ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open
Royal Melbourne Golf Club, Composite Course
Second-round notes and interviews
February 10, 2012
So Yeon Ryu, -6, Rolex Rankings No. 25
Hee Kyung Seo -5, Rolex Rankings No. 35
Yani Tseng E, Rolex Rankings No. 1
LPGA Tour rookie So Yeon Ryu is the second-round leader at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open after shooting a 4-under 69 on Friday. Ryu sits at 6-under-par for the tournament and leads by one over fellow Korean Hee Kyung Seo. The 22-year-old followed up her solid opening-round 71 with another under-par round on Friday that featured six birdies and two bogeys.
Not far behind Ryu and Seo is a group of four players at 4-under-par -- Rolex Rankings No. 10 Stacy Lewis, 2011 European Solheim Cup Team member Melissa Reid, Julieta Granada and Jessica Korda.
Strong first impression: This week marks the first event of Ryu’s rookie season on the LPGA Tour. Although Ryu won the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open, she did it as a member of the KLPGA Tour and it was her victory there that earned her membership on the LPGA Tour for 2012.
Ryu is already off to a hot start in 2012 and appears to be emerging as one of the frontrunners for LPGA Rookie of the Year honors. Last week, Ryu finished second at the Gold Coast RACV Australian Ladies Masters, which is co-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour and the ALPG Tour.
“This season my goal is Rookie of the Year,” Ryu said. “It is still the start of the season. I don't know how I can win the tournament. But the goal is Rookie of the Year.”
Blazing a trail: The round of the tournament currently belongs to last year’s Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year, Hee Kyung Seo. She shot a 7-under 66 on Friday to put herself within a shot of leader So Yeon Ryu.
Seo bogeyed her opening hole, the 10th, before tallying birdies on six of her next eight holes. She finished the day with a total of nine birdies and three bogeys to deliver the most impressive round on a course that’s proven difficult for the majority of players in the field.
“I was trying not to be afraid of the course,” Seo said. “Sometimes when I play this kind of course, I am afraid too much about the course and can't play my game and can't make my own swing. But today I was thinking about routine process and coming on the target and that worked really good.”
Friendly foes: Seo and Ryu are no strangers to seeing themselves together at the top of a leaderboard either. They competed frequently against each other on the KLPGA Tour. And last July, Seo and Ryu dueled for the U.S. Women’s Open title with Ryu emerging victorious following a three-hole aggregate playoff. It marked the first all-international playoff in U.S. Women’s Open history.
Seo was asked what it’s like to face off against her fellow Korean on this big stage once again.
“I have played with her a lot of times in Korea and we know each other very well,” Seo said. “I know she is a great player. Sometimes we motivate each other.”
Battling the conditions: Scores were higher during Friday’s second round on the Composite Course at Royal Melbourne, as the course showed its teeth to the field and only 16 players managed to break par on the second day of play.
While threatening storms stayed away from Royal Melbourne Friday afternoon, the wind picked up and made scoring a bit tougher for the players. A total of 49 players shot 80-or-higher on Friday. And after two rounds of play, only nine players remain under par for the tournament.
Second-guessing that one: It didn’t take long after she finished play on Friday for Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng to second guess a few of the decisions that she made on the seventh hole of her round.
The hole was one that Tseng would rather just forget, as she recorded a quadruple bogey on the par-4 which sent her into a short tailspin in the middle of her round. After pulling her tee shot left on No. 7, Tseng found her ball in an unplayable lie. She took a drop, which was still in the deep grass, and from there, things turned ugly. It took her three more shots to get the ball back in the fairway and she still had 93 yards remaining for her sixth shot onto the green. Tseng managed to hit it on the green and two putt to finish off the snowman, which she said was her first eight since last year’s Evian Masters.
Afterward, Tseng said that she regretted not choosing a better way to get out of the trouble in the first place.
“My first instinct was to go back to the tee,” Tseng said. “I should have decided that way too, to save a couple shots.”
Tseng then followed up her eight on the seventh with back-to-back bogeys on No. 8 and 9, putting her -6-over-par in a stretch of three holes that she said “felt like they took me forever.” But the world No. 1 still managed to get things back on track as she shot 2-under on her back nine to finish the day with a 3-over 76. And heading into the weekend, Tseng is still only 6 shots back of the lead.
“I mean [after the 8] I almost cried,” Tseng said. “But no I didn’t. I hung in there and I did a good job….I’m glad I was able to fight back on the back nine.”
Staying on for the weekend: A total of 73 players made the cut, which fell at 7-over-par 153
Tweet of the Day: “Note to golf course designers.. holes don't have to be long to be hard. Think No. 5 at Royal Melbourne is proving that! #traditionalisbest” -- @BJMGolf (Becky Morgan, who shot a 2-under 71 on Friday)
Of Note…Rookie Lexi Thompson celebrated her 17th birthday on Friday. She shot her second straight 1-over 74 and currently sits in a tie for 19th at 2-over-par… Rolex Rankings No. 2 Suzann Pettersen bounced back from an opening-round 80 to shoot a 2-under 71 on Friday and make the cut…In a stretch of seven holes on the back nine on Friday, Stacy Lewis recorded an eagle, two birdies, three bogeys and a triple – putting her a combined 2-over on that stretch…Last week’s Australian Ladies Masters champion on the LET Tour, Christel Boeljon, shot 82 on Friday to miss the cut by three shots.
SO YEON RYU, Rolex Rankings No. 25
MODERATOR: A great round today. You have carried on from last week.
SO YEON RYU: Today my plan was always just par. This course is really tough. Last week I played really well but I had a problem. My coach found the problem. Sometimes I lose concentration. He wanted me to feel putt on the putting green. I practised just feeling putts. Sometimes, if I am really nervous, my routine is so fast. If I am nervous, I just slow down and really focus on my ball. I think the tee shot is really important. My driver and three wood are almost perfect. I felt really great.
MODERATOR: This course is very different to Royal Pines. Was it difficult to adjust?
SO YEON RYU: The first green is really hard. It is a little different grass and the greens are not flat. Last week I used my driver a lot. This course you can use your four iron, three wood or utility club (from the tee).
Q. Do you feel let down at all by last week's result?
SO YEON RYU: In the final round I was really nervous. I think the reason was that I really wanted to win the tournament...I think it was really high expectations of myself. I was thinking about just winning and trophy. Maybe I lost concentration. But it was great learning for me. It was a good time. If I win the tournament it is more better but it was really great study for me.
Q. Did you feel comfortable on the course today?
SO YEON RYU: Yes. Because Royal Pines is not easy, but better than this course. Lots of players played really well there and shot a lot of birdies. This course is pretty tough. I think par is a great result. It feels more comfortable.
Q. It seems strange to hear you speak about nerves after winning the US Open in a play-off.
SO YEON RYU: The US Open is a big major tournament. That situation was really tough for me. Every tournament is really important for me, even if it is not a major tournament. The nervous emotion is always tough.
Q. What are your goals for the year?
SO YEON RYU: This season my goal is rookie of the year. It is still the start of the season. I don't know how I can win the tournament. But the goal is rookie of the year. I want to enjoy the season....if I won rookie of the year, I think I must win the tournament. This year a lot of great rookies play the tournaments. Now I am not thinking of the win, just how I can prepare for the tournament. How can I prepare comfortable mind. But if the season is coming through, maybe I want to win the other tournaments.
Q. You are playing so well in Australia. Is that because of all the Vegemite you are eating?
SO YEON RYU: I think so. And my coach is Australian. He is travelling with me last week and this week. He is a coach but feels like a father so maybe I feel more comfortable here.
Q. Do you like to lead tournaments or come from behind?
SO YEON RYU: It's a really tough question but I think leading is a lot better.
HEE KYUNG SEO, Rolex Rankings No. 35
MODERATOR: That was a wonderful round of golf.
HEE KYUNG SEO: Thank you. It is very hard to play this great course. I know it is not an easy course so I was nervous. But I trust myself and I trust my caddie and try to come in on my target. My routine worked and I am very happy today.
MODERATOR: Is all of your game good?
HEE KYUNG SEO: The putting was good yesterday and today. Today I had had good second shots, iron shots. I had a lot of great birdie opportunities. I made a lot of putts and it goes to a good score. My caddie helped a lot with reading the breeze so I could use the breeze very much.
Q. Your caddie is Dean Herden. Was his course knowledge helpful?
HEE KYUNG SEO: He is not just a caddie for me. He is like a brother, a dad sometimes, a friend. He makes me really comfortable all the time. Sometimes he pushes me hard. Not on the course but in training. I am very happy and very thankful to him.
Q. What is your lowest score?
HEE KYUNG SEO: Eight under.
Q. Did you have nine birdies in that?
HEE KYUNG SEO: I think so. I think I've had 10 birdies before.
Q. How much more comfortable did you feel today against earlier in the week? Do you think you understand Royal Melbourne better?
HEE KYUNG SEO: I was trying not to be afraid of the course. Sometimes when I play this kind of course, I am afraid too much about the course and can't play my game and can't make my own swing. But today I was thinking about routine process and coming on the target and that worked really good.
Q. Have you played similar courses?
HEE KYUNG SEO: This is a really tough course but I like it.
Q. How is it different to Broadmoor where you were second in the US Open?
HEE KYUNG SEO: Broadmoor was a really tough course too but here I feel like I'm in England. It feels like the British Open with a lot of breeze and firm greens. But when I get on the green the roll is really true. If I make a good stroke, I can make the putt and get confidence.
Q. What are your plans for the year?
HEE KYUNG SEO: The LPGA Tour.
Q. What are your recollections of the US Open play-off (with Ryu). Are you friends?
HEE KYUNG SEO: Yes. I have played with her a lot of times in Korea. We know each other very well. I know she is a great player. Sometimes we motivate each other.
Q. You are not scared of getting into a shoot-out with her?
HEE KYUNG SEO: No. I am happy to play with her.
YANI TSENG, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Q. What happened on No. 7 when you recorded an 8?
YANI TSENG: I was just thinking too much and I pulled it to the left off the tee. My first instinct is to go back to hitting again off the tee. But it looks like we have room to hit it from there to punch out and I decide I will. And I didn’t punch out good. I punched into the rough again and then lay up into the rough again and then lay up into the fairway. Then 93 yards for my No. 6 shot and I two-putt to finish. I don’t remember the last time that I had eight.
Q. So you didn’t have a penalty drop? Someone said that you had a penalty drop.
YANI TSENG: That’s right. The first shot. I decided to drop there instead of going back to the tee. Because most of the time…I don’t know. My first instinct is to go back to the tee. I should have decided that way too, to save a couple shots.
Q. The punch out didn’t come right out?
YANI TSENG: No, it came out too low so it’s still in the rough.
Q. Do you remember when your last 8 was?
YANI TSENG: I don’t know. I don’t when I had an 8 for the last time. Wait, I remember. It was last year at Evian. So that was pretty quick laug.
Q. The good news is that you’re not all that far back from the lead.
YANI TSENG: No, I mean [after the 8] I almost cried. But no I didn’t. I hung in there and I did a good job. I was trying to make birdie on No. 8 but I three-putted. That was an easy par-5 and I bogeyed that hole and I had a bogey on No. 9 again so those three holes felt like they took me forever. Those three holes I shot 6-over so I feel like a long day today. But I’m glad I was able to fight back on the back nine and finish 2-under on the back nine and even for two days.