Sky 72 Golf Club Ocean Course
Incheon, South Korea
First-round notes and interviews
October 29, 2010
America’s Vicky Hurst and Korea’s Song-Hee Kim both shot 4-under 68s Friday to lead by one shot after the first round of the LPGA Hana Bank Championship Presented by SK telecom at Sky 72 Golf Club’s Ocean Course in Incheon, South Korea. Defending champion Na Yeon Choi (South Korea) and Amy Hung (Taiwan) are one shot back.
First In, Last Out: Hurst had the honor of being the first group off the first tee, something she likes on Friday, but not on Sunday, she joked. “You set the bar for everyone else,” she said. “It was really cold this morning. I thought that it was going to be warmer today, but standing on the putting green, I was really cold. I just tried to keep warm starting out and stay steady because balls aren’t going to be flying as far, and I probably won’t be able to attack pins right away. I just tried to hit fairways, greens, two-putt, make pars and keep going and staying warm. But I made a couple birdies, played very consistently, held it through the finish.” Hurst will play in the final group Saturday.
Home, Sweet, Adopted Home: Although Hurst is American, she has deep roots in Korea, as her mother is from here. “It would mean a lot because it would be my first win, and all my family’s here – my grandparents, uncles and aunts,” she said about what it’d mean to get her first win here this week. Hurst, who’s made at least 20 trips to her mother’s homeland, is currently learning Korean via the Language Training Center, a company the LPGA’s partnered with to help players learn another language.
And I tip my hat, imagine that: Hurst was asked about her unique choice of hats: “It’s different,” she explained. “My whole family was kind of Payne Stewart fans. I wear them a little bit for him but also because I like to; they’re different.”
Ms. Consistency: Co-leader Song-Hee Kim has been incredibly consistent over the past year or so. In her last 26 events, she’s finished in the top 10 20 times, including a streak of 10 straight. However, none of those top-10s include a 1 after them, something her detractors point to. “It gives me some pressure, but it's not my last tournament,” she said. “I'm still young and will have a lot of chances to win. I will not be disappointed if I don't win this tournament. But one thing for sure is I will try to my best.”
Winner, Winner, Home-cooked Dinner: If Kim can break through this week, it’ll happen about an hour from where she grew up, something that would be extra special to her. “It's huge!” she said. “If I win this tournament, I feel more happy like... two times? Three times? Maybe my family and friends are more happy than me.”
Race for Rolex Rankings No. 1: No. 1 Cristie Kerr shot a 1-under 71; No. 2 Jiyai Shin shot 73; 2007 champ and No. 4 Suzann Pettersen matched Kerr’s 71. No. 3 Ai Miyazato and No. 5 Yani Tseng aren’t playing here this week.
Low Rookie: There are just three rookies in the field this week. Azahara Munoz, who has all but wrapped up Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year, shot a 1-over 73. Amanda Blumenherst led the trio with a 2-under 70. Gwladys Nocera, the third, shot 72.
Tune-in: Coverage of Friday play will air on Golf Channel Friday from Noon-2 p.m. EDT.
Of note: Jimin Kang, last week’s winner of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, made three birdies in her last six holes to post a 2-under 70. No one’s won back-to-back events since Ai Miyazato won the first two of this season.
QUICK QUOTES FROM VICKY HURST, Rolex Rankings No. 77
“I was the first off this morning. It was really cold this morning. I thought that it was going to be warmer today, but standing on the putting green, I was really cold. I just tried to keep warm starting out and stay steady because balls aren’t going to be flying as far, and I probably won’t be able to attack pins right away. I just tried to hit fairways, green, two-putt, make pars and keep going and staying warm. But I made a couple birdies, played very consistently, held it through the finish.”
“I think it’s good to go off first on the first day, not on the last day (laughs). You set the bar for everyone else.”
On whether the cold weather early in the week helped prepare her for an early tee time: “This morning was similar to the other days, but finishing up on 17 and 18, it was kind of warm. It felt good. I was kind of getting my distances back.”
“The course is nice. It’s long, and the fairways are wide, and the greens are big. It’s a big golf course, meaning you still have to hit driver off every hole. I guess they said there were some storms, and there were some bad spots on the course, but I haven’t really seen any. They’ve taken really good care of it.”
“The toughest hole for me is 16. I had some trouble on it last year. It’s a good hole. I have to take hybrid off the tee; it’s the only par-4 that I have to not hit driver, and the green is tough. It’s just a little bit tricky.”
On what it would mean to her to win in Korea: “It would mean a lot because it would be my first win, and all my family’s here – my grandparents, uncles and aunts, so it’d mean a lot.”
On her unique cap: “It’s different, and my whole family was kind of Payne Stewart fans. I wear them a little bit for him but also because I like to; they’re different.”
“I’ve been to Korea almost 20 times. When I was younger, I used to come here every year. For tournaments, it’s my second time. I played last year in the Hana Bank, and I played last year in Jeju Island.”
On the winning score: “It’ll probably be about the same as last year, 10-12 under.”
QUICK QUOTES FROM SONG-HEE KIM, Rolex Rankings No. 8
“I started really good on the front nine, and I made a lot of birdie putts – five birdie putts. I didn’t make any mistakes. Everything was perfect today.”
Playing in Korea, do you feel more pressure, or do you feel more comfortable? “Half and half. This is my hometown, which is really comfortable, and I like it. But everybody is watching me, so it’s a little bit of pressure.
How far from here did you grow up? “An hour.”
You’ve been close a lot but haven’t been able to get your first win. Does that affect you mentally at all out there? “Yes, it will give me some pressure, but it's not my last tournament. I'm still young and will have a lot of chance to win. I will not disappoint if I won't win this tournament. But one thing sure that is I will try to my best.”
How much would it mean to you to get your first win so close to home? “It's HUGE! If I win this tournament, I feel more happy like... two times? Three times? Maybe my family and friends are more happy than me.”
QUICK QUOTES FROM MICHELLE WIE, Rolex Rankings No. 7
“It was pretty fun out there, playing with Cristie and Shin. Thankfully, the weather got a lot warmer, so it was very pleasant to play in.”
“Obviously, there are a lot of people excited to see Shin play and Kerr play and hopefully me play too (laughs). It was a lot of fun out there today. The fans were very respectful.”
“The golf course was very good. There were some tricky pins out there today. You have to put yourself in the right places, but it’s a very fun golf course.”