CN Canadian Women's Open
Vancouver Golf Club
Coquitlam, British Columbia
August 25, 2012
Third-round Notes and Interviews
Fifteen-year-old amateur Lydia Ko enters the final round at the CN Canadian Women's Open with a chance to rewrite the record books. The New Zealander holds a one-shot lead over major champions Stacy Lewis, Inbee Park and Jiyai Shin, and Chella Choi, who is seeking her first win, with 18 holes of play remaining at Vancouver Golf Club. Ko, the winner of the 2012 U.S. Women's Amateur, will make a bid to become the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history tomorrow when she tees it up in the final group. Born in 1997, she will be 15 years, four months and three days old tomorrow, more than 16 months younger than Lexi Thompson, who set the mark last September at the Navistar LPGA Classic.
"It's good to stay at the top of the leaderboard, but my first goal was to make the cut and hopefully top 15 or something," Ko said. "But to be up there is just an honor, especially playing against the world's best. 15‑year‑olds don't lead at an LPGA event all the time. Like I said, I'm very surprised. But I've been playing really good golf and I've been really confident with my game."
Ko's one-shot lead could have been two if not for a four-foot par putt that lipped out on the 54th hole on Saturday. The teenager carded three birdies and three bogies - two of which, holes nine and 18, were three putts - to shoot even-par 72 and move to 8-under-par 208 (68-68-72).
"Today I tried to have more fun, but my score wasn't as good," Ko said. "I mean, 72 is better than 73 or any other score, so I'm pretty happy."
Despite her youth, Ko's resume is impressive. She became the youngest winner on any professional golf tour in January at the Women's New South Wales Open at the age of 14 years, 9 months and 5 days. Her record was later broken by Brooke Henderson, a sponsor's exemption this week, at a CN Canadian Women's Tour event in June 2012. Ko was the low amateur at the 2012 U.S. Women's Open where she tied for 39th. She has won numerous amateur championships in Australian and New Zealand and earlier this season finished tied for 17th at the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open at Royal Melbourne on the LPGA Tour.
With a win, Ko would be just the fifth amateur in LPGA Tour history to win and the first since JoAnne Carner in 1969.
"Tomorrow I'm just going to try my best. I've got to play my own game," Ko said. "I can't concentrate on what the other players are doing. If they shoot 66 and I shoot 68 and I lose, I can't control what they do."
Making moves, again… Top-ranked American Stacy Lewis made her way up the leaderboard in Saturday's round with four birdies and an eagle after the turn to finish at 6-under 66 for the day. It's a familiar spot for Lewis as she has already recorded 10 top-10s this season including her second and third career victories at the Mobile Bay Classic and the ShopRite LPGA Classic.
Lewis entered the third round tied for 19th and seven strokes behind amateur leader Lyida Ko. She credits her three birdies in the first five holes that set her off on a hot streak to put her in good position for tomorrow's final round.
"It's the kind of course if you get some birdies early and kind of get rolling on the par‑5s, you can shoot a good number," Lewis said. "If you don't, you'll be struggling for pars. I mean, it's a course that you can play well and shoot 1 or 2‑under. So it's just kind of the way the course plays, I think."
Although the CN Canadian Women's Open changes it's venue each year, Lewis tends to find herself lingering at the top of the leaderboard recently in Canada. Last year, Lewis tied for second at the Canadian Open outside Montreal and in June, she tied for fifth at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic in Waterloo, Ontario.
"I've always been right up there or a shot back," Lewis said. "I think I shot 66 in the final round last year. I seem to play well in Canada, so I like coming back here and hopefully I can keep that momentum going into tomorrow."
Lewis continues to lead several important races and can improve her standing tomorrow. The 27-year-old leads the Rolex Player of the Year race and is hoping to become the first American since Beth Daniel in 1994 to claim the title. She also leads the U.S. Solheim Cup Team points race by a wide margin and the LPGA Official Money List with more than $1.2 million.
Three South Koreans - two of whom are major champions - will be looking to derail Lydia Ko's record book chase tomorrow. Eight-time LPGA winner and 2008 RICOH Women's British Open champ Jiyai Shin is tied at 7-under-par with Stacy Lewis, 2008 U.S. Women's Open champ Inbee Park and Chella Choi, who is trying to become the seventh Rolex First-Time Winner of the season on Sunday. Park has had the hottest hand in recent weeks, claiming her second-career LPGA title at the Evian Masters in France last month. Shin, a former Rolex Rankings No. 1, has two top-10 finishes this season and has not missed a cut since 2010, a year when she claimed the most recent of her eight titles.
It's Chella's party, she'll cry if she wants to. Chella Choi celebrated her 22nd birthday on Sunday with a 1-over-par 73, nine shots off the mark she set on Friday with a tournament-low 8-under-par 64. Choi's career-best finish came two months ago at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic in Waterloo, Ontario, where she tied for second after losing a four-way, sudden-death playoff to Brittany Lang.
Quotable: "It's quite nerve‑racking, but I'm really here for experience and fun, and I'm having fun at the moment. If I don't win tomorrow, I don't think I'll be disappointed. If I do win, I'll take it like an honor." - Lydia Ko says of having the world's top players chasing after her.
Of note… Vancouver Golf Club's 6th hole is the longest in LPGA Tour history at 605 yards… Defending champion Brittany Lincicome is tied for 21st at 1-under-par 215… Moira Dunn is hoping to improve on her season-best finish of T20 this week. She is tied for sixth at 6-under-par with Sydnee Michaels entering the final round… Michaels earned a career-best seventh place finish last week at the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola and is looking for back-to-back top-10's… Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng shot 2-over-par 74 on Saturday and is tied for 21st at 1-under-par 215… Brittany Lang is unlikely to sweep the LPGA's Canadian events this year following a 4-over-par 76 today. She is nine shots off the pace in a tie for 32nd.
MODERATOR: I'd like to welcome our current leader, Lydia Ko into the interview room again. You've had a great round today, still managed to keep the lead. You mentioned in the past two round that's you've wanted to stay at 4‑under par. Take us through your day today. Was today more nerve‑racking for you since it's moving day for a lot of the other players?
LYDIA KO: It wasn't ‑‑ I wasn't that nervous. I don't think I was more nervous today than other days. Today I tried to have more fun, but my score wasn't as good. I mean, 72 is better than 73 or any other score, so I'm pretty happy.
Yeah, it's good to stay at the top of the leaderboard, but my first goal was to make the cut and hopefully top 15 or something. But to be up there is just an honor, especially playing against the world's best.
Q. A lot of the Tour's top players are trailing behind you. Like Stacy Lewis and Na Yeon Choi. How does it feel to have those players chasing after you? Does it add any pressure to your game?
LYDIA KO: A little bit, because I know they're all great players, so the rankings are like Top 5 in the world, and Stacy Lewis is second in the world just trailing behind Yani. I played with Stacy and I know she's a great player.
Yeah, it's quite nerve‑racking, but I'm really here for experience and fun, and I'm having fun at the moment. If I don't win tomorrow, I don't think I'll be disappointed. If I do win, I'll take it like an honor.
Yeah, it's kind of a thrill to see lots of people and especially them trailing behind, yeah, it will be a little nerve‑racking.
Q. Have you gotten any response from your friends at home about how well you've been playing this week?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, they've been congratulating me, and everyone has been supporting me, so it's really awesome. One of the ladies who kind of manages us when we go away New Zealand golf, she said every week I seem to be congratulating you or saying well done or saying this or that. So, yeah, I'm getting enough support, so it's really awesome to see that.
Q. On the golf course it seems the fans here have really taken to you. Are you feeling that support as you walk up the fairways?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, definitely. People are saying, go, you can do this. Especially it's surprising because it is a different country. It's Canada ‑‑ it's not like Canada and the U.S.
So it's really awesome. Everyone's cheering and it's awesome to see everyone supporting every player rather than just one player.
Q. How close did your family come to moving to Canada? I understand it came down to New Zealand or Canada. You had a sister who was attending school here?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, she attended primary school. I don't know where.
Q. Here in Vancouver?
LYDIA KO: I'm not sure. We were pretty close in coming, and I started golf. I wanted my sister to come back to Korea, and we all moved to New Zealand. At first my dad didn't move to New Zealand with us, and he came a little later on.
Q. Lydia, 15‑year‑olds aren't supposed to be leading National Opens. What are you drawing on right now, and what will you draw on tomorrow?
LYDIA KO: Um, yeah 15‑year‑olds don't lead at an LPGA event all the time. But like I said, I'm very surprised. But I've been playing really good golf and I've been really confident with my game.
Tomorrow I'm just going to try my best. I've got to play my own game. I can't concentrate on what the other players are doing. If they shoot 66 and I shoot 68 and I lose, I can't control what they do. So I'm just going to play my game and have one shot at a time.
Q. Everyone has someone behind the scenes that really helped them out and got them started. Who got you started playing golf?
LYDIA KO: My aunt, actually. She gave me two golf clubs and I just went on from there. Now all my family is supporting me, all our relatives and people back at home. So, yeah, they are helping me to become a bigger and better player.
Q. How did your caddie help you today?
LYDIA KO: She's great. Like I said before in my interviews, there are places you don't want to be. She really warns me if it's going to be a fast putt or it's going to be right to left, and it's really awesome to have someone who knows the course really well.
Q. You had a good first round second round, but you're very calm out there. How do you keep your emotions steady?
LYDIA KO: If I make a bogey or three‑putt on something like inside I'm like on fire. But it's not like you're going to play any better by slamming your club or getting angry. So might as well just keep it in. People say I'm pretty calm, but I do make mistakes and I do get angry, but I try and not show it.
Q. I don't know if you've been asked this already, but do you feel you've become more of a target the past couple of days with everybody kind of gunning for you here?
LYDIA KO: I don't know. They're professionals and at a higher level than me. Everyone's wanting to win. So at the moment, I may be, but I respect them so much and I look up to them so much. Hopefully, I'm not a big target.
Q. I know you're trying to stay in the moment, but this potentially could change a lot of things for you. Is this going to alter your future plans at all one way or the other?
LYDIA KO: Not really. I mean, as far as this, I don't think I'll turn pro early or anything. To me winning the U.S. Amateur is much more meaningful as an amateur to win that event rather than me winning ‑‑ I mean, it would be great to win this event especially against so many great players. But, yeah, who knows.
Q. In terms of this evening leading and going into the final round, how do you relax? How do you loosen up and stay loose? What are your plans?
LYDIA KO: I'm definitely going to do some putting practice. Yeah, hopefully, they'll drop tomorrow and you can't play perfect golf. And just going to do some practice, but don't overdo it. The sun is getting to them and it's hotter than any other day.
Yeah, I don't think any other amateurs made the cut, so I've got nothing to lose.
Q. Suzann Pettersen said yesterday, she's 15. She doesn't feel any pressure out here. Is that true? Do you feel pressure? What does it feel like?
LYDIA KO: You know, I think the biggest pressure is me being world number 1 amateur and people are expecting things. The next thing is just playing against the big names, it's really hard to keep up with them.
Yeah, pressure is one of the biggest things I try to handle. But it's not like I get a lot of pressure. It doesn't throw me off, yeah.
Q. Walking up 18, all the fans, everybody around, all the TV cameras and everything like that. There are more fans on 18 than you've seen previously here in the day. Does that contribute to the three‑putt?
LYDIA KO: No, I don't think so. I mean, I had putts, and I don't think any one of the players could two‑putt or one‑putt every single time. It's a long putt, especially with the pressure and everything.
I wasn't putting that great today, but I don't think I putted horrible either. Yeah, like the whole round I've never seen that much people come to watch our group, even when I was in the finals for the new South Wales Open there weren't as many people there. When I was coming down 18, it was like, wow, there are a lot of people.
Q. You seem pretty calm and collected. Very, very seldom does anything seem to bother you. What frustrates you or gets you upset?
LYDIA KO: I don't know. Like today all three of my bogeys are because I three‑putted. Except 7, the other two were over 15 meters. I think bogeys upset me. I think it's the same for everybody else as well. But it's not like we're ever going to have every single day a birdie or a par round. It just comes. It's not a perfect world. We can't hit it perfectly all the time.
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Stacy Lewis to the interview at the CN Canadian Women's Open. Great day for you out there, just a few shots off the lead. If you would, just talk about your day. Few early birdies and you got an eagle in there, and you said on the way over it was kind of an easy day of golf.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I finally got off to a good start which I hadn't done any of the previous days. So I got a couple under early and then played the par‑5s well on the back side. Made eagle on 10, and I had another eagle putt on 13. So it was really pretty solid. I had quite a few chances that I missed so a little frustrated with that, but definitely happy to be up in contention and giving myself a chance for tomorrow.
MODERATOR: You definitely took advantage of moving day, moved a few spots up the leaderboard. I think the media's getting used to seeing you in the interview room now. You've made 16 of 17 cut this is year. Ten Top 10s, two wins. Does it feel like you should be in this position right now?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I think so. It was strange for me. I struggled in Portland and didn't play well, and that was a place I hadn't been all year. So it kind of made me get more focused with my swing. I've been calling my instructor back and forth over the last week. I think my phone bill's going to be pretty high, but we've been calling back and forth and trying to figure out my swing.
I kind of found something yesterday, so I knew this day was coming. I'm glad it showed up today instead of tomorrow.
Q. What exactly helped you find your groove?
STACY LEWIS: I think my swing I was getting way out in front of it, and I wasn't hitting it very far. I don't know. I just kind of kept working on a few things and I just got more confidence. I still missed a few shots yesterday, but I saw some better shots, and that kind of gave me some confidence coming into today. I think, I really think the early start, making a couple putts early helped me a lot.
Q. You say you had another chance for an eagle and on 17 you had a good shot at a birdie putt. How far were those putts?
STACY LEWIS: 13, I had probably 20 feet for eagle and left it dead short right in the center, and kind of got caught up on the line and forgot about the speed. Then 17, I actually had 8 feet, I hit a good putt, but it just went right over the top edge. So a little less speed, a little less break, it would have gone in.
Q. You play in the tournament and everybody says putting is so important. Did that turn out to be the case?
STACY LEWIS: I think so. Another key is hitting it straight. Those last five holes, those last par fours, you have to hit the fairway, you have to hit the green. Then you still have to hit some pretty good putts to make par. So I think the last five holes are going to decide the tournament tomorrow.
Q. I'm wondering your take on this young girl Lydia Ko who is playing well. Is there any extra motivation for you professionals to make sure that she doesn't win? Is there any extra?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I think ‑‑ Suzann and I were talking about it yesterday, and it is kind of because we're working ‑‑ this is our job, and we're working full‑time on it. It's not supposed to be her job, and yet she's beating us. I think it's good for the game.
She's obviously playing well. She won an Australian LPGA event earlier in the year, and I played with her actually in Australia. She's solid. She hit it's good, she putts it good, and she's rolling with the confidence.
I say why not? She's playing good golf, and more power to her.
Q. Unofficially, Stacy, in 2007 you were an amateur when you won, so it's not recognized because that tournament was shortened. But you understand a bit of the mindset of what Lydia's going through if she carries the lead into Sunday. Can you talk about that?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, mine was a little different because it ended up just being one round. I didn't have four days to think about it. It will be interesting to see how she finishes out today and heading into tomorrow. Because that pressure, you start thinking about winning and you start seeing your name more at the top of the leaderboard, and it gets hard. It's hard for professionals. So she's only 14, maybe that helps her because she just gets out there and freezes up. She's got nothing to lose.
Q. What changes after a tournament like this for her or what changed for you in terms of expectations and that next step and the pressure that's come with making that decision to make the next step? What was that like for you?
STACY LEWIS: For me, I was in college at the time, and I just was going to finish school, so that wasn't really an issue for me. Knowing what she's going to go through the next couple of years, I'd love to see her stay Amateur as long as she can, but that's probably not going to happen as well as she's playing.
I don't know where she goes from here. She's won the U.S. Am, so what else do you do? We'll see what happens tomorrow.
Q. Can you tell us about the 10th hole and the eagle you got there?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, they moved the tee up about 25 yards, so the last two days, you could get there, but you had to hit it hard. So they moved the tee up and I had about 220 to the flag. I hit a little three‑wood in there 18, 20 feet and made a slider. It broke, probably three feet and went right in the center.
Q. As a follow‑up, you were runner‑up here last year, albeit at a different site. Have you thought about this tournament a lot and trying to win it?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, actually the last two tournaments I played in Canada I finished second. I've always been right up there or a shot back. I think I shot 66 in the final round last year. I seem to play well in Canada, so I like coming back here and hopefully I can keep that momentum going into tomorrow.
Q. You touched on the finish and how challenging it is. I guess the early part of the back nine is where you have to make your birdies and then it's unusual to finish with the pretty strong par‑5s?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, it is. I've never played a course that has that many par‑4s to finish. You've got 10 and 13, and can you make some birdies there. Then 14 on in, you've got to hit fairways and hit your shots. You make a birdie, great. But if you make all four, I think you'll be up near the top of the leaderboard at the end of the week.
Q. Seems like you're the one that made the charge today. Some of the other stars that we expect to be up there are bouncing back and forth. Any reason for that, a weather change?
STACY LEWIS: I don't know. I think it's just golf. I think some days, Yani had a good round the first round, and Chella Choi played a good round yesterday. So it's the kind of course if you get some birdies early and kind of get rolling on the par‑5s, you can shoot a good number. If you don't, you'll be struggling for pars. I mean, it's a course that you can play well and shoot 1 or 2‑under. So it's just kind of the way the course plays, I think.
Q. Jiyai, nice round today. You shot 69. You're in the hunt. Tell us about how you played?
JIYAI SHIN: Well, actually, every day my goal was just to make a couple of birdies, because the last couple of days I hit at 2‑under, 2‑under. So I'm really happy with this course. It's really tough.
So until today, I made just one bogey. I think that is the really good thing about this golf course. My shot and my putting, the tempo is really good at the moment, so I just keep it for tomorrow also.
Q. What is the plan for tomorrow?
JIYAI SHIN: Well, actually, this golf course most important thing is patience. So I just keep focusing by myself and be patient.
Q. You've had a few injuries. How are you feeling?
JIYAI SHIN: It isn't a hundred percent, but I think it's good enough. In Vancouver there is a really big Korean population here, so a lot of Korean gallery, lot of Korean fans come out to cheer us, so I really play with a lot of fans.
Q. Eating well this week?
JIYAI SHIN: Of course. Yeah, lot of good Korean restaurants, lot of good Asian restaurants, and even this tournament, the hospitality is great every year. I really enjoy it here.
Q. What enabled you to make such a big move today after your first couple of rounds?
JIYAI SHIN: Well, I don't know. I'm just enjoying this tournament always. I don't know why, but when I play this tournament, I always get finished, so it makes me have confident. Also today this morning it feels like the weather is going to be good, so it helps my score.
Q. Lydia still has the lead with a couple of holes to play on day three. Are you a little surprised at that, that a 15‑year‑old can hold it together that long?
JIYAI SHIN: Yes, it's true. Because just like it's already Sunday, but I have one more day, and then hopefully I can keep good weather like this and a lot of gallery ask fans come to watch us.
Q. Lydia has the lead with only two holes to play on day three. Are you a little surprised that she has kept it together this long against such a strong field because she's so young?
JIYAI SHIN: Well, I think it's good for her because I'm 24 years old, but I'm still young I feel like. But I know she's really young. It's good for her and good experience for her for her future. This is a really big tournament, lot of great players come and play all together, so I think it will be good experience for her.
CHELLA CHOI: I missed the second shot, just one, number 15. The shot is normally good. But my putting, every putt is short, so I tried my speed, but short, short, short, so hopefully tomorrow my speed is better than today.
Q. You came out today. It's your 22nd birthday. Did you feel any different? Did you feel older?
CHELLA CHOI: Yeah, I'm very tired (laughing). Just one day, right? I'm happy it's my birthday. I'm very happy today. I like today, and my first day is good, my conditions are perfect. But just putting. I think yesterday I made a lot of birdies, so hopefully tomorrow is better.
Q. Is it hard to come back? You shot 64 yesterday, to come back the next day and play well again.
CHELLA CHOI: Hopefully. My condition is really good and my driving and my second shot is perfect. So just I don't make the putt, so just putting, so hopefully better tomorrow.
Q. So tomorrow, just one shot back?
CHELLA CHOI: Uh‑huh.
Q. Just tell me how you feel about trying to get a win.
CHELLA CHOI: I think my shot is perfect, so I try to make the birdie putt, and the speed is better than today. Today is really good but every putt is short. Just two or three or more. So hopefully ‑‑ I think it's better than being the leader. I think to follow is better, so I'll play better.
Q. Tomorrow looks like it could be obviously a really interesting day with such a lot at the top of the leaderboard. You tied it one shot behind the leader, and a tough four or five holes coming back in makes for an exciting day, doesn't it?
CHELLA CHOI: Actually, I like not to be the leader. Just following is better than being the leader.
Q. What do you think about the last four holes coming in? Are they hard?
CHELLA CHOI: My first is really good, so I tried birdies. Second shot was number 15, so I tried pin position was the right side. It's four yards. I tried just a little bit left to right and aimed one yard left, but I hooked it.
Just trying to make par is easy, but I want to make birdies. So I missed the shot left, so I made bogey. So I'll try my best tomorrow.
Q. You shot 70 today, 7‑under overall. You're in the hunt. Just talk about your day?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, the front nine was really disappointing for me because I left a lot of putts out there and missed a lot of short putts on the front nine. But I'm really happy the way I played the back nine. I played solid on the back nine and able to hole some putts on the back nine.
I'm happy with the way I finished today, and hopefully I'll go out there tomorrow and shoot a low number and see what happens.
Q. You were very young when you started to win. We've got a leader who is 15 years old right now. Just some thoughts on what it would be like to be in that position, and if you're surprised to see her there?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I heard she was a really good player and some of these young amateurs can play golf. It's not a big surprise, but I would be nervous if I was her. So we'll see tomorrow.
Q. Tomorrow you've got 18 holes left and two shots back. What is your strategy for tomorrow?
INBEE PARK: I mean, these greens are really tricky to read, especially the front nine is really tough. So I try to hit some good putts on the front nine and give myself a lot of opportunities on the back nine, hopefully, that will be enough.
Q. Do you think the more players there are putting pressure on her going into the final round, do you think that could help you catch her?
INBEE PARK: I don't think it really matters how many people are tied or in the hunt. Tomorrow's going to be a shootout tomorrow because there are a lot of people in contention, and tough play good tomorrow to win.