Kia Classic first-round notes and interviews

Kia Classic
La Costa Resort and Spa
Carlsbad, Calif.
First-round notes and interviews
March 22, 2012

Yani Tseng -5, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Caroline Hedwall -5, Rolex Rankings No. 24
Ji Young Oh -5, Rolex Rankings No. 342
Suzann Pettersen -4, Rolex Rankings No. 3
Jennifer Johnson -4, Rolex Rankings No. 151
Belen Mozo -2, Rolex Rankings No. 164

Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng, two-time LPGA Tour winner Ji Young Oh and second-year LPGA Tour member Caroline Hedwall are tied for the first-round lead at the 2012 Kia Classic after shooting 5-under 67s on Thursday. Both Tseng and Oh had six birdies and one bogey while Hedwall tallied seven birdies and two bogeys in the opening round on the South Course at La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, Calif.

Sitting one stroke behind the leaders are Rolex Rankings No. 3 Suzann Pettersen, No. 8 Jiyai Shin, No. 10 Brittany Lincicome and Carlsbad native Jennifer Johnson. They all opened with a 4-under-par 68 in the first round.

Routine start: It’s becoming common practice to see Yani Tseng’s name at the top of the leaderboard and so it was no surprise to see her name up there once again after Thursday’s first round of the Kia Classic.

Certainly Tseng’s fellow competitors, including one of her playing partners on Thursday Suzann Pettersen, have come to expect the world’s No. 1 to deliver these kind of performances. That’s true even when Tseng doesn’t necessarily have her ‘A’ game as was the case in the first round when she hit only 8 fairways and 12 greens in regulation.

“She hits a lot of great shots,” Pettersen said. “Her bad shots are still very acceptable. She recovers well from whenever she is in trouble. She has a pretty sharp short game. That's probably what saves her the most. She can be more aggressive and even afford to miss a green on the short side, even kind of saving her par. So overall, I think she's a very good ball striker. I think that's probably one of her strengths. She hits it fairly straight, and like I said, the more you practice, the luckier you get.”

Tseng has been on quite a run recently, which includes winning two of the first four LPGA events this season. She was asked on Thursday if she’s had time to really appreciate what she’s been able to do over the past year since taking over the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Rankings.

“I'm enjoying it,” Tseng said. “I'm always excited for every week, every week that's coming up and trying to win every tournament.”

“I'm learning from mistakes and every tournament I'm learning something, so that's pretty good for me,” she added. “Because it's very exciting to see this year what can I improve on my game? What can I improve on my fitness, my mental? And just to see how far I can go.”

Two-time LPGA Tour winner Ji Young Oh could be deemed an “unexpected co-leader” after 18 holes of the Kia Classic. The 23-year-old South Korean closed her round with back-to-back birdies to shoot 5-under-par 67, the lowest number she has tallied on the LPGA Tour since late 2009 when she shot 67 in the final round of the Mizuno Classic. Oh, who made just one cut in 11 events last season while battling an injury to her left hip, recorded six birdies – all of which were putts within six feet – and one bogey to match scorecards with Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng. So far this season, Oh has missed the cut at the season-opening ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open and tied for 68th at last week’s RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup.

Late add: The first round of the Kia Classic was nearly complete when a third player joined the top of the leaderboard. Caroline Hedwall, who teed off in the second to last group off No. 1 on Thursday, shot a 5-under-67 to take a share of the lead with Yani Tseng and Ji Young Oh. Hedwall, who has finished no worse than T12 in her first three LPGA events in what is her sophomore season on Tour, is still seeking her first career win on the LPGA Tour. She played the majority of her events last season on the Ladies European Tour and earned LET Rookie of the Year honors.

“I've been hitting it very solid lately,” Hedwall said. “I felt like if I could have a good day, I could shoot low. I made a lot of birdies and made it close, so that helped a lot.”

Carlsbad native and La Costa member Jennifer Johnson stole the spotlight as the sun faded over the Pacific Ocean on Thursday. The 20-year-old local star shot 4-under-par 68 to move into a four-way tie for third after 18 holes at the third-annual Kia Classic. Johnson, who made 10 of 13 cuts during her rookie campaign last season, carded six birdies and two bogies on her home turf in front of 15 friends and family who watched her round.

“You definitely have some expectations for yourself,” Johnson said of playing her home course. “But the greens are a little bumpy, and I think that's where I have the advantage, just knowing sometimes they don't break. Sometimes they bump in or bump out, and definitely the ball had a little base, so that helped too.”

Tee to green, Rolex Rankings No. 3 Suzann Pettersen is often considered one of the best ball-strikers in the women’s game, but her putter occasionally leaves a bit to be desired. The 30-year-old Norwegian last season enlisted the help of famed putting guru Dave Stockton in advance of the Sybase Match Play Championship, where she recorded her seventh-career LPGA Tour victory. Pettersen, who now boasts eight victories, again called on Stockton this week to work on her stroke in advance of Thursday’s first round at La Costa Resort and Spa’s South Course.

“Since I started with him almost a year ago, for the most part, I've been putting a lot, lot better,” she said. “It's a lot less technical which is, for me, probably the biggest change. But that being said, you want putting to be the easiest thing you do on the golf course. That's what we're trying to make it.”

Pettersen used 26 putts on Thursday to move into a tie for third at 4-under-par 68 with Rolex Rankings No. 8 Jiyai Shin, No. 10 Brittany Lincicome and La Costa member Jennifer Johnson

Rolex Rankings No. 8 Jiyai Shin may be trying to avenge her 72nd hole defeat at last season’s Kia Classic, played outside of Los Angeles at Pacific Palms. The former World No. 1 sits one shot off the lead in a tie with Suzann Pettersen at 4-under-par 68 after 18 holes of play at La Costa Resort and Spa. Last year, Shin was the victim of a final-hole birdie from eventual winner Sandra Gal, leaving her alone in second place. The 2009 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year, Shin has finished no worse than a tie for 18th in four starts this season including a third place finish at the Honda LPGA Thailand where she closed the week with three consecutive rounds in the 60’s.

Lucky lady? While Pettersen was quick to praise Tseng, she also couldn’t help but to chide her good friend a little for what she called a “lucky” shot on their final hole of the day.

Having teed off on No. 10, the group of Pettersen, Tseng and Paula Creamer finished up their rounds on the par-4 ninth. After pushing her drive to the left, Tseng hit her second shot to the fringe on the left side of the green and watched it kick down the downslope and wind up three or four feet from the pin.

“You didn't see the last shot?” Pettersen said. “She hit it left of the green, and got the bounce and it came in to about four feet. But like I said, it's a great shot. It's good to see young, aggressive players because I used to be like that as well. You just get a little bit more conservative the older you get.”

Christina Kim, Brittany Lincicome and Stacy Lewis will pull double duty on Friday at the Kia Classic. The trio will leave the golf clubs behind after the second round in favor of jobs with Golf Channel. Christina Kim will take over for play-by-play man Rich Lerner in the booth, Brittany Lincicome will try her hand at producing the telecast and Stacy Lewis will venture out to the 13th hole to operate a camera. Tune into second round coverage of the Kia Classic on Friday from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Eastern.

Tweet of the Day: “Saw Juli Inkster @LPGAKiaClassic following her buddy Pat Hurst. Elbow is feeling good. She's putting again. Plotting a late June return.” -- @MikeScanlanLPGA

Of Note…Defending champion Sandra Gal shot an opening-round, even-par 72 and currently sits in a T28…Amy Yang has put herself in good position through one round after shooting a 69 on Thursday. Yang, who is still seeking her first career win, had three top-5 finishes last season including two runner-up finishes…Karen Stupples withdrew after the first round of play on Thursday…Michelle Wie will be the first female guest of David Feherty on his Golf Channel show Feherty which will air on Monday night at 10 p.m. ET. The episode was shot on the campus of Stanford University where Wie has been attending college. The 22-year-old took her last set of finals at Stanford last week.

YANI TSENG, Rolex Rankings No. 1

THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome one of our current leaders, Yani Tseng, into the interview room. Congratulations, 5-under 67. Can you take me through the round and how it went out there today for you?
YANI TSENG: Today I've just been really patient because I don't hit lots of fairways. I think I only hit six fairways today. This golf course is very narrow, and the rough is really long. If you don't hit on the fairways, it's kind of very hard to get close to the pin.
But I got pretty lucky. I got some good bounces, and even if I hit into a rough, I still had a good lie. So I'm just pretty lucky for today. I've just been really patient all day, and made a few good putts and good save putt. On number 17 I missed about a six-foot putt, but I hit a good stroke and finished with a birdie on the 18th hole. It was a pretty happy day.

THE MODERATOR: I was going to say that blip, because you started on ten, on the 8th hole was really the only trouble you had today. What happened on that hole, and can you just take me through that hole?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I hit a 7 iron on the tee shot, and I hit a little push and hit it into the bunker and it plugged in the bunker, so I don't have a good lie there.
I chipped out pretty good with six feet, and just missed it a little bit to the right.

THE MODERATOR: Coming off what was kind of a wild and crazy week last week in Phoenix and finishing so late, how were you able to kind of make sure that you kept that momentum from that win this week?
YANI TSENG: You know, like last week, I had so much fun. Even we finished in the dark, but I was happy that I won. Last week was a great week, but this week is a new week. I'm always really looking forward to playing the next tournament.
Last week is already passed, and I just enjoyed it. And I just keep saying to myself, just keep enjoying what I'm doing right now and having fun on the course and smile more on the golf course.

THE MODERATOR: Quite an impressive group you had out there today with you and Suzann and Paula. How much fun was it to see those crowds and play with two competitors like Suzann and Paula?
YANI TSENG: It's fun playing with Suzann and Paula. They both push me harder. We both push each other and try to make more birdies. Everybody's hitting so close. If you hit it one way right, it's like, oh, I'm the worse on this team.
It was great. It was so much fun. We're all good friends and we talk a lot. It's always very good to play with a good friend and good competitor, and you can always have fun on the golf course.

Q. How was it today playing the two nines? They seemed very different. Which nine holes do you like better and which do you think fit your game better?
YANI TSENG: I think the two nines are very different. I don't know which one fit me better, but I just focused on one shot at a time. But the front nine, the greens were very, very small, and it was much narrower fairway, but the course is shorter.
Like we played the back nine as the front nine today. Because we started the back nine, so for me the back nine was the front nine today. So when it gets more towards the afternoon, the greens are a little more bumpy because everybody was stepping on it. So today I felt like the back nine green was a little harder for us to try to Milwaukee a putt.
But this week you're going to miss some. I mean, you just need to focus on your stroke and do the best can you do.

Q. Suzann said you got lucky on the 18th hole, your 18th, the 9th hole. What was the luck? We didn't see it.
YANI TSENG: Yeah, it's lucky. I hit it and pulled a drive to the left and it ends up not being a bad lie. And I hit it on the green with my second shot. I hit a good second shot, I just didn't fade. Then it hit the fringe, and the slope was like this, so it kicked to the pin. So it was like three feet, two feet. It got very close to the pin.

Q. Was that lucky or a good shot?
YANI TSENG: I think I hit a good shot. Sometimes you hit a good shot, you get a good luck and a good bounce. Sometimes you hit a good shot and get a bad bounce. You never know.
But I would say it's pretty lucky, yeah.

Q. Do you feel as focused or as engaged in your game as you have ever really? I mean, you're on this incredible streak. How does it feel to be doing what you're doing right now?
YANI TSENG: Enjoying it. I'm enjoying it. I'm always excited for every week, every week that's coming up and trying to win every tournament. Try to do the best I can do. Now I feel I can organize better my balance. I don't feel as much pressure at the beginning of this year. As soon as I'm learning from mistakes and every tournament I'm learning something, so that's pretty good for me because it's very exciting to see this year what can I improve on my game? What can I improve on my fitness, my mental, and to see how far I can go.

THE MODERATOR: We talk so much about how focused you are on the golf course, but you like to have a lot of fun off of it too. This week we did some Golf Channel shoots and you got to have a little fun and show off a little bit of the entertaining side of your personality. Can you talk a little about that and your dancing ability?
YANI TSENG: I like to dance, but I don't have a very good tempo, but I just love dancing around and having fun. But when I know that the LPGA is doing that, I told them I'm going to dance like Party Rock. And I was practicing last week after I played.
So it was just so much fun doing something outside the golf course and you can always feel relaxed and not think about golf.

Q. Ji Young Oh you lost to her in a playoff, right?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, three or four years ago.

Q. Yeah, it was '08, so almost four years ago. And that's kind of before your big run here. I can't remember how many wins did you have going into that playoff loss? Did that hurt a lot when that happened? Was it tough to take?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, of course. I just needed to make par to win the tournament. So it hurts, but when you look back, you're learning a lot. That's the tournament I remember because that's the tournament I'm learning that when I'm under pressure I hit the ball longer. That's how I learned, oh, I've got some adrenaline juice up when I'm under pressure.
So you always need to learn from your mistakes. So the first couple of years I have a lot of chances that I can win, but I lost on Sunday. I was pretty terrible. But after that I've been learning every week, and then finally at the British Open two years ago, that's the first time I've been leading and still winning the tournament.
So you just need to keep learning and keep learning from your mistakes, and see what can you improve every day, every tournament.

Q. Do you know Ji Young very well?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I know her. We played in the amateur together when we were in juniors. So we are both -- I as on the Taiwan National Team and she was she was on the Korean National Team. So we played a lot of tournaments together, like Na Yeon and Jiyai.

CAROLINE HEDWALL, Rolex Rankings No. 24

Q. Congratulations on a nice round today. 5-under par 67 toward the end of the day. Tied for the lead now. Just tell us how you played.
CAROLINE HEDWALL: I got off to a good start. Started with three birdies and made a couple more birdies, so it feels like a good start.

Q. Just talk about what you think about this golf course and whether you thought when you woke up today you had 67 in you?
CAROLINE HEDWALL: Yeah, well, I've been hitting it very solid lately. I felt like if I could have a good day, I could shoot low.
I made a lot of birdies and made it close, so that helped a lot.

Q. You've made a name for yourself on the Ladies European Tour with a few wins last year. You played well on the European Solheim Cup team. How much would it mean to you to come and play consistently well in the U.S.?
CAROLINE HEDWALL: Of course I hope to do well here, as well. I feel like I have the game, and hopefully I can continue to play well. I've started off good.

JI YOUNG OH, Rolex Rankings No. 342

Q. 5-under par 67 today. Tell us about your round?
JI YOUNG OH: Today really I just kept playing and a really long time. Today everything is good for me. I'm really calm. My shot is really good, so I have a good score today.

Q. Can you tell us about some of your birdies? Were they long putts, short putts?
JI YOUNG OH: Today I have six birdies, but everything was a short putt, like six feet, like almost like short putt. So I made a birdie.

Q. I saw your shot on 17. It almost went in for eagle. You must have really been feeling good today?
JI YOUNG OH: Yeah, today is a really good feeling today. Almost the best shot on number 17 today. Yeah, it's good.

Q. Can you just tell us about your game right now and how you feel? You struggled last year, but now you're playing better.
JI YOUNG OH: Yeah, a few years ago, last year and then two years ago my hip had a little problem.
But this year and last year, I just had a new trainer and we just worked a little bit harder and working on a lot of things.
So my body is a little bit better right now. So maybe it's really good this week, maybe.

Q. Which hip, left or right?
JI YOUNG OH: The left. But it's nothing now. Everything's gone, so it's really good.

Q. What is your trainer's name?
JI YOUNG OH: Max, it's an English name, Max.

SUZANN PETTERSEN, Rolex Rankings No. 3

THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Rolex Rankings No. 3, Suzann Pettersen, to the interview room. A first round 4-under par 68 at the 2012 Kia Classic puts you right in the hunt. Take us through your day and what worked for you.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I've been eager to kind of get started. I've put a lot of work down. I'm kind of sorting out my putting before this week. I spent a lot of time with Dave Stockton early in the week literally preparing for next week because you might have to have the bounce with you this week.
But it's definitely worked, and I made some good putts and starting to feel better with my game as we played along. So got some good shots on the last couple of holes and can't I wait to play tomorrow.

THE MODERATOR: I know you and Yani are pretty close. You always have some friendly bets going. How nice is it to play with her while you're both playing well and compete out there?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I really wanted to make that last putt because she was going to make hers to go to 5. It's a nice edge. It kind of gets your focus just a fraction bit more. And like you say, you hate to lose, so you just want to win all the friendly matches.

Q. I know you've been working with Dave Stockton since last year right before you won the Sybase. Can you talk about the work you've done and what you're really concentrating on with your putting?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: We're just trying to make putting the simplest thing in the bag. Hitting them shouldn't be that complicated compared to the rest of the game, and that's the philosophy we both believe in.
It's all about getting the ball to roll with a good speed and on a good line. So just on these greens, it's all about getting loft on the putter otherwise you would have no chance. The ball will just stick right on the ground.
It's a nice little adjustment, and hopefully we can do more work this afternoon, and be even better prepared for tomorrow.

Q. I saw Dave out there on the putting green this morning. Did you guys work on anything right before the round at all or does he kind of give you some reminders? How does it go right before a round like that when you guys are talking?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I'd like to be around kind of older people. They have a lot of great stories. They make you laugh. Even yesterday we were done with the putting and I was just standing there hitting a few shots on the range, and he comes by and checks out a few swings.
You know, it's just funny to hear how they do stuff and kind of -- because I think back in their prime, the equipment wasn't as good, so what they did was a lot more feel. So it's a nice compliment to the team for me. I feel very good. He's a very nice guy, and I think he can help me a lot with my putting.

Q. How much do you think it's helped already? How are you putting pre-Stockton to now?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Since I started with him almost a year ago, for the most part, I've been putting a lot, lot better. It's a lot less technical which is for me probably the biggest change. But that being said, you want putting to be the easiest thing you do on the golf course. That's what we're trying to make it.

Q. You've been on the Tour ten or so years now. You've got young people coming up and talking to you as an older person, because you mentioned older people?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Thanks. I'm not 31 yet.

Q. But ten years out, anyway. You've also gone through like three top player who's played well. Does that ever get frustrating that you keep going up against all these people that play so well or do you lift your game?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: It's nice to have a great challenge ahead of you. They've all been great challenges. They've all been great for the women's golf.
I think still Annika has the most dominant kind of career so far. I know Yani has gotten off to a flying start being only 22 or 23, whatever she is. But all I can do is, I mean, the 30s, they say in the golf career is your prime. So hopefully it's all ahead of me too.

Q. When you play with Yani, what do you see with her game that makes her special? Because obviously she's on this incredible run right now. What do you see that she does so well?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: She gets some lucky bounces every now and again, like on the last (laughing). No, you know what? She hits a lot of great shots. Her bad shots are still very acceptable. She recovers well from whenever she is in trouble.
She has a pretty sharp short game. That's probably what saves her the most. She can be more aggressive and even afford to miss a green on the short side, even kind of saving her par.
So overall, I think she's a very good ball striker. I think that's probably one of her strengths. She hits it fairly straight, and like I said, the more you practice, the luckier you get. So I guess I've just got to keep digging.

Q. What was the lucky bounce?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: You didn't see the last shot? She hit it left of the green, and got the bounce and it came in to about four feet. But like I said, it's a great shot. It's good to see young, aggressive players because I used to be like that as well. You just get a little bit more conservative the older you get.

Q. Do you see her growing in confidence? Is she getting better and better?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: All you can do is look at results. She's done well. I don't really analyze her up and down and compare myself too much to her. I know what my game is like. I know what I do when I practice and that's what I'm trying to do out on the golf course.
I know when I'm on my best, I can take her down or anyone down, and I think that's the most important thing. As long as you can believe in that and you maintain the quality during your practice, that's all you can ask for.

Q. Big difference on your scorecard today between the front and back nines. Is that going to be that way here all week do you think with the back nine certainly looks more challenging than the front. Is that the way you guys are seeing it?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, I look at it as the back nine is a lot better golf course. It has a lot better golf holes, driving accuracy. You've still got to hit it out there. You still have a fairly mid iron left of the green.
The front nine is shorter, so you have to try to take advantage on at least the first five. You only have wedges in your hand or even maybe a 9. That's what our strategy was to try to play aggressive on those five holes on the back. Then once you turn the corner and you have the wind into you, it's a little bit more challenging, but still, the back nine is by far the tougher and better nine out of this 18.

JENNIFER JOHNSON, Rolex Rankings No. 151

THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Jennifer Johnson into the interview room. Congratulations, great round today, 4-under 68. You're a local here and know La Costa probably better than most of the players out here having grown up playing on this golf course and living just off the 13th hole. Can you take me through your day and what it means for you to be playing out here this week?
JENNIFER JOHNSON: This is just a really fun round today. Six birdies, two bogeys, and I was just really motivated after a tough week last week, and having all my friends and family out here supporting me made for a really good day.

THE MODERATOR: What does it give you having played on a course so much? Sometimes you can almost know too much. But do you feel like it's helped you at least today through the first round?
JENNIFER JOHNSON: I would say you definitely have some expectations for yourself. But the greens are a little bumpy, and I think that's where I have the advantage, just knowing sometimes they don't break. Sometimes they bump in or bump out, and definitely the ball had a little base, so that helped too.

THE MODERATOR: How many friends and family did you have out there following you today?
JENNIFER JOHNSON: Maybe close to 15. Supposed to be a little more tomorrow, I think. Yeah, so...

THE MODERATOR: Is it fun to get out there and see everyone or do you feel added pressure knowing how many people you know out here?
JENNIFER JOHNSON: No, it's definitely no pressure having them watch. The support's great, and not all the tournaments does my mom get to watch me, so I really enjoy that.

THE MODERATOR: This is your second year on Tour. How different do you feel this year being out here compared to even what it was like in your rookie season?
JENNIFER JOHNSON: It's so much easier just knowing what to expect with the travel and knowing some of the courses now. Because I was limited status in the beginning, so I didn't get to see all of them. I'm just looking forward to the rest of the season.

Q. Can you give us a couple of specific examples from today that you think kind of made a difference for you being your home course? Whether it was knowing the wind or knowing where to place the ball or put the ball, just a couple examples?
JENNIFER JOHNSON: Well, 15 through 18 and then 6 through 9, those holes with the wind, it can be a pretty cold, thick wind. I felt like I knew how to play that pretty well because pretty much every time you play those holes, they're always into the wind.

Q. You said out there you've been playing here half your life. When did your rounds actually start here at La Costa?
JENNIFER JOHNSON: Probably when I was 8 or 9. I attempted to play this course. It wasn't like I tore it up.

Q. Then during those eight- or nine-odd years, did you play very much at all?
JENNIFER JOHNSON: On the course?

Q. Yeah. How much did you play as a young child?
JENNIFER JOHNSON: Well, I played San Diego Junior Golf, So I played the par-3 and executive courses around here, and my dad was a member, So I got out on the North and South quite often.

Q. What are your memories of other professional events here? You were saying that you watch Match Play. Do you have any memories of like the Mercedes at all or does it pretty much go back to the Match Play? What do you remember about Match Play?
JENNIFER JOHNSON: No, my memory stops at the Match Play. Just all the good players came through here. I remember watching them on the range and kind of learning the way they practiced. I love match play, so I think watching that and growing up watching it helps me become a good match play player too.

Q. Did you have a favorite Match Play player?
JENNIFER JOHNSON: Tiger had some pretty dominant performances here. I'd have to go with that 9 and 8 round.

Q. Can you talk a little more about your round? What you did well? What you were most pleased with?
JENNIFER JOHNSON: I hit the ball pretty well and just gave myself some short birdie putts and made them. Last week they weren't dropping, and today they did.

Q. Could you talk a little about the decision to move out to the desert, Coachella Valley, after growing up here and going to high school in Carlsbad your freshman year?
JENNIFER JOHNSON: Well, I went to Cathedral and that's about 20 minutes and it would be a lot of freeway time. So we just moved out there. There are a lot of golf courses and it's pretty focused. Yeah, that pretty much was the reason we moved out there, just a focused environment.

BELEN MOZO, Rolex Rankings No. 164

Q. Congratulations on a great round, 2-under 70 today to put you in the very early clubhouse lead. Can you take me through the day and what was working well for you out there?
BELEN MOZO: Yeah, it was very early when we teed off. It was hard to play so early because it was cold and the sun was just sitting up. So you couldn't really see the ball. The first hole was really tough. I almost doubled it. I made a really long putt for bogey.
I was scrambling my first six holes. I didn't get a fairway. I didn't get a green. But I was making it up and down from everywhere, and I think that's really important here. As soon as you make a few up-and-downs on this course, you kind of get your confidence up.
I started getting my 3-wood on the fairway, and that was it. I started making birdies. I played really good just to finish with a bogey. It's a really tough hole. Tried to lay up from the rough, and my ball spun too much on my third shot. It's overall a really good round, so I'm really happy.

Q. I know you're originally from Spain, but you spent a lot of time here in California, going to USC. Does it feel like home when you come back to this area?
BELEN MOZO: It feels like home, yeah. I mean, this coast I have really good memories from USC, really good ones. I don't know, it's just the area. The people here are really happy all the time, good weather. It's beautiful in San Diego. I love it. I love playing on the west coast.

Q. This is your second year on the LPGA Tour. You have a few events under your belt this season. How are you feeling about your game and how things are going so far?
BELEN MOZO: I think I've improved a lot, not only mentally, but gamewise. Finally I have a team with me consisting of a trainer and a coach. And I have my brother caddying for me, which is a huge change.
I like it, because I still have a lot to learn from all the big players out there. But little by little, I see progress, and that's very important, and it motivates me to keep fighting. So it's really good.

Q. Just get some initial thoughts on getting to play La Costa this week. Everybody that knows golf knows La Costa from all the events that have been played here and what the course has been like so far?
BELEN MOZO: I think the course is in great shape. I feel like they lowered the rough a little bit from the previous days. That's my guess. If not, the course plays really tough with the rough, the greens are very small. I mean, they're responding really well. They're not that hard and firm, so that's good.
I see it as if I get the green, I'm going to get an advantage for birdie because the greens are so small. It's a very accurate course, so whoever has the best short game is going to win here.

Topics: Kia Classic, Tseng, Yani, Hedwall, Caroline, Oh, Ji Young, Pettersen, Suzann, Johnson, Jennifer, Mozo, Belen, Notes and Interviews [+]

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