LPGA LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf
Ko Olina Golf Club
April 18, 2012
First-round notes and interviews
Beth Bader, -4, Rolex Rankings No. 401
Angela Stanford, -3, Rolex Rankings No. 14
Yani Tseng, -3, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Brittany Lang, -3, Rolex Rankings No. 38
Jiyai Shin, -3, Rolex Rankings No. 7
Weather Report: Temperatures in the low 80’s with winds at 20 mph gusting as high as 30 mph
The inaugural LPGA LOTTE (pronounced LOH-tay) Championship Presented by J Golf teed off on Wednesday at Ko Olina Golf Club outside Honolulu. A 144-player field is vying for a $1.7 million purse with $255,000 going to the winner. The tournament marks the LPGA’s return to Ko Olina for the first time since 2008 and ninth time overall. The four-round event will finish on Saturday.
Beth Bader holds a one-shot lead after 18 holes of play at the LPGA LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf. Playing in her first tournament of the 2012 season, the Iowan carded five birdies and a lone bogey on the ninth hole – her 18th – to shoot 4-under-par 68. Bader leads Yani Tseng, Jiyai Shin, Brittany Lang and Angela Stanford by one shot entering the second round of play at Ko Olina Golf Club on Oahu.
Meet The LOTTE Leaders…
Beth Bader (-4): The 38-year-old is an 11-year member of the LPGA Tour with a career-best tie for fourth at the 2007 LPGA Corning Classic. She has five top-10 finishes in her career, the last one coming in 2009. Bader is playing in her first event of the season this week.
Angela Stanford (-3): The Texan has a soft spot for Hawaiian golf tournaments having won the 2009 SBS Open at Turtle Bay. With five wins and nearly $6.8 million in earnings in her 12-year career, the 34-year-old ranks as one of the most consistent American players. She is a four-time member of the U.S. Solheim Cup Team and one of four players to win in 2012 (HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore)
Yani Tseng (-3): Tseng has three victories in six starts this season and 15 worldwide victories in the last 15 months. The 23-year-old is the youngest player – male or female – to win five major championships and the second youngest player to win 15 tournaments on the LPGA behind only Nancy Lopez. Tseng’s growing list of accolades includes the 2010 and 2011 Rolex Player of the Year awards, the 2011 Golf Writers Association of America Female Player of the Year, the 2011 U.S. Sports Academy Player of the Year and the 2012 Time 100, announced yesterday.
Brittany Lang (-3): A two-time member of the U.S. Solheim Cup Team (2009, 2011), Lang is considered to be one of the best players on the LPGA Tour without a victory. The 26-year-old Texan has five second-place finishes in her career including the 2011 RICOH Women’s British Open where she was runner-up to Yani Tseng.
Jiyai Shin (-3): An eight-time winner on the LPGA Tour, Shin was the 2009 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year and held the top spot on the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings for 16 weeks in 2010. The 23-year-old had a prolific career on the Korea LPGA (KLPGA) before joining the LPGA and has already qualified for the KLPGA’s Hall of Fame.
Tseng is on the hunt for her 16th career LPGA victory and fourth of the LPGA Tour this season following a 69 on Wednesday. Through six events, Tseng has finished no worse than a tie for eighth this year. The world No. 1 carded five birdies and two bogies to shoot 3-under-par 69 in windy conditions at Ko Olina Golf Club today. Tseng birdied holes seven, eight and nine to get to 4-under-par at the turn before carded consecutive bogies at 10 and 11. She rebounded with a birdie at 13. Tseng is seeking her fourth Tour victory
Brittany Lang has the physical tools to win, but says her mental game needs work. Asked today why she thinks she has yet to win on Tour, she said, “I need to get strong mentally and I need to build my confidence. I have a lot of good physical talent, but I was never groomed mentally growing up. I've done a lot work on it, and I just think I have a little ways to go to be good under pressure. Some people are just good under pressure. That's not how I was, so I'm working hard to get there. It'll happen. It's just going to take time.”
Of note… Amateur sponsor exemption Hyo Joo Kim fired a 1-under-par 71 on Wednesday in her first-ever LPGA tournament. The 17-year-old won the LOTTE Mart Ladies Open last week on the Korea LPGA (KLPGA)… Kraft Nabisco champion Sun Young Yoo shot 2-under-par 70…
Tweet of the Day: From @RandallMellGC: "Lotte" too busy planning defeat of US Sol Cup team RT @khhgeneral: Is Liselotte Neumann playing in the Lotte Championship? If not, why not?
Beth Bader, -4
Q. So 4‑under par leading the golf tournament. How does that feel?
BETH BADER: Yeah, it feels good. Been a while since I've been here. Been a while since I actually tee'd up in an event. But it's good. I practiced hard. I played some Grasshopper Tour events in Phoenix to get ready and keep going. So it was nice to be able to transition back into target golf, because I haven't done that for a while. So I'm very pleased.
Q. Talk about your round today. What went right for you?
BETH BADER: Yeah, I drove the ball pretty good. It was obviously pretty windy getting going. Made some nice up and downs the first few holes. Yeah, the first three holes made some good up and downs. Then I got comfortable and made some pretty good swings with my driver, which left me some shorter irons in. Then made some pretty good putts today, too.
Q. Take me through obviously the last few years you haven't played that many events. What's kept you busy and away from the LPGA?
BETH BADER: Well, nothing. I mean, I want to be out here. I had some back issues that kind of hindered me a little bit. Trying to go through a couple swing changes because of my back. But, boy, yeah, I mean, I wish I could have played more events than I did. You got to grind through it, and hopefully it'll be a little different this year.
Angela Stanford, -3
Q. So 3‑under. Obviously a tough bogey at the last there. Just take us through your day and how you feel you played.
ANGELA STANFORD: Thought I got away with one today. My putter bailed me out quite a bit, so to be upset about that last bogey, wasn't the putter's fault. So hit it close on some of the par‑5s on the back nine and got off to a good start. Just really kept myself out of big trouble today. You know, I hit some errant shots, but I think I missed it in the right spots.
Q. It's kind of cliche to always say whenever it's windy Texans will play well. Do you think that is an advantage for you?
ANGELA STANFORD: I don't think anybody likes the wind. Just because I know what to expect when it's windy. I think my mindset changes when it's windy just because I grew up in it. It doesn't mean I like it; it just means I know what to expect?
Q. You got a win earlier this year. Just talk about what that did for you. Did it change your goals this season? Did it improve your confidence?
ANGELA STANFORD: I think any time you win it helps your confidence. My goal's stayed about the same. I think everybody wants to win. I want to win a major. Didn't change a whole lot, but good to get one under the belt early in the year.
Q. Last time you were here you won. Does that have anything to do with this score today?
ANGELA STANFORD: I think a little bit.
ANGELA STANFORD: Yeah, flying over, you know, all those positive memories came flooding a back. I love Hawaii. I love being here. I love just the atmosphere, the people. It is always windy usually, so I'm just comfortable. I enjoy it here.
Q. Director of golf said he feels like par today is like 75 or something. Where would you put it with these conditions?
ANGELA STANFORD: That's a good number. I think it was blowing a little bit harder than it has all week. The direction was pretty similar, but, you know, I just think when you get downwind, it's hard to hold some of those greens. There are just so many factors. I would agree that's probably a good par number.
Yani Tseng, -3
Q. So 3‑under par right now; tied for the lead. Just talk about how you played today.
YANI TSENG: I finished up pretty solid. I hit it in the water on No. 10, so made bogey there. I made another bogey on No. 11 hole, kind of a short hole. But overall I stay patient and I make lots of good putts. I still miss some, but I hung in there. It's only first day of the tournament, so I'm pretty happy today. Still on the leaderboard, still can see my name up there, so very happy.
Q. You had three straight birdies, you turned at 4‑under, and then you had two bogeys. What were you thinking about after that?
YANI TSENG: Yeah. I think ‑‑ I wasn't think about much. I was just thinking I don't want to make another bogey on the next hole, you know. So on No. 12 I had a tough ‑‑ I make 12‑footer for par, so I think that's a big turning point for today. If I make another bogey, I don't know what's going to happen. But I save par there and make birdie next hole, so it's a good turn for me.
Q. 18 you had the chance to take the lead by yourself. Just talk about that putt. Did you misread it or misshit it?
YANI TSENG: I misread it. Thought it was going to break to the right but it broke to the left. Just totally misread. But it's okay. It's only first day. One shot doesn't make any difference. If you finish on Sunday maybe it will makes difference.
Q. You're pretty used to being in this position here at the top of the leaderboard. We've talked about this before, but do you think it affects people seeing your name up there knowing you've won three of the first six events and had six top 10 finishes so far this year? People see that tonight and...
YANI TSENG: I don't know. Actually I was asking some people or asking my coach if they really feel that way. They say yes, a lot of people will feel that way. I wasn't think about much. After Kraft I learn something, and I feel I'm more comfortable and more relaxed to be on top.
Brittany Lang, -3
MODERATOR: Brittany Lang, thanks for coming in. 3‑under par 69 today. You're tied for the lead at the Lotte Championship. On the way over, you talked about your round and said it was pretty straightforward, some solid shots. Just take us through it a little bit and also talk about that wind out there.
BRITTANY LANG: Yeah, the wind is crazy today. I actually put a new putter in my bag, that TaylorMade putter. The first tournament round I've had with it, and I really like it a lot.
But, yeah, that wind is crazy. I hit the ball fantastic. When you hit pure, solid shots, the wind does not affect it as much. I hit the ball really solid and gave myself a lot of chances and I putted really well with my new putter.
MODERATOR: Can you just take us through your birdies today, what you hit.
BRITTANY LANG: Yeah. My first birdie ‑‑ I started on 10 ‑‑ was 13, the par‑5. I hit like a low 50‑yard shot. I hit two unbelievable shots to get up there. I hit like a low 50‑yard shot and made like a seven‑footer.
Then I birdied 15. I hit just like a little pitch. It was like a little 35‑yard pitch and made like a three‑footer.
Then I bogeyed 18. I hit it right and didn't get up‑and‑down. Bogeyed 18.
Birdied 1 right back. What did I hit in there? Oh, just like a little 55‑yard lob wedge in there to like two, three, feet and made that.
My other birdie was on 3. I hit a knock‑down pitching wedge and I made about a 20‑footer.
Then I bogeyed ‑‑ you want to know the bogeys?
BRITTANY LANG: I bogeyed that par‑5. Was that 6 or 5? I bogeyed that. 5?
BRITTANY LANG: That was kind of careless. And then I birdied 8. That was a really good birdie. Hit a 9‑iron in there to four feet and made that. That was really good.
Q. Does this wind remind you of Texas?
BRITTANY LANG: Probably. This is a calm day where I'm from. It doesn't mean you're gonna shoot good, but we have a lot of practice in it.
Q. Speaking of Texas, you've just moved back to Texas; you're at home. Talk about what it's like going back home.
BRITTANY LANG: Yeah, I'm extremely happy. I've been away for a while and I missed it. I'm really close to my family, so I'm just really happy to be back with my friends and family.
Q. (No microphone.)
BRITTANY LANG: Yeah, yeah, McKinney, Texas where I'm from.
Q. (No microphone.)
BRITTANY LANG: Yeah, it's extremely windy there most every day.
Q. (No microphone.)
BRITTANY LANG: Yeah, I played well here my first year out on tour. I had a pretty good finish when we came here. Yeah, it's a good course for me. I think it's good for long hitters because you have wedges all day.
Even in this wind, if you hit long, straight tee shots you have wedges all day, so you're going to have a lot of chances for birdie.
Q. Are you surprised there aren’t more birdies on the par-5’s?
BRITTANY LANG: Well, the one par‑5, I mean, they're tough. They're dead into the wind. You're hitting these little wedge shots dead into the wind, and you can't get there because they moved 'em back.
And then the 1 is downwind. That's an easy hole. I don't know why nobody is tearing that one up. They're tough holes into that breeze. Really tough.
Q. Do you think about winning when you get off to a good start?
BRITTANY LANG: Yeah. I mean, of course you're going to think that, but I'm really not ‑‑ I'm just ‑‑ I'm really not thinking about that right now.
Yes it enters your mind, but I'm just happy shooting 3‑under in that wind; put myself in a good position, so...
Q. Did it enter your mind today?
BRITTANY LANG: Me personally, no, not on a Thursday. I didn't. Some people might, but I did not.
MODERATOR: It's Wednesday.
BRITTANY LANG: Or whatever. The first day of a tournament, yeah. Sorry.
Q. But you think about it a lot?
BRITTANY LANG: Well, yeah, of course. You know, I keep telling myself that it'll happen, it'll happen. I've almost stopped thinking about it and I'm just trying to have fun and work on my game.
I work so hard and I just beat myself up when I don't get that win, so I'm just trying to enjoy to enjoy it a little bit more.
Q. Do you talk about it with friends and family or only when media asks you?
BRITTANY LANG: Um, not really. I mean, my friends and family, we don't talk a whole lot of golf, but I hear it all the time when I come to tournaments from pro‑am people or ‑‑ which is natural. You know, a good player who hasn't won, it's natural to talk about it.
Q. Do you know how many tournaments you’ve played?
BRITTANY LANG: How many total? I do not. Do you?
Q. (No microphone.)
BRITTANY LANG: A lot. A lot of tournaments. This is my seventh year on tour, so I should have won by now.
Q. What do you need to change?
BRITTANY LANG: I'm not that strong mentally. I need to get strong mentally and I need to build my confidence. I have a lot of good physical talent, but I was never groomed mentally growing up.
I've done a lot work on it, and I just think I have a little ways to go to be good under pressure. Some people are just good under pressure. That's not how I was, so I'm working hard to get there. It'll happen. It's just going to take time.
Q. Have you worked on the mental side?
BRITTANY LANG: I worked with a lot of sports psychologists just trying to focus on what you're doing and being in each shot, seeing your shot so that you're not over the ball thinking, Oh, I hope I don't lose this tournament.
Just basic things I never did growing up. It's been really good for me.
Q. I heard no one from Duke has ever won on the LPGA.
BRITTANY LANG: That's correct. I know. We must not be very clutch. Maybe I'll be the first Dukie to win.
BRITTANY LANG: That's good motivation. What's that? Yeah, they can. We can't win tournaments, but they can win basketball games.
Jiyai Shin, -3
JIYAI SHIN: When I came to in here, when I practice it was so windy, so I mostly practice with short game, with the chipping and putting. So my putting speed and control was all good.
I made just one bogey. Actually this morning my goal was even, because pretty tough course and then wind makes so difficult.
But my simple, yeah, was good.
MODERATOR: Talk about your decision to go blonde. Why did you decided to do that?
JIYAI SHIN: Blonde is more fun. (Laughing.)
Q. How long have you had it blonde?
JIYAI SHIN: Almost two months.
Q. Before that it wasn't black, was it?
JIYAI SHIN: Yes.
Q. There was another color in there somewhere, wasn't there, or a streak?
JIYAI SHIN: Well, I tried like dark red or brown, but, yeah, not that much.
Yeah, it's change that looks big different. So many Asian playing on the LPGA, so I just try to look more special. (Laughter.)
MODERATOR: Well, it's working. Can you talk about how you feel you've been playing this year.
JIYAI SHIN: I think it's coming really good, because I finished three times in top 10 and two times finish in top 5. So I think last year I didn't win, but it feels like it's coming soon.
So my shot and all the golf skill are good at the moment, so I think it's good chance it's coming.
Q. You talk about playing simple. How do you do that when the wind is 25 or 30 miles an hour?
JIYAI SHIN: Well, my strength is accuracy. I miss a couple times the fairway, but mostly I ‑‑ well, this course is pretty wide, but we need that more small point for the next shot. Because a lot of hole is dogleg hole, like right to the left or left to the right, so we need to keep focus on the right of the fairway or left side of the fairway.
It worked pretty good today, so make simple course maintenance.
MODERATOR: For a while it was you, it was Cristie, Suzann, Yani all battling for No. 1. Yani has kind of started to dominate. How did you see Yani right now, and is it making you try to train harder?
JIYAI SHIN: Well, (indiscernible) couple times this year, and then when I see her, on the face she has a lot of the confidence. In the swing, too.
And then she have a great feeling, like good control about the ball. Yeah, a lot of ‑‑ we know how she's strong at the moment, but we also training so hard. So I think we get more inspired from her.
Q. You talk about your game being better. Do you feel like you're playing as well as you were when you were winning tournaments on a pretty regular basis?
JIYAI SHIN: I think so. I think so, yeah. Actually, I think more better than when I won on the LPGA. I play better.
But golf mostly psychology is very important. So last year I lost a lot of my confidence. Then before when I hit a ball, I always get worried, like afraid for the shot.
But it's almost recovered at the moment, back to the confidence. So I think I really enjoy the play now.
MODERATOR: You said in the off‑season you worked on tying to walk more confidently on the golf course. How is that working out?
JIYAI SHIN: Well, first, it feels like, I don't know, my body ‑‑ I lost some weight, about few pounds, like six, seven pounds, so I feel really comfortable and then just like really light when I walk. So that might help.
And also, I try to open my chest and then walk with like confidence. It make help, because when I made a miss‑shot, I still tried to get confidence by myself. So it's help a lot.