Thursday Pre-Tournament Notes and Interviews from the 2013 ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer

Photo Credit: Hunter Martin/Getty Images

A view of the seating area around the 18th green during the second round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic on the Bay Course at Seaview Resort in Galloway, New Jersey.

ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer
Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club
Bay Course
Galloway, NJ
Pre-tournament Notes and Interviews
May 30, 2013

Stacy Lewis, Defending Champion and Rolex Rankings No. 2
Suzann Pettersen, Rolex Rankings No. 3
Lizette Salas, Rolex Rankings No. 18
Beatriz Recari, Rolex Rankings No. 28

I.K. Kim- Special Olympics & ShopRite Announcement

After spending a week caught in the middle of tropical storms in the Bahamas, the LPGA Tour returns to the Northeast for the ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer in Galloway, N.J. The Bay Course at the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club plays host to the 54-hole event where 144 players will compete for a $225,000 first-place prize.

Last year’s event witnessed a milestone in Stacy Lewis’ career as she claimed her third career victory and surpassed Cristie Kerr as the top-ranked American on the LPGA Tour. Lewis was untouchable throughout the week, either leading or co-leading in the first two rounds and managing to take six-shot lead heading into Sunday’s final round. She carded 65-65-71 to take a four-stroke victory over Katherine Hull-Kirk and Lexi Thompson. Lewis went on to win the Navistar LPGA Classic and the Mizuno classic en route to earning the Rolex Player of the Year award.

The countdown is on...The 2013 Solheim Cup is now just a little over 2 ½ months away and the focus of nearly every American and European player who has a chance of making their respective teams is starting to turn to the special biennial event.

On Thursday afternoon, a few of those potential Solheim Cup players gathered for a press conference at the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club to talk about heading to Colorado Golf Club just outside Denver, Colo. on Aug. 16-18 for the 13th playing of The Solheim Cup.

Stacy Lewis, who is currently leading the U.S. points list, and six-time European Solheim Cup Team member Suzann Pettersen were joined in the presser by potential Solheim Cup rookies – Lizette Salas, who is eighth in points for the U.S. team, and Beatriz Recari, who is in the mix to earn a spot on Team Europe via her Rolex Ranking.

Pettersen was asked to describe what The Solheim Cup experience means to the players.

“I remember having a conversation with Laura Davies probably quite a few years back now, probably in mid 2004, 2005,” Pettersen said. “As much as Laura has been through in her career and as many tournaments as she's won around the world, she said, ‘knowing what the Solheim is, having experienced it so many times, something would definitely have been missing in my career had it not been for the Solheim.’”

Lewis reiterated the adrenaline and emotion that comes with playing in a Solheim Cup, stating that every hole felt like the 18th hole when you’re leading a tournament. The last Solheim Cup at Killeen Castle in Ireland was Lewis’ first experience with the event but she hopes to carry the lessons she learned there into this year’s Solheim Cup in Denver.

“There's a lot of pressure there, and I think for me I learned a lot about myself,” Lewis said. “There was good and bad that came out of Ireland.  And there's things I didn't handle well and there's things I would like to have changed, but you have to learn from that.  And I think when the pressure is on, you get to experience that and learn a lot about yourself.”

‘Special’ announcement: Representatives from the Special Olympics and ShopRite were onsite at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club on Thursday to make an announcement on the grocery store chain’s sponsorship of the Special Olympics USA Games in 2014 which will be held throughout the state of New Jersey. Also on hand were six Special Olympics athletes and three-time LPGA Tour winner I.K. Kim, who was announced as a Special Olympics Global Ambassador for Golf last year at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

ShopRite made a $1 million donation in support of the USA Games in 2014 which will host over 3,500 athletes from across the country. They will compete in 16 different sports including golf. In advance of the Games, Seaview will also play host to the 2013 Golf Invitational in October.

I.K. Kim shared insight on her experiences as an ambassador to the organization over the past year and why she decided to get involved.

“So the Special Olympics can reveal the champion in each of us,” said Kim. “Whether competitor, volunteer or family members or fans, Special Olympics is building community through the language of sports, and all of us can be a part of this movement.  So I wish everyone can join us and supporting these great athletes and get inspired.”

Kim donated half of her winning check from the 2010 Lorena Ochoa Invitational, more than $100,000, at last year’s ShopRite LPGA Classic when she was announced as a Global Ambassador.

“But for me I'm learning more from the Special Olympics athletes that have the passion and the joy from playing golf or playing different sports and they were accepted as athletes, not as disabilities,” said Kim.  “So I think for me I think it's one of the best things that I've achieved over the years playing golf.  If I wasn't playing on the LPGA Tour, I wouldn't ever have opportunity to be involved in this great movement.  So I feel just grateful for that.”

Watch out for the Gopher! This week in Atlantic City was bound to be a busy one for defending champion Stacy Lewis. But on Wednesday night, Lewis had an opportunity to combine a little work with some fun when she attended the Phillies-Red Sox baseball game at Citizens Bank Park in nearby Philadelphia.

Lewis was invited by the Phillies to take part in a skit with their mascot, the Phillie Phanatic, on the field in the fifth inning of the game. The reigning Rolex Player of the Year, who wore a Phillies hat for the night, helped to give the Phanatic a golf lesson before they were interrupted by the appearance of a Gopher mascot on the field, which resulted in an ensuing dance number. Lewis, who seemed to have fun with the silly skit, then left the field on an ATV with the Phanatic. It was a unique experience that other famous athletes have also been a part of including tennis legend Billie Jean King and boxing legend Joe Frazier.

“The coolest part of the night was when I was riding with the Phillie Phanatic off the field and people were yelling my name and yelling good luck,” Lewis said with a laugh. “So it was cool that people do pay attention and do know what we’re doing out here.”

The top-ranked American in the Rolex Rankings also had a chance to spread the word of the LPGA’s recent momentum in a few interviews at the ballpark. Lewis was a guest on a local Philadelphia sports radio show before the game and then took part in an in-game interview on Comcast Sportsnet following her on-field appearance.

“I love going to baseball games where you can just decompress and sit there and watch, but it was really cool how much they supported our Tour,” Lewis said. “They promoted the tournament a number of times throughout the night and that’s what we really need to get fans out there.”

Five Things You Didn’t Know About…Jennifer Johnson

  1. She has a Maltese named Abby and has a fish tank currently with two fish. She doesn’t like to name them anymore because they tend to die fairly quickly with her travel schedule.
  2. Jennifer’s a huge San Diego Chargers fan and went to her first game when she was eight weeks old. Her family were long-time season ticket holders and her favorite Chargers are LaDainian Tomlinson and Junior Seau.
  3. A native of San Diego, Jennifer likes to hit local surfing spot, Swami’s Beach in Encinitas, and gets a good work out on the stairs there.
  4. She’s a huge fan of Mexican food and her go to dishes are cheese enchiladas and fish tacos.
  5. Her dad, Mike, travels with her and is a huge 70’s music fan. She said she’s found a way to tolerate it and their go-to songs are Rubberband Man by the Spinners and Carwash by Rose Royce

 

Tweet of the Day: Goes to Jessica Korda who gave a shout-out to her 14-year old sister, Nelly, who earned a spot in the 2013 U.S. Women’s Open on Thursday. She shot a 36-hole 141 and won the Sectional Qualifier at Bear Lakes Country Club in West Palm Beach, Fla.

My pretty girl! So excited I get to share this with her! @TheNellyKorda” --@JessicaKorda

Quotable: “I wasn't picked for Curtis Cup; I wasn't picked for Junior Solheim.  But that doesn't say that I have the ability to make the Solheim Cup.  I played on a national championship team where they needed me on the final day, and we brought home the national championship ‑‑ that trophy that year in 2008.  And so I feel like I can bring something to the team.  But even though golf is an individual sport, but we're all playing for the same goal.” –Lizette Salas on earning a spot on her first U.S. Solheim Cup Team

 

Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 2
Suzann Pettersen, Rolex Rankings No. 3
Lizette Salas, Rolex Rankings No. 18
Beatriz Recari, Rolex Rankings No. 28

THE MODERATOR:  Good afternoon everyone.  We'd like to welcome you to a special press conference that we're having this afternoon.  Only two and a half months remain until the 2013 Solheim Cup at Colorado Golf Club which will be played August 16th through the 18th, and we know this is an event that everyone looks forward to for many years to come.  And kind of building up to it we thought we'd kind of get the conversation started because I know the Europeans seem eager to keep that cup and the Americans seem eager to taking it back.  Thank you very much for joining me.  First off I'll introduce my special guests this afternoon. 
To my immediate right we have Suzann Pettersen, a six‑time European Solheim Cup team member who's been through both the winning side and the losing side, so you've got some good perspective from all of your experiences.  To my immediate right we have Lizette Salas, who is trying to become a Solheim Cup member for the first time.  She's on her second year on the LPGA Tour, and she's currently eighth on the points list which the Top 8 points earners automatically earn a spot on the U.S. Solheim Cup team. 
And then joining us at the end is someone that should be very familiar to everyone here.  It's defending champion Stacy Lewis, who was a member of the Solheim Cup team, the U. S. Solheim Cup team for the first time in 2011.  So thank you very much, ladies, for joining us today.  First off I want to ask Suzann and Stacy for you guys who have been through a Solheim Cup experience before, what is that experience like and if you had to explain it to someone like Lizette who's never experienced it, how would you describe it?
           
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  The easiest way for me to describe it is I remember having a conversation with Laura Davies probably quite a few years back now, probably in the mid 2004, 2005, and it this is a question that kind of keeps popping up when you kind of talk about the Solheim, and as much as Laura has been through in her career and as many tournaments as she's won around the world, she said, "knowing what the Solheim is, having experienced it so many times, something would definitely have been missing in my career had it not been for the Solheim."
           
And I must say, having this being my seventh, I think a lot of my biggest highlights and best highlights, for the good and the bad, definitely come from the Solheim.  I think it's just something that when you're out there playing for your friends, you just don't want to let them down.  All you want to do is just bring in the blue point in this case, and you just fight to the very end.  And it's just nice to bond and to team up every second year.
           
STACY LEWIS:  I mean I don't have as much experience there, but the last ‑‑ I mean the last one it felt like every hole felt like the 18th hole when you have a lead of a tournament.  I mean that's honestly what it feels like.  It's a lot of pressure, but it's so much fun to get out there with your teammates, and you're playing for something that's a lot bigger than just you.
           
And there's a lot of pressure there, and I think for me I learned a lot about myself.  There was good and bad that came out of Ireland.  And there's things I didn't handle well and there's things I would like to have changed, but you have to learn from that.  And I think when the pressure is on, you get to experience that and learn a lot about yourself.
           
THE MODERATOR:  Lizette, only your second year on tour, the entire time you've been earning points towards this experience, and having played so well at the start of this year and seeing your name move up that points list and seeing yourself with a possibility of earning a spot, what is that like?  How much is that a focus for you this year to make that first Solheim Cup team?
           
LIZETTE SALAS:  Yeah.  It's definitely been a focus ever since the start of the season.  And just seeing my name being on the leaderboard a couple of times, and being in a playoff with Suzann earlier this year and really getting that sensation of being in contention and winning a championship, and I think that's only preparing me for a bigger stage like Solheim.
           
And you know, the last couple of years I watched it on TV and I've seen how much adrenaline is pumping through the girls and how much they want it for their team or their country.  And you know, to be a part of that in my young career, that would mean a lot.  But we still have two and a half more months and a lot of golf to be played, and you know, we'll just see what happens.
           
THE MODERATOR:  As you guys get ready, I mean it is two and a half months away, the teams will be announced at the finish of the Women's British Open, which is at St. Andrews this year, a very special venue, a cool place to have those teams announced.  Do you kind of watch your game and try to kind of peak at that point?  I know we all talk about preparing for majors and preparing your games, but do you try to kind of get your game in peak performance knowing how much is on the line when you have that team environment?
           
STACY LEWIS:  I don't know.  It's kind of hard.  I think leading up to Solheim we have so many majors coming up that I think it would be hard, but I think for the Solheim Cup it's really going to come up quick because we're announcing teams just two weeks before the tournament.  So I think it's really going to happen fast, and having that week off before I think will help a lot, help everybody kind of get their games in shape.  We have five majors, but I think for all of us we have six majors this year and I think we all want to play our best going into that.
           
But I mean at the end of the day it's more about the experience, and you just try to do the best you can.
           
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  I just think this is where the experience comes in.  I remember my first time.  I actually got a wild card, and I was driving from a tournament down in Ireland to London, the Heathrow Airport, and I remember getting the phone call from our captain at the time, Dale Reid, and I almost drove off the road and I didn't know what to do with myself for the next four weeks.  I was just over‑the‑top excited.
           
And I mean you get there, and everything is like Christmas times a hundred.  You're just happy to be there.  I'm driving ‑‑ I'm sitting on Laura's lap in the courtesy car to the golf course.  I mean it was just so many emotions and so many different scenes that you can't really prepare for.
           
And knowing kind of what that week drains you for of energy, and I think the most important thing is just to get in there having lots of energy.  Your game will get ‑‑ I mean your game will come around.
           
And it's just an exhausting week with a lot of mandatory stuff that has to be done early in the week and you're just trying to squeeze in whatever practice you can do that week.  And once Friday starts, it's game on.
           
Last year in Ireland was the first time of the six that I played where I actually asked to be sat out of the five matches, because especially if you take it to the 18th every single match ‑‑ well, it's up to you, but if you do that, it takes a lot out of you.
           
THE MODERATOR:  The adrenaline, the emotion, whatever, for you guys try to talk to somebody like Lizette who might be playing in it for the first time.  What's the biggest advice, biggest one piece of advice that you would give?

LIZETTE SALAS:  Let me get out my note pad.
           
STACY LEWIS:  I don't know.
           
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  I mean I remember.  We had a couple of rookies in Ireland in 2011, and it was like, you guys gotta look after these rookies.
           
I mean, first of all, we don't look at them and think of our teammates as rookies.  I mean they've been out there; they've been winning tournaments.  Obviously it's maybe a rookie experience, but all 12 players have been down the stretch in contention to win and most likely have won tournaments before.  So it's not like they don't know how to play the game.
           
But I remember Azahara Munoz she kept saying, I need a pep talk; I need a pep talk.  And this is like Monday, early in the week.  And we're like, well, just chill for now.  By the time Friday comes I'm sure you'll be ready.
           
And what stood out for me was I remember on Sunday after the last rain delay, it was three of us on the golf cart, Azahara Caroline Hedwall and myself.  I think point wise we were pretty much even square.  I mean it could have gone both ways.  And I said to Azahara, I said, I'll give you one pep talk.  This cart takes three points, and I was on the 13, she was on 12 and Caroline was on like the 14.  And I looked her in the eye, I said, this is your pep talk.  This cart takes three points.
           
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, I think it's just ‑‑ I mean it's really just managing your emotions more than anything.  I don't think it's that hard to get motivated for it.  It's really just kind of keeping it at a minimum until the weekend.  I mean that's when it really ‑‑ it really all comes down to Sunday.  So you gotta have energy coming into Sunday.
           
I mean my biggest regret is I didn't enjoy the whole experience as much as I should have and got kind of stressed out over everything that was going on and needed to kind of just chill a little bit.
           
THE MODERATOR:  It's definitely a week that you'll remember probably every moment of, and I'm sure you look back over your six already that you've played in and remember many of those moments.  What's the difference ‑‑ I mean you guys are used to being out here every week competing individually.  You've got friends on both sides.  You're friends with everybody.  But how does it come down to that week when all of a sudden you're separated?  It's the Americans versus the Europeans.  Do you guys trash talk leading up to this?  Is this something like ‑‑ we were talking a little bit about this, Lizette said being in a playoff with Suzann.  Do you guys look and be like, we've got some Americans here; we've got some Europeans?  Do you guys start playing that game early on leading up to this event?
           
STACY LEWIS:  I think we do a little bit.  I think we do it without even realizing it.  I mean that week we don't ‑‑ I mean we don't hang out; we don't talk.  You know what I mean.  We're separate teams that week.  But it's respectful.
           
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  But at the same time it's respectful and I think the respect and the sportsmanship is bigger than all of us together, and I think it's very important I mean as much as you're friends and once you tee it up, you want to take the point for your team, at the end of the day it all comes down to respecting each other as athletes, respecting each other's game.
           
And it's nice.  I thought Ireland was very good.  I thought the crowd kind of appreciated both sides and the good golf that was kind of displayed.  And Lizette and me, I guess Europe is one‑up.
           
STACY LEWIS:  Oh, here we go.  Okay.
           
THE MODERATOR:  See, the trash talking begins.
           
STACY LEWIS:  And it starts.  Okay.

THE MODERATOR:  Lizette, how much experience have you ever had in anything like this?  Have you done a lot?  I know you played in college and played on a team, but have you ever been in team‑like events such as this before?
           
LIZETTE SALAS:  No.  It sucks I had to say no.  But I wasn't picked for Curtis Cup; I wasn't picked for Junior Solheim.  But that doesn't say that I have the ability to make the Solheim Cup.  I played on a national championship team where they needed me on the final day, and we brought home the national championship ‑‑ that trophy that year in 2008.  And so I feel like I can bring something to the team.  But even though golf is an individual sport, but we're all playing for the same goal, and yeah.
           
THE MODERATOR:  That's team experience.
           
LIZETTE SALAS:  I think so.
           
THE MODERATOR:  And I was going to say, sometimes you gotta watch out for the rookies who may not have done this a lot before.  We saw Hedwall and we saw Aza.  There's a lot of people who come through in the clutch.
           
STACY LEWIS:  And I think this year on both sides we're going to have a lot of rookies, just kind of early looking at points and how people are playing, I think both sides will be, so it's always fun to get some young rookies in the mix and it'll be cool.
           
THE MODERATOR:  Just looking at the talent level, we've seen on the leaderboard a lot of young Americans stepping up and playing well, like Lizette and Jessica Korda; we look at the Europeans, too, with Beatriz Recari winning at Kia.  You've seen Carlota Ciganda who has also been up there on the points list.  How excited are the two of you as kind of veterans of this experience to see some of these young players who might be merging on your team?
           
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  Well, as long as Laura Davies is on the team I'll always be the junior.  But you know, our team is going to look very different this year.  I think there's a new generation popping up and through all the six times I've played half the team has pretty much been Swedes, and not necessarily is that going to happen this year.
           
And I think it's fun to see new players, new energy into the team.  And it's exciting.  And being European I'm very happy to see the Europeans starting to play really good.  It builds confidence, it builds trust, and it also makes you a little bit more relaxed going into it.
           
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah.  On the American side we've had a lot of young players starting to step up that are very talented, and I think it'll be interesting to see how they get to Solheim and kind of handle that pressure.  And I think even at Solheim, I mean fans watching, you see our personalities come out a lot more.
           
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  There you are.  This is my teammate.
           
STACY LEWIS:  But I think as far as the fans watching, the fans will get to see the players' personalities.  They'll see us when we're not playing a match cheering our teammates on.  And you'll see the emotions, see the highs and the lows.  It's the coolest event that we have on tour and we need to get the crowds big and make it our biggest event of the year.
           
THE MODERATOR:  Beatriz, thank you for joining us.
           
BEATRIZ RECARI:  Let me catch my breath.
           
THE MODERATOR:  We were just talking about the entire experience of what it's like to be a part of the Solheim Cup, and Lizette, like you, both of you have never played in this event before.  So I asked Lizette already what would it mean to her to make a Solheim Cup team.  But what would it mean for you to make this your first Solheim Cup experience this year in Colorado?
           
BEATRIZ RECARI:  It would mean the world to me because I felt like I was so close to making the team two years ago, and I felt like I was just right there and I missed it.  So it was kind of a bitter feeling.  And you know, I decided to take the positive and just look at, okay, the important thing is that obviously the captain had her reasons and the important thing is that Europe takes the Cup whether I'm a part of it or not.
           
But you know, my entire focus was for these last two years to make sure that I got my spot fixed on the team, so to make sure that I was one of those four ranking players I made the team directly and that would be my goal since I missed two years ago.  And anyway, it would be great to make the team, but obviously being able to come back after that bitter disappointment, it would mean a lot.
           
THE MODERATOR:  Don't worry.  You haven't missed a whole lot in this press conference.  Just a lot of trash talking.  They'll get it going.  Don't worry.  Suzann already said you guys are one‑up because she beat Lizette earlier in a playoff this year.  So we could make it even, though.  But overall, as I was saying earlier, you guys are so used to playing an individual sport, and you know, we talked about between the teams kind of the trash talking and all the fun that goes on, but how do you pull together as a team?  When you say you find out your team a little over a week and a half pretty much before you start all playing together.  How do you kind of make yourselves come together as a team and is it something that comes pretty easily or is it something that takes a little time to get adjusted to?
           
STACY LEWIS:  I mean I really think it comes pretty easy.  We have it a little bit easier because most of the Americans are playing on the LPGA, so we see each other week in, week out and we know each other.
           
I don't know.  What are you laughing about?
           
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  I was thinking the same thing.
           
STACY LEWIS:  I don't know.  I mean we ‑‑ we do.  We all get along pretty well.  The hardest part is figuring out who plays what golf ball and partnering up and doing stuff like that.  I feel like that's the hardest part.
           
I don't know.  I think our quarter of the people that are coming back from the last one are so motivated that I think we're all going to be on the same page this year.
           
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  I think from how the European team always has been, always will be, it's very easy camaraderie across the distant borders.  I think there is nothing ‑‑ I've never felt like we've had to try really hard to get the team kind of connected together.  It's always been a natural thing for all of us.
           
That doesn't mean like you hang out every day during the season.  But there is ‑‑ you have a common sentimental platform that you all kind of stand for.  And I must say looking at the American team has changed a lot through the six times I played.  I mean when I first came out, there was more of the ‑‑
           
STACY LEWIS:  Like all Hall‑of‑Famers.
           
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  All Hall‑of‑Famers, kind of all the legends of the LPGA through the years, with Juli Inkster, Meg Mallon, Rosie Jones.  I mean you name it.  And now there's like a new group of girls coming up which to me seems like ‑‑ I don't know how to say it.  It seems like there's a new kind of spirit, younger spirit on the American team.  It's not like it's been a hurdle in the past, but it's just players come in, players go.  Some retire.  I mean many have rookies coming in, and I think it's just nice.
           
I think the team is one thing, but I think by far we have the best participation, with all the helpers.  Without them it would be quite boring.
           
Q.  For Lizette, you're hearing all this about all the excitement that goes into the Solheim Cup, but is it daunting and do you feel like it might interfere with your play trying so hard to make it?
LIZETTE SALAS:  It's definitely fired me up from the beginning of this year and looking at the points and just getting my name out there and playing with Stacy, playing with Suzann, playing with these top players in the world.  It's getting me fired up.
           
But I kind of have to also remind myself that the way I'm going to get on the team is by playing my golf.  And yeah, there could be pressure if I look into it more than I should.  But it's a blessing to be in the mix of all this and to be considered a possible teammate to Stacy and to Cristie and to Paula.  So I'm looking at this as a very good experience, and come August if I get picked, it'll be kind of surreal, but it'll be a good thing.

Q.  Beatriz, you've mentioned being disappointed not being picked the last Solheim Cup team.  But do you think maybe now you're better prepared to be on the team?
BEATRIZ RECARI:  Absolutely.  That's a great point.  Like I said, the last two years my focus was to ‑‑ even if I thought that my game was good enough to make the team, obviously I wasn't picked.  So I said, okay, maybe they are saying something.  And all I wanted to do is just improve my game to the level that needed to be done for my personal goals and obviously for the biggest goal that I had was to make the Solheim team, which is something amazing to be part of.  And like I said, I mean it just ‑‑ I took it as a positive.  I mean I took it as even extra motivation to make the team.  And you know, when Captain Ali called me and said unfortunately I wasn't going to make, I said, look, I'm worried but you're going to see me in the next one because obviously this is a goal, and like I said, I just took it as an even exchange and just to make the team, to be better and better.

Q.  This one is first for Suzann and then for everybody.  Suzann, going back two years to the matches at Killeen Castle, obviously you had that huge win over Michelle Wie.  Can you talk a little bit about some of your memories back then?  You guys both played so well down the stretch that day, and obviously it was one of the key matches in giving you guys the win.  You know, since then you've obviously continued to excel, but she hasn't been at the same level, and I'll open this up to all of you.  Do you think she has what it takes to join you guys in Colorado two years from now or what are your thoughts on that?
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  I mean going two years back it was an exciting single match.  My game plan was just to wear her out, by hitting fairways and greens and making putts.  I was just waiting for her to hit a few wild shots and then she'd lose it, but she didn't.  She really kept it together.
           
And I mean I was fortunate enough to win that match.  But she played fantastic golf, and I think the surroundings at the Solheim bring her passion and her heart into it.  I think sometimes she plays with a lot of pressure from herself.  And just seeing her in that environment an entire week really brings out her enjoyment of being out there playing golf, the way she did growing up.  So I think that kind of situation helped bring her out.

STACY LEWIS:  I agree with that.  I think some of Michelle's best weeks that she's had have been Solheim Cups.  And I don't know what that is.  If she could find that every week.
           
But she can still hit shots that nobody else on tour can hit.  She's just that talented.  And you know, she's kind of far down on the points right now and she's got some work to do, but ‑‑ 16th.  Yeah.  So I don't know.  I mean she's taken ownership of her game.  And I mean she works hard.  She's out there working on it.  So she wants to be on that team.  I know she does.  But I don't know.  We got some good ‑‑ Jennifer Johnson just winning; Lizette playing great, so I don't know.  She's got some work to do.

BEATRIZ RECARI:  What I was going to say is I haven't been on the team when she was competing on Solheim Cup, but what I saw on TV and after getting to know her is exactly what they said.  Personally I think once you get to know her, she's such a sweet girl that I think this mentality of you're winning for the States or you're winning for Europe, something greater than yourself as an individual, I think probably, you know, is what gets that fire in herself, inside her, to make her play so well, because you can definitely feel it when you're watching her on TV playing for the States, the United States.  I mean you can see that extra passion, definitely.
            So I mean that's probably maybe why, but like I said, she's a great player.  I mean obviously, okay, she's not getting the results she wants, but we can't forget that she has done a lot for women's golf.

Q.  Stacy, in terms of the Solheim Cup and the tour in general, what are your thoughts when you see players like Lizette, Jennie Johnson kind of break into this year and be on the leaderboard?
STACY LEWIS:  I think it's exciting.  I think it's great for the tour.  We've needed kind of some new players coming up and doing it the right way like they're doing it, and I think that's ‑‑ you know, it's only good things.  You know, we needed ‑‑ after coming off the last Solheim Cup, the bottom half of our team was struggling and so we needed to kind of pick it up a little bit.
           
And they're certainly playing great, and you know, I'm excited to see how they do when they get in the trenches and get into battle there, but I think they'll do great and I'll partner up with any one of them.

Q.  Suzann, was Laura Davies kind of your mentor for the Solheim Cup and do you maybe see yourself in that role?
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  Are you calling me old?

Q.  No, I got 12 years on you.  You're not that old.
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  You know what, you probably take a little bit more on that responsibility towards the new ones on the team.  For me the biggest thing I remember was my second Solheim I was on a home course in front of a home crowd.  And then I found out I was going to be paired with Annika.
           
I was.  There's no other word for it.  I mean I didn't know what to do.  I really didn't know what to do with myself.  I remember someone came up and said, why do you think they paired you up with Annika?  I'm like, I have no idea.  I don't know why.  I don't know what to do.
           
I don't think I can.  I don't even think I can get the ball on the first tee.  And then they say, well, maybe she asked to play with you.  And I'm like that's an interesting angle.  Okay.  So I kind of took a lot of positive from it.  And to be on the same team as her and being alongside her coming down the stretch, being inside her head taught me a lot.  I took a lot of knowledge, and I kind of learned a lot from her, and I thank her for that, but we also built a very strong friendship from that.
           
And that's the other neat thing with the Solheim, you bond for life with people you play with and team up with because you go through experiences and emotions that very rarely develop anywhere else.  And I must say I'm very appreciative of all the friendships that come out and all the memories I have of so many different players throughout the teams that I've played.  I really hope that Laura makes it.  She's played every single one.

Q.  Suzann, I was just going to ask you a quick question.  Are you going to give Beatriz any advice about the post‑match interviews and how to go about them?  (Laughs)?
SUZANN PETTERSEN:  You're really trying hard there, aren't you?  All I can say, I think NBC has learned a lesson.

STACY LEWIS:  Suzann's are always tape delayed now.

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  I'm always tape delayed.

THE MODERATOR:  Any more questions out there?  I have one last one.  There was so much drama that happened in that 2011 Solheim Cup.  It's great theater for golf fans to watch on that final day, and seeing Europe come back and win and you guys had kind of been waiting to get that cup back for a while, what do you think that added to this whole Solheim Cup rivalry, and what do you guys think of your chances for each team heading this year's Solheim Cup?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  Well, I think for Europe to win it in Ireland was huge.  I think it was good for the Cup.
           
That being said, I mean even though I've played on six, we won two and lost four, the four we've lost it's been very close.  It always comes down to four or five matches on Sunday.
           
And for the most part the U. S.'s matches (inaudible) points a round.  It looks like it's been a walk in the park.  That's not the case.  I mean there's putts here and there that goes in your favor, our favor.  It's tough, but I think it was good for the rivalry.  I think it was very good for women's golf in Europe and for the European Tour.

STACY LEWIS:  Yeah.  I mean as much as I hate to admit it, I think it was a great ‑‑ I mean not to say it was a great ‑‑ I mean it was a great win for them.  We would have liked to win.  But no matter who won, it was such great theater.  I mean it literally came down to the last two matches in the last three holes.  It could have gone either way.  And I think that's something that the Solheim Cup needed.
           
I don't know.  I mean I didn't ‑‑ I truthfully didn't really pay much attention in the past to the scores because it ended up looking pretty lopsided, but it was just so tight.  It was such great theater that I mean how can you not watch this and not be excited about the next one.
           
You know, I don't know.  I'm excited about our chances.  I'm excited to play the matches in the U. S.  It'll be my first international competition inside the United States.  So we'll have that hometown crowd with us.  So maybe we'll get a little one up there.  But I think it's going to be tight again, you know.  Each team is going to have their veterans, but each team is going to have rookies.  So it could be interesting.
           
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, ladies for joining us today.  I got to watch it on TV in 2011.  The drama was quite intense and it was so much fun to watch and it was more fun watching Twitter that day of everyone watching women's golf and talking about how amazing it.  So looking forward to seeing some great shots and great competition in August at Colorado Golf Club and looking forward to hopefully seeing all four of you there.

 

SPECIAL OLYMPICS AND SHOPRITE ANNOUNCEMENT
I.K. Kim, Special Olympics Global Ambassador for Golf
Lillian Narvaez, Chief Operating Officer, 2014 Special Olympics USA Games
Rick Saker, Director of Operations for Saker ShopRite
Lauren McCormac, Special Olympics athlete

THE MODERATOR:  All right.  We'd like to get started.  I'd like to introduce myself first.  I'm Meghan Flanagan.  I'm the tour media coordinator for the LPGA Tour, and I'd first like to just thank you all for coming in today and on behalf of the tour say how thrilled we are and excited to host and be a part of this announcement today with Special Olympics and ShopRite.  Wakefern Food Corporation and ShopRite have been wonderful partners of our tour for a number of years, and just last year right on this stage we announced I.K. as Special Olympics ambassador, which I think it is pretty fitting that we come together here today in New Jersey to make this announcement.
           
Let me introduce all of our star‑studded panelists.  To my far right we have Rick Saker.  He's director of operations for Saker ShopRite.  We have Lillian Narvaez, chief operating officer at the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games.  And then to my left we have Lauren McCormac of Delran, New Jersey, our Special Olympics representative.  She's a tennis standout, so hopefully we can get her started into some golf today.  And then to my immediate left we have I.K. Kim, who is a Special Olympics global ambassador for golf and also our LPGA Tour pro.
           
Through this announcement we'll have everyone come up and say a few words.  We'll do a special unveiling towards the end and we'll watch a short video.  Obviously we'll close with some questions and any one‑on‑one interviews you'd like to talk to anybody here up on stage.  And then immediately afterwards we'll do a short clinic.  I. K. will host with the rest of our athletes we have on the putting green out by the driving range for some great photo opportunities and any additional interviews.
           
So with that said I'd like to introduce Lillian up to the stage and get us kicked off.  (Applause).

LILLIAN NARVAEZ:  Thank you, Meghan.  In 2014 New Jersey will reveal America's champions at an historic changing event.  From the moment the athletes arrive in New Jersey, they will encounter a world‑class sporting event that celebrates their achievements and showcases their talents while empowering the nation to join in building communities of respect and acceptance.
           
Over 3,500 athletes from across the country will compete in 16 sports, be supported by 10,000 volunteers and cheered by thousands of fans.  The 2014 games will be the most inclusive national games to date with more Special Olympics unified sports competition, youth‑led initiatives and community involvement than ever before.
           
From Princeton and Rider Universities to the College of New Jersey and Mercer County Park, all eyes will be on these athletes as they demonstrate to the nation their strength, power and competitive spirits.
           
I would like to introduce our special guest, our Special Olympic athletes that are here in the audience.  Chris McCormac of Delran.  He's board of directors of New Jersey Special Olympics and also a tennis athlete.  We have Tom Monzo of Hamilton, a golfer and bowler.  For over 30 years he's participated in the sport.  Mike Chanese of Galloway, golf, bowler and Bocce athlete that will be competing next week at the New Jersey Special Olympic Summer Games.  We have Tracy Mussara from Summers Point; golfer, basketball player and a swimmer that will also be competing next week.  And then of course, Lauren McCormac from Delran who plays tennis and hopefully will be picking up the sport of golf, too.
           
I would like to ask Lauren to come and join me here to introduce a special guest who is here today for announcement (Applause).

LAUREN McCORMAC:  It is with great pleasure I introduce you to I. K. Kim, Special Olympics global ambassador for golf, who is also competing in the ShopRite LPGA Classic.  I. K. is a three‑time winner on the LPGA Tour, including 2010 Lorena Ochoa Invitational where she has donated her entire check to charity with half of the winnings going to Special Olympic.
           
I. K., thank you for joining us today and for your support.  (Applause).

I.K. KIM:  Hello everyone.  I hope you guys are doing well.  I'm here today ‑‑ actually, last year Lauren already mentioned, but I was named as a Special Olympics ambassador for golf, and here today at this great ‑‑ I mean very exciting announcement of ShopRite supporting 2014 Special Olympics Summer Games.  It's a very incredible announcement, and I'm very honored to be a part of it.
           
And well, I just wanted to share the memories that I had in Arizona last year at the North America Golf Invitational with Gracie and Jeff and some more athletes that I played with at the games.  And this is one of the incredible moments of 2013 for me because the passion and the joy that they had playing golf and just meeting me and just playing with other people, and I think golf is a great like sport for so many aspects.  You know, you're meeting people and also sharing your time with friends and community and everything.
           
So I hope everyone will have a chance to have that experience as volunteering for the Summer Games or either you can share your time, and your everything will mean a lot to the Special Olympics.
           
Also ‑‑ I don't know why I'm so nervous, but this is such a big thing, and I'm so excited because I couldn't be there at the Winter Olympics in Pyeong Chang last year, and I really look forward to next year the Summer Games.  Especially I would love to see Lauren playing tennis and be volunteering or just support for the games.
           
So the Special Olympics can reveal the champion in each of us.  Whether competitor, volunteer or family members or fans, Special Olympics is building community through the language of sports, and all of us can be a part of this movement.  So I wish everyone can join us and supporting these great athletes and get inspired.  So thank you very much.  (Applause).

LILLIAN NARVAEZ:  Thank you, I. K. Kim.  The support that ShopRite is providing the 2014 Special Olympics U. S. Games is immense.  Their role as the official supermarket of the games will allow our athletes and volunteers with nutritious lunches, snacks, beverages through the games, floral arrangements for the many receptions and special events throughout the week, broadcast recognition, outdoor signage, in‑store exposure.  I can go on and on with the incredible support that ShopRite is going to be providing for the games in 2014.  Thank you, ShopRite, for your continued dedication to the program and the goals of the 2014 USA Games, which is to create the most inclusive Special Olympics event in the history of the organization.
           
It is my great pleasure to introduce Rick Saker, the director of operations for Shaker ShopRite.  (Applause).

RICK SAKER:  Thank you very much.  And I. K., to echo your statements, this is a big deal.  It's a very big deal for ShopRite as well, and it's a real honor to be before you guys today.
           
Good afternoon.  My name is Rick Saker.  I'm glad to be here representing all the ShopRite stores and making this special announcement on this very special day.  We thought the LPGA Classic would be a great place to announce our sponsorship of the 2014 USA Games which will be held right here in our state of New Jersey.  And I'm thrilled to be joined here today by some of our Special Olympics athletes and I. K. Kim, one of our fantastic LPGA Classic competitors who was out there playing with you guys today.  Got a little sunburned, but it was an excellent day.  Great breeze, great friends.
           
ShopRite has long been a supporter of the New Jersey Special Olympics.  Hundreds of volunteers from our stores turn out each year to help with the state games.  In fact, our volunteers will be at it again, this year during two days of Special Olympics competition, June 8th and June 9th at the College of New Jersey.
           
Some of those wonderful athletes actually work in our very own ShopRite stores, which is also a true honor.  The Special Olympics transforms athletes' lives through the joy of sport, and we all hope that you'll turn out with ShopRite next year to cheer on these special athletes.  We all win when we support the Special Olympics, and we hope you'll be with us next year to be part of that victory.
           
At this time I'd like to invite Lillian from the Special Olympics, I. K. Kim and Lauren to join me up here, right over here as we unveil the newly created logo, the joint logo that shows the partnership between the Special Olympics and ShopRite.  (Applause).  Ready?  On the count of three:  One, two, three.  (Applause).
           
And last but not least, today ShopRite is honored to pledge one million dollars in support to the Special Olympics USA Games in New Jersey.  I'd like at this time to invite my fellow ShopRite owners to join me up here as we present this check for the one million dollars to Lillian and the athletes of the 2014 Special Olympics Games in the USA.  (Applause).

LILLIAN NARVAEZ:  In advance of the 2014 Special Olympics U. S. Games, in conjunction with Special Olympics North America, we will be hosting the 2013 Golf Invitational on October 17th through the 20th with over 200 Special Olympic golfers and their unified sports partners competing right here at the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club.  We hope to see you there.
           
This has been a wonderful day, and we are so proud to have ShopRite officially unveiled as a founding partner for the 2014 Games.  We have a brief video of thanks to ShopRite for their continued support that we would like to share with you.  Before the video is played, I would like to take a quick moment to thank I. K. Kim, all the Special Olympic athletes and especially the ShopRite LPGA Classic staff, including tournament director Tim Erensen, Meghan Flanagan and all the wonderful people who allowed us to be here today to make this announcement.  Thank you, and we look forward to seeing you all at the Games.  (Applause).
           
(The following video was played:)
           
"Special Olympics USA Games to have given our athletes a chance to show what they are capable of accomplishing and in the process will change the perception people have of individuals with intellectual disabilities.  Each time an athlete steps up to the starting line, it's because you stepped up to support them.  The 2014 Special Olympics USA games will be a once in a lifetime opportunity.  3500 athletes, 70,000 spectators, 10,000 volunteers and the eyes of the world will be on New Jersey.  Thank you.  We couldn't do it without you."

Q.  ShopRite could give to a lot of causes.  What's special about the Special Olympics?  Why does your company want to get involved in the Special Olympics?
RICK SAKER:  The Special Olympics touches so many lives in the communities that we operate in.  Many of our stores are located in the state of New Jersey, so we thought this was a tremendous opportunity seeing as the Special Olympics will be in New Jersey this up coming year, 2014.  And again, touching so many lives throughout our communities?

Q.  And one more for I. K.  Sort of the same question for you, you know, what attracts you to the Special Olympics cause?  Why do you want to be involved in the Special Olympics?
           
I.K. KIM:  It's such a great movement that I've learned the past few years, before I was announced to be ambassador for golf.  But I think we're all saying ‑‑ for me ‑‑ well, actually that I can only help giving them a clinic or just, you know, as a helping point.
           
But for me I'm learning more from the Special Olympics athletes that have the passion and the joy from playing golf or playing different sports and they were accepted as athletes, not as disabilities.  And I think we have such a wrong ‑‑ well, for me, I had a wrong perspective of seeing ‑‑ you know, everybody is different, but it just gave me so much more education and a kind of different aspect as well.
           
So I think for me I think it's one of the best things that I've achieved over the years playing golf.  If I wasn't playing on the LPGA Tour, I wouldn't ever have opportunity to be involved in this great movement.  So I feel just grateful for that.

 

Topics: Notes and Interviews, ShopRite LPGA Classic

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