Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G
Pinnacle Country Club
Pre-Tournament Notes and Interviews
June 28, 2012
Practice makes perfect…This season, Creamer has finished in the top-20 six times including tied for eighth at the ShopRite LPGA Classic and tied for ninth at the Wegmans LPGA Championship, but this year’s results have left the nine-time LPGA Tour winner unsatisfied. Creamer stayed at the Pinnacle Country Club until 9:00 p.m. Wednesday night fine tuning her game for this week’s Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G.
“I played in the sprinklers the last couple holes,” said Creamer of last night’s practice session. “I know what I need to do, I know I need to put in the time and I need to put in the work. You know, I'm just not satisfied with my year so far and I understand there's changes and things, but still to me it's just not good enough, and if I have to be out here until 9:00 at night, then I'll be doing that.”
Putting has plagued Creamer’s game this year. She is ranked 78th in putting average on the LPGA Tour with a 30.29 average. In search of her first LPGA victory since the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open, Creamer has made significant changes in her putting including a new routine and stroke.
“I've been working on my putting a lot, especially this week,” said Creamer. “I think I've spent a lot of time out on the putting green. I'm trying to change my routine a little bit, trying -- my stroke, I was getting a little bit not as -- I'm more of a square to -- I'm sorry, inside square to square putter and I've been starting to get a little bit outside and just consistently the roll hasn't been good and I've been really working on that.”
ESPY Bound… The LPGA Tour will be well represented at this year’s ESPY awards with Cristie Kerr, So Yeon Ryu and Lexi Thompson all nominated in one category and Yani Tseng nominated in two.
Tseng is the only female nominated in the Best International Athlete category alongside Novak Djokovic, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Renaldo. She is also nominated for Best Female Golfer with fellow Tour stars Kerr and Ryu.
“I was pretty excited,” Tseng said of learning that she was nominated for two ESPY awards. “Last year I didn’t win the award for Best Female Golfer and it was my first time being nominated for an ESPY. So it’s pretty exciting. I’ll be watching on TV to see if I can get this award because it’s like an Oscar in sports. It would be great if I can win it this year because that’s going to make me feel that all of my hard work and success from last year has paid off and that people see it.”
Kerr, who won last year’s Best Female Golfer, admitted a second consecutive nomination is an honor.
“It’s an honor,” said Kerr, who won the 2011 ESPY for Best Female Golfer. “It really shows that people are starting to pay attention to women’s golf. It’s just great to be able to be nominated after winning when I feel I didn’t have quite as good a year as I had the year before. So it’s just great to be in the mix.”
Ryu’s victory at the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open vaulted her onto the LPGA scene and provided her with Tour membership this season. She currently leads the 2012 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race.
“It feels like I am now one of the LPGA Ambassadors because I’m one of the three nominated for this,” Ryu said. “Cristie Kerr and Yani Tseng have already been World No. 1. I haven’t gotten there yet but my world ranking is coming up and someday I want to be the No. 1 player in the world so this is very exciting. I think these awards are really, really great and I think lots of great sports stars are coming so it’s really an honor to me.”
Lexi Thompson received a nomination for Best Record-Breaking Performance after becoming the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history at the 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic. Thompson will be competing in that category against New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (NFL passing yards record), Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski (wins milestone), and New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera (saves milestone).
“It means a lot,” Thompson said of being nominated in the Best Record-Breaking Performance category. “When I read the email that said I was invited, I didn’t know I was going to be a nominee. But to be a part of that group is just an honor. When I think back on that win last year, all that comes to mind is walking up to the 18th green with my dad. It gave me chills. It was the best experience of my life and I will never forget it.”
To vote for this year’s ESPY awards, visit http://espn.go.com/espys/voting?vote=8083189&lang=en.
Giving Back… The Goodwill Industries of Arkansas serves as the primary charitable beneficiary of this week’s Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G and today they received a cash grant of $350,000.
The POWER program (Providing Opportunities for Women through Education and Resources) will benefit greatly from the donation of $250,000 provided by the Walmart Foundation and an additional donation of approximately $100,000 from the NW Arkansas Championship.
The POWER program specifically helps women who are living in poverty and unemployed. POWER provides a variety of support and services, including job skill assessment and training, job placement and job retention. It also includes specialized support that helps women with childcare, transportation and other basic barriers to successful employment. Currently the Goodwill POWER program operates outreach facilities in Springdale and Fayetteville, Ark.
This year, the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship will make several other contributions to local organizations, including the Northwest Arkansas Children’s Shelter and the Boys & Girls Club organizations in Benton and Washington Counties, bringing the tournament’s total charitable impact in 2012 to approximately $400,000.
Cutting for a cause...The Pantene Beautiful Lengths event was held on Wednesday night at the Embassy Suites in Rogers, the Tournament’s host hotel. For the fifth consecutive year in celebration of women’s health and the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G, LPGA Tour professionals and volunteer hair donors throughout the community teamed up with Pantene Beautiful Lengths to help create wigs for women living with cancer. LPGA Tour players Morgan Pressel, Cristie Kerr and Lexi Thompson along with LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan took part in the event where just under 200 volunteer hair donors participated. Over 700 ponytails were donated to create a free, high-quality wig for women who have lost her hair due to cancer treatment.
Of Note…Samantha Richdale and Yuki Sakurai earned spots in the field via Monday’s qualifier…Emily Tubert, who just finished her sophomore year at the University of Arkansas, is the only amateur in the field this week…2012 Wegmans LPGA Championship winner Shanshan Feng will take part in a live chat with fans on UStream Friday morning at 11:40 a.m. ET. Fans can view the chat at http://www.ustream.tv/lpga.
MODERATOR: All right. I'd like to welcome Paula Creamer into the interview room. Paula, thanks for joining us. First off, you've had some pretty impressive finishes as of late. You had a tied-for-8th finish at ShopRite, tied for 9th at the Wegmans LPGA Championship, and then tied for 14th last year. Can you just speak a little bit about your game coming into this week?
PAULA CREAMER: You know, I feel good with where it's going. I'm starting to figure out some things on the golf course and making some more putts. That's really what's been kind of holding me back lately is just not making enough birdies and just really getting enough out of the game. I've been hitting it really close, I've been hitting a lot of greens, giving myself opportunities, so hopefully I can continue that this weekend and into the following week.
MODERATOR: You finished tied for 8th here last year. Can you talk a little bit about the golf course and how it suits your game?
PAULA CREAMER: I love this golf course. I think it's such a great place to be able to play in front of people. We get so many wonderful fans, lots of little girls and boys that come out and watch.
The golf course, it just suits my game well. I hit my irons pretty good, that's one of my strengths, and on this golf course you have to put it on the right spot. And, you know, there's some birdie holes, but there's a lot of par holes that you just take your par and you move on, you can't be too aggressive. But I've played here enough that I feel I should be more going comfortable out on the course and we'll see what happens.
MODERATOR: Your last win came at the 2009 U.S. Open, which the Open is next week, 2010. So how excited are you to go back to the U.S. Open?
PAULA CREAMER: I am, I'm very excited. Everybody wants to win their national championship and you're going to have the best field. I think this is a good test going into it because the field strength is so strong. The U.S. Open, there's nothing better than that. It's what people look at, you know, majors, everybody wants to play well there. So this will be a great tune-up, and I want to win here just as badly as I want to win there.
Q. Paula, you talk about how your game's come along, obviously getting close. Do you kind of put pressure on yourself when you're coming close but not necessarily winning, is there one of those things, you know, hey, is this going to be the week, or anything like that, or are you able to go out there and just relax and know that eventually it will come?
PAULA CREAMER: I definitely put a lot of pressure on myself. I always have. I think it's just the way I am. I put the most pressure on myself. Whatever anybody says or does is nothing compared to what I feel that I can accomplish. Sometimes it's way too much and I get in my own way, and sometimes I know when to push myself. But right now I feel like I'm close, it's a matter of putting myself in that spot in contention. I mean, I know what it's like to win, I know what it feels like to have nerves, I know what it feels like to come from behind or have a lead. It has nothing to do with that. It's just doing it and putting myself there. It's hard, it's frustrating. My goodness, it's been a very hard year, and hopefully I'm starting to figure some things out in the height of our season.
Q. This tournament being moved from September to June, can you talk about how the new date fits in with the Tour calendar and how it sets up for the U.S. Open?
PAULA CREAMER: Like I said, U.S. Opens are a premium on hitting good iron shots and things like that, putting in the right parts of greens and that's what this golf course is about. I'm not the longest player out here and I don't even use driver that much, so it's not really a contest about length necessarily, it's more about control and hitting shots.
For the schedule wise, it's a little hot this week, but other than that, I don't know why it couldn't be here. But both ways are nice, it's just a little bit different in the weather situation going into it. But for a sense of going into a major, I think it's good, I think it's really good. It's a three-day tournament also, it's a little bit different than what we're used to before a major.
Q. Paula, you were talking about your putting. Are you doing anything different, trying anything different, maybe a new putter, or is it just a matter of just practice and whatnot?
PAULA CREAMER: I've been working on my putting a lot, especially this week. I think I've spent a lot of time out on the putting green. I'm trying to change my routine a little bit, trying -- my stroke, I was getting a little bit not as -- I'm more of a square to -- I'm sorry, inside square to square putter and I've been starting to get a little bit outside and just consistently the roll hasn't been good and I've been really working on that.
It's hard because I have been working on my golf swing so much that sometimes the other parts of your game, they're not quite as strong as they normally are because your time and emphasis is on one thing and I'm trying to balance out it all and right now I'm hitting it so well that it's putting all this pressure on my putting, which has always really been the case in my game; I hit so many greens. But yes, I'm trying to change my stroke and I'm trying to work on my putting routine, a little bit quicker, a little bit faster.
MODERATOR: I saw on Twitter last night you said you were here until 8:30?
PAULA CREAMER: Yes, I played in the sprinklers the last couple holes. I know what I need to do, I know I need to put in the time and I need to put in the work. You know, I'm just not satisfied with my year so far and I understand there's changes and things, but still to me it's just not good enough, and if I have to be out here until 9:00 at night, then I'll be doing that.
Q. Paula, I know this is off topic, but Munoz, what have you seen from her game this year? I know she's a player that's always kind of been up there for the last few years and then she finally won at Sybase. What have you seen from her as a player?
PAULA CREAMER: Well, I think Solheim was such a big week for her last year. It really boosted her confidence. She's a great player and she's a feisty player out there. It was just a matter of time of when she was going to get her first win. Like I said, Solheim I think really helped her just believe in herself and know that she can come out here and play, and then she ends up winning a match play event. Kind of just shows that's where her confidence is at. She's a good player. She's long, she's a good putter, she doesn't make many mistakes and she was a good collegiate player as well, so we've always been expecting her to do well and now she's living up to her expectations for sure.
Q. Will you just kind of touch on how you're going through changing from the four- and the three-day formats, kind of how you're adjusting to that?
PAULA CREAMER: We don't have -- we used to have so many more three-day events on the schedule and now we really don't have that many. But to me I think it's almost harder in a sense because it brings everybody into the mix of things, and also if you don't start out real strong on Friday, you've got a lot of work to cover on Saturday and Sunday, so it's really important to get a good first day.
And then really you have to be a little bit more aggressive in a sense because there isn't that much time in between it all. You have to really play your best and as fast as you can and try and be up in contention going into Saturday and Sunday. Really, the first day to me is much more important in a three-day than it is in a four-day.
June 27, 2012
Pre-Tournament Notes and Interviews
This week the LPGA travels to Rogers, Arkansas, which will play host to the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G. At the Pinnacle Country Club, 144 ladies will be competing for a $2 million purse and a $300,000 first-place prize check.
Back-to-back title holder Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng will try to make it three-in-a-row when she returns to Arkansas this week. The tournament in 2011 took an interesting turn after Tseng missed a 4-foot putt to finish the regulation play that would have given her the title. Tseng and Amy Yang were sent into a playoff, where Tseng sank a 4-foot birdie putt when they replayed the par-5 18th hole. The birdie allowed Tseng to capture her fifth LPGA title of the 2011 season. She continues to hold her reign at the top of the LPGA Tour in this 2012 season with three victories at Honda LPGA Thailand, RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup and the Kia Classic.
The Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G is a fairly young tournament on Tour, having been held since 2007. In addition to Tseng, past champions of the event also include No. 10 Jiyai Shin, who is currently sidelined following surgery on her left wrist, and No. 167 Seon-Hwa Lee.
Heart of Gold… Former University of Arkansas Razorback Stacy Lewis announced today that she is donating $100,000 to the University of Arkansas women’s golf program. The donation made Lewis the first female member of the Razorback Foundation’s Century Circle.
“I say it all the time, I would not be where I am if I had gone to any other university, and I honestly feel that way,” said Lewis. “I came here a kid that -- I couldn't swing a golf club at the time and there was no guarantee I would ever play golf again, and this university and these coaches took a chance on me. So I've just always felt like this was something that I've wanted to do. I wanted to give back to this program in a way that was big and was special. We've talked about it for a long time and this came up and it just seemed like this was such a good opportunity to -- a hundred thousand dollars is a lot, but we still need more to kick start. We need more to get this building done. So this is just kind of a kick start to our fundraising. It's something I've wanted to do for a long time, but I just wanted to find a good way to do it and this was just the perfect opportunity.”
As a result of scoliosis, Lewis underwent back surgery her senior year of high school and was forced to red-shirt her first year at the University of Arkansas. Lewis then burst onto the collegiate golf scene where she won 12 tournaments and was a four-time All-American during her four years in Arkansas.
As Lewis returns to Arkansas this week for the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G, she comes in as the leader in the Rolex Player of the Year standings and is currently the top-American in the Rolex Rankings. Since missing the cut at the LPGA LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf, Lewis has finished no worse than tied for fifth in her last five starts including wins at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic and the ShopRite LPGA Classic.
“It's awesome,” said Lewis of her recent success. “I mean, it's what you practice for, it's what you're out there hitting balls for is to give yourself a chance to win, and just to be able to relax out there and have fun with the fans and enjoy the crowds and the people cheering for you. I think that's what I work hard for, and it's been so much fun these last couple weeks and I just want to work hard and keep that going.”
Welcome back, welcome back! LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Juli Inkster will make her 2012 season debut at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G this week. Inkster underwent surgery on her right elbow back in January to repair a torn tendon.
There will be plenty of eyes focused on Inkster in her return to competitive golf this week and even if the 52-year-old veteran wanted to stay out of the spotlight, it would be a difficult task as she’s paired with Michelle Wie and University of Arkansas alum Stacy Lewis in the first two rounds.
“Good thing they just paired me with a couple no-names,” Inkster said with a laugh.
Inkster tried rest and the use of platelet-rich plasma injections to heal her elbow after the Lorena Ochoa Invitational last November. But when the elbow was still bothering her in January, she decided to have the surgery where her tendon was reattached and the ulnar nerve moved. The surgery was performed by Dr. Michael Dillingham and Dr. Gordon Brody, two of the doctors for the San Francisco 49ers. She’s spent the past few months at her home near Los Altos, Calif. and despite the long layoff from golf, she kept herself plenty busy.
“I have two kids that graduated this year and I had a really busy -- I mean, I really don't know how I would have done it and played golf, so it was kind of a blessing in disguise,” Inkster said. “I missed golf. I missed the competition, I missed the playing, I missed working towards something, but also it was great being home. Once I could start chipping and putting and stuff, it kind of was better.”
Inkster said she picked up a club for the first time toward the end of March and began working on her full swing in April. Still, she’s unsure how her game will fare this week in her first competitive event.
“When I've been playing, if I didn't like a shot I would just drop one and hit it again,” Inkster said. “I don't think they're going to let me do that out there. So I think just getting into playing mode's going to be the toughest part.”
Winner’s Circle: It took seven years for Brittany Lang to capture her first victory on the LPGA Tour at last week’s Manulife Financial LPGA Classic. So perhaps it’s no surprise that there were times in her career that the 26-year-old questioned whether one would ever come.
“I honestly thought I would never win,” Lang said. “After I had been out here five, six years and everybody around me kept telling me -- my agents, my family, my friends, you know, you're good enough to win, you're good enough to win. I was so tired of hearing it. I was like, I don't think it's ever going to happen and I don't want to talk about it, I don't even care. I just want to play golf. I love golf. I just want to enjoy myself.
“I was so sick and tired of talking about it and I didn't think I would ever. I didn't think I would ever win, and I guess it's when you stop thinking about it and you make little changes and try to get better is when it happened because it definitely wasn't on my mind last week. I was just trying to be in each shot and I can't believe it happened.”
Now that she’s got victory No. 1 under her belt, Lang hopes that the experience and confidence she gained from it will help her throughout the rest of her career.
“It was such a great experience last week, having that putt to win, that was really a good position to be in to make you stronger and grow,” Lang said. “I was extremely nervous on the putt in regulation. I did everything in my power to get into the shot, get into that putt, and I couldn't do it. I was so focused on my hands shaking and how nervous I was. I was so outcome focused. I did, I kept a good attitude, and going into the playoff hole I told myself I was really going to be into that putt if I have another putt to win. I just stopped focusing on being so nervous and just focused on the task at hand and I did a lot better with those last few putts that I had, so I learned and I'll only get stronger from here.”
Beat the Heat… With temperatures expected to reach the upper 90’s this week in Rogers, Ark., fans have a few options to beat the heat while watching their favorite players at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G.
Fans will be provided free bottled water on the golf course and volunteers and tournament staff will be driving around all three days to distribute bottled water. Volunteers and fans will also have chilled towels readily available in coolers positioned on both the front and back-nine of the course.
In addition, special shade zones will be set-up throughout the golf course where fans can get a brief reprieve from the heat.
MODERATOR: All right. Good afternoon, everyone. We would like to welcome you to the 2012 Wal-Mart Northwest Arkansas Championship presented by P&G. My guest this afternoon I don't think really needs an introduction here in one of the places that she calls home, but we would like to welcome Stacy Lewis here to the interview room.
Thanks so much for joining us. I know it's always special for you to come back here every year. Just what are your thoughts coming in this year and what it's like to be back and get to see everybody?
STACY LEWIS: Well, I mean, I like coming back here. It's one of my favorite events of the year. It's one of the craziest, for sure, but it's so much fun. I think every year, I tell my caddie, every year I come back and I've kind of slowly gotten better every year, and so the expectations keep going up and the craziness keeps going up, but I love going back and seeing my friends and family and people I haven't seen in a while and it's an awesome week for me.
MODERATOR: I just want everyone to know we're doing Stacy's normal pre-tournament press conference, but at the end Stacy has a special announcement, so stick around for that.
Just to ask you again just about the week, I know when you've come back here in the past, last year you came back here as a Rolex first-time winner, but this time you come back, two-time winner so far this season, moved up to No. 2 in the Rolex rankings, took over the spot as the top American in the Rolex rankings.
Is there any different feeling? I know you were talking about the pressure, but has anybody kind of brought up to you, I guess, the differences and said anything different to you so far this week?
STACY LEWIS: I don't think it has been. I don't think it's really quite hit home for me that I am the No. 2 player in the world. I just think I was down at The Blessings practicing where I did in college and it just felt like just a couple years ago I was out there practicing and working hard, and I don't even know what I was ranked then. I wasn't even ranked then. I still feel like the same person and I don't really know -- I don't feel I'm doing a lot different. I'm just working hard and the hard work is paying off and I'm just trying to enjoy the ride now.
MODERATOR: I know we talked a little bit a couple weeks about when you were at the NCAA championships and getting to visit with the Arkansas players and whatever, but how you were amazed that some players were excited to meet you and to see you from other teams.
How much have you seen that attention, I guess, overall around golf change in terms of you've now been winning more and getting the spotlight more?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, that part of its changed a lot. I went to Nashville for the women's NCAA championship, and the girls on the Arkansas team were giving all the other girls from -- there were a couple girls from Alabama Duke, they were all nervous to meet me. So the Arkansas girls, of course, are giving them a hard time about it, going c'mon, she's not any different than us and that kind of thing. It's definitely strange. Last week was a pretty good example. I had so many people out watching and following me and they enjoyed watching me play and they were cheering for me, and that's something that's kind of increased over the last couple of weeks even. So it's a lot of fun to have people recognize you playing well and to just realize all the hard work you have done.
Q. And as I talked about all the wins and the good finishes that have come this year, what do you think has been the biggest difference for you in terms of being able to go on such a consistent stretch that you've been on lately?
STACY LEWIS: I would say I think for me it's something about getting in contention, I've finally figured it out, and I've figured out how to handle the pressure and how to hit shots down the stretch when you really need to and how to manage your game. Last week I had a bad first round but I still found a way to get it done and still was in contention on the weekend. Every time it's different, and I feel like I've learned something every week, so it's a general progression of learning. The main thing, the confidence is just high right now.
Q. When you say figured out how to be in contention. Have you done anything differently, breathe differently, or is it just a matter of more confidence?
STACY LEWIS: It's more of a mindset. I think in the past I've gotten there and when you're up in contention, you're kind of protecting where you are, you're protecting you want to stay in the Top 10 or Top 5. Now I feel like I can go out there and make birdie on any hole and keep moving myself up the leaderboard and it's almost a fear factor of not being afraid to fail and to hit a bad shot. It's just really changed my approach to how I play different holes.
Q. You talked about how important this tournament is to you and how you've gotten a little bit better every year. I think tied for 8th is your best finish here last year. What would it mean for you to play well, be in contention at kind of your home tournament here?
STACY LEWIS: Last year it was unbelievable. We were just talking about back there the birdie I made on 17 on Sunday last year, it was unbelievable. I was a couple shots out of the lead, but people were still pulling for me to win, and it would be unbelievable to win this week. This is definitely a tournament that's up there with -- it's a major for me. It's a tournament that I want to win, and just to have that hometown support and just to be able to figure out that I can just play golf and if I play well, fine; if not, the people are still going to cheer for me, so I'm just more comfortable and I'm okay with that.
Q. Stacy, a lot of players have talked about the heat, it's supposed to be 100 or so. What do you do to try to combat that? What do you do to deal with playing in 100 degree temperature like that?
STACY LEWIS: I think -- I mean, I've done it a lot. I grew up in Texas, so I'm kind of used to it. You just have to stay hydrated and just stay patient out there and not use too much energy early in the round and just try to drink as much water as you can. I mean, it's tough, but everybody has to do it and you just have to take care of your body.
Q. Do you feel you're kind of used to playing golf in Arkansas weather?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, after school I spent two years here, so I spent a couple summers out here sweating it out on the range and all those kind of things, so I know the deal. I know how hot it gets here and I don't see it as much of a factor for me.
Q. Stacy, you've finished in the Top 5 five tournaments in a row, including two victories. How big of a deal was it to finish second to start the year in the Australian Open?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I think Australia kind of surprised me because I wasn't really sure, I never really seem to start out a year very well, I seem to get off to a slow start. So Australia actually surprised me and I didn't even play that well there and still lost in a playoff, so that really kind of kick started the year and I knew -- we go from there into Asia and I played well in Asia too, I had a couple of my best finishes. So I knew kind of coming back to the U.S. that I had gotten off to one of my best starts because I usually get off to slow starts, so I was just confident and just looking forward to getting into a little bit of a rhythm.
Q. Stacy, as you kind of climb the rankings, two things, I guess. Are you ready to make a run at that No. 1 spot, and secondly, would it mean more to you to defeat Yani or maybe there's some kind of rivalry there going on now, would it mean more to do this in a tournament she's won twice in a row?
STACY LEWIS: There's not really a rivalry there. I'm pretty good friends with Yani, we get along pretty well. I played with her a lot last year when she was winning. I watched what she did, I watched how she prepared and watched how she won and managed things. Any time you beat the No. 1 player in the world, whether it's head to head or whether she's not playing good or whatever it is, it's a good thing.
I'm ready to take her on. I want to be No. 1 in the world. I know I'm 2, but I'm not happy with that. She has such a lead right now, that's the problem. It's going to take a lot of good golf over the next probably year until you can catch her. So I'm just going to have to keep playing well and keep chipping away at it.
Q. The good stretch of golf you're on right now started with your first win of the season, the second of your career. How did that get your momentum going, click you in?
STACY LEWIS: Well, Mobile, it was interesting. I got off to a good start there and I was coming off my first missed cut of the year in Hawaii where I just played horrible. Mentally I wasn't in it. I got my coach in Mobile and got me back focused on what the goals were for the year and where I needed to be with my golf swing, with my game and everything. I played really well there and kind of scraped out a win. I didn't really know what to do once I got the big lead and somehow found a way to win, and then that kind of led into ShopRite, where I got a big lead again and I managed it a little better. So I feel like every week, even winning, I think you learn stuff for the next time you're there. Last week I was close again. I didn't feel like I played my best, but I was close again and so you've got to keep knocking on the door and keep putting yourself in contention. And I think one out of four times you're in the last group you're probably going to get it done.
Q. Just to follow up to that, how much fun are you having on this run here and what's it feel like to be playing at this high level?
STACY LEWIS: It's awesome. I mean, it's what you practice for, it's what you're out there hitting balls for is to give yourself a chance to win, and just to be able to relax out there and have fun with the fans and enjoy the crowds and the people cheering for you. I think that's what I work hard for, and it's been so much fun these last couple weeks and I just want to work hard and keep that going.
Q. Stacy, you were really instrumental last year in making sure that the Joplin High School golf program was able to have their season. I wondered if you've followed their progress this year, if you've made any relationships there that you've maintained?
STACY LEWIS: You know, I followed it a little. I probably haven't been as good as I should about it. That community went through so much last year and it was so close to home here that I felt like I needed to do something. The girls came out to the tournament and they all said thank you and we got pictures together. Anything I can do to give back to golf, whether it's junior golf or whatever it is, I'm all for it. So I was just glad I could help those girls out and I hope we see them out here this year.
Q. Stacy, a little off topic, but Brittany Lang won last week and she talked about how it took her a little while to get that win. What have you seen from her as a player and her game, and what did you see from her last week?
STACY LEWIS: Brittany, I don't know how she wasn't won until last week. She's been in contention so much and you could tell kind of down the stretch that she wasn't exactly comfortable where she was and it kind of took her a couple holes to win that playoff.
But she's been playing good golf for a long time and she's a really good ball striker, so when she gets some putts to go in, that's when she plays her best golf. It's no surprise, I think it was just a matter of time. I always thought she was going to be the first Duke player to win and I'm just glad she got that win out of the way.
Q. What are your thoughts on this tournament moving from September back to June to the week before the U.S. Open?
STACY LEWIS: I'm kind of indifferent either way. I think we get the heat instead of the rain. I don't really have a problem with it either way. I don't know. Some players don't like playing coming into a U.S. Open, so you might lose some players that maybe want to take some time off or things like that. Other than the heat, I think this is a great time to be here. The golf course is in -- I think it's in better shape now than it will be in September, so as far as the golf course, I think this is a good time of year to be here. But as far as the timing with the U.S. Open, I mean, I like playing leading up to a U.S. Open so I'll always be here.
Q. How have things changed for you as far as being the young up-and-comer trying to make a name for herself to now be ranked No. 2, everyone knows you, and now you've got the target on your back to perform every week?
STACY LEWIS: I think I put more pressure on myself than anybody, than a ranking, than a number. I look at that stuff to compare myself to other players and how I can get better, but it's a number to me. Whether -- I mean, I don't know, it's just -- it is what it is. I haven't changed as a person. I don't feel like I'm a different person. I'm busier, I have a lot more things going on and more people know who I am, but other than that, it's still playing golf.
Q. Stacy, can you talk about your workout routine and how maybe it varies from some of the other players that gives you a competitive edge, and do you still have to do anything now for your back injury?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, my back, knock on wood, has been great. I've had no issues with it. It's been really good. I work out a lot. I have a trainer that I work with in Florida, and a lot of it is core and legs. That's really been instrumental for me over the last couple years. I've picked up a lot of distance and my ball striking's gotten a lot better just because I'm physically stronger. It's nothing different for my back, it's just in general my legs and core needed to be stronger for my golf swing, so I think that has had a lot to do with my success over the last year.
Q. I thought I read somewhere that you run five days a week, is that right? How have you been able to find time to do that?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I haven't been running lately, my foot's been a little bummed, so I've just been like lifting and doing things like that. I enjoy running], it's something that allows me to get away. Anything I can do to get away and kind of clear your head and not think about a golf shot, I think that's ideal. I just make my workout routine, I feel like that's part of my practice. If I can spend an hour in the gym, that's the same as me spending an hour hitting balls. It's part of what makes my golf swing work.
MODERATOR: You ran a half marathon earlier in the year, didn't you?
STACY LEWIS: No, I was planning on it, but I didn't do it.
MODERATOR: Is that something though that eventually, I mean, do you have goals in terms of your running that you want to do?
STACY LEWIS: I don't know. I'd like to maybe eventually do a marathon. The hard part is with golf and the timing, and the recovery time is what I'm more worried about, so it's not going to happen during the golf season.
MODERATOR: Definitely for as long as our season is, that limits the amount of time that you can do that.
STACY LEWIS: Exactly.
MODERATOR: Well, I know earlier you got asked about different things you've done to give back and you have a special announcement that's coming up, and so we'd like to welcome Arkansas women's head golf coach Shauna Estes-Taylor up here for our special announcement.
Shauna, I'll leave the floor up to you if you want to kind of let everyone in on what is the special announcement that you and Stacy have for everybody today.
SHAUNA ESTES-TAYLOR: Sure. This is an amazing day for our women's golf program at the University of Arkansas. We're announcing that Stacy is donating a hundred thousand dollars to our women's golf program. As a result of that, she becomes the first female athlete to give a gift of a hundred thousand dollars or more and becomes a member of our Century Club. I think it just speaks volumes for Stacy's continued commitment and her love for the Razorbacks.
A couple of months ago we sort of had a planning meeting, and at Arkansas we really value being cutting edge with our facilities and making them very first class and giving our athletes the opportunity to be able to train at the highest level.
One of those things that came out of that meeting was we would love -- we already have an amazing facility at The Blessings golf club, but additionally we'd like to add an indoor chipping and putting facility. After that meeting, I came out and Stacy and I talk on a regular basis and she asked how things were going and I mentioned this opportunity. Immediately, Stacy goes, I want to be involved, I want to give back to the program that gave so much to me.
And on behalf of our athletic department and our vice chancellor of athletics and our women's golf program and Arkansas golf, I can't thank you enough for what you're doing to continue our growth, to continue to elevate our program and your commitment to what you're doing and giving our student athletes really special. So thanks so much, buddy.
MODERATOR: Stacy, we all have heard about your successful golf career that you had while at Arkansas and everything that you did. How important for you was it to be able to give back, and especially now that you've had so much success on the LPGA Tour, given the opportunity to do this?
STACY LEWIS: I say it all the time, I would not be where I am if I had gone to any other university, and I honestly feel that way. I came here a kid that -- I couldn't swing a golf club at the time and there was no guarantee I would ever play golf again, and this university and these coaches took a chance on me. So I've just always felt like this was something that I've wanted to do. I wanted to give back to this program in a way that was big and was special. We've talked about it for a long time and this came up and it just seemed like this was such a good opportunity to -- a hundred thousand dollars is a lot, but we still need more to kick start. We need more to get this building done. So this is just kind of a kick start to our fundraising. It's something I've wanted to do for a long time, but I just wanted to find a good way to do it and this was just the perfect opportunity.
MODERATOR: Shauna, you've watched and been around the program to see what Stacy's done on the LPGA Tour. What does it mean to have a representative like her of the university, not just on the golf course, everything that she does off the golf course from her scoliosis foundation and what she's able to do giving back?
SHAUNA ESTES-TAYLOR: Having seen her come to our campus not even able to lift a backpack, she could do very little, and to watch how much she's grown and matured on the golf course and off the golf course is just really amazing, and she helped put Arkansas women's golf back on the map. It's so good to have such a good representative who loves the Razorbacks. It's so fun every week to see that big red head cover on that golf bag and know how proud she is to be a part of what we're doing.
MODERATOR: And we've seen her in the last few weeks rise to be the top American on the LPGA Tour. That's a pretty special place to have in women's golf. I'm sure you guys must just be bursting with pride seeing everything that she's been able to accomplish.
SHAUNA ESTES-TAYLOR: We were just talking about it. She was down practicing at Blessings this morning and she was like, I can't believe -- I'm like, I can, you're that good at what you do. And her work ethic I think is just tremendous and I think she's much deserving of where she is, and I know that she has even bigger and better goals and she'll continue to work until she accomplishes those, so it's really cool.
Q. Yeah. Stacy, you mentioned this is something you've kind of been thinking about. When did that start? How did you get the ball rolling?
STACY LEWIS: Honestly, probably after I made my first paycheck at the 2008 U.S. Open. I wanted to give back, and at that I couldn't do anything then. I had a really good year last year and every year I've played I've donated money to charities or in a certain way, so I've kind of been bugging Shauna about it for a year, like, all right, we have to come up with something to do, and this was what we needed. This is why I still don't live here actually because of the winters, and we needed a short game facility, an indoor putting green, indoor chipping. So it's something that's been in the works for a while. I don't know, I just wanted to find a way to give back and specifically to the golf team that has given me so much.
Q. Stacy, how did you come up with the hundred thousand dollar figure? Did you kind of gulp a little bit?
STACY LEWIS: I don't know. I think we had kind of talked about doing a certain amount per year. I think we talked maybe, because this is kind a of a five-year project and we talked what if we do X amount for five years. So we're trying to get donations of $20,000 per year. I said, how about I just give you a hundred thousand dollars now, and she said okay.
That's honestly how it worked out. It was more to kind of put it out there and for people to say, bam, this is it and to get this thing rolling and we want to get this facility done and make this one of the best -- it already is one of the best facilities, but make it even better and get some of the best junior golfers here to get this program back up on the national scene and winning national championships and things like that.
Q. Coach, you mentioned how Stacy kind of put Arkansas golf back on the map. How is something like this, even post her career here, continuing to elevate the program, not just from its donation but also with all her success on the course?
STACY LEWIS: You know, every kid that we bring in for a visit or anytime we're on the road, everyone's like how's Stacy doing, it's so awesome, she's having an amazing year. Even the members at The Blessings every day are like, Stacy had a great week last week. It's just super special. Everyone knows her, she's done that through some great play. It's awesome for our program that people see that we are producing great players and we have all of the resources and the tools to be able to do that, and she's a perfect product of what we have here at the University of Arkansas.
MODERATOR: Stacy, beyond just the money, I know as we talked about how you were at the NCAA championships and you've kept that close tie and to be able to be there and work with these young girls and show them a shining example. What does it mean for you to kind of be a part of the program still?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I think since even the first couple years after I left, I was the volunteer assistant coach. We always talk about if she needs advice on the girls on the team or I call her, and I keep in close contact with the girls just because I want them, if they have any questions or how do you do this or how do you manage this or how did you manage that. I mean, if I can give back to them and help -- because if I can give back and show them how it's done and do it the right way, then we need to get more Razorbacks out here. I'm the only one that's ever been out, so we need to get more Razorbacks out here.
When I was going to school, I didn't have -- you know, there was nobody out on Tour for me to kind of look to to see, for them to come back to the program and kind of show them how it's done. That's something I've always wanted to do for them. I have a good relationship with a lot of girls. I'm always watching on my phone every week when they're playing, what they're doing. They lost SECs by a shot, and I think we were in Hawaii and I'm sitting there hitting refresh like it has to be wrong. I live and die with them and they live and die with every shot I do, too. So it's just a lot of fun.
MODERATOR: All right. We'd like to welcome LPGA World Golf Hall of Fame member Juli Inkster to the interview room. First off, it's great to see you. We're so glad to have you back.
JULI INKSTER: Thank you, it's good to be back.
MODERATOR: This is your first event back this season after missing the first part of the year following elbow surgery that you had in January.
Can you just take us through, I guess, the entire process of your surgery and kind of the comeback and what this entire process has been like for you?
JULI INKSTER: Okay. Well, basically I quit playing golf after Lorena's tournament last year. My elbow just wasn't feeling very good and I had a couple PRP procedures where they take your blood, spin it and put it back in. So I waited 10 weeks for that to see if that would help it out, then went out and tried to practice and it wasn't very good. They knew there was a tear in there, they just didn't know how much. So in the middle of January decided to do the surgery and two doctors, Dr. Dillingham and Dr. Brody, who both worked for the 49ers, they said they would do it.
They went in there and they reattached the tendon, moved the ulnar nerve over, and then I was in a cast or whatever for a couple months and just started gradually. I've been doing physical therapy every day and just, you know, trying to get it back to full strength. It feels great. I haven't had any setbacks. I had a great physical therapist, Lisa Jioney and after care was great. She really pushed me and we kind of had a game plan that this is -- I wanted this to be my first tournament back and I wanted to play the Open, and so far I'm on schedule.
MODERATOR: I know injuries haven't really been a part -- big part in your career.
JULI INKSTER: No.
MODERATOR: How difficult was it to have it at this point in your career, and did you always know that you definitely wanted to be back and how tough was it to even --
JULI INKSTER: Well, I think the first 10 weeks where it was kind of -- I didn't -- it was the unknown. I didn't know if -- what was wrong. I didn't know if I had to have surgery, and so once they got in there and they did the surgery and they said I wouldn't have been able to play without doing the surgery, I don't know, it's just kind of a calmness came over me. I said, okay, this was just meant to be and I just did exactly what they said. They said that if they thought the way the surgery went that it would be no problem getting back and playing. You know, I really don't know what to expect this week. I've played golf, but playing golf and playing competitive are two different things. I'm very happy it's a three-day tournament, so we'll see. Good thing they just paired me with a couple no-names, so -- but yeah, so we'll see what happens.
MODERATOR: How much did you miss it? This has been such a part of your life for so long. How much did you miss being out there, I guess, and being in the competitive environment?
JULI INKSTER: Well, I think once I got home and settled in, I have two kids that graduated this year and I had a really busy -- I mean, I really don't know how I would have done it and played golf, so it was kind of a blessing in disguise. I missed it. I missed the competition, I missed the playing, I missed working towards something, but also it was great being home. Once I could start chipping and putting and stuff, it kind of was better. I watched a lot of TV, a lot of sports. I don't think I missed a football game, so it was good because I never get to do that.
MODERATOR: I was going to say besides your --
JULI INKSTER: Yeah, the Giants, I went to a Giants game, I went to a lot of hockey games, a lot of football games, a lot of my kids' lacrosse games, so it was good. I've done it for so long that it was a nice break.
Q. Juli, do you think that this enforced absence might add some time to your career?
JULI INKSTER: I don't know. You know, I'm playing this week, I'm playing next week, and then I'm pretty sure I'm going to play Evian, and then after that I'm just going to see how my elbow feels, see how my body feels, my mind, see where my game's at and then reevaluate.
Q. When did you first pick up a club after the surgery, and is there a part of your game that's a little slower coming back?
JULI INKSTER: Well, I think just the whole, you know, when I've been playing, if I didn't like a shot I would just drop one and hit it again. I don't think they're going to let me do that out there. So I think just getting into playing mode's going to be the toughest part. I had my surgery in the middle of January, February, probably end of March, you know, I started to chip and putt. It was probably end of April when I started hitting balls, hitting some balls.
Q. When you first were told you were going to have the surgery, what did the doctors say the timeline would be coming back?
JULI INKSTER: He said four to six months. That's pretty much what it was, about five and a half months. Once he said that, I heard anywhere from six to nine to out to whatever. Once he got in there and fixed it up, he was pretty sure it would be four to six months.
MODERATOR: Overall since watching, I guess, from the outside a little bit the last few months, what have you noticed, I guess, about the LPGA and what kind of stood out? How different was it to sit back at home and follow it from afar?
JULI INKSTER: Well, yeah, there's a lot of good players playing well. Stacy Lewis is playing well, Yani. There's a lot of young blood out there, so I mean, it's changed a little bit, but it hasn't changed that much. You still have to play well to compete. That's what I'm going to try to do.
MODERATOR: We had Stacy in here earlier. We've talked to her a lot lately of taking over the spot of the top American in the world rankings and what it means to see a player like her emerge. It's been a while since any American player has won the Rolex Player of the Year race, back to 1994. What does it mean to see her kind of evolving in that role and kind of taking the lead in women's golf in the U.S.?
JULI INKSTER: Stacy's got a great overall game. She hits it good, she hits good distance, she's got a phenomenal putting stroke, which I don't think you can teach or coach. She's got a great heart to play this game. She's very competitive, she's very fiery, she doesn't take losing lightly and she wants to be the best. I think you can teach a lot of golf swing, you can teach a lot of putting, but I think it's really hard to teach heart. There's only a few players that you really can see it in their games and she's one of them.
Q. I think when Stacy was in here the other day she said something when she was off for six months in college not being able to play, that it really helped her as a player to watch other people. I take it you've watched some women's golf on television. Have you done any of that?
JULI INKSTER: I should say I've watched a lot of women's golf, but I really haven't. I've watched a lot of men's golf just because, I don't know, just seems to be on.
I think when you're out there, everything moves really fast, you know? It just seems like you're always thinking ahead, moving fast. I think after watching some women's golf and some men's golf and some Champions golf, whatever, it seems like the better players, they just -- it just seems like it moves a little slower for them. It's almost like a quarterback in football where you see the really good quarterbacks in football, that the game comes to them slowly. They can do their reads fast, but it seems like they're always in control. I think sometimes when you get out there and you're not used to being in the lead and you're not used to whatever, I think things can move really quick for you. I feel like the better players let the game come to them instead of forcing the issue. So, I mean, that was kind of what I kind of took away from it.
MODERATOR: All right. We'd like to welcome Brittany Lang into the interview room. What a week it's been for you. You became a Rolex first time winner at last week's Manulife Financial LPGA Classic. I know it was a victory that was long waited for for you. And you actually became the first player from Duke University to win on this Tour. Must be unbelievable comparing how many great players have come out of that university in the past few years.
But I guess just first off take us through what the last few days have been like after finally capturing that first LPGA victory.
BRITTANY LANG: Yes, I think it's finally sinking in. I'm still in shock that I finally won. It took me seven years, I'm so thankful that it happened. I'm starting to believe it now. It sunk in. I can't believe I'm the first Duke winner with all the talent that comes out of Duke. I'm very thankful. It was a great week, a great tournament, and it was exactly like I've always dreamed it would be.
MODERATOR: What has the reaction been like? You said you're the first Duke winner. Did you hear from all of the past players that have been there? What kind of reaction, what text messages have you been getting the past few days?
BRITTANY LANG: Yeah, I've had so much support from my hometown in Texas, all my friends out on Tour here and the Duke family's been amazing. Coach Brooks, my coach who coaches now, he's been texting me, all of our media people at Duke, our friends at Duke, past players, everybody's just so excited that a Dukie finally won, so it's been great.
Yeah, I made a lot of changes this year. Number one, trying to be more focused. I have a new coach, have some different things going on, but just trying to focus. My new coach is having me work the balls different ways, cuts and draws, hooks and slices, just having a good imagination. And for me a big part of playing well is hitting the ball long and straight off the tee. I had an old Adams driver I was using and I wasn't able to turn it over very well. It was kind of a driver built not to miss left. With that I wasn't able to work it right-to-left very much and I actually just put a brand new Adams Speedline driver in the bag last week and the misses are smaller, I'm able to work it right-to-left, left-to-right, and it made all the difference. I didn't miss many fairways and it definitely made all the difference.
MODERATOR: Amazing what one little change can do.
BRITTANY LANG: I know.
MODERATOR: Equipment you've used, but one thing can help.
BRITTANY LANG: Yeah. I probably should have used new technology a little sooner, but I absolutely love this new driver.
Q. Brittany, was there a point where, as it's going on in seven years, was there a point of you that maybe doubted, hey, will this ever come, will you ever get that first victory?
BRITTANY LANG: Yeah, I honestly thought I would never win. After I had been out here five, six years and everybody around me kept telling me -- my agents, my family, my friends, you know, you're good enough to win, you're good enough to win. I was so tired of hearing it. I was like, I don't think it's ever going to happen and I don't want to talk about it, I don't even care. I just want to play golf. I love golf. I just want to enjoy myself. I was so sick and tired of talking about it and I didn't think I would ever. I didn't think I would ever win, and I guess it's when you stop thinking about it and you make little changes and try to get better is when it happened because it definitely wasn't on my mind last week. I was just trying to be in each shot and I can't believe it happened. But to answer your question, I did not believe it would happen, no.
Q. Kind of along with that, when Stacy was in here today, she talked about getting comfortable with being in contention. There's some things you learned from maybe being in contention before that maybe you were able to apply this time?
BRITTANY LANG: Yeah, it was such a great experience last week, having that putt to win, that was really a good position to be in to make you stronger and grow. I was extremely nervous on the putt in regulation. I did everything in my power to get into the shot, get into that putt, and I couldn't do it. I was so focused on my hands shaking and how nervous I was. I was so outcome focused. I did, I kept a good attitude, and going into the playoff hole I told myself I was really going to be into that putt if I have another putt to win. I just stopped focusing on being so nervous and just focused on the task at hand and I did a lot better with those last few putts that I had, so I learned and I'll only get stronger from here.
MODERATOR: Stacy talked about that after her win at Kraft, she said how much easier things came once you get that first victory under your belt, it makes such a difference in terms of confidence. Do you already feel that confidence starting to come, taking a deep breath and saying I'm now a winner?
BRITTANY LANG: Absolutely. I think before I knew I was a good player. I thought people looked at me and said she has a lot of talent but I don't know that she can get the job done. Now that I have, they can say she has the talent and she knows how to get it done now. So for sure it makes me feel a lot better. I definitely already have more confidence, that's for sure.
Q. Brittany, do you feel now that you do have the first one, do you think hopefully there's a second one, that it might come a little easier now that there's maybe some relief that that pressure is off, that hey, the second one could come a little easier?
BRITTANY LANG: I definitely do. I think before I was afraid to be in that position because I was afraid to fail. I think I kind of shied away from the spotlight because I didn't want to have a putt to win and I didn't want to do it. I think now that I jumped in head first and experienced it and won, I think I'm okay to have another putt to win, so absolutely, I think the second win will come easier.
MODERATOR: Your brother Luke (inaudible.) Did you get to do anything fun? I know the tournament comes right after, but did you guys get to do anything fun?
BRITTANY LANG: I mean, winning the tournament was fun enough, celebrating on 18. But we talked and we're going to celebrate when we get home. We're going to have a -- I know my country club, they're going to have a party, and my family and friends are going to have a party when I get home. We just decided to focus on the golf now and celebrate when we get home in a couple weeks.
MODERATOR: So this week, leading into a major, does anything change as you prepare for majors or do you focus on your game any differently? Is there anything that changes in your outlook?
BRITTANY LANG: There's not a whole lot that's different. The number one thing is just rest, rest, especially before a U.S. Open. I was talking with my coaches, and especially after last week, just to make sure you stay sharp but get plenty of sleep and don't practice too long because the U.S. Open is a grueling week. You know, you've never played the course so you're playing a lot of practice rounds. It's a tough test and you don't want to wear yourself down, so just make sure they get a lot of rest and keep a good attitude this week so I don't wear myself out.
Q. What does it mean to the Tour to have a player like Juli Inkster come back out after being gone for six months?
BRITTANY LANG: Well, it's phenomenal. I think the world of Juli. I look up to her. I love Juli very much and I'm so glad she's back. She gets so much support from the fans. I think -- especially with her Solheim Cup past and potentially being a captain, I think it could only help the Tour and I know we're all happy to see her back out.
Q. With the heat, they're talking about getting up to 103, 102, whatever it is. What do you try to do when it gets that hot and you're out there four, five hours on a round? What do you try to do and how do you try to maybe prepare for that this week?
BRITTANY LANG: Yeah, it's good to get a lot of sleep, a lot of rest, drink plenty of water and Gatorade, definitely a lot of Gatorade because of what you're sweating out, but definitely to not complain too much because I know when you complain you wear yourself out and then the heat wears you out. But yeah, try not to complain too much.
Q. I thought you were older than Amanda, but she's here this week. Have you talked to her, are you all close, and have you said maybe she'll be the next one to get it or something?
BRITTANY LANG: To Amanda? No, I'm not very good friends. I mean, I know her and we talk, but I'm not very close with her and I haven't said anything like that, though. I wish her the best, she's a great player, and we have a lot of Duke players and I hope one of them wins. There's so much talent coming out of there, but I have not said that to her.
MODERATOR: All it takes is one victory, right?
BRITTANY LANG: Now they'll come pouring in. All the Dukies are going to start winning.