2012 Mobile Bay LPGA Classic
Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Magnolia Grove, Crossings Course
April 28, 2012
Third-round notes and interviews
Stacy Lewis, -14, Rolex Rankings No. 9
Brittany Lincicome -12, Rolex Rankings No. 12
Karine Icher -11, Rolex Rankings No. 109
Karrie Webb -9, Rolex Rankings No. 20
Lexi Thompson -9, Rolex Rankings No. 38
Rolex Rankings No. 9 Stacy Lewis will try to capture her second career LPGA Tour victory as she enters the final round of the 2012 Mobile Bay LPGA Classic on Sunday with a two-shot lead. Lewis fired a 5-under 67 for the second straight day on the Crossings Course at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail's Magnolia Grove to move to 14-under-parfor the tournament. She leads by two over her good friend and Rolex Rankings No. 12 Brittany Lincicome.
There are a number of other players bunched up at the top of the leaderboard heading into Sunday's final round in Mobile. New mom Karine Icher sits three shots back at 11-under-par while Kraft Nabisco champion Sun Young Yoo and Lindsey Wright are four back at 10-under.
Birdie Train…Looking to secure her first LPGA Tour victory since the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship, Stacy Lewis heads into tomorrow's final round with a two-stroke lead over close friend Brittany Lincicome.
Lewis notched two bogeys and seven birdies on Saturday to shoot her second consecutive round of 5-under par 67. After playing impatiently on the front nine, Lewis got things going on the back where she recorded five birdies including three coming on her last four holes.
"I actually felt really good warming up, and I got on the front and I think I was just really impatient and kind of tried to force things, tried to force some putts in and my speed wasn't very good," said Lewis. "I made the turn, and on 12 I was in the fairway bunker and hit a really good shot to about eight feet, and I don't know, that just seemed to really calm me down. I made birdie there and it just calmed me down and I hit some really great shots coming in, and then to two putt the way I did on 18 was just an added bonus, I guess."
Lewis missed her first cut of the 2012 season at last week's LPGA LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf but has rebounded this week to put herself in contention heading into Sunday.
"My goal every week is just to get myself in contention for Sunday and give myself a chance to win, and I did that," Lewis said. "So now I'm going to go out there and have fun tomorrow. But it would certainly mean a lot to win and just kind of prove to people that that major meant something."
Friendly rivalry: Lincicome and Lewis are good friends who spend quite a bit of time together and often share housing while out on Tour. So the two didn't hide their enthusiasm about being paired together in the final round of the 2012 Mobile Bay LPGA Classic.
"It's going to be very exciting," Lincicome said. "It's fun to play with a friend because it kind of relaxes both of us. So going into it, we'll still be chit‑chatting like we always do and just play tomorrow's round as if it were just a practice round on Tuesday and not hopefully be overly stressed or take it too serious and just go out there and have a good time."
The two players took part in one of the week's many off-the course events. On Monday night at the Mobile BayBears game, which is the Double-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Lincicome threw out the first pitch at the game and Lewis was the catcher. The two players also took part in running the bases with the BayBears' mascot, Teddy, and they took part in a target practice game of throwing baseballs through a glass hoop.
Lewis wasn't afraid to chide Lincicome on Twitter over the pitch, which bounced in the dirt in front of Lewis. So will the two have any sort of trash talking about that going on during Sunday's final round?
"I love giving her a hard time about the first pitch, but we're going to practice for next time and we'll get better," Lewis said. "We did figure out afterwards, when we actually got to throw the ball around a little bit, she goes, 'You throw a lot better than I do.' So I'm definitely throwing next time."
Adding mom to her resume: The 2011 season was a shorter one than normal for France native Karine Icher. The 33-year-old gave birth to her first child, daughter Lola, last August. So this year has meant getting back on the golf course with some significant life changes for both her and her husband, who is also her caddy.
"It's wonderful," Icher said of being a mom. "She's cute, she's a good traveler, so we're lucky. But she is teething right now, so it's a little bit hard to sleep. For sure it's very nice to be mom and dad on Tour."
Icher will be paired in Sunday's final group with Stacy Lewis and Brittany Lincicome, sitting three shots off the lead. The 10-year LPGA Tour veteran is still seeking her first career victory. She recorded her career-best runner-up finish at the 2005 Corona Morelia Championship.
"I'm struggling a little bit from the beginning of the year because I had a baby last year and it's hard to travel with her and get organized and everything," Icher said of her game. "So to be here, it's fantastic for me, give me more and more confidence. And we'll see tomorrow. I'm going to try to play my game and shot after shot and we'll see."
Moving Day! There have been lots of low rounds shot over the first three days of the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic including Karin Sjodin's 64 on Friday which tied the tournament record. But Saturday it was Hall of Famer Karrie Webb's turn to tie the tournament record with an 8-under 64.
Webb joked that if anyone had seen her play on Thursday or Friday, they would not have expected to see her deliver this type of round. She tallied eight birdies in her bogey-free round, which included birdies on five of her first seven holes on the day. The round moved her from a T56 into a T6 at 9-under-par.
"I just wanted to go out there and ‑‑ I think actually, and this is the game's so silly sometimes, but I made birdie on 10, then I made about a six‑footer for par on 11," Webb said. "And what I've been doing of late when I make that birdie is I'll miss that par putt, so I don't have that continuing positive momentum. So I made that putt, and with that, then I went on to make two more birdies on the next two holes. So I really feel like that was totally the key to my round today."
Another shot: Last year Lexi Thompson entered the final round in Mobile tied for the lead at 7-under-par with Song-Hee Kim. It didn't turn out exactly how Thompson would have hoped as she shot a final-round 6-over 78 to finish in a T19.
Thompson went on to capture her first LPGA victory at another Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail course last September at the Navistar LPGA Classic. And the now 17-year-old has talked about the lessons that she gained from the experience on the Crossings Course at Magnolia Grove last year. But Thompson will have another opportunity to be in the hunt in Mobile as she sits five shots back of Lewis heading into Sunday.
"The way I played last year [on Sunday] will help me out with this year," Thompson said. "Just go out and just free swing and take everything really slow, do my routine on every shot and just focus on that"
Thompson spent Friday night at the University of South Alabama baseball game since she knows one of the guys on the team. Her plan was to catch another game on Saturday. Perhaps she found a good formula for success?
"It was a lot of fun," Thompson said of the game. "It just got my mind off golf and it was just really relaxing."
Welcome to Sybase…One of the remaining spots in the field for the Sybase Match Play event in Gladstone, New Jersey on May 17-20 has already been locked up this week. Lindsey Wright, who was not already qualified for the event, secured one spot in the field as she sits at 10-under-par. The other spot will be determined after Sunday's final round since So Yeon Ryu and Sydnee Michaels are tied at 8-under par. The tie-breaker will be their score in the fourth round.
Tweet of the Day: "Happy Birthday to our 2008 champion, Jiyai Shin!" -- @RICOHWomensBrit
Of Note…Defending champion Maria Hjorth shot a 4-over 76 in Saturday's third round and now sits in a T74 at 3-over-par…Natalie Gulbis fired a 4-under 68 on Saturday and sits in a T6 at 9-under-par. Gulbis already has one top-10 finish this year, a T8 at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
MODERATOR: All right. We'd like to welcome our current leader, Stacy Lewis, into the interview room. Congratulations, a great round and a great finish for you. I think it was five birdies in the last seven holes? Finished 5‑under 67 for the second straight day. Can you take me through the round today, especially that back nine, what was going on to kind of get on that roll?
STACY LEWIS: Well, I actually ‑‑ I felt really good warming up, and I got on the front and I think I was just really impatient and kind of tried to force things, tried to force some putts in and my speed wasn't very good. And I made the turn, and on 12 I was in the fairway bunker and hit a really good shot to about eight feet, and I don't know, that just seemed to really calm me down. I made birdie there and it just calmed me down and I hit some really great shots coming in, and then to two putt the way I did on 18 was just an added bonus, I guess.
MODERATOR: When you look at how things were going on the back nine, or before you got to the back nine, you know how low the scores have been going, did you really feel like you had to get something going to put yourself into position heading into tomorrow?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I think after I made the turn and I thought if I could shoot 3 or 4 under, I would still be in the golf tournament. And I knew if I shot even par, I would be pretty far out of it. So I needed to get something going, but didn't really want to force it. I don't know, just something clicked. I slowed ‑‑ everything seemed to slow down. My caddy told me I just seemed to relax more, just had a lot of fun coming in. I'm looking forward to tomorrow, playing with Brittany will be fun.
MODERATOR: I was talking to Brittany about that. You two are very good friends and we know how often you guys room together sometimes on the road, you spend a lot of time together. How different does that make it when you head into a final round with the two of you both seeking a title?
STACY LEWIS: I don't know. I mean, we play together a lot so we know each other's games. I think it will help both of us, really. We'll both just have that added comfort level of just having somebody to talk to and we'll try to just keep each other relaxed, and hopefully we'll have a pretty close tournament coming to the end.
MODERATOR: Will you guys talk at all about that first pitch? Will you bring it up again to her?
STACY LEWIS: I love giving her a hard time about the first pitch, but we're going to practice for next time and we'll get better.
MODERATOR: She said that next time you're going to be throwing it out, that she's going to catch.
STACY LEWIS: Right. We did figure out afterwards, when we actually got to throw the ball around a little bit, she goes, You throw a lot better than I do. So I'm definitely throwing next time.
Q. Just talk about that run of birdies that you had. What happened there? Did you get real comfortable and things started to happen?
STACY LEWIS: Well, it started with the fairway bunker shot. More than anything, I think, in that stretch I got on the correct side of the hole where I had uphill putts. I just really felt the first 10, 11 holes, I had these sidehill breakers that were breaking five and six feet, and you're not going to make those.
So I told my caddy, I was like, we just have to get on the right side of the hole, have putts up the hill, and I think pretty much all my birdies coming in were uphill putts. I think that's really the key because this golf course, your stats can kind of lie a little bit. It's saying you hit 16 greens, but if you're not in the right section, you can three‑putt in a heartbeat. So I think it was just playing a little bit smarter and more relaxed.
MODERATOR: You've already captured your first victory on the LPGA Tour, but what would this one mean for you now that you've gotten all the nerves out of the way? I guess there's still nerves all the time, but what would it mean for you to be able to win here in Alabama?
STACY LEWIS: Well, anytime you win whatever, whether it's a pro event, an amateur event, whatever, a win is a win and it's a really great feeling. My goal every week is just to get myself in contention for Sunday and give myself a chance to win, and I did that, so now I'm going to go out there and have fun tomorrow. But it would certainly mean a lot to win and just kind of prove to people that that major meant something.
MODERATOR: And as an Arkansas alum, would it mean a little bit more to win in Alabama?
STACY LEWIS: I don't know. It's fun being here, I get a lot of Go Hogs and things like that. We're in SEC country, so I'm pretty comfortable here.
Q. You said yesterday that you were at the point maybe after the Kraft Nabisco that you don't get freaked out when you look at the leaderboard and you're up there. Did it happen so quick today that all of a sudden (inaudible)?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. Actually, that's the first time I've looked at it in the last probably three or four holes. I saw when we went to ‑‑ when I went to 13, I just made birdie and I was two back, I believe, at the time, and that was the first time I had really looked at a leaderboard all day and I knew I needed to kind of get something going.
Then, from there in, I honestly didn't look at the leaderboard and I was just ‑‑ I don't know, you kind of get in a zone where shots are good, they're going where you want them to go and all the putts go in.
MODERATOR: All right. We'd like to welcome Brittany Lincicome into the interview room. Congratulations, a great round, 5‑under 67 today puts you right up near the top of the leaderboard, currently sitting two shots back of your good friend Stacy Lewis. Can you take me through your round today and what was working well for you out there?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: Obviously I was hitting a lot of fairways, which helps. Hitting it really far right now and this is a long hitter's golf course, so even as long as it is, I still seemed to have a lot of wedges in my hand. So today with my wedge play, they were inside three feet all day and kind of tap‑ins. Obviously they didn't feel like tap‑ins when you have to make a three‑footer, but I felt like I was ‑‑ my wedge game was really, really good today, and my putting, obviously to make those putts, was working very well.
MODERATOR: As I mentioned, you and Stacy are pretty good friends. What is it like thinking about the fact that you guys are probably going to be playing in the final round together tomorrow.
BRITTANY LINCICOME: It's going to be very exciting. It's fun to play with a friend because it kind of relaxes both of us. So going into it, we'll still be chit‑chatting like we always do and just play tomorrow's round as if it were just a practice round on Tuesday and not hopefully be overly stressed or take it too serious and just go out there and have a good time.
MODERATOR: I know earlier in the week you guys got to take part in the first pitch at the Mobile Bears game and she gave you a little bit of flack on Twitter ‑‑
BRITTANY LINCICOME: I know.
MODERATOR: ‑‑ for the fact that your pitch bounced in the dirt. Did you get back at her a little?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: I did. You know, next time obviously now knowing that, A, she wasn't going to even try to catch it if it was anywhere in the dirt, near the dirt, because it was going to hit her in the face or what have you. Next time I'm going to catch it and she can pitch it because at least I would have tried to ‑‑ she didn't even try to catch it. She made me look so bad. But obviously it was really fun. I felt like we were on the field more than the players were. We were there for the pitch, we were there in the first inning running the bases and we did ball tossing, and I felt like we were on the field the whole entire game. But it was really exciting. We had dinner last night, our small group that's been meeting on Fridays. We had dinner at Outback last night with everybody and it's just been a great week.
MODERATOR: By the way, I noticed today that you were doing some Sudoku while you were waiting?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: I was, yeah.
MODERATOR: Is this a new trend? Is this something that you do while waiting on the tee?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: Yes and no. My Vision 54 ladies got me to do Sudoku and, like, hangman games for the Kraft Nabisco. So if you're on a par 3 or you have like a long wait, it's just something to kind of take my mind off of playing golf.
And this one, Adam ‑‑ one of the other caddies out there ‑‑ thank God, helped me with because I seriously have been doing it since Hawaii. I got started in Hawaii and I couldn't figure it out, and he finally helped me. So I got it done today. But yeah, it's nice, you know. Luckily we didn't have to wait too much out there today, but usually if you get to a par 3 you have to wait a little bit, so it's just something to kind of take my mind off of golf.
Q. Can you just talk about the round today? You started strong and just kept going. Is there something about today just worked well?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: No, I think it's just this golf course, I seem to always play well here. It's a combination, I think, of everything. Obviously the golf course being a long‑hitters golf course, and a lot of the holes kind of go right to left, which works perfectly for my ball flight. Every tee shot fits perfectly to my eye. I stand up there and I can swing as hard as I possibly can, and I knew where it's going all week, which is nice. The food here in Mobile is fantastic. I cannot wait to go to Mellow Mushroom after we get done talking. Obviously going to the baseball game, and I have a lot of family that comes in town from Atlanta and other parts of the world, so it's just a fun week. It's very relaxed. I have a good friend here with me as well who's been helping me a little bit with my swing. So it's a fun week. It's a week I look forward to every year on the schedule.
MODERATOR: I know you're coming off a year with two victories. What would it mean for you to be able to capture another victory early this year? I know you had a chance early in the year in Australia, but what would it mean to be able to capture that first victory of the season?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: That would be amazing. The first ‑‑ the playoff in Australia felt surreal, you know. It's the first tournament of the year and I'm tied for the lead and I didn't know what to do with myself. It was a very strange feeling, and obviously playing with six people, that was kind of crazy. It's nice to be playing well. I mean, golf, you never know if you're going to keep your card one year, if you're going to win ever again, and it's just very up‑and‑down emotions out here on Tour, so it's nice to be in contention again, it's nice to be in this media room and talking with you guys.
MODERATOR: We're here with Karine Icher in the interview room. Congratulations, a great round of 68 today. Can you take me through the day and what was working well for you out there on the golf course?
KARINE ICHER: My first nine hole was okay. I had good shots, but I had a bogey on No. 2 and then a birdie on No. 4, and then all the par. So I was very trained to hit shots after shots. And then I had a good shot on 13. I had a wedge in the hole, so give me like good energy. It was just after a birdie, so it was a nice couple holes here. My game was good today, good putting, it's hard green to read and fast greens, so I'm pretty happy with my game.
MODERATOR: We've seen quite a few low scores out here on this golf course and it seems to be playing well. How do you feel ‑‑ your position where you're at right now heading into the final day, how good do you feel about where you're sitting right now?
KARINE ICHER: I'm very happy. I'm struggling a little bit from the beginning of the year because I had a baby last year and it's hard to travel with her and get organized and everything. So to be here, it's fantastic for me, give me more and more confidence. And we'll see tomorrow. I'm going to try to play my game and shot after shot and we'll see.
MODERATOR: I was going to say, you had a shortened year last year with giving birth in August. How exciting has it been to become a mom?
KARINE ICHER: It's wonderful. I mean, (inaudible) forever. She's cute, she's a good traveler, so we're lucky. But she is sleeping right now, so it's a little bit hard to sleep. For sure it's very nice to be mom and dad on Tour.
MODERATOR: How different has that been for you learning how to balance that, because that's what everybody always says, kind of that toughness of not just being a golfer all the time but having to be mom and golfer at the same time when you're out.
KARINE ICHER: Yeah, I had to learn to switch from player to a mom, like player to a wife because my husband caddy for me, so it's even harder when we go back home to not talking golf any more and we're just parents and change diapers and feeding the baby, give a bath. Things natural, but once again, you have to be very, very well organized.
MODERATOR: All right. We're here with Karrie Webb. Congratulations, a great round today, 8‑under par 64 ties the tournament record. When you have a day like that, bogey‑free round, when you kind of get a sense that you could have a special round like this going?
KARRIE WEBB: I probably didn't really ‑‑ I got off to a great start and it probably wasn't until I birdied 16, because I teed off 10, I was 5‑under through 7. Not trying to get too far ahead of myself, but I had gotten off to a great start and try and make something of the round.
MODERATOR: Heading into today, did you have a number in mind of what you had to shoot to kind of get back up towards the top of the leaderboard, or do you just try to approach it as try to go as low as you can on Saturday?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, I don't really ever set any numbers. If you'd seen me play the last two days, you wouldn't have thought I had a 64 in me. So I just wanted to go out there and ‑‑ I think actually, and this is the game's so silly sometimes, but I made birdie on 10, then I made about a six‑footer for par on 11. And what I've been doing of late when I make that birdie is I'll miss that par putt, so I don't have that continuing positive momentum. So I made that putt, and with that, then I went on to make two more birdies on the next two holes. So I really feel like that was totally the key to my round today.
MODERATOR: We talked a lot about the swing changes that you made in the off season, what you've been working on. You're coming off back‑to‑back tournaments finishing in the Top 15.
Do you feel these changes starting to take place and that you're starting to get some momentum and it's feeling like your game is where you want it to be?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, today was a great step in that direction. On the range, it's very good. On the course, it's been a little bit hot and cold, so I'm not trusting it. But a couple of keys out there today maybe me feel a little bit more comfortable on the course and I don't think I ‑‑ I don't think I missed the fairway today and I missed three greens, and two of those I putted, so I really only missed one green.
Q. When you see the leaderboard with so many players still in contention, what's the move going into the final day? What's that like?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah. Well, I hadn't even seen what's leading, but I saw the page scroll with my name on it and I was tied for fourth and they were bringing me in the media center, and I said, By the end of the day I'll probably be outside the Top 10. So it's nice that I actually got to step in here, though, in contention, so we'll see how it finishes. You know, obviously I put myself in there for a chance tomorrow.
Q. You played so well here in the past. How much has that helped when things start clicking, how much has that helped to have that familiarity around here?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, I've played here since '99, I think we said the other day. But, you know, the course made the change, they redid the greens three or four years ago, and I actually think they did a great job because they still kept the character of the greens but softened them somewhat to make them still tricky, but to play ‑‑ you know, I really enjoy playing this course now and it's probably, greens‑wise anyways, the best shape the greens have been in for as long as I can remember. They're putting really well and got a great speed to them. You've really got to position your ball still on the right side of the hole to have a decent birdie chance. But I think just coming here for so many years, I think when you start to get on a roll like I did today, you can see where the birdies are coming from. But it's also a course, you know, like my last two rounds, you just don't see where the birdies are going to come from and you've experienced, you know, the struggles on this course as well.
Q. (Question about swing changes.)
KARRIE WEBB: There's quite a few, but I guess just to sum it up, I've just made it a little bit more connected, stopped my levels from dropping, which has given me a little bit more body speed.
MODERATOR: All right. We're here in the interview room with Lexi Thompson. Congratulations, a great round, 6‑under par 66 today. Did you come into the day having any sort of number in mind that you had to shoot to kind of get yourself back up towards the top of the leaderboard?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah. Well, I was thinking 66 but, you know, you can't get ahead of yourself. You have to just take one shot at a time and hope for the best.
MODERATOR: What was the biggest different for you out there today? It looked like things seemed to be going pretty easy; you made it look, at least, easy.
LEXI THOMPSON: Thank you. I was really relaxed and focusing on two things when I was over a shot and putt. I was just playing pretty easy.
MODERATOR: Your first career LPGA victory came on a Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail golf course and we know how close you were here last year. Is there something about these golf courses that tend to suit your game, and visually, do you just like it when you stand on the tee box and see these golf courses?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I love these golf courses. Robert Trent Jones are always in good shape for us when we play them and I get to hit a lot of drivers, so I like it that. You have to be confident and just trust your line.
MODERATOR: And last night you got to have a little bit of fun and go to a baseball game. Can you tell me about that experience?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I went to the University of South Alabama baseball game. I know a guy that plays on the team, so it was a lot of fun. It just got my mind off golf and it was just really relaxing.
MODERATOR: Sometimes that's just what you need before you go out and play a round.
LEXI THOMPSON: Exactly.
Q. Hi, Lexi. You said you were relaxed. What enabled you to be that just calm and relaxed out there today?
LEXI THOMPSON: I hit it pretty good on the range. I was just focusing on tempo and posture. The range practice went really well, so it just gave me confidence and really relaxed out there.
Q. You've obviously been in this position before, here last year and Navistar. How much do those experiences feel like they'll help you tomorrow regardless of what happens between now and the end of the day?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, those experiences help me out a lot. Every tournament is a learning experience for me, so I'm just going to go out tomorrow and free swing and just try to do what I did today.
Q. You said already how big a learning experience this has been, how much it's helped you. Does it help you how you handle it tonight and how you handle it in the morning? Do you do anything different to learn from that experience?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, just the way I play, you know, the way I played last year will help me out with this year, just go out and just free swing and take everything really slow, do my routine on every shot and just focus on that.
Q. (Inaudible) bogey pretty early and everything else (inaudible.) Did you just get settled down?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I bogeyed No. 2, I just hit a few bad putts, but, you know, after that I was like just get that one back and make a few birdies and it will be a good round overall.
Q. If you win, how much more interest do you think you'll get in the (inaudible)?
LEXI THOMPSON: I don't know. Hopefully that will be an issue that we can find out after, but we'll see. I had 50 this morning before I played. I haven't checked it yet.
Q. Quick question. Is there a leaderboard for your contest for prom, and what are you doing Monday out here?
LEXI THOMPSON: No, there's not really a leaderboard. Everybody that signs in or has entered is a great person, very special. So nobody's ahead of anybody and so, you know, I'm really happy. I'm looking forward to the event. I forgot your second question.
Q. What are you doing Monday?
LEXI THOMPSON: Oh, I have a regular tee time over on the other course here with some high schoolers and maybe even younger kids, too, so it will be good. I'll get to show them how to hit some shots and, you know, just talk to them about my life and whatever they want to ask me.
Q. Will you play a round?
LEXI THOMPSON: It's usually set up on a range, so I'll talk to them first, they can ask me any question that they want about golf or about my life off the golf course, and then I'll start hitting balls and they'll hit, too, and show me.