Rolex Rankings No. 4, Suzann Pettersen, -5
Rolex Rankings No. 13, Michelle Wie, -4
Rolex Rankings No. 58, Caroline Masson, -4
Rolex Rankings No. 129, Christina Kim, -4
Rolex Rankings No. 530, Cydney Clanton, -4
Rolex Rankings No. 1, Inbee Park, E
Rolex Rankings No. 4 Suzann Pettersen used a pair of birdies on two of her final three holes to take a one-shot lead at the North Texas LPGA Shootout. Pettersen finished with a bogey-free 5-under 66 in the first round and leads a group of six players who are tied for second at 4-under par. The group consists of a mix of multiple-time LPGA winners and up and coming talent as Cristie Kerr, Michelle Wie, Christina Kim, Dori Carter, Caroline Masson and Cydney Clanton are all one-shot back.
Pettersen, who made her return last week after a four-week hiatus due to a back injury, said she felt good on Thursday but was a bit tense to start.
“I feel good,” said Pettersen. “I mean very patient. Just really just trying to enjoy being back. I gotta kind of pace myself a little bit. I can’t do too much early in the week. So I have a lot of spare time to fool around with. Just playing good. Hitting the ball great. Today I was actually feeling a little bit tense to start, which is a good sign. So nice to be back.”
Pettersen finished T28 last week in San Francisco and said she had no idea what shape her game would be in when she started back up.
“I was prepared it was going to take a while, because the pain was very similar to what I had 10 years ago,” said Pettersen. “But you try not to be stupid. You try and learn from your past and learn from experience. And it happens. I mean that it happened then, I mean it’s never good timing, but hopefully it’s back in good shape and we’ll hold up.”
Michelle Wie, who clinched her third LPGA victory two weeks ago in Hawaii, had four birdies, two birdies and an eagle on the 10th hole in her round of 67.
“It was a fun day out there today,” said Wie. “You know, I love my playing partners. Good crowd. A little bit cold in the morning, but happy with my round. I started off hot, and then I had a little three putt, just couldn’t get anything going after that, but you know, the eagle is always nice.”
Defending champion and Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park and No. 3 Stacy Lewis both opened with even-par 71 and sit in a T35 and five shots back.
“I think any under par round on this golf course is great, and it’s nice that I made the putt on the last hole,” Wie said. “And I’m real excited for the next three days. Hopefully I can do more of those.”
While Wie has been enjoying her steady play on the course, she has also been enjoying the local cuisine off of it.
“It might be ribs every night. I did ribs last night again. And I’m definitely probably going to make another appearance at another rib place this week,” Wie said. “Maybe sprinkle in a couple of Tex Mex joints, but it’s a good eating week for sure.”
Wie has statistically been stellar this season and leads the Tour in greens in regulation (79%) and rounds under par (27) and tops the Official Money List with $651,812.
YADA YADA YADA
Christina Kim sits in a tie for second thanks to an opening round 67 (-4), her lowest round since the first round of the 2013 Evian Championship.
“I just played steady,” Kim said. “I don’t think I missed a green today. I missed a bunch of putts, to be honest, coming in. But you know, I struck the ball really well and just kept the ball in front of me and was able to find it after every swing, so that’s really all you can ask for.”
After missing her first cut of the season last week, in her home state of California, Kim took a unique approach to
resting up and getting ready for this week’s tournament in North Texas.
“I watched a lot of “Seinfeld,” and I was a bit under the weather, so I really just kind of focused on just getting healthier,” Kim explained. “And you know, it’s bound to happen. I’ve come off a couple of poor years. I’ve been stricken with injuries and I’m finally healthy and happy again.”
The two-time LPGA tour winner is trying to break back into the winner’s circle for the first time since the 2005 The Mitchell Company Tournament of Champions.
MASSON FINDING HER COMFORT ZONE IN TEXAS
Caroline Masson has been expanding her comfort zone in her second year on Tour and the German is playing off of some good memories she has from playing well at Las Colinas Country Club last year. Masson shot 64 in the first round and led the field after 36 holes as rookie. She was two shots off third-round leader Carlota Ciganda heading into the final round but faltered with a 75 to finish T15.
Coming into this week, she knew she had the game to go low at the Irving-based course but knows it can also cause her problems.
“You know, on one hand I know I can go low here and shoot a good score,” said Masson. “On the other hand, I kind of feel like I want to make up for the last round last year. It’s positive memories, though. I mean I’m it was a great week for me last year, you know, just to really get going, and that last round, yeah, I mean it’s always it’s never nice to shoot a bad last round. But I don’t have it in my head too much.”
Masson says she feels more comfortable overall in her second year on Tour and hopes to follow up a strong rookie campaign which she finished just one point short from winning the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year.
“Way easier,” said Masson. “I know the courses and so I’m a little more relaxed. I can maybe take a day off if I want to. I don’t have to play all those practice rounds and stuff. And playing pro ams it a little easier, too. Just feeling more comfortable and getting maybe a little more respect from the other players, too, you know. Just makes you feel a little more accepted.”
She has three top-20 finishes this season including a season-best T11 at the season’s first major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
DEFENDING CHAMP BATTLES TO EVEN PAR ROUND
Defending North Texas LPGA Shootout champion and Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park sits five strokes back of the lead after firing an even par 71 on her opening round.
“I hit it into the water once today, and I hit it out of bounds once today,” Park explained. “It was just one of those kind of days. Nothing went really wrong, but just a couple of bad shots that really penalized me today, so yeah, I feel like I didn’t play that well, but just a couple of bad shots. That’s all.”
Park’s scorecard featured four birdies but they were countered by a pair of bogeys and a double. Park was three back of the lead after her first round last year. Despite the up-an-down round the defending champ won’t likely go down without a fight.
“I mean I didn’t shoot right numbers today, but I still have three more days, and I think there is still a lot of birdies out there, so yeah, I’ll just be patient and just wait.”
THINGS CLICKING FOR CLANTON
Third-year LPGA Tour member Cydney Clanton has been waiting for things to click in her game and said she had a blast on Thursday during the first round of the North Texas LPGA Shootout. The Rockwell, NC native said she has felt close to a breakthrough but finally saw results during her 4-under 67, the lowest round of her career.
“I’ve been really close all year,” said Clanton. “Things have been good, and other things have been bad. It was just I needed everything to click together, and today it seemed to do it.”
Clanton made her first cut of the season through her first six starts last week at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic. She said she was happy with the way she bounced back today after bogeys on her sixth and 10th holes.
“You know, I made a few errors out there, but I bounced back with two birdies,” said Clanton. “I made a lot of really good putts today and hit some really close shots today. So today overall was a great day.”
The Auburn University product was pleased with some short-term results today but also said she has her sights on a long-term goal as well. Clanton said she hopes to make it into the Tour’s events through the fall Asian swing. Today marks the first time in her career to hold a share of the lead after any round.
“At the end of the year here on the LPGA we have an Asia run, and that’s where you can play golf and just free ball it and make a lot of money out there,” said Clanton. “And so that’s kind of the goal to make it to Asia and play as good as you can out there.”
MEET THE AMATEURS:
This week’s field features four amateurs who qualified through a pair of college and high school shootout tournaments.
Maddie Szeryk led the way with a 74 (+3). Sammi Stevens shot a 76 (+5), Brittany Fan shot a 79 (+8) and Annika Clark shot 80 (+9).
Below is some more information on the qualifiers.
College Shootout Qualifiers
Sammi Stevens (Hereford, Texas/University of New Mexico)
• Celebrated her 22nd birthday on Wednesday; graduates from University of New Mexico with a degree in political science on May 16th
• Helped the University of New Mexico win the Mountain West Conference Championship in March and will be
playing in the NCAA West Regionals in Washington in mid-May
• Older brother, Jay, played collegiate golf at West Texas A&M
• Likes riding dirt bikes, mountain bikes, any sports and anything active
• Twitter: @SammiJoStevens
Brittany Fan (Pearl City, Hawaii/University of Colorado-Boulder)
• Took a year off after graduating high school and has taken two online classes
• Will be an incoming freshman at the University of Colorado in the fall; plans on studying business or marketing
• Older brother Michael is a sophomore on the Air Force Academy golf team
• Practices out of Ko’Olau Golf Club in Pearl City and is coached by Kevin Ralbovsky who is also caddying for her this week
• Missed the Monday Qualifier at the LOTTE LPGA Championship two weeks ago by one shot
• Used to train vocally, took dance and piano lessons before
• Before golf, she trained vocally, took dance and piano lessons then changed her mind in 8th grade.
High School Shootout Qualifiers
Maddie Szeryk (Allen, Texas/Allen High School)
• 17 years old; senior at Allen High School; committed to Texas A&M University
• Won the Texas 5A State Championship on Tuesday. Finished in the top-3 the past three seasons
• Coached by Justin Pointer out of the Jim McClean Golf Center in Fort Worth
• Plans on studying business in college
• Loves to shop and hang out with her friends
• Is a big fan of Lexi Thompson, Stacy Lewis and Jessica Korda
• Will be attending her senior prom this Saturday
• Twitter: @mszeryk
Annika Clark (Highlands, Texas/Pasadena First Baptist Christian Academy)
• 16 year old; junior at Pasadena First Baptist Christian Academy; committed to Texas Christian University
• Also plays on her high school softball, currently in the playoffs
• Coached by Art Scarborough and plays out of Golfcrest Country Club
• Would like to study either sports medicine or broadcast journalism
• Favorite band is The Band Perry
• Lists qualifying for the North Texas LPGA Shootout as her biggest accomplishment
• Twitter: @AnniLexi
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“You try not to be stupid. You try and learn from your past and learn from experience.”
–Suzann Pettersen on playing coming off of her back injury
Q. Suzann, strong finish. How are you feeling?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I feel good. I mean very patient. Just really just trying to enjoy being back.
I gotta kind of pace myself a little bit. I can't do too much early in the week. So I have a lot of spare time to fool around with.
Just playing good. Hitting the ball great. Today I was actually feeling a little bit tense to start, which is a good sign. So nice to be back.
Q. And you say go easy, you mean golf wise or gym wise or both?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah. I really can't go hit balls on the range. I play whatever I need to play and then just try to give my body a little bit of break.
Q. Any new hobbies? What have you been doing in your spare time?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Hobbies, I watch pretty much a lot of TV. I've gone through a couple of TV shows.
Just really trying to take all the advice that I've been given, resting up. There's not much more I've been doing.
Yeah, body feels okay. It's been a little bit achy early this week. So taking it a little bit careful. But last week was nice to be back. It's always tough when you come back from something like that when you're so out of play. You're not even close to be playing. And then next thing you know the pain is gone and you can start hitting balls, and to bring back the mentality straightaway, I mean you just, for the most part just happy to be back.
Q. Did you think it was going to take longer, shorter to get back? Were you a little nervous or you had no expectations at all?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah. I was prepared it was going to take a while, because the pain was very similar to what I had 10 years ago. But you try not to be stupid. You try and learn from your past and learn from experience. And it happens. I mean that it happened then, I mean it's never good timing, but hopefully it's back in good shape and we'll hold up.
Q. How close are you to 100 percent, do you think? Doesn't sound like you feel like you're there yet?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: No, I'm not. Very close as I get payments ‑‑ I got treatment every day, needles and all taped up.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah. A lot of acupuncture. I respond good to that.
No, pretty much very happy.
Q. Anything about the round that stuck out? Any of the birdies?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: No. Just very patient. A lot of great tee balls, gave a lot of good putts. Gave a lot of looks. No, just really tried to play the course, what it gave us.
Q. Wind play a factor at all in the afternoon?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: It died down a little bit on the last couple of holes, but after seeing the first couple of days earlier in the week, I mean you expect it to be a little bit gusty.
Q. With this you might not want to practice anymore now?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: No. I'm going straight home now.
Q. All right. We're here with Michelle Wie, opening round 67, 4‑under par, tied for the lead. Talk us through your day.
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, it was a fun day out there today. You know, I love my playing partners. Good crowd. A little bit cold in the morning, but happy with my round.
Q. You started off with two birdies in your first three holes, kind of gave a couple back, and then you had that eagle on 10. Can you talk about that?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah. You know, I started off hot, and then I had a little three‑putt, just couldn't get anything going after that, but you know, the eagle is always nice.
Q. And then ending on a high note, you stuffed it at No. 18 and then made the putt. Talk about how that kind of gives you confidence going into tomorrow.
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah. You know, I think any under‑par round on this golf course is great, and it's nice that I made the putt on the last hole.
And I'm real excited for the next three days. Hopefully I can do more of those.
Q. And then finally I know you were talking in the media center about looking forward to some of those Texas eateries. Have you gotten to hit any of those up and any more plans for the rest of the week?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah. Oh, yeah. It'll be probably ‑‑ it might be ribs every night. I did ribs last night again. And I'm definitely probably going to make another appearance at another rib place this week.
Maybe sprinkle in a couple of Tex‑Mex joints, but it's a good eating week for sure.
Q. The scorer even said you missed a couple of short ones? You left a couple out there?
CAROLINE MASSON: Not really. No, I didn't miss any short ones. I hit pretty much every putt, except for that last one. It was really good and had a good chance to go in.
I hit them really close. I didn't have to work hard for the birdies, especially on my front nine, the back nine. You know, kept making good strokes, and finally one fell in on 7. So that was nice. It was very solid.
Q. How long was that one?
CAROLINE MASSON: I would say ‑‑ we're in feet; right? I'm screwed now.
Q. You can say it in meters.
CAROLINE MASSON: Yeah. I would say like six, seven meters, something like that. So it was nice to see one go in.
Q. All right. So sticking is close, your approach shot has been solid the past couple events.
CAROLINE MASSON: Yeah. Really good iron shots. Pretty much I just hit one bad drive on 1 and made a really good par there. So it feels good. You know, I'm pretty confident. I have good memories from last year. I had a good first round here. So it's a lot of fun.
Q. I was going to say, scored very well last year. Just a bad final round.
CAROLINE MASSON: Yeah, exactly.
Q. Is it good to come back to somewhere where you know you can go low? Obviously it's a good thing?
CAROLINE MASSON: Yeah. I think so. You know, on one hand I know I can go low here and shoot a good score. On the other hand, I kind of feel like I want to make up for the last round last year.
Q. Sure. Yeah.
CAROLINE MASSON: It's positive memories, though. I mean I'm ‑‑ it was a great week for me last year, you know, just to really get going, and that last round, yeah, I mean it's always ‑‑ it's never nice to shoot a bad last round. But I don't have it in my head too much.
Q. Sure, sure. What about this season you've had some pretty good finishes, trying to break through some really top ones. Overall thoughts on season so far, about a third of the way through.
CAROLINE MASSON: Yeah. I mean the start wasn't very good. Singapore, Thailand was pretty poor. And I just worked hard, saw my coach, and you know, just kept like patient and just worked hard.
And ever since I really hit the ball really well, and I was just struggling in the first two rounds the last few tournaments. You know, just couldn't score, and you know, maybe the mindset just wasn't right. But I just try to play a little more aggressive now, especially in the first two rounds, and looks like it's paying off now. But overall it was a good start to the season, and you know, a few good finishes, and I'm hitting it well, so I'm pretty confident.
Q. Where are you based out of now? Do you go back to Germany on breaks?
CAROLINE MASSON: No. That's another thing I changed. I got a place in Orlando. So it makes it a little easier, you know, the travel, especially this year with the schedule being even fuller.
Q. Sure, sure. Tight. Yeah.
CAROLINE MASSON: It's really nice to go back home to Orlando. It's not so far.
Q. Right. Have your own bed to actually sleep in.
CAROLINE MASSON: Yeah. It's awesome. I love it there.
Q. Where in Orlando?
CAROLINE MASSON: See, I'm not that good about it now, but it's really close to the airport. So very convenient. Yeah, it's like a new subdivision, apartment. So it was a lot of fun, you know, like getting all the furniture and all that stuff.
Q. Yeah, yeah. When did you move there?
CAROLINE MASSON: I mean just after Singapore, yeah.
Q. Okay. So you got the place and kind of ‑‑
CAROLINE MASSON: Yeah. I was only there for three weeks so far. Yeah, but got all the stuff, and you know, it feels good coming there, and yeah, it was a good decision for sure.
Q. Yeah. I can't even imagine.
CAROLINE MASSON: Don't get to go home much.
Q. Yeah, I was going to say, when was the last time you were back in Germany?
CAROLINE MASSON: I went home after Singapore for just a few days because I had to do some stuff. Still, you gotta go home sometimes, sponsors and all that kind of stuff.
It's fun. I'm hoping to maybe go home after the British.
Q. Okay. Yeah. You're kind of right there. Well, a little closer.
CAROLINE MASSON: Yeah.
Q. What about just second year, feeling just more comfortable? Obviously you had a great rookie year, but things are a little different. You know how things are working, that makes it easier.
CAROLINE MASSON: Exactly. Way easier. I know the courses and so I'm a little more relaxed. I can maybe take a day off if I want to. I don't have to play all those practice rounds and stuff. And playing pro ams it a little easier, too.
Yeah, you know, just feeling more comfortable and getting maybe a little more respect from the other players, too, you know. Just makes you feel a little more accepted.
Q. You're a sophomore now.
CAROLINE MASSON: Yeah. It's always easier the second year I guess.
Q. I am now joined by Christina Kim, just posted a 4‑under 67 at the North Texas LPGA Shootout. Co‑leader in the clubhouse, Christina, really fast start, three birdies in your first five holes. Talk about the quick start today.
CHRISTINA KIM: Yeah. You know, I started off with a birdie on the first, and you can't birdie them all unless you birdie the first. Started birdie, par, birdie, par, birdie, I think. I can't remember exactly what, but I was like, well, at this rate, you know, I have a sneaky look at 9‑under.
But you know, just played steady. I don't think I missed a green today. I missed a bunch of putts, to be honest, coming in. But you know, I struck the ball really well and just kept the ball in front of me and was able to find it after every swing, so that's really all you can ask for.
Q. Very good. Missed cut last week. Did you do any regrouping and what was the game plan coming into this week?
CHRISTINA KIM: I watched a lot of "Seinfeld," and I was a bit under the weather, so I really just find of focused on just getting healthier.
And you know, it's bound to happen. I've come off a couple of poor years. I've been stricken with injuries and I'm finally healthy and happy again.
So there was a lot of pressure on me being home last week, having it be my hometown event, and Lake Merced was such an incredible golf course, and it just took a toll on me. But you know, I mean I'm just so excited to be here, and I have a lot of great memories here in North Texas, and it's just awesome to be out here.
Q. What about this course? You played fairly well here last year. Talk about what you like and how it sets up for your game.
CHRISTINA KIM: I love that you have to have a lot of creativity around this course. You can't necessarily just aim for the center of the fairway and expect it to finish there. You know, hole 14, number 1, 15, they are very challenging holes and they require a lot of creativity and a lot of patience because you might end up in a good spot, all of a sudden you're behind a tree or you just roll out through the fairway, and you know, we all have to take our licks, and I love the fact that you have to create shots out here, and I love that.
Angela Stanford, Brittany Lang, they both grew up here and they're great examples of people that can really carve shots that you really don't see with a lot of the younger generation.
Q. Absolutely. Now, I know a lot of the LPGA players these past two weeks have been getting their baseball fixes in. You had, I think ‑‑ somebody said you said it was the best night of your life at the Giants game.
CHRISTINA KIM: Yes.
Q. Talk about that experience. What an awesome night.
CHRISTINA KIM: You know, even though I'm have San Jose, I had never gone to see the Giants or any other baseball team live, so I was able to go to AT&T Park and be a part of the whole experience.
You know, I was there with Michelle Wie, Paula Creamer, Juli Inkster and Brittany Lincicome, and we were down on the field. I stole a pinch of the dirt just so I could have it with me. It was the greatest night ever.
I had owner's seats. We were in a luxury suite. Like they did such an incredible job. And then the Giants went on a run of winning three nights in a row, and then Monday happened, but whatever, but then they won again last night.
So it's been a great week; and you know, everything's been so awesome. This season has been so many positive things with the LPGA between Paula Creamer winning earlier this year, Michelle Wie back winning and not finishing outside the Top‑25 since September of last year. There's so many wonderful positive things about this tour, it's just so exciting to be a part of it.
Q. I'm now joined by Cydney Clanton. Just shot a 67 here at the North Texas LPGA shootout. Cydney, clubhouse leader, tied for the lead right now. Quick start for you, three birdies in your first five holes. Talk about the quick start today.
CYDNEY CLANTON: You know, it was a good start. It was a good start. And I was in the bunker on the first hole and made up‑and‑down, made a long putt on the first hole, and that kind of was the momentum. You know, to make a good putt on the first hole kind of gets you rolling.
I then hit a really good shot, had a short putt on my next birdie and made it and just kind of went from there. I was just feeling it. As I said, it's always nice to have a long putt that you make on the first hole. It just gives you some momentum going forward.
Q. Sure. Your first time here at this course at Las Colinas. What are your thoughts and how is your game suiting up for this track?
CYDNEY CLANTON: It's a good golf course, and it sets up well for me. I hit it pretty far, and so there's quite a few holes that are to my advantage.
It wasn't as windy as it has been the last few days, but the wind played a factor coming in, and so that was definitely an advantage for me in that I didn't have (inaudible) as some of the other girls might have.
Q. You made your first cut last week in San Francisco. You said you had some struggles but things are starting to click. Just talk about your game and where it's at right now.
CYDNEY CLANTON: You know, all year, I've been really close all year. Things have been good, and other things have been bad. It was just I needed everything to click together, and today it seemed to do it.
You know, I made a few errors out there, but I bounced back with two birdies. I made a lot of really good putts today and hit some really close shots today. So today overall was a great day.
Q. Second year on tour. I know you had your rookie season. You got a couple of events under your belt. What were the goals coming into this year? Did you have your eye set on certain events or what were you looking for during your second year?
CYDNEY CLANTON: You know, at the end of the year here on the LPGA we have an Asia run, and that's where you can play golf and just free ball it and make a lot of money out there. And so that's kind of the goal to make it to Asia and play as good as you can out there.
Q. Defending champion, Inbee Park. Inbee, even‑par round today. Kind of walk us through it.
INBEE PARK: I mean I birdied the first hole and then I had a bad No. 3 hole.
I hit it into the water once today, and I hit it out of bounds once today.
It was just one of those kind of days. Nothing went really wrong, but just a couple of bad shots that really penalized me today, so yeah, I feel like I didn't play that well, but just a couple of bad shots. That's all.
Q. To score even par, sitting only four back of the lead currently, you have to feel pretty good about your chances going forward.
INBEE PARK: I mean, yeah, I couldn't do anything today. I mean I didn't shoot right numbers today, but I still have three more days, and I think there is still a lot of birdies out there, so yeah, I'll just be patient and just wait.