Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G
Pinnacle Country Club
September 10, 2011
Second-round notes and interviews
Yani Tseng -9, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Amy Yang -9, Rolex Rankings No. 24
Stacy Lewis -7, Rolex Rankings No. 11
Inbee Park -7, Rolex Rankings No. 14
Jin Young Pak -7, Rolex Rankings No. 323
Paula Creamer -6, Rolex Rankings No. 9
Azahara Munoz -5, Rolex Rankings No. 43
Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng will try to make it back-to-back titles at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G as she is tied for the lead with Amy Yang heading into Sunday’s final round. Tseng and Yang currently sit at 9-under-par and lead by a shot over Taylor Leon.
Tseng had six birdies and two bogeys in her round of 4-under 67 on Saturday at Pinnacle Country Club after shooting a bogey-free 66 on Friday that gave her a share of the first-round lead with Stacy Lewis. Tseng, who started her round on hole No. 10, recorded both of her bogeys in her first nine holes. In between the bogeys, Tseng nearly holed out for an ace on the 160-yard par-3 15th hole where she hit it to two feet and sank the birdie putt. After going even par through her first nine holes, she shot 32 on her back nine to finish in a tie atop the leaderboard.
“I worked on my tempo on the back nine,” Tseng said. “I got a little too fast with my tempo, but I just keep to myself, keep focused, and actually back nine I got really lucky, I had a good bounce on number 8, good bounce on number 4 or 5, and I have a great up‑and‑down on par 3, so those three shots were important to give me 4‑under today.”
Last year Tseng shot a 6-under 65 in the final round of this tournament to capture a come-from-behind victory over second-round leader Michelle Wie, who had entered the day leading by three strokes.
Tseng has won only four of the nine times she has led or co-led entering the final round on the LPGA Tour, but that number is deceptive. She went 0 for 4 to start her career in 2008 and 2009, but since then she’s 4 for 5, her only loss coming at this year’s Kraft Nabisco Championship.
“I think it's hard to not have pressure because, I mean, for sure I've got pressure tomorrow, defending champion and in the lead,” Tseng said. “The kind of thing's going to be a little pressure, but I just want to enjoy that pressure. I know tomorrow, first couple holes going to be nervous. If I were not nervous, that would be a little weird so I mean, I care. So I think tomorrow, first three holes, I just keep relaxed, try to stay as relaxed as I can and maybe sing a song in my mind and just look around and enjoy the crowd tomorrow.”
At least year’s LPGA Tour Championship, Yang went into the last day with a one-stroke lead over Maria Hjorth but fired a final-round 74 to finish runner-up. While yang came up one-stroke short last year, she is no stranger to the winner’s circle. As an amateur, Yang won the 2006 ANZ Ladies Masters on the Ladies European Tour (LET) to become the youngest winner ever on the LET at 16 years, 6 months, and 8 days.
For the second time of her short career, Yang will play in the last group of the final round after firing a seven-under par 64 on Saturday. Yang carded one eagle, six birdies and one bogey to fire the low round for this year’s tournament.
A repeat performance? Stacy Lewis trailed Yani Tseng by two strokes heading into the final round of this year’s Kraft Nabisco Championship but she fired a 3-under 69 on Sunday to become a Rolex First-Time Winner with a come-from-behind victory over Tseng. Lewis will now try to overcome the same deficit against Tseng in a tournament that she said she treats as “another major” since she spent many years living in the Fayetteville, Ark. area.
The University of Arkansas alum fired a 2-under 69 in Saturday’s second round to move to 7-under-par for the tournaments and trails the leaders by two shots heading into the final round. After shooting a 66 on Friday in front of a very supportive crowd at the Pinnacle Country Club, Lewis said that she wasn’t able to find the same consistency during Saturday’s round.
“I was kind of frustrated,” Lewis said. “I left a lot of putts out there. My speed was just a little off and my lines were a little off, but still it was a good enough round that it kept me in it for tomorrow.”
A Patriotic Day: Sunday will mark the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that took place in New York City and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 and the tragic events of that day will be on the minds of everyone during the final round of the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.
Some players, including Paula Creamer, will do something special to pay tribute on Sunday to all of the lives that were lost in the tragic attacks. Creamer, who wears an American flag on the lapel of her shirt during every round she plays, will don red, white and blue. She hasn’t forgotten the horrible events that took place 10 years ago when she was a freshman in high school and learned of the tragedy while in math class.
“I'm very patriotic,” Creamer said. “I have a military background and I thank God every day we're able to play golf. We have our servicemen over there fighting for us to be able to do our jobs and I've always tried to give back to them as much as I could.”
There will also be other tributes on Sunday as well. The traditional pin flags on all 18 greens will feature the American flag and representatives from all four military branches as well as fire and police personnel in full uniform will serve as pin flag bearers. At the conclusion of play on Sunday, a brief 9/11 program will be hosted by U.S. Rep. and military veteran Steve Womack on the 18th green.
In addition, all active and retired service personnel, along with their accompanying families, as well as all fire, police and emergency employees, will receive free admission throughout the tournament.
Of Note…Rookie Sara Brown fired a 6-under 65 in Saturday’s second round to move from a T53 into a T11 at 5-under-par. It’s the first time that Brown, who was a contestant on the Golf Channel’s “Big Break,” has made a cut on the LPGA Tour…Karrie Webb birdied the 18th hole to move to 2-over-par through two rounds of the tournament and make the cut by a stroke. Webb has not missed a cut so far this season and her last missed cut came at this event last year…2010 LPGA Tour Rookie of the Year Azahara Munoz shot a 66 in the second round to move into a T11. The round was the lowest of the season for Munoz and her lowest score in an LPGA event since the first round of the Bell Micro LPGA Classic in May 2010. A total of 80 players made the cut which fell at 2-over par 144.
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Rolex Rankings Number 1 and defending champion Yani Tseng into the interview. Thanks for joining us today. Congratulations, another great round, 4‑under par today. Take me through the round, and was there anything different that was working for you today than yesterday?
YANI TSENG: No. Actually, it was pretty similar. I worked on my tempo on the back nine. I got a little too fast with my tempo, but I just keep to myself, keep focused, and actually back nine I got really lucky, I had a good bounce on number 8, good bounce on number 4 or 5, and I have a great up‑and‑down on part 3, so those three shots it's very important to give me 4‑under today, so I was appreciated and very lucky and just keep doing what I'm doing and just play one shot at a time.
MODERATOR: Yesterday a little more consistent, no bogeys. Today you had two bogeys ‑‑
YANI TSENG: Yeah.
MODERATOR: ‑‑ and six birdies. When you have rounds that are like that where you're not making par, where you've got a few bogeys, how does that change your game? Do you feel a little more up and down, like you weren't quite as consistent?
YANI TSENG: No, not really. It's always good round without bogeys, but you know, a couple bogeys fine to make you have more birdies, so you know, if I have one bogey, I feel like I have to make another two birdies. So, you know, kind of make you push like push yourself to make birdies, too.
MODERATOR: Sitting at the top of the leaderboard, looks like Stacy Lewis is going to be finish up there, too, and it's possible that you two could be paired tomorrow for the final round, and we all know she's the hometown girl here. Will it be any different for you to play with a crowd that will be rooting so heavily for her?
YANI TSENG: Just wish me luck. I think it's going to be fun. I enjoy playing with her. I know maybe tomorrow people cheer for her, but I just try to focus on my own zone and just keep talking with caddie or with Stacy and try not think too much. And if I don't get clapped, that's okay, I just clap myself. I think I'm going to enjoy tomorrow because I play last year here, doesn't matter, and like I feel they cheer for everybody so it's really, really nice and appreciate it and they support every player, so I think I'm going to enjoy tomorrow.
Q. Can you just tell me what happened on the two bogeys?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, back nine, I had number 14, I hit a 3‑wood into the bunker first shot and I hit it out second shot. It was pretty good, but I had a 6‑iron for third shot par 5 and I didn't hit it good, I almost in the water and I got lucky to stay on the line. Then I chipped pretty good, but I missed a 12‑footer for bogey, or for par, sorry.
And number 15, I almost made a hole‑in‑one, really close. But number 16 I had a 3‑putt. I hit a good ‑‑ pushed tee shot and a second shot I hit it pretty good on the green, and I kind of lose a little focus on there and hit it too hard on my putting and didn't read much of the break, so I left myself 4‑footer and didn't make it. So that's only two bogey I have for today.
Q. What hole did you almost make a hole‑in‑one and how close was it?
YANI TSENG: It was like this close. I landed this much.
Q. So like two feet?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, like tapping in two feet, yeah.
Q. Do you like where your game's at? Obviously you have so much winning experience, but do you like where it's at heading into tomorrow where it's going to be another high pressure winning situation?
YANI TSENG: I try to not think winning the tournament, you know. I'm just trying to enjoy tomorrow and have fun and try to focus on every shot I can. Just always do myself and if I do myself, it doesn't matter the result. If my process is good, I'm happy with that.
Q. Are you going to wear red tomorrow? Wear like Arkansas colors tomorrow?
YANI TSENG: I already wear the Wal‑Mart color yesterday, the yellow.
Q. Maybe confuse some of Stacy's fans?
YANI TSENG: I have short hair. I always wear pink on Sunday, so tomorrow I'll be pink and white.
Q. You know, I actually talked to you earlier on the phone a couple months ago and you told me that going into the final round, sometimes you do get a little nervous but it's hard to kind of keep that from being ‑‑ you know, when you go into a final round like this, especially where you are the defending champion, how do you not put pressure on yourself to go into tomorrow's round and really want to play well?
YANI TSENG: I think it's hard to not ‑‑ to have not ‑‑ no pressure because, I mean, for sure I've got pressure tomorrow, defending champion and tied for the lead with Stacy. The kind of thing's going to be a little pressure, but I just want to enjoy that pressure. I know tomorrow, first couple holes going to be nervous. If we were not nervous, that would be a little weird so I mean, I care. So I think tomorrow, first three holes, I just keep relaxed, try to stay as relaxed as I can and maybe sing a song in my mind and just look around and enjoy the crowd tomorrow.
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Amy Yang into the interview room. Congratulations on your round today. You're now tied on the top of the leaderboard with Yani Tseng heading into the final round of the tournament. Can you just take me through your day and kind of what went well in your round?
AMY YANG: Everything was good today. You know, I was hitting the ball solid and hitting the putts solid. You know, from tee to green, I was playing good. I'm really happy about my game.
MODERATOR: And does your mentality change at all when you go into the final round tied for the lead, especially when you're playing with the number one ranked player in the world?
AMY YANG: Yeah, she's a great player and there is another ‑‑ you know, like lots of great player out here. You know, tomorrow I'm just going to fight to myself, you know, I'm just going to try to play my game and try my best.
MODERATOR: There were some great shots that you had out there today, but the one that you hit out of the bunker and holed, can you kind of take me through that shot.
AMY YANG: I hit a good tee shot and hit a good ‑‑ you know, it was a pretty good second shot in the bunker, it was on a good lie. I hit it a little firm, but it bounced it. It was kind of a lucky shot.
AMY YANG: Seven? Yeah, number seven.
MODERATOR: And just overall, I mean, were you aware coming down the stretch where you were on the leaderboard and knowing that you might be playing in the final group tomorrow.
AMY YANG: I try to not watch, you know, tried to not feel that.
Q. You're tied with Yani, number one. You haven't won on the LPGA Tour but you finished second last year at the Tour championship and the leaderboard is just a list of one major winner after another.Is that exciting for you, that challenge of eating the best players in the world to win your first title?
AMY YANG: Yeah, it would be great thing. Yeah, I got a little nervous like last Tour championship, but I'm going to try my best, you know, play my game.
Q. How will do you deal with nerves? You know, playing with Yani, final group, going for a title?
MODERATOR: How do you handle nerves?
AMY YANG: Oh, how do I handle ‑‑ you know, especially with her? I mean, she's a great player. Just, you know, all I'm trying to do is just play my game. When you start like aware of the leaderboard and who am I playing with, you know, it's not really helping. It would be more nervous.
MODERATOR: Some players have different rituals. Yani says sometimes says she thinks of a song or tries to smile a little more to not think so much about what's going on around her. Do you do anything differently?
AMY YANG: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I do that, too. I try to talk about other things other than golf with caddie, that helps a lot.
Q. Amy, have you played with Yani before?
AMY YANG: I think I have played with her.
AMY YANG: It's long time ago. I don't remember when it was.
Q. When you finished tied for second last year, were you in the final group, or will this be your first time actually playing in final group?
AMY YANG: Oh, yeah, that was ‑‑ I played last year.
Q. So how much do you think that experience maybe will help you tomorrow?
AMY YANG: It's going to help a lot because, you know, being ‑‑ feel the pressures before, so I don't know.
Q. A little more inconsistent?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, it was a little more up and down. Kind of frustrated. I left a lot of putts out there. My speed was just a little off and my lines were a little off, but still it was a good enough round that it kept me in it for tomorrow.
Q. Just, I guess, differences between what was working well yesterday and what wasn't today?
STACY LEWIS: It was really just the putts, I just didn't make the putts I needed to. I had the opportunities, especially there at the end. I was kind of disappointed with the finish, but I mean, 2‑back, it's not very much out here.
Q. Not being in the final group tomorrow, will that ‑‑ does that help ‑‑ does that change ‑‑ I know you said you kind of put pressure on yourself to do well here.
STACY LEWIS: Well, I don't think it's really going to change things. I think the crowd's still going to be pretty big for me I think it would have been even more crazy if I was, but it's not going to change things. I've still got to hit the shots and do everything else.
Q. You know that Yani asked what the fans were saying to you yesterday.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah.
Q. She thought they were staying woo woo, Stacy Lewis.
STACY LEWIS: Oh.
Q. And we said that was pig sooey. She said, What's pig sooey?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, they don't understand that in the U.S., or outside the U.S.
Q. You made two bogeys?
STACY LEWIS: Um‑hmm.
Q. What happened on the bogeys?
STACY LEWIS: Just missed the green and didn't get up and down.
Q. You had a great round today. What were you doing well?
INBEE PARK: Well, yesterday and today I was striking the ball very good, but yesterday my putting wasn't so good but today I putted really well. So everything was really good. I hit a lot of greens, a lot of fairways and holed a lot of putts.
Q. Did you kind of have a feeling yesterday, striking your ball so well, that if you could get your putter going, you could put together this type of round?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, because my putter's been really the bad part of my game this year and it just hasn't been going in for maybe two, three months. If I wait, if it's got to fall in at some point, so I think it happened today.
Q. Now you're up ‑‑ close to the top the leader board. Excited about going into the Sunday, about the state of your game right now?
INBEE PARK: Oh, yeah because I'm really confident with the way I play last two days and way the strike the ball, so if I putted really good tomorrow, I think I have a chance.
Q. Congratulations on the round.
JIN YOUNG PAK: Thank you.
Q. What was working well for you out there today?
JIN YOUNG PAK: Today, actually I didn't hit well. Actually I hit it better yesterday, but I played a lot of good up‑and‑down today and I made like (inaudible) bunker shots and just good day.
Q. This course, is there anything certain that you have to do well to score well?
JIN YOUNG PAK: Maybe iron, I guess. The greens kind of fast and a lot of undulation, so if someone have good iron shot, it would be easier.
Q. To have a round like you did today, how much does it help you going into tomorrow?
JIN YOUNG PAK: Oh, actually today, you know, I told you that I hit a couple bad shots, so that helped me what I need to work on today. And like I got 3‑under, so that make me feel a little easier tomorrow, more comfortable.
Q. How was your putting today?
JIN YOUNG PAK: I putt well, I putt well. I missed a couple well, but still I like it.
MODERATOR: Another nice round today. Compared to yesterday, anything different in your round?
PAULA CREAMER: Well, I mean, I had a good finish on 17, 18, two birdies there. You know, two very bad bogeys on 15, 16. You know, it happens unfortunately, I three‑putted 15 and I missed a short one on 16, kind of had a bit of a cameraman incident, like a photographer. But that was partly my fault, I should have regrouped another time, should have gotten over. That's not necessarily ‑‑ that's more of an experience type of thing just letting things go. You learn from that, it happens. But I'm proud of the way I finished, I'm proud of the way I played today. Three back, you know, that's not the end of the world, that's for sure.
Q. The American flag on the lapel of your shirt I know this is a tough weekend and everybody's thinking about September 11th ‑‑
PAULA CREAMER: Every day for seven years I've worn an American flag on my shirt. No matter what kind of shirt, it's always on there. I'm very patriotic. I definitely have a military background, you know. I thank God every day we're able to play golf. We have our servicemen over there fighting for us to be able to do our jobs and I've always tried to give, you know, back to them as much as I could.
Q. But does this weekend, I mean, do you guys think about it a little bit more?
PAULA CREAMER: Oh, of course. I mean, my goodness, 10 years, it's incredible. I was a freshman in high school in math class when everything happened and it's amazing what's happened with the world and whatnot. Here we are, 10 years later. But it's going to be a very sad day tomorrow and hopefully everybody's out there showing their patriotism.
Q. Paula, when you finished with as much momentum as you did today, how much does that carry into tomorrow's final round?
PAULA CREAMER: I feel good, I feel really good about where my golf is. Those two mistakes, they weren't necessarily golf mistakes; it was just more of kind of me getting in the way which is a positive thing. Like I said, I'm making a lot of birdies. I feel good. The birdie on the last hole will make dinner taste a little bit sweeter. The one on 17 in front of everybody, it's always fun.
Q. You talked about the incident. Can you describe what happened?
PAULA CREAMER: Oh, it was just when I was putting, he started clicking so it just threw me out of my routine type of thing.
PAULA CREAMER: It happens, it always does. It's not his fault, he's trying to do his job, I'm trying to do mine, but just the timing of it all was unfortunate. And I should have just really tried to get over it. I mean, it was about a three‑footer.
Q. For par?
PAULA CREAMER: Yeah.
Q. This was a media guy camera or like a fan with a camera?
PAULA CREAMER: No, no, like a photographer, yeah.
Q. What was the best part about your game today? Was it just staying safe the whole way?
PAULA CREAMER: Yeah, I was just grinding away, giving myself as many chances as I can, staying positive. I've been really working on my attitude out on the golf course and the last several tournaments have been great and I'm just trying to keep on going with that, doing some swing changes and trying to do it out there and it seems the last two days it's been a lot better.
Q. You've obviously had a lot of success this season. When you go into a final round to be in the position you are, how much does that help going into tomorrow and knowing you're right there?
PAULA CREAMER: I play to win, that's for sure. I'm out here trying to win every week that I can and I've been ‑‑ put myself in contention sometimes this year. It hasn't been the stellar year that I wanted it to be, but I've been overcoming a lot of things. I feel good, I feel really good about where I am. Yani's a great player, three back from Yani, I'm going to have to play some good golf, but I believe I can do it.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about just the leaderboard? I mean, we were looking at the leaderboard, it's just big name after big name. It's like great for the tournament and great for the Tour ‑‑ Definitely the best in this tournament by far. Major winner after major winner.
PAULA CREAMER: Yeah, it's great. Right now, women's golf, the top players are all playing really well and that's what you want; you want to be against the best players every week and you want the best players, you know, playing well to go up against. It's going to be a good Sunday. All the pin placements, there's going to be some tough ones, but I just have to play my game and see what happens, I can't control anybody else.
Q. I do want to ask one question ‑‑ (inaudible regarding socks.) Is that just another one of your ‑‑
PAULA CREAMER: Just wanted to change it up a little bit. Tomorrow with 9/11 I'm going to wear red, white and blue so I can't wear my pink on Sunday, so I decided to go all out with my pink today. Obviously it's a good reason, but I just wanted to change it up, you know? We're always wearing boring little socks, why can't we just spice it up a bit?
Q. Does it make you enjoy golf more knowing that you're livening it up with color, that most other people don't have that colorful ‑‑
PAULA CREAMER: Well, I love fashion, I like being bold, I like being a girl, I like having fun out there. This just shows a side of my personality. I mean, I'm out there, I'm very competitive, I'm very in the moment with everything, but outside the golf course I'm just a normal 25‑year old girl who likes to have fun and, you know, I show it with the way I dress and I showed that today
Q. Tell me a little bit about what went well for you out there and to be able to shoot like that.
AZAHARA MUNOZ: I just played really well. You know, I think I missed one fairway and one green by that much, and it was still a good shot. I was just hitting it really close. My six birdies were inside eight feet, I would say, and I still miss a couple. But, you know, I'm really happy with my round and I haven't shoot this low in a long time so I'm happy to be back.
Q. I was going to say, just this year I know it's been kind of up and down for you.
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Yeah.
Q. What's been the key for you lately and how are you feeling about your game?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Well, I started making swing changes in April, which I know I should have made it in December but I did it in April so it took me a long time just to figure out my long game. And my putting wasn't working either, so finally I'm hitting the ball better and farther, so that's why lately I've been playing better. But Solheim was a little pressure, so I'm happy that's over and I can focus on my game.
Q. You were selected as a captain's pick for the European Team so you have to like that. Do you feel good about your game heading in, knowing that that's coming up?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Yeah, yeah, I've been hitting the ball pretty good lately. Like in Canada I played really well, but the last two rounds at the end I played ‑‑ the last five holes I shot like 3‑over. But, you know, I'm playing better so hopefully I peak at Solheim and we get a win.