Evian Masters: Pre-Tournament Notes and Interviews

Evian Masters Presented by Société Générale
Evian Golf Club
Evian-Les-Bains, France
July 25, 2012
Pre-tournament notes and interviews


Yani Tseng, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Ai Miyazato, Rolex Rankings No. 4 and defending champion
Shanshan Feng, Rolex Rankings No. 5
Karine Icher, Rolex Rankings No. 61

The LPGA will officially kick off the Evian Masters Presented by Société Générale on Thursday in picturesque Evian-Les-Bains, France. Defending champion and Rolex Rankings No. 4 Ai Miyazato headlines a field of 111 players competing for a $3.25 million purse, which is tied for the largest purse on the LPGA Tour for the 2012 season, and a $487,500 first-place prize check.

Three times a charm? Ai Miyazato returns to France this week to defend her title at the 2012 Evian Masters Presented by Societe Generale. The 27-year-old Japanese star claimed her second Evian title last season with a two-shot victory over Stacy Lewis at 15-under-par 273. The win was Miyazato’s lone triumph in 2011 after a career-year in 2010 where she claimed five victories. Her first victory at the Evian was also her first Tour victory in 2009.

“After this tournament (last year), my confidence was back and I started to feel more comfortable and tried to have fun and get back to good news in Japan,” she said.

Miyazato publically thanked Evian Masters tournament director Jacques Bungert on Tuesday night at a welcome reception for the donation the tournament made toward Japan earthquake and tsunami relief following her 2012 win.

“It was really nice to have help from the tournament. I (will) never forget that, because I felt really inspired.”

Miyazato currently leads the LPGA Official Money List with $1,059,331 on the strength of victories at the inaugural LPGA LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf and the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G as well as six other top-10 finishes including two runner-ups. She is third in the Rolex Player of the Year race – an award she has yet to capture despite nine career victories and more than $6.7 million in earnings – and leads the Tour in Rounds Under Par and Scoring Average at 70.35.


Welcoming party: During the LPGA’s two-week break following the U.S. Women’s Open earlier this month, Shanshan Feng headed back home to China and got an opportunity to celebrate her historic victory in her home country. Feng, who became the first player from mainland China to win on the LPGA Tour at the Wegmans LPGA Championship in June, took part in two celebrations during her return to China – one in Beijing and one in her hometown of Guangzhou.

“It was so busy, like the schedule was like nonstop for 10 days in a row,” Feng said. “Started like when I arrived at the airport in Beijing. I mean, every time when I went home before only my parents will come and pick me up.  This time when I just arrived I saw so many media from China and Korea, too.  They were waiting and had the big poster of my picture and were taking pictures and I had interviews.  I felt like a star, you know.  (Laughs)”

Feng, 22, is certainly a rising star in China, which has been slower than some of the other Asian countries to embrace golf. After Feng won the Wegmans LPGA Championship, she talked about her desire to have an impact similar to Chinese tennis star Li Na and to help grow the game of golf in her country. But she was unaware of just how immediate an impact that her victory had back in China.

“A lot of juniors said now they believe they can be a pro and they want to come out of the country and play maybe in the States or Europe or Japan,” Feng said. “I mean, I didn't think that, you know, my win would do too much.  I want to try to do something, but golf is still not very, how do you say, not very popular in China yet.

“But I think at the time I won, a lot different medias, like not only golf medias, but like all the newspapers and magazines, they all like had articles of mine.  You know, even like my primary schoolmates, they all contact me and say, Hey, I saw you in newspaper.  So I think it was pretty big.”


From Masters to Major:
Karine Icher is back at the Evian Masters after a one-year hiatus due to giving birth to her daughter, Lola, last August. So the native of France was not on hand last year when the announcement was made that the event in Evian-les-Baines, France will become the LPGA’s fifth major in 2013 and be renamed The Evian Championship.

For Icher, who has watched golf grow in France, the news is certainly exciting and she was happy to talk about what it will mean next year to have one of the LPGA’s majors in her home country.

“It's super big,” Icher said. “France is not a big country.  We don't have a lot of golf courses like in the States.  We're going to have the Ryder Cup in '18, so to have a women's major, it means a lot. I hope we're going to have more kids coming to golf and trying and have more golf, women's golf professionals from France on both the European Tour and LPGA.  It would be great. Definitely it's a big, big thing for us.”

There have been some slight changes to the golf course this week leading up to next year’s transition to a major. But the majority of the work to the course will be done once play is finished this week in preparation for “The Evian” next September.

“I know there are some changes,” said Yani Tseng. “I practiced 18 holes on Monday and nine holes on Tuesday, and there is couple holes that the length is very long, like the par‑3 on 14 and No. 1 goes back 30 yards. But actually I feel better, because when they put the tee up I just feel the fairway was very narrow.  When they moved back, I feel the fairways was much wider.  So the longer you move I think it's better for me.

“So I think the golf course, the green was so smooth and so fast this year.  And the rough is really tough.  I think the course is getting harder and harder.”


Back after baby: Karine Icher played in just seven official LPGA events last season before taking a leave of absence from the Tour in preparation of giving birth to her first child. Icher’s daughter, Lola, was born in August and the new mom said that it’s taken some time for her to get adjusted to life as a mom both on and off the golf course.

“My life is changed forever,” said Icher, who is a native of France. “To have a baby, it's completely different.  Now my priority is not anymore my golf but my daughter. Maybe I'm more relaxed and happier for sure.  It's fun to travel with her, to have her on tour, and to be a golf professional as well.”

The changes didn’t just begin when Icher gave birth. She said that her golf game was affected during her pregnancy as she lost one club worth of distance on her irons and between 20-30 yards on her drive. Then came the layoff after Lola’s birth and Icher acknowledged that it took some time to get her feel back as well. But after a slow start to the year, Icher has gotten her game back and has recorded four top-12 finishes in her last six events including a season-best third-place finish at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic.

“My game is good now,” Icher said. “I putt pretty well.  If everything goes well for me, I can expect a good result, maybe a top 10 or better [this week]. But first thing I just want to enjoy to be in France one time a year, one week a year, and playing with all my fans and family and friends who support me.  It's important. If I can give some example to some young player in France to maybe being professional someday, that's going to be the goal.”

Ch-ch-ch-changes…Yani Tseng admits that her play over the past two months has not lived up to her own high expectations, Coming off finishes of T50 at the U.S. Women’s Open, a missed cut at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G and T59 at the Wegmans LPGA Championship, the current world No. 1 in women’s golf is looking to get her game back on track.

“I think I just feel a little more pressure,” Tseng said of her recent slide. “I kind of thinking too much and trying too hard to play well like I did before.  I only play two, three bad tournament, and feel like the end of the world.  Like everybody was asking me what's wrong with me, what happened to your game? But there was nothing wrong.  It's really hard to play well every week.  I always do my best to play well, and I learning a lot from mistake last two months.  I think I'm ready to go.  I feel fresh.  I don't look back.  I don't feel like I do anything wrong.  I still keep working hard and try to balance my life.”

Tseng did decide to make one change heading into the Evian Masters and that was to take what she called “a break” with her caddy, Jason Hamilton. Tseng will have a new caddy, Basil van Rooyen, on the bag this week in France. Although Rooyen is new to Tseng and the LPGA Tour, he is a veteran caddy who has worked around the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour.

“Jason Hamilton, the caddie I have before, he's a very good guy and great caddie, too,” Tseng said. “He’s been helping me out a lot.  We win a lot of tournaments together. But I had a little struggle these couple months, and I just feel like both of us, we need to do take a little break.  It's not like ‑‑ I still think he can help me, but I think it's more my problem, because every time I hitting bad I kind of blame on him. I don't like that, so I tell him that we need a little break and see how it's going in the future.”

“So I just found a caddie after tell him, and Basil was on the PGA TOUR and Champions Tour, and he been working on there for like 30 year.  First time for him to come to Evian, you know, and first time to caddie on the LPGA. So I'm very exciting for that, and I think he is, too.  I'm very much looking forward to work with him.”


Nine former champions of the Evian Masters don the field this week.  Defending champion and two-time winner Miyazato is joined by Jiyai Shin (2010 winner), Helen Alfredsson (2008, 1998, 1994), Natalie Gulbis (2007), Karrie Webb (2006), Paula Creamer (2005), Wendy Doolan (2004), Juli Inkster (2003) and Laura Davies (1995 and 1996). Two of Alfredsson’s victories and Davies’ two victories came prior to the Evian Masters becoming an official LPGA event. When they won those titles, the Evian Masters was still sanctioned by the LET. The tournament 18-hole record is held by Alfredsson who carded a second-round 63 en route to her victory in 2008.  The 72-hole record is held by Inkster at 21-under par.

A total of 9 sponsor invitees will be competing at this year’s Evian Masters. Of that group, there is one LPGA member (Danielle Kang), seven LET members (Caroline Afonso, Sophie Giquel-Bettan, Trish Johnson, Jiayun Li, Xiyu Lin, Anais Maggetti and Sharmila Nicollet) and one professional who is not yet a member of a Tour (Cheyenne Woods).


YANI TSENG, Rolex Rankings No. 1

MODERATOR:  We'd like to welcome Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng into the interview room.  Thank you so much for joining us today.  Great to see you again.  Always great to be back here in France. Just take me through your thoughts of being back here at the Evian Masters and how much you enjoy this beautiful golf course.

YANI TSENG:  I mean, I'm very, very exciting to come back here.  It's a beautiful place.  This golf course is very, very challenge, so every year I always wish I play better every year and try to winning the tournament and stay at the Royal Hotel.  This is kind of always my goal for this week.

Enjoy the fans here, the beautiful view in France here.  It's kind of very exciting.  Every time I came here I feel very peaceful.  It's kind of a feel fresh for me and just to enjoy this week.  This is one of my favorite tournaments on the tour.

MODERATOR:  Talk about feeling fresh, I know it's been a little bit of a rough stretch lately for you.  It's funny how after such a dominant year last year, I'm sure the questions come of what's wrong with Yani. It hasn't been that bad necessarily, but what's been the difference for you over the past few tournaments and what have you done over the past couple weeks to get yourself back into what you feel is the form you need?

YANI TSENG:  I think I just feel a little more pressure.  I kind of thinking too much and trying too hard to play well like I did before.  I only play two, three bad tournament, and feel like the end of the world.  Like everybody was asking me what's wrong with me, what happened to your game.

But there was nothing wrong.  It's really hard to play well every week.  I always do my best to play well, and I learning a lot from mistake last two months.  I think I'm ready to go.  I feel fresh.  I don't look back.  I don't feel like I do anything wrong.  I still keep working hard and try to balance my life.

I feel very comfortable this week and I feel very confidence, too.  Just can't wait to go out and see how I play this week.

MODERATOR:  We were talking to Ai Miyazato earlier, and she said last year she only had one victory but didn't feel like it was a bad year.  But of course coming off the year before where she had such a great year she had the same sort of questions. Is it amazing how quickly it can shift for a player where you’re feeling confident and things come easy, and then for some reason all of a sudden is it doesn't come quite as easy?

YANI TSENG:  Yeah, it's pretty hard be world No. 1.  This is kind of my second year.  No one knows how hard.  It's not just playing good golf.  Everything around the golf course I need to handle.  All the medias and fans and pressure on the golf course and sponsors, it's really hard.

I found out it's not that easy.  But I think I'm getting better every time and learning a lot.  I have a good team behind me to helping out those things.

I mean, I know even you tell me that Ai has only won one tournament, but nobody cares because everybody knows she's a great player.  We don't think if she didn't win a tournament she couldn't play golf anymore.  We still feel like she's still the best golfer and can win tournaments.

Sometimes I look at myself from other players' angle.  Maybe people wasn't think I play bad last two months.  They probably just forgot.  After the week they probably still think I have a chance to win this week.

That's the way I look at other players.  It's hard to winning every tournament.  You enjoy, you try your best, and you're learning from other players.  That's why golf is so challenge.  I'm still have lots of passion.

MODERATOR:  I know you do have one change this week.  You have new caddie on the bag, Basil, who is a veteran on the PGA TOUR.  Take me through your decision making in deciding to make a switch in caddie and what you're looking forward to working with Basil.

YANI TSENG:  Jason Hamilton, the caddie I have before, he's a very good guy and great caddie, too.  He been helping me out a lot.  We winning a lot of tournaments together. But I had a little struggle these couple months, and I just feel like both of us, we need to do take a little break.  It's not like ‑‑ I still think he can help me, but I think it's more my problem, because every time I hitting bad I kind of blame on him.

I don't like that, so I tell him that we need a little break and see how it's going in the future.  So I just found a caddie after tell him, and Basil was on the PGA TOUR and Champions Tour, and he been working on there for like 30 year.  First time for him to come to Evian, you know, and first time to caddie on the LPGA.

So I'm very exciting for that, and I think he is, too.  I'm very much looking forward to work with him.

Q.  What did you learn from your last Evian Masters, and what is your strategy for this year?

YANI TSENG:  This is my fifth year, and I always try very hard to figure out the green.  The green is very hard.  You think everything is from the mountain, but sometimes breaks toward the mountain.  I think the green is most challenging on this golf course.

The distance is not really long, but you just need to hit on the fairway and try to put a good spot.  Sometimes when you hit a good shot it's not going to hit on a good spot, too.  So you just need to be patient this week and try to make as more birdie you can and don't make a big number.

I don't know.  This year I feel much more confidence than other years.  I feel very exciting, because maybe my (indiscernible) is going low.  So I just feel like I'm ready to have some fun this week.

Q.  Tell us about the balance you found in your life.

YANI TSENG:  I think I have a good team, very good team behind me.  They try to take care of everything and just let me focus on the golf. Because last year when I become the world No. 1, I kind of get a lot more attention and try to do as more as I can, and then I don't have time to rest and practice.

After that, we kind of getting better.  We do the media but we have time it rest, I have time to practice, too, I have time to go out with my friends and have fun, go watch movie instead of just practice and do the media thing.

So those balance my life and I feel much better.  And with my family, my family comes and I have time to go back to Taiwan and visit my family.  So those things makes me really relax and happy.

Q.  (Question regarding magazine cover.)

YANI TSENG:  I haven't seen it, but the picture looks pretty good.  I'm always really happy to be on the covers, doesn't matter which ones.  It's very exciting because I think the cover is in Evian here, so it's going to be lots of people see it.  So it's going to be very exciting.  Very appreciative.

MODERATOR:  This is the last year that this tournament is going to be Evian Masters, a regular event on the LPGA Tour.  Next year it will take on the status as the LPGA's fifth major. There have been some slight changes to the golf course they've made in preparation for next year.  What are your thoughts?  Have you been out there and noticed any changes yet on the golf course?

YANI TSENG:  Yeah, I know there are some changes.  I practiced 18 holes on Monday and nine holes on Tuesday, and there is couple holes that the length is very long, like the par‑3 on 14 and No. 1 goes back 30 yards. But actually I feel better, because when they put the tee up I just feel the fairway was very narrow.  When they moved back, I feel the fairways was much wider.  So the longer you move I think it's better for me.

So I think the golf course, the green was so smooth and so fast this year.  And the rough is really tough.  I think the course is getting harder and harder.

Every time we came here we always feel it's another major, so I don't feel like there is any big change.  And I don't want to change anything, too, because, I mean, every time if you think about a major, you always get a major pressure, everything. But I'm still just exciting to come back here to see the view, the town here.  Always enjoy, so I'm very looking forward to see how I feel.  Maybe next year comes and everybody feel pressure.  But I have no idea.

AI MIYAZATO, Rolex Rankings No. 4

MODERATOR:  We'd like to welcome defending champion Ai Miyazato into the interview room.  This place has some special meaning to you, I know.  As a two‑time winner here, just tell me some thoughts about being back here after such a special victory last year.

AI MIYAZATO:  It's always nice to be back here.  I have such a great memory since last few years.  It's just a one place, just beautiful nature, beautiful people, and it's perfect place for golf tournament, so it's always fun to stay here.

MODERATOR:  And this golf course, having won here twice, is it a golf course that suits your eye?  I know there have been some slight changes this year as they start to get ready for next year when it becomes a major. Is this a golf course that you love to play?

AI MIYAZATO:  Yeah, for sure.  I had a practice round last couple days and it's definitely longer than last year, so I was thinking it's going to be interesting this week. But I'm still have a good feeling with this golf course, so looking forward to play this weekend.

MODERATOR:  This year has been pretty good to you so far.  You're leading the official Money List on the LPGA Tour, two victories so far this year.  Talk to me about your game and how you feel about your game coming into this week.

AI MIYAZATO:  Yes, you know, my putting average is pretty good.  It's always my important thing, especially the short game, because I'm not hit long.  So my short game and my putting is definitely feeling about good this year.  That's why I think I won twice.

Also my mental is getting strong, so I have confidence with my game and I trust myself and I trust my swing.  I trust my tempo as well. And also I'm having fun with my game, too, so that's why I think I've been playing good so far.

MODERATOR:  The big difference from last year it took you until this tournament to get a victory under your belt last season.  Do you feel like this start has changed your outlook for the rest of year as far as goals?

AI MIYAZATO:  Yeah, yeah, definitely.  Because like I said, last year was a little bit tough year for me, you know, especially that earthquake and Japan.  That makes a little, how do you say, different my mind. But after this tournament my confidence was back and I starting to feel more comfortable and more trying to having fun and trying to get back to good news in Japan.  All the things kind of came together, so it was really nice.

But I really appreciate last year, the tournament helping for the Japan relief.  It was really nice to having had the help from the tournament.  I never forget that, because I felt really inspiring from that. So I had a great memory.

Q.  Golf changes from one year to another.  Yani had a great year and this year she didn't.  Is it a mental thing that changes when you go into another year when things go wrong, or what is it?

AI MIYAZATO:  That's a good question.  2010 I had a great year.  I had five titles in a year and then last year only one. But I think I didn't feel that I had a bad year at all last year.  You know, it's still ‑‑

INTERPRETER:  Definitely the break after the season makes it difficult to keep the flow.  Obviously I'm doing my best. Last year I was only able to win once, but I didn't feel like that was an unsuccessful season. You know, it is definitely tough to keep the flow going after a break, but just have to live with it.

MODERATOR:  Next year this event becomes a major.  This is the last year it's going to be played at the Evian Masters.  Next year it will be the Evian Championship and will become the fifth major on the LPGA Tour schedule. Having been around this event so long, how much do you think the event will change becoming a major, and how excited are you to see this event take on this title?

AI MIYAZATO:  I mean, the fifth major is definitely huge for women's golf because we never done that before.  So I don't know how it's going to feel, but it's going to be great.  This tournament is already great, but then becoming a major, that's like fantastic for me.

So I think everyone feels the same way.  The golf course is going to be like (indiscernible) next year, so I still can't imagine because I have such a great memory with this golf course.

But still, atmosphere is going to be great.  It's going to be definitely good for everyone, so I'm looking forward to playing next year.

But this week is more important right now

 

SHANSHAN FENG, Rolex Rankings No. 5

MODERATOR:  We'd like to welcome Shanshan Feng into the interview room, otherwise known as Jenny, who is now a major champion after winning Wegman's LPGA Championship in June. I know you just got back from being home in China recognizing you as a major champion.  What was that experience like for you, and how nice is it to go home as a major champion?

SHANSHAN FENG:  I mean, I was home for two weeks totally and it was so busy, like the schedule was like nonstop for 10 days in a row.  Started like when I arrived at the airport in Beijing. I mean, every time when I went home before only my parents will come and pick me up.  This time when I just arrived I saw so many medias from China and Korea, too.  They were waiting and had the big poster of my picture and were taking pictures and I had interviews.  I felt like a star, you know.  (Laughter.)

MODERATOR:  I know they had a big celebration for you.  What did you do in terms celebrating in China?  What did you do with your family as well?

SHANSHAN FENG:  I didn't really have too much time to hang without with my family.  I had I think like two fans' meetings, like one Guangzhou and one in Beijing.  The one in Beijing was really huge. You know, a lot of fans, they came, and a lot sponsors.  Even the president of China Golf Association, they all came.  It was my first experience to, actually how you call it, like champagne with a lot of glasses and I'm the one that fill it up. It was quite a fun experience.

MODERATOR:  I know you've talked about what you want to be for golf in China in terms of we talked about Li Na and what she's meant to tennis.  When you went back and got to see all the fans and all the support you've got, did that give you even more hope to bring awareness of golf in China and also Korea and Japan?

SHANSHAN FENG:  I think actually maybe it affects a little more than I expected.  You know, a lot juniors now they said now they believe they can be a pro and they want to come out of the country and play maybe in the States or Europe or Japan.Yeah, I mean, I didn't think that, you know, my win would do too much.  I want to try to do something, but golf is still not very, how do you say, not very popular in China yet.

But I think at the time I won, a lot different medias, like not only golf medias, but like all the newspapers and magazines, they all like had articles of mine.  You know, even like my primary schoolmates, they all contact me and say, Hey, I saw you in newspaper.  So I think it was pretty big.

Yeah, I don't know.  Maybe I slept too much in morning.  I'm sorry.  My brain is running a little slow this morning.

MODERATOR:  That's okay.  I've been in that mode all week.  In terms of this win, we talked about what it means in China.  But for you, you had set the goal to win this year on the LPGA and to have a top 10 finish in a major, and to do both in the same event, how much have you taken from that and the confidence level you have going into the rest of the LPGA season?

SHANSHAN FENG:  I mean, really gave me a lot of confidence.  You know, now I really believe myself that I can, you know, win.  Not only one, I can win more.  I'm able to win. Actually, at the fans' meeting in Beijing we had like a topic, and the title was actually like a new start.  So I think what it means to me is that maybe I had really good results this year so far, but I'm going to be like a new self. Like I'm not going to give myself too much pressure because I'm a major winner now.  I'm just going to take that confidence and have a new start.

Q.  (Question regarding oddball questions she's been asked.)

SHANSHAN FENG:  I think there was one question that was funny.  Usually in Asia, like parents, they are involved maybe sometimes for coaching and caddying, things like that. They asked me if my dad is still teaching me.  I said, Well ‑‑ I told them a story.  I said like maybe it was my second year on the tour and my dad, it was my worst year.

During the off‑season, my dad was on the range with me and he was like, Oh, I think the swing here is wrong, there is wrong, something is wrong.  I told him, I said, Dad, you don't know what my coach is coaching me.  I'll give you two options.  One is that you can go to my coach's academy and you can you what he's teaching me and you learn and then you can teach me.  Or second, if you don't want to go you can just be a dad, a happy dad.

He said, Okay, I choose the second.  I think my dad is really happy right now.  I think he's really happy just as a dad and not anybody else.

I want to actually say that's a special thing.  We have like (indiscernible) of sports in China.  I don't know the English name.  It's like a big sportsman of the year or something.

There weren't any golfers in that ever, and then this year I think I was voted for being an alternate for nonOlympic Games this year.  Starting next year golf is going to be one of the Olympic Games.  If I'm voted again, I'll be voted for best female sportsman of China.

MODERATOR:  That's pretty cool.

SHANSHAN FENG:  I know.  I feel so proud, because last year ‑‑ this year, January, I was sitting home and watching the whole thing.  I was like, When can a golfer be in that ceremony?  That would be super.  I didn't visualize next year I will be there.

MODERATOR:  Since the last few times we've talked has it really started to sink in grasp what all this means being back in China what all this means in terms of not just for yourself but overall?

SHANSHAN FENG:  I mean, for myself I think it really gives me a lot of confidence.  I think for the country, you know maybe my win is letting people to know of course like golf is a sport, first of all, and it's very healthy, and Chinese are going to be good at it.

Now I think there is more and more medias saying positive things about golf, and I'm sure that's going to help golf to remain growing.  And a lot more like schools, maybe they're going to have sports teams, I mean golf teams.  Maybe a lot of juniors will play.

We are going to have so many good players.  China is gonna be a strong country in golf.

MODERATOR:  Now I guess getting back to this week and this golf course, have you gotten a chance to get out and play?  There have been some slight changes as we start to get ready for next year and this event turning into a major.  How is the golf course playing so far?

SHANSHAN FENG:  I played nine and nine yesterday and the day before.  I've always liked this course so far.  I mean, it's a pretty and it's good for me because it's kind of narrow.  It's narrow and people really need good striking.  I mean, I think the greens are always tough parts because they're hard to read.  Like it's so easy to miss just on the edges.

I think I'm going to take more time over some putting.  I think I've had a really good season so far.  My best finish before this year was 30, and I think I'm going to break that this year.

Q.  (Question regarding Olympics prediction.)

SHANSHAN FENG:  I don't know when the deadline is.  I mean, our Rolex ranking, I think it's, how do you say, it rotates every two years.

MODERATOR:  Yep.

SHANSHAN FENG:  So it's four years later.  We don't know what's going to happen.  The good results now are not going to count.

So I really want to play, just like I told you.  I mean, I'm still going to play mostly in the States and I'm going to play a few in Japan every year.  These two tours are the tours that have the most points for the world rankings.  I mean, I'm just going to try my best.

It's four years later.  Who knows if there is going to be more good Chinese players that appear.  If they are better than me and they play the Olympics, I actually feel happy.  It means China is getting stronger.

Q.  I've been to Mission Hills where they have a team of kids training to be Olympic golfers.  Do you know about that scheme?

SHANSHAN FENG:  I don't think we have that.

Q.  Well, it's at Mission Hills.  There are about 20 boys and girls and they have education and they play golf.  It's all happened since the Olympic thing came into the equation.

SHANSHAN FENG:  I don't think I've ever heard about that.  I mean, they might have like a team, like a junior team that maybe they have some benefits, but I haven't heard about it.  I'm sorry.

Q.  They're not golfers, they're just children of famous athletes and they are going to turn them into athletes.  I think it's working quite well.

SHANSHAN FENG:  Okay.  Hopefully it's going to work.


KARINE ICHER, Rolex Rankings No. 61

MODERATOR:  We'd like to welcome  Karine Icher into the interview room.  Welcome home.

KARINE ICHER:  Thank you.

MODERATOR:  It's wonderful full always to be back in France.  It's been a great start to the season for you.  You've been applying some really great golf lately.  Take me through first off what it's like to be back home in France and come back to this event, and overall how you feel you've been playing as of late.

KARINE ICHER:  It's very exciting to be back in France obviously.  It's been two years, so I'm very happy to be here to see my friends, family, everybody.  It's a beautiful course.  There are little changes.  Really good greens.  I think I played maybe 10 Evian Masters, and it's really the first year where the green are so good.

So so far it's a good week.  Hope it's going to stay like that.

MODERATOR:  Your best finish of the year came in Mobile.  You've been putting together some solid golf over the past few weeks.  What's been the biggest key for you with your golf game to get yourself back to playing consistently and putting together some top performances.

KARINE ICHER:  I work a lot on my putting, which is the key now to do some good scores.  My game is pretty solid, so it's even easier to hit some birdies when you hit more greens in regulation. So far it's a good year.  After having a baby, it's good for me.  I'm happy with my season, and hope to do more, a little bit more.

MODERATOR:  As you said, you missed this event last year because you had the exciting event with Lola being born last August.  How much has your life changed in the past year being a mom?

KARINE ICHER:  My life is changed forever.  To have a baby, it's completely different.  Now my priority is not anymore my golf but my daughter. Maybe I'm more relaxed and happier for sure.  It's fun to travel with her, to have her on tour, and to be a golf professional as well.

MODERATOR:  She's here with you this week?

KARINE ICHER:  Yeah, with grandpa and grandma.  So we have more time to relax too with friends.

MODERATOR:  And last year I know you weren't here, but we had the big announcement of this event becoming a major next year, the fifth on the LPGA Tour.  What does that mean for France to have a major and for this event to have that distinction?

KARINE ICHER:  It's super big.  France is not a big country.  We don't have a lot golf courses like in the States.  We're going to have the Ryder Cup in '18, so to have a women's major, it means a lot. I hope we're going to have more kids coming to golf and trying and have more golf, women's golf professionals from France on both the European Tour and LPGA.  It would be great. Definitely it's a big, big thing for us.

Q.  What surprised you about the impact of having a baby?  How did it affect you in a way you didn't expect it to affect your golf?

KARINE ICHER:  It affect my golf last year because I played until seven months pregnant.  So when I played being pregnant, I lost a lot of distance.  Sometimes you can have people saying, Being pregnant you're going to gain some distance.  For many, many player it was completely the opposite.

Then to have the break you lose so much so fast.  The beginning of this season I lost a little bit my feeling, short game, putting was hard to coming back and be good on this part of the game.

Long game was okay, but short game was affected a little bit.

Q.  How much length did you lose being pregnant and where are you back to now?

KARINE ICHER:  I lost maybe one club on my iron, and on the driving, maybe between 20 and 30 yards, which is hard when you're playing on the Tour.

Q.  And you've got all that back now?

KARINE ICHER:  Yeah, because then to have a break it was good to be back on the technique work on the basics.  So Lola was born in August, so I've been back this year in February.  I had like six months to work on my game, and now it's okay.

Q.  Overall you're saying it's a good experience for your golf to have a baby because it makes you more relaxed and balanced?

KARINE ICHER:  I think so.  Be focus like 24 hour a day 7 days a week your golf game, sometimes you can collapse.  Now I'm more focused on my baby and a little bit less on my golf game, which is good, because I can take more time off golf. And when I know I'm going to train, maybe I'm going to have two hours instead of six because I need to spend time with her.

So it's more quality rather than quantity.  You have to be very well organized and put your priority in an order when you practice.

Q.  What do you expect this year from this Evian Masters?

KARINE ICHER:  Playing good, enjoy myself on the golf course, and we'll see.  My game is good now.  I putt pretty well.  If everything goes well for me, I can expect a good result, maybe a top 10 or better. But first thing I just want to enjoy to be in France one time a year, one week a year, and playing with all my fans and family and friends who support me.  It's important.

If I can give some example to some young player in France to maybe being professional someday, that's going to be the goal.

Putting is the key.  I mean, you can drive perfectly on the fairway like 300 yards or 200 yards, doesn't matter.  But if you make the 20‑foot putt on the green, that makes the difference.

Q.  To win?

KARINE ICHER:  Yeah.


Topics: The Evian Championship, Tseng, Yani, Notes and Interviews, Feng, Shanshan, Icher, Karine, Miyazato, Ai [+]

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