Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship
Sunrise Golf & Country Club
Yang Mei, Taoyuan, Taiwan
Second-round Notes and Interviews
October 26, 2012
Rolex Rankings No. 5 Inbee Park and No. 7 Suzann Pettersen (@SuzannPettersen) share the lead at 10-under-par through two rounds of the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship (@taiwanlpga). Pettersen continued her hot play of late, firing a 7-under 65 to tie the 18-hole tournament record. Park, who had also tied the tournament record in the first round, followed up her impressive opening round with a 3-under 69 which was highlighted by a near hole-out for eagle on the 18th.
Rolex Rankings No. 1 and Taiwan native Yani Tseng (@YaniTseng), who won the inaugural event here last year, sits two shots back of the leaders and is tied for third with Scotland native Catriona Matthew (@Beany25).
Back-to-back? The last time that Suzann Pettersen won events in consecutive weeks it was back in October of 2007 when she took home trophies in Korea and then in Thailand. The 10-year LPGA pro is now trying to see if she can deliver a similar magic stretch during the LPGA Tour’s Asian swing this year.
Pettersen captured her ninth LPGA Tour victory at last week’s LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship and she is now trying to take home win No. 10 in Taiwan. With her 7-under 65 on Friday to move into a share of the lead with Inbee Park, Pettersen has put herself in contention for yet another possible victory.
“I played really solid on the Front 9,” Pettersen said. “I gave myself three good looks on the first three holes, chipped it in on the fourth, and really just tried to stay aggressive, and when I made the turn, I figured it's time to kind of shift to the fifth gear, and it's nice when the body reacts to your kind of mind game, and really just tried to stay aggressive and firing at the pins.”
So considering her success in these overseas events, is there something special about Asia that brings out the best in her game?
“That's a good question,” Pettersen said with a smile. “I mean I love playing golf. I mean some players like to come to Asia. Other players think it's a hassle to kind of travel that far. I really just try to embrace wherever I go. Last week I really enjoyed Korea. This week I'm really enjoying Sunrise because this is the place I've been all week and I'll be for the next two days. So I'm really just trying to when I'm on the golf course work, and when I'm off the course, just really give myself a break, do something completely different and really just look forward to getting on the course the next day.”
Going low again…It’s hard to argue that anyone is playing better golf on the LPGA Tour right now than Inbee Park.
The first-round leader of the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship maintained a share of the lead after 36 holes of play, shooting a 3-under 69 in Friday’s second round.
Even when it appeared that Park might be in line for a rough day, as she was 1-over-par through her first five holes, she managed to get hot once again. Park birdied four straight holes to close out her front nine and then hung in on the back nine, following up a bogey on 17 with a birdie on the 18th. It continued what has been a remarkable few months for Park, who has shot in the 60s in 24 of her last 39 rounds on the LPGA Tour.
“At the first birdie, I made a putt, I think about a 15‑footer, and I wasn't really comfortable with the putter after missing two short putts early in the round, so I just needed that one putt to fall, and that fell and just gave me a lot of confidence after that,” Park said of getting her round going on Friday. “And then I hit a couple shots close after that. So four birdies in a row was the highlight of the day today.”
With this tremendous stretch of play, Park has been making a run at many of the LPGA’s season-ending honors. Park currently is the leading money winner on the 2012 LPGA Money List with $1,979,926 in season earnings. She’s also closing in on Rolex Rankings No. 2 Stacy Lewis in the Rolex Player of the Year race. Lewis currently leads Park by 40 points, although The Woodlands, Texas native, who is trying to become the first American to win the honor since Beth Daniel in 1994, is not in the field this week. A win here in Taiwan would give Park another 30 points in the race and put her very close to the lead.
“I mean if I end up getting Player of the Year, I think that's the first time as a Korean,” Park said. “I mean looking at all the Korean players playing, I thought there would have been ‑‑ somebody would have gotten that, but nobody got it, so I was really surprised with the result. If I would be the first one, it would be a really great honor and it would be a gift for me.”
Anything you can do, I can do better…There were plenty of cheers from the crowd for hometown favorite Yani Tseng on Friday but the loudest of the day came on the 18th. That’s when Tseng and her fellow playing partner, Inbee Park, played a “who can hit it closer?” contest with their approach shots into the par-5 hole.
Right after Park nearly holed out her shot and left herself with a tap-in, Tseng followed it up with a dart of her own. Tseng’s third shot also nearly went in for eagle and in fact, based on the roar of the crowd, the No. 1 player in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings thought she had holed it.
“The crowd goes like crazy. It was like ‑‑ it just make me goose bumps, and I thought my ball was in, but it's not, because it just sounds like my ball was in,” Tseng said. “But after Inbee hit that shot, I tell myself I gotta hit Inbee's ball, and Inbee's ball goes in and the crowd goes like crazy. So I was pretty close. I almost hit her ball, but I thought maybe I would hit her ball and my ball goes in. You never know.
“But it's just fun. I mean the crowd give me so much support today and because every time I make a putt, I mean the crowd just goes crazy. So I mean they let me keep my smile always going on, and they're always telling me to keep it up, keep up the good work and always giving me great support. So I'm very appreciative.”
Next time is the charm? Catriona Matthew fell just shy of capturing her fifth career LPGA victory last week at the LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship, losing to Suzann Pettersen in a three-hole playoff. After the tournament, Matthew tweeted a congratulatory message to Pettersen while adding at the end of her tweet “…next time!”
Perhaps, Matthew was right that her next win is right around the corner.
Matthew has carried over her strong play to this week’s event in Taiwan. The 43-year-old fired a 6-under 66 to move into a tie for third with Yani Tseng at 8-under-par. Last week marked Matthew’s fourth straight top-10 finish and so far during this Asian swing, Matthew has finished fourth in Malaysia and then runner-up in Korea.
“I think I've really played pretty well since was it July or August and the Irish Open, which I won,” said Matthew. “I've been playing not too badly the first half of the season, but just not putting the scores together, and then I think the win in Ireland just gave me that little bit of confidence, and just holing more putts makes all the difference.”
Where’s the wind? Early in the week all of the talk was about the gusty winds that plagued players during Tuesday’s practice rounds and Wednesday’s pro-am. But over the first two days of tournament play, that strong Taiwanese wind has been nowhere to be found and thus it has resulted in many low scores.
“I'm really just trying to enjoy this while it lasts because tomorrow could be a completely different day out there,” said Suzann Pettersen, who shot a 7-under 65 on Friday. “Obviously first time I played this course with the slight breeze into on 17. I played here nine, I don't know, nine or ten ‑‑ nine rounds total, and just feeling really good. I've been sweating a lot. I don't know if I have a fever, I have a cold coming on, but watch out for the sick golfer.”
Other players have been surprised as well to see that the wind has been kept at bay over the first two rounds but not everyone is wishing for it to stay that way.
“I was totally very surprised,” Yani Tseng said of the lack of wind. “I probably never been playing in this kind of wind for a long time on this golf course because it's always very windy here. I mean you never know. Hopefully the wind picks up a little bit because I think it will make more challenge.”
Quotable: “It's no surprise at all. Probably they are surprised to see my name on there. (Laughs). So they better watch out now. So I'm just really happy to see my name on the board and hopefully on the weekend I'll enjoy and I'll enjoy to play with the best player. So I mean I just want to go out there and have fun and enjoy all the crowd.” – Yani Tseng on seeing many of the same names that have been playing well recently up near the top of the leaderboard.
Of Note…Lexi Thompson had a rollercoaster round on Friday, finishing with four birdies, five bogeys and two eagles to shoot a 3-under 69 and move into a TXXX at 3-under-par…The par-3 11th hole played as toughest hole on Friday with only one player making birdie there on the day, Alison Walshe…Se Ri Pak and Jeong Jang withdrew during Friday’s second round. Pak said she withdrew due to lingering back troubles that also forced her not to play in Malaysia two weeks agao.
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome one of our current leaders, Inbee Park into the interview room. Congratulations. Another solid round today, a 3‑under par 69, tied for the lead with Suzann Pettersen at 10‑under par. Take me through that day of quite an exciting finish to the round that we all got to see. What was working well for you, and I know it got off to a slow start, but then you got things going a little bit later in the round.
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I think I had about two short putts missed early in the round. I mean it was hard to get my momentum going after that. And I finally did it and I made four birdies in a row on the Front 9 and the Back 9 I just didn't hit it any close. So it was a little bit slow on the Back 9, but the last hole just makes everything really for giving.
THE MODERATOR: Take me through those four birdies that you had on the Front 9. Like you said, a slow start, but all of a sudden things started going. When you get on a roll like that, how confident do you get going each hole that the streak is going to continue?
INBEE PARK: At the first birdie, I made a putt, I think about a 15‑footer, and I wasn't really comfortable with the putter after missing two short putts, so I just needed that one putt to fall, and that fell and just gave me a lot of confidence after that. And then I hit a couple shots close after that. So four birdies was the highlight of the day today.
THE MODERATOR: On the 18th hole you and Yani exchanged nearly identical approach shots – we were all impressed by those shots. Can you just take me through watching that and what was that like when you hit it almost in and then to watch her do it too?
INBEE PARK: It was a really exciting finish, especially for Yani, too, because she has a lot of fans, and she gave a lot of them a lot of surprise on the last hole. So I was happy for her.
It would have been great if either one of us or two of us would have went in, but it just didn't happen. Maybe tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: And what was your distance on that? What did you hit in there?
INBEE PARK: 120 pitching wedge.
Q. With all the crowds following Yani today, was it more pressure?
INBEE PARK: No. I think pressure is more on Yani because a lot of people are expecting her to play good. I mean I felt that way in Korea last week. It was kind of expected coming here that there is going to be a lot of fans for Yani. It's her country and it's good. I don't have much pressure. I just go out there and have fun.
Q. You played with Yani last week?
INBEE PARK: No.
THE MODERATOR: Inbee, the way you've been playing lately, you've put yourself up at the top of the money list and now you're starting to kind of close in on Stacy Lewis in the Rolex Player of the Year award. What would it mean for you to win these types of honors, and having been out here for six years, to see yourself up there to finish at the top of these races, what does that mean to you.
INBEE PARK: I mean if I end up getting Player of the Year, I think that's the first time as a Korean. I mean looking at all the Korean players playing, I thought there would have been ‑‑ somebody would have gotten that, but nobody got it, so I was really surprised with the result.
If I would be the first one, it would be a really great honor and it would be a gift for me.
Q. How would you describe your swing because a lot of texts are saying that you have one of the most easy swings on the LPGA Tour. Tell us the secret.
INBEE PARK: I mean there is no secret. I mean there is a lot of ‑‑ I mean not a lot of them, but some slow swingers out on the tour. Ai is one of them as far as slow swingers.
I think swinging slow and easy just prevents from the injury, I think, and it makes me play for longer and just for consistent, I think.
Q. Do you copy your swing from anyone else like Ernie Els or anybody?
INBEE PARK: No.
Q. What it be all right if a journalist will describe your swing like a Miss Easy Swing?
INBEE PARK: What is it? Sorry.
Q. Like Miss Easy Swing?
INBEE PARK: Easy swing?
THE MODERATOR: You know how they call like Ernie Els "The Big Easy." They would call you miss easy swing.
INBEE PARK: Oh. I think that's a good thing. (Laughs).
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome our current leader, Suzann Pettersen into the interview room. Congratulations. A great 7‑under round today. Tied the tournament record.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: That's another course record? (Laughs).
THE MODERATOR: You're just racking these up this trip. Can you just take me through your day? You really got things going on the back side. What was the big key for you?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: You know, I played really solid on the Front 9. I gave myself three good looks on the first three holes, chipped it in on the fourth, and really just tried to stay aggressive, and when I made the turn, I figured it's time to kind of shift to the fifth gear, and it's nice when the body reacts to your kind of mind game, and really just tried to stay aggressive and firing at the pins.
THE MODERATOR: I was talking with Catriona about the difference this year with the wind. Everybody expected earlier in the week when the wind was picking up. How surprised were you guys to see these calm conditions and how important was it to be able to take advantage and shoot low early.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I'm really just trying to enjoy this while it lasts because tomorrow could be a completely different day out there.
Obviously first time I played this course with the slight breeze into on 17. I played here nine, I don't know, nine or ten ‑‑ nine rounds total, and just feeling really good.
I've been sweating a lot. I don't know if I have a fever, I have a cold coming on, but watch out for the sick golfer
Q. I know you've got a new caddie on the bag. The last three weeks have gone pretty well. What's the difference he's been having for you in your game or what kind of I guess difference are you noticing on the golf course.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I don't know if I should give him the credit or if it's actually my game that's actually clicking. He's actually joined at the right time. I just feel my game is ‑‑ I'm playing good golf. I'm putting a lot better. Made a little adjust last week in Korea and it kind of feels like it's keeping up with me.
I think having someone on the bag out there on the course that kind of can give me a break from kind of my intensity, I think I've laughed and kind of smiled more the last three weeks than I have for the last ten years. Even in Malaysia I could hardly hit a golf shot I was just laughing so hard. So it was just nice to kind of enjoy myself and at the same time knowing my game is right there. And like I said, just trying to stay aggressive.
THE MODERATOR: We're only through two rounds and you got two rounds to go, but the last time that you won back‑to‑back events was in 2007. It was on one of these Asian swings when you won in Korea and then in Thailand. What is it about playing in Asia that seems to bring out some of the best of your game.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: That's a good question. I mean I love playing golf. I mean some players like to come to Asia. Other players think it's a hassle to kind of travel that far. I really just try to embrace wherever I go. Last week I really enjoyed Korea. This week I'm really enjoying Sunrise because this is the place I've been all week and I'll be for the next two days. So I'm really just trying to when I'm on the golf course work, and when I'm off the course, just really give myself a break, do something completely different and really just look forward to getting on the course the next day.
THE MODERATOR: Solid day out there. I know probably not as low as you would have wanted your round to be, but just take me through the day.
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I played pretty good. Just a couple of shots the distance second shot is not as good as yesterday, and just I think I need to be more committing on the shot and hitting the ball, and today my iron is not as good as yesterday, so I think it's more like wind and the distance. So tomorrow I'll stay the same strategy, maybe be a little aggressive.
And I'm very happy to finish with birdie on the last hole and big save on the number 17, so it makes my day, so I'm very happy right now and hopefully real good sleep tonight and tomorrow really looking forward to tomorrow. Have all the big crowds.
THE MODERATOR: It's nice to be saying a 3‑under par round is probably not ideal.
YANI TSENG: I know.
THE MODERATOR: Take me through I was talking to Inbee about 18. You guys both hit those amazing shots. What was the crowd reaction like and what was the atmosphere like.
YANI TSENG: The crowd goes like crazy. It was like ‑‑ it just make me goose bumps, and I thought my ball was in, but it's not, because it just sounds like my ball was in.
But after Inbee hit that shot, I tell myself I gotta hit Inbee's ball, and Inbee's ball goes in and the crowd goes like crazy. So I was pretty close. I almost hit her ball, but I thought maybe I would hit her ball and my ball goes in. You never know.
But it's just fun. I mean the crowd give me so much support today and because every time I make a putt, I mean the crowd just goes crazy. So I mean they let me keep my smile always going on, and they're always telling me to keep it up, keep up the good work and always giving me great support. So I'm very appreciative.
THE MODERATOR: Overall we've been talking about how calm the wind has been and how beautiful this weather is. How surprised have you been by these conditions?
YANI TSENG: I was totally very surprised. I probably never been playing in this kind of wind for a long time on this golf course because it's always very windy here. I mean you never know. Hopefully the wind picks up a little bit because I think it will make more challenge.
THE MODERATOR: We've seen how well Inbee has been playing and Suzann, Catriona battled it out last week for the title. Is it not a surprise to see all those names up there at the top of the leaderboard right now?
YANI TSENG: No. It's no surprise at all. Probably they are surprised to see my name on there. (Laughs). So they better watch out now. So I'm just really happy to see my name on the board and hopefully on the weekend I'll enjoy and I'll enjoy to play with the best player. So I mean I just want to go out there and have fun and enjoy all the crowd.
Q. Yani, you know this course very well. You practiced here for like six or seven years as an amateur. Has there been any change in terms of your game, like improvement on your game?
YANI TSENG: Yeah. I recognize because sometimes I know what tee I play and I feel the fairway was much wider when I played an amateur. But it's no change. It must be my skills getting better and better, and some of the par‑5s I can go for, but before I always lay up. So it just change a lot to see on this golf course and just feel ‑‑ like right now I turn pro and my skills getting better, my confidence level was better. So when I see this golf course, it just feel very comfortable for me because I practice here. I know where I going to hit and I just know the course very well.
Q. I was following you a couple of holes today, and actually I was admiring the spectators' reactions. What did the crowd, spectators reaction to your bad and your good shots?
YANI TSENG: I know sometimes it's a little tough because like yesterday or today when I missed three or four‑feet putt they were like don't scare. Just putt it. I know. In my mind I was like, I want to putt it in. I want to make it, too. Someone was like just keep relaxed, don't worry. And come on, you just missed a four‑foot putt. It's very easy to hear that, but most of the people always give me very, very big support. So I mean I very, very appreciate.
Q. That was the question when you asked in the interview before, how she felt when she played with you because of pressure that was on you.
YANI TSENG: You mean Inbee?
Q. Oh, sorry. Yeah. And how was her feeling about how she felt when they follow you in the same flight with so much pressure and so much demand from the public, from the spectators.
YANI TSENG: So you're asking me ‑‑
Q. How you feel.
YANI TSENG: How I look? I mean sometime I feel ‑‑ I won't say feel bad. Maybe a little bit because sometime when she playing and people are taking cameras, but when I'm playing the people take cameras, too, but I just want they to show the respect for the player that no cameras when they're playing or when they putt or when they make birdie give them the big crowd. And I think they did.
I know golf has become more popular here and I think the people here are learning, too. So at the end it's getting so much better, so I think we just need to teach them more when we play, no camera. When we go back swing, no camera. We just really need to teach them how to watch the golf, because every time we go to like Europe or the States, everybody is very polite, but in Asia it's always different. So all the players we all expect in Asia it's going to be camera everywhere. Asia, Korea, Taiwan, everybody. (Laughs). So we all expect that.
But we are very happy because we don't get this crowd in America, like Malaysia, Korea, Taiwan. We never get this crowd. Expect maybe U. S. Open or Solheim Cup. So all the player are happy to be here.
Q. And there are about, what, eight other Taiwanese players playing in this field? Nine? Do you have any advice you can give to them?
YANI TSENG: This is a great experience. When I was amateur I don't have this experience to play on the LPGA Tour because it's my dream. So they should feel the dream come true. I mean Paula standing right next to you. Michelle Wie is right there. So I never have that feel when I was amateur. This is a great experience for them to compete, too, to show them how far away they are from the best golfer.
And from those dreams they know what they should work on to get better in the LPGA, and I think this is a wonderful experience. So after this I think they will have a better clear goal to know what they're going to do in the future.
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Catriona Matthew into the interview room. Congratulations. A great 6‑under 66 today to put you up right now currently in third. Take me through the day out there and what was really working well for you.
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, I got off to a really good start. I birdied the first two holes and pretty close the first three, then birdied the two par‑5s on the Front 9. So had a really good Front 9. And then just didn't do quite as well on the Back 9, didn't give myself quite as many chances, but threw in a couple of birdies. So a good day.
THE MODERATOR: The weather has been really calm the last couple days and we've seen scores go pretty low. How surprised were you not to have any wind the past couple days, and is it really important to take advantage of these scoring opportunities when you get them?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, definitely. After last year, I think everyone was coming here expecting it to be windy and then it was windy on the practice day and the pro am. So it was quite nice to wake up and look at the flags and see they're not blowing too hard.
THE MODERATOR: Your game has really seemed to be coming together at the end of the year, four straight top finishes coming into this week. What's been the biggest difference for you in your game of late?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah. I mean I think I've really played pretty well since was it July or August and the Irish Open, which I won. I've been playing not too badly the first half of the season, but just not putting the scores together, and then I think the win in Ireland just gave me that little bit of confidence, and just holing more putts makes all the difference.
THE MODERATOR: You talked about your game all coming together, but on this Asian swing it seems even more better than before, fourth place finish in Malaysia. Second place last week after losing in the playoff to Suzann. Do you feel like that next win on the LPGA Tour is getting closer?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Definitely. Hopefully I'll give myself a chance this week. I've played really well the last two weeks, so I think you just need to keep giving yourself chances and one of these times you'll get the win.
Q. If you could choose, will you prefer the windy day or the calm, sunny day like today?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: I would say I quite like the sunny days.
Q. This is your 18th year as a pro. How do you stay in contention after being on tour that long?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah. This is my 18th year, yeah. You know, I think in the off season I've always from my first year I've always taken like six weeks off, but I'll play the CME at the end of the year and are probably won't touch a club again until January. So I think that break always does me good and gets me refreshed and ready for the season.
Why I'm still playing well at this age, I don't really know, to be honest. I just keep practicing, keep enjoying it. I think as long as you enjoy it, it always helps.
Q. Some younger players were eager to practice more. Do you see that? And you say you will not touch a club in six weeks. Is that the secret you can keep going?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: I think, honestly, everyone is different. I find that's really what's worked for me, but certainly last year I think I played on Sunday at CME and my next 18 holes was in Thailand first round. So that's going to be a little less preparation.
But yeah, I will start practicing January and play nine holes, but with two small children I don't have a whole lot of time. And that's why I like living in Scotland because the weather is so bad, you don't feel bad about not going out.
Q. You were born and raised in Scotland; right?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah.
Q. And I was watching you before when you were getting interviewed to some other media, and they said that you prefer sunny weather. But I think you have some advantages in sunny weather, and actually Yani said yesterday she would prefer some windy. So who do you think will have the most advantage there, you or Yani?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Well, Yani is world No. 1. Well, from last year it gets pretty windy in Taiwan.
Q. You see a lot of South Korean players on the LPGA Tour now. Why do you think they are so successful?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah. I mean I don't know. I think a lot of other countries should be looking at what they do with their juniors because they just seem to keep producing lots of great girls coming out and joining the tour with all those really good golf swings. So I'm sure other countries are looking to see what they do to try and copy it really.
Q. In your 18 years have you ever been mentally tired and too tired to play anymore, and how do you overcome that kind of situation?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Obviously there's been times when you haven't been playing particularly well, and I think you get more tired if you're not playing well.
But yeah, like I say, I've tried to pace myself. I think if you're going to play for a lot of years, you do have to kind of ‑‑ you can't play every day. But I think your first few years on tour you may just have to find out what suits you best, whether it's practicing every day, whether it's taking a break.
But I think it's all up to the individual really. Taking a break's helped me. It's helped me keep playing for longer than some of the others maybe do, but again, I think it's all just trial and error. Your first few years on tour you find out how many tours you can play in a row and I've been out here long enough, I should know what to do now.
Q. You played with Hyo Joo Kim today, and this is her second tournament as a pro. Is there any advice you can give her?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah. She was a good player. Hit the ball well. I think obviously just stick at it and keep doing what she's doing really. Obviously it comes down to the short game a little bit and a bit of course management. But she's a good player, she's certainly got potential to be a good player.