Wegmans LPGA Championship
Locust Hill Country Club
Rochester, New York
First-round notes and interviews
June 7, 2012
Beatriz Recari -3, Rolex Rankings No. 83
Ryann O'Toole -3, Rolex Rankings No. 128
Giulia Sergas -3, Rolex Rankings No. 132
Na Yeon Choi -2, Rolex Rankings No. 2
Cristie Kerr -2, Rolex Rankings No. 7
Paula Creamer -2, Rolex Rankings No. 11
Se Ri Pak -2, Rolex Rankings No. 33
Jeong Jang -2, Rolex Rankings No. 284
Cheyenne Woods +3
Yani Tseng +4, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Beatriz Recari, Giulia Sergas and Ryann O'Toole are tied for the lead after the first round of play at the 2012 Wegmans LPGA Championship. The trio shot 3-under 69s to take a one-shot lead over a group of seven players at 2-under-par. Both Recari and O'Toole had four birdies and one bogey en route to taking a share of the first-round lead while Sergas had six birdies and three bogeys in her round.
Food for thought: For 35 years, Wegmans has been a sponsor for the LPGA event in Rochester, N.Y. Headquartered in the Gates suburb, the family-owned supermarket chain is popular in the Mid-Atlantic states not only for their food variety but also for their Market-Café in-style dining. It is at the top of every player's dining list during the week of the Wegmans LPGA Championship.
First-round leader Beatriz Recari started her week off with a few meals from the superstore, which may have given her the fuel she needed to succeed this week.
"Well, definitely, you know, your body needs great nutrients," Recari said. "Monday, I think, I went twice to the Wegmans store, and I had great sushi, great food, and I take care a lot about my nutrition. So I mean, if you give good fuel to your Ferrari, your Ferrari responds. Give the Ferrari the cheap fuel, it's not going to go as fast. Definitely Wegmans' store food is top notch."
Phone-a-friend: Ryann O'Toole missed the cut at last week's ShopRite Classic but she got off to a hot start in Thursday's first round of the Wegmans LPGA Championship, finishing tied for the lead following a 3-under 69. Perhaps the key to O'Toole's success on day one of the tournament was a phone call that she made the night before the start of play.
O'Toole spoke with noted golf mental coach, Dr. Bob Rotella, on the phone Wednesday night and the conversation focused on the outdoor sport enthusiast keeping her aggressiveness on the course.
"His biggest thing with me is to try to get me to play in a sense that I do everything else," O'Toole said. "That being said like surfing or snowboarding, just kind of a free spirit a little bit. Don't hold back. He tries to get a little arrogant side to come out of me….We've been working on things, like clicking my mind off every time I hit a shot, turn it off and keep going, letting it go, staying in the moment. I think that's working out for me."
O'Toole may only be in her second year on Tour but she's no stranger to finding her name near the top of the leaderboard at majors. O'Toole finished ninth at last year's U.S. Women's Open en route to being named a captain's pick for the 2011 U.S. Solheim Cup Team.
"I like hard courses," O'Toole said of her success in majors. "To me, I don't know, I focus a little more. I get out here just like everyone else does and go, wow, the rough is heavy, the fairways are narrow, the greens are fast. It really calls for using different shots out of your bag. It makes you work. Rather than courses being a birdie‑fest some times where it's wide open and you hit way, I find that this asks a lot more out of your game. So for some reason, it focuses me in a little more."
The chase: Although Yani Tseng has created a fairly large gap as the leader in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings, a fire has sparked in players like Stacy Lewis to take that spot away. Tseng's three wins this season have helped solidified her No. 1 spot, but Lewis' two wins and jumping from No. 7 to No. 3, the buzz about the two golfers have sky rocketed in the past few weeks. So, what about No.2 Na Yeon Choi?
Choi has posted two top-5s and has consistently placed in the top-25 this season. She may be hungry for a win, but she is just fine sitting at No. 2.
"I feel like I like chasing somebody rather than leading," Choi said. "When I'm chasing to somebody I can play aggressive, or I can act more aggressive. Yani and Stacy, they are playing so great, and last week I played last week with Stacy and she hit it so far. She is pretty skinny. She has a really good putter. I just do my best every time, every week. I think it doesn't matter if I do it the right way, the right direction."
Back so soon? When Se Ri Pak injured her left shoulder during a freak fall at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic in late April, it seemed unlikely that the LPGA and World Golf Hall of Fame member would be out for a considerable amount of time. It also put into doubt whether she'd be able to play in this year's U.S. Women's Open at the spot where she captured her memorable 1998 U.S. Women's Open victory - Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wis.
But the 34-year-old didn't take nearly the time to recover from a tear in her left labrum as initially thought. Pak is back in the field this week at the Wegmans LPGA Championship, nearly a month before this year's U.S. Women's Open and much sooner than anyone anticipated her returning. And despite the fact that Pak only started to take full swings two weeks ago, she showed no signs of rust on Thursday while shooting a 2-under 70 to sit in a tie for fourth.
"Today I never expect that's going to be solid round today," Pak said. "The last two days in practicing were so-so. So I just come out, being kind of more practicing, just to make sure, I am going to be here full‑time right now. That's why I try to get the feel for it. I guess that helps a lot I guess. Low expectations helps a lot."
Rough stuff: Locust Hill Country Club is a familiar place to many of the LPGA players who have competed on this golf course year after year. But while the players know it well, there has been one big change to the course this year and it's the difficulty of the rough.
Off the tee, players are hoping to hit the narrow fairway to avoid the thick Kentucky bluegrass in the rough. The crowded leaderboard shows some higher scores today as Beatriz Recari and Ryann O'Toole were the only two players to shoot in the 60s.
"I mean you miss a fairway, and you got to get up and down somewhere," Paula Creamer said. "It's pretty rare that you can actually hit a green from the rough. But it's tough. That's what a Major should be. This golf course has always been a narrow driving hole, but it's just the rough is so much thicker than it has been in the past and the scores show it."
2010 Wegmans LPGA Champion Cristie Kerr was asked about the lack of many low scores during the first round of play and she cited the change that it's unlikely that the winning score of the past two years (-19) will be matched this year.
"I think it is going to play tougher," Kerr said. "I don't think there is going to be any 18 or 19‑unders. The rough is measurably worse than the year that I won. It's just a lot thicker. It was very long that year, but it wasn't like really dense. I mean even with sand wedges out, it's a lot tougher."
"The year I won there was a lot of rough," she added. "Maybe not quite as tall as it is even this year. But it certainly wasn't as dense. It's just gobbling up the golf balls this year."
New Mom on Tour: It's been six years since Jeong Jang's big win at Locust Hill Country Club but after one round of this year's Wegmans LPGA Championship, Jang has put herself in position to contend here once again. Despite a three-putt on the last hole, Jang found herself in a seven-way tie for third. Between her last win here and now Jang had made quite a few changes in her life. Sidelined after a knee injury, she took a year off for surgery and planning for the arrival of her baby girl.
Samantha Lee Jang was born just seven months ago, and it didn't take long for Jang to get back on the road with the LPGA. Despite missing a few cuts in her first three appearances, she has placed in the top-50 in the last four tournaments with a season-best finish tie for 15th at the HBSC LPGA Brasil Cup. With a slow start to the season, Jang says she's not upset because after each round she gets to see her baby.
"My life is totally changed after I had a baby," Jang said. "I can't be mad after the round. It doesn't matter how I play bad. I'm just happy to be traveling with her. I had a 3‑putt on last hole. It could be really upset, and I couldn't say any word and after. And now I saw baby today after, and I forgot right away. I don't remember I had a 3‑putt last hole. Just different. I'm just enjoying it."
A little encouragement: Cheyenne Woods had been waiting for this day for a long time - her first tournament round as a professional golfer. And as the 21-year-old Wake Forest University graduate was prepping for the big moment, she got a little extra encouragement via text messages from her famous uncle and fellow pro golfer, Tiger Woods.
"[He said] Just trust my abilities, have fun and be patient," Cheyenne said.
Woods got off to a decent start in her first event since turning professional. She was tied for 65th after shooting a 3-over 75 in Thursday's first round of the Wegmans LPGA Championship.
"It was really exciting going into this day," Cheyenne said. "I've been waiting and waiting for this moment. I couldn't wait to get out here. I was a little nervous starting off but it felt great to be out there."
So is there anything specific that she's hoping to accomplish this week in what will be the first of two majors on her schedule this summer?
"Just boost my confidence," Cheyenne said. "It's a little intimidating being out here with the Yani Tsengs and Paula Creamers for the very first time, but I'm just excited and taking everything in and using it as experience for my future career."
Less than perfect day: Defending champion Yani Tseng didn't get off to the start that she hoped for in Thursday's first round of the Wegmans LPGA Championship. Tseng matched her worst round of the season with a 76, although her previous score of 76 came on the par-73 Royal Melbourne Composite course. Following her less-than-stellar opening round, Tseng sits seven shots back of the leaders entering Friday.
"I hit the ball right and left and I don't hit it on the fairway," Tseng said. "If you can't hit it in the fairway on this course, it's kind of tough to hit a low score. But I was very surprised that scores didn't go very low today. So obviously I have a little chance to get it back tomorrow. Hopefully to make some birdies."
During her warm-up on the range, Golf Channel cameras caught Tseng getting her left wrist and arm looked at by a trainer. But Tseng said after her round that it wasn't an injury or anything that affected her play in the opening round.
"Just a little tight this morning," Tseng said. "That is not a problem for the score today."
Tweet of the Day: "Got a food tour of Wegmans by one of my pro am guys today! Just when I thought Wegmans couldn't be any cooler!!" -- @minaharigae
Of Note…Michelle Wie opened up the LPGA's second major of the year with a 2-over-par 74 but the unusual thing about her score is that she did it with 13 clubs. Just before Wie was about to tee off, the head of her 3-wood cracked and she was forced to go with a 2-hybrid in her bag…Of the 150 players in the field, there were only 25 rounds shot of even-par-or-better in Thursday's first round.
MODERATOR: We would like to welcome Beatriz Recari into the interview room. Congratulations current leader in the first round of the LPGA Wegmans Championship. Take me through that day, a great round of 3‑under‑par and to see your name at the top of the leaderboard of the first round of a Major, what's that feeling like?
BEATRIZ RECARI: It definitely feels great. It feels almost relieving because I have been playing really well for a long time. The scores didn't happen the way I wanted. I went on the range this morning. I was feeling very fresh, and I was hitting the ball really well. So coaches here said, just go out there, have fun, you're hitting the ball great, so you are going to play really, really well. I have no doubt about it. And I definitely hit the driver very well. That's something key on this course, because if you miss fairway, you are going to have a pretty difficult chance of getting on the green especially how the greens are as well. So I was feeling very strong, very confident. I bogeyed 11, my second hole. And then I made a great save on 12. Made a great safe on 13. And then I birdied 15, 16 and 17 and that kind of really got me into a good roll or flow and a great par on 18. I mean overall I would sum up the round as very confident off the tee, hitting the ball great and just rolling about saying I had a great feeling on the greens which wasn't happening lately, and I was just seeing the line, putting a good stroke and most of them dropped in. I'm very, very happy because we worked, Tom and I, Tom Craven (phn), my coach, worked really hard this week on the stroke and it definitely paid off.
MODERATOR: You were saying you felt good about your game and maybe the results haven't been there of late, what have you felt best about in your game, your confidence, that a round like this could happen in this type event?
BEATRIZ RECARI: Well, I always love coming to this tournament because the fairways are so narrow that I feel very confident. That I have an advantage over the rest of the players because I'm definitely very straight. Probably not the longest hitter, but I'm very straight. So I definitely see myself in the middle of the fairways and my competitors in the rough, that gave me extra confidence, and I was able to be more aggressive to the pins and gave myself very good chances and just rolled the putts in.
Q. So Beatriz the results haven't been there this year, what has held you back? Can you go over what has been the problem so far?
BEATRIZ RECARI: Yes, well, Tom and I worked really hard over the winter to build a very solid and strong swing. And my striking hasn't been a problem whatsoever. I've been striking it really well. And my stats from tee to green are better than ever.
My distance putting, my long putting, wasn't really happening. You can make a few more putts, short putts. So my putting stats weren't that high, that solid. And that's something that definitely we worked on.
I have a blade putter, so we put a little extra line on the top of the putter so I kind of had a better feeling when I was aligning the putt and just worked on the stroke, this week especially, and I just had a great feeling, feeling more smooth, so definitely the putting has been the difference
Q. One of your compatriots just won a couple of weeks ago. Can you just talk about what it feels like to see somebody that I'm sure you played a lot of Junior Golf with Azahara, and other Spaniards, but what does it feel like to have so many Spaniard out here now, you are not the only one, you are together and playing good golf?
BEATRIZ RECARI: Yes, well are the same age, and we grew up playing together and competing against each other from the very first beginning. She has been playing really well, very solid. She won. I think overall that's very good for Spanish women's golf.
Q. When you see her win does that fire you up to go after her?
BEATRIZ RECARI: You know, I don't like to good emotional and get competitive with other compatriots. I have goals, and I just want to reach those goals no matter what that player's nationality is.
I think that she won recently. I think it's great for women's golf. I'm happy for her, and I just want to focus on my goals. I don't like to get emotional, attached to it.
Q. Is there any connection between your good play and what you found at a grocery store on Tuesday?
BEATRIZ RECARI: Well, definitely, you know, your body needs great nutrients. Monday, I think, I went twice to the Wegmans store, and I had great sushi, great food, and I take care a lot about my nutrition. So I mean, if you give good fuel to your Ferrari, your Ferrari responds. Give the Ferrari the cheap fuel, it's not going to go as fast. Definitely Wegmans' store food is top notch.
Q. The last few years the winning score in particular has been very low here. Right now you've got the only round posted in the 60's, can you talk about how the course is playing this year versus maybe how it has in years passed?
BEATRIZ RECARI: I believe it's a little bit longer. I think we pretty much tee it off on the same tees as last year. And I think it's playing a little bit longer and the rough, touch wood, I don't want to be too much in the rough. But I think it is a little bit more higher grass. And I guess because of the rain or the weather that we recently had the ball plants a lot. So it's very hard to manage up and down and definitely be aggressive to the pin. I think that's pretty much the difference. I think the rough could be a little bit more challenging just because of the weather the last few days or weeks.
MODERATOR: I would like to welcome Ryann O'Toole into the interview room. Congratulations on your 3‑under par 69 today, tied for the lead at the end of the first round. Take me through the day and what was working well for you.
RYANN O'TOOLE: Well, I started off the day with a mindset of fairways and greens. I just felt that in the practice round that the rough has just been brutal. In playing the pro‑ams and just seeing the difference and being in the fairway and not being was a big difference. So with that being said, I kind of just felt like I really need to focus in on targets, pick the smallest points that I can find and narrow down, and even if I have to swing 80 percent just to get the ball in the fairway, that was my goal.
For the most part I did well. I only found myself really in severe rough once today and hit lots of greens.
As far as my round when I just played steady, took birdies when I could, had a lot of opportunities with putts, sticking it close. I just struggled to get a few to fall. I think that's the other challenge out here is fast greens, undulating. If you're not careful, you can get putts taken away from you. So that was the other good thing I didn't have any three putts and just gave myself easy tap‑ins.
MODERATOR: Was there any key hole that really got your round going today?
RYANN O'TOOLE: Well, I started off on the backside No. 11, the par‑5. I actually reached in two so I had about a 7 foot eagle putt. So I just missed that, so that was an easy birdie. I just kept giving myself opportunities. And then No. 13, it was a huge tier green and the pins up top, and I was actually below it. I had about a 90‑footer up the hill, and I made that. So that kind of got the momentum going a little bit, relaxes you a bit. Other than that, I was just striking my irons well, keeping it in play and giving myself birdie opportunities a lot. And I think that makes a huge difference when you are not struggling to try to make three or four footers out here on these greens when you just have tap‑ins for pars. I think that was key to keep myself focused and not mentally drained out there.
Q. Did you get any advice from Rotella last night?
RYANN O'TOOLE: How did you know? Someone is giving away my secrets. I spoke to Bob Rotella on the phone last night. His biggest thing with me is to try to get me to play in a sense that I do everything else. That being said like surfing or snowboarding, just kind of a free spirit a little bit. Don't hold back.
He tries to get a little arrogant side to come out of me. He wants to keep me relaxed between shots.
After I hit the shot, kind of hit it and go find it. We will deal with it when we get up there rather than stressing on the way over there or complaining about the lie or what not. Before my round I also talked to Tripp Isenhour. He is someone who has worked under Bob forever. He is my go‑to man as far as translating what Bob has to see. He just said to me too, we've working on things, like clicking my mind off every time I hit a shot, turn it off and keep going, letting it go, staying in the moment. I think that's working out for me.
Q. Ryann that putt on your last hole there for birdie how far was it and just what was going through your mind?
RYANN O'TOOLE: Well, on the last hole I mean I've been rolling the putts great all day. I haven't let any putts get away from me. The biggest thing was to put it on the line and not let my excitement or press for the birdie. It's only round 1 so the last thing I needed to do was be aggressive and leave myself a three or four or five‑footer coming back for what reason. I still have 56 holes to play. I think that's my biggest thought process right now is to just keep going and put a good roll on it. If it goes in great. If not, I got tomorrow.
Q. Is that part of your strategy today is kind of stay conservative?
RYANN O'TOOLE: No, that's actually been my goal is not to stay conservative. I feel like the last few events I've had, rounds where I started to go under, last week, I started birdie birdie birdie and completely gave it away. I found myself getting protective and for what. So rather this time it was more the mindset of take one more, get another. So by getting the birdie train going, don't try to protect it, because if anything I'm not just giving it back.
Q. How many 90‑footers have you made before?
RYANN O'TOOLE: I think that's the best one yet. That was the biggest ridge I made a putt up.
Q. In all seriousness, this is a little bit of uncharted territory for you at the top of a leaderboard at a Major, how do you approach tomorrow now?
RYANN O'TOOLE: I don't know, last year at the U.S. Open I was up in the ranks. I definitely can recall back on that and go, okay, where did I go wrong ? What did I do differently?
I just feel like it's one day. I've learned so many times over and over again, take it as it comes. I just have to go out. I'm glad that I have an early start tomorrow. I can continue the roll that I'm on and just keep focused on what my goals were today and take it as it comes tomorrow.
Q. Ryann, 2 questions, what was the length of your last putt? That's the first one.
RYANN O'TOOLE: The length 35 feet.
Q. And missed a couple of inches?
RYANN O'TOOLE: Yes, I had like a 6‑incher.
Q. The second question, what's up with you and majors?
RYANN O'TOOLE: I like hard courses. To me, I don't know, I focus a little more. I get out here just like everyone else does and go, wow, the rough is heavy, the fairways are narrow, the greens are fast. It really calls for using different shots out of your bag. It makes you work. Rather than courses being a birdie‑fest some times where it's wide open and you hit way, I find that this asks a lot more out of your game. So for some reason, focuses me in a little more.
MODERATOR: All right. We would like to welcome Giulia Sergas into the interview room. Congratulations, a great round, 3‑under par to tie for the lead, can you just take me through your day and what was really working for you out there?
GIULIA SERGAS: My day was really long. I teed off last, and so I had all morning to just listen to the music and just hit balls and practice, had lunch, chitchat. And that really took me ina really relaxed an easy mode for the day. You know, the golf course can be very tight. It is tight. It can be stressful to try to hit every green in every fairway. So I was just trying to take my time and telling myself not to say too many bad words to myself if I was missing something. I did, of course. But it didn't matter but that took me to the lead.
Q. You had quite a few birdies out there, a few bogeys, what was the key for you to being able to make so many birdies when scores weren't going really low?
GIULIA SERGAS: Apparently it looks like golf can work that way. If you make putts, and if you feel comfortable with your putter, then suddenly you see your score going really low. So that was the key of course, you know. A key for every single low round is good putting, so that was it.
MODERATOR: And can you take me through the bogeys?
GIULIA SERGAS: Yes, they were silly bogeys. Like one bogey I was in the middle of the fairway 100 yards to the pin. So I was thinking, I was hoping birdie and I ended up having a bogey.
And the other one, yes, it was like just a missed chip from the high rough around the green. So they were silly. They could have been par really, of course.
MODERATOR: We are here with Rolex rankings No. 2 Na Yeon Choi. Congratulations, a great 2‑under round 70 out there for you today. Can you take me through your round? I know it got off to a pretty steady start, slow, lots of pars, and then got things going a little late on the front 9.
NA YEON CHOI: Yes, I had only one bogey today. I think that was the good thing today, and I had really good patience out there, and I focus on my game, and I had a fun game with my partner. Actually I hit a lot of fairways, then practice round, so I got confidence from second shot and my putter was good and good speed, so I made a couple of putts. I made three birdies. I think it's almost a perfect game today.
MODERATOR: I know we were talking on the way over about some of the differences in the golf course this year compared to years passed, and Yani had said it before too, how the fairways seemed to be a little bit narrow, the rough, do you expect it's going to play a little tougher too? We have seen some low numbers in years passed, do you see that this golf course is going to play a little tougher throughout the weekend?
NA YEON CHOI: Well, the one thing when I play the practice round and yesterday in Pro‑Am, I hit not many fairways. I missed a lot of fairway. From rough I shoot it really hard second shot and some time I couldn't get to the green. So I think on Sunday I think it's going to be more harder than hard. When I hit drivers straight, I think I can make a couple of more birdies rather than hit second shot from rough. So even today after lunch I'm going to the driving range and then try to working on hit my driver straight.
Q. You have not won this year, a couple of runner‑ups, has it been a frustrating process to not get over the hump and win one so far this year?
NA YEON CHOI: I think I'm doing great so far. Actually in the last couple of years I played well after June or July. I used to be. But this year I finished 2 time runner up already. My putting statistic improved last year, so I think I feel great and I got a lot of confidence.
MODERATOR: Na Yeon every has been talking about Stacy, and how well she is playing moving up to No. 3, and of course Yani, and the type of year she has had. You have been No. 2 now for a few weeks, and you kind of seem to go under the radar. Do you like kind of being in that roll of being one of those players that play well but not might be in the spotlight as much, or are you trying to get your name out there and be someone that everybody talks about?
NA YEON CHOI: I don't know, I feel like I like chasing somebody rather than leading. When I'm chasing to somebody I can play aggressive, or I can act more aggressive. Yani and Stacy, they are playing so great, and last week I played last week with Stacy and she hit it so far. She is pretty skinny. She has a really good putter. I just do my best every time, every week. I think it doesn't matter if I do it the right way, the right direction.
MODERATOR: You have been such a consistent player out here, what do you credit on being so consistent week in and week out, how have you been able to maintain that?
NA YEON CHOI: I mean hard question. I just do my best every time, and I am working hard and I like to do, practice hard or practice long. I have to remind myself what is under my control. I can't control score. I can't control the weather. So I just do what I can do. So every day stretching, work out and something, you know, do fun thing every week. I love to cooking so I try to cook every week. So I just try to do what I can do.
MODERATOR: So if you like cooking have you been to Wegmans this week? Have you been grocery shopping and cooking some food?
NA YEON CHOI: Yes, I've been to Wegman store and always good and fresh food they have. I haven't cooked much this week, but I like to cook and I like to go grocery store every time.
Q. Na Yeon, you were inspired by Se Ri, and you were 10 when she won that first open. Is it exciting for you to see her name on the leaderboard up there?
NA YEON CHOI: Yes, actually I had a good talk with Se Ri this morning, and I asked her like how your shoulder doing, and she said doing great, you know, getting better. So I think before we started we talk a little bit and then we got some good feeling before we started, not nervous. So I think that's why we play well today.
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Cristie Kerr into the interview room. Congratulations, a nice round 2‑under 70 today. I know when you came in here yesterday you felt like you were ready to go and ready to compete again. It seems like based on this score it looks like you did just that out there today.
CRISTIE KERR: Yes, I did. And I didn't play that great on the back either. I seemed to hit pretty good tee shots that would end up like a foot in the rough in some gnarly lies. I just managed really well. I didn't play a very good hole on the 13th at all and I managed to get out of there with a bogey which was the best I was going to do, but I ended up staying patient and being kind of happy with that and saying there were some birdie opportunities coming in. I hung in there. I had a good front 9. The back 9 played tough today.
MODERATOR: We haven't seen very many low scores out there this morning. We were talking about how the rough is playing a little tougher, do you expect now after one day out there scoring‑wise the numbers might not go as low as in years passed, this is going to play a little tougher?
CRISTIE KERR: I think it is going to play tougher. I don't think there is going to be any 18 or 19‑unders. The rough is measurably worse than the year that I won. It's just a lot thicker. It was very long that year, but it wasn't like really dense. I mean even with sand wedges out, it's a lot tougher.
If somebody hits every fairway and every green and has a great ball striking day they might shoot a 6 or 7, or 8‑under. Maybe there is an 18 or 19‑under out there, but based off today, I think the scoring is a little worse today than it was either of those other years.
Q. What did you think you did well all day long? Was there something that carried you through because obviously you said you had some rough moments, what kind of got you through to 70?
CRISTIE KERR: You know, I got off to a good start. I played a fantastic first hole and almost made birdie then I birdied the second. I ended up, you know, hitting it just in the rough on the third hole and making bogey, hitting a chip that went way by the hole, which it just wasn't judged very well.
I bounced back with two birdies. I got off to a good start off the front and birdied 9. I just didn't hit it quite close enough on 10 or 11. And then missed some greens, 13, 14, missed the green.
The first really makeable birdie putt was on 16, and I made that one. Then got in trouble on 17. I just tried to stay patient. I just tried to ‑‑ if I got in trouble play smart, which is what you have to do. And trying to get as many looks at birdie as I could.
I think the back is playing a lot tougher than the front 9 today. If you look at the scoring on the back you may see a measurable difference. I was really great mentally. I didn't put too much pressure on myself today. I just tried to go out there and do my thing like I did a couple of years ago and it felt really good.
Q. What did you do at 17? After you explain that, talk about the shot on 18, the chip, which was a great shot?
CRISTIE KERR: 17, you know, where they had the tee, my caddy, and I had talked about that all week. We said the widest part of the fairway is hit 3‑wood off the tee. If you can't get there why hit driver and knock it in the rough where you might only have a pitch out because the rough is that bad. And I hit it in the fairway, and I hit hybrid to lay up, and I just made a bad swing at it. I just kind of hooked it and it got under a tree in the rough. I had a shot, but just trying to judge how hard to hit it out, I just didn't hit it hard enough to get it to the fairway and made bogey.
On the 18th hole I hit a great drive down the fairway. The wind was really tricky there. We all hit it over the green. Even Michelle, out of rough, hit it over the green. I made a great 8‑iron swing. I was trying to take a little bit off that iron, maybe I flushed it and it was more down wind that we thought. It was really tricky. We were trying to land it five yards short of the hole and just get a putt up the ridge. It was hard to judge.
I told Worth that those grand stands have really only been there a few years and before you can really feel what the wind was doing, it was just completely opposite as to when we teed off on our tenth hole today. It was kind of hard to judge.
I just hit a fabulous chip from over the green in the heavy rough. Trying to play the maximum amount of break and just tying to leave it short of the hole. Because if you don't try to leave it short of the hole, it's going to go way down the ridge and it just ended up being perfect.
Q. Cristie, you started talking about the rough. I wasn't sure if you said was it measurably or miserably tougher?
CRISTIE KERR: Measurably.
Q. How much tougher has it been than recent years?
CRISTIE KERR: Last year I didn't think there was that much rough. The year I won there was a lot of rough. Maybe not quite as tall as it is even this year. But it certainly wasn't as dense. It's just gobbling up the golf balls this year.
Q. Does it feel like this particular year you just feed to stay in the hunt right now? Just stay close and then make your move? That's usually the case. But this week, the way it's playing, getting out of here with 70 today, do you feel like okay, I'm okay?
CRISTIE KERR: Yes, I had a good start. Nothing wrong with trying to run away with it either though, you know what I mean?
MODERATOR: We would like to welcome LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Se Ri Pak into the interview room. Congratulations, a great round out there today. First of all, I think, we are all a little surprised to see you this week considering what happened back in April, and we all heard about the injury to your shoulder. Can you take us through what the injury was and what it meant for you to kind of get back this quickly?
SE RI PAK: First thing first, Monday afternoon I stopped by, I'm trying to think of the place, the practice round. And a couple of other players, a couple of other caddies, they're looking at me like what are you doing here? I didn't expect it was going to be healing this quick. I dislocated my shoulder a little bit.
Back then it actually was a little bit of serious because a couple other doctor said that MRI and X‑ray and everything, and doctors different opinions. More half thinking I have to get a surgery. 2 doctors think it not going to be surgery.
We just try to listen more doctors, what do they say? I was actually listen Dr. Andrews, Dr. Thomas, which is LPGA medical doctors and Dr. Andrews is from the physical. The worse news for me, they talk about the surgery. The best news was I didn't have to. But, yes, it was a dislocated shoulder. But it wasn't really seriously injured.
It was healing really well after that week. I went back to Orlando taking about two weeks off and started working rehab and hitting about 30 yards, 40, 50 yards. I should wait a couple of more days, but I feel great. I start hitting more golf swing. I know you shouldn't do that. It was a couple of times. I felt like it was really great. So I start practicing about two weeks ago actually full swing.
As I said, I'm very glad to be back here again. I wasn't sure when I am going to come back. Of course I will come back some time this year but it wasn't this quick. For me it was very lucky and exciting, I guess, because I just came back from injury and my mind set free just come out and try to get ready by U.S. Open. And I guess that helped my game because you go out there and realize that conditions are really hard, really difficult. They narrowed the fairway harder. The rough is thick. Of course you are missing the fairway no matter what. But overall I feel great to be back. I guess that's the biggest help for my game today the first round.
MODERATOR: Considering how recently you just started hitting full shots and working on that again, were you surprised at all to be able to put up a number like you did today?
SE RI PAK: I was actually because I practice on Tuesday. The course, I knew what was going on. It feels right. You go for a month, but you got injury and you start hitting again. You are not hitting solid. Of course, I expect that. All of a sudden you come out to the golf course, you knew it but you still kind of, you know, want to be out there for awhile.
Tuesday I said, I like to come out. I don't know what's going on for starting Thursday, but I'm happy to be out. And today I never expect that's going to be solid round today. The last two days in practicing so, so. So I just come out, being kind of more practicing, just to make sure, I am going to be here full‑time right now. That's why I try to get the feel for it. I guess that helps a lot I guess. Low expectations helps a lot.
Q. Are you hitting the ball as far as you have been in the past? Or are you taking easier swings? Do you feel 100%?
SE RI PAK: Actually I feel 100 percent great. There is nothing problem in any of my shoulder. A little bit my elbow. They said it's normal to come down a little bit. Other than that, it didn't bother me to make the swing. But I'm kind of curious because I know I don't feel anything. But still you are kind of careful. Maybe a little shorter than the month ago. I guess not really hitting 100% solid shot. But kind of little differences, but not too much.
Q. Do you wear a brace on your shoulder?
SE RI PAK: No. I kind of actually tape it because my elbow was a little bothered because of the shoulder, just come down to that. Other than that, we don't wear anything.
Q. Se Ri, everybody is telling us that this rough is really thick, were your afraid at all trying to hit a full shot out of the rough?
SE RI PAK: You never change. It was at least. I'm here earlier this week. I got her Sunday, normally on Monday, to make sure I'm kind of trying to how I feel from the rest. But it wasn't really bothered my shoulder at all.
It was kind of scary earlier because even though you feel like 100% perfect, you just never know. I'm not really rushing to come out either because I asked the doctor ‑‑ we checked all of the motions. The conditions in my shoulder. There isn't a problem to come out right now. I have to take care of myself more than anybody. I was actually think quite a while. Make sure I'm okay to go out and play. Should I take more off. But I feel great. I don't have to sit down ‑‑ waiting. Of course, I would like to be at home. But I like to play golf too.
Q. When you first came to Rochester and played this course, you were young, you were good, and you were young. Now that you are older do you play this course any differently? Do you think the wisdom of playing this course helps now more than before?
SE RI PAK: This golf course doesn't really change any since 15 years ago ever. And there is nothing changed. I know the golf course pretty well. But it doesn't mean it makes it easier. I guess some time you don't know much about a golf course, even better.
Q. Do you play it any different now than you did 14 years ago?
SE RI PAK: Not at all. I know where to hit. Where it's going. It's pretty hard though. It's really difficult to being ‑‑ hit a tee shot because some landing spots really, really tight. You are hitting longer, like long distance player, even sometimes gets more harder.
The course helps, but it's pretty tight, the way you are hitting. It just always goes through the fairway when you hit a good shot. You are hitting from the rough. No, I don't think there is any change from 10 years ago, the same thing.
Q. It was an interesting pairing today. I know a lot of the younger South Koreans really admire you, and you are good with them, but how much of you wants to beat them?
SE RI PAK: Well, everybody has the same goal this week. You show up here trying to get the champion trophy here. Not trying to beat individually, I want to beat you. I don't think that makes sense. Everybody come out here for the trophy.
This is probably the first time for a long time I play with all Korean actually. Because normally playing someone, or one player with the other country, but this week is kind of different.
I also really enjoyed it.
Of course, all of the young, they call Se Ri kids, because they start because '98 I won the U.S. Open. They are at the golf course now, they play the pro the same time. They bring the round together, which makes me ‑‑ it doesn't make me that older than them. But at the same time I play with them makes me lots of excitement and enjoyment. Because when I see them, it makes me, when I'm back 14 years ago, at that age, 20 years old, 19 years old, 20 years old, of course, they are learning at the same time. They are playing with the best player. They actually loved it. They have dreams about it. I guess at that point I got together, like I said, it doesn't matter you rookie, doesn't matter you are top player, doesn't matter your ranging if you are No. 1 in the world, everybody has the same goal, fighting for and playing better than someone.
Q. Se Ri, if I could ask you a historical question, obviously, this is the year you are returning to Black Wolf Run, when you look back on all of the tournaments you've won, was that the single most important tournament in terms of what it meant to your country and what it meant to the LPGA and what it meant to you?
SE RI PAK: Yes, it is. First of all I'm very excited to go back to Black Wolf Run again. That's probably the most best memorable for tournament and best U.S. Open I ever had.
And after the U.S. Open, '98, my success begins. I don't really ‑‑ I got such a great time, a great memory, great, successful. I think that's the most for my country at the same time, for golf and my country, and for me, too, the biggest. And love it and best.
Now we talk about because we going back to U.S. Open again, Black Wolf Fun, and I've been almost a year, since last year fall, we are kind of back and forth, a couple of other media days from Wisconsin, it sounds like yesterday seriously.
When I get back there, I got back there a couple of weeks ago for media days. As soon as I walked in the clubhouse, and you see the 18 holes, it looks like you are right there again. So it's such a great time and such great memories. I'm very happy.
So I heard from my injury reports I wasn't sure I can go out and compete again. No problem. I guess that helps a lot.
Q. That was my question, when you were hurt was that one of the first things that came to your mind, you might not be able to return and play at Black Wolf Run?
SE RI PAK: It was, yes. Of course, you are probably missing half of the season maybe, or a full season, you never know. As soon as I heard we were going back to Wisconsin, Black Wolf Run, U.S. Open, I try to focus. Each tournament, I focus more on the U.S. Open.
But after it happened and the accident, I don't know. I don't know what to think. It's not going to be there until I don't know how long I'm playing golf. But we are not going to go back again forever. We never know. This time I didn't think we go back again. So, yes, that's actually hurting big time as soon as I got injured. But no more, no problem.
Q. That afternoon, it was a Monday afternoon, a lot of people watched, and it was you and Jenny. Jenny has gone on. She is a nurse now. She didn't end up having much of a pro career. But I talked to her recently and she said she still remembers how amazing it felt that Monday afternoon because it was just the two of you. Can you talk about the way it ended, especially going in the water for the shot and everything? There is so much that's memorable about just that Monday afternoon.
SE RI PAK: This one rookie ‑‑ it was first time playoff at the U.S. Open. So I thought normally the playoff, you are going for the three holes. And I finish 18, the last putt I made, and they said we are going to playoff. But I'm ready for the next couple of holes to go. Not hole 18.
The whole week was so difficult because the golf course is so difficult, but at the same time you are playing such a huge tournament. That's one of the biggest. I was dreams about it to win the tournament. And you are right there, and I am ready for extra couple of holes okay. I was ready. And the next thing I heard it, we are going to Monday. Monday for a couple of holes. They said, no, you are going to 18. So I heard it. I don't know what to think, I have to think hole 18 for a couple of days, how much it have a hard time, all of the stress playing golf, things like that. It is what it is.
I have to play the first in the morning on Monday, I was on the range just me and her. It felt kind of weird because we were there 120 players, full field. And the next thing you know, me and her, two of us, and on the range, I don't see much fans out there from the range. So I thought okay, everybody have to go to work, so it shouldn't be too crowded. So I got more, and I walked the tee, I was standing by the tee, and I saw fairway to the green. Probably the best gallery ever have. A huge gallery on Monday. Oh my God, that was unbelievable. You can pack the whole golf course. You can't even see it. There is so much fans out there. But that really makes a lot of excitement. A lot of crowd, a lot of loud people rooting for Jenny, rooting for me, because we were the same age, there was a big issue about the week on Monday.
So the first on 18, it's quite tight. Up and down, up and down, one down, like up, just up and down, all square and really tight all day, all day.
And then 18, of course, the last shot, the last hole, the game is over almost. It wasn't really a bad shot there. I kind of pull left. But I never thought it was going to be in the water.
And I walked and I prayed to make sure stay dry. Hopefully I see the ball. It should be there. I keep tell myself to walk the other way to my ball, but I can't see, when I get closer I still can't see my ball.
And the next thing my ball is going to be in the water, which is wet. It still doesn't mean I'm finished. She was about in the middle of the fairway. Well, I just do what I can do and make I find it.
And I saw the white thing. It was on top of the light grass. I can't believe we have to stand to go up there because the weight of the ball, I don't think that grass is going to hold it. But it was. I saw my ball there. Are you sure that's my ball? Yes, that's my ball.
Now the next thing I was talking to my caddy, I said, okay, this is my ball. So what am I going to do? What's the best shot I'm going to do? Drop or hitting from the water. Because we don't have that much time. But my mind we talk this one for hour.
So me and caddy, I don't know what to do. Should I hit it or not? And I'm trying to walk down, trying to go in the water and make sure I can swing for it.
And I get down there and check my ball, it's pretty close because there is no angle because the wall right in front of my ball is so high. Even if I got a lob‑wedge it wasn't actually much change.
But I decided I'm going for it because I really happy about the way I'm here, and I'm trying to get as my experience.
The next thing I know, you are not going to do that. So I'm trying to learning from that shot. So I try. I'm kind of a little aggressive. But I did.
As soon as I hit it, I think I closed my eyes too, because I can't watch it.
It's probably the best every contact in my career. It's probably solid as I ever had. Such a great hit, and I don't know what is next, my ball is going to react. Because I don't hit ‑‑ to bank the water, or hit somewhere I'm not sure.
The next thing I heard for a second people are clapping, I know I am out actually in the water.
So now I said no matter, no matter what happened, you never know until you finish 18 and you took your glove off. Never give up. Never finish it. Golf is a fun game. So that's why that day so much grateful for that moment because I love it a lot for a whole week. That's why I think that time gets all of my career begin.
MODERATOR: Kind of an up and down day for you, a couple of birdies, three bogeys in a row, what was working for you today? What wasn't working for you today? Just take us through your round.
JEONG JANG: I had a lot of birdies and I have four, and one eagle, and I had a lot of bogeys as well. This course is really tough, and I have to hit it in the fairway, and I only think one thing today was keeping it in fairway. It was different the last few years. I didn't come last year, but it's been different the last few years that I come here.
MODERATOR:You already have a Major championship win under your belt.
JEONG JANG: Yes.
MODERATOR: And you've had some success here before winning in the 2006. What would it mean to you to win on this course as a major?
JEONG JANG: I would say just welcome home. Just comfortable more and more and just winning here, and I think it would be a nice comeback maybe. And I also had about a year and a half off. And since I had a second knee surgery, and I had a baby. It's nice to come back, and I love golf again.
MODERATOR: Tell us about your baby.
JEONG JANG: My baby is seven months old now. My life is totally changed after I had a baby. I can't be mad after the round. It doesn't matter how I play bad. I'm just happy to be traveling with her, just totally different, just different.
MODERATOR: I saw your face when you were done and you saw your baby after your round, how has your career changed as you became a mom on Tour?
JEONG JANG: Just simple because I had a 3‑putt on last hole. It could be really upset, and I couldn't say any word and after. And now I saw baby today after, and I forgot right away. I don't remember I had a 3‑putt last hole. Just different. I'm just enjoying it.
Q. J.J., were you watching the leaderboard and chasing or were you just trying to ignore what the scores were? Obviously there were some scores up there to chase but were you just doing your own thing?
JEONG JANG: I couldn't watch the leaderboard at all today. Just the first hole maybe. I didn't get any chance to watch but I knew 3‑under was leading, and I was thinking nobody is going to be like 4‑under and 5‑under, so I really didn't get to see the leaderboard which is good.
MODERATOR: Earlier this week you were given a plaque by the Korean War Veterans Association. Tell us how you got involved with that and getting that plaque from them.
JEONG JANG: I was getting to Mrs. Beck and she is actually from here. After I won in '06, and just after I was winning here, and we wanted to celebrate there, the White Haven Memorial Park. I met a lot of guys there. I keep going there and keep going and see the guys and we had a lunch. Two different things, I feel really sad for them, and I feel really thanks for them. I couldn't be here if not there. I just want to always say thank you to them. I wish I could do like every year like if I come here every year.
Q. Cheyenne, tell us overall how you played today?
CHEYENNE WOODS: I was pretty happy overall. I had a few blips here and there, but I started off really strong even through 9. I had a few really good putts that I was really excited. It felt good to have the crowd and cheer you on because we are not used to that playing college golf and junior golf. It's great to be out here with the amazing crowd here in Rochester.
Q. How much attention have you been used to throughout your career? How is it this week?
CHEYENNE WOODS: It's been a little different. There has been a lot of more eyes that have been on me now. But as I've said before I've been having to deal with media a long time having the last name of Woods. It's really nothing that I'm not used to.
Q. Any advice you got from Tiger this week?
CHEYENNE WOODS: Just trust my abilities, have fun and be patient.
Q. How tough was the course?
CHEYENNE WOODS: The course was playing really tough. He rough is really thick. I found it a few times. The greens are rolling really nice. So it's in great shape.
Q. The finish, how did that feel?
CHEYENNE WOODS: It felt really good especially the grandstands and the fans. I was trying to save par so fortunately I did.
Q. Does it feel any differently now that you're a professional?
CHEYENNE WOODS: Yes, definitely, this is my career now. Playing obviously to improve and get better. But I mean it's exciting because this is what I love and I am actually getting paid for it.
Q. What was your main purpose, what you really want to accomplish in your first event?
CHEYENNE WOODS: My first event, you know, just boost my confidence. It's a little intimidating being out here with the Yani Tsengs and Paula Creamers for the first time. I'm just excited, taking everything in and using it as experience for my future career.
Q. Is it any easier on you or a lighter feeling in your shoulder tomorrow?
CHEYENNE WOODS: I'm sure I will still have the nerves on the first tee. But playing the course once under the tournament conditions I should be a little more comfortable and hopefully I will be able to have a few more birdies tomorrow.
Q. When was the last time you talked to Tiger, did he text you today?
CHEYENNE WOODS: Yes, he has always been really supportive. He wanted to wish me luck and told me to just trust my game and that's what I'm trying to do.
Q. How was it out there for you today?
YANI TSENG: I didn't play really well. There was really no wind there for me, and I didn't make putt. I hit the ball right and left and I don't hit it on the fairway. If you can't hit it in the fairway on this course, it's kind of tough to hit a low score. But I was very surprised that scores didn't go very low today. So obviously I have a little chance to get it back tomorrow. Hopefully to make some birdies.
Q. Did you just drive it off the fairway too much?
YANI TSENG: No, I didn't. I know it's my mental problem. I'm hitting so well on the driving range. And when I get on the first tee, it's just something wrong with it. I need to get my mental set up as good as it was before like the beginning of this year, to get ready to feel the confidence and to enjoy more on the golf course.
Q. Do you know of any injury? I hear you might be dealing with a wrist thing.
YANI TSENG: No, just a little tight this morning. That is not a problem for the score today.
Q. Is it more frustrating because the scores weren't real low? Did you feel there was some opportunities out there?
YANI TSENG: Yes, but I mean I save lots of shot, too. I just couldn't hit the shot, couldn't hit it on the green, couldn't hit it on the fairways. So it's really tough for me out there. This is probably my worse score for this year. I was very disappointed because I love the golf course, and I know I can have a low score here and I didn't do great today, hopefully I can do better tomorrow
Q. You have seen the scores are not that great, do you still feel like you are within striking distance and can get things better tomorrow?
YANI TSENG: Yes, I think so. I get it back tomorrow, make some birdie on the first few holes. I'm going to try to make as more birdies as I can. I know I played 19‑under last year with the scores, so I know I can shoot low score here. I will see tomorrow.