LPGA LOTTE Championship First-round Notes and Interviews

LPGA LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf
Ko Olina Golf Club
Kapolei, Oahu, Hawaii

First-round Notes and Interviews
April 17, 2013

Ariya Jutanugarn -8, Rolex Rankings No. 35
Suzann Pettersen -7, Rolex Rankings No. 6
Hyo Joo Kim -6, Rolex Rankings No. 47

Beatriz Recari -5, Rolex Rankings No. 25
Stacy Lewis -5, Rolex Rankings No. 2

Rebecca Lee-Bentham -5, Rolex Rankings No. 380


Wednesday’s First-round Recap

Seventeen-year-old Ariya Jutanugarn fired an 8-under 64 on Wednesday to take the first-round lead at the LPGA LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf. Jutanugarn made seven birdies, one eagle and one bogey en route to tying the tournament record of 64. The Thailand native leads Rolex Rankings No. 6 Suzann Pettersen and 2011 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Hee Kyung Seo by one shot after both fired rounds of 65 at Ko Olina Golf Club in Kapolei, Hawaii.

“I have like really good front nine, but I just want to like make more birdies because my record is 8‑under, so I want to be lower,” said Jutanugarn, who shot 30 on the front nine. “When I have bogey on No. 10 I feel not very confident with my putting.  So when I have eagle [on the 14th], it make me like more confidence.”

Jutanugarn is a rookie on the Ladies European Tour and recently won her first professional event on the LET in Morrocco. She earned one of the final two spots in this week’s event by winning the Sunday qualifier with a score of 68. The youngster is no stranger to LPGA fans, as she came within one hole of capturing a victory at the Honda LPGA Thailand back in February. Jutanugarn made a triple-bogey on the 72nd hole to lose to Inbee Park in her home country by one stroke.

Jutanugarn set the pace for the field Wednesday but on a day when the winds were blowing far less than is typical in Hawaii, many players were able to take advantage of the favorable scoring conditions. A total of 77 players finished under par in Wednesday’s opening round and there were 15 players who shot 68-or-lower.

“A bit unusual wind [for here],” Pettersen said of the winds which blew at about 3-5 mph early in the day. “I mean, it's very playable.  The wind kind of changed a little bit on the back, on our front nine, which was the back nine, which makes actually the two par‑5s on the back reachable.”

Newly crowned Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park fired a 2-under 70 and sits six shots back of the leader, Jutanugarn. The two other players who have an opportunity to take over No. 1 this week, Stacy Lewis and Yani Tseng, shot rounds of 67 and 71 respectively on Wednesday. Tseng must win this week to have any shot of regaining the No. 1 ranking which she held for 109 consecutive weeks prior to Lewis taking it over on March 18. Lewis, who lost the top spot on Monday to Park, must finish at least sixth or better to have a chance at moving up a spot in the rankings and she would automatically take over the No. 1 spot with a victory this week.

“I think it's good for the Tour when players are going back and forth and creating scenarios of if so‑and‑so wins they could be No. 1.  I like that,” Lewis said. “I don't want to say it's easier, but it's fun now.  You're checking what Yani is doing, you're checking what Inbee is doing.  I think it's a good thing for the Tour.”

 

Youth rules: One of the hottest groupings on the golf course Wednesday was the trio of teenagers – 15-year-old Lydia Ko and 17-year-olds Hyo Joo Kim and Ariya Jutanugarn. The grouping combined to go 16-under-par in the first round with Jutanugarn leading the pack with her 8-under 64 while Kim followed with a 6-under 66 and Ko shot a 2-under 70..

None of the three players are currently LPGA members but they’ve all made a mark already on Tour. Ko became the youngest winner in LPGA history at the 2012 CN Canadian Women’s Open in Vancouver. She also finished third this year in Australia. Kim drew attention last July when as an amateur, she finished tied for fourth at the Evian Masters. Since then, Kim has turned pro and has won once as a member of the KLPGA Tour. She’s currently ranked second on the KLPGA Money List and first in their Volvik Player of the Year race. And then there’s Jutanugarn who has already come close to winning on the LPGA Tour in Thailand.

So just how young was this grouping? The combined ages of the three players (49) is less than the age of the oldest competitor in the field, Juli Inkster, who is 52 years old.

For the three players, the grouping was certainly one that they enjoyed.

“I feel like it's very fun today because everybody are young and they so good,” Jutanugarn said. “It's very fun because we are friends.  I play with them before.”

 

Hey, I’ve got some new shoes on! Suzann Pettersen has been playing some good golf of late but perhaps she had a little extra help with her game on Wednesday thanks to some new kicks she was wearing.

Pettersen, who made nine birdies and two bogeys in her round of 65 on Wednesday, has been practicing at home with a new pair of the Nike shoes, which haven’t been released to the public yet. But this week marks the first time that she’s been able to wear them in competition.

“That's all I've been playing with over the last few months,” Pettersen said of the shoes. “I got the green light to put them on in a tournament this week.  Feels like I'm right at home.  Very, very good shoes.  It's the female version of the Tiger Woods shoes.  They're very comfortable. I must say I actually feel the greens a lot better because the foot is fitting a lot better in the shoe.  Very, very happy with that.”

 

Iron clad nickname: Beatriz Recari has become known recently as the “Iron Woman” of the LPGA Tour. It’s a nickname that Recari said a fellow player and a good friend of hers gave her and one that has stuck.

Recari made her 39th consecutive cut at the Kraft Nabisco Championship two weeks ago and has three top 10 finishes so far this year. She’s been a model of consistency during that stretch without a missed cut and her streak of playing in 58 straight events on the LPGA Tour is just another example of why she’s earned her new nickname.

“I kind of adopted it,” Recari said of the ‘Iron Woman’ moniker. “I thought it was a nice nickname.  I now have to keep it up.  You know, I have to keep up the consistency. So it's a good nickname.  It's funny, because in Spanish media they translated it so they thought they called me iron woman for other reasons, which I'm not going to get into.

“ I mean, it started really just as a joke.  You know, all I care about is what it means, and that is that consistency that I have right now and that I worked so hard to achieve.  I just, like I said, have to keep it up now.”

Recari, who captured her second career victory at the Kia Classic last month, has put herself in a strong position to make this year’s European Solheim Cup Team. Recari was one of the final players left off the 2011 Solheim Cup winning European Team and that omission seems to have motivated Recari to play even better golf in the time since then.

“I could see the disappointment of not playing on the European team,” Suzann Pettersen said of Recari, who was in her grouping on Wednesday. “I think she almost deserved a spot at that time. Taking that frustration and disappointment and turn around, keep grinding it out, get better, and make sure you play your way onto the team this year coming, I think she's done a phenomenal job.  Her consistency shows.  Her win was no surprise to any of us.

“And that's what I like.  She's a grinder and she fights it out and bounces back.”

 

Bruised but back at it: Rebecca Lee-Bentham’s mom was out following her daughter on the golf course on Wednesday and got to see first-hand the terrific round, a 5-under 67, by the second-year LPGA Tour member. It was just two days ago that Lee-Bentham’s mom was unfortunately in the wrong place at the wrong time when she was struck in the head by one of her daughter’s golf shots.

During Monday’s practice round, Lee-Bentham hit a second ball into the 18th green and her mother, who was standing near the green to help, happened to not be watching. Although she wound up with a bump on her head, the incident turned out to be a lot less concerning since the hat Lee Bentham’s mom was wearing took some of the blow.

“It’s never happened before,” Lee-Bentham said. “She stands there to help out, and just one of those freak accidents.  Just so glad and relieved that right now she's fine.”

Lee-Bentham has been working hard to get her game on track after missing the cut at the Kia Classic at the end of March. The Toronto, Canada native stayed in Southern California to work on her game and she felt at the entire experience helped her to put together her strong round on Wednesday.

“I missed the cut [at Kia] by one and didn't get into Kraft,” Lee-Bentham said. “That was a huge learning process to go through that.  It was kind of heartbreaking. I spent the next three weeks playing a lot of golf every day rounds, building up my confidence.  Had a lot of good rounds going into this tournament, so I felt confident. I just knew if I kept playing the way I did then things would turn out fine.”

 

Quotable…”I love playing.  I feel fit.  I'm young.  They give me a lot of crap because I play every event, but I love it.  I absolutely love it.  I love the competition. If at some point I feel like I cannot play four in a row, I will decide to take a week off.  But it's not the case.” – Beatriz Recari on her streak of playing in so many consecutive LPGA events

 

Tweet of the Day: “Us @lpga gals wore these ribbons for Boston today #lovemycity #bostonstrong” -- @Walsheyy (Alison Walshe)

 

Of Note…Defending champion Ai Miyazato fired a 5-under 67 in Wednesday’s first round...Players, caddies and staff donned red ribbons during Wednesday’s first round in remembrance of the victims of the tragedy that took place at the Boston Marathon on Monday.

 

ARIYA JUTANUGARN, Rolex Rankings No. 35

MODERATOR:  We'd like to welcome Ariya Jutanugarn, our current leader, into the interview room.  Congratulations.  8‑under par, tying the course record.  Pretty competitive day out there.

Take me through it.  What a great front nine for you.  How did you keep the birdies coming?
ARIYA JUTANUGARN:  You know, I have like really good front nine, but I just want to like make more birdies because my record is 8‑under, so I want to be lower.

When I have bogey on No. 10 I feel not very confident with my putting.  So when I have eagle, it make me like more confidence.

MODERATOR:  You talk about 8‑under being your own record.  When you shoot 30 on the front nine, are you thinking a really low number in your head, that you could go pretty low?
ARIYA JUTANUGARN:  I don't think how low score going to be, I just want to beat my record.  But maybe try next day. (Laughter.)

MODERATOR:  You qualified for this event on Sunday by coming out here and shooting 68.  What confidence did that give you in playing in the qualifier and earning your spot to how you're going to play this week?
ARIYA JUTANUGARN:  You know, really confident, because when I qualify I play really good.  I still miss some like short putts, so it make me like work hard in my putting.  It's getting a lot better, but still miss some like short putts.

MODERATOR:  I know you recently are coming off a win on the LET.  You're a rookie on the Ladies European Tour.  What did that victory mean to you, and how much has that helped your game going forward, having that professional win?
ARIYA JUTANUGARN:  First professional career like winning.  I have chance in Honda but I lose it, so when I have like ‑‑ when winning one in Morocco it make me confident.  It give me like stronger.  Like I tell myself I can win, you know.

MODERATOR:  I know immediately after we were getting done with your interviews you were checking to see how your sister, Moriya, is doing.  I know you're very close.  What's it like playing with her in the same event and being able to talk to reach other about the golf course and also hang out?
ARIYA JUTANUGARN:  You know, I don't play with her for a lot tournaments.  When I play with her like she help me everything.  But sometimes when I play not very good I tell her what wrong and she try to figure it out and teach me how to do that.

So when I play with her it's very happy and so fun because she help me a lot about everything.

MODERATOR:  I was asking Hyo Joo about this, too, but you guys had a very your pairing.  You and Hyo Joo are both 17; Lydia is 15.  How much fun is it to play with people around your age and what were you talking about today?
ARIYA JUTANUGARN:  I feel like it's very fun today because everybody are young and they so good.  It's very fun because we are friends.  I play with them before. 

Q.  What is it about Ko Olina that you like so much?
ARIYA JUTANUGARN:  You know, I like the fairways.  I mean, it's made me confident with my driver.  I like the fairway.

The course very nice, too.

Q.  You only made one long putt today, huh?
ARIYA JUTANUGARN:  Only one long putt.

Q.  About how long was that one?
ARIYA JUTANUGARN:  20 feet.

Q.  Everything else was inside 10, yeah?
ARIYA JUTANUGARN:  Yeah.

Q.  Have you ever played in Hawaii before or been to Hawaii?
ARIYA JUTANUGARN:  Never.  My first time be here.

Q.  How come it's so easy for you and everybody else is struggling?
ARIYA JUTANUGARN:  You know, I just play really confident when I qualify, and just make me like really confident today.  You know my shot, everything is come like ‑‑ you know, it's not very hard to be shot like under because I'm really confident with my game today.

Q.  On the 14th, 15th hole, what was the eagle?
MODERATOR:  Talk about the eagle.

ARIYA JUTANUGARN:  I hot my 5‑wood, 217, about like 10 feet, and I make it.

MODERATOR:  Not a bad way to make eagle.  Short little putt. Of all the parts of your game today, what was working best for you?

ARIYA JUTANUGARN:  Oh, I think my iron help me a lot today because I hit it very close my second shot.  But my driver is make me like confident about the second shot.

Q.  Can you tell me about your rivalry with Hyo Joo Kim and Lydia Ko?  I think you outdrive them.  How long is your driving?
MODERATOR:  You were outdriving Hyo Joo and Lydia.  How far do you think you were hitting it today, your driver?  And can you talk about your rivalry with those two, kind of how you guys are all so young and so good.  Does it make it competitive between the three of you to see who can go lower and play better?

ARIYA JUTANUGARN:  You know, I play with them like before, so it's so fun to play with them.  Front nine it's like we try to beat each?  Other all the time because we go lower and lower.  It's so fun.

 

SUZANN PETTERSEN, Rolex Rankings No. 6

BEATRIZ RECARI, Rolex Rankings No. 25

MODERATOR:  We'd like to bring in two of our current leaders.  First off, Suzann Pettersen, who shot 7‑under today, and Beatriz Recari who shot 5‑under.

The two of them played together today, so we thought it would be fun to bring them in together to get a chance to talk about your rounds.

Great playing.  I guess I'll just ask you both:  First off, what were you most impressed by with each other's games today watching?  You both had some tremendous rounds going out there.
BEATRIZ RECARI:  Well, I think she started with a birdie, so I mean, it's always great to play with her because she's so competitive.  I think it got to a point where we were kind of beating each other because we were making birdie, birdie and we were just really hitting really good shots into the pins and making some putts.

And then I had a good run in my first ni one, so back nine; then she had a very good run in the second nine.

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  No, I went out today and tried to be really aggressive.  My dad was so disappointed after the Kraft that I left all the putts short.  He's like, You got to hit the ball past the hole to make putts.

The greens are a little bit slower here so you can be a bit more aggressive.  Played a good round of golf.  Made a fair share of putts.

Always nice to play with a fellow European.  Nice to get to know her game with a big event coming up.  It's a lot of fun.

 

MODERATOR:  Suzann, we were talking as we were coming back and there was one key to your round that no one might know about.  What was the difference?  You're going to credit the shoes for your round today?
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  I may be wearing a brand new pair of Nikes.  They're not released yet, but I've been testing them at home.  That's all I've been playing with over the last few months.

I got the green light to put them on in a tournament this week.  Feels like I'm right at home.  Very, very good shoes.  It's the female version of the Tiger Woods shoes.  They're very comfortable.

I must say I actually feel the greens a lot better because the foot is fitting a lot better in the shoe.  Very, very happy with that.

 

MODERATOR:  Beatriz, after getting back in the winner's circle at Kia this year, what kind of pressure did that take off you?  I know you'd been playing great golf even before that win, but seemed like that consistency just stayed with you.  These good rounds just keep coming.
BEATRIZ RECARI:  Yeah, well, it was actually no pressure.  I mean, to get that second win was definitely very special, especially because I had three years in between where I felt like I was improving and getting my game to where I wanted it to be but just not getting those wins.

So definitely very special.  The thing is when you win you want to keep winning.  I didn't feel like just wanted to sit back and relax and just kind of cruise.  Obviously you want to put yourself in that position again and hopefully get more trophies.

So really no pressure.  It felt great to get the second win, but I want to keep winning.  It's kind of like I want more.  I have that feeling as opposed to any pressure at all.

Q.  Give us an idea of conditions out there and if you've ever seen it as calm as it was today.
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  Well, yesterday was pretty calm.  A bit unusual wind.

I mean, it's very playable.  The wind kind of changed a little bit on the back, on our front nine, which was the back nine, which makes actually the two par‑5s on the back reachable.

Into the wind when we played them you can't get there.  I mean, you could almost get to 10 when we played, which makes all the par‑5s a three‑shot hole.

If the wind turned like it is now, you can probably get to 1 and couple more.

But very playable.  Greens are really, really true, very good.  Course is in good shape.  Obviously dumped a lot of water a couple days ago, but it's recovered well.

BEATRIZ RECARI:  This is my second time in Hawaii, so to answer your question, I think it was kind of challenging today, I felt, with the wind, since the it wasn't blowing at all the first three days.  If anything, it was blowing a different direction.

This wind direction really was the wind that we had last year, so it was kind of ‑‑ you know, you have to visualize the hole a different way than the last few days because wind was completely different.

So I think at the beginning that was probably a challenge.  And also 12, you know, made it a little bit easier since they moved the tee up.

But I think honestly, we tee'd off at 7:50 and it was already blowing pretty hard, especially in the back none.  Those holes are really open to the ocean.

So I think it was a good challenge out there.

Q.  How are you so consistent with the number of tournaments you played?
BEATRIZ RECARI:  No, I think I found my key.  I found one, two, three, things that obviously are giving me the results and consistency that I wanted to achieve.

So I love playing.  I feel fit.  I'm young.  They gives me a lot of crap because I play every event, but I love it.  I absolutely love it.  I love the competition.

If at some point I feel like I cannot play four in a row, I will decide to take a week off.  But it's not the case.

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  You say you're not going to play four weeks in a row?

BEATRIZ RECARI:  I am.

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  Yeah, you are.  Sorry.  Thought you were feeling a little bit sick right there.  No, everything is fine.

Q.  What do they pick on you about?
BEATRIZ RECARI:  No, no, I mean, just a joke.  I feel like every week I play is a chance to win.

Like I said, if I didn't feel physically, mentally ready to put myself in a position to win every week, I wouldn't do it.

So that's why I play every week.

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  When I was young I used to play every tournament, too.  She'll get to my age and figure out that her body and mind needs a rest.

MODERATOR:  Suzann, how impressive is it when you do look at the streak of consecutive tournaments that she's been able to compete as consistently as she has over that stretch?
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  Well, I look at ‑‑ probably you can even look few years back.  I could see the disappointment of not playing on the European team.  I think she almost deserved a spot at that time.

Taking that frustration and disappointment and turn around, keep grinding it out, get better, and make sure you play your way onto the team this year coming, I think she's done a phenomenal job.  Her consistency shows.  Her win was no surprise to any of us.

And that's what I like.  She's a grinder and she fights it out and bounces back.

MODERATOR:  We figured out this week that there are four months until the Solheim Cup.  I know you're already gearing up for that to make sure you maintain the Cup.  How excited are you looking at the team you've got coming together and talent like this going back to defend your title?
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  Well, it's kind of interesting.  I mean, if you look at them now, our team is looking a little different.  I mean, when I used to start playing the Solheims, half the team was Swedish.  We had the No. 1 player in the world who was the most dominant player ever, and couple of English.  It was almost like guaranteed team just sitting right on the paper.  Everyone was playing well.

Now I think there is a lot of new young players knocking on the door who wants to be the a team.  I don't think that's a disadvantage.  They're hungry and want to perform and get out there.  A lot of them already have a lot of great experiences from playing in the Junior Solheim.

So I think our team is, as of now, looking good.  I think we have more and more players starting to play good.

If you look at Kraft, I remember standing on the 18th green and looking at the scoreboard, and all of a sudden I'm like, There are six Europeans in the top 10, top 12, which is probably the first time ever.  It was good. 

Q.  How many times were you putting for eagle today?
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  For eagles?  Oh, I just tried to make birdies.  Hit a few shots for eagles, bit I didn't make 'em.  I couldn't get to the par‑5s.

Q.  Suzann, you had two bogeys out there today.  What happened out there?
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  The first bogey I just missed a very short putt.

BEATRIZ RECARI:  Let's not talk about bogeys.

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  The second one I didn't get up and down.  7‑under, it was a good score.  Could have been a couple better, but also made my fair share.  No complaints.

Q.  How did you get the nickname Iron Woman, and what do you think of it?
BEATRIZ RECARI:  It started as a joke with another player, just a friend of mine.  She just kind of was joking and saying, Oh, you're playing every tournament.  Stop.  And then she just came up with that name.

I mean, I kind of adopted it.  I thought it was a nice nickname.  I now have to keep it up.  You know, I have to keep up the consistency.

So it's a good nickname.  It's funny, because in Spanish media they translated it so they thought they called me iron woman for other reasons, which I'm not going to get into.

No, I mean, it started really just as a joke.  You know, all I care about is what it means, and that is that consistency that I have right now and that I worked so hard to achieve.  I just, like I said, have to keep it up now.

Q.  Who was the player?
BEATRIZ RECARI:  I can't tell you.  I don't want her to get all like, you know.

Q.  (Question regarding Pamplona and the Running of the Bulls.)
BEATRIZ RECARI:  You know, I mean, that's really crazy.  Those are completely different things.

Yeah, it's just ‑‑ I watched it enough times to realize it's just too crazy.  It's just tradition that started hundreds of years ago and made my hometown famous.  It's a very small town and it's very charming once that week comes, and, you know, all the traditions that involve that festival.

Making every cut or playing every event just is pretty demanding, but both are completely different things, so...

 

HYO JOO KIM, Rolex Rankings No. 47 

Q. Great round today.  Played really well.  Just take me through her round and what was working well for her.
HYO JOO KIM:  (Through translation.)  Front nine I hit very well and putting was good.  Today I (indiscernible) the back nine, but later on I kind of lose my concentration and I didn't putt well.

So I just want to focus tomorrow.

Q.  How much fun was that grouping for her?  Ariya is also 17 and Lydia is 15.  It was fun for us to watch such a young group play together.
HYO JOO KIM:  (Through translation.)  I'm very comfortable with them because Lydia is younger than me and I know her very well.

Ariya, I play with her on February so I’m very comfortable playing with them.

Q.  She played so well at Evian; tied for fourth.  What did that experience do for her, and how much confidence has that given her now competing in other LPGA events?
HYO JOO KIM:  (Through translation.)  I finish very well in fourth place in Evian.  The thing is, you know, it was long ago, so I forgot that.

It's always good to have the opportunity I have in the LPGA Tour.  I really have fun with the game in LPGA Tour.  This is my last goal, so I happy to be here.  Yeah.

 

STACY LEWIS, Rolex Rankings No. 2 

Q. Just talk about your round.
STACY LEWIS:  It was good.  It was just a solid day.  You know, I definitely let a few go.  Definitely could've made some coming in.

I hit it really well and took advantage of the par‑5s, so it was a good day.

Q.  I got to ask you, on the sixth hole I think you were about to line up a putt and the a bee came by right as you were about to lift up.
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah.

Q.  You had to I guess back off and gather yourself.  Was that a first?
STACY LEWIS:  No.  It happens all the time.  It was one of big ones so just I was trying to make sure I didn't hit the ball when I backed off it.

Q.  What was it like playing with Ai today?  Seemed like you guys were pretty much the same score almost the entire round.
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, you know, we play together a lot and our games are pretty similar.  We seem to play well on the same golf courses.

I didn't play well here last year.  I knew she won.  So coming into it I knew I could play well here just because she had played well here.

She's great to play with.  She plays fast.  We kind of play at the same speed and play the same game, so it makes it really easy I think for both of us.

Q.  What aspects of the course do you feel like you might have handled better this time around than last year?
STACY LEWIS:  I hit the ball a lot better.  I was a lot more consistent.  I think I hit almost every fairway.  I had a lot of birdie opportunities.

The greens are running a little slow, so you just need to keep giving yourself chances.

Q.  You mentioned coming into the finish, I think 15 and 16 were both close opportunities.  Do you feel like where you were right now, is this good enough to win this tournament?
STACY LEWIS:  Oh, yeah.  I mean, I might need one something lower.  Just kind of depends on the wind more than anything.

I mean, it's a good start.  It's hard to lead the tournament from the first day and lead for four days.  It's really hard.  I like my position.  I know that I'm playing some good golf.

Q.  I guess lastly, what do you think of the field that's out here?  It seems like pretty much everybody came.  I haven't had a chance to glace at the leaderboard right now, but pretty competitive so far, it seems like.
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, the leaderboard is great.  This is one of the best fields we've had all year.  A lot has to do I think with we're in Hawaii.

It's hard to say no to come on vacation for a week.

Q.  For you overall, everyone has been talking about the No. 1 ranking.  How much do you put that in the back of your mind and focus on golf this week?
STACY LEWIS:  It's been in the back of my mind since I became No. 1.  I knew I would lose it at some point.  I never had a goal of staying there for a certain amount of time.

I think it's good for the tour when players are going back and forth and creating scenarios of if so‑and‑so wins they could be No. 1.  I like that.

I don't want to say it's easier, but it's fun now.  You're checking what Yani is doing, you're checking what Inbee is doing.  I think it's a good thing for the tour.

Q.  This was the only event you missed the cut last year, right?
STACY LEWIS:  Yes.

Q.  So a little extra motivation that kind of comes from that when you come back and you're thinking, This was the one event that kind of baffled me last year.
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah.  It was kind of the turning point for me.  It was the point where I had to get things taken care of off the course.  It really kind of showed me how important that is to playing well, having everything in its place.

So I learned a lot from this tournament last year.  I think you learn more from failures than you do from success.

 

REBECCA LEE-BENTHAM, Rolex Rankings No. 380

Q. Nice 5‑under.  Is that what you finished at?
REBECCA LEE‑BENTHAM:  Yeah.

Q.  Started off with nine straight pars and then got things going on the back.  What was the biggest difference for you on the back nine?
REBECCA LEE‑BENTHAM:  I just told myself to be patient.  Putts weren't going in on the front nine, but I was making pars.  So I knew if I kept making pars the birdies would come.

It did happen, so back nine I started dropping more putts.  Overall it was a good round.  Bogey‑free.

Q.  When you came in to today, this week, has your game been feeling pretty good?  Have you been pleased with how you're striking the ball?
REBECCA LEE‑BENTHAM:  Yeah, my last tournament was the Kia and I missed the cut by one and didn't get into Kraft.  That was a huge learning process to go through that.  It was kind of heartbreaking.

I spent the next three weeks playing a lot of golf every day rounds, building up my confidence.  Had a lot of good rounds going into this tournament, so I felt confident.

I just knew if I kept playing the way I did then things would turn out fine.

Q.  Where were you practicing in between?
REBECCA LEE‑BENTHAM:  I stayed out in California because right now my home base is Toronto.  I didn't want to go back home in the cold.  I used the opportunity while I was down there and asked courses, any course, if they would be willing to let me play there.  I played all over the southern California area, like San Diego.

Q.  Nice.  So when you made the birdie on 10 did you feel the momentum swing?
REBECCA LEE‑BENTHAM:  Yeah, finally I made one.  I knew if I made one, they would keep coming.  I have been stroking it well on the practice green, so just kind of get the feel.

Q.  I saw the other day what happened with your mom.  How is she doing?
REBECCA LEE‑BENTHAM:  She's doing good, luckily.  I mean, I would have felt so bad if something bad happened.  Thank God she's okay.  She came out and watched all 18.  It's nice.

Q.  So just one of those random things.  She follows you around all the time, right?
REBECCA LEE‑BENTHAM:  Yeah.

Q.  So it was a little different to have that kind of happen?
REBECCA LEE‑BENTHAM:  Uh‑huh.  Never happened before.  She stands there to help out, and just one of those freak accidents.  Just so glad and relieved that right now she's fine.

 

Topics: Notes and Interviews, Lee-Bentham, Rebecca, Lewis, Stacy, Pettersen, Suzann, Recari, Beatriz, LPGA Lotte Championship [+]

Andrews Sports MedicineArpin Van LinesFloridas NaturalMedjet AssistMichelob ULTRAPrudentialSmuckers