Marathon Classic Presented by Owens Corning & O-I - First-Round Notes & Interviews

Marathon Classic Presented by Owens Corning and O-I
Highland Meadows Golf Club
Sylvania, Ohio
Thursday - First Round Notes 
July 17, 2014


Rolex Rankings No. 231 Laura Diaz (-9)
Rolex Rankings No. 76 Austin Ernst (-5)
Rolex Rankings No. 55 Lee-Anne Pace (-5)
Rolex Rankings No. 132 Mariajo Uribe (-4)
Rolex Rankings No. 26 Mo Martin (-4)
Rolex Rankings No. 302 Marissa Steen (-4)
Rolex Rankings No. 11 Cristie Kerr (-2)
Rolex Rankings No. 1 Stacy Lewis (-1)


Fifteen-year LPGA Tour veteran Laura Diaz shot her career-low round of 62 on Thursday to take the first-round lead at the Marathon Classic Presented by Owens Corning & O-I. Diaz had a bogey-free round with nine birdies and started the day on the back nine with a streak of five consecutive birdies.

The two-time LPGA Tour winner and mother of two leads American and second-year LPGA member Austin Ernst and South Africa’s Lee-Ann Pace by four shots. Ernst and Pace are in a tie for second after both carding 5-under 66’s.

Six players are tied for fourth at 4-under par including No. 2 Lydia Ko, Women’s British Open champ Mo Martin, Colombia’s Mariajo Uribe, Australia’s Lindsey Wright and Americans Katie Burnett and Marissa Steen.

Diaz credited her mental strength and staying in the moment for keeping her composure after a red-hot start with five straight birdies.

“I think that I’ve done a lot of work on my mental game and I know better than anyone that just because you make one birdie doesn’t mean you’re going to make 18,” said Diaz. “It was great to get out and get five in a row. I had a six, seven footer for six in a row. I just kept trying to hit good shots and make good putts.”

The 39-year old said physically seeing her good shots be rewarded today kept her momentum going. Her round of 62 today bested her previous low round of the season (67) by five shots.

“I’m very happy to shoot 62,” said Diaz. “I would be lying if I said I wasn’t. It’s nice to get a good feeling after round one. To see the ball going in the hole, I think that’s always a boost. To see it rolling and rolling in and then getting close on the ones that don’t go in.”

Both of Diaz’s career victories came in her fourth year on Tour in 2002 and her last top-10 finish came four years ago at the 2010 LPGA Tour Championship where she tied for fifth.

“I’ve been playing better this year than I’ve played in the last four years, but still not where I would like to be,” said Diaz. “But it’s going in the right direction.”

RICOH Women’s British Open winner Mo Martin had no major hangover this week and opened with a bogey-free 4-under 67 and is in a tie for fourth and five shots back.

“I’m pretty tired and still kind of feels like a dream,” said Martin. “I was joking around with the trainers saying, ‘Can you massage here because my face hurts a little bit from smiling.’ So still kind of surreal. But I was able to focus on my round today. Proud of that. Had a good time today.”

World No. 1 and Toledo-born Stacy Lewis opened with a 1-under 70 which included three birdies and two bogeys. Two of her three birdies came on her final four holes. Lewis is playing for her fourth victory of the 2014 season.

“You know, I finished well, which is always good,” said Lewis. “I definitely didn’t have my best out there. Didn’t hit the ball very good, but found a way to get the ball in the hole there at the end and made some birdies coming in to get under par, which is always a good score on this golf course.”

Defending champion Beatriz Recari matched Lewis’ 70 and is in a tie for 32nd. 2012 champion and Rolex Rankings No. 9 So Yeon Ryu shot 68 and sits in a tie for ninth with seven others.


SUPERMOM

Laura Diaz hit a fork in the road in her career and mentally wasn’t sure if she wanted to play the 2014 LPGA Tour season. Her husband, Kevin, met Josh Metcalf with Train to Be Clutch at a coaching convention and suggested Laura chat with the mental coach.

“I wasn’t really in a good place,” said Diaz. “Kevin, he wasn’t going to push me, but he said, ‘I really think you would enjoy talking to him.’ I did.”

Diaz started working with Metcalf before the LPGA’s first event in the Bahamas and has reaped the benefits.

“Just more about life, not about golf,” said Diaz. “It’s not a golf thing. I think I was in a place where I didn’t want to play.”

Diaz struggled with the idea of being away from her two kids, Cooper (8) and Lily (4).

“I think I was at a place where I didn’t know if it was worth being away from my kids anymore,” said Diaz. “I chose not to go back to Q School because that’s the place I was in. I got into Australia and had to decide, and that’s when I called him actually. I was torn physically about being that far away from the kids.”

Diaz’s two career victories both came in 2002 and has yet to record a top-10 finish this season in 11 starts. But the Wake Forest alum said that she’s playing the best golf in over four years and credits getting her mind right and managing her priorities for the upswing.

“His big thing is ‘first things first,’” said Diaz. “So my kids and my family are first. It makes this second thing it still makes the second things rise, but if you can get your heart in the right place, you know. So that has helped a lot.”

Diaz spent her two weeks off between her last event in Arkansas and this week being a “swimming mom.” She cheered on Cooper at swim meets and beamed with pride when talking about her sons’ early athletic accomplishments.

“He’s a swimming machine,” said Diaz. “Yeah, he’s a good little golfer. We don’t really play holes. We just do a lot of shot hitting. But the swimming is really he won four out of five races on Monday night, and his finals are Saturday.”


DREAM START

In Marissa Steen’s dreams, her first LPGA round always went like this. She knew she belonged all along. She’s proved that with her No. 2 standing on the money list on the Symetra Tour this season and felt she belonged playing at the U.S. Women’s Open when two bad holes on Friday kept her from making the cut. However, proving it at the game’s highest level is another story, and even she couldn’t have drawn up her first LPGA start any better. The nerves were non-existent, and her game was sharp from the start.

After ho humming along at even par through 13 holes, Steen went on a tear to finish. She piled up four birdies in the five-hole stretch to finish, walking through the 18th hole ropes to sign autographs with a 4-under 67 on the card and her short-lived Thursday role as the leader in the clubhouse.

“It really is [a dream start],” Steen said. “I don’t think it’s really set in yet. I don’t think I want it to. I just want to stay within myself for the rest of the week and just see how low I can go and have fun out here.”

With the Symetra Tour off this week, Steen decided to Monday qualify and shot a 67 to earn her spot in the field. She thought the nerves would be there on the opening tee, but credits the Symetra Tour for her preparation.

“The only way to get better is to play competitive golf. Especially over here in the States. [The Symetra Tour] gives girls a good place to play and hone their skills and get the competition week in and week out,” Steen said.


THE SEARCH FOR CONSISTENCY

Austin Ernst won’t sugarcoat it: the season’s been a disappointment for her thus far. She’s put together great rounds but hasn’t been able to put it together for four rounds. She’s hoping that changes this week after starting the tournament with a 5-under 66 to enter the second round in a tie for second.

When she’s on like she was Thursday or like she was during the 10-under 62 in Portland last year, she’s as good as anyone on Tour. But she’s been off more than on in her second season on tour.

“I don’t think it’s been a great year for me,” she said. “Been a lot of good rounds in in tournaments, but not really having good weeks. Really just been inconsistent with the putter. It’s kind of been there couple days and then kind of gone. But goals are still the same. I still want to win this year.”

The putter’s plagued her but she’s seen progress recently. She’s worked on a couple things with her stroke and set up, but she didn’t need it on the 18th hole – her ninth hole of the day - Thursday. With 78 yards in and a lob wedge in hand, Ernst two hop dunked it for an eagle on the par-5.

“I hit it absolutely perfect. Landed it right where I wanted to,” Ernst said. “You could tell – I think it landed about three yards short and then the crowd just erupted. Kind of knew it went in, but, yeah, it was awesome.”

If her flat stick gets going, the rest of the week could be awesome for Ernst, too.


LOVE IT OR HATE IT

Some players this week have expressed their love/hate relationship with the track at Highland Meadows Golf Club. The field here this week knows there are birdies to be had on the Sylvania-based course, but have also said it’s been playing the hardest they’ve seen in years.

Top-ranked Stacy Lewis said the hardest part about coming back each year is too much familiarity with the course.

“No. I mean, the hardest part about this course is I’ve played it so many times,” said Lewis. “Sometimes you see more bad shots than good shots. That’s honestly probably the hardest thing. So it’s getting that out your head and trying to not remember all the shots from past years and just going out there and hitting the shots you have.”

Mariajo Uribe (67) said the players expect a few people to go super low but knows consistency this week will be key.

“I think course, it’s always like that,” said Uribe. “Every day somebody shoots 8 under, 9 under. If I can get one of those rounds this week and the other ones just steady, I can be with the trophy at the end of the week.”

Lewis agreed and said that backing up a 62 with another low score is the challenge here.

“No, because this golf course, it catches up to you pretty quick,” said Lewis. “You’re not going to see somebody do it probably even two days in a row. You just got to stay patient out there, and hopefully you get one of those days where you go crazy, too.”


ACE FOR KERR

Cristie Kerr made some magic on the par 3 sixth hole on Thursday with a swing of her 9-iron from 137 yards. Kerr, one of the more vocal on-course players, gave her ball a little verbal boost and it listened.

“It was my best hole today,” said Kerr. “Hit a 9 iron. Just told it to get up a little bit, just a titch. I said, In, and it went in. So first hole in one I've had in a long time on tour.”
The ace pushed Kerr to 3-under par through her first six holes but picked up three bogeys and a birdie to finish at 1-under par.


WITHDRAWS

Victoria Tanco withdrew after four holes with a back injury. Ilhee Lee withdrew before play began.


QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I was joking around with the trainers saying, ‘Can you massage here because my face hurts a little bit from smiling.’ So still kind of surreal.”
- Mo Martin on her Ricoh Women’s British Open win

Rolex Rankings No. 1 Stacy Lewis

Q. Tell us about the round.
STACY LEWIS: You know, I finished well, which is always good. I definitely didn't have my best out there. Didn't hit the ball very good, but found a way to get the ball in the hole there at the end and made some birdies coming in to get under par, which is always a good score on this golf course.

Q. Are you much of a leaderboard watcher?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. I mean, I like watching the leaderboard just to see how your friends are playing and people are playing.
Obviously Laura is having a round out there today. It's possible on this golf course. We've seen it over the years. You've got to be hitting the ball pretty good.

Q. Does that concern you when you see somebody soaring like that?
STACY LEWIS: No, because this golf course, it catches up to you pretty quick. You're not going to see somebody do it probably even two days in a row.
You just got to stay patient out there, and hopefully you get one of those days where you go crazy, too.

Q. Last year went really low on Sunday. Almost too late. Probably feels good to be around after day one.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah. I mean, it was an okay day. It wasn't definitely what I wanted coming into the day. Just looking at scores all day, other than Laura, nobody is really going crazy.
I'm still in this thing. Those putts at the end were key. Work on a few things and get after it tomorrow.

Q. Does this tournament play with your mind a little bit, the fact that it's a hometown thing?
STACY LEWIS: No. I mean, the hardest part about this course is I've played it so many times. Sometimes you see more bad shots than good shots. That's honestly probably the hardest thing.
So it's getting that out your head and trying to not remember all the shots from past years and just going out there and hitting the shots you have.

Q. Because you played it so much, any other surprise out there today or pretty much what you expected?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I mean, the course this year as a dry as I've ever seen it. The ball is rolling out, releasing out into the greens. So had to make some adjustments there, but it's good. Makes it harder, which I like.
It's a lot more fun to play this golf course than when it's soaking wet.

Q. Was the putter not what you liked or you weren't getting close enough?
STACY LEWIS: I think it was more ball striking today. I didn't give myself a lot of good opportunities. Hit some good putts; they just didn't go in. That's just golf. You're going to do that.
Missed a few short ones. Just a little off, I think, with everything.


Rolex Rankings No. 11 Cristie Kerr

Q. Hole in one on 6. Unfortunately we didn't get to see it, but what happened on 6?
CRISTIE KERR: It was my best hole today. Hit a 9 iron. Just told it to get up a little bit, just a titch. I said, In, and it went in. So first hole in one I've had in a long time on tour.

Q. Talk about your round as a whole. I know you didn't finish the way up wanted to.
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, honestly I didn't hit it very good today. I made, you know, a lot of kind of unforced errors. I was scrambling a lot.
To even shoot under part the way hit it was kind of a victory. It's unfortunate, the last hole. I didn't expect to get a shot into the green and actually hit a good low one.
Just didn't end up making the par there.


Rolex Rankings No. 26 Mo Martin

Q. Birdie on 18. Very key. Good way to finish your round. Talk about that.
MO MARTIN: It was a very steady round. Four birdies. All the rest pars. I had fun playing with Michelle and So Yeon. It was a beautiful day and it was a great round of golf today.

Q. How happy are you to come back from the British clearly doesn't seem to be much jet lag and fire a good round?
MO MARTIN: I'm pretty tired and still kind of feels like a dream. I was joking around with the trainers saying, Can you massage here because my face hurts a little bit from smiling.
So still kind of surreal. But I was able to focus on my round today. Proud of that. Had a good time today.

Q. Yeah, take me through that. The grogginess and coming out here and posting a good first round score.
MO MARTIN: Yeah, definitely. I mean, a lot of people said they were surprised I didn't take the week off, so then that put did my head that should I be taking the week off? I'm tired enough where that would've been nice.
I love this tournament and I love this community. It was a plan to play, so just following through with that.



Rolex Rankings No. 55 Lee-Ann Pace

Q. One of the best rounds of the afternoon. You got to be happy.
LEE ANNE PACE: Yeah, really happy. I played very consistently. Actually been playing quite well for the last several weeks, so, yeah, been good.

Q. Why were you able to take advantage this afternoon? Obviously not many low scores this afternoon.
LEE ANNE PACE: Not sure why now. I think the greens are quite receptive. I just hit it on the good side of the hole and pretty close to afternoon. Just been striking my irons really well and shaping it into the holes.

Q. Where can you take advantage tomorrow to continue chipping away?
LEE ANNE PACE: Morning is always a little bit easier. I think the greens will be a little bit more receptive. Just play one shot at a time and try and get it in the hole and move on.

Q. What happened with the birdies on 6 and 7?
LEE ANNE PACE: 6 and 7 was the par 5s? Hit it pretty close, about two meters, inside right putt.
And the previous hole I can't even remember 6, to be honest.

Q. Three.
LEE ANNE PACE: Par 3, uphill. Oh, yes. I made a little bit of a slider. Probably about 25 foot.

Q. Okay. You struggled early with a bogey and six birdies after that. How did you regroup after the first bogey?
LEE ANNE PACE: You know you're going to make some bogeys sometimes. Just, like I said, try to hit every shot at a time. My driver has been really straight; my irons have been progressively better each week. A good score was on its way.

Q. What's the key out here?
LEE ANNE PACE: Just staying patient. Every week it's the staying patient and trying to get into contention and hopefully play well on the weekend.

Q. What will be your plan tomorrow?
LEE ANNE PACE: Same thing: fairways, greens, and get the ball in the hole.

Q. Were there any challenging holes or parts of the course where you really said, I've got to tinker with things a bit to move forward?
LEE ANNE PACE: I haven't really thought about it that way. To be honest, I'm a bit tired coming from the British. I haven't really been giving a lot of thought to anything. Just listen to my caddie and hit it where he tells me to hit it.
It's gone great today. Hopefully I can keep doing that.

Q. When with you get into town?
LEE ANNE PACE: Monday night.

Q. When you go through traveling through, what, six or seven time zones coming here, how do you mentally and physically regroup for another tournament?
LEE ANNE PACE: Physically I took Tuesday off. Went to the movies.

Q. What did you see?
LEE ANNE PACE: I saw Planet of the Apes. Really good. I enjoyed it. Serious movie, but the other option was How to Train Your Dragon, so I went for that one.
No, I had to take Tuesday off. I pretty tired obviously. Even Wednesday I was a bit zoned out. Luckily today I was rested. My caddie has been here a couple times, so he basically directed me where to go.

Q. How long does to take to get over the jet lag?
LEE ANNE PACE: They say it's about an hour a day. Six hours, so almost caught up. By Saturday on the I'll be caught up just in time to go back.

Q. Felt like your game was on the verge of some really good golf?
LEE ANNE PACE: Yeah, I'm very happy the way I've been playing, like I said, for the last few weeks. Even the US Open. Starting from there I started striking the ball really well.
Last week I saw a friend of mine who I worked with a little bit coaching wise, and just getting better and better every week. It's nice to be out on the LPGA for a change and see what I can do here. Hopefully I can carry that through to the weekend.


Rolex Rankings No. 76 Austin Ernst

Q. Well, 66 on Thursday is always a good thing. Describe what you played like out there.
AUSTIN ERNST: Just really solid. Didn't put too much pressure on myself. Missed a couple fairways coming in. That's where I made a couple bogeys. Miss fairways out here you kind of have to chip out.
But just hit a lot of fairways. Hit a lot of greens. If you're hitting greens out here you get a lot of birdie looks were. Did a good job birdieing a lot of 'em.

Q. Lot of people said the course played differently. A little more still and warmer than the first few days of the week?
AUSTIN ERNST: Tuesday it was really windy. Didn't get a lot of wind this afternoon. Just a little bit at the end that just kind of made you think a little bit about how you need to play the shot.
It was a great day for scoring. I saw Laura posted early 62, so you kind of knew there were a lot of birdies out there.

Q. 62, obviously that's tough to guess, but 5 under means you're in the hunt going into the weekend.
AUSTIN ERNST: It's a long week. I put myself in the position I wanted to be in. You're going to have to make a lot of birdies this week. It's very scorable. If you're hitting the ball well, you can make a lot out there.

Q. The eagle on 18, just describe what that was.
AUSTIN ERNST: Yeah, I had 78 yards to the hole, which is pretty much just a little bit off of a stock 60 degree for me.
I hit it absolutely perfect. Landed it right where I wanted to. You could tell I think to landed about three yards short and then the crowd just erupted. Kind of knew it went in, but, yeah, it was awesome.

Q. A one bouncer?
AUSTIN ERNST: I couldn't see it. I think it probably bounced twice and then rolled down.

Q. We'll see it tonight at 11:00. Transition from British. Long week. Tiring week. How was the travel coming back? Did you take a rest day?
AUSTIN ERNST: We didn't get in until Monday night at like 6: 30 to Detroit. Obviously Monday was just a complete wash.
Tuesday took it easy. Played nine holes in the afternoon. Wasn't in the pro am so I played an early nine Wednesday morning. Just practiced a little bit. Definitely took it easier. Just trying to recover from last week.

Q. You think that helped? You think just being second year learning that don't go out and hit balls for hours?
AUSTIN ERNST: Oh, yeah, having seen the golf course was nice. Kind of already knowing what clubs I hit off the tee and that kind of thing. Basically just need to go see how was it playing this year.
Yeah, that definitely helps not having to go out and feel like you've got to play holes before the week even starts.

Q. It's never fun. Stacy said earlier the hardest thing here is maybe knowing the course too well. Second time you've played here?
AUSTIN ERNST: Yeah.

Q. Thoughts on just the course setup and just knowing that there are birdies to be had but it can be very, very tricky. Did you come in with a game plan?
AUSTIN ERNST: Basically just keep it in the fairway. You don't need to hit driver on every hole. You just have to hit it in the fairway to score out here. If you miss fairways then you're behind trees or the ball sits down in the rough and you don't know how to judge how it's going to come out.
But just keep it in the fairway. The greens are relatively small. If you're hitting the ball well you can get a lot of good looks.

Q. Midway through the season, assessment of the season? Any readjusted goals?
AUSTIN ERNST: I don't think it's been a great year for me. Been a lot of good rounds in tournaments, but not really having good weeks. Really just been inconsistent with the putter. It's kind of been there couple days and then kind of gone.
Goals are still same. I still want to win this year. Just have less tournaments in the beginning of the year.
But it's definitely progressing. I can see a little bit of improvement in my game. The putter today, actually hit a lot of good putts. Didn't make a ton at the beginning just kind of speed wise.
Yeah, definitely the putter. When it's been good, I've had some solid rounds.

Q. Any changes you made throughout the season? Putters? Stroke?
AUSTIN ERNST: Haven't changed putter really. Worked on a couple things with the stroke, setup and that kind of thing.
Ball striking, made a few changes. Just trying to get more consistent. You look on the all the top players, they're very consistent in greens in regulation and that kind of thing.

Q. Anything change for tomorrow?
AUSTIN ERNST: No, keep everything the same: make a lot of birdies.


Rolex Rankings No. 132 Mariajo Uribe

Q. Obviously solid round today. Got to be happy about that.
MARIAJO URIBE: Yeah, I mean, I start a little bit slow, two bogeys and I missed a couple of birdies, but I stayed patient and it paid off.
Four birdies in a row started me off, and then couple birdies and bogeys on the back nine. But I'm happy with my round. Hopefully tomorrow I can go low again.

Q. You mentioned the strike of birdies. How much momentum can you ride off something like that?
MARIAJO URIBE: Yeah, there were short putts so I was lucky, but I missed a couple of those at the beginning, so I just stayed patient and tried not to get tentative with my putting stroke. That's what I struggled with that last week.
Tried to stay patient this week. It paid off and I'm happy.

Q. Being one of the early tee times this morning, how much did that help you?
MARIAJO URIBE: Yeah, I mean, the course is in great shape so the greens are not changing that much from morning to afternoon. No wind; really nice weather.
It was just really enjoyable to play in the morning today.

Q. How comfortable are you on this course? Fourth time back here.
MARIAJO URIBE: Yeah, fourth time. It's kind of one of those courses you like but you never do good at it. (Laughter.) So I think it's time for me to play good.
I'm really excited to be heading onto the weekend and tomorrow. Finally a good round here.

Q. On the scorecard it looked like a very crazy back nine. Was it as crazy as it looked?
MARIAJO URIBE: Just the par putts I didn't make, but then I made the birdie putts. One of those days you just know you're hitting the ball well and you're going to have a lot of chances, so I stayed patient.

Q. Coming off two missed cuts, any changes?
MARIAJO URIBE: No. I mean, I was playing pretty good at the US Open. Didn't really finish the week I mean, 30th, but could have been higher up.
Then Arkansas and British Open just like hitting the ball well but didn't wasn't scoring.
So it finally came. I mean, I was hoping for a good round today. This is a very important week for me.

Q. What did you do after the missed cut? Did you go home?
MARIAJO URIBE: Yeah, after Arkansas I went home. Luckily I was able to go home couple of days to Colombia. Watch the soccer World Cup and just get my mind off of golf.
Went to the British, stayed there are practiced because the weather was so nice, and came here.

Q. Perfect. How about after the British?
MARIAJO URIBE: I came straight here but kind of got her late, so I only got to practice yesterday because he was bringing my golf days. So it's one of those weeks you had to take a couple days off, so it paid off.

Q. Feel like everybody had travel issues; stuck everywhere.
MARIAJO URIBE: Exactly. I was happy to be here, though.

Q. How much did you follow World Cup?
MARIAJO URIBE: Yeah, I went to the first match of Colombia and the opening ceremony. So that was right before the US Open. And then we follow, I mean, every...

Q. Oh, my God. So you went?
MARIAJO URIBE: Yeah, I went the weekend before the US Open.

Q. Oh, my God. Who did you go with?
MARIAJO URIBE: My husband went with me. A couple friends were there, but it was hard to get in touch with everybody that was there. It was awesome. Brazil is always so much fun.
It was great. Colombia won. We played pretty good. So it was fun.

Q. So they won the game you went to?
MARIAJO URIBE: Yeah.

Q. Awesome. Very cool. You think that helped going into the US Open?
MARIAJO URIBE: Yeah, it's nice to be fresh. Sometimes you're like, Oh, my God I'm going to take four days before a major off. We kind of had to having the men's before this year.
I'm glad I went. It's an opportunity I don't know if I'm going to have again.

Q. Absolutely. Obviously on the leaderboard Diaz is going very low. Did you see this number coming out?
MARIAJO URIBE: Yeah, at the beginning we were like we're just not sure if the score is doing the right job because it's so low. But it's awesome to see her playing well. She's an awesome person and player and everything.
If it's true, I'm really happy for her.

Q. Seeing a number like that, does that give you a little bit of thought of, All right, I got to get things going tomorrow?
MARIAJO URIBE: I think course, it's always like that. Every day somebody shoots 8 under, 9 under. If I can get one of those rounds this week and the other ones just steady, I can be with the trophy at the end of the week.

Q. Cool. Anything else going into tomorrow, tuning up?
MARIAJO URIBE: No.

Q. That's all I needed. Nice job today.
MARIAJO URIBE: Thank you.


Rolex Rankings No. 231 Laura Diaz

Q. Talk about your round.
LAURA DIAZ: Yeah, I think that I've done a lot of work on my mental game and I know better than anyone that just because you make one birdie doesn't mean you're going to make 18.
It was great to get out and get five in a row. I had a six, seven footer for six in a row. I just kept trying to hit good shots and make good putts.

Q. Playing well up to this point. Have a good feeling coming to this stop?
LAURA DIAZ: I've been playing better this year than I've played in the last four years, but still not where I would like to be.
But it's going in the right direction.

Q. You don't win the tournament on day one, but you have to feel pretty darn good about the position you've put yourself in.
LAURA DIAZ: I'm very happy to shoot 62. I would be lying if I said I wasn't. It's nice to get a good feeling after round one.
To see the ball going in the hole, I think that's always a boost. To see it rolling and rolling in and then getting close on the ones that don't go in.
So I feel good, yes.

Q. Did you sense anything like this? It's silly, people talk about did you feel one coming, but...
LAURA DIAZ: No.

Q. What did you do in the off weeks? Go back home?
LAURA DIAZ: Cheered my son on in his swim matches.

Q. How did he do?
LAURA DIAZ: Great. He's a swimming machine. Yeah, he's on the swim team on the Brookberry Farm, which is our neighborhood.
My best friend from New York that I've known since I was six months old well, she was six months; I was zero. Came down with her kids the first week and spent time with my family. Then the second week, tail end of the first week, after July 4th, started practicing and played a little at Forsyth Country Club.

Q. Think that helped, a little time off?
LAURA DIAZ: I don't have any idea.

Q. Didn't hurt. Not at all. How old is your son?
LAURA DIAZ: Eight, and my daughter is four. Lily is here with me. Cooper had to stay home. He's in golf camp this week.

Q. Little athlete.
LAURA DIAZ: Oh, yeah.

Q. Pretty good?
LAURA DIAZ: Yeah, he's a good little golfer. We don't really play holes. We just do a lot of shot hitting.
But the swimming is really he won four out of five races on Monday night, and his finals are Saturday.

Q. All right. Any the point at the start of the round did you have to calm yourself down or were you in the moment? I know you said you been work on the mental game.
LAURA DIAZ: No. Yeah, for a while I've done a lot of shaking when I start my round; today I didn't seem to be doing that.

Q. Like physical?
LAURA DIAZ: Yeah, physical shaking. Nerves, I guess. Today I was a little calmer.
When I missed the putt my sixth opportunity when the fifth one went in I laughed because it was a long putt and it went in. So I kind of chuckled to myself well, out loud.
And then when I missed the 7 footer for birdie, I said to Pete, my caddie, I was like, That would've tied the most birdies in a round that I've ever had. I didn't think about it when I was putting, but afterwards when I stepped back I said, Oh, that would've been six.

Q. How long was the long one, do you think?
LAURA DIAZ: 30.

Q. 30 sih?
LAURA DIAZ: Yeah.

Q. How long you been working with the new mental coach?
LAURA DIAZ: His name is Josh Metcalf. Train to Be Clutch.

Q. I like that.
LAURA DIAZ: Yeah. And that's since the beginning of the year. About a month before I went to the Bahamas I would say.

Q. By recommendation?
LAURA DIAZ: My husband, Kevin Diaz, met him at a coaching convention. I wasn't really in a good place. Kevin, he wasn't going to push me, but he said, I really think you would enjoy talking to him.
I did.

Q. The first conversation you kind of...
LAURA DIAZ: Just more about life, not about golf. It's not a golf thing. I think I was in a place where I didn't want to play.
(Hold on dad. I'm doing an interview. I'll call you right back. All right. Love you. Bye.)

Q. And your dad still calls you.
LAURA DIAZ: My dad has been my coach my whole life.
Yeah, I think I was at a place where I didn't know if it was worth being away from my kids anymore.
I chose not to go back to Q School because that's the place I was in. I got into Australia and had to decide, and that's when I called him actually. I was torn physically about being that far away from the kids.
So I made the decision not to go.
His big thing is first things first. So my kids and my family are first. It makes this second thing it still makes the second things rise, but if you can get your heart in the right place, you know. So that has helped a lot.

Q. Did you say six birdies would've been the most in one round?
LAURA DIAZ: No. I made six in a row at the British.

Q. So in a row?
LAURA DIAZ: In a row.

Q. When did the shaking start?
LAURA DIAZ: About four years ago, I think. No, I mean, I can't no, I can't remember exactly when it started. I know that I've always been nervous. I think that everybody says that nerves show that you care.
So I've always had the nerves my entire career. But I don't know. I think after having my second one, my second child, I tended to get a little more nervous out there and be a little more unsure of myself.
Usually takes about two holes and I settle in; goes away. Could be the coffee I drink in the morning, the one cup. I only drink one cup, so I don't think it's that. And I always make sure it's two hours before I play.

Q. It's been a few years since you played here.
LAURA DIAZ: No, I played here every single year. I think I've missed two maybe in my entire 16 years. I shot 62 here. That's my best score. My pro am guys didn't believe I could do it again.

Q. Take that.
LAURA DIAZ: Yeah.

Q. It's awesome. You don't remember what year that was, do you? I can look it up.
LAURA DIAZ: It was a couple years. Yeah, I can remember. Maybe '05? Did I have Cooper? I think it was '05. I don't think I had Cooper. It was either '05 or '08.

Q. Any particular expectations coming into this course? Everybody said they love it but don't always score particularly well. Then someone always shoots 8 or 9 under.
LAURA DIAZ: No, I love coming here. I've shot everything here, but I just think it's a great community. They really welcome us. Most of us have housing. Reminds me a lot of Corning. Obviously that was one of my favorite tournaments.
No, no expectations. The greens are in really good shape. I think that's always fun when you get 'em rolling on your line.

Q. Have you felt in the past following up a round that you shoot so well going into the next day?
LAURA DIAZ: I don't really think about it. You know, every day you have to follow up a round. Every time we tee it up. Unless it's Sunday, you're following it up the next day with a round.
I'm going to do what I do ever day: practice, putt.


Symetra Tour Professional, Marissa Steen

Q. Tell me about where your round today. Run me through it.
MARISSA STEEN: It started out just made a bunch of pars in a row, but overall I just thought it was really solid. Once I got that first birdie I felt comfortable.
Once you get one it's easier to make the second and the third. I felt like once I made that first then I got a little more confidence and started hitting it closer to the hole and giving myself chances.

Q. What's the key out here?
MARISSA STEEN: Definitely have to be accurate off the tee. The fairways are pretty narrow and the rough is thick, so you don't want to be hitting out of the rough into the greens.
I think too you can't get too cute with some of these pins, but there are definitely some you can attack and have to take advantage when you can.

Q. Monday qualifying give you some confidence coming out here?
MARISSA STEEN: It did. And the course is in phenomenal shape. It's really pure. It's really fun to putt on those surfaces on when the ball rolls really well. Just gives you a lot of confidence.

Q. Strategy going into tomorrow?
MARISSA STEEN: Just to stay within myself and play my game. I'm kind of a Steady Eddie player, so just try to hit solid golf shots and make some more putts.

Q. How did you get it turned around. You said you were just par, par, par. What happened?
MARISSA STEEN: Yeah, I was even like through 14. Made one birdie, one bogey, and then I just made a long like 25 footer on no, on 14 I made like a 25 footer, and hit it to like eight feet on 15 and made it.
Lipped out on 16.
And then 17 made like another 20 footer.
And then 18 put it close.

Q. A little nervous this morning or not?
MARISSA STEEN: No, not really. I think too, you know, playing out on the Symetra Tour I am used to tournament golf. I play tournaments a lot.
The atmosphere here is amazing here and it's great to see so many fans and stuff, but just treating it as another golf tournament.

Q. How many LPGA events for you?
MARISSA STEEN: This is my first. I played in the Open earlier this year.

Q. First one, okay. Right.
MARISSA STEEN: So I guess second.

Q. So what is that like? Obviously you Monday qualify. You come out here; what's that like?
MARISSA STEEN: No, it's a dream. You know, even like when I was at the Open and missed the cut I had two bad holes on Friday but I really felt like I belonged there.
So coming out here Monday qualifying, gave me, like you said earlier, the confidence coming into the tournament. I was proud of myself for just staying in my element and not getting sidetracked by a lot of the other big names out here. So I was proud of myself.

Q. Right. How much did seeing Mo, I mean, that had to be cool for you, right, seeing her go through all those years on the Symetra Tour and then breaking through in that big of a...
MARISSA STEEN: Right. I definitely feel like I can relate to her. This is my third season on Symetra. I've gotten better each year, but I really feel like now I'm ready to be out here full time and I'm really excited.

Q. What's the key to getting better each year? Getting more comfortable in tournament golf? Is it your game progressing?
MARISSA STEEN: I think, yeah, I mean, all of the above. I feel like this year I'm hitting it a lot closer to the hole than in years past and I'm putting much better.
Like I said, I made two putt outside of 20 feet today, and that's huge.

Q. What will be your plan going forward the rest of the year? A lot of Monday qualifiers? Obviously in pretty good standing on the Symetra Tour.
MARISSA STEEN: Probably just going to play Symetra.

Q. Okay.
MARISSA STEEN: Yeah, my ultimate goal would be to finish No. 1 on the Money List over there, so I have some work to do since I'm in second now. So that's my season end goal.
But I'm going to look at the LPGA schedule and see, but probably stay mostly on Symetra.

Q. Come out here on weeks off and everything?
MARISSA STEEN: Yeah, yeah.

Q. Does seeing o do that give you an, I'm the right track; I just keep doing what I'm doing?
MARISSA STEEN: It did. I think it's just a great example of staying within yourself and not getting down and steadily just working hard. You reap rewards when you do that. I feel like I can relate her a lot. It's exciting to see that, kind of a new name up on top and someone that came through in a big tournament. Definitely exciting.

Q. How great is it to have the road to LPGA out there where you can, like you said, get better year after year and grow, and when you're ready to come out here...
MARISSA STEEN: No doubt. The only way to get better is to play competitive golf. Especially over here in the States. It gives girls a good place to play and hone their skills and get the competition week in and week out.
This is my third season and the tour has gotten better every year. We have 20 events this year, which is five up from last year, which is great.

Q. Going up again next year.
MARISSA STEEN: Exactly. So they're doing a great job with the Symetra Tour, and I think it's really become a great developmental place.

Q. Is this a dream scenario? First LPGA start, 4 under par, second on the leaderboard?
MARISSA STEEN: Yeah, it really is. I don't think it's really set in yet. I don't think I want it to. I just want to stay within myself for the rest of week and just see how low I can go and have fun out here. That's what it's all about.

Q. Obviously you have experience being on the leaderboard in Symetra events. How does that change in an LPGA event? How do you keep yourself calm out here?
MARISSA STEEN: I think when you're playing well, swinging well, putting well, I don't really think about it. Just focused on hitting good shots. That's it. I really try to keep it simple. If you start thinking, that's when it takes a downturn. I try to avoid that at all costs.

Topics: Notes and Interviews, Marathon Classic, Lewis, Stacy, Pace, Lee-Anne, Ernst, Austin, Diaz, Laura, Martin, Mo, Uribe, Mariajo [+]

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