HSBC Women's Champions Pre-Tournament Notes & Interviews

HSBC Women's Champions
Photo Credit: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Four of the world’s top ten women golfers displayed their warrior spirit as they dressed in martial arts attire to launch the seventh annual HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore.

HSBC Women’s Champions
Sentosa Country Club, Serapong Course
Singapore
Pre-Tournament Notes and Interviews
February 26, 2014

Inbee Park, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 3
Lydia Ko, Rolex Rankings No. 4

The LPGA Tour makes its way to Singapore this week for the seventh-annual HSBC Women’s Champions, where 63 of the world’s elite female golfers will compete for $210,000 first-place check and the “Champion of Champions” title.

Defending champion, Rolex Rankings No. 3 Stacy Lewis, faces the challenging task of defending her title against 19 of the world's top 20 players on the Official Rolex Rankings. Lewis is currently in a streak of 13 consecutive top-10 finishes and is coming off a tie for fifth finish at last week’s Honda LPGA Thailand.

The sixth-year LPGA Tour member battled down the stretch in Singapore last year and saw a three-shot lead shrink to one shot with one hole to play at The Serapong Course at Sentosa Country Club. A par on the final hole secured her sixth-career victory and first of the 2013 season.

The all-star line-up this week also features No. 1 Inbee Park and four other past champions: Angela Stanford (2012), Karrie Webb (2011), Ai Miyazato (2010) and Jiyai Shin (2009).


Singapore Showdown:
With a very strong field in Singapore this week, Suzann Pettersen has a chance to unseat Inbee Park as the No. 1 player in the world and for the top spot in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.

Pettersen needs to win and Park needs to finish in a tie for third with two or more players or worse.

Competitive Spirit: Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park revealed that despite what outsiders think about her calm and laid back demeanor, the South Korean is a firey competitor.  

“I think everybody thinks that I'm -- I don't look that competitive, because I don't express my feelings that much,” said Park. “But I think my closest friends and my families can tell that I hate to lose.  So yeah, I think inside, somewhere inside of me definitely has the competitive side of it.”

Park has made it clear that one of her goals is to keep the No. 1 ranking for as long as possible but knows that the possibility of losing it is at risk every week. The 25-year old has held the top spot for 46 consecutive weeks and her confidence is at an all-time high and expects to recreate a streak of brilliance that she had last season.

“I think there is weeks where you really feel good about your game and you think if you can do like a practice round, I think I can win -- and there is tournaments that I feel that way, and such tournaments, such courses that really suits my game and suits my eyes,” said Park.

“I think you definitely get those good confidence moments during your streaks,” Park added.  “I don't know how early it's going to come for me this year, but last year was definitely I was in good streak for two or three months.  Yeah, that's -- you know, what all the golfers I think are trying to get.”         


Warm Welcome:
No. 3 Stacy Lewis received a warm welcome back to Singapore this week as defending champion and had a special message awaiting her at the ninth green when she finished her pro-am on Wednesday.

“It's just the better I play, we go to every tournament and my name seems to be on the pictures, on everything,” said Lewis.  “So it's kind of getting used to that part but it's definitely nice to be back where I won and on a golf course that I'm comfortable with, and you know, we had many fun with the photo call there.  Actually got up in the scoreboard and kind of poked my head out.  So we had a good time with it, and you know, it's just cool to be back and everybody is still kind of congratulating me from last year.”

Lewis has never been one for self-promotion and said she’s still getting used to showing up to events with her image all over the city on posters, banners and billboards.

“Oh, yeah, I critique myself all the time,” said Lewis. “The ones that they have up in the hotel this week are actually more like paintings.  We all look kind of strange to me.  We all have a good laugh about it. Everybody likes to make fun of me about it and things like that, but at the same time, it's cool that, you know, you're on those posters and you're getting recognized, and that means you're doing something right.”

I don't like seeing my picture anywhere, so I probably want to do it all the time,” said Lewis. “I don't know, I guess there's always going to be good and bad pictures…It's part of the deal.”


Chasing History Now:
Stacy Lewis is used to talking about her consistency on Tour and her streak of top-10 finishes but the conversation has now turned to her chasing history. Lewis has finished in the top-5 on Tour in top-10 finishes the past three seasons and led the Tour in 2013. She’s currently in a streak that dates back to the U.S. Women’s Open last July when she finished T42.

The 2013 Vare Trophy winner is now closing in on the all-time record for consecutive top-10 finishes, currently held by World Golf and LPGA Halls of Famer Karrie Webb. Webb had 16 top-10’s in a row during the 1998-1999 seasons.

“I don't really think about it when I'm playing, but do you kind of catch yourself when you're just kind of thinking about years past and what you've done,” said Lewis. “I mean, just thinking about the number of Top 10s I've had over the last 2 1/2 years or so, it's just crazy to even think of to me.  To be close to have a chance to get close to Karrie, one of her records, is pretty amazing.”

Lewis is only in her sixth year on Tour but has already carved herself a legacy on the LPGA. The 29-year respects the history that has come before her and relishes the idea of leaving a legacy after her career is over.  

“I have so much respect for her (Karrie) just that I'm even somewhere close is a good thing for me.  Yeah, I definitely -- when I'm done playing, I want people to remember me.  I want people to remember me for being a fighter and being somebody that never gave up and I think that's what I usually think of.”

Stacy Lewis’ Streak of Top-10 finishes:   13 (2013-current)
July 14, 2013 T6 Manulife Financial LPGA Classic 68-67-67-64—266 (-18)
July 21, 2013 T7 Marathon Classic 70-72-69-64—275 (-9)
Aug. 4, 2013 Win Ricoh Women’s British Open 67-72-69-72—280 (-8)
Sept. 1, 2013 2 Safeway Classic 67-70-65-68—270 (-18)
Sept. 15, 2013 T6 The Evian Championship 69-67-73—209 (-4)
Oct. 6, 2013 2 Reignwood LPGA Classic 68-66-65-68—267 (-25)
Oct. 13, 2013 T6 Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia 69-68-70-69—276 (-8)
Nov. 10, 2013 T8 Mizuno Classic 71-68-70—209 (-7)
Nov. 17, 2013 2 Lorena Ochoa Invitational 72-66-67-68—273 (-15)
Nov. 24, 2013 T6 CME Group Titleholders  71-73-63-71—278 (-10)
Jan. 26, 2014 2 Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic 69-71-68-66—274 (-18)
Feb. 16, 2014 T6 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open 71-69-70-69—279 (-9)
Feb. 23, 2014 T5 Honda LPGA Thailand 71-69-73-66—279 (-9)

 

Nice Balance: Lydia Ko said she has found a nice balance between her professional life and life as a normal 16-year old. The No. 4 ranked player in the world says the nicknames and taglines people give her are the times she feels uncomfortable.

“I know lots of people call me – teen phenom -- and all that,” said Ko. “I'm just Lydia.  I just want to be me and -- oh, now you're a Ko pro, but just call me Lydia, you know.  It's so comfortable in just being you -- that's why I love being home, because my friends, they treat me like any other -- their friend and like a teenager and not, oh my God, it's her, or oh my God, like taking photos.”

Ko said her friends back home in Auckland don’t give her any special treatment and that’s just how she likes it.

“My friend said ‘Actually, should be treating you like a superstar but I'm not going to,’ that's why you've got your friends, and sometimes that's why it might be good to have the sporting life and then you have the private life where you don't need to be out there and play good golf.  You can just be known.”

Picture Perfect: Ko talked about what she missed about school and what she thinks she might study in college and she said she’d love to learn more about photography. She recently talked her mom into buying her a Canon 7d and said she carries it around like her baby. She won’t be giving up golf any time soon for a career in taking pictures but said she really wants to learn how to take good shots.

“Actually one of our courses at school, we kind of have to model an actual photographer, so we kind of have to meet that person and get to know how they take it,” said Ko. “Definitely through that I'll learn a little bit technique and gets tips along the way.”

Sitting in front of a room of professional photographers taking her picture on stage, Ko was asked if she has every asked photogs on the course for tips.

“Well, when I was actually doing that little clip for my turning pro thing, you know, one of the people, the production companies, she showed me around the Canon cameras and that's when I was like, oh my God, I need to get that thing.  Yeah, it's all about quality,” said Ko.

Quotable #1: “So I think I played quite solid last week, considering that it was only the first tournament.  Yeah, I'm happy with where my game is, and especially with ball-striking, I thought -- I was a little bit worried because I haven't played for so long, like maybe I might hit it everywhere.

“But actually it was going in the fairways and greens, so I was really pleased with that, and actually, you know, seeing that really gave me a lot of confidence that because I was a little bit in doubt that if, you know, things I worked on in the off-season wouldn't be showing off but it definitely did last week.” –Inbee Park on her runner-up finish in her first event of the 2014 season in Thailand last week

Quotable #2: “I'm trying to think, it's similar.  A lot of the thing is like it's prize money related, but I haven't been thinking about that when I play.  It's just one shot, and sometimes one shot might have earned you a couple thousand dollars but that's not really what you think on the course.  You kind of want to get in the hole as early as possible and not to make a birdie to get a couple extra dollars.” Lydia Ko on how different playing as a pro has been this season

Need for a Breakthrough in Singapore: Despite her love for the country and first-class hospitality of the event, Inbee Park has yet to have a top finish in Singapore in the past five years. Her best finish came in 2012 with a T25 when the tournament was held at Tanah Merah Country Club. The event moved to Sentosa Country Club last year and Park says the track on the Serapong Course will be a true test of golf for the world’s best players.

“HSBC, I love coming here and I love playing in Singapore and this is such a great event but I've never had really a good result here,” said Park. “I never miss Singapore.  I'm not going to try to push myself so much this week because obviously the golf course is playing quite tough for me somehow, quite tough for me, and I wasn't able to score well, so I'm going to just go out there with no expectations this week and maybe try to get in Top-20 because I've never been in the Top-20 the last eight years.”

Park’s finishes at the HSBC Women’s Champions:

2008 T34
2009 T68
2010 T32
2011 T40
2012 T25
2013 T37

 

INBEE PARK, Rolex Rankings No. 1

MODERATOR:   Thank you for coming in, you had the photo call yesterday, quite a unique experience, probably something you've never done before, being the marshal artiste warrior or whatever it was.  Talk about how much you guys like to do that type of stuff, getting to do a lot of unique stuff off the course.  Do you enjoy it?
INBEE PARK:  Yeah, everywhere we go in Asia, we do something a little bit different.  Last year in China, we wore a Chinese uniform and last week in Thailand we were Thailand, and here we dressed in rare royal dresses.

Yeah, everything that we do, I think it's just very interesting, stuff that we never get to do. I found that it's really fun and they make us -- try to make us pretty, so I think, yeah, I think we can definitely take some fun out of it, and yeah, it's always nice to hang out with other players when we're outside the golf course because we always see each other on the golf course.  I think it's quite fun.

MODERATOR:   You guys shared a few laughs, everybody was cracking up a little bit.
INBEE PARK:  Yeah, it was just so funny, because doing those moves we don't usually do and we looked quite funny.

MODERATOR:   So talk about your off-season, I know last week you mentioned paddleboarding, koalas, you got to do a bunch of cool stuff.  What was your favourite thing to do in the off-season, something that took your mind off and you really, really enjoyed it?
INBEE PARK:  Yeah, I really tried to go to the warm weather, warm weather climate.  So I can practice and actually enjoy some activities in the afternoon.

So that's why I decided to go to Australia with some water and so I can practice in the morning and do something else in the afternoon, like the paddleboarding or surfing or going somewhere nice.

So I just wanted something different last year, and yeah, I think that worked out really good.  I had a trainer and physio there, so it was very good, five-week training, and yeah, I missed a couple of tournaments in the beginning of the year, but I have a lot of tournaments coming up, especially in the middle to the end of the year like Evian and the British, which I really want to do my best in.

So I'm trying to make my body at my best at those tournaments, so I'm trying to, you know, get my condition go good on those tournaments.

MEGHAN FLANAGAN:   You made up for lost time, skipping the first two, you were runner-up last year and said you were pleased with how you played, you were a little rusty at the beginning, really strong weekend.  Talk about that week and how you're going to try to carry over that strong play to this week.
INBEE PARK:  Yeah, the first nine holes of the tournament, I was 3-over and then last three, plus nine holes, I was 16-under par.

So I think I played quite solid last week, considering that it was only the first tournament.  Yeah, I'm happy with where my game is, and especially with ball-striking, I thought -- I was a little bit worried because I haven't played for so long, like maybe I might hit it everywhere.

But actually it was going in the fairways and greens, so I was really pleased with that, and actually, you know, seeing that really gave me a lot of confidence that because I was a little bit in doubt that if, you know, things I worked on in the off-season wouldn't be showing off but it definitely did last week, so, yeah.

MODERATOR:  I wanted to ask you competitively, I know every week you come in and you want to win, you think you can win, but you said yesterday, you're not going to win over tournament and you have to have some expectations lowered a little bit.

What makes you tick competitively when you go out there and you're in the heat of the competition, do you have that fiery kind of competitive spirit that you say, I want to do everything I can to win this event; do you feel that way sometimes coming down the stretch?
INBEE PARK:  I think there is weeks where you really feel good about your game and you think if you can do like a practice round, I think I can win -- and there is tournaments that I feel that way, and such tournaments, such courses that really suits my game and suits my eyes.

But yeah, I think you definitely get those good confidence moments during your streaks.  Yeah, I don't know how early it's going to come for me this year, but last year was definitely I was in good streak for two or three months.  Yeah, that's -- you know, what all the golfers I think are trying to get.

Yeah, HSBC, I love coming here and I love playing in Singapore and this is such a great event but I've never had really a good result here.  I never miss Singapore.  I'm not going to try to push myself so much this week because obviously the golf course is playing quite tough for me somehow, quite tough for me, and I wasn't able to score well, so I'm going to just go out there with no expectations this week and maybe try to get in Top-20 because I've never been in the Top-20 the last eight years.

MODERATOR:   Are you competitive off the course, board games, card games, anything you're doing?  Are you a competitor that you try to win, because you're so laid back in everything else, are you just a laid back type of person or are you competitive?
INBEE PARK:  I think everybody thinks that I'm -- I don't look that competitive, because I don't express my feelings that much.  But I think my closest friends and my families can tell that I hate to lose.  So yeah, I think inside, somewhere inside of me definitely has the competitive side of it.

Q.  How are you feeling ahead of tomorrow?
INBEE PARK:  Well, I practiced today and yesterday and the golf course is playing quite dry, so it's playing a bit shorter than last year.  So I think it plays a little bit to my advantage because I'm not the longest hitter and we are hitting more shorter irons into the green.  So I think, yeah, the course is in great shape and I feel good about the game but like I said, didn't really have a good results in Singapore, so yeah, if I just go out there and just not expect so much, I might be surprised.

Q.  I'm actually interested in, athletes coming into a new year, that it's like -- how much does last year matter and how much do you think, I'm a new golfer, I'm a different player?
INBEE PARK:  I mean, I think almost for everybody, it is -- when you start the new year, you really feel like it's a new beginning, because everything erases from last year.

If you just keep thinking about last year, I did good last year and if I don't do as good this year, I'm not going to be disappointed -- I think the best thing is to forget about last year and just take the good side of it.

Take, I played quite good and I know that I can be the best out here, and just take the confidence out of it and just forget about the results, what I did last year and just starting the year I think that's the best way.

Q.  In the beginning of the year, do players feel that anything is possible?
INBEE PARK:  I think it just really depends on the player where I think people have probably big expectations starting of the year, thinking because they work so hard in the off-season, and they expect a lot from themselves.  Obviously some players, it shows, and some it doesn't.  I think it's just a matter of your personalities.  It's not bad to be confident I think.  I think it's good to be confident in yourself and if you just keep trusting in yourself, I think you'll get better results.

Q.  But is it a nice period, because in the beginning of the year, the first three tournaments, you know there's no real disappointment yet, your form -- by July, things may not be good.  At this moment, you're not really having issues with your caddie, everything just seems good; is it a very nice period of the year to come out because you feel fresh, you feel -- just different?
INBEE PARK:  Yeah, I think feel -- I think all the players feel most fit and most physically strong probably at the beginning of year to the middle of the year.  So, yeah, I think -- I mean, I definitely feel fresh coming into the first couple of events.  My game, sometimes your game might not be not ready because it's only the first couple of events, but obviously you're not expecting yourself to be, you know, really hot and like you're in the middle of the season.

Q.  Any thoughts on the field this year, especially with so many up-and-comers, and the 15-year-old Singapore qualifier?
INBEE PARK:  Yes yeah, every we're the competition is getting stronger and I guess won like three or four years ago, but now I'm pretty much middle to a little bit older and it feels like I'm still building.  I still feel like I'm the youngest one but yeah there is a lot of good, talented golfers out here and that's why we keep working hard because we have to be as fit and be as strong as the younger girls.  So, yeah, we are trying.

MEGHAN FLANAGAN:  Amanda is 15 and just qualified as a 14-year-old.  Where were new your amateur career, what were you doing at 15.
INBEE PARK:  15, I think I was playing junior tournaments and probably like one, two professional events.
MEGHAN FLANAGAN:   So you're getting a little taste of it, so you're kind of in the same position.
INBEE PARK:  Yeah.

Q.  Any advice that you would give her just to have for this week?
INBEE PARK:  I think really just no advice, it's good for younger girls I think, because when they think about it too much, I think that's when it gets complicated.

You know, when they are young and when they have nothing to lose and nothing to fear, that's when they play the best.  So I think just keep their game on and just, yeah, go out there and just don't fear about anything and just, yeah, try to hole everything.

 

STACY LEWIS, Rolex Rankings No. 3

MODERATOR:  How different are these weeks coming back as defending champion, extra requests and things like that, you had a very, very warm welcome.  Talk about coming back and defending.
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, it's just the better I play, we go to every tournament and my name seems to be on the pictures, on everything.

So it's kind of getting used to that part but it's definitely nice to be back where I won and on a golf course that I'm comfortable with, and you know, we had many fun with the photo call there.  Actually got up in the scoreboard and kind of poked my head out.  So we had a good time with it, and you know, it's just cool to be back and everybody is still kind of congratulating me from last year.

MODERATOR:  Great finish last week, extended the nice Top-10 streak to 13, so I had to look up, you have to be closing in on some industry.  Karrie has 16, that's the record, so getting close.
STACY LEWIS:  Why am I not surprised.

MEGHAN FLANAGAN:   Talk about this streak, I know it's always a topic week-in and week-out for you, but you're in the Top-20 going into Sunday, just talk about finishing strong.
STACY LEWIS:  You know, it's just the way I am.  I'm 20th but I still go out there and give it my all and give it 100 percent.  I just can't go out there and not do that.  That's just not who I am.

So I guess that's part of it, and you know, I just was frustrated with my game last week.  I definitely didn't really play very well and Sunday even left some out there.  But I hit the ball a lot better on Sunday and that was encouraging coming into this week.
But definitely kind of frustrated but shows I can still be frustrated and finish Top-5 is pretty good.

MODERATOR:   You shared some late-night bus rides, grinding on the putting green at night, what were you working on between rounds?
STACY LEWIS:  I was just trying to get comfortable.  The greens last week were so fast and had a lot of slope on them so if you didn't get putts started online, you didn't get much done.  It was getting comfortable over the putts and kind of the same thing coming into this week.  The greens are fast and slopey.

This wind, it makes them even harder.  I really just need to get more comfortable over the ball, which I feel like every day it's getting closer but you never really know until you get out there.

Q.  Obviously love this course; any differences since last year?
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, it's pretty similar.  The greens aren't quite as fast as they were last year, which I think is good, just given the wind we are supposed to have all week and that we have had already.

But this wind is plain hard.  It's a thinker's golf course.  You just kind of have to hit it to spots and when the wind is blowing, it makes it twice as hard to hit those spots.  It's playing really tough and I hope we're careful with the greens, they don't get too out of control but at the same time, if you play smart around this course, you can make some birdies.

MODERATOR:  Going back to the Top-10 streak and leaving legacies and writing your name history books, you have Player of the Year and you've been making your own way on the LPGA; do you think about those things, the reputation you'll leave once you finish -- you're obviously still early on in your career but to get your name in record books and have your name next to Karrie and Players of the Year; do you reflect on that?
STACY LEWIS:  I don't really think about it when I'm playing, but do you kind of catch yourself when you're just kind of thinking about years past and what you've done.

I mean, just thinking about the number of Top 10s I've had over the last 2 1/2 years or so, it's just crazy to even think of to me.  To be close to have a chance to get close to Karrie, one of her records, is pretty amazing.

So yeah, I have so much respect for her just that I'm even somewhere close is a good thing for me.  Yeah, I definitely -- when I'm done playing, I want people to remember me.  I want people to remember me for being a fighter and being somebody that never gave up and I think that's what I usually think of.

Q.  Do you feel pressure defending your title?
STACY LEWIS:  I don't think it's too much pressure.  I think I put more pressure on myself week-in and week-out, so I don't think there's much there.  It's really nice -- it's coming back and remembering good shots and being comfortable on a golf course, I think really helps a lot.

So you know, a lot of the tee shots, the girls are kind of asking, what do you do here, what do you do here, and I don't want to give away too many secrets.  I feel like my caddie and I carved out a really good game plan last year and so we'll keep that game plan moving forward.

Q.  Do you have any advice for young golfers like our local qualifier Amanda Tan?
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, for the young ones, I tell them to play a lot of tournaments and get a lot of tournament golf experience.  There are so many kids that they can have good golf swings and have good putting strokes, but it's whether you can do it under pressure.  You know, playing a lot of tournaments and also working on your short game.

Q.  Any one you think can win this competition or we should be watching out for?
STACY LEWIS:  I don't know.  I think right now with the way the Tour is, you look at the three winners we've had this year, everybody is talking about me, myself and Suzann and Inbee, yet the three winners we've had are neither one of us.

There's so many good players now, you've got so many good, young players like Lydia and Lexi, but then Karrie won a couple weeks ago, so on this type of golf course, I think you're going to see somebody with a little bit more experience and somebody that's a little bit smarter.  But you know, other than that, there's so many good players now, it's hard to pick one.

Q.  Do you look at these pictures and think, oh, I don't like my hair in that one, or wish I had done something -- the things that you normally would when you look at a picture?
STACY LEWIS:  Oh, yeah, I critique myself all the time.  The ones that they have up in the hotel this week are actually more like paintings.  We all look kind of strange to me.  We all have a good laugh about it.

Everybody likes to make fun of me about it and things like that, but at the same time, it's cool that, you know, you're on those posters and you're getting recognized, and that means you're doing something right.

Q.  Have you ever felt inclined to sneak in and sort of turn the posters around if you don't like them?
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, I don't like seeing my picture anywhere, so I probably want to do it all the time.  I don't know, I guess there's always going to be good and bad pictures.

Q.  You just get used to it --
STACY LEWIS:  It's part of the deal.

Q.  And you just don't look if you don't like?
STACY LEWIS:  Exactly.  And if you don't like it, you tell somebody and they will never use it again.

Q.  We were in this room last year with you at a press conference, and I can -- well, from my perspective, you seem a lot more relaxed this year.  Off the golf course, do you find yourself, would you say you're different this year from last year as a person or as a player?
STACY LEWIS:  That seems to be a common question around this tournament.  I think you've just -- I've grown a lot in this side of the golf, of the media aspect, of doing things with fans, just being more outgoing.  It's not necessarily my personality to be super outgoing like that, but I've learned that it's kind of part of the deal, and if I have fun with it, usually everybody else kind of laughs and has fun with it, too.

I've just gotten a lot more comfortable being in this position I guess, and I think that's probably what's coming out.

Q.  The other question is much simpler.  We're starting the new year, just three tournaments; as a player with your golf swing, anything in particular you're going to be working on, some of your goals with your golf swing and tournament play?
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, over the off-season, I never really make any huge, big changes.  It's always kind of little -- little things along the way.  We worked on just impact getting a little stronger and the club not flipping quite so much at the bottom.

So really it's just little things, and just -- I mean this week, what I'm working on this week is controlling the ball flight, with this wind, can you hit it high, low, cut and drawing, you've got to be able to hit all the shots.

So that's kind of what I work on every week, really, is being able to hit more shots and just trying things.  I think putting and short game can always get better, no matter how good you play, there's always a few more putts you can make.  It's trying to get the putting more consistent and that's kind of what we're doing this year.

 

LYDIA KO, Rolex Rankings No. 4

MODERATOR:   I heard you had a practice round with Amanda Tan from Singapore, how did that go?  This is her home course.  Did she give you any tips on the course?  How did that go yesterday?
LYDIA KO:  Yeah, we played together.  It was good.  She always was a great player, and she's got that home-course advantage, so yeah, I'm pretty sure she knows the course like the back of her hand and I hope she does well this week.

MODERATOR::   She didn't share any insider tips for you, did she.
LYDIA KO:  No.  (Laughter) Maybe it would have been good.

MODERATOR:   How does it feel not to be the youngest in the field this week?  That's probably pretty rare.
LYDIA KO:  Yeah, feels good.  I had a couple girls similar to my age, but yeah, it's good to have actually someone younger and that doesn't happen too often.  But yeah, it's always good.

MODERATOR:  Now, you have three LPGA events under your belt so far as a rookie.  Give me one thing that surprised you the most so far and one thing that you maybe expected that has happened through those three events.
LYDIA KO:  Nothing really surprised me.  I think I've actually had an advantage by playing 11 tournaments last year.  That's definitely helped.

Yeah, it's been really fun.  It's been all in different countries, Bahamas, Australia, Thailand, Singapore.  It's been really cool, all the travel, and this is my third week in a row, so it's fun.

MODERATOR:  How has the travel been for you? I know that was something coming into this year, thinking you wanted to manage your schedule well and the travel, and these are pretty lengthy trips, and travel can get to people sometimes.  How has travel been for you? 
LYDIA KO:  Nothing really happened.  I felt kind of sick last week in Thailand but everything has been good.  I played with Aza (Munoz) in Australia and she says she takes her Mondays off when she plays back-to-back, so that's great to have a fresh short.

MODERATOR:   Have you done anything cool off the course, anything in different countries that you wanted to do touristy-wise, trying to take advantage of that?
LYDIA KO:  No, I haven't yet.  I managed to stay here for a couple of extra days, so I think I'll do a lot of touristy stuff then.

MODERATOR:  Thoughts about the course?  The Pro-Am, you practiced yesterday, thoughts on the course?  How does it suit your game and what do you think will be key this week.
LYDIA KO:  I think it's pretty tough to be honest.  The greens are slick, like it was last week.  It's really pure.  But the greens are quite big so that makes it definitely harder.

There are fairway bunkers, so hitting my driver -- sometimes if I hit it right or left, hit another club.  It's definitely not an easy course.  My mom said the winning score is like 20-something under, and I was like, wow, is that actually like another golf course?  It's going to be tough and with the wind it's definitely going to be harder.

Q.  Just a general question on your relationship with your parents, how much of a factor have they been in your golf, and how -- are they very involved with your professional career right now?
LYDIA KO:  Yeah, my mom comes with me pretty much every tournament, so she's always there 24/7.  We always get a room together and sometimes have to share beds.  That's the great thing about a mother/daughter relationship.

I haven't seen my dad too often because it's much easier traveling as two, especially the same gender, than having three and dad, and I'm 16 now, I've kind of grown out of having my dad everywhere.  Yeah, I miss him but I have my sister here as well but they are definitely supporting me the whole way.

Q.  Now that you're a professional and playing on the Tour, is there anything about professional golf that maybe you didn't realize existed and how do you take care of that?
LYDIA KO:  Now I'm trying to think, it's similar.  A lot of the thing is like it's prize money related, but I haven't been thinking about that when I play.  It's just one shot, and sometimes one shot might have earned you a couple thousand dollars but that's not really what you think on the course.  You kind of want to get in the hole as early as possible and not to make a birdie to get a couple extra dollars.

It's been really fun and I've been trying to enjoy it and manage myself.

Q.  What, if anything, do you miss about school?
LYDIA KO:  Well, the year before, I did a lot of schoolwork -- inaudible -- so still doing that now.  Yeah, I'm still taking school and this is my last year in high school.  I want to finish it and go to university next year, as well.  So that plan has not really changed.

Q.  Whereabouts are you planning to go to university?
LYDIA KO:  I'm not sure yet.  It might be Korea.  Not really definite.  I've been trying to concentrate more on my high school, finishing all that right now.

Q.  But would it be something you would do mostly online or would you actually go?
LYDIA KO:  I think mostly online.  Golf is my main priority and it you don't play ten tournaments and kind of get to go to school, because everybody is taking the route of turning pro early, so I guess it's mostly doing it online.  I heard that Michelle had to take an exam just before teeing off and stuff.  Yeah, that's what we had in mind before.

Q.  And what would you like to study?
LYDIA KO:  I really enjoy photography, so maybe photography but maybe I'm not good at it, I don't know.  But my mom and dad majored in English language, and yeah, if I go to a Korean school, you get to learn Shakespeare and that's what I've done in high school so I can kind of develop that and could become easier to do.
Yeah, a lot of players do like sports management and something related to the sports.

MODERATOR:   Who is your favourite author?
LYDIA KO:  I don't have a specific one.  If I'm into one book, I read it when I'm having dinner, I read it in the bathroom, I read it everywhere.  If I love it, I'm into it.

MODERATOR:  So once you read it, you start it and you can't stop --
LYDIA KO:  Yeah, my mom sometimes -- right when I'm eating, right when the spoon is going --

MODERATOR:   Are you a Kindle or hard-copy reader?
LYDIA KO:  Hard copy, you kind of read the book once and you never go back to it, you just have so much fun reading it.

MODERATOR:   Last we heard you were going to buy a camera, you were going to make a splurge; did you make the purchase, or no, you haven't yet?  I know you were thinking about it.
LYDIA KO:  I actually did.  I convinced my mother and then I said, oh, let's carry it like my baby -- the thing didn't come with a camera bag so I've been lugging it around.  Luckily my sister bought me a new camera bag, and so everything is fixed and I got something that I wanted.  Quite hard to tell my mom to get me something.

MODERATOR:  What kind of camera is it.
LYDIA KO:  It's a Canon an 70D I think.

MODERATOR:  Would you want to take some lessons or take some classes specifically for that camera?  I know people take them for certain cameras, is that something you think you're going to do down the line?
LYDIA KO:  Actually one of our courses is here, so we kind of have to model an actual photographer, so we kind of have to meet that person and get to know how they take it.  Definitely through that I'll learn a little bit technique and gets tips along the way.

Q.  Do you ever ask the photographers out here for tips?
LYDIA KO:  Well, when I was actually doing that little clip for my turning pro thing, you know, one of the people, the production companies, she showed me around the Canon cameras and that's when I was like, oh my God, I need to get that thing.  Yeah, it's all about quality.
MEGHAN FLANAGAN:  For sure.  That probably helps.

Q.  The talk about you coming on the Tour this season, do you feel a lot of expectations or pressure to perform well this year?
LYDIA KO:  I think so.  I know -- I think because I came actually with the two wins, it was like a bigger thing, and I didn't expect to win those, but those kind of came, and it all happened kind of quicker than what I would have planned a couple years ago.

But yeah, everything is going good, and I've been trying to concentrate on my game.  The end of the day, all I can do is try my best.  Sometimes I'm not going to finish well.  You know, like for Thailand, I shot 2-over on the last day.  I can't play good every day.  You know, I wish I could, to be honest.  I wish I could be up there -- but things don't happen the way you want it to, everything planned out.

Q.  Do you understand that you are a prodigy? And know that you are an influencer in the game at such a young age?
LYDIA KO:  Yeah, I know lots of people call me – teen phenom -- and all that.  I'm just Lydia.  I just want to be me and -- oh, now you're a Ko pro, but just call me Lydia, you know.  It's so comfortable in just being you -- that's why I love being home, because my friends, they treat me like any other -- their friend and like a teenager and not, oh my God, it's her, or oh my God, like taking photos.

My friend said ‘Actually, should be treating you like a superstar but I'm not going to,’ that's why you've got your friends, and sometimes that's why it might be good to have the sporting life and then you have the private life where you don't need to be out there and play good golf.  You can just be known.

Q.  Have you made friends -- and said something really amusing to you about what to do?
LYDIA KO:  A lot of people say, oh, I've had hole-in-ones in mini golf before.  Oh, no kidding.  You've got one -- it's actually so much harder than it seems.  No, I haven't had a hole-in-one personally, so I know what it feels like -- even when I get a hole-in-one in mini golf it feels good.

A lot of people I think they think golf is quite a boring sport.  Actually make an eagle or a long putt, that's when the crowd goes really wild but if you keep hitting fairways and you keep making two putts and keep going with par, sometimes that's good, but maybe really boring.  Yeah, can still play -- that's the uniqueness about golf.

Q.  You're obviously a role model for a lot of teenagers.  I know Amanda Tan wanted to play with you in the tournament.  In Singapore, for teenagers, accessibility is a problem.  But for you, what do you think was the advantages in golf environment for you growing up that helped you in your career and what do you think is perhaps an ideal environment for young aspiring golfers wanting to take up professionally in terms of programs or tournaments or just accessibility, that sort of thing?
LYDIA KO:  There has actually been a couple.  My parents never played golf before I did, so a lot of young kids sometimes if their parents play golf and then they start teaching -- which is good to have that kind of parent support.

But in my case, I think it was actually good that they didn't know so I could start with a coach and I was learning the proper basics.  That's where you kind of start, and obviously there are coaches and they know what they are saying.

Yeah, that's why it was good that they didn't play golf.  You know, they kind of got the coach to teach me the techniques and everything.  I think especially growing up in New Zealand, it's very cheap to play golf there.  Even when I'm home, like at my home club, it's a hundred dollars for the year.  It's a junior membership but for a hundred dollars you can play whenever.  They have got a swimming pool, a gym, for a hundred dollars.  Sometimes one round is more than a hundred dollars.  So it's always great.

It's obviously a little expensive in other golf courses but it's so much cheaper than anywhere else.  I think that's why like Korean winters, a lot of Korean players come over and spend their wintertime in New Zealand doing their practice.  Yeah, I've always loved being in New Zealand, and yeah, also the support I've got from New Zealand golf, High Performance Sport New Zealand has been a huge help.

Q.  Have you met Bob Charles?
LYDIA KO:  I got to play a couple times -- and huge, obviously legendary -- I've got a couple putting lessons from Dave Stockton.  He was talking about what an amazing putter and everything.  A month ago at New Zealand Women's Open, he lives there -- so he's I guess a very inspirational person and a great person, as well as being a great player.

Q.  Did he have any tips for you?
LYDIA KO:  I was struggling with my putting and he told me to never decelerate.  You've got to have a little bit of acceleration or the same speed for you to be confident enough to get it in the hole.

Topics: Park, Inbee, Ko, Lydia, Lewis, Stacy, HSBC Women's Champions, Notes and Interviews [+]

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