Lake Merced Golf Club
Daly City, California
Round 3 - Saturday, April 26, 2014
Stacy Lewis (-10) and Lydia Ko (-9) are each in search of their first win of 2014 and the two players have traded punches while being paired together each day at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic. Lewis one-upped herself today, firing a 68 after 69s on Thursday and Friday. That 68 propelled her to a one shot lead over Ko heading into what should be an exciting final round tomorrow at Lake Merced Golf Club.
The two leaders almost seemed to feed off of each other throughout the day, trading birdies and eventually compliments in the media center after their round. It was an exciting day with the promise of even more exciting golf tomorrow.
Overall, the 74.296 scoring average today was the lowest scoring average of the week, with the good conditions obviously playing a huge factor.
The back nine is when Ko and Lewis started to get it going and trade birdies back and forth.
“It’s just fun to feed off each other like that.” Lewis said. “She hits it in there close on 16, I know I need to do something. I make a putt, and she chips in on 15 after I’ve hit it close. More than anything, it was just a lot of fun. We’re both playing great golf. It’s fun to watch her play. We’ll do it another day tomorrow.”
With a Lewis-Ko pairing, there is sure to be extra attention even for the LPGA tour which has had great winners and a lot of momentum this year. Although it’s been difficult for either of these players to find themselves in the winner circle, they appreciate how good it’s been for the tour.
“It’s been great for the tour this year.” Lewis said. “The leaderboards we’ve had at the majors the last couple weeks, I mean, it’s been unbelievable for our tour. So we’re trying to keep the momentum going, I guess. I don’t know, that back nine, those last five or six holes had to be fun to watch. It was a lot of fun to play.”
KNOWING The Course
Both Ko and Lewis were in sync with their caddies throughout the day. The two players have different stories with their caddies, but both approaches have been working for them.
“My caddie, we’re going on our sixth year.” Lewis said. “He knows my game; he knows me. The front nine he just kept telling me to be patient, be patient, be patient, because there would be only opportunities later. My caddie and I, he’s like a brother to me. We know each other so well. Definitely helped me out there today.”
Although Ko hasn’t been with her local caddie long, she has had a lot of experience in the past using local caddies. Her two wins in Canada were both with local caddies.
“It’s my sixth day with him. “ Ko said. “I had Domingo on my bag two years ago when I was on this course. Six days this year, this week. Yeah, no, he obviously knows the course really well growing up from here and playing a lot of golf. Yeah, I think that’s been a huge help.”
“There are some tricky putts out there. There are some double breakers. So it’s good to have a local guy, I guess, knowing what it’s going to do.” Ko said.
Jenny Shin had one single goal heading in to the 2014 season and that was to stop leaving her putts short. It was a problem that had plagued Shin since she turned pro in 2011.
“My whole life I hit putts short,” Shin said. “So hitting it past the hole was my main goal this year. I said, ‘I don’t care what I shoot, I’m just going to hit it past the hole.’ When you hit it in on right line, it starts going in. That was the key to my game.”
Shin is currently ranked 26th in putting on the LPGA Tour this season with an average of 29.68 putts per round. Last year, she ranked 77th in putting. Shin needed just 25 putts in the third round on Saturday en route to shooting 68. It was the second time in three rounds so far this week that she posted a 68.
Coming off a huge win in Hawaii last week, Michelle Wie (-1) came into this tournament a little more tired from the demands of being a champion once again. Asked if the demands presented any challenges coming into the week, Wie said she was a bit tired but that comes with the territory.
“So many emotions and bit of celebrating and travel coming back here.” Wie said. “Just a little bit tired. I think I got some good rest.”
The rest comes in handy when playing a course as tough as Lake Merced Golf Club.
“It’s a great golf course, a really tough golf course.” Wie said. “Plays a lot different than last week. I think that was the biggest challenge. Just kind of treating this like a major golf course.”
The length of the course is what Wie feels plays into the strength of her game. But it’s her irons that she’s hoping show up more tomorrow.
“You need to have good iron play.” Wie said. “Small greens out here. I missed a couple greens the last couple days, but hopefully tomorrow I can hit a couple more.”
With the sun shining and good conditions on the golf course, Hee Young Park (-5) was able to notice a big difference in her game from one day to the next. She heads into Sunday four shots back of leader Stacy Lewis.
“It was bit tough to measure my distance all the time because the wind always switched yesterday.” Park said. “But today weather is perfect, and I just try to do my every single shot my best. Weather was good. That was big different compared yesterday and today.”
Park spent 40 minutes on the range after she finished her round on Friday after feeling like she wasn’t hitting the ball all that well. After darkness forced her off the range, she talked to her swing coach until she felt her shot was corrected. Event if that meant being the last person on the driving range.
Park is now in position to win her first tournament since last year’s Manulife Financial LPGA Classic. She plans on a relaxing night at home.
“Just enjoy, eat dinner.” Park said. “Right outside of the entrance I have the Korea market, so I always get Korean food. I’m staying at a rental house this week so cooking every night, so I’m going to probably do same thing.”
Quote of the Day
“It’ s just nice to play with somebody when they’re playing well. It makes you play better. I think it’s made both of us kind of elevate our game.” –Stacy Lewis describing why she likes to play with Lydia Ko three days in a row.
The social scene
The action on the golf course wasn’t just exciting for the fans to watch, the other players on tour couldn’t help but notice themselves. Jenny Shin, who is four shots behind leader Stacy Lewis sent a tweet shortly after she finished her round.
“Had fun pulling out 6 birds after tough start. Will be much more fun watching @Stacy_Lewis and @Lko424 tomorrow #rainingbirdies #leadergroup” - Jenny Shin (@JennyShin_LPGA)
“Wounded Warrior Project® Weekends” is a season-long charity program that will be tied into the Race to the CME Globe. Each Saturday and Sunday at LPGA tournaments, CME Group will donate $1,000 to Wounded Warrior Project® for each eagle that is recorded. This amount will increase to $5,000 for each eagle during the weekend of the CME Group Tour Championship and a formal check will be presented to the Wounded Warrior Project® during the trophy ceremony at the CME Group Tour Championship.
Today, six total eagles were recorded which brings the total money raised this year to $90,000. Through the first 8 tournaments prior to Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, $84,000 had been raised.
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome two members of our final group for tomorrow's final round, Stacy Lewis and Lydia Ko.
First off, ladies, just seems that the two of you keep feeding off each other and putting together a great show for golf fans.
Thank very much. It was fun to watch out there, especially that last hour or so of play.
Stacy, I'll start with you. What was that like? You seemed to be trading birdies. We called it punch/counterpunch. Seemed like every time we saw you make a putt, Lydia then did something, or vice versa.
STACY LEWIS: Well, I can tell you, one, it was a lot of fun. The front nine there were some hole locations you couldn't really get close to so the golf was boring.
Man, on that back nine we both started making putts. Lydia chipped in. It's just fun to feed off each other like that. She hits it in there close on 16, I know I need to do something. I make a putt, and she chips in on 15 after I've hit it close.
More than anything, it was just a lot of fun. We're both playing great golf. It's fun to watch her play. We'll do it another day tomorrow.
MODERATOR: Lydia, what is that like when you're watching somebody play so well and you seem to be able to keep up and match it? You also showed off the great sportsmanship. We saw some fist pumping out there.
It's fun to see you guys compete, but also appreciate the fact that you're both playing really good golf right now.
LYDIA KO: Obviously we've got to have good sportsmanship. To me, it was really fun watching Stacy play. Kind of made me like I needed to play better. I spin my chip like 10 yards from the pin, and I'm like, Oh, my God. That was a shocking hole.
Then the next hole I think we kind of found our rhythm and it was birdie after birdie after birdie.
Yeah, I think it was really cool watching Stacy and playing alongside her for the last three days.
MODERATOR: Three days straight. Do you get some sort of rhythm going in terms of what you're talking about out there? Does it change when you play somebody day after day, and knowing you're playing tomorrow, too?
STACY LEWIS: I mean, other than running out of things to talk about, I guess that's kind of it. No, I mean, I love play with her. She doesn't take much time. We both kind of play fast. We got into a good rhythm there going back and forth.
It's just nice to play with somebody when they're playing well. It makes you play better. I think it's made both of us kind of elevate our game. It's a hard golf course, yet we're still making some birdies on it.
It's just fun to be the last group. I know the crowd got into it there on, what was that, the par-5, 15. I think they were kind of tired of us making pars, so we both kind of went on a run there and made a few birdies for them.
MODERATOR: When you look at the good play on a tough golf course like this, to be able to put together rounds like you have the past few days, what have been the biggest keys - I'll ask each one of you that - to tame this golf course?
LYDIA KO: I think it's making putts. You know, some pins, especially today, like the par-5s, you may be able to get on for two, but they weren't really holes you could have a nicely little eagle putt or something like that. It was hard to even have a birdie putt.
You got to make some putts when the pins are tucked in. You can't be aggressive for every pin out here.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, making putts and playing smart, which both of us without even realizing, we've done it. We played away from some tough pins and had to make a couple -- just some really good two-putts to make par. It's just taking that the course gives you. That's the key I think to being successful here.
MODERATOR: Questions for Stacy or Lydia.
Q. For both of you, how well did you know each other before this week, and what do you know now that you didn't know before?
STACY LEWIS: We played a lot of golf together the last few years. Your first Canadian Open you were 15, right? So I played with her the final round when she won her first Canadian Open. I was impressed then.
I think the best part of her game is like I was talking about, the maturity. Playing away from pins and not going after every pin. She is fearless out there on a couple of them, though, but she definitely doesn't play like she's 17.
LYDIA KO: I already knew she was good. Her rankings show and her scores show, and obviously she showed today and the last couple days.
You know, it's just really good for me as a rookie to play with a player like Stacy. It's a great opportunity for me to learn from another great player.
Q. Lydia, they were showing on the telecast your dad in the crowd going crazy after some of your good play. Just interested. They were saying that your dad, has he been over to see you play outside of New Zealand, Australia before, like in the States or other places?
LYDIA KO: Even when I was playing in New Zealand he never really came out to watch. Actually last week was the first one he came out to watch.
Yeah, he caddied for me twice before then. I won both times, so those are good memories. Other than that, he hasn't been out there much.
Last week I was missing a lot of putts, so when he sees them going in this week he's kind of surprised, and I guess the emotions are going.
I'm just really happy that I can show some good golf in front of both my parents.
Q. Do we know their names?
LYDIA KO: Tina is my mom. Obviously. It's not a man's name. And GH, that's how my dad goes. It's initials of his Korean name. People have tried to pronounce it. That hasn't gone well. (Laughter.)
MODERATOR: Ladies, I'll ask you, it's been a pretty spectacular year so far on the LPGA Tour. We've had great winners and a lot of momentum. Now we have a final pairing between the two of you that's going to draw a lot of attention. Both big names.
Do you appreciate that when you're going out there today and playing good golf and understand that when you're playing well and the names you are, what that does to draw attention to the game? Do you enjoy that?
STACY LEWIS: I mean, yeah, I think we both realize there is definitely going to be some extra attention when the two of us are kind of battling like that.
It's been great for the tour this year. The leaderboards we've had at the majors the last couple weeks, I mean, it's been unbelievable for our tour.
So we're trying to keep the momentum going, I guess. I don't know, that back nine, those last five or six holes had to be fun to watch. It was a lot of fun to play.
We're doing the best to represent our tour. You know, us playing good golf at the end of the day, that's what does it.
Q. You talked about just finding your rhythm out there. It was really obvious in watching on the back nine that you were really in sync with your caddies too as far as just interacting, seeing things the same way. Talk about that and how important that is as far as just being on the same page and having that chemistry going with your caddie.
STACY LEWIS: We got two different stories on that probably. My caddie, we're going on our sixth year. He knows my game; he knows me. The front nine he just kept telling me to be patient, be patient, be patient, because there would be only opportunities later.
He read a couple of those putts at the end. I really had to trust him. There were some tricky putts and he read them perfectly. My caddie and I, he's like a brother to me. We know each other so well. Definitely helped me out there today.
LYDIA KO: It's my sixth day with him. (Laughter.) I had Domingo on my bag two years ago when I was on this course. Six days this year, this week.
Yeah, no, he obviously knows the course really well growing up from here and playing a lot of golf. Yeah, I think that's been a huge help.
There are some tricky putts out there. There are some double breakers. So it's good to have a local guy, I guess, knowing what it's going to do.
MODERATOR: Lydia, two wins in Canada; both came with local caddies, didn't they?
LYDIA KO: Yeah.
MODERATOR: Questions, please. I guess sometimes you just need a little local knowledge, right?
LYDIA KO: Maybe I just need like a seven day person. I think it really depends. I think especially for that week, you know, at the Canadian Open. I kind of felt like I needed to take charge. I couldn't depend on somebody.
I think that's why it kind of worked out well, where I was trusting my game and playing with it. Sometimes obviously it's not going to be right, but just going with it and still trusting it.
Q. Stacy, how long would you estimate the putt on 16 was?
STACY LEWIS: I would guess maybe 40, 45 feet.
LYDIA KO: 50.
STACY LEWIS: 50? I don't know. 45. Does that sound okay?
MODERATOR: 45 sounds best.
Q. Do you guys go into tomorrow with any kind of match play mindset going against each other, or still too early to do that?
STACY LEWIS: I think it's too early. I think the golf course is so hard, you can make a bogey really quick if you're just playing the person next to you.
I think we're both going to probably stick to our game plans and going to be close coming down to the end tomorrow. Hopefully it's the good golf we saw today. I'm sure it'll be a lot of fun.
MODERATOR: Talking about those bogeys, the fact that you put together a bogey-free round on the golf course like this...
STACY LEWIS: I did?
MODERATOR: You did. It's pretty impressive. What does that say about how you were able to play out there on a course like this where you're saying par is your friend to not have a bogey?
STACY LEWIS: I putted really good. That's what it says. I probably hit the ball the worst today that I've hit it all week, but just I made -- early on the front nine a couple good putts for par.
I think the first hole I made about an eight-footer for par. Just really got good momentum early. Knew I was putting well. To go bogey-free on this golf course is pretty good.
MODERATOR: Any other questions for Stacy and Lydia? Thanks for putting on such a good show. No pressure or anything, but hopefully a really good show tomorrow. We're looking forward to some good golf.
Q.Incredibly tough golf course.
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah.
Q. Coming off the emotion of winning last week in Hawaii, what extra challenges did that bring to this week?
MICHELLE WIE: I think I was just tired from last week. So many emotions and bit of celebrating and travel coming back here. Just a little bit tired. I think I got some good rest.
It's a great golf course, a really tough golf course. Plays a lot different than last week. I think that was the biggest challenge.
Just kind of treating this like a major golf course.
Q. This course is particularly tough. What is it about this course that really fits your game?
MICHELLE WIE: I don't know. I think it's long, which obviously plays advantage to me. But it's just the way you need to have good iron play. Small greens out here. I missed a couple greens the last couple days, but hopefully tomorrow I can hit a couple more.
Q. Here with Hee Young Park. What was the big difference between yesterday and today for you?
HEE YOUNG PARK: Definitely weather. It was freezing yesterday and rainy. It was bit tough to measure my distance all the time because the wind always switched yesterday, so I been more struggle. And also like it was wet green, so a lot of like sand on it, on the ball. So it's been harder with like the putting.
But today weather is perfect, and I just try to do my every single just on my best. Weather was good. That was big different compared yesterday and today.
Q. Kylie said you were putting really well today. Do you feel the same?
HEE YOUNG PARK: Actually, I made a lot of five-, six-footer putt yesterday even wet green, so I had confidence from yesterday.
So I try to get really same feeling about yesterday putting feel. I think that worked.
Q. She also mentioned you spent some time on the range. Was that yesterday or today?
HEE YOUNG PARK: Yesterday. I mean, I finished 7:30. Well, it was 8:15, but I was staying until even darker, 8:30. They turn on the light, but I make sure, you know, feel correct my proper shot made it, and then I left like maybe last one of the person on the driving range.
Q. Finally, everyone is really bundled up on this course. I notice you're in a skirt and not wearing very much. How do you stay warm out there?
HEE YOUNG PARK: This skirt actually work really very well because very thick. Looks like, Oh, my god. This is short.
But really thick winter skirt, and then Under Armour stuff on the bottom.
So wind pretty much protect and it's warm. So it worked pretty good. Everyone say, Oh, you're not cold?
Q. We were wondering the same. What do you do tonight heading into tomorrow? You in a great position.
HEE YOUNG PARK: Pretty much the same. Just enjoy, eat dinner. Obviously right outside of the entrance I have the Korea market, so I always get like Korea food. I'm staying at a rental house this week so cooking every night, so I'm going to probably do same thing.
All the same.