Pinnacle Country Club
Second-round notes and interviews
September 11, 2010
Riding the wake of her three-shot win two weeks ago at the CN Canadian Women’s Open, Michelle Wie matched her LPGA-best 64 Saturday to take a three-shot lead into the final round of the P&G NW Arkansas Championship Presented by Walmart at Pinnacle Country Club in Rogers, Ark. Wie, Rolex Rankings No. 7, leads No. 5 Yani Tseng (68), No. 6 Na Yeon Choi (68) and Hall of Famer Juli Inkster (66) by three shots.
“It was a fun round today,” Wie said. “I just went out there, played shot after shot and had fun.”
28! Wie went off on the back, and five birdies and an eagle later, she made the turn in 7-under 28, the lowest nine holes of the year and in the four-year history of the tournament (17th 28 in the history of the LPGA). After holing a 20-footer for birdie on 10, she holed out from 80 yards on 12, made a 3-footer on 14, two more 20-footers on 15 and 16, then hit her second shot on the par-5 18th through a bunker and onto the green, where she rolled in a 35-footer for eagle to get to 7-under. Wie cooled after the turn, mixing two birdies with two bogeys to shoot an Even-par 36. The biggest difference Saturday was on the par-5s. Wie, the LPGA leader in driving distance, played them in 1-over Friday. Saturday? She played them in 5-under.
59? After she got to 8-under on the day with seven holes to play, Wie never let golf’s single-round holy grail – 59 – creep into her mind. “It actually didn’t cross my mind at all,” said Wie, who didn’t realize the possibility until told afterward. “I was just focusing on the next shot and trying to give myself birdie opportunities.”
50-20: Wie will play with Juli Inkster Sunday. That’s a 30-year age gap between the Hall of Famer and 31-time winner, 50, and the long-hitting Hawaiian, 20. “It’ll be ‘Beauty and the Beast,’” Inkster joked. “Michelle’s obviously playing very well and playing with a lot of confidence. I can’t really see her messing up, so you’re going to have to go out there and shoot a round like she shot today.”
Front-Row Seat: Rolex Rankings No. 5 Yani Tseng, one of three players at 7-under chasing Wie, had a front-row seat for the fireworks on Wie’s outward nine, as the two were paired together. “It’s fun to watch,” Tseng said. “You know, we’re just like, ‘Wow, she makes everything.’ She hits lots of great shots, great putts; it was just fun to watch.”
Hot! Hot! Hot! Rolex Rankings No. 6 Na Yeon Choi, also at 7-under and three shots back, has been on fire since missing the first cut of her career back at the LPGA Championship Presented by Wegmans. "I think it was a little motivation, and the Jamie Farr was really good for me,” Choi said. “I had my confidence back." Since then she won once at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic Presented by Kroger and finished in the top-3 four other times – T2 U.S. Women's Open, T2 Evian Masters, T3 RICOH Women's British Open and T2 at the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola. She finished in a tie for 11th at last week's CN Canadian Women's Open.
Home Sweet Home: Choi will try to capture her fourth LPGA victory Sunday but is looking forward to some family time. "After tomorrow, I go to Korea to see Mom and Dad, so I’m happy,” said Choi, who hasn’t seen her parents in a month. “I just play my best tomorrow, and the result doesn’t matter. Play one shot at a time."
The inaugural MARS First Tee Challenge is in the books. Winning the girls division with a two-day total of 18-under was the team of Amberlee Brooks from The First Tee of Nashville, Rolex Rankings No. 1 Ai Miyazato and Brittany Lincicome. Daniel Watkins from The First Tee of NW Arkansas teamed with Juli Inkster and Morgan Pressel to also shoot a team score of 18-under to take home the boys title. In all, 12 First Tee participants, six boys and six girls, played in the 36-hole event alongside LPGA Tour players.
Pinnacle Peak: Seon-Hwa Lee, who was one of two players to fire a 6-under 65 Saturday, has some positive mojo at Pinnacle Country Club – she shot a 15-under 201 to win here in 2008. “I have lots of good memories here,” Lee said. “I just feel really comfortable here when I play this tournament.” In Saturday’s round, she got off to a hot start. Headed out in the morning, she took advantage of windless conditions to make five birdies over a seven-hole stretch to turn in 5-under 31 before bringing it home in 1-under 34.
Turn the Paige: The other 65 Saturday belonged to Paige Mackenzie, who opened with four birdies in her first six holes before closing birdie-birdie to post her bogey-free round, the lowest of her LPGA career. For Mackenzie, Saturday’s round was “a long time coming,” she said. Indeed, 2010 to this point hasn’t quite been what the talented University of Washington product might have expected. In 12 events so far, she’s missed five cuts, and her top finish is a tie for 34th at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Her lowest round to this point was a 68. Three shots better, Saturday’s 65 might be just the ticket to get her season back on track.
A Bright Future: Cindy Lacrosse, who recently earned her way onto the LPGA in 2011 via her Duramed FUTURES Tour money list title, fired a 3-under 68 Saturday to get back to 2-over overall and make the cut on the number. Lacrosse won the final event of the DFT season last week, the Price Chopper Tour Championship, her third win of the year, to set a new single-season money mark, $94,578. She Monday qualified her way into the field this week.
Rolex Rankings Race for No. 1: Rolex Rankings No. 1 Ai Miyazato’s card included six birdies Saturday. Unfortunately, it also included four bogeys. Her 2-under 69 put her at 2-under overall. No. 2 Cristie Kerr shot an Even-par 71 to sit at 1-over. No. 3 and defending champion Jiyai Shin matched Miyazato’s score for the second-straight day, joining her at 2-under overall, along with No. 4 Suzann Pettersen, who struggled to a 1-over 72 Saturday.
Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Race: With her 3-under 68 Saturday, Maria Hernandez leapfrogged Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year leader Azahara Munoz to post as the low rookie (3-under) through 36 holes. Hernandez, the feature of Golf Channel’s Rookie Spotlight this weekend, made four birdies and just one bogey. Munoz, who holds a commanding 288-point lead in the race, shot an Even-par 71 to sit at 2-under. Munoz’s closest pursuer in the race, Amanda Blumenherst, shot 75-77 to miss the cut.
Of Note: Stacy Lewis, 12-time winner, four-time All-American and national champion at the University of Arkansas, shot a second-straight 69 to finish at 4-under…. University of Arkansas senior and sponsor exemption Kelli Shean shot a 2-over 73 to finish at 5-over and miss the cut…. First-round leader Morgan Pressel shot a 1-over 72 to sit 4-under, six back…. Eighty-one players made the cut at 2-over 144…. Tune in to Golf Channel from 3-5 p.m. CDT for final-round coverage, or check out lpga.com, Facebook (www.facebook.com/lpgaofficial) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/lpga).
MICHELLE WIE, Rolex Rankings No. 7
MODERATOR: Birdie on 10?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I hit a 3-wood and then I hit a wedge in there, I don't know which one, and then I made like a 20-footer.
MODERATOR: Okay. Birdie on 12?
MICHELLE WIE: 12, I hit it left in the tree, I chipped out and then I made like an 80-yard shot.
MODERATOR: What was the club on that?
MICHELLE WIE: I hit a 52.
MODERATOR: Okay. 13?
MICHELLE WIE: No, parred. 14, I hit driver and then I hit it a little bit left, so I chipped up with like a lob wedge and I had like a 3-foot putt. 15, I hit a 9-iron and then I had like about a 20-foot putt. 16, I had like a 7-iron in and then I had like a 20-foot putt. And then on 18 I hit a driver and then I hit a 4 hybrid. It actually hit the bunker and then bounced out onto the green and then I made a really long putt.
MODERATOR: Okay. Then just kind of some thoughts on the round today. Good one, certainly.
MICHELLE WIE: It was a fun round today, I have to say. Just went out there and you know, just played shot to shot. Just kind of went out there and had fun.
MODERATOR: Do you let 59 creep in at all? Do you think about that at all?
MICHELLE WIE: Like Jason told me afterwards and he's like, we were kind of starting to think about it. I was like, wait, what? I was like, oh, right. It actually didn't even cross my mind at all. You know, I was just focusing on the next shot, just trying to give myself birdie opportunities.
Q. What was the key to that first -- the front 9, was it just everything was in synch?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, everything just kind of worked out. Just hit some good shots, played smartly on the hard holes, just went out there and kind of everything worked out today.
Q. Was there any difference on the back 9; not that your score was bad on the back 9, but compared to your first 9?
MICHELLE WIE: I got like really hot, like I felt really hot the first couple holes on the back 9 and I was like, I chugged a Powerade and Vitamin Water after that and just kind of felt better. But you know, it's like whatever. I had a couple bogeys here and there, but still felt pretty good.
Q. Just to repeat, you said you holed out from about 80 yards on 12. Was that from a bunker or just from --
MICHELLE WIE: No, from the fairway.
Q. And then on 18 you said -- I mean, did the ball actually go in the bunker and kind of skip through?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah.
YANI TSENG, Rolex Rankings No. 5
MODERATOR: 7-under overall. I guess the first question is, talk a little bit about today but also looking forward to tomorrow, what do you think you got to do to chase down Michelle?
YANI TSENG: Yes, another solid run for me today, sure, but I miss lots of putts but I make some today. So sure very happy to finish with 7-under. I think I’m three shots back. So one more days to go and she played awesome today. She was like 7-under the front nine. And then I told my caddie, “Oh, she took all my birdies. She played everything. So we need to catch up with her on the back nine.” So I play 3-under on the back nine. So she was pretty good and I’m really looking forward for tomorrow.
MODERATOR: Does watching what she does, what she did out there, does that kind of spur you on? Is it easier to play better when you’re playing with somebody who’s going low?
YANI TSENG: No. It’s fun to watch. You know, we’re just, “Wow , she make everything.” She hits lots of great shots, great putt, and just fun to watch. She didn’t put any pressure on me, which is really fun.
Q. When she shot 7-under in the front nine did that make you think, “Wow, I need to start making some birdies or I’m not going to have any chance in the final round”?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I know I need to just make some birdies because I miss so many putts on the front nine, even on the back. I just, I was really just working hard to make all the birdies but I really give myself lots of good chance to make birdies.
Q. You talked about how you like to play patient, but does that change your patience when you see someone make, you know, six birdies and an eagle?
YANI TSENG: No, not really. Just like you say, it was very fun to watch for me to see how she played today. So I just need to play my own game and just play one shot at a time and -- but like on the 11th hole I was really struggling because I missed another short birdie for me. But that’s all, so I feel good.
NA YEON CHOI, Rolex Rankings No. 6
Q. Talk about your round today.
NA YEON CHOI: I’m so happy today because I didn’t have any bogeys. I had perfect play, and I enjoyed my group with a junior. I feel good about my game, swing, putter everything, so I have confidence. After tomorrow, I go to Korea to see Mom and Dad, so I’m happy. I just play my best tomorrow, and the result doesn’t matter. Play one shot at a time.
Q. When’s the last time you saw your parents?
NA YEON CHOI: One month ago.
Q. You’ve had a great stretch since you missed the cut at the LPGA Championship, your first on the LPGA. Did that motivate you?
NA YEON CHOI: I think it was a little motivation, and the Jamie Farr was really good for me. I had my confidence back. I just played one shot at a time. Don’t think about number or score. Just think about my shot, or feeling, and the result is just a good result.
JULI INKSTER, Rolex Rankings No. 75
MODERATOR: Just some comments on the round.
JULI INKSTER: I played really good today, hit a lot of great irons in there, made my putts when I needed to. I just played really consistent.
MODERATOR: Michelle’s three clear of a pretty big group of people at 7-under. What do you think has to happen tomorrow for you guys to get it done tomorrow?
JULI INKSTER: Michelle’s going to have to come back a little bit, and we’re going to have to go forward. She’s obviously playing very well and is playing with a lot of confidence, so I can’t really see her messing up, so you’re going to have to go out there and shoot a round like she shot today.
Q. From the looks of it now, you’re going to be playing with Michelle. What’s it going to be like playing with her? It’s obviously a great story for the Tour and the tournament.
JULI INKSTER: Michelle goes to Stanford, and I play and practice out at Stanford, so we know each other. She’s a (heck) of a player. It’s going to be like ‘Beauty and the Beast’ out there. I don’t have the pretty swing or whatever; I just try to get the ball in the hole. That’s my game. But it’ll be fun. I’ve been playing a lot better lately, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
Q. You talked a little bit about this yesterday, but you were three strokes back last month when you had the DQ. How great is it to be in the exact same spot again?
JULI INKSTER: I was playing really well in Portland, and I really had some good vibes going, and I just felt good about my game. Then that happened, and I couldn’t play, it was frustrating. I played OK in Canada, I didn’t really get much out of my game there. Then this week, I played really solid today; I hit a lot of great iron shots, so it was fun. Hopefully, I can just keep building on my golf game.
PAIGE MACKENZIE, Rolex Rankings No. 153
Q. Paige, 6-under 65, tell us about the round.
PAIGE MACKENZIE: Well, it started out hot. I birdied the first three holes, then I birdied the fifth hole, so I was 4-under through five. After that, it was just coasting. I hit the ball really solid today. It was nice to start on smooth greens this morning, versus the bumps that we finished on last night. I’m just overall really pleased. It was a long time coming.
Q. Yesterday, it was windy in the afternoon. How about this morning?
PAIGE MACKENZIE: There was not a breath of wind for the first 10 holes, maybe 1 or 2 mph after that.
Q. It’s picking up a little bit now. Are you glad to get off the course?
PAIGE MACKENZIE: Right. I’m glad to get off the course for a lot of reasons, but yeah, we had very nice conditions this morning.
Q. Tell me about the approach on the last hole.
PAIGE MACKENZIE: It was 132 yards to the hole, 129 to the top of that ridge, and that’s all that we were looking for. My 9-iron is my 130-yard club. It was just a full 9-iron, and thankfully, we got it close enough to where it was almost a kick-in.
SEON-HWA LEE, Rolex Rankings No. 65
Q. Great round today, 6-under 65. You got it going pretty quick on the front nine there. Tell us about that.
SEON-HWA LEE: I played really solid today. I hit almost every fairway, almost every green. Actually, the front nine, I hit some really good iron shots, which allowed for a lot of easy putts, so I made lots of birdies on the front nine. The back nine was OK. It was a lot more windy than the front nine, so it was a little bit harder to play, but played really solid on the back nine also.
Q. As a past champion here, is there something about this course that you like?
SEON-HWA LEE: I have lots of good memories here. I won a couple of years ago, so I just feel really comfortable here when I play this tournament.
Q. This was the last tournament that you won. Is that something that can kind of get you on a roll?
SEON-HWA LEE: Yeah, that was my last win, two years ago. I feel really good this week, so hopefully I have a good chance to win again.
Q. Can you compare how you felt in 2008 to how you feel here now?
SEON-HWA LEE: When I won here in 2008, the golf course was different, but I still feel really comfortable and have good memories here.