LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship
Sky 72 Golf Club- Ocean Course
Incheon, South Korea
First-round Notes and Interviews
October 19, 2012
Rolex Rankings No. 9 Suzann Pettersen (@suzzannpettersen) shot a tournament record 9-under 63 to take a one-shot lead after 18 holes of play at the LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship (@hanabankgolf). Pettersen carded 9 birdies in her bogey-free round and sits one shot in front of Karin Sjodin (@karin_sjodin). A group of five players including Rolex Rankings No. 7 Ai Miyazato, 2011 U.S. Women’s Open champion So Yeon Ryu, Sybase Match Play champion Azahara Munoz (@AzaharaGolf), and KLPGA members Hyun-Hee Moon and Ha-Neul Kim head into Saturday’s second round two shots off the lead at 6-under par.
Low-score setter: For the second time in two weeks, Suzann Pettersen set an 18-hole tournament record. Last week at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, she recorded a 7-under 64 in the second round, the lowest score at the event at that point. She opened her week in Korea in more record-setting fashion after posting a 9-under 63, the best 18-hole score in the event’s 11-year history.
Pettersen birdied six out of her first eight holes starting on No. 10 and said grasp of the greens let her convert on birdie opportunities.
"Got off to a good start, had the feel of the greens this morning, worked really hard to kind of feel the speed yesterday and made some great putts and obviously some great shots," said Pettersen. "Overall very solid round, 18 greens, 27 putts equals 9‑under par."
After faltering with some inconsistencies last week, Pettersen hoped to put three solid days together this week and knows her first round started her off on the right foot.
"I feel like I have some low rounds in me now," said Pettersen. "I was 7‑under last week, 9‑under this week. It's just nice, and some of your feel kind of equals the score you put on the scorecard. It feels like this year hasn't been a great year, but I feel like I've been playing well even though my scores haven't shown as good as I wanted to."
The eight-time winner and major champion is still looking for her first victory in 2012 and said that the state of her game is in good shape.
"You can't stress that in this game," said Pettersen. "You will go through ups and downs, and I wouldn't say I've been on a down, either, because I've been healthy, I've been feeling well and able to put in all the time and effort I feel is needed for my game. Maybe this can be a great turnaround."
"I was hitting the ball really solid but maybe not very straight at all times," said Sjodin. "The birdies I made were long putts. I hit it close three times and missed all three. It seems to be a good idea to hit it far away and make long putts."
Sjodin, who is coming off a T35 last week in Malaysia, said that good putting has been a constant, but her irons were what needed to change this week.
"I think the last week I actually hit my irons horrible all week, but my putting was amazing the first three and a half days, so that saved me until the back nine on Sunday," said Sjodin. "So I worked quite a bit on my iron play on the range the first few days this week, and it seemed to be working today."
Sjodin carded four birdies on both the front and back nine and finished her round bogey-free. The seventh-year pro is still looking to break into the winner’s circle for the first time in her career but has the confidence to know she is capable of finishing at t the top of the leaderboard.
Sjodin shared the third-round lead at the Kraft Nabisco Championship this year and played with Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng in the final round. Asked whether she plays that week through her mind for a confidence booster, she said maybe not the specific turn of events that week, but in the back of her mind, she knows how good she can play.
"I don't know if I actually played it in my head, but I think every day waking up, I know that I can play with the best," said Sjodin. "The way I handled myself, I think, that Sunday, I wasn't nervous, I just enjoyed it and tried my best and stayed calm the whole day."
Sjodin would go on to shoot 3-over 74 on Sunday in Rancho Mirage and tied for fourth. Her finish stands as her best performance at a major championship and her career-best finish.
"I think somewhere in the back of my mind I'm replaying it but not so I'm aware of it. But at least it gives me confidence, without a doubt."
Remarkable rookie: Rolex Rankings No. 10 Seo Yeon Ryu knew it would be and exciting week playing in front of her home fans in South Korea for the first time in her professional career. But she didn’t expect how nervous she would get before her round even started.
"Today when I was just arriving at the practice putting green, my leg was shaking, like I was nervous because this is the only LPGA tournament in Korea," said Ryu. "So I'm in front of the Korean fans. Maybe that was really ‑‑ how can I say? It was really tough for me. So when I started the first hole, I was pretty worried about today's round because I felt like my mind was so busy, I couldn't concentrate on my ball."
But Ryu shook off the nerves after she tapped in for birdie on the par 4 second and continued her solid play throughout the first round. She would go on to card seven more birdies and one bogey coming by a one-stroke penalty for readdressing her ball on the fourth hole. Ryu admitted to some drained feelings last week in Malaysia from the rain delays and said some extra help from her coach made a dramatic difference.
"I think today my round was pretty great," said Ryu. "Actually the last round in Malaysia I was so tired, a lot of rain delays and things like that. My swing was so bad. My coach was there so he was helping me a lot, so now my swing feels pretty great. So today I was hitting a couple of great shots so I could make a lot of birdies."
Ryu currently ranks No. 1 in the Rolex Rookie of the Year points and has had a standout first season on Tour. She has 12 top-10 finishes including her first win as a member at the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic Presented by Kroger, Owens Corning and O-1. She won the U.S. Women’s Open Championship last year in a three-hole playoff with Hee Kyung Seo as a member of the KLPGA. Ryu said that the win has taken the expectations among South Korean fans to another level.
"Especially last year I won the U.S. Women's Open, so the Korean fans' expectations, really huge, really high level," said Ryu. "Sometimes it makes me crazy, but I think I'm a really, really happy girl and I'm a lucky girl because I have a lot of Korean fans."
Honoring Doug: LPGA players, caddies and staff all donned stickers with the name of veteran rules official Doug Brecht who passed away last week after a three-month battle with West Nile Virus. After receiving the news on Saturday in Malaysia, the Tour finished the week with heavy hearts and tried to move forward in honoring a man who influenced so many and touched the lives of everyone he met.
Ten-year Tour member Suzann Pettersen said she was lucky enough to get to know Brecht off the course throughout her career. He was always serious about his job and had a no-nonsense approach to defending the integrity of the game. Pettersen said she took some warming up to find out how passionate he was about the Tour and its players
"I used to call him Grumpy, too," said Pettersen. "I thought he was the grumpiest guy out here. And we had our moments. But the last couple years I got to know him in a different way, and he was actually my favorite rules official. We had our moments out there when we were fighting and he gave me a bad break.
"But he was such a great guy, and I think he would love for us to celebrate him for who he was and his life instead of sitting down and crying," said Pettersen. "It was nice to go out today and play a good round of golf because that’s what he loved. I thought yesterday was a very nice hour with all of us together. It's nice to get together when stuff like that happens, and I think it's a good way for us to kind of give him the respect that he's deserved."
Third-year pro Azahara Munoz spent her three-hour rookie rules seminar with Brecht in 2010 and pointed out the Tour-wide admiration the players had for him.
"I think we all kind of want to play for him because it's easy to say when someone passed away, oh, he's a great person, but he was freaking amazing, said Munoz. "All of us loved him. I don't know one person that doesn't. It was really sad and I guess really unexpected, but I hope he's in a better place now, so we just want to play for him.
Quotable: "I'm very happy with my new caddie. I feel like I've actually picked up the speed of my pace of play. I make decisions quicker. Just really trying to go with the flow." -Suzann Pettersen on playing with her new caddie as of last week in Malaysia.
Of Note…Defending champion and Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng sits four shots off the lead and carded a first-round 5-under 67…two-time champion Na Yeon Choi heads into the second round T24 after shooting a 2-under 70…
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Rolex Rankings No. 9 Suzann Pettersen who just shot a 9‑under 63. Nice round.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Thanks.
THE MODERATOR: Birdied six out of your first eight holes on the back nine, started on the 10th. Run us through that. Had to be the exact way you wanted to start off your day, start off the tournament.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: You know, it was nice and quiet there on the back. Starting off with 10 in Korea, we were kind of laughing about that. Got off to a good start, had the feel of the greens this morning, worked really hard to kind of feel the speed yesterday and made some great putts and obviously some great shots. Overall very solid round, 18 greens, 27 putts equals 9‑under par.
THE MODERATOR: You set a tournament record last week in the second round. You come in this week, you felt good but just wanted to be more consistent. Came in, pretty much torched the course, set another tournament record. Do you think things are finally clicking?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah, absolutely. Like I said early in the week, I feel like I have some low rounds in me now. I was 7‑under last week, 9‑under this week. It's just nice, and some of your feel kind of equals the score you put on the scorecard. It feels like this year hasn't been a great year, but I feel like I've been playing well even though my scores haven't shown as good as I wanted to, but you can't stress that in this game. You will go through ups and downs, and I wouldn't say I've been on a down, either, because I've been healthy, I've been feeling well and able to put in all the time and effort I feel is needed for my game. Maybe this can be a great turnaround.
THE MODERATOR: You mentioned you wanted to stay aggressive. That's when you play your best. Are there any holes out there on this course particularly that really allow you to play that way, play aggressive?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I mean, the fairways are fairly wide this week compared to last week. So first of all you can you can step up with driver and feel quite comfortable. There's a few carrots out there that ‑‑ like I said, I feel like I'm hitting my tee balls pretty good so I feel like I can step on the pedal on a few, like on 5. In the past I've been more conservative. Now I feel better so now I kind of take the bunkers on and take on the corner and I can get to the par‑5 in two. Just really trying to read what's out there.
Some pins are hard pins, other pins you attack. Sometimes you're in between clubs, then you just kind of take what you get.
I'm very happy with my new caddie. I feel like I've actually picked up the speed of my pace of play. I make decisions quicker. Just really trying to go with the flow.
THE MODERATOR: You only have two rounds to go. You're playing in a three‑day event obviously. Do you really approach that any differently now that you have the lead with only two days left?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: No, you don't really look at the tournament different. You go into the weekend like it was a regular tournament. Obviously being three rounds, you can really choose ‑‑ you would love to get off to a hot start, and I guess I can't complain with today's round.
Q. It usually takes four and a half hours to finish a round in the U.S. and today it was over five hours. Did you think in Korea it would play slower than in the U.S.?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I thought today was just flying by compared to the pro‑am that took six and a half, so five today felt like a shortcut.
Sometimes it's faster play, other times it's actually a little bit longer. We're quite used to this. We don't really stress out too much. There's not much you can do. You can't really play through the group ahead of you.
Q. You're look to be playing relaxed and your shot is pretty solid. Do you have any strategy for tomorrow and the following day?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I feel like I've been pretty relaxed the last two weeks. I have little stuff that I work on, so it might come across that I'm more relaxed. But what can I say, I'm definitely not relaxed inside. I might come across that I look more relaxed and laid back.
Q. Do you want to stay relaxed for the weekend?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yes, for sure, because you can't be on for five hours. You have to be able to switch on and off. Just in the process of making a few slight changes to my own approach, and it's nice to see some quick results.
Q. You set the course record today with 9‑under par. To get this score you must have played very well, but many people say there is luck to this course. Do you think you were lucky on some holes or was there any particular moment that you felt like, oh, this was very lucky?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, I think I played pretty solid. What they say, the more you practice, the luckier you get. Today was just a very solid round of golf, no lucky bounces either way. Every putt I hit was right in the middle of the hole. A lot of good shots.
Q. Could you tell us your best score ever?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I think I had a 61. 60, 61.
Q. Talk about everyone wearing stickers this week for Doug, obviously trying to move forward and grieve. Any specific memory you have of him that kind of personified him?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: We had our ‑‑ I used to call him Grumpy, too. I thought he was the grumpiest guy out here. But the last couple years I got to know him in a different way, and he was actually my favorite rules official. We had our moments out there when we were fighting and he gave me a bad break.
But he was such a great guy, and I think he would love for us to celebrate him for who he was and his life instead of sitting down and crying. It was nice to go out today and play a good round of golf. I thought yesterday was a very nice hour with all of us together. It's nice to get together when stuff like that happens, and I think it's a good way for us to kind of give him the respect that he's deserved.
Q. Just run through any birdie putts, anything that stuck out.
SO YEON RYU: Well, today when I was just arriving at the putting green, the practice putting green, my leg was shaking, like I was nervous because this is the only LPGA tournament in Korea, so I'm in front of the Korean fans. Maybe that was really ‑‑ how can I say? It was really tough for me.
So when I started the first hole, I was pretty worried about today's round because I felt like my mind was so busy, I couldn't concentrate on my ball.
And the second hole, I just made a tap‑in birdie and then I'm relieved. So I think the second birdie helped me a lot.
Unfortunately on the 4th, my ball moved, so I was penalized one stroke, so that's why I was bogey.
Q. What happened?
SO YEON RYU: I just addressed the ball, and I felt like my address felt really weird so I moved back, but still, ball rolled, so I got penalized. So that's why I made a bogey, but otherwise bogey‑free without that one. I was penalized.
I think today my round was pretty great. Actually the last round in Malaysia I was so tired, a lot of rain delays and things like that. My swing was so bad, but really ‑‑ well, my coach was there so he was helping me a lot, so now my swing feels pretty great. So today I was hitting a couple of great shots so I could make a lot of birdies.
Q. Are you familiar with this course? Have you played here before?
SO YEON RYU: Well, I was playing here three times as a KLPGA member, a lot of top 10 KLPGA members playing in this tournament, so the course feels really, really comfortable.
This year I am not KLPGA member, I am LPGA member, so I feel like so proud of myself.
Q. You knew coming into this there was going to be big crowds, you were going to be the top rookie?
SO YEON RYU: Yeah.
Q. You knew the expectations were going to be there?
SO YEON RYU: Yeah, so especially last year I won the U.S. Women's Open, so the Korean fans' expectations, really huge, really high level. Sometimes it makes me crazy, but I think I'm a really, really happy girl and I'm a lucky girl because I have a lot of Korean fans.
Q. And who was your pastor that was there last night? Obviously the Tour is a little heavy‑hearted with the loss of Doug. How cool was that for you to have some part of home come and try to help the Tour and the girls?
SO YEON RYU: I'm really happy that I could help them, that Doug's memory, the service, with my pastor. This is my first year, so I really don't know Doug, but everybody is really sad about Doug. I'm pretty sure he was a really great guy. Even when I was first at the rookie hour, I spent time with him. So I felt really, really sorry. Yesterday my pastor prayed for Doug. I felt so sad and I cried.
Hopefully I think he's a really peaceful place.
Q. What hours did you have to spend with him?
SO YEON RYU: Well, it's just seminar, but it's like six group of rookies, and then we just changed every table and we're setting up the rule thing, the media thing and everything. So Doug explained about the pace of play and how can you study the rules. He was really kind. It was in the Kia Classic.
Q. That was the first time you met him?
SO YEON RYU: Yes.
Q. And you knew from the get‑go he was to the point and loved his rules ‑‑
SO YEON RYU: Yeah.
Q. Anything going into tomorrow? Obviously it's a three‑day tournament. Do you like three days?
SO YEON RYU: Well, I really like four days, but now I like three days because we're in every country. Next week I will go to Taiwan. But anyway, the three rounds, four rounds, it doesn't matter, I'm just so happy to play in Korea.
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Yep.
Q. Run us through those. How were the putts?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: I hit everything super close. On 11 I hit it to six feet; on 12, seven feet; on 13, five feet; on 16, eight feet; and on 17, four feet.
Q. So approach shots were just pretty dead on?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Yeah, I played pretty good today.
Q. And then cooled off on the front nine?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Yeah, I was still hitting really good shots, but putts just weren't dropping.
Q. And all those were just medium‑range length?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Yeah, I miss ‑‑ I missed a short one on 14. I missed a four‑footer here, five‑footer, and then on ‑‑ no, I mean, they weren't that close. I guess on 4 it was like a 10‑footer, didn't make it; on 5, the same thing; on 7, probably the same thing, and it lipped out. It wasn't as close as on the back.
Q. Have you played here before?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Yeah, the last two years.
Q. Everyone says the conditions are a little bit better?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Yeah, I've never played the course this easy because it's normally cold and really windy.
Q. And the weather is pretty perfect?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Yeah.
Q. Just go through the next two rounds. Do you like three‑round tournaments?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: I love them.
Q. How important is that to get kind of a good start?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Yeah, it's really important because obviously you have one day less, so it's pretty much like we're already on ‑‑ this is Friday, but it's like being on a Saturday almost. Yeah, it's really important to get a good start because I think in a three‑day event you have to play pretty good the three days. Four‑day events normally you can get away with one so‑so, but three‑day events, no.
Q. You got your one win this year, a couple events left. How are you feeling going out the last stretch of the year?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Well, I feel that I'm playing, again, pretty well. I was pretty my irons really well today and my driver, too. Hopefully putts keep dropping and I can be up there.
Q. How has the Tour dealing with Doug's passing. I saw you at the service yesterday. How are everyone's spirits? Everyone has the stickers and everything like that. How is everyone moving on?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: I think we all kind of want to play for him because it's easy to say when someone passed away, oh, he's a great person, but he was freaking amazing. All of us loved him. I don't know one person that doesn't. It was really sad and I guess really unexpected, but I guess he's in a better place now, so we just want to play for him.
Q. Any memories or anything specific you can think of that personified Doug?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: I just remember him, he was my rules official in my rookie hours, so I was with him for like three hours. He was just ‑‑ he really liked me for some reason, but he was just always so nice to me.
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome co‑leader Karin Sjodin to the interview room. Great round, 8‑under, no bogeys. Run us through your day, your overall thoughts and feelings and just run through those birdies. Some were pretty long, so run through those.
KARIN SJODIN: I was hitting the ball really solid but maybe not very straight at all times. The birdies I made were long putts. I hit it close three times and missed all three. It seems to be a good idea to hit it far away and make long putts. My birdies were all long putts, I didn't make any short putts. It was from here to the table or from here to there. I had all long putts. I hit it short three times and missed all three.
THE MODERATOR: You had a tie for 35th last week in Malaysia. Was there anything specifically you really wanted to improve on coming into this week that you felt like you did in this first round.
KARIN SJODIN: I think the last week I actually hit my irons horrible all week, but my putting was amazing the first three and a half days, so that saved me until the back nine on Sunday. So I worked quite a bit on my iron play on the range the first few days this week, and it seemed to be working today. I hit my iron shots really bad last week, but I had really good tee shots and great putting the first 63 holes, so the back nine I couldn't save it anymore and played poorly. I worked a lot on my iron shots early this week to be ready for today.
THE MODERATOR: I was looking at your results, and you tied for 4th at Kraft, your career best. Have you been playing that week in your mind for any confidence throughout this season? Your last last top 10 was back in June at Manulife. But obviously you can play on the big stage. Have you been playing back that week, and playing in the lead on Sunday with Yani, how has it played a role in knowing you can play well enough to be in major contention?
KARIN SJODIN: I don't know if I actually played it in my head, but I think every day waking up, I know that I can play with the best. The way I handled myself, I think, that Sunday, I wasn't nervous, I just enjoyed it and tried my best and stayed calm the whole day. I think somewhere in the back of my mind I'm replaying it but not so I'm aware of it. But at least it gives me confidence, without a doubt.
THE MODERATOR: You're one of the players that really enjoys the travel aspect of the Tour. We talked about traveling to all of the different places in the world you guys get to go to, and you enjoy it. What do you enjoy most about Asia and particularly Korea, coming here this week?
KARIN SJODIN: I think Asia is just fascinating for someone who's from Sweden. Everything, the culture, how polite everyone is and the respect shown to everyone around you. Korea so far, I've just really enjoyed the bulgogi. I'm learning a few Korean phrases. It's just been a great experience. And also seeing all the great Korean players on Tour in their home environment and how they kind of blossom and how they love to be here. It's really neat to see.
Q. 8‑under par is the best score of the day. Could you talk about how the course was playing?
KARIN SJODIN: I'm afraid it's hard for me to remember any golf course, but I started off with two really good shots on the first hole and missed a three‑footer for birdie. And then like I said, I kept hitting fairways. I don't know if I missed any greens. I happened to make some long putts. I think the key on this course is hitting the right level on the greens; where it's kind of flat, you don't have big breaks when you're on the right side of the pin.
I was fortunate to be able to make some putts today.
Q. When you came here last year, how hard was the course playing today?
KARIN SJODIN: I have actually not been here before. It's my first time here. I played it the last year we were at the other course in 2007, but I have not been in Korea since then.
Q. You used to be ranked No. 1 in driving distance in the middle of 2000. What was your driving like for today's round?
KARIN SJODIN: I've actually started to hit it straighter. I used to hit it far and very crooked, so I think it's being a little more mature and being out here and realizing that fairways are more important than distance at certain times. I still hit it, I think, pretty far compared to other players, but it's a lot straighter, but that benefits me in the long run.
HYUN-HEE MOON, KLPGA member
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Hyun‑Hee Moon into the interview room. Great round today, seven birdies, 6‑under par. Just talk about your round and overall thoughts for the day.
HYUN‑HEE MOON: The golf course was going to be difficult so I didn't get to make such a good score today. I think overall I played really well today and I putted very well.
THE MODERATOR: Now, the first time you played here was back in 2004. It's a long time ago. You've played in this event several times, and have fared pretty well. Just talk about how big this event is for the KLPGA players and having an opportunity to play in this event.
HYUN‑HEE MOON: In Korea we have LPGA rounds once a year, and I believe all players want to participate in this tournament. So it's a great honor for me to be able to be here. My score has not been really good lately, and I heard this time everybody goes to fun, so I kind of wanted to boost my confidence, and I think I did it today.
THE MODERATOR: You're 21st on the KLPGA Money List. Talk about your season so far playing up until this point and coming into this week how you feel about your game.
HYUN‑HEE MOON: I practiced a lot before this season began, so I wanted to make a really, really good start to the season, and I felt a lot of pressure because of it. So I think mentally I was not as strong. In the beginning of the season I made really good scores, but toward the end my scores kind of went down. Participating in this tournament I think I will boost my spirit up.