Manulife Financial LPGA Classic - First Round Notes and Interviews

Manulife Financial LPGA Classic
Grey Silo Golf Course
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
First-Round Notes & Interviews
June 5, 2014


Rolex Rankings No. 10 Michelle Wie

Rolex Rankings No. 7 Shanshan Feng
Rolex Rankings No. 13 Cristie Kerr
Rolex Rankings No. 23 Hee Young Park

Rolex Rankings No. 138 Xi Yu Lin
Rolex Rankings No. 215 Jacqui Concolino
Rolex Rankings No. 328 Brooke Henderson



Hee Young Park’s third-round 61 and 26-under-par total a year ago was fresh on Michelle Wie’s mind as the fifth group off the first tee Thursday. She knew the birdies have to come in bunches to win this tournament, and she did Thursday, posting a 6-under-par 65. But while Wie’s birdies on three of the last four were enough to put her out of reach of the rest of the field in round one, they weren’t enough to separate her from the defending champ, who went off in the breezier afternoon wave and fired a 6-under 65 to match Wie.

This is only the fourth time in Wie’s career that she’s held a piece of the day one lead. Previously, she owned at least a share of the first-round lead at the 2005 US Women’s Open, the 2010 CN Canadian Women’s Open (which she won), and the 2012 Lorena Ochoa Invitational.

“I was early off and I just wanted to make a lot of birdies early on.
And just especially 26 under winning this last year, it’s definitely one of those golf courses where you have to keep making birdies,” Wie said. “My 6 under today, you know, it’s not enough. I need to keep making birdies for the rest of the weekend. Still a lot of work cut out for me.”

Park birdied the first hole of the day – the 11th for her – and went blemish free the rest of the way, sprinkling in five more birdies to tie Wie. This 65 was better than the one she shot in the final round a year ago to win, though, when you factor in the 20-25 mile per hour breeze that whipped through the golf course Thursday.

“I just keep thinking positive, keep it simple,” Park said. “And then I didn’t really expect to play well today because last year and this year, pretty different golf condition.”

Park said in her practice round Tuesday and Wednesday that her and her caddie were visualizing different spots on the golf course where she made putts and how they broke, and thinks the positive mojo of that exercise played a part in her continued destruction of Grey Silo Golf Course on a day in which she hit 17 of 18 greens.

And if she keeps playing like this, could her tournament record – and LPGA record tying - 26-under-par from a year ago be in jeopardy?

“I hope so. That’s wishing. But I’m just happy today played pretty good and then shoot under par, which is I think maybe 6-under-par pretty good position,” Park said. “Still three more rounds left, so going to keep staying patient and doing same thing.”

Shanshan Feng is just one shot behind Wie and Park in solo second after a bogey-free 5-under-par 66 on Thursday. Cristie Kerr, who has never played this event before, fired a 4-under-67 on the par-71, 6,330 yard track to join Xi Yu Lin in shared possession of third. Newly-minted world No. 1 Stacy Lewis shot 2-under 69 and is four shots back. No. 2 Inbee Park is tied for 18th with Lewis and fourteen others. Thirty-one players are within four shots of the lead and the stacked leaderboard should provide for plenty of movement amongst the leaders heading into the weekend.


PATIENCE IS KEY

Three-time LPGA Tour winner and major champion Shanshan Feng got off to a good start in Canada this week with a bogey-free 5-under 66 at Grey Silo Golf Course. The 24-year-old from China said coming into this week, she knew she couldn’t get ahead of herself with so many birdie opportunities. She hit all 14 fair- ways on Thursday and hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation.

“Well, this course is normally a birdie course, so everybody’s going to make a lot of birdies,” said Feng. “Today I think the wind picked up a little so the course was playing longer. I think 5 under, I stayed patient because even though I miss a lot of birdie putts but I stayed patient and I think that was the key.”

Feng tied for seventh in 2012 at this event but missed the cut last season. Feng said she was disappointed to only play two rounds at Grey Silo a year ago. She’s trying to break into the winner’s circle for the first time
this season and last win came at the season-ending CME Group Titleholders last year. Feng said she can only hope some of her birdie putts drop this year in comparison to her first two rounds in 2013.

“I mean, like for me I always, you know, tell myself to be patient even though I miss a lot of birdie putts be- cause last year here everything was really bad so I missed the cut by one,” said Feng. “This year here I’m not giving myself any pressure. Make it and make it. If I don’t make it, it’s still okay.”


KERR WANTS HERS
Cristie Kerr’s watched week after week as all the highly ranked American players around her got a win this season. The former world No. 1 with 16 career victories is yet to join the party this year, though, but she got to work on that on Thursday with a 4-under-par 67.

“Not any more pressure than I put on myself. It would be nice to get one here, for sure, yeah. I have a good time with Craig atrale on the bag, my caddie here, and just looking forward to the next three days.”

She was especially pleased with the way she rallied Thursday. After the first eight holes, she was 2-under, but made one bad swing on hole No. 1 and made a double but was able to birdie four holes coming in.

“I played great. I bounced back with two quick birdies after that. The par 5s actually on that side played tough. The wind switched around and they weren’t reachable and they kind of played tough,” Kerr said. “I was able to get a couple more birdies coming in. Pretty pleased. I still have things to work on, but pretty pleased.”

With this golf course, score’s all relative to how the wind blows. On a clear day like Wednesday with little breeze, the numbers can get low in a hurry. On a blustery day like Thursday’s first round, 4-under was quite the loop.

“I shot 10-under in the pro-am yesterday with like hardly any wind,” Kerr said, “and I had never shot in the 20s before on my life on nine holes and I did that yesterday. So it was fun, it was fun to know that I could do it.”


HENDERSON AGAIN PROVING SHE BELONGS
The world’s No. 3 amateur again proved she belonged amongst the world’s best Thursday. Playing in her sixth LPGA event as a 16-year-old, Canadian Brooke Henderson fired a 1-under-par 70 with birdies on the last two holes to finish under-par for the day.

“It was a rough start, but a good finish really saved my round,” Henderson said. “One-under-par in this wind on the first day, I’ll definitely take it.”

The young homegrown talent continued to prove that she might not be just the country’s best amateur, she might be the country’s best women’s golfer period. Henderson posted the best score of nine Canadians in the field on Thursday.

So it’s little surprise that Henderson’s not just out here for experience, she wants to win the golf tournament.

“Definitely first is to make the cut, but after that you never know what will happen,” she said.

She first competed in an LPGA event a little less than two years ago when she was just 14 at the 2012 CN Canadian Women’s Open, missing the cut. She was scared and nervous then, though. That’s hardly the case anymore. She’s already teed it up with the two players she idolized most growing up, playing with with Canadian Lorie Kane here last year at this event and childhood hero Morgan Pressel in the third round of the 2013 US Women’s Open.

“Less starstruck. I played with Michelle Wie three times last year, which really helped calm me down because she’s one of the biggest names out here,” Henderson said. “I mean I’m much more comfortable and less ner- vous around the big stars and I enjoy the crowds a little more than I did a couple years ago.”

Sooner than later Henderson may be the star that young Canadian players coming up get nervous around.


HOME AWAY FROM HOME IN CANADA
Third-year LPGA Tour member Jacqui Concolino has learned a few lessons in her experiences out on Tour. The Orlando, Fla. resident knows a good opening round puts you in good position but doesn’t win you the trophy. Concolino shot her low round of the season of Thursday with a 3-under 68 and sits three shots off the lead.

“Anytime you put yourself in contention it’s a good day,” said Concolino. “Can’t win it on the first day, you don’t want to shoot yourself out of it.”

The former Vanderbilt University standout listed Canada as her favorite place to visit in her LPGA Player Guide profile. She knows the Canadian fanbase will show up in numbers this week in Waterloo and knows the crowd appreciates good golf.

“The fans are unbelievable everywhere we go, just golf crazy up here,” said Concolino. “I guess maybe be- cause your season’s short. Yeah, everyone’s just golf savvy and it’s fun to come up here and play. They ap- preciate good shots and everyone’s so nice. Going off of last year and the year before, it just keeps growing, so excited to see what happens.”

The 26-year old year old will try for a strong finish this week at Grey Silo and has her sights on taking some positive energy down to Pinehurst for the U.S. Women’s Open in two weeks. Concolino qualified for her first national championship after finishing 70th on the LPGA Tour Official Money List in 2013.\

“It would be huge, you know,” said Concolino. “With a week off and the U.S. Open coming up, it would be nice to grab a little momentum going into that week.”


TV COVERAGE
Golf Channel aired the tournament live Thursday and it will be back again on Friday through Saturday.

Friday: 12:30 PM - 2:30 PM EST Saturday: 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM EST Sunday: 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM EST


QUOTE OF THE DAY
“We’ve been working together over five years, so now even when I see her and I look at her, she knows I’m thirsty or I’m sleepy and don’t have to explain a lot.”
- Hee Young Park on her relationship with her caddie Kylie Pratt


Rolex Rankings No. 10 Michelle Wie

Q. (in progress) ... but you seemed to manage it pretty well. What was the key?

MICHELLE WIE: You know, just gave myself a couple opportunities and made a couple of putts today, which was nice, yeah.

Q. And obviously this is a golf course where you really have to kind of put the accelerator down, right, because you know there's going to be a lot of birdies made. Does that go through your mind that you're just going to have to keep pressing?

MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, you know, that's definitely what I thought today. I was early off and I just wanted to make a lot of birdies early on. And just especially 26 under winning this last year, it's definitely one of those golf courses where you have to keep making birdies. My 6 under today, you know, it's not enough. I need to keep making birdies for the rest of the weekend. Still a lot of work cut out for me.

Q. What did you like about your game today specifically, Michelle? Was there one thing in particular?

MICHELLE WIE: Nothing really in particular. It was just consistent. I felt like I judged the wind pretty well today.

Q. Is this the toughest wind round you've played out here so far?


MICHELLE WIE: Tuesday practice round was a lot windier, so I think that was very helpful.

Q. But tournament round for the last couple years?

MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, for sure.

Q. How about the galleries today? It's Thursday at noon hour and you've got a couple thousand people probably following you. Can you just talk about that?

MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, you know, it's great crowds this week. I always really look forward to coming up here and seeing all my Canadian fans, and hopefully over the weekend more people will show up, but it's great to see everyone.


Rolex Rankings No. 7 Shanshan Feng

Q. What was the key to today's round?

SHANSHAN FENG: Well, this course is normally a birdie course, so everybody's going to make a lot of birdies. Today I think the wind picked up a little so the course was playing longer. I think 5 under, I stayed patient because even though I miss a lot of birdie putts but I stayed patient and I think that was the key.

Q. Do you expect if this wind stays up that the scores might be a little lower than last year?

SHANSHAN FENG: I don't think so. Well, depends on the weather. If the wind stops, then we have a chance to break the record.

Q. When you go out and you know this course gives up a lot of birdies, do you have to change your mentality, sort of say I've got to go, go, go and sort of push all the time?

SHANSHAN FENG: Not really. I mean, like for me I always, you know, tell myself to be patient even though I miss a lot of birdie putts because last year here everything was really bad so I missed the cut by one. This year here I'm not giving myself any pressure. Make it and make it. If I don't make it, it's still okay.

Q. Where's your game at heading into this week?


SHANSHAN FENG: Not bad. I've had two Top 10 finishes in a row before I came here


Rolex Rankings No. 13 Cristie Kerr

Q. Good round today.

CRISTIE KERR: Thanks.

Q. Pretty pleased with it?

CRISTIE KERR: Nice to be out of the wind, yeah, yeah. Especially I turned at 2 under and then made a bad swing on the first hole, made double. Yeah, I played great. I bounced back with two quick birdies after that. The par 5s actually on that side played tough. The wind switched around and they weren't reachable and they kind of played tough. I was able to get a couple more birdies coming in. Pretty pleased. I still have things to work on, but pretty pleased.

Q. How much tougher is this course with the wind blowing than last year with the wind?


CRISTIE KERR: This is my first year here.

Q. Oh, that's right. It was windy all the practice rounds, too, right?

CRISTIE KERR: Yeah. I mean on the 8th hole I hit 5 iron today and came up pretty short, and I hit 5 wood in the practice round. So it was less windy than it was then.

Q. This is your long awaited Waterloo debut?

CRISTIE KERR: Well, I came one year and got injured. I was actually here and had to leave.

Q. I'm sure you read about the low scores and all that. Is the course maybe playing tougher than you had envisioned?


CRISTIE KERR: Well, with the wind, yeah, definitely. I shot 10 under in the pro am yesterday with like hardly any wind and I had never shot in the 20s before on my life on nine holes and I did that yesterday. So it was fun, it was fun to know that I could do it. It was really only supposed to be only some light wind today and it's actually a lot stronger than I thought it would be, so it's a good round in the afternoon in the wind.

Q. So what you're saying is if this wind dies down tomorrow


CRISTIE KERR: It could be low scores, but it's fun to see low scores. Fans want to see it and they want to see birdies, so it's a fun course.

Q. 10 under would have tied the tournament record.


CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, but it's a pro am, it doesn't count.

Q. Is there any pressure on you seeing all the other highly ranked Americans win to kind of get on the scoreboard, too?

CRISTIE KERR: Not any more pressure than I put on myself. It would be nice to get one here, for sure, yeah. I have a good time with Craig on the bag, my caddie here, and just looking forward to the next three days.

Q. Does it get you excited about the Solheim Cup, though, seeing how well the other Americans are playing?


CRISTIE KERR: Oh, for sure, yeah, yeah. We definitely need to bring it back to North America.

Q. Who's usually on the bag for you? I know Craig is this week.


CRISTIE KERR: Mark Wuersching. He's an Australian, he's got some visa issues and he's getting it straightened out and he'll be back on the bag at the Open. He caddied for me for the last two events of last year (inaudible). Craig's a very positive guy, he knows golf, he understands it and I always have fun with him on the bag. He caddies for his wife, Nicole Castrale. They're just not playing this week.

Q. Have you been down to Pinehurst yet?

CRISTIE KERR: I have.

Q. What did you think of that?


CRISTIE KERR: I think it's awesome. We'll see what happens with the weather and the course conditions, but it will be a pleasure to play it.

Q. How different is it playing an Open course that doesn't have rough like that?

CRISTIE KERR: They're making it a lot about not having rough, but if you miss the fairway, you're in the wiry grass and sand and stuff and that's almost worse.

Q. Do the lies get worse the further off you go from the fairway in that stuff or is it all pretty the same?

CRISTIE KERR: You could get super lucky or super (whispered.)


Rolex Rankings No. 23 Hee Young Park

Q. What is it about this golf course that you like so much that allows you to play so well here?

HEE YOUNG PARK: I don't know, just to keep thinking positive, keep it simple. And then I didn't really expect to play well today because last year and this year, pretty different golf condition, like this year more (indiscernible) and not firm. So I thought should be like hard. And then we played a month earlier than last year, so more windier course condition. But my caddie and I just kept it simple numbers and didn't care about other players play well or not, just one by one shot play.

Q. When you come back to a place where you've won before, do you get good feelings? Does that help you play well?

HEE YOUNG PARK: Yeah, even I did day off Monday and then Tuesday practiced nine holes and I had look. Then Kylie and I visualized, oh, this position I putted here and then I made it, and I rolled it again and it became like good feeling. Then I think that's lot of help today, too.

Q. Are you surprised at how well you shot with the wind today?

HEE YOUNG PARK: I know. Today bit lucky. Last week I played a pretty good (indiscernible,) so just decided to (indiscernible) also this week and this week worked good and pretty good second shot. I didn't really miss the second shot so that I hit the green, lot of chance to birdie putt. And also I tried to putt on some uphill easier putt rather than like hit it too aggressive downhill, so I think that worked.

Q. How special would it be to win here again?


HEE YOUNG PARK: I don't know. I've been before in Korea when I was like young and then rookie in Korea, Korean Tour. When I play well golf course, I can play well, so maybe I don't know.

Q. That's a good sign?

HEE YOUNG PARK: I don't know.

Q. Do you think you can shoot 26 under again?

HEE YOUNG PARK: I hope so. That's wishing. But I just happy today played pretty good and then shoot under par, which is I think maybe 6 under par pretty good position. Still three more rounds left, so going to keep saying keep patient and same thing.

Q. What is it about you and Kylie's relationship that works so well out there?


HEE YOUNG PARK: We've been work together over five years, so now even when I see her and I look at her and she knew I'm thirsty or I'm sleepy or don't have to explain like a lot. So I think that's becoming to the golf course have a lot, too. When I'm nervous a little more, even same distance, she say, Oh, Hee Young, you too much pressure, so maybe one club down and a nice swing, or she give opinion like good distance club. Yeah, lot of Canadian people likes me, I think, and I'm motivated.

Q. What were you saying, your mother's friend lives in Toronto?


HEE YOUNG PARK: My elementary school friend actually, so we've been in relationship like over 20 years. We had to keep in touch. When I come over Toronto or Canada, she come over, fly or train, take the train or all of the places come over to Canada watch my game.

Q. That's awesome.


HEE YOUNG PARK: Yeah.

Q. What's her name?

HEE YOUNG PARK: Sammy.


Rolex Rankings No. 138 Xi Yu Lin

Q. (in progress)... for this year so far. How's that sound?


XI YU LIN: It's pretty good, yeah, because today actually is pretty windy and my driver have been not very good in the first couple holes. So I'm glad that my iron is doing pretty well today, so I make myself a lot of birdie chances.

Q. How were you able to settle down after not hitting driver well to start out with?

XI YU LIN: Because I know my tendency, last week I'm not doing very well, then I know why my swing is not good. Actually I just changed a little bit and also because the wind changed today, so I have more chance to use 3 wood to tee off, which is so much better. So I think at last I hit a couple good shots.

Q. Two back of Michelle. Do you like where you stand?


XI YU LIN: Yeah. I don't know like my position before I finished the round, I just trying to make more birdies because I know I will make some bogeys, so I need to earn more than I spend.

Q. How big was the birdie on 18 to end?

XI YU LIN: That's pretty good because my driver hits really long that hole. I didn't realize this almost in the water, so it's not a very good lie for the second shot. I hit it like okay but I (inaudible) off my third shot because it's a very good golf shot.

Q. What's the strategy tomorrow?


XI YU LIN: Tomorrow because I tee off early and going to be cold maybe, and I don't know maybe the wind change again, so just like I hope I can like hole more birdies. Like I said, I earn more than I can spend a little bit.


Rolex Rankings No. 215 Jacqui Concolino

Q. How were the conditions compared to maybe last year at this event?

JACQUI CONCOLINO: A little obviously soggy. I think it was a little firmer last year, not as much wind. Yeah, the golf course is playing fair even though it's windy. It's still a good test but birdies can be had.

Q. Obviously disappointed with the last bogey, but overall pleased with your round?

JACQUI CONCOLINO: Yeah, absolutely, definitely pleased. Anytime you put yourself in contention it's a good day. Can't shoot yourself out of it. Can't win it on the first day, you don't want to shoot yourself out of it.

Q. I know you said your favorite place in the media guide was Canada to travel. Why do you like it up here so much?


JACQUI CONCOLINO: The fans are unbelievable everywhere we go, just golf crazy up here. I guess maybe because your season's short. Yeah, everyone's just golf savvy and it's fun to come up here and play. They appreciate good shots and everyone's so nice.

Q. Is this one of the better crowds on Tour?

JACQUI CONCOLINO: Absolutely, yeah. Going off of last year and the year before, it just keeps growing, so excited to see what happens.

Q. How big would a good week for you be this week?

JACQUI CONCOLINO: It would be huge, you know. With a week off and the U.S. Open coming up, it would be nice to grab a little momentum going into that week.

Q. Are you in the field at the U.S. Open?


JACQUI CONCOLINO: Yes, sir.

Q. When did you do that?

JACQUI CONCOLINO: Money list from last year.

Q. And you're a Toronto Maple Leafs fan?


JACQUI CONCOLINO: Yeah, huge Toronto Maple Leafs fan, yeah.

Q. How did that start?

JACQUI CONCOLINO: My brother grew up watching them. And I don't know, I fell in love with Phil Kessel, too. I think he's phenomenal.


Rolex Rankings No. 328 Brooke Henderson

BROOKE HENDERSON: I'm very comfortable compared to at least two years ago.

Q. Do you even worry about this is more than an experience. You're out here trying to win this thing, aren't you?

BROOKE HENDERSON: Yeah, definitely first is to make the cut, but after that you know hoe what will happen.

Q. How did you play out there?

BROOKE HENDERSON: It was a rough start, but a good finish really saved my round. One under par in this wind on the first day, I'll definitely take it.

Q. Sixth one out here, how much more comfortable are you now than the start?


BROOKE HENDERSON: Much, much more. When I was 14 playing the Canadian Open, I was definitely a little scared and nervous, that's for sure. But definitely a lot more comfortable and my game's a lot better, which really helps.

Q. That putt on 14 really seemed to get you going.

BROOKE HENDERSON: It did. That was a long putt. Really I was just trying to lag it up to the hole and get my par and get out of there, but I'll take it.

Q. When you talk about the comfort, what is that? What's more comfortable for you?


BROOKE HENDERSON: Less starstruck. I played with Michelle Wie three times last year, which really helped calm me down because she's one of the biggest names out here. And I played with Lori Kane in this event last year, which is a Canadian legend. I played again with her in a practice round just maybe Tuesday. So I mean I'm much more comfortable and less nervous around the big stars and I enjoy the crowds a little more than I did a couple years ago.

Q. Did you have that putt on 14, did you have that either Tuesday or Wednesday? It looked familiar to you.

BROOKE HENDERSON: I think I did practice a couple putts there on the practice round.

Q. Is the wind gusting today or was it just sort of steady? Did you have to back off at all?

BROOKE HENDERSON: I don't think I backed off at all but definitely there were some stronger gusts than others.

Q. Was it a couple club wind?

BROOKE HENDERSON: It was, yeah. Like I said, before a couple times I had to take a yardage to the back apron and just hope that the wind knocked it down before it went over the green. I think the only hole that really was a bad choice in club was maybe 16, but I got up and down and saved my par.

Q. Is there anyone you idolized out here growing up?

BROOKE HENDERSON: Definitely Morgan Pressel is a huge role model. Same with Lori Kane, a Canadian. She's such an amazing person and a great golfer, and I just love talking to her and I love when I get the chance to play with her.

Q. How much interaction have you had with Morgan?

BROOKE HENDERSON: Morgan, I played with her in the third round of the U.S. Open, which was pretty cool because she was my idol. And I made the cut, so I was really, really happy.

Q. What did she say to you after that round?

BROOKE HENDERSON: I had a tough round, so she helped me out in just saying, It's okay, you'll get it next time.

Topics: Notes and Interviews, Wie, Michelle, Park, Hee Young, Feng, Shanshan, Kerr, Cristie, Lin, Xi Yu, Concolino, Jacqui [+]

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