Kraft Nabisco Championship
Mission Hills Country Club
Rancho Mirage, Calif.
First round notes and interviews
March 29, 2012
Amy Yang -6, Rolex Rankings No. 14
Lindsey Wright -5, Rolex Rankings No. 94
Yani Tseng -4, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Paula Creamer -3, Rolex Rankings No. 8
Haeji Kang -3, Rolex Rankings No. 120
Charley Hull -1, (a) amateur
Rolex Rankings No. 14 Amy Yang fired a 6-under-par 66 to take the first-round lead at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, putting her in solid position to capture her first career win in Rancho Mirage, Calif. this week. The 22-year old South Korean carded eight birdies, four each on the front and back nine, with bogeys coming on holes No. 4 and 14. Yang is looking to break into the winner's circle at Mission Hills Country Club, having posted two career-high runner-up finishes last season and another in 2010.
Tour veteran Lindsey Wright sits one stroke behind Yang at 5-under, carding five of her six birdies on the front nine and a bogey on the par-4 16th. And Yang will certainly feel the pressure of the lurking presence of Rolex Ranking No. 1 Yani Tseng sitting two strokes back at 4-under 68 heading into the second round.
Setting the bar high: Starting off with a first round 4-under 68 and two strokes behind the lead would seem like a pretty good start to the first major championship. But the bar has been raised by Tseng and disappointed ensued after her round that she thought was sub-par.
"I was really disappointed today because I didn't hit many good shots and I didn't leave myself lots of birdie chances out there," said Tseng. "Kind of a little upset I didn't have good distance ‑‑ my second shots, I didn't have good distance control, so that's why I didn't have many birdie chances."
While it might look like Tseng is pursuing perfection in her career, she tries to keep herself grounded, knowing that playing for a flawless round may lead to worse results.
"I think I'm learning," said Tseng. "I always keep telling myself 'you don't have to play perfect, so don't try too hard to be perfect.' That's going to be very hard on me. Last few years I've been learning that even when you didn't feel your A game, you still can shoot a couple under, a few under, to put yourself in a good position, and that's how I'm learning."
Oh so close… Amy Yang is no stranger to winning. She became the youngest winner on the Ladies European Tour at the 2006 ANZ Ladies Masters when she was 16 years, 6 months and 8 days old. Yang has tallied other victories since then, but the 22-year-old is still seeking her first career LPGA Tour victory despite having come close to accomplishing the feat numerous times.
Yang tallied a career-best 7 top-10 finishes in 2011, which included two runner-up finishes (Walmart NW Arkansas Championship and the Sunrise Taiwan LPGA Championship). She even led the first three rounds of the 2010 LPGA Tour Championship before losing by a stroke to Maria Hjorth.
Is this perhaps the week that she finally breaks through for an LPGA victory?
"It was a great day," Yang said of her 6-under 66 in Thursday's first round. "My game felt good. Everything was working well. I think especially my putting was worked better than other tournaments. I had a couple shots like went into the trees, and it was hard to play, but I had some good par saves and good birdie putts.
High Praises: Amy Yang not only can take her lead into the second round on Friday but also some high praises that were sent her way from the best player in the world. Yani Tseng says Yang's consistency makes her tough competition.
"You have to play well to beat her," said Tseng. "You cannot wait until she misses because she's not going to miss. She's always so straight, and she hits the ball with a little draw. When she misses she won't miss like a crazy shot. You need to push yourself harder to beat her."
Call it a comeback: Lindsey Wright almost didn't have a 2012 season. But after shooting a solid first round 5-under-par 67, the Australian native explained that an extended absence from the game has revitalized her career. She spoke candidly after her opening round about her struggle with anxiety and depression issues.
"People think depression, 'Oh, just get over it if you're in a bad mood or whatever,'" said Wright. It really impacts you physically, and playing on this Tour, coming out and trying to play, grinding it out each week when you're not sleeping and you can't concentrate or focus and the other symptoms with it, it just gets you down. It's a bit of a nightmare."
She said that her mental challenges began to take a toll on her physically after her career-best runner-up finish at the 2009 McDonald's LPGA Championship. Wright figured the game she played was the root of her distress. Wright tried to push through the troubles she was having and continue to play until this past September when she decided to take a break from golf.
"I felt really like I was being smothered by it, by the lifestyle and golf, and wanted to do something else, so I took four months off," said Wright. "Taking the time off, I didn't really think I was going to come back out and play."
Wright, who sought professional help to deal with her depression and anxiety, turned her focus to other things during her time off from golf. She assisted the media staff of the ALPG Tour and helped out at other golf tournaments behind the scenes before getting the itch to return to the links.
"It was really great. I didn't pick up a golf club from the last event I played, which was Taiwan, until the 2nd of January, and I didn't really want to," she added. "So I took the time off and experienced other things, and I think that's made a massive impact for me coming into the year."
The extensive break appears to have worked. Wright won the ISPS Handa New Zealand Women's Open on the Ladies European Tour in mid-February, her first win in eight years. Wright starts off the first major of the year on a good note, heading into the second round one-shot behind the lead.
Only the first day: Though some disappointment came with some of her first round, Tseng understands that no one is winning the tournament on the first day.
"I'm still pretty happy," said Tseng. "You can still see my name on the first page of the leaderboard, so I'm happy that it's only the first day of the tournament. You're not winning a tournament on the first day, and that's why golf is always four rounds; you have to be very patient and play four days of golf."
Slow ride: Many of the LPGA Tour players have talked this week about the pristine condition of the greens at Mission Hills Country Club, but the speed of those greens proved to be slower than they expected in the first round.
"I think that's kind of why mentally I've not been quite as aggressive as I should be because I'm thinking they're going to be so fast," Paula Creamer said of the greens after her first-round, bogey free 69. "I don't think this putting green is the same as the golf course. This is getting pretty fast, and when you get out there, it's almost Velcro."
Tseng needed 31 putts to get through her first round, despite hitting 16 of 18 greens in the round. But she felt that her putting could likely improve on Friday now that she has a better feel for the speed of the greens.
"On our putting green it was kind of very fast, and we thought when the tournament comes it's going to be more fast," Tseng said. "That's why I always practice with a little downhill to try to get the pace of a green, and it was not fast at all today. I left putts like very short, four, five feet short, and I think tomorrow will be fine. I kind of got used to it today."
Amateur Hour: Charley Hull birdied her first hole in her first professional tournament and first major. The 16-year-old England native didn't want to let the opening-hole excitement get in the way and stayed on track to shoot a 1-under par 71 in the first round, on a day that did not see many low scores.
"I birdied my first ever hole of my first ever major, and that was my first ever pro tournament, so I was pretty chuffed with that," said Hull. "It was really good. The next hole I just forgot about it and just carried on playing golf. It just got me up and excited."
Playing on such a big stage in her first professional tournament, Hull has tried her best to keep things simple and habitual.
"It's hard to take it all in, but just trying to concentrate, not try and do anything different to upset my routine," said Hull.
She claims she didn't get rattled from the presence of any top players on the range, but admits to liking her set up next to some pros whom she has looked up to. Asked whether she got star struck at any point, she denies. "No, not really," said Hull. "My two favorite golfers in the ladies game at the moment has got to be Lexi Thompson and Yani Tseng, and I was hitting balls next to both be them on the range the other day, and that was pretty good."
Tweet of the Day: "I owe Mike Whan about 15lb. He sorted so I get chewing gum for a year instead of Oreo's."-- @SophieGustafson
Of Note… Defending champion Stacy Lewis shot an opening-round 2-over 74 and currently sits in a T58...A total of 31 players shot under par in Thursday's first round…Rolex Rankings No. 3 Suzann Pettersen, who has finished runner-up at the Kraft a total of 3 times in the last five years, shot an opening-round 72 and sits in a T32.
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng into the interview room. Congratulations, a solid round today, 4‑under par. I know with your standards lately, this round probably wasn't up to where you would like it to be, but can you take me through the day and what was working for you out there?
YANI TSENG: You know, I was really disappointed today because I don't hit many good shots and I don't leave myself lots of birdie chances out there. Kind of a little upset I don't have good distance ‑‑ my second shots I don't have good distance control, so that's why I don't have many birdie chances today out there.
4‑under, I'm still pretty happy. You can still see ‑‑ you can still see my name on the first page of the leaderboard, so I'm happy that it's only the first day of the tournament. I love this golf course, and the golf course is in great condition. Greens were so smooth. The next three days I'm really looking forward to making as many birdies as I can.
THE MODERATOR: All the players I've talked to today have talked about those greens and how nice it is to putt on those greens and the difference it makes. Did you feel like you were able to take advantage of them today or is that something you want to work on for tomorrow?
YANI TSENG: I think I putt pretty well today, but some of them I just misread it. Everybody is going to make that mistake. I just didn't hit many good shots, so I'll just go the driving range and work with my coach Gary. He's here, so that's going to help me a lot.
THE MODERATOR: Are you at a point with your game right now where you shoot 4‑under and you're very displeased? Are you getting to a point where if you're not playing how you want to be if your swing is not feeling as good as it should be that you're just not happy with those low rounds?
YANI TSENG: I think I'm learning. I always keep telling myself you don't have to play perfect, so don't try too hard to be perfect. That's going to be very hard on myself. Last few years I've been learning even when you didn't feel your A game was there but you still can shoot a couple under, a few under, to put yourself in a good position, but that's how I'm learning. So it was really good to see that improve. Today I wasn't hitting it very good but I still finished 4‑under, and I know my game was there and I'm still very confident and just don't try too hard. I think today I was just trying too hard to play well.
Q. It almost feels funny to ask this, but you've been leading so often in so many rounds this year, does it feel funny to be behind, to not walk in as No. 1 right now?
YANI TSENG: No. I mean, like I said, it's only the first day of a tournament. You're not winning a tournament on the first day, and that's why golf is always four rounds of golf and you have to be very patient and play four days of golf.
It was okay. At least I have someone there to motivate myself. I want to try to catch up and try to make more birdies.
Q. Do you know Amy very well? Have you played with her much, and can you tell us anything about her?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, we do, we play a lot together, and like last time we kind of compete together was in Arkansas, and we played in the final round, and she's very consistent. She's strong, and her ball‑striking was really good, and she's very nice, and we talked a lot on the golf course, too.
Q. What language do you speak when you talk?
YANI TSENG: English.
Q. What impresses you most about Amy's game? She's a very consistent ball striker, but is that the most impressive thing when you've watched her play?
YANI TSENG: I think so. I mean, it's like you have to play well to beat her. You cannot wait until she misses because she's not going to miss. She's always so straight, and she hits the ball with a little draw, and when she misses she won't miss like a crazy shot. You need to push yourself harder to beat her.
Q. You say your distance control was off a little bit today. You did have like 30 and 40 feet on some of your birdie putts. You made one of them, though.
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I did. That was pretty lucky, though. I tried to make a two‑putt because it was downhill, and I remembered a few years ago I had a straight putt there, so I practiced a couple times during a practice round, and I just want to make two‑putt, and it went in.
Q. You say you're disappointed, but you're 4‑under. Is it disappointed not just in the scoring but in the way you hit the ball, struck the ball today?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I was pretty happy like finishing at 4‑under, but I just wasn't happy that I lose confidence out there, I lose focus. I'm losing focus out there a couple shots, and my distance control wasn't that good. Like I said, I left myself a lot 30, 40 feet, and you're not going to try to make every putt like that. I just want to make closer and give myself more birdie chances next three days.
Q. Paula Creamer said on TV that she thought the greens would be faster. Were they ‑‑ they still looked pretty fast, but not as fast as you expected?
YANI TSENG: No, not as fast. I saw it was slow out there because on our putting green it was kind of very fast, and we thought when the tournament comes it's going to be more fast. That's why I always practice with a little downhill to try to get the pace of a green, and it was not fast at all today. I left putts like very short, four, five feet short, and I think tomorrow will be fine. I kind of got used to it today.
Q. You've just won twice in a row. That must be a little bit taxing. Can you just talk about what it's like to come out and try to win a third week in a row, and how do you get a little rest and keep fresh?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I just figured it was kind of very tough. Normally when I play three weeks in a row, I don't feel tired. My mental is always fresh, especially I get to a major I always have lots of energy, ready to go and ready to play well and excited on the golf course. But seems like the last two wins give me lots ‑‑ I'm losing lots of energy to come here. Last couple days when I practiced it's kind of easy to get tired and my mental kind of wasn't set up as fresh like last two weeks.
But once the tournament start today, I feel more focused the last few days, and I just don't try to practice too much and run off my energy. But I think tomorrow when I stand on the first tee I'm still going to feel fresh and ready to go.
Q. In discussing your successes you've often made reference to your team. Who do you consider in that circle and what are their roles?
YANI TSENG: Ernie Huang, he was here, he lives in San Diego, he kind of takes care of lots of things. And my manager and I, she's always one traveling with me and taking care of lots of my stuff when I'm traveling on the Tour. And my coach Gary Gilchrist, he's coming out a few times this year. He was here last week in San Diego, and he came here, too, so it's kind of helping me game a little bit. We've been changing my swing and improving a lot on my swing. And my trainer Power Huang, he's in Taiwan, but he's going to come out the next couple months to make sure my fitness is good and to make sure I'm recovering from the tournament.
And like this year I just work one‑on‑one with a physio and I think that's going to help a lot because my elbow and my back sometimes gets sore. He's one that's going to help me a lot, too.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, and best of luck the rest of the week.
PAULA CREAMER: Yeah, it was a nice little birdie. I played pretty well today. It wasn't my best, but I hit 16 greens, and I can't complain with that. But the green speeds I kind of struggled with, left everything pretty much short, or if not, just rolling into the front edge. But it's Thursday, and you can't win it today, but you can put yourself in a good position, and we'll take it.
Q. Is this the slowest you've seen these greens?
PAULA CREAMER: I think so, and I think that's kind of why mentally I've not been quite as aggressive as I should be because I'm thinking they're going to be so fast. I don't think this putting green is the same as the golf course. This is getting pretty fast, and when you get out there, it's almost Velcro.
Q. Were you happy to be playing with Yani? Do you like that pairing?
PAULA CREAMER: I do. I feel like I've played with her a lot this year. Seems like every week, at least one of the days, I'm playing with her. Unfortunately not on Sundays. But I am getting used to it. Obviously you're playing the golf course, but of course she's going to be right in there on Sunday, best player in the world, and it's good to play with people that are going to push you.
Q. Considering your history here, no top 10s, how happy are you to get off to a start like this on a course that's given you problems?
PAULA CREAMER: I feel good. Like I said, you can't win it today, but I just need to keep putting myself in spots where I need to be. My birdies will come. I made two good par saves today, but just trying to play patient. Even though there's no rough out here, you still have to be 100 percent in it on every shot because sometimes it can get you out here, and I feel good. I feel good where I'm at.
Q. Is the rough leading to any jumpers?
PAULA CREAMER: There's a couple. I mean, yesterday in the practice rounds I dropped a bunch of balls, and pretty much every one of them was a flier, so you do have to watch for that. But it's not horrible. You have to just kind of look at it and assess it, but it's not like it's taking 10 yards off or 12 yards off. It's pretty normal.
Q. Is it at a point where people do look to see what Yani has done or is doing, or do you try to just ignore it? You play the golf course, but are you curious what she's doing if you're not playing with her obviously?
PAULA CREAMER: Well, I played with her so I know what she's doing. I mean, yes and no. You can't get wrapped up with one person out on the golf course. You have to take care of yourself. I think a little bit of that has happened probably. The end of last year people worrying a lot about what she's doing and how she's playing and not really taking care of your own game, and it's easy to do when you have a player who's been so dominant. Of course you're going to see where she's at.
Q. It's kind of a contradiction almost, the LPGA is certainly getting a lot of attention from her good play, but gosh, they do need a rivalry. How does that happen? Just play better?
PAULA CREAMER: I would think so, yes. People need to just step up to the plate and give her a bit more competition.
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome our current leader Amy Yang into the interview room. Congratulations on a great round out there today, 6‑under par. Can you take me through the day and how the course was playing and what was working well for you?
AMY YANG: You know, 6‑under par, it was a great day. My game felt good. Everything was working well. I think especially my putting was worked better than other tournaments.
I had a couple shots like went into the trees, and it was hard to play, but I had some good par saves and good birdie putts.
THE MODERATOR: We were talking about the greens and how beautiful they are this week. How nice is it to be playing on those greens, and do you just notice a difference in your putting when you're able to play on smooth greens like that?
AMY YANG: It's great. It's great speed, too, and it's holding where I aim to, so it's comfortable.
THE MODERATOR: We didn't see a lot of low rounds this morning. There was a couple but not many. What do you think was the key to you being able to shoot such a low number this afternoon?
AMY YANG: First I was trying to make fairways and then be on the right side of the green if I'm going to try to play smart, and it worked good.
Q. You haven't won yet out on the LPGA Tour, but here you are after the first round leading a major. What do you think when you think major championships, and how much would it mean to you to have a major title by your name?
AMY YANG: It would be a really, really great thing in my life. It would mean a lot for my golf career.
THE MODERATOR: I know you won at a very young age on the LET, on the Ladies European Tour. What did you learn from that victory capturing that so young, and has it been tough playing out here for so many years and not getting that victory yet?
AMY YANG: Well, I think the win was ‑‑ I was so young, I didn't know what happened until I get older. Yeah, I'm trying hard every week and every year.
THE MODERATOR: Do you feel like each year, too, you just progress a little bit more where you feel like you're getting more comfortable out there on the golf course and more confident as the rounds get closer and you've been up near the lead, the top of the leaderboard, getting more comfortable with everything?
AMY YANG: No, I think it feels the same, still a little nervous, but I think it's a good feeling. I can concentrate better.
Q. Have you ever felt like this golf course was a good golf course for your game, that you should shoot those kinds of rounds, or is this a surprise?
AMY YANG: I feel ‑‑ I like this golf course, and I feel good about this golf course, too. I've been hitting the ball better, putting feels better. I like it.
Q. What's it like out there ‑‑ not that you played with her today, but just competing with Yani, what is the feeling about Yani on the Tour right now? Is she beatable the way she's playing?
AMY YANG: You know, she's very tough to beat right now. She plays so great. Her game, like I've watched her play, and her swinging good, and she's hitting the ball so good. Short game around the green and putting. She's a really great player, and it will be tough to beat her right now.
Q. I was reading, it looks like your mother was a javelin thrower.
AMY YANG: She was.
Q. Have you ever thrown one?
AMY YANG: No.
Q. Why not? Does it scare you? Is it scary?
AMY YANG: No, I don't know. I can't even throw my ball like 30 yards, no.
Q. You've come very close to winning in the United States or on the LPGA, but you've won other places. You've won internationally but not on the LPGA Tour, but you've won nice events in Europe and other places. Is there a difference between winning here, or would there be a difference emotionally for you to win in the United States as opposed to the other international wins? Is the competition tougher over here? Would it mean more when you've beat fields that are this deep when you look at all the players that you're competing against? What would it mean to you to win an LPGA event?
AMY YANG: You know, playing on the LPGA Tour was my dream like since I started to play golf, and I always wanted to have a win on the LPGA Tour. I think the difference ‑‑ all the greatest players are here playing on the LPGA Tour. I think it's more stronger field, and I think I have to be mentally more stronger.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, and best of luck for the rest of the week. Thank you again for joining us.
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome our current leader Lindsey Wright into the interview room. Congratulations on a great round, 5‑under par. Can you just take me through your day and how it went out there for you?
LINDSEY WRIGHT: Yeah. Started on the 10th tee this morning and played pretty consistent. Birdied No. 13, downhill ‑‑ I'm trying to remember it. 13, yeah, I hit about a ten‑foot putt downhill, hit it really good in the hole obviously. Parred 14, 15.
Three‑putted on 16, which I was disappointed since I hit the fairway, and that's a tough par‑4. I had about a 30‑foot putt and then three‑putted, left it about 15 feet short, so you can tell it was a good putt. Parred 17, 18.
Then on the back nine, started ‑‑ hit a 9‑iron to about five feet, made a birdie.
On the second, hit sand wedge to about ten feet.
Made a birdie on No. 3, hit a 5‑iron to about 16 feet for birdie.
Parred 4, 5, 6, made a great up‑and‑down for par on 7.
And then birdied 8, 5‑iron to about ten feet.
And on the 9th, a sand wedge, again, to about six feet.
So I played the front nine just looking really well.
THE MODERATOR: 31 on that front nine. When you got things going when you started, did you feel you were getting on a roll? What was the biggest difference in your play today that you really felt helped you to shoot so low?
LINDSEY WRIGHT: Yeah, obviously from tee to green I don't think I missed one fairway today, which in a major you want to hit fairways and then you set yourself up because the course is just pure. If you've got an 8‑iron in, I was just feeling it. It was one of those days, everything just felt good. I didn't feel intense. It was just going smoothly.
And I putted really well. Everything ‑‑ not everything I looked at, but I was just ‑‑ my speed and line matched up really well, and it showed with my last nine shooting 5‑under.
THE MODERATOR: It's been a great start to the year for you. You won in New Zealand, which was the first time in about eight years I think it was for a victory?
LINDSEY WRIGHT: Yeah.
THE MODERATOR: I know we had talked a little bit about last year. You played in 16 events but then took some time off at the end of the year. Take me through kind of your thought process and what that time off really meant to you and how it's helped your golf game.
LINDSEY WRIGHT: Taking the time off, I didn't really think I was going to come back out and play, which wasn't ‑‑ I just wanted to do something else. I felt really like I was being smothered by it, by the lifestyle and golf, and wanted to do something else, so I took four months off, and I worked as a media person, funny, at the men's New South Wales State Open, and then I worked with the tournament office at the men's Australian Open and did some other things, as well, relating to media stuff and sport.
It was really great. I mean, I didn't pick up a golf club from the last event I played, which is Taiwan, until the 2nd of January, and I didn't really want to. So I took the time off and experienced other things, and I think that's made a massive impact for me coming into the year.
There's no pressure on my game. I don't feel that pressure. I didn't really ‑‑ if you'd said to me before New Zealand, you're going to win, I would have went, oh, yeah, whatever, I'm so unlucky. But having won that tournament has opened all these doors for me to play in Europe, which I really want to do, so I'm excited to do that. And I'm really enjoying my golf, which it's not a grind anymore. I'm actually enjoying it, the good and the bad.
THE MODERATOR: Take me through the last few years. I know you got off to such a good start early in your career and then the last few years the golf just hasn't quite been there for you. You've talked openly recently about some of the issues that you struggled with, with some anxiety and some depression. What was it like going through those experiences, and how much did that impact your golf?
LINDSEY WRIGHT: Yeah, I would say it all kind of came to a head at the end of 2009. I had a great season. I think I finished second to Anna Nordqvist at the LPGA Championship, and after that it was kind of on a downhill slope, slippery slope. It just kind of happened quickly. You have bouts, and without getting into the psychology and everything, it wasn't a great time, and I just couldn't really get through it. I had some things going on, and from a ‑‑ it's hard to explain it other than from a physical standpoint. People think depression, oh, just get over it if you're in a bad mood or whatever. It really impacts you physically, and playing on this Tour, coming out and trying to play, grinding it out each week when you're not sleeping and you can't concentrate or focus and the other symptoms with it, it just gets you down, and it's a bit of a nightmare.
Fortunately for me, I've got some really good friends, and one in particular really helped me out a heap and encouraged me to take those steps, which was not easy. So I'm glad I did it, and it's actually funny to be sitting here now because I never thought I would come back. So it's just golf, isn't it.
THE MODERATOR: I know you've been much more open about it now. What kind of prompted you, I guess, to kind of be more public about it? You wrote a great article in the Sydney paper right after you won in New Zealand and shared some of the things that happened. I guess your media experience, did that help? What prompted you to want to share those experiences?
LINDSEY WRIGHT: Yeah, I think I'd gotten a little bit fed up with not lying but dancing around the problem. People would say, oh, what's wrong with your golf, what's going on with your golf, and I thought, it's not golf, it's my head. It's me.
And in all honesty, I've seen a lot of people who have had and dealt with depression and anxiety, and there's that stigma where you don't want to talk about it because you can't ‑‑ you can't see it. If you have a broken leg, you see it, and people go, oh, there's the empathy and whatnot. So for me just to be honest, I said, look, I was on tablets, I've had psychologists, psychiatrists and I'm mental.
I've got to laugh about it. There were times when it was horrible. But to get help and to be encouraged to do that made such an impact on me. One of my best friends did that.
If me saying something can help someone who is struggling or has problems ‑‑ to me I thought, yeah, I feel like I have a little bit of a responsibility to do that. So yeah, definitely encourage anyone to talk about it for sure.
THE MODERATOR: From watching you over the last few events I've been at throughout the year, you just seem to have a weight almost off of you. You seem back to laughing and having a little bit of, I guess, a lighter feel. Do you feel that? Are you in a good place right now where you feel like you're ‑‑
LINDSEY WRIGHT: Yeah, definitely. Aside from golf, I could have shot 80 today, and I'd still feel really great. I'm happy, and I don't feel like I'm swimming with weights and dragging around ten pounds of excess baggage. I sleep better and I'm happier, and I'm surrounding myself with good friends, and I'm talking to people. I mean, anyway, I'm very lucky. I'm lucky to be sitting here now and very happy to be feeling the way I am.
THE MODERATOR: I will say you were even that way in Australia when I talked to you before you had won in New Zealand, so you could tell you were in a good place at that point. Questions for Lindsey?
Q. You told a Sydney newspaper that it was the environment, the Tour environment played a role in how you felt, that it can be a bit isolating to be a foreigner over here. Could you expand on that a little bit? Was that a factor in what you started feeling and going down the slippery slope as you called it?
LINDSEY WRIGHT: Yeah, I would say it was a factor for me, not for everybody. Everybody is different.
When I first came out here ‑‑ I think it's an age thing, as well. When I first came out here, I was driven to try and make as much money as I could, to play as well as I could, and I was pretty intense, as you are when you're a rookie and you came out. You want to do as well as you can.
I think as you start to get a little older, things change and your environment, your friends change, and I started going home, and I missed home, and my best mates were having families and everybody seemed to be growing up and I was out here doing this, which is nothing wrong, it's a great lifestyle if you have a healthy balance. For me it was all about balance.
I have not really had a healthy balance and spent a lot of time, ten months a year in the States and two months at home. And I'm a real family person. I've always pushed myself, and in retrospect, I should have taken ‑‑ in 2009 when I had that great season, I should have taken four or five months off then, but I didn't.
So yeah, I wouldn't say it was the LPGA's fault. You know, it's a personal thing and more of an environment thing for me.
Q. You say you didn't know if you would come back when you started taking the time off. What caused you to know that you were going to come back? Did you just start feeling better or did you miss it?
LINDSEY WRIGHT: Well, I wanted to ‑‑ I rang home in September last year and said, I'm done. I don't want to play anymore. And my dad had said, you know what, that's great if you want to do that, but you need to have something to fall back on, and I said, that's a good point.
So that's when I did all the other stuff, the media stuff and whatnot.
My intentions, even playing, was to finish in September this year and maybe still finish in September this year. And coming into when I played my first event, the Australian events, that hasn't really changed.
At the moment, it's hard. I mean, I'm just kind of doing ‑‑ I'm on like a three‑week plan. I do my three weeks, then I plan something else for three weeks. I'm not putting too much pressure on myself.
In September of this year I might go ‑‑ I'm really loving this, and I've found a balance, or I might not. That's kind of what's going to happen then.
Q. It sounds like that doesn't necessarily ‑‑ that plan doesn't necessarily change whether you win, finish in the top 10, miss the cut.
LINDSEY WRIGHT: No, not really.
Q. A leap in the pond Sunday isn't going to change your plan?
LINDSEY WRIGHT: No. It would be nice to leap in the pond on Sunday, but I doubt ‑‑ yeah, it wouldn't change the plan, no. For me it's not about ‑‑ people say, oh, it's about winning, but for me I just want to enjoy my life, from when I wake up in the morning to when I go to bed at night, and when I was having depression, and my anxiety, I actually was getting along fine on the golf course, but as soon as I would leave I was miserable, lonely, depressed, homesick, and life's not meant to be like that. I made a conscious decision last year to change that.
So it's taken a lot of pressure off my golf, and I'm playing better.
Q. This is a very personal subject to be shouting the questions across the room, and I apologize for that. One of the earlier stories suggested that it reached a point that you really didn't know if you wanted to continue with life. What was the low point, and how quickly after that did you realize it was depression and anxiety and were able to get it diagnosed and deal with it?
LINDSEY WRIGHT: I would have said there was probably many low points. It always came to a head. When you're out here, it's go, go, go. You're constantly going and you move on. When I would go home, that's when it would hit me the worst. It was difficult for my parents, I think, the most, because they'd see me ‑‑ seemed like pretty happy‑go‑lucky and then I'd come home and I'd be a miserable person. I had some significant low points.
But I think the lowest is when you have insomnia and you're waking up at 2:00 a.m. with strong emotions and your head ‑‑ and then you have anxiety so you don't know what you're doing, you're all over the place. The only time ‑‑ I mean, there's no relief from your mind, really, and I mean, the only time I really had any relief is if you had probably two bottles of red wine. It helps you sleep, but it's not the way to combat it. That's when I realized I've got a problem here, and I've got to deal with it because I'm getting worse, I'm not getting better, because I'd always think, I know I'll be all right. It'll be all right, mate, that kind of attitude. But it really wasn't.
So when I did go to the doctor and get a diagnosis, I realized, geez, I really do have a problem here. I wish I'd done it sooner.
Q. As an athlete you're conditioned to fight through anything, to gut it out. There's nothing that ‑‑ if there's a will, there's a way. Was that a factor in you taking longer than you should have to seek help do you think? And as a follow, what has been the reaction of your peers out here now that they know your story?
LINDSEY WRIGHT: Yeah, I was brought up in a pretty working‑class family, and my parents ‑‑ where I played golf and grew up, it's like, you just get on with it and do it, get over it and move on because you're working hard, you don't talk about it. And I've had that kind of attitude, just do it, I'm not a complainer or a whinger and never really had the resources to get help.
Yeah, I'm glad I did, and the reaction from my peers has been, from the players who actually read what you guys write ‑‑ I'm kidding. From a couple of peers recently, yeah, it's been ‑‑ they've been really great, encouraging. A few people have said, oh, I've had problems. I'm happy you said that because that's how I feel.
And I remember watching a TV show back home in Australia, and there was a woman on there who was talking about depression, and I sat there and I thought, oh, my God, that's me. So for me to ‑‑ if it helps someone, then that's what's important.
Q. Run me through your round, your birdies. How did everything go?
HAEJI KANG: I had five birdies, and my putting was working great. I made a really bad mistake on 18. But I came back.
Q. How did you think the course set up to your game specifically?
HAEJI KANG: I think compared to last year the greens were soft. It wasn't as hard as last year, so it was much easier to hit a shot into the green because it stops.
Q. Coming out of the first round strong, what will you try to carry over into tomorrow and the weekend?
HAEJI KANG: Yeah, I think I probably need to work on my irons a little bit more. My putter is working very good, so I think I'll be driving.
Q. How was your driving?
HAEJI KANG: Driving was good, too.
Q. What was the most difficult things about the course and that will challenge you going forward?
HAEJI KANG: Last year missing the fairway was very tough part because they have really thick grass, but this year they cut it a little shorter. I think even if you miss a fairway, it will be fine.
Q. Talk about the highlights of your round and where you got some birdies.
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah, I birdied my first ever hole of my first ever major, and that was my first ever pro tournament, so I was pretty chuffed with that.
Q. Had to be a great feeling to start the round with. How did that carry you?
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah, it was really good. The next hole I just forgot about it and just carried on playing golf. It just got me up and excited.
Q. Yesterday I remember on the green you said you were kind of feeling a little loose, but it must have worked itself out today.
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah, I wasn't hitting it very good on the range this morning. I sort of struck it really good out there, like I didn't miss any greens, hit my driver really well, and I hit my irons pretty close today, so I can't complain about that.
Q. I wanted to ask you about the Curtis Cup decision, what your reaction to it was.
CHARLEY HULL: Well, I'm back in the team now. I was upset, obviously, but now I'm really happy that I'm back in it. Now it's history.
Q. Did you expect them to reverse the decision?
CHARLEY HULL: I didn't think too much ‑‑ I didn't think they were going to change it for me, but I'm glad they did.
Q. You see your friend Jaye Marie is playing pretty well. Did you hang out with her last night?
CHARLEY HULL: I stayed with her two weeks after the Harder Hall. I've seen her a little bit this week, but I didn't hang around with her much. I love Jaye. I hope she does good.
Q. This is a pretty big stage for your first professional debut. Were you overwhelmed when you got here? Do you feel like you're blending in?
CHARLEY HULL: It's hard to take it all in, but just trying to concentrate, not try and do anything different to upset my routine.
Q. Was there anyone that you wanted to meet or when you were on the range made you nervous?
CHARLEY HULL: No, not really. Like my two favorite golfers in the ladies game at the moment has got to be Lexi Thompson and Yani Tseng, and I was hitting balls next to both be them on the range the other day, and that was pretty good.
Q. What have you been hearing from home? What kind of support are you getting?
CHARLEY HULL: I've had a few Tweets and stuff, but I try not to really look at that and stuff, just keep my head down.
Q. Who's here with you?
CHARLEY HULL: My dad and a few friends. My mum couldn't make it, but she's happy that I'm back in the Curtis Cup. She can come and watch me over there.
Q. What's your mom's name?
CHARLEY HULL: Well, she's Polish. Her name is Basenka (phon.), but in English it's called Barbara. I'm half Polish.
Q. The LGU just wanted a statement from you about what it means to you to be accepted into the Curtis Cup team and be named to the team.
CHARLEY HULL: I'm overwhelmed. I'm so happy, and it should be great. We've got a great captain, Teg, so yeah, I'm really looking forward to it.