Sunrise Golf & Country Club
Yang Mei, Taoyuan, Taiwan
Second round notes and interviews
October 21, 2011
Azahara Munoz -7, Rolex Rankings No. 39
Anna Nordqvist -7, Rolex Rankings No. 33
Candie Kung -5, Rolex Rankings No. 91
Yani Tseng -5, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Rolex Rankings No. 39 Azahara Munoz and Rolex Rankings No. 33 Anna Nordqvist share the lead at seven-under par after the second round of the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship. The duo holds a two-stroke over Yani Tseng and Candie Kung.
Munoz played flawless golf on Friday to shoot the low round of the tournament with a six-under par 66. While Munoz recorded one eagle and four bogeys on her round, she knows there is room for improvement heading into the weekend.
"I shot much better than yesterday, but I actually didn't play that much better," said Munoz. I just had a really slow startyesterday, I was 3‑over through 5 and then I played pretty good after that."
Nordqvist who is looking to notch first LPGA Tour victory since the 2009 LPGA Tour Championship Presented by Rolex, recorded five birdies and one bogey en route to a second-round four-under par 68. The Swede, who has won twice on the LPGA Tour, contributed good ball striking on a course where hitting the greens is crucial.
"The most important thing is to keep the ball in play and try to hit fairways and try to hit greens," said Nordqvist. "I hit a lot of greens today, so I think that's one of the keys on this course, especially with the wind out here."
Big sister…While all of the locals' eyes might have been on Yani Tseng prior to Friday's second-round, Candie Kung has caused the focus to slightly shift after a stellar four-under par 68. Kung, who is a nine year veteran on the LPGA Tour, notched five birdies and one bogey on Friday to stand two-strokes behind the leaders heading into the weekend.
Rolex Rankings No. 91 Candie Kung has played a big role in Tseng's development as she serves as her big sister who is always there for support.
"She got herself all the attention from her good play," said Kung. "I'm more like a big sister to her. She's a good friend of mine, and very happy for her that she actually got to that No. 1 spot and able to keep it there."
Kung was born in Kaohsiung, Taiwan which is located approximately three hours away from Yang Mei, Taoyuan, Taiwan. Like several LPGA Tour players, Kung made her professional debut on the LPGA Futures Tour where she won the 2001 SBC Futures Tour Championship.
Since her rookie season in 2002, Kung has notched four LPGA victories including the last at the 2008 Hana Bank KOLON Championship. This year, Kung has recorded five top-20 finishes including a season best tie for 13th at the U.S. Women's Open.
Sophomore Success… The tides are starting to turn for last year's Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Azahara Munoz as the energetic sophomore is bouncing back from a relatively slow start to this year's season.
The dynamic Spaniard won over the hearts of many at this year's Solheim Cup where she boasted an impressive 2-1-1 record and helped clinch a European victory for the first time since 2003.
"It's the best week golf‑wise, the best week of my life," said Munoz. "You know, just playing on a team and playing with my friends, and we got along really well."
Since the Solheim Cup, Munoz has finished no worse than a tie for 25th including a career best third at last week's Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. While Munoz still has two rounds of golf standing between her and her first career LPGA Tour victory, a win this week would allow her to cross off another one of her many goals.
"It would mean everything, but we still have two rounds to go so it's a little early to talk," said Munoz during today's post-round interview. "Of course this is what we practice and that's my goal, to win on the LPGA."
Fan pleaser… While Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng is accustomed to a large fan base, the fans at this week's Sunrise Taiwan LPGA Classic have been approaching her in swarms.
Tseng, who is rarely seen without a smile and thrives on interacting with fans, has resorted to signing stickers this week to accommodate her ever adoring followers. After her Friday round of one-under par 71, Tseng distributed her autographed stickers to several fans that could be seen lining the long walkway from the ninth hole to the clubhouse.
The stickers which include Tseng's "Yani" logo are just one of the many items on display this week. Also on display is a Yani Tseng booth where fans can purchase their very own Yani memorable to show their support.
FANtastic…Fans came out in droves during the first two days of the Sunrise Taiwan LPGA Classic with the hope of catching a glimpse of their favorite golfers on the LPGA Tour. Everywhere you turned fans were cheering enthusiastically, asking for autographs, taking photos and showing love for the sport which reigns so close to their hearts.
Attendance numbers for Thursday's first round could be considered the largest of any golf tournament ever played in Taiwan at 11,791, even competing with the 1999 Johnnie Walker Classic where Tiger Woods played in Taipei.
The crowds even impressed Taiwan native and Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng who expressed her enthusiasm on Friday for the large amount of supporters.
"This is the first time in my life I see so many people on the golf course and like all over the fairways and tee and green," said Tseng. "It was really exciting and so much fun to play under the crowd."
Anna Norqvist, who played with Tseng during the first two rounds, knows it is important to stay focus in the midst of the record setting crowds.
"I don't know really what to compare it to," said Norqvist. "U.S. Open maybe or a little bit like Solheim. But you just try not to focus about it."
This week's tournament is being broadcast is 33 different countries allowing fans worldwide to tune into the LPGA's inaugural event in Taiwan.
Of note… First-round co-leader Ai Miyazato shot a second-round one-over par 73 and currently sits in a tie for ninth. LPGA Tour veteran Cristie Kerr recorded an eagle on the ninth but struggled to a one-over par 73. Kerr currently stands at one-under par and is tied for 17th.
Anna Nordqvist, Rolex Rankings No. 33
MODERATOR: All right, I would like to welcome Anna Nordqvist sitting next to me, and Azahara Munoz sitting next to her. Thank you, ladies, for coming in. Anna, can you just tell me about the day?
ANNA NORDQVIST: It's been a great day playing with Yani second day in a row. There are a lot of people out and just so much fun to see the support women's golf has here in Taiwan.
It was a real solid round. I hit a lot of greens in regulation and gave myself a lot of opportunities. So it was really solid, and so I'm really happy with the day.
MODERATOR: Aza, can you just tell me about the day?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Yeah, I was hitting the ball really well. I miss a few greens, but I was still putting, I putted 18 times today so I gave myself a lot of chances. I took a few of them. I made a nice eagle on 6, so that helped, too.
You know, I just played really good, so I'm pretty happy with it.
MODERATOR: Aza, you seem to have been playing well as of late, especially after Solheim Cup. Can you just tell me about that experience?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Solheim was awesome. I mean, it's the best week golf‑wise, the best week of my life. You know, just playing on a team and playing with my friends, and we got along really well. I don't know, the way the tournament is, it was just so much fun.
MODERATOR: This will be your first LPGA victory. Can tell me what that would mean to you?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Well, it would mean everything, but we still have two rounds to go so it's a little early to talk. Of course this is what we practice and that's my goal, to win on the LPGA.
MODERATOR: Anna, this will be your first victory in a couple years? Can you just tell me what it would mean to win here in Taiwan?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Well, like Aza says, this is what you dream of and this is why you practice. Obviously two rounds to go so a lot of golf left, but obviously it would be a nice victory.
Still a lot golf to play. Yeah, there's a lot of play out there, so it'll be a fun weekend for sure.
Q. Anna, can you just talk about where you learned to stay in a bubble in an atmosphere like this?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Well, we tried to yesterday ‑‑ like standing on the first tee, even standing on the first green yesterday it didn't feel like Thursday because there were so much people out. Obviously there is no cameras allowed, but everyone was having the cameras and flashing.
I don't know really what to compare it to. U.S. Open maybe or a little bit like Solheim. But you just try not to focus about it. Obviously everyone is mostly taking pictures when Yani is playing, but the flashes go off and the clinic sound and everything.
So you just have to try and focus on what you're going to do and hit the shot. You know it's going to be there, so you just can't be too upset about it if it does go off when you do swing.
Q. Question for both of you: Can you tell me what you did well today, what particular aspects of today, and especially since we got rainy windy weather, why did you do well today and not quite as well yesterday? Is it anything to do with your equipment or skills that you picked up recently or anything of that sort?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: I shot much better than yesterday, but I actually didn't play that much better. I just had a really slow start yesterday. I was 3‑over through 5 and then I played pretty good after that.
It was rainy at times, but it was never that bad. I don't think it really bothered play that much, so...
ANNA NORDQVIST: The most important thing is to keep the ball in play and try to hit fairways and try to hit greens. I hit a lot of greens today, and sounds like Aza did, too. So I think that's one of the keys on this course, especially with the wind out here.
MODERATOR: Aza, you had an eagle today. Tell me about it. What did you hit?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Yeah, well, I driver in the fairway, and then I hit another 210 uphill. So I hit 5‑wood, and I hit it probably 15, 16 feet, and I made it.
Q. Driver off the tee?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Yes.
Candie Kung, Rolex Rankings No. 91
Q. You're also from Taiwan along with Yani. Can you talk about the role she has played in golf in Taiwan.
CANDIE KUNG: Well, she got herself all the attention from her good play. I'm more like a big sister to her. She's a good friend of mine, and very happy for her that she actually got to that No. 1 spot and able to keep it there.
She's able to bring a lot of the spectators out here this week. I think to make this tournament possible, she played a big part. You know, I had that dream, and I couldn't achieve it when I was in my prime, which was nine years ago. (Laughter.)
Q. How old are you now?
CANDIE KUNG: I'm 30.
Q. What would it mean to you to win here?
CANDIE KUNG: It would be great. I've been playing pretty consistent the last few weeks, just everything hasn't been coming together. It would be great to win here, because I think a lot of people know me, too. They know who I am and they come out and watch. They've never seen LPGA before.
So it will be fun.
Q. What do you think of the crowds this week?
CANDIE KUNG: It's awesome. I was surprised how many people come out and watch. And it's going to be more for Saturday and Sunday. And the weather is going to be better, too.
Yani Tseng, Rolex Rankings No. 1
MODERATOR: Yani, thank you for coming in.
YANI TSENG: Thank you.
MODERATOR: Tell me a little bit about the day.
YANI TSENG: You know, I feel, I mean, I just couldn't make my putt drop in the hole. I had so many putts getting veryclose. I try my best shot, did my best shot every hole every shot, and I just a little disappointed the putt didn't drop. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.
MODERATOR: It seemed like the crowds were almost bigger today than yesterday. How does it feel?
YANI TSENG: Oh, I feel very, very exciting to see all the people here and just very appreciative to coming here to supporting this tournament. Just very, very happy.
But, you know, some time I want to tell them to ‑ because they want to be safety because everybody was trying to push each other. I know sometimes it's very dangerous, so hopefully they can stay better instead of pushing each other.
MODERATOR: Do you think the crowds here compare to any other tournament you've played in?
YANI TSENG: No, I mean, this is the first time in my life I see so many people on the golf course and like all over the fairways and tee and green. It was really exciting and so much fun to play under the crowd.
Q. How did the autograph session go today? Any better?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, it is getting better, but still a little dangerous because they were trying to go over the line. Because I prepared like stickers, yeah, like 20‑30 stickers, and I sign before I played and I gave them to all the kids, all the crowd.
Because if I sign one, maybe everybody is trying to ‑‑ so I just give maybe 20, 30 of them. So I will do that tomorrow and day after tomorrow, too.
Q. I think you were talking earlier in Chinese about educating the crowd about cameras.
YANI TSENG: Yeah.
Q. Do you feel like that's something you need to do?
YANI TSENG: I know feel bad for me to tell them, No cameras, anything, because everybody is trying to tell them that. But sometimes just they're taking the camera at the wrong time. So on No. 6, I just say, Please take your camera before I play or after I play. We already play, so just let me hit this shot and you can take camera.
Because, I mean, I know everybody is very excited because some of the people, like this is first time watch us to play from all the different countries, all the player play on this golf course. So they're very exciting to take camera. So I understand that.
But, you know, just sometimes not at the ball or backswing or downswing.
Q. Was that on the tee that you said that?
YANI TSENG: Yes, yeah.
Q. What do you guys do the rest of the afternoon?
YANI TSENG: Just relax, go work out. I might go do my booth there to say hi to everybody and maybe have fun with them.