Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club- East Course
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Second-round Notes and Interviews
October 12, 2012
All cylinders firing
Rolex Rankings No. 4 Na Yeon Choi (@nychoi87) continued her campaign to defend her title at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia (@SimeDarbyLPGA) and heads into the weekend at 10-under par with a two-shot lead over American rookie (@SydneeMichaels). Choi shot 4-under 67 on Friday, carding four of her six birdies on the front nine and two bogeys on the back. Rolex Rankings No. 8 Suzann Pettersen (@SuzannPettersen) followed up a first-round 71 with the low round on Friday of 7-under par and sits three shots off the lead. Pettersen’s round of 64 set a new tournament record. Momoko Ueda, Lizette Salas (@LizetteSalas5) and Mika Miyazato (@mikachin1010) join Pettersen in a tie for third after 36 holes of play.
Defense! Na Yeon Choi started the week in Malaysia with high expectations to defend her title at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, not only from the Malay fans but also with the pressure she has put on herself. With a win this week, Choi will become only the second player this season to successfully break into the winner’s circle at the same event as in 2011. Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng won back-to-back at the Honda LPGA Thailand back in February. With a second-round 4-under 67 and a two-stroke lead heading into the weekend, Choi has all the confidence for a repeat.
“I think I had a pretty good round today,” said Choi. “I got two bogeys, but I think I'm still in pretty good position. I really like to play this golf course. I have a lot of confidence. Today I hit a lot of good shot with my irons. I really looked forward to this week, to get good results like last year.”
The South Korean defended a win once before at the 2010 HanaBank Championship. She was pleased with her first two rounds but knows a two-shot lead is nothing to be too comfortable with.
“I don't know. I mean, we still have to play two more rounds,” said Choi. “You know, a lot of people, all the players, can play like 6-, 7-under par a day. Nobody knows. I still think I'm good position. I will keep trying hard and make some good results.”
Contention lessons: LPGA rookie Sydnee Michaels is making her Asian debut on Tour this week and has been coming to form at the end of the season. Michaels has had some rookie inconsistencies throughout 2012 but has posted three top-20’s in her last five starts.
“I think the beginning of my year was a little bit of a hit-or-miss,” said Michaels. “I'd either be way up there in contention or I would miss the cut. Then I would say the last like six, seven weeks or so, more than that, I've really kind of calmed down a little bit, and it's been much more consistent. So it's been fun.”
Michaels ranks fourth on Tour in Rookie of the Year points and had a career-best finish 7th at the Safeway Classic presented by Coca-Cola. After being in contention in several tournaments she said those experiences should help her down the stretch.
“You know, I've had some good practice this year being in contention going into the weekend, so I'm hoping I can learn from those experiences I have,” said Michaels. “Hopefully it will be my week.”
The California native opened her second round with two birdies and a bogey on the front nine then converted on every opportunity with her putter on the back nine, posting a string of five-consecutive birdies on holes 11-15.
“I had a couple like 25-footers that were good, solid putts. Yeah, those five holes, I gave myself a birdie chance, and I took advantage of it.”
Timely ace: Fellow LPGA Tour rookie Lizette Salas had some back-nine recovery to salvage what looked like to be a mediocre round through 12 holes. Salas opened her round with four birdies on the front nine, making the turn at 7-under par. But the California native posted three-consecutive bogeys on Nos. 10, 11 and 12, quickly digging herself into a mid-round hole.
“There’s something about 10, I don’t know,” said Salas. “It just doesn’t like me. I made a few mistakes on 10, 11 and 12 but I was thinking it could’ve been worse. We couldn’t find my ball on 12. I hit it in the left rough off the tee then hit into a big rose bush. We finally found it and hit it on the green. I was trying to get in my rhythm the next couple holes.”
She found the perfect rhythm with her nine-iron on the par 3 15th and struck gold when she holed out from 130 yards. Salas’ timely hole-in-one was her first on Tour and third in her playing career. Had she done so on the 17th, she’d be heading back to the States with a brand-new BMW. She didn’t seem to be bothered with the commemorative trophy she received instead.
“I’ll take it,” said Salas. “It’s only my third hole in one, first on Tour. You don’t get to hear that all too often, a hole in one in Malaysia. So that’s pretty cool. I’m just having fun.”
All cylinders firing: Suzann Pettersen’s second-round 64 set a new tournament record at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia and the nine-year veteran has found some new confidence in her putter, in attempt to finish out the 2012 season on a high note.
“Yesterday felt like I just had to flush through a round of golf after a long week in Africa last week,” said Pettersen. “I've been feeling really good with my putter starting in Alabama a couple, three weeks ago. It's just continuing. I feel like I can be aggressive, trust my instinct, just really try to push every green with a lot of confidence.”
The eight-time LPGA Tour winner and major champion has yet to break into the winner’s circle in 2012 and trying to best her top finish this year of T2 at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. The former Rolex Rankings No. 2 player’s last win came at the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola in August of last year.
“Well, this year has been kind of a little bit of an odd year, I feel like,” said Pettersen. “I feel like I've done some really good stuff and then a little bit more inconsistent year than recent years in the past. At the same time I've been feeling good.
“My game has been feeling right there, but I haven't been able to fire on all cylinders at the same time,” said Pettersen. “Today was nice to get a low round, back in the tournament, two more rounds to go.”
Quotable: “I bought like so many clothes (laughter). I found this one store in the mall that's attached to our hotel. I think they were looking at me like, Are you crazy?” –Sydnee Michaels on her off-course activities during her first trip to Malaysia.
Of Note…First-round co-leader Karrie Webb shot even-par 71 on Friday and moved to a tie for 7th at 6-under par…Rolex Rankings No. 2 Stacy Lewis carded a second-round 2-under 69 and sits seven shots off the lead at 3-under par…Se Ri Pak withdrew after nine holes of play in the second round due to injury…Taiwanese amateur Min Lee was disqualified after her round for signing an incorrect scorecard.
THE MODERATOR: Talk about your day. 4-under today. Comfortable with your cushion?
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah, I think I so. I think I had a pretty good round today. I got two bogey, but I think I'm still in pretty good position.
I really like to play this golf course. I have a lot of confidence. This day I hit a lot of good shot with my iron. I really looking forward to this week, to get good results like last year.
THE MODERATOR: Talk about the two bogeys.
NA YEON CHOI: You know, like I told you, my strategy is to keep the fairway first. But I missed the fairway on 11th hole, so that's why I had bogey on 11.
Then the other bogey is on 17. I hit it okay from tee shot, but I had to 3-putt.
But, you know, I think it's still good position. I had six birdies today. I really like satisfied how I played today.
Q. Do you think you're running away with it already?
NA YEON CHOI: I don't know. I mean, we still have to play two more rounds. You know, a lot of people, all the players, can play like 6-, 7-under par a day. Nobody knows.
I still think I'm good position. I will keep trying hard and make some good results.
THE MODERATOR: Great round. By far the best you've played here. Just tell us about your thoughts on today’s round.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yesterday felt like I just had to flush through a round of golf after a long week in Africa last week. I've been feeling really good with my putter starting in Alabama a couple, three weeks ago. It's just continuing. I feel like I can be aggressive, trust my instinct, just really try to push every green with a lot of confidence.
Today was a very solid round. I had a lot of easy birdies. I think I had three or four tap-in birdies, one bomber. Other than that, pretty solid.
THE MODERATOR: How long was that putt?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: 20 feet probably.
THE MODERATOR: What was that on?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Par 5, 16.
THE MODERATOR: You finished out the back nine, your first nine, four out of five birdies, then back on No. 1, another birdie. That was your 'on fire' part.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I mean, pretty much all my birdies were inside seven feet. Some of them were even shorter.
Just very easy round of golf. Really tried to finish strong. It's easy to kind of put the brake on a little bit there. Hit some good shots, like I said. I'm really happy. The score usually suits my feel.
THE MODERATOR: Past five years you've been within the top 20 the last four events. How have you worked on finishing out seasons? Things just click or do you have a sense of urgency?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, this year has been kind of a little bit of an odd year, I feel like. I feel like I've done some really good stuff and then a little bit more inconsistent year than recent years in the past. At the same time I've been feeling good.
My game has been feeling right there, but I haven't been able to fire on all cylinders at the same time. Today was nice to get a low round, back in the tournament, two more rounds to go.
THE MODERATOR: You spoke about the Mozambique trip. How did that trip put things in perspective?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: You know, it was just an amazing week. It was obviously probably the week of my life. You really feel like you make a difference. You feel like you can make a difference. It's just nice to see all the programs, how they're working, how the kids are enjoying being around the program.
So it was fantastic. I mean, before yesterday, I got a text from my manager saying, Play for the kids today. That's easy for you to say (laughter). Obviously it puts a smile on your face. If they can smile, anyone can smile.
Q. Third time coming to Malaysia. What do you look for in coming here? What are the best things about coming here?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: You sweat out the jetlag pretty quickly (laughter).
No, I like it down here. Even though it's hot and humid, I always enjoy coming to Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia. Different types of grass down here.
I like it. Friendly people. Good food. Great accommodations. Overall a very good week for us.
Q. Can you talk about the momentum you built up going into the weekend.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Hopefully. Yesterday I shot even par, finished with a birdie. Felt like I had some good feels going. Good warmup. Early tee off today. 7-under. Very happy today. Going to enjoy a bit of lunch and start all over tomorrow.
Q. Can you run us through the birdies?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah, I mean, 14, 15, were both tap-ins within a foot.
16 was like the longest one that I made.
18 was, I don't know, four, five feet.
No. 1 was less than a foot.
Then a few others that were inside eight feet.
Just nice to get going with the putter. Obviously when you hit it close, you feel like you can be aggressive. Yeah, you just try to knock them in.
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Sydnee Michaels into the interview room. Awesome round, 6-under today. Talk about your round. Five birdies on the back nine.
SYDNEE MICHAELS: Yeah, I mean, I definitely got on a roll. I gave myself good birdie chances every time. I made the putts. So I was rolling the ball really well today.
So, yeah, it was overall a solid round.
THE MODERATOR: You're fourth in Rookie of the Year, in your first year. Talk about your year overall coming up to this final stretch.
SYDNEE MICHAELS: Yeah, I think the beginning of my year was a little bit of a hit-or-miss. I'd either be way up there in contention or I would miss the cut.
Then I would say the last like six, seven weeks or so, more than that, I've really kind of calmed down a little bit, and it's been much more consistent. So it's been fun.
THE MODERATOR: What has been the buzz about coming to this stop? How have you been adjusting to the conditions?
SYDNEE MICHAELS: I've been adjusting pretty well. The hospitality here is so fantastic. Our hotel is gorgeous. I mean, the course is beautiful. The clubhouse. Everyone is just so nice. It's been a really fun experience so far.
It is really, really hot. But, I mean, I have my little sun umbrella, my compression sleeve, so I'm trying to manage.
THE MODERATOR: Like you said, in contention. Any thoughts going into the weekend?
SYDNEE MICHAELS: Just do what I do, have been doing the last two days. You know, I've had some good practice this year being in contention going into the weekend, so I'm hoping I can learn from those experiences I have. Hopefully it will be my week.
Q. What has been good for you in terms of this week?
SYDNEE MICHAELS: My putter. I've been hitting the ball well, too. I've been working on my putting the last month and it's paying off, so...
Q. Great round. Will there be playing catch-up this weekend?
SYDNEE MICHAELS: No. Golf is a crazy sport where the tournament can change in one hole. There's two days left, so that's a lot of golf to be played.
I’m just hoping to go out and play well again the next two days, and hopefully my name will be at the top.
Q. This is your rookie year on tour. This is your first visit to Asia?
SYDNEE MICHAELS: I've been to Japan twice. This is my first time to Southeast Asia.
Q. Are you enjoying the experience?
SYDNEE MICHAELS: Yeah, no, everyone is so nice. I'm having fun so far. I went shopping yesterday. Everyone is so nice. I'm really enjoying my time.
THE MODERATOR: Where did you go and what did you buy?
SYDNEE MICHAELS: I bought like so many clothes (laughter). I found this one store in the mall that's attached to our hotel. I think they were looking at me like, Are you crazy?
THE MODERATOR: Just a local store?
SYDNEE MICHAELS: Yeah, it was a local store. I just bought like, yeah.
THE MODERATOR: Probably love when the golfers come into town.
Q. Can you take us through your birdies today?
SYDNEE MICHAELS: I have a terrible memory with my round, so I'll try to remember.
But I had one birdie on 2. Then I think I made another birdie on 8 possibly. I made a bogey on 9. Then my back nine, I kind of had a hot stretch and made five birdies in a row.
Q. Talk about the club, yardage.
SYDNEE MICHAELS: Oh, God, I don't know if I can remember that. I don't know how many under I am, I don't even know.
THE MODERATOR: Any long putts?
SYDNEE MICHAELS: I mean, I had a couple like 25-footers that were good, solid putts. Yeah, those five holes, I gave myself a birdie chance, and I took advantage of it, so...