U.S. Women's Open
The Broadmoor, East Course
Colorado Springs, CO
Pre-tournament notes and interviews
July 5, 2011
Seeking out the Slam: Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng, 22, has the opportunity this week at The Broadmoor to become the seventh LPGA player and the youngest golfer in history (male or female) to complete the career Grand Slam. All that's currently lacking from Tseng's impressive resume in major championships is a U.S. Women's Open victory.
Tseng, who became the youngest golfer in LPGA history to win four majors with her victory two weeks ago at the Wegmans LPGA Championship, is not shying away from her quest for the career Grand Slam. Prior to leaving her home near Orlando, Fla. on Sunday to travel to Colorado Springs, Tseng posted a photo on her Facebook page of the empty space in her trophy room that is reserved specifically for the U.S. Women's Open trophy. Tseng lives in Annika Sorenstam's former house at Lake Nona and Sorenstam, who won three U.S. Women's Open titles, had created a special spot for the tournament's sizeable trophy.
"You know, I feel less pressure this week than before," Tseng said. "I always feel so much pressure on U.S. Open course. It's such a tough, tough golf course. But after I see Rory McIlroy do it I feel much more relaxed. I mean, the course, you still can beat a course. You just have got to come out here and have fun, enjoy the pressure and enjoy the big crowds."
Tseng is already on pace to put herself in Sorenstam's company when it comes to major championships. Four of Tseng's eight career victories on the LPGA Tour have come in majors. The long-hitter from Taiwan was asked what it is about majors that makes her step up her game. "I think I just focus more on a major, and I love a tough course," Tseng said. "I love a challenge. I know at a major you're not going to be shooting lots of low scores. You just need to be patient. Lots of people are gonna make bogey. So if you make bogey there, it's no worries."
If Tseng can go on to win her first U.S. Women's Open title this week, it would be yet another thing that bonds her and Sorenstam together. It was on the East Course at The Broadmoor for the 1995 U.S. Women's Open that Sorenstam won the first of her 10 major titles.
Tseng and Sorenstam have developed a special bond in recent years. Tseng looks to Sorenstam as her mentor, both in terms of the success that she had on the golf course and also the numerous things the LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member has done to help the game of golf as well. Tseng said she met up with Sorenstam a few days ago and the two talked about what the 22-year-old will face in trying to complete the career Grand Slam this week.
""She tell me she's really enjoying to watch me play, and that made me feel lots of confidence," Tseng said. "She said, 'You know, just like you did last week: smile always and have good body language, and then be aggressive. That's how you are. You will really enjoy this week.'"
Cristie Kerr has long said that there is a fine line between winning and finishing second, and it's something that Kerr has certainly experienced recently. The No. 2 player in the Rolex Rankings comes to the U.S. Women's Open conducted by the USGA this week having been oh so close to picking up her 15th career victory in recent weeks. Prior to finishing in a T3 at the Wegmans LPGA Championship two weeks ago in Rochester, NY, Kerr had recorded three straight runner-up finishes. It was a streak that started when Kerr lost to Suzann Pettersen in the finals of the Sybase Match Play Championship back in May. She finished a stroke behind winner Brittany Lincicome at the ShopRite LPGA Classic and she ended up three shots back of Yani Tseng at the LPGA State Farm Classic.
Kerr, who was No. 1 in the Rolex Rankings entering the U.S. Women's Open at Oakmont Country Club last year, was asked what it will take for her to regain that top spot. Kerr is currently the only American player to have held the top spot in the rankings.
"The obvious answer is you have to win," Kerr said. "I would have to win a couple of tournaments to overtake her for the No. 1. You know, I'm finishing second or third every week, but that's not quite getting it done for the ranking. But that's pretty good. I have been happy with that. I've been close and been in contention, and I've just got to keep doing what I'm doing."
Kerr is not unfamiliar with the East Course at The Broadmoor, having competed here as a 16-year-old amateur during the 1995 U.S. Women's Open. There have certainly been changes to the par-71 course which includes lengthening it to a U.S. Women's Open-record 7,047 yards. But Kerr, who won the U.S. Women's Open in 2007 at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club, felt the East Course still kept many of the same characteristics.
"I think it's playing pretty similarly," Kerr said. "I was 16 when I was here last time, and I've gotten a lot older and wiser. I have the U.S. Open under my belt, so I kind of look at the course differently and pick it apart a little differently than when I was an amateur and I just sort of played. But it's pretty similar."
Inkster Hopes For Second USGA Title At The Broadmoor
Juli Inkster won her third U.S. Women's Amateur Championship at The Broadmoor's Mountain Course in 1982, and returns this week for the U.S. Women's Open.
But Inkster doesn't think her own USGA history at this year's track offers any advantage.
"That was like 30 years ago," quipped Inkster, 51. "I couldn't remember this golf course, but I can remember a lot of my shots at The Broadmoor."
Still, the two-time Women's Open champion brings to this event a deep history of playing USGA setups and maintaining an Open mindset. She also brings a sense of perspective about herself as a player early in her career compared to now, as a wily veteran.
"I think I was definitely hungrier back then - more competitive," she said. "But I don't think my game was as good then as it is now. I don't have the pressure now that I had trying to win my first one. The thing with the Open is just to give yourself a chance on Sunday to do it."
Of course, Inkster's history at USGA events has rendered some ironic outcomes. One of her U.S. Women's Amateur Championship titles (1980) came at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Kansas, where she returned to win the 2002 U.S. Women's Open.
When asked if she could pull off that same feat here this week at The Broadmoor, Inkster just smiled.
"That would be cool," she said. "I'll be all over that. If I get everything under control, I feel like I have a shot."
Two-Time Former Open Champ Betsy King Returns To U.S. Women's Open
It was more about preparation than intent. At least that's the reason LPGA Hall of Fame member Betsy King gave for being in the field of this week's 2011 U.S. Women's Open Championship.
A two-time Women's Open champ and 34-time LPGA winner who retired from the LPGA in 2005, King began practicing again to prepare for competition on the Legends Tour. The Legends Tour offers competition for women's professionals age 45 and over.
And just as she had prepared during her decorated career, King turned up the burners once again to compete against her peers. Only this time, she put her practice into play at the United States Golf Association's Sectional Qualifying Tournament for the Open. King posted rounds of 73-71 in the qualifying event held in Mesa, Ariz., and earned her spot in the Open field.
"I really surprised myself," admitted King, 55, whose first tournament as a professional was the 1977 U.S. Women's Open. "I've looked at other players who tried to come back and I said, 'I'll never do that.' And I wasn't planning on it. I didn't compete in anything for four years, but I'm very happy to be here."
And with a laugh, King also admitted that she is "already starting to get the golf nightmares" again. What kind of dreams are those?
"The one I've had the most often in my career is standing on the first tee and not having a backswing because there's a tree in the way," laughed King. "And getting lost and not being able to find the golf course. In another one, I had to play a ball out of locker in the locker room."
King says she hopes to play well this week. She hopes to make the 36-hole cut. And if she doesn't, she'll see this week's trip to the Open as a bookend to her illustrious career.
"It's a perfect circle for me," she said. "[The Open was] the first event I played as a professional and it will be the last event I play as a professional as part of the LPGA Tour."
And if she wins?
"Well if I win," added King, "I can always change my mind."
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, first we'd like to welcome you to the 2011 U.S. Women's Open Championships. We're so happy to return to the Broadmoor where the Women's Open was played in 1995, and as you know, it was the first professional victory for Annika Sorenstam. The Broadmoor has hosted the U.S. Amateur twice, Curtis Cup matches in 1962 where the USA won by a record margin of 8 to 1; the 1982 U.S. Women's Amateur, which was won by Juli Simpson Inkster; the 1995 Women's Open; and the 2008 U.S. Women's Open. We'd like to welcome the No. 1 ranked player in the world, Yani Tseng, who is fresh off of a wonderful victory in the LPGA Championship. Congratulations, Yani.
YANI TSENG: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: You said it was very exciting. Your goal, I understand, has been to capture the career Grand Slam, to win all four major championships, and this is the only one that's missing from your collection. How do you plan to approach the women's Open this year to win?
YANI TSENG: You know, I feel less pressure this week than before. I always feel so much pressure on U.S. Open course. It's so tough, tough golf course. But after I see Rory McIlroy do it I feel much relaxed. I mean, the course, you still can beat a course. You just got to come out here and have fun, enjoy the pressure and enjoy the big crowds.
Always very exciting to be here. Play it one shot at a time. I practice 18 holes the last two days, and it feels really good. I think the course suit me very well, long distance. I think I can just hit the ball and just need to really figure out how to play the green here.
THE MODERATOR: Well, you're fifth on the driving list, I believe, driving distance. This is the longest course in Women's Open history at 7,047, and it's a par 71. The rough is quite lush and quite thick.
YANI TSENG: Yeah, rough is very thick. I practice yesterday try to figure it out. I mean, I just gonna ask coach how do I play those rough. Even here where it goes 10% further, but it's still really long. Some of the par‑4 I still need to hit 5 irons, 4‑iron, so it's really tough.
THE MODERATOR: And your coach's name is?
YANI TSENG: Gary Gilchrist.
Q. How does this course set up for your game? Does this suit your game, this course?
YANI TSENG: I think so. I mean, the fairway is not as narrow as I thought, so I can hit the driver and just on the fairway. I mean, the green is really big, so I just try to, you know, cut like two green or three green to make smaller. Because if you like leave 30, 40 feet you still can make three‑putt easy on these green, so you need to be patient. I know I'm going to have like some three‑putt this week, but just be patient this week.
Q. With what you've done lately and with your victory at the LPGA and just really over the last six majors or whatever, how much more demand is there on your time? How much more difficult is it to deal with the amount of attention that you're starting to get?
YANI TSENG: Actually, now I'm kind of getting used to it. Like after I become world No. 1, I was little shocked, and so many interviews and so many people start to recognize me. I wasn't balanced. I was very tired. Like just my balance for interviews and those practice and relax. But now I kind of I get used to and it and I can balance all the things. I'm enjoying those interviews, and now I can still enjoy my practice and still can take like a relax. Just feels really good. I come out this week and so many people recognize me that know my name. I just feel very happy and feel lots of people's support.
Q. First, what is it that makes a good putter? Why do you think you succeed on the greens?
YANI TSENG: I think you need to be confident. You need to commit to your line. Even if it's wrong, you need to commit or do what you can do and make the stroke.
Q. It's obviously unfair to compare women's and the men's game mainly because of the strength factor. But on the greens where muscle is not an issue, are the women as good of putters as the men? Can they be? Would you welcome a putting contest with a male pro?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I see lots of good putters on the women's tour. On the PGA tour they're very good, too. I think they're more aggressive and they don't afraid to miss the putt. You can tell their like body language, everything, they're not afraid of missing. But here I think we take more time and try to make putt, but we still make lots of putt. So it's very different to watch, but I think we can have a very good putting contest with the men.
Q. I think half of your wins are majors. Why are you so successful at majors?
YANI TSENG: I think I just focus more on a major, and I love a tough course. I love a challenge. I know a major you're not gonna be shooting lots of low scores. You just need to be patient. Lots of people gonna make bogey.
So if you make bogey there, it's no worries. But sometimes like normal tournament I worry too much if I don't make birdie or people gonna make bunch of birdies. But at a major course I just feel for confidence to just try to challenge those courses, and I can play one shot at a time for myself.
Q. Annika won here back in '95, and I know you're good friends with her. How much have you asked her about this course and gotten some help from her?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I met up with her a couple days ago. It helps a lot. We have good wine and we chat a little bit. She tell me ‑‑ I mean, I tell her if I put too high expectation to win in this tournament. She said, No, if you just put like same as last week, then gonna win this week. She tell me she's very enjoying to watch me play, and that made me feel lots of confidence. She's say, You know, just like last week: smile always and be good body language, and then be aggressive. That's how you are. You will really enjoy this week.
Q. Se Ri Pak obviously opened up the door for a lot of people back home in South Korea. Do you feel like you're doing the same thing in Taiwan for other girls?
YANI TSENG: I'm trying to. I think so. I hope so, actually. Because I know Taiwan is not as popular with golf like Korea or Japan or here. I think it's getting better. Like back ten years ago we have so many great players, and then they like just ‑‑ they give us all lots of experience. You know, now I think it's our turn to make all like junior back to have more people play on the LPGA Tour or PGA Tour.
Q. Annika said you're the new face of women's golf. How did you react to that? More pressure?
YANI TSENG: No, no, no, I'm very happy, because she's my role model. She's like my big idol. I wish I can ‑‑ you know in the future I want to be like her. She's done so many great things for the golf. And it's not just for golf. Even outside role for lots of charity and everything. She's very, very nice and classy player.
So when she comment, I feel lots of confidence for myself. I don't feel any pressure. But first time when she say that, she's like I gonna be World No. 1 when I was rookie year, at that time I was really shocked. I thought she was kidding.
But this time I feel it's different. This time I feel like, yeah, she might be true. So I really enjoy to hear she say that.
Q. Obviously everybody's talking about the possibility of you winning or completing a career slam at such a young age. Do you even allow yourself to think of that? Does that seem unreal to you to be on the verge of something like that?
YANI TSENG: I do. I really think about that beginning of this year. Because I feel like I need to prepare that because everybody's talking about that, and I feel pressure, too, because I wanted that. I want to win in this tournament, too.
But, you know, I start prepare at the beginning and work with my coach, everything. I feel this week I feel very calm. I don't feel any pressure. I don't feel like people are talking and I feel pressure. I just really enjoy here, and I can handle the pressure better.I think if I don't prepare beginning of the year, then I will be more pressure here. But now I just ‑‑ I feel really good. I feel enjoy here, and that this is my goal. I want to win in this tournament. I play one shot at a time and do my best. If I don't win, I still have lots of years I can win.
THE MODERATOR: You recently bought Annika Sorenstam's house, and you live in an area where a lot of the great men's professionals live and practice and play in the same areas. I understand that you have befriended or they have befriended you and you've made friends with some of them, and that you have an opportunity to talk golf with some of them and talk about this very high level that you play at. Who are some of the professionals who maybe have helped you a little bit? In what way have they helped you?
YANI TSENG: I think I play with ‑‑ we practice together, Justin Rose and Ian Poulter. We have a little chipping contest that can learn from that. My caddy and my coach ‑‑ my caddy like introduced me to Ian, and my coach is introduced for Trevor Immelman. So I have so many questions I can just ask them, and they always give me a very good advice.
THE MODERATOR: What are some of the things they've told you?
YANI TSENG: Just, I mean, I feel they always tell me, Oh, you play so good. Sometimes I was struggling a little bit, but they say, You know, just need to trust yourself. That's how good you are. Don't worry about people who's talking behind you or say you have to do that. You just trust yourself and do what you like to do.
THE MODERATOR: So we're speaking of Justin Rose, Ian Poulter, and Trevor Immelman who have become your friends.
YANI TSENG: Yeah, kind of. But I feel like they're still like top there and still ‑‑ I mean, I still like ‑‑ they're like my role model, too, so I hope we can be like friend, too.
Q. For those of us who don't cover you on a regular basis, tell us about growing up, who taught you the game, when did you decided you wanted to be a professional golfer?
YANI TSENG: Oh, I played golf since I was five because of my parents. When I was 12 is first time came to States, and that's my first time I realize how tough is golf. I think that's the first time I tell myself, I want to be a pro and I want to be a world No. 1. But that was just a dream. It was so far away. I don't even know what's world No. 1 like. But at that time that's just my goal.
When I was 13 that's the first time I watch a USGA, tournament, the U.S. Open that Juli Inkster won. I tell my friend, Ernie, I tell him, I want to play this tournament. I want to play U.S. Open. I don't know U.S. Open have to qualify, so I was just ‑‑ I don't know everything.
So we just go search on like on USGA.com and see, Oh, what tournament can we play? That's how we get into those, like play in America some USGA tournament. That's how I did it, yeah.
THE MODERATOR: You attended that U.S. Women's Open Juli won at Prairie Dunes. Weren't you there?
YANI TSENG: Yeah I was there. Yes, I watched Annika and Juli Inkster. I'm like a kid. I have a flag and everybody, player signed. See everybody, so lots of good memories there.
THE MODERATOR: So you were getting autographs as a spectator at that time and you were 13?
YANI TSENG: When I was 13. When I turned pro I told her, I have your autograph when I was 13. It was like, No, now you beat me. You don't need an autograph.
Q. When you first came here, obviously how has learning the English language been a confidence builder for you through the years as you have continued golf?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, you know, like last week I have a feel like ‑‑ because all the fans always say two years back I don't speak any English and I was afraid to talk. But now I can speak better. I think speaking English just give me lots of confidence. Sitting here or on the course, I don't afraid to talk to the player. But before when I don't, I try to stay away from them. Even they don't see me it's okay, because I was so afraid to talk.
But now I just - I'm not afraid. I feel confidence. I like people to talk to me. I just really enjoy and feel I can be part of this. Now I can speak better English than when I when went into public. Then I don't speak any English. So much difference. I can share my story. I can tell the media, tell the fans what I think and what I like this golf course. So big difference.
THE MODERATOR: And where and when did you take English classes?
YANI TSENG: End of last year I went in school for three, four weeks, and it feels really good. Then on the tour I kind of just keep talking. So hopefully now I don't talk too much. (Laughter.)
THE MODERATOR: You don't talk too much. You're fine. But where was that English school? Was it in Orlando?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, it's in Orlando.
THE MODERATOR: The name?
YANI TSENG: Language Company.
THE MODERATOR: Language Company?
YANI TSENG: Yeah.
THE MODERATOR: And it was your idea to take the English classes, was it not?
YANI TSENG: Yes, because I feel like I need to improve. Because I think it's not just good for me, I think it's good for everybody and then just good for golf. I mean, I can share lots of stories to the people.
Q. I believe you're paired with Paula Creamer Thursday. What's it like to be playing with the defending champion?
YANI TSENG: Very good. I feel very good with this group. I play with her many times and we have so much fun. You know, we're just different type of a player. I think it's gonna be a big crowd, and I'm really enjoy. Very looking forward.
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, we're pleased to have with us Michelle Wie who seems like we've known forever, since she was ten years old, since she won the Women's Amateur Public Links at the age of 13. Michelle has two more quarters in college to complete her degree, and yet she is still playing the LPGA Tour, as you well know. Michelle, let me ask you, first of all, you're out for the summer. Does that make it easier on you rather than having the divided loyalties of going to school and trying to play professional golf.
MICHELLE WIE: It is nice to come back from a round and just relax and not do anything. Um, but it's nice. You know, I'm proud of myself for sticking through with it, and I'm going to be especially proud of myself when I finish. I can't wait, um, but I'm like kinda like at the time where college is great, but I can't wait to graduate. I think it will be good.
THE MODERATOR: How about the golf course? 7,047 yards, longest Women's Open course in history, par 71. How has it treated you so far in your practice rounds?
MICHELLE WIE: It's pretty long, I have to say. You know, the altitude is pretty tricky because you have to hit it solid for it to kick in. If you just mishit a driver a little bit, even though it goes straight, it's not going to go anywhere and you're going to have a long shoot into these greens.
The greens are pretty wide, they're pretty big, but they're going to play small, because you have to be in the right section. It's a good U.S. Open golf course. It's going to play a lot of clubs in my bag. Par‑3s are particularly tricky.
Q. Everybody talks about 10 through 15; is that living up to its reputation?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I think all the golf courses, from 1 to 18, are pretty challenging. Um, even like the shorter holes you still have the greens to work with. They're kinda the greens where from the fairway they don't look very daunting. They don't look very slopey, but you have to be on the right part of the green. Because if you're not, you're going to have a hell of a putt trying to get par.You know, I think it's a great golf course. It's definitely the longest one I've encountered so far at a U.S. Open.
THE MODERATOR: How about with other tournaments? Of course you've played in the men's events, so it's not so long compared to that, right? How does it stack up against those courses you've played in the PGA events?
MICHELLE WIE: I think it plays pretty long, because the greens are pretty tricky, you know. You have 5‑irons where, you know, you kinda want a semishort putt because you don't want over a 30‑foot putt really on these greens. But I think it's a good golf course. You know, the rough is definitely a lot thicker than it was on Sunday when I played. I think it's just in really great condition, so I'm really excited to play it.
Q. I know you play the golf course and you don't kinda keep track of your competitors so much, but the way Yani has been playing, do you kind of keep an eye on her and see if she's going low or anything like that?
MICHELLE WIE: I think when you go into a tournament you kind only have to think about your round and what you can do. You know, there's too much to handle even just thinking about that, so thinking about other players is just too much. The only thing you can do out there is really control your own game and really try and play the best you can.
Q. Can you talk about 2005 down at Cherry Hills being in contention and what that was like and a little bit about Sunday and what happened there?
MICHELLE WIE: I think Cherry Hills is a really great golf course. I have a lot of good memories. Obviously I try to forget about Sunday, but Thursday to Saturday it was pretty fantastic. It was a really good, really good memory.
I think I learned a lot from it. I think I was like 14 at the time, so obviously I ‑‑ hopefully I've learned a lot since then. But it was a good experience. You know, obviously I do keep that in my mind. You know, I have learned from it, and hopefully learned from my mistakes, and moved forward from that.
THE MODERATOR: Sound kinda like Rory McIlroy when you say that.
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, you know, kinda going into the last day leading and falling apart, you do learn a lot from it. You learn a lot from your mistakes, because obviously I made a lot that day. I learned from my experience, and hopefully I can use that experience to my advantage.
Q. What exactly did you learn from that experience?
MICHELLE WIE: Well, I think I was pretty young at the time, so it was kinda a new experience for me and you kinda, you know ‑‑ I don't know, I think I just got really excited, and, you know, just made a lot of mistakes that day. Just learned how to keep your tempo and kinda slow it down and not get rushed into anything. Just a lot of little things, I think.
Q. What changes to your game do you have to make in order to get around a course like the Broadmoor?
MICHELLE WIE: Well, especially on a U.S. Open golf course, it's not one where you're going to make birdie on every hole. We're not looking forward to making birdies on every hole. It's kinda a golf course where you get kinda just get into the middle of the green and kinda make the putts when we have to, when you have short irons or wedges in.
But just kinda the same thing as always: always think about tempo, always think about the same rhythm, and just taking it one shot at a time. It's gonna be a long day out there; it's gonna be a long week. All I can think about or try to think about is that one shot that's ahead of me.
Q. We had Yani in here earlier. You already had one question on her. Playing with her and observing her, what makes her such a good player?
MICHELLE WIE: Well, I've played with her for a long time since the Public Links back in the day, and she's gotten, you know, I mean, obviously a lot better. You know, she's a very long ball‑striker. She putts very well. She has all around a very solid game, which I think makes her play well.
THE MODERATOR: They met in the finals of the 2004 Women's Amateur Publinks Championship where Michelle was defending champion, and Yani won, what, 1‑up in 36 holes?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah.
Q. I know you're still very young. Do you start feeling any pressure about winning a major yet? Does that creep in your mind, or are you too young to start feeling that pressure?
MICHELLE WIE: I mean, I don't feel like I'm too young for anything anymore. Obviously you see Yani winning all four by 22. I think I was the oldest one in my practice round today by a couple years at least. So I definitely don't think I'm too young anymore. I don't think age a factor really out here.
I do put pressure on myself, but there's only a certain amount of pressure I can put on myself. I'm just really excited for the week and the opportunity I have. I'm really excited to even be here, so this week as I go out there I'm just gonna try my hardest. Obviously I really do want to win a major, and obviously winning a U.S. Open is one of the most important things for me.So I'm just gonna go out there and give it my all.
Q. Have you had a chance to meet Marielle Galdano? Marielle? From Hawaii?
MICHELLE WIE: Oh, no.
THE MODERATOR: Oh, the real youngster.
Q. She just turned 13.
MICHELLE WIE: Oh, no, not yet, unfortunately.
Q. When and if you do, what advice would you give her?
MICHELLE WIE: Just to have fun. I mean, it's a great experience playing in a U.S. Open when you're 13 or 14. You know, at that age it's just an honor I think just to bask in the whole experience of the U.S. Open. It's a truly unique experience for anyone to experience no matter how old a player is. Um, but to play at such a young age, I think just have fun. Really enjoy it.
Q. How do you feel your career has gone to this point? How do you feel where you're at, your progress, everything like that? Just kind of an update where you feel where your career has gone.
MICHELLE WIE: I think obviously I've had a lot of ups and downs. But that's, you know, really how everyone's career is going. I just feel like ‑‑ I've been proud of myself that I kept with it and kept trying to get better. Every year I feel like I'm getting more and more motivated to win and do better, to become a better player.
So, you know, saying at that point, I feel like I have a lot more to do, I have a lot more to accomplish. But I'm still proud of myself. I still have fun out there. I still try my hardest every single day, even when I practice when I'm at tournaments. So looking at that, I'm pretty proud of myself.
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, we have a former U.S. Women's Open champion, Cristie Kerr with us. She's consistently a high finisher in the Women's Open championships. She's contended many times. This is not her first time playing the Broadmoor. She played here in 1995 when she was still an amateur, so she's familiar with this golf course. Cristie, I've wondered, once you've won the Women's Open, does it make it easier to win again?
CRISTIE KERR: I don't know. I think if that were the case I probably would have won another one by now. It's not easy winning. You have to play really well and you have to have things go your way, so it's great whenever you can pick off a win, especially in the Women's Open.
THE MODERATOR: But learning how to deal with the pressure of winning the Women's Open, it would seem to me that that would take some experience. Also in the type of shots that the USGA demands, the type of work around the greens that this championship demands, is it a little bit ‑‑ you've been in contention right up close to the top ever since you've won. In that way is this experience helpful to you?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, it is, knowing that I've won one before. You know, if you're in contention with somebody that hasn't won one, certainly could make my experience, be a little bit more patient going down the stretch and, you know, kind of try and make just a couple birdies or be patient or whatever, just knowing what it takes. I think that's a good thing that I've got that under my belt.
THE MODERATOR: How do you like the golf course? You have some experience with it now.
CRISTIE KERR: I think this is a fantastic golf course. The fairways are generous for a U.S. Open. But, you know, if you do miss the fairway, the rough is pretty brutal. I think this is going to be a really good test this week. The greens, everything is in beautiful shape, and it's a really good layout. I've always really liked this course. I'm used to the altitude now so, I'm feeling pretty good.
Q. About the altitude, Michelle had said that you have to make solid contact with the ball for the altitude to kick in. Do you feel like that's the case, that if you mishit it that you don't get the benefit of having the altitude?
CRISTIE KERR: No, I think for me it's pretty much on every shot that you have the altitude. Certainly if you're in the rough it doesn't matter. You're not going to get air under the ball. If you're in the rough, the rough is pretty bad this week. So I think it's pretty judgeable.
You know, it changes with the temperature. If you're in the morning it doesn't fly quite as far; if you're in the afternoon you have to add that couple extra yards of carry on every iron. We play a lot on tour with altitude in similar conditions, so my caddy and I are pretty good at judging that.
Q. Has the course changed at all since 1995? As you remember it, at least.
CRISTIE KERR: I don't think so. I think it's playing pretty similarly. I was 16 when I was here last time, and I've gotten a lot older and wiser. I have the U.S. Open under my belt, so I kind of look at the course differently and pick it apart a little differently than when I was an amateur I just sort of played. But it's pretty similar.
THE MODERATOR: What sort of things do you look at now at this stage in your career? You say you look at it differently.
CRISTIE KERR: Well, you know, the course is going to play tough. There is a lot of rough. Just going into the greens, you know, where certain pins are, you have to just kind of eliminate half of the golf course and say you can't miss over there no matter what. Because, you know, if you're in the rough and the pin is, you know, on the right side of the green, you just can't miss right. Especially here if it's down‑mountain, it's better to miss it all the way left of the green and have an uphill chip.
So you have to kind of know where you can and can't hit it and where would a good missed shot like out of the rough to an approach for the green where you need to put the ball. So it's a lot of strategy, you know. A lot of the times ‑‑ I mean, you'd love to hit it on the green out of the rough. But if you're trying to grip down on a hybrid because you have a really bad lie, you know, you have to be generous where you're trying to aim.
Q. What do you think of the greens, and what are you doing to prepare for them?
CRISTIE KERR: The greens are awesome here. There's a lot of slope, a lot of mountain‑effect. Yesterday I played 18 holes, so yesterday was the day where I really didn't chip much around the greens. I just charted the greens, because ‑‑ I think I did that when I was 16, but, you know, that's 20 years ago, so I couldn't ‑ or 18 years ago ‑ I couldn't really find my yardage book from the last time, so I had to redo it.
But, you know, charting the breaks on the greens, finding, you know, where the highest point on the green is, where the lowest point, so I kind of know where the fastest direction on each green is so that I know when I'm putting whether it's super fast or whether it's going to be cross‑mountain or slow up the hill. You know, I'm just kind of planning all that out ahead of time, so that when you're in tournament competition you glance at it and say, Okay, I know what's going on. It's kind of what I've been doing the last day.
Q. We had Yani in here earlier. She's on quite a roll. As a player, do you kind of keep track what she's doing and watch the scoreboard a little bit?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, I mean, absolutely I'm a scoreboard watcher. You know, sometimes more than other times. But I like to know where I stand, and, yeah, she's been playing great. She's won four or five tournaments already this year and another major. I think she has four majors now at her age. Hadn't happened like since the late 1800s, so that's pretty impressive.
But even with all that, on a golf course like this with all the rough and the greens and all the different factors, you have to consider the altitude, you know, you just have to judge it as best you can. You know, you should expect to see some of those top players on the leaderboard.
Q. Thinking back on Michelle Wie, what were your thoughts on her the first time you saw her play when she was, you know, obviously very young teenage phenom?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, I've been friends with Michelle for a long time. You know, when she was qualifying and getting exemptions into tournaments when she was 12 and 13, I was very impressed with her. We have grown to be pretty good friends. You know, she's a great talent. I just hope she doesn't get too technical with her game. I know she's doing that aim‑point stuff on the greens, and that is not going to help you this week. So I think she should stick to her natural talent and then she she'll be good.
Q. I think last year at Oakmont, if I remember, you achieved the No. 1 world ranking and things were pretty tight among four or five golfers. Now those standings have stretched out a little bit with Yani. I'm not a math whiz, but how hard do you need to work to close that gap as is stands now and catch her?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, I think the bottom line is I'm working as hard as I can work. I've just got to take care of myself. Obviously the obvious answer to your question is you have to win. I would have to win a couple of tournaments to overtake her for the No. 1.
I'm finishing second or third every week, but that's not quite getting it done for the ranking. But that's pretty good. I have been happy with that. I've been close and been in contention, and I've just got to keep doing and I'm doing.
THE MODERATOR: Any new programs in order to be fit? You're talking about you're working a bit on that. Any new approaches to conditioning?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, I mean, in the offseason I kinda ‑‑ actually it started before the end of the year. We had such a break before the Tour Championship last year. I just decided to just completely go dry. I mean, I like to have my wine at night, okay? I went dry from like October to basically until we got to Thailand. I didn't have one glass of wine, not one sip of alcohol. I took bread pretty much completely out of my diet. I started eating a lot better and doing what I did to lose all the weight a long time ago.
So I got back into my working out, you know, four to six days a week, and just really just dedicated that I wanted to get back in shape. I wanted to look better, feel better, and it would help my game. So I lost about, you know, 12, 13 pounds, you know, starting from October. Took me about almost six months to do it, but I got that extra little weight off. But it's a struggle every day. I mean, as a woman, I'm sure you can relate.
THE MODERATOR: Yes, I can relate, certainly.
CRISTIE KERR: It's hard when they have these chocolate chip cookies sitting around here.
THE MODERATOR: And how has that affected you on the golf course? Have you felt more energetic? Is your endurance better?
CRISTIE KERR: I think it is. I got here on Sunday midday and I felt the altitude a little bit then. But I actually feel great now. I don't really feel it. Walking around the course, I just don't feel like I have those extra, you know, 13 pounds on me. I feel better. I feel better about myself, and, you know, if I see myself on camera I'm not really critiquing myself as much. So that's all positive.
THE MODERATOR: Good for you.
Q. As you look at it, what makes a good putter? Is it as much vision as it is possibly skill?
CRISTIE KERR: I mean, you obviously have to have good, sound skill. But I think the best putters are very artistic on the greens instead of very technical. You have to be able to feel the slope and kind of visualize and feel within your body like how the ball is gonna roll on the green, where is it gonna end, where is the high point.
You kind of hit it at a high point and it breaks. For me I have always been very artistic with it. I have a very good technical putting stroke, but, you know, it's really just focusing on line and speed and knowing that that's gonna take care of everything, being very artistic instead of it's going, It's right edge; I need to hit it this hard. I don't think that technical putters are very good putters day in and day out.
Q. It's unfair to compare men's and women's game, but on the green, muscle is not a factor. Do you think women putt as well as male pros?
CRISTIE KERR: Oh, yeah, no doubt about it.
Q. Have you ever had a competition with any?
CRISTIE KERR: No, not that I know of. But if you ask Rory McIlroy what he thinks of my putting game, he'll tell you. So I think that, yeah, I mean, there definitely shouldn't be sexes involved in that. We are as good as good a putters as the men, if not better.
Q. Is there contrast in styles from women to men, or is that just too vague and ambiguous?
CRISTIE KERR: I think everybody is individual, everybody is different. I don't think it has to do with men and women. Everybody's got their own putting stroke and their own rhythm to their putting stroke, how they putt. Everybody does it differently.
THE MODERATOR: How do you know Rory McIlroy?
CRISTIE KERR: Chubby Chandler is a good friend of my husband, Erik, and myself. I've just met Rory briefly, but, you know, Erik went to dinner with him and Chubby in New York and they were talking about it. He's like, I really like the way Cristie putts.
That was a big compliment coming from Rory, obviously a U.S. Open champion now. So it's always good to hear the guys say positive things about you. I got to meet him at an outing in Boston where a lot of the PGA Tour guys were. He was exhausted that day. It was the day after the Open. But he's a really nice guy.
Q. You got the early season and the late season, but you're in a stretch right now with like three majors in a short span of time. When you looked at the schedule, did you kind of focus in on that and try to hone your game or try to peak as far as what you're doing right for this stretch right here?
CRISTIE KERR: Absolutely. I mean, that's the only answer I can give you: Yeah. (Laughter.)
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, we're very happy to welcome Stacey Lewis, who is the 2011 Nabisco, Kraft Nabisco champion, where she faced down Yani Tseng in the stretch to win her first major championship. How does that affect your feelings towards your game coming into another major championship like the U.S. Women's Open?
STACY LEWIS: More than anything it just gives you confidence that you can play with the No. 1 player in the world. I mean, I hung with her for three days and you kinda tell yourself you can do it, but then once you actually do it it's just a huge confidence boost. My game feels really good. It's felt good all year. I'm excited.
THE MODERATOR: Long golf course: 7,047 yards, par 71. What kind of clubs are you hitting into medium‑length par‑4s on this course?
STACY LEWIS: I had a couple probably 4‑ and 5‑irons were the longest. And then, I mean, a 450‑yard hole I had 9‑iron into. The altitude, it just really offsets things, and it doesn't play anywhere close to the number, I think.
THE MODERATOR: Yeah. That's a good distance. How about the greens? How are you handling the greens here?
STACY LEWIS: They're tough. The speed, they're not just fast. I mean, the speed is pretty good, but there is so much slope in the greens that it's just kind of crazy. You have to be on the right side of the hole. One of the locals told me, he said, Keep the flag between and you the mountain so you're always putting uphill at the mountain. That's what I'm gonna try and do this week.
Q. You've obviously won a major now. You know what it takes. Is it about consistency? Is it about shot making? What is it about a major that makes it so difficult over four days?
STACY LEWIS: Well, I think a lot of it is a mental test. You have to eliminate the big numbers. When you get in trouble, you've just got to take your bogey and move on. Especially out here, if you're going to short side yourself ‑‑ I mean, try to make a par, but if you can't, make bogey the worst number and move on. I think majors are about driving it well and putting well, so, I mean, that's what I'm gonna try to do this week.
Q. With the opening in the LPGA schedule last weekend, a lot of players arrived early. You were one of them. How much does your schedule change based on the fact that you got early? When did you get here early what did you work on based on the early arrival?
STACY LEWIS: I actually just got here Sunday kind of late afternoon, so I didn't start practicing until yesterday, on Monday. For me, even if we have a week off, I like to treat every week the same. I'm gonna show up at the same time as I would if we had a tournament last week. I think this week is hard enough and it's long enough that I don't want to make it any longer and I don't want to prepare differently just because it's a major.
Q. How was it playing yesterday with the Wounded Warriors?
STACY LEWIS: That was great. That was a great opportunity just to hear their stories and what they've done for our country and just kind of say thank you. I mean, it was the least I could do for what they've done. It's great that they've used golf to help speed up their recovery. The Wounded Warriors is just such a great program to help the guys and women get back into the community again.
Q. You went over to Africa, am I correct, with Betsy King?
STACY LEWIS: Yes.
Q. How did you get involved with that?
STACY LEWIS: I met Betsy I guess later in my rookie year. She kind of mentioned it to me and I was kinda like, I don't really know if I want to go. Last year she kinda talked to me about it early in the year, and I was like, Yeah, I'll go, and just kind of went with it. We went in December of last year. It was unbelievable just seeing things you never thought you'd see before, and it just really puts golf and our life and everything we do into perspective.
THE MODERATOR: We're talking about the program Golf Fore Africa. Explain a little bit about that program.
STACY LEWIS: Betsy started it I believe in ‑‑ I want to say 2005. I'm not really sure. You can ask her. But she kind of just found she needed something else to play for. She went to Africa on a visit and kinda fell in love with the place, and so her goal and what they do is just to raise money to help build houses, build houses for kids that are orphaned by AIDS or anything like that. Then they also sponsor children there in Africa. They raised enough money to build a medical clinic in one of the communities. That was one of the things we saw there. We got to go to the grand opening of their medical clinic. And then we also went to a few of the houses where the oldest child in the house I think was probably 15 and the youngest was a baby. So that's ‑‑ I mean, that's the head of household, so we're building houses just to help them move on, I guess.
THE MODERATOR: Did you have to do any physical labor there helping to build the houses? Because I know Betsy was involved with Habitat For Humanity.
STACY LEWIS: Actually with the culture there they just wanted to celebrate us being there. They were just so grateful for us to come and shake our hands and give us a hug. They didn't really want us doing any work. We had to kind of beg them to let us work. We ended up putting plaster on one of the insides of one of the houses. Have a pretty good picture of me and Betsy kind of mixing this plaster in a wheelbarrow with our hands. It was a different way of building a house, but they really didn't want us doing anything. They were working on the house, and I played soccer with the kids. It was more about being there and just hanging out with them.
THE MODERATOR: What dates were you over there, approximately?
STACY LEWIS: It was the beginning of December. I'm not really sure of the dates, but it was the week after the Tour Championship. We were there for about 10, 12 days.
Q. Just to follow up. What kind of person is Betsy? Did you get to know her real well?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I mean, I'd heard stories about she's such a competitor and pretty fierce on the course. I think all this charity work has changed her quite a bit. She was fun to hang around with. I played a practice round with her today. So it's cool to kind of pick up on little things helped her throughout her career and things like that.
THE MODERATOR: What were some of those things?
STACY LEWIS: Um, I don't know. It's just kind of her personality and how she's never really satisfied with anything. I think that goes into the charity work of raising money. I mean, yeah, she might raise $10,000, but she wants to raise more. So even today she was kind of upset with how she hit some shots, so she's just never satisfied.
Q. Holes Nos. 10 through 15 are getting a lot of notoriety. What makes that stretch so difficult?
STACY LEWIS: They're just long par‑4s. I mean, a lot of them are pretty similar. They kind of run together for me. But long par‑4s. I think they're all over 400 yards and tricky greens. I think the key to this course is getting off to a good start. You have 1 through 4 that are pretty good birdie holes. So if you can get off to a good start and then just kind of ride the momentum the rest of the day.
THE MODERATOR: With Women's Open having the largest purse in women's golf, does that add to the pressure, especially since the tournament schedule has been cut back somewhat?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I mean, any of the majors, because those are our biggest purses of the year. Especially this stretch that we have, we have three majors in six weeks I think it is. So we're playing for a lot of money the next couple weeks. It's a lot of pressure to just go out there and play well.
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, we're privileged to have with us Juli Inkster, two‑time U.S. Women's Open champion. What some of you may not know is that she won her third straight U.S. Women's Amateur Championship on this golf course.
JULI INKSTER: Not this one.
THE MODERATOR: Excuse me, was it your second one?
JULI INKSTER: No. It was the third one. It was ‑‑ I was at the Mountain Course. Same place.
THE MODERATOR: Sorry. Same place. Same locker room.
JULI INKSTER: Yeah.
THE MODERATOR: She knows the locker room well.
JULI INKSTER: The buffet line. (Laughter.)
THE MODERATOR: Juli loves the Broadmoor, and she's back to play in this. She's a great champion, and I just want to know, Juli, what are you doing this week to win?
JULI INKSTER: Well, the golf course I think ‑‑ you got a lot of options out there, which I think is great, as far as where they set the tees. Like any Open, you have to drive the ball well. You know, club selection is ‑‑ I'm still a little bit trying to figure out percentage‑wise how much farther I hit it here, but I'm getting close on that. You know, with the Open, you just got to put your patience hat on and just try to grind away. I think the course is playing tough enough that even par is a good score.
THE MODERATOR: I understand that about maybe at least half the field are having to hit a lot of fairway woods into the par‑4s.
JULI INKSTER: Yeah, you know, it's a little different from the men's game and women's game. Not a lot of women carry 4‑irons anymore. Most people carry rescue clubs. Yesterday I hit a couple of my 4‑iron rescues in the greens. Today, not so much. It was firming up just a little bit. It's a good golf course. I think the greens are extremely tough, so it's just trying to position yourself on the right side of the pin.
THE MODERATOR: Do you think having played in the Broadmoor environment and having played the Broadmoor Ladies Invitational, do you feel you have somewhat of an advantage on understanding these golf greens?
JULI INKSTER: No, that was like 30 years ago.
THE MODERATOR: Same greens.
JULI INKSTER: Yeah, same greens, but I don't know. I don't think I have an advantage. I really just think it's ball‑striking. You've got to strike the ball well here to have some shots at some birdies and manage your game. You know, I grew up on greens like this. A little bit of poa, very undulated greens. It's all about speed and distance control. So it will be interesting to see what scores we shoot out here.
Q. I know it's, like you said, a long time ago, but can you specify or talk about how much different you are today than you were then? What's different about your game than back then?
JULI INKSTER: Well, you know, I think I was definitely hungrier back then, more competitive. You know, I probably think ‑‑ I don't think my game was as good back then as it is now, but I think the competition is a lot better than it was back then. Match play is so much just hating to lose, and I didn't like to lose, so, you know, I just ‑‑ I probably would say out of the three U.S. Amateurs I probably didn't hit it the best, but I was the one who got the ball in the hole.
That's a lot about match play. It's just making the shots at the right time. You know, I've raised a family since then and played a lot of different golf over a lot of different areas. I wouldn't trade my three U.S. Amateurs for anything. Looking back on it ‑ you know, I really didn't know what I did back then ‑ but looking back on it now, one, most girls don't stay amateur that long to even have a chance to do three U.S. Amateurs; and then, you know, to win 18 matches in a row, it's pretty tough to do.
So I just think it's a feat that I'll never forget. I can remember a lot of my shots at the Broadmoor. You know, I played Cathy Hanlon ‑ Cathy Marino now ‑ and I can remember a lot of them to this day. I couldn't remember this golf course, but I could remember a lot of the shots that I hit.
THE MODERATOR: And no one had done that since Virginia Van Wie. Check with me later when that happened. That was in the late 20s, early 30s.
JULI INKSTER: Yeah, I wasn't even born then.
THE MODERATOR: No. I don't think anybody here was. Questions?
Q. You've accomplished the career slam, and Yani Tseng is going for it this week. Thinking back just trying to get that last piece, last leg of it, is it more difficult than the other three? Is there more pressure?
JULI INKSTER: Well, I think when you have a game like Yani, she's just playing so good right now. She's got a lot of confidence. You know, the thing with the U.S. Open, you really got to find a venue and a time that you're playing well and everything works for you. I mean, it's different from the LPGA Championship and it's different from the Dinah Shore. They stay in one place. Then our British kind of has a rotation, so you play a lot of the same golf courses but at different times.
The U.S. Open, I think it's the toughest one to win. I don't think it's probably the strongest field, but I think it's the toughest one to win. One, because of the notoriety and the media. And the golf course, you've got to have a golf course to your liking and you've got to get some breaks. She's playing extremely well. She's fearless. She's putting good. I think that's what's putting her over the edge right now.
Q. You talked about how you've changed over the years. How have you seen the LPGA change?
JULI INKSTER: It's changed a lot. We all went to college. We all played four years. All played against each other. You know, it was kind of more of a sorority out there. Now it's business. You know, most of the girls don't go to college. You know, you get a rare one like Amanda Blumenherst, that goes all four years.
And it's worldwide. We have ‑‑ I don't even know how many foreign players playing this week, but it's a lot. Our tour has gone over there. Our tour, you know, we're traveling worldwide. My passport looks like it's got the chicken pox it's got so many stamps on it. But I enjoy that part. I enjoy playing different places and trying different foods and seeing different cultures. I'm glad I'm not starting my career. I'm glad I'm where I am at right now. But, you know, I think raising a family now would be a lot tougher than raising a family back then, because we used to just throw everything in a car or a van and take off. Now, you know, you've got to fly everywhere and it's just a lot more difficult.
Q. How have you maintained your game? How have you played so well for such a long time? What's the secret?
JULI INKSTER: I enjoy the game. You know, I think if you have a passion for what you do, to me it's not really work. To me, it's ‑‑ I don't know, it just pecks away at me, because I just ‑‑ it seems like you can never conquer it. I think that's what intrigues me. There is always some aspect or always something that you can do to get better. That's what kind of keeps me going.
Q. I know each Open is different, but do you have an advantage because you've won two of these?
JULI INKSTER: I don't think so. I mean, maybe I don't have the pressure that I had, you know, trying to win my first one. You know, I think winning any Open or any U.S. Open or really any golf tournament, especially the U.S. Open, there is pressure. I don't know care if you won four or five or whatever, there's pressure. You want to win. That's why you're out here. I think the thing with the U.S. Open is just to give yourself a chance on Sunday to do it. I think that's the hardest part, is managing your game to there.
Q. I'm not sure how to best articulate this question, so I just want to see if you have a thought about this or a reaction. Nicklaus won twice at Baltusrol, and then he won a U.S. Am and an Open at Pebble Beach. You've won twice at Prairie Dunes, and now you have a chance to win twice here the same way. In other words, match what he did.
JULI INKSTER: That would be cool. I'll be all over that. (Smiling).
Yeah, Prairie Dunes, just the whole week was just, you know, it was like a dream. I won the first U.S. Am, my first one in '80. I go back in 2002 and hadn't been back since and ended up winning the U.S. Open there. I mean, it was just a dream come true. And then coming here and, you know, winning the U.S. Amateur here, it would be great to have a chance to win the Open. I think my game is so much better than it's been the last couple years. I just feel like if I get everything under control, I feel I have a shot.
Q. In what way is it better?
JULI INKSTER: My ball‑striking is more consistent. I'm putting better. You know, I'm just ‑‑ I'm doing the little things better. You know, I haven't put it all together, but I've had some good tournaments this year, been very consistent.
You know, it's just eliminating the little things, which I have been doing better of. Out here, you used to be able to shoot a 72 and 73 and get away it and still be able to win. Now you can't. Now it's putting four good rounds together is what you've got to do.
Q. At Prairie Dunes, as I recall, you kind of found something during the week, didn't you?
JULI INKSTER: Yeah, I found ‑‑ I think I found Jesus. No, I'm just kidding. I did. I mean, I was searching. You know, the first two days I was up and down everywhere. I was getting up and down from the garbage cans.
And then Saturday and Sunday I kind of figured a little swing key out and went with it and played great. I really played great on Sunday. Made some key putts when I needed and hit the ball pretty good, too. So that's the key, is just grinding it out in the U.S. Open.
Q. Is part of your plan just to try to get to Sunday, be in contention?
JULI INKSTER: Well, part of my plan is just fairways and greens and grind it out, make a lot of pars. You know, the par‑5s, have to make some birdies. The par‑3s, you could probably make some birdies. You know, there's gonna be some definite par holes here you want to get your par and get out of there. There are sometimes you're gonna have the green light and you have to fire at it. So it's just getting yourself in that position that you're going to have those options.
Q. Yani Tseng was in here earlier, and I think you and Karrie Webb, among active players, are the only players that have more majors than her at this point. She's only 22 years old.
JULI INKSTER: Maybe she'll retire. (Laughter.)
Q. I just wondered what you thought about that.
JULI INKSTER: Well, you look at Yani and, you know, you never think there is going to be another Mickey Wright or another Annika Sorenstam or Lorena, and all of a sudden Yani comes around. Yani has Lorena's power. I mean, she can bomb the ball. She's got a lot of passion for the game. She wants to be the best. She wants to get better.
So she could be here for a while. She could ‑‑ if she stays healthy she could probably break a lot of Annika's records.
THE MODERATOR: I think that about says it. Juli, thanks so much for joining us. Good luck this week. I bet we'll see you up here again.
JULI INKSTER: Sunday would be nice. (Smiling.)
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, Betsy King has won the U.S. Women's Open twice. She's been the No. 1 player in the world. She won the Women's Open in 1989 and 1990 back to back. She's won just everything there is to win, 34 victories on the LPGA Tour, and we are all very honored that this year Betsy went out to sectional qualifying in Mesa, Arizona and shot 73, 71. And my question, Betsy, is: Why did you decide to do this?
BETSY KING: To be honest, I was out hitting balls one day, and I thought, I don't know, maybe I'll try to qualify. You know, I've never tried to qualify before. The last time I had to qualify was 1975. I don't know. To be honest, there was a Legends event right after that, and I thought it would be good practice for the Legends event. About one week before I went to qualify, I had the date wrong in my head and it was a day later than what I thought it was, so I ended up not getting a practice round for the Legends event.
But I really surprised myself. I played okay, and, I played well enough. But, you know, I'm very happy to be here. Obviously the golf course is a little bit harder than where I qualified, even though they had the qualifying course set up about 6,800 yards. But it was, you know, in Arizona, flat, and the ball runs out a little bit. It will be a challenge for me this week. I'm just viewing it as one week back in the competition. I was thinking about it the other day. It's a perfect circle for me, because the first event I played as a professional was the '77 U.S. Women's Open.
I turned professional, played the Open, and then qualified for the LPGA Tour the week after the Women's Open in that year. So it's the first event I played as a professional. It will be the last event I play as a professional on the tour, as part of the LPGA Tour.
THE MODERATOR: Really? This will be your last event?
BETSY KING: Yes.
THE MODERATOR: What if you win?
BETSY KING: Well, if I win, I can always change my mind. (Smiling.) That would be a real miracle, believe me.
But I've enjoyed it. I've played 18 holes yesterday and today, and I'm a little sore. Plan to play nine holes tomorrow. I played with a couple young players, a high school girl today, Emma, from Kentucky, and then a college player yesterday. Boy, can they hit it. It's definitely at a new level where they can move it out there.
Rachel, who I played with yesterday who will be a junior at Ohio State, her coach is Therese Hession who is a friend of mine and played on the tour. Therese asked me to play a practice round with her. I'm going to give Therese a hard time, because it's giving me an inferiority complex. She absolutely hits it. I mean, she said she hits a 5‑iron 200 yards. That's pretty strong. Not at altitude, you know, regularly.
THE MODERATOR: Is that mainly how the women's game has changed, do you think, the power element? And are the short games as good as players when you were in your peak years?
BETSY KING: Well, you know, obviously when you play with a 17 year old and even a college player, what they lack is the experience and probably don't know how to hit all the shots and, you know, the short game. So the potential is there. You can see it. They can hit the ball a long way, and I think with the instruction that the players receive today, they definitely have better golf swings than we did.
You know, most of the players in my era were athletes that turned to play golf because it was either golf or tennis if you wanted to pursue a sport to make a living. Today they, you know, start playing younger and concentrate on golf, and it really shows.
THE MODERATOR: I know they have a lot of questions they want to ask you, but I wanted to ask you, do you have a coach today? I know Ed Oldfield helped you for so many years. Did you have someone help you get ready for this championship?
BETSY KING: Well, since I qualified ‑ I don't know if it was about three‑and‑a‑half weeks ago or maybe four weeks by the time we tee off ‑ I went back to Chicago three times to see my pro, who is still Ed Oldfield.
I've tried to practice and play more than I normally would, but I had a funny schedule. I didn't change my schedule in that I played in two charity events that I had committed to play in. I went to a junior golf camp last week in Orlando, Florida and visited some ‑‑ the last two weeks I've been in Pennsylvania, Chicago, Minnesota, Orlando, Florida, Chicago, and then back to Phoenix Friday night. So I probably didn't have the desired schedule that you'd like to have leading into the Open. But I wanted to honor the commitments that I made, and I just tried to practice and play a little bit more around those commitments.
Q. It's a little murky when you retired. When did you retire and why did you retire?
BETSY KING: I retired ‑‑ last event I played on the tour was Labor Day weekend of 2005. I retired because both my parents were ill. My father was diagnosed, had terminal cancer, and I found out in June of '05. In fact, I had signed up to qualify for the Open that year and then when he was diagnosed with cancer. I withdrew from the qualifying and he ended up passing away in September of that year.
And then my mother had Alzheimer's, and she died in '07. I had shoulder surgery in '06. So there just were a number of events that happened that I felt God was telling me it was time to retire. And then my game wasn't there, too. The last year, '05, I only played 10 events, and I think I only made the cut once or twice. It was definitely becoming a struggle. And just the situation, I think that was the best thing for me to do. But I never officially announced it.
Q. I know a lot of players, when they walk away from it, they just say that's it. I'm done. You know, they know when you're No. 1 what it takes to be at the top.
BETSY KING: Right.
Q. Did you think you would ever pick up a club again? And are you surprised that you're not only playing but, you're playing in one of the toughest events of the year?
BETSY KING: Yeah, you know, it's funny, because I've looked at other players that have tried to come back and I said, I'll never do that. And I wasn't planning on it. For me, I basically did not compete in anything for about four years. And then two years ago I played one Legends event at Innsbruck, and then last year I played I think two events. So I've probably played ‑‑ since '05 I've literally played in five professional events.
I got away from it and decided that I'll try it a little bit. But you're right. You know what it takes to be, to play your best, and I definitely don't have the desire to do that. I enjoy hitting balls sometimes, but, you know, with my charity golf for Africa and going to Africa, trying to put together golf events to help raise money, that takes up the majority of my time.
THE MODERATOR: In 1995 when this championship was here at the Broadmoor, you tied for third. You must have good feelings about this place and this golf course.
BETSY KING: You know, what sticks in my mind ‑ and this is probably the way golf is ‑ I believe I three‑putted the last hole to end up tied for third instead of third by myself. I do remember that. The pin was up over the ridge, and I left the first putt short. I think I got just up over the ridge, and then missed the second putt. Other than that, I didn't remember the course that well. Once I got here and started playing it kind of looked the same. I think it's set up quite a little bit longer than the last time, because I remember being able to hit 17 in two and fairly easily. And I know I'm hitting it shorter now, as well, but they've lengthened that.
THE MODERATOR: I haven't seen anybody get to it in two. They may have, but I haven't seen any. Questions?
Q. When did you get involved in your humanitarian efforts, and why did you get involved in it?
BETSY KING: Through our Christian fellowship group on tour I have done trips practically my whole career. I went to Romania twice with several other players from the fellowship. Then I went to Honduras in '05 with World Vision and worked building houses for a week.
I would say it's definitely grown out of my faith. In 2006 I went on a trip to Africa with a group of women that were invited there to go to Africa to see the effect of poverty and AIDS on women and children. You know, once I saw that firsthand, you know, I came back wanting to do something to make a difference. I thought that since I had been part of the golf community for 28 years as a player that that would be the natural thing to do. So we've had the events to raise money, and I've gotten a lot of support from the players who have donated their time, played in events. Probably the thing I've enjoyed most is having some players come with us to Africa.
Stacy has, I know, talked about the trip, how it affected her. Juli Inkster went with us and Reilley Rankin and Katherine Hull. So I'm hoping to continue that. It's life‑changing. I know things aren't easy here in the U.S., but we just don't know what it's like to live in a Third World country where the vast majority of the population is poor and living in conditions without electricity, without indoor plumbing, with 50, 60, 70% unemployment.
It's just a matter of course, not, quote, a recession or anything like that. It's just a way of life. Maybe living under a government that is not ‑‑ is so corrupt. We just don't have those issues here. But every time I go, I'm very impressed by the spirit of the people that have practically nothing but yet they're joyous as a community.
So it's life‑changing. I really enjoy going over there and trying to help. We've helped modestly. We have built a medical clinic and we're building houses and we partner with World Vision. Our latest project is building 45 houses for AIDS orphans and vulnerable country in a country called Lisutu. It's completely surrounded by South Africa and has the third highest HIV‑AIDS rate in the world. About a quarter of the population is infected. Because they don't have access to the ARV drugs like we do here, there are a number of children that have lost one or both parents to the disease.
So a lot of these homes will be going to children that are either living with older siblings or being raised by grandparents, or maybe even they're the head of the household at age 10 or 12. So that's what we're doing presently.
THE MODERATOR: Do you still do some work for Habitat for Humanity?
BETSY KING: Yeah, actually with Habitat ‑‑ this housing project is a partnership with Habitat and World Vision. One of the things I learned by going internationally is charities work together to bring aid to the people. This project that we're doing is a partnership with World Vision and Habitat. Habitat's working on the housing part, and World Vision comes alongside with the support to the family and the child. Like paying the school fees, providing agricultural support, and those kinds of things. So it's a partnership with Habitat and World Vision.
Q. You had a few weeks to think about this event having qualified.
BETSY KING: Yes.
Q. What was going through your mind about coming here this week?
BETSY KING: Well, I'm already starting to get the golf nightmares. (Laughter.)
That was one thing that was nice about retirement. It is amazing how long you have that. But, you know, I noticed this week it's getting a little bit stressful already. But, you know, I'm trying to look at it as vacation. I have my best friend here, Debbie, and her parents are coming in and some other friends ‑‑ actually a couple people that went with us to Africa. I mean, it's obviously a beautiful place to be.
But, you know, when you're competitive, it comes out. You know, obviously you like to do well. So I'm definitely ‑‑ my goal is to prepare, be 100% prepared and give 100% on every shot. You know, however many I take, I'm going to give 100% on every one.
THE MODERATOR: Golf nightmares. Interesting subject. Do you mind sharing one or two with us, please?
BETSY KING: The one I have had most often throughout my career is that standing on the first tee or on a tee box and you can't get a back swing because there is a tree in your way.You know, you're teeing off, so obviously you should have a clear path to swing. And then usually getting lost, you can't find the golf course. That kind of thing where you're late. You're gonna miss your tee time and you just can't find the golf course.
THE MODERATOR: You never tried to put the tee in your mattress and you can't get your balance?
BETSY KING: No. I had to play one out of a locker one time though in a dream. You know, hitting at ball out of a locker in the locker room. So it's amazing how you dream and it seems feasible, and then when you wake up you think, How could I have possibly thought that or been nervous about that?
THE MODERATOR: Yes, you're truly back, Betsy. Thank you.
BETSY KING: Thank you.
Q. How do you determine who goes to Africa with you? Do you pick the players or do they come to you? How does that work?
BETSY KING: Actually, we kind of put it out there, and hopefully, you know, find players that are interested in going. I talked to Stacy a little bit last year. You know, like I'm going to go to our fellowship meeting tonight and ask around.
Juli, I think it was great she brought her two daughters along. I'm sure it was a great experience for them. So we kind of put it out there. It's not cheap to go. You know, it's probably about $5,000 plus the airfare to and from, depending how long we stay. It's a commitment to get over there. But I feel very safe. We work with ‑‑ usually are hosted most of the time by World Vision and their local staff, so you're with people that can speak the language. I mean, every country you go into it's a different language. But that's how we determine who goes.
Q. Back to the nightmares, knowing that they are nightmares and dreams, whatever, does that relieve pressure, you know, for the real world and the real situation? And through the years and in your real heyday, quote, unquote, how did you prepare for majors and kind of relieve the pressure?
BETSY KING: Well, for me, I like to play going into a major. I never took off the week before. You know, like Tiger never plays before a major, I was just the opposite. I always felt I played better if I was playing the week before. I wanted to get that competition.
I know the first Open I won, it was the fifth event that I played in in a row. You know, I took the next week off and my dad was like, Don't you want to keep going? I'm like, No, I can't play every week. But you know how parents can be. You're playing well; keep playing. But I just felt that was how I prepared. I'd also try to see my coach ahead of time. Sometimes at the Open itself, although I think it's better to work on changes ahead of time. Then by the time the tournament rolls around you kind of have it or you have one swing thought, not, you know, three or four.
Q. People put too much pressure on themselves in majors?
BETSY KING: I think the secret to the major, it's still just a golf tournament. You know, whatever worked to win whatever other event is gonna work to win, you know, the U.S. Open. I mean, you have to play a little bit differently for the Open. I mean, normally a higher score wins. Hitting greens and making pars is better at the Open than, say, a course that you have to shoot 20‑under.
But other than that, there's enough pressure without putting bit of extra pressure on yourself. You're always trying to say, Hey, it's just another tournament.
Q. What would make this a good week for you?
BETSY KING: I think, to be honest, if I could make the cut, that would be a pretty good week for, you know, the way I'm hitting it. I have a day and a half to keep turning it around. I was talking to my caddy, and he caddied for me on tour. He caddied for Kathy Whitworth. I'm usually the kind of player that I play better in the tournament than I do in practice, which is a good thing. So I still have hope. But to make the cut I think would be a pretty good week for me.
Q. You've played here 16 years ago in the Open. It's been a few years since you have been in an Open, period. What kind of feelings do you have right now this week?
BETSY KING: Um, well, I'm really trying to, you know, if I were still playing on the tour it would be a different feeling to me that I would have, you know, tried to peak my game for here. You know, I would have been obviously still playing on the tour and playing more events and seeing my pro and working on things more.
So it really is a different preparation. I mean, as much as I've practiced the last three weeks, it still is about half or less than half of what I've done when I've been playing. But it's great to be here. I also played here ‑‑ the Broadmoor Invitational used to be a pretty big women's event. I don't think they play it anymore, but I played that when I was in college.
So, I mean, I like this area. If you have to come and stay here and suffer through the golf for a little while, it makes it worth it to be here with all the amenities that are here. It's fun. It's nice to come out and have people ask you for an autograph again. When you're playing, sometimes you feel like you'd like to get away from that. Well, I have been away from it for four or five years, so I kind of like having that feeling again that, you know, somebody wants your autograph. That's a nice thing.
THE MODERATOR: How much do you miss it?
BETSY KING: You know what? To be honest, if I could play well enough to play, I'd still be playing. That's why 99% of the people that I know that retired, that's why they retired. They just didn't play well enough to keep playing. I think if you're at the highest level maybe you could still play a little bit. But, you know, you'd be struggling to make the cut. Who wants to do that week in, week out?
So that's why I retired, along with those other things that I mentioned. It was just my time to retire. You can't play forever, no matter who you are.
Q. In your time away, have you had a chance to see Yani Tseng play, and your thoughts on kind of what everyone says is the up‑and‑coming face of women's golf? What are your thoughts?
BETSY KING: I haven't seen her play much in person, but I watched some of the LPGA and I've seen her other wins. What impresses me about Yani is that she hits the ball. She's strong. She hits it a long way and she keeps it in play. You know, Rochester where she won the LPGA, that's a very tight golf course. To hit it long and in keep it in play is a challenge there. She swings so ‑‑ has so much speed. She hits herself on the back on the follow through. That's just an indication that she has that speed.
From everything that I've heard her say and read about her, she obviously wants to be No. 1 and, you know, has achieved that. I think what's happened now is that the players peak at an earlier age. With instruction and experience they can win tournaments at 20 years old.
So I think that puts their peak years, it just extends that period. The first time I played golf year‑round was literally my first year on tour. I played basketball three years in college and played field hockey, and so it took me a while. And in my era, the peak years were maybe late 20s to 30s. But for these young players, they have just extended that, that it's probably 20 to 40 instead of 28 to 40.
Q. What do you want your legacy to be? When Rhonda started your introduction, she said you'd pretty much won everything you wanted to win. What do you want your legacy to be in this game?
BETSY KING: Gosh, you know, I obviously wasn't ‑‑ I wasn't a Nancy Lopez, you know, a fan favorite and that kind of thing. Just maybe that I tried my best all the time and I got the best out of what I was given. I really think I developed the God‑given talent that I had to the best that I could.
If I, you know, were to look back on it, I think I wish I would have been a little bit nicer while I was doing it. Not that I was mean, but it's hard, you know. You're out there ‑ there isn't another sport, and I've mentioned this before ‑ when you go to a basketball game you're not up close and personal with the players while they're running around, but in golf you are. You know, it's a hard thing. For some people it comes naturally that they can in between shots relax and talk to people and do all that stuff. But for me that was a challenge. So sometimes it was a little hard for me to maybe respond or open up as much while I was competing.
If I could do that over again, I'd try to realize it doesn't take as much as you think it does. You can still be nice and win. That sounds bad, but it's...
THE MODERATOR: Let me chime in on that, because I was a media person while you were playing great and doing TV for ABC. You were always polite to everybody you encountered, and you were always a good interview. I think you did just fine.
BETSY KING: Thanks, Rhonda. I like talking. Even though everybody thinks I'm quiet, I love talking. I don't mind speaking in front of people. I had the opportunity to do that, and mostly within Christian circles. But, you know, I've given a commencement address at a college. I, you know, speak in front of churches numerous times, and I don't mind it at all.
THE MODERATOR: I would like to personally say, Betsy, that we're, all of us in the USGA, so delighted that you qualified, and this championship is a better championship because you are here.
BETSY KING: Well, thank you. I have to say when you're, you know, a young 10‑year‑old making putts, it's always to win the U.S. Open. You know, so that I had that happen, I'm very thankful.