Sky 72 Golf Club, Ocean Course
Incheon, South Korea
October 9, 2011
Final-round notes and interviews
Yani Tseng -14, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng captured her sixth LPGA victory of the 2011 season at the LPGA HanaBank Championship at Sky 72 Golf Club's Ocean Course in Incheon, South Korea. Tseng shot a final-round, 5-under 67 to finish at 14-under-par and one shot ahead of two-defending champion Na Yeon Choi.
Tseng started the day tied with Choi, one shot back of second-round leader Soo-Jin Yang. But she shot 33 on the front-nine to take an early lead in the final round. Birdies on No. 13 and 15 helped Tseng to a two-stroke lead but after Choi made birdie on 18 to cut the lead to one, Tseng had to sink a short par putt to secure her victory. After tallying seven bogeys over her first two rounds to go along with 16 birdies, Tseng posted a bogey-free final round to earn her 11th career LPGA Tour victory.
"It was very tough out there," Tseng said. "Na Yeon Choi was playing so good today and especially after the back nine, she made two birdies in a row and I missed the birdie putt. But it's just really ‑‑ I really enjoyed it out there, and it's not easy. I tried to focus on every shot, every hole, and I mean, the crowd is amazing. When Na Yeon makes birdie, it was like a huge crowd, and I think it's the first time in my life I saw that many people on a golf course."
Now is Tseng's time: Two years ago, the LPGA HanaBank Championship came down to the final hole when Choi made birdie to defeat Tseng by a stroke and capture her second career LPGA victory.
Choi and Tseng, who are good friends, were paired together in the final round again on Sunday but this time it was Tseng who was able to come through with the victory. As was the case two years ago, things were close at the end. Tseng had to sink her par putt on the 18th hole to complete her victory. So after her win, Tseng was asked if she thought at all about what had happened at the event back in 2009.
"I didn't think anything like two years ago," Tseng said. "I kind of forgot and learned from that. She played great and I played good. I did my best then, and I feel like she just played better than me and she deserved to win the tournament. Two years after, we both have got some more experience and we both got more wins. It's very different out there."
Just short of the three-peat: Choi was not just chasing her first victory of the 2011 season on Sunday at the LPGA HanaBank Championship, she was trying to capture the tournament title for a third consecutive year.
Choi, who won in her home country of South Korea in 2009 and 2010, fell just shy of accomplishing the feat. The four-time winner on the LPGA Tour finished one shot behind Tseng after shooting a final-round 68.
The LPGA record for consecutive wins at the same tournament is five, which Annika Sorenstam accomplished by winning the Mizuno Classic from 2001-2005.
Golden ticket winners: Jimin Kang, Chella Choi and Shanshan Feng punched their "Ticket to CME Group Titleholders" at the LPGA HanaBank Championship, each earning a spot in the season-ending CME Group Titleholders event, which will be held Nov. 17-20, 2011 at Grand Cypress Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The inaugural CME Group Titleholders, a season finale with a field made up of three qualifiers from every LPGA Tour tournament, is a format never previously used in professional golf.
Smile! Many of the players committed to give $100 for each birdie and $200 for each eagle this week to the Smile Microbank Foundation, a local charity benefiting underprivileged families. Among the players participating in the fundraiser this week were I.K. Kim, Na Yeon Choi, Hee Young Park, Jiyai Shin, Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie and Cristie Kerr.
|Hee Kyung Seo||Ryann O'Toole|
Of Note…The low round of the day on Sunday belonged to KLPGA member Yeon-Ju Jung who tied the course record with a 7-under-par 65. It was the third time that the course record was shot this week. Tseng shot 65 in the first round and Soo-Jin Yang followed with a 65 on Saturday…Jimin Kang, who shot a final-round 68 to finish in a tie for third, will try to defend her title at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia next week. The third place finish at the LPGA HanaBank Championship was Kang's best finish so far in 2011.
YANI TSENG, Rolex Rankings No. 1
MODERATOR: We would like to welcome the 2011 Hana Bank Champion into the interview room, Yani Tseng, thank you for joining us. Congratulations on your victory. Can you just give me some thoughts about your win?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, first it was a very tough out there. Na Yeon Choi playing so good today and especially after the back nine, she made two birdies in a row and I missed the birdie putt.
But it's just really ‑‑ I really enjoyed it out there, and it's not easy. I tried to focus on every shot, every hole, and I mean, the crowd is amazing. When Na Yeon makes birdie, it was like a huge crowd, and I think it's the first time in my life I saw that many people on a golf course.
MODERATOR: This is your sixth win this season, your 11th career victory on the LPGA Tour, can you just take me through a little of what this season has been like for you being world No. 1 all year and now capturing so many victories.
YANI TSENG: It's a lot of fun. I learned a lot from my mistakes and this is my fourth year on the Tour. I really get a lot of experience and some experience from when I'm leading and winning a tournament, and I feel like my mental game is getting mature and my skills are getting better.
I learn so many different things from all the players, and it was like ‑‑ it's like a big family on the LPGA Tour and I just ‑‑ every time we have a tournament, I always get very excited and very exciting to play the tournament. I think that's why I so enjoy it and I keep winning; because I have so much fun and I'm enjoying it.
MODERATOR: Two years ago, you also had a chance to win this tournament and it came down to the end with Na Yeon Choi. I know you two are very good friends. What was this like today, and did you think at all about two years ago and that experience?
YANI TSENG: No, I didn't think anything like two years ago. I kind of forgot and learned from that. She played great and I played good. I did my best, and I feel like she just played better than me and she deserved to win the tournament. Two years after, we both have got some more experience and we both got more wins. It's very different out there.
MODERATOR: You talked this week about how much you enjoy being in Korea and the fans. What was that experience like with so many people out there on the golf course today?
YANI TSENG: It's really amazing. Everybody was like, all the fairways, like in the rough, everybody, it's all full. It was crazy, like so many people on the golf course. And we always get a big crowd. I know in the end my crowd was kind of getting small a little bit but I say, oh, it should be a good shot because not many crowd.
So my caddie was telling me, it's okay, because maybe in Taiwan or somewhere, so many people are like clapping for me in front the TV. But it was really fun to play like in front of those people because it was just they make it very exciting all the time.
Q. When you hit your tee shot on 13th, it actually went to the 14th?
YANI TSENG: Yeah.
Q. And then from the 14th, actually hit onto 13. First, talk about your tee shot on 13 and then what was your strategy, and what your distance was from the 14th to the 13th green?
YANI TSENG: All right. Because when I had a practice round, me and my caddie, we thought maybe go to 14, it's much closer than go to 13, because if it's like not much wind, if I hit a good drive there, the second shot is probably just going to be 200 yards. But like if I'm hitting on the 13th hole and I hit a good shot, I probably still have 230 yards. So if I go to 14, it was just much shorter and I can hit a rescue on the green. Today I have 220, 200 over the water and 220 to the pin.
Q. Can you take me through your strategy on No. 15 when you hit your drive on the green. Did you go in thinking driver all the time, or did Na Yeon's decision factor in?
YANI TSENG: No, I was thinking driver all the time. Like I play very aggressive. But after Na Yeon hit driver, I'm 100 percent sure I'm hitting driver. It was good yardage, like 245 to the front, and I hit a choke‑down driver and I know if I hit it short of the green then it's going to be good. So I hit a perfect drive on the shot. It's very important, it's kind like the turning point for today that gave me a two‑shot lead for the next three holes.
Q. If you didn't make your putt on 18, there was a chance that you could have gone into a playoff. What were you thinking at that point?
YANI TSENG: Like after the first putt, I was thinking I'm stupid, because it's not far. I know if I make a 2‑putt, I can win this tournament. I just hit it too hard, like three feet, and that's a very kind of nervous putt for that. I just told my caddie, and my caddie just told me, it's okay, just treat it like as on the putting green, just like a practice; don't worry about it too much. And I told myself, you know, just keep it simple and take less time and come back and just putt.
Q. After Lorena Ochoa retired from the LPGA and the golf, there have been many players that have held the No. 1 spot on the Rolex Ranking to Jiyai Shin, Cristie Kerr, Ai Miyazato, but starting this season, you have been dominant and you have been on top of that Rolex World Rankings list. Is it because you're a long hitter, or what is the reason you can stay on top and basically put everybody else in your rear‑view mirror?
YANI TSENG: I don't know if it's long hitter, because I feel like my mental game is getting mature and my mental is thinking more positive instead of negative. Just I feel like this year, I can trust in myself more and believe in myself that I can do this and I can win in this tournament, and it just feels so much different than the last three years.
Like this year, I always tell myself to keep my chest up and always keep smile, and if I smile always, that means I enjoy it on the golf course and makes me very relax. And the more relaxed I am, I can play getter golf, too.
Q. At the beginning of the year, we were able to observe sometimes that when your swings were in the rough, that you had reacted negatively before, but today and throughout this week, there has not been many eruptions, we saw that you were smiling and that you were thinking positive about it. So you talked about being more positive and improving your mental game; is there a particular reason or how you have improved your mental game?
YANI TSENG: Like the smile is a big thing on me because smiling can keep me relaxed and keep me not thinking too much. If I try thinking, if I want to be mad, I just say, okay, just smile, everything is going to be fine. Just always looking forward, instead of looking back, why do I do that, why do I do that. So I just say, okay, smile, it will cover everything.