Pinnacle Country Club
First-round notes and interviews
September 10, 2010
Rolex Rankings No. 14 Morgan Pressel fired a 5-under 66 to lead after the first round of the P&G NW Arkansas Championship Presented by Walmart at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Ark. Pressel leads by one over Gloria Park, Rolex Rankings No. 5 Yani Tseng and No. 6 Na Yeon Choi. Pressel, whose round included six birdies and one bogey, has been one of the hottest players recently without a win. Despite going winless so far in 2010, Pressel has seven top-10s, including five in her last eight starts. Her best finish is a tie for second at the Evian Masters Presented by Societe Generale.
“I played very solid,” Pressel said. “I didn't miss a lot of shots. I gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities and I got a few of them to go in. I made one bogey, and even that was kind of a silly bogey. I just didn't make any mistakes, didn't put myself in any trouble, which, out here, if you don't put the golf ball in the proper position off the tee, you can get behind trees and have to hit some really crafty shots pretty quickly, but I was lucky and didn't have to do any of that today.”
Master Splinter: Despite carding six birdies for her 5-under 66, Morgan Pressel picked up an unwanted passenger along the way – a splinter in her hand. “It didn't hurt, didn't affect my golf swing, but it was annoying,” Pressel said. “In my putting routine, I put my hand on my left leg and I could feel it every time I did that, and sometimes when I set up to the ball. It's still there. I dug at it, I've seen the paramedics, I've seen the physiotherapist, I've begged for people to go and find tweezers and everything and I still haven't been able to dig for it. I can't see it, that's the problem; I can just feel it.”
Honorary Razorback: Pressel, a native of Boca Raton, Fla., also discovered an unexpected fan base in Northwest Arkansas this week. “On the first tee, just about everybody who's anybody with this tournament with Walmart and Procter & Gamble and the other sponsors, they were all on the first tee cheering for me, which is pretty cool,” she said. “They come out and they watch me play. I've made a lot of really good friends here, and I love coming here. I feel like in Arkansas, of all places, I have a nice little fan base and a place where I'm very welcome.”
Callin’ the Hogs: The local story this week is Rolex Rankings No. 39 Stacy Lewis, a 12-time winner and four-time All-American at the University of Arkansas. Lewis shot a 2-under 69, all 69 shots ardently tracked by Razorback nation. “We had a pretty good following today,” Lewis said. “I guess P&G bused all their employees in. On 17, they got pretty rowdy, and I got a hog call. That was pretty cool. It’s nothing I get anywhere else. The whole state supports the university; once you go to school there, you’re always a Razorback. It’s one of the college cheers that everybody knows what it is. It’s cool when I go all over the world, and I hear it.”
Preferential Placement: Due to a large amount of rain over the past few days, the players were allowed to play preferred lies, i.e. lift, clean and place, which, according to Rolex Rankings No. 5 Yani Tseng (67) was a necessity. “That's a really good thing because we got lots of mud on the ball and when you have mud on the ball, you don't know where the ball is going,” she said.
Yes, Wie Can: Rolex Rankings No. 7 Michelle Wie, who won her second LPGA tournament two weeks ago with her three-shot triumph north of the border at the CN Canadian Women’s Open, kept the mojo flowing with a 3-under 68 that left her in a large group of players two back. However, the long-hitting Wie, who’s ranked second in driving distance, went 1-over on the par-5s. “I missed a lot of putts today,” she said. “It felt like I could have shot a lot better, but I'm happy with my round. Hopefully tomorrow I'll get a lot more birdies. I didn't birdie any of the par-5s today, and I bogeyed one of them, so I definitely need to do better.”
Future Stars: For the first time in an LPGA tournament, participants from various First Tee chapters played alongside LPGA professionals in a best-ball of three team tournament. Ryan Glover, a ninth grader from The First Tee of Dallas, teamed with LPGA Tour professionals Leta Lindley and Wendy Ward. The first day of the competition inspired Glover "to have more goals" for his golf game. When asked about The First Tee he said, "You learn how to play golf and different ways to better your life. The nine core values help me in everyday life. It's not just about golf." Glover will tee it up with Lindley and Ward again tomorrow for round two of the 36-hole event.
Lopez Lovez the LPGA: One of the LPGA's biggest fans, actor and comedian George Lopez spent time in the Golf Channel booth today alongside LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Judy Rankin and Tom Abbott. "This is a great tour with great play. People should watch," said the current host of Lopez Tonight. Lopez, who carries a respectable 10.3 handicap index, is a Twitter follower of LPGA players Christina Kim and Suzann Pettersen.
A Red-Hot Big Apple: Rolex Rankings No. 6 Na Yeon Choi, who’s one back, has been one of the hottest players on the LPGA Tour the last two months. Since missing the cut at the LPGA Championship Presented by Wegmans in June, Choi captured her third LPGA career win at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic Presented by Kroger. She backed up the victory with a tie for second at the U.S. Women's Open, a tie for second at the Evian Masters Presented by Societe Generale, a tie for third at the RICOH Women's British Open and a tie for second at the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola. Choi currently sits third on the official LPGA money list and fourth in the race for Rolex Player of the Year. She ranks first on the Tour in birdies and third in scoring average (70.09).
Rolex Rankings Race for No. 1: Rolex Rankings No. 1 Ai Miyazato made three birdies and three bogeys on her way to an Evan-par 71. No. 2 Cristie Kerr shot a 1-over 72, while No. 3 and defending champion Jiyai Shin matched Miyazato’s 71. No. 4 Suzann Pettersen shot a 3-under 68.
Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Race: Azahara Munoz, who has a commanding 288-point lead in the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race, took home low rookie honors Friday, as she shot a 2-under 69. Her closest pursuer, Amanda Blumenherst, shot a 3-over 74.
Of note: University of Arkansas senior and sponsor exemption Kelli Shean shot a 3-over 74.
MORGAN PRESSEL, Rolex Rankings No. 14
MODERATOR: Morgan, just tell us about the round.
MORGAN PRESSEL: Well, I played very solid. I didn't miss a lot of shots. I gave myself a lot of birdie opportunities and I got a few of them to go in. I made one bogey and even that was kind of a silly bogey. I just didn't make any mistakes, didn't put myself in any trouble, which, you know, out here, if you don't put the golf ball in the proper position off the tee, you can get behind trees and have to hit some really crafty shots pretty quickly, but I was lucky and didn't have to do any of that today.
MODERATOR: We're not going to go through the whole card, but any of the birdies, were they long putts, anything stand out?
MORGAN PRESSEL: You know, the last two were both 2-footers, so I ended with a couple of nice birdies there and, you know, on the front I rolled a few good putts in on 10 and on 14, I think, and 16, so those were three -- three pretty solid putts there, and I had another tap-in on 2.
Q. Hi, Morgan. How are you today? I noticed earlier in the round -- I was following you earlier today -- you had a splinter in your hand. Did that affect anything with your game?
MORGAN PRESSEL: Well, it just -- it kind of -- it just hurt a little bit. It didn't hurt, didn't affect my golf swing, but it was annoying when I -- in my putting routine, I put my hand on my left leg and I could feel it every time I did that, and sometimes when I set up to the ball. It's still there. I dug at it, I've seen the paramedics, I've seen the physiotherapist, I've begged for people to go and find tweezers and everything and I still haven't been able to dig for it. I've still got the little needle in my pocket and I was just texting the physiotherapist to see what I can do. I don't know. I mean, maybe it's a piece of fiberglass, I don't know. I can't see it, that's the problem; I can just feel it.
Q. You've been in this position before and you had a very good round today. How do you follow that up tomorrow and make sure that you stay consistent and not let the lead, you know, kind of get overwhelming?
MORGAN PRESSEL: Well, there's still the afternoon to play so I don't know where I'll be at the end of the day, but I played solid there and I can take -- considering that I haven't played golf in a couple days and wasn't totally sure about my swing yesterday on the driving range, so I was a little nervous going into today and I really hit the ball well. So I can go into tomorrow, you know, knowing if I hit the ball well, I'm going to go practice my putting a little bit because I still missed a couple of short putts and some fairly easy opportunities.
Q. Is it kind of special to you to be in this position? I know you've had a really good relationship with this tournament, you were here for the media day, you've obviously helped get it to where it's at today. Is it a little bit more special for you to be in the position that you are considering what tournament it is?
MORGAN PRESSEL: Absolutely. I mean, on the first tee, just about everybody who's anybody with this tournament with Wal-Mart and Procter & Gamble and the other sponsors, they were all on the first tee cheering for me, which is -- it's pretty cool. And they come out and they watch me play and I've made a lot of really good friends here and I love coming here and I just -- I feel like in Arkansas, of all places, I have a nice little fan base and a place where I'm very welcome.
GLORIA PARK, ROLEX RANKINGS No. 361
Q. Talk a little bit about how it went out there.
GLORIA PARK: Today because we had bad weather yesterday, I just only seen the course once. I played nine holes Monday and nine holes Tuesday, and I was pretty sure I needed to hit the fairways and greens to make sure I have a chance to play good and it worked pretty good today. I started really a couple of -- put it in the rough a couple times. I had a good break coming out and made some birdies. I played really good on the back nine, too.
Q. How were the course conditions?
GLORIA PARK: Compared to first year, we had really bad like rain a lot. It wasn't too bad actually, but greens were kind of soft when we were walking the green, like so we had a lot of footprints. Front nine was really great, it was just one group ahead of us. Back nine had a couple of hits that bounced somewhere, but hopefully it dries out a little bit more tomorrow so I can putt good like today.
Q. Was it good to have preferred lies, to lift, clean and place?
GLORIA PARK: Of course. I had some on the fairway that were so wet and I had lot of mud on the golf ball. If you don't have those, I would be hitting all over the place.
YANI TSENG, Rolex Rankings No. 5
MODERATOR: Four under, 67 today. Just talk a little bit about the round.
YANI TSESNG: Yeah, you know, I stayed really patient today, especially on the front nine, miss a lot of putts. I had a really good birdie chance on the front nine, even back nine, hitting great shots today. I gave myself a good chance to make birdie every hole. I hung in there and be very patient, finished 4 under. I think it's very good, I'm very happy with today.
Q. The 18th hole, on 18, to set up your birdie, you reached, I guess, the front of the green in two. What was your second shot? How far was that?
YANI TSESNG: It was like 233 over the bunker into wind. I think I killed that shot. I was hitting straight wood and it was like 245 into wind, so I hit a great shot there. I just couldn't see my ball so my caddie said my ball was just running back to front edge and I made a good two putt there.
Q. You hit 3 wood?
YANI TSESNG: Yeah, it was a 3 wood.
Q. Was your game plan, I guess, to be patient the first round? Is that how you played?
YANI TSESNG: Yeah, the patience always my strategy for like my whole life, you know. Like last two tournament I didn't play well, so I've been working very hard with my putting and my iron, and I hit them very good today and I'm just going to keep working on putting and just keep simple all the time and just be myself and having fun.
Q. Just talk about how the field is really talented this year. Was that in your mindset that you needed to post a good score early because there's so many good players this week?
YANI TSESNG: Yeah, like every week is really tough, especially this year, everybody was having a chance, like top 50, top 100, everybody have a chance to win a tournament. You never know and you just need to keep making birdie, and then you cannot wait until like the other player miss; just need to make birdie to have the lower score to gain the position that you can win a tournament and you just need to keep going. If you just stop there, everybody's going to pass you so soon.
Q. Can you talk just a little bit about the conditions of the course after all the rain? It was good weather today, but the rain the previous day.
YANI TSESNG: It was perfect weather today, I'm very happy. I wish it would be like this all week. I played here last year and it was raining too, and the course was very soft today, so lots of shots were kind of just straight to the pin, and the green was a little bumpy because the green was very soft. But you know, just like I say, stay patient, just make a good stroke and just let it go.
Q. Did lift, clean and place help?
YANI TSESNG: Yeah, that's a really good thing because we got lots of mud on the ball and you don't know -- when you have mud on the ball, you don't know where the ball is going, so it was really good. We have like preferred lie today, one club length, so the angle sometimes you can just make a little different, so it's good things.
MICHELLE WIE, Rolex Rankings No. 7
Q. All right. How did it feel stepping up to that first tee box this morning?
MICHELLE WIE: It was nice and cool this morning. It got progressively hotter as the day went on, but it's a lot of fun today.
Q. What do you like about Northwest Arkansas?
MICHELLE WIE: You know, the people are really just so welcoming here. They really like the Razorbacks, everywhere I go. It just feels good that people, you know, come together and support something, and good food down here.
Q. Just talk a little bit about your round. Looks like you're one off the leader.
MICHELLE WIE: I missed a lot of putts today. It felt like I could have shot a lot better, but you know, I'm happy with my round. Hopefully tomorrow I'll get a lot more birdies.
Q. Do you think -- yeah, the last hole, 18, the distance off the tee. Do you think that's a hole you can birdie the next two days?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I didn't birdie any of the par 5s today and I bogeyed one of them, so I definitely need to do better.
STACY LEWIS, Rolex Rankings No. 39
Q. Talk about the round today, a 2-under 69.
STACY LEWIS: I didn’t hit the ball that well, so I’m actually pretty happy with the score. I made some putts early on that kind of kept me in it. I didn’t finish as well as I would have liked, but overall, it’s a good day. It’s always kind of nerve-wracking for me to play here because everyone wants you to do well, and I put more pressure on myself. So overall, I’m pretty happy with it.
Q. How was your gallery out there?
STACY LEWIS: We had a pretty good following today. I guess P&G bused all their employees in. On 17, they got pretty rowdy, and I got a hog call. That was pretty cool. It’s nothing I get anywhere else. The whole state supports the university; once you go to school there, you’re always a Razorback. It’s one of the college cheers that everybody knows what it is. It’s cool when I go all over the world, and I hear it.
Q. Were you surprised that you got it, or were you surprised that it took until the 17th to get it?
STACY LEWIS: They kind of warned me that it was coming, so I prepared everybody in the group. I said, ‘Seventeen is going to get a little rowdy.’ I think it’s great for the tournament, and I think the more people we can get out here, the better.