HSBC Women’s Champions
Sentosa Country Club, Serapong Course
Third-Round Notes and Interviews
March 1, 2014
Karrie Webb -11, Rolex Rankings No. 7
Angela Stanford -10, Rolex Rankings No. 19
Azahara Munoz -8, Rolex Rankings No. 32
Teresa Lu -8, Rolex Rankings No. 53
Paula Creamer -7, Rolex Rankings No. 11
Morgan Pressel -6, Rolex Rankings No. 42
After a day that saw several players jockeying in and out of a share of the lead, No. 7 Karrie Webb took back control on the back nine to maintain her lead at the HSBC Women’s Champions. Webb sits atop the leaderboard at 11-under par after a 2-under 70 on Saturday and leads American Angela Stanford (69) by one shot. Spain’s Azahara Munoz (67) and Teresa Lu (70) of Taiwan sit in a tie for third at 8-under par and are three shots back.
Webb got off to a slow start in the third round and had pars on her first nine holes until a bogey on the par 4 10th hole. The World Golf and LPGA Halls of Famer broke her birdie drought on the par 3 14th when she hit her tee shot to three feet. Webb said she was pleased with the round despite having to grind out pars for the first half.
“It was a pretty solid round really,” said Webb. “I didn't probably hit it as good as I would have liked but I felt like I had a lot of in between numbers today and I really had trouble a few times picking the right club. So probably more poor decision making rather than bad swing. I only made one bogey out of all of that, and yeah, the front nine had played a little bit easier for me this week and it didn't play as easy today, but I got through it at even par and you know, I finished off strong the last five holes, which you know, really makes the round look really good.”
Azahara Munoz and Paula Creamer moved into a tie for the lead at 8-under par, each with birdies on the par 5 12th hole. But Webb’s strong finish which included three birdies in her last five holes pushed her out in front again. Webb’s birdie on the 14th got things started, but said her three-foot birdie putt was harder than it should’ve been. Playing partners Angela Stanford and Teresa Lu both stuck their first shots for tap ins.
“I had to work on my putt,” said Webb. “They didn't have to. And that was my first birdie of the day, so I was making sure it went in.”
Webb said patience on the Serapong Course at Sentosa Golf Club was critical on Saturday and said she was happy with how she handled herself throughout the round.
“Just even when I was not giving myself a lot of good birdie opportunities early on, I had to tell myself, it's Saturday and there's plenty of golf left to be played and just be patient and fortunately I listened to myself for a change,” said Webb.
Stanford was within two shots of the lead the entire round and shadowed Webb’s birdies on Nos. 14, 16 and 18 to finish with a 69 and one shot back. The Texan said that it’s difficult to want to keep track of the leaderboard considering the number of established players making a charge at the top.
“I think you want to finish strong either way,” said Stanford. “And you know, I think you can look at a leaderboard at this tournament, but it's just a bunch of people. I mean, so it's really not worth looking at it. You just know a lot of people are going to be at the top.”
Munoz shot the round of the day with her 5-under 67 and moved from a tie for ninth into a tie for third. No. 2 Suzann Pettersen shot 2-under 70 and is six shots off the lead in seventh place at 5-under par.
From around the world: With an influx of Asian-born winners on the LPGA Tour over the past few seasons, it was eye opening for some to see the first three winners of the 2014 season hailing from three different continents, not including Asia. Jessica Korda of the United States, Karrie Webb of Australia and Anna Nordqvist of Sweden have picked up the first three wins of the year. Asked if she thinks it could be the end of a dominating stretch by Asians, Angela Stanford said she typically doesn’t look at her fellow Tour mates based on their nationality.
“I don't see other players as where they are from I guess until we get to the week of Solheim Cup,” said Stanford. “But I think, you know, I think the Solheim Cup, because it's been better and the competition has been better the last couple years, that has something to do with -- the Europeans are playing better and it's forcing the Americans to play better. I think just everybody helps everybody. Karrie has been around so long, she is the bar.”
Stanford attested to the talent on Tour and how it comes from all corners of the world. She said it’s not the flag the players represent that motivate players but the level of play each player brings.
“I think everybody pushes everybody and I don't think players see it as, Asians or dominating or Europeans or the Americans,” said Stanford. “That's the good thing about our tour is we have celebrities from all over the planet it seems like on this tour and I think everybody pushes everybody. I don't think players see it as they are from so-and-so. It's just another player and everybody is trying to beat everybody.”
Good frame of mind: Azahara Munoz earned her first LPGA Tour win at the 2012 Sybase Match Play and instead of making drastic swing changes to help break back into the winner’s circle, Munoz said she just needed more frequent sessions with her coach of three years, Marcelo Prieto.
“I used to work to try to swing a little bit but now I've almost given up on it; my swing is my swing,” said Munoz. “I just try to make it work. Obviously I know I could make it perfect, but I've been swinging like this for so many years, so I just try to, with what I have, just click on little things that work for me.”
Prieto is the Spanish National Team coach and Munoz said she went eight months last year without seeing him.
“I think last year, I made the mistake of not seeing my coach for like eight, nine months and I was really struggling,” said Munoz. “At the end of the year I go to see him quite a lot. We were going to make sure we see each other every five, six weeks max. This off-season I went home and took a couple weeks off but then I tried to see him at least once a week, even though I wasn't practicing, at least I wanted to see him; so when I get back to the States -- because obviously he's back home. And then he's been already a couple of times already to Florida to see me, so I think working with him quite a lot consistently has been really helpful.”
The frequent visits have gotten Munoz off to a great start in 2014 and the Spaniard is coming off two consecutive T11 finishes in Australia and Thailand.
The 26-year old said she’s not dwelling on the fact that she didn’t pick up a win in 2013 and said a really terrifc week paired with a little luck pushes people these days into the winner’s circle on the LPGA Tour.
“No, obviously to play good, you have to play really good that week and kind of be lucky that no one else plays that great,” said Munoz. “There are so many good players out here. So obviously I want to get my second win -- it's not something that really upsets me. I'll be really happy when I do or if I do. But you know, like I just want to be happy and have a good time out there, and whatever happens, happens.”
Munoz also has a new caddie, Johnny Scott, on the bag and has given the veteran looper much credit to keeping her in a good state of mind on the course. Scott previously caddied for Laura Davies and I.K. Kim.
“It's really good,” said Munoz. “We talk at the end of last year but I wanted to finish the year with Tim because I knew I wasn't going to work with him anymore, so we wanted to finish the year. We started in Bahamas, and so far he's really good. He's a really good caddie. He's really funny. He keeps me loose out there and we have a good time.
Caddie of the Year: It was no surprise that the caddie who looped during six wins and three major championships in 2013 was honored as the HSBC Women’s Champions Caddy of the Year. Brad Beecher, who has been caddying for Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park since her rookie year in 2007, received his award on Friday night at the annual HSBC Caddy Night in Singapore. The Gold Coast, Australia native stuck with Park through her winless streak after the 2008 U.S. Women’s Open and has played a huge role in Park’s success over the past two seasons.
Park considers Beecher to be a great friend and stayed with him during her off-season training this past winter in Australia. During her Rolex Player of the Year acceptance speech, Park made it known how important Beecher’s support has been to her.
“He’s much more than just a caddie for me, he has been one of my best friends throughout the many years I have been on the tour,” said Park. “Brad has been next to me when I had to make tough decisions on the golf course. I cannot count how many times he saved me from taking poor shots.”
But it was Beecher’s night on stage and when Park was asked to come up and say a few words about her caddie, she joked about his precise organizational skills on and off the golf course but quickly let Beecher have the limelight. She left the stage with sincere words.
“This is his moment,” said Park. “He deserves this.”
Quotable: Angela Stanford on her strategy for tomorrow’s final round:
ANGELA STANFORD: I'm going to send Webbie a six-pack tonight. (Laughter).
KARRIE WEBB: I'll probably drink one and go to sleep.
MEGHAN FLANAGAN: Like to welcome Karrie Webb and Angela Stanford. Karrie, 70 today,11-under, leading Angela by one. Talk your round, I know a little bit of a slow start, I think not too many smiles on the front line but looked to pick it up on the last final five holes.
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, it was a pretty solid round really. I didn't probably hit it as good as I would have liked but I felt like I had a lot of in between numbers today and I really had trouble a few times picking the right club.
So probably more poor decision making rather than bad swing. But I managed to, I only made one bogey out of all of that, and yeah, the front nine had played a little bit easier for me this week and it didn't play as easy today, but I got through it at even par and you know, I finished off strong the last five holes, which you know, really makes the round look really good.
MEGHAN FLANAGAN: Same for you, front nine was a little off as well, strong finish, were you looking at the leaderboards at all thinking, I need to finish out on a strong note?
ANGELA STANFORD: I think you want to finish strong either way. And you know, I think you can look at a leaderboard at this tournament, but it's just a bunch of people. I mean, so it's really not worth looking at it. You just know a lot of people are going to be at the top.
MEGHAN FLANAGAN: Karrie said yesterday these tournaments after re-pairing have a weekend feel on a Thursday and Friday, and Saturday almost felt like a Sunday with everybody charging. Did you feel like it was almost like a Sunday-type atmosphere?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, I think similar to yesterday, just with the re-pairs.
Just even when I was not giving myself a lot of good birdie opportunities early on, I had to tell myself, it's Saturday and there's plenty of golf left to be played and just be patient and fortunately I listened to myself for a change.
Q. Can you tell us about the conversation on the 14th tee after you hit that trio of shots around the flag?
ANGELA STANFORD: I don't know if we talked. Everybody just kind of walked to the green. And I was doing something so I didn't even realize --
KARRIE WEBB: I don't think we realized we were that close. I didn't realize that it happened --
ANGELA STANFORD: I didn't realize we were that close.
Q. Yours was 18 inches?
KARRIE WEBB: No, it was about three feet probably.
Q. Did you feel a long way away compared to her?
KARRIE WEBB: I did. I had to work on my putt. They didn't have to. And that was my first birdie of the day, so I was making sure it went in.
Q. Can you maybe tell us a little bit about your recollections of the playoff a couple of years ago at Tanah Merah, why it is Singapore seems to bring out the best in you?
ANGELA STANFORD: Well, first, I enjoy being here. I've said over and over, it's one of my favorite places outside of the states to play at; the sponsor treats us awesome, we stay at a great place, just has a home-like feel. It's pretty laid back and it's just a fun city to be in.
The playoff, you know, I think my mind-set, the whole time was I just want to be the last one standing. So I just kept getting the same tee shot, and that's a hard hole that 18th over there, so I just kept -- I just said, I'm going to be the last one standing. I'm not going to make the mistake. So I just kept hitting the same shots over and over and over.
Q. Have you had a similar feeling this week about being the last one standing?
ANGELA STANFORD: You know, this course is very different. And yeah, you want to be the last one standing. But this course is different for me. I have some challenges on this golf course that I didn't over there. So I have to say in the present and I have to hit one shot at a time.
Q. You said you made some poor decision-making today, but at the same time you were potentially looking at a wire-to-wire victory, so do you feel dominant or just a case of making less mistakes than the rest?
KARRIE WEBB: I don't think I feel dominant. I don't think this course of makes you feel comfortable enough to say that. I think, you know, I've just -- when I say poor decision making, you know, when I'm in-between clubs, I've picked the wrong club and didn't trust that maybe the shorter club was the right club, and probably playing a bit too safe at times. But in saying that, I managed to hit some really nice chip shots today and get myself out of trouble. And you know, it's a comfortable feeling to know that if you do miss a green that things have been going all right in your up-and-down stats that you can get the ball up-and-down and it's not too much damage.
Q. How important do you think the birdie on the final hole was in the context of today and the tournament? And also can you talk about your hat.
KARRIE WEBB: Well, the birdie on the last, it was important just for me for momentum. Whether I had made my putt or not, I would have still been tied for the lead. But just for momentum-wise, I hit a really good tee shot off the tee there and my bunker shot wasn't as great as I would have liked, but a very confident putt which gives me good feels going into tomorrow.
The boxing kangaroo, I don't have a hat sponsor, and I'm a pretty proud Aussie, so a few years ago decided to put that on my hat until someone gave me some money to put something up there.
Q. You've had many years of Asian players dominating; do you feel with the start of this season, is there a sense that maybe the Asian domination is over and there is a new cycle coming up, particularly with some of the more senior players?
ANGELA STANFORD: Who was that to? (Laughter).
Q. Both of you.
KARRIE WEBB: Well, you were looking at Angela.
ANGELA STANFORD: I struggle with this question, because I think as a player, I don't see other players as where they are from I guess until we get to the week of Solheim Cup. But I think, you know, I think the Solheim Cup, because it's been better and the competition has been better the last couple years, that has something to do with -- the Europeans are playing better and it's forcing the Americans to play better. I think just everybody helps everybody. Karrie has been around so long, she is the bar.
KARRIE WEBB: I'll remember that.
ANGELA STANFORD: I think everybody pushes everybody and I don't think players see it as, Asians or dominating or Europeans or the Americans. That's the good thing about our tour is we have celebrities from all over the planet it seems like on this tour and I think everybody pushes everybody. I don't think players see it as they are from so-and-so. It's just another player and everybody is trying to beat everybody.
KARRIE WEBB: I agree. (Laughter) he r.
MEGHAN FLANAGAN: From the past list of champions, very, very impressive list of players who have won here, obviously you two have won here. Angela, your last win was at Singapore at a different course. What do you think the testament is of this tournament producing such acclaimed players -- winners.
ANGELA STANFORD: You just have to be on your game, because I mean it's a limited field but anybody can win. I'd like to think anybody can win any week on our tour but when you only have 60 players, anybody can win. So you just have to bring your A Game every day.
MEGHAN FLANAGAN: Keys for tomorrow? I know you didn't want to reveal any secrets but -- I guess I'll try.
KARRIE WEBB: I think I'll stick to the game plan I've had the last couple of days and trust that I can hit the shots and give myself plenty of opportunities and try and make a few.
ANGELA STANFORD: I'm going to send Webbie a six-pack tonight. (Laughter).
KARRIE WEBB: I'll probably drink one and go to sleep.
Q. Nice round of 69, a good number of birdies for you.
PAULA CREAMER: Yeah, I did. Unfortunately I had a couple bogeys to back that up, but I did, I played really well. I hit the ball a lot better today than I did yesterday. I just missed it in a couple wrong spots. You know, the tee shot on 18 for some reason, I think I've hit it in that bunker every single day so hopefully tomorrow I can give myself a chance to go for it in two.
Q. You hit some particularly good long shots as well, your hybrids, 15 you saw made a birdie on the hardest hole on the golf course.
PAULA CREAMER: Yeah, 15 and 17 is playing long, too, the par 3 for us, it was straight into the wind and I put that hybrid in whenever it's really windy out. I use it a lot at the British Open. I love that club, it's one of my favourites. It's a good distance and we've had a 190-shot on the last couple of holes.
I don't hit driver that often out on this golf course. It's all about placement out here and giving yourself as many opportunities as you can and eliminating those big numbers and sometimes you're just going to have a longer shot in, and kind of suits my strengths. I have to kind of think around this golf course, but one more day left and hopefully I can go out and play some good golf.
Q. You had a good finish here last year.
PAULA CREAMER: I did. I really enjoy this golf course. I have a lot of great fans that come out and watch, and it's just tricky. The wind completely turned out there the last hour and you have to be aware of it, and you know, it's a really packed leaderboard, but you can't control everybody else. You just have to go out there and take care of your own business, and I'm really looking forward to the challenge tomorrow.
MEGHAN FLANAGAN: It's my pleasure to welcome Azahara Munoz, fantastic third round, 67, just two shots off the lead. You have to be very pleased with your moving day, obviously took most advantage of it.
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Yeah, I played really well. I gave myself a lot of opportunities, and I made really nice putts for par, especially on 17, because that would have left me with a bad taste. Overall I'm really happy and played the course really well. Just made a little mistake going in the water on 13 but other than that, I couldn't have played any better.
MEGHAN FLANAGAN: You went birdie, bogey, birdie, bounced back really nicely on 14, really let you finish off the round strong.
AZAHARA MUNOZ: I think so, because sometimes you're really upset about things and sometimes you don't. I hit it in the water, but I actually hit a good shot. Just took a huge bounce to the right. I didn't get upset at all. I just made a bogey.
On the next one, I was completely calm and I've been playing good. I actually almost made a hole-in-one on the next one. I guess I was lucky so I didn't get too upset about it, so that helped me.
MEGHAN FLANAGAN: Karrie said yesterday in tournaments like this when you get re-paired after every round, this almost felt like a final day with everybody charging at the lead. Did it have a Sunday feel? Seemed like everyone was in the zone and charging up the leaderboard.
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Yeah, everybody is playing really well which I think is going to be lots of fun for tomorrow. But I looked at the leaderboard a couple times, because they are almost everywhere, so it's impossible but I try not to look so much, so I didn't really know how everybody was doing.
MEGHAN FLANAGAN: Are you always a non-looker?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: I used to more, and now I try not to look so much.
Q. What are your feelings about tomorrow going up against Karrie Webb with all her experience?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: I'm just going to try to keep it as a normal day. I've been playing really well and putting really well. It's a new day. You never know what's going to happen. I have no expectations, so I'm just going to take it as it comes, and obviously Karrie is such a good player and she's in the Hall of Fame, but you know, I'm just going to try to have a good day out there, hopefully it's good for everybody else, too.
MEGHAN FLANAGAN: You're coming off two tied for 11ths in the past two events, playing very well, playing very solid all around. Any key to the strong start to the season? I'm sure you did a lot of off-season training. What was the key to get off to a strong start.
AZAHARA MUNOZ: I think last year, I made the mistake of not seeing my coach for like eight, nine months and I was really struggling. At the end of the year I go to see him quite a lot. We were going to make sure we see each other every five, six weeks max. This off-season I went home and took a couple weeks off but then I tried to see him at least once a week, even though I wasn't practicing, at least I wanted to see him; so when I get back to the States -- because obviously he's back home.
And then he's been already a couple of times already to Florida to see me, so I think working with him quite a lot consistently has been really helpful.
MEGHAN FLANAGAN: What have you been working on the past months or so, anything specifically.
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Nothing specific. I used to work to try to swing a little bit but now I've almost given up on it; my swing is my swing. I just try to make it work.
Obviously I know I could make it perfect, but I've been swinging like this for so many years, so I just try to, with what I have, just click on little things that work for me.
MEGHAN FLANAGAN: What's his name?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Marcelo Prieto. He's the Spanish national coach for the amateurs --
MEGHAN FLANAGAN: How long have you been with him --
AZAHARA MUNOZ: -- I've known him for a long time but when I was on the Spanish team, there's only so much you can work in tournaments, because he wasn't my coach. But now this is my third year that we've been working together, or fourth -- third or fourth, I'm not sure.
Q. Which of the men has he worked with?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: He works with the ladies amateur team. He also works with Belam (ph) also.
Q. As an amateur, what were your strengths and are they the same today?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: I think so. I think my strength has always -- I don't want to say this, but I normally don't get into too much trouble. I hit a lot of fairways and then I hit a lot of greens, so I give myself quite a lot of opportunities.
As soon as my putter gets going a little bit, normally that's when I score low.
Q. And do you stick with the same putt error do you change it a lot?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: My putter, I used to stick to it more but I changed last year and then at the beginning of this year after Bahamas, the PING rep called me and said they got this new putter that they thought I would really like and he sent it to me and just put it in play. I'm one of those that doesn't really care what I'm playing with. I'm like, well, if he thinks it's going to work, I'll put it in and I really like it, starting in Australia. It's the new PING putter.
MEGHAN FLANAGAN: New caddie on the bag --
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Yeah.
MEGHAN FLANAGAN: -- how is that transition going? How did you guys get set up?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: It's really good. We talk at the end of last year but I wanted to finish the year with him because I knew I wasn't going to work with him anymore, so we wanted to finish the year. We started in Bahamas, and so far he's really good. He's a really good caddie. He's really funny. He keeps me loose out there and we have a good time.
MEGHAN FLANAGAN: What do you think is going to be the key for tomorrow on this course?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Just keep patient. There are quite a few birdie opportunities, but you can get yourself in a lot of trouble if you really want them really bad. So I'm just going to try to keep myself calm and be patient and just play the golf course.
MEGHAN FLANAGAN: I have one follow-up, first win in 2012, I know a lot of commonality now is people get one win and it's tough to get that No. 2, and went with a winless streak for a little bit to No. 3. Have you been tinkering on what you need to do for No. 2? Has that been something you've been really prying on.
AZAHARA MUNOZ: No, obviously to play good, you have to play really good that week and kind of be lucky that no one else plays that great. There are so many good players out here. So obviously I want to get my second win -- it's not something that really upsets me. I'll be really happy when I do or if I do. But you know, like I just want to be happy and have a good time out there, and whatever happens, happens.
Q. More than, the 70 puts you right in contention going into the final day?
MORGAN PRESSEL: Thanks. It was a good day out there on the golf course. Every day I've plugged along and gotten a little bit better, working on a lot of different things and I feel like every day I'm learning a little bit more, and it's nice to be in contention on Sunday.
Q. What in particular are you working on?
MORGAN PRESSEL: Oh, my goodness, a lot of different things. I've really just been trying to get into better positions with my golf swing and I changed my putting grip a little bit on the second day which really helped. I didn't putt very well the first day. So it was a lot of different things, I don't know where to start.
Q. Hard to do mid-round or mid tournament?
MORGAN PRESSEL: I've been tinkering the last few weeks so it's been nice to continue to play well and I feel like I'm gaining on it and hitting it better. I still didn't hit it as well as I would have liked today but I have some great new Callaway equipment in my bag this week and at the start of the year, and the new golf ball is a real game changer for me. I really enjoy playing it, and I think it's part of the reason why I've been playing a little bit better the beginning of this year.
Q. Terrific to see you back in the fine form that you played with in the Stanley Cup, but 2014, do you think this is going to be a good year?
MORGAN PRESSEL: I feel like I'm in a different place. I feel a little bit calmer on the golf course, and I just need to put myself in contention more often and just enjoy being there.
Q. Birdie on 15 --
MORGAN PRESSEL: I don't want to hit that shot in again because that worked out perfectly for me and made a nice putt there. What a tough hole, but birdies the last two days, so I'm happy with that.
Q. Talk us through your round, how was it?
TERESA LU: I think I played it pretty good, compared with the day before, I hit my ball straighter. So I think it's good.
Q. And you're, what, 2-under for today?
TERESA LU: Yes.
Q. How did you find the conditions?
TERESA LU: It's still difficult. The pin position, some of the pin positions are so difficult, so yeah, had to really be careful.
Q. Pleased to be here in Singapore?
TERESA LU: Oh, yes.
Q. Do you like the course?
TERESA LU: Very much. This is my third -- fourth time here, and still find really relaxed in Singapore.
Q. Plan for tomorrow?
TERESA LU: Just go for it.
Q. Any particular aspect of the game that you're going to concentrate or work on for tomorrow?
TERESA LU: Still my swing because I changed my swing a little bit so sometimes I hit a little poor shot but yeah, getting more and more.