LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship Pre-tournament notes & interviews - Wednesday

LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship
Sky 72 Golf Club
Incheon, South Korea
Pre-Tournament Notes and Interviews
October 16, 2013

Inbee Park, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Suzann Pettersen, Rolex Rankings No. 2
So Yeon Ryu, Rolex Rankings No. 4
Na Yeon Choi, Rolex Rankings No. 6
Paula Creamer, Rolex Rankings No. 11
Cristie Kerr, Rolex Rankings No. 12

The LPGA Tour continues to make its way through Asia this week for the third stop on the fall swing of tournaments. The LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship will feature a star-studded field of 78 players who will be vying for a $1.9 million purse at Sky 72 Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea.

Rolex Rankings No. 2 Suzann Pettersen will be looking to continue her solid play this year as she sets out to defend her title in South Korea. The Norwegian is coming off a tie for third at last week’s Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia where she fired rounds of 67-68-67-70. Pettersen already has three victories under her belt this season including one major title at the The Evian Championship.


Watch your back…
With only five tournaments remaining on the 2013 LPGA Tour schedule, Suzann Pettersen’s impressive play as of late has inched her closer to overtaking the top spot in the Rolex Rankings and Official Money List.

Pettersen has recorded six top-10 finishes in her previous six starts, including back-to-back wins at the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola and The Evian Championship.

While her impressive streak of tournaments has moved her to within striking distance of knocking out Inbee Park as Rolex Rankings No. 1, the 10-year LPGA Tour member strives to join the elite list of former number ones which include Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa, and Yani Tseng.

“I feel like I’ve been on Tour quite a long time now and I feel like we’ve had some great number ones during my time on the LPGA,” said Pettersen. “Annika Sorenstam was one, Lorena Ochoa was a great number one, Yani Tseng was a very dominant player and now we have Inbee and I think all I can do is try to become the best I can be.”

Despite Pettersen closing in on No. 1, she still recognizes Park’s dominating performance this season that has included victories in the first three majors of the year.

“I love waking up every day trying to get better and I look at my game trying to approach it in the most professional way,” said Pettersen. “It’s a blessing just to be out here and to compete with the top players in on Tour. I think we have probably the deepest field on Tour now compared to when I first came out. I feel like there’s a much better depth of good players and I think it’s hard to win each and every week. It really takes your very best and that also puts Inbee’s performance this year in a special place. If you keep winning tournaments, the rest will take care of itself and that’s what I’m trying to do.”


Extra motivation…
Na Yeon Choi has quite the impressive track record at this week’s LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship as she claimed victories in both 2009 and 2010. While the South Korean returns home this week, she struggled in last year’s event firing rounds of 70-73-75 to finish in a tie for 39th.

Combine Choi’s less than desirable finish last year and the search of her first LPGA Tour victory this season, it has ignited a fire of motivation for the South Korea native to make her way to the winner’s circle this week.

“In 2009 and 2010 I had great results here,” said Choi. “I think I tried too hard to win again last year and I think that had an effect on my game. Since I didn’t play well last year, I really want to have a good tournament this week.”

“I don’t have a win this season so I think my desire to win here is a little higher than some of the players but I don’t want to get too caught up in the result and outcome,” added Choi. “I want to be able to enjoy the tournament with my home fans in Korea.”

Since the LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship’s inaugural year in 2002, a South Korean has successfully taken home the win seven out of the first 11 years.


FANtastic…
If you spot Paula Creamer at an LPGA Tour event, you would be hard-pressed to find a time where she is not interacting with her fans. As the LPGA returns to South Korea this week for the 12th playing of the LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship, Creamer has the opportunity to tee-it-up in front of some of her most adoring fans.

“I always have great fans out here, they love their pink and it’s kind of cool to have such a nice welcoming in another country,” said Creamer. “To have a win here would be great, it’s a great field and a lot of great players here.”

Creamer admitted her fans have played a large role in her nine-career LPGA Tour victories as they have been by her side through thick and thin. Creamer not only frequently interacts with her adoring fans on tournament site, but she also engages in conversation with several of her 150,199 followers on Twitter.

“I think fans are 100% a part of what we do,” said Creamer. “They are there through the good and bad and they pull for you no matter what. Just to have that extra support, you can’t thank them enough and just try to reach-out to them through social media is something very important and also when you’re here in another country to embrace their culture is even more important. I try to do as much as I can when I do come to other countries and being here is nice.”


Inbee Park, Rolex Rankings No. 1

Suzann Pettersen, Rolex Rankings No. 2
So Yeon Ryu, Rolex Rankings No. 4
Na Yeon Choi, Rolex Rankings No. 6
Paula Creamer, Rolex Rankings No. 11
Cristie Kerr, Rolex Rankings No. 12

Moderator:  I would like to start out by welcoming everyone to the 2013 LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship. First, I would like to introduce our players who are with us today. We have South Koreans Inbee Park, So Yeon Ryu, and Na Yeon Choi. We also have defending champion Suzann Pettersen, 16-time LPGA Tour winner, Cristie Kerr, and Rolex Rankings No. 11 and nine-time LPGA Tour Winner, Paula Creamer.

Suzann, we will start the afternoon with you, you are defending champion of this event, how does it feel to be back in South Korea?
Suzann Pettersen:  It’s nice to be back. When I won here last year it kind of kick started a fantastic year so I’m glad to be back as defending champion. I played pretty good last week so hopefully I can keep the good play going. I really like coming here, Korea has been really good to me in the past so I’m excited to be here again.

Moderator: Na Yeon, also for you, you have a good track record here at Sky 72, how does it feel for you to be back?
Na Yeon Choi: In 2009 and 2010 I had great results here. I think I tried too hard to win again last year and I think that had an effect on my game. Since I didn’t play well last year, I really want to have a good tournament this week. I don’t have a win this season so I think my desire to win here is a little higher than some of the players but I don’t want to get too caught up in the result and outcome. I want to be able to enjoy the tournament with my home fans in Korea.

Moderator:  This is a bit of a preview of the International Crown coming up with Korea currently leading the standings and America in second. Can you all just talk a little bit about how excited you are for that event?
Cristie Kerr:  The LPGA needs these kinds of special events, they are exciting, they are a different format and I know the fans are going to be excited to see that kind of event.

Inbee Park:  As many of you may know the LPGA is launching a new event next year, the International Crown. I think it will be a great opportunity for the players in Asia because we don’t get to play in a marquee event like Solheim Cup. Since it is a new format that we have never really experienced before as a team, I think I will have a lot of fun playing with my friends and I think it will also be a fun event for the fans.

So Yeon Ryu:  As you may know, golf has been elected to be an Olympic sport in 2016 but golf doesn’t have an Olympic type style event yet. I think playing in something like International Crown representing our countries will be a great experience for us and great exposure for the game. I think this is an opportunity to promote the game of golf in other countries that many people may not know about the game otherwise. I think it will attract significant interest to the game.

Moderator:  Paula, you have yet to make a trip to the winner’s circle this year but you’ve been on the verge all season. What would it mean for you to get a win this week?
Paula Creamer:  Obviously it would be a very special thing. I didn’t get to come to Korea last year, I had to miss it because I was playing in another event but I’m really excited to be here. I’ve always liked the golf course, it seems to set-up well for me and it’s fun to be able to come here, we only get a chance one a year. I always have great fans out here, they love their pink and it’s kind of cool to have such a nice welcoming in another country. To have a win here would be great, it’s a great field and a lot of great players here.

Moderator:  I know you are always very interactive with your fans, what role do they play in your career?
Paula Creamer:  I think fans are 100% a part of what we do. They are there through the good and bad and they pull for you no matter what. Just to have that extra support, you can’t thank them enough and just try to reach-out to them through social media is something very important and also when you’re here in another country to embrace their culture is even more important. I try to do as much as I can when I do come to other countries and being here is nice. Being here earlier in the week makes it easier to be able to do things, try different food, stuff like that. The fans help you by telling you where to go so that’s a nice little perk to have.

Moderator:  Suzann you have been closing the gap into Inbee’s lead in the Rolex Rankings and Official Money list, has there been any banter going on between the two of you?
Suzann Pettersen:  I have a lot of fun out here. This is a great job and I think we are all trying to become the best we can be. Inbee has had a phenomenal year, she has won three majors and that’s pretty impressive all within itself. I can just work on myself and I feel like I’ve had a fantastic year. Ever since I won here last year I think I won six or seven times around the world. I feel very fortunate to be able to do what we are doing and go to countries where a lot of our players are from to showcase our skills in front of their home crowd. I’m just glad to be a part of the LPGA.

Moderator:  Inbee, you are still ranked No. 1 in the world heading into this week. How does it feel to be back home this week?
Inbee Park:  I’m very happy and it’s an honor to be able to come back home as the No. 1 player on the Rolex Rankings. This is the first time I’m playing in an LPGA event in Korea as number one so it’s very meaningful for me. Although I’m number one in the world, I think I still have a lot of things to get better at so I wouldn’t say I’m a complete player as of yet. Of course I’ve had a lot of wins this year but I don’t think I have been as consistent throughout the year as Suzann or Stacy. I think my second half has been a little slow but I think I’m learning a lot from watching those two players and how consistent they are on the golf course. This week I want to learn even more from Suzann and play my best.

Moderator:  So Yeon, I read online that if you could go in back in time and witness one event it would be the Olympics that were held in Seoul. How does it feel to know that golf will be in the Olympics in 2016?
So Yeon Ryu:  As an amateur I won all the gold medals you can so I don’t think I’m pressing for a gold medal. I think being included in the Olympics will really promote the game of golf and I think even today the image of golf has improved and I think the Olympics will continue to promote and improve the image of the game to more people.

Q.  Inbee has won three majors this year. For all other players, how big of an accomplishment do you think that is?
Cristie Kerr:  I think playing golf professionally for almost 18 years now, I’ve never seen anything like that. I think maybe Tiger Woods obviously but Inbee winning three majors in one year is probably one of the most significant accomplishments in golf in a very, very long time. I think that’s pretty special and looking from the outside in, it’s great if we win one major let alone three in one year, it’s pretty amazing.

Paula Creamer:  I think, like Cristie said, it’s hard enough to win one but to win three is something else. I played junior golf with Inbee and to have grown up with her, it’s actually really neat and kind of fun to watch. I know we are all obviously trying to win and not let her win the second or the third one but to have that history and playing with her when we were 15, 16, 17-years-old and to have that history now and to watch her have this successful year and be so happy in general is really nice. It shows that you can have a balance of everything and for her to have won three in a row, there’s really not a good description to describe it because it is something that a lot of people don’t come close to. Not to win three but three in a row is pretty remarkable.

Q.  Suzann, you are closing the gaps to Inbee Park in the past couple of weeks. How determined are you to play this week and win?
Suzann Pettersen:  I feel like I’ve been on Tour quite a long time now and I feel like we’ve had some great number ones during my time on the LPGA. Annika Sorenstam was one, Lorena Ochoa was a great number one, Yani Tseng was a very dominant player and now we have Inbee and I think all I can do is try to become the best I can be. I love waking up every day trying to get better and I look at my game trying to approach it in the most professional way. It’s a blessing just to be out here and to compete with the top players in on Tour. I think we have probably the deepest field on Tour now compared to when I first came out. I feel like there’s a much better depth of good players and I think it’s hard to win each and every week. It really takes your very best and that also puts Inbee’s performance this year in a special place. If you keep winning tournaments, the rest will take care of itself and that’s what I’m trying to do.

 

Topics: Notes and Interviews, LPGA KEB • HanaBank Championship

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