Meijer LPGA Classic Presented by Kraft
Blythefield Country Club
Grand Rapids, Mich.
Final Round Notes and Interviews
August 10, 2014
Mirim Lee, Rolex Rankings No. 71, -14 (won in playoff)
Inbee Park, Rolex Rankings No. 3, -14
Suzann Pettersen, Rolex Rankings No. 4, -13
Sandra Gal, Rolex Rankings No. 50, -9
Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No 1, -6
Rookie Mirim Lee birdied the second playoff hole at the Meijer LPGA Classic presented by Kraft to defeat Rolex Rankings No. 3 Inbee Park and capture her first LPGA Tour victory. After both players exchanged pars on the first playoff hole, Park lipped out her 20-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole. Lee, who shot a 2-under 69 in Sunday’s final round to earn her way into the playoff at 14-under-par 270, then sank her five-foot putt to become a Rolex First-Time winner. Rolex Rankings No. 4 Suzann Pettersen finished one shot out of the playoff after shooting a 2-under 69 to finish at 13-under.
So how nervous was rookie Mirim Lee for her first LPGA Tour playoff?
“I nervous one hundred percent,” Lee said with a laugh. “Because first time playoff in LPGA so I’m really nervous, but very fun.”
Fun because the 23-year-old rookie was able to capture her first LPGA Tour victory in that playoff. Perhaps making it even more special was that the playoff win came against one of the players that she looks up to most, Inbee Park.
“Inbee Park is like hero in Korea, so I just long to be her, yeah, think I just follow her,” Lee said.
INBEE UNLUCKY IN QUEST FOR WIN #2 OF 2014
When Inbee Park found herself in the fourth playoff of her career she could not get lady luck on her side. Park fired an approach shot on the first playoff hole that hit the stick and the cup but didn’t drop and wound up 15-feet past the hole and on the second hole she lipped out a 20-footer on the second playoff hole which would have put the pressure on eventual winner Mirim Lee who calmly drained her 5-footer.
“I hit two good tee shots and two good second shots, but it just released a lot on me. I feel I hit a good putt but it just didn’t go in,” Park explained. “And overall today I just hit the ball really great today, same as very consistent for four days, but today I think I only holed one putt today, I think that was it for 20 holes. The putter just wasn’t there, so nice to shoot under par but Mirim played well in the playoff holes.”
Despite the loss, Park comes home with her 10th top-10 of the season heading into the LPGA’s fourth major.
SO CLOSE AGAIN FOR SUZANN
The last time that Suzann Pettersen teed it up at an LPGA event, she finished in a tie for second at the RICOH Women’s British Open. But while it had been nearly a month since her last competitive round, Pettersen didn’t show any rust this week as she came up just short of a title once again.
Pettersen fired a 2-under 69 in Sunday’s final round of the Meijer LPGA Classic presented by Kraft and finished one shot out of a playoff with Rolex Rankings No. 3 Inbee Park and 2014 rookie Mirim Lee. For Pettersen it was disappointing to finish just shy of a chance at another victory but the 14-time LPGA Tour winner took her performance this week as a positive sign.
“It’s just nice to be back,” Pettersen said. “It’s nice to kind of feel the stress on the body a little bit and kind of feel where the game is at and where you need to kind of tune it up for next week. Overall a fantastic event. I can’t wait to come back and play this course again.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I think just by the fans and all the crowds we’ve had this week, it shows that we need to be here. We had a great first year and there’s always things I’m sure everybody’s kind of itching to change and do different next year to make it better.”
-Stacy Lewis on the fans at the Meijer LPGA Classic Presented by Kraft
THE SOCIAL SCENE
The crowds in Grand Rapids were impressive all week and numerous players took to social media to boast about the turnout.
@TheSandraGal - That was fun today. Thanks @meijer and @LPGA for an amazing first year event!
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, three total eagles were recorded which, in addition to the four yesterday, brings the total money raised this year to $207,000. Through the 18 tournaments prior to the Meijer LPGA Classic Presented by Kraft, $200,000 had been raised.
Mirim Lee, Rolex Rankings No. 71, -14
MODERATOR: Good evening, everyone. We would like to welcome the winner of the inaugural Meijer LPGA Classic presented by Kraft, Mirim Lee. Congratulations, what an exciting win to win in a playoff. How nervous were you going into that playoff?
MIRIM LEE: I nervous one hundred percent because first time playoff in LPGA so I'm really nervous, but very fun.
MODERATOR: Did you see Inbee's shot into that first hole? She got it almost holed out, her shot.
MIRIM LEE: Yeah, yeah, I saw, made me more nervous, but I focus my shot, yeah. That's it.
MODERATOR: You did a good job focusing on that shot. Once you guys parred that hole and you went to the 17th hole, you can hit the ball a lot further than Inbee and earlier I don't think you went for that green but you decided to hit ‑‑ did you hit driver?
MIRIM LEE: Yeah, I hit driver, 17.
Q. And why did you decide to hit driver?
MIRIM LEE: Because my driver is really far, so I try on the green but missed but it's okay.
MODERATOR: Worked out very well. And the bunker shot, did you feel very comfortable when you got to that bunker shot?
MIRIM LEE: Yeah, yeah, easy lie, lie in bunker, so little up here and more spin so I hit tried, so good bunker shot.
MODERATOR: And then Inbee almost made her birdie putt, she lipped out on that. So what were your thoughts, what were you thinking when you got over that putt after?
MIRIM LEE: I thought just in, in the hole, I make.
MODERATOR: You were greeted after you won by a few of your fellow players, Amy Yang was out there to help celebrate, P.K., Haru Nomura. What did that mean to have them there to celebrate with you?
MIRIM LEE: I don't know, I took my friends.
MODERATOR: So were you surprised to see them all come out?
MIRIM LEE: Yeah, yeah, very surprised.
MODERATOR: Any questions?
INTERPRETER: I asked her the whole week what they think, what day is a bad day, what day is a good day.
MODERATOR: You can answer in Korean and then we'll translate back.
INTERPRETER: She say the (indiscernible) that is very difficult, that the putt is pretty good and she can able to do that.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Playing the last group with Inbee, who's also from Korea, what did that mean to you? Obviously she's been a great player for a long time. What did that mean to you personally to be playing with Inbee?
MIRIM LEE: Inbee Park is like hero, right, in Korea, so I just long to her, yeah, think I just follow her.
MODERATOR: So you've watched her a lot?
MIRIM LEE: Yeah, yeah, right. She's a good player. She's nice.
MODERATOR: What she did last year with winning the three straight majors, what was that reaction like in Korea? Did that make her kind of even more of a legend in Korea, more of a hero in Korea, what she did?
MIRIM LEE: Young loves her maybe.
MODERATOR: Is it similar to when you were younger, when Inbee was younger, Se Ri was the one that everybody looked to. Is Inbee now that player for young girls in Korea?
MIRIM LEE: Yeah, right, Se Ri and Inbee.
MODERATOR: Two very good players. More questions?
Q. (Question in Korean.)
INTERPRETER: She said that 18 that (indiscernible) coming out and she go back to 17, she think that she win already because she know that the party's coming up and then she can able to do the win at 17.
MODERATOR: Very good, thank you. We actually asked Inbee about this. The decision to go from the KLPGA to the LPGA, why did you decide last year to come play in Q School? Why now?
MIRIM LEE: My father want play in Korea so a little bit late, yeah, I came here. In here I'm very young, but in Korea I'm very old, so I want to play here.
MODERATOR: 23 is old in Korea?
MIRIM LEE: Right.
MODERATOR: I'm learning something new every day. Don't worry, we're getting younger, too, so you're still very young.
Q. What have you learned from being on the LPGA all year this year?
MODERATOR: What have you learned from being on the LPGA this year?
INTERPRETER: She said LPGA ladies is different than KLPGA, and also just like some LPGA player myself will have a lot of practice and the difference is practice of Korean LPGA and here LPGA is what she said.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Does this win help you ‑‑ does it make you glad that you decided to come play on the LPGA? Does this kind of help give you confidence going forward?
MIRIM LEE: Yeah, yeah, very confident, yeah.
MODERATOR: You finished runner‑up at the Founders Cup earlier this year. Was that a sign to you that you could play out here with these players? Did you feel like you belonged out here?
MIRIM LEE: Yeah.
MODERATOR: That's okay, totally understand. I don't speak Korean, either. Any more questions for Mirim? She's 's like, "please, no." Go ahead.
INTERPRETER: I asked her if she's going to the Canadian Ladies Open and she said yes, she can go.
MODERATOR: Well, thank you very much for joining us here today. Congratulations on your win, hopefully the first of very many for you out here and best of luck next week at the Wegmans LPGA Championship.
Inbee Park, Rolex Rankings No. 3, -14
MODERATOR: Pleased to be joined in the media center by runner‑up Inbee Park. Inbee, can you take us through those two playoff holes?
INBEE PARK: I just didn't hit the ball great. I hit two good tee shots and two good second shots, but it just released a lot on me. I feel I hit a good putt but it just didn't go in. And overall today I just hit the ball really great today, same as very consistent for four days, but today I think I only holed one putt today, I think that was it for 20 holes. The putter just wasn't there, so nice to shoot under par but Mirim played well in the playoff holes.
MODERATOR: On the first playoff hole, you hit the stick, you hit the cup. What was going through your head at that point?
INBEE PARK: I kind of wished that ‑‑ it kind of hit the pin and it kind of made the ball stop but it obviously didn't. I think I just got a little bit unlucky there. The first 18th hole I played it stopped within three, and the second shot I hit, it was exactly the same club and it released the ball 20, so it was really inconsistent.
MODERATOR: And then on the second playoff hole your putt just burned the edge, caught a bit of the cup, too. Can you kind of talk about that?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I kind of had a similar putt on the 17th hole when we were having our final round and I played too much break and I played less break and it still didn't break that much.
MODERATOR: Open it up for questions. All right. Inbee, first win of Mirim's career. What does that mean for her and how will that help her going forward?
INBEE PARK: You know, I think winning in a rookie season is always great and this is going to give her so much confidence. I think she was kind of, you know, thinking about whether she should come to LPGA or whether kind of she should stay in KLPGA, but I think this will definitely make her that she made a good decision.
MODERATOR: I know yesterday you were talking about you didn't really know a lot about her game, but playing with her for 20 holes today, what did you learn?
INBEE PARK: I think she was, you know, she was quite very long off the tee and she kind of had advantage on the No. 17th hole kind of being able to almost go at the pin. I didn't have that much distance to play. As a rookie, she's very young, consistent, and I think she's a very good player.
Suzann Pettersen, Rolex Rankings No. 4, -13
Q. Disappointing, I know, to come up one short but just take me through the day.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah, I decided to just go out and fire right at it and I birdied 1 and 2, two great putts, almost made 3, almost made 4 and I eagled 5. I just hit a wrong club on the par 3, made bogey there. Couldn't quite get ‑‑ tough course to play from the rough on the back side. But on the back side I kind of hung around and I had my chances. I had a good par putt on 16, I had a good look at 17. Yeah, disappointed to be one short, but nice to be back in contention straight after a three‑week break though.
Q. Just heading into next week with the major, do you feel like your game is in that condition that you want it to be in at the time?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah, it's getting close. It's nice to get four solid rounds of competition in. It's always a little bit rusty, especially yardages. It's nice to be out there and hit the ball as far as I do now. I can't wait to take advantage of the par 5s and feel just that much more aggressive on second shots.
Q. First year event but we saw tremendous crowds out here. What are your takeaways from this event?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: This was a first class event. I didn't quite expect it to be this good. The Krafts have been phenomenal. The venue, great golf course. Tough enough but also quite easy if you hit the fairways. But I mean great test of golf and I'm happy to be back here next year.
Q. Looking back, what do you think was your problem today?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, on the back nine I just didn't ‑‑ I hit very close to being good drives, just missed a couple. A couple I tried to bomb. 11, not to birdie 11, that's maybe painful. Had my chances. I had a good putt on 16, I just missed a par. I had a good look on 17 to get it back to 14. 18 wasn't going to be short. So it was a good try but nice to be back. Game feels decent. I didn't play fantastic but enough to be able to be in contention and look forward to next week.
Q. After having some time off and stuff, is it tough getting back into contention? Do you feel the butterflies a little more than usual?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I thought it was tough because at home I was hitting the ball so well and you kind of feel like it's a waste of shots when you just hit good shots out there and it doesn't count for anything except like club medal with the girls. So it's just nice to be back. It's nice to kind of feel the stress on the body a little bit and kind of feel where the game is at and where you need to kind of tune it up for next week. Overall a fantastic event. I can't wait to come back and play this course again.
Sandra Gal, Rolex Rankings No. 50, -9
Q. Start with that finish, that putt, how far of a putt was that, would you say?
SANDRA GAL: I don't know, it was probably around 20, 25 feet. And yeah, that last hole didn't look very good for a while there and I walked up to the putt and I told my caddie, this is definitely makeable, so I still had a look at par. I was very happy I finished that way. You're playing well all day, you don't want to finish on a bogey, so I was proud about that.
Q. I guess it was a four‑year old you gave the ball to. Talk about that a little bit. Do you plan to do something like that or is it just spontaneous?
SANDRA GAL: No, I feel like the crowds here are so, just so optimistic and so supporting of us and I saw a lot of kids out there, so whenever I could I would give them golf balls, just a high five or something because, you know, I think we're somehow role models for them and if I can make them excited about the game, then that's like the least I can do.
Q. Talk a little bit about your week. You had a great start, a nice finish here today, too. Overall, how would you assess your performance?
SANDRA GAL: I'm really happy with my week. You know, I think the golf course suited me, and obviously I had a couple tough days but I feel like my game's coming together and I've just got to stay patient. I was quite frustrated and day two and day three hung in there and then finished strong, so it was a good week.
Q. What was the key to turning it around today?
SANDRA GAL: You know, actually, I think I hit a couple more fairways today and I just worked on the range a little bit yesterday on my ball striking. So I got on the fairway more, hit a couple more greens and I was able to make a couple putts. It's not a huge difference, just a little bit more solid ball striking I would say.
Q. Your overall thoughts about the course?
SANDRA GAL: The course is great, we love the course. I think old style golf course reminds me of Germany personally and that's what I grew up on. And like I said, I think the local community is a huge supporter of this event. You can already tell after the first time we played here and that's what we want to see, that's where we build long‑term relationships.
Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No 1, -6
STACY LEWIS: I haven't made putts the last few days. I slowly kind of hit it better every day, just finally made some putts and minimized the mistakes.
Q. And was there a couple holes or one in particular that really got you going today?
STACY LEWIS: Well, I think just getting off to a good start. I made probably a 20‑footer on the first hole, which is the longest putt I made all week, so I think just getting off to good start there. Then making birdie on 2 helped a lot. So just getting off to a good start and more than anything it just builds into next week.
Q. Not being quite at the top of the leaderboard today, did you feel less pressure today? Did that help at all?
STACY LEWIS: No. I mean, it was just I've been working on my game a little bit and things are kind of starting to come around. More than anything it was just nice to see some good shots coming off the clubface and see the ball go in the hole and you've just got to keep working on stuff and I think slowly it starts coming together.
Q. And with the major next week, how did this course help you get ready for it?
STACY LEWIS: I think around the greens it was good for next week. It's similar to what we're going to see around the greens next week, similar style, the tree lined. But it was a good buildup leading up to a major. It was a golf course you had to hit good shots on. You really had to be on your game, so that's what you want leading into a major.
Q. Happy that this event's coming back next year?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I think just by the fans and all the crowds we've had this week, it shows that we need to be here. We had a great first year and there's always things I'm sure everybody's kind of itching to change and do different next year to make it better.