ShopRite LPGA Classic
Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club, Bay Course
Galloway, New Jersey
First-round notes and interviews
June 1, 2012
Stacy Lewis and Mika Miyazato jumped out in front of the field in the first round of the 2012 ShopRite LPGA Classic and sit atop the leaderboard at 6-under par. Both fired rounds of 65 on the Bay Course at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club to take a two-shot lead. Lewis and Miyazato carded six and four birdies respectively, four coming on the front nine for Lewis while Miyazato had two on both the front and back nine. Paula Creamer and Mariajo Uribe sit two shots off the lead after shooting opening rounds of 67 and are tied for third.
Staying in the Moment…First-round co-leader Stacy Lewis came into the ShopRite LPGA Classic confident where her game is at this point in the season and showed some calm nerves after an up-and-down stretch of holes after she made the turn. Lewis, who tee’d off on No. 10 in the first round, birdied the par-4 first, double bogeyed the second and went on the eagle the par-5 No. 3 before carding a par on the fourth hole. Lewis expected some shaky play coming into the week as she knew that the Bay Course at Seaview Resort always gives players trouble.
“I think more than anything on this golf course you're going to hit some bad shots or get a bad bounce and you're going to make a bogey or double,” said Lewis. “So I knew that coming into the week. I just took it for what it was. And I knew I had a par-5 coming and I could make it up.”
Lewis credited her mental game for not losing her focus and concentrating on each shot as they came.
“I hit some good shots and I stayed patient,” said Lewis. “It was really hard. You really kind of had to stay in the moment and can't get too far ahead of yourself.”
Crowd Surfer…Rolex Rankings No. 36 and first-round co-leader Mika Miyazato has had a so-so season so far in 2012. She went through a stretch of three straight missed cuts and in seven starts this season, her season-best finish was a T21 at her first event of year at the Honda LPGA Thailand 2012. But after carding a 6-under par 65 on Friday, the Japan native is ready to put on a show for the South Jersey crowd.
Leading off the tournament as part of the first group on No. 1, Miyazato said there’s no pressure being in the first group but she’s not necessarily a fan of that tee time.
“I want more of a crowd,” said Miyazato. “That makes me more comfortable, like the (crowd at the) 18th hole.”
If the fourth-year Tour member keeps up solid play through tomorrow, she’ll be happy to be in the leader group on Sunday. Miyazato has one international win, when she won the Japan Women’s Open in 2010 on the JLPGA and is still looking to record her first LPGA Tour victory.
Highlighted Finished…Rolex Rankings No.13 Paula Creamer went out on a high note for her first round on Friday, carding an eagle on the par 5 18th hole. It’s her second eagle of the 2012 season. Creamer hit a line-drive approach shot from about 235 yards with her 3-wood and was left with a six-foot eagle putt. The shot earned her Golf Channel’s Volvik Shot of the Day but didn’t leave her totally comfortable with what might have looked like an easy putt.
“It wasn't a gimme by any means, so I grinded it out and made a good six-footer and it was nice,” said Creamer. “It was a nice way to finish.”
The nine-time LPGA Tour winner shot a 4-under-par 67 and sits in third heading into Saturday’s second-round, two shots off the lead. Creamer is looking to best her T3 finish at the HSBC LPGA Brasil Cup 2012, her highest finish of the season, although it came in an unofficial event. She’s been playing consistent, solid golf all season, recording five top-25 finishes, but has been having some effective practices that she hopes will help her peak in time for a stretch of major championships coming up on the schedule.
“I don't want it to peak too soon by any means, but yes, I do feel the work I've been doing is starting to pay off,” said Creamer. “I've had a lot of really good practices on my week off, but I think last week was probably one of the best ones I've had in a long time.”
Creamer says translating perfect practice to tournaments has been a challenge for her all season.
“I don't know what it was,” she said. “We did a lot of video work, and something just really clicked. I feel my golf swing a lot more than what I have in the last several tournaments, and I can do it on a driving range day in and day out. It's just taking it to the golf course.”
Shorter the Better? At 6,155 yards, the par 71 Bay Course at Seaview Resort will be the shortest course the LPGA Tour plays on in the 2012 season. But shorter doesn’t necessarily mean easier, especially with the tricky, small greens players will be battling this week.
“I've always grown up on tree-lined narrow golf courses, making -- you have to shape the ball, work the ball, do all types of things, have creativity,” said Creamer. “That's what I like. I enjoy that. I don't think it necessarily has to be 7,000 yards to prove somebody is a good golfer.”
Three Day Challenge…With the change up of a three-day event on the schedule this week, some pros took different approaches to how they were going to manage a shortened tournament week. Mariajo Uribe sits just two shots off the lead after shooting an opening-round 67 and feels good about her strong start. She came into the week trying to treat it as a regular four-day tournament.
“It's kind of the same thing,” said Uribe. “You definitely want to be in contention from the beginning, but just stay patient. It's kind of good, too, because if you have a good round, it's only three days, so that kind of gets you the head start for the weekend.”
Creamer sees it as a challenging set-up, one that pushes players for near-perfect rounds each day.
“Three-day tournaments, I think they're almost harder than four days because you have no room for error,” said Creamer. “If you start off on the wrong foot, then you're chasing the whole time. You don't really have that much golf left, but if you put yourself in contention it makes it a lot easier going into tomorrow and Sunday.”
Windy (Atlantic) City… The Bay Course at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club sits on the coast of Reeds Bay, in viewing distance from Atlantic City and in the perfect location to receive strong Jersey shore winds. Players said windy first-round conditions made the course even tougher to play than its reputation. Paula Creamer, who shot 4-under on Friday, said longer club selection came into play when shooting into the wind.
“It played tough,” said Creamer. “The golf course definitely played hard. It was very windy. The harder holes on the golf course were even more hard. I don't even know how to explain it, except to say even more how tough it was. A lot of long clubs into some par 4s that normally we're hitting 6, 7-irons and now we're hitting woods into.”
Mariajo Uribe, who is tied for third with Creamer said the wind was definitely a factor, especially closer to the water.
Tweet of the Day: “Found a few men in the service watching out at the @ShopRiteLPGA !! Great to c them out there :)” -- @Lexi.
Of Note…2011 ShopRite LPGA Classic champion Brittany Lincicome has some work ahead her in order to defend her title this week. The Rolex Rankings No.12 carded a 1-over par 72 in her opening round and sits seven shots off the lead...Coming off her first-career victory at the Sybase Match Play Championship, Azahara Munoz carded a 2-under par 69 and is currently T6 with six others….I.K. Kim will be announced as a Special Olympics Ambassador tomorrow at a press conference at 2p.m. ET at the ShopRite LPGA Classic media center.
THE MODERATOR: All right. We'd like to welcome Rolex Ranking's No. 7 Stacy Lewis into the interview room. Also our current co-leader after this point in the first round. Great round of 6-under 65 today. Can you take me through the round and what was working well for you out there?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. The first nine holes were pretty nice. There wasn't much wind. And made a couple birdies and didn't really have anything going. And then we were on -- I guess we were making the turn onto 1, and the wind just came out of nowhere. So it got a little crazy on the Back 9, but I played really well, and one bad swing on 3 and made double, but then I made back -- or on 2 and made double, and came back and made eagle on 3, so that really kind of got things going and then I made a few putts coming in, so it was nice.
THE MODERATOR: Take me through that turn a little bit. It was birdie, double bogey, eagle. Interesting little stretch. How do you keep your emotions intact and what do you do when you go through a little bit of a stretch like that?
STACY LEWIS: I think more than anything on this golf course you're going to hit some bad shots or get a bad bounce and you're going to make a bogey or double. So I knew that coming into the week, and I just took it for what it was. And I knew I had a par-5 coming and I could make it up.
I hit some good shots and I stayed patient. It was really hard. You really kind of had to stay in the moment and couldn't get too far ahead of yourself.
THE MODERATOR: And we talked a little yesterday about how you're feeling about your game, but after today looking at it do you really feel at this point in the season your game's really coming together?
STACY LEWIS: I do, especially on this golf course, because I haven't played well here. So certain holes just don't really fit my eye, so that's what gives me more confidence than anything that I was able to still get up there and hit some good shots.
And I've been playing well all year, so it's fun to be out there just going to play and not working on your golf swing or working on your stroke or anything. It's just nice to just play golf.
Q. Stacy, could you go through 1, 2, 3 again, 1, how long was the birdie putt, what happened on 2 and could you give us yardage, clubs and putt on 3?
STACY LEWIS: I'll do my best. Let's see, the first hole, I made probably about a 25-footer for birdie, and then 2 was playing really long. I had about 180 to the hole, but it was dead into the wind, so I hit about a 200-yard shot and actually went over the green into the long grass and then chipped it out past the hole and then three-putted.
And then 3, I had -- I know I had 176 to the front. The flag was on probably maybe about 20, so almost probably 195 to the hole, and I hit 6-iron. It was straight downwind. Hit that to about six feet and then made that putt for eagle.
Q. You're talking about how much fun it is to go out there and not be working on anything. How much does confidence play into the way you're playing right now?
STACY LEWIS: Well, I think confidence is everything for me right now. Just even I guess going back to the Kraft last year I've gained so much confidence. I'd see my name on a leaderboard and being four or five-under and being okay with that and wanting to make more birdies instead of trying to protect the lead and just stay where you are.
And it's all confidence, I mean for me. If I'm comfortable over a shot and I feel good about it, I'm probably going to hit a good shot. And so good shots breed more confidence and so I just try to keep it rolling.
Q. If you had to pinpoint one thing in your game that you are the most confident in right now, what would that be?
STACY LEWIS: I would say driving the ball. I'm driving the ball really well. I guess almost you can go back to probably January or February I started driving it pretty good. It takes so much pressure off your game. You're in the fairway all the time. You're not having to chip out of the trees and then get up-and-down from 100 yards or do anything like that. So I think -- I don't know, I just step on the tee and I feel really good about it.
Q. And you're apparently averaging 264 yards this season in the fairway. How did you get there?
STACY LEWIS: I started working with a new trainer about two years ago, and we've really done a lot to strength wise to help my golf swing. It's a lot of core, a lot of legs are areas that we found that I was pretty weak, and so it caused some of the things in my golf swing to go wrong, and so I'm kind of working with a trainer that's working with my golf instructor, and so everything is just kind of on the same path and I've gotten a lot stronger and just hitting the ball further, so it's really nice.
Q. You said the course, you've had trouble having the course fit your eye. Is it just a matter of swinging better that it fits this year or is it something that you put in your head, like, hey, I'm not going to worry about it; just go play?
STACY LEWIS: It's hard because certain tee shots I get up on and just the way the wind's blowing, I don't know, it's just hard for me to line up and really trust it. So it helps that I'm playing well that I'm trusting my golf swing.
I know I came in here last year and wasn't trusting my golf swing. And so first you're not trusting where you're lined up, and then you're not trusting where the ball is going to go and that's usually not a good combination. So I think just knowing that I'm playing well has helped the golf course fit me a little more.
Q. I guess just go through your round. You had two birdies on the front, two on the back, and then your eagle on 9?
MIKA MIYAZATO: Yes.
Q. All right. How was your birdie on 9? How did that go?
MIKA MIYAZATO: Eagle on 9. First time of the year.
Q. First time of the year? Okay. Congrats.
MIKA MIYAZATO: Second shot was I think 220. I hit with a 7-wood. I thought I was more short on the green. But it landed about 18 feet or 20 feet (from the pin).
Q. 20-foot putt?
MIKA MIYAZATO: Left-to-right putt.
Q. Are you glad you got your round in? How are conditions? Was the wind picking up towards the water or how was the wind today?
MIKA MIYAZATO: Back 9 is pretty hard in the wind, but I hit a little contour shot and the (inaudible) shot.
Q. I guess going into tomorrow what parts of your game did you think today are really going to help you out for the rest of the weekend? What was really clicking today?
MIKA MIYAZATO: I hit almost perfect, but I think my putting was more off today and my second shot gave me more confidence.
Q. Have you ever played in the first group before?
MIKA MIYAZATO: Yes, I have.
Q. Do you usually score this well when you did?
MIKA MIYAZATO: Not really. Today is the first time.
Q. Is it less pressure when you're the first ones? I mean there's not as much people around. Are you more relaxed?
MIKA MIYAZATO: I want more of a crowd.
Q. You want more crowd?
MIKA MIYAZATO: Yeah. That makes me more comfortable. Yeah. Like the 18th hole.
Q. So you do better when there's bigger crowds?
MIKA MIYAZATO: Yeah, yeah.
Q. Did you think you had a hole-in-one on 17? It was close; right?
MIKA MIYAZATO: Yeah. Like three feet.
Q. Would you have gotten a new car or anything?
THE MODERATOR: I think it's hole 15 is the only hole. So tomorrow.
MIKA MIYAZATO: (Laughs).
THE MODERATOR: All right. We'd like to welcome Rolex Ranking's No. 13 Paula Creamer into the interview room. Congratulations. A great round today, especially a great way to finish. Can you take me through the day out there and what was working well for you?
PAULA CREAMER: It played tough. The golf course definitely played hard. It was very windy. The harder holes on the golf course were even more hard. I don't even know how to explain it, except to say even more how tough it was, a lot of long clubs into some par 4s that normally we're hitting 6, 7-irons and now we're hitting woods into.
Overall I hit the ball really well. Didn't make too many mistakes. I still had two bogeys, but I gave myself a lot of opportunities and just kind of was plugging along.
The scores weren't super low early on that I saw, so I knew just try to do what I can and made some birdies early on, and finished with an eagle, which is always nice.
THE MODERATOR: Can you take me through that eagle on 18?
PAULA CREAMER: Yeah. I hit driver, 3-wood around about 235 it was to the hole, and you know, I hit it pretty good and just kind of went up to about five and a half, six feet, and it wasn't a gimme by any means, so I grinded it out and made a good six-footer and it was nice. It was a nice way to finish.
THE MODERATOR: We've talked a lot this season about the changes you've made in your swing and what you've been working on. Do you feel like your game is starting to peak and is this a good time knowing the majors that are coming up?
PAULA CREAMER: Well, I don't want it to peak too soon by any means, but yes, I do feel the work I've been doing is starting to pay off. I've had a lot of really good practices on my week off, but I think last week was probably one of the best ones I've had in a long time.
I don't know what it was. We did a lot of video work, and something just really clicked, and I feel my golf swing a lot more than what I have in the last several tournaments, and you know, I can do it on a driving range day in and day out. It's just taking it to the golf course.
And then when you get conditions like this where it's windy and you have to hit different shots, it makes it even harder to (not) revert back to your bad habits, but I've just been really trying to stick with it because when it's good, it's really good. I know that. I can feel it, and I just have to keep persevering through it.
Q. Paula, with an event like this only being 54 holes is there the idea that you have to throw in a super low number somewhere to win, that it's going to take a 65 or 64 or lower?
PAULA CREAMER: Well, definitely 65 today was a great score. The golf course played hard. But three-day tournaments, I think they're almost harder than four days because you have no room for error. If you start off on the wrong foot, then you're chasing the whole time. You don't really have that much golf left, but if you put yourself in contention it makes it a lot easier going into tomorrow and Sunday.
I like it. I think it puts a premium on trying to have as many good holes as you possibly can, and you can't backpedal. But it is. I think it's a little bit different mindset, a little bit more aggressive at times, because you just can't make those mistakes and birdies are where it comes down to, especially on this golf course.
Q. Speaking of this golf course, it's the shortest one you play all year, and we have a pretty good forecast for the weekend. It seems the wind is going to die down and you're going to have some good scoring conditions out there hopefully. Is this something that you feel is a really good thing for the LPGA Tour or do you wish the courses were longer in general or do we need more courses like this?
PAULA CREAMER: Well, I mean I've always grown up on tree-lined narrow golf courses, making -- you have to shape the ball, work the ball, do all types of things, have creativity. That's what I like. I enjoy that. I don't think it necessarily has to be 7,000 yards to prove somebody is a good golfer.
If you can hit a 10-yard fade into a hole or have a tree in the middle of the fairway and you have to work around it, that to me is what golf is all about and it always has been. You know, technology and obviously equipment has changed the game.
But I do. I like golf courses like this. I've always played well when you have kind of -- you have to think your way around. It's not necessarily take your driver and just pound it down there, you can hit it anywhere type of thing.
I do. I think that we need some golf courses like this. It just kind of is fun to play.
Q. Does it showcase the LPGA players' talents better?
PAULA CREAMER: I mean it's 50/50. I mean yes and no. There's going to be a lot of birdies made. I do think that we're a very good tour. We have a lot of great long players and we have a lot of great players that don't hit it quite as far but are great wedge players.
You know, what looks better, 15-under par or 7-under, I don't know. As long as you're near the top of the leaderboard, I guess that's all that really matters.
Q. Quick question also on your swing. You said that something clicked in this last week. Can you give us a little bit more detail on what that was or is it just a general feeling?
PAULA CREAMER: No. It's specifically more my downswing. I've always fought setting my wrists, taking it back and especially now after halfway back having a fully set wrist. I've really struggled with that basically my whole career, and then when I had thumb surgery it made it even worse because I lost a lot of range of motion; and that's starting to come back. I use a swing guide and things like that, but mainly my downswing is more just straight down instead of basically I'm cutting across. That's my miss and I start hitting these fades.
And for some reason right now I can just really feel it I guess dropping into the slot kind of thing, and I haven't been able to feel that for a while. And that's where I can gain my power, and I've kept up with the girls today which is a good thing for me.
Q. Paula, you mentioned yesterday that this course is kind of special for you for obvious reasons. Is there something like specific to the course that brings out the best in your golf?
PAULA CREAMER: Just I think the greens, they're small, they're tiny and there's certain spots you can't miss. And I'm a very good iron player. That's one of my strengths has always been my irons and my wedges and it puts a premium on that out here. And I feel that I constantly am giving myself looks at birdies, and that's what you have to have. In conditions like this it puts even more of a premium on hitting the middle of the greens and you're never very far away.
Q. You teed off in the sunshine and it was pretty nice. How did the conditions change? Did you find the winds shifting or coming from a different direction than in the practice rounds?
PAULA CREAMER: Definitely. When I first started out it was sort of left-to-right, and it still kind of stayed that way but then it started to change and then kind of went back. My aunt went and got my umbrella. I didn't have it. I was freezing at one point and then I got hot at the end of the day. It was like the British Open out there.
But I like playing this golf course harder. I think it -- like I said, you have to hit good iron shots. The par 4s play a lot tougher. When you're hitting 5 and 7-woods into these narrow little skinny greens, it brings a lot of trouble into play.
So it does. It affects that. But the weather, like you said, I guess it's not going to be nice here on the weekend, so you're going to have to make even more birdies.
Q. I guess just run me through your day, just going down your card, you had a double on 2?
MARIAJO URIBE: Uh-huh.
Q. Answered with birdie, par, birdie. How did that stretch go for you?
MARIAJO URIBE: Well, No. 2 is a really tough hole, and the way it's playing it's more like No. 2 is a par-5 and No. 3 is a par-4.
So I had a bad tee shot and hit it in the fescue and just thought go in with a bogey and I hit it in the green and three-putted.
It's hard. The greens are bumpy. It's the afternoon. It's really windy. But I just kept thinking in the moment and hitting little golf shots, like I knew I was going to have a couple of birdie chances at the end on No. 9, so I just stayed patient.
Q. Everyone said there are times, especially on the par-5s, since this is kind of a short course, that there's chances for birdies. Are you kind of pushing for it and chancing it, go for those birdies?
MARIAJO URIBE: Yeah. They're playing, like 9 and 18 today they were playing downwind, so we could go for it, but on 18, same thing, I hit it in the fescue, so I was just trying to get it up-and-down and get a par. So it's kind of like a risk and reward because if you hit a bad shot, then you're going to have some trouble. But it's a good course, really short par-4. I went for it today, and just hitting good shots, and I'm positive for tomorrow.
Q. Now the course is the shortest course all season. Does that play to your strengths?
MARIAJO URIBE: Yeah. I think I am a little bit long, but I'm hitting it straight with my driver, so I think that's helping me out and just hitting really good hybrids into the par-5s and stuff like that, so just stay patient and making putts.
Q. Obviously the wind's been a factor. Did you see it on the front nine or back nine worse, because I think it died down a little bit in the afternoon.
MARIAJO URIBE: Yeah. It was really bad, especially near the bay and stuff, it's always bad, but I just felt I was really consistent throughout today and I haven't played in the morning yet, so hopefully we'll see how it goes.
Q. This is a three-day tournament. Is that kind of more of a thing in your head where there's no room for error or you kind of just treat it as a normal four-day?
MARIAJO URIBE: It's kind of the same thing. You definitely want to be in contention from the beginning, but just stay patient. It's kind of good, too, because if you have a good round, it's only three days, so that kind of gets you the head start for the weekend.