Reignwood LPGA Classic
Pine Valley Golf Club, Nicklaus Course
Third-Round Notes and Interviews
October 5, 2013
Rolex Rankings No. 9 Shanshan Feng has been playing with an entire nation of cheers behind her this week in Beijing at the inaugural Reignwood LPGA Classic and has a chance to claim her second LPGA Tour victory in front of her home country. Feng shot her second-consecutive round of 64 on Saturday and leads No. 3 Stacy Lewis by one shot at 21-under par. The duo battled each other in the final group throughout the entire third round, exchanging a total of 17 birdies. No. 1 Inbee Park sits in solo third and five shots back at 16-under par.
Tee times were pushed back 90 minutes before play began due to foggy conditions at the Nicklaus Course at Pine Valley Golf Club. Feng said she didn’t get off the start she wanted and was pushed by Lewis on the front nine to get into gear.
“At the beginning I was a little nervous,” said Feng. “It started a little slow. I made maybe two birdies at the first six or seven holes, and then when I got to the eighth, I made the long putt and then I started to make more birdies. And then I saw Stacy was making a lot of birdies, too, so I was like I need to catch up with her and then we just like birdies at the same time, or not at the same time.”
Both Feng and Lewis birdied the par 5 sixth hole to take the lead at 14-under par and never looked back while second-round leader Jessica Korda stumbled through her front nine. Korda was 4-over through her first 13 holes and finished with a 76.
After four birdies each on the front nine, Lewis and Feng made the turn at 16-under par to set the stage for an exciting final stretch. The two separated themselves from the pack and headed into the final three holes with a four-shot lead at 18-under par.
Lewis had to make a few clutch shots to stay within reach of Feng, who closed out with three straight birdies. The American chipped in from the deep rough on No. 17 and sank a five-footer the par 5 18th to finish one shot back.
“It was really sandy,” Lewis said of the chip in. “So it was kind of a hard shot and did exactly what we thought it was going to do. But just knowing she was hitting it in there close and the way she was putting all day Shanshan was going to make it. So I needed to do something. I was glad I did. If I don't chip in there and don't make birdie on 18 I'm three shots behind going into tomorrow. So those two shots are huge for the momentum of leading into tomorrow.”
Feng and Lewis will be paired with Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park in the final group on Sunday. Park closed out her day on Saturday with four straight birdies to get within five shots. Feng said she expects more exciting golf out of the star-studded group.
“Overall I think I handled the pressure pretty well, and I really had fun today and I'm pretty sure I'll have fun tomorrow playing with Stacy and Inbee together,” said Feng.
Bring it home: Shanshan Feng hopes to give her Chinese fans something to celebrate on Sunday and the 24-year old said winning in Beijing would just be another step in the right direction for her. She’s made 26 starts since her first-career win at the Wegmas LPGA Championship last year and set the goal of picking up two more victories in 2013.
“My goal this year is actually to win two LPGA tournaments,” said Feng. “And I haven't won one yet. So I don't have many left. So if I want to achieve my goals, maybe that's the time. But you know, I'm not going to put that in my head when I play tomorrow.”
Feng hasn’t shown any signs of the added pressure getting to her and says it’s been nice to finally see the support in numbers in person.
“I was really surprised that so many people came today, and the first two days, too,” said Feng. “And finally I know I do have a lot of people on my back supporting me at home, because when I'm overseas I don't see them. And then this time I'm here and I can see all of them. I'm sure some of them didn't have a chance to come. Well, they can watch on TV. So I just want to give it my all, give my best.”
Even Feng’s competitors admit how big of a deal it is for her to perform so well this week.
“I think I'm really happy to see a lot of people here in China watching golf and especially Shanshan playing well in front of them,” said Inbee Park. “I'm really just happy for her. If it's not me, I would want her to win. So it's just going to be good for China and Chinese golf and everybody.”
Stacy Lewis said every ounce of support has been well-earned by Feng but she wouldn’t mind stealing the spotlight on Sunday.
“She deserves it,” said Lewis. “Shanshan deserves this crowd. I mean she brought us here. She's the reason we're playing here, so she deserves it. I mean you could tell the crowd was definitely cheering for her. I mean we're in her home country. So I know it's going to be that way, but I would love to spoil the fun a little bit.”
Q. Very solid day, solid start and then kind of you said a little rough in the middle. Was there a point where you said, all right, let's get this going? Was there any point in the round where you felt that way?
INBEE PARK: I mean I felt that I was getting a little bit slow, and nothing really wanted to go in in the middle of the round, but I got off to a hot start. You sometimes get the rounds where you have up‑and‑downs, and I just tried to be patient out there, and finally a few putts dropped at the end.
Q. Did you see a leaderboard or anything?
INBEE PARK: Yeah. I saw it on the back nine, you know. I think they were just making so many birdies it was just too hard to catch.
And yeah, I think I gotta go pretty low tomorrow, too. This golf course is so scorable and you need to go aggressive and make birdies, so I think it's a lot of fun.
Q. Especially, like I said, the last five holes, it's going to be exciting, a lot of birdie chances, you guys, it'll be you, Stacy and Shanshan. It's a pretty exciting group. What are you looking forward tomorrow playing with them with probably what's going to be an exciting finish?
INBEE PARK: Yeah. They're, what, 20, 21‑under par, yeah. So they are like four or five strokes ahead of me. So I just go out with no expectations and just go low and just make a lot of birdies.
Q. And you and Stacy if you do unseat Shanshan somehow, we'll try to get you out safely because obviously everyone will be cheering for Shanshan, but what is it like to see the Chinese fans embrace her and just embrace the tour as well?
INBEE PARK: I think it's really ‑‑ I think I'm really happy to see a lot of people here in China watching golf and especially Shanshan playing well in front of them. I'm really just happy for her. If it's not me, I would want her to win. So it's just going to be good for China and Chinese golf and everybody, so yeah, I'm just going to give it my best shot.
SHANSHAN FENG & STACY LEWIS
Q. All right. I am now joined by Shanshan Feng and Stacy Lewis. Shanshan leading at 21‑under, Stacy trailing by one shot. Looked like you guys had a lot of fun out there today, playing back and forth. Shanshan, just take us through your round today. You played amazing?
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, at the beginning I was a little nervous. It started a little slow. I made maybe two birdies at the first six or seven holes, and then when I got to the eighth, I made the long putt and then I started to make more birdies.
And then I saw Stacy was making a lot of birdies, too, so I was like I need to catch up with her and then we just like birdies at the same time, or not at the same time. I think we made 17 birdies together.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. Yeah. That was great.
Q. Stacy, you got off to a stronger start today, thankfully. You said you were really going to try to get off to a quick start. How important was that today given how well Shanshan played?
STACY LEWIS: Well, it was huge. I knew scores were going to be low, so I couldn't wait like I did yesterday. So got off to a good start early, kind of didn't make anything in the middle, but then finished it out really nice.
And I felt like every time I got close Shanshan would kind of take one more ahead of me. So we just went back and forth ‑‑ it was fun, we went back and forth all day. We made each other make birdies and kind of keep moving forward and separated us a little bit from everyone else. So I expect it to continue tomorrow.
Q. Now, Shanshan mania this week. Everybody is loving Shanshan. Stacy says she wouldn't mind spoiling it a little bit. But talk about going into tomorrow. Everyone is going to be cheering you on. How big will this be tomorrow, you guys battling it out? It's going to be an exciting finish.
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, I think my goal earlier this week was just shooting 15‑under, 16‑under. So of course now I'm already past it. So it doesn't matter what my score is. If I just try my best and just to have fun.
Q. All right. Well, yesterday you said you wanted to start off fast, and you were much better today in taking care of the par‑5s. So just talk about starting off strong and kind of managing those.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. I definitely got off to a better start, more comfortable early, and I think birdieing the par‑5 was ‑‑ 5 or 6, whatever hole that is. 6. And I made a really good birdie there and that kind of spurred things on, and then I almost made a hole‑in‑one on the next hole. So got off to a really good start, and again, finished really nice which you have to do on this golf course.
Q. Talk about that shot on 7?
STACY LEWIS: 7, yeah.
Q. You thought it was going to go in.
STACY LEWIS: Well, couldn't see very well, but it was 185 to the pin, and I hit 5‑iron and it was tracking the whole way and just ended up a couple of inches right of the cup.
Q. I was going to say, it was six inches.
STACY LEWIS: Less than that, maybe.
Q. I guess talk about you and Shanshan going back and forth battling. That had to be a momentum giver just seeing her make shots, you guys were kind of just feeding off of each other. Talk about that.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, it was a lot of fun. It's a lot of fun when you make that many birdies yourself, but then to see somebody else doing it, too.
I felt like every time I got close she would make another birdie to kind of step away, so chipping in on 17 was huge when she had just hit it stiff, and then to make birdie on top of her on 18, I mean I needed to do that. I needed to keep close for tomorrow.
But it was fun. I mean you could tell the crowd was definitely cheering for her, but she deserves it. I mean we're in her home country. So I know it's going to be that way, but I would love to spoil the fun a little bit.
Q. How long was the putt on 18?
STACY LEWIS: Maybe five feet.
Q. How big was that?
STACY LEWIS: It was huge. I hit a great shot in there just short of the Green in two and then I hit a pretty good chip shot. It was about the same length of putt I had on yesterday on 18. So I wanted to try to make up for that putt yesterday.
Q. And then birdie putt on 15, do you remember?
STACY LEWIS: Oh, that was the drivable hole. I hit it just short of the green and then chipped up to maybe six, seven feet and made that.
Q. How big is that, the chip‑in? That was a big smile.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, that was definitely the worst shot I hit of the day, and got pretty lucky that it stayed there. It was really sandy. So it was kind of a hard shot and did exactly what we thought it was going to do.
But just knowing she was hitting it in there close and the way she was putting all day Shanshan was going to make it. So I needed to do something. I was glad I did.
Q. Do you think that was kind of a momentum, if you didn't sink that, that maybe things would have come out differently?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. If I don't chip in there and don't make birdie on 18 I'm three shots behind going into tomorrow. So those two shots are huge for the momentum of leading into tomorrow.
Q. I haven't seen the back and forth that much in a while. Have you been involved in that recently?
STACY LEWIS: I haven't really, but I mean I'm not surprised. Shanshan is hitting the ball great, and I mean Jess Korda and I were standing off to the side we're like she's going to make another one. She was just rolling it so good tomorrow.
Q. All right. Thoughts for tomorrow. I don't like to ask for numbers.
STACY LEWIS: Well, I don't think you go into it with a number. You just have to go out there with ‑‑ when people are making this many birdies, you have to go out there and take care of yourself, so that's what I'm going to try to do.
Q. And I like your line of you wouldn't mind to spoil the fun. Obviously people in the States, you'd have the gallery and everyone cheering for you, but it's going to be a little bit of a different feeling. Have you ever ‑‑ I'm thinking of a country where that's happened where you've kind of played and been kind of the underdog.
STACY LEWIS: Well, in Korea we get it a lot.
STACY LEWIS: But I think when we play in Asia in general that's just kind of the way it is. And we all know it's going to be that way. She deserves it. Shanshan deserves this crowd. I mean she brought us here. She's the reason we're playing here, so she deserves it.
Q. So after all that's just happened, how do you feel? Relaxed? Energized?
SHANSHAN FENG: Yeah. I mean I was a little nervous, you know, because Stacy played real well, but I mean overall I think I handled the pressure pretty well, and I really had fun today and I'm pretty sure I'll have fun tomorrow playing with Stacy and Inbee together.
Q. What a trio. That's going to be so fun to watch.
SHANSHAN FENG: There will be many, many birdies.
Q. That's going to be bigtime. Now, you and Stacy, you guys didn't have any bogeys really until ‑‑ you guys didn't have any bogeys?
SHANSHAN FENG: Not today.
Q. All today. Talk about minimizing mistakes through that. Minimizing mistakes. You guys are just dropping birdies everywhere.
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, I would say because we were mainly hitting fairways and greens, and we weren't too far from the holes, so we didn't make any bogeys.
I did actually miss some putts. I think I missed like a three‑foot putt for birdie on the 15 and a couple more maybe like 10‑foot putts. But overall I think I played real well.
Q. Yeah, did you think ‑‑ you played very well yesterday, 64. Did you think you were going to follow it up with a 64 or was it kind of just you didn't have a number in your head?
SHANSHAN FENG: I never thought about it.
Q. Yeah. Have you ever done that before, 64, 64? That's pretty ‑‑
SHANSHAN FENG: I don't think I've done that before, maybe 7‑under, 8‑under.
Q. How long was the putt on 16?
SHANSHAN FENG: 16. Hold on. It was a par‑5. So I two‑putted. I was on the green, second shot but the pin was way left and I was way right.
Q. Yeah, that really long putt. Yeah, the long one.
SHANSHAN FENG: That was maybe 20 yards.
Q. That was a great putt.
SHANSHAN FENG: That was at least 20 yards.
Q. How impressed were you?
SHANSHAN FENG: That was actually a really, really tough putt because we got like in the center part, it has like a big slope, sloping to the left, so I would have to be brave to hit through it. But I think I read it pretty well.
Q. You went for it. That was awesome. How big was the putt on 18 here? I heard the roar and I was like, she did it.
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, that was a pin location that I guessed, so I actually tried the exact same putt. It was in my book. So I did look at my book before I putt. I was like, let me see, I think I've had this putt before. And then it showed me it was right‑to‑left and then back to the right. So I knew it was a straight putt, and all I needed to worry about was just the speed.
Q. Right. When was the last time you felt this good playing wise, just kind of continuously, like you said you've been playing very good all weekend? When was the last time you felt this good, this much momentum?
SHANSHAN FENG: It reminds me about when I was in Dubai last year and that was the end of last year, and obviously I won the tournament. I was leading every day, though. I was 21‑under for four days. Actually that was my low four‑day score and now I'm 21 for three days. I never thought about it, you know.
And just like I said, because me and Stacy we keep making birdies, so I actually forgot about the scores and just tried to make more birdies. So that's why I got this low.
Q. And that back and forth type of play do you think just kind of letting the numbers go out helps or do you think it was just you guys were just working on much off of each other? Did you look at the scoreboard that much, leader boards?
SHANSHAN FENG: No. I have a habit don't look at the score boards when I play.
SHANSHAN FENG: Off course I'll know the people that are playing with me, how they're doing. But my focus was mainly on my own game, but it just happened that way with me and Stacy.
Q. Unbelievable. So biggest thing you're looking forward to tomorrow. It's going to be a fun day.
SHANSHAN FENG: Yes. Just want to have fun and want to have the same day like today.
Q. Awesome. What do you think it would mean if you were able to pull it out and have a big victory here? What would it mean for you?
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, my goal this year is actually to win two LPGA tournaments. And I haven't won one yet. So I don't have many left. So if I want to achieve my goals, maybe that's the time.
But you know, I'm not going to put that in my head when I play tomorrow.
Q. Right. In terms of just being in China and winning this event what would this mean for all these fans, all the people that have supported you? That would be huge.
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, yeah, I mean I was really surprised that so many people came today, and the first two days, too. And finally I know I do have a lot of people on my back supporting me at home, because when I'm overseas I don't see them. And then this time I'm here and I can see all of them.
And I'm sure some of them didn't have a chance to come. Well, they can watch on TV. So I just want to give it my all, give my best.