North Texas LPGA Shootout
Las Colinas Country Club
Pre-tournament Notes and Interviews
April 23, 2013
The LPGA Tour returns to the Lone Star State this week for the inaugural North Texas Shootout in Irving, Texas. The tournament marks the first time in more than 20 years the LPGA will play in the region and will feature several unique aspects compared to the typical tournament week.
With a $1.3 million purse, the North Texas LPGA Shootout will feature a full-field of 144 players contending over four days of 72-hole stroke play competition. The “shootout” format of the tournament will consist of two cuts; the first will be made after the second round to the top-70 and ties, and the second cut will be made to the top-50 and ties after the third round on Saturday.
The Comforts of Home. Greater Dallas-Fort Worth natives Angela Stanford and Brittany Lang are playing a “home game” this week at the North Texas LPGA Shootout. Stanford, a native of Saginaw resident, and Lang, a McKinney resident, are each sleeping in their own beds in preparation for the LPGA’s first tournament in Dallas in more than 20 years.
It’s the simple pleasures of home that are making Stanford happy this week.
“Wow, this is what normal people do,” she said. “They go to work and come home and get to be in their own home. Just driving your own car over. Yesterday I laid by my pool. Just stuff like that. I would have been in a hotel doing that at a hotel.
For Lang, being at home offers the convenience that most take for granted.
“Just something as simple as doing your laundry at your own house,” she said.
Other players with Texas ties in the field this week include:
Stacy Lewis (former resident of The Woodlands)
Katie Futcher (The Woodlands resident)
Gerina Piller (University of Texas, El Paso graduate and Plano resident)
Candie Kung (Allen resident)
Heather Bowie Young (Fort Worth resident)
Wendy Ward (born in San Antonio)
Julie Boland (lives in Bryan)
Taylor Karle (from Dallas)
Lisa McCloskey (lives in Houston)
Enjoying the ride: This is just the second week that Inbee Park has held the title of the No. 1 player in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. But while Park remains focused on maintaining that spot in the rankings, she hasn’t changed the approach that has gotten her to this point.
Since the Wegmans LPGA Championship last June, Park has put on an incredible display of golf and has proven to be one of most consistent players on the LPGA Tour. She’s tallied four wins and 11 additional top-10s over that stretch. And when asked what the difference has been in her game, Park doesn’t hesitate to say that it was a change in her approach to the life of an LPGA Tour professional.
“I didn't enjoy the traveling and the golfing that much,” Park said. “After winning [the 2008) U.S. Open I was struggling a lot, and it was kind of tough traveling everywhere with my game struggling. I started to travel with my fiance two years ago, and that made me travel a lot easier. That made me a lot more happy. I started to enjoy golf again. I think that was the main change. My game and my putting was everything getting better. My striking skills, short game, putting. Everything was just going in a positive way.”
Part of enjoying the travel with her fiance has been exploring the various areas where tournaments are held. This week in Texas it’s meant taking trips to nearby Koreatown in Dallas.
“So here is always something good to eat,” Park said with a smile. “I'm enjoying myself, yes.”
Unique opportunity: In addition to the 140 pros who will tee it up this week at Los Colinas Country Club for the North Texas LPGA Shootout, a total of four amateur players had the opportunity to earn spots in the field through a qualifying “Collegiate Shootout” in mid-March and a “High School Shootout” that took place this week.
Tournament exemptions in the Collegiate Shootout were given to Madison Pressel of the University of Texas and Casey Grice of the University of North Carolina after each carded an even-par 71. Hayley Mills, 18, of Fort Worth, Texas shot 1-under-par 70 to win the High School Shootout, while Taylor Coleman, 16, of San Antonio, Texas fired a 1-over-par 72 to finish second.
“It's amazing how much better the talent has gotten in this area,” Angela Stanford said. “When I went to TCU ‑‑ I don't know how to word this. It wasn't like I was having to beat out multiple girls. Now you have to be one of the best to go there. So in the 15, 20 years, it's changed so much. I'm so proud of this area, how it's gotten better and better and better and they are producing ‑‑ Texas in general just produces amazing talent.”
And now that talent will be on display at this week’s event as these players get the chance to tee it up with some of their idols and fulfill a dream of getting the chance to play on the LPGA Tour.
“It's cool that they get that opportunity,” Stanford added. “We talked about this earlier when we were here this year. That's an opportunity that most don't get. I didn't get. My first LPGA event was my first event on Tour at 22. So for them to get this experience and walk inside the ropes is pretty cool.”
Sister Act: The week’s event will provide an extra special setting for college qualifier Madison Pressel who will not only be making her LPGA Tour debut but she’ll be joining her sister and two-time LPGA winner, Morgan, for the first time in a tournament setting.
The two sisters were scheduled to play a practice round together on Tuesday and there was no doubt that Morgan is a very proud big sister this week.
“It’s going to be very exciting for her playing in her first event,” Morgan Pressel said. “This is her dream and I remember when I played in my first tournaments how exciting it was to soak it all in and it kind of became a reality that this is something I could do for a living. I hope she gets a great experience this week.”
Of course there will likely be some sisterly advice being passed along as well during their practice together.
“With all of her tournaments she sends me notes and says oh my gosh, I putted poorly today what do you think?” Morgan Pressel said. “We kind of go back and forth that way. I’ve seen her play a lot of golf so I know her game pretty well.”
Quotable…“I think they're going to walk away being very impressed. I hope that they come out and support the event. I think they'll really like it. I've always said this area was missing the boat not having an LPGA Tour here, so it's about time. And I think people will really embrace us. I think they'll have a great time. I think people will walk away saying, Man, I hope they come back.” – Current Fort Worth resident Angela Stanford on the LPGA Tour returning to the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
Tweet of the Day: “Played 9 holes today with Haley Mills in the cold and wind! She's a fellow Jim McLean student and a great player.” -- @Lexi (Lexi Thompson) on playing with one of the high school qualifiers for this week’s event in Dallas.
Of Note…The two players to earn their way into the field this week via the Monday qualifier were Sophia Sheridan and Amelia Lewis, who both shot 70…This week’s field features 49 of the top 50 players on this year’s LPGA Official Money List.
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Rolex Rankings No 1, Inbee Park, into the interview room. First off, still must be pretty good to hear the No. 1 ranked player in the world in front of your name.
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I'm still not used to it. It's only been two weeks. Yeah, for sure I'm really happy with that.
I'm very happy with the way I played last week with the pressure. Yeah, I had a great week last week with family. I had a great time.
MODERATOR: Just take me through, I mean, been No. 1 in the world, Stacy had been No. 1 and we knew it was a close battle coming into the last few weeks. You became No. 1 following an off week and were a little surprised by the news, and then last week knowing there was kind of a 3‑player race between and you Stacy and Yani to see who could be No. 1 at the end of the week. Is it something that you think about when you go out there and play when you've got that No. 1 ranking within reach, or is it something that just kind of happens and you're more focused on what you can do playing‑wise in the tournament?
INBEE PARK: Well, I mean, I am concerned about No. 1 just because I could lose No. 1 spot in one week or two weeks. I mean, I try not to think about it too much, but it's in my mind for sure.
That's something I play for every week. I'm just very honored that I can play for No. 1 every week. Just happy to be one of the players that plays for No. 1. Yeah, that's very good and something very special.
MODERATOR: A five‑time winner on the LPGA Tour, two wins already this year. Since last summer really, at the beginning of the summer, you really have been putting together a fantastic stretch of golf, so consistent.
What has changed in your game over the past year, and what has led to the ability to put together these stretches?
INBEE PARK: I think the most thing that was changed was how I approach the game of golf. I didn't enjoy the traveling and the golfing that much. After winning U.S. Open I was struggling a lot, and it was kind of tough traveling everywhere with my game struggling.
I start to travel with my fiance two years ago, and that made me travel a lot easier. That made me a lot more happy. I started to enjoy golf again. I think that was the main change.
My game and my putting was everything getting better. My biking skills, short game, putting. Everything was just going in a positive way.
MODERATOR: And your fiance is also your swing coach, correct?
INBEE PARK: Yeah. He help me a lot with the swings, too.
MODERATOR: What's it like having him travel with you? Is it something else to concentrate off the golf course as well? It's sometimes hard not to take what happens on the golf course that day home, but does that change how you approach things?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I just try to enjoy things every week, not just on the golf course but off the golf course. Go somewhere nice to eat or sightseeing. That's something I never done before for four or five years on the road. Never done that.
Really enjoying myself the last couple years.
MODERATOR: This is your first time in the Dallas area, at least on the LPGA Tour, since we haven't been here in about 20 years. What does it mean to have events come to new places like this, and how great is it to be in Dallas this week?
INBEE PARK: It's a very good golf town, Texas. I came here when I was younger, very younger to play junior tournaments. I know a lot of good LPGA players are from Texas.
You know, this is very great golfing town. Just fun to come here again and just play. Great memories when I was younger. It's a great place to be. It's very close to Koreatown in Dallas, so there is always good to eat. I'm enjoying myself, yes.
Q. You just touched on it, but I was going to ask you about Koreatown. That's pretty impressive, isn't it, all the stuff that's out there?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I was actually really surprised in how the golf course is that close from the Koreatown and also from the airport. It's very comfortable and a lot to see. Yesterday I went first time and got myself is new laptop UltraBook. I'm fooling around with that this week, so it's fun.
Q. There have been very few players that have claimed the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Rankings. Have you identified something consistent among the No. 1 players that you hope to kind of continue?
INBEE PARK: I mean, it would be nice if I could continue for a long time in the No. 1 spot, but No. 1 spot is some spot that you got to come down at some point. You can't be No. 1 forever.
So what I'm trying to do is just try to do my best every week and just, like I said, happy that I could actually play for No. 1 every week. I'm very honored that I'm one of the five, six players fighting for No. 1 every week. That's a very special place to be.
Q. Is there a part of your game that you're trying to improve on or that you've identified that will keep you at No. 1?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, my weakest part of my game is ball‑striking skills. I think my short game, putting, is much better than ball‑striking skills. That's been the part of my game that I've always been working on. That's been something that I always want to improve.
Yeah, that's something that I always work to get better and better.
Q. Have you been able to see the course at all?
INBEE PARK: Yeah. I played yesterday and nine holes today. Yeah, opposite wind from yesterday to today. Yesterday course was playing a lot shorter, and today it's playing a lot longer.
I only played the back nine today, and I was hitting like 5‑irons on pretty much every hole. With the wind and cold it was playing very tough on the back nine.
I think it's all going to be depending on the weather and the wind this week.
Q. (Question regarding a winning score prediction.)
INBEE PARK: If the conditions are good, I think somewhere around like 12‑, 13‑under. If the weather is staying this way, I think like 7 to 8 I think, yeah.
It played quite tough for me today.
Q. You said 12‑ or 13‑under. Is there a fair score that identifies the champion from the standpoint of excitement? Suzann was I think 20‑under last week. How important is that to play a course that you can make a lot of birdies on?
INBEE PARK: I mean, it is very good for the fans that they could see a lot of birdies out there a lot of reachable par‑5s.
To my standpoint, I like the courses that are like 12‑, 13‑under par instead of like 20‑, 25‑under pars. It's tough to make seven, eight birdies every day, even you're really good professional.
I like little bit of challenge on the golf course, which this golf course has. Fairways, you have to really position yourself good and pick a really good target. It has its good part and challenging part of the course here.
Q. Given the conditions that can be out there sometimes, are you going to be challenging a lot of pins this week?
INBEE PARK: Well, greens are fairly soft at the moment, so if you're in fairway I think you can attack the pins here. But if you're in the rough, there is a lot really tough fairways that lead you into the trees and into the rough.
So it's going to be I think up to really hitting the fairways out here.
MODERATOR: Inbee, as we talked about you being in the group players that can be at No. 1, what do you think that does for the tour in terms having a number of players out there competing for the top spot? Yani was No. 1 for so long. To see so many players playing well, is it fun to be a part of challenge and see such great golf being played?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I think so, because every week is unexpected. Anybody can become No. 1. Not anybody, but a lot of different player can become No. 1. A lot of different player can be No. 1 in this time of period.
A lot of player, it makes a lot of players happy and a lot of fans happy. They can't expect only this person to win and she's going to run away with the win. You can't really expect that in this kind of situation.
I think this makes us interesting and the fans interesting also, I think.
MODERATOR: Okay, good afternoon, everyone. We are joined here today at the North Texas LPGA Shootout by two very special people who are familiar to most of you, I'm sure, as they are locals. They know you're very excited to be back here in Texas.
We have Angela Stanford, a five‑time LPGA tour winner and a Saginaw, Texas native who resides in Forth Worth.
Then we have, to her right, Brittany Lang, a McKinney, Texas native who became a Rolex first‑time winner last year at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic.
Ladies, welcome. Thank you so much for joining us this afternoon. Just talk first of being here in Texas in the Dallas area for the first time in about 20 years.
The LPGA I know is happy to be back. I'm sure both of you get to stay at home and get to enjoy being at home, it must be even sweeter to be back in this area.
ANGELA STANFORD: Yeah, I think so. It's great to be home. I'm glad the LPGA is here. You know, I spend most of my time all year telling people how great it is here, so it's nice to have the whole gang here.
It was a little odd getting off the airplane from Hawaii, because usually I will see B. Lang or Gerina at the airport, but like the whole tour was following me. I was like, Where you guys going?
So it's been different, but it's been fun so far.
BRITTANY LANG: Yes, I'm extremely happy to be here. I know the weather is gonna be good, but it's so nice to sleep in your own bed for the whole tournament week and be home.
I am going to have a lot of the family and friends out, and that's super exciting. They don't have to travel. They get to come out and see what the LPGA has to offer, so I'm excited for them.
MODERATOR: We know this is such a great golf area. Getting back, what do you want these golf fans to know about the LPGA this week?
ANGELA STANFORD: Well, I think they're going to walk away being very impressed. The thing people have to remember is, you know, I know they see the best men players in the world twice a year here in the Metroplex, and now you're going to get to see the best female players in the world.
I think they're going to walk away being very impressed. I hope that they come out and support the event. I think they'll really like it. I've always said this area was missing the boat not having an LPGA Tour here, so it's about time.
And I think people will really embrace us. I think they'll have a great time. I think people will walk away saying, Man, I hope they come back.
MODERATOR: Angela, I know you're a big sports fan and you're a big Texas Rangers fan. I know you were hoping to get home from Hawaii and see a little sports before you got into the busy week as well. Did you get to the game the other night?
ANGELA STANFORD: I did. The flight was delayed, but got here, ran home, got the tickets, went back to the ballpark. It was great.
They won 11 to 3, so a lot of home runs. Won again last night. It's great. Too bad they're not here. Yes, I do love going to the baseball game. B. Lang is a Ranger fan, so...
BRITTANY LANG: Need to be a better. That's my 2013 goal.
MODERATOR: Brittany, last year you became a first time winner, first player from Duke University to win out here on the LPGA Tour. Tell me about the experience of getting that wi and how has that kind of helped you going forward since then out here on tour.
BRITTANY LANG: Yeah, it was such a great experience. I say it all the time, that I had a putt to win. I was so nervous. The fact that I had the chance to learn and go play in a playoff and have that experience just to contend for the tournament again after missing that putt, I was so thankful.
I played great. I was extremely nervous with the putt to win, but I composed myself very well during the playoff and learned a lot.
It's definitely given me a lot of confidence going forward. I just finally proved I could do it. Just made me a lot more comfortable.
Q. You guys mentioned finally having a home game out here. What are some of the differences between this week and, say, another tour event? How many tickets do you have to give out, that kind of stuff?
ANGELA STANFORD: I put my mom in charge of that, yeah.
Well, I don't know. You know, there have been a number of little things. Even just last night thinking, Wow, this is what normal people do. They go to work and come home and get to be in their own home. Just driving your own car over.
Yesterday I laid by my pool. Just stuff like that. I would have been in a hotel doing that at a hotel. Just things like that.
And the tickets, the tournament has been very gracious. You know, like I say, I put my mom in charge. I told everybody, You have until Monday this week to tell us if you're coming. You don't want to be in the middle of the week running looking for tickets.
So my family has always been a big help. So my mom is in charge, yeah.
BRITTANY LANG: Just the simple fact ‑ I was thinking about it Monday ‑ just getting to do my laundry at my house. Normally you're doing it somewhere or getting it done. It's just something as simple is that, doing your laundry at your own house.
I've given a lot friends tickets, and I'm going to make a run back to McKinney this afternoon and dump off a bunch of tickets. Hopefully a lot of people come out and watch. Yeah, it's going to great to have family and friends here. They don't have to travel to see the LPGA play, and I think they're going to have a really, really fun week and learn how approachable the girls are. We have a great group of girls, so I think they'll be able to see that.
Q. If you could say just one thing to these young girls, what would you say to them to help them in their future lives, golf and otherwise?
ANGELA STANFORD: Golf‑related I would say you just ‑‑ I would say, Watch from like 100 yards and in. If they're younger golfers out here, I think the short games out are phenomenal. The ladies can chip and putt with the best men in the world.
Also, I mean off the course just surround yourself with solid, positive people. I think kids kind of get in the wrong crowd sometimes, so just surround yourself with some positive people.
BRITTANY LANG: I was sitting at dinner when you said that. Angela spoke to us when I was at the junior tournament, and she said that. She said, Surround yourself with positive people. I've always done that. I remember that was probably...
ANGELA STANFORD: I'm not that much older than you, so...
BRITTANY LANG: I was probably 15 or 16. But when she said that, you know it's a great piece of advice. I would agree with that, especially if you have goals to be somewhere. You can't do it unless you surround yourself with positive people.
I would also tell the girls to always make sure you're having fun in golf. You'll always be more successful that way.
Q. Do you anticipate a little bit more pressure on your own game, the fact that you're playing in your own back yard and you want to do well in front of the family and friends?
BRITTANY LANG: Yeah, for sure. I can already feel it. I'm trying to do a few little things to calm down and remember it's still a tournament. Of course we want to play good for our family and friends. You want to do your best so they can watch you and say, That's our hometown girl.
At the same time, you get to get back to your process and get back to what you're doing.
ANGELA STANFORD: I totally agree with that. As Brittany said, it's still a tournament for us. It's the second week out of three. All your family and friends want the best out of you because this is the one time they get to see you.
So there is extra pressure in that, because you want to play your best for them. But once you get out here and you in your routine, you block all that out.
Q. So you've had a chance to play the course in practice rounds. How does it set up for your game?
BRITTANY LANG: I like this golf course a lot. I think it sets up good for me. It's in great shape. It requires a lot different shot making. Ever since the first time I saw it ‑ I came out with Angela in the wintertime ‑ I knew I liked it. It fit my eye.
I wouldn't say it was made for me, but I think it's a good course for me. Definitely living here, being able to play it a few times, the greens are a little tricky, so I've learned a lot playing those few extra rounds. That gave me a little bit of an edge.
ANGELA STANFORD: That does help if you can see it. The more you can see this course the more comfortable you'll be.
Off the tee it looks like you can hit it anywhere but you really want can't. If you want to score, there are certain places you probably need to be in the fairways. One kind of slopes a little bit.
So the more you see that the better off you are. You have to hit some different shots. The greens are ‑‑ I love the greens. They're very similar to the course I play in Fort Worth, I think it's a great golf course for our Tour, yes.
Q. Angela, talk about Mike Wright. I guess Gerina is now working with him, too. What has he been able to bring to your game?
ANGELA STANFORD: Oh, Mr. Wright. He's one of the best. And I think people, it's like he's a hidden gem over there. You know, when I went to him, I told him that I understand that there are many different ways people can tell me how to fix my golf swing, but I wanted to know from him.
We've been working together since the end of '05. Now we're at a point where he can help me with my golf swing, but he helps my with perspective, too. He's really helped me so far this wee. He met me out here yesterday morning. I didn't have a very good week last week.
I don't know, he just always seems to know what to say. He can be very mechanical or he can be completely on the other end of the spectrum. That's what I told Gerina he's not going to say, You need to do this, you need to change this. He's going to get a feel and work with you.
I think he sees the whole picture. I think a lot times teachers just say, You need to do this. He tries to see all the circumstances that you're dealing with.
That's where he's helped me the older I've gotten. Just helps me keep things in perspective.
MODERATOR: I wanted to ask the two of you, this week is providing a unique experience for college and high school players. We had a college and high school shootout yesterday. Being from the area and knowing the amount of young talent that comes out of this area, what do you think that experience is going to be like for some of those young girls to get the opportunity to play with the pros that they look up and to compete out here and get a taste of what it's like on the LPGA Tour?
ANGELA STANFORD: It's amazing how much better talent has gotten in this area. I got to make sure I say this the right way.
When I went to TCU ‑‑ I don't know how to word this. It wasn't like I was having to beat out multiple girls. Now you have to be one of the best to go there.
So in the 15, 20 years, it's changed so much. I'm so roud of this area, how it's gotten better and better and better and they are producing ‑‑ Texas in general just produces amazing talent.
So it's cool that they get that opportunity. We talked about this earlier when we were here this year. That's an opportunity that most don't get. I didn't get. My first LPGA event was my first event on tour at 22.
So for them to get this experience and walk inside the ropes is pretty cool.
BRITTANY LANG: Yeah, I agree with her. I got to play a few events, I think maybe three or four, I think, before I tee'd it up with my tour card. It is so beneficial for these girls to be able to do it at a high school or college level. That's really cool. It's a huge benefit.
Q. Along the same lines, talk about just how good this tour is now, especially with players all around the world. It's just gotten so tough to win these days, it seems like.
BRITTANY LANG: We were actually talking about that earlier. Same think Angela said. Just as the years go on, there is so much depth and it gets so competitive. I don't know what it is. It's true, there are so many good players. Anybody can win at any time. It's become being like the men's tour which is awesome.
I think there used to be a few dominant players 10, 15, 20, 30 years ago that seemed to win a lot; nowadays there is so much depth. I don't know why, but it's great for our tour.
ANGELA STANFORD: You know, I've said that in the last five, ten years, I mean, the number has changed. It used to be a handful of players could win. Now it could go down to ‑‑ you never know he's going to win out here.
The talent has gotten deeper. You know, I hate to talk about this, but the cut lines are different. My first few years on tour you would shoot 2‑, 3‑, 4‑over and make a cut; not anymore. You better be trying to win the golf tournament and be under par or you're not going to be hanging around.
BRITTANY LANG: True.
Q. There are 4 Americans in the top 20 of the Rolex Rankings; there are 10 on the men's side. What's the difference between the men and the women from the American's side of golf?
ANGELA STANFORD: I think it's just ‑ I don't know if exposure is the right word ‑ to just world golf. We've had the Koreans, Japanese, I mean, just all over the world we're having more people play on our tour.
I don't know if that's it. I don't know. In my opinion, I think the best players in the world want to play on the LPGA Tour. I think the men, there are so many men playing all over the world and so many different tours.
For the women, the best want to be on our tour. So in my mind, I think that's why that is. Does that answer your question?
MODERATOR: Speaking of American talent, we've seen in the last you few weeks, last week with Lizette Salas playing so well; we're preparing for a Solheim Cup year; couple months away until you're going to be in Denver playing for the United States and trying to get that Cup back. What have you seen from the young American talented players, and how excited are you to see this team come together?
BRITTANY LANG: Yeah, it's been great to see the young girls. I mean, Lizette has been playing great for so long. Jessica Korda, Lexi Thompson, they're so young and they're so good. We need it. It's fantastic.
I haven't been playing great lately and I know being on that team is definitely one of my goals. I am working hard for that, because I know those girls, they have been playing so consistently and so good.
But that's awesome for the U.S. team to have that, especially for the future.