HSBC Women's Champions 2013
Sentosa Golf Club, The Serapong Course
Final-round Notes and Interviews
March 3, 2013
Stacy Lewis -15, Rolex Rankings No. 4
Na Yeon Choi -14, Rolex Rankings No. 2
Paula Creamer -13, Rolex Rankings No. 13
2012 Rolex Player of the Year Stacy Lewis (@Stacy_Lewis) held on tight for her first victory of the 2013 season, making par on the 18th hole to capture a one-shot victory over Rolex Rankings No. 2 Na Yeon Choi (@nychoi87) at the HSBC Women's Champions. Lewis watched a three-shot lead shrink over her final few ones to just one as she headed to the 18th hole at Sentosa Golf Club's The Serapong Course after bogeys on 15 and 17. But the player known for her grit and determination while battling scoliosis during her youth showed no signs of letting her nerves get the best of her on the final hole.
After watching both of her playing partners hit their drives on 18 with the aid of a down wind, Lewis belted a driver down the middle of the fairway on 18. She then hit a hybrid to the back of the green in two, giving herself a lengthy putt for eagle. She lagged her putt down to about 10 feet for birdie while Choi had a 12-foot birdie putt that could have potentially forced a playoff if Lewis had missed. Choi just slid her birdie putt by before Lewis missed hers and was left with a foot-and-a-half putt for par to win.
"All week, I played it as a three-shot hole, laying back short of the bunker and then laying up from there," Lewis said of the 18th. "And I saw where Paula reamer hit her drive past the bunker and I turned to my caddie, and we both at the same time said driver, and I let it rip and that thing got so far down there. I think I was actually in between a 4-iron and a hybrid. So we erred on the long side and hit hybrid up on the green, and I thought I made my second putt, but just to have an inside ten feet for birdie, that's all I was asking for."
Lewis felt some heat her playing group right away on Sunday, as Rolex Rankings No. 13 Paula Creamer (@ThePCreamer) birdied back-to-back holes on No. 3 and 4 to pull within a shot early. But Lewis looked like she might have taken control just before the turn when she nearly holed out her second shot on the par-5 7th hole. Despite the just missed albatross, Lewis had a tap-in for eagle that gave her a two-shot lead.
A birdie by Lewis on the ninth then moved her to 17-under-par and stretched it to a three-shot lead before some late troubles made the gap much closer. It was quite a battle down the stretch between three of the top players in the world in their hunt to be crowned the "Champion of Champions" in Singapore and Lewis certainly looked a little worn out after capturing her sixth career victory on the LPGA Tour.
"The last four or five holes, I was pretty nervous, I'm not going to lie," Lewis said. "That golf course is hard and it can jump up and get you at any second, and to have to play with two great players on your tail all day, and they played unbelievable, and none of us really we just couldn't get any putts to fall on the back nine. I don't know what it was. Edges just seemed a little bit tighter. Paula had a couple on the edge.
"I don't know, I just played hard and put my head down and tried to make as many putts as I could, and fortunately I came away with the win."
Inching Closer: The race for the top spot in the Rolex Rankings is getting closer, helped by the fact that this week it was Rolex Rankings No. 2 Na Yeon Choi and No. 4 Stacy Lewis battling for the victory.
With her win, Lewis is projected to move back into the No. 3 spot in the Rolex Rankings. But both she and Choi are starting to see Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng within reach. Tseng's lead appears that it could be less than a point when the rankings are released on Monday. That's quite a change from 11 months ago when Tseng's lead was a little more than nine points over then-No. 2 Na Yeon Choi.
"I think this is more fun than like only one player play well, like clear-cut, because there is not really a clear-cut No. 1 right now," said Choi. "I think everybody, you know, is a good competitor with each other and motivate each other, and if someone wins, and I feel like, oh, I need to win next week, that kind of motivates. So, I feel like very excited."
Tseng finished T28 at the HSBC Women's Champions after shooting a final-round 74 to finish at 2-under-par for the week. For more information on the Rolex Rankings, please see the rankings when they are released on Monday.
Sharing the accolades: Stacy Lewis (@Stacy_Lewis) wasn't the only one in her player-caddy tandem to take home hardware this week as her caddie, Travis Wilson, was named the HSBC Women's Champions Caddy of the Year on Friday. Wilson was honored at an awards ceremony for players and caddies in Singapore and Lewis seemed very excited to see her longtime caddie – they've been together since she joined the LPGA Tour in 2009 – get recognized for his tremendous work.
And she credited Wilson with helping to get her through those tough final few holes of Sunday's round.
"He's very level," Lewis said of her caddy. "He doesn't get too high, he doesn't get too low, and we just talked about the shots and we talked about whatever came to mind. You know, for him, he's the same person, whether we tee off on 1 or whether we are walking off on 18, and that's the best thing could you ask for in a caddie. Things are kind of going sideways, but his reaction, you would have never known that it was.
"He helped me a lot today, and he's worked hard at it. You know, I'm just glad that he got recognized by the rest of the players and the caddies; to be recognized by your peers I think is pretty special. So I was happy that he got that award."
Unexpected contender: Paula Creamer (@ThePCreamer) wasn't sure until Thursday morning whether she was even going to play this week in Singapore following a car accident on Sunday night in Thailand. But the nine-time LPGA Tour winner made the decision to play and it certainly looked like a good one after she came just two strokes shy of ending a nearly two-and-a-half year winless streak.
"Geez, this is much more than what I ever expected, and to have a chance and really have a good chance to win this event, it felt good," Creamer said. "It was nice to be in contention and have just a good attitude out there. I think that's the biggest thing that I take away from this week."
Creamer, who has been dealing with a sore neck and right shoulder from the accident, said that her plan now is to head back to Orlando this week. Her next event is the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup which will take place the week of March 11 in Phoenix, Ariz.
"We'll see how everything is feeling with my neck and shoulder and go from there," Creamer said. "One step at a time."
Golden ticket winners: Stacy Lewis, Na Yeon Choi and Paula Creamer punched their "Ticket to CME Group Titleholders" at the HSBC Women's Champions, 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.
Quotable: "There's really no timetable on what I'm going to be able to do and how long I'm going to be able to play because there's nobody else doing this with a rod and five screws in their back. It's really kind of an unknown, and I think that's one thing that kind of helps me go play every week and makes me work hard is that I need to take advantage of the time that I have right now. There's no guarantee how long my back holds up, so I'm thankful for the time that I have and it makes me just go work hard every day." – Stacy Lewis, who battled scoliosis, on why she works so hard in the gym and to stay healthy
Of Note…Last week's runner-up in Thailand, 17-year-old LET rookie Ariya Jutanugarn, finished fourth at 10-under-par…Morgan Pressel finished T10, marking her first top-10 finish since finishing third at last year's Sybase Match Play Championship… Rolex Rankings No. 4 Inbee Park, who was coming off a win in Thailand, finished T37 at 2-over-par
Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 4
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome the 2013 HSBC Women's Champion into the interview room, Stacy Lewis, congratulations, sixth career LPGA victory, first of the 2013 season.
Just take me through the day and where does this win kind of fit in among all the others that you've had so far?
STACY LEWIS: Well, to start the day, I actually felt very comfortable. I didn't hit it good the first five holes and then kind of from there on, I kind of found my swing.
You know, 7, obviously hitting hybrid, almost making it for double-eagle, that was definitely huge. I don't know, I made birdie on 9, I hit it close a lot on the back nine. Just couldn't get any putts to fall.
And the last four or five holes, I was pretty nervous, I'm not going to lie. That golf course is hard and it can jump up and get you at any second, and to have to play with two great players on your tail all day, and they played unbelievable, and none of us really we just couldn't get any putts to fall on the back nine. I don't know what it was. Edges just seemed a little bit tighter. Paula had a couple on the edge. I don't know, I just played hard and put my head down and tried to make as many putts as I could, and fortunately I came away with the win.
MODERATOR: You couldn't ask for more dramatic golf for people watching this event as you guys were coming down; Na Yeon, No. 2 in the rankings, you at No. 4, and Paula is right up there at No. 13; to have that kind of group and to have them battle you, especially when Paula got off to the hot start and Na Yeon, she just never seems to fade away. What is that like as you're going through the 18 holes to have that sort of battle back and forth?
STACY LEWIS: Well, part of it was I knew it was going to be like that. I knew early, when I was warming up, the wind was blowing and I knew that would be to basically the three of us advantage. We were kind of separated from the rest of the field, and with the wind up, it didn't really allow a really low number out there.
So I knew it was going to be one of those days you just had to kind of grind it out. And Na Yeon, we played together three days this week. I played with her once last week and she makes putt after putt after putt. I expected the one to go in on 18, too. Just the way she plays, you never know when she's going to hole a putt.
They never seem to go away, and it was certainly entertaining for the crowd, but it's not the way I would liked it to have been coming up 18. But it was nice to have just the little tap-in for the win.
MODERATOR: When you stepped on 18, your lead had been cut down to one, what was your approach on that hole, and what were you thinking, knowing that if they made birdie, could make it a little closer.
STACY LEWIS: I was actually glad I was hitting last on that tee so I could kind of see, because we had not played that hole yet when it had been all the way downwind. So I was glad I could see where their drive ended up. All week, I played it as a three-shot hole, laying back short of the bunker and then laying up from there.
And I saw where Paula hit her drive past the bunker and I turned to my caddie, and we both at the same time said driver, and I let it rip and that thing got so far down there. I think I was actually in between a 4-iron and a had before I had and so we erred on the long side and hit hybrid up on the green, and I thought I made my second putt, but just to have an inside ten feet for birdie, that's all I was asking for.
MODERATOR: Talk about your caddie, Travis Wilson, he was named the HSBC Caddie of the Year, you talked about how important it was to have his input all week on a tough golf course like this. What did he kind of do, as you said, you were nervous through those final few holes. How much of a help was he to you over that stretch?
STACY LEWIS: You know, it's more just the calming effect. He's very level. He doesn't get too high, he doesn't get too low, and we just talked about the shots and we talked about whatever came to mind.
You know, for him, he's the same person, whether we tee off on 1 or whether we are walking off on 18, and that's the best thing could you ask for in a caddie. Things are kind of going sideways, but his reaction, you would have never known that it was.
And he's worked hard; he's a really good green reader. He helped me a lot today, and he's worked hard at it. You know, I'm just glad that he got recognized by the rest of the players and the caddies; to be recognized by your peers I think is pretty special. So I was happy that he got that award.
Q. What did you hit on 17?
STACY LEWIS: 17, I don't remember the yardage but I was hitting 5-iron. It was a little bit into the wind. We were trying to land it short, short of the pin and let it roll up. I just blocked a 5-iron just kind of came out of it, got a little quick, that's kind of my tendency under pressure. The bunker didn't have as much sand as I thought was going to be there, kind of clay and mud and the bunker shot came out short.
Then I had 20 feet for par, and decided to hit that about five feet by. Somehow that putt caught the right lip and went in. It was a 4 on the card but it was a lot more work than that.
Q. Yesterday you had frustrations on the 15th hole and that's been a problem all week; can you describe that?
STACY LEWIS: I hit the fairway in the practise rounds, but I did not hit it any tournament day. And I don't know why -- I don't know why, it just doesn't really set up to my eye. I don't think it really mattered if I would have hit 3-wood or anything else off the tee.
So you can't really go back and second-guess that. But I had two in the water and two in the bunker. So it's just, I don't know, that hole is just hard and I mean, today I was just glad to get out of there with bogey.
Q. That was an impressive win given the rain delay yesterday and two bogeys later on today, where does that leave you now as you push on to become world No. 1?
STACY LEWIS: Well, it certainly helps a lot. The field this week is one of the best statistically that we have all year, so I know that helps a lot with the rankings.
I was just told that I moved up to third, just barely behind into I don't know now, and I'm sure I have to be closer to Yani.
So ultimately I would like to get to No. 1, and a win is a good way to get there. So just got to keep chipping away at it, and hopefully in a few weeks, we're there.
Q. I think it was 10,11, 12, 13, where you had birdie putts; when you do, that when it happens, when you're setting up good chances for yourself and you miss them, what do you tell yourself? What happens? What sort of conversations do you have in your head at that time?
STACY LEWIS: Well, each of those putts were a little bit different. 10, I actually hit a really good putt and thought I made it. When you hit a good putt, that's another story, but 11 and 12, I didn't hit good putts at all. I was definitely frustrated there.
I wanted to hit good shots and did not really get anything out of it, and just really felt fortunate that nobody else was making putts, too. Na Yeon had plenty of chances, Paula had a bunch of putts on the edge, and it just seemed that nobody could get any putts to go in. I'm sure it was frustrating for the fans to watch that.
Just it was -- I don't know what was going on. I was surprised, when I made bogey on 15, I was surprised Paula made bogey, and Na Yeon had a pretty short birdie putt that she missed, as well. So we all had our opportunities. Just nobody really seemed to capitalize on it.
Q. The other part is that you said yourself that you were nervous toward the end; what happens when you get nervous? Physically how does it manifest, what happens to you?
STACY LEWIS: As far as my golf swing, I usually tend to get quick with my transition, so standing on 18 tee, I just told myself, just good tempo, nice and smooth.
And then the putting is the hardest part under pressure. You can't really feel your hands. They are kind of numb, you're shaking and your heart is kind of pounding and you just have to find a way to almost get out of that experience and say, I'm on the practise putting green and I'm just going to knock this one-footer in. You just have to forget where you are and do the best you can.
Q. Did it work?
STACY LEWIS: I tried. I'm not good at it all the time. But I did it one more -- is one time good enough? I don't know. One extra putt.
Q. You had a pretty short putt coming back the next hole with an eagle, can you talk us through that?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, 6, I held my drive down there and had a little wedge in. Hit it to probably four feet and I just pushed the putt, just didn't hit a good putt there either. But after that hole, I told myself, I just made some good putts for pars on the previous holes, so just to not really worry about it.
And then got down there on 7, hit a really good drive, and we had about 200 front and it was like 208 to the pin. For me it was like a perfect hybrid. Ball was a little below my feet, a little hold shot, held it up against the wind and it was perfect. Looked pretty good from the fairway, so had to be close.
Q. I'm sure you've spoken about this a lot, but I just wanted to know, is your back giving you any trouble anymore? Is that a problem that's finished forever, or how is it?
STACY LEWIS: Right now, knock-on-wood, it great. I haven't had any issues with it in a long time. I work out a lot, stay in shape and do a lot of things so I don't have to worry about it.
There's really no timetable on what I'm going to be able to do and how long I'm going to be able to play because there's nobody else doing this with a rod and five screws in their back.
It's really kind of an unknown, and I think that's one thing that kind of helps me go play every week and makes me work hard is that I need to take advantage of the time that I have right now. There's no guarantee how long my back holds up, so I'm thankful for the time that I have and it makes me just go work hard every day.
Q. Will you have time to spend some of that money in the casino tonight?
STACY LEWIS: I guess they would like me to keep it in Singapore, I'm usually not very good in the casinos, so I would just be giving my money away (laughing).
Q. How long are the rods supposed to last?
STACY LEWIS: They are supposed to last my entire life, barring any injury or accident or anything like that. It's supposed to be fine. It's not moving and it's not going anywhere. So unless I do something weird to make it move, that will be the only issue.
Na Yeon Choi, Rolex Rankings No. 2
Q. Quite a battle all day between you guys, was it fun to be part of something like that?
NA YEON CHOI: I think I kind of was missing this feeling, this kind of challenge. I mean, I started with a bogey on 2, but I tried to do my best until the last hole. I mean, it's still a good result, I will take that.
I mean, last year, I finished runner-up, too. I went into playoff and lost. I really want to win this week and some motivation from last year, but second place is still good position. You know, I have tomorrow, future, next week tournament.
Q. You gave yourself a chance up until the end on 18 when you hit that third shot, take me through what your approach was on 18?
NA YEON CHOI: Actually the front tee shot, I tried really hard for my tee shot, and my ball kind of landing very softly, so it didn't bounce much.
I couldn't reach in two, but third shot was kind of like my favourite number to like 68 pin. So I just tried 60, just little hard at impact, but that putt was kind of like, I couldn't see. I mean, I aimed a little right but it's moved left more than I thought. But I mean, I don't want to think about that, you know, just like more future coming, so I just want to think how I did well.
Q. Watching Stacy down the stretch, you've been there, too, when it's tough to hold on to the lead, how impressive was it that she was able to get things right on 18?
NA YEON CHOI: Surprised that she hit driver on last hole. I mean, everybody knows she's a good player and she had that kind of experience a lot, so I mean, she deserved it, yeah.
Q. Your third shot on 18 was 68 metres?
NA YEON CHOI: 68 yards to the pin.
Q. And how long was your putt?
NA YEON CHOI: 12 feet.
Q. We have talked a lot with Yani being No. 1 and you guys are all chasing her now, is it fun to have tournaments like this, you and Stacy are right up there, No. 2 and looks like she's probably going to move to No. 3 this week after her win. Is it fun to have these weeks where you're all playing well and pushing that?
NA YEON CHOI: I think this is more fun than like only one player play well, like clear-cut, because there is not really a clear-cut No. 1 right now. I think everybody, you know, good competitor with each other and motivate each other, and if someone wins, and I feel like, oh, I need to win next week, that kind of motivates. So, I feel like very excited.
Paula Creamer, Rolex Rankings No. 13
Q. You got off to a great start today, how did the day unfold for you?
PAULA CREAMER: I played well. Obviously the last couple holes, I kind of struggled a little bit.
But, geez, this is much more than what I ever expected, and to have a chance and really have a good chance to win this event, it felt good. It was nice to be in contention and have just a good attitude out there. I think that's the biggest thing that I take away from this week.
Q. And is there any particular moment in the back nine where you thought, it was just going to be so hard to catch Stacy?
PAULA CREAMER: No, I mean, this golf course, you have to hit some pretty demanding shots, and you're never far out of it. I wish I could go back in time a couple times out there, but I putted really well, didn't make -- I had some good, long efforts and they just didn't fall in. Sometimes it's your day and sometimes it's not.
Q. And all in all, to give yourself a chance after what happened at the start of the week, in the running and winning on Sunday --
PAULA CREAMER: Like I said, this is much more than what I even bargained for. Didn't even know if I was going to tee it up, and taking a third after what Colin and I have been through, it's pretty good. I'll take it.
Q. Do you plan now to go home?
PAULA CREAMER: Go home.
Q. And then go to Phoenix?
PAULA CREAMER: Phoenix to be my next event. We'll see how everything is feeling with my neck and shoulder and go from there, one step at a time.
Q. Do you have someone that you see back at home?
PAULA CREAMER: Yes.