RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup -- Third round notes and interviews

Photo Credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Ai Miyazato of Japan waves to the gallery on the 16th hole during the third round of the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa.

RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup
Wildfire Golf Club at JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa
Phoenix, Ariz.
Third-round notes and interviews
March 17, 2012

Yani Tseng -14, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Ai Miyazato -14, Rolex Rankings No. 9
Suzann Pettersen -9, Rolex Rankings No. 3
Cristie Kerr -9, Rolex Rankings No. 4
Karrie Webb -9, Rolex Rankings No. 19
Caroline Hedwall -8, Rolex Rankings No. 32

 

Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng and No. 9 Ai Miyazato are tied for the lead at 14-under-par after 54 holes at the 2012 RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. Tseng, who was the second-round leader, shot a 5-under 67 on Saturday at Wildfire Golf Club while Miyazato recorded a bogey-free 6-under 66 to move into a tie for the lead. The pair will head into the final round leading by one shot over Rolex Rankings No. 2 Na Yeon Choi.

 

Friendly Foes: Co-leaders Ai Miyazato and Yani Tseng are entering familiar territory heading into tomorrow’s final round. The duo have become quite accustomed to playing together in the final group as they were previously paired alongside one another during the final round of the Honda LPGA Thailand 2012.

Miyazato went into the final round of the Honda LPGA Thailand 2012 with a one stroke lead over Tseng but Tseng prevailed to notch her 12th LPGA Tour victory.

While Tseng is known for her strength and aggressive style on the golf course, Miyazato has become infamous for her smooth tempo. The duo’s games might be opposite but during Saturday’s post-round interviews both players acknowledged their excitement for tomorrow’s pairing.

“It's always fun to play with her,” said Miyazato. “I know her really well and I think we like to play each other.  I mean I like to play with Yani, I don't know about her, but you know, we are totally different types of player.  But it's very inspiring to play with her, so I'm very excited to play with her tomorrow.”

“She's such a nice great people, great player and you can always learn something from her when you play with her,” said Tseng. “She always smiles when she plays doesn't matter if she hit a bad shots, it's like, oh, it's not a big deal.  She always plays so well, and when you play with her, I mean we talk a lot.  We just talk everything, not on the golf course, outside of golf course.  And it's just so much fun to play with her.”

 

Adding to her resume? Yani Tseng will be seeking her 14th career LPGA Tour victory when she tees off on Sunday for the final round of the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. But holding a lead entering the final round hasn’t necessarily equated to victory for Tseng throughout her career.

Tseng has led or co-led 10 times heading into the final round of a tournament and only five times she has gone on to win the event. But that number is deceptive. She went 0 for 4 to start her career in 2008 and 2009, but since then she’s 5 for 6, her only loss coming at last year’s Kraft Nabisco Championship.

 

Wind advantage: Ai Miyazato is no stranger to playing in the wind. Having grown up on the island of Okinawa in Japan, Miyazato said that she grew accustomed early in life to playing in windy conditions. So the more breezy conditions in Phoenix on Saturday didn’t seem to bother Miyazato.

“If it's getting windy, it makes me think about my hometown,” Miyazato said. “So that's why I think in the wind ‑‑ when I play in the wind, it's really comfortable for me.”

Still, Miyazato acknowledged that the Wildfire course in the open desert certainly played tougher with the winds picking up on Saturday.

“I shot 6‑under, but it feels like I shot 10‑under today,” Miyazato said.

 

Moving Day: With rain, cooler temperatures and breezier conditions in the forecast for Sunday’s final round, there was perhaps even more motivation for players to take advantage of the opportunity to move up the leaderboard on Saturday. And some familiar names found a way to go low in the third round.

Rolex Rankings No. 4 Cristie Kerr tied Miyazato for the low round of the day, a 6-under 66, and jumped from a T34 into a T6 at 9-under-par. She sits five shots back of the leaders heading into the final round but it’s a much better feeling for Kerr than the one she had after shooting a 1-over 73 on Friday.

“It was a must,” Kerr said of her low round. “You know, to be able to get three or four back as of right now with some bad weather coming in tomorrow, it's not a bad position to be. It’s going to be tough tomorrow with the rain and the cold and the wind, but I felt like I needed to have a low round to get back in there today.”

Suzann Pettersen also put herself back in the mix with a 5-under 67 on Saturday. Her low round moved her to 9-under-par for the tournament and into a tie for sixth with Kerr and five other players.

“When I went out and played a few holes, I thought if I could get to 10, it will be great,” Pettersen said. “The ones on the top are probably going to move a little further away, but as long as I could close the gap a little bit, I'll be more than happy.”

 

Familiar territory: Last year, Karrie Webb entered the final round of the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup six shots back of second-round leader Angela Stanford but managed to shoot a final-round 66 to capture the tournament title.

Now Webb finds herself in a similar position as defending champion, entering the final round trailing the leaders by five shots. So does she think the experience from last year might be any assistance?

“The weather is supposed to be pretty bad tomorrow, so we'll see how that goes,” Webb said. “But you know, I think that sometimes works in your favor. You don't have to shoot really, really low sometimes when the weather is bad to make up a lot of ground.

“There are quite a few players in between me and the lead, so that's the only challenge. I think last year there weren’t that many people between me and the lead with the six shots difference. So you know, I've got my work cut out for me, but we'll see what happens.”

The LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member is seeking her 39th career victory this week. If Webb can win, it would mark the first time that she’s won an event in consecutive years since capturing the U.S. Women’s Open in 2000 and 2001.

 

Tweet of the Day: “Weather forecast says 100% chance of rain beginning 3 am. Sunday high 57. Wind 15 to 25 mph. Rainfall near 1/2 inch. @LPGA #founderscup” -- @ronsirak

 

YANI TSENG, Rolex Rankings No. 1

THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome another one of our co‑leaders, Yani Tseng into the interview room. Nice round out there today, 5‑under 67. Take me through the day and how pleased were you with how you were able to shoot out there today?
YANI TSENG: Actually I was a little disappointed out there today. And I played so good; I hit lots of good drives, and hit lots of good shots, and I missed like birdie three short putts, like two feet. One is like three feet, and last hole was like four, five feet.
So it always could be a better day today. I know it's a little wind out there, but I've been really patient, but after nine holes I think our time is a little back. So I mean the officials asked us to pick up a little bit, and I think myself in my mind just got a little too rushed, like 10 to 14 holes. I think otherwise I could be better today. Just a little disappointed with myself. I should still take time when I play, take the time with my swing instead of try to rush everything.
I mean I'm still in very good position, play with Ai and Na Yeon tomorrow. I'm very happy. We are good friends, so I'm very looking forward to tomorrow.

THE MODERATOR: You did get off to such a hot start, birdied the first three to get going. Did you think early on you had something pretty special going on today?
YANI TSENG: Yeah. Today when I go out there I feel like I can play really good today. I feel good about it because I mean Saturday and Sunday I always get more excited more than Thursday, so it was very cool.
And I think tomorrow ‑‑ today I did a pretty good job today and start pretty good, and kind of a little cool down on the back, but I still played great. I think my game is still there, and hopefully I can drop more putts tomorrow.

THE MODERATOR: I talked to Ai a little bit about how much you two enjoy playing with each other, and this is going back to Thailand when you both went into the final round playing against each other. What is it you enjoy so much about playing with Ai? You two have totally different styles of games. So what do you take from that?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, like I said, we're great friends and always appreciate to play with her. She's such a nice great people, great player and you can always learn something from her when you play with her.
And she always smiles when she plays. Doesn't matter. She hit a bad shots, it's like, oh, it's not a big deal. She always plays so well, and when you play with her, I mean we talk a lot. We just talk everything, not on the golf course, outside of golf course. And it's just so much fun to play with her.

Q. You said that you got behind and the officials asked you to pick up. Did someone have a bad hole or was just your pace slow?
YANI TSENG: No. We got two times ruling. I.K. on the front nine so that's why we were in a little back position, like 60 minutes or something, and we got warning on No. 10 and we tried to catch up in two holes, and we didn't. So then the next one, on the 12 hole we got timed. So when you get timed and you go over time, you get penalty. So in my mind I'm like I don't want to get penalty. Just tried to rush, and I kept telling myself to relax because I don't play slow.
The three of us, we don't play slow. We just got some couple rulings there and tried to catch up, but I mean I just too rushed in my mind and told my caddie to talk to me more and like asking more information and that's going to help me to think more.

Q. So that's what you would do in the future?
YANI TSENG: Yeah. I mean during the future I probably would just try not to think too much, still play one shot at a time and maybe just play faster at the beginning instead of trying to get some warning or get some timing later.

Q. It's this whole idea of being behind and knowing that you have the official there with the stop watch?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I know.

Q. How do you stay in the moment and hit your shots knowing that the meter is running back there?
YANI TSENG: Yeah. I'm lucky because I hit it a little further, so I can always get there first and just see the yardage, everything and get ready after they hit.
And if I have a closer to the pin or I have further to the pin and I just take a look at my mine first instead of waiting for them and take a look at my line.

THE MODERATOR: The weather conditions tomorrow are expected to be a little different. We're expecting some stronger winds, a little bit more rain. How much do you think that's going to change how this golf course plays, and could it affect ‑‑ could it bring more people into the mix a little bit do you think tomorrow?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I mean tomorrow ‑‑ if it's windy on this golf course, it's not easy. I mean the greens were pretty firm and the course is very narrow, so I mean it's very windy tomorrow, you just want to keep it on the fairway, be patient all day and play smart.
But I love the wind. Raining, it's okay, so it'll cool down a little bit, and I don't try to think much. There's water there, and we just want to try to play the best I can.

AI MIYAZATO, Rolex Rankings No. 9

THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome one of our current leaders, Ai Miyazato into the interview room. Congratulations on a great round today, 6‑under, 66. There was some wind out there a little bit today. Conditions were a little different than the last couple days, but can you take me through your round and what was working well for you.
AI MIYAZATO: Yes. Definitely it was more difficult than yesterday. The wind makes more greens firmer, and I did have a long distance because some holes was really down wind, but still, you know, difficult to make birdies out there, but I got really good patience, and my putting is really good so far, so I made some good putts towards the end. So that's why I think I shot 6‑under today.

THE MODERATOR: Six birdies, no bogeys. Pretty impressive go around there. Was it mostly just about trying not to make mistakes and when you got on a roll, feeling good about how you were playing?
AI MIYAZATO: No, I not really think that way. I'm just trying to take one shot at a time and not really think about the future and trying to stay in the present every time, and it seems like it worked.
So that's why I think I have one bogey so far, but still have tomorrow. So tomorrow is very important for me.

THE MODERATOR: You're tied at the top of the leaderboard with Yani. Not unfamiliar territory for you, I know. I think you led by a stroke heading into the final round in Thailand and you played her. How much of a challenge is it going into a final round when you're tied for the lead with her?
AI MIYAZATO: Yeah. It's always fun to play with her. I know her really well, and I think we like to play each other. I mean I like to play with Yani. I don't know about her, but you know, we are totally different types of player. But it's very inspiring to play with her, so I'm very excited to play with her tomorrow.

Q. Six birdies, no bogeys on a day like today is pretty good, and you attribute it to being patient. Can you tell us a little bit about how you learned to develop your patience over the years?
AI MIYAZATO: Well, it's not really easy to be patient, I think, because sometimes ‑‑

Q. That's why I'm asking.
AI MIYAZATO: I know. Sometimes you can be really emotional like really easy, like sometimes get really angry and sometimes really happy. But you know, just to try and accept everything about the results, and not really too excited about every single shot, you know.
So if I hit a green, then I am happy. If I hit fairways, I'm happy, trying to be happy. And that's why I think ‑‑ I mean so far I could control myself really well.

Q. How much different did the course play today because of the wind?
AI MIYAZATO: Well, I shot 6‑under, but it feels like I shot 10‑under today. That much of difficult, you know.
But yesterday I played in the morning, so green was a little bit softer than today. And the fairway was a little bit softer, too, but the greens speed and the fairways firmness was pretty much the same as yesterday afternoon. So just not really too much to think about the wind today. Just you know, pick a target every single shot and try and focus on target and my ball, and it seems to work.

THE MODERATOR: Ai, tomorrow the conditions are expected to be a little worse, rains predicted, the wind is supposed to pick up. Does that change your approach at all in how you enter the final round, and a lot of good players are up there at the top of the leaderboard? Could it get interesting tomorrow?
AI MIYAZATO: Well, I just have no idea, you know. It could be ‑‑ you need to make some birdies out there, but then could be you need to be really patient out there, too. But like I said, playing with Yani and probably Na Yeon, I think, it's going to be really fun day tomorrow. So just, you know, doesn't matter about the weather. Just trying to enjoy the last group and see what's going to happen.

Q. You said that one of the things that you were doing during your shots that you weren't thinking so much about the wind. How were you able to do that on such a windy day?
AI MIYAZATO: I grew up in the wind, because I'm from Okinawa in Japan, which is a small island. And it's really windy place, so that's why if it's getting windy, it makes me think about my hometown. So that's why I think in the wind ‑‑ when I play in the wind, it's really comfortable for me.

Q. Normal?
AI MIYAZATO: Not really normal, but it's ‑‑ it's not really ‑‑ how do I say? It's not really hard. I feel like much more fun in the play, playing in the wind.

 

SUZANN PETTERSEN, Rolex Rankings No. 3

Q. We're here with Suzann Pettersen. Congratulations on a great round today, 67. Did you come out today knowing that you had to kind of go low to put yourself right back in the tournament?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, you always have to go low with the ones on the top playing good.
You never know what tomorrow is going to bring. They say the weather is going to be quite challenging, so just trying to get somewhere close. A bit sour to finish with a bogey, but overall a very good day in pretty tough conditions.

Q. 18's been playing tough for a lot of people today. We've seen quite a few bogeys. Is that just kind of one of those things?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: No, it was just a bad swing with my driver. It's not that long of a hole if you just nail the driver, but it was one bad swing out of the 18 holes I played, so I can take it.

Q. Overall this week how have you been feeling about your game and I know yesterday wasn't quite the round that you wanted. Did it feel good to go out there and be able to shoot what you did today?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yesterday was ‑‑ I was just glad I could shoot under par. I felt like I had so many chances and left all the putts outside the hole, and came off the course, worked on my putting, and today at least I made a few. So a lot of birdies out there today and I'm just going to go out tomorrow and see what I can do.

Q. The weather conditions are expected to change drastically for tomorrow. Putting yourself a few strokes out of the lead, is it a pretty good position to be in knowing, it could be anybody's tournament tomorrow?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: That was my chance. When I went out and played a few holes, I thought if I could get to 10, it will be great. The ones on the top are probably going to move a little further away, but as long as I can close the gap a little bit, I'll be more than happy.

CRISTIE KERR, Rolex Rankings No. 4

Q. We're here with Cristie Kerr. Congratulations on a great round out there today, 6‑under par.
CRISTIE KERR: Thanks.

Q. Did you go into today with any notion of feeling like you had to shoot low, especially knowing where the leaders were at?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, it was a must. You know, to be able to get three or four back as of right now with some bad weather coming in tomorrow, it's not a bad position to be.
You know, it's going to be tough tomorrow with the rain and the cold and the wind, but I felt like I needed to have a low round to get back in there today.

Q. After yesterday you did look disappointed after your round. How were you feeling about your game heading into today and did you see a round like this coming for yourself?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, I did. I saw this kind of round out there for me. I was really frustrated yesterday, and I came out with a little more calm attitude today, and I got control of my mind, and I put it to good use.

Q. As you said, less than ideal conditions expected for tomorrow. What's the game plan going into tomorrow and knowing where you're at, a few shots back probably of the leaders heading into the final round?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, we'll have to see what the conditions are, but all the pressure is going to be on them and I'm going to go out and just try and golf my ball through the weather.

Q. How have you been feeling about your game heading into this week and have you been pretty pleased with how you've been able to play so far?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah. I've been progressing and working on my mental stuff, working on my game with my coach, Brian. Things are coming together. It felt really good today to have a good round and be able to be determined and go out there and do what I wanted to do.

Q. Just how much family do you have here with all the Team Kerr purple folks around?
CRISTIE KERR: I've never met those people, actually. I'm here with my husband, and we have really good friends that live here. The Carlottis and their kids. So a little bit.

Q. So you're used to this desert golf kind of thing? Do you think that helps you out living here?
CRISTIE KERR: I think so. I think it gives me a little bit of an advantage on the greens as far as kind of knowing the valley effect and kind of how to putt the greens.

Q. Tomorrow with the weather, do you think that'll go to your advantage, maybe that'll turn into a crap shoot?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, if I play like I did today tomorrow, I think it's going to be an advantage, but I have to take it one shot at a time.

KARRIE WEBB, Rolex Rankings No. 19

Q. First off, nice playing again today.
KARRIE WEBB: Thank you.

Q. Put yourself right up there, you're near the top of the leaderboard. Are you pleased with the spot you're in heading into Sunday?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah. I would have liked to have been a little bit closer to the lead. Had a very up‑and‑down Back 9. Had a couple of three‑putts today, which is disappointing. And you know, just up and down.
Looked really good sometimes and pretty average other times, so I felt like I could have been a couple shots better and that would have given me a better chance tomorrow.

Q. Looking back at last year you were six shots out of the lead, I think, coming into Sunday?
KARRIE WEBB: Oh, is that right?

Q. So you were able to come back from that. Does that give you anything heading into tomorrow's round knowing what you were able to do last year?
KARRIE WEBB: I think so. The weather is supposed to be pretty bad tomorrow, so we'll see how that goes.
But you know, I think that sometimes works in your favor. You don't have to shoot really, really low sometimes when it's ‑‑ when the weather is bad to make up a lot of ground.
There's quite a few players in between me and the lead, so that's the only challenge. I think last year there wasn't that many people between me and the lead with the six shots difference.
So you know, I've got my work cut out for me, but we'll see what happens.

Q. Knowing the weather conditions tomorrow, how much does that change things, like you said, where it kind of turns into almost anybody's tournament?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah. We haven't played this course being that cold, and if we get rain like they say, it'll just be a totally different golf course. It won't be quite as short, but the greens will be softer, so we'll have to see.

 

CAROLINE HEDWALL, Rolex Rankings No. 32

Q. All right. We're joined by Caroline Hedwall. Congratulations on a great round today; 67. Can you just take me through the day and what was working well for you?
CAROLINE HEDWALL: Well, I played really solid the first two days, and then today the putts started to roll in, so that helped a lot.
I made a good putt on No. 4, I think, and then an eagle on No. 5, and then I was just on a good roll.
Unfortunately I had two bogeys, but managed to shoot pretty low on the Back 9 as well, so it was nice.

Q. Is it ever disappointing when you're having that day? I mean you had so many birdies and then the eagle to kind of have those little stumbling block bogeys in there as well?
CAROLINE HEDWALL: Yeah. I shot 5‑under and I made three bogeys, so if I can just try to not make any bogeys tomorrow it will be good.

Q. But to be able to move up so far on the leaderboard heading into Sunday, feel pretty good about the position you've put yourself in?
CAROLINE HEDWALL: Oh, yeah, I do. I mean 8‑under is a good score coming into the last day, so hopefully I can have a good round tomorrow, too.

Q. I know the weather is supposed to change for tomorrow, and everybody's been talking about the conditions. Any keys ‑‑ did you feel like you kind of needed to go out there and shoot low today to kind of put yourself ‑‑
CAROLINE HEDWALL: Yeah. I'm kind of used to playing in bad weather, coming from Sweden. So I'm looking forward to the bad weather tomorrow. I think it's an advantage for me, so just bring it on.

Topics: LPGA Founders Cup, Notes and Interviews, Tseng, Yani, Miyazato, Ai, Pettersen, Suzann, Kerr, Cristie, Webb, Karrie, Hedwall, Caroline [+]

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