Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic
Ocean Club Golf Course
Atlantis, Paradise Island, Nassau, Bahamas
Final-Round Notes and Interviews
January 26, 2014
Jessica Korda had been close to picking up win No. 2 of her LPGA Tour career many times over the past two years and on Sunday, she finally did it. The 20-year-old made a dramatic up-and-down on the 18th hole for birdie to defeat Rolex Rankings No. 3 Stacy Lewis by a stroke at the 2014 season-opening Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic.
After hitting her second shot over the green on the par-5 18th that rested up against the grandstands, Korda took her relief and proceeded to putt the ball – while officials and volunteers held up cable – to six feet. As her birdie putt dropped in to move her to 19-under-par, Korda raised her hands in the air and was doused with Pure Silk shaving cream to celebrate her second career LPGA Tour victory.
Season-opening events must have a special magic for Korda, who became a Rolex First-Time Winner at the 2012 season-opening ISPS Handa Australia Women’s Open.
“It's unbelievable,” Korda said of winning another season opener. “I don't know, maybe I pay attention more to detail, and I'm more relaxed out here. I don't know, but whatever it is I need to figure it out and do it more often.”
Korda entered Sunday’s final round sitting three shots behind third-round leader Na Yeon Choi. But she caught fire midway through the front nine with a five birdies in a stretch of seven holes. The Bradenton, Fla. native needed to get hot as many players went low in the final round on an ideal weather day.
One year after rain put a damper on the inaugural event and forced the tournament to be switched to a 12-hole format, the Bahamas put on a spectacular weather display this week. There was barely a cloud in the sky and just a hint of wind for Sunday’s final round as temperatures reached the upper 70s on a picturesque day.
It was a perfect day for birdies and there were plenty to be found. Lewis set the tone for the day as she got off to a blazing start. The top-ranked American birdied six of her first eight holes to move into a tie for the lead at 17-under-par with second-year LPGA Tour member Lizette Salas.
Despite a bogey at the ninth that halted her momentum, Lewis continued to lead the pack for most of the back nine. She took the outright lead with a birdie on the 14th as Korda continued to chase.
But Lewis’ momentum slowed with five straight pars to end her round. And after Lewis faltered in her attempt to get up-and-down for birdie from behind the 18th green, Korda managed to take advantage with her remarkable two-putt from off the green.
“It was like double‑dutch,” Korda joked of putting under the cables. “I was jumping over wires with people holding onto them. It was really funny.”
Korda has been working on some swing changes in recent weeks, even switching to a new swing coach this month. The changes caused a few hiccups in Saturday’s third round as Korda battled her old swing habits but she found that retooled swing again on Sunday, particularly on the back nine with birdies on three of her final four holes.
How was Korda able to turn things around for Sunday? A lot had to do with her new swing coach, Grant Price, who she actually worked with before when she was 15 years old at the IMG Golf Academy. Price is currently in the midst of battling cancer and Korda said that she wanted to make sure he was feeling good enough health-wise to work with her, as his wellbeing was her biggest concern. They’ve been able to work when Price feels able and the relationship has been a tremendous boost to Korda and her game.
“Grant means so much to me,” said Korda, who got choked up discussing her new coach. “He's so positive, and that's really kind of shown ‑‑ it's given me a lot of confidence this week. His positivity, and he's like, you're going to be ready for this week, you're going to be ready for this week, regardless of how I was hitting it on the range, and I was not hitting it good. I started hitting woods a week before I came here, so I really wasn't that confident in myself. But him being on the range and constantly kind of encouraging the positive in me, into my mind, it helped me so much.”
Race to the finish: This weekend marked the kickoff to the exciting Race to the CME Globe, a season-long points race competition in which LPGA members accumulate points in every official LPGA Tournament. At the end of the season, the player with the most points will be crowned “Race to the CME Globe Champion”.
Korda’s win today earns her 500 points towards the race gives her a very early lead over Stacy Lewis who earned 300 points with her second place finish today. When asked if she had yet to think about the season-long points race Korda said, “Being able to win a million dollars at the end of the year is going to be ‑‑ I mean, it's something that we all are going to strive for. It's not in the back of my mind just yet, but I think I'm headed in the right direction.”
So Close: Lewis has made no secret of her desire to get back to the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings and the top-ranked American made a strong statement in the first event of the 2014 LPGA Tour season. Lewis fired a 7-under 66 in Sunday’s final round to finish runner-up and one shot back of winner Korda in the season-opening Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic.
A missed birdie on the 18th was frustrating but Lewis was looking positively at her performance this week
“It's very frustrating.” Lewis said of her finish. “The 18th hole has gotten me the last couple tournaments. I've had so many chances to win. It's very frustrating, but to finish second a lot of weeks in a row, you're not doing anything really wrong. That's what I'm taking out of it is I'm doing a lot of stuff right. There's more events and there's bigger tournaments this summer, so I'm just going to take this momentum from here.”
Lewis was the only one of the LPGA’s “Big Three” from 2013 to compete in the season-opening event with Inbee Park and Suzann Pettersen not in the field this week. Lewis took the opportunity to pick up momentum, and points, heading into Australia.
Start the season right!: This was win No. 2 for Korda on the LPGA tour with her only other win also coming in a season-opening event – the 2012 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
Her win today happens to fall on the same day as the men’s tennis final at the 2014 Australian Open, a tournament that her dad, Petr Korda, won in 1998.
Eagles are still flying: Three total eagles were made today, Vicky Hurst (+1) on par-5 7th, Haru Nomura (-5) on par-5 18th and Sandra Gal ( ) on par-5 4th. The three today, in addition to the 12 eagles holed by nine different players on Saturday, raised a total of $15,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project® during the first Wounded Warrior Project® Weekend of the year.
Wounded Warrior Project® Weekends is a season-long charity program that will be tied into the Race to the CME Globe. Each Saturday and Sunday at LPGA tournaments, CME Group will donate $1,000 to Wounded Warrior Project® for each eagle that is recorded. This amount will increase to $5,000 for each eagle during the weekend of the CME Group Tour Championship and a formal check will be presented to the Wounded Warrior Project® during the trophy ceremony at the CME Group Tour Championship. To get involved and learn more, visit woundedwarriorproject.org.
Calm seas: Choi entered today relaxed and ready to finish the first tournament of the year strong. Before the round she talked about her mindset coming into play.
“Had a great sleep last night – almost 10 hours, a big breakfast and I feel great. Relaxed.” Choi said. “2013 is over. 2014 is a new season. I know I didn’t have any victories last year but it’s not going to change anything I still doing my job and if I have good results that would be great.”
The results were there. She didn’t miss a green in round two and only missed twice in both round three and the final round today. Her relaxed approach is something that helped her throughout this tournament.
“When I walk the golf course I like to see all the water.” Choi said. “Very pure, clear water out there a lot of nice house(s). Just talking to the caddie about the house or water. Next time, hopefully I can go to the water too. There is a lot of great atmosphere here.”
The first one is the hardest one: Capturing your first LPGA Tour victory is never an easy task and Salas discovered that throughout the back nine. Salas took a two-shot lead with a birdie on the par-4 eighth, but it would be a short-lived lead. Salas bogeyed the ninth, the first of three bogeys in four holes. With a tie for third today with Pornanong Phatlum and Paula Creamer, the trio each earned 190 points towards the Race to the CME Globe.
Setting the pace: Natalie Gulbis, who teed off at 7:36 a.m. today, played as a single in just 2 hours and 25 minutes.
Of note: Yani Tseng claimed won the 2014 Taiwan LPGA Tour Taifong Ladies Open in Changhua County, central Taiwan. Tseng, who ranks No. 39 in the Rolex Rankings, won the three-round 54-hole tournament that drew 99 players.
Quotable: “Playing with Jack Nicklaus, actually I had the pleasure of playing with him in 2012 actually, beginning of the season, before I left for Australia. He always told me, a bad putt is still better than a bad chip. – Jessica Korda, explaining if it was a difficult choice to putt or chip on 18.
Overheard: “I smell really good. It smells really good. I recommend everybody to go and get some Pure Silk shaving cream, the raspberry flavor.” – Jessica Korda, after being sprayed with shaving cream immediately following her win.
Tweet of the Day: “In my 13 years on tour. This is my first time playing solo! I will be watching the sunrise in final round @BahamasLPGA” -- @natalie_gulbis on her playing as a single today.
Another Tweet of the Day: “@JessicaKorda that's the girl I know!! What a great comeback and a great second win!!” -- @SuzannePettersen
Jessica Korda, Rolex Rankings No. 40
Q. We'd like to welcome in the 2014 Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA champion Jessica Korda. Congratulations. What is it about season‑opening events that just seem to bring out the best in your golf game? You won the 2012 ISPS Handa Australian Women's Open two years ago, now today this season‑opening event.
JESSICA KORDA: It's unbelievable. I don't know, maybe I pay attention more to detail, and I'm more relaxed out here. I don't know, but whatever it is I need to figure it out and do it more often.
Q. Take us through the day, birdieing three of the last four holes, including back‑to‑back birdies on 17 and 18 to capture the win. What was your mindset and how were you able to make so many birdies out there today?
JESSICA KORDA: I honestly have no idea. I was rolling the ball same as I was yesterday, and I was actually making putts today, which is really nice. On 16 I had a 34‑yard putt from literally one side of the green to the other, Paula putted first to like two feet. I just looked at her, like can you come putt mine now, please. And I think that was really key to make par there.
And then I hit a good iron shot on 17. I saw Stacy was still 18‑under, and I was like, all right, I have a chance here. So all I was thinking was just picking my lines and just concentrating on my lines. I wasn't thinking about needing to make a birdie, needing to make a birdie. I think that really helped.
And 18, wow, I mean, I hit a 4‑iron, 200 front, and I ended up on the back of the green. I didn't really know where that came from.
And then trying to figure out where to drop or not to drop and picking up wires. It's kind of a nice distraction to be honest. It completely made me laugh, and I wasn't really thinking about what I needed to do. It was actually a really nice distraction.
Q. Have you ever had a situation like that when you've needed people to hold up wires for you to putt?
JESSICA KORDA: No, it was like double‑dutch. I was jumping over wires with people holding onto them. It was really funny.
Q. How do you go from Saturday where you're obviously fighting your swing, you put the ball in the hazard, shanked one sideways, to the trophy winner?
JESSICA KORDA: I didn't let it get to me. You know, I hooked a bunch into the water this week, hooked a bunch just in general. But it's just another shot. You kind of have to forget about it and move on. I might have shanked a shot yesterday, but I birdied the next hole right back. I definitely wasn't looking back. I just kept looking forward.
Q. On 18 today, how difficult was the choice to putt or chip?
JESSICA KORDA: It wasn't difficult at all. Playing with Jack Nicklaus, actually I had the pleasure of playing with him in 2012 actually, beginning of the season, before I left for Australia. He always told me, a bad putt is still better than a bad chip.
Q. Where did you play with Jack?
JESSICA KORDA: I played with him at the Bear's Club two years ago.
Q. You've talked so much about your swing changes and what you've been doing. How much were you able to kind of put those out of your mind this week and really find that golf swing, especially today, and be able to kind of put together the round that you did?
JESSICA KORDA: You know, I was really trying to keep everything behind the ball, so if I was working on something, whatever kind of trigger I had, I had behind the ball, and then I went on it on the range after every single day. I talked to my coach last night, and I was telling him that my swing felt a little off. He goes, yeah, you were going back to your swing ever since the 7th hole. I said, yeah, that explains a lot. All my bad shots came after the 7th hole. So I went back to the range and worked on it there and kind of just forgot about what I had to do and was really concentrating on my targets after basically I got to the golf ball.
Q. What was your other option for a drop at 18? Talk about the decision you made.
JESSICA KORDA: Well, we came about it both ways. The thing about it was I was in the corner, so I had to go further in each direction because any way I went I would still be going closer to the hole. So then I just asked if I could just play it where it is and play it up there because I wouldn't be hitting the backs of the stand anyway. I felt like I had a good lie there rather than going to the rough and then having uphill‑downhill type chip. It just looked too difficult from each side, so I just stayed where I was.
Q. Could you tell us what having Grant out here means to you?
JESSICA KORDA: Grant means so much to me. He's so positive, and that's really kind of shown ‑‑ it's given me a lot of confidence this week. His positivity, and he's like, you're going to be ready for this week, you're going to be ready for this week, regardless of how I was hitting it on the range, and I was not hitting it good. I started hitting woods a week before I came here, so I really wasn't that confident in myself. But him being on the range and constantly kind of encouraging the positive in me, into my mind, it helped me so much. My boyfriend Johnny, we were out practicing every single day, and he pushed me to hit shots that I'm not comfortable with and do things that I usually be working on, too.
Q. I'm sure you were aware of his condition when you asked him. Were you hesitant at all to ask him to help? JESSICA KORDA: : I've known Grant since I was 15 years old, so I mean, I know how it is and what's going on. But first thing I did, and I asked him, I was like, can you help me, and if you can't, it's completely okay. Like if you don't feel up to it, then it's fine. Like I don't mind. But I need to know if you're going to be okay first. And that's how every practice started. It wasn't, oh, am I feeling okay. I asked how you were feeling, how long do you think you can stay, and let's make the most of what we have and kind of move forward with that. Like I said, just his positivity and being able to laugh on the golf course. I'll hit a bad shot, and even when I did hit a bad shot, he'd be like, come here and talk to me, what are you thinking about, and not having it bottled up inside just helps a lot.
Q. Are you happy with who you're working with right now?
JESSICA KORDA: He's a golf coach at IMG Golf Academy. He's on leave because obviously he's had some surgery done. Like I said, he's basically just coming out, sitting on the golf cart and enjoying the nice Florida weather we've been having.
Q. Overall the second victory, was it harder than the first one?
JESSICA KORDA: For sure. I mean, it's either‑or. It was definitely harder in some aspects, but in some ways it was actually a little bit easier. I was nervous on 18, but I remembered that when I was nervous in the playoff, I had to keep moving. Like don't stop moving. Being able to breathe through each shot and keeping myself just really, just clear in my head of any kind of thoughts. I didn't really look at what was going on in front of me.
I just kept it really simple, and Kyle and I were joking around, too, so that really helped.
Q. With this victory you are the first winner of 500 points toward the Race to the CME Globe. You'll have the million dollar prize that's sitting there at the end. Have you let yourself think what it would be like to win this race, and what does this do for propelling you in the season‑long points race?
JESSICA KORDA: We have, what, 31 events left? Yeah, we have a really long way to go. . You know, winning the first tournament of the season is great. I am incredibly humbled, and I'm going to carry this for a very long time. Being able to win a million dollars at the end of the year is going to be ‑‑ I mean, it's something that we all are going to strive for. It's not in the back of my mind just yet, but I think I'm headed in the right direction.
Q. How was your shaving cream?
JESSICA KORDA: I smell really good. It smells really good. I definitely remember everybody to go get some Pure Silk shaving cream, the raspberry flavor.
Q. What was the club in at 18?
JESSICA KORDA: I had 213 on the line, but 200 kind of front, it was a little bit downwind, I hit 4‑iron, and I thought I was just going to hit the front of the green and let it trickle up like I have been every day, and I didn't see my golf ball anywhere. I didn't realize that it was all the way back by the grandstand.
Q. How long was your birdie on 17?
JESSICA KORDA: 12 feet uphill right to left.
Q. What did you hit in there?
JESSICA KORDA: A thinned 6.
Q. How about 16?
JESSICA KORDA: I was in the trees left, so all I had basically was 9‑iron to the right side of the green, and take that 32‑yard putt I had.
Q. We'd like to welcome in our runner‑up, Stacy Lewis. First of all, what a round of golf today. I got a chance to walk a little bit of the front nine and watch the display you put on over the first eight holes; six birdies in eight holes. What was going through your mind there early in the round when you were just so hot it seemed like you couldn't miss?
STACY LEWIS: Well, early it was ‑‑ I mean, overall it's probably one of the best ball‑striking days I've ever had. Whatever number I needed to hit, I hit it. I almost holed out on the first hole, hit it in there eight feet on the second hole. I left two putts short right in the center and short in those first eight holes, or I could have been 8‑under through 8. But I hit good putts, they just didn't cooperate. They seemed to lip out or kind of bobble at the end, but I kept hitting good shots and kept giving myself chances. That's really all you can do.
Q. Is that what you're going to take away from this day? Your great play all week long, your irons looked like they've been magic all week. I know it was disappointing to walk away on 18 and not see that putt drop, but can you take away from this week how great your swing seems to be feeling?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, even the first three days I hit the ball great. It wasn't just today, I hit it great all week. Just the grain in the greens, and I didn't make many putts this week. I don't know how many putts I had, I just didn't make many. But more than anything, I'm playing well. That's the big thing. Coming off the off‑season, we worked on a bunch of things with my golf swing, and I'm excited. They feel great, what we were working on, so I'm excited about that.
It's one shot here and there. I only birdied the 18th hole once all week, and I think at the end of the day, you can look at not birdieing it Thursday or Friday, and we're in a different position.
Q. What was the lie like on the chip on 18?
STACY LEWIS: It wasn't bad. There was kind of a clump of grass right behind the ball, and there was more underneath than I thought. Taking practice swings, I thought I was going to kind of pop through there pretty good, but it just came out really fluffy.
Q. Did you feel like you hit a good second shot at 18?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I hit the exact shot I wanted to. I had a little downhill lie, so I knew it was going to come off a little low. But I still thought that would help it kind of land short into that hill and just bounce up there. But I think three of the four days I was over that green and didn't make birdie from there, so I guess that's not the place to be. But at the same time, again, I hit my number and I hit my shot.
Q. How hard is this to swallow?
STACY LEWIS: It's very frustrating. The 18th hole has gotten me the last couple tournaments. I've had so many chances to win. It's very frustrating, but to finish second a lot of weeks in a row, you're not doing anything really wrong. That's what I'm taking out of it is I'm doing a lot of stuff right. There's more events and there's bigger tournaments this summer, so I'm just going to take this momentum from here.