Guadalajara Country Club
Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
First-round notes and interviews
Nov. 11, 2010
Cristie Kerr made nine birdies on her way to a tournament-record, 8-under 64 in the first round of the $1.1 million Lorena Ochoa Invitational Presented by Banamex and Corona Light at Guadalajara Country Club in Mexico. She leads by three over Stacy Lewis and by four over Ai Miyazato, Na Yeon Choi, Katherine Hull and Paula Creamer.
“I felt really good out there,” Kerr said. “I was there every shot. I want to do the small things well and take it day by day. I won today for myself, and I'll go out there tomorrow with the same amount of confidence.”
Defending champion Michelle Wie withdrew following the first round. “I was very excited to be here, but unfortunately I can’t play anymore,” she said. “I’m going to see the doctor tomorrow and hope to make it feel better. We took an MRI and I have two little cysts near my spine and a little disc bulge. It’s nothing major but it’s just something I can’t play with right now.”
Slow start: Tournament hostess Lorena Ochoa struggled Thursday, shooting a 2-over 74. After a double-bogey on five, Ochoa clawed her way back to Even par with birdies on 10 and 15 before double-bogeying the par-5 closing hole. “It’s good to be back,” Ochoa said. “It would be better if I had a better round today. Especially the end of the day was a tough one because I tried really hard to stay around par and just finish really good. But nothing I can do now.”
Dutiful husband: Ochoa passed no blame onto her caddie this week, her husband Andres Conesa, CEO of Aeromexico. “He did pretty good,” she said. “I was very impressed. But I know talking to him he did a good job. He was taking care of his duties.”
Race updates. Cristie Kerr currently trails Na Yeon Choi in the Vare Trophy race, but she helped her cause on Thursday with a 64. The Vare Trophy, along with Rolex Player of the Year and LPGA Official Money List races, will be impacted by play at this week’s Lorena Ochoa Invitational. Rolex Player of the Year leader Yani Tseng carded a 4-over-par 76 on Thursday, opening the door for the four players (three of whom are active this week) who can still mathematically win the award to make a move. Kerr, Ai Miyazato and Na Yeon Choi would all take the lead in the race with a victory in Guadalajara. Choi, currently tied for third with Miyazato, leads the money list by fewer than $4,000 over Jiyai Shin, who is not active this week. “This tournament is definitely key,” Kerr said. “We have 35, 36 of the best players in the world here, and everybody's playing well. So for me to try and accomplish the goals that I have of Player of the Year and so on, I have to keep doing what I did today.”
Hogar, dulce, hogar: Although Stacy Lewis (67) resides in Arkansas, Mexico might be climbing her power rankings. Earlier this year at the Tres Marias Championship – the other Mexican event on the 2010 schedule – Lewis finished second alone, one shot back of champ Ai Miyazato, who had to drain an 18-foot par putt on the last hole to hold her off. “Every time I come to Mexico I play well,” she laughed. “I don't know what it is, but I've also just been playing good in general.”
Into thin air: Altitude will definitely be a challenge to overcome this week, as Guadalajara sits more than a mile above sea level. “It's actually really hard,” said Stacy Lewis, who shot a 5-under 67. “I'm still kind of adjusting. I think it's somewhere between 5- and 10-percent depending on how long the shot is and how long it's in the air and things like that. But I had some shots today that just went crazy far for me. So I'm still trying to adjust.”
Dance moves: Lewis’ 67 today validates her third-place finish at the Mizuno Classic last week, which featured a second-round, 8-under 64. “I've just been hitting it really consistently,” she explained her recent success. “I’m hitting a lot of fairways and finally getting some putts to go in. I think all the birdies I made today were pretty long putts. So putting has been key for, I guess, the last four weeks now.”
We’re goin’ streaking! With her bogey-free round today, Lewis hasn’t made a bogey in 61 holes.
CRISTIE KERR, Rolex Rankings No. 3
THE MODERATOR: Cristie, you made nine birdies, shot a tournament-record 64. Tell us about your day.
CRISTIE KERR: Felt really good out there. I was there every shot. You know, even though I three putted 17, that hole was playing tough today. But I really didn't do anything wrong. I want to do the small things well and take it day by day. And I won today for myself, and I'll go out there tomorrow with the same amount of confidence.
Q. Yesterday, I was told that this tournament would be very important to define the three main races on the LPGA this year. Do you think this will be a good first step toward that?
CRISTIE KERR: Absolutely. This tournament is definitely key. We have 35, 36 of the best players in the world here, and everybody's playing well. So for me to try and accomplish the goals that I have of Player of the Year and so on, I have to keep doing what I did today.
Q. What was the shot that worked best for you today? The one that you did the best?
CRISTIE KERR: I think when you're shooting 8 or 9 under, pretty much everything is working well. I drove the ball really well off the tee today, and that kind of set up having good yardages into the greens. And I hit the ball fairly close to the hole today, and I putted really well.
Q. With this result that you have today, and the result that Michelle Wie had to today, do you feel you can take this tournament?
CRISTIE KERR: I think that I'm in competition with myself first and foremost, because when I play well for myself and do all of those little things well, then the results take care of themselves. You know, Michelle Wie's one of my best friends. Her back was really hurting her out there today, and she could barely finish her swing and was walking through shots. I think that I wish her well. She's going to go home and get recuperated. I think she withdrew didn't she or did she not? I'm not sure whether she did or not. I'm going to just continue to play the way I did today the next three days, and then if I do that, then everything else will take care of itself.
Q. You played very aggressively. What is your strategy for the tournament?
CRISTIE KERR: When you're swinging well, you have good confidence and a lot of good yardages into the hole today. So I had good control of my ball, and if I have good control of my ball then I can still be aggressive. So every day's different. You have to hopefully I'll be able to be as aggressive the next two days.
Q. Ever since Lorena retired in April, there has only been a number one player for about four months. So what do you attribute that to? Secondly a tournament that is slowly gaining more prestige and more important, And there are probably six players that can change their position in the ranking and things like that with this today. Can you please talk a little more about that as well?
CRISTIE KERR: Yeah, there have been about five players, six players that have been very consistent this year. Like even if Lorena was playing full time she might have been number one for a period of time, but somebody else might have overtaken her as well because there are so many players that are playing well now. To be number one for any period of time you have to win seven or eight tournaments a year, and that hasn't happened this year. So I think that's why we're seeing the changing so often because you have to win more than four or five or six tournaments to be number one for a length of time with the way the ranking system works.
Q. Being someone that travels around the world playing golf, can you tell us what people around the world think about this tournament? For us it's like a jewel and things we brag about. Can you tell us what the players and people around the world think about this tournament?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, sure, I know that not only myself, but all the players playing in this tournament, we play all year long to be able to make it into this tournament. It's run very well. It's a very good location, very good golf course, everything is great. The purse is amazing, so this is one of the best tournaments we have on tour. The small field makes it more intimate for people to see us play and to interact with the fans. So this tournament is definitely gaining headway to being one of the most prestigious on our tour.
Q. Coming back to golf a bit, can you talk about the pin positions, the weather, the crowds compared to other years and how this has helped you today with your round?
CRISTIE KERR: It's been similar to this, so the weather is really not a factor. It's perfect playing conditions. The course is in great shape. The pin positions are difficult, but accessible if you're playing well. The crowds are always great here, it's a great tournament.
STACY LEWIS, Rolex Rankings No. 34
THE MODERATOR: Stacy, welcome. Good playing today, a 5 under 67. Talk a little about it?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I've been playing well, and I played really well today. I even left a couple out there which is good for the rest of the week. So I'm really happy with it.
Q. So Mexico's kind of been good to you this year?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, it seems like it. Every time I come to Mexico I play well. I don't know what it is, but I've also just been playing good in general, so it's been fun.
Q. What specifically is going well for you? Obviously you played well last week, and as you mentioned you've been playing well recently.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I've just been hitting it really consistently. Hitting a lot of fairways and finally getting some putts to go in. I think all the birdies I made today were pretty long putts. So putting has been key for, I guess, the last four weeks now.
Q. You're coming off great play in the Mizuno Classic. So how are you going to keep this going because sometimes you haven't kept up with it, so what is your plan to keep it up?
STACY LEWIS: I think I'm just going to stick with what I did today, which is I put myself in position to make birdies and get a few putts to fall. The final round last week really helped me to just realize that I can play with the best players in the world. I was actually really comfortable there. So I think that's going to help me a lot going into the weekend.
Q. Which was your shot of the day?
STACY LEWIS: Probably the shot I hit my approach shot into 15. At that point I was 3 under in the round and I had just kind of been making pars and I needed to get something going. I hit a great shot out of the right rough to about probably 10 feet and made the putt for birdie. So I think that was the shot of the day for me.
Q. How much do you have to adjust for the altitude?
STACY LEWIS: It's actually really hard. I'm still kind of adjusting. Off the fairways too and this grass the shots seem to jump a little bit too. But I think it's somewhere between 5 and 10% depending on how long the shot is and how long it's in the air and things like that. But I had some shots today that just went crazy far for me. So I'm still trying to adjust to that.
Q. What was the toughest thing on the course today?
STACY LEWIS: I think it was definitely just figuring out how far my shots were going. Early in the round I hit a couple of wedge shots that just went really far. So it was adjusting to the altitude and figuring out how far the ball's going this week.
Q. For us as Mexicans this course is like a treasure. We consider it one of the best in the country. How do you think it pairs up to maybe courses around the world? Would you consider it one of the best?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I've never been here and a lot of the caddies told me it's one of the best courses we play all year. That's what they told me last week. Then coming here, it's awesome. It's a great practice facility. The golf course is in great shape. The greens are rolling really good. So I was actually really surprised and impressed.
Q. After 112 years, golf is going to be back in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. That is a great testament of what this sport has been able to do and accomplish. Could you give us your thoughts about that?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I think over the last 10, 15 years golf has become so global it was almost kind of dumb that it wasn't in the Olympics. I think it's great. We actually played a tournament in Brazil, and the fans were great down there. I think it's a great thing for our sport, and I think it will be great for Brazil too.
Q. We know that you don't get to talk to Lorena a lot. But you were able to talk to her this week. What is your impression? Is she happy to be back on the course? Is she happy to be back to the tournament?
STACY LEWIS: I haven't talked to her very much, but I'm sure she's probably happy just to be playing and not have all the pressure that she's used to playing with. I know I played with her in her final round. She played in Morelia, and the fans were amazing. They loved her so much. But you could see the pressure that it put on her. I don't know, I hope this week she can just enjoy it and just play golf.
Q. This golf today may be one of the best for the weekend. What do you feel about that?
STACY LEWIS: I was very happy with it. I left a couple putts out there, I think, and a couple shots I would take back. But I think this golf course is hard and you have to hit a lot of good shots. At the end day I think I'm going to be in a really good spot. A couple more of those this weekend wouldn't hurt either.
Q. How do you feel being back out there again?
LORENA OCHOA: Well, it's good to be back. It would be better if I had a better round today. Especially the end of the day was a tough one because I tried really hard to stay around par and just finishing really good. But nothing I can do now.
Q. Do you take it just as hard now as you do pre retirement or do you have a different outlook now?
LORENA OCHOA: No, I thought this year the tournament would be easier for me. I thought it would be just less you know, with a lot of adrenaline and under pressure, I was trying to play good. But it was really difficult for me. I didn't have any control on my shots. I was hitting the ball too far. I probably hit four balls over the green, so that's tough to score. Hopefully tomorrow I adjust a little bit better and then try to have a better round.
Q. How did your caddy do?
LORENA OCHOA: He did pretty good. I was very impressed. But I know talking to him he did a good job. He was taking care of his, how do you say, his bag, his duties, so he did good.
Q. You and Ai are good friends. How do you think about Ai in this tournament?
LORENA OCHOA: She's very good. She's a very, very solid player. Her putting is very good, and she proved that today one more time. So now she's got birdies. She's a great player. I like her. We are good friends, and I wish her the best.