Sybase Match Play Championship Second-Round Notes and Interviews

Sybase Match Play Championship
Hamilton Farm Golf Club
Gladstone, NJ
Second-Round Notes and Interviews
May 18, 2012

Jodi Ewart, Rolex Rankings No. 210
Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 7
Azahara Munoz, Rolex Rankings No. 27
Yani Tseng, Rolex Rankings No. 1

Soccer star…Jodi Ewart earned another impressive victory on Friday as she beat eight time European Solheim Cup team member Sophie Gustafson 3&1. Despite missing the cuts in her previous two LPGA events, Ewart's confidence seems to be riding high this week.

"I knew today was going to be another tough match, just went into today with the same attitude as yesterday," said Ewart. "I mean, I'm striking the ball really well, and today a lot more putts dropped today than they did yesterday, so I just have a lot of confidence in my game right now."

This week makes it ever the more clear that Ewart made the right decision to give up soccer and turn her attention completely to golf. As a teenager in England, Ewart played soccer at a high level.

"I used to play really high level soccer when I was growing up in high school, I possibly could have played for England as a teenager, but I chose golf over soccer," said Ewart. "There's a longer career and better money (in golf), and I was just better at golf and I enjoy golf more than soccer."

With both players looking to become Rolex First Time Winners, Ewart will face Spaniard Azahara Munoz it tomorrow's third round.

Eyes on the prize…Stacy Lewis made it clear during Friday's post-round interview she has one goal in mind and that is to be the number one golfer in the world.

"I want the pressure on me, I want people to think of me as a good golfer because that's what I think of myself, and so I want the pressure," said Lewis. "I don't know, in the end I want to be the best American player and then get ‑‑ then get No. 1 in the world, too.  So that's  what I work hard for and it's what  I sit out there and beat balls every day, that's what I'm thinking about."

Coming off her second LPGA Tour victory at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic, Lewis currently sits at No. 7 in the Rolex Rankings just behind top American Cristie Kerr who is at No. 5. With a victory this week, Lewis could inch her way further up the Rolex Rankings and move one step closer to achieving her goal.

Heavy heart… Azahara Munoz advanced to the third round of the Sybase Match Play Championship after her 2&1 victory over Karrie Webb on Friday but this Spaniard is playing with a heavy heart this week following the death of her grandmother on Sunday.

Despite fighting back tears, Munoz has managed to punch her ticket into the third round after victories over Australians Lindsey Wright and Karrie Webb. Rolex Rankings No. 27 has relied on her experience at last year's Solheim Cup to adjust to the match play style format used this week.

"Obviously it gave me a lot of confidence, said Munoz of last year's Solheim Cup. "Growing up back home, we play a lot of match play events." 

Despite playing against Jodi Ewart in many tournaments, tomorrow will serve as the first time the duo will face off in match play competition.

"She used to play for England, I used to play for Spain, so we played together all the time, but I actually never played against you her," said Munoz. "She's a really good player and she's been playing really well all year.  I knew she was a good player when she came out this year because I played with her a lot when we were amateurs, in college.  You know, she's such a good ball striker.  So in match play, it's only one round, so anybody could beat anybody."

One shot at a time The No. 41 seed Julieta Granada set the record for the week after taking out Ryann O'Toole on the 13th hole to finish 6&5 on Friday. Granada didn't give O'Toole a chance to catch up after posting five birdies and winning 7 holes to close out the match.

Granada had an impressive start to the season after participating in a six-way playoff in the season opener in Australia ending in a tie for second. She hasn't broken into the top-10 since that event but has placed in the top-25 in four events this season. With a positive attitude and consistency in her swing, Granada could be on her way to a breakthrough.

"I've been progressively getting better each year, especially last year I think I grew a lot," Granada said. "But it was definitely nice to be in a playoff and have a good chance to win the tournament.  I handled myself really well that Sunday, so I was excited about that, and the rest of the year I've just been trying to be more consistent, trying to really not worry about everything else but my game and just kind of having a good attitude."

Although the day could potentially be long for the Paraguay native, Granada changes her mind set to only think about her first tee shot tomorrow morning.

"The morning match, that's it and that's all you have to think about," Granada said. "You can't really think about the match in front of you, behind you, who you're going to play next.  That's when you get caught up in the whole bracket situation.  You just have to play that one hole, really, and that one shot.  Tomorrow could be a long day and this golf course is definitely a long walk, but that's why we work out."

Grinding out the win…It was a long day for Vicky Hurst and Cristie Kerr as their match served as the only match to go into extra holes during the first two days of the Sybase Match Play Championship.

Hurst got off to an early one up lead over Kerr after a birdie at the second. Kerr then fought back and won the fourth and eight holes to take a one up lead until Hurst's birdie at the 15th returned the match to all square. Hurst then pared the first playoff hole to defeat Cristie Kerr in 19 holes.

"It was a long day just because neither one of us ran away with it so we were both so intence," said Hurst. "I think we both left a lot of shots out here so we were both grinding it out pretty much until the end."

Still on top… No. 33 seed Katie Futcher put up a good fight against No. 1 seed Yani Tseng with a one point lead heading into the turn in Friday's match. But after Tseng posted four birdies on 11, 13, 14 and 17, Futcher couldn't get ahead despite recording straight pars on the back nine.

Tseng's competitors have definitely kept her on her toes this week, considering both matches so far have been taken to at least the 17th hole. Tseng thinks this could be because of the time she took off from the Tour.

"I didn't play as good as yesterday but I putted much better," Tseng said. "I started to make more birdies on the back 9 and started to play better. I haven't played in three weeks so I needed some time to get it back. I am ready for tomorrow and it feels good."

Jodi Ewart, Rolex Rankings No. 210

MODERATOR:  All right.  I would like to welcome Jodi Ewart into the interview room.  Jodi, nice win today.
JODI EWART:  Thank you.

MODERATOR:  This is the second day in a row that you've beaten two veteran Solheim Cup team members.  Being from England, you'd be on the European team if you were to make it.  Does that give you any more motivation? 
JODI EWART:  Absolutely.  I mean, the European Tour ‑‑ the European team is one of my goals for the next Solheim, so it gives me a lot of confidence beating two really strong match play players.

MODERATOR:  I don't know if you know it or not, but your mom has been tweeting the Sybase Match Play to keep her updated on your matches.  Your mom obviously plays a big part in your life.  Is she a big supporter of you?
JODI EWART:  Yeah, definitely.  She's still in England, so I think she struggles me being over here and not being here to support me, but yeah.

MODERATOR:  What is one thing that the media might not know about you?
JODI EWART:  Oh, God.  I used to play really high level soccer when I was growing up in high school, I possibly could have played for England as a teenager, but I chose golf over soccer.

MODERATOR:  What made you choose golf?
JODI EWART:  Well, there's a longer career and better money, and I was just better at golf and I enjoy golf more than soccer.

Q.  What is your favorite soccer team?
JODI EWART:  Leeds, unfortunately.

Q.  Can you talk about the stretch from 7 to 10?
JODI EWART:  I'm trying to think.

MODERATOR:  Birdie, birdie ‑‑
JODI EWART:  Yeah, No. 7's playing really long today and I was like 190 out, and me and my caddy talked about it and we both felt that I couldn't get 4 in there, so I went with a cut‑down hybrid, but I pretty much got all of it and hit it over the back of the green and made a really good up‑and‑down to that pin position.  Sophie was just in a bunker and didn't get up and down, but it was a really good up‑and‑down. 

No. 8, she actually conceded the hole to me after she made bogey.  I was about seven feet away from the hole. 

No. 9, I holed maybe a 30‑footer for birdie.  And then No. 10, I was just off the green, but the pin's tucked pretty close to the end of the green and I holed that from off the green as well.

Q.  Are you just about as loose as you could be right now?  I mean, you're kind of playing with house money at this point, or are you just feeling no pressure whatsoever?
JODI EWART:  Yeah, I mean, I knew today was going to be another tough match, just went into today with the same attitude as yesterday.  I mean, I'm striking the ball really well, and today a lot more putts dropped today than they did yesterday, so I just have a lot of confidence in my game right now.

Q.  You would be playing another tough opponent tomorrow, either Aza or I forget who it is, yeah, Karrie Webb.  Just talk about what you expect tomorrow, too.
JODI EWART:  I mean, I expect another really tough match and I'm just going to go out with the same mental attitude as I did the past two rounds.  You know, take it one shot at a time, one hole at a time, and see what happens.

Q.  Is this course kind of fitting your game, fitting your eye at this point?  I mean, do you just feel real comfortable here?
JODI EWART:  Yeah, with the wet conditions, you know, me being a long hitter, it definitely plays to my advantage.  But both Suzann and Sophie are long hitters, we're very similar in distance.  It definitely fits my game really well.

Q.  You've been playing pretty great these past two months or so also.  Just talk about, you know, what improvements you might have made, you know, to make you play so well.
JODI EWART:  I was playing really well from Phoenix to the Kraft, and then I had two kind of off weeks in Hawaii and Mobile, so my coach actually came out to Florida and worked on a few things in my swing, trying to get my length back and just trying to get my swing more under control.  It's just ‑‑ I mean, I've got so much confidence in my swing right now that it was just really the best thing to do.  His name's Andrew Marshall.

Q.  You're ranked 200‑something in the world.  How did you get into this event?
JODI EWART:  The 2012 money list.

Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No.

MODERATOR:  I would like to welcome Stacy Lewis into the interview room.  Stacy, thanks for coming in.  Pretty commanding victory today over Sandra Gal.  Can you just take me through the day?
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, I mean, I knew with Sandra, you never really know what she's going to do, and she's capable of making a lot of birdies, so I knew I needed to play well.  And I actually birdied the first three holes and then won the 4th hole with bogey, so I was 4‑up through 4 and I was kind of on cruise control.  Then made the turn and made a bogey and kind of gave her a couple shots, but made two good birdies on 13 and 14 and that kind of closed things out.

MODERATOR:  There were a lot of upsets yesterday, proving that match play is kind of anyone's game to win.  How do you approach match play as opposed to stroke play?
STACY LEWIS:  Well, match play's completely different.  You have to just ‑‑ you have to get out there and take every match for what it is.  You can't think about the last match on Sunday and winning the whole thing and doing all that.  As soon as you start thinking about the next match, I think you get in trouble. 

So, for me, it's just looking at my tee time.  The first time I looked at the bracket was, I think, Thursday morning right before I played.  So I haven't really looked at who I can play down the road, but it's more what's my tee time the next day.

Q.  Obviously when Suzann loses yesterday, your bracket opens up.  I know you said you don't look at it, but do you realize it's there?
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, I did look at my bracket more since then, but I think, I mean, even my next match, I'll either from Jessica Korda or I think Sun Young.  Sun Young's having a great year.  She's playing really well. 

I don't think Suzann losing really opens things up for me.  I think I've got a lot of tough matches still ahead of me, and there were a lot of upsets yesterday, so it just shows what match play is.  Anything could happen on any given day.

Q.  Can you tell us a little bit about the birdies at the start, describe the first three holes for us?
STACY LEWIS:  Yep.  The first hole I had 8‑iron and hit it to about four feet and made that for birdie.

And the second hole Sandra and I had about the same length for birdie, and she missed and I made.  It was probably 10, 12 feet.  And then on the par three, I made ‑‑ probably 30, 35 feet, I made a putt just dead straight, went right in the center.  And then I made ‑‑ then we halved ‑‑ we halved 5 with birdies, Sandra hit it on the green in two, missed her eagle putt, and I got up and down for birdie.  Obviously that kind of put some pressure on her to hit some good shots.  Her game came around; kind of middle of the round she started to play really well, so I had to kind of get back on the horse a little bit.

Q.  Because it's been so wet this week and the end of last week, has that changed the way the course is playing?  Is it playing longer than it normally would?
STACY LEWIS:  I think every time I've played here, it's played long and wet.  I don't think I've ever played it when it's running out, so I don't really know any different.  There are some holes that you can have wedges into, but you have 5‑ and 6‑irons all day.  It's just the way this course plays when it's wet, but it's nice, though, because they're just hitting on the green and stopping.

Q.  I know you won two weeks ago at Mobile.  I assume your game is really good at this point, but I mean, when people think of American golfers, I think everybody kind of says Kerr and Creamer and Lincicome.  Do you want to sit there and say, hey, I'm as good and I want to be that No. 1 player?
STACY LEWIS:  That's the reason I go out and play every day.  I think I've probably been playing as good, if not better, than a lot of the American players and I haven't got noticed yet, and that's what drives me every day to go out and get better and to keep playing and to keep winning matches.  I think if you're up on that leaderboard enough and you win enough golf tournaments, people will start to take notice.  I haven't been noticed, but it's driving me every day.

Q.  Is there a mental or physical change you have to make between tonight and tomorrow considering you're going to be playing potentially 36 tomorrow, potentially 36 on Sunday after playing 18 and 18?
STACY LEWIS:  Mentally, it's really not different.  You still have to kind of stay with the match at hand.  Physically, tonight I'm going to get back and rest.  I've done that the last two nights just to kind of save your energy, don't practice a whole lot, get your work done and get out.  36 holes, especially on this wet golf course, is going to be a really long day, but I'm looking forward to it.

Q.  You mentioned wanting to play well, wanting to be noticed.  The better you play, the more you're noticed, there's more outside demands on your time, things of that nature.  That's part of the deal.  Are you comfortable with that?  Do you want that?  Do you welcome that?  What's your take on that part of it?
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, that's what I found over the last year, the better you play, the more you have to kind of give your time to other people.  So you have to manage that, manage ‑‑ put a limit on what things you do that you are doing. 

But I don't know, I welcome it.  I think if people are asking you to do interviews or speak to a group of people or whatever it may be, I think that's a good reason, you're doing something right.  I want the pressure on me, I want people to think of me as a good golfer because that's what I think of myself, and so I want the pressure. I don't know, in the end I want to be the best American player and then get ‑‑ then get No. 1 in the world, too.  So that's  what I work hard for and it's what  I sit out there and beat balls every day, that's what I'm thinking about.

Q.  As you kind of break into that upper tier, is there someone on Tour that you've kind of picked their brain a little bit on how to balance everything, how to make it all work?
STACY LEWIS:  I wouldn't say it's one player in particular.  I've gotten to know Meg Mallon pretty well, our Solheim Cup captain, and all last year she's telling me ‑‑ in the middle of the summer, after I won the Kraft, I was kind of on a high and I had a lot of obligations and I was doing everything, and she's like, "You need to slow down, you need to quit doing so much."  And I didn't listen to her and I was exhausted at the end of the year.  She's actually really helped me a lot just on managing my emotions on the golf course, managing your energy level and how to become the best player in the world.  For me, a lot of it was, it was mental and how I react to golf shots and getting mad and getting upset.  It's something I've really worked on.

Q.  Stacy, how did your experience in the Solheim Cup also help you in this type of event?  I know it's more of an emotional type of tournament, but just talk about that mentality.
STACY LEWIS:  Right, for sure.  I would say Solheim, there's so many more emotions to it, but you definitely ‑‑ you get the ebbs and flow of match play.  And I was really hard on myself at Solheim because I wasn't playing as well as I would have liked so I was hard on myself and I learned a lot from that.  The person you're playing is going to make great shots, they're going to make putts, it's going to happen.  All you can control is what you're doing, and that's what I've been trying to do this week.

Azahara Munoz, Rolex Rankings No. 27

MODERATOR:  All right.  I would like to welcome Azahara Munoz to the interview room.  Aza, thanks for coming in.  Great win today over veteran Karrie Webb.  Can you just take me through the day, how the match went?
AZAHARA MUNOZ:  Yeah, obviously I knew it was going to be tough.  Karrie, she's such a great player.  It was pretty steady at the beginning; she made one birdie, I made one birdie.  And then she made a bogey on 9, so I got 1‑up.  Then I made birdie on 10, so I got 2‑up.  And I think the key was on 11 because I made like a 15‑footer for par, and she two‑putted from like five feet, so I go to 3‑up with that.  After that I kind of (inaudible) and then almost holed it on 17 but I made birdie, too, but was getting scared there.

Q.  You were a rookie on last year's Solheim Cup team, which involves a lot of match play.  Do you think that helped you coming into this week?
AZAHARA MUNOZ:  I think so.  Obviously it gave me a lot of confidence.  Growing up back home, we play a lot of match play events.  Pretty much every tournament is 36‑hole qualifier and then it's like the U.S. Open ‑‑ the U.S. Amateur, sorry.  So I've always played a lot of match play and I've always really liked it.

Q.  Have you ever played Jodi and do you know her at all?
AZAHARA MUNOZ:  Yeah, we play ‑‑ she used to play for England, I used to play for Spain, so we played together all the time, but I actually never played against you her.  But definitely in the European championships, we would play against them, Spain versus England, but not exactly her versus me.

Q.  I guess have you noticed what she's done against Suzann and Sophie today?  She's taken down two of the, I guess, bigger players in the field.
AZAHARA MUNOZ:  Yeah, obviously.  She's a really good player and she's been playing really well all year.  I knew she was a good player when she came out this year because I played with her a lot when we were amateurs, in college.  You know, she's such a good ball striker.  So in match play, it's only one round, so anybody could beat anybody.

Q.  Obviously with the (inaudible) you felt on the golf course, how does this golf course fit your eye, and how do you see the golf course coming in later in the week?  Is it getting firmer faster and does that fit your game?
AZAHARA MUNOZ:  Yeah, I like it firmer and faster.  I hit the ball kind of high, so I think for my iron shots it's much better.  You know, the greens, I think you have to hit really good shots, but the key is on the greens.  The greens are rolling so nice, so you can make a lot of putts out here.

Q.  Since you've played match play a lot, is there a mental or physical switch you have to make after once you go from playing 18 to the days when you have to play 36?
AZAHARA MUNOZ:  No, it's the same.  A new match, you start over, and the other person has already played 18 as well.  I think it's just the same.  Probably you're a little more tired, so you probably have to think a little more about it, maybe make some adjustment ‑‑ whatever you say, adjustments on your swing or something, but I think it's just the same.

Yani Tseng, Rolex Rankings No. 1

Can you just take me through your day today?
"I didn't play as good as yesterday but I putted much better. I started to make more birdies on the back 9 and started to play better. I haven't played in three weeks so I needed some time to get it back. I am ready for tomorrow and it feels good."

Do you think you are ready to potentially play 36 holes tomorrow?
"I am ready, I hope I can play 36 holes. I play with Candie Kung tomorrow from and she is also from Taiwan so it should be a lot of fun"

Topics: Sybase Match Play Championship, Ewart Shadoff, Jodi, Munoz, Azahara, Lewis, Stacy, Tseng, Yani, Notes and Interviews [+]

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