Kraft Nabisco Championship Tuesday Pre-Tournament Notes and Interviews

Photo Credit: David Cannon/Getty Images

Lizette Salas of the USA plays her tee shot at the par 3, 14th hole during the second round of the 2012 Kraft Nabisco Championship at Mission Hills Country Club.

Kraft Nabisco Championship
Mission Hills Country Club
Rancho Mirage, Calif.
Pre-Tournament Notes and Interviews
April 2, 2013

Annika Sorenstam, Kraft Nabisco Championship Celebrity Pro-Am Hostess
Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Paula Creamer, Rolex Rankings No. 10
Na Yeon Choi, Rolex Rankings No. 3
I.K. Kim, Rolex Rankings No. 16

Poppie’s Pond will claim its next victim this week at the 30th annual Kraft Nabisco Championship (@KNCgolf) in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Mission Hills Country Club will play host to the season’s first major and will feature a star-studded field of 111 players, all vying for a $2 million purse and a $300,000 first place check.

The 2012 Kraft Nabisco Championship ended in dramatic fashion with Rolex Rankings No. 24 Sun Young Yoo defeating No. 15 I.K. Kim in a one-hole playoff. Kim had the opportunity to take the win in regulation play, but missed a one-foot par putt on the 18th green to take the tournament into extra holes. Yoo hit her approach shot to within 20-feet of the pin on the first playoff hole and sank the birdie putt to claim what seemed to be an improbable victory at the season’s first major championship. Yoo enters the week having two missed cuts in domestic play, but the nostalgia of returning to the home of her first major championship and second-career LPGA win might channel some aggression this week.

Kim’s playoff record acquired another loss last week after Beatriz Recari (@BeatrizRecari) defeated Kim in a two-hole sudden death playoff at the Kia Classic. Claiming 18 top-10 finishes since her third-career LPGA victory at the 2010 Lorena Ochoa Invitational there’s no question Kim’s mental game is focused on the winner’s circle this week.

Playing the part: Rolex Rankings No. 1 Stacy Lewis (@Stacy_Lewis) returns to the site of her first major championship in 2010, but this time has the title of the best player in the world attached to her name. The Texas native seems to have a good grasp on holding the top spot and knows that if she takes care of her business on the course, the ranking will take care of itself.

“Well, I think the first question I was asked when I became No. 1 is, ‘How long are you going to stay there?’  I can't even think about that,” said Lewis. “There are so many things that I can't control.  I can't control how Yani plays, how Inbee Park plays.  If they go out and play better than me, then I lose the No. 1 ranking.  If I go out there and take care of myself, I'll be at that No. 1 ranking.”

She said she’s been concentrating on the things that ultimately got her to this point in the first place. She’s striving to be the same Stacy Lewis whose gritty performances and passionate play moved her way up the ranks.

“So I just have to keep worrying about myself and keep doing what I'm doing,” said Lewis. “Talking to my mom, I said, ‘I'm going to be the same person that I was before.  I'm going to do the sings things, because what I'm doing is working, so there is no reason to get to this point and change everything.  I'm still the same person.  I'm still going to work hard every day.  That's not going to change.’”

Lewis did admit adapting to certain scenarios recently, now that she’s the center of attention in every room she enters at off-course functions. She said with the help of her two sisters, she’s upgraded her wardrobe. Lewis sported a one-shoulder patterned dress and heels at the pro-am party on Monday night and looked every bit the part. She gave herself credit for picking out the ensemble.

“That's probably the place I'm least comfortable because it's not my style at all,” said Lewis. “I'm more comfortable in jeans, a T‑shirt, and flip flops.  I'm getting used to it.  Having some helps from my sisters, that definitely that helps the process a little bit.  But I realize it's part of what makes this tour successful and part of the deal when you get to the top.  You kind of have to do it. I actually picked that dress out all by myself.  They should be pretty impressed with that.”

Moving on. Last year, I.K. Kim lined up her putt on the 18th green with Kraft Nabisco Championship title in clear view. In the matter of seconds, Kim saw that title slip away as she watched her ball horseshoe around the hole and fail to fall in, hearing a roar of gasps from the surrounding gallery. Ultimately falling to Sun Young Yoo in a sudden death playoff, Kim admits she was disappointed in the loss but refuses to let her emotions resurface as she returns to Mission Hills Country Club this week.

“I learned a lot,” said Kim. “I think last year was big turning point of my life of learning and what's really important.  It just gave me different view of it.

“Well, so, look back, it was tough to handle at first, but I think it's important not only to the viewers and the people, but to let other people, younger generation, to know that it's not always going to be glorious and like victory.”

Kim enters the week having added another loss to her playoff record after falling to Beatriz Recari on the second hole of a sudden death playoff at the Kia Classic. With four sudden death defeats on her résumé, Kim says those moments help her comeback each week with an optimistic perspective on her golf game.

“Sometimes you got to just pick yourself up and be tough and just move on,” said Kim. “Don't really feel sorry for yourself, because it's life.  You have to be happy and enjoy what you have is I think what I've learned.”
  
Since Kim’s last victory at the 2010 Lorena Ochoa Invitational, she has been in contention more than 10 times in major championships. She says that number is shocking but makes participating in majors all the more thrilling. 

“First of all, yes, I've been in contention, I can't believe, 11 times,” said Kim. “It's exciting.  I love major championships because of the history.  We get spoiled like coming out here and playing in perfect conditions.

“That's what I love about playing majors and being as a professional golfer.  Sometimes it's not easy because whole world is looking at you and see your results and things like that.”

 

Another chance to give back: Na Yeon Choi (@nychoi87) has dedicated herself to charitable efforts and giving back throughout her professional career and continuously gives back to the communities who she believes have served her.

The 2012 U.S. Women’s Open champion brainstormed ways to give back to the place where she won her first major championship last season and decided to donate $30,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of Sheboygan, Wisc. A past visit to the Boys and Girls Club in Toledo showed her the influence the organization has on its members.

“I went to Boys & Girls Club in Toledo, and I tried teach kids for playing golf and they loved it,” said Choi.

“I got good vibes from there.  I just think right away, decide right away I want to try to help them.  That's why I choose Boys & Girls Club.”

Choi said she made a promise to her dad early in her career that she would consistently pay it forward to those in need, a position she’s too familiar with considering her humble upbringing in South Korea.

“Actually, I started to donate in 2005 when I just turned pro in Korea,” said Choi. “I was 17 years old, and I promised my dad when I earn money I would like to give back to them.  Because when I was young, my family didn't have much money for playing golf at the moment, so many good people helped me for playing golf.”

Choi was joined on stage to present the check by the organization’s Executive Director, Bob O’Hara, Director of Operations, Gwen Goebel and Kim Zue who was named the Youth of the Year.

 

Hostess with the mostest. Three-time Kraft Nabisco champion Annika Sorenstam returned to Mission Hills Country Club this week- but in a different position than her usual player-in-contention role. Sorenstam is the KNC Celebrity Pro-Am host this week and said it was a no-brainer when tournament organizers approached her with the idea almost a year ago.

“They said, ‘Well, would you like to host the celebrity pro‑am?’  I said, ‘I would love to do that,’” said Sorenstam. “I think the celebrity pro‑am is something that makes this tournament special.  We all know the celebrities come down to Palm Springs.  Seems to be the mecca for people that love golf.  They make the tournament the way it is through the years with Dinah Shore and her friends. It's obviously an honor for me to be a part of that.  For me to come back here brings back a lot of memories.”

Sorenstam spoke about the importance of the event on the LPGA Tour schedule and how the storied location at Mission Hills Country Club and the tradition of great champions makes it a player and fan favorite.

“I think every player loves the major championships,” said Sorenstam. “There's something special about it, especially an event like this that's been going on for over 40 years.  There is so much tradition.  We are in the same venue, which makes it even more special.  It's kind of like the Masters.  We all come here and remember shots that the champions have hit.  We remember the famous leaps into Poppie's Pond.

“It's the history I think that means a lot.  You look at the trophy, at the paths on the 18th and you see all the names of the players that we all look up to and that we all try to copy one way or another.  I think it's very, very special.”

Sorenstam, who gets her regular golf fix through working at her Orlando-based golf school, the Annika Academy, said she’s looking forward to trying out her new Callaway clubs in the pro-am on Wednesday. When asked if she has a target number in mind for her round, she replied with a laugh.

“59,” said Sorenstam. “We’ll see after how many holes.”

Planning for the Plunge. For more than 40 years, the Kraft Nabisco Championship has provided numerous special moments for LPGA Tour pros. From the two-day celebrity pro-am events to the breathtaking views from the famous 18th hole bridge, Mission Hills Country Club is the site of many historical moments in women’s golf.

But perhaps the most anticipated occasion this week for players and fans alike is the champion’s leap into Poppie’s Pond.

“If you ask the players, I think in their mind we may not admit it, but we all think about, ‘how am I going to get into this pond?’” said Annika Sorenstam, who made the leap three times in her career. “Am I diving?  Am I stumbling?  Am I jumping?  We all think about this when we come to Palm Springs.”

As a matter of fact, many players do have a game plan should they have the opportunity to make the plunge.

“I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, but obviously it's very easy to think about it,” said Paula Creamer. “You talk about it every day.  I don't think I would be very graceful.  I think I would go for a cannonball.  That would be a great moment.  Hopefully that will come one day.”    

For Na Yeon Choi, the leap into the pond is something she dreads thinking about considering her fear of the deep-end of the pool in her backyard in Orlando.

“Actually, I talked to my caddie and caddie said like, ‘don't worry about that,’” said Choi. “’After you win, then I will holding you and walk to the water and jumping into the water.  You don't have to worrying about the swimming.’”

Up For Grabs! The No. 1 spot on the Rolex Rankings is not safe this week as Yani Tseng and Na Yeon Choi both have opportunities to unseed Stacy Lewis.

Scenarios for Yani Tseng: Tseng is projected to regain the No. 1 spot with a victory regardless of anyone else’s finish. If Yani finishes alone in second, Stacy Lewis would need to finish fifth or worse. If Yani finishes alone in third, Stacy would need to finish 30th or worse.

Scenarios for Na Yeon Choi: Choi can take No. 1 with a win and a finish of fourth or worse by Stacy Lewis.

Of Note…Fourteen-year old Angel Lin of Arcadia, Calif. shot a 67 in the Legends Junior Challenge on Tuesday to earn a spot into the field this week…Amateur Alice Lee withdrew from the event prior to the first round of play.

Quotable: “I'm going to be the same person that I was before.  I'm going to do the sings things, because what I'm doing is working, so there is no reason to get to this point and change everything.  I'm still the same person.  I'm still going to work hard every day.  That's not going to change.” – Stacy Lewis said of being Rolex Rankings No. 1.

 

Annika Sorenstam, Kraft Nabisco Championship Celebrity Pro-Am Host

MODERATOR:  We'd like to welcome Annika Sorenstam we Kraft Nabisco Championship.  Not only the first major for the LPGA this year, but the first major in championship golf this year.  I am MODERATOR, Chief communications officer for the LPGA.  I will say that one time.
           
I am joined by somebody you recognize very well.  Ten‑time major winner, three times jumping in Poppie's Pond, leaping in Poppie's Pond.  There is a photo right there in case you wanted to bring back a memory.  Annika Sorenstam is here.  Annika, thank you so much for being here.

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:  Thank you.

MODERATOR:  You have a huge role this week.  Why don't you explain what's that is like and how it all came about.

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:  Sure.  First of all, it's great to be back in the Palm Springs for the Kraft Nabisco Championship.  This is one of the premier events in our schedule, and has always been one of my favorites.  Going in the pond or not, it's always a great tournament to be part of.
           
I was approached about a year ago to be part of this event.  I said, I would love to.  They said, Well, would you like to host the celebrity pro‑am?  I said, I would love to do that.  I think the celebrity pro‑am is something that makes this tournament special.  We all know the celebrities come down to Palm Springs.  Seems to be the mecca for people that love golf.  They make the tournament the way it is through the years with Dinah Shore and her friends.
           
It's obviously an honor for me to be a part of that.  For me to come back here brings back a lot of memories.
           
MODERATOR:  Can you talk about the importance of this event on the schedule, the first major championship of the year?  What does it mean to those who are out on the range right now or on the practice putting green?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:  I think every player loves the major championships.  There's something special about it, especially an event like this that's been going on for over 40 years.  There is so much tradition.  We are in the same venue, which makes it even more special.  It's kind of like the Masters.  We all come here and remember shots that the champions have hit.  We remember the famous leaps into Poppy's Pond.
           
It's the history I think that means a lot?  You look at the trophy, at the paths on the 18th and you see all the names of the players that we all look up to and that we all try to copy one way or another.  I think it's very, very special.
           
This is the time of year we're ready for the majors.  Both the men and women have been playing somewhere around the world, and now it's time to start looking to the championships.

MODERATOR:  You are the honorary host for the celebrity pro‑am.  You are also teeing it up tomorrow.  Do you have a target number in mind?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:  59.

MODERATOR:  59?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:  We'll see after how many holes.

MODERATOR:  Do you get nervous to tee it up tomorrow or is it just all fun?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:  It's just fun.  I got some new clubs.  Actually been hitting some new Callaway stuff out on the range.  I feel ready, yeah.

MODERATOR:  We'll take questions and I we also have an announcement in just a couple moments. Questions for Annika?

Q.  Welcome back.

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:  Thank you.

Q.  Gabe tells me there is a spot open Thursday if you want to play, too.  When you first came to the tournament, seems like so many of the players that are in the tournament now maybe never had a chance to meet Dinah Shore and didn't necessarily know her from a foreign player standpoint who the tournament was or she was or the.  When you first came here, did you take a while to understand the history of it all?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:  Absolutely with, as you mentioned, the foreign aspect.  But you come here and it doesn't take long because you feel it and you see it and just being part of it with all the fans and the supporters, they love it.
           
I have had chance to play with Amy a few times, Alcott.  Just listening to her stories how this all came together, that's what makes this tournament so special.  It's got history.  It has this special feel.  The venue and the location time, that's why it's so special.
           
It's one of the tournaments you just can't wait to come around.  Now it's here, and you see the players and they're all there absorbing everything.  Like I said, the 18th is special with the grandstand and that nice wall they have of champions.
           
Again, we all remember the shots the players have hit to have won.  If you ask the players, I think in their mind we may not admit it, but we all think about, How am I going to get into this pond?  Am I diving?  Am I stumbling?  Am I jumping?  We all think about this when we come to Palm Springs.

Q.  I think this is your first time back since you left and finished second that one year.  When you step out here, what are the things that come back to you?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:  So many memories.  You know, I think this is a wonderful golf course.  I have so much respect for this golf course, and always felt like it was in good shape.  You had to really play some good golf to come out here.  Remember hours on the putting greens getting used to the speed.
           
I think this was a big food tent before.  This is where I came and had ice cream.  That was always special.

Q.  It still is.

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:  Oh, it is?  Well perfect.
           
I don't know.  Again, it's the history.  Mingling with some of the players in the locker room, you know, like I said, it's first major of the year.

Q.  How do you look at some of the young players today?  When you're out with a Lydia Ko, do you feel old or young?  Do you remember being that age and playing?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:  You know, I don't remember being 15 and playing in a major championship and winning golf tournaments.  I started playing at the age 12.  I ran into Lydia in the lunch room, and she came up to me and she was so cute.  She said, I'm Lydia Ko.  I said I know.  First of all, it said Lydia on her necklace.  I said, I've I seen you on TV.  She said, You have?  I said, Yeah.  I admire what you've achieved.
           
I don't necessarily feel younger.  I do feel experienced when I'm here.  But it's fun to try catch up with some of the players that you haven't seen in a while.  This morning I was the starter for the Legends Junior Challenge, and it was Betsy King and Kathy Whitworth, I mean, you name it.  And that was really special.
           
Then you come to the range and now you have the young ones beating ball after ball.  Brings back memories, but also the game has changed.  The faces out here have changed, but for the good.

Q.  Talk about the state of the LPGA today.

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:  First of all, it's very international, I would say.  I mean, we've seen that the last 15, 20 years.  Obviously with Se Ri Pak's success we have seen a lot players from Asia.  That's a big deal.  I would say they seem younger and a lots more professional.  Seems like more of an entourage.  Coaches, physios, you name it.
           
Bits it's stylish.  I think a lot players are stylish with colors, fashion.  They're very approachable.  They're good people, which is good for the game.

Q.  Couple of weeks ago during the media day, you were on the screen, and I wrote down one quote, which says, this is not just a game; you come out and play, which means how difficult it is for a young woman or a man or an elderly man like myself to learn to play.  What sort of difficulties did you go through before you became an accomplished golfer?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:  Well, I've tried every sport there is.  I grew up playing soccer, tennis and golf is one of the last sports I tried and one the hardest things I tried.  I think that's why I liked it so much.  Every day it changes and conditions are different.  I think that's what attracted me to the game.
           
I think as far as golf goes, it's a tough support.  It's a mental game.  It's not just about having a good swing.  You've got to think right.  You've got to have the mind in the right place.  Again, that's why I love is it so much.
           
You can go out here and just watch the players.  They're very tactical and strategic, but they're great athletes.  I think it's a combination of that that makes you play well.

MODERATOR:   The talent level so high right now on the tour.  You won Player of the Year eight times.  That battle right now for No. 1 in the world has been a really big story on the LPGA.  What's your sense of that battle, and do you wish you could come out and test yourself against those stars of the LPGA today?   Do you ever think about that?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:  I don't think about that, but I remember what it was like.  I watch it now and I think it's fun.  I think it's a fun battle.  We all tune in.  It's so close.  It's a rivalry.  Knowing Yani for a few years it's been fun to watch her.  Obviously now with Stacy Lewis playing well and getting the No. 1 spot, I think it's terrific.  It creates a little competition.  I know most of the players want to be No. 1, so they're going to work harder and look up to the leader.
           
I think it's healthy for the game.  I remember when I was in that spot I was proud of it, but it took a lot of hard work.  It's almost tougher to take stay at the top than it is to get there.  To get there, you're looking at somebody, you're following somebody's path, and you almost seem to know what to do.
           
When you're up there you're alone and you have to find your own path.  You have to be creative and innovative and think outside of the box on how to stay there ans work harder.
           
So watching Stacy now, I think she had a quote somewhere where she said, I'm just going to enjoy it and not think too much.  I think she's a good face for the LPGA.

MODERATOR:  Do you think Yani thought about it too much and that pressure is something she's glad to get rid of for a little while, like she said?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:  I think just for a little while.  I know she is very hungry.  She is a competitor and she wants to be the No. 1 player.  I think this is giving her a carrot, some motivation.  The spotlight is always hard.  She's such a sweet person.  She wants to please everybody.
           
In the end, it's hard to please herself and achieve what she really wanted to achieve.

Q.  Can you talk about everything you've done since you quote/unquote retired from golf?  Do you still feel as busy as you were when you were playing?  Some people fade away year after year in retirement, but you do so much more.  You always have.  Why that important to you, the golf related things you still do?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:  First of all, it's fun.  This is my passion.  I'm still involved in the game on very different levels.  It's been four years, which have gone by very quickly.
           
Yeah, I feel like I'm busier now than I've ever been.  It's the Annika Academy, a golf school in Orlando or my foundation, which we do junior initiatives.  We'll be talking about that in a little bit.
           
But it's the clothing, it's golf design, wine.  I mean, you mention it.  These are all passions of mine.
           
I'm not someone that would just step away and put my feet on the couch and eat some chocolate.  That's not my style.  I love to be active and be part of the game.  Like I said, it's a fun ride.  And obviously being a mom and a wife is an important role of mine.  So feel lucky that I've been able to have a career but now I can kind of do what I want.
           
It's a good thing.

MODERATOR:  Speaking of being busy and having some things to spend your time on, this is a perfect segue to talk about a major announcement we're going to make today.  You've had a lot of awards that have been given to you, but I don't know how many have been named in your honor.  We have that announcement to make today. This is the Annika Award.  Would you like to share?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:  Yeah, it's something that's going to be very, very special.  I think many of you know that there is something called a Haskins Award that has been presented to the best collegiate male golfer for 41 years.  The Haskins committee came up to us and said, Hey, how about presenting an award like that to the best female collegiate golfer?  I said, I would love to do that.  What an honor.  I remember my time at the University of Arizona.  To be honest, I didn't really know there was an award.
           
So I said, Yeah, I would love to do.  So starting this fall we're going to have an award, and it's voted by the peers, by the coaches, by the media.  They will throw in their candidates, and in the spring of 2014 will announce the Annika Award recipients.  We'll be presenting this award in the fall of '14 at an Annika collegiate event.  So we have an award and a tournament that will come in the next 12 months.
           
So I'm thrilled to be able to put my name on this and be able to recognize the best female collegiate golfer.

MODERATOR:  The Annika Foundation in conjunction with the Haskins Commission, all working together to benefit the young players.  And they are getting better and better and better.  This is something you're really going to be able to build on and maybe get some kids in school that would maybe turn pro early.  Thoughts on that?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:  Absolutely.  I think we all want to encourage young girls to play the game, to stay in the game, and develop in the game.  This is one way to do that.
           
My foundation an all about opportunities for young, aspiring junior golfers.  Like I said, I remember my time at college.  I think we should inspire the young ones to do and obviously encourage them do well and recognize the ones that do well.  I look forward to that.
           
And obviously when we have the tournament, to be able to do a little bit so more.  It's not just about having a competition.  It's about educating the players and preparing them for life on tour and be there as mentor if needed.
           
I'm really, really thrilled to be able to do this.  So glad we've got some members of the Haskins Commission here.  I want to think them for trusting me, I guess.
           
Thank you.

MODERATOR:  Let's talk a little bit about the tournament and where it will be.

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:  We're talking about putting it in central Florida.  Hopefully it would be in Orlando where I'm based.  This award will be presented by Golf Week and they're based there, too, so I think it's going to be a win‑win situation.
           
Golf Week has presented the award for all these years, so it'll be a nice tie.

MODERATOR:  And the Annika Academy has been quite a big part of your life.  You're celebrating an anniversary.

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:  We are.  Five years already.  It's gone by really quickly.  It's a boutique golf school in Orlando, Florida where I share my passion for golf and fitness.  You know, we stay quite busy.  I do clinics and have lunch with our guests.  You work with my personal coaches.  It's really more a holistic approach.
           
Again, I'm involved in the game.  I've stepped way, but I get my golf fix.

MODERATOR:  I think I've heard that before.

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:  Yeah.

MODERATOR:  There are some prizes, things you're going to do to celebrate the five‑year anniversary of the Annika Academy.  Do you want to share some of that?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:  Yes, it's the five‑year celebration presented by Callaway.  If you go to our website you can enter the sweepstakes.  We've got 84 prizes, I belive, and one of them is to play golf with me.

Terrific way for us to celebrate what we have achieved and also include our past and new guests.  So please check that out, sign up, and maybe we'll see you on the links one of those days.
 
Q.  What was your reaction to the announcement in Phoenix of Solheim assistant captain for the U.S.?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:  You know, I was pleased.  I know Laura quite well, and we have some history going back.  But I think it's going to be a nice addition with Meg Mallon and Dottie Pepper.  I really look forward that week.  It's not like any other week.  Obviously it's played every other year and it's match play.
           
There is something about the Solheim and the way that you represent your country and the friendships that you build.
           
So I think both teams are going to be very strong on every front.

MODERATOR:  That was a big win for the European side, and I know there is a lot of motivation on the American side.  You have a big challenge, your team, to try to win here in the U.S.  Thoughts on that?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:  It is a big challenge.  Europe, as you know, has not had a chance to win on U.S. soil, so that's always been the goal for every captain, I think.  Lisa Lott is a terrific leader, I think.  A lot class, a lot experience, and being a fellow Swede, I'm proud of what she has achieved.  She was one of the players that opened our eyes for the tour.  Winning the Open in '88 was a big thing for us.  So I'm glad to be able to play under her.

Q.  Tiger resumed the No. 1 spot.  Wondering if you've contacted him since he got back to No. 1 or what your friendship has been like.

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:  Well, I would say that the reaction to how he's playing, he's playing amazing the last few tournaments, especially Bay Hill.  I was out there, and he was certainly in control of the ball and his game.  It was kind of what we are used to seeing.
           
For him to regain the No. 1 spot I think was just a matter of time.  It's very healthy for the game.  Maybe it will give Rory some things to think about and step up.
           
Also I think the other guys have a chance to catch Tiger.  I have not had the chance to talk to him at all.  Since I stepped away I have been busy with some of my stuff, and he's been busy with his stuff.  Paths separate a little bit, but I do follow what he does.  I think we're all impressed with what we're seeing.

MODERATOR:  Before I let you go, I was at the event last night and there were a lot of celebrities, a big audience.  Today I was walking down to the pool and was stopped by Joe Theismann who was there last night.  He said, I need to tell you something.  You guys have a really cool thing going now with the LPGA.  I say that because I want to get your perspective of the tour.  Where do you see the tour in general?

ANNIKA SORENSTAM:  Yeah, no I think the LPGA is in a good spot.  We all know it's been a few tough years with some changes.  I'm very optimistic with what I'm seeing.  I know a lot of players, they're terrific athletes, terrific women.  The campaign that things are different out here is absolutely true.  These are approachable athletes.  And, like you said, the skill of these players and the talent is very high.
           
I've always enjoyed the international appeal obviously because I'm an international player myself.  Just opens up the game to the world and brings so many people to the game.  It comes in the Olympics in a few years.  It's a global game.  I think this is where we saw it first.


Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 1


MODERATOR:  Good afternoon, welcome to the media center at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.  It is a pleasure to be joined by the No. 1 ranked player in all of women's golf.  Stacy Lewis has just joined us, ran in here.  What have you been doing this morning?


STACY LEWIS:  I've just been practicing and had to get a quick bite to eat before I came in here.
           
It's been a relaxing day for me.

MODERATOR:  Has it been relaxing ever since you took over No. 1?  I think that's what a lot people want to know.

STACY LEWIS:  It's been chaos is what it's been.  I think with all the requests and all the attention, I expected it, but it was a little bit overwhelming.  I was glad we had a week off last week and just got away and took some time off and really just cleared my head.
           
Coming back this week I feel really relaxed.

Q.  Talk about March 18th, the day you took over No. 1.  Obviously you'd been playing good golf for quite a long time, but there is a difference between a building process and, wham, it hits you right in the face.

STACY LEWIS:  It was all of a sudden, Wham, it hit me.  Just coming off Singapore, the win there, I thought I could get to No. 1 maybe this week with a good week here.  But to come out the way I did in Phoenix and then that Saturday with everything that happened on Saturday, you know, I was more motivated for my caddie than I was for No. 1 at that point.
           
I wanted to redeem what happened on Saturday, and I really wanted to win that tournament for him.  I don't know.  The No. 1 ranking really wasn't in my head until my dad gave me a hug and said, You're No. 1 in the world.

MODERATOR:  Last year you talked about the process of trying to get to No. 1.  I know Yani Tseng had a terrific start to her season in 2012.  This year you want to validate, if you will, but you've been playing great golf.  How do you feel about the start of the year and the importance of continuing to play great golf.

STACY LEWIS:  Obviously I'm excited about it.  I wasn't really sure what to expect coming off of last year.  I kept the expectations low.  I didn't want to set the bar too high and be extremely disappointed or anything like that.
           
So I've played great.  I'm comfortable out there.  I'm comfortable being up here.  I don't know, I just feel really relaxed right now.

MODERATOR:  Questions? While they are doing that, let me ask you some statistical questions.  You are leading the tour right now in scoring average, birdies, eagles, rounds in the 60s, many different things.  Do you need all of those things this week here at the Kraft Nabisco Championship?  What's the one thing you think will stand out and determine the winner?

STACY LEWIS:  I don't think you can take a certain stat.  I think playing smart here is really what wins.  I think the greens already have the light color to them; they're going to get firm and fast.  You got to play smart.  Maybe run some shots in out of the rough.  I think that's what wins it here.

Q.  Can you talk a little bit about the process since leaving college?  Would it be hard to be No. 1 when you're a college player?  And does to take some time to become a full‑time pro once leaving to get into that mode and be a professional?

STACY LEWIS:  I think it's different for everybody.  I think some players can come out right away and be very comfortable and be successful.  But for me, it was more of a slow kind of learning process.  That's the way I had done it through junior golf, amateur golf, college golf, so I didn't really expect anything different.
           
I think all players are different.  Some people come out and love everything about the tour, love the spotlight and they're comfortable there.  I don't think I was my first few years out here.  I just had to grow into it.

MODERATOR:  You said you're comfortable now sitting right here.  Why?  What's different?

STACY LEWIS:  I don't know.  I guess I'm just more comfortable with who I am and more comfortable being in front of people.  I mean, certainly I think the kid that went to college and didn't speak unless spoken to would not be up on this stage right now.
           
It's something I've had to learn how to do just when you play good golf.

Q.  Would it be hard to juggle college and pro golf at the same time like Michelle did, for example?  Is that a pretty tough thing to handle?

STACY LEWIS:  I would think so.  I don't know.  It's tough in college I think just playing a sport in college.  It requires a lot of time management.  I mean, you certainly have to have your time away from the sport.
           
So I think you just learn how to manage yourself and your game a little bit in college.  That's something that really helped me a lot.

Q.  A lot of athletes, golfers included, don't like to talk about their goals; they keep them private.  They say, Well, yeah, that would be great someday.  You've been pretty open about the fact that since you won here your goal was to be No. 1.

STACY LEWIS:  Yes.

Q.  Why did you always feel comfortable saying that, whereas others would never say that?

STACY LEWIS:  I don't know.  I mean, I think if you can't talk about it you obviously aren't comfortable being there.  You know, I wanted to be in this position.  It's not something that I think about all the time.  I kind of put a big goal out there, and then I make many goals for myself to get there.
           
It wasn't something that teeing if up the first round I said, I want to be No. 1 in the world, because you can't do that.  It's something that I wanted to be here.  If you're comfortable talking about it, then I think you're comfortable being there.

Q.  Describe the difference in your game from a ball striking and putting perspective in the two years since you've won here?  Your game then and now, how much different is it?

STACY LEWIS:  Ball striking‑wise it's not a lot different.  We've just been working on little things with my swing.  I hit it good then and still hitting it pretty good now.
           
I think the biggest difference in my putter.  I've really gotten comfortable with it, especially over the last year.  Reading greens better, better speed, and just seeing more putts go in.  That certainly helps the confidence level.

Q.  Other than obviously playing good golf, what do you think it'll take for you to maintain this No. 1 world ranking?  Also, I wanted to know what you think about Annika having stayed there for so long?  Is there anything you've taken from her career and tried to emulate?

STACY LEWIS:  Well, I think the first question I was asked when I became No. 1 is, How long are you going to stay there?  I can't even think about that.
           
There are so many things that I can't control.  I can't control how Yani plays, how Inbee Park plays.  If they go out and play better than me, then I lose the No. 1 ranking.  If I go out there and take care of myself, I'll be at that No. 1 ranking.
           
So I just have to keep worrying about myself and keep doing what I'm doing.  Talking to my mom, I said, I'm going to be the same person that I was before.  I'm going to do the sings things, because what I'm doing is working, so there is no reason to get to this point and change everything.  I'm still the same person.  I'm still going to work hard every day.  That's not going to change.
           
As far as I guess the Annika part, I think it's pretty amazing.  You look at how long Annika, Lorena, Tiger, how long they stayed that good, and it's hard.  It's hard to play whenever body expects to you play well and expects you to be up on the leaderboard.
           
But I think I learned a lot from watching Yani over the last year.  She had a couple bad weeks and let it become a burden of staying at No. 1.  I'm just going to have fun with it.  I am going to play bad some weeks and good some weeks, but I'll have fun doing it.

MODERATOR:  Have you spent time talking to Yani or anybody else that's helped you the most with where you are.

STACY LEWIS:  Truthfully, I haven't talked about it much.  It's a goal, but it's not something we talk about all the time.  More just kind of amongst ‑‑ kind of with my coach.  We're doing the same things.  We're just going to keep doing what we're doing, because what we're doing is working.

Q.  You had the announcement with the logo on your hat.  Your shirt is getting full by the way.  Some covers of magazines, bug article in Sports Illustrated.  The idea of representing, by that I mean representing the LPGA, No. 1, women's golf, is that difficult?  Do you think about that quite often?

STACY LEWIS:  I don't think about it, but do I realize that being in the position I'm in that I am representing the tour.  I'm representing my sponsors.  I think the tour right now for American golf, we need a face right now.  We need people to kind of get aboard and come out and watch us play and see what we have out here.
           
I think there are a lot of young Americans playing really good golf right now that people don't know about.  I think as a tour we're moving in the right direction.
           
I'm really excited to hopefully kind of start it.

Q.  And who are some of the young Americans that you've noticed and this we should pay attention to?

STACY LEWIS:  Jessica Korda.  I think she finished inside the top 20 almost every week.

MODERATOR:  This year.

STACY LEWIS:  This year.  Gerina Piller has played great lately.  Danielle Kang.  Just a lot of names that I don't think people know.  Wouldn't be surprised if they're up there this week.

Q.  I know you said you're more comfortable up here now.  Last night you were in heels and a pretty dress.  Are you comfortable in those type of situations now too, doing more the entertaining type thing?

STACY LEWIS:  That's probably the place I'm least comfortable because it's not my style at all.  I'm more comfortable in jeans, a T‑shirt, and flip flops.  I'm getting used to it.
           
Having some helps from my sisters, that definitely that helps the process a little bit.  But I realize it's part of what makes this tour successful and part of the deal when you get to the top.  You kind of have to do it.
           
Just another thing I'll have to get comfortable with.

Q.  Did your sisters take you shopping?

STACY LEWIS:  I actually picked that dress out all by myself.  They should be pretty impressed with that.

Q.  I know you visited your team and watched them play last week.  A lot a lot players on their off week don't go to another state to watch their college team play.  Talk about that and your dedication to Arkansas and their reaction to you being there.

STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, last week I went to Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Arkansas team was playing a college tournament there.  I try to get out to one tournament a year just to show my support for the girls, for them.
           
They ask me a ton questions.  What do you do after you make two bogeys in a row?  Just golf questions like that just for them to see I'm just Stacy.  I'm not anything different to them.  They love having me there.  I think they played their round, and I think the other teams were kind of talking about how cool it was I was there.
           
I think they got more excited about it as the other girls talked about it because they just know me as Stacy.
           
It is pretty cool being there, to come back.  I talked to a lot of the coaches there and I said, We need to develop these players better coming out of college and get them more prepared for the tour.
           
So that was part of me going there, is to show them ‑‑ be able to show them how it can be done, and that they don't have to turn pro at 18 or 20.  They can finish school, get a degree, and then come out and be successful, too.

Q.  You said you haven't talked to your colleagues out here much about the world No. 1 ranking.  Has anybody done anything different to you, whether it's your family or fans on Twitter?  Do they call you No. 1 now or have a new nickname for you?

STACY LEWIS:  Not really.  I don't know.  Over the least last few weeks I've gotten a lot of congratulations on getting to No. 1 and things like that.  At Kia, you don't want to get to a point where you don't want to hear it anymore, but golf is a sport where you're only as good as your last day, your last round.
           
I was playing at Kia and concerned about what I was doing in that tournament, and I had forgotten about the No. 1 ranking and people were talking about it.
           
Now I have to work twice as hard to stay there, so you enjoy it for a second and kind of move on.

MODERATOR:  Fun moments with the Mike Wan bobble head doll on Twitter.

STACY LEWIS:  I did.

MODERATOR:  I don't think a lot people know about that side of the you.  What does drive Stacy Lewis outside of the game?  What do you do for fun?

STACY LEWIS:  I mean, I'm very relaxed.  I like having fun, screwing around.  I actually sent out a Tweet ‑‑ I tweeted, Tiger, congrats.  Welcome back to No. 1.  Apparently in 100 and whatever characters people couldn't find the humor in that.  Some people found the humor and some didn't.
           
Just trying to show that side of me, that I joke around.  I'm not all that serious all the time off the course.  The tournament in Phoenix gave me that bobble head, so I was like, We've got to go have some fun with it.

MODERATOR:  And you put it in a lot interesting places.  Is it in your golf bag this week?

STACY LEWIS:  No.  It didn't make the trip this week.

Q.  Obviously this place is very special to you.  Talk about why it's so special and maybe it suits you.

STACY LEWIS:  Well, I love this golf course more than anything.  I love playing here.  The walk up to 18 is the best walk in golf, I think.  You're in the last few groups on the weekend, it's the coolest place to be.
           
It's eery coming back here and seeing your name on the bridge and stuff like that.
           
I don't know.  I don't know why I love it so much.  I played well here as an amateur, and since then fell in love with the place.

MODERATOR:  I don't think a lot of people know the amount of time you're putting in on the tour.  There are at least two committees that I know of.  You share a lot of ideas about where you would like to see the tour go.  Is that a positive distraction for you or something you feel like you need to take ownership of?

STACY LEWIS:  I think it's something that I've been doing since I came out on tour.  It's not anything that's really changed over the last few years.  I think at the Founders it really kind of hit me, what those ladies did.
           
They did so many more things than we have to do right now to get this tour up and running.  For me to go to a dinner for an hour and talk about the tour and how to make it better doesn't seem like that big of a sacrifice to me.
           
I want the tour to be good and us to get better.  We have a great product that people don't know about, and I think we got to to get it going in the right direction.

Q.  Does Tiger respond to your Tweet and have you ever met him?

STACY LEWIS:  He didn't respond to it, but we always practice out of the same course in Florida.  I haven't seen him since I won ‑‑ or since he won ‑‑ but I did see him when he won in Torrey, and I told him, Congrats.  He just said smiled and said,
I'm just trying to keep up with you.  It was kind of a cool moment.

Q.  Now that you're on a bigger stage, I'm sure more people who don't know your story, the back story and the surgery, you'll be retelling that again.  What is that like for you?  Do you like retelling that story?  Do you like inspiring people in that way or does to get old sometimes?

STACY LEWIS:  I think when I first came out on tour I had already kind of told it a lot.  I was getting tired of telling it.  I realize now if one more person hears my story that didn't hear it before, then I need to tell it.
I realize I'm in a position that there are a lot of people that look up to me, a lot little kids wearing back braces watching what I'm doing.  I don't mind telling the story.  It does get monotonous at times, but if one more person is inspired by it, it's worth it:

Q.  There is a 15‑year‑old playing behind you.  What do you expect out of Lydia Ko this week coming to a major?  She's won three times already at 15.  What do you think she can do here?

STACY LEWIS:  I think she's kind of ‑‑ ignorance is bliss.  I don't think she realizes how good she is, and I expect her to come out and play really good.  She probably doesn't even really realize it's major or a big event.  Just kind of the way she is.  She's just very calm and relaxed.  Probably play pretty well in week.

MODERATOR:  Obviously this is a big tournament for you.  Five majors on the schedule this your, Solheim Cup.  You talked about No. 1 and the goal to get there and now that you're there. Let's say 15 years from now you leave the game.  You mentioned the founders.  What is the biggest thing Stacy Lewis can do for women's golf?

STACY LEWIS:  I want more successful young Americans coming up behind me.  If there are kids that are going to school and getting their degrees and graduating and then coming out here and being successful, then I think I did a good thing.


Paula Creamer, Rolex Rankings No. 10

MODERATOR:  Thank you for joining us here in the media center.  I'm joined now by Paula Creamer.  (System not switched on.) Let's talk about the car accident.  How are you?  The very next week you're playing and contending.  Was that base you were relaxed because you had no expectations?  Did you surprise yourself?

PAULA CREAMER:  You know, I'm a person that if I'm literally not on my death bed then I will be playing golf.  I've always been that way.  Takes a lot for me to sit out.  Takes a lot for me to withdraw from anything.
           
I'm a fighter.  I asked the doctors and the physio lady that was there, am I doing any harm to my body going out and playing?  They said, No, not really.  I said, Okay.  That's my green light and here we go.
           
I didn't see the golf course.  I didn't play it.  I called on my caddie the whole time.  I guess it kind of proved a couple points to me when I did that.

MODERATOR:  Talk about this week and how you're feeling with your game and the importance of this event to you.  You obviously won a major championship, and another opportunity to win this one.

PAULA CREAMER:  I do.  I feel great.  I love coming here.  I have a lot of family and friends that come out.  And watch the tradition and everything behind this event, it's one of the best.  That's why it's been around for so long.
           
Just being able to come to a golf course that we played so many times, the condition is perfect.  I don't think I've seen it this good in a long time.  The greens are starting to firm up; they're getting fast.  It'll be a good weekend.

Q.  What do you need to do that's a little different to improve the results you've had in this tournament?  You've played well but never really been there on Sunday afternoon.

PAULA CREAMER:  My biggest thing for me, and I've looked over the past ‑‑ jeez, this is my ninth one as a professional, and I played it as an amateur as well.  I have to just do better at par‑5s.  I have not really taken advantage that.  I'm a great iron player.  I play well on the par‑4s, the par‑3s.  I need to do a little bit better on the par‑5s.
           
I think that'll help a lot.  This golf course is all about thinking and being smart, where to be a little bit more aggressive in spots out there, and just really trusting lines on putts.
           
This is my ninth one as a professional.  You get a lot of the same putts over and over again because of where the pin placements are.  Just trust that.  You know, all the stuff that has the effect on the greens, it's definitely there and you have to be aware of it.

Q.  I assume that on the par‑5s, 2 and 11, are those the par‑5s that you even think about going for in two, or are you wedging them in there?

PAULA CREAMER:  That's a lot of it, is the pin placements, where they're at, where you're at.  Sometimes on normal golf courses, 30, 40 yards short is fine.  You have a good shot is.
           
But these greens are so firm and bouncy you're sometimes in no‑man's land with little pitches.  I've put myself there, so there are times I'm laying up far back if I can't go for it, or I am going to try and get into the bunker and use my short game.
           
This last week I worked so hard on the wedges and short game because of that very reason, for the par‑5s.

MODERATOR:  I know you were in the back during Stacy's press conference, who is now No. 1 in the world.  I know that's a goal of yours.  Thoughts of an American being on top on this tour.

PAULA CREAMER:  I think it's great.  Stacy is great player and a fighter.  I like grinders.  Juli Inkster is my role model.  I like people that grind and are never going to quit.  She's raising the bar for golf.  It was only a matter of time when an American was going to step up.
           
She's deserved it.  It's hard because obviously that where I want be.  I want be the No. 1 American, the No. 1 player in the world.  At the same time, I have to take care of my own business.  She's making me work harder.

Q.  How many people can win this week?

PAULA CREAMER:  Hmmm...

Q.  And talk about the growing depth of the tour.

PAULA CREAMER:  Gosh, this week it's up for anybody.  It's a tournament where you can be right out in the lead the first couple days, and when the weekend hits you never see the leader.
           
It's a golf course that really doesn't fit one person's game.  You can be long, and some of the holes it doesn't really matter.  I think it's more about your short irons.  You're obviously making putts, things like that, but it's harder to say five players that are going to be in contention just because of the way the golf course is.
           
And the second question?

Q.  The depth of the tour right now.

PAULA CREAMER:  It's growing.  I think this is one of our best schedules we've had for a while.  We're able to be in the States more often and play here.  Just being able to play and have opportunities to come out here has changed so much.  I think younger girls are taking advantage of that and seeing what it's like and being able to come out here.

MODERATOR:  You've got nine victories and that major championship.  It has been a little while, probably impatience for you.  You've talked about that before.  Is that as much about Paula Creamer and her game or the depth of the tour and how much more difficult it may be to win out here?

PAULA CREAMER:  No, that's 100% me, I think.  I've gone through a lot the last two years just recovering from surgery, recovering from a lot of different things.
           
I think that my body is actually where it should be right now.  You know, it's hard when you have a major surgery and then to come back right away, especially with the expectations and the goals that I have.  I think I might've pushed myself a little bit too hard, too fast.  It's a learning experience.
           
Do I wish I could be back in time in the last year and have won?  100%, yes.  It'll come.  Sooner hopefully rather than later.  I have to really continue what my coach and I have been working on and not push too hard.

MODERATOR:  That leap into Poppy's Pond, I'm sure you thought about that a few times.  Been some good and some mediocre jumps.  Have you played that out in your mind?  Do you have a springboard thing planned?


PAULA CREAMER:  I don't want to get too far ahead of myself, but obviously it's very easy to think about it.  You talk about it every day.  I don't think I would be very graceful.  I think I would go for a cannonball.  That would be a great moment.  Hopefully that will come one day.

Na Yeon Choi, Rolex Rankings No. 3

MODERATOR:  Once again here in the media center at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.  I'm joined by the No. 3 ranked player in women's golfer, the Rolex women's world rankings, Na Yeon Choi is here.  Thank you so much for being here.


NA YEON CHOI:  Thank you.

MODERATOR:  Talk to me about your preparation for this event.  You've been on the west coast for a while and you did not go back to Orlando, right?  You've been out here practicing?

NA YEON CHOI:  Yeah, I came here last Thursday, and then I played the course on Friday and Sunday actually.  I feel like I'm ready to play tournament.  My coach is here and we had a good working on it.  I really have confidence, and I'm ready for the first major.

MODERATOR:  You have one major already, right?

NA YEON CHOI:  Yes.

MODERATOR:  You don't have this major yet.  This requires jumping into a pond, so I want to ask you this question right away because anybody that knows much about you knows you had a fear in your life of swimming and water.  If you see all the pictures we've got around us, you have to jump into the pond.  Are you okay with that?

NA YEON CHOI:  I don't know.  Actually, I talked to my caddie and caddie said like, Don't worry about that.  After you win, then I will holding you and walk to the water and jumping into the water.  You don't have to worrying about the swimming.
           
Last year my caddie had like arm swing whole round on Sunday just in case.  I hope good results come.

MODERATOR:  We could maybe throw a raft out there.  You had quite a year last year.  You not only won that major championship, but you also won the CME Group Titleholders at the end of the year.  Those are the two biggest checks awarded on the tour last year.  That was very smart, winning the two big ones.  What did that do for you?  I know you've won seven times and had great success.  What did last year do for you?

NA YEON CHOI:  Well, I won the first major tournament, and it feels like the monkey is off my back, you know.
           
Also, I got a lot of pressure because a lot of people expect me to play well again, especially major tournament.  A lot people call me like major champion.  Sometimes I got like a lot of pressure, but also I got good confidence from there, and honor.
           
I mean, I try hard on major tournament, but I can't control about the result.  I know what I can control, so the only thing I focus on is that.  I am really looking forward this week, yeah.

MODERATOR:  We'll take some questions in just a minute.  When you see No. 3 in the world, and you talked about this last year at the Titleholders about wanting to be No. 1.  When you won the major and went home, tell the story again about what it was like in your home town and what it's like to be such a recognizable person now.

NA YEON CHOI:  I think the main thing is Se Ri won long time ago, and then we just came back to there.  And then another ‑‑ Se Ri won the tournament, I think when she won U.S. Open I think a lot of Korean people got good momentum from there and good vibes from there.
           
So I think I tried to help them remind that feeling.  So I think that's a really big thing to me.

MODERATOR:  Do you feel a lot of pressure in your home country?

NA YEON CHOI:  A little bit, because they want me to play well, like all expectation.  But I can't control about that.  That means they support me a lot, so I try to accept that.

Q.  You played pretty well here.  You finished a couple times in the top 10.  What do you like about the golf course in particular?

NA YEON CHOI:  I think this course is very challenging golf course, and also I got good memories here.  When I was little kid I play with two legend golfers on Sunday.  I play with Annika Sorenstam and Karrie Webb on Sunday, and I still remember that feeling.
           
When I check my pairing on Saturday, I couldn't believe how I play with them.  But first hole on Sunday, the starter announce their name so long because they won a lot tournaments and both Hall of Fame member.
           
But when they announce my name like 2008, from South Korea, Na Yeon Choi, a lot people still (indiscernible)  a lot and I got really good vibes from there.  I'm so excited.
           
And then after the round Annika caddie gave me good compliments.  Yeah, I was so happy.  I still remember that feeling.

MODERATOR:  The tour right now with the No. 1 player being an American, have you spoken to Yani since she is no longer No. 1 about what she's felt like since then and how much do you think about being No. 1 in the world?

NA YEON CHOI:  Well, actually I haven't talked to Yani about golf much.  I actually talk about like the other things.
           
But I thinking she going to play well again because she don't have much pressure right now.  I think she has a lot of good ability to play well.  I think she going to come back very soon.

MODERATOR:  And Stacy?  How do you feel about her right now?  She is very tough to beat

NA YEON CHOI:  Yeah, she is very good player.  I play with her like four, five times already in this year.  She hit very far and she's good putter and I learn many things from her.  When I play with her and when she had a birdie chance or some chance, she always make it.  I think I learned many things from that.

Q.  I just want to follow up, what did Karrie Webb say to you?

NA YEON CHOI:  Karrie?

Q.  Karrie Webb, yeah.

NA YEON CHOI:  I said Annika caddie.  He gave me some compliment.  I was only 20 and he said, You're a good player.  Keep doing what you're doing.  Yeah.

MODERATOR:  Talk about where this game is right now for you, the depth of the tour.  That question was asked earlier in here about how tough it is to win out here.  Clearly you're one of the best players if all of women's golf, but it's getting more and more difficult to win.  How do you approach that?

NA YEON CHOI:  It's getting difficult because a lot of players playing so well, especially a lot of Korean players playing well these days, and especially Stacy playing well.
            But it's kind of like motivate each other.  You know, if I see Stacy win some tournament I feel like I can do it, too, so it's kind of like motivate each other and trying to work hard.

MODERATOR:  You were moving into a new house, right, in Orlando?

NA YEON CHOI:  Yeah, I move to Kings Point.

MODERATOR:  How is that working out?  Have you bought a lot of furniture?  Good decorator?

NA YEON CHOI:  Actually I hired the home designer and she did many things already.  I moved to Orlando end of the December, but the already to live in there.
           
So, yeah, January third I move to new house, and then I practice and then I spent a lot of time with the family and play golf with my family, too.  That was the first time I play with my family.
           
I had really good time last wintertime.

MODERATOR:  What's the most expensive thing or the favorite thing you put in your house so far?  I know you hired a designer, but you had to pick some things out.

NA YEON CHOI:  Probably my bed in my room.  I can remote control for massage from my bed.
           
MODERATOR:  A remote control for the bed.  I like, that.  That's good.I want to ask you about something.  We're going to make a big donation here.  I think it's very safe to say that you love to give back to the game.  Last year on the media day in Toledo you and I spent some time at the Boys & Girls Club in Toledo.  That made a big impression on you.  Last year when you won the U.S. Women's Open, you wanted to find a way to give back.
Tell us a little bit about what you're about to do here today.

NA YEON CHOI:  Actually, I started to donate in 2005 when I just turned pro in Korea.  I was 17 years old, and I promised my dad when I earn money I would like to give back to them.  Because when I was young, my family didn't have much money for playing golf at the moment, so many good people helped me for playing golf.
           
I just give to USGA junior golf, better environment for playing golf.  That's why I donated twice.  After the U.S. Open Sheboygan gave me a lot of good memories from there.  A lot people were supporting me a lot.
           
Also I went to Boys & Girls Club in Toledo, and I tried teach kids for playing golf and they love it.  I got good vibes from there.  I just think right away, decide right a way I want to try to help them.  That's why I choose Boys & Girls Club.

MODERATOR:  Meghan from the LPGA has got something for you.  I'll let her give it to you, and you can tell us what it is.  It's pretty large.  You can only keep it in your car so long.  We'll let you talk about that.
This is $30,000, right?

NA YEON CHOI:  Yeah, $30,000.

MODERATOR:  To the Boys & Girls Club of Sheboygan.  Some folks want to come up here.  This is Bob from the Boys & Girls Club.  (Check was exchanged.)
Thank you all for coming.  Before I let you go though, the important of where you are and this victory that could come your way soon in a major like this, I know you got one already, but what this event would mean for you at the beginning of the year, the battle for No. 1.

NA YEON CHOI:  I think this is one the favorite tournament for me.  I know this tournament has a really long history.  If you look back, only two Korean player win like over 40 years, so I would like to join with them.
           
I mean, if I win this tournament just the beginning of the season, so should get good confidence from this week.  But I know I can't control about that.  I just talked to my mental coach like 10 minutes ago.  These days I hit very well, but it's hard to focus on the course I think because sometimes I think too much being No. 1.
           
So I try to, you know, aspire, reach my goal, or what is my daily goal and try to stay with that.


I.K. Kim, Rolex Rankings No. 16

MODERATOR:  We'd like to welcome three‑time LPGA Tour winner, I.K. Kim, into the media center here at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.  What have you been doing today?  Busy out practicing?

I.K. KIM:  Little bit of practice; little bit of eating, walking, like everybody does.  How you guys doing?  Good.

MODERATOR:  You've got a smile on your face.  You entered this week fifth on the Money List.  That shows signs of a good season.  I think people remember you had a close call very recently.  Tell us where your game is and reflections on this particular opportunity.

I.K. KIM:  I feel really exciting.  This year has been ‑‑ I can't believe it's already April.  It went really fast.  I had a great time in Asia.  I love those tournaments.  And Phoenix.
           
Last week at home, I mean, I got to stay at home and sleeping in my own bed.  You know, no complaint.

MODERATOR:  You finished 13th at RR Donnelley, second at the Kia Classic.  Thoughts on the Kia specifically and the opportunity to win there.

I.K. KIM:  You know, I was so bummed that I wouldn't get to drive that Kia Cadenza.  Other than that, I had so much fun, you know.  I played well and I had fun, and all my friends and family was there.
           
Yeah, it was interesting that night, wasn't it?

MODERATOR:  Specifically, yes.  How did you feel about the finish?

I.K. KIM:  I feel good.  I feel like my game is getting better.  There is always room to grow, but I feel like it's improving every week.  It's all I've been asking, so, yeah.

MODERATOR:  We'll take some questions.  Specific to the majors, I.K., 11 top‑ten championships and you haven't quite gotten to the winner's circle just yet.  I think everybody in this room knows about what happened last year.  I applaud you for saying, yes, absolutely I'll do a news conference and talk about it.  You did the same thing last year after it ended. A year removed from that year last year where you had the chance it win, what are your thoughts?

I.K. KIM:  First of all, yes, I've been in contention, I can't believe, 11 times.  It's exciting.  I love major championships because of the history.  We get spoiled like coming out here and playing in perfect conditions.
           
That's what I love about playing majors and being as a professional golfer.  Sometimes it's not easy because whole world is looking at you and see your results and things like that.
           
But, yeah, I learned a lot.  I think last year was big turning point of my life of learning and what's really important.  It just gave me different view of it.
           
Well, so, look back, it was tough to handle at first, but I think it's important not only to the viewers and the people, but to let other people, younger generation, to know that it's not always going to be glorious and like victory.
           
Life is not about winning or losing.  When you're 80 and look back, you're not going to remember, Oh, I should have make that putt.  I mean, when you're 80, it's more about how much you have fun and enjoy your life.
           
Yeah, that's how I look at it.

MODERATOR:  You stood there for an hour or more at the end of the event last year answering every question and said, No problem.  Was that something you felt look you needed to?  How did you look at the way that finished?


I.K. KIM:  Just answering your question about answering questions and interviewing after, if I won the tournament I would have done it.  If I finished second place, I need to do it as well.  Not always when you're winning the tournament.  People want to hear the winning stories and all the things.  I mean, that's what it is.
           
But finishing second, third, whatever you finish, I don't think your attitude needs to change about talking to people.
           
So...

Q.  Has a week or day gone by when somebody hasn't talked about that putt?

I.K. KIM:  No.  My coach said there is big elephant sitting right here that you could not see it ‑‑  or I guess you could see it.
           
Yeah, I get the question all the time.  I can't really control what other people think or what they want to ask.  I can't really change their mind.  I can't really explain what had happened and what I learned.
           
But I can control my thoughts.  I just know there are so many people supporting me no matter what I do.  I really appreciate that.  I get criticized for that putt.  That's what they think and believe, so I don't really...

Q.  Seemed like in the weeks after there were a lot of people who did give you a lot of support.  It was more like if anybody was going to miss the putt it should be you because you could handle it.  Did you feel a lot of support from fellow players at that point?

I.K. KIM:  Yes, I still get all the time.  Yeah, now I know who is a true friend, I guess.  But, well, everybody on the tour, maybe not in front of so many people, are missing short putts.  All the golfers have missed that putt.  It doesn't feel good or great, but it happens.
           
Nothing you can control.  Even Stephen Hawking said in the time travel you cannot go back and do things backwards again, so you just got to live today.  We're human.  We remember things good or bad.  You sometimes live in that memory, and I don't want to be that person.
           
I choose it and everybody can choose their own story or life.

Q.  I was talking to your mental coach because I know you sought out the advice of them.  They said that you were kind of frustrated that you weren't being asked the right questions about this.  What did you learn from this whole experience about yourself, and what do you want us to know about it, about the missed putt?

I.K. KIM:  Well, I don't know.  What's the question about?  Like what you feel about the whole thing last year?

Q.  Yeah.  You've learned a lot from this.  You're a deep thinker, they're but you're getting shallow questions.  What are the questions we should be asking you in terms of what you've learned?

I.K. KIM:  I just think that this game really teaches a lot, you know.  I'm sure there are people struggling right now.  You know, I don't know, some people are dying from hunger, and you don't see that in everyday life.
           
There are people dying and everything is happening.  So some people think it's really tough and feel sorry for what happened.  I just think that it doesn't matter what happens.  What matters is what you do after, how you're going to come back, and what you're going to do the next time.
           
You know what I mean?
           
So I think what I'm saying is sometimes you got to just pick yourself up and be tough and just move on.  Don't really feel sorry for yourself, because it's life.  You have to be happy and enjoy what you have is I think what I've learned.
           
A lot of times that I look and think about results and I want to win this and that and be better, that's great, but I think you either live life happy or unhappy.

Q.  (No microphone.)

I.K. KIM:  I don't know what that means either.  It can be anything.  I just want to be who I am.  I can't be Annika Sorenstam.  I'm just who I am, and I just got to accept it.

MODERATOR:  Does it make the next victory that comes your way ‑ you've got three right now ‑  even more important to you?  Are you more motivated than ever to get that next win now?

I.K. KIM:  Yeah.  It'll be fun to win the tournament.  I wouldn't be here if I don't want to win the tournament.  I'm happy where I'm at.  If I win the tournament, great; if not, I'm still going to keep playing, so...

MODERATOR:  Two questions:  Your parents and Tiger Woods are the people that most influenced your career according to the bio information that you put out in the LPGA player guide.  Talk about the impact of Tiger in your professional career.  What did he do?  How did he inspire you?

I.K. KIM:  Has he inspired you too or he hasn't?

MODERATOR:  I think he's inspired a lot of golfers.

I.K. KIM:  Yes.

MODERATOR:  So was it when you watched him win the Masters in '97?  What did he do specifically to get you motivated?  Just watching him?

I.K. KIM:  Yes.  Just fascinating to watch him.  Because you do it all the time and other people watch and other people really make it happen.  It's fascinating watch.  He inspired a lot different people, I think.
           
Me, as a kid, I watch him play on TV and I read a lot of different books ‑‑ even when I was in Korea.  I thank all the TV industry that I could watch TV and be inspired and I'm here.
           
But not only Tiger Woods.  I get inspired every day talking to you or doing these things or meeting different people.  I think that's really fortunate playing golf.  I get to meet a lot of people.  It just shapes my life.

MODERATOR:  You're also a spokesperson for the Special Olympics.  Share some stories about what that means to you.

I.K. KIM:  Wow, I don't know where to start.  Just makes me speechless when I work with Special Olympic athletes, their dedication and their ‑‑ it's just ‑‑ all I'm really asking people is to just be aware.  Because I get the opportunity all the time, but when you have disabilities, sometimes people judge you as a disables person.
           
But I never seen them crying or angry.  They're always happy and they always give a hug.  They're so supportive.  They don't judge you as a golfer.  They don't care I.K. Kim or whoever comes.  They treat you as a person.  I want them to live in the community as who they are.

MODERATOR:  Questions?  Anybody else?  Last thing:  You thought about the leap into the pond?

I.K. KIM:  I can see it.

MODERATOR:  You got a robe ready?  I think this could be a good week for you.

I.K. KIM:  I don't know.  I have an idea if I win.  I think it'll be fun.  I don't know how I'm going to jump it, but I have some funny ideas.  So I hope that I get to win just for doing that.

 

 

 

Topics: Notes and Interviews, Kraft Nabisco Championship, Creamer, Paula, Lewis, Stacy, Sorenstam, Annika, Choi, Na Yeon, Kim, I K [+]

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