Honda LPGA Thailand Second-round Notes and Interviews

Honda LPGA Thailand 2013
Siam Country Club, Pattaya Old Course
Chonburi, Thailand
Second-round notes and interviews
February 22, 2013

Stacy Lewis -12, Rolex Rankings No. 3
Ariya Jutanugarn -9, Rolex Rankings No. 171
So Yeon Ryu -8, Rolex Rankings No. 8
Lizette Salas -7, Rolex Rankings No. 82

2012 Rolex Player of the Year Stacy Lewis (@Stacy_Lewis) holds a three-shot lead after two rounds of the Honda LPGA Thailand 2013. One day after matching her career low round of 63, Lewis shot a 3-under 69 to maintain her lead for a second straight day on the Pattaya Old Course at Siam Country Club.

Lewis, who turned 28 last Saturday, had five birdies and two bogeys in her round on Friday and said that things didn’t come as easy to her on this day as they did in the first round.

“It’s always hard to follow up a really good day,” Lewis said. “I thought if I could shoot 4 or 5 under that would still be a really solid day. I almost got there but it was kind of up and down. I definitely left a few out there. I didn’t hit it as good today but I made some putts on the back nine and still have a three-shot lead so I can’t complain.”

Lewis leads by three shots over Thailand native Ariya Jutanugarn. The 17-year-old is a rookie on the Ladies European Tour this season while her 18-year-old sister Moriya is a rookie on the LPGA Tour. Both of the Jutanugarns are from Bangkok and are playing in this week’s field as sponsor invites.

 

Hometown advantage? Stacy Lewis is no stranger to playing in front of a hometown crowd. The University of Arkansas alum, who was born in Toledo, Ohio, gets the opportunity to play in front of very supportive hometown fans a couple times each year on the LPGA Tour. So she knows what she’ll be facing when teeing it up with Ariya Jutanugarn, who fired the low round of the day on Friday with a 6-under 66, in the final group of Saturday’s third round here in Thailand.

“I played with Pornanong Patlum the first day and she got a lot of support,” Lewis said of another Thailand native. “But I think tomorrow is going to be even crazier being in the last group and she’s kind of the rising star from here and I think she’s going to be a great player. She’s played a lot of pro events so she knows what it’s like. You have to watch out for her just like anybody else.”

Ariya Jutanugarn certainly has an impressive resume. The 17-year-old won the Ladies European Tour Final Qualifying Stage to earn status on the Tour for this season. She was ranked the No. 2 amateur in the world at the time of her victory. That came two weeks after her sister, Moriya, earned co-medalist honors at the LPGA’s Final Qualifying School. It’s quite an impressive pair of sisters and Ariya seemed excited to have put herself in position to contend this week in her home country.

“One can think that one can win,” Ariya Jutanugarn said. “I hope that I can win, but I don’t want to put pressure on myself. I just going to play my game. I believe if it going to be mind, it will be. I want all you guys to cheer me and other Thai players as well.”

 

Tip of the cap: So Yeon Ryu (@1soyeonryu) isn’t in the field for next week’s HSBC Women’s Champions but the 2012 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year has a very good reason for her absence. The 22-year-old is graduating from Yonsei University, which is near Seoul, South Korea, with a degree in physical education and she will be attending the graduation ceremony on Monday.

Ryu has made a strong push to make sure that she finished her degree despite making the move to the LPGA Tour from the KLPGA last year. The 2011 U.S. Women’s Open champion loved going to school and worked hard to balance her time attending classes and playing professional golf.

“That’s one of my life goals is to graduate the university and then play as a professional golfer,” Ryu said. “I’m really, really happy to graduate from my university. I already miss my college friends and my professors. Everybody was really a great supporter for me. All the players put a logo on their watch like a nickname but I put Yonsei which is my university name and also Eagles, which is my university symbol. So it’s all about my university. I think my university give me a lot of energy so I can’t help but miss my university.”

But Ryu may not need to use her degree anytime soon. After recording 16 top-10 finishes in her rookie season last year, Ryu is well on her way to earning her first top-10 of the 2013 season. She fired her second straight 4-under round of 68 to move into a tie for third at 8-under-par with Beatriz Recari (@BeatrizRecari) and Catriona Matthew (@Beany25).

 

Family first: Lizette Salas’ practice partners at home in California are slightly different than the typical golf pro. That’s because their average age is approximately 12 years old.

While many of the LPGA Tour pros live in the same area and practice together, Salas (@LizetteSalas5) spends her days at home going to the golf course with her nieces and nephews. Salas has three nieces and nephews – Joseph, 13; Natalie, 12; and Derek, 10 – with another nephew due to be born in late June or early July. The University of Southern California graduate frequently tweets about her family and what a great time they have together.

“They are in my San Gabriel Junior Golf Program that I have every Tuesday afternoon at home,” Salas said. “My sister’s fiancé is also a golfer and we’re always at the golf course together. Girls in Florida are always practicing together like in Orlando and stuff. Then I have my nieces and nephews to practice with. It’s so much fun to not think about your swing 24/7. I love spending time with them. They’re always like, ‘Auntie are you coming home yet?’”

Salas looks to be building off her solid 2012 rookie season. She followed up a first-round 68 with a 69 in the second round in Thailand on Friday. She now sits five shots off the lead of Stacy Lewis.

“The front nine went really well,” said Salas. “I made some good putts and obviously the eagle on 10 made things really good. I just made a couple bad decisions off the tee and in the fairway coming down the stretch. You can’t get up and down all the time, but just I’m staying positive and staying patient. I made all good strokes and the ball doesn’t roll in every time. I’m not getting too caught up in it. Just try to forget about it. Still have the weekend and two more days to chase Stacy laug.”

 

Quotable: “I think I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable having the three-shot lead. In the past you get up and you kind of start protecting a little bit and you realize you still have to go out there and hit shots. You can’t be complacent with it. You just have to go out there and play and not worry about what anyone else is doing.” – Stacy Lewis on the comfort level she’s found at being at the top of the leaderboard.
 

Of Note…The big move to the day on the leaderboard Friday belonged to American Jessica Korda, who fired a 5-under 67. Korda’s stellar round moved her from a T37 into a T9 at 4-under-par. She’s currently tied with three other players including 15-year-old amateur Lydia Ko, who finished third in Australia last week…Two-time defending champion Yani Tseng bounced back from an opening round 75 to shoot a 4-under 68 and move to 1-under-par through two rounds. Tseng is currently tied for 25th.

 

Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 3

Q. So not quite 63 like yesterday but another solid round of 3-under 69 and still holding a three-shot lead. Take me through your day out there and what are your thoughts after that round?

STACY LEWIS: It’s always hard to follow up a really good day. I thought if I could shoot 4 or 5 under that would still be a really solid day. I almost got there but it was kind of up and down. I definitely left a few out there. I didn’t hit it as good today but I made some putts on the back nine and still have a three-shot lead so I can’t complain.

Q. How did the greens play today compared to yesterday?

STACY LEWIS: I thought today was more about the wind being in the opposite direction so the pins were tougher for that wind. A lot of the holes coming back into the clubhouse played into the wind and they played long and you had to hit it in the fairway. So I thought overall it played a little tougher today. I had to keep that in the back of my mind.

Q. You are going to be paired with one of the young Jutanugarn sisters, Ariya, who is 17 and playing on the LET this year. She’s from here in Thailand. What’s it like when you play with young talented players like her who also have the hometown advantage?

STACY LEWIS: I played with Pornanong the first day and she got a lot of support. But I think tomorrow is going to be even crazier being in the last group and she’s kind of the rising star from here and I think she’s going to be a great player. She’s played a lot of pro events so she knows what it’s like. You have to watch out for her just like anybody else.

Q. Having now won five times on the LPGA, is it a different mentality now when you have a lead compared to the past?

STACY LEWIS: I think I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable having the three-shot lead. In the past you get up and you kind of start protecting a little bit and you realize you still have to go out there and hit shots. You can’t be complacent with it. You just have to go out there and play and not worry about what anyone else is doing. I didn’t look at many leaderboards today until kind of the last few holes. I think I’ll probably continue to do that.

 

Ariya Jutanugarn, Rolex Rankings No. 171 

Q. Great round today, 6 under par 66. Started from the 1st hole what was your game plan for today round?

ARIYA JUTANUGARN: Thank you. Yesterday, I was very upset that I lost a stroke in the 1st hole. Today I start with a par.

Q. Which club did you used to hit your second shot on the 18 holes?

ARIYA JUTANUGARN: I used a fw5 to hit a second shot.

Q. You were very confident on that shot?

ARIYA JUTANUGARN: Yes I was. It was about 220 yards to the green, down breeze, it was a perfect strike. But I was very disappoint that I miss the eagle putt. 

Q. You trail the leader (Stacy Lewis) by 3 shot, still in the hunt for a championship. And you will be playing in the same group tomorrow?

ARIYA JUTANUGARN: It will be a great experience to play in the same group with her.

Q. You play very well today?

ARIYA JUTANUGARN: Yes, I am very happy with today round. There is one shot that I don’t like, 2nd shot on the 7th hole, I used 8 iron for that. It was a bad shot.

Q Do you think you can win?

ARIYA JUTANUGARN: One can think that one can win. I hope that I can win, but I don’t want to put pressure on myself. I just going to play my game. I believe if it going to be mind, it will be. I want all you guys to cheer me and other Thai players as well. Thank you.

 

So Yeon Ryu, Rolex Rankings No. 8

Q. Another great round for you today. Take me through the day and what was working well for you?

SO YEON RYU: I’m really happy to have played a bogey-free round but I missed a two-foot birdie putt on the last hole. That’s my only mistake. Everything else was really great. If I miss the ball, it was a hook so I should fix that up. So I’ve got to go to the range and just practice 15 minutes and find out what’s the problem. The other things were pretty great, especially the course condition was really great so I really want to thank Siam Country Club.

Q. Overall everyone has been talking about the difficulty of the greens. What is the key to succeeding on these greens?

SO YEON RYU: I think on this green, the pin position cannot be easy. Every pin position is really, really tough. The most important thing is keep it on the green because if you are off the green, it’s really tough chipping. So I think iron shot is really important.

Q. You and Lizette were in the same group playing today. What did you see about Lizette’s game that really impressed you today?

SO YEON RYU: Well, especially on the front nine her golf was really solid. She hit the driver straight and the iron shot was just chalk line and putting was great. Her eagle on the 10th was great too so I was pretty impressed playing with her. I played with her at the U.S. Women’s Amateur in 2007. We played in match play and I lost. We talked kind of that memory. She told me I was great that day and I said you won one from me laug. We had a great conversation so I was happy to play with her.

Q. You’ve got an exciting moment coming up for you next week as you’re graduating college. What does it mean for you to be graduating?

SO YEON RYU: That’s one of my life goals is to graduate the university and then play as a professional golfer. I’m really, really happy to graduate from my university. I already miss my college friends and my professors. Everybody was really a great supporter for me. All the players put a logo on their watch like a nickname but I put Yonsei which is my university name and also eagles, which is my university symbol. So it’s all about my university. I think my university give me a lot of energy so I can’t help but miss my university.

Q. What was your major?

SO YEON RYU: I studied physical education and graduate on Monday

 

Lizette Salas, Rolex Rankings No. 82 

Q. A great start on the front nine but couldn’t quite get the same results after an eagle on 10. Take me through your round out there today.

LIZETTE SALAS: It was a good day. The front nine was really well. I made some good putts and obviously the eagle on 10 made things really well. I just made a couple bad decisions off the tee and in the fairway coming down the stretch. You can’t get up and down all the time. But just staying positive and staying patient. I made all good strokes and the ball doesn’t roll in every time. I’m not getting too caught up in it. Just try to forget about it. Still have the weekend, two more days to chase Stacy laug.

Q. You were able to keep the round together. What does that show you in your growth?

LIZETTE SALAS: Last year towards the end, I got a good sense of how to stay patient and not panic. It’s so easy to panic out here with this rough. Bogeys aren’t bad. Just trying not to make triple or double. I made a good couple up and downs. Just trying to stay positive. Obviously I didn’t finish the way I wanted

Q. Last week was first event of the year, what did you take from that event that you carried into this week?

LIZETTE SALAS: I wasn’t too happy with the way I finished last week. I am trying to convince myself that it’s going to be a long year. I’m going to play a lot more events so I might as well pace myself and not get overwhelmed so quickly. Having my dad here always relaxes me and I think I play a lot more comfortable when he’s here. It’s my first time starting a season overseas. That’s a big change for me. I am just trying to be more relaxed, have a lot more fun out here and not think about last year or get too ahead of myself. Play each shot at a time and hope for the best.

Q. We know how big of a role your dad has played in your career. What does it mean for you to have him out here?

LIZETTE SALAS: He prepares my golf bag every night before a round. He just does anything to help me relax. All I have to do is wake up on time and get to the golf course and my dad takes care of me. jUst having him here and giving me a thumbs up. It kind of gives me a little extra confidence, a little momentum going. It’s just nice to have dad here. I wish mom could be here too but it’s early in my career so it’s good thing to have dad here.

Q. I know family is very important to you. On your Twitter account you are always talking about your family including nieces and nephews. How much of a role does your family play in your life and how has it helped you off the golf course?

LIZETTE SALAS: Family is very big for me and just knowing that my family is back home cheering me on, it makes me feel very secure and very comfortable. My mom is sending me emails and we try to FaceTime every day. Because it does get lonely out here. It’s only my second year but I realized it can get lonely. I don’t want to get too caught up on golf because it could totally go either or. It can eat you up or it can do the opposite. I think having family is a good balance for me.

Q. How many nieces and nephews do you have?

LIZETTE SALAS: I have two nephews, a niece and one on the way – a little nephew on the way, little Mason. My sister’s kids are involved in golf. They are in my San Gabriel Junior Golf Program that I have every Tuesday afternoon at home. My sister’s fiancé is also a golfer and we’re akways at the golf course together. Girls in Florida are always practicing together like in Orlando and stuff. Then I have my nieces and nephews to practice with. It’s so much fun to not think about your swing 24/7. I love spending time with them. They’re always like, ‘Auntie are you coming home yet?’

Q. How old are your nieces and nephews?

LIZETTE SALAS: My oldest nephew, Joseph, is 13. Natalie just turned 12 and Derek is 10. The baby is coming in late June/early July. Joseph has been to a U.S. Open, Natalie has been to a U.S. Open so this year is going to be Derek’s turn to go. Just try to open their eyes to a different life. They love it. Hopefully my sister can come out too. They are coming out at Kia and Kraft. Having them on my team supporting me and cheering me on, that’s what keeps me going.

Q. You had a very successful rookie season. What have you taken from that? Some players say it’s almost harder in your second year because you know a little more of what to expect but you might also put more pressure on yourself.

LIZETTE SALAS: I had a talk with my coach from USC, Andrea Gaston, and my swing instructor. They said last year was last year, forget about it. Take the positives and also take the negative and learn from it. But don’t get caught up in ‘I finished good so I should play better this year.’ Just scratch that and just play how you know how. I’m not the longest hitter out there, I can definitely get up and down from everywhere. I need to realize that I can play some good golf, not in a cocky way but just being confident and knowing that you are supposed to be here. To be in this field with these great players is an honor. I was a rookie and not a lot of rookies are playing in this event from last year. It’s a great honor and I’m excited to be here.

Topics: Notes and Interviews, Lewis, Stacy, Ryu, So Yeon, Salas, Lizette, Honda LPGA Thailand [+]

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