Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola
Pumpkin Ridge Golf Course, Ghost Creek Golf Course
North Plains, Oregon
August 17, 2012
First-round Notes and Interviews
Sydnee Michaels -7, Rolex Rankings No. 260
Mika Miyazato -7, Rolex Rankings No. 19
Cristie Kerr -6, Rolex Rankings No. 9
So Yeon Ryu -5, Rolex Rankings No. 12
Brittany Lincicome -5, Rolex Rankings No. 18
Michelle Wie -3, Rolex Rankings No. 45
LPGA Tour rookie Sydnee Michaels (@SydneeMichaels) and Mika Miyazato (@mikachin1010) share the lead at 7-under-par after the first round of the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola (@SafewayClassic). Michaels and Miyazato both shot rounds of 65 on the Ghost Creek Golf Course at Pumpkin Ridge to take a one-shot lead over 2008 Safeway Classic champion Cristie Kerr (@
CKGolferChic), Thailand native Pornanong Phatlum and recent Evian Masters winner, Inbee Park.
Michaels and Miyazato each tallied eight birdies and one bogey in their rounds on Friday. Miyazato birdied the difficult 18th hole to move into a tie for the lead with Michaels, who had set the score to beat early in the day as she teed off in Friday’s first group.
Building off her experience…Rookie Sydnee Michaels is still getting accustomed to being near the top of the leaderboard on the LPGA Tour, but she does have an understanding of what it takes to win.
Michaels won twice on the Symetra Tour last year, en route to finishing fourth in the Race for the Card which earned her full membership on the LPGA Tour in 2012. But it took some time for her to get into a groove last year with both of those victories coming toward the end of the season. Her hope is that the same thing will happen in her rookie season on the LPGA as well.
For Michaels, who is the youngest of 8 children in her family, the round of 65 on Friday was her career-best. Her strong performance comes a week after tallying the best finish of her rookie season last week, a T21 at the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic Presented by Kroger, Owens Corning, and O-I.
“It's been hit or miss,” Michaels said of her rookie season. “I'll be in contention and I might have a little shaky Sunday, and wind up top 30 or something like that or I'll miss the cut by one or two. I definitely feel that every week I learn something, and I'm hoping I'll start to hit my stride here towards the end of the season. Last year I hit my stride at the end of the season, so I'm kind of hoping I follow that pattern.
Playing in Portland certainly is a comfortable feeling for Michaels, who grew up on the West Coast just outside of Los Angeles, Calif. She is no stranger to this event either, having twice earned a spot in the field as an amateur. Both of those appearances came before the tournament moved to Pumpkin Ridge in 2009 but Michaels said that experience has really helped this week.
“It's an awesome opportunity for an amateur to be able to play in an LPGA event,” Michaels said. “ I was fortunate enough to play in eight or nine professional events before I turned pro, and any kind of experience helps you. So it's great to be back. It's awesome to be here, playing as an LPGA player.”
Getting closer to that win: There have been five Rolex First-Time Winners on the LPGA Tour so far this season and that number could soon be growing. Mika Miyazato, who is in her fourth year on the LPGA Tour, has been making a strong push in recent weeks to capture her first LPGA victory and she is tied for the lead after the first round of the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola.
Miyazato’s strong opening round of 65 was a continuance of her solid play over the last three months. She has tallied five top-10 finishes in her past six events and has finished no worse than T16 over that stretch. The Okinawa, Japan native even recorded back-to-back, runner-up finishes at the Wegmans LPGA Championship and the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G in June.
“My golf game is very confident right now,” Miyazato said. “But to begin the season I was not so very good with my golf game. I started to shoot right in a couple four or five events, ShopRite and Wegmans. So I'm gaining more confidence in my golf game.”
Miyazato credited her putting as the key to her success on Friday. She needed 29 putts to get around the course while hitting 17 of 18 greens in regulation. It was a very solid round, particularly since she was in the afternoon wave when scorching temperatures made the greens firmer and more difficult to hold.
Relaxed, and ready to go… Cristie Kerr’s two-year winning drought probably seems particularly long after having tallied seven straight seasons with at least one win. It’s been a season of ups and downs for the 16-year veteran on Tour, tallying only three top-10s and her first missed cut since the 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic. But on a hot, Friday morning she fired a 6-under 66 to put her one-stroke behind the lead; her lowest score since the third round of the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup.
Kerr believes a low score in the first round will be integral to finishing well this weekend in the 54-hole event.
“It is key,” Kerr said. “You have to have a low round in a three‑day tournament. It's nice to get it out of the way. You've got to go out there tomorrow and make believe it's the first day of the tournament and try to get a low one again.”
Following the Evian Masters Presented by Societe Generale, the wine connoisseur took a nine-day vacation and traveled through Italy for both business and pleasure.
“We went to Tuscany and went around to the different wineries,” Kerr said. “Went to Ornellaia, and not only a fun vacation, but research for me because of the wine business. We had a lot of fun as a group.
“Came back, and I felt like I was ready to start practicing, getting ready for this week. I love Portland. I love the city and the weather and all the golf courses here. So this is an enjoyable week for me. I feel more relaxed and comfortable and ready to play golf.”
Loving the format: Brittany Lincicome (@Brittany1golf) never played on the Symetra Tour, as she qualified for the LPGA Tour on her first attempt back in December of 2004.But the five-time LPGA Tour winner joked on Friday that she may have really enjoyed that Tour due to all of the 54-hole events, like they are playing at this week’s Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola.
“I like tournaments that start on Friday,” Lincicome said. “It's one less day that I have to concentrate for. Obviously if you've won a four‑day tournament, you've beaten the best players and you've gone through four days. But I feel like I would have done really good on the Symetra Tour. I can't concentrate more than three days, I guess. laug.”
Lincicome has certainly had her fair share of success in both 54-hole and 72-hole events on the LPGA Tour. And she found herself just two shots off the lead after the first round of this week’s tournament, where a strong start is particularly important due to the shortened nature of the event. A big part of her success was her ability to take advantage of the par-5s, as she went 4-under on those which included an eagle on the ninth.
“I started out slow and wasn't making a lot of birdies and just kind of going through the motions,” Lincicome said. “You get to those holes 8, 9, 10 and it's like, okay, I have legit chances to make birdies and maybe even eagle on 9. If you go through those holes and you par all three of them, you're like I'm three strokes behind the field already. So it's one of those where you're going into the holes with a little more pressure on you because you know you need to birdie at least one, if not two or three of those holes to keep up with the lead.”
Sharing in their struggles… Michelle Wie (@TheMichelleWie) and Yani Tseng seem to be experiencing the same struggles as of late. As Wie tallied her seventh missed cut of the season last week while Tseng missed her third cut in the past four events, the two decided to play a commiseration round in Toledo and reflect on their season so far.
Whatever was discussed during that round supplied both of them with encouragement, as both finished under-par on Friday as Wie shot a 3-under 69 while Tseng shot a 2-under 70. They both agree that positivity will help get through their winless drought.
“It's just one week it seems so easy and another week, or another year, for me everything seems so difficult,” Wie said. “But I've got to stay positive. Nothing good will come out of it if you keep beating yourself up. The game is hard enough as it is without me doing that to myself. I'm just trying to stay positive after every round, looking at the positives and feeling good about each week and really trying not to doubt my game, because I know I have it.”
Of Note…Last week’s winner, So Yeon Ryu, followed up her first LPGA victory with another solid round. Ryu shot a 5-under 67 to put herself in a T6 after the first round at the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola. Mariajo Uribe (@MariaJoUribe) aced the par-3 third hole in Friday’s first round. Uribe holed out from 155 yards with a 7-iron. It’s her second career hole-in-one on the LPGA Tour…Jeong Jang withdrew during Friday’s first round, citing a sore right wrist… Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng came close in Friday’s first round to breaking 70, which she hasn’t done since June 2. Tseng was 3-under thru 16 but bogeyed the 17th to finish with a 2-under 70 in the opening round
THE MODERATOR: I'd like to welcome our current leader Sydnee Michaels into the interview room. You birdied the first four holes today. And you're one of the first four players to get off to a hot start. You also carded career low 65. I understand you have some family here, and you're from the west coast as well, so tell us how that felt today?
SYDNEE MICHAELS: I definitely picked a good day to play well. My family's here and my boyfriend's here, so that's nice to play well in front of all of them. It feels great to be on the west coast. I'm a California girl, so it definitely feels great to be over here. I definitely got off to a great start, so I kind of went with it, and was like, okay, I'll just enjoy the ride and keep going.
THE MODERATOR: I understand you're one of eight children, the youngest of eight. So tell me how it feels to have family out here watching you today and what's it like?
SYDNEE MICHAELS: It feels great. My family's been really supportive of me, and it's so good to have them out here with me and being able to watch me. We're on the road a lot and on my own a lot, so it feels so good to have some family here and they get to watch me play, so it feels great.
THE MODERATOR: Did they have any influence in you taking golf up as your career?
SYDNEE MICHAELS: No, nobody in my family plays, not even my parents. No one plays golf. I don't even think they really know what's going on, so they're just clapping when everyone else is clapping. But they love and support me. That's all I could ask for.
THE MODERATOR: You played on the Symetra Tour last year. You notched two victories and finished fourth in the race for the card. How did that experience help you in your rookie season?
SYDNEE MICHAELS: It's really helped me a lot. Playing professional golf full‑time is a lot different from amateur and junior golf. We're out here week after week and making your own travel arrangements and dealing with travel problems, cancelled flights, whatever it is, and learning a new course every week for me as a rookie.
But it definitely prepared me. I got to learn how to grind, I learned how to travel, I learned how to win, and learned how to play on a professional scale.
THE MODERATOR: You won the Amateur Cup twice here in Oregon. Tell us about those experiences and what it's like to be back here?
SYDNEE MICHAELS: Oh, those were great. It's an awesome opportunity for an amateur to be able to play in an LPGA event. I was fortunate enough to play in eight or nine professional events before I turned pro, and any kind of experience helps you.
So it's great to be back. It's awesome to be here, playing as an LPGA player. I was like on part of the schedule as opposed to just being here for the week. So there's definitely some familiarity with that.
SYDNEE MICHAELS: It's been hit or miss, I should say. I'll be in contention and I might have a little shaky Sunday, and wind up top 30 or something like that or I'll miss the cut by one or two. I definitely feel that every week I learn something, and I'm hoping I'll start to hit my stride here towards the end of the season. Last year I hit my stride at the end of the season, so I'm kind of hoping I follow that pattern.Q. Were you aware you were leading?
SYDNEE MICHAELS: Yeah, I figured. I'm not a leaderboard watcher. So I try not to watch the leaderboard, but you can pretty much put two and two together, you're leading. You have all the photographers and the cameras coming out, so, yeah.Q. Your second shot on your final hole here, was that a no‑brainer that you're going to try to hit the green in two or did you think about it?
SYDNEE MICHAELS: I thought about it. I thought I had 205 yards to the front, which is pretty much a stock hybrid for me. There is water all on the left. So I was really trying to go right side of the green, maybe a little more to the right of it. But it turned out okay. I knew I hit it good and I knew I could carry the water there. And my caddie's like good, good. And I was like, good, good.Q. You had the early tee time today. Do you think that will turn out to be an advantage of avoiding the heat? And wind?
SYDNEE MICHAELS: Yeah, absolutely. There are different conditions this morning and afternoon every week. So sometimes I prefer to play in the afternoon. This morning was very early, but it's very hot today. So I was kind of happy that we got that first tee time, so we're done, out of the heat. We got to play a really quick front nine. So sure, I guess it could have worked to my advantage.Q. I wondered if you could talk about the first four holes and what happened on the first four holes?
SYDNEE MICHAELS: I hit some great shots. I started on number 10, so my first hole was a par‑5, so I hit a good little pitch up there about eight feet, made a good putt. Second hole, par‑3, I hit a 5‑iron, I had a little left to right slider about another probably ten‑footer, hit a great putt. Third hole, put it to about three feet, made that.
Fourth hole, I chipped in, so that was nice. So I'm pretty much from there out it was just okay, you know, we've got it going today. Let's just enjoy the ride.
Mika Miyazato, Rolex Rankings No. 19
MODERATOR: A great round of 7‑under ties you for the lead. What was really working well for you today?
MIKA MIYAZATO: I had a very good putting. I got 27 putts today. And the short game was very, very good also, so I had so much good today.
Q. This golf course can set up for some low scores, especially when you're playing 8, 9, and 10, three par‑5s in a row. What was the biggest key in terms of taking advantage of the golf course?
MIKA MIYAZATO: I think it's more important short game on this golf course. Like I played this afternoon but the greens were hard and had more speed, very quick.
Like the back nine's very quick, so very different from the front nine to the back nine.
Q. You've been having a pretty good season so far and putting yourself in contention. Are you feeling more comfortable now when you're getting yourself up there at the top of the leaderboard?
MIKA MIYAZATO: My golf game is very confident right now. I don't know. But to begin the season I was not so very good with my golf game. I started to shoot right in a couple four or five events, ShopRite and Wegmans. So I'm gaining more confidence in my golf game.
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Cristie Kerr into the interview room. Congratulations. A great 6‑under 66 today. I know it's a very comfortable golf course for you. Can you take me through your day out there and what was really working well for you?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, I played really well. It's probably the best opening round I've had all year. I just got off to a good start. I birdied the first two holes and birdied the 13th hole. I started on the back. It's 3‑under after 4, and just played the tough holes really well on the end part of the back. I could have made more, but that's how it is in golf. On the back nine, I was able to birdie the 4th hole and get on a roll again.
I birdied four of my last six holes. So, you know, I kind of kept the momentum going throughout the round and hit the tough shots well when I needed to, and I made a lot of putts today. That was good.
THE MODERATOR: You started on the tougher nine really, and to be able to get off to such a good start, did you feel you had a bonus from the get‑go to get birdies early on those holes.
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, I think so. The pin on 10 was tough. You had to wedge it into that pin, it was way back right. You had to be pretty precise, and a great birdie there. And I made a long putt on 11.
On the 12 hole, I hit a long bunker shot and got up‑and‑down there. So I was feeling this was going to be my day. I just played really solid.
THE MODERATOR: You said best first round for you so far this year. A 54‑hole event, how much more key is it to get off to a hot start?
CRISTIE KERR: It is key. You have to have a low round in a three‑day tournament. It's nice to get it out of the way. You've got to go out there tomorrow and make believe it's the first day of the tournament and try to get a low one again.
Q. Can you talk a little about your year and how it's going? It's been a while since you've won, and we always sort of expect it out of you. Can you talk about how that's been for you?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, it's been tough. Last year I had so many good tournaments and didn't get a win. This year I played some great golf but had some inconsistencies. I feel like I am ready to win again, but I've got to do first things first and get two more solid rounds.
You know, I've worked really hard. I just came back from vacation in Italy, so I feel refreshed a couple weeks ago. Didn't play last week. I feel more relaxed and comfortable and ready to play golf.
CRISTIE KERR: I think I took nine days off. Well, I'm not as young as I used to be. I have my elbow I've got to worry about now, and little injuries and I'll take a little more time off for when I can manage it. You know, just little nagging things. Not anything major. I just kind of wanted to go.
I went with a group of friends and it was great. We went to Tuscany and went around to the different wineries. Went to Ornellaia, and not only a fun vacation, but research for me because of the wine business. We had a lot of fun as a group.
Came back, and I felt like I was ready to start practicing, getting ready for this week. I love Portland. I love the city and the weather and all the golf courses here. So this is an enjoyable week for me.
Q. Great round, 5‑under par today. I know not the finish you would have wanted there, but overall, what was really working well for you?
SO YEON RYU: Actually, after winning and then it's really hard to concentrate on the game again, but I think today I played really well. But anyway, the front nine, I really struggled with the tee shots.
But hole 9 I made the eagle, and then maybe my condition was getting better, getting better. I think that hole 9 might be my lucky hole, actually. Even in the last tournament I made a birdie at hole 9 and then I started out really great and then today again.
Today the weather is so hot, so actually before I started the round, I was thinking about I'll just calm down, calm down. But I think really first of all I had too much calmed down at the first few holes. Then I started to talk with my caddie, and then the conditions were getting better. I really liked my iron shots these days. So I really am happy with my iron shots.Q. You and Mika were both playing well. Do you feed off people when you're playing in a group with someone who is making birdies like you are?
SO YEON RYU: It actually feels like match play. We made a lot of birdies at the same time. Especially Mika and I played a lot before when I was in the national team, and Mika with the Japan National Team. So it felt like when we were amateurs. So it was really, really great play today.Q. Overall, it's a shorter event than most. It's only 54 holes. Got off to a good start. Is that a huge key with only two rounds left?
SO YEON RYU: Yes, absolutely. Actually, in Korea, we have a lot of three‑round tournaments, but the LPGA has a lot of four rounds. It's really tough for me. It's really tough physically and absolutely mentally. Especially after the three round tournament, the first round is really, really important. I think today we did great. I just want to keep focused on my putting. But the grass is really hard to putting in the afternoon. So I just want to keep working at the putting.
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Brittany Lincicome to the interview room. Congratulations, a great 5‑under round today. Take me through the day out there. I know I got to see one hole on number 9, and that was a nice eagle you had there. What else is working well for to you day.
BRITTANY LINCICOME: It kind of started out slow. Felt like I was going through the motions on the first, four, five, six holes. It was nice to get a birdie, then I got another birdie, and it was like okay, let's keep going. And then eagled 9, obviously. It was nice to see the putter working. I don't feel like I putted it bad last week, but I wasn't hitting my irons close enough. So today it was nice to have some putts inside of ten feet for birdie. So those five‑footers were always fun.
All around a great day, had a couple of hiccups I guess in there, but I wish I would have birdied the last hole. I had a really good chance there. Other than that, I felt like I did a lot of good things. Just didn't think I knew where the driver was going, which doesn't make me feel comfortable when I was standing over the tee shot. But I was putting it well and saving myself a bunch.
THE MODERATOR: Everybody's talking about the heat here. It's not like we're not used to it. Everywhere we've gone has been hot. What kind of advantage was it to play early? It's supposed to be a little cooler tomorrow, but to get out there and have the coolness at least before temperatures started rising up.
BRITTANY LINCICOME: You don't realize how hot it is. Being from Florida, I don't really think about it. I don't feel like I was even sweating that bad, because they say it's a dry heat. But physician if it's a 100 degrees outside, it's still hot whether it's dry or not.
I felt like on 18 I was absolutely starving, and I don't feel like I did as well. I feel like if I had eaten more through the round my energy would have stayed up and maybe I would have made the putt on 18. But it's so hot out there. You don't notice you've gone 17 holes without eating anything all day, which is not good.
So it's one of the things you have to be aware of out there. I did well drinking; I had a lot to drink. But I needed to eat a little bit more.THE MODERATOR: Everybody was talking earlier in the week about 9 going back to a par‑5 and having that stretch of 8, 9, and 10. You were able to take advantage of that change. That stretch, how much can that change your round if you're able to take advantage of those holes?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: It's huge. If you're going into those holes like I said, I started out slow and wasn't making a lot of birdies and just kind of going through the motions. You get to those holes and it's like, okay, I have legit chances to make birdies and maybe even eagle on 9.
If you don't go through those holes and you par all three of them, you're like I'm three strokes behind the field already. So it's one of those where you're going into the holes with a little more pressure on you because you know you need to birdie at least one, if not two or three of those holes to keep up with the lead.
So luckily a couple of them are short. I can get to them, I can get to 9 and 10, actually. So that's nice. Hopefully just keep taking advantage of them over the next two days.
Q. You kind of dropped your club. You acted like you shanked it. Can you talk about that?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: Yeah, it was in the rough. And yesterday or Wednesday in the Pro‑Am I hit it in the water left when I was trying to hit it almost on like number 10 tee box. I'm aiming so far right of that green trying to get it up on the rough and get it into the green to get a birdie. So when I hit it, it came out almost dead straight, you don't know if it's going to kick left or right. Luckily it kicked straight for me. It could have kicked left and been in the water easily, and my round could have done a 360, and I could not be sitting in here now.
I got a lucky break there, which is golf. It's a game of misses and I kind of lucked out there.
Q. So it's kind of weird with an event starting on Friday. How have you killed time this week?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: I like tournaments that start on Friday. It's one less day that I have to concentrate for. Obviously if you've won a four‑day tournament, you've beaten the best players and you've gone through four days.
But I feel like I would have done really good on the Symetra Tour. I can't concentrate more than three days, I guess.
But, yeah, actually I've done a lot of practicing this week this for me. Before Toledo, I didn't pick up a golf club one day. So going into Toledo I knew I wasn't going to play well because I hadn't practiced. So this week I was like I'm going to focus and try. We're halfway through the season and I haven't had a win yet. Kind of low on the money list, and I'd like to bump it up before the end of the year.
So I did some practicing. Played nine holes on Tuesday, and didn't get in until Monday night. I went to Nike, yep. Spent $500 on myself. I'm not going to lie. No, all clothes. I don't do shoes. But I've been working out more this year, so I had to get workout clothes to look good. So maybe it will motivate me to go. I bought some tennis skirts, so when I play tennis next time I'm going to look the part anyway.
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Michelle Wie into the interview room. Congratulations, a great 3‑under round today for you, and a place that I'm sure almost feels like another home with Nike being right here. Can you take me through the round today and what was really working well for you out there?
MICHELLE WIE: I just took advantage of the par‑5s today which you have to do on this golf course. You know, it's nice being back up on the west coast. It definitely feels a lot more like home to me, especially with Nike being here. It's definitely a comfortable atmosphere.
THE MODERATOR: I know it's been a year of some ups and downs for you out on the golf course. We were in here talking to Yani earlier in the week, and she was saying how the two of you were talking last week when you guy played together and just how tough it can be when you've been at your peak and you go through struggles. How have you managed to get yourself through those and get back to playing like we know you're capable of playing?
MICHELLE WIE: You know what, we talked a lot last week. It's just one week it seems so easy and another week or another year for me everything seems so difficult.
But I've got to stay positive. Nothing good will come out of it if you keep beating yourself up. The game is hard enough as it is without me doing that to myself. I'm just trying to stay positive after every round, looking at the positives and feeling good about each week and really trying not to doubt my game, because I know I have it.
THE MODERATOR: What were the biggest positives for you out there today?
MICHELLE WIE: The par‑5s were really good today. I feel like I'm hitting the golf ball and going at it and just having fun out there.
THE MODERATOR: Overall, how does this course suit your game? Is it one where you feel like when you step on that first tee, it's going to be a great day? That this is a golf course that really fits in your game?
MICHELLE WIE: It's hard to tell, but it's a really good golf course. It's a challenging golf course. I think they don't give up birdies very easily, especially with the greens rolling this well too. It's definitely a great course, and I really enjoy playing it.Q. The difference between playing a 54‑hole event and a 72‑hole event, a lot of times you have to get off to a good start. How much better do you feel when you go out there and shoot a low number and kind of put yourself in position from minute one?
MICHELLE WIE: After this year, it feels good to be in contention after day one. That's my main goal today. I went out there and just getting in a good position. I am in a good position, so I'm going to go out there and take advantage of tomorrow and have fun. Hopefully shoot a lot lower.
MICHELLE WIE: Not really. I didn't see that until my sixth hole. But there's always somebody to do that on the first day. It's not uncommon for somebody to do that. It's out there. It gives you a little confidence knowing that someone did it, so you can do it too.