Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship
Sunrise Golf & Country Club
Yang Mei, Taoyuan, Taiwan
Second-Round Notes and Interviews
October 25, 2013
Suzann Pettersen continued her impressive play on Friday as she fired a second-round 3-under 69 to extend her lead at the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship.
Looking to defend her title, the Norwegian carded one eagle, two birdies and one bogey to take a commanding five-stroke lead over South Korean Sun Young Yoo and Spaniard Carlota Ciganda into tomorrow’s third round.
Pettersen’s round was jumpstarted by a hole-in-one at the par-3 second where she used a pitching wedge from 133 yards to record her third ace on the LPGA Tour.
“I called the shot, I hit it exactly how I wanted and was fortunate enough that I had a good break,” said Pettersen. “It was a very good shot. It's nice to get a hole-in-one when you actually call the shot in advance and then pull the trigger.”
Following the eagle, Pettersen cruised along the front-nine of Sunrise Golf & Country Club as she recorded six consecutive pars before carding her first birdie of the day at the par-5 ninth. After making the turn at 3-under for the day, Pettersen picked-up her first bogey of the day at No. 14 but was able to claw her way back to 7-under for the tournament with a birdie at the par-5 18th.
With swirling winds making scoring conditions difficult on Thursday and Friday, Pettersen was the only player in this week’s 78-player field to record two subpar rounds.
“So today was a really tough day,” said Pettersen. “The wind got stronger and stronger and it's definitely not easy out there. The wind and the conditions tests every aspect of the game. I mean, even a 80-yard shot it's challenging enough to control the spin and know what the ball is going to do. Standing over putts, you feel the wind on the body. It's a mental test out there but it's a fun challenge. I've been playing really solid golf, and I'm excited to be where I'm at after two days.”
As the 13-time LPGA Tour winner is inching her way one-step closer to clinching her fourth victory this season, she is also making a significant dent into Inbee Park’s lead in the Rolex Player of the Year race, LPGA Official Money List, and Rolex Rankings. With a limited number of events remaining on this year’s LPGA Tour schedule, Pettersen knows she will have to continue an impressive stretch of tournament that has included two wins and two top-3 finishes if she wants to finish the year on top.
“I'm playing pretty good,” said Pettersen. “I'm trying to shoot the best I can shoot, and if I want to finish where I want to finish at the end of the year, I've got to start this week and try to make the most out of this tournament. That's kind of where my focus is.”
Enjoying the ride… A season that has included three wins and 10 additional top-10 finishes would be hard for anyone not to enjoy but for Rolex Rankings No. 2 Suzann Pettersen, she is enjoying the ride now more than ever.
“I think I'm just getting to the point in my career that I'd better just enjoy what I do,” said Pettersen. “I'm tough enough on myself that, I mean, I can grind it out on the course and kind of be focused. But I'm trying to enjoy this ride, because I guess I'm maturing and you actually realize that you are fortunate to do what you do.”
Fortunate she is indeed and while Pettersen remains focused on the golf course, the reason she earned the nickname “Smiley” takes center stage once she is away from the links. Playing in her third consecutive tournament in Asia at this week’s Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship, Pettersen is relishing in the opportunity to play in front of the supportive crowds in Taiwan.“I'm happy to be healthy, happy to be able to work on my game every day to get better,” said Pettersen. “So for me, I don't know, I love playing golf; I love playing in Asia; I love coming to Taiwan. I don't see the reason why not to play here.”
The difference a day makes… Sun Young Yoo opened this week’s Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship with a 1-over 73, but the South Korean made a significant comeback on Saturday as she fired an impressive 3-under 69 in the midst of windy conditions.
Nestled on top of a mountain, Sunrise Golf & Country Club has become notorious for its swirling winds. Keeping with the norm, the wind howled during Friday’s second round but Yoo knew what to expect as she clawed her way up the leaderboard from a tie for 14th into a tie for second.
“I knew it was going to be windy today, so I just focused on where I want to start the ball, instead of focusing to getting close to the pin,” said Yoo. “So I think I focused very well on this, so it worked out good.”
While Yoo made a significant comeback on Friday, the player known amongst her peers as “Course Clown” still trails current leader Suzann Pettersen by five-strokes. Yoo will have to string together a couple more solid rounds on the weekend if she wants to hoist the trophy on Sunday, but according to the 2012 Kraft Nabisco Championship champion, the thought of winning very rarely creeps into her mind.
“I don't really think about anything,” said Yoo. “I know it's going to be windy the next two days, as well, so I just want to do the same thing as today and see what happens.”
“It really helps, I love them and it's so nice to just finish your round and you can talk to them, you can go for dinner, you are laughing all the time,” said Ciganda. “I think that's great, the more Spanish we have on Tour, the better. I love Spain and I support my country.”
Viva la Spain! Carlota Ciganda is playing in her first full season the LPGA Tour but the Spaniard hasn’t had to do it alone as she has had fellow country women Azahara Munoz and Belen Mozo by her side every step of the way.
The trio will have the opportunity to join forces with fellow Spaniard Beatriz Recari to represent their country at next year’s inaugural International Crown. The biennial team match play competition will feature eight countries and the top four ranked players from each of those countries.
Spain currently holds the fourth spot in the rankings and Ciganda, who was a member of this year’s winning European Solheim Cup Team, will have the opportunity to compete for her country with some of her best friends by her side.“I can't wait to play as a team,” said Ciganda. “Solheim Cup was unbelievable and playing for your country, it's great. So I hope I will be there with my friends Aza, Belen and Beatriz, and I think we have a really good team that we can do well. So we try our best.”
Of note… Suzann Pettersen received a $10,000 check from Chairman Hsu of Sunrise Golf & Country for her hole-in-one at the third…Yani Tseng fired rounds of 76-78 and currently stands in a tie for 62nd.
THE MODERATOR: Suzann, let just start off stalking about your hole-in-one, did that kick start your round at all?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, it was definitely a good hole. I don't know if it really kick started. I couldn't get the putts to drop after that. But I sat on the tee and it was a very good shot. I called the shot, I hit it exactly how I wanted and was fortunate enough that I had a good break. It was a very good shot. It's nice to get a hole-in-one when you actually call the shot in advance and then pull the trigger.
So today was a really tough day. The wind got stronger and stronger and it's definitely not easy out there. The wind and the conditions tests every aspect of the game. I mean, even a 80-yard shot it's challenging enough to control the spin and know what the ball is going to do.
Standing over putts, you feel the wind on the body. It's a mental test out there but it's a fun challenge. I've been playing really solid golf, and I'm excited to be where I'm at after two days.
THE MODERATOR: You have a big lead heading into the weekend. Do you almost feel unstoppable?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I literally don't really look too much behind me. I'm playing pretty good. I'm trying to shoot the best I can shoot, and if I want to finish where I want to finish at the end of the year, I've got to start this week and try to make the most out of this tournament. That's kind of where my focus is.
Q. What's your overall evaluation of this golf course in terms of its challenges and difficulties?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: This course, I think the biggest challenge is the conditions. Last year we played here, it was not quite as windy. This is probably up to where it was the first year we were here.
This is to the point where it's really challenging. It's almost -- it's too strong to almost holed it up against the wind. You've got to play the wind and you've got to have the guts to see the shots and go for it, and I think the most important thing is to be in control of the spin.
Every shot is challenging. It's not like one easy tee ball or one easy iron shot out there. With this wind, you've got to be right there in the present every single shot, and don't really get too much ahead of yourself.
THE MODERATOR: The LPGA gave you the nickname Smiley, kind of as a joke, about how you never smile on the golf course. But since I've been with you in Asia, it seems like you've started smiling a lot more off of it. Is that the case? How much fun are you having?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I think I'm just getting to the point in my career that I'd better just enjoy what I do. I'm tough enough on myself that, I mean, I can grind it out on the course and kind of be focused.
But I'm trying to enjoy this ride, because I guess I'm maturing and you actually realize that you are fortunate to do what you do. I'm happy to be healthy, happy to be able to work on my game every day to get better. So for me, I don't know, I love playing golf; I love playing in Asia; I love coming to Taiwan. I don't see the reason why not playing here.
So for me, it's all about finding a good schedule that allows me to rest up in between so I can come back strong, and it's worked out pretty well so far.
Q. Which club you use on the second hole and how many times do you hit a hole-in-one in your career?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I hit a pitching wedge. I think it was 133. We tried to pitch it 128. That's all I remember. It was just a little pitching wedge.
How many? You know what, I'm getting so old, I can't remember them all. I think I had maybe three on the LPGA. Total, I've had five or six I think. I had a couple as a kid, so, I don't know if that counts.
Q. Do you consider Taiwan your lucky place, because you won here last year and this year you're in a commanding position; and you are close to Inbee Park in terms of the World Ranking, what do you think about that?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: You know what, when I played Swinging Skirts last year, I was out for dinner with Annika and Yani and Yani had bought both of us this present, and she gave this dog. It's because my birthday is in April and she said, this is your good luck charm for the year. It's a Chinese, what do you call it, on the Chinese calendar I guess. It's a dog year, whatever, and I've kept it very close to my heart ever since.
So I guess that is my lucky charm. It's not a real dog, like a little statue.
Q. So you were born in the year of the dog?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Probably, yeah. You know, I also did -- New Year's Eve, I was with some Spanish friends of mine and you know how they count down for the new years. For the last ten seconds into the new year, they have one great a second, and that's also a good luck charm. We did that and we had a lot of fun with it. So you eat one grape for each second as they come up, count down till midnight. That's also fun. That's also a good luck charm. I've done a lot of good things that should be in my favor.
Q. Last year in the final round, you kind of duke it out with Inbee Park. And Inbee obviously is not here this year. Do you miss the challenge from Inbee?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Our schedule is so packed. I was a little surprised Inbee didn't show up. I knew she was kind of planning on it but unfortunately that didn't work out.
Obviously you want to play against the best players in the world; have more than enough to play this golf course at this moment, so that's kind of where I'm going.
Q. You bogeyed your second hole yesterday in round one and today you had an ace; what's the difference?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Three shots is the difference. (Laughter).
Q. Did you make any adjustments?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Three shots, or three -- three putts. Today was good for my putting stats. No putts is always good.
Q. And on your sixth hole today, on your approach shot, there seems to be a wind that brings your ball closer to the hole. Did it help?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah, I was very lucky because I didn't get up on the green in time to mark my ball. I had a very tricky up-and-down. I just had to play for percentage. I left the ball a little bit above the hole. I can say that I played for that to happen, but as we were sitting waiting for Caroline to chip, my ball caught a gust and went from being 25 feet to about ten feet.
Q. Better day today, what was the main difference between today and yesterday?
SUN YOUNG YOO: I knew it was going to be windy today, so I just focused on where I want to start the ball, instead of focusing to getting close to the pin. So I think I focused very well on this, so it worked out good.
Q. You're still four shots back as of right now. What are your thoughts going into the weekend? What do you think about it?
SUN YOUNG YOO: I don't really think about anything. I know it's going to be windy the next two days, as well, so I just want to do the same thing as today and see what happens.
Q. Let's talk about your nickname, Course Clown; how did you get that?
SUN YOUNG YOO: I don't know. I don't even know who started it -- I think I'm pretty quiet on the golf course and I like to have fun off the course, that's how it started. But I don't mind people calling me whatever.
Q. You have a good sense of humor off the golf course. Does that help out here?
SUN YOUNG YOO: I think it's different, because I want to be more serious on the golf course. I don't want to be like goofy on the golf course.
Q. So how is it being in Taiwan this week?
SUN YOUNG YOO: It's all right. I like playing in Asia because I'm from Korea. It's not far from Korea. Yeah, I like it, I like playing in Asia.
Q. How difficult has it been playing in the weather the past two days?
SUN YOUNG YOO: I was kind of expecting this -- it's the same for everybody. Everybody knows it's going to be tough. I just keep doing what I'm doing right now and it will be good.
Q. Good day out there?
CARLOTA CIGANDA: Yeah, played pretty solid today, 3-under on the first nine, hitting great shots, making good putts and I birdied No. 10, so I was 4-under after that. I 3-putted 11, but I was hitting good shots and really confident so I just kept trying and I made a really good birdie on 12. Then on 13, the par 5, I hit it to the fairway, and second shot and also on the green, maybe five feet from the hole. I hit it too hard and then I had a putt downhill and I made 3-putts from there. That was a bit tough, making four putts to make a double.
But, I mean, I have good feelings, I'm playing good, and I think it was hard to play out there today, very windy and tough conditions. So I think shooting under par, it's good.
Q. That has to be pretty positive, knowing that you played well in these conditions. It seems like it's always windy here. Does that boost your confidence at all?
CARLOTA CIGANDA: It's my first year here, so I'm just trying to learn, trying to get to know every course. I'm very young; it's my first year playing in the LPGA, so I'm just trying to enjoy myself and I feel very lucky to be here playing. I have two more days to enjoy and I'll try my best.
Q. It seems like you have fun out here. I know you hang out with Belen, Aza and Beatriz a lot, does that help at all, having them?
CARLOTA CIGANDA: It really helps, I love them and it's so nice to just finish your round and you can talk to them, you can go for dinner, you are laughing all the time. I think that's great, the more Spanish we have on Tour, the better. I love Spain and I support my country.
Q. You're up there in the International Crown standings. How exciting is that tournament?
CARLOTA CIGANDA: I can't wait to play as a team. Solheim Cup was unbelievable and playing for your country, it's great. So I hope I will be there with my friends Aza, Belen and Beatriz, and I think we have a really good team that we can do well. So we try our best.
Q. Speaking of Solheim, you partnered with Suzann this year. It's looking like you two will play together tomorrow. Are you excited about that?
CARLOTA CIGANDA: Yeah, Suzann, on the course, she is very focused on her game and she is very confident. I really like the way she plays. I think it's a good example to follow, and if I play with her tomorrow, it would be great, because I mean, it's always a great learning experience to play with good players.
But I'm just going to try to focus on my game and stay aggressive.