Sybase Classic Presented by ShopRite Teleconference Transcript
MARK FRANCOIS: I'm the marketing communications director with Octagon and the Sybase Classic Presented by Shoprite, and I have just some notes I would like to go through this morning before Lorena joins us.
I would like to welcome everybody and thank you for joining the Sybase Classic Presented by Shoprite champion's teleconference, we will have Lorena on shortly.
As everyone knows the Sybase Classic is a little less than a month away from its return to Upper Montclair Country Club. This year we are being held May 11-17 there in Clifton.
I just wanted to remind everyone that we are having a media and sponsor golf outing. We have had a good return in response for that so far, but I just wanted to put it out there again in case anyone wasn't aware. The golf outing will be held April 27 at Upper Montclair Country Club. We will begin at 10:00 AM with breakfast and a press conference. We will be on the driving range at 11:00, and at 11:30 we will have a shotgun start on the tournament course.
If you have not received an invitation or if you are interested in participating, please call Catherine Ashforth at 1-800-444-5742, or send me an e-mail or contact us through the Web site. We wanted to get everybody out there to have a chance to play the tournament course. It should be in tournament conditions; we will be pretty close to the event.
If you are planning on covering the event and you have not signed up for media credentials, please be sure to visit LPGAmediacredentials.com to sign up for your credentials through the LPGA. It a very easy form to fill out, just one form per organization and you can sign up all your attending media on the same forth.
For the second consecutive year, will have a $2 million purse with the winner's take being $300,000. We are expecting one of the top fields again this year on Tour. We have already announced that Lorena will be going for her fourth title in a row. We have a strong field including Michelle Wie, Stacy Lewis, Vicky Hurst, Jiyai Shin and Shiho Oyama. Players do have until 5:00 PM on May 15 to register for the Sybase Classic, and we will release additional players as we get them in the coming weeks. You can always log on to our SybaseClassic.com and click on the press tab for latest announcements. We will have an electronic version of our media kit online under the press tab.
But at the golf outing, we will have hard copies and copies available on disk, and again, as we always do, we will have them available in the media center if you need them then.
We also have our schedule: ESPN2 live coverage again this year on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We are running several exciting promotions, as well. All of this information is available on the Web site. So please check in with the Web site for the latest updates.
TIM BARR: First I wanted to say thank you. We are extremely grateful to once again be the beneficiary of this tournament. Our thanks to LPGA, shop right and Upper Montclair for this opportunity. We intend to share a great deal of information about the Medial Center and also our Children's Hospital, which will be the focus this year from our side.
Together with the tournament organizers at Octagon, not only will St. Joseph's Children's Hospital benefit financially from the event, but we have provided several ways to provide guests and the fans about St. Joseph's Children's Hospital. In addition to our booth in the tent, there will be St. Joseph's Children's Hospital facts throughout the course on some of the holes.
I know we have talked about some scheduled visits to the Children's Hospital by some of the available pros, and an activity that will allow parent and their children to walk the course together as a way of promoting healthy lifestyles and staying active as a means of combating issues relating to pediatric obesity, which is something that I think a lot of media and others have gained attention.
So we are a component of St. Joseph's Children's Healthcare System. We are a state-dedicated, acute-care-designated children's hospital, and our system's main campus is in Paterson, New Jersey. We are renowned for our leading edge technology and compassion of patients for its approach to service excellence and the Children's Hospital provides advanced healthcare services designed specifically for children from birth to 21 years of age.
We readily accept referrals of difficult or unusual cases from hospitals and physicians, and perform both complex and the most routine procedures. We are one of the first pediatric hospitals designated by the State of New Jersey in the early 1990s. St. Joseph's Children's Hospital offers a complete spectrum of specialty and subspecialty services including a dedicated pediatric emergency room. We have the largest neonatal intensive care unit in the state, as well as a pediatric intensive care unit.
Our Children's Hospital is also renowned for such programs as pediatric cardiology, which we are probably one of the only pediatric cardiology programs left in the state. We also have programs in pediatric epilepsy, pediatric oncology, and the regional craniofacial center, along with child development center and cystic fibrosis center with a global telemedicine conferencing program.
Our efforts, the combined efforts of the organization's nurses have gained us the thrice designated by the American Nursing Credential Center with its highest honor, the Magnet Award, for nursing excellence.
We are one of the most highly-respected pediatric medical facilities in the state. We are the first and only hospital in New Jersey that separate conjoined twins. They were separated somewhere in the year in 2000, and those two young ladies continue to come for their follow-up visits and are doing quite well.
We have been here since 1867 celebrating more than 142 years of healthcare excellence. We collaborate with St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital through our advanced telemedicine program, and we are also home to the Alfiero and Lucia Palestroni Birth Defects Center, which is the only comprehensive center to treat a broad spectrum of pediatric birth defect disorders.
That's just a little bit about us. We are, at least for the region, the place that's offering innovation and quality healthcare for children, whether they have the ability to pay for those services or not.
And during the tournament, we hope to share, as I said earlier, a lot more information that people will feel that they are in a region and in an area that can provide their children with the best care and most comprehensive and high-level care. We are pleased to have the opportunity and to partner with the Sybase Classic this year once again, and look forward to a great tournament.
I know we are not supposed to show our biases but our raining champion is a pretty spectacular woman. We would be very happy to see her repeat.
MARK FRANCOIS: Appreciate those comments and thank you very much, and we are looking forward to our partnership again. We have been a great team and always enjoy working with St. Joseph's. It's a great cause and you do so much incredible work up there.
Q. Where is St. Joseph's located?
TIM BARR: We are in Paterson, New Jersey.
Q. Can you go over the schedule of the week?
MARK FRANCOIS: Certainly. Monday we will have practice rounds and LPGA qualifying at Upper Montclair. Tuesday and Wednesday, again, will be our official Pro-Am. We have some Pro-Am spots available if anyone is interested. We have information regarding the Pro-Am and what each playing spot entails at SybaseClassic.com.
The tournament will start on Thursday, official round play will begin Thursday and run Thursday through Sunday. We have live coverage on ESPN, Friday 1:30 to 3:30 and Saturday and Sunday 2:00 to 4:00, and we are running special promos with conjunction with our sponsors this year.
We are offering all fans of the LPGA free tickets to the event through our title sponsor Sybase. Folks can text LPGA on their cell phone to Sybase, which is 792273, and they will receive a promo code and as a return message, which they can then go to our Web site and enter the promo code online to receive two tickets. And with the LPGA doing the Kids Get in Free again this year, the family can come out and enjoy the event for three.
We are also in conjunction with Sybase, we are allowing folks to text blogs to Sybase, to receive text messages and alerts for important tournament-related information on results, weather delays and any special activities that will be going on. Fans can sign up online to receive those message alerts.
We are allowing Shoprite Price Plus card members to have free admission into the event. All they have to do is show up at the main gate and show their Price Plus Card to receive two free daily tickets any day of the event.
And then Saturday will be Lincoln Mercury day. On Saturday, Lincoln Mercury customers can show their keys and receive their free tickets, and that will be Saturday May 16.
We are looking forward to having another great field this year. We feel the schedule really plays into our advantage. We will be having some more updates on our field in the coming weeks. Look forward to announcing some great players. I'm sure we'll have our full complement of Hall of Famers and Top-10 folks in there.
ADAM HARRIS: We have one other event going on Saturday that we get to set a time on, but we are working with the LPGA and MetLife to do a junior clinic on the driving range sometime on Saturday and we are finalizing the logistics on that. That will be out on the Web site and we will send it to the individuals on our contact list once we finalize the times with that.
Q. With the economy the way it is, was there any concern about finding a sufficient number of volunteers and support personnel for the event? I know they had an issue at Nabisco last week.
MARK FRANCOIS: So far our volunteer sign-up has been on schedule. We have good support from the community, the Upper Montclair members and the folks that live in the area provide us good support. We are not foreseeing any shortages. We are on schedule and on target as of right now with our volunteer sign-up.
Lorena, would you like to make a few comments to open up and then we'll just open it up to the floor for some questions? Maybe just tell us a little bit about how your year is going so far and how you feel about coming back to Upper Montclair Country Club to shoot for your fourth straight title in a row.
LORENA OCHOA: Yes, good morning. I am here in Guadalajara right now and I am getting ready for the next few events.
Talking about Sybase, it's a tournament I love. It's a tournament that's been good to me in past years, so I can't wait to be there again and try to defend my title. I think it's something very special, having the opportunity to win the fourth in a row, and I'm going to try really hard to do it.
Like I said, I've been practicing hard and hopefully we are out there on Sunday.
Q. I know in the past how you have talked about Upper Montclair reminds you a little bit of your home course, but even have you been a little surprised at how well it's treated you over the last few years?
LORENA OCHOA: Well, you know, I think the way you feel is always very important. And it is true that I feel like it is my home. It re minds me, the setup of the course, the trees, the small greens, the poa annua on the greens. I mean, I don't want to say I'm surprised, because more than anything, it's something that I believe I can do it.
But I'm very thankful, you know, because it's always a great feeling being back to that place. It's one of my favorite tournaments, and like I said, it's very important to feel comfortable. It's a lot easier to play good that way, so I'm going to try to repeat that.
Q. Do you sort of have to tow the line between being too confident at a place you've won often at, and also sort of being ready and knowing that anyone else could jump up and take your spot?
LORENA OCHOA: I know I've been very lucky. It doesn't mean anything that I feel comfortable, because I know there are many other players that feel really good, and really, anybody can win, any week. Like I said, I'm going to try to enjoy my opportunity of doing something special. I won there before, and I'm going to try my hardest.
I really think competition is getting tougher and tougher, and really many players can win. So I'm just trying to believe in my game, trying to concentrate on my game and not on other players. It's not going to be easy, but I believe I can do it, so it will be a lot of fun.
Q. Never having lost at Upper Montclair, is this an event you circle on your calendar further in advance, or you're thinking about more than just a week or two leading up to it?
LORENA OCHOA: I think I can say this; it's a tournament that -- it's the first one on my schedule, because I love playing in the northeast. I think Sybase, it's great for the LPGA and I love to go there. I try to play one tournament at a time, and I try not to look so far ahead in the season. I think, you know, as a professional, it's very important just to take one week at a time. Now I'm here in Guadalajara and getting ready for Morelia, and getting ready for Kingsmill which is a big tournament. So I'm just trying to keep my focus here and just trying to play one week at a time.
And I get there on the Monday, I will try 100% with the mind-set I can win, and I want to be there on Sunday.
Q. I wondered if Lorena could just talk about the state of her game and how she feels about the way she is playing.
LORENA OCHOA: Yes, I think this has been a good season. The way it started, it was great. Winning my first tournament in Thailand. I've been consistent since then. I can see good things about my game. I've been practicing hard this season trying to make changes and make a stronger break with my left hand and change a little bit my putting stroke, and I'm really excited to see that I'm going in the right direction. I'm going to continue that way, and of course, I would like to win a few more tournaments before I go to Sybase, to New Jersey. So that's going to be one of my goals. The next tournament is going to be here in México and I would love to defend my title there, as well, and to win here in my country and just continue with a strong season.
I'm happy. The competition is getting very tough. There are a lot of good players that are playing good this year, so I think it's going to be an exciting year for the LPGA.
Q. I was wondering, last year at Sybase, Annika Sorenstam announced her retirement. I just wonder what the last year has been like for you now that you are sort of the official face of the LPGA Tour; have you felt more pressure, less pressure? Has anything changed?
LORENA OCHOA: You know, for sure, even me, we all miss Annika. She was very important for the Tour, and just to have her present on the range and when she was playing, I certainly miss her.
The Tour has many, many good players. Now we have Michelle Wie and I didn't I can't shin, the rookie from Korea; I don't feel pressure. I think more than anything, it's motivation. I think we are in a great place because there are so many good players, more Americans this year, which I think is good for the LPGA, for the media. Michelle Wie is back and everybody likes that. Hopefully she plays better in the next few tournaments; she's struggled a bit the last couple of weeks. I don't feel pressure at all. Like I said, I'm very motivated, I am at the top and I'm going to do whatever it takes to stay there.
Q. You mentioned the rookies. Can you tell us, you're seeing them out there every week, how close are they from getting up there and challenging you for your top spot or consistently staying at the top? Kind of similar to how you are, Jiyai Shin, she is currently at the top of the Money List, does she have the ability and consistency to stay there throughout the year?
LORENA OCHOA: Yes, for sure. She won I think eight tournaments last year in Korea. She won the ADT. She won the British Open. She is a top player. She is not just lucky.
And so just have to be ready to keep and maintain that good level of golf. Of course, she could be No. 1. That's why I'm practicing as hard as I'm practicing and my motivation is to continue that.
But not only her; many other good players. It's not easy to get to the LPGA and in the first year to be No. 1. It took me four years, almost five years, to be No. 1 in the World Ranking. It's just something that takes you many years of good, consistent playing.
So, we'll see how it goes. I think it's going to be exciting. I think the competition is getting better and better, and all of that is good for us, to raise the level of golf and to have more attention.
Q. When you've already won a tournament three times in a row, is it easier or harder to try and win it a fourth time; is there more pressure to do it?
LORENA OCHOA: I've never been in that situation, but like I said before, it's more than pressure; it's motivation. I have the opportunity to do something special, and I'm the only player out there that I'm able to do it, because of winning the last three years.
So, I'm just going to enjoy it. I'm going to get there with a smile on my face. I know that if I play the way I played, I can be there on Sunday, so that's what I'm going to try to do. I don't feel pressure. It's just a lot of joy and a lot of motivation in a good way, and that's what I'm going to do.
Q. Have you ever won a tournament four times at any time in your career?
LORENA OCHOA: Here in México, yes, the state championship way was little; I won the world championship five times in a row. Of course, we are talking, you know, this is a different level.
I think I should really just take advantage of this great opportunity.
Q. This year is a Solheim Cup year. Just wondering on your thoughts, since you are not able to play in that, would you like to see any changes where it would allow players outside of just USA-born and European-born players to compete in that? You know, in my opinion?
LORENA OCHOA: You know in my opinion, it's changing a lot. Today is more global than before and maybe they should start thinking of something different, playing from Asia, playing from other countries, like myself.
I am not against the Solheim Cup. I think it's a great event. I am very proud of being a professional, and the Solheim family has been great to us, especially me being from PING. I love staying in my casa, my home, and watching TV. It's good to rest and good to see some golf. It's not a competition that is in my style. If they would have a different type of competition, I think I would love to support it and to represent my country. So, we'll see what happens in the next couple of years. Maybe something different and comes up and we can all play.
Q. Why does this golf course set up so well for you?
LORENA OCHOA: I feel like home. I love the northeast golf courses, just old, traditional with a lot of trees. I like the small greens, poa annua greens, the same type of greens that I play here in Guadalajara. It just makes me feel comfortable. I'm going to try to continue that, you know, to have the same feeling this year, and I would love to play good again and to have the opportunity to win the tournament on Sunday.
Q. With the economy the way it is now, have the LPGA players expressed any concerns about the future of the Tour or your schedule or retaining sponsors, that kind of thing?
LORENA OCHOA: I think yes, in a way, sometimes but I believe we are in a good position and we want to support and be out there. We lost a few tournaments and we are looking to get a couple of new sponsors, but it's not easy. I think what we can do is just to really spend more time with our sponsors, trying to support as much as we can, helping the LPGA making decisions and supporting the Tour as best we can and maybe just trying to continue that good relationship that we have with our sponsors and be a little bit easier with them.
I believe that the LPGA is very strong, and that we should be in good shape. We are working together and for sure spends more time with the sponsors, that's one of our responsibilities and it's going to help our tour.
MARK FRANCOIS: We really appreciate you joining us today and we are looking forward to having you out at Upper Montclair Country Club this coming May. We are excited about you defending your title, and shooting for your fourth straight win in a row. We certainly appreciate you joining today and looking forward to having you out for a great event.
LORENA OCHOA: Thank you, yes, me, too, I'm very excited to get back to New Jersey, the beautiful course at Upper Montclair. Just say hi to everybody and to come and watch us play. Thank you for all of your support.
Topics: Ochoa, Lorena