ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer First Round Notes and Interviews

Amanda Blumenherst
Photo Credit: Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Amanda Blumenherst walks off the 18th green after finishing her round during round one of the ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club on May 31, 2013 in Galloway, New Jersey.

ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer
Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club
Bay Course
Galloway, NJ
First-Round Notes and Interviews
May 31, 2013

Amanda Blumenherst -5, Rolex Rankings No. 265
Moriya Jutanugarn -5, Rolex Rankings No. 119
Stacy Lewis -4, Rolex Rankings No. 2
Michelle Wie -3, Rolex Rankings No. 100

Friday’s First-round Recap

2013 LPGA Tour rookie Moriya Jutanugarn and four-year LPGA pro Amanda Blumenherst sit tied atop the leaderboard at 5-under-par after the first round of the 2013 ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer. Blumenherst and Jutanugarn each opened the event with a 5-under 66 at the Stockton Seaview Golf Club, which is located just outside Atlantic City, New Jersey in nearby Galloway.

Blumenherst, who won the 2008 U.S. Women’s Amateur as part of a stellar amateur career, tallied one eagle, four birdies and one bogey in her round. Friday’s impressive round was a confidence boost for Blumenherst, who has struggled at the start of the 2013 season. She’s missed the cut in six of the eight events that she’s played so far this year and her season-best finish so far is T33 at the Kia Classic.

“It's been a while since I've had a very solid round of golf and felt like I just played well throughout the entire day,” said Blumenherst. “It was a lot of fun.  It was a lot of fun out there because it's been a challenging start to the season.”

Moriya Jutanugarn made six birdies and tallied one bogey in her opening round on Friday at the ShopRite LPGA Classic. This marks the first time that 18-year-old Moriya has led or co-led an LPGA Tour event.

While her 17-year-old sister Ariya has drawn most of the LPGA headlines this year, Moriya Jutanugarn has been quietly putting together a solid rookie season on the LPGA Tour. The 18-year-old Thailand native currently leads the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race with 269 points thanks to four top-25 finishes including a season-best tie for fourth at the season-opening ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.

And now Moriya wants to take advantage of putting up a solid round on a day where scoring conditions only got more difficult as the day went along.

“This course is going to be really windy in the afternoon, so we're lucky because we played in the morning,” Jutanugarn said. “My game today, I hit the tee shots like in the ‑‑ I hit it in the fairway a lot, so it kept me in the places that are easy to play.  But the greens were kind of getting firmer and firmer, and it's more ‑‑ you have to see like ‑‑ it's in good shape, but you have to see like where you can miss it and where you cannot.”

Sitting one stroke behind the two leaders is defending champion and Rolex Rankings No. 2 Stacy Lewis. She finished off her round of 67 with a birdie on the par-5 ninth. Lewis, who led wire-to-wire at last year’s event, got off to another hot start by tallying five birdies and one bogey in her opening round.

Lewis is looking for her third victory of the 2013 season, having already won in Singapore and Phoenix this year. She’s also trying to see if she can successfully defend a title for the first time in her career.
Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park continued her struggles from last week in Friday’s opening round. Coming off her first missed cut since the 2012 season-opening ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, Park couldn’t get things going in this round as she shot a 3-over-74 to sit in a tie for 76th.

Even if Park misses the cut again this week, Lewis does not have a chance to take over the No. 1 spot in the rankings. However, Lewis continues to inch closer to the 24-year-old South Korean and a victory this week would put the two neck-and-neck for that top spot.

Two-time LPGA Tour winner Michelle Wie shot her best round of the season, a 3-under 68, and currently sits two shots back in solo fourth place.

“I think I was out there and the main thing I focused on was just staying patient today,” said Wie.  “I was really just thinking one shot at a time, not really thinking too far ahead or getting ahead of myself.  I think I did a good job of that and I really have to do that for the next two days.”
 
An athletic marriage…Amanda Blumenherst has seen her fair share of struggles at the start of the 2013 LPGA season, but one continued bright spot for the 26-year-old newlywed has been the success of her husband, Nate Freiman, in a different sport -- baseball.

Freiman is currently on the major league roster for the Oakland A’s. After years of playing in the minors for the San Diego Padres, Freiman was picked up by the A’s this past March and made the team right out of Spring Training. A first baseman/DH, Freiman has played in 27 games for the A’s already this season.

For Blumenherst, who is currently in her fourth season on the LPGA Tour, it’s been a real thrill to watch her husband achieve his dream of playing Major League Baseball.

“I have to pinch myself sometimes,” Blumenherst said. “He's just so excited and so happy, and he's worked so hard throughout all the minors, and to finally have us both be at the majors of our sport and just really enjoying it’s great. Being able to support each other and we understand our different schedules and sometimes we go a couple days without talking, but just being from the same spot and there are very few people that can say that they've done this and that we're married and having such a great time, it's been a lot of fun.”

Blumenherst and Freiman met at freshman orientation when they were students at Duke University and dated for seven years before getting married this past December. Freiman was with Blumenherst through her successful amateur career and he’s been there for her through all of the ups and downs on the LPGA Tour.

“He has been a really big supporter probably the last year or two when I haven't been playing as well as I would have liked because he knows how it feels to have your good stretches and then when you start struggling a little bit,” Blumenherst said. “And so to have someone to kind of talk through it and be encouraging and be a big supporter is great.”

Finding her own way: 2013 LPGA Tour rookie Moriya Jutanugarn tends to get overshadowed by her younger sister, Ariya, both physically and in the limelight. Ariya, who is the younger and taller of the two sisters, has grabbed a ton of attention with her performances so far on the LPGA Tour this year as a non-member. She hasn’t finished outside the top-4 in her four appearances in 2013 but is also one of the main reasons her older sister is holding her own during her own rookie season.

“I mean, every time when we play in the same tournament, we try to beat each other all the time,” said Moriya.

Ariya missed out on Monday qualifying but one stroke this week and opened the doors for Moriya to steal the show. She opened her week with a 5-under 66 and took a share of the first-round lead.

Moriya played alongside 2012 U.S. Women’s Open champion Na Yeon Choi and LPGA and World Golf Halls of Famer Juli Inkster on Friday and said Inkster has particularly played an influential role in helping her out in her young career. They first met back in 2007 when Moriya was 13 and caddying for her sister in the Honda LPGA Thailand. She said she sends her countless questions via email including how to manage caddies and says she always gets a response.

“Juli is like a big sister on Tour because I know her for like ever,” said Jutanugarn. “I know her a long, long time. I just asked her everything when I have a problem, and she's trying to help. I mean, everything, like I had a question I asked Juli, you know like my first year on Tour, so we have to learn a lot and make sure you ask and then you have a good answer.”

Jutanugarn has a season-best tie for fourth finish at the ISPS Handa Australian Women’s Open and two additional top-20 finishes at the HSBC Women’s Champions (T14) and the Kraft Nabisco Championship (T13). She currently leads the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race by 97 points over Germany’s Caroline Masson. When asked whether it was a goal of hers to claim the top rookie nod, the modest first-year player said she just wants to play well every week.

“I try to play well all the time,” said Jutanugarn. “Anyway, I'm trying to keep myself relaxed and play one shot at a time, whatever, and the Rookie of the Year, I mean, the rookie is ‑‑ I mean, it's the thing like come after we play good; you know what I mean?  Yeah, like after you play good, so you can get there.  Anyway, I try to keep focused on my game, and I'm really happy with my position right now.”

If she stays on track, she’ll join the company of former Rookies of the Year including Lorena Ochoa, Annika Sorenstam and Yani Tseng. But she won’t be looking forward to giving an acceptance speech.

“I'm getting nervous every time when I had a speech, even when I won the junior even, like a long time ago when I played junior golf events, I was like getting nervous, and when I said a speech, my sister said are you crying up there?” said Jutanugarn.  “I said, I'm not, I'm just nervous. But yeah, I try to figure out how to get myself better.  But you know what, like Lorena Ochoa used to be the Rookie of the Year, but they are also my idols, so I try to keep that.”

Keep on working: 2013 marks the 10th anniversary of Michelle Wie making her debut at the ShopRite LPGA Classic and the fifth-year LPGA Tour member has some lasting memories of playing as a sponsor exemption. She finished the week T52 as an amateur in 2003.

“I can't believe it's 10 years already,” said Wie. “I feel so lucky of all the experiences I've had the last 10 years, playing this event.  I know it was always one of my favorites coming out here when I was 13, 14, just being in awe, just like you just look up to these players when you're growing up and you're actually warming up next to them on the driving range.  It's a pretty cool feeling to have.”

She’s come a long way since her teen prodigy days and the Hawaii native has gotten used to playing under a microscope of judgment as of late. The two-time LPGA Tour winner has missed five cuts in 10 starts this season but continues to work at her craft. Her 3-under 68 on Friday was her best round of the season and best performance at the New Jersey-based event.

“I think I've been putting a lot of hard work in in the off‑season, and I do believe it's coming,” said Wie. “I think I've just been close to playing really well, and like I said, I just have to be patient.  I know if I put the work in, I know I can do it.  I just have to be patient and let it happen, not force it or anything.”

Wie took off last week while the Tour was in the Bahamas for the inaugural Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic and said the time off definitely helped her recharge her batteries. But she said she had some jealousy from afar looking through her tourmates’ pictures and will try to make the trip next year.

“Yeah, I made the decision not to go just because I can't really do four weeks in a row,” said Wie. “I've never really done that.  But after I saw all the pictures that everyone posted of Atlantis and the golf course and just everything, I was really bummed out that I didn't go, so next year I'm definitely going to go there because it looks awesome.”

Tweet of the Day: Goes to Alison Walshe from the LPGA’s Twitter account (@lpga) during ‘Twitter Takeover’ from the Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) booth on Friday. 2013 U.S. Solheim Cup Team captain Meg Mallon asked Washe “Alison can you explain why you putt with your glove on? Is it a Boston thing? #BradleyMallonWalshe”

“@MegMallonUSA Id like to say it’s with such great influences as you LEGENDS!! but it’s pure laziness :)”

Quotable: “We had fun out there.  We were kind of talking about Solheim and who was going to make the teams on both sides, who they would pick ‑‑ who like Suzann would pick as captain's picks and stuff like that.  It's fun to play with them, and certainly it won't be the last time.” –Stacy Lewis on her mid-round dialogue with playing partners Paula Creamer and Suzann Pettersen

Of Note…Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park shot a 3-over 74 and is currently in a T61...1999 ShopRite LPGA Classic winner Se Ri Pak withdrew prior to the first round due to illness…Song-Hee Kim withdrew during the first round...2013 LPGA Tour rookie Marina Stuetz withdrew after completing her first round due to severe allergies...Candie Kung withdrew after completing her first round
 

Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 2

THE MODERATOR:  We'd like to welcome our current leader in the clubhouse, Stacy Lewis, also defending champion.  There just seems to be something about this golf course that brings out the best in your game.  Take me through your day out there and what is it about this golf course that really seems to suit your eye.
STACY LEWIS:  Well, I think coming into the week, even the last few weeks, I've been driving the ball really well, and so that was one thing I was looking to coming into this week that you have to drive the ball well here.  So I knew ‑‑ coming into the week I had some confidence, and you really just have to stay patient out there.  The greens are a little bit bumpier than they have been in years past, so you're going to have some bumps go your way and some not go your way, so it's really a test of patience and missing in the right places and taking advantage of the par‑5s, which I was able to do.

Q.  On 9, the par‑5, you hit a great second shot on a tough hole that's surrounded by so much fescue and it really takes a tough second shot to get in there and give yourself an opportunity.  Was that kind of just one example of how well you were hitting it today to put it in there so close and give yourself an opportunity for eagle?
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, I definitely missed some shots today, but I had a really good number there on 9.  I had about 235 to the hole and it was into the wind and it was a shot that I could just get up there and swing as hard as I wanted to.  I usually hit some pretty good shots when I do that.  It was just kind of one of those that I felt good, and as soon as it was off the face I knew it was going to be pretty good.

THE MODERATOR:  It's been quite a ride for you over the past year.  When you think about last year when you came in here and were looking for your third career victory and how many victories you've had since, you knew you were looking to become the top American in the Rolex Rankings.  When you look back on the past year and everything you've been able to accomplish, do you take the time to think about how you were able to get to that point and keep yourself up there in the rankings?
STACY LEWIS:  Gosh, it doesn't ‑‑ I mean, it doesn't really seem like a year.  It's gone by so fast.  It's really been a whirlwind.  At this time last year I was just kind of middle of the road still and kind of just hanging in there every week.  I don't know, I don't really know what the difference is.  I guess you just get more confidence being there, you start trusting yourself more, but it's really cool to think how far I've come.  I wasn't even the top ranked American this time last year, and now I'm kind of going back and forth for No. 1 in the world.  It's just nice to keep that consistency going.  I've had a bunch of top 10s over the last year, and that's what I'm trying to do every week.

Q.  You talked about the greens.  You said they're bumpier this year than last.  Is it just like a matter of poa annua or anything like that ‑‑
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, I think the cooler weather, the weather has been a little bit cooler, and this is the first week that they've really had hot weather here.  Just the type of grass that's on the greens I think needed a little more heat coming into it.  But they've definitely gotten better throughout the week, so hopefully with this hot weather come Sunday they'll be rolling even better.

Q.  Can you talk about your pairing?  Pretty studly group there.
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, I've been getting ‑‑ I think Paula and I have played a lot of golf together this year.  The better you play, you get in those TV pairings and you kind of start playing with the same people every week, but it's nice because they're great players and you know they're going to be hitting some pretty good golf shots.
           
We had fun out there.  We were kind of talking about Solheim and who was going to make the teams on both sides, who they would pick ‑‑ who like Suzann would pick as captain's picks and stuff like that.  It's fun to play with them, and certainly it won't be the last time.

Q.  What were the conditions like out there?  Did the heat bother you?  Did it get more windy down towards the bay?
STACY LEWIS:  Well, teeing off so early was nice.  Our first nine holes we really didn't have much wind.  I started on the back nine, so when I got out, got out to like 2 green the wind really started to blow.  I think the hardest part about this golf course is a lot of the shots, when you're hitting shots you're back in the trees and then the greens are exposed.  So it's really just trusting that that wind is actually blowing up there.  You've got to pick targets that are pretty far right on 2 and 5 and real have to trust that that wind is going to move it.  You've just got to really believe in yourself and have control of your golf ball.

Q.  And obviously in any tournament a good start is what you want to do, but I think you went wire to wire here last year.  How key is it to sort of get out of the gate here pretty quickly?  There's a lot of birdies out there, I think.
STACY LEWIS:  Well, a three‑day event you've got to get off to a good start.  That's important.  But I think this week you really just ‑‑ you can't make big numbers.  That's kind of the thing.  If you miss it, at worst make bogey.  Try to get up‑and‑down when you can.  But you've got to stay patient.  Birdies aren't exactly easy to come by.  You can make them on the par‑5s but you can make a double pretty quick.  You've just really got to manage your game.

Q.  Can you just go over the lengths of the birdies and what was the problem with the bogey?  The birdies were 3 ‑‑
STACY LEWIS:  3, par‑5, I had about 20 feet for eagle, so that was just a tap‑in.

Q.  And then 5?
STACY LEWIS:  5, it was probably about a 20‑footer I made there.

Q.  And the bogey 6?
STACY LEWIS:  I pulled my drive left and had a horrible lie in the rough and so I had to chip out, and then I had about an eight‑footer for par and it lipped out.

Q.  9?
STACY LEWIS:  9, hit the green in two, had 20 feet for eagle so that was just a tap‑in.

Q.  And 13 and 15?
STACY LEWIS:  13, I hit a 9‑iron in there.  That was probably the shot of the day.  I hit it to about a foot.
           
And then the par‑3, that was a pretty good shot, too.  I hit 4‑iron and I was hole high about 15 feet and made that one.

Q.  What was the confusion, because we were seeing you were at 3‑under or something like that.  What did they mess up?
STACY LEWIS:  I think Paula and Suzann had a pretty rough finishing hole, so I think our scorer was having a little trouble keeping track of shots.

THE MODERATOR:  She made birdie but that was just a little mistake.
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, I was kind of hanging out on the sideline most of the time.

Q.  In your wildest dreams did you ever imagine that you would be a main attraction on the LPGA Tour?  That's the number one question.  And the second one is we rarely get to see your full arms.  Do you work out?
STACY LEWIS:  I know, right?  I've got to show it off a little bit.

Q.  Do you work out?
STACY LEWIS:  I do.  I work out quite a bit.  I had to work on my tan lines in the off week because it was pretty brutal right there.  My sponsor finally sent me some sleeveless shirts for the summer.  But I do, I get to show it off a little bit, show off all my hard work.
           
But the other question, growing up I never had dreams of being out here.  I never dreamed of any of this.  It's still strange to me, it seems every week, everywhere we go the number of fans I have seems to grow and grow and grow, and I'm having the biggest crowds follow me around.  It's really cool that people are watching and noticing what I'm doing.  People out there today as I was walking up 9, they're like, great playing, and you're doing such a good thing for this Tour and stuff like that.  I guess it's just nice that people are noticing.

THE MODERATOR:  Speaking of cool fan interactions, I got to watch you after you came off on 9 and signed your scorecard and signed a lot of autographs, got the chance to visit with a fan but you were telling me it's a really cool story about how you got to know her, now a senior in high school but you've known her for how many years.
STACY LEWIS:  I've known her since 2007.  I was a junior in college and through my coach I got a letter from her dad ‑‑ this is kind of the first letter I ever got from a girl that had scoliosis and she played golf and her dad was looking for some inspiration, and so I didn't really tell anybody, I didn't tell my parents, I just wrote her a letter, I just sent it, and I never thought I would hear anything from it.
           
So I turned pro, and I don't even remember how it happened but we got in contact through my agent and we've stayed in contact through email.  She came out to the 2009 U.S. Open.  That's the first time we actually met face to face.  I brought her inside the ropes.  Mizuno gave her some golf clubs, we gave her clothes, got her all geared out.  I saw her ‑‑ she comes out to this tournament almost every year, and I saw her today, and she said that her back was doing great, and she doesn't have to go to the doctor for another year, and she's not wearing her brace anymore.  So it's cool to ‑‑ I really kind of grew up with her, and to kind of ‑‑ I've inspired her to ‑‑ really to get through wearing the brace and everything like that.  I guess I knew what it was like.  She's the first one I've had that's really grown out of it, so it's good to see the success stories of it.

Q.  To what do you attribute your popularity?  You're obviously a very good golfer, but you seem to identify with your fans very easily, and this identification seems to come very naturally to you.  Between the Player of the Year acceptance speech which got a lot of play and how you comport yourself, just seems like none of this is hard for you.
STACY LEWIS:  Well, it's definitely been a work in progress because I'm pretty shy by nature, and so I've had to ‑‑ over the last couple years I've had to kind of learn how to come out of my shell and be more confident in whom I am and really to get people to believe what I'm saying.  I don't know what it is.
           
People have told me I'm a very approachable person, which I guess is a good quality.  I don't know, I'm out there, I'm being myself, and I think you can't go out there trying to be anybody other than who you are, and people seem to relate to my story and what I've been through.  I don't know what it is.

Q.  You look at the leaderboard and Moriya is up on top now.  Have you played with her, and the other thing is when you look at the board you see Michelle there.  She hasn't had the best of years, so I mean ‑‑
STACY LEWIS:  I mean, it's not really surprising to see Michelle play well.  This golf course, I am a little surprised on this course because if you can get some shots going sideways you can make some pretty big numbers.  That's good.  She needs those good rounds.
           
Moriya, I've played a few rounds with her.  Her sister seems to get all the attention, but she's very good in her own right.  I think she's leading Rookie of the Year right now, so she's pretty ‑‑ she's small in stature, but she's a pretty good little player.

 

Michelle Wie, Rolex Rankings No. 100

THE MODERATOR:  I'd like to welcome in Michelle Wie, 3‑under 68 opening round.  Awesome round, low this year, low here at this event.  Just talk about your round, take us through it, five birdies, two bogeys.  Take us through your day.
MICHELLE WIE:  Yeah, I think I was out there and the main thing I focused on was just staying patient today.  I was really just thinking one shot at a time, not really thinking too far ahead or getting ahead of myself.  I think I did a good job of that and I really have to do that for the next two days.
           
THE MODERATOR:  Talk about the greens here, pretty tricky and a lot of undulations.  Talk about your work around the greens today.
MICHELLE WIE:  Yeah, I think that's why I have to stay patient over here.  It's really hard to read the putts, and a lot of times you hit good putts and it hits the slope and doesn't go in.  So you have to know that you hit good putts and just focus on that.

THE MODERATOR:  We just said outside you're pretty well rested, took the week off through the Bahamas.  Talk about just taking a week off, coming here well‑rested and what you did at Sebonack.  You got some practice rounds in there, too.
MICHELLE WIE:  Yeah, I made the decision not to go just because I can't really do four weeks in a row.  I've never really done that.  But after I saw all the pictures that everyone posted of Atlantis and the golf course and just everything, I was really bummed out that I didn't go, so next year I'm definitely going to go there because it looks awesome.

Q.  Are you disappointed about 9 and 18?  You were right next to the green and walked away with pars on both holes.
MICHELLE WIE:  Yeah, it was a bit frustrating on 9 and 18, but on 9 I put myself on the wrong side of the hole.  I hit a really good chip and I left myself 30 feet.  It was a pretty difficult chip shot there.
           
On 18 I hit a great putt, just it was Mount Everest on the right, so it didn't go very far.  It's just about being patient out there, giving yourself opportunities and really try to make the best of it when an opportunity does come.

Q.  Following you around out there, it looked like 1 and 2 getting those saves was huge for you to get you going, and then later on 11 and 12, the back‑to‑back bogeys, but you came back pretty nicely.  Talk about the issue of mental toughness and how you were able to keep it together through those seemingly rough stretches of the round.
MICHELLE WIE:  Yeah, like I said before, it's just a matter of being patient.  On the first hole I hit it in the fescue and just really got to take it one shot at a time, not really think too far ahead or not thinking of anything else but that shot, and I think I did a very good job of that today.  The two bogeys that I had back‑to‑back on the back nine, I hit good shots, just got a little bit unlucky, and same thing there.  I know I hit good shots, I know I hit good putts, and move on to the next hole.

Q.  This is the 10th anniversary of your first appearance here at age 13.  What do you recall of those days, and how exciting was it for you to actually be playing with LPGA Tour pros as a teenager?
MICHELLE WIE:  I can't believe it's 10 years already.  I feel so lucky of all the experiences I've had the last 10 years, playing this event.  I know it was always one of my favorites coming out here when I was 13, 14, just being in awe, just like you just look up to these players when you're growing up and you're actually warming up next to them on the driving range.  It's a pretty cool feeling to have.
           
I'm so grateful for everything that the sponsors have ‑‑ all the experience that they let me have, and by believing in me and giving me sponsor exemptions and letting me have those experiences, it's pretty great.  I still try to keep that same mindset.  I do still feel very grateful that I'm out here, that I'm out here playing in tournaments, so I just always try to keep that in mind and just really put things in perspective.

Q.  I remember when you were here you were like the next superstar and all that, and your career path has been golf and college, where you've got your degree and everything.  When you thought of your career path say as a 16, 17 year old, what did you plan for yourself and did it come out the way you wanted it to come out?
MICHELLE WIE:  You know, I think nothing really goes exactly the way you plan.  There may be hiccups in the way and little adjustments along the way, and I think I did that.  College always in my game plan; always from day one I always wanted to go to Stanford, and I achieved one of my biggest dreams of going.  I'm just so happy that I went.
            Of all the experiences that I've had, good and bad, I feel like I've learned from them, I feel like I am who I am now, just because of that, so I'm very grateful.

Q.  You talked about being patient today.  How do you sort of keep that attitude, that patience going into tomorrow and not get ahead of yourself, and also what does today's round do for your confidence going forward?
MICHELLE WIE:  Yeah, you know, I think the big thing for me is not to really look too far ahead.  I think tomorrow No. 1 tee all I'm going to think about is the first shot and for every shot just really be in the moment.  I think that's going to be a big key for me this week and the rest of the year.

Q.  It seems that everyone has a criticism about anything that you do.  Do you know about the criticisms?  Do you read about them?  How hear about them, whether it's your putting stance or whether you should go for a par‑5 in two or whether you should change your hair color?  Do you ever want to just tell people to take a hike?
MICHELLE WIE:  I think everyone is entitled to their own opinion.  I think that everyone makes their own opinion, and that's fine.  I have my opinions about people, and it's totally valid.  I think that it is what it is.  I try not to listen to it as much as I can, but it's just ‑‑ you can't please everyone.  I'm not going to go around my way living my life trying to please everyone because in the end it doesn't really matter.  They're not the ones that are living my life.  They're not the ones that ultimately are in my life.  So I just am so grateful for my friends, my family and for the people inside my circle that believe in me.
           
And everyone else, I do want to be a role model, do good things for me, but you just can't please everyone.

Q.  And the circle that you talk about, how many people are in that circle?
MICHELLE WIE:  Not a lot.

THE MODERATOR:  Her posse is like 15 people, small group.

Q.  When did you decide to change your putting style and why?
MICHELLE WIE:  I did it late last year.  I think I did it in the middle of a round.  I just went a little bit lower.  I was thinking maybe I'm putting bad because I'm too tall and I just want to be a little bit shorter.  It felt good and I kept going, and it is what it is now.

THE MODERATOR:  We had a couple of Solheim Cuppers in here yesterday for pre‑tournament stuff.  People kind of commented on you being such a fierce Solheim Cupper, it brings out the best in you.  Talk about the upcoming Solheim Cup and what you're doing mentally to make that team.  Obviously everybody has images of you being so passionate as a U.S. member.  Just talk about Solheim Cup and your plan on hopefully getting a spot on the team.
MICHELLE WIE:  Yeah, I mean, I think being a member of the Solheim Cup team is definitely one of my proudest achievements and just one of my best memories is playing the Solheim Cup in 2009 and 2011, and if I could just make the team, that would just be, again, one of my biggest achievements.  And especially Meg being the captain, I think that there is no other team that I would like to make this year or within 20 years.  I'm going to work my hardest.  I've been working my butt off all year, and hopefully I can play well enough starting this week to make some points and make the team.

Q.  Can you talk about your year?  You've missed five cuts, you've had, I think, four or five rounds in the 60s.  Is it coming around or what?
MICHELLE WIE:  Well, I think I've been putting a lot of hard work in in the off‑season, and I do believe it's coming.  I think I've just been close to playing really well, and like I said, I just have to be patient.  I know if I put the work in, I know I can do it.  I just have to be patient and let it happen, not force it or anything.

 

Moriya Jutanugarn, Rolex Rankings No. 119

Q. Awesome round here.  You've never played here before, have you?
MORIYA JUTANUGARN:  No.

Q.  So what did you think of the course setup?  How did you think your game set up to it?
MORIYA JUTANUGARN:  You know, this course is going to be really windy in the afternoon, so we're lucky because we played in the morning.  Anyways, my game today, I hit the tee shots like in the ‑‑ I hit it in the fairway a lot, so it kept me in the places that are easy to play.  But the greens were kind of getting firmer and firmer, and it's more ‑‑ you have to see like ‑‑ it's in good shape, but you have to see like where you can miss it and where you cannot.

Q.  You played with Na Yeon and Juli?
MORIYA JUTANUGARN:  Yeah.

Q.  Have you played with them before?
MORIYA JUTANUGARN:  Yeah, I've played with them before.  They are really nice to me every time I played with them.  Juli is like a big sister on Tour because I know her for like ever.  I know her a long, long time.

Q.  Since when did you guys meet?
MORIYA JUTANUGARN:  I met Juli my first time I caddied for my sister on the LPGA in Thailand.

Q.  How old were you then?
MORIYA JUTANUGARN:  I was like 13 when I'm a caddie for my sister.

Q.  She was really nice to you guys then?
MORIYA JUTANUGARN:  Yeah, she's like a big sister.  Anyway, I just asked her everything when I have a problem, and she's trying to help.

Q.  What's the biggest thing she's helped you with, just golf stuff or off the course stuff?
MORIYA JUTANUGARN:  I mean, everything, like I had a question I asked Juli, you know like my first year on Tour, so we have to learn a lot and make sure you ask and then you have a good answer.

Q.  What's been some of the advice do you think she's given you?
MORIYA JUTANUGARN:  I ask her a lot, like about the caddie, when I start to fight a caddie.

Q.  Did you fight a caddie?
MORIYA JUTANUGARN:  Yeah.  And whatever I ask her, and she's going to email me back every time I asked her.

Q.  You send her emails?
MORIYA JUTANUGARN:  Yeah.

Q.  Talk about your round.  What did you think was really looking for you?
MORIYA JUTANUGARN:  What is working for me?  I think my tee shots kept me in good places to play because there's a lot of heavy rough and really long rough, and if you get in trouble, it's that.
           
Anyway, I played solid today, and my putting is working pretty good.

Q.  Your sister missed out on the qualifier?
MORIYA JUTANUGARN:  She missed by one, yeah.

Q.  So is she here?
MORIYA JUTANUGARN:  She is here with us, but she didn't go walk today, like she didn't want to watch today.

Q.  She took a day off?
MORIYA JUTANUGARN:  She took a day off, just do some, like, workout or whatever.

Q.  Having her around and not necessarily playing, do you think that helps you play better or get extra attention because the eyes are on you?
MORIYA JUTANUGARN:  It's different.  I mean, every time when we play, it was the same tournament.  We try to beat each other all the time.  So yeah, we either play together or same tournament.

Q.  Talk about Rookie of the Year.  Is that a goal of yours coming into the season?
MORIYA JUTANUGARN:  I try to play well all the time.  Anyway, I'm trying to keep myself relaxed and play one shot at a time, whatever, and the Rookie of the Year, I mean, the rookie is ‑‑ I mean, it's the thing like come after we play good; you know what I mean?

Q.  It'll be the product of you playing well?
MORIYA JUTANUGARN:  Yeah, like after you play good, so you can get there.  Anyway, I try to keep focused on my game, and I'm really happy with my position right now.

Q.  Looking at the list of past rookies of the year, it's pretty awesome, Annika, Lorena, crazy really good names.  How cool would that be?
MORIYA JUTANUGARN:  I'm getting nervous every time when I had a speech, even when I won the junior even, like a long time ago when I played junior golf events, I was like getting nervous, and when I said a speech, my sister said are you crying up there?  I said, I'm not, I'm just nervous.
           
But yeah, I try to figure out how to get myself better.  But you know what, like Lorena Ochoa used to be the Rookie of the Year, but they are also my idols, so I try to keep that ‑‑

Q.  How are you feeling?  You said you were a little sick?
MORIYA JUTANUGARN:  It's getting much better before I played on Wednesday because I take all the medicine, so it's okay right now.  It's better.

Q.  So coming into this week were you worried?  Were you thinking, oh, my gosh, I might not be able to play?
MORIYA JUTANUGARN:  I kind of worried a little bit because I see the course when I played the pro‑am, and I played yesterday early before the pro‑am, nine holes, and when I turned to the back nine today, I was like, oh, my God, I can't remember, like how is the layout.

Q.  You put your caddie to work and he obviously did a pretty good job, right?
MORIYA JUTANUGARN:  Yeah, he did.  He did a good job this week.  I just asked him like I can't remember where I have to go, something like that.

Q.  Do you guys laugh about that when he's like, okay?
MORIYA JUTANUGARN:  He just told me okay, where is a safe target.

Q.  So coming in you had really not a clue about the course or anything, so do you think that helps you coming in?
MORIYA JUTANUGARN:  Maybe, because you know ‑‑ maybe it helps because I kind of ‑‑ myself, I just like worry all the time.  So if you can't remember the course so you just ask the caddie and trust him and try to play one shot at a time, maybe it helps me game.

 

 

Amanda Blumenhurst, Rolex Rankings No. 265

THE MODERATOR:  We'd like to welcome one of our current leaders, Amanda Blumenherst, into the interview room.  Congratulations, great round, 5‑under par 66, has to feel good when you can go out there and put together such a great round on this very difficult golf course.
AMANDA BLUMENHERST:  It feels amazing.  It's been a while since I've had a very solid round of golf and felt like I just played well throughout the entire day.  It was a lot of fun.  It was a lot of fun out there because it's been a challenging start to the season.
           
THE MODERATOR:  When you look at this golf course, and I was talking with some of the other players, about tee shots and placement, there's so much that goes into your thought process and how you play this golf course.  What were the keys for you out there today in being able to shoot such a good round?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST:  Definitely my tee ball, just being able to put it in position off the tee in the fairway, I think I might have missed one fairway all day, and just being able to then hit solid iron shots not having to ‑‑ the rough is very thick, and there's some pretty big heather out there.
            So just being able to then take normal full iron shots into the greens makes it a lot easier.

THE MODERATOR:  Talk about this year and what you've been going through.  What have been kind of the struggles in your game that you've been dealing with and working on trying to improve?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST:  It's definitely my tee ball actually that I really had to work on.  I've just really struggled, so been working on it quite a bit, and just ball‑striking is starting to come together.
           
THE MODERATOR:  And I know it's been an exciting year for you.  You got married over the off‑season to your husband Nate Freiman, and then he had a great start to his year and he got picked up in the Rule 5 draft by the Astros and then got picked up by the Oakland A's at the end of spring training which then led to a Major League call‑up at the start of the season.
AMANDA BLUMENHERST:  Look at you.  I'm impressed.

THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.  I follow a little baseball.  (Laughter.)
But just a tremendous opportunity for him to pursue his dream, and what has that been like for you having been out here for so many years to see him finally reach his dream of playing professional baseball?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST:  I have to pinch myself sometimes.  He's just so excited and so happy, and he's worked so hard throughout all the minors, and to finally have us both be at the majors of our sport and just really enjoying it and being able to support each other and we understand our different schedules and sometimes we go a couple days without talking, but just being from the same spot and there are very few people that can say that they've done this and that we're married and having such a great time, it's been a lot of fun.

THE MODERATOR:  I know as busy as you are with golf and traveling, you've had some opportunities to go watch him play.  You got to go to Boston and get to see him play in Fenway, which he's from that area, correct?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST:  I did.  I think a bucket list for sure.  He's always said if he could play in Fenway and then I was able to go out and watch, and I also got to see him play in Yankee Stadium, so both were just amazing experiences.

THE MODERATOR:  So now how often do you watch baseball games?  Is this now a nightly thing where you get home and watch it on the computer?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST:  I'm going to say the time change is killing me because they're out in Oakland, so I was good last ‑‑ he had a day game yesterday, which helped, but a couple nights ago I stayed up until about 1:30 because he started and was having such a great game; he had three hits, three RBIs, so I couldn't turn it off, and I have downloaded on my computer, MLB Network, so I sit in bed watching it.

Q.  You mentioned today was fun.  When you've struggled like you have, when did it start being fun today, and when you've struggled what kind of attitude do you come to the course with?  Was there a hole or a shot where you said, hey, this is ‑‑
AMANDA BLUMENHERST:  Actually kind of right from the beginning I started having a good time.  I played with two of my good friends, and that always helps before I even teed it off, Natalie and Jessica.  I had a good time right from the tee ball on the first hole, and then the eagle kind of helped kick up the fun a little bit.

Q.  Where was the eagle?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST:  The third hole.

Q.  Just describe it.
AMANDA BLUMENHERST:  It's a par‑5.  I hit a really solid drive down the middle of the fairway and hit a 3‑wood probably just a couple feet off the back on the fringe, so I was able to putt and made a nice probably 35‑, 40‑footer.

Q.  How has your level of frustration fluctuated through the struggles that you've had, and do you see some light at the end of the tunnel?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST:  I started actually almost becoming more frustrated because I could see that light and I wasn't quite getting to it.  I was hitting it better and my short game was coming together, but I wasn't really putting the pieces all together.  But I'm really ‑‑ the goal the last couple tournaments is to go out and have ‑‑ enjoy myself, remember that a lot of people would just kill to have a chance to play professional golf as a living and to really enjoy it.
           
So I went out with that mind frame the last couple tournaments, and even though I didn't play as well as I would have liked, I have enjoyed being out there.

Q.  You say you're driving the ball better.  Can you get home on all the par‑5s here?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST:  Normally I can.  The last hole, though, was straight into the wind, and it would have been pushing it, so I actually laid up.

Q.  Where did you lay up to, what number?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST:  I went driver, 7‑iron, 9‑iron, so I stayed short of the bunkers.  But I laid up to 116 yards.

Q.  And your shot went ‑‑
AMANDA BLUMENHERST:  I hit a great shot.  I was staring it down.  I thought it was going to be a tap‑in, and just a little hard.  The adrenaline must have been rushing.

Q.  You get to the back of the green and say what, just hit one last good shot here?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST:  And I really like to putt almost anywhere if it's possible, so for me it didn't look too difficult of a putt shot.  Just kind of had it get it over the hill and knew that it would run out.

Q.  Did you meet Mr. Freiman at Duke?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST:  I did.  We actually met at freshman orientation.  We've been married for about five months now, but we've been together for seven years.

Q.  The hardest thing in the world is to hit a baseball and hit a golf ball.  Do you guys talk through the ups and downs of being professional athletes and going out there and competing and stuff?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST:  Definitely.  He has been a really big supporter probably the last year or two when I haven't been playing as well as I would have liked because he knows how it feels to have your good stretches and then when you start struggling a little bit.  And so to have someone to kind of talk through it and be encouraging and be a big supporter is great.

Q.  And how do you approach tomorrow?  What kind of attitude do you take into tomorrow?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST:  I'm going to just try to keep continuing today, have a good time with my group and just hit one shot, one hole at a time and really take it and try not to look at the leaderboard because that can be tempting and just go out, and I'm one of the later groups, so just try to focus on playing and not looking ahead, not looking to the finish or to the leaderboard.

Q.  Did you look at the board at all today?
AMANDA BLUMENHERST:  Not ‑‑ I started noticing cameras following me.  It's been a while, so I was like, oh, there's Golf Channel.  I must be doing pretty well.  So I didn't really look at the leaderboard, but I knew I had to be doing well if Golf Channel was following.

 

 

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