Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola
Pumpkin Ridge Golf Course, Ghost Creek Golf Course
North Plains, Oregon
August 18, 2012
Second-round Notes and Interviews
Mika Miyazato -11, Rolex Rankings No. 19
So Yeon Ryu -9, Rolex Rankings No. 12
Cristie Kerr -8, Rolex Rankings No. 9
Inbee Park -8, Rolex Rankings No. 13
Yani Tseng -7, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Paula Creamer -7, Rolex Rankings No. 12
Fourth-year LPGA member Mika Miyazato (@mikachin1010) will try to become the sixth Rolex First-Time Winner of the 2012 season, as she carries a two-stroke lead into the final round of the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola (@SafewayClassic). Miyazato shot a bogey-free, 4-under 68 on Saturday on the Ghost Creek Golf Course at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Course outside of Portland, Ore. to give herself the 36-hole lead with only 18 holes remaining in the 54-hole event.
Trailing two shots behind Miyazato is LPGA Tour rookie So Yeon Ryu (@1soyeonryu), who will try to capture wins in back-to-back weeks after capturing a victory last week at the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic Presented by Kroger, Owens Corning and O-I.
Among the other players chasing Miyazato are 2008 champion Cristie Kerr (@CKGolferChic), who is three shots back and seeking her first victory in over two years, and Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng, who fired the low round of the day (5-under 67) and sits four back heading into Sunday.
Is this the week? Mika Miyazato has been knocking on the door for her first LPGA Tour victory in recent weeks and she’s once again put herself in position to perhaps finally earn that win.
Miyazato 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.
Now the 22-year-old will carry a two-shot lead into Sunday’s final round. So does she think that she’s ready to finally clinch the win?
“I’m always ready,” Miyazato said with a laugh.
“I have so much good experience the last four or five events,” she added. “But I don't know how much closer to win the tournament. I tried to focus on my golf game one shot at a time.”There have been five Rolex First-Time Winners on the LPGA Tour so far this season. Miyazato will try to join Jessica Korda, Azahara Munoz, Shanshan Feng, Brittany Lang, and So Yeon Ryu who all earned that distinction this year.
Ryu, who earned her first win as an LPGA member last week in Toledo, was paired with Miyazato for the first two rounds of the Safeway Classic. The two have known each other since they were young, having played for the South Korean and Japanese national teams respectively. And over the first two rounds, the two fed off each other’s strong play.
“It’s very good motivation for me,” Miyazato said of Ryu’s play.
Tight competition… While Mika Miyazato leads by two shots heading into Sunday’s final round of the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola, rookie So Yeon Ryu is hungry to keep a winning-streak after her win at last week’s Jamie Farr Toledo Classic.
Ryu admits she is still on cloud nine following her win last week, but she knows she needs to concentrate to pull out another win.
“I think it's really hard to keep focusing on my golf after my winning,” Ryu said. “But how I can say? Last week the tournament is already finished, so I'm just thinking about this week. That's why I played well, I think. And especially today I played really well. The front nine I shot 5-under on the front nine, but unfortunately the back nine I made one bogey, and I missed a lot of birdie putts. So today I finished at 4-under.
“I think my problem is I just missed a couple of utility shots. So I have to practice some of my utility and practice some putts. I'm ready to sink some putts tomorrow.”
With seemingly identical games so far this week in Portland, Miyazato and Ryu will pair up again for Sunday’s round. Ryu believes this pairing generates a perfectly friendly, yet tight competition.
“I think she's ready to make a win,” Ryu said of Miyazato’s performance this year. “But I think the problem is golf is a mental game. So I think the final round gave a lot of pressure for her, but I think she can make it pretty soon. But I want to make another win after this week. So I want to make a great competition with her.”
Back on Track? Yani Tseng was asked to sum up her round of 5-under-par 67 on Saturday and her answer was likely what many others thought when they saw the score from the No. 1 player in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.
“It’s been a long time,” Tseng said with a smile.
Tseng fired her first sub-70 round in more than two months during Saturday’s second round of the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola. Her 67 moved her into a T6 at 7-under-par and she will head into Sunday’s final round sitting four shots behind leader, Mika Miyazato. It was her lowest round since she shot 67 in the second round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic on June 2.
Coming off two straight missed cuts at the Evian Masters and the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic Presented by Kroger, Owens Corning and O-I, Tseng said that she looked to Rory McIlroy’s victory at last week’s PGA Championship as inspiration.
“He had four missed cuts in a row, I only have two, so I'm better off than he was,” Tseng said. “But he's just trying to forget about everything, and just go out there and try to do the best that he can. I watched his interview before I played. He was saying this is the thing that he always do when he was a kid, so there is [no reason] to put more pressure and be hard on yourself. Just be more relaxed and enjoy every shot that you can.
“He said when you play good, it's always easy to do it. But when you're playing bad, it's very hard to do. I just feel like my vacation is finished. I had a two month vacation the last couple months, so I feel that's long enough for me. I need to get back as quick as possible and enjoy the golf course.”
In the hunt…Cristie Kerr didn’t have her best day on the golf course on Saturday, tallying four birdies and two bogeys en route to a 2-under 70. But the 14-time winner on the LPGA Tour still finds herself in contention at 8-under-par, as she’s three shot back of leader Mika Miyazato. So she’ll have a chance to end her two-year winless drought heading into Sunday’s final round.
‘Not to call it that, but it's Cristie Kerr golf,” she said of her play Saturday. “Even when I haven't played my best, I still shoot 2- to 3-under and give myself a chance, and I've done that. Typically the winner of this tournament shoots low for the win on Sunday. So that's what's going to have to be done.”
Kerr, who won this event back in 2008 when it was still played at Columbia Edgewater, knows that it will likely take a fair number of birdies in the final round to capture the win. Last year, Suzann Pettersen came from nine shots back to capture the win after shooting an 8-under 64 on Sunday. So does Kerr have a specific number in her mind to shoot on Sunday?
“You can kind of predict what the winning score will be because the weather's going to be good,” Kerr said. “It's going to be pretty much like this tomorrow, so I think at least 14- or 15-under would probably win. So she's at 11 right now. She's played good, but it's golf. It's sport. You can't predict it. So I'm just going to try to go out and shoot as low as I can.”
Six and counting… Although she’s typically one of the more silent players on Tour, Inbee Park seems to be making a name for herself this season. With six top-10 finishes in the last six events, including her second career win at the Evian Masters Presented by Societe Generale, the six-year veteran is certain that she can keep the streak going.
“I feel really confident, especially after the win at Evian, and I think my game is going well right now,” Park said. “So it's just time to play good. I'm really happy with the way I'm playing right now.”
Park posted a tie for 12th at the 54-hole ShopRite LPGA Classic event just before her stretch of top-10s, but now that she’s got her game straight she knows what it takes to finish well at the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola.
“You've got to play good all three days to win out here,” Park said. “You've really got to push yourself to put up good scores on the three days, because it's one day shorter.”
Sticking around for Sunday…A total of 76 players made the cut, which fell at 3-over-par 147
Quotable: “It feels good to be sitting here, talking to you guys too, having an interview after I played. I mean, I haven't been in the unt for a long time already. So it's always good. I still feel there is a long way to go this year. We have so many tournaments. I just feel good right now.” – Yani Tseng after her round of 67
Of Note…Defending champion Suzann Pettersen shot her second consecutive round of 1-under 71 and sits in a T26 at 2-under-par…Laura Diaz eagled the par-4 7th hole as she holed out from 158 yards…Co-first-round leader Sydnee Michaels shot an even-par 72 on Saturday and the LPGA Tour rookie sits in a T5 at 7-under-par.
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Mika Miyazato into the interview room. Congratulations, a 12-under par put you at the top of the leaderboard. Early in the day, take me through the round today and what was working well for you out there.
MIKA MIYAZATO: I had so much good today also, because I had bogey-free round today. My second shot was very well. But I had so much frustration on the putting on the front nine, but I made three birdies on the back nine.
THE MODERATOR: So it went well. I asked So Yeon about this too, but the weather was so different today than yesterday. How did that change things for you at all going from the extreme heat of yesterday to playing in the afternoon, to the cool, overcast today?
MIKA MIYAZATO: Yesterday was so much hot. I played afternoon tee times, but today was very cold and more heavy so cold. And half club was different compared to yesterday. So I tried to think more half shots and quarter shots I hit.Q. Playing with So Yeon who has also been playing well, she said you guys have known each other for a long time playing on National Teams when you were on the Japanese National Team and she was on the Korean National Team. How much fun is it when you're playing with someone who is shooting that well too? Do you guys feed off of each other and kind of both get on a roll at the same time?
MIKA MIYAZATO: When I was 16 years old, 17 years old I played her, but she's very consistent. I almost everywhere made a birdie. I got on the green. So I played the last two days, but she's played pretty good the last two days also. But she made five birdies on the front nine, so...
THE MODERATOR: Did that get you motivated to do well on the back nine when you saw how well she was doing on the front nine?
MIKA MIYAZATO: Yes, it's very good motivation for me. Yes.
THE MODERATOR: You've put together such a great string of golf over the past couple of months. We talked about how well you played at Shoprite and Wegmans and had you some runner-up finishes in there. When you come so close over the past few months to a victory, what have you learned from that? How close do you think you are to capturing that first victory on the LPGA?
MIKA MIYAZATO: I have so much good experience the last four or five events. But I don't know how much closer to win the tournament. I tried to focus on my golf game one shot at a time, so I don't know.
Q. Are you getting more comfortable with your name up there at the top of the leaderboard because you've been there so often over the past few weeks?
MIKA MIYAZATO: Much better comfortable.
Q. You're ready to win now?
MIKA MIYAZATO: I'm always ready (laughing).
Q. You and Ai are friends, right?
MIKA MIYAZATO: Yes.
Q. When you see how well and how many times she wins, how do you react to that when she's doing well?
MIKA MIYAZATO: I think it's good motivation also. I tried to more focus on my game. I'm really --
THE MODERATOR: I'm sure there is a lot of respect level between the two of you. And how long have you known Ai and how long have you two competed against each other? Was there always -- I know you guys get a lot of questions if you're related or if you're sisters. But how long have you two known each other and how long have you played against each other?
MIKA MIYAZATO: How long? When I was 10 years old. I'm 22, so 12 years.
THE MODERATOR: Did people always ask if you guys were related? In Japan do you get asked that or is it just here in the U.S. when you're asked all the time?
MIKA MIYAZATO: No, everybody asks me. "Oh, you are Ai's sister?" Always.
THE MODERATOR: Do you take it as a respect question? Are you trying to get into your own? Are you hoping people start to recognize you as Mika and for all of your success and not relate you to Ai, or does that not bother you?
MIKA MIYAZATO: No, I don't care. It's okay. I think everybody knows Ai, so I don't know if somebody knows me, I don't know. But I think it's lucky. Same last name, just different first name.
Q. Yani Tseng has struggled recently but she shot a 67 today to put herself up near the top of the leaderboard. Does it change anything seeing Yani’s name on the leaderboard chasing behind you?
MIKA MIYAZATO: I saw her struggling recently. But I am to her coming from behind me, and it makes me more motivated. I'm really happy to see her playing good this week. Yes, a good friend.
So Yeon Ryu, Rolex Rankings No. 12
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome So Yeon Ryu to the interview room. Congratulations, another great round out there today following up on your victory from last week. Putting together two more solid rounds. What's been the key to you carrying on that success from last week into this week?
SO YEON RYU: I think it's really hard to keep focusing on my golf after my winning. But how I can say? Last week the tournament is already finished, so I'm just thinking about this week. That's why I played well, I think. And especially today I played really well. The front nine I shot 5-under on the front nine, but unfortunately the back nine I made one bogey, and I missed a lot of birdie putts. So today I finished at 4-under.
I think my problem is I just missed a couple of utility shots. So I have to practice some of my utility and practice some putts. I'm ready to sink some putts tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: The weather out there was quite different from what we had yesterday. We went from 100° to 60-something today and overcast. How much did that change how the golf course is playing?
SO YEON RYU: I think this is the LPGA, so I totally understand it. Yesterday and today the weather was a really big difference, especially the distance control was a little bit too hard.
Even hole 9, yesterday I hit the driver and the 24-degree utility, but today I hit driver and 3-wood and it was still a little short.
It's quite a big, different temperature, so hard to keep warm my body. I think it's just a distance issue.
THE MODERATOR: I know you and Mika played well yesterday and once again you both put together a solid round today. Is it one of those things where when one of your playing partners is playing well, you feed off of that and both start playing well?
SO YEON RYU: Actually, the last few years I didn't play with Mika. But yesterday and today I played with Mika. Still she's a really great putter and she hits so straight. She never misses the right or left side. It's really exciting to play with Mika. It's really great competition. I think tomorrow I'll have the chance to play with Mika again, but I just want to really enjoy with Mika.
THE MODERATOR: You talked about with her consistency and how great she's been up there. She's very close to winning over the past few months. She seems to be in the Top 10 every week. What is it that impresses you about her golf game?
SO YEON RYU: I think she's ready to make a win. But I think the problem is the golf is a mental game. So I think the final round gave a lot of pressure for her, but I think she can make it pretty soon. But I want to make another win after this week. So I want to make a great competition with her.
Q. You’ve had so many birdies over the past two weeks. What are thinking when you get on such a roll?
SO YEON RYU: I'm just thinking about each hole. Not thinking about the whole round or something like that. Especially my iron shots, distance control is really great, so I made a lot of birdie chances.
But today I just was trouble a little bit with the green speed. Actually, last week, the green speed was not that fast, but this week the green speed is really, really fast. And today the weather is really cool, so it feels a little faster than yesterday. The key is to control the speed on the green.
Anyway, I think my good thing is distance control on my iron shots.
Q. Captured a win last week. What will it take to win another one?
SO YEON RYU: Hopefully. I don't know another low round, but the more important thing is just focusing on my game. I don't want to think about the results. It's not great to do that, actually. I already really know about that, so I just want to keep thinking about each hole and each shot.
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Cristie Kerr into the interview room. Congratulations, another solid round, 2-under par today, sitting near the top of the leaderboard. Take me through the day and what was working well for you?
CRISTIE KERR: I made a good birdie on 2. And I hit a couple of putts that would not drop. Made bogey on 6 and was able to birdie 9, 10, and 11. So I got to 3-under on the day, and I just kind of hit a little bit of a road block from a momentum standpoint.
I three-putted the 14th hole. When I thought I made the par putt, I kind of left that on the low side. And again, I kind of had some putts that could have fallen coming in. But I made a good par save on 17, so it will be good momentum going into tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Just to put yourself in position, like you said, some things didn't go right today, but to find yourself near the top with a chance to win on Sunday, what's that feeling like again? I know you've been feeling good about your game. But to put yourself in that position has got to feel pretty good.
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, not to call it, but it's Cristie Kerr golf. Even when I haven't played my best, I still shoot 2- to 3-under and give myself a chance, and I've done that. Typically the winner of this tournament shoots low for the win on Sunday. So that's what's going to have to be done.
Q. You're a past winner here in 2008, not on this golf course, but do you have good feelings coming back to an event you've won and knowing what you have to do on Sunday?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, definitely. I won at Columbia Edgewater, and I love that golf course. This is a spectacular golf course as well. I've come close here a number of times and I'm looking forward to tomorrow and letting it all hang out.
Q. Did you have a target number or a score you feel you need to shoot to win on Sunday?
CRISTIE KERR: I think tomorrow you kind much have to. You can kind of predict what the winning score will be because the weather's going to be good. It's going to be pretty much like this tomorrow, so I think at least 14- or 15-under would probably win.
So she's at 11 right now. So she's played good, but it's golf. It's sport. You can't predict it. So I'm just going to try to go out and shoot as low as I can.
Q. Also, what do you know about Mika Miyazato’s game?
CRISTIE KERR: I think I know her game about as well as anybody else's. I tend to try to pay attention to my own game more. But she's a pretty straight player. She doesn't miss a lot of fairways, you know, a streaky putter. So hopefully I'll get streaky tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Great finish today. It's got to feel pretty good coming into the third round pretty much at the leaderboard. What was working well for to you day?
INBEE PARK: I mean, everything was okay today. I didn't hit the ball as great as yesterday, but I think I putted a little better than yesterday. The scoring wasn't as good as yesterday, but I'm really happy with the way I putted today and where I am on the leaderboard.
I still have 18 more holes to play tomorrow, so I'll just go out there and shoot as low a number as I can tomorrow and see what happens.Q. You've got to be feeling pretty good coming off a win a couple weeks ago. So what would this win mean to you after that one?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I mean, I feel really confident after the win at Evian, and I think my game is going well right now. So it's just time to play good.
I'm really happy with the way I'm playing right now.
Q. Is there a huge difference between this week which is a three-day tournament whereas almost every other tournament is four days? What do you think is the big difference?
INBEE PARK: I think three-day events there is just no time to say, okay. You've got to play good all three days to win out here. You've really got to push yourself to put up good scores on the three days, because it's one day shorter.
Yani Tseng, Rolex Rankings No. 1
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Rolex Rankings No. 1, Yani Tseng, into the interview room. Congratulations, a great 5-under round for you today. I know we've talked a lot about the struggles over the past few months. How great was it to be able to go out there today and put together a round like this following what was a solid round yesterday?
YANI TSENG: It's been a long time. I haven't shot like 5-under for a couple months. It feels great. I wasn't worried about anything. I wasn't worried if I was going to shoot under par or not. I just felt like I'm going to enjoy every shot out there. I'm going to have so much fun, doesn't matter how I played.
And I couldn't ask for a better group that I had. It's just so much fun. They kept me relaxed all the time, and it's just great. My game seems like it's coming back, and I'm hitting so many good shots just like before. This is a game I love, and I really appreciate everything.
THE MODERATOR: Yesterday and today, what was the biggest difference for you in being able to put together these back-to-back rounds and make so many birdies?
YANI TSENG: I think Rory winning the PGA Championship gave me a lot of inspiration. He had four missed cuts in a row, I only have two, so I'm better off than he was. But he's just trying to forget about everything, and just go out there and try to do the best that he can.
I watched his interview before I played. He was saying this is the thing that he always do when he was a kid, so there is nothing to put more pressure and be hard on yourself. Just be more relaxed and enjoy every shot that you can.
He said when you play good, it's always easy to do it. But when you're playing bad, it's very hard to do. I just feel like my vacation is finished. I had a two month vacation the last couple months, so I feel that's long enough for me. I need to get back as quick as possible and enjoy the golf course.
THE MODERATOR: Now seeing yourself back up on the first page of the leaderboard must be pretty good.
YANI TSENG: It's awesome. It feels good to be sitting here, talking to you guys too, having an interview after I played. I mean, I haven't been in the unt for a long time already. So it's always good.
I still feel there is a long way to go this year. We have so many tournaments. I just feel like good right now.Q. Stacy Lewis is now leading the Money List and the Rolex Player of the Year Points. Does that give you motivation to try and catch her?
YANI TSENG: I don't know. I didn't think about that, because I think those things give me more pressure. When I look at those things, I just feel like I play for that, but I'm not playing for that. I play for what I love. I play for myself and what I want. What can I do to win the tournament? I love winning tournaments. I don't think there is anything that I need to think about to give myself motivation, because I think we need a tournament and being on the Tour I'm having so much fun here that it's my motivation to play well.
Q. What do you have to do tomorrow to win?
YANI TSENG: I'm 5 shots back, so on this course, you can make a lot of birdies here. Today I could make more birdies if I dropped a couple more putts, but there is always something you can improve.
But I feel I'm getting back. I can get back slowly. I don't have to win this week. I can play well tomorrow and maybe next week I'll win, but you never know. I don't want to rush, because I feel like I'm too rushed and it gets worse. So I'll play step by step and one shot at a time and do the best I can tomorrow.
Q. You threw the ball in the water on No. 9 after you settled for a three-putt par to finish your day. Was that a sign of that competitive fire coming back?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, of course, I mean, especially the numbers at five. I treat that as a long par-4, so I feel like I made bogey over there, because it's a reachable second shot. I only hit a 4-iron there. Like today, my speed was always off. I've been hitting so many putts past the hole, so I think it's just a speed problem. Maybe I'm too aggressive to try to make eagle there, but it was like a 25-yard putt. So I was thinking of making two-putt, but it just didn't go where I wanted. But I'm still in a good position. I'm looking forward to tomorrow and making more putts.
Q. Why don’t you sign golf balls?
YANI TSENG: It was before when I signed a ball, they sell it online. So when I go online, I said why are you selling my ball? I mean, I don't like that. If you really want it, you should keep it. If I want it, I won't sell it or make money off of it. Because if I love that player, I won't do it. But there are some balls that are kind of very important to us here.
Q. But you are willing to sign almost anything else?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I would be happy to sign that. I used to sign balls before, but after that thing happened I just don't really do it. But I can sign anything else.
Q. Do you feel like you missed some opportunities out there today?
YANI TSENG: No, not really. I mean, 9 is one shot. Everything else, I made a lot of putts today. I made lots like four feet and five feet to make birdie and save par. So I feel like I played good today. I don't think there are that many shots that I left out there.
On number 10, because that's our first hole, and it's kind of cold so we're hitting shorter. But it was like a regular par-5 last year.
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Paula Creamer into the interview room. Congratulations, a solid round, 3-under par today. You find yourself right up there near the top of the leaderboard again. Take me through the day out there and what was working well?
PAULA CREAMER: I didn't miss many greens, only a couple. I hit all on the back, and maybe missed one or two on the front. Just gave myself opportunities. Couldn't really make any putts out there. I wanted to finish around 9 or 10. That was my goal. I didn't quite get there, but it is what it is.
I seemed to keep progressing and have to continue doing what I've been working on on the range. I know the putts will fall, so just see what happens tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Just a few weeks ago we saw you in contention on the back side on Sunday at the Evian Masters. How much is that experience and getting those juices flowing again and that run you can put yourself on going to help you tomorrow as you look to do the same thing again?
PAULA CREAMER: Well, nobody wants it more than I do, that's for sure. I love the feeling of pressure. I love striving to be the best and trying to chase someone down is what I like to do. Hopefully I can start off strong on the big part of the golf course, 8, 9, and 10. I hope to do well on a couple of those three holes and who knows what will happen.
This golf course, if you get a little bit too far ahead of yourself, you never know what's going to happen. So you have to pick and choose where you can be aggressive. The other holes you just take your pars and move on. However, I'm pretty far. Where am I? 4-back, so it's not terrible, but I'm going to have to shoot a low number tomorrow.
Q. Talking to Cristie, she said she expects to see low numbers tomorrow just the way this golf course is playing. Have you set a number in your mind what you think you're going to have to hit?
PAULA CREAMER: I would say I'd have to shoot around 7-under to give myself a chance. You wake up in the morning, and you never know what's going to happen. The biggest thing I think is you're playing in the afternoon. The greens aren't quite as pure in the morning. Some people are 5, 6 behind, and you're going to have a little bit more. You can go low in the morning.
It's going to kind of play a key factor going into the back nine, but you can't control everybody else. You just have to go out and do your own thing.Q. With what happened to Lexi on No. 17, how do you handle that situation and how to do
PAULA CREAMER: That's golf. It happens to everybody. You never want to see that. As a golfer, you never want to watch somebody struggle and this and that. It's not a fun thing. We've all been there. You have to try to stay in your own world. Probably I should have sat down a little earlier. I was reading my putt a little bit too much. And it doesn't happen often, so it's also kind of a learning experience for me too.
I'll know what to do next time, but it's tough, especially on the 17th hole. You don't want that to happen to anybody.