Safeway Classic Final Round Notes and Interviews

Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Mika Miyazato of Japan celebrates with fans on the 18th hole after her 13 under par victory during the final round of the Safeway Classic at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club on August 19, 2012 in North Plains, Oregon.

Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola
Pumpkin Ridge Golf Course, Ghost Creek Golf Course
North Plains, Oregon
August 20, 2012
Final-round Notes and Interviews

Mika Miyazato -13, Rolex Rankings No. 19
Brittany Lincicome -11, Rolex Rankings No. 18
Haeji Kang -10, Rolex Rankings No. 93
Michelle Wie -8, Rolex Rankings No. 45
Yani Tseng -6, Rolex Rankings No. 1

 

Four-Year LPGA Tour veteran Mika Miyazato became the sixth Rolex First-Time Winner of the season at the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola.  Despite a lot of movement in the leaderboard on the Ghost Creek Course at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, Miyazato fired rounds of 65-68-70 to capture a 2-stroke win over Brittany Lincicome and Inbee Park.

The 22-year-old entered the final round leading by two-strokes over So Yeon Ryu and held on to her lead posting three birdies and one bogey for the round. Miyazato, who notches her fourth top-5 finish in the last seven events, earned a $225,000 first place check.

Fellow Japanese players Ai Miyazato and Momoko Ueda joined Miyazato on the 18th green after sinking her putt for par to secure the win. With tears in her eyes, Miyazato celebrated her first win in her79th start on the LPGA Tour.

“It's my dream to play and win on the LPGA Tour,” Miyazato said. “It was very fulfilling for me to be able to win along with the very famous Ai Miyazato and Ayako Okamoto.”

Miyazato had been on a hot streak for the last seven events, placing in the top-10 in six of them including back-to-back runner up finishes at the Wegmans LPGA Championship and the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G. 

“Like everybody say ‘you're very close to the win’, but I don't think about the win, because more pressure on me,” Miyazato said. “So it's couple like six, seven events I played and like more confidence in my golf game. So I think I need to get a chance, so maybe this week I got more confidence in my golf game.  So that's why I played well.”

Miyazato becomes the sixth Rolex First-Time Winner of the season, joining Jessica Korda, Azahara Munoz, Shanshan Feng, Brittany Lang and So Yeon Ryu.

 

Just in time… With the CN Canadian Women’s Open next weekend, it was no better time for defending champ Brittany Lincicome to make a huge stride in her game this week. She entered the final round five-strokes behind the lead but tallied five birdies and no bogeys en route to a tie for second along with Inbee Park.

Although she ranks second on Tour in average driving distance with 278 yards, she says what kept her going today was her success on the greens.

It was pretty much putting,” Lincicome said. “I had a lot of eight-footers to save par.  I was getting up-and-down from everywhere.  I was making everything.  So it was not one shot here or there, it was just the putter kind of saving me hole after hole after hole.  Keeping me in contention which was nice.”

A five-time winner and seven-year veteran on Tour, Lincicome has three additional top-10 finishes this season with a tie for second at the season opener in Australia, a solo ninth at the Kia Classic and tie for fourth at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic. 

 

The product of positive thinking… With a weekend of chip-ins and sinking putts, Michelle Wie put together a 69-70-69 score to notch her first top-10 finish since the 2011 CME Titleholder Championship. Just one week after missing her seventh cut this season, Wie turned her game around and felt content with an eighth place finish.

“I felt like I won after I made that putt on the last hole,” Wie said. “But I have to say, it feels good to get on the leaderboard and see my name up there consistently this week.  It was a lot of fun. I have a lot of positives to take from this week to next week.  I'm very excited to go to Canada and do it all over again.”

 

Feels like home… For the first time since early June, Yani Tseng found her name on the leaderboard again as she fired a second round score of 67, putting her at a tie for fifth heading into the final round. After two months of missed cuts and high finishes, Tseng found herself in a place that felt like home earlier this season.

Tseng managed to hang around the top-10 in Sunday’s round but fell behind after a double-bogey on 11 followed by two bogeys on 12 and 13. A final round score of 73 put her just one spot off the top-10 with a solo 11th place finish.

“I was nervous,” Tseng said of her final round. “I was like, ‘geez, I haven't been here for a long time.’  Like yesterday, my tee time was 1:40.  I was like ‘wow, that's late.  How should I organize my time?’

“It's been a long time.  So I feel really excited.  It's good to be on top and see your name on the leaderboard again.  It's so difficult.  I feel like in these two months all the things have paid off.  I'm learning a lot from the mistakes and learn as you go, keep having fun and enjoy golf.  I feel like I hit so many good shots this week.  I just feel like I'm really enjoying every shot I hit.”

 

Golden ticket winners: Haeji Kang, Syndee Michaels and Michelle Wie punched their "Ticket to CME Group Titleholders" at the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola, 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.

 

Miyazato is going to Canyon Ranch. With her victory at the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola, Mika Miyazato earned an all-inclusive stay for two at a Canyon Ranch resort. In a combined effort to promote health and overall well-being among Tour players, Canyon Ranch will provide every winner of an LPGA event with one all-inclusive stay at one of Canyon Ranch's two destination resorts.

Tweet of the Day: “I can't wait to come back to Portland for @SafewayClassic next war. Thank you for the crowds, volunteers & the staff you guys were great!” -- @BelenMozo

 

Of Note… Haeji Kang carded a career-low 66 and career best finish tie for fourth… Mika Miyazato becomes the 11th player from Japan to win on the LPGA Tour… Brittany Lincicome posted a season best final round score of 67.

 

Mika Miyazato, Rolex Rankings No. 19

MODERATOR:  We'd like to welcome the 2012 Safeway Classic Champion, Mika Miyazato into the interview room.  Congratulations, first win of your LPGA career.  You become the sixth Rolex first-time winner so far this season, joining a bunch of other players who have been fortunate enough to capture that first win. First off, tell me what was that experience like on 18 as Ai and Momoko came down and helped you celebrate this first win?

MIKA MIYAZATO:  I saw before the chip in Ai and Momoko, and I'm so much nervous.  But I tried to focus on my game, and then I chipped in very well.  I got to two or three inches.  So overall, I played so much well.

And the back nine I was so much nervous because I don't know, maybe pressure, but I feel so very good right now.

MODERATOR:  I saw tears coming down your face as you walked off and hugged everybody.  How emotional.  This is your fourth year on Tour, and you've been close a number of times before.  But to finally capture that win, it had to have been emotional for you.

MIKA MIYAZATO:  Like everybody say you're very close to the win, but I don't think the win, win because more pressure on me.  So it's couple like six, seven events I played and like more confidence in my golf game.

So I think I need to get a chance, so maybe this week I got more confidence in my golf game.  So that's why I played well.

MODERATOR:  You're the third player from Japan to win this event, joining Ai Miyazato and Ayako Okamoto, joining pretty prestigious Japanese players in winning this event.  What's it mean to you to join those two and be linked to them here at this event?

MIKA MIYAZATO:  It's my dream to play and win on the LPGA Tour.  It was very fulfilling for me to be able to win along with the very famous Ai Miyazato and Ayako Okamoto.

MODERATOR:  As you said, the nerves on the back nine kind of came into play.  But how did you keep yourself steady to stay up there and carry it through until the end?

MIKA MIYAZATO:  My inside heart like so much --

MODERATOR:  Beating?

MIKA MIYAZATO:  (Laughing)  But my caddie was very helpful.  I focused on one shot at a time, so that's why I was more focused on my golf game.

Q.  You had a share of the lead all three rounds.  How hard was it to win?  Was that tough to have to keep up and being up at the top of the leaderboard all three round rounds?

MIKA MIYAZATO:  I'm not too much thinking of the result.  I tried not to think of being the leader the whole time.  I just concentrated on playing well.

Q.  I know we talked a lot about this this week.  But you've been playing so well coming into the week.  You've had so many Top 10 finishes.  Did you gain a lot of confidence, and I guess, experience of being up there in contention having been so close so many times in these recent events?

MIKA MIYAZATO:  Yeah, my golf game is getting better.  Like my short game.  At the beginning of the season, my short game was no good.     

So I got more practice in the short game and more confidence now so I can do it.  So I believe in myself.

Q.  Your shot on 17, was what were you trying to do?  Did you know where you were?

MIKA MIYAZATO:  On number 17?  Yeah, I think that was after the 16, but always of the tee boxes moved on Sunday.  So I practiced in the practice round, so I know the situation is much more comfortable.

Q. 

MIKA MIYAZATO:  After the 10th hole I was so disappointed in my chipping shot, so I'm so much a little bit angry with myself.  But the 11th tee shot I went to the right side.  I thought like the water hazard.  Then it's maybe lucky today for me.  So I tried to make par, but, again, chip in shot was like a missed shot about 25 feet.  So I made the par, so lucky.

Q.  What were you thinking about when you had those long waits on 17 and 18?  What was going through your head as you had to sit there and wait so long to hit your shot?

MIKA MIYAZATO:  I'm not much thinking, but I tried more straight, and tried -- I just wanted to make sure because it was only the last two holes that I wasn't going to make any errors.  And that's what I was concentrating on, to not make any errors.

 

Brittany Lincicome, Rolex Rankings No. 18

Q. We're here with Brittany Lincicome, congratulations, a great 5-under round putting yourself right back up there.  Kind of anxious waiting to see how the leaders play out?

BRITTANY LINCICOME:  Yeah, I'm not sure what to do exactly.  I had a great finish.  They're coming in.  I started slow again today.  I don't know why I'm getting off to such slow starts.  If I made a couple of birdies, it would be greater. I had a great time with Han, and I made a lot of putts today.  It was nice to see the putter working.

Q.  That back nine you got things going.  What was the biggest key, and what got you going on that birdie on the back?

BRITTANY LINCICOME:  It was pretty much putting.  I had a lot of eight-footers to save par.  I was getting up-and-down from everywhere.  I was making everything.  So it was not one shot here or there, it was just the putter kind of saving me hole after hole after hole.  Keeping me in contention which was nice.

Q.  You talked about earlier in the week, 54 holes are kind of your thing.  Did you seem to like this event?

BRITTANY LINCICOME:  Absolutely.  I could dread thinking about tomorrow.  Hopefully we're moving on and we'll see what happens.

Q.  Next week, you're defending champion?  How nice is it when you go back to events like that?  What is the feeling like when you go back as defending champion?

BRITTANY LINCICOME:  It's a little different.  Obviously, a different golf course this year.  I feel like I'm playing well.  I played well this week.  Hopefully we can keep it going.  I never defended and won that event the following year.  So that would be really cool.

 

Haeji Kang, Rolex Rankings No. 93

MODERATOR:  We're here with Haeji Kang.  Congratulations, a great round 6-under par today puts yourself right up there near the top of the leaderboard.  Take me through the day and what was working well for you out there?

HAEJI KANG:  I was hitting my drives perfectly and especially my irons were great, so I hit it close enough to get a lot of many chances out there.  Obviously, my putter worked great, so it was my day.

Q.  I know a little bit of a rough hiccup on 17, but then you came back on 18 with the birdie.  How important was it for you to finish strongly like that?

HAEJI KANG:  Yeah, after the 17th hole, I was a little frustrated because it was a very bad decision from the tee box.  So there is nothing I can do about it, it just happens. So I tried to stay in the moment and get back into the game, and I did it.

Q.  Are you a leaderboard watcher?  Were you watching yourself creeping up toward the leaders throughout the day?

HAEJI KANG:  Yes, I have.  I was.

Q.  How do you feel about what's going to play out, and how you'll spend the next few minutes waiting for the leaders to finish up?

HAEJI KANG:  I'm going to enjoy myself.  I had a great week this week.  I just want to enjoy this moment.

Q.  What is your second shot on 17, were you just trying to go at the flag?

HAEJI KANG:  No, I was actually trying to roll it to the bunker and play the bunker shot as a safe shot, but I hit it too hard, so it went over the green.

Q.  Your first round you had kind of a crazy first round.  You made a triple bogey, three bogeys, and a bunch of birdies.  Was it tough to stay in the tournament while you were doing all that crazy stuff?

HAEJI KANG:  Yeah, on the first day, I hit it great.  It was just the one shot that got me a triple bogey.  But I've got to deal with it.  It's golf.  Anything can happen, so I just stayed in there.

Q.  Last year Suzann Pettersen came from nine shot back to win this tournament in the playoffs.  When you entered today, did you have a score in mind of what you had to shoot to get back into it?

HAEJI KANG:  I was planning to get to 10-under, but that didn't work.  I came close enough, so I'm really happy with my round today.

 

Michelle Wie, Rolex Rankings No. 45

Q. Congratulations, great round today, a great performance.  First Top 10 of the season.  Just take me through this week and how much this felt like your game was back?

MICHELLE WIE:  Oh, I felt like I won after I made that putt on the last hole.  But I have to say, it feels good to get on the leaderboard and see my name up there consistently this week.  It was a lot of fun.

I have a lot of positives to take from this week to next week.  I'm very excited to go to Canada and do it all over again.

Q.  What were the biggest positives you took out of your game this week?  What felt like it came around for you?

MICHELLE WIE:  I took advantage of the par-5s.  Just two eagles this week.  I have to say it's more eagles than I've made over the last two years.

But it was fun out there today.  I was aggressive.  I talked to David yesterday, and just being aggressive out there again and not really caring about the results as much.  It was a lot more fun.

Q.  You said next week Canada, a place where you've won the event before.  I know it's a different golf course, but the feelings when you go back to a tournament that you've won, what is that feeling like?

MICHELLE WIE:  It's great when you go back as defending champion.  It's really fun.  I've never been to Vancouver before.  I'm very excited.  I've heard the best about it, so I'm very excited.

Q.  Everybody saw the blonde hair.  What was the change and what prompted you to make a little switch in the hair?

MICHELLE WIE:  I don't know.  I get crazy with my hair sometimes.  I don't know, it happened last week.  I might go more blonde, I may not.  But I don't know.

Q.  It looks like the blonde's working out pretty well.

MICHELLE WIE:  Thanks.

 

Yani Tseng, Rolex Rankings No. 1

Q. I know not quite the finish you were hoping for, but right now currently in 11th.  Best finish for you in a little bit of time.

YANI TSENG:  Thank you.  It's so much better.  I fought hard.  I mean, I made birdie on 15, 16, and I had a little weird on number 9, and number 12 and 13, I hit into the water.

This course goes straight, so I hit it in there like three or four times this week.  So hopefully next year I'll come back and I can play better.

I feel good.  I feel like I can really start next week.  My golf game was right there.  It's incredible.  I'm really appreciative finishing 11th.  I've never had that feeling of how much I was excited shooting 5-under yesterday.  It's been a long time, so I really appreciate it, and I'm back.  I mean, next week I can go there and win the tournament.

Q.  Early on in the day you found yourself near the top of the leaderboard and back in contention.  What was that feeling like?

YANI TSENG:  I was nervous.  I was like, geez, I haven't been here for a long time.  Like yesterday, my tee time was 1:40.  I was like wow, that's late.  How should I organize my time?

It's been a long time.  So I feel really excited.  It's good to be on top and see your name on the leaderboard again.  It's so difficult.  I feel like in these two months all the things have paid off.  I'm learning a lot from the mistakes and learn as you go, keep having fun and enjoy golf.  I feel like I hit so many good shots this week.  I just feel like I'm really enjoying every shot I hit.

Q.  You talked about that stretch from 9 to 12 where you hit into some creeks and had some trouble.  What do you think was the cause of that?  Was it mental?

YANI TSENG:  It was just one shot.  On number 11, I hit one bad shot and hit it in the creek.  I saved a good chip there.  I just missed a four-footer and misread it.  I hit so many good shots.  It just didn't come out the way I wanted it.

On number 12, I hit a good drive, a good second shot.  The ball was just right over the bunker.  I made a good chip.  It just didn't go in.  It's just something that happens.  Hit a good shot, but just didn't score.

I'm happy that I fought back with two birdies in a row.  It was a long way on number 17, but I'm happy.

Topics: Notes and Interviews, Miyazato, Mika, Portland Classic

Andrews Sports MedicineArpin Van LinesFloridas NaturalMedjet AssistMichelob ULTRAPrudentialSmuckers