Kingsmill Championship Pre-Tournament Notes and Interviews

Photo Credit: Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Cristie Kerr gets sprayed with Michelob Ultra after winning the Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill Resort on May 10, 2009 in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Kingsmill Championship
Kingsmill Resort, The River Course
Williamsburg, Va.
September 5, 2012
Pre-Tournament Notes and Interviews

Ai Miyazato, Rolex Rankings No. 5
Cristie Kerr, Rolex Rankings No. 10
Lexi Thompson, Rolex Rankings No. 26
Marcela Leon, Big Break Atlantis Champion

Williamsburg, Va., is back on the map for the LPGA Tour as it welcomes a 144-player field competing for a $1.3 million purse at the Kingsmill Championship. The River Course was previously home to the Michelob ULTRA Kingsmill Championship, which was founded in 2003 and was on the tournament schedule for seven years.  After a two-year break, it returns for the 2012 season and will be final stop before the Tour heads over to the United Kingdom for the season’s final Major.

Rolex Rankings No. 10 Cristie Kerr, the 2005 and 2009 Michelob ULTRA at Kingsmill Champion, is the most recent winner at vaunted River Course at Kingsmill Resort. She opened with rounds of 69, 63, and 66 but was in a four-way tie for the lead before a birdie on 15 in the final round pulled her ahead. She closed with a 1-under 70 to finish at 16-under 268, just one stroke ahead of I.K.  Kim. Kerr returns to the course looking to earn her fifth top-10 finish of the season with includes a T4 at the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola, T9 at the U.S. Women’s Open, T4 at the LPGA Lotte Championship Presented by J Golf and T6 at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup.

Others slated to be in the field this week include the CN Canadian Women’s Open runner-up Inbee Park and Rolex Rankings No. 2 Stacy Lewis.

Is this the week? There has been plenty of excitement building as the LPGA returns to the Kingsmill Resort for the first time since 2009. But perhaps no one has looked forward to this event being back on the Tour’s schedule more than two-time champion Cristie Kerr (@CKGolferChic).

“I've got great memories here and I stay with a great family, the Wickers, and it's such a great time,” said Kerr. “The golf course is one of my favorites, it's about my favorite on Tour, and I've just got good feelings all around when I come here.”

Kerr won the Michelob ULTRA at Kingsmill in 2005 and in 2009, the last year an LPGA tournament was held here. Still the 14-time LPGA Tour winner comes back to the event having not captured a victory in over two years. Kerr’s last win came at the 2010 LPGA Championship Presented by Wegmans and she’s eager to find a way to get back in the winner’s circle.

Could being back at a place where she’s won multiple times provide a little extra energy boost for Kerr as she chases that goal.

“I think it does,” she said. “I felt that walking around the golf course today.  Yeah, I want to win really bad.  It's getting to the point where okay, it's time for one.  I'm doing everything in my power to do it, you know, it's just got to happen now.”

It Feels Like Home… Ai Miyazato might call Okinawa, Japan home but the six-year LPGA Tour veteran feels right at home in Virginia this week for the Kingsmill Championship. Miyazato has an impressive resume at the Kingsmill Championship where she finished sixth in 2007 and ninth in 2009.

“First of all, it's nice to be back here, I just love this golf course and I just missing this tournament really bad,” said Miyazato. “I feel really happy to be here.  The golf course is in good shape and I had a practice round yesterday and the day before, and I played pro‑am today.  The greens are beautiful.  The course is in good shape.  It's really fun to play.”

Historically the Kingsmill Championship has always attracted a large crowd due to the tremendous support of the surroundings communities and according to Miyazato, this is one of her favorite aspects of the week.

“Like I said, I love the tournament atmosphere, the always‑good crowds and the tournament is really organized,” said Miyazato. “It's just so many great things.  I know so many great things about this tournament, so that's why I miss this so much.”

Another thing that makes the Kingsmill Championship popular amongst LPGA Tour players is Busch Gardens which is located just outside the gates of the Kingsmill Resort. While many players have already visited the popular theme park this week, you probably won’t find Miyazato there as she is admittedly afraid of heights.

“I should say Busch Gardens, but I'm scared of heights,” said Miyazato when asked if she had visited the theme park. “I'm not really a big fan of roller coaster, unfortunately.  As I said, it's always fun to be here, even I'm scared of heights, I would love to go to Busch Gardens, too.  I just love this place's atmosphere.  It's really fun.”

Social Butterfly… Despite spending countless hours on the golf course and in the gym preparing to compete on the LPGA Tour, Lexi Thompson (@Lexi) always finds time to interact with her fans via Twitter or Facebook.

“It's really important to me,” said Thompson. “I mean, I love interacting with my fans, especially on the golf course.  They take time out of their day, so I might as well give time back and just get to know them a little bit more.”

Unlike your average 17-year-old, Thompson has an impressive 26,488 followers and the majority of her 5,466 tweets are devoted to responding to fans or expressing her gratitude to the latest tournament. Thompson takes full advantage of the opportunity to update her fans on her tee-times and encourages them to come watch her play.

“Yeah, I feel really connected with my fans,” said Thompson. “Twitter, Facebook, now Instagram, it's great.  I mean, you get to interact with them.  Just to get to see them out here and tell them to come watch you play and let them know when you're teeing off and everything, so it's amazing.”


Lean on Me… This week has been a bit of an adjustment for Marcela Leon who gained entry into this week’s Kingsmill Championship after her win on Golf Channel’s Big Break Atlantis. Leon devotes the majority of her time playing on the Symetra Tour and has had to adapt quickly to the ins-and-outs of playing on the LPGA.

Known amongst her peers for her contagious smile and outgoing personality, Leon has had to rely on close friends Jacqui Concolino and Lisa Ferrero this week to show her the ropes.

“When I got here on Monday, I pretty much didn't know what to do.  Little by little, I started seeing familiar faces,” said Leon. “I just asked them and they were very, very nice. You know, I saw several people that used to play with me on Symetra in 2004, 2005, they were very helpful. Jacqui Concolino, I've known her actually from this year down in Florida in the winter and she's like, ‘Whatever you need, give me a call.’  Lisa Ferrero, the same thing.  So they've been very nice.” 

Leon appeared on the Big Break Atlantis series where she defeated fellow Symetra Tour member Selanee Henderson 5&4 in the final match to take home a variety of luxurious prizes including a sponsor’s  exemption into the Kingsmill Championship, an endorsement contract with Adams Golf and a return trip to Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas. During Wednesday’s pre-tournament press conference, Leon admitted her appearance on Big Break Atlantis was a once in a lifetime experience.

“Well, that experience was pretty much once in a lifetime,” said Leon. “You know, when I got the call, I was very happy and I got the chills pretty much.  That's pretty much how I feel right now.  It's my first LPGA event in a long time.  I'll pretty much do my best and enjoy the opportunity.”

After this week, Leon will turn her attention back to the Symetra Tour where she will play the remaining three tournaments on the 2012 schedule. This year, Leon recorded a season-best tied for 26th finish at the Northeast Delta Dental International in Concord, N.H.

“I'm actually really excited about it,” said Leon. “I can't wait to go to Charlotte. I know the community, the sponsors are very excited to have us there. Then we go to Vidalia, Georgia.  I played there last year and that community is excited to have us there.  They have great onions, and I tried them, they're amazing.  And the golf course, it's a great layout.  And then we'll be back in Daytona.  Definitely looking forward to playing there just because I'll be hopefully playing final stage there and it's a great venue.  It's the last tournament of the season and I'm really excited to be part of the last three events.”


Quotable: “It's getting harder to win every year.  I've been close a lot the last couple years, especially last year, and haven't gotten that win.  It seems like once I get it, the flood gates could open because I just feel like that little extra bit of confidence to know, hey, I got it done again, will help.  You have to be on your game, you can't have a bad round, you can't have a bad stretch of holes if you're going to win a golf tournament out here now.” – Cristie Kerr


Of Note…Symetra Tour members Alexandra Casi and Whitney Neuhauser both secured spots into this week’s field via the Monday qualifier. Casi fired a 2-under par 69 while Neuhauser shot an even-par 71 and survived a three-way playoff with Sue Kim and Tracy Stanford to secure the final spot in the field.


Ai Miyazato, Rolex Rankings No. 5

MODERATOR:  I would like to welcome Ai Miyazato into the interview room.  Ai, thanks for joining us.

AI MIYAZATO:  Thank you.

MODERATOR:  This is the first time the LPGA's been back in Kingsmill since 2009.  You have a pretty good record here; you finished 9th in 2009 and 6th in 2007. Can you just talk a little bit about how your game suits this golf course?

AI MIYAZATO:  First of all, it's nice to be back here, I just love this golf course and I just missing this tournament really bad.  I feel really happy to be here.  The golf course is in good shape and I had a practice round yesterday and the day before, and I played pro‑am today.  The greens are beautiful.  The course is in good shape.  It's really fun to play.

MODERATOR:  Do you have any favorite spots to go outside of Kingsmill and Williamsburg?  Do you go to Busch Gardens?

AI MIYAZATO:  I should say Busch Gardens, but I'm scared of heights.  I'm not really a big fan of roller coaster, unfortunately.  As I said, it's always fun to be here, even I'm scared of heights, I would love to go to Busch Gardens, too.  I just love this place's atmosphere.  It's really fun.

MODERATOR:  You won twice this year already and Mika won once.  Can you just talk about what that's done for golf in Japan?

AI MIYAZATO:  I think that was huge.  Mika did a great job in Portland.  I think she deserve it because she's been playing really solid last couple months.  I know her since when we were little, so I feel like she's not my relative but feels like, you know, she's like my little sister, so I was really happy.  And I'm sure that all the golf fans in Japan were really happy, too.

MODERATOR:  You're ranked 2nd on Tour in rounds under par and 5th in scoring average.  You're one of the most consistent players on Tour and I know that you said you rely heavily on your short game and accuracy.  Has that played a big part in your consistency?

AI MIYAZATO:  Oh, definitely.  I'm not long hitter so I usually practicing really hard with the putting and chipping.  That's really important for my game.  So far I'm just really enjoying my game and I enjoy my life, so that's why I think I've been playing really consistent.  Last month it was a little bit rough for me, but like I said, it's always nice to be back here, so I feel really good right now, so looking forward to playing this weekend.

Q.  Ai, when you were out there the last few holes of the Safeway Classic following Mika, she has seen you win quite often and you have seen her come close so often.  As good as a friend as she is to you, what were the emotions like as you were watching her trying to get that first win, and then when you knew she had it on 18?

AI MIYAZATO:  Well, I walked the last couple holes, 17 and 18, but I watched her birdie putt on 17 and it make me really nervous, more than when I play.  I was like a little bit shaking, but seemed like she was really calm and she really trusted herself. 

She played really well on 18, too, because 18 was really tough finishing hole.  I was just really happy.  Like almost not more than I win the tournament, but it's like almost the same feeling that I had.  Like I said, I know her when she was little, so it's been over 10 years and we practicing together in Okinawa, which is where I'm from.  We had a great time when we were little, so I was just really happy for her.

MODERATOR:  Has she gone to you at all for advice a lot when she first came out to the LPGA Tour

AI MIYAZATO:  No, not at all.  She know herself really well, so she doesn't need my advice or anything.  It's been four years, it's been four years since she jumped on this Tour and kind of took her time to get her first win.  It's like I did the same things, too.  When I won Evian, that was like fourth year on the LPGA Tour, so we're having the same time.  So I really feel that what she's feeling right now, so that's why I think I felt like really happy about her.  It was really a joy to watch her game.

Q.  You said you missed this tournament, you missed playing at Kingsmill.  Can you elaborate on that a little bit?  What did you miss about it, and now that you're back, does it come back up to your expectations?

AI MIYAZATO:  The first, I really love this golf course because it's always really green, if you know what I mean.  It's not brown and it's always in good shape.  The greens are really smooth and the fairways are pretty wide.  I love this nature here, so that's why I missed this tournament. 

Like I said, I love the tournament atmosphere, the always‑good crowds and the tournament is really organized.  Very convenient, this tournament.  If you want to go to the Busch Gardens after you have bad day or something, you can have a refreshed time.  It's just so many great things.  I know so many great things about this tournament, so that's why I miss this so much. 

Now I'm here, and like she was explaining about '09 and '07, I finished up there and I have great memories, so hopefully on Sunday I can get a trophy from this tournament.

Cristie Kerr, Rolex Rankings No. 10

MODERATOR:  All right.  We would like to welcome Cristie Kerr into the interview room.  Thanks so much for joining us today.  I know this is a special place for you.  Everybody's been talking all week about how excited they are to be back here at Kingsmill.  As the two‑time defending champion here, what does it mean for you to be back here?

CRISTIE KERR:  I think nobody's looked forward to it more than me.  I've got great memories here and I stay with a great family, the Wickers, and it's such a great time.  The golf course is one of my favorites, it's about my favorite on Tour, and I've just got good feelings all around when I come here.

MODERATOR:  You got to be out on the golf course today and the past couple days.  What are your initial thoughts on it coming back and how does it look out there?

CRISTIE KERR:  It looks good.  They got a lot of rain on Saturday and Sunday.  It's started to dry out.  Hopefully, we won't get a lot of rain tonight, which they're calling for. 

The golf course is a lot more Bermuda dominant as far as the grass than I remember, but it's probably the different time of the year.  The course is good.  The greens are starting to get a little faster, a little bit more smooth, and they should be better by tomorrow.

MODERATOR:  I know we talked about that elusive win that seems to be just kind of ‑‑ you've come so close over the past couple years but just haven't gotten it.  How are you feeling about your game heading into this week, and when you do come back to a place where you've won multiple times, does it kind of give you that little bit of that extra adrenaline, that little rush that it's a good feeling on this golf course?

CRISTIE KERR:  I think it does.  I felt that walking around the golf course today.  Yeah, I want to win really bad.  It's getting to the point where okay, it's time for one.  I'm doing everything in my power to do it, you know, it's just got to happen now.

Q.  (Inaudible)... leadership with Mike Whan.  Was just curious how you would evaluate what two‑plus years under his guidance as the Tour is coming back to places like Toledo and here.

CRISTIE KERR:  I think he's doing a great job.  He's very open with the players as far as what he's trying to accomplish, what irons are in the fire, what he's trying to do to build the Tour. 

We're still in a really bad economy.  I think this election in November is going to really kind of tell whether we're going to recover or whether we're still going to be going down the same track, but nobody can predict what's going to happen.  He's done great with the relationships we have with sponsors and we're starting to add some new tournaments.  We knew it was going to be three to five years and everybody seems pretty happy with him. 

Q.  Cristie, was it stunning to lose this tournament considering it seemed to be one of the healthiest, one of the most popular, or was that just a sign of the times when the economy started going bad?

CRISTIE KERR:  Well, I think it was part economy and part, you know, InBev bought Anheuser‑Busch and their corporate culture is a lot different than Anheuser‑Busch's and they just didn't seem to think that a few million dollars to do this tournament was kind of in their strike zone, so we lost the tournament. 

Xanterra's done a great job.  They're a very good company.  All the members around Kingsmill are talking about all the positive changes they're seeing in Kingsmill with the restaurants or with the facilities they're building over by the river.  Xanterra is a very economic, organic, they're very conscious about the environment and that's good for us, especially golfers playing so much golf with all the fertilizers and different things.  Xanterra's a good company.  They're in a lot of the national parks and they're very environmentally savvy, so that's a good image for us and a good sponsor and we're really happy to be back.

Q.  Cristie, you mentioned Bermuda dominance.  What other differences, if any, do you see being here at the end of summer as opposed to in spring?

CRISTIE KERR:  It's a lot hotter.  I had to change my shirt before I came in here.  They've lengthened a couple holes.  They've lengthened the 1st hole, the 15th hole, 7, and 9's playing really long because it's playing into the wind.  The course is playing longer, obviously it's really wet, it's playing a lot longer.  Usually we see a little bit more hard and fast golf course here and that's not what we have this time.  We've had a little wind today, so hopefully it dries out a bit.  They're calling for a little bit more rain tonight, so I'm not expecting to really see it dry out a lot for the rest of the week.

Q.  I think there have been seven first‑time winners on Tour in just 18 tournaments this year.  A 15‑year old amateur won in Canada.  Just wondering about your observations about the depth of the Tour these days and how much talent's out here.

CRISTIE KERR:  I mean, really all you can say about that is that there's a lot of talent out here.  It's getting harder to win every year.  I've been close a lot the last couple years, especially last year, and haven't gotten that win.  It seems like once I get it, the flood gates could open because I just feel like that little extra bit of confidence to know, hey, I got it done again, will help.  You have to be on your game, you can't have a bad round, you can't have a bad stretch of holes if you're going to win a golf tournament out here now.

Q.  Cristie, I don't see many players with long putters by percentage as you do with the men.  Why is that?  Have you ever tried one?  Why do you think there's fewer among the women, or is that just my imagination?

CRISTIE KERR:  I don't really know.  I don't know if I could answer that.  I've never tried one.  I don't think I would ever try one.  It's just awkward to me.  I can't answer the differences why the men have more of that and we don't.  That's probably one answer in a press conference I haven't been able to answer.

Q.  The commissioner was saying the other day that he has on his to‑do list once every year to ask Augusta about an LPGA event there.  Now in the last month or so with the club admitting two women, people are talking a little bit more about it.  Is that a notion that appeals to you in any way?  Would it be cool?  Could you not care less?

CRISTIE KERR:  I think it would be cool.  Do I ever think it will happen?  No, I just don't.  I think they have the Masters and that's the tournament they have and that's the tournament they'll always have.  It would be great to see that. 

I mean, I've played Augusta.  I know one of the chairmen of Augusta, Dave Dorman, and he's a really cool guy and they're very inviting to women, but the Masters is their thing and I don't think they'll ever open it up to a women's tournament.  That's my personal opinion.

Q.  When did you play there?

CRISTIE KERR:  Actually, last year or two years ago, I can't remember.

Q.  What did you think?  How did you play?

CRISTIE KERR:  I think I shot even.  I played pretty well.  It's a great place.

Lexi Thompson, Rolex Rankings No. 26

MODERATOR:  All right.  We would like to welcome Lexi Thompson into the interview room.  Thank you so much for joining us this morning.

LEXI THOMPSON:  No problem.

MODERATOR:  I know this is your first time here to Kingsmill, everybody's been talking about how excited we are to be back here at this venue and playing in front of these great fans.  How much have you heard about this event beforehand and how has your week been so far?  Enjoying it being here in Virginia?

LEXI THOMPSON:  Yeah, I've heard a lot of great things about the event, just run so well and they have a lot of activities off the golf course, going to Busch Gardens and everything.  I hear a lot of fans come out and I've gotten to interact with a few of them already.  The course is in great shape, a little wet, but it's playing pretty hard, so definitely a little longer.

MODERATOR:  You'll get a chance to test that out today playing in the pro‑am, and I know you're paired with Commissioner Mike Whan as one of your playing companions.  How much fun will that be today?  Will it be a little different having the commissioner in your group?

LEXI THOMPSON:  It might be a little different, but I've never seen him play before, it should be interesting.  I might give him a little bit of a hard time out there. 

MODERATOR:  You've got to give him a few tips, I know he always appreciates ‑‑

LEXI THOMPSON:  Yeah, I'll help him out a little bit.

MODERATOR:  This is your rookie season, which for a lot of us is strange because we've seen you out here for so long, but how different has this season been from maybe what you expected, playing out here full time and being a member of this Tour?

LEXI THOMPSON:  Just playing a lot more, back‑to‑back weeks and just groups of events.  This is a three‑week stretch for me.  Just playing a lot more than the last few years playing on sponsors’ exemptions.  It's great.  I'm used to playing a lot, this is what I really enjoy, playing a lot more and playing against the best in the world.

MODERATOR:  Does that consistency, knowing you're going to have week after week, really kind of help your golf game as well just knowing kind of when you'll be playing and getting to be able to be out here each week competing against the best players?

LEXI THOMPSON:  Yeah, it definitely helps out a lot more.  I was just having single events at one time and it put so much pressure on that one event to do well.  Now that I have groups of events, I can just relax.  Even if I do struggle, I know there's another week right after.  It definitely helps a lot more knowing where I'm playing.

MODERATOR:  In terms of what were your expectations I guess for yourself coming into your rookie season, do you place goals, do you try to set marks that you wanted to hit, or do you kind of take it event by event to kind of get your golf game going?

LEXI THOMPSON:  Yeah, I usually just take it event by event.  I go into every event wanting to win.  My long term goals are Solheim Cup next year, and the Olympic team the next four years.  But yeah, I just take each event and just go in and try to improve on little things in my game.  That will help me out in the long run.

MODERATOR:  Everybody's been talking about the youth movement in golf and you kind of set that off as one of the primary people in terms of everybody talking about younger players, and a year ago you became the youngest person ever to win on the LPGA Tour and the last event we had another young one in Lydia Ko, who came out and won in Vancouver.  Having gone through that experience, what was it like for you watching what Lydia did out there in Vancouver?  I saw you had tweeted after talking about youth power and teen power, but how impressed were you with how she was able to play?

LEXI THOMPSON:  Yeah, I was very impressed.  I've gotten to play with her a few times over in Australia and practice rounds and I know how good she is.  She is a really hard worker.  She was out there the week before playing the golf course every day.  She's a really hard worker and it definitely showed right there and obviously at the AM and the other events.

MODERATOR:  I talked about you tweeting her and saying that, but we were discussing yesterday, we had some media training and talking about different things.  One of the things we talked about was social media, and you've been so involved in terms of your Twitter account and Facebook and interacting with fans.  Why is it so important for you to make sure you're always talking to your fans and re‑tweeting them and being involved?

LEXI THOMPSON:  It's really important to me.  I mean, I love interacting with my fans, especially on the golf course.  They take time out of their day, so I might as well give time back and just get to know them a little bit more.

MODERATOR:  Is it fun?  I guess, does this give you a different avenue?  I know you're young enough that you don't really remember when this stuff wasn't around.  Do you feel more connected to your fans because of it?

LEXI THOMPSON:  Yeah, I feel really connected with my fans.  Twitter, Facebook, now Instagram, it's great.  I mean, you get to interact with them.  Just to get to see them out here and tell them to come watch you play and let them know when you're teeing off and everything, so it's amazing.

MODERATOR:  As we go through the final few months of your rookie season, any specific things that you have in mind that you want to accomplish?

LEXI THOMPSON:  Not really.  I'm going into every event, like I said, wanting to win but just trying to have fun with the game and just be relaxed out on the course and just enjoy every little bit of it.  That's when I play my best, when I'm relaxed and have fun.

Q.  Sorry.  Lexi, you've experienced a win so young, but how much farther do you think your game can go and how much do you look to improve every time you're out there on the golf course?

LEXI THOMPSON:  Yeah, I think my game can improve a lot.  I mean, it always can with this game.  It's changing every single day.  Just continue to improve on little things in my game, like short game that I've been working on a lot.  Your swing changes every day, so you can always improve.  It's never perfect.

Q.  I know you've been successful on your own, but being so young, do you ever seek advice from other members of the Tour, even though you're competing against each other?  Do you help each other out?

LEXI THOMPSON:  Yeah, there are a few players out here, even Nancy Lopez.  She's not out here but I got to know her on Junior Solheim, I got to spend a week with her.  Knowing players of that caliber are there for me, it means a lot.

Q.  Then you talked about the course a little bit saying it was in great shape from what you've seen so far.  What have they told you about the golf Xs and Os of the course and what you're going to have to overcome in order to be successful here?

LEXI THOMPSON:  Pretty much just get your ball in the fairway.  There's a few demanding tee shots, and it's playing softer now so I can hit my driver pretty much on every hole.  Yeah, just put it on the right side of the hole out there and keep it in the fairways, I think that's pretty much what they said to do out here.

Q.  And my last question for you, you said you enter every event hoping to win.  Can you talk about that from this course's perspective and how you're coming into Kingsmill here hoping to get another LPGA victory?

LEXI THOMPSON:  I feel pretty good about my chances here.  My last few practice rounds have gone really well.  Just going to go out and hope for the best, just focus on one shot at a time, do my routine, just have fun out there.

Marcela Leon

MODERATOR:  All right.  I would like to welcome Marcela Leon into the interview room.  Marcela, thanks for joining us.  Your first time in an LPGA media center.  How does it feel?

MARCELA LEON:  Well, thank you for having me.  It's pretty amazing.  Like, the whole week, I got here on Monday and pretty much I didn't know what to do or how to do it, you know?  I felt like a rookie and I've been a professional golfer for 10 years, so it was a different experience, for sure.

MODERATOR:  Your first time playing Kingsmill.  What are your thoughts on the golf course so far?

MARCELA LEON:  Well, it's amazing.  I really like the view of it, it really fits my eye.  The conditions are impeccable.  I'm pretty pumped about playing this golf course and, you know, I've been playing well.  I've been practicing the right way and just see and wait.

MODERATOR:  You gained entry into this tournament because you won the Big Break.  How was that experience for you? 

MARCELA LEON:  Well, that experience was pretty much once in a lifetime.  You know, when I got the call, I was very happy and I got the chills pretty much.  That's pretty much how I feel right now.  It's my first LPGA event in a long time.  I'll pretty much do my best and enjoy the opportunity.

MODERATOR:  What was that feeling that you got ‑‑ when you won the Big Break?

MARCELA LEON:  Well, you know, it's pretty much a lot of hard work just because in every single episode you have that big pressure that I've never felt before.  After I made that last putt, all that emotion just got out of my body and I was very happy, very happy, because it meant that I really want to be at the highest level and that I could handle the pressure.  That taught me a lot and I'm happy that the results were how they went.  It was just a very happy experience for me.

MODERATOR:  It seemed like your cast in that season was all really close.  Do you still keep in touch with all of them?

MARCELA LEON:  Yeah, it was nice that all the girls, we got along.  We were very competitive on the golf course, but outside the golf course we decided to be friends.  You know, we never combined golf with anything that happened outside the ropes.  I still keep in touch with them.  I know some of them are in the first stage of Q School.  I Tweet them and wish them well.  I hope I can see them out here on this Tour or the Symetra Tour.

MODERATOR:  Keeping along those same lines, I don't think I've ever not seen you with a smile on your face.  Do you think that helps you on the golf course at all?

MARCELA LEON:  You know, it keeps me relaxed.  It's part of my personality.  I've learned to enjoy life, especially after I burn out from golfing.  I return with a different way of seeing not just golf but life.  I think I smile more than before.

MODERATOR:  You played full time on the Symetra Tour.  Has that helped you out at all coming into this week?

MARCELA LEON:  Oh, definitely, definitely.  Symetra Tour is the developmental tour of the LPGA.  It's definitely different, you know?  Over here I'm putting my shows in a locker room, and on the Symetra Tour you pretty much jump out of the car and do it.  But it's pretty much the same.  They teach you what is needed in order to be out here.  I think every professional golfer that doesn't have the chance to play here should be on the Symetra Tour and experience that tour to have some type of background once you get to the LPGA.

MODERATOR:  After this week there are three consecutive tournaments in the season on the Symetra Tour.  What are your thoughts going into those three weeks?

MARCELA LEON:  I'm actually really excited about it.  I can't wait to go to Charlotte.  I know the community, the sponsors are very excited to have us there. 

Then we go to Vidalia, Georgia.  I played there last year and that community is excited to have us there.  They have great onions, and I tried them, they're amazing.  And the golf course, it's a great layout. 

And then we'll be back in Daytona.  Definitely looking forward to playing there just because I'll be hopefully playing final stage there and it's a great venue.  It's the last tournament of the season and I'm really excited to be part of the last three events.

MODERATOR:  I know you know a lot of girls on the Symetra Tour, but are there any LPGA players that have helped you this week?

MARCELA LEON:  Oh, my God, yes.  When I got here on Monday, I pretty much didn't know what to do.  Little by little, I started seeing familiar faces.  I just asked them and they were very, very nice.  You know, I saw several people that used to play with me on Symetra in 2004, 2005, they were very helpful.  Jacqui Concolino, I've known her actually from this year down in Florida in the winter and she's like, "Whatever you need, give me a call."  Lisa Ferrero, the same thing.  So they've been very nice. 

Jessica Shepley yesterday, she goes, "Are you okay?  Do you need anything?"  I'm like, "No, I'm fine."  I actually have like big sisters helping me out, so it's nice.  I actually feel at home.  I thought I was going to feel like a little bit of an outsider but everybody has been so nice.  The volunteers are amazing, fans have recognized me from the show, so I'm really excited.  It's been quite a ride and I'm going to continue to enjoy it.

                                                    

Topics: Notes and Interviews, Kingsmill Championship, Kerr, Cristie, Miyazato, Ai

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