Kingsmill Championship Pre-tournament Notes and Interviews April 30

Jiyai Shin
Photo Credit: Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Jiyai Shin of South Korea hits her tee shot on the 11th hole during the final round of the Kingsmill Championship at Kingsmill Resort on September 9, 2012 in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Kingsmill Championship
Kingsmill Resort, River Course
Williamsburg, Virginia
Pre-tournament Notes and Interviews
April 30, 2013

Jiyai Shin, Defending Champion and Rolex Rankings No. 7
Inbee Park, Rolex Rankings No. 1

The LPGA Tour heads to the East Coast for the first time this season this week for the Kingsmill Championship in Williamsburg, Va. The Kingsmill Resort, River Course welcomes a field comprised of 144 elite LPGA players including each of the top-10 players in the current Rolex Rankings who will contend for a $1.3 million purse and a $195,000 first-place prize.

Last year's event ended in dramatic fashion as Jiyai Shin and Paula Creamer battled through nine playoff holes before Shin took the victory Monday morning. The two were sent into extra holes after Creamer missed a par opportunity on the 72nd hole to seal the win at the end of regulation on Sunday. After going par-for-par on the 18th hole eight times in a row with darkness creeping in, the two players decided to continue Monday morning. They resumed the playoff on the 16th hole and after similar approach shots, Creamer three-putted to make bogey on the hole, giving Shin an easy putt for par to take the win.

Shin went on to win the season's final major, the RICOH Women's British Open, the following week and started her 2013 campaign with her 11th career LPGA win at the season-opener in Australia.

Turning point playoff: Coming into last year's Kingsmill Championship, Jiyai Shin had a 31-event winless streak and was coming off a nagging wrist injury that required surgery just three months prior. The South Korean said that at the time, her triumphant nine-hole playoff win was the perfect turning point in her career and put her right back on track to her winning ways.

"Well, it's definitely a good memory for me because I won," said Shin. "I've never played in nine holes playoff, so that's why it was a great experience. And I was really hungry for the win at the time."

Shin notched her ninth-career win in Williamsburg a year ago and used her momentum to win her 10th the following week at the RICOH Women's British Open by a dominating nine-stroke margin. She's already broken into the winner's circle this year at the season-opening ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open and after resting an ailing back two weeks ago during the Tour's stop in Hawaii, Shin says she feels refreshed and back to form to defend her title this week. Despite turning only 25 just last Sunday, Shin said it's starting to become a challenge dealing with injuries in her fifth year on Tour.

"Well, I'm 25 this year, but I don't know, my body feels getting injuries," said Shin. "So I feel I'm still young, but my body is not. Well, yeah, I got ‑‑ I had a back problem like months ago, since the Kia ‑‑ so after I finished at Kraft, I take a couple weeks break. So I feel really good now. I feel really good and feel ready to go. And I played last week, so I think it was good warming up."

Fresh on her mind: When Jiyai Shin returned to Kingsmill Resort this week, she said it felt like yesterday when she went through the nine-hole playoff gauntlet that led her to her ninth-career victory a year ago. A trace of nostalgia hit the South Korean when she saw the well-visited 18th hole this morning during her practice round.

"Well, I can't believe it's already a year ago," said Shin. "So I'm really happy to be back here. And I played this morning and when I walking on the 18th hole I have like a big image of the 18th hole because of last year, final day. I played it nine times, that hole. So last year was a great competition with Paula, so each hole I remember about how I feel and how I shot. So it feels like very fresh to be here."

Although Shin claims to have good memories of replaying the 18th hole last year, she said she thinks it's a good move that the playoff layout will be switched up this year in case of the need for extra holes. Players will replay 18 three times before moving to No. 16, 17 and 18 if needed.

"Probably. I think so," said Shin. "Because 18 hole is really tough to make the birdie, even the back corner pin location. So I think this is a good idea, but I worry one thing is lots of people, lots of gallery, they are around standing on the 18th hole. So if we move back to 16, how many people come with us? So that's ‑‑ I worry about the one thing, but I hope if I have a chance to win I don't want to play the playoff. I already played the nine holes last year. I think that's enough for a few years."

Livin' the dream. Since last June, Inbee Park's consistency has been the talk of the Tour. With five wins and 11 top-10 finishes, it's obvious why her consistency has paid off as she takes over the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Rankings. It's a spot that she's had her eye on since she first picked up a club when she was 12-years-old.

"It's just living my dream every day, you know," said Park. "That's been my dream since I started playing golf, to be the best in the world, and I finally reached it this April. And it was ‑‑ everything was just coming together and everything that I dreamed for."

With the pressures that may come with having the top spot, Park says she has learned to tune out the nerves as she enters her fourth week with World No. 1 attached to her name.

"It's just sometimes when you think about it too much, I think it could be, you know, some very heavy spot to be in," said Park. "I mean, you can put a lot of pressure on yourself when you're No. 1. But I'm just trying to think that's just a number, that's just, you know, a number. It's just No. 1 and No. 1 is just No. 1, not trying to say that I need to win every week or anything. It's just I try to enjoy what I'm doing and that's just a gift."

Prepared for domination. The River Course at Kingsmill Resort may not have best-suited Inbee Park's game in the past. In three appearances, Park secured a best-finish tie for 16th in 2008 between two missed cuts when the tournament was known as the Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill. Park says that the novelty feeling of the course might be an advantage that allows her to just enjoy playing as the No. 1 golfer in the world.

"I haven't played this course for four or five years," said Park. "And it seems pretty new to me, but somehow I just remember this course like I played yesterday even though it was five years ago. I mean, I just love to come to this spot. It's a great spot to come and it's a very nice resort and very nice golf course. I'm just going to try to enjoy my week of golf here."

Park has a tighter grip on the top spot ranking with her win at the inaugural North Texas LPGA Shootout last week. Now having held the spot for four consecutive weeks, Park doesn't feel the pressure that could come with the position, instead the consistency in her game has put her at a place of contentment.
"Whether I maintain No. 1 or No. 2, it doesn't really matter," said Park. "I'm having really a lot of fun just playing golf right now, just playing week by week and try to, you know, try to play my best every week."

Five Things You Didn't Know About….Lauren Doughtie
2013 LPGA Tour rookie Lauren Doughtie returns to her home state this week eager to play in front of family and friends for the first time as an LPGA member. The Suffolk, Va. native said she was happy to sleep at home on Monday and has plenty of allegiance to the popular Tour stop at Kingsmill Resort. When asked what her favorite event has been so far on Tour, Doughtie's response was immediate saying "we haven't played yet but obviously here."

1. If Doughtie was not a professional golfer, she would be an engineer

2. The NC State grad is quite the handy woman and has built several wooden cabinets and chest drawers that are on display in her home in Suffolk

3. She says her name is mispronounced about 90% of the time. For reference, it's pronounced "Dowdy"

4. Her most embarrassing moment on the golf course came in high school when a bird pooped on her back. The myth of bringing good luck may be true as she went on to win the event.

5. Lauren claims to have an artistic side as well and won several awards in high school. She says her favorite was a pencil piece she drew for her father which features her grandmother's high basketball picture from 1947

Tweet of the Day: "Just Monday qualified for the 3rd time this year! So excited to be playing in the LPGA Kingsmill Championship! 3rd time's the charm? #gonnabeagoodweek" - @TheAmeliaLewis

Quotable: "Well, I'm very impressed about her play.  And then last year I played with her at the British Open straight after this tournament.  I played a whole round, full whole round, and she played so good.  And then her swing tempo every time is the same.  Even different weather or different condition, different lie, she doesn't care.  She just keep her swing tempo.  That's why she hit it pretty well." – Jiyai Shin about Inbee Park's swing and golf game.

Jiyai Shin, Rolex Rankings No. 7

MODERATOR: All right. Well, I'd like to welcome in Rolex Rankings No. 7 and our defending champ this week, Jiyai Shin. Jiyai, thanks for joining us. Welcome back. Obviously a place you have a very close affection for in your heart here being defending champ. Just how do you feel to be back and how happy are you to be back at Kingsmill?
JIYAI SHIN: Well, I can't believe it's already years ago. So I'm really happy to be back here. And I played this morning and when I walking on the 18th hole I have like a big image of the 18th hole because of last year, final day. I played it nine times, that hole. So last year was a great competition with Paula, so each hole I remember about how I feel and how I shot. So it feels like very fresh to be here.

MODERATOR: Talk about that experience. Obviously you were probably involved in one of the most exciting finishes on the LPGA. Has that playoff ever come back into your mind at any other tournament, or does it haunt you at all or does it come back as a good memory for you? And how has that playoff kind of played since it was only a year ago?
JIYAI SHIN: Well, it's definitely a good memory for me because I won. I've never played in nine holes playoff, so that's why it was a great experience. And I was really hungry for the win at the time. And also Paula, she also very hungry for win because we didn't win last couple years. So I can feel about my passion for a win, and when I look at her, she also, she fought very consistently for her plays. So it was a really big memory about the competition.

MODERATOR: Talk about coming back as the defending champion. Do you thrive in that situation? Do you bring it back and have it as a confidence booster? Do you think it's more of a pressure knowing you can play well at this course? What does that kind of mindset do for you?
JIYAI SHIN: Well, I have a good confidence this week because last year I hit it 9‑under par on the first day. So I'm pretty sure I know about the greens and all the condition at this course. But definitely the weather is a little bit different because last year we played in September, but this year we're playing May. Green and fairways are much softer than last year and pretty wet at the moment. I know the weekend is really good weather, so it can change a little bit. But at this moment it's pretty wet, so I need to hit more harder with my driver.

MODERATOR: Gain some yards?
JIYAI SHIN: Yes.

MODERATOR: Now, you've had some injuries in your career where you've gone through rehab, take some time off, but you've always seem to come back stronger. You come back off of these injuries that some people ‑‑ might hinder their performance or take a while to come back. You had a back issue a couple weeks ago that's been tinkering. What's the deal with your health? How are you feeling? And how are you managing that?
JIYAI SHIN: Well, I'm 25 this year, but I don't know, my body feels getting injuries. So I feel I'm still young, but my body is not. Well, yeah, I got ‑‑ I had a back problem like months ago, since from the Kia ‑‑ no, Kraft Nabisco Championship. So after finish, I take a couple weeks break. So I feel really good now. I feel really good and feel ready to go. And I played last week, so I think it was good warming up. And last week was really special on Sunday because it was my birthday and I played by myself on the first tee. So I felt like so alone, but it was a fun day. And then I came back to here, so it was a long day but I really, I'm very happy to be back here on Sunday.

Q Jiyai, you talked about last year's playoff plan. They did change the format this year. You're going to play ‑‑ if there's a playoff, they play 18 three times and then go to 16, 17, 18. Do you prefer that format? Did it get monotonous for you and Paula last year playing 18 so many times in a row?

JIYAI SHIN: Probably. I think so. Because 18 hole is really tough to make the birdie, even the back corner pin location. So I think this is a good idea, but I worry one thing is lots of people, lots of gallery, they are around standing on the 18th hole. So if we move back to 16, how many people come with us? So that's ‑‑ I worry about the one thing, but I hope if I have a chance to win I don't want to play the playoff. I already played the nine holes last year. I think that's enough for a few years.

Q And also, you and Inbee have been playing so well this year and she won last week and has now won three times this year. Can you talk a little bit about how she's been playing and elevating to No. 1 in the world?

JIYAI SHIN: Well, I'm very impressed about her play. And then last year I played with her at the British Open straight after this tournament. I played a whole round, full whole round, and she played so good. And then her swing tempo every time is the same. Even different weather or different condition, different lie, she doesn't care. She just keep her swing tempo. That's why she hit it pretty well. And also her strength is putting. So she didn't make any bogeys. Very hard to say that she made the bogeys. So that's why she missed ‑‑ she make mistakes, she not make that. So that's why she pretty good decisions. So I got more inspired from her so I just keep practicing a lot. So I think that's good for me too, so I just keep pushing myself.

Q You mentioned putting being her strength. Last I checked, you were leading the Tour in fairways hit driving accuracy. What's been the key to you keeping the ball in the fairway so frequently this year?
JIYAI SHIN: Well (inaudible) is very important because golf is a very tough game, we need everything. But that's hard. But definitely if I putting like her, I think I can make a couple more wins. I think she's ‑‑ her putting is really nice.

MODERATOR: One last follow‑up. We talked about Inbee going up to No. 1. There's been a couple different No. 1's. You were there a couple years ago. Just talk about being ‑‑ you're obviously in the Top 10, so obviously within striking distance, so you know what it takes to reach it. Talk about the state of the Tour now with so many players in the mix, so many players competing with each other. Like you said, everyone is pushing each other to be better. There's not one truly dominant player. Inbee is almost on her way, but talk about the current state of the Tour and competing within the Top 10 in the Rolex Rankings.
JIYAI SHIN: Well, you're right, there's just so many players, a lot of chance to be No. 1, they're so close. But at the moment, Inbee, she play so well, so I hope ‑‑ I think she take a pretty long time to be No. 1, but it's a lot of pressure about that spot. So I was getting really big pressure, so like it make it a little bit hard to keep doing it about the focus. Because when I'm playing and be No. 1, I was thinking I'm No. 1, I have to be perfect. So that's why I make the pressure by myself. I think all play is the same. So I hope ‑‑ Inbee have a fiancee with her in traveling, so I think he help a lot for her, make it relaxed and lose the pressure. That's good for her. And also ‑‑ well, I think this year is a really good year for back to No. 1 because we have a five major tournament. So I think she won already three times and then she had a good feeling, but I think still we have a lot of chance to be change, be No. 1, even me too.
Inbee Park, Rolex Rankings No. 1

MODERATOR: All right. I'd like to welcome the World No. 1 golfer, Inbee Park, into the interview room. Thank you so much for joining us today. You're coming off your third win this year at the Inaugural North Texas LPGA Shootout. I know you were able to celebrate with your family after your win at Kraft. Were you able to celebrate in any way on Sunday before coming here?
INBEE PARK: No, because it was actually just me, my caddie and my fiancee together, and we actually originally booked a flight, Sunday night flight, and we missed our flight and we changed the flights and everything to Monday. It was kind of chaos yesterday. But it was ‑‑ I was very happy that I won. Third time this year and, you know, it felt very special, especially finishing off with a birdie to win. It was a very close match on Sunday and it was very fun and it was a very good experience.

MODERATOR: With that win you kind of pulled yourself in front of the pack and really got a tighter grip on the World No. 1 ranking. Does that give you comfort or are you still kind of nervous knowing that there are two players behind you who have held the No. 1 spot before?
INBEE PARK: Well, yeah, I mean, No. 1 is, you know, a big title for me and I know it is something, you know, that I should be very honored to have. And I am still very honored to have that spot and just to be able to play for No. 1 every week. Not that I'm going to be No. 1 forever, but a few weeks I can play for No. 1. Whether I maintain No. 1 or number 2, it doesn't really matter. I'm having really a lot of fun just playing golf right now, just playing week by week and try to, you know, try to play my best every week.

MODERATOR: Now, your best finish here in Kingsmill is a tie for I think 16th in 2008. Other finishes haven't really shown that you have really conquered this course. How are you feeling coming into this week with the consistency that you have had and this being kind of a new course for you to play?

INBEE PARK: Yeah, I mean, I didn't come here last year to play, so I haven't played this course for four or five years. And it seems pretty new to me, but somehow I just remember this course like I played yesterday even though it was five years ago. I mean, I just love to come to this spot. It's a great spot to come and it's a very nice resort and very nice golf course. I'm just going to try to enjoy my week of golf here.

Q We talked about in this last pretty much calendar year what has turned it around. You played well before that obviously, but you've just been dominant the last really for a year now. What's been the key?
INBEE PARK: Well, all my professional career I think I've always been a very good short game player, but I wasn't a best ball striking player for a while. And since I started working with my fiancee two and a half years ago, my ball striking skills got really improved a lot. And, you know, I hit a lot more fairways and a lot more greens, giving myself a lot more opportunity. So my short game is finally, you know, seeing its good side. I mean, having a lot of opportunities. I was able to make a lot of birdies.

Q Do you remember, I was reading somewhere too, I'm from Rochester, and you hadn't had a Top 10 last year until you went to Rochester. Then in that week did you find something that week that maybe carried you through or no?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I mean I always love playing in Rochester. It's a great course and it's a very challenging golf course. And I played there when it was not major, I played there when it was a major. And it's been playing very, you know, I've always been playing very good there and I've been getting a lot of confidence after that week. I won U.S. Open right after Wegmans in 2008. I mean, that's been a tournament that's always been special to me so I'm really looking forward to going back there.

Q Having won the Open at such a young age and then to go three years without winning, did you ever have any doubts in 2009, '10 or '11 that you would be able to recapture that form that allowed you to win?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I mean, I haven't played really great after winning U.S. Open. I haven't had any wins on the LPGA Tour and it was a tough time for me. It was ‑‑ I wasn't hitting the ball great. I was really struggling with my driver, couldn't really hit a tee shot, and that's been the main problem. I've been still, you know, putting really good and being really good short game player, but I just couldn't keep it in the fairway. That made it a lot tougher. And trying to get that back on the fairways took a while, and I think that was the time that I actually needed to actually get experience on the LPGA Tour and, you know, just getting a lot of lessons from all the other players out here who are much better than me. I've learned a lot the last few years and finally I'm here.

Q So how does someone who is not even 20 years old yet manage to get through four days on such an open golf course or so difficult, and to come from behind like you did? Because I think you trailed by a couple shots going into Sunday. How did that all happen?
INBEE PARK: I mean, I'm actually really used to playing USGA golf courses. I've been playing from junior years and amateur years. So I kind of treated U.S. Women's Open as like one of my just younger USGA tournaments and I didn't actually know, you know, what I was actually doing. I was just really young and didn't feel that much pressure, didn't know what I was really playing for. But now I know what I play for and I know what that means now.

Q How important was it to, especially with Kraft this year, to win another major, at least in your mind?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I mean, major always gives you a longer memory of winning. I mean, I still remember Kraft this year by every hole. It's very special. And especially the tournament like Kraft where they have ‑‑ and it's a major where they have great champions, all these great players in the past. I was just honored to put my name on the trophy, and it's more special.

Q I've just got a question about around last year at this time Yani was No. 1 and she was No. 1 for a long, long time. Is it surprising to you how quickly things have turned around? It looked like last year she would be No. 1 for the next 10 years the way she was playing. Just talk about, you know, the change, the change at the top like that.
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I mean, yes, she was very good. She was playing very consistent and very good for a while. I think she's just a little bit struggling right now, but I think she's still very competitive and she still has a lot of talent. It might take her ‑‑ I mean, it's probably taking longer ‑‑ she thinks it's probably taking longer to come back here, but I think she will be here very soon and. Yeah, she's just a very talented player. It is this game of golf, anybody can be like that I think.

Q You played with (Inaudible). What have you seen?
INBEE PARK: I really haven't played with Yani that much. I played once with her last year in Taiwan in which she finished third. She was playing good when I was playing with her. So I think it's just mostly she's struggling just a little bit of tee shots and little bit of putting maybe.

Q Jiyai was in here earlier and she mentioned having played with you last year at the British Open. She said the thing that struck her about watching you was, and the conditions were so rotten over there, but she said no matter the weather, your swing tempo was always the same. I'm just wondering how you were able to develop that consistency where your tempo just doesn't change no matter what's going on?
INBEE PARK: I actually think anybody else who is out here can actually do that. I think Jiyai can do that better than me actually. I'm just trying to swing very comfortable. I'm not trying to be too much technical or not too much of a technique. I mean, here and there, angles, I don't really pay that much attention to that. I really rely on my feelings and just, you know, not to be too quick. And that's just how I swing.

Q I want to go back to the being No. 1 thing. Just in general what does it mean to you to be No. 1?

INBEE PARK: It's just living my dream every day, you know. That's been my dream since I started playing golf, to be the best in the world, and I finally reached it this April. And it was ‑‑ everything was just coming together and everything that I dreamed for. Yeah, I made a lot of people happy, that's for sure. My parents were really happy and ‑‑ yeah, it's just sometimes when you think about it too much, I think it could be, you know, some very heavy spot to be in. I mean, you can put a lot of pressure on yourself when you're No. 1. But I'm just trying to think that's just a number, that's just, you know, a number. It's just No. 1 and No. 1 is just No. 1, not trying to say that I need to win every week or anything. It's just I try to enjoy what I'm doing and that's just a gift.

Q You know what it's been like to go through dry spells and now you're hot. What's the difference? What's the feeling like when you're hot?
INBEE PARK: It's just, I don't know, I just feel like my game has been improving, you know, since the last couple years. And every week I play, I try to learn some new things. And if I didn't do something good this week, I try to improve the next week. Yeah, just trying to improve step by step and that's been working really good for me.

MODERATOR: Jiyai was in here earlier and she was saying you're kind of a role model for a lot of the Koreans on tour. There's four in the Top 10 in the Rolex Rankings. How is that having that on your shoulders?
INBEE PARK: I think she was just kidding actually. Not just myself, but there are a lot of great players out here that could be a role model. I'm just very honored to hear that kind of thing from another player. It just means a lot and, yeah, it feels great to hear that. But that means I need to show them more respect. And I think I respect all the players out here and that they have, you know, very good talent and that they can win here every week. You just can't expect who is going to win this week or next week, every week.

MODERATOR: One last question for you. I know you come from a family of really successful entrepreneurs. Can you talk about your family business and how that's maybe encouraged you in your golf career?

INBEE PARK: Yeah, I mean, my dad and my grandfather, they've been having a business in Korea for a long time and I've got to say, you know, I didn't ‑‑ I played golf in very good situation back in Korea. It was very expensive to play and everything was really expensive in Korea to play golf, but I didn't have any troubles because of money. Yet they were very supportive of me. And they do all their businesses. We've been doing our business for 40 years. They usually ‑‑ they do like repping. They do all different kinds of drinks, bottling in Korea. So ‑‑

Topics: Notes and Interviews, Kingsmill Championship, Shin, Jiyai, Park, Inbee

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