Second-round notes and interviews -- Avnet LPGA Classic

Avnet LPGA Classic
Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Magnolia Grove, Crossings Course
Mobile, Ala.
Second round notes and interviews
April 29, 2011

Sandra Gal -7, Rolex Rankings No. 38
Amy Yang -6, Rolex Rankings No. 25
Stacy Lewis -5, Rolex Rankings No. 14

One of this year’s Rolex First-Time Winners ruled the day during Friday’s second round of the Avnet LPGA Classic. Sandra Gal fired a 5-under 67on Friday to move to 7-under-par for the tournament and take a one-stroke lead over Amy Yang at the Crossings Course at Magnolia Grove in Mobile, Ala. Gal, who picked up her first career win at the Kia Classic last month, had an up-and-down front nine as she tallied three birdies and two bogeys. After bogeying 10 to get back to even-par on the day, Gal caught fire. She recorded three straight birdies and a total of five birdies in seven holes to vault herself from a tie for 8th on Thursday into sole possession of the lead after two rounds of play.

On a roll: Gal has shot over par just twice in her last 13 rounds and she has not finished worse than a tie for 15th in each of her last three tournaments on the LPGA Tour. “Obviously I'm playing well,” Gal said. “I'm just enjoying myself out there. I mean, I'm not doing anything really different. I've been playing solid since the end of last year. Just winning, you know, I think you get more comfortable at the top. Being in the lead is something you know, you want to be there and feel comfortable there, so that's probably the difference now.”

Staying on for the weekend: A total of 77 players made the cut which fell at 3-over-par 147.

Amy Yang was one of a number of players to take advantage of playing early on Friday. The South Korean shot a 4-under 68 to put herself within a shot of the lead, as she sits at 6-under-par for the tournament. Of the 14 rounds shot in the 60s during Friday’s second round, only three of them were recorded by players with afternoon tee times. Yang has yet to record a victory on the LPGA Tour but she had six top 10 finishes last season, which included a career-best, runner-up finish at the 2010 LPGA Tour Championship.

2011 Kraft Nabisco winner Stacy Lewis continued her recent solid play, shooting a 1-under 71 to move to five-under par and into a tie for third with Karen Stupples and Song-Hee Kim. Lewis had three bogeys and two birdies en route to her second straight under-par round, although she said that this one was much more difficult than her round on Thursday. “It was just kind of up and down all day,” Lewis said. “I just had to fight. Made a couple bad bogeys on the par 3s, but played well coming in. Just missed a birdie on 17; thought I made the putt. Birdied 16 and made a great two putt there, so good momentum going into the weekend.”

Twice as Nice?
Lewis is looking to join LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Karrie Webb as the second back-to-back winner on Tour this year. Webb captured back-to-back wins at the HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore and the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup.

Defending champion Se Ri Pak continued her stay near the top of the leaderboard at the Avnet LPGA Classic. Pak shot a second-round 71 to move her to 4-under-par for the tournament and into a tie for sixth with Suzann Pettersen, Sun Young Yoo and Sarah Kemp. Since 2001, Pak has won a total of three times at the Crossings Course at Magnolia Grove. She tallied victories at the 2001 and 2002 Tournament of Champions and last year she won the 2010 Bell Micro LPGA Classic, which was rain-shortened to 54 holes, in a playoff over Brittany Lincicome and Pettersen.

Welcome to Sybase: The top-10 players after Friday’s second round at the Avnet LPGA Classic, who are not already qualified, gained entry into the Sybase Match Play event in Gladstone, New Jersey on May 19-22. Sandra Gal, Jenny Suh, Sarah Kemp, Mindy Kim, Alena Sharp, Paige Mackenzie, and Grace Park have all solidified their spots in the event. There are four players (Aree Song, Mi Hyun Kim, Chella Choi and Haeji Kang) who finished in a tie and they will be vying for the final three spots. In addition, the top four players on this year’s LPGA Official Money List, not already qualified, after the completion of the Avnet LPGA Classic will also earn spots into the Sybase field

A Royal Party: The Avnet LPGA Classic played host to a once-per-generation type party today in honor of the Royal Wedding on Friday. The Grand Hotel in Point Clear, Alabama (one of Travel + Leisure magazine's Top 500 hotels in the world) catered the event with a one-of-a-kind Buckingham Palace cake. Traditional English tea, crumpets, tea sandwiches and cookies were also served. Scotland’s Mhairi McKay and recent winners Stacy Lewis and Sandra Gal stopped in to enjoy the festivities after their rounds.

Of Note…Ilhee Lee shot the low round of the tournament with a six-under 66 on Friday. Lee is currently tied for 42nd at one-over-par…Shi Hyun Ahn and Song Yi Choi withdrew from the tournament after the first round …Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng was 10-over-par through 30 holes of the Avnet LPGA Classic but she birdied five of her last six holes to shoot an even-par 72. Tseng missed the cut, finishing the two days at 5-over-par.

SANDRA GAL, Rolex Rankings No. 38

MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Sandra Gal into the interview room. Congratulations on your 5 under round today. Take me through what went well for you out on the course today. You played well yesterday, but maybe didn’t convert as many times as you would have liked. What was the difference today in the round?

SANDRA GAL: Well, I didn't start off that strong today. It was kind of slow start, but I just made a couple bogeys, 9, 10, and that was kind of like a turning point for me. I kind of got down on myself a little bit. Then I was like okay, Let's just play one shot at a time and be patient. The birdies are going to come. They did, so I was happy about that.

MODERATOR: After getting that first career win at the Kia Classic, you’ve continued to play well. What's been the difference for you after getting that first win?
SANDRA GAL: Obviously I'm playing well. I'm just enjoying myself out there. I mean, I'm not doing anything really different. I've been playing solid since the end of last year. Just winning, you know, I think you get more comfortable at the top. Being in the lead is something you know, you want to be there and feel comfortable there, so that's probably the difference now.

Q. A lot of the golfers talk about patience being very important out here. How difficult is it around here to actually bring that into play?
SANDRA GAL: Well, it all depends for me on the pin positions. I think there are few pins out there that you just can't go for, so that is where patience really comes into play. You have to bail center of the green, make two putts, and hopefully roll it in. You can't just go for every pin out here.

Q. Did anything change for you after you won in terms of a lot more media exposure at Kraft, et cetera, in terms of sponsorships, Twitter, more people recognize you in Orlando?

SANDRA GAL: Yeah, it's been amazing. So many people come up to me and congratulate me. I just feel very thankful for that. There is a lot media attention from Germany. Other than that, Twitter followers, yeah, I think that one week I gained like 1,500, so it was kind of funny. But other than that, nothing changed.

Q. How much did it mean to you to get the win and have the confidence that you had going out? You said you really are doing the same things, but is it a different mindset once you say, Okay, I can do it?
SANDRA GAL: I think there is. Once you've won, obviously you want to win again, so you've kind of got this mindset, I can do it. On the other hand, I'm in the lead now, but I'm not going to have any expectations on me. There are so many good players out there. The good thing about winning was it's kind of a tough year to get in a lot of the events at the end of the year. So by winning, I'm in all the tournaments. We have like 18 tournaments ahead of us. So it's just nice to be in all of them, to know you have a nice season ahead of you, you know, just playing one round at a time.

Q. You’ve played with Stacy Lewis the last two days. What are your thoughts on Stacy’s game and how she's been playing the last few weeks?
SANDRA GAL: Yeah, well obviously she has been playing great golf. Yesterday she was striking it beautifully; today I think her timing might have been a little bit off. She's such a solid player. I love her putting stroke as well. She'll probably come back strong tomorrow.


Q. You shot a 4-under 68 today to move to 6-under for the tournament and one shot off the lead. Can you talk about your round?

AMY YANG: My front nine, my shot felt really good. It was near the pin. I had pretty short putts. I made five birdies. I had a great round today.

Q. You made five birdies in your first eight holes. What was working really well for you then?

AMY YANG: My irons, mostly irons. It was inside 10 feet, all five of my birdies.

Q. All of them? So your longest birdie putt was just 10 feet?

AMY YANG: The longest one was a little longer than that. But four of them was close.

STACY LEWIS, Rolex Rankings No. 14

MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome Stacy Lewis into the interview room. Congratulations on your 1 under, 71 today. Take us through the round and how things went for you today.

STACY LEWIS: Today's compared to yesterday, I actually hit one more green than yesterday, but I wasn't close to the hole. I didn't really get anything close, and missed in the wrong spot a couple times.Scrambled around and just got the ball in the hole, and was pretty happy shooting 1 under.

MODERATOR: Sometimes when you don't hit it as close, but yet you can still shoot a round like you did today. Is that an even better boost for you when you can do that?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I mean, the two putt I made on 18 kind of summarized the day. It was hard. It was a struggle. I birdied a couple of par 5s that you have to do out here. I don't know. I was pretty happy with it, though.

Q. What are you expecting from the afternoon rounds? Do you feel like there will be some other numbers up there pushing you people that are up front?
STACY LEWIS: I don't think anybody's going to run a way. I think the golf course is playing too hard, especially this afternoon. It's going to get firm, which off the tee that helps if you have shorter clubs. But some of the hole locations, even this morning it was hard to hold the green and get it close. So I think all week it's going to be close. You're not going to see a 63 or something like that. Nothing crazy low this week.

Q. How are you finding the greens out here? Is it hard to make the ball stop?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, they're better than they were last year. They were really firm last year. But just they're drying out, and this morning I thought it was hard because they were soft in the morning, and then I was trying to figure out when they were drying out during the day. So I had some shots that I thought were going to I hit and release just hit and stop, where yesterday we knew everything was going to release.

Q. Was there a part in the round today that was a turning point that kept it together for you?
STACY LEWIS: Um, no. It was just kind of up and down all day. Just had to fight. Made a couple bad bogeys on the par 3s, but played well coming in. Just missed a birdie on 17; thought I made the putt. Birdied 16 and made a great two putt there, so good momentum going into the weekend.

Topics: Notes and Interviews

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