Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic - First-Round Notes and Interviews

Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic Presented by Kroger


Highland Meadows Golf Club
Sylvania, Ohio
First-round notes and interviews
July 1, 2010

NYC hearts Toledo: Na Yeon Choi – who some call “The Big Apple,” given her NYC initials – is the first-round leader at this week’s Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic Presented by Kroger at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio. Her 7-under 64 Thursday that featured eight birdies and a bogey put her one shot ahead of Canadian Alena Sharp and two ahead of Colombia’s Marisa Baena, France’s Karine Icher and American Christina Kim. Choi is No. 11 in the Rolex Rankings.

Cut it out: Until missing the cut at last week’s LPGA Championship Presented by Wegmans (73-76), Choi had made 64 straight cuts, dating back to 2007. As an LPGA professional, she was 63-for-63, something that’s driving her this week. “I missed my first cut on the LPGA Tour last week,” she said. “For me to be able to come back the next week and win the tournament would mean a lot to me, and it would go a long way in terms of building my trust back up.”

Change is good: Choi credits her turnaround this week to a putter change Wednesday. “That’s why I played good,” she said. “The new putter looks great. When I set up, it makes me feel comfortable, and I can trust it.”

Sweet Home Toledo: For Sharp, playing well here is more than just liking the golf course or the town, as many players do. “I have a great family that houses me,” she said. “I’ve been staying with them for five years now. They come out and watch other tournaments. They come to my charity event. It just feels like a second home. It’s easier to play golf when you’re really comfortable.”

Eggs over easy: A good round sometimes takes a little magic, like Sharp got on the fourth hole Thursday. Playing from a plugged lie in the bunker, she holed out for birdie. “I was like, ‘Well, maybe this is my day,’” she recalled. Maybe this is her week.

Oh Canada! Canadian Sharp’s 6-under 65 comes on Canada Day, her home country’s birthday.

Playing hurt and well: Last week, Jiyai Shin returned from an emergency appendectomy on just two weeks’ rest to finish tied for third. Two weeks ago, Sherri Steinhauer, who took 16 months off to have hip surgeries in both hips, was the first-round leader, and Paula Creamer, who was playing her first event in four months after undergoing thumb surgery, played in the final group. Fast forward to this week, and Baena, who’s been playing injured for the last 12 years, is two shots off the lead. Baena, a can’t-miss kid while at the University of Arizona, hurt her left shoulder her junior year, and she said she’s never been the same. However, the right combination of therapy and rest – she’s only played the two majors this year, missing both cuts – has her feeling like she did 12 years ago, for the first time in her career. “My left shoulder is feeling better,” she said. “I told someone, ‘I’m actually starting to hit the ball like I used to in college.’ It’s amazing. I’m kind of going back 12 years.”

Third first pitch of twenty-ten at Fifth Third Field: Brittany Lincicome, who shot a 3-under 68 Thursday, is throwing out the first pitch at Fifth Third Field Friday night for the storied Toledo Mud Hens. This is her third first pitch this season. The other two were at the Tampa Bay Rays and Pittsburgh Pirates games. The natural-born athlete also won a homerun derby held by the Bell Micro LPGA Classic back in May at Hank Aaron Field, home of the AA Mobile (Ala.) Baybears.

A sunny 3-under day: On Wednesday afternoon, Kristy McPherson, Lincicome and Kris Tamulis were among the players who hosted media at the LPGA Mirassou Winery Sun Room Session. Thursday, all three shot 3-under to finish the day T12. The Sessions, held by the LPGA and Mirassou Winery at tournaments, bring media, sponsors and players together in an informal, fun setting. McPherson and Lincicome decided to “open up” the session here in Toledo, inviting fans walking by to join them under the bright yellow Mirassou Winery umbrellas for wine, cheese and crackers. (For photos, please see Matt Paulson at mattp@bzapr.com.)

Rolex Rankings No. 3 Jiyai Shin, the highest-ranked player in the field, fired a 4-under 67 to finish tied for sixth, three back.

Low rookie this week might be a fight to the finish. Five players – Mariajo Uribe, Pernilla Lindberg, Jean Reynolds, Misun Cho and Beatriz Recari – all shot 2-under 69s. It was an LPGA career low for Lindberg and Recari.

Of note… Kristy McPherson holed out for eagle on the 347-yard, par-4 first. She hit a 7-iron from 154 yards.... Louise Friberg did the same on the 389-yard 15th… Defending champion Eunjung Yi shot an Even-par 71, as did 2008 champion and course record-holder Paula Creamer, helped by clutch birdies on two of her last three holes…. Sponsor’s exemption Cindy LaCrosse shot a 1-under 70.

WDs: Marcy Hart.

QUICK QUOTES WITH NA YEON CHOI, ROLEX RANKING: 11

“I had a great round today. I had fun with my group. I had just 26 putts, eight birdies, one bogey. I changed putters yesterday. I like this putter. That’s why I played good. The new putter looks great. When I set up, it makes me feel comfortable, and I can trust the putter.”

“I missed the cut last week. That was for the first time on the LPGA Tour. After that, I feel I need to trust myself more. So I changed putter for good setup and trust.”

On how she’ll approach Friday if she’s in the lead: “Nothing will change. I’ll keep things the same. I need to trust myself more, be patient, because I have three more days left.”

On what a win would mean to her: (Through translator): “As I said, I missed my first cut on the LPGA Tour last week. For me to be able to come back the next week and win the tournament would mean a lot to me, and it would go a long way in terms of building my trust back up. It would mean a lot to me.”

QUICK QUOTES WITH ALENA SHARP, ROLEX RANKING: 122

“First of all, in Toledo, I have a great family that houses me. I’ve been staying with them for five years now. They come out and watch other tournaments. They come to my charity event. It just feels like a second home. It’s easier to play golf when you’re really comfortable. I’ve had good rounds here in the past. I birdied the first hole and just tried to stay calm. I holed out on the fourth hole from the bunker; I had a plugged lie, and I was like, ‘Well, maybe this is my day.’ I just played steady Eddie, made a few birdies on the front, two coming in. And I’m done, it was a nice round. I like playing with Karen Stupples, and it was just the two of us. It was very easy-going, so I wasn’t nervous at all.”

On whether playing in a twosome is an advantage when everyone else is playing in groups of three: “Sometimes you wait more, but we didn’t have to walk fast. We just took our time. It was a nice day. I enjoyed it.”

“I’m trying to get into the Evian Masters, and I need to improve my Rolex Ranking to get into that. I’m probably thirty spots away, so I’m sure a win would help me with that.”

On closing birdie-birdie on eight and nine: “I made a long putt on eight, and I made a nice shot in on nine. I’ve hit a lot of fairways in the last three tournaments. Today, I only missed two. Hitting off the short grass, it’s a lot easier to stop the ball. The greens are a little firm compared to last week. I think I only missed three greens, and the ones I missed I got up and down, so that helps too.”

QUICK QUOTES WITH MARISA BAENA, ROLEX RANKING: 366

I birdied two, made a good putt from like five yards.
I had a really good birdie on five, out of the trees. I hit it about 10, 15 feet. I made the putt.
Then I had a really good long putt on seven, maybe 25 feet.
Then on the (back), I hit it really well. It was maybe a yard on 11.
Then two yards on 14.
Then a tap-in on 18.

“I have actually retired. I just came here because I love the tournament. I’ve been hitting the ball very well. I’m as healthy as I have been in many years because I’ve pretty much almost taken a year off. I just started hitting balls about a month ago, but I was hitting the ball very well. So I’m not surprised that I was able to score well because I love the course so much.”

On why she decided to play this week, despite playing last week and not typically wanting to play two in a row with her injuries: “I told my husband, ‘I cannot not go.’ Any other tournament, I would not be here, but this is always one of my favorites. And because it’s one of my favorites, I came out here with a very good attitude.”

“I’ve been doing quite a bit of therapy, so I came these two weeks to reassess, and see where I am, what I need to do and if the therapy that I’m doing is working. I wasn’t sure if it was working or not. Obviously, it’s working. I’m feeling 100 times better than I was feeling last year. But I’m just not where I want to be for me to come back.”

“I hurt my left scapula my junior year of college, and I just never recovered from it. I struggled with that injury for so many years. Then I had hip surgery in ’07, and the combination of a bad left shoulder with a bad hip, it just got to the point where I couldn’t move. I actually went to the TPI at the beginning of the year, and the guy said you have 40-percent of your mobility. I went back two months later, and he said you’re back to 80-percent.”

“Now, after 12 years, my left shoulder is feeling better, I told someone, ‘I’m actually starting to hit the ball like I used to in college.’ It’s amazing. I’m kind of going back 12 years. This just started a week and a half ago.”

“On my left shoulder, I was able to let it heal and do the therapy, and it worked really well. I’ve been pain-free for a while, but I can tell that by playing, I was very sore yesterday, so obviously by playing, it makes it hurt. So at this point, I know I’m just not ready to play full time. I played hurt for way too many years, and I’m not willing to do that any more.”

“I’m playing probably the best golf of my career right now, but I just want to go home. I want to get healthy. Coming out here is really hard, week in, week out, playing with the other girls. I just cannot do that. I can maybe do that one or two weeks, and I know in my 10th week, I’m going to be back to square one.”

On how she fills her time now that she’s retired: “I’m actually working with the Colombian Federation right now. I have 20 juniors, the best golfers in Colombia from 11-16. I do two sessions with them, and I talk with them every month about their rounds and how can I help them to do better course management.

Topics: Notes and Interviews, Marathon Classic

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