Navistar LPGA Classic
Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Capitol Hill, The Senator
September 22, 2012
Third-round notes and interviews
Stacy Lewis -15, Rolex Rankings No. 3
Angela Stanford – 13, Rolex Rankings No. 17
Lizette Salas -12, Rolex Rankings No. 146
Mi Jung Hur -11, Rolex Rankings No. 156
Haeji Kang – 11, Rolex Rankings No. 59
Lexi Thompson -10, Rolex Rankings No. 25
@Stacy_Lewis opened up a two-shot lead over @Angela_Stanford on Saturday in her quest to achieve the Alabama Slam at the Navistar LPGA Classic (@NavistarLPGA). The Rolex Rankings No. 3 shot a bogey-free 65 with seven birdies to move to 15-under-par 201 for the week in pursuit of her second victory in Alabama this season dating back to the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic, the first of her two victories on Tour this season. Lewis’s assault of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail continued on Saturday, where she carded five birdies – including four of the first five holes – on the front nine of Capitol Hill’s Senator Course to turn in 31. She added three birdies on the back nine to shoot 65 for the fourth time this season.
“I think going into today I knew I needed to make birdies just the way the scores had been all day, and you don't know if you're ever going to start off like that,” she said. “You can kind of hit it good warming up, but you never really know what you're going to take to the course.”
It’s safe to say Stacy Lewis enjoys playing the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama. Lewis defeated Lexi Thompson by one shot in April at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic at Magnolia Grove’s Crossings Course with a four-day score of 17-under-par 271. Her combined seven round total on the RTJ Golf Trail this season is 32-under-par. Lewis, who became a Rolex First-Time Winner in 2011 at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, can regain the No. 2 spot on the Rolex Rankings with a victory tomorrow.
A relatively inexperienced first page of the leaderboard could help Lewis. Other than @Angela_Stanford, who won earlier this season at the HSBC Women’s Champions and boasts five total LPGA victories, there are a total of seven total victories amongst the 13 players in the top 10 (not counting Lewis and Stanford) entering final round play at the Navistar LPGA Classic. Stanford shot 4-under-par 68 on Saturday to move to 13-under-par 203 for the week. The 34-year-old has four top-10 finishes this season and is looking to win twice in a season for the second time in her 12-year career.
“To win early in the year and late in the year would be pretty big, because I think it's such a long year that there's so many ups and downs, it would be nice to have another up,” Stanford said.
Lewis hopes that her name at the top of the leaderboard will give her an advantage over some other inexperienced players.
“I feel like I've played really well this year and I knew looking at the leaderboard yesterday that there are a lot of players that have never been there and that some probably wouldn't know how to handle it. So I knew that was to my advantage and so I just took care of my game.”
Lexi Struggles. Seventeen-year-old @Lexi Thompson hit a speed bump in her quest for a second-consecutive victory at the Navistar LPGA Classic with a 74 on Saturday. Thompson, who entered the third round with a one-shot lead thanks in large part to a career-low 63 on Thursday, dropped into a tie for sixth after 54 holes, five shots off the pace of Stacy Lewis.
“Well, I'm definitely not out of it,” she said. “I mean, I shot 63 the first day, so if I just have a round like that, I know I can be in contention. Just going to go out and free swing and just try to make birdies, hopefully a few more putts drop.”
Dori Carter can greatly improve her 2012 LPGA Tour status tomorrow with a solid finish. The second-year professional is currently 115th on the LPGA Official Money List, just more than $15,000 behind the cutoff for Category 11 status in 2013 which would essentially make her exempt. Carter is currently tied for ninth at 9-under-par 207. She is the only player in the top-10 currently outside top 100 on the money list.
Rolex First-Time Winner dreams… The leaderboard following the third round of the Navistar LPGA Classic contains six players who are rarely seen in their current position, and all of whom are seeking to become the seventh Rolex First-Time Winner of the season.
Rookies Lizette Salas (3rd) and Syndee Michaels (T9) have shown they can keep up with the veterans as both have been in contention in previous tournaments this year. Each posted a season-best finish at the Safeway LPGA Classic presented by Coca-Cola, where Michaels shared the lead during the first round to finish with a tie for 7th while Salas finished with a tie for 12th.
Sitting at third place today, Salas says her positive attitude and continuous smile has helped her stay calm on the course as she plays among the veterans and she plans to carry the same demeanor as she plays with LPGA winners Angela Stanford and Stacy Lewis in the leader group tomorrow.
“Tomorrow, nothing changes,” Salas said. “Game plan is to stay patient and just play with confidence, I think that's the main thing for me. Just keep it ‑‑ keep rolling the rock, that's what I've been told this whole week, and just to stay positive.”
Sarah Jane Smith (T6), Vicky Hurst (T9), Jennifer Johnson (T9) and Dori Carter (T9) are also in search of capturing their first title this week.
Quote of the day: “I think the world of her, but I'm going to try to beat her tomorrow like she's trying to beat me.” – Angela Stanford on Stacy Lewis
MODERATOR: All right. We'd like to welcome third round leader Stacy Lewis to the interview room at the Navistar LPGA Classic. You're back again, this time with a 7‑under par 65, bogey free on the day with seven birdies. You really turned it on on moving day. Just take us through the round. What was working for you?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I worked on a few things last night. I wasn't happy with the way I played the back nine yesterday and it was really putts weren't going in; they were going to the edge and not going in, so I kind of worked on some basics yesterday.
I came back out and birdied the first two holes and I think that really ‑‑ I hit shots close the first five holes really and it really kind of gave me some momentum and some confidence. And then we got to about, I guess, I don't know, 7, I think the wind started to pick up and it became a completely different golf course. It was playing tough. There were some hole locations you just couldn't go at. From there on in, I just made birdies when I could and made pars the rest of the day and it was just really solid.
MODERATOR: Yeah, birdies on four of the first five holes, and on the third hole it was close to a fifth birdie. Just talk about a start like that and what it can do for you, especially on a day when going low's going to get you toward the top of the leaderboard.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I think going into today I knew I needed to make birdies just the way the scores had been all day, and you don't know if you're ever going to start off like that. You can kind of hit it good warming up, but you never really know what you're going to take to the course.
So I just went out there and tried to hit good shots and it worked out and made a few early, hit them close on 4 and 5 and it was really ‑‑ it was a pretty easy 4‑under through five.
MODERATOR: Aside from Angela Stanford, who's currently two shots behind you, the rest of the leaderboard, about 10 down, there's only a couple players who have won. You've got two wins this year, three overall, you're looking at your fourth career. Do you think your name at the top of the leaderboard now has a little bit of cache knowing that you've been on a roll this year?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I mean, I would hope that it does. I mean, I feel like I've played really well this year and I knew looking at the leaderboard yesterday that there are a lot of players that have never been there and that some probably wouldn't know how to handle it. So I knew that was to my advantage and so I just took care of my game. Hopefully ‑‑ I would have liked to have gotten one there on 18, but hopefully I've got a couple‑shot lead going into tomorrow. I need a good start tomorrow, too, like I had today.
STACY LEWIS: It was about 10 feet. It broke a good probably eight to 10 inches so it was a putt you had to hit perfect.
STACY LEWIS: Oh, the length of putt? 1 was probably 18 feet; 2 was about six, 4 was like three feet, and 5 was probably two and a half.
MODERATOR: Can you just give us the other three birdies while you're at it? No. 9?
STACY LEWIS: 9, 9 I almost holed it out again actually, it went right over the edge and I had about three feet for birdie there.
STACY LEWIS: 11, probably about 10, 12 feet.
STACY LEWIS: And then 16, that was probably a 20‑footer, that was it. It was a tough read there and made a good putt down the hill.
MODERATOR: Combined you're 32‑under on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail this year. What is it about these golf courses that suits you as you approach the 'Bama Slam tomorrow?
STACY LEWIS: I don't know. I feel like a course like this you have to hit it well and then make the putts. These greens are really ‑‑ you can kind of break them up into three, four different sections, and kind of the same thing in Mobile too, I guess. The greens may be big, but they're really pretty small so I think that's to my advantage. I usually hit it pretty solid, and then just making putts, I think that gives me an advantage on any course.
Q. This course is good for long hitters and you've developed into a long hitter in the last couple years. How is it different playing this track now than when you first (inaudible)?
STACY LEWIS: You know, I don't know if I hit it that far on this course. I mean, my ball is not really rolling out like it normally does and I don't really know why. This course, I played with Lexi here last year and she just took lines that I've never seen anybody take on a golf course. I'm not to that point. I mean, I'm not even close to that. But I definitely think length has helped just over the last couple years just hitting wedges instead of 7‑ or 8‑irons into the greens I think is a huge advantage. Off the tee it hasn't really helped, I'm still taking the same lines. I don't hit it that far.
MODERATOR: All right. I'd like to welcome Angela Stanford into the interview room today here at the Navistar LPGA Classic. Great round today, 4‑under today, 13‑under for the tournament, tied for second. Take us through your day and what was working well for you.
ANGELA STANFORD: Well, I think scrappy is probably a good word for today. I got a little loose there like probably 7 through 13, I didn't really know which way the ball was going to go, so made an unbelievable par on 12. And, you know, if things work out tomorrow, I'll look back at that par putt on 12 and that kind of kept me where I needed to be to give me a chance to make some birdies coming down the stretch. But I was actually probably staring at double bogey, so that par was huge.
MODERATOR: Your best finish at this tournament is third last year. Is there something about this course that makes you feel comfortable?
ANGELA STANFORD: Well, I think just playing here multiple times and you get to know the course and you know which flag you can really go for and which flag you can't and how to play the slopes. I think it's a golf course that if you have some experience on it, you have a little bit of an advantage.
MODERATOR: You're already a five‑time winner on the LPGA Tour, you've won already this season. How much would another win mean to you?
ANGELA STANFORD: Quite a bit. I've only done it one time in my career where I've won twice in the same year, so that would be pretty cool for me to do that again. And to win early in the year and late in the year would be pretty big, too, because I think it's such a long year that there's so many ups and downs, it would be nice to have another up.
Q. Take us through 12….
ANGELA STANFORD: I hit an errant tee shot that ended up just cozying up to the lip of one of the bunkers. I was lucky to get it out into the fairway and then had like 141 to the pin, and if you know that green, the pin was back right, it was kind of the front part of the green.
The good part was that I actually hit that putt a couple days ago, whichever day that pin was in the back right, so we kind of knew what it did anyways, but it was still a good 40 feet is my guess up over a ridge. I couldn't believe it disappeared, yeah.
Q. There are a lot of caddy changes going on this year. You are back to using one of your old caddies. How’s that going?
ANGELA STANFORD: Yeah, you know, I've always said you need different caddies in different parts of your career. You know, my caddie that I had right before Dan, he was great for me.
The thing that Dan does is there's just a calmness about him, and I think the world of Dan as a person because the things that he's gone through in his life. He's just a tremendous Christian. I mean, it's just good for me to have somebody there that he just has a calmness about him and he's a very positive person.
Actually, the last time we broke up, I said, I have affected you, like you're negative now, so we're done. So that's the one thing I said to him when we started again, I said, you know, you just have to be you, you have to be ‑‑ because I need that because I can be very negative at times and there's just something that he just has this inner peace about him. I told my mom, I'm like, Mom, I can't really be an idiot around Dan because he just holds me accountable.
MODERATOR: Well, your team seems to be doing well. You've got your (inaudible) purple on and the Rangers are doing really well.
ANGELA STANFORD: Yeah.
MODERATOR: Sports in your world seem to be going pretty well for you.
ANGELA STANFORD: Nice to be in the Metroplex right now. Need the cowboys to step up a bit.
Q. Stacy's having a good year, Player of the Year possibility. Can you just talk about going up against her on Sunday and what you expect her to bring to the table?
ANGELA STANFORD: Well, I'm glad we're not playing alternate shot, I'm glad we're playing our own balls. I'm sure Meg will be happy to see that, too.
I think the world of Stacy. I think she's just ‑‑ everything that she's overcome. I didn't know her when she played college golf, but I think she's a great competitor, I think she's great for the Tour. So I know she's a winner, I know she knows how to win. I know she's going to try real hard to do it again tomorrow, so I think it will be a great day. Either way, it's nice to be in the position that you have a chance to win, but at the same time one of your friends has a chance, too. I think the world of her, but I'm going to try to beat her tomorrow like she's trying to beat me.
Q. Minus 10 going into today, minus 2 today, at minus 12. Tell me about your round, please.
LIZETTE SALAS: You know, it was kind of a little bit of yesterday, scrambling. I was all over the place today. I had a good bogey on 13, made a couple putts down the stretch. I was still scoring even though my ball striking wasn't well today, but I just kept calm, kept patient. You know, my thing was to smile a lot more out there today and just to not to force anything, that was my main thing today, and just play my game. That was my whole strategy for today.
Q. Why smile; for others or yourself?
LIZETTE SALAS: No, myself. I think if you stay positive throughout the round, you know, good things can happen to you. And with me, if I get mad, then I lose the rest of the round. So I think if I smile more and kind of trick my mind into thinking positive, I think it turns out a lot better for me.
Q. What happened on 18?
LIZETTE SALAS: 18, I thought I hit a decent drive, I just caught the rough and tried to trickle it on up the green and caught the rub, hit a really good chip and just didn't really sit. I think my putting instructor's going to be very mad with me. I didn't release the putter and just didn't go in. But you know what ‑‑
Q. You think your putter what is going to be mad at you?
LIZETTE SALAS: My putting instructor's going to be very upset with me, but you know, I would rather miss those today than tomorrow.
Q. So tell me about tomorrow.
LIZETTE SALAS: Tomorrow, nothing changes. Game plan is to stay patient and just play with confidence, I think that's the main thing for me. Just keep it ‑‑ keep rolling the rock, that's what I've been told this whole week, and just to stay positive.
Q. You're only three back.
LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah, that's a very little amount.
Q. Minus 11 coming into today. You were at par today basically. Tell me about your round, please.
MI JUNG HUR: My play was up and down a lot. I made two bogeys on front nine and I made two three‑putts today, so it was tough day for me. My putting wasn't good from yesterday, but I like it because is one more round left.
Q. You're only 4 back.
MI JUNG HUR: Is it? I didn't know that, I didn't know that. Yeah, I will keep try for my best score tomorrow.
Q. Now at 17, you eagled 17. Tell me about that. How did you do that?
MI JUNG HUR: My second shot was 225 and I just hit a 3‑hybrid just aggressive to the pin and it was fantastic shot for me. I think it was shot of the day.
Q. Did it make you happy?
MI JUNG HUR: Yeah, I made an eagle.
Q. But then you had a bogey on 18. What happened there?
MI JUNG HUR: I missed my driver to the right and I hit 9‑iron 10 yards short, but it was pretty good lie for ‑‑ two putt, it was chance to birdie, but I hit it too hard and missed a short par putt and I made a bogey. But it's okay, it happens, so I'm keeping ‑‑ keep up myself for tomorrow.
Q. So you're only 4 back. Tell me about tomorrow. Are you looking forward to it?
MI JUNG HUR: I really look for it because I got another chance to made a win since four years ago, I mean since 2009, I think, so I think I have to play best I can.
Q. Minus 6 yesterday, minus 5 today. Tell me about the round today, please.
HAEJI KANG: Today I actually hit it very close enough to knock those putts in, but front nine I hit it very close but I didn't make any putts, so I was a little frustrated. But I hold myself up on the back nine and then I tried to be confident on the putts and it started to went in, and then I had a 5‑under on the back nine, which was great.
Q. So you were even on the front nine and minus 5 on the back nine?
HAEJI KANG: Um‑hmm.
Q. You were hot.
HAEJI KANG: Yes, I was, on the back nine.
Q. Are you going to carry that into tomorrow?
HAEJI KANG: Yes, I will.
Q. Tell me about tomorrow. How's it look? Any changes or is it going to be about the same?
HAEJI KANG: The weather looks a little bit cooler tomorrow, so I think there is not much difference as today.
Q. Right now you're 4 behind the leader. Do you still have a shot for tomorrow?
HAEJI KANG: Oh, yes, yes, definitely I have a lot of chance tomorrow because I love this tournament and I love this golf course. I think it suits me, I don't know why, but I always been playing good here.
Q. That is a good question. Why does it suit you?
HAEJI KANG: I don't know, I just like it, yeah, because when I always come to Alabama, it's very nice people out here, so it makes me very comfortable to be here.
Q. Probably not the day you were looking for. You're still in contention. Just talk about your day and how it went for you.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I just struggled a little bit, I had a lot of putts. But I mean, I didn't ‑‑ I ball striked it pretty good. My ball rolled through fairways by a few feet and then I would have rough and couldn't get spin off the shot, so...
Q. You've had quite a few low rounds around here, so going into tomorrow you're only 5 back. You've shot a couple 65s, a 64.
LEXI THOMPSON: Um‑hmm.
Q. Just talk about going into tomorrow, your mindset.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, well, I'm definitely not out of it. I mean, I shot 63 the first day, so if I just have a round like that, I know I can be in contention. Just going to go out and free swing and just try to make birdies, hopefully a few more putts drop.
Q. Tonight, I guess, how do you get this ‑‑ flush it, get it out of your mind and move on to tomorrow?
LEXI THOMPSON: Just hang out, eat dinner, have fun.
Q. The usual?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah.