Portland Classic Presented by Cambia Health Solutions Pre-tournament Notes & Interviews

So Yeon Ryu
Photo Credit: Dave Sandford/Getty Images

So Yeon Ryu of South Korea hits her tee shot on the 8th hole during the third round of the LPGA Canadian Pacific Women's Open at the London Hunt and Country Club on August 23, 2014 in London, Ontario, Canada.

Portland Classic Presented by Cambia Health Solutions
Columbia Edgewater Country Club
Portland, Oregon
Pre-Tournament Notes
August 26, 2014


Rolex Rankings No. 5 So Yeon Ryu
Rolex Rankings No. 251 Marissa Steen

Amateur Gigi Stoll

The LPGA continues its storied history in the City of Roses this week when it returns to the Pacific Northwest for the Portland Classic Presented by Cambia Health Solutions. The Tour is back for the 43rd year in Portland and will be hosted by Columbia Edgewater Country Club for the 28th time. Rolex Rankings No. 4 Suzann Pettersen will try to defend her title this week and has a shot at joining Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez as the only three-time winners of the event.

Pettersen won in 2011 when it was held at Pumpkin Ridge. Last week’s champion, So Yeon Ryu, is playing some of the most consistent golf of Tour as of late and coming in on a huge wave of momentum. The No. 5 player in the world finished at 23-under par at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open for her third career victory and first since 2012.

CONQUERED FRUSTRATIONS
So Yeon Ryu made it look so easy early on. She won the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open at 21 in a playoff before she was even an LPGA member, and then in her rookie season on the LPGA, she won the 2012 Jamie Farr Classic and finished in the top-10 16 times.

The great finishes kept coming – 27 top-10s since that win at the Jamie Farr – but the wins didn’t and the frustration mounted. Making it even more difficult was it wasn’t an issue with her golf. She felt her golf was better in 2013 and 2014 than the two years prior. The wins just hadn’t come with it.

“Why cannot I not win the tournament? What can I improve?” Ryu said she asked. “Then my answer was I cannot improve anything because I’m pretty sure I’m ready to win.”

She finished second four times between her wins and heard the critiques. She’s unlucky. She’s not strong enough in the final round.

“It’s kind of I just think myself, ‘Oh, maybe I’m a loser, you know, that kind of thing. I think it’s pretty much both like media or people and my thinking,” Ryu said. “Sometimes people asked me, ‘I know you play really, but you couldn’t win any tournaments, so what does that mean?’ How can I answer that question, you know?”

She won’t have to anymore.

KOREANS BACK ON THE MAP
After a slow start to the 2014 season with players breaking into the winner’s circle, the Korean contingent has turned things around in the second half of the year. With her win last week in Canada, So Yeon Ryu made it three in a row for the Koreans following rookie Mirim Lee at the Meijer LPGA Classic and Inbee Park at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. Four events have been won by Korean-born players this year with Park being the only two-time winner. They’ll need to go on a torrid win streak to match the nine wins won by Koreans a season ago.

NICE LITTLE PROMOTION
Marissa Steen had played in two LPGA Tour events this season– the U.S. Women’s Open and the Marathon Classic Presented by Owens Corning and O-I. Both she had to qualify for.

So this whole status – the kind that comes with a three-win promotion from the Symetra Tour after winning three times out there this season – is new to her.

“It’s kind of a whirlwind, and you’re trying to take it all in. It was just a great day,” Steen said. “I think the realization didn’t hit me until a couple days later until I was like booking my flight out here. I was like, ‘Whoa, it’s really happening. It’s really a reality now,’ which is an awesome feeling.”

She had tried not to think about the possibility of the battlefield promotion and just focus on playing the type of golf that led her to three wins and ten top-10s this season.

“I’m very happy to be out here. Obviously, I think the battlefield promotion really promotes everything that the Symetra Tour is about,” Steen said. “It’s cool to actually have that and be an example of that.”

Steen won’t be able to play in the next event her status earned her into on the LPGA Tour – the Yokohama Tire Classic – because the Symetra Tour Championship presented by Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University conflicts. The purse is more than eight times that on the LPGA Tour, but Steen couldn’t miss the chance to have her card presented to her.

For her, this week is the tangible prelude to that moment when she’ll see the physical evidence that she’s now a full card carrying member of the LPGA Tour. The rest of the nation will see it too when the Golf Channel shows her on their broadcasts from this event.

“It’s surreal,” she said. “But just all the exposure opportunities I’ve been given this week have been phenomenal. And obviously no player could really want anything more, and it’s cool that it’s me, you know. I’m really excited for where I’m at, and really happy the way things have headed. Just taking it all in.”

She’s got the experience of the Marathon Classic to lean on. She finished tied for 32nd there and shot a 4-under 67 to open.

“I’ve really felt within myself. There are a lot of the big players here, Suzann Pettersen, Morgan Pressel,” she said. “But even if I’m next to them on the range, I’m really just focused on what I’m trying to get accomplished. So I really feel like I am ready to be out here full time, and I really feel like this is where I’m meant to be at this time.”

Three wins certainly confirmed that.

A DREAM COME TRUE
Gigi Stoll has been attending the Portland Classic since she was eight years old but will not be toting around a standard inside the ropes this week like year’s past. She’ll still be walking inside the ropes but will be competing against some of the world’s best female golfers. The Portland-area native and Beaverton High School rising senior won the Portland Classic Amateur Open last week after shooting a 1-under 71 to earn a spot in this week’s field.

“Realizing I was the low score was just incredible, and I didn’t even know what to say,” said Stoll. “It was just like it was crazy. And just coming out here since I was like eight years old, just watching, it’s crazy to be here.”

It won’t be Stoll’s first time teeing it up next to LPGA pros. She qualified for the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open at Blackwolf Run but missed the cut after rounds of 86-84 when she was just 15 years old. The University of Arizona commit said she’ll draw from her experience in Wisconsin two years ago and will try to keep things simple this week.

“Just to not overthink it. Just come out here and treat it like a normal golf tournament, normal golf round,” said Stoll. “And at the Open I think I overthought a lot of things. I had my coach come out, and we were just over analyzing a lot, and I just feel like to just come out here and play like it’s a casual round of golf and just try and keep my mind and all my nerves really calm.”

Stoll said she’ll be playing with a ‘nothing to lose mentality’ and that her goal is the make the cut.

“I mean my first goal would be to make the cut, for sure,” said Stoll. “But I mean my main goal is just to play good golf and see how that goes. Just take each hole one by one is what I’ve been saying to a lot of people. Just calm the nerves and play each shot one by one.”

Stoll tried several times to qualify for the event in years past but always came up short. She’s not taking the opportunity for granted. It’ll be a great story for her “what you did on summer break” essay when she returns to school next week for her senior year at Beaverton High School.

“I mean it’s going to be just a dream come true. I don’t even know how to explain it,” said Stoll. “But just to be out here and actually compete with all the best players in the world, it’s just going to be exhilarating.”

THE SOCIAL SCENE:
“Thanks to the superintendent crew for these amazing course conditions @ColumbiaEdgewaterCC @PortlandClassic #yearlypic”- Sandra Gal on Instagram (@sandygal007)

TV TIMES THIS WEEK
The airtimes for the Portland Classic Presented by Cambia Health Solutions on Golf Channel are as follows:
Thursday Aug 28 - 6:30 PM-9:30 PM ET
Friday Aug 29 - 7:00 PM-9:30 PM ET
Saturday Aug 30 - 7:00 PM-9:30 PM ET
Sunday Aug 31 - 7:00 PM-9:00 PM ET

 

SO YEON RYU

MEGHAN FLANAGAN:  I just want to open up and ask just how has the past 48 hours been?  I know you've been waiting for this one for a very long time.
SO YEON RYU:  You know, one thing, I haven't won any tournament the last two years, so the last two years was like really tough time to me that I was really like strongly needing my winning.

And after I made it feels like I lost everything, because I really like hardly wanted to win the tournament and I made it.  So it feels like I already reached my goal and I already finished my career, because that kind of feel -- like after I won the tournament, a lot of interviewer asked me what's your goal this year.  And I said, you know what, my goal was only make winning, so after I make it, I cannot think anything.

So last 48 hours I was try to figure it out, like what's my goal, what I'm going to do in the future.  Then I just tried to feel, oh, I make a win.  Finally I made it.

And I just, you know, I just keeping more think about how many people has helped me out, too, I make this one.  So last 48 hour was like big thankful moment for me.

MEGHAN FLANAGAN:  So at the beginning of the year your goal was just to win.
SO YEON RYU:  Just win.

MEGHAN FLANAGAN:  Just win one.
SO YEON RYU:  Yes.  No matter what, just make a win.

MEGHAN FLANAGAN:  And so since then, you've been reevaluating.  What is the change, just win another one or two, win a major?
SO YEON RYU:  You know, the only thing is when I was in contention I was always scared because kind of like fail experience make everything scary.  So when I was in contention, I was kind of, oh, if I'm going to lose this one, then I know it will give me a lot of damage.  So I was kind of scary about it, so sometime I just don't want to play the final group, the final round, but I think after I make this one, I've got more confidence, and I could be like be more positive fighter.

Q.  Is that different?  I mean you won the U.S. Open, like probably the biggest tournament on the tour.  After you won that, you didn't think like, oh, I'm on my way now, I should win all the time?
SO YEON RYU:  You know what, thing is when I won the U.S. Women's Open, I had zero expectation of winning the thing, because I came from Korea.  I wasn't even LPGA members.  So you know, when I was at the playoff, I was just so excited to I made a playoff, no matter if I can make a win or not.  But after that, you know, like people's expectation level is going up, and also my expectation level is going high.

Then my rookie season was quite fantastic for me because I had a lot of Top 10 finish, and I won once as a rookie.  So it was make me -- how can I explain, like make my expectations levels just going so high. Then I -- actually, 2013 and 2014 my golf game is so improved.  I mean if I compare it to 2011 and '12, my golf level is way better than 2011 and '12, but I couldn't win any tournament.

So after that, I think my golf level is really high.  But why I cannot win the tournament?  What can I improve?  Then my answer was I cannot improve anything because I'm pretty sure I'm ready.

But if you cannot improve anything, then if you can't win anything, then you know, what can I do?  Just that kind of thing just make me more scary, just not really helpful to going through.

Q.  Is that all in your own mind or is it in the media or where does that come from?
SO YEON RYU:  I think it's pretty much both, but it's more like myself.  It's also, you know, sometimes when I finish second, you know sports is always -- people remember the first stage, you know.  Nobody remember the second stage.

Then people start to call me like unlucky player or, you know, I'm not really strong enough at the final round.  That kind of thing just make me -- just -- it's kind of just I think myself, oh, maybe I'm a loser, you know, that kind of thing.  I think it's pretty much both, like media or people and my thinking.

Then sometimes just people ask me, I know you play really well, but you couldn't win any tournaments, so what does that mean?  How can I answer that question, you know.

I think it's pretty much both, my thinking and people's thinking.

Q.  Because you were -- I mean you've been one of the best players.  You've got a lot of Top 10s every year.  You almost never miss the cut.
SO YEON RYU:  (Laughs).

Q.  You know, but in your mind, it was more about the win?
SO YEON RYU:  Yeah.  You know, I mean I always waiting the win, and winning is the best one.  If I had any experience about winning anything, maybe I'm not this much like expect winning, this much think about the winning thing.  But I know how good it is and I know how honest it is.  I think that's why I was more want it.

Q.  So what did you -- what happened last week that was different?
SO YEON RYU:  Last week, actually my Coach Ian Triggs was in the LPGA Championship, then I was talk with him.  Then I talked to him really honestly, Ian, I think my game has so much improved and I don't think I can do anything right now.  But I cannot win a tournament the last two years, it means I cannot win forever.

Then he told me, So Yeon, I know your game is really great.  I know your golf is really great, but thing is some other player just had a really great week.  That's why you couldn't win.  I mean compared to other player, you didn't get good long enough.

So I just kind of accept it.  Okay.  Important thing is I just do myself -- I just do my best.  Don't think about the winning thing.  So last week I just forget about the winning thing and I just focus on my just one shot.  If I'm on the teeing ground, I just think about the tee shot.  If I'm on the putting green, I just think about putting thing.

Actually before, I keep looking at the leaderboard.  I keep like comparing to other players.  I think I didn't do anything last week.  I can promise this.  I think that's why I could win the tournament.

Q.  Okay.  So you just focused on what you're doing?
SO YEON RYU: 
Yes.  I always just think about myself.  I didn't think any player.  I didn't pay attention to anything.

Q.  Okay.  But before that you would pay attention to some of the other players?
SO YEON RYU:  I did, yes.  I always compare to everybody.  You know, if somebody play well, I just, hmm, I think my swing is better than her, why I cannot win a tournament.  You know, that kind of thing just make me -- you know, I think other people is not really important.  Important thing is me.  I was at the little wrong direction.

Q.  Did you put more pressure on yourself because Inbee kept winning and you're so close to her, seeing her win each week?
SO YEON RYU:  You know what, actually no, I didn't.  Thing is maybe Korean fans could be because, you know, Inbee won six times last year but I didn't win any tournament.  But still, my world ranking was in Top 10, so people say, you know what, you play really consistent, but you haven't win a tournament, so you need to make a win.  See Inbee, Inbee won six times and she's No. 1 in the world right now.  Yeah.

I think people try to make me compare with Inbee and competing with Inbee, but I never do that, because I think Inbee had a well-deserved to take No. 1 position.  That's why I'm not really competing with Inbee.  I more respect Inbee.

One thing I really love Inbee is she just doing everything for her happiness.  So I'm inspired to her, but I'm not competing to her.

Q.  How cool was that to have Na Yeon and her finish second and third last week?  You three took the top 3 spots.
SO YEON RYU:  You know, Inbee is always -- not always, but she won many times, and she always played pretty consistently.  So I'm not really think about Inbee last week, but I'm more happy with the Na Yeon, because she was a bit struggle with her game.  Not even -- she wasn't even close to win last few months.

Then after International Crown she lost three matches.  She only won one matches.  After that she was so depressed.  After that our team was really worried about Na Yeon, just you know, we were worried about, oh, if she going to play really bad next couple months, she may be hard to get back to the game.

But now she looks like every her game is just going back on track and she play really well, so I'm more happy to see Na Yeon's playing.

Q.  Have you had a chance to see the golf course yet?
SO YEON RYU:  I've played today.  This is really nice golf course.  I loved it.  My caddie is Tom, and Tom and I thought, you know, before I came up to the golf course I was super tired and Tom was super tired, but after we see the golf course I'm like, we are totally awake.  This is beautiful place.  (Laughs).

Yes.  Especially, Tom is kind of -- he's golf addict.  His goal is, you know, now he tries to play every golf course, like world ranking top 100 in the world.  So he played St. Andrews and here and every really famous.  That's his goal.  That's how much he loves the golf, and he really loves to play really wonderful golf courses.

And Tom and I always keep talking about how good this golf course and how good these golf holes.  So I really cannot wait to play in this tournament.  It's going to be a really fun tournament.

Q.  It seems like it might set up good for your game.
SO YEON RYU:  Yes, yes.  It's more like we need to be creative because it's not just going for some of the holes, dogleg right, dogleg-left, so we need to be creative players, and I do love that kind of golf course.  So I think it's good for me.

Q.  You've played in Portland only one other time; right?
SO YEON RYU:  Yes, at the Pumpkin Ridge.

Q.  Do you have a feel for the city or like where to go eat or stuff like that?
SO YEON RYU:  The First Look At Nature thing is really great, so I love it.  And I landed here 2 p.m. yesterday, so I haven't much time to look around.  But I'm going to see today afternoon.  So I'm pretty sure I'm going to like it.

MEGHAN FLANAGAN:  I heard you guys have to go get sushi again, you and Na Yeon.
SO YEON RYU:  Yeah.  I need to speak with her.  Thing is Inbee is in Korea and she's shopping for her wedding.  So we miss Inbee this week, but I'm going to talk with I.K. and Na Yeon and having some good food and charging up.

Q.  This course is a lot different than the other two courses the last two weeks.  They've been a lot smaller greens, a lot tighter fairways.  How much does that change your mindset, if at all, and how much different is this course than the last two?
SO YEON RYU:  The thing is I think this green is much faster than last two weeks, and honestly, last week green was huge.

Q.  Right.
SO YEON RYU:  So no matter, if you missed a shot, it's still on the green, but it looks like this green is quite tiny.  I mean some of the green is really big, but still some of the green -- I mean normally the greens are really small.  So I think iron play is really important this week.  So I'm going to be more working on my iron shot and try to not miss every birdie chance.

MEGHAN FLANAGAN:  Momentum-wise, how important was it for you to play again this week after a win and trying to take that momentum into the Evian, too?
SO YEON RYU:  You know, good thing is I was a bit struggle with my putting for a while, but it looks like my putting feels really great.  So I can keep this feeling, I mean I can keep this putting feeling this week.  Then I'm going to have a great rest next week.  Then you know, Evian is huge tournament.  It's become a major tournament.  Before that I always wanted to win the tournament.

You know, if I stop play after last week, it could be I have a chance to have lost feeling.  But I can keep like continuing this feel.  So I think this tournament is really important to going to play Evian.

MEGHAN FLANAGAN:  All right.  Anything else?
SO YEON RYU:  Thank you.

MARISSA STEEN

NICKLAUS PARKER:  All right.  Run us through how the season's kind of gone so far.  Three wins on the Symetra Tour.  That's gotta be, I don't know, I don't want to say more than you were thinking, but you gotta feel good about that at this point.
MARISSA STEEN:  Oh, definitely.  It was a goal of mine to win this year and I'd been in multiple playoffs in years past and hadn't ever come through and actually gotten the victory.  So that was definitely a main goal of mine coming into this season.

And you know, I started off the year really well, finished second in Mesa, and then fifth when we were out in LA.  So just kind of got off to a hot start, and then won in our next swing, won twice in our next swing.  So it was a fast start to the year, but it's been good, really consistent, which is what we all strive for out here is to play well week in and week out.

Every single goal that I've set I've met, which is a great feeling to see all the hard work pay off.  And we'll see what else the year brings, hopefully more good things.

NICKLAUS PARKER:  Can you talk about, going into each tournament after you won twice, you were probably aware of the whole three-tournament promotion thing.  Can you just talk about how -- is that extra pressure or is that like a goal?
MARISSA STEEN:  I didn't really think about it.  It was one of those things where I really this season really my main goal was just to be very focused on hitting good golf shots, having a one-track mind, because I know that if I execute what I'm supposed to do, the scores are going to come.  So that's really, you know, from -- that was one thing that I've really tried to focus on actually like during my rounds themselves.

And you know, I mean I thought about it a little bit, but not too much, because again, you know, I was just out there trying to play good golf, and I had some good finishes in the last swing on Symetra, and then it all kind of came together in Richmond.

But I'm very happy to be out here.  Obviously I think the Battlefield promotion really promotes everything that the Symetra Tour is about.  So it's cool to actually have that, I guess be an example of that.

NICKLAUS PARKER:  When you won the tournament at what point did you go, oh, wait a minute, I'm going to go --
MARISSA STEEN:  Right away I was like, oh, my gosh, and Mindy came up to me right afterwards on the 18th green after the awards ceremony and she was like, you know, you can get into Portland, but you have to commit by Tuesday, and it's Sunday night at like 6.  I'm like, oh, gosh.

So it's kind of a whirlwind, and you're trying to take it all in.  So it was just a great day.  My whole family was there in Richmond to kind of celebrate with me, which was great, my mom, dad, sister, grandma, the whole clan was there.  So that was really, really good.

And I think the realization didn't hit me until a couple of days later until I was like booking my flight out here, you know.  I was like, whoa, like it's really happening.  It's really a reality now, which is an awesome feeling.

NICKLAUS PARKER:  Had you played in an LPGA Tour event before?
MARISSA STEEN:  I qualified for the U.S. Women's Open this year, and then I Monday qualified for the Marathon Classic in Toledo and played there.

Q.  And how did making the cut there, what does that do for you?  You made the cut in Marathon, first LPGA start.  I know you said you felt like you belonged at the U.S. Open.  What do you take from that going into this week?  You obviously proved you can play out on the Symetra Tour.  Do you feel like that gives you confidence going into this week?
MARISSA STEEN:  Definitely.  Definitely.  And you know, even like this whole week I've really felt within myself.  You know, there are a lot of the big players here, Suzann Pettersen, Morgan Pressel.

But you know, at the same time it's like I really -- even if I'm next to them on the range or see them on the putting green, like I'm really just focused on what I'm trying to get accomplished.  And so I really feel like I am ready to be out here full time, and I really feel like this is where I'm meant to be at this time.

I didn't really feel like that a year ago, so it's a cool feeling to kind of see the maturation that I've gone through over the last year as a golfer.

Q.  What's that like to be one of the few in recent memory to do the Battlefield promotion?  That's a pretty rare thing.
MARISSA STEEN:  Yeah, right.  I think especially on Symetra.  Or even on Web.com.  But it's awesome.  You look at the list of girls who have won three times in the past, like Cindy Lacrosse and Kathleen Ekey, and Lorena Ochoa was definitely one that stuck out to me since she was dominant for a while out here on the LPGA.

So it feels awesome to be -- to have my name mentioned among such an elite group of players, and it's kind of -- not that it isn't real, but you know, it's like kind of funny to kind of think of yourself in that way, or the things that you've accomplished.

So it's an awesome feeling, and like I said, it's what every girl on the Symetra Tour is trying to do.  So to actually get it done is really, really cool.

Q.  Is there a difference between last year and this year, like are there one or two things that you've improved so much to get to this point?
MARISSA STEEN:  Definitely my short game.  My wedges, the kind of awkward distances, you know, 30 to 90 yards.  The weird ones.  I worked a lot on those over the winter.  And then my putting has gotten way better.

And then the third thing my coach and I were working on was I hit a lot of greens last year, but then we decided that my proximity to the hole needed to get better.  So you know, giving yourself more legitimate opportunities for birdie.  Really everything's tightened up since last year.  Mostly the short-game things, but even my ball striking has gotten better, too?

Q.  So you sort of broke down what your weaknesses or whatever and just worked on them?
MARISSA STEEN:  Right.  Exactly.  Yeah, I've always -- ball striking has always been my strong suit.  So you know, it was really important for me, I think in this off season to develop my short game because that's where I was going to pick up the most strokes the quickest.

Q.  And you've gone from Symetra Tour to this week you'll have a sit down with the Golf Channel tomorrow.  You know you'll be on TV at some point this week.  What is that like, that transition?
MARISSA STEEN:  It's surreal, and even being in the pro am, like to me that's cool because it's always -- you know, they always go out for the top-ranked players to get into the pro am.  So that's kind of a cool thing.  I'm excited for that tomorrow.

But just all the exposure opportunities I've been given this week have been phenomenal.  And obviously no player could really want anything more; right.  And it's cool that it's me, you know.  I'm really excited for where I'm at, and really happy the way things have headed, or the way things have gone this year.  And yeah, just taking it all in.

Q.  And you'll be at the Symetra Tour Championship as opposed to Prattville?
MARISSA STEEN:  Yes.  Just for the card ceremony.  I figure I should be there for that; right?

Q.  Right.
MARISSA STEEN:  So yeah, that's what I'm going to do.  But I'm not going to play in the two Kansas tournaments.

Q.  Okay.  What were your impressions of being out on the golf course today?  Did you get to play it at all?
MARISSA STEEN:  It was phenomenal.  Yeah.  I played nine holes yesterday, nine holes today.  And just it's pure.  I mean the greens are really good.  The layout is phenomenal.  You know, kind of some tight tee shots, but it's an old classic design which is my favorite, and just the scenery is breathtaking.

And I think my favorite part this morning was when the fighter jets were taking off from the airport.  That was pretty cool.  You could like feel the ground shaking a little bit.  It was pretty -- that was awesome.  But no, everything's been perfect so far, and I haven't seen a blemish out there.

Q.  The fairways are pretty tight out there in some spots off the tee, aren't they?
MARISSA STEEN:  They are.

Q.  Is it going to be a driving accuracy type week?
MARISSA STEEN:  Definitely.  Especially to get more of your scoring irons in your hands, to give yourself better chances for birdie, you definitely have to hit a lot of really good tee shots, especially coming in, the last five or six holes are definitely narrower than the first.

Q.  Right.  And it seems like there's a lot of big trees out there, too, right off the fairway, where if you miss it, you're not maybe as worried about the rough as the trees.  Is that accurate?
MARISSA STEEN:  Oh, and the trees are just -- they're monstrous; right?  So back east you can kind of work around them.  There ain't any working around these trees.  They're pretty gargantuan, beautiful.  But I definitely -- it's not trying to hit it over there.  And the trunks are massive.

Q.  The greens are pretty small out there, too, aren't they, in some spots?
MARISSA STEEN
:  It's kind of a mixed bag.  There's a couple that are very small -- I mean a lot of them --

Q.  Especially coming in it seems like.
MARISSA STEEN:  Yeah.  And they have very definite sections, so they play smaller than they are.
There are a number that are fairly small, but then there are some that are pretty generous size.  But those ones have defined quadrants that if you miss that part of the green you're going to have a tough putt.

Q.  Just a little bit off the topic, but being that you're from Memphis, and being that we're in Portland, do you know Will Barton by any chance?
MARISSA STEEN:  I do.  Not personally.  But yeah, I do know who he is.  Yeah.  Yeah.  He played for I think two years when I was in school.

Q.  Yeah, I think you guys overlapped.
MARISSA STEEN:  Both Barton brothers were there, Antonio and Will.

Q.  Did you ever go to games?
MARISSA STEEN:  Oh, I went to like all of them when I was in town.  Unless I was traveling for golf I was at the games.  Huge fan.  Huge sports fan.

Q.  He was good his last year.
MARISSA STEEN:  Uh-huh.  Yep.  Yep.  Yeah, he was like I think CUSA player of the year and he set a bunch of records.
It was funny because he's so like lanky, you know what I mean, kind of like string-beany, but it gets it done.  He's not like a meaty guy.

Q.  Yeah.  Very popular.
MARISSA STEEN:  Yeah.  Nice guy.  Everyone in Memphis really liked him as well.

GIGI STOLL

MEGHAN FLANAGAN:  Well, you said you felt good after the practice round today.
GIGI STOLL:  Yes.

Q.  And I know you said you're not too familiar with the track here, which is kind of shocking, but tell me how you felt after the practice round.
GIGI STOLL:  Well, it's really similar to my home course, Portland Golf Club.  So I have a pretty good feel out here of the course and just kind of -- it's just similar.  So the greens are pretty similar, and the rough and things like that.  So I'm feeling pretty good about the course.

MEGHAN FLANAGAN:  Take us through just the emotions after you won the Amateur Open.  Had to be just a dream come true.  Were you just ecstatic, over the moon?
GIGI STOLL:  Yeah.  I mean the Front 9 I think I shot 2-over and I was 3-over after 10, and I had a stretch where I made four birdies in the last six holes.  And I didn't know if it was going to be enough to qualify, and when I came in, there was someone behind me who shot 72, and we didn't know what she was doing.  And the girl in front of me was 2-under going into 16.

And so just coming in -- and she shot even coming in and 1-under, and realizing I was the low score was just incredible, and I didn't even know what to say.  It was just like -- it was crazy.  And just coming out here since I was like eight years old, just watching, it's crazy to be here.

Q.  How different is that going to be?  I think I read that you've been standard bearers forever.
GIGI STOLL:  Ever.

MEGHAN FLANAGAN:  A little bit of a change of role.  How different is that going to be just from growing up watching these players and now playing next to them?
GIGI STOLL:  I mean it's going to be just a dream come true.  I don't even know how to explain it.  But just to be out here and actually compete with all the best players in the world, it's just going to be exhilarating.

MEGHAN FLANAGAN:  Good word.

Q.  Are you getting your dad to caddie are you getting a pro?
GIGI STOLL:  Well, we actually have a friend of ours who is a member out here, and he's played here forever; and he's good on the greens, and he's good at where to put the ball.  If he doesn't work out, we're going to have my dad caddie.

Q.  So you said you think this is Portland Golf Club-ish?
GIGI STOLL:  Uh-huh.  Yeah.  Very similar.  Similar to pretty much everything, just a different course.  Typical Portland course, I think.

MEGHAN FLANAGAN:  As this week was approaching, in your head what were you thinking?  What were you looking forward to the most?  Coming in here on Monday what were you most anticipating?  What were you most looking forward to?
GIGI STOLL:  Just coming out here with really nothing to lose.  It was really exciting for me.  And just being able to play my game and not really worry, because it's not my first or my last, so hopefully just being able to just come out here and have nothing to lose.

MEGHAN FLANAGAN:  What's been the highlight so far?  I know it's early in the week, but there's gotta be something where you come in and say --
GIGI STOLL:  Yeah, I mean just being out here and being able to practice and play on the course and just looking forward to playing on Thursday.

Q.  Do you have goals?  Do you have like a goal?
GIGI STOLL:  Um, I mean my first goal would be to make the cut, for sure.  But I mean my main goal is just to play good golf and see how that goes.  Just take each hole one by one is what I've been saying to a lot of people.  Just calm the nerves and play each shot one by one.

MEGHAN FLANAGAN:  And I know you played in the Open, which is as big as it gets.  How much will that experience -- how much will you draw from that?  What do you think was the most important lesson you took from that and coming into this week, probably feeling a lot more comfortable?
GIGI STOLL:  Yeah.  Just to not overthink it.  Just come out here and treat it like a normal golf tournament, normal golf round.  And at the Open I think I overthought a lot of things.  I had my coach come out, and we were just over-analyzing a lot, and I just feel like to just come out here and play like it's a casual round of golf and just try and keep my mind and all my nerves really calm.

Q.  So you probably heard today the U. S. Women's Amateur is the same dates as this next year.
GIGI STOLL:  Yeah, I heard about that.

Q.  So it's kind of good you got in this year; right?
GIGI STOLL:  Yeah, yeah.  For sure.  And possibly not even being -- well, I guess it's a week before.  Never mind.  I was going to say going to college, but it's a week earlier, couple weeks earlier.
But yeah, just being able to play this year, it's really exciting because I think it was a perfect year to qualify having the tournaments at the same time next year and one of them at my home course.  So it's really fun to be here.

Q.  So you'll probably try to get into both and then decide?
GIGI STOLL:  Yeah.  I mean I don't -- yeah, I guess just -- I don't know when the qualifiers are, but probably just try and qualify for both, I guess.

Q.  Do you have to go to school next week?
GIGI STOLL:  I do.  I start the 3rd.  I start the 3rd.

MEGHAN FLANAGAN:  No big deal.  Quick turnaround.  And you've been having a pretty great summer just on the amateur tour.  What has been coming together for you, do you think?  Do you think just a bunch of different parts or is there something working specifically?
GIGI STOLL:  My main thing has been putting, for sure.  Last year, in August or late June -- late July I switched my putting grip, and just I was kind of unsure about my putting last year, and I think my putting's really come together this year, and a lot of rounds that I've played that I've played well have been good putting rounds.

Q.  How did you come up with the idea to go left hand low?
GIGI STOLL:  I’m a predominately right handed player and I just wasn’t feeling comfortable but it's improved a lot.

Q.  Did you see somebody doing it or did you?
GIGI STOLL:  I know a couple of amateurs that I've played with have done it and I've kind of messed around a little bit with it in the past, but not too much.

But my dad, we were actually in Washington, D.C., and he told me to change it, and I did it for the last round, and I putted great.  He just said, flip your hand, see how that helps.  I was like, all right.  And then I used it the next day because I wasn't putting very well, and it worked, and I stuck with it.

MEGHAN FLANAGAN:  Committed to Arizona.
GIGI STOLL:  Uh-huh.

MEGHAN FLANAGAN:  How did that pan out?  How did that decision go as an Oregon girl?  Must be a little bit tough.
GIGI STOLL:  Yeah.  I mean –I visited every Pac 12 conference school and I just really liked the coaches and you can’t beat the weather. It was tough. And we actually went to the game where they played Oregon and beat them last year.

That was hard to watch.  But I mean, it was just -- the decision felt pretty right, and I -- they were actually my last visit.  And I just went home and called them up, and I said, I know this is where I want to be.

MEGHAN FLANAGAN: 
Cool.  Any special preparations you've been kind of having the past week just coming into this week?  Anything --
GIGI STOLL:  More practice rounds than normal just to get used to the course and have that availability.
And I've just -- I mean just treat it like a normal tournament for me.

MEGHAN FLANAGAN:  Cool.  All right.  That's all I need. 

Topics: Notes and Interviews, Portland Classic, Ryu, So Yeon

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