The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail - Crossing Course at Magnolia Grove
Thursday First Round Notes
May 22, 2014
Rolex Rankings No.16 Catriona Matthew (-8)
Sponsor Invite Charley Hull (-7)
Rolex Rankings No. 4 Suzann Pettersen (-6)
Rolex Rankings No. 69 Eun-Hee Ji (-6)
Rolex Rankings No. 2 Stacy Lewis (-6)
Rolex Rankings No. 26 Jessica Korda (-5)
Rolex Rankings No. 262 Moira Dunn (-5)
The opening round of the 2014 Airbus LPGA Classic saw plenty of low scores at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. Catriona Matthew (-8) knew the importance of getting off to a good start on this course and quickly made up for her one bogey with eagle on the following hole.
“I remember I watched some of it last year and Jennifer Jonon was like 24 under, couldn’t quite believe that during my practice round on Tuesday, but yeah, obviously any time you get off to a good start, it’s good.” Matthew said after her round.
Sponsor invite Charley Hull (-7) ended the day just one stroke behind Matthew after a bogey-free round. Her score today was her career-best on the LPGA tour and the up-and-coming golfer finds herself in an enviable position as she heads into round 2.
“I don’t know, just keep hitting greens, fairways, holing a few putts.“ Hull said about her strategy to get into the winner’s circle. “Not thinking about the moment, just one shot at a time, just trying to post another low score like today and just let the putts drop.”
As players came off the course, the overwhelming consensus is that it’s a great place to play and the greens are rolling nicely. Jessica Korda, who finished T-2 at last year’s event was loves coming back to the course and coming so close last year was something that motivates her to perform well this year.
“You know, I was walking the fairways yesterday and I was like, I hit it right here, Sunday pin is right there.” Korda said. “It definitely hurts still, still stings a little bit, but I’m really excited to be back and hopefully
PETTERSEN IS CATCHING FIRE
Suzann Pettersen has now played in each of the last four tournaments since returning from her back injury and is feeling great out there on the course. In the opening round of the Airbus LPGA Classic she fired a 66 and will head into round 2 T3 with Eun-Hee Ji and Stacy Lewis.
Even though she has felt great the last couple of weeks, she hasn’t seen the results she has wanted. But, she feels close to finding herself in the winner’s circle once again.
“I’m feeling pretty good, felt pretty calm. I feel like my game is right there, trying to be patiently aggressive.” Pettersen said. “Playing smart on the hole locations that aren’t quite set up for being aggressive and then trying to take advantage. But the greens are fairly receptive, so it feels like you can kind of fire at the pin and not have to worry about too much spin, which makes this course a little bit easier. Fantastic weather to play golf, you can’t ask for better conditions, so just really happy to be back in Alabama. I’ve played good around this track before and I’ve been looking forward to coming here since I entered this event.”
GREENS GUIDE JI
Eun-Hee Ji headed into the clubhouse 6-under after her opening round Thursday. Ji had a successful day on the course and credits her performance to the fast greens.
Ji hopes to be able to read the greens just as well Friday as she heads into the second round.
“Hit fairway and greens,” Ji said of her plans tomorrow. “Lots of greens, and I think I just need to make a lot of putts.”
LEWIS FEELS RIGHT AT HOME
Stacy Lewis finished her day tied for third as she gets ready for Friday’s round. Lewis had seven birdies on the day and it is safe to say she is looking comfortable out there.
“Just being here in the south it reminds me of what I grew up playing,” Lewis said. “This type of golf, this Bermuda grass is just what I’m used to, so I’m just really comfortable here.”
Scores were low across the board Thursday and Lewis was no different. The greens were playing fast today and Lewis knew that she needed to have a strong start here in Mobile.
“The scores are so low that if you don’t go pretty low the first day you are kind of behind,” Lewis said. “To make seven birdies in the first round here is always a good thing.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY >>>>>>>>>>>>>>
“She was a good kid. It’s sad. It’s nice to remember her. I’m really glad that they brought the orange ribbons back out. I knew I was going to [wear the Auburn hat in tribute] -- they had these hats in Australia and I knew I was going to wear it here. This was her best finish on Tour, so maybe she helped me a little today.”
-Moira Dunn talking about the tribute paid to former LPGA player
Danielle Downey, who passed away at the end of January.
SAY HULLO TO HULL
One of the most talked about up-and-coming golfers, Charley Hull, was a sponsor invite to this week’s Airbus LPGA Classic Presented by JTBC. This was Hull’s third event playing as a sponsor invite.
“I try not to think about it too much because I’ve got the wind at my back now,” Hull said. “I just keep on playing and hopefully I can get more wins and get my card for next year.”
Hull heads to the clubhouse in second place, 7-under for her opening round in Mobile. Overall, Hull had strong strokes on the course Thursday and looks to continue her solid play this weekend.
“Just one shot at a time, just trying to post another low score like today and just let the putts drop” Hull said.
DUNN’S STRONG ROUND 1
Moira Dunn was in need of an opening round performance like this one. After missing the cut in six of the first eight tournaments played, she fired an opening-round 67 (-5) at the Airbus LPGA Classic Presented by JTBC and ends the day T6.
Coming into this tournament, her best performance of the year came at the North Texas Shootout when she finished 48th (70-68-72-77=287) after finishing at +3 for the week. She followed that up in Kingsmill with a rough start in the first round (76-71) that was too much to overcome.
“Last week I got off to a bad start and played okay the second day but just, you know, had too much work to do on the second day and you just can’t put that pressure on yourself week in and week out.” Dunn said. “I started well in Texas, so it’s just nice to get going and you can get relaxed and it’s a lot easier to play golf when you’re relaxed.”
For Stacy to take over #1:
-Will take #1 with a win regardless of other finishes
-Will take #1 with a solo second and Inbee finishes T4 with two or more players or worse.
-Will take #1 with a T2 with one other player and Inbee finishes 9th or worse
-Will take #1 with a T2 with two other players and Inbee finishes 17th or worse
-Will take #1 with a solo 3rd and Inbee finishes 26th or worse
As the sponsor of this great event, Airbus will have one of their spectacular aircrafts fly-by the golf course tomorrow (Friday) at 11:20 am (CST). The A350 fly-by of MOBILE will have the aircraft departing Eglin at 1100 and then enter the flight test area for about 1+45 min and then conduct another fly-by of Mobile. Be sure to keep your eye on the sky during that time.
The social scene >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
LPGA players and caddies paid tribute to caddie Ian MacGregor who passed away during the Madeira Islands Open just recently.
“All players and caddies are asked to wear black today to honor caddy Ian MacGreggor that passed away suddenly while caddying two weeks ago! A ‘Black Mac Day’”
- Maria McBride on Instagram (@mimmihj73)
Golf Channel will once again be covering the LPGA this week in Mobile. The airtimes are as follows (CST):
Friday 5:30-8:00pm (Taped) or LIVE on the Golf LIVE Extra app from 4-6:30pm
ROUND 1 INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT: MOIRA DUNN
Wednesday, May 22, 2014
Q. So we're here with Moira Dunn, who right now you head to the clubhouse and you're third. How were you feeling out there today?
MOIRA DUNN: It was good. I actually three‑putted the first hole with a brand new putter this week so it was a little scary at that point, but got it going on three. I actually chipped in from the bunker and then started rolling the ball really good and just felt really comfortable on the greens. I think it's kind of one of those courses the greens are always perfect here. They're great, they're beautiful. And if you roll the ball and get it on line, you start making some putts and get some confidence. It was fun, it was fun today. It's been a while since I felt like that on the greens. I hope I can just keep it going.
Q. New putter, what is the putter?
MOIRA DUNN: I have a new Ping putter, and I had gotten a new putter last week and I didn't put it in the bag and I was kind of goofing around on Monday and saw that Ping putter sitting there and it just looked good and kind of actually made the decision yesterday. I had two new putters in the bag and made the decision and I guess I made the right one.
Q. So you have two new putters in the bag and you three‑putted the first hole. Were you thinking about switching?
MOIRA DUNN: Well, no, it wasn't in the bag on the course, but yesterday I was still putting with two different putters. I was a little nervous after that first hole, but the second hole was better, I had better speed. The greens are like just perfect out there. You know, they were rolling great, so it just got away from me on the first hole a little bit, that's all.
Q. So I'm looking, you were cut last week, right?
MOIRA DUNN: Yes.
Q. You played well in North Texas. So what were your goals coming into this tournament?
MOIRA DUNN: I think every week is different. You go out there -- I had a couple good rounds here last year and I feel comfortable here. I've had good rounds here in the past and you just want to get off to a good start. Last week I got off to a bad start and played okay the second day but just, you know, had too much work to do on the second day and you just can't put that pressure on yourself week in and week out. I started well in Texas, so it's just nice to get going and you can get relaxed and it's a lot easier to play golf when you're relaxed.
Q. Can you remember the last time you were off to a start this well in a tournament?
MOIRA DUNN: No, probably not.
Q. And then finally, you're wearing orange today in honor of Danielle Downey. Can you talk a little bit about that? A lot of people are wearing it out here today, aren't they?
MOIRA DUNN: Yeah, they are. She was a good kid. It's sad. It's nice to remember her. I'm really glad that they brought the orange ribbons back out. I knew I was going to -- they had these hats in Australia and I knew I was going to wear it here. This was her best finish on Tour, so maybe she helped me a little today.
ROUND 1 INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT: CHARLEY HULL
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Q. All right. We're here with Charley Hull today. Going to the clubhouse taking over second place, a bogey‑free round today. What was working for you out there?
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah, it was good. I putted quite well, hit it quite solid, and hit I think every green, so that way I played pretty well. I still left a few shots out there, I missed a three‑ or four‑footer, but hey, you know, another day tomorrow and hopefully I can go low.
Q. There you go. Now, with all the low scoring going around today, what's kind of the key and what's going to be the strategy to kind of put you in the winner's circle?
CHARLEY HULL: I don't know, just keep hitting greens, fairways, holing a few putts. Not thinking about the moment, just one shot at a time, just trying to post another low score like today and just let the putts drop.
Q. There you go. You're going home after this week, is that correct?
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah, I'm going home.
Q. Awesome. Now, where's home for you?
CHARLEY HULL: England, North Hamptonshire. It's about an hour and a half north of London and I play a golf course called Woburn and that's where Ian Poulter shot his (inaudible.) It's a really nice place.
Q. There you go, okay. Being in Mobile, Alabama, have you gotten the chance to experience the southern hospitality yet?
CHARLEY HULL: No, not really, just been in the hotel and bed. Been quite tired because I've been away quite a lot lately. I flew from Turkey to play Kingsmill last week to this, so it's been quite a long last few weeks.
Q. There you go. Now, this is your third week being a sponsor invite, so you've been labeled as one of the most up‑and‑coming golfers out here today. How did that make you feel?
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah, it was good. I try not to think about it too much because I've got the wind at my back now and so I just keep on playing and hopefully I can get more wins and get my card for next year.
Q. Well, thank you, Charley, and good luck tomorrow.
CHARLEY HULL: Thank you.
EUN-HEE JI: Thank you.
Q. You head into the clubhouse 6‑under for the day, correct?
EUN-HEE JI: Yes.
Q. So tied for second. How are you feeling today?
EUN-HEE JI: I feel good this morning when I was warming up, was feel good with my swing and with my putter. Was out there like I just so -- I can see the green, you know? I can see the line, so I just made a lot of putts out there.
Q. And how are the greens rolling today?
EUN-HEE JI: So fast.
EUN-HEE JI: And then I can hit to what I want to be there, so if I read a good green, it's going to be -- go in.
Q. Perfect. And so I noticed you're wearing an orange ribbon today. Many players are wearing it. Can you talk a little bit about why you are wearing that?
EUN-HEE JI: About the --
EUN-HEE JI: Yeah, Danielle.
Q. So you're wearing it in honor of Danielle Downey and her passing?
EUN-HEE JI: Yes.
Q. Have you noticed any number of players wearing it out there today?
EUN-HEE JI: Not sure but almost players everyone wearing that, yeah.
Q. Okay. So what changes -- does anything change in your approach for tomorrow knowing that you finished so well today or do you carry it over into tomorrow?
EUN-HEE JI: I just keep like today, just hit fairway and greens, lot of greens, and I think I just need to made a lot of putts.
Q. Perfect, thank you so much.
EUN-HEE JI: Thank you.
JESSICA KORDA: I just love coming back here. You know, it reminds me of being home in Florida. I just love the whole golf course and atmosphere.
Q. Played so well last year, tied for second, does that give you more motivation coming back this year knowing how close you were?
JESSICA KORDA: Yeah, it is. You know, I was walking the fairways yesterday and I was like, I hit it right here, Sunday pin is right there. It definitely hurts still, still stings a little bit, but I'm really excited to be back and hopefully contend again.
Q. Seeing some of the scores out there today, is it mistake‑free golf that's going to win this event this week?
JESSICA KORDA: I don't really think it's mistake free. Obviously a lot of low numbers out there, obviously a lot of birdie holes and that's what it's going to take. You can definitely make some mistakes, but you've just got to come back and come back strong.
Q. Finally, have you gotten the chance to get around Mobile at all and experience some of the southern hospitality down here?
JESSICA KORDA: You know, I think we get taken care of really well even here in the clubhouse. I don't need to venture too far.
Q. Perfect, thank you. Good job today.
JESSICA KORDA: Thank you.
Q. All right. We're here with Stacy Lewis, who shot 6‑under today heading into the clubhouse in the second position. What was working for you out there today.
STACY LEWIS: You know, I played solid. You know, coming off of last week where I didn't hit the ball good, I was happy with the way I drove it today. Just really I hit it solid and made some putts. Figured something little out in my putting and I think that might help the rest of the week, so just solid.
Q. And the greens are playing well, I heard you say. Can you talk a little bit, you had four birdies in a row there on the back nine and then two more on the front, so putting was working well. Overall a good day?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, overall just made birdies on a couple of the par 5s, which you have to do on this golf course, and just had really good speed. A couple of those birdies I made were some pretty downhill putts, so just had really good speed all day and it was really pretty easy.
Q. I saw you had an Arkansas Razorbacks fan there in the scoring tent. Are you supported by Arkansas all over and do the fans pop up for tournaments?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, we seem to find a Razorback fan everywhere we go. It's a fun thing. We're closer here, I guess, but just being here in the south it reminds me of what I grew up playing. This type of golf, this Bermudagrass is just what I'm used to, so I'm just really comfortable here.
Q. Finally, Airbus is a new sponsor this year. Have you noticed any of the decorations out here?
STACY LEWIS: It's awesome to have Airbus on board. We got to meet some of the folks and hang out in the pro‑am party so it was fun. I think the tee markers are a hit this week so everybody's been taking pictures of them, but just to have a company like that get on board and hopefully this just continues to grow.
Q. Just coming out after a good start here in this tournament, how important is that?
STACY LEWIS: It's huge. The scores are so low that if you don't go pretty low the first day, you're kind of behind the eight ball, so especially I think when you have an early tee time because then you come back tomorrow afternoon and you're just way behind. So it was really nice to get off to a good start. To make seven birdies in the first round here is always a good thing.
Q. If you would, talk about the string there. Your front side, the back side.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. 15, hit a 7‑iron into 15, hit it to about five feet and made that. And 16, just hit it just over the back in two and got a pretty easy up and down. 17, I hit 5‑iron into just past the hole maybe about 15 feet and made that. And 18, hit 6‑iron in to about probably about 12 feet and made that. The course is definitely playing longer this year, not rolling out quite as much, couple tees playing back, so definitely had longer irons than usual.
Q. Birdied 17, 18, those are two tough ‑‑ for a par 3, that's a tough par 3.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, and today the pin was back left so it was pretty tough. I seem to always for some reason play the back nine a little bit better here. So it was nice to get off to a good start like I did. It's always good, you know, coming into the weekend when you've got that comfort level back there.
Q. We're here with Catriona Matthew, who heads to the clubhouse as the leader for the day. Catriona, how are you feeling?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, obviously really pleased. Just had two weeks at home so never quite know what you're going to come out and play like. So, yeah, delighted. Got the putter going and holed some putts, which is nice.
Q. Two weeks at home also, what did you do with some of your time off?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Well, I think I'm busier when I'm at home actually. It's kind of hectic with two children. Tried to squeeze in a bit of practice, gym, and watching them, so it's busy.
Q. Perfect. And early on in your round you had a bogey, rebounded with an eagle. How important is it early in your round to rebound like that?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, I think that was very important. Obviously the scoring I could see was pretty low. Holed a nice shot from the bunker at 13, the par 5, for eagle, so that kind of kickstarted my round.
Q. And finally, we have a new sponsor here this week in Airbus. Have you noticed anything as you got a chance to walk the course?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, it's great to see all the little Airbus planes on the tees. I think that's their A320, so yeah, it's good. I love the A380, so looking forward to seeing their new one they're coming out with.
Q. Great round today, congratulations and thank you.
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Thanks very much.
Q. You haven't been here in a while?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: No, no real reason, just haven't really fit in with my schedule, but this year it fitted in, so nice to be back.
Q. Changes to the course surprise you at all?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, I think there's a big difference actually. Big improvement, I think. Just it's amazing all of the trees and changing a few of the greens. I think the course is looking great.
Q. Obviously a good start's important each week but here it can really be because the numbers can go pretty low. How important was that for you?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, I remember I watched some of it last year and Jennifer was like 24‑under, couldn't quite believe that during my practice round on Tuesday, but yeah, obviously any time you get off to a good start, it's good.
Q. All right. We're here with Suzann Pettersen. Suzann, 6‑under today. How were you feeling out there?
SUZANN PETTERSON: I'm feeling pretty good, felt pretty calm. I feel like my game is right there, trying to be patiently aggressive. Playing smart on the hole locations that aren't quite set up for being aggressive and then trying to take advantage. But the greens are fairly receptive, so it feels like you can kind of fire at the pin and not have to worry about too much spin, which makes this course a little bit easier. Fantastic weather to play golf, you can't ask for better conditions, so just really happy to be back in Alabama. I've played good around this track before and I've been looking forward to coming here since I entered this event.
Q. And you mentioned Alabama. Have you gotten a chance to go around and experience any southern hospitality while you've been down here?
SUZANN PETTERSON: Not really. I'm staying downtown, so I kind of get a little bit of feel of it there. But it's just nice to travel around from state to state and kind of feel the differentials between kind of the different parts of the U.S. It has a lot to offer.
Q. All right. And Juli Inkster just interviewed you there over there on Golf Channel.
SUZANN PETTERSON: You know what, it's kind of weird to see Jules there already. She's such a passionate golfer with a huge heart for the game of golf. I know maybe this is the direction she's moving towards, but I still prefer playing with her inside the ropes. I'm sure she will be a great commentator on golf when she's done.
Q. Finally, you mentioned you were just hitting your stride ‑‑ you were hitting your stride right before the injury. You came back, you played really well the last two weeks. Do you feel good about the state of your game right now?
SUZANN PETTERSON: Yeah, I mean, it's tough. Golf is a frustrating game. Sometimes you feel really good about it and nothing's happening. That was kind of my story last week. I played really good tee to green, I couldn't ask for any better, and I couldn't make a putt. So you don't really get the momentum so the good shots you hit, but you've just got to keep plugging along, don't force it, and as long as you know what you're trying to do, I mean, that's all you can ask for.
Q. You mentioned earlier you have played well here before. Is there a comfort zone, does this kind of fit your game?
SUZANN PETTERSON: Yeah, I think this course is same as kind of a little bit last week. The tee shots, you've got to hit ‑‑ like the hole sets up a certain way, which I kind of like. It kind of sets up the like tee balls and stuff. The greens are fairly receptive so far, so that's a little bit surprising because you think it's going to be rock hard with this heat but they are really receptive. So it's kind of fun to kind of be able to fire at pins and don't have to worry about too big of bounces or too much spin.
Q. Yeah, have to take advantage of it today and maybe tomorrow because it's going to be really hot the rest of the week.
SUZANN PETTERSON: That's cool. That's why we move to America, hot and tropical.
Q. If you would, your back, with the problems have you changed anything about your game or been forced to, or are you still the same?
SUZANN PETTERSON: No, I'm still the same. I know exactly what I'm trying to do with my long game and really just trying to don't overload it too much. I'm sure it can handle it but I don't see the point, and I've taken advice of giving myself a little easier time practice wise. If you're going to stay in this game for a long time, you've also got to look after your body and not always overdo stuff. There's a lot of stuff you can do in your head.