Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship
Sunrise Golf & Country Club
Yang Mei, Taoyuan, Taiwan
Final-round Notes and Interviews
October 28, 2012
Rolex Rankings No. 7 Suzann Pettersen became the third player to win back-to-back events on the LPGA Tour this season, as she captured a three-shot victory at the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship. Pettersen shot a final round 3-under 69 to capture the come-from behind victory over Rolex Rankings No. 5 Inbee Park.
One week after closing out her first victory of the 2012 season at the LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship, Pettersen once again found a way to take home a trophy. But while it took her three playoff holes in South Korea for a win, Pettersen managed to pull away from her playing partners – Park and Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng -- over the final few holes this week.
“I tee it up every week to try and win,” Pettersen said. “Obviously winning last week gave me perhaps a bit more confidence believing that what I do is the right thing, and I've had some great friends around me last week, this week, being able to put my head in the right spot and just really enjoy myself.”
The Oslo, Norway native began the day two shots back of third-round leader Inbee Park but Pettersen birdied the first hole to move within one. A bogey by Park on the fifth hole created a tie atop the leaderboard and from there it was a tight battle between the two players before Pettersen took a one-shot lead when Park bogeyed the par-4 14th hole. She then drained a long birdie putt on 15 to move two shots ahead and clinched her victory with a birdie on the par-5 18th.
“I don't think I've enjoyed myself so much on the golf course like I have the last three or four weeks, so I think that might be a huge part of it,” she continued. “Really playing with my heart, playing with my instinct, even on the last shot. Just being aggressive.”
Money Milestone...Suzann Pettersen crossed the $1 million mark in season earnings for the sixth consecutive season and passes Meg Mallon for eighth on the LPGA Career Money List. 2012 is her third multi-win season in 10 years on Tour following 2007 (5) and 2011 (10).
Player of the Year race heats up...Stacy Lewis’ lead in the Rolex Player of the Year race is now just 28 points following Inbee Park’s runner-up finish this week. The 24-year-old Park continues to make a strong push to become the first South Korean player to earn Rolex Player of the Year honors.
Park has seven top-3 finishes in her last eight events and 11 top-10 finishes in her last 12 events. Prior to that streak, Park was not in the top-15 of the Rolex Player of the Year race.
“Earlier in the season I really didn't think about (Player of the Year) much, but it's almost the end of the season and only three tournaments to go,” Park said. “And I think I have a good chance because I'm playing good and I have confidence. And these three tournaments, who knows what's going to happen. Just play tournament by tournament, shot by shot and see if I can go close.”
Lewis is also focused on trying to take home the honor, as she’s attempting to become the first American to win the award since Beth Daniel in 1994. Both Lewis and Park are slated to play in the final three events of the LPGA season: the Mizuno Classic, the Lorena Ochoa Invitational and the CME Group Titleholders.
Park’s T15 finish last week at the LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship ended what had been an impressive streak for the 24-year-old South Korean. She had recorded 10 straight top-10 finishes, a streak that dated back to early June at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. It included two victories, four runner-up finishes and eight top-5 finishes while falling a few top-10s shy of Karrie Webb’s LPGA record of 16 straight top-10s.
Yani Tseng also improved her standing in the quest for a third-consecutive Player of the Year honor with a third-place finish. She trails Lewis by 46 points and will also play in the final three events of the season. A win is worth 30 points.
So close…Yani Tseng made a solid push to defend her title at the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship in her home country, but she came up just a little short in her effort. Tseng shot a final-round 1-under 71 and finished four strokes behind winner Suzann Pettersen.
“I really enjoyed this week to coming back home and play the LPGA tournament here,” Tseng said. “ So many fans out here to cheer for me and to give me 100 percent support, so I really, really appreciate that. So I can't wait to come back next year to play well.
“I know I didn't finish where I wanted to, but it's getting better and I think it's getting better slowly, so I'm very happy what I play right now. I always have something that I can improve on like every day, so I'm very happy to see my game right now and feel very confident and going to play Japan next week, so hopefully I'll have a good week, too.”
This week marked the second straight top-3 finish for Tseng. She hadn’t had two straight top-5 finishes since back in March when she won the Kia Classic and then finished third at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Tseng appears to be getting her game back on track following a rough stretch over the past couple months. Tseng’s third-place finish at last week’s LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship was her first top-10 finish since the Sybase Match Play Championship back in May. After winning three of the first five LPGA events of the year, the top-ranked player in the world hit a rough patch beginning in June and prior to last week she had gone a stretch of 11 consecutive tournaments without a top-10 finish, which included three missed cuts.
“It feels pretty good,” Tseng said of her recent play. “Actually, I mean I really forgot how I play last three, four months. I know it's not well, but all I see is right now or in the future, so I feel great about my game and feel confidence about my game. So last three, four months, just lots of great experience for me and I'm learning a lot from that. So hopefully I can bring those and keep continuing.
Golden ticket winners: Belen Mozo, Mariajo Uribe, and Mo Martin punched their "Ticket to CME Group Titleholders" at the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship, each earning a spot in the season-ending CME Group Titleholders event, which will be held Nov. 15-18, 2012 at The TwinEagles in Naples, Fla. The second annual CME Group Titleholders is a season finale with a field made up of three qualifiers from every LPGA Tour tournament.
Of Note… One week after losing in a three-hole playoff to Suzann Pettersen, Scotland native Catriona Matthew continued her solid play. Matthew shot a final-round 72 to finish in fourth place at 12-under-par…So Yeon Ryu, who is leading the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race, fired a 4-under 68 on Sunday to finish in 5th at 10-under-par and her 14th top-10 finish of the 2012 season. She leads the Top-10 Finish Percentage stat with 14 in 22 starts this season…The low round of the day and the biggest move of the day belonged to Karen Stupples who shot a 5-under 67 to move from T67 to T38 at 4-over-par.
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome the 2012 Sunrise LPGA Taiwan champion, Suzann Pettersen into the interview room. Congratulations. Second straight victory in as many weeks on the LPGA Tour. It's gotta feel pretty special for you.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, today was ‑‑ I was kind of happy I was in the position I was after yesterday, coming from behind, being a little bit of an underdog, knowing that they predicted tougher conditions, and I think that was just right up my alley.
It was tough enough to where I managed to keep my focus on my game trying to execute every shot, and it kind of took the pressure off me. So I guess the conditions kind of helped me today, and it was obviously great playing with Yani and Inbee in the last group. It was a good battle out there.
THE MODERATOR: As you were talking about, it was quite a back‑and‑forth battle between you and Inbee over the Front 9 and at the start of the Back 9, too. She talked about how the 13th hole she felt was a turning point when she wasn't able to make birdie and you made that nice par putt on the par‑5. What do you think was the biggest swing, and where did you kind of start to feel momentum maybe going your way?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: You know what, I really paid no attention to either Yani or Inbee's game today. I really tried to stick to my own game plan, sticking to my own bubble. I played my own game, tried not to kind of do stupid mistakes, errors that would cost me too much. Really tried to play within my margins, be aggressive when I could, play the percentage that was kind of needed.
I felt when I made the putt on 15 I felt pretty comfortable. That was the first time I kind of let my head go a fraction ahead. And knowing the 16 was a tough par‑3 I couldn't really think about it too much longer.
Well, teeing off on 18 with a two‑shot lead, hitting the fairway I felt pretty good. My wedge game has been great all week, and knowing I would have some kind of wedge or 9‑iron in my hand on my third shot.
So it was tough, but like I said, I didn't really pay much attention to their game. Felt pretty good straight off the bat, and yeah.
THE MODERATOR: I know we talked about this earlier in the week, but the last time you won events in back‑to‑back weeks it came in October of 2007 when you also won two straight events while playing in Asia. Is there really just something about coming over here and playing that fits your game, and do you enjoy the challenge that these golf courses present you?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I don't know what it is, but I'm not playing next week, so the guys don't have to worry.
You know what, I tee it up every week to try and win. Obviously winning last week gave me perhaps a bit more confidence believing that what I do is the right thing, and I've had some great friends around me last week, this week, being able to put my head in the right spot and just really enjoy myself. I don't think I've enjoyed myself so much on the golf course like I have the last three or four weeks as I have the last ten years. So I think that might be a huge part of it. Really playing with my heart, playing with my instinct, even on the last shot. Just being aggressive.
Q. Now you have two wins under your belt, what's your next goal?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: My next goal is to get back to America safe and rested.
I'm playing in Mexico at Lorena's event in two weeks. So that will be my next tournament. So give myself a break for this week up coming. And I've had four fantastic weeks. The first week of this stretch I was in Africa for charity with all the kids. So I guess that was a good kick start for me for a good swing in Asia. I don't know. Winning more tournaments.
Q. A couple minutes ago when we interviewed Yani, she said she's very happy that she saw some smile on your face. How come? Anything different or that you can smile?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: You know, Yani and I, we're great friends. I think a unique thing that we have, as much as we're competitors, we're good friends. We practice together. We kind of brain storm together. We can walk through golf strategy together. But at the same time, once we tee it up, we're fiery competitors.
And it was almost hard for me because Yani as we were walking off the 18th tee, Yani is like, great job this week. I wish I could have give you more of a battle. I'm like, I'm not done yet. I mean I got two shots and one is over water. I can hit it in the water. I'm like, Yani, I can't listen to you. And she's like, great job. I just wish I could have given you more of a fight. And we're walking up 17 we talked about a few different changes that I've done, and it's nice to hear that she's happy for me. She can see the changes. I can feel the changes. I have a new caddie that I feel is working really well. He is very laid back. He ‑‑ I trust him. And the chemistry is right there. So with that I can allow myself to play to my gut feel and to my instinct, and I guess that is the big difference for me.
Q. You've won in Taiwan for two years. What is the difference (inaudible)?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: The two times I've been here, the difference.
Q. In Taiwan?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: It's nice to be in Taiwan and win in front of Taiwanese fans and crowds. I mean the crowds they get here is unbelievable. It just shows the impact that Yani has made on golf here in Taiwan, and it's great to see. I'll be back in December. That will be I've been in Taiwan four times in two years by the time December comes around. So it's gotta be something that I like about it.
Q. Do you see a difference in Yani's game compared to the past three or four months?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I mean ‑‑
Q. What has she done right?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: You know, golf is a sport. We're all human. I mean what Yani has done over the last couple of years is hard to ever repeat. And it's easy for Yani to get hard on herself. I mean I don't know if it's normal or not normal to win 12 events a year. I don't think it's ‑‑ it's going to be hard for anyone to do that after her.
And she came off to a great start, and I think golf you go up and you go down. And I don't think she's played that bad, to be honest. But we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. There's a lot of expectations from the media, from the fans. And I mean they're used to seeing her wing and when they don't see her wing, you're going to hear about it. So it's just nice to see Yani back playing with more confidence, I guess. She trusts her game.
But like I said, we're all human, and in this game you win and you lose, and you go up and you go down. It's just important that you learn from the downs and you comes back up.
Q. How are you going to spend the off season? Are you going to practice a lot?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, I'm glad we still got events going because now I kind of feel like my game is right there. So I don't really want it to come to an end. My last event will be (inaudible) and then I will go back to Norway and enjoy time with my friends and family. Hopefully ski some. Last winter the wind was blowing great.
So up until now I haven't really thought what I want to do in my off season. Right now just kind of as the weeks go along and you do well, you kind of look forward to put your feet up a little and give yourself a break.
Q. Suzann, I wrote yesterday you mentioned that you didn't know what to expect today, that it could be a hurricane or it could be a beautiful day.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah.
Q. It's turned out to be quite blustery conditions. The first question, were you kind of hoping that it would be windy, and the second question, how did you adjust your game in order to be successful out here in tough conditions today?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, yeah, I was hoping for tough conditions because it eliminates half the field. For sure I was happy when I woke up and I looked out the window and I could see the bushes were going sideways. I just smiled and said, great. Bring it on.
You know what, I feel like I have every shot that's needed. So for me it was, like I said earlier, it kind of was easy for me to stay and stick to my own game plan, not really worry about anyone. I knew no one was going to go real low today. And it's always nice to be in the last group, so you kind of have some kind of control factor of having to do stuff if you have to coming down the stretch. But like I said, I really didn't pay too much attention to the others' games, and I felt a lot more comfortable this Sunday than I felt last Sunday. So it's always a different feel to different wins. Last week I felt like I scrambled it. This week I felt like I earned it.
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Rolex Rankings No. 5 Inbee Park into the interview room. Thank you so much for joining us today. Congratulations. A runner‑up finish. I know everyone always wants to win the title, but another impressive showing by you this week. Can you take me through your performance this week and how you feel at the end of the day today?
INBEE PARK: I mean after yesterday I think I almost played perfect for first three days. I mean I try to take the positive out of this week's game.
Today I hit the ball good, I think. Just putts just didn't fall. I mean I holed a lot of putts the last three days, so I guess today was just unlucky day, and just try to take the things from this week and go on to next week.
THE MODERATOR: It was a tough battle between you and Suzann for most of the day and the conditions were pretty tough. How much more difficult was the golf course playing today with the wind having picked up.
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I think today was playing totally different than the last three days I played this golf course. Today we were hitting totally different clubs into the green, and downwind we weren't able to stop the ball on the green. And just mostly putting‑wise I think windy days the putting is the toughest because it's just too hard to concentrate. I mean the ball is moving, looks like it's going to move. And yeah, it's just tough ‑‑ tough day to concentrate, I think.
THE MODERATOR: You've been playing such terrific golf over the second half of the season. It's now 11 out of your last 12 tournaments you've finished in the Top 10. This is your fifth runner‑up finish. I mean how do you even begin to characterize this type of golf that you've been playing of late, and do you even look back on it and are you impressed by what you've been able to accomplish.
INBEE PARK: Yeah. Sometimes I look at my stats, and I mean it's great because I have a lot of runner‑up finishes, and when you have a lot of runner‑up finishes, you know that you are really close to winning and try to take the good side of the runner‑up finishes and try to learn from other players' play. And maybe next time I will win.
Suzann played great today. I mean in this wind, it looks like her ball ‑‑ the wind wasn't touching her ball and she just played great today. I just want to give her credit for that.
THE MODERATOR: There are three events left of the LPGA season after this week, and you're set to play in all three of them.
INBEE PARK: Yes.
THE MODERATOR: And so is Stacy Lewis, and the two of you seem to be in a good battle now for the Rolex Player of the Year award. Is that kind of an award that you have in your sights? Is that something that you've set a goal to achieve? As we've talked about, no other South Korean has won that award before.
INBEE PARK: Yeah. Earlier in the season I really didn't think about that much, but it's almost the end of the season and only three tournaments to go. And I think I have a good chance because I'm playing good and I have confidence. And these three tournaments, who knows what's going to happen. Just play tournament by tournament, shot by shot and see if I can go close.
Q. Great play over the last four days. The question I wanted to ask is you're so collected and composed on the golf course, so you never really know how you're feeling inside. What were you feeling inside when that chip on the 14th didn't go the way that you had and did it affect your play after that? Can you talk a little bit about how you felt when that happened?
INBEE PARK: It was a downwind, and I think I played it too much for a downwind. I mean my ball ‑‑ the wind didn't touch my ball. I think it kind of knocked it down, so it just stayed short, and I thought I had a good lie and it was a pretty easy lie I thought. And just the ball didn't come up that way. It just happens.
It wasn't the easiest chip, so actually getting a bogey on that hole was lucky I think, because it was a good bogey.
Q. Out of the 18 holes that you played today, which one was the most frustrating hole?
INBEE PARK: I've gotta say it's 13 when I hit it over the green with the 5‑wood. But that hole was ‑‑ I really wanted to make birdie on that hole, and I think that was kind of the turning point. That hole Suzann made a good par putt, and I missed my birdie putt, so I think that hole was kind of the turning point of the round today.
Q. You and Yani were in the same group, and there was a lot of fans following you guys, but there's a lot of fan support for Yani and they don't want you to give them the ball. Would that be a distraction for you?
INBEE PARK: I mean I expected a lot of fans to be with Yani. I mean that's just a known fact. I mean but I think today was I think a little bit too much. And that hurt my feelings a little bit. But it happens and you're playing in Taiwan, and it just ‑‑ it happens. I just gotta take it what it is. And yeah. I think that's just another experience.
YANI TSENG, Rolex Rankings No. 1
THE MODERATOR: All right. We'd like to welcome Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng into the interview room. Congratulations. Another solid performance this week. Third place finish. I know, sure you wanted to defend your title here at home, but just take me through your week, and how happy are you with how you were able to play this week?
YANI TSENG: I mean first of all, I feel sorry about Inbee today out there. I mean we had a little tough day, but everything else, I really enjoyed this week to coming back home and play the LPGA tournament here. So many fans out here to cheer for me and to give me 100 percent support, so I really, really appreciate that. So I can't wait to come back next year to play well.
I know I didn't finish where I wanted to, but it's getting better and I think it's getting better slowly, so I'm very happy what I play right now. I always have something that I can improve on like every day, so I'm very happy to see my game right now and feel very confident and going to play Japan next week, so hopefully I'll have a good week, too.
THE MODERATOR: The conditions today definitely were different than what we've seen all week, and you've seen pretty windy here, but how would you rate the conditions and how tough it was out there on the golf course today?
YANI TSENG: Yeah. Of course it's tougher than last three days, but it's not as tough like when we played in the pro am. It was wind, but it was kind of playable.
So it's very tough to make birdie out there, but Suzann played so good today. She make lots of like important putts to hung in there. So I think it's good to see her play well again.
For me, I kind of didn't have many birdie chances out there today, but I did my best every shot, every hole, so I'm still really happy to finish third.
THE MODERATOR: What have the last two weeks really done for your confidence level? I mean you kept feeling like the game was almost there and it was just a matter of time before things all fell into place, but back‑to‑back third place finishes, it's gotta feel pretty good.
YANI TSENG: Yeah, it feels pretty good. Actually, I mean I really forgot how I play last three, four months. I know it's not well, but all I see is right now or in the future, so I feel great about my game and feel confidence about my game. So last three, four months, just lots of great experience for me and I'm learning a lot from that. So hopefully I can bring those and keep continuing.
THE MODERATOR: And I know you and Suzann have practiced together a lot, you've played together a lot. How impressed have you been by watching her play over the last few weeks and how great her game is coming together right now?
YANI TSENG: I was very happy for her, especially today under this wind and she's hitting the ball so consistently, so I was very happy to see her start hitting well, and to win back to back, I was very impressed. And her putting is getting so much better. And I think the important thing is she's showing more smiles on the face. So I think that's how she can handle this pressure better. So I'm happy for her.
THE MODERATOR: One last question. This is the second year of this event in your home country. We all saw the crowds and how great they've been all week, but how proud are you to see the support that the LPGA gets here in Taiwan?
YANI TSENG: I'm very proud of all the fans out here because that really shows how big a sport golf is in Taiwan and it's getting so much better and they've been incredible and amazing and they are really, really nice out there.
Every day is getting better and better. First day we were saying no cameras a lot. But last day I think it's all getting better, and I really appreciate those people are coming out and supporting us, and hopefully this LPGA can continue for a long time.