Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship Pre-tournament News & Interviews Wednesday

Suzann Pettersen
Photo Credit: Victor Fraile/Getty Images

Suzann Pettersen of Norway celebrates after winning the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship at the Sunrise Golf Course on October 28, 2012 in Taoyuan, Taiwan.

Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship
Sunrise Golf & Country Club
Yang Mei, Taoyuan, Taiwan
Pre-Tournament Notes and Interviews
October 23, 2013

 

The LPGA Tour makes its way to Taiwan for the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship this week where Suzann Pettersen will try for a second straight week to mount a title defense during the Asia swing. The Norwegian won last year’s event in Taiwan by five strokes over Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park and six strokes over 2011 defending champion and then-No. 1 Yani Tseng. The win came just one week after she claimed the LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship. Last week Pettersen fell just shy of a title defense in Korea, as she finished tied for third.

 

The heat is on… Since taking over the top spot in the Rolex Rankings in April, Inbee Park has been unstoppable. All of that has recently changed however as Suzann Pettersen has applied pressure during a stretch of tournaments that has included two wins and two top-3 finishes.

The Norwegian has made a significant dent into Park’s lead in the Rolex Rankings, Rolex Player of the Year Race and the LPGA Official Money List. With Pettersen is returning as defending champion of this week’s Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship and Park is taking the week off, the heat is on now more than ever with only four events remaining on this year’s schedule.

“I’ve been playing very good for the past 12 months,” said Pettersen. “Obviously there are a lot of great players playing each week and I think the Tour is bigger than it’s ever been. I’m just trying to be consistent, play good, and try to be in contention every week.”

While Pettersen has put herself within striking distance of overtaking Park in several categories, she manages to put that in the back of her mind and stay focused on winning golf tournaments.

“I have had two decent weeks prior to coming here so I’m looking forward to one more tournament here in Asia before going back to the U.S. and obviously I know I’m within striking range of possibly getting to No. 1 before the end of the year,” said Pettersen. “It’s nothing I kind of tell myself every day but I know there’s a chance so all I can do is just go out, play golf and try to win tournaments.”

 

Hard work pays off… After a recent win at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, Lexi Thompson is proof that hard works pays off. Thompson recorded her first LPGA Tour victory before she was a professional at the 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic, but it took the American 44 tournaments to make a return trip to the winner’s circle.

While Thompson knew she was inching closer to a victory as she recorded five top-10 finishes before the win, her showing in Malaysia has given the teen standout a new level of confidence.

“It did a lot for my confidence,” said Thompson. “I worked extremely hard this past year, especially on my short game and I was pretty close, I got a couple thirds this year and a couple top-15’s so I knew it was coming and it was going to happen,” said Thompson. “I just tried to keep improving my game so to get that win, it just shows that my hard work paid off. It shows there’s always room for improvement with this game so I’m just going to continue to work hard and try my hardest in every event and go for a win.”

This week Thompson returns to Taiwan where she will feed off the energy of the fans as she looks to improve on a tie for 14th at last year’s Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship.

“I was really looking forward to coming back to Taiwan,” said Thompson. “This is such a great event and the course was in amazing shape for us last year. Today was the first day I played and it was in amazing shape once again. It’s always an honor to play in a limited field event so you try to do your best because you’re in a field with some of the top players in the world. It’s an honor to come to Taiwan and play in front of all the fans.”

 

Bubble tea mania… As the LPGA Tour returns to Taiwan this week for the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship, bubble tea has been the center of conversation amongst nearly every player in the field.

Bubble tea, also known as boba or pearl milk tea, was first invented in Taiwan in the 1980’s. According to Michelle Wie, she plans on indulging in the highly popular Taiwanese drink every night during this week’s event.

“It’s definitely one of my favorite stops of the year,” said Wie of this week’s event. “I really enjoyed playing here last year, the fans were incredible. Watching them root for Yani, I was waiting for Suzann on the green last year when she won so I have a lot of great memories over here. I’m excited for the fans this week and I’m really excited that this week is the land of bubble tea. I will be drinking it every night.”

 

Suzann Pettersen, Rolex Rankings No. 2
Lexi Thompson, Rolex Rankings No. 14
Yani Tseng, Rolex Rankings No. 25
Michelle Wie, Rolex Rankings No. 64

Q.  How does it feel to be back in Taiwan?
Yani Tseng:  I’m always very happy to be back here. It’s always very exciting to be back home because this year has been a little up-and-down but every time I come back home, everything is forgotten. I feel a lot of positive thoughts and positive energy here. I feel good about the course, I have been practicing here for years and I’m very excited to see all the fans out here and I’ll do my best.

Q. You’re always very happy and it seems like even when you aren’t playing well, you’re happy. Is that true?
Yani Tseng:  Yeah, I just feel like I know I have been through a lot of tough times. I learned a lot, I learned from my mistakes and I’ve tried to move on and do my best. I know a lot of people talk about it and give me a lot of pressure but I try to turn the pressure into motivation and try to do my best. That’s all I can do and I still have many years to come. I just try not to keep thinking too much and work hard.

Q.  Have you matured more recently?
Michelle Wie:  Yeah, I’m getting older, I just turned 24, but I’m just enjoying the game. Golf is hard, it’s not easy and I’m just going out there, working hard and enjoying the game playing with friends out here. I’ve just been working hard and there’s nothing more you can really do.

Q.  You are within taking over number one, do you think about that a lot?
Suzann Pettersen:  I’ve been playing very good for the past 12 months. Obviously there are a lot of great players playing each week and I think the Tour is bigger than it’s ever been. I’m just trying to be consistent, play good, and try to be in contention every week. I have had two decent weeks prior to coming here so I’m looking forward to one more tournament here in Asia before going back to the U.S. and obviously I know I’m within striking range of possibly getting to No. 1 before the end of the year. It’s nothing I kind of tell myself every day but I know there’s a chance so all I can do is just go out, play golf and try to win tournaments.

Q.  Yani, you eagled the last hole at the HanaBank Championship. Is it a good sign for her?
Yani Tseng: Yes, it’s a very good sign for me. In three weeks, I played a lot of time and a lot of attention to the course so when I get back to Sunrise, I think I will do my best this week. This course is very familiar for me so I will try to do the better than I did last year.

Q.  You all participated in last year’s tournament in Taiwan. How do you feel coming back to Taiwan this year and what are your expectations?
Lexi Thompson:  I was really looking forward to coming back to Taiwan. This is such a great event and the course was in amazing shape for us last year. Today was the first day I played and it was in amazing shape once again. It’s always an honor to play in a limited field event so you try to do your best because you’re in a field with some of the top players in the world. It’s an honor to come to Taiwan and play in front of all the fans.

Michelle Wie:  It’s definitely one of my favorite stops of the year. I really enjoyed playing here last year, the fans were incredible. Watching them root for Yani, I was waiting for Suzann on the green last year when she won so I have a lot of great memories over here. I’m excited for the fans this week and I’m really excited that this week is the land of bubble tea. I will be drinking it every night.

Q.  Lexi, congratulations on the win a couple weeks ago. What has that done for your confidence?
Lexi Thompson:  It did a lot for my confidence. I worked extremely hard this past year, especially on my short game and I was pretty close, I got a couple thirds this year and a couple top-15’s so I knew it was coming and it was going to happen. I just tried to keep improving my game so to get that win, it just shows that my hard work paid off. It shows there’s always room for improvement with this game so I’m just going to continue to work hard and try my hardest in every event and go for a win.

Q. After your practice round, are course conditions different from last year?
Suzann Pettersen:  They changed some of the greens out there. They put a new tee box on 12 and the left green. They moved the eighth green to the right and that’s about it. They moved the 13th tee back so you will probably see less people going for it with the wind predominantly coming from the left. There are a few changes but I think pretty much overall it’s the same.

Lexi Thompson:  Yeah, those are about the changes I’ve noticed. I noticed a few green changes and the one tee box change but overall the course is in great shape like it was last year. It’s pretty windy here so you just have to hit controlled shots and see where it goes.

Michelle Wie:  Those are the course changes I’ve also noticed as well. The course is in really great shape. It was windy today and we are expecting high winds for the weekend as well. I think it’s a little softer this year than last year but nothing too drastic.

Q.  Suzann, when we first came here a couple years ago, the year that Yani won, we were all blown away by the crowds. Outside of major championships and maybe the Solheim Cup, do you play in front of crowds like this?
Suzann Pettersen:  I remember my first year here, I was a couple groups behind Yani and when she was on the first tee, I don’t think I’ve seen anything like the crowds there. You play the Solheim Cup and it’s 24 players, two teams, but here it’s literally one player that draws that big of a crowd. It’s quite amazing and they are good crowds, they appreciate good golf. I was fortunate enough to be in the last group last year with Yani and I must say, I felt as welcome as Yani playing a round. Yani being a good friend, it’s great to see her position here in Taiwan. It’s always nice to come here and support ladies golf so I’m happy to be back and hopefully we will have massive crowds again because it’s a lot of fun to play.

Q.  Yani, many people say your performance is not like it used to be. Does that mean there is more room for improvement?
Yani Tseng:  I know people will come to the course and cheer for me this week. I know everyone has ups-and-downs but I just want to try my best because in 2011 I won and last year, I got third. I want to get better and better and maybe my dream will come true this year.

Topics: Notes and Interviews, Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship, Pettersen, Suzann, Tseng, Yani, Thompson, Lexi, Wie, Michelle [+]

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