on this momentum and feeling and hopefully get some more wins.

THE MODERATOR:  We'll take questions from the audience.  Raise your hand for a microphone.
Before we get to the first question, what's different?  Why 27 cuts made in a row last year, all your long?  You're now the ironwoman of the tour.  That's a pretty special thing.

BEATRIZ RECARI:  Yeah, well, it's been a lot of hard work.  For me, I think the key was to keep things simple and just work on the same few things.

THE MODERATOR:  Specifically,  what?

BEATRIZ RECARI:  You know, just same stuff.  Just kind of simple things and just trying to tune my swing every now and then.
Really just keeping it simple.

Q.  How do you feel your game suits this golf course, the first major of the year, coming in this week?  Is this a golf course you're comfortable with?

BEATRIZ RECARI:  I'm comfortable, yeah.  It's great to play in majors where they have narrowed the fairways a lot.  I think one of my strengths is that I drive the ball really well, so I think it's going to be a good fit for my game.

Q.  Talking about the rough of maybe four and a half.

BEATRIZ RECARI:  Yeah, the rough is high.

Q.  Maybe a little higher this weekend.

BEATRIZ RECARI:  Yeah, no, it's been really good.  I was happy to see the rough that high, because in past years it wasn't that high so it wasn't that big of a disadvantage to hit a poor tee shot.
So I think it's going to be a good week.

THE MODERATOR:  You talked about the streak last year and cuts made consecutively.  38 right now for you.  You should be smiling a lot more about that.  Not everybody out here is doing what you're doing.  It's not as though you're winning every other week or have six wins, but it seems like your career is in a completely different place than it was back when you won your first tournament.  Can you talk about that a little bit?

BEATRIZ RECARI:  You know, to make a big cut is definitely a challenge.  Maybe people don't really realize, like you said.  I was building and building and I was talking to (indiscernible) who kind of gave me the nickname for ironwoman.  That kind of sunk in a little bit and made me realize I had a great performance even though I didn't win last year.

I was really, really happy to see how consistent my game was developing.  Yeah, just I now have a nickname so I have to stand up for it and keep on doing it.

THE MODERATOR:  The stats say you're one of the best players on this tour.  Do you feel like you're one of the best players on this tour now?

BEATRIZ RECARI:  You know, I hate to compare.  There are great players out there.

What I can definitely say is I feel like a really consistent player.  That's all I really care about and all I can control.

Q.  Are you the type of player that before the season began sat down and maybe made a list or went over it in your mind of goals?  If you did, after the win, is there a tendency now to reevaluate and change them, or do you just stick to the course?

BEATRIZ RECARI:  Well, when I finished last year, you know, I went through the season, like you said, and I took a lot positives.  One was making every single cut.  That was a huge positive.

But I thought that probably my short game wasn't as good as my tee‑to‑green game or play.  You know, that was definitely a focus for this year.

I don't like to put goals as I have to win three tournaments, one major.  You can't control that.  All you can control is how well you perform and just focus on what I'm working on.

So my short game and putting was my focus for this winter training, and it's paying off.

Q.  This is a Solheim Cup year.  Is that on your mind?  You just smiled.

BEATRIZ RECARI:  Yeah, it was a little disappointing to not make the team two years ago.  But I just saw it as something that would make me stronger.  My goal since then has been to make the team through Rolex Rankings qualifying.  Right now I'm on the spot.

To make the team would be great anyhow, but to make it on my own skills and just to secure my spot and not depend on a captain's pick would be even better.

Yeah, I'm not thinking too much about that, but it's definitely in my mind.           

THE MODERATOR:  There are a lot of great players on this tour from Asia, Korea, there are a lot of great American players, and now we've got this little group Spanish‑born players.  How much do you guys spend time perhaps talking about being connected in that way and being great players and representing your country?  I know with the International Crown coming up next year, that would be an event you all could partner in.

BEATRIZ RECARI:  Yeah, we're very excited about that event.  You know, we've known each other for a long time.  Azahara we are the same age, and (indiscernible) is one year younger.  We've known each other since we started pretty much, so we're very friendly.

We're excited for that tournament.

THE MODERATOR:  You've got Language Training Center on your jersey today, one of your sponsors.  I think a lot of people understand that a lot of the players on our tour travel with tutors trying to learn languages.  For you, it's Japanese.

BEATRIZ RECARI:  Yes.

THE MODERATOR:  Talk about why it's so important for players on our tour, given the schedule.

BEATRIZ RECARI:  It's definitely a great partner.  I've always loved to learn and speak different languages.  Now there are so many different nationalities playing on tour and we travel to all these different countries, that it's great to meet new cultures, new people.

Why I decided to start studying Japanese is because I just fell in love with the country.  The people, they're so welcoming and polite that I just wanted to learn.

I find after all the languages that I've learned over the years, I found when you learn the language you learn about the culture and the mindset and why they think that way.  I think that's probably why in Spanish it's a different way.

What they did for me was they found me a tutor in Orlando, and she comes every week.  Not so much now.  I've been busy.  But over in December and January we studied a lot and we went through the characters, and I was showing Ai and Momoko and Mimoko (phonetic) she's a rookie this year.  They were really thrilled and grateful that I was learning Japanese.  They thought it was really cool.

THE MODERATOR:  You were an ambassador for your country, also for the LPGA.  If anybody watched you on Golf Channel you talked about it and it's been in some articles recently.  It's a pretty outstanding story.  You are am ambassador for the Alliance for Eating Disorder Awareness.  Can you share how you got involved with that and perhaps a little bit on the background of that story?

BEATRIZ RECARI:  Well, if you guys knew, I kind of explain it quite simply.  I just really don't want to get into details.  I obviously struggled with eating disorders.  Two years ago I decided I was ready to be a spokesperson and to kind of take the experience I had and take it and do something good with it and try to have and help those people, those girls and adults, that are struggling right now with eating disorders.

I find that I was going to be more helpful to them from my point of view as I past struggled with it.  So it's been really exciting to become an ambassador with this alliance.  Joanna (phonetic), the president, I found her through my agent.  I shared this story with my agent.  I wanted to share with him and say, Okay, this is something I want to do.  This is a project that I'm willing to do for two years now.

I am just so happy that it happened.  I can't wait to be a little bit more involved in events and some fundraising.

THE MODERATOR:  You keep winning tournaments you're going to get a lot more attention for that.  That's outstanding. This is a story between you and me.  I remember you came up to me one time early on last year and said, Hey, let's talk about what we can do with this tour better and showcase our players in LPGA Tour Championship more of a glamorous way.  I would love for to you talk about that a little bit.  You've been out on the tour for a few years now.  Where do you see the LPGA and the players and the fashion?  A lot players in the new fan book and player guide.

BEATRIZ RECARI:  Well, I think it's developed immensely.  You say it that way, right?  This is my fourth year on tour, and I just find it really important to ‑‑ that idea came up to me first because I love tennis and I watch the WTA quite a lot and I see how glamorous their parties are.

Then another reason why I thought about it is in sometimes in the pro‑am I played with my pro‑am group early in the morning and we went to the dinner and they're like, Is that you?  I was different with a hat.  So I think we should show the other side of us, you know, how we can dress up and how glamorous the LPGA can be.

Natalie Gulbis, Rolex Rankings No. 98

THE MODERATOR:  Welcome to the press room here at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.  Great pleasure to have Natalie Gulbis here.  Lots of different things we're going to ask you about.  We could start with the victory you've already gotten this week with the EA Sports thing the other night, but I don't think we should start there.  I think we should start with your health, because I think everybody wants to know how you're feeling.  I know you've been trying to compete over the last few weeks and it hasn't quite worked out.  Where are you health‑wise?


NATALIE GULBIS:  I feel good.  This is the first event in the last month that I've actually registered for, so that is a good step in the right direction.  But, as everybody knows, it's been a pretty rough month.  I've been trying to play, and then I'll fall back and rest for a couple of days, and then I try to play again, and I'm back to square one.  Hopefully, I'm past that part and I'm doing better every day.
           
I'm just so excited to be back.  Not only to be back here in this event, but back playing golf.  I mean, yesterday was the first time I've played 18 holes since Singapore, and I really missed being on the golf course.

Q.  How do you feel physically on the golf course?  It's hotter here than it probably is in other places?

NATALIE GULBIS:  I love the heat.  I'm a California girl that went to school in Arizona and lives in Las Vegas.  So the heat feels great, and I love being out in the heat.  This is a good test for everybody out here this week.  It's going to be hot.  It's a major championship.  It's a tough golf course, and we have to be well prepared.

Q.  When you say Mission Hills or you say Kraft Nabisco, and you say major, all of those things, what's that mean for you this week?  How special is this event to you?

NATALIE GULBIS:  Well, what makes this event so special this Kraft Nabisco Championship is the history.  I mean, this event, I don't know if we have any other event on Tour that has the tradition and history that this has on the same golf course.  You walk up 18 and you see all the past champions and players that I've gotten to play along with and also my heroes growing up, and know that they've walked that same path and same golf course.  I remember watching the Kraft Nabisco when I was 12, 13 years old.  Now that I'm a few years past that, it's a great to be able to play here and compete in this event.

Q.  You've got some history here.  You had a great finish last year, a Top 10 finish, and then you've been third before in this event.  So what is it maybe about this golf course or did you just have a great week or is there something that fits your eye when you're out playing that leads to that success for you here?

NATALIE GULBIS:  I love this golf course.  I think this is one of the best courses we play all year.  What I like about this golf course is you have to hit quite a few different shots.  You have to be able to work the ball, so I really enjoy that part of this golf course.  The greens are fast.  I love the fast greens.
           
But I think what makes this event so much better is the majors in the past.  I love tough golf courses, and when you're playing well, it's fun to be challenged by a tough golf course.

Q.  Natalie, at Kia you had to withdraw with fatigue.  What have you done in the last two weeks?  Has that meant just hanging around the house or are you doing a thousand push‑ups a day to get your strength back?

NATALIE GULBIS:  I tried to play in the Kia.  I actually played a practice round and played a few holes with Stacy Lewis on Tuesday, and even to get ready for that practice round I had an IV in the morning ask drove to the golf course to play and was so excited to play.  I think I did a little too much that day because I found myself back in the doctor's office the next morning and was told very strictly that I was not ready to go out and try to compete and needed another week if I wanted to play this week.  Because I was just basically spinning my wheels by trying to play and not actually taking the time to get better.
           
So I enjoyed a week off after that, and just started slowly practicing, putting, chipping, doing a little bit of work, workouts to try to get some strength back up.  Just spent every day trying to do a little bit more.
           
I'm really listening to my coach, Butch Harmon, on what he feels like I should do, and he's working with my doctors.  And every day I work just to get a little better.

Q.  So nothing out of the ordinary, just building back up to where you were?

NATALIE GULBIS:  No, nothing really out of the ordinary, just day‑by‑day.

Q.  Where do you feel like your career is right now with the game?  I know you had the big victory at Evian and now a major.  It will be a different golf course this year.  Where do you feel like you are with your career?

NATALIE GULBIS:  The last couple of years have been the most fun parts of my career.  I think the first couple of years ‑‑ this is my 12th season on Tour ‑‑ the first couple of years there is a lot of pressure and you're trying to learn all the golf courses.
           
For me, I came out when I was 18 and I was trying to adjust to what it was like to be a professional athlete and to travel the way that we do.  And now after 12 years, it's so much more fun.

Q.  What's better about it?

NATALIE GULBIS:  It's just you know what the season is going to be like.  I've developed great friendships both on the Tour and with the different sponsors and different cities that we play in.  I've gotten to travel all over the world and see so many cool different places.  It's just a lot more fun to be out.  Not that there's any less pressure.  There is always pressure in playing competitive sports, but it's different than when you're trying to get out here and make it and make it your career than when you're out here and you're playing because you still love it.

Q.  Let's talk about that video game victory the other night.  You and Anthony Anderson, right?

NATALIE GULBIS:  That was a good time.  My favorite part of the EA Sports is we had a video contest, and I love games, so any time I get a chance to play the video game.  That is the coolest game I've ever played and the most realistic.  I'm on it, so that helps too.
           
But it's most realistic like a golf swing.  When I was swinging, it felt like I was hitting a 50‑yard shot or hitting those different shots.  The coolest part is they have the Dinah Shore in there.  Now, I've seen on Twitter now and all these gamers that are texting and they're so excited to play the same golf course that we're going to be playing this weekend.
           
I've never played Augusta.  I've only played it on the Tiger Woods or Masters Edition game.  I think it's cool for them to be able to see that.  We had a lot of fun.  You were there.  There were a lot of laughs, and we had a great combination of players and celebrities there.

THE MODERATOR:  Yeah, it's good for the LPGA to be part of that game.

Q.  A couple minutes ago you mentioned what makes this tournament a little different is the history that it has.  How important is ‑‑ (No Audio).

NATALIE GULBIS:  (No Audio) I think there is a lot of golf.  It's part of the history.  It's fun to make new history, but it's also great to be part of something like this coming back to an event that's been on the same golf course that we've grown up watching players hit great shots and play those same holes and those pin placements, it's really special for us.

Q.  The Masters has the green jacket that's a big part of it.  Should a white bath robe be included with this tournament?

NATALIE GULBIS:  Sure.  I think that jump is as famous as the green jacket for us.  Those players, everybody wants to jump in that pond.  It's something that makes this event cool and different.  We all look at that alongside the 18th green knowing and wanting to be jumping in.
           
Look at the photos that you guys have up here in the media.  You don't have shots of these players hitting into the 18th green.  You have all the jumps, so that's what makes this event something extra special.

Q.  Would you jump?  Are you going to dive if you have the chance on Sunday?  What would you do?  Have you thought about that?

NATALIE GULBIS:  I haven't thought about that, but I hope I get the chance.

Q.  Would you dive?  You seem like you might dive.

NATALIE GULBIS:  I don't know, but my 5‑year‑old cousin came out in the Pro‑Am yesterday and she was like, "Can we go in that lake?"  And I said, "No, they don't let you just go into it.  You have to win first."  She said, "Why don't you win so we can go in the lake on Sunday?"

Q.  That's great.  Speaking of kids, you're tied into the Boys and Girls Club in Henderson, Nevada, and now your name is part of one of those clubs.  You want to share this little story?

NATALIE GULBIS:  I had a couple of goals growing up.  One was to be an LPGA Tour player and right behind it was to have my own Boys and Girls Club.  I've always been a fan of the Boys and Girls Club.  And for 12 years of my professional career, it's been the charity that I did my time to and my energies towards.
           
In January this year, the Boys and Girls Club of America gave me a great honor and are naming a club in Las Vegas that's going to be called the Natalie Gulbis Boys and Girls Club, and we'll be unveiling it next week.
           
I'm so excited.  It's a big honor, and it's going to be a great part for me to have an influence on those kids and to continue to get more kids in a safe environment.

Q.  I'm going to sound stupid, but could you just take us through what injuries or what was the injury and what was the rehab?

NATALIE GULBIS:  Yeah, I got sick at the first event of the year, which was in Thailand.  Since then I've pulled out of three events.

Q.  Stomach sick?

NATALIE GULBIS:  Like real stomach sick.

Q.  Something you ate?

NATALIE GULBIS:  No, I got bitten by a mosquito in Thailand.  That's what the doctors said.

Q.  Is it malaria?  Is that it?

NATALIE GULBIS:  Yes.

Q.  What do you have to do to get rid of that?

NATALIE GULBIS:  The first couple of days they, fortunately or unfortunately, they know exactly what to do to treat it because there have been some cases before, so they know exactly how to treat it.  Then they told me right away I was going to be out for about a month.  I thought that meant for an athlete, two weeks, and that I would be back.  It definitely took longer, and I'm grateful that I had good doctors that knew how to treat me, and I'm sitting here with a chance to play this week.

Q.  Were you hospitalized?

NATALIE GULBIS:  I was.

Q.  For how long?

NATALIE GULBIS:  For how long?  Off and on for quite a few days.

Q.  What was your reaction when they told you had malaria?

NATALIE GULBIS:  I think I was glad that they had a clear understanding of what I had.  I've traveled a lot and I've been sick and I had injuries.  I think the scary thing when you're a patient is the doctor not knowing exactly what's wrong.  They were able to determine what I had, they knew exactly what to give me, and what I needed to do.  And whether or not I listened perfectly or not is neither here nor there, but I think just knowing that they knew what to do.
           
They told me it was going to be four to six weeks, so if I was lucky, to be able to come out and play again.  Now I'm at four weeks.

Q.  Do you still take medication?

NATALIE GULBIS:  No.  I did IV therapy last week, but hopefully, knock on wood, I'm good, and I'm going to continue going forward.

Q.  Does that change your goal this week?  Are you just hoping to make a cut, or do you feel like your game is sharp enough that you could contend this week as you did last year?

NATALIE GULBIS:  My game gets better every day, so that's positive.  I love this golf course.  That goes without saying.  I'm definitely more excited than I think I've ever been to go out and play a tournament and a round of golf.  It's very, very exciting to come back.  I remember when I came back from having a back injury, it's so exciting when you come back out, but the goals are the same.  The goal is to have a chance to win come Sunday.

Q.  Just, obviously, this is a great game, but along with that comes a lot of pressure with everyone playing on Tour now.  How much pressure is it when you see other players having to go out there and perform every week?

NATALIE GULBIS:  It's what we play for.  We love pressure.  That's what we spend our whole life doing, to have a chance to win tournaments and to compete.  I love to play golf, but there is nothing better than playing in competition, and it gets even better when you have a chance to win the tournament and you're feeling everything that we feel when you come down the stretch on the last few holes of a major championship or a tournament to win.  It's what we practice for and play for, to have that chance to be under pressure.

Q.  Solheim Cup here, and Stacy was in here yesterday and Paula was here yesterday.  What is the importance of that event for you?  Is that an extra little kick in the pants to go I've got to play some good golf and I want to be a part of that?

NATALIE GULBIS:  Yeah, very important.  That was my goal this year was to make the Solheim Cup team.  I've been on three Solheims and they've been my favorite week on Tour.  I love that event, and I missed a couple of events, so I know I'm a little behind the curve.  So I need to start making some points.


Suzann Pettersen, Rolex Rankings No. 8


THE MODERATOR:  Good afternoon everybody, and welcome to the press room here at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.  Pleased to be joined by Suzann Pettersen, who has had quite a nice start to her year and a great finish to the year last year.
Why don't we start with the preparation for this major championship.  What have you been up to and how is your game?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  My game is pretty good.  It's always one of the highlights of the year coming here.  Everything I've done prior to this has been with this in mind. I'm getting old.

THE MODERATOR:  What did you say?


SUZANN PETTERSEN:  I'm getting older.  I've played it so many times.  It's easy to prepare for a course that you know so well and you know what it's going to take of you.
I was walking up to play a few rounds at Bay Hill last week which was kind of hard and firm.  It was perfect for me and great preparation.
           
THE MODERATOR:  Talk about your memories of this golf course.  You haven't won here, but you've had some opportunities and been runner‑up on multiple occasion.

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  Yeah, I have a lot of great memories on this course.  It's one of those courses you just come to that just suits your eye.  A lot of the tee shots, I like what I see.  You have to shape the ball somehow off the tee, and when the greens firm up you have to be able to hit certain shots to hold certain pin locations.
I've had a few tough defeats here, but I've also gained a lot of experience here.  So I kind of feel like this is one of my favorite majors of the year.

THE MODERATOR:  Let's tie in Mission Hills to Mission Hills.  Recently you won an LET event overseas in Asia, and now Mission Hills here.  Specific to your game, how big was that victory for you and how might to help making sure your game is on all cylinders for this week?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  It was nice.  I actually went down to China to make sure I could play on the Solheim team without getting a pick.
You know what?  I just took it as another opportunity to work on my game, get some low rounds, and ended up in a good fight with Inbee Park coming down the stretch.
Just nice to feel the heart pumping having to hit shots and make putts coming down the stretch.  Was lucky enough to get another W in Asia.

THE MODERATOR:  Folks, if you've got questions, we have got microphones and we'll start taking some question here in just a second. Last year, ended a year, fantastic finish for you.  I know you felt like it was coming all year and then you won back‑to‑back weeks in Korea, and then in Taiwan as well. What did that do for you before the holiday season?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  Obviously, I mean, you win late you kind of walk off the season with a fairly good feel.  I mean, at the end of the day, for me it's obviously about doing well and performing.
But sometimes you could do a lot of hard work and sometimes it pays off tomorrow and sometimes it pays off two weeks later.  In this case I just felt like it was a matter a time before it was all going to click.  I knew what I had done in months prior all summer, and I never really felt like my game was right there.            
I was just lucky enough there were enough tournaments that I had time to use it all and it all came together.  I might as well just move to Asia.  I mean, I love it there.

Q.  You said the course fits your eye.  Some trees have been taken down; others have been taken back.  Has it changed that much the look and has is made it easier?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  You know, it's definitely changed the look to certain holes.
I don't know where the trees have gone, but especially the approach shot into 1, it's a quite different look.  There is less trees along the side on 1 and 9.
There are a few different looks.  I mean, all I'm looking at is right down the middle of the fairway.  Worrying about the middle, so I don't really look further wider than that.

Q.  Does it make it any easier off the tee when you see it any wider?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  No, not really.  I have my game plan and the course all mapped out in my head.  If there is trees or rough or bunkers, I mean, it's a very good tract.  The course is in phenomenal shape.
I'm sure they're going to firm up and speed up the greens a fraction of a bit.  It's going to be a good test.

Q.  The weather forecast says it's going to hit into the 90s all four days.  Does that separate the field?  Give advantages to players?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  Just gives us an advantage coming from tropical Norway just so used to this heat.

Q.  From Norway?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  It's tropical back there in the summertime.

Q.  It wasn't an answer.  I don't know what it was?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  It's beautiful to be here.  We came up from Singapore where it's 90 and pretty much 90% humidity.  Coming here 90 and a dry heat, it's perfect.
           
KANN:  Questions.  I want to get your perspective for the race for No. 1 on this tour.  Stacy Lewis March 18th became No. 1.  Yani has slipped bike but seems very motivated right now.  Na Yeon Choi is right up there.  You had those two wins the end of last year. How do you feel the tour is right now with the competitive balance, and how big a goal is it for you to knock them all off?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  It's good to see different people succeed.  Stacy is a very hard worker.  It; s nice to see an American on top.  It's been a while.

THE MODERATOR:  This is a Solheim Cup year.  You just said what?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  You have to make friends on the side or we won't have anyone cheering for us.  Yani, she will have to be motivated enough to wake up and try to get to the Pro‑Am on time.  I give her some crap for that.
No, I think it's nice.  I think everyone works so hard and I think everyone brings the best out of each other.  I think the best way is to bring it out on Sunday and fight it all out.
I think it's a fun challenge, and I'm happy to be somehow a part of it.

THE MODERATOR:  How much of a motivator is it for you at this point in your career to perhaps get to No. 1?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  I mean, obviously as a young girl growing up you have you had one goal in mind.  I've achieved a lot.  Pretty much one thing I haven't achieved, but I'm still looking forward to it.
I'm not going to disappear off this tour for a while.  I'm just going to keep plugging along.

Let's talk about the Solheim Cup briefly.  You brought it up.  You guys hold the Cup and you're coming to the United States later this year.  Annika was in here yesterday and was having a difficult time keeping a straight face.  There was a big smile on her face of the pride of having the Cup. She knows the difficulty of trying to win on American soil.  What's your take?  And how big was it for you?  You were a big part of least victory.

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  Solheim Cup is always super exciting.  It's a lot more fun to win than to lose.  That being said, I've lost more than I've been a part of winning teams.  It was my second win out of the sic that I've already played.

I mean, nothing would be better than to win over here.  I know it hasn't been done over here.  We've been close.  The same way it was in Ireland.  It's always going to be close coming down the stretch.

I think we have a good captain and I think we're going to have a fairly young team.  Some new rookies.  I've played with some of them already.  They have a fantastic game.  Will be a good addition to the team.  Get some young spirits, fresh blood, and
kind of those no‑fear competitors on our side.  It'll be fantastic.  I can't wait. I know it's going to be Cristie and my in the singles.  It always is.  Cristie Kerr.

THE MODERATOR:  We've given a lot of the players chances to talk about their charitable contributions.  Talk about your new event and where you would like to see it go, the Susan Pro Challenge.

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  Over the years you grow up and get older and get perspective of things.  One of the first things that ever crossed my mind that I really wanted to do was to give back to the kids.

So ten years ago I created Suzann Junior Challenge, which is pretty much all focused on giving back and trying to help the new generation growing up back home in Norway.

Secondly, I want to bring more of a charitable tournament, more commercial side to the event.  So I created the Suzann Pro Challenge.

Had three good friends, Yani, Lorena, and Annika joining me.  Also last week ‑‑ last year ‑‑ you were there.  Fantastic host.  Just giving back

I'm an ambassador of Right to Play.  It's a charity that gives kids in the Third World a chance to use and play and learn activities and just have the opportunity to play the way we had growing up

You take it for granted that all your surroundings is the way everyone has it, and that's not true.  I went down there four weeks later to see all the project in person, and I must say, to get that personal experience and in touch with the kids felt like pretty much the most meaningful thing I've ever done in my life

At the time, it was really bad timing.  Didn't really fit my schedule.  It was week prior to Malaysia.  It was the first of four in Malaysia.  I didn't hit a golf ball.  I looked at my clubs every night

It gave me great perspective of how luck and fortunate we are compared to all these kids who have nothing.  I sat with maybe 100 kids and I got introduced as a golfer, and they have no idea what golf is.  I thought maybe they've heard of Tiger Woods.  Not one hand went up in the air

What about football?  Oh, yeah, Mess, and they were all cheering big time.  It was just weird to see a big name like him that has never come to their attention

Ended up being a good thing for me.  I came off the trip to Mozambique with two wins in Asia.  Might have been part of it.  Puts life in perspective and you feel like you can make a difference

THE MODERATOR:  Last thing from me:  Kind of where this tour is right now, this is a major championship, there will be five this year with Evian as well.  We talk a lot on the LPGA about building the stage and providing more media opportunities.  You've been on the tour for a number of years. Where do you see the LPGA right now?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  I think it's in a very healthy place.  I think we managed to turn the ship around.  If you look at the depth of women's golf, it's stronger than it's ever been.  We're global.  We're pretty much as big in Asia as we are in America, which I think is a great thing.

I think it's important to showcase our talent across the globe.  Go different countries where we have players, go to their home countries, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Mexico, China, you name it.  I think it's healthy.
Obviously golf being an Olympic sport, you're going to see more and new countries popping up on the golf map.  I think it's just going to help grow the game of golf.

Q.  Besides you, how many people can win this week and why?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  I don't know.  All I care about is my game, my preparation.  I'm done for the day.  I'm going to go home and sit with my legs up high and be ready for tomorrow morning.

Yani Tseng, Rolex Rankings No. 2

THE MODERATOR:  Thank you all for being here in the press room once again.  I'd like to welcome in past Kraft Nabisco Champion, multiple major winner, former No. 1 in the world, Yani Tseng is here.  How are you?


YANI TSENG:  Thank you.  I'm doing good.

THE MODERATOR:  Have you been practicing hard today?

YANI TSENG:  Just a little bit.

THE MODERATOR:  Talk about your game coming in this week and the importance of playing well at this major and where you've already jumped into the pond once upon a time?

YANI TSENG:  One time is not enough.  I have to do it again.  It's a great golf course.  This golf course fits my game very well, and I love this tournament.  The first year I won my major, and I have so many memories here.  I played Q‑school here trying to get into the LPGA, and my family is here with me this week, so I feel good.  I feel very relaxed, and I just can't wait to tee off on Thursday.

Q.  Suzann Pettersen was in here moments ago and she said you seem very motivated because you have your alarm clocks all set and ready.

YANI TSENG:  At first I didn't feel so good.  I just wanted to tee off on the first tee.  I didn't care what score I shot, I just wanted to show up on the first tee and play a good tournament.

Q.  Have you caught a lot of grief over that alarm clock situation?

YANI TSENG:  I know.  So many people have given me alarm clocks.  But a few days ago I set it off like ten times.  Everything was good.  My phone was working.  My alarm clock is working, so everything's ready to go.

Q.  Let's talk about the No. 1 ranking and you've had it for so long.  You talked a lot about maybe it would take some pressure off of you to not have that ranking and that it might be okay.  Now that you don't have it, are you okay?

YANI TSENG:  I'm totally fine.  It takes a lot of pressure off.  I feel like I don't have to play like world No. 1 anymore.  I mean, that gave me a lot of pressure.  I think sometimes it feels really good that you can say to yourself that your goal is to be world No. 1.  So now world No. 1 gives me a lot of motivation.
           
It's just like maybe two years ago.  I know this feeling, and I know what it's like to be No. 2.  And I always wanted to be World No. 1.  And No. 1 is a big deal to me.  It's like a dream come true.  But even now I'm not World No. 1, but I still feel like I'm living the dream.  I'm more appreciating it and I'm learning so much this past year being World No. 1.  So everything now I just want to enjoy the golf.
           
This is a game I loved when I was young, and I just want to play like childlike.  I just want to smile on the golf course and show my best to the fans and to the people out there watching me and supporting me.  Doesn't matter how I play or what position I'm in, I just want to play good golf.  I want to show my big smile on the golf course and to do the best I can.
           
I know now I'm not World No. 1, but I do have confidence to get it back.  Stacy is a great player and we're good friends.  She gives me a lot of motivation.  I try to learn from her and learn from other players.  I just feel really good on my position right now.  Doesn't matter what position it is, I feel very relaxed.

Q.  Being No. 1 and some of the criticism that came with it, was that difficult to handle?

YANI TSENG:  I feel like World No. 1 is not allowed to make mistakes.  That's just how I feel.  But I know the people around me, the media, the fans, family and friends, I give myself a lot of pressure, more than they do.  I mean, that's just on me.  I feel like I forgot how to enjoy golf.  I forgot what I'm here for.  I'm here to play and not because I'm World No. 1.
           
So I just learned so much from the last few years.  Being World No. 1 is great.  It's one of my best memories, ever, and I wish it would continue in the future.  Because I told myself the first year I got into the LPGA I told myself I want to retire on top.  So now I'm still on top, and if I lose my World No. 1, but I'm not finished playing golf yet.  I still have so many years to come.  One day I wish I could retire on top.

Q.  Does it feel weird though March 18th to look at the Rolex Rankings for the first time and not see your name at the top?

YANI TSENG:  The first couple of days were weird.  It's kind of sad, actually.  I mean, I don't feel sad.  That's kind of weird.  I prepared for a couple of months already.  But I know it's sad and I'm very emotional after that couple of days after I lost World No. 1, but after that I felt like total relief.
           
I feel really good.  I don't look at the ranking as much.  Like I said, in the beginning of this year my goal was to have fun on the golf course, play the game I love.  There is no way I get too stressful.  I mean, 2 is good.  2 is not bad.  I know 1 is great, but it's giving me motivation to be great again.

THE MODERATOR:  You had No. 1 for almost 110 weeks.  What was it like in your home country?  I know the LPGA went to Taiwan for the first time.  We were all there for the news conference, and everybody following you around.  You talked about pressure and we asked about pressure.  What was that like or what's it been like for you?

YANI TSENG:  It's a lot.  I mean, Taiwanese fans mean a lot to me.  They're great and they're amazing.  Every time I go back to Taiwan when I walk on the street or go everywhere, they always give me big support.  They tell me to keep it up.  They say don't worry about it.  Just have fun.  They don't really push me a lot.  I think they understand more golf now.  They understand how tough it is to stay on top.  How tough it is to win a major and to win in the tournament.
           
After I lost World No. 1, I went on Facebook and so many people gave me big support and big hugs.  I felt very emotional just seeing that because I felt like I let a lot of people down and made people disappointed because I lost World No. 1.  But it was actually the opposite way.  They even thought this would be better for me because that way I can relax a little bit.  They want to see my smile on the course and they want to see that I'm enjoying golf again.  Don't worry about World No. 1.  They always tell me it doesn't matter where I am.  They will always support Yani Tseng.

Q.  Yani, you won major when's you were No. 1, and you won a bunch of tournaments when you were No. 1.  When did it start to become stressful?  Because when you were No. 1, you won majors and a bunch of tournaments.  When was there a certain time when it became stressful?

YANI TSENG:  I think the middle of last year, because I finished like Top 10 like eight straight Top 10s.  After that, I finished on 12 or 13.  And one of the media ‑‑ I don't know why I read those things.  I just read it on the internet it said Yani is playing bad.  What is wrong with Yani?  Yani is struggling.  But I just finished 12th.  That is the time I felt like, no, this is not right.
           
To finish Top 10 is not that easy too.  Why does World No. 1 have to win every week or have to finish Top 10?  I think a lot of people still don't understand how tough it is.  After that, when you get in that moment, it kind of broke my heart a little bit with the press saying that.  After that, it took me a little while to go through.

Q.  You haven't won on this Tour in over a year.  Is that some added pressure to get back and win?

YANI TSENG:  No.  I just want to win a tournament.  I don't care how long I have waited.  This is the week I feel good because I think I was very close the last two years.  I feel good about this week.  I feel I have a chance to win, but I just want to go out there and try to do my best, play one shot at a time, and hopefully the results will come.

Q.  There's a lot of mutual respect and admiration that you and Stacy have for each other.  Can you just tell us how you guys first connected and became friendly?

YANI TSENG:  We played a lot of golf together.  We play a lot together, and we always talk about a lot of fun things on the golf course.  We give each other very good motivation.
           
I think last year ‑‑ actually, the year before when I won the Player of the Year and she won the first time winner.  She was helping me for my speech for Player of the Year.  If I knew she was helping me with my speech that she was going to win it, I would have never let her help (laughing).
           
But we started at that time, and after that we kind of became good friends and we joke around.  Everywhere we go we say hi to each other.  We chat a little bit.  It's good to have a friend like that on the Tour.  You can talk about anything you want.  We're good friends outside the ropes and good competitors inside the ropes.  If I don't win, I'm happy to see her win too.

Q.  Is this golf course one that allows for a large number of potential winners or is there a limited group in the field who can win on this course in this tournament?

YANI TSENG:  I think the people that believe they're going to win will win this week.  It doesn't matter.  Every player has a chance to win.  If they believe in themselves they're going to win, I think they can win the tournament.  I mean, there are so many great players on the LPGA Tour.  Now the LPGA is getting stronger, getting much stronger.  So I think the people on the Tour, we give each other motivation.  I think a lot of people are going to have a chance to win this week.

Q.  You were the runner up in Australia, top three finish also in Thailand.  So your game, while you haven't had that victory that they were talking about there, it seems pretty good right now.  Do you feel like you're ready at any moment to get back to the winner's circle?

YANI TSENG:  I'm ready.  I had the last two weeks off.  So it was really good.  Last week gave me a lot of time to prepare my game.  And my coach, Gary, is here with me this week.  He came early last week with me.  So I feel like my game is great.  I feel like I'm ready to go.  I'm ready to have some fun.

Q.  I know there were a few reports in Taiwan about what happened at the Kia and missing your Pro‑Am, and I read your Facebook post or I had it translated.  Did that hurt almost as much as losing World No. 1, just in terms of what was being said?

YANI TSENG:  It didn't hurt as much as last year after I finished eight Top 10s, but it still hurts.  Because I don't get it.  I don't go to nightclubs at all.  I don't know why they said I go to nightclubs and that's why I missed the tee time.  Every player comes here to win a tournament.  Everybody ‑‑ no one is prepared to miss a tee time.  I want to show up.
           
I love playing in the Pro‑Am and love meeting new people and new sponsors.  I love it, and this is my job.  These are the things I love to do.  I don't know what they do.  They just made me feel really sad about that.
           
I try not to think about it too much.  I try to feel like it's a motivation.  I want to show them my best.  I want to show them I can play golf.  Don't give me those crap.

Q.  That was funny.  Is there a point where you'll just stop reading everything?

YANI TSENG:  I try, but it's so hard.  Especially because I love to see what people talk about me, and I enjoy doing that too sometimes.  But when your mind is positive, everything goes positive.  When your mind is negative sometimes, even little things will get harder.
           
But now after last year, those things are no big deal to me anymore.  I've become more mature.  My heart is getting stronger, and I'm getting tougher too.  So those things are no big deal.            

I'm fine.  I feel good.  I just want to play my golf.  I don't want to worry about anything, and I just want to have fun.

Q.  What do you think when you hear someone like Lydia Ko of 15 being so accomplished?  Have you seen her much?  What do you think about someone at her age being as advanced as she is?

YANI TSENG:  That is amazing.  I played with her in Australia.  She doesn't seem like she's only 15 years old.  How good she plays, she shot 9‑under and played with me and Michelle, and she didn't even look like nervous.  She just had fun.  She smiled, and after she made a putt, she was like thank you.  Thank you very much.  It was so easy.  It kind of reminded me I think I was like that when I played my best.  It's just that easy.
           
It was great to play with her because it kind of reminded me a little bit that that's how I want to be like her.  So I'm learning from her, so it's good.  It's great for golf to see younger people, younger generation now coming out.  I feel I'm older now. 
I'm 24, but ‑‑

THE MODERATOR:  Very old, very old.  I'd think about setting the timetable when you need to quit.

YANI TSENG:  I'm not the youngest winning anything anymore.  But it's good.  It's good to see Lydia Ko come out.  She has a great personality.  She's a very good girl.  She told me I was watching you guys when I was growing up playing golf.  And I was like we're only nine years different.  We're not that much different, but it's great fun.  It's fun to see that.

THE MODERATOR:  You've listed Annika as your personal mentor and somebody that's helped you quite a bit.  I'd love for you to share a little bit of the tie with Annika who is the celebrity host and the ambassador of this tournament now and jumped in that pond three times.  What has she meant to you?

YANI TSENG:  She means a lot to me.  She's so nice.  She's always telling me you know where I live.  Just knock on my door.  You can do whatever you want.  Ask me any questions.  So I'm always texting her if I have any question and she's always replying to me immediately.
           
She's great as a person and she's a classy player.  I wish one day I could be like her inside the ropes and outside the ropes.  Being a good player and being a good person too.  I want to follow her and how much she's done for the LPGA and how much she's done for the Girls Juniors, it's amazing.  She's still doing it.  It's very impressive.
           
Now I'm trying to fill the trophy room, so it's kind of stopped a little bit now, but hopefully I'll get back on track again.

THE MODERATOR:  This would be a big victory if you jumped in the pond.  What will do you?  A big cannonball if it happened this time?

YANI TSENG:  No.  One of my friends gave me this snorkeling glass, so if I win this week, I'll wear my snorkel glass to jump in the pond.

Lydia Ko, (a) Rolex Rankings No. 25

THE MODERATOR:  Lydia Ko welcome to the press center here at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.  Thanks so much for being here this afternoon.  I would like to welcome to our media center Lydia Ko.  Great to have you here.
I know you've had a busy few days already.  What's this first‑ever trip to the Kraft Nabisco Championship been like thus far?

LYDIA KO:  It's really good to be up here.  I played the course a couple times and it's in really good form.  Yeah, I mean, this tournament, it's a major and the world's greatest players are here.  Very fortunate to be out here.

THE MODERATOR:  I think there are a lot players, some who have sat up here already, who already look at you as one of the best players and someone that they have to contend with.  You get a lot of accolades from those players. How have you been dealing with that?  Your name has come up quite a bit this year if you've been reading any media.

LYDIA KO:  I haven't reading that much, but I've heard along the way.  Yeah, I mean, I think everyone is being overly too nice.  Yeah, I mean I look up to everyone out here.  I think they're really great. In my future I will be able to become like them.  Yeah, they're being really nice, like what Yani said as well.

THE MODERATOR:  What's the best experience thus far this week for you?  What's stood out?  If someone called you on the telephone and said, Lydia, what's it like?  What would you tell them is the neatest thing that's happened so far this year?

LYDIA KO:  I think because it's the first major of the year and I'm first time at the Kraft.  One of the big thing was when I was walking down the 18th, next to the green they have the plates of all the winners.  I saw the scores and stuff.
It goes back into history.  Yeah, these were quite good memories.

THE MODERATOR:  One last question from me:  The victories that you've had, the professional tour victories as an amateur player, did you ever expect that would happen so quickly for you when you started teeing it up in those types of events.

LYDIA KO:  No, not really, because my first professional win was at New South Wales Open, and I actually got a little bit of a taste what it could've been like the year before when I was going against Caroline Hedwell.
I lost by one shot to her.  I thought that was just a lucky week and I had played a really good three rounds.  After that happened the year after I thought, Wow, may not have been luck the year before.  It definitely came really fast.  I was only 14 then.
I don't think it has ever really sunk in properly.

THE MODERATOR:  Just set the record straight, you didn't play a practice round this morning because you didn't want to get up at 5:00.  Is that your story?  You sticking with that?

LYDIA KO:  Yeah.

THE MODERATOR:  Would have been an early wake‑up call.

Q.  Are you excited to play with Michelle the first few days?  Nervous?  Do you know her well?  What's this pairing going to be like for you?

LYDIA KO:  If it was my first time I would have been really nervous, but I will definitely be nervous as she is my idol.  Luckily I've experienced playing with her and Yani at the Australian Open.
Yeah, I got to know a little bit more about her.  I think she's very good player, and I'm very excited to be able to play with her tomorrow.

Q.  You know her history here?

LYDIA KO:  Yeah.  She was called "the genius" and everything.  I've heard all her background and I know how good she is.

Q.  You said you got a couple practice rounds.

LYDIA KO:  Yeah, I did.  I came last week, so...

Q.  Just your general impression of the golf course, and how long does it take somebody to learn a golf course that they've never played before, especially one that can be this tough?

LYDIA KO:  I saw the course, because normally when ‑‑ I guess it's in tournament condition and greens were running on an 11, something around that.  I played with a couple of members and they said this is the best it's ever been.  Obviously the course is at its best.

It's quite tough, because there are a few fairways where it is quite narrow.  But I guess everybody is playing the same course, really.

Q.  Stacy said the other day in reference to you that ignorance is bliss.  Like you don't realize how good you are sort of thing.  Talk about what the game means to you and how you see your future and if you're grasping all this as it goes or if it's too hard to have a perspective yet?

LYDIA KO:  Yeah, I mean, I think it's become more like fun and serious at the same time.  I'm an amateur, you know, so money don't really matter like up here as much as the pros.  One shot counts and stuff.
Obviously I'm trying my best out here, but I've come here for experience.  I think it's really fun, and I get to see a little bit of what being on tour is like as well.
Yeah, it's been really fun to be able to play a couple of the tournaments.
           
THE MODERATOR:  What's been the most difficult thing you've had to deal with with all that's gone on over the last year in professional and amateur golf for you?

LYDIA KO:  I think overall media.  I'm in the media center right now and I'll have to be honest saying it is media.

THE MODERATOR:  How so?

LYDIA KO:  Like after every tournament, when I go back home, everybody wants a little bit from you.  Before I had won the New South Wales and all that it was just maybe a couple questions before the tournament and that was really it.

After it's like a pre‑ and a post‑interview kind of stuff.  Yeah, and before I would accept pretty much everything.  I thought that's the way to go.  I need to be nice.  I can't do this person and not this person.
But I've learnt that you can't really do everything.  It's pretty hard to do.

THE MODERATOR:  Has anybody given you advice on how to deal with that?

LYDIA KO:  Not yet.  Hopefully I'll be able to talk to a couple of pros as they have better experience.

Q.  When you've come to play tournaments in the U.S.  before, you made it kind of like an Odyssey.  You visit a lot places.  What's on the itinerary for this trip?

LYDIA KO:  I'm not actually going back home after this tournament.  I'm playing the Lotte in Hawaii, which is in two weeks.  So I've got next week which is kind of a break week, and then I'm going to Hawaii early.
Never been to Hawaii before.  I'll enjoy some of the beaches and just have some fun.  I don't get to go out that much when I'm at a tournament, so, yeah, it'll be good.

Q.  What kind of family do you have with you this week?

LYDIA KO:  Only my mom.

THE MODERATOR:  Only your mom here?

LYDIA KO:  Yes.

THE MODERATOR:  You mentioned the experience here and wanting to come gain the experience.  Do you have specific goals or just come out here and try to soak it all up?

LYDIA KO:  Because I'm an amateur, my one big goal is to get the low end if I'm playing a pro tournament.  Also the big thing is got to make the cut first and go from there.
I'll make another goal after I play two rounds if I make the cut.  I don't want to like to hurry anything before.  I just want to take it really a step at a time.

Q.  Just curious who your caddie is this week and when you met him?

LYDIA KO:  He's Patrick (indiscernible).  He's over there.  He told me to say he's the best caddie.  (Laughter.) That's what he said.

THE MODERATOR:  We've got that on record.

LYDIA KO:  I said those words.  Yeah, I mean, I got introduced to him by another professional on the LPGA Tour.  I've been walking around and other caddies have said, You've got a good person on your bag this week.
Yeah, I'm very fortunate.

THE MODERATOR:  And the jump into the pond, what would it look like?

LYDIA KO:  I haven't really thought about it.  It's next to the 18th green, and I went past and I was like, How deep is it?  If I do go in will we hurt ourself?  Because I heard Morgan's mom broke her ankle once or something.

THE MODERATOR:  There have been some injuries, but it's all perfectly crystal clear water now.  Probably could do a back flip if you wanted.

LYDIA KO:  If I get to do the jump it'll be pretty amazing moment.

THE MODERATOR:  Who would you bring in besides the best caddie in all of professional golf?

LYDIA KO:  Probably my mom.  We are actually staying with two people we met at the Canadian Open.  They're Canadian Koreans and they have an apartment or a condominium at the island, so we're staying with them and they are going to watch the whole week.  Hopefully they will jump in as well.

Q.  Can you swim?

LYDIA KO:  Well, I hope so.  We'll see then.

Q.  Do you have a plan as far as when you want to turn pro?  Have you talked to other pros about it who have done it early at a young age like you?

LYDIA KO:  I couldn't really give a certain year of when I will turn pro.  Yeah, we don't normally think about it when we go back home.  The time I think about it is when I'm here getting asked the questions.
My parents and I and my coaches, we have never really talked about it seriously.  Yeah, couldn't really give a certain year.

THE MODERATOR:  Can I follow that up?  I'm curious, a lot of adults or people that cover professional sports for a living always talk about the next great this or that and they speculate.  What is the perspective of somebody, yourself, a teenager, who people are talking about?  Do you think people try to rush it too much?  How do you feel about the whole conversation of when you should turn pro?

LYDIA KO:  Yeah, I mean, I guess everybody has their own perspective.  In the end of the day, it's going to be a decision made by my family and my coaching staff.
Some people have said, Don't rush it; you've got plenty of time; you've got academics and stuff as well.
Some people have said, No, you should go turn pro and make the most of it when you can. Like I said, we haven't really talked about it.  We've got real no idea.  I've been up here and seen a little bit of what tour is like.  It seems really fun and I would like to be out here.

 

Topics: Notes and Interviews, Ko, Lydia, Pettersen, Suzann, Recari, Beatriz, Tseng, Yani, Gulbis, Natalie, ANA Inspiration [+]