ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open
Royal Melbourne Golf Club, Composite Course
Third-round notes and interviews
February 11, 2012
Jessica Korda -4, Rolex Rankings No. 285
So Yeon Ryu, -3, Rolex Rankings No. 25
Hee Kyung Seo -3, Rolex Rankings No. 35
Nikki Campbell -3, Rolex Rankings No. 73
Yani Tseng -2, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Rolex Rankings No. 285 Jessica Korda will take a one-shot lead into the final round of the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open at Royal Melbourne Golf Club. Korda, who is beginning her second year on the LPGA Tour, fired an even-par 73 on Saturday when the Composite Course proved to be quite a tough test for the players thanks to strong winds that gusted throughout the day.
Korda sits at 4-under-par for the tournament after three rounds of play and leads by one shot over second-round leader So Yeon Ryu, 2011 LPGA Rookie of the Year Hee Kyung Seo, and Australian Nikki Campbell.
A love for Down Under? In her second year on the LPGA Tour, Korda is still seeking her first victory and perhaps it would only be fitting if it came here in Melbourne, Australia.
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 would love nothing else than to win another Australian Open in the same city.
“It would mean a lot,” Korda said. “My Dad was world No. 2. I told him I want to beat that. It would be a great accomplishment, an awesome thing.”
Korda, who will turn 19 at the end of this month, qualified for the LPGA Tour by finishing runner-up at the LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament in December 2010. She played in 15 events during her rookie season in 2011 and made eight cuts with her best finish coming in a T19 at the Avnet LPGA Classic in Mobile, Ala.
“It was a learning curve,” Korda said of her rookie season. “I was finishing up high school so it was more of a juggling act than anything. I was not grown up enough. I had to realise a lot of things. It was tough. It was not an easy conversation to have with myself and with my team. I had to grow up a lot last year.”
Gone with the wind: Conditions proved tough for scoring once again on Saturday and that certainly was true for Saturday’s final pairing of So Yeon Ryu and Hee Kyung Seo.
Ryu, who held the overnight lead at 6-under-par, shot a 3-over 76 on Saturday while Seo managed to get around the course with a 2-over 75.
Both players talked about the difficulty of playing Royal Melbourne’s Composite Course in the wind and how it changes the complexity of the golf course.
“Normally my play style is very aggressive but this course it’s definitely not,” said Ryu. “Always my plan is just par. I think today the weather, there was a strong breeze so I think my body is getting too tight. I think maybe tomorrow I want to relax my body a little more and I need a little more practice putting.”
For Seo, who compared Royal Melbourne to a British Open-type golf course, the key this week is to get through the mental challenge as it feels similar to playing in a major.
“It’s one of the hardest courses I have ever played,” said Seo. “It’s probably in the top 5 or the top 3 and sometimes the breeze is quite crazy. Also the green is firm and fast plus the undulations. Most of the players struggled at times. But that’s golf, I think. So I try not to think about what tournament it is, I’m just playing the game. I can’t believe that I’m only one stroke behind the lead so that means that it played really tough today.”
Watch out behind you: Lurking only two strokes back of the leader is Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng, who managed to follow up a difficult 76 on Friday with a 2-under-par 71 on Saturday. Tseng enters Sunday’s final round tied with Katie Futcher and Lorie Kane at 2-under-par.
Tseng, who captured seven victories on the LPGA Tour last year, is no stranger to finding herself in the hunt on Sunday. And based on how difficult Royal Melbourne has been playing over the first three rounds, Tseng feels good about her chances of picking up another victory heading into this week’s final round.
“I think I’m in very good position especially with a course like this,” Tseng said. “So tomorrow I’ll play more aggressive and try to get as many birdies as I can.”
But it seems that Tseng is only willing to be aggressive to a certain point.
“Today I just tried to slow down a bit and be patient all the time because these greens, it’s hard to make birdie and easy to make bogey,” Tseng said. “So you also just have to be patient.”
Saturday is moving day: The best round of the day belonged to Australian Nikki Campbell, who shot a 3-under 70 to move from a T10 into sole possession of third place entering the final round.
Campbell plays on the JLPGA Tour and has won twice in Japan but it would mean a lot for her to win the Women’s Australian Open in her home country.
“Every player would want to win her national championship in any sport,” Campbell said. “Being in a position where I have a chance is more than I could have asked for.”
Tweet of the Day: “My 11 year streak of NOT putting it off the green into the bunker was broken today...so I have that going for me...which is nice...” -- @tiffjoh (Tiffany Joh), who shot a 4-over 77 on Saturday and is tied for 56th at 10-over-par.
Of Note… A total of 17 players are within six shots of the lead heading into Sunday’s final round…LPGA sophomore Ryann O’Toole celebrated her 25th birthday on Saturday. She is tied for 56th at 10-over-par entering Sunday’s final round…Rolex Ranking No. 2 Suzann Pettersen shot a 1-over 74 on Saturday and is tied for 31st at 6-over-par.
MODERATOR: You seemed as steady as rock.
JESSICA KORDA: I felt like that as the start of the day but as things started going on and on, I started feeling shaky as the wind gusted towards the end of the day. I finished pretty strong and kept at level par.
Q. Was your caddie a big help?
JESSICA KORDA: Simon has been a real big help. He knows the greens pretty much better than anybody else I've ever seen. He knows the wind and which greens are firm and which are not. He has been a great help. He has definitely shaved off a lot of shots for me.
Q. Did you look at the leader board?
JESSICA KORDA: I saw a couple of leader boards but honestly I was trying to work out everything. The wind was picking up and coming back down. I had to back off a lot of shots.
Q. Is it unreal to find yourself at the top of the leader board?
JESSICA KORDA:Why don't you ask me that question tomorrow? Now it feels good. I played a good round. I felt good out there. I have one more day left.
Q. How tough were conditions?
JESSICA KORDA: I got here on Saturday and got out on the course on Sunday. I was surprised how low the scores are, actually. It is playing really tough. The greens are firm. We have longer clubs in. It is not easy to stop the ball half the time. The gusting of the wind makes even putts hard
Q. What is your date of birth?
JESSICA KORDA: February 27, 1983. I am 18. I'll be 19 this month.
Q. Did you walk the course with Michael Clayton?
JESSICA KORDA: Ivan Lendl knows him really well and I'm very good friends with all five of his daughters. Ivan was here coaching. My Dad called him up because we needed a caddie. He comes out and plays with Michael all the time. He said Michael was going to give me a caddie. I called him on Saturday night. I said it was a little early because I missed the cut on the Gold Coast. I asked if he could give me a ride to the golf course. I came out here prepared to walk the course by myself but he caddied for me, 18 holes. He was also a really good help. The day that we played we had the wind that we had yesterday. It makes the golf course look a lot different. It was a lot of fun.
Q. Describe your first year on the LPGA Tour last year.
JESSICA KORDA: It was a learning curve. I was finishing up high school so it was more of a juggling act than anything. I was not grown up enough. I had to realise a lot of things. It was tough. It was not an easy conversation to have with myself and with my team. I had to grow up a lot last year.
Q. Have you finished your schooling?
JESSICA KORDA: Yes. It was a big accomplishment for me. Now I can concentrate on my golf.
Q. Your Dad is pretty famous in this part of the world. Two Australian Opens would be a fabulous double.
JESSICA KORDA: It would. My Dad was world No. 2. I told him I want to beat that. It would be a great accomplishment, an awesome thing.
Q. Does he speak of Melbourne?
JESSICA KORDA: Yes. He speaks very highly of it. He was very excited. He could not come out this time. Hopefully he will be out next year with me. He had other obligations at home with my brother and sister.
Q. Does he play golf?
JESSICA KORDA: Yes. But because he caddied for me last year, he was so sick of golf that we only got him out once or twice in December.
Q. Is he a left-handed golfer?
JESSICA KORDA: He's a right-handed golfer, left-handed everything else.
Q. Do you feel comfortable leading?
JESSICA KORDA: It feels like any other day. Don't get me wrong. It feels really good but I have one more day left.
Q. Will you feel nervous tomorrow?
JESSICA KORDA: Definitely but it is nothing to be afraid of. It is a good feeling, to be out there on top of the leader board.
Q. What was your most significant amateur achievement?
JESSICA KORDA: My 2010 was really solid. I was in Argentina, played the Copa del Americas. We won that. The week after that I played the Southern Atlantic Amateur and I won shooting 75, 69, 62, 69. After that I got into Curtis Cup and played really well there. I was second at the US Amateur. I was leading the World Amateur after two days. I got really sick but I think I finished third or fourth all round. I was leading in both qualifiers for the Futures Tour. I had a really good 2010.
SO YEON RYU, Rolex Rankings No. 25
Q. Came into the day as the second-round leader but tough conditions out there. Can you take me through your day?
SO YEON RYU: Normally my play style is very aggressive but this course it’s definitely not. Always my plan is just par. I think today the weather, there was a strong breeze so I think my body is getting too tight. I think maybe tomorrow I want to relax my body a little more and I need a little more practice putting. I think tomorrow is the same conditions. So I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.
Q. Last week at the Australian Ladies Masters, you led until the final round. Now you get a chance to come from behind, will that be any different?
SO YEON RYU: I think it feels more comfortable to me. This course is really tough so even the top 20 players have a winning chance. I think I want to keep focused tomorrow and stick to my plan.
HEE KYUNG SEO, Rolex Rankings No. 35
Q. Tough conditions out there today but are you pretty pleased how you were able to battle through some ups and downs and remain just one shot back of the lead?
HEE KYUNG SEO: I think the key of this week is to be patient, try to keep my patience and wait for the opportunities. I struggled on my tee shot so I had to pitch out from the bush. But it’s OK, I know this kind of course is tough for everyone. So I just kept waiting and tried to relax a little bit. Today was really windy, really breezy so sometimes I was trying to force it and that made a problem. But the last few holes I found a rhythm and the feeling of the shot so I’m excited for tomorrow.
Q. Nice finish with a birdie on 18. Does that give you confidence heading into tomorrow?
HEE KYUNG SEO: Yeah, I think the shot of the day was my second shot because I was trying to get low and it landed exact spot but released a little long. But I just trusted myself on my putting stroke and made birdie.
Q. What is the key for you heading into Sunday’s final round?
HEE KYUNG SEO: I think everybody had a long day today so they might be a little tired and a little tight on their body. So have to stretch after practice and just get rest. Just try to feel fresh tomorrow and have patience.
Q. You had talked about how this course feels like a British Open-type course. Do you feel like you’re playing in a major where you have to take the mentality of just grinding through each round?
HEE KYUNG SEO: Yes, it’s one of the hardest courses I have ever played. It’s probably in the top 5 or the top 3 and sometimes the breeze is quite crazy. Also the green is firm and fast plus the undulations. Most of the players struggled at times. But that’s golf, I think. So I try not to think about what tournament it is, I’m just playing the game. I can’t believe that I’m only one stroke behind the lead so that means that it played really tough today.
NIKKI CAMPBELL, Rolex Rankings No. 73
Q. A fantastic round in difficult conditions.
NIKKI CAMPBELL: The wind was a lot stronger than the first two days. You had to trust your shots a lot more and stay patient. There were some tricky pins today. You just had to trust the wind and hit your shots.
Q. You had a top 10 finish last week. You are playing well.
NIKKI CAMPBELL: This is very different to last week, especially the greens. My caddie said I'd do well this week if I adjusted quicker than everybody else. He is very much into adjusting to what you have play. We have been working a lot on putting speed. Last week you needed to have speed at the hole. This week you need certain putts to die into the hole. It is a different mentality with your putting.
Q. Question about bogeys in the middle of the round.
NIKKI CAMPBELL: I had bogeys on nine and 10. On nine I hit it in a fairway bunker. Nine is a pretty hard hole. I was able to get five iron out of it but I hooked it left. I hit a really good chip and a really good putt that just shaved the edge. It was a bogey but it was almost like a par. It did not feel like a bad bogey. At 10 I misjudged the shot in. I hit it into the front bunker and hit a pretty good putt that just missed. They were bogeys but I felt like I gave myself a chance to make par. That is the way it is sometimes.
Q. Was the wind from a similar direction today?
NIKKI CAMPBELL: I played in the afternoon on the first day and I think it was a similar direction. It was much stronger today. Yesterday it was slightly helping at 18. I hit a little nine iron in. Today it was straight into it and I had to hit a five wood in.
Q. Inaudible question.
NIKKI CAMPBELL: It is exciting. Any time you are in contention, that's what you are after. Hopefully I can go out tomorrow and play well, learn a bit about my game and hit good shots and see where it leaves me at the end of the day...Every player would want to win her national championship in any sport. Being in a position where I have a chance is more than I could have asked for.
Q. Can you prove to a lot of people that you don't have to be in America to be a good golfer?
NIKKI CAMPBELL: In my opinion, you don't have to. I think it depends on what sort of life you want. I have always wanted to live in Australia and if I played in the States I'd be away for a long time. That was one of the reasons I chose Japan. Proving things to people does not really bother me. People will think what they want. As long as I do the things I want to do and remain positive and happy in the game, that's all I'm after.
Q. This could easily develop into the last woman standing. You are a grinder. Will that help?
NIKKI CAMPBELL: I think if I can control my nerves I'll be in with a good shot. But there are a lot of good players at the top of the leader board. I will have to try and play well and see what happens. Anyone could win this. Someone could get on track tomorrow and shoot really low. You never know.
Q. What will you do tonight?
NIKKI CAMPBELL: Hopefully Mum will cook some dinner. Watch a bit of TV. Chill out.
Q. What do you think has been your strength this week?
NIKKI CAMPBELL: Until today I did not feel like I was hitting the ball well. I hit it a lot better today. Maybe course plan and trying to play the golf course and play the shots that it requires. A lot of times on this course you can feed the ball in from different areas. You don't actually need to hit straight at the pin. You can use the wind to help. Trying to play smart golf helps.
Q. Have you played a match with Yani before?
NIKKI CAMPBELL: I played with her in a Lexus Cup a few years ago. I think I was playing with Katherine Hull. I think that is the only time I've played with her.
Q. Did you enjoy it?
NIKKI CAMPBELL: Yes, I really enjoyed it. She is a really nice person and she plays good golf. I think she would have been disappointed. I think she could have had a lot better today. It was a big honour to play with the best player in the world and see how she does it.
Q, What is your history at Royal Melbourne?
NIKKI CAMPBELL: I played here when I was about 13. I played an amateur event here.
Q.Did you have a hole-in-one then?
NIKKI CAMPBELL: Yes. I can't remember which hole. It was an Australian junior or amateur.
YANI TSENG, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Q. How was it for you out there today?
YANI TSENG: It was OK. I missed two short putts and I had two three-putts but everything else was pretty good, pretty consistent. Today was very windy and I finished two-under so that was better than yesterday. I am happy with that. I don’t think the scores are going to go very low today. So I think I’m in very good position especially with a course like this. So tomorrow I’ll play more aggressive and try to get as many birdies as I can.
Q. Considering how up and down your round was yesterday, how pleased are you with where you sit now and how you were able to play today?
YANI TSENG: I still feel very good about where I am. Yesterday I just forgot about it laug. Whatever yesterday was. Today I just tried to slow down a bit and be patient all the time because these greens, it’s hard to make birdie and easy to make bogey so you just have to be patient.
Q. Any keys for you in the final round?
YANI TSENG: I think I can be more aggressive on this golf course because I kind of play lots of shots that were safe. Tomorrow is the last day. Just go for it.
Q.How has it been to start the season on a golf course like this which features major championship-like qualities?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, it feels like a major laug. When you start with this golf course, it’s really tough. But I’m happy. When you play a course like this and challenge yourself, you always know what you can improve on.