LPGA Championship -- Third-round notes and interviews

LPGA Championship Presented by Wegmans

Locust Hill Country Club
Pittsford, N.Y.
June 26, 2010
Third-Round Notes and Interviews

Cristie Kerr knows a thing-or-two about holding a lead entering the final round. The 13-time Tour winner has won eight of 15 times she has entered the final round with a lead, most recently at the LPGA State Farm Classic two weeks ago.

Kerr began the day with a five-stroke lead and extended that to eight strokes, the largest 54-hole lead in LPGA Championship history. The previous largest 54-hole lead in LPGA Championship history was held by Mickey Wright, who led by seven strokes in 1961. Wright went one to win by nine shots. The largest 54-hole lead in LPGA major championship history was 10 strokes by Babe Zaharias at the 1954 U.S. Women’s Open.

Kerr has played well at Locust Hill in recent years, finishing fourth (2007), fifth (2008) and tied for seventh (2009) at the Wegmans LPGA. Despite a tougher course and a better field, Kerr is still shining in Pittsford at the LPGA Championship Presented by Wegmans.

Going back to her 2007 U.S. Women’s Open victory, Kerr has finished in the top-10 of seven of 11 major championships.

Kerr is projected to take over the Rolex Rankings No. 1 spot with a victory, unless Ai Miyazato finishes second. She would be the first American to hold the top spot in the world rankings since their inception in 2006.

Mika Miyazato it trying to become the first player from Japan to win an LPGA major since Chako Higuchi won the LPGA Championship in 1977. Miyazato shot a second-round 72 to stand in a tie for second. Miyazato still thinks she has a chance to catch Kerr, “Although Cristie has an eight point lead ahead of me, that if I keep my patience and endure to the last hole, then I am going to be able to catch up.”

Jimin Kang, whose brother David graduated from the Univ. of Rochester in 2005 and still lives in the city, is tied for third. In five previous appearances at the LPGA Championship, her best finish is a tie for 25th.

She started playing golf with her friends at a public driving range in Spain and now, in her first major as a professional, Azahara Munoz is tied for third entering the final round. The 22-year-old is looking for her second professional victory after winning the Madrid Masters on the Ladies European Tour (LET) last year.

Munoz is all-but-assured of overtaking Amanda Blumenherst in the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race. Munoz currently trails Blumenherst by 14 points, but with double points available at all major championship – and Blumenherst out of contention – Munoz is a safe bet to take the reins in the rookie race.

Morgan Pressel bounced back from a 4-over-par 76 on Friday with a 4-under-par 68 on Saturday. Despite opening and closing bogies at 1 and 18 in the third round, Pressel, who began this morning tied for 60th, improved to a tie for 19th with 18 holes remaining.

Catriona Matthew, the 2009 RICOH Women’s British Open champion, made a move up the leaderboard with a third-round 69. Her season-best finish is a tie for fifth at the Sybase Match Play Championship. She stands in tie for eighth heading into the final round.

Australia’s Sarah Jane Smith finds herself in a new position this week. It is the first time she has made the cut in an LPGA major. She fired a third-round 69. Smith’s best finish in 2010 is a T16 at the Bell Micro LPGA Classic. Her career best LPGA finish is a tie for sixth at the 2008 Navistar Classic.

Meaghan Francella, the winner of the unofficial HSBC LPGA Brasil Cup, has found her form again. After missing the cut last week, she is in contention for another high finish. Despite suffering a triple-bogey on the par-4 16th, Francella shot a third-round 70 which included six birdies.

Of note. Rolex Rankings No. 3 Suzann Pettersen fired a third-round 69…Yani Tseng, the winner of the 2010 Kraft Nabisco and 2008 LPGA Championship, carded a 2-under 70…The world’s No. 1 Ai Miyazato also shot 70 in the third round…Karrie Webb shot 69…Gloria Park made an eagle on the par-4 14th. She holed a #3 rescue from 176 yards.


MODERATOR: Cristie, great playing again today. You are 13‑under par. You have an eight shot lead heading into tomorrow. Can you walk us through your round?

CRISTIE KERR: Sure, I played great again today. I started off with a bogey on No. 2. I actually made a good swing into the green, and I was a little in between clubs and just kind of, just hit a little too solid actually.

It was one of my better swings of the day. I hit it on the back fringe and kind of in between chipping and putting it and ended up almost chipping it in but making bogey missing the putts.

And then birdie 3, I hit a 9‑iron into the green, made probably about a 15‑foot putt, maybe a little longer.

And then I birdied the next hole par‑5, I hit a gap wedge in and made about a 12, 14‑footer, maybe 12 feet.

And then pars all the way through 9. I hit a great putt on 9. I don't really know how that missed, but that's golf.

I bogeyed 10, hit it left and didn't end up getting up and down.

I birdied, 11, 12 and 13. I hit lob wedge to about ten feet on 11, made that. I hit a gap wedge on 12 to about 12 feet and made that. 13, hit 8‑iron to about seven feet below the hole and made that.

Bogeyed 14, hit it left off the tee again and had to just pitch out, a good 2‑putt for bogey there. And then 9‑iron on 15 for birdie, made about a 10‑footer there.

Q: It looked like when you bogeyed 10 and she made birdie 10, you had a 3‑shot lead, you had been playing well, obviously, but there was almost a second gear like you realize, okay, enough of that and let's put on the accelerator and go. Did you have that thought like time to get going here?
CRISTIE KERR: Yes, that's what I've been trying to do since Thursday. I didn't even know how much of a lead I had out there. I mean it's not really that important to me at this point. I was just mad that I bogeyed 10 and kind of got over it and just looked a little bit more left than where I was trying to start the tee shot and hooked it in the rough. And I got mad at that and just got on a run. I definitely want to keep the foot on the gas. It doesn't matter how many shot lead you have in golf, it's not enough.

Q: You might be aware of what they said on the Golf Channel, if you win and Ai doesn't finish second, you're going to be No. 1. You talked about it Friday, it's been your goal all your life, and you are basically 18 holes away from doing that. Ts it going to be hard to suppress that excitement because you are eight shots ahead?
CRISTIE KERR: No, I don't think so because, you know, it's great to be No. 1. But you don't want to be just No. 1 for one week, oh my God, I got there, and now I'm No. 1, it doesn't work that way. You have to do what Annika's done, you have to do what Lorena's done week after week to prove you are No. 1. So it will be great to get there. I've won tournaments in the past which got me to No. 1 on the Money List when we didn't have the Rolex rankings. So it's the same kind of thing. It's great to get there. That's step one and then prove it over and over again every week.

Q: Cristie, you were maybe the most animated today in some of your expressions. You got angry at yourself dropping your putter, a bit surprised on No. 9, and how you reacted on No. 10. Did you feel or did you sense being a little bit more emotional as this third round progressed?
CRISTIE KERR: Sure, there are times in every round you are a little bit more emotional than others. I dropped my putter on 9 because I couldn't believe it missed. I was mad at myself on 10, not because the ball went left, because I made a mental error. That's what I've been trying to avoid. I can handle making a bad golf swing, but the swing on 17 today when I hit it way right was a bad golf swing. I can handle that.

But mentally, if you want to win major championships, and like he said get to No. 1 in the world, there is no room for that.

Q: How much did the rain affect your swing on the back 9? What's your approach going in the final round with an eight shot lead?
CRISTIE KERR: I think the rain probably changed my rhythm a little bit with the driver. Coming in I hit a great tee shot on 16. I'm going to remember that one for tomorrow. But, you know, it's great to have an eight shot lead. It doesn't matter if it disappears. You got to keep going forward. You got to

keep putting your foot on the gas. Try to extend. Try to shoot in the 60's, do all of the things that I've done the last three days.

Q: Cristie, are you aware that you just set a record today for a 54‑hole margin in this tournament?
CRISTIE KERR: No, thank you for telling me that.

Q: How does that feel and how important is it for you to get your name in the record books for this kind of thing?

CRISTIE KERR: It's very important. Like I said, one of the ways that we are going to get more American girls playing golf and out on Tour is to have an American winning. I'm fine with carrying that burden. It doesn't bother me. That's how I got involved with the game. I was watching the U.S. Open, and like I said yesterday, Patty Sheehan and Juli Inkster, Nancy Lopez, Beth Daniel, all of the greats winning tournaments, and that's what inspired me to get into golf. If there wasn't TV, and I didn't watch them on TV, I would never be sitting here.

Q: It seems like the other players have mainly given up at this point?
CRISTIE KERR: I wouldn't say that.
Q: When we asked them they all seem to think an eight shot margin is going to be tough to catch. How important is it for you to send them the message that among only six players that are in the fight for No. 1, you are the one with the most experience and the one who could do something like this?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, I think, I think it's an honor to be in position to do it. I think I got to go out tomorrow and first things first, I got to take care of my job. I got to go out there and, you know, what, they would feel a lot less energized if it was a 12‑shot lead. I've got to go out, and I'm just going to do the same stuff.

You can't rest on your laurels. Especially not on a golf course like this, set up like this. I just got to keep going.
Q: So, Cristie, you mentioned something, and I think it's very interesting and that is as you were growing up you had role models that you looked up to in American golf. You become No. 1 in the world at a U.S. player, what does that role model look like to young girls? How would you define that now? I will tell you one other thing, we interviewed Patty Sheehan yesterday and said she wishes more American players had fire in their bellies? CRISTIE KERR: It's a very broad question. I will do the best I can to answer it. I think to me what being No. 1 means and being a role model means is being very intense, competitively, being great with fans, being appreciative of the position that you're in, giving back, and I do that with breast cancer and supporting other charities and just trying to do the right things. Because, you know, I went to the autograph tent before I came here. It's raining, the fans, you know, I'm not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I think that a role model means you're always trying to make yourself better so that other people look up to that so that other people can make themselves better.

Q: Cristie, I know you have one more round left to play and nothing is a given here, at what point is it not human to not envision winning that second major and winning this event?
CRISTIE KERR: I don't think I understand the question.

Q: Can you allow yourself to envision winning this one?

CRISTIE KERR: Absolutely. I can sit here and say give me the trophy now, but it's not going to happen. I got one more round of golf to play. There is one reason why I'm sitting here and so far ahead at this point because of the attitude I'm bringing and the focus that I have.

Q: Cristie, can you talk about your putting, what makes you such a good putter? Have you always been a good putter?
CRISTIE KERR: You know, that's something I think that you can try to teach people but it's hard. I've always been a good putter. I've always had kind of a long flowing stroke. I used to love in grade school and high school watching Ben Crenshaw putt. I used to love just watching him putt. And just kind of copy, try to copy good putters, just see how they go about it.

And being a good putter is also having intuition, knowing how to read the greens, being able to hit it the right speed, being able to stay still under pressure, and in a sense, not try too hard. I tried to hard on the last putt, and I over read it, just like I did on 7, because I wanted to make both of those really bad and it didn't happen.
Yes, I've always been a good putter, and I have been blessed with that.

Q: With the No. 1 position kind of going back and forth right now, do you think it's important for The Tour to have one dominant player that everyone kind of rallies around?
CRISTIE KERR: That's a good question. I'm not sure because for so long we had Annika dominating year after year, then Lorena. The question back then was, do you think it would be good if other people got up there? I think it's good to have rivalries and good to have competition. It makes the story line interesting, I hope at the end of the year I'm sitting in the right position.

Q: Cristie, talk about the attitude you are bringing. What's different about your attitude for this tournament?
CRISTIE KERR: I don't know. It's just something within this week. It's never say die, can't get far enough ahead, trying to do my mental stuff and not necessarily control where the ball goes but trying to do all of that stuff better than anybody. I mean you are going to hit it in the rough here. It just happens because the fairways are so narrow. But tomorrow I'm going to try and do all of that really well and just keep going.

Q: Cristie, what, if anything, are you going to work on this afternoon once it stops raining?

CRISTIE KERR: I don't know if it will stop raining. I just got to work a little bit. Sometimes I get a little far away from the ball and the club gets going a little inside and the face gets a little bit open at the top. As a result, like it gets too far going through so I'm just going to try to work on some plain stuff. I hit it awesome yesterday after the round when I practiced. I just got to keep working on it.

Q: What happened on the second shot on 10 there when you hit the tree in the back swing?

CRISTIE KERR: It just scared me. It just scared me. Nothing came down, no branches. It might have been a penalty. It just scared me.

Q: So you choked up on the club more?
CRISTIE KERR: Yes, which I needed to have the full club to be able to get it up by the green.

Q: Did you consider switching clubs?
CRISTIE KERR: No, I probably should have in that situation.

Q: Through 54 holes how does this course compare with the other LPGA championship courses you have played?
CRISTIE KERR: It's playing tough. I'm having an exceptional performance so far. The rest of the field is about where I thought everybody would be, including myself. I'm happy I'm way ahead, and I am hoping to go further ahead. I can't get ahead of myself. I have to have some wine tonight, get a good night's sleep and get out here and play golf tomorrow.

Q: New York State wine?
CRISTIE KERR: I'm experimenting with New York State wine, Finger Lakes. They make good ice wine.

Q: Did you bring some of your own wine with you?
CRISTIE KERR: I actually think we have our 2009 vintage in sample bottles in the room because we are blending for that. I don't think I'm going to mess with that tonight.

Q: Cristie, before you tee off or putt do you have any particular rituals or superstitions that you have?
CRISTIE KERR: No, I did away with those a long time ago because they don't help you. Thank you.


MODERATOR: Mika Miyazato, 5‑under‑par, tied for second right now. I'm sure you are a little disappointed with the last hole. Can you talk about your round today?
MIKA MIYAZATO (VIA INTERPRETER): The last double that I had on the hole 18 was a little bit a disappointment, but I was able to keep my par save throughout the day, so she is very happy about that.

Q: Can you just talk about the size of the lead that Cristie has, do you think you can still have a chance to win?
MIKA MIYAZATO (VIA INTERPRETER): Although Cristie has an eight point lead ahead of me, that if I keep my patience and endure to the last hole, then I am going to be able to catch up.

Q: Can you talk about what's turned around for you this week? This is by far your best tournament so far this year.
MIKA MIYAZATO (VIA INTERPRETER): I was able to have finished last year a fourth and tie for fourth and also this week is a Major so I think I'm going to perform my best.

Q: How common is a last name Miyazato in Japan?

Q: How many Miyazatos are there in Japan?
MIKA MIYAZATO: Only Okinawa, a small island.

Q: One question for you, the last Japanese player to win a Major was Hisuko(Chako) Higuchi. How important is it for Japan for another Japanese player to win an LPGA major?
MIKA MIYAZATO (VIA INTERPRETER): Higuchi was the last person to win this Major. I would like to also do the same, but it's not that easy to do. So it's going to be very difficult, but I am going to do her best.

MODERATOR: Who did you watch growing up playing golf, who were your idols?


MODERATOR: We are here with Azahara Munoz, can you talk a little bit about your round?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Thank you. Well, first of all, I want to thank Wegmans for hosting the tournament. We really appreciate it. Well, I played much better than yesterday. I hit a lot of fairways except for the last two. So my game was easy. I didn't make as many putts as yesterday but overall I played really well.
MODERATOR: Are you aware the last two LPGA Championship were won by rookies?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Yes I heard that, but Cristie is eight shots ahead. I don't think it's going to be reachable but I will give it a try.

Q: What were your expectations coming into this?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: I never like setting goals for myself, I just want to go out there and have fun. It’s my first Major as a pro. I just want to have a good time.

Q: Are you?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Yes, I'm loving it, yes.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit what it was like to play in this kind of weather today, the last hour and a half here? What does that do to your game? AZAHARA MUNOZ: It wasn't actually that bad. You know, it was never raining so bad that I had to pull my rain jacket or anything. So I don't think it really affected much.

Q: You pretty much realize eight shots is going to be kind of a miracle comeback?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Yes, probably.

Q: What do you do with it in that situation, you just go out, knowing that she is probably out of reach, how do you keep moving forward?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Every day I go out there I just want to play the best I can today. Tomorrow I'm going to do the same. I'm just going to try to shoot as low as I can go and see what happens.

Q: Have you ever played with Cristie? What is your impression of what she's doing this week?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: She is certainly playing amazing. I want to ask her what's the secret because 13‑under is pretty nice out here. It's playing tough so she is playing great.

Q: Can you tell us about what your goals are as a rookie this season. You are doing really well. You are sniffing at Amanda's heals in the rankings. What are your goals for your first season?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Yes, my goal is to be Rookie‑of‑the‑Year, but it's not something that obsesses me, you know. As I said before, every day I go out there, I just want to play my best and if she plays better than me then congratulations to her.

Q: Given your resume, some of the things that you 've accomplished, how high are your expectations your first full year?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: I don't know. I mean, I said it before, I don't really set goals for myself. I'm playing really well and hopefully I keep it going and that's all I'm thinking about.

Q: Do you have any particular rituals or superstitions that you have?

Q: Nothing you want to tell us?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: No, nothing really, no. I don't have anything.

Q: A broken tee, sometimes I see you take a broken tee?

AZAHARA MUNOZ: Just for the par‑3s.

Q: I didn't know if that was one of those rituals.
AZAHARA MUNOZ: I do that if I hit a good shot with a broken tee then I keep it for the next.

Q: We are a goal obsessive culture, why don't you have any?

AZAHARA MUNOZ: Because I'm from Spain, and we are pretty laid back, just have a good time and that's good enough. I was brought up that way. When I talk to my parents they only care if I'm upset. As long as I am happy, they are happy. That's the way I was brought up.

MODERATOR: Your parents don't play golf, correct?

AZAHARA MUNOZ: No, they don't, I'm the only one in my family.

Q: How did that happen, how did you start?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: They built a driving range in my hometown, I was 7 at the time. And I started going with my two best friends, they are two brothers, so we started going the three of us just for fun, and I liked it so I kept playing.

Q: Most rookies, when they first come out, especially if they are not from the United States have a tough time adjusting to life on Tour. You seem to have no problem at all and, you are doing really well. What's your secret? You didn't miss a cut so far this season.
AZAHARA MUNOZ: I played four years in college so I think that helped. I know the language. I don't know a lot of people, but I know pretty much all of the rookies and some of the veterans. I adjust myself very easy. I'm very easy going. So I think that's why.

Q: At the Match Play you did some TV work, did you see it and did it get played over in Spain by any chance and how did you like it?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: It didn't get played over in Spain. I saw a little bit. When I got back to the house I saw the highlights and stuff. I guess I liked it. It's kind of awkward to see yourself on TV but it was good. It was good fun.

MODERATOR: Jimin Kang, great playing today. I read yesterday in the paper that your brother lives here in Rochester. Has that helped you have a successful tournament so far this week?JIMIN KANG: So far it's working. Yes.

Q: Can you talk about your round?
JIMIN KANG: Everybody can tell it's my brother. That's how loud he is and he's got more excitement than all of the players out here. I'm happy about it.

Q: How difficult is the golf course playing?
JIMIN KANG: It's a Major, that's all I can say. If you miss a fairway you got to work your butt off to get out of there. If you miss a green, good luck to you as well.
Q: Do you feel like you can still make your way up the leaderboard and catch Cristie? Is it the type of golf course that you can have a hot round?
JIMIN KANG: I got nothing to lose but 18 holes to go, so that's all I can say.


MODERATOR: We are with Jiyai Shin, 2‑under‑par today, can you talk a little bit about your round?
JIYAI SHIN: Thank you for coming in. Well, I played 4‑under, it was not bad. Actually this week my drive shot was inconsistent on some holes because I missed a few holes, fairways. I really played hard. But putting was good today, too. Today and yesterday I didn't miss a short putt. A few holes I made good save. I think last week I didn't practice so my shot is inconsistent.

MODERATOR: You won on this golf course last year with a 17‑under score. How much more difficult is the golf course this year?

JIYAI SHIN: Well, it changes distance, but it's a lot. Like the first hole, today I hit 23 degree hybrid. Last year I hit pitching wedge. So it's hard to over shape the shot to the pin. Around the green the rough is tough. So, we have to keep on green. It's really long. It's really hard to play.

Q: Hey Jiyai, I have had an appendectomy. It took me a month to walk upright. How are you feeling and how are you playing as well as you are two weeks after that surgery?
JIYAI SHIN: Actually this is my first time after Match Play. I missed the tournament about one month, only for two weeks, I missed the tournament one month. It was really hard to focus for tournament. I can't read the green, hard to read green. If I made bogey, oh, it's okay. Well, I feel so easy. A little focus for tournament. I feel it's getting better.
Q: You don't have very high expectations for yourself this week?
JIYAI SHIN: Yes, just a little bit. But first round was really, just like a new tournament. But up to first round I get a little bit feeling, getting better.

Q: How are you physically feeling? Do you hurt?
JIYAI SHIN: Well, after surgery I took off one week. But I don't know. I feel a little bit tired walking 18 holes. I'm really tired.

Q: But swinging a club doesn't hurt your incision or anything?
JIYAI SHIN: My stomach still hurts a little bit. So it's hard to get the focus because of my stomach.

Q: Have you lost a little distance, can you not swing all the way through?

JIYAI SHIN: Yes, I lost about 5, 7 yards.

Q: Did you find yourself watching the scoreboard to see what Cristie Kerr was doing? Is it frustrating to see how far ahead she is getting?
JIYAI SHIN: Well, she plays so easy. She doesn't make bogey. It's really good thing. This course, this year, really tough to play. But she made lots of birdies. She didn't make bogey. It's amazing, I think.

Q: Jiyai, I know your goal is to get back on top of the world rankings, but how worried are you that Cristie might leap both of you and get there if she wins this tournament?
JIYAI SHIN: Well, I think she have a good chance for tomorrow. But we still close to be No. 1. We have a big tournament after this. So I think I just do my best every week is the best thing.

Q: Jiyai, when you were number one after Mexico, I'm just curious what the reaction was like in Korea and how much pressure you felt while you were No. 1 and how that may have affected you?

JIYAI SHIN: Yes, of course, I'm all the time dreaming of being No. 1. I was there. I'm really excited to be there, but really pressure because Korea media, like here, everybody say, oh, you have to keep going, keep going. They push to me. So it was good pressure.

Q: Do you think The Tour needs a dominant player? Do you think that's important for the Tour?

JIYAI SHIN: I'm not sure because we have less events. Well, we have good play on major tournaments, but we have good play on other tournaments, too. I should try consistent play every tournament.

Well, I think we need it, on LPGA Tour, but we have lots of good players, not only one. It should be a few is a good thing.

Q: Jiyai, what do you think of Cristie Kerr's game? Tell us about what you think of her game.
JIYAI SHIN: I think her putting is perfect. She play on green, so much easy. It looks like so easy and that also she very good iron shots too. She is real strong and she is strong minded too.

Topics: Notes and Interviews, KPMG Women's PGA Championship

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