North Texas Shootout Presented by JTBC
Las Colinas Country Club
Pre-Tournament Notes and Interviews - Tuesday
April 29, 2014
The LPGA returns to the Lone Star State for the second annual North Texas LPGA Shootout Presented by JTBC.
In the initial year of the event, Roelx Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park was able to outlast Carlota Cigonda thanks to a four-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole. It was Park’s third of her six victories in 2013.
“Obviously it’s always great to be coming back as a defending champion and obviously having really good memories on the golf course and the area,” Park said. “And yeah, it’s just lovely to come back and try to enjoy and try to do the same is obviously very tough, but I’ll try to do the same this week.”
The Shootout has drawn a solid field including recent Kraft Nabisco Champion and Rolex Rankings No. 6 Lexi Thompson.
“Well, this golf course seems to be playing a little different this year. It’s not as firm as it was last year, so there’s a few different clubs or how you play it into the green,” Thompson admitted. “But the course is in great shape for us again and this is such a well run tournament and being the second year for it, I think all of us look forward to playing in it every year.”
This week at the North Texas Shootout Presented by JTBC, Lexi Thompson will return to action for her first tournament since making the leap into Poppie’s Pond after winning the Kraft Nabisco Championship for the first Major Championship of her young career.
“Well, I got a few texts, like Nancy Lopez texted me which always means a lot. She’s been a huge idol of mine. I actually got a letter from Arnold Palmer congratulating me. So that meant so much to me, just always looking up to him, what a huge idol he is in the game of golf and what he’s done for the game. So it means so much to me, just to have those people watching me and supporting me.”
While she has not competed in the past two events, Thompson has confidence heading into the week thanks in large part to her positive approach to the game.
“I’m going into it with the same attitude this whole year as just trying to focus on attitude going into every event positively,” Thompson said. “I think that’s what helped me out the most at Kraft Nabisco going into it with a positive attitude and being confident. I’m still just going to go out, have fun and be relaxed out there. And I think that’s when my game shows the most.”
Despite not competing at LOTTE and Swinging Skirts, Thompson has kept herself busy away from the course doing a media blitz which included stops by Morning Drive, SportsCenter and SquakBox on CNBC. Additionally, Thompson traveled across the Atlantic to the Puma headquarters, in Germany, for a promotional shoot with other Puma athletes, including Usain Bolt.
“It was a huge honor,” said in reference to spending time with Bolt. “Just to meet with him and hang out with him, we actually flew privately to our other location for the commercial, and it was so much fun. He’s such a cool guy, very laid back, and always joking around. But yeah, it was a great experience, just to spend some time with a big time athlete like him.”
INBEE LOOKS FOR TEXAS TWO-STEP
The North Texas Shootout will mark Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park’s third tournament this season where she comes in as the defending champion. While Park has yet to win in 2014, she has been around the top of the leaderboard throughout the season including top-5 finishes in her last two events, including a T4 last week despite battling illness.
“Yeah, I was really sick last week, and you know, the finish last week was actually very good finish, you know, considering how bad I was feeling,” Park admitted. “Yeah, definitely feeling a lot better than last week. I wouldn’t say I’m like 100 percent back to normal, but 70, 80, so hopefully by the week starts I’ll be 100 percent and ready to go for this week.”
While Park is focused on her health and game this week she is also looking forward to the week off next week so she can move into her new home in the Las Vegas area.
“I think I’ll be just, you know, using my credit card a lot next week so I better make some money this week,” Park joked.
Paula Creamer withdrew from this week’s North Texas Shootout early on Tuesday. Creamer shared the news via her official twitter page:
“Unfortunately I withdrew from North Texas today. After playing all 9 LPGA events this year, I need to rest and refocus! #listentingtomybody”
WIE STRESSES CONSISTENCY
Michelle Wie has been one of the most consistent players on the LPGA Tour this season, not finishing outside of the top-16 in any of her eight tournaments.
“The No. 1 thing that David and I have been working on in the off season, the main goal this year is consistency,” Wie explained. “I just want to keep improving a little bit every week and just trying to be more consistent with my game, hit more fairways, hit more greens, make more putts. Just overall just keep getting better.”
Wie will look to improve upon her showing last year at this event when she finished in a tie for 56th and was cut after the third round in the shootout format.
“I think we (Michelle and her caddie Duncan) changed a couple of game plans, positions off the tee boxes, aim wise,” Wie said. “I think last year I just underestimated the sloppiness of the fairways. I think we would just try to land it in certain spots and hit it to the right places.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I think I’ll be just, you know, using my credit card a lot next week so I better make some money this week,”
–Inbee Park on buying a new house and planning on moving in next week.
THE SOCIAL SCENE
Several players were on-hand to take in the Texas Rangers vs. Oakland A’s game last night. Cindy LaCrosse took to Twitter to joke that the game served as a welcome dinner for this week’s tournament which she playfully renamed the Stanford Lang Piller Classic, presented by Lewis and Futcher in reference to Texans Angela Stanford, Brittany Lang, Gerina Piller, Stacy Lewis and Katie Futcher.
“At the welcome dinner for the Stanford Lang Piller Classic, presented by Lewis and Futcher. #texas #favtourny”
THE MODERATOR: All right. We're happy to be joined by Inbee Park, world No. 1, defending champion here at the North Texas Shootout. Inbee, this is the third time this year you're going into a tournament as the defending champion.
INBEE PARK: Yeah.
THE MODERATOR: Does it get any easier? Is there a certain routine you have or what's it like?
INBEE PARK: Obviously it's always great to be coming back as a defending champion and obviously having really good memories on the golf course and the area. And yeah, it's just lovely to come back and try to enjoy and try to do the same is obviously very tough, but I'll try to do the same this week.
THE MODERATOR: Las Colinas Country Club. Can you kind tell us about this course and what kind of suits your eye?
INBEE PARK: You know, I think just you know, Las Colinas here is so close from the city and everything around it is very comfortable, like the food and everything is here, so it's so easy to get around. And obviously we're really close from the Korean community here. So it feels like we're kind of back home, and not like in the West Coast and like middle area, there is a lot of Korean population. So yeah, it feels very comfortable here.
THE MODERATOR: I know you were a little sick last week. You still battled to a Top 5 finish. Are you feeling better this week and what was wrong with you last week?
INBEE PARK: It was food poisoning last week, and at first I thought it was just catching a cold, because I was having a fever. And obviously it was not food poisoning ‑‑ it was definitely the food poisoning, not the cold.
Yeah, I was really sick last week, and you know, the finish last week was actually very good finish, you know, considering how bad I was feeling.
Yeah, definitely feeling a lot better than last week. I wouldn't say I'm like 100 percent back to normal, but 70, 80, so hopefully by the week starts I'll be 100 percent and ready to go for this week.
THE MODERATOR: We're certainly hoping. Let's open it up for questions.
Q. Inbee, last year you finished this tournament with 35 straight holes without a bogey. Have you been on the course already this week? Have you been out there yet?
INBEE PARK: I played nine holes today. It was really windy today, so it was playing very different than last year. I mean the clubs we were going in was totally different. And last year we didn't have this much wind. And yeah, it was playing quite difficult out there today with the wind. I don't know what the wind is going to do the rest of the week, but if it blows like this, this is going to be a totally different golf course to us.
Q. Still, is there a comfort level knowing that you've had that kind of success on this course, even though that would have been the first time you guys have been here?
INBEE PARK: Yeah. I think Colinas course having a good memory of this golf course, and obviously having bogey‑free holes for 35 holes gives me a lot of confidence. And coming back to the golf course where you played well, you always feel so good and comfortable around it. So I think that gives me a little bit of an advantage over other girls here, because you know, I played on this golf course well.
Q. You've been No. 1 for a long time. What about your game has allowed you to maintain that consistency?
INBEE PARK: I think, you know, everything is really just coming together for me for a couple of years. I think from my ball striking to my putting to just my mental game, everything is just getting a little bit better and better and I'm getting a little bit more experienced and I'm getting a little bit more mature as a person and as a golfer. So I think just overall game is just improving every day, and obviously having really great competitors around me just helps me to improve every week and every day.
THE MODERATOR: Kind of building off that, you were mentioning the people behind you. There's been a little bit of a turnover in the past year so far with Michelle moving up in the ranks, Lydia moving to No. 2. Kind of talk about how that younger breed, you're pretty young yourself, only 25 years old, how that kind of motivates you to keep going and staying in that No. 1 spot.
INBEE PARK: Yeah. I definitely think we're seeing a lot of new names, and obviously a lot of the names and rankings are changing really quickly the last few weeks, and yeah, I think it's good to see a lot of people playing well because that just gives ‑‑ you know, that just gives us that there is not only five girls can win. There is like 20 girls that can win out here this weekend. You just never know what is going to happen and everybody is playing so well. And you've gotta play better than everybody. So just trying to improve yourself and yeah, try to be the best of it.
Q. I know at one point this season you said it was your putter that was holding you back from getting into those Top 10s which was everybody's surprise, everybody didn't believe you for your putting prowess. What's really clicking? I know you said your putting has come along. Was it something that you need to change? I know you said you made a putter change. What has been clicking for you recently?
INBEE PARK: Yeah. I just tried everything because I just didn't seem like I was rolling the ball as good as I did last year. So I tried different putters. I tried different things, different strokes. And nothing really seems to be changing and a couple of weeks ago I tried to change my posture a little bit, and that seems like it's working really well, and I feel like I am rolling the ball on line. So since then I've been putting really good.
Yeah, just I was not too far away last few weeks, and just you know, waiting for my ‑‑ you know, that week everything just clicks together.
Q. Is it straighter posture?
INBEE PARK: Just like my shaft angle was a little bit more up right. I made it a little bit more up right.
Q. Can you talk about this course and some of the things you have to avoid and some of the things you have to do to be successful out here this week?
INBEE PARK: I think like tee shot on the first few holes are quite tough on this golf course, and like to start off here, they ‑‑ you have to hit a couple of good drives, especially No. 1 and 2, you have to hit the fairway, and obviously No. 1 is a very tough fairway to hit. And just if you start yourself really good out here, I think there is a lot of opportunities out there.
Yeah, and I had very good start last year here in the first couple of rounds, so I mean just driver probably is the most important for the first few holes and you just gotta hole a lot of putts in. Obviously the wind is going to come into factor when it blows like this.
THE MODERATOR: And finally, Inbee, let you off on something that's not really a golf question. Heard that you recently purchased a new house. You have the week off next week. You got any plans for that?
INBEE PARK: Yeah. I think I'll be just, you know, using my credit card a lot next week. (Laughs) so I better make some money this week.
Yeah, just I'm going to furnish my few house next week, so I think it's going to be really fun.
Rolex Rankings No. 6 Lexi Thompson
THE MODERATOR: You had three weeks off, but not necessarily off, I think just from following you on Twitter, probably the busiest three weeks of your life from what it seemed like, media tour, trip to Germany, morning drive, all this good stuff. Just take us through what these past three weeks have been and what you've been up to.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, they've been pretty busy. I got my practice in and training in a lot, but yeah, did morning drive, a few media appearances, like CNBC, and I just actually game from Germany. I had a big Puma ad campaign commercial and then Puma global announcement at Puma headquarters in Germany. So it was a great few days, a lot going on, but these whole past few weeks have been very busy for me, but it's been a lot of fun. So looking forward to this week.
THE MODERATOR: Good. Now, talk about the Puma appearance. Had to be a huge honor, I know you said there was a lot of other Puma athletes. I saw you tweet a picture of Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world. How was meeting him and how was that whole experience? Probably a huge honor for you.
LEXI THOMPSON: Oh, yeah. It was a huge honor. Just to meet with him and hang out with him, we actually flew privately to our other location for the commercial, and it was so much fun. He's such a cool guy, very laid back, and always joking around. But yeah, it was a great experience, just to spend some time with a big‑time athlete like him. And you know, just learn how he is.
THE MODERATOR: Cool. Coming into this week, you had a few practice rounds the past couple of days. Any rust? Is what have you been working on? I know you said you got your practice in, but how are you feeling about your game coming off the three weeks?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah. I'm feeling really good. You know, I got my practice in back at home and training, worked on a few things. Just trying to keep my swing groove like it was at Kraft Nabisco. And working on the same things, but I feel really good coming into this week. I played this tournament last year, and I think I played pretty well. I don't really remember. But I do like the golf course and the people here are amazing. So I'm really looking forward to this week.
THE MODERATOR: You've been one of the amazing story lines, you winning at Kraft, then Michelle goes, wins in Hawaii, Lydia wins her first as a member. What is it like to be a part of the resurgence of LPGA and being a huge part of these headlines and making waves, whether it be on local headlines, but now national headlines? What's that been like for you?
LEXI THOMPSON: Well, it means a lot to me. We're all just trying to do our best out here, and I think we've had some really great winners already this year. Michelle is playing great this year and obviously Lydia has been playing amazing the last few years that she's been out here. But there's such great competition out here and I think any time somebody wins it's a great honor to be in the headlines just all over the place, so it's busy, but I mean it's well worth the ride.
Q. I know all of the players were congratulating you on Twitter. You almost broke Twitter I think when you won. Did you hear from anybody special or anybody surprised you that you thought, wow, they were watching me or wow, they congratulated me. Who was the most surprising or special person you heard from?
LEXI THOMPSON: Well, I got a few texts, like Nancy Lopez texted me which always means a lot. She's been a huge idol of mine. I actually got a letter from Arnold Palmer congratulating me. So that meant so much to me, just always looking up to him, what a huge idol he is in the game of golf and what he's done for the game. So it means so much to me, just to have those people watching me and supporting me.
THE MODERATOR: Great. Questions for Lexi?
Q. You broke through at a young age, and you're still very young right now. Can you talk about how many young players there are, how much young talent is out there and maybe some of the things, biggest challenges you faced as a young player coming up?
LEXI THOMPSON: Well, I think the game is getting younger and younger. I mean you see really young girls out here coming out, playing well. I mean I'm not even the young one out here. Now Lydia is. But it's great to see that the game is getting younger.
But I think the main trouble that I saw coming out here just at a young age was expecting success right off the bat and struggling through the first few years and not playing as many events as I was used to. But I think that's just golf overall. It's something you have to get used to, going through the struggles and just working through it and going to the next event.
Q. Going off that a little bit, is there any validation ‑‑ you've had success, but now that you're going to be introduced as a major champion everywhere you go, is there a validation for you and does it change the tone of how you move forward in your career?
LEXI THOMPSON: It doesn't really change the way, you know, it doesn't change who I am personally, but I mean it doesn't change my out look on how I go into an event. I'm going into it with the same attitude this whole year as just trying to focus on attitude going into every event positively. I think that's what helped me out the most at Kraft Nabisco going into it with a positive attitude and being confident. I'm still just going to go out, have fun and be relaxed out there. And I think that's when my game shows the most.
THE MODERATOR: Now that you've got the feeling of having that one major win, I mean you couldn't hide the excitement and joy on your face. There's no chance. But once you got that win under your belt, do you start thinking, heck, I want five, ten, I want as many of these as possible. Do you start looking down the road and say I want to win as many majors as I possibly can?
LEXI THOMPSON: It definitely gave me a lot of confidence after getting that first win under the belt, especially at Kraft Nabisco. I love mission hills and playing there. I get to hit a lot of drivers and just be confident about my game that week. But going into the year I think winning every major is definitely a goal, but I go into every event with that same attitude wanting to win. You know, whatever happens happens.
Q. Last year you finished I think 18th here last year. Can you talk about that a little bit, coming off the first time and what the course requires you to do out here?
LEXI THOMPSON: This golf course?
LEXI THOMPSON: Well, this golf course seems to be playing a little different this year. It's not as firm as it was last year, so there's a few different clubs or how you play it into the green. But the course is in great shape for us again and this is such a well‑run tournament and being the second year for it, I think all of us look forward to playing in it every year.
But yeah, I think just getting the placement right in the fairways and picking the right clubs off the tee I think is going to be the key out here.
THE MODERATOR: I don't think anyone would argue, I know you came on to the scene as a rising star, youngest of every whatever. Then you won. You were a star. Now I think we can probably all agree you're a bona fide super star. You have really embraced the role of being an ambassador for this tour. I know you were named girls golf ambassador, growing the game, I know Monday you have an event with Red Bull doing the tee time, just trying to spread the wealth of the game. Talk about that event on Monday and what it means for you to embrace that role of being one of the big faces on tour.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah. It means a lot to me. Being part of the girls golf program is huge. I mean when they asked me to do it, it's like pretty much always a yes. Just to show my love for the game to little girls that are out following and just seeing how much the game is growing, especially on the girls' side, it means a lot to me to work with them.
But yeah, Monday, it's actually called like a Red Bull tee time. I do that probably four or five times a year at my tournaments, and it just gives me a chance to answer questions from little kids, their parents, and just about my life and what I've done to get to the point that I am. And it's a little clinic, too, so I'll hit some balls and show them how to hit a few shots and then I'll take pictures, autographs.
THE MODERATOR: Is it the Top Golf?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah. It's the Top Golf. It's a lot of fun. People following me play music. There's actually a photo booth. You know, it's really cool. I think that grows the game and shows that it's fun and it's active.
THE MODERATOR: Bringing the youthful, I guess, aspect to golf, and I know you said you've just been trying to have more fun on the course and off the course, I know. That's played a very big role for you; correct?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, definitely, especially these past few months, I've just been trying to have a lot more fun out on the golf course and laugh with my caddie Benji out there in between shots and just keep it loose. I think that's the main point. I think people sometimes, including myself. I mean I've gotten way too serious sometimes on the golf course, and I think it just hurts you sometimes.
Q. After winning your first major, has that sort of changed your goals for the rest of this year or perhaps your career goals on the LPGA Tour?
LEXI THOMPSON: I haven't really thought about any different goals. I mean I go into every tournament wanting to win. Obviously my next goal is to win the U.S. Women's Open. That's a huge honor. I mean being an American that's your champion, so that's one of my top goals for this year.
But overall in the future it doesn't really change my goals.
THE MODERATOR: I would like to welcome in our Rolex Rankings No. 13, Michelle Wie, into the interview room. Michelle, thank you for coming in. Busy past couple of weeks for you. Freshly off your win two weeks ago. You played in San Francisco last week. It's been a whirlwind of a time. I was there with you in Hawaii and it was quite an experience for somebody to even see, but take us through the past two weeks, how that's been for you celebrating and coming off that win?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah. It's been great. And I think obviously winning in my hometown definitely is a dream come true for me. Winning is great, but winning in your hometown with all your family and your friends there, it had to be one of the most wonderful moments of my life.
And then going back to the bay area. I haven't been back since I graduated. It was amazing seeing all my friends. Definitely a bit tired last week, but I'm real excited for this week.
THE MODERATOR: How important was it for you? Is it I know there was a lot of emotions in Hawaii coming off that win and going back to San Francisco. I know you did a Stanford tour. You saw the Stanford team doing a lot of things. How important was it for you to bounce off that win and come back and get another Top 10. How focused were you on following up that win with a really good week?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I think it was important for my psyche and my confidence. I definitely am feeling very confident after the last two weeks.
You know, it's a tough golf course. I think I was under the weather a little bit with a cold, so I was kind of struggling a little bit, just holding myself together. But I felt good on the last day. I felt great. So it was nice to be in the warm weather, I have to say.
THE MODERATOR: Everyone said they were looking forward to coming here and it being warm. Tied for 56th last year, obviously looking to improve a little bit. What were the problem areas coming into this course last year where you improved?
MICHELLE WIE: I think we changed a couple of game plans, positions off the tee boxes, aim wise. I think last year I just underestimated the slopiness of the fairways. I think we would just try to land it in certain spots and hit it to the right places.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Michelle?
Q. Michelle, not only the win this year, but you've had a pretty good year at all of the events. I don't think you've finished lower than 16. Just talk about what's going well for you, how good it feels to kind of get your year started like this?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah. It feels great. The No. 1 thing that David and I have been working on in the off season, the main goal this year is consistency. I just want to keep improving a little bit every week and just trying to be more consistent with my game, hit more fairways, hit more greens, make more putts. Just overall just keep getting better.
Q. With so many young players coming up, can you just talk about how that kind of creates parity out here and maybe some advice you can give the younger players on coming up and what challenges they face?
MICHELLE WIE: It's great. It's great seeing all the young players out there. I look at them and I feel very happy just because they're going to be the future of our tour. They are stars right now, but obviously they're going to be here after we leave, and it's just great. I think there's a lot of really great young players, but at the same time, you know, they're also really great people as well, too. You know, just every single one of them, I feel like it's nice to see them.
And you know, I don't really have that much advice for them. I think they're doing great, they have great heads on their shoulders, and I guess all I have to say is don't forget it's still a game and you just gotta go out there and have fun.
Q. I saw a tweet this past week ask ho's writing the scripts for the LPGA. I don't think anybody could do any better. Paula's putt in Singapore broke her win drought, you in Hawaii, Lexi, Lydia last week. What does that mean to you to be part of the resurgence of the LPGA and everyone saying watch the LPGA, watch the LPGA, these girls are killing it? What does that mean to you to be part of this excitement, and all the headlines weekly, not only nationally but globally as well?
MICHELLE WIE: I think it's great. I mean we've come so far. We have. I mean I feel like this has been a great community effort between everyone, the staff and the players. You know, there's a lot of good personalities out there and a lot of great players, and it was really awesome to see Paula make that putt. You know, I think it's really great for the tour that Lexi won and great that Lydia won last week. There's just a lot of great story lines out there, and I'm just so happy that the LPGA is finally getting the attention that it deserves.
THE MODERATOR: I know you were home two weeks ago, you were in your second home last week. Saw you tweet out some barbecue pictures. I keep asking you about the food every week. That's something you always talk about, barbecue choices. Do you have a special place here, special spot you've been to or favorite so far? Any recommendations given to you?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah. I've had a couple recommendations given to me. I think we're doing ribs tonight. But there's just so many here. You just can't go wrong. I mean I'm just so excited about the food. I texted Gerina Pillar about some good Tex‑Mex places here. So this week it's definitely going to be an eating week for sure. Not like any other week.
THE MODERATOR: My last question, four American winners this year. All three other than you were teammates of the Solheim Cup. What does that say, do you think, for the American resurgence? I know with Stacy getting up to No. 1 last year and being up there and Lexi playing well, what do you think it has to say for women's American golf?
MICHELLE WIE: I think it's great. There are so many big American names out there, you know, Jessica Korda, Stacy Lewis, Lexi Thompson. Paula Creamer, there's so many good American players out there, and I think it's so much fun. It's fun to see American women do well, it's fun to see my teammates play well. You know, I think it does a lot of good things for the tour. We are a global tour, but it's nice to have American girls on American soil.
THE MODERATOR: Any other questions?
Q. I just want to know your feelings about, you know, you seem to have a sense of the history of the LPGA, playing in Texas, you know. There wasn't an LPGA event here for many years and last year was the first year. Do you have any special feelings about playing in Texas?
MICHELLE WIE: I know a lot of the girls from Texas are really excited, because they really look forward to it. I was talking to Angela Stanford in Hawaii and Gerina and everyone, and they're so excited to come back home and they're so proud to be able to show Texas off to everyone, and we're really excited to be back here as well, and it's just great to see that the LPGA is going back to a city that we have a good backing. Brought LPGA to the bay area, which we are really glad. Hopefully we can go to a lot more cities in the future.
Q. Similar question, for a player, what do you look for in a tour event? What makes it a success?
MICHELLE WIE: I mean I would say the food. (Laughs). But you know, I think it's just ‑‑ every tournament has been top notch, I think. The golf courses have been in really great shape. We go to really great golf courses, like last week. This week another good golf course.
For me I think it's just condition the golf course is in, and you know, it's just great to see the fan support, and hopefully this week the crowds will be really big.
But yeah, I think the golf course is definitely the top thing for me, and I feel like every week it's just been great.