CME Group Titleholders Pre-Tournament Notes and Interviews

CME Group Titleholders
Tiburón Golf Club
Naples, Florida
Pre-tournament Notes and Interviews
November 19, 2013

SUZANN PETTERSEN, Rolex Rankings No. 2
NA YEON CHOI, Rolex Rankings No. 6

The 2013 LPGA Tour season comes to an end this week at the CME Group Titleholders in Naples, Fla. The Tiburón Golf Club located at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort will be the backdrop of this season’s event where the top-three finishers from each of the 28 events on the tournament schedule come together to make up a star-studded field for the season-ending tournament. Each player in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings top 20 will be in action.

The unique season-long qualifying format allows for the world’s best female golfers a chance to compete for the largest winner’s check on Tour at $700,000. Headlining the field this week is a trio whose stunning performances this year have earned them the top positions on the LPGA Tour: No. 1 Inbee Park, No. 2 Suzann Pettersen and No. 3 Stacy Lewis. No. 6 Na Yeon Choi is set to defend her title and is playing for her first win of the 2013 season.

Practice makes perfect: Eleven-year LPGA Tour veteran Suzann Pettersen has learned a lot of lessons throughout her storied career on Tour, but the Norwegian said learning how to prepare efficiently for tournaments has made all the difference in her on-course performance as of late.

“I think obviously I'm a little more time efficient because I have other things to do on my agenda so I don't have all day,” said Pettersen. “I wish I had all day.  But at the same time I'm very disciplined, I'm very structured.  I guess the easier part is I know what's needed for my game to be able to win on a weekly basis.  I probably didn't know that my first year on Tour and my second year on Tour, it was more guesswork.”

In addition to a revamped practice regime, Pettersen said a more laid-back approach to the game and keeping herself busy off the course has kept her mind fresh when she competes. The 32-year old said she’s become wiser as years pass and an extra smile sometimes makes the biggest difference. With four victories this season including three in her last six starts and her second major championship, she has a lot to smile about.

“I guess when you get older you get smarter, I guess,” said Pettersen. “I'm blonde, but I ain't stupid.  It's finally all coming together.  I think that more experience feeling comfortable, if it's me or if you go to work and you feel prepared, you're more laid back, you're not hoping for something to go well, you know you're prepared and you can kind of do your thing and ease off. 

“So I think the mentality that I kind of run with, I try to be the best I can be at practice.  If I'm the best I can be at practice, I know it's good enough under the gun in competitions,” said Pettersen. “For me I think I play a lot better when I'm more laid back, not as intense, even though I hate to lose and everything that comes with competing.  I think having that extra smile actually gives me a little bit of a leash to enjoying what I'm doing.”

Big Three? The majority of headlines on the LPGA Tour have been stolen by a trio of players whose play throughout the 2013 season have essentially separated themselves as the dominant performers. Inbee Park, Suzann Pettersen and Stacy Lewis can be found atop of the majority of major statistical categories and claimed all five majors this year.

When asked whether the threesome could be considered the “Big Three” on Tour, Pettersen said the friendly rivalry is good for the women’s game, but it’s the depth of talent on the LPGA that is the most impressive to her.

“I think the LPGA has a lot of great rivalries,” said Pettersen. “I guess the three of us is one good one, but I think also the depth on this Tour is now deeper than it's ever been.  It takes a lot more to win week in and week out.  If you look at majors won, it kind of represents the three of us, so I think from that aspect you can kind of call us maybe the big three.  I think it's a bit silly to just take out the big players when there's so many other great players out there who put in so much hard work.”

Under the radar… Rolex Rankings No. 6 Na Yeon Choi may not have a victory this year, but her statistics show that she’s had quite the impressive season in comparison to the tight competition the 2013 season has produced. With eight top-10 finishes including two runner-ups at the HSBC Women’s Champions and the RICOH Women’s British Open, Choi says she can’t complain about her season.

“I mean, actually some people ask me are you like in a slump or something because they always look at all the results,” said Choi. “I haven't won this year, but I think like you say, I think I'm still doing really good.  Like, you know, when I was rookie in 2008 I haven't won any, but after that I did a really good job, so hopefully I have a better season next year and for my future hopefully better.”

While Choi has year to break into the winner’s circle this year, returning to the CME Group Titleholders this week as the defending champion has her eager to end the season on a high note.

“I think time so fast, it's already a year past,” said Choi. “I always love to compete in Florida.  I came back Orlando four, five days ago from Asia and I love to practice at Isleworth, you know.  This course has Bermudagrass, same as Orlando, so I kind of used to it, this grass, and feel very comfortable and I have a great memory here.  I mean, you know, the course changed from last year so I can't take any course advantage from last year, but I think it looks very similar with the last year course.  I feel like kind of I'm ready.”

It’s been a full year since Choi purchased her house at Iselworth Golf & Country Club after she secured the two largest pay checks on the 2012 tournament schedule at the U.S. Women’s Open and the CME Group Titleholders. With a $700,000 first-place check on the line this week, Choi says she’s already planned on a big purchase should she successfully defend her title.

“I'm not sure, but I got to actually plan after this week if I finish very well, like win a tournament this week,” said Choi. “I actually beginning of this season I had a little goal for buying some stuff for me.  Still I couldn't get, you know, reach that goal, so hopefully I finish very strong this week and buy that like after this week.”

Look out for Lydia: Suzann Pettersen is one of many who is anticipating Lydia Ko’s transition to the professional ranks. The Norwegian played alongside Ko when she won her second major championship at The Evian Championship in September and thinks the Kiwi won’t have many problems with the jump. Ko was runner-up to Pettersen in France for her best finish at a major.

“I don't think Lydia has anything to prove,” said Pettersen. “She's already proven she's good enough to be out here on a regular basis.  She's probably won more events in the few professional events she's played than most of us.  I've felt it in my body losing to her and kind of just beating her, she's a great player, she has a great career ahead of her.” 

Pettersen also referred to the off-course responsibilities the teenager will face as she becomes one of the young stars on Tour. She said she hopes outside parties can let Ko live out her teenage years under the spotlight.

“I hope she's ready for what comes,” said Pettersen. “It's just not to go out there and play, but it's also responsibility to be a good character for this Tour and kind of help grow the game of golf.  I know her passion for golf is fantastic and she's a great girl.  Don't forget, she's only 16.  Give her a break as well.”

Act like a rookie… The recent epidemic of youngsters now playing professional golf has some of the most seasoned veterans curious as to how they are so quickly dominating on the LPGA Tour. For South Korean Na Yeon Choi, a seven-time winner on the LPGA Tour, she is most impressed with how they are able to turn pressure into motivation, which is something she’s been working on this year.     

“Actually, the pressure sometimes make you more motivated to play well, but I think every time over-trying is not good,” said Choi. “I think I did like over-trying to do it, play well or have a good result or like win a tournament.  Like when I see like good player like Inbee or Suzann, I don't see they really care about their results or even past.  They really focus on staying in the moment.” 

“And actually I played a KLPGA tournament last two months, like two tournaments, and I see a lot of younger players in Korea and I can see they play really aggressively than me and I learn from them, you know.  Actually when I was rookie, I didn't scare anything, but right now I kind of like scared to play or too much thinking, too much worry about.  So I really want to go back to how I started golf or when I came to the LPGA Tour, kind of that kind of demeanor, you know.”

Since joining the Tour in 2008, Choi has managed to capture at least one victory each season following her rookie year. In 2012, the Rolex Rankings No. 6 captured her first LPGA major victory at the U.S. Women’s Open and ended the season with a win at the CME Group Titleholders. Staring down a formidable challenge of defending her title this week, Choi is hoping that her mental game comes together this week to keep her winning streak going.

“I mean, I learned a lot, but still I have to improve on my game,” said Choi. “Also about mental, you know.  I think I got a lot of pressure on myself beginning of the season.  I started the season No. 2 in the world and I really, really want to be like No. 1, but I think I got too much pressure and too much to think about, you know, winning a tournament or about the results or lower scores, like something like that.  So I still like -- I think I need -- I can think more still rookie, I still rookie every week I think, then I be better, you know, if I keep trying to do like work hard.”

Quotable: “I'm blonde, but I ain't stupid.” –Suzann Pettersen on preparing smarter and feeling more comfortable both on and off the course

Tweets of Day:
“Excited to play with @Lko424 at her first tournament as a pro! #ifeelold” --@themichellewie

“@themichellewie so excited to play with you too unni! See you Thursday! J #youarenotold” -@lko424

 

SUZANN PETTERSEN, Rolex Rankings No. 2

MODERATOR:  I'd like to welcome in Rolex Rankings No. 2 Suzann Pettersen into the interview room here at the season-ending CME Group Titleholders.

Suzann, thanks for carving out a little time of your busy day.

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  No problem.

MODERATOR:  Let's just talk about the seasons-ending event, let's just look back at your 2013 season, lot of wins, a lot of success.  Do you look back on this year and think of a very successful season for you?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  Yeah, for sure.  2013, I felt like I prepared well going into the year, started off the way I usually do, a little bit slow, and then played my way into form coming into Kraft and then managed to stay on a high and won my first one in Hawaii.  And I think the most important thing this year, I feel like I've been able to put in the work in between tournaments to feel like I'm coming to sites prepared and ready to play.  Tried to bump up the quality at practice so I can actually just loosen up and enjoy it when I'm playing tournaments.  I think it's eased up a little bit on my mental frame of mind as well.  I'm not as hard on myself anymore.  But it's been some great highs, Solheim was definitely one of them, and I've been able to kind of feed off that great high since.  The biggest disappointment was U.S. Open, but at the same time as disappointing as it was at the time, I managed to kind of turn it around and do a few adjustments to how I prepare and it paid off pretty quick.  I think it's easier to play well when you kind of -- really everything's just on a flow and kind of anything you do, you kind of get away with it.  But for me it's always been, the toughest learning experience is definitely when you don't do well, especially during tournaments where you have high expectations yourself.  So it's been a great year.

MODERATOR:  Let's talk about like you said you're in a good place on and off the course and I think you've mentioned a couple times in interviews that the maturity level, you just feel very comfortable at this point in your life.  You said you're getting much more I guess comfortable in your own skin, you said you're feeling better on and off the course.

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  I think I've come to this point where I'm actually trying to put myself into a little bit more actions off the golf course.  I'm building my own business back home in my own name so that's kind of keeping -- that definitely gives me something different to think about, which is almost good.  I try to fill up my spare time with some good stuff.  I've got to also think about what to do after my golf career is over so that's what I'm already pre-starting so I'm not starting from scratch when that time comes, not that it's coming any time soon, but it definitely gives me a balance.  In the past I've probably been too much on golf, it's taken a lot of my time.  Well, at night I probably can't sleep because all I'm thinking about is golf.  I still do, but at the same time I get a balance of everything else that goes on, and having a great team around me also helps to kind of balance everything out.

MODERATOR:  Now, headlines this year have mostly been dominated by you, Inbee and Stacy in terms of wins, records, all this good stuff.  Talk about the battle between you guys and just how you guys have kind of formulated the big three in terms of big three players.  Do you consider yourself kind of in that grouping as the big three on Tour?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  I think the LPGA has a lot of great rivalries.  I guess the three of us is one good one, but I think also the depth on this Tour is now deeper than it's ever been.  It takes a lot more to win week in and week out.  If you look at majors won, it kind of represents the three of us, so I think from that aspect you can kind of call us maybe the big three.  I think it's a bit silly to just take out the big players when there's so many other great players out there who put in so much hard work, and I think it's great to see new young girls coming out doing really well.  Great to see Lexi win twice, great to have Lydia joining the Tour, They're all great athletes, they Bring the youth and the childish mentality out on this Tour, especially for the older ones like me.

MODERATOR:  Is there anyone specific that you maybe look towards or practice with that push you in terms of your game or people that you've maybe emulated in terms of training or practice or how they conduct themselves on course?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  I have a lot of great friendships with a lot of Europeans, obviously the Solheim bonds a lot of us a lot closer than before.  This time I managed to hang around a lot of these young sisters like Charley Hull, Carlota Ciganda and they're just great spirit.  They just really happy to be where they are, they're really enjoying the ride and it kind of gives me a little bit of the same kind of sense of just got to really enjoy what you're doing.  It helps me to be more relaxed, even though I feel like a mom being alongside of them.  It's great, I must say, but if I look at who I kind of go to to get support and get answers to some of my questions, I still feed -- I'll still lead to Annika because she has a lot of experience, she has some great words that would stick to my mind.  It's just nice to surround yourself with great athletes.

MODERATOR:  Let's talk about this week.  New course here at Tiburon.  Talk about the setup here.  Did you get any looks at it already this week?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  I was down here a couple of weeks ago.  The course is great.  I think it's a little bit on the narrow side off the tee than what we usually play, which is good.  Tough green areas, tough run-offs.  I guess this course really depends on the conditions we get.  If it gets windy, it's going to get tough.  I think if the wind stays down, I think you'll see some low scores.  I guess it's a typical Florida course, grainy greens.

Q.  You mentioned not being so hard on yourself.  How did you come to not be that way and how does it feel to not do that?  Do you catch yourself -- 

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  I guess when you get older you get smarter, I guess.  I'm blonde, but I ain't stupid.  It's finally all coming together.  I think that more experience feeling comfortable I guess is also -- I mean, if it's me or if you go to work and you feel prepared, you're more laid back, you're not hoping for something to go well, you know you're prepared and you can kind of do your thing and ease off.  So I think the mentality that I kind of run with, I try to be the best I can be at practice.  If I'm the best I can be at practice, I know it's good enough under the gun in competitions.  For me I think I play a lot better when I'm more laid back, not as intense, even though I hate to lose and everything that comes with competing.  I think having that extra smile actually gives me a little bit of a leash to enjoying what I'm doing.

Q.  With the year that you had in the past four, five years, would that have been good enough to be Rolex Player of the Year, because you had what, 15 Top 10s, you had all those wins, you had a major win.  Would that have been enough do you think?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  I don't know.  The Tour is covered by several great players and, like I said, it takes a lot to win week in and week out.  There's been a few players who's had a phenomenal year.  With Inbee winning three majors early in the year, nobody thought it was even going to be a question of who was going to be Player of the Year.  From that aspect I thought it was quite neat to get into a position where I actually had a chance, even though it was very, very slim, at least had a chance with a miracle to become the Player of the Year.  But I still think, I mean, winning three majors, you should be the Player of the Year.

MODERATOR:  You're still in the running for money list title and Vare Trophy.  Are those things that come into your mind anytime when you set goals or anything coming towards the end of the year?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  For sure.  I mean, the one that I kind of had my slimmest margin to win was probably Player of the Year, so the remaining titles, whatever you want to call it, is still very much on my mind.  It's great to have something to go out there on Thursday to play for.  It's going to take a very, very good week to be able to win here and we'll see.  All I can do is go out and post a score on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and see where that adds up and hopefully I can be there on Sunday.  My goal is to be in the last group on Sunday, then I feel like I have some kind of an overview of what's going on.  It's been a great season so far and Asia was again a very good addition to my Asian success.  I'm just really trying to finish off strong so I can take a break on a high.

Q.  Suzann, you've talked about how Annika's advised you.  What about being No. 1?  You stated before that's a goal for you.  Has she talked to you about specifically that mindset because she was No. 1 for so long, that that is something you have to do that's maybe a little bit beyond just going out and play well on the Tour?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  Well, I mean, if I never thought I was going to become the world No. 1 player, I don't think I would be sitting here today, I think I would have quit a long time ago.  That is what keeps me going.  I'm probably now more keen and eager to get up in the morning to do the stuff that I know is needed to get there. 

But like I said earlier, for me this is not a short-term goal.  I know I'm going to get there eventually but I just don't want to get there and disappear, I want to get there and dominate.  So if it happens now, if it happens in January, if it happens in two years, I'm really laid back to it because I know I'm good enough to be there and it's definitely one of my main goals.  Like I said, it's not like I just want to get there and disappear after a week.

Q.  You mentioned the course being narrower than others.  Do you think that gives any player or a couple players any more of an advantage than others?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  No, I think it's whole course management.  You've got to find a strategy that plays to your strength.  When I played it, the wind was in one direction.  If the wind turns, it might be the complete opposite.  Like I said, the conditions of the weather pretty much decide how this course plays.  I thought at the time it was a little bit on the short side, but then I talked to players who played there other days than when I played and the wind was complete opposite and obviously then it was playing different again.  You've just got to be prepared for whatever you may face.

Q.  How do you think Lydia will do as a professional?  Obviously you've got to see her up close and play with her a couple of times.

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  I mean, I don't think Lydia has anything to prove.  She's already proven she's good enough to be out here on a regular basis.  She's probably won more events in the few professional events she's played than most of us -- than the rest of us.  I've felt it in my body losing to her and kind of just beating her, she's a great player, she has a great career ahead of her.  I hope she's ready for what comes.  It's just not to go out there and play, but it's also responsibility to be a good character for this Tour and kind of help grow the game of golf.  I know her passion for golf is fantastic and she's a great girl.  Don't forget, she's only 16.  Give her a break as well.

Q.  I wonder if I could ask two things.  First about Lydia and then about you.  How different was it the first time you were actually playing for money when it wasn't an amateur?  She talked about she knows it's going to be a little bit different looking at a putt and in her mind doing the calculating.  I wonder if you can talk about that for yourself.

Second, you mentioned practice, I've read that maybe you've changed a little bit of the structure of your practice.  I wonder if you could talk about how maybe you've practiced different this year?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  Well, when it comes to the first time you go out and play for money, I still have my first check that I won in Sweden probably hanging on the wall at home.  I was very proud when we drove back from Sweden.  I was in the car with my dad.  I think it was three grand and to me it was a lot of money.  I said to my dad, I don't think I need any help from you for the next couple months.  My stroll to his wallet was always very neat, but I said, Dad, I think this is the first step on me cutting back on the support I get from you.  I mean, when you're that young, I don't think -- I didn't have kind of a relationship to money or the impact, kind of the prize money and all that.  I think that's something that comes with age.  I think she'll be good enough to handle anything that comes with it, her success.  I think the most important thing is to keep her kind of -- I mean, stay within herself and be herself, that's all she can do.  At least we get paid when we go out to work if you do well.  If you don't do well, you don't get paid.  So you've got to enjoy those paychecks when you do get them.

MODERATOR:  What was your first big purchase?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  Oh, my God, I don't know.  I'm not a big spender, I'm still not.  I like to give more than I like to buy myself gifts.  I'm glad Christmas is coming up for everyone around me.

Q.  I wonder if you can talk about --

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  Talking about practice.

MODERATOR:  Practice.

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  We're talking about practice.  You've got to practice the way you want to play pretty much.  If you want to win, you've got to practice like a winner.  If you want to finish 2nd, you've got to practice like a 2nd player.

Q.  How do you know how winners practice?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  I think I've been out here long enough to know what I've needed for my game.  That's experience.

MODERATOR:  Was it more hours, less hours, more efficient?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  I think obviously I'm a little more time efficient because I have other things to do on my agenda so I don't have all day.  I wish I had all day.  But at the same time I'm very disciplined, I'm very structured.  I guess the easier part is I know what's needed for my game to be able to win on a weekly basis.  I probably didn't know that my first year on Tour and my second year on Tour, it was more guesswork.  Now I know where my strengths are and certain areas that need to be improved, which is always going to be constant process.  It's nice when the few changes or adjustments or the a little bit of tweaks here and there pays off immediately.  Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't, and that's the patience or the impatience golf brings to your life.  I think I have all the right tools in the bag.  I feel like I have a great variety of shots in the bag.  I still like to work on getting even better, so I feel like I can face any possibility of conditions, pins, shots out there that's needed.  That will give you confidence.  Like when we played in Taiwan, the conditions were horrendous, it was blowing a million miles an hour and I felt like I had every shot in the bag.  The question of can you manage to pull it off at the right time but at least you have the picture in your head to handle any situation.

 

NA YEON CHOI, Rolex Rankings No. 6

MODERATOR:  It's my pleasure to welcome into the interview room the defending champion at the CME Group Titleholders, Na Yeon Choi.  Na Yeon, it's been a year since you've won the event.  Can you believe it?
NA YEON CHOI:  I think time so fast, it's already a year past.  I always love to compete in Florida.  I came back Orlando four, five days ago from Asia and I love to practice at Isleworth, you know.  This course has Bermudagrass, same as Orlando, so I kind of used to it, this grass, and feel very comfortable and I have a great memory here.  I mean, you know, the course changed from last year so I can't take any course advantage from last year, but I think it looks very similar with the last year course.  I feel like kind of I'm ready.

MODERATOR:  I was just going to ask, it's a new course this year.  Last year you won down the street at TwinEagles.  Just what are your thoughts about the course and playing a new course as a defending champion and maybe how different that is?
NA YEON CHOI:  I think it's a little bit more difficult to defend title, you know, change of course, but course is in good shape and I think the greens are kind of small, greens have a lot of big undulations, especially edge of the green, so the key thing is we have to hit the fairway first and then green first.  Otherwise, if you miss like two, three meters, then ball kick away, so like you have to play a difficult chip to make an up and down.  I think you have to hit very precise from the second shot.

MODERATOR:  Let's talk about this season.  You’ve kind of have flown under the radar a little bit, but looking at your stats, you've still notched eight Top 10 finishes, two runner-ups, one at a major championship.  Talk about this year and what's been going through your game.
NA YEON CHOI:  I mean, actually some people ask me are you like in a slump or something because they always look at all the results.  I haven't won this year, but I think like you say, I think I'm still doing really good.  Like, you know, when I was rookie in 2008 I haven't won any, but after that I did a really good job, so hopefully I have a better season next year and for my future hopefully better.

MODERATOR:  Would you say that the competition maybe this season was just so difficult that it was tough to break into the winner's circle this year, or what was kind of, you know, that tough thing that you couldn't get over?
NA YEON CHOI:  I mean, I learned a lot, but still I have to improve on my game.  Also about mental, you know.  I think I got a lot of pressure on myself beginning of the season.  I started the season No. 2 in the world and I really, really want to be like No. 1, but I think I got too much pressure and too much to think about, you know, winning a tournament or about the results or lower scores, like something like that.  So I still like -- I think I need -- I can think more still rookie, I still rookie every week I think, then I be better, you know, if I keep trying to do like work hard.

MODERATOR:  I know every player sets really high expectations for themselves --
NA YEON CHOI:  Yeah.

MODERATOR:   -- coming into a new season having won the U.S. Women's Open and the CME Group Titleholders last year, do you feel like that kind of maybe, like you said add pressure on yourself? Like what was your mindset coming into the season?
NA YEON CHOI:  Actually, the pressure sometimes make you more motivated to play well, but I think every time over-trying is not good.  I think I did like over-trying to do it, play well or have a good result or like win a tournament.  Like when I see like good player like Inbee or Suzann, I don't see they really care about their results or even past.  They really focus on staying in the moment.  And actually I played a KLPGA tournament last two months, like two tournaments, and I see a lot of younger players in Korea and I can see they play really aggressively than me and I learn from them, you know.  Actually when I was rookie, I didn't scare anything, but right now I kind of like scared to play or too much thinking, too much worry about.  So I really want to go back to how I started golf or when I came to the LPGA Tour, kind of that kind of demeanor, you know.

MODERATOR:  We'll take questions for Na Yeon.

Q.  You know, you've been in the hunt a lot.  Obviously you played very well at the British Open, you've played pretty well at the China event.  Does that sort of help you to say okay maybe I haven't won this year but I know I'm not very far away?
NA YEON CHOI:  Yeah, I mean, I always try to think positively.  Some people gave me like tough time from in Korea like media or fans, like why you didn't win this year.  I can't control that.  I do my best every time and I do everything I can do, like more than hundred percent but it just didn't come yet, I think.  I still going to play golf like next at least five, six years, so I mean, sometimes not sometimes it coming, I think I can't control that.  I can't control other people think.  I just, you know, a lot of people, especially my coach and family and mental coach, they always gave me compliment, so I trust them and kind of I have pep talk myself, you know.

MODERATOR:  Na Yeon, you said you wanted to kind of revert back into your rookie ways of thinking.  Have you thought about maybe how you plan on doing that having your rookie year, I believe it was in 2008, how will you go back into thinking in your rookie ways?
NA YEON CHOI:  I just tried more independent on the course, also on the road, you know.  On the course my old caddies came, so he gave me lot of good memories and compliment and confidence and like we did a good job last four years, so I feel very comfortable when he came back. 

I tried to think a lot with the parents, when I told my parents like being independent, like how I all the decide situation or like how I practice, how much, like quantity or quality both.  So actually I got a little different plan for wintertime being better for the future, so hopefully it will work.

Q.  I know you have a friendly rivalry with Inbee, but this year she's already wrapped up the Rolex Player of the Year, and as much success as Koreans players have had, she's the first to do that.  What do you think that means to her and how inspiring is that to the rest of you guys? 
NA YEON CHOI:  I think not just me but every Korean player got motivated from Inbee.  She's a great player and she did a good job this year.  I think she had an unbelievable season this year.  We grew up together.  I can remember when she was young, she played really same as right now, she was very calm and good putter there, at the moment.  She worked very hard up to now and I think she teach everybody that, but I think not just Korean player but I think other country players all motivated from her so we keep working hard and reach her.

Q.  Suzann Pettersen was in here a little earlier and said that she had to learn to like let up on herself, not be so hard on herself and not, you know, maybe obsess so much. Have you had a little bit of that, too, to not be as critical of yourself, maybe that helps you or have you experienced that at all?
NA YEON CHOI:  From Inbee?

Q.  No, from yourself.  Suzann was saying she needed to not be so hard on herself.
NA YEON CHOI:  Oh, yeah, like sometimes I can feel like I got too much stuff, too much pressure on my shoulder, you know.  After I won the U.S. Open last year, it's kind of relief from that, but especially this year a lot of people have high expectation for me.  When I have like kind of bad result, everybody says like what's wrong with you, you know.  That kind of gave me a lot of stressful, but I have to hold through myself, so it's kind of being more independent and try to learn from mistake and hopefully get better from next year.  Still we have a tournament for, you know, this is it, so I will do my best this week and also I'm going to Swinging Skirts in Taiwan so I really want to finish strong for next year.

Q.  How young were you and how young was Inbee when you first met her?
NA YEON CHOI:  I met her when I was 11 years old and actually we went to winter camp together in Jeju Island in Korea and every morning we woke up together, every practice together every day and eat together, so we kind of like really teammate together.

Q.  Did you ever talk about goals or dreams that you had at that age?
NA YEON CHOI:  Oh, at the moment we talk about I really really want to be just professional golfer.  We didn't even think about LPGA Tour or on Tour, but we really want to be like professional golfer together, you know, growing together and like 10, 15 years later we play together on Tour together or something, yeah.

Q.  I got in here late so I apologize if you talked about this already, but I believe last year you had talked about either buying a home for either yourself or your family after you won the tournament?
NA YEON CHOI:  Oh, yeah.  Actually, after the CME I got a membership at Isleworth, golf membership at Isleworth, and also I got a house just next to the Isleworth for closer to the practice.  I got a house and membership both.

Q.  So can you kind of talk about what that's been like, having a home, what the last year's been like since you won this event?
NA YEON CHOI:  I mean, it was great.  That was actually second home I buy in America, but I remember when I bought a house at first in America, that fear was really great and I got one more house and bigger house and it's kind of investment myself.  I want a better practice facility for my golf game, and then my first house was a little far away from the Isleworth, that's why I got another house just next to the Isleworth.  Every time when I come back from Korea to Orlando, every time I go there alone and five, six hour practice without any distraction.  Sometime when I practice in Korea a lot of people recognize me and taking a picture and sign.  It's hard to focus my practice, but in Isleworth there's so many good players so no one really bother me when I do practice, so it's great and very peaceful.

MODERATOR:  Do you have any big purchases coming up in the off season?
NA YEON CHOI:  I'm not sure, but I got to actually plan after this week if I finish very well, like win a tournament this week.  I actually beginning of this season I had a little goal for buying some stuff for me.  Still I couldn't get, you know, reach that goal, so hopefully I finish very strong this week and buy that like after this week.

MODERATOR:  What kind of stuff?
NA YEON CHOI:  Actually like very fancy sports car, I really want to get a sports car.  Always a goal, I have goal that, but I feel like I can’t have like when I 40 years old, I want like right now.

Q.  I wonder if you can talk about the popularity on the Asian swing of the Tour going to Taiwan and Malaysia and Korea and China and Japan, what's the reception like in all those places for you guys because that's something that the Tour has grown a lot in the last few years?
NA YEON CHOI:  I mean, even you can see it's a big difference.  Like this year we went to China, that was the first time on the LPGA Tour and so many spectators were there and we were really appreciated.  Even in Taiwan, it's getting more popular for golf and I think it's getting more spectators every year.  Actually I really want to give to like compliment to all the Korean spectators like this year.  Like first couple years they took a lot of pictures during swing and very loud.  This year was very impressive, they did a really good job and I really appreciate to all the crowd, when means they always support on Tour and all the players and -- yeah, supporting, so I really appreciate it.

Q.  Can you give us an idea on Inbee's popularity?  I mean, is she as popular as either the president of your country or how would you describe the level of popularity that she has?
NA YEON CHOI:  Actually, you know, golf is not really popular in Korea before, but right now it's getting really popular.  Actually, Se Ri did a really good job and everybody knows Se Ri, but they don't know like me or Jiyai or Inbee.  But these days Inbee's getting really popular almost every day on newspaper so lot of people knows about Inbee.  Even like some people doesn't play golf, they know all the golfers name on the LPGA Tour.  I think that's fact from even PGA TOUR, like KJ Choi and Y.E. Yang, they won the PGA Tour and it's getting more popular.  Now I think even Inbee, just walking on the street I think a lot of people recognize her.

Topics: Notes and Interviews, CME Group Tour Championship, Choi, Na Yeon, Pettersen, Suzann

Andrews Sports MedicineArpin Van LinesFloridas NaturalMedjet AssistMichelob ULTRAPrudentialSmuckers