Wegmans LPGA Championship
Locust Hill Country Club
Pittsford, New York
Pre-tournament Notes and Interviews
June 5, 2013
Suzann Pettersen, Rolex Rankings No. 4 & 2007 champion
Karrie Webb, Rolex Rankings No. 8 & 2001 champion
Inbee Park, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Jiyai Shin, Rolex Rankings No. 9
Na Yeon Choi, Rolex Rankings No. 3
Meg Mallon, 2013 U.S. Solheim Cup Team Captain & 1991 champion
The second major of the 2013 season kicks off this week at Locust Hill Country Club in Pittsford, New York, where 144 players will be playing for a $2.25 million purse and a $337,500 first-place prize. The Wegmans LPGA Championship will feature one of the finest fields comprised of the top-10 player in the Rolex Rankings and the top-50 players on the 2013 LPGA Official Money List.
Rolex Rankings No. 7 Shanshan Feng made history last year when she stood on the 18th green hoisting the Wegmans LPGA Championship trophy as the first player from China to win on the LPGA Tour. Feng overcame a three-stroke deficit on Sunday by firing a final-round, 5-under 67, the lowest round of the week, to claim a two-shot victory over Japan’s Mika Miyazato. She recorded seven additional top-10 finishes during the 2012 season and has since tallied three top-10s in her first six appearances this year.
Webb wants Wegmans trophy. LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Karrie Webb has seven major championship trophies on her mantle, but a victory at this week’s Wegmans LPGA Championship would push her past Juli Inkster for the active lead in majors won.
The 38-year-old Australian has already accomplished the Super Career Grand Slam, winning five separate major championships: du Maurier, Kraft Nabisco (twice), Wegmans LPGA Championship, U.S. Women’s Open (twice) and the RICOH Women’s British Open. Does winning another major still motivate the veteran?
“I would like to add to that number just for myself personally,” Webb said. “I hold the majors as the five most important tournaments of the year and I want to add to that title before I finish up.”
The Aussie’s recent stretch of tournament suggest she is a favorite this week in Rochester, following a victory at the ShopRite LPGA Classic and a tied for fourth at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic, where she shot 19-under-par for the week to finish two shots off the lead.
Since the Wegmans LPGA Championship moved to Locust Hill Country Club in 2010, Webb has experience success – T5 in 2010, T20 in 2011, T6 in 2012 – although she admits to battling some demons at the Donald Ross layout in Pittsford, NY.
“I feel like I have a love/hate relationship with (Locust Hill),” she said. “I either play really well here or I struggle with my emotions and patience, even when we playd a regular event here. It's a course that always requires a lot of patience, and the weeks that I'm on top of that are the weeks that I've done pretty well.”
Karrie Webb – Major Championship Wins
1999 du Maurier Classic
2000 Kraft Nabisco Championship, U.S. Women’s Open
2001 U.S. Women’s Open, 2001 LPGA Championship – completed the Career Grand Slam (4 different majors)
2002 Women’s British Open – completed the Super Career Grand Slam (5 different majors)
2006 Kraft Nabisco Championship
Webb was 26 years, 6 months, 3 days old when she completed the Career Grand Slam
Webb was 27 years, 7 months, 18 days old when she completed the Super Career Grand Slam
Not afraid to fail: Rolex Rankings No. 4 Suzann Pettersen (@suzannpettersen) has learned plenty of lessons over her 11-year career on the LPGA Tour. When things seem to be perfectly aligned with her game technically, she’s found out not to expect perfect results out on the course.
“I think what really has turned around for me and my game, I came to the British Open last year and I felt the best prepared,” said Pettersen. “I felt the best control I had over my game, ever, coming into the British Open, and missed the cut by a mile. It was a huge disappointment, although that I never felt better. And you know, it's just sometimes the work you put in doesn't click right away and obviously it clicked a little bit later that fall. And I got some confidence back in my game.”
Pettersen won back-to-back events at the LPGA KEB HanaBank Championship and the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship during the Tour’s fall Asian swing last year and brought in good momentum into the 2013 season. She clinched a win in China on the LET at the Mission Hills World Championship in March and then outlasted Lizette Salas in a one-hole playoff for her 11th LPGA career victory at the LPGA LOTTE Championship.
With the ups and downs of good and bad performances, Pettersen has found a trust in her game that has allowed her to play on the edge.
“I think the biggest change from then to now is I have a lot more trust,” said Pettersen. “I dared to do way did last week, I probably would not have dared to step up on the tee and try to hit shots I probably wouldn't hit for that course last week with this week in mind. I dare to do more stuff; I'm not afraid to kind of fail, because I know down the road it's going to help my game get even better.
Pettersen missed the cut at last week’s ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer and used some of her down time to play nearby Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester which will host the PGA Championship in August. She feels refreshed and looking to claim her second LPGA Championship this week.
“Well, I haven't played much golf lately, so I'm definitely well rested,” said Pettersen. “I didn't play Sunday last week, which was obviously disappointing, but very happy to get in the preparation, adjusting to the conditions this course will throw at you. I'm happy. Feel good with my game. Would love to really play well and this course is going to be one heck of a challenge this week.”
Power trio: Three recent LPGA major champions came together on Wednesday afternoon for a press conference at Locust Hill Country Club. The trio of Inbee Park (@inbeepark), Na Yeon Choi (@nychoi87) and Jiyai Shin provided evidence of the dominant status South Korea has on Tour today and plenty of insight into three of the top-10 female golfers in the world.
Park, who is currently ranked No. 1 in the world and won her second major championship at the Kraft Nabisco earlier this year, said the her fellow South Koreans were the ones who motivated throughout the years.
“They always started playing really well once they got on the LPGA Tour, and on the other hand I had some tough times three or four years after the Open, and I was really jealous of the consistency,” said Park. “And for in every year they are playing so good and every year they are finishing in the Top 10s in the Money List. That's something I'm always looking forward to doing and they have been my role model for those years.”
2012 U.S. Women’s Open champ and No. 3 Na Yeon Choi said she was pleased to see her friend reach the No. 1 spot, but was open to say she’s chasing her down every week.
“I really was happy because when she liked being No. 1,” said Choi. “That is one of my goals, too, but I always like working hard to try to be in there. But I always liked chasing someone. Even she's my good friend, but you know, when she plays well, I got some motivation there. So I tried to, you know, working hard and to bring my best.”
When asked why South Koreans have had so much success on Tour recently, all three players hesitated to answer. Park finally broke the silence.
“I don't know,” said Park. “It's in our blood (laughing). I think maybe we have dominant blood.”
Changes Announced for 2014 International Crown and 2015 U.S. Solheim Cup Team
The U.S. Solheim Cup Committee, which is made up of the past three U.S. Team Captains, the LPGA Commissioner, the LPGA Player President, and the LPGA Board Chair recently approved changes to the criteria for players wishing to play for the United States in the Solheim Cup and the International Crown.
The changes put the Solheim Cup in better alignment with the PGA of America’s criteria for the U.S. Ryder Cup Team and also enable players who've spent their formative junior golf years in the United States the ability to represent Team USA in the Solheim Cup and International Crown.
The following now applies to the International Crown (beginning in 2014) and the US Solheim Cup team (beginning in 2015).
To qualify for Team USA, a player must fall under the any of the following criteria:
1. Born in USA
2. Born to parents who are US Citizens (but born outside US)
3. Became a Naturalized citizen before age 18
4. Adopted by US parents before age 13
Top Quotes from Wednesday’s Press Conferences
Suzann Pettersen on continuing to play well after the age of 30: “It’s the beauty of golf. Age doesn’t really matter. You get stronger with more knowledge as you get older. The best of my golf is yet to come and that’s why I’m still here grinding it out.”
Karrie Webb on the youth movement in women’s golf: “I guess I don’t really look at the age thing. I know what I’m capable of and I know that’s good enough to win out here. It’s not age, it’s ability to play the game. Girls are coming out at a young age at an elite level with the ability to win, but I can still do that as well.”
Meg Mallon on preparing the menu for the 2013 U.S. Solheim Cup Team: “Back when I played we had a toaster and peanut butter and jelly. Now it’s gluten-free, dairy-free, pasta-free.”
Inbee Park on whether she, Na Yeon Choi and Jiyai Shin would be recognized in downtown Seoul: “I think all the old guys who watch golf will recognize us. If where he go to golf course it's a definite but just walking down Seoul with a bunch of young people, we have a slim chance. In Korea, I think golf is popular for older guys I wouldn't say older guys, but a little—mid age.
Na Yeon Choi on her attempt at being a good cook: “Sometimes it takes two hours to make one meal because I’m a serious beginner. But I love to cook.”
Jiyai Shin on why she may be the most recognized South Korean on Tour: “A lot of fans- it’s easeier to remember me, maybe because I change my hair color a lot of times.”
Conversation with Champions: A star-studded panel of Nicole Castrale, Morgan Pressel, Lexi Thompson and Lydia Ko took part in the long-time tradition of a “Conversation with Champions” on Wednesday at Locust Hill Country Club. Champions in their own right and their own ways, the four players were asked a series of questions that gave almost 200 luncheon attendees a unique look inside the lives of elite golfers, both professional and amateur.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Pressel. “It was great to be asked and to be invited and be a part of the group.”
LPGA Tournament Owners Association President Gail Graham emceed the event and sparked a lot age-related jokes from the diverse panel. Pressel, who became the youngest major champion at the 2007 Kraft Nabisco Champions at 18 years and 313 days old, said she’s out of her element having younger players steal the limelight.
“I used to be the youngest so it’s definitely weird,” said Pressel.
All four players talked about an array of topics including when they got serious about pursuing golf as a profession, how to balance school and golf and the decision of going to college.
“A lot of times people like to know about our lives,” said Pressel. “Sometime people don’t realize how not normal our lives truly are. Every time people get a little insight, they usually enjoy it. It’s fun to be able to talk about it.
Of Note… Former LPGA Championship winners Yani Tseng (@yanitseng) and Cristie Kerr (@CKGolferChic) withdrew from Wednesday’s pro-am but are expected to play in this week’s event. Tseng has been ill while Kerr is dealing with issues with her right arm…Jenny Gleason withdrew from the field on Wednesday, allowing first alternate and 2013 LPGA Tour rookie Breanna Elliott to make her second start of the season…17-year old and Ladies European Tour rookie Ariya Jutanugarn withdrew prior to the first round due to a right shoulder injury sustained in Monday’s practice round. She was originally replaced by Song Hee Kim but Kim withdrew as well. Second-year LPGA member Mitsuki Katahira was added to the field.
Tweet of the Day: Goes to Jane Park who snapped a picture with fellow Tour pro, Tiffany Joh, having some fun with this week’s tee markers.
“Meanwhile at Wegmans, @tiffjoh takes her 5000lb baby shopping for groceries” --@TheJanePark
Suzann Pettersen, Rolex Rankings No. 4 & 2007 champion
THE MODERATOR: Thanks for being here.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Always a pleasure coming here.
THE MODERATOR: You look quite well rested today, and in a really good mood. Have you been out practicing? What's been going on the last couple days.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, I haven't played much golf lately, so I'm definitely well rested. I didn't play Sunday last week, which was obviously disappointing, but very happy to get in the preparation, adjusting to the conditions this course will throw at you.
THE MODERATOR: Last week was very difficult for everybody. In a way, perhaps was you kind of not being in contention for the way this thing ended a blessing for you to kind of relax and gear up, because it's been a long stretch over the last few weeks leading up to a major.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I had a very good stretch after the Kraft Nabisco. I felt like I played really good at the first major and managed to keep the tension and game pretty much up to where I wanted it to be for the remaining month of April.
I played really good at Kingsmill, took a break, and the plan was to play as much as I could up until now, and obviously with a few complications in Bahamas and only played two rounds last week, I probably didn't get to play as much golf. So Sunday, I actually went up here and played Oak Hill, so I got a another 18 holes in there.
I'm happy. Feel good with my game. Would love to really play well and this course is going to be one heck of a challenge this week.
THE MODERATOR: One more question about last week, because in watching the television coverage, you were getting a lot of accolades despite that you were not in contention and playing your best golf, or maybe it was the conditions. How do you find something to challenge yourself with when you are not in contention, and then how do you find some quick memory loss to eliminate last week out of your mind to come into this week fresh and looking at this trophy as something you want in your hands Sunday.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, I just think there's several ways you can look at it. Last week I felt like my game was in pretty good shape. I felt really good before Friday morning. Worked opponent a few different adjustments in my game with obviously this week and the back of my head, tried to implement some of those shots out on the course.
One thing is to be on the range practicing, hitting it over and over at the same target; but to actually put it in play and use it in conditions, where it will be needed, that is the way you're going to develop your shot making.
So for me, I took a lot from it, and no stress on my heart and probably more stress on people looking at the paper, looking at the scores, but I really didn't put too much in. When you feel like you're out of it, I mean, then it's the perfect moment to just go for all the stuff that you practice on the range and really just try and put it in play.
Q. Most of us that follow golf look at people differently when they have won a Major Championship do other players look at players differently; do you look at yourself differently when you've won a major?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: That's a good question, I'm not sure if I look at there's so many good players out there and there's so many in contention to win every week. I think the biggest challenge during a Major Championship is the course and the conditions of the course. It's usually just a little bit tougher tee to green. That's all I can deal with. I can't really deal with the other players who is favorite, who is not favorite. I think the course is the favorite before we start and at the end of the day on Sunday, whoever wins is that favorite that week.
You try to win every week you tee it up. Obviously at the end of the career, I'm not there yet, but when you look back, you say, I've got one, two, three, four, five major championships, that's fantastic, on top of the regular wins. I try not to treat them any different. I prepare the same. And I like the challenge. I like it when it's tough. I like it when par is your friend, when you can really kind of grind it out and get the most out of each round.
THE MODERATOR: Talk about the last year for you, maybe not year, but you're in quite a different place right now than you were, say, last August or September. You had the back to back victories in Asia and then you began this year with obviously the win in Hawai'i, and people forget the LET event you won in China.
So four victories in short order, and then a win in Hawai'i that people do know. How well are you playing right now, and do you feel that you're playing the best golf of your career and is the best even yet to come for you?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: No, I think what really has turned around for me and my game, I came to the British Open last year and I felt the best prepared. I felt the best control I had over my game, ever, coming into the British Open, and missed the cut by a mile. It was a huge disappointment, although that never felt better.
And you know, it's just sometimes the work you put in doesn't click right away and obviously it clicked a little bit later that fall. And I got some confidence back in my game.
I think the biggest change from then to now is I have a lot more trust. I dared to do way did last week, I probably would not have dared to step up on the tee and try to hit shots I probably wouldn't hit for that course last week with this week in mind. I dare to do more stuff; I'm not afraid to kind of fail, because I know down the road it's going to help my game get even better.
THE MODERATOR: Your caddie said some pretty positive things about you today off to the side. You seem to have a good relationship; he was new on the bag last year and you've made a few changes. He said when he first looked at you hitting balls the first week on the range with you, he watched you hit six different shots and said, why does this girl not win every single week, and he was amazed and felts like, his quote, the best is yet to come. You are in the prime of your career and everybody else better look out.
Now that's a good thing for the guy who works for you to say
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, I pay him to say that. Pay him pretty good, too.
THE MODERATOR: Agreed? Best yet to come? Is that something you're thinking about? Are you committed to five more great years out here?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah, for sure. I think this is the beauty with golf. Age doesn't really matter. You get stronger, you get more knowledge as you get older. And definitely feel like I have the best of my golf yet to come, which is probably why I'm still out here grinding it out every morning, every night. And that's exciting. There's too many great players who had their prime in their 30s. I mean, Annika, she's a great example. I take everything as a steppingstone and a learning curve and hopefully I can have at least three good more years out here.
THE MODERATOR: Aging well; best yet to come. Perfect segue to Ron Sirak for some questions.
Q. Can I ask a Solheim question?
THE MODERATOR: Perfect.
Q. Probably the best match I've seen in any competition was four ball match of you and Annika against Kelly and Laura Diaz in Barsebäck, and also the most incredible atmosphere I've ever seen at an event. Is there anything that rivals a Stanley Cup in what is feels like in the excitement and intensity?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I mean, every match has its kind of charm and its story. I remember Barsebäck was probably one of the biggest highlights for me was the first time I got paired with Annika.
I was really nerve wracking on that first tee but grew in the experience and Saturday afternoon in the best ball against Kelly and Laura who played fantastic golf. It was just a dream come true to be a part of that, and I grew so much with an did a being in those situations and we kind of met on the back nine I think the neatest thing with the Solheim is the friendships you build for life.
I played with Patricia, and we just have something special, the two of us kind of felt it, we were a part of it and every time I see her, it's like she's going to be a friend for life. That's a very neat thing, special moments, special occasions, and I also learned getting to know the other girls really well that week. It's a week that I really love and I can't wait to play in Colorado.
THE MODERATOR: Meg was talking about the way her team might be completely different from the team the last time around, and she brought your name up before you walked in and started rattling off that Lotta would have the same situation potentially with her current qualified players; what type of player will you have to be, not just the player, but also potential leader, if you will, vocal I don't know if you're really that type behind the closed doors with a potentially different team and lineup this time.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I don't know, I think this will be my seventh. The six times I've played, the teams have been very predicting to kind of tell. You would know who would be in. It was usually the same Swedes always on the team. You would always look at the same picks and it wouldn't be too many surprises who the captain would pick.
But this time around, I think it started last in Ireland for us, we started to see more young faces on our team. You would call them rookies in the Stanley Cup experience, but to me, there's no rookies out there. They have all been out here winning tournaments, being in contention, knowing how to close the deals. And I mean, they tee it up every week out here, here or in Europe.
I think it's just a new generation of young players who is just taking over from a fantastic generation who has kind of been leading the Solheim for years and years. We might have a Solheim team without Laura Davies, that be would the first time in the history. We might have only one or two Swedes on the team. Usually when I first started, half the team was Swedes.
So it's definitely a new pack coming out and it's exciting. As long as Laura is on the team, I've always been the junior and now if he's not on the team I'm closer to being the veteran.
The biggest thing I learned from Annika is you don't give up until the last putt drops and that's kind of the mentality that I've tried to implement in my own game on a regular basis and also to try and kind of give the new ones on the team a word or two, try to help them. I mean, there's never a bad start; it's never over until it's over and I think Ireland was a great example of that.
There's only so much you can say to players; go out and play your heart out, that's all we ask, but don't ever give up.
Q. You mentioned Laura Davies, I wonder if you can put it in perspective what she meant to team Europe all those years and what it was like playing alongside her with her wit and experience when she was on teams with you?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: If you look at Laura Davies, she's had an outstanding career. She's done so much for ladies golf, European golf. She's still a legend over there. She has a legacy. Her name is well Nona cross Europe. She's been on every team that I've been on, and I've been playing alongside her feeling like a spectator when she's just been playing her best golf.
But she's also one of those players who can easily, she gets one or two right in her face she can easily get her head hanging and lose the energy. She's fantastic for the goods and the bads, but she's always been a great asset to our team. She usually brings a lot of fun and excitement off the course to the team room, which is very important. I love her to death and I've had my moments and with her and it's I really hope she kind of finds something in her game and can play herself into a possible pick or even try to get in on the points. I don't even know where she stands. But she's a good asset to the team.
It's going to be a different atmosphere overall, because it's such a new group of people, new group of players. It will be fun.
THE MODERATOR: Majors are big for you and I know you would dearly like to win another one as you look at this trophy and remember 2007. Somebody very close to this tour who covers it week in and week out has labeled you as the top player to watch this week. What would it mean to have this trophy.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I don't know, there's a long way until the trophy, certainly on Sunday. I feel pretty good with my game. It's going to be probably two long days ahead, Thursday, Friday, with some rain in the forecast. It's going to be playing really long and really tight off the tees. But I think if you can hang in there the first couple of days and try and be aggressive, where you really can be aggressive and play smart around a few holes, I think that it will be interesting to see what the scores will be.
Karrie Webb, Rolex Rankings No. 8 & 2001 champion
THE MODERATOR: Last week's winner at the shop right LPGA Classic, 39 victories overall and seven time Major Champion and winner here, Karrie, thanks very much for being here. Let's talk about last week first of all and your thoughts now that it's probably sunk in a little bit more than maybe it did that Sunday night. What was the feeling, how emotional was it for you?
KARRIE WEBB: It was a great feeling obviously. You know, I felt like I was building, so I don't feel like it sort of same out of the blue. I won back in Singapore in 2011 and felt like it was a bit of a surprise, but I felt like it was coming. I was just glad to play a great round of golf on Sunday, and it's always nice to get a win under the belt.
THE MODERATOR: I think it's fair to say you're a fairly emotional person on the golf course; on the golf course, you're calm and calculated about how you play the game. Afterwards, it was emotional and you dedicated the victory to your grandmother. Do you want to share a little bit about that?
KARRIE WEBB: Well, talked to my grandmother on Wednesday and Thursday, she made a miraculous recovery, and she's going to get out of the hospital by the end of the week. Wasn't looking like that last week. And still on Sunday, I didn't realize, when I spoke to her Sunday night, I realized how much better she was getting. I spoke to her son Thursday and she didn't sound like she had much longer and Sunday night she sounded normal again. I don't know if my win had as much to do with it, but I know she was chuffed that I dedicated it to her.
THE MODERATOR: So what was that phone call like?
KARRIE WEBB: Well, she knew my dad had gone to visit here. She had not found out until he got there, and then she was mad that she was in hospital and didn't get to see it on TV. So, they are going to try and find it for her so she can watch it.
THE MODERATOR: You mentioned the victory and you felt like it was building. You had not won in more than two years, but yet you had been consistent and consistently in contention without winning tournaments.
So how did you stay positive during that stretch, and how big a victory is this for you when you kind of put your career in perspective, having been out here for a number of years?
KARRIE WEBB: You know, I had a pretty consistent year last year. I gave myself a number of chances in the second half of the year. And I felt good about how my season ended, and you know, it started off great. I won in Australia at the Australian Masters, and then I've contended in a couple of events, a couple of Top 10s or three Top 10s before last week. My most recent tournament was in Mobile and I had a chance to win on Sunday.
So I knew it wasn't far away. I really felt good in Mobile, and to pull it off last week, a tournament I've never really contended in, was great.
THE MODERATOR: Were you kicking yourself in the back side because you didn't win in Mobile?
KARRIE WEBB: I wasn't. I shot 19 under for the week, so it's not often you shoot 19 under and don't win a tournament. You can always do the what if, but I felt like my game was in the right place and coming into good shape for the heart of the season.
Q. With 14 and 15 year olds qualifying for the U.S. Open, how do you stay on top?
KARRIE WEBB: I guess I don't really look at the age thing. I know what I'm capable of and I know that's good enough to win out here. I don't really look at the person I'm playing and their age. It's more their ability to play the game. And girls are coming out here at a young age and do have the ability to play at an elite level and win out here, but I still believe that I can do that, as well. So I don't really look at the age thing too much.
Q. What do you attribute that to, that they are coming out so good, so young now?
KARRIE WEBB: I think they have grown up with the best technology. I grew up, still had wooden woods and I actually still I started with a small golf ball and went to the big golf ball. I've seen a lot of technology in the years that I've played golf.
I think technology; one. Two, coaching is so much better now. There's just so many more resources now for good coaching. And three, girls are training as athletes for golf, and I never trained as an athlete as a kid. I just went and beat balls all afternoon after school. So a more sophisticated training system in place for a lot of the girls.
Q. 19 under won two years ago and 6 under last year; what are we closer to this year? Is this course really playing as hard as some of the girls I talked to yesterday said?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, the rough is as long as I've seen it. Last year the rough was pretty long. I think it will depend on the weather. If we get well, I heard two inches of rain tomorrow from someone, I don't know if that's true or not but it will really depend on the weather. If it does rain, the rough is not going to get any less thick or less long. So, it's going to be tough.
I don't like to set scores. Last week, I wouldn't have told you I would have won on 4 under. I don't like to set scores. I just like to go out there and manage the golf course as best I can.
Q. What do you see on the greens? A couple of the girls said they are faster than they have ever been; in your practice round yesterday, what did you see?
KARRIE WEBB: I think the greens are in the best shape I've ever seen them. They are definitely faster than they have been. I wouldn't say I don't know the girls that you talked to, but I've been playing here since '97 or whatever, and they have been this fast before, but not for the last few years.
THE MODERATOR: You were talking about equipment and the golf ball, and recently all the conversation about anchoring and that sort of stuff with the USGA's decision, if you could change one thing right now, is there something that stands out for you?
KARRIE WEBB: I guess as far as technology goes, the golf ball has been the biggest change. It wasn't that long ago 2001, that I was still playing I had not got into the new technology then; it was so much better and the following year. I switched to the Pro V1 and felt like I was cheating. I would hang a shot right on a left to right wind and it was hanging there, the balata ball, and you know, the golf ball has only gotten better since then and so it would be the golf ball as far as technology goes.
THE MODERATOR: Conditions last week were as tough as the LPGA has had all year long and it was a battle of stamina and mental ability to stay in the present. Did that help you? Did you feel like once it started blowing a gale out there that things were going to kind of come your way?
KARRIE WEBB: Well, it was blowing a lot earlier than it had the previous two days, and so it was already quite windy on the range, so I knew it was going to be a tough day before I even teed off. You know, I knew that having a three shot lead that Shanshan had would not feel too comfortable out there because it could go in a heartbeat.
I just felt like if I got off to a good start in the first few holes, that that would really set the tone for me, and you know, hopefully get me within earshot and I was 3 under through three and I think Shanshan, I don't know where she bogeyed early on but I was only one shot behind all of a sudden.
KARRIE WEBB: When we were paired together, we always brought out the best in each other and this was just my best example is we played a Shell's Wonderful World of Golf TV match in Las Vegas and I think it was in 2001, Miky was working for me, and neither of us had seen the course but the guys had gone out and walked it.
TV matches are supposed to be you're mic'd up and chatty and we were all about beating each other. I shot 64 and she shot 65. Golf Channel plays that every now and then. That's just the sort of golf we brought out in each other. I don't think there was ever too many times where one of us didn't play well together when we were paired together.
Obviously we did go head to head a lot. You know, it was a fun time but we were trying to beat each other. I think you can look back and appreciate it more now than when you were in the middle of it.
THE MODERATOR: Do you feel like that competition exists on the Tour now?
KARRIE WEBB: I guess it does exist. I don't think it's been consistent, though. I don't think there's been two or three players consistently paired together in the last round. There's probably been four or five players over the last five years that have been up there, and well Lorena would have been in the last five years, but Yani and Stacy Lewis, Suzann Pettersen has played consistently well. But there's probably not players that have gone head to head that often.
THE MODERATOR: Does the LPGA need that? Does the LPGA need a dominant player
KARRIE WEBB: If she's up there and I don't know who it would be, any number of the top young players that she's going head to head against, I think that would be good for women's golf.
Q. You've won seven Majors; if you won this week, you would take over the active lead of Majors from your friend, Juli Inkster, who has also won seven. Is that the kind of thing that matters to you? When you sit down at the end of your career to have been an active leader of Majors, I think all golfers, that's what you measure yourself on.
KARRIE WEBB: Actually, I wouldn't have known that. I wouldn't have even known that Juli and I were tied to be honest. But it's not something that I set out to do. I would like to add to that number just for myself personally. I hold the majors as the five most important tournaments of the year and I want to add to that title before I finish up.
Q. The players who are No. 1 in the world who are considered the player at the time, when some of them struggle with the responsibilities of just being in that position, you could see her struggling and retiring at an early age; Rory McIlroy at No. 1; Yani at No. 1; can you look back and talk about what it is like to be the player and the pressures and challenges of that?
KARRIE WEBB: Well, I actually I never verbally spoke of how hard it was for me, but when Yani was speaking about it earlier in the year when Stacy took over No. 1, I totally got what she was saying. And probably not even to the extent that she has a whole country riding on her performance every week, as well. It's a big responsibility.
You know, I didn't handle the off course stuff very well at all. I think being on the golf course was my savior, but I think it that also the pressures of off course made me not appreciate and enjoy what I was doing because I didn't at 21, I was supposed to be the face of the LPGA and a personality that everyone wanted to ride with, and I apparently wasn't.
It was very hard for me to deal with that off the golf course. Also, just going from being someone that no one knew and to being well known, I was quite a shy person when I came over here, so it was a huge adjustment for me and I was living in a different country, as was Yani, but it was overwhelming, my desire to play golf got me through most of those years, but at some point I started wishing to be No. 1 and not No. 1.
When Yani sort of said that she was glad to be No. 2, I was in the back of my mind saying, be careful what you wish for, because I wouldn't I would like to have continued to play the golf I played but I think subconsciously, I backed off the pedal a little bit because I wasn't really enjoying everything that came with it.
THE MODERATOR: You're No. 8 in the world right now, the Rolex Rankings, are you as proud of that given where you are in your career at this point? Does that say a lot for you.
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, it's always great to be in that Top 10 number. I don't really look at where I'm ranked rather than how I'm playing, and I think how I'm playing will determine my rank. You know, wherever that puts me, as long as I'm playing well, I'm happy with that.
THE MODERATOR: Couple of other questions, Stacy Lewis was here yesterday and I mentioned she spoke highly of you and she also talked interestingly enough what you were just discussing, learning the ropes and being a highly ranked player and everyone wanting a piece of you.
One thing she talked about you, that you are the best in the world at course management and that players have learned things from you. Do you feel that's the strength many of your game and given what one of the questions was about the setup this week does that play right into your hands?
KARRIE WEBB: I guess I've never really thought about it. I guess I look at it as I've gotten older, I have a better understanding of my abilities and what I'm capable of, and capable of that day; whether I'm firing on all cylinders or I'm not quite there, I have an understanding of how I'm going to be able to putt a score together that day. And I for the most part manage my emotions better than when I was younger.
Q. Does the idea of getting a sixth major motivate you? And what do we call that?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, I'll leave that up to you.
Q. Six pack?
KARRIE WEBB: That's Craig's job, actually. Yeah, obviously it does. But again, like I said, all five of the Majors this year if I can add one, that would be tremendous.
Q. Just to follow on that, this is one of the oldest questions in golf but hardly anyone has the perspective that you do on it. What is it about winning a major, or what is that extra something that it takes to win a major, as opposed to winning any other week?
KARRIE WEBB: Well, generally, when we are playing a major, the courses are more difficult than on a regular week. And I think you need to manage your emotions and your patience that week more than anything, and I think you know, I do it well sometimes and not others. Like being asked to set a score, sometimes even though I'm not actually verbally telling you, I have it in my head, and might get off to a bad start on Thursday and think, oh, you know, I've now got to press to catch up; when at end of the week, the winning score was way higher than I thought it was going to be. If I would have just hung in there, I could have had a shot on Sunday.
It's all about understanding that, and I think last week was difficult, and I just said to myself, it's difficult for everyone, and as long as you believe that that's happening to everybody, you know, I feel like I can manage my emotion through all that.
Q. What's the state of youth golf back in Australia? How would you gauge it right now?
KARRIE WEBB: I haven't been back to Australia since Adam won the Masters, but I know that interest has tremendous and that's only going to help golf. Adam Scott is going to be what Greg Norman was to me; Adam Scott won the Masters and Greg lost, or came in second, but I think Adam Scott will be that for the next generation of kids for sure.
I know that golf in Australian is working on grass roots golf and they are really putting a lot of time and effort into women's golf, and I really appreciate that. I have a scholarship program that we work in conjunction together with, and actually two of my scholarship winners, one is alternate this week, and one is playing this week, Julia, proud of all of them and they are doing all quite well.
THE MODERATOR: We are about a year away from the first ever International Crown, and Australia is currently fifth in the standings and you area top the list of the potential winners who would play. My last question to you is: How much will that mean for Australia to play in something like that, and are you looking forward to being a part of a competition given that you could not play the Solheim Cup?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, I think it will be fun. The team next year will be a lot of fun competing. You know, it will be a blast. Really looking forward to it.
Q. Can you talk about what this place means to you and your history and relationship with it?
KARRIE WEBB: I feel like I have a love/hate relationship with it. I either play really well here or I struggle with my emotions and patience, even when we play a regular event here. It's a course that always requires a lot of patience, and the weeks that I'm on top of that are the weeks that I've done pretty well.
Inbee Park, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Jiyai Shin, Rolex Rankings No. 9
Na Yeon Choi, Rolex Rankings No. 3
THE MODERATOR: Thanks for being here at the Wegman's LPGA Championship. This is a total treat right here to have the top three ranked Korean players in the world, three of the biggest names on the LPGA and the most recent three major champions on the LPGA Tour, all fighting for this prize here this week.
Let's introduce the folks sitting up here, to my immediate right is the No. 1 player in the world, the Kraft Nabisco Championship winner, Inbee Park. Sitting next to Inbee is the reining U.S. Women's Open champion, No. 3 in the Rolex Rankings, Na Yeon Choi. And No. 9 in the Rolex ranking the and the Ricoh British Women's Open Champion, Jiyai Shin.
Thank you for being here, and let's start with your thoughts on the course.
INBEE PARK: I think the course is tougher I don't know if rough is higher, I think every year I play here, I don't know whether I'm getting old, the course is getting tougher, I don't know, it's just playing tougher anywhere and so no exception this year. It's a very tough golf course, very good, challenging. The roughs are really up and the greens are really firmer than the years I've played before. I think it's going to be very tough scoring conditions for this week.
THE MODERATOR: Tough scoring conditions. Na Yeon Choi, do you feel like the course is setting up difficult?
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah, I think the course is pretty difficult. Like this is a major tournament and I mean like Inbee said, I think the fairways are getting really narrow, and I heard that tomorrow is going to be rain.
So I think the rough is going to be really thick. I think I need more power shot from the rough. Like I saw some other players from the rough, they can get out really easily, but like for me, like actually really difficult. I try to focus like how I hit on the face, and I try to hit it hard as I can.
THE MODERATOR: Going to do some weight lifting tonight? Going to go get strong?
NA YEON CHOI: Maybe.
THE MODERATOR: What are your impression of this golf course?
JIYAI SHIN: I have a great memory of this course from four years ago and I have good confidence with my driver and my strength is accuracy. So I really enjoy the course at the moment.
THE MODERATOR: I think one of the big topics on the LPGA right now, if you're looking at overall story lines, is the battle for the No. 1 ranking. Right now, you're the one at the top and everybody is chasing you, Inbee.
But for the world of golf, this is a very big positive, I believe personally, that there are so many stars on the LPGA and that we have had this battle between obviously Yani for a long time and Stacy and now you. What are your impressions? What's it like to be No. 1 right now for you?
INBEE PARK: I still can't believe I'm No. 1. It's been, what, six, seven weeks that I've been No. 1. It's tough to believe that I am the top player of this great tour. I mean, not just myself, but there is a lot of players that's very competitive, and this is a world tour with so many different players representing so many different countries.
This is a very strong tour and I believe there are still it's still in a big fight for the No. 1 player every week, and it could change every week. We are really good for each other, we inspire each other and that's very good for the Tour. We share a lot of the wins together and we have a lot of champions.
THE MODERATOR: I want to tie this into the battle to be at The International Crown in just a while. Na Yeon, she's it, she's the one that everybody wants to beat right now.
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah, I mean, I really was happy because when she liked being No. 1. That is one of my goals, too, but I always like working hard to try to be in there. But I always liked chasing someone. Even she's my good friend, but you know, when she plays well, I got some motivation there. So I tried to, you know, working hard and to bring my best.
THE MODERATOR: Your thoughts about Inbee and the chase to try to get to No. 1 yourself? You've been up there.
JIYAI SHIN: Well, when I went to be No. 1, it was big pressure. And then after, when I missed like the second, third, all the media and all the fans, they are talking about, what's your problem, what's my problem.
But now I'm No. 9, but if I well, when I catch up, though, I want that people say, oh, she's back, she's back. So comfortable my spot at the moment but still looking forward to be No. 1.
All players have a goal to be No. 1. Well, Inbee played the last year at the British Open the whole round and then she played so good and then her putting, well, everybody knows her putting is really very strong. And then I knew how much is that pressure on being No. 1. So hopefully she enjoys it.
THE MODERATOR: If the three of you walked in downtown Seoul together without your golf clothes on, what would happen, if you were walking hand in hand or arm in arm or just next to each other down the street, would everybody stop? Would it be a big, mass media situation and everybody wanting autographs?
NA YEON CHOI: I don't think so. I mean, a lot of people recognize Jiyai Shin, but I mean, like people say if I take off the hat, they say like, hard to recognize me.
INBEE PARK: I think all the old guys who watch golf will recognize us. If where he go to golf course it's a definite but just walking down Seoul with a bunch of young people, we have a slim chance.
THE MODERATOR: What does that say?
INBEE PARK: In Korea, I think golf is popular for older guys I wouldn't say older guys, but a little bit mid age. (Laughter).
THE MODERATOR: But not for the young people. You guys are role models for young girls in Korea. They wouldn't run up to you?
NA YEON CHOI: Hopefully they would.
Q. How much do each of you look back on your major championship, the most recent major championship you won, and when you look back, what do you think about, and in any way, do those victories help you coming into this major championship?
INBEE PARK: It is always a good memory and winning a Major Championship is a good experience. It's always in your mind for a lot longer than other tournaments.
You know, I just love playing in major championships with the challenge and with the strong field and with all the players trying to play really good; and they have everybody here, family, friends, all the coach. I just like being in that kind of situation. I mean, just being in contention would be really good. Just to be able to experience some kind of pressure on the last day, I think that would be my goal.
NA YEON CHOI: I like to play difficult course, and especially major tournaments, people even I won the U.S. Open, I didn't know how I approached to the major tournaments. But right now it's just different mind set. I have to be really patient until the last hole. I need to accept every situation.
If I have a good results with a difficult course, I learn so many things. Like I am experienced and everything, like fans. So I love to play with difficult course.
JIYAI SHIN: They say all. Well, yeah, when I play a major tournament, the course setting is more difficult than other tournaments, so it makes a lot of challenge by myself.
And also, we have to be patient for every single shot, because nobody knows, it's very easy to make the bogey or double bogey or more than that. So I think it's really good, keep the patience.
Q. Inbee, first of all, how does it feel to have the three of you up there as reigning major champions, the current major champions? And very obvious question, Korea is not the biggest country in the world; why do you all do so well?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, just really proud of my country and I'm really proud of all the friends that are playing out here. We are all similar age group and we all grow up playing together.
You know, being able to sit here ten years later when we started playing as a junior golfer and being here on the top on the LPGA where we dreamed all the time, it's just living my dream every day, and you know, I'm sure that it's going to be the same for them, too.
Q. Why do you do so well?
INBEE PARK: I don't know. It's in our blood (laughing). I think maybe we have dominant blood.
THE MODERATOR: The last eight major championships on the LPGA have been won by Asian a born players. That's more than coincidence, that's a trend. You all are playing great, great golf. How do you explain that?
NA YEON CHOI: I think a lot of Korean players, we prove that we can do it I think. They inspire all the junior golf when we were young, and I think that's why we always make dream to be an LPGA tournament or be a Major Champion.
And like one day, we just made a dream came true. I mean, I know this is like amazing feeling, but still, sometimes we still couldn't believe; like she is No. 1 in the world right now and I'm No. 3 in the world; like she's No. 9.
Sometimes, some day, I can't believe I'm No. 3; really? Like there's so many good players out there, but I'm like No. 3. Sometimes I really can't believe.
JIYAI SHIN: Yeah, I agree. Well, and then when we start like 15 years ago, we watching I think most Korean players, we have like very positive image for the LPGA wins, because when I start golf, I'm watching Se Ri Pak's win in 1998 U.S. Women's Open, so that's my biggest dreaming, be like her.
So that's why I think make the positive, and I just do it more like harder training and practice.
Q. I know you guys all get along, but is there a rivalry between any of you? At any point do you get jealous of each other?
JIYAI SHIN: Pretty (laughter).
INBEE PARK: They always started playing really well once they got on the LPGA Tour, and on the other hand I had some tough times three or four years after the Open, and I was really jealous of the consistency. And for in every year they are playing so good and every year they are finishing in the Top 10s in the Money List. That's something I'm always looking forward to doing and they have been my role model for those years.
THE MODERATOR: And there's no rivalry here; it's more friendship and kind of camaraderie?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, of course.
Q. The practice rounds are over and the Pro Am is done. What do you do to prepare for the tournament this weekend?
NA YEON CHOI: Well, I just finish Pro Am today, and I mean, I will do a little practice and then like tonight, there's some good Korean restaurants, so I might go there, just to relax.
We play like almost 30 tournaments a year, like almost every day we play, like golf really serious. So sometimes we need to relax. There's usually like movie theatre, too. So if I have time, I would like to go there and just having fun on the road.
THE MODERATOR: Let me ask you something. You all three combined have won $20 million and you have won 24 tournaments on this tour. That's pretty remarkable.
Now, there are a lot of people that talk about your great golf, but fans who watch the LPGA always seem to think, boy, there are a lot of great Asian born players but they don't necessarily feel like they know each of you as individual people.
That wouldn't be something I can say because we've spent time together and I know what your likes, dislikes and so forth are. How do you answer, perhaps, those that would say there is too much Asian dominance on the LPGA Tour and we don't know these players well. How important is it to you to get your personality out?
INBEE PARK: I think social network has been doing a very good job of getting us get to the fans a little bit more and communicating with the fans a little bit more, Twitter or Facebook. That kind of thing has been helping us a lot I think to get to know us a little bit better.
And of course, a good finish will really help. Once you start getting on TV a lot and they see you, they see us, how we play and they see us how we laugh. I think it's just I think our names are just tough to pronounce and remember for them, so it's tough.
I mean, it's tougher than obviously the easier names they can remember, the easier faces, they can remember. It's tougher for us, we have it's it's tougher for us than other people to get recognized.
NA YEON CHOI: I feel the same way as Jiyai, but I think, I mean, maybe just for me, but when I learn the English, when I speak with people, especially American fans, I felt like really comfortable with them on Tour. I think after that, a lot of people were kind to me. I can't like barely speak with the people right now and I can do interviews, I can show on TV and a lot of people recognize me right now. I think that's huge for me.
THE MODERATOR: Do you feel welcomed in the States?
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah, I do.
JIYAI SHIN: Yeah, a lot of fans, it's easier to remember, maybe because I change my hair color a lot of times. Well, this is my fifth year on the LPGA Tour, but every week I can feel how they cheer for the Asian players and also they are really looking for us, I really appreciate for that.
Well, Inbee said, I think the same, is that all the Korean players' name are very close, very similar and it's very hard, pronunciation, but when they call my name, I'm really thankful for that.
THE MODERATOR: I sense a very different vibe and atmosphere among the fans of the LPGA.
How do you break down a stereotype that exists that maybe people don't think you know English well; or you all tried to learn the language because it's clearly not true, you guys are wonderful. Start with you, NYC.
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah, like when I came here at the first, I was like kind of scary to play with the American players with the same group, the same pairings, because if they walk to me or if they try to ask me something, I can't I couldn't speak English.
So like I lost all my confidence from there, and I couldn't focus my game I think. So after I won the Vare Trophy in 2010, still so many people didn't know my name and I just like decide, I want to learn English and I want to, like a lot of people, a lot of American people knows my name. So I start to take English and then I travel with my English tutor. Actually, I didn't have like English class every day, but as long as I spoke with English, I learn so much from there.
INBEE PARK: I mean I experienced it when I was very young because I came to America when I was 12 years old, and I had to go to school and I had to play junior golf.
Yeah, I think it's a little bit different to what these guys have experienced. I think I would say, I was a little bit easier, because I just had to get along with the kids when I was in school.
But yeah, still, golf was a little bit tougher because we didn't have any caddies. We had to have our own bag and got to help each other out and try to tend the pins and all that stuff. But I just didn't know how to ask, tend the pins, so I just putted without knowing where the ball was. I was really comfortable finishing second place so that I won't have to do the interview for first place. I have that kind of experiences, but I think that they have done a really good job coming here to the States when they are really older and trying to play golf and trying to learn the language at the same time, I think that's a talent.
JIYAI SHIN: But the good thing is they listen to my talk. So I'm really thankful that I can keep try speaking and listening. Well, now I have a lot of friends and a lot of fans being on the Tour, so I'm really happy they understand.
THE MODERATOR: Some of your interests: Inbee: Skiing? You're like a good downhill skier? Tell us about that.
INBEE PARK: I used to see when I was really younger, and I like to go to ski every year in the wintertime when I'm in Korea.
THE MODERATOR: Black Diamond? Blue slopes? Green slopes? The hard ones?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I can do everything.
THE MODERATOR: Jump?
INBEE PARK: No, no jump. I think that's too dangerous now. I'm not like a wild skier, but I just like to enjoy the snow and I like to ski.
THE MODERATOR: And you love traveling?
INBEE PARK: I love traveling and I hate traveling, because sometimes it's so good that you get to see so much and you get to see a lot of different places and get to experience a lot of different countries, and that's great. But once you get on the road for like a month, two months, that just gets really tough and you really miss home. So I think, yeah.
THE MODERATOR: Piano?
INBEE PARK: Really good piano player.
THE MODERATOR: Better than you are a putter?
INBEE PARK: (Laughs). I mean, yeah, I used to go to tournaments when I was younger, elementary school. Pretty good, yeah. I tried a lot of things when I was younger.
THE MODERATOR: NYC, cooking, you want to be on a cooking show some day? Who do we need to call, Emeril Lagasse?
NA YEON CHOI: Sometimes takes two hours to make one meal because I'm serious beginner, but I love to cook, and when I cook, I like really don't think about golf and it's a really stressful not stressful. And also, my new trainer is a good he can make really good cook, so I always cook him. Like one day I invite Yani and some friends to my house for dinner inaudible.
THE MODERATOR: Do you know what's on the menu?
NA YEON CHOI: It should be some Korean food, but I don't know, maybe I think she likes some meat, so I might cook some meat, yeah.
THE MODERATOR: If you could be in any magazine, you want to be in Time Magazine?
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah, I said before. I don't really like follow, I don't really read Time Magazine, but I think it's maybe bigger than I think.
THE MODERATOR: So more important than Golf Week, Golf World, Golf Digest
NA YEON CHOI: Except golf.
THE MODERATOR: Jiyai: Two CDs, singing? Tell us that story.
JIYAI SHIN: That's my second job. I have two albums in Korea and I love to sing a song, so a couple years back my manager, he asked to me, let's try to make the CD for the charity. So I think, oh, that's a good idea and then I did, and the people loved that. But I made another CD, so, well, still a lot of my friend asked me, what's the next CD to come up, but I don't know yet. I tried to last year, but it's not enough time to do that.
THE MODERATOR: Have you heard of American Idol and The Voice, and do you watch those shows when you're here?
JIYAI SHIN: I really like to watching the show, but people think are so great, I just think I'm not that good (laughing).
THE MODERATOR: Have you guys heard her sing? When you go to the house, you could sing while she's cooking
NA YEON CHOI: I have a karaoke machine in my house.
Q. You took some water from the Kraft to your dad; did that make it through security? What happened to that water?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, we met him in Hawai'i and I threw it over his I poured it over his shirt.
THE MODERATOR: I want to talk about the International Crown. If you look at the standings now, we are about a year away, and I know it's a Solheim Cup year. Eight countries will qualify, 32 players, and the eight countries that qualify we'll know more about on Monday, November 25 of this year and we'll figure out who the players are next year at the Kraft Nabisco.
You still have to technically qualify, but now Korea is the top of the list, and each of you in the team right now has a Top 10 ranking. There is no other country that has more than one player in the Top 10 in the world.
Are you all looking forward to this competition, and just like you being No. 1, knowing that everybody is going to want to try to beat Korea, it's a pretty loaded time right now.
INBEE PARK: Yeah, it's going to be a lot of fun. We've done national team championships with Japan, Korea versus Japan. It's always fun. It's a different kind of format that we play. And teaming up with players that you always try to beat, and if you are on the same team as them, it's just a lot of fun playing with them, playing as a team and playing a different format I think is just going to be a very good experience and I think we'll have a strong team.
THE MODERATOR: There's no captains; who would be the person that would be the most vocal? What would be the leader of the team?
NA YEON CHOI: How many players?
THE MODERATOR: Four players on your team, you four.
NA YEON CHOI: I think maybe Inbee. Inbee is No. 1. I think we'll see by that time and then whoever is the top of the ranking, we'll make her our captain.
THE MODERATOR: Is that okay with you? Are you looking forward to this competition? You get to take on the rest of the world.
JIYAI SHIN: Well, no comment well, I think, we don't know yet because I know it's four Rolex players, and a lot of Korean players well, we will check it out at the time.
Well, definitely, I do my best.
Meg Mallon, 2013 U.S. Solheim Cup Team Captain & 1991 champion
MEG MALLON: I met last night with eight of the players, and it was just a really good bonding experience. We had a good time, thinking about the Solheim Cup. I just told them last night, I said, don't worry about getting points. Keep concentrating on winning golf tournaments. If you think about winning a golf tournament, the points will take care of themselves.
You know, you can tell that they are excited, uptight, all those emotions they should have going into this last stretch.
Q. The fact that you can have so many first timers, playing into your decision going forward
MEG MALLON: As far as who my picks are? The dynamic like I said, my five core, I have a good, solid group there that are veterans, but I could have four to six random players. But they are also players that do have match play experience, international experience played collegiate golf and played quite well. It's not like they will be completely green.
But the Solheim Cup is a different beast and I think players in the nine Solheim Cups I've been a part of, it's actually ruined their career because they were not ready for that stage. And that's what Dottie and Laura will be looking for for players in the next six events that do step up and are comfortable on a big stage, because it's important to have that under you playing in the Solheim Cup.
THE MODERATOR: Follow up to that would be if the team were announced right now, to Steve's point, you would have players that might be first timers but also are playing as well as anybody that would be on your team with the likes of Korda and Salas, and maybe even a Jennifer Johnson; is that a comfort for you or do you wipe that out?
MEG MALLON: Well, what's a comfort for me is that I have that solid five players that I'm looking at as leadership and to be leaders for these players, these young players that are coming up and they are already doing that.
Last night I saw it at the dinner; they want to bring these players in to have them be successful in Solheim Cups. And American golf going forward looks fantastic with these young players.
So it's exciting for me to watch the dynamic of the veterans and the young players working together.
Q. Talking about whether a young player is ready or not, and the danger of not being ready, how do you no one that or does it ultimately come down to an instinctive feel for you?
MEG MALLON: A lot of it is instinct. You can tell, a player knows whether a player can handle that stage for the most part.
Sometimes it surprises you, the player that can. On the other side of it, there's a player that once they get on that stage shines more than they do in a regular event. So it's actually good for me that we have these three Majors coming in and we have these tough events because it's going to show who can come in and stand that kind of pressure.
Q. What is more important to you, current form or Solheim Cup experience?
MEG MALLON: I look at it as kind of a pieces of the pie. My greatest scenario would be a player that's played in multiple Solheim Cups that's playing really well going into it, and is ready to play in the Stanley Cup.
If I don't have that scenario, it would be a player that's playing really well, that's played well and on a major stage or has a lot of match play experience in other international competition.
THE MODERATOR: Most general managers of professional sports teams have a file folder in their drawer of the replacement of the next coach that gets fired so they have players that they are ready to call in a moment's notice. Do you have two or three that I understand that may not be on this list, that are your go toes?
MEG MALLON: Only if they are playing really well.
THE MODERATOR: So it's all about form.
MEG MALLON: It really is. Golf is a fine line and confidence is a really big thing. If a player is playing well, and they have had that experience behind them, then they are definitely at the top of my list.
Q. Players, when you seek players' input, they usually know who they are comfortable playing with but they don't always know who they are best playing with. Are you going to sort of be a Joe Torre or a Billy Martin?
MEG MALLON: It's a combination of both, because I've learned from all the captains I've been with. Judy Rankin put me in the most uncomfortable position but she had faith in me that I could handle that. I didn't necessarily have that but that's what she saw in me and she put me out last as the anchor and it turned out I was actually comfortable and good in that position but I didn't know that she knew that in me.
I think that's Dottie and Laura's and my job is to figure out those players, where they are the best, where she shine the most and where they are the most comfortable being successful, or they don't realize how good they can be in that position. Sometimes a player, you know, they just think too much, and think that they know where they are going to go and if you shock them and put them in a place where they are not comfortable, they really rise and shine.
Q. So there will be a time where there will be two players that maybe are not thinking they are the perfect match but you may look at it and say, these guys can bring out the best in each other and?
MEG MALLON: And it's my job to convince them of that and that's what the practice sessions are about and what the dinners are all about. They may not know that person as well. I learned that from Beth's team in 2009. She had some pretty young players with some veterans, and just throwing them together in social situations, they really started to like each other. They didn't know each other.
And I don't know how much of that I'm going to have on my team. For the most part, these players know each other pretty well but there could be a couple players thrown in there that are either shy or not comfortable in that position, and that's where I rely on my veteran players to come in and welcome them into the fold and make them feel comfortable.
THE MODERATOR: Dottie and Laura, are they Billy Martin or Joe Torre.
MEG MALLON: I'm not going to answer that question (laughing).
Q. How much off the course stuff have you got through as far as the uniforms and the food, all the minutia?
MEG MALLON: We have the base of it done, I can't say it's all done but the majority of it is. It's just tightening everything up now and it's amazing how much goes into this event, it really is. I knew about it but when you're actually at the point of it, it's quite an event.
Q. What's the one thing that has been the thing you're going, gosh, can you just get this thing solved?
MEG MALLON: Yeah, we have a conference call today. You know, it's difficult, because you don't know who your whole team is going to be, so the menus are tough. Back when I played, we had a toaster and peanut butter and jelly, and now you have gluten free, dairy free, pasta free. It's unbelievable, the issues, but you want your team to be as comfortable as they can be and ready to play, so those things are important.
Clothing is important. We used to wear sweaters that would, you know, in the rain, would go down to our knees. Now we have four or five seamstresses that are on site that make sure the seams are in the right place.
So a lot more detail goes on now than what it used to be, but also it makes the players feel good and feel like performing well, and that's how I want them to feel.
Q. Can you remember back as a player going into like the last two months of a Solhiem Cup year where you are were on the bubble and do you remember what that was like and how it affected you?
MEG MALLON: It was a really good bonding experience, thinking about the Solheim Cup and I just told them last night, I said, don't worry about getting points. Keep concentrating on winning golf tournaments. If you think about it I qualified for every team and that's why I kind of have the mentality that this team, if you don't make the team, you don't make the team. If you're not in the top eight and you're not in the top two qualifiers on the Rolex World Rankings, then you shouldn't expect to be on the team and that's how I felt when I played. I made sure I made the team. I've seen players be on the bubble and it's hard.
THE MODERATOR: Solheim Cup points this week and you have a stretch of three major championships in a short period of time and I know the players are thinking about it. You mentioned the top five that you feel like are locks so far: Lewis, Kerr, Creamer, Stanford and Lincicome, one to five. There are obviously a lot of name players outside of that, as well. How much conversation have you had with your Top 5 that are locks, what are you speaking to them about at this point?
MEG MALLON: Yeah, definitely as far as getting to know the golf course. We have a practice session next week and we have some players coming in to play the golf course. It's the weekend of the men's Open. I think that's very important for that core group to know the course as well as they can, and just talking to them about pairings, players that they are comfortable playing with in the past, because this group are veterans of the Stanley Cup.
They play with these players week in and week out and I rely a bit on their opinions and it's been very helpful. We had a wonderful dinner last night with eight of the players and it's hard, those last few events, all you're thinking about is getting into the Solheim Cup. That's what I said to the team last night, think about winning a tournament. Don't think about finishing 20th because you're just going to kill yourself out there doing that.
So I'm not going to have much sympathy for those that are not inside of it. My job is to make the 11th and 12th players make our team better.
Q. How much do you scout out the competition and maybe share with us your thoughts on The European Team as it's shaping up right now?
MEG MALLON: I don't scout the competition. I just keep an eye on what they are doing. Lotta and I are very good friends, and so I'm more interested in what the makeup of her team is going to be, and I actually talked to Suzann Pettersen yesterday about it, and she was saying the same thing.
I think we have five or six players on the Ireland team that are not qualified for this team and they had the same situation going on on their side where they have quite a few veterans that are not quite qualified. Now, Lotta has four picks and I don't think I would like to have that situation; I only have two, and I think it would be tough to have four.
It's going to be interesting to see what direction she goes, because you have players like a Charlie Hull, who I knew on the Junior Solheim Cup, when I was captain of the Junior Solheim Cup, she was one of the top players, a great player over there, and she's finished second five weeks in a row out on The European Tour. She could obviously be a pick, easily, for Lotta.
So it's just going to be interesting to see how she shapes her team as well. But as far as scouting, not necessarily. I know the core group of players and I know pretty much how they play, but it's not like The Presidents Cup where you match players. We are throwing our pairings out there randomly so you don't know who you're playing necessarily.
THE MODERATOR: So you have not gone to the Golf Channel and you're not exchanging game film of her team versus your team.
MEG MALLON: Not yet. She's actually over in Germany right now.
THE MODERATOR: Morgan Pressel is 15th right now. Is there anyway that you can see going completely off the map right now with a player who is outside the Top 50, let's fast forward to the Ricoh Women's British Open when this is all going to get settled and the dust is settled. Could you go outside of that? Would there be a complete wild card that might shock people.
MEG MALLON: I don't know. It would be hard to say; if they were playing well, outside the Top 20 the way the points are now, what Jennifer Johnson did a couple weeks ago, leapfrogged a bunch of people winning a golf tournament and that could happen at 30th now. I'm still sending e mails to the Top 30, because even outside of that, someone could qualify with all the points that are out there.
I could go outside, only if someone comes up and is just playing really well but they are going to make points anyway. So I would doubt that it would be anybody outside of the Top 20, probably, at that time.
THE MODERATOR: As far as qualifying for the United States Team, and this will go into effect in 2015, to qualify for the United States Team, you would now have to be one of four things: Born in the United States, born to parents who are U.S. citizens, become a naturalized citizen before 18 years of age, or adopted by U.S. parents by the age of 13.
So those are some fairly substantial changes that while they don't affect your team could affect things going forward, and perhaps help or maybe confuse; what's your take on that as a captain and somebody who has been in the mix in these team competitions?
MEG MALLON: I was all for it when Mike Whan shared all the information with us and talked about the players that would have been involved this year. I'm all for it. We are on board with all the other international competitions. I think what we are concerned about is I think the Olympics are a little bit too loose with that, with players jumping countries, so we just wanted to make sure that they were a player that was serious about playing for the United States. I think, and correct me, but I think you also have to play in all U.S. competitions.
So you can't jump and play for the fill pines and Ireland or someone else if you're a kid, you wouldn't qualify for the Solheim Cup. I like that, you're going to make a choice to play for one country and I'm glad that they changed the rules.
Q. You're one of the players who won a major after the age of 40; what does it take to still be in competition, to win tournaments when you get into your late 30s and early 40s and maybe if you can talk about how she's been able to do that?
MEG MALLON: When Karrie was in her 20s, I said, I feel like every player, male, female, doesn't play their best golf until their 30s. Karrie described it today in her press conference about finding different ways to win and the maturity of her game and how great she is. Karrie is in my Top 5 of greatest players that have ever played on the LPGA Tour and I think there's also one of the most underrated that have ever played, and overshadowed, because of her skills.
What it takes, she's young, she's 38 years old, and is keeping yourself fit, but really the desire, the desire, the heart in your gut wanting to be there and winning golf tournaments. I was a late bloomer and I felt at 41, I've got the question at 41, did you ever think you would win a U.S. Open at 41, and I thought, well, that's all I've been thinking about at 41. So I think Karrie's kind of carrot and goal out there is to play the Olympics for Australia. I hope she continues after that but I feel like that's kind of her motivation.
Q. You were very complimentary to American women's golf before, and I know it goes in cycles, talking about the men's tour, when are Americans going to win majors and then they swept them. What makes you so bullish on the future of American women's golf?
MEG MALLON: I think they are a highly motivated group. They are developing better at a younger age, the American players. There's more access and ability for them to play, more training and coaching and that has helped a lot.
I think the success of Paula Creamer and Morgan Pressel have generated a young group of players to come up and play really well. It does come in cycles. We had the domination of the Swedes for a while and then the Koreans have dominated for a while but it's a cyclical thing. It's nice to see this young group of Americans, and they are highly motivated. They want to win golf tournaments. They don't want to play just to play out here. They want to win. It's fun to see, for sure.
Q. How many times as Juli told you she doesn't want to be considered?
MEG MALLON: You know, she hasn't. I read that she said that. And it is Juli speak, because I said in an article earlier, Sweden, 2002 when we were in Sweden, that was the first time Juli was going to retire, right. I've always said, as long as Juli is playing, she's not a ceremonial golfer; she's out here to play to win. She's out here to perform well and I fully expect her to have a great summer, so I'm not counting Juli out by any means.
Q. I've written she's played her last Solheim Cup story three times.
MEG MALLON: At least.
THE MODERATOR: How big could she be if she was player No. 12 is a bunch of first timers?
MEG MALLON: You know, a Juli Inkster playing well is as good as anybody in the world, especially in match play. It lights a fire under her, and she sets a great example for the young players and works harder than anybody out there. She's a valuable person to have around.
Q. What about having her in the team room?
MEG MALLON: Oh, yeah, Juli will always be welcome, absolutely.
Q. You played here for a number of years and you won here. Wonder if you can speculate on a potential of Rochester for a Solheim Cup in the future?
MEG MALLON: Terrific. We have amazing fans here and people love golf here and we are going to host the PGA Championship in August at Oak Hill which will be a great event for the town. With the Solheim Cup, there would be some great crowd here, it would be fun.
THE MODERATOR: Ticket sales have been going phenomenal well in Denver, corporate hospitality very well, it's going to be sold out. And from what I've heard the last number of days, a very large number of tickets being old outside the United States, more than 50 percent from overseas. That tees me up to ask you about the importance of playing on home soil and trying to get that Cup back.
MEG MALLON: This event sells itself. If Suzann Pettersen wasn't there, I think we would sell out more, actually.
Yeah, the Europeans, they are very well represented in their fan base, and it's great to have that environment. It's great to have them scheming on both sides and singing on both sides. I know our fans will be there in full force and hopefully screaming and yelling as loud as they can, it will be fun.