Tanah Merah Country Club, Garden Course
Feb. 24, 2011
First-round notes and interviews
Chie Arimura, -4, Rolex Rankings No. 19
Na Yeon Choi, -3, Rolex Rankings No. 4
Yani Tseng, -2, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Karen Stupples, -2, Rolex Rankings No. 92
Karrie Webb, -2, Rolex Rankings No. 13
Rolex Rankings No. 19 Chie Arimura leads by one-shot at 4-under-par 68 after 18 holes of play at the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore. Arimura, a member of the LPGA of Japan (JLPGA), carded five birdies and one bogey during first-round play at Tanah Merah Country Club’s Garden Course. She has played in 10-career LPGA events as a non-member, including a tie for 32nd at last year’s HSBC Women’s Champions, with a career-best ninth place finish at the 2010 Kraft Nabisco Championship. Arimura went to the same high school as defending champion Ai Miyazato.
Na Yeon Choi, the fourth-ranked player on the Rolex Rankings, leads a pack of players chasing Arimura to become “Champion of Champions” this week in Singapore. “NYC” carded a worry-free 69 to move one shot back of Arimua and one shot better than four players including Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng. Choi, the leading money winner on the 2010 LPGA Tour, has a shot to overtake Tseng as No. 1 in the world this week. Tseng’s rollercoaster day included six birdies and four bogeys to put her into a tie for third at 2-under-par 70 alongside LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Karrie Webb, Karen Stupples and reigning Sybase Match Play Championship winner Sun Young Yoo.
Of note… Karen Stupples teed off on the 10th hole and carded eagles at No. 13 and No. 9… The first-round scoring average was 73.83, more than 1.2 strokes higher than last year’s four-day average of 72.6… Defending champion Ai Miyazato is tied for 31st at 2-over-par 74… 2009 HSBC champion Jiyai Shin is tied for seventh at 1-under-par 71…
Chie Arimura, -4
Q. Tell us about your round today.
CHIE ARIMURA: Today was my first round of golf this year and I felt really nervous. I knew I had prepared well and practised hard on my putting.I am very happy to play here again and had a good round. It has been a great day for me.
Q. You had a bogey at 17th hole. How do you feel about it?
CHIE ARIMURA: Among the 18 holes I only missed out on this one today. It is a shame but I have tried, there is nothing much I can do about it. I did well in other places especially my putting so I have no regret.
Q. How are you going to play the course tomorrow?
CHIE ARIMURA: When I first played in events on the LPGA Tour in America, I was very eager to win and I felt nervous every time I played. But now I work hard and practice a lot, so I will focus on playing my game in order to play well tomorrow and get good results.
Q: Do you have any secret to play well at this course?
CHIE ARIMURA: I don’t have any secret.
Q: Tell us more about yourself.
CHIE ARIMURA: I started playing golf at 10, my father was my first coach. I turned pro when I was 18. Besides golf, I enjoy watching movies and karaoke.
Q: Are you a good singer?
CHIE ARIMURA: No, I am not.
Q: Are you having any English lessons now? Even when you travel?
CHIE ARIMURA: I have English lesson only when I am in Japan. My caddy speaks Japanese and English so he helps me with my English.
Q: Can you tell us a bit more about your outfit today?
CHIE ARIMURA: My sponsor has very cute outfit. When we play in the US, we tend to wear simple outfit. But when we play in Asia, we tend to wear colorful outfits; especially in Japan where it is more fashionable.
Q: What is the name of your sponsor?
CHIE ARIMURA: My sponsor is ViVa Heart.
Q: How much do you admire Ai Miyazato?
CHIE ARIMURA: Ai is a great player. I went to the same high school with Ai, although she is 2 years above me. I always turn to Ai whenever I want a talk regarding golf or personal life, she gives great advice. I respect Ai as a player and friend.
Na Yeon Choi, -3
MIKE SCANLAN: We would like to welcome Na Yeon Choi, NYC into the interview room. A very good day, 3 under par 69, and you are in second place. How did you play?
NA YEON CHOI: I think I had a pretty good round, and I had a couple bogeys out there, but I kept trying to keep my composure and I played with Yani and Christie Kerr and I think it was fun to play with them.
Yeah, that's why I played well today.
MIKE SCANLAN: How good is Yani playing right now?
NA YEON CHOI: I mean, I can tell she's playing more aggressive and very powerful and yeah, looks really confident.
Q. Do you compare your games when you’re out there?
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah, I think I have a good feel about my game. But Yani looks great. I think I learned from Yani today; I mean, she putts, her ball is just over the cup, every putt, like plays really aggressively. So I think kind of have to learn to be like that, be confident. She was very good.
Q. Were the conditions tough out there with the wind
NA YEON CHOI: Well, I got some bogeys, too, but I know I can't control about the score, so I just keep doing, just try my game or play my game. I did my best. Yeah, I think not it doesn't bother me.
Q. The top five players in the world
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah, I'm very honest. I enjoyed playing with them. I think they are the best players in the world. Yeah, it's just really surprised me, playing with them or like in ads for tournament. To play with them, I'm really honored.
Q. Are you surprised that you, Yani, Cristie, Suzann, are not leading right now after the first round?
NA YEON CHOI: No, I think we just played the first round and then we still have to play three more days. So you never know in the first round.
Q. Is there anything that you would change
NA YEON CHOI: With the English? (Laughter) I think really I had a great year last year. I think I will never forget 2010. It really surprised me. Yeah, I'm really happy to play the LPGA Tour and coming to like Asia or Singapore or Thailand, yeah, I'm really happy right now.
Q. So last year was the first time for multiple wins?
NA YEON CHOI: Two years ago I won two times, 2009, and then 2010.
Q. The course, how tough it is playing
NA YEON CHOI: Some holes it's very difficult to read the greens, but I try to accept the course conditions. So I think for everybody it is the same.
Q. What do you think from last year is the difference of the course?
NA YEON CHOI: I think the greens are softer than last year, and then everything is the same.
Yani Tseng, -2
MIKE SCANLAN: We would like to welcome the Rolex Ranking No. 1 player in the world in, Yani Tseng, 2 under par 70 for the day right now and in a tie for third place.Yani, if you would, just take us through the day, I know it wasn't quite as good as would you have liked, but still pretty good.
YANI TSENG: It was like a roller coaster today. I had six birdies, four bogeys and I had two 3 putts. I was really just going for the 3 putts. And the greens, they were a little slower than last week and so I'm still trying to get used to it and I was just having a lot of long putts.
Still in very good position and still three days to go, so I'm still very looking forward to the next three days.
MIKE SCANLAN: Have you done any changes in your routine recently given the attention you've been getting the last couple of weeks being No. 1, have you changed anything?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, more interviews. (Laughter). Lots more interviews. I need more time.
But now I know how to manage it I think, and I would like to share my story, but still very happy to talk to the media.
Q. Do you have a strategy to relax, because the more you relax, the better you play; how do you stay relaxed out there?
YANI TSENG: I felt relaxed right now and the tournament, it gives me a lot more confidence here and I don't feel any pressure, I just am competing with the best players in the world and I enjoy on the Tour and I'm not expecting too much. I know I'm now No. 1 but everybody is still very close and anybody can win the tournament. It's just tough but I'm enjoying here, right now and just keep working hard.
Q. You are enjoying it
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I love it, and my friends told me, if I had a ton of people watching me, they would have fun, too. When I'm enjoying and the people watching me play golf, I want them to enjoy watching me play golf and watching the LPGA players playing golf.
YANI TSENG: Yeah, especially the 3 putt on the par 3, No. 11 and No. 17. I know it was a long putt and I know it was very slow, but I just couldn't control my speed. So I just needed to get better for the speed on the putting green.
Q. When you look back, what did you do
YANI TSENG: No, just stop talking about it and I didn't even really I tried my best. I always stay very focused on one shot at a time and tell myself I tried my best. So just pass and the next hole is a new one.
Q. Do you think more of the top five players should be leading?
YANI TSENG: No, I'm not surprised. I think right here, this is like everybody has been so well, like all of the players have a chance to win the tournament. It's not just the top 5 of us.
So it's really competitive and it's very good for like everybody, and it's so much fun, it's always of the different players, not just the top five or top three or something. There are so many things, everybody have different ways of playing golf and I think it's really a challenge and it's fun.
Q. Do you like to play in the wind?
YANI TSENG: I like wind. Before that I like the wind. I know that I can control better when there is wind. So I don't I still focus on one shot at a time. So when the wind comes, just thinking more and strategy and just need to control my shot and play smarter.
Karrie Webb, -2
Q. Talk about the finish on the 18th?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, it is, whenever you finish with a birdie it's a nice way to finish, but 18 is always a tricky hole so I'll definitely take a three.
Q. And it's not the only tricky hole out there, you've been talking about how you were using a 4 iron on many occasions and half the players out here don't have 4 irons.
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, that's true. I don't think we've ever played this course with that much wind, and it's set in a little bit different direction than what we are used to; so a lot of long par 4s played really long today.
Q. Your game is coming together, you played quite a bit in Australia where you said you were knocking off the rust, a good finish last week in Thailand, are you feeling comfortable?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, last week was really good for my confidence. My ball striking got a lot better and hopefully I can carry it into this week. Today was pretty solid.
Q. Maybe talk us through the birdie there on the last?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, just 3 wood off the tee, little 8 iron to probably ten feet.
Q. Set you up well for tomorrow?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, feels good. I birdied 16 and 18 and had a chance on 17, but you know, I finished two out of three to finish 2 under and 2 under is a good score today, so I'm happy with that.
Q. You mentioned knocking off the rust, three Top 10s in a row, time to take the next step I guess?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, hopefully, just put myself there with a chance on Sunday and we'll see how things go from there.
Karen Stupples, -2
Q. Talk us through the eagles?
KAREN STUPPLES: The first one on 13 was good, I hit a really solid drive. It's a bit of a tricky driving hole. I hit a 3 wood, landed over the green and just rolled over the back and chipped in which was kind of nice.
And the last one on 9 I hit a perfect drive, only hit 5 iron into the green and made about a 30 foot putt. It was really good, kind of needed it. I had made a few mistakes out there, I had a double bogey and a few other bogeys. It was nice, one of those rounds where there was plenty of offense, which counteracted the few squirrely shots.
Q. A lot of players said the pin positions were quite tricky today?
KAREN STUPPLES: They were, they were very tough, made you think a lot of the time, which I don't like doing.
Q. Not very many players under par, with the wind.
KAREN STUPPLES: The wind was really that made some of the shots tough. I found myself having a lot of shots into the wind off of an upslope and those are hard because you are always trying to keep them down and with the upslope they go up in the air and are very hard how.
Q. Did you spend Christmas?
KAREN STUPPLES: Back in England. I was back in England with the family. We rented a flat in Deal, but we spent most of the time with my parents and sister and her son. We had a really nice family time of it and it was really lovely and we made snow men and played snowballs.
Q. So you had quite a bit of time off of golf?
KAREN STUPPLES: Yeah, it was almost four weeks away from golf.
Q. Was it snowy all that time?
KAREN STUPPLES: It snowed for about two weeks it was a week. We were there for two and snowed for a week.
Q. Did you play in Australia?
KAREN STUPPLES: I did, yes.