Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship Pre-tournament Notes and Interviews

Fans line the 9th hole
Photo Credit: Victor Fraile/Getty Images

Yani Tseng' supporters stand along the 9th hole during day four of the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship

Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship
Sunrise Golf & Country Club
Yang Mei, Taoyuan, Taiwan
Pre-tournament Notes and Interviews
October 23, 2012

Yani Tseng, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Paula Creamer, Rolex Rankings No. 10
Sandra Gal, Rolex Rankings No. 29
Michelle Wie, Rolex Rankings No. 52

The LPGA Tour heads to Taiwan this week for the third event of the Tour’s fall Asian swing, the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship. The Sunrise Golf & Country Club will host a field of 78 players, 74 professionals and 4 amateurs in the second year of the no-cut event. Players will be competing for a $2 million purse and a $300,000 first-place prize.

Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng returns home to Taiwan in hopes of defending her title. Last year, Tseng captured a five-stroke, runaway victory at the inaugural Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship in her home country. It was the seventh and final LPGA victory for Tseng during her dominant 2011 season in which she captured Rolex Player of the Year honor and the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average.

An artful greeting: The LPGA was welcomed back to Taiwan on a grand stage for the second year of the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship. On Tuesday afternoon, Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng, Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie and Sandra Gal gathered at the National Palace Museum, one of Taipei’s most iconic landmarks, to celebrate the return of this event.

Speaking before a large media contingent of nearly 100 reporters, the players all spoke of how excited they were to be in Taiwan and to hopefully see a repeat of the large crowds that packed the Sunrise Golf & Country last year during the inaugural event. Michelle Wie, who is making her first ever trip to Taiwan, took the opportunity to greet the throng of media in attendance with a few words in Mandarin Chinese which elicited a huge round of applause.

“I’m really looking forward to all of the Taiwanese fans. I hear a lot of people come to the event,” Wie said. “I’m looking forward to seeing all of the fans at the course. More importantly I’m excited for all of the yummy foods here. So I’m excited for this week.”

As they gathered at one of the world’s largest art museums, the players were taught the art of traditional Chinese calligraphy. The four LPGA players along with LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan, Sunrise Chairman Tien-Ya Hsu, Audi Taiwan President Daniel Khoo and IMG Golf co-managing global director Robbie Henchman helped to spell out the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship.

Watch out for the Wind! Yani Tseng has said that one of the keys to her victory in Taiwan last year was the local knowledge she gained from having grown up playing this golf course. But of course, she also credited her ability of knowing how to manage the breezy conditions that are frequently found at the Sunrise Golf & Country Club and the wind will likely be a factor once again at this year’s event.

As players headed out on the course Tuesday for their practice rounds, the winds picked up and provided a glimpse at the test that they could face during the four days of the 72-hole event.

“I think it’s all about the wind here this week, having a good trajectory in the wind and being consistent,” said Sandra Gal, who is playing in the event for the second time. “I think putting is a big deal as well because the winds are very strong and it’s kind of hilly. So just kind of adjusting to that and I think you’ll be good.”

Smile + Power:  Yani Tseng ‘s personal motto has always been to “keep smile” when she’s on the golf course. Now the No. 1 player in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings is trying to give fans in her native Taiwan a glimpse into her life behind that smile and her rise into taking over the top spot in women’s golf.

On Monday in Taipei, Tseng helped kick off the start of the Yani’s Smile and Courage Exhibition. The event, which is taking place in a local mall, features some of her personal writings including a diary she kept during the 2010 RICOH Women’s British Open; yardage books with her own handwritten notes; photos and other personal artifacts in an “18-hole” style format. The exhibition runs Oct. 22-Nov. 4 in Taipei.

“I think it’s very cool,” Tseng said of the exhibition. “I think my team and all my staff are doing a great job putting this all together. It kind of reminded me, wow this is how much I’ve been through these past few years with my golf professional life. I was really happy to see it. I hope that we can use this exhibition to inspire more people to dream big because you never know if one day it will happen, just like me.

“I want to let people know more about golf because you always see it from the outside and not inside into what we are thinking. What we are trying to do with a yardage book. It’s kind of special because I never show any people that, my yardage book. I think it’s a great opportunity for people to see it. I really want to thank my team because they did a good job on that exhibition because they’ve been working on it 3-4 months, I think it came out perfect.”

The press conference also helped mark the launch of Tseng’s international fan club. And as part of the festivities, Tseng was joined at the kick-off of her exhibition by Taiwanese taekwondo athlete Tseng Li-cheng, who won a bronze medal at the London Olympics.

Monday’s event was meant to be a celebration of Tseng’s return to Taiwan but the day also became emotional for the 23-year-old. Her eyes filled with tears as she recounted the ups and downs she has faced since becoming the women’s world No. 1 golfer.

“I just want to let people know this is not easy but I’m still working really hard and doing my best to keep world No. 1 and to really enjoy the life,” Tseng said. “It’s very hard for me the past 3-4 months and now it’s getting better. I wish the fans keep supporting me no matter how I play.”

Tseng won 12 championships in 2011, including seven LPGA Tour titles. She got off to a hot start again this season, winning three of the LPGA’s first five events in 2012 but her season started to take a downturn back in June. She went a stretch of 11 consecutive tournaments without a top-10 finish, which included three missed cuts, until she finally broke through with a third-place finish at last week’s LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship.

Quotable: “Hopefully pretty close. It’s been kind of an up-and-down year but the last few months have been a lot more solid for me. I’m just enjoying myself out on the golf course and working very hard. It’s only a matter of time and just hopefully I can put together four good days of golf here.” – Rolex Rankings No. 10 Paula Creamer when asked how close she is to capturing her 10th career LPGA victory.

 Tweet of the Day: Goes to seven-year LPGA veteran Karin Sjodin who summed up what players can often be found doing during practice days on the road…

“Laundry time! Please look for me at the laundromat down the hill if I'm not back by dinner... #GlamorousLpgaLife” -- @karin_sjodin

YANI TSENG, Rolex Rankings No. 1

Q. Today you kicked off a special exhibition called Yani’s Smile and Courage Exhibition that will introduce fans to your life behind the scenes. What did you think of all the people that showed up to witness this event?

YANI TSENG: I think it’s very cool. I think my team and all my staff are doing a great job putting this all together. It  kind of reminded me, wow this is how much I’ve been through these few years with my golf professional life. I was really happy to see it. I hope that we can use this exhibition to inspire more people to dream big because you never know if one day it will happen, just like me. There are  so many things I want to do with this exhibition – let them know more about golf because you always see it from the outside and not inside into what we are thinking. What we are trying to do with a yardage book. It’s kind of special because I never show any people that, my yardage book because I always talk about BS in there. I think it’s a great opportunity for people to see it. I really want to thank my team because they did a good job on that exhibition because they’ve been working on it 3-4 months, I think it came out perfect.

I just learned about this exhibition about 2-3 weeks ago. My team probably wanted people to know how tough it is to be No.1. This year when I went through this stretch and only had one top-10 in awhile, people say I’ve been struggling. So really golf is not that easy. There’s no winning without losing and no losing without winning.

I just want to let people know this is not easy but I’m still working really hard and doing my best to keep world No. 1 and to really enjoy the life. It’s very hard for me the past 3-4 months and now it’s getting better. I wish the fans keep supporting me no matter how I play.

Q. You got emotional a few times during the press conference, including during one of the videos that played. What caused you to tear up?

YANI TSENG: The video, there were a few words I said about how tough things were. I asked Annika a few things before I became No. 1, the year before I did. She told me that world No. 1 is the loneliest place on the earth. At the time  I couldn’t feel anything, I was like no, I’m happy. I feel I’m happy as a person. I have so many friends, support from media, fans and my team. Everybody is happy and I don’t feel anything. As it become longer at No. 1, I feel more and more pressure and everybody is trying to grab every piece of me. When you play good, everything is good but when you don’t play so good, everything is bad. Even when you think there are good things, they still say bad things. It’s very hard. At that time, I feel sad and I feel no one knows how hard I work and how many tears, they only know the score. At that time, I feel very lonely because no one understand since they haven’t been world No. 1 before. So I’m the only one that knows this and I now know what Annika is saying. I don’t like to say lonely. Golf is hard work or something because at least I feel happy, I love this game and I am happy to work hard. I think that’s why I got tears because I was very emotional.

Q. You talk a lot about smiling and how important it is to you. A large part of this exhibition has to do with your focus on smiling. Why is smiling such a big thing for you?

YANI TSENG: A smile helps me to be brave to let me keep going forward. I use my smile through every challenge. It’s not just golf. No matter what you face to in life, just smile through it and things will go easier.

PAULA CREAMER, Rolex Rankings No. 10

Q. You’ve been very consistent so far this year. How close are you to getting back in the winner’s circle?

PAULA CREAMER: Hopefully pretty close. It’s been kind of an up-and-down year but the last few months have been a lot more solid for me. I’m just enjoying myself out on the golf course and working very hard. It’s only a matter of time and just hopefully I can put together four good days of golf here.

Q. Paula, this is the second time you’ve come to Taiwan and the weather is supposed to be a little different. But it’s better for the players to wint he tournament. What do you think about this week and what do you think about winning this tournament?

PAULA CREAMER: I had such a great time when I came for Swinging Skirts [last December]. The weather obviously was a little bit rainy, windy and cold but it will be nice to play in normal conditions out there – not quite as drastic as when we were here. But most importantly it’s nice to come with all of the fans. Last year I heard that there was just so many people. That’s going to be exciting to come out and play in front of all of these fans.

SANDRA GAL, Rolex Rankings No. 29

Q. you played here in this tournament last year. What do you think it will take to turn in a low score at Sunrise?

SANDRA GAL: I think it’s all about the wind here this week, having a good trajectory in the wind and being consistent. I think putting is a big deal as well because the winds are very strong and it’s kind of hilly. So just kind of adjusting to that and I think you’ll be good.

MICHELLE WIE, Rolex Rankings No. 52

Q. This is your first time here in Taiwan, what are your expectations this week?

MICHELLE WIE: I have a lot of expectations here. I’m really looking forward to all of the Taiwanese fans. I hear a lot of people come to the event. I’m looking forward to seeing all of the fans at the course. More importantly I’m excited for all of the yummy foods here. So I’m excited for this week.

Q. What have your impressions been of Taiwan so far?

MICHELLE WIE: I love it here so far. The warm welcome at the airport. I played 18 holes today and the golf course looks great. It’s in great conditions and really windy. This is my first time in Taiwan and I’m excited to see the town today.

 

 

 

                                                                       

 

Topics: Notes and Interviews, LPGA Taiwan Championship, Tseng, Yani, Creamer, Paula, Gal, Sandra, Wie, Michelle [+]

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