Kintetsu Kashikojima Country Club
Shima-Shi, Mie, Japan
Final-Round Notes and Interviews
November 10, 2013
Teresa Lu -14, Rolex Rankings No. 65
Chella Choi -12, Rolex Rankings No. 32
Stacy Lewis -7, Rolex Rankings No. 3
Taiwan’s Teresa Lu ended an eight-year quest for her first LPGA Tour victory as she captured the Mizuno Classic title by two shots over South Korea’s Chella Choi. Lu overcame a two-stroke deficit on Sunday and fired the low-round of the week with an 8-under 64 to finish with a three day total of 14-under-par 202.
“I’ve been waiting for this day for so long,” said Lu. “This is my first win, it’s been eight years on Tour. I’m really happy. Really nervous and really happy."
Choi and Lu were on the outside-looking-in as Sunday’s proceedings started, sitting two-shots behind a Japanese trio who were tied for the first. Choi took the early lead after carding her fifth birdie of the day on the par-4 ninth hole, while Lu, who played one group behind her, made the turn at 2-under and tied for second. The Taiwan native sprinted to the outright lead with four-straight birdies on Nos. 11, 12, 13 and 14.
Choi’s only birdie on the back-nine came on the par-5 16th hole, which brought her to a tie for first with only two holes left to play, but Lu carded a birdie on the par-3 17th and took the lead again. Choi’s 30-foot birdie putt on the final hole lipped around the cup and failed to fall in, but it still wouldn’t have been enough to pull the two into a playoff as Lu sank a 12-foot birdie putt on 18 to seal the win.
“I knew I have to go lower and get more birdies otherwise I was going to get in a playoff,” said Lu of her final two holes. “It’s better not a playoff. So I focus on the birdie.”Lu played on the LPGA Tour for four years and amassed eight top-10 finishes with her best-finish coming at the 2007 NW Arkansas Championship Presented by John Q. Hammons where she finished tied for second. Lu relinquished her LPGA Tour membership in 2010 and moved to Japan to play to play full-time on the JLPGA Tour.
In 28 events in the 2013 season, Lu has tallied 14 top-10 finishes including three runner-ups. She says those experiences helped push her toward her win this week.
“Beginning of this year, I got into two playoffs and in both of them, I lose,” said Lu. “I guess I really learned from that and just tried to be calm. On today, I was very calm, except for 18.”
Choi has touched the top of the leaderboard on numerous occasions since joining the LPGA Tour in 2009 but has been poised for the a breakthrough win since the 2012 Manulife Financial LPGA Classic when she was the last to fall to American Brittany Lang in a four-way playoff that included compatriots Inbee Park and Hee Kyung Seo. She has tallied 16 top-10 finishes since then and has held the lead in two events this season including the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic and the Wegmans LPGA Championship.
Choi has grown accustomed to saying “next tournament” but says this week’s event helped her gain the confidence she needs to break into the winner’s circle.
“I think I had very good confidence today,” said Choi. “I just think, ok one putt, just one stroke. So I think birdie and focus. I don’t know why, not nervous. I think good experience for me.”
Defending champion and Rolex Rankings No. 3 Stacy Lewis was hoping for another come-from-behind victory but ultimately finished in a tie for eighth after a carding her first bogey on the par-5 18th hole.
No complaints… Wind and rain swept through the Shima-Shi, Mie area on Sunday, creating tough scoring conditions during the final round of the Mizuno Classic. Defending champion Stacy Lewis says she couldn't be more satisfied with a 2-under 70 for the day, and was impressed with Teresa Lu’s 8-under round.
“It’s really hard out there,” said Lewis after her round. “I could have made some putts earlier I just couldn’t seem to make any putts. But to shoot 2-under in this wind is a good score. It’s pretty crazy what those two are doing today.”
Tallying her 17th top-10 finish of the 2013 season with a tie for eighth, Lewis says it wasn’t such a bad week after all.
“I knew I didn’t have my best game this week, so if I’m still finishing in the top-10 then I must be doing something right,” said Lewis.
Golden Ticket Winners: Teresa Lu, Haru Nomura and Hee-Won Han punched their "Ticket to CME Group Titleholders" at the Mizuno Classic, each earning a spot in the season-ending CME Group Titleholders event, which will be held Nov. 21-24, 2013 in Naples, Fla. The third-annual CME Group Titleholders is a season finale with a field made up of three qualifiers from every LPGA Tour tournament.
Teresa Lu, Rolex Rankings No. 65
Q. Congratulations on your victory! This is your first professional victory, this must be very exciting for you.
TERESA LU: This is my first win, it’s been eight years on Tour. I’m really happy. Really nervous and really happy.
Q. You shot 8-under today. Pretty incredible in these conditions.
TERESA LU: I didn’t even think about that today. I didn’t know how much under I got. I just wanted to keep being aggressive and get more birdies.
Q. You were a member of the LPGA Tour for a few years starting in 2006.
TERESA LU: Yes, stopped in 2010 and moved to Japan. I thought that here was more closer to the home and just wanted to change the air and see what I could do and see how much I could do.
Q. Will you come back to the LPGA Tour next season?
TERESA LU: Probably, probably. It’s big!
Q. Having this win, does that maybe give you the confidence you need to play on the LPGA Tour again?
TERESA LU: Definitely, I’ve been waiting for this day for so long. It’s great!
Q. What had you been working on leading up to this tournament that you felt maybe your firsts win could come this week?
TERESA LU: Beginning of this year, I got into two playoffs and in both of them I lose. I guess I really learned from that and just tried to be calm. On today, I was very calm, except for 18.
Q. You and Chella were neck-and-neck throughout the day, at one point it looked like there would be a playoff until you birdied the final two holes. Having lost those playoffs, do you think that gave you more motivation to pull ahead?
TERESA LU: I knew I have to go lower and get more birdies otherwise I was going to get in a playoff again. It’s better not a playoff. So I focus on the birdie
Chella Choi, Rolex Rankings No. 32
Q. Talk about the day. You were fighting back and forth with Teresa all day.
CHELLA CHOI: I played really well today, no bogey. Yesterday, I got seven birdies and four bogeys. I practiced a little bit after round with my father like chipping. So, today up-and-down was really good. Like No. 15 up-and-down like 30-yard bunker shot and then nice putt. No. 16 I needed one more birdie. I was focused on No. 16 so I made a birdie. But like pretty close on No. 18.
It’s ok though, because I played well today but disappointed but satisfied. Teresa has more birdies and more play good. So next tournament.
Q. I feel like you have said that a lot lately. Next tournament, next tournament. Being so close, what do you think you need to do in order to break into the winner’s circle?
CHELLA CHOI: I think today was really good. I think my focus was really good today. I think today, every time I think I need a birdie I make the putt. I played good.
Q. How far do you think that putt was on No. 18?
CHELLA CHOI: I think like 14 yards.
Q. What was going through your mind when you were stepping up to make that putt?
CHELLA CHOI: I think I had very good confidence today. I just think, ok one putt, just one stroke. So I think birdie and focus. I don’t know why, not nervous. I think good experience for me.
Q. Did your dad say anything after the round?
CHELLA CHOI: Good job, daughter. Ok, one more tournament dad!
Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 3
Q. Maybe not the way you wanted to end the tournament, a bogey on the final hole. But you were steady all round, three birdies. Talk about the day.
STACY LEWIS: I played pretty good, but it’s really hard out there. I could have made some putts earlier I just couldn’t seem to make any putts. But to shoot 2-under in this wind is a good score. It’s pretty crazy what those two are doing today.
Q. Talk about the conditions on the course today. It was windy and rainy, a lot different than the previous two days.
STACY LEWIS: The wind was opposite it was yesterday. There were a couple holes you were playing just dead into the wind. It just played a lot hard. The last two holes I hit 4-irons into and then it’s hard to make a 3-footer when the wind is knocking you over. Overall, it just played played really tough.
Q. You still notched your 17th top-10 finish of the season, you’ve got to be pretty happy about that.
STACY LEWIS: Yea I mean that was my goal. I knew I didn’t have my best game this week, so if I’m still finishing in the top-10 then I must be doing something right.
Q. Two more events left in the season, what are your thoughts heading into the last part of the season.
STACY LEWIS: I was happy with the way I hitting the ball with the wind this week so I’m happy to get to Mexico where it’s a little calmer conditions than this. It’s a course that I like. Just looking to finish the year off strong.