U.S. Women's Open Conducted by the USGA
CHRISTINA LANCE: Thank you for coming back. We're at the 68th U.S. Women's Open at Sebonack Golf Club at Southampton, New York. I'm pleased to welcome 2008 U.S. Women's Open champion Inbee Park with us. Inbee, to say that you're having an amazing 2013 is, I think, an understatement. What has the last few months been like for you?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, it has been great for me. I've played very good golf the last two or three months. Yeah, everything's been going the right way. Everything's going the way I really want it to. I'm hitting the ball and striking it great and putting it very well. Especially last week, I striked the ball very well, and that gave me a lot of confidence coming into this week. I'm having two wins before this week, yeah.
CHRISTINA LANCE: Have you played golf any better than you are right now?
INBEE PARK: I don't think I have. This is the best I'm playing in my career so far. Yeah, I'm trying to keep this going.
Q. I'm sure you've probably over the years seen some women dominate the game in the last decade or so with Annika and then Lorena and Yani most recently. Do you feel like you might be headed in that direction? Did you observe those players as they were doing that and wonder how they could sustain it for so long?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I mean, I really admire them, where they were positioned, how they handled that kind of pressure. I think they've done such a great job of handling that pressure and playing under the pressure. I think it's something that's very good.
Yeah, I'm trying to do that. It's not the easiest thing. I've got to do a lot of things on the golf course, off the golf course that is a bit different and different to things that I've done before.
Just a lot of things that I have to do, but a lot more pressure on me, but this is somewhere that I've always wanted to come. Yeah, I'm trying to enjoy where I am and trying to keep this going as long as I can.
INBEE PARK: I have a mental coach in Korea, and I talk to her every week before the tournament, during the tournament and try to talk to her and try to get a little bit of the pressure off. She's been helping me a lot. Since after the U.S. Open, I've been working with her.
Other than that, I think there is no way that you won't feel the pressure, because you will always feel the pressure, but it's just the more you experience it you just feel it a little less and less over the time. Now when I'm in the position where I am and when I'm in the winning position, and I've been there a lot, so it's just knowing what I have to do. I think that's been a big help for me.
Q. Just on the same subject of how you keep yourself relaxed off the course, I remember at Wegmans you told me that you had a big day set up that Na Yeon was going to cook for you at her house. How did that go? What was that like?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I had a week off at Na Yeon's house after Wegmans. And, yeah, she cooked Korean food a couple of days and her manager and her trainer cooked also. I mean, we try to help each other in cooking. I mean, we were professionals, but we were close enough that I had a pretty good food there. And where she practiced was great, and I had a great time there.
Q. It seems you have a good relationship. Even your closest competitors are your good friends. How do you stay friends with them?
INBEE PARK: You've just got to really separate yourself from the golf course and off the golf course. On the golf course, you might be playing against them, but they are very good friends off the golf course. So I mean you really just have to separate yourself from when you're in the playing mode or you're not in the playing mode.
Yeah, just outside the golf course, they're just friends. On the golf course they're somebody I have to beat, but that's golf. That's competition, and that's just got to happen. Sometimes she's going to play better, sometimes I'm going to play better, and that's just, I think, always going to happen.
Q. A little off the subject, but American players and European players have the Solheim Cup. Would you like on to see ‑‑ there are so many great Asian players, would you like to see a Presidents Cup style match, and how do you think that team would fare?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I mean, that kind of team play is a little bit different for us. I think to experience something like that would be great for us. I think it's going to be a lot of fun. A lot of friends get together and play golf together as a team. I think it's going to be something very different, and I think it would be very fun. Yeah, I wish we had something. But we have the International Crown next year, so looking forward to that.
Q. Inbee, can you tell me about your schedule a little bit? Do you try to cut back a little bit more now that you're winning more to be able to focus on the majors, or do you pretty much play in every tournament and keep charging?
INBEE PARK: Well, I try to play every tournament on the LPGA schedule. I'll probably end up missing two or three events at the end of the year. Yeah, I'm not playing as much independents anymore.
Last year I played a little bit over in Japan, but this year I'm really going to focus on playing LPGA tournaments and tournaments over here.
Q. There have been so many dominant women over the last ten, 20 years, starting with Annika and Yani, and there don't seem to be as many men that completely dominate the way they have. Do you have any thoughts on why that might be?
INBEE PARK: I think that's just the nature of the LPGA Tour at the moment. I think there are just so many competitive players out here who are able to win every week. I think the field is just getting stronger and stronger over the years, and now, yeah, there are just so many players that are just so good. It's tough to win a lot of tournaments here.
Q. During this stretch that you're on, is there ‑‑ are there a couple of common denominators, other than putting, which obviously you've been doing beautifully, that you can put your finger on as to why you've had this run of success?
INBEE PARK: Yes, because after the Open I was having a lot of trouble with my tee shot, missing it right, push type of balls. But, yeah, I fixed it a lot the last couple of years and I was able to hit a lot more fairways. I think that's been a big help. I've been giving myself a lot of opportunities for birdie, whereas before I was almost putting for pars all the time. But now I have a lot of opportunities at birdies. My long game I think has improved a lot more.
Q. As a follow‑up, what in particular are you driving?
INBEE PARK: I had an early release from the downswing, but I worked with my fiancee and tried to bring that downswing down a little bit deeper and not release as early as before. Trying to concentrate on the follow‑through. I think that's been working very good.
Q. How did you get to be such a good putter?
INBEE PARK: I honestly think because I've missed so many greens and fairways after the Open, I was just hitting it everywhere. I had to get it up‑and‑down from everywhere. I think that's where it came down to. I've improved a lot on my short game, because I had to hit it out of so many places. I had to make it up‑and‑down to make a par. I probably missed nine or ten greens per round every round. I was hitting it horribly after the U.S. Open. Trying to get up‑and‑downs from everywhere gave me a lot of focus. Yeah, I think just very good concentration and just experience on the clutch putts. I've putted a lot of those before, yeah.
Q. How old were you when you moved to Las Vegas and what was that transition like? It seems that Las Vegas is a hard place to move to from anywhere, but what was that like for you?
INBEE PARK: Well, I think because we really wanted to move to the west side because it was closer to my home, to Korea. The main thing was that I was going to the Butch Harmon school back then when I was in high school, so that was the main reason why I moved there and trying to play golf there.
Q. When you said you started working with a mental coach after the Open, was it the '08 Open or last year's Open?
INBEE PARK: '08 Open.
Q. And what is her name?
INBEE PARK: Sookyung Cho.
Q. I'm sure your conversations have changed in recent weeks. Can you just talk about how she's helped you deal with going into a major where you're the favorite this time, and you've won the last two, and how you're mentally coping with all that added pressure?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I mean, she tried to ‑‑ she tried to let me focus on something like one thing on the golf course. You know, not to think about something else. If it's red, just think about red. That is just an example. Whatever I'm thinking on my swing, that's all I think about on the golf course. Yeah, just trying to focus on one thing.
Sometimes she tells me that I have to think when I was playing very bad, what I was thinking. I was happy that I made a cut. Trying to go back and think about what you were thinking before, that's been helping me a lot.
Q. After leaving Las Vegas, how much money would you put on yourself to win this week?
INBEE PARK: I don't know. I don't know. I know I'm the favorite, but there are 156 players out here trying to win and trying to play for this trophy. I mean, I don't know.
Q. Hard question. I apologize. The second one, how does the course set up in general for you with the wide fairways and being a second‑shot course?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I mean, the wide fairways, the tee shot is the easiest part on this golf course, actually. Second shot is quite tough with the slopy greens. You just don't know where the ball is going to roll out to. You've really got to know the greens very well and really place the second shots in the right positions.
There is a lot of thinking going on on this golf course, I think. Playing so many different tees and the greens are just very undulated. It's just going to be a very big challenge this week.
I think we're going to have some three‑putts here, but I think you have to take your medicine and try to be really patient on the greens here.
Q. Speaking of the importance of second shots, it seems like that's kind of the word on this golf course and that's where you have to excel. What have you done to work on that part of your game, your approach shots and into the green?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I mean, if you missed a green, you go quite far away from the pin here. So it's almost impossible to get up‑and‑downs from certain spots. There are certain spots that you can't really miss to. You've got to miss to the right side. Yeah, I mean, you've really got to know the greens better. You've got to ride the greens where it's sloping, and you've got to be able to hit where you want to.
Q. How many times have you played this course? How many visits have you had here?
INBEE PARK: This is my first time. Today I played the back nine first time. Yesterday I played the front nine. Today I played 18 holes. So I'm trying to get twice before I go into playing.
Q. In terms of how you relax or get away from golf, you have your fiancee, you play the piano, what is really most important for you to help break from the pressures of golf?
INBEE PARK: Well, I'm actually ‑‑ I think I'm really good at forgetting about golf when I'm off the golf course. I don't think about golf once I'm off the golf course. So didn't really have to do anything to forget about it. But I just, when I go home, I just feel very relaxed and watch some TV. Yeah, I mean, I don't think about golf as much when I go back home.
The weeks that I've been having recently, I don't think I really need to think about golf outside the golf course. I'm just very happy when I'm off the golf course.
Q. Given the importance of slopes on the greens, how much have you and your caddie relied on the digital mapping of those greens? Does that help you? Does it get in your way? Not just the yardage book, but the second book, the digital mapping?
INBEE PARK: I didn't get to see the second book. My caddie looks at the books. I don't look at the books.
Q. Would you rather be the favorite coming in or would you rather come from behind and be the underdog?
INBEE PARK: I mean, I have won a lot of tournaments coming from behind, so, I mean, I would think going into the final round as a leader is the better position. I mean, you have an advantage over others. So I think I can ‑‑ I kind of like both, but you definitely have less pressure when you're going from behind, yeah.
Q. You definitely seem like you are very, very happy and at peace with not only your golf game but just your overall approach, and that's got to be helpful coming into a pressure‑packed situation like the U.S. Open.
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I've had a lot of wins this year and that's definitely taken a lot of pressure off of me. Coming into this season after last season I was really doubting myself if I could do as good as last year, but I've done a lot better this year. Yes, I mean, that's just been putting a lot of pressure off of me, and it's just been helping my game a lot. Yeah, not feeling as pressured as before.
Q. How did you ‑‑ I know you told us before when you first started playing amateur tournaments that you didn't even know how to ask to tend the pin. How did you get so good at English? Did you watch American shows? How did you improve so much?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, when I first came to the States, my mom wouldn't let me go back to Korea for a couple of years, two or three years, because she wanted us to speak English all the time and not speak so much of Korean. We love watching Korean TV shows, but she stopped us from watching Korean TV shows, trying to watch American movies and trying to listen to American music, and trying to get used to the culture and it helped me a lot. Obviously, going to school with no Korean kids was, yeah. I couldn't speak Korean when I was in school because we only had my sister and I in the school that were Korean.
Q. Do you have a favorite movie?
INBEE PARK: I like "The Notebook" movie, yeah.
Q. You mentioned playing this course only twice before Thursday. Is that your normal preparation for a new venue at a major?
INBEE PARK: Well, I have tried coming to the course, the Women's Open course before, and I've only done that once before. That was my worse finish, so I just tried to come show up for the week and have a couple of practice rounds. Just try to get to know the course when I'm here.
I mean, when I was here like a month before, you try to see the course like a month before, it's a little bit of different conditions. So I think it's just best to see the course right before the tournament.
Q. What was that course that you visited prior to the U.S. Open? Which course was that?
INBEE PARK: It was 2009.
CHRISTINA LANCE: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, my name's Christina Lance. I'm very happy to welcome you all to the 68th playing of the U.S. Women's Open Championship here at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, New York. Thank you for coming and thank you to Stacy Lewis for joining us today. Stacy is competing in her 7th Women's Open, best finish being tied for third in 2008. Looking at the schedule so far this year, you have two victories, off to a good start, ranked second in the world. How do you feel coming into the championship?
STACY LEWIS: Well, actually, I feel really good. Kind of worked on some things last week and played really well last week. I'm really excited about where my golf swing is at and the way I hit the ball.
Last week I was just a couple putts away from winning the tournament. So, I'm really excited about my game. I love this golf course. It's a second‑shot golf course, which I think suits my game pretty well, so I'm just ready to get going.
CHRISTINA LANCE: You said you played the back nine yesterday getting ready for your first 18. What's it like coming into a championship? Have you played the course before? What's it like coming into the championship where you don't necessarily have the background?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I played Sebonack two years ago in a charity event. But, I don't know. I've never been one ‑‑ I've never liked coming in early to play a U.S. Open course ahead of time, because I feel like the conditions can change a lot in that couple of weeks before, so I've never been one to do that. I like to just get here the week before and learn the golf course.
We get three practice rounds, so I think you have plenty of time to learn the course, and I don't know. I think it's going to be a good test this week though.
Q. Stacy, how do you feel about playing a links style course for the U.S. Open? How does that compare to say the British where you're on a bay, you're on the water, you're going to get wind, you could get weather?
STACY LEWIS: I really like links‑style course. I like it because you can be very creative. There is more than one way to get the ball to the hole.
It feels like the last few U.S. Opens, it's all been how straight you can drive the ball, and that is kind of who has won the tournament. So I like this year that you don't have to drive it perfect off the tees, but you've got to play smart into the greens. You can take it off of ridges, you can go multiple ways to get the ball close, and I like that. I think it brings in another aspect of the game that the U.S. Opens haven't tested in the past few years.
Q. I know you've told us about your relationship with this tournament, your desire to win it. Can you just expand on that a little bit? What the history has been like for you and what your desire is like to win this event?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I mean, if you're a U.S. player, this is your National Championship. This is the tournament you want to win. This is the trophy you want to have. It's definitely been my nemesis the last few years. I think more of the emotional side of it, I haven't handled very well.
So this week, my number one goal is to see how level I can remain all week. I think you look at Justin Rose, when he won a couple weeks ago, he didn't get ‑‑ he got excited when he made a birdie, but he didn't get too excited. When he made a bogey, he didn't get too upset. So I think it's how level you can stay all week and how patient you can be.
Q. Do you change your game plan at all because of the golf course?
STACY LEWIS: Well, I think every week our game plan is always changing depending on the conditions of the course. It will change throughout the week depending on how firm the golf course gets.
Yesterday I hit a lot of drivers, and I think during the tournament there will be a lot of 3‑woods off tees just because the ball will be rolling out more. So I think your game plan at a U.S. Open is always changing.
Q. How unique do you find the green complexes?
STACY LEWIS: Oh, the greens are probably the toughest part this week. I mean, what me and my caddie did yesterday is we looked at all the hole locations and said where do we need to leave it for this one? Where can you miss it? where can you not hit it, and that is the key. You can't miss it in the wrong places. You've got to be below the hole. You can't get above the hole and have all these downhill, sidehill putts, because you're going to three‑putt them. So you've got to be really smart into the greens. You can't just hit the middle of the green and move on. You've got to ‑‑ sometimes missing the green a little bit short might be better.
Q. You've talked about keeping your emotions level. Have you done anything in preparation for that?
STACY LEWIS: I mean, there is really not a whole lot you can do until you get out there. But I tried to work on it some last week. Being in Arkansas was really, it felt like a major championship to me. So I kind of used that as an experience to help me learn on trying to keep those emotions in check, and not getting too upset. I really thought I handled it pretty well. I didn't play as well as I would have liked on Sunday, but I was still able to have fun at the end of the round and come out of there with a lot of positives.
Q. Have there been times in the past U.S. Opens where you've looked back and said, oh, I could have handled that better? Is there a particular instance?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I think Colorado Springs. I don't remember exactly what round. I think it was the middle of the second round, and I kind of had a bad stretch of four or five holes, and I let that decide the whole golf tournament for me.
You know, I think looking back, if I would have ‑‑ you know, everybody's going to have a bad stretch of holes, and if I would have just been okay with it and just kind of kept trucking through it, I would have been fine. But instead I let it affect the rest of the tournament, and I went from tied for the lead and I think I finished 40th. So I really kind of let things go the other way.
Q. Do you know what round that was?
STACY LEWIS: I don't remember exactly. I think it was the second round.
Q. Couple of things with regard to what you're talking about there. It's interesting. Do you observe the men's game sometimes and do you watch it on TV? You mentioned what you saw Justin. Is that kind of a regular practice for you to just pick things up like that, whether it's Tiger or anybody?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I think I've always been a player that I like to learn from other people, and I especially like watching people under pressure and watching how they handle the big situations. So watching that on Sunday, I think I learned a lot from it. I don't know. I guess I probably watched it more because the U.S. Open has been the tournament. If you look at my record the last two years that's kind of the one that stands out.
I watch Karrie Webb, I watch Yani, I watch what Inbee's doing. You can learn a lot from watching other players.
Q. Follow‑up, completely unrelated. When you were younger and Annika was on her run, and Lorena was on her run, and then Yani had the run, what did you observe out of that to have that sustained success? Now that you've had a couple of good years now and you've kind of elevated yourself, can you speak to the difficulty of sustaining it?
STACY LEWIS: Well, truthfully, I didn't really watch a whole lot of golf when Annika was doing what she did. I mean, I think what I can draw from is Yani. She played so good for so long. What it really was was making putts under pressure. I think you look at what Inbee's doing right now, and she's making putts under pressure. I think that's how you play good golf. I've been fortunate that I've been able to do that.
My putting has been a little streaky, but overall the last few years I've putted really well, and that's how you play good, consistent golf.
Q. One follow‑up to that, is it difficult to kind of continue? You're hungry for the U.S. Open right now. Is it difficult to keep that hunger for a sustained period of time? Is it human nature to be happy at the top and then it's time to see that?
STACY LEWIS: Not for me. I always want to win golf tournaments. That's my goal every week is to win. The rankings and all that stuff are nice, but I just want to give myself a chance to win on Sunday. And that, to me, never gets old. Being in contention, being in those last few groups, feeling the nerves, that's what I play for. So if that ever gets old for me, then I'm doing this for the wrong reasons.
Q. I noticed you're playing with Karrie this afternoon. Did you play with her yesterday as well? I'm sure that's not by chance. I know you guys are friends, but did you want to play here with her purposefully? She's won a couple of these tournaments where you can pick her brain out there?
STACY LEWIS: We've played a practice round together the last few years. She's asked me to play with her. And you can't really say no to that. So it's fun though. It's fun to watch her, watch how she prepares for them, and watch what chip shots ‑‑ she's hitting a lot of chip shots around the greens. Not hitting too many shots into ‑‑ not really worrying about that too much, but doing a lot of short game.
I've been fortunate. She's been a mentor and she's been a friend to me. But as I said before, I've learned so much from her that the more you play with her, I think you learn something every time.
Q. I know last week you really want to win that badly and Inbee Park took that one. Can you talk about how she's pushing you and elevating your game? Obviously, she's a great putter, but what else you're impressed by?
STACY LEWIS: It's frustrating for the rest of us, that's for sure. I know people like to see somebody make history and do all of that, but for players it's frustrating to see someone sit there and win week after week after week. But she's making good putts and she's steady. Every time I feel like she may have an okay round and then the next day she's up there on the leaderboard again.
She's just always there, always giving herself a chance, and nothing really seemed to faze her. That's the big thing. She just makes putt after putt after putt, and she's there at the end of the day.
Q. I'm wondering, compared to the men's TOUR, it seems like the LPGA or the women's group has a succession of these women that absolutely dominate, like Annika and Lorena, and Yani and now Inbee. Do you have any thoughts on why that happens more in the women's game?
STACY LEWIS: I honestly have no idea. I don't know. I think we have a lot of great players at the top, but I don't know why people have gone on runs like that. Obviously, it's hard to stay there. I don't know if you could quite say that Inbee is quite there yet, but over the last year she's played really, really good. I mean, Yani did it for three or four years, so I don't know what it is. I'd like to get on that run whatever it is.
Q. You started off the year really hot and you won two tournaments back‑to‑back, rose to No. 1, and you kind of had a stretch of inconsistent play or whatever you want to call it. Can you talk about ‑‑ was that because you were No. 1, the pressure of that?
STACY LEWIS: It's golf. I think golf you go on streaks where you play good. You go on streaks where you play poorly. I don't feel like I played that poorly. I don't see it as I lost No. 1. I see it as Inbee just took it from me. She came out and she bulldozed the field the last two majors.
I don't feel like I lost it, I just feel like somebody's playing better. That motivates me to want to get there. It's just kind of the way ‑‑ golf is just a roller coaster. It's just the way it is.
Q. I wanted to find out how did you get here this week? Were you part of that charter on Sunday night or Monday morning?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, we finished about 6:30 in Arkansas, and we were on a charter flight that left about 8 o'clock, and we landed here on Long Island about 11:30, then got to bed about 1:00 a.m.
Q. What was that like? What's it say about the camaraderie of your TOUR that basically the whole TOUR came to this tournament together?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, well, obviously it made it easy. Arkansas's hard to get anywhere from, but to get here, it made it pretty easy. It's fun. I mean, we travel as a TOUR. We're a family out here. A lot of us don't have our families traveling week‑in and week‑out so, we stay together on the road. We rent hotels together, we rent houses together, and it's just kind of the way things are out here.
Q. Unrelated, but you started out by saying that you're so proud, this is such a big event for American players and things go in cycles. Americans have their dominance, Korean players have their dominance. What do you feel right now, where is American women's golf, and what do you feel about the future of it?
STACY LEWIS: I honestly feel like we're going in the right direction. We're having a lot of young talents getting some experience of being in those final groups. Jessica Korda has played well this year, Lizette Salas lost in the playoffs. So they're getting what it feels like to be in those final groups, and that's what it takes to really win majors and move up the rankings is to get experience in those final groups. So they're doing that.
They're fiery and they're young, so I'm excited about it. We have Solheim in a couple of months, and it's, I think we're going into a good time. We have a good mix of veterans, and we have some young ones coming up too.
CHRISTINA LANCE: Do you ever have the opportunity to mentor one of the young players? I mean, you're still one of the young players yourself, but you talk about the Lizettes and the Jessicas coming up, what kind of advice do you have for them?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I try to whenever they have questions about things. I stayed and watched Lizette's playoff in Hawaii, and she was pretty devastated when it ended. I kind of just grabbed her and took her to the locker room and gave her her time to kind of get over it because we've all been there. We all know what that feels like. So I try to do what I can to help out the girls. And just to show, I mean, more than anything, I want them to see that you can go to college for four or five years and still come out and win golf tournaments, win majors and be No. 1 in the world. And that's what I hope the young players are seeing.
Q. You recently mentioned you weren't too sure about how long a playing window you're going to have because of your back. Watching Ken Duke win this past week, does that boost your confidence for having a longer window?
STACY LEWIS: It does. It definitely put a smile on my face. I've actually met Ken and we talked about our backs and stuff. He's in his mid‑40s and he's still playing golf at a high level and he's competitive. The doctors don't really know what our timeframe is, how long we can do what we're doing. So the fact that he's doing it is definitely exciting for me.
Q. Do you work with a sports psychologist?
STACY LEWIS: No, I don't.
Q. Have you thought about doing that?
STACY LEWIS: Nope (laughing). I go out there and I hit the ball, go find it.
CHRISTINA LANCE: Stacy, any last words?
STACY LEWIS: I just wanted to add that with KPMG this week, I have my blue hat on today because we're doing a KPMG Blue for Books. Whenever people buy my hat, and whenever you buy the hat, 100% of the proceeds goes to buying three books for underprivileged kids. We're starting this week. KPMG started this with Phil a few weeks ago, so it's cool to be part of that, and we're launching it this week.
CHRISTINA LANCE: Great cause there. Thank you so much, Stacy. We wish you the best this week.
STACY LEWIS: Thank you very much.
CHRISTINA LANCE: This is the 68th U.S. Women's Open at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, New York. We're very pleased to have Yani Tseng with us here. Yani is competing in her 8th Women's Open. Her best finish being 10th in 2010. Yani, we were just saying that you had the chance to play the course, tell us what you think about it.
YANI TSENG: I came here a couple weeks earlier to play two practice rounds here, and I think I love this golf course. As soon as I got here, I saw the beautiful view and everything here, I feel very relaxed here. And the golf course is very tough, the greens are very tricky. I don't know. I always love to play on kind of like links golf course, and I think this course just makes you think more and it can be a very, very good challenge. You might hit a good shot and end in a bad place or you might hit a bad shot in a good place. You never know. It's the U.S. Open, you need to be very patient on this golf course. I'm very excited and looking forward to Thursday.
CHRISTINA LANCE: We were talking about how warm it is. How do you fare when it's so warm outside?
YANI TSENG: I don't expect this in Long Island. But I think in my mind, it's just very fresh. Even when the weather was warm, my mind is just so excited for this week. So I think it doesn't matter how the weather is going to be. I'm going to feel excited, and I'm going to feel I'm ready for this week.
Q. I was watching a lot of players are spending a lot of time chipping, recovery, short game. When you're looking at this golf course, are you looking at places where you want to hit the ball, where you don't want to hit it? A lot of these greens you're playing maybe defensively. Could you talk about how you approach these particular sets of greens?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I think this course, I think par is your friend. Par would be very good on a U.S. Open golf course like this. I'm looking at the ball where I want to finish. So I mean, there is some place that you really don't want to go, but there are some places that you really need to play smart. Just hit the middle of the green every time and make par, make a two‑putt. Don't be too aggressive on this golf course. There are some holes that you can really go out there and try to make birdie, but there are some holes that you really need to play safe and play smart.
I think some of the greens are really, really crazy. You hit it the left edge of the green and you might finish on the right edge of the green, so you never know.
But you need to kind of picture your shot and imagine your shot on this golf course, and I think it's very important.
Q. Could you talk a little bit about it stands out that you haven't won a U.S. Open yet. You've won so many others. What is it about the Open that's kept it from you? Stacy Lewis was in here a few minutes ago saying it's been her nemesis because she's played very well, obviously, and hasn't broken through?
YANI TSENG: I think it's about time for me to win this tournament. Like I said, this is my 8th U.S. Open, and I always feel really good here. I feel very comfortable and confident in my game, and I love this golf course. I think this golf course suits a long hitter, and then my ball can spin on this golf course. I think it depends on how soft or how firm they put on this course and how they set up.
But I think I have a good advantage on this golf course. Winning a U.S. Open has always been my dream. Honestly, playing in the U.S. Open was my dream when I was an amateur. Now I can not just play, but I can think about winning this tournament. It's huge for me. It's big step for me moving forward, and I really appreciate it and I'm very, very happy to be here just playing this tournament.
The score is always very important and everybody's here to try to win this tournament. But for me, I want to be here enjoying every moment of the U.S. Open, and enjoy every shot I can and do the best I can do and just have fun this week.
My whole family, my brother, my manager, my mom, they're here, so I'm just very happy. I think they're very happy to be here and to spend time with my family and show them my best performance.
Q. You know what it's like to be the dominant player in the game. When you look at Inbee Park right now, what do you see, what do the other players see? How conscious are you of what she's doing week to week?
YANI TSENG: I know. She's been playing so consistently and she's a very nice person. I've played with her many times when we were amateurs, and she was always that good, especially her putting.
I remember one time we were playing the Public Links, and I beat her in a match. But after that, her coach told me, Yani, you need to work on your putting. You can be a great player. I said, okay, I'll do that.
I've known her a long time, and I'm very happy to see her dominate. But I just feel like every time after the tournament me and my caddie are talking, oh, Inbee won again. Oh, Inbee's on top of the leaderboard again. I think that's how I feel when I play my best that people are talking that way about me too. So it's kind of very funny.
I think it's good that ‑‑ I don't know, I'm not World No. 1, but it's always good that you have people in front of you that you can chase and you can achieve it. So I feel very relaxed now. I mean, being World No. 1 is always good, but my goal is winning a tournament. Doesn't matter how big or how small the tournament is. I just want to go out there and find my confidence and win a tournament.
Q. If I could follow up on that, could you tell us maybe a little bit more about Inbee, the person, maybe that you've gotten to know? We sort of see how steady she is out there, but what is maybe more of her personality that you've seen or a side of her that maybe we don't see?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I think she's a very, very nice person. When you see her on the golf course, she makes putts, she misses putts, she doesn't really get very emotional. She's always staying very quiet at the same time. Like after 18 holes, you don't know if she shot 10‑under or 10‑over. She's the same always.
I think she's the kind of player like that, like very relaxed on the course. If she wins, she's happy. If she doesn't, she goes to the next week. She doesn't really ‑‑ like she cares about the result, but she really doesn't show how much she cares about the result. I think so many players want to try to be like that and to learn that because you want to enjoy the golf course and smile on the golf course. Doesn't matter how you play, you want to get excited, you want to get mad, but she's always the same.
Outside the golf course, she's just such a nice person. I really get along with her because most of the time we talk on the golf course and she seems very nice at helping other people.
Q. With regard to Inbee, you were on top for a good while there. Did you feel a lot of pressure to stay there and to sustain? How much pressure do you think is ratcheted up on Inbee now winning the first two majors of the year?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, when I was on top, it really gave me a lot of pressure. So now it's good that someone can experience that a little bit too because everybody wants to be in your shoes, but nobody knows how tough it is to be on top, especially when no one is in front of you.
After I had a great year in 2011, I was thinking what is my goal next year? It's so hard to find your goal if no one is in front of you.
I think everybody is different. I talked to Annika, I talked to some people, and then me and Annika are totally different personalities. She told me, you need to find a way to stay on top. Maybe her way doesn't suit me, maybe my way doesn't suit Inbee because everybody's a different personality.
So like Tiger, he's in a different way than Rory McIlroy. So you really need to find your way and find your balance to stay on top, to keep improving your swing, keep improving your status and do the best you can do and try not to think about anything. It's hard not putting the pressure because people are going to put pressure on you. When you play good like Inbee, people are going to think she's winning every week. I think she will think that too. When I play my best, I thinking I'm here, I can win every week. It's a really tough game. In golf, if you don't finish on the last putt, you really don't know who is going to win the tournament.
Q. This is kind of a follow‑up to that. Back in, say, 2011, when you were winning every tournament or almost all of them or a lot of them, what was that like? Did you feel like I'm definitely going to win, I can't miss? Or did you feel I can't believe I'm playing this well? It's going to break at some point. How did it feel?
YANI TSENG: I don't think too much, actually. I went out on the course and I was just very happy. I was having fun. Even if I missed a shot, I was smiling because I was just really happy to be on the golf course. I didn't put any pressure. I wasn't thinking winning too. I was just playing my game. Even if I had a missed shot, I felt like it's going to get a lucky bounce. That's how positive you are thinking when you're playing your best.
But, after that, if I hit a bad shot I feel like, oh, I'm going to have a bad bounce or I hit a good shot, and it's hard to recover. I think the positive thinking and negative thinking and your confidence on the golf course changes so much on your mind.
But I think when I'm playing my best ‑‑ I mean, everything is confidence. Doesn't matter how people talk bad things about you or good things about you, you always turn out the positive things. So you really need to find that way in playing golf and to play the best you can. I think now I feel very confident now. I feel very comfortable, and I can really ignore how people talk about me. I just want to really be happy as a person that I can be on the course and be myself.
Q. This is a writers question, but I'm curious the relationship between technical performance and emotional well‑being. Does your sense of satisfaction derive from hitting great shots or are you able to hit shots well because you feel good about things and good about yourself? Relationship and emotion or is technique number one?
YANI TSENG: I think mental is the most important thing in the game, because even when I'm not playing good or even if I don't feel this is my A‑game. But your mental is tough enough, you can still win in a tournament. You don't have to play perfect to win in a tournament, because everybody's going to miss, everybody ‑‑ if you have confidence, if you stand there even if you have a terrible swing, you can still hit it to the pin. That is how important mental is.
But if you have your A‑game and your mental is not right there, it doesn't matter how good of skill you have. If you think you can stand there and you think you're going to hit on the fairway, you're not going to hit it on the fairway. So when I played my best, I mean, everything was thinking perfect. I'd hit on the fairway. I'd picture my shot going into the hole on the second shot. And if I miss, it's not going to miss that much.
But my mental is not ready yet. It's really tough. Because if your mental is not ready yet, but your skill is ready, you just need to find that balance and find your way. It doesn't matter how your skill is. You want to keep building your confidence.
Q. You always seem to have so much fun whether you're No. 1 or not No. 1. But what is more fun for you? Being No. 1 or hunting down the No. 1?
YANI TSENG: I mean, being No. 1, I think is fun, of course. But now I've been so many places, so now I don't know. I'm fifth or sixth on the top, but that's a position before the No. 1. So now I'm back in the position I have. So now I can achieve my No. 1 again.
Not many people can be World No. 1, so I'm very happy and very appreciative that I have this opportunity and I played well, and to be on World No. 1. Then I know I feel I'm still young and I still have a long career to go. I'm not retired yet. So I want to keep improving my game, and I want to be World No. 1 again.
Q. Most of the players have been talking about this as a second‑shot golf course. You mentioned how the ball can roll to the wrong spot. How much pressure will be on those second shots to hit that small area near the pin?
YANI TSENG: I think ‑‑ I know it's a second‑shot golf course. But for me, I'm very confident on my irons. I think at first you have to hit it on the fairway to be able to hit it on the green on this golf course. I think everybody's going to make bogey. So, you know, if you make bogey, it's okay. You move on. It's a tough golf course because you might hit a good shot in a bad place, and maybe you have like 40 feet, 50 feet to make two putts. But you hit a good shot. You really never know. You just need to be patient, do the best you can on every shot. Even if it didn't come out where you wanted it to, you always want to move on.
I think for the U.S. Open, it's just not about a course, I think it's the pressure. Even if we play on a very easy golf course, I think this pressure, the major pressure, the U.S. Open pressure is still going to make courses harder. So I think this week you really need to stay patient.
I think the weather here, you never know. You maybe get a strong wind in the morning and very quiet in the afternoon. I think it's not going to be fair, but the only thing you can do is do your best and have fun on this golf course. Because after I hit a shot, I hit a good shot but I finished in a really bad place, and I tell myself, wow, this is a very fun golf course. This is really challenging. You don't want to think negative things. You need to think this is a great golf course for me.
Q. You mentioned earlier that you have to find your way to stay on the top. And I'm just wondering when was the moment you realized this is your way to be on the top?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I don't know. I just feel great about this course, I feel good about this tournament, and I think I've been struggling a little bit for a while. This couple months I started playing pretty good. I started to feel like my game is back. I just feel like it's about time for me to win in a tournament again. I feel really appreciative because I know struggling ‑‑ it's not fun to be struggling. But I'm learning so much from the mistakes and learning so much from what I have struggled with the last couple of years.
I really appreciate all the fans that kept supporting me. Doesn't matter how I play, my team is there for me a hundred percent. I know they're looking forward to seeing me back on top again. I don't like to disappoint people, and I think this gives me a lot of motivation to keep going and to win a tournament.
CHRISTINA LANCE: We're here at the 68th playing of the U.S. Women's Open. I am honored to be joined by our defending Women's Open champion, Na Yeon Choi. We were just talking that you were here for Media Day last month and it was cold and wet and windy, about as opposite as it is now. How much did you learn from the course then that you can apply to the course now?
NA YEON CHOI: Well, I came here five weeks ago and the weather wasn't good, so I think I played very long. Especially the first hole was the most difficult hole out there, but I hit driver and then I hit 3‑wood for the second shot at the moment. But yesterday I hit 4‑hybrid. So almost every hole, two or three clubs different.
So like yesterday and today I played the course, the course played a little shorter than that moment, but the course is dry and the greens are dry and firmer too. So I think the course is very difficult.
Q. How are you feeling coming into the championship?
NA YEON CHOI: I feel great. Actually, last week I finished well on Sunday. I shot 5‑under, so I got some good confidence from there, and my coaches are here this week, and we're working on a little bit technically and mentally and everything. I just felt the last couple of weeks I got a lot of pressure on myself, especially my posture wasn't great when I was walking and everything.
So I just tried to be more of a champion all week. I just do my best for defending my title, but also I want to do it walking with more confidence and having fun out there, just do my best for my job.
Q. Very important question. I remember at Wegmans you told us that you were going to have Inbee over to your house for a week and you were going to cook for her. How did that go and what did you make? What was the food like? What were the meals like when you had Inbee over to your house?
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah, two weeks ago Inbee stayed at my house in Orlando. First day and second day, I cooked some Korean meat and soup, kimchi soup, and some Korean barbecue. Then actually she helped me a lot, so I just knew she has some talent for cooking too.
We had a great time, and also we played a lot of different sports. We played tennis and bowling and we had fun.
Q. Who was better? Who won?
NA YEON CHOI: I think at tennis, that was my second time to play tennis, but I think I'm better than her (laughing).
Q. I wonder if you could maybe tell us a little bit about why ‑‑ you know Inbee very well, why has she been on this run? What do you think it is and maybe we see her being ‑‑ she never shows any emotion. Does she have emotions we don't see?
NA YEON CHOI: Well, two weeks ago I tried to find out how she practices or how she ‑‑ what kind of emotions she has. I think everybody knows that she has a great short game, a good putter, and she's very consistent player. But I think also she travels with her fiancee, and I think she's really comfortable with her life right now. I think she's very happy. She never thinks negatively. Everything is thinking positively.
Actually, she didn't practice much. In Orlando the weather was very hot, but I think for sure even resting is very important to practice. So she's always having fun with her fiancee and around people, and I think she's very happy. I think that kind of makes her confident and makes better results and good results.
Q. Maybe talk about just the success, especially it's quite a streak here that you guys have going. Do you have a little bit of a fun rivalry with the other ones in terms of ‑‑ I know you guys are all good friends, but just a rivalry because you all played so well in the majors?
NA YEON CHOI: Well, you talk about like me and Inbee or all the Korean players. Well, I mean, golf is a very individual game, sport, so it's harder to tell. I'm just going out there and fight with some Korean player or my friends. I think I have to fight myself. I mean, when they play well, like my friends or a lot of Korean players play well, I've got some motivation there. So just keep working hard. If she can do it, then I can do it. I've got some good vibes there, so just keep working hard.
I think that's a good rivalry with each other. I don't really want to say like that word because we are good friends with each other. But I think it's to motivate each other, I think.
Q. Is there a way that you can kind of tell that you feel differently coming in this year as opposed to a year ago? What does the victory last year do for you mindset‑wise?
NA YEON CHOI: What is the mindset difference last year and this year?
NA YEON CHOI: I think I got good experience from last year at the U.S. Open. After I won that, I got more confidence, especially with a difficult course. So when I came here like five weeks ago, the course was very difficult, but I still had good confidence because I tried to think how I controlled my emotions last year, and how I did well last year. So I just tried to keep thinking positively.
The USGA tournament, we always need to be patient in the 72 holes until the last hole. So I think I have to keep focused on what I have to do, but still I need to be patient.
Sometimes bogey, I think, is a good score. So I think just trying to make less mistakes out there.
Q. Is there a memory that you have from last year's tournament that you carry over to this year, something that helped you be particularly successful or something that kind of boosts your confidence?
NA YEON CHOI: Well, it's both. Actually, I got a lot of confidence from last year, but also I've got pressure too. A lot of people expect me to play well with the U.S. Open. And even myself, I've got a lot of expectation, too. So sometimes I've got a lot of pressure, but I think a lot of good players play with pressure, and that motivates too.
I think I like that feeling. It makes me tense and excited and that kind of thing.
Q. You mentioned about Inbee about how she just seems so peaceful and so relaxed and so happy. Could you kind of say the same about you? Is that kind of where you are in terms of your life?
NA YEON CHOI: I'm very happy to play golf, especially on the LPGA TOUR in America. All my family live in Korea. But I think I know what I have to do, and I love to do my job. Even my manager, my trainer, my caddie, it's all from my decision. So I know what I have to do for my job.
Sometimes I'm very jealous to Inbee, because she has a very happy life. But I think I have a happy life too. So I don't know, maybe first of all I have to look for some fiancee, then maybe I can have good results too (laughing).
CHRISTINA LANCE: Welcome back, everyone. The 68th playing of the U.S. Women's Open here at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, New York. I'm very happy to welcome 2007 Women's Open champion, Cristie Kerr. Joining us here right now, Cristie, you're perhaps one of the players in the field with the most experience here at Sebonack. Without giving too many trade secrets away, what kind of tips would you give to the field?
CRISTIE KERR: To the field? None (laughing). No, but I've certainly done my homework, and I've got everything charted in my yardage book and I'm ready to go.
Q. What are your thoughts about this course? You've obviously played it a fair amount.
CRISTIE KERR: I think it's a spectacular golf course. It's got such a cool feel being here in the Hamptons and near the water. And all the Fescue, to me, it's very Hamptons. I come out here a bunch. I spend some time in New York City in the summertime, so I get to come out here and hang out a bit.
Yeah, I play this course a bunch. And it's tough. It's starting to firm up out there. You really have to know with what pins, where they're going to put the pin locations, where you can and can't hit it. You're going to have to play it off some backstops, and it's going to be a great test.
Q. How much of an advantage do you think that experience will be here? Because it seems like this is a place where it takes a lot of time to learn all the intricacies?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, I think experience counts for a lot, but you still have to play good, solid golf. Obviously, nobody's ever teed it up here in a tournament before, so there is going to be a little bit of a learning curve, I think. You've just got to hit your shot where you're looking this week and not get greedy and try to manage your game around the course.
Q. You've played here in various times of the year, various conditions. How is it now compared to other times that you've played here? What are the conditions like?
CRISTIE KERR: I think in the past it's been a lot softer in any of the outings that I've played here. It's a lot more firm and fast, like even since yesterday the golf course is getting a little brown in spots. The fairways are getting those round brown spots and the greens are getting a lot firmer. So with the heat and possibly the wind here, they just have to make sure it doesn't get kind of ridiculous. Because they could lose control of this golf course fairly quickly with the heat and the wind and as firm as things are getting right now.
I played the morning today, too.
Q. Cristie, do you still live and have a place in New York? And what is your connection out here that you hang out? Do you stay with friends out here? Is that how you're out here so much?
CRISTIE KERR: Sure. Yeah, we have a place in the West Village that is an investment property. We probably spend maybe 50, 60 days a year here. Just helps with the travel, as much as we do travel, to be able to have kind of a little bit of a home base out of New York. Mike Pascucci is a good friend of mine. He owns the golf course. I've come out here and played the golf course a bunch and got to stay in the cottages, which are going for a lot of money this week.
I'm staying with friends this week, so it's just sort of like kind of a home feel to it.
Q. Looking back to the last decade or so, there's been a handful of women who had a pretty dominant run going back to Annika and Lorena and most recently Yani, and now Inbee seems to be maybe approaching that. Is there a common denominator that you've seen with their play as to how they've been able to sustain that kind of run and how difficult that can be?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, the most recent is obviously Inbee. She's already won two majors this year and won four tournaments and played really well. You just have to do everything well to be No. 1 in the world. To win multiple majors a year, you have to do everything well and you've got to get the breaks too. It's no secret. It's just you've got to do it better than everybody else.
Q. You mentioned you're staying with friends. What are you going to do to get away from golf and relax during these next six days or so?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, we're staying on the beach. That's a pretty good start. Just do what I normally do.
The Open is a busy week, and just kind of manage your time and stay home and kind of cook in and just relax.
Q. Everybody's talking about this as a second‑shot course. Do you agree with that? And with your experience, would that especially play to your advantage?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, I'm hoping everything plays to my advantage this week. But you have to hit good tee balls here too. There are a lot of holes, if you miss it in the wrong spot, you're an automatic bogey. Yeah, obviously, if you hit it on every fairway, it's a second‑shot course. But you have to play every shot really well here. It's going to be a great test.
Q. Do you think there is a possibility that these greens, which are very undulating and kind of sloped a lot, could get out of hand this week where you could see a lot of almost impossible pin locations?
CRISTIE KERR: They could easily lose control of this course because of the topography of the land and how firm it's getting already. They just need to watch it. I've seen it firm up on like Thursday, Friday, but not on like Tuesday morning that often. So I think that speaks to this golf course and how fast it can dry out. So they've just got to watch it.
They're really good at what they do, so they just have to kind of watch it.
Q. How much different does this play from the way it plays in the past when you just play it recreationally, so to speak?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, I think I just answered that before. It's a lot more firm and fast.
Another answer I was going to tell you about how fast the conditions can change here is look what happened at Shinnecock one of the last times the Open was here where everybody thought it was okay, and then like even morning to mid‑day rounds they lost a couple of those greens and it became impossible. It's this area. It's just how it sits up. And the wind, it's exposed, the heat. This is the hottest temperatures of the year so far, so they just have to watch it.
Q. You kind of anticipated my next question about Shinnecock. Do you remember ‑‑ I know you're always busy playing at that time, but do you remember seeing any highlights or anything of how it got away that last day and the players were just beside themselves?
CRISTIE KERR: I saw it on TV like everybody else did. I wasn't there, obviously. But I even talked to Corey Pavin about this, about how really this time of the year can really dry out fast in this area.
Like I said, they just have to be on top of it, and make sure it's fair. It is an Open, but it still has to be fair.
Q. Obviously, since 2004, the USGA has completely changed how they do course set‑ups because of Shinnecock, so they monitor that. I'm wondering do they get feedback from players specifically? Do you have conversations with Mike Davis and the other staffers in terms of what you're seeing out there?
CRISTIE KERR: They ride around and from time to time will ask you what are you thinking? What's going on? Hit a shot for me here or there. But there's not that much interaction between the players and the USGA on the whole. Like I said, they're very good at what they do.
It was unfortunate what happened at Shinnecock. Everybody learned from it rather, and they know what they're doing.
Q. Can you talk about winning the National Championship, as an American what that means to you, your one win, and what it would mean this week?
CRISTIE KERR: God, I mean, winning the U.S. Open, God, especially almost in a hometown, pretty close to home for me, it would mean anything, everything, just the world. Words can't describe. If I have a chance on Sunday, I'm going to have to kind of win that battle within myself not to get ahead and not to get too emotional. You can always have that glass of celebratory champagne after you get done playing. It's going to be an exciting week.
I think there is going to be a lot of drama. Long Island brings the best out in people, so I think you're going to see a lot of great golf this week.
Q. I know you're involved with a lot of patriotic things, you're very proud of your country. What are your thoughts about the state of women's golf in America? What is the cool factor in golf like right now? Do you find when you talk to young people ‑‑ is golf cool?
CRISTIE KERR: Golf's definitely cool. We have a really international TOUR. If you've looked at the number of Americans that have played in ten events or more that have the premier status on our TOUR, ten years ago, a lot more than nowadays. I think we're very international, and I think we need to keep that. But I also think that we need to build golf in America up again for women, because we only have about ten events in the U.S. If we got five more that would just do wonders to round out the TOUR.
Q. How do you do that? How do you build up golf in America?
CRISTIE KERR: Sponsors. You have to go out and actively seek them. You have to lift your TOUR up, and you have to ‑‑ I mean, money makes everything happen. It makes tournaments happen, sponsorships happen. Our TOUR is 100% sponsorship driven. Without sponsors, we don't have tournaments, and without tournaments, we don't have a career. It's an endless cycle.
If we could get four, five, six more tournaments in the U.S., that would really make us very well rounded. It would also help to build USGA Girls Golf, and LPGA Girl's Golf in the States.
Q. You mentioned the common denominator. You were asked that question. They just do everything well. But what mentally does it take? You've reached that point before about being No. 1, but what does it take to stay there once you've reached No. 1, like Inbee's doing now?
CRISTIE KERR: I obviously reached No. 1 and so did Stacy. It's really hard to stay there. You need that elevated state of mind that you have when you're winning majors to be able to stay there. You need to do it well every day, every tournament day that you play. It's hard to really describe that to somebody that hasn't done that. It's not out of not wanting to, it's just hard to describe it. But the mental part is even stronger than the physical part.
Q. I've asked this of a couple of other players, but there seems to be in women's golf they have a series of extraordinarily dominant players for a period of a year or two, starting with Annika and Lorena, Yani. There doesn't seem to be that in the men's game where you have a dominant player for a long period of time. Do you have any thoughts on why that is?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, I mean, you can look at Tiger and say he was pretty dominant for a long time. But if you look at Annika and Lorena, between them they were dominant for about 14 years, so that is a long period of time.
It's changed hands a lot in the last couple of years, but that's because it's getting more competitive. It's hard to stay at No. 1.
Q. You've been on TOUR for 17 years, yet you seem more motivated and hungrier than ever. A, is that true? And B, how do you maintain that motivation?
CRISTIE KERR: A, yes, definitely; and B, winning makes you motivated. Winning makes you want to win more. Makes a lot of other things, whether it's helping people through cancer research or whatever you want to do with your house or whatever it is, family, winning makes everything better, and it's fun to win. It's fun to be on top, come out on top.
So winning motivates me. It's great that I've won a couple tournaments in the last 12 starts or 14 starts since last year. It's just fun to win. I love to win and I hate to lose, so winning definitely motivates me.
CHRISTINA LANCE: Welcome to the 68th playing of the U.S. Women's Open at Sebonack Golf Club in Southampton, New York. We're pleased to have our 2010 champion Paula Creamer here with us. Paula came directly over from the driving range where you did a Girl's Golf Junior Clinic with Matt Lauer. Tell us how that went.
PAULA CREAMER: It was great. It was great to see the little girls out there and the little boys in their pink. To do it with Matt Lauer was exciting. He was trying to tell me how he was not a very good golfer, but he was awesome. He was so good. I'd love to go out and play 18 holes with him.
But just being able to give back to Girl's Golf is something I take a lot of pride in. I had some great role models and people that took the time to talk to me and let me ask them questions, and if I can inspire a couple of those little girls out there, then I think I've done a pretty good job.
CHRISTINA LANCE: Judging from the amount of pink we see on a weekly basis, I think you're doing a good job with that.
Q. How do you feel coming into this week here at Sebonack?
PAULA CREAMER: I feel great. I feel like I'm in a really good place. I had a good ball‑striking week last week. My putting is coming along. I have a lot of confidence in that. I just feel very comfortable out here. I think this golf course suits my game exceptionally well. It takes a good team, I think, to go around this track. And Collin and I have been together nine years, and we're pretty much as married as you can be, him and I. I think that we have a really good plan. My coach is out here, David Whelan. And I really feel that going into Thursday, one more practice round tomorrow, good things can happen.
Q. You haven't finished outside the top 20 in this event since '03. How do you explain that consistency? And is a lot of it just sheer willpower and that you love this tournament so much?
PAULA CREAMER: I think so. I have always loved USGA events. I've played in so many as U.S. Junior, U.S. Am. I think that the U.S. Open, Women's Open, is just, to me, it's so up here. I try to bring my best game possible. I grind it out so much more, not intentionally, but it's ‑‑ like I said, it means so much. Not that I don't do that every week, but it's kind of like a Solheim in my eyes. It's just there is something about when you walk out of the clubhouse that feeling, the fans, you know that the golf course is going to be a great test of golf. You know it's going to challenge you in so many different ways whereas some golf courses, you hit a shot, you hit another one, and you go trying to make a birdie. Where here there are just so many other parts of the game, mentally, physically, bringing your caddie into it. There are just different aspects. I love that challenge. It always seems to kind of ‑‑ my game seems to come around this week.
Q. Paula, you were spending quite a bit of time with Tom Doak, who was on the golf course. Can you convey what you learned by talking with one of the co‑designers while you were playing?
PAULA CREAMER: Yeah, I've been blessed. Tom sent us a note saying that he wanted to come out and kind of walk with me and he asked if that was okay. And I asked my dad is this him? Is it a joke? Is someone playing a trick on me? He was able to come out yesterday for nine, and then he watched me play 16 holes today. And I couldn't say thank you enough, having the architect come out there and walk with you and see you hit shots and just pick his brain. He's one of the nicest gentlemen I think I've ever met, very humble in what he has done.
When I asked a question, he was right there. But he was very ‑‑ just let me do my thing, and when I needed it, he was there. I definitely have taken that in and appreciate him taking the time to come out there and walk with me.
Q. Following up on that, did you learn anything kind of essential about the greens, which he was mostly responsible for here, that might help you this week?
PAULA CREAMER: Yeah, I asked him about a couple of them, and he said, why would you do that to us? Are you going to go play the U.S. Open out here? That kind of thing. But I did.
You know, this golf course is not necessarily about all the good spots. You need to know where you shouldn't be and you need to know where the safe spots are. You can be very aggressive, and you can be very conservative at times. Picking his brain on where really to miss was stuff that my caddie Collin and I just asked him constantly. Okay, with these pins, what do you think about using these slopes? Because there are so many different ways to get the ball within the hole, you can go left, you can go right, and it's going to end up. But which way is the most consistent way, things like that, that he was really able to help with. Especially some of the shots coming in on the par‑4s, 11.
I mean, 11 and 14, those are two great par‑4s that I really just kind of dissected with him. To hear the fact that it took 18, 17, and 11, six to seven minutes to actually design, I was thinking what? Seven minutes to design three holes. He said, yeah, it was perfect. This layout, this layout, and this layout. It was like, whoa. It was pretty neat to pick the brain in that sense, but how he designed it is what I learned from.
Q. Did he apologize for making the greens so hard?
PAULA CREAMER: No. I didn't give him too much grief about it. But he laughed. He definitely kind of chuckled about it.
Q. I just want to follow up on the whole idea of having that clinic today, and just want to get your thoughts on when you were so young, what made you want to do this? What made you say this is what I want to give my life to?
PAULA CREAMER: Passion is ‑‑ everybody has a passion for something. For me, it's golf. I love pushing myself to the next level. There is always someone out there that's practicing. You pushing yourself to see how far you can go.
Someone asked me that question afterwards in an interview, and I've been given so many opportunities to be out here, and I've had great role models talk to me or let me talk to them about certain things. And taking an hour of my time to go talk to those little girls and boys is nothing. I mean, that's a no‑brainer when I was asked to do that clinic.
Just golf in general, you can ‑‑ it isn't just a game, and I've learned that over the past ‑‑ Geez, how long have I been out here? Nine years. There is so much more to it. If I can help those little kids and I can give back, then I've done enough for myself. But the clinic, that is nothing. That is the easy part about what I do. That is the fun stuff.
Q. My question is what made you want to do this for a living?
PAULA CREAMER: I just love it. I love the game, I love the pressure. I love pushing myself. I love being outside doing this forever, traveling. It's a perfect match for myself.
Q. Are there one or two holes or a stretch that are kind of like the hardest holes that you feel like you're going to need to get through and then you can breathe easy?
PAULA CREAMER: I think the par‑3s are phenomenal out here. I think they're great. They can do so much with tee boxes and pin placements.
I would say 12 is one of my favorite par‑3s that I've ever played. I think it is just so beautiful. It's hard. I know in the practice rounds I've hit ‑‑ when I came about a month ago, one day I hit a 5‑iron, and the next day I hit an 8‑iron. There is just so much they can change.
17 is a great hole, but then you have a finishing par‑5. I think the back nine is a little bit more demanding with your shots into the green, whereas the front nine you can still make some birdies.
1 is an awesome opening hole, and then you've got 2 where it's this huge green, but there are so many slopes and so many different ways to play it. I'd say the back nine is a little bit more demanding. You can kind of get away with it a little bit more on the front. But that stretch, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, that's a good stretch.
Q. You said this course suits your game exceptionally well. When was the last time you came to an Open venue and felt the same way?
PAULA CREAMER: Probably Oakmont. The moment I stepped foot out at Oakmont, I loved it. I thought it is by far one of my favorite golf courses that I've ever played, and this kind of just matches that. The whole rolling effect, the natural. There are not a lot of trees, but you've still got to hit it in the right parts of the fairway. You've got to be a grinder out here. You're going to get good breaks and you're going to get bad breaks. That's a lot like Oakmont. It's really taking what the golf course gives you. It's kind of linksy and I like that. But I would say that Oakmont was probably the last time I felt this good. We'll see.
Q. I know there are times at Oakmont, your last victory, seems like that was a long time ago?
PAULA CREAMER: Forever.
Q. Forever. When you come to the U.S. Women's Open, does it seem like it wasn't that long ago when you're at this specific event?
PAULA CREAMER: It feels like it was yesterday, and it wasn't. But it does. It's pretty amazing when you do come to these Opens because they are all demanding. They are all in the same situation of making pars, grinding it out, things like that. But it does feel like it was yesterday, and hopefully we can have the same results at Oakmont as we do here.
Q. Just give me your overall thoughts on this course, not necessarily the way it plays, but just the environment here, the atmosphere, and tell me how you've been enjoying your time here so far?
PAULA CREAMER: This is my first time here. Just being around all the golf courses, National, Shinnecock, all of that, it's pretty cool. I mean, the venue is amazing. The views here are just so pretty.
Juli Inkster told me ‑‑ I remember when we were out at practice, she said it's a big playground for golfers. And it's true. It really is. The fans are so great.
It's been hot the last couple of days and there have been a lot of people out there. Lots of little girls coming out to watch. I can't wait for the weekend, because I'm pretty sure it's going to be pretty rowdy, and that's what you want. That's exciting to be able to play in front of a crowd that just loves golf.