ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open: Final-round Notes and Interviews

ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open
Royal Melbourne Golf Club, Composite Course
Melbourne, Australia
Final-round notes and interviews
February 12, 2012

Jessica Korda -3, Rolex Rankings No. 285
Brittany Lincicome, -3, Rolex Rankings No. 9
Stacy Lewis -3, Rolex Rankings No. 10
Yani Tseng -1, Rolex Rankings No. 1


Second-year LPGA Tour member Jessica Korda sank a 25-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a six-way playoff to become a Rolex First-Time Winner at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open at Royal Melbourne Golf Club. Korda, who held a slim one-stroke after three rounds, fired a 1-over 74 to earn her way into an LPGA record-tying, six-way playoff that included Brittany Lincicome, Stacy Lewis, Julieta Granada, Hee Kyung Seo and So Yeon Ryu.

The playoff was held on the famous 18th hole on the Composite Course at Royal Melbourne. The six players were broken into two groups of three. Lincicome joined Ryu and Seo in a playoff threesome. Korda was grouped with Lewis and Granada.

All six players made par on the hole in their first attempt, forcing a second playoff hole and it was then that Korda took advantage. After hitting her approach shot to 25 feet, Korda sank the right-to-left breaking putt and celebrated with a large fist pump. Granada still had a birdie putt from around 12 feet but missed it to give Korda her first professional victory.

“I had one concept in my head...I was really calm,” Korda said. “I knew what the putt did because I'd had it before and it did not move. I was a little higher up and more to the right. I knew the line and I knew the speed. All I had to do was just hit it. It started breaking. I thought, Oh my goodness no, don't lip out, don't break too early. I don't even know what side of the hole it hit. I was overwhelmed by everything.”

Youth wins: The first victory of the LPGA season belongs to a young American and with her victory, Korda joined an elite group of young winners in LPGA history.

Korda, who will turn 19 on Feb. 27, became the fourth youngest winner of a 72-hole LPGA Tour event and the sixth youngest winner in LPGA Tour history. She also is the fifth player to win an LPGA event at the age of 18 or younger
Youngest winners in LPGA history
Lexi Thompson, 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic (72-hole event) at 16 years, 8 months, 8 days
Marlene Hagge, 1952 Sarasota Open (18-hole event) at 18 years, 14 days
Marlene Hagge, 1952 Bakersfield Open (18-hole event) at 18 years, 2 months, 15 days
Paula Creamer, 2005 Sybase Classic presented by Lincoln Mercury (72-hole event) at 18 years, 9 month, 17 days
Morgan Pressel, 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship (72-hole event) at 18 years, 10 months, 9 days
Jessica Korda, 2012 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open (72-hole event) at 18 years, 11 months, 16 days
Paula Creamer, 2005 Evian Masters (72-hole event), 18 years, 11 months, 18 days
Amy Alcott, 1975 Orange Blossom Classic (54-hole event) at 19 years, 1 day


Down Under feels like home: Jessica’s father, Petr Korda, is a former professional tennis player who won the 1998 Australian Open, which is held in Melbourne. It’s certainly the most famous victory of Petr’s career and Jessica said she spoke with her father early this week about his memories of the city.

Korda spoke with her father, who caddied for her for most of 2011, after the win. And even though he couldn’t be there to see the win in person, Jessica made sure to acknowledge her father’s influence by performing one of his trademark scissor kicks from his tennis career during the trophy ceremony.

“When we spoke on Monday, Dad said Melbourne had been good to him,” Korda said. “As I was walking around here, there was a Melbourne sign on every green. It made me smile because it reminds me of the good times. I love watching Melbourne tennis. I watched all the time. It is a really special place for my family. For my first win, I honestly could not have thought of a better place.”

No sophomore slump here: Korda qualified for the LPGA Tour by finishing runner-up at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament as an amateur in December 2010. She turned professional after that tournament and played in 15 events during her rookie season in 2011, making eight cuts with her best finish coming in a T19 at the Avnet LPGA Classic in Mobile, Ala. While her rookie year didn’t go quite as well as Korda hoped, she said that she took a lot of lessons from it.

“A lot of the hard work I put in in the off season, all the times I was down last year, it is all worth it,” Korda said. “It made me grow up. It made me realize that you've got to change your life to live out here and this is proof. I know that all the hard hours I put in and will keep putting in are really worth it. Every moment.”

Korda became the first Rolex First-Time Winner of 2012, after there were four such winners in 2011.

Moving on Up: With her victory, Korda is expected to take a major jump in the Rolex Rankings. She is unofficially projected to move from No. 285 to No. 30 in the world.

So close! While it was Korda who ended up sinking a critical birdie putt on 18, the playoff might well have ended on the first hole if not for an unlucky break for Brittany Lincicome.

Lincicome had struck her approach shot on the first playoff hole to about three feet. Off the putter, it looked like her short putt was going in but instead it did a complete 360 lip out that forced Lincicome to settle for par.

“The first one I hit out of my hands, I swear I haven’t been shaking that bad, even any win that I have had, I haven’t been shaking that bad,” Lincicome said. “It was pretty intense. It was interesting, to see that I couldn’t have hit it any better, it was perfect, perfect speed, it was up hill, lips out and comes back to you.”

Feeling Under the Weather: It was a tough start to the day for Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng, who was battling a stomach bug, when she teed off for Sunday’s final round.

It looked like her ailment might really be bothering Tseng when she tallied a triple bogey on the fourth and followed with a bogey on the seventh to put her 4-over for the day thru seven holes. But while her victory chances took a hit early on, Tseng did manage to rebound. She had five birdies in her final 10 holes, unfortunately for Tseng, she also added two bogeys in the middle of that stretch.

“I still felt like I had a chance,” Tseng said. “If I didn’t have the two bogeys late, I probably still would have had a chance. So it’s good that I hung in there and fought back.”

Final round push: The round of the day on Sunday belonged to Anna Nordqvist, who fired a 5-under 68. Nordqvist began the day tied for 25th but her stellar round moved her into a T9, earning the Sweden native her first top-10 finish of the year.

Things certainly turned around for Nordqvist over the weekend at Royal Melbourne. She was right on the cut line at 7-over-par 153 after two rounds of play.

Golden ticket winners: Jessica Korda, Brittany Lincicome, and Stacy Lewis punched their "Ticket to CME Group Titleholders" at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, 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.

 

Korda is going to Canyon Ranch. With her victory at the 2012 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, Jessica Korda 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.

 

Tweet of the Day: “Very exciting finish. Congrats to all the ladies in the playoff, and big congrats to @JessicaKorda for the Win! Sorry for clogging timeline.” -- @Paige_Mackenzie, who provided detailed play-by-play on Twitter during the six-way playoff.

Of Note…14-year-old Lydia Ko shot an even-par 73 on Sunday and finished as the low amateur of the tournament at 3-over-par. The New Zealand native became the youngest person ever to win a professional golf tournament two weeks ago…The top Australian finishers in the field were Sarah Kemp and Nikki Campbell, who both tied for 12th…

JESSICA KORDA, Rolex Rankings No. 285

MODERATOR: Congratulations to the 2012 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open champion. How do you feel?
JESSICA KORDA: Overwhelmed.

MODERATOR: Did you speak to your Dad?
JESSICA KORDA: I did. I got to speak to everybody except my brother who I think was sleeping. I was surprised that my sister was up. It was awesome.

MODERATOR: What did your Dad say to you?
JESSICA KORDA: That he was so proud of me and we'll talk about the three-putts after.

Q. What were you thinking as you stood over the putt on the 74th hole? Were you thinking clearly?
JESSICA KORDA: I was thinking really clearly. I had one concept in my head...I was really calm. I knew what the putt did because I'd had it before and it did not move. I was a little higher up and more to the right. I knew the line and I knew the speed. All I had to do was just hit it. It started breaking. I thought, Oh my goodness no, don't lip out, don't break too early. I don't even know what side of the hole it hit. I was overwhelmed by everything.

Q. What about earlier in the afternoon? Did you think you had missed your chance?
JESSICA KORDA: I think I bogeyed three holes in a row. I thought, You've got to be kidding me. I was lipping out and not reading my putts correctly. But I thought, Come on, you can still get it back. I was talking to Damon and Simon (caddies) as I was walking off the tee on 17. Simon said, Come on, have a strong finish...I was walking down the fairway like an absolute goof. After I made the birdie I was okay, like, I can do this. I can birdie the last hole. I saw the girls making mistakes on the green. I saw the opportunity but unfortunately I did not read the putt correctly.

Q. You ran from the 16th green to the 17th tee.
JESSICA KORDA: I was kind of upset. I needed to let off some steam. The way I throw of steam is I go for a run. It calmed me down. I was running around the parking lot this morning too. I was doing circles around the cars.

Q. You've won your first LPGA event at the age of 18. What does it mean to you?
JESSICA KORDA: A lot of the hard work I put in in the off season, all the times I was down last year, it is all worth it. It made me grow up. It made me realise that you've got to change your life to live out here and this is proof. I know that all the hard hours I put in and will keep putting in are really worth it. Every moment.

Q. Do you get an exemption on the LPGA for the win?
JESSICA KORDA: I have no idea. I have not looked into that.

Q. Did you do the kick your father did when he won here?
JESSICA KORDA: I did, in the ceremony.

Q. Was it as high as Dad?
JESSICA KORDA: We'll see. I don't know.

Q. Have you thought about that double?
JESSICA KORDA: When we spoke on Monday Dad said Melbourne had been good to him. As I was walking around here, there was a Melbourne sign on every green. It made me smile because it reminds me of the good times. I love watching Melbourne tennis. I watched all the time. It is a really special place for my family. For my first win, I honestly could not have thought of a better place.

Q. You have been here for four weeks. Did you feel you game was building?
JESSICA KORDA: As I said, I was working really hard in the off season and taking a lot of money off my friends. I felt good. I got sick in Canberra. I finished my antibiotics two days ago. I was not doing well with my health. I was stuffy and coughing and really tired. Missing the cut on the Gold Coast was actually a
blessing in disguise. It gave me time to rest. I had been playing well. It was time to take the rust off and get healthy.

Q. Was it a flu virus?
JESSICA KORDA: I have no idea. I flew into Canberra and two days later I had a sore throat. I thought it was allergies but it was not.

BRITTANY LINCICOME, Rolex Rankings No. 9

Q. Take us through that putt?

BRITTANY LINCICOME: Which one! they of them were both unbelievable. The first one I hit out of my hands, I swear I haven’t been shaking that bad, even any win that I have had, I haven’t been shaking that bad. It was pretty intense. It was interesting, to see that I couldn’t have hit it any better, it was perfect, perfect speed, it was up hill, lips out and comes back to you.

Same thing on the second putt, hit it exactly where I wanted to hit it and it just didn’t break, so I guess it was the luck of the draw, but it was nice to be in a playoff and play a couple of extra holes and hang out here a little bit longer.

Q. What was it like to be in six way playoff?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: It was pretty neat to be involved in it, it was nice coming down the stretch I knew I needed to birdie a couple of holes to even have a chance to get into a playoff, so I had a nice birdie on 17 and almost made birdie on 18 too.

Q. Overall thoughts from the week and play this course?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: It was pretty unbelievable, when I got here I didn’t realise it was more like a links style golf course, so I was really worried. Got here on Monday, I was looking around and I really didn’t think I would play that well, so to end up being in a playoff on Sunday, obviously the golf course was very good to me and I was hitting really good all week and I can take a lot of good things out of this week.

Q. Thoughts on Jessica, winning in six person playoff at Royal Melbourne?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: Pretty unbelievable, everything we have been reading on twitter, I guess her dad winning an Australian Open here, it was just a perfect fitting for her to win this event, and I wish her all the best she is just a great girl.

STACY LEWIS, Rolex Rankings No. 35

Q. I asked Brittany about her putt on that first playoff hole, what about your putt Same with your putt on that first playoff hole?

STACY LEWIS: It looked good all the way, I thought I had made it, I think with just a little less speed it would have been in, it was kinda my shot at it, it just didn’t quite work out.

Q. Overall thoughts of being part of a six player playoff and what that kind of experience was like?
STACY LEWIS: I’ve never done a playoff in general on the LPGA, so it was interesting. It was hard having to wait and sit back on the tee and watch was going on, but it was a lot of fun though.

Q. Great day for you overall, getting yourself back into it, take me through your day?
STACY LEWIS: I was just glad to post the number that I did, to even get in a playoff after the way I played yesterday was pretty incredible and just stayed patient out there, I had a couple of putts lip out, so you never know.

Q. Thoughts on Jessica, you been through this last year, getting your first win on tour – imagine, remember those nerves, that was like in this situation.
STACY LEWIS: She seemed pretty calm out there, but I don’t know, but it is a great win for her. She kinda struggle last year and didn’t have the best year I dont think, not what she was expecting, and to come out and get a win in the first tournament of the year that is a huge confidence builder for her. She is a young American, so I love to see that.

YANI TSENG, Rolex Rankings No. 1

Q. How are you feeling? I heard that you were a little under the weather this morning before teeing off.

YANI TSENG: My stomach was hurting really bad. This week has been kind of a nightmare. I had the stomach and my body doesn’t feel good. I don’t know where I finished but I have lot of chances to win in this tournament but I didn’t take the opportunity. The course was really tough so I do my best. I had an 8, I had a 7. I had a higher score on each hole. It’s tough when you have a double or a triple bogey. But I’m glad that I fought back on the back nine a little bit. This golf course is just really tough and I’m looking forward to play the next tournament.

Q. You had that triple bogey 7 on the fourth hole. Did that really take some of the wind out of your sails early in the round?
YANI TSENG: That 7 really felt like I put myself out of position. But I tell myself, it’s OK. It’s a tough course and just fight back to even. Try as hard as you can but before I played this round, I told my caddy Jason that if I shot a couple under I was going to win today. But I shot 1-over. I still do my best. It’s still a little disappointed in the way I play but everything was OK.

Q. Still have to be pleased that even after getting to 4-over early in your round, you were able to bounce back and tally some birdies in there too.
YANI TSENG: I still felt like I had a chance. If I didn’t have the two bogeys late, I probably still would have had a chance. So it’s good that I hung in there and fought back.

Topics: ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open, Korda, Jessica, Lincicome, Brittany, Lewis, Stacy, Tseng, Yani, Notes and Interviews [+]

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