Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia Second Round Notes and Interviews

Ilhee Lee
Photo Credit: Stanley Chou/Getty Images

Ilhee Lee during the second round of the 2013 Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia.

Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club- East Course
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Second-Round Notes and Interviews
October 11, 2013

South Korea’s Ilhee Lee continued her strong play in Kuala Lumpur and maintains a one-shot lead at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia after a 6-under 65 in Friday’s second round.
Lee’s two-day total of 13-under par leads American Lexi Thompson by one stroke. Thompson finished with an 8-under 63 that included seven birdies, an eagle and one bogey. Last week’s winner Shanshan Feng (67-65) is in solo third and three shots back at 10-under par. American Paula Creamer (66-67) and South Korea’s I.K. Kim (67-66) are at 9-under-par and in a tie for fourth.

Lee played her first nine holes 5-under par and extended her lead to as large as four strokes. But a blazing back-nine by Thompson cut the lead to one shot heading into the weekend. Lee said her goal each day was to aim for 3-under and said she has surpassed her own expectations the first two days.

“I did,” said Lee. “I tried to do exactly the same thing as yesterday. So my goal was 3 under par today. Then, yeah, I putted good and made more, so it was fun.”

Lee, who has one bogey through 36 holes, said she hasn’t been hitting it particularly well but her putter has been making up for it. She had 26 putts in the first round and 27 on Friday and ranks tied for third this week in putts.

“I did mistakes a lot, actually,” said Lee. “I missed shots a little bit, but the putt was good, so I saved a lot.

Lee is playing for her second-career win and second this season. She won the inaugural Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic in May.

Thompson had three birdies and one bogey on the front nine and made the turn five shots off the lead. But an impressive back nine that included a streak of four birdies and an eagle pushed the 18-year old up the leaderboard. Lee dropped her only shot of the day on the par 5 16th hole to cut the lead to one shot.

“It was all about momentum,” said Thompson. “On the back nine I made a few birdies and then I had that eagle, so I pretty much just had it going my way. I just tried to keep confident out there. Focused on one shot at a time.”

Thompson is coming off a third-place finish at the Tour’s final major at the Evian Championship and had three weeks at home in Florida. But the Coral Springs native was forced to take a break from swinging the clubs.

“I actually got my wisdom teeth out the week I got back, so I had to take a whole week off pretty much, but I definitely needed a break,” said Thompson. “I figured I'd go home, relax and practice up for these last few events of the year. I came into this week feeling ready and just confident about it.”

Amy Yang set a new tournament record for 18 holes after she finished Friday’s second round with a 9-under 62 on the East Course at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club. Her round included 10 birdies and one bogey and was Yang’s career-low score by two shots and best round this season by four strokes. The round jumped the South Korean from T48 at the start of the day into a tie for sixth.

“I would say it was a great round, you know?” said Yang. “First of all, it was a great round. But I've shot 10 under before, but it was the Mini Tour, but this is my best on the LPGA Tour, and it feels great.”

Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park shot even-par 71 and dropped into a tie for 39th at 1-under par. No. 2 Suzann Pettersen (67-68) is six shots back at 7-under par while No. 3 Stacy Lewis (69-68) is in a tie for 16th and eight shots back.

Solheim Cup boost
: Lexi Thompson became the youngest American to play in the Solheim Cup at 18 years, 6 months and 6 days old when she joined Team USA at the 13th staging of the biennial event this year. The second-year LPGA Tour member said she has felt dramatic improvements in her confidence on the course since playing on one of the biggest stages in women’s golf.

Since playing in the red, white and blue at Colorado Golf Club in August, Thompson has not finished outside the top-20 in LPGA Tour events. Her finishes include a T20 at the CN Canadian Women’s Open, T9 at the Safeway Classic and a third place finish at the Evian Championship.

“I think Solheim Cup helped me so much with my attitude and confidence out on the golf course,” said Thompson. “That is probably the most pressure you'll ever play under. So I get out to a regular LPGA event, and I'm a lot more relaxed now. Hitting those shots under pressure, you know you can do it once you pull them off. So you come out here and have nothing but confidence out there.”

Missed the memo:
Shanshan Feng and I.K. Kim had some deja vu on Friday when they received the same pairing with American Cristie Kerr for the second round of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. Feng joked that she told Kim’s caddie that they should all go for 10-under but claimed he didn’t pass along the message.

“Well, it was kind of interesting because we got the same pairings, exactly same pairings as yesterday,” said Feng. “So this morning I saw I.K.'s caddie, Johnny, and we were talking. We say maybe we want to play again tomorrow. So I said let's meet at 10 under, but I think because Johnny didn't tell I.K., so she didn't know. But we still have a chance to play together tomorrow.”

Feng reached her goal of 10-under after finishing with a 6-under 65 on Friday and moved into solo third, one shot in front of Kim. The Chinese major champion said she feels right at home in Kuala Lumpur. Feng had a busy few days leading into this week’s event and participated in a charity event, a junior clinic and was invited to have dinner with the Chinese ambassador.

She said the packed off-course schedule wasn’t even a product of her thrilling win last week in Beijing at the Reignwood LPGA Classic. A large Chinese fan base in Malaysia has kept the 24-year old comfortable and has helped her position herself within striking distance of her third-career win.

“Well, it was arranged before I won last week,” said Feng. “Of course, I'm really happy that I got a chance to actually help the LPGA in CARIF event. But it's good because I won last week, and there were many, many Chinese here this week. I actually had like a welcome party. It was a welcome party for me and another Chinese girl here this week by the ambassador of China. So I've played with him for a few times in the Pro Ams, so we've known for a long time now. It feels like still at home. I feel like I'm still in China.”

Korean tradition continued? Lee will try to become the fourth-consecutive South Korean to win the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia and add on to the all-South Korean champions list for the event. Past winners include Inbee Park (2012), Na Yeon Choi (2011) and Jimin Kang (2010).

Of Note…Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club received just over four inches (102 millimeters) of rain after play completed after the first round on Thursday.


SO YEON RYU, Rolex Rankings No. 4

Q. So, good day today. A lot better than yesterday?
SO YEON RYU: Lot better, yeah.

Q. How did you feel today that was much different?
SO YEON RYU: Well, honestly, this week my shot condition wasn't really great, but the thing is my coach is here this week, so we fixed a little putting skill thing. Today the putting was really great, so I made a lot of long putts and I saved a lot of par putts.
That is kind of key. Always putting is really important. Even still my shot wasn't great, but if I putted well, I can be more confident. So, I'm pretty thankful about the putting.

Q. How long were you struggling on putting, because you've had good finishes the past couple of events?
SO YEON RYU: Yeah, it is, but this year still my record is not bad. But I could have won so far but because of putting is what I think. Also if I compare with last year's date and this year's date, the putting number is too big this year. So this year I pretty much really wanted to improve my putting skills. I'm pretty sure it's time to improve it.

Q. What is your coach's name?
SO YEON RYU: Ian Triggs.

Q. So moving up on the leaderboard, two days in. What about the rest of the week?
SO YEON RYU: Hopefully, now, yesterday and today putting was really great. So I'm really happy with it. If I just think about thinking about the long game thing, I'm going to practice with my coach again hopefully tomorrow and the weekend game needs improvement.

Q. What specifically putting wise were you working on?
SO YEON RYU: Well, before I used like too much used my hands. Golf is really simple is really important, but I wasn't simple. Like too much complicated. So this week my plan is just simple and hit.

Q. Keep your hands quiet?
SO YEON RYU: Yes.

Q. So keeping your hands a little more quiet, it got a little too complicated?
SO YEON RYU: Yes.


SHANSHAN FENG, Rolex Rankings No. 8 and I.K. KIM, Rolex Rankings No. 10

THE MODERATOR: I would like to welcome in Shanshan Feng and I.K. Kim into the interview room. Great days out of both of you guys. Shanshan, you're 10 under now. I.K., you're 9 under. Right in the mix within striking distance. Shanshan, talk about playing with I.K. today, and how you played off each other? Kind of positive vibes or anything like that going on?
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, it was kind of interesting because we got the same pairings, exactly same pairings as yesterday. So this morning I saw I.K.'s caddie, Johnny, and we were talking. We says maybe we want to play again tomorrow. So I said let's meet at 10 under, but I think because Johnny didn't tell I.K., so she didn't know. But we still have a chance to play together tomorrow.
I feel really good playing with Cristie and I.K. They're very good players. I mean, we were trying to make birdies and that was fulfilling.

Q. I.K., you've been playing very solid all year. Two runner up finishes so far this year. Right on the brink. You've had a lot of good top finishes. Talk about how you felt this whole season and coming into this end of the year stretch?
I.K. KIM: Thank you. This season has been interesting. From the start I had a really good start of the year, and I had a good chance to win a few times. I can't believe it's already over. Time really flies this year.
I'm glad to be here in Malaysia. Everything's nice. I mean, mostly the weather. I think we've been kind of lucky. Hopefully it stays dry. Yeah, this week I'm very comfortable and confident playing this golf course. I've played a few years and playing with Cristie and Shanshan last year. So I mean, one last week, yeah, in China it was an impressive finish. So I think everything's going great.

Q. You've had a busy week. I saw you on Tuesday or Wednesday, I guess, and you had already done the Paris event, then you did a junior event. You've been kind of doing everything. Is it kind of a blur coming off of the win or has it helped a little bit keep your mind off things?
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, it was arranged before I won last week. Of course, I'm really happy that I got a chance to actually help the LPGA in CARIF event. But it's good because I won last week, and there were many, many Chinese here this week. I actually had like a welcome party. It was a welcome party for me and another Chinese girl here this week by the ambassador of China. So I've played with him for a few times in the Pro Ams, so we've known for a long time now. It feels like still at home. I feel like I'm still in China.

Q. What night was that?
SHANSHAN FENG: That was, was it last night? Hold on. Oh, two nights ago. I'm sorry.

Q. I'm sure the golf course is playing differently from yesterday to today. Can you tell us how different and how has it affected the course? Have the rain changed things?
SHANSHAN FENG: I thought the rain was going to make all the fairways and greens softer. So like the first hole I really went for it to try to land close to the pin, but it didn't stop. It's still pretty similar as yesterday.

Q. That's surprising. I think they said they got over four inches of rain, did you expect it to be more?
SHANSHAN FENG: Yeah, I didn't expect it.

Q. Let me go back to last week. When you hit that second shot on the 18, what was going through your mind? Because you sort of turned your head because it was going in the water?
SHANSHAN FENG: Yeah, thank you for your question. I've been asked that question for ten times maybe or 20 times. Well, let me explain one more time. So that green is really long and flat. I remember sorry, like long this way, not deep. Then I aimed at the center of the green, and then the pin was on the right. But I thought I wasn't long enough to carry the front right, so I aimed at the center of the green and just tried to have a chance for an eagle putt. Then I hit it, of course, it curved. It cut a little bit, so I was like maybe I wasn't making it to the green.
Then I just heard all the crowd like Wahhh! And I was like it should be on the green. So I was really surprised, and I didn't know it hit the pin before I putt, actually.

Q. Were you nervous when had you to putt?
SHANSHAN FENG: I was so nervous. Well, I had the same distance for winning in the major last year. But I would say I was more nervous this time. I mean, I was there, I was doing my routine, and usually I stand over the ball and look at the hole once and then I putt. I was like after I putt I felt like my legs were almost starting to shake. I'm like, I have to just get it out there. Then I make a stroke, and it lipped in. So it was good.

Q. And all of China celerated?
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, I left China right away, four hours later. I'm not really sure what they're doing back home. But I was on that news of the day on the main channel in China, CCTV. That is huge for golf. I don't think any golf news has been on there, so I'm really happy.

Q. Shanshan, you mentioned that you mentioned to your caddie about 10 under. Was that sort of the target that started the run?
SHANSHAN FENG: Maybe. I mean, I didn't want to say anything like 5 or 6 under, so of course we want to say a little higher, right? Well, I never really think about it when I was playing.

Q. You've playing well the first two rounds. What is the key to that, do you think?
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, I think this course, I've had some good finishes on this course and I really like the course because you need to be really accurate. If not, you'll get in bunkers. If you get in rough or you get in bunkers, then you have chances to actually make bogies. But I think what I've done well these two days were my driving and my iron shots were pretty accurate. So it was fine.

Q. IK, you’re taping your wrist?
I.K. KIM: I don't know. It looks better than what it actually is, but the tape really helps playing.

Q. Got the tan lines going, mostly preventive?
I.K. KIM: Mostly, hopefully.

Q. You had a couple of weeks break. You didn't play in China. You played well in Evian. What was your schedule like and what did you work on in your game? Did you put the clubs away at all? What was your schedule like coming into this week?
I.K. KIM: Yeah, after Evian, it was kind of the first time ever that I was with family for Thanksgiving in Korea. So everything was closed down, so just spent time with family. Little bit of practice, seeing old friends and things like that. But, yeah, I think this week I don't know. I played last week in Japan, which I played last year in the Japan Open. I think it kind of helped me coming over here to play.


LEXI THOMPSON, Rolex Rankings No. 21

Q. Well, I would like to welcome in Lexi Thompson. Lexi, great round today. Currently ranked second by just 1 now. But take us through your day today, fantastic round, a little up and down, but take us through the round, your birdies, and obviously that beautiful eagle on 14.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I shot 2 under on my front nine, so pretty steady first nine, just made pars and made a few birdies. But my back nine started and I think I birdied 13 and 14 and then eagled. I birdied 11 and 12 and then eagled 13 or whatever, so I'm so confused. But it was all about momentum.
On the back nine I made a few birdies and then I had that eagle, so I pretty much just had it going my way. I just tried to keep confident out there. Focused on one shot at a time.

Q. What was the yardage and the club?
LEXI THOMPSON: On the 14th hole I had 127 yards, a little too the wind, so I just hit a controlled pitching wedge and it one bounced in.

Q. I was going to say you were like oh oh. It was almost expected? You knew it was online?
LEXI THOMPSON: It was right online. But I couldn't see the bottom of the hole, but a few of the volunteers up by the green started yelling, so I was like, all right, maybe it went in.

Q. You tied for 30th last year here. Do you have any memories of this course or expectations that you've kind of been playing off of? Did you have any course management approach this week that you ran with?
LEXI THOMPSON: Well, I remembered how I played the course last year. It's playing pretty similar, maybe a little softer this year. But I had the same course management this year. I just might be hitting a little straighter this year than I did last.
The course is in amazing shape as usual, and I was looking forward to coming back. It's pretty hot out there, so just trying to stay hydrated. But the course is in amazing shape, so it's always an honor to play here.

Q. Since Solheim Cup you've played very well. Two top 10 finishes. Third at Evian, I believe, what an awesome finish for you. Did you think playing in that event really kind of helped catapult you? I know watching you on TV, you were playing with confidence and really embraced it. Do you think that helped turn things around in this season and going forward?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I really do. I think Solheim Cup helped me so much with my attitude and confidence out on the golf course. That is probably the most pressure you'll ever play under. So I get out to a regular LPGA event, and I'm a lot more relaxed now. Hitting those shots under pressure, you know you can do it once you pull them off. So you come out here and have nothing but confidence out there.

Q. International Crown is coming around the corner. You're in the mix. I think you're two back on making the team. So you still have time to make up for that fourth spot. Talk about the goal of making that team? Because I know you really embraced playing for your country, wearing the red, white and blue. How much of a goal is that in your mind in the short term almost?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, it's definitely one of my top goals right now. There is nothing like representing your country and wearing your country's colors. Like I said, it's the highest honor representing your country. Putting on the red, white and blue, and hearing USA cheers going up to the greens and everything. Words can't even describe that feeling.

Q. Now like I said, tied for third at Evian, solid finish in a major. Did you want to keep going? Or did you need that three week break?
LEXI THOMPSON: I did.

Q. What was your attitude after that and coming into this week after that break?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, well, I actually got my wisdom teeth out the week I got back, so I had to take a whole week off pretty much, but I definitely needed a break. I figured I'd go home, relax and practice up for these last few events of the year. I came into this week feeling ready and just confident about it.

Q. How did the surgery go? I got mine, and it's not fun or pretty.
LEXI THOMPSON: It went really well. I had all four wisdom teeth out. It took about 35 minutes, so I was pretty sore for a few days, but it went great. No more pains.

Q. Good excuse to drink milkshakes.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah. Exactly.

Q. I also believe you became an aunt in the time off. Your older brother had a baby?
LEXI THOMPSON: Uh huh.

Q. How special of an event was that to be home for that and just experience that with the rest of your family?
LEXI THOMPSON: It was amazing. We knew it was going to happen pretty soon, and she had the baby last Wednesday. It was actually when I was practicing, so we drove up there and I got to see Nicolas James. He is the cutest thing. Words can't even describe it. But, yeah, Aunt Lexi now. That's my name.

Q. You've been playing on the Tour for a couple of years now, and how has it been? You're quite young.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I'm 18 years old.

Q. How has it been playing with all of the top players?
LEXI THOMPSON: Well, I turned pro in 2010, so the first two years I was just playing on sponsor exemptions and getting used to it. But I've always played against older girls in older age divisions, so I've been quite used to it. But this has been my dream to play out in the LPGA. When I decided to turn pro when I was 15 years old, I knew it was the right decision to take my game to the next level.

Q. Are you still attending school?
LEXI THOMPSON: I graduated high school two years ago. I graduated a year early. I did online schooling, the Florida Virtual School.

Q. How was your game this morning? Was it different from how you played yesterday? How was the golf course playing today?
LEXI THOMPSON: It was playing quite a bit softer today with the rain. But it's still in really good shape. The greens are rolling so pure and pretty quickly. But I played pretty similar to yesterday. I had a good back nine, so I'm just going to try to keep that going into the weekend.


AMY YANG, Rolex Rankings No. 28

Q. Is that the best you have ever felt like you played in one round? That was pretty solid?
AMY YANG: Yeah, I would say it was a great round, you know? First of all, it was a great round. But I've shot 10 under before, but it was the Mini Tour, but this is my best on the LPGA Tour, and it feels great.

Q. You've been playing pretty well. The past couple events were solid finishes. Do you feel like you're going in the right direction or how did you feel coming into this week?
AMY YANG: I felt really good. I finished top 10 last week in China. I worked with a few other coaches through this season, so I was a little confused with my swing, but I stick to one coach now, and my swing got much better and I feel great.

Q. How many coaches did you work with? How many this year?
AMY YANG: I'd say just mainly two, but back and forth.

Q. So two switching back and forth was too much to handle?
AMY YANG: Yeah, both of them are good coaches, but just they are different, and that was kind of hard, yeah.

Q. Coming off such a great round for tomorrow, what do you try to match that you did today? Obviously, it will be difficult to match, but what do you want to try to do the same?
AMY YANG: I'm going to eat some lunch. Go back to the range. Make sure I'm doing the right things again and practice some more speed putting out there and get some good rest.

Q. How are conditions, heat, humidity, everything was a little wet?
AMY YANG: You know, this is the weather I'm usually practicing in. I practice in Orlando, and I'm used to it. It was really hard because it was too hot, but course conditions were great. They had a lot of rain yesterday. I mean, it was still good out there.

Q. This is the fourth year of this event, three South Koreans have won it?
AMY YANG: Oh really?

Q. Yeah, all three past years have been South Korean winners?
AMY YANG: Oh, yeah, yeah. I remember now.

Q. So you could try to keep that tradition going, obviously. What are you trying to do to still working on your first win? Really I know it's something you said you want to breakthrough. Do you think it will come around the corner?
AMY YANG: You know, I had a little tough time this season, so I struggled a little bit. I'll still keep trying hard and go for it.


ILHEE LEE, Rolex Rankings No. 39

Q. What was so good about your game?
ILHEE LEE: I hit it good today and I putted good. Everything was okay today.

Q. Are you happy being in the lead? Do you like that position?
ILHEE LEE: Of course I like it. It's fun being here. Yeah, it will be fine.

Q. Are you feeling very good going into the weekend?
ILHEE LEE: Of course, yeah, very good.

Q. How do you find the course? Do you find it very long? Are the greens very difficult?
ILHEE LEE: Yeah, the grain is very difficult here on the green, so reading the greens is very difficult.

Q. And you escaped the bad weather.
ILHEE LEE: It was okay. Yeah, it was good to me, yeah.

Q. You felt good coming into today, but did you think you would be able to almost match what you did yesterday? I know you said your goal was 3 under every day and you've completely blown those out of the water both days. You've surpassed your expectations?
ILHEE LEE: I did. I tried to do exactly the same thing as yesterday. So my goal was 3 under par today. Then, yeah, I putted good and made more, so it was fun.

Q. You think putting is still the key to how you played?
ILHEE LEE: Yeah, putting was good, and then the iron shots were important here too.

Q. And no bogeys again?
ILHEE LEE: No. I had one bogey on 16, yeah.

Q. What happened there?
ILHEE LEE: I pulled driver, so I chipped out. It was okay, but I pushed the third shot.

Q. Okay. What's been the key to minimizing mistakes on this course? A lot of players have been going bogey free, but it's not an easy course by any means. What is the key to not making mistakes here on this course?
ILHEE LEE: I did mistakes a lot, actually. I missed shots a little bit, but the putt was good, so I saved a lot.

Q. So your putter has been saving you in other areas?
ILHEE LEE: Uh huh.

Q. Now pressure going into the last two days. You still have the one shot lead, which is good. Did you think shooting 6 under would still only give you a one shot lead? I think you had about a four shot lead today, but Lexi came back a little bit?
ILHEE LEE: Same thing. Same thing I will try to be 3 under par every day and we'll see.

Topics: Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, Notes and Interviews

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