Kraft Nabisco Championship First Round Notes and Interviews

Shanshan Feng
Photo Credit: David Cannon/Getty Images

Shanshan Feng of China plays her third shot at the par 5, 11th hole during the first round of the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills Country Club on April 3, 2014 in Rancho Mirage, California.

Kraft Nabisco Championship
Mission Hills Country Club
Dinah Shore Tournament Course, Rancho Mirage, California
Thursday Notes and Interviews
April 3, 2014

Shanshan Feng, Rolex Rankings No. 7, -6
Se Ri Pak, Rolex Rankings No.
29, -5
Michelle Wie, Rolex Rankings No. 38, -5
Angel Yin (a), Amateur Sponsor Invite, -4
Cristie Kerr, Rolex Rankings No. 12, -3
Nicole Castrale, Rolex Rankings No. 92, -1
Inbee Park, Rolex Rankings No. 1, +2

Amy Alcott, Former Kraft Nabisco Champion, +9

Shanshan Feng used seven birdies against one bogey to fire an opening round 66 (-6) to hold a one-stroke lead over Se Ri Pak and Michelle Wie at the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Former champion shares secrets of mission hills with leader Feng
In her opening round, Shanshan Feng was able to get some advice on how to play the course from a legend of the game, three-time Kraft Nabisco Champion Amy Alcott.

“I did play with Amy Alcott today. She’s won three times here in the past, and after my first drive off the first tee I was asking her, I said, can you tell me the secrets about winning here? Because before this year I never did well here. So she was telling me all the secrets,” Feng said.

When asked what the secrets were that Alcott shared Feng jokingly replied.

“Well, don’t ask me what the secrets are because that’s a secret. I’ll tell you maybe after we finish Sunday. But I did learn a lot from her. Last year, the first day I shot 6 over here, and I think that is a very big improvement. I do think that I played really well today and had a great time with Amy. I just hope that I can have three more good days.”

Alcott also spoke highly of the young amateur.

“Well, she’s very polite on the first tee. She said I know you’ve won here three times and you’re I don’t know if she used the word icon or famous, but she said I want to try to learn from you how to win here. She was very sweet starting off, and we were talkative.”

Asked about Feng’s game Alcott said, “She hits it very solid. Just a very, very talented young player. So I was very impressed with her putting and just her overall game, just how she managed herself on the golf course. I look for her to do great things.”

Wie primed for run at first major
After firing an opening round 67, Michelle Wie is in prime position to take a run at her first career major championship.

“Like I said before in the press conference, my goal is to be consistent,” Wie said. “Just trying to keep the same tempo every day. Trying to keep on doing the same things. I think it’s been working so far, so I’m just going to keep on doing that.”

While Wie posted a solid number on the first day she still cautioned about the challenges that Mission Hills presents for players going forward in the week.

“It’s still a tough golf course,” Wie explained. “They moved a couple tee boxes back as well. Mission Hills is still Mission Hills.”

Major Statement
15-year old amateur Angel Yin put together one of the best rounds of the day with a 68. Playing in her second Kraft Nabisco Championship, Yin got into the field as a sponsors exemption.

“I think this course suits me really well just because of the greens,” Yin said. “I really like the greens here, so my putting really is better than any other course I play.”

Last year at 14, Yin made the cut and finished tied for 55th.

A personal grand slam with family on hand
Se Ri Pak is a five-time major champion but the Kraft Nabisco Championship has always eluded the Hall of Famer. Pak is looking to change that this week and take her first dive into Poppie’s Pond.

“This means a lot to me,” Pak said. “The last 17 years I’m waiting for one major to get my own career grand slam, so that’s hard. I mean, every single year I crossed this week. I have always high expectations trying to win so badly and trying to get my own grand slam, which that is not easy.”

Pak got off to a solid start with an opening round 67, to sit one off the lead which will play well with her cheering section that she brought with her to California.

“This week the whole family is in town, so it makes me even more relaxed out there,” Pak said. “My mom and dad, two sisters and my 5 years niece.“

Castrale feeling at home
Nicole Castrale, who fired an opening-round 71 (-1) to sit T14 on the leaderboard, has a special tie to Mission Hills and the Rancho Mirage area as she lives mere minutes from the course.

“Yeah, I would say it took us 11 minutes to get here this morning. So definitely nice to sleep in your own bed,” Castrale said. “I’ve always wanted to play well here. I’ve always thought this golf course set up very well for my game. But, again, I always thought I forced it a bit. Really, the logistics, I would say I don’t really worry too much about getting people tickets and all that. Luckily, my husband, Craig takes care of that and drops them off at will call and does what he needs to. So it’s just good. I have a lot of local support, family support, so it’s nice to always be here.”

Quote of the Day
“Michelle Wie. If she sat next to me and said hi to me, I’d probably run. “

–Angel Yin on if there was a player that she wanted to meet this week but has been embarrassed to approach

The social scene
Michelle Wie (@themichellewie) dedicated her Instagram #TBT this week to her first trip to the Kraft Nabisco Championship in 2003.

“#TBT to my first #KNC: I remember this day like it was yesterday. I was 13 yrs old and played in the final group on Sunday. #2003 #babywie”
-@themichellewie

 

Shanshan Feng, Rolex Rankings No. 7, -5

KELLY THESIER:  We'd like to welcome our current leader Shanshan Feng into the interview room.  A great 6‑under par round, great playing out there.  What really worked well in your round, and what were the keys to being so successful out there on the golf course today?
SHANSHAN FENG:
  Well, I did play with Amy Alcott today.  She's won three times here in the past, and after my first drive off the first tee I was asking her, I said, can you tell me the secrets about winning here?  Because before this year I never did well here.  So she was telling me all the secrets.
           
Well, don't ask me what the secrets are because that's a secret.  I'll tell you maybe after we finish Sunday.  But I did learn a lot from her.  Last year the first day I shot 6‑over here, and I think that is a very big improvement.  I do think that I played really well today and had a great time with Amy.  I just hope that I can have three more good days.
           
KELLY THESIER:  12‑shot improvement, that is a pretty big improvement, I'd say.  When you play with someone like Amy who has been around and done so much in her career, what do you take from when you play in a pairing like that?  What do you watch for?  What did you learn from her over the course of the 18 holes?
SHANSHAN FENG:
  Well, mainly I was really focusing on my game, but at the same time I was really watching how she was dealing with all the tough shots because the greens here are really firm.  Of course, she's not hitting as long as girls like us right now, so she would have maybe woods into the greens all the time.  I was just watching, she didn't hit many greens today, but she saved a lot of up‑and‑downs.
           
The short game is really important, and I would say that she was actually encouraging me.  Like I made a bogey on 15, and she was like, okay, let's make two birdies back in the last three holes.  I was like, yes, ma'am.  Then I only made one, I didn't make two, but I thought that was good enough.
           
KELLY THESIER:  Yes, that was pretty good motivation right there.
SHANSHAN FENG: 
Yes.

Q.  You played this the fourth time you've played the tournament, I think?
SHANSHAN FENG:
  More.  I think I only missed the first year, so maybe six, five or six.

Q.  What is it that you still have to learn that you haven't learned in the past?  Is it just that the conditions change every year or is it the golf course is that tough to read?
SHANSHAN FENG:
  Well, this morning it was playing easier because there was no wind.  This course usually in the afternoon the wind will pick up, so afternoon is actually the big challenge.  Without the wind today the golf course is in good shape.  The pin positions weren't that hard.  We actually had a lot of birdie chances.  I think a lot of the girls will.  So we have three more days, but once the wind picks up, it's different.

Q.  Couple of players have mentioned the pin positions they thought were tough today.  You didn't find them as difficult?
SHANSHAN FENG:
  Maybe I was just being lucky.  Sometimes I think luck is part of your game.  So I think good luck was on my side today.

Q.  When we spoke to you in the past you talked about how you weren't really that recognized back in China and women's golf wasn't that popular.  After defeating Stacy in that match in China, did you find that your popularity had risen or has risen quite a bit?
SHANSHAN FENG: 
Well, I was really surprised when we were playing in Beijing there were so many Chinese people actually that came to watch us.  They were all rooting for me, so I was really excited and surprised.  But I would say there were more people recognizing me and know about golf a little better now, but still it's not that popular as the other sports like maybe tennis or football.  But I do think that it's getting bigger and bigger.  Like any Chinese player can do well at Rio Olympics, I'm pretty sure everything's going to change.

Q.  Before you came to the U.S. for the LPGA, did you speak English or have you learned it totally since you've been here?
SHANSHAN FENG:
  I still don't speak English (laughing).  I'm speaking Chinese.

Q.  But on the golf course, you talk to your golf ball in English.  Wouldn't it be a whole lot more fun to chat with it in Chinese?
SHANSHAN FENG:
  Actually, you know what?  It's really weird.  If I'm talking to my caddie in Chinese because I'm so used to me speaking English on the course.  If you want me to calculate the yardage or wind in Chinese, I actually mess it up, so I don't know.
           
KELLY THESIER:  Is it easier sometimes you think?  Because you've done it so much in English it just makes it way easier to do it that way?
SHANSHAN FENG: 
I think so.

Q.  You have the one major championship already.  Do you focus differently when a major comes around now that you want to get that second one or is it the same focus you had before?
SHANSHAN FENG:
  Well, actually before I won the last major I always thought majors I would have to even try more because they are majors.  I want to play better.  But because of that mindset, actually I never did well in majors until I won.  Because that week I was like it's just one tournament.  It doesn't matter if you fail.  It's okay you missed the cut.  It's just one tournament out of like 30 every year.  So this is what my mindset is right now.
           
I know it is a major.  It's an important tournament to us, but I'm just going to keep doing my same thing, same routine.

Q.  Can you tell us what you shot?  Because all day long it says you were 6‑under, the board said you're 5‑under.
SHANSHAN FENG: 
I made a birdie on 2nd, made a birdie on 7th and 8th, made a birdie on 11th, 12th, 13th, bogey on 15th.  Hold on, no, birdie on 14th.  And then bogey on 15th, birdie on 16th.

Q.  You didn't bogey 1?
SHANSHAN FENG: 
1?

Q.  Yeah, did you bogey your first hole?
SHANSHAN FENG:
  No.

Q.  Okay.  That's what's wrong.
SHANSHAN FENG: 
No, I knocked it really close.  I'll take the par.  It's okay.  I'm pretty sure my scorecard is right, so that's all that matters.  No problem.

Q.  When did you first hear of Amy Alcott and learn about the pond and all that?
SHANSHAN FENG:
  Well, I think it was maybe a few years ago here.  I think Amy was going to play that year.  So I think actually I sat on the same table as her for lunch in the clubhouse.  So that was the first time I actually got to see her and really know about her.  Of course now I still don't know a lot about her, but all I know is she's a legend, and she's a great golfer and she taught me a lot.  She's really nice too.

Q.  So growing up in China, this tournament, did you know about it at all?
SHANSHAN FENG: 
Well, of course, we knew it was one of the majors.  But to be honest, the U.S. Open and the British Open are the two most famous majors.  But I would say a lot more people they recognize the men's golf better in China.  But now since me and actually Janet Lin, this year we have two Chinese girls on the LPGA, and we have no male players on the PGA.  So actually more people are watching the women's golf right now.

Q.  I was going to ask you, I know last year we talked about you had one win in 2012, two victories on the LPGA in 2013.  What you had said was your goal.  Do you have a number in mind this year of what you want?  Is it three?
SHANSHAN FENG: 
It is three (laughing).  I think by the time when you asked me, maybe that was after CME, I never thought about it.  But then I thought about it, and I'm like I won one in 2012.  I won two last year, so everybody has to go forward.  So I'm like okay, I'll set three, because I want to keep improving.

Q.  Are major championships in there or do you have a number for that as well?
SHANSHAN FENG:
  It doesn't matter if it's a major or not.  A win is a win.  I don't care if the purse is only 1.2 or 3.25.  A win on the LPGA is a win.

Q.  Do you think winning last year twice and it came towards the end of the year, how did that change your confidence level in your game?  I know you went in and won in Dubai at the end.  What has that been doing for your game just now getting these wins on your resume?
SHANSHAN FENG:
  Well, I think actually before I turned pro I was always winning like as a junior and amateur.  After I turned pro I was lost for three‑and‑a‑half years.  Then actually after that I think I've won ten tournaments now in three years so far.  So I do think that I know how to win a tournament.  Of course, every win will give me more confidence.

But actually the beginning of this year I was kind of a little lost because I lost a little weight, and then my swing kind of changed a little.  I wasn't swinging very comfortably when we were playing over in Asia.  But I do think that my condition is better and better, and Gary is here this week.  He just fixed my putting again.  So it's good.

Se Ri Pak, Rolex Rankings No. 29

THE MODERATOR:  Good afternoon, everyone.  We'd like to welcome Se Ri Pak into the interview room.  Se Ri, a great 5‑under par round today.  Actually ties your low round at this event.  67.  Take me through the day out there.  What was working really well for you?
SE RI PAK: 
Well, if the scores are low, everything's working well, so actually not particular shot.  But it really was just a solid round today.  Fairways greens always good, always playing for the majors.  The greens got a little firmer, but I got pretty good distance control which helps a lot.  I had a lot of opportunities, missed some putts, but still I'm making great putts too.  So overall today was a really, really great and easy day.

Q.  The conditions seemed to be perfect for scoring.  How different were they today compared to some of the previous days?
SE RI PAK: 
Actually the greens got firmer than the last couple of days when we practiced.  Then, of course, the last couple days have been so windy it's been pretty hard to make a decision what to play, how to play, how to make par.  But what has been perfect helped for such a great day, and fairways greens were in great conditions.  And everybody had a great round, no doubt.
           
KELLY THESIER:  You have a lot of experience in winning major championships.  But this is one of those majors that's so far eluded you.  What would it mean for you to be able to take home a victory here at the Kraft Nabisco?
SE RI PAK: 
This means a lot to me.  The last 17 years I'm waiting for one major to get my own career grand slam, so that's hard.  I mean, every single year I crossed this week.  I have always high expectations trying to win so badly and trying to get my own grand slam, which that is not easy.  It's not easy to get overall, but every single time same thing.  It gives me same thing week to week, year to year, same thing.  Just trying to not think about it just makes me a lot of things going in my head.
           
But this year, I don't know why.  Just maybe the last couple years when I had pretty much all cleared my mind, and out here I was trying to enjoy as much as I could.  And this week the whole family is in town, so it makes me even more relaxed out there.  My dad and friends out here just makes me not too much think about the way I'm really trying to do right now this week.  So that helps a lot.
           
So I said, just no matter what, on Sunday I want one thing goal every year before I retire I'm trying to get this event at least once.  So always bring great expectations, but we'll see.  I just do my best, and like today, just go out and enjoy as I could and play as well as I could.  So then Sunday will happen.
           
KELLY THESIER:  You say whole family.  How many family members do you have here this week?
SE RI PAK: 
My mom and dad, two sisters and my 5 years niece.  She just makes me ‑‑ yeah, it's a lot of work, but it makes me fun.

Q.  You haven't won here, but you have played well here.  I think you've been in the top 20 somehow like 12 times and then the Top 10.  What's stopped you from winning here when you've played well?
SE RI PAK: 
I don't know.  I mean, I think I knew really, really giving myself to pressure heading into this week each time.  Because I said I just ‑‑ first my goal was trying to get to the Hall of Fame, which is the biggest goal I have before I moved to the U.S.  Then everything I've done, everything I make all my goals.  But one thing, the second thing is to have grand slam, my own career grand slam.  It's always so close, and then, you know, just one ‑‑ always one ‑‑ it's not two, not three, just at the last minute it's always hard though.
           
So I guess this week always heading from year to year, I guess it's the same thing.  Just giving too much pressure on myself and too much thinking, too much hard on myself.  Every time coming here, just my game has been totally different.  That's why I haven't consistently played well, especially this week.  But I guess I have a great experience the last 16 years, I guess.  So time to probably go out and play instead of trying to think of what I really wanted.  Just do my best in the week and we'll see for Sunday.

Q.  You're a veteran because you've been around so long, like you said, 17 years chasing this.  But you're still only 36.  You're out there with the girls who are 15 and 16 on the leaderboard these days.  Does that make you think back to your days when you were just coming out here and all the success you had so early?
SE RI PAK:
  Actually, it is.  I know it's been 17 years, but feels like it a couple years, not really 17 years.  I still see the same members here I used to play with.  Not many things have changed.  But the last couple years you see age‑wise it's been totally different than I was first year.
           
First year I was coming out of my 20s, probably the youngest to play on Tour.  Now since like 16 is probably, 15 is already coming out early on Tour.  So that makes a huge difference, but at the same time it just reminds me I was back at that age how I played great and having fun out here.
           
When I play with them I feel like I'm the same as their age, 16, 17 years.  I've never been old, ever.  I say I never feel old, but the difference is first thing in the morning I wake up it's kind of a little different, but when I'm at the golf course, I feel the same.  It doesn't really make a huge difference.  Just go out and work hard together, we play all the time together, seeing them all the time.  So it really doesn't matter.  It probably helps my game a lot because that's a good thought.  We see them, it reminds me of good times at that age, and it just makes me keep going.  It gives me a lot of energy and excitement.

Michelle Wie, Rolex Rankings No. 38, -5

KELLY THESIER:  Good afternoon, everyone.  We'd like to welcome Michelle Wie into the interview room.  Michelle, thank you so much for joining us.  Great 5‑under par round today.  A great start to this event.  Just take me through the day.  We saw some great shots out there, but what was really working well for you?
MICHELLE WIE:
  I just felt comfortable out there today.  I think Duncan and I did a really good job of course management today.  I think he did a really great job.  Just was aggressive on the holes I needed to be and conservative on the other holes.

Q.  We've talked a lot about your great play so far at the start of the year.  These rounds, these great rounds just seem to be coming more consistently for you.  What's been the biggest thing for you in being able to do this day‑in and day‑out so far this year?
MICHELLE WIE:
  I don't know.  Like I said before in the press conference, my goal is to be consistent.  Just trying to keep the same tempo every day.  Trying to keep on doing the same things.  I think it's been working so far, so I'm just going to keep on doing that.
           
KELLY THESIER:  I think everyone's been noting when we're watching you on the golf course, you look like you're having a lot of fun.  Has that been the big difference for you this year?  You just look like you're enjoying yourself.
MICHELLE WIE: 
Yeah, I've been having some really fun groups.  It's really nice to have Duncan on the bag.  He's a really good friend, so it's nice.  We can talk about anything else, not golf.  So it's just fun out there.

Q.  Michelle, can you talk about the difference between being in contention as a young teenager where you don't really kind of know what pressure is and understanding the importance of being in contention in a major as a mature woman who understands how difficult it is?
MICHELLE WIE: 
I wouldn't quite go as far as mature, but I think I'm much more appreciative of it.  I think when you're younger I think I was like, oh, wow, yeah, that's cool.  Then being in contention now I think I'm a lot more appreciative of the fact that I have the chance.

Q.  After you had that great birdie, birdie, eagle, birdie run, you made four really good par saves in a row to keep the momentum going.  Is that finding a new gear in your game?  Is that a new toughness out there?
MICHELLE WIE: 
Yeah, I had that good stretch, and the next couple holes I had some funky yardages.  I was really in between.  It went all towards the hole, but some were short, some were long.  Good short game and made the putts.  Just it worked well today.

Q.  You shot 66 here twice.  This is a 67.  Is this as good a round as you played here or are there other rounds you think you played better here?
MICHELLE WIE:
  I'll take it.  I'll take a 67 here.

Q.  What were the conditions really like?  The rough is down, but the greens sound like they're difficult.
MICHELLE WIE: 
It's still a tough golf course.  They moved a couple tee boxes back as well.  Mission Hills is still Mission Hills where the rough is up or down.  Obviously, it made it a little bit easier having the rough a little bit down.  But it's still a tough golf course.  The greens are really firm.  I was expecting the wind to be a little bit stronger today, so it was a little bit of a treat.

Q.  Karrie was saying the other day that it's harder as you get older and you experience failure, because then it gets into your head and you develop fear, whereas you have no fear when you're young.  Have you found that to be the case?  Is that what makes you more appreciative of rounds on days like today?
MICHELLE WIE:
  Yeah, I totally agree with that.  I think when you're younger you're kind of fearless.  You don't know what failure is.  I've definitely had my ups and downs.  My downs have been down.  But at that I'm just so grateful.  I'm so grateful to have rounds like these.  I'm so grateful just to be here.  I'm grateful that I can do what I love to do.
           
I had a blast today, and I think you just have to get over your fears and you have to face them straight on.  You can't really run away from them.  You just have to face them straight on.

Q.  Michelle, David was saying that if you look back at your record from last year, the Solheim Cup since then, you've been playing well building up to this.  Can you revisit what the Solheim Cup seems to do for you?
MICHELLE WIE:
  It just ‑‑ I don't know.  There is something so special about the Solheim.  I think it just really brings out something so different in me that I don't have in the other tournaments.  I play harder.  I just want it more.  I don't know.  I think I'm so nervous, I think the fact that the talk about failure and facing your fears straight on, I mean that first tee shot, everything about Solheim, you're just a nervous wreck all week.
           
In hindsight, it's like is this really fun?  At the same time when you hit that good shot and you face your fear, I think it really brings confidence to myself that I can really do it.  I think it's definitely a confidence boosting week.  I know it was a tough Solheim last year, but at the same time I really felt like I played hard and hit a lot of good shots.

Q.  You've weathered a lot of criticism about the putting stance, and obviously you've kind of gotten the last laugh as well as you're rolling it.  But everybody has attempted to notice some adjustments.  We've gone from the table top, drafting table to now somewhere in between.  Are you ‑‑ is this an intentional change?  Is it just something that you're out there and trying to get to where you feel comfortable with it?
MICHELLE WIE: 
I mean, it moves.  Sometimes I think it's just what I feel comfortable with that day.  Sometimes it's a little bit higher feels comfortable.  Sometimes I want to touch my toes when I putt.  So it really depends on what day it is and what I feel comfortable.

Q.  Does drafting table seem like a good thing for you, as we know your artist skills?  Does that seem like a good fitting description?
MICHELLE WIE:
  I don't know.  It still shocks me every time I see it on TV, so I can only imagine.

Q.  Are there one or two specific fears you've had to face down on the course, maybe even today?
MICHELLE WIE: 
I think failure.  I think just not doing well.  Just kind of letting myself down, and you just kind of have to go out there and accept that you're nervous, accept that there is a chance.  But just go out there and do everything that you need to do.  If you kind of do the things that you need to do and check things off, you'll be fine.  I've kind of been telling myself that, yes.

Q.  There was a 15‑year‑old in here earlier today who said that you were the player she'd always looked up to, and if you sat down next to her and said hi, she might run away.  Does it seem that long ago that you were that person or does it really seem a lifetime ago?
MICHELLE WIE: 
It's crazy.  It's pretty insane.  These girls are starting to make me feel really old, and I'm not old by any means.  But it's fun.  I just have a lot of great memories, and it's kind of cool to see these young kids come up and get to play in this event.  It's just cool to see.

Q.  What would have made you turn around and run when you were 15 years old?
MICHELLE WIE:
  Oh, I don't know.  I think I was star struck a lot of times.  You know, my first time here I was just so excited about the whole like food area.  That's real really all I cared about when I got here.  But out on the range, I was like oh, my God, and hitting behind Meg Mallon and hitting behind Beth Daniel.  She kind of scared me a little bit when I first came out here.

But even today, even so, I've gotten to know a lot of players.  But at the same time I'm still hitting behind.  When I hit balls next to Karrie or get to play with her and the older players, it's still pretty cool.

Angel Yin (a), Amateur Sponsor Invite, -4

KELLY THESIER:  Good afternoon, everyone.  We'd like to welcome in 15‑year‑old amateur Angel Yin into the interview room.  First off, Angel, congratulations.  A great 4‑under par round today, sitting up there near the top of the leaderboard.  You have to feel pretty good about that round you were able to put together today.
ANGEL YIN:
  Yeah, thank you.
KELLY THESIER:  What were the keys to you playing so well today?  What was really working well in your game?
ANGEL YIN:
  I think it was the approach shots and my putting.  I was staying calm and making my strokes.  I wasn't too fast and just staying in my tempo.
           
KELLY THESIER:  Last year you got into this event by qualifying through the junior qualifying events.  This year you got a sponsor invite.  But last year you made the cut at the event, finishing tied for 55th.  What is it about this golf course that seems to suit your game and how have you been able to play so well out here?
ANGEL YIN: 
I think this course suits me really well just because the greens.  I really like the greens here, so my putting really is better than any other course I play.
           
KELLY THESIER:  For all of these media members that might not know you very well, tell us a little about your game?  What are the strengths of your game?
ANGEL YIN:
  I hit it really far.  My short game is better than my other game, but putting is my weak point.  But here I can actually make my weak point kind of my strength too.
           
KELLY THESIER:  I know you played with Katherine Kirk today.  How did you two feed off of each other today?
ANGEL YIN:
  It was just really a huge honor to play with her, because I watch her on TV every day, every LPGA event.  Also the day before I was playing with her, I was eating lunch with her, and she said hi to me, I got too nervous to say hi back, so I looked away.  But she was really nice.  She was really nice.

Q.  Last year you qualified on Tuesday and played here on Tuesday.  This year you've known you were going to play for a little while.  Does it feel a little different coming in this year than it did last year?
ANGEL YIN:
  Yeah.  I don't feel tired as last year, because last year I was really tired.  I can see the course better because I get to play a few practice rounds and get to know the course better.

Q.  Last year when you teed off on Thursday, had you seen the golf course?  Did you get to play a practice round between Tuesday and Thursday?
ANGEL YIN: 
Yeah, I was able to play a few practice rounds, 9 and 9.  9 in the afternoon after I finished my first round at the KFC Junior Challenge early morning.

Q.  Does it feel not easier, it's never easy out here, but does it feel more comfortable?
ANGEL YIN: 
Yeah, it feels more comfortable.

Q.  Can you talk about your decision to try to qualify for the U.S. Open a few years ago at 13 and what made you decide to enter the field?  And how playing in that tournament helped prepare you for the Kraft?
ANGEL YIN: 
Playing the U.S. Open, you mean playing in the U.S. Open qualifier?

Q.  Yeah.  What made you sign up for that at such a young age?
ANGEL YIN:
  It was hosted at my home course Industry Hills, and I just felt like I should try it out to see what's up with the older kids.  I don't know, play against them.

Q.  Were you surprised that you made it?
ANGEL YIN: 
Yeah, I was really surprised.  I didn't know I could play that well.

Q.  So what did you learn from playing at Blackwolf Run about yourself and about your game?
ANGEL YIN:
  That off the tee I was still a bit rough going left and right.  I couldn't hit it on the fairway.  So I started to fix my swing more to make it more accurate, straight, precise, and now that's helped me a lot.

Q.  How far do you hit it off the tee now?
ANGEL YIN:
  270, yeah.

Q.  Doing well here last year and this year, do you think you kind of rise to the occasion or does the big stage not even faze you, you play your own game?
ANGEL YIN:
  I just play my own game.

Q.  Again, kind of following up on what Larry said, this year, knowing you were going to play, what changed in your approach to preparing for this?
ANGEL YIN: 
Last year I didn't think I was going to play because the week before I was playing at a junior tournament Longbow and I had missed the cut and it was just terrible.  I wasn't playing well, so I just came here to take the experience and learn.  But I got in, so it was pretty exciting.

Q.  Lastly, two bogeys today, but you followed them both up with birdies.  How are you able to put those behind you so quickly?
ANGEL YIN:
  When I made bogeys, I didn't really notice I was making bogeys.  I just maybe I made a mistake, but my coach always taught me to think positive, so I think that helps me a lot.

Q.  You live in Arcadia?
ANGEL YIN:
  Yeah.

Q.  And you go to Arcadia High School?
ANGEL YIN:
  Yeah.

Q.  What year are you in there?
ANGEL YIN:
  2017 graduation year.

Q.  That makes you a what?
ANGEL YIN:
  Freshman this year.

Q.  You're a freshman.  Did I hear your mom is your caddie?
ANGEL YIN
:  Yeah.

Q.  What is her name?
 ANGEL YIN:
  Michelle.

Q.  Getting off to a fast start like this, what is your mindset to try to do well for the next three rounds?
ANGEL YIN: 
Just shooting even is my goal.  Yeah, I don't know.  I really don't know.  I'm not thinking too far ahead.

Q.  Angel, you talked about being nervous just saying hi to Katherine.  Do those same nerves carry over to the first tee or does it not faze you to play in an event like this with so many different pros?
ANGEL YIN:
  Not saying hi, it was pretty bad, but on the tee I wasn't as nervous.  I maybe felt more comfortable.  But she's really nice, so I think I felt more comfortable because of that.

Q.  Do you play on your high school golf team?
ANGEL YIN
:  No.

Q.  When you go back to school after playing in a major championship, what kind of reception do you get and what kind do you expect?
ANGEL YIN:
  Nothing much, just going back, the same.  I don't know.  I really don't talk about golf with my friends, which is really surprising, right?  Is that surprising?  I don't know.
KELLY THESIER:  Little bit.  Maybe a little bit.
ANGEL YIN:  Okay.  I just try not to talk about golf.

Q.  You didn't just play here last year, you made the cut?
ANGEL YIN
:  Yeah.

Q.  Were you surprised that you made the cut last year?  I mean, you say you didn't play well coming in, but you played pretty well for 72 holes.
ANGEL YIN
:  Yeah, I was pretty surprised I made the cut.  I didn't know I was going to make it, but I made it.

Q.  What changed between the previous week and making the cut here?  I mean, that is a pretty big deal not playing well in a junior tournament and then making a cut in a major?
ANGEL YIN:
  I don't know.  Just when I missed the cut in the junior tournament, I just needed to stay more low key, and just one step at a time.  Not thinking too far ahead, but just focusing on my own game.

Q.  You said earlier that Katherine made you so nervous you couldn't respond to her.  Is there a player in the field, that I imagine a top player might make you even more nervous.  Is there someone you wanted to meet this week that you've been embarrassed to approach?
ANGEL YIN
:  Michelle Wie, yeah.  If she sat next to me and said hi to me, I'd probably run.  Yeah.

Q.  How long have you been watching her play?
ANGEL YIN:
  Ever since I started playing.  No, that's too early.  I don't know.  I don't really remember, but I've watched her ever since she started playing on the PGA.

Q.  When did you start playing again?
ANGEL YIN:
  6.

Q.  Obviously, you talked about the solid round you had today.  You haven't played this course much.  Did you get some practice rounds in this week or were you just relying on what you remember from last year of the course?
ANGEL YIN: 
I definitely had a few practice rounds in to know the course better.  The last time I played here was last year.  It's been quite a while, so I want to refresh my memory this week.

Q.  What did you take away from a couple of those practice rounds that you were able to use today?
ANGEL YIN:
  Better course management, where to lay up the ball so I don't meet trouble.

Q.  You went through the qualifying process and Monday qualified for the Kia and played last week.  So you've been playing at the highest level of competition more continuously I would think than you have before.  Has that helped you feel you can play your best this week?
ANGEL YIN:
  Yeah, last week was the first time I played a tournament in like two weeks, I think.  I got really nervous.  The first hole I picked up the ball on the fringe and got penalized, which is pretty bad.  I was just a bit more nervous.  This week I wasn't as nervous like today.

Q.  Do you think having played last week and going through the qualifying and being qualified has helped you be less nervous this week?
ANGEL YIN
:  Yeah.

Cristie Kerr, Rolex Rankings No. 12, -3

KELLY THESIER:  Good afternoon, everyone.  We'd like to welcome Cristie Kerr into the interview room.  Cristie, great 3‑under par round today.  Talk about the round.  What was really working well for you out there today?
CRISTIE KERR:
  Well, I played really well.  I kept it together.  I hit a lot of bad shots out there, actually, and recovered well.  I kept my calm and made some big par putts when I needed to.  The course is not playing really easy.  It's playing longer, and a lot of tucked pins out there.
           
KELLY THESIER:  Were there any putts that kind of got you going?  I watched one long bomb that you seemed to be making.  But any big ones that you can really focus on that were critical?
CRISTIE KERR: 
I made a lot.  I saved par on 10.  I saved par on 6.  Made some nice birdie putts.  I putted really well today, and that kind of kept me in it.  My coach is here, so I'll get to work with him on the range after.  Hopefully I'll be a little more consistent with my ball striking the next three days.

Q.  Five Top 5 finishes here, including a best runner‑up in 2009.  You seemed to play well at this event almost every year.  What is it about this event that seems to suit your game, and what would it mean for you to make that jump on Sunday?
CRISTIE KERR: 
I love this golf course.  My coach and his family live here, so I come to Palm Springs a lot and get to play this course a lot.  It's just a demanding course.  Even with little rough on the golf course, it's still demanding.  It's still a test and it's a major.  So it's a fun event, and I like the tough events.  I don't want to get ahead of myself on Sunday, but obviously it would be great to be wearing that bath robe after.

Q.  You mentioned the rough and the pin placement out there today.  Had a couple of people tell me that the pin placements are borderline insane on some of the holes out there.  Does it seem like maybe they're doing something different or is it just on Thursday and you would have expected this on Saturday anyway?
CRISTIE KERR: 
That's a good question.  They've been tucking the pins a lot more this year than I've probably ever seen.  Even last week they put the pins on some kind of shady areas with the slopes just short or behind the hole, like last week.  Like the pin on 3 today, it doesn't matter if you hit a pitching wedge, it would be hard to get to, and we're hitting 6 and 7‑irons in.  So the pin on 1 is like two yards from the right side of the green.  I mean, there are a lot of really tucked pins out there.  Do they have to be that severe?  Maybe not.  But they're probably compensating for the fact that there's not much rough.

Q.  That was the next question.  Is the rough down?
CRISTIE KERR: 
Yeah, there were a couple pins I didn't think they needed to put, especially on a Thursday, but it seems like overall this year they've been putting on the first two days some of the weekend pins.  So they seem even more tucked than they are, but it's a major, so they want it to play tough.

Q.  How long was your putt on 17?
CRISTIE KERR: 
I left it as close as you can get it to the hole, first of all.  It had to be 30 feet, I think.  It was uphill right‑to‑left.  I had made that putt before in a previous year.  It's a good pin.  It is tucked, but that is usually a pin we see on Sunday.

Q.  You've had several close calls here.  Where does this tournament rank in terms of the one you want the most?
CRISTIE KERR:
  Pretty much is the one.

Q.  Is there a shot or a hole that you think back on of one you wish you could get a mulligan?
CRISTIE KERR: 
No.  I mean, well, obviously there are, but this is 2014 already, so just got to stay in the present and just play the course as well as I can.  I've got a little extra advantage, I think, on the greens this year because my caddie, Mark Wuersching, he has the AimPoint stuff, and he has the Greens Book.  But I don't get caught up in the numbers, but it has ‑‑ it's a little bit more of an idea of where the break will be in the slope, and whereas in years past, I think maybe I've hit a lot of good putts and misread a lot of putts.  So I definitely made more putts today having him on the bag and having him with all the preparation work that he's done.

Q.  So you trust him then and what he advises?
CRISTIE KERR:
  Yeah, and then I see the Greens Book too.  So definitely.  He's proven to me in the last four to five weeks that I can trust him implicitly, and usually when things are off, it's me that's thinking off.  He's rock solid.

Q.  Probably a lot of people wondering how you would come out and play this year with your heart really divided the way it is for the first time.  Can you just speak to the challenge of that?
CRISTIE KERR:
  I think it was tough overseas.  But it was a lot of new things too.  I had a new caddie and I was struggling with my ball striking.  I had recently just switched to Ping irons and wedges.  You know, they've definitely been there more for me and more consistent.  It was hard the second week in Singapore and nothing went right.  As soon as I got home and made the switch to the new clubs, it just seemed like the stars started aligning and things with Mark started working better.
           
I like where I am right now.  I like how I feel.  I'm not putting any extra pressure on myself because I have my son and my husband with me.  It's fun.  It's really fun to go home and just have him on the carpet, smiling and laughing and kind of his latest thing is he's kicking his legs like he's in a pool.  It's kind of cute.  So it's kind of fun to have them with me, and it's been easier to get away from golf, I think, having them with me.

Q.  (Indiscernible)?
CRISTIE KERR
:  Yeah, he was Phoenix, Kia, and he's here.  He's probably going to go to a lot of tournaments.  I don't know if he'll go to Evian.  We're thinking of bringing him to the British, but definitely not Asia.  It's too long a trip.

Nicole Castrale, Rolex Rankings No. 92, -1

KELLY THESIER:  Good afternoon, welcome to the Kraft Nabisco Championship.  Like to welcome our first guest from round one, way to get off to a tough start, Nicole Castrale, shot a 1 ‑‑ under 71 in the first round.  What was working well in your game?
NICOLE CASTRALE: 
I stayed really patient out there.  Being from here I think I tend to force it a little bit and always try to play well instead of letting it come to me.  I hit a lot of fairways, a lot of greens, missed a lot of good birdie opportunities on the front nine today.  Stayed patient and made a couple on 11 and 12 and just kind of hung in there.  Missed a few fairways, but got it back in play and was still able to save par.  It's a great golf course.  One of the best golf courses we play all year.  It's just round one, but it's nice to start under par.

Q.  You talk about being from here.  You literally live just miles down the road, am I correct about that?
NICOLE CASTRALE: 
Yeah, I would say it took us 11 minutes to get here this morning.  So definitely nice to sleep in your own bed.

Q.  When you have a tournament that's that close to home and it's a major championship how much pressure does that add to you?  Do you think about it more?  Do you want to play better here because of that?
NICOLE CASTRALE: 
I've always wanted to play well here.  I've always thought this golf course set up very well for my game.  But, again, I always thought I forced it a bit.  Really, the logistics, I would say I don't really worry too much about getting people tickets and all that.  Luckily, my husband, Craig takes care of that and drops them off at will call and does what he needs to.  So it's just good.  I have a lot of local support, family support, so it's nice to always be here.

Q.  How are you feeling?  I know you eight months ago underwent hip surgery.  You've been back so far this year, you've been playing well.  How are you feeling overall?  How has that impacted?  Is the game different now with having a healthy hip?
NICOLE CASTRALE:
  I would say it's been very different.  Good and bad at times.  I feel really good considering it was just about seven months ago I really didn't think I'd feel this good at the beginning of the season.  I would say I'm probably about 70%, health‑wise, which I feel like I'm about 200% compared to how I was playing last year.  I would say things have changed.  I now have a right hip that works, so it's nice.  I've been able to pick up some speed, which is good, so I'm hitting further off the tee, which is always a good help, which also leads to a little more inconsistency just because I have a little more speed.  Sometimes I'm a little more erratic.  So I've been trying to work on keeping it more in play.

Q.  How significant is it that you are able to play in three consecutive weeks at this point in the recovery, if you will?
NICOLE CASTRALE:
  I would say when we sat down when I was about done with rehab, right about the start of the new year, we looked at it and said very unlikely that I would play Phoenix, Kia and here.  We thought for sure that I'd be in a lot more pain than I'm in now.  That I wouldn't have the endurance.  So luckily I had played well enough last year that I was still able to get myself into Thailand and Singapore.  So those two were a real test to see how my hip held up, and when I came back from those two events, I felt great.  So we said, let's go.  Let's play all three.
           
Sitting here right now, it was a good choice.  Like I said, I'm not in much pain at all.  There might be a slight amount of fatigue.  But after everything I went through, those four months of rehab, I'm very pleased to where we're at right now.

Q.  Surgery was what month, August?
NICOLE CASTRALE: 
September 4th.

Q.  And you didn't touch a golf club until January?
NICOLE CASTRALE:
  Maybe December 28th.  So almost January 1st.  No, we wanted to give myself a chance to get my hip to where I wouldn't have to come in and start babying shots.  I trained extremely hard in Phoenix where I had last time at Fischer Institute and had a great team behind me.  Honestly, after all of this, I feel like I've come back stronger, which I wouldn't have guessed when I had surgery.  So, like I said, I feel good, and have a great group of people behind me.  I'm just trying to move forward and keep getting better each week.

Q.  You're kind of the queen of rehab.
NICOLE CASTRALE:
  I know.  I think I'd be a physical therapist in my next life.

Q.  But you're also kind of known to be a little bit hard on yourself on the golf course when you're not doing just what you expect to do.  How difficult is it to be kind to yourself and still be competitive?
NICOLE CASTRALE: 
You know, these first four events that I've played, I've had a lot of good things, and I've hit a lot of good shots and saw really signs of playing really well.  I've also had the flip side of it of hit some shots and just kind of where did that come from?  So we knew that I was going to have to be very patient coming back from this surgery just because I basically have a new hip and it's a whole new dynamic.  My golf swing is just different than it's ever been which is a good thing.  So patience is definitely, I've been working on it.  And coming into a major, that's good.
           
KELLY THESIER:  Most people in this room know that you're a mom and you travel a lot.  What's that difference meant in your golf career?  You've gone through a lot with injuries in your career, but what's being a mom in your career mean now?
NICOLE CASTRALE: 
It's the best thing to be able to go home and she could care a less what I shoot.  Whether I play good or bad, she just wants to ‑‑ she grabs golf balls out of my bag, and she's always like where did daddy go?  So to her, golf is irrelevant.  She knows I do it, but to be able to go home and sit on the couch and watch Thomas the Train or Dora The Explorer, that is the best part of the day.
           
KELLY THESIER:  For you, it's such a family out here with Craig, your husband being your caddie, and you guys travel with Eleni, how does that help having that family atmosphere?  It's different sometimes than some players who can get away at times, but family is always there for you.
NICOLE CASTRALE:
  Family is always there, and I've always grown up in a very tight family.  So that's always been very important.  You know, it's hard.  You can't quite devote as much to golf as maybe you would in the past.  Luckily I have a great team around me, so they're always like go do what you need to.  But still first and foremost I'm a mom, so there is that time that I want to spend with her.  You just have to balance it.
           
Juli Inkster is a perfect example of being able to balance it and still be a Hall of Famer.  She's one of my close friends out here.  So I've learned a lot from her.  You know, we live a pretty great life to be able to go out here and play golf for a living and still have a family on the side.  We're pretty fortunate.

Inbee Park, Rolex Rankings No. 1, +2

Q.        How would you assess how things went for you today?
INBEE PARK:  Today was probably a little bit disappointing today.  The pin positions were very tough for the first day.  Half of the pins, we couldn't go at the pins.  There were very tough pins out there.  I just didn't give myself a lot of opportunities.  Obviously, the opportunities I had, I didn't make the putts.  So it took me a while to make a birdie.  Birdie on the 18th, so it's just hopefully a better day tomorrow, and hopefully I can hole some putts tomorrow.

Q.  How frustrating is it knowing the success you've had here a year ago that you just couldn't get it going in what seemed like pretty good conditions?
INBEE PARK:
  Yeah, there was no wind; it was perfect scoring conditions today.  Just the pins were a little bit tough, but obviously I could have shot under par out there, but just a few putts didn't go in.  I need to hit more fairways, and more greens, and got to hole some more putts.

Q.  You said that you're really pleased with your ball striking this year, kind of waiting for your putter to get hot.  How is your putter coming along?
INBEE PARK
:  It wasn't a good putting day to day, obviously.  I tried a new putter today, and I'm trying.  First time I tried the thick grip was last week on Sunday.  I felt comfortable over it.  I tried it this week, and obviously today wasn't the best putting day, but I haven't been putting good with any putter, so I'm just going to try to stick with this putter.  Yeah, I just don't know what is wrong.  It just doesn't seem to like the hole.

The way I'm striking the ball, I'm still pretty happy with the way I'm striking the ball.  Not as good as last week.  Last week was probably like very good ball striking, 100% out of 100.  So this week, even last year here I struck the ball well, but I'm probably striking the same way this year, but the putting is the difference.

Q.  So you're using a new putter today for the first time?
INBEE PARK:
  I used it last Sunday.

Q.  Where did you get it?  Did you pull it out of the closet?
INBEE PARK:
  I actually got one this week, earlier this week.

Q.  Tee to green you feel like everything's okay?
INBEE PARK: 
Yeah, it looks all right.  Just like ten footers, within ten‑footers, you know.  I tend to hole maybe two or three a day during last year's rounds.  But this year I'm lucky if I make one within five feet.  So, it's just hard when you can't pull anything, and obviously you're going to the green you're very good.  You're striking the ball well.  But on the green every time you're disappointed.  So it's just hard to get that rhythm going for 18 holes.
           
Obviously, with the good ball striking, you have to make one or two mistakes.  That gives me a bogey, so that's just very tough to get it up‑and‑down because my putting is not going.

Q.  Did you use the same putter for all three of your major wins last year?
INBEE PARK:
  Yeah.

Q.  What was it?
INBEE PARK:
  A Sabertooth, Odyssey, yeah.

Q.  How many have you used since then?
INBEE PARK:
  How many putters have I used?

Q.  Yeah.
INBEE PARK
:  I've used a couple.  I've tried a couple other putters.

Q.  Last year?
INBEE PARK:
  Last year to this year, yeah.  Later in the year, yeah.

Q.  What are you using right now?
INBEE PARK
:  Right now is a Jailbird.

Q.  Is it just a matter of well, it's not really working so I'm going to try another one?  Is it sort of just searching for one that works?
INBEE PARK:
  Yeah, I'm just searching for one that works because I haven't really been putting well for a while.  I'm just not comfortable over that putter, so I just wanted to change.  Yeah, so hopefully it gives me a little different feeling and a little bit of confidence with the other putter.


Amy Alcott, Former Kraft Nabisco Champion, +9

Q.  So you played with Shanshan.  Just kind of anything that you noticed that stuck out to you about her character, about her game, anything like that?
AMY ALCOTT:
  Well, she's very polite on the first tee.  She said I know you've won here three times and you're ‑‑ I don't know if she used the word icon or famous, but she said I want to try to learn from you how to win here.  She was very sweet starting off, and we were talkative.
           
We talked about a lot of things, and I gave her some various little tips along the way about making sure she drank a tremendous amount of water because we're in the desert.  It's a desert course, and she needs to keep herself hydrated.  Sometimes that's just as important as how you're playing so that you have good mental clarity.  But we just exchanged thoughts, just kind of just in general.  I was talking to her about a little bit about her equipment and how far she hits the ball.  She was excited to be playing in the Olympics, because I told her I was going to be ‑‑ I am designing the golf course for the Olympics with Gil Hanse, my partner, so she said she was very excited about the possibility of playing golf in the Olympics.
           
For me, I wanted just to see this young generation of players up close and personal.  Not only that I love playing in this event, but just to be a little more up close and personal and just see what a powerful player she is, how she swings within herself.  She doesn't try to overpower the ball.  She hits it very solid.  Just a very, very talented young player.  So I was very impressed with her putting and just her overall game, just how she managed herself on the golf course.  I look for her to do great things.

 

 

Topics: Kraft Nabisco Championship, Notes and Interviews

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