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Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia Third-Round Notes and Interviews

Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club- East Course
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Third-round Notes and Interviews
October 13, 2012

Na Yeon Choi, -13, Rolex Rankings No. 4 & defending champion
Inbee Park,
-11, Rolex Rankings No. 6
Karri Webb,
-9, Rolex Rankings No. 19

Leading the way
Let them fall
Saturday night lights
Moving on up
In the chase for CME
Pretty in pink
Quotable Of Note…

Rolex Rankings No. 4 and defending champ Na Yeon Choi (@nychoi87) will take a two-shot lead into Sunday’s final round at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia (@SimeDarbyLPGA). Choi held only a one-shot lead with one round to play a year ago when she clinched her in win in Kuala Lumpur. The South Korean shot 3-under 68 to move to 13-under, two strokes ahead of Rolex Rankings No. 6 Inbee Park. Park, who leads the Tour’s money list this season, tied the low round of the day of 6-under 65 to move her to 11-under for the tournament.

Choi is looking to record her second victory of the season, after she earned her first major win at the U.S. Women’s Open in July. Despite over a four hour rain delay, Choi managed to tally four birdies and one bogey on the par 4 10th. LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Karrie Webb carded five birdies and two bogeys for a 3-under 68 and sits in solo third at 9-under par.

Leading the way: Na Yeon Choi held a one-shot lead with 18 holes to play last year at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia and the 24-year old said her two-shot lead this year does not make her any more comfortable heading into Sunday.

“I think it's pretty same as last year,” said Choi. “The good thing is I know I cannot control other players' score.  So, you know, even tomorrow, go out there, I'm going to watch the leaderboard because I have to know what is situation, but I cannot control their score.”

Choi managed to hold off Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng in the final round last year to earn her fifth-career victory. She knows the potential for another run from trailing players tomorrow and said she rather be the chaser than the chased. She has either shared or held the lead in the first three rounds this week.

“I think a lot of good players, they are behind me now,” said Choi. “Actually, honestly, I don't like leading, that feeling.  I like chasing better.

“But like today, I think I played too much safely.  So tomorrow I'm not going to think about my score, even two‑shot lead.  I just go out there with a general score and play my game.  I want to play lower than any day.”

Let them fall: Inbee Park will be playing for her tenth-consecutive top-10 finish this week and could be playing the best golf on Tour. The sixth-year pro is coming off back-to-back runner up finishes at the RICOH Women’s British Open and the CN Canadian Women’s Open. She was one of the players to not mind so much of the rain and appreciated the cooler temperatures instead.

“I think I play much better in the rain than hot,” said Park. “I much prefer rain than hot.  The front nine putting was a little bit disappointing, but I gave myself a lot of birdie chances. I just waited for the putts to fall and it did on the back nine.”

Park was on the fifth hole when play was suspended and had the chance to regroup after starting even-par on the first five holes. She went eleven holes before getting her first birdie on the par 5 12th and had everything clicking from there. Park carded all six of her birdies on the back nine and six of the last seven holes. 

“I mean, this golf course is scoreable and hard at the same time,” said Park. “I still need a lot of birdies tomorrow I think to win.  I'll just go out there and play aggressive with short‑irons and try to give myself a lot of birdie chances.”

Park became a major winner earlier this season when she won the Evian Masters Presented by Societe Generale and will be playing for her third-career victory.  

Saturday night lights: Third-round play was suspended at 10:17 a.m. due to lightning in the area and resumed at 2:31 p.m. following a four hour and 14 minute delay. For the third time in two years, the lights at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club were turned on to help players finish their rounds. Thursday’s first-round also endured a suspension in play which lasted two hours and 47 minutes due to inclement weather.

Moving on up: Another Choi was worth noting in Saturday’s second round, as Chella (@TheChellaChoi) tied the low round of the day of 6-under 65. The South Korean made one of the biggest jumps of the day moving from a T46 into a T21 at 3-under par. The fourth-year LPGA Tour pro failed to break par in the first two rounds, carding a 71 on Thursday and at 74 in second round. Some extra attention to her short game after yesterday’s round left the Rolex Rankings No. 34 player satisfied on the greens.

“Yesterday I missed a lot of birdie opportunities so I practiced a lot of chipping and putting afterward,” said Choi. “The greens were a little bit slow so I was trying for a little past the hole. The putting was better.”

In the chase for CME: Only five events remain on the 2012 schedule before the season-ending CME Group Titleholders and players who have not yet qualified for the tournament will be in a final chase for a spot in the limited-field event. The season finale, which will be held Nov. 15-18 at The TwinEagles in Naples, Fla., will feature a field made up of three qualifiers from every LPGA Tour tournament this season. Players who have not yet qualified but are in the hunt this week after three rounds of play are as follows: Karin Sjodin, T14 (-4); Momoko Ueda, T14 (-4); Lizette Salas, T26 (-2); Mo Martin, T32 (even); Mina Harigae, T41 (+2).

Pretty in pink: Saturday was Pink Day at the Sime Darby LPGA Malyasia to help support the tournament’s official charity, Cancer Research Initiatives Foundation (CARIF). Players, caddies and staff were encouraged to wear pink clothing or have pink items during Saturday’s third round of play. Caddie bibs and pin flags also featured the color pink. In its three-year history, the event has held the ‘pink-out’ every Saturday.

There were many events throughout the week to help benefit CARIF including Wednesday night’s Gala Dinner. It’s a week where breast cancer awareness is spotlighted due to its prevalence within the country.

Quotable: “I actually took a nap again. I think 30 minutes.  I think a lot of players saw that.” –Na Yeon Choi on how she passed time during the over four hour weather delay.

Of Note…Aretha Pan is the leading Malaysian after three rounds of play. Pan shot a 4-over 75 in Saturday’s third round and currently sits in 65th at 8-over-par…Natalie Gulbis withdrew before the third-round due to an abdominal strain…

 

NA YEON CHOI, Rolex Rankings No. 4

THE MODERATOR:  We'd like to welcome defending champion Na Yeon Choi to the interview.  Another good round.  Puts you 13‑under for the tournament.  Two‑shot lead heading into the final round.  Is that more comforting than last year?  Any feelings heading into the final round with a two‑shot lead?

NA YEON CHOI:  I think it's pretty same last year.  The good thing is I know I cannot control other players' score.  So, you know, even tomorrow, go out there, I'm going to watch the leaderboard because I have to know what is situation, but I cannot control their score.

I have to focus on my game, play my game, just play one shot at a time.  I think that's my goal tomorrow.

THE MODERATOR:  Suzann was at your heels a bit.  You keep your eye on the leaderboard.  Were you looking today?  Did you feel pressure with her being right behind you?

NA YEON CHOI:  Honestly, yes.  I think I had a pretty hard time during the round.  Today all day rain.  That's why I play so long.  We wake up like 12 hours ago.  That's a pretty long day.

But I birdie on 12, and then I got some like good momentum from there.  That's why I think I finished strong today.  Then I'm really glad to finish today.

THE MODERATOR:  Only bogey was on 10.

NA YEON CHOI:  Yes.

THE MODERATOR:  Talk about the bogey on 10 and how you regrouped from that.

NA YEON CHOI:  I had a 3‑putt on No. 10.  My first putt was almost 20 yard.  Pin was all the way back. 

Maybe five more yard, so...

I mean, that hole, I tried a little bit like smart shot from second shot.  Ball just finished short of the pin.  But I think too short.

THE MODERATOR:  A little too short?

NA YEON CHOI:  Yeah.  I had only one bogey today, even though today was very difficult day.

You know, I can take a good rest today because we finish late.  Come back tomorrow with a good feeling.

Q.  You've been leading since day one.  Talk about how tiring it is, how hard it is to keep the lead.

NA YEON CHOI:  It's more like pressure, I think, because a lot of fans, even my family, because I played well yesterday, day before, so they expect me to play well today.

When I think about that, I had lot of pressure.  But I cannot control what other people think.  So I just try to do what I can do, like even just go out there, play my game, my ball.  I can't control.

It's just a little pressure, but it's not hard.

THE MODERATOR:  Yani had a surge last year, came out of nowhere.  You kept your cool and held her off Sunday.  People are posting low scores throughout the week.  Are you ready to hold off anybody else?  Anybody else in your sights that you think might make a run?

NA YEON CHOI:  I think a lot of good player, they are behind me now.  Actually, honestly, I don't like leading, that feeling.  I like chasing better.

But like today, I think I played too much safely.  So tomorrow, you know, I'm not going to think about my score, even two‑shot lead.  I just go out there with a general score and play my game.  I want to play lower than like any day.

THE MODERATOR:  You want to be more aggressive for tomorrow?

NA YEON CHOI:  Right.

Q.  When you came back after the rain delay, did you have to change anything?

NA YEON CHOI:  No.  I played only one hole, then we had a break.  I think we had almost a three‑hour break.

THE MODERATOR:  Four.

NA YEON CHOI:  Actually I took nap again.

THE MODERATOR:  Second rain delay, second nap.  How long was this nap?

NA YEON CHOI:  I think 30 minutes.  I think a lot of player saw that.

 

INBEE PARK, Rolex Rankings No.

THE MODERATOR:  Four last holes you birdied, so six out of the last seven.

INBEE PARK:  Yes.

THE MODERATOR:  Run us through that stretch, your birdies.

INBEE PARK:  I will go backwards.

18 out of the bunker, 7‑iron, then about a 10‑footer. 17, 8‑iron hit to about three feet. 16, wedge to 15‑footer. 15 was wedge to 4‑footer.13, yeah, another wedge to 4‑footer. 12, 3‑footer with a wedge.

THE MODERATOR:  Putter was going.  Greens getting a little slower after the rain.  How did you do reading those?

INBEE PARK:  I think I play much better in the rain than hot.  I much prefer rain than hot.  The front nine putting was a little bit disappointing, but I gave myself a lot of birdie chances.

I just waited for the putts to fall and it did on the back nine.  Great round today.

THE MODERATOR:  Going into the back nine, no birdies in the front nine, were you discouraged?

INBEE PARK:  That was the way I've been playing the last three days.  I just knew the birdies would come out.  So I just tried to trust myself.

Q.  6‑under today, six birdies on the back nine, suddenly back in contention.  How is it going to be tomorrow?

INBEE PARK:  I mean, this golf course is scoreable and hard at the same time.  I still need a lot of birdies tomorrow I think to win.  I'll just go out there and play aggressive with short‑irons and try to give myself a lot of birdie chances.

Q.  Is that the plan, to be aggressive and put pressure on?

INBEE PARK:  Yeah.  I try not to think about winning.  I just play my game I've been playing lately.

I'll just keep trusting myself shot by shot.

THE MODERATOR:  What did you do during the rain delay?

INBEE PARK:  Yeah, just sat down there.  They had food in there, so it was great.  I ate something, tried to have fun.

THE MODERATOR:  What hole did it get suspended on for you?

INBEE PARK:  5.

THE MODERATOR:  Do you think it helped taking a break, regrouping, or just another rain delay?

INBEE PARK:  It was hard, I mean, because this rain delay was long.  I mean, but I kind of expected this coming to Malaysia.  Everybody had to deal with it.

THE MODERATOR:  Obviously you're having a great year this year.  Did you have any goals coming into this final stretch the last six or so tournaments?

INBEE PARK:  My main goal is I'm currently No. 1 on the Money List.  I want to finish right there.  I got to finish strong these last few events because a lot of girls are very good.

 

KARRIE WEBB, Rolex Rankings No. 19

THE MODERATOR:  Great finish.  How long was that putt?

KARRIE WEBB:  It was probably 40 feet, I'd say.           

MODERATOR:  Talk about the back‑to‑back bogeys, followed up with a birdie.

KARRIE WEBB:  Yeah, with the start, I had a really good front nine.  Yeah, it was just not that even bad of a swing into 11.  I thought I hit a good chip, didn't make the putt.  Hit a poor wedge shot into 12, then hit a poor chip.

It was really bad timing in the round, sort of lost a little momentum there.  Made a birdie back on 13, so that sort of settled me down.

THE MODERATOR:  It was a long rain delay.  How did you pass that time and get back out there?

KARRIE WEBB:  Just the same as the other day.  Just sitting around, chatting.

Yeah, I think our officials made a great call.  They sent us back out there and it was still raining.  We were wondering what they were doing, but I think we're going to get done.

THE MODERATOR:  Heading into tomorrow, good position.  How do you feel?

KARRIE WEBB:  Yeah, I feel great about it.  The putt on the last gets me that little bit closer.  Then again, it will depend on where Na Yeon finishes.

But, you know, I think anyone four or five shots back has a shot tomorrow.

THE MODERATOR:  How are the greens?  A little dark, playing under the lights.

KARRIE WEBB:  They are slow.  But for how much rain we've had, not as slow as you would think.  They've done a good job.

Q.  Every day there is somebody that shoots 6‑under.  Do you think that's going to be enough tomorrow?

KARRIE WEBB:  That's why I don't really set a score.  You shoot 6‑under, if that's what you set, that's a great round, but it might not be enough.

I don't mentally set a score.  I just go out, try to shoot as low as I can.  Hopefully that's enough. I don't know if I'll be in the last group or not.  If I am, at least I'll know how Na Yeon is playing.

Topics: Notes and Interviews, Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, Choi, Na Yeon, Park, Inbee, Webb, Karrie [+]

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