Wildfire Golf Club
JW Marriott Desert Ridge, Phoenix, Arizona
Friday Second Round Notes and Interviews
March 20, 2014
Lydia Ko, Rolex Rankings No. 4, - 11
Sun Young Yoo, Rolex Rankings No. 59, -10
Inbee Park, Rolex Rankings No. 1, -9
Amy Yang, Rolex Rankings No. 17, -8
Lizette Salas, Rolex Rankings No. 20
Michelle Wie, Rolex Rankings No. 46, -8
The second day of play at the JTBC Founders Cup belonged to a pair of LPGA Tour rookies. KLPGA Tour alum Mirim Lee followed up her opening-round 64 with a 5-under 67 to take the outright second-round lead at 13-under-par. But trailing not far behind Lee is a rookie who is already well-known to LPGA Tour fans.
Sixteen-year-old Lydia Ko, who captured back-to-back wins as an amateur on the LPGA Tour at the CN Canadian Women’s Open, fired a 6-under 66 during Friday’s second round at Wildfire Golf Club to move to 11-under-par and sit two shots back of Lee.
Ko didn’t find her rhythm until late in her round but finished with a flourish, going 6-under over her final seven holes which included an eagle on the 15th.
“I was really surprised,” Ko said of finding herself just two shots off the lead. “I just gave myself more opportunities on the back nine. I played much better this nine yesterday, so I kind of thought, you know, you can make some more birdies and get closer to the leader.”
Lee got off to a pretty slow start herself, as she made the turn at even par. The key stretch of holes for the 23-year-old South Korean was 13-14-15 where she went birdie, par, eagle to move to 12-under-par. Her par save on the 14th seemed to be the most important part of that stretch as she sank a 20-footer to keep her momentum going.
“I played a little boring on the front 9 so I went more aggressive on the back 9,” Lee said through a translator. “It worked well so now I plan on being aggressive the rest of the week.”
Michelle Wie was the story early in the day, as she held the lead for a brief time in the morning after four straight birdies moved her to 10-under-par. Wie, who started on the back-nine, hit a stumbling block when she bogeyed the par-5 fifth and another bogey on the 9th (her finishing hole) dropped her into a tie for eighth at 8-under.
Wie isn’t the only big name in contention heading into the weekend. Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park sits four shots behind Lee in a tie for fourth with Jessica Korda, Chella Choi and So Yeon Ryu.
But with Lee and Ko headlining the pack, it will be two rookies making up the final group of Saturday’s third round and Ko is looking forward to the pairing.
“I’ve never really met her before, so should be good tomorrow to meet her and get to know another rookie,” Ko said.
The Social Scene
Fishing fan Brittany Lincicome (@Brittany1golf) took over the @LPGA Twitter feed today during the @GolfChannel telecast today. Fans used the hashtag #LPGAonGC to ask Brittany questions. Use the hashtag to look up all the great conversations.
Round of the Day
Sun Young Yoo shot the round of the day with a 7-under 65 on Friday and boosted herself into solo third. The 27-year old South Korean had a bogey-free day with five of her seven birdies coming on her last eight holes. The major champion was one-shot off her career low of 64 and said that a little bit of added confidence today was the difference.
“I played late yesterday, so today greens were a little better in shape,” said Yoo. “I don’t know, everything was working fine. Yesterday I hit pretty good and just hit a couple of bad tee shots. That’s it. But today swinging better and swinging with more confidence.”
Yoo has yet to break the top-25 in her first three starts of the 2014 season and is looking to break into the winner’s circle for the first time since her victory at the 2012 Kraft Nabisco Championship when she became a Rolex First-Time Winner.
Rookies at the top
Lydia Ko and Mirim Lee sit atop the leaderboard in the Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year race and find themselves both at the top of the leaderboard after 36 holes at the JTBC Founders Cup. The two players said they’ve never played with one another but looking forward to their pairing on Saturday.
“It’s great,” said Ko. “She’s obviously playing really good golf, and there are a lot of birdies out there. It’s great to see two rookies out there. I’ve never really met her before, so should be good tomorrow to meet her and get to know another rookie.”
Ko, 16, and Lee, 23 both have professional wins but are playing for their first wins as LPGA Tour members. Ko won two LPGA titles as an amateur and Lee is a three-time winner on the KLPGA.
Everybody’s working for the weekend
A total of 74 players made the cut which fell and 2-under par., which is the low cut for the year.
An ace in the hole
Lisa McCloskey had a hole-in-one on the forth hole. It was 156 yards and she used a 5-iron
Park in the hunt
Inbee Park put herself in a good position heading into the weekend after a 3-under 69 on Friday. She sits in a tie for fourth at 9-under par and four shots off the lead. The No. 1 player in the world said she overcame a slow start on the front and left plenty of putts out on the course.
“I think maybe we had a quite slow front nine, Lydia and I and Jessica probably,” said Park. “On the back nine I think things went really well for everyone and especially last five to finish was a great finish.”
Park had a birdie and a double bogey on the par 4 8th hole but saw a few more putts drop on the back nine. She closed with two birdies and an eagle on the par 5 15th to get to 9-under par.
“Today is probably a worse day for me than yesterday because I probably missed a couple, two to three shots, and I mean I left a lot of putts out there today, especially No. 1 through like 13 I didn’t make anything. So yeah, it was very good to actually see the putt drop on the last five holes, so it was a relief.”
A great color
Lizette Salas credits a fresh mindset and “new toys” for her strong play through the first two rounds at the JTBC Founders Cup. The USC graduate shot an 8-under 67 on Friday and will head into tomorrow tied for 8th.
“Those two weeks in Asia were really rough, and so during the off weeks I just went back to the drawing board, just kind of cleared my mind and really reminded myself why I love this game so much.” said Salas.
A big fan of purple, Salas tweaked her putter which now has a purple shaft. The new color has made a big impact on her game thus far.
“I was excited and I was pumped, and I love this golf course. And it’s playing so great and the greens are running so true, so I’m very pleased in how I’m playing right now.”
Quote of the Day
“We were so excited. We were huddled around an iPhone in the car streaming it outside of Panda Express. It was such a big win.”
- North Dakota State University alumni Amy Anderson talking about the excitement when the 12th ranked NDSU Bisons knocked off the 5th seed Oklahoma Sooners yesterday in the NCAA tournament.
A couple WD’s
Both Vicky Hurst and Mi Jung Hur withdrew due to wrist injuries.
Scenarios for No. 1
Suzann Pettersen has an opportunity to become No. 1 in the world this week at JTBC Founders Cup but she must win the event to do so.
If Pettersen wins the JTBC Founders Cup and Inbee Park finishes third or worse (without any ties), Pettersen would take over the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. Pettersen could also take over the top spot if she wins and Park finishes tied for second with at least three other players.
Park enters the third round of play tied for fourth, while Pettersen sits in a tie for 38th.
Q. What did you finish with?
INBEE PARK: 3‑under.
Q. 3‑under. Okay. You guys all played very well in your group. Did that have anything to do with you guys playing off each other?
INBEE PARK: Yeah. I think maybe we had a quite slow front nine, Lydia and I and Jessica probably. On the back nine I think things went really well for everyone and especially last five to finish was a great finish.
Today is probably worst day for me than yesterday because I probably missed a couple, two to three shots, and I mean I left a lot of putts out there today, request especially No. 1 through like 13 I didn't make anything. So yeah, it was very good to actually see the putt drop on the last five holes, so it was a relief.
Q. Do you know Mirim Lee very well? If so, could you tell us a little bit about her game?
INBEE PARK: I know she's still one of the founders of the LPGA, and I really haven't seen her playing, but I know she's a legend of the game, and I know everyone wants to be like her.
THE MODERATOR: You mean Mirim?
Q. Mirim Lee.
INBEE PARK: No. I don't really know much about her. I never really played with her.
Q. Were you just kind of waiting for this day to get going? Like you said, neither you or Lydia did much on the front nine. Settled in and nothing was happening really until 13, 14, 15.
INBEE PARK: We still hit great shots into the Green but nothing just wanted to drop on the front nine and obviously I hit one bad shot and ended up with double bogey. Except for that holy didn't really have much of a mistake, but definitely I need putts to drop on the weekend.
Q. Definitely the two eagles kind of jump started both of you a little bit.
INBEE PARK: Yeah. I think so. All day, everything today is just lipping out and didn't want to go in and finally putting drop was good, and it was a very good hole.
Lydia Ko, Rolex Rankings No. 4
LYDIA KO: Got in that birdie rhythm, bird 11 and 12. And then I made par and then I made eagle. And I think Jess's chip‑in, it kind of inspired me to make an eagle myself. I was like, oh, I need to beat her, that kind of feeling. And Inbee made eagle, too, so 5‑under total for our group on that hole was pretty good.
Q. Was there just not a whole lot falling the first front ten holes or so?
LYDIA KO: I didn't really hit it as close. 11, I had like a 12‑foot putt, and then, you know, it was all within that kind of a range on every hole, a really long one.
So those kind of putts, some of them dropped, birdies, you don't expect to hole everything, but a couple at a time is good.
Q. You gotta like your position. You could have been, I mean up until 11 you were probably six or seven back. Now you're just two back into the weekend.
LYDIA KO: Yeah, I was really surprised. I played really good. I bird 12 and 13. I'm sorry. But like I said, just gave myself more opportunities on the back nine.
I played much better this nine yesterday, so I kind of thought, you know, you can make some more birdies and get closer to the leader.
Q. Did you remember your snacks?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, I did. I was munching away.
Q. What's your snack of choice?
LYDIA KO: I had a protein bar and like a protein jelly, and there's always peanut butter sandwich in there. I actually noticed that it was in my bag yesterday, but I didn't find it, so it was actually more done.
Q. You and Mirim up at the top of the leaderboard, two rookies, do you think it's kind of funny to see two rookies up at the top battling?
LYDIA KO: It's great. She's obviously playing really good golf, and there are a lot of birdies out there. It's great to see two rookies out there.
Q. Have you ever played with her? Have you met ‑‑
LYDIA KO: No, I've never really met her before, so should be good tomorrow to meet her and get to know another rookie.
Q. Nice start to the round. Three straight birdies to open up. What was working really well on those first three holes ‑‑
AMY YANG: I was hitting the ball very solid in the morning, I mean all day today. That helped me a lot. I hit three of them really close, inside six feet. Yeah, so it was a good chance.
Q. Nice. Anything specific you've been working on in the swing that you feel like is kind of coming together right now?
AMY YANG: I'm working on my new swing because I started with new coach and has a little up‑and‑down, but it's getting better.
Q. When did you start with the new coach?
AMY YANG: Middle of last season. It's kind of hard to change it.
Q. Yeah. No doubt. It takes a while to get it down. What's your new coach's name?
AMY YANG: Ryan Mock.
Q. And then just over all, this golf course. Is it a golf course that seems to suit your game pretty well?
AMY YANG: Oh, yeah. I really like it. It's ‑‑ I don't know. I just like it. Like I really like it here.
Q. Does it suit your eye, like some when you see off the tee it's one of those that really seems to ‑‑
AMY YANG: Yes. It's in great shape and the greens are really, really nice, so I can hit the ball really pure. Just I love it.
Q. We're coming down, after next week, after Kia, teams are being chosen for International Crown all of the players. And you're right there on the bubble for that final spot for South Korea. What would it mean to you to be on that team, to be one of those four players?
AMY YANG: Oh, it would be very honored.
And I'm not in there yet, but it would be very honored, and it will be like ‑‑ it will be like huge experience in my golf career.
Q. We are here with Michelle Wie after a fabulous second round, sitting now at 9‑under par for the tournament. What was really working well for you out there?
MICHELLE WIE: Just couldn't get anything going today, but I had a good stretch of four holes. You know, I hit it close those four holes. Just need to make more putts this weekend.
Q. Just overall how is the state of your game right now? What really do you think is working well because you've been playing so well over all the events so far this year?
MICHELLE WIE: My main goal is consistency, and I feel like I'm just going to go out there and make pars, make birdies and hit it in the fairways and on the greens and see what happens.
Q. And what do you think the keys are on this golf course? What do you have to do to really be successful out there?
MICHELLE WIE: I think just leaving it on the right part of the greens. There are some tricky putts out there, but mainly just keep it in the fairway and hit it on cue to the hole.
Q. You were at 10‑under heading into par‑5.
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I hit it into the bunker, and I thought I hit a really good bunker shot, and I flew it 15 yards past the green. So that was a good one.
But it was just one of those holes where I thought I hit a good shot, and everyone just kind of looked back, and it went over everyone's head.
Q. Obviously given you were 10‑under kind of disappointed the way the round ended?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, for sure. All day today I just felt like I could have shot a lot more under par. Just left a lot of putts out there, but I still have two more days out there. It's not Sunday yet, so I'm excited that I have the opportunity, I'm in contention right now. So it's fun.
Lizette Salas, Rolex Rankings No. 20
Q. Nice way to make a move up the leaderboard. What kind of was really working well for you today?
LIZETTE SALAS: I mean everything has been working for me this week. You know, those two weeks in Asia were really rough, and so during the off weeks I just went back to the drawing board, just kind of cleared my mind and really reminded myself why I love this game so much, and just came out here, just try to smile as much as I can, and even though I would hit a bad shot, I would just laugh it off and not get in that panic mode that I did in Asia.
So kind of tweaked the putter a little bit, got a new driver, got new toys, and so I was ready to come. I was excited and I was pumped, and I love this golf course. And it's playing so great and the greens are running so true, so I'm very pleased in how I'm playing right now.
Q. What did you tweak to the putter?
LIZETTE SALAS: I put in a purple shaft. That's what I did.
Q. Hey. Purple, we know purple is a good color for you.
LIZETTE SALAS: Yes. I put that. And a little different feel, you know, with the counter balance putters, you get more of the grip weight, so this time I got a little more head weight on it, and it's rolling great right now, and just hope I don't jinx it, but everything is going really well, and my caddie and I have been communicating a lot more, a lot better, and it's been working great.
Q. And you said new driver too?
LIZETTE SALAS: New driver.
Q. What change did you go to?
LIZETTE SALAS: Well, I tried the jet ‑‑ I got the JetSpeed, and I really wanted to hit it, and you know, the rep is like, well, let's put in your old shaft. And so I put it in, and I said, wow, that's in the bag.
Q. You're keeping that one.
LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah. So everything agency coming together, and you know, we're just getting ready for these next three weeks, and the next two weeks I'll be in my backyard, so this will be a good confidence booster for me.
Q. Good timing. I know we're getting down to the final two weeks where people can qualify for the international crown.
LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah.
Q. Is that something, you're kind of right there on that bubble edge. I know only four players.
LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah.
Q. Have you been thinking about that or is that something that would mean a lot to you to be on?
LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah. It would mean a lot to me. But right now that's in the back of my mind. I'm just focusing on hitting fairways and hitting greens and really giving myself good opportunities for birdies.
You know, if it happens, it happens, if not, there's Solheim Cup, too. But for me to be on that team would mean a lot.
Q. Different than yesterday. Just tell me what was working better today than first round.
SUN YOUNG YOO: I played late yesterday, so today greens were a little better in shape. I don't know, everything was working fine.
Yesterday I hit pretty good and just hit a couple of bad tee shots. That's it. But today swinging better and swinging with more confidence, I guess.
Q. More confident today?
SUN YOUNG YOO: Yeah.
Q. Do you like to get off in the morning usually? Are you more of a morning person?
SUN YOUNG YOO: No, not really. It depends, but I feel pretty good this morning. I feel fresh.
Q. Okay. So was it more of like you're tired about anything or was it ‑‑
SUN YOUNG YOO: No. Everything was fine.
Q. Okay. All right. No bogeys. What was the key to no mistakes today?
SUN YOUNG YOO: I think I be more patient today. Like I don't know, maybe tee shot was a little better today, so I didn't have any trouble ‑‑ maybe once on No. 8, but I made par, so it was a really big deal. Yeah, overall everything was working very well.
Q. Everything was very straightforward?
SUN YOUNG YOO: Yes.
Q. Any particular hole that stuck out or anything that ‑‑
SUN YOUNG YOO: No, not really. Not today.
Q. Just very easy, very straightforward.
SUN YOUNG YOO: Yeah.
Q. So you're coming off a couple decent finishes this year. Anything that's been holding you back? Anything that you've been working oncoming into this week in particular?
SUN YOUNG YOO: Not really. Yeah, everything was same. Yeah, just I tried to swing with better rhythm.
Q. Anything you were working on specifically on the break?
SUN YOUNG YOO: No. Not really. Just trying to get better rhythm than last year. Last year it was not the year I wanted it to be.
Q. How do you feel on this course? Do you like coming back to Phoenix?
SUN YOUNG YOO: Oh, yeah.
Q. And playing here?
SUN YOUNG YOO: Definitely this course suits my eyes well. I like the straight and wide. I feel like I can swing really hard as I want to. Yeah, I feel good.
Q. So you think you're more comfortable when you get to be able to go up on the wide and letting go?
SUN YOUNG YOO: Yeah. I think most people do.