Industry Hills Golf Club at Pacific Palms
City of Industry, Calif.
First-round notes and interviews
March 24, 2011
Amanda Blumenherst -7, Rolex Rankings No. 86S
Sandra Gal -6, Rolex Rankings No. 100Michelle Wie -5, Rolex Rankings No. 11
Shooting a 7-under 66, Amanda Blumenherst leads by one shot in the first round of the Kia Classic, which was suspended for darkness at 7:30 p.m. with one player still on the course. Blumenherst birdied the final four holes of her round on Thursday at the Industry Hills Golf Club and shot a 30 on the back nine. She bogeyed two holes and birdied nine, en route to taking the first round lead. Blumenherst’s best finish in an LPGA tournament is a tie for fifth in the 2009 CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge.
Sandra Gal is sitting one stroke behind Blumenherst after shooting a 6-under 67. Michelle Wie birdied the 18th hole, one of seven birdies for her on the day, to shoot a 4-under 69 and she currently sits in third place alone. There is a group of seven players who are four shots back of the leader which includes I.K. Kim, Mika Miyazato, and Jiyai Shin.
Dori Carter was the lone player not to finish Thursday’s round. She will putt out on her 18th hole (No. 9) at 7:15 a.m. on Friday.
Of Note…Yani Tseng, No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings, shot an opening round 2-under 71 and currently sits in a seven-way tie for 10th…Christina Kim eagled the par-four No. 6 hole by draining her second shot from 112 yards with a pitching wedge…Defending champion Hee Kyung Seo shot a four-over-par 77 and is in a tie for 98th place…In her quest for her third straight victory, Karrie Webb is 1-under par and sits in a tie for 18th place with 12 other players.
AMANDA BLUMENHERST, Rolex Rankings No. 86
THE MODERATOR: Welcome, good playing.
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: Thank you very much.
THE MODERATOR: So all the chatter beforehand was that this course was supposed to be hard.
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: Well, maybe they have really hard courses and I play better. It's the easier ones that I don't get. But really I'm playing so well, just the scores have not been coming together. The putts haven't been falling or have kind of gotten just haven't been playing as smart as I should. Just everything came together today.
THE MODERATOR: The last four holes, did something click?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: I made a really good save for par on I can't do the math was it 13 or 14? A great save for par, and that just kind of clicked things and I just started making some really good putts in a row. I had a few shorter ones, but some really good lengthy ones like the one on 18.
Q. How long was the putt you talked about making for par?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: That was probably about an 8 footer.
Q. Are you going to go see Duke play basketball?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: I don't have tickets, so if anyone can hook me up (laughing). But I'll definitely be watching it though.
Q. Overall, what did you like about the course and was there anything particularly hard about it?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: Well, the fairways are extremely soft right now, and so are the greens. So it's playing a lot longer than it says on the card which actually suits me because I'm one of the longer ball strikers out there. So kind of the longer the better. The softer the fairways stay, the better that suits my game. I'm just hitting my irons really solid. I've been hitting my long irons as well as my short irons really well. Kind of have to remember that I'm playing it past the hole because it spun back. I hit one and a spin back on number nine, it never happened before. I hit it pin high, and it spun back 170 feet all the way to the bottom tier, so I learned my lesson on that one.
Q. What were your impressions of the course when you played it during your practice rounds? Was it completely different from the course you played today?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: Not really. I played the practice rounds pretty solid. The first few holes, just because it was so cold, played a little bit longer. I believe it was number 3, the first or the second par 5 played a lot different. I had to take it over all those trees for my third shot. But other than that, really the practice round and the pro ams played very similar to how it played today.
Q. The course is long enough, but with the weather, like you said, how much of an advantage is it for a long hitter on this course?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: Well, for example, I was hitting I think one hole I hit a 9 iron or Marcy hit a hybrid, Marcy Hart. Though she may have put it closer than me. Definitely the hybrids are helping girls having to hit a 3 iron into the greens. But when you're having a 9 iron in your hand even a 5 iron or 6 iron, there is a difference, or even having a 4 iron instead of maybe a 3 wood into a par 3. So it does help.
Q. Obviously, it's exaggerated with the conditions, but even if it dries out, is it still going to be as much of an advantage?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: Maybe the gap will close a little bit. But it's still a long course. It's still a long par and there is one really long par 3. The par 5s aren't reachable, maybe on the last hole on 18, if everything dried out. But really, I don't know how much having the course get much drier, I don't know if it would really change things.
Q. Are you pretty confident that a 6 under on this course today is going to hold up, especially if the weather gets a little bad later on?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: I was very excited, and also I think that it's going to be low. I think any LPGA event I've never seen an LPGA event where the scores aren't low for four rounds, so I'm very happy. But I know I have still a lot of playing. There is a lot of golf left.
Q. Do you feel like it was an advantage to be early today though considering what the forecast is?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: I think so. I think I got on the good end of the deal. I had heard it might rain later this afternoon and maybe into tomorrow morning. So being on the sunny side of things definitely helps. And it started getting a little windy at the end.
Q. How did you end up at Duke? You're from Scottsdale?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: Yes. I'm from Scottsdale. I was born there, grew up in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, actually, and went to Duke. It was between Duke and Stanford, and chose Duke. Fell in love with it. So I wanted to go to a good academic school and also one with a great golf team.
Q. And you do have your degree from there?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: I do. Yes, I graduated in '09.
Q. What had you heard about this course? Had you heard anything about this course before you played it?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: I really hadn't. My dad played it in like '84.
Q. What is your dad's name?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: Dave Blumenherst. He really thought he had the course figured out by playing it 20 some years ago. But he just loved it. He remembers the trolley that he had to take up, which we are not doing. But other than that, I really hadn't heard very much. I'm impressed with how beautiful it is with the scenery around the chipping green especially and putting green on the other side.
Q. Is your dad here?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: He is, and he's very excited.
Q. Did he play it this weekend?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST: Actually, he's right there. He's in the back of the room.
SANDRA GAL, Rolex Rankings No. 100
THE MODERATOR: Welcome, good playing today. Just some thoughts on the round?
SANDRA GAL: Well, I'm happy with my result. I didn't really expect anything, just went out there and tried to hit fairways and greens, and I managed to do that. I really liked the course in my practice round. I felt like it suited my game, and, yeah, so I enjoyed the round.
THE MODERATOR: The four straight birdies, what happened there? Did you just start making some putts?
SANDRA GAL: Well, I went off to a good start, and then in the middle of the round I faltered a little bit. So I think I just got a little bit mad at myself making bogey on 10. I was within 7 feet and made three putt. So after that I tried to steady the ship a little bit. Once you can hit it close and roll the putts then the birdies are coming.
Q. What about the course do you like? The length or the way it's set up or in particular what do you like about it?
SANDRA GAL: I really like that every hole is totally different. It feels like every hole is a new adventure. It's not kind of one of those courses where you don't remember number 6 or something. Although I don't want to call myself on that, but every hole is really different. Just a beautiful set up. Lots of ups and downs and hilly. You've got to hit the right tier, so I just enjoy that.
Q. You said that the course suits your game. How so?
SANDRA GAL: I think it's a ball striker's course. You've got to hit the fairway and be precise with your yardages. So I think that's my game.
Q. You wouldn't consider yourself a long hitter by any means?
SANDRA GAL: I do.
Q. Because it's been playing into that sounds like that's another advantage that it's been playing for the long hitters?
SANDRA GAL: Yes.
Q. Do you think it will stay that way the rest of the week if the conditions dry out?
SANDRA GAL: I heard we're supposed to have some more rain maybe overnight. So I suppose tomorrow could be wet too, but that's one day Tuesday that was sunny that really dried out the course for Wednesday. So I think it can dry out pretty quickly for the weekend.
Q. So will you have the same advantage, do you think, if it does dry out or will it be not as much of an advantage? How do you think it will play out if it dries out?
SANDRA GAL: You still got to hit the fairway and the greens (laughing). It might be more favorable to the shorter hitters, definitely. But, you know, I don't think it's going to change much.
Q. Nothing considerable?
SANDRA GAL: No.
Q. Had you heard anything about this course before arriving here, its reputation?
SANDRA GAL: No, I didn't.
SANDRA GAL: I think before I started the first one off of four, I made like a 9 footer for par, so that I think kind of got me going. No magic, really. I just hit it close to the pin and focused on making the putt and that was really it.
Q. Would you say you putted well today?
SANDRA GAL: Yes.
MICHELLE WIE, Rolex Rankings No. 11
THE MODERATOR: Welcome. Good playing today. Just some thoughts on the round.
MICHELLE WIE: Cold, it was very cold out there, especially during the end. But it was a lot of fun playing with Maria and Ai. It was a lot of fun playing with them. It's a tough course. You've got to be patient out there, and hopefully tomorrow do the same thing and hopefully have a couple more birdies.
THE MODERATOR: Just want to run through lengths of birdie putts. Birdie on 1?
MICHELLE WIE: Probably about 15 feet.
THE MODERATOR: 6?
MICHELLE WIE: Probably like 12 feet.
THE MODERATOR: Okay, 10?
MICHELLE WIE: Like 3 feet, 4 feet.
THE MODERATOR: 11?
MICHELLE WIE: Same thing.
THE MODERATOR: 14, how far out were you and what did you hit?
MICHELLE WIE: 14, I hit a pitching wedge about 115.
THE MODERATOR: That was three feet?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah.
THE MODERATOR: 16?
MICHELLE WIE: 7 iron to about 20 feet.
THE MODERATOR: And 18?
MICHELLE WIE: On the green in two, so about two putt from about 40 feet.
Q. What club did you hit on your other birdies and what clubs did you hit on 18 to reach the green in two, and how far out were you?
MICHELLE WIE: First hole pitching wedge, and I don't know the rest, and 3 wood on 18.
Q. From how far?
MICHELLE WIE: 240.
Q. What are the keys both mentally and physically on a day like today that's a long day, a cold day, and a long course?
MICHELLE WIE: I guess just being patient. You're not going to play fast today. You're not going to be warm. So just kind of accepting those facts and just kind of having fun.
Q. How hard is it to learn to be patient as a pro? Is that something that took you a while to learn how to do?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I think so. I think that naturally I'm a quite impatient person, so it's always a work in progress to try to be patient. So I'm still working at it.
Q. Obviously, you have the length, but it certainly looked like your irons were working well for you today. Was that the case?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I think just kind of go out there and get into rhythm. It's only day one, so hopefully day two, day three, day four, it will all still be good.
Q. You had a couple that were within three or four feet. So it's obviously, if you can keep that going throughout the week, you should be in good shape.
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, that would be great.
Q. How much of an advantage is length out here?
MICHELLE WIE: I think that it's an advantage, but obviously it's a very tight golf course, so you have to be on the fairway. I think that you have to have a combination of both.
Q. It's pretty penal if you're off the fairway, isn't it?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, it's a tough golf course.
Q. The talk before the tournament was on how difficult this course is and yet some players, including yourself, have shot some pretty impressive numbers. Are you surprised at how many players are under par?
MICHELLE WIE: I saw Amanda's score in the morning, and I was like she played really well. I was trying to go out there and shoot a low score. It is a tough golf course. It is.
Q. How many bad swings do you think you had today?
MICHELLE WIE: I don't know. I think in every round there are always a couple, but, yeah, a couple here and there.
Q. And how many putts within 10 feet did you have on the front nine that you didn't make?
MICHELLE WIE: I had quite a few, actually. But I think the greens are pretty tricky here, so it's hard to read a couple of them.
Q. What classes do you still have to you talked yesterday about going to school and still taking classes. What are you taking?
MICHELLE WIE: Right now it's spring break, so I have nothing to study. I'm reading for leisure.
Q. How long till you graduate? Do you know what year would you be considered?
MICHELLE WIE: Next March I'd be graduating.
Q. Do you plan to do that by next March?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah.
Q. Did you play golf better today than you did on your finals?
MICHELLE WIE: I don't know. I think a lot better than I did in my finals (laughing).
Q. What would it mean to get your first U.S. win? Is that something you think about? They mentioned it on TV. Does that matter to you?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, it matters. It's still day one, so there is a lot of golf to be played until round four. So just going to go out there and think about each shot.