HSBC Women’s Champions
Tanah Merah Country Club
Feb. 26, 2012
Final-round notes and interviews
Angela Stanford earned her fifth-career LPGA title and added Champion of Champions to her resume with a victory at the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore. She joins a world-class list of past champions that include Lorena Ochoa (2008), Jiyai Shin (2009), Ai Miyazato (2010) and Karrie Webb (2011). “I feel extremely honored to be in that group of golfers and women, and to be the first American to get to win here is pretty special,” she said.
Is this the biggest win of Stanford’s career? “Well, I haven't won a major yet, so this is the closest thing so far,” Stanford said. “The best players in the world are here and they call it Asia's major, so it's the closest thing to me.”
Lightning in a bottle. Final-round play at the HSBC Women’s Champions was delayed from 3:05 p.m. to 4:39 p.m. because of lightning in the area. A storm cell sat above Tanah Merah Country Club producing rain, loud thunder and multiple lightning strikes nearby. When play resumed, Angela Stanford, Jenny Shin and Katie Futcher were the only group remaining on the golf course. “Honestly, I was just trying to make par because I'm very aware that anything can happen on that hole,” Stanford said. “And I didn't. I still made a bogey. You know, the rain delay was tough because you're the only three golfers left, and you know, 18 has always been a tough hole for me, so to sit there and have to wait and you're just looking at it, I mean it's tough because you know it's only going to be three to five more shots.
Third hole is a charm in playoff. What began as a four-player, sudden-death playoff was reduced to a three-player playoff after Shanshan Feng three-putted the first playoff hole. On the second hole, Na Yeon Choi dropped out after missing a four-foot par putt. On the third hole, Jenny Shin lipped out from three feet and Angela Stanford made a four-foot putt that touched most of the cup before falling in.
Shin stays hot. Second-year LPGA player Jenny Shin wasn’t able to join the ranks of the Rolex First-Time Winners, but she was able to improve her consecutive top-10 streak to three tournaments. The 19-year-old finished seventh at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, tied for ninth at the Honda LPGA Thailand and tied for second at the HSBC Women’s Champions.
The 23-year-old made five birdies on the front nine to take a share of the lead with Jenny Shin at 11-under-par following a two-putt birdie from 20 feet on No. 9. But the back nine was less kind to Tseng.
Her drive on 10 found a fairway bunker and her approach embedded in the rough short of the green. Following a free drop, she chipped over the green, chipped again to 40 feet, and two-putted for double bogey to drop three shots behind Shin, who made birdie at No. 9 to get to 12-under-par.
Tseng overturned her negative momentum with a birdie at No. 11 and scrambled for par on No. 12 after a poor approach shot short and left of the green. A bogey at the par-3 14th – where she missed the green long -- dropped her to 9-under-par. She narrowly missed a short birdie chip at 15, then put her drive on 16 – playing just 257 yards on Sunday – in the left greenside bunker and failed to land her blast out on the green and left with par.
On 17, she nearly holed out for eagle from the fairway – her ball caught the cup and went to 4-feet – but she missed the putt and her last real chance at winning the tournament.
Golden ticket winners: Angela Stanford, Jenny Shin, and Shanshan Feng punched their "Ticket to CME Group Titleholders" at the HSBC Women’s Champions, 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.
Stanford is going to Canyon Ranch. With her victory at the HSBC Women’s Champions, Angela Stanford earned an all-inclusive stay for two at a Canyon Ranch resort. In a combined effort to promote health and overall well-being among Tour players, Canyon Ranch will provide every winner of an LPGA event with one all-inclusive stay at one of Canyon Ranch's two destination resorts.
Karrie Webb on why this year was different than last: “I probably didn't have the comfort on the greens that I did last year and that was probably the key to me winning last year,” she said. “Last year, I made a lot of putts and felt like I could make more. This week I just didn't feel like that at all.”
Of note… Shanshan Feng fell short in her bid to become the first-ever LPGA winner from Mainland China… Defending champion Karrie Webb shot 2-under-par 70 in the final round to finish the week in a tie for 25th at 1-under-par 287… 2010 HSBC winner Ai Miyazato shot 3-under-par 69 on Sunday to tie for sixth at 7-under-par 281… 2009 HSBC winner Jiyai Shin tied for eighth at 6-under-par 282.
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome 2012 HSBC Women's Champions winner Angela Stanford into the room. First of all, congratulations on your fifth career victory on the LPGA tour.
ANGELA STANFORD: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: You've had a pretty good run at this event. You've had three previous top 12S, and then you came in today where you had a shot to win, and unable to get it done in regulation, but three playoff holes later you walk away as champion of Champions. So if you would, just take us through your day, some of the emotions you faced and especially the playoff.
ANGELA STANFORD: Well, it was just a long day, you know, and I bogeyed the first hole and Jenny birdied the first hole. You know, just all day I made these amazing par putts. I can't remember what holes now off the top of my head, but the par I made on 7 I thought kept me in the tournament. And it was just one of those days.
And my caddie has been all over me lately about grinding it out. And we talked about it last week when I didn't have a chance to win it, and he was like, well, you might as well work on it, you know. Let's grind away, and he just kept telling me, stay in it, stay in it. So really he deserves a lot of credit, because there was more than one time today I thought I was done. So it was nice to have him out there and keeping me going.
THE MODERATOR: Can you just talk about the opportunities you had to win the golf tournament starting on regulation at 18 and then through the playoff, what kind of -- take us through each of those holes and kind of what you were thinking.
ANGELA STANFORD: Well, 18, I think is -- this 18th hole is one of the toughest we play all year. So you know, I knew -- I mean the hard part is you're hitting it into such a small area with such a long club in your hand. So after sitting through the rain delay and then having that first long putt in regulation, I mean it was going to be tough to judge the speed because you had to hit it hard enough to get it over the hill and then it was going to take off.
So I think I was just lucky to be in the playoff personally. And then when the playoff started, you know, I just -- it's not a hole somebody is going to birdie in a playoff. So really it becomes about hitting good shots and making pars and making sure you stay in it. So that was kind of the thought process the rest of the way is just be the last one standing and just try to give yourself a chance to make par. I mean, yeah, you want to make a birdie, but you don't want to make bogey.
THE MODERATOR: Just take us through that last putt.
ANGELA STANFORD: Well, it was interesting because the chip I had previously went right-to-left and then kind of broke away, but it did it after the hole. So I asked my caddie, Brian, I said, okay, we chipped from over here; now we're right here. This putt has to be fairly straight, maybe a little left-to-right. I said, do you see it going right right off the bat? He was like, yeah.
Okay. Well, I was never going to hit it hard enough. I mean that's just as he said, the slowest putt on the golf course. So the first thing I said to him to win, I said, "please tell me this putt is straight." He's like, "well, I would play it inside the hole." And he pounds his putts. So I'm like, all right. So I played it inside the left side and still almost missed it to the right.
Q. You must have thought by the time you got to that last putt, though, that by the law of averages you were going to make that one because a few had got by on that hole. That's how we were thinking, that this time you would definitely make it.
ANGELA STANFORD: I was not thinking that, but yes. I mean you just never know, and the way the day was going, the par putt I made the previous time, so after I chipped it and made the putt coming back downhill, I mean before I hit that putt I thought I've been doing this all day; what's different when it's to win this. So I still didn't hit it hard enough. I wish I would have hit it a little bit harder.
Q. Your name goes on there with Lorena Ochoa, Ai Miyazato, Jiyai Shin, Karrie Webb. You're keeping some pretty good company.
ANGELA STANFORD: I tell you I still feel like I'm dreaming. I still -- I'm not quite sure. I just haven't processed it. It kind of hit me when we were doing TV right after thinking about everybody at home and how cool it's going to be for them.
But you know, I feel extremely honored to be in that group of golfers and women, and to be the first American to get to win here is pretty special.
ANGELA STANFORD: I'm the first American to win in Singapore. That's pretty cool. I love it here. I tell people at home this is my favorite place when we leave the States, Singapore is my favorite spot, and maybe that's why I've always played well here. I feel so comfortable. Everybody is so nice, and HSBC takes care of us. They just make it such a fun week that I love being here.
Q. How does it feel to earn that distinction as first American to win here?
ANGELA STANFORD: Well, you know, it's funny, honestly, sitting at the Pro Am party I was looking at it and I was thinking we haven't had an American win this thing yet. Honestly, I thought that, and I thought well, I'm an American. Might as well give it a go.
Q. What did you do during the rain delay and what was going on in your head? You had to finish 18 and you were a stroke behind Jenny.
ANGELA STANFORD: Honestly, I was just trying to make par because I'm very aware that anything can happen on that hole. So -- and I didn't. I still made a bogey.
You know, the rain delay was tough because you're the only three golfers left, and you know, 18 has always been a tough hole for me, so to sit there and have to wait and you're just looking at it, I mean it's tough because you know it's only going to be three to five more shots. And it's a hard thing to sit on knowing that the outcome of the tournament rests on that, too.
Q. With Jenny, how much courage do you have to have to do what she did on 18 the first time and still be snapping at the heels by the end?
ANGELA STANFORD: Yeah. We started the day, and now we've played two full days together and then some. I was really impressed with her demeanor. I thought she didn't make a lot of mistakes, and when she did, she bounced back.
Honestly, I was shocked when I saw her tee shot go left. I hadn't seen her hit a shot like that yet. But in the back of mind the whole time I thought if I can just stay close, I need to stay close as long as I can, because I've been in her shoes. It's tough. It's hard to win your first one. Being so young she's obviously going to have an amazing career, and that says a lot about her, to do that, to get into a playoff and then be second -- however you want to say that, last one out.
Q. You talked about grinding today. I mean and you made a lot of important putts to save par. How do you manage to stay in there and what were you telling yourself throughout the four days? It was a really long day of golf as well.
ANGELA STANFORD: Again, that goes back to my caddie. It's a lot easier for him to continue to be positive than me because I'm aware of all the bad shots I'm hitting or bad putts or whatever, but he stayed extremely positive and he just kept saying, just keep doing it, just keep making it. Just hang in there. You've got to hang in there. So he's -- I haven't believed him until now.
Q. I was just wondering when you were younger, maybe in your early 20s or whatever if you ever went through something like what Jenny went through. And as a young player what do you tell yourself because it can be really cruel what happened today, and it can be difficult to manage. So what do you need at that sort of level? How do you manage such a situation?
ANGELA STANFORD: Well, I was the victim of I lost a couple of four-shot leads. Not early on in my career, but kind of in the middle, like 2006-ish, I think. Two in the same year. So you know, the thing I guess I would say to her is it's going to happen. I mean if you keep doing what you're doing -- obviously she's a great player. Golf is very fickle, and you just never know when it's going to turn. Did I think I'd be sitting here? Well, I try, but anything can happen.
And I mean I've been through it, and I think she's going to be fine. You just gotta keep doing what you're doing and stay positive and take all the positives out of this week because she had a number of them.
Q. I know you had a very solid, if not good year last year, but back in '09 when you last won, you were playing this sort of golf but doing it for longer. You were going to world No. 1, you had wins, two second places, two-thirds. Just tell us about the last couple of years.
ANGELA STANFORD: You know, I think golf is not only fickle, but it's very difficult. And for somebody to stay at the top or make their way to the top and stay at the top is very special. And you know, I had that stretch from the end of '08 to the beginning of '09. And you know, I think there's so much that goes on in life and, you know, whether it's golf or off the golf course or whatever, and there's just so much that influences people and the way they play.
You know what, I think that's just life. I mean whether I make it to No. 1 or not, you know, I'm still trying to be No. 1, and sometimes, you know, there are speed bumps, and just because this game is so hard.
So you know, I wasn't swinging very well in 2010 at all. I kind of got burned out at the end of '09, and a lot of that is managing that. If you look at world No. 1s, I mean they'll get burned out, and you have to manage that. I mean I took my longest break I've ever taken as a professional this off season. I took two months off, and just because last year was so tough mentally.
I mean yeah, it was a great year, but I didn't win, and it just wears on you. So I decided, I need a break, and I did it. And you know, you have to manage the ups and downs of golf. And you know, I went really high, and then I didn't know how to handle the low, and then I'd have to work my way back up. So it's just life.
Q. For that last hole Jenny had like a four or five-footer putt to make par to stay in it. Given the fact that she made a lot of putts like that of similar length, were you expecting her to make it and what was going on in your head?
ANGELA STANFORD: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, I expected her to make everything all day. And when she missed the last one, I was surprised because she had been making them all day. So I think as a competitor, you never expect anybody to miss because players out here are just too good. So you just know that you have to make. So whatever they're doing, they're doing. You just assume they're going to make it.
Q. I just want to go back to that thing about you say you had a good year, but you don't win. Is winning so important because that's really the confirmation that you're playing well. You may tell yourself, hey, I have so many Top 10s, I've made a lot of money. But eventually that's not really the ultimate reassurance. I mean this is the fact that you have the trophy in your bag. That is what it is. That tells you, okay, this is what it's worth it?
ANGELA STANFORD: Oh, for sure. Like you said, it's confirmation, to be able to play -- I mean everybody here is a great player and everybody would say that about everybody, but to get to the finish line and be the first to the finish line is a big deal on this tour now because the players are so good. And it is so deep. So it is confirmation.
But it's also important to win for other goals. I mean if you want to be player of the year, if you want to win the money list. I mean I had a tremendous year last year and I finished seventh on the Money List without winning. I mean that's hard to do and I don't want to do that again. So I think if you have larger goals, winning is very important because it gives you Rolex points, and there are so many things you get from winning.
Q. What was it like in the playoff?
JENNY SHIN: Actually, the playoff wasn't that bad. I wasn't as nervous as I was on the 18th, my real 18th hole.
Yeah, I just tried my best. The tee shot on the 18th hole really threw me off. But I'm okay.
Yeah, I'm happy with where I am. I feel like it's a great start, so I'm looking forward to the following year.
Q. Can I ask you about the weather? I mean how much did that throw you off? You were so close to victory at that stage.
JENNY SHIN: Yeah, you know, I just don't think it's meant to be. If it was, we could have just played 18, but it's just not meant to be. So I'm accepting it.
Q. Did you feel a bit of nerves or lack of experience? Would you agree with that?
JENNY SHIN: Yeah, I do. I think it needs to grow up. So like I said, I'm accepting it and going to move on.
Q. Is this an experience of how good do you think this could be in your career development?
JENNY SHIN: This is really big, I think. Going into the second year on tour and to be in the playoff in my third tournament of the year, it's amazing. I hope this can help.
Q. Did you think you would be at this stage in your career this early on? Did you always believe at such a young age you would be so close like this?
JENNY SHIN: Yeah. I actually moved to America for golf. And I am living a dream. It's a little bit of unexpected early in the week, but yeah. I think so.
Q. What did you do with your time off during the break, during the rain delay?
JENNY SHIN: I tried to get something to eat because I haven't eaten the whole day.
I tried to stay out of the AC, but it was just impossible.
Q. You didn't go warm up after quite a long break. Do you wish you had?
JENNY SHIN: Actually, I was the one who said I didn't really want to go out to practice.
It's just a long way back and forth, so I thought (inaudible). But I don't regret it. Like I said, I think it's meant to be, so I'm okay.
Q. Is this the first time you've been in the playoffs?
JENNY SHIN: Yeah. I've never been in the last group on the LPGA tour.
Q. This is really your second year on tour?
JENNY SHIN: Yeah, my second year.
Q. First playoff?
JENNY SHIN: Yeah. First playoff.
JENNY SHIN: I had so many battles, especially with the tee shot because I did hook one into the water on number 18. But you know, all I did was try my best.
Q. What was your caddie saying to you?
JENNY SHIN: He was just telling me to just do my best, do my routine. Stay in sync.
Q. For a while you had to sit there and wait and wait and wait to see what would happen. Then you got in the playoff. Just take me through the last hour or so and kind of your emotions.
NA YEON CHOI: I mean after play I didn't expect like playoff, actually. I mean but my caddie said, just wait. In golf nobody knows.
So I was waiting, and then I think this is a great chance to win playoff, but well, I don't have any regrets really. I mean I never think of this situation. So if I win this tournament, that would be great means to me, but I think another time it will come.
YANI TSENG: I was really close today. I tried my best, but I didn't give up on any shots. I played my best. I fight my best to get all the way back.
And I think I just needed a little bit more luck to win in this tournament because I had a bad break on the Back 9, but I'm just hoping next year it will be better.
Q. Was it No. 10 that killed you, the double bogey there?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, a little bit. I think I just got a little bad luck there. It wasn't hit that bad, but just didn't get a good bounce, and I make more birdie on 11 hole, but on the back I didn't get any birdies. Kind of upset. Just very close to the hole, but didn't make any.
Q. What about 2012? You've already won one tournament. What are your aims and goals for the rest of the year?
YANI TSENG: I don't know. Just keep winning because I feel good right now. I feel lots of confidence, and I feel my game is A game now, and just I think I need to get more consistent because I think I work really hard off season. I do my physical and my swing change a little bit, and this goes as far as normal, so I just need to get my distance around to see how far and how consistent I can get.
Q. For some reason you can't win here in Singapore. What is it about this place, and is it a bitter disappointment given the fact that there were so many Asian fans here to support you?
YANI TSENG: Yeah. I do feel disappointed because I didn't win this tournament. I was very close this year. I played great front nine, but hopefully next year I won't be disappointed. I will do my best and just keep working hard.