2013 Marathon Classic Presented by Owens Corning and O-I First Round Notes and Interviews

Alison Walshe
Photo Credit: Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Alison Walshe smiles after finishing her round on the ninth hole during round one of the Marathon Classic presented by Owens Corning & O-I at Highland Meadows Golf Club on July 18, 2013 in Sylvania, Ohio.

Marathon Classic Presented by Owings Corning & O-I
Highland Meadows Golf Club
Sylvania, Ohio
First-Round Notes and Interviews
July 18, 2013

Alison Walshe -6, Rolex Rankings No. 90
Paula Creamer -5, Rolex Rankings No. 14
Lexi Thompson -5, Rolex Rankings No. 28
Jessica Shepley -5, Rolex Rankings No. 420
Inbee Park -4, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Natalie Gulbis -3, Rolex Rankings No. 123

Rolex Rankings No. 90 Alison Walshe fired a career-low, 6-under 65 on Thursday to take the first-round lead at the Marathon Classic Presented by Owings Corning & O-I. Walshe’s previous-best round was a 66, which she shot on four separate occasions - most recently in the third round of the 2013 Mobile Bay LPGA Classic.

Walshe leads a group of three players by one shot which includes Americans Paula Creamer and Lexi Thompson and Canada’s Jessica Shepley, who sit in a tie for second at 5-under-par. Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park is two shots off the lead in a tie for fifth after an opening-round, 4-under 67.

The hot weather didn’t seem to affect scores on Thursday. Temperatures hit the mid-90s in the Toledo-area with the heat index reaching triple digits during the mid-part of the day. Caddies were given the option to not wear their caddie bibs due to the intense heat during the first round. Still, players like Walshe, who is based in the Jupiter, Fla. area, didn’t seem to be affected too much by the heat.

“I've been hitting it probably the best I've hit it in a long time this year,” said Walshe. “I've been giving myself a lot of opportunities, and it's frustrating that I haven't been able to really go deep and make some putts. So I think, like I said, the putting was key, and I think that's going to be key for me to really get the rounds going well.”

With her 65, Walshe also bested her lowest first-round score by two shots. She opened with a 67 twice before, most recently at the 2012 Safeway Classic. The Westford, Mass. native started her round on Thursday with a bogey on the par 4 10th but recovered quickly as she recorded five of her eight birdies in her first nine holes.

“Actually, coincidentally I 3‑putted the first hole and I was like, ‘Here we go again,’” said Walshe. “Then 1‑putted the next hole and got my confidence going.  Made a lot of putts today, so that was pretty key.”

It is the first time that Walshe has held the first-round lead in an LPGA Tour event since joining the Tour in 2010.

Paula Creamer, who won the Toledo-based event in 2008, said she had a sense of confidence walking onto the course on Thursday. Creamer’s first-round 66 was her lowest opening round at Highland Meadows Golf Club since she shot a career-low 60 in the first round of the 2008 event which she won.

“It was good, obviously winning at a golf course is huge,” said Creamer. “Having my career‑low round here is also a positive.  Definitely gives you a little bit more confidence in that sense.

“But I been starting to play well. Last week I hit the ball great; just couldn't really make any putts; couldn't see the greens. This week I have been hitting the ball really well and I can actually see these greens a little bit better. So hopefully make some more birdies tomorrow and then have a good weekend.”

Defending champion So Yeon Ryu opened up this year’s event with a 3-under 68 and sits three shots back of the leader, Walshe.

Let them fall! First-round leader Alison Walshe feels like she has been on the verge of a breakthrough. But she feels it’s been her work on the greens that has been holding her back.

“I've been hitting it probably the best I've hit it in a long time this year,” said Walshe. “I've been giving myself a lot of opportunities, and it's frustrating that I haven't been able to really go deep and make some putts. That's kind of what was frustrating about last week.  I was hitting it too good to not really convert all those putts.”

On paper, Walshe’s putting doesn’t jump out as the Achilles’ heel of her game but it’s something she has devoted a lot of attention to recently. She ranks in the top 20 on Tour in both putting statistics: 14th in putts per greens in regulation (1.778) and 18th in putting average (29.35). She finished with 23 putts on in Thursday’s first round.

“I spoke with an instructor, Joe Hallet on some putting,” said Walshe. “I have another coach for my swing.  He's out here this week, and we actually did a lot of work this week. He looked at it and just put some extra thoughts in my head, and obviously it paid off.”

Walshe thought she may have been heading down the same road of putting woes on Thursday after three-putting on No. 10, her first hole of the day.

“I think the difference for me today was definitely my putting,” said Walshe. “I had struggled on it last week and came out here and did a lot of work on it.  Actually coincidentally I 3‑putted the first hole and I was like, Here we go again. Then 1‑putted the next hole and got my confidence going.  Made a lot of putts today, so that was pretty key.

“We actually did an article yesterday for somebody on putting coincidentally,” said Walshe. “So we got to grind on that a bit.  We were doing some work for an article that's going to be coming out on putting.  Stuff that he went over with me a few months back ‑‑  and my putting has improved ‑ so we got to work on it the last couple days.”

Home Sweet Toledo? Paula Creamer is no stranger to having success at Highland Meadows Golf Club. The 26-year-old has played in this tournament in Toledo a total of seven times previously and three times she has finished in the top 5, which includes her victory in 2008.

So perhaps it was no surprise to see Creamer get off to such a hot start in Thursday’s first round of the Marathon Classic Presented by Owens Corning and O-I. She fired a 5-under 66, which marked her second-lowest opening round at this tournament. She shot her career low, 60, in the first round in 2008 when she went on to win the tournament.

“Trying to get my right foot on the gas pedal out here,” Creamer said. “You can make lots of birdies, but you can't put too much pressure on yourself or you don't compete where you want to be.  But at the same time, I love coming here.  This golf course just suits my eye really well.”

Creamer has always enjoyed the Toledo-area, in large part due to the tremendous fan support that the LPGA receives at this event.

“I love coming back to Toledo,” Creamer said. “It's a great golf course and the fans here are awesome.”

Start me up: Getting off to a strong start has been a bit of a struggle for Rolex Rankings No. 28 Lexi Thompson so far this year but she fired off a first round 66 at Highland Meadows for only her third first round in the 60s of the season.

“It's been kind of a struggle with me.  I've started off with first round even pars and been so far back, like six or seven back after the first day,” Thompson said. “So getting a 5‑under is very important.  Just going to go out tomorrow with the same attitude and hopefully shoot the same.”

It looked like more of the same for Thompson on the first two holes with back-to-back bogeys but she recovered nicely with back-to-back birdies on holes 3 and 4.

“I started off pretty bad…missed a few putts in the beginning.  I just tried not worry about it too much,” Thompson said.  “I know there are a lot of birdie chances out here, so I just let it go and hit a few good shots coming in and then went for the last few par‑5s and made birdies.”

Thompson’s length off the tee helped her take advantage of the par 5’s and closed out her round birdie-birdie on Nos. 17 and 18.

The Florida native hadn’t had a start in the 60’s since May at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic, when she shot a first-round 65 and finished T10.  Despite it being her first time playing at Highland Meadows Golf Club this week, Thompson has found her stride her in Sylvania and feels comfortable on the course.

“I've heard nothing but great things about the Marathon Classic and just Toledo overall.  The fans love it,” Thompson said.  “I'm so very happy to be here and get to experience this and hopefully come back.”

The course so far has been a perfect fit for Thompson, who is one of the harder hitters on the tour. She averaged 269 yards off the tee on Thursday which ranked 8th in the field for the first round.

“I feel like the par‑5s out here are definitely an advantage,” Thompson said.  “I can hit my driver then go for the hole.”

Hot in here: Players have been battling the heat wave that has hit the Toledo area all week but had to take extra precautionary steps to keep as cool as possible in the high temperatures that reached 93 degrees with a heat index of 103.

Yeah, it was hot.  It was very hot,” said Jessica Shepley.  “But it didn't affect the ball too much.  Probably affected us more.  Just trying stay cool was the goal.”

Shepley said she thinks she and her fellow players in the morning wave had the advantage in terms of playing conditions.

“I think it's important to play well for the morning round,” said Shepley. “It's so hot out there.  Just even warming up in the heat is going to be a little bit more difficult for the afternoon rounds, which we'll play tomorrow.”

First-round leader Alison Walshe agreed and said she’s glad she won’t have to do the quick turnaround those in the afternoon wave will have Thursday night.

“We're going to get it in the afternoon tomorrow,” said Walshe. “But I did say I kind of like my draw being the morning today and afternoon.  Normally I don't like this flip flop, but at least I can rest this afternoon.  I think it would be kind of a grind to sweat out there all afternoon, go to bed, and go out there and do it all over the next day. But it's hot.  At 7:00 in morning I was sweating and I'm sweating now and it's 3:00.”

Who’s that on the leaderboard, eh? Jessica Shepley hasn’t been a familiar face so far this year on the LPGA Tour, let alone the leaderboard but she made her presence felt in Sylvania when she shot a 5-under 66 in the first-round, good for a tie for second.

“I got off to a solid start and I also finished well, so that's all I can really ask for,” Shepley said.  “I gave myself lots of opportunities to make birdies and put myself in a good place for tomorrow.  Lots of golf left, though.”

Shelpley has only made five starts on the Tour leading up to the Marathon Classic Presented by Owens Corning & O-I but she hasn’t been sitting around twiddling her thumbs.

“I played a couple smaller events up in Canada and had some good results,” Shepley said.  “I’ve been working hard and working on my swing a lot.  I am trying to stay patient, so I was hoping one of these rounds would come soon.”

Being in this position is new for Jessica, who had yet to break into the 60s during a single round on Tour.

“I haven't really been in this position before,” Shepley said.  “I have to do it once, right, to get comfortable out here and to keep growing.  So I'm happy with my round today.”

Shepley attributes the improvements in her game to the work she has been doing with instructor Tony Bigler. The two have made some swing changes and have concentrated on breaking bad habits.

‘“We have been making some changes.  For me, it's catching things I start to do on a golf course as the round wears on a little bit,” Shepley said. “I caught a couple of my older tendencies and was able to kind of make a correction.  I hit some good irons on the back side.  So I think I’m understanding my own game a little bit better and growing that way.”

For Shepley it all comes down to being comfortable on the golf course and comfortable with her games, and it is finally showed in her score.

“I don't really think of scores too much out there.  I was just trying to stay in it and really focus because of heat,” Shepley said.  “Maybe that was a blessing in disguise to have something else to worry about.”

Repping the Red, White and Blue:  First-round leader Alison Walshe would love nothing more than to be making a last second push for points this week to make the U.S. Solheim Cup team. But while Walshe waves the American flag proudly, she has been unable to compete for a spot on that team due to the fact that she was born in Ireland.
The criteria for players wanting to qualify for the U.S. Team will be changing, however, for the 2015 Solheim Cup. To qualify for Team USA for either the Solheim Cup or the International Crown, a player must fall under the any of the following criteria:

-Born in USA
-Born to parents who are US Citizens (but born outside US)
-Became a Naturalized citizen before age 18
-Adopted by US parents before age 13

No one seems more excited for the changes than Walshe, who moved to the United States when she was 3 and became a naturalized citizen before her 18th birthday.

“I love the fact that I now will have an opportunity,” Walshe said. “It's really bothersome in the moment.  You want to be out there.  I'm going to support the heck out of the team.Hopefully I can just continue to play well to be recognized maybe for the future teams and stuff.  But it's definitely another goal to try to achieve now that I can attain it.”

Walshe won’t be playing for the U.S. Team next month in Parker, Colo. but she will be there to root on the team. It will mark the second straight Solheim Cup that she’s attended in support of her fellow American players.

“It went when it was in Ireland, which is where I was born,” Walshe said of the 2011 event. “So I went out there and watched the teams.  It was awesome.  To watch that, it's just really thrilling and motivating. I am going to go out to Colorado this year.  I think you can feed off that, so I'm looking forward to it.

Lewis earns first ESPY:  Between being the hometown hero and her work with Marathon promoting the tournament, Stacy Lewis has been the talk of Toledo this week but last night she heard her name somewhere else…the ESPYs. 

Lewis won the coveted award for Best Female Golfer but had to watch the award on TV instead of receiving it in person in Los Angeles.

“You saw it on TV and I would have liked to go to the actual awards but I’ve got more important things here,” Lewis said.

Lewis won the award through a fan vote that was held on ESPN’s website.  Her strong 2012 campaign included four wins and 16 top-ten finishes which won her the Rolex Player of the Year award. 

Last night’s award was Lewis’ first ESPY but will most likely not be her last.

“It was up for grabs,” Lewis said. “It’s cool to get my first one.”

Tweet of the Day: Goes to Paula Creamer who tweeted a trophy shot from her 2008 win in Toledo and shot an opening-round 5-under 66.

#ThrowBackThursday I love this event!!!! Ready to put four great days together!!!”

Of Note...Five-time Marathon Classic winner and World and LPGA Halls of Famer Se Ri Pak opened with a 2-under 69 and is in a tie for 19th...defending champion So Yeon Ryu shot a first round 3-under 68 and sits in a tie for 10th, three shots off the lead…sponsor invite and Bowling Green, Ohio native Caroline Powers opened with a 3-over 74. The 2013 Michigan State graduate will have some ground to make up, as she sits nine shots off the current lead.

 

INBEE PARK, Rolex Rankings No. 1

Q. Talk about how you played today.
INBEE PARK:  I play very good today.  Putted very good today.  I mean, I didn't make any bogey, so that was best part about my round today.
            Yeah, I mean, the weather is really hot.  Looking forward to next three days.  There is a lot more golf left.

Q.  There is a lot more.  Talk about the position you put the yourself in, though.
INBEE PARK:  Yeah, I do feel more pressure coming into the tournament and playing, but I try to enjoy the fans coming out to watch and Toledo.  It's been nice fun for us always, so...

PAULA CREAMER, Rolex Rankings No. 14

Q.  We're joined here by Paula Creamer who shot 66 in the first round at the Marathon Classic.  Paula, great round.  Awesome start.  Take us through the round, how you felt out there obviously trying to stay cool in these hot and humid conditions.
PAULA CREAMER:  Yeah, I feel good.  I love coming back to Toledo.  It's  great golf course and the fans here are awesome.  Trying to get my right foot on the gas pedal out here.
            You can make lots of birdies, but you can't put too much pressure on yourself or you don't compete where you want to be.
            But at the same time, I love coming here.  This golf course just suits my eye really well.

Q.  I saw your throwback Thursday Instagram pic with the trophy.
PAULA CREAMER:  Uh‑huh.

Q.  That would pretty cool just on a Thursday getting started to look at that picture and think of the good memories here.  I know you said you were going to try to play off some good memories.  How did that come into play playing in the first round, getting the first round done?
PAULA CREAMER:  It was good.  I mean,  obviously winning at a golf course is huge and you can go back to.  Having my career‑low round here is also a positive.  Definitely gives you a little bit more confidence in that sense.
            But I been starting to play well.  Last week I hit the ball great; just couldn't really make any putts; couldn't see the greens.
            This week I have been hitting the ball really well and I can actually see these greens a little bit better. So hopefully make some more birdies tomorrow and then have a good weekend.

Q.  You're someone who takes care of your body and your good on the health, hydrations, all that stuff.  Tell us about preparation coming into today.
PAULA CREAMER:  Well, I mean, everybody thinks constantly about drinking fluids, Gatorade, water, all that kind of stuff.
It's just as important to eat out there and give your body the nourishment that it needs.  It's hard to eat when it's this hot, but that's something that is just as important.  No soda or noh ting like that.   Anything that dehydrates you you can't take.
            It's important.  Our bodies are our jobs.  If you don't give it the right things it needs to operate out there, you're going to struggle coming down the stretch.

 

PAULA CREAMER:  I'm just trying to continue how I've been playing and make some more putts.

Q.  Did you feel you built up some momentum?  You played very well on the back nine, your first nine.
PAULA CREAMER:  I did.  I honestly played very well all day, very consistent.  Missed a couple coming down the stretch.
            But at the same time, just kept giving myself some opportunities.  It's hot out here.  Plays a little bit different than that has.  The golf course is starting to dry up on some of the tee shots, so you have to be aware of that coming into the weekend.
            Hopefully I can have a good day tomorrow and we'll see what happens.

Q.  Was the heat and humidity a problem?
PAULA CREAMER:  It's very hot out there.  You're drinking as much as you can, eating as much as you possibly can.
            You know, bigger for the spectators.  We kind of know what it's like to travel week in and week out in this heat.  It's important to keep up with your fluids.

LEXI THOMPSON, Rolex Rankings No. 28

Q. We're joined by Lexi Thompson.  Just shot 5‑under, 66, and currently second at the Marathon Classic.  Started off bogey, bogey; finished birdie, birdie.  Take us through your round, the ups and downs.
LEXI THOMPSON:  Yeah, I started off pretty bad.  Started off bogey, bogey.  Missed a few putts in the beginning.  I just tried not worry about it too much.  I know there are a lot of birdie chances out here, so I just let it go and hit a few good shots coming in and then went for the last few Par‑5s and made birdies.

Q.  Yeah, they said the setup might be to the advantage of ling hitters.  Obviously you're in that category.  Did you think you would have an advantage coming into some of the par‑5s today?
LEXI THOMPSON:  Yeah, I feel like the par‑5s out here are definitely an advantage.  I can hit my driver then go for the hole.  So I went driver, 3‑wood on both and reached.
            But definitely an advantage.  You definitely have to hit it in the fairway here.  I think that's the main point.

Q.  You said you made a few putts that you really wanted to make.  Your putting has been kind of a struggle.  How has it been reading these greens and how has it been setting up for you?
LEXI THOMPSON:  Yeah, I actually made a few longer putts today which got my confidence up a little bit.  I missed a few short ones, too, but I guess that's golf.
            Me and Greg were reading them as team today, so that felt really good.  I think it's just all about confidence when you get over a putt, so that's what I'm working on.

Q.  First time here at the Toledo event, sort of one of the longest‑standing events on the LPGA.  Overall thoughts on the event?
LEXI THOMPSON:  I'm very happy to be here.  I've heard nothing but great things about the Marathon Classic and just Toledo overall.  The fans love it.
            I'm so very happy to be here and get to experience this and hopefully come back.

Q.  How important was it to get off to a solid start and getting your feet under you, especially on a course you're not particularly familiar with?
LEXI THOMPSON:  It's very important.  Like I said, it's been kind of a struggle with me.  I've started off with first round even pars and been so far back, like six or seven back after the first day.
            So getting a 5‑under is very important.  Just going to go out tomorrow with the same attitude and hopefully shoot the same.

Q.  Does it influence you at all that the last six winners are averaging 17‑, 18‑under?  You have to have a lot of birdies in order to win here, it seems.
LEXI THOMPSON:  You do.  There are a lot of birdie holes out here and many opportunities.  You can't think about what you have to shoot.  You just have to take one hole at a time and one shot at a time and just see where that goes.

Q.  What has it been like going from dad to Spiderman as your caddie?
LEXI THOMPSON:  He does have some little Spidey moves on the putting green.  Greg's been great.  We're a really good team, and we've been working together for probably about a year and a half now.
            He just knows every golf course so well, and he's getting to know my game pretty much as good as me.  We make a good team out there.

Q.  Are you used to all the attention?
LEXI THOMPSON:  Used to all the attention?

Q.  Yeah.
LEXI THOMPSON:  You know, yeah, I mean, I guess I've sort of gotten used to it being out here at a young age.  I don't mind the media.  It's a way to speak out to your fans and reach out to them.

Q.  U.S. Open, age 12, what's it like standing on the tee?
LEXI THOMPSON:  I remember that tee shot.  I actually tee'd off No. 10 the first day and I was so nervous.  It was raining so there wasn't that many people out there.  But I was so nervous.  I've never had my leg shaking for a shot.
            I ended up hitting it well, but it was just so exciting to be there.  I think once I made it to that Open I realized that I wanted to be out here.

Q.  I notice you don't say a whole lot out there to other players or caddies.  Is that nervousness are or not knowing them or what is that?
LEXI THOMPSON:  Just more me being in my zone.  I will talk, but if I'm struggling out there I usually keep to myself.  I just like to focus on myself and focus on one shot at a time.

Q.  You got this look.
LEXI THOMPSON:  Yeah, yeah.  Once I step foot on the golf course I'm in my zone.  Yeah.

Q.  So are you the next great American golfer?  Seems like the South Koreans are taking over.
LEXI THOMPSON:  No, you know, there are a lot of good American golfers out here.  There is so much competition.  Doesn't matter where you're from.  It matters how well you bring it out on the golf course.

 

ALISON WALSHE, Rolex Rankings No. 90

MODERATOR:  Good afternoon, everyone.  We would like to welcome our current leader, Alison Walshe, into the interview room.  A great 6‑under, 65 today in some difficult conditions with the heat out there.
            Take me through the day.  What was working well for you in your game?
ALISON WALSHE:  I think the difference for me today was definitely my putting.  I had struggled on it last week and came out here and did a lot of work on it.  Actually coincidentally I 3‑putted the first hole and I was like, Here we go again.
            Then 1‑putted the next hole and got my confidence going.  Made a lot of putts today, so that was pretty key.

MODERATOR:  When look at your year overall, how have you felt about your game?  Do you think there are some things that have been working well lately that you saw this round coming?
ALISON WALSHE:  Yeah, I mean, I've been hitting it probably the best I've hit it in a long time this year.  I've been giving my myself a lot of opportunities, and it's frustrating that I haven't been able to really go deep and make some putts.
            So I think, like I said, the putting was key, and I think that's going to be key for my to really get the rounds going well.

MODERATOR:  With all this heat, everybody talks about the mornings being a little bit cooler.  It's going to definitely get tougher as the afternoon goes along.  It's supposed to be near 100 degrees in the heat index.  Is it key when you do have the morning round that you take advantage of whatever cooler weather you can have?
ALISON WALSHE:  Yeah, I think the heat is the heat.  We're going to get it in the afternoon tomorrow.  But I did say I kind of like my draw being the morning today and afternoon.  Normally I don't like this flip flop, but at least I can rest this afternoon.  I think it would be kind of a grind to sweat out there all afternoon, go to bed, and go out there and do it all over the next day.
            But it's hot.  At 7:00 in morning I was sweating and I'm sweating now and it's 3:00 or whatever it is.

MODERATOR:  We've seen a lot of low numbers at this golf course over the years.  When you come into the week, do you think about that, knowing a golf course is played that way where players can put together low rounds?  Or do you focus on yourself and do the best you can?
ALISON WALSHE:  I just try to focus on myself and beat the golf course.  Yeah, there are golf courses you might see you can score a little lower, but if you get worked up with that you'll put some expectations that you don't need.
            I just try to go one hole at a time regardless of the course.

Q.  Can you tell us how many putts you had or how many one‑putts?
ALISON WALSHE:  I had 22 putts today.

Q.  Wow.
ALISON WALSHE:  And I had ‑‑ some of them were off the fringe, though.  But I had 11 one‑putts and I had a chip‑in.

Q.  Where was the chip‑in?
ALISON WALSHE:  On 14.

Q.  I dominated here, but I will do it a little longer.  Was there anything you changed at all in your putting stance or where the ball was or anything?
ALISON WALSHE:  Yeah, actually, I spoke with an instructor, Joe Hallet on some putting.  I have another coach for my swing.  He's out here this week, and we actually did a lot of work this week.  We actually did on article yesterday for somebody on putting coincidentally.
            So we got to grind on that a bit.  He looked at it and just put some extra thoughts in my head, and obviously it paid off.

Q.  Did you feel this coming on?  You had been striking the ball well?
ALISON WALSHE:  Yeah, yeah.  That's kind of what was frustrating about last week.  I was hitting it too good to not really convert all those putts.
            So it was nice.

Q.  Just to clarify, you were interviewed for a story on putting yesterday?
ALISON WALSHE:  We were doing some work for an article that's going to be coming out on putting.  Stuff that he went over with me a few months back ‑‑  and my putting has improved ‑ so we got to work on it the last couple days.

Q.  What was not working well last week?
ALISON WALSHE:  My distance control.  Speed.  So we worked a lot on stroke length and stuff like that just to kind of garner speed for the greens.

MODERATOR:  Alison, I know Solheim Cup is coming up.  While you can't participate in qualifying for the team this year, in two years the rules are changing so that you'll be eligible based upon your citizenship here in the U.S.
First off, how do you look at it from afar knowing that you've played for U.S. teams in the past, and how excited are you to have the opportunity in the future to be able to make a Solheim Cup team?
ALISON WALSHE:  I mean, I'm super excited that the rules are changing.  I love the fact that I now have an opportunity.  It's really bothersome in the moment.  You want to be out there.  I'm going to support the heck out of the team.
            Hopefully I can just continue to play well to be recognized maybe for the future teams and stuff.  But it's definitely another goal to try to achieve now that I can attain it, I guess.

MODERATOR:  Were you there in 2011?  Did you go there and experience that whole thing?
ALISON WALSHE:  I did.  I did.  It was in Ireland, which is where I was born.  So I went out there and watched the teams.  It was awesome.  To watch that, it's just really thrilling and motivating.
            I am going to go out to Colorado this year.  I think you can feed off that, so I'm looking forward to it.

Q.  Some of the past winners here have said that familiarity is a big thing.  That once they play here they feel comfortable and score well here.  How familiar do you feel with this golf course, and is there something with the greens you learned today too in addition to just putting well?
ALISON WALSHE:  I'm definitely more familiar with it.  I think this is my third time at this golf course.  I played the Pro‑Am yesterday.  I like the golf course because, I mean, I like the bentgrass, but I like the fact that it's tree lined and you can shape shots.  I'm kind of a creative ball striker, I guess.
            But the greens are kind of nothing really different or something you got to get familiarized with.  Just a matter of the making putts.

 

NATALIE GULBIS, Rolex Rankings No. 123

NATALIE GULBIS:  Some good and some bad.  I got off to a good start, and then just didn't really do much after that.
            Overall, good.  I knew that scores would be low.  I saw the pin sheet, and the conditions were very generous for scoring.

Q.  Were there a few pins that were a little surprising?
NATALIE GULBIS:  No, not really.  I've been here for I think every year they've had the event, so there are a lot of pins that are similar to years past.

Q.  How are you striking the ball?
NATALIE GULBIS:  Good.  Actually still have bit of practice for my afternoon round tomorrow.  Overall, good.

Q.  How are feeling in the heat?
NATALIE GULBIS:  Great.  Really good, thank you.  I love the heat.  Feels wonderful.  You're nice and loose.  Definitely still look for shade, but it's nice.

Q.  A Vegas girl.
NATALIE GULBIS:  I am.  When I left Vegas before the last two events it was like 117, 119, 120.  It's a little humid here, though.

 

JESSICA SHEPLEY, Rolex Rankings No. 420

Q. Great start to the tournament.  No matter what everybody else does the rest of the day, you're in great shape where you are right now.  Talk about your round.
JESSICA SHEPLEY:  Yeah, absolutely.  I got off to a solid start and I also finished well, so that's all I can really ask for.
            Gave myself lots of opportunities to make birdies and put myself in a good place for tomorrow.  Lots of golf left, though.

Q.  Had you been playing really well up to this point?  Is this something you've been expecting or hoping for?
JESSICA SHEPLEY:  You know, I had couple good results.  I played a couple smaller events up in Canada.  Had some good results.  Didn't play great last week.
            Been working hard and working on my swing a lot.  I am trying to stay patient, so was hoping one of these rounds would come soon.

Q.  Was there any holes out here where you expected the challenge and prepared yourself for that?
JESSICA SHEPLEY:  No, you know, I had a good game plan for the entire course.  I knew where I wanted to hit my tee shots and what part of the greens I wanted to hit for the specific pin.
            So not one in particular.

Q.  I'm sure the ball was flying out there today.  What was the heat like?
JESSICA SHEPLEY:  Yeah, it was hot.  It was very hot.  But it didn't affect the ball too much.  Probably affected us more.  Just trying stay cool was the goal.

Q.  Knowing how the heat will be this week and knowing you had the early round today, do you have to take advantage of that early start?  The heat index will be close to 100 degrees they said. JESSICA SHEPLEY:  Yeah, I think it's important to play well for the morning round.  It's so hot out there.  Just even warming up in the heat is going to be a little bit more difficult for the afternoon rounds, which we'll play tomorrow.
            I think taking advantage will be good.

Q.  I know Thursday isn't where you win a tournament, but you've got to feel good being right around the top.
JESSICA SHEPLEY:  Yeah, I haven't really been in this position before, so...
            Have to do it once, right, to get comfortable out here and to keep growing.  So I'm happy with my round today.

Q.  You talked about playing some Canadian events.  How many events have you played up there?
JESSICA SHEPLEY:  I played a Canadian Tour event and another Canadian PGA event.  So some smaller events, but still good competition and just continuing to play and compete.

Q.  Finding some things your swing starting to feel better, what have you noticed and found lately that's kind of led to this good round?
JESSICA SHEPLEY:  Just been working with my instructor, Tony Bigler.  We have been making some changes.  For me, it's catching things I start to do on a golf course as the round wears on a little bit.
            So I caught a couple of my older tendencies and was able to kind of make a correction.  I hit some good irons on the back side.  So I think understanding my own game a little bit better and growing that way.

 

 

 

Topics: Notes and Interviews, Creamer, Paula, Thompson, Lexi, Walshe, Alison, Marathon Classic [+]

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