Manulife Financial LPGA Classic
Grey Silo Golf Course
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Pre-Tournament Notes and Interview
June 19 & 20, 2012
Suzann Pettersen, Rolex Rankings No. 5
Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 2
Paula Creamer, Rolex Rankings No. 11
Lorie Kane, Rolex Rankings No. 191
Alena Sharp, Rolex Rankings No. 232
Jennifer Kirby, Sponsor Invite
All Around the World… Equipped with 182 active international LPGA Tour players representing 27 countries, the LPGA Tour stopping in 12 different countries and the top-six in the Rolex Rankings representing six different countries, there is no doubt the LPGA Tour has gone global.
"We have top players represented from all over the world," said Rolex Rankings No. 5 and Norwegian Suzann Pettersen. "I think it's important that our Tour goes global. I think it's nice for us to show kids our skills and talents in the countries where we're all well represented by good players."
On the cusp of Shanshan Feng making history when she became the first player from the mainland China to win on the LPGA Tour at the Wegmans LPGA Championship, top ranked American Stacy Lewis relishes in the opportunity to interact with players from different cultures.
"We play in so many different countries all over the world, and I don't know, it's cool to me," said Lewis. "I think it's cool for us to meet players from all over the world, see the different cultures and how we all interact. I don't know, it's different, but it's a lot of fun for us."
"It's definitely made my life busier, I can tell you that," said Lewis." I don't really think it's changed me at all. I'm still the same person, I'm still going out there and working hard, but I don't know if that's really quite hit home yet."
After her victory at the ShopRite LPGA Classic, Lewis became the top ranked American in the Rolex Rankings and moved to the top spot in the Rolex Player of the Year standings. Despite an increased amount of recognition, Lewis still hasn't come to the realization that she is now the top ranked American in the world.
"I mean, I know I'm the top American, but I don't know if I still quite believe it myself and I don't know when that will happen," said Lewis. "But it's cool because I can tell that people are starting to recognize me more and asking more of my time and more autographs and things like that. So it's really cool that people are finally taking notice of it, and I don't know, I've just got to keep playing good."
Friends Forever… Paula Creamer came to Waterloo, Ontario and found a new best friend in five-year-old Allison. Creamer recently wrote Allison a letter and invited her to not only come out and follow her for 18 holes but to coordinate matching outfits for the day.
Allison took Creamer up on her offer and the duo hit the course on Wednesday in their matching pink shirt and white skort ensemble. The young five-year-old then surprised Creamer with a matching pink diamond bracelet which Creamer wore proudly during her pre-tournament press conference.
"I wrote her a letter several months ago and I said if I ever get to meet you in Waterloo for the tournament, you can walk with me 18 holes," said Creamer. We talked about wearing pink and white, and now we have matching bracelets."
According to Annaert's brother Tyler, Creamer now has a newfound best friend in Waterloo who plans on coming out and watching the nine-time LPGA Tour winner on the weekend.
Annert's father, Rick Annaert helped coordinate the meeting between his daughter and Creamer. Annert is currently the President & CEO of Manulife Securities, the title sponsor of this week's Manulife Financial LPGA Classic.
Having Some Fun… Suzann Pettersen arrived late Tuesday evening to the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic after she had a little bit of fun at the CVS Caremark Charity Classic. The CVS Caremark Charity Classic pairs some of the best LPGA, PGA and Champions Tour players together in a best ball style format.
Pettersen played with Fred Funk and the duo combined to shoot a two-day 19-under total and finish in a tie with Lexi Thompson and Corey Pavin. LPGA Tour member Morgan Pressel teamed with Jay Haas to shoot a combined 21-under par and take home the title.
"I played with Fred Funk," said Pettersen. "I looked down at him for two days. It's a great charity event. They get pretty much whoever they want to come and play, very popular event, and it's great to be able to raise the amount of money that they do for all different local charities. The Eagles played at the dinner. They get it all. It's great fun."
Pettersen now has her sights set on this week's Manulife LPGA Classic where she is feeling confident about her game after coming off a tied for second finish at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. This week's generous fairways fits right in to Pettersen's game but this nine year LPGA Tour veteran will take advantage of Wednesday's pro-am to adapt to the green speed.
"I've heard the fairways are fairly generous, so hopefully that will put you up to hit a lot of greens," said Pettersen. "My long game feels very solid these days, so I'm excited to go out there today and see, kind of adjust to the conditions, adjust to the speed of the greens."
The LPGA Tour heads north for the first of two Canadian events this season. The Manulife Financial LPGA Classic will feature a field of 144 players at the heralded Grey Silo Golf Course in Ontario, competing for a $195,000 prize. The inaugural event is one of five tournaments added to the Tour's 2012 schedule.
Coming off a win at the season's second Major, Shanshan Feng is coming in hot this weekend. She made history after winning the Wegmans LPGA Championship as she became the first golfer from mainland China to win a Major on any Tour. Joining fellow first-time winners Jessica Korda and Azahara Munoz, Feng was awarded a Rolex and a $375,000 check. She made the Rolex Rankings move of the week, jumping up five spots to become No. 5 in the world.
Other players slated to be in the field this week include No. 11 Paula Creamer, No. 4 Suzann Pettersen and No. 2 Stacy Lewis.
Creamer and Pettersen remain in the hunt for their first victory this season. The two played aggressively in Rochester, skipping around the top of the leaderboard and ultimately pulling off top-10 finishes. With the title up for grabs, both Creamer and Pettersen are eager to land in the winner's circle this week.
Lewis has definitely made a statement on Tour this year and is chasing eight-time winner Yani Tseng for the top spot in the Rolex Rankings. She became a Rolex First-Time winner at the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship and has since clinched two more titles her the last five appearances. In just three weeks Lewis has jumped from No. 7 to No. 2 in the world.
Rolex Rankings No. 119 Gerina Piller turned some heads at the Wegmans LGPA Championship when she became one of the leaders in the last round. Even with a double-bogey on the 17th hole, Piller carded a career-low 68 to finish with a tie for sixth along with No. 6 Ai Miyazato and No. 20 Karrie Webb. This marked the first cut she made at a Major in her two years on the LPGA Tour.
No stopping now… Canadian Lorie Kane is currently in her 16th year on the LPGA Tour and this veteran shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Kane has recorded four LPGA Tour victories since her rookie season in 1996 and received the 1998 Heather Farr Player Award and 2000 William and Mousie Powell Award.
This year, Kane has notched two top-30 finishes including a season-best tied for 22nd at the ISPS Handa Australian Open. Equipped with a new workout regime and a newly found excitement for the game, Kane admits retiring is nowhere in her near future.
"I've only been 16 years on Tour, so to me that's not a full gamut," said Kane. "I'm having fun. I'm probably having more fun now than I've ever had, so it's exciting to see. Physically, I don't think I've been in better shape, very pain-free."
Kane's 16 years on tour has served as motivation for several young Canadians including rookies Rebecca Lee Bentham and long hitter Maude-Aimee Leblanc each have promising careers on the LPGA Tour.
"These younger players, as Canadians, we can win," said Kane. "We need to believe that more and take it to the golf course, and as Sean Foley (Kane's coach) says to me, 'go out there and see how you stack up, because that's what it is'".
Oh Canada… With now two events in Canada and an ever growing amount of Canadians on the LPGA Tour, women's golf in Canada is on the rise. There are currently nine active members of the LPGA Tour including Lorie Kane, Maude-Aimee Leblanc, Rebecca Lee Bentham, Samantha Richdale, Alena Sharp, Jessica Shepley and Stephanie Sherlock who are all set to compete at this week's Manulife Financial LPGA Classic.
"I think it's great for golf in Canada," said Alena Sharp. "There's a lot more ladies on the LPGA Tour from Canada now. A few years ago there were only two of us and now we have, I think, almost 10. To have two events in Canada, I think it's a great way for people to come out and watch us."
One of the only Canadian players left from her genre, Kane finds it refreshing to see all the young guns from Canada find their way atop many leaderboards.
"I think when I was a rookie in 1996, we had about 10 girls back then, too," said Kane. "I'm the only one left from that genre, and along came Alena, and we do have a great handful of young women who are playing and Jennifer's (Kirby) on her way to finish school and to get out with us on Tour."
Homecoming for Sharp… This week's Manulife Financial LPGA Classic will serve as a homecoming for Canadian Alena Sharp. Born in Hamilton, Canada, located just a short drive from Waterloo, Sharp is expecting a large gallery including family and friends.
"Hamilton's not too far away and my parents will be here and some members from Brantford where I grew up playing," said Sharp. "It'll be great to see them. I think the last time I had a big crowd was the London tournament back in 2006, so I'm really thankful that Manulife picked up this event and we can come back here again next year and the following year, and it's just nice to have the locals come out and watch."
Sharp was able to return home to play the Grey Silo Golf Course in August and admits this week's course will prove to be a good test for fellow LPGA Tour players. Sharp's high ball trajectory could serve as the advantage she needs to battle the course's firm greens.
"I played the course last year in August and I must say that it's in great shape," said Sharp. "It looks like no one's played the greens, there's hardly any ballmarks on the greens, so they're a little firm, so you have to hit high shots in. I think that plays to my advantage because I hit the ball high. When it gets windy, the downwind holes, it's tough to stop it. But it's in great shape and I think it's a great test for the girls this week. It will be fun to see how low we can go."
Hard work pays off… Jennifer Kirby might still be an amateur but this Canadian amateur already boasts an impressive golf resume. Kirby just completed her junior year at the University of Alabama where she recently helped lead her team to a victory at the 2012 NCAA Championships.
"When you win like for your team in a national setting, it was incredible, and it's just, you know, it's the icing on the cake for a good year for me and our team," said Kirby. "So it's nice because you're around those girls every day for an entire year and just for all your hard work to pay off, it was really special."
Kirby's already impressive collegiate golf career includes a victory at the 2011 Mason Rudolph Fall Preview and was named the 2010 SEC Freshman of the Year.
Community Support… To say the community of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada is behind this week's Manulife Financial LPGA Classic would be an understatement. Volunteer sign-up for the inaugural event kicked off in January and in a mere 30 hours later, all spots were taken.
I think that golf is growing in Canada and the fans love it, tons of people came out," said amateur Jennifer Kirby. "Volunteers were gone in, I think, just over a day. So we love having people here and watching golf."
A total of 1,200 volunteers will be on-hand this week insuring the success of the tournament for the players, fans and all others involved. Volunteers will be assisting with on the driving range, in the clubhouse and many other areas.
"I think that this event's going to be packed with people," said Alena Sharp. "As Jennifer said, the volunteers sold out within 30 hours, so it's going to be a great week."
MODERATOR: I'd like to welcome Suzann Pettersen to her pre-tournament press conference at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic. Suzann, thanks for joining us.
This is the second LPGA tournament now in Canada. You previously won the 2009 CN Canadian Women's Open. Obviously you're feeling pretty comfortable in Canada. Why don't you speak about it?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, it's great to be here in Waterloo for the first time, my first time. Got in last night, excited to be back in Canada. We always have fantastic support from the fans here, all over Canada, doesn't really matter where we go. It's probably one of the best supported events we have throughout the year and I'm excited to be here. It's great to have a new tournament, Manulife, here in Ontario. I'm very happy to be here and excited to see the course later on today.
MODERATOR: Keeping on the international topic, there are currently now the top six in the Rolex rankings are from six different countries. Can you just talk a little bit about how global the LPGA Tour has become?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I just think that women's golf these days is pretty good these days. We have top players represented from all over the world. I think it's important that our Tour goes global. I think it's nice for us to show kids our skills and talents in the countries where we're all well represented by good players.
For me, it's very exciting that we have another major in Europe and then also major tournaments in Asia, and then big tournaments in America, North America, Canada included. So it's a bright future for the LPGA and it's good to be a part of.
MODERATOR: I know you haven't played the golf course yet because you recently played in the CVS Charity Classic. Who did you play with and how was it?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I played with Fred Funk. I looked down at him for two days. It's a great charity event. Brad Faxon, Billy Andrade put on a fantastic show. They get pretty much whoever they want to come and play, very popular event, and it's great to be able to raise the amount of money that they do for all different local charities. The Eagles played at the dinner. They get it all. It's great fun. I think it's great to interact with the guys inside the ropes. You kind of get to know them on a little different basis. Yesterday we played with ‑‑ Fred and I were paired with Yani and Jeff Sluman and he was just a great character.
MODERATOR: You're coming off a tied‑for‑second finish at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. How's your game shaping up?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: It's pretty good. I'm very excited. I finished second again over the last two days. Second place is starting to come back. My game is great. I had a good off week last week after Rochester. Rochester was a very tough test, it was mentally draining. Those fairways aren't really wide and the fairways are rough. Well, the rough was really rough. So I needed a little break and a few days of rest. Excited to start these three weeks here in Canada and these three weeks with the U.S. Open.
MODERATOR: Yani seems to be kind of slipping in the Rolex rankings a little bit. Does that kind of open the door, do you think, for yourself and other players to move up?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: You know what, I don't really look at stats and rankings throughout the season. If you know what you're doing and you feel confident in what you do and you know you put in the work you feel is needed, that's all I can do. At the end of the year it might be more interesting to see where you're at and how everyone's standing, but throughout the season, I mean, you're going through ups and downs.
Yani obviously came off very strongly in the beginning of the year. It's tough. I mean, I guess even Rory shows that we're human every now and again. It's tough to perform at the top level week in and week out. You know what, you wake up every morning, sometimes the body feels like this, sometimes the body feels like that. You've just got to try and make the most out of it.
Q. How do you feel about playing this week in the humidity?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, there's a reason why I moved from Norway to Florida. Now that I came from south to here, it's almost warmer here. I much rather prefer the heat than the cold, but this is a bit warmer than I expected it to be.
Q. Warmer than the last time you were in Canada?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah, I think so. Even coming off the airplane at 9:00 last night, the heat just kind of hit me in the face. So it will be nice, the ball will be flying a long way.
Q. Shanshan had a breakthrough victory at Wegmans, which I'm sure is going to pave the way for a lot of people from China to play golf. How important do you think that is?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, I think we just secured another five events in China with her win. Shanshan is a fantastic player. She's young, she's very true. I mean, she's just herself and I love that.
(Cell phone interruption.)
Do you like this song, guys? Sorry, that was my mom. I haven't talked to her this morning.
No, I thought it was a great winner at the Rochester LPGA Championship. You know what, it's good that we see different winners. She probably wasn't the one that people thought was going to run away with it, but she played fantastic, bogey free, and all the credit to her. I guess we're going to China in a few years.
Q. What are the strengths of your game, do you think? I know you haven't played the course, but from what you've heard, do you think those strengths will be suitable for this course?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I've heard the fairways are fairly generous, so hopefully that will put you up to hit a lot of greens. My long game feels very solid these days, so I'm excited to go out there today and see, kind of adjust to the conditions, adjust to the speed of the greens. That's probably the most important thing I have to do today. Then I'm off early tomorrow. It's a quick turnaround, but I'm excited. I'm paired with Webby and Azahara, so it's a good paring. So it's nice to start off early on Thursday.
Q. When the players first heard the word Waterloo, what was the response on the Tour, because I'm sure a lot of people were like where's Waterloo exactly?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, being European, Waterloo is more ‑‑ the Battle of Waterloo is not in Canada, it's the other side of the pond. You know what, I'm excited to be here. You learn new stuff, you get to see new places, and you kind of get to interact with the fans in new places. I'm excited to be here, and hopefully the weather can stay like this and we'll have a fantastic week.
Q. Is tomorrow an endurance with the humidity being around 40 degrees, it's going to be so warm. Is it endurance, and how do you kind of cope with that heat going out there because everybody's going to be affected by it?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, I don't really look at that as a big challenge. You just have to make sure you stay hydrated. I think you have to adjust some of the yardages, you probably hit it a little bit further because of the heat, but like I said, I rather prefer the heat than the ice bath.
Q. How does your preparation change arriving on a Wednesday as opposed to Monday? How will it affect you tomorrow?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: You know, it doesn't really matter. My caddie was here, he walked the course the day after we finished in Rochester, so he knows the course. I'll get to see the course today. I'll put a few notices in my yardage book of things that I see. Once you've see the course once and you've adjusted to the conditions, I mean, if you played it once or twice, it doesn't really matter. I'll get to see whatever is to be seen. It might actually save me some energy, coming in more fresh. I'm excited to see this course now.
MODERATOR: All right. I'd like to welcome Stacy Lewis into the interview room for her pre‑tournament press conference. Stacy, thanks for joining us. First off, I guess kind of the obvious question, you're now the No. 1 ranked player in the Rolex Player of Year standings. How does that feel?
STACY LEWIS: It's pretty cool. I mean, it's crazy to think of that just a couple months ago I was pretty far behind Yani, and I played some really good golf the last couple weeks and it's been fun, but I have to keep doing it. I want to be on top of that list in November, so I just have to keep going and keep playing good golf.
Q. This is the LPGA's first time in Waterloo. Can you talk a little bit about the course and how it's set up?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, it played a little different today, we had more wind today and I think they put some water on it last night, but it's definitely a bomber's course. If you hit it far, you can carry some bunkers and have a lot of wedges into the green. So I think length is a definite advantage on this course, but then the greens are pretty tough, there's a lot of little humps and bumps in them, they're tough to read. And the main thing on this course is the wind. If the wind blows, it plays completely different. But overall it's in great shape, the greens are rolling really well, and it's going to be a good week.
MODERATOR: You got your second victory of the year at the ShopRite LPGA Classic and then you went straight into Wegmans. Did you have any time last week to celebrate or just kind of relax?
STACY LEWIS: I know I went home, I got home Monday night and spent the first two days I was home just on the beach relaxing. I was exhausted after those two weeks. I wasn't really sure how I would play coming off of the win in Rochester and I played really well. It all caught up to me in the last week, so I spent most of the time relaxing and just getting ready for the next couple.
Q. Hi, Stacy. Jordan Ercit from the Waterloo Chronicle. I think Richard Kuypers likes to brag about how when he brought you up to Waterloo the last time, you've been on fire since then and maybe that's been the key to your rise up the rankings. In your words, what do you think has helped you over the last few weeks to put up so many top five finishes?
STACY LEWIS: I would say as far as golf, it's been my putting. I think I've putted really well. Even when I haven't hit it that well, I made some key putts to keep rounds going. I think more than anything, though, it's just confidence and knowing you can ‑‑ I think from when I won in Mobile, it's knowing that you can get up on that tee and you can win and you're not just playing to make a cut or hopefully finish in the top 10. You're there to win the golf tournament, and it's just a completely different mindset knowing that you can do that.
MODERATOR: Stacy, I don't know if you know this, but the top six now in the Rolex ranking are from six different countries. Can you just speak about how global the LPGA is now?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I think that says it right there. I don't know what else you say to it because that's our Tour, and I think I would like to see more Americans up there just because I guess it's basically an American Tour, but I think it's really good. We play in so many different countries all over the world, and I don't know, it's cool to me. I think it's cool for us to meet players from all over the world, see the different cultures and how we all interact. I don't know, it's different, but it's a lot of fun for us.
Q. Hi. I'm curious if the recent run of success has sort of changed your life, and you're obviously a face of the LPGA now.
STACY LEWIS: Right. It's definitely made my life busier, I can tell you that. I don't really think it's changed me at all. I'm still the same person, I'm still going out there and working hard, but I don't know if that's really quite hit home yet. I mean, I know I'm the top American, but I don't know if I still quite believe it myself and I don't know when that will happen. But it's cool because I can tell that people are starting to recognize me more and asking more of my time and more autographs and things like that. So it's really cool that people are finally taking notice of it, and I don't know, I've just got to keep playing good.
Q. Follow up, I'm hearing a lot of numbers thrown out like minus 15, minus 20 come Sunday. What do you see?
STACY LEWIS: I think it's going to be pretty low. I think the par 5s are reachable, the par 4s, for somebody that hits it far. I mean, you have wedges into over half of the holes. So you're going to have to make a ton of birdies, probably 4‑ or 5‑under a day and I think you'll be in good shape.
Q. 16 to 20. Okay, thanks.
Q. As someone who's been on the Tour for a few years now, I wonder if it's given you some perspective of what it's like to be a rookie now, and I wonder when you look at this new crop of rookies, what do you think is the hardest lesson they need to learn about life as a pro?
STACY LEWIS: I think the number one mistake, you see it all the time in players just out of college or whatever they're coming out of, and it's they're out there practicing all the time. They are playing 18 holes Monday, they're playing 18 holes Tuesday, they're playing an early 9 holes on Wednesday, and then by the time the tournament comes, they're exhausted. There's always going to be players practicing, but that doesn't mean that you have to be out there all day. So it's really managing your time and doing what you need to do to be successful and not really paying attention to anybody else and not comparing yourself to anybody else. I think you see that a lot out here.
MODERATOR: I'd like to welcome Paula Creamer into the interview room. Paula, thanks for joining us. This week's tournament kind of starts off a three‑week stretch ending at the U.S. Open, which you won in 2009. Can you just talk about how you feel going into this three‑week stretch and how you feel going into this week?
PAULA CREAMER: I had a really good week off last week and starting to hit the ball a lot better. Being in contention is nice, haven't been there for a while, so it was good to have a couple top 10 finishes these last two events. It's been incredible, all the volunteers and the fans. What a welcome to a new event. It's very special, and I think everybody should be very proud of the city of Waterloo for everybody volunteering and coming out.
MODERATOR: This is the LPGA's first time in Waterloo. What are your thoughts on the golf course?
PAULA CREAMER: I mean, it's pretty wide open, but you have to make a lot of birdies this week. It's windy, it was windy today, I know there's not great weather coming in tomorrow, so who knows what's going to happen with that. But it's all about putting the ball in the right spot on the green. There's a lot of wedges into holes, so like I said, you have to make a lot of birdies but there's some tough holes that you have to make par and kind of move on. It depends on where the rules officials put the pin placements really.
Q. How did you find the round in the heat today? You don't seem bothered by it, but was it okay?
PAULA CREAMER: I live in Orlando, Florida, so it's a lot hotter here than it is here, and everybody keeps saying it's so hot here. I don't think so. It's actually very nice and refreshing. But we get to play in all different kinds of climates, and I know that I think on the weekend it's supposed to be a little cooler and whatnot. But you just kind of have to go with it and drink lots of water when it's hot, and hopefully the rain does stay away.
Q. Paula, on a bit of a lighter note, I saw where you tweeted Beau Hossler last week that you would go to prom with him. Has he responded at all?
PAULA CREAMER: I haven't really checked my Twitter from coming to Canada and whatnot, so I'm going to have to look it up. But I said I would go, I would definitely go to prom with him.
Q. Hi, Paula, Jordan Ercit from the Waterloo Chronicle. Just a couple questions. First, obviously a bit of a slow start for you this year, but you've come on the last two tournaments. I know you mentioned the way you've been striking the ball, but any other reasons why you've been playing better the last few weeks?
PAULA CREAMER: You know, it's been a very tough, difficult year for me, just a lot of things going on both on and off the golf course. Losing my grandpa earlier in the year was something that I really had to deal with and it was very difficult. I mean, everybody knows what it's like to have a loss, and he was such a big inspiration in my life and it was hard to not have him there anymore. I've just had to deal with life issues and unfortunately it affected my golf for a little bit.
And at the same time I am trying to do new things with my golf swing and I'm trying to be more consistent and doing things that I've never been able to do after my surgery and I'm actually able to now two years later. Like I said, I haven't been making enough putts and I'm starting to now ‑‑ I'm starting to roll the ball a lot better. Unfortunately when you come out here and you start off slow, you have to really shoot those low rounds to get back into it and I just haven't been able to do that. It's just starting to click now.
Q. The second one, Stacy Lewis was just talking about how people are starting to recognize her and the demands on her time. Obviously it's something you deal with.
PAULA CREAMER: Um‑hmm.
Q. How did you deal with that at first when people started to recognize you, and how difficult is that pressure when people want your time and know who you are?
PAULA CREAMER: Well, I think it's a great thing. It means that you're doing wonderful things on the golf course and off the golf course. The day that I guess it's not there is kind of when you have to look around. I embrace it. You have to learn how to have a balancing act, that's for sure, you know, planning your days, that type of thing of you have your media, you have this, you have that.
I had a little girl come out today and all 18 holes she was with me. Things like that I enjoy. That's the great part of golf, is having people watch you and want to cheer you on and motivate you. I'm obviously very driven as a person, but when you have all these fans come out and wear pink and just root for you, there's nothing better than that.
MODERATOR: Paula, this is the second stop on the LPGA Tour in Canada. Can you speak a little bit about how global the LPGA has gone?
PAULA CREAMER: It is, it has gone very international. I think that it's important to come to Canada because, I mean, they just love women's golf. It's incredible, the support and just how much knowledge they do have for the game, just to be able to have another event here just shows that. The partnership that we have with Manulife hopefully can continue for a very long time because I think on the weekend there's going to be a lot of people out here and that's what we want.
Q. Hi, Paula. I know coming to this tournament, a lot of tournament officials really stressed getting the top 25 players in the world, as many as they can. How would you rate the field for this event?
PAULA CREAMER: I think it's very strong. We've got most of the top players here. You have to look at the three‑week stretch, and we want to come here, we want to play in Waterloo, we want to play in Canada and it shows. I think that, like I said, there's going to be a big crowd and it's a good golf course and it's a new event, so there's going to be people who want to come. But field‑wise, it's as good as any.
Q. You mentioned a girl followed you 18 holes dressed like you?
PAULA CREAMER: Just like me. I wrote her a letter several months ago and I said if I ever get to meet you in Waterloo for the tournament, you can walk with me 18 holes. We talked about wearing pink and white, and now we have matching bracelets. Her little brother ‑‑ her name's Allison. Her little brother Tyler said that her and I are best friends now. So I have a five‑and‑a‑half year old best friend that is going to be wearing pink for a long time.
MODERATOR: Is she coming out to follow you at all?
PAULA CREAMER: I think on the weekend.
Q. The final one was, do you have time to check out some of the new communities you go to when you're playing a new tournament? Is it something you plan to do or have done when you're in Waterloo?
PAULA CREAMER: That's something that I personally try to make a goal of mine. Being out on Tour, this is my 8th year, looking back at the first four or five years, I really never got to go or sightsee and see things where we're going because it's always been this, this, this. Part of me knows that I need to have a balance of getting away from golf also, so I have tried to make an effort. This week it's been a little bit difficult, lots of things going on, new area, but I am. We still have four more days left, so hopefully I can go and look around a little bit and just embrace the new city that we are in.
MODERATOR: I would like to welcome, to my right, Jennifer Kirby, next to her, Alena Sharp, and then next to her, Lorie Kane into their pretournament press conference of the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic.
First, ladies, this is the second event in Canada now on the LPGA schedule. Can you just tell me how you feel about it?
JENNIFER KIRBY: I think it's really great to have another event in Canada. The CN was the main thing for the past however many years they've held it. It was a major at one point. I think that golf is growing in Canada and the fans love it, tons of people came out. Volunteers were gone in, I think, just over a day. So we love having people here and watching golf.
ALENA SHARP: I think it's great for golf in Canada. There's a lot more ladies on the LPGA Tour from Canada now. A few years ago there was only two of us and now we have, I think, almost 10. To have two events in Canada, I think it's great way for people to come out and watch us. They're always gracious fans, and we always seem to sell out almost when we play in Canada, especially here in Ontario. I think that this event's going to be packed with people. As Jennifer said, the volunteers sold out within 30 hours, so it's going to be a great week.
MODERATOR: Can you talk a little bit about how women's golf is growing in Canada?
LORIE KANE: Yeah. Well, to Alena's point, I think when I was a rookie in 1996, we had about 10 girls back then, too. I'm the only one left from that genre, and along came Alena, and we do have a great handful of young women who are playing, and Jennifer's on her way to finish school and to get out with us on Tour.
You know, to talk about Manulife picking up a new event here, I mean, it's obviously quite clear that this area is very (inaudible) in what they have and their idea that it is about community. So the LPGA Tour and women's golf is about community and it's about what we will help leave when we leave here at the end of the tournament so there will be some charitable dollars raised. And it also gives us an opportunity for younger Canadians to play at home, to feel what that's about, and to help build them to be stronger athletes.
MODERATOR: Alena, I believe you were born close to Waterloo. Are you inspecting a big fan base here this week?
ALENA SHARP: Yeah, Hamilton's not too far away and my parents will be here and some members from Brantford where I grew up playing. It'll be great to see them. I think the last time I had a big crowd was the London tournament back in 2006, so I'm really thankful that Manulife picked up this event and we can come back here again next year and the following year, and it's just nice to have the locals come out and watch.
MODERATOR: Jennifer, turn it back over to you. You just came off a big win; your team at the University of Alabama won the NCAAs. Can you just talk about that and how it felt?
JENNIFER KIRBY: Yeah, we won NCAAs this past May. It was amazing. I experienced winning a college event at the end of the spring, and there's no comparison. When you win like for your team in a national setting, it was incredible, and it's just, you know, it's the icing on the cake for a good year for me and our team. So it's nice because you're around those girls every day for an entire year and just for all your hard work to pay off, it was really special.
MODERATOR: Turning back to this week, can each of you just speak on the course conditions? Lorie, I know you haven't played yet, but how your game shapes up coming into this week?
ALENA SHARP: Yeah, I played the course last year in August and I must say that it's in great shape. It looks like no one's played the greens, there's hardly any ballmarks on the greens, so they're a little firm, so you have to hit high shots in. I think that plays to my advantage because I hit the ball high. When it gets windy, the downwind holes, it's tough to stop it. But it's in great shape and I think it's a great test for the girls this week. It will be fun to see how low we can go.
JENNIFER KIRBY: Yeah, I'd say the same thing. If you can hit it long and have some (inaudible) going into the greens, I think you have a big advantage, and there's definitely reachable par 5s, so if you can get it up there on the greens, I think you'll do well.
MODERATOR: Lorie, how do you feel about your game?
ORIE KANE: Very good, things, you know, other than a rather scrappy round Friday at Wegmans LPGA Championship, things are really good and glad to be here and look forward to getting out this afternoon to have a look at the golf course and play tomorrow in the pro-am and tee it up on Thursday.
Q. I'd like to follow up on the course itself. What sort of scores do you see out there and what certain player is going to do well on this course?
LORIE KANE: I think if it's windy like today, I don't think the scores are going to be I think in between 10- and 15-under can possibly win. There are some holes where you have a lot of longer irons in and it's a good mix. It just depends on how the pins are placed and the wind. Today some of the par 5s are downwind because of the wind direction, so it's going to be how the officials set it up, I think.
JENNIFER KIRBY: Yeah, I would agree with that. I mean, yes, it is scorable, but it always depends on the conditions and how they set it up. There could be some tight pins where if the greens are running away from you, it can be a lot harder to get it close. Like she said, there's definitely holes where you can get it back, so it is a good mix. We'll see.
LORIE KANE: I'll let you know in a couple hours.
Q. Hi, Jenn. I'm just wondering if you could talk a little bit -- I know that it might be a little bit out of context because you just won the NCAAs, but could you explain a little bit, there seems to be a growing trend in women's golf to skip the college route, where at least in North America it's still sort of the primary route to go. Can you talk a little bit about your choice and how you feel whether it's helped your game or not?
JENNIFER KIRBY: I would say that since I've been in college I haven't made a lot of changes technically in that sense, but I think it was a good choice for me because I've got a lot of experience just being there and just playing and learning how to win. I mean, there's no price to an education, either. If I can get a free education and play golf for four years and grow as a person, I think it's a good decision. I mean, some people go the other route, but that's totally up to them. I don't know, this was for me, and I think that I'm itching to get out here and play as a professional, but in due time.
LORIE KANE: I think if I can inject some legend experience, I didn't play college golf, I went to school at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, played field hockey and basketball.
I have talked to Jenn and some of the other younger players who were in college and finished college, and said, you know, as of 2006 when the economy went to crap, the Tour, we suffered, and we're just coming out on the other end of it. So the LPGA Tour's only going to be stronger within the next couple of years, and if you were a rookie last year, I think the kids got into maybe, what, eight, 12 tournaments. So that's not a way to start your career.
When I joined the Tour in 1996 we had 41 events. I played 33 tournaments in '97. The experience and the exposure that they will get to life is -- and on top of that, a strong education usually, is a great way to go. So I think for any -- Paula Creamer is probably an example of somebody who was beneficial of coming out at the right time as far as not doing the college thing. Morgan, the same.
But I think right now, the time is better for them to stay in school until we recover.
ALENA SHARP: I also think too, when you go to school, like Jenn said, for me being from Canada, I wanted to go somewhere where I could play all year round. I was thousands of miles from home and had to learn all these things on my own and I grew up. I think that's huge coming out here. If you have a good basis and you know what you're doing, you're probably going to adjust better to Tour life.
Q. Lorie, you've been around a while now, don't take it the wrong way, but are you concerned that too many girls are skipping the college route?
LORIE KANE: I don't know that I'm concerned, I just think that it would be in their best interest -- I'm not talking -- if you don't like school, because school is not for everyone. Trust me, I am the least academically inclined and probably wouldn't have been able to get into an American college and kept the golf ball in the air as well as the books.
I would just like to make sure that our younger players, younger girls particularly, use the opportunities that they have, and it's a struggle to make a living playing golf. I think we've got a lot of talented young players that would grow even more if they had the college experience. I would have loved to have been on a team and experienced playing with a team and winning a championship like Jenn has had, because I come from all team sports and that's one component that I miss. So I'm not concerned, but I definitely would think right now, as Canadians, a couple years in college somewhere would do everybody good.
Q. Just to switch veins a little bit, Alena and Jenn, is there perhaps some water at Brantford, you two being our lead players to come from there?
ALENA SHARP: I think for me, growing up playing at Brantford, it's tight, it made you hit it straight. The greens are undulated, you learn how to play breaking putts, how to read break. There's a lot of great -- as at any golf course, there's a lot of great players that you can play with that makes you bring your game up to the next level, and the members there are just so heartwarming to the juniors, and I think that really helps when you're 15 years old and your dad drops you off at the golf course and you don't know what to do and the members, they take you out and they let you play with them and kind of take you under their wing. So Brantford was great for that for me.
JENNIFER KIRBY: And whenever you walked to the junior girls locker room, there was always a nice picture of Alena. It kind of reminds you that you can do it. And there is a lot of juniors out there and good competitive nature, but she also has the course record there.
Q. What's the record?
ALENA SHARP: 65.
Q. Lorie, one last question. How much longer are you going to stay at this? For a while?
LORIE KANE: A long while.
Q. Are you comfortable working with Sean still?
LORIE KANE: Yes, still working with Sean and Danny. The three of us are a team. There's a major component to that, too, and that's Dr. Craig Davies and my trainer Ty. Physically, I don't think I've been in better shape, very pain-free. And I don't see Sean very often and that says a lot about Sean. I think he gives Danny and I some stuff to work on and he's gotten me back to where I was when I was being very successful.
Q. Do you think that the Tour has addressed, with the retirement of Annika and Lorena, do you think that the really elite players -- obviously there's one classic example of Stacy this week. Do you think the Tour's done a good job of replacing those two players? It was pretty difficult gap to fill and the timing wasn't the best, especially that it came kind of when the economy...
LORIE KANE: Yeah, I don't know if that's the Tour's responsibility or us as players to step up and take over.
Our Tour, I believe the Tour's stronger now than it ever has been in its history, the depth of young players that week in and week out can win. It definitely was -- it was not nice to lose an Annika and a Lorena, but you know, when I think of Yani and how unbelievable she's been playing, the appeal that Paula Creamer has, Morgan, Karrie Webb, Se Ri Pak, and Inkster's going to make a return here shortly, our game is very healthy. We've got -- and not to say Alena Sharp and myself.
I'm going to tell you somebody who's going to win, a Canadian, sometime soon is Maude-Aimee Leblanc. If she gets it all together and can manage herself and can learn to live out here, she's going to be a talent to be reckoned with.
ALENA SHARP: I've never seen a woman hit it as far as she does.
LORIE KANE: I played with her early in Phoenix, I think our final round in Phoenix this year, and high-low, low-high, right-left, left-right, she's got all the shots and it's just now a matter of her getting comfortable with playing. I know Jenn's played on the national team with her.
So yeah, losing Annika and Lorena, sure, at the time was not good, but we've got an awful lot of talented young women who are stepping up in different ways.
ALENA SHARP: I think -- I've been on Tour this is my seventh year, and as I look back to even my rookie year, even the bottom line's gotten tougher. You can't have a bad round anymore and make a cut. You've got to play well every day. Cuts used to be 4-, 5-over, now they're even or 1-over. Everybody's playing better, everybody's stepped up their game, so you just have to be on top of your game every week.
Q. Lorie, I don't know, was it the late '90s when you finished second a bunch of times and then finally broke through? You see often players who contend for ages and maybe never break through because they never get that win. How big was that for you? It was a lot of disappointment, I know it was a long time ago, but how big of --
LORIE KANE: It really wasn't that long ago.
Q. How big --
LORIE KANE: I remember it like it was yesterday.
Q. How big a boost was it to finally break through because there's almost in this sport only one person can win each week. There's a psychological hurdle that has to be climbed before you can become an elite player, and somebody's who's experienced difficulty breaking through and finally did many times, I'm just wondering if you can tell us --
LORIE KANE: Funny you asked that question because we were talking about it yesterday that in 1997 I found myself at our Tour championship in Vegas in a playoff with Annika Sorenstam and Pat Hurst, and Pat lost after the first hole and I lost the tournament on the third hole.
To be honest with you, it was the best thing that ever happened to me because winning at that time, I don't think I was prepared for what that might mean, and finishing second nine times only made it better for me to be prepared when I did win, and there was different circumstances. I backed my way into a second place finish several times, and only probably a few times and the statistics will show that did I ever have the lead and then end up losing.
So a lot of things had to happen in order for you to win. I think what I've learned from my experiences is that you have to be right here in the present, one shot, and play it the best you can. If you allow it to beat you up, it will.
I remember painfully a gentleman coming up to me the week after I had lost in Atlanta in a playoff with Rachel Hetherington and he shook my hand. He said, If you're planning to win tournaments, you have to stop missing three-footers.
And this was a fan. I don't know how he got to me inside the ropes, but he did, and that hurt. But I looked at him and I said, As much as that hurt, you're right. So you suck it up and you move on and you go practice your putting.
But the upside of that is that I gave myself the opportunity. If you're not giving yourself the opportunity, then you need to check things out.
But, you know, it's all encompassed. If I wasn't my age that it says in the media guide and I was 10 years younger, would you be asking me if I was leaving the game or when I would leave the game? Because I've only been 16 years on Tour, so to me that's not a full gamut. Inkster's been on Tour 35 years and nobody's asking Juli when she's going to retire. So I'm having fun. I'm probably having more fun now than I've ever had. So it's exciting to see. It's a great question. These younger players, as Canadians, we can win. We need to believe that more and take it to the golf course, and as Sean Foley says to me, Go out there and see how you stack up, because that's what it is. I'll get off my soapbox now.
Q. Actually, this may be a soapbox question for the three of you. As women who are the face of golf in Canada, particularly for women, thinking about the club level, I don't know how much you get to play like the rest of us play at clubs, but at the club level, the amateur level, do you think these days it's become a friendlier environment for women on courses? Are we sort of getting behind us some of those old basically sexist stereotypes of women golfers and so on. Is this getting into a better era just for the average woman golfer to be welcomed into courses and clubs, and if so, what's accounting for that difference?
LORIE KANE: Again, going back to when I joined the Tour, I remember pro-ams and thinking, where are all the women? There were no businesswomen playing in our pro-ams then. There are more businesswomen playing now, so that must mean that women are taking up the game.
I also think though that as a female, we want to have it right when we get to the stage of coming out to play, say, in the Manulife pro-am on Wednesday. Women are a little bit more intimidated where guys aren't. They'll just come out, and if they miss it on the first tee, it's no big deal. I think as women we tend to want to be a little more perfectionist.
I think, if I'm not wrong, that the biggest growing part of golf here in this country is women and it's keeping women in the game. You might have picked up the game when you were our age, Jenn's younger than me, and then we go off and have families so we tend to lose it for a little while and it's keeping them back. But as far as, you know, what clubs they can be members of, I've never seen that as a problem in our country. It's just keeping women in the game. When they step away, if they so chose to have a family, how do you get them to come back and bring their kids with them?
JENNIFER KIRBY: I think for younger girls there's been a lot of girls for like camps and stuff like that to get them involved, and there's definitely more girls at clubs, like little girls around kind of learning the game and I see them on the ranges and things like that. So I think it's definitely growing in that sense, but I wouldn't really know about the club aspect of it.
ALENA SHARP: I think Lorie and Dawn and Sandra Post, they paved the way for golf in Canada for women. Younger girls are playing more now than when I was a junior. When I started, I was in a boys' camp, there was no girls' camp. Now there's girls' camps. Jenn's right, there are more younger girls at golf courses picking up the clubs and playing. So I think that more exposure to the LPGA and events like this one and the CN events really help getting us out on TV, showing that there's Canadians playing on the LPGA, and I think that helps women's golf in Canada from the junior level all the way up.
Q. Just one followup to that. I have a 20-month old daughter and myself, my peer group have trouble understanding what to do to get them into the game. Any suggestions? This is kind of for you, Lorie, but maybe Jenn and Alena, how to get really young kids involved in the game, especially women, young girls?
LORIE KANE: I have an idea that we have to approach golf like they approach minor soccer, minor hockey, minor basketball, minor baseball. The idea that you join a -- there's a cost and that's what it comes down to, and then it's finding a place for them to play.
So we need to get our clubs to open the doors to kids, young families, and have a limited day membership. Like if you play soccer on Monday and Wednesday, you're going to play golf on Tuesday and Thursday. Instead of thinking -- I come from a family of all girls and I only have one niece that plays of the five, and she didn't play for a length of time and now she's back to playing because her boyfriend plays, and she's 18 years old.
So it's tough, and I think the CN Future Links program is a great program, but it has to be implemented through the clubs and it's getting access to where you can play without having to join a club. I mean, we were lucky, I think very lucky to have the golf courses that we played at.
ALENA SHARP: I think also making it more fun for kids, not standing behind them on the range and telling them do this, do that. Let them hit the ball, that's what my dad did. I didn't play golf that seriously until I was 16. I played hockey, I played soccer in the summer. I wasn't at the golf course every hour of the day like some of these girls are now. There's that birdie ball, that's a fun thing for kids to do, hitting a Velcro ball into a thing, into like a mat.
JENNIFER KIRBY: Also night golf, too.
ALENA SHARP: Yeah. Make it more fun, no so tedious when they're kids. Then they'll really like it if you give them a good foundation for it.
LORIE KANE: As I always say, we can't tell the story without your help, so keep writing.