Hillsdale Golf & Country Club
August 23, 2011
Pre-tournament notes and interviews
Michelle Wie, Rolex Rankings No. 14
Lorie Kane, Rolex Rankings No. 227
Alena Sharp, Rolex Rankings No. 138
One of the strongest tournament fields of the year will be on display when the CN Canadian Women’s Open kicks off this week at the Hillsdale Golf & Country Club outside Montreal. Defending champion Michelle Wie will highlight the star-studded field of 156 players which features the top 50 players on the 2011 LPGA Official Money List as they compete for a $2.25 million purse and a $337,500 first-place prize.
Joining Wie in this week’s field are 17 of the Top-20 players in the Rolex Rankings. That includes Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng and Suzann Pettersen, who jumped up to the No. 2 spot in the rankings after winning her second LPGA Tour event of the season at last week’s Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola. The 30-year-old Norwegian came from nine shots back in the final round at the Safeway Classic to defeat Rolex Rankings No. 5 Na Yeon Choi in a playoff.
Looking to defend: Michelle Wie captured her second LPGA victory last year at the CN Canadian Women’s Open when it took place at St. Charles Country Club outside Winnipeg. She shot a final-round 70 to take a three-stroke victory over Jiyai Shin, Kristy McPherson, Jee Young Lee and Suzann Pettersen.
This season Wie has four top-10 finishes, including a runner-up finish at the Honda LPGA Thailand, but she has yet to capture a win. It’s not been exactly the type of season that Wie had hoped for herself, but the 21-year-old said it’s been a good learning experience.
“Obviously golf is a very long road, and I've had my ups and downs,” Wie said. “You know, I've had my good times and I've had my bad times. But I think, you know, through all of that I've been learning about myself.
“I do know that I need to be better and I need to work harder at my game, and I want to be at a higher level, and that obviously requires a lot of work…It's always a fight, but at the same time I'm very proud of myself for how I've grown and how I've dealt with everything that has been dealt to me. And you know, I'm enjoying it. I think that's the most important thing. I enjoy every day that I go out there. I look forward to the next, and for me that's the most important thing is that I think the game is still fun and it's still very enjoyable and I want to win more than ever.”
Oh, Canada! The CN Canadian Women’s Open is a coveted title for every player on the LPGA Tour, but more so for the 18 Canadians in the field this week at Hillsdale Golf & Country Club outside Montreal. Several LPGA Tour members are excited to tee it up in their native country of Canada. Lori Kane, Jessica Shepley, Adrienne White, Alena Sharp, Samantha Richdale and Lisa Meldrum are all looking to capture their first LPGA victory of the 2011 season and represent their home country club.
A Canadian has not won an LPGA Tour event on home soil since Jocelyne Bourassa did it in 1973. That date is one that Kane knows well, reciting it before any one else could answer the question on Tuesday. And so she was asked if there is any addition pressure to win here.
“There's pressure every week,” Kane said. “And it's the pressure that you put on yourself. We're here for one reason and that's to be the best that we can be, and if a win comes with that, great. But you know, I'd be lying if I told you that I wasn't thinking that I would very much like to win because that's why I'm here. To hoist the CN Canadian Women's trophy would be fantastic, and I think -- you know, it's Tuesday. I've got to ease my way into the week, ease my way into Thursday, Friday, Saturday and see what's in store for Sunday.”
Kane wasn’t the only Canadian player to acknowledge that it would mean a lot to be the player that ends that long winless streak in their home country.
“Every year we come here everybody's like, okay, a Canadian hasn't won here since the 70s,” Sharp said. “And they do it to the men, too. And every Canadian player would love to win a Canadian Open, just like most Americans want to win the U.S. Open. But obviously -- yeah, it's a big dream of mine. I would hope that I can get a shot at it before I retire. So I have a lot of years left in me, and hopefully this week I'll be in the running come Sunday onto that last green.”
A Canadian Ambassador: Lorie Kane remembers the advice that she received from veteran players when she first arrived on the LPGA Tour. So when the 36-year-old Kane was asked to join two young Canadian amateurs during a practice round on Tuesday at Hillsdale Golf & Country Club, she felt honored to be able to pass along advice of her own.
Kane played with Team Canada members Jessica Wallace and Nicole Vandermade during her practice round on Tuesday morning. They were joined by another Canadian, Brent Franklin, who is Wallace’s caddy this week and a former Canadian Tour member. The group discussed a lot of what it takes to be a professional. And from watching the two young players during the round, Kane expressed just how excited she is about the state of Canadian golf.
“Jessica qualified here by winning one of the CN Women’s Canadian Tour events which I think is a great feat as an amateur,” Kane said. “And Nicole I've been watching for the last couple of years, and I think that she's somebody definitely on my radar that has length and strength, and she basically hits it like a guy and is going to I think progress very quickly. I think her plan is to finish school this year, but I think the state of our game in Canada is very good.”
For Kane, the opportunity to serve as a role model to other Canadian players is one that she relishes.
“Frankly I'm here to encourage them because I was really lucky that I had a lot of help from a lot of different people; and they asked to play a practice round with me, which was quite flattering,” Kane said. “Come Thursday we're competitors, but I'm going to give back as much as I have taken from the game for sure.”
Who’s Who of past champions: They include Wie (2010), Suzann Pettersen (2009), Katherine Hull (2008), Lorena Ochoa (2007), Cristie Kerr (2006), Meena Lee (2005), Meg Mallon (2002, 2004), Beth Daniel (2003) and Annika Sorenstam (2001).
Of Note…Four players earned spots in this week’s field during Monday’s qualifier. Amateurs Kelly Shon, Anna Kim and Laetitia Beck are shot 71 to earn their spots and pro Hye-Min Kim earned the fourth and final spot in the field by shooting 73…Since Jocelyne Bourassa won in 1973, the best finish by a Canadian player in this event has been Lorie Kane when she tied for 3rd in 2001 at the Angus Glen Golf Club in Markham, Ontario.
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome defending championship, Michelle Wie, into the interview room today. Thanks for joining us. Can you just talk first off a little bit about your memories from last year and what it's like being back at this tournament?
MICHELLE WIE: Obviously I have a lot of great memories from last year. It's always fun coming back up here and trying to remember different parts of it, and I'm really looking forward to this week. Played 18 holes this morning and the course looks fantastic. It's in awesome shape, and looks like a very interesting golf course, so I think it's going to be a lot of fun.
THE MODERATOR: We know how busy you are most of the time during the year with school and golf. How has this summer been for you as you’ve been able to focus solely on golf?
MICHELLE WIE: It's been good so far. Obviously I didn't play as well as I wanted to so far, but I'm hoping that this week I can turn things around and play some good golf, and it's very exciting to come back here.
THE MODERATOR: I know everybody's talking about the change to the long putter. How has that been for you and what's been the biggest difference that you've noticed?
MICHELLE WIE: I really enjoy it. I like it a lot more. It's been a couple weeks it's been in my bag, and it's been working well so far. Hopefully I can do a lot better with it.
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah. You know, no expectations this week. I'm just going to go out there and try my hardest. I think the last couple weeks I think I've been grinding a little bit too hard out there, and I'm just going to try and relax and just play my game this week. It's a good golf course, good test of your game. There's a couple of holes where it's very slopey, the greens. So I think it's going to be a good test, and hopefully I can play as well as I want to.
Q. You often talk about the importance of going to school and getting your degree. And I guess you're going back for your final year in a few weeks. What is your schedule going to be like after this tournament and how difficult has it been to manage all that schooling and trying to play at an elite level?
MICHELLE WIE: I'm not going to miss a lot of tournaments with school and everything, but it has been a little bit difficult. Obviously hasn't made my life any easier, but like I said before and I always will say, I think education is very important, and I think it was very important for me personally to go, and I don't regret that decision at all. I've learned so much about myself and learned so much about life in general going to college and kind of growing up there. I think it gave me an opportunity to kind of be myself and kind of mature as a person. Obviously it kind of made me, you know, helped me manage my time more and helped me make decisions, smarter decisions. But I really enjoy it. I'm looking forward to graduating, but I think it's going to be a good and it was a very good experience.
Q. How tough was the rough today did you find?
MICHELLE WIE: It was good. It's healthy laug
Q. Does it look extra challenging or did it pose any problem for you?
MICHELLE WIE: You know, I think there are some bits where it was a little bit drier and the rough is a little bit down, but there are places where it was very heavy. It's a Tuesday, so by Sunday I assume that they're not going to cut it and it's going to keep on growing.
Q. Did you have a good score today?
MICHELLE WIE: No, I don't really keep score.
Q. I want to ask you a question about your own development and how you do it. I want to know how close you think you are to being the player that you want to be.
MICHELLE WIE: I think, you know, obviously golf is a very long road, and I've had my ups and downs. You know, I've had my good times and I've had my bad times. But I think, you know, through all of that I've been learning about myself.
I'll never know, you know, when I reach my full potential. I think I'll know that after I'm done. It's something that you kind of look at and realize after you're done. You're like, oh, this is when I played my best, because right now it's a constant fight. You know, even when you shoot 64 or 65, you still think you could have done better.
Obviously I do know that I need to be better and I need to work harder at my game, and you know, I want to be at a higher level, and that obviously requires a lot of work, but at the same time it's not something that I can analyze right now about myself. I do know that I always want to get better, and I am trying every day. And golf is a difficult game. It's not as easy as it seems on TV. It's always a fight, but at the same time I'm very proud of myself for how I've grown and how I've dealt with everything that has been dealt to me. And you know, I'm enjoying it. I think that's the most important thing. I enjoy every day that I go out there. I look forward to the next, and for me that's the most important thing is that I think the game is still fun and it's still very enjoyable and I want to win more than ever.
Q. What's it like to have a contemporary up here like Yani, who's only a year older than you, enjoy the type of success that you've seen her enjoy over the last year and a half or so? Is that sort of a motivating factor for you?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, for sure. I think age is really not an issue anymore with any player. You see a lot of young players out there winning majors and that are doing a lot of things, and I think the game has kind of shifted to that more than it has been.
But it is very motivating to see someone like Yani get really good over the last year and a half. It's been good to see, and it's been kind of something that I want to see about myself. I want someone to say next year how good I've come. So like I said before, it's always a fight and I am always working on trying to be a better player and a better person, and we'll see how it goes, but I am trying.
Q. Like I said, can you compare this course to the ones at the Canadian Open last year in Winnipeg? Are they similar? Do you have to approach this one differently?
MICHELLE WIE: I think they're both very challenging. I remember the course last year being very difficult. This year I think is going to be the same. There are some parts of the green where you don't want to hit it to. Like I mentioned before, some of the greens are very slopey, so you want to make sure you're on the bottom side of the hole coming up at it. But I think it requires a lot of planning and just like any other tournament.
Q. How would you rate this course from toughness compared to some of the courses you've played? Above average? Average toughness? In the short amount of time that you've seen it.
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah. I mean the amount of time that I've seen it, it could be very challenging. Obviously if it blew like it did yesterday, it's going to make the course unbelievably harder. I think it's tough. I think the greens really make the course, and I think you just need to be in the right place.
Q. When you first came on the LPGA, you were the next big thing. How hard was it to live up to the expectations?
MICHELLE WIE: You know, I don't really try to live up to anyone's expectations. I just try to, you know, like I said, try to keep doing my own thing and try to get better every year. Obviously you hear a lot of it, and it's been fun. It's been fun, playing in tournaments when I was young. And kind of looking back the long road to here, and hopefully a longer road moving forward. And just every day trying to get better. That's really all it is.
Q. Do you feel that there's any more pressure or not at all?
MICHELLE WIE: No. I mean there are times when I did feel pressure, but most times, you know, it was just kind of me out there on the golf course trying to hit a perfect score. You can't really look too far into the future or try and become something that, you know, you aren't at the moment or really want to be. It doesn't happen like that. You just have to try your hardest on every shot and when it all comes together, it all comes together.
Q. Golf is such a game of confidence, coming back to a tournament as defending champ make you feel good going into this week?
MICHELLE WIE: It definitely it feels good coming here and seeing my picture with the trophy. It brings back a lot of memories and hopefully I can do it again. It's a good feeling coming into a tournament and saying you got the trophy, and it does make you want a lot more than that.
Q. Does winning a national open mean a little more than winning any other tournament on Tour?
MICHELLE WIE: I don't really have any preference. I'll take anything.
Q. Is there one area in your game that you would particularly like to improve if you had more time to spend on it, say I'd like to focus more on this, that, whether it's putting or driving or short iron or long iron? Is there one particular aspect that you would like to focus more on?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I find that when I try to focus more on one thing the other part of the game kind of goes. So you don't want to spend all your time on one thing because other things will fall apart.
I really just work on everything. There's really not just one thing in particular that I work on. I think I work consistently very hard on putting. You know, I spend a lot of hours away, I mean on the putting green every week. Rosie's been calling the putting green my home away from home these days, which is true, but at the same time, you know, I really work hard at it.
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Lorie Kane into the interview room. Thank you for joining us today. First off, back home in Canada, how nice is it for you to come back to this event?
LORIE KANE: Oh, well, I don't think there's real good words to describe what it's like to be able to come home and showcase another part of our great country to the best women golfers in the world. CN does a great job of hosting us; and I got to play the course today, so it's going to be a good test.
THE MODERATOR: I know it's been a long time since a Canadian has won this event.
LORIE KANE: Uh-huh. 1973 to be exact.
THE MODERATOR: You know that well. But when look at the state of the game in Canada and a lot of these young Canadian golfers that are coming out, too, kind of what are your thoughts on that?
LORIE KANE: Well, I played a practice round today with two of our Team Canada players, Jessica Wallae and Nicole Vandermade. Nicole is -- well first of all, Jessica qualified here by winning one of the CN Tour events which I think is a great feat as an amateur. And Nicole I've been watching for the last couple of years, and I think that she's somebody definitely on my radar that has length and strength, and she basically hits it like a guy and is going to I think progress very quickly. I think her plan is to finish school this year, but I think the state of our game in Canada is very good.
THE MODERATOR: And just some initial thoughts on the golf course from having played it.
LORIE KANE: Well, quite a bit different from when I was here for the media day, maybe that was the end of May, first of June. You guys were here. I can't remember.
Yeah, it's in great shape, and I know you've had a bunch of rain maybe last night or the night before. So I'm looking for it to dry out, get firm, fast. I originally had said to some girls that it wasn't a bomber's paradise, and if it stays soft, it's going to become a bomber's paradise. But I think into the greens is where golf tournaments are won or lost, and I think you're going to have to position yourself that if you get above the hole on the front nine you can be in trouble, and the same applies really to the back, but I think they're a little more subtle on the back.
But no, I think it's going to be a great test of golf and it should be. It's our national open, and we just need to get a Canadian past the finish line.
Q. In your role now as a Canadian winner on the Tour playing with those two young girls today, what sort of questions do they ask you out there about getting in the winner's circle like you did four times and coming close on a number of other occasions?
LORIE KANE: We just talked kind of generally as to what their next -- the process that they're going to be going through. They're both seniors in university and getting ready to decide where they want to go.
We had another Canadian in the group today, Jessica's caddy, Brent Franklin, who by far is one of the best players I think I've ever watched hit a golf ball. And he's the assistant coach I think in Colorado where Jessica goes to school.
So you know, when you have somebody like that in the group, he brought -- we were talking, you know, how he had played as a professional and how you kind of take that next step in the game. And you know, frankly I'm here to encourage them because I was really lucky that I had a lot of help from a lot of different people; and they asked to play a practice round with me, which was quite flattering. Come Thursday we're competitors, but I'm going to give back as much as I have taken from the game for sure.
Q. I would like to know how does it feel knowing that such young players are looking up to you?
LORIE KANE: It's great. Someone's in the room here, Dawn Coe-Jones that once said to me, coming home and playing Canada is like having an extra club in your bag, so embrace it. Because for a while I didn't embrace it. I was very nervous to come home and play because the expectations not only for myself but for what other people want for us. Of course we want a Canadian to win. And I didn't handle that burden very well. Now I embrace it.
So Dawn gave me lots of hope, so I'm giving back to the younger players, and yes, I'll say it again, it was very flattering to get a call from Brent to say could you or would you be interested in playing a practice round with Jessica, and Nicole just happened to be on the tee today, and I said come play with us. We had fun.
Q. Do you feel that there's any more pressure being a Canadian and playing here?
LORIE KANE: There's pressure every week. And it's the pressure that you put on yourself. We're here for one reason and that's to be the best that we can be, and if a win comes with that, great. You know, I'd be lying if I told you that I wasn't thinking that I would very much like to win because that's why I'm here. To hoist the CN Canadian Women's trophy would be fantastic, and I think -- you know, it's Tuesday. I've got to ease my way into the week, ease my way into Thursday, Friday, Saturday and see what's in store for Sunday.
Q. Lorie, Michelle Wie was in here before. When she was 15 it looked like she was going to dominate golf and now she's 21 and she's doing okay but not dominating golf. Do you think that she will at some point in the next few years become what people thought she would be for the last decade?
LORIE KANE: How does one answer that question? I'm going to tell you Michelle's probably one of the most talented golfers I've ever seen. I had the opportunity to play in a practice round with her at Carnoustie. When Michelle decides that she really wants to be a winner in this game, I don't think there's going to be any stopping her.
I don't know that Michelle is quite there yet because it's a process. She is 21. She started playing competitive golf with us when she was 15. I remember playing in a tournament with her in Columbus, Ohio and she was hitting her 5-wood past my driver, and I thought, wow.
But it's not about hitting the ball. It's about scoring. It's about playing the game. It's about learning to play the game. And you know, if Tiger says he needs rest, well, then Michelle probably needs more competition. And the more she plays, the more confident she's going to become. And then she's going to get tired of being 10th, 15th, 20, whatever and she's going to win. And she'll win a lot.
Q. Lorie, I know you've been on the forefront as far as the status of this event over the years and it's lost the major label. Do you see the day coming back, is the fight continuing to get it back to where it belongs?
LORIE KANE: That's another good question, Randy. First and foremost, this is probably the best tournament on tour that we're involved with. The U.S. Open is the U.S. Open. But this national championship, what CN does for the players, bringing us the great facilities across the country, the purse size, everything has major status. Golf Canada's involvement makes it even -- it's our national championship.
Adding that major status to it, you know, I know how I feel about it. I have lobbied hard and it's really out of my control as to where it goes from there. I don't know what more we can do. And you know, as a member of the Tour, I'll be honest with you, I was a little bit hurt when the Evian was given major status and we weren't, because I felt that we had done everything that we needed to do over the last number of years. When du Maurier left, I don't believe that the tournament changed. Maybe a tiny bit, but it has been elevated.
So yeah, but the nuts and bolts of it are this. You've got the strongest field of the year on a great golf course with a big purse with a sponsor who loves women's golf, and more importantly a sponsor who is dedicated to leaving something behind, and that's the Miracle Match. And this year we have two hospitals that are going to benefit greatly from that. So is it a major? Sure it is.
Q. And just your thoughts on Canada getting a second LPGA Tour event starting next year. What does that say for the LPGA Tour and what does it say for women's golf in this country at the professional level?
LORIE KANE: I think it's very exciting. You know, we're in a situation in the U. S. where it's tough to find the corporate dollars to host us. You know, when Dawn and I were -- when I was first on tour, and Dawn, you can speak to this, too, we had 40 events to play in. And now, if I was a rookie looking at the schedule, I'd be thinking, wow, how many I going to get competition and competitive experience with the small schedule we have.
So when Waterloo was named to the schedule, it was like, great. You know, we're a big country. I think we can handle two LPGA tournaments. I think that area of Ontario is a hot bed for golf, and obviously Manulife is excited about having the event and being a part of it. So you know, I don't think it has any effect on this event. In fact, I think it elevates women's golf in this country.
THE MODERATOR: Any more questions for Lorie? Okay. Thanks.
LORIE KANE: Guys, I say this every time I come in here. We can't tell the story without your help, so thank you very much.
THE MODERATOR: All right. We'd like to welcome Alena Sharp into the interview room. Thank you for joining us today. First off, can you just give me some thoughts about being back in Canada and getting to play at home?
ALENA SHARP: It's always -- I love coming back and playing Canada. I feel like it's the biggest tournament of the year for me and for most Canadians, and it's nice to get to play in basically almost every province since I've turned pro now playing in the CN Canadian Women's Open, and I haven't played golf in Montreal before, but I've been in Quebec before. I played the amateur in 2003, I think it was in Blainville. So it's nice to be back in Quebec.
THE MODERATOR: I was talking to Lorie Kane when she was in here just about the state of women's golf in Canada and how many great young players are coming up from Canada. What are your thoughts on seeing the amount of talent that's been coming out of Canada?
ALENA SHARP: We have a lot of really top college players coming up and even junior golf. Golf Canada's done a great job of sponsoring, getting our girls competition and playing against the best players in the world, and they're becoming better players for it, and you're just seeing the results show, and we have more players on tour this year than we've had in the past, so that's a good indication of it.
THE MODERATOR: And just your season in general, kind of how would you describe how you've been doing this season and where your game's at coming into this week?
ALENA SHARP: I started out really well this year and had a little bump in the road by my results. But I've been working on my mental game to get back to where I need to be. And golf really is 90 percent mental, 10 percent physical. You can work on your swing and putting and chipping as much as you want, but if you're not confident, the scores won't show.
So that's what I've been working on the last month, really hard on that. And taking a little bit of a break from the practicing. I think I just overdid it for a little while. So just trying to stay fresh and relaxed, and this week's always a pressure week for the Canadian golfers. And just trying to keep it light. My parents are coming in tomorrow. And just having a good time.
Q. Lorie was talking about the influence some other Canadian golfers had on her like Dawn Coe-Jones. How about yourself when you were coming on tour? Who were influences for you?
ALENA SHARP: You know, when I was in college golf, AJ was kind of the person that I looked up to. She went to New Mexico state. I went to New Mexico State. But looking on the tour, Dawn Coe and Lorie were on tour when I was junior and an amateur and playing well and winning tournaments. So to follow in their footsteps and get that win, that's my goal is to win tournaments. So they did that, and that's what I would love to do.
Q. How do you like the course? You had the chance to practice on it today. Is it very challenging?
ALENA SHARP: Yeah. I played yesterday in the Pro-Am, and it was very wet. The last three holes are 400 yards, so they were kind of into the wind, at least two of them. So I felt like it was playing a little bit longer. Who knows what's going to happen until Thursday if we don't get any rain, it dries out a little bit.
There's some strategy off the tee, a lot of doglegs. You need to make sure you're on the right part of the fairway. Some holes a couple of them on the doglegs the trees block you. So definitely you need to place your tee shots, and then the greens are very large. So hitting the green isn't always going to be guaranteeing you a birdie. You want to get in the right quadrant on the green.
But I like the golf course. It's got a lot of different holes, and the greens are in good shape. Actually everything is in really good shape. The rough isn't as long as we had last week, but still challenging.
Q. What is A.J. Eathorne doing now? Is she caddying?
ALENA SHARP: Yeah. She's caddying for Brittany Lincicome. She was on the PGA, caddied and then game to the LPGA her first week and I think she won with Brittany at the Atlantic City tournament, ShopRite.
Q. A lot of Canadian golfers dream about winning the Canadian Open. Is it a dream of yours, something you've fantasized, pictured yourself doing?
ALENA SHARP: Definitely. I mean it would be -- obviously every year we come here everybody's like, okay, a Canadian hasn't won since the 70s. And they do it to the men, too. And every Canadian player would love to win a Canadian Open, just like most Americans want to win the U.S. Open. But obviously -- yeah, it's a big dream of mine. I would hope that I can get a shot at it before I retire. So I have a lot of years left in me, and hopefully this week I'll be in the running come Sunday onto that last green.