Oakmont Country Club
July 11, 2010
Third-round notes and interviews
Sunday morning notes from the third round
Paula Creamer holds a three-stroke lead heading into Sunday’s final round. Creamer, who was forced to finish her third round early Sunday morning, recorded four birdies and three bogeys on her way to a 1-under par 70 round. Creamer, who has only played in four LPGA events prior to the U.S. Women’s Open, is looking to improve on her season best seventh at the ShopRite LPGA Classic. Creamer’s best finish at the U.S. Women’s Open was a tie for sixth at the 2008 and 2009 Open. Creamer is no stranger to being in contention at a USGA event as she was a semifinalist in both the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship and U.S. Junior Girls Championship in 2003 and 2004.
Rookie Azahara Munoz is steadily climbing up the leaderboard. Munoz started Saturday’s third round in 33rd along with fellow rookie, Maria Hernandez. A consistent third-round 71 allowed Munoz to jump into a tie for 17th at seven-over for the Championship. Munoz, who is currently leading the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Race, is looking to separate herself from the rookie pack as her closest pursuer Amanda Blumenherst missed the cut.
The Rolex Rankings race is heating up at Oakmont as Suzann Pettersen and Cristie Kerr both find themselves in contention. Projections will be calculated during the day in the case of a Pettersen victory. Kerr who took over the top spot on June 28th is currently at five-over par while Pettersen is four back at three-over par.
Second round co-leader Sakura Yokomine fought back after shooting a front-nine 42. Yokomine played the first three holes five-over par but her strong will and determination allowed her to shoot a one-under par 34 on the back. Yokomine goes into the final round at five-over par.
Of note. Jennifer Johnson who shot an impressive third-round 71, is currently the low amateur heading into the final round. Defending champion Eun-Hee Ji shot a third-round 74 and stands at 13-over par going into the final round.
Saturday evening notes from the third round
Paula Creamer is looking to notch the first major victory of her career. Creamer has eight LPGA victories. Her career best finish in an LPGA major is a tie for third at the 2009 Ricoh Women’s British Open and the 2005 LPGA Championship. Her highest finish in a U.S. Women’s Open is a tie for sixth which she carded in 2008 and 2009. Creamer is making only her fifth start this season. She withdrew after the first round of the season-opening Honda PTT Thailand with a thumb injury. She returned to the LPGA Tour at the ShopRite LPGA Classic after recovering from surgery, finishing seventh.
Under par rounds are few and far between this week at Oakmont. Through two rounds only seven under-par scores have been carded. The lowest score of the week thus far is Brittany Lang’s 69 in the first round.
Alexis Thompson is making a statement in her second start as a professional. Thompson shot the first under-par round of the third round. She fired a one-under par 70 with three birdies and two bogeys. The 15-year old Thompson made her professional debut at the ShopRite LPGA Classic four weeks ago. She missed the cut in that event.
Play was suspended at 8:37 p.m. due to darkness. Play will resume Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m. EDT with the lead group of Paula Creamer, Cristie Kerr and Sakura Yokomine resuming play on the 14th hole. Wendy Ward who stands one behind Creamer has the par-4 18th to play in the morning.
MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, we'd like to welcome Alexis Thompson, who had one of the best rounds of her life, I'm sure. She started with a bogey, ended with a bogey, had three birdies in between, and she said she just thought of tempo and posture. I mean, that's a heck of a round, Alexis.
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Thank you.
MODERATOR: Tell us what you felt about it.
ALEXIS THOMPSON: I felt I played pretty consistent. I was trying to trust my swing and not steering it around the course, like I sometimes do when I get a little nervous. You know, it just went really well for me. I just hit fairway and greens and just two putted, which is really good out here. I had a lot of fun with my group, too.
MODERATOR: You glad you finished and you don't have to come back early?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Yeah, I'm really thankful that I don't have to come back at 7:30 to finish probably a hole.
Q. You mentioned the nerves. What was it like being out there in that situation today, third round of the Women's Open in contention?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: It wasn't that bad. It was just my first tee shot. I don't know what I'm doing on that first tee, but I had the biggest chunk with a 3 wood on the first tee. It was so embarrassing.
MODERATOR: How far do you think it went or how far didn't it go?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Um, I think it probably went like 160 yards, so it wasn't a really good start. I just played consistent throughout that. My dad was giving me a lot of support throughout the day.
MODERATOR: He was your caddie?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Yeah.
MODERATOR: Can you just tell me how long your birdie putt was on No. 8, the par 3, you made a 2?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: It was about six feet.
MODERATOR: And your putt on No. 16?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: It was like 40 feet.
MODERATOR: Whoa. How about 17?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: 17 was about 10 feet, probably around there.
MODERATOR: And then what happened on 18?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: I actually I didn't hit that bad of a drive, it just caught one of the bunkers on the left and I had to pitch out like usual here.
MODERATOR: On in three and two putts?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Yeah. I hit a good shot my third shot, I just didn't make the putt.
Q. At any time during this round, did it dawn on you that you're playing with the last two No. 1s and beating them rather soundly?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: No, I never thought of that. You know, I was just watching their games and how good they are and how good they putt. Just amazes me. They're just really consistent players. You know, I learned a lot from them.
MODERATOR: Does any of that rub off on you when you're playing? Other players playing well, does that help your momentum?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Yeah, it definitely helps playing with two great players. It just makes you play better, and being around them definitely made my game a little bit better today.
Q. Did you come here this week thinking you could win the tournament? Do you think you can win the tournament now?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: I wasn't really thinking about that. I was just trying to come here and play my game, just try and do my best. If I did win, it would just be a bonus. I'm just going to come out tomorrow and play like I did today and just play consistent. Pars are good.
MODERATOR: You said you were a little nervous earlier in the week. How do you think you'll handle it tomorrow?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: I think I'll be fine. I'm just going to come out and just play my game, just not worry about it. I have nothing to lose out there. Just try and do my best and try and hit it well.
Q. Is there maybe less pressure on you at this age, so young and just going out and learning at this point, or do you feel a little bit where you want to be able to win and want to be able to pull this out?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Yeah, there's probably a little less pressure on me since I really have nothing to lose out here. But I'm just going to try and have fun tomorrow and play my game. I'm just going to try and do my best and shoot well.
Q. Could you talk about what clubs you hit on 8 and 17, how you played those shots? Set the birdies up, please.
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Um, 8 was about 220 to the pin and like 200 to the front, and I actually took my 3 iron out and replaced it with a wedge. So I had to like rip on a 4 iron, because my hybrid went long every day. I hit it really good, and it went to like six foot. It landed on the front and just rolled out. And 16 I actually hit a really bad wedge shot. It went way left, and I happened to just make the putt. I was just trying to two putt. 17 I went for the green and it went over into the fringe and I just chipped up to like 12 feet and made the putt.
Q. What did you hit off the tee on 17?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Um, hybrid.
Q. Do you feel even though you're 15 that in golf years you're older given how seriously you played the game since you were a young child?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Yeah, I definitely think so. Just starting so young and just playing a lot of tournaments definitely has helped my experience level and maturity out on the course. I'm just really happy to be out here and playing here and playing against the best. I'm having fun.
Q. Some golfers, when they start playing for pay, feel more pressure, not less. Why do you say you have nothing to lose?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Um, I don't really know. I just I'm not thinking about the money. I'm just playing my game. I'm not playing for anything different. Just trying to do my best, trying to hit the best golf shots I can.
Q. Could you give us some idea what we might expect tomorrow? Could end up being a shootout. Seems likes players go up the leaderboard and down again, back and forth. What do you think?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: I'm just going to try to play consistent tomorrow. Just making pars out here is good. And making your worst score a bogey out here, I think that's key. You know, the birdies are just bonuses out here. You know, you've got to be thankful for those. Just going to try to play consistently.
MODERATOR: You've only been a pro for a couple weeks, but are you a leaderboard watcher thus far?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Yeah, I definitely look at the leaderboard quite a bit. Doesn't help they're on like every hole. I see them a lot, so it's hard not to see them.
MODERATOR: You think you'll be checking that out tomorrow?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Yeah, probably. I'm going to try and just to play my game, though and not worry about others.
Q. What was it like to look on the leaderboard and see so many American names?
ALEXIS THOMPSON: Yeah, it was great to see that. But, you know, there's a lot of foreign players. Yeah. You know, they're great players. You can't do anything about it. They're all great players to be out here and being on top of the leaderboard, so you can't do anything about it. I wish them all the luck tomorrow.
Q. 32 holes today, I believe, for you.
MORGAN PRESSEL: Something like that.
Q. Can you talk about the challenge of concentrating for that long on this hard of a golf course?
MORGAN PRESSEL: Yeah, I mean, it's tough. You know, the weather, it's a little warm out there. It's a tough walk to begin with, so physically it's difficult. To have to just focus on every single shot for I mean, I got here at 6:00 this morning. I've been here a long time, so it's not easy.
Q. Everybody says, yeah, really tough course, but we're glad to be here and glad for the challenge.
MORGAN PRESSEL: You know, I think it is, it's a really tough golf course. But if you hit the ball in the right place and, you know, you make a few putts, it's not it's not unplayable. You know, I look back and I look at how I've played so far, and mistakes I've made have either been mental or poor decisions or just missed a few putts. I mean, that's really but it's not like
Q. It's not like easy golf out there.
MORGAN PRESSEL: Exactly. I mean, you could say the first hole out there is a little goofy, but I played that even par. So I don't know what to say. Yeah, I mean, 1 and 10 are pretty silly, but other than that it's a fairly playable golf course. Not a lot of birdie opportunities, but, you know, it's an Open. You're always playing for par.
Q. You can go home. Don't have to worry about coming back and playing a hole tomorrow.
MORGAN PRESSEL: I'm very thankful that I'm finished and don't have to get up tomorrow morning.
PAULA CREAMER (through 13 holes)
MODERATOR: All right, Paula, great playing today. You really distanced yourself; bogeyed on No. 13. What happened on that?
PAULA CREAMER: I just put the ball in the wrong place on the green. I actually made a great first putt to about five and a half feet, and second putt had a foot break. I hit a good putt, it just didn't go in. You have to accept that. Unfortunately, you know, my approach shot to the green, I just didn't place it in the right position.
MODERATOR: Overall you've got to be pleased with the way you played today.
PAULA CREAMER: Definitely. Played really consistent, stuck to my game plan, hitting lots of greens. Just, you know, I know birdies will come. Every time I get a par, I know I'm not losing any ground. I can just keep on going with that mindset.
Q. You've already mentioned being consistent, but you seem to be there. 1 under, even, all day long.
PAULA CREAMER: Uh huh.
Q. How could you do that on this golf course, because everybody else is just going up and down like a yo yo?
PAULA CREAMER: You know, I'm just trying to stay as patient as I can. I knew that going into this tournament over par would win, or I have that kind of ingrained in my mind that if I just kept going along and making as many pars as I can, you know, that I would be in contention. You know, today was a tough day. I got here at 5:30 here this morning, and it's 9:00 now. That's a lot of golf. On this golf course, I mean, 18 holes is hard enough, let alone how many we played today. I just kept telling myself, Just keep making pars, hitting the middle of the greens, stay below the hole.
Q. What did you play, 25 holes today? Something like that?
PAULA CREAMER: Something like I don't know.
Q. How did your thumb hold up? Do you have any concerns about it holding up overnight and going into tomorrow?
PAULA CREAMER: It's tired. My whole left hand is pretty tired. That's to be expected. I haven't played this much golf, jeez, since last year. And, you know, I had two warmups. I played just a lot of golf today, and, you know, the previous days, as well. But I'll get some ice on it. I'll probably sleep with an ice bag on my hand. I'm afraid to take this tape off. My thumb is just going to explode out of it. You know, we're just trying the more I think about making pars, the less my thumb bothers me. (Laughing.)
Q. Obviously when you came here you wanted to win, but you haven't played a whole lot. Your thoughts being in this, you know, final round tomorrow, being out front, and, you know, the chances of winning this thing, you know.
PAULA CREAMER: Well, I think that's the key to it is I'm very I'm just very excited to be here. It's been a really, really tough last couple of months, and even these last three weeks have been difficult. You know, I haven't been able to play the game that I've wanted, you know, let alone even hitting balls off the ground. Who would have thought that would be such a big thing in someone's mind, especially a professional golfer. You'd expect them to hit balls off the range, off the ground.
But, you know, I'm just so excited to play in this tournament. I always have. This has always been one of my favorite events. It's kind of a challenge to myself to see how I can how I've grown up over the years, how I've learned from my experiences.
I think that's my challenge this week is just trying to get better every year that I play in it. You know, go in tomorrow and I'll take what it gives me. I'm still going to be excited to just be out there and hopefully have a chance to win. There's still a lot of golf left.
BRITTANY LANG (though 14 holes)
Q. Brittany, +3 through 14. What was it like out there today?
BRITTANY LANG: You know, it was really soft. It played different. You really had to force yourself to fly yourself to the hole. It was not easy after the ball took off yesterday. So it played a little bit easier; I hit it a little bit crookeder. I don't know if that's a word, but I didn't hit it straight. I don't think it played too terribly tough.
Q. You still have some holes to play, but you're within 5. What do you think about that?
BRITTANY LANG: Anything can happen. I didn't really take a look at the leaderboard, but, I mean, I'm just going to try to get a few looks coming in on this round and then just try to stay patient and be a little bit cleaner with my mental game on the last round. See what happens.
Q. Maintain your take what the course gives you attitude rather than...
BRITTANY LANG: Yeah. I've been super positive, super patient. I made a lot of putts for par, and that's what you're going to have to do if you're going to win out here, a lot of putts for par. I've had a really good attitude about it.
Q. Any significant changes as the day went on as to the course conditions?
BRITTANY LANG: It just got easier. There was no wind. The greens were softer. It was incredibly easy. I didn't happen to hit the ball really straight, so I was chipping out and having long putts for par.
Q. Any places where you might take some chances with anything tomorrow? Any holes left where you might take a chance and maybe make a score?
BRITTANY LANG: Well, I mean, I'm going to play my game plan for the last few holes and see what happens. Nothing's going to change. I mean, I focused. I'm just going play the holes exactly and just try to get a birdie look on the last four.
Q. How about your fatigue level? Are you feeling pretty good?
BRITTANY LANG: I feel great. I slept in till 8:30 this morning. I got lucky I got done. I feel fantastic. It's going to be hard to go to bed because I slept so late.
Q. How do you gear back now?
BRITTANY LANG: Just go have some dinner, relax, and kind of reflect on the goods from today and just have a good attitude coming out tomorrow.
Q. Seems to me you've been using that positive mantra. Is that kind of the way you've been getting yourself through this when it's a tough grind like this?
BRITTANY LANG: Yeah, well, I'm a fairly positive person to begin with. But, yeah, I think at an Open, if you're positive, you're more likely to make the long par putts; you're more likely to make smart decisions. You're going play better if you have a positive attitude. Bottom line, I think.
Q. You talk about being patient. Is that part of your demeanor, being patient?
BRITTANY LANG: Um, I mean, some days it's easier than others. But with this golf course you have to be patient; if you're not, you will shoot a huge number, no question. I mean, I'm 3 over, and there's nothing wrong with that. You go, you just keep hitting fairways and greens and maybe make a birdie, but you just have to focus on what you're doing. But patience is definitely key to the Open.
Q. Did you talk much with your playing partners?
BRITTANY LANG: Yeah, we did. We had a good group today. Christina and Suzann. Christina, she's crazy; she's a riot; she's so much fun.
Q. Does that help?
BRITTANY LANG: Doesn't make a difference. It's fun to play. She's a friend, and it's fun to play with Suzann, too. She's a good time.
CHRISTINA KIM (through 14 holes)
Q. Talk about today. Is it weird playing golf and finishing (indiscernible.)
CHRISTINA KIM: Yeah, it is rather odd. It's a very, very weird feeling. The greens out there were definitely no different than what we had encountered throughout Monday through Friday midday. It was playing tough out there. It was funny, we were delayed off the first hole for probably about 15 minutes. For me it made no sense because I was like, we only had one wave, fewer players, you know, the top 68 players or so as opposed to 150, trying to squeeze them into a round. But, you know, once you encounter the greens you definitely understand why. It was a bit of a challenge out there, and looking forward to redeem myself tomorrow.
Q. Can you expand a little bit on how the greens were different? In what way?
CHRISTINA KIM: They were softer, more receptive. So as opposed to like I haven't been to No. 15 yet. No. 15 you would anticipate hitting it short of the green and running it up or something like that, even someone like me who has a decent amount of spin on the ball. Now we're able to attack the pins or the hole locations, excuse me. They've been putting them in some tough spots out there. They were interesting hole locations, just what you expect on Saturday of the U.S. Open, you know. It was definitely very challenging, spitting balls back on a couple of occasions, just really having to put a premium on where it is to place your ball. It was pretty crazy out there.
Q. How do you like your position? How do you think you stand, and can you comment on how Paula is playing given her lack of play?
CHRISTINA KIM: Well, there's a lot to be said for someone who misses the cut the week before. Look at Choi last week. She missed the cut at the LPGA Championship presented the Wegmans and went on to win the next week. Paula missed cut last week and she's going out and playing some pretty damn good golf. Might have felt like three in a row was a bit much for her. Getting those extra days was probably not the worst thing for her. She's playing great, and you know, anything can happen the next 20 I don't know. That's a lot of math.
She's got 22 holes left. I have 21. She has 22. So anything can happen. Obviously she's playing very well. You know, I'm happy for her for that. All can I do is focus on what it is that I'm doing. Whatever anybody else is doing out there essentially does nothing, means nothing to me when I'm playing my game.
Q. A lot of Americans on the leaderboard.
CHRISTINA KIM: I noticed that, yeah. I was on 10, and 6 of the top 10 were Americans, which I though was really, really cool. I had to look twice, because it said, Jang, Lang, and Yang. I had to stop and think. I remember Brittany is American. It was exciting to see that. This is, you know, our Open, you know. This is one of the most prestigious tournaments in all of sports, one of the four Majors, and the USGA does an incredible job hosting us and presenting the golf course. As much rain as they got, putting it in as great a shape as they could, it really is very impressive what they've done for us. They've spent timeless hours. The staff out here has been incredible.