Safeway Classic Pre-tournament Interviews

Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola
Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club
North Plains, Ore.
Aug. 26, 2009

Pre-tournament interviews: Lorena Ochoa | Paula Creamer | Michelle Wie | Cristie Kerr

Lorena Ochoa

JASON TAYLOR: Lorena, thanks for coming in. It's good to see you here at the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola. How are you feeling?
LORENA OCHOA: Hello, everybody. I'm doing good. It's nice to be here. I think we all like very much the previous course, but this is also a fantastic place so where I am just kind of like knowing better the course but so far I feel good. I think it's going to be a fun tournament. I think the setup is good for a woman and I can't wait to tee off tomorrow and just get the tournament started.

Q. Lorena, in your mind how do you think your year has gone?
LORENA OCHOA: There has been a lot of ups and downs. It was really good at the start of the year and then I struggled a lot. Right now I feel much better. I think it was a good time to go home and rest and practice, get some practice. And then, you know, here we are, we're back. And I'm glad that I'm pretty much going to play in most of the tournaments closing the year. So I can't wait to be playing every week and feel better with my game. And then my goal is to finish a strong year and finish a good year.

Q. You've taken a little more time off than usual, right?
LORENA OCHOA: No. Huh-uh. I've been playing in the same tournaments I did last year, same number.

Q. Do you think this course favors a long hitter or any particular type of player?
LORENA OCHOA: I think you need to give yourself birdie chances on the par 5s. You know, there are so many The par 5s. And there are some, two or three holes, that you just have to make par and leave happy and then try to create more birdies on the par-5s. So I think it's driving taste, you know, to be able to give yourself a good position. And then just go from there.

Q. The 17th hole, when they put the tee way forward, I think they're planning to do that Sunday, is that a hole you would automatically try to drive the green do you think?
LORENA OCHOA: If it's a driver, yes; if it's a 3-wood, no. So I don't know exactly how far you want to be, it depends on the wind. So we'll see. I think I prefer just to stay short on the left side and have a chip to the hole.

Q. I think they said 230.
LORENA OCHOA: No, I'm not going for it.

Q. Really?
LORENA OCHOA: No. I hit my 3-wood with a right to left shape and you don't want to be on the left side because it's too hard to make it from there. So I'm just going to leave it short and then play from there.

Q. And then there's an unusual three par-5s in a row.
LORENA OCHOA: Yes.

Q. Does that sort of change how you approach that stretch?
LORENA OCHOA: No. I think, you know, it's the same for everybody. So I think it's important. Like I say, hopefully by the time you get to the par 5s you'll won't be two under and then you take advantage of the par 5s to try to create the, you know -- and to shoot the lower ground. So, I think it's fun. I think it's fun for us and for the spectators. It should be a good day, the tournament for the fans.

Q. If you hit a good drive on those three holes, are they all reachable for you?
LORENA OCHOA: Yes.

Paula Creamer

JASON TAYLOR: Paula, welcome to the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola. You're having a nice year, a few top-10 and top-5 finishes, and are coming off a great week at the Solheim Cup. We are at a new course this year, so how are you feeling?
PAULA CREAMER: I've had great memories here at Pumpkin Ridge so it's nice to be able to come back and play here. It's an amazing course. The venue here is perfect. You know, I played a practice round yesterday and the golf course is in wonderful shape and that's always something nice to come to, knowing you have really good fairways, good greens. So, like you said, last week was awesome. I'm very sick from last week. I'm very under the weather right now so I'm trying to conserve as much energy as I can but I am excited to be here.

Q. Just how great was the Solheim Cup, that whole experience?
PAULA CREAMER: No, truly, it's a week that you work so hard for for two years and it goes by so fast. I mean, two years for three days. It's truly; you can't compare it to anything. And the excitement that was going on, the golf that was being played, just the memories that were taken from there is so neat, and I cherish every Solheim I've ever played in. I've always said it's better than winning on my own. Whenever you get to represent your country and, you know, play for pride and go out there, it's truly amazing.

Q. Is it hard to then turn around and get right back on Tour?
PAULA CREAMER: Yes and no. I mean, it takes a lot out of you. It's a very physically and mentally, you know, draining week. You're just constantly on the go, there's not much sleep. And my body is shutting down right now from it. It's just hard. You put so much effort into it and you put so much, just everything you have goes into those three days. And, you know, we were there Sunday so we were there for a week. But it's just that constant build-up to it.

Q. Do you think there's really a bounce in confidence that people get from playing that?
PAULA CREAMER: Oh, yes, I think so. Just because, you know, you're out there, you have to learn how to make putts under pressure, you have to learn how to make, you know, hit shots, and I've taken a lot from, you know, how well I've played in Solheim Cups and tried to take it to normal tournaments that we play. And it's hard to do. It's hard to actually realize what the difference is. But, you know, there is. There's a huge confidence booster in yourself knowing that you went out and you did everything you could do and you did it.

Q. You played Ghost Creek during the Junior Amateur here?
PAULA CREAMER: Yeah, I think yes. I think so. I'm trying to -- I keep getting confused. You know, I'm out on the golf course and I'm like, I know I played here, I know I have. And then there's parts where I'm like, I don't think I've ever played here. So, I'm going to -- My dad and my mom aren't here right here, this week, so I have to call my dad and ask him, did I play this golf course? But at the Open, you know, I played on the other side.

Q. What do you think of the three par-5s in a row?
PAULA CREAMER: It's 8, 9, and 10. I think, I mean, there are not many golf courses that do that. Normally you can get occasionally two in a row, but three in a row, especially two out of the three are reachable so there will be a lot of birdies made in that section. But you have to go out, it's all about giving yourself an opportunity to make birdie or even eagle. You can make it on 8 and 9. You know, 10, depending on the wind, you can get there or not, but it's still, you've got to short club into it. So there's going to be a lot of birdies made in those holes.

Q. And on 17, where did you hit a tee shot from?
PAULA CREAMER: I only played 12 holes yesterday, so I haven't gotten to the last seven -- or six, sorry. I'm struggling.

Q. Other than the feeling ill, are you healthy now?
PAULA CREAMER: I don't feel very healthy right now, no. I feel terrible. I'm hoping I can play today. It's pretty bad. It's not exactly what I had in the past, but I was getting, you know, much better over time. The last couple of months have been my best, you know, physically feeling health-wise, the best that I have felt. I think a lot of it is just run down and my body is very tired from last week, and hopefully I can get some rest these next couple of days.

Michelle Wie

JASON TAYLOR: Michelle, thanks for coming to the media center here at the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola. You're having a great rookie season on the LPGA Tour, and had a great Solheim Cup outing last week. Can you talk about your year and how it feels to be in Portland?
MICHELLE WIE: I'm really excited to be here. I love coming back to Portland. I think it's a great city to come back to. And just being in the Pumpkin Ridge area just brings me back to the U.S. Open and I just had a great time. So I'm pretty excited to play this week. I think it's a great golf course. I got to see all 18 holes so it's pretty exciting. It's a really great golf course, really good condition. And it seems like it will be a challenging course.

Q. After last week, can you talk about the emotions of last week? You definitely seemed like you were having a good time.
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah. It was a lot of fun. I think all of our team members just wanted to knock it off the cloud and just remember last week. And it was kind of -- It was a lot of fun for me. It was just a lot of excitement and just a lot of emotions running through.

Q. Do you think last week will benefit you in individual tournaments?
MICHELLE WIE: Well, you know, I think I gained a lot of confidence from last week so I think that will help me. But I've been feeling like I played well all year, I just, you know, want to do better. So I'm working really hard at my game and I think it showed last week a little bit, and hopefully it will carry on.

Q. There was a lot of talk about you working with Dave Stockton. Can you talk about what he's working with you on?
MCHELLE WIE: Well, you know, I was in Palm Springs and I didn't feel like I putted very well at the Evian British Open and I just went and saw him. And he just gave me a couple of really good feedbacks and stuff.

Q. Do you think it helped you at the Solheim Cup?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah. For sure. I think he's a really talented putting coach and he has a great feel for things. So, you know, it was definitely the good tips.

Q. Do you think that the length of the course, the way it's playing now, does that suit your game pretty well?
MICHELLE WIE: Well, it played a lot longer at six in the morning, but, you know, I think it's a great golf course. It's a really good mix of holes. There's a lot of Par 3s and a lot of Par 5s. So I think it's a really good mix. You have a couple of longer holes, you have a couple of really short holes, so I think it just really tests all around your game.

Q. The three par-5s in a row, 8, 9, and 10, are they all reachable for you?
MICHELLE WIE: I believe so, yeah.

Q. What do you think of having like three par-5s in a row? It's kind of unusual?
MICHELLE WIE: It's good. I think a lot of things can happen on those three holes. I think Par 5s are holes where things can happen and there's a lot of Par 5s so there could be a lot of birdies and a lot of changing momentum and everything.

Q. And 17, the really short par that they can play really short, how do you decide if you're kind of driving the green on that?
MICHELLE WIE: Well, you know, I think I'd have to have some sort of like a shorter wood or an iron, or maybe, I don't know. It all depends on the risk and reward, where the pin is and whether it's worth it to go for it or not. But I think it's a great hole. It makes you really think about it.

Q. Do you go in with a game plan on how you play it or is it more like where you stand in the tournament?
MICHELLE WIE: Well, I go in knowing that I can, that it's possible. But I think I have to figure out each day if it's worth it or not.

Q. As the number of tournaments shrink because of sponsors, does that make each tournament that's left all that more important to you?
MICHELLE WIE: Well, I think no matter how many tournaments there, no matter if there's a hundred tournaments or just two tournaments, the importance of each tournament to me is just the same. When I go out on a tournament, I give it my hardest and I give it my best. And, you know, I think there's a lot more players playing every week because, you know, the numbers, but that could be a good thing. Every week it's just becoming a stronger feel.

Q. You've been around this game for a while obviously, but being here week after week, how different is that or what's your overall feeling about being on the tour this year?
MICHELLE WIE: It's a lot of fun. You know, because I only got to play, you know, like six or seven every year. But actually playing every single week, it's different. It's nice. It's nice to go to different places, it's nice to spend a lot more time with these girls and get to know them a lot better. But it's definitely a lot more tiring than, you know, playing a month and having a month off or something like that, but I just have to learn how to manage my energy well and it's been a lot of fun.

Q. Are you planning on going back to Stanford?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah.

Q. Do you start in September?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah.

Q. And do you just play the rest of the fall as you can?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I just take it as I go. I'm still going to play a lot.

Q. And there's talk again about the Tour and looking for marquis players to help promote it. Obviously you figure into that equation. Pressure at all?
MICHELLE WIE: Well, you know, I think the LPGA has a really product. I say that often and I mean it. You know, if you look at our tour, I think we have a lot of marketable players. We just have a lot of backgrounds and a lot of different nationalities. We can market that to different places. It's becoming a really global tour. But, you know, I don't -- I mean, I think -- I don't really see myself as, oh my God, I'm going to lead this tour or anything, I just want to be out there and show everyone what I have and try to win and stuff.

Cristie Kerr, defending champion

JASON TAYLOR: Cristie, thanks for joining us today. As we all know, you are our defending champion this week. How are you feeling now that you're back here, at a different course?
CRISTIE KERR: It feels great to be back in Portland. I love it here. My caddy is from here and has a lot of family still in the area. And, you know, our first one together was in Portland so that was pretty special for us. It's great to be back. It's wonderful to be here at Pumpkin Ridge. I played Witch Hollow for the U.S. Women's Open in 2003 here. But played nine holes yesterday and nine holes early this morning and, you know, I'm learning the golf course. I think it's a fantastic golf course and a great layout and I'm excited to be defending.

Q. Kind of talk about, you're the defending champ and then they move the course. Is that kind of a bummer?
CRISTIE KERR: I little bit because you want to try and defend on the course that you won on, but I think this is a fantastic golf course. It's going to be a really great challenge for the week. It's par for the course for me, though. If I win I'm guaranteed to be on a different course the next year. I think ten of my 12 wins this happened.

Q. Is that right?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah.

Q. The whole Solheim experience, can you talk about that?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, it's, you know, I think we're feeling the effects of it now. We're all exhausted, and, you know, I've been fighting a little cold the last day or so, so I'm trying to recover. Just a very exciting week. A lot of fun, a lot of fun hanging out with our teammates and, you know, building friendships. And, you know, we played some pretty fantastic golf. It was pretty close until the back nine on Sunday.

Q. Is it tough to get back into the tour routine then after something like that?
CRISTIE KERR: Not really. I think it was great for me to play the Solheim Cup and then have a segway into the tournaments, you know, I think it's going to help me feel a little bit more ready to play this week.

Q. Do you think it's true that a good Solheim Cup experience can really boost your career?
CRISTIE KERR: Oh, absolutely. Because you don't understand, like if you perform well under that kind of pressure, it just gives you that much more confidence knowing that you can perform, you know, under that much pressure.

Q. You said you've gotten through all 18 holes then?
CRISTIE KERR: Yes.

Q. What do you think of the three par-5s in a row?
CRISTIE KERR: 8, 9 and 10? I think it's unique to this course. But, you know, if you're playing well, take advantage of it.

Q. Are they all reachable for you?
CRISTIE KERR: Eight, I mean it depends on what time of day you play. If it's in the afternoon it will be a lot more firm and fast, but I think 8, 9, 10, yeah, I can probably get to all three of those. If not, very close.

Q. And then on 17 did you hit the ball off the front fee?
CRISTIE KERR: I did. I hit it about five feet.

Q. Do you go into a game plan for that hole?
CRISTIE KERR: No, you definitely do. You try and not let the -- you try and have your game plan and execute your game plan, but if you have to change something last minute you will. But you try and have a strategy for every tee. But you also have to assess how you're playing. If you feel like you're very confident with your ball striking that day you'll go for the green or try and put it in the bunker on the left. So it depends on where the pin is as well. There's a lot of strategy to really good short holes.

Q. There was a lot of talk from Solheim Cup about Michelle Wie and, you know, a lot of people were talking about it. Did you see really see a different person or was that sort of overplayed?
CRISTIE KERR: I don't think it was. I think she really kind of came out of her shell. I hung out a lot with her in the practices before the actual week of the Solheim, and I played every practice round with her. I played with her this morning at 6:00 a.m., you know, the back nine. So she was my Solheim partner and alternate so that was pretty special for us and we've built a friendship we'll probably have forever. And she definitely came out of her shell. She's such a good person. She's got a great heart and great spirit, and I think that, you know, maybe with the media she got off to the wrong foot in some respects, but I think she's very, very good for women's golf.

 

 

Safeway Class

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