Siam Country Club, Pattaya Old Course
First-Round Notes and Interviews
February 20, 2014
Anna Nordqvist -6, Rolex Rankings No. 27
Michelle Wie -5, Rolex Rankings No. 60
Lexi Thompson -4, Rolex Rankings No. 9
Angela Stanford -4, Rolex Rankings No. 19
Inbee Park -1, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Rolex Rankings No. 27 Anna Nordqvist shot 6-under 66 on Thursday to take the first-round lead at the Honda LPGA Thailand. The Swede carded seven birdies, two bogeys and an eagle and leads Michelle Wie (67) by one shot. Three Americans are in a tie for third at 4-under par including Lexi Thompson, Angela Stanford and Jennifer Johnson.
Nordqvist, whose two LPGA Tour wins came back in 2009, got off to a quick start with three consecutive birdies and said it put her in a good mindset for the rest of the round.
“I always try to put my best foot forward,” said Nordqvist. “I try to be awake when I start on the first tee box. I hit it on the green in two, so it was a pretty easy birdie. But definitely getting a good start sets the pace for the rest of the day.”
Nordqvist was 5-under through 12 holes but picked up back-to-back bogeys after sailing shots over both the 13th and 14th greens.
“I just tried to stay in there after the two bogeys, because I didn't feel like I hit bad shots,” said Nordqvist. “I just got flyers out of the rough.”
The 26-year old bounced back with an eagle on the par 4 15th hole and had a short putt for birdie on No. 17 to go to 6-under.
“Had pretty good yardage (for the eagle) and it was on the top tier, so I just pitched it five or six paces behind the pin and spun back,” said Nordqvist. “So obviously gave me some momentum to finish off.”
Michelle Wie said the set up at the Old Course Pattaya suits the long hitters and said she’s glad to be able to bring out her driver on the majority of holes.
“Almost all of them,” said Wie. “It's definitely one of those golf courses. I don't get to use a lot of drivers during the year. This is one of the few golf courses that I get to just hit driver all the time. So it's fun”
The American had six birdies and a bogey to open up her week and said besides birdieing all four par 5’s, a mid-round snack after the turn may have been the key to her round.
“I birdied all four of the par 5s today, which definitely helps on this golf course,” said Wie. “After 18 I was hungry, so I went to the locker room and got some food from my bag, so I think that helped. Just had like these nuts, like these little nut crunch things. I was thinking about them on the front nine. I was really mad I didn't put them in my golf bag. So I ran up to the locker room and ran back down. Pretty sure that had something to do with the birdie”.
Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park got off to a rocky start to her 2014 season and was 3-over par through her first eight holes on Thursday. The South Korean said she definitely felt rusty coming off the off-season break but turned things around on the back nine. Park would pick up four birdies to finish 1-under par and sits five shots off the lead.
“I think it was just like I didn't have much feeling that it was a tournament because it has been a while since I played a golf tournament,” said Park. “I think I was a little bit nervous. “Bogey, bogey, and, thought ‘yeah, it's a tournament, so I think I should start playing better.’ I think I just didn't realize. I think it was a little bit off today on the front nine, and then I finally realized I was in a real tournament.”
No. 2 Suzann Pettersen fared the best of the marque group on Thursday with a 3-under 69. She sits in a tie for sixth and three shots back. No. 3 Stacy Lewis will be paired with Park again for the second-round after posting a 1-under 71.
Time for a change: Anna Nordqvist’s two LPGA Tour wins came in her rookie season in 2009 and has been trying to get on the winning track ever since. The Sweden native and three-time European Solheim Cup Team member hit a low point after last season that nearly drove her away from the game. Even after 16 top-15 finishes and ending up 20th on the money list, Nordqvist wasn’t happy.
“I was quite disappointed at the end of last year,” said Nordqvist. “Didn't feel like I played bad, but never really got any momentum. I was very determined this off season. I worked really hard. Anyone that's been around me can probably say that.”
“But I just kind of lost the reason why I play golf, the fun of it,” Nordqvist added. “I have good people around me now. They been really helping me to get that inspiration back. I put in all this hard work for a reason. It's been fun. They've been pushing me and definitely been more motivated than before.”
Nordqvist recently made club and apparel changes and said the transition has been easy and paid off more than she thought it would.
“Changed equipment to TaylorMade,” said Nordqvist. “So it's been quite a fun couple weeks with new clubs and new golf ball. It's been fun playing around with that. My short game coach I started working with two, three weeks ago, so it's been fun. Bit of a change, but definitely getting some of the inspiration and motivation back. Felt like at one point last year I was about ready to quit golf.”
Thanks guys: Angela Stanford carded her second career hole-in-one on Thursday in her round of 68 and admitted getting an ace mid round can almost hard to handle. The Texan holed out from 135 yards on the 8th hole with an 8 iron and deservedly flashed the biggest on course smile of the day.
“It’s kind of hard with hole in ones because you do get almost too high and you go to the next tee box and think ‘oh I have to hit another golf shot,’” said Stanford. “It’s hard because it’s like an out-of-body experience. Well for me because I haven’t had many.”
Stanford went almost 13 years on the LPGA Tour without a hole-in-one but now has two in two years. Her first came last season at the Tour’s stop in Hawaii.
The 14-year Tour veteran started cutting back on the number of events and says it hasn’t been challenging to get into tournament mode after extended breaks.
“I am cutting back, but I think that's given me a little more energy,” said Stanford. “I still enjoy to play. I love being out here and playing and competing. But I just don't know if I'm cut out to travel like that. If anything, it's reenergized me. Makes me feel like the tournaments I do play I'm excited to be there.”
Stanford credits weekend games at her home course at Shady Oaks Country Club in Texas for keeping her sharp. She said she’s been playing with the same group of guys for a long time and looks forward to 1:00 on the weekends.
“I'm lucky because I play in the 1:00 at home and those guys keep me on my toes,” said Stanford. “They've had the game forever. It's just on the weekends, Friday, Saturday, Sunday at 1:00. You never know who is going to show up, but it's good for me because the guys play to their handicaps. It's a team. You have to have a couple best balls. So it's good for me. Keeps me in a scoring mode.”
Quotable: “It kind of started a couple years ago. I've always seen Grace Park wear these, and I'm starting to get worried about wrinkles. So like two years ago I told Nike, I want to wear the Grace Park visor. We need to bring it back. They brought it back. This is one of their main hats this year. May be kind of a visor kind of year.” Michelle Wie on her change to the wide-brimmed visor
INBEE PARK, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Q. Slow start. How did you dig out of the hole?
INBEE PARK: I think it was just like I didn't have much feeling that it was a tournament because it has been a while since I played a golf tournament. I think I was a little bit nervous.
Bogey, bogey, and, yeah, it's a tournament, so I think I should start playing better. I think I just didn't realize. I think it was a little bit off today on the front nine, and then I finally realized I was in a real tournament.
So, yeah, just putting and a little bit couple bad drives on the front nine. Back nine obviously everything worked pretty good, so really confident.
Q. Playing off of Stacy and Suzann, they started kind of building up, too.
INBEE PARK: Stacy had I think an up and down day, too. Suzann had pretty consistent day. It was fun playing with those two. I think all three of us played really different type of game today. It was fun to watch.
LEXI THOMPSON, Rolex Rankings No. 9
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome in Lexi Thompson: 4 under, 68. Very solid round to start the week here. Talk about the round. Eagle on the first hole. Can't be mad with that.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, the round started off pretty well for me today. Started off with an eagle, about a four footer for eagle, so just tried to keep that momentum going throughout the whole round.
I had a steady back nine. Two putted a lot. But the course is in amazing shape for us. Just keep giving yourself opportunities.
MODERATOR: Talk about the greens. Everyone says they're in great shape but pretty tricky. Talk about your putting since you've been really improving in your short game.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah. The greens are really tricky out here, the fastest I've played on in the three years I've been here. I had so many putts today I had to play three, four feet out of breaks. Just have to trust your lines and put a good stroke on it.
Q. Everyone says it's a second shot course. You have to be somewhat creative going into the greens. What do you like most about it?
LEXI THOMPSON: I would say it definitely is a second shot golf course. There are a lot of feed offs from the greens, so you really have to place it well on the greens.
I like it because I get it hit driver a lot. I pretty much hit driver on every hole. I think that's advantage an for me.
Yeah, the course is always in great shape like I said, and that's what I look forward to most when I come back here.
Q. On TV, lots of smiling. You're usually in the zone with the intimidation face on. Is that more comfort? Having a good time? What do you feel like in your third year on Tour?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I feel like I am more comfortable with myself out here. Just working on my attitude a lot and just going out and just trying to free swing it. Just you know, I'm playing the game I love for a living and it can't get any better than this.
I had a great group with Lydia and Ariya, both great players.
Q. New caddie on the bag. Talk about your relationship, how you got off to a pretty solid start so far.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, his name a Benji Thompson. This is probably his fourth week. We make a really great team. He has a very cool personality and is really laid back. We always have something to talk about on the golf course to get my mind off the game and keep me relaxed out there.
He also plays golf, so he understands where I'm coming from.
Q. Talk about your relationship with Lydia. I know you guys have become pretty close friends. Talk about having young friends. I know you're mature for your age and you have always had to hang out with older people. Now you have people your own age around you, that has to be comforting and nice.
LEXI THOMPSON: I've known Lydia for three, four years now. She's so sweet and nice. You can never tell how bad or good she's playing the golf course. She's so steady out there, which is very cool to see.
It's very to have a few younger players out here that I played junior and amateur golf with like. It's nice. I have really close friends out here now.
Q. How did you find the weather today? Was it cool?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, the weather was really nice today. It was probably the coolest I've ever played in Thailand, that's for sure. A little overcast. Not much wind. Couldn't get any better.
MODERATOR: International Crown question. You're probably close to a lock new on the team. Stacy yesterday said how much she's looking forward to having you on the team. Last two spots may switch in and out. It's very close. How much are you looking forward to that event, and how closely are you looking at the rankings?
LEXI THOMPSON: I haven't really looked at the rankings too much. I don't want to get myself too wrapped up in it. International Crown, any time I can represent my country is the highest honor. If there is a team event where I can represent my country, that's my No. 1 goal.
I am definitely looking forward to it. Nothing like playing for your country.
ANGELA STANFORD, Rolex Rankings No. 19
Q. Let’s start off with the hole-in-one. 135 8 iron?
ANGELA STANFORD: Yep, that’s my second one. First one was last year in Hawaii. I went 13 years without one and then had two in two years.
Q. How much of a momentum booster was that and coming off a bogey?
ANGELA STANFORD: It’s kind of hard with hole in ones because you do get almost too high and you go to the next tee box and think ‘oh I have to hit another golf shot.’ It’s hard because it’s like an out-of-body experience. Well for me because I haven’t had many.
Q. What’d you think of the course today?
ANGELA STANFORD: The greens seemed to be more receptive than in the past. That probably helped me. I think they’re rolling really well. But I thought with the wind blowing in a different direction than normally I guess.
Q. Anything in the off season change? Anything different? I know you're cutting back on events.
ANGELA STANFORD: Yeah, I am cutting back, but I think that's given me a little more energy. I still enjoy to play. I love being out here and playing and competing.
But I just don't know if I'm cut out to travel like that. If anything, it's reenergized me. Makes me feel like the tournaments I do play I'm excited to be there.
Q. Is it tougher to say, All right, game mode, when you go for bigger breaks?
ANGELA STANFORD: No, no.
Q. Just turn it on?
ANGELA STANFORD: I'm lucky because I play in the 1:00 at home and those guys keep me on my toes.
Q. Same group for a while? Same group of guys?
ANGELA STANFORD: Yeah.
Q. That's great. How long have you guys been playing?
ANGELA STANFORD: They've had the game forever. It's just on the weekends, Friday, Saturday, Sunday at 1:00. You never know who is going to show up, but it's good for me because the guys play to their handicaps.
It's a team. You have to have a couple best balls. So it's good for me. Keeps me in a scoring mode.
ANNA NORDQVIST, Rolex Rankings No. 27
MODERATOR: We would like to welcome our clubhouse leader at the Honda Thailand LPGA. Anna, 6 under today. Solid day of seven birdies, an eagle, two bogeys. Run us through your round to start.
ANNA NORDQVIST: Yeah, today was a pretty good day. The course is not really playing that easy, but I started with three birdies, so obviously got some momentum off the start.
Made a good putt just off the green on 8 for birdie.
Hit a little on nine and it was so fast. Managed par there.
Birdied No. 12, the par 3. Good putt there.
Then a bit to of a flyer on 13. 10 yards more than I expected. So missed a short one for par there.
Then 14 was the same. Just in the left rough. Hit 9 iron and it flew about 10, 15 more than I expected. So I was next to a tree and had to hit left handed, which I haven't really done in a while. It was quite an adventure, but managed to get bogey there.
16 I had 59 yards to the pin, pitched a little bit past, and then spun in the hole. So that was pretty cool to make an eagle there.
Pretty easy birdie on 17.
So overall it was a fun day for sure.
MODERATOR: How important was the eagle on 15 to bounce back after two bogeys? Do you get a little out of sync?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Yeah, I missed a four or five footer on 13, but it was a bit of a slider and the greens are really fast, so if you don't start on the line they're going to take off.
I didn't really hit a bad shot at all on 14, but just a little unfortunate to end up where I did. So definitely to almost get it up on the green there and make a good par for bogey definitely saved some momentum today.
MODERATOR: Started off with three birdies. Is that something you concentrated on, getting off to a strong start?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Yeah, I always try to put my best foot forward. I try to be awake when I start on the first tee box. I hit it on the green in two, so it was a pretty easy birdie.
But definitely getting a good start sets the pace for the rest of the day.
MODERATOR: Talk about your off season and what you worked on, how you felt coming into this season. You had a solid start obviously, and then coming into this week.
ANNA NORDQVIST: Yeah, I was quite disappointed at the end of last year. Didn't feel like I played bad, but never really got any momentum. I was very determined this off season. I worked really hard. Anyone that's been around me can probably say that.
I spent time in the gym trying to get more speed. Changed equipment to TaylorMade. So it's been quite a fun couple weeks with new clubs and new golf ball.
It's been fun playing around with that. My short game coach I started working with two, three weeks ago, so it's been fun. Bit of a change, but definitely getting some of the inspiration and motivation back. Felt like at one point last year I was about ready to quit golf.
MODERATOR: Really? That down. You weren't playing too badly last year.
ANNA NORDQVIST: No, I did get 15 or 16 top 15s i last year, so it was very solid. But I just kind of lost the reason why I play golf, the fun of it. I have good people around me now. They been really helping me to get that inspiration back. I out in all this hard work for a reason.
It's been fun. They've been pushing me and definitely been more motivated than before.
MODERATOR: Friends? Family?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Yeah, I had my friends and family come over to the U.S. to Florida this year, and then I went over to Sweden. So it's been fun just having people that care about me around me.
I have a great coach and a great trainer. They keep motivating me and keep giving me a hard time. Just trying to get better. You know, my caddie has been always supportive last couple months. So I feel like I'm surrounded by great people.
MODERATOR: What is your coach's name?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Jorje Parada.
MODERATOR: How long have you been with him?
ANNA NORDQVIST: I started working with him on the short game after Asia last year, and just a couple weeks ago I started full swing, too.
MODERATOR: And first club change in your career. Pretty big step.
ANNA NORDQVIST: Yeah, it is. Well, everything I had in my (indiscernible) I've been without a (indiscernible) for five years, so it's definitely exciting. A little bit new.
The equipment change, I been working very closely with TaylorMade and they've been really supportive and really helpful. Switch didn't seem as big as I thought.
Q. Could you tell us a bit more about your eagle?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Yeah, just tried to stay in there after the two bogeys, because I didn't feel like I hit bad shots. I just got flyers out of the rough.
Had pretty good yardage and it was on the top tier, so I just pitched it five or six paces behind it and spun back. So obviously gave me some momentum to finish off.
MODERATOR: Big pressure, International Crown. Team Thailand, all four players that are currently on the team are here this week. Team Sweden is very strong. Have you been talking about it at all? How much are you looking forward to that event.
ANNA NORDQVIST: Yeah, I mean, if you're looking at their all roster, Thailand are gonna be a great team. They have great players.
Been talking a little bit with Hedwall about it, but I think as we get closer it's probably going to be a little bit more exciting. For now you want to make the team and represent your country.
MODERATOR: You and Hedwall paired up in Solheim a couple times. No pairings. You guys get to decide the teams, who plays against who. How do you think you'll handle that?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Yeah, I mean, still a couple more tournaments and we'll see who the fourth player will be. I think could be a couple. Depending on who it's going to be.
Obviously had a great run with Hedwall at Solheim, so I would be very excited to play with her again.
MICHELLE WIE, Rolex Rankings No. 60
Q. Started off on 10. Run me through the birdies.
MICHELLE WIE: I hit it in the fairway, 4 hybrid over the green, and got up and down. Putt was about four feet.
15, I hit two hybrid, left rough. Then I hit a 52 to about nine feet.
MICHELLE WIE: Driver, laid up, and then I hit it to like one foot.
Q. That stretch, 18, 1, 2, momentum booster in the middle of the round?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, for sure.
Q. How much do streaks like that get you going?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I birdied all four of the par 5s today, which definitely helps on this golf course. It's just good. After 18 I was hungry, so I went to the locker room and got some food from my bag, so I think that helped.
Q. Pad Thai in your pocket?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, some curry in my pocket.
Q. What did you have?
MICHELLE WIE: Just had like these nuts, like these little nut crunch things. I was thinking about them on the front nine. I was really mad I didn't put them in my golf bag.
So I ran up to the locker room and ran back down. Pretty sure that had something to do with the birdie.
Q. Bogey on 3. What happened?
MICHELLE WIE: Oh, boy. I hit a great driver, I smashed it, and then I just decided to not follow through on my 52 and I flared it right and I didn't get up and down.
Q. What do you like most about course? Kind of set up for big hitters. You said you were using hybrids. How many drivers did you use?
MICHELLE WIE: Almost all of them. It's definitely one of those golf courses. I don't get to use a lot of drivers during the year. This is one of the few golf courses that I get to just hit driver all the time. So it's fun.
Q. Being here in Thailand, you go everywhere. Big Buddha. Jamie says Green Curry Pad Thai, all day every day.
MICHELLE WIE: Oh, yeah.
Q. What's the best thing so far?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, think it's my fourth time here. I love Thailand. The people are so welcoming. Thai food is definitely one of my favorite cuisines. So I just get really excited. I definitely try to get mango sticky rice and Panang curry every night. It's just so good, especially if you like coconut milk.
Q. Greens here rolling pretty purely.
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, the conditions this year are the best I've ever seen them. Fairways are great, greens are rolling great. They're firm, quick. Pretty great conditions this year.
Q. Who did you play with today?
MICHELLE WIE: Jennifer Johnson and Na Yeon Choi.
Q. Visor story. How did that get started?
MICHELLE WIE: Well, it kind of started a couple years ago. I've always seen Grace Park wear these, and I'm starting to get worried about wrinkles. So like two years ago I told Nike, I want to wear the Grace Park visor. We need to bring it back.
They brought it back. This is one of their main hats this year. May be kind of a visor kind of year.
Q. Looking forward to next three rounds. Things you want to improve? Stay the same?
MICHELLE WIE: I think I need to keep taking advantage of the par 5s. That's really important on this golf course. I think my wedges just need to be better.
I missed two greens with wedges today, which is stupid. That needs to not happen. Just need to play consistent, hit the fairways, be on the right side of the green. They're rolling quickly, so you want to keep staying below the hole.