Mobile Bay LPGA Classic Final-Round Notes & Interviews

Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Jennifer Johnson poses with the trophy after winning the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic at the Crossings Course at the Robert Trent Jones Trail at Magnolia Grove on May 19, 2013 in Mobile, Alabama.

Mobile Bay LPGA Classic
RTJ Trail, Magnolia Grove, The Crossings
Mobile, Alabama
Final-Round Notes and Interviews
May 19, 2013

Jennifer Johnson -21, Rolex Rankings No. 78
Pronanong Phatlum -20, Rolex Rankings No. 50
Stacy Lewis -13, Rolex Rankings No. 2

Sunday’s Final-round Recap

Jennifer Johnson shot a final-round 7-under 65 to become a Rolex First-Time Winner at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic. The Carlsbad, Calif. native carded rounds of 67-70-65-65 to break the tournament record with a 21-under par 267 total and finished one stroke ahead of Pornanong Phatlum and Jessica Korda. A group of five players finished in a tie for fourth at 19-under par including Karrie Webb, Jiyai Shin, Ariya Juatnugarn, Chella Choi and Anna Nordqvist.

Johnson started the day three strokes off the lead heading into the final round and knew another solid day would be needed to even stay in contention. She carded four of her eight birdies on the front nine along with her lone bogey of the round on the par 4 5th hole. She made the turn at 17-under and one stroke behind Jessica Korda who played in the group following her. But it wasn’t until the final nine holes that Johnson really set her eye on the prize.

“I'm a little shocked, I didn't even realize I shot 65,” said Johnson. “The whole back nine was kind of like a ‑‑ I don't know, I don't know what was happening.  And yeah, the birdie putt on 17, that's when I started to think a little bit more about winning the tournament, on 17.  A little bit on the front nine, but you can't afford to think about that.”

Four groups ahead of Johnson, Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum pushed herself up with leaderboard with five birdies on the back nine including three-consecutive to close out the round as the clubhouse leader at 20-under. Johnson tried to keep track of the close race around her and as she went to finish on No. 17 at 20-under par, she knew it would come down to the last two holes.

“Oh, yeah, I was definitely aware,” said Johnson. “Before I hit my birdie putt on 17, I saw that Pornanong was tied with me at 20 and I didn't want a playoff so I was like, I'm going to make this thing.”

She sank the 15-foot birdie putt for the lead at 21-under and said her flatstick has been the part of her game holding her out of the winner’s circle. She switched to a new putter and changed her stroke during the off week following a missed cut at the Kingsmill Championship

“Yeah, the putter has kind of been the missing link all the tournaments because I'm hitting the ball so well and when they go in, it really helps score,” said Johnson. “Before this week I had experimented with more of a forward press and it just doesn't fit my style of putting.  So I worked with my coach on making it kind of more like a pendulum and this new putter that I put in play really emphasizes that, and so I can like stroke it easier and I don't have to work as hard to get it like rolling on line.”

Johnson had to wait out the final two groups to see if she would earn her first-career win. She looked to be lucky due to an untimely bogey by Jessica Korda on the 17th to drop her to 19-under and failure to convert on the final two holes by Karrie Webb, Chella Choi and Anna Nordqvist. Once Choi and Nordqvist failed to eagle the final hole, Johnson knew the title was hers. The first-time winner, who is known for a strict work ethic, said she will try to enjoy the victory but was already talking about her second win.

“Yeah, I'll try to, but I'm always like looking ahead,” said Johnson. “I've got to try and relax more. Oh, it means a lot.  Since I played my first tournament, I was 9, and when I was about 12 or 13 I wanted to play on the LPGA.  So like nine years, this is kind of what I've worked for.”

Well-fed and finish well: Jennifer Johnson seems to play well on a happy and full stomach and appreciates a good barbecue when she tastes one. Johnson, whose previous career-best finish came at the Navistar LPGA Classic in 2011, said that she loves playing in Alabama for its southern hospitality and delicious menu options.

“I think the barbecue has something to do with it because I'm a real foodie and like when I eat good, I'm happy,” said Johnson. “And in both these locations I've been eating barbecue and good tea and pudding and that has a lot to do with my mindset more than I think.”

Johnson and her father Mike hit one of the local favorite spots and said her best meal of the week came from the hole-in-the-wall joint

“We found the Shed, and it looks like a shed, but it's probably the best beans I've ever tasted, and the pulled chicken.”

Solheim statement: The countdown to the 2013 Solheim Cup is on and with eight events remaining to earn points toward the team, Texan Stacy Lewis continues to maintain a commanding lead in the race, but Jennifer Johnson makes a statement by earning 60 points with her win on Sunday. She currently ranks 10th in points with 140.

“My caddie and I, it's been in the back of our minds and we're trying to get as many points as we can rack up,” said Johnson. “Hopefully Meg will notice me a little more now.” 

2013 U.S. Solheim Cup Point Standings

Rank    Player Name                 Points
1          Stacy Lewis                 783.50  
2          Cristie Kerr                  408.00  
3          Paula Creamer              379.50  
4          Angela Stanford            297.00  
5          Brittany Lincicome        215.00  
6          Lexi Thompson            192.00  
7          Jessica Korda              190.50  
8          Lizette Salas                168.00  
9          Brittany Lang               154.00  
10        Jennifer Johnson          140.00  

The top eight spots will automatically qualify for the team. Spots nine and 10 on the 2013 U.S. Solheim Cup Team will be determined by the Rolex Rankings which will be updated on Monday morning. Additionally, U.S. Team Captain Meg Mallon will have two picks to round out the squad.

Kia Drive to the Top: With her ninth place finish, Stacy Lewis tallies another top-10 finish this week and keeps her lead in the Kia Performance Awards “Drive to the Top” category for most top-10s. She now has eight top-10 finishes in 10 events played this season and extends her lead to three over Inbee Park. Lewis claimed the inaugural Kia Drive to the Top award in 2012 and drove away with a brand-new Kia Optima at the Tour’s season-finale at the CME Group Titleholders in Naples, Fla.

Golden ticket winners: Jennifer Johnson, Karrie Webb and Anna Nordqvist punched their "Ticket to CME Group Titleholders" at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic, each earning a spot in the season-ending CME Group Titleholders event, which will be held Nov. 21-24, 2012 in Naples, Fla. The third-annual CME Group Titleholders is a season finale with a field made up of three qualifiers from every LPGA Tour tournament.

Jennifer Johnson, Rolex Rankings No. 78

Post-round Interview
Q.  The round you put together today was the round and everything that came through my earpiece, you were being very aggressive.  Was that the game plan from the outset?
JENNIFER JOHNSON:  Yeah, definitely.  The greens are holding, so most of the greens you can go at the pin so there were the lot of birdie chances.

Q.  Two missed cut this year, including the last event you played.  Did you feel something like this was getting near?
JENNIFER JOHNSON:  You know, I hit the ball really well.  It was like when I missed the cut I felt like I should be playing.  And I went and saw my coach right away in Florida and worked some things out, I put the spaceship putter in the bag and now the putts are going in.

Q.  It's all about the spaceship?
JENNIFER JOHNSON:  Definitely.

Q.  The two missed cuts but only two rounds below 70 thus far this year; today what could be the biggest round of your entire career?
JENNIFER JOHNSON:  Yeah, the putter has kind of been the missing link all the tournaments because I'm hitting the ball so well and when they go in, it really helps score.

Q.  What are you going to do now?
JENNIFER JOHNSON:  I'm just going to the range and keep my head in it and hopefully I win.

Media Center Interview

MODERATOR:  All right.  I'd like to welcome in our 2013 Mobile Bay LPGA Classic champion, Jennifer Johnson.  Jennifer, awesome weekend, 6565 to close out.  Just talk about how you're feeling right now.  You've obviously got to calm down a little bit, but just talk about your overall emotions, your first career win.
JENNIFER JOHNSON:  Yeah, I'm a little shocked, I didn't even realize I shot 65.  The whole back nine was kind of like a ‑‑ I don't know, I don't know what was happening.  And yeah, the birdie putt on 17, that's when I started to think a little bit more about winning the tournament, on 17.  A little bit on the front nine, but you can't afford to think about that. 

MODERATOR:  Stacy spoke to us afterwards, she said I don't even think she knew what was going on really, which I think is a good thing, maybe you were just in the zone ‑‑
JENNIFER JOHNSON:  Yeah. 

MODERATOR:  ‑‑ not thinking about anything else.  You're coming off a cut, you missed the cut the last event at Kingsmill.  What was your mindset coming into this week?  Did you think I just want to get back on track, did you think you had a chance at winning?  What was the overall thought coming in?
JENNIFER JOHNSON:  At Kingsmill I didn't feel like I was myself and I missed the cut so I flew that weekend and worked with my coach in Florida and put a new putter in play and I've been playing well, so it was kind of like I knew I could do good here. 

MODERATOR:  What was the putter situation?  What was the old putter and what's the new putter?
JENNIFER JOHNSON:  Well, I was putting with kind of a traditional blade style putter and I went to a Futura, which it looks like a spaceship, I call it the spaceship, and it's just flowing better with my stroke, more like a pendulum and it just feels good. 

MODERATOR:  Knew tournament record, 21under, that's a heck of a week.  What's the best memory that you can look back at on right that you're going to probably remember for a long time?
JENNIFER JOHNSON:  That's a tough one.  I would say like all the birdies on the back nine because, I mean, they kept moving me up the leaderboard.  I mean, maybe the 5‑wood I hit into 16 because the ball was below my feet and I just hit this beautiful shot and I felt pretty confident after that.

MODERATOR:  You said you didn't really know what was going on, you were kind of in a blur.  Did you look at the leaderboards at all?  I know everybody here was scrambling seeing who was where.  How did you manage kind of that back nine and seeing where people were?  Did you look at all at the leaderboard?
JENNIFER JOHNSON:  Oh, yeah, I was definitely aware.  Before I hit my birdie putt on 17, I saw that Pornanong was tied with me at 20 and I didn't want a playoff so I was like, I'm going to make this thing.

Q.  Can you go through your birdie putts on the back nine, just how long they were?
JENNIFER JOHNSON:  Yeah, let's see.  The ones I made?  Well, 13 was like four inches.  14 was about 12 feet.  And then 16, well, I 2‑putted for birdie, so it was like a foot.  17 was about 15 feet.

Q.  When I first saw your dad right off of the green, he said it's been a long road.  The reality though, you would be a senior in college right now, I think?  You really haven't been doing this that long.  Do you feel like it was a long road to get here or are you just kind of stunned by the whole thing?
JENNIFER JOHNSON:  Yeah, in some ways it's been a long road, but in other ways it's flown by.  Yeah, I can't believe it, I'm so excited.

Q.  And then can you just kind of talk about the pendulum stroke, going back to that, and why that feels good to you?  Obviously putting was a huge key for you this week?
JENNIFER JOHNSON:  Yeah, before this week I had experimented with more of a forward press and it just doesn't fit my style of putting.  So I worked with my coach on making it kind of more like a pendulum and this new putter that I put in play really emphasizes that, and so I can like stroke it easier and I don't have to work as hard to get it like rolling on line.

Q.  Have you thought much about the Solheim Cup?  This year you just kind of vaulted up a little bit in the standings with your win.
JENNIFER JOHNSON:  Yeah, my caddie and I, it's been in the back of our minds and we're trying to get as many points as we can rack up.  Hopefully Meg will notice me a little more now. 

MODERATOR:  Now, from the projections it looks like you'll be pushed to 50 in the Rolex Rankings.  I think earlier at Kia during the photo shoot, they asked about goals and you said I want to get Top 10.  You're inching up a little bit.  Where do you think this is going to push you in your career in terms of just playing better, confidence level to hopefully achieve that goal in the near future?
JENNIFER JOHNSON:  Oh, yeah, it's definitely going to help my confidence and I just want to keep getting better.  Like with my swing, I like where it's going, and my putting, I just want to keep getting more consistent with that, and I think getting a second win will be huge because get as many wins as you can.

MODERATOR:  Your previous best finish was tied for 8th up in Prattville.  So playing well in Alabama, just talk about playing in this state, playing on the Trail, and your thoughts on the state of Alabama and the nice Southern hospitality here.
JENNIFER JOHNSON:  I think the barbecue has something to do with it because I'm a real foodie and like when I eat good, I'm happy.  And in both these locations I've been eating barbecue and good tea and pudding and that has a lot to do with my mindset more than I think.

MODERATOR:  What was your favorite thing on the menu this week?
JENNIFER JOHNSON:  We found the Shed, and it looks like a shed, but it's probably the best beans I've ever tasted, and the pulled chicken.

MODERATOR:  Like baked beans?
JENNIFER JOHNSON:  Yeah.

MODERATOR:  So baked beans and pulled chicken?  Any other questions for Jennifer?

Q.  Was that a golf tournament today that you were in, because coming down the stretch the way the people in front of you and you were dropping bogeys on the back nine, it almost felt like a horse race or a track meet or a heavyweight fight, like you kept punching each other.  What did it feel like out on the golf course?
JENNIFER JOHNSON:  It was pretty intense for me.  I was telling my caddie, man, I haven't seen that much tension on a golf course in a while.  And he's telling me what, what's intense?  So he was trying to keep me loose, crack some jokes.  I know what you're saying, it was like birdies after birdies and you had to keep making them to keep up.

Q.  You already mentioned trying to get your second victory.  Can you even enjoy this one?
JENNIFER JOHNSON:  Yeah, I'll try to, but I'm always like looking ahead.  I've got to try and relax more.

Q.  What does it mean to win for the first time?
JENNIFER JOHNSON:  Oh, it means a lot.  Since I played my first tournament, I was 9, and when I was about 12 or 13 I wanted to play on the LPGA.  So like nine years, this is kind of what I've worked for.

MODERATOR:  Your dad's in the room.  What did he have to say to you right after?  I'm sure he gave you a big hug.
JENNIFER JOHNSON:  Actually he didn't give me.  He gets out on the back nine because he has to do a long drive, but he said, Good job, champ.

Q.  Is that your usual nickname?
JENNIFER JOHNSON:  He calls me that a lot.

MODERATOR:  Moving forward, Bahamas next week?
JENNIFER JOHNSON:  Definitely, looking forward to the water slide.

Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 2

Q.  This was a crazy shootout.
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah.

Q.  So many people in it, it was hard to keep track.  Were you keeping track or were you just trying to make birdies?
STACY LEWIS:  I was just trying to make birdies.  It wasn't really until probably the last five or six holes that I really started paying attention to what people were doing.  You just try to make as many birdies as you could.  It was fun there at the end, though, because Jennifer was making putts and I don't think she realized what she was doing.  I told her when I hugged her, I said, I think you just won yourself a golf tournament, and she's kind of like, what?  It was really cute.  But she played great today and hopefully she ‑‑ she deserves this if she pulls this out.

Q.  She just called her putter a spaceship.  Kind of talk about her putting.  She said that's been the missing link I guess up until this week.
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, I never really played much with her truthfully, and I mean, she hit it great, didn't really put herself in any bad positions.  The putts she made down the stretch were not easy putts.  It's not like she was hitting it to three feet every time.  She birdied 13 and 14, that was kind of the momentum she needed to finish it out.

Q.  So for you, I mean, how would you assess the day?
STACY LEWIS:  I mean, it was pretty good.  I shot 14‑under on the weekend, which is never a bad thing.  I guess unfortunately I was too far behind to start the weekend so that was kind of the problem.  I'm playing well.  It's just hard on a day like this when everybody's going low to really ‑‑ you know, to think that I have a pretty good shot at this.

Q.  Another Top 10, that's your ‑‑
STACY LEWIS:  Even birdieing those last two?

Q.  She's a quiet person in general.  Did she talk much out there?
STACY LEWIS:  No, we didn't talk much.  We had some waits on the tees so we tried to make small talk just to keep it light.  I know what it's like in that position, so you don't want it to be so quiet and awkward.

Pornanong Phatlum, Rolex Rankings No. 50

Q.  I just saw a third straight day you started with a bogey, but you got things rolling obviously.  You didn't look back after the first bogey.
PORNANONG PHATLUM:  Yeah, I think like the 1st hole I 3‑putt like, yeah.  Every day, 3‑putt.

Q.  You 3putted every 1st hole?
PORNANONG PHATLUM:  Yeah.  Just the thing about the 1st hole, just keep going with what I have to do.

Q.  Finished three straight birdies.  Did you know you had to finish out that strong to stay in contention?
PORNANONG PHATLUM:  I don't know, I just concentrate on my game and do what I have to do and try my best, yeah, and putting very good today, so like just didn't have pressure on myself today.

Q.  Did you keep track of where you were getting up and down?
PORNANONG PHATLUM:  A little bit.

Q.  Not too much but just a little bit?
PORNANONG PHATLUM:  Yes.

Q.  Was there a certain point where you knew you had to make a lot more birdies down the stretch to stay in contention?  Was there a certain point in the round, do you think?  Was there a point where you thought I need to get things going?
PORNANONG PHATLUM:  Yeah, I have to make more birdies.  I think like I want to make Top 10 this week, like that, yeah.

Q.  So you must be pretty excited?
NG PHATLUM:  Yeah, very excited, yeah.

Q.  What will you do now?  You're at the top here, but there's a couple more holes.  Are you going to go practice, wait things out?
PORNANONG PHATLUM:  Yeah, I have to wait.

Q.  Can you go through your last three birdies, what you did to make birdie on those three?
PORNANONG PHATLUM:  I hitting very close to the pin on 16.

Q.  How close was your putt?
PORNANONG PHATLUM:  On 16, like oh, that par 5, right?  I hit two feet, just like two feet.  On par 3 it's about 15 feet.

Q.  How long was this one?
PORNANONG PHATLUM:  It's about the same, 15 feet, a little less.

Q.  You seem very calm.
PORNANONG PHATLUM:  Yeah.

Q.  The emotions aren't going crazy right now a little bit?
PORNANONG PHATLUM:  Like, yeah, excited.

 

Topics: Notes and Interviews, Airbus LPGA Classic, Johnson, Jennifer, Phatlum, Pornanong, Lewis, Stacy [+]

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