RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup Pre-Tournament Notes and Interviews

Stacy Lewis
Photo Credit: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Stacy Lewis of the USA hits her tee-shot on the second hole during the second round of the HSBC Women's Champions at the Sentosa Golf Club on March 1, 2013 in Singapore, Singapore.

RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup
Wildfire Golf Club at JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa
Phoenix, Arizona
Pre-tournament notes and interviews
March 12, 2013

Yani Tseng, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 3

Vicky Hurst, Rolex Rankings No. 84


The U.S. domestic schedule begins this week by celebrating the 13 Founders of the LPGA Tour at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup (@lpgafounders). The tournament returns to Phoenix for the third time and will feature a star-studded 144-player field, all vying for a $1.5 million purse. Like last year, $500,000 of the total pot will be going to the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf Program.

In 2012, Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng held off Na Yeon Choi, Ai Miyazato and the darkness in Phoenix to capture a one-shot victory at the 2012 RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. Tseng two-putted from 45-feet on the 18th green as darkness fell upon the Wildfire Golf Club to secure her 14th career LPGA Tour victory. She is coming off a hot start to the 2013 season with two top-5 finishes in the first three events and is in search of capturing her 16th career victory and defending her second title of the year.

The winners of the first three events of the season – No. 3 Stacy Lewis, No. 6 Jiyai Shin and No. 4 Inbee Park – are also slated to be in the field this week following their victories in Asia. With their wins and Tseng’s 22-tournament streak without a win, the margin is getting narrow with a tight race to the No. 1 player in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.

Sports collide! The Phoenix area is usually buzzing this time of the year with baseball talk as 15 Major League Baseball teams gather in the Valley of the Sun for Spring Training. With golf clubs often the first thing that baseball players pack besides their baseball gear, it seemed fitting to have the worlds of baseball and golf come together at this week’s RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup.

Former Phillies star and current ESPN baseball analyst John Kruk (@JohnKruk_ESPN), Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzysnki and two-time World Series champion Aaron Rowand will all be playing in Wednesday’s pro-am at Wildfire Golf Club at JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa.

After the three baseball players finish their round, they will be joined by two of their playing partners – LPGA pros Gerina Piller (@GerinaPiller) and Paige Mackenzie – for a press conference with the media to discuss their LPGA experience.

Childlike Spirit…After spending an unprecedented 109 weeks at Rolex Rankings No. 1, Yani Tseng (@YaniTseng) has seen her lead begin to dwindle in recent weeks to a mere 62 points. While Tseng’s focus was centered around the Rolex Rankings in 2012, the 15-time LPGA Tour champion is shifting gears this year and returning to playing with childlike enthusiasm.

“I just want to have fun and enjoy as more as I can because I know last year I paid too much attention to World Number 1,” said Tseng. “I tried to stay on top and I feel like I tried to stay on top and tried to play well instead of getting there, instead of like just have fun and keep doing what I'm used to doing and I feel like I lost some childlike, I just want to play as a child, and I feel like I lost that enjoyment for playing golf last year.” 

Tseng is coming off a 2012 season that included eight top-10 finishes in the first eight events but it wasn’t until a tie for 12th at the ShopRite LPGA Classic that a sea of doubts began to flood her thoughts.

“I think I was like eight straight Top 10s last year, and after I didn't finish Top 10 and people started asking me what's wrong with Yani,” said Tseng. “I think that is time I feel really pressure.”

While Tseng’s contagious smile steadily faded in 2012, she feels a returned smile could lead to more return trips to the winner’s circle this year.

“I feel I'm a very lucky person,” said Tseng. “So many people are helping me to be World Number 1 and now I feel very thankful, very appreciate, and I know if I enjoy more and then the result will be there for me.  So I just try to smile more, because last year I know I didn't smile as much.”

Overcoming Adversity…The demanding schedule of reigning Rolex Player of the Year Stacy Lewis (@Stacy_Lewis) has been daunting in the recent months forcing for the former University of Arkansas Razorback to excel in time management.

“Well, my agent asked me this morning; actually, he asked me can he do anything for me,” said Lewis. “I said more time in a day.  So it's definitely been busy, it's been tough.  We've had to unfortunately say no to a lot of things, but for me golf needs to be number one and I need that time to get my practice in then if I have time for other stuff, great.  So far we've done a pretty good job of that.”

Despite the demanding schedule, the No. 3 players in the Rolex Rankings already has one win this season under her belt at the HSBC Women’s Champions. The win not only served as her sixth career LPGA Tour victory but also put the coveted Rolex Ranking No. 1 on her sites.

A jump to Rolex Rankings No. 1 would be quite the accomplishment for Lewis who was plagued by scoliosis during her teen years forcing her to wear a back brace for over six years.
 
“For me, I never expected to be Number 1 in the world, so if I get there one day,” said Lewis. “I'm going to enjoy the heck out of it because there's no way that kid growing up in a back brace would ever think about being the best golfer in the world.  I think it's a lot about kind of the mindset you have going into it.”

Get to Know ‘em…The LPGA has encouraged fans to “See Why It’s Different Out Here” and now fans who head out to tournaments this year will get an opportunity to get a closer glimpse into the players they follow on a weekly basis.

This week at the RR Donnelley LPGA Founder Cup, the LPGA is unveiling The LPGA Fan Book, a complimentary fan guide showcasing player accomplishments and personality. It will be available for spectators throughout the season.

The LPGA Fan Book is a takeoff of the LPGA Player Guide, which was launched in 2012 in an effort to personalize the LPGA’s global roster of stars for the media, tournament officials and pro-am participants. The success of the inaugural book last year also led to the creation of this year’s online interactive player guide, which is available to fans at www.lpga.com/playerguide.

“I think a lot of players are different than what you see on the golf course off the course,” said 2012 Rolex Player of the Year Stacy Lewis. “So it's just to see our personalities a little bit more, kind of what we're into.  I think that's one thing, it's cool.  When I first came out on Tour, I realized people are a lot different than what you see on TV, so it will be fun for the fans.”

Let’s Hear it for the Girls… This week’s RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup thrives on focusing on the past, present, and future of the LPGA Tour. The future of the tour will be well represented in Phoenix, Ariz. as the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf Program has several activities on tap this week to showcase some up-and-coming stars of the LPGA.

A few players will be sporting the Bianca fairway wood headcover which serves as a symbol of support for the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf Program. In addition, members of the program will be on the tees and greens of 1, 16, 17, and 18 to greet the groups and assist them with the flag.

Newly appointed Ambassador of LPGA-USGA Girls Golf, Vicky Hurst (@TheVickyHurst), will have several twins in the gallery this week as members of Girls Golf will be given Girls Golf shirts and Kangal hats.

“It's pretty, it's really cool,” said Hurst. “It's kind of humbling to know that these girls are out there and they're involved and I'm a good influence for them. It's really cool that we're doing the scavenger hunt with the hats and they have so many other cool activities going on this week.” 

The LPGA-USGA Girls Golf Program has a total of 260 sites across the country that impacts the lives of more than 20,000 girls annually nationwide.

“I have to say that my favorite part of Girls Golf is just being with all the girls,” said LPGA-USGA Girls Golf member Halie Carpenter. “They're all so sweet and we all just have a great time.  It's not like super competitive, you're just out there having fun, getting to know each other, getting to play the great game of golf.  It's beautiful outside and just lots of fun.”

Where it all began: This week’s RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup is all about honoring the women who helped make the LPGA what it is today. Each day throughout the tournament week, we will showcase a few of those Founders and Pioneers. Today we feature Alice Bauer, Patty Berg, and Bettye Danoff.

Alice Bauer
Birthdate: 1927, South Dakota
Rookie Year: 1950
Career Earnings: $26,156

At the age of 22, Alice Bauer became one of 13 founders of the LPGA Tour in 1950. As one of the “moms on tour” at the time, Bauer was one of the first to travel to golf tournaments with her two children. Being a mother was her first priority; therefore she only played on the Tour occasionally. She had an outstanding amateur career, voted South Dakota’s Amateur Women of the Year when she was 14 years old and won the South Dakota Amateur title.

She was accompanied by her sister Marlene Bauer Hagge as LPGA founding members and together they were widely known in golf circles because of their history as prodigy performers in the game. Bauer never won on the LPGA Tour, but she forced a playoff against Marilynn Smith in the 1955 Heart of America tournament. In 1956, she finished 14th on the LPGA’s season money list.

Patty Berg
Birthdate: 1918, Minnesota
Turned pro: 1940
LPGA Victories: 60
Career Earnings: $190,760

Nicknamed “Dynamite” in the early ages of the LPGA Tour, Patty Berg was one of the most dominant players of the 13 founders. To this day, she is credited with more win in women’s majors than any other golfer, topping off at 15 championship titles. Berg’s golf career began well before the formation of the Tour, eight majors before 1950. She was a major force on the course during the first decade of the LPGA Tour, winning majors, money titles and scoring titles. Because of her stellar play during her career, she was in the first class inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1974.

All her life, Berg remained an ambassador for the game she loved, playing recreationally with friends well through her 70s and conducting more than 10,000 golf clinics in her lifetime. The LPGA annually awards the Patty Berg Award, established in 1978, to "the lady golfer who has made the greatest contribution to women's golf during the year."

Bettye Danoff
Birthdate:  1923, Grand Prairie, Texas
Rookie Year: 1950

Known to the founding members of the LPGA Tour as “Mighty Mite,” the short statured Bettye Danoff joined the Tour with an impressive golf résumé. She began playing golf at an early age after her family opened their own driving range and nine-hole golf course. She won four straight Dallas Women’s Golf Association Championships from 1945-48, the women's division of the Texas PGA in 1945 and 1946 and the Texas Women's Amateur in 1947 and 1948.

Although she was winless on the LPGA Tour, she still played a huge role in its formation. She earned her the LPGA Commissioners Award in 2000, which honors a person or organization who has contributed uniquely to the LPGA and its members, who has furthered the cause of women’s golf, and whose character and standards are of the highest order.

Quotable.. “For me, I never expected to be Number 1 in the world, so if I get there one day. I'm going to enjoy the heck out of it because there's no way that kid growing up in a back brace would ever think about being the best golfer in the world.  I think it's a lot about kind of the mindset you have going into it.” – Stacy Lewis on her potential jump to Rolex Rankings No. 1

Five Things You Didn’t Know About…Vicky Hurst

  1. If Vicky wasn’t a golfer, she would have followed her in father’s footsteps and become a fighter pilot.
  2. A typical Florida girl, when Vicky is not playing golf she enjoys jet skiing and surfing.
  3. Vicky’s mother, Koko, frequently travels to tournaments with her and this week, she will be caddying for her.
  4. Vicky spent part of her offseason attending fellow LPGA player, Amanda Blumenherst’s wedding which took place at Wildfire Golf Club.
  5. Watch out Picasso, Vicky recently learned how to paint watercolors after taking several classes.

 

Of Note… Morgan Pressel’s little sister, Madison Pressel, played her way into the inaugural North Texas LPGA Shootout after a win at the North Texas College Shoutout…Amelia Lewis and Giulia Molinaro shot 6-under 66’s in the Monday Qualifier and birdied the first playoff hole to earn a spot into this week’s field.

 

Yani Tseng, Rolex Rankings No. 1

MODERATOR:  All right.  I'd like to welcome the defending champion of the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup, Yani Tseng, into the interview room.  Yani, thanks for joining us.  First off, how does it feel to be back here in Phoenix?
YANI TSENG:  It feels good actually.  I feel lots of good memories.  I played nine holes today and I played a few holes yesterday and I feel -- I mean, it brings lots of great memories here because I remember last year after nine holes I was three shots back and I fought to the end, to the dark.  We got some lighting, thunderstorms, and we got some hail.  It's amazing day for me to finish with a win, so I was very happy.  Very happy to be back here and see some fans that come out again and watch me, and then we were talking about some good memories last year.  So it was good.  I feel very good, I feel very fresh in this first tournament in the U.S. and very exciting to see the fans out there.

MODERATOR:  You've held the Number 1 spot in the Rolex Rankings now for 109 weeks.  Recently it slipped to 62 points.  Is that in the back of your mind at all coming into this week?
YANI TSENG:  What points?

MODERATOR:  62 points, you have a 62-point lead in the rankings.
YANI TSENG:  Oh, I wasn't paying attention about that because I didn't know how they do the rankings.  I just know every day I'm getting closer and closer -- the people are getting closer and closer to me.  I didn't know how they do that.  I know it was very close and everybody's asking that question. 

But now, I mean, this year I don't want to focus on World Number 1, I just want to focus on myself and focus on everything outside of golf, inside of golf.  I just want to have fun and enjoy as more as I can because I know last year I paid too much attention to World Number 1.  I tried to stay on top and I feel like I tried to stay on top and tried to play well instead of getting there, instead of like just have fun and keep doing what I'm used to doing and I feel like I lost some childlike, I just want to play as a child, and I feel like I lost that enjoyment for playing golf last year. 

So this year, World Number 1 still means a lot for me, but I just don't want to really focus on that.  If I lose, it's okay, I just try to get it back.  I'm not worried about too much.  It's very hard to always be on top, and I think now the LPGA is getting tougher and tougher.  You need to play well every week to stay on top.  It's not as easy as people thought.  So I think I'm very appreciate about everything, what I have now.  I feel I'm a very lucky person.  So many people that are helping me to be World Number 1 and now I feel very thankful, very appreciate, and I know if I enjoy more and then the result will be there for me.  So I just try to smile more, because last year I know I didn't smile as much.  I tried, but it's just so hard to smile.  So this year I want to smile more and enjoy more and then I don't worry about those rankings.  I know it will be good to stay on top, but World Number 1 is always my dream, my goal, but I'm still here.  I'm very appreciative.

Q.  Did you start playing badly and then stop playing like a child, or did you stop playing like a child and then started playing badly?  Which came first?
YANI TSENG:  No, I started playing badly, yes, of course, because I think when you play like a child, you don't playing bad.  On the Tour it's lots of pressure, it's very competitive.  You want to have fun out there, you don't want to think about results too much.  But you want to try to find the fine line because it's very easy to be too relaxed, it's very easy to have too much pressure.  You just want to find the balance and try to find a new way to play your best golf.

Q.  You started out last year by winning three of the first five tournaments.  Did that increase the pressure on you and make you feel that there was more pressure?
YANI TSENG:  I feel that way -- first time I feel more pressure actually is after I didn't finish Top 10.  I think I was like eight straight Top 10s last year, and after I didn't finish Top 10 and people started asking me what's wrong with Yani.  I think that is time I feel really pressure.  And I just feel like do I play golf for myself or what do I do, because I feel like at that time I wasn't playing for myself.  I try to stay World Number 1, but I just feel like it's not me and I start working crazy, working so hard and that's just not me.  I don't go shopping, I don't watch movies, I don't do anything fun.  Every day I'm thinking golf.  That's not just me.  I like to have fun, I like to smile on the course and hang out with friends.  But after that, I don't have any fun anymore.  I just focus too much on golf and forget about too much things.  But after that, I (inaudible) for a long time, though.  But it's good that I start very fresh this year.

Q.  And you had an injury problem late last year.  Was it a shoulder?
YANI TSENG:  Yeah, it was a shoulder and my elbow.  But I think it's a lot mental, too.  It's there, but it's getting better now.  I have a physio traveling with me.  We had four, five player last year and one physio, so he helps a lot.  He keeps me in good shape and he keeps me very healthy every month, every year.

Q.  So have you changed your shot strategy going from maybe a grip-it-and-rip-it to something maybe a little bit more, instead of going with a driver every time, you use a 3-wood occasionally?
YANI TSENG:  No, I feel like grip-it-and-rip-it.  I think golf, that's what is fun.  You can choose what you want to play, you can play aggressive, you can play smart.  I still like hitting drivers.  I still like to go for it on the second shot on a par 5.  I think it's fun to watch and I think it's fun to play, too, because why you have a shot and you want to lay up.  It just doesn't make sense for me.  That's what I love to do.  I think you learn from the mistakes and you learn as you go.  So I just try to improve on my swing a little bit, try to be more consistently, and the strategy stay the same.  And my caddie, Paul, helps me a lot and we try to play smart, and if we can go for it, we go for it.

Q.  If things go poorly this year for a stretch, how do you maintain that kind of child-like enthusiasm and not fall into what happened last year?
YANI TSENG:  Actually when you look back, it's not that bad.  People talk about it bad, but I mean, when I look back, I still have three wins, 12, 13 Top 10s.  I think people are putting so much expectation on myself and I'm putting a lot of expectation on myself, too.  When I look back I was very appreciative.  I would say probably my best year I haven't done because I learned so much that I couldn't learn out of a golf course or on the golf course.  I learn some more about life, not just about golf, and I feel I've been getting more mature.  And then helping more people, it makes me very happy, too.  I play on the golf course, play the game what I like, when I was kid, so I just feel very appreciate now.  Like I say, I'm very lucky and I don't ask for any more.  I mean, I just want to play good golf, I want to play good golf.  Doesn't matter what position, either I 100 or World Number 1, but I just want to play good golf.  I just want to enjoy.

 

Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 3

MODERATOR:  I'd like to welcome Stacy Lewis into the interview room.  Stacy, thanks for coming in.  You finished tied for 10th here last year, so coming off some good vibes?  How does it feel to be back here in Phoenix?  
STACY LEWIS:  Well, it's nice to just be back in the States in general.  It's nice to not have to get on a 12-hour flight to go to your next golf tournament. It's good to be back in the States.  The course is playing good this year, the greens are holding a little bit better.  I know that kind of frustrated me last year, so I was kind of looking forward to getting back here and getting some redemption.

MODERATOR:  You're coming off a win in Singapore that I guess put the Rolex Ranking Number 1 in your sights.  Is that on your mind at all coming into this week?
STACY LEWIS:  For sure it is.  I know another win would definitely do a lot in the rankings, so it's definitely been on my mind.  I'm playing well, so it's definitely -- we're getting close.

MODERATOR:  You recently got inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame.  How was that experience?
STACY LEWIS:  It was cool, it was a lot of fun.  I think Hall of Fames to me are a little strange, but it was cool to get back and just kind of see how things have grown for me in the state of Arkansas.  I had some of my former teammates there and people I went to school with, so it was good to get back and see some friends.

MODERATOR:  I know you've been pulled in a million different directions these past couple years.  How has it been balancing your time between golf and things off the golf course?
STACY LEWIS:  Well, my agent asked me this morning; actually, he asked me can he do anything for me.  I said more time in a day.  So it's definitely been busy, it's been tough.  We've had to unfortunately say no to a lot of things, but for me golf needs to be number one and I need that time to get my practice in then if I have time for other stuff, great.  So far we've done a pretty good job of that.

MODERATOR:  The LPGA is unveiling a Fan Book for the first time this week, which is kind of a condensed version of the Player Guide, which every fan coming in will receive.  How nice is it the fans will get to know you both on and off the golf course a little bit more?
STACY LEWIS:  I think it's good.  I think a lot of players are different than what you see on the golf course off the course.  So it's just to see our personalities a little bit more, kind of what we're into.  I think that's one thing, it's cool.  When I first came out on Tour, I realized people are a lot different than what you see on TV, so it will be fun for the fans.

Q.  Stacy, Yani was just in here talking about how she kind of lost her child-like enthusiasm for the game last year because there was too much pressure on her.  I'm wondering how you handle that as you kind of chase Number 1, and also whether what you went through your teenage years maybe makes that not a problem for you, you appreciate everything you have out here because there was a good chance you weren't going to be out here.
STACY LEWIS:  I think as far as the pressure, I feel like I put more pressure on myself than any writer or any coach or any other player could put on me, so for me it's controlling my own pressure and my own expectations.  I know Yani's talked a lot about Number 1 in the world being a lonely place and things like that.  I don't know.  I've always thought it's kind of the approach you take to it.  For me, I never expected to be Number 1 in the world, so if I get there one day, I'm going to enjoy the heck out of it because there's no way that kid growing up in a back brace would ever think about being the best golfer in the world.  I think it's a lot about kind of the mindset you have going into it.

Q.  Two years ago I got to follow you and Gerina Piller.  I think it was in a competitive round, not a practice round.  What really surprised me was how she's known for being long, how you were keeping up with her shot for shot, and I never thought of you as a long player.  What led to that quantum increase in the distance that you hit the ball?
STACY LEWIS:  It's probably been in the last two years that we've got my golf swing a lot more efficient, and we weren't trying to pick up distance, we weren't trying to hit it further, it just kind of worked out that I picked up more distance just getting the golf swing more efficient.  I think it surprises people because I go out there and I swing at it, and I'm pretty little so they don't expect me to swing at it so hard.  So I think the competitive side of me, I just like getting out there with the girls and hitting it past people that are six inches taller than me.

Q.  Just curious, you talked about being in a back brace.  Golf is traditionally hard on the back.  I'm just wondering how the doctors thought that was a good thing for you, seven hours when you weren't in a brace to do as a teenager?
STACY LEWIS:  I think more than anything they wanted me to keep the flexibility and keep the movement in your back because when you're wearing the brace, you can't bend or twist at all, so it just allowed to kind of keep that movement.  And also just to be a kid and to do things that all my friends were doing, not really -- to not be treated special.

 

Vicky Hurst, Rolex Rankings No. 84

MODERATOR:  I'd like to welcome a few special guests into the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup media center. 

Ladies, thanks for coming in today.  I'll start out by introducing everyone.  To my left we have Halie Carpenter.  She is a member of the LPGA-USGA Girls Golf.  Of course Vicky Hurst, current LPGA Tour member, and president of the LPGA Foundation Nancy Henderson.  And with that said, I'm going to turn it over to Nancy for a special announcement.
NANCY HENDERSON:  Good afternoon, everyone.  Thank you for being here.  We are very excited to announce that this year's LPGA-USGA Girls Golf ambassador is Vicky Hurst, and Vicky actually grew up and was part of the Girls Golf program, so we think that she's an absolutely perfect role model for the girls and happy that she decided to help us with that task. 

So I think I'll give you just a little bit of background on Girls Golf and then we're going to ask Vicky a couple of questions as well as Halie. 

First of all, Girls Golf was an idea that came about by a woman named Cindy LaBauve, who's an LPGA teaching professional, and she's actually located right here in Phoenix.  She was pregnant at the time and there was no place for her daughter, who wasn't even born yet, to participate in junior golf.  So she had this idea of starting this all girls program and that started 25 years ago.  Today her daughter, Linde, is actually a college golf coach so it started with an idea of Cindy and it's certainly grown.  It's grown considerably thanks to the efforts of the LPGA's Commissioner, Mike Whan, the LPGA players and our title sponsor this week RR Donnelley.  Because of the funds that were raised from the past two events, which was a half a million dollars the last two years, we have been able to grow the Girls Golf program from 5,000 girls to 20,000 girls and I'm very happy to say that we'll be at 30,000 girls by the end of 2013.  So that's incredible growth thanks to the LPGA players and, of course, RR Donnelley. 

So what exactly is Girls Golf?  Girls Golf teaches not only the game of golf, but we inspire and prepare girls for the game of life, and the way we do that is through our five Es.  We empower girls to believe that anything is possible.  We enrich their lives through golf.  We engage them in their communities.  We exercise their minds and bodies, and we energize them with the enthusiasm that we all have for the game of golf. 

So with that, I'm going to talk a little bit to Vicky and just ask you, why did you decide to take on this role as Girls Golf ambassador?

VICKY HURST:  Well, you guys called me with this opportunity and it was kind of a no-brainer for me because Girls Golf influenced me at a young age in such a positive way, got me into the game of golf and just being competitive and learning kind of the values of life. 

I just remember when I was young, my sister and I, we went to a couple of the Girls Golf programs in Orlando and I just remember it being a ton of fun.  There were a few LPGA players there and really kind of got me excited to play golf and spend time with friends and meet new people, so it was a no-brainer to accept to become ambassador.

NANCY HENDERSON:  Well, that's great.  She said contacted her, I think I kind of accosted her at the CME tournament at the end of the year and she said sure, send me more information about what exactly I have to do.  So she was certainly willing and able to take on that role. 

We're going to have quite a few events going on this week.  You're going to see Girls Golf members everywhere.  I have to warn you you're going to see Girls Golf members in your signature hat, and one of the activities this week is Vicky's Hat Hunt, which is a great scavenger hunt. 

What does it feel like to have these girls looking up to you as a role model?

VICKY HURST:  It's pretty -- it's really cool.  It's kind of humbling to know that these girls are out there and they're involved and I'm a good influence for them.  It's really cool that we're doing the scavenger hunt with the hats and they have so many other cool activities going on this week.  And I encourage all girls, doesn't matter whether you play sports or not, to get involved with Girls Golf because it's like the five Es, there's so much more importance to the program than just learning golf.

NANCY HENDERSON:  As we all know, there's so many programs in golf and there's so many more boys that are participating in golf than girls.  For every 10 juniors that take up the game, two of them are girls.  One of the little girls is like Halie or Vicky and they stay in the program to excel and to beat the boys, and the other poor girl will run for the hills.  But with the all girls programming, the girls have the ability to do things that girls like to do. 

So Halie, with that, what is your favorite part of Girls Golf and tell us a little bit about your experience.

HALIE CARPENTER:  I have to say that my favorite part of Girls Golf is just being with all the girls.  They're all so sweet and we all just have a great time.  It's not like super competitive, you're just out there having fun, getting to know each other, getting to play the great game of golf.  It's beautiful outside and just lots of fun.

NANCY HENDERSON:  Well, that's great.  And you've been part of Girls Golf for a long time.  Tell us why you've stayed and a little bit about your site director.

HALIE CARPENTER:  Yeah, like she said, I've been in it for a long time, almost a decade.  Kathy Knadler, our site director, she's awesome.  She's probably one of the most sweetest, caring person I have ever met.  She's so encouraging and she's always just wanting you to excel and do better with whatever you do, even if it's not golf, so that's great.

NANCY HENDERSON:  That's awesome.  I know you're participating in a lot of the activities this week.  On Sunday we will have some girls on the first tee and we'll have some girls on the 16th, 17th and 18th green to be flag girls and they'll be out there to show their support of the players and all that they're doing to help support Girls Golf.

I do have Bianca with me, she's our Girls Golf head cover.  Look for these head covers on the course this week.  Every LPGA player is going to get one of the head covers and hopefully they'll put them on their bag to show their support of Girls Golf and show that they're a champion for our Girls Golf program.  We have a whole Champions for Girls Golf campaign, which is a fundraising campaign that helps us continue to grow and get more and more girls involved in golf.  So with that, turn it back over to Ali.

 

Q.  How long has the Girls Golf program been in existence?
NANCY HENDERSON:  Girls Golf program will be celebrating I believe its 25th anniversary next year.  And hopefully we will be back here to celebrate that 25th year.

Q.  How many currently LPGA Tour members started in the Girls Golf program?
NANCY HENDERSON:  I think I can answer that.  There's about 30 LPGA Tour professionals who have been part of our Girls Golf program.  Our last two girls golf ambassadors, last year Morgan Pressel was our girls golf ambassador, she grew up in girls golf.  The year before it was Brittany Lincicome.  So there are quite a few that, in one way or another, their lives were touched with Girls Golf.

Q.  (Question regarding The First Tee program.)
NANCY HENDERSON:  Absolutely.  And we partner very well with the First Tee.  We actually have 70 of our sites that are within First Tee sites.  What the First Tee has realized is that girls enjoy the all girls programming, so we come in with our girls golf component and are now part of quite a few of the First Tees.  They have found out that the way to attract and retain girls like Halie, having her 10 years in the program, the best way is to create some all-girls programming as well.  And the five Es are very similar to the nine core values with the First Tee so we align very well.

MODERATOR:  Vicky, with you being the new ambassador of Girls Golf, it's pretty evident that you'll have a few more fans.  The LPGA is unveiling this week our Fan Book, which provides fans who come to watch the tournament a bit more insight of your game on the golf course and as well as your life off the golf course.  How cool is it for them to get further insight into you and your life?
VICKY HURST:  This is really cool.  It's a great way to let the fans know more about the players other than being just good golfers.  I think this is the second year?

MODERATOR:  First year.
VICKY HURST:  First year.  Yeah, so far it's gotten really good feedback and it's cool for us players to have a cool booklet like this for the fans to get to know more about them.  They'll have a lot more connections, I think, that way.

MODERATOR:  We have in here a picture of you juggling.  Are you a pretty good juggler?
VICKY HURST:  I'm pretty good.  Yeah, I think they took that picture last year here at the Getty Images.

Q.  Halie, do you want to play professionally, in college, or is it just a well-rounded experience for you? 
HALIE CARPENTER:  So far it's been a well-rounded experience and I've just enjoyed it so much that I hope to continue playing in college, and from there we'll see what happens.  I'm not sure.  I'm only 17, so still have a lot of time to figure all these things out.  We'll see.

NANCY HENDERSON:  She could be the 31st member.

 

Topics: Lewis, Stacy, Tseng, Yani, LPGA Founders Cup, Notes and Interviews

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