Evian Masters Third-round Notes and Interviews

Evian Masters Presented by Société Générale
Evian Golf Club
Evian-les-Bains, France

July 28, 2012
Third-round Notes and Interviews

Stacy Lewis -11, Rolex Rankings No. 3
Inbee Park -11, Rolex Rankings No. 21
Karrie Webb -10, Rolex Rankings No. 24
Natalie Gulbis -10, Rolex Rankings No. 88
Hyo Joo Kim -10, (a)
Cristie Kerr -9, Rolex Rankings No. 9

Rolex Rankings No. 3 Stacy Lewis and No. 21 Inbee Park sit tied atop the leaderboard at 11-under-par and lead by one stroke heading into Sunday's final round of the 2012 Evian Masters Presented by Société Générale. Lewis, who has led wire-to-wire this week, shot a 1-over 73 on Saturday while Park fired a 2-under 70 to share the lead with 18 holes left to play.

Lewis is seeking her third LPGA victory of the 2012 season and fourth overall and finds herself in good position despite a so-so performance on Saturday. After rounds of 63 and 69 to open up the week, Lewis struggled during the middle part of Saturday's third round. She went 4-over in a stretch of four holes  which included bogeys on No. 12 and 14 and a double-bogey on the par-5 15th. But a birdie on the finishing par-5 18th kept her in the lead for a third consecutive day.

"I knew I needed to make birdie to get in the last group," Lewis said. "That's where I wanted to be, so more than anything I was trying to make that. It's also nice just to see a putt go in.  It had been quite a few holes since I'd seen a putt go in, so I think that'll help a lot. I shot 63 the first day, so I know I can play good out here.  I'm not too worried about it."

Park, who was playing with Lewis on Saturday, had an opportunity to take sole possession of the lead on 18 after hitting her second shot close to the pin with a 4-hybrid. But Park just missed her eagle putt and settled for a tap-in birdie to tie Lewis for the overnight lead.

"Today was a tough day," said Park. "Out of all three days, the playing conditions were the toughest today because of a little bit of rain and wind. But really satisfied the way I hang in there today.  Still putted good today, so I'm really happy."

Lewis, a native Texan, has nine top-10 finishes this season including victories at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic and the ShopRite LPGA Classic. She leads the Rolex Player of the Year race with 129 points, just nine points ahead of two-time, back-to-back winner Yani Tseng. Lewis is fourth in 2012 LPGA Official Money List with $941,860.

Park, who captured her lone LPGA Tour victory at the 2008 U.S. Women's Open, is looking to get back in the winner's circle for the first time in four years. Park has tallied top-10 finishes in her last four events including a season-best T2 at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic when she lost in a playoff to Brittany Lang.

Sitting just one shot back of the leaders are LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Karrie Webb, 2007 Evian Masters champion Natalie Gulbis and South Korean amateur Hyo Joo Kim while 14-time LPGA Tour winner Cristie Kerr is two strokes behind at 9-under-par.

Watch out for the former champions: Of the 14 players who are within three shots of the lead, three of them have won this event previously.

2006 Evian Masters winner Karrie Webb and 2007 winner Natalie Gulbis have put themselves in good position as they're one shot behind the co-leaders. Paula Creamer, who won here in Evian in 2005, is also within striking distance after 54 holes of play. Creamer shot a 1-over 73 on Saturday and its tied for seventh at 8-under.

Webb put herself in a position to capture another victory here in Evian by shooting a 5-under 67 on Saturday. It followed up rounds of 70 and 69 for Webb, who is still seeking her first victory of the 2012 season.

"Amazingly it was my best round of the week, but probably not my best ball-striking day," said Webb. "Which is just crazy about golf.  Really hit it nicely the first two days and didn't make many putts. Today I made a couple nice long ones, which always helps get that score going.  It was nice to see them go in."

For Gulbis, that victory here at the Evian Masters in 2007 is her only win on the LPGA Tour and she would love to capture her second one here as well.

"I love the golf course, for sure, and I love the greens," said Gulbis. "The greens are fast and you really have to hit a lot of different shots, which I've always enjoyed. I love everything about this event.  This event is special for me because it is where I had my first individual win.  It's just so beautiful.  I think all the players would agree it's one of the best events all year."

Turning heads! Korean amateur Hyo Joo Kim is playing in her just second LPGA event this week but she's certainly making her presence felt here at the Evian Masters.

Kim, who turned 17 just two weeks ago, sits one shot back of the lead heading into Sunday's final round of the Evian Masters Presented by Societe Generale. Kim shot a 3-under 69 on Saturday, her third consecutive round in the 60s this week, and is tied for third at 10-under-par.

"Well, this week, I played good on the front but messed up on the back 9," Kim said through a translator. "Today was same. To be honest, I was upset. But I just wait until my feeling comfortable because I knew last three holes are short so I can have a chance to make birdie. It worked."

While Kim is still an amateur, she's no stranger to the winner's circle in professional golf. Kim captured her first KLPGA victory at the Lotte Mart championship in February. She then became the youngest winner in JLPGA history in May when she won the Suntori Ladies at the age of 16. A winner of 15 amateur events, Kim expects to turn professional at the LPGA KEB_HanaBank Championship in October.

In her only previous LPGA event earlier this year, Kim finished tied for 12th at the LPGA LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf.

Kim will try to become the fifth amateur to win an LPGA event and the first since JoAnne Carner at the 1969 Burdine's Invitational.

Amateurs to win an LPGA event

Polly Riley, 1950 Tampa Open, 72 holes

Pat O'Sullivan, 1951 Titleholders Championship, 72 holes

Catherine LaCoste, 1967 U.S. Women's Open

JoAnne Carner, 1969 Burdine's Invitational, 54 holes

Get low: The winning score at the Evian Masters has been at least 14-under-par every year except for one. That was in 2007 when Natalie Gulbis took home the title with a winning score of 4-under-par. So it's no surprise that many players feel that it could take a low number to capture the victory here on Sunday.

"I think you can make a lot of birdies on this golf course," Gulbis said. " If there is some weather in the forecast, I think that just shooting a couple under will probably put you in a good spot.  But if the weather is good you have to go low here.  There are a lot of scorable holes."

When Cristie Kerr finished the third round, she was five shots back of Stacy Lewis. When Stacy Lewis finished her third round, she was just two shots ahead of Kerr. Entering tomorrow's final round at the Evian Masters, the American duo will each be seeking their first Evian Masters trophy. Kerr carded a 5-under-par 67 on Saturday with six birdies and one bogey to move into solo sixth.

"I played great today," Kerr said. "The conditions came in for us on the 15th hole. Really just started raining a lot and became hard to make your normal swing."

Kerr made five consecutive pars to finish the day in the midst of a rain shower that lasted 45 minutes. She is seeking her 15th LPGA victory and first since the Wegmans LPGA Championship in 2010.

Of Note…Cheyenne Woods, who missed the cut in her first two LPGA events this year, delivered another solid round on Saturday. She shot a 2-under 70, and sits in a T19 at 6-under-par…The low round of the day belonged to LPGA Tour rookie Carlota Ciganda, who shot a 6-under-66. The 22-year-old Spaniard is now tied for seventh at 8-under after beginning the day in a T41…Defending champion Ai Miyazato shot 70 on Saturday and is T29 at 5-under.

Quotable: "Feeling good all year, just not putting it all together.  I think I've played consistently pretty good, but not good or great. Hopefully have another good one tomorrow and see if it's a great finish" – Karrie Webb


STACY LEWIS, Rolex Rankings No. 3

MODERATOR:  You struggled today but will have the lead.  Just Tell us about your round.
STACY LEWIS:  Well, I mean, I didn't get off to a good start and I was a little frustrated with the front nine.  I was staying pretty patient through 11 or 12 holes, but then kind of struggled in the middle and left a few out there.

Finished with a birdie.  I didn't hit it that bad, but I just didn't make any putts.  I feel like I'm still in the tournament, and just got to make some putts tomorrow.

MODERATOR:  There are quite a few talented players just a shot or two away from the lead.  What are you looking forward to most tomorrow?
STACY LEWIS:  It's going to be a shootout tomorrow.  I think you saw some low scores today.  Our group in general, we didn't make too many birdies.

It's going to take -- the low score is going to win tomorrow is what's going to happen.

Hopefully that's me.  As bad as I played today, I can play that good tomorrow.  I'm not too worried about it.  Just one of those days.

MODERATOR:  Just comment on the weather and whether it affected you at all out there.
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, the weather, I mean, other than a little bit ever rain, it wasn't too bad.  It was pretty manageable.  I think we only had a couple holes where it was really actually raining.

Overall, I think it was a good day. 

Q.  Psychologically how important that was last birdie?
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, I knew I needed to make birdie to get in the last group.  That's where I wanted to be, so more than anything I was trying to make that.

It's also nice just to see a putt go in.  It had been quite a few holes since I seen a putt go in, so I think that'll help a lot.

I shot 63 the first day, so I know I can play good out here.  I'm not too worried about it.

Q.  It's been really hot in America, 105, 104.  For tour players, how does this compare for you?  Do you find you would rather play in the rain at a nice 78 or 105?  Does weather affect you as a player?
STACY LEWIS:  I think it affects more -- I mean, when it's really hot out the ball flies a long ways and there are some adjustments you have to make.

But everybody is playing in the same weather, so I just think you just got to play with what you're given.

Q.  Right.  Can you take us through the double bogey?  I know you had a chip that missed the green.  What happened there?
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, I think I was trying to be a little too cute with my third shot and just really hit a bad shot.  The first chip actually had a pretty good lie, but just the grass being wet from the rain obviously affected that shot.  Just didn't quite come out like I expected, and then missed about a six-footer.

I make that putt and I think it's a little different scenario.  Unfortunately I didn't.

Q.  Just a world about the 17 year old Hyo Joo Kim who is just a shot behind.  Obviously you've seen a lot of young players over the years.  Does she stand out in any particular way?
STACY LEWIS:  I honestly have never seen her hit a golf ball, so I can't really tell you too much on that.

But I think there are so many young players coming up, especially from Korea, that there seems to be one kind of popping every -- every time we have an event like this where we have exemptions or we open the field up to other tours, I think there is always going to be some young talent.  Who knows what she'll do in the next couple years.

Q.  Compared to last year, did you notice some major changes already made to the course in preparation for the major?
STACY LEWIS:  I think there are some little changes.  Few new tee boxes.  I did notice some trees are taken out on a few holes that kind of visually looked a little more open.

Overall, it doesn't really play any different yet.  I think once they redo the greens then it'll be a different story.

INBEE PARK, Rolex Rankings No. 9

MODERATOR:  We'd like to welcome Inbee Park, one of our current co-leader into the interview room.  Congratulations.  Great round today.  2-Under par puts you tied for the lead with Stacy heading into tomorrow as final round. Just take me through your day out there and what was working well for you.
INBEE PARK:  Today was a tough day.  Out of all three days, the playing conditions were the toughest today because of a little bit of rain and wind. But really satisfied the way I hang in there today.  Still putted good today, so I'm really happy.

MODERATOR:  Overall, how much did the conditions change the golf course compared to the first two days?
INBEE PARK:  It played a little bit longer, and I think it was most like concentration-wise it was tough to concentrate out there. So, yeah, I think I did pretty good today.

MODERATOR:  You've had a pretty solid season so far.  What would it mean for you to be able to capture another victory on the LPGA Tour tomorrow?
INBEE PARK:  Yeah, it's been a while since I won, and I'm really wanting to win.  I'm really excited where I put myself, especially at this event, because I never play good at this event.  So looking forward to tomorrow.

MODERATOR:  I know you said yesterday you were finally starting to figure out these greens in your fifth try here.  What's been the biggest key to learning them, and how much has that helped you this week?
INBEE PARK:  I think most likely it's like experience.  I learn from my mistakes last five years, and it's working better this year.  Very happy with that.

Q.  Great round from you.  Well done.  Good play all week.  Can you just tell us a little bit about Hyo Joo Kim?  You've heard of her before, the Korean amateur?
INBEE PARK:  Yeah, I've heard about her before.  A lot of Korean medias and Korean people talking about her.  I heard she's really good, but I've never really got to play with her.  I really don't know what her game a like.

Q.  But are a lot of girls in Korea, do you see a lot of girls really good that age?  She's 17.
INBEE PARK:  Yeah, I think so.  And especially like KLPGA, there is a lot young players playing really good out there and a lot of young girls playing good in Korea.

Q.  When you say a lot of young girls playing really good, would you have 50 with scratch handicaps that age or more?
INBEE PARK:  50?  I would say it's got to be more.  I really don't know like population for junior golfer in Korea, so it's really tough to say.

MODERATOR:  We've seen a lot of players come over and have had success.  To see a 17 year old up there right in the mix...
INBEE PARK:  Yeah, I mean, she's won professional tournaments twice or three times this year, so I think she's really proven that she's good and she can compete out here. Looking forward to tomorrow, yeah.

MODERATOR:  Overall your game this year, how much more confident have you been playing and how happy are you with how you've been able to play so far?
INBEE PARK:  I'm happy with the ball-striking this year.  Hitting the ball much better and further and straighter this year, so I think that helped me a lot with the scoring.

Q.  How are you hitting the ball further?
INBEE PARK:  I think just better impact.  I mean, I'm not hitting as much of a cut this year, so I think I gained a little bit more distance like that.

Q.  That was an impressive second shot into 18. What was your strategy on that one?
INBEE PARK:  I mean, first day I went for it and I went in the water.  I really learned from my mistake.  I had a perfect lie and only 200 to hole, so it was no question about it.

Q.  What did you hit on that second shot?
INBEE PARK:  4-rescue.

Q.  4-rescue.  I don't hit my 4-rescue that well.  (Laughter.)
INBEE PARK:  It was a great shot.  (Laughter.)

Q.  It was a great shot.

KARRIE WEBB, Rolex Rankings No. 24

Q.  Great playing today.  Nice 5-under round.  Put yourself right up near the top of the leaderboard.  Just take me through the day.  What were the keys out there?
KARRIE WEBB:  Amazingly it was my best round of the week, but probably not my best ball-striking day.  Which is just crazy about golf.  Really hit it nicely the first two days and didn't make many putts.

Today I made a couple nice long ones, which always helps get that score going.  It was nice to see them go in.  Made a nice one on the last as well.

Q.  Yeah.  I was looking at your stats.  Greens in regulation this week, looks like iron shots and everything have been really good.
KARRIE WEBB:  Yeah, I have hit it nicely.  And even today when I didn't feel that great, I still didn't make many mistakes.  I kept it in play, and I think that's the key when you're not feeling 100% with your swing.  You know, you're still giving yourself decent birdie chances and not making any mistakes.

Q.  It was really hot first couple days; today the rain came in.  Did it change things at all with the conditions?
KARRIE WEBB:  Not really.  It was pretty humid to start the day.  The sun tried to come out, and now it's just not a very pleasant day.  We haven't played with any wind or any elements, so I think it made you -- you had to focus a little bit more.  It wasn't just fire away at the pins.

Q.  You've played this course a number times and done well here in the past.  What are the keys heading into Sunday for you?
KARRIE WEBB:  Well, it'll depend how far behind the lead I am.  Obviously Stacy is playing very well.  I'm just glad to be up on the leaderboard.

However far behind I am tomorrow, I'll try and shoot a good one and see if that's good enough.

Q.  I've asked a few of the players this week, I know they moved a few of the tee box back, playing a little longer in certain places.  Has it really changed the way this golf course plays?
KARRIE WEBB:  I think it was needed in places.  I think 1 was a great change.  I like what they have done with the par-5s.  They have moved some tees up, like, you know, moved 7 up for the first two days and 9 back, and then changed it today.

It gives you some variety and makes you think a little bit off the tees and your strategy to the holes.  And today they moved 14 all the way up.

So it's good.  I think it keeps you thinking.  It keeps people a little bit on edge.  So it's the people that can overcome that little obstacle and hit a good shot.

Q.  Overall with your game this year, I mean, you've had some really good finishes, up and downs.  How are you feeling heading into this week?
KARRIE WEBB:  Feeling good all year, just not putting it all together.  I think I've played consistently pretty good, but not good or great.

Hopefully have another good one tomorrow and see if it's a great finish.

NATALIE GULBIS, Rolex Rankings No. 88

Q. So great round, 4-under today, now sitting at 10 for the weekend heading into Sunday's final round.  Take me through your day and what was really working well for you.
NATALIE GULBIS:  I think the change in my round is I eagled 9, and I think I was 1-under going into that.  So that definitely turned my round in the right direction.

And I hit it well coming into the week, so hopefully continued to do that tomorrow.

Q.  This place has special meaning for you, first victory coming here.  Does this golf course just suit your eye?  Is it somewhere where you feel real comfortable playing?
NATALIE GULBIS:  I love the golf course, for sure, and I love the greens.  The greens are fast and you really have to hit a lot of different shots, which I've always enjoyed.

I love everything about this event.  This event is special for me because it is where I had my first individual win.  It's just so beautiful.  I think all the players would agree it's one of the best events all year.

Q.  Overall, heading into Sunday, what's going to be the biggest key as you look towards the leaderboard?  I know Stacy's got a few more holes left, but what's the biggest key for you?
NATALIE GULBIS:  Key for me would be to just go out and play well.  I think you can make a lot of birdies on this golf course.  If there is some weather in the forecast, I think that just shooting a couple under will probably put you in a good spot.  But if the weather is good you have to go low here.  There are a lot of scorable holes.

Q.  The last two days we had a lot of hot, humid conditions; today the weather changed a little bit.  Did it change how the course was playing?
NATALIE GULBIS:  No, just had to put your rain gear on and the view of blocked.  Besides that, no.  The course drains well, so the greens were still fast.  The greens held a little bit better.

HYO JOO KIM (a) - Via translator

Q. Tell me about today's round. You are now sitting at 10-under and you've played very solid for three days.
HYO JOO KIM: Well, This week, I played good on the front but messed up on the back 9. Today was same. To be honest, I was upset. But I just wait until my feeling comfortable because I knew last three holes are short so I can have a chance to make birdie. It worked.

Q. You missed short birdie putt on 7th and missed par putt on next hole. Did that miss carry over to the 8th hole?
HYO JOO KIM: Yes, it happened yesterday too. I have to forget about bad memory of past hole but it couldn't be easy. I need to train about that.

Q. You have great chance to win tomorrow. You need good strategy tomorrow.
HYO JOO KIM: I don't think make any strategy. I'll just play by my condition. I need good rest today and make best condition. And just focus every shot. Anyway I'm playing this tournament as an amateur. I have nothing to lose so I can play comfortable.

Q. So can you play aggressively tomorrow?
HYO JOO KIM: I have to check condition tomorrow. Most important thing is to believe my shot. Actually my shot was change during round. I just was playing hardly on back nine everyday. I'll think about playing strategy tomorrow morning.

CRISTIE KERR, Rolex Rankings No. 9

Q. Got it to 9-under par.  Right now you're four shots back, within striking distance.  Talk about how you're playing?
CRISTIE KERR:  Yeah, you know, I played great today.  The conditions came in for us on the 15th hole.  Really just started raining a lot and became hard to make your normal swing.

So I feel like I dropped a couple shots on the last couple holes, but it made a good par on 18.  I expect that Stacy is gonna go lower, and I'm going to have to have a really low one in some bad conditions tomorrow to have a chance.

Q.  Did the course play any differently after the weather?
CRISTIE KERR:  Well, I mean, after the green speeds got kind of erratic.  That's going to happen when it rains.  The rough, if you hit it in the rough, you're not going to get a nice fluffy lie.  You're going to get a lie that sits down.

I played good.  I had it going.  Made kind of a bad bogey on 10, but I came back with birdies on 12 and 13; then I missed short one on 14 and 15.  Just splitting hairs really.

And then the weather came in.  So I'm glad to be done.

Q.  Last one:  Obviously you're a player that's capable of a four- or five-shot comeback?
CRISTIE KERR:  Or eight.

Q.  Talk about your mentality going into tomorrow?
CRISTIE KERR:  Got to go low.  Obviously we have to see what the conditions are.  But I know that being this far back I'm going to have to shoot a low number and I'm going to have to get some help.

Anything is possible.  Can't stop dreaming.

Topics: Notes and Interviews, Gulbis, Natalie, Lewis, Stacy, Park, Inbee, Kerr, Cristie, Webb, Karrie, The Evian Championship [+]

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