Kraft Nabisco Championship
Mission Hills Country Club
Dinah Shore Tournament Course, Rancho Mirage, California
Tuesday Notes and Interviews
April 1, 2014
Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 3
Lydia Ko, Rolex Rankings No. 4
Karrie Webb, Rolex Rankings No. 5
Paula Creamer, Rolex Rankings No. 8
Michelle Wie, Rolex Rankings No. 38
International Crown Ambassador and Team Announcment
The first major of the 2014 LPGA Tour season kicks off this week with the 31st annual Kraft Nabisco Championship at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park returns for the first of her three major title defenses this season as she will try to become the first player to record back-to-back jumps into Poppie’s Pond since Annika Sorenstam did it in 2001 and 2002.
Park has gotten off to a hot start in 2014 with four-straight top-10 finishes, including a tie for sixth last week at the Kia Classic. During her streak of top-10s on the LPGA, Park also tallied a victory on the Ladies European Tour at the World Ladies Championship in China. This marks one of the best starts of the South Korean’s career as she currently ranks sixth in Rolex Player of the Year points and ninth in the Race to the CME Globe and leads the Tour in scoring average (69.25), rounds under par (14) and rounds in the 60s (8).
Another past champion who has been having an impressive season is Karrie Webb. The 2000 and 2006 winner will enter the season’s first major riding high after victories at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open and JTBC Founders Cup. Webb has played in the Kraft Nabisco 19 times and has finished in the top-20 all but three times including 11 top-10s.
Rolex Rankings No. 3 Stacy Lewis heads back to Mission Hills seeking her third career major title. Lewis became a Rolex First-Time Winner at the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship and then added her second major title at last year’s RICOH Women’s British Open. Lewis, who is sitting in fourth in the Race to the CME Globe, has recorded top-10 finishes in 16 of her past 17 events on Tour.
Other past champions in the field this week include Juli Inkster (1984 & 1989), Pat Hurst (1998), Morgan Pressel (2007), Brittany Lincicome (2009), Yani Tseng (2010) and Sun Young Yoo (2012).
TRADITION AT MISSION HILLS
Several players at today’s press conferences spoke about the tradition of playing at Mission Hills Country Club and the Kraft Nabisco Championship in general.
“I mean, this is the 42nd or something year. I hope we’re here another 42 years. There’s not much more to say than just tradition,” said Paula Creamer. “There’s so much that goes on with this tournament, through the players. Every woman known to man has walked down that cart path in front of that water. It’s nostalgia. Hopefully we’ll be sitting here saying that in 35 more years, for sure.”
Michelle Wie also talked about how much she enjoys the tradition of playing at Mission Hills.
“ I am very comfortable on this golf course.” Wie said. “I really enjoy it. I have a lot of fun here.”
Asked what would mark a good year for her, rookie sensation Lydia Ko had a very definitive answer, with no hesitation.
“If I jump in that water.” Ko said playfully. “I’m just really excited for this week. I know it’s a really great golf course. I know I’m going to have to play some really good golf out here.”
INTERNATIONAL CROWN SHOWCASED
With the International Crown field locked in following the Kia Classic, eight of the competitors, one from each country, took part in a press conference to highlight the event.
The corporate sponsors were thanked, the trophy was unveiled and the players were able to speak to what it means to them to be representing their countries in the inaugural International Crown.
“Having the chance to play in this kind of team event where I get to represent Sweden is a big deal,” said Pernialla Lindberg. “ With other events coming up like the Olympics, this just feels even more special to get a taste of representing my country already now. “
Aussie Karrie Webb echoed Lindberg’s statement.
“I’m very, very excited to be able to represent Australia,” Webb said. “Obviously, Australia hasn’t had the opportunity to have many team competitions at the professional level. I’m really excited about it.”
The competitors even got a chance to engage in some friendly banter.
“It’s going to be a great experience to finally represent your country professionally because growing up in Europe, like Pernilla said, we always had every year national competitions,” Spain’s Beatriz Recari said. “It’s going to be great to have that feeling again because all four of us, we’re almost the same age, so we always competed together on the national team and we always beat Sweden.”
AMATEURS GET UNIQUE LOOK AT SPOT OF “THE SHOT”
One of the most memorable shots in Kraft Nabisco Championship history was Karrie Webb’s hole-out on 18 in the 2006 event.
While playing a practice round with Webb, Minjee Lee and Su-Hyon Oh, a pair of amateurs competing in their first major, were shown the spot by Webb herself.
“It was cute yesterday because I played the back nine with Minjee Lee and Su Oh, and they were both my scholarship winners. It was their first major they played in and they asked me where I played the shot from,” Webb said. “Mikey looked in his yardage book, he said, Right where your mum is standing, to Minjee. I was standing pretty much on the spot. “
MICHELLE WIE THE SELF DESCRIBED “GOLF NERD”
Michelle Wie admitted at her afternoon press conference that she is becoming “a little bit of a golf nerd.” When asked to describe what she meant by that Wie went on to say “Just getting excited when you’re out on the golf course. You look at the yardage book, see little things. I remember Beth Daniel showed me her yardage book from Kraft Nabisco. I got excited from the grain directions.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“This event, I mean, you can’t even understate it. For me, when I think of a major, I think of this event. I think of the tradition, the history. We have one of the best celebrations on tour. The walk across the bridge, the walk when you have the lead coming up Sunday, it’s the best.”
–Stacy Lewis talking about what the Kraft Nabisco Championship means to her
THE SOCIAL SCENE
On Instagram this afternoon, several players shared their views from the practice round including Morgan Pressel who gave fans a look at what the players see as they walk down the 18th green.
“Coolest walk in ladies golf!! Come tournament days these grandstands will be going crazy! #knc”
Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 3
THE MODERATOR: Thank you again for being here. I'm joined by the number three ranked player in the world, top American, Stacy Lewis. You just said this is an easy week for you. I need to hit the rewind button and say, What?
STACY LEWIS: This is easy. Not as many commitments. I'm not running around like a crazy person. This is a pretty easy week.
THE MODERATOR: When you say that, what is a normal week? What are the challenges that you face in a non‑major?
STACY LEWIS: A normal week is Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, I start the day at about 6 or 7 in the morning and finish at 7 or 8 at night.
This week I have more down time, more time to practice, time to be to myself, be able to relax a little bit. I try to do that on purpose at majors so I have more time to prepare.
I feel really good about the way we did things this week and feel really relaxed.
THE MODERATOR: You've had a remarkable run over the last couple years. Of the things that you remember most, what stands out? What are you most proud of among your accomplishments?
STACY LEWIS: Probably the consistency. I pride myself on that. I pride myself on not playing my best golf but still finishing inside the top 10, giving myself chances to win. Like last week, I didn't feel like I played my best golf, but I still had a chance going into Sunday. That's what I'm really proud of.
I definitely would have liked some more wins, especially in the last six months or so, but I feel like I'm moving in the right direction.
THE MODERATOR: 16 of your last 17 events, top 10s. That's pretty consistent.
STACY LEWIS: That's not bad. Karrie had to let me know I didn't get a record, so she was pretty happy about that (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q. When during the year do you start thinking about Mission Hills and the golf course? What do you do to start getting ready?
STACY LEWIS: Probably in December, as soon as the year is over. I work all off‑season to get ready for the majors and to be peaking at the right time, to get ready for this week.
Really over the last couple months, all my work has gone into this week, having everything sharp. My coach has been out three weeks in a row, but I've wanted that because I wanted to make sure when I get to this week I'm just ready to play, and we're getting to that point.
Q. Specific parts of your game you start working on?
STACY LEWIS: A major obviously tests a little bit of everything. Early in the season I wasn't hitting the ball the way I wanted to. I didn't have the height on my shots I normally have. That's something you need on this golf course. We kind of worked on the swing, getting some height back in my shots again.
The putting really has been my Achilles' heel so far this year. It's been really streaky. I'll have some rounds where I'll make some putts, but I'll have rounds where I've had a lot of putts.
That's what we've been working on the last few days. I feel like I'm really getting a lot more comfortable with it.
Q. I've heard a couple people say maybe the rough doesn't look quite as choking this year as it has in the past. Is that your take on it as well?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I was actually a little bit disappointed when I played the golf course yesterday for the first time not having the rough. That's what makes this golf course, is the rough. It makes those fairways seem a little bit tighter. You have to play a little bit smarter on the doglegs.
But there's no rough. The greens are still firm. If you're in the rough, you're going to have trouble stopping the ball, but it's definitely not a penalty like it has been the last couple years.
THE MODERATOR: Karrie Webb was talking about the way the tour is going right now. She specifically brought up the Americans and their play, feeling like that is a big positive for the tour. From your perspective, how important is it for the Americans collectively? How much do you all talk about it?
STACY LEWIS: Contrary to belief, we don't talk about it a lot. But I think the Americans playing well, it's huge for this tour. We're an American‑based tour. I mean, it's no lie that the ratings go up, more media coverage. Things happen when the American players are playing well.
It's great to see Lexi going into her own. I played with her on Sunday last week. She's having fun out there again. She's playing some really good golf.
Paula finally getting a win again. Cristie is settling into life with her baby. It's a great time for American golf.
I've been saying it and we're finally having the proof.
THE MODERATOR: Is getting back to number one something that drives you right now or something that could be a distraction if you think about it too much?
STACY LEWIS: It's really not a distraction because, number one, while I really want to get back, as you kind of saw last year, a lot of it's out of my control. I played some really good golf last year. I won a major. Inbee goes out and wins three. There's not a whole lot I can do there except win a few more.
I'm going to try to control what I can control, and that's winning golf tournaments, and let the rest take care of itself.
Q. When you look back on this tournament when you won, what did that do for your confidence? How did that change everything for you mentally?
STACY LEWIS: One, it's hard to believe how long it's been since we were there. It really opened my eyes that I could be one of the best players in the world.
At the time I was still kind of struggling for that first win. It just opened the door for more wins, more confidence that I could do it really.
I don't know. That final round, I was so motivated just because everybody was giving it to Yani that Saturday night. Everybody said she was going to run away with it. I was so motivated that day, there was no way I was going to lose.
Q. A year ago at this time, nobody would have had any idea Inbee would win three major championships. Talk about how your viewpoint and the players' viewpoint of her has evolved.
STACY LEWIS: I think it's gotten to the point where you're never surprised when you see her name up there. It was like last week, you didn't see her name all week, all of a sudden she finishes up there in the top 10. It's just every week she's there.
She's making putts. It's not like when Yani was number one. She was reaching par 5s in two, driving it far, being showy with it a little bit. There's nothing flashy about Inbee's game, but she gets it done. It doesn't matter what it looks like, it just matters what that score looks like on the scorecard.
THE MODERATOR: A little deeper on a perspective from you about being No. 1, the toll it takes mentally, the learning curve you went through at the end of last year and the start to this year. Seems like you have a much fresher outlook on everything. Maybe it's not translating into numbers of victories, but you seem quite different.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I don't know what it is. I think I was so focused on getting back to number one last year that I kind of lost sight of enjoying it and having fun. Really I'm at a position where I can make an impact, make this tour better, make a lot of other people better around me.
I think I've tried to embrace that a little bit more and have more fun with it. Phoenix was probably the most fun I've had on the golf course in a long time. Hanging out with the kids that were out there, all the founders walking around. I don't know. I'm trying to enjoy it a little bit more and have more fun, realize I'm in a position where I can make an impact, and make it a good one.
THE MODERATOR: Your Twitter conversations with the fans, are you having fun with that?
STACY LEWIS: I'm trying. I got back on Twitter. I'm trying to ease my way back into it. It's not the easiest thing in the world for me, but I'm trying.
Q. It's not like 39 is old, but ever since you've been out here Karrie Webb has been one of the elite players. Do players appreciate and marvel at longevity? Is longevity something that impresses other players?
STACY LEWIS: You have longevity, but playing good golf for a long time, which is what Karrie has done. A lot of us as players, I don't see her as old. Everybody is writing her as being so old. She's younger than Phil, a lot of those guys on tour. She has a few good more years in her.
The way she's playing right now, the sky's the limit. But playing that well, how hard she works, she's been doing this a long time. She works just as hard as some of the girls that are 18 years old in their first year on tour, she's probably working harder than them.
It's great to have her around, to have her perspective, to be around her, to talk to her. She's great for this tour. She's always coming up with ideas and ways to make women's golf better. That's what we need around.
Q. Your thoughts on Lydia Ko, how she's started her pro career, what sort of threat will she be this week?
STACY LEWIS: I think Lydia is a threat any week. She's so solid. She doesn't realize how good she is. That's the one thing that I'd like to see in her, a little bit more confidence and belief that she can win, belief that she is one of the best players out here because she is. She's a threat any week. She's such a good putter. Very consistent with her irons. She seems to be getting a little bit more comfortable the week in, week out kind of grind on tour.
I think she's going to get more comfortable as the year goes on. But any week Lydia's a threat.
Q. How important is this event? How important is it to stay here?
STACY LEWIS: This event, I mean, you can't even understate it. For me, when I think of a major, I think of this event. I think of the tradition, the history.
Last night at our champions dinner, just hearing all the ladies talk about Dinah Shore, all the traditions that have been built here, we can't leave here. This is what our tour is about. We have one of the best celebrations on tour. The walk across the bridge, the walk when you have the lead coming up Sunday, it's the best.
I think a lot of the older players like Juli, they know this tournament as the Dinah, where players my age, we know this as the Kraft. For me it's going to be hard to not call it the Kraft anymore because that's what Kraft Nabisco has built here. It's Kraft, that's what it is. Everybody knows what course it's at, where it is. We need to hopefully get another sponsor, somebody onboard, that wants to create a tradition like that again going forward so these 16‑ 17‑year‑olds that are coming out in a couple years, what are they going to call this. We need to stay here.
THE MODERATOR: I think some of the 17‑year‑olds are already here. Stacy, best of luck this week. Have a great time.
STACY LEWIS: Thanks.
Lydia Ko, Rolex Rankings No. 4
THE MODERATOR: It's a great pleasure to welcome into the media center Lydia Ko, the number four ranked player in the world in women's golf. Lydia, congratulations on that. Thanks for being here. When you see that in front of your name, number four in the world, that's really remarkable. What do you think about that?
LYDIA KO: It's pretty ridiculous. I don't really consider myself world number four. I've obviously played well to get there. But, yeah, no, I've just taken it week by week. I guess I've just come to that point.
There's still a lot of things I got to learn, but I'm enjoying being out here.
THE MODERATOR: Name one thing that you still have to learn that you feel like is really going to help you.
LYDIA KO: I think the mental aspect of the game. I try and enjoy it the most I can. But it's really hard I guess week by week. Taking everything in, sometimes you got to make those bogeys or you're going to have those bad rounds, but just kind of getting over it, ready to start the next one.
THE MODERATOR: You have top 10s in three of your first six events as a professional. Impressive. What is the thing you're striving for the most? Is it consistency? Trophies? Where are you with that?
LYDIA KO: I think it's consistency, playing good every week. I guess that's like a dream. But playing consistently well. Sometimes, like I said, there are going to be those bad days, but there's going to be those good days to mend it all up.
It would be nice to have those kind of trophies, but for now it's more consistent playing.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Lydia.
Q. You played here last year. What did you learn about this golf course last year that you think will help you this year?
LYDIA KO: You know, a lot of the courses like this year, I wouldn't have played before. To me it's an advantage just knowing that I played here before. The course is really great. I think the hardest aspect will be the wind, definitely, when it gets up.
I'm going to enjoy it out here. I know how fast the greens can get and how thick the rough can get.
Q. With a few months under your belt now, what has been the biggest transition and the biggest surprise going from amateur to professional? Is it a different mindset entering a major championship as a professional as opposed to an amateur?
LYDIA KO: You know, comparing professional and amateur stuff, I thought it would be a huge difference. At the end of the day I notice I'm just doing the same thing, hitting that white ball, getting it into the hole in the least shots as possible. Yeah, no, I think I overcomplicated stuff that it is going to be different. I don't think it is a lot.
Yeah, no, without thinking about it, I was thinking, It's a major, I need to play well. I think that was my downfall last year. I kind of took it more relaxing at Evian. I played much better. I'm going to try to think that this week.
Q. Was the plan always to break away from Guy when you turned pro? What was the process by which you decided to change coaches?
LYDIA KO: I didn't really know what was going to happen. My petition will be accepted, there were a lot of things that happened between then.
Yeah, we knew, like, if I was going to play here full‑time, it was going to be hard to see him, especially him being based in New Zealand. That's why we were looking for some options. Those options needed to match up with the path I was going to go on.
Yeah, it's working well with me with Sean and David right now. I'm enjoying a little bit.
THE MODERATOR: A business question. You have the logos on the shirt, the hat. Turning professional brings a whole lot of different things than just playing golf. How much day‑to‑day are you involved in the business of Lydia Ko the golfer or do you just focus on teeing off and hitting fairways?
LYDIA KO: I try and concentrate on my game. If they send me clothes with logos, I'll wear them. I'm wearing what I need to be wearing. Those business aspects, that's what my parents does and IMG does. It's kind of really good that I don't need that to think about. It's hard enough just being able to get that ball in the hole.
Q. David Leadbetter told me yesterday you look like you're walking on air. I know you worked with a sports psychologist for a long time. How did you get your mindset to get so even‑keeled?
LYDIA KO: People say I look like I'm walking on air, that I'm having fun all the time, I'm smiling. Things are really different inside in the head. Sometimes it is hard to play, especially with the expectations and stuff. I kind of put self‑pressure in there, which is not ideal.
I try and calm myself down, especially making lots of birdies in a row, that's great. You can also get overexcited and I guess that's where the adrenaline comes in. It could be a good thing and a bad thing at the same time.
Q. Wondering how you're planning to bounce back from the 78 the other day? Any technical aspects of your game you've been working on since the Kia Classic?
LYDIA KO: It was a really tough final round there. But, you know, seeing my score, I didn't feel like I played that bad compared to my 78. I came off the course, I was a little upset with that. But I didn't feel like I shot that much, things weren't really going that well.
I didn't give up until the end. I made a bogey on the last hole, too. That was not a great day overall. It was a whole new experience where nothing is going your way, nothing is going in, nothing was going where you want to hit it.
But I hit the ball really well. I was really confident with that. That was one of the reasons why I didn't feel like I had that kind of a bad round.
THE MODERATOR: How about the fun? Who has been the most enjoyable for you to spend time with as a professional out on the tour? What players have really come up and helped you out?
LYDIA KO: I think pretty much nearly every time or every day you play with a different set of people. It's been good really kind of getting to know all the international players, all the American players. I've been learning about other players, as well, their games.
I hang around a lot with Danielle Kang. Whenever I'm with her, I'm smiling, laughing. Like a big sister on tour for me.
THE MODERATOR: We introduced the International Crown a year ago, today we introduced eight players. What would it mean for you to compete in that competition at some point?
LYDIA KO: It would be great. I would obviously be still representing New Zealand. Hopefully there is an opportunity where New Zealand is part of the International Crown. Even just for now to look at it, it's really exciting. There are a lot of great players in those 32. They're all great players.
Yeah, I'm going to be excited just to watch how that week goes on.
THE MODERATOR: Do you feel like you have a responsibility to carry that torch, to try to bring New Zealand into the forefront of women's golf?
LYDIA KO: I heard that I inspire a lot of little kids, which is really cool to hear. It kind of makes me feel like I want to play better and become a better person.
Yeah, if I'm doing that, I'm sure there will be a lot of youngsters going out there to enjoy and play some good golf.
Q. What sort of result would you term a success in this tournament?
LYDIA KO: I don't know. I don't really have like a specific number or placing. Especially coming off the final round last week, I just want to have a really good start. I've been struggling with that good start the last couple weeks.
Starting off well I think will really help the whole week like it happened in Phoenix.
THE MODERATOR: I want you to fill in the blank to answer this. You're ranked first in the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year standings. This will be a great year for Lydia Ko on the LPGA if what?
LYDIA KO: If I get to jump in that water (laughter).
No, you know, I've only had one top 10 in a major, which was at Evian. It would be great to have a top 10. It would definitely boost my confidence.
I'm just really excited for this week. I know it's a really great golf course. I know I'm going to have to play some really good golf out here.
Karrie Webb, Rolex Rankings No. 5
THE MODERATOR: It is a distinct pleasure to have a two‑time winner this year, one of the best ever to play the game, Karrie Webb. Overall thoughts about playing in this major? Here we go, huh?
KARRIE WEBB: It's great to be here. I'm always excited. I'm always excited in the lead‑up to this event and then obviously getting here. I've always played well here, obviously won a couple of times.
I love this event. I love the history and the tradition. I love that I'm a champion of this event, being a part of that history.
THE MODERATOR: Seven‑time major champion. Obviously in this game you go through ebbs and flows, great play, then sometimes maybe your confidence isn't the best. Obviously it's pretty good right now. Do you feel like you've got many more majors in you?
KARRIE WEBB: I hope so. I feel like my game is as good as it's ever been as far as having the ability to win majors. Obviously starting the year off as well as I have, it gives me that little bit of confidence going into this week that if I get things going, hopefully down the stretch on Sunday I'll have a shot to win it again.
THE MODERATOR: Your wins are impressive, but coming back to win after disappointments is more impressive.
KARRIE WEBB: I didn't get off to a good start. I disqualified myself at the Australian Masters which I love, had lots of family there, so very disappointing. Really made me feel a bit under‑done going into the Australian Open. That was just a lovely surprise, I guess. To start the year having a long off‑season, you don't know what shape your game is in until you start adding them up.
To have a chance on Sunday and to play as well as I did on Sunday at the Australian Open was very special to win at home. It kick‑started a great year.
Obviously Singapore, I had a three‑shot lead with seven to go, didn't get the job done there, which hasn't happened too many times in my career. That one stung quite a bit.
Then to come back and win in Phoenix helps get over that, which was nice.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. You mentioned you've always played well here. Is that a matter of the golf course, a matter of coming in here maybe more focused than at other times? Why is it that you've won it twice and contended numerous times?
KARRIE WEBB: I like the golf course. I think it sets up well for me. I don't hit it overly long anymore compared to what some of the young girls are doing now, but I feel like I shape the ball well off the tee and generally keep the ball in the fairway, just go from there. Hit some good iron shots out there.
I think this is the 19th time I've played this tournament, so I've had plenty of putts from all different angles on the course. I feel very comfortable on the greens, as well.
THE MODERATOR: Eleven top 10s in those appearances.
Q. Both times you won here you had teenagers on your heels. Seems like the teenagers come and go, but you outlast them. How do you explain that?
KARRIE WEBB: I don't really have any answers to that. Some of these teenagers are still out here. They're not teenagers anymore thankfully.
That's the beauty of golf, I guess, is that you can play at the highest level for a very long time, if you have the desire to do that. That's why I try. Any of the young girls coming out of Australia, I try to tell them there's no need to rush because you can be playing the best golf of your career in your 30s and 40s. That's been proven out here before.
I'm glad that I'm still prepared to put in the hard work and I'm glad that work is paying off.
Q. When you said you feel your game is as good as it's ever been as far as being able to win majors, can you tell us the fine points of that?
KARRIE WEBB: I think I just understand myself a lot more. I understand each and every day what part of my game is there and what's not. If it's all there, I'm pretty happy about that.
But I just manage myself pretty well. Early in my career I was very good mentally, but I didn't know how exactly I was approaching that. I think I've learnt that side of the game a lot in the last 10 years. I feel like I'm as in good a place mentally on the golf course as I ever have been probably because I understand what it takes out there, what it takes for me to play well.
Q. You've spoken in the past about you had so much success right away you exceeded your expectations. This is an Inbee Park question, because she faces that challenge, too. What is the challenge in following up on that?
KARRIE WEBB: I think for Inbee, I mean, she's still got plenty to achieve. She's still got a long career ahead of her.
It's probably hard to set goals for this year saying, What is achieving my goals, when last year I became number one in the world and won three majors. You don't keep raising your expectations higher than that because that's just a career year. To think you're going to top that is setting your sights pretty high.
She's just got to sit down and look at, you know, what she wants to achieve as a player, what else motivates her. I'd be shocked to hear if she's not motivated at all by anything else out there.
Just continuing to be in contention and win golf tournaments every week for me is motivation enough. You just have to set different goals that are setting the bar high, but it's a bar that you can jump over.
Q. The motivations that drive you now, that make you work and grind, how have they evolved or changed from 15 or 20 years ago when you first got here?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, I think they've definitely changed. 15 years ago I can honestly tell you I woke up every morning before I went to practice or play a golf tournament and it was, What do I need to do to be the best in the world? That was something that I constantly pushed myself to achieve.
Probably didn't enjoy the challenge I set myself as much as I should have. But now I think I still challenge myself, I still push myself, but I cut myself some slack so I can enjoy life a little bit and enjoy the spoils of good golf. I realize that it doesn't happen all the time. It was happening all the time for me 10, 15 years ago. I think I really did take it for granted.
Now my off time away from the course, I think I allow myself to pat myself on the back if I played well and enjoy that.
THE MODERATOR: Did you cut yourself some slack after Singapore or did you beat yourself up?
KARRIE WEBB: It was hard not to think about it. You have a 30‑hour flight back to the United States. It was pretty hard not to think about it all the way back.
Fortunately I'd won a couple weeks before. If I hadn't have won a couple weeks before, I think that would have lingered on a lot longer.
I think it was more really trying to, without dwelling on it for too long, work out what I did wrong so that next time it won't happen.
Q. You've talked about how much you love this event, the traditions. With this being Kraft's last year, what would you like to see happen to this event and do you think it needs to stay here?
KARRIE WEBB: It definitely needs to stay here. There's too much history and too much tradition here. If the LPGA lacks anything, in any other events, it's that. I definitely think we need to stay here at Mission Hills.
My opinion, I have voiced it a few times in the last year or so, is that I think Dinah Shore's name should come back onto the event just to keep that identity. Whoever comes onboard as a sponsor, you know, it shouldn't just be the sponsor's name because I don't think the tournament will have ‑‑ Kraft and Nabisco have been a part of this event for so many years, even when we took Dinah's name off the event, people knew what event it was because they'd been a part of it for so long.
A new sponsor coming in, I just feel like to keep the identity of this event, when people tune in to watch, they're going to know, That's the Dinah Shore, the LPGA's first major of the year. That's what I'd really like to see for 2015 and beyond.
Q. Is there a place you stay every year? 19 years, you must have some traditions yourself.
KARRIE WEBB: We're actually going to LG's Steakhouse tonight. I always take whoever I have in town, so Mikey, my caddie, comes. Adam, my physio. My whole team, I take them out, we have a nice steak dinner and a nice bottle of wine. That's happening tonight.
Q. (No microphone.)
KARRIE WEBB: I wouldn't be out here. If I didn't learn to let go a little bit and not have my life totally revolve around golf, I think, yeah, you wouldn't have seen me for probably five years.
I think that's kept me out here. Even though I am still hard on myself, it's not to the extent that it was 10, 15 years ago.
Q. I believe the same year you were inducted into the Hall of Fame, your ranking fell pretty low, like to 27. At that point did you wonder if you were closer to the end than not? What kept you going? What other goal is out there for you?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, I think one of the changes World Golf Hall of Fame recently made is that you have to be over 40 to get in. I was just short of my 31st birthday. I didn't think it was near the end obviously because I still hadn't even turned 31.
But obviously reaching such a pinnacle in my career so early on, it was hard to set goals. I guess I meandered there for a little while.
But winning here early in 2006, in the fashion that I won, I think really turned everything around for me.
Q. Given your history here, as well as you've played to start the year, if somebody tells you you're the favorite this week, do you pay much attention to that?
KARRIE WEBB: No, I don't pay much attention to that. There's just so many great players playing well, they've won, they're on the cusp of playing really well, I don't really take much notice of that.
It doesn't matter who the favorite is, you still got to get the ball in the hole, and hopefully you're doing it the best on Sunday afternoon.
Q. How often when you play 18 do you think about the shot? Is it every time?
THE MODERATOR: The shot.
KARRIE WEBB: Well, it was cute yesterday because I played the back nine with Minjee Lee and Su Oh, both my scholarship winners last year. It was fun because it's obviously their first major they played in. They asked me when we were on 18 where I made the shot from. Mikey looked in his yardage book, he said, Right where your mum is standing, to Minjee. I was standing pretty much on the spot.
THE MODERATOR: I think you have a perspective that not every other player has because you sit on the LPGA board. I think the beauty in watching you sit on the board is you don't always agree with every single thing, you have an opinion. What is your take on the state of where the tour is and what you've seen over the last five years or so?
KARRIE WEBB: Well, when I first came on the board we had 24 events. So that was probably the worst point at that point to come onto the board because things weren't great.
In that three and a half years, it's just been remarkable to be on the other side, and behind closed doors to see what Mike and Jon and the team have done to get us back to 32 events, plus the International Crown this year, 33 events.
I think the tour is very, very healthy. I think we just had the International Crown press conference. I think it's great that the United States' team is the number one ranked team. We've needed to have that strength from the U.S. players for many years just for the growth of the LPGA again in the United States.
Obviously the Asian players continue to play well, and growth of golf in Asia is booming. Obviously we're doing very well there.
I think we're just looking up and up from here. I don't think as a schedule we need to have too many more events. I just think the strength of those tournaments needs to grow and improve, and I'm pretty sure that's going to happen.
Paula Creamer, Rolex Rankings No. 8
THE MODERATOR: It's fantastic to have Paula Creamer, winner this year, here in the press room. There's a bunch of different ways we could go to kick this off. We could go ring, we could go putt, we could go victory, or that you have not missed a cut in a major in your entire career. What does that say about you? That is really impressive.
PAULA CREAMER: Why did you say that? I don't think you needed to add that part to it.
I don't know, I guess I've been pretty lucky in that sense.
THE MODERATOR: I know Solheim Cups and competition for teams get you fired up. What is it about a major specifically? You're competitive. What else?
PAULA CREAMER: The best golf courses are the ones we play. Great crowds, biggest venues. Most of the time you play really difficult courses. Those are the kind of golf courses that I grew up on and that I really love.
I love being able to hit every kind of shot in your golf bag and using all 14 clubs. Most of the majors, they have that. They have that ability to go to the golf course, every day is kind of different, weather, tee boxes, pin placement. It can be more aggressive. I like that kind of golf.
THE MODERATOR: If somebody said 22‑under is going to win this week or plus‑2 might win this week, you relish the plus‑2 and the challenge?
PAULA CREAMER: I love that. I think half the battle of golf is also grinding it out and making those pars, eliminating those big mistakes that you can make. When they hang a carrot in your face, when they move a tee box up, make it a drivable par 4, you have to think a lot, I love that. That's a whole other part of golf that you have to be good at as well as hitting the shot and making the putt.
THE MODERATOR: How about 75‑foot putts? Do you relish that, as well?
PAULA CREAMER: I would take it, definitely take it.
THE MODERATOR: Brian Williams, NBC News, you were everywhere.
PAULA CREAMER: I don't think at the time, and I still don't realize, how big that putt really was. For me emotionally it was just huge, being able to get the monkey off my back, to have that win. But to do it in that type of way, in that fashion, 75 foot, you could just see my emotions for it. I was so excited, overwhelmed, shocked, everything.
To be able to watch it on TV and to see all these things, that's something I joke around with, but saying I get to show my kids that one day. When they say I'm not cool, I can say, I did this, though (laughter).
THE MODERATOR: Let's take some questions.
Q. This would seem to be a golf course and a tournament you would thrive in. It's the one major you haven't had a top 10 in. Is it too much pushing on yourself or something about the course that doesn't fit your game?
PAULA CREAMER: You know, this golf course actually, if you look at it, it really does fit my game really well. You have to be able to put the ball in the right spots of the greens, give yourself good looks at putts, hit it to the right side of the fairway. Especially when the rough is up.
I don't know. I believe it will be my 10th time playing here. I missed one as a professional, but I played one as an amateur. I feel like maybe I put too much pressure on myself with it being the first major of the year, making my expectations a little bit high, putting the bar a little bit too high.
Last year was I think my best finish. Unfortunately my grandmother passed away that Sunday, Easter Sunday. My mind was on different things. I was not really here in a sense. I just went out and played some golf. I kind of learned from that that maybe I'm taking these practice rounds and things a little bit too seriously when I come out here instead of just playing golf.
Q. You mentioned fairways as opposed to rough. The rough, not quite as high this year. Is that a good thing for you? Would you rather see it at five inches?
PAULA CREAMER: I would definitely rather see it five inches. This golf course has its ups and downs. We've come here in the past with the rough heights. It's a shame it's not five inches. Definitely you can hit a 5‑iron out of the rough if you do hit it in there. The greens I'm sure will get faster as the weekend comes around. They're so green. I've never seen this golf course so green and lush, the actual grass.
I do wish the rough was up a little bit. But it is what it is. You're just going to have to play with what the golf course gives you now.
THE MODERATOR: Winning changes the perspective on the tough times you go through. Now that you have that monkey off your back, have you thought about what was the reason it wasn't falling into place for you? Was it irons, putting, Lady Luck in a way?
PAULA CREAMER: Obviously after I won, it was very close to when I had surgery. All my doctors, physio, everybody, said, It will take you a good year to overcome and get your left arm back. I didn't believe them. Being a stubborn athlete, I thought, Okay, I'll be fine.
It really did take a long time. Changing my golf swing around, I've been working with my coach David since I was 16. It was a time to really break down my golf swing now that I had my strength back, being able to do things with my golf swing that I've never been able to do before. For me, that's what I had to do. I had to go backwards to go forwards.
Q. You've been coming here for a long time. With this being Kraft's last year, what would you like to see happen with this tournament in 2015 and beyond?
PAULA CREAMER: I mean, this is the 42nd or something year. I hope we're here another 42 years. There's not much more to say than just tradition. There's so much that goes on with this tournament, through the players. Every woman known to man has walked down that cart path in front of that water. It's nostalgia. Hopefully we'll be sitting here saying that in 35 more years, for sure.
Q. A lot of golfers when they leave juniors and turn pro, they end up with different coaches. How have you kept the same coach? What are the challenges? Can you see why so many golfers go with somebody else?
PAULA CREAMER: Yeah, I have been so lucky. I found a good one. He's like my dad. I spend so much time with him. He knows me better than a lot of people, even my family.
I think the biggest thing is he knows how to play golf. He's been on the European Tour. He's won. He knows what it's like to have droughts. He knows what it's like to win, have confidence over a 6‑footer, 10‑footer, what it feels like to 3‑putt on the last hole.
He is a feel player, never has been very technical. I think the fact that he has watched me grow up and he's watched me since I was 16 just mature into a woman, I think that has helped so much.
Our relationship, I trust him with my life. When he says, We have to do this, I believe it. I believed in him. It's the same with my whole team. Been with my caddie 10 years. My manager has changed three times in 10 years. I'm big into loyalty and relationships. You have to have that if you want to be a number one player or athlete in the world.
THE MODERATOR: A lot of people have been asking you about this place that you're in personally. I'm not going to ask any more. Why don't you talk about it, why it's so positive for you right now.
PAULA CREAMER: Well, Derek is probably the best thing that has ever happened to me. He's just such an incredible person. It's so nice to be around someone that is so positive. I met him, I was going through a rough time with my golf. He was just there no matter what.
I think being able to relate to what we do. He's an Air Force pilot. I can't imagine the pressure and feelings that he goes through, but I do understand the practice, the hours, what goes into it. You just don't go into a plane and fly it into Afghanistan. There's a lot of things you have to train for and be ready for anything that comes your way.
I have learned so much from him. I'm so lucky and blessed that I get to spend the rest of my life with him.
THE MODERATOR: Stacy Lewis talked about this, Karrie Webb talked about it. The United States rallied to overtake South Korea as the number one seed. If you go back let's say three years, there were some conversations among media folks and others about, Where are the Americans? You all are the number one seed, things have changed in the rankings. Is it something that's important to you?
PAULA CREAMER: I think it's huge. I know it's very important. We are an international global tour, but our home is here in the United States. The Americans do want to play well, we always have. We have been out‑numbered at times. But we have such a good, strong group. I think that the biggest thing is a lot of these younger players are playing well.
Older, I don't even know what older is out here anymore, 25 is old. I feel like we all are taking our part and learning our roles that we have. We're strong. We always have been. It was just a matter of time where we break through. That leaderboard last year was awesome. There were so many American flags on it. I think it's going to continue to play out.
At the same time it's good to see we are so international and global because it takes us all over the place, too.
THE MODERATOR: Are you okay with the pressure on America?
PAULA CREAMER: Our first match is against Australia. They're a strong team. We have to take it day to day, like any match play event.
I feel good about our team. We've obviously played on Solheim together. We know what it's like to choose partners, to be there for someone. At the same time you have to get the ball in the hole.
THE MODERATOR: That's July. This is now. Good luck to you. Have a great week, Paula.
Q. I was just looking at that incredible 75‑foot putt. You did say you were struggling, that you lost the love for the game. Does that win now bring the love of the game back to your heart?
PAULA CREAMER: I've never lost love of the game. That's for sure. The day that ever happens, I'm putting the clubs in the garage, we try a new sport.
But, no, I think it was never the love of the game. There's a passion when you dedicate yourself this much to something, if you ever lose that, you have to rethink what you're doing.
For me it was the grind. It's tough. It's very difficult out here. Trying to also grow as a person, I'm not just Paula Creamer on the golf course, I'm also Paula Creamer a person. I think learning how to balance those two things...
It's no fun when you're playing bad. It really isn't. I had a lot of times where I said that to my coach, to Colin, I'm not enjoying this.
How could you? You're not playing to your potential. This is what is going to make you tougher and stronger. We always used it as a positive to turn it around.
I'm very lucky that even my bad three‑year slump, it wasn't horrible if you look at it in the big picture, in the big scheme of things. It just wasn't to what I feel I could have accomplished.
For me, it was more of an internal battle of overcoming what I had to overcome.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you for being here. I'm joined now by Michelle Wie. A practice round or two in the books. Feeling good about yourself going into this major championship? All smiles. You had a nice start to your year.
MICHELLE WIE: Having a lot of fun. My goal this year is to be consistent. Just been working hard and having a lot of fun out there, really enjoying myself.
THE MODERATOR: You played in five events this year. You've been in the top 16 in every one of those events. What does that say about Michelle Wie right now and her game?
MICHELLE WIE: I thought I snuck it in the top 15 last week. My goal this year is to be consistent. I'm just going out there, making every hole count. I'm just going out there and trying to make a birdie or par, see where that gets me.
Obviously I want to win. I feel like I'm getting closer and closer. I'm just taking it day to day and working hard.
THE MODERATOR: It seems to me like over the last couple of years, the smile has gotten bigger and bigger, and the eyes a little brighter every single year. Do you feel like you're in a great place right now?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, for sure. I'm really happy. I feel like my game's coming along. I feel like I'm really adjusting well in Florida. It was tough a little bit between the transition period, but I feel like I'm out of the transition period now. That's really good.
I'm having a lot of fun in Jupiter. I feel like I got a really good system down. Really enjoying the game. Really feeling like I'm almost becoming like a little bit of a golf nerd.
THE MODERATOR: What is that?
MICHELLE WIE: Just get excited when you're out on the golf course. You look at the yardage book, see little things. I remember Beth Daniel showed me her yardage book from Kraft Nabisco. I got excited from the grain directions. Just talking a lot about golf. I guess that would be the definition.
THE MODERATOR: Are you suggesting maybe over the last few years, maybe back three years, your head wasn't in the game as much, and suddenly you're much more dialed in?
MICHELLE WIE: I think I'm just really appreciating the game. Obviously went through a lot of hard times and good times. Just knowing how much I've been through, I think I'm just really appreciating the fact I can go out here and play the game I love for a living. I just realize how lucky I am, how lucky I am to be here.
This tournament always puts things in perspective for me since I played here since I was really young. It reminds me when I was really young coming out here, Oh, my God, I'm at the Kraft Nabisco. I feel very lucky to be able to do what I love to do.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take some questions.
Q. You say you're close to winning. You've been very consistent. What's the difference between finishing eighth or ninth for you right now and getting a victory?
MICHELLE WIE: I think it's just a couple of low rounds. I'll go out there, I'll have a low round, I won't follow it up the next day. I think I need to keep making birdies. It sounds stupid to say, but make more birdies and less bogeys. That's basically what it comes down to, I guess (laughter).
Q. You played this golf course since you were 13. You made some very low rounds here, came close to winning here. How comfortable are you when you walk onto this property? Is it different than when you were 13?
MICHELLE WIE: I talked to my caddie about this. It's weird because every year feels different here. I don't know why. It still doesn't feel like I know the golf course inside and out. It feel like it's changed a couple times, a couple tee boxes, the rough length. The conditions play a big part here. One day it could be no wind and hot, another day can be windy and cold. I think the conditions play a major factor here.
But I am very comfortable on this golf course. I really enjoy it. I have a lot of fun here.
Q. Twice in your opening statement you talked about how you are playing the game that you love for a living. There was a period of time not long ago where you didn't look like you liked golf. In hindsight, is that fair? Have you recaptured some of the joy you had as an early teenager?
MICHELLE WIE: I think you all know when you aren't playing well, when you're struggling with the game, when it's difficult, it's not as fun. I get frustrated a lot.
Even during those times I still loved it. It was very frustrating for me. I really wanted to do well. I was working hard at it. Just wasn't getting any better. It was frustrating, very frustrating for me.
But even then I still felt really lucky just being able to do what I love to do. I still loved it. Love/hate relationship with it. Love it one moment, hate it the other. But I am lucky.
THE MODERATOR: Let's say you were 12 years old. I think I might know the answer to this, but if you were in complete control of your career from that point forward, would you change anything that you did to try to get to the place you are right now?
MICHELLE WIE: No. I'm a really big believer that the mistakes you make, the failures that you go through, really makes you the person that you are now. I think no one makes all the right decisions. I still would have done everything. I have a lot of really great memories from all those decisions that I made.
All the ups and downs come with golf. It really does. It's a really hard game. It looks easy from watching TV. But one day you feel comfortable, the next day you don't. It's a hard game.
I think all the mistakes I made, all I've been through, it made me who I am today, and I'm grateful for that.
Q. You're second on the tour in greens in regulation and fifth in scoring. Is there something that you and David have honed in on that's clicking for you?
MICHELLE WIE: Nothing majorly different. Like I said, last year, just working on a lot of things. I just have to be patient. Sometimes improvements show up overnight and sometimes they take a couple years. I think I'm on the couple of years track.
Feel like I'm getting better, a little better, every day. That's exactly what I want to do. I don't feel myself improving overnight. I chip away at it every day a little bit, a little bit. Hopefully I get to a place where I can start winning tournaments again.
Q. Do you have a favorite memory from this tournament?
MICHELLE WIE: I have a lot. The most memorable, memorable memory that I have ‑ I don't know if it's a good memory or not ‑ but I remember when Karrie holed out on me on 18. That's the most memorable one (laughter).
But I think it's just a walk down 18 when I was 13. Was it when I was 13? I think just walking down there, teeing off in the last group, people clapping, standing up, it was amazing. I think there's so much history here.
Q. I think it was Honda Thailand where you were just ripping the driver confidently everywhere. I asked David about that. He said your confidence in your driver has really gone up. He said that filters down through the rest of your game. Is that a true statement?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I like Thailand. I like that golf course. That would be the golf course I hit the driver the most. It was fun. I was feeling quite sore after that week. I haven't hit that many drivers in a long time.
Yeah, I definitely think when my driver works well it goes down to all my game. Driver is all tempo. When I hit my driver well, it really means I am moving my body parts well.
Q. What do you most admire about Karrie? I think there was a time where people probably thought she was on the downside of her career. She certainly has proved people wrong about that.
MICHELLE WIE: Oh, yeah, she definitely proved people wrong about that. I definitely respect her a lot, a lot. I got to know her personally over the last couple years. I respect her as a person as well, too. She's so cool and so nice. Her game, I mean, she's ferocious.
I think a couple times, we came pretty close at Evian a couple years ago down the stretch. She played so phenomenally. I think obviously winning twice this year, especially Singapore, coming back on Sunday at Phoenix. She's an incredible golfer. Definitely a Hall of Famer. You can tell when you play with her. She's cool, awesome.
Q. That ferocity that you talk about, can that be somewhat intimidating inside the ropes staring at that?
MICHELLE WIE: For sure. She's tiny, but she's scary (laughter).
Q. Your thoughts on Lydia Ko, her transition from amateur to professional this week, what sort of a threat she might be as well?
MICHELLE WIE: She's an incredible golfer. I played with her a couple times last year and this year. She's just so consistent. She hits fairways. She hits it on the greens. She makes the putt. I look at her, Oh, that looks easy.
But she's a really good golfer. She has a really, you know, stable mindset when she's out there. Nothing really fazes her. Whether she makes a birdie or bogey, it's all the same to her. She's fun to watch, for sure.
THE MODERATOR: A couple, three years ago you joined and took part as one of the players on a player communications committee. I tell this story quite a bit. You could have said, I don't have time for something like that. Players give feedback on the tour. How are you really able to kind of take on so many other activities? You could have easily said, No, my game is not in the right spot. You said yes. My question is, Why yes and why so involved in the tour? How have you been able to balance that?
MICHELLE WIE: It didn't really take that much time. We got a couple free dinners out of it. Free food, I'm in always (laughter).
But, no, I think just talking to a lot of older players, just seeing what they did to help the tour. I guess I'm feeling a little bit older now. I'm seeing a lot of younger kids come on tour. It's made me really realize that I want to leave the tour in a better place than when I came in. I talk to Christina Kim a lot. That's really what she emphasizes. We both are on the player communication committee. We have a lot of great, fun ideas. I just see the tour going in a better place.
We're really big on social media. We're on a lot of different media outlets. We have a way bigger presence on Golf Channel. I think we have a lot to present. There's a lot of personalities on this tour. There's a lot of hidden treasures out here as well. There's so many people that are so funny that need to be in the media more. That's what I enjoyed about the communication committee. It wasn't about, How can I be in the media more? It wasn't about Stacy being in the media more. It was about, Let's feature this player more because she has such a great personality. It was fun to throw back ideas here and there.
Q. I was noticing, you also paint. Designed an oversized golf ball.
MICHELLE WIE: That was a little bit daunting. They gave me this huge golf ball. I didn't know what to do with it. It's hard enough to paint on a flat canvas. I thought I did a pretty cool job. I looked at it, Oh, I like how it turned out. Then I saw Luke Donald's. I was like, Why? His is so much better (laughter).
Q. You've had quite an academic career. You have an interesting set of interests off the course. What do you think about someday, if you were going to pursue something else, if you weren't involved in golf right now, where do you think that would take you?
MICHELLE WIE: You know, I definitely would miss school. I definitely see myself going back to grad school, business school. I definitely see myself pursuing more of an academic career, getting my master's in something.
Future endeavors would be something about food, in that area. I'm a big foodie. It's a big passion of mine. I can see myself going into that.
THE MODERATOR: Owning restaurants, a fancy chef, a TV show about cooking?
MICHELLE WIE: We'll see. Won't miss any opportunities.
THE MODERATOR: This year is a great success for Michelle Wie if what happens?
MICHELLE WIE: It would be a big success for me if I just go out there and keep improving every week. I think I started off obviously in a great place, but I want to get better and better. I want to end the year better than how I started.
If I could improve a little bit, a little bit, each tournament I'd be very happy. I want to have fun, go out there, enjoy myself, just have fun, I guess.
KRAIG KANN: Thank you for joining us. I'm Kraig Kann, the chief communications officers of the LPGA.
In 2013 the, LPGA announced to the world a new global team competition that we feel is not only long overdue but also innovative in its conceptual design and something that will appeal to fans who watch us in more than 150 countries each week.
The International Crown will debut this July, the 24th through 27th, at Caves Valley, golf club outside Baltimore, with eight countries taking part, having qualified officially back in mid‑November based on the merits of the combined official world rankings of their top four players at that time.
Those countries, you see them right here to my left and right. Australia, Chinese Taipei, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Thailand and the United States. They were announced at our season‑ending event back in Naples. Since that time, the players who are here today and others have been competing, jockeying, wishing for a position on their country's four‑player roster.
Sunday's final round at the Kia Classic was spectacular for many reasons. It was the last day for players to earn a spot among the top four ranked players from their qualifying home country. And what a day it was, especially for Team USA. It came down to the last pairing of the day, Cristie Kerr and Lizette Salas.
On the team side of things, there was the battle for the top overall seed at stake, as the United States closed in on South Korea and ultimately edged out South Korea for the top overall seed in the upcoming International Crown by the slimmest of margins, one world ranking point.
We are all set, 32 players, eight countries, four players per country, and just one crown to wear this summer and proudly carry bragging rights as the best golfing nation in the world.
Today at this press conference we're going to do a couple of things. We're going to announce some news, bring up a qualified team member for each country, and we're going to go through some of the particulars of how the week will look from a pool perspective.
First I'd like to turn it over to our chief marketing officer, Jon Podany, who is here. He would like to make a rather large business announcement regarding the upcoming International Crown.
JON PODANY: Thank you. We've been talking about this for almost two years. I have to admit it is pretty exciting to actually have it become closer to reality only a few months away.
First thing I wanted to do today is introduce some very important partners to this event. As you all know, these events don't happen without strong sponsorship and partnership support. We have three companies that have stepped up to be major partners of this event going forward. We're very excited about that. Three strong partners.
I'm going to introduce each of them, ask a representative of each to come up, then we have another announcement following that.
First I'd like to introduce Rolex as one of our ambassador partners. Representing Rolex is Arnaud Laborde. We also have Peter Nicholson and Alex Gasser with us today.
Rolex, as many of you know, is one of the biggest supporters, if not the biggest supporter of women's golf. Been with the LPGA for 34 years. You see their imprint on so many big events that we do. We're delighted to have Rolex join us at the Crown.
Secondly, I'd like to recognize the Hana Financial Group. We have three representatives with us today. Mr. Choi, if you'd come up and represent Hana Financial Group.
For those of you that travel with us on our tour, you'll know that the KEB HanaBank Championship is one of the very best tournaments on the LPGA. This year alone we had 28,000 people there on Sunday. If you've ever been to see that mass of people coming down the hill following our players, it's a big event. They also support four of our players. Hana Financial Group is a perfect fit for this kind of championship.
Lastly, I'd like to introduce a new partner of ours, Pandora. Nikolette Gayk is here to represent Pandora. Just to give you a little bit about Pandora, which plays right into the global aspect of this championship, their headquarters are in Copenhagen, Denmark. Their production facility is in Thailand. They hand‑make all their jewelry in Thailand. I think very representative of what we expect the International Crown to become. So thank you to Pandora. I have three daughters, so we're quite familiar with the Pandora brand.
One more special announcement I'd like to make before turning it back over to Kraig. We'd like to unveil the International Crown trophy which was designed by Tiffany & Company. I'll ask our ambassador partners to help me in that unveiling.
As I mentioned, it's designed by Tiffany & Company, weighs 23 pounds, 23 inches high, and took 165 hours to develop. So very proud to have Tiffany & Company as the designer of our trophy. One unique aspect we're pretty excited about is that each of the four players on the winning team will receive a replica crown like you see at the top of the trophy.
We will crown the best golfing nation in the world, maybe the queens of women's golf, per se. We're looking forward to that aspect of the event on Sunday afternoon.
Thank you for coming and thank you to our ambassador partners for joining together with us in what we think is going to be a terrific event and we hope we're together a very long time.
KRAIG KANN: I now officially know there will be no bouncing or running on this stage. We'll be very careful of what is right in front of me (laughter).
Let's get to the qualifying country and now how they're seeded for the competition. We'll bring up a representative of each country for some commentary and questions from the media.
The competition will look like this. We're dividing the countries into two pools. The qualifying countries are listed on the side there in alphabetical order.
In pool A are countries seeded one, four, five and eight. In pool B, countries seeded two, three, six and seven. To make it simple for you, this right here is pool A, this is pool B.
Now let's introduce some of the players. Let's start with pool A and the number one overall seed at the International Crown. Sliding in at the very last event on the very last day, the United States has the first spot because of, why, because of Lexi Thompson. She went from 10 to 9 in the Rolex women's world rankings and that one point allowed the United States to be at the top.
Representing the red, white and blue today, the number three ranked player in the world, former number one, hoping to get back there, ladies and gentlemen, Stacy Lewis is here.
Down in pool B, the number two overall seed is the country who led the standings from the day the International Crown was launched in January of 2013, South Korea is the number two seed. Representing South Korea here today the owner of seven career LPGA Tour titles, including the United States Open. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Na Yeon Choi.
Also in pool B, we find the number three seed in the International Crown, Japan. Up at the top is Mika Miyazato. Representing this country here today, former number one in the Rolex world rankings, a nine‑time winner on the LPGA Tour, say hello to Ai Miyazato.
Let's go back to pool A for our fourth seed, that is Thailand. Here today to represent Team Thailand, after six top‑20 finishes and a season‑best fourth‑place finish at the Australian Open, please welcome Moriya Jutanugarn.
Staying in pool A, the number five ranked country, which is Spain. The woman here today, very recognizable, three LPGA Tour victories, 19 top 10s, please welcome Beatriz Recari.
The sixth seeded team falls in pool B. It is Team Sweden. Here today is a rising talent who carried cards on both the LPGA and LET in 2010, still does. Four top 25s last year. Say hello to Pernilla Lindberg.
Rounding out pool B is the team from Chinese Taipei. Here on the stage, please welcome four‑time LPGA Tour winner, career earnings approaching $6 million, Candie Kung.
Our final qualifier falls in pool A. That spot belongs to Team Australia. Representing Team Australia here today, who else but 41‑time LPGA winner, including seven major championships, she is the two‑time Rolex Player of the Year, two‑time winner this year, welcome Karrie Webb.
Let's get comments from each of you on this event. Karrie, I'll let you have the microphone first. What has you most excited about this event?
KARRIE WEBB: Well, that Australia's in it is the first thing. We qualified last. But very, very excited to be able to represent Australia. Obviously Australia hasn't had the opportunity to have many team competitions at the professional level. I'm really excited about it.
I think we've got a fun team. Minjee Lee is a rising star. I think you'll see lots of her in the future. I think it will be a really great experience for her. Obviously Katherine and Lindsey, we've all been out here quite a while. I think we'll have quite a group. I think we'll all get along well. Hopefully we'll take a laid back atmosphere into it and try and have some fun and see how we go.
KRAIG KANN: Candie, representing Chinese Taipei, what does this event mean for you personally?
CANDIE KUNG: It's a fun event for us. I feel honored to be part of Chinese Taipei. I didn't even know we had a fourth player till late last year. But we're all looking forward to it. We're all very excited. This is actually the first time that we actually get to play in a team event, to represent Chinese Taipei in an international event, so we're looking forward to it.
KRAIG KANN: Pernilla, what does an event like this do for you?
PERNILLA LINDBERG: The Solheim Cup, growing up in Europe, obviously it's a big goal in any girl's mind growing up. Now, having the chance to play in this kind of team event where I get to represent Sweden is a big deal.
With other events coming up like the Olympics, this just feels even more special to get a taste of representing my country already now. Anna, Caroline and myself, we played a lot on the national team growing up. We won the world amateur championships together in 2008. I feel pretty good about having us together again.
KRAIG KANN: Early confidence from Team Sweden.
Let's go back to this side and talk to Beatriz. Team Spain looks fairly dangerous. What will it be like to represent your country and not just Europe as you do in a Solheim Cup?
BEATRIZ RECARI: It's going to be a great experience to finally represent your country professionally because growing up in Europe, like Pernilla said, we always had every year national competitions. It's going to be great to have that feeling again because all four of us, we're almost the same age, so we always competed together on the national team and we always beat Sweden. We're always like lined up going to the opening ceremony, always like Spain and Sweden. We're always in front alphabetically.
I think it's going to be good memories, and also playing for your country professionally puts that little extra pressure. I think we're all four very, very thrilled.
KRAIG KANN: Moriya, you and your sister both representing Team Thailand. Your sister is here, as well. Knowing you already have an event in your country that we play on the LPGA, what will this mean for you and your country to be involved?
MORIYA JUTANUGARN: I think it's my first time play for country, so represent Thailand. This my first time. It's the first time that we play for the team, four of us. Normally we are good friends, so I hope we going to be a good friends when we play the tournament, too.
I'm really glad that we in one of the eight teams because it's very exciting when you wait till the cut and it's like, Wow, we're in!
KRAIG KANN: Any team you really want to beat? We have Sweden and Spain ready to go at it.
MORIYA JUTANUGARN: I need more experience, so maybe I take experience from them.
KRAIG KANN: You were the Rookie of the Year last year, but you've moved on, fully aware of how to handle these things.
Let's talk to Ai Miyazato. Golf is popular in Japan. As are you. What do you think it will be like for you and how much pressure might there be on a country like Japan to play in an event like this?
AI MIYAZATO: I think it's going to be a great team because me and Mika plays on the LPGA Tour. We obviously know each other a long time. We can get along together. I promise it's going to be no drama. Most of the Japanese girls is really polite and really fun to be with, so it's going to be a great team.
But women's golf is getting really popular in Japan right now. We get all the attention from the golf fans. This tournament, it's going to be really a huge impact to Japan golf. I'm really happy that our country qualified for this tournament.
KRAIG KANN: You're a big part of the promo. You're the one that says who gets to wear the crown. Have you thought what that would mean, to have the first crown?
AI MIYAZATO: I've seen the trophy, so it even feels better.
Obviously I knew it's going to be really huge tournament, but now I realize and I've seen the other players, it's going to be tough matches against any country. It's going to be really fun.
KRAIG KANN: There might be some drama, still?
AI MIYAZATO: Not on the Japanese team, but against the other countries could be drama.
KRAIG KANN: Na Yeon, South Korea has so much talent on this team, what does it feel like for you to be a part of it?
NA YEON CHOI: I think all the Korean players have some pressure, extra pressure than normal LPGA tournament players.
We just finished the number two seed after last week, so I just talked with Inbee and So Yeon and IK. We feel a little less pressure than before. I think USA has a lot of pressure now. But it's all fun for each other, for each country. We feel like honored to play the tournament. I really looking forward to that tournament.
KRAIG KANN: Let me make sure I understand your quote exactly right. The United States is the one that has more pressure, am I understanding that right?
NA YEON CHOI: Yes.
KRAIG KANN: Let's go to Stacy. Top seed for the United States. I remember a few years ago, I don't want to talk about the drama just yet, but people were talking about why the Americans hadn't stepped up, there weren't enough American players in the winner's circle. Things seemed to have changed. You have made a huge run over the last few months to become the number one seed. What does that state about American golf?
STACY LEWIS: I've been beating my head against the wall saying that for the last year and a half and nobody would write about it. I've been saying American golf is in a really good place. The way Lexi, Paula and even Christie have played in the last few weeks, it shows we're in a great place right now.
It's nice to get that number one seed and to prove to people that we're here and we're competing.
It was hard to make the team. Kerr ended up 12 or 13 in the world so you had play really good golf to be a part of the team. To represent your country is really such an honor.
KRAIG KANN: Any commentary to NYC's commentary?
STACY LEWIS: The South Koreans are good at down playing everything.
KRAIG KANN: Any pressure for the United States?
STACY LEWIS: Kind of like a Solheim Cup, we're used to having a captain make decisions for us. But from Solheim Cups, we'll be pretty set there.
KRAIG KANN: I'm going to run through the format here. Three days of pool play where on each day each team will play two four‑ball matches against one of the other teams in their pool. One day of singles then on Sunday where the top two teams from each pool after three days will qualify, plus one wild card team will advance after a sudden death four‑ball playoff. That's how we'll get to five teams.
The team with the most points over the four days gets the crown. Two points for each victory in the matches, one point for a half. A sudden death singles playoff if we needed it on Sunday would break the tie and award the crown.
Here is pool A, over the first three days, similar to World Cup soccer where every team plays every other team over the first three days gaining points. The matchups, U.S. Thailand, Spain, Australia, the top two qualifying for Sunday play.
Let's take questions from the media.
Q. Karrie, did you ever in the past watch the Solheim Cup or even the Ryder Cup and feel like you were being cheated, didn't have an opportunity for a career experience?
KARRIE WEBB: It's never been something obviously that's been an offer for me. I have attended quite a few Solheim Cups.
I think when I'm there, the girls put on such a great show that I do miss not being a part of that. The atmosphere at the Solheim Cup is always tenfold compared to a regular tournament out here.
I guess I do feel like I miss that when I go to those events, but it's not something that I dwell on.
Obviously when the idea of the International Crown came up, I was excited that I could have an opportunity to play for Australia. I mean, the longevity of this event, the atmosphere might turn into something like the Solheim Cup. But to start with, I think it's just going to be great.
I know all four girls are very excited to represent Australia. We'll do our best to maybe ruffle a few feathers as the underdog.
KRAIG KANN: Karrie, there are no captains in this competition, but if there were any of the eight teams that seemed like it's a lock that somebody is going to take the leadership role on their team, Karrie, it would be you. Is being a leader something you will embrace and love having that opportunity?
KARRIE WEBB: We actually haven't talked about it as a team yet. I think it's only four girls. I don't think there's big decisions to be made. To me personally, I'd love to play with all three girls. We have three days to do that.
I don't think there's going to be a huge amount of strategy to it. But it will just be fun. Obviously I have the most experience as far as how long I've been out here and the career I've had. Hopefully that might trickle down and we all play really well that week.
Q. Obviously a lot of you have played in team competitions where you've had a non‑playing captain who made decisions. You'll have to get that done by yourselves. Do you anticipate designating somebody? Is it arm wrestling at noon? What?
STACY LEWIS: I don't know. I mean, I think if there were more players, there would need to be kind of a leader roll, like Karrie said. I think with four, we all respect each other enough and we know each other's games well enough. I think the four of us on our team, we already know what we're going to do as far as pairings‑wise.
I don't really see it being too much of a challenge. For us it will be a little bit more relaxed than a Solheim Cup would be.
BEATRIZ RECARI: I'm going to repeat what they said. The key is really we're only four players. To get to this qualifying, you have to play here for a few years. You know each other.
For us, I mean, we've played together since we're 10. I mean, we know each other like sisters almost. We've grown up playing amateur golf, then playing professional over here. This is my fifth year on the LPGA. It's been many years playing together.
Like Stacy said, from that point of view, and last year in Solheim, too, pretty much without talking we could almost decide who is going to play with who and agree. It's so easy when it's four. We have such a good atmosphere, so it's not going to be any hassle at all.
Q. Does that mean the four of you know who is going to play together and it's going to stay the same the whole time?
STACY LEWIS: I think it could change depending on maybe how people are playing or this or that. It's not alternate shot. It's best ball format. That frees things up. Certain people kind of play well with certain people.
I mean, it's getting people comfortable out there to go out and make some birdies. That's ultimately what you're trying to do in best ball. Maybe you have one person that bombs it, one person that's steady, you free them up to let it rip.
There's a little bit of strategy there, but the four of us, we know each other's games. We know what everybody's strengths are. It's just putting the best two combinations together.
Q. If there's a playoff situation and you have to put a name in an envelope, how do you figure that one out?
STACY LEWIS: I think that's where it gets tricky. That's where I think you could have more drama than anything. I think everybody on the team would want to be that person. I think that's why we're professional golfers. We want the pressure. We want to be there.
That's going to be the trickiest part of this whole format.
KRAIG KANN: Moriya, I'm pretty sure you would play with your sister in this competition?
MORIYA JUTANUGARN: Yeah, I think for team Thailand is pretty much I going to play with my sister because we know each other, like we grow up together. We used to play the team together before. I know her game. She know what she have to do with me.
KRAIG KANN: Beatriz, can you give us some sense of what the team room atmosphere might be like for Team Spain?
BEATRIZ RECARI: We're going to be playing music. Carlota loves to decide all the songs. In Solheim she had the whole song list. She was ruling the D.J. part. We're just going to take it easy and have a good time. Just make sure we're nice and positive in the locker room.
KRAIG KANN: Let's move over to pool B. One thing to start off. As things changed at the last minute, suddenly three Asian countries are all in the same bracket. You were talking no drama. Candie, what will that be like? Is there a competitive situation there we don't know enough about?
CANDIE KUNG: Definitely there's going to be competition. We're playing against each other, playing against different countries, we want to beat each other up, and hopefully we're doing that on the golf course. It will be fun.
KRAIG KANN: NYC?
NA YEON CHOI: Actually we have a lot of experience, especially with Japan. Few years ago, Korea against the Japan, we had a team match in Korea or Japan every winter. We had a great experience from there.
Obviously we didn't play Solheim Cup. We never played. But we got some experience. So I think all the experience might help for us.
KRAIG KANN: Ai, another chance for you to talk about drama.
AI MIYAZATO: Thanks, Kraig.
No, it's going to be tough for sure against playing any other countries. Japan and Korea, we had so many tournaments between our countries, we had so many experience.
It's going to be new because we never played against Sweden or Chinese Taipei. That's a new experience for me, and you never know what's going to happen.
Like Candie said, we play for country. I'm sure we're all going to be tough, little bit different than usual tournament. Hopefully you can see new Ai Miyazato in this tournament.
KRAIG KANN: Pernilla, given how well Anna Nordqvist was playing, I guess you wish this was tomorrow?
PERNILLA LINDBERG: Why not? Having Caroline Headwall on the team, seeing what she has done in the last couple Solheim Cups, it will be pretty cool. Then Mikaela Parmlid and myself, we're going to try to learn the tips that Caroline has to give us on the whole match play thing and I think we'll be fine.
KRAIG KANN: Among the three Asian countries here, who is going to play the loudest music?
CANDIE KUNG: They better put our rooms all together next to each other and we'll see who has the loudest going on.
NA YEON CHOI: I'm not sure.
AI MIYAZATO: Japan. Because we have karaoke. We all can sing.
KRAIG KANN: When this event was launched to the media at the beginning of the 2013, I want to remind you how this has evolved. South Korea had a 24‑point advantage as the top seed. Now it is the United States by that one slim point in the world rankings. This has been ongoing for the better part of almost a year and a half.
Any other questions from the media?
Q. Na Yeon, the other country players grew up together, well know each other. Is it an advantage to you?
KRAIG KANN: Is it an advantage that you all know each other so well?
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah. We actually grew up together. I'm oldest from team. We grew up together since when I was like 11 years old. We went to tournaments together. We know each other very well. We were Korean national team together.
I think we know each other very well. I think we listen from other players feeling or thinking, then make good, best teamwork and hopefully have good results over there.