Manulife Financial LPGA Classic Third-Round Notes and Interviews

Manulife LPGA Classic
Grey Silo Golf Course
Waterloo, Ontario
Third Round Tournament Notes
June 7, 2014

Rolex Rankings No. 7 Shanshan Feng (-15)
Rolex Rankings No. 2 Inbee Park (-13)
Rolex Rankings No. 10 Michelle Wie (-13)
Rolex Rankings No. 13 Cristie Kerr (-12)
Rolex Rankings No. 3 Lydia Ko (-11)


Shanshan Feng shot a 4-under 67 on Saturday at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic to take sole possession of the lead after three rounds. Feng had three birdies, an eagle and a bogey in her round and leads Rolex Rankings No. 2 Inbee Park (65) and No. 10 Michelle Wie (68) by two shots.

Sixteen-time winner Cristie Kerr sits in solo fourth and three shots back at 12-under par. No. 3 Lydia Ko and No. 9 Anna Nordqvist are in a tie for fifth and are four shots off the lead.

Feng got off to a torrid start on Saturday at Grey Silo Golf Course and looked like she was set to run away with the tournament. The China native was 4-under through her first six holes and said the hot early stretch made her maybe a little too eager for scoring opportunities.

“I got off to a very good start, 4 under through six holes,” said Feng. “Maybe that actually make myself to think a little more that I wanted to do better. Then actually, you know, I couldn’t make a lot of putts. Actually I missed a lot of birdie putts and then plus one bogey, so actually I dropped back one shot.”

Feng extended her lead to three shots with a birdie on the par 4 11th hole and with a Hee Young Park bogey on No. 15, had a four-stroke lead with three holes to play. But she would picked up her first bogey of the week on the 52nd hole after hitting her tee shot right and into the hazard. She missed a five-foot par putt to drop one shot and maintained a two shot-lead with pars on the final two holes.

Feng said heading into this week in Waterloo, she put no pressure on herself. The major champion is playing for her first win of the 2014 season and fourth of her career.

“Actually I had no pressure coming to this week,” said Feng. “This last year I missed the cut, so this year I’m here just to have fun. I try to play better than last year and I guess I did. So I think tomorrow I have no pres- sure.”

It’s the third time in her career she’s held the third round lead. Feng won the Reignwood LPGA Classic in China last season after a 54-hole lead and finished second at the 2012 HSBC Women’s Champions. The 24-year old has her sights on low numbers for Sunday.

“You know, my goal is to get to 25 under and of course now I’m 15, so if I want to get to 25 tomorrow, I need to shoot 10 under.”

Feng will need plenty of red numbers on her scorecard in the final round and has a dangerous group of players at her heels. All five players within four shots of Feng are ranked in the top-13 in the Rolex Rankings: No. 2 Inbee Park (-13), No. 10 Michelle Wie (-13), No. 13 Cristie Kerr (12), No. 3 Lydia Ko (-11) and No. 9 Anna Nordqvist (-11).

Michelle Wie got off to a shaky start on Saturday with two bogeys on Nos. 2 and 3 but bounced back with three birdies before making the turn, still trailing Feng by four shots. The Hawaii native would pick up three more birdies on the back nine including the par 5 18th hole.

“I just couldn’t get my tempo right in the beginning, but definitely felt like I finished strong,” said Wie. “Definitely the start that I had today, I’m really happy with the way I finished today.”

Wie was seen dropping to her knees on a few lip out putts and said she feels extra fire this week knowing that every opportunity could be a difference maker. Wie will be playing for her second win of the year and trying to record two victories in the same season for the first time in her career.

“I think that especially the last putt, a couple putts out there really felt like they were all going to go in,” said Wie. “It’s fun, it’s a lot of fun being in contention. Kind of every shot matters, birdies matter, bogeys matter. So I’m having a lot of fun being in contention out there.”

Inbee Park has her sights on her first victory of season and looking for the perfect bounce back after losing the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Rankings last week. Through her first 10 events last season, Park had three wins and thinks once she gets one this year, things will really start to click.

“I mean the first win is always very important and that’s going to give me a lot of confidence going into the
U.S. Open, that’s for sure,” said Park. “I mean just first one is very important. That gives you so much confidence that you can just play without the pressure for the next event and on.”

Park will be defending champion at the Tour’s next stop in two weeks at the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst No. 2. Seventeen-year old Lydia Ko has the chance to take over the No. 1 ranking in the Rolex Rankings with a win this week. The No. 3 ranked player from New Zealand must win and current No. 1 Stacy Lewis must finish 8th or worse for the Kiwi to unseat Lewis after one week at the top.


LEADERBOARD AVOIDANCE

Whether Shanshan Feng is down two and needing an eagle on the last or holds a three shot heading to the 18th tee, Feng says she won’t be looking at the leaderboard. She wasn’t even aware she was leading until Golf Channel course reporter Rich Beem informed her after. She’s refused to look at the leaderboard all week and says that won’t change come Sunday. Regardless of the situation come Sunday, her goal remains the same.

“No, I’m still going for 25-under, that’s the only goal,” Feng said.

She thinks that’s the number that will assure a victory and says she’s gunning for a 61 on Sunday. As for her caddie, will he put a bug in her ear if he thinks the situation calls for it?

“He knows not to say anything to me,” said Feng of her caddie. “Well, he has to know but I don’t.”

She’ll obviously know what her competitor in her group is doing and admits that could add pressure, but says knowing what’s going on around her won’t help her put the rock in the hole.

Feng entered the day tied for the lead at 11-under with Hee Young Park, but was 4-under for the day through six to pull ahead. She pushed it to 16-under for the tournament with a birdie on 11 but played 1-over golf the last seven holes, missing a eight-foot birdie on the last that she was noticeably annoyed by entering the scoring tent and thinks the hot starts may have gotten to her.

“Maybe that actually made myself think a little more than I wanted to do better,” Feng said of her hot start. Then actually, you know, I couldn’t make a lot of putts.”


COULD KO REALLY DO IT?

The stage has been set for the story that could top any on tour this season. Could Lydia Ko realistically come storming back Sunday for her second win of the year and take over Stacy Lewis’ No. 1 ranking after just one week of holding it?

It’s a realistic, albeit remote, possibility after tying the round of the day with a stellar 7-under-par 64 that has her just four back of the lead heading into Sunday. And Ko thinks she’s within striking distance of the leaders.

“I think so. You never know what’s going to happen. There’s always another 18 holes,” Ko said. “I’m not really sure what I’ll end up at the end of the day, but I’ve just got to play my own game and see where it goes.”

Ko actually made just as many birdies in the second round (7), but kept it bogey free on Saturday to tie the round of the tournament. Her back-nine 31 included three straight birdies on 12-14 and concluded with a tap in birdie on 18.

“I think I hit a couple more greens today, I don’t know how many I did exactly. I didn’t make any bogeys and doubles and I think that’s where the three shots went,” Ko said. “I think I played great yesterday and I think I played great today.”

Ko’s using a new putter this week and despite hitting all 18 greens, she only needed 29 putts to get around.


KERR BACK IN THE THICK OF IT

It wasn’t quite the 61 she fired in the pro-am Wednesday, but Cristie Kerr will take the 6-under-par 65 that vaulted her back into contention Sunday. At 12-under-par 201, Kerr is just three shots back of Shanshan Feng and squarely in contention for her first win of the year Sunday.

“I knew I had to get a low round today just to even have a chance tomorrow. The scores are going to be so good today with there not being very much wind and the course is receptive,” Kerr said. “So I played good, I played as good as I could.”

Kerr started the day slow at 1-over-par through four holes after a bogey on the 4th, but then heated up. She proceeded to birdie seven of her last 14 holes, including three of the final four. Those last 14 holes is what she’ll remember heading into Sunday.

“I think if the weather is good like this tomorrow or even if there’s light wind, anybody could shoot a very low round,” Kerr said. “You’ve just got to kind of be within sniffing distance. Karrie Webb shot 9-under the last day in Phoenix to win and it’s happened a couple times this year, so I think you’ve got to try to shoot as low as you can.”


CHANGE OF PLANS

A gloomy afternoon forecast has forced the tournament to send players off both tees in round three and moved the leaders tee times up to 10:20 A.M. TV coverage on Golf Channel will air at 2:30-5:00 p.m. ET.


TV COVERAGE

Golf Channel
Sunday: 2:30 PM - 5:00 PM EST


QUOTE OF THE DAY

“I think if the weather is good like this tomorrow or even if there’s light wind, anybody could shoot a very low round. You’ve just got to kind of be within sniffing distance. Karrie Webb shot 9 under the last day in Phoenix to win and it’s happened a couple times this year, so I think you’ve just got to try to shoot as low as you can.”
- Cristie Kerr on her final-round mentality.


Rolex Rankings No. 7 Shanshan Feng


Q. How was your round overall?
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, I got off to a very good start, 4 under through six holes. Maybe that actually make myself to think a little more that I wanted to do better. Then actually, you know, I couldn't make a lot of putts. Actually I missed a lot of birdie putts and then plus one bogey, so actually I dropped back one shot. You know, my goal is to get to 25 under and of course now I'm 15, so if I want to get to 25 tomorrow, I need to shoot 10 under.

Q. Nothing to it?
SHANSHAN FENG: I try.

Q. What is your mindset going into tomorrow? You're in control of the tournament right now, right?
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, actually I had no pressure coming to this week. This last year I missed the cut, so this year I'm here just to have fun. I try to play better than last year and I guess I did. So I think tomorrow I have no pressure. I don't know who I'm going to be paired with. Am I playing

Q. It would be Michelle or Inbee, one of the two. Inbee.
SHANSHAN FENG: Inbee, good, because I have a very good time with her always, so I think I will have a very good time.

Q. So will that help relax you being the leader going into the final round playing with Inbee?
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, playing with anybody, I mean, if you are leading in a tournament, I don't think you have no pressure. Of course I'll have a little pressure. But yes, playing with Inbee will maybe make me more relaxed because we've play many times together and we're friends, too.

Q. Did you come off the golf course today knowing where you stood? You said yesterday you weren't really watching the scores?
SHANSHAN FENG: I still don't know. That's why I was asking who I was going to be playing with.

Q. You have an 11 shot lead, did you know that?
SHANSHAN FENG: 11, really?

Q. No.
SHANSHAN FENG: That's good.

Q. No, you have a two shot lead. Did you know that?
SHANSHAN FENG: I didn't know until I think you told me, so now I know. Yes, I do know.

Q. Does it change your approach tomorrow at all being in the lead by two?
SHANSHAN FENG: No, I'm still going for 25 under, that's the only goal.

Q. How big was the eagle on five momentum wise? That had to kind of shoot you up and you followed it up with a birdie. Take us through those two holes.
SHANSHAN FENG: Yeah. Well, the first hole I made a birdie and then I missed a couple birdie putts the following holes. And then when I got to five, No. 5 is always birdie hole, especially today I think the wind was helping. So it was easier to get to the get it two on and then I got it two on, left myself maybe like a 30 foot putt for eagle. I didn't expect that I would make it but it went in, so that was good luck.

Q. Just a good read?
SHANSHAN FENG: Yeah, everything was good, good read, good stroke. And then the next hole it was like a short par 5 again, missed the second shot on the right, but I had I chipped it to maybe like three feet away, so made the birdie.

Q. What happened on 16?
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, 16, I hit the drive a little right so it had big bounce. I didn't think it would go through on the right side but it did. So I was just in the hazard, but I had a shot to go sideways so I chipped it out. And then the third shot, actually I had a very great third shot. I hit it to like five feet past the hole. I wanted to make that putt but I think once I after I putt once I looked at it, it hit something and just bounced away. Well, I didn't think that wasn't a good stroke, so that didn't hurt my confidence.

Q. At any point tomorrow will you look at the scoreboard? You haven't watched scores all day, but if you get to the 18th or the 17th and you're right there, will you want to know where you stand?
SHANSHAN FENG: Not really. Well, usually the only time I'll check the scores is Sunday like after the tournament finishes, so I won't check. But of course I'll know, you know, what my teammate's going to do, though.

Q. Does your caddie tell you at all or does he know not to say anything?
SHANSHAN FENG: Yeah, he knows not to say anything to me. Well, he has to know but I don't.

Q. What holes give you the most problems and what holes do you like the most on this course?
SHANSHAN FENG: I think 17 might be the most difficult hole to me. Well, I think because today we have the tee like the back tee and then the pin was on the right side and it was just a very tough shot. And then I was lucky because I got to watch the last group, you know, how they were hitting. So I got the right club and I left it like 25 feet par for birdie. Didn't make it, but par make me really happy.

Q. So basically it doesn't matter what day it is, Friday, Sunday, what your score is, you approach every round the same more or less?
SHANSHAN FENG: Yes, I try to. Well, of course even though I don't look at the scoreboards but I'll know what my competitor in the group is doing. So of course if she's doing really well, it would give me a little pressure, but try to just focus on my game and just try my best on every shot.

Q. If a player in the group ahead of you is already in the clubhouse one stroke up and you need a birdie on the last hole, you don't want to know that?
SHANSHAN FENG: No. Well, because knowing it, it's not going to help me to make it.


Rolex Rankings No. 2 Inbee Park


Q.
(Interview in progress) Was that the key to today?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, definitely. I played really well on the front nine. I holed a lot of putts. I feel like I hit the ball great today. I had a lot of opportunities on the back nine also but just missed a couple putts. And yeah, I think overall it was a very good day. Yeah, just give myself a chance for tomorrow.

Q. That's what players always say, they want to get themselves into position for Sunday.
INBEE PARK: I don't know where Shanshan's going to finish, but I know there's a lot of opportunities on this golf course. There is a possibility that we can go really low, so I think I'm just happy to be in contention for the final round. Yeah, I feel like my putting's getting better and better, so hopefully I can hole some putts tomorrow.

Q. What was with the putt on 18? It seems a lot are having trouble leaving it short from that side.
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I don't know. It's a downhill. It looks pretty quick but it seems like it's not really quick putt. It was quite slow coming down there.

Q. Expecting it to be a bit of a horse race tomorrow with the number of birdie opportunities out here?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I mean with the conditions like today, there's going to be a lot of low scoring out there so I had better go low tomorrow, too.

Q. Do you feel you want to get this one under your belt? I know you said all you want to do is get that first win. Do you think you're putting a lot of pressure on yourself to get it done?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I mean the first win is always very important and that's going to give me a lot of confidence going into the U.S. Open, that's for sure. Yeah, I mean just first one is very important. That gives you so much confidence that you can just play without the pressure for the next event and on. So yeah, that's going to help a lot.

Q. Do you think once that one comes, it will kind of open the floodgates to better play?
INBEE PARK: That's what I'm wishing to do. First thing is, you know, you've got to make the first one happen and then we've got to see the next one coming. Yeah, it's going to be a challenge tomorrow, but yeah, it's good that I have an opportunity.

Q. No bogeys today. Where do you see as your strengths in staying out of the trouble spots, do you think?
INBEE PARK: Just hitting fairways and greens. I don't really remember myself putting any more than 15 feet for many holes, so I think, yeah, that's been really the key. And yeah, just the ball striking and just got to you know, there's a lot of opportunity, you've just got to hole some putts. I had trouble reading the greens on the back nine a little bit today, so hopefully I'll learn something from that for tomorrow.


Rolex Rankings No. 10 Michelle Wie


Q. Shaky start, talk about the bounce back.
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, there was quite a shaky start. I missed a good birdie opportunity on the first hole and I kind of duck hooked it on the second hole and had to take an unplayable, and actually it was a really good bogey. Then I kind of hooked it on the next hole, hit it in the bunker. So I just couldn't get my tempo right in the beginning, but definitely felt like I finished strong. Definitely the start that I had today, I'm really happy with the way I finished today.

Q. Did you have to do a little mental recheck? Did you have to do a couple deep breaths? Was there a little bit of regrouping?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, there was definitely some regrouping. I broke a nail out there as well, too, which I was I think more pissed about that than bogeys. I definitely regrouped myself and I was happy that I hung in there.

Q. Tomorrow looks like it's going to be, if it's anything like the first round, a birdie fest out there. Is that what you were expecting, to go low?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I think I tried to go too low in the beginning today, so I'm just going to go out there and there's birdie holes. I'll just hit the shots that I need to hit, birdies will happen. Nothing good will happen out of me forcing anything. So I'm just going to go out there and try to play the best as I can and see how many birdies I can make.

Q. Any guess on a number you think you might have to shoot?
MICHELLE WIE: No guess as of right now. I think, you know, no really set number. I'm just going to go out there and just try to birdie every birdie hole out there and see what I can shoot.

Q. A lot of nice long putts or very close, a lot of knee dips. (Inaudible) on the Golf Channel said he hasn't seen you so passionate and hungry for birdies. Do you feel that way, feel like you're getting a little bit more emotional?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, for sure. I think that especially the last putt, a couple putts out there really felt like they were all going to go in. It's fun, it's a lot of fun being in contention. Kind of every shot matters, birdies matter, bogeys matter. So I'm having a lot of fun being in contention out there. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow and I'm really looking forward to playing in front of a big crowd.

Q. With a crowded leaderboard, do you pay attention to it?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I pay attention to it somewhat, but I try not to let it dictate my game and I think that I just have to, like I said before, just really take advantage of some of the wedge shots that I have in on the par 5s and just try to play as good as I can and see where that takes me and hopefully it'll be good enough.

Q. A lot of your strokes look very confident on the greens. Are you feeling the confidence as you're stepping up to the ball?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I feel very confident. I think, you know, I'm getting more and more confident, which is also really great. But it's always a work in progress because golf is such a finicky game. It's like one day you're feeling really great, the next day you're not. Especially in the morning today, just all of a sudden I was 2 over par. I was feeling really uncomfortable with my swing. Things can change, so it's always a work in progress for me.

Q. Was there any turning point maybe when you bounced back after the two bogeys?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, the fourth hole when I birdied, when I made that putt, it definitely gave me the confidence back.

Q. How long was that putt?
MICHELLE WIE: Probably about 20 feet.

Q. Any other highlights, anything else that stuck out?
MICHELLE WIE: No.


Rolex Rankings No. 13 Cristie Kerr

Q. Tell us about your round today, just another hot one out there.
CRISTIE KERR: Well, today was nice, nice weather. It wasn't overly hot.

Q. I meant your round, sorry.
CRISTIE KERR: Oh, yeah, kind of a slow start. One over through four and made a great putt on the fifth hole. Just kind of slow from the 9th hole and I really got kind of hot.

Q. Still some golfers to come in, but being four off the lead, how do you feel going into the final round?
CRISTIE KERR: I feel pretty good. I knew I had to get a low round today just to each have a chance tomorrow. The scores are going to be so good today with there not being very much wind and the course is receptive. So I played good, I played as good as I could. And I had to shoot 10 under to tie for the lead, so 6 is a pretty good round any day you look at it.

Q. Three birdies the last four holes, how big is that going into tomorrow confidence wise?
CRISTIE KERR: I think it's great. Mentally I was very good today, you know. I've just got to take that into tomorrow.

Q. Pretty easy pin locations out there compared to the first two days?
CRISTIE KERR: There just wasn't any wind today. It played noticeably different with the wind. Today's my first day playing golf with this wind direction and some holes played longer. But yeah, I mean, the course is in great shape and it's nice to be able to make birdies out there.

Q. Did you have a number in mind as far as how close you needed to get within the leaders to have a shot?
CRISTIE KERR: I think if the weather is good like this tomorrow or even if there's light wind, anybody could shoot a very low round. You've just got to kind of be win sniffing distance. Karrie Webb shot 9 under the last day in Phoenix to win and it's happened a couple times this year, so I think you've just got to try to shoot as low as you can.

Q. Will you be thinking about that 10 under in the pro am tomorrow?
CRISTIE KERR: Just going to take away my good play and all the work I've put in and my mental work and just try to get a chance every hole tomorrow.


Rolex Rankings No. 3 Lydia Ko

Q. What was the difference between yesterday and today?
LYDIA KO: I think I made the same amount of birdies as yesterday and today. I think I hit a couple more greens today, I don't know how many I did exactly. I didn't make any bogeys and doubles and I think that's where the three shots went. I think I played great yesterday and I think I played great today.

Q. Now four back of Shanshan. Are you within striking distance, do you think, or you need a few more birdies?
LYDIA KO: I think so. You never know what's going to happen. There's always another 18 holes and there are a couple more birdie opportunities for her to come in and also the other players. So I'm not really sure what I'll end up at the end of the day, but I've just got to play my own game and see where it goes.

Q. Scoring conditions pretty good out there?
LYDIA KO: Today I think the wind was the least, which is good. The par 5s it wasn't that much into it so we could get there in two.

Q. Pins are pretty accessible today, aren't they?
LYDIA KO: Yeah. I mean, like the 18th hole yesterday was tucked back left, so for me coming in with a wood I can't really go for that pin. It was a little easier today but it wasn't playing like super easy.

Q. How big was the birdie on the last?
LYDIA KO: It was good. I was in the rough but I hit a good shot out here and luckily it was kind of like a tap in birdie.

Q. I saw you working hard on your putting yesterday at the end of the day. Is that something you've been focusing on?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, it's a new putter this week, so it's been good. I used that when I (inaudible) last year. It's similar but it's kind of counterbalanced, but I think putting is the most important part of the game.

Q. So what were you using and what were you using now? Is it a new Callaway?
LYDIA KO: I have an Odyssey Tank Cruiser 330 mallet that's counterbalanced, but I used to use an Odyssey Tank V line.

Q. What's your plan for next week for the off week?
LYDIA KO: Off week, I'm just going to go back to Orlando, have a couple days off, have a couple days practice. I'm super excited to go and watch the men on the weekend.

Q. When are you going?
LYDIA KO: I think on Saturday.

Q. How much will you study what the men do? How much will you watch that coverage?
LYDIA KO: I heard that to see like how their balls react on the green and everything, it's nice to watch the first couple groups where it's not as crowded. I also want to watch some of my favorite players. I'll just do a little bit of that. I enjoy just watching the men play.

Q. Who are you looking forward to watching?
LYDIA KO: Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott.

Q. Are you going to follow them around?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, I think so. Maybe nine holes each unless they're playing together.

Q. Have you got to meet either of those guys?
LYDIA KO: I've met Phil. Hopefully I can meet Adam Scott.

Q. How was meeting Phil?
LYDIA KO: That was awesome. He's been my idol for a long time, so meeting your idol was really cool.

Q. Did you take any parts of his game?
LYDIA KO: I think his short game is pretty amazing, so definitely if I could be half of him or even a quarter, I'd be a much better player.

Q. What were your impressions of Pinehurst when you went down there?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, I think it's narrow and it's long and that's what the U.S. Open is all about. You just have to be pretty consistent off the tee and give yourself as many opportunities but not go for everything.

Q. You don't run into those waste areas very often on Tour, do you, that they have so prevalent there?
LYDIA KO: Hopefully not.

Q. But I'm saying like at the Tour courses there's not that many places that have that, is there?
LYDIA KO: No, I don't think so. It's more rough. At the CME in Naples they kind of have the similar things, there's more straw than sand, so it's kind of different.

Topics: Notes and Interviews, Feng, Shanshan, Kerr, Cristie, Ko, Lydia, Park, Inbee, Wie, Michelle, Manulife Financial LPGA Classic [+]

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