Honda LPGA Thailand
Siam Country Club, Pattaya Old Course
Final-Round Notes and Interviews
February 23, 2014
Anna Nordqvist -15, Rolex Rankings No. 27
Inbee Park -13, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Anna Nordqvist battled a star-studded leaderboard on Sunday and shot a 4-under 68 to claim her third career LPGA Tour title at the Honda LPGA Thailand. The 26-year old from Sweden finished the week at 15-under par and two shots ahead of Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park.
“I'm speechless to be honest,” said Nordqvist following the win. “It's been a couple years since I won. I've been working very hard. Had my ups and downs. Just couldn't be happier to be here. It was such a hard push on the back nine. Inbee kept making birdies and Michelle was playing great. Couldn't really breathe until the last putt, so obviously I could just let go on the last putt.”
Nordqvist started the day with a four-shot lead over Park and American Michelle Wie but quickly made things interesting with a double bogey on the par 4 5th hole. Wie picked up her second birdie of the day on No. 5 to cut the lead to one shot.
“Michelle played great; Inbee kept pushing me at the end,” said Nordqvist. “I just really had to stay strong. Had a rough first couple holes, but kept playing good on the back.”
Nordqvist recovered with a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 7 to extend her lead back to two shots but was pressured by Park who picked up back-to-back birdies on Nos. 7 and 8. Park was bogey-free in her round of 66 on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough for the surging Nordqvist who carded five of her seven birdies on the back nine. The top-ranked player in the world said she was pleased with her performance in her first event of the 2014 season.
“I feel good,” said Park. “I mean, today my ball‑striking wasn't as good as yesterday, I putted better than yesterday. So I feel like my putter is coming back. I played one shot better than last year and didn't win. Still a very good result. Tells me I improved a little. I'm satisfied the way I played this weekend…I think I played a little bit better than I thought I would.”
Nordqvist sank a 20-foot birdie putt on the 10th hole to start a run of three consecutive birdies on the back nine and pushed her lead to three shots.
“Then after that I just saw I needed to start making birdies because if not I wasn't going to keep up with them. I made a great 20‑footer I think on 10 to really kick start it.”
Nordqvist and Park took turns with birdies on the next four holes and never saw the lead cut to less than two. Nordqvist sealed the deal with her 12-foot birdie putt on No. 12 leaving a nice cushion for a bogey on the 72nd for the two-shot win. She said earlier in the week she was contemplating leaving the game and credits her support team and family for keeping her happy and on track to her goals.
“I've been working so hard all winter,” said Nordqvist. “These last couple years I have had a lot of great people by my side that never left my side and kept supporting me through the good times and the bad times. I will always be thankful for them. I'm just so excited to get a win here, and look forward to the rest of the year.”
Super Swede: Nordqvist held a Sweden flag as she walked into her post-round press conference on Sunday and couldn’t help but smile when she started talking about putting her home country back on the map for LPGA Tour wins. The last Swede to win on Tour was Maria Hjorth at the 2011 Avnet LPGA Classic. With her win this week, Nordqvist is projected to move to No. 14 in the Rolex Rankings and will be the top-ranked Swede in the world.
“Well, there is always questions about when someone is going to win again obviously after Annika left in 2008. So we were fortunate to get a couple victories.”
Nordqvist said she watched the dominating play of PGA Tour player and fellow Swede Henrik Stenson last season and thought his performances inspired Swede golfers everywhere.
“But I think Sweden has a lot of good players,” said Nordqvist. “Henrik Stenson last year, so I think he was a big inspiration to all of us. We all work very hard.”
Quotable: This week’s champion Anna Nordqvist on winning after making 95 starts between this week and her last win at the LPGA Tour Championship in her rookie season in 2009.
“It's been a while, but I'm just so happy to finally break through again. Michelle played great; Inbee kept pushing me at the end. I just really had to stay strong. Had a rough first couple holes, but kept playing good on the back.
Just unbelievable to get that win again. You know, it was a grind this off‑season, but sitting here with the trophy it was well worth it.”
Race to the CME Globe… The Race to the CME Globe is in its early stages but the competition is already heating up. With her win, Nordqvist entered herself into the race earning 500 points this week. She currently ranks fourth with 526. American Jessica Korda leads the race with 587 points.
The top-5 in the standings for the Race to the CME Globe are:
Rank Player Points
1. Jessica Korda 587
2. Karrie Webb 552
3. Stacy Lewis 535
4. Anna Nordqvist 526
5. Paula Creamer 421
Closing in on a record: Stacy Lewis finished her week on a strong note with a 6-under 66 and extended her top-10 finish streak to 13 events. Lewis started the day T19 but used seven birdies and one bogey to finish in a tie for fifth. The 2013 Vare Trophy winner is closing in on the all-time record which is held by World Golf and LPGA Halls of Famer Karrie Webb. Webb recorded 16 consecutive top-10’s during the 1999 and 2000 seasons.
Show me the eagles… Seven total eagles were made today in the final round of the Honda LPGA Thailand and players raised $7,000 for the Wounded Warrior Project as part of the season-long Wounded Warrior Project® Weekends.
Par 5 10th hole: Michelle Wie (-10), Gerina Piller (-9), Moriya Jutanugarn (+9), Ayako Uehara (+12)
Par 4 15th hole: Angela Stanford (-5), Brittany Lang (+2)
The seven eagles today pushes the season-total to $46,000
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.
ANNA NORDQVIST, Rolex Rankings No. 27
POST-ROUND TELEVISION INTERVIEW
Q. Anna, it's been a long time coming. Your third win on the LPGA, but you played well so in this final round.
ANNA NORDQVIST: Yeah, I mean, it's been a while, but I'm just so happy to finally break through again. Michelle played great; Inbee kept pushing me at the end. I just really had to stay strong. Had a rough first couple holes, but kept playing good on the back.
Just unbelievable to get that win again.
Q. Good on the back? You were 5‑under par on the back nine. What is an explosive start.
ANNA NORDQVIST: Yeah, I think definitely the putt on 10 definitely gave me some momentum, and then, you know, just tried to keep making birdies to keep up with Inbee.
Q. Well, it was a tremendous win. You must be so pleased, especially to win here in Thailand.
ANNA NORDQVIST: Yeah, absolutely. I've been working so hard all winter. These last couple years I have had a lot of great people by my side that never left my side and kept supporting me through the good times and the bad times. I will always be thankful for them.
I'm just so excited to get a win here, and look forward to the rest of the year.
MODERATOR: I would like to welcome in our 2014 Honda LPGA Thailand champion, Anna Nordqvist. Anna, congratulations. Take us through the emotions as soon as that last putt dropped. I could tell it in your face.
ANNA NORDQVIST: Yeah, I mean, I'm speechless to be honest. It's been a couple years since I won. I've been working very hard. Had my ups and downs.
Just couldn't be happier to be here. It was such a hard push on the back nine. Inbee kept making birdies and Michelle was playing great. Couldn't really breathe until the last putt, so obviously I could just let go on the last putt.
MODERATOR: We talked about how hard you worked over the off‑season and how you almost got to the point of quitting, giving up the game. Talk about having this win in your second start of the season. How much does that set the tone for the 2014 year?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Yeah, last year was a bit rough going for me for a little bit. I played better second half of the season.
I was a little bit disappointed with the result. Just couldn't get any momentum. I still had quite a few good finishes.
I surround myself with great people and friends and family. I have a great coach that really inspired me the last couple months, couple weeks, just to believe in myself and keep going no matter what.
You know, it was a grind this off‑season, but sitting here with the trophy it was well worth it.
MODERATOR: Who in particular was really there for you and supportive and really pushed you to keep going and working at it?
ANNA NORDQVIST: My younger brother and his girlfriend visited in Florida. You know, just very easygoing people, you know, just smile at me and just that's exactly what I needed. My mom and niece and nephew and brother were over.
And then my coach, Jorge Parada, has been tremendous support the last couple weeks to just find myself again and believe in what I'm doing and just be patient.
MODERATOR: Did you talk to your coach at all this week back home?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Yeah, absolutely. We were in daily contact. All my friends that were supporting me this week wished me good luck for today, and I'm sure my phone is blowing up right now. I can't wait to talk to them all and share this dream with them. They are as much a part of it as I am.
MODERATOR: Last win was five years ago in your rookie season. What is the biggest difference between the victory in 2009 and today?
ANNA NORDQVIST: I think my game is much better today. Last three years it's been really solid. Put myself in a couple good positions last year but never came close enough over the weekend.
I'm in a much better place. I'm happy. I have a lot of positive people around me. My caddie, Jason Gilroy, has been by my side since July. He's been a great support. Just makes me laugh and keeps me in a good mood and calm on the course.
He really has made a difference in my game.
MODERATOR: Put Sweden back on the map in wins. The last Swede to win was Maria Hjorth in 2011. I know you have a lot of national pride. What does this mean for golf to get a win for the country?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Well, there is always questions about when someone is going to win again obviously after Annika
left in 2008. So we were fortunate to get a couple victories.
But I think Sweden has a lot of good players. Henrik Stenson last year, so I think he was a big inspiration to all of us. We all work very hard.
MODERATOR: Let's talk about the back nine tear. What was going through your mind at the turn? One‑shot lead, started with 4. What were your thoughts going into the last nine holes?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Inbee and Michelle kept making birdies and playing great, so I knew I had to stay in it the first couple holes when I didn't hit it as good.
Then after that I just saw I needed to start making birdies because if not I wasn't going to keep up with them. I made a great 20‑footer I think on 10 to really kick start it.
From then I had a great 6‑iron in on 11; made the putt.
Great 6‑iron in on 12 to a short distance.
Then on 14 I made a 7‑iron to about three feet.
So I kept staying in there and never gave up.
Great putt on 16.
Inbee kept making the putts and I had to stay aggressive.
MODERATOR: I know you said that Stacy, Inbee, Suzann, have been in contention over the past years so many times they look so comfortable. You didn't look rattled. How are feeling on the inside?
ANNA NORDQVIST: No, this is great. These are moments I practice so hard for. You know, I love the Solheim Cup, and coming down the stretch I felt like going at one hole at a time. I knew I had to make the best out of each one of them.
Q. You were leading the whole tournament. Have you ever won wire-to-wire.
ANNA NORDQVIST: I think when I won my major in 2009 I shot 6‑under the first day and I think I lead throughout the whole tournament.
Q. Winter Olympics final day today. Sweden has two gold medals; Norway, we trashed you. Is this Sweden's revenge over Norway?
ANNA NORDQVIST: I guess so. I've been trying to follow quite a bit of the Olympics. Kept me in a good mood. Obviously we won the gold for the men's and the women's relay. I don't know if you missed that.
There is a huge hockey game tonight in maybe an hour and a half between Canada and Sweden. My caddie is Canadian, so I don't know if I will be able to speak to him tomorrow. But hopefully Sweden will pull off another medal in these last days.
INBEE PARK, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Q. Great overall tournament. You have to feel pretty pleased with yourself. You said you wanted to come out and have a good showing. How do you feel after today?
INBEE PARK: I feel good. I mean, today wasn't probably as ‑‑ my ball‑striking wasn't as good as yesterday, I putted better than yesterday. So I feel like my putter is coming back.
I played one shot better than last year and didn't win. Still a very good result. Tells me I improved a little. I'm satisfied the way I played this weekend. Yeah, I played good.
Q. How did it feel just being in competition, really competing, going back and forth down the stretch?
INBEE PARK: The first two rounds were like, How you going little bit. Third and fourth round I was pretty much back in the field. I think I played a little bit better than I thought I would.
Q. Coming off four weeks and now you're in the mix, how much of a momentum booster does this give you?
INBEE PARK: To play for a trophy on the last day I think is a good goal achieve for the first week.
Q. In the first start.
INBEE PARK: Yeah.
Q. Going into next week, what do you hope to bring over momentum‑wise?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I think just the way I strike the ball this week I think I'll be quite good next week. Just I need to hole some more putts. In Singapore I never had good results last six, seven years.
Again, not expecting much, but never know. But I feel like my game is in a good shape.
Q. You're modest. Did do you any leaderboard watching today?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, because I play with Anna so I pretty much knew what the leader was. I saw maybe on the back nine. A lot of people had good scores today.