Navistar LPGA Classic
Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Capitol Hill, The Senator
September 19, 2012
Wednesday Pre-tournament notes and interviews
Yani Tseng, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 3
Storylines at the Navistar LPGA Classic
Nearly the entire LPGA rookie class will compete at the Navistar LPGA Classic this week including standouts So Yeon Ryu and Lexi Thompson. Ryu enters this week after notching her 10th top-10 finish of the season at the RICOH Women’s British Open where she tied for 5th along with Karrie Webb. She became the first rookie this season to capture a victory at the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic after defeating Angela Stanford by seven strokes. Ryu boasts a nearly 500 point lead over Lexi Thompson in the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race, topping off at 1,061 points. Thompson managed to finish in the top-20 in the season’s final major with a tie for 17th, which may give her a little momentum heading into this week as she seeks to defend her title. The 26 other rookies in the field include Mo Martin, Sydney Michaels and Veronica Felibert, whose names have been seen lurking around the leaderboard a time or two this season. This would be a good week for one of the 28 rookies to make their way to the winner’s circle this week.
The Navistar LPGA Classic serves as the final full field tournament of the 2012 season and will thus help decide which players have status for 2013 based on the money list. Players who finish inside the top 80 on the season-ending money list will earn Category 1 status on the 2013 Priority List, while those between 81-100 will earn Category 11. Both of these categories are considered “exempt.” Finally, Category 16 which includes players who finish between 101-125 on the season-ending money list, which provides “non-exempt” status. Some players on the bubble watch this week include Wendy Ward (107th on the money list), Christina Kim (110th), and Janice Moodie (127th).
Wounded Warrior tribute
For three years the Navistar LPGA Classic has chosen the Wounded Warrior Project to be the official beneficiary of the tournament proceeds. As part of this partnership, Navistar is covering the cost of admission for all spectators who come out this week. Donation boxes will be spread out across the course for fans to contribute to the cause. Several players plan to donate a percentage of their earnings to pay tribute to the injured veterans, like Jennifer Johnson who has committed to donating 50 percent of her earnings from this tournament.
A little jetlag… The journey back to the U.S. from the RICOH Women’s British Open left many players with an incurable case of jetlag to start the Navistar LPGA Classic week. Stacy Lewis, Yani Tseng and Lexi Thompson all claim their internal clocks still seem to be set six hours ahead of the Central Time Zone and they are finding themselves on the course earlier than usual. Lewis claims that although she is losing the fight against jetlag, she is fully prepared to take on the week.
“I'm still trying to get over the jetlag from last week and figure out what time it is and where I am,” Stacy Lewis said. “But you know, it's just another event and I've got to go out there and give myself a chance to win on Sunday.”
Tseng says the jetlag has proven to be beneficial to her practice time. Waking up at 6 a.m. has given her plenty of time during the day to recuperate from the long trek across the Atlantic Ocean.
“Finally I can sleep as long as I wanted,” Tseng said. “But I wake up at 6:00 in the morning, but I feel fine. I'm not a morning person, but every time I wake up at 6:00 I feel I have a whole day that I can rest, I can work out and I can do some treatment on my body, so I kind of feel very good about this week. I feel fresh and I just -- I don't know, last week was kind of a tough week because of the weather, but this week I'm looking forward to good weather and playing a good golf course so I kind of very enjoy not thinking that much.”
Tseng looking to overcome struggles
Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng has finished outside the top-10 in each of the last nine tournaments including three missed cuts, but she is focused on remaining positive despite the struggles.
“I (had) a great start and maybe I can have a great finish, too. You never know.” Tseng said.
Tseng returns to Prattville this week with a “grip it and rip it” mentality, knowing that her length will be an advantage on the relatively wide-open layout. “You can be aggressive on this golf course,” Tseng said after her pro-am on Tuesday. “Some of the bunkers are not in play for the longer hitters.”
Tseng continues to hold a strong lead in the Rolex Rankings, but she trails in the Rolex Player of the Year and Vare Trophy races, both awards she won last season.
Yani Tseng, Rolex Rankings No. 1
MODERATOR: All right. I would like to welcome Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng into the interview room. Yani, you've had a pretty decent record here, tied for 25th last year and then in 2009 you tied for 4th and in 2008 you tied for 6th. What is it about this golf course that you think suits your game?
YANI TSENG: Is that pretty good? I think this golf course is pretty wide open. You can hit rip driver every hole and that plays to your advantage because lots of hole is kind of long and (inaudible) you can hit on the green so it's kind of a very big advantage for us to grip it and rip it on this golf course. And it's more, when wind's blowing very much, it's more like links golf course. It plays -- I love this golf course. I kind of decided last minute to come back here because I just love so much, I just cannot give up a course I love and the tournament I love, so that's why I come back to play again.
MODERATOR: What has been the best and the worst part of this season for you?
YANI TSENG: I mean, it's, it's very tough like last few months I have a tough (inaudible) but I feel like I just take a little vacation and try not thinking too much. I have a great start and maybe I can have a great finish, too. You never know. We still have a few tournaments left and I always looking forward to try to fight back and try to play one shot at a time and give my hundred effort to every tournament and I'm still really enjoy. I mean, I think the best part, I still enjoy this game. I mean, I wasn't get very frustrating, I wasn't getting any struggle, I just try to do my best and try to enjoy because I actually feel very thankful because what I've done is so much better than the people don't have (inaudible) so I'm already very appreciative of what I have done and thanks for all the people that supporting me, doesn't matter how I play. And I don't know as far as the last couple months, but now I was thinking that maybe that's (inaudible) but I think after this year I think that will be my best part of the year. Even though I didn't play well or I didn't win any tournament, but I think I learned so much and I realize how good golf is not part of my -- it's not like all my life. I mean, I have so many things that I can do and that is my life. And I mean I just feel very appreciative that this is a game I love and I still love this game and I hopefully I can keep continue playing well and keep continue enjoy this game.
MODERATOR: How are you feeling about your game this week? How much would another win mean to you?
YANI TSENG: Oh, I feel good actually. That's why I'm here. I want to come back here to play and I feel good about the golf course, feel good about the fans here. And I have a new caddie on my bag, this is the second week that we work together and I think we work very good. I just feel very good every day about this week and I'm going to try to win it and play one shot at a time and enjoy everything I can and see how it goes.
MODERATOR: A couple players have talked about some jetlag from this last week. It was a long week for everyone. How do you refocus after such a long week and how do you prepare for this week?
YANI TSENG: Finally I can sleep as long as I wanted, but I wake up at 6:00 in the morning, but I feel fine. I'm not a morning person, but every time I wake up at 6:00 I feel I have a whole day that I can rest, I can work out and I can do some treatment on my body, so I kind of feel very good about this. I feel fresh and I just -- I don't know, last week was kind of a tough week because of the weather, but this week I'm looking forward to good weather and playing a good golf course so I kind of very enjoy not thinking that much.
Q. You mentioned your caddie. Talk to us about the importance of having a caddie and what a difference to you and to your game and knowing the course.
YANI TSENG: My caddie been here two years. He used to caddie for Na Yeon Choi and lots of great players, too. He's a very, very nice guy. Like last week we been through some tough (inaudible) and he always try to help me out and stay calm. We do some laugh and we kind of talk about lots of things outside of golf course. So he always keep me very relaxed and thinking the positive because sometime I always try to think of negative things because after you make bogey, after you hit best shot, you kind of thinking the thing you don't want to think. So he always kind of keep me very positive, keep moving forward and keep looking forward instead of looking back, so I think he's a very good one for me.
Q. You mentioned earlier about finding that balance in life or golf. How difficult is that to be on the Tour and travel all the time and still find that balance?
YANI TSENG: I feel I'm very lucky because I love traveling, so traveling is not a problem for me at all because I think that, you know, that we go all over the world and I see so many different cultures and been to so many countries and meet so many different people, so I just really love the job I'm doing right now. I love traveling, love to play, so the traveling is not big issue for me.
But the things I maybe -- because so many things like friends and family, those things really, like we only see each other a couple times a year and that's pretty hard for me, so off season I'll spend more time with my family and friends.
Q. Can you talk a little bit more about this golf course and maybe how your game suits it?
YANI TSENG: Like I say, it's a great golf course to rip it and grip it because play with my advantage. I hit it long so some of the bunkers are not in play for the longer hitter. Some of the par 5 is very good that you can go for it, you can be aggressive on this golf course. And green is very smooth and kind of is very soft, too. So you can play with your advantage on this golf course and I think because you make lots of birdie.
MODERATOR: This is our last domestic event before we go over to Asia for all of October. How excited are you to go back over there? We know you like going over there.
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I love Asia because, I mean, my hometown is in Taiwan so next month I'm going back to Taiwan, that's how excited I am. But I'm still looking forward to have a great week, to finish out a good week in the United States. So until we go to Asia I wasn't thinking much because the (inaudible) and the weather is different every week, but we love it there.
Q. Since 2008 players from Asian countries have pretty much dominated the scene here. Just talk about the pride you guys have in just the talent that you have.
YANI TSENG: I think Asian players train so hard. Most of the time on Monday morning the only people you see on the range is Asian. I mean, only see Asian. You can tell on the range, on the golf course, most time Asian was right there. I think in the Asia we have so many tournaments that we can play and compete. So many younger players, they compete as a professional golfer. We have so many real big stage for the amateur that they can compete with all the best players in the world, compete with all the professional level and that's so much different experience than when you play as amateur. I think that's how they get experience. But, I mean, Taiwan is not as popular like Korea and Japan. They are very popular, they have their own Tour. Taiwan is kind of just starting right now, but I think we try to catch up. We have like three, four players on the Tour now. I know Korea was like much more, but we kind of push each other to get better and better. I mean, one Asian player (inaudible) we can motivate other Asian that they think they can do it, too.
Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 3
MODERATOR: I'd like to welcome Rolex Rankings No. 3, Stacy Lewis, into the interview room.
Thanks so much for coming in today. You're coming off a three-week streak of Top 10 finishes, including a tie for 8th at the British. Obviously been a good year for you with 13 Top 10s and two victories. Can you just talk about your season and how you're feeling coming into this week?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, you know, this year I actually got off to a good start in Australia and then kind of kept that momentum going and won when I was here last in Alabama, won in Mobile. And from there I've played really solid and given myself a lot of chances to win. It's been really fun to be in contention and kind of, you know, more people are starting to recognize me and see me up on leaderboards. Getting that exposure has been really cool.
I feel good this week. I feel like I played well last week, it was just the conditions were so tough that it just kind of wore on you over the week. So I feel pretty good about my game and I'm excited to be back in Alabama again.
MODERATOR: You just got done playing with your pro-am group. What are your initial thoughts about the course and how do you think it suits your game?
STACY LEWIS: You know, the course this year, the greens are unbelievable. They're probably the best I've seen them since we started coming here. The course yesterday was pretty wet, the range was pretty wet yesterday, too. But the course this morning was great, didn't really have too much water or mud on it. It's in good shape. You have to hit your shots out here and then you have to make putts. So the greens are just going to continue to firm out and I think they're just going to get faster throughout the week.
MODERATOR: It's been a long couple weeks for those who played at the British and Kingsmill before that. How do you feel about this being the last domestic event and do you approach it any differently?
STACY LEWIS: I mean, for me it's -- for a lot of players it's the end of the year, this is their last event, but for me, I've still got a lot of golf to play. I don't really approach it any differently. I'm still trying to get over the jetlag from last week and figure out what time it is and where I am. But you know, it's just another event and I've got to go out there and give myself a chance to win on Sunday.
Q. Well, we've got a two-week break before we go over to Asia, so do you have any plans for this two-week break?
STACY LEWIS: No, not really. The first week I'm going to use it and not really play much golf because I need a break and just kind of enjoy the time off before we get busy and get traveling again. You know, it's kind of -- we're winding down, but you've got to get your energy level up. For me, there's a lot to play for the rest of the year
Who will win the inaugural event?
Will Jessica Korda defend her title?