2012 Mobile Bay LPGA Classic
Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Magnolia Grove, Crossings Course
April 27, 2012
Second-round notes and interviews
2011 Kraft Nabisco champion Stacy Lewis leads by one stroke after two rounds of play at the 2012 Mobile Bay LPGA Classic. Lewis fired a 5-under 67 on the Crossings Course at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’s Magnolia Grove to move to 9-under-par for the tournament
Heading into the weekend, Karin Sjodin, So Yeon Ryu, Sydnee Michaels and Lindsey Wright all sit one shot back of Lewis at 8-under-par. There is also a group of five players, including Kraft Nabisco champion Sun Young Yoo, who sit two back at 7-under.
In her comfort zone…When Stacy Lewis won the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship not only did she become a Rolex First-Time Winner but she learned the ins-and-outs of what it takes to be in contention of an LPGA tournament.
Whether it is seeing her name atop the leaderboard or doing post-interviews, Lewis admitted on Friday it has been a learning curve.
"I think over the last year I've had a lot of opportunities being in contention and doing interviews and everything that goes along with that, and I've gotten so much more comfortable here," said Lewis. "It's okay to see your name on the leaderboard and I don't freak out or anything like that. So I don't know, I like being here and I like coming and talking in here."
Since becoming a Rolex First-Time Winner Lewis has recorded 14 top-10 finishes and finished runner-up or tied for second three times. This week Lewis has recorded only one bogey en route to an 8-under par two day total and sits atop the leaderboard heading to the weekend.
Record-tying day: Since she was scheduled to tee off No. 10 in the first group at 6:50 a.m., Karin Sjodin had to be at the golf course quite early on Friday morning -- so early that she was warming up on the putting under lights. But her day took an unusual turn when all of sudden the lights went out.
"The lights went out. Putting on a dark green at 5:50 a.m. #NoFun," Sjodin tweeted.
Things certainly turned out to be fun for Sjodin later in her day, though. Sjodin tied her career-low round and the tournament record at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic by shooting an 8-under 64 in Friday’s second round. Sjodin jumped from a T50 into a T2 heading into the weekend at the event and needed only 29 putts to get through her round.
"Maybe not seeing the hole is a good thing," Sjodin joked during her post-round press conference.
Sjodin, who has been on Tour for XX years, gained a lot of attention for her impressive play at the Kraft Nabisco Championship where she recorded a career-best T4 finish. Sjodin entered the final round tied for the lead with Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng and held a lead during the front nine but wasn’t able to hold on for her first career LPGA victory. Still, she said that she learned a lot from the experience.
"I learned my game probably belongs more in the A times than the B times for the better finishes," Sjodin said. "And I also think I handled it really well, I wasn't nervous. I started off playing really well that last round, even though I couldn't get anything going in the middle round portion of it, but I think I just feel really solid over the ball right now. I feel like I'm hitting it pretty straight and I can attack most pins or even off the tees, so it seems kind of simple at the moment."
Eyes on the prize: So Yeon Ryu doesn’t hide the fact that she has a goal this season and that’s to be holding the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year trophy at the end of the year.
"My goal is Rookie of the Year because in KLPGA I lose my Rookie of the Year award," Ryu said. "So especially this year I really want to take Rookie of the Year. I knew lots of great rookie playing together, so I'm a little nervous, but I want to try and just enjoy the tournament."
Ryu currently leads the Rookie of the Year race with 283 points, nearly double the total of Lexi Thompson who is second on the list. Ryu, who began her rookie campaign tying for second at the ISPS Handa Australian Women’s Open in February, has a total of three top-5 finishes this year and is now just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic.
The 2011 U.S. Women’s Open champion fired a 5-under 67 on Friday to move to 8-under-par, one shot behind leader Stacy Lewis. Ryu credited her strong play in part to her playing partners, Chella Choi and Na Yeon Choi, over the first two days of the event.
"I was really, really comfortable because you know my first language is Korean, so sometimes ‑‑ I mean, if I use English, my mind is a little busy," Ryu said. "But yesterday and today it was really comfortable. Especially my iron shot is really great. So this golf course is really tricky green and really big green and really tough putt, but I made a lot of birdie putts because I hit iron shot really perfect. So just five‑foot birdie putt, 10‑foot birdie putt is not tough putt. So I think really big key is iron shot and I want to try to feel like comfortable about the English too."
Learning Curve…Sydnee Michaels might be an LPGA Tour rookie but this California native learned the ins-and-outs of the professional golf ranks via the Symetra Tour - The Road to the LPGA.
Michaels turned professional immediately after playing four years of collegiate golf at the University of California Los Angeles where she recorded two wins and was a two-time NGCA All-American Second Team selection (2008, 2010). During her 2011 Symetra Tour rookie season, Michaels notched victories at the Vidalia championship and the Price Chopper Tour Championship.
Michaels went on to finish fourth on the season ending Volvik Race for the Card standings to earn her LPGA Tour card for the 2012 season.
"Obviously I tried to get my card right after I finished school in 2010 and I didn't make it in final stage and I was devastated, but looking back I think it's the best thing that could have happened to me," said the laid-back Michaels. "Last year I learned how to travel, I learned how to play every week, I learned how to grind it out, and I think it's huge for preparing me for this year."
Michaels shot two consecutive rounds of 4-under par 68 and stands 1-stroke behind current leader Stacy Lewis. Playing in just her fourth LPGA tournament this season she is looking to improve on a career-best tied for 30th finish at the Kia Classic.
Staying on for the weekend: A total of 77 players made the cut which fell at even-par 144
Happy Anniversary! With an impressive 26 courses on 11 different sites, the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail is celebrating its 20th anniversary.
In 1992 Robert Trent Jones designed the first course on the golf trail and the tradition continues today with Jones’ protégé, Roger Rulewich.
To celebrate the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’s 20th anniversary on the 20th day of each month in 2012, a round on the RTJ Golf Trail will cost a mere $20. In addition, on May 23rd a celebration will take place with Rulewich to celebrate the anniversary.
The LPGA has played a total of 18 tournaments on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama including 13 in Mobile and five on the Senator Course in Prattville.
Patiently waiting…Everyone will have to wait until Saturday to determine which two players, who are not already qualified, will gain entry into the Sybase Match Play event in Gladstone, New Jersey on May 17-20. Karin Sjodin, So Yeon Ryu, Sydnee Michaels, and Lindsey Wright are all currently at 8-under par for the tournament and will use their third round score as a tie-breaker.
Get low: There were plenty of red numbers on the leaderboard during Friday’s second round of the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic. On a day that featured nearly perfect weather conditions, many players found a way to put together a low round. A total of 35 rounds were shot in the 60s on Friday and 64 players are under-par through two rounds of the event.
Of Note…Defending champion Maria Hjorth shot 72 in Friday’s second round and now sits in a T56 at 1-under-par… Angela Oh and Na On Min withdrew from the tournament prior to Friday’s second round… Friday marked the one-year anniversary of the devastating tornadoes that struck Alabama and caused massive devastation. In remembrance of the anniversary, the flags flew at half-mast at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic.
MODERATOR: All right. We'd like to welcome our current leader, Stacy Lewis, into the interview room. Congratulations, another great round today. Can you take me through the last two days? Really, we got to see two solid rounds here on this golf course. And what's been working well with your game so far?
STACY LEWIS: Right. Well, it's really just been boring golf. I haven't made a ton of putts or anything. I just hit a lot of shots close, taken advantage of the par 5s. It's been pretty relaxing and it's been fun.
MODERATOR: You told me yesterday that you haven't really felt comfortable with your game so far this year. Looking at the results, you wouldn't naturally assume, but what's been the biggest difference for you coming into this weekend? You said you worked with your coach earlier in the week. What part of your game, I guess, are you now starting to feel more comfortable with?
STACY LEWIS: I think it's mainly ball striking. I wasn't really hitting as many shots close and on the green as I would have liked, and we really worked and I got just really comfortable with where the ball's going right now. I don't know. I feel good about my game and my putting's ‑‑ I'm feeling a little more comfortable, still a little not quite where I want it, but it's definitely getting more comfortable.
MODERATOR: I know last week was your only missed cut so far this year. Did you kind of gain anything from that, that you felt like there were certain things that you knew you had to work on, or was it just one of those weeks where things maybe weren't coming together with the game?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I think it was really one of those weeks. I had a lot of stuff going on and just I think mentally I was just ‑‑ I was kind of not there. So I feel a lot more relaxed this week and I just kind of chalked it up to being a bad couple days and just kind of moving on.
Q. (Inaudible.) Can you talk about those final four holes, what you did right on the three birdies, and then what happened on 18?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. 15, I hit gap wedge to probably two feet, and then two‑putted the par 5 for birdie, and then actually finally made a long putt on 17, I made probably about a 20‑footer.
18, I ‑‑ kind of unfortunate actually. I hit a really good shot into the green, and I don't know how it went as far as it did, and ended up missing about a five‑footer. So kind of ‑‑ definitely frustrated a little bit with that, but I mean, the thing about the way I played today, I played so solid and I still feel really good about my game.
MODERATOR: Overall now it's been a little over a year since you won your first tournament and kind of have built off that success. How different do you feel now at this point a year later and how comfortable you are even in media interviews, with your game, comfort level being up there at the top of the leaderboard?
STACY LEWIS: I mean, it's night and day. I think ‑‑ I was kind of prepared for it when I won the Kraft, but I think over the last year I've had a lot of opportunities being in contention and doing interviews and everything that goes along with that, and I've gotten so much more comfortable here. It's okay to see your name on the leaderboard and I don't freak out or anything like that. So I don't know, I like being here and I like coming and talking in here.
Q. Would you just talk a little bit about the string of birdies on the back side? Was there anything ‑‑ just part of your momentum for the day, or just those holes really appeal to you?
STACY LEWIS: It really was just I started hitting a couple shots close, both on I guess it was 13, the par 5, actually I almost holed out, and then 15, hit it close there. So it was just solid. I finally just got some shots inside the hole. The front nine, I really hit a lot of good shots, too, but putts were kind of going over the edge, so it really wasn't much different other than that.
Q. What was your distance on No. 18 when you hit it too far?
STACY LEWIS: I was 149 to the hole and it was a little downwind and I hit 8‑iron. I was only trying to hit about a 145 shot and it carried probably eight or nine yards past it, so it's not a normal 8‑iron, I know that.
Q. Congratulations, a great round today, 5‑under.
SO YEON RYU: Thank you.
Q. Take me through the day and what really worked well for you.
SO YEON RYU: Actually, today and yesterday I played with Chella Choi and Na Yeon Choi, so I was really, really comfortable because you know my first language is Korean, so sometimes ‑‑ I mean, if I use English, my mind is a little busy. But yesterday and today it was really comfortable. Especially my iron shot is really great. So this golf course is really tricky green and really big green and really tough putt, but I made a lot of birdie putt because I hit iron shot really perfect. So just five‑foot birdie putt, 10‑foot birdie putt is not tough putt. So I think really big key is iron shot and I want to try to feel like comfortable about the English.
Q. A lot of players say it's a good visual golf course, like off the tee they like the look of it. Does this course seem to suit your game?
SO YEON RYU: Yeah, especially this golf course is really similar to Korea because the American golf courses are really flat, but this golf course is kind of little uphill and downhill. But I love this course, especially I love the trees. This golf course have lots of trees, so I love this golf course.
Q. You've gotten off to a good start in your season. I know you spent so much time playing on the KLPGA. Do you feel like a rookie out here?
SO YEON RYU: Actually, on Wednesday I have an opportunity following Amanda's rookie ‑‑ Amanda's playing group. They ask me, Are you rookie? So everybody thought I'm not rookie, but I want to try to keep in mind I'm just rookie and start play golf or something because sometimes, if I try to win or something, my mind is really busy and looks like cocky, so I just want to keep rookie mind.
Q. That's a good way to have it. And you've been leading in the Rookie of the Year race, I know it's really early, but is that something that you set as goal for yourself?
SO YEON RYU: Yeah, 2012 my goal is Rookie of the Year because in KLPGA I lose my Rookie of the Year award. So especially this year I really want to take Rookie of the Year, but I knew lots of great rookie playing together, so I'm a little nervous, but I want to try just enjoy the tournament.
Q. Have you talked to ‑‑ a lot of the other players, like Hee Kyung Seo, have all made that transition from the KLPGA over here.
SO YEON RYU: Yeah.
Q. Have they given you some good advice about what it takes out here?
SO YEON RYU: Jiyai Shin, Na Yeon Choi, Hee Kyung Seo, lots of Korean player transitioned to KLPGA and LPGA, but they said always little ‑‑ traveling is really tough because in Korea if we take plane, we can go anywhere just one hour, just take one hour. But America's really wide, so sometimes it's really hard. But they said just enjoy your traveling because we have a lot of chance to traveling a lot of city, so you just enjoy. All the cities have lots of great beach or tree or great museum. You just traveling.
Q. And it's still early in the week, but you won last year. How much pressure does that take off you knowing that you've won out here already? Now you come into your rookie season when you're up near the top of the leaderboard heading into a weekend, knowing that you already have one win and you're not trying to get your first win.
SO YEON RYU: Actually, the really important thing is just think of my game, but sometimes I'm thinking about the competitor and thinking about the win, trophy or something. But I think that's not great, I think, because it make me a little bit ‑‑ positive is really great, but sometimes a little bit too aggressive playing, so that's a really hard thing.
Q. So just take it one day at a time, one round at a time?
SO YEON RYU: Yeah, just think about the one hole, one shot, yeah, that's the important thing.
MODERATOR: All right. We'd like to welcome Karin Sjodin into the interview room. Congratulations. 8‑under 64 today, tied for the tournament record. Can you just give me your thoughts, I guess, on the day and how you were able to go out and shoot a round like that today?
KARIN SJODIN: I think yesterday I felt really good about the way I was hitting the ball and my putter didn't behave very well. So today I just kept hitting it really good, actually even better than yesterday, and managed to make some putts, so it was a fun round.
MODERATOR: You Tweeted before your round today about the lights going out when you were on the putting green.
KARIN SJODIN: Yeah.
MODERATOR: Anything that helped you about putting in the dark? Did your putter learn something from that?
KARIN SJODIN: Maybe not seeing the hole is a good thing.
MODERATOR: You're coming off a pretty impressive performance at Kraft a few weeks ago. I know the final day didn't go as you would have hoped, but career‑best tied‑for‑fourth finish and a great experience. What did you learn from that and what have you carried on into your game now?
KARIN SJODIN: I learned my game probably belongs more in the A times than the B times for the better finishes. And I also think I handled it really well, I wasn't nervous. I started off playing really well that last round, even though I couldn't get anything going in the middle round portion of it, but I think I just feel really solid over the ball right now. I feel like I'm hitting it pretty straight and I can attack most pins or even off the tees, so it seems kind of simple at the moment.
MODERATOR: Does this course suit your game, and how have you found it over the first two days? What's been the key for you being able to play so well?
KARIN SJODIN: It does, I really like what it looks like off the tee, all the lines. And I think hitting it far, I can take it over a few bunkers that most people probably play around, so I think hitting it far is a big advantage here, and then just liking it is probably helpful, too.
Q. Obviously with yesterday you shoot even and then you come in today and tie the course record for the tournament. Obviously you knew you had to make a move. Was that on your mind, or did things just click when you started playing?
KARIN SJODIN: Of course I knew I had to make a move, but it wasn't something I was thinking about. I just decided ‑‑ yesterday I had a talk with one of the Swedish coaches that's out here and we suggested attack every swing and every putt, have like a positive ‑‑ I guess a positive approach to each shot instead of being scared or kind of chickening out. So I think I went in with maybe a bit of an aggressive attitude and it seems to have helped.
Q. Was there one part of the day when you thought, okay, this is good, make the attack and just keep attacking?
KARIN SJODIN: I couldn't ‑‑ I can't say a certain point, but it felt simple out there. I was never really in any trouble apart from a dumb three‑putt on No. 18. I don't know if there was a point, but it just felt good the whole way through.
Q. Karin, you actually talked a little bit how you were able to attack the course off the tee, a little bit longer, some of the bunkers didn't come into play for you. You actually drove the ball shorter today than you did yesterday.
KARIN SJODIN: Yeah.
Q. Was it just the putter, or was it just something that clicked on the green? You had 35 putts yesterday, 29 today. There's six strokes right there. Did something just click?
KARIN SJODIN: Probably, and I also ‑‑ I was at two‑over par for quite a while yesterday, so I think I figured something out. I think today I probably hit my irons a lot better than yesterday, but my driver wasn't quite as solid as yesterday but it's still long enough.
Q. The pin locations, they were a little different than today. I know like on some of the longer ‑‑ on the shorter par 5s they had them up in the front, in the lower tier instead of the back tier.
KARIN SJODIN: Um‑hmm.
Q. Was that easier for you? I know you had almost like a backstop where you could bring the ball back toward the hole.
KARIN SJODIN: I don't think I used that on the par 5s today. They're reachable no matter where the pin is, it just depends on if I'm going to go with an iron on 16, I think it is, it's shorter, and then I went to a hybrid instead of a 3‑wood on one of the other ones.
Q. Three‑putt on 18, what happened?
KARIN SJODIN: I hit it three times.laug I actually hit the first one too hard. It was a longer putt and I hit it too hard, and then had maybe a seven footer or so, downhill slider. I hit it the way I wanted to, I just misread it.
MODERATOR: Karin, you've been out here for a few years and it's taken some time for you to kind of find the success that you've had in the last few weeks. How much does it help you handling what you were able to do at Kraft having had so much experience in taking this amount of time maybe to reach this point?
KARIN SJODIN: You probably mature a bit, I would think. I think I take things kind of calmly, relaxed. I don't think I go too high or too low. I'm kind of a mellow, enjoying‑what‑I'm‑doing kind of person. So I think that definitely helps, even in success and also when you're struggling. Maybe that's something that comes with my old age.
MODERATOR: Have you also noticed a change in ‑‑ when you have a performance like that at Kraft where it's such a big stage and so many people take notice, have you noticed other people recognizing you more, you know, paying attention and now being like, oh ‑‑
KARIN SJODIN: Yeah, some people, the rental car people. After Kraft they recognized me, which was kind of nice. Other players coming up and congratulating me and saying they were rooting for me and things like that. I enjoy it, it's been great.
Q. Rookie Sydnee Michaels, congratulations, a great round 4‑under par today, tied atop the leaderboard right now. Can you just take me through the day and what was working for you?
SYDNEE MICHAELS: I just stayed really patient out there and hitting it very well and making some good putts. I played pretty solid, still left quite a few out there, had a lot of birdie opportunities. So that's all you can ask for, just give yourself a chance.
Q. How's the course been playing over the first two days, and kind of what's been the key to shooting solid rounds like you have the first two days?
SYDNEE MICHAELS: The greens are really big, so I think that placement on the green is really important. And they're very firm and they're getting very fast. So today a couple of the holes were cut on some downhill slopes and speed is key on the greens.
Q. This is your first year on the on the LPGA Tour, you've gotten a few events under your belt. How much more comfortable are you feeling out here?
SYDNEE MICHAELS: I'm a lot more comfortable. I was nervous the first like one ‑‑ first or second event. It's like a new job, you're just trying to get used to it. Every week I'm just getting more and more comfortable out here, so I'm so excited to be out here and playing on the LPGA.
Q. You earned your card last year on the Symetra Tour, finishing fourth on the money list. What experience did that Tour give you and did you build off what you were able to accomplish?
SYDNEE MICHAELS: You know, I think playing Futures Tour for me was crucial. Obviously I tried to get my card right after I finished school in 2010 and I didn't make it final stage and I was devastated, but looking back I think it's the best thing that could have happened to me. Last year I learned how to travel, I learned how to play every week, I learned how to grind it out, and I think it's huge for preparing me for this year. Absolutely, I think it was crucial.
Q. Heading into the weekend, any keys for you going forward?
SYDNEE MICHAELS: Same game plan, just stay patient and not push anything and just trust my skills and have fun.