ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open
Royal Melbourne Golf Club, Composite Course
Pre-tournament notes and interviews
February 7-8, 2012
The 2012 LPGA season officially kicks off this week in Melbourne, Australia with the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, as the LPGA returns to Australia for the first time in over a decade. And for the first time in its storied history, Royal Melbourne Golf Club will be the host of a women’s professional golf event with 156 players competing this week for a $1.1 million purse.
A total of six players in the top-10 in the Rolex Rankings will be competing this week at Royal Melbourne, including defending champion and Rolex Rankings No.1 Yani Tseng. Among those looking to challenge Tseng this week are Rolex Rankings No. 2 Suzann Pettersen, who is coming off a two-win season on the LPGA Tour in 2011, and No. 4 Cristie Kerr.
Seeking that No. 1 spot: Suzann Pettersen is no stranger to being ranked the No. 2 player in the world, having held the spot at various times throughout her career. The one place she has yet to occupy in the rankings, though, is that coveted No. 1 position and she’s certainly eager to push Yani Tseng for that spot once again in 2012. She told the media on Wednesday in Australia that it’s always been her dream to be No. 1 in the world.
“I feel like my game is there,” Pettersen said. “Yani has a great head start. It will probably take more than a season to catch up with her. I don't really look at here game. I look at my game. What can I do better to get my game more consistent and to get the most out of it. But she is a great No. 1. She is a very aggressive player, very fearless and obviously has a lot of confidence. I've beaten her before so I know I can do it.”
Pettersen is coming off a strong season in 2011, having captured 3 victories worldwide including two on the LPGA Tour. Her one disappointment from last season, though, was her play in the majors as she tallied just one top-10 finish in the majors (T3 at the LPGA Championship). So it’s no surprise that one of Pettersen’s goals this year is to perform better in the majors and try to prepare better in the weeks leading up to the four majors.
“I wasn't really in contention in the majors which is for me was a bit painful,” Pettersen said. “That is one thing I would like to change if I could. Maybe prepare better in the weeks prior to the majors so I can feel less stressed about how the game is feeling. The majors will be the bigger ones.”
True test of golf: Pettersen is excited that the season is getting started at Royal Melbourne. She said that she really wanted to play this golf course and knew quite a bit about it having watched the majority of the Presidents Cup when it was played here last November.
“I can’t wait to putt off these greens,” Pettersen said with a laugh. “I found it fun to see the guys struggle as much as they did here. But that was match play. You can just pick it up and go to the next tee. You have just lost the hole. Here you have to put a score together, maybe play a bit more conservative. You have to take what the course gives you each day. I know it can change drastically from morning to afternoon.”
Certainly all eyes are on Lexi Thompson as she begins her rookie season. Thompson became the youngest winner in LPGA history at the 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic last September. It was one of two wins worldwide last year for Thompson, who turns 17 on Friday in Australia. She also became the youngest professional to win on the Ladies European Tour (LET) when she closed out her 2011 season with a victory at the OMEGA Dubai Ladies Masters in December.
But while she now holds the status of a full member on the LPGA Tour, Thompson said she’s not approaching this season any differently.
“I don't feel any different,” Thompson said. “I just know I am going to be playing a lot more. I am still playing the same way.”
Among the other rookies joining Thompson in the field this week are 2011 U.S. Women’s Open champion So Yeon Ryu, 2011 Symetra Tour Player of the Year Kathleen Ekey and Numa Gulyanamitta, who finished first at the 2011 LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament.
Next up, the Tour de France? Pettersen picked up a new hobby during the offseason – cycling.
Pettersen bought a new bike to ride with some of the guys she golfs with while at home in Orlando. She joked that it was like a new golfer walking into the pro shop. A self-proclaimed gym junkie, Pettersen has taken to having a new workout and said that she even purchased a spinning bike for her home that can mimic the various stages of the Tour de France.
“I had no idea what a bike should feel like,” Pettersen said. “I quickly realized the more expensive, the better feel. It was great. I have [gone riding] quite a bit. I love to be outside and use my body. To start off your morning with an hour and a little bit is quite good. It makes you feel good too.”
Tweet of the Day: “One of my goals was to see a kangaroo and I got to HOLD one!!!! Thanks @ALPGtour, start to a great week!” -- @GerinaPiller
Of Note…Christel Boeljon, who is entering her second season on the LPGA Tour, won the Gold Coast RACV Australian Ladies Masters last week…There are five amateurs in the field this week including 14-year-old Lydia Ko, who became the youngest winner of a professional golf tour event two weeks ago. Ko, a New Zealand native, won the New South Wales Open on the ALPG Tour…Pettersen presented Ko with a medal from the R&A on Wednesday for being for being the world’s top ranked amateur over the past year.
Another year like 2011? Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng will begin her quest this week to replicate a dominant 2011 season. First up for Tseng will be trying to capture the LPGA’s season-opening event for the second straight season.
Last year, Tseng won her first four worldwide events of the year on various tours including the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, which at the time was an event on the Ladies European Tour, and the LPGA’s 2011 season-opening Honda LPGA Thailand. Tseng captured seven LPGA Tour titles in 2011 and a total of 12 victories worldwide while establishing herself as the clear player to beat in women’s golf. So what does Tseng hope to accomplish in 2012 following such a stellar 2011 season?
“Hopefully it will be a good start for the year,” Tseng said. “I'll try to play my best every tournament. Last year is over. This is a new year for me. I have been working real hard in the offseason to change my swing a bit, to make it more consistent. I think I am ready for this year.”
One thing that Tseng did during the offseason was to make a slight tweak to her swing. Her goal was to cut back on the amount of effort she needed to put into each swing yet still maintain her distance, after finishing first in driving average on the LPGA Tour in 2011.
“I feel I am swinging easier and striking the ball better,” Tseng said. “Now I feel that if I swing 70-80 percent, the ball is still flying better than before. I always tried to swing really hard. Now I don't swing so hard but the ball still goes that far. I am very happy about that...I can still rip it. “
Watch out for those greens: For most of the LPGA players, this week marks the first time that any of them have played the Composite course at Royal Melbourne since the club had never previously hosted a women’s professional event. There were many rave reviews of the course that’s been ranked as one of the top 10 in the world.
And one aspect of the Royal Melbourne course that everyone took notice of right away was the challenging greens.
“What a spectacular golf course,” said Cristie Kerr. “It is one of the best I've ever seen. The green complexes are so severe and so fast. You really have to know what you are doing out there, especially for the first week of the year.”
Queensland native Karrie Webb acknowledged that these are the types of greens that the players don’t see very often over the course of a season, typically at a U.S. Open style venue.
“It is more than pace here. It is the slope,” Webb said of the greens. “You can have a downhill putt and know it is going to be quick. Yesterday I still hit one six feet past after telling myself it was quick. It is more the slope and allowing enough break but still hitting positive putts. The key, if you've got the guts to do it, is to hit putts that are going to be three or four feet past if they miss. If you don't putt with a little aggression I don't think you are going to make many.”
Back to her winning ways? Last year marked the first time since 2004 that Cristie Kerr did not capture at least one victory in a season. Kerr certainly had opportunities to win in 2011, recording 12 top-10 finishes which included nine finishes in the top 5.
Currently the top-ranked American in the Rolex Rankings at the No. 4 spot, Kerr knows what it’s like to be No. 1 in the world since she held the spot in 2010. So it’s no surprise that Kerr is aiming to not only get back in the winner’s circle in 2012 but also to regain that top ranking.
“I think any time you are No. 1 it is a tremendous accomplishment,” Kerr said. “That's where I want to be. That's why I play. I've come out this year ready to play. I've got my goals. I want to win again, win multiple events, and hopefully another major. I feel like I am ready to go this year.”
Karrie Webb has been playing on the LPGA Tour for the past 16 years, but don’t expect her to call it a career any time soon. Webb, who has spent the past five months working on swing changes, told the Australian media that she is still focused on playing great golf. The 38-time winner on the LPGA Tour added that she intends on playing in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, when golf returns to the Olympics for the first time since 1904.
“The Olympics are still the thing I am setting my sights on,” Webb said. “If retirement was in the cards, I would not have made these swing changes or worked as hard as I did in the off season. It is there. But as I have said for the past few years, it is closer to the end of my career than the beginning.
“I really believe I still have some great golf to play. If I can achieve these swing changes, I believe that is a chance,” she added. “You never say never. I visited Rachel Hetherington on the Gold Coast in January. She told me she would never remarry, would never have children and never teach golf. She has married Greg Ritchie, just had a baby girl and they've just bought a driving range. I thought I'd better be careful about saying what I would never do. If I said I would never play past the Olympics, I'd be reminded about that.”
Webb was presented with an honorary membership to Royal Melbourne Golf Club on Monday night. She joins only four others, including Greg Norman and Peter Thompson, who have been bestowed that honor.
Tweet of the Day: “I will not be playing the opening LPGA event in Australia. One of my very best friends
is getting married this Saturday & I am a bridesmaid!” – @ThePCreamer
MODERATOR: We've been looking at your Tweets. You said you played with some amateurs yesterday.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: They played in front of me. When I played the back nine yesterday. They waited for me to finish the 15th, I think, and asked if they could play the last couple of holes with me. It was nice to see the young Australian girls.
MODERATOR: We hear that you are really into bike racing.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I picked up a new hobby over the winter. A lot of the guys I play and practise with back in Florida got me do road biking. At the end of last year I needed to get a bike to join them. It was a good way to change your work-outs. It is a lot kinder on your body, a lot healthier than running. I went to the bike store and I felt like a new golfer going into the pro shop and asking for golf clubs. I had no idea what I was looking for. I was testing bikes. I had no idea what a bike should feel like. I quickly realised the more expensive, the better feel. It was great. I have done that quite a bit. I love to be outside and use my body. To start off your morning with an hour and a little bit is quite good. It makes you feel good too.
MODERATOR: You spent some time in Norway in the off-season?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I went home for three weeks over Christmas. I was really busy and needed a break. It was what I really needed to do. I just enjoyed being home and spending time with family and friends. Christmas is my favourite holiday. Everyone is in the holiday spirit. It was very laid back with a lot of nice food and booze.
Q. You won't be the next Thor Hushovd?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: He is a great biker, for sure. I don't think I will ever be able to ride a Tour de France, even though I just did buy a spinning bike you can have at home that is called Tour de France. It is the one you see on the TV commercials. You can have the incline and the decline. There is no problem with gadgets in my house. On that bike you can do all the different tours and climb different mountains.
Q. Do you take drugs? (joking)
SUZANN PETTERSEN: There is no drug testing this week, is there? I hope not. laug No.
Q. Norway produces a lot of sports stars for a small country.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Especially in the Winter Olympics. We do a lot better there than in the Summer Olympics. We have a great javelin thrower, probably the best in the world. There are some good track and field people and Thor Hushovd and some of the biking guys.
Q. Have you played in Australia before?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I played the first couple of years on the European Tour and came down here and played Yarra Yarra which is just down the street. I think I lost to Webbie in the play-off. I know I did. That was a great experience. That was the only time I have been here. I have been in Sydney once and a couple of years ago I went to the Gold Coast. I had to make a U-turn because my body did not feel that great. There are fantastic golf courses. The reason I am here this week is that I really wanted to play this course. I think it will be a great test straight off the bat. It will get your focus and attention very quickly.
Q. Did you watch the Presidents Cup?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I watched it all. I can't wait to putt off these greens. I found it fun to see the guys struggle as much as they did here. But that was match play. You can just pick it up and go to the next tee. You have just lost the hole. Here you have to put a score together, maybe play a bit more conservative. You have to take what the course gives you each day. I know it can change drastically from morning to afternoon. I think the forecast is fairly steady with the wind coming out of the south. Hopefully it will be fairly consistent. The Presidents Cup was fantastic. It is so different to see it in person after the TV. The No. 1 green did not look as severe on TV. I know they talked about it being severe but it did not look it.
Q. What are your goals this year?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I look back on 2011 as a pretty good year. I had three wins with a lot of consistent golf. I wasn't really in contention in the majors which is for me was a bit painful. That is one thing I would like to change if I could. Maybe prepare better in the weeks prior to the majors so I can feel less stressed about how the game is feeling. The majors will be the bigger ones. I think 2010 was my best year. I felt throughout the year I was very consistent. You have to look back on every year and analyse how you can get better. I spend a lot of time with my short game. I try to really fall in love with it, embrace it, and see every chance you have as an opportunity. If anything, my short game is holding me back a bit. My ball striking is good enough. I have been on top of the “greens-in-regulation” for a couple of years in a row now. You can only do so much with your ball striking. Everyone makes mistakes and you have to look at the up and downs. My main goal will be a lot of time spent on my putting and short game.
Q. Is getting the world No. 1 ranking a priority?
It has always been a dream of mine. I have been No. 2. I was No. 2 after Annika at one point, after Lorena at one point and now I am No. 2 after Yani.
Q. Melissa Reid said she thinks you will be next.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I feel like my game is there. Yani has a great head start. It will probably take more than a season to catch up with her. I don't really look at here game. I look at my game. What can I do better to get my game more consistent and to get the most out of it. But she is a great No. 1. She is a very aggressive player, very fearless and obviously has a lot of confidence. I've beaten her before so I know I can do it.
Q. Do stronger ball strikes and those who can spin the ball have an advantage here?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I don't think you can spin the ball enough on these greens. They are fairly firm. I was told they were really firm before the rain hit on the weekend. This is a lot of strategy. This is the one course where I am hardly hitting any drivers. I am hitting driver on the par fives. You don't have to hit driver on the par fours. It is putting the ball in a good spot on the fairway. You can literally try to hit to the middle of the green on every hole. You can take your chances when you feel you have a decent club in your hand. The risk/reward here can be quite painful if you are too aggressive. Like I said, you have to play whatever the course gives you. I think it is a great test. I have not practised or played on a course like this over winter. Back in Florida it is softer and all carry. Here it is more links. It is a huge adjustment to come in and play this course...This week it will come down to putting and the short game. The course isn't awfully long if the wind stays the way it is. The greens are tricky enough. I don't even know what a good score will be around this track on a decent day. It is hard to tell. You can be a little too aggressive and all of a sudden the best you can do is a bogey. The bunkers are a true hazard this week, I would say. In the US a bunker might be better than short-siding yourself in the rough. Here, the way they are designed, the ball ends up sitting down in the middle and it is hard to spin it. If you short-side yourself, you most likely will have to make a long par putt.
MODERATOR: Thank you for coming in. You've just played in the pro-am. What are your thoughts on Royal Melbourne?
LEXI THOMPSON: It is a great golf course. It is a really tough layout playing firm. It is definitely going to be a challenge.
MODERATOR: Do you like the undulations in the greens?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yes. It is definitely different. You have to aim away from some pins sometimes and just play for par.
Q. We've asked a lot of the girls if they watched the Presidents Cup and if they got any clues from it. Did you watch it?
LEXI THOMPSON: I only saw a few holes. I saw that it was really firm. My dad watched replays of it. He took notes for me.
Q. Does it feel different to play as a full member of the LPGA?
LEXI THOMPSON: I played last week too as a full member. I don't feel any different. I just know I am going to be playing a lot more. I am still playing the same way.
Q. How many tournaments will you be playing this year?
LEXI THOMPSON: I'll probably be playing 20 to 23 this year. Almost a full schedule.
Q. Is it good to be back in Melbourne?
LEXI THOMPSON: I love coming back. This is my third year in Australia. I have a great time here. It is an honour to be playing in this tournament, especially at Royal Melbourne.
Q. How do you compare Royal Melbourne with Commonwealth?
LEXI THOMPSON: This is a little firmer and you have to place your tee shots a lot better. It is going to be a challenge. You have to think smart out here.
Q. Can you spin the ball much?
LEXI THOMPSON: You have to land it back a good ways, unless you have a full lob wedge, and you can play a flop shot. But pretty much you have to play it five to 10 yards short.
Q. What are you hitting in to the par fours?
LEXI THOMPSON: I pretty much have mid-irons, like nine and eight irons. There are a few out there where I will have a five iron and on the par fives I will have a long iron and bounce it up.
Q. How does it feel at your age to see your face on the poster with Karrie Webb and Yani Tseng?
LEXI THOMPSON: It makes me feel good. I always look forward to coming to this tournament. To see my face on the poster is an honour.
Q. Does it remind you of how far you have come so quickly?
LEXI THOMPSON: I have worked hard my whole life and it is finally paying off. I am going to continue to work hard at it.
Q. Do you feel any pressure when you are being used to promote the tournament?
LEXI THOMPSON: I don't feel any pressure at all. I just out here doing what I love and enjoying every bit of it.
Q. Question about her education.
LEXI THOMPSON: I home school. I do on-line schooling. I did five weeks of school before I came so I don't have to worry about it while I am here. That's nice.
Q. Does your father regularly take notes on golf courses?
LEXI THOMPSON: He saw the guys playing on TV and took notes. He takes pretty good notes, learning from people who have played here.
Q. Give an example of what he tells you.
LEXI THOMPSON: Where to be and where not to be. He took notes on the bunker shots that are do-able and the ones you don't want to be in. It is pretty basic stuff.
Q. Is he accurate?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yes. It definitely works.
Q. Do you play socially with your father?
LEXI THOMPSON: We definitely need our space when we are off the golf course because we spend so much time together. But I love him. He knows my game the best and he is looking out for me all the way.
MODERATOR: Great to see you here. When you were last in Australia you won twice. That set you
up for a year to remember.
YANI TSENG: Yes. That was one of my best memories ever. I played at Commonwealth the last two years. I am very happy to be back here and play Royal Melbourne. I played nine holes yesterday. It is an unbelievable golf course. It was pretty tough. The greens were fast. I am very excited and can't wait to go out and have fun. I was very happy to see all the people here.
MODERATOR: You won 12 events last year. How can you improve on that?
YANI TSENG: I don't know. I'll do my best. I always have a good start here in Australia. Hopefully it will be a good start for the year. I'll try to play my best every tournament. Last year is over. This is a new year for me. I have been working real hard in the off season to change my swing a bit, to make it more consistent. I think I am ready for this year.
Q. What have you been doing with your swing?
YANI TSENG: When I take it back I always lean back a little bit. So I have tried to change my back swing. I have tried to get physically stronger, so my swing can match my physique. I have been working out very good. My trainer was in Orlando with me last month, and my coach. We work really hard.
Q. What is the result of the changes? Is it a lower ball flight?
YANI TSENG: No, it is stronger. I have more power. I don't swing as hard as before. I feel I am swinging easier and striking the ball better.
Q. Is the ball flight better?
YANI TSENG: I don't think it is. Maybe a little bit. But now I feel that if I swing 70-80 percent, the ball is still flying better than before. I always tried to swing really hard. Now I don't swing so hard but the ball still goes that far. I am very happy about that...I can still rip it.
Q. We asked Karrie if she thought there would be many scores in the 60s. What do you think?
YANI TSENG: I don't know. I think you will have to play very well to win this tournament. We have a good field this week and a great golf course. The course is not long but you need to be very focused. Every shot. If you just mis-focus on one shot, you can get in big trouble. This week will be like a major course. You need to be smart, patient focus on every shot.
Q. Have you played Royal Melbourne before?
YANI TSENG: No. I have played at Kingston Heath but not here.
Q. Have you seen it on television?
YANI TSENG: Yes, for the Presidents Cup last year. I watched many holes and when I came here I was very excited. When you see it on TV and are then are able to play the course, you love to. I learnt a lot from the TV. I know which places you better not go and the strategy to play. It worked out pretty well.
Q. Have you seen greens this fast and bouncy before?
YANI TSENG: I don't think the greens are bouncy. They are beautiful, very smooth, pretty fast....I think it going to be fun. You are going to use a lot of imagination to play on this course.
Q. Do you think all your experience of playing in Australia will be an advantage?
YANI TSENG: I think so. This is pretty close to a links course. That is the golf course I love. I've played a lot of golf in Australia. I've played Royal Adelaide, Royal Sydney. I enjoy playing golf in Australia. I feel very relaxed and comfortable. I am going to challenge the golf course. Yesterday I had a good practice. Today I will go out for another nine to see what is going on.
Q. What do you plan to do in Melbourne off the course?
YANI TSENG: I usually come to watch the tennis Open but not this time. I'll go sight seeing and shopping in Chapel Street. I went to the city when I got here on Sunday to look around.
Q. How do you deal with being No. 1 and having a target on your back?
YANI TSENG: I feel very relaxed. It has been a year. I think this week is my one year anniversary of being No. 1. It is great. In the first couple of months I felt a lot more pressure. But I enjoy it. It was one of my goals last year and I reached it. I feel very happy. I'll still keep working hard because there so many great players here.
Q. What are your goals this year?
YANI TSENG: I work on the physical side a lot to get my cardio better. I think that is my worst part...then my putting, my bunker shots, my driving accuracy, my score average, everything.
Q. What is life like for you when you go home to Taiwan?
YANI TSENG: It was incredible, especially last year with the first LPGA in Taiwan. We had over 100,000 people for four days. It was packed. It was amazing because golf is not as popular as baseball and basketball in Taiwan but now it has changed a lot. I feel really appreciated and supported. It does not matter where in the world I am. They wake up at midnight to watch me on television and cheer for me. That is huge for me and gives me lots of motivation to become better and not just to play for myself. I play for my country and I play for my fans.
Q. Do you feel like a rock star?
YANI TSENG: In Taiwan, yes. It is great. I am very appreciated.
MODERATOR: It is wonderful that you are here. Have you had a chance to look at Royal
CRISTIE KERR: I have. I played 10 holes yesterday. What a spectacular golf course. It is one of the best I've ever seen. The green complexes are so severe and so fast. You really have to know what you are doing out there. Especially for the first week of the year. They really have us by the hair.
MODERATOR: You are a great putter. Will that hold you in good stead this week?
CRISTIE KERR: I think so. I have practised a lot leading up to the start of the season. I'm thankful for that now. It is really all about saving shots around the greens this week, knowing where to miss it and being able to get up and down. You have to be smart. You have to know what you are doing out there.
Q. Have you done any research on the course?
CRISTIE KERR: Of course we watched the Presidents Cup while it was here and we saw some very interesting putts. But until you get here and play the course it is hard to get a real feel for it. I have been in this area. I played the Australian Open four or five times at Yarra Yarra. Obviously, this golf course is the best I've played in Australia. I'm looking forward to competing this week.
Q. You had dinner at the European last night and you have your own line of wine. And it is
connected with breast cancer.
CRISTIE KERR: We make our wine, Curvature, at one of the top 100 wine estates in the world by Robert Parker, Pride Mountain Vineyard. Susan Pride, who is the co-owner of the vineyard, is a breast cancer survivor. My mother had breast cancer, my aunt had breast cancer. The short version of the story is I started a foundation in 2003. It has raised a lot of money with events every year. It has a bricks and mortar health facility in New Jersey. Susan and I decided to make wine together. We give 100 per cent of the profits away to breast cancer and chef Ian at the European was very interested to hear from one of his friends and one of my mates, Lindsey Wright, about the wine. He said, Let's get it over here and have a tasting and possibly carry it. We had a nice dinner there yesterday. The food was fantastic. I am a New Yorker and I told him this was fantastic food. It was a fun time.
Q. Where is the wine made and what sort is it?
CRISTIE KERR: The wine is made in Napa Valley. We make a chardonnay and a cabernet, very limited production. We make about 500 cases of cabernet a year and about 100 cases of chardonnay. A small winery in Napa would make about 15,000 cases. You can see how small we are. It is a passion project and I am learning about wine. I am aspiring one day to a sommelier. It is a great project for me to be involved with, especially with one of the top wine estates in the world. We are making the wine and having the grapes grown in the Napa Valley. It is pretty highly acclaimed. Pride Mountain is served in the White House. We were fortunate enough about six months ago to have it (Curvature Wine) served at a state dinner at the White House. President Obama lost his mother to breast cancer. It was when we went and visited with him a couple of years ago, he had someone from the White House talk to us about our wines. Because Pride Mountain was served there, they wanted to learn more about the project. I got cornered in the White House. They said I had 30 seconds, tell my story. They picked up the wine. That was fun.
Q. Yani is No. 1 in the world. What would it mean for you to get back the top spot?
CRISTIE KERR: I think any time you are No. 1 it is a tremendous accomplishment. That's where I want to be. That's why I play. I've come out this year ready to play. I've got my goals. I want to win again, win multiple events, and hopefully another major. I feel like I am ready to go this year.
Q. Did you take much time off over Christmas?
CRISTIE KERR: We finished in Orlando and had a couple of weeks off. I went and played in Taiwan. It was a fun event. It did not count for ranking but it was still competition. It was nice because you don't want to go three months without feeling that rush of competition. I took three weeks off after that and I've been preparing and practising ever since.
MODERATOR: Great to have you here. Have you had a chance to look at the golf course yet?
MORGAN PRESSEL: I have not. I have been on the property for five minutes. I'm definitely looking forward to getting out and scouting it out, learning the course. I think the more I play, the better off I'll be. This is a pretty challenging test.
MODERATOR: Did you look up the course on the internet? Do you know much about it?
MORGAN PRESSEL: I watched a little bit of the Presidents Cup when it was here. I don't know a ton about it other than that everyone I have told I am coming here has been pretty jealous.
Q. Is this your first time in Australia?
MORGAN PRESSEL: The second time. I played the Lexus Cup in Perth. It is my first time in Melbourne.
Q. When you watched the Presidents Cup you would have seen how fast the greens were.
MORGAN PRESSEL: I definitely saw it was firm and fast. I do not know how it will change a few months later. I don't know if it is still firm and fast. They had a lot of trouble holding some of the greens and were even putting off greens. It was pretty crazy.
Q. Where are you at with your career? You've had some success in the last couple of years. At 23
you are almost a veteran.
MORGAN PRESSEL: This is my seventh year. It was crazy. I definitely feel that the last couple of years were my best and I have been improving little bit by little bit and playing better. Every step is a step in the right direction. That is a good sign and a good feeling for me. I hope I can continue that through this year and break through.
Q: You won your major at 18. Did that come too soon, do you think?
MORGAN PRESSEL: I don't think it could come too soon. I have never really thought that it has come too soon....
Q. In the sense of your development, to be a major winner.
MORGAN PRESSEL: I played great that week. I was obviously ready, as I did win. I don't think it came too soon. I'm still only 23. I'm still pretty young and hopefully have time to win more majors.
Q. When I said “too soon”, I meant in terms of the development of your game.
MORGAN PRESSEL: I think there is more to develop with my game but it might be be more to develop as a person and learning not just golf itself but the rest of the profession and everything else that goes along with it.
Q. Are golfers getting younger? A tournament here two weeks ago was won by a 14-year-old.
MORGAN PRESSEL: It is definitely getting younger. That has been a trend over the last 10 years. It is almost the younger you can get out, the better. I thought I was fairly young but when I come out here I feel old. It is a different feeling for me. To think of that girl winning at 14 in a professional event is pretty amazing.
Q. How do you all catch Yani Tseng? She is obviously a phenomenal player. How do you reel her
MORGAN PRESSEL: I don't know that you can reel her in. You have just got to try and beat her. You continue to work and continue to work harder. I'm trying to play better. She is really, really good. She challenges all of us to elevate our games to higher levels.
Q. Question about your consistency.
MORGAN PRESSEL: I have been consistent. I've had a few top 10s every year and I have been around the same spot on the money list and continually moving up a little each year. This is a good thing. You don't want to go in the other direction. Hopefully I can stay consistent and consistently a little better and keep moving up.
Q. These greens are unlike anything players outside Australia are likely to have seen. What have
you done to try and get yourself ready for them?
MORGAN PRESSEL: My caddie is out there looking at the golf course right now. Hopefully he is taking copious notes.
Q. They say it is like trying to putt a ball from the roof of a Volkswagen and stop it on the hood.
MORGAN PRESSEL: I'm looking forward to it. I think it will be a fun test this week. Any time we can play one of the best courses in the world is a special week. We play a lot of nice courses on tour but we don't play a great number of the truly best courses. We play the US Open every year on a spectacular golf course, like Oakmont and Pinehurst coming up. To play a course like this is definitely a treat for us.
Q. Did you play at St Andrews?
MORGAN PRESSEL: Yes. It is the same sort of thing, and at Royal Lytham, really, truly special golf courses, in terms of the courses themselves and in terms of history.
Q. Did you go anywhere before you came here? Have you seen any of the sights?
MORGAN PRESSEL: I have not seen anything. I got in a few hours ago. I did a quick work-out to get myself adjusted to the time change and now I am going to try and practise a little.
Q. Do you leave on Sunday night or Monday morning?
MORGAN PRESSEL: Sunday night and on to the next week. We don't see much other than the golf course and the hotel room. Hopefully I can get out. I hear there is kind a of hip down-town and a lot of fun places to go. A good restaurant is fine with me.
MODERATOR: Thank goodness you're here. It is good to see you. Last night they made you an
honorary member of Royal Melbourne. That must have given you a lot of pleasure.
KARRIE WEBB: It did. It was a great honor and it was a lovely evening.
MODERATOR: You are one of the great players and it is a great golf club. It is a nice synergy.
KARRIE WEBB: Yes. I was thrilled when they informed me they would like to do that. I did not have to think twice about accepting it.
MODERATOR: Did you practise yesterday?
KARRIE WEBB: I tried to practise on Sunday, which was a bit of a disaster. I went out yesterday and joined a couple of young girls in the Australian amateur squad and played with them. They teed off one and I met them on the fifth tee and played in to 18.
Q. Question about the greens.
KARRIE WEBB: I think they are intimidating greens. I did not grow up in Victoria. I think any of the Victorians who have played a lot of Sand Belt golf will feel more comfortable. In general, we don't play greens of this speed very often. Maybe a couple of times a year. The US Open, obviously, but we are mid-season when we play the US Open. This is just the start of the season. Yesterday the greens were at a very good speed, fair, playable, but you still have to position yourself in the right part of the green. I'd anticipate that they might get a little quicker but they don't have to go crazy.
Q. At the Presidents Cup we fell into the trap of thinking the Americans couldn't handle it. Is it the
same for the women?
KARRIE WEBB: Yes and no. A lot of the girls over there practise on quality golf courses that get their greens up to a pretty quick pace. It is more than pace here. It is the slope. You can have a downhill putt and know it is going to be quick. Yesterday I still hit one six feet past after telling myself it was quick. It is more the slope and allowing enough break but still hitting positive putts. The key, if you've got the guts to do it, is to hit putts that are going to be three or four feet past if they miss. If you don't putt with a little aggression I don't think you are going to make many.
Q. How are you playing? Last year you started really well and tired a bit toward the end of the
KARRIE WEBB: I have not had a bad round yet this year. It has been great. It is the start of the year. Like I said, I have not had to add them up yet. We'll see what happens. Things are feeling pretty good. I made a few swing changes starting in October last year. I actually liked what I saw yesterday. There was a little more consistency. I might have needed the challenge of a tournament setting than hitting balls in the hot, humid weather of north Queensland.
Q. Was there any reason why you went off the boil last year?
KARRIE WEBB: Even though I won a couple of times at the start of last year, I did not feel as though I was swinging it well, or not to my best ability. I won swinging like that. I thought, Well, look out once I start swinging well. I've always relied on that. It is not something that I have had to worry about. I got to the middle of the season and it still wasn't quite there. Then I was over-trying and I got into some quite bad swing habits. I was trying too hard to hit the ball the way I wanted. By September I'd had enough and told Ian that we really needed to fix things up. I committed to that to the end of the year. That is probably why my results weren't that great at the end of the year.
Q. Were you stressing and not relaxing?
KARRIE WEBB: Yes and no. Last year was the first year that I had not missed a cut on the LPGA for a long time, maybe 10 years. It was there enough to compete and make cuts. If people look at my stats, they'll say I did not put very well last year. Actually, I felt it was one of my better putting years. If I hit 12 or 13 greens I'd only have four or five decent chances a round. If you don't make those, you are only making two or three birdies a round. That does not cut it.
Q. How do you feel the scoring will be here?
KARRIE WEBB: I really don't have a feel at all. I don't think there will be low scores. It really depends on the weather. If get some wind out here, that changes everything. Even yesterday, it was not a strong breeze, but that south-westerly is heavier than the northerly. Even though it feels like it is a five yard breeze, it is playing as a club breeze. That is the challenge, to work that out in the next couple of days.
Q. Last time you were here you were joking about the retirement village.
KARRIE WEBB: The Olympics are still the thing I am setting my sights on. If retirement was on the cards, I would not have made these swing changes or worked as hard as I did in the off season. It is there. But as I have said for the past few years, it is closer to the end of my career than the beginning. I really believe I still have some great golf to play. If I can achieve these swing changes, I believe that is a chance....You never say never. I visited Rachel Hetherington on the Gold Coast in January. She told me she would never remarry, would never have children and never teach golf. She has married Greg Ritchie, just had a baby girl and they've just bought a driving range. I thought I'd better be careful about saying what I would never do. If I said I would never play past the Olympics, I'd be reminded about that.
Q. What would you do?
KARRIE WEBB: I don't know. I'm sure there will be different opportunities. I've been fortunate enough in the last month or so to work with Peter Thomson and Ross Perrett on our Olympic course design bid. I just caught up with him last night. The announcement has been postponed for another month. They felt very excited about their presentation. They thought they got a few ticks where other course designers didn't. Fingers crossed. Hopefully, down the road, that is something I'd like to get into.
Q. Did you enjoy that?
KARRIE WEBB: I did. Just being involved with Peter Thomson is quite an honour. He is such a lovely gentleman. Hearing his stories is great. Ross is a very creative guy and full of energy. We had a good couple of meetings. I really enjoyed working with them.
Q. Do you feel you are competing against Lorena Ochoa?
KARRIE WEBB: Not really. They approached me in September or October last year. I did not know that Annika was working with Jack but I did not that Lorena was working with Greg. I had not put much thought into it. It was definitely a pleasant surprise when I got the e-mail.
Q. Have you lost weight?
KARRIE WEBB: Thanks. It must be all the meat pies and beer I've been eating up in north Queensland. The one thing that has changed in the past two years is that I have been doing Pilates. It has really helped me. It helps me with a couple of weaknesses in my body. I am not a fan of working out and Pilates keeps me interested.