North Texas LPGA Shootout Third Round Notes and Interviews

Carlota Ciganda
Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Carlota Ciganda of Spain walks onto the eighth green during the third round of the 2013 North Texas LPGA Shootout at the Las Colinas Country Club on April 27, 2013 in Irving, Texas.

North Texas LPGA Shootout
Las Colinas Country Club
Irving, Texas
Third-round Notes and Interviews
April 27, 2013

Carlota Ciganda -11, Rolex Rankings No. 48
Inbee Park -9, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Caroline Masson -9, Rolex Rankings No. 54
Na Yeon Choi -8, Rolex Rankings No. 3
Christina Kim -6, Rolex Rankings No. 263

Saturday’s Third-round Recap

Two-time LET Tour winner Carlota Ciganda will try to become the fourth Spaniard to win on the LPGA Tour, as she’ll carry a two-shot lead into the final round of the inaugural North Texas LPGA Shootout at Las Colinas Country Club in Irving, Texas. Ciganda fired a 5-under 66 during Saturday’s third round to move from second into a two-shot lead over Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park and 2013 LPGA Tour rookie Caroline Masson.

Ciganda would become the first player in 2013 to earn the distinction of a Rolex First-Time Winner on the LPGA Tour and she said that it be a special moment to join fellow Spaniards Beatriz Recari, Azahara Munoz and Marta Figueras‑Dotti with the honor of being an LPGA winner.

“It would be unbelievable,” Ciganda said. “It would be a dream.  I mean winning is always great, but I just want to try to focus on each shot.  Just like today, have a great round and then at the end if someone plays better, just congratulate.  And I think sometimes you have to lose.  So just try my best, try my game and let's see what happens.”

But to earn that distinction, Ciganda will have to beat out a talented group of players who are chasing not far behind her. That includes Park, who shot a 4-under 67 on Saturday, is a five-time winner on the LPGA Tour and already has two victories this season. The 24-year-old South Korean moved into the top spot in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings just a little over a week ago. Masson, the first and second-round leader, also kept herself in the hunt for her first ever LPGA victory by shooting a 2-under 69.

Rolex Rankings No. 3 Na Yeon Choi also matched Ciganda for the low round of day with a 5-under 66 that jumped her from a tie for 11th into solo fourth at 8-under-par. Choi has three top-10 finishes already this season, including a season-best, runner-up finish at the HSBC Women’s Champions in  Singapore. And while Choi is three shots back, she’s been labeled by the top player in the world as one to watch.

“When it comes to the final round, I think a more experienced player definitely has an advantage going into the pressure conditions,” Park said. “I think Na Yeon will be one of the ones to beat tomorrow.  She had a very good day today. She's really good friend of mine.  We are really good friends.  She was struggling a little bit with the putter last week, and you know, she changed her putting grip, and I think it's working really good. “

Drained it! Carlota Ciganda seeks her first-career victory tomorrow, thanks in large part to a shot from the hazard on the 12th hole that kept her atop the leaderboard on Saturday. The 22-year-old hit her drive right on the par-4 12th into the lateral hazard and found her ball semi-submerged in a concrete drainage ditch. Her 8-iron from 140 yards off concrete got a helpful bounce near the greenside bunker and rolled to 10 feet, setting up her fifth of six birdies on the day.

“I just tried to hit it as well as I could, and I think I was pretty lucky,” Ciganda said. “It bounced really well to the right, and then I was lucky again to make that putt.”

Doubled Up! Caroline Masson began her day with a double bogey on the first hole during the third round of the North Texas LPGA Shootout, but she recovered with five birdies and a bogey to shoot 69.

“I was a bit disappointed, and I was thinking – well, (I was thinking) in German, so that's a good thing,” Masson said. “I don't have to tell you (what I was thinking).”

The German rookie, who made bogey at three of the final four holes in Friday’s second round, did not let a tough first hole derail her from contending for her first LPGA title.

“it's kind of cool because I think a few years ago maybe, you know, my game would have fallen apart after a start like that,” she said. “But I was thinking maybe I can still get it back to, maybe eight, 9‑under, and yeah, I think that's what I did.”

I think I want to marry you…McKinney, Texas native Brittany Lang got the surprise of her life as she finished up her tournament on the ninth hole at Las Colinas Country Club on Saturday. Lang’s boyfriend, Kevin Spann, greeted her on the ninth green after she tapped in for par to shoot 71 on the day and he asked his girlfriend of about a year if he could watch her play golf for their rest of their lives. Lang, while shaking a little, hugged Spann and answered with a resounding yes.

The proposal was caught on camera and shown live on Golf Channel. Lang and Spann met each other in the parking lot of their golf course, The TPC Craig Ranch in McKinney, Texas. The two were even in nearly matching outfits on Saturday, a tradition they’ve tried to keep up since Lang said she plays better when they dress alike.

“We’ve been together about 11 months,” said Lang, who afterward was donning her beautiful new engagement ring. “We met at the club that we play at and it’s been going very well. I had a few ideas [this might be coming] because he’s been acting a little strange.”

Ole, Ole! European Solheim Cup Captain Liselotte Neumann is probably enjoying this week's North Texas LPGA Shootout with three of her points leaders in good shape entering Sunday's final round.

Carlota Ciganda, the 2012 LET Order of Merit winner, is currently ranked second on the European Solheim Cup points list and will head to the golf course on Sunday with a two-stroke lead. There are two players who are sitting at 9-under-par and two shots behind Ciganda, including LET member Caroline Masson of Germany who is currently third on the European Team points list.

Suzann Pettersen, who is currently leading the points list following her LET victory in China back in March, sits at 5-under-par and is six shots back of the lead entering Sunday’s final round.

Under pressure! Na Yeon Choi entered the 2013 season coming off a breakthrough year in which she captured two victories including her first major at the U.S. Women’s Open. But such a fantastic season can often lead to raised expectations and while the 25-year-old already has three top-10s in six events, she admits that she has felt the pressure to perform better than what she has so far.

“I've had a lot of stress this year because I think I expect too much,” Choi said. “Maybe my expectations too high.  I want to be Top 10 every week or win every week. Also, you know, a lot of fans in Korea or media, they always focus for being No. 1.  So even I don't try to think, but like around the people they like remind me like you have to be No. 1 this time or this week.  That's why I think I got a lot of stress or pressure too much.”

To combat the pressure that she’s been placing on herself, Choi has made a couple of changes in the last two weeks. First she decided to switch caddies this week in Texas. She also made a change in Hawaii last week when she altered her putting grip, going from right-hand-low to left-hand low. And following her 5-under 66 on Saturday that has put her within three shots of the lead entering Sunday’s final round in Texas, she thinks that the changes are paying off.

“Like 10 or almost 12 years ago I did maybe like two months practice with this grip,” Choi said of her new putting grip. “But I just changed it immediately, and I finished strong last week, third round I shoot 5‑under par and then 6‑under par on the last round.

“A lot of people say you are very brave to change during the tournament.  But I did and I got good results, and even this week I am doing great.”

On the Up-and-Up: Christina Kim has been vocal recently about her struggles with depression. Two years ago, Kim said that she was in a tough place and her troubles on the golf course over the past couple years didn’t exactly help with those woes.

So coming off a 4-under 68 on Saturday that put her in a tie for fifth at 6-under-par heading into Sunday’s final round, Kim was asked if her better play of late has aided in making life easier overall for her.

“I won't lie.  It does, but it's one of those things where sometimes if you're feeling well, you can play well, but at the same time if you're playing well, you can feel well,” Kim said. “It's one of those chicken‑or‑the‑egg kind of things.  It's something that I struggle with every day, but I've had some amazing days.  Every day has been just great for a long, long time.  So I'm in a wonderful place right now, and people ask about it and it's almost as if it's really hard to remember what it was like two years ago.  So I'm just ‑‑ I'm loving life right now.”

Tweet of the Day: “My new life as a herniated discs patient: do crosswords, listen to P1, drink tea, and most importantly discover more gray hairs. I'm OLD!” -- @karinsjodin, who had to withdraw from this week’s tournament after being diagnosed with two herniated disks in her back

Of Note…The field was cut to the top 50 and ties following Saturday’s third round. A total of 51 players made the cut which fell at 1-over-par 214.


Carlota Ciganda, Rolex Rankings No. 48

THE MODERATOR:  All right.  We'd like to welcome third round leader, Carlota Ciganda to the interview room at the North Texas LPGA Shootout.  Welcome back.
CARLOTA CIGANDA:  Thank you.
THE MODERATOR:  Another fantastic round for you, 66 5‑under par.  You've got a two‑shot lead going into the final round, looking for your first‑ever LPGA victory, but before we start I have to ask you about your 12th hole.  You hit your drive into the drainage ditch.  It was a little bit submerged in the water, and somehow you got up‑and‑down for birdie there.  Just tell us about the 12th hole.
CARLOTA CIGANDA:  Well, it was unbelievable.  I wasn't very comfortable with my driver, so I hit it to the right, and I was, yeah, in the hazard in the water.  So I was thinking to hit 9 or 8‑iron and I had I think 140 yards to the pin, so Javi told me to hit just the 8‑iron in case because the ball was in the water.
           
I didn't think much.  I just tried to hit it as well as I could, and I think I was pretty lucky.  It bounced really well to the right, and then I was lucky again to make that putt.  So I think it was a pretty good birdie.

THE MODERATOR:  Six birdies on the day, one bogey.  You act like you've been in this position a hundred times.  This is your first time really in the hunt on the LPGA.  Certainly you have been on the LET, but how are you so calm out there?
CARLOTA CIGANDA:  I was just trying to focus on my game, just trying to play my own game and stay in the present.  I wasn't very nervous.  Just a round of golf.  I love playing golf and I feel very lucky to be here on the LPGA.
           
I had a great match with Caroline.  She's a really good friend of mine, and then Moriya, too.  So I couldn't be happier to play with them, to be playing golf.  Sunny day.  I was just trying to enjoy my time out there.

THE MODERATOR:  During the Golf Channel telecast, Jerry Foltz interviewed your friend Belen Mozo who was following you and supporting you, and she said that you're one of the most amazing athletes, not just golfers but athletes that she's ever met.  What's it like to get a compliment from one of your friends like that?
CARLOTA CIGANDA:  I mean that's great, and I'm very happy she said that.  Belen is a great friend of mine.  She is so funny.  She's always happy, always trying to make everyone happy, and I mean it's so nice to have her here, and she was following me the back nine with her brother.  So very thankful to them, and yes, thank you, and they know that I love them and I wish them all the best.

THE MODERATOR:  Have you heard from anybody back in Spain, family, friends, other golfers, about seeing your name on the leaderboard every day this week?
CARLOTA CIGANDA:  Yeah, I have.  I had a few messages last night on the phone.  But I mean I just tried to just stay in my game and just stay focused on the tournament and then next week when I go home I'll see everyone and we'll have some fun.

Q.  Obviously you knew you were playing for the lead.  After you saw Caroline struggle, she had the double bogey at 1 and you had a par to kind of go with the lead, do you watch the leaderboard much or do you just kind of play your game at that point, because at that point you took the lead, and I don't think anybody ever passed you up the rest of the day.
CARLOTA CIGANDA:  I wasn't thinking of the lead or the numbers.  I was just thinking to play one shot at a time.  Yeah, Caroline struggled on the first hole, but she's a great player.  She's playing great.  She's very confident.
           
I played a lot with her last year in Europe, and I know her game, so I know she's going to play great.  I just tried to play my game, to stay in the present all the time, and I didn't really look at the leaderboard.

Q.  That No. 1, double bogey, you are the only one in the Top 10 that's played that hole under par this week.  What is the secret to your success on that hole?
CARLOTA CIGANDA:  No. 1?

Q.  Yes.
CARLOTA CIGANDA:  I just tried to hit my driver like left middle of the fairway, and then just try to hit a good shot into the green and then the putt goes in, birdie; otherwise par.
           
I don't think too much.  Just try to hit the yardage and then try to hit good putts.  But I try not to think much on the course.  Just hit the ball and let's see what will happen.

Q.  Can you talk a little bit about the differences between the LPGA Tour and being out here versus the European Tour and how they differ, the golf courses?  Are the speed of the greens in Europe as fast as they are here?  Just some of the differences.
CARLOTA CIGANDA:  Yeah.  I really like the courses here.  I think they are more harder.  I think the greens are faster, bigger greens, too.  And I think it's harder to score here because playing conditions are not easy and the courses are always longer, and you get to play some good golf here to score.
           
In Europe maybe they are a little bit shorter, and there's not as much grass as here.  And I think that would be the main difference.  I mean I love playing in Europe.  I love playing here.  I think this is great because we are playing with the best players in the world.  And I mean I feel very lucky to be here.

Q.  You're 6‑under on the par‑3s.  Does that indicate that you're hitting your irons very well?  Is that really the strength of your game right now?
CARLOTA CIGANDA:  Yeah.  This week I'm hitting really close on the par‑3s, and I did lots of birdies.  Today I did on No. 6 and 17 I hit it really close.  So yeah, I'm confident with those irons, and let's see if I can keep it tomorrow the same.

THE MODERATOR:  We'll close on this one.  There are only three Spanish winners in the history of the LPGA.  Of course, Beatriz Recari, who won earlier this year, and 2010, your friend Azahara Munoz, who won the Match Play last year, and Marta Figueras‑Dotti, who won back in the 80s.  How nice would it be to join that club of Spanish winners tomorrow?
CARLOTA CIGANDA:  It would be unbelievable.  It would be a dream.  I mean winning is always great, but I just want to try to focus on each shot.  Just like today, have a great round and then at the end if someone plays better, just congratulate.  And I think sometimes you have to lose.  So just try my best, try my game and let's see what happens.


Caroline Masson, Rolex Rankings No. 54

THE MODERATOR:  We'd like to welcome Caroline Masson on the interview room here at the North Texas LPGA Shootout.  You're two shots off the lead heading into Sunday's final round.  You shot par 69 today, but I know it could have been a little bit better.  You had a little bit of a tough start.  So just take us through the day and how you feel you played.
CAROLINE MASSON:  Yeah.  I had a tough start, made double bogey on the first.  Actually hit a good drive.  You know, it was in the fairway for the first time, I think, and yeah, I think we just misjudged the wind a little bit and I had the wrong cut, hit it in the bunker.  Had a fried egg, pretty bad lie.
           
But yeah, you know, it's always tough to have a hole like that on the first hole, but yeah, I stayed pretty calm, I think, you know, and I could make a birdie a few holes later.  And I think you know, after that I was playing really well.  I hit one more bogey, but shot pretty much 4‑under on the last 17 holes, so overall I think it's still a pretty good round.

THE MODERATOR:  Just talk about walking on the second hole.  What's going through your mind?  Are you thinking, hey, I'm going to turn this around?  You did end up making five more birdies, only one bogey, like you mentioned, so in the end not a bad round, but walking toward the rest of the day what were you thinking?
CAROLINE MASSON:  Well, I was a bit disappointed, and I was thinking ‑‑ well, in German.  That's a good thing.  I don't have to tell you.
           
But no, at the same time I was thinking, you know, I was playing well all week, and if I just keep making good shots, you know, I'm going to make some birdies as well, and I can still ‑‑ I was thinking maybe I can still get it back to, yeah, maybe eight, 9‑under, and yeah, I think that's what I did.
           
So I was a little mad, but I was still positive at the same time, and I think, yeah, that's why I actually shot a good score today.

THE MODERATOR:  Did you play any junior golf growing up at all with Carlota or any amateur‑type golf?
CAROLINE MASSON:  Yeah, like we played all the time.  I mean I think we know each other since we were probably like 14, 15, so yeah, she's a great player.  She always hit it pretty far.  And especially last year on the ladies European Tour we played so much.
           
Yeah, she's a good friend.  We're good friends, so it was fun to play with her today.

THE MODERATOR:  If you could, just tell me what you think the best part of her game is from what you've seen playing with her.
CAROLINE MASSON:  Everything is pretty good.  She hits it far, which is an advantage, and I think she was putting really well today.  You know, like didn't really make any mistakes on the greens and hit some close, and just yeah, made a few birdies, so yeah it was a very good round out there today.

The MODERATOR:  Looking at the leaderboard obviously there's the No. 1 and No. 3 players in the world right in the hunt with you guys.  Does that affect you at all seeing those big names that you know have won quite a bit on the LPGA?
CAROLINE MASSON:  No, you know, I mean I know they are probably going to shoot a good round tomorrow, so I know I have to play pretty good tomorrow to stay up there.
           
But yeah, I'm not scared of them.  It's golf.  Everybody can have a good round in the last round, so I'm looking forward to maybe playing with Inbee tomorrow, and I'm just going to try to enjoy it and have a good day tomorrow.

Q.  Two questions more on the personal level if you don't mind.  It's been a long time since the LPGA has been to the Metroplex and it's also you're getting to know the LPGA.  Can you give us a little bit of your impressions of the Metroplex?  Have you been out at all or has it just been studying the golf course, No. 1.  And part two is being from where you're from, is it at all cool to you that you're in the home of Dirk Nowitzki maybe the greatest German athlete in this country anyway?
CAROLINE MASSON:  I'm going to answer the second question first because yeah, basketball is not that big in Germany, but Dirk Nowitzki is a huge star at home as well, and I'm following him and I was kind of disappointed because I was thinking, oh, great, I'm going to ‑‑

Q.  Playoff game?
CAROLINE MASSON:  I might get to see him.  So I was following the last few games, and unfortunately they didn't make it, but still, he's ‑‑ I mean I don't know him, but he seems to be such a nice guy and I think a great representative for Germany here in the States.  So that's awesome.
           
Yeah, the first question, I've pretty much only seen the golf course, to be honest.  Like there wasn't much time to do anything and I don't have a car this week, so I'm pretty much stuck at my hotel.  But it's a good thing, you know.  You don't want to spend too much time away from golf.  You know, maybe in an off‑week or something or a Monday, but like right now I'm so just focused on golf and the tournament.  And yeah, I think just same tonight.  Just going to relax, have a nice dinner and just yeah, relax to be ready for tomorrow.

Q.  Some players have talked about it being difficult to putt out there.  I don't know if that's because of the wind or the greens increase in speed or what.  Your putting has been really good all week.  What's been the secret behind that?  Has it been like that all year?
CAROLINE MASSON:  No, it hasn't.  No, I was struggling with my putting the first few tournaments.  You know, I really felt like I didn't play that bad but I just really couldn't make a putt and I was a bit disappointed, and so I don't know, this week I'm just feeling the greens really well.  I'm seeing the lines and I think the most important thing was the speed.  I just had great speed, you know, and haven't had a 3‑putt yet, which is pretty good on these greens.
           
Yeah, I'm just going to try to do the same.  Just don't think about it too much, because it seems like I'm feeling pretty good.  Just go out there, see the line and hit it and hopefully I'm going to make a few more tomorrow.

Q.  Caroline, do you have a regular caddy or are you just finding somebody as you go around?
CAROLINE MASSON:  Well, that was a big issue the beginning of the year because yeah, I had some caddy issues there, you know, and right now I'm with an American bag carrier.  You know, we started last week, and we're probably only going to do a few weeks together because the caddy I was going to work with is an Irish guy.  He's back home.  His wife just got a baby like two weeks ago, so that's why he's at home.
           
But it's fine.  I played the Kraft without ‑‑ well, my dad was caddying, so pretty much without a caddy.  He was carrying my bag, but I was doing everything, all the yardages myself, which was good, you know.  And a caddy is very important, but at the same time you have to play well, you know, and I think my caddy is doing a great job this week.

Q.  You said yesterday when you got finished, you said bogeys will come at times and sometimes they'll come at the end of the round, sometimes they'll come at the beginning of the round.  Well, this time they came at the beginning.  When you got those last few holes, obviously you got a birdie to finish, but did any thoughts go through your head or were you able to kind of keep that out of your head and say let's finish strong and get past this?
CAROLINE MASSON:  No, I was just trying to make it better than yesterday.  Like I was thinking, okay, like on 16, for example, I hit it left there.  So just aim in the middle of the fairway.  And I mean I've hit it straight pretty much all day.  So just hit it straight.  And that's what I did.
           
So I think I handled that pretty well, you know, and especially the double bogey in the beginning.  You know, it's kind of cool because I think a few years ago maybe, you know, my game would have fallen apart after a start like that, especially when you start thinking.  So I'm pretty happy and kind of a little proud as well, you know, that I handled it so well and that I could actually finish with a birdie, especially since I had that bad finish yesterday.  So it just shows you that golf is a strange game sometimes, and if bogeys come, they just come.  You also have a chance for birdie on every hole.  So I just have to keep thinking like that and think that I'm going to be fine.


Inbee Park, Rolex Rankings No. 1

THE MODERATOR:  Okay.  We'd like to welcome Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park back to the media center yet again.  Another great round, 67 4‑under par.  You're two shots off the lead here at the inaugural North Texas LPGA Shootout.  Tell us about your day.  What went well for you?
INBEE PARK:  When I was warming up this morning, there was a lot of wind this morning, so I thought it was going to be really tough out there today.  But luckily, you know, we didn't have much wind out there today.  It died down when we teed off, so it was playing much easier than my first day.  I was putting much better.  Hit the ball much better today.

THE MODERATOR:  Can you take us through your birdies, what club you hit and how far the putts were?
INBEE PARK:  Yeah.  No. 3 was par‑5.  It was downwind.  So I just hit a 6‑iron onto the green and two‑putted for birdie from there.  And on the back nine, No. 11, I hit 6‑iron to about 15 feet, made that one.
           
And No. 13 or 14 ‑‑ 14 it was about I think like 15‑footer.  And No. 17 was about three‑footer.  But everything was actually 6‑iron.  No, 17 was 6‑iron and 18 was pitching wedge to almost 20‑footer.

THE MODERATOR:  So 6‑iron was the club today?
INBEE PARK:  Yeah.  I made two birdies with 6‑iron and a couple with the shorter ones, yeah.

THE MODERATOR:  Just talk to us about the conditions out there.  Not too bad, a little bit breezy, especially a little bit earlier.
INBEE PARK:  Yeah.  I mean somehow the greens were stopping a lot better.  There was a lot of shots that we were playing a little bit into the wind with the club.  So we were able to stop the ball really good on the greens, and yeah, they were stopping pretty much right there, even with 6, 7‑iron, so it was attackable pins out there today.

THE MODERATOR:  There's still quite a few youngsters on the leaderboard, a couple of rookies.  Do you think when they see your name, knowing you've won four times since last June and you've been so consistent with the putter, do you think they are a little nervous when they see Inbee Park on the leaderboard right behind them?
INBEE PARK:  I don't know.  You'd have to ask them.  I'm sure whatever happens, whether they win tomorrow or not win, it's going to be a very good experience for them anyway.  And yeah, they're just going to go out there tomorrow and enjoy and that's what I'm going to do, too.

Q.  You know, there are a couple of youngsters, but there's also the No. 3 player in the world up there.  So there is some experience.  Talk about that.  Do you look at the players differently or do you look at all players the same when you look at that group?
INBEE PARK:  Well, I mean when it comes to the final round, I think a more experienced player definitely has an advantage going into the pressure conditions.  I think Na Yeon will be one of the ones to beat tomorrow.  She had a very good day today, and I think she's going to ‑‑ she's really good friend of mine.  We are really good friends.  She was struggling a little bit with the putter last week, and you know, she changed her putting grip, and I think it's working really good.

Q.  Tell us something we don't know about Na Yeon Choi.
INBEE PARK:  I think you know pretty much everything about Na Yeon.  She's really nice.  I mean I can tell you we were friends since we were elementary kids.  Yeah, she was really shy, and she didn't even want to talk to people.  She was really shy.  I mean ‑‑ yeah.  Even to friends she was very shy, but now her personality has really changed.  She get along with a lot of friends, and she learned a lot of things out here now; and she worked very hard to learn English, and she is doing very well.

Q.  How nice would it be to battle with your friend Na Yeon coming down the back nine tomorrow?
INBEE PARK:  I don't like to see so much of a battle in between friends.  I mean we had one experience in Malaysia last year.  We played in the same group, and hopefully we don't play in the same group tomorrow.
           
Hopefully we just play our own game and see what the scores will be like.  It's always tough to beat friends or get beaten by friends in the same group in the last days.

THE MODERATOR:  You talked to me the other day in the back just about how you got involved in golf and then you first came to America.  Can you just talk to the media about what it was like the first time you came to America and some of the things you had to overcome in terms of learning the language?
INBEE PARK:  Yeah.  I mean I came here when I was in sixth grade and didn't speak a word of English.  It was very tough to get along with.  Even in the tournaments, you know, I didn't know how to say to my opponent say, can you tell the pin, and I just took it out and I just putted it not looking at the hole even.  And first if I win the tournament, I had to make a speech, so I didn't want to win.
           
So I finished a lot of second places, and I felt really comfortable.  And that was, you know, that was my experience.

THE MODERATOR:  That's very similar to Annika Sorenstam who told us back in the day she used to try to lose because she never wanted to give speeches.  You're pretty good at them now, though.  Any others for Inbee?
Q.  I just wanted to ask you about how well you've been hitting the ball this week.  Has it been like that all year or has this week been especially good?
INBEE PARK:  I've been really good since Kraft Nabisco.  That week I hit the ball very good and this week.
           
You know, I hit a lot of good tee shots and a lot in the first two rounds.  Today I was a little bit here and there with the driver, but I hit a lot of good shots with the irons.  So I'll just go work on my driver a little bit today after we finish here.  And if it helps for tomorrow, that'll be good.


Na Yeon Choi, Rolex Rankings No. 3

THE MODERATOR:  We'd like to welcome Rolex Rankings No. 3 Na Yeon Choi into the interview room.  Congratulations, a great 5‑under par round today putting you right up there near the top of the leaderboard.  Take me through your day out there today and what was really working well for you.
NA YEON CHOI:  Yeah, I had a great day today.  I started off to hit a birdie on the first hole and also No. 3, I had a great birdie there.  Today I got five birdies out there but without bogey.  That's the very important thing for me.
           
And I mean I can say, you know, I just changed caddy from last week, and he came from PGA TOUR and I think he's great for reading the green.  So he helped me a lot.  And I'm not trying to be mean to my old caddy, but he's great and we had a great time out there and I'm really looking forward to tomorrow.

THE MODERATOR:  Was it one of those things with the caddy change, just felt it was time to make a switch and kind of get things going in a different direction?
NA YEON CHOI:  I don't know.  I mean just the last couple weeks ago I think I put too much pressure on myself too much, you know.  So many people asking me like world No. 1 or I mean that kind of thing.  So I just needed some fresh feeling, and last week even I had great results in Hawaii, but I just decided to change caddy, and I got some new or good or fresh feeling this week, and it worked.

THE MODERATOR:  Sometimes you just need that little bit of new energy to get you going.  The golf course today, I know conditions were different again than they were yesterday.  How different did the golf course play today, and was it partly that that you thought that it was a great day to be able to capitalize on scoring?
NA YEON CHOI:  I mean today wind was very different than yesterday.  I mean a couple par‑5s we can reach in two because the wind switched than yesterday.  But still, you know, greens fast and fairways very firm, and we have to think a lot on the course.
           
I mean we can't hit driver every hole, so we need to lay up from even tee shot, and we have to ball landing and how much release even under fairway.  We have to think a lot on the course.

THE MODERATOR:  I know people have asked about that No. 1 ranking a lot.  This week really isn't a possibility of you getting there.  Does that kind of almost take a little ease off when you don't have to sit there and think what do I have to do to get that ranking and just play golf and enjoy yourself?
NA YEON CHOI:  I really want to play just my game even tomorrow.  I don't want to get any pressure or, I mean, like stress from that.  You know, that's all about the results thing.  I cannot control.  I just do my best every day, every week, every tournament and if I have a good result, then always the good results just follow.  I cannot control.
            But last couple weeks I tried to put like, this is my chance, I have to go.  I mean it's not going to work.  I knew it and I just learned from that.  So even tomorrow I really ‑‑ I mean this day my shot is great, you know, so I really hope to get another the same day. 

Q.  You've had a good season, though, wouldn't you say, so far, three Top 10s?
NA YEON CHOI:  I think ‑‑ I mean I just mentioned like I've had a lot of stress this year because I think I expect too much.  Maybe my expectations too high.  I want to be Top 10 every week or win every week.
           
Also, you know, a lot of fans in Korea or media, they always focus for being No. 1.  So even I don't try to think, but like around the people they like remind me like you have to be No. 1 this time or this week.  That's why I think I got a lot of stress or pressure too much.

Q.  How comfortable do you feel going into tomorrow?  You'll be either one or two.
NA YEON CHOI:  I feel really comfortable, and I mean especially today.  I haven't nervous or I was so calm, and especially this course, we need good composure until the last hole.  So really want to focus on my smart golf for tomorrow and try to stay with that until last hole.
           
It doesn't matter about the result.  If I, you know, did my best after the round, then it will be okay.

Q.  You are one of the few today that had success on No. 1, and it's proved to be one of the most difficult holes this week.  Only five players, I think, today hit the fairway.  Can you talk about the difficulty of that hole?  And I'm assuming you hit the fairway today.
NA YEON CHOI:  Yeah.  Even last couple days, even you know, first round, second round, even today I hit not bad.  I mean that hole slope is too much, and even my ball landing over the fairway and finish in the rough.  Like even 18th hole, today ‑‑ last three rounds I didn't hit to the fairway.  But I mean we cannot control about the pick on the fairway.  So I mean it's not easy to accept, but I try to accept.
           
Even I hit the fairway and even I hit like solid shot, but still finish in the rough or behind three, cannot control.  And the older players I think may think about it that way, but we have to understand and accept that happened, you know.

THE MODERATOR:  The question was that you feel all this pull.  You get all that attention in Korea and then you spend a lot of your time in the States.  How different is it to kind of have the pull of these two places, kind of two different homes, I guess, as you kind of balance?
NA YEON CHOI:  I mean some people ask me where are you from.  I always say from Korea, because I feel like I'm Korea and I came here from Korea and play golf on the LPGA Tour, and I just have a house in Orlando.  But when I have two weeks or even three weeks off, I always go back to Korea and see my family and my coach is there and all my friends is there.  So when I have time, I always go back to Korea and release from stress.

Q.  Golf in the Olympics in 2016, is that important in Korea?
NA YEON CHOI:  I don't know actually other players, but that is one of my biggest dreams, you know.  When I heard golf in 2016, I don't know what reason, but right now my biggest dream is playing in the Olympics in 2016.  So that's why I hired the trainer, manager, and I try to prepare in 2016.

Q.  You've done 35 consecutive holes without a bogey.  And I know you got off to a good start today.  Are there any hole that you look at the rest of the day today where you got lucky not to bogey or where you maybe should have had a birdie besides the ones you did?
NA YEON CHOI:  I think only 15 I had kind of like kind of had bogey situation.  You know, I hit to the fairway, but I pulled it for a second shot, and then it wasn't easy bunker shot, and my par putt was like almost 20 feet.  But I made it and then I got some, you know, momentum from there.
           
And next hole I got birdie so I finished 5‑under.  But you know, I had a great round today, but still, I feel like kind of a little left something.  You know, I missed a couple birdie putts out there.  So you know, even tomorrow my caddy is great this week, so I try tomorrow focus on my putting.

Q.  How good of a ball‑striking event has this been for you so far?  I mean you look at your stats and it's amazing the amount of greens you've hit.
NA YEON CHOI:  Even last week in Hawaii I hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens.  Just my putting didn't go in.  I think I didn't tell you, but last week after second round in Hawaii I changed my putting grip.  I used to be grip right-hand-low, but I changed to close to hand, so left hand is lower than my right hand.
           
Like 10 or almost 12 years ago I did maybe like two months practice with this grip.  But I just changed it immediately, and I finished strong last week, you know, third round I shoot 5‑under par and then 6‑under par on the last round.
           
So I mean it works, you know.  I changed the grip.  A lot of people say you are very brave to change during the tournament.  But I did and I got good results, and even this week I am doing great.


Christina Kim, Rolex Rankings No. 263

Q.  Christina, that's your lowest number since Kingsmill last year.  The golf course has been firm and fast.  How tricky is it out there?
CHRISTINA KIM:  You know, the golf course is ‑‑ it's really difficult to put into words.  It's very atypical for a golf course we play on tour in my opinion because you have to ‑‑ it really requires you to hit the ball right, hit the ball left, hit it high, hit it low, downwind cross wind.  I mean you've got wind going 360 degrees and it's just ‑‑ it's remarkable.  The course is in immaculate condition.

Q.  Is it unfair at times or is it a fair test?
CHRISTINA KIM:  No.  I mean ‑‑ is golf fair?  Well, no, golf is.

Q.  No.  This golf course.
CHRISTINA KIM:  I know, but is the game itself ‑‑ well, no.  I guess it is.  That's actually a bad comment.
           
No, I don't think it's unfair, you know.  I think that it's just ‑‑ it's challenging and you ‑‑ if you hit a perfect shot, you're going to be rewarded.  You will never hit a perfect shot and then end up inside of a tree or something like that.  You know, I think the course is very fair.  It's very demanding is the best way to put it.  It's probably one of the hardest courses we get to play all year, and it's just been ‑‑ it's been a thrill.

Q.  Let's take a look at some of your highlights from today.  I think probably your best moment of the day, 17.
CHRISTINA KIM:  Well, I was playing with Moira Dunn and Julieta Granada, and they both hit the putt short, so definitely had to give it a little bit of something, and then a little bit of fire was back in me there.  I was pretty pleased with that.
           
But yeah, no, it was a great putt, great round.  I mean I just had a lot of fun and it's remarkable, I mean one, how many fans there are out this week as well as just the fact that they've had like 70 days to put this tournament together, and the fact that all the people that have really come together, so many people, volunteers, tournament staff.  Everyone's just been so welcoming, it feels like a tour stop we've been to for 20 years.  They've done a remarkable job.

Q.  You've talked a lot about the struggles away from the golf course that you've had with depression.  Does it make life easier when you're playing better golf?
CHRISTINA KIM:  I won't lie.  It does, but it's one of those things where sometimes if you're feeling well, you can play well, but at the same time if you're playing well, you can feel well.  It's one of those chicken‑or‑the‑egg kind of things.  It's something that I struggle with every day, but I've had some amazing days.  Every day has been just great for a long, long time.  So I'm in a wonderful place right now, and people ask about it and it's almost as if it's really hard to remember what it was like two years ago.  So I'm just ‑‑ I'm loving life right now.

Q.  Thank you.  Let's go out to the 15th.  So biggest keys to the round today.  What were you able to do that really got things working?
CHRISTINA KIM:  Well, you know, if nothing more I was really able to hit my driver well, you know, because there are a lot of really demanding tee shots and I was able to take advantage of a couple of corners because I'm starting to get my distance back, and you know, just ball striking more than anything, because I still missed a few putts out there, but not a lot.
           
But you know, just really being able to ‑‑ you know, we don't play a lot of courses where we're really able to, you know, enhance the fact that you can work the ball.  You know, a lot of times it's just straight on, on to the green and then it's a putting contest from there, but this one is requires a lot of imagination.  You have to play it left‑to‑right, you have to play it right‑to‑left.  You have to hit it high, hit it low, chase it up, make it stop.  I just think it's one of the best courses we get to play because we never work on those shots and I think it's great.

Q.  You're no stranger to finding yourself up near the top of the leaderboard.
CHRISTINA KIM:  It's been a few years.

Q.  It's been a little bit.  Any different approach that you take when you do go into the final day and see yourself up there within reach?
CHRISTINA KIM:  You know, I don't know if I have a different approach.  You know, bottom line is just, you know, I have to play smart, but you know, if I'm going to be six shots back, I mean you know, there's only so much you can do other than just try and make as many birdies as possible.  But you know, minimize mistakes, play smart and take the opportunities when they arise as opposed to trying to force it.

 

 

Topics: Notes and Interviews, Choi, Na Yeon, Ciganda, Carlota, Masson, Caroline, Park, Inbee, Kim, Christina, North Texas LPGA Shootout [+]

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