ShopRite LPGA Classic
Seaview—A Dolce Resort, Bay Course
June 18, 2010
Sherri Steinhauer’s 7-under 64 Friday put her in the first-round lead of the ShopRite LPGA Classic at the Bay Course at Seaview—A Dolce Resort in Galloway, N.J. She’s one shot ahead of Tania Elosegui and Natalie Gulbis. Steinhauer’s card included an eagle, six birdies and a bogey.
Steinhauer was sidelined for 16 months with two hip surgeries from August of 2008 until this season, so today’s 7-under 64 was understandably relieving. “It feels really good,” she said after the round. “To be back and to be in the media tent feels good. To have a 64 under my belt after not playing golf, it feels real good.”
The 64 is especially vindicating considering in the second round of the 2008 CN Canadian Women’s Open - her last round before taking off for surgery - she was afraid her career might be over. “I couldn't walk anymore,” she remembered that day. “I just said, ‘This is it.’ I didn't know if I would ever play golf again. It was on Friday. I was missing the cut, and I was walking up the fairway with tears in my eyes thinking, I don't know if I'll ever play professional golf again.”
Steinhauer was recently named an assistant captain to the 2011 Solheim Cup, but if she keeps playing the way she did Friday, she might be more than that. “Obviously (being a playing assistant captain) is a goal of mine,” she said. “We've had discussions about that, Rosie and I, and we'll deal with that. If that happens, it would be a fun predicament to be in. I got a long way to go.”
Paula Creamer, playing her first round in nearly four months after being sidelined by a thumb injury and the ensuing surgery, made six birdies on her way to a 4-under 67. “It doesn’t feel too bad considering,” Creamer said. “I had some shots out there that I definitely felt it on; others, it's manageable. But overall, today was pretty good. I hit some ‘beauties’ and I hit some really good shots.”
Fifteen-year-old phenom Alexis Thompson shot an Even-par 71 in her professional debut. After missing a short putt on the first hole and making bogey, the teenager said her nerves subsided. She then made three birdies in her next eight holes. What does a 15-year-old do the morning before her first round as a professional? “I slept until about 8 and watched a few movies and then just ate and came right out,” she said. “I was just chilling.”
As for her first paycheck… “Maybe a car. Just looking. Not really gonna just get one, but I gotta look,” she said.
With Rolex Rankings No. 1 Jiyai Shin still out recovering from an appendectomy last week, No. 2 Ai Miyazato fired a 5-under 66 to finish the day two back of leader Steinhauer. No. 3 Suzann Pettersen shot a 4-under 67, as did No. 5 Yani Tseng. No. 4 Cristie Kerr shot a 3-under 68.
On Monday, Adrienne White was playing a playoff to get into the field. On Friday, she was birdieing the 18th hole to shoot a 4-under 67. Although Monday qualifying equals more stress, White sees some positive in it as well. “I kind of think of it as a glorified practice round,” White said. “I get out here before everybody else and I get to play a competitive round early in the week. So I know how the course is reacting. I know where to miss it and where not to.”
Azahara Munoz, who’s currently second in the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race, and Gwladys Nocera, third in the race, led all rookies Friday with 4-under 67s. Amanda Blumenherst who is leading the rookie race shot 3-under 68 to stand in tie for 22nd.
Jeong Jang who missed most of 2009 with a hand injury fired a 5-under 66. Jang finished in a tie for second at the last playing of the ShopRite LPGA Classic in 2006. Also finishing T-2 that year was today’s leader Sherri Steinhauer.
WDs: Leta Lindley withdrew and was replaced by Kate Golden
MODERATOR: Sherri, welcome. Great round today, 64. First, run through your card, birdies and bogeys.
SHERRI STEINHAUER: Birdies and bogeys. All right, the third hole, par‑5, I was just down in front. Pitched up to about three feet and made that for birdie.
5, I hit a 3‑wood then my 52‑degree wedge, and hit it about 15 feet and made that for birdie.
Parred 6 and 7.
No. 8 I hit my drive left. Just in the gunch and just got it out in front of the green. Pitched on about eight feet and missed that and made bogey.
And then 9, I hit driver, 3‑wood right on the front edge and made about a 30‑footer for eagle.
Parred 10, 11.
Then 12 hit a driver, 52‑degree again, wedge; hit it about 15 feet and made that for birdie.
Parred 13, 14.
15, a par‑3, I hit a 7‑wood about two feet and made that for birdie.
16, I hit driver, 9‑iron about 25 feet and made that for birdie.
Then 18, I hit driver 3‑wood in front; pitched up to about eight feet and made that for birdie.
MODERATOR: Great. Just kind of some post‑round thoughts. Obviously got to be feeling good with a 64.
SHERRI STEINHAUER: Yeah, it feels really good. After being off last year with hip surgery, two hip surgeries, to be back and to be in the media tent feels good. To have a 64 under my belt after not playing golf ‑‑ I didn't touch a club for 14 months, so it feels real good to get a round like this.
Q. After 14 months, when did you touch a club again?
SHERRI STEINHAUER: Last October is when I first picked one up. I started out very slowly just hitting wedges. I would go around and play five holes with a 9‑iron and never hit any other club. Just 9‑iron and putt. Gradually started working up until ‑‑ that was the beginning of October. By the end of October I started full shots, and then in November I played in the Legends Tour Championship, which was my first event back. I won that, so that was a real confidence builder. But that was my first event back after, I guess it was about 11 months off. Oh, I'm sorry, 14 months, 15, 16 months of not playing.
Q. Something like a 64, can this be a turning point, do you think, where you kind of really turn the corner?
SHERRI STEINHAUER: Well, this is definitely baby steps coming back from this. Being out of competition is ‑‑ that's what I want to work on hardest, getting back the competitive ‑‑ you know, being out of competition you have to learn how to compete again at this level. And to be up at the top, I need ‑‑ at least experience to draw on, but the experience has been ‑‑ it was a long time in the past. So all this is gonna be good for me moving forward. I need the experience again to be on top.
Q. Was it just wear and tear with the hips? What was the problem?
SHERRI STEINHAUER: Yeah, it was wear and tear. I had ‑‑ on the left hip I had a muscle rupture and tendon tear and labral tear and bone spurs repaired. And then the right hip, which was ‑‑ the right hip I had operated on three months later, and it was just a labral tear.
Q. How much pain were you in before the surgeries?
SHERRI STEINHAUER: Well, August of 2008 I played in Canada. I could hardly ‑‑ until I couldn't walk anymore. I just said, This is it. I didn't know if I would ever play golf again. It was on Friday. I was missing the cut, and I was walking up the fairway with tears in my eyes thinking, I don't know if I'll ever play professional golf again. So, you know, I decided to have the surgery and make one last big effort to work hard and try to get back out here. So this feels really good.
Q. That was kind of maybe my next question. What made you come back? What made you work so hard to come back?
SHERRI STEINHAUER: Because I love golf. I just love playing golf. I love competing. You know, hey, if my career ends because I can't play anymore, that's okay. I'll move on. But I'm not satisfied just giving up, so I wanted to work hard because I love it. It was worth it to me to put everything in it and spend all the hours in the gym rehabbing and getting back out here.
Q. Obviously it was a tough rehab. Were there times you thought, Maybe I'm not gonna make it back? I'm sure it was a long struggle.
SHERRI STEINHAUER: Yeah, I had a lot of conversations with my doctor, and he said, Trust me, you're not the only one. You know, three months after and I'm like, Doc, why am I not feeling better and I'm doing all this? He said, Trust me. This takes a long time. So the recovery is long. So, yeah, there were times. But so I just listened to him and believed that I was gonna get back out here.
Q. Professional golfers are pretty competitive people. Did those instincts help going through all the rehab as hard as it was?
SHERRI STEINHAUER: Well, I think so. It's not easy to get up and get into the gym and to do these tedious little exercises and spend the hours in there. But when I got frustrated or down, I just said, What's the alternative? Do you want to get out there and play? So that would just get me excited. I would imagine being back out on tour, and that would get me excited and I would just keep plugging along.
Q. What's your stamina been like? It's not easy obviously walking five miles on a golf course every day.
SHERRI STEINHAUER: I spend a lot of hours in the trailer before and after. It's a struggle, but I'm definitely better than what I was. You know, this is a relatively flat golf course, so that's on my side. But Rob and Caroline in the trailer are helping me tremendously. Without them, I definitely wouldn't be able to ‑‑ I don't think I could play.
Q. Is this a case of you pushing yourself, or was there somebody in the background shoving?
SHERRI STEINHAUER: It was me being hard headed and not giving up. Thinking I could do it. Thinking I could play through it. Ultimately my swing changed and I was swinging to favor the injury and hitting some just horrendous shots. But being hard headed and not realizing I was changing my swing for my injury. I thought my swing was off. But I've learned otherwise, and can look back and see that I was hard head and I should have stopped a lot earlier.
Q. I mean the recovery though, was it you pushing yourself or somebody else pushing along?
SHERRI STEINHAUER: No, I just ‑‑ I think it's more when I know that I'm gonna go back and see the doctor, I want to prove to him, too, that I'm making great progress. My first therapist told me that I would never play golf again, so that was a motivator.
Q. There's not a lot of players from your generation, so to speak, left out here.
SHERRI STEINHAUER: (Laughter.) Very, very well put.
Q. Do you know many of the younger competitors? Are there some players that you played with for years who you kind of hang around with?
SHERRI STEINHAUER: Well, in 2002 I captained the Junior Solheim Cup team. On that team was Brittany Lang, Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome, Morgan Pressel, and Jane Park. So I had some great ‑‑ so that era I know, but now there's ‑‑ now they're probably feeling older. So I know that era pretty well, but there are younger ones than that. I play with them and they don't know how old I am. I'll say, How old is your mom? That'll go 46, and I'll go, Well, I'm older than any mom. What? So it's interesting, but it's fun.
Q. Did you have any moments out there today where you just kind of took a step back and sort of maybe took some extra enjoyment in it, or were you just going shot to shot maybe like you used to? Did today mean any more to you because of what you've been through?
SHERRI STEINHAUER: I had a good round going, and I was thinking more like, Let's just keep it going and not give it back. I've been doing a lot of that this year. I've been playing decent and then I give it back. So I think I was more concerned about just playing steady, and the putts kept dropping at the end. So that part of it was satisfying. I tried not to get too excited. You know, I was having one of my best rounds of the year, and I'm just trying not to think about it and just enjoy where I am and really just, you know, stay in the present.
Q. So is this the first step on being a playing assistant captain for the Solheim Cup?
SHERRI STEINHAUER: Well, that would be ‑‑ you know, obviously that's a goal of mine. We've had discussions about that, Rosie and I, and we'll deal with that. If that happens, it would be a fun predicament to be in. I got a long way to go.
Q. Who did the surgery?
SHERRI STEINHAUER: Dr. Carlos Guanche. He's out of Van Nuys, California. Southern California Orthopedic Institute. So he specializes in this type of surgery.
Q. You might have gone over it before, but what was the timetable? Left hip and then right hip?
SHERRI STEINHAUER: Yeah, he knew the left hip was worse and wanted to do it first. And then it was the following February of '09 I had the left hip done; we waited three months, and then in May I had the right hip done.
Q. When you first picked up that first wedge you hit, where did that ball go? Did it go straight? Right? Left?
SHERRI STEINHAUER: I don't remember. I just was so worried about ‑‑ I didn't know if there was gonna be pain. That's what I was most worried about. It was a pretty easy swing. It was just a little chip, so it didn't go very far. But I don't really remember the very first shot. It was pretty rusty after 14 months. It was a little frightening.
MODERATOR: 65 today. Great round. Tell us about it.
TANIA ELOSEGUI: Yeah, very happy with the round. I played quite good, and my putting was great on the back nine. I had five birdies, so very happy.
MODERATOR: Great. So far this year in four starts you've had a few missed cuts. Probably not the way you wanted to be going this year. You came out today and are obviously a co‑leader. Did something click today? What's changed?
TANIA ELOSEGUI: Well, as you said, I had a lot of expectations of this year, my first year on the LPGA. I been working hard mentally and my putting, because I was struggling a little bit with my putting at the beginning of the season. So I think my putting is much better now. Obviously this round give me some confidence, so I hope I'm gonna keep playing the way I played today.
Q. Can you do the birdies and bogeys to start?
TANIA ELOSEGUI: Yeah. I birdied 5, 9, 13, 14, 15, 18, and 10. I forgot 10. So 5, 9, 19, 13, 14, 15, 18, and yeah, I bogey 6.
Q. Go through 5, for instance. What did you hit in there? How far was your putt?
TANIA ELOSEGUI: A given.
Q. What did you hit?
TANIA ELOSEGUI: 58 degree sand wedge.
Q. What happened on 6? You want to just go through each of those holes?
TANIA ELOSEGUI: Okay. The breeze was a little bit into No. 6, and I thought it would carry with an (indiscernible) iron to the pin, but I was short. That putt was quite tricky with like a mound in between me and the pin. So didn't hit a good first putt, and then 3‑putted. And then 9, I was back of the green in a thick, thick rough. I hit a very good shots on there with a very good chip with a big rough. My birdie putt was a meter.
And then 10, holed another very good putt from back left of the pin downhill right to left. It was maybe five, six meters.
13, was given again. I hit a wedge.
14 was a meter from the pin. Great 4‑iron into the wind.
15, I hole a very good putt from left of the pin. That one was long. Maybe eight, nine meters.
And then 18, 2‑putted, even if the first putt was not a good ‑‑ little bit shy.
Q. Is there something about this course that sort of fits your game?
TANIA ELOSEGUI: Not really. (Laughter.) Not really. Well, it's not a links course, but it's quite a lengthy golf course. Normally I don't really like links golf courses, but I guess I've been working on this and knowing how to hit low shots into the wind. So I guess something is working.
Q. So when you first came here and saw the course then, did you think that this wasn't gonna be a good week for you because it is a links‑style course?
TANIA ELOSEGUI: You try not to think that. You always, Okay, I'm gonna do the best I can and give it 100%. Today the wind was not as strong as yesterday, so I think the course was a little bit easier for us today. But the greens are getting firm, and the fairways, too.
Q. Do you sense that your game is reaching the point where you might be able to put together another good round tomorrow? Has it been improving as the year has gone on?
TANIA ELOSEGUI: Yeah, I mean, it's been improving. Obviously, as I said before, all the hard work on my putting is paying off. That's a very important part of the game. Like if you can putt, even if you miss greens or you miss fairways, you can still make pars. I was missing that. Right now I'm quite confident with my putting, and all I have to do is keep working on my mental stuff and commit to every shot. That's what I'm trying to do.
Q. The greens kind of have some undulation and hills. Were you just reading the greens well today?
TANIA ELOSEGUI: They're difficult to read. They're difficult to read, but I think the key point today for me is like I was quite confident on the short putts ‑ like meter, meter and a half, two meters ‑ and I make two very good up‑and‑downs on the first two holes. That got me going.
Q. And I know you played the European tour last year. Is this your first year on the LPGA Tour?
TANIA ELOSEGUI: Yeah, I was a rookie last year on LPGA, but I didn't play any tournaments, just one in Arkansas. So, yeah, this is my first year here. I'm still playing on the LET, too. I played two events. I mean, these past four weeks I play two tournaments over there, but I'm mainly playing LPGA this year.
Q. I know you've won over there. Can you draw on that experience? You're probably gonna be at the top of the leaderboard or near the top going into tomorrow. Can you draw on some of your success over there for the rest of this weekend?
TANIA ELOSEGUI: Yeah, so every time you go out on the golf course you can take out some experience. So obviously like winning over there and being at the top of the leaderboard in a lot of tournaments in Europe help me. Like I think I'm more experienced than some of the rookies that are just starting to play in the LPGA this year. But that doesn't mean anything really. I mean...
Q. Do you have mixed emotions? You're playing two tours. Is there a reason you're doing that?
TANIA ELOSEGUI: No, not really. But the schedule in the LPGA this year was not like, I don't know, 11 tournaments in a row. So we had some week off. We had four weeks off. Well, I had four weeks off this past month, so I could go to Europe and play tournaments over there and keep practicing and playing. Because otherwise, if you stop for a month without playing, it's like a lot of time. So it's good that European golf, we can go and play over there, too.
Q. What happened to Spain in the World Cup?
TANIA ELOSEGUI: (Laughter.) I saw the first half. Yeah. But it's always the same story, so... It's always the same. (Laughter.)
Q. Obviously coming out as a Monday qualifier, having gotten in through a playoff in the Monday qualifier, coming out and shooting a 67 the first time around has got to feel good.
ADRIENNE WHITE: Feels great, yeah. I've been hitting the ball well. With my situation that I'm in with my status, you know, I have to fight every week to get into the tournament. Luckily, I've been patient. This week it's paid off. I just got a chance to get in, and I knew I was hitting it well, so I just kept everything going that I had going.
Q. That's great. Like you said, it's a little more taxing because you have to fight to get into the tournament. Mentally does that wear you down a little bit more?
ADRIENNE WHITE: No, not really. I kind of think of it as a glorified practice round. I get out here before everybody else and I get to play a competitive round early in the week. So I know how the course is reacting. I know where to miss it and where not to. I just try and take all the positive I can from it.
Q. How did it feel?
PAULA CREAMER: You know, not too bad considering. I had some shots out what there that I definitely felt it on; others, it's manageable. But overall, today was pretty good. I hit some beauties and I hit some really good shots. I had a little bit of both, but I knew that was gonna happen.
Q. What was that first tee shot like for you? The crowd gave you a big hand.
PAULA CREAMER: It was really special actually, I was nervous; I'm always nervous before the first tee shot, but especially this one. The fans, you know, they were great. It was a nice applause. I was just saying, Okay. Just hit the fairway and make contact and then we'll get the day going.
Q. It easier or harder than you expected, pain-wise?
PAULA CREAMER: It was pretty much what I thought it would be. I didn't get any surprises, you know, too much out there. There was a couple where it lasted a little bit longer than normal, the pain after a shot. But for the most part I kept stretching it. You'll see me constantly moving it around. I just can't let it stiffen up. That's the biggest thing.
Q. Does it hurt the whole time?
PAULA CREAMER: Yeah, I mean, pretty much every shot out there, except when I putt or do bump and runs. There's not as much pressure put on it. Driver is the worst, and I can't hit knock‑downs. So those holes going towards the bay are brutal for me.
Q. You're right there, I mean, couple shots out of the lead. I would think you would be thrilled.
PAULA CREAMER: Oh, I am. I mean, I can’t be ‑‑ I had two bogeys today, a disappointment there. But for the most part I hit a lot of good shots and stayed in the moment. I did everything that I wanted to do, and that was just play within myself. Suzann is a long player, and I know I can't keep up with her. That was something that was a good challenge for me, to really play within what I can.
Q. Is it frustrating that you used to be able to keep up with her and now you can't? You said you lost about 25 yards. Is that tough to deal with?
PAULA CREAMER: It's hard, yes. But that will come back. It's so early in this whole process, this whole kind of trip, you can say. This is just the first of many, many tournaments down the road, and you have to start somewhere.
Q. Kind of a day of comebacks. You coming back, Sherri with double hip surgery last year. When you think of what she's been through to comeback...
PAULA CREAMER: Wow, I think that's awesome. I know Sherri. The greatest thing is she's such a nice person. I've had one of the greatest moments. She was my junior Solheim Cup captain, so it's great to see her playing well and coming back. I know after surgery, I know what you go through with a thumb. I can't imagine what it goes through with your hips.
Q. The shot on 11, did that bother you a little bit, being in the tall stuff?
PAULA CREAMER: It wasn't as bad as what I thought it was going to be. Actually, the shot before that hurt more than that one. It was kind of ‑‑ the grass was ‑‑ it wasn't as strong as I thought it was going to be, so it was all right. It was like a bunker shot almost.
Q. Secondly, on 16 you went down to your hands and knees on the fairway.
PAULA CREAMER: I did that a lot today. It's how I stretch my forearms and stuff. I'm just stretching it on the ground. I wasn't in pain.
Q. So was this any different than playing in the U.S. Open, that kind of thing, just being a pro?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Um, it wasn't that different. You know, I was nervous in the first tee obviously, and then I went and missed a one‑footer on the first hole. But, you know, it was a lot of fun, though. I wish I would have just hit it a little bit better and made a few more putts. But that's golf.
Q. Was that first green nerves or just carelessness?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Probably both. I was probably shaking and then I should have taken more time over it. So you learn from that. I never did that again today.
Q. When did the nerves go away?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Probably on the second hole.
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Yeah. I was putting too tentative on the first few holes, and then I just started hitting them a little harder and just trusting that I could make a three‑footer coming back.
Q. Does it feel any different playing as a pro?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: No, not really. I'm just playing the same, playing aggressive. I have nothing to lose out here, so just gonna try to hit driver everywhere and just play aggressive and go for it.
Q. Kind of make it more fun playing with Christina?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Yeah, she's so cool. I had a really great group. They were both super nice and always saying, Good shot and just talking to me. It was a wonderful group.
Q. Have you thought about what you would do with your first paycheck?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: (Laughter.) No, not really. Maybe a car.
Q. Maybe a car?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Uh‑huh. Just looking. Not really gonna just get one, but I gotta look.
Q. Not the one you drove up in yesterday, right?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: No, no. Maybe I could get that. I don't think I could pull that, but...
Q. Got to get your dad's permission.
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Yeah, for sure.
Q. You had a 1:00 tee time. What did you do this morning to kill time? Were you nervous? Could you sleep?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: I slept until about 8:00 and watched a few movies and then just ate and came right out. I wasn't really nervous. I was just chilling.
Q. What did you watch?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Clueless and I forget what other video. It was a good movie. Pastime for me.