Guadalajara Country Club
November 7, 2012
Pre-Tournament Notes and Interviews
Catriona Matthew, Rolex Rankings No. 13
I.K Kim, Rolex Rankings No. 18
Michelle Wie, Rolex Rankings No. 52
Angela Stanford, Rolex Rankings No. 19
The second to last event of the 2012 season kicks off this week in Mexico at the Guadalajara Country Club where tournament host and 27-time winner on the LPGA Tour Lorena Ochoa makes her first appearance since 2010.
The fifth annual Lorena Ochoa Invitational presented by Banamex and Jalisco highlights a star-studded field of 36 players vying for a $150,000 first-place prize from its $1 million purse. Scotland’s Catriona Matthew looks to defend her title for her 5th career victory following a powerful performance at last year’s event where she won by four-strokes over Anna Nordqvist and I.K. Kim. The 18-year veteran enters the week after adding her fifth straight top-10 finish to her résumé this season at the Sunrise LPGA Championship presented by Audi.
The field also consists of six of the top-10 players in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings including No. 1 Yani Tseng, No. 2 Stacy Lewis and No. 4 Inbee Park.
Lewis is coming off her fifth-career LPGA victory at the Mizuno Classic where she came from a seven-stroke deficit to defeat second-round leader and JLPGA member Bo-Mee Lee. Lewis strengthened her lead in the Rolex Player of the Year race to 214 points giving her a 58 point lead over Park, who leads the 2012 Official Money list with more than $2.1 million.
Tseng also had strong performances throughout the Asia swing with back-to-back third place finishes in Korea and Taiwan, finishing with a fourth-place finish in Japan.
Putting on a show… Lorena Ochoa’s accolades she has acquired on the golf course are insurmountable but what she has done for junior golf through her foundation is just as impressive. Yesterday, several kids from her foundation, the Lorena Ochoa Foundation, made a trip to Guadalajara Country Club to get a first-hand glimpse of Ochoa hitting a variety of golf shots, get her autograph, and ask questions.
“This clinic yesterday was a lot of fun,” said Ochoa. “It was fun to be out there with the kids and I think they are so small a lot of times they don’t know what to think but it was nice to see them out there having fun and see their parents get so excited about getting their kids involved in golf and grow to love the game. It is always fun to be able to do that and hopefully tomorrow the kids will come out with their parents and see the tournament.”
The three-time Rolex Player of the Year stepped away from the game on April 20, 2010 at the young age of 28 to give her undivided attention to starting a family and along the way; she began the Lorena Ochoa Foundation which is designed to give children and adults the opportunity to partake in family based health, fitness, education and inclusion programs delivered through family golf activities.
While Ochoa devotes the majority of her time to her family and foundation, the 27-time LPGA Tour winner returns to play the tournament she hosts after a year break in 2011.
“I´m very happy to be playing,” said Ochoa. “I´m glad to be back playing good golf and I’m excited for tomorrow to be playing the first round of the tournament and to all of you thanks for coming.”
Despite her excitement to play in this week’s event in front of a hometown crowd, do not expect to see Ochoa with a full-time schedule on the LPGA anytime soon.
“I wouldn’t change this for anything,” said Ochoa. “I’m happy with what I’m doing I don’t see myself again on the LPGA tour it’s a tough schedule, I’m happy having a soon and hopefully our family will grow next year.”
What a Place! This week’s Lorena Ochoa Invitational Presented by Banamex and Jalisco is set to play on the infamous Guadalajara Country Club and according to former champions Michelle Wie and Angela Stanford, the course ranks a favorite amongst many LPGA Tour players.
The course and tournament holds a significantly important place in Wie’s heart as it is the exact location where she hoisted her first LPGA trophy after her victory in 2009. While she raved about the pristine condition of the golf course, she also acknowledged the tasty foods and supportive crowds.
“Nothing is really different,” said Wie of the difference between when she won and now. “The weather is perfect, the guacamole still tastes really good, and the people are great. I think the one thing that has been different every year is the amount of people coming out and watching the event. It’s great to see the golf course in perfect condition.”
Stanford, who became the first winner of the event in its inaugural year in 2008, is honored to not only be the first champion but to play on a golf course that is always in above par condition.
“I think this is one of the best golf courses we play on our schedule,” said Stanford. “I feel very honored that I got to be the first winner and catch everyone off guard a bit.”
When Wie was asked to summarize this week’s tournament in one word, the two-time LPGA winner summed it up perfectly with, “classy”.
“My one word would be classy,” said Wie. “I think this event is very classy, I think the way Lorena and Alejandro (Ochoa) handle the tournament. Like Angela said the course. It´s first class from the hotel where we stay to the course to the tequila it’s a classy event.”
On a Roll… With only two events remaining on this year’s LPGA Tour schedule, defending champion Catriona Matthew is still in search of her first victory this season. If her play as of late is any indication as to how this week will unfold for the four-time LPGA winner, look for her to be in the hunt down the stretch on Sunday.
Matthew’s confidence was sky rocketed after her victory at the Ladies Irish Open in August and since the victory, she has finished in the top-10 in five out of seven tournaments and notched two fourth place finishes and runner-up in the recent Asian swing.
“The last couple of months I’ve been playing really well,” said Matthew. “I had a slow start to the year but it’s come together with the win in Ireland during the summer that really boosted my confidence and I´ve played well the last few weeks in Asia. So I look forward to these last two events of the year and hopefully just move up to that first place.
Last year, Matthew earned a four-stroke victory over Anna Nordqvist and I.K. Kim and the memories of the victorious week are still fresh in the N. Berwick Scotland native’s mind.
“To come back and play the golf course I can remember some of the shots I hit from last year. I´ve always enjoyed this golf course. It´s kind of an old fashioned golf course you just can’t bomb it out there all the time. You have to hit different shots you have to place your ball and obviously putt well on the greens so hopefully I can play well again this year.”
I’ve Got Chills, They’re Multiplying! With this week’s field featuring players from 14 different countries, the thought on many people’s minds instantly go to golf making its triumphant return to the Olympics in 2016.
When Angela Stanford was asked if she could see herself being a part of the U.S. Olympic team in 2016, she was instantly overcome with chills.
“Well I got chills when you said that so I would venture to say all of us have thought about it,” said Stanford. “I would have jumped ship a long time ago. I’m 35 so just the idea of being in the Olympics would be pretty cool so I’m going to take a chance and hang around for four more years.”
While Stanford is excited to think about the opportunity of competing in the Olympics, I.K. Kim knows she has to work hard if she wants to make the competitive South Korean team.
“Representing my country would be an honor,” said Kim. “I feel I’m on the LPGA Tour and I don’t go home very often and I definitely need to push myself because making the team there is a lot of competition as a South Korean so I better get started now.”
Moderator: I`d like to welcome everyone today for a special press conference. To my left we have I.K. Kim, Catriona Matthew, Angela Stanford, Michelle Wie and of course, Lorena Ochoa. To start things out of bit to the ladies who are former champions how does it feel to be back in Mexico?
Catriona Matthew: It feels great to come down here. I love it. I love coming down here I think the weather is like this every day. I’m sure it beats Scotland. The tournament is great so it’s always one of my favorite stops on tour.
Angela Stanford: I have to echo all of that. Obviously since the first year, I fell in love with Guadalajara and the Guadalajara Country club and any time you have a hostess such as Lorena you´re going to have a great event so I love coming down here every year.
Moderator: Now for Lorena , Lorena you didn´t play last year because you were pregnant. This year you´re playing but you`re also tournament hostess, what does the week hold for you?
Lorena Ochoa: I´m very happy to be playing. I´m glad to be back playing good golf and I’m xcited for tomorrow to be playing the first round of the tournament and to all of you thanks for coming.
Moderator: Angela and Lorena you both got your starts on the Symetra, Futures Tour can you tell us how that shaped your careers?
Lorena Ochoa: We got started on the Symetra Tour. A couple of the Mexicans also got their start there. It´s important to get that base of collegiate golf to then be able to have a solid career on the LPGA tour.
Moderator: For Catriona, In the past 5 starts you´ve finished no worst then tied for 10th with only two events left in the year you have to feel pretty confident about your chances of getting a win.
Catriona Matthew: Yes, the last couple of months I’ve been playing really well. I had a slow start to the year but it’s come together with the win in Ireland during the summer that really boosted my confidence and I´ve played well the last few weeks in Asia. So I look forward to these last two events of the year and hopefully just move up to that first place.
Moderator: For IK when you won here in 2010 you donated all your check to charity can you talk about how important it is to give back to the game of golf?
I.K. Kim: Well I don´t really know much about charity. I just felt it was a great thing to do. On the LPGA tour there are a lot of players who are involved with charities and foundations. I just you know I came on the tour when I was 18. What did I know? But I watched them up close and thought it was a great opportunity to learn from Lorena who really cares for the kids the foundation who works really hard and I know a lot of players who do the same thing. I´m just grateful that I have the chance to help.
Moderator: Lorena to say that you’ve done volume for the game of golf especially here in Mexico I think would be an understatement. Yesterday you had a big clinic with a pretty good turnout. How nice was it to have the kids come out and see you hit some golf shots first hand?
Lorena Ochoa: Yesterday, was a lot of fun. It was fun to be out there with the kids. I think they’re so small a lot of times they don’t know what’s going on or know what it’s all about. It was fun to see the parents who are enthusiastic and want their kids to like golf and grow a love for the game so I hope they come out during the tournament rounds with their kids and enjoy the tournament.
Moderator: Michelle this has to hold a pretty special place for you in your heart coming back to Mexico where you hoisted your first LPGA tour trophy. How does it feel to be back here and does that alone help your confidence?
Michelle Wie: Oh yeah for sure I think coming back here I have a lot of great memories especially having such a tough year coming back here and having all those memories. Getting the opportunity to come here, thanks Lorena for having me here. Hopefully I can start things up again. I´m starting from scratch this year so great timing for this week.
Question: What is different this year from the year that each of you all won?
Michelle Wie: The weather is perfect the guacamole still tastes really good and the people and maybe different this year I see more and more people coming out and to see the golf course in great shape.
Question: Clarify with your game or your personal life for all of you.
Angela Stanford: Well first off I think this is one of the best golf courses we play on our schedule I feel very honored I got to be the first winner and caught everybody off guard a little bit. I think it´s interesting to come back each year. The year I won I was hitting it a certain way and for a couple of years I was shaping it differently actually going the other way. So to come back this year and see I´m shaping it right again, it’s nice to see.
Catriona Matthew: For me obviously winning last year to come back is very fresh in my mind. To come back and play the golf course I can remember some of the shots I hit from last year. I´ve always enjoyed this golf course. It´s kind of an old fashioned golf course you just can’t bomb it out there all the time. You have to hit different shots you have to place your ball and obviously putt well on the greens so hopefully I can play well again this year.
Question: I was saying this year Lorena is back playing and everything this is one of the last tournaments on the schedule, it seems to me you have to push yourself a lot to be in this tournament if you had to describe in one word what the Lorena Ochoa Invitational has?
Angela Stanford: I would say rewarding, because it is a small field, we have a great hostess and the guacamole and honestly for me it’s a great reward for me.
Catriona Matthew: My favorite would have to be the margarita that’s what I can remember is sitting after I won having the margarita.
I.K. Kim If it goes that way I will say party I always like the party after wards. It’s hard to put in one word I feel like I’m coming home I live in San Diego. Everyone is relaxed it’s not uptight.
Michelle Wie: My one word would be classy I think this event is very classy. I think the way Lorena and Alejandro handle the tournament. Like Angela said the course. It´s first class from the hotel where we stay to the course to the tequila it’s a classy event.
Question: This year is a new era in golf four years from now it will be an Olympic sport do you see yourself playing four years from now?
Michelle Wie: I mean I definitely look at that and four years is definitely a goal of mine. I was in Copenhagen when it was announced as an Olympic sport from then on I was thinking about it and it’s definitely a goal of mine and it would be a great honor and I will definitely work my butt off to make the team.
Angela Stanford: Well I got chills when you said that so I would venture to say all of us have thought about it. I would have jumped ship a long time ago. I’m 35 so just the idea of being in the Olympics would be pretty cool so I’m going to take a chance and hang around for four more years.
Catriona Matthew: Yes, I was home and watched a lot of the Olympics in London and you get so excited, I think about shooting and sports you never watch. I’m not quite 35 but I think I’ll hand around for four years. My two daughters would be seven and nine so I think that would be great ages for them to come and experience the whole thing. It would be fun to go as a family and get the whole experience.
I.K. Kim: I feel the same way. Representing my country would be an honor and I feel I’m on the LPGA Tour and I don’t go home very often and I definitely need to push myself because making the team there is a lot of competition as a South Korean so I better get started now.
Moderator: LORENA COULD YOU SEE YOURSELF IN THE OLYMPICS.
Lorena Ochoa: NO, I DON’T SEE MYSELF PLAYING NEXT YEAR. I DON´T SEE MYSLEF PLAYING. NO ( LAUGHS)
Question: DO YOU HAVE A STRATEGY OR SOMETHING IN PARTICULAR TO BE THE FIRST TWO-TIME CHAMPION IS THERE ANY PARTICULAR STRATEGY
CATRIONA MATTHEW: I WOULD SAY ITS SUCH A STRONG FIELD ANYONE HAS GOT A CHANCE OF WINNING ALL OF US ARE HOPING OURSLEVES ANYONE IS CAPABLE OF WINNING PERHAPS IT COMES DOWN TO WHO HOLES THE PUTTS.
Question: Lorena, recently Annika Sorenstam mentioned she is having the best time of her life. By your smile, your rosy cheeks can we say you’re going through the same?
Lorena Ochoa: Yes definitely, I wouldn’t change this for anything. I’m happy with what I’m doing I don’t see myself again on the LPGA tour it’s a tough schedule, I’m happy having a soon and hopefully our family will grow next year.
Question: IK in 2010 you won the tournament and you mentioned you would donate your prize. Have any of you thought of donating something to Lorena`s event?
Àngela Stanford: Well I’m hoping to cut a deal with Lorena she'll come and play my golf tournament and I`ll give some of my prize money. Did everyone hear that?
Question: Looking at the PGA tour with the fed-ex cup and playoff system, would you like that for the LPGA season?
Angela Stanford: That’s a deep question. I don’t know honestly. I think our schedule is pretty entertaining throughout the year there are a ton of story line on tour right now. To be honest it does get exciting for those guys at the end but it doesn´t captivate me throughout the whole year. Each week we`re hitting a different part of the world were a whole different animal I think we’re ok for right now.
Michelle Wie: I`d like to also agree with that and also with our season ending CME Titleholders it’s exciting to see who qualifies each week its really exciting to see that.