Lorena Ochoa Invitational Presented by Banamex
Guadalajara Country Club
Final-Round Notes and Interviews
November 17, 2013
Lexi Thompson displayed nerves of steel during the final round of the Lorena Ochoa Invitational as she sank a 5-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to clinch her second LPGA Tour victory this season. The Floridian fired rounds of 72-64-67-69 to claim a one-stroke victory over Stacy Lewis.
It was head-to-head battle between Thompson and Lewis throughout the majority of Sunday’s final round. After both players made the turn at 2-under-par for the day, Lewis dropped three strokes behind Thompson with a bogey at the par-4 12th.
Despite the untimely bogey, Lewis quickly recovered with back-to-back birdies at the par-4 12th and par-3 13th to pull even with Thompson. The string of birdies would continue for Lewis at the par-4 14th and for the first time this week, she found herself atop the leaderboard by one stroke.
While Lewis quickly made her way to the top of the leaderboard, she saw her lead dwindle with a bogey at the par-3 17th to drop into a tie with Thompson.
“Stacy is an amazing player,” said Thompson. “I knew she could make a run at me anytime during that round. When she made the two shot swing on me, I think on number 12, it brought it back to all squared. I knew I had to make birdies on top of her because she gets on a roll and she doesn’t stop. She’s an amazing player and played great today.”
Both players headed into the par-5 18th at 15-under par and left themselves with knee knocking birdie putts for the victory.
First to play, Thompson calmly rolled in her birdie putt while Lewis’ putt skimmed the edge giving the young 18-year-old her third career LPGA Tour win.
“First off, I had like a 50 to 60 footer for the first one, which was interesting getting up there within a few feet,” said Thompson. “You know on the second putt, that’s what it all came down to thinking I can make it and went up to it confidently. Just knock it in.”
Inbee Park etched her name in the history books after Sunday’s final round of the Lorena Ochoa Invitational Presented by Banamex as she mathematically clinched this year’s Rolex Player of the Year honor and became the first South Korean to win the award.
"I said all year, there should have been at least two or three girls that already won the award, but nobody really did it,” said Park of becoming the first player from Sputh Korea to earn the honor. “It’s just really hard to believe and I’m just very lucky I won.”
Despite a standout season comprised of six victories, including three major titles at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, Wegmans LPGA Championship and U.S. Women’s Open, Park entered this week’s event in Mexico in a neck-to-neck battle for Player of the Year with Suzann Pettersen who needed to finish third or better to at least have a chance of catching Park for the honor.
Paired with Pettersen in today’s final round, Park fired a final-round, 3-under 69 to finish in fourth and become the 18th different Rolex Player of the Year winner.
“It feels great to be the first one to win,” said Park. “Today was a tough day especially playing with Suzann in the final round. It’s actually kind of good to be playing with her because she’s always a very tough one to beat. She’s very competitive and today was hard but I finally did it. This week’s goal was to go next week stress free, and that’s what I just did. Next week’s just going to be a fun week for me. No more thinking about the Rolex Player of the Year race so it’s going to be fun.”
Park will be presented this year’s Rolex Player of the Year trophy at the Rolex Awards Celebration which will take place Friday, November 22nd at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, Fla. While Park was beaming with excitement after clinching the honor, she was overcome with nerves at the thought of giving her acceptance speech.
“No, I haven’t,” said Park when asked if she had her speech ready. “It’s tough to get your emotions in until it’s actually done. I think I need to start working on it. It would have been nice if I had two to three weeks to prepare for it, but it’s only five days and it’s my second language. So yeah, I should work hard right now.”
Statement on TV coverage this week: The Lorena Ochoa Invitational is a fantastic tournament, and definitely a great television event – due to the beauty of the course, the world-class field, and the way the people of Guadalajara support the LPGA. Unfortunately, the tournament was caught off-guard when the local government withdrew its financial support of the 2013 event – this was the support that financed the international television production. Based on this, the LPGA released the tournament organizers from their TV commitment, as we want all of our tournaments to be success, and to be able to succeed LONG-term. The tournament organizers have worked-out a local/Mexico tv package, and a highlights/update package with the US Golf Channel, so our US fans/viewers can at least get regular updates in Golf Central, etc.
Neither the tournament organizers nor the LPGA is happy with the fact that this great event will not be televised to our worldwide audience – but it is better to work through these issues with our tournament partners, than to be heavy-handed and require our partners to face financial crisis in delivering contractual agreements. We are working with the LOI team to address this problem and deliver great TV in the future.
THE MODERATOR: First off, congratulations! This is your second win of the season, how does it feel?
LEXI THOMPSON: It feels amazing. I’ve worked extremely hard these last few years, especially on my short game and my putting. So to see it pay off this week, it means a lot.
THE MODERATOR: What was going through your mind that last putt on 18?
LEXI THOMPSON: First off, I had like a 50 to 60 footer for the first one, which was interesting getting up there within a few feet. You know on the second putt, that’s what it all came down to thinking I can make it and went up to it confidently. Just knock it in.
THE MODERATOR: I was standing next to your dad on that long putt, and I think he was probably more nervous than you are. Your dad has traveled with you a lot. How nice is it to have him out there with you kind of every step of the way?
LEXI THOMPSON: It means so much to have my dad out here. I usually travel with my dad. He was probably a little more nervous than I was on that last green. Both of my parents have been my biggest supporters throughout my whole life. I think that is what has made me the player that I am today. I know my mom supported me all the way. I call her every day just to keep in touch. It means a lot to me to have them supporting me so much.
THE MODERATOR: You had a new caddy on the bag this week. Does that mean since you won this week, your brother’s fired for next week, or are you keeping him on?
LEXI THOMPSON: No, my brother’s still on my bag for next week. It’s pretty much a home state tournament. I have pretty much my whole family out there watching me, supporting me. My brother Curtis is going to be on my bag. This is the first week for Benji Thompson on my bag and it was a great week and it was just so relaxed and fun. You know, I think we made a good team out there.
Q: What was going through your mind being the leader in the 3rd and 4th round, and then Stacy got a birdie and she went up. What was going through your mind?
LEXI THOMPSON: Stacy is an amazing player. I knew she could make a run at me anytime during that round. When she made the two shot swing on me, I think on number 12, it brought it back to all squared. I knew I had to make birdies on top of her because she gets on a roll and she doesn’t stop. She’s an amazing player and played great today.
Q: Tell us about how on 16, you had a bit of problem there. But after there, you got on a roll and got better there on the hole 16.
LEXI THOMPSON: On number 16, I just hit a little overhead of a drive and got into some tree trouble, but I punched out and made about 12 to 15 footer for par, so I saved it there. I used that as momentum for the last few holes and really used it as a confidence booster to make some putts coming in and get some good shots.
Q: What was it like to have Lorena hand you the trophy out there in the trophy ceremony?
LEXI THOMPSON: To have Lorena Ochoa give me the trophy on the 18th green, it’s so memorable and honorable. She’s been such a huge role model to me. Just to play in her event, it’s an honor and to be here and to see her. It is a great honor to win this event and have her give me the trophy. It means a lot to me.
Q: What do you think about Lorena Ochoa and how did she accomplish being ruled number 1?
LEXI THOMPSON: Lorena is such a hard worker, everybody knows that and how hard she works on the game and how competitive she was on the golf course. I think that’s what makes a player number one, how competitive you are. The drive to win once you step foot on that first tee.
Q: You got the second best score of the tournament this round just after I.K. Kim. How do you feel about having her just behind you this round?
LEXI THOMPSON: I played with I.K .quite a bit out here. She is a great player, very consistent. She had a little rough day today, but that’s golf can get you. She is an amazing player and one of the best short games I’ve ever seen. I knew I had to play well going into today with every player behind me.
Q: How do you feel when Stacy got a bogie on 17?
LEXI THOMPSON: How’d I feel? Unfortunately, she had a bad chip. I figured she was going birdie number 18. I knew I had to play a drive off and go for the green and make a birdie on top of her. Golf can get you. You’re going to make bogies, you’re going to make mistakes. That’s golf for you.
LEXI THOMPSON: Religion means a lot to me. I believe if you trust in God, everything will fall into place. I pray on first tee, and I pray when it really counts the most. I do believe in God and that He’ll take care of everything, and everything has a plan for everybody.
Q: Do you happen to make your career being rookie (indiscernible). With three victories now, how does it feel for you to have this with all that you have to sacrifice to be a professional at so young age?
LEXI THOMPSON: I started golfing when I was very young. I was lucky enough to have two older brothers that played that got me started into the game. I don’t feel like I sacrificed anything at all. This was always my dream to play on the LPGA, especially when I made it to the U.S. Open at 12 years old. It’s always been a dream of mine. I love competing. I love stepping on the first tee, just going for it all. I think that’s what I’ve grown up to do and play against, in older age divisions and older girls. I’ve been used to that. I love every bit of it.
Q: Inbee, congratulations. First South Korean to win an award. How does it feel?
INBEE PARK: It feels great to be the first one to win. Today was a tough day especially playing with Suzann on the final round. It’s actually kind of good to be playing with her because she’s always a very tough one to beat. She’s very competitive and today was hard but I finally did it. This week’s goal was to go next week stress free, and that’s what I just did. Next week’s just going to be a fun week for me. No more thinking about the Rolex Player of the Year race so it’s going to be fun.
Q: Is it kind of hard to believe that you’re the first South Korean to win the award with all the other girls that have come up?
INBEE PARK: Yea, I know, that’s what I said all year, there should have been at least two or three girls that already won the award, but nobody really did it. It’s just really hard to believe and I’m just very lucky I won.
Q: I mean, we talked at the beginning of the week that if you didn’t win the award at the end of the year that it would be a bit of a disappointment. Now, how would you sum up your year?
INBEE PARK: I think this was my only goal this year. I played better than last year and I’ve achieved what I wanted to achieve. From now on, at least the race for the next Rolex Player of the Year is over. It is a good thing. The number one spot isn’t always going to be in the race forever, but this year is just been fantastic year for me. It’s just nothing to complain about this season. It’s hard to believe that I actually had to play for the Rolex Player of the Year award until the second to last tournament after having six wins, including three majors. That just tells you how competitive it is out there. So it wasn’t easy, nothing was given to me just free.
Q: Have you thought about your speech for next week at all yet?
INBEE PARK: No, I haven’t. It’s tough to get your emotions in until it’s actually done. I think I need to start working on it. It would have been nice if I had two to three weeks to prepare for it, but it’s only five days and it’s my second language. So yea, I should work hard right now.
Q: Are your parents coming down now?
INBEE PARK: Yea, they’re going to come now. They held their flights until today, and they are coming now.
Q: Alright Stacy, you fought back pretty hard today. What was going on out there?
STACY LEWIS: Well obviously right now, I’m really disappointed. I gave that one to her. I had that one in my hands, and just didn’t get it done.
Q: What was going through your mind over that last putt?
STACY LEWIS: I knew I had to make it. I had a good line on it, just with these greens, those downhill putts are the hardest ones to make. I hit a good putt, I hit it where I wanted to. It just didn’t go in.