Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship
Sunrise Golf & Country Club
Yang Mei, Taoyuan, Taiwan
Third round notes and interviews
October 22, 2011
Yani Tseng -10, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Anna Nordqvist -8, Rolex Rankings No. 33
Azahara Munoz -7, Rolex Rankings No. 39
Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng shot a five-par 67 on Saturday to take the lead at the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship. Tseng head's into tomorrow's final round with a two-stroke lead over Anna Nordqvist.
Playing in front of a hometown crowd, Tseng recorded seven birdies and two bogeys en route to the round of the day at the windy Sunrise Golf & Country Club.
A victory this week will mark Tseng's seventh LPGA Tour victory and 11th international win this season. The feat will move Tseng into an illustrious category along with Babe Zaharias, Kathy Whitworth, Beth Daniel and Lorena Ochoa who have all notched eight LPGA Tour victories in the same season.
During her three years on the LPGA Tour, Tseng has recorded 11 career LPGA Tour victories including an illustrious five majors. Tseng etched her name in the record books this year when she became the youngest player, both male or female, to win five majors after her victory at the RICOH Women's British Open.
While Tseng has an extensive resume, a win this week in front of her adoring fans would rank amongst the top of her achievements.
"It would be very, very special to win in this tournament tomorrow, because this is the first time and first time so many people is coming to watch us, and I think it just ‑‑ you know, it is my honor," said Tseng. "I can share this honor to all the fans there, and I don't get any people disappointed because I win, and just really happy."
Trailing Tseng by two-strokes heading into tomorrow's final round is Anna Nordqvist who shot a one-under par 71 on Saturday. Nordqvist, who has won twice on the LPGA Tour, recorded a season best tie for fifth at the Shoprite LPGA Classic.
"Yeah, I'm really excited about tomorrow, obviously playing the last group with Aza and Yani, get a little more people," said Nordqvist. It's really exciting. Just every time you put yourself in a position to win, this is what I dream of and practice for, so I really look forward to tomorrow."
Gusting winds… While the players experienced a brief reprieve from the wind on Friday, things were back to normal on Saturday with wind gusts reaching as much as 25 mph.
"I've been really, really patient, and before I go out, the first tee, I told my caddie, "this wind like this, even par is really good score, and I shot five under," said current leader Yani Tseng. "So I was really proud of myself and very happy what I did today and be patient all day."
The wind has plagued players throughout this week's Sunrise LPGA Championship making the already difficult Robert Trent Jones Jr. golf course even the more daunting. The first two rounds have brought only a total of 47 rounds under par out of the 90 player field.
A mere ten players shot under par rounds on Saturday with Yani Tseng recording the best round of the day after a five-under par 67.
Third time's a charm… Amy Yang is still in search of her first career LPGA Tour victory but the South Korean is no stranger to going into the last round near the top of the leaderboard.
Despite faltering down the stretch with a double-bogey on the 17th hole, the South Korean still finds herself only four shots behind current leader Yani Tseng.
At this year's Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, Yang went into the final tied for lead with Yani Tseng but eventually lost in a playoff to the Rolex Rankings No. 1. At last year's LPGA Tour Championship, Yang went into the last day with a one-stroke lead over Maria Hjorth but fired a final-round 74 to finish runner-up.
While Yang has come up short twice, she is no stranger to the winner's circle. As an amateur, Yang won the 2006 ANZ Ladies Masters on the Ladies European Tour (LET) to become the youngest winner ever on the LET at 16 years, 6 months, and 8 days.
Teammates… Saturday's final pairing could be somewhat reminiscent of the college days for two former Arizona State Sun Devil teammates Azahara Munoz and Anna Nordqvist. The duo shared the lead after Friday's second round and were paired together alongside LPGA veteran Candie Kung during Saturday's third round.
"It's always nice to play with someone that you like and you can talk to and obviously today was extremely tough out there," said Munoz. "It was nice just to go on the fairways today with Anna."
Munoz and Nordqvist played on the Arizona State golf team together from 2006-2008 where they both enjoyed an immense amount of success.
Prior to leaving early to turn pro, Nordqvist was the co-medalist at the 2008 PING/ASU Invitational, named the 2007 National Golf Coaches Association (NGCA) Freshman of the Year and also earned back-to back NGCA First-Team All-American and Academic All-American honors in 2007-08. Munoz was the 2008 NCAA Individual National champion and she led the Sun Devils to the Team National Championship in 2009.
The duo was also reunited at this year's Solheim Cup where they helped clinch a European victory for the first time since 2003. Munoz and Nordqvist will play together again tomorrow in the final group with Yani Tseng.
Of note… Azahara Munoz shot an even-par 72 on Saturday and is currently in third…Paige Mackenzie shot a third-round two-under par 70 to catapult up the leaderboard from a tie for 56th a to a tie for 21st.
Yani Tseng, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Anna Nordqvist, Rolex Rankings No. 33
Azahara Munoz, Rolex Rankings No. 39
THE MODERATOR: All right, everyone. We have a little special treat. We have Anna Nordqvist sitting next to me, Yani Tseng, as I'm sure you all know, in the center, and then Azahara Munoz on the end. First off I want to kind of change it up. Anna and Aza, you two played together in college and then you played together today. Can you just talk about the day?
ANNA NORDQVIST: I think it was fun. Obviously I know Aza very well playing Solheim Cup, playing college, so it's been a great day. It's been a long day, but I really enjoyed it out there.
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Yeah. Same for me. It's always nice to play with someone that you like and you can talk to. And obviously today was extremely tough out there. It was so windy. It was nice just to go on the fairways today with Anna.
THE MODERATOR: Yani, great round today. You've had the round of the day. Can you just talk a little bit about the day, what you did well?
YANI TSENG: I putt very well today. Even I missed a couple of short putts, but I still make a lot. I've been really, really patient, and before I go out, the first tee, I told my caddie, this wind like this, even par is really good score, and I shot five under. So I was really proud of myself and very happy what I did today and be patient all day.
Q. I'd like to ask Yani, how do you characterize the difference between today and yesterday in terms of how you played?
YANI TSENG: You know, today is past. I just woke up yesterday. And today my new goal is just be patient all day because especially when you see the wind like this, and I mean I really prepare you're going to miss a couple shots today. You're going to miss a couple putts because the wind like this it's hard to shoot a low score, so I just try to do my best every shot the best I can.
And I had so much fun playing with Amy. Amy played very well today, putted very well. So they kind of pushed me harder and pushed me to get more birdies, too.
Q. Anna and Aza, it seemed like it was a lot more windy today. Can you just talk about the difference between today and yesterday?
AZA MUNOZ: Yeah. I think it was windy all week, but today I think it was more like the practice rounds. And as Yani said, this morning, I was thinking that even par, if I shot even par it was going to be a really good round, and it is.
So you just have to be patient. As Yani said, you're going to miss shots and you're going to miss putts because it's really tough. You're moving like that the whole time. But you know, you just have to get through it and hit fairways and greens and that's it.
ANNA NORDQVIST: Yeah, you know it's going to be a grind out there and you know you're going to hit good shots and they're not going to be even close to the hole. But it is what it is and it's the same for everyone, so anything I think under par is a really good score today.
Q. Yani, this one is for you. It wasn't easy for Lorena Ochoa when she first hosted a tournament in Mexico, and I know your name's not on this event, but it might as well be. Can you just talk about the difficulty of trying to balance the responsibility and all the pressure in your home country for the first time?
YANI TSENG: Yeah. Actually last week before I come in this tournament I was feeling a lot of pressure because all the fans, everybody was talking about say, oh, you're playing in Taiwan, you have to win in Taiwan. There's all the people are supporting. But I would say, you know, golf is not easy. It's not easy to win a tournament, but I would say I always try my best, but after the first day I saw that many people on the golf course supporting this tournament, supporting us, my pressure just got so much lower because I feel really appreciative them coming to support me. So it doesn't matter how good or bad I play and they will always be there supporting us, and I was really, really happy and now I feel like I played good. I'm proud of myself and hopefully tomorrow I'm going to be very enjoy tomorrow, enjoy the crowd.
Q. Aza, with a win this week it would be the first win of your career, and Anna, with a win this week it would be your first one this year. Can you just tell me about your game plan going into tomorrow?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: It's like every day. I've been playing really well. Today besides one stupid mistake hitting it in the water on 16. But you know, I'm just going to try to keep playing like I have, give myself a lot of chances, and probably the wind is going to be blowing hard, so you never know what's going to happen. And just keep patient, one shot at a time and try to do it.
ANNA NORDQVIST: Yeah, I'm really excited about tomorrow, obviously playing the last group with Aza and Yani, get a little more people. It's really exciting.
Just every time you put yourself in a position to win, this is what I dream of and practice for, so I really look forward to tomorrow.
Q. This is the first time you come to Taiwan. How does it feel to play in Yani's hometown?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: I didn't know what to expect, you know, but it was amazing to see so many people on Thursday already. Obviously it's a small country and Yani is No. 1 in the world, so I knew a lot of people were going to come, but I was actually surprised, and I mean we really appreciate when we go to a place and there are so many of you here supporting us. Sometimes you get to a press conference, and there are ‑‑ I'm embarrassed to be sitting there because there are three people, and here we see so many, I think we all really appreciate that.
ANNA NORDQVIST: Yeah, I think I didn't even know what to expect, but just teeing up on Thursday in Yani's group and you see so many people out there and even like on the first green I'm like, where am I? It's Thursday. (Laughs).
But it's great to see so much support, and obviously Yani, everyone supports her, too, so it's been a really exciting week, and I look forward to come back.
Q. I have one more for the other two contestants. Just going back to a question that was asked earlier, tomorrow is the last day, make or break. So what are you going to do tonight? What are you going to think about, eat, drink or whatever it takes to actually win this thing tomorrow?
ANNA NORDQVIST: Well, it's been a long day. I just got done, so I can't wait to go to bed and get some sleep.
AZAHARA MUNOZ: I'm going to do nothing. I'm just going to eat, I'm pretty hungry, and try to get some rest, probably watch a movie with my friends and just try to relax. I mean I don't do anything the day before, just try to get my mind off golf.
Q. Yani, you've had a lot of special moments in your career already. Can you just kind of looking ahead to tomorrow, what would a win here in this atmosphere and this crowd mean to you? How would it rank?
YANI TSENG: Yeah. It would be very, very special to win in this tournament tomorrow, because this is the first time and first time so many people is coming to watch us, and I think it just ‑‑ you know, it is my honor. I can share this honor to all the fans there, and I don't get any people disappointed because I win, and just really happy. Still one more day to go, so I just still keep relaxed and try not to think too much about it.