2012 Evian Masters Presented by Société Générale Final-Round Notes and Interviews

Inbee Park

Untitled Document

Evian Masters Presented by Société Générale
Evian Golf Club
Evian-les-Bains, France
July 29, 2012
Final-round Notes and Interviews


Inbee Park -17, Rolex Rankings No. 21
Stacy Lewis -15, Rolex Rankings No. 3
Karrie Webb -15, Rolex Rankings No. 24
Shanshan Feng -14, Rolex Rankings No. 4
Natalie Gulbis -14, Rolex Rankings No. 88
Hyo Joo Kim -14, (a)

Four years after taking home the 2008 U.S. Women's Open title, Inbee Park returned to the LPGA Tour winner's circle with a two-shot victory at the 2012 Evian Masters Presented by Société Générale. Park, who entered the day tied for the lead with Rolex Rankings No. 3 Stacy, displayed incredible composure and a very hot putter while firing a 6-under 66 to finish at 17-under-par and capture her second career LPGA Tour victory.

Park tallied a total of eight birdies on the day, including five on the back nine, as she staved off charges from a number of players down the stretch. That included LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Karrie Webb, who shot a 5-under 67 to finish in a T2 with Stacy Lewis at 15-under-par.

But while others made a push at catching Park down the stretch, her putter continued to hold steady and she finished with three straight birdies to secure her win. She needed just 22 putts on Sunday and many including her playing partner, Stacy Lewis were impressed by the way she managed the greens at the Evian Golf Club.

"This green is really tough to putt, and I really had tough time last five years putting over here and didn't play good over here," said Park. " I was not really confident with the greens.This year I came and the greens were a lot quicker than last five years.  I like the fast greens, so I think that really suited me as well."

The victory comes in what has been a good year for Park so far. She came into this week having tallied top-10 finishes in each of her last four events including a previous season-best T2 at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic when she lost in a playoff to Brittany Lang. While Park has won a few times on the JLPGA in recent years, she acknowledged that it meant a lot to get another LPGA victory.

"How would I describe in words?" Park said of getting back in the winner's circle on the LPGA Tour. " It feels great.  It's been four years.  It felt like more than four years.  Just really happy."

A familiar position: Stacy Lewis came very close to capturing a victory at the Evian Masters last year as she finished runner-up to Ai Miyazato. And while she was in position to perhaps take home the title this year, Lewis once again found herself in that runner-up spot. Lewis, the No. 2 player on the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings, was tied for the lead heading into Sunday's final round with eventual winner Inbee Park, but missed opportunities with the putter kept her off the winner's podium. The 27-year-old managed to eagle the par-5 closing hole to jump to 4-under-par 68 for the day and 15-under-par 273 for the week. In Thursday's opening round, Lewis tied the tournament record and set a personal best with a 9-under-par 63.

"I actually played really good," she said. "I had probably four or five putts that I thought I made and just lipped out. Just couldn't really get anything going

Lewis, a native Texan, now has 10 top-10 finishes in 15 tournaments played this season including victories at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic and the ShopRite LPGA Classic and ties for second at the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open, the Wegmans LPGA Championship and the Evian Masters. She continues to lead the Rolex Player of the Year race, the 2013 U.S. Solheim Cup Team race, and has now crossed the $1 million mark in earnings each of the last three seasons.

"I didn't play well yesterday, didn't play my best today, and still I was right there," she added. "I was within a couple shots coming down at the end. It's nice to be comfortable enough to make eagle on the last hole and comfortable with that pressure."

Karrie Webb's 30 yard pitch for eagle on the 72nd hole finished just short of the hole, ending her chances at a 39th victory on the LPGA Tour. The LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member instead landed in a tie for second with Stacy Lewis at 15-under-par 273, two shots shy of winner Inbee Park. Webb carded a second-consecutive 5-under-par 67 on Sunday to earn $258,309 and record her best finish of the 2012 season.

"Obviously you want to win, but just to be in contention and perform well under pressure, just to feel what it's like to be in contention, is good," Webb said. "I gave myself the chance."

Webb's second shot on the final hole fell short and left of the green, but her eagle pitch was tracking toward the hole and the Aussie knew it had a chance when she began running toward the green. She finished with a birdie and an outside chance at a playoff, but Inbee Park sealed her fate with a birdie of her own at 18 to win the Evian Masters, which in 2013 will become the LPGA's fifth major, The Evian. Webb's tie for second is her fourth top-10 finish of the season and best since a tie for sixth at the Wegmans LPGA Championship.

Late charge: 2012 Wegmans LPGA Championship winner Shanshan Feng was the clubhouse leader for a short time on Sunday afternoon after finishing her final round with a flourish.

Feng made eagle, holing out her shot from the bunker behind the 18th green to tie Inbee Park for the lead at 14-under-par. The lead was short lived as Park would make birdie on the 16th hole to move to 15-under but Feng said the shot ranks among one of the best she's every hit.

"It wasn't a very tough bunker shot, it was a flat lie and I had room to let the ball roll.  I mean, under pressure I would think that's a very good shot," Feng said.

For Feng, who accomplished her goal of a victory and a top-10 finish in a major with her win at the Wegmans LPGA Championship in June,, the opportunity to even hold a share of the clubhouse lead late Sunday was more than she had envisioned at the beginning of her round.

"I never thought about winning because my goal was already set," Feng said. " I hoped for top 10. This morning I was thinking in my head, Stacey shot 63.  I was like, That's a good round.  I thought maybe my best round of this year for me was 5-under.  I asked my caddie, Do you think it's 5-under?  He said, Yes.  I said, Not 5?  He said, Not yet. Then actually today I shot 6-under, so it's my best round of the year."

So close to a repeat: Natalie Gulbis' lone LPGA victory came here at the Evian Masters back in 2007 and on Sunday, she made a strong effort to tally her second career win at the same golf course.

Gulbis began the day one shot behind leaders Stacy Lewis and Inbee Park. After a rough start in which she bogeyed two of her first three holes, Gulbis rebounded by making five birdies in a stretch of seven holes from No. 7-13. She had a chance to tie the lead with a birdie putt on the 15th but the putt lipped out. Gulbis then three-putted for bogey on the next hole to drop two shots behind the leaders. Still Gulbis, who said that she was too mechanical in her swing thoughts early in the round, was pleased with birdies on the final two holes to finish in a T4 at 14-under-par.

"At the top of the leaderboard there was a group players that are not only playing well, but really good at making a ton of birdies," Gulbis said.  "So I just tried to make as many as I could and take my chances. There were a couple pins you had to stay away from.  Then I actually bogeyed 16, so it was nice to birdie the last two.

This is Gulbis' third top-10 finish of the season, after having not recorded one since the 2009 season. Her two previous top-10 finishes this season came in a T8 at the Kraft Nabisco Championship and a T9 at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic.

"I have been healthy, which knock on wood has been great," Gulbis said. "I've made a couple caddie changes.  I will be looking forward to the rest of the year."

Impressive showing: 17-year-old amateur Hyo Joo Kim wasn't able to capture a victory on a third different professional women's Tour this year at the Evian Masters, but she certainly turned some heads in the process.

The South Korean, who won the KLPGA and the JLPGA earlier this year, made a run at another title on Sunday. She shot a 4-under 68 to finish in a T4 at 14-under-par with Shanshan Feng and Natalie Gulbis. It also marked her fourth consecutive round of 69 or better at this week's event.

"I had a lot of mistakes and I'm a little bit frustrated. But, you know, I had a good finish this week even if I didn't win," said Kim. "I feel great right now."

Golden ticket winners: Natalie Gulbis, Beatriz Recari and Paula Creamerpunched their "Ticket to CME Group Titleholders" at the Evian Masters, each earning a spot in the season-ending CME Group Titleholders event, which will be held Nov. 15-18, 2012 at The TwinEagles in Naples, Fla. The second annual CME Group Titleholders is a season finale with a field made up of three qualifiers from every LPGA Tour tournament.

Of Note…Karine Icher was the top French finisher this week, shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a T12 at 9-under-par…Spaniard Beatriz Recari tied Feng and Park for the low round of the day by firing a 6-under 66 to jump from a T33 to a T9.

Quotable: "It feels great, especially this is the only event that does it.  I feel really special.  In the Olympics when I was watching all the athletes have their flags on when they had a medal, I wanted to do that also.  I did it today, so I'm very happy." – Inbee Park on the skydiver bringing her the South Korean flag during the winner's ceremony

INBEE PARK, Rolex Rankings No. 21

MODERATOR:  It's my pleasure to welcome our 2012 Evian Masters champions, Inbee Park, to your winner's press conference here at Evian.  Congratulations.
INBEE PARK:  Thank you.

MODERATOR:   What a wild day on the leaderboard.  There were a number of different leaders.  You were able to finish the tournament at the top.  Tell us how it feels.
INBEE PARK:  After yesterday, I mean, there was a lot of players that was in contention, so I knew that I have to shoot a good number today out there.
           
It looks like it wasn't going to happen until the middle of the round.  But at the end I had a really strong finish to finish the round, so it was a great putting day today.

MODERATOR:  Can you just talk about how good it feels to be a winner again.  You won the 2008 U.S. Women's Open, and at least on the LPGA you haven't won since.
INBEE PARK:  Right, right.

MODERATOR:  How good does it feel?
INBEE PARK:  How would I describe in words?  It feels great.  It's been four years.  It felt more than four years.  Just really happy.

MODERATOR:  How satisfying was it to win the event with a birdie on 18 and not have to worry about making a par putt?
INBEE PARK:  Yeah, I mean, yesterday and today when I was playing, I was thinking, What would I do on 18 if I was leading by one or two or if I'm tied with somebody? My plan was to go in three shots, and that really worked out well on the last hole.

MODERATOR:  Let's go through your scorecard, birdies and bogeys.
INBEE PARK:  No. 3 was a bogey.

MODERATOR:  What happened there?
INBEE PARK:  I hit my second shot over the green, and then I chipped it on about 15 feet; missed that putt.
No. 5, hit gap wedge in about 15 feet; made that putt.
No. 7, yeah, hit gap wedge also about 12 feet; made that one.
No. 9, hit my second shot to the left just short of the bunker, and then hit a chip shot about 10 feet and made that.
No. 10, yeah, also a gap wedge.  Hit it to about seven, eight feet.
No. 11 was a bogey.  Hit my second shot into the bunker on the right.  Then I hit it short again, and then put it on and one putted.
13, hit my pitching wedge about four feet to the hole.
No. 16, birdie.  Sand wedge, ten feet.
17, gap wedge, three feet, four feet.
No. 18, sand wedge to about 20 feet, 25 feet.

MODERATOR:  Three birdies to close the round and become the Evian champion.  When you were on 16 tee, did something changed that you felt you could birdie your way in to win?
INBEE PARK:  With a good tee shot on 15 I knew I had a chance, a good shot at birdie.  Especially 17 and 18 were really short hole, so I knew that it was possible.  I knew that a lot other players can birdie also, so I knew I had to finish strong.

MODERATOR:  How amazing was it to see the skydiver coming down with the Korean flag and then drape you in the flag?
INBEE PARK:  Yeah, it feels great, especially this is the only event that does it.  I feel really special.  In the Olympics when I was watching all the athletes have their flags on when they had a medal, I wanted to do that also.  I did it today, so I'm very happy.

Q.  A reporter that was with your group today said he hasn't seen anybody putt the way you putted today.  Was there something about your putting stroke that felt good?
INBEE PARK:  This green is really tough to putt, and I really had tough time last five years putting over here and didn't play good over here.  I was not really confident with the greens.
           
This year I came and the greens were a lot quicker than last five years.  I like the fast greens, so I think that really suited me as well.

MODERATOR:  Next year when you return here it'll be in September, a different name, and you'll be defending at a major.  How does that feel?
INBEE PARK:  Yeah, I'll feel really special playing this event as a defending champion.  I'm really excited for this tournament, because they're redoing all the golf course and all that to make it a major.
           
I think this is a well deserved tournament to be a major, so looking forward to next year.
           
Q.  What makes it so special winning here?
INBEE PARK:  I think it's just this place is really beautiful and everything is in pink.  This event, everything just goes well this week.  With the lake and everything, I just love this place.
           
To be able to play good at this event after six years is really special.

Q.  Next year not only the name is gonna change, also some significant changes to the course.  I think you can see it over there; there are a lot changes.  Are you looking forward to that, or in your opinion it should be as it is?
INBEE PARK:  I think a little bit of change will be really good on this golf course.  Some holes are really hilly, so if it's a major I think a little bit of change will be more challenging.  And all the other golfer really like it.  I think it'll be really good golf course.

Q.  Can you confirm before this you had five international wins in total?
INBEE PARK:  Uh-huh.

Q.  How does it rank amongst them all?
INBEE PARK:  I got to say it's -- I mean, winning U.S. Open as a first win was great.  This one and U.S. Open has got to be really up there in the top.

MODERATOR:  You've had a lot of the success playing on the Japan LPGA.  Talk about your decision to play more over there in the last couple years and how good it feels to come back to the LPGA and win again.
INBEE PARK:  Yeah, I mean, I wasn't playing good on the LPGA Tour after the win in the U.S. Open.  After that I was just trying to find a place that I felt more comfortable.
           
But I was never going to give up LPGA.  The more I play over in Japan, the more -- I was getting confidence over there.  Playing over here with that confidence helped me a lot.
           
Yeah, I have a lot more friends on the LPGA Tour and I been on the tour long here.  I really feel comfortable on the LPGA Tour.  I really like playing.

MODERATOR:  What are your plans for next week and moving forward?  Going back to Korea or the United States?
INBEE PARK:  Going back to Korea tomorrow and coming back to United States on Sunday.


KARRIE WEBB, Rolex Rankings No. 24

Q. Second place.  Probably not the result you wanted, but a great week nonetheless.  Just tell me about it.
KARRIE WEBB:  Yeah.  I shot 67 today, so I can't really complain.  I think Inbee shot 66.  She played really, really well.
           
Obviously you want to win, but just to be in contention and perform well under pressure, just to feel what it's like to be in contention, is good.
           
I gave myself the chance.

Q.  Tell me about that chip at 18.  Obviously you thought it was tracking.  You were getting ready for the fist pump.  Take me through 18 and what you were thinking.
KARRIE WEBB:  Well, I didn't have a very comfortable carry out.  I had my 5-wood.  I knew that Inbee had gotten 16, so I knew had to go for it and try and make there.
           
It was a bit of a hanging lie.  Hit an unbelievable chip, landed the way I wanted it to and reacted the way I wanted it.  It looked good there until it died right at the end.

Q.  Last one:  This week obviously this crowd, the way they treat everybody, take me through the week and how it felt to be here.
KARRIE WEBB:  Yeah, I mean, this tournament treats everyone fantastically, especially if you're a past champion.  It's definitely a tournament to win, because you get treated with the utmost high quality, hospitality, and they celebrate their past champions.
           
So it's a wonderful event.


STACY LEWIS, Rolex Rankings No. 3

Q. 4-under today.  I know not the result you wanted, but pleased with how you were able to battle through and kind of finish at the end?
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, I actually played really good.  I had probably four or five putts that I thought I made and just lipped out.  Just couldn't really get anything going, and then finally at the end to make some birdies.
           
And then, you know, kind of the way the day was going I felt like I was going to make the putt and I did.  So it's a nice way to finish.  I'll keep knocking on the door here and get it sometime.

Q.  What happened with your driver on the 12th?
STACY LEWIS:  The face just cracked.  It just happens over time.  I just wanted to make sure I could continue using it.  Obviously it wasn't flying quite like it should, but close enough.
           
As long as I didn't slam it and break it, I could continue using it.

Q.  For you overall, you've finished runner-up last year, here last year, runner-up here again.  With the way the season's been going, how confident are you in your game right now?
STACY LEWIS:  It's huge for me, because I didn't play well yesterday, didn't play my best today, and still I was right there.  I was within a couple shots coming down at the end.
           
It's nice to be comfortable enough to make eagle on the last hole and comfortable with that pressure.  You know, just keep working hard, and hopefully one week it all comes together again.

Q.  You got a firsthand view of Inbee today.  How impressive was her play?
STACY LEWIS:  She played great.  Early on she didn't really make many putts.  Kind of middle of the back nine she started making putts.  She hit some really good putts for par and then birdied the last three.  I think that's what you want.
           
All of us starting out, I wanted to see somebody go out there and win it; that's what she did.

Q.  For you, you kind of understand her a little bit because she won her first tournament on the LPGA as a major, and it took her a while to get that next one.  We talked to you earlier this year when you got that next victory and how good it felt.
STACY LEWIS:  It's such a relief to get the second one.  She's plays in Japan and plays well there, too, so I think it was just a matter of time.


SHANSHAN FENG, Rolex Rankings No. 4

Q. So strong finish.  How are you feeling?
SHANSHAN FENG:  It feels amazing.  You know, the last hole I made an eagle out of the bunker, and I think that's my second eagle of the year.  I think that's a good way to finish.
           
The first day on the last hole I made a bogey, and then after the round I said to the media, I'm going to make it back on the same hole, and that's what I did.  So I'm very happy.

Q.  A potential playoff in the making.
SHANSHAN FENG:  I think I have been in three playoffs so far in my career, and I'm 1-2. So of course I hope that I can be in the playoff if they give me a chance.

Q.  Was that one of the best shots you've ever played?
SHANSHAN FENG:  Yes.  It wasn't a very tough bunker shot.  It was a flat lie and I had room to let the ball roll.  I mean, under pressure I would think that's a very good shot.

Q.  Did you know what you had to do?
SHANSHAN FENG:  I never thought about it because my goal was already set.  I hoped for top 10.

This morning I was thinking in my head, Stacey shot 63.  I was like, That's a good round.  I thought maybe my best round of the this year was 5-under.  I asked me caddie, Do you think it's 5-under?  He said, Yes.  I said, Not 5?  He said, Not yet.

Then actually today I shot 6-under, so it's my best round of the year.


NATALIE GULBIS, Rolex Rankings No. 88

Q.  Rough start to the round, but you got things going after that.  What was were the keys out there?
NATALIE GULBIS:  Rough start definitely in the beginning.  I was very mechanical when I started.  We got to 5 and we started trying to figure out my swing.  (Indiscernible) Just go out and just trust it.  Let's try to hit shots. It was significantly better the bottom two thirds.

Q.  When you got things going finally on the birdie stretch, what was going through your mind?
NATALIE GULBIS:  Well, I mean, at the top of the leaderboard there was a group players that are not only playing well, but really good at making a ton of birdies.  So I just tried to make as many as I could and take my chances.
           
There were a couple pins you had to stay away from.  Then I actually bogeyed 16, so it was nice to birdie the last two.

Q.  And playing with Karrie today, both of you were playing well and pushing each other.  Do you feel that when you're playing with someone?
MODERATOR:  You feel it, and you like playing with players that you have a good rapport with.  I always like playing with Karrie.  She had gotten off to a better start than I had, but it was fun when we were both making birdies.
           
So you do feed off of good shots.  So if they hit a good shot, you think, I can hit that shot, too, and so you continue to back and forth.

Q.  I know it's not a victory, but how does it feel to be back in contention again and have that opportunity?
NATALIE GULBIS:  Good, because I had missed three of my last four cuts, and two of those four were in big events.  I had a rough kind of couple weeks off to work on my golf game, so it's nice to see positive things.

Q.  And for you overall, just this season you've had some really good finishes and some up ups and downs.  (Indiscernible.)
NATALIE GULBIS:  I have.  I have been healthy, which knock on wood has been great.  I've made a couple caddie changes.  I will be looking forward to this next year.

HYO JOO KIM (a)
Via translator

Q. You did a really good job. How do you feel after this week?
HYO JOO KIM: Great. I had a lot of mistakes and I'm a little bit frustrated. But, you know, I had a good finish this week even if I didn't win. I feel great right now.

Q. Do you have any unsatisfying feeling?
HYO JOO KIM: I forgot already. Of course, I have unsatisfied feeling during the round but I tried to forget it. Anyway, I have great result for this tournament. Nothing to regret.

Q. Did you learn anything at this tournament?
HYO JOO KIM: I always learn the same thing from every single tournament. Even if I struggle during the round, I can have a good result if I do my best. I learned this again in this tournament.

 

Topics: Notes and Interviews, The Evian Championship

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