ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer First Round Notes and Interviews

Jennifer Johnson
Photo Credit: Hunter Martin/Getty Images

Jennifer Johnson walks off the green after making birdie on the 18th hole during the first round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic presented by Acer on the Bay Course at the Stockton Seaview Hotel & Golf Club on May 30, 2014 in Galloway, New Jersey.

Rolex Rankings No. 53, Jennifer Johnson (-9)
Rolex Rankings No. 92, Haru Nomura (-8)
Rolex Rankings No. 104, Christina Kim (-7)
Rolex Rankings No. 1, Inbee Park (-5)
Rolex Rankings No. 15, Na Yeon Choi (-5)
Rolex Rankings No. 10, Michelle Wie (-4)

Jennifer Johnson shot her career-low round of 62 on Friday to take the first-round lead of the ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer. Johnson carded 10 birdies and one bogey and tied the course record on the Bay Course at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club. She leads Japan’s Haru Nomura (-8, 63) by one shot. Two-time LPGA Tour winner Christina Kim shot her low round of the year and sits in solo third and two shots back.

Johnson feels at home this week altough her hometown of San Diego, Cali., is on the opposite coast over 3,000 miles away, the poa annua greens here at the Bay Course at Stock­ton Sea View Hotel & Golf Club are the same ones she used to play on at home growing up. Poa annua, famous for being the grass of choice on the greens at Pebble Beach Golf Links, can be a bitty bumpier at times than the more commonly used Bermuda or Bentgrass in the afternoon because the grass grows at different rates on the green in this strain.

But for Johnson, it was just like being back at home. She already had a 8-under 63 to her credit on this golf course in 2012, so it wasn’t a complete surprise when she fired a scintillating 9-under 62 Friday to tie the course record and break her personal best of 63.

“Just gave myself chances all day long, and that really helps on these greens when you hit it close because if not, you’re going to be hitting some bumps out there,” Johnson said.

It surely didn’t have an impact on Johnson. After a bogey on No. 8, she reeled off five straight birdies. Grant­ed, three of those putts for birdie during that stretch were less than three feet, but there was the 50 foot bomb she hit on No. 11. From there she parred 14 and 15 before knocking in a birdie on 16. She got stars in her eyes at that point and had visions of 61 after knocking it to 12 feet on 17.

“On 17, that’s when I was 8 under, so I was trying to like beat my 63. Then I started getting a little nervous, because my goal was to get to like 10 under, but I only got to 9,” Johnson said. “But like when you shoot something that you’ve never shot before, nerves are going to happen.”

They did. She left that putt on 17 three feet short but managed to calm herself and nail a seven-foot birdie on 18 to tie Laura Davie’s course record. And with only a one-shot lead heading into Saturday, she’ll need to keep her foot on the gas pedal in the second round.

“I mean the leaderboard is pretty packed, and there’s a lot of birdies and a lot more golf left, so I just gotta kind of stay in my own little world and just play my game,” Johnson said.

World No. 1 Inbee Park and seven-time LPGA Tour winner Na Yeon Choi are in a tie for fourth at 5-under par. Nine players are in a tie for sixth including No. 2 Stacy Lewis, No. 10 Michelle Wie and 2011 ShopRite LPGA Classic champion Brittany Lincicome. Defending champion Karrie Webb shot and opening 2-under 69 and is T27.

LUCK OF THE IRISH?
Na Yeon Choi watched the first round of The Memorial on the PGA Tour on Thursday and studied first-round leader Rory McIlroy’s swing. She said that the Irishman’s swing is so well connected and she’s most im­pressed with his rhythm. Choi’s coach, Robin Symes, and caddie, David Jones, are both Ireland natives and know McIlroy from his junior days.  

“Actually, last night I watched on TV, and Rory McIlroy he plays so well, and I watched the whole thing last night, and I got some good vibes from that and good thoughts from that,” said Choi. “So even this morning when I doing warmup, I was kept thinking his swing rhythm and everything, and I think that helped me a lot out there.  And hopefully I can see him like even tonight on TV.”

Choi was most likely disappointed to see McIlroy finish 6-over par on Friday but says she feels like she knows him from all of the stories she hears about him.

“Yeah, I’m very big fan of Rory,” said Choi. “He has a great swing, especially my coach, they grew up together when they were young, so I heard a lot of good stories from him, about him.  So you know, I never met him, but it feels like we are good friends each other.  And hopefully one day I will see him and meet him.”

STRONG STARTER
Michelle Wie’s goal all season has been to play more consistently and the 24-year old has done just that in her first 10 events in 2014. She continued her stellar play in the first round on Friday and posted a 4-under 67 and sits five shots off the lead. Wie opened with a 68 at last year’s event and went on to finish tied for ninth. She said she realizes the importance of getting off to a strong start in a three-day event.

“Yeah, for sure,” said Wie. “You kind of play and you kind of forget it’s a three day event.  You forget it’s a Friday, not a Thursday, but you just go out there, I just went out there and tried to take advantage of shorter holes.  It’s already the weekend, so it’s great to be in a good position already.”

Wie said she’s succeeding playing “shot-by-shot” golf and not looking too far ahead. But the Hawaiian said that she would love to notch win No. 2 of the year this week in New Jersey. The six-year LPGA Tour member has yet to record two wins in a single season in her career.

“It’d be awesome,” said Wie. “I feel like I’ve been really close and I’ve never won twice in a season. I won’t think too far ahead but just have fun out there.”

ROUND ONE GOES TO PARK
Day one of the battle royale for No. 1 between Inbee Park, Stacy Lewis and Lydia Ko went to Park. The world’s No. 1 for the last 59 weeks fired a 5-under 66 to best Lewis by 1 and Ko by 2. The race is pretty simple: if Lewis or Ko can beat Park and finish second or first, then No. 1 is theirs. But Park didn’t make that easy Friday, bouncing back from a missed cut at the Airbus LPGA Classic Presented by JTBC to finish in a tie for 4th after the opening round.

Park doesn’t bother acting like she’s not paying attention either. She knows where they stand and she wants to remain No. 1. She said she doesn’t know the exact numbers but knows they can pass her with a win.

“It is very important, but I mean I try to have the fun before I try and think about the numbers or somebody trying to catch me.  I try not to think so much about that, and I mean my main goal is to play well in the tour­naments and strike the ball well, you know, and try to hole some putts,” Park said. “And yeah, No. 1 is very important, but I mean it’s not everything.”

For her, it’s more important to get back to playing the golf that got her to No. 1, and she saw glimpses Friday. All season - with the exception of last week - Park’s played good golf but has felt her putting was lacking compared to last season when she won six tournaments. She arrived in Atlantic City on Saturday to try to get her game right and knew something had to change.

“I mean even if I wasn’t putting good this season, I was still finishing like Top 5, top 3s, and you know, with the good finishes, you don’t really try to change anything even if it’s not working so well, but after last week I think everything really clicked, and I really thought I need to change something right now,” Park said.

So she did. She realized her shoulder was dipping during the follow through causing her to pull it left, so she’s worked on remaining calmer on her right side during the stroke and is seeing results.

“Yeah, last week was -- after the putt I didn’t even need to look at it. It was off line as soon as it started,” Park said. “So yeah, it feels like now I can look at the ball a little bit more and see it going in a little bit more.”

LETS GO PALEO
LPGA Tour veteran Christina Kim felt devastated when she had to miss the first two events this season due to tendinitis in her elbow. The California native said she decided to go through with a platelet spinning treat­ment that did wonders for her condition. She said she was searching for a way to help reduce inflammation and came across the Paleo diet. Kim said it’s not necessarily just giving her direction on eating habits but it has changed her entire outlook on eating and cooking.

“I’m eating like a caveman,” said Kim. “It’s not exactly a diet, it’s more of a lifestyle, but I’ve been fighting tendonitis for about four years now and underwent some platelet spinning during the off season at the very beginning of this year and had to miss out the first two events of the season in Australia and the Bahamas, which I never miss events.  So it was devastating to me.”

Kim was introduced to the diet during the week of the LOTTE Championship in Hawaii and said there was no turning back. She now travels with a blender and prefers to cook over dining out.

“After the Kraft I had gone and decided it was time to do something, you know,” said Kim.  “I just did a little bit of research, spoke with some people, some people very close to me. And I had during the off week
before Hawaii I went and stayed with some people and had paleo food all week, and I thought it was just
going to be like rabbit food and all this awful - I mean it’s like you can have like these amazing, amazing dishes, which in the mornings I have this egg bake with spinach and tomatoes and homemade sausage that I make and this porridge. 

“It’s like oatmeal but it’s made out of nuts,” said Kim. “I have my own blender that I bring with me.  I have ramekins I have. I bring a bag of spices with me every week, and I’m cooking every week, and I’m really
experiencing a lot of joy from that.”

Kim says the life change isn’t necessarily about any weight loss and is just happier with her physical improve­ments.

“Even if five years down the road, I don’t lose an ounce of weight, if I’m always meant to be a big girl, I’m go­ing to be a big girl,” said Kim. “I know I can feel the inflammation has gone down tremendously in my body, and so I’m more happy; I’m more aware of what my body is doing, and I just live life with a lot more clarity now.  And I still babble.”

SOCIAL SCENE
Karen Stupples tweeted a photo of her pedometer screen after walking 10,437 steps during the first round at the ShopRite LPGA Classic while commentating for Golf Channel. Stupples signed on for the Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield Pedometer Chal­lenge and for every 10,000 steps she takes this week, Horizon will donate $1,000 to both the Boys and Girls Club of Atlantic City and the First Tee of Greater Atlantic City.

“Steps for today. From the time I left my hotel till the time I returned #HorizonPe­dometerChallenge @HorizonBCBSNJ” -@Kstupples

QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I mean I don’t know like all the numbers, but I know they can take me over if they win. I think that’s all that matters.” 
                                                                        - Inbee Park on Stacy Lewis and Lydia Ko pushing her for the No. 1 ranking

 

Rolex Rankings No. 92, Haru Nomura (-8)

Q.  Very good day today.  What do you think was the key to your round?
HARU NOMURA:
  All in all my putting was on.  My shot was really good.  The condition was really great.  So everything was perfect today.

Q.  Have you played this course before?
HARU NOMURA:
  Yes.

Q.  Couple times?
HARU NOMURA:
  Maybe, I think two times.

Q.  This is your second time?
HARU NOMURA: 
Yes.

Q.  Okay.  What do you like about the setup that works with your game?  What's the thing about the course you like?
HARU NOMURA:
  The condition of the fairway is good.

Q.  This year did you have any goals kind of set in mind?  You've been playing fairly well.  Anything you set in your head that you wanted to achieve this year?
HARU NOMURA:
  To win one of the tournaments is my goal.

Q.  So win one.  I like that.  And you've been just kind of middle of the pack.  Is there anything you've been working on that you wanted to get over the hump, to get into the Top 10, get a Top 10 finish or anything with your game?
HARU NOMURA:
  Up to now I'm getting better, and if I continue with my round like today, then I think I can get into the Top 10 in no time.

Q.  So putting more rounds together, back to back.  Do you feel more comfortable out on tour?  You've been out a couple of years.  Do you feel more comfortable playing in LPGA events?
HARU NOMURA:
  I love it.  I really enjoy the LPGA circuit, very, very much.

Q.  What would it mean for you to win this week or even this year?  What would it mean for you in your career?  What would it mean to you?
HARU NOMURA:
  My main goal is to obviously win a tournament, but winning this tournament is not going to change my altogether goals for the future.

Q.  What about any changes from today into tomorrow?  Anything that you wanted to maybe improve on?
HARU NOMURA:
  The only difference from today and tomorrow will be obviously I have morning tee time tomorrow.  The pin placement will be different, but everything else should be the same.

Q.  You want to keep everything the same?
HARU NOMURA:
  Yes.

Q.  What about and you played with Mi Hyang for the first time in a while.  How was that?
HARU NOMURA:
  I enjoyed every minute of it.

Q.  Does that help a lot with your game when you're playing with someone you're comfortable with?
HARU NOMURA:
  When I play with somebody that I know I just enjoy the atmosphere.

Q.  And you usually play better?
HARU NOMURA:
  Sometimes.  Not all the time.  Depends on who it is, I guess.

Rolex Rankings No. 53, Jennifer Johnson (-9)

THE MODERATOR:  All right.  Like to welcome Jennifer Johnson to the interview room after tying a course record today with a 62.  Jennifer, just talk about kind of your round.  You're obviously in the groove out there.  You shot 63 here before.  What was it about today out there?
JENNIFER JOHNSON:
  I don't know.  I just started out with a birdie, and on the second hole I almost made another birdie and then just kept winning off a few more birdies.
           
And I don't know.  Just gave myself chances all day long, and that really helps on these greens when you hit it close because if not, you're going to be hitting some bumps out there.
           
THE MODERATOR:  You talked about growing up on poa greens.  Talk about that.  What's kind of the difference there with a normal green you would see?
JENNIFER JOHNSON:
  Just in the afternoon you have to be a little more patient because they bloom, and they get a little more bumpy with the footprints.  But other than that, I mean it's just grass.

THE MODERATOR:  All right.  Like to open it up for questions.

Q.  You went through a stretch of five straight birdies, 9 through 13.  Do you remember the putts on all five of those holes?
JENNIFER JOHNSON: 
Yep.  Let's see.  9, like two inches.  I was pretty close to the green.  10 was about three feet.  11 was ‑‑ that was close to 50, 45 feet.  12 was like a foot.  13 was like 8, 9 feet.

Q.  And on 18, what club did you hit in and what happened there?
JENNIFER JOHNSON: 
I hit my 58 in to about seven, eight feet.

Q.  And anything on the range today that told you that, hey, a 62 or low number was possible?
JENNIFER JOHNSON:
  I've been playing well the past few weeks, and so I felt pretty good about my game, and you know, if you just let it happen and just let a good round come together, you know, normally it does.

Q.  When did you shoot the 63 here, and you know, because of that, did you have confidence coming into this event?
JENNIFER JOHNSON:
  I shot it ‑‑ I think it was the year before last.  And I actually, I shot 77 and then followed that up with a 63.  So that was pretty cool.
           
And I'm sorry, what was the second half.

Q.  Does that give you confidence, you know, when you shot a round like that on this course coming in here?
JENNIFER JOHNSON: 
Oh, yeah.  Yeah.  You can recall those memories, and you just know you've made a lot of birdies in the past and you just can get it going.

Q.  What are your emotions like when you're in the midst of making five straight birdies and you realize you're going low?  What's going through your mind?  What does that feel like to shoot a round like that?
JENNIFER JOHNSON:
  Yeah.  On 17 that's when ‑‑ that's when I was 8‑under, so I was trying to like beat my 63, so then I started getting a little nervous, because my goal was to get to like 10‑under, but I only got to 9.
           
But like when you shoot something that you've never shot before, nerves are going to happen.

Q.  What does this mean for you for the rest of the tournament?  I mean you're in the lead.  Obviously you tied the tournament record, but a lot of golf to play.  How do you not get ahead of yourself or how do the next two days set up for you?
JENNIFER JOHNSON:
  I mean the leaderboard is pretty packed, and there's a lot of birdies and a lot more golf left, so I just gotta kind of stay in my own little world and just play my game.

Q.  How would you rate the course conditions today and the weather?  Was there any wind at all out there?
JENNIFER JOHNSON:
  I would say like five to 10, but it was pretty manageable.  I mean the course is in great shape.  Other than the little rain I think made the greens a little soft, but other than that, I'm liking how it's playing.

Q.  And you've had a 63 here, a 62 here.  What are things that you like about this golf course?
JENNIFER JOHNSON:
  I mean the grass type, I feel like I just have had experience, and some par‑4s, there are longer clubs in and then there are some that are wedges and short shots.  I like the variety how, you know, you have your par holes, and the ones where you really get aggressive and try and go for birdie.

Q.  You said you got a little nervous after 17.  I mean how did that manifest itself and how do you sort of combat that or calm yourself down?  Do you have to talk to somebody?  How do you sort of settle the ship there a little bit?
JENNIFER JOHNSON:
  Just try and not think about it too much.  It's going to happen.  You know, I talk to my mental coach about this all the time.  You get adrenaline going, you just have to just let it take its course, don't try and fight it.

Rolex Rankings No. 104, Christina Kim (-7)

THE MODERATOR:  I'd like to welcome in Christina Kim, 7‑under today, Christina.  Fantastic round.  You said you felt good, you said everything was clicking.  Take us through the round today.
CHRISTINA KIM:
  Well, I ‑‑ I don't know.  I made a birdie somewhere.
           
THE MODERATOR:  You made a couple birdies.
CHRISTINA KIM: 
Made a few, yeah, I'm sorry.
           
THE MODERATOR:  No bogeys.
CHRISTINA KIM:
  No, no bogeys today.  No, I have a lot of great memories from this place, and I've been here so many damn times, I should know how to play out here.
           
Did I start on 1 or 10?  Started on 1.  Birdied No. 3.  I had like 200 yards to the flag, hit a 4‑iron, two‑putted from like 30 feet.
           
Then No. 4 is a par‑4.  I had 139, hit an 8‑iron to about 10 feet, made that putt.  On No. 5 I ‑‑ let me look at my book.  I'm very sorry.  5 I'm guessing I hit the fairway, hit the green, made the putt.
           
THE MODERATOR:  Solid guess.
CHRISTINA KIM:
  I did, yes.  No. 9, I hit the green in two, was just shy of the green actually and then two‑putted.  Had a big slope to the putt, so I was able to use my Aimpoint Express and fiddle with the green and was able to get it within pretty decent tap‑in range.
           
And then I birdied No. 11.  We had stood on the tee for about 20 minutes on the 11 because there's so much ‑‑ I don't know if it's heather or fescue, but the long grass, I know it's giving a lot of players a lot of trouble.  So there was a bit of trouble happening in the group in front of us.  So we stood on that tee for about 20 minutes.
           
And just hit a 5‑iron into the middle of the green and I rolled in a pretty good putt actually, it was probably like 35 feet, so it was one of the longest putts I've made since like the 90s.  (Laughs).  It's been a while.
           
A lot of the other putts were just stock standard, hit the greens within 15, 20 feet, made the putt.
          
 No. 18 I was maybe five yards off the front of the green.  And you know, these greens are very tricky in that they're poa annua, so they're very soft on top, but they're firm underneath, so it's kind of hard if you want to try and hit a bump‑and‑run with a 7‑iron, which I was thinking, so I just thought I'll just smash a putter and then putt it to had probably about seven feet for birdie or so, and then it's either going in or it's not.  Just give it a good stroke, and heard it go down in the bottom of the cup, and the crowd roared.
           
THE MODERATOR:  You got a big ovation at the end.  And you said you feel very comfortable here and obviously the crowd loves you.  Talk about how special this event is and what makes it so special.
CHRISTINA KIM:
  You know, we've been here for so many years.  ShopRite has been such a huge supporter of the LPGA for going on what, 37 or 8 years or something like that; a long time anyway, and Seaview has been a huge supporter of the LPGA as well, and I used to be represented by Layla and Tim when they were back working with Octagon before they decided to do their own endeavors.
           
I just have a lot of great memories out here, a lot of low scores out here, a lot of fun out here.  One of my first memories of the LPGA Tour I played with Betsy King at this tournament my rookie year, and it was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.  It's seared into my head.  You know, there's just so many positives, so many wonderful things here.  The people love us.
          
I remember coming last year after Superstorm Sandy had hit and just seeing how much work the golf course staff had put into the golf course just to get it to the caliber of an LPGA event.  And you always want to have hat's off to them.  Without them we wouldn't have these events.
           
THE MODERATOR:  Sure.  Now, you spoke a little bit outside about the new diet, the cooking.  You kind of have a whole new lifestyle.  You said it's made you more happy; you're enjoying yourself.  Give us the details on that.
CHRISTINA KIM:
 Yeah.  I'm eating like a caveman.  It's not exactly a diet, it's more of a lifestyle, but I've been fighting tendonitis for about four years now and underwent some platelet spinning during the off season at the very beginning of this year and had to miss out the first two events of the season in Australia and the Bahamas, which I never miss events.  So it was devastating to me.
           
And after the Kraft I had gone and decided it was time to do something, you know.  I just did a little bit of research, spoke with some people, some people very close to me.  And I had during the off week before Hawaii I went and stayed with some people and had paleo food all week, and I thought it was just going to be like rabbit food and all this awful ‑‑ I mean it's like you can have like these amazing, amazing dishes, which in the mornings I have this egg bake with spinach and tomatoes and homemade sausage that I make and this porridge.  It's like oatmeal but it's made out of nuts.  I have my own blender that I bring with me.  I have ramekins I have.  I bring a bag of spices with me every week, and I'm cooking every week, and I'm really experiencing a lot of joy from that.
           
I always tell a lot of my friends when they're feeling kind of stagnant, you need to find a release.  You need to find another hobby, and I was always talking the talk, but I never walked the walk, because it was golf, sleep, golf, sleep.
           
I turned 30 in March.  Life has just started.  I'm so thrilled, and I decided, let's see if we enjoy cooking, and I love the idea of preparing nourishment for others, and basically food is life, and I feel the differences now.
           
Even if five years down the road, I don't lose an ounce of weight, if I'm always meant to be a big girl, I'm going to be a big girl.  I know I can feel the inflammation has gone down tremendously in my body, and so I'm more happy; I'm more aware of what my body is doing, and I just live life with a lot more clarity now.  And I still babble.
           
THE MODERATOR:  Beautiful.  Questions for Christina.

Q.  You said tendonitis.  Where, in your knees?
CHRISTINA KIM:
  No.  I had basically tennis elbow.  And I had it starting at the end of 2010, went from tendonitis to tendonosis, from tendonosis to tendonopathy, and then I had an MRI done in December of last year and found a small tear in my lateral epicondylitis ‑‑ I'm not sure.
           
And so the platelet spinning was done by the director of our medical staff, Top Tier Sports Med, Dr. Bruce Thomas did it.  And it was ‑‑ it's one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life.  It hurt as all hell, but there were no knives, which I'm very thankful for, and I was able to use my own platelets.  So I was using my own body to heal, and it's been remarkable.
           
I've gone several months now without any pain, and you know, I'm utilizing our trailer, which I think is huge.  I used to never go in there, but now I'm in there all the time with the physios.  You used to go in there when you were hurt and you had a blister or needed a Band‑Aid or whatever.  Now I'm realizing that I need to go in there and be preventative.  Took me 30 years to figure that out.

Q.  And you enjoy this game so much, but the wins haven't really been as plentiful as I'm sure you would like.  What's been your attitude ‑‑ I know you've been hurt, but what's been your attitude the last couple of years about golf and wanting to do a little more on the course?
CHRISTINA KIM:
  Well, from 2010, every year it's been different till now.  So I mean 2011, I went through pretty severe bout of depression that I didn't really talk about until ‑‑ was it '13 that I brought it up?  I can't even remember.
           
'11 and '12 I'd gone through a pretty severe bout of depression, attempts at my own life, and just realized ‑‑ you know, it took me a long time to realize that golf is just a game.  Golf does not define who I am as a person, you know.  You know, I'm kind and I'm giving and I'm caring and I worry about others, but I'm also an athlete.  You can't use that, but I'm also ‑‑ I can be a jerk at times as well.
           
But you know, it's been very frustrating, but you know, I came in this season knowing that I had a tear in one of my tendons, and if I hadn't gone in to get the MRI, if I hadn't gone and seen the doctor, I would not ‑‑ maybe ‑‑ I wouldn't even be teeing it up right now.  I mean it could have been a full tear.
           
It's already almost the beginning of June, and I could have been sitting out for over a year.  So I'm just thankful to have tee times.  I'm just thankful for all the shots I have and the support and love I get from my family and my friends, and you know, it's just golf.

 

Rolex Rankings No. 1, Inbee Park (-5)

THE MODERATOR:  All right.  Like to welcome Inbee Park to the media room.  Great round, 5‑under 67 today.  Talk about what it was like to birdie that hole, what that does for you going into tomorrow.
INBEE PARK:
  It was a very good round today.  Obviously I wasn't really confident after last week's cut, so today I really tried to really work on something that I really needed to work on, something that didn't work last week.
           
And yeah, looks like the new tweaks are working really well.  And it feels like I hadn't had a good putting day in a while.  And yeah it was a good putting day.  And that's what I like the most about and I'll try to get the ball striking going for the next two days I think I'll be good.
           
THE MODERATOR:  What were those tweaks, something in your swing, something in your putting?
INBEE PARK:
  A little bit of everything because last week seems like nothing seems to be working.  I was really missing every putt to the left last week, so I was trying to have my upper body a little bit more calmer this week and I feel like I'm rolling the ball much better than last week.
           
THE MODERATOR:  All right.  Like to open it up for questions.

Q.  Talk about your putting being a bit of an issue last week.  Were there certain things you did specifically to fix that this week?
INBEE PARK: 
Yeah.  I mean even if I wasn't putting good this season, I was still finishing like Top 5, top 3s, and you know, with the good finishes, you don't really try to change anything even if it's not working so well, but after last week I think everything really clicked, and I really thought I need to change something right now.
           
And yeah, my shoulder was going down too much during the follow through, and that's why I was missing everything to the left, and so I tried to really calm it down on my right side.  And it seems like I'm missing it less and less.
           
And yeah, last week was ‑‑ after the putt I didn't even need to look at it.  It was off line as soon as it started.  So yeah, it feels like now I can look at the ball a little bit more and see it going in a little bit more.

Q.  Inbee, when you have a problem that you're trying to correct, do you practice extra ‑‑ about how many hours a day were you practicing on the putting and were you practicing on any other aspect of your game?
INBEE PARK:
  I mean I'm not like, you know, long practice person, but I had a lot of time after last week, obviously, not playing the weekend.  So I mean I spent a lot of time on this golf course and played a lot of holes when I came here.  I came here on Saturday and started playing since Sunday, and tournament didn't start till Friday, so I had a lot of time to myself and a lot of time to practice, and I spent probably like a good four, five hours per day practicing and playing out there.
           
So yeah, I feel like I got good practice done, and yeah, the results are showing, so that was very good.

Q.  Inbee, talk a little bit about your confidence.  Was there a point out there, an early birdie or something where you felt your confidence come back, you felt like your old self again out there?
INBEE PARK:
  Yeah, I mean I was a little bit worried before I teed off today because of the last week's finish, so I was a little bit unconfident.  But after I birdied the first hole, that really gave me a lot of confidence going into the rest of the 17 holes.
           
And I probably holed about a 15‑footer on the first hole, which I wasn't able to hole a 15‑footer for the last, I don't know, the last month, so yeah, so I feel like something was going the right way today, and yeah, since the first hole.

Q.  Was this the best you putted all season today?
INBEE PARK:
  I would say one of the days that I putted the best.  I mean I really don't think I got everything today.  I mean I strike the ball very well today and gave myself a lot of opportunities within 20 foot, about 10, 12 times, and I made 6 out of that, so I think that's still very good.

Q.  How important is being No. 1 to you?  Is that way up on the list?
INBEE PARK:
  It is very important, but I mean I try to have the fun before I try and think about the numbers or somebody is trying to catch me.  Not to try to think so much about that, and I mean my main goal is to play well in the tournaments and strike the ball well, you know, and trying to hole some putts.  And yeah, No. 1 is very important, but I mean it's not everything.

Q.  Do you know where other people stand in terms of how close they are to you?
INBEE PARK:
  I mean I don't know like all the numbers, but I know they can take me over if they win.  I think that's all that matters.

Q.  Was that 15‑footer on 1, was that your longest putt you made today or what other longer putts did you make today?
INBEE PARK:
  Yeah that was the longest one today.  The other birdies were quite less than 10‑footers today.

Q.  What made you come here on Saturday after Alabama?  Obviously you could have taken a couple of days off and shown up on Monday or Tuesday.  What made you come here right from Alabama on Saturday?
INBEE PARK:
  I played bad for two days, and I mean to be honest with you, I just didn't want to stay there anymore and just go to the new spot and try to have the new mindset.

There is no need to practice on that golf course when I don't need to play any more, so yeah, I was trying to come here early and prepare for this week.


Rolex Rankings No. 15, Na Yeon Choi (-5)

THE MODERATOR:  All right.  I'd like to welcome in our now coleader Na Yeon Choi into the interview room.  Na Yeon, very solid round out of you; 66.  Super strong finish with the eagle.  Talk about that finish and how important that was to bring some momentum into this weekend.
NA YEON CHOI:
  Actually, I started with a bogey, but you know, I tried to keep calm, and I had great composure out there, and I had a lot of birdies on especially par‑5.  I got only one 5 out there, so I think it was a pretty good round, and I finished strong.  That maybe gave me a lot of good vibes for the next two days, so I feel great.
           
THE MODERATOR:  Now coming off a subpar week in Mobile, were you working on anything or concentrating on anything to improve?  What were you hoping to change this week?
NA YEON CHOI:
  No.  I keep trying to more swing thoughts, for technical, because when my body gets tired, then my arm is going higher.
           
Actually, last night I watched on TV, and Rory McIlroy he plays so well, and I watched the whole last night, and I got some good vibes from that and good thoughts from that; so even this morning when I doing warmup, I was kept thinking his swing rhythm and everything, and I think that helped me a lot out there.  And hopefully I can see him like even tonight on TV.
           
THE MODERATOR:  A little bit of luck of the Irish.  You just said your swing coach is Irish; your new caddie, you guys just started in San Francisco, is Irish.  Grew up with Rory, and you said, all right, maybe I'll go watch him and you think that might have helped.  Talk about that relationship.
NA YEON CHOI:
  Yeah, I'm very fan of Rory.  He has a great swing, especially my coach, they grew up together when they were young, so I heard a lot of good stories from him, about him.  So you know, I never met him, but it feels like we are good friends each other.  And hopefully one day I will see him and meet him.
           
THE MODERATOR:  Awesome.  Questions for Na Yeon.

Q.  How far was the putt?
NA YEON CHOI:
  I think 220 from the second shot to the pin.  Then my ball just finished like front edge, which was 10 yards shorter than pin.  And I got like 30 feet to the eagle putt.

Q.  You said 220.  What did you hit in?
NA YEON CHOI:
  I hit 3‑wood.

Q.  And you were 4‑under on the three par‑5s.  Have you had a lot of success on par‑5s this year because of your length?
NA YEON CHOI:
  I mean I really try because especially this course is very a lot of reachable par‑5s out there, so I was really focus on par‑5 make a lower score out there.  Some par‑4 is pretty long, so I think some hole, even par is a really good score, and also, I had a bogey on 14.
           
I mean I missed the par putt, but I wasn't like, you know, disappointed because that's pretty long hole, par‑4, and I have still a lot of holes left, so I was try to keep focus my game.

Q.  And how would you say your year has gone to this point?
NA YEON CHOI:
  Not bad, you know.  I mean I haven't won like since CME in 2012, but you know, I finished runner up a couple times last year, and I finished third on first event this year, and I finished fourth couple weeks ago in Dallas.  So you know, getting ‑‑ I think getting closer.  And I got lot of good feeling about my game.  So I feel great.
           
THE MODERATOR:  You've been coming here for several years now.  Are you a gambler?  What do you like to do when you come to Atlantic City?  You have enough money to throw down a couple of dollars.  Come on.
NA YEON CHOI:
  I haven't been there, because you know, especially this week my mom came from Korea, so we have a villa right there and a whole kitchen in there.  So every day she cook Korean food.  And also my caddie, from Irish, Ireland, but he come to my house every night and having Korean dinner together.
           
THE MODERATOR:  Awesome.  When was the last time your mom came out to see you play?
NA YEON CHOI:
  Last time, I think Bahamas.
           
THE MODERATOR:  Okay.  Been a little while.  But nice to have her around.
NA YEON CHOI:
  Yeah.  Always when my mom is here I have great results, so I think she gives me some good luck.


Rolex Rankings No. 10, Michelle Wie (-4)

THE MODERATOR:  All right.  We'd like to welcome Michelle Wie into the interview room here at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.  Solid way to open up, 67.  Better than your opening round last year.  You had a solid round last year, 68.  Talk about the importance of opening up strong here especially in a three‑day event.
MICHELLE WIE:
  Yeah, for sure.  You kind of play and you kind of forget it's a three‑day event.  You forget it's a Friday, not a Thursday, but you just go out there, I just went out there and tried to take advantage of shorter holes.  Definitely was playing a lot easier than it was yesterday in the pro am for sure, but yeah.
           
THE MODERATOR:  Talk about your game plan today.  Did you have anything specific you guys wanted to achieve, anything you wanted to stick to?
MICHELLE WIE:
  Going into this golf course, I always want to take advantage of the par‑5s on the front nine, but didn't quite do that today.  Just keeping it in the right places, not getting too greedy and just kind of staying below the hole and just the normal stuff really.
           
THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Michelle.

Q.  Michelle, could you talk about the importance of that last putt, saving par there, kind of maintaining your momentum going into overnight?
MICHELLE WIE:
  Yeah, you know, I think that it was unfortunate I hit in the heather, and I made a start play of taking an unplayable instead of trying to hack it out.
           
But yeah, I missed a lot of putts out there today, so it was good to make that one on the last hole.

Q.  Michelle, the fact that you didn't take advantage of some of the par‑5s like you said you wanted to and you still scored well, does that give you encouragement for tomorrow and Sunday?
MICHELLE WIE: 
Yeah, you know, I think that I did well on the par‑4s and the par‑3s today and tomorrow I just gotta keep doing the same and just try to take advantage of the par‑5s and just keep doing what I'm doing.

Q.  Michelle, you said it wasn't a real great day putting.  Was there something wrong?
MICHELLE WIE:
  I mean I just gave myself a lot of chances and read them right, just misjudged the speed on a couple of them.  But yeah, it's not like I miss‑hit a lot of putts.  I just gave myself a lot more opportunities and I just missed a couple, but it was good on the last hole that I just confidently just made it and finally got the speed and the direction right.

Q.  Well, 67 obviously the ball striking must have been pretty good, huh?
MICHELLE WIE:
  Yeah, it was okay.

 

 

 

Topics: Notes and Interviews, Johnson, Jennifer, ShopRite LPGA Classic, Nomura, Haru, Kim, Christina, Park, Inbee, Choi, Na Yeon [+]

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