Kraft Nabisco Championship
Mission Hills Country Club
Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Third-round notes and interviews
March 31, 2012
Yani Tseng -9, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Karin Sjodin -9, Rolex Rankings No. 216
Haeji Kang -7, Rolex Rankings No. 120
Lexi Thompson -4, Rolex Rankings No. 36
Azahara Munoz -4, Rolex Rankings No. 41
Lorena Ochoa, 2008 Kraft Nabisco champion; Jason Taylor, Executive Director & CEO, Lorena Ochoa Foundation
Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng will have a chance to avenge her loss at last year's Kraft Nabisco Championship as she enters Sunday's final round tied for the lead at 9-under-par with Sweden native Karin Sjodin. Tseng, who led by two shots after the second round of play, fired a 1-under 71 on Saturday. The No. 1 player in the world appeared to be battling through her third round as the winds picked up at Mission Hills Country Club during afternoon play.
The strong wind, which was steady at 18-20 mph for much of the afternoon and gusted up to 30 mph, didn't seem to bother Sjodin. She fired a 4-under 68 to move into a tie for the lead with Tseng. Sjodin will face quite a challenge as she goes for her first career win, as Tseng has won four of the last eight majors on the LPGA Tour.
It could prove to be an exciting finish at the season's first major as a total of nine players sit within four shots of the leaders. Haeji Kang is one shot back at 8-under while Rolex Rankings No. 2 Na Yeon Choi and 2009 U.S. Women's Open champion Eun-Hee Ji are among a group of five players at 6-under-par.
Tseng is paired with Karin Sjodin and Haeji Kang tomorrow, neither of whom has won on the LPGA Tour. Last year, Tseng was paired with Stacy Lewis, who defeated the world No. 1 to become a Rolex First-Time Winner. Time will tell whether history repeats itself. Sjodin has just four top-10 finishes to her credit in a seven-year career on the LPGA. Kang, once an accomplished amateur golfer in Australia and New Zealand, has two top-10's in four years on Tour. Neither has played in the lead group during the final round of a major championship.
A little case of déjà vu? Yani Tseng clearly remembers the struggles that she had over her final nine holes of the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship. During last year's final round, Tseng shot a 38 on the back nine of Mission Hills Country Club to lose by three shots to Stacy Lewis.
The score on her back nine wasn't quite as bad for Tseng on Saturday, having posted a 36 this time, but Tseng said it felt reminiscent of the problems she found on those holes in this championship last year.
"Today when I played Back 9 it's kind of for me a little memory of last year on Sunday, the Back 9," Tseng said. "I just feel like I wasn't comfortable with myself a little bit and just thinking too much and trying too hard. It's good to find out early. You still have that problem a little bit. So tomorrow I just want to go there and try to play my best and play one shot at a time and just have fun and just really enjoy as much as I can tomorrow."
Sjodin injured her rib on Friday, but took precautions on Saturday to avoid further injury. She said that it was an unusual injury and one that caught her off guard.
"When I walked between 9 and 10 yesterday something happened and I had a hard time breathing and had to ask for the medical… to come out and tried to pop something back in place," said Sjodin. "I don't know if it's dislocated, if that's the word that people use."
Saturday's warm weather may have helped ease the pain during the third round.
"Around the turn it started hurting, but then it kind of went away again," she said. "So I think the heat probably helps it when it's warm out."
Trying for another record: Yani Tseng became the youngest golfer in history - male or female—to win five career majors at the 2011 RICOH Women's British Open. On Sunday, she'll attempt to become the youngest to a win six major championships.
Tseng will be 23 years, 2 months and 9 days on Sunday. Below are a few of the youngest players to reach the six career majors mark.
|Player||Age of Sixth Win||Sixth Major Win||Total Major Wins|
|Tiger Woods||26 yrs, 3 mths, 9 days||2001 Masters||14|
|Mickey Wright||26 yrs, 4 mths, 17 days||1961 U.S. Women's Open||13|
|Jack Nicklaus||26 yrs, 5 mths, 18 days||1966 British Open||18|
|Karrie Webb||27 yrs, 7 mths, 21 days||2002 RICOH Women's Open||7|
Back-to-back Majors? Yani Tseng won the final major of the 2011 season when she captured the RICOH Women's British Open last July. If Tseng can pull out a victory at the 2012 Kraft Nabisco Championship, she would become the 15th player to win at least two consecutive majors. The last player to accomplish the feat was Lorena Ochoa, who won the 2007 RICOH Women's British Open and the 2008 Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Getting closer to the call…A victory at the Kraft Nabisco Championship would give Yani Tseng two more points toward qualifying for the LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame. Tseng currently has 23 points so a win would put her just two points away toward reaching the first criterion of Hall of Fame induction, which is 27 points. Players must also have 10 years of service on the LPGA Tour for induction.
In contention…Haeji Kang will play in the leaders group tomorrow and kept herself in contention for her first career win after shooting an even-par 72, putting her a 7-under after three rounds and two shots off the lead. Kang went into the turn at 2-over, bogeying back-to-back holes on Nos. 6 and 7, but dug herself out of what looked like a deep hole. She eagled the 11th hole and considered it her saving grace.
"After that eagle, that kind of saved me," said Kang. "It got some endorphins out of me. So I think obviously that helped out a lot.
"I hit a good solid drive, but a little left, was in a short‑cut rough, so I hit a 5‑wood. It was about 232, and I felt it was the club. I hit it perfectly and it was a little short of the green. I putted about a 30‑footer in, so it was a good eagle."
Giving back…LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Lorena Ochoa was on site at Mission Hills Country Club on Saturday, not playing in the field but promoting her foundation, something that she has turned all of her attention to after her playing career. Ochoa who won the 2008 Kraft Nabisco Championship spoke about her post career endeavors.
"I always said that when I finished playing in the LPGA, that I still wanted to be active and wanted to be involved with this," said Ochoa. "Fortunately the foundation is my No. 1 priority, and what we do with the Lorena Ochoa Golf Foundation is try to reach out to the minorities, and especially families for little girls, little boys, for them to be able to play golf, to get that first golf club in their hands, to play some balls, to feel comfortable.
"The mission of the Lorena Ochoa Golf Foundation is to provide opportunities for family through health, education and inclusion programs all delivered through family golf activities, so in a nutshell golf is our vehicle for introducing healthier lifestyles to entire families."
Prom please? Every 17-year old goes through the stressful process of finding a prom date and Rolex Rankings No. 36 Lexi Thompson is no different, although she may go through with it in a uncustomary way.
"I'm going to prom," said Thompson. "My sponsors are setting it up to make it like a fun creative way."
Thompson, who is home-schooled, said she will attend Coral Glades High School prom and looks forward to a night every teenager remember.
"It's going to be a fun night," said Thompson. "That's all I can say."
Ace Alert #2! Na Yeon Choi sank her third career hole-in-one on Saturday with a 3 hybrid from 176 yards. She was the second player this week at the Kraft Nabisco to card an ace as Jenny Shin holed out on the 17th hole in the second round.
Getting covered…Golf Channel will increase its final round coverage on Sunday by 90 minutes and airtime will be 3:00-8:30p.m. ET.
Tweet of the Day: "Haven't watched co-leader Karin Sjodin much. Among interests lists building IKEA furniture. A girl after my own heart." -- @GolfWeekJules
Of note… Double points in the Rolex Player of the Year race, double points in the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race and double points in the U.S. Solheim Cup Team race are all on the line tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: All right. We'd like to welcome Rolex Ranking's No. 1 Yani Tseng into the interview room. Currently tied for the lead heading into the final round, not an unfamiliar spot for you, I'm sure, but not exactly the type of day I know that you were hoping for heading into the round. Can you take me through your day out there and what happened?
YANI TSENG: Actually the front nine I played very solid, especially under this wind, and I don't think it was as tough as I thought because maybe I already prepared for this wind like this. So I mean I just hit lots of good shots today, but on the back 9 I think my emotions and I think I kind of little thinking too much, wasn't trusting as much as I do on the front nine. On the Back 9 I kind of tried too hard to play better, and some of the shots just didn't come in, and didn't have a good communication with my caddie and just hitting some terrible shots out there, but I hung in there. I just tried to smile more and lots of fans out there and just really happy and thanks for coming to supporting us to give us the big crowd.
THE MODERATOR: I know not the type of day that you were hoping for, but is it ever a good thing to have this type of round on a day like today knowing it didn't happen tomorrow and you can kind of learn some things heading into Sunday's final round?
YANI TSENG: It is. Of course, I'm happy that it happened today instead of tomorrow, so I know I'm learning.
Today when I played Back 9 it's kind for me a little memory of last year the Sunday, the Back 9. I just feel like I wasn't comfortable with myself a little bit and just thinking too much and trying too hard. It's good to find out early. You still have that problem a little bit. So tomorrow I just want to go there and try to play my best and play one shot at a time and just have fun and just really enjoy as much as I can tomorrow.
Q. You knock in a one‑foot birdie putt on 10. Then you go to 11 and get put on the clock. It looked like you sped up a little bit and you bogeyed that par‑5. Were you bothered by getting put on the clock?
YANI TSENG: I think so. I always have that problem; I don't know why. Every time they come out there, I'm warning or clock. I don't know why. The group in front of us is still on the next tee and we wasn't far behind and I don't know why they put on the clock. But like I had that last week and the week in Phoenix, too. It was like I don't know if I play too slow or what, but sometimes we always went on the clock and got warning, but I really just needed don't worry about those things and just really play my pace, but on the tee box on No. 11 I probably just didn't commit to the shot because I was thinking to hit it high and let the wind take my ball, and my caddie was thinking to hit a fade against the wind, so I probably just didn't pick one of them and just hit it. So I had a bad shot there.
Q. Yani, how important was the birdie on 17 and what club did you hit and how long was the putt?
YANI TSENG: The putt was just tap‑in. I hit a 6‑iron choke down and that was a pretty good shot for me. And I saved par on No. 16. I think that's huge for me, too, so those two really put me in tied for the lead.
Q. And when did the wind start affecting you, did you start noticing it?
YANI TSENG: The wind started affecting on the first tee. Like before, everything was pretty good, but when we go to tee off, the wind just kind of picked up a lot, but I wasn't thinking about much. I like to play in the wind. I think it's more fun and more challenge. You just need to be patient out there.
We're hitting a lot of shots in 20 yards wind, 30 yards wind. So it's kind of fun out there. That's why golf is really challenge.
Q. To follow on that, since the tour came to the U. S., you've played in freezing cold and cold rain and now in blustery wind. What are you prepared for tomorrow?
YANI TSENG: Hopefully it's a good day. I mean, yeah, last two weeks the Sunday we always played in the bad weather. But we got this Saturday, but I think it's fun. As long as no rain, snowing and no hail, we should be okay to play.
Q. How do you explain why you're able to play so well in all those different conditions?
YANI TSENG: I grew up in Taiwan. I mean Taiwan is a little island. It's always very windy. I think all the players have that experience that played very windy, cold in Taiwan. So I think that's why I'm pretty good with the wind player.
And when I'm in Florida I work on hitting the low shots and hitting kind of different shots. I think that's why. And I love to play. I think I just need to be more positive to think in this wind.
Q. Yani, I know you got a lot of motivation out of what happened in the last round last year. Was there anything else you got out of it, practical thing that you learned that you will apply tomorrow?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, of course. I mean, like I say, I was learning more controlling myself, and just really play one shot at a time because last year I was really struggling to hit the best shot and didn't make a putt. And after that I'm learning a lot. I miss a putt, I don't care. I just head into the next hole and just smile, chin up and just always looking forward and wasn't thinking about much to try to win the tournament, because I mean sometimes the harder you try, the worse you get. The only thing you can do is play your best and just have more fun out there.
Q. Yani, was there a moment out there or a shot or a hole where you thought the wind really was impacting you more than anyplace else? I know you played that front nine some of those holes right in the middle of the wind.
YANI TSENG: Yeah, but I mean it was fine. The wind was there or sometimes, you just need to have 20 more yards, but like the par‑3 on No. 5 or No. 4 it was a very tough par‑3. I mean that's like a 20, 30‑yards mile, and the next hole, the tee shot I was hitting rescue there. Today I hit driver and couldn't get it in the water. So it was a huge difference.
But I think playing under this wind you just need to be patient all the time, and everybody is going to miss. It's not easy to play, and I think I did a pretty good job today.
Q. Before the tournament you said you had practiced jumping into your swimming pool. At any point during these first three rounds do you allow yourself to even look at Poppy's Pond and wonder about what you might do on Sunday?
YANI TSENG: I do look. I mean every time I walk through that bridge I look a little bit and the water is really clean, of course. And I think they've redone a little bit. I think they cut the front. I think it wasn't that deep the first two, three feet maybe this happened last year. So I think they did. I don't know.
Q. They did. They changed it a little bit.
YANI TSENG: Yeah. They made more deeper the front like first couple feet, so I've been looking at it, so I've been paying attention. So I wasn't thinking too much I want to jump or something.
When I look, I just think about this is ‑‑ I think it's a beautiful tradition. I mean everybody jump in a pond. You got lots of memories to see on the TV that every player like gives a different jump. It was just fun, but I wasn't thinking about it that much, and hopefully tomorrow maybe after that last putt drop in I can start to think about it.
Q. Yani, the players that are going to be playing with you tomorrow have never won before. Do you worry about players like that who are hungry, have really nothing to lose, nothing to prove and all the expectations are on you?
YANI TSENG: I mean it's a major. I mean it's nothing you can worry about. The only thing you can do is play ‑‑ like do good yourself and just play, like focus on yourself instead of what other players are doing because even the two groups in front, everybody is very close. We are just a couple shots. And I mean two or three shots in a major is like nothing.
So tomorrow I'm more focused on myself more and just have fun and try to focus everything.
THE MODERATOR: Any more questions for Yani? Thank you very much for joining us and best of luck tomorrow.
YANI TSENG: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: All right. We'd like to welcome one of our current leaders, Karin Sjodin, into the interview room. Congratulations, 4‑under 68 today.
KARIN SJODIN: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Can you just tell me, I guess take me through the day and what it's like now to be tied for the lead going into the final round of a major?
KARIN SJODIN: It feels good. I mean this is where you want to be. The day was kind of smooth, it felt like. I was never in any trouble, apart from one hole where I hit two bad shots. I guess it's good to make them on the same hole, but it was nice and smooth out there.
THE MODERATOR: This is your seventh year on tour and your career best finish is a tie for seventh back in 2006. What are the emotions, I guess going through your head right now as you go into this and knowing what the Kraft is and the tradition and being up there with Yani?
KARIN SJODIN: It feels great to be there. I don't know if I've had time to really think about it much. I just came off the 18th, but it's going to be fun tomorrow, definitely.
Q. I was looking at your twitter account. I don't know if you were joking about the dislocating a rib. What was that?
KARIN SJODIN: I don't know. When I walked between 9 and 10 yesterday something happened and I had a hard time breathing and had to ask for the medical ‑‑ for Caroline to come out and tried to pop something back in place. I don't know if it's dislocated, if that's the word that people use. It sounds weird regarding ribs to me, but it hurts, and she taped it up this morning, so it feels better today, and I guess some pills helped, too.
Q. Have you ever had something like that happen before?
KARIN SJODIN: No, no, I haven't, but I've talked to some other players that have had it happen when they were sleeping and woke up in just horrible pain, so I guess it's not as weird as it sounds maybe.
Q. Did it bother you out there today or did the medicine help?
KARIN SJODIN: Yeah, around the turn it started hurting, but then it kind of went away again. So I think the heat probably helps it when it's warm out.
Q. On your bio it says you like to put together eye key /A furniture in your spare team, which seems a cruel way to spend your spare time?
KARIN SJODIN: Yeah.
Q. Does that patience help you ‑‑ obviously you have to be very patient to do that. Did that help you play today in the wind and the conditions?
KARIN SJODIN: Maybe, but I think if you enjoy putting it together, it's not that much about patience. It's more enjoyment, I guess. But it probably helps. I think so.
Q. You've never even made the cut here before. What's different this year? What has changed for you?
KARIN SJODIN: I don't know. I seem to hit it very straight this year compared to in the past, and the rough here is usually very, very punishing, so I think it's been tough for me to play well here because of that and also the fast greens when I haven't had perfect speed on them.
Q. How did the wind affect things? When did it start picking up for you?
KARIN SJODIN: I'd say around the fourth tee box when it really, really started.
Q. What do you do to adjust to that?
KARIN SJODIN: I don't know. You aim towards the direction the wind is coming from and see the ball fly.
Q. Was there a point out there where you started looking, you know, we were talking in here about maybe they may have to even suspend the play if it got much stronger. Was there a point out there where you were kind of looking around going maybe we shouldn't be here?
KARIN SJODIN: Yeah, I think around probably 5, 6 are probably not the holes you really want the wind to pick up on. So I don't know if it was because of the hole we were on or if it was because of the wind, and it seemed a little much, but on 7 my ball was kind of wobbling on the greens. But after that I never thought of it again.
Q. Was there ever a single shot where you backed off a couple times and didn't really know what to do?
KARIN SJODIN: A couple of times I did, but I think playing in wind is more about just trusting the decision you made and hit it as solid as you can because the solid shots don't move too much at least.
Q. You were obviously a great player in college, had a great record in Sweden. Maybe not the success that you want on the LPGA as quickly as you would have wanted. What have been some of the struggles out there and maybe how has your game matured along the way?
KARIN SJODIN: I think in college and amateur golf I lived off of my long drives. I never really realized what my weaknesses were because I could just bomb it up there and had such an advantage because of that. And coming out here all of a sudden there are a lot of people that hit it further.
It took me a while to first realize what I really needed to work on and I guess how to work on those things, to get a plan on how to work on putting when I'd never really dealt with it in the past and things like that. And I think now in every part of the game I know what I want to do and how to work on it, so that helps.
Q. How much has your game changed I guess over the years? What are the biggest differences from when you first came out on tour until now?
KARIN SJODIN: I would say I don't hit it as far, especially not with the driver, but I also don't hit a big push hook. So it's a little more control right now, and also my ‑‑ I would say my putting has improved a lot. It still has ways to go, but it's definitely going in the right direction.
Q. Karin, have you ever played with Yani before, and can you imagine what it will be like tomorrow in the final of a major playing in her group?
KARIN SJODIN: I cannot remember if I have played with her. If I did, it was a while ago.
I mean you see the crowds around that group out there, but I played with I guess it was No. 2 in the world today. It's fun. She's not Yani Tseng, but it was still quite a bit of people out there and more than what you're used to maybe in the first few rounds.
So I think it's just fun to kind of playoff of the crowds a bit, too, so hopefully it will be good.
Q. And did you ever have winds like this at Oklahoma State?
KARIN SJODIN: We got the winds, but not the sand.
Q. You're in a similar position as another player last year who hadn't won on tour and was going up against Yani Tseng. Do you just go out and play your game or do you keep looking over going, well, I have to stay with her?
KARIN SJODIN: You play your game, definitely. I'm playing against the golf course. Whoever I play with isn't really that big a deal, and I think especially when you play twosomes you tend to walk a lot with your caddie and talk to him more than you do the other player, and the tempo is a little higher that way. So I'm going to try to hit every shot to the best of my abilities and what she does, I'm not really that much in control of that.
Q. Karin, I know we talked at Founders a little bit about your off season wasn't typical in the fact that you had a little bit of a case of pneumonia and actually had to pull out of qualifying school for the ladies European Tour. Can you take me through that again and just what that kind of did to you and not having all that time to work on your game in the off season, how it might have affected you?
KARIN SJODIN: I think I had to stop working out, No. 1, and they told me that I shouldn't work out until I stopped coughing, and that wasn't until Dr. Thomas here with the tour gave me some more medicine in Phoenix.
So that way I guess I had more free time, and also on the golf course, in the first couple of weeks I couldn't do anything. So I guess when I'm out there, I probably am maybe a little bit more efficient since I don't have the time I used to.
But I don't know. It seems to maybe be a good way of doing it.
Q. Did you lose strength over that time, too? Are you hitting your clubs any different than what you were before getting sick?
KARIN SJODIN: I don't feel like the driver is going that much shorter. The irons are, but I don't know if that's because of that or other things. It's hard to know, switching equipment and things like that, too. But probably ‑‑ I hope I get weaker from not working out. Otherwise it's a waste.
Q. Run us through your round. How was playing with Yani? How was everything going for you?
HAEJI KANG: Yani had lots of fans out there today, and they were out there for me, too, so I kind of enjoyed it on the first tee, and it was very loud the whole 18 holes, and it was very windy out there. So it was very tough.
Q. How did the wind ‑‑ obviously it's been a factor and been the story line today. Did it play a huge effect on your game or negatively?
HAEJI KANG: Yeah. Obviously I'm hitting a little shorter than Yani. So a few holes I had to grab a few woods into the green, so that was it.
Q. Does playing with Yani, how far she does hit, do you just try to mentally stick on your game or obviously you don't try to play like her, but how hard is that to kind of see her drive so far and then you come up and say, all right, I gotta drive my drive?
HAEJI KANG: Yeah. I played with Lincicome before a few times, so it didn't really bother me or anything because I just tried to stick with my game and just do what I gotta do.
Q. Okay. And you eagled on 11?
HAEJI KANG: Yes.
Q. Run us through that.
HAEJI KANG: I hit a good solid drive, but a little left, was in a short‑cut rough, so I hit a 5‑wood. It was about 232, and I felt this was the club, so I hit it perfectly and it was a little short of the green. I putt about a 30‑footer in, so it was a good eagle.
Q. Awesome. That's great. And then you had back‑to‑back bogeys on the front nine. That could be a tough stretch. How did you climb out of that? Were you frustrated at all?
HAEJI KANG: I went out to two over after nine holes, but after that eagle, that kind of saved me, so it got some endorphins out of me. So I think obviously that helped out a lot. Putting wasn't great today.
Q. So you're two strokes back off the lead. Going into tomorrow what are you going to be concentrating on to keep yourself in it?
HAEJI KANG: Yeah. Tomorrow is another just usual golf day, so I'll just do my best, do what I gotta do, and if I keep playing like that, then I'll be fine.
Q. Perfect. Congratulations.
HAEJI KANG: Thank you very much.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations. A great round today, 4‑under par 68. I know not quite the finish that you probably would have wanted on 18, but you got off to a tremendous start early on and looked like you had things going early. Can you take me through the round and what was working well for you out there today?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I started off really great. I started off with three birdies, then par, then another birdie. I'm not sure. But I shot 31 on the front, so it got me pretty excited and just got me going.
You know, I ended with a bogey, but it got pretty windy for the last three or four holes, so I was happy with a par and just get away with one bogey.
THE MODERATOR: When you get off to a start like that and you tally so many birdies early on, do you start thinking about a low round? Do you start thinking about how far you can move up a leaderboard especially on Saturday of a major championship weekend?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I was thinking I was definitely shooting a low score, but I was trying not to get ahead of myself. You just have to take one shot at a time, especially at a major, so you just have to focus one shot at a time and see where it goes.
THE MODERATOR: You talked about the wind picking up on those last few holes? Did you know about that the winds were going to pick up this afternoon and was that in your thoughts at all during your round today?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I knew they were going to pick up they said around 3:00 it was supposed to be like gusts of 75. So I was like, oh, that should be great. But it happened that it became windy for my last three or four holes, so I had to hit some knock‑downs and just three‑quarter shots.
THE MODERATOR: On 18 I was there. I got to see the chip shot that you hit. Can you take me through your third shot and the drop situation that you had there and why you chose to hit from there and what you were thinking on that shot?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah. I hit my third shot over the green against the stands over there. So I had a free drop either two club lengths where I could get a swing or I could drop over behind the green.
I chose that spot just because I knew where I was landing it and I could see my shot instead of flopping it over on top of a hill, and I knew the shot I wanted to hit.
Q. Do you feel like you left some strokes out there with your putting? When you look back at that round, is that what you're going to regret the most?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah. I felt like I left probably about two out there I would have liked to make, of course, the last putt. But overall I take positives out of it and the great shots I hit; and I putted a lot better today, so I'm just going to take some confidence going into tomorrow.
Q. And did you speak earlier this week, are you missing prom or are you going to prom or is there a prom story?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah. I'm going to prom. My sponsors are setting it up to make it like a fun creative way.
Q. How will that work? How do the sponsors set up prom?
LEXI THOMPSON: Well, I'm not too sure what's going on. They just gave me like a brief thing about it, but I know the fans are going to have something to do with picking my date, but I'll of course have the last say, so I'm not even sure.
Q. Will that be more nerve‑wracking than making a short putt?
LEXI THOMPSON: It might be. It's going to be a fun night. That's all I can say.
Q. Lexi, which shot on 18 was the hardest with the wind conditions for you?
LEXI THOMPSON: I would probably say the drive. The drive when it was gusting really hard. Probably 40 miles per hour. At least it was going away from the water, but I knew if I hooked it, it wouldn't carry. So that's why I left it outright.
Q. Lexi, on 14 after the missed putt, you looked up in the air like I don't know if something passed over. Can you tell us about that?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah. Actually right in the middle of my stroke a bird flew over, so I could see the shadow right over my ball. Not one to make excuses, but it sort of messed with my mind a little bit.
Q. Lexi, back to 18, on the drive, would you have almost had to aim it at the water to land it on the right side of the fairway given how the wind was gusting, and was that a spot that ever entered your mind?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah. With the way the wind was blowing you had to aim over the corner of the water or just a little inside it. So that wasn't going in my mind. I was aiming way right of that water. I didn't care if the wind took it. That's why I ended up in the trees. But I didn't end up in the water at all on the hole, so I'm happy with that.
Q. Greg said he thought what was most impressive was when the wind came up you were accepting of shots that were less than perfect, and that can be very hard for a golfer of any age. How easy was that to do for you today?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah. Well, when the wind came up, you have to take more club and just swing easy, because you can't swing out of control and expect good ball flight shots and expect to be close. So with the way the wind was, 30, 20‑footers aren't that bad. And you just get away with pars and be happy with it.
Q. When you got to 6‑under, what was going through your head?
LEXI THOMPSON: I was thinking maybe I could make some more birdies, because I had a few more chances after that, but I ended up leaving them short. You know, I was just taking one shot at a time the whole day and not getting ahead of myself.
Q. What's your impression of how the course changed today as it got windier and also how it kind of changed through the week, the greens and the rough?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, it changed a lot. Actually, the rough has grown up a lot. They're watering it every day and not mowing it, so it's actually grown up a good bit. But the course is playing a lot different with the wind. I had a lot more longer shots, 7, 6‑irons in and three‑quarter shots, so it's playing a lot different.
Q. Obviously Yani still has quite a few holes left, but what kind of round do you think it's going to take tomorrow? I mean do you think you'll have to kind of career it? What do you anticipate tomorrow?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, well, it all depends if the wind picks up like it is now or if it's going to stay steady and play easy, but I'm just going to take one shot at a time and just try to make birdies, but I would think it's probably going to take like a 66 or something like that. I just want to shoot low. That's all I can do.
Q. And where is prom exactly?
LEXI THOMPSON: Well, I'm not sure where the location is, but I will be going to Coral Glades High School prom.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Any more questions for Lexi? Thank you very much and congratulations again on a great round and best of luck tomorrow.
LEXI THOMPSON: Thank you.
AZAHARA MUNOZ, Rolex Rankings No. 41
Q. I'm here with Azahara Munoz, and she just shot a 5‑under today to go 4‑under for the tournament, one of the low rounds today. Just take us through your round and what was really working for you in particular.
AZAHARA MUNOZ: You know, this week I've been struggling hitting my driver. I just only hit like three or four fairways, so today I started hitting all the fairways and pretty long drives, and my irons were really good.
But on the front nine I struggled to get the distance right. But you know, I made a really nice birdie on 9 and that kind of kept me going and on the Back 9 I hit really good iron shots. I hit it really close and made the putts, so I was really happy with that.
Q. You said earlier your hat threw off and obviously it's getting a little windy here. How happy are you to get your round in before these gusts get pretty bad?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: I was really happy. I played my last four holes they were pretty windy. I made birdie, birdie, par and then bogey on the last which kind of stung a little bit, but I'm really happy to be done and the girls out there are going to struggle a little bit.
Q. I was going to say, what do you think will be the effect with the girls that are out right now?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: It's going to definitely be a factor. I mean it's so windy. The only hole that I played with a lot of wind was 18. I mean I had to back off the ball like three or four times because my hat was blowing off, and putting is really complicated right now.
Q. Any strategy, I mean coming into tomorrow it might be just as windy or even worse? Playing in wind, do you have any prior experience or strategy going into that?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: No. I mean you just have to focus, try to hit your targets instead of thinking of the wind and just staying stable and fairways and greens as always.
Q. And then moving into tomorrow, what are you concentrating on, strengths that you had today that will help you tomorrow?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Yeah, hopefully I'll just try to remember what I was feeling today with my driver, and you know, my irons were really good and my putting was really good on the Back 9, so hopefully I can just focus on that and just do the same.
Q. Great. Congratulations.
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Welch to the 2012 Kraft Nabisco Championship. We have two very special guests with us today. On the far left, your right, Mr. Jason Taylor. He's the executive director and CEO of the Lorena Ochoa Golf Foundation, and I think the person to my immediate left needs no introduction; former Rolex Ranking No. 1 player, 27‑time winner on the LPGA Tour with two majors including this tournament several years ago, stepped away from the game in 2010 and has now taken her interests away from the golf course and has a family and many other things going on in her life. So first of all, welcome to both of you. Thanks for being here.
LORENA OCHOA: Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Lorena, we'll start with you. What brings you to Palm Springs today? I know you have a very special charity event going on after play today called the Lorena Ochoa's Unforgettable Role. Tell us about that.
LORENA OCHOA: Hello, everybody. It's very nice to be here. When I found out that the tournament was happening here in Palm Springs, the Nabisco, I got so excited. First, it's great to go again over there and see the course and all my friends, get into the clubhouse and have a chocolate milk shake that I'm going to have later today.
And the other reason that is making me really happy and excited is I'm here because of the Ochoa Golf Foundation. I always said that when I finished playing in the LPGA, I always said that I still wanted to be active and wanted to be involved with this. Fortunately the foundation is my No. 1 priority, and what we do with the Lorena Ochoa Golf Foundation is try to reach out to the minorities, and especially families for little girls, little boys, for them to be able to play golf, to get that first golf club in their hands, to play some balls, to feel comfortable.
We are very worried about the health issue. We are very focused on that, that we teach them the whole environment, how healthy it is to go outside, to have some fun with the family, to play golf and be healthy.
And what's happening right now on the 18 green, the putting, it's just a fun game, it's something really exciting that's been happening for the last few months, and to be able to be here and talk a little about the foundation and share with all of you what we're doing it's a great opportunity. And we will talk to you and share more with all your questions, but it's great to be here. It's good to see all of you.
THE MODERATOR: And for Jason, if you would, just tell us about the Lorena Ochoa Golf Foundation. It's primarily focused here in the United States, here in Southern California. What are some of your goals right now?
LORENA OCHOA: The mission of the Lorena Ochoa Golf Foundation is to provide opportunities for family through health, education and inclusion programs all delivered through family golf activities, so in a nutshell golf is our vehicle for introducing healthier lifestyles to entire families.
It's a USA‑based foundation. We've been spending the last year and a half piloting our programs in Southern California and we're in the roll‑out stage right now, so we're really excited. And within the next year or two we hope to start expanding throughout the United States. We've already got some plans to move into Texas and Florida as early as 2013.
THE MODERATOR: Lorena, back to you, if you would. There's a lot of people in this room who haven't seen you since you retired, so can you give us a quick update on what's new with you outside of the foundation with your life?
LORENA OCHOA: Well, for sure, I had a baby. I guess I should start with that. His name is Pedro. He's three months old. He's here with me; now with my father, his grandpa. Hopefully he's doing good.
It's been amazing, just for sure my life changed after having Pedro. And you know what, I say one more time I think I made the right decision stepping away from the competition and just being able to have more time for my life and more personal quality time.
And I live in Mexico City. I've been there for the last couple years, and I said that I would stop playing on the LPGA, but I will still play, and that's what I'm doing. I started practicing. I stopped playing for almost six months, but now I'm starting to practice again.
I have a few tournaments coming up for the foundation. The next one will be in Las Cabos, and the 26th, 27th and 28th of April I'm going to play in Las Cabos. And actually I play tournaments for my sponsors, for the foundation, for my school named Guadalajara La Barranca. I'm going to play a couple of tournaments during the summer in Europe.
So you know, here I am and I only left for a few months, but I promise to be back in a way that you're going to see me, you're going to see my face, and it's fun now to be on this side of the lines and enjoy what I'm doing.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Lorena and Jason?
Q. Lorena, I feel like I should ask you about your birdies and bogeys today seeing you in this format. When you walk on to this property, maybe specifically this property as opposed to any other tournament, does it all float back to you about your record round here, your win here in '08? Does it all float back to you?
LORENA OCHOA: Yes. Not literally right now or today when I walk in, but for the last few weeks, I knew I was coming here to the Nabisco, my family and my friends all of them keep telling me, come on. Just see the 18 green you want to get back to the game, you want to play again on the LPGA tournament.
And for sure, you know, they asked me, do you miss playing, do you miss winning, and I say yes. But for sure, you know, I don't miss all the things, you know, with all the traveling and all the practice.
So I can tell you, you know, I'm just happy and it's great to see things from the outside. I've done it, and I had my chance and I had my time and right now it's great to be back in a different way.
I think I would love to play this tournament again, you know, just for fun. Hopefully I can make that call in two years. But right now it's great memories. It's nice to be here.
Q. So you get that question not just from the media, but from your friends and your family too?
LORENA OCHOA: Yes. All the time. They ‑‑ you know, in a way they know. You know, when I say that I will stop playing competitive golf and attend tournaments on the LPGA, you know, right away, come on, when are you getting back, when are you getting back, when are you getting back.
And I'm not going to get back. It's something that I don't see myself going in. I will play maybe one tournament a year, U. S. Open, maybe one British Open, you know, just to get back and have fun, but I don't see myself playing full time again.
Q. How has motherhood changed you, and what have you enjoyed the most about this new chapter?
LORENA OCHOA: Well, I think I'm the same. I'm doing the best I can. I'm ‑‑ like they say, you think with all the traveling and all the pressure of playing tournaments and being all over the place that you will be fine once the baby comes because we're used to being responsible in that way, but it is impossible to describe. I mean you get so (indiscernible) with the baby.
And he's just the best joy. It's hard to describe. And I gotta really ‑‑ I heard because I can't compare, but I heard that my baby is good. He really doesn't cry very much. He sleeps all night. I've been lucky in that way. So he's been really easy. He loves to travel. I already took him to maybe six different states in Mexico and he's already been in the States here. And he's only three months old. So he's used to being in a suitcase. He better get used to that. So it's been good.
Q. And I know you didn't watch a whole lot of golf on TV when you were playing. I don't know if you've been able to catch much of the LPGA action this year and just kind of some thoughts on what Yani is doing and the history that she's making out here?
LORENA OCHOA: Well, for sure, I don't see every day or every weekend, but I am always trying to look either on the Internet or watch who won the tournaments. And we all know that Yani is dominating and she feels so confident. You can tell that she's at that level where she feels good and things are easy for her. She makes lots of birdies, and I guess what I can say or what I can tell her is just to enjoy the moment because it doesn't stay that way forever and she needs to be careful and just keep practicing and keep focused. And I think she's going to win a lot of tournaments this year and the next couple years. So I wish her the best, and it seems like, you know, everybody needs to work hard to catch up, but that's the way golf is. It's up and down, up and down, and right now it's her time, and it's great to see also new faces and a few of the American players are doing good. I promise to keep in touch and follow the LPGA. It's my family and I will always follow them.
Q. Lorena, we missed you. Did you miss us?
LORENA OCHOA: Yes.
Q. On a personal level talking about the charity and talking about your winning and all. What gives you more satisfaction as a person, as a human being, helping minorities or those trophies that you won and being No. 1 in the world?
LORENA OCHOA: I think it's nothing better than being able to help ‑‑ I think in a way it's a responsibility, you know, being a professional athlete and having the opportunity to reach out. I always done this from the bottom of my heart. It's a very unique opportunity, and I'm trying to be responsible, you know, and to do it the right way.
You can't compare winning tournaments. I think both are great, but right now, what I'm able to do is to work as hard as I can and help as many kids and as many families as I can, and that's my priority, and I'm enjoying that role a lot and I'm going to continue that.
Q. Right now in this country at least there's a lot of talk about how we need to improve junior golf and the First Tee program and all this, maybe grow the game that way. How similar or different is the Lorena Ochoa Golf Foundation to some of those other programs?
JASON TAYLOR: Well, we're not necessarily trying to grow champion golfers. What we're trying to do is provide opportunities for people to go as far as they want. We're trying to put forward the other benefits of playing golf. For us it's very important to create a vehicle and an arena for families to spend time together of all ages; children who are 50 with parents who are 80 or children who are 10 with parents who are 30 or 40.
And with that, if they want to go further with Lorena's Links Golf Courses, which is what we call our partner golf courses, there's programs in place that makes it accessible. So we know through this there's going to be champions that wouldn't have had a chance to become a champion because golf wasn't accessible for them. All of our courses have such wonderful programs that cost zero dollars, five dollars, ten dollars, twenty dollars. The whole family can come in and participate. So through that people who get their first opportunity may go on forever and they're going to have professional PGA instruction from LPGA and PGA members. We think there will be some champions, but our goal is to really create that family time and a healthy lifestyle for these people.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Jason, thank you so much for joining us. Lorena, always a pleasure to see you. And enjoy your time here.