Manulife Financial LPGA Classic Wednesday Pre-Tournament Notes and Interviews

Hee Young Park
Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images

Hee Young Park of South Korea reacts to her par on the third green during the fourth round of the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic at the Grey Silo Golf Course in Waterloo, Canada.

Manulife Financial LPGA Classic
Grey Silo Golf Course
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday Pre-Tournament Notes
June 4, 2014


Rolex Rankings No. 1 Stacy Lewis
Rolex Rankings No. 2 Inbee Park
Rolex Rankings No. 328 Brooke Henderson

Could the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic really go three for three on playoffs?
Wild playoff finishes have come to define this event the first two years. The inaugural event saw a spectacular four-player playoff between Brittany Lang, Chella Choi, Inbee Park and Hee Kyung Seo go three holes, but three straight birdies of the 18th sealed the victory up for Lang - her first win on tour.

Hee Young Park returns as defending champion after making birdie on the 18th to force a playoff a year ago, then birdied the par-5 18th three consecutive times to edge Angela Stanford. Park’s 26-under four-day total tied the LPGA record. Both Park and Lang are in the field this week looking to become the first multiple winner of this event.

With the stadium setup coming down the 18th and one of the biggest crowds on the LPGA Tour each year, the stage is set for another spectacular finish of the third edition.

BIRDIES!
Players this week are well aware of the scoreable conditions this week at Grey Silo Golf Course and that birdie chances will be aplenty. Winning scores the first two years of the event were 16-under par by Brittany Lang in 2012 and 26-under par by Hee Young Park a year ago. Park and Angela Stanford finished the final round at 26-under par and tied the lowest 72-hole raw score in LPGA Tour history. Karen Stupples posted a four-day total of 258 at the 2004 Welch’s/Fry’s Championship. Stacy Lewis thrives in tough scoring conditions but has no problem in the birdie department. Lewis leads the Tour in birdies this season (209) and finished the past two seasons atop the statistical category with 422 in 2013 and 362 in 2012.

“I’ve come here the last few years and played really well,” said Lewis. “I think, you know, it’s a golf course you’ve got to make a ton of birdies on. And I led the Tour in birdies last year and I think I lead that stat again this year, so I think that it fits my game. You’ve got to go out there and you’ve got to attack, you’ve got to make as many birdies as you can. This golf course, length is always an advantage. The par 5s are reachable, and I think this year it will be even more of an advantage with the course playing a little bit softer.”

World No. 2 Inbee Park has seen her fair share of birdies over the past two years and finished ranked 3rd on Tour in 2012 and 2013. Park said playing on courses with scoring chances adds a bit of extra pressure, knowing that she needs to capitalize on the opportunities.

“I think there’s definitely a lot of opportunity and a lot of birdies out there,” said Park. “Even though you’ve got to keep trying, push yourself to make birdies and birdies, just keep birdie. You’ve got to birdie every one here. I think it’s always fun when you’re scoring really well and you’re making a lot of birdies. Just got to try to avoid the mistakes and go as low as everybody else does.”


ALL STILL THE SAME
Inbee Park woke up on Monday morning feeling like exactly the same person. Now with a No. 2 next to her name on the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings, the 25-year old said the bump down doesn’t change much for her.

“I knew probably Sunday after I played that after Stacy’s win, won the tournament that it was going to change,” said Park. “I mean, the rankings, I’m the No. 2 right now and my life didn’t change. I’m just still doing the same thing, doing my routine, practice round, pro am, playing again. Yeah, it’s just numbers, but my life is the same life.”

Park has yet to break into the winner’s circle this season and already had two victories at this point a year ago. The South Korean said the rankings reshuffle might be some added motivation she’s been looking for.

“Yeah, I think so,” said Park. “I think I needed some kind of a motivation again because I really haven’t won after last summer, so I definitely need to step it up and try to win some more tournaments definitely. Otherwise it’s just a matter of time that it’s going to change anyway. Hopefully now I can play later in the season and hopefully I’ll be back there again.”

Park finished tied for 14th last season in Waterloo and runner-up in the event’s inaugural year in 2012. She said she feels comfortable at Grey Silo Golf Course and likes to ride the energy from the sizeable crowds in Waterloo.

“Like every time we come to Canada it seems like we get quite good crowd and looks like they love golf here so it’s good that we get a lot of support from people,” said Park. “When you have that many people cheering and that many people watching us play, I think that definitely helps you drive the ball better, putt better. Definitely very good environment. It’s going to be another fun week and hopefully a lot more, more than last year, many people come watch us.”


RAISING THE COMFORT LEVEL
Canadian amateur Brooke Henderson feels like a different person walking onto the grounds of Grey Silo Golf Course compared to when she did at her first LPGA tournament at the 2012 CN Canadian Women’s Open. Henderson will be making her sixth LPGA Tour start this week in Waterloo and the 16-year old from Smith Falls, Ont. said she’s starting to feel like she belongs at these events.

“Confidence is a big thing,” said Henderson. “There I was pretty nervous and really intimidated by the professionals, being 14 and pretty young, naive. But now I’ve gotten to know them a little bit better. I know their names, they know me, which is awesome. Just being able to play with them and know that my game is right there and hopefully next couple years even better.”

Henderson said one player made her feel right at home when she was on the range at the Kraft Nabisco Championship in April.

“Even at the Kraft Michelle Wie’s walking on the range and she came over and gave me a big hug and I’m like, ‘wow, this is pretty cool,’” said Henderson. “So definitely not as star struck as I once was.”
Henderson missed her first two cuts at LPGA events at the 2012 and 2013 CN Canadian Women’s Open but has made the cut in her last three including two at majors (2013 Manulife Financial LPGA Classic- T35; 2013 U.S. Women’s Open Championship – T59; 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship- T26). The teen said she hasn’t set her sights on any specific goals for the week but said she’d like to make the cut first.

“Yeah, it’s fun,” said Henderson. “I love being at LPGA Tour events because there’s always that big hype and a lot of attention, but I know once Thursday starts you need a lot of focus and you need to play your own game to play well. Hopefully I’ll make the cut this week and have a little more attention.”

LOGOED PRIDE
Stacy Lewis can be mentioned as one of the more business-savvy players on the LPGA Tour and the University of Arkansas graduate says she loves being involved in the business part of the game of golf. Lewis signed a sponsorship deal with Manulife Financial this past February and said that the involvement and reach of the company was what attracted her to the partnership. She now dons the Manulife logo on the side of her hat.

“Yeah, the logo going on the hat has been a long time in the making,” said Lewis. “I came here two years ago for the first media day we actually had and I was shocked by the number of people that
came out. I mean, it was one of the biggest media days I’ve ever been to and especially for a first year event.”

Lewis said the relationship is more of a family feel and that she genuinely feels cared about by all parties with her sponsors.

“We’ve kind of been working on it for a couple years,” said Lewis. “But I’m so excited. I’ve met so many great people with the company, that more than anything, and that’s what I’ve been fortunate with all of my sponsors. They’re people that, yeah, they want me to play good golf, but they’re also there to take care of me. Just great people. And, you know, the fans at this golf tournament support this area and this community like crazy. So there is a sense of pride coming here and wearing that logo, and hopefully I represent them pretty well this week.”

AMERICAN NO. 1
If Lewis can hold on to the top spot this week after the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic, she’ll become just the second American player to hold the No. 1 ranking in the Rolex Ranking heading into a U.S. Women’s Open Championship. Cristie Kerr held the top spot for three weeks from June 28 – July 18 in 2010 and was the top player in the world when the championship was held at Oakmont Country Club.

Lewis said being the top player in the world during her own national championship would be a big deal to her but at the end of the day, she’s there to claim her third major championship. Lewis already has the Kraft Nabisco Championship and the RICOH Women’s British Open Championship under her belt and the Texan would love to add the Harton S. Semple Trophy to her trophy case.

“I mean, that would mean a lot just to go there and, you know, more than anything going into the U.S. Open playing well,” said Lewis. “You know, playing well and on a golf course that I’m really excited to play. Got to play it a couple weeks ago and I really think it’s going to fit my game pretty well. More than anything I’m excited to go in there playing well. And as I said, the rankings and everything are pretty cool, but that’s not - I play golf to take trophies home at the end of the week.”


QUOTE OF THE DAY
“Sunday last week, the nerves were there initially, but then once we got going I felt like if I did if I took care of my game, there’s no way anybody was going to beat me.”
-Stacy Lewis on her confidence in her game.

 

STACY LEWIS                   

MODERATOR:  All right.  I'd like to welcome world No. 1 Stacy Lewis to the interview room.  Does hearing that ever get old?

STACY LEWIS:  It doesn't.  You know, it's been a pretty -- it's been a pretty cool week, pretty whirlwind couple of days.  It was nice to get the win last week and get to No. 1 was just a bonus.

MODERATOR:  How long does it take you, you know, after a round, you've obviously gotten pretty used to this, text messages and calls.  I mean, how overwhelming is that after?

STACY LEWIS:  It's very overwhelming.  I still haven't gone through everything in my phone yet.  I had an outing on Monday, just all the travel and all that, I haven't really had time to settle down.  I've been trying to practice yet still get some sleep, so that all might have to wait until next week.

MODERATOR:  A tied for fifth and a tied for sixth here the previous two years.  Kind of what's your game going into this golf course.  You're obviously playing really well.  Is this the year you're going to win here and how does this course fit your game?

STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, you know, I've come here the last few years and played really well.  I think, you know, it's a golf course you've got to make a ton of birdies on.  And I led the Tour in birdies last year and I think I lead that stat again this year, so I think that it fits my game.  You've got to go out there and you've got to attack, you've got to make as many birdies as you can.  This golf course, length is always an advantage.  The par 5s are reachable, and I think this year it will be even more of an advantage with the course playing a little bit softer.  You know, I would love to get another win, but at the same time I've got to keep putting myself there on Sunday and hopefully the cards fall your way.

MODERATOR:  Obviously the U.S. Open is in two weeks.  You have a chance to go in as the second person ever to be No. 1 as an American going into that event.  How special would that be going into kind of your home country's event as No. 1 in the world?

STACY LEWIS:  I mean, that would mean a lot just to go there and, you know, more than anything going into the U.S. Open playing well.  You know, playing well and on a golf course that I'm really excited to play.  Got to play it a couple weeks ago and I really think it's going to fit my game pretty well.  More than anything I'm excited to go in there playing well.  And as I said, the rankings and everything are pretty cool, but that's not -- I play golf to take trophies home at the end of the week.

MODERATOR:  Why does that golf course fit your game so well, do you think?

STACY LEWIS:  You know, I think at the end of the week at the U.S. Open, even par or over par's probably going to end up winning.  It's going to play hard.  It's a golf course you've got to think your way around.  You have to plot and you can't hit one golf shot.  You can't just hit a draw or you can't just hit a fade.  You've got to be able to hit a lot of different shots, so I think that suits my game pretty well.

MODERATOR:  I'll open it up for questions.

Q.  What's the confidence level at right now?  Obviously you're the No. 1 player in the world, you won last week.  You just must be feeling great coming into the tournament this week.

STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, I do.  Coming off a win, there's always that high and the hardest part is to -- is to maintain it.  You can kind of get a little bit complacent and not prepare the same and thinking, oh, everything is okay.  So I really just, I've tried to stay in my routine this week and keep practicing hard, but the confidence is there.  I feel like over the last year I've put myself in position to win so many times that I'm very comfortable there.  You know, I wouldn't say it gets easier but I would say you definitely get more comfortable.  Sunday last week, the nerves were there initially, but then once we got going I felt like if I did -- if I took care of my game, there's no way anybody was going to beat me.

Q.  You see the scores that won last year and you're saying this is a golf course you can really attack it, but is there a fear of maybe getting too aggressive on it?

STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, I think certain holes you have to be careful on.  Certain holes, certain hole locations you have to be careful on, but for the most part the greens are rolling really well.  And obviously the golf course, I mean, you can make a ton of birdies on it.  I don't think there's too much of a fear of being too aggressive.  There's just certain hole locations you have to be a little bit more careful with than others.

Q.  Stacy, I know in Dallas you said one of your goals was to get a runaway win.  Six-shot win, you follow up with your second win, six-shot win.  We keep talking about confidence.  What do those two wins both coming with six shots mean to you?

STACY LEWIS:  Well, Dallas meant a lot.  Just the way I started out the year kind of finishing second a couple times and being so close, so Dallas meant a lot to go out there.  I was very determined that day to win it and I think that's why that one was six shots.  Last week I was excited going into Sunday that it was windy because I knew that that would fit my game a little bit better.  And then the way I played on the back nine was probably what I'm most proud of.  I should have birdied 9 last week, and I made putts on 10, 11 and 13 all for birdies.  Those are kind of things in the middle of the back nine that you have to do to win and that's what I did.  That was a little bit closer than six, you know, all day and kind of got a lot there at the end, but just to -- anytime you go out there and win it instead of stumbling into it or somebody faltering at the end, anytime you go out there and win it, you get a lot more confidence out of that.

Q.  Take us through, I know you just recently announced as a sponsorship Manulife as another title sponsor for you.  Talk about that relationship, how that started, and if there's any more of a double sense of pride coming into an event with a logo on your apparel.

STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, the logo going on the hat has been a long time in the making.  I came here two years ago for the first media day we actually had and I was shocked by the number of people that came out.  I mean, it was one of the biggest media days I've ever been to and especially for a first-year event.  It's been a long time in the making.  We've kind of been working on it for a couple years.  But I'm so excited.  They're just such -- I've met so many great people with the company, that more than anything, and that's what I've been fortunate with all of my sponsors.  They're people that, yeah, they want me to play good golf, but they're also there to take care of me.  Just great people.  And, you know, the fans at this golf tournament support this area and this community like crazy.  So there is a sense of pride coming here and wearing that logo, and hopefully I represent them pretty well this week.

Q.  Talk a little bit more about maybe that atmosphere down by 18 and by the scoring area.  People say it might rival championships.  Said first year, second year, what an event to have that much support.  Talk about that a little bit.

STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, we come to Canada now twice a year and honestly probably some of our biggest crowds are at these two events and it's really unbelievable.  This is not -- you know, we're outside Toronto pretty far so it's just amazing how the people come out.  The scene at 18 I think is unlike any other tournament we have.  The way all the birdies, the par 5 finishing hole, it just sets up for drama and you had that the last two years.  So coming into that big stadium finish, and this year with the white stands it makes it look even cooler, I think.  It's unlike any other finishing hole that we have on tour.

Q.  I've never heard anybody say before they like the wind on Sunday and that's what you just came out with.  This course, probably the biggest challenge is the wind.  So is that a good thing that you maybe played in those conditions last week and so it maybe helped prepare you for what could be a pretty gusty couple of days here in Waterloo?

STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, I would much rather play a golf course when it's playing hard than when it's playing easy.  You know, what surprised me actually the last two years is that I have played well here because I don't like courses that are just a straight birdie-fest to go crazy.  I like it when it's hard, you've got to hit golf shots and things like that.  So the wind this year I'm actually pretty excited about.  I am excited that it's going to play longer.  It's not playing as short as it has in years past so it's going to play longer, it's going to play harder and I'm excited about that.  That gets me excited.  I don't know about the other players, but I like it when you have to kind of hit shots into the wind and keep it low, keep them high, whatever it is.  I like being creative and hitting different types of shots, so that's why I'm excited when it gets hard. 

MODERATOR:  All right, Stacy.  Thanks for coming in.

STACY LEWIS:  Thank you.

 

INBEE PARK                      

MODERATOR:  I would like to welcome in Rolex Rankings No. 2 Inbee Park into the media centre here at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic.  Inbee, thanks for coming in.  I know the story lines are there with the No. 2 and I'm sure you didn't feel any different Monday morning, did you, when it came out?

INBEE PARKYeah, I mean, it was -- I knew probably Sunday after I played that after Stacy's win, won the tournament that it was going to change.  I mean, the rankings, I'm the No. 2 right now and my life didn't change.  I'm just still doing the same thing, doing my routine, practice round, pro-am, playing again.  Yeah, it's just numbers, but my life is the same life.

MODERATOR:  We're still bringing you in to talk to me.

INBEE PARKYeah.

MODERATOR:  I think it could be -- when you said it could be a good thing once people maybe start coming in and out and you said at some point this season you thought it could change.  Does that keep you on your toes a little bit?  You think that just proves that it gives you a little motivation?

INBEE PARKYeah, I think so.  I think I needed some kind of a motivation again because I really haven't won after last year's -- last summer, so I definitely need to step it up and try to win some more tournaments definitely.  Otherwise it's just a matter of time that it's going to change anyway.  Yeah, hopefully now I can play later in the season and hopefully I'll be back there again.

MODERATOR:  What do you think that whole stretch, what were you most proud of?  I know Stacy even commented on how you handled things and how you handled the craziness.  I think last year here I think it was two hours with media requests.  But looking back on that stretch, what were you most proud of how you handled that run?

INBEE PARKI think just about everything, you know, how I played, how I putted, how I handled the pressure, how I deal with the media.  Just everything.  I was just a rookie and I was still learning.  I think I was pretty good as a rookie.  Everybody's going to be a rookie, you know, in the spotlight the first time.  I feel like I got my experience there and I'm going to try hard to step back in there again.

MODERATOR:  Now, Stacy said she said she loves playing with you, you guys get along great, people try to pit you against each other.  Do you think it's helpful that you guys get along and it can be a friendly rivalry instead of a heated, kind of crazy one?

INBEE PARKYeah.  My personality and stuff, I'm not so much heated personality person so I probably wouldn't get heated with anyone.  So yeah, with Stacy I love playing with her and she's a great player and she definitely deserves to be up there.  I knew that at some point she was going to get there, and hopefully by at the end of the year I can get it back.  That will be my main goal.  But I think she will definitely enjoy her time there and I think she will handle it great.

MODERATOR:  Now, you've been playing very well this season by any means.  You said you felt good about your game even though you didn't win yet.  Last week you had a tied for 8th finish bouncing off of a missed cut.  What were you working on and what were you concentrating on things to get back on track after that missed cut?

INBEE PARK:  That Alabama tournament was a little bit weird because I was feeling so good and I was hitting the ball good, putting so well in that two weeks off break and I got on the tournament when it started and nothing seems to be working again.  So I lost my confidence there totally and then came to Atlantic City with no confidence and tried to work on things that didn't work that last week.  Last week wasn't perfect, but it was much better than the week before obviously.  My game's not like where I want it to be usually, but I feel like it's coming around.  Last week was a little bit better ball striking, but obviously first day, you know, I felt I putted really good and then second and third day it was really frustrating putting days.  Putting has been my main issue this year.  So on the practice rounds this week I feel like I putted a little bit better and I feel like I rolled the ball a little bit straighter.  Hopefully, my goals this week will be just rolling the ball a little bit more straighter so I can make it go on line.  If it goes in, it goes in; if it doesn't, it doesn't.  But I'm just trying to roll the ball straight so I can roll the ball straight at the U.S. Open.

MODERATOR:  Just to make you feel a little bit better, your putting average is ranked first on Tour, so don't feel too bad.  Any questions for Inbee?

Q.  Could you just give us your assessment of the golf course so far?

INBEE PARKYeah, I heard that you guys had a very bad winter and very cold winter, but considering that I think the golf course is in great shape.  It's a little bit wet and a little bit softer than years before, so course is probably playing a little bit longer than couple years, but I think it's in great shape.  Last week the greens was a little bit bumpy and this year we're going to get a true (indiscernible) so that's what I'm really happy about. 

MODERATOR:  You had great finishes here, tied for 14th last year, runner-up in 2012.  What is it about this event or the course that you like so much and have succeeded pretty well on?

INBEE PARKI think there's definitely a lot of opportunity and a lot of birdies out there.  Even though you've got to keep trying, push yourself to make birdies and birdies, just keep birdie.  You've got to birdie every one here.  Yeah, I think it's always fun when you're scoring really well and you're making a lot of birdies.  Just got to try to avoid the mistakes and go as low as everybody else does.

MODERATOR:  What about the environment on the 18th green?  I asked Stacy, she said it's not really one that you see maybe outside of any major championship.  Talk about that environment, walking up there maybe on the final day or even on a Thursday.

INBEE PARK:  Yeah, like every time we come to Canada it seems like we get quite good crowd and looks like they love golf here so it's good that we get a lot of support from people.  When you have that many people cheering and that many people watching us play, I think that definitely helps you drive the ball better, putt better.  Definitely very good environment.  It's going to be another fun week and hopefully a lot more, more than last year, many people come watch us. 

MODERATOR:  Any other questions?  Well, thank you for coming in, have a great week. 

BROOKE HENDERSON    

Q.  Tell me about how the past year's been since then.  What's changed in your game, what's changed in your personal life, what's been going on?

BROOKE HENDERSON:  Well, I played in a lot more LPGA Tour events, which is great.  I played in the Kraft Nabisco earlier this year and had a good finish, so that was really a big confidence booster.  I qualified for the U.S. Open.

Q.  Congrats.  I saw that.

BROOKE HENDERSON:  Thanks.  So I'm really excited for this summer.  I'm really busy with amateur and professional events.  Hopefully --

Q.  Staying busy?

BROOKE HENDERSON:  Yes.

Q.  Your first LPGA event was what, 2012 CN?

BROOKE HENDERSON:  Yes.

Q.  Looking back to that, you've played in four since then, what's the biggest difference in your game do you think just confidence wise or technical wise?

BROOKE HENDERSON:  Confidence is a big thing.  There I was pretty nervous and really intimidated by the professionals, being 14 and pretty young, naive.  But now I've gotten to know them a little bit better.  I know their names, they know me, which is awesome.  Just being able to play with them and know that my game is right there and hopefully next couple years even better.

Q.  Talk about the comfort level, because that's probably a huge thing I know coming in as young as you were, probably a little intimidated.  Is there star struckness anymore?  You probably feel a lot more comfortable coming into a week like this?

BROOKE HENDERSON:  Yeah, for sure, definitely a lot more comfortable.  Even at the Kraft Michelle Wie's walking on the range and she came over and gave me a big hug and I'm like, wow, this is pretty cool.  So definitely not as star struck as I once was.

Q.  Kraft had to be a very big deal for you, tied for 26 finish.  Talk about that whole week and maybe what you felt was really, really working for you, what was piecing together.  Obviously playing well at a major is a very big deal.

BROOKE HENDERSON:  Yeah, ball striking was a big thing that week.  I worked a lot this winter.  Normally I take a couple months off and this winter I was like no, I'm going to go to Florida for two months and I trained.  So I didn't have that break, which I was really happy about because my game was able to stay at a high level, which is nice.  So coming into the Kraft I was more prepared.  Ball striking was better than it was the previous year.  So, I mean, ball striking was great, and I missed a couple putts on the last day that I think I could have moved up the leaderboard a little bit more but I've been working on that since.

Q.  Where were you in Florida and what went into that decision?  Was it your parents, you guys kind of decided, or how did that come about?  Obviously you said it paid off?

BROOKE HENDERSON:  Actually my sister turned pro last spring, so she was going down to live in Florida at a friend's house, so I was like, hey, can I join?

Q.  Tag along?

BROOKE HENDERSON:  Yeah.  So it was just my sister and I down there for a little while, and then my dad, who recently retired, came down, so we were able to practice and train together and it was really, really nice.

Q.  What's your sister's name and how old is she?

BROOKE HENDERSON:  Brittany Henderson and she's 23.

Q.  And then what's your dad's name?

BROOKE HENDERSON:  David.

Q.  So were you coming into that thinking, oh, I don't want to get burned out, but it all obviously worked out just as planned?

BROOKE HENDERSON:  Yeah, for sure.  I've always dreamed of having (inaudible) back up until April being in Canadian weather so it was nice to be able to practice and keep my game instead of having to work really hard in the spring to regain it.  I was able too improve and get better.

Q.  What's the schedule like now?  Still in high school.  How's school going?  Are you home schooled?

BROOKE HENDERSON:  No.

Q.  So regular school?

BROOKE HENDERSON:  Yeah.  

Q.  So how did this year go balancing Kraft and going back and forth in amateur golf?  Tell me a little bit about your schedule.

BROOKE HENDERSON:  It's pretty busy actually.  I'm missing the next three weeks of school and coming back just in time for exams, which will be fun, but my teachers are really supportive.  Actually, two of them are coming down this week to watch me play here.

Q.  So they kind of know what's going on but they'll let you go on a couple little things?

BROOKE HENDERSON:  Exactly.

Q.  You were the medalist in your qualifier for the U.S. Open.  Talk to me about that whole experience.  Obviously you've been there before but to be medalist and come out like that, that has to be good momentum and good juju going into that one.

BROOKE HENDERSON:  Yeah, for sure.  When I was 13 I was tied medalist with Annie Park in New Jersey to go to the Open, and so then this year I really wanted to get back there and play Pinehurst No. 2, which is an amazing golf course, so I was really motivated.  I knew it was going to be really difficult, especially because there's a lot of LPGA Tour players there trying to get in, so I knew I had to go low and I was able to shoot 3-under and then 1-under to finish low medalist, and really I was just happy to get a spot and medalist is just the cherry on top.

Q.  Have you been to Pinehurst?

BROOKE HENDERSON:  I have, and I played No. 2.

Q.  Okay.  When did you play there and what were your initial thoughts?

BROOKE HENDERSON:  I played last year, the North-South Amateur in July last year.  The golf course is beautiful and it fits my game pretty well.  The greens are definitely going to be the toughest part, though.  They're all sort of turtlebacks so the ball rolls off, but really it's really important just to have a good placing on tee shots.

Q.  How did you do there that week?

BROOKE HENDERSON:  That week?  Well, the first three rounds were on No. 7 and then the match play was on No. 2.  I lost in my first match.

Q.  So you have some redemption?

BROOKE HENDERSON:  Exactly.

Q.  Just off the course stuff as a 16-year old, everyone thinks you're not a totally normal 16-year old out here playing with pros.  What's the most 16-year old thing that you do off the course, whether it's listening to music, Facebook?  What's your life like that's normal for 16?

BROOKE HENDERSON:  Normal 16?

Q.  There's got to be something.

BROOKE HENDERSON:  Well, I love spending time with my friends when I'm at school and when I'm at home.  Same with family, I'm really close to a lot of my family so it's nice to just get back and hang out with them.  I love country music quite a bit.  Probably my favorite spot to be is at my cottage where it's like right on the lake.  It's actually on a golf course, too, so it's perfect just to go chill there.

Q.  What about an LPGA player you maybe haven't met yet or haven't played with that you're hoping to either get paired with or get to know?  Anybody out there that you think, oh, man, I would really like to talk to her or play a round with her?

BROOKE HENDERSON:  Suzann Pettersen.  I've always been a big fan of hers.  I've never talked to her, I've never been paired with her, so hopefully in the near future that will happen.

Q.  And then obviously I have to ask the pro question and I know I even asked you last year and it still hasn't happened so it's fine, but getting closer to clearing (inaudible.)  Obviously you're feeling very comfortable with your game but I'm sure you get badgered with that all the time, but still a process?

BROOKE HENDERSON:  Yeah, I'm just trying to improve every day and get better.  I committed to the University of Florida, so that was a big step.  

Q.  That's exciting.

BROOKE HENDERSON:  Yeah.  Hopefully after that I'll turn pro and have a successful career.

Q.  How did the recruiting process go for you?  How did you decide on Florida?

BROOKE HENDERSON:  I've always been a Gator fan ever since I was about eight years old.  Actually, I painted my whole room and it's all Gators.

Q.  So it's kind of a dream come true, kind of like there you go.  They have a great golf program.

BROOKE HENDERSON:  Yeah, and the weather, so it's perfect.

Q.  How did you do with the coaches and the school?  Did you go down to visit and stuff?

BROOKE HENDERSON:  I did, yeah.  The team is great, they're so nice and they're really, really good players, which is awesome.  Good recruits are coming in my year and the year after, so it will be a strong team.  Emily Bastel is a great coach and the assistant is great, too.

Q.  I guess biggest lesson you've learned.  You have five events under your belt.  What's been the thing that stuck out that you think, all right, this is what I need to do this week to do well?  What do you think has been key for you lesson wise?

BROOKE HENDERSON:  Definitely just to play my own game and not get too distracted by like fans and scores and stuff like that is a big thing.  Stick to my game plan.  Definitely my strength is long game and ball striking, so I'll go work out some things on the range this morning and hopefully it will be with me on the weekend.

Q.  Obviously we saw you getting pictures in the parking lot, everyone saying hi to you.  Do you enjoy that or do you think you have to stay focused and block all that out or do you like embracing being the local girl?

BROOKE HENDERSON:  Yeah, it's fun.  I love being at LPGA Tour events because there's always that big hype and a lot of attention, but I know once Thursday starts you need a lot of focus and you need to play your own game to play well.  Hopefully I'll make the cut this week and have a little more attention.

Q.  If your goal's been making the cut before, you've been doing that.  Are you setting your heights a little higher, maybe Top 20, Top 10?  Do you not get too caught up in that or is that something you have your sights set on?

BROOKE HENDERSON:  First step is definitely make the cut and then after that --

Q.  Then you'll reassess?

BROOKE HENDERSON:  Yeah.

 

 

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