Bay Course at Seaview – A Dolce Resort
First-round notes and interviews
June 3, 2011
Jiyai Shin -5, Rolex Rankings No. 3
Sandra Gal -4, Rolex Rankings No. 34
Catriona Matthew -3, Rolex Rankings No. 38
Cristie Kerr -2, Rolex Rankings No. 4
Lindsey Wright -2, Rolex Rankings No. 101
Karrie Webb -1, Rolex Rankings No. 9
Jiyai Shin fired a 5-under 66 in the first round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic on Friday to take a one-shot lead over Sandra Gal. The No. 3 player in the Rolex Rankings recorded six birdies and one bogey during her round, which featured windy conditions on the revamped Bay Course at Seaview – A Dolce Resort. After winning twice on the LPGA Tour last year, Shin is still seeking her first victory of the 2011 season. Her best finish this year came when she was runner-up at the Kia Classic back in March.
Déjà vu? Not only did Shin and Gal fire the top two scores of the day on Friday, they did so while playing in the same group. The two players are certainly familiar with playing together. The two dueled for the Kia Classic title in the final pairing of the tournament’s final round. Gal defeated Shin with a birdie on the 18th hole to take a one-shot victory and become a Rolex First-Time Winner. And Friday’s round reminded Shin of that final day at the Kia Classic.
“We played a great match in March at Kia,” Shin said. “So I have a good memory with Sandra. So today it's really close to the Kia tournament, because we play so great and then she made a lot of great birdie putts and I made a couple of putts, too. So I think really good, happy to play with Sandra. I think we play tomorrow, too, I guess.”
Kerr’s 2-under-par 69 put her in a tie for the early lead with Lindsey Wright after the morning rounds on Friday. Kerr, the 2004 champion at the ShopRite LPGA Classic, rallied from a 2-over-par start through six holes. She made four birdies in her final 10 holes to finish the day at -2 and three shots back of the leader. Wright appeared to build off of her runner-up finish last week at the HSBC LPGA Brasil Cup 2011. Wright had four birdies and two bogeys
Tough to go low: Of the 150 players who teed off in Friday’s first round, only 13 finished the day under par. Windy conditions and some changes to the golf course this year produced tough scoring conditions for most of the players. While there were only 13 rounds under par, there were a total of 18 rounds in the 80s. And many players felt that last year’s winning score of 16-under by defending champion Ai Miyazato would be hard to match.
“The conditions were tough," said Kerr. "I started out on the back nine, and that's probably the toughest it’s ever played in all the years I've played here. The wind direction was just a slight bit different. There were a lot of holes that played into the wind. The tougher holes actually played into the wind."
Of Note…Defending champion Ai Miyazato shot a two-over 73 and is currently tied for 44th…The field will be cut to top 70 players and ties after Saturday’s second round…Joanna Coe, who is from nearby Mays Landing and is playing as a sponsor’s exemption this week, shot a 15-over 86 on Friday. This is the first tournament that Coe has played since turning professional.
JIYAI SHIN, Rolex Rankings No. 3
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Jiyai Shin, our current leader. Congratulations on your round today, 5-under. What was it that went well for you today?
JIYAI SHIN: Okay. Thank you for coming here. And, well, my tee time was in the afternoon. So I was a little bit worried about the wind, because when I came for practice, it was so windy. So I'm guessing, oh, today my goal is maybe even or just 1 under par. And I started the first hole with great shot, great second shot. And when I hit the putting, the winds take it a long way.
So I'm thinking, again, oh, it's really tough. And second hole I made a great birdie. So I feel a little bit confidence after the second hole's birdie. I've been practicing a lot of the putting this week. And today my putting was great, good work, and my shot also, and I didn't miss any fairways. I missed a couple of holes, three or four holes, the greens. But it's pretty good play with this wind.
Q. To get a birdie on No. 2, one of the hardest holes out here, that had to be a nudge of confidence for you?
JIYAI SHIN: Yes. I was practicing on Monday, Tuesday, second hole was into the breeze. It was a really strong hole. So when I was standing on the tee today, it was a little bit down breeze. So maybe I play with a short club, and I hit 7 iron out there, great hit, and I made a great birdie.
Q. About how far was the putt on No. 2 for birdie?
JIYAI SHIN: Well, it's almost 30 feet, yeah, behind the pin, downhill, left to right laug.
Q. Are you talking when you got here for practice today, was that today when you came here to warm up for your round, you noticed the wind was, you're talking about today then?
JIYAI SHIN: Yes, yes, because when I played the Pro Am with the wind, it's a totally different direction. So today too much thinking about the wind before the play. But fortunately the wind direction, every hole is the same. It doesn't change, doesn't turn around, the wind, the same way. So I think my caddie is a really good help. He's great with the wind.
Q. And you didn't play here last year; I think you had your appendectomy and missed the tournament. What have you heard about the course, or did you have any expectations coming here this year for the first time?
JIYAI SHIN: Well, first I really appreciate for a lot of people's warm welcome to here, because first time here. So I am really excited to play. And a lot of players say: This is your course, because it's not far, because drive has to hit certain spots and it's not a long course. So I'm not a long hitter. So a few players said it's really great for me.
Q. You played in the same group with Sandra. Did the fact that both of were you playing well, did that help?
JIYAI SHIN: Yes, yes, I think so. Because when I make birdie, she make birdie also. And I think oh, okay just more like – ugh, my English.
THE MODERATOR: Like competitive?
JIYAI SHIN: Yeah, and we played at the Kia, we played great match in March. So I have a good memory with Sandra. So it's really close to the Kia tournament, because we play so great and then she made a lot of great birdie putt and a couple of putts, too. So I think really good, happy with the play with Sandra. I think we play tomorrow, too, I guess.
Q. Did you find that the wind died down as the day went on, or was it much pretty much the same wind the whole way?
JIYAI SHIN: It was pretty much the same way the whole way because not much trees, no mountains [to make the wind change]. This is, fortunately, good for the players.
Q. This year you played well at times, you've played not well, what's the state of your game?
JIYAI SHIN: Well, actually, I worked really harder practicing for, prepare for this season. And I came here a little up and down. My shot was great, but my putter didn't work through two tournaments. I practiced a lot with the putter. When I was in Japan a couple of months ago, I was practicing 28 hours for five days. So it's a lot. And then it feels it's coming now and I have a great feeling with the putter.
SANDRA GAL, Rolex Rankings No. 34
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Sandra Gal. Nice round. 4 under par. One shot off the lead. You're no stranger to the leads this year. You won at the Kia Classic, first ever win this season. You've been playing quite well. What's going right for you?
SANDRA GAL: If I would know I would tell you. You know what, I'm just having a good time out there. And it's just fun playing with good other players and in front of a lot of crowds and just trying to entertain them, really.
THE MODERATOR: Not everyone here may have seen it, but on the 15th hole you were plugged -- almost plugged -- in the lip of the bunker, and you hit it out to tap in range. Did that kind of help your round toward the end of the day with the wind?
SANDRA GAL: Yeah, it definitely did. That hole was playing really tough. The wind was left to right. I was trying to hold it into the wind, and I pulled it a little bit. When I came up there, it was like my goodness, it was like I had no stance, and I was trying to get it, it was plugged, just open my face and hit it as hard as I can over the lip, and just one of those shots that you hit once in a lifetime, I guess.
THE MODERATOR: Could you talk about the response you've had going back to Germany, from the media, from the fans, after you won the Kia Classic, went back a couple of weeks ago?
SANDRA GAL: I had such a good time in Germany. The first few days I barely had time to prepare for the tournament. It was just media, basically from 8:00 in the morning until 10:00 at night, a lot of interviews and a lot of TV.
They were curious, how is she going to play, what's she look like, what's she doing. It definitely wasn't the best preparation, but it was a lot of fun just getting to know German fans and all the people that came out. I think we had 32,000 spectators over the four days. So I just felt very lucky to have that attention and appreciation.
Q. Sandra, we're just wondering, the people who teed off in the morning didn't fare as well score wise and people in the afternoon played very well score wise but the wind didn't seem like it changed much. What was your preparation going out there? Did you figure when you got here this morning, uh oh, the wind's really going to make it really tough on all of us?
SANDRA GAL: I always believe conditions are the same for everyone. So I just enjoy it no matter what. But the Pro Am yesterday, we had the same strength of wind. So I kind of knew what we were going to get into this afternoon. I didn't know that the morning times didn't play as well. I don't know what the reason is for that.
Q. It didn't bother you at all, didn't affect your focus at all?
SANDRA GAL: No, not at all. As I said, it's part of the golf course. Wind/no wind, you just have to take it as it is.
Q. Did you feed off of Jiyai and you both playing well in the same group?
SANDRA GAL: I think definitely. I love playing with her. I think she's a huge inspiration. Her tempo is so good, and her putting, she's just talking to the hole every time. So it's always fun to play with her.
Q. Did you play together in Kia, too?
SANDRA GAL: Yeah, last two rounds.
Q. Just curious, this is sort of a watershed for German golf, the fact that Martin's done so well concurrent with you, do you think that has helped you or vice versa? Do you know him?
SANDRA GAL: Yeah, we come from the very same area in Germany. We played Junior Golf together, but then our paths just went different directions. You know, I think it's amazing what he's achieved in such a short time, being No. 1 in the world. So you it's possible. That's definitely something that I aspire to as well.
So if you have someone do it in front of you, just like Bernhard did, he functions as a role model as well. So, yes.
Q. Can you talk about what the win at Kia has done for your confidence?
SANDRA GAL: I always believed I could win, but you've got to do it first. So I think it did a lot for my confidence knowing that you can play with the best and you can actually beat them. And I'm just trying to continue to play good golf and enjoy myself out there.
Q. Can you quickly give us the length on the birdie putts?
SANDRA GAL: Length, right. What was the first one? No. 2, right? It was about 13 feet. What was the next one? I don't have them marked
SANDRA GAL: Ten feet.
SANDRA GAL: No. 10, that was a tap in, yes.
SANDRA GAL: Six feet.
SANDRA GAL: Seven feet.
SANDRA GAL: There was a bogey there?
SANDRA GAL: I forget them. Oh, yeah, actually it was such a tough putt going over the ridge. I hit a really good putt and then Jiyai missed her short putt. It was the same one I had. I missed it right after. It's kind of strange. I didn't think I had such a bad putt, but it just didn't break at all. I don't know. One of those things.
Q. Did you get angry?
SANDRA GAL: Yes.
Q. Sort of to piggyback off that question. At 15, playing alongside the leader, you hit a great shot. Then at 18, after a putt, it seemed to break the opposite way you thought it would break, you come back and kind of backdoor that one, too, give yourself a chance. Does having been in this situation and sort of been under the spotlight, does that help you in those situations now? Did it help you move forward at all?
SANDRA GAL: Yes, I think so, definitely. When you know you can do it under pressure when there's a lot of people, definitely it helps you in the future. I think a great learning experience was my time in Germany as well. It was just every fairway was packed with people and all the media there.
So it couldn't get really much worse, you know, [makes quotation gesture], than it was there. So definitely, definitely it helps, yeah.
Q. How did you do there?
SANDRA GAL: I finished seventh.
CATRIONA MATTHEW, Rolex Rankings No. 38
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Catriona Matthew into the interview room. Congratulations on your round today. Can you just take us through the day a little bit and how you were able to shoot so well in these conditions.
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yes. Obviously it was pretty windy out there. I've been playing well coming into this week, and just went out there and played really well. Hit a lot of greens. Hit the fairways, didn't make it into the rough, which probably causing havoc for some people.
But, yeah, I birdied the first hole. Hit probably my worst drive into the bunker on the right. Had a good shot out about ten feet and holed that for birdie. Birdied the par 5 and chipped up to about 10 feet and holed that one. And then 8 and 9 what did I do on 8? Oh, yeah, I just lift a wedge and hit it about 12 feet and holed that for birdie. And then on 9 I hit the green in two and 2 putted for birdie.
On the back 9 10, I was kind of in between an 8 and a 9, and I went with a 9. And it just came up at the front of the green and 3 putted. Then 14, hit a good wedge into probably 10 feet and holed that one for birdie. And 16, I thought I'd actually hit a really good second shot, just a little 6 iron, and I think the wind just dropped, it just went a little bit long and I didn't get up and down. But apart from that I felt I played really well.
Q. What did you think of the conditions, the wind? And you've obviously had a lot of success at the British Open, does this kind of condition fit your game?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: It's usually windy here, but this week has been exceptionally windy. I've not known it as windy as this in the past. The look of the course is, kind of a slight lengthy look to it; so, yeah, it does make you kind of feel like that a little bit.
Q. Did the wind cause like some indecision out there at certain times, like were you between clubs, and did you have to like really think before pulling a club today?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Between clubs, I mean a few times. I think you just had to the greens out there are quite small. I think the pins are at the back. I wasn't being too aggressive, just aiming for the middle of the greens and that would give you a decent putt at it. Probably wasn't really being too aggressive, just trying to hit the greens in that wind and take the putt that I got.
Q. How did the conditions change as the day changed? Did it get more benign? Tougher?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: No, actually, I would say it probably there, from finishing on the last hole, I don't know whether it was sheltered, but that was probably the first time I felt the wind probably dropping slightly. Apart from that, it was pretty constant all day.
Q. When you started your conversation, did you say you had not been playing well coming into this?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: No, I had been playing well.
Q. Okay. The other thing I was going to ask about was is the rounds were five hours, maybe longer. Was that tough to deal with?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, I mean, it was pathetic, the pace of play. I don't know if it was just too many people in the field to get around. But, yeah, I don't know what we can do about that.
Q. Obviously in the past here the scores have been super lower than they were today. Do you prefer days like this where the wind's up and it's tougher conditions, or do you prefer those more sort of benign conditions?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: I mean, obviously today I liked it today. Obviously played well. Probably like it. It’s a little bit more testing than just flat camp, when it becomes more just a putting contest on this course.
Q. One of the things that seemed pretty constant was people just sort of not knowing which club to hit, what kind of shot to hit, waiting for the wind to shift and looking for the ball in this fescue. Do you think that naturally leads into five, five and a half hour rounds?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yes. Obviously the wind makes it slower than normal. I mean, the rough is just crazy in places. I mean, I can see how you could be looking for golf balls. We were fortunate in our group that we probably only looked a couple of times. But the wind does definitely make it slower.
Q. You mentioned you came in here playing well. Has that been the way you've been playing all season, or were there a few lulls here and there?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Well, you know, I haven't played a whole lot yet this season. But, yeah, I've played well. I played well at the start of the year, couple of top 10s out in Asia. I played well in LA and just had a bad week at the Nabisco.
And then I had a few weeks off and felt I played well in the match play but was playing against Na Yeon Choi, and I played well, but match play, she just played that a little bit better. I played pretty well down in Brazil last week. So it's nice to get into some tournaments to get some kind of match fit.
Q. What's it been like having to sit out so much early in the season, like you said, when you're trying to get some rhythm going in your golf game?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Obviously it's not ideal. But for me it's probably not quite as bad as others. I've got two small children. We've been moving house and just been busy in different ways.
CRISTIE KERR, Rolex Rankings No. 4
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Cristie Kerr into the interview room. Congratulations on your round today. Can you take us a little bit through your round? Everybody's been talking about the tough conditions and how there haven't been many players shooting under par. What went right for you today?
CRISTIE KERR: It played really tough. I started out on the back nine, and that's probably the toughest it’s ever played in all the years I've played here.
Played really tough. It was just the wind direction was just a slight bit different. So there were a lot of holes that played into the wind. The tougher holes actually played into the wind. And the 11th hole was my first bogey of the day, my second hole. I almost birdied the first hole. Actually hit a great shot into the green, went over the green and it was kind of moundy around the hole. And didn't get up and down and so made bogey and missed a short putt which would have been a great up and down on 16. I think it must have been three and a half feet, but that pin was way back in that new section. And it was just nobody made par on it. And I was able to birdie 18. I got there in two. And I was able to make the comeback putt for birdie.
I played great on the front. I started out great on the front by birdieing 3, par 5, and then 4, and I almost made two on the 9th hole. I absolutely controlled the trajectory on those two shots, perfectly on the tee shot and absolutely ripped the 3 wood up there. I just didn't hit my putt with enough speed and it barely missed. That was an easy birdie there, but it was almost a two. It would have been a cool way to end.
I played great today and the conditions were really tough. The old 11th hole, which is now the 14th hole, that par 3, we all had 3 wood in there. And I was the only one that made par. And there was a double and a triple in my group. So that's telling you how tough it played today. The greens are really bouncy. And I was able to control my golf ball today.
Q. As you know, usually the scores are kind of really low here. When you're two over through four or five holes, do you almost have to change your mindset or look at the scoreboard and see that everybody else is struggling, because in a normal year two over through five or six holes means you're in a lot of trouble, but this year you're still right there?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, I mean the conditions were tough. And you could see from the morning rounds that nobody was really shooting under par. I looked up, and you know there's seven or eight scores on the board, then it switches again, seven, eight scores.
And I didn't see really anybody under par. So I kind of knew to just hang in there, there would be some birdie opportunities. And I had to play well to get them on the front. That's how well I played. So, yeah, this course is playing much harder than it has in years past.
Q. How difficult were the greens getting out there with the wind kind of drying them out in the sun and all?
CRISTIE KERR: They were holding true. These greens have been really good in the past. And this is probably the best I've ever seen these greens. They've done a marvelous job in getting the course in shape.
And I think they were syringing the 5th green when we were there. Yeah, because I landed a it was a partial wedge shot, mind you, but I landed it three yards short of the hole which was too far. But it went 35 feet past the hole. So there are a couple of greens that are really firm out there. The 11th hole, par 3, the fifth green, you kind of know where those are. And trying to get good shots in, full shots.
Q. Is your play today a carry over from Sybase?
CRISTIE KERR: I would like to think so. I'm working a lot on my game, got great equipment in my bag, great caddie. I'm a good player, yeah, why not?
Q. How tough was the win in terms of trying to pull a club out of the bag for an approach? Did you change your mind much or not at all? How did that work?
CRISTIE KERR: Actually, we were pretty committed to what we were doing out there, myself and Jason, my caddie. There weren't really too many times where we felt we were in between. And it kind of plays like a British Open a little bit out there.
You know, having to judge the bounce, and this is links golf. I love links golf and we tend to judge those kinds of conditions really well. So you could see that today.
Q. How key was 18 as far as taking some momentum into the front nine for you?
CRISTIE KERR: That was big, because I hit a great drive and a great 3 wood on the green, and I had kind of a straightforward uphill putt. I knocked it about eight, nine feet by the hole. So to have 3 putted there I think would have killed some momentum for sure. So that was a big putt for me for today.
Q. Was the length of the round a factor of the conditions?
CRISTIE KERR: I don't know how long actually it took for us to play.
Q. Five and a half hours.
CRISTIE KERR: What time did we tee off?
CRISTIE KERR: I've been in here about ten minutes so that’s 5 ½ hours. Our group, we must have looked for ten golf balls in the fescue today. I mean Grace, specifically Grace, she kind of hit all over the place. I think she hit two balls out of bounds. Amanda a couple times got kind of in the fescue. And they've grown the fescue up a lot. It's a lot higher than I've ever seen it. So it comes into play a lot more, I think, you know, this year. And I can guarantee you we're not the only group that probably was looking for some golf balls out there.
We easily, on the 11th hole not the 11th hole, used to be the old 11, our 14th hole, that hole we found 15 golf balls in there. But none of them were our group's. So, you know, I think the Pro Am guys lost a few out there.
LINDSEY WRIGHT, Rolex Rankings No. 101
Q. Tough day out there with all the wind?
LINDSEY WRIGHT: From start to finish, but you'd expect that in these conditions. It's not an easy golf course.
Q. Are the win drying the greens out faster?
LINDSEY WRIGHT: Yeah. On 17 the guys were coming out, hosing the greens off. So they were pretty nice, pretty fast. So really nice this morning. And then obviously as the day goes on, it kind of slowed down a little bit, got a bit bumpy. But overall it was pretty good.
Q. Was it just club selection that led to the slow play?
LINDSEY WRIGHT: I think it's just tough playing in the wind. And a lot of the girls haven't played in over a month. So it's just kind of coming back into tournament conditions, and a little bit more nervousness, and you take a little bit more time. But then you would expect it here with the wind, tough conditions.
Q. So then are you happy to finish the round under par?
LINDSEY WRIGHT: Yes, it's great. I'm really, really happy with it.
Q. What did you do was there a part of your game that was working today? What did you do well today? Because a lot of people are struggling out there.
LINDSEY WRIGHT: I putted well. I think 3 under after the first nine, which is a tough nine. I thought the back nine would play actually easier, but it actually played tough coming down the stretch. I just kept the ball in play and made some really solid putts. Made four birdies today and I think I had, what, two bogeys.
Q. It's not just keeping it in play, but keeping it in
LINDSEY WRIGHT: Yeah. Fortunately I didn't get into any trouble. Just trying to keep that same play the next few days.
Q. Are you normally a good player in the wind? Did you grow up in an area
LINDSEY WRIGHT: It's hit and miss, to be honest. It's about your short game. If your short game is good, it helps because you're going to miss greens. That's inevitable. Short game, that's the big thing. It's something I've been working on. It's been really good.
Q. Any good saves today?
LINDSEY WRIGHT: I don't think so. I don't think no. Just had one 3 putt. And, I don't know, four birdies. I'm not good at remembering what happened five minutes ago. I made some really good 2 putts. So bogeyed 13 and 9.
KARRIE WEBB, Rolex Rankings No. 9
Q. Talk about the conditions.
The wind was really tough. It’s not a wind we play often here. It makes a lot of the holes hard. The fairways aren’t wide here and you really have to keep it in the fairway to have a good score.
Q. That said, how do you feel about your score today?
I’m a little disappointed to have three bogies in the last four holes, that was not in my plans, especially at the last hole there. Disappointed in my finish, but if the wind stays up, I should be alright.