Meijer LPGA Classic Presented by Kraft
Blythefield Country Club
Grand Rapids, Mich.
Third Round Notes and Interviews
August 9, 2014
Inbee Park, Rolex Rankings No. 1, -13
Suzann Pettersen, Rolex Rankings No. 4, -11
Line Vedel, Rolex Rankings No. 98, -8
Cristie Kerr, Rolex Rankings No. 10, -5
Rolex Rankings No. 3 Inbee Park will be looking for her second victory of the 2014 season on Sunday at the Meijer LPGA Classic presented by Kraft. Playing in front of packed crowds Saturday at Blythefield Country Club near Grand Rapids, Mich., Park shot a 3-under 68 and holds the 54-hole lead at 13-under-par. She leads by one shot over 2014 LPGA Tour rookie Mirim Lee. Rolex Rankings No. 4 Suzann Pettersen, who is still looking for her first LPGA victory of the year, sits two shots back at 11-under.
INBEE LOOKING FOR WIN #2 OF 2014
Inbee Park may have a new putter in the bag this week but even with a new flat stick, she’s showing why she has been one of the best putters on the LPGA Tour for quite some time. Park holds a one-shot lead at the Meijer LPGA Classic presented by Kraft thanks in large part to the 35-foot birdie putt that she rolled in on the 16th hole in Saturday’s third round. It helped the former world No. 1 to bounce back from only her second bogey of the tournament.
“Today was a little bit windier than other two days, it was a little bit tougher to control the ball so I didn’t hit it as close as last two days, but I was able to hole a couple of long putts, so I was able to go a little bit lower today,” Park said. “Obviously I putted really good out there today, like just like I did last two days.”
Park has been pleased with her new putter. And while it may seem to go against logic that Park changed her putter after winning six times last year with the old one, she felt that a change might be just the thing she needed.
“I think something just really different and something really new to my eyes, probably something really fresh for me, something that I’m not really used to,” Park said of the new putter. “I just wanted to put this putter in before I go to major next week and kind of see what it’s like. It was a good change for me because I never used the blade putter for about five years and this is first time I’m trying it in five years. Yeah, but it seems like it’s going really on line and I feel like I’m stroking the ball a little bit better this week.”
PETTERSEN IN THE HUNT
Suzann Pettersen didn’t waste any time after her round in figuring out what wasn’t feeling quite right about her golf swing. After finishing with a disappointing bogey that put her two shots back of leader Inbee Park, Pettersen headed straight to the range to work on her swing.
“Overall one of those days where you just fight to stay in it,” said Pettersen after her 2-under 69 on Saturday. “Didn’t have the greatest of feels throughout the round, a little bit of gusty wind at the time, some greens are getting really hard, so there were a lot of challenges out there today and hopefully there’s going to be as many tomorrow and maybe I can do just a little bit better.”
Pettersen has been through her share of challenges so far in 2014, as a back injury kept her off the golf course for a stretch of time. But in the last six weeks, Pettersen felt that her heath and her game were both coming around. And after working through some minor tweaks on the range to build back a little confidence with her swing, the 14-time LPGA Tour winner is excited to be in position on Sunday to have a chance to take home her first LPGA victory of the year.
“I’ve had a very rocky season,” Pettersen said. “I’ve been out with injuries for major weeks out of this year, missed pretty much two majors. I missed the first one, I couldn’t play, and the second one, I don’t know, I wasn’t really well prepared. For me when I started playing well again it was actually Arkansas the week before the British Open, played really well at the British Open and I felt like if I was ever going to win an Open it was one of those weeks where you felt like you were hitting the ball good and I gave myself the chance.
“So it was just nice to know that even having been out of the game and not being able to play, not being able to practice, it’s painful enough not to be able to play but to be able to kind of bounce back right into kind of where you left it is almost as satisfying not as winning but just to know that your game is still there. Mentally you still haven’t lost anything.”
VEDEL CONFIDENT AFTER THIRD ROUND
LPGA Tour rookie Line Vedel shot a third round 68 to sit at 8-under for the tournament.
“Kind of had to get going in the beginning, but hit some good shots and made some putts,” Vedel said of her play. “Yeah, the last couple of holes I had to struggle a little bit, but I managed to get home.”
Vedel has had a solid rookie season, including a fourth place showing at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic, ranking 43rd on the LPGA money list.
“I feel like when I finished fourth in San Fran, that was kind of like the boost and like okay, I can compete with the best,” Vedel explained. “And then from there on I kind of just had to just relax and trust my own game, and yeah, that’s what I’ve been trying to do”
CRISTIE KERR TIES BLYTHEFIELD COURSE RECORD
Cristie Kerr put together the round of the tournament shooting a course-record tying 64 (-7) during moving day at the Meijer LPGA Classic Presented by Kraft.
“You know, just been struggling with my swing the last couple days and my coach, Brian, and I have been working on some things and I was like, I just have to do the practice swing the way he wants me to do it,” Kerr said. “It wasn’t perfect today but it was a lot better, like I was able to keep it in play and I was able to really keep the momentum going and I was able to make a lot of birdies.”
Kerr, who made the cut on the number, now sits at 5-under for the tournament, eight back of leader Inbee Park.
“Yeah, you struggle with your game sometimes and all you’ve got to do is sometimes make it to the weekend and then you’ll have a round like this,” Kerr explained. “So it was great to get that pressure off and to have two more days to work on my game, especially going into next week, a major, so it was really a lot of fun today.”
The round tied the Blythefield tournament course record which is also held by Mirim Lee, Suzann Pettersen and Rickie Fowler.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I think this week I didn’t know what it was going to be like because it was the first year. I just got to Thursday and just went up to the tee and there was so many people out there, so I was really surprised how they love golf here in Michigan and how supportive they were. So I’m very thankful that they are supporting golf and supporting women’s golf. Yeah, hopefully we can have some fun tomorrow and bring more people out.”
-Inbee Park on the fans at the Meijer LPGA Classic Presented by Kraft
THE SOCIAL SCENE
Austin Ernst made a pair of eagles on the day and took to Twitter to share her excitement about contributing to the Wounded Warriors Project.
@AustinErnst92 - 2 eagles always help the score and it means $2,000 more to the #WoundedWarriorProject
EAGLES FOR A CAUSE
“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, four total eagles were recorded which brings the total money raised this year to $204,000. Through the 18 tournaments prior to the Meijer LPGA Classic Presented by Kraft, $200,000 had been raised.
Inbee Park, Rolex Rankings No. 1, -13
MODERATOR: Happy to be joined in the media center by third‑round leader Inbee Park. Inbee, another great round out there today. How's your game looking?
INBEE PARK: I think I played really consistent for the last three days. Today was a little bit windier than other two days, it was a little bit tougher to control the ball so I didn't hit it as close as last two days, but I was able to hole a couple of long putts, so I was able to go a little bit lower today. Obviously I putted really good out there today, like just like I did last two days.
MODERATOR: We talked about the putting a little bit yesterday with the new blade. How much has that helped you this week?
INBEE PARK: I think something just really different and something really new to my eyes, probably something really fresh for me, something that I'm not really used to. I just wanted to put this putter in before I go to major next week and kind of see what it's like. It was a good change for me because I never used the blade putter for about five years and this is first time I'm trying it in five years. Yeah, but it seems like it's going really on line and I feel like I'm stroking the ball a little bit better this week.
MODERATOR: You were playing with Suzann today. I know you guys were 1 and 2 in the world for the better half of the last year. What's it like to kind of reignite that rivalry with her?
INBEE PARK: I'm just to used to playing with her after last year because we played with each other a lot of times last year and you kind of know what Suzann is like and she kind of knows what I'm like and we kind of know really each other's game well and I feel comfortable playing with her.
MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.
Q. Inbee, you had a great round but a couple chips went awry, 17 probably most notable; tough uphill chip, you know, blind hole position, you couldn't see the pin. Can you explain kind of what happened there?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I tried to lay up a little further point, 70, 80 yards where I kind of have a fuller shot in, but I hit a rescue club that went about 230, 240 so it just went too far and I didn't know it was going to go that far and it kind of gave me 40, 50‑yards where it's really hard to stop from that distance. I'm really not the best in that distance, so I was trying to avoid that number, but it got to the number so it was a little bit unlucky. Yeah, I missed one par putt that was a little close on No. 14 and I think that's been pretty much my only mistake today.
Q. Inbee, I asked you this once earlier this week, but can you just talk a little bit about the amount of fans that we've had out here this week for a brand new event?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I think this week I didn't know what it was going to be like because it was the first year. I just got to Thursday and just went up to the tee and there was so many people out there, so I was really surprised how they love golf here in Michigan and how supportive they were. So I'm very thankful that they are supporting golf and supporting women's golf. Yeah, hopefully we can have some fun tomorrow and bring more people out.
Q. Inbee, I know you want to be in the lead at the end of tomorrow, but does it give you comfort having the lead going into the final round? With only a one‑shot lead, how nervous does that make you?
INBEE PARK: I think it would have been nice if I had probably two or three, that gives me more breathing room, but one is still better than nothing so I'm in better position than everybody else on this golf course. The advantage, I think I have the advantage going into tomorrow and if we shoot the same number, I win, so I think I'm in comfortable position.
Q. I think it was at 14 you rolled in one off the fringe. About for you far was that?
INBEE PARK: How far was that? That was about 35 feet.
Q. And then the bomb you made at 16, how far was that?
INBEE PARK: 40‑, 50‑footer, yeah.
Q. Obviously those are the two long ones you feel pretty good about?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, those are the two that I really holed the long ones. I don't know, I feel like I haven't holed that kind of putt for a long time and it's all of a sudden happening this week.
Q. As the day went on more and more scores got lower from a lot of players, it really heated up. How much did that fuel you? Did you notice that other players were really ‑‑
INBEE PARK: I actually find today was the toughest day out there out of the three days. I think just being the third round and moving day, everybody just goes out there and just tries to post a number and tries to go as low as they can. I think that's why you see low numbers. About condition wise, I think today ‑‑ I mean they moved a lot of tees up so it was playing a little bit shorter but I think with the wind it was quite tricky, quite tricky to me, so it was quite tough out there.
Q. With the emotion and tension that comes with the day, how different is Sunday from Saturday?
INBEE PARK: I guess Saturday is probably the day that you don't have a pressure at all because it's just the third day and you're just trying to put a position somewhere for the final day. Final Sunday is always the day that you always get most nervous and you kind of think about the results and you kind of think about the trophy. A lot of the things come into your mind on Sunday, so I think Sunday you kind of have to fight with not just golf but your mental game and you have to physically be strong and just everything comes into you. But I've been to many Sundays and hopefully it's going to be another win tomorrow.
MODERATOR: Inbee, you're going to be playing with Mirim Lee tomorrow. What's your relationship with her and what do you know about her game?
INBEE PARK: I really don't know. I mean, I never played with her before. I know she's from Korea and she played on KLPGA Tour, but I know she's hitting it quite long from seeing it from behind today. Except for that, I really don't have much information. Obviously she played quite solid for three days.
MODERATOR: Having been in a lot of final groups before, does it make a difference if you're playing with someone who's won multiple times on tour versus a rookie who's looking for her first win?
INBEE PARK: It doesn't really make a difference. It's an opponent tomorrow no matter who it is. Yeah, I mean, but for Mirim, I think she's going to have a great experience tomorrow whether she wins or whether she doesn't. We're going to try to have fun tomorrow.
Q. You've had the lead going into the final round before. What is it that you do the night before, and do you change your routine from what you normally do?
INBEE PARK: No, I mean, you shouldn't change your routine because that kind of messes you up a lot. I'm just trying to do everything that I did for the last three days and just try to really not change anything and just, you know, try to stay as relaxed as you can and just try not to get too nervous.
Suzann Pettersen, Rolex Rankings No. 4, -11
MODERATOR: All right. We'd would like to welcome Rolex Rankings No. 4 Suzann Pettersen into the interview room. I know that was not the way that you wanted to finish the round with that bogey, but headed to the range to work on a couple things, figure out kind of what was not feeling quite so right?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: It wasn't the easiest of shots out of the rough on 18 and just trying to guard left and left it out in the bunker and didn't get up and down, but overall one of those days where you just fight to stay in it. Didn't have the greatest of feels throughout the round, a little bit of gusty wind at the time, some greens are getting really hard, so there were a lot of challenges out there today and hopefully there's going to be as many tomorrow and maybe I can do just a little bit better.
MODERATOR: Still sit two shots back of the lead, have to feel pretty good about your position and where you sit entering Sunday.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I managed to stay in it today with like a below average feel, so just happy to be where I'm at. The good ones, the good shots are really good, so that's kind of what I'm looking for. If I hit one bad one, I kind of know the corrections if I can do it right there, if it takes me one or two shots, but that's what the practice is all about, just building the trust and building the confidence.
MODERATOR: You played with Inbee today. The two of you were right there at the top. What do you think it's going to take on Sunday to come out as champion here?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I don't really know. I mean, you still saw a couple of low scores early today. I think the greens might be a fraction more receptive in the morning, not too much. The greens get beat up, too, around the hole so you don't want to leave yourself too many four‑ to six‑footers for pars. But at the same time the par 5s are there to get beaten up, and some of the par 4s, if you hit good drives, you're left with a wedge in your hand, so I would assume a low one tomorrow would be needed. There's a lot of good players right behind us.
MODERATOR: Questions for Suzann?
Q. I think back at 13 this afternoon you outdrove Inbee by 30, maybe 40 yards and slight dogleg right and were able to use probably wedge into the green?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah, sand wedge, lob wedge.
Q. And then birdied to tie her at minus 12. Finding advantages like that where you're willing to take a chance or maybe outdrive to get that advantage? Do you feel comfortable? It's narrow through there.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah, I might not do that tomorrow, but I feel like I've gained distance over this year so it's nice to know that you have some extra yardage in the bag. On 11 I've hit like 7‑irons into my second shots the last two days pretty much. But you've got to take advantage of it as well. I mean, it doesn't matter to bomb it and have it go left and walk off with a par. I want to stay aggressive. I don't want to lay back, especially when the greens get firmer I want to come in I can't shorter club, and even if I were to miss the fairway I can still kind of somehow control what I do coming into the green from the rough. It has its advantages, but you've still got to hit the small parts of the fairway.
Q. Do you find when you're playing aggressively like that that your game kind of steamrolls forward or does maybe one shot that doesn't go quite right ‑‑
SUZANN PETTERSEN: No, you should play aggressive and have no regrets, so that's kind of then I can sleep well that night.
Q. You and Inbee have played together a lot over the past couple years being two of the top players in the world. What is it like playing with her and do you feel like it brings the best out in you?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I mean, I like playing with Inbee. It's just something that you have to get used to. You'd better like it because you're going to get paired quite a lot. Most of the time it doesn't really matter who you play with. It's nice to play with players who play well, who rolls the putts in the hole and you can kind of try and feed off it. Inbee is a feisty competitor and she's going to try everything in her power tomorrow to go out and win another tournament, so it's going to be more than just her trying to do that.
MODERATOR: Speaking of wins, haven't gotten an LPGA win so far this season. What would it mean to you to walk away with that trophy tomorrow?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I don't really chase too much the wins. I had a very rocky season. I've been out with injuries for major weeks out of this year, missed pretty much two majors. I missed the first one, I couldn't play, and the second one, I don't know, I wasn't really well prepared. For me when I started playing well again it was actually Arkansas the week before the British Open, played really well at the British Open and I felt like if I was ever going to win an Open it was one of those weeks where you felt like you were hitting the ball good and I gave myself the chance.
So it was just nice to know that even having been out of the game and not being able to play, not being able to practice, it's painful enough not to be able to play but to be able to kind of bounce back right into kind of where you left it is almost as satisfying not as winning but just to know that your game is still there. Mentally you still haven't lost anything.
Line Vedel, Rolex Rankings No. 98, -8
Q. Great playing today. What was working for you out there?
LINE VEDEL: I think I hit it quite straight from the tee and that's important because the rough is so high. Then I hit some good shots into the greens. Kind of had to get going in the beginning, but hit some good shots and made some putts. Yeah, the last couple of holes I had to struggle a little bit, but I managed to get home.
Q. What do you really like about this course?
LINE VEDEL: I think it suits my game well because I'm not like the longest hitter but I hit it fairly straight. If you don't hit it straight, you're going to get in trouble in the rough. And I think the greens are a little tricky sometimes as well and that's good because putting is one of my strengths.
Q. You're a rookie entering the second half of the season. How do you feel your game and yourself as a person has developed over that time?
LINE VEDEL: I feel like when I finished fourth in San Fran, that was kind of like the boost or whatever, and like okay, I can compete with the best. And then from there on I kind of just had to just relax and trust my own game, and yeah, that's what I've been trying to do.
Q. And finally, one of the last groups out tomorrow you'll probably be in, what are your plans for the rest of the day and then going into tomorrow morning?
LINE VEDEL: Going to get something to eat and then relax and do a bit of stretching, and then tomorrow take it easy and just go out and have fun.
Cristie Kerr, Rolex Rankings No. 10, -5
Q. Talk a little bit about your round today and what you were able to do that you were able to get such a good score today.
CRISTIE KERR: You know, just been struggling with my swing the last couple days and my coach, Brian, and I have been working on some things and I was like, I just have to do the practice swing the way he wants me to do it. And it wasn't perfect today but it was a lot better, like I was able to keep it in play and I was able to really keep the momentum going and I was able to make a lot of birdies.
Q. Talk a little bit, you were just barely missing a few putts yesterday. Were they going in today?
CRISTIE KERR: They were. I had the speed on the green right today and we read the greens really well, so I hit it closer, which helps you make putts. It was a terrific round for me.
Q. Do you feel like a little more of the pressure is off you? You barely made the cut but you kind of get new life.
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, you struggle with your game sometimes and all you've got to do is sometimes make it to the weekend and then you'll have a round like this. So it was great to get that pressure off and to have two more days to work on my game, especially going into next week, a major, so it was really a lot of fun today.
Q. Is there something different or something specific about this course that you picked up that you learned?
CRISTIE KERR: You've got to keep it in the fairway and keep the momentum going. I hit a great shot out of the rough on 18. It was a horrible lie and I tried to swing as hard as I can to get it somewhere near the green and it came out better than we expected. The rough's getting pretty nasty, so you've got to keep it in play around here.
Q. What about that 18th hole, the putt on 18, pretty close?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, just a little bit short. You know, over the weekend ‑‑ sorry, in the first two days I had left putts that short consistently, but it was a long putt so I was glad to have a chance it might go in.
Q. How far was that?
CRISTIE KERR: I don't know, 50 feet or so.
Q. Conditions similar to the first two days?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, pretty similar. The greens are still bouncing out the same, green speed's still the same. It was a little bit windier even today so this was a great round for me to move up.
Q. So there are some good scores out there. Somebody else is going to ‑‑
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, but you have to keep the momentum, you have to see putts going in the hole and you have to keep it going the whole round to shoot low on this course and that's what I was able to do. There's only been a couple out of 145 girls that teed it up, there's only been a couple with low rounds on this course. This is good solid course. Thanks, guys.