Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola
Pumpkin Ridge Golf Course, Ghost Creek Golf Course
North Plains, Oregon
August 15-16, 2012
Pre-Tournament Notes and Interviews
Na Yeon Choi, Rolex Rankings No. 4
Suzann Pettersen, Rolex Rankings No. 6
Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 2
Paula Creamer, Rolex Rankings No. 15
So Yeon Ryu, Rolex Rankings No. 12
The 41st annual Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola kicks off Friday on the Ghost Creek Course at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club. Rolex Rankings No. 6 Suzann Pettersen looks to defend her title as she competes among a dominant field consisting of 20 of the world’s top-25 golfers. Nearly all of this season’s winners are in the field this week including No. 1 Yani Tseng, No. 2 Stacy Lewis, No. 4 Na Yeon Choi, No. 12 So Yeon Ryu and No. 17 Angela Stanford. Among the others in the field this week are former Safeway Classic champions Ai Miyazato, Mi Jung Hur and Cristie Kerr.
Chasing the No. 1 spot… For Stacy Lewis, it still hasn’t set in that she is the second-greatest golfer in the world and the top-American on the LPGA Tour. She admits she checks the rankings every now and then to make sure she hasn’t been dreaming for the past several weeks. But on the course she is reminded of her success this season as players study from afar to gain some insight on what it takes to be at the top.
“It's nice because now players are kind of starting to realize how well I am playing, and other players on Tour are coming up to me and paying attention to what I'm doing and trying to figure that out,” Lewis said. “That's what I was doing a couple of years ago, and now I've got to kind of keep the pedal down and keep doing what I'm doing.”
Since Lewis started moving up the Rolex Rankings ladder it has been a question to see if, mathematically, it would be possible for her to pass Yani Tseng this season.
“If anybody can figure out what the math is to move up the rankings, I'd like to know, because I have no idea how those things work,” Lewis said. “I know it's the average points, and Yani won so many times last year that it would take a year like Yani had to pass her this year. So I know it's probably going to take some time, but I've just got to keep chipping away.
“I know we're getting closer to her, but she's not going to be in a slump for a long time. So we’ve got to take advantage of her not playing as well as she'd like right now.”
Despite Tseng’s rough patch in her game, Lewis thinks that it won’t be long until she is in the winner’s circle again, protecting her No. 1 position.
“If Yani gets out there and wins the British again, I don't think she's in a slump anymore,” Lewis said. “I don't know. I think golf is so up‑and‑down, so fickle with your confidence and the golf course and the bounces you get. It's just the way it is.
“I think she's going to win again before the end of the year. I wouldn't be surprised if she's up there at the British.”
Passion rekindled? Suzann Pettersen’s last victory on the LPGA Tour came via her comeback win at the 2011 Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola. But based on the recent focus of the eight-time LPGA winner as she tried to defend her title at the LET’s Ladies Irish Open two weeks ago, it seems she’s closing in on finding that winning edge once again.
After finishing T24 at the Evian Masters last month, Pettersen remained in Europe to make a trip to London for the Olympics as well as to play in the Ladies Irish Open as the defending champion. Pettersen fell just shy of capturing back-to-back victories there at Killeen Castle, and she admitted that at first she wasn’t sure if she wanted to go back to the event at all.
“When I played Irish last year, I had a phenomenal weekend. I kind of ran away with the tournament,” Pettersen said. “Then the Solheim, there are so many moments and memories from pretty much each and every hole, so it was one of those do I really have to go back? It's not going to be the same. I know.”
Still, Pettersen seemed to channel that energy and provide the crowd with a glimpse of the player who helped carry the European Team to victory at that Solheim Cup.
“On Sunday, I kind of got on the run again,” Pettersen said. “Played great on the back nine, made everything just like playing at Solheim. I know Catriona Matthew, who won the event and was playing behind me said, ‘It looked like she was playing the Solheim Cup again. She was so intense and fiery.’
“I found that I really wanted it,” added Pettersen, who finished one shot behind Matthew. “I wanted to defend my title. I wanted to win. And that's the first really solid round of golf where I had that passion and instinct of just wanting to go low and wanting it so bad. It's kind of a good experience for me because I want to feel that again in my body and not just going out there and trying too hard.”
Sweetest victory? Paula Creamer (@ThePCreamer) is well aware of how long it has been since she last captured a victory on the LPGA Tour. And the lengthy winless drought for the nine-time LPGA Tour winner is something that is never far from her mind.
“I think about it every day, yes,” Creamer said during her pre-tournament press conference at the Safeway Classic. “It's been two years. It's hard. This has been by far the biggest struggle I've ever had to go against, and this is my 8th year out here. It's definitely been the hardest one for me, a lot of things going off and on the golf course.”
Creamer, who recently turned 26, has had many ups and downs so far during the 2012 season. It included losing her grandfather who was one of her biggest fans and supporters. She has also continued to work on the swing changes that she began making last year. And while she is still seeking that long awaited return to the winner’s circle, she continues to put herself in position to capture a victory.
The Pleasanton, Calif. native has four top-10 finishes this year, including two in her last three events. She also put together a great performance at the 2011 Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola, finishing fourth. So perhaps the time for that next victory is right around the corner?
“The run that I made at Evian on my back nine was fun,” Creamer said. “It was exciting. Just feeling that in the moment and being there. And the U.S. Open, a National Championship, being in contention there. There is nothing better than that. You know, Na Yeon Choi played fantastic on Saturday. You can't take that away from her. But being able to be put in that position [to contend] was nice. It was a good taste again.”
Ripple effect… It’s a known fact that Se Ri Pak’s epic win at the 1998 U.S. Women’s Open triggered a major golf influence in young South Korean women. More than 40 South Korean players compete on the LPGA Tour and four of them hold titles from this season’s events.
Nearly 14 years later, rookie So Yeon Ryu still sings praises to Pak’s inspirational win as she notched her first career victory last week at the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic. More than 40 South Korean players compete on the LPGA Tour and four of them hold titles from this season’s events.
“First of all, a lot of Koreans are playing here, and we help each other out a lot,” Ryu said. “Especially Se Ri Pak already made footsteps for women here in the LPGA, so we're really following her steps. She makes it a lot easier for us.
These days a lot of American fans are still cheering the South Koreans. So this is not my country, but it feels like a lot of fans are supporting us and a lot of fans are cheering us, so I feel really comfortable.”
Quotable… “She was on such a roll last year, to see her struggle. I played with her at Wegmans in Rochester the first two days and she had a bad first day, and when she does that, she bounces back the next day. So it's definitely surprising.
I think everybody was saying the same thing about Rory not too long ago. We've got a major coming up. And if Yani gets out there and wins the British again, I don't think she's in a slump anymore. I don't know. I think golf is so up‑and‑down, so fickle with your confidence and the golf course and the bounces you get. It's just the way it is.
I think she's going to win again before the end of the year. I wouldn't be surprised if she's up there at the British.” – Stacy Lewis on Yani Tseng’s recent struggles
Tweets of the day… “Talk about a remarkable day today at @SafewayClassic! Striking it pretty well again and the best proam group to boot!” --@TheChristinaKim
Storylines at the Safeway Classic
North Plains, Oregon welcomes the LPGA Tour to the Ghost Creek Golf Course at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club this week for the 41st annual Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola (@SafewayClassic). The Portland-based tournament features a dominant field of 144 players competing for a $1.5 million purse and a $225,000 first-place check. The tournament is the longest-running, non-major event on the LPGA schedule, with its inaugural event dating back to 1972. The Kraft Nabisco Championship began in the same year, but became a major 10 years later. Both are outlasted by the U.S. Women’s Open and the Wegmans LPGA Championship, which began in 1946 and 1955, respectively.
Defending Champ...It has officially been a full year since Suzann Pettersen (@SuzannPettersen) has been in the winner’s circle at an LPGA event. The Norwegian comes back to the Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club as defending champ after defeating Na Yeon Choi on the first hole of a playoff in 2011 to securing secure her eighth career victory. Pettersen has consistently positioned herself in the top-10 of the Rolex Rankings throughout the season and will look to end her winless streak at the home of her last victory.
Rookie Watch... So Yeon Ryu’s commanding lead in the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race continues to grow following her second-career victory last week at the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic. Ryu, who won the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open as a member of the Korea LPGA (KLPGA), became the fifth Rolex First-Time Winner (her U.S. Open win does not qualify because she was not a member at the time) this season after winning the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic as an official LPGA member. She boasts 861 total points in the Rookie of the Year race and a 403-point lead over Lexi Thompson. With eight top-10s this season, Ryu (@1soyeonryu) holds the No. 8 spot on the season money list with $738,510.
South Korean dominance... South Koreans Jiyai Shin (@sjy1470), I.K. Kim, Inbee Park and Hee Kyung Seo dominated the leaderboard at the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic, sharing the lead at 11-under 202 heading into the final round. It hasn’t been a rare occurrence to see South Korean flags floating at the top of the leaderboard this season, as four have already notched a win this season including Sun Young Yoo, Inbee Park, Na Yeon Choi (@nychoi87) and So Yeon Ryu, with several others placing in the top-10.
Stacy Lewis... Rolex Rankings No. 2 and top-ranked American Stacy Lewis (@Stacy_Lewis) continues her “career year” this week at the Safeway Classic where she looks for the third victory of her 2012 campaign. The 27-year-old Texan boasts 10 top-10 finishes this season, including victories at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic and the ShopRite LPGA Classic, and leads the LPGA Official Money List with earnings of more than $1.2 million. Lewis is also seeking to become the first American Rolex Player of the Year since Beth Daniel in 1994. She leads two-time defending Player of the Year Yani Tseng by 21 points with 11 tournaments remaining on the schedule.
It’s comeback time… For Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng (@YaniTseng), missing three cuts in a season is intolerable. In the past six events, she couldn’t quite piece her game together enough to see her name on the leaderboard, let alone in the top-50. Having not tallied a top-10 since her ninth-place finish at the Sybase Match Play Championship in mid-May, Tseng has been forced to refocus and try to regain the dominant form she showed while tallying 12 worldwide victories last year.
“I try everything I can,” said Tseng, who also won three of the first five events on the LPGA Tour this season. “I'm working hard. I just work on location. This week, I feel very good, I feel like the old Yani is getting close and I feel like I need to get started on what I'm here for. This is a sport I love and there is no way I can be more appreciative than anyone else. I feel that I have a lot of advantage this week and I can do it. Just enjoy more than anybody on the course this week.”
With a new caddy, Patrick Turley, on her bag this week, Tseng believes she might have found the final piece to put her game back together. So the Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club might be seeing a whole new player in the Rolex Rankings’ top golfer. She says posting a win this week could be the most rewarding of her LPGA career.
“We always learn more from the losing than the winning,” Tseng said. “The last couple months I learned a lot and I told myself, if I win again, it's going to be my best trophy I've ever had. I will be very, very much more appreciating how much goes into it and I know a couple of years looking back on this time, I know I will probably say this is my best time.”
Caddie change-up... Yani Tseng isn’t the only player who has made a caddie change this week. Rolex Rankings No. 4 Na Yeon Choi also has a new caddie on the bag, although he’s a very familiar face already to many LPGA fans.
Jason Hamilton, who tallied 16 wins as Tseng’s caddie, will be on Choi’s bag beginning this week in Portland. Choi said that she made the switch as her previous caddy, Shane Joel, needed to take a break due to personal reasons. Joel recommended Hamilton as a replacement. And while there is always an adjustment period when switching caddies, Choi said that there is already a comfort level that exists between her and Hamilton.
“Me and Yani, we are good friends so I know Jaon very well,” Choi said. “So you know, I work with him starting yesterday but it didn’t feel weird. It was a comfortable feeling and everybody knows that he’s a good caddie and he has good experience.”
Is this the year? There is no question that Na Yeon Choi enjoys playing the Ghost Creek Golf Course at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club. Having tallied back-to-back, runner-up finishes at the Safeway Classic the last two years, Choi has proven that she’s got the ability to deliver strong performances here.
So what is it about this golf course that Choi really enjoys?
“First of all, I'm really excited to be in Portland,” Choi said. “You know, I like the people. I like the course very well. You know, I like to do shopping here and the weather is perfect, no rain. I'm really happy to be back in Portland, and like you say, I have great results from here. So I have a lot of confidence with this golf course.
“And I mean, I think I can read the greens very well. That's why I played well the last two years and I think even this year, I have really good confidence with this golf course. So hopefully I’ll get good results on Sunday.”
Last year, Choi fell just short of victory when she lost to Suzann Pettersen on the first hole of a playoff. But Choi, who has five top-10 finishes this year including a victory at the U.S. Women’s Open, isn’t dwelling on the fact that she didn’t get the win here in 2011.
“I just played aggressive so I don't have any regret after that,” Choi said. “If I have any situation like that on Sunday or next year or whatever, I think I feel the same way. I would like to play aggressively and even if I did my best, it doesn't matter about the results.”
Olympic dreams… The countdown has begun for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and several LPGA players took off to London following the Evian Masters to get in the spirit. For Yani Tseng, watching the athletes compete was an emotional experience.
“It's incredible,” Tseng said. “I watched swimming, diving, archery, table tennis, tennis, basketball. I was sightseeing in London and just so much fun that week. Every time I watched, and they put on their flag, I was like crying so hard all the time with them. I feel like I'm a player.”
With goals to compete in the 2016 Olympics, Tseng caught a glimpse of how it might feel to represent Taiwan on one of the biggest stages in sports.
“You know, you feel like you're not just playing for yourself,” Tseng said. “You're playing for your country. You're playing for your family and for your friends. It's very different and everybody is working so hard for the four years, and just that one time, just that one dive, and you might win a Gold Medal, and you might just lose for that one dive.
“So it's very hard but I'm so proud of it. If you can be a player in the Olympics, I think that's just a huge honor. Doesn't matter if you got medals or not; it's just a huge honor to be there.”
Of note… 20 of the top-25 in the Rolex Rankings and 47 of the top-50 in the season money list are in the field this week… Rookie Katy Harris earned her spot in the field this week after posting a 72 in Monday’s qualifier… 22 other LPGA Rookies are in the field this week including Jamie Farr Toledo Classic Champ So Yeon Ryu.
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 here today. I know you've been here to Portland a number of times and you had a pretty good finish here last year, tied for 13th. First off, tell me about your feelings about being back here in Portland and what you enjoy about this golf course.
YANI TSENG: Very good finish, tied for 13th?
MODERATOR: It's not bad.
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I feel like I played decent on this golf course. But I like this golf course, and the people here are so nice, and it's beautiful, Portland. So we are always very happy and very looking forward to come back here.
So I'm very looking forward to have a good week this week. I had a nine-hole practice round today and I played an 18-hole Pro-Am today. I feel fresh. I feel I'm ready to go.
MODERATOR: I know for you last year, tied for 13th probably wasn't one of the best finishes, but it's still a pretty darned good finish. Overall I know this last month or so has not been the best stretch of golf for you, coming off three straight missed cuts, what's your feeling coming into this week about your game, and what have you been kind of doing to kind of get yourself back on track to playing how you were just a year ago?
YANI TSENG: I try everything I can. I'm working hard. I just work on location. This week, I feel very good, I feel like the old Yani is getting close and I feel like I need to get started on what I'm here for. This is a sport I love and there is no way I can be more appreciative than anyone else. I feel that I have a lot of advantage this week and I can do it. Just enjoy more than anybody on the course this week.
MODERATOR: After missing the cut last week, how did you spend your weekend before coming here? How did you put that behind you?
YANI TSENG: I had lots of fun the last two days, I played golf with Michelle Wie and played nine holes with caddie and with Jiyai. It was so much fun, it felt like a party over there (laughing). Having dinner with some players. It's just a week, it's not really a big deal.
We always learn more from the losing than the winning. The last couple months I learned a lot and I told myself, if I win again, it's going to be my best trophy I've ever had. I will be very, very much more appreciating how much goes into it and I know a couple of years looking back on this time, I know I will probably say this is my best time.
It's hard to always go up when you go down a little bit more, and then you go up a little more and get back more.
MODERATOR: Do you talk to other players about that, too? Michelle has been to that point, too, where she was up at the top of this tour and has gone through her struggles this year with her game and getting it back on track. Do you ever talk about that, about what it's like mentally to be at that spot where you're the best in the world and then all of a sudden, everybody goes through slumps or spots where you're probably not playing where you feel like you're capable.
YANI TSENG: I know, I think it's all about mental. I played a lot of golf with Michelle this year. She still hits the ball very well. She still hits it far. Still making putts. I think overall, it's the mind. I ask her if she’s cried, like a few times this year, and she says, of course, me too. A few months, it's like I try too hard, but I always learn something from it.
Golf is not easy. I mean, last year, for me play was much easier than now but I still think good things. Like I say, I've been through -- dedication and I feel like I'm back and I don't want to give anybody a chance to beat me again.
Q. You've got another bit of change this week, a new caddie on your bag. Can you tell me about your new caddie and just changing up things again a little bit?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I met him last week at Detroit and then from my friend -- they are good friends and they say he's a good guy and tried him out. Went to dinner together and he seems really nice. Just a couple of days we work on some yardage, and I think he's really good. I know he will keep me relaxed and I think he's a pretty good caddie.
Q. And his name is Patrick?
YANI TSENG: Yes.
Q. Do you know his last name?
YANI TSENG: T-u-r-l-e-y.
Q. What do you think of No. 9 going back to a par-5?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, of course, there is like three par 5s in a row and it helps a lot because those three par 5s, we can make birdie and make one eagle on No. 9, it helps a lot.
Some of the shots, maybe it's longer, you get much better angle to hitting from there. So I think it's good for long hitters. And the fairway is not really narrow, so you really need to hit it to the spot you want to go and stick with your game plan.
YANI TSENG: I think par 4 is better. For the long hitters, par 4 may be better for the regular -- par 5 is fine. For us, I just feel No. 9 is a long par 4 for me.
MODERATOR: I wanted to ask you about some fun that you had before Toledo, you got to go to the Olympics. Can you tell me about that experience? What sports did you get to see, and what was that atmosphere like?
YANI TSENG: So much fun. Just go out there and warm up for 2016 Rio. It's incredible. I watched swimming, diving, archery, table tennis, tennis, basketball. I was sightseeing in London and just so much fun that week. Every time I watched it in the morning, they put on their flag, and I was like crying so hard all the time with them. I feel like I'm a player.
You know, you feel like you're not just playing for yourself. You're playing for your country. You're playing for your family and for your friends. It's very different and everybody is working so hard for the four years, and just that one time, just that one dive, and you might win a Gold Medal, and you might just lose for that one diving.
So it's very hard but I'm so proud of it. If you can be a player in the Olympics, I think that's just a huge honor. Doesn't matter if you got medals or not; it's just a huge honor to be there.
MODERATOR: And got you excited for 2016 and imagining yourself perhaps being up on that podium and receiving a medal?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I can't wait to play that. I want to work hard. I want to play for my country, play for everybody, and I want to be there. I just feel like I have so many feelings and I want to play in the Olympics and feel how special if I can win that tournament.
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Rolex Rankings No. 4 Na Yeon Choi into the interview room. Thank you for joining us.This golf course seems to be one that you've really enjoyed, looking at your results in the past couple years, finished runner-up the last two seasons here. What is it about this golf course that really suits your game and how much are you excited to be back here in Portland again?
NA YEON CHOI: First of all, I'm really excited to be in Portland. You know, I like the people. I like the course very well. You know, I like to do shopping in here and weather is perfect, no rain. I'm really happy to be back in Portland, and like you say, not to see, and I have great results from here. So I have a lot of confidence with this golf course.
And I mean, I think I can read the greens very well. That's why I played well the last two years and I think even this year, I have really good confidence with this golf course. So hopefully get good results on Sunday.
NA YEON CHOI: Well, actually, I don't want to say I was losing from Suzann. I'm really satisfied with what I did on Sunday, even during the playoff.I just played aggressive. So I don't have any regret after that. If I have any situation like Sunday or next year or whatever, I think I feel the same way. I would like to play aggressively and even if I did my best, it doesn't matter about the results.
Last year, I finished the runner-up, but I'm really satisfied. So you know, I think I got some good vibes from that, because I didn't think I'm losing. So, you know, when I'm satisfied about my game, I always get some confidence from that. So that's why I could play well after finishing runner-up from last year.
MODERATOR: It's been a very special season, you captured your first major victory at the U.S. Open's open and I know you got to go home to Korea after that. What was it like to see your parents and to celebrate your win with everybody there at home?
NA YEON CHOI: I was very surprised. So many people were waiting for me in the airport, and a lot of media and a lot of cameras was there.
So, I mean, you know, still, I couldn't believe I won the major tournament. But I have to separate right now. You know, very hard to focus on my game after I won, after I win the major tournament.
So I have to go back to what I did before the U.S. Open, so I have to focus on my game and try to keep working on what I have to do. So I don't know, I will try, you know, never forget that feeling during the Sunday in the U.S. Open. But I have to, you know, play before I try the U.S. Open, just go back to normal.
NA YEON CHOI: It wasn't difficult to focus on my game. Again, I realize that when my body is tired, my mental is tired, too. So very hard to focus on my game.
So, you know, I went to Korea right after the U.S. Open, and then I had only five days, a day off in Korea, and was busy. I went to Japan to play golf and then I flew to Evian and flew to London and fly back to Orlando. You know, my body was getting tired, so I tried to get rested really well and even this week, you know, the weather is getting very warm and hot tomorrow during the tournament.
So I try to take a good rest and just try to work out every day. My swing coach he's in here in Portland, so you know, we know what we have to do. So I'm just looking forward to just playing this week.
NA YEON CHOI: I think when he comes to the tournament, I have always good results. I'm not saying 100 percent, but like almost. Even this week, we try to work on a little bit of basic things, and he just reminds me, because I have some pressure after I won the U.S. Open.
And he reminds me, you have less pressure than other players. So just go out there, have fun in the practice rounds with your caddie or with your partners. I'm trying that, even today, I have great members during the Pro-Am, so we are trying to have fun and talk a lot. They always asking me about the U.S. Open, so I try to remember what I have feeling from the U.S. Open. I have a great day, and even tomorrow or during the tournament, I hope to have fun.
NA YEON CHOI: I heard right now there's three par 5s in a row?
Q. 8, 9 and 10.
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah, I think that's the key to play well. Pars on No. 8, 9, 10, that's really important for scoring I think. People can -- I think there are some players that can reach it in two on 9, 10, maybe some players can reach it in two on 8, too.
So I think I have to focus really hard on 8 through 10 and then, you know, try to get some birdies or low scores from there.
NA YEON CHOI: Well, actually, I drink a lot of water. Not during the day; before the day, like today or tomorrow, I try to drink a lot of water and then, you know, maybe I can use an umbrella during the walk.
Q. You're obviously playing with the sleeves?
NA YEON CHOI: I don't know, this makes me feel more tight, my muscle. Like I always wear this sleeve for like ten years, so if I don't wear this, I feel like really weird.
MODERATOR: One other thing I wanted to ask you about, you have a new caddie on the bag this week, Jason Hamilton who, is Yani's former caddie. Caddie changes always require a bit of getting to know each other, but what are you excited about with having Jason on the bag?
NA YEON CHOI: I mean, me and Yani, we are good friends, so I know him very well. I mean, we didn't talk much, we didn't play each other, but I know him very well and we are very comfortable with each other.
So you know, I work with him starting yesterday, but it didn't feel weird. It was a comfortable feeling, and I know -- everybody knows that he's a good caddie and he has a good experience.
So, you know, we start this week but I'm going to try to ask him what he thinks about the yardage or the greens, everything. So we try to -- I think we need to trust each other, but I think we're doing great right now.
MODERATOR: Did Yani have anything to do with -- did you talk to Yani about having Jason on the bag at all?
NA YEON CHOI: Actually, no. This morning I had talked with Yani this morning, but we didn't say anything about the caddie. I think we are good friends, but this is some kind of business. So I think that's why she didn't say anything, and even I didn't say anything, either.
MODERATOR: She was saying earlier that she was excited for you and for him and when she made the switch, she was saying it was one of those that everyone understood they needed a break and Jason has a lot of wins under his belt, too.
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah, I think so, when I change something around me, it always gives me a good, fresh feeling. I mean, I don't like to change caddies very often, but my old caddie, Shane, has some personal problems, and then he recognized and introduced me about Jason. They are good friends and they are both from Australia. I trust Shane, and then when Shane said he's a good guy, he's a good caddie, so I trust Shane and Jason right now.
Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 2
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Rolex Rankings No. 2 Stacy Lewis into the interview room. Thank you so much for joining us today. Always great to be back here in Portland, I'm sure, beautiful weather, beautiful golf course. I guess your initial thoughts being back here and how does this course suit your game?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I always love coming here. The weather is always nice. It seems like we don't really get any bad weather. The golf course you always know will be in good shape, so it's nice to come back to that. It's a golf course you have to hit it straight on, and you have to make a lot of putts. I think that is the key.
But the greens are tricky, so it makes it tough. You know, I think they change 9 back to a par‑5, so I think that stretch of 8, 9, and 10, you can really make a move there in the middle of the round. It makes it fun and exciting a little bit.
MODERATOR: Talk about making a move. It's been quite a season for you, two wins already, ten top 10s, you're leading the money list, and also leading in Rolex Player of the Year ranks. What's this year been like for you? I know we talked a lot about the goals that you set at the beginning of the season, and I know you've bypassed most of them already. What do you do in terms of reaching out? Do you look at the final few months of the season and what other goals have you set for yourself?
STACY LEWIS: It's strange. I think I find myself every week checking those rankings to make sure it's actually true. It's nice because now players are kind of starting to realize how well I am playing, and other players on Tour are coming up to me and paying attention to what I'm doing and trying to figure that out.
That's what I was doing a couple of years ago, and I've got to kind of keep the pedal down and keep doing what I'm doing and not look at those rankings and not pay attention to what everybody else is doing and take care of my own game. If I can get another win and be in contention a couple more times this year, I'll be right where I want to be at the end of the year.
Q. You had a great finish last week in Toledo, and I know that's a busy week for you with all the family that you have there. What was that week like? I know you had that experience with Arkansas as well, and now kind of getting that hometown feel?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, it was another hometown week. It was tough. I think I was up at 6:00 or 7:00 every morning and didn't sit down until 8:00 or 9:00 at night every day. It was a long week. It was nice to finish on a high note. Over the years, I haven't played well there, so I wasn't really that surprised that I kind of struggled the first two days. I don't know why I just don't play well on that golf course.
So it was nice to finish it off good and get some momentum going into this week.Q. Having moved up to number two in the world rankings, have you done the math and figured out what it's going to take?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, if anybody can figure out what the math is to move up the rankings, I'd like to know, because I have no idea how those things work. I know it's the average points, and Yani won so many times last year that it would take a year like Yani had to pass her this year. So I know it's probably going to take some time, but I've just got to keep chipping away.
I know we're getting closer to her, but she's not going to be in a slump for a long time. So got to take advantage of her not playing as well as she'd like right now.Q. Usually this time of the year you're done with all the majors, but now they pushed the British back to September. Does that change how this month stacks up for you?
STACY LEWIS: I think it does, because there is another important tournament coming up that we're here this week kind of preparing for. Usually we're coming off of the British and coming off such a high that people are kind of low on energy and trying to kind of get through it. But now you've got to keep your energy up and keep working hard. So it's definitely a little different this year.Q. You talked about how you're just worrying about your own game. Can you talk about what's working so well in your game to get you to this position right now?
STACY LEWIS: I was looking at that the other day, and I think I'm second or third in greens and regulation and putts for green in regulation. I think that combination sets your scoring numbers, and that's been the difference in the numbers. But I think overall, my swing has kind of fully gotten better over the last probably year and a half where it's a lot more solid now.
And this year I've putted so good that that's the difference. You win golf tournaments with your putter. You don't win it with your driver. So your golf swing can be as good as you want, but if you don't make the putts, you're not going to win anything.
So I've just been working on my speed and little things, but seeing putts go in, you get confidence from that.Q. Pumpkin Ridge, talk about how your game suits this course? Is there a lot here that is the toughest one for you?
STACY LEWIS: I think it suits my game. I think you have to hit it straight. The rough's not up as much as it has been. But there are some tricky holes where can you get blocked out by trees and go through fairways. You really have to drive it well. Then from there, the greens are tricky. They're tough to read. So I think that suits me. I think I'm a pretty good green reader, and at the end of the day, it's just making putts. I think 17 and 18 are going to be important, and then that stretch of 8, 9, and 10, those par‑5s are important.
I think the hardest hole out here, I don't know ‑‑ there are a couple that are just the driving, I think 12, the little dogleg around the corner, that is a tough driving hole. Each hole kind of has their own little things that can jump up and get you.
I've seen on 15, I drove it into one of those left bunkers one day, and I got that out of the way yesterday, so maybe that won't happen. But each hole has ‑‑ 17 can jump up and get you if you're not careful. So it's a golf course you really have to think your way around.Q. We had Yani in here yesterday, and you were talking about you don't expect her to be in a slump for long. But how surprised has everyone around here been with how she's playing? We saw her miss one cut all of last year on this tremendous run. Even at the start of this season, she's coming off back‑to‑back missed cuts. Hasn't had a Top 10 finish since the Sybase Match Play back in May. What happened? I know golfers always go through ups and downs, but is it just as surprising to you guys as it is to a lot of other people to see her in this prolonged little bit of a slump?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I think it's more because of how well she played last year. She was on such a roll last year, to see her struggle. I played with her at Wegmans in Rochester the first two days and she had a bad first day, and when she does that, she bounces back the next day. So it's definitely surprising.
I think everybody was saying the same thing about Rory not too long ago. We've got a major coming up. And if Yani gets out there and wins the British again, I don't think she's in a slump anymore. I don't know. I think golf is so up‑and‑down, so fickle with your confidence and the golf course and the bounces you get. It's just the way it is.
I think she's going to win again before the end of the year. I wouldn't be surprised if she's up there at the British.Q. In this season have you seen the benefits of when you get that confidence rolling and you feel like your game is coming together? You get those two put together and it turns into one of these tremendous runs?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, that's what I learned. I played with Yani a lot last year when she won. To watch her over every putt, she hit it like it was going to go in. The speed was there, it was firm, it was in the back of the hole, and I kind of learned that from her.
I think to have that confident look and the way you carry yourself into a shot, that's what she looked like last year. That's what made it intimidating, because she looked like over every shot she was going to pull it off. She doesn't have that now, but that's one thing I saw in her that I've taken into my game this year.Q. I was wondering if you guys among the American players have talked about the Olympics and getting on that team, even though it's four years off?
STACY LEWIS: I think everybody's talked about it a little bit. Just Americans have the Solheim Cup where we can represent. But a lot of players from Australia and other parts of the world, that's going to be their main deal.
As a Tour, it's going to be great for our Tour, and it's going to be good exposure to get us out on the national stage, get us on NBC, and get that good exposure that the guys get every week. I think it will be great for our Tour and for people to see that.
I was talking with my caddie last week. He said, yeah, it would be pretty cool to getting to the opening ceremonies and hang out with the athletes in the other sports. And they're gearing up four years for that one week that they compete. Just to see their mentality and how they go about their business there will be pretty interesting.Q. Sounds like they're talking about a standard 72‑hole stroke play, would you like that or like to see a team kind of thing?
STACY LEWIS: I would like to see the team thing, just for the country part of it, and to make it different from a major a Ryder Cup or Solheim Cup. Just a different format so it has some sort of different meaning to it.Q. Do you have a lot of fun watching the Olympics over the last couple of weeks and getting that sense that the next time this is happening, we're going to have that chance to be out there and showcasing our sport?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I was watching the closing ceremonies, and they had the people from Rio come out. I mean, it was just cool to know that the next Olympics we have a chance to be there. I think right now you have to be in the top 15 in the world rankings to guarantee your spot.
As long as I can hang around there, I'd love to be there. I mean, any time you get to represent your country and step out there with the red, white and blue and represent the United States of America, that is the best honor an athlete can have.
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Rolex Rankings number 6 Suzann Pettersen into the interview room, also the defending champion here. You seem to like Portland quite a bit looking at all the results we've seen this the past couple of years, winning in the last year and finishing in the Top 5 the previous two. What is it about this golf course that suits your game?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I'm very happy to be back in Portland. It kind of feels like home for me, being here with all my friends at Nike. First of all, I can get some stuff done with them but also enjoy the city. I love it out here. It kind of feels like home. Not really the 100 degrees, but there is something about Portland. Ever since it's been moved from Columbia Edgewater over here, I've done a little better.
It's just one of those places where can you get it going. Last year was a little bit out of the ‑‑ I don't know ‑‑ I never thought I was going to win when I came out here Sunday morning being 7 or 8 back.
But there are low scores out here. Conditions are going to be great. The course is in good shape. I played the Pro‑Am yesterday. It's out there to be taken.
MODERATOR: Talk about how you're feeling about your game coming into this week? I know in between the break with the Evian, you went and played at the Irish Open. You won the year before and came close again this time. How do you feel about your game, and how would you assess your season so far?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: The season has been pretty good. What I'm kind of looking at, I look at how I feel my approach is. I feel like what I've concluded over the summer is when you're so close to being right where you want to, so you put in more work, more practice. You do just a little bit more of everything instead of kind of relaxing more and enjoying it and kind of get a balance in your life instead of dedicating yourself to what you want to do.
You have to try to enjoy the process. When you're that close, you try to edge it that much more, which kind of takes the enjoyment and true passion a little bit out of it which I feel like it's been this year.
So now I'm just really trying to kind of get a more equal balance. I know I put in enough hard work, and I feel good with my game. Ireland, I didn't really want to go back there as the defending champ. Because, first of all, I played Irish last year, and I had a phenomenal weekend. I kind of ran away with the tournament.
Then the Solheim, there are so many moments and memories from pretty much each and every hole, so it was one of those do I really have to go back? It's not going to be the same. I know. The frame is not going to be the same.
At the same time I really wanted to go because I felt like my game was good. Spent a couple of days in London with the Olympics, so that was a lot of inspiration to bring with me. Teed it up, showed up late again, Thursday night I arrived and teed up on Friday, ended up being in the hunt on Sunday. So then I played with Sophie the first two rounds, and it's like you have your moments around the course. And there were certain spots, especially walking up to the 9 going over to the 10, there was always the captain was over there and the vice-captain always cheering you on and giving you a slap on your back.
Sophie and I hit to like a foot on 9, which is two great shots, and I looked at Sophie, like, I mean, where are they? They're not here. She goes, no. It's just the two of us. I was like I wanted to look over to see if they were there, but they weren't. It was a little freaky situation.
But on Sunday, I kind of got on the run again. Played great on the back nine, made everything just like playing at Solheim. I know she said it looked like she was playing the Solheim Cup again. She was so intense and fiery.
I found that I really wanted it. I wanted to defend my title. I wanted to win. And that's the first really solid round of golf where I had that passion and instinct of just wanting to go low and wanting it so bad. It's kind of a good experience for me because I want to feel that again in my body and not just going out there and trying too hard.
Q. You were talking about finding the balance and the passion and relaxation, and being able to balance everything with the Olympics. What was that experience like for you? We talked with Yani yesterday about her experience there, but being at one of sport's biggest stages and seeing people playing for their countries and the passion that comes out. What sports did you get to go see and what was the entire experience like?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: The Olympics is as big as it gets. You get one shot at it every four years. It was a fantastic experience from my point. I got to see beach volleyball which is probably the best kind of venues. Night matches, it was quite a show both on the court and off the court, obviously.
Then I watched tennis. Pretty much and entire day at Wimbledon. I got to see Federer, Murray, Djokovic, all of them. It was fantastic.
You know what I find, I have a lot of friends from Norway who competed. Some did really well. Some failed, if you want to say failed, in their attempt to kind of go for the medal or the gold medal. It's just amazing.
I mean, I'm so glad we're in this sport. We're going to have more than one shot for the glory. I mean, you look at sports where it's like you have one race, and that's it. In golf you have 72 holes. It's not like you practice for four years and you get to play one hole and that decides the winner.
But it's amazing the dedication that the athletes put in and when you see people and you know what's behind it, even when they don't compete, the passion for what they do, the dedication and the hard work is phenomenal. It really shows and comes out in a great spirit in the Olympics. It's the world's biggest stage.
I think the Olympics is a great venue for those sports that you don't really care about too much. Look at swimming at the Olympics, what Olympics does for the swimming. Michael Phelps is a fantastic athlete, but you hear more of him every four years. His name pops up. Then in between there are stories here and there, but it's not the same. Gymnastics, what looks so easy is so hard, I guess.
It's amazing. It was a great kind of inspiration. I feel like those four years, you've got to try to get started, because four years goes by very, very fast.
Q. You've been down in Rio playing at that event, the unofficial event down there. Feeling the sense of them all getting prepared, but did it get you more amped up thinking about 2016?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah, this is my first on‑site experience with the Summer Olympics. I've been to several winter Olympics. But it's a nice pace to get kind of you know what's ahead of you, you don't quite know what it's going to be like. But that little taste was enough for me to get motivated for another four years to be right there.Q. Does being a defending champ affect how you approach this course and the tournament?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: It doesn't really. I mean, you can kind of draw some good experience. Obviously, it's most likely a course you like. So I have a lot of great kind of stored memories around this place. It's nice to come back to a course you know.
But other than that, I really want to come here and try to defend my title. That's why I've been playing here this week. I'd really like to try to give it a shot. I was close in Ireland. It would have been cool to back it up two tournaments in a row. But, again I came just short. I just want to try to play well.
Q. Lebron James always says that he plays harder hear because it’s the home of Nike. Do you feel the same?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I think I said that yesterday. It was kind of nice to win here in my second home. It feels like my second home. Nike for me is a huge family and that's what I love. I'm lucky enough kind to be part of this staff. It feels like a big family.
So we have great support, and obviously, you really want to do well. I know last year they had a huge marketing meeting here, and there were like 300 guys in the conference center downtown. They weren't able to come out. But I saw their faces and they were following me online seeing when I won.
It was amazing to see the celebration on my behalf and our behalf. It was a good deal.Q. You play I think in the morning tomorrow. Do you think that might be an advantage with the heat in the afternoon?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Not really. The ball's going to fly further in the afternoon. The course is going to play shorter. But I get that on Saturday.Q. Do you do something special, anything different when you know it's going to be like a 100 degrees?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: No, not really. We've been playing quite a lot of this this year. This summer has been brutal in the U.S. Arkansas was over a 100. The U.S. Open was easily over a 100. It's been nice in Europe. And you quickly get back to reality coming here. You don't expect it to be a 100 in Portland. But it feels like we always draw the sunshine to this place. It's always gorgeous weather here.Q. They changed number 9 back to a par‑5. Do you have a preference on that hole?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I mean, people are talking about it. It's like three back‑to‑back par‑5in a row. We don't play that too often, but at the same time I think it's exciting because you can make a charge. You can make a difference and kind of at the time.
When it was a par‑4, it was a tough par‑4, because you couldn't really ‑‑ well, I played out on number 1 a couple of times until I realized it was out of bounds. You could hit driver from the tee we played last year, we got to hit driver, and it's a long approach with a very firm green last year.
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome So Yeon Ryu into the interview room. Congratulations, you picked up your first official victory as an LPGA member last week in Toledo. First off, tell me about that experience last week. We all know you captured your first LPGA win at the U.S. Women's Open which is such a huge stage. But now as a rookie on Tour, what does it mean to capture that?
SO YEON RYU: Yeah, this is my first one officially on the LPGA. After the U.S. Women's Open win, I don't have any wins even at the KLPGA. So I worked really hard, and I was really waiting for my first win.
Unfortunately, last week didn't have any TV coverage, but still a lot of people were supporting me and congratulating me. So I'm really, really happy. How can I say? It's really awesome. The last round, I hit 9‑under. I felt like I had the birdie on hole 9 and finished at 14. Then 15, 16, 17 I got a par. It feels like a bogey or double bogey.
So it feels so good at the moment. Especially the last hole I made a birdie and I got the win. It was so great, so great.
This is my first time on the LPGA Tour, so I really want to keep concentration on my ball and on another tournament.
MODERATOR: In terms of that impressive final round, you shot 62, which tied the LPGA record for the lowest final round by a winner. What were you able to do? You entered that last day tied for the lead with three other players. What got you into being able to shoot such a low round on Sunday?
SO YEON RYU: Actually the first round, second round, third round, I made a bogey on the first hole. But the final round, I made a par. So I was so relieved at the moment. I thought oh, maybe I can do more today. So I think that's why I played really great.
Especially these days, my shots felt really great, so I made a lot of birdie chances. On the front nine I missed a lot of birdie putts. But on hole 9, I made a huge putt, a long putt, 10, 11‑yard putt. Then my concentration level was really going high, and a lot of the crowds came to our group and encouraged me.
I can't do anything without the fans. I'm really thankful to the fans and the crowds out there.
Q. Going to another thing that you're leading now, which is the Rookie of the Year race. We talked at the beginning of the season how important it was for you to win that and what it would mean. Seeing how far you've gotten ahead now with Lexi Thompson, how does it feel to be up there? Is that still the goal? Is it kind of focusing on winning that?
SO YEON RYU: This year, my goal is I never check the rookie points because it makes me crazy so I don't want to compare with Lexi and other players. I just want to keep thinking about my game or my golf.
But my mother always checks it, and I read about some articles, and I think this win is really huge and helps a lot of the rookie race.
Anyway, still my goal is Rookie of the Year. I don't want to compare it to anybody, I just want to keep thinking about my golf.Q. This is your first time in Portland, right?
SO YEON RYU: Yes.Q. Can you tell us what you think of this golf course?
SO YEON RYU: I think the golf course is really, really great. It's a little difficult. The course shape was perfect, but I heard the greens are really, really difficult at the moment. How can I say? Actually the last few years I watched the LPGA Tour. So this is my first time to play at this Pumpkin Ridge Golf Course, but I already know about a lot of holes because I watched it on TV.
So it feels like, oh, this hole is ‑‑ before, hole 18 looked not that difficult, but now I feel like that's a really difficult hole. Anyway, I love this golf course. It's a really great, and challenging course.Q. South Koreans have made a huge impact on the LPGA Tour. Why do you think that is?
SO YEON RYU: Everybody asks me, but it's really hard. First of all, a lot of Koreans are playing here, and we help each other out a lot. Especially Se Ri Pak already made footsteps for women here in the LPGA, so we're really following her steps. She makes it a lot easier for us.
These days a lot of American fans are still cheering the South Koreans. So this is not my country, but it feels like a lot of fans are supporting us and a lot of fans are cheering us, so I feel really comfortable.
The LPGA helps us a lot. And thanks for that to the LPGA. How can I say? I'm just a rookie on the LPGA Tour, so I can't tell a lot of things. But anyway, a lot of Koreans helped me a lot, so that's why I'm a little bit comfortable and I play well here.Q. There is some school of thought that Korean parents are getting you started very early and a little pushy, maybe pushier than American parents. Is that true? Were you more disciplined growing up?
SO YEON RYU: I think it depends on the parents. Especially my mother is not like that. Sometimes she calls me and you stop practicing. You're just going home or you just rest, kind of that. But I think it's not just the Korean way. I think it really depends on the family style and parents style. But I think Koreans practice hard. That's true, yeah.Q. There are so many South Korean women on the Tour, but on the PGA TOUR, not too many South Korean men. Why do you think that is?
SO YEON RYU: How can I say? The PGA TOUR is really, really tough, actually. And I guess the Asians are a little bit smaller than Western people. But also the ladies are a little bit smaller than the American or European, but I think the men there is a really huge gap. It's different than from women.
But I think still Korean men are getting improved. I feel like K.J. Choi is really playing great. Especially some young guys are really getting better.Q. I know you shared a story last week about when you were in contention and thinking about winning. You were trying not to focus too much on the win because of what you learned from one of your friends in the Olympics. You shared a story about what you learned from her experience in the Olympics?
SO YEON RYU: Yeah, she's a rhythm gymnastics player. And her name is Yeon Jae Son and she finished fifth actually. The first time she qualified for finals. For the Koreans, that's really huge. The rhythm gymnastics has a four part, the rhythm, ball, stick and hoop, and she finished first, and second one, she is third.
The third one is stick, but she dropped the stick, so that's why she finished fifth. After that, we had a little chat. She said to finish the second one, I'm thinking about the medal, so that's why I made a mistake. She said don't think about winning or the trophy. Just keep concentration on your ball and just thinking about your game.
So I learned from that. It helped me a lot. It's really tough, especially the final round is really tough thinking about other players. It's really hard, but I did, that's why I played really well. So now I have really big thanks for my friend.
Actually, she's four years younger than me, but she helped me a lot. So really, really big things for my friend. Now she's really a famous person in Korea, so I'm really happy with that. I can't wait to see her.Q. The Olympics, you wait every four years for, and next year you have another golf event, but what lesson did she teach you?
SO YEON RYU: Actually, we always have a tournament, especially we have a three stretch tournament and then two weeks off. But she just prepared for the Olympics during the four years. It's a really, really hard time. Especially she's training herself.
I travel with my mom, but still I think, oh, it's hard. It's hard playing in overseas countries. But even she is younger than me, but she's training herself and she lives alone in Russia, but she's still strong there. So I learned a lot from her.Q. I know this week you've got your swing coach out, Ian is out and Dave Stockton that you've been working with. How much does it help having them out here and what have you been working on even specifically in your swing?
SO YEON RYU: First of all, I'm really happy to spend the time with them after my winning. Actually, Ian said my swing was perfect. He saw it, but I think it's not perfect.
He always gives a lot of confidence to me. He said don't think about it technically. Just think about it and imagine your ball. He always said visualization is really important. So we just work on visualization on the range, and we work hard about hitting a shaped ball.
Still Dave said my putter is pretty great, but the problem is if I miss the putt, I miss a little on the low side. So he just said keep my head a little low, and then just match with the arms and bodies. They helped me a lot. Always helped me a lot, and gave me a lot of confidence. So I'm really happy to spend the time with them now.
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Paula Creamer into the interview room. Thank you so much for joining us today. First off, I know you just got finished playing in the Pro‑Am and got a chance to look at the golf course. Just some initial thoughts on how it looked out there?
PAULA CREAMER: It's by far the best I've seen this golf course in the shapewise and conditions. The greens are perfect. They're fast. They're just rolling really true. There is a lot of rough out there, there are no first cuts, so it's either fairway or rough. There are some dry spots out there, but overall, I think it's the best it's been.
It will be fun. It's been an interesting three days. I know it will be a hot one, so they'll have to put more water on the greens than I'm sure they would hope to to make it a little firmer. But I think it's going to come down to taking advantage of those par‑5s on 8, 9, and 10. Just trying to eliminate the bogeys, for sure.
MODERATOR: You had a really good finish here last year, finished fourth. Is this golf course one that suits your game? When you see it from the tee, is it one you know everybody talks about it suiting your eye?
PAULA CREAMER: It's funny. I missed the cut here, and I've finished fourth also. So it's kind of a little bit up in the air in that sense, but I do like this golf course. Also, it's giving yourself good looks at birdies with your irons and things like that. You know, there are holes where the longer players can hit driver, so it puts everybody into the same equal level playing field.
But I do, I do like it. I think that when you get on a roll out here you can start to make a lot of birdies, but it's only three days. So you really have to put yourself in contention after the first day.Q. Talking about your game in general. You've had some really strong finishes lately. The U.S. Women's Open you played well. You played well at Evian. How are you feeling about the state of your game coming into this week?
PAULA CREAMER: It's getting better. I'm still working on a lot of things. Kind of seems like when I'm working on my irons, I kind of lose it with my driver. When I'm working on my driver, I lose it with my irons.
Last week I didn't hit my irons well at all, and that's one of my strengths. I had a good up‑and‑down. And you play golf courses where you're going to make a lot of birdies and that's not a good thing. But overall, I feel really good. I'm healthy.
I have a really good outlook on when I go out on to the golf course. My attitude has been really good. I'm trying to get better every day, and hopefully something will click.Q. 12 of the top 30 money winners are from South Korea, 17 are from Asia. Why do you think that is? Is it a bad thing for the Tour from the United States standpoint spectatorwise?
PAULA CREAMER: Well, I mean, those are the numbers. They show it. There are just so many more people from south Korea that are out here. Definitely, we're a little bit outnumbered in a sense with the Americans or Europeans or what not.
But it's hard because when you're out on the golf course and you're talking to them, they're great people. It's just a cultural thing as well. I don't speak other languages, but I'm sure if you put a camera in my face and I was trying to speak Spanish or I'm learning Japanese, I'd be a little standoffish and scared also. But I think it's helping elevate our games. That's for sure.
They have the best demeanors on the golf course. It might not be fun for people to watch because they are so even keel out on the course. But just in general, I think it helps golf around the world, for sure. Obviously, we want to have Americans at the top of the board, and I'm very aware of that. Trust me. My number 1 goal is to be the number 1 American. That is something that I've always looked at. At the end of the year if I'm close to it, then I've done what I wanted to do.
At the same time, you can't control other people. I think it shows a lot about junior golf. Just America, in general, we need to get better with junior golf, and we need to be able to give these younger kids the opportunity to play this game.
Things like the First Tee and organizations and things at country clubs or even private or public courses have to be more involved in it, because that is the future of golf.Q. Do you consider yourself in a victory drought? It's been a few years, a couple of years.
PAULA CREAMER: I think about it every day, yes. It's been two years. Yeah, I do. It's hard. This has been by far the biggest struggle I've ever had to go against, and this is my 8th year out here. It's definitely been the hardest one for me, a lot of things going off and on the golf course.
I'm 26. Just dealing with life in itself, and trying to be the number 1 player in the world is hard. I kind of got away from it a little bit, and I've been just ‑‑ all I can do is work as hard as I can. I feel like once I get there, it's going to open up so many more doors. But getting there has been a little bit of the issue.
Q. Yani was talking yesterday about the slump that she's been in and the struggles that she's had over the past few months. She said that the next victory, when it comes, might be the sweetest of her career because of what she's gone through and realizing what it takes to get back in. Is that something you feel too whenever that next one comes?
PAULA CREAMER: I do feel that. It's hard because she's won how many times this year? So for her, her slump is only a couple of months. Mine's two years, that kind of thing.
But I do think it will be a sweet victory. I think it's everything from my thumb surgery to winning my first major, it was a lot. A lot of things people don't realize is it's not like you come right back. Your body goes through a lot after surgery, and it takes a while. Breaking down my golf swing and things like that, it's tough. It's hard to do something that your body won't let you do at the same time.
I feel great, and I feel like once it comes, it's going to be a matter of time. It's kind of what ends up happening is you do things that you're not necessarily planning on doing. You're changing your game plan and strategies and things like that to try to win, and that's not how I won before. I have to go back and look at how I've done that.Q. We were talking about some of the good finishes this season. It's like you get those glimpses of what it can be, and does that at least give you that motivation of all these changes that you're making are going to eventually be that payoff at the end?
PAULA CREAMER: I mean, motivation I have so much of that. That's never been the issue. I've always wanted it more than the next person. You know, the drive and the form of perfection. But the run that I made at Evian on my back nine was fun. It was exciting. Just feeling that in the moment and being there. And the U.S. Open after a National Championship, being in contention there. There is nothing better than that.
You know, Na Yeon Choi played fantastic on Saturday. You can't take that away from her. But being able to be put in that position was nice. It was a good taste again.Q. You talked about some of the things that you're going through right now. How much are you enjoying the game, and you've been coming to Oregon for a long time, how much do you enjoy it here?
PAULA CREAMER: The first one, losing my grandpa earlier this year was by far the hardest thing that I've ever had to go through. He was my number 1 fan and inspiration. He was the greatest person I've ever met in my life, and losing him has been has been very hard for me to deal with. Definitely going through all of that has made me realize what I have and enjoying what I do.
It's a game, and golf is a marathon, not a sprint. I have to remember that. But coming here, I had this little boy that's come out and watched me the last six, seven years. He was out there today and yesterday. He had his pink Panther shirt on. It's so nice to come to a place where they really love the LPGA and embrace the tournament, so I do look forward to coming to this spot every year.