CN Canadian Women’s Open
Hillsdale Golf & Country Club
August 27, 2011
Third-round notes and interviews
Ai Miyazato -12, Rolex Rankings No. 7
Michelle Wie -12, Rolex Rankings No. 14
Tiffany Joh -12, Rolex Rankings No. 149
Angela Stanford -11, Rolex Rankings No. 20
Maude-Aimee LeBlanc -8
Defending champion Michelle Wie and Rolex Rankings No. 7 Ai Miyazato are tied with LPGA rookie Tiffany Joh at 12-under-par 204 after three rounds of play at the CN Canadian Women’s Open. The trio leads U.S. Solheim Cup teammates Angela Stanford and Brittany Lincicome by one shot with 18 holes remaining at Hillsdale Golf & Country Club.
Wie tallied a 4-under-par 68 on Saturday to grab a share of the lead entering Sunday’s final round in Montreal. The Hawaiian needed 29 putts – two more than each of her previous two rounds – to get around Hillsdale with five birdies and a lone bogey. Wie is looking for a third LPGA Tour victory and a second in Canada following her triumph at last year’s CN Canadian Women’s Open in Winnipeg. She has four top-10 finishes this season, but has no better than a tie for 28th in her last five events leading up to this week.
“I just felt like for a while I was playing a lot better than my score showed,” Wie said. “I was talking to Rosie [Jones, U.S. Solheim Cup Team Captain.] I just needed everything just to kind of fall into place. I'm kind of working on one thing a little too much and then something else goes, so I'm just trying to get everything together.”
Miyazato turned in her highest round of the week with a 1-under-par 71 on Saturday after carding 65 and 68 to enter the weekend in a tie for first with Stanford at 11-under-par. The seven-time Tour winner is seeking her second victory of the 2011 season following her win at the Evian Masters in France last month.
“I'm playing really good,” Miyazato said. “I had so many birdie opportunities out there today. Back nine I just couldn't hit some putts. For some reason it just didn't go in. So I tried to hang in there and tried to enjoy being in the last group playing in the last group. So, unfortunately, just 1 under par today, but I'm very satisfied.”
Joh, known for her affable nature, raced to a career-low 7-under-par 65 with seven birdies in her first 11 holes, jumping from a tie for 20th into a tie for the lead today. The LPGA Tour rookie is also a member of the LPGA Futures Tour where she has two career victories including last month’s South Shore Championship in Indiana.
Looking for back-to-back titles: A year ago, Michelle Wie capped off a wire-to-wire victory at the CN Canadian Women’s Open in Winnipeg by shooting a final-round 70 to capture her second LPGA Tour win. On Sunday, she’ll have a chance to defend her title when she tees off in the final group after shooting a 4-under 68 in Saturday’s third round.
One key difference for Wie this week that’s helped put her back into contention has been her putting. She needed just 27 putts in each of her first two rounds and had 29 on Saturday. It’s been a little over a month since Wie switched to a Nike-style long-putter and she said that she’s starting to get the feel for her new putter.
“I've been working really hard at my putting,” Wie said. “Finally I kind of figured out a grip that I like, and I've been going at it for a couple of weeks now. I'm getting the hang of it, just trying to make some putts out there. That's the most important thing.”
Keeping her cool: Tiffany Joh got off to a hot start during her third round on Saturday, tallying birdies on three of her first four holes and shooting a 31 on the front nine. But it wasn’t the hot start that Joh was most proud of. Instead, she was focused ability to maintain steady over her final few holes en route to finishing with the low round of the day, a 7-under 65.
“It was really surreal,” Joh said of the start of her round. “It was really unexpected, so every time I'd make a putt, I'd turn around and look at my caddie and be like, wow, that went in. And pretty soon I think around the 11th or 12th hole I realized what I was doing, and I kind of tightened up a little bit and hit a couple wayward shots. I hit one just delicious chili dip on the par 5 12th.
“But I recovered from all of those and got up and down. So I think I was more impressed with how I played with the last seven holes than the first 11 just because I was able to recover from some really, really, ugly, unattractive shots.”
Joh, who is a rookie on the LPGA Tour this season, will find herself in unfamiliar territory when she tees off in the final group on Sunday. In seven previous LPGA Tour starts this season, Joh’s best finish was a T25 at the Wegmans LPGA Championship in June.
“It's really exciting for me just because coming into this year I had conditional status, and I didn't even know how many LPGA events I was going to play,” Joh said. “Just having the chance to contend at one, that is what dreams are made of…I'm going into tomorrow with really no expectations because I've never been in this position anywhere. Whoever I'm paired with I'm sure I'm going to learn loads from them. I'm just excited.”
The Irene effect: The starting times for Sunday’s final round of the 2011 CN Canadian Women’s Open have been changed due to the potential weather conditions expected in the Montreal area late on Sunday afternoon.
With Hurricane Irene moving up the East Coast of the United States, remnants of the storm are expected to arrive in Quebec late Sunday. So in order to try to get the entire final round completed, players will tee off starting at 7:00 a.m. ET on Sunday. They will be paired in threesomes off the 1st and 10th tees with the leaders teeing off at 9:00 a.m. ET. Final-round play is expected to conclude at 2:00 p.m. ET.
Television schedules will not change for the final round of the CN Canadian Women’s Open. All play will be shown at the regularly scheduled time on tape delay.
Low Canadian: Quebec native Maude-Aimee LeBlanc holds the title of the top Canadian in the field heading into Sunday’s final round. LeBlanc fired a 5-under 67 in the third round to move to 8-under-par for the tournament.
“Coming to this tournament I liked the way I played and the way I've been hitting the ball lately,” LeBlanc said. “So I felt like I had as good of a chance as anyone. But I mean, I'm really happy with the way I played and everything. It's good.”
AI MIYAZATO, Rolex Rankings No. 7
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome one of our current leaders, Ai Miyazato into the interview room. Congratulations on your round today. Heading into the final round with another lead, take me through your round today and what your thoughts are about tomorrow.
AI MIYAZATO: I'm playing really good. Out there today I had so many birdie opportunities. I had so many birdie opportunities out there. Back nine I just couldn't hit some putts. For some reason it just didn't go in. So I tried to hang in there and tried to enjoy in the last group playing in the last group. So, unfortunately, just 1 under par today, but I'm very satisfied.
Q. Not every day you can have those really low rounds. But does it help you going through a round like this, maybe heading into the final round still in the lead but kind of got that tough one out of the way?
AI MIYAZATO: Yeah, you know, I think I'm still, you know of course I'm still at the good position. I think I was lucky because I'm still tied for the lead. I know that all the players are playing really well today, and everyone's getting pretty much close. But tomorrow I heard it's going to be bad weather, so I don't know what's going to happen tomorrow.
Q. What is the biggest key for you to do what you want to do tomorrow?
AI MIYAZATO: Well, depends on the weather, but definitely be patient. But you can still be aggressive tomorrow as well. Because, if it rains, the greens are going to be softer than today, so you can still make a chance for so many birdies. So if I can keep good balance with that, I'll have a chance tomorrow.
Q. They say tomorrow if they're not able to complete the round, there will be a playoff between yourself, Joh and Wie. I wonder what your feeling about that would be because it will probably be in the rain?
AI MIYAZATO: Either way, we need to finish the tournament, so I'll just play my style of golf no matter what happens.
Q. You're at the top right now. You're leading.
AI MIYAZATO: Uh huh.
Q. You're tied, right?
AI MIYAZATO: Yes.
Q. What are you going to do tomorrow that is special to try to distance yourself in your mind? What will be your golf game tomorrow to distance yourself from the rest of the group?
AI MIYAZATO: Distance. I think, you know, just trying to be myself. You know, I'm playing really good this week, so just trying to play like really simple. You know, trying to hit the fairways and trying to hit the greens and trying to make some putts, nothing different than the other days, I think. Nothing special in particular. If I could just be myself, then I think my chances of winning will come.
Q. It's also expected to be windy tomorrow. How is your game in the wind? You have good tempo and good ball striking that usually helps in the wind. How's your wind game?
AI MIYAZATO: I grew up in an area where it was windy, so I actually like playing in the windy situations. But if it rains, it will definitely be difficult. But because I'm used to those situations, I think there will be no problem keeping my tempo.
MICHELLE WIE, Rolex Rankings No. 14
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Michelle Wie into the interview room. Congratulations on your 4 under round today. Tied now at the top of the leaderboard. Take me through your thoughts as defending champion here, what it feels like to be heading into Sunday right there again?
MICHELLE WIE: It feels good. It always feels good to be in contention. As long as it gives me an opportunity that I can do it tomorrow, I'm very glad that I'm in this position. Tomorrow, I think with the weather, I've just got to be patient and try to get it done.
Q. What has been the biggest difference for you this week with your game to be able to string these three rounds together?
MICHELLE WIE: You know, I just felt like for a while I was playing a lot better than my score showed. I was talking to Rosie. I just needed everything just to kind of fall into place. I'm kind of working on one thing a little too much and then something else goes, so I'm just trying to get everything together.
Q. Your putter seems to be working really well this week. How comfortable are you with your putting right now? When you get that confidence, do you just kind of get on a roll with it?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I've been working really hard at my putting. Finally I kind of figured out a grip that I like, and I've been going at it for a couple of weeks now. I'm getting the hang of it, just trying to make some putts out there. That's the most important thing.
Q. Like you said with the weather tomorrow they've moved the tee times up to try to make sure you can get the final round in. Does anything change when of you have to tee off much earlier? I know that everyone else is having to do the same thing too.
MICHELLE WIE: Not really. It's a pretty quick turn around from today, but I kind of like it. It gives me less time to think about things. I kind of sleep, wake up and get out there. So it's a good thing, I think for me.
Q. Today it seemed that the leaders the ones who were still out on the course really didn't go low, you seemed to be the only one. How is the golf course playing differently today, and what do you think your game did to shoot the low score?
MICHELLE WIE: Well, I think the course is drying out a little bit until tomorrow. But it definitely is playing a little bit harder and a little bit faster. I don't know. I guess just kind of got like in a couple of holes for me, I guess, I don't know.
Q. You and Paula have great fans. When you play together can you feel the excitement more than normal when the two of you play together?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, for sure. Paula has a really great if following, a lot of good fans. It's nice to see. I think it was great to play with her to today because everyone got kind of riled up and kind of excited. It's nice to play in front of a crowd that's excited to see us play. It makes the game a lot more fun, for sure.
Q. Your putter has been great all week, and today, near the end, there were a couple that were pretty darn close. Tomorrow do you feel if those that almost went in finally go in, that could be the difference tomorrow?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, for sure. Like yesterday and today I felt like a lot of putts during the end kind of just felt like they were going to go in but didn't. So you never know. It's kind of a fine line between making it and not making them. So hopefully tomorrow I can go out there and everything will kind of just drop in.
Q. You've been playing so well, are you a little concerned that the weather could play a role in winning the tournament tomorrow?
MICHELLE WIE: It's something that everyone's going to play under. I'm kind of expecting the worst as of right now. But you know, it's whatever happens, you never know. Whether the conditions are good or bad, you still have to play well and there are still players to beat and there are still things that you have to do no matter what. So I don't think it really makes that much of a difference.
Obviously, it could make things a little more challenging tomorrow, but like I said, it's the same game, everyone's under the same conditions, and we'll see.
TIFFANY JOH, Rolex Rankings No. 149
Q. You shot a 7 under, 65 today, got off to a hot start with a 31 on the front nine. Did you feel right away that you had something special going today?
TIFANNY JOH: I mean, it was kind of weird because I didn't quite know what was going on. So I'd stick one to two feet and I'd be like thank God it's not a six footer because I don't know if I'd make that. Yeah, it was really surreal. It was really unexpected, so every time I'd make a putt, I'd turn around and look at my caddie and be like, wow, that went in. And pretty soon I think around the 11th or 12th hole I realized what I was doing, and I kind of tightened up a little bit and hit a couple wayward shots. Hit one just delicious chili dip on the par 5.
But I recovered from all of those and got up and down. So I think I was more impressed with how I played with the last seven holes than the first 11 just because I was able to recover from some really, really, ugly, unattractive shots.
Q. Can you take me through that 12th hole and that pitch shot and what you thought after?
TIFANNY JOH: I kind of fanned my drive out to the right. Then I hit a rescue out, and I was trying to lay it back to like a full wedge shot. But I just absolutely nutted it. I ended up having like kind of an awkward, 35, 40 yard pitch shot. I'm kind of sitting there like I don't know. It's not like super sitting up. I'm not quite sure what to do. I was like just hit it. What is the worse that could happen?
It probably went 15 yards, and the first thing I checked was if the camera was on it. And I was like, oh, man, I think they saw that. And then I got up and was like, well, don't make more of a fool of yourself by throwing anything. So I just kind of walked up to the shot. It was a pretty simple chip from there, and hit it to like five feet and then made the putt. I was just like could anymore weird things happen today? But other than that, I mean, it was nothing too bad.
Q. When you see yourself now near the top of the leaderboard, what are the feelings going into Sunday being up in this position in an LPGA tournament heading into the final round?
TIFANNY JOH: I think it's really exciting for me just because coming into this year I had conditional status, and I didn't even know how many events I was going to play. Just having the chance to contend at one, that is what dreams are made of.
I'm just really excited. I'm going into tomorrow with really no expectations because I've never been in this position anywhere. Whoever I'm paired with I'm sure I'm going to learn loads from them. I'm just excited.
Q. Can you just talk about your rookie season and how it's been? I know it's one of those, like you said, that you have to go back and forth between here and the Futures Tour at times.
TIFANNY JOH: I remember at Q school when I think I three putted two out of the last three holes or something, and I ended up missing the top 20 by two shots. I remember being really upset at first. But in retrospect when I look back, it's probably one of the biggest blessings that happened to me this year just because I've been able it to play so many tournaments.
I think the same goes for Ryan O'Toole and Jennifer Johnson, a lot of the girls that have done the same thing. It's a great way. And the competition's great out there too, and just being able to jump back and forth and fill out your schedule. I think that's been so much of a learning experience for me that I don't think I would have been I wouldn’t have played as solid this week if I hadn't played Harrisburg and then played the British Open and then Harrisburg, and then played Connecticut before that. I think all of that has really helped me in preparation for this.
Q. I heard one of the fans mentioning how you're on Twitter and a lot of fans follow you. What’s it like to have that interaction with the fans who then come up and talk to you?
TIFANNY JOH: It's pretty cool but at the same time I'm realizing oh my gosh, how much have they read? Sometimes when I write that stuff I treat it like a text message and I'm text messaging someone, and I forget that there are 1,000 whatever followers that are going to see it. Not to mention apparently my mom has a Twitter. Didn't know that.
I mean, I'm glad I haven't put anything really inappropriate, but at the same time I'm thinking, wow, people must think I'm the biggest dork they've ever seen on Tour.
ANGELA STANFORD, Rolex Rankings No. 20
ANGELA STANFORD: Well, I played very sloppy today. That's the good news. I can go in tomorrow and hope to improve. I have something to work towards. I'm just excited to have a chance.
Q. What was the difference today when you say sloppy play? What was frustrating?
ANGELA STANFORD: I think I was too greedy all day trying to hit some shots I didn't have to, and when you don't execute them, it's sloppy. I just kind of did some things that I wouldn't normally do.
Q. Can you draw off of what you were doing well in the first two rounds to kind of take into Sunday?
ANGELA STANFORD: Yeah, and I kind of did once I figured out what it was. Then I kind of so, at least I know what to look for tomorrow.
Q. 5 under today, 8 under for the tournament. Obviously a big round in front of friends and family. Tell us about your round today.
MAUDE AIMEE LEBLANC: It was a lot less pressure than yesterday for sure. It helped a lot to stay calm out there. I struggled a little bit with my drive through the day but made good par saves. No bogeys, I can't really complain about my game, made a lot of long putts too, so just a great day overall.
Q. I don't know if you know yet, but tomorrow's round has been pushed up, the final round, because of the weather that's coming in. Outside possibility that tomorrow could be washed out, in which case they would declare a champion after today. How disappointing would it be for you personally not to be able to continue after going through the first three days of this tournament?
MAUDE AIMEE LEBLANC: That would definitely be a bummer, but I really doubt that it's going to happen. It would be disappointing for sure, because I think I'm in a good momentum right now. I really enjoy playing in front of all of the crowd from Quebec. So, yeah, I would be disappointed for sure.
Q. I saw you yesterday on 9, you missed a short putt and you got a little upset. I could see the putter going against the green a little bit, so it's obvious that you're pretty competitive and I think you're pretty hard on yourself as well. So does the fact that you have extra people following you and everything, the pressure isn't there, right? You probably put as much pressure on yourself as the crowd does, right?
MAUDE AIMEE LEBLANC: Yeah, for sure. I think everyone in this field is very competitive, so I definitely put a lot of pressure on myself. But the crowd really helps me to accept some shots that I would usually be a little more frustrated and they helped a lot, so it's good.
Q. What do you do tonight to make sure the nerves are nice and calm?
MAUDE AIMEE LEBLANC: Probably just hang out with the family and have a nice dinner and just chill.
Q. This is the stage obviously you've been hoping for. Did you think you'd be in position as top Canadian going into round four?
MAUDE AIMEE LEBLANC: Coming to this tournament I like the way I played and the way I've been hitting the ball lately. So I felt like I had as good of a chance as anyone. But I mean, it's I'm really happy with the way I played and everything. It's good.