Siam Country Club, Old Course
Chonburi, Thailand Feb. 19, 2011
Third-round notes and interviews
YANI TSENG, -9, Rolex Rankings No. 1
I.K. KIM, -8, Rolex Rankings No. 7
MICHELLE WIE, -8, Rolex Rankings No. 11
PAULA CREAMER, -7, Rolex Rankings No. 10
KARRIE WEBB, -6, Rolex Rankings No. 14 and LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member
Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng leads entering the final round of the Honda LPGA Thailand. The 2010 Rolex Player of the Year eagled the par-5 18th hole on Saturday to take a one-shot lead at 9-under-par 207 over first- and second-round leader I.K. Kim and Rolex Rankings No. 11 Michelle Wie. Tseng is in search of a win for the third-consecutive week following victories on the Ladies European Tour in Australia each of the last two Sundays. The Taiwan native and Orlando resident has five-career LPGA victories, including three major championships, and is quickly approaching the $5 million mark in career earnings. Tseng carded five birdies, three bogies, one double bogey and the 18th hole eagle for a round of 2-under-par 70.
Some of the LPGA’s top names are in pursuit of Tseng for the season-opening title. Michelle Wie, seeking her third LPGA title in three years, and three-time winner I.K. Kim are tied for second at 8-under-par 208. Each closed Saturday’s second round with back-to-back birdies to put the pressure on Tseng come Sunday. Reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion Paula Creamer birdied three of her final five holes to sneak into solo fourth. Creamer, who would cross the $8 million mark in career earnings with a win tomorrow, is in search of her 10th LPGA victory and redemption for a withdrawal from the 2010 Honda LPGA Thailand due to a thumb injury. Not to be forgotten is LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Karrie Webb, who turned in a 4-under-par 68 on Saturday to move into fifth at 6-under-par 210. Webb, a 36-time winner Tour winner, is second all-time in LPGA history with more than $15.7 million earned.
Of note… 15-year-old Thai amateur Ariya Jutanugarn turned in the round of the day with a 4-under-par 67 and sits in a tie for 11th… LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Juli Inkster held the third-round lead after birdies at holes one and three, but shot 2-over-par 74 and is tied for seventh... 14 players are within six shots (the number Ai Miyazato trailed entering last year’s final round) of the lead… Three players – Tseng, Wie and Creamer – have broken par each round… Saturday’s course average was 73.65, nearly 1.3 strokes higher than the previous two rounds
Yani Tseng, -9
Q. On her day.
YANI TSENG: It was a very exciting finishing eagle, that’s for sure. Nice to have a one-shot lead over I.K. and Michelle. It was better for me today. A tough start with a double bogey on the second hole, but I had a good comeback and I stayed really patient today. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
Q. Distance on eagle putt?
YANI TSENG: Four feet.
Q. On the conditions.
YANI TSENG: Much hotter. Feels like a sauna. No breeze. Kept drinking water on every hole. It was tough out there. Everybody’s like this. I think last year played very different than this year. You can look at the scores, they’re so different.
Q. Do you feel like you’re No. 1 in the world based on the level of golf you’re playing?
YANI TSENG: I don’t know. I still have lots of things to learn. I still need to keep working hard. A long way to go. I’ll keep working hard to be No. 1.
Q. Talk about tomorrow… you’ve won twice in the last two weeks, how nice would it be to get a third?
YANI TSENG: It would be great. Right now, I’m prepared and not afraid when I’m on top. I know how to win a tournament. I’m going to go enjoy the tournament like today. I might play with Michelle Wie tomorrow so I’ll enjoy the big crowd.
Q. On being in control of her round.
YANI TSENG: Yesterday was tough, so today I told myself to enjoy it. I don’t want to think too much. I don’t put too much tension on myself. I wanted to stay relaxed. Don’t be afraid if I miss a shot. If I bogey a hole, I’ll birdie the next hole. Keep smiling and relax.
Q. How many under do you need tomorrow?
YANI TSENG: It’s not Thursday anymore. Sunday is Sunday. I don’t think there will be really low score, but someone could come from behind. Probably 5-under tomorrow would win it. Tough to say. This golf course, if you make lots of putts, you can play well.
Q. On the pressure tomorrow
YANI TSENG: I enjoy the pressure.
I.K. Kim, -8
Q. On her round.
I.K. KIM: I just had a really rough start, like yesterday. I had the same mindset through all 18, very relaxed. I think some holes played really tough and you have to miss in the right spots. I didn’t really do that very well on the front-nine. I tried to play smart on the back, dropped some putts with a lot of break. That’s how I finished. I feel much better on the back-nine.
Q. On her week.
I.K. KIM: It’s been really nice. I really enjoy Thailand, the people, the galleries, they’re amazing and cheerful. I had a great start, but it’s been hard. I learned more about myself the last two days. I don’t know if I’m in the last group tomorrow, but I wish I do. I’ve learned some things and I’m very excited about this week.
Q. On what she has to shoot tomorrow.
I.K. KIM: I never had a target this week. I should’ve had something. I’d like to start early tomorrow. To be able to do that, I have to hit more fairways on the front-nine. I missed two in the bunker and had to lay up today. I just have to hit fairways and greens.
Q. Comparing her game to Michelle Wie.
I.K. KIM: Her game is a little different. She managed hers very well today. It wasn’t easy out there with the conditions and everything. We have a different game.
Q. On trying to beat Yani.
I.K. KIM: She’s on a roll. I have to do my job, play my game, play well. She also has to bring hers. I think it’ll be really fun tomorrow to see how it goes. It’s early in the year. Should be fun.
Q. On the state of Korean golf.
I.K. KIM: I think it’s been competitive for the last 10 years. We all grew up together, the Korean players, so we always have been really competitive. The LPGA Tour is such a great tour because there is so much diversity. Players from each country, everyone playing out here and competing at a high level. The Tour has been getting much stronger over the years.
Michelle Wie, -8
Q. On her round.
MICHELLE WIE: On the front-nine, I putted horribly, couldn’t make a single thing, but on the back-nine I put myself together. It was hot out there and you have to focus because you find yourself getting tired. Tomorrow, hopefully I’ll get started off good, make birdies and learn from my mistakes.
Q. On birdies at 17 and 18
MICHELLE WIE: It was big. It was crucial. Felt good to make them.
Q. Comparing to last year.
MICHELLE WIE: It’s tough because it’s hot. It’s getting firmer out there. I had fun last year and I’m having fun this year. Hopefully I can make more birdies tomorrow.
Paula Creamer, -7
Q. On her day.
PAULA CREAMER: I started off not great, 1-over after the first hole. I haven’t played the par-5’s that well. I finished strong, played a lot better on the back-nine than the front. Kind of settled down. The golf course is playing awesome. It’s playing hard and in certain spots you can’t get up and down. Tomorrow the pin placements will be just as tough as today so you’ll have to be consistent.
Q. On being in the hunt this year versus withdrawing last year.
PAULA CREAMER: It’s definitely nice to tee it up on Sunday. This time last year I was seeing doctors. Everything happens for a reason. It was unfortunate that it happened here in Thailand, but it did and I wanted to come back and give myself an opportunity on Sunday. That’s what I’ve done.
Q. On her offseason.
PAULA CREAMER: I worked really hard this offseason. I didn’t take a whole lot of time off because I felt like last year I took a lot of time off with my thumb. I wanted to work hard. I worked out a lot. I’ve gained a lot of distance, hitting it much further than I have. I feel really healthy. It’s been my goal to get strong and it’s starting to pay off.
Q. On being a role model and how she sees the LPGA in Thailand.
PAULA CREAMER: Being a role model is incredible. I’m 24-years-old and to come out to every country and see little girls in pink following you is amazing. I had a girl follow me for 18 holes today in her pink shorts and ribbon. It’s really nice to see that you have an impact on junior golf. That’s what the LPGA is trying to do, influence young girls to get involved in golf. If I can be an ambassador for that, I’ll take that role. It’s a big role, but someone has to do it. All of us are trying to motivate girls to get into golf. It’s an amazing sport. You can play for a very long time. Having it across the world and being so global is amazing for us.
Q. On tomorrow’s strategy.
PAULA CREAMER: You have to take advantage of the par-5’s and if you look at my scorecard I think I’m even-par on the par-5’s. Tomorrow, I’m going to try and go out there and play those holes my best. There’s a bunch of pin placements tomorrow you can’t go for. You’ll have to take par. But like today, I started out bad, but finished strong on the back-nine. You can get hot and play a couple birdies. The greens are so fast and you can’t put the ball in certain spots.
Karrie Webb, -6
Q. Talk about your day.
KARRIE WEBB: Really solid day. Gave myself a lot of opportunities. The greens are really fast and I hit it close, but didn’t give myself easy putts. Felt like I left a few out there, but I stayed patient and I’m pretty happy with 4-under.
Q. Just talk about your offseason, anything you were working on.
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, I didn’t do a lot after I played Lorena’s event until the New Year. I did a little bit, but not much. I was back in Florida in January and practiced like I do every year, worked out, all that stuff. Last two weeks have been a little scratchy ballstriking-wise, but the last two days I’ve been happy with the way I’ve swung it.
Q. Feel good to be in the hunt?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, it does, it feels great.