Safeway Classic -- Second-round notes and interviews

Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola

Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, Ghost Creek Course
North Plains, Ore.
Second-round notes and interviews
August 21, 2010

Ai Miyazato again leads after two rounds of the Safeway Classic presented by Coca-Cola at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club’s Ghost Creek course outside Portland. Miyazato, a four-time winner this year and No. 2 in the Rolex Rankings, fired a 5-under 67 that, paired with her first round 66, gave her a three-shot lead over Song-Hee Kim and Na Yeon Choi. Rolex Rankings No. 1 Cristie Kerr and No. 3 Jiyai Shin are four back at 7-under. With a win, any one of the top five in the Rolex Rankings could be No. 1 Monday.

Miyazato’s only stumble came with back-to-back bogeys on 11 and 12, her first of the tournament. However, the bogey on 12 might have given her more momentum than any of her seven birdies. After catching her third out of the bunker too clean and hitting it long, she left the resulting par pitch short and was staring a big number in the face when she holed the bogey chip. “It was really lucky I think,“ she said. “It gave me a much better feeling after that.” She made two more birdies on 15 and 16 coming in to increase her 36-hole cushion.

Inkster disqualified: Juli Inkster was disqualified on Saturday for violating Rule 14-3/10, Use of a Training or Swing Aid During Round, which states that a player may not make a stroke or practice swing using a club with a weighted headcover or “donut” on it, or use any other device designed as a training or swing aid. Inkster was deemed to have used a weighted device while making practice swings on the 10th tee. "I had a 30-minute wait and I needed to loosen up. It had no effect on my game whatsoever, but it is what it is. I'm very disappointed,” Inkster said.

Sue Witters, LPGA Director of Tournament Competition, said, “There was no malice. Her sole reason for doing it was because she had been waiting for 30 minutes and to warm up. The rules staff here all knew the decision and the rule and took it one step further, called the USGA, because that's a penalty that you never want to give anyone if it's not deserved. And we would have loved to have had some wiggle room on that, but it's pretty cut and dry… but being the professional Juli is, there wasn't much to say once the decision was read.”

The race remains white hot:
The top-three players in the Rolex Rankings are all within four shots of the lead, with one of them, Miyazato (No. 2), leading, and Kerr (No. 1) and Shin (No. 3) four back. Any one of them could take over the top spot Monday. No. 4 Suzann Pettersen is at 5-under after a 68 Saturday, and No. 5 Yani Tseng made the cut on the number at 3-over.

Said Kerr, No. 1:
“I'm not thinking about it too much. I made golf again my focus and my priority, and I can only play the best that I can play. You know, I think everybody knows that I know what I'm capable of, and I think that I'm just going to go out there and execute shots and not get caught up in all that stuff because the results will take care of themselves.”

Said Shin, No. 3:
“No. 1 is very important to me, but first, I want to enjoy my life, and No. 1 is second. I’m just happy with the chance to play for No. 1, because I’m still surprised that I’m so close to being No. 1 in the world.”

Top Five are all Top Ten: In addition to Kerr, Miyazato and Shin, Song-Hee Kim and Na Yeon Choi round out the top five through 36 holes of the Safeway Classic – all five are in the top 10 in the Rolex Rankings. Choi’s No. 6, and Kim’s No. 10.

No more ‘putts’n around: All it took was a mere putter switch, and Song-Hee Kim found her touch again. After a disappointing Even-par 72 Friday that featured 34 total putts (three three-putts), Kim, who’s finished in the top 10 an astounding 17 of her last 22 events, switched putters and the new one “worked really well today,” she laughed. Kim needed just 23 putts Saturday as she fired a bogey-free, 8-under 64 (33-31) to get to 8-under total and finish three back in a tie for second. She was just 2-under through her first seven holes, then played the three straight par-5s (8-10) in 4-under, chipping in for eagle from 40 feet on the 10th. She cooled again until closing with birdies on 15 and 17. The 8-under 64 matches the course-record first-round score of Beth Bader in last year’s event, the first edition at Pumpkin Ridge’s Ghost Creek course.

There’s a first time for everything:
Even though she’s had 17 top-10s in her last 22 events – including 10 in a row – she’s still trying to break through as a Rolex First-Time Winner. Most of her stumbles have come on Sunday, something she has a simple formula to fix: “Focus on my golf and play my own game,” she said.

A HOT summer: Na Yeon Choi, just three back entering Sunday, has had a pretty impressive summer. Dating back to her 4th of July playoff win at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic presented by Kroger, she hasn’t finished worse than third, going 1-T2-T2-T3 during that time.

Ji Young “Oh MY!” Out in the second group on a brisk, benign morning, Ji Young Oh took advantage, firing a 30-34=64 to tie the course record at Pumpkin Ridge’s Ghost Creek course, matching Beth Bader and Song-Hee Kim, whose 64 came about an hour later. After parring her first two holes, she made four straight birdies on holes three-six, parred the seventh, eagled the eighth and two-putted for birdie on the ninth to turn in 7-under 30. After an awkward lie led to a bogey on the par-5 10th, she bounced back with a birdie on 12, a chip-in birdie on 13 and a 5-footer for birdie on 15 to get to 9-under for the day. A bogey on the tough closing par-4 added up to a 64, her best round on the LPGA by one shot. Ten shots better than her first round, the 64 moved her from a tie for 61st at the beginning of the day to a tie for sixth at the end of the day.

30 is perrtty! In addition to tying the course record, Oh’s outgoing 30 tied the low nine-hole score in the two years at Pumpkin Ridge. However, the two previous 30s – Bader and M.J. Hur, both last year – came on the back nine, a par 35, making Oh’s front nine Saturday the lowest nine-hole score in relation to par at Pumpkin Ridge.

Low rookie: Alison Walshe, playing in her third event of the season, is the low rookie entering the final round of the Safeway Classic presented by Coca-Cola. She is currently tied for 17th at 3-under-par 141.

Of note: Eun-Hee Ji made a hole-in-one on the 137-yard 16th with a 9-iron. It’s the second of the tournament, both of them coming at the 16th. Ji finished the day tied for sixth at 6-under… Former Oregon Duck Cathryn Bristow, a native of New Zealand, shot a 2-over 74 to sit at 2-over overall… Depending champion M.J. Hur shot a second-consecutive 2-over 74 to finish 4-over and miss the cut… Monday qualifier Amy Simanton, who graduated from nearby Lake Oswego High School in 2009, finished 8-over to miss the cut.

WD: Shi Hyun Ahn withdrew after the first round.

DQ: In addition to Inkster, Michelle Ellis was disqualified after the first round for signing an incorrect scorecard.

AI MIYAZATO, Rolex Rankings No. 2

Q So, Ai, welcome back. Good playing today.

AI MIYAZATO: Thank you.

Q So you made a lot of birdies out there, but I think the shot that everyone is talking about is the bogey. Tell us about the chip-in and what does that do for you mentally?

AI MIYAZATO: That was No. 12. I missed the bunker shot, my third shot, and it went over the green. And then I did make it to the green on the first shot. Then it was like maybe eight yards or something, my bogey chip. So it went in, and it was really lucky I think. It makes me a much better feeling after that.

Q How did you find the course today as opposed to yesterday?
AI MIYAZATO: Well, it wasn't any big difference, but it's kind of little breezy the last few holes, but nothing changed my strategy, just the same.

Q And, No. 12, your bunker shot, did you spray the ball, hit the ball first?

AI MIYAZATO: No. It was almost like no sand. I thought there would be more sand in the bunker, but then it was a bit less than I thought it was kind of too clean, because I thought that there was more sand underneath, but it was thinner than I thought, the sand.

Q You seem very calm out there. Where does that calmness come from on the course?

AI MIYAZATO: Well, it's not very easy to explain, but to say it simply, I just try to take it one shot at a time and I think I did really well controlling myself in between shots as well.

Q Do you watch the scoreboard when you play?
AI MIYAZATO: Yeah, I do.

Q Did you realize a couple times you were tied?

AI MIYAZATO: Uh-huh.

Q And does that affect you? How do you react when you see that?

AI MIYAZATO: Well, I just look at the scoreboard as information, and so, you know, I don't do anything special, I just look at it.

Q What about tomorrow, do you feel like you have to keep trying to be aggressive and trying to make birdies?

AI MIYAZATO: Well, I don't have to, but I just don't want to force it, just, you know, let it happen and see what's going to happen as well. But then I do like same thing, just trying to hit fairways and greens, and trying to be like really calm and control myself. So that's it.

Q You've had a couple of weeks off. Did you do anything to prepare for this specific tournament and when you came in, did you anticipate being able to do well?
AI MIYAZATO: I was in Japan the last couple weeks, and especially last week, I played in a tournament, and I got really good feeling from last week. So when I get into this week, I thought maybe I can play good this week. But then I try to be like no expectation because if it's like the higher my expectation gets the harder it gets for me to control myself. So I did have a good feeling but these are some of the things I try to focus us on.

Q You finished what last week in Japan, fourth?
AI MIYAZATO: Fourth.

FLASH QUOTES FROM SONG-HEE KIM, Rolex Rankings No. 10

The first thing is that the weather was perfect, and the conditions were pretty good too.

My putting was better today. I changed putters after yesterday – I had three three-putts. It worked really well today (laughs).

On her eagle on the par-5 10th: I hit driver in the fairway to 230 yards, hit a 3-wood to the front of the green and chipped in from 40 feet.

On whether moving to the top of the leaderboard made her nervous: I’ve been there a lot of times, so I wasn’t nervous today.

On what she has to shoot to win tomorrow: I’m not sure. It depends on the weather. If I shoot lower, I’ll probably win (laughs).

On what she has to do tomorrow to finally break through and win:
Focus on my golf and play my own game. That’s important on Sunday.

NA YEON CHOI, Rolex Rankings No. 6

Q So, Na Yeon Choi, good round today. You finished 8 under, three back. Just tell us a little bit about the round today and what you've got to do tomorrow to catch Ai?

NA YEON CHOI: I had a great round today, and actually I enjoyed my group today. And I feel good about my game lately, and I have confidence. And then I think just three strokes behind Ai, right? So just keep same thing, nothing change, and then play aggressive tomorrow. And I will do my best.

Q How do you like this course with the five par 5s and lots of birdie opportunities?
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah, I like the course because I can get a lot the birdies, but I can remember last year. I couldn't get a lot of birdie last year. I think I finished 40 or 50-something. So, you know, I want to be better than last year.

Q And, today, what was the best part of the round today?

NA YEON CHOI: Well, just, I got 5-under par, and then I got eagle on No. 9 with just straight putt, but not like easy putt, but it was good focus and then was good hit.

Q How far was the putt?
NA YEON CHOI: Four yards, so 12 feet.

Q So, tomorrow, you know, you look at 11 under is ahead right now. What do you think the winning score might be?
NA YEON CHOI: Well, actually, I want to win, but the score doesn't matter, I just play my game and just play with a passion and have with fun. Yeah, I will do my best.

Q Would you rather be in the same group as Ai?
NA YEON CHOI: I think -- I've never played with Ai before, so I would like to play with her. First time I think is tomorrow. Should be fun.

JIYAI SHIN, Rolex Rankings No. 3

Q: How did you feel about your round today?
JIYAI SHIN: I played with Juli and Na Yeon Choi. When I got to the first tee, I was very happy because the pairing was so good. I played very well today. I made two bogeys, but I made six birdies. I have a really good feeling at the moment. Yesterday and also today, I made so many mistakes, but that’s golf, so I’m happy.

Q: What do you think you have to do tomorrow to catch Ai?
JIYAI SHIN: Her play is so great, but all the time, I focus on my game. Tomorrow, I think I still have a chance to win. I’m really happy to play against great players because it’s more challenging. I think tomorrow will be fun.

Q: How much is getting back to Rolex Rankings No. 1 on your mind?
JIYAI SHIN: It’s five or six players, so close, and we change every week. No. 1 is very important to me, but first, I want to enjoy my life, and No. 1 is second. I’m just happy with the chance to play for No. 1, because I’m still surprised that I’m so close to being No. 1 in the world.

CRISTIE KERR, Rolex Rankings No. 1

Q So, 7-under par. The first question is, does Ai have to come back or can you guys run her down tomorrow?
CRISTIE KERR: It would help if she came back and then it would take I think a very, very low round on my part to catch her, because you have to assume, I mean, she shot 6-under, 5-under. You know, she's playing some of best golf of her career so far, and, you can shoot low scores on this course. So, you know, Sunday is a different day, we'll just have to go out there and kind of hopeful I can have the same kind of front I had today and then it's game on.

Q The number one spot, how much is that on your mind when you're out there and maybe even tonight or tomorrow morning?
CRISTIE KERR: I'm not thinking about it too much. I mean, I made golf again my focus and my priority, and, you know, I can only play the best that I can play. You know, I think everybody knows that I know what I'm capable of, and I think that I'm just going to go out there and execute shots and not get caught up in all that stuff because the results will take care of themselves. And, you know, I went out there and played well today. I was a little mentally tired kind of maybe on the back, and I grinded through it had a great finish. So, you know, tomorrow's a different day. And Sunday, you know, she has been playing great but there's still a lot of players between me and her, so I have to take care of my own job.

Q You scored better today. Were you playing, hitting the ball better, just making putts compared to yesterday?

CRISTIE KERR: I was hitting the ball a little bit better, and I've been putting well all week. So I hit a little bit closer today and took advantage of the par 5s, you know, on 8, 9, and 10, and unfortunately made a bad swing on 11 and hit it in the water, but I made a great up and down for a bogey. So it kind of kept me in there. And, you know, I got a little mentally tired in the middle of my round and was able to kind of fight to get back in the right mental state for the rest of the round and birdied two out of my last four holes.

Q The mental tiredness, does that necessarily come from being No. 1 and all that?

CRISTIE KERR: No, not really. I mean, it's just, you know, 1:00 rounds and threesomes, it takes, you know, almost five and a half hours to play, and it just become a very long day at that point. You know, morning rounds, I don't think people tend to get a little -- don't get as worn out in the morning rounds. It's also not January, it's September.

Q When you say low number, are you talking 64s, that kind of number?
CRISTIE KERR: Yes. Anything under 67 is pretty low.

Q And do you, on a day like tomorrow, will you go out and try to be super aggressive or do you just sort of play your normal game?
CRISTIE KERR: I have to stick to my normal game and then you might get a little more aggressive. Depends on the numbers you have, like on your irons into the holes sometimes, you get a lot of in-between numbers, sometimes you don't. And, you know, if you have perfect clubs like I had on the last hole you have to take advantage of that, and you just have to kind of see how the ebb and flow goes. I mean, obviously I want to get off to a good start and then get into a rhythm and a flow and helpfully get rolling and rock.

Q You must have played with Ai a few times. So what do you think of her game?
CRISTIE KERR: She's very consistent. She can be long at times. Not overly long, but great short game, great putter. Doesn't make usually a whole lot of mistakes, recently anyways.

JI YOUNG OH, Rolex Rankings No. 74

Q Let's talk about your round. Obviously 8-under par today. Great day.
JI YOUNG OH: Yeah. Today was really good day for me. An 8-under par, I think it's best I’ve played this year. Today's really good. I have good shot, and I have a good putter. Everything is good. So I just played good, good score; everything is good.

Q What about 18 there, what happened?
JI YOUNG OH: I hit the tee shot a little bit faster. I think it was the time, (playing) a little slow. So my tempo was a little bit faster, so I just missed the driver left. But it was a good save, the bogey, so it was a good finish.

Q So, you guys were on the clock today?

JI YOUNG OH: Just 18th hole.

Q Okay. Were you getting nervous at the end, the last couple holes?

JI YOUNG OH: No. I was really calm today. I was really comfortable today.

Q Well, did you think before that round started that the conditions were good, that maybe there would be low scores?
JI YOUNG OH: Yeah. In the morning, it was a little bit chilly, but I think it was good for me. No wind. Good weather today. I’m lucky.

Q Did you play late yesterday?

JI YOUNG OH: No. I tee off like 12:31.

Q Was the course a little softer in the morning?

JI YOUNG OH: Not soft yesterday. Today's more soft. Yeah, a little bit wet.

Q So that helped a little bit?
JI YOUNG OH: Yeah, little bit of help.

Q Did something click for you this week, because, like, you haven't had a great year. What happened this week?
JI YOUNG OH: Yeah, I changed something a little bit last winter time, little bit different, mind little bit different. But my feeling and my tempo, I found it now.

Q So you changed something but you've gone back?

JI YOUNG OH: Yeah, I go back.

Q To kind of more like a few years ago when you were winning?
JI YOUNG OH: Yeah, more comfortable now.

FLASH QUOTE FROM JULI INKSTER

"I had a 30 minute wait and I needed to loosen up. It had no effect on my game whatsoever, but it is what it is. I'm very disappointed."

SUE WITTERS, LPGA DIRECTOR OF TOURNAMENT COMPETITIONS

Q Sue, thanks for joining us. Start with summarizing the rule.
SUE WITTERS: OK. An e-mail was forwarded to us from the tournament staff here, an e-mail where somebody viewing the telecast claimed that they had seen Juli put what appeared to be a weighted device on her club on the 10th tee. We became aware of this when she was probably on the 17th hole. Of course, red flags go up because that's a problem. We went down to TV to view it, and it was indeed a weighted device on, I believe, it was a 9-iron she had. Under Rule 14-3, you're not allowed to use artificial devices during a round. And to further spell it out, it is Decision 14-3/10, pretty much states what she did. And I'll read it to you. "During a round, may a player make a stroke or a practice swing using a club with a weighted headcover or ‘donut’ on it, or use any other device designed as a training or swing aid? No. The player would be using an artificial device to assist them in play in breach of Rule 14-3.” And, unfortunately, the penalty for that under 14-3 is disqualification.

Q Who informed Inkster and how did that process go?

SUE WITTERS: Myself and Marty Robinson. She came off the green. We met her in the tunnel and just said, ‘Juli, did you put something on your club on that 10th hole?’ And she said ‘Yes, I did. I put a little weighted device to help me warm up.’ And they had apparently a 30-minute wait, and she at that time didn't realize that there was a problem. I mean, she was purely using it to warm up after a long wait. So she was a bit surprised at the decision.

Q And how would you describe her reaction when she was informed?

SUE WITTERS: Totally surprised. I mean, there was no malice there. Her sole reason for doing it was because she had been waiting for 30 minutes and to warm up. And the rules staff here all knew the decision and the rule, and, you know, took it one step further, called the USGA, because that's a penalty that you never want to give anyone if it's not deserved. And we would have loved to have had some wiggle room on that, but it's pretty cut and dry. But she wouldn't have done it obviously and was surprised. But being the professional Juli is, there wasn't much to say once the decision was read.

Q This was a case of a viewer saw it on TV and e-mailed the tournament staff?

SUE WITTERS: Yes.

Q It wasn't somebody employed by --
SUE WITTERS: No. No. It was somebody watching TV and caught it. They were right on it. It was the right call. It was somebody with rules knowledge I would say because they went and said the decision as well. So, they knew what they were viewing.

Q What kind of look on TV did you get? Did you see her several times?
SUE WITTERS: Yeah. A couple times.

Q Just practice?

SUE WITTERS: Yeah. It's right after her interview with Stephanie Sparks. She goes up on the tee and – I didn't see her put it on, but you see her swing with it a couple of times. And then you see her walk over and take if off. And they showed us. (Inkster and her caddie) said it's a weighted device. There really wasn't a lot to discuss. They didn't hold back, they told us exactly what they did, and we told them unfortunately how the decision read. And Juli's only question was, well, why didn't you find me sooner seeing how it had been on the 10th hole. And we didn't become aware of it until she was on the 17th hole. So by the time we got the e-mail, went down to TV, viewed it… Any time we get an e-mail or phone call, our first step is to go to TV, because sometimes it's irrelevant and there's no need to bother the player. So if we go to TV and it turns out to be nothing, then it stops right there. But, if it is something, then we take it on to the player and go from there.

Q Do you think this happens very often and you don't see it on TV or it's a player that's not in contention or, I mean --
SUE WITTERS: I would hope not. Could it? Sure. Sure. Any time you're on TV it ups the ante of if something goes wrong, we'll hear about it.

Q The rule you cited is from the Rules of Golf, the USGA rules?
SUE WITTERS: Right.

Q Is it the decisions or --

SUE WITTERS: Well, it's under Rule 14-3, and it's Decision 14-3/10. It's on page 187. It's right out of the decisions book.

Q And it's a straight DQ? I mean, if she had called it on herself, realized, wait a minute, what did I do here --
SUE WITTERS: It was a DQ. If we had found out as she walked off the 10th tee it would have been a DQ. We found out when we did, it was still a DQ.

Topics: Notes and Interviews, Portland Classic

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