Wegmans LPGA Championship Tuesday Notes and Interviews

Wegmans LPGA Championship
Locust Hill Country Club
Pittsford, NY
Pre-tournament Notes and Interviews
June 4, 2013

Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 2
Cristie Kerr, Rolex Rankings No. 11 & 2010 champion
Shanshan Feng, Rolex Rankings No. 7 & defending 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.

Stacy Lewis Not Concerned About Major Drought: Stacy Lewis has received a lot of attention since winning the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship with six additional wins, 2012 Rolex Player of the Year honors and significant media coverage. But the 28-year-old continues to focus on winning majors, despite falling short in her last eight attempts.

“I feel like I’ve had chances, and I’ve been in contention, so it doesn’t weight on me that much,” Lewis said. “I feel like my game is made for majors and it’s only a matter of time. I’m not that worried about it.”

So far this year, Lewis has won twice – the HSBC Women’s Champions and the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup – and currently sits second on the LPGA Official Money List and Rolex Player of the Year race. She hasn’t been playing particularly well as of late and hopes to get back on track this week.

Her last two finishes at the Pure Silk- Bahamas LPGA Classic (T27) and the ShopRite LPGA Classic (T58) and carded a third-round 80 in the second round a week ago. Her coached had planned to come to New York this week and said his presence was not the product of an emergency call.

“No, he was planning on coming,” said Lewis “I wanted him out last week, but he couldn't come.  So he came in early, and I needed to ‑‑ I haven't played well really the last couple months.  So I needed to get control of my misses, get just the distance back and we're getting closer.

I honestly came off the golf course on Saturday and didn't realize that I had shot 80,” said Lewis. “I honestly didn't even feel like I played that poorly.  It's just the conditions were so hard and with one swing you could make a double.” 

American stars on Locust Hill. Cristie Kerr won her second major at Locust Hill in 2010. Stacy Lewis has performed well in recent years on the same course, tying for second last year (-4) and tying for sixth in 2011 (-6). But what do they expect this week?

“When I won in 2010, you could get lucky (in the rough),” Kerr said. “Not this year… you won’t get lucky at all. The rough is worse. Karine Icher said it’s like a water hazard on the side of the fairway.”

Lewis, currently No. 2 on the Rolex Rankings, knows her driver will be the key this week.

“This course, you gotta hit it straight. The tee ball is the most important thing. You have to keep it out of the rough as many times as you can.”

Tournament officials expect the rough to be at least 3.5 inches tomorrow and probably higher when the 2013 Wegmans LPGA Championship begins on Thursday.

No intimidation: The LPGA Tour has been the stage of outstanding performances by young female golfers but on a Tour where youth currently reigns, veteran Cristie Kerr hasn’t blinked twice about the next generation of competition.

“I wouldn't say it's the younger generation,” said Kerr. “I would say I'm motivated by winning.  I love to win.  Getting a win in the beginning of this year has been so huge for me because it had been a couple of years since I had gotten a win in the beginning of the year.  That opens up a whole lot of possibilities for the rest of the year and for the confidence level too.  So I think it's going to be pretty fun.”

Kerr was 32 years old at her last major win at the 2010 Wegmans LPGA Championship, and since then, all 10 major winners were 26 years old or younger.
 
“I love to win, and I think I'm motivated by winning,” said Kerr. “I wish I was motivated by the younger players, but from where I sit, I like the things that I've accomplished, and I've got many more years left, hopefully.”

Ready to play defense: Shanshan Feng feels she’s in perfect form to defend her title this week in New York and is coming off a runner-up finish at last week’s ShopRite LPGA Classic. Feng had a three-shot lead heading into the final round in New Jersey, but couldn’t hold off a surging Karrie Webb on Sunday. Although she didn’t get her second win a week ago, a recent club change has the Chinese player feeling very confident with every swing.

“Well, I changed my clubs,” said Feng. “The last week was the first week I was usually a whole other club, and I think it was working.  My iron shots were really accurate, and my short game was pretty good.  So I would say the clubs helped a lot. 

“It gave me a lot of confidence, because, like I said I've had three other top 10s this year, but the best was seven,” said Feng.  “I never got a chance to get to really close to winning.  Then although I didn't win last week, I would say that my conditions were good, and I think I'm ready.”

Impact of Shanshan’s 2013 Wegmans Win: Plenty of media attention awaited Shanshan Feng when she returned to China for the first time after winning the 2012 Wegmans LPGA Championship. A press conference at the airport, another one in Beijing, and yet another in her hometown of Guangzhou. But it was a special awards ceremony that topped Shanshan’s list of “coolest things about being a major champion.”

“I was named Best Non-Olympic Athlete in China in January,” she said. “I was sitting with so many of the Olympic players in China and I was the first golfer to be nominated. I think the government is paying more attention to golf.”

Quotables: From @Stacy_Lewis about her Golf Digest photoshoot: “My dad wasn’t too thrilled with these pictures,” Lewis said, laughing. “It’s not something I would normally do. I didn’t know if I wanted to say yes, but I think it’s cool and it shows off another side of me.”

From  @CKGolferChic about the Wegmans trophy: “I made a replica of it,” she said. “It sits in my  house, so it looks pretty good.”

From Shanshan Feng, about learning different languages: “I have always loved learning language. A little Korean, a little Japanese, but not Spanish because I can't roll my tongue.”

 

Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 2

MODERATOR:  Thanks, everybody for being here.  Good afternoon, and welcome to the Wegmans LPGA Championship.  My name's Kraig Kann, the chief communications officer for the LPGA.  It is a true honor to have the woman sitting to my right, to your left, No. 2 in the Rolex ranking, No. 1 in Solheim Cup points for the United States, and No. 2 on the money list.  We welcome Stacy Lewis to the media center.  Thanks for being here.
           
Early part of the week, Monday‑Tuesday, we'll get to last week in a second, but what you been doing over the last couple of days.

STACY LEWIS:  Just been practicing.  My game hasn't quite been where I've wanted it, and so I have my coach in town, and we've been working on a few things and just really trying to get back under control my golf swing.

Q.  Was that always the plan to have your coach here or was that on a potential 911 call?
STACY LEWIS:  No, he was planning on coming.  I wanted him out last week, but he couldn't come.  So he came in early, and I needed to ‑‑ I haven't played well really the last couple months.  So I needed to get control of my misses, get just the distance back and we're getting closer.

Q.  You haven't played well the last couple of months, but characteristically you've been in contention in many of those tournaments.  Last week uncharacteristically you fell out of contention.  Can you put a finger on that?  You really feel like you're playing that poorly?
STACY LEWIS:  No, I honestly came off the golf course on Saturday and didn't realize that I had shot 80.  I honestly didn't even feel like I played that poorly.  It's just the conditions were so hard and with one swing you could make a double.  I mean, I had two balls bury in the bunker.  The greens were bumpy, so it was just kind of a lot of things added up to that.  I was just ready to get out of there more than anything.

Q.  Are you feeling pressure to perform?  Is that something that you're dealing with right now in any way?
STACY LEWIS:  No, it's ‑‑ I think I put more pressure on myself.  I don't feel pressure by anybody outside or anything like that.  It's just it's golf.  You go through cycles where you play well; you go through cycles where you don't play well, and you just kind of have to ride it out a little bit.

Q.  Is there any worry that there's a correlation between your average play and all the things that you're doing off the golf course?  Going to baseball games, doing how much more media than you've ever done before?  Going to GWA dinners blasting me?
STACY LEWIS:  That was fun though.

Q.  But I mean is there any worry there?
STACY LEWIS:  No, there's really not.  I feel like now I have a good control of the balance that I need there.  Going to the baseball game last week, that was fun.  I needed to go do that.  I needed to get away from the golf.  I mean, truthfully, Phoenix was probably the busiest week I've had all year and that was the best I've played all year.  So I don't think there is any correlation there.  I'm learning how to say no and how to schedule things better.

Q.  A lot of things have gone well for you for a long time now.  But you're 0 for 8 in your last eight majors.  Does that weigh on you up here?
STACY LEWIS:  A little bit.  I feel like I've had chances.  I've been in contention, so it doesn't really weigh on me that much.  But the U.S. Open weighs on me probably more than anything just because of how poorly I played there.  But I feel like my game is made for majors.  I think it's just kind of a matter of time.  So I'm not really that worried about it.

Q.  Let me follow that up with what you talked about, the Philly Fanatic experience last week at the baseball game and some of the other things.  Since you got to No. 1 in the world and because you are getting media attention from bigger publications and radio and TV, et cetera, what's been the biggest challenge that you've dealt with during that time and maybe the biggest surprise that you didn't even expect?
STACY LEWIS:  I think the challenge is probably just scheduling it all.  That's been the hardest part.  A lot of it has been a little bit outside of my comfort zone.  I don't think going and making a fool of myself on the field with the Fanatic is not really my thing to do, so it's a little bit outside of my comfort zone.  I'm learning to be more comfortable there.
           
I don't know.  I guess it's more the surprise about all the stuff that I have been able to do.  We just had the Golf Digest come out with a pretty big spread in there, and doing the stuff at the baseball game, going to CNN, going to the Masters.  I mean, I've gotten to do a lot of really cool things.  Kind of looking back on it, it's been a pretty cool year so far.

Q.  So you are learning the balance.  Okay.  You brought it up, so let's show everybody.  They can get their copy out there.  I don't know if everybody's seen this.
STACY LEWIS:  A little different side of me.

Q.  Here's the new side of Stacy Lewis.  If you haven't gotten the magazine, get your copy out there.  So here you go.  You haven't read the article yet, have you?
STACY LEWIS:  I have.  I was part of the article.  I helped do the article.

Q.  I know, you were the subject of the interview.  So you got the pre‑copy of it, huh?
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah.

Q.  What do you think about the way you're portrayed?  Is that exciting to you?
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, I mean, my dad wasn't all too thrilled with it, I can tell you that.

Q.  With what?
STACY LEWIS:  These pictures.  But it's really not something that I would normally do.  Golf Digest came to me and said we're going to bring stylists, we're going to bring make‑up, and there are going to be heels and dresses.  I didn't really know if I wanted to say yes to it, but I think it's cool.  It shows off another side of me.  I don't know, I think people will like it.

Q.  Do you feel like the Tour is getting more of that type of attention?  Are you all for that type of, I guess I don't want to say pictorial, but that type of feature?
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, I think some girls want these kind of things and some girls don't.  I wouldn't say necessarily I would go out searching for this, but some of the girls want to do "Sports Illustrated" swimsuit issues and when they want to do those kind of things and the body issue.  But you won't find me doing that anytime soon.  But I think everybody has their own little niche that they like to do.

Q.  In other sports, teams will say it's a good loss.  Is it possible to have a good 80?  You said there were circumstances around it, but is it possible to do that?  You said you weren't feeling good about the way you were playing.
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, I mean, I probably felt like I shot 75.  I didn't feel like I shot 80.  Obviously, it didn't feel good.  More than anything I just wasn't in control of my golf ball.  I didn't know where I was going to miss it, and that was kind of the big thing that we've been working on the last couple of days.  That's ‑‑ when I play my best, I know where the ball's going to go.  Sometimes I'm going to miss it a little right, and it's going to be okay, but there are always rounds where you shoot a pretty good even par or you can shoot a pretty bad even par.  So I mean it's just kind of the way things go.

Q.  I did read the story, and the thing I found most interesting was your reflection on going to Rwanda.  And I wanted to get some of your thoughts on reflecting on it what that was like, and what that means to you on a day‑to‑day basis when you think back?
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, I went, the end of 2010.  I think the big thing that I took away was that playing professional golf, and with the money ‑‑ the better you play, the more you can help other people, and that's what I really took away from it, because I didn't have a purpose for what I was doing out here.  I don't need the money.  I don't play for the money.  I play to win tournaments.  I play to take the trophy home.  That's what I play for.
           
So all this money and stuff was kind of strange to me.  So it gave me this purpose that I can help kids with Scoliosis.  I can help ‑‑ I helped the LPGA Girl's Golf.  I can help the Sandy victims.  We're put on this pedestal where we can go out and help other people, and that's what I took away from it.

Q.  Let me ask you about the people, because you and I spent some time at the Masters before the dinner that night that Steve was alluding to, and we walked around at the par‑3 tournament.  I know that's a few months back.  But I know you were pretty amazed by the number of people that came up to you.  You were No. 1 in the world at that point and a very recognizable figure, and people saying, Hi, Stacy.  Can I get my picture?  And not to tell the whole story, but you were like, wow, this is interesting.  Sometimes not really sure of how you react or act in those situations.  How has that been for you to deal with the people that come and stop you wherever?
STACY LEWIS:  That's honestly probably been the hardest part of the last few months has been the recognition, the attention.  I mean, just today I was on the range for two minutes and there was a camera behind me.  It's just kind of you always have to be on guard.  You always have to be ‑‑ you have to realize there are people around and people watching what you're doing.
           
It's been really hard for me.  Sometimes I want to crawl into a hole and hopefully nobody knows who I am, but you can't do that.  So I'm still trying to adjust to that.

Q.  Do you think that's going to be something over the next couple of years as you continue to evolve?  And I would say that is a decent word for what you're doing right now; you really are evolving in many ways.  Is that something you're really going to have to spend time focusing on?
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, it is.  I was just thinking about my schedule for the next few weeks and we go where I'm thinking, well, I might have a tournament where I might get a break.  We go to Arkansas where it's never a break, and then we're going to the U.S. Open another major.  Then we go to Manulife where people went crazy for me last year.  Then we go to Toledo where I grew up.  Then we go to another major, and then we go to Solheim Cup.
           
So I don't think it's going to slow down soon.  I just have to keep learning.  It's not something that you learn just like that.

Q.  You said you didn't know where your golf ball was going.  It's probably not a good thing to have coming into this week, is it, based on what you've seen out here.
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, this course, you've got to hit it straight.  That is the biggest thing.  Especially the tee ball is the most important thing on this golf course.  You have to stay out of the rough as many times as you can.  The hardest part is last week I played good the first day because it wasn't as windy.  Then as soon as the wind picked up, I had no control of the ball, so that's why the score went up from there.  So I don't think it was that far off.  I think the wind just exaggerated how far off I was.

Q.  You've played here well in the past.  So do you feel good coming in despite what happened last week?  Do you feel good about where your swing is and how you can get around this golf course and stay out of trouble?
STACY LEWIS:  I do.  I really do like this golf course.  A lot of the tee shots set‑up really good for me.  The greens are always fast.  You know you have to be able to hit shots and you have to be able to hit a cut, hit a draw.  It requires more than just let's hit it straight, straight, straight.  So I think ‑‑ I love this golf course.  I play well on it.  For me it's just going to be kind of staying patient, knowing you're going to hit a few in the rough.

Q.  We're going to have Shanshan Feng in a little later today.  I wondered if you could talk a little bit, I don't know if you've gotten to know her at all, a little about your impressions of her personality?  She's the defending champ here, obviously.  Secondly, how do you think it's going to affect women's golf having an LPGA event in China, and just your thoughts about the Tour going into China this year?
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, Shanshan, she's funny.  Her English is kind of broken a little bit, but when she's ‑‑ she's pretty funny.  She'll tell jokes and she laughs a lot.  And she's fun to play with, actually, because you never know what she's going to say.  When she's not playing well, she's pretty honest with you.  Oh, I'm not playing well today.  And she's okay with that and goes about her merry way.
           
But she's been playing great.  She played great last week, and she's getting it going around the majors.  And going to China, we've been working on it for a few years and it was just a matter of time.  Just like Korea, I think the golfers are going to start coming out of China too.  At least we're getting ahead of the game there.  I want to go this year.  I want to go see what it's like.  And I'm sure for Shanshan, it will be a crazy week.

Q.  She is in the midst of a little trend on the LPGA right now.  The last eight major champions are all Asian‑born winners.  You are the last non‑Asian born winner of a major championship in 2011, Kerr and Creamer are also Americans who won majors prior to that.  What's that say about the Tour right now?
STACY LEWIS:  We're global.  I mean, we're global.  That is the nature of our Tour now.  I don't think it's a horrible thing.  I think ‑‑ I just think they're great players.  You look at the list of the winners and they're all great players, so it's not really a surprise.  I don't know.  I'm looking to end that trend.
           
I was surprised when you told me that that I was the last one.  So I don't know.  I'm not surprised by it.

Q.  Am I remembering right that your first event as a pro was a major, right?  U.S. Women's Open; is that correct?
STACY LEWIS:  Yes.

Q.  And then you were a factor in it immediately, And your first victory is a major championship.  Can you give us a little perspective on how majors fit into your priorities and goals?
STACY LEWIS:  I wouldn't say I wanted to win ‑‑ I mean, I want to win tournaments.  Yeah, you want to make the majors, but I just want to win tournaments.  I think more than anything my game sets up for majors.  Hit it pretty straight, hit a lot of greens.  I'm a grinder.  I don't give up.  I think that's what always kind of keeps me in contention is I don't give up out there.
           
I don't know.  I love hard golf courses.  I love the challenge of just maybe a couple under par winning a tournament.  I think that's great.  I hope it's that way this week too.

Q.  Karrie Webb won last week, and she's the only player on the Tour currently playing that's won all five majors available to her during that time.  What do you think about slams and majors and what are your goals in that regard?  I know it's probably win as many as you can, but do you have target goals on those?
STACY LEWIS:  No.

Q.  Really?
STACY LEWIS:  No.  I don't know.  I don't like to do long‑term stuff.  I don't want to say I want to be in the Hall of Fame or I want to win X‑number of tournaments or majors.  I just want to take every day for what it is.  I don't know with my back and everything how long I'm actually going to be able to play, so I don't want to put a timeframe on what I'm doing out here.  I just want to go out there every week and give myself a chance to win.

Q.  I know it's an old story for you, but not for people who see you once in a while, once a year.  You mentioned before that your key is you just don't give up.  Can you talk about the fact that your back condition kind of led you into golf and kind of defined your golf?  How do you look at that and put that into perspective?
STACY LEWIS:  I always say that if I had not gone through what I did as a kid, I would not be doing this right now.  My back and everything I went through made me the person that I am.  It made me want to fight.  It made me have the chip on my shoulder.  It made me want to work hard.
           
I mean, I think no kid in the world should go through what I did.  So, I don't know.  I'm grateful that it happened to me.  But at the time it was pretty bad.  But looking back, it was just a few years of my life, and I've got a lot more ahead of me.

Q.  Obviously, when you're No. 1, that carries a cache.  What about just being the top American?  Does something come with that?  Do you sense it when you're around like Cristie Kerr that you have something she wants?  Is there a sense of that?
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, I know that ‑‑ I know Kerr and Paula, they want the spot that I'm in.  They want to be the top American too.  I think it's good that we're competitive.  We need to be competitive with each other.  What's come along with that has been all the extra stuff.  I think being the top American, whether you're No. 1 in the world or not, you're going to have a lot of responsibilities.  I'm okay with that.  I don't mind it.  I'm growing into that role, and I want kids to go to college and go and get their degrees, and then come out and do this.
           
It's just to show people you don't have to turn pro at 18.  You can turn pro at 23 and still become No. 1 in the world.

Q.  I know you've reached out to Hall of Fame players, players that are really experienced about how to deal with the fame.  But some people just naturally love the camera.  They want that camera to be there a minute after they get there, and other people it took that I am long time and somebody that had to grow into that.  I wonder if you talk to people about that?  Sort of that natural ‑‑ you might have a little bit of an aversion of people coming right up to you.  Maybe advice for other players who are more introverted have helped you maybe with that?
STACY LEWIS:  I mean, I've definitely asked a lot of people about it.  I was actually ‑‑ I did Feherty's show, and we were sitting in the airport and somebody came up to him and said, "I love your show."  And his response was, "Well, why wouldn't you?"  And it was like I need to come up with a line like that.  I was like, I don't know if I can pull that off though.
           
I talked to him about it, I've talked to other players about it, and there is really no one secret to it.  Everybody's different.  Like you said, some people love that attention, and some people don't.  I mean, I don't play good golf so I have to do an interview or have a camera in my face afterwards.  That's not why I do it.  That just kind of comes along with the territory.  So it's more learning how to be flexible and adapt to it.

Q.  I think it was at the Player of the Year ceremony last year when you said a real pivotal point for you was when you talked to your dad about just being your dad, not your coach or anything.  Can you expand on that and what that did for you?
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, it was.  It was in Hawaii last year.  So just over a year ago.  My dad had to step in and caddie for me because my caddie had a death in the family.  So it was a conversation that needed to happen.  He was still traveling quite a bit with me and being pretty involved.  It showed me that ‑‑ we sat down and talked and I said, Dad, you need to take a step back.  I don't want to be my manager.  I don't want you to be my swing coach.  I don't want you to be my caddie.  I just want you to be my dad.  I want you to be there to give me a hug when I'm done whether I won or I lost, and that was all I wanted from him.  And since we had that talk, it's been great.  He's just been dad.
           
He doesn't need to be anything else, and he's coming out this week.  He loves the majors.  It's important to have everything off the golf course kind of in its place, so when you're out there you can free yourself up.

Q.  Last thing before we let you go.  Mickey Wright, Whitworth, Lopez, Sheehan, Sorenstam have all won this event, the LPGA Championship.  What would it mean to you to have this at the end of the week?
STACY LEWIS:  It would mean a lot.  Anytime you win a major you're going to be included on a pretty special list.  And just to win ‑‑ this is the LPGA's major.  This is not anybody else's.  This is ours.  So to win this and keep it in the U.S. would be pretty nice.

 

Cristie Kerr, Rolex Rankings No. 11

Q.        Welcome once again to the media center here at the Wegmans LPGA Championship.  16‑time winner, 11th in the Rolex Rankings and recent winner in Kingsmill, say hello to a past champion in this event as well, Cristie Kerr.  Does it seem like just yesterday that you won this event and you won it in huge, dramatic fashion, too?  You pretty much blew the field away.
CRISTIE KERR:  Yeah, it doesn't seem like so far ago that it happened, for sure.  Especially when you come back and you see the golf course and the condition that it's in.

Q.  You look at this trophy and what does it do to you?
CRISTIE KERR:  I mean, it excites me.  This is one of our majors that we play for, there is so much history, rich history, great past winners.  I actually made a replica of it and it sits in my house so it looks familiar.

Q.  There you go.  That's pretty good.  Then you probably have a lot of replicas in your house, 16 of them.  Let's talk about your play.  Maybe pre‑Kingsmill and then post, because you've been very consistent since.  Was there a light bulb, a switch, something happen?  Did you feel like you were playing well before you won at Kingsmill or has something changed?
CRISTIE KERR:  I did feel like I was playing well before Kingsmill, and I've been able to have some consistent play since, and second round last week played really, really difficult.  You could see by the scores just how difficult it was playing, and then I had a great Sunday last week.  So, yeah, I feel like I'm just kind of plodding along and hopefully I'll get myself in contention again.

Q.  How is Cristie Kerr different today in 2013 than you were, perhaps, five years ago as a player, as a person, et cetera?
CRISTIE KERR:  I think I'm not only older, but I would say wiser and more patient.  It's just as time goes on, you learn a lot about yourself and about the game.  I'm not as ‑‑ I think I'm not as bothered by some bad play as I used to be in the past.  I just sort of kind of keep my head down and keep going, and turn it around and play better.

Q.  I want to ask you about the American side, kind of following up what Stacy said about sitting in this chair.  You were No. 1 once upon a time.  So you've been at the top where everybody wanted to knock you off and you were the target.  Not only for Americans but for everybody else on the Tour.  Where's the Tour right now?  Eight consecutive Asian‑born winners of majors, Stacy is No. 1 among Americans, who do you have to beat today on this Tour?
CRISTIE KERR:  Well, you have to beat everybody.  If you want to be number one, you have to beat everybody.  But I said this before, if you look at the number of Americans that have played ten events or more on our Tour ten years ago versus now, you'll see a dramatic difference in statistics.  We do have a lot of great Asians on our Tour and they have the numbers.  So you're seeing ‑‑ that's why you're seeing a lot of Asians win majors.  It would be huge for the Americans to be able to pick off a couple of majors for the rest of the year.

Q.  I did see you play the practice round this morning; how difficult is the course, and especially the rough?
CRISTIE KERR:  All you've got to do is go walk around in it, go walk around the tenth hole and the first hole and you'll see.  When I won in 2010, the rough was really, really bad, but you could get lucky and have a lie where you could advance it or get it on the green; not this year.  You're not going to get lucky at all.  The rough is a lot worse than even in 2010 when everybody was talking about it there.  I was putting on the green with Karine Icher and said, What do you think about the rough this weekend?  She said, It's like a water hazard on the side of the fairway, and it really is because you really can't advance more than an 8‑ or a 9‑iron out.
           
The golf course is playing long and playing tough.  The greens are as perfect as I've ever seen them, And the golf course is in splendid shape.  I think they've brought in some of the fairways even tighter, and they want it to play like a major and it's going to play like a major.

Q.  If you were looking for tough and mental challenges the last couple of weeks would be that.  you should be prepared in that regard?
CRISTIE KERR:  Definitely.

Q.  Does what happened in 2010 in any way help you this week?
CRISTIE KERR:  I think it does.  I played the back today and then I just walked around and chipped and putt the other nine because you don't get to do that so much in the Pro‑Am.  Tomorrow I think that 2010, knowing as difficult as it played and knowing as difficult as it's going to play this time, I think there is no room for mental errors.  I think sometimes that's when I'm at my best when I don't have a choice.  I just have to do it.  I don't get a choice whether to glance off target.  You have to be in your target this week and not see anything else.  For me, if given no choice, I'm better.  I do it better when I'm like that, so I think I like the way it's playing this week.

Q.  You've never shied away from any kind of competition.  So we hear Stacy talk about being that No. 1 player.  How do you look at that in terms of competitiveness, demeanor on the course?  You play together in Solheim Cup, especially with the American players, do you deal with it just your own way?  Do you see the way other players deal with it?  The way people would maybe act on a course.
CRISTIE KERR:  I'm not really sure what you're asking me.

Q.  I guess how do you differentiate between friendliness like you have there and then competitiveness once you get on the course to win?
CRISTIE KERR:  When it's on the course, it's all business.  Doesn't matter how friendly you are with the person that's next to you, in my opinion.  You're definitely obviously cordial, but I get into my own game.  I do my own thing, and I always have.  I just love competition.  I always have.  I'm a terrible social golfer.  I am.  I'm horrible.  This is the kind of stuff that I strive for.  I live for this kind of competition.

Q.  Let's talk about the social golf.  You can't go play with your husband, don't like playing with friends?  Do you get too competitive out there?
CRISTIE KERR:  No, I just can't focus.  I'm kind of one of those people that are built for competition.  I need the nerves.  I need the butterflies in your stomach.  I need that look in my eye to play well.  I'm terrible when I have to go and just practice or even practice rounds.

Q.  So what are you going to do when you hang it up some day?
CRISTIE KERR:  I won't play.

Q.  Really?
CRISTIE KERR:  No, I won't.  I'm not the kind that would play.  You see it with Annika.  Annika doesn't play that much anymore.  I saw her down in the Bahamas and just enjoying her kids and all that stuff.  She doesn't play.  I don't think that I would play either, not unless I had a couple of drinks on the course or something.

Q.  We'll get to that in just a second.  Can you size up how you think you're playing, and do you feel you're prepared to tackle what you saw out there today?
CRISTIE KERR:  I think I am.  I think I'm putting in the work.  Mentally I feel like I'm in a good place, and that's all you can really hope for when you tee it up.  Then the rest is up to you to really do what you're trained to do.  So I feel like I'm ready.

Q.  Do you ever forget what happened here a couple years ago, the way you won that golf tournament?
CRISTIE KERR:  No.

Q.  Was that maybe the highlight of your career the way you won that tournament?
CRISTIE KERR:  I think so.  But I've always said I wanted to win a tournament by 15, so that goal is still out there.  You can't put limits on yourself if you want to be at the highest level of your sport.  That's what Tiger would say if he was sitting here.

Q.  When Stacy was in here a little earlier, she said she doesn't have those goals like I want to win this number of majors or I want to do this.  She tends to take it more day by day, but other golfers are very different.  They have those hard number goals.  Are you more the hard‑number goal type person?
CRISTIE KERR:  I mean, I would say rough estimate goal because you never know what's going to happen.  But, yeah.  If you had asked Tiger before he ever won an Open if he was going to win an open, he would have told you he would have won by at least ten shots.  It's not cocky to say that if you have the talent to be able to back it up.
           
I mean, why not set those goals for yourself?  It's better than saying I want to be a horrible golfer the rest of my life and I never want to accomplish anything (laughing).

Q.  Follow up on your whole competitiveness; when did you first see that in yourself?  How does it evolve, and where does this come from that you wanted to do this?  You wanted to be like this and do this for the rest of your life?
CRISTIE KERR:  Honestly, I've had it as long as I can remember.  I mean, I knew I didn't want to be a ‑‑ what is it?  A ballet star, a ballerina.  I couldn't get the tutu on.  But when it came to golf, I picked it up and I just had that thing, that thing that you can't describe to people.
           
And people always ask me, and my husband asked me many years ago, how did you know you wanted to do this?  And I said I've always just known.  I mean, you're called to things sometimes, and definitely with me, I have been.

Q.  Are you motivated by the younger generation coming out here to try to take down somebody that's been out here for longer periods of time?  I remember seeing you at the Kraft this year and I joked with you about going to the whip on yourself and hitting yourself saying, let's go, let's get this thing going.  Are you motivated by the young generation?
CRISTIE KERR:  I wouldn't say it's the younger generation.  I would say I'm motivated by winning.  I love to win.  Getting a win in the beginning of this year has been so huge for me because it had been a couple of years since I had gotten a win in the beginning of the year.  That opens up a whole lot of possibilities for the rest of the year and for the confidence level too.  So I think it's going to be pretty fun.
           
I love to win, and I think I'm motivated by winning.  I wish I was motivated by the younger players, but from where I sit, I like the things that I've accomplished, and I've got many more years left, hopefully.

Q.  The history of majors in the women's game, it's not as longstanding as the men's game.  The two majors, the names of them have changed overtime.  Can you give us some perspective of how that's changed since you've joined the Tour?  How important majors are now especially with five of them this year?
CRISTIE KERR:  Well, I think especially from a prestige standpoint and money standpoint, it's a dramatic difference from our everyday, average tournament.  So you want to win the majors, because if you win the major, it's almost like winning two tournaments on our Tour from a prestige and money standpoint and for what it does for your career.  So it's a huge discrepancy versus the men's TOUR.
           
We have changed our numbers of majors to five, but I think that our landscape is so different from the men's Tour because we need our sponsors to keep going.  We need the Evians of the world, we need the Wegmans of the world to really lift our Tour up, and they've done a very good job at that.
           
I think that we want to be different.  So adding a fifth major this year is going to be a very good thing for us.

Q.  The future of this major here remains in doubt, just like it was last year.  Any thoughts on moving forward?  And if this thing does not come back here, obviously you've got great memories here.  Just talk about the possibility of this major not being here in the future?
CRISTIE KERR:  Wow, I wouldn't even want to think about it.  The LPGA Championship has got such great history.  The tournament here of over 35 years with the Wegmans family has had such great history as well.  So I don't really know what would happen in the future.  I try not to think about that because my job is to play golf and perform and try to help our Tour as best as I can and in my own way, but it would be a shame.

Q.  Let me get back to the topic of beverages that you brought up, and I bring that up from the aspect of you being a business woman and having the interests in wine and Curvature being the company that is yours and also the off‑course stuff.  We talked to Stacy about it.  She said she's evolving and things are coming her way.  How have you balanced that?  Because you are not just a great golfer, one of the best in the world, but you are a business woman and you are a philanthropist and you do great things for people, charities, et cetera?  How do you balance that?  Has that become more difficult as you've been on Tour longer or is it a positive distraction for you?
CRISTIE KERR:  I think it's a positive distraction for me, and thank you for bringing it up.  Golf can be all‑consuming.  I do my best when I'm at the course, I focus on my golf, and then I have other things to focus on.  When golf becomes your world off of the golf course, the thing for me that becomes a problem, so these for me have been great distractions for me.
           
It's fun.  I do love business.  I love starting new things.  My husband and I love the companies that we're involved in.  We also own part of a vodka company, which is called Doublecross Vodka, which is winning all the taste test awards around the world, and our wine company, Curvature, which we don't make any profit on.  So that and the philanthropic things that we do are great distractions.
           
They can be a little overwhelming at times, but my husband's company, Madison Green, is growing as well.  There are a number of different people that work for us now, and we're growing.  So also setting up things for after golf so that the golf doesn't become such a pressure center.  It becomes this is what I love to do.  I do it.  There is no pressure to make a certain amount of money because we have other business interests, so it helps each other like that.

Q.  Meg Mallon's going to be in here later this week.  You talked about the competitive nature and wanting to win.  Solheim Cup, you're right there at the top of the points with Stacy Lewis, and I know you mean a lot to the American side.  Where's your mindset?
CRISTIE KERR:  (Indiscernible).

Q.  I just thought I'd ask you about the photo you posted yesterday where you said finally I'm as big as Michelle.  The picture of you on the side of the Hampton Jitney bus, have you seen that photo?  What's that feel like?
CRISTIE KERR:  Oh, it has to do with the U.S. Open.  It was more like a joke, kind of said in jest because she's such a media sensation and she's a star on our Tour.  I've always kind of ‑‑ what is the word?  Been in this ‑‑ not in the shadows, but not so like in the limelight like maybe she's been, but that's not my personality either.  So it's great.  It was kind of said in jest.

Q.  Well, what's it feel like to have yourself and see yourself as half of a bus, your picture much larger than life?
CRISTIE KERR:  Yeah, as long as it's not my previous pictures, then I'm fine with it, of my heavier days.  No, it's all fun.  Michelle even came up to me and said that was a nice picture, good going.  It was funny.  It was just a funny thing.

 

Shanshan Feng, Rolex Rankings No. 7 & defending champion

MODERATOR:  Good afternoon, once again, welcome to the media center here at the Wegmans LPGA major championship for the LPGA this week.  It is a true pleasure to welcome in the defending champion, Shanshan Feng, No. 7 in the Rolex Rankings, and a winner here last year.  You remember that trophy, I bet, a two‑shot victory.  What do you think when you see that trophy?
SHANSHAN FENG:  Well, I'm actually I see my name on it right now because last year when I saw it, it didn't have my name on it.  I did ask for a copy, but then they said maybe not.  So I said okay.  But I'm still happy to see my name on there.

MODERATOR:  :  Yeah, it's got to look nice to have your name on there with some of the stars of the history of this event.  Mickey Wright, Kathy Whitworth ‑‑ I rattled off some of the names ‑‑ Nancy Lopez.  What does it mean for you to be part of those type of names?
SHANSHAN FENG:  That was my first LPGA victory, and it was a major, so I didn't expect it.  And I feel really honored to have my name on the trophy.  I'm really excited about this week because last week I had a good finish, and I think I'm ready for this week.

Q.  What in the big picture, Shanshan, did last year's win here do for you?  You were the first for mainland China to win on the LPGA, let alone win a major championship.  How did life change for you?
SHANSHAN FENG:  Well, I can't believe it's been a year already.  It felt like it was just maybe last month.  I would say that my life hasn't been really changed, because golf is getting more and more popular, but not as popular as the other sports.  But I would say that I was named the best non‑Olympic athlete last year of China because golf wasn't in the Olympics last year.  Now golf for sure is going to change a couple things.

MODERATOR:  :  A lot of people don't know what it was like when you went home for the first time and when you got off the airplane.  Can you tell us what that scene was like and what that experience was for the next few days?
SHANSHAN FENG:  Well, yeah, it did feel like I was a star.  Because when I arrived at the airport there were many fans and media that were waiting for me there, and we had interviews then I had press conferences in Beijing, and my hometown of Guangzhou.  We were trying to make it a big deal.

Q.  Was it hard to deal with all of that media or was it something that you really enjoyed?
SHANSHAN FENG:  I think I really enjoyed it because I was happy to see the media as we saw.  There weren't only media for golf; there were some media maybe just for life or for sports.  I was really happy because people didn't know much about golf in China, so we had a great chance to promote it, actually.

Q.  Last week you had a great finish.  It was your best finish of the year thus far.  You've had some top 10, but you were right in the hunt there last week.  Good time to be playing well.  What's been the difference for you?
SHANSHAN FENG:  Well, I changed my clubs.  The last week was the first week I was usually a whole other club, and I think it was working.  My iron shots were really accurate, and my short game was pretty good.  So I would say the clubs helped a lot.  It gave me a lot of confidence, because, like I said I've had three other top 10s this year, but the best was seven.  I never got a chance to get to really close to winning.  Then although I didn't win last week, I would say that my conditions were good, and I think I'm ready.

Q.  What difference did the change of club make for you?  It's a very hot topic on the PGA TOUR this year with Rory McIlroy and his change of clubs.  Sometimes it can affect a player in a negative way.  How did it help you?
SHANSHAN FENG:  Well, before, actually, before I was using the Elord club, I was using Honma clubs so it's not like it's a new brand for me.  I used them before for my first and second year on the TOUR.  So I've always liked their clubs.  I think, actually with the new irons I have a little different shape of club head.  I think it helps me to get to the ball easier maybe in the rough.  I think that's what helped the most.

Q.  I was wondering if you could say what is the most fun thing in the last year that you got to do maybe because you won the major?  Also, if you could talk about what it's going to be like to have an LPGA event in China this year?
SHANSHAN FENG:  Yeah, I was named the best non‑Olympic athlete last year, and actually the presentation was in January this year, and then I was there.  Actually, I think everybody knows, I think ‑‑ a swimmer.

Q.  His name?  I don't know.
SHANSHAN FENG:  (No microphone).
           
Because we were able to play well nationwide.  I would say the LPGA in Beijing, I'm really looking forward to going.  I mean, it's Beijing.  Come on.
           
I think I haven't been in Beijing for, I don't know, maybe three or four years, maybe, and I really miss the Beijing duck.  Trust me, the Beijing duck in Beijing is the real one.  The ones here are maybe a little American style, so wait until you try the real ones.
           
And the course, I've only played once there when I was maybe 11 or 12, so I don't really remember it.  I believe it will be in really good shape.  And the CCTV is the main sports channel for China, and I think every day it's going to be on live, so I think that's the big thing.

Q.  I know a couple years ago when we went to Taiwan for the first time with Yani, it was an unbelievable scene.  Do you expect it will be the same for you?  Are we going to need police escorts for you wherever we go?  What will it be like do you think?
SHANSHAN FENG:  Well, no, I don't think so.  Yani's like a rock star in Taiwan.  It's like Ai Miyazato in Japan.  Me, in China, well, I think I still can have a hamburger in my hand and a Coke in my hand and eat on the street and nobody would recognize me.
           
But, of course, after we play better and better, of course more and more people will recognize us.

Q.  Stacy Lewis said you're funny on the course.  You like to tell jokes.  You are honest about your game.  Did it take you a while out here to be comfortable being with the other players like that or have you always been like that?
SHANSHAN FENG:  I think I'm always a very lucky girl.  My first year on Tour I was 18, so I was younger than everybody else, but everybody treats me really nicely.  They made me feel like I'm at home.  It's like a big family.  Then they taught me a lot.  Although, my first year I missed like nine cuts in the first ten tournaments, I think, so it wasn't a great start.  But then because of all the help, I got through the toughness, and I started to play well, and then I started to feel more and more comfortable.  And I think my English got a little better too.

Q.  I was just going to ask you.  I was sitting here listening to you thinking exactly that.  There are so many people that don't realize the Asian‑born players on the LPGA how hard they work, you all work, at learning the English language.  How important has that been for you?  Was that a priority that I have to get better?
SHANSHAN FENG:  Well, I mean, we have to study English at school.  I would say it was mostly just like grammar or writing, but speaking is always the weak part.  I think the first year, I think ‑‑ it took me half a year for me to get used to it.  I've always loved learning languages.  So now I'm learning English, and I've learned a little Korean and a little Japanese.  Not Spanish yet, because I can't really roll my tongue so I can't do it.

Q.  Can you just talk about the golf course?  Did it look different than it looked last year?  What are your impressions on how you see it so far this year?
SHANSHAN FENG:  I just played nine holes before I came in.  I think the narrows are ‑‑ the fairways are just as narrow.  The greens are actually maybe a little faster, I would say, and the rough is really, really thick, because this is only Tuesday, but I think as long as last year for the weekend already.  So I'm expecting to stay on the fairways, if anything.  And the scores won't be too low, I don't think.

Q.  Do you want them to cut that rough?  Would you like them to cut the rough down or do you think that helps you?
SHANSHAN FENG:  I think it helps me because that would give us more challenge.  Last year the reason I won was the final day I hit 17 fairways, and the only one that I missed the fairway, I made a birdie.  So I think that was why I won, so the longer, the better.

Q.  When you came back, did you have any flashbacks from last year?  Any memories when you came back yesterday or today?  Did you think back to last year?  What did you recall?
SHANSHAN FENG:  Yeah, I did.  I played the back nine today.  When I was on the 18th hole, I remember my little putt for winning.  I still remember it last year.  That was my first time to look at the scoreboard, the leaderboard, and I was leading by two and I had two downhill, left‑to‑right putts for par and maybe for the win.  I was really, really nervous.  Then I thought about I.K.'s putt at Kraft last year.  I was like I don't want to be the second I.K.  I've worked so hard here; I don't want to waste it all.  I have to make it, so I made it.  I still remember it.

Q.  You are 7th, as I said, in the Rolex Rankings.  If you look at the top 10 right now, there are seven different countries that are represented in the top 10.  Obviously Inbee No. 1, and Stacy No. 2.  But we've got Suzann Pettersen in the mix, and Ai Miyazato, you mentioned her name already, and we could go down the list with Yani.  But what does that say about the TOUR in your mind?  Do you enjoy that part of the TOUR that there are so many different countries, and what are your goals is number 1 something you always think of?  Have you told Inbee you want to knock her right off?
SHANSHAN FENG:  Well, are we filming that (laughing)?  Well, I would say I'm really enjoying it, because like I said earlier, I enjoy learning languages.  So I do hear many different languages.  I know a little Korean and Japanese.  So when they talk, actually, I can pick something up and I will feel happy.  Maybe I heard some secrets.  Maybe some secrets.  Then ‑‑ what was the second part?

Q.  You want to go get Inbee?
SHANSHAN FENG:  Oh, I totally forgot it.  I don't usually ‑‑ when I set goals, I don't really set numbers.  Like I want to be No. 10, I want to be No. 5 or No. 1.  When I set goals I actually just try my best.  I actually look for somebody instead of like a number.
           
So Yani has been my target the whole career, because we are the same age and we've known each other since we were 13.  So she was always ahead.  Now I'm getting closer and closer, but still I haven't caught her yet.  Well, I'm still trying.

Q.  We're still filming by the way.
SHANSHAN FENG:  Oh, I told everybody.  Even she knows.  It's okay.  Yani knows.  But we're really good friends, but a target, it means like my goal.  Like somebody that I want to catch up, but not like I want to beat her down.

Q.  I imagine you watched at least some of the men's Masters this year and your own countrymen.  Just want to get your thoughts on him and how he did.  And really, what is the feeling about the Olympics in your country and what impact is that making on the people playing golf?
SHANSHAN FENG:  Well, yeah, I did watch the Masters because I think that week ‑‑ that was our off week, actually.  I did watch the final day in Hawaii.  I took that day off.  Just to give myself an excuse to take that day off.  I was watching, and I watched Tianlang who did really, really well.  I think he's just amazing.
           
We are from the same hometown.  I watched him when he started playing golf, so it's just amazing that now he's playing that well.  I'm happy to see that happen, too, because now we have so many young, good players that are coming up, not only ladies, but also boys.
           
So I think maybe not 2016, but maybe 2020 or in the future, I think golf in China will become one of the most competitive countries in golf.

Q.  Do you feel like next year at the International Crown event at Caves Valley that China's going to be tough to beat?  Do you think you'll get into the mix?
SHANSHAN FENG:  The first question is are we in?  Like by the ranking last year, we weren't.

Q.  You've got a little work to do.
SHANSHAN FENG:  Well, it's not only about myself.

Q.  Right.
SHANSHAN FENG:  But I'm happy to know that our Chinese Tour starting this year is involved with the world ranking system.  So the Chinese, if they play in China, then they can actually gain world points, and then they'll improve their ranking.  So I really want to play the international crown.  Yes, I really want to play.

Q.  My final question, and I have to ask you this:  You didn't always want to be a golfer.  You wanted to be a singer, correct?  Is that the story?
SHANSHAN FENG:  That's really, really little though.

Q.  How little?  Did you sing a lot?
SHANSHAN FENG:  Maybe 9, 10.  I mean, I still like singing, but I really like karaoke.

Q.  Karaoke?
SHANSHAN FENG:  Yeah, but I'm not really good at it.  I just enjoy it.  So usually I don't invite too many people because, well, I don't sing that well.

Q.  Well, maybe you'll be singing a victory tune again this week.
SHANSHAN FENG:  Okay.

 

 

 

Topics: Notes and Interviews, Feng, Shanshan, Kerr, Cristie, Lewis, Stacy, KPMG Women's PGA Championship [+]

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