Honda LPGA Thailand 2012 First-round notes and interviews

Honda LPGA Thailand 2012
Siam Country Club, Pattaya Old Course
Chonburi, Thailand
First-round notes and interviews
February 16, 2012

Ai Miyazato -5, Rolex Rankings No. 11
Karrie Webb -4, Rolex Rankings No. 20
Anna Nordqvist -4, Rolex Rankings No. 30
Numa Gulyanamitta -3, Rolex Rankings No. 373
Paula Creamer, Rolex Rankings No. 5
Yani Tseng, Rolex Rankings No. 1 and defending champion

Rolex Rankings No. 11 Ai Miyazato fired a 5-under 67 to take the first-round lead at the Honda LPGA Thailand 2012 on Thursday. Miyazato carded five birdies and no bogeys in her round on the Old Course at Siam Country Club en route to shooting the low round of the day when high temperatures and humid conditions certainly affected play.

Miyazato, who won the 2010 Honda LPGA Thailand, leads by one over a group of five players at 4-under-par - Rolex Rankings No. 3 Na Yeon Choi, No. 12 Amy Yang, No. 20 Karrie Webb, No. 30 Anna Nordqvist and LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Se Ri Pak.


Just something about this course…
It was just two years ago when Miyazato opened up the 2010 season with a victory at the Honda LPGA Thailand. Now she's off to a great start once again at the Siam Country Club, Old Course after shooting a 67 on the opening day.

Last year, when defending her title, Miyazato shot an opening-round 75. She was asked by the media after Thursday's round if there was less pressure on her this year since she's not trying to win back-to-back titles.

"No, it's actually due to the offseason" Miyazato said. "I rested well this year. I went back home and spent a couple weeks with my family. I saw my nieces and played with them together. So I had a really nice time when I was back in Japan. So that's why I was ready for the practice and I really focused my practice in the offseason. So I had a really good quality offseason.

"Last year I was kind of busy, every day was busy so I couldn't really focus my practice. I think because of that I didn't get off to a good start. But because this year everything was smooth, that's why I think I got off to a good start this year."


One is the magic number:
This week marks the start to Paula Creamer's eighth season on the LPGA Tour and she marked the occasion with something memorable - her first career LPGA hole-in-one.

Creamer holed out on the par-12th from 146 yards with a 7-iron, one hopping it straight into the cup. It was certainly one of the highlights of Creamer's round, as she particularly enjoyed the fact that she got to see it go in the hole.

"My first hole in one on the LPGA Tour and my second one ever," Creamer said. "That was pretty exciting. The funny part about it is in the practice round I told my caddy Colin that I'm going to have a hole in one this year, I know it. And then it happened today. So maybe I should say that more often.

The hole-in-one also seemed to also get things jumpstarted for the player who is currently ranked fifth in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings. Creamer, who has been working on swing changes during the offseason, finished the round with an even-par 72 and sits in a T26 after one day of play.

"I'm still trying to find a bit of my rhythm," Creamer said. "I feel good to have my first round under my belt. I'm really working hard on my golf swing so I'm probably the most technical that I've ever been. That's something I have to get used to and just being out there in competition."


Chhh…changes:
Creamer is far from the only player who has been working on swing changes during the offseason. Two of the players sitting one shot back of the lead have also been working on their own swing tweaks.

Anna Nordqvist fired a 4-under 68 to put herself into contention after the first day of play in Thailand. Nordqvist is coming off her first top-10 finish of the year at the season-opening ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open. After making the cut right on the cut line of 7-over-par, Nordqvist fired rounds of 71 and 68 on the weekend to vault into a T10 at even-par for the tournament.

"I've done some changes with Henri Reis, my swing coach," Nordqvist said. "I just keep working on my game. I feel like things are falling into place. Even last fall, I felt like a lot of the work that I've done with him was starting to pay off. So it's a work in progress but I feel like a lot of pieces are getting in place and I feel like I'm a lot more consistent."

Karrie Webb, who also shot a 4-under 68 on Thursday, has also talked about the changes that she's been working on in her own swing and was pleased with how her swing felt on the first day of the Honda LPGA Thailand.

"Yes, on the back nine especially," Webb said when asked if her swing was feeling good. "A little scratchy on the front nine but I sort of managed it. I didn't miss too many greens and I made some good two putts from long range. But on the back nine I started to hit my irons better and gave myself quite a few birdie chances."


Home sweet home:
Numa Gulyanamitta, the 2011 LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament medalist, is making the second start of her rookie season and first in her native Thailand this week.

Numa, sister of former LPGA member Russy, missed the cut in her first event as a member of the LPGA last week. But this week she has her sister Russy on the bag as caddie and she's excited to play just 40 minutes away from home. She got off to a strong start with an opening round 69, which has put her just two shots off the lead after one day of play.

"It's been fun so far," Gulyanamitta said. "I've had a couple of friends come out to see me play and my parents are here. Lots of people are sending me texts and Facebook messages wishing me good luck. It's been nice so far. But it's also kind of a lot of pressure because it's my first home tournament and everybody expects you to play good since I did so well at Q School and everything. My sister kept me going and not worrying about what other people think. Just to play my golf and that's what happened today."

Tweet of the Day: "Had a good solid first round of the year. Now time for a light work out and then massage of course :)" -- @mariahjorth

Of Note…Stacy Lewis celebrated her 27th birthday on Thursday in Thailand. Lewis shot a 2-under 70 in the first round, although it was capped off with a disappointing 8 on the par-5 18th hole…Defending champion and Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng opened with a 1-over 74 and was unhappy with her play in the first round. "I'm very disappointed with the round today," Tseng said. "The course is not really hard and to shoot 1-over is really kind of sad."


AI MIYAZATO, Rolex Rankings No. 11

MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome our first round leader, Ai Miyazato, into the interview room. Congratulations on a great round today, 5-under 67. Can you just take me through the day out there? I know it was very hot and sticky but how were you able to get through those conditions to shoot such a low round?
AI MIYAZATO: Like you said, it was a really, really long day for me because of the temperature. I felt really calm this morning so I could control myself really well out there. So that's why I think I had five birdies and no bogeys today. Overall I hit the ball well and my putting was really good. I had a few really good up and downs. So I could keep the round going today so I was very happy about that.

Q. 18 was one of those great up and downs for par. I know a lot of people had a tough time with that hole.
AI MIYAZATO: Yes, the second shot. During the backswing, a bug hit my eyes so that's why I hit it in the bunker. So I was kind of laughing. The third shot was really good, I thought really good but unfortunately it didn't spin enough so that's why it went off the green again. The fourth shot, I was really calm and I worked really hard on my short game this offseason so I wasn't really in a hurry. I took my time and that's why I had a good up and down.

Q. This is your first LPGA event of the year. How was it to be able to go out and shoot a round like this in your first round of the season?
AI MIYAZATO: This heat is same for everyone. But I was very excited that it was the beginning of the season. I had a really good offseason so I'm just looking forward to this week. I was really energized and really excited so it was fun.

Q. Compared to last year, it is because you have no pressure to defend, is that why such a good start this year?
AI MIYAZATO: No, it's actually due to the offseason. I rested well this year. I went back home and spent a couple weeks with my family. I saw my nieces and played with them together. So I had a really nice time when I was back in Japan. So that's why I was ready for the practice and I really focused my practice in the offseason. So I had a really good quality offseason. Last year I was kind of busy, every day was busy so I couldn't really focus my practice. I think because of that I didn't get off to a good start. But because this year everything was smooth, that's why I think I got off to a good start this year.

Q. You're a former champion here and seem to always play well at this course. Is there something about this course that suits your game?
AI MIYAZATO: Definitely I have good memories from a few years ago. I just like this golf course. It's pretty wide open. The greens are really difficult. I think this course requires great striking of the ball and so maybe that's why it tends to fit my game.

Q. Do you eat Thai food when you are here or do you eat Japanese food?
AI MIYAZATO: Laug I couldn't find a Japanese restaurant here. But I will eat Thai food. I like the Thai noodles with the soup.

  ANNA NORDQVIST, Rolex Rankings No. 30

Q. Great playing out there today with your round of 4-under 68 -- particularly when you consider you were playing in some pretty hot playing conditions. Take me through the day.
ANNA NORDQVIST: I finished strong in Australia last weekend. So I had some confidence from that. I just tried to pace myself out there in the heat. Try to hit a lot of fairways, hit a lot of greens. So I just hit the ball really smooth today so I gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities today. I never really had to fight for par which I think is key out there and I was also able to get a few birdie putts to roll in.

Q. Has this day been the hottest day so far or is every day about the same?
ANNA NORDQVIST: I felt like Tuesday was the longest day because I was just out here forever it felt like. It took a while before the body got adjusted to this heat. I think every day is kind of the same in terms of weather.

Q. Talking about Australia, you made the cut right on the line and then put together a solid performance to record a top-10 finish. What was the biggest difference for you on the weekend to put together such great scores?
ANNA NORDQVIST: I played really well the first day, shot 3-over. It was the kind of golf course that if you miss a couple shots in the wrong spots and then you can't get it up and down, you can find a little trouble. Then over the weekend, I was more aggressive and made a couple more putts. There wasn't that big of a difference but it was just I got the momentum going the right way.

Q. This is just the second event of the season, but how do you feel about your game so far this year?
ANNA NORDQVIST: I feel good. I've done some changes with Henri Reis, my swing coach. Just keep working on my game. I feel like things are falling into place. Even last fall, I felt like a lot of the work that I've done with him was starting to pay off. So it's a work in progress but I feel like a lot of pieces are getting in place and I feel like I'm a lot more consistent.

KARRIE WEBB, Rolex Rankings No. 20

Q. Great round out there today with a 4-under 68. Can you take me through the round and how you were able to manage with the hot conditions?
KARRIE WEBB: I spent my offseason up in North Queensland in Australia so it was pretty similar to this. I don't practice for that long during the day, like today we're out there for 5-6 hours. So yeah, the conditions besides the heat were pretty good. We didn't' have any breeze. I did think that the pins were set pretty tough for first round today. So to have four birdies and no bogeys, I'm pretty happy with that.

Q. We talked last week about the changes that you've made to your swing and that you were starting to feel pretty good about them. Was that the case today?
KARRIE WEBB: Yes, on the back nine especially. A little scratchy on the front nine but I sort of managed it. I didn't miss too many greens and I made some good two putts from long range. But on the back nine I started to hit my irons better and gave myself quite a few birdie chances.

Q. Heard from a lot of players so far this week about the great condition of this course. Is this the best condition that you've seen this course in?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, I mean the last few years it's been really good but I think this is the best it's been. The greens are really, really nice. I think the only difference is that the greens are softer this year and normally they've been a bit firmer which makes it harder to get close to the pins. It's in really, really nice shape.

Q. Any keys for this week as to what players need to do to shoot low on this golf course?
KARRIE WEBB: I think take your opportunities when you can. Some of the pins can be quite challenging to get to. Once you get in the right section of the green, it's all about trying to make the putts.


NUMA GULYANAMITTA, Rolex Rankings No. 373

Q. Nice way to start the tournament today, a 3-under 69 in the first round.
NUMA GULYANAMITTA: Yeah, it was a good start. Just the first day, though.

Q. You're from Thailand. Have you gotten to play out here at Siam Country Club much?
NUMA GULYANAMITTA: No, I just got to practice out here two weeks before I left for Australia. I played out here a couple times then. But just practice rounds. I didn't get to play out here much.

Q. You're back home here in Thailand. What has the reception been like and how cool is it for you in your second LPGA tournament to play at home.
NUMA GULYANAMITTA: It's been fun so far. I've had a couple of friends come out to see me play and my parents are here. Everybody is here and lots of people are sending me texts and Facebook messages wishing me good luck. It's been nice so far. But it's also kind of a lot of pressure because it's my first home tournament and everybody expects you to play good since I did so well at Q School and everything. My sister kept me going and not worrying about what other people think. Just to play my golf and that's what happened today.

  PAULA CREAMER, Rolex Rankings No. 5

Q. You seemed a little slow to get into the groove today and then you stood on the 12th tee.
PAULA CREAMER: I know, my first hole in one on the LPGA Tour and my second one ever. That was pretty exciting. The funny part about it is in the practice round I told my caddy Colin that I'm going to have a hole in one this year, I know it. And then it happened today. So maybe I should say that more often.

Q. What did you hit?
PAULA CREAMER: I hit a seven-iron. It was perfect. Just one bounce and in the hole. It's nice when you get to actually see it go in instead of behind the little ridges and things. It was pretty exciting. That was a nice way to turn the round around.

Q. What a nice way to kick start your 2012 LPGA season. It's your first event of the year. Is it hard to get the rust off?
PAULA CREAMER: It is. It really is. You play competitive with your friends at home but it's nothing like being out here. I'm still trying to find a bit of my rhythm. I feel good to have my first round under my belt. I'm really working hard on my golf swing so I'm probably the most technical that I've ever been. That's something I have to get used to and just being out there in competition.

Q. The technique work is certainly paying off because you finished off nicely on 18.
PAULA CREAMER: Thank you, it's always nice to finish with a birdie. But it was fun to play with Ai. She played great. When you're playing with somebody like that, you try to get some momentum off of her as well.

Q. Are you going to head to the range to work on your swing after the round?
PAULA CREAMER: I will. I think a lot of shots that cost me today were my 3-wood. Other than that, I hit the ball really well. I know I missed a lot of greens but there is lot of little run-offs here and there and I still hit great shots. I'm pretty pleased with how I played considering it was my first round.

YANI TSENG, Rolex Rankings No. 1

Q. Opened up the tournament today with a 1-over 73. Not the way I'm sure you were hoping to start but can you take me through the round and what went wrong?
YANI TSENG: My play sucks today. I'm very disappointed with the round today. The course is not really hard and to shoot 1-over is really kind of sad. My putting was really bad. I had lots of three putts and I couldn't even make two-foot putts, three-foot putts. I think today was mostly putting problems. I hit the ball pretty well and hopefully tomorrow I'll get some more confidence and try to build the confidence every hole.

Q. Is your putting stroke something you're going to work on after your round?
YANI TSENG: I don't think it's the stroke. I just think it's more of a confidence thing. Every day I've been working on my putting stroke and when I practice, I always feel good about it. I always feel that my putter face is square and then I go down to the golf course and I feel like I'm shutting my putter face. I don't why. I think I'll go get a massage later and figure it out laug.

Q. With how you played last week in Australia, are you still feeling good about the state of your game right now?
YANI TSENG: I still feel good about it. That's why I was so disappointed to finish 1-over today. Hopefully the next 3 days I can make some more birdies. I still feel my game was there. I just need to build the confidence every day.

Topics: Honda LPGA Thailand, Miyazato, Ai, Webb, Karrie, Nordqvist, Anna, Gulyanamitta, Numa, Creamer, Paula, Tseng, Yani, Notes and Interviews [+]

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