Wegmans LPGA Championship Pre-tournament notes and interviews

Yani Tseng reacts after winning putt
Photo Credit: Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Yani Tseng of Taiwan celebrates on the 18th green after winning the Wegmans LPGA Championship at Locust Hill Country Club.

Wegmans LPGA Championship
Locust Hill Country Club
Rochester, New York
Pre-tournament notes and interviews
June 5 & 6, 2012

Yani Tseng, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 3
Cristie Kerr, Rolex Rankings No. 7
Azahara Munoz, Rolex Rankings No. 18
Suzann Pettersen, Rolex Rankings No. 5
Lexi Thompson, Rolex Rankings No. 21
Cheyenne Woods

June 6, 2012

The LPGA Tour will kick off the Wegmans LPGA Championship - the second major of the season -- at Locust Hill Country Club outside of Rochester, New York on Thursday. An elite field of 150 players will be competing for a $2.5 million purse and a $375,000 first-place check.

Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng is back to defend her title after defeating Cindy LaCrosse and Morgan Pressel by 10 strokes at last year's Wegmans LPGA Championship. Past champs of the LPGA Championship also include Rolex Ranking No. 7 Cristie Kerr and No. 31 Anna Nordqvist, who are ready to make their way back into the winner's circle. Kerr's last victory was at the 2010 Wegmans LPGA Championship with a record breaking 12-stroke win. She spent five weeks in the 2010 season in the Rolex Rankings No. 1 position, but ultimately finished No. 2. Nordqvist's last victory was the LPGA Tour Championship in 2009, but she has recorded 11 top-10s including two runner-ups since then.

The Wegmans LPGA Championship is the second-longest running tournament is LPGA history, surpassed only by the U.S. Women's Open. Many of the LPGA greats including Mickey Wright (1963), Kathy Whitworth (1967, 1971, 1975), Nancy Lopez (1978, 1985, 1989), Patty Sheehan (1983, 1984, 1993) and Annika Sorenstam (2003-2005) have hoisted the winner's trophy.

Bringing back memories? Yani Tseng's victory at the Wegmans LPGA Championship last year was nothing less than dominant, as the world's No. 1 golfer captured a 10-shot victory over the field en route to what was an impressive 2011 season overall.

Tseng became the youngest female golfer in history to win four major titles at 22 years, 4 months and 18 days when she won here in Rochester last year. She went on to win four additional tournaments at the RICOH Women's British Open (her fifth career major), Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G, LPGA Hanabank Championship and the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship, taking her total victories for the season to seven. She finished with 14 top-10s, her second consecutive Rolex Player of the Year Award, and her first Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average with 69.66.

Now she's back in Rochester to defend her title, having recorded three victories at Honda LPGA Thailand, RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup and the Kia Classic. But while Tseng has had so much success over a short span of time, it hasn't kept her from feeling the typical pressure to defend her titles.

"I think it's hard to not say I have no pressure because I think there is a pressure there," Tseng said of trying to make it back-to-back majors at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. " I just try to turn that pressure as a positive pressure. Just enjoy that pressure. Sometimes it's good to have a little pressure to push you to get better. So this way my goal is smile to the game because my coach just told me if you smile to the game, the game will smile to you. So that's kind of my goal for this week and try to not think too much and not trying too hard to play well. It's okay if I don't win. At least I had a good attitude, 100% attitude on the golf course."

On a roll… Last week, Stacy Lewis jumped up to No. 3 in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings, surpassing No. 7 Cristie Kerr as the top American on Tour. Winning two of the last three tournaments, Lewis has quite a bit of momentum heading into this week. She has found confidence in her swing and putting, ranking in the top-5 in several statistical categories.

With a Kraft Nabisco Championship victory already under her belt, Lewis is ready to take on the Locust Hill Country Club and tally her second Major win.

"I think careers are made and a lot is based on major wins," Lewis said. "I think that's what everybody looks at. I don't really approach it any differently. I think the golf course is harder, so you have to be a little bit sharper with all parts of your game. And you know, a major win, just to be a major champion is something that never goes away. Once you are a Major champion, you always are. So to win one is pretty amazing and to win another would be awesome."

Making strides… Rolex Rankings No. 18 Azahara Munoz has been on a hot streak for the past month, notching her first LPGA victory at the Sybase Match Play Championship and earning three additional top-5 finishes. The 24-year-old has reached a new confidence level in her game.

"I've been playing really well all year," Munoz said. "So I was getting more and more confidence every week but obviously the win really helps, too. When you have a couple of good weeks, and you finish up there and you see that you can compete with the best players, you know, that helps your confidence."

Munoz will now try to carry that confidence into the season's second major. While the 2010 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year has now been able to put herself in the winner's circle there are still plenty of goals to attain - one being to join that elite group of major winners. She hopes to have that happen this week but with the success she's had in recent weeks, Munoz has already found herself being talked about as one of the young 20-somethings to watch on the LPGA.

"Obviously Yani is playing amazing," Munoz said. "Maybe not as good this year but it was really hard to match. And Stacy is playing great. There are so many, Paula and all of these girls. I think the more girls that are playing good and are in contention every week is better for the Tour, and I think is more fun to watch."

Looking to get back on top: Cristie Kerr was honest when asked if her thoughts on losing her title as top American in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings to Stacy Lewis this past week.

"It does fire me up," Kerr said. "I don't like it."

Kerr had held the position as the top American in women's golf since Nov. 23, 2009 but while Kerr has long been one of the most consistent players on Tour, she has not won since the 2010 Wegmans LPGA Championship. She's made some tweaks recently - changing caddies, tweaking her swing and fine tuning her focus - in hopes of returning to her winning ways.

"I've played a lot of good golf since then and just haven't been able to kind of go over the edge," Kerr said. "I feel good. I feel like my game is in a lot better shape than it was in the beginning of the year now. I've done a lot of great work with my coach Brian, and my new caddy, which was an old caddy, Worth. I'm about as comfortable as I've been in the last couple of years on the course. I'm ready to compete again. I got a lot of the outside distractions out. My focus has been a little different this week than it has been all year, so I'm expecting it to be there for the tournament."

Tweet of the Day: "Look at the size of this hail on the 11th tee!" -- @mariahjorth, on the severe weather that halted play during the pro-am on Wednesday.

Of Note…There are 19 rookies in the field this week at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. The last rookie to win this event was Anna Nordqvist in 2009 when she became a Rolex First-Time Winner…19 of the top 25 players in the Rolex Rankings are in this week's field…Golf Channel will be on the air from 12:00- 2:30 p.m. ET on Thursday and Friday and it will feature five hours of coverage, 2:00-7:00 p.m. ET on both Saturday and Sunday.

June 5, 2012

The LPGA Tour travels to Locust Hill Country Club outside of Rochester, New York this week, where the ladies will be playing for a $2.5 million purse in the Wegmans LPGA Championship.  The second of four majors on the schedule this year, the Wegmans LPGA Championship will feature one of the season’s best fields.

Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng won the 2011 Wegmans LPGA Championship defeating Cindy LaCrosse and Morgan Pressel by 10 strokes, closing out her victory with a 66 in the final-round.  She became the youngest female golfer in history to win four major titles at 22 years, 4 months and 18 days.  She went on to win four additional tournaments at the RICOH Women’s British Open, Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G, LPGA Hanabank Championship and the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship, taking her total victories for the season to seven.  She finished with 14 top-10s, her second consecutive Rolex Player of the Year Award, and her first Vare Trophy for the lowest scoring average with 69.66.  So far in the 2012 season she has recorded three victories at Honda LPGA Thailand, RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup and the Kia Classic.    

Tweet, Tweet! This week the LPGA Tour is rolling out caddie bibs that feature players’ Twitter handles on the back along with their last name. It’s an effort by the LPGA to help make the Tour and its players more accessible to fans.

The LPGA and the Wegmans LPGA Championship are the first golf tour and golf event to feature this type of program. The LPGA expects to continue the program at the majority of tournaments on the 2012 schedule and the players all seem excited by the new initiative.

"Now we have to just Twitter on and off the golf course pretty much," said Suzann Pettersen. "It's also a nice opportunity for us to interact as much as you want, or however you want to deal with it with them, with each and every one.  It's a very good social media thing.  And I think there are a lot of the LPGA girls quite active.  So there is no reason not to follow us now."

Quite the process… It’s been a slow start to the season for Rolex Rankings No. 5 Suzann Pettersen, but even though she’s not seeing results on the scoreboard, she consistently seeing positive changes in her golf game. With her last win at the 2011 Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola, Pettersen has only placed in the top-10 five times ever since. Although she is unhappy with her results, she is happy with the progression she has made this season.

"The thing with golf that I really enjoy, you have to look at it as a process," Pettersen said. "If I look at my results this year, okay, I'm not happy with the results.  I'm enjoying the process.  I feel like stuff is starting to click.  It's a game of patience as much as it is hard work and kind of grinding it out every day.  That's kind of the beauty of golf.  You go through times where you feel like you play well, and you don't score.  And then you go through times where you feel like you play awful, and you shoot 68 every time you step on the golf course.  It's just how the game is and you can't be too hard on yourself." 

Pettersen believes her time away from the leaderboard has taught her patience and confidence that her next win may be in the near future.

"You can work as hard as you want, but at the same time you got to give yourself a break and tap yourself on the shoulder even though the results may not be right where you want them, but they could be right around the corner." 

New face, familiar name: Cheyenne Woods is making her professional debut this week at the Wegmans LPGA Championship as a sponsor exemption, but her name has long been familiar to golf fans due to her famous relative.

The niece of PGA Tour legend Tiger Woods, Cheyenne has faced an onslaught of media attention since a young age. But having recently graduated from Wake Forest, the 21-year-old is set to embark on her own professional golf career and she kicked it off in style last week. Within a 48-hour span, Woods received her sponsor exemption into the Wegmans LPGA Championship and then qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open which meant that her first two professional tournaments will be majors.

Woods said during her press conference that she’s excited but a little nervous to now be a professional. She has the full support of her famous uncle in the process and Woods said she’s appreciative to be able to go to him for advice. And while there is attention focused on her from day one due to her having the last name of Woods, Cheyenne believes that the exposure won’t hamper her game.

"The most difficult thing I would say, is dealing with the expectation and the pressure," Woods said of having Tiger as her uncle. "But I have dealt with it for a long time and I have somehow been able to play my own game.  That's mainly what I try to think about is play my own game and just try to do my own thing and not worry about what others are thinking.

Beyond playing this week and at the U.S. Women’s Open, Woods doesn’t know what her tournament schedule will be for the rest of her summer. Her hope is to play as many tournaments as she can before taking part in LPGA Tour Qualifying School this fall, where she hopes to earn fully-exempt status for the 2013 season.

"This is the first time in my life that I'm focusing strictly on golf," Woods said. "There is no school that's on the side that I have to really spend a lot of time on.  Every day it's golf.  Working out.  Really focusing on my career.  So I'm really looking forward to that."

Peeking at the right time? This season, rookie standout Lexi Thompson has proven she has what it takes to compete among the LGPA most elite players. Finishing second at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic and tied for fifth at ShopRite LPGA Classic last weekend (her last two events) has helped her move up to 21st in the Rolex Rankings. She is second behind fellow rookie So Yeon Ryu in the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race.

Thompson ranks fifth on the Tour with an average driving distance of 274 yards, but for the past few weeks she’s been practicing on other aspects of her game.

"I've been practicing a lot of hours a day on my short game," Thompson said. "I'm learning that's extremely important out here.  So you can't ball strike it well every week, so you have to learn short game, putting and everything.  So I just been working on every aspect of my game and continuing to improve hopefully."

Honoring the Veterans. On Tuesday, the men and women of the Monroe County Korean War Veteran Association presented a crystal plaque honoring Jeong Jang for her generous donations to the group since she won in Rochester back in 2006, prior to the tournament becoming a LPGA major.

On June 25, 2006, a local supporter of the Association, Byoung Baek, decided watch the Wegmans LPGA with hopes to persuade the winner to visit the memorial after the tournament. That day marks the beginning of the Korean War, which happened to be the day the South Korean won her second LPGA Tour victory. Jang and her family agreed to visit the memorial following her media obligations that day and she has gone back every year she’s been in Rochester ever since. 

Jang has donated to the association every year to help with the upkeep of the memorial. The memory of those who fought in the Korean War is slowly starting to fade throughout the U.S. The Association appreciates Jang’s support and will always be their favorite LPGA player.

Tweet of the Day: "New bag! @ThePCreamer don't be too jealous ;-)" --@Ryann O’Toole, who tweeted a photo of the new pink bag

Of Note…There are 19 rookies in the field this week at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. The last rookie to win this event was Anna Nordqvist in 2009 when she became a Rolex First-Time Winner…19 of the top 25 players in the Rolex Rankings are in this week’s field…Golf Channel will be on the air from 12:00- 2:30 p.m. ET on Thursday and Friday and it will feature five hours of coverage, 2:00-7:00 p.m. ET on both Saturday and Sunday.

YANI TSENG, Rolex Rankings No. 1

MODERATOR: We would like to welcome Rolex rankings No. 1 and defending champion, Yani Tseng, into the interview room. Thank you so much for joining us today. Last year was a pretty special year for you here winning by 10 shots and becoming the youngest female golfer ever to win 4 Majors. And we know you've gone on and done some exciting things since then.
Can you first off take me back through the memories of last year and what is it is like to be back here again.

YANI TSENG: I mean, it's always very happy to be back here. And I have the really wonderful memory of last year. The play on Sunday, it's pretty fun on the back 9 because I know I had a big shot lead, and I just enjoy and smile all the way. And the crowd here was amazing. Because I know, I'm not American and I'm from Taiwan. It was a long way, but everybody on Sunday, they all stand up on the 18th hole to cheer for me, clap for me. That was very emotional. I feel very appreciative for all of the support in the states here and I just feel, I mean United States is like my second home. I always have fans here supporting me and they just give me lots of motivation to play well.

MODERATOR: We know you accomplished so much last year, 7 wins on the LPGA Tour. 12 wins world-wide. But the Majors seem to be something that you always set your sights on. You now have 5 career Majors, and last year you became the youngest male or female to accomplish that feat. Do you gear up differently for Majors and do you treat them any differently than other tournaments?
YANI TSENG: I just try to treat the Majors as tournaments, but the Major, when it gets here, you can feel the natural pressure. It's kind of automatic there is a pressure there. But the Major is always to me very easy to focus on every shot. And we always play the tough course for the Majors, so we know everybody knows bogey is okay. You make double, you try to save more shots as you can, because everybody is going to make bogey. So the course for the Majors you just need to be very patient. You don't have to be perfect to win every tournament but you just need to stay patient and have a good attitude.

MODERATOR: And have you gotten out on the golf course already this week and what are your thoughts early on on this course?
YANI TSENG: I think it's much tougher than last year. I think the green was faster and the fairway was like two or three yards tighter and the rough is very thick. It's really thick. I hit it yesterday. It was really hard to hit out of the rough. It's like when you hit into the rough, you gust just got to lay up. So I think this week, I think short game is very important. And keep on the fairway is the most important for me like last year because this is not a really long course but you got to keep it on the fairway and that's kind of my goal for this week.

Q. Are you happy with your game right now?
YANI TSENG: Not yesterday. But I didn't play well in the practice round yesterday. But after that I work out with my trainer and my coach and everything and my body balance. It feels good. Today when I am warming up on the driving range, I feel pretty good, I feel my game is there and ready to go.

Q. Yani, do you pay attention to people who are following you as far as like a Stacy Lewis obviously had a big jump last week; she is now the No. 1 American. Do you pay attention any of that, sitting on top you must have to?
YANI TSENG: Yes, I do, but I try not thinking too much because I kind of focus on my game. Every shot, every tournament. Because we have so many good players on the Tour, every week you don't know who is going to win, but everybody have a chance to win. You just need to do your best and keep working harder because I feel this is just the beginning for me, so there is still a long way to go.

Q. The Tour has applauded you for being so open with the media and trying to kind of give the Tour a new face, are you getting that reaction back from the crowds or the fans? Are you seeing people open up to you?
YANI TSENG: Yes. I feel much more people recognize me in the states. I was very happy sometime when I walk on the street. Oh, there is Yani. So they always come up and say, good job, and thanks for a great performance and how much you've done for the LPGA.
I am very happy. I really appreciate the sports here.

Q. Do you ever get frustrated with the men's Tour; Tiger has a good day and that's all anybody talks about, and Rory Mcilroy wins and you've won 5?
YANI TSENG: I kind of go through that already. When I was rookie here, I kind of come from nowhere, and even I win a Major, and I didn't get as much attention as other players. But I just kind of keep to myself. I just need to keep doing the job that I need to do and just try to win more and other people will pay attention to me.

MODERATOR: Yani, she asked about Stacy, and how well Stacy has been playing well lately. She has won 2 out of the last 3 events and has been moving her way up the Rolex rankings, when you see her game, what are your thoughts on her game? Everybody always talks about who is going to be the next challenger for you because you are so far ahead in the No. 1 spot, is she someone that you can see becoming one of those people who pushes you even more in your game?
YANI TSENG: Yes, I think so. I think like a few of us, we kind of push our game to be better and better. Push each other and learning from each other. Stacy, she can putt. She can hit the ball. She hits pretty far, too. So I think she is a pretty aggressive player. It was always having fun playing with her and learn something from her. She probably just played a different course than us last week because I heard she had a three double and still shot like 13-under and finished 3-under. Just a week, I'm learning from last week and trying to improve this week.

Q. You said you were frustrated yesterday, I only saw you hit one tee shot and hooked it left. Is it your driver that you are worried about after yesterday?
YANI TSENG: Yes, my driver. Yesterday I play 9 hole, I probably only hit two fairways. I was hitting left, and even when I try to sink in, it was hitting right. So it was kind of a struggle because I just feel my body wasn't right. It's not my swing, it's just the balance of my body and I just need to keep working on it. Maybe do some cardio this week and do some workout with my trainer. I think that's going to help a lot.

Q. What did you do yesterday for your balance specifically?
YANI TSENG: My physio was here. He kept trying to moving my right hip a little bit. It feels like it was a little up and down. And my trainer kind of do lots of lower body and balance to keep everything good in balance.

Q. Just going back to Sunday, I think we all kind of expected you to make a bit of a charge on Sunday, or somebody to chase Stacy a little bit. What was your frustration on Sunday? You seem Saturday night to be so relaxed and comfortable and ready to go?
YANI TSENG: Yes, I think I just tried too hard. I haven't played well a few tournaments on Sunday. I think I just try too hard to be perfect. I couldn't putt. I shot 4-over on the front 9, and I had a good comeback, 3-under on the back 9. But I had 3, 3-putts in a row on the front 9, so that's kind of hard to deal with. But I'm happy that I had a three birdie on the back and it was a good comeback.

Q. Yani, last year you had the tough loss at Kraft, and then you rebounded so strongly here, how important was it to come back that strong in your next Major?
YANI TSENG: Yes, hopefully I could do the same thing like last year because I didn't win at Kraft this year. But I kind of just forget about the tournament. I learn from the mistake and always looking for the next week because it's hard to play perfect, play like winning every week. But you just need to give your hundred percent effort on every shot and do the best you can. And if that still didn't play well, but I'm very happy that I give 100% effort. I didn't give any shots. So after that I just talked to my coach and talked to my friend to see how can I do better next week and how can I improve myself and keep building the confidence instead of losing confidence.

Q. Yani, you're defending, do you feel pressure to defend, or is it just -- I know you are very goal oriented, or is it something it helps you shoot for?
YANI TSENG: I think it's hard to not say I have no pressure because I think there is a pressure there. I just try to turn that pressure as a positive pressure shoe. Just enjoy that pressure. Sometimes it's good to have a little pressure to push you to get better. So this way my goal is smile to the game because my coach just told me if you smile to the game, the game will smile to you. So that's kind of my goal for this week and try to not think too much and not trying too hard to play well. It's okay if I don't win. At least I had a good attitude, 100% attitude on the golf course.

Q. Also at Kraft this year, you had spoke about how it wasn't crushing. It wasn't like it was the year before. Have you learned that you can't take losing or not winning so hard?
YANI TSENG: I think it's kind of a same problem for me. Sometime when I want to be too perfect. But sometimes for the Major, on Sunday, it's very tough. You just need to save some shots. You need to make good putts to winning the tournament. But I think on Sunday of Kraft, I just needed a little more luck to win. I don't feel like I played terrible. I don't feel like a year before that I just couldn't hit the ball . I'm giving of myself and stressful on the course.

But like this year, even when I don't make putts, but it's over, it goes. Sometime a little luck, it can get in. But it just didn't work out for me on that day. I was really happy that I stayed. I smiled all the way, and I chin up and I didn't let myself down and have enjoyed that week and tried to improve that.

STACY LEWIS, Rolex Rankings No. 3

MODERATOR: We would like to welcome Rolex rankings No. 3 Stacy Lewis into the interview room. That's got to have a pretty good sound to it right there. Stacy is coming off victories in two of her last three events. It's been quite an ascension for you up the Rolex rankings so far this year. Can you take me through what the start of this year has been like for you like and what it meant for you last week when you realized that you were now the top American in ranking?
STACY LEWIS: Yes, I got off to a good start this year. Probably the best start I had since I lost in a playoff in Australia. From there I played pretty solid and kept working on things with my game and felt like I was really close. And then these last couple of tournaments, everything is finally coming together.
You know, I think you probably saw on my face when Jerry asked me at the end of the round last week what it felt like to be the top American and No. 3 in the world, and I'm still speechless. I don't even know what to say. It is something that you work so hard for and to finally get it it's unbelievable. I woke up here Monday morning, and I checked my phone to make sure that it actually did happen.

MODERATOR: I know it was a goal of yours starting this year to be the top American in the rankings and also the lead in Solheim Cup points which you have been doing as well. Where do you go now? What kind of goals do you set now going forward now that those certain points have been reached?
STACY LEWIS: My coach was scheduled to come in town even before I won last week. He came. We didn't really talk about much about the golf swing or anything I was working on today. It was more where do we go from here? What goals do we set? It was about keeping myself in contention. It's not winning tournaments or winning a number of events. It's to put myself in contention. I think if you are here in the last group four times you are probably going to get it done at least once. Just to keep knocking on the door and keep trying to get better every day.

MODERATOR: You have been through a lot over the past year since you became a Rolex first time winner at the Kraft Nabisco championship. You became a first time winner and major winner in the same week. What do major championships mean and coming into a week like this do you approach anything different? What would it mean for you to win another major?
STACY LEWIS: I think careers are made and a lot is based on major wins. I think that's what everybody looks at. I don't really approach it any differently. I think the golf course is harder, so you have to be a little bit more sharper with all parts of your game. And you know, a major win, just to be a major champion is something that never goes away. Once you are a Major champion, you always are. So to win one is pretty amazing and to win another would be awesome.

Q. What I want to ask you about, at this golf course two years in a row we had a complete blowout victory by Yani and Cristie. First part of the question is, does that surprise you on a course that can be demanding and difficulty getting in trouble that that could happen? And second of all, this year it seems like the Tour with 8 different winners is a little more balanced for whatever reason and it's probably not going to happen this year. Would you please address both parts of that question, please.
STACY LEWIS: Right. This golf course, I think, it sets itself up for some one to run away with it. If your driving is straight and making putts, you are going to lap the field here. If you hit it in the rough, you are making bogey pretty quickly. It's a golf course that you can go low on if you are hitting it straight. That's what happened the last couple of years.
And then what was the second part?

Q. 8 different winners so far, it just seems like a lot of girls are playing well. Even though Yani has won 3, it doesn't seem like she is really dominating the Tour?
STACY LEWIS: Right. I think, first of all, it's great the Tour. I think it's great that we've got multiple people winning. Yani hasn't showed her dominance over the last couple of weeks and that's probably going to drive her even more this week. I think it's great for the Tour. But the golf course this week, it's tougher than I think it's been in years passed. I don't see somebody running away with it like they have the last couple of weeks.

Q. Why is it tougher? What are you seeing out there?
STACY LEWIS: I think the rough this year is very long. They were out with the mowers yesterday and it didn't even look like they were cutting anything off.
So the rough, I think it's harder than I've ever seen it. And the greens aren't quite as soft as they've been. So I think if the rain holds off the rest of the week they are just going to continue to dry out and certain greens are going to be hard to hold. And then you get some squirrely lies around the greens and it sets itself up for a major championship

Q. Stacy, it seems as if right now, as compelling as your back story is, you are beyond that. You are a Major player out on this Tour. Can you talk about moving passed that mindset where somebody is sort of asking you about the difficulties of growing up and now asking you about winning tournaments every week?
STACY LEWIS: Well, that's something that I've been wanting over the last couple of years is more people to see that I'm more than just a great story. That I can play out here, and I'm one of the best players. That's something that's driven me every day.
It's great that I get asked about my back, and I love that people are inspired by it, but for me, I was talking to my Pro-Am guys today and my surgery was nine years ago. So it seems likes yesterday, and I moved passed it, now for me it's just winning golf tournaments.

Q. Stacy, you have that No. 1 ranking now as an American coming into this week, do you embrace the attention that comes with it? Some players don't seem to take to that, but you are going to get this probably everywhere you go, do you embrace it, do you look forward to it?
STACY LEWIS: I do. It's something that a couple of years ago I probably wouldn't have looked forward to. But I've been trying to prepare myself for this because I know as I play better, there is going to be more attention with it, and to really embrace it.

And I do like it. I like having the pressure on me. I like people expecting me to do well and to play well because that's what I expect of myself. I am ready for it. I want to just continue to move up the rankings.

MODERATOR: As you were talking about embracing being the top American, everybody has looked over the past year, so to speak, who is going to be the next great challenger for Yani.
Is that a role that you really want to embrace yourself and to be that person that maybe pushes her and kind of cuts that gap in her top ranking?

STACY LEWIS: Yes, absolutely. I couldn't tell you how many times I got asked last year why Yani was so dominant. We get tired of answering it. I wanted to be the player that challenges her. We always get asked, where is the American players? Why aren't we contending every week, and things like that. For me, I just got tired of answering them, so I just kind of tried to let my golf speak for itself.

Q. Can you maybe talk about the way you think your way around the course because it seems like it's a very cerebral game, but you've improved that, and also just the way you improved your consistency with your putting?
STACY LEWIS: Yes, I think I've always thought my way around the golf course. But now I've got my caddy that I really trust and we really strategize all the time, whether it's in a practice round or looking at a flag for the next day or whatever it is.

We are always thinking our way around. Where is going to be the best putt? Where is the best way to get up and down? For me, I'm not the longest hitter, I'm not the straightest. I'm pretty good at everything, so I have to kind of use what I have to get it done.

Q. And your putting?
STACY LEWIS: I would say putting, I've been working on my putting over the last couple of years. That's really been the thing that's held me back, especially last year. A lot of it is the tempo of my stroke. I tend to get quick and get fast and not to trust what I'm doing. It's not very many mechanics. A lot of it low of it is in my head. Believing you are set up in a certain place and believing that you can make the putt.

MODERATOR: I know you were saying about how much it means to move past your story about your back and have people look at you as a golfer. But it's something that you will always carry and something that you embraced as a role model. This month is national scoliosis awareness month, and to win last week and maybe kind of bring awareness to that again, is it something that you want to have in the back of your mind that you used? Do you still find people that don't know your story.
STACY LEWIS: Absolutely. I think every week someone comes up to me and says I just read about your story in the newspaper. For me I get tired of saying the same thing over and over again. But if that one more person is inspired by it, I will tell it again and again. I just feel so lucky to be doing what I'm doing. I have a metal rod and screws in my back. You don't think you would be able to play golf. So I just feel really lucky. I'm just trying to embrace it.

Q. Did you have any players when you were a little younger that you modeled yourself after, or thought I want to be like that if I reach that level, just in terms of maybe the personality out on the course or how you go about your business, is there anybody that you ever looked at and thought that's what I would like to be like?
STACY LEWIS: I don't know, growing up I really didn't watch that much golf so I didn't really expect to be doing this for a living so I really didn't watch it very much. I don't know. I don't think I really have any one.

Q. You talked about request the technical things that you have been doing to become in contention every week, what do you think mentally is the difference for when you come out to the course every week and you think you have a chance to contend?
STACY LEWIS: I don't know. I feel differently about myself. I feel like when I step up on the tee that I can win. I feel like my golf swing is in a place that I can play any type of golf course. I don't even know. It's just a different feeling about yourself. I guess it's more confidence in yourself, doing extra things. I don't know, I don't even know what it is. It's just the way you feel and the way you go about your business, I guess.

CRISTIE KERR, Rolex Rankings No. 7

MODERATOR: We would like to welcome Rolex rankings No. 7 Cristie Kerr into the interview room. Thank you very much for joining us today. A bit of a wet Pro-Am out there, not what you were expecting, can you tell me about the day and what the course is playing like. You have seen this course quite a few times, how different is it playing this year maybe than past years?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, I thought it was actually a little bit softer during the week and it was starting to firm up nicely until we got about an inch of rain and hail in 10 minutes. My Pro-Am guys actually were the R.R. Donnelly (phn) guys, and they decided not to go back out. We had a hole and a half left, we were on 17 fairway hitting into the green and they are like, we had fun, you were great, we are going to leave now. So the last time that happened was actually the year that I won. My Pro-Am guys that week had three holes left to go and decided not to go back out so maybe it's a good luck thing to me.

Q. It doesn't seem that long ago you were up here holding this trophy that we see have sitting next to us. Take me through those memories and that was your last victory, what will it take for you, do you think, to kind of get back in the winner's circle this week?
CRISTIE KERR: It's hard to believe that was a year and a half, two years ago. Time really flys. I've played a lot of good golf since then and just haven't been able to kind of go over the edge. I feel good. I feel like my game is in a lot better shape than it was in the beginning of the year now. I've done a lot of great work with my coach Brian, and my new caddy, which was an old caddy, Worth. I'm about as comfortable as I've been in the last couple of years on the course. I'm ready to compete again. I got a lot of the outside distractions out. My focus has been a little different this week than it has been all year, so I'm expecting it to be there for the tournament.

Q. Last week was the first time you that had Worth back on the bag for a while, what was that like and how easy was it for you guys to kind of find that flow like you had before?
CRISTIE KERR: He was great. He is really easy going and he kind of puts me at ease. He judges conditions very well. It was just easier. It just seemed easier. It seemed pretty easy this week, and we have fallen right back into thinking through things well and judging things. I'm very hopeful. It's been a while since I've had fun on the golf course. I feel like I've had a lot of fun with him the last week and a half. That's the first part of it for me is to be able to have fun with what I'm doing and not make it feel like it's a job even though it is. I feel like I'm pretty close. I feel like I'm ready to compete again.

Q. So we had back to back to back blowout wins here in this tournament. Obviously you enjoyed yours, but watching Yani do the same thing, was that surprising in a Major on a course that you would think would even things out for everybody, that we had 2 blowout wins back-to-back years like this?
CRISTIE KERR: Yes, it's interesting, you know, because it doesn't really happen at a lot of other majors, a lot of other tournaments. I think the conditions, especially this year, I mean if somebody just plays so much better than anybody else with the rough the way it is, you know, and hitting a lot more greens and making a lot more birdies it can happen on this golf course.

But it's interesting that, you know, that it's been the last two years by 12 shots. If it happens again this year then we really have something to look at.

Q. Lastly for me, just talk about is there anything different about the place? Is it playing differently? Yani said she thought the greens were a bit faster for whatever reason. And the fairways, she claimed were a little bit tighter. I don't know if they trimmed them in.
CRISTIE KERR: No, I don't think the fairways are tighter. I think the greens are about the same speed they always were. They were actually starting to speed up until the rain. So it will be interesting to see tomorrow how they hold up. I think there is supposed to be more rain or more storms expected. We got hailed on. We were hiding out in the concession tent on No. 11.

A lot of rain came down in a very short period of time. You have to judge the conditions tomorrow and see how it is. I think there is a lot more rough, even than the year that I won. The rough is really bad this year. So hitting it in the fairway is a premium. If you do miss the fairway you got to make smart plays, and you got to try and grind out those tough pars. So whoever wins is going to play really well. But they are going to make some good saves this week.

Q. Can you talk about the process of having fun and enjoying yourself? You have been out here a long time. There are ups and downs. That's about the case with any profession. You think you are on a good roll and things happen, and you're not. Can you just talk about that in the golf world, how that fluctuates that up and down?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, I mean it's kind of a hard thing to describe. I think you need first off to have a good caddy that understands conditions and club selection and thinks really well about strategy. But part of it, you know, to being a caddy is kind of being your support out there. Kind of being a little bit of a cheerleader at times. A little bit of an encourager at times and it's very important to have a caddy that doesn't get down, doesn't get negative. I feel like sometimes if you need to make a change, you make a chaining, whether it's a club or a putter or a caddy. They are not expendable, obviously. I've never been really one of those people that jump around with a lot of different caddies. I just feel like I needed a change from Jason that I won with here. It's been refreshing. It's kind of given me a new look. It just kind of changed my mood a little. I feel like I'm putting a little less pressure on myself now. Instead of trying to be so perfect all the time.

Like I said, I feel like I have had a lot more fun with him over the last week and a half even when I wasn't playing well last week. I found myself fighting for every shot. I found myself trying to, just trying to get it done no matter what and I think that's me.

When you are playing well, it's easy. But when you are not playing well you need to have that team, that team aspect as well. I'm happy where I am right now where I am headed. I expect some good things for myself in the near term.

Q. Stacy Lewis was in here a little earlier and talked about having reached that level where she has gotten a lot more confidence week-to-week. As somebody who has grown up and gone through that same thing yourself, at that point of her career where she is at right now, what is the difference maker when you get to that level on the LPGA Tour?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, I can't speak for Stacy obviously because I'm not her. But when you reach a level where you have a lot of confidence, and you know you are a great player and you can win at any given time, that's what the winner's mentality is. And once you reach that level, I don't think you ever go back. And winning is tough. She has won a lot of tournaments in the last however many stretch of four or five.

As we all know it can turn on its head. It's a good thing for me because I've been top American for a long time and now I just got passed. And I needed that extra motivation. I'm looking forward to it.

Q. Cristie, you said you put a lot of good work in so far this week, is there anything in particular that you were working on with your game?
CRISTIE KERR: Yes, my swing. My swing had gotten a little bit flatter and too inside out. When you are doing that, you are making save type shots instead of shots where you know you can aim at the pin and hit it at the pin. That's a big thing for me. If I hit greens out here, I'm going to make putts. When you are struggling to get up and down, especially out of this heavy rough, it puts a lot of pressure on your game, and a lot of pressure on your mental game. So I think I definitely hit it a lot straighter this week than I did last week. Last week I was hitting it all over the golf course. I think I finished like 30th or 40th or something. The years that I was, you know, finishing Top-10 consistently, I hit it a lot straighter than I've been hitting it and that's really been the focus. Working on my golf swing, working on simplifying and really getting it more to neutral. Because when I practice neutral, I inevitably always like to hit a draw on the golf course any ways and working a lot smaller. We are continuing to grind on my short gym, and on my putting and working on the mental game again. Like I said, without putting too much pressure on myself, I'm expecting good things for myself.

Q. When you think back about your 12 shot blowout a couple of years ago what was the key to that amazing win?
CRISTIE KERR: I mean it really was, like I said, back then, preparation meeting opportunity. The preparation was there. The game was there. The mental game was there. The determination was there. Everything was there. I have a little taste of that this week. I don't know what this week holds for me, but I know that I'm giving myself the best opportunity before the week starts to play well. Having that mentality again, knowing what I have to do, knowing what I can't do, if I want to be successful, so that's kind of where I am at right now.

Q. You talked about sort of needing that little extra motivation I think. That's sort of a common athlete thing. Can you talk about what that means to you to be passed, if you will, and how that maybe fires you up?
CRISTIE KERR: It does fire me up. I don't like it. That's really all I can say about that.

Q. Cristie, you said earlier that you've been a lot more focused this week, what does that look like for you and how do you get your head there?
CRISTIE KERR: I think it's something that you kind of just fall into. When Annika and Lorena were winning 10 and 11 tournaments a year, I think it's something they could manufacturer. And I am learning what it takes to do that. It's really hard to describe. It's something that I think I need to be more structured every week. Not only with my practice but my routine. It's like breaking it down in the most simple level of do every part of the game well and it kind of adds up to that. Then you throw in the mental game, and if you are doing that well it kind of all adds up in the right direction.

AZAHARA MUNOZ, Rolex Rankings No. 18

MODERATOR: We would like to welcome Azahara Munoz in the interview room at the 2012 Wegmans LPGA championship. Azahara, you are just a few weeks removed from your first ever victory on the LPGA Tour. If you would, just talk about what the last few weeks have been like for you between thunder.
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Well, obviously, you know, getting my first win was amazing. That's all we practice for, and I have been waiting for that moment since I turned pro and came on Tour. It was really nice finally getting that win. It was nice to have the next week off so I could actually relax a little bit and do all the interviews. So I think that actually helped. And then last week I had another really good week and Stacy played amazing and was hard to catch, but I'm really happy where my game is at right now.

MODERATOR: You won at Sybase, a week off. At ShopRite you played quite well. You weren't able to get a victory like you said because of Stacy, but did the win give you kind of a boost? Obviously you have been playing well in the last 5 tournaments all in the Top-5?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Yes, I've been playing really well all year. So I was getting more and more confidence every week but obviously the win really helps, too.

MODERATOR: Talk about the LPGA's social media campaign to put the Twitter handles to caddie bibs,, what are your thoughts on that?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: I think it's amazing. A lot of players have already been tweeting it. I think it's going to be a lot of fun. I haven't seen mine yet. But I think it's going to be really good for us so more people can follow us on Twitter and get to know us more off the golf course.

MODERATOR: Talk about the rise of the 20-somethings, the players in their 20's that are in the Top-10 in the world, you are almost there. You just got a win. What do you think about the state of the Tour right now?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: I think it's really good. Obviously Yani is playing amazing. Maybe not as good this year but it was really hard to match. And Stacy is playing great. There are so many, Paula and all of these girls. I think the more girls that are playing good and are in contention every week is better for the Tour, and I think is more fun to watch.

MODERATOR: If somebody comes out to this tournament this week, we know the golf fans are very savvy here in Rochester, and they want to follow you, they want to see you inside the ropes, what should they know about you that they wouldn't know otherwise.
AZAHARA MUNOS: I don't know. I don't know. I'm pretty normal. Nothing really special. I don't know what to say.

Q. Do you wish you guys played more match play? Can you talk about match play? Obviously you had great success last year in the Solheim Cup that propelled you forward, and you obviously played well in the recent event, but do you wish you played more match play?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: You know, it's a format that I really enjoy. I grew up in Europe. We grow up playing 36-hole hole qualifiers and then match play pretty much every tournament, so I grew up playing a lot of it and I really liked it. But I don't know, maybe a couple of tournaments a year, but no more than that. I think stroke play is more fair, but I will take it.

Q. When you talk about your confidence improving, is that something that's been happening really for the last two years, obviously you had a good start on the Tour, but how has that developed and how much did the Solheim Cup success, how much did that boost your confidence?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: It did a lot. I realize that my game was good enough. I was playing pretty good since my rookie year, but I never really had top finishes. You know you just never know you are good enough I guess. When you have a couple of good weeks, and you finish up there and you see that you can compete with the best players, you know, that helps your confidence.

Q. How tough was the course playing before this storm and what do you think this storm is going to do to it?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: It's playing tough. The rough is really thick. The fairways are really narrow and the greens are super nice as always. But I don't think the storm is going to do much. It just rained a little bit. It helped a little bit, but it's going to go away I think.

MODERATOR: Last week you participated in kind of a unique thing on the Golf Channel where you and Belen took over the production as producer and director. How did that go for you?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: I don't know how it went. I had a good time. It was really hard. I think we got it at the end. It's a lot of fun, people get to know us more, and hopefully I get to do more of those things.

SUZANN PETTERSEN, Rolex Rankings No. 5

MODERATOR:   We would like to welcome Suzann Pettersen to the Wegmans LPGA Championship.  You are the 2007 winner of this tournament, albeit at a different course.  Talk about what it means to come back to an event where you first became a Major champion.
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  Well, first of all that feels like a long time ago.  LPGA Championship, that's our Major.  It's very proud to have my name on the trophy.  Definitely one that I would love to get another chance at.  My form feels really good.  I'm excited to come back to Rochester.  I've always liked this golf course.  It's one of those courses it suits your eye or it doesn't.  This is definitely one of the ones I have always done well at.  I must say the course has changed a lot over the years.  It's a lot longer now.  They stretched it out.  But this isn't a chip and putt course anymore.  You have to hit some good mid irons into some of these small greens and the fairways are fairly tight.  So the rough is up, so it's going to be accuracy off the tee and pretty good ball striking.

MODERATOR:   This week we've also officially announced Twitter handles --
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  It's about time.

MODERATOR:      --  on the caddy bibs.
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  It's about time.  It's almost so simple why someone hasn't come up with that before.

MODERATOR:   You spoke about it a couple of weeks ago, just some thoughts here for the Rochester media on the LPGA's efforts from a social media standpoint.
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  Well, I think it requires more from us now.  Now we have to just Twitter on and off the golf course pretty much.  I think it's great.  I think if you are good at Twitter, you pretty much get the entire news picture through Twitter.  I think Twitter is a lot more instant than actually news channels in general.  If I look at the ones I follow, I think I'm pretty much covered on whatever happens around the world just looking at my phone.  I think that's the way the fans like to interact with us.  It's also a nice opportunity for us to interact as much as you want, or however you want to deal with it with them, with each and every one.  It's a very good social media thing.  And I think there are a lot of the LPGA girls quite active.  So there is no reason not to follow us now.

MODERATOR:   The golf fans in Rochester are very savvy, they come out and support the LPGA in a big way.  Many of them see you on the golf course, very serious, very focused, what is something that you want the Rochester fans to know about you that they probably wouldn't know if they only came out and saw you play? 
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  That I smile a lot off the golf course.  I hear that a lot, you got to smile more on the golf course.  I smile a lot off the golf course.  Maybe not so much on because I'm so focused.  It just because I care.  I'm so into it.  It's definitely something that I'm trying to work on and all of the fans love to see the players kind of relaxed and kind of chill back.  But it's hard because once I'm relaxed as I want to be, once I step on that first tee box, I'm into it.  I'm there to do a job.  Believe me, I love doing my job, but my intensity is up there.  It really always has.  But you get me during a dinner, I will get you laughing. 

Q.    You mentioned doing the social media, do you ever worry about saying something on a Twitter?  We have seen it happen with other pro athletes or celebrities or people have a lot of followers.  Is there that moment that you think about something before you hit send?
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  You can hit send, but then you can delete it right after without hopefully too many having read it already.  It has happened, yes.  You know, Twitter, you can do whatever you want with it.  You can initially put your entire life out there.  I don't feel that's as interesting for the fans.  I put stuff out that I think would be of other's interest.  Maybe a few kind of behind the scenes, kind of give them a little bit of a taste of what goes on.  Not all the time.  But a few in betweens.  I mean it's your Twitter.  It's your opinion.  You can probably say whatever you want.  You also want to be a little bit political correct when you do put stuff out there.

Q.    You talked about your focus and intensity people maybe misread you.  But you have been like that.  You have been on the Tour for a dozen years.  How have you harnessed that focus better than maybe when you were 19, 20 years old?  Do you feel like you have a stronger focus now; it's not just sort of intensity that doesn't necessarily get you what you want?
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  Well my intensity is probably the same.  I used to have a pretty bad temper.  I must say that has kind of eased off over the years.  I think as you mature as a golfer.  There were several times as a junior golfer where my dad was caddying, and he left the bag out there, he said it was enough.  He just couldn't deal with it.  I have had my moments growing up where my temper kind of got in my way.  I got a {hard time} for that too back then.  But you kind of deal with it and you try to learn.  But I also think as a golfer you mature with age.  I still get upset with making a bad swing or making some bad decisions.  You deal with it in a different way.  Obviously you are now kind of an actor, actress on stage, and you have to try and think of what the young kids watching you from the outside of the ropes.  So as much as your intensity is high, you still have to somehow think about your picture overall outside of the golf course even though it's hard.

MODERATOR:   Suzann, you are No. 5 currently on the Rolex rankings.  You have kind of been between 5 and 2 for a couple of years.  In the last few weeks we've seen Stacy Lewis, an American win two of the last three.  You spoke a couple of weeks ago that The Tour does need some Americans to play well.  Just some general thoughts on Stacy, what you think of her as a player and also some general thoughts on the state of our Tour.
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  First of all, the state of our Tour is in a very strong position.  I think the depth, I've said this for years, the depth on our Tour is deeper than it has ever been.  Annika was a fantastic world No. 1.  Lorena was a fantastic world No. 1.  But I think, in general, the top players are better now than they've ever been.  It takes a lot more to go out and win week in and week out.  Stacy had a great month.  She won in Mobile.  Match Play, anything can happen.  You can still play good and kind of lose in whatever round. And then she played awfully good last week.  That was a tough golf course.  She is a good ball striker and when she gets the putts going, she can go low.  She is a fantastic talent and still young.  Obviously having the American flag next to her name doesn't hurt us.

Q.    Suzann, how do you explain that there has been basically 2 blowouts back to back years with Yani and Cristie Kerr winning by so much, how do you explain that here?
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  That's hard to say.  It's almost like last week where Stacy ran away with it and you wonder how come no one else is going low.  This course definitely demands the most of you from the tees, if you do hit every fairway.  Both Cristie and Yani are very good iron players, so they can tuck.  They can play aggressive and attack certain pins.  They are both very strong putters.  It's hard to say why certain players some years run away with it and other years there is nothing happening.  There is a bunch of players in the hunt.  It's hard to say.  I guess in golf you have your weeks.  Some weeks everything goes in.  Other weeks, nothing goes in.  It's pretty well timed and well planned if you happen to get that peak during a Major tournament.  That's what we are all trying to do. 

Q.    Cheyenne Woods was in here a little bit before you.  This is her first tournament as a pro.  She is excited and everything.  But it's all very new, even though she has been playing golf a long time.  Can you remember when you first new this is my job out here, the change between playing golf as an amateur and playing as a pro, what that felt like for you and maybe what you think she is going to be facing?
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  I only heard great stuff about her.  What college did she go to? 

MODERATOR:   Wake Forest.
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  She did fantastic there.  She qualified for the U.S. Open.  She has a bright future ahead of her.  If she has the genes of the rest of the family, I think we all should be a bit worried. 

But at the same time she's got to take her time, pace herself, get used to being out here. 

There is no difference being an amateur and a professional.  We are still trying to get the same job done. 

It's also about her comfort level, being comfortable, traveling, being on the Tour, teeing it off every week with people you might have looked up to.  I had the same, coming off my amateur career, all of a sudden I was teed up with Annika.  Sometimes as much as you idolize them, you have to kind of put that aside for the time and still go out and play the game of golf.

Q.    The stretch you had like 2010, 2011 where you kept being so close and so close and I think went maybe 20 months without winning, what did you learn about yourself from that and do you think has that made you a better golfer?
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  Well, I think every year I feel like I'm a better golfer.  2010 was probably one of my better years on Tour.  Even though I had no wins, I had a very consecutive -- a very, very consistent performance throughout the year.  2011 was a decent year.  I had my wins.  And this year has been a very slow start.  The thing with golf that I really enjoy, you have to look at it as a process.  If I look at my results this year, okay, I'm not happy with the results.  I'm enjoying the process.  I feel like stuff is starting to click.  It's a game of patience as much as it is hard work and kind of grinding it out every day.  That's kind of the beauty of golf.  You go through times where you feel like you play well, and you don't score.  And then you go through times where you feel like you play awful, and you shoot 68 every time you step on the golf course.  It's just how the game is and you can't be too hard on yourself. 

Like I said, the depth on this Tour is deeper now so whenever you do win, enjoy it and kind of get a taste of it.  But at the same time it requires the exact same thing on that following week or the week after.  So I think that's the beauty of this game.  You can work as hard as you want, but at the same time you got to give yourself a break and tap yourself on the shoulder even though the results may not be right where you want them, but they could be right around the corner.

 

LEXI THOMPSON, Rolex Rankings No. 21

MODERATOR:   We would like to welcome you to the 2012 Wegmans LPGA championship.  With us today we have the youngest player on the LPGA Tour.  And also the youngest winner on the LPGA Tour, Lexi Thompson.  Before we get started, just a couple of reminders.  If you are going to ask a question, please use a microphone.  We have a couple of volunteers passing those out.  If you are going to get up, please do not use the middle aisle.  We also filming from the back. 

Lexi, let's start with something just released today officially, the LPGA will put your Twitter handle on the back of your caddy's bib starting Thursday; what are your thoughts on that? 
LEXI THOMPSON:  Yes, I think that's a brilliant idea, just to get social networking out.  You get to stay in touch with your fans.  So you know, you let fans know and it's great to interact with them.

MODERATOR:  Just a few weeks ago you used your social networks for a very good reason, you invited members of the military to your prom.  You chose one lucky guy, how did it go?
LEXI THOMPSON:  Yes, it went great.  I had a lot of fun.  It was an honor for me to take a guy like Mark Scott to the prom.  Anybody that signed up that's in the military or the service, you know, is a great person.  And no matter who I picked I would have had fun.

MODERATOR:  Right now you are No. 21 on the Rolex Women's World golf rankings.  You finished second at the Mobile Bay Classic a few weeks ago.  You finished tied for 5th last week at ShopRite, obviously you're playing well, how does your game feel?
LEXI THOMPSON:  Thank you.  I've been working on it a lot.  I feel really confident with them, just working on consistency and just  trying to shoot low rounds but stay consistent with my game overall and it's been working.

Q.    So the idea, this Facebook, and inviting some of the military service, where did that come from?
LEXI THOMPSON:  Yes, well it was my idea.  I wanted to make it a special night and go with somebody that's special to my heart.  My brother Nick and I have done many charity events for the military.  When I won at the Navistar I donated $20,000 to Wounded Warriors.  It's an honor for me do that.  I wanted to make it a special night for me and who I picked.

Q. How confident do you feel now being out here?  I know you took a few weeks off before coming back last week.  How much different do you feel this year compared to last year? 
LEXI THOMPSON:  Yes, I definitely feel a little different playing a lot more.  It's a good feeling to know where I'm playing and what events I'm playing in.  I'm used to playing every week, so it's nice for me to get back on my normal schedule. 

Q.    Lexi, last year you were here, probably didn't fair quite as well as you would have liked to, just talk about your approach to this golf course and what it means to play in a LPGA Championship?
LEXI THOMPSON:  Yes, it's great to play in an LPGA championship.  It definitely didn't go the way I want it to go last year.  But this year is a new year and hopefully do a lot better.  But it's an amazing golf course.  It's in really good shape for us too.  So playing hard.

MODERATOR:   What strengths will you be able to use out there of your game.
LEXI THOMPSON:  I get to hit a lot of drivers.  That's a strength.  You just have to keep it in the fairway out here because the rough is pretty thick with all of the rain that it's gotten.

MODERATOR:   Just some thoughts on Rochester in general, obviously a town that embraces the LPGA,  what are your thoughts on the community here? 
LEXI THOMPSON:  The community is great.  I know last year they had so many people out following, so hopefully we get the same crowds or more this year.  They love their golf.  It's a great place to be.

Q.    I think I read your distance off the tee is really formidable.  On a course like this, does that help you even more?  Are there some holes you can attack?
LEXI THOMPSON:  Yes, there are some.  But like I said, you just have to keep it in the fairway out here.  So you have to focus on just hitting it straight and placing it well on the fairways.

Q.    Pretty soon we are coming on the anniversary of the 40th year of Title 9.  What do you know about Title 9?  Can you envision a time when women were not allowed to participate in sports the way they are now?
LEXI THOMPSON:  Well, I know that golf has become really great in the women's sport too.  It's grown so much.  Women in general have become so much better in sports.  It's grown a lot.  It's really good to see that it's continuing to grow in every sport.

MODERATOR:   Do you feel you can have an impact on young players being so young yourself moving forward knowing that Title 9 did help women's golf in a big way, but a young player like you with a platform to make a difference, do you feel like you can make a difference moving forward? 
LEXI THOMPSON:  Yes, well, I would hope that I would make a difference.  Seeing all young fans out here it's great to see, and they are always like, I want to be like you some day.  To know they are working hard and willing to just do what they love, it's great to see and just to follow their dreams and that's all I'm doing. 

Q.    Did you play other sports when you were younger.  Why golf?
LEXI THOMPSON:  Yes, I played soccer and basketball when I was younger and golf obviously.  But they wanted me to travel soccer so I had to choose between soccer and golf.  And my heart was with golf the whole way so that's why I chose.

Q.    Lexi, how old were you when you started playing?  When did you hit your first golf shot?
LEXI THOMPSON:  I started playing when I was 5.  So I grew up around my brother's playing golf so it pretty much just grew on me from them.

Q.    Did your parents play?
LEXI THOMPSON:  My mom played in high school and college.  And my dad still plays a little bit, like a few times a year, but not that much. 

Q.    Lexi, talk earlier about your game sort of rounding into form can you maybe talk about why you think that is? It's the time of the year when you want it to, but it does seem like you have gotten progressively better week-to-week?
LEXI THOMPSON:  Thank you.  I've just been working on it a lot.  I've been practicing a lot of hours a day on my short game.  I'm learning that's extremely important out here.  So you can't ball strike it well every week, so you have to learn short game, putting and everything.  So I just been working on every aspect of my game and continuing to improve hopefully. 

Q.    When you talk about with the social network, the LPGA for some many years has stressed that connection with fans.  But now there is that direct connection that technology provides.  Can you talk about the balance between that and then maintaining your privacy, maintaining you are still a kid, putting yourself out there but also keeping something for yourself? 
LEXI THOMPSON:  Yes.  You don't want to give the fans like too much of your private life.  You have to keep your own privacy and everything.  It's truly amazing with Twitter and like fan pages on Facebook to interact with your fans.  I love doing it.  I usually respond to everybody and retweet, people know me for. 

I just love answering them and giving them the answers to the questions that they are asking.

Q.    The last two years, 19-under par won this tournament.  How about a prediction?  Is it going to take 19 to do it again given the rough and everything?  If you had to pick a number that you think would be good enough to win, what would it be?
LEXI THOMPSON:  I'm not too sure with all of the rain, I think it's going to play a little harder to tell you the truth.  The rough is pretty deep.  The greens are a lot softer.  But you have to keep it in the fairway.

Q.    Less roll in the fairway?
LEXI THOMPSON:  Yes, definitely, it's not rolling much at all.

Q.    So you won't throw out a number?
LEXI THOMPSON:  I don't really know.  I don't think 19-under but I'm not going to really say.

Q.    Something less?
LEXI THOMPSON:  Yes, I'm not going to say.  I don't really know.

 

CHEYENNE WOODS

MODERATOR:   We would like to welcome sponsor exemption Cheyenne Woods to the 2012 Wegmans LPGA Championship.  Welcome.
CHEYENNE WOODS:  Thank you so much.  Thank you for having me.

MODERATOR:  Your second time here in Rochester.  Your first time as an amateur.  This is your first ever event as a professional.  Does it feel different?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  A little bit now that this is actually my job and my career.  I'm really excited to be out here and so thankful that I've had this opportunity to play this week.  So I'm excited to have this be my very first pro debut where they had me two years ago.

MODERATOR:  So just a few weeks ago you graduated from Wake Forest.  What felt better, finishing school or turning professional?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  I mean finishing school felt really good.  Never having to write another paper or take another exam feels really good.  Also turning pro is awesome.  This is what I've dreamed about my entire life.  I've been playing since I was five years old and the fact that I'm actually professional feels amazing.

MODERATOR:  So within the span of a couple of days you got the call that you were a sponsor exemption here.  And the following day you qualified for the U.S. Women's Open, so basically two Majors in the span of 48 hours; talk about that. 
CHEYENNE WOODS:  It was awesome.  It was very overwhelming, going into The Open qualifier knowing that I did get this spot here was a little bit of pressure.   But I was ready, and I was prepared, and just excited to have the opportunity to play the U.S. Open.  And then I actually qualified.  So now it's a matter of playing here and then getting ready for The Open in about a month.

Q.    I was wondering if you could describe your game a little bit.  What are some of the strengths of your game and what are you trying to work on?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  Right now I'm trying to work on a little bit of my ball striking.  Little things here and there, my swing.  My putting is getting a lot better.  I've been working on that a lot.  I would say that's probably one of my strengths.

MODERATOR:   Just talk about taking your game from the college level, now to the professional level, what do you think is going to be the biggest change for you, the biggest thing you are going to have to focus on? 
CHEYENNE WOODS:  Well, I'm so thankful that I had those 4 years of colleague to really prepare me for the Tour.  Playing every week and balancing my time with academics and athletics,  I think has really helped me prepare for me for this stage.  The biggest transition I think would be getting used to the media.  The fans out here who are awesome.  But, you know, the media is something that I've dealt with since I was about 12 years old, having the last name of Woods.  So that's also something I'm thankful for to help me get ready for this stage too.

MODERATOR:  A big week for the Woods family.
CHEYENNE WOODS:  It is, yes.

MODERATOR:  Obviously a nice win for Tiger on Sunday, did you watch? 
CHEYENNE WOODS:   I did.  Of course,  I was tuned in.  So that was really exciting to see him out there coming back and going out in Tiger's fashion of dominating and coming back last minute, so it was fun to watch. 

Q.    Any advice from Tiger on how to handle this week?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  I mean, he has always been so supportive of me, and I've been so thankful for that.  Always telling me just to kick butt.  You know, Tiger is always dominating, so that is the one word of advice he would give me.

Q.    I was talking to a former college player who found out when she left college she loved the college atmosphere because in some ways it took her mind off golf.  When she was out on The Tour it was 24/7.  It sounds like you are ready for that.  Can you just talk about what that transition is like to have this as the focus of your life now?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  Yes, I was actually really excited.  As soon as I graduated, I mean this is the first time in my life that I'm focusing strictly on golf.  There is no school that's on the side that I have to really spend a lot of time on.  Every day it's golf.  Working out.  Really focusing on my career.  So I'm really looking forward to that.  I will be able to hopefully balance golf and my social life as I did in college and kind of stay sane and not get too overwhelmed with everything.

Q.    So you signed with Tiger's agent, was there a big choice on what to wear, or was Nike kind of always the go to?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  I have been with Nike for a while.  I played Nike through college.  Wake Forest was a Nike school so I was thankful for that and wearing Nike apparel.  So I'm very comfortable with Nike.  And so it was just a perfect fit?

Q.    When did you sign with them?  Are you officially signed with them? 
CHEYENNE WOODS:  We are working on it right now, so hopefully soon. 

Q.    Can you talk about what the best thing about being Tiger's niece is and maybe what the difficulties are in that?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  I would say the best thing is definitely just having him as an uncle and having him to there to support me.  He is obviously amazing at golf, and having him there and knowing I can go to him whenever I need him is nice to have.  And the most difficult thing I would say, dealing with the expectation and the pressure.  But I have dealt with it for a long time and I have somehow been able to play my own game.  That's mainly what I try to think about is play my own game and just try to do my own thing and not worry about what others are thinking.

Q.    Tiger, I think, he left Stanford after two years if I'm not mistaken.  Did you ever consider dropping out of school and going ahead and turning pro because uncle did it?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  No, I always knew as soon as I signed with Wake Forest that I would spend four years there.  And that was definitely my goal to get my education and get my degree.  I'm so thankful for that.  I just walked three weeks ago and got my diploma so I'm really excited to have that.

Q.    Did he ever encourage you to stay or not stay?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  No, he has always been supportive of me taking my own path, going down my own path and doing what I thought was best for me.

Q.    Are you nervous?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  Nervous to be a professional?  Yes.  

Q.    Today, this week?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  I'm more excited than nervous.  I was here two years ago so it makes me feel a little bit more comfortable being at the same course and seeing some familiar faces.  But it being my pro debut is a little bit of nerves but exciting too.

Q.    Could you just evaluate your game for us?  What you think your strengths are and what you think you really need to work on?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  I would say my ball striking is something that I am working on.  But some of my strengths I feel like my wedges and putting have been pretty solid.  So I look forward to see how my game plays out this week.

Q.    So I had read where Earl Senior was your first coach.  How did you get involved in the game, was it just sort of a family affair?  And what kinds of things did he initially tell you or teach you about the game?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  I first picked up a club when I was about two years old in my grandfather's garage and that's where Tiger got started.  My grandfather, he didn't push me into the game, I kind of picked it up on my own and just fell in love with it.  He was always there to kind of guide me through my Junior career and kind of helped my family out.  Me, my mom and dad out on how best to go through Junior Golf and get into collegiate golf.

Q.    You came really close to qualifying for The Open last year.  I think you may have missed it by a stroke.  You were already motivated to do this, was that a big motivating factor to show you how close you were to reaching the goals that you had set?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  Yes, it was my junior year in college and I had been working really hard and barely missing qualifying.  So it did show me that I was close to my goals, and close to getting where I wanted to be.  If I just continue my work ethic, and continue playing as hard as I can, eventually I will be there and thankfully this year I am. 

Q.    Lexi was in here talking about social media and how she loves to connect with fans.  I wonder if that might be a little bit more complicated for you just because of your last name, or do you like to go on social media, do you like to interact with people that way?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  Yes, I think it's fun.  I've had my Twitter for a while.  It's always fun to see the fans come out.  Now that I have gotten a lot more publicity, I've gotten a lot more fans that are connecting with me.  So it's been fun.  And it's also a way to connect with my college teammates and my college classmates, so I think it's a great thing to have.

Q.    Tiger, obvious is known for that mental toughness, that Sunday toughness.  You have a pretty sunny personality.  Do you have that same like, if you will, Tiger in you?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  Yes, I think I do.  I'm trying to think.  It's not like you can control it.  But if I put myself in a pressure packed situation I think I'm definitely able to buckle down and get through it.  

Q.    Can you tell us what your plan for the year is as a pro?  What's the pathway?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  Well, I will be playing obviously this week and in the U.S. Open.  And then hopefully I'm excited to see -- hopefully I can play a little bit more this summer and see what events hopefully I can get into.  And then I plan on playing Q-School in September and earning any card and see how that will go. 

Q.    Do you have any other sponsor invites for the summer?
CHEYENNE WOODS:  Not yet.  But I would love to play as much as I can this summer. 

Topics: Notes and Interviews, Pettersen, Suzann, Thompson, Lexi, KPMG Women's PGA Championship, Kerr, Cristie, Munoz, Azahara, Tseng, Yani, Lewis, Stacy [+]

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