Sky 72 Golf Club, Ocean Course
Incheon, South Korea
October 8, 2011
Second-round notes and interviews
Soo-Jin Yang -10, Rolex Rankings No. 39
Yani Tseng -9, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Na Yeon Choi -9, Rolex Rankings No. 4
Jiyai Shin -4, Rolex Rankings No. 5
KLPGA member Soo-Jin Yang tied the course record by shooting a 7-under 65 Saturday to capture the second-round lead at the LPGA HanaBank Championship at Sky 72 Golf Club's Ocean Course in Incheon, South Korea. Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng and two-time defending champion Na Yeon Choi sit one shot back of Yang at 9-under-par heading into Sunday's final round.
Yang, who is a three-time career winner on the KLPGA Tour, tallied seven birdies in her bogey-free round to take the outright lead in the tournament. Yang is currently ranked second on the 2011 KLPGA Money List. She will try to become the third non-member to win on the LPGA Tour this season, joining fellow KLPGA Tour member So-Yeon Ryu who won the 2011 U.S. Women's Open and 16-year-old Lexi Thompson who won the Navistar LPGA Classic last month.
Moving closer to the three-peat? For the second-straight day, Na Yeon Choi recorded a bogey-free round at the LPGA HanaBank Championship and her 4-under 68 on Saturday has put her one shot out of the lead heading into Sunday's final round.
That puts Choi within reach of what would be a rare three-peat, having already won the LPGA HanaBank Championship in both 2009 and 2010. Choi is trying to become the ninth player to accomplish the feat of winning a tournament in three straight years.
Players who have won an LPGA tournament three consecutive years:
Patty Berg, World Championship, 1953-55
Betsy Rawls, Tampa Open, 1956-58
Louise Suggs, Dallas Civitan Open, 1959-61
Kathy Whitworth, Orange Blossom Classic, 1968-70
Sandra Haynie, Charity Golf Classic, 1973-75
Annika Sorenstam, Michelob Light Classic, 1997-99
Karrie Webb, Australian Ladies Masters, 1998-2000*
Annika Sorenstam, McDonald's LPGA Championship Presented by Coca-Cola, 2003-05
Lorena Ochoa, Sybase Classic Presented by ShopRite, 2006-08
*Webb also won the Australian Ladies Masters in 2001, but it was no longer an official event on the LPGA Tour.
The LPGA record for consecutive wins at the same tournament is five, which Sorenstam accomplished by winning the Mizuno Classic from 2001-2005.
Birdie and bogey binge continues: After recording 10 birdies to go along with three bogeys in her opening round of 65 on Friday, Tseng continued with another rollercoaster round on Saturday. This time the first-round leader tallied six birdies to go along with four bogeys en route to shooting a 2-under 70.
Although Tseng is still just one shot off the lead heading into Sunday's final round, the No. 1 player in the world acknowledged that she felt she had missed the opportunity to have pulled away from the field due to her mistakes. Tseng is known for her aggressive nature so she was asked if that aggressiveness might have hurt her during the first two rounds, resulting in the large number of bogeys.
“Most of the time when I play a tournament, most of the time I play very aggressive,” Tseng said. “But today, I think I just didn't hit the ball quite as solid as before, and I think that's why I make some mistake.And those mistakes is from the putting, too.
“I think I had two or three 3 putts today, and yesterday I had three 3 putts. If I take those 3 putts down, I think tomorrow will be better. I think speed will be very important for me tomorrow, so I just need to get some more feel about the speed. “
A repeat performance? 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, will be paired together in the final round as they sit one stroke back of leader Soo-Jin Yang.
Tseng said after Friday's round that she hoped to play with Choi again on Sunday. So a media member asked if it was because of what happened two years when Choi defeated Tseng on the 18th hole on Sunday.
“No, I don't want to say that,” Tseng said with a laugh. “You know, every year is different and I think we are both getting improved and become better and better, skills, mental, everything. So I know it's going to be fun and we both are one shot back, so tomorrow is going to be very fun to compete together, match play for three of us. You can shoot a low score here, so maybe like four or five groups back, they still have a chance to win this tournament, too.”
Also back in action: Cristie Kerr isn't the only player returning from injury at this week's LPGA HanaBank Championship. Rolex Rankings No. 5 Jiyai Shin had to withdraw from two LPGA events last month due to a back injury but she's back in the field this week in her home country of South Korea.
Shin said that she first noticed some back pain while playing at the CN Canadian Women's Open in late August but it wasn't until she played in her next event in Korea where she knew something was wrong.
“I changed my swing a little bit,” Shin said. “Like I try to get more distance, so I got more distance, over 15 yards, but that gave pressure on my back and stress, too, so my back was getting tight.
“After Canada, I played in Korea, and you know, normally Korea golf course is very hilly, so when I walked on the mountains, getting more painful. So yeah, it was hard choice, hard to withdraw from a couple of the events. And you know, Arkansas, I won a couple of years ago, so I have a good memory of it there. I really feel sad and sorry about my fans.”
But the time off has been good for Shin. Her back has felt good this week and she's currently sitting in a tie for 12th at 4-under-par after shooting a 68 on Saturday.
“The doctor said, ‘Oh, you're very lucky to come early,'” Shin said, in reference to when she was diagnosed with her injury back in early September. “So I'm clean now and I'm ready for all of the tournaments now. So I feel really good.”
Of Note…Hee Kyung Seo, who is currently leading the 2011 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race, shot a 2-under 70 on Saturday and currently sits in a tie for 31st at 2-under-par…Se Ri Pak was disqualified after the end of the first round due to signing an incorrect scorecard.
SOO-JIN YANG, Rolex Rankings No. 39
MODERATOR: Soo-Jin Yang, currently tied for first with Yani Tseng at 10 under. No bogey and 7 birdies, tied course record Yani set yesterday. Please tell us about your day.
SOO-JIN YANG (through translator): I had a really good feel for my shots starting yesterday. I missed a lot of shots and opportunities out there yesterday but was able to capitalize on those chances today
I've played with Yani Tseng couple of times before. Two years ago at the Australia Open, we played in the final group together. But I was a rookie then and was very nervous. Now I feel like I have been here and have learned how to play with the best. I don't feel much pressure. I don't plan on paying too much attention to what she's doing, but rather just focus on my game.
Q. Do you feel confident?
SOO-JIN YANG: Yes, I am very confident
Q. How do you plan to win this tournament tomorrow?
SOO-JIN YANG: This golf course has wide fairways and big greens, so I feel okay to be aggressive. However, I am not planning to be too aggressive. I want to limit my mistakes and play my game.
In order to win, obviously many things need happen for me, but putting is important and I need to keep my mental focus sharp. I think the most important thing is to keep my focus sharp and play my game.
YANI TSENG, Rolex Rankings No. 1
MODERATOR: We would like to welcome Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng into the interview room today, shot 2 under today and sits one shot out of the lead heading into Sunday's final round. Can you just take me through your day and how you feel heading into Sunday?
YANI TSENG: I feel at this point today, I had lots of shots I should not miss. I make lots of mistakes today. I just didn't finish the way I want. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.
Q. I know yesterday, ten birdies; today, six birdies, but it seems to be the bogeys that are kind of getting in the way, what do you think has been the difference?
YANI TSENG: I know it was really tough. It's hard to make like two good rounds in a row. But I was patient today and tried my best every shot, but I just had too many mistakes. I had six birdies, but I had four bogeys; like yesterday I had three. Hopefully tomorrow I can make birdies but get less bogeys, too. So just concentrate on every shot and not thinking too much and be positive all the way.
Q. Overall making so many birdies, do you feel good about where your game is right now and how you're striking the ball?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I think I feel pretty good right now. If I don't think too much, I just try to do the things that I can do and that I can control and just play one shot at a time, I think tomorrow's going to be fun.
Q. You have five wins already on the LPGA Tour this season, eight worldwide, does it get any easier being in the hunt on Sunday? Does the feeling change at all?
YANI TSENG: I don't know, just get more experience, and then tomorrow, tomorrow is another day and I'm one shot back, so tomorrow I just have to be aggressive and like I say, try to make as many birdies as I can and try to less try to have less mistakes.
And tomorrow I think I play with Na Yeon again, so I think it's going to be fun with all of the big crowds and just so many people that come out and support this. I'm really enjoying the tournament.
Q. I know you know what it's like to defend a title, Na Yeon is going for a three peat here, how impressive is, that just considering to be up near a lead in a tournament and to win it that many times?
YANI TSENG: Very impressed that she had two wins in a row. I think she knows the course very is well. I played with her yesterday and she played awesome. She knows what she's doing. But I think tomorrow, it's going to be very good competing and I think it's going to be tough. You have to play good to win this tournament.
Q. Playing with tomorrow with Soo Jin Yang, what do you know about her?
YANI TSENG: I don't know her really well. Maybe I've seen her face and then I would know.
Q. Playing in Korea, your game is impressive right now.
YANI TSENG: I really enjoy it. I have lots of good friends here and it's always fun to have the gallery follow you. I was really impressed how many people here today was following us, on 18 holes, just everything is a big crowd. When you make par, you make birdie, just everybody goes crazy. So it's really fun, and we should come back every year to play here.
Q. You said earlier that you wanted to play with Na Yeon tomorrow, is it because of the memory of two years ago?
YANI TSENG: (Laughing) No, I don't want to say that. You know, every year is different and I think we are both getting improved and become better and better, skills, mental, everything. So I know it's going to be fun and we both are one shot back, so tomorrow is going to be very fun to compete together, match play for three of us. You can shoot a low score here, so maybe like four or five groups back, they still have a chance to win this tournament, too.
Q. Looked like you were being pretty aggressive because of the conditions your scorecard might indicate the risk/reward with all of the birdies and bogeys.
YANI TSENG: Most of the time when I play a tournament, most of the time I play very aggressive. But today, I think I just didn't hit the ball quite as solid as before, and I think that's why I make some mistake.
And those mistakes is from the putting, too. I think I had two or three 3 putts, and yesterday I had three 3 putts. If I take those 3 putts down, I think tomorrow will be better. I think speed will be very important for me tomorrow, so I just need to get some more feel about the speed.
NA YEON CHOI, Rolex Rankings No. 4
Q. Another nice round.
NA YEON CHOI: Thank you.
Q. So just take me through another bogey free day. You have to feel pretty good about that.
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah, I had another great day today, no bogeys. Weather was great, and the pairing was fun, my group. I feel I missed something on the 18th green. It was almost a birdie chance, and a chance for the reading for tomorrow. But I just missed it. But I'm still satisfied with today and I'm really looking forward to tomorrow floor a three peat.
Q. How long was that putt that you missed on 18?
NA YEON CHOI: Three feet.
Q. Just one of those putts?
NA YEON CHOI: Actually, that pin was exactly the same as last year and two years ago, the final round pin. I thought they were going to put it on there tomorrow, but they put it today. It remind the good memories reminded me today, I have good memories of this course, and especially that pin. But I think maybe, I don't know, maybe too much pressure.
Q. So going into tomorrow, right near the lead, having that chance at a three peat, how good do you feel about that?
NA YEON CHOI: I'm very excited to play tomorrow. I don't know who I'm going to play tomorrow. But yeah, I'm very excited, and you know, the people, big crowd will be here, and tomorrow, too. So I'm very happy that I'm Korean and the tournament is in Korea. I'm very proud.
You know, like my goal is after tomorrow, I don't want to regret for what I play tomorrow. So I will do my best tomorrow and enjoy my game.
Q. What is it about this golf course that seems to bring out the best in your game?
NA YEON CHOI: I don't know, I think just I know the course well. Really, I know the course well, and I know the grass well and even on the greens, the lines, everything. So that's why I'm really comfortable with this course. So I think that's the key.
JIYAI SHIN, Rolex Rankings No. 5
Q. 4 under, nice playing. How are you feeling, and I know this is the first event back after having some time off?
JIYAI SHIN: Yes, it is. I had a break time over one month. Actually yesterday when I came to the golf course, I was really nervous, and because for a long time I didn't play.
I'm not usually have pressure, but I came back to here and I say, my God, so nervous here. And then I play, I enjoy yesterday, and then today, I played early. But still, lots of Korean fans come to watch me. So I appreciate today my gallery. And then, well, actually, the weather is perfect this year, yes, so nice, warm, no wind. Happy to be here.
Q. Can you tell me about the injury? I know it was your back.
JIYAI SHIN: I would say in English, my back I'm thinking. Well, I changed my swing a little bit. Like I try to get more distance, so I got more distance, over 15 yards, but gave pressure on my back and stress, too, so my back is getting tight. And, well, the back pain started at Canada, but it was okay, not bad.
But after Canada, I played in Korea, and you know, normally Korea golf course is very hilly, so when I walked on the mountains, getting more painful. So yeah, it was hard choice, hard to withdraw a couple of the events. And you know, Arkansas, I won a couple of years ago, so I have a good memory of it there. I really feel sad and sorry about my fans.
Q. Feeling good now and the golf swing is feeling good?
JIYAI SHIN: Yeah, the doctor said, "Oh, you're very lucky to come early." So I'm clean now and I'm ready for all of the tournaments now. So I feel really good.