RICOH Women’s British Open
Carnoustie Golf Links
July 30, 2011
Third-round notes and interviews
Caroline Masson -15, Rolex Rankings No. 141
Yani Tseng -13, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Catriona Matthew -9, Rolex Rankings No. 35
Second-round leader Caroline Masson of Germany holds a two-stroke lead over Rolex Rankings No. 1 and defending champion Yani Tseng entering the final round of the 2011 RICOH Women’s British Open. Masson’s 15-under-par total of 201 is the lowest 54-hole score at the Women’s British Open since the event became a major in 2001.
Masson shot a 4-under 68 in Saturday’s third round but admitted to having a few butterflies at the beginning of her round, which was showcased by a wayward drive on No. 1 where she three-putted for bogey. Following her bogey on the opening hole, Masson displayed nerves of steel while playing in the final pairing. She had six birdies and got her score to 16-under-par before a bogey on the 18th hole cut her lead to two over Tseng heading into Sunday’s final round.
“I was quite nervous at the beginning, but I calmed down,” Masson said of her round Saturday. “It’s really, really good, of course, [to be leading] but I can't really believe it. I'm just trying to enjoy every moment and just realize what's happening. Yeah, it's a strange feeling right now.”
Masson, who is a member of the Ladies European Tour (LET), played one year on the women’s golf team at Oklahoma State University and was a teammate of fellow LET member Caroline Hedwall. She has played in 10 events on the LET this season with her best finish coming at the Lalla Meryem Cup where she recorded her first career runner-up finish. Masson was 26th on the LET’s Order of Merit during her rookie season in 2010.
The 22-year-old is a native of Gladbeck, Germany, which is not far from Dusseldorf. Her father, Stefan, is a tennis coach in Germany and Masson grew up playing that sport as well as golf. Masson has worked with swing coach, Guenter Kessler, for around 10 or 11 years. Kessler is also the swing coach for fellow German golf professional Martin Kaymer.
Masson met with Kessler two weeks before the RICOH Women’s British Open and they worked on prepping her for links golf. Kessler shared some of the information with Masson that Kaymer had told him about playing in the British Open.
“He said that you really have to like links golf and accept whatever comes, whatever conditions you have, and I think that helped me quite a lot,” Masson said after Friday’s second round.
Masson is trying to become the third player since the RICOH Women’s British Open became a major in 2001 to make the event her first win. The others were Jeong Jang (2005, Royal Birkdale) and Jiyai Shin (2008, Sunningdale). Masson would also join Shin as a player who won the event as a non-member of the LPGA Tour.
Newfound territory: Masson has never led entering the final round of an LET event, let alone a major championship, and her name was unfamiliar to many of the golfers in the field before this week.
“I just asked my caddie, ‘Who's that?’ said Tseng. “I've never seen her play before. I've never played with her. But I'm very excited for tomorrow to go out in the last group.”
Masson, who plays at the same home course in Germany as LPGA Tour member Sandra Gal, is excited about the opportunity to be paired with Tseng for the final round – especially since her goal at the beginning of the week was just to make the cut in what is only her second major championship.
“She's the best player in the world, and she proved that the last years and played so well in pretty much every major tournament,” said Masson. “I'm very excited, and I'm really looking forward to meeting her and playing with her, and I'm pretty sure I can learn a lot from her tomorrow.”
Tseng will be 22 years old, 6 months and 8 days on Sunday. Patty Patty Berg is currently the youngest to win five majors (25 years old, 4 months, 19 days) as she won her fifth at the 1943 Western Open, which was seven years prior to the LPGA being founded in 1950.
Tseng fired the low round of the day on Saturday, a 6-under 66. It was the second straight round of 66 for Tseng, who is trying to win two majors for the second straight season. Tseng, who her second LPGA Championship back in June, capped off an impressive 2010 season by winning the Women’s British Open for the first time. Tseng also captured the 2010 Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Tseng-sational: After shooting an even-par 36 on the front nine, Tseng got things going on the back side as she shot 30. She went 5-under par in her first five holes after making the turn on Saturday afternoon, which she capped with by draining a 70-foot putt for eagle on the par-5 14th hole.
“I played awesome,” said Tseng. “There were some tough pins out there but I played real smart.
“On this golf course two shots is nothing ‑‑ it's very easy, just one bogey, one birdie can make basically the difference.”
Tseng led by four shots going into the final round of last year’s RICOH Women’s British Open at Royal Birkdale. Still she’s not unaccustomed to trailing, having come-from-behind to win her first three tournaments on the LPGA Tour, and she’s excited about having the opportunity to pick up her fifth career major with a come-from-behind victory.
“I learn lots of things the past three years, and I learn from mistakes, and I've been winning and lost tournaments a few times, and I've learned from the experience,” Tseng said. “But I know I've got to experience it tomorrow. The only thing I can do is try my best and play one shot at a time and try to not think too much. I don't want to put too much pressure on myself to say I have to win. I just want to do the things I can do and enjoy it tomorrow.”
Super Sunday: On the final day of the RICOH Women’s British Open, the focus will not just be solely on crowning a champion as the players will try to help aide the relief efforts for the earthquake and the tsunami that struck Japan back in March. For every birdie or better achieved by the entire field on Sunday, the Championship Committee of the tournament will make a donation to the British Red Cross Japan Tsunami Appeal. It’s an initiative that they are calling “Super Sunday.”
Carnoustie shows its teeth: After two days of relatively low scores, the Carnoustie Golf Links played a little tougher on Saturday. A total of 46 players were under-par after 36 holes of the championship, but only 20 players shot under par in the third round.
“I think the pins are a little bit trickier and there's definitely a bit more wind today,” said Scotland native Catriona Matthew, who shot a 4-under 68 to move into third place at 9-under-par.
Of Note…First-round leader Meena Lee shot an 8-over 80 in the third round to drop to 2-under-par for the tournament. She moved from a T2 into a T28… The 17th hole continued to be a must-birdie hole, particularly at the end of Saturday’s round. Of the last 16 players to finish on Saturday, 14 of them recorded a birdie on 17. There were 40 birdies and one eagle overall on 17 during the third round. It has played as the easiest hole on the course this week with a 4.338 scoring average.
THE MODERATOR: Good evening, all. We have Caroline Masson, the championship leader, after 54 holes on 15‑under par 201, having just scored a 68 to give her a two‑shot lead going into the final round. Congratulations. Could you tell us how you enjoyed your round today.
CAROLINE MASSON: I did enjoy it. I mean, I was quite nervous at the beginning, made bogey on the 1st hole but then birdied the 2nd, so I felt really confident after that. I hit some really good shots out there, made some putts, and yeah, just enjoyed the gallery and my game. It was a very nice day out there.
THE MODERATOR: Did you think the course was playing a little bit harder today?
CAROLINE MASSON: I think so. I think the pins were much tougher today. I mean, there was some wind out there, which didn't make it easy, but I mean, especially the pins were difficult, so that's probably why the scores weren't as good as they have been.
THE MODERATOR: I think this is only your second major championship.
CAROLINE MASSON: Right.
THE MODERATOR: What does it feel like to be leading going into the final round?
CAROLINE MASSON: Yeah, I don't know. Really, really good, of course, but I can't really believe it. I'm just trying to enjoy every moment and just realise what's happening. Yeah, it's a strange feeling right now.
Q. When you finished last night did you just relax? Did you manage to sleep last night?
CAROLINE MASSON: I slept really, really well last night. I mean, we just had some trouble finding some food. All the restaurants were closed or they didn't have any food anywhere because it was really quite late. But once I was in my bed I was quite tired because it was an exhausting day. I slept really, really well, and yeah, been really good so far.
Q. Were you aware of what Yani Tseng was doing?
CAROLINE MASSON: Yeah, I mean, I was watching the leaderboard so I knew what she was doing. I was playing so well, I just tried to concentrate on my golf and was confident out there. I always feel better if I know what everyone else is doing, but I was in the lead by quite a few shots at some moments, so that gave me even more confidence, I guess.
Q. I bumped into quite a few Germans from the federation, your brethren, also the Popov family. Were you aware that there were quite a few Germans supporting you out there?
CAROLINE MASSON: Yeah, I mean, the Popovs were supporting me the whole way, always watched my rounds. There were quite a few Germans out there. I just heard it. They were trying to speak German to me and everything. It was nice to have some German support out there, but all the spectators were great and supported us really well, so it was just a nice day out there.
Q. Can you just talk about playing with Yani tomorrow?
CAROLINE MASSON: Yeah, very excited already. She's the best player in the world, and she proved that the last years and played so well in pretty much every major tournament. I'm very excited, and I'm really looking forward to meeting her and playing with her, and I'm pretty sure I can learn a lot from her tomorrow.
Q. How much do you know about Yani? Is there anything she does that impresses you? She's also looking forward to meeting you and would like to make friends with you.
CAROLINE MASSON: Yeah, I mean, I don't know her personally, but I know she's a very nice girl. Obviously her golf is amazing. She hits it very good, very far. I mean, most important, she's a nice girl and she's always friendly to everyone. I really like that about her. Yeah, I think it's going to be a fun round tomorrow.
Q. When you arrived here at the start of the week, what was your expectation?
CAROLINE MASSON: I didn't really know. I mean, I played really bad last year and just knew that I was playing well. I played well the whole year, and I just said, okay, I want to make the cut, maybe a top 20 would be a good finish but just see how the course is, see how I actually hit it here. I didn't have too many expectations, I was just thinking let's see what's going to happen.
Q. Just looking at your record, you have obviously played well this year. But this is a huge jump up. Is there any explanation for it do you think?
CAROLINE MASSON: I don't know, it's just coming together. You know, I hit the ball very well all the time, and then my short game wasn't as good or my putting didn't really work. So it's just all coming together right now, and I have been making mistakes. I keep out of trouble here, which is very important.
I was actually waiting for that moment, not especially at the British Open, but just to have it all come together and really play well and maybe win a tournament. It's just unbelievable that it's happening this week.
Q. This would be a good one to win.
CAROLINE MASSON: Yeah, absolutely, no doubt.
Q. Up until this week what's the most exciting or the best thing that's happened in your golfing career, before this week?
CAROLINE MASSON: Well, I mean, I had some really nice moments as an amateur. We won the team championship and all that stuff. That's really emotional moments. I finished second before in Mallorca, which was a bit disappointing but still a good result. But nothing compares to this. It's just a huge step really and great fun.
Q. Will you have any of your family here tomorrow watching you?
CAROLINE MASSON: Well, my brother is here with me the whole week. I don't know, I don't think my parents are going to come. They would love to probably, but I didn't really talk to them yet. Maybe they'll just come tomorrow, I have no idea. But it's really nice having my brother here because we hardly see each other and we enjoy spending time together, and he's a great support for me.
Q. What's your brother's name?
CAROLINE MASSON: Alex.
Q. Older or younger than you?
CAROLINE MASSON: He's two years younger, he's 20.
Q. Have you had any contact with Martin Kaymer or any text messages or emails?
CAROLINE MASSON: Well, not yet. I don't know if he's following it. I think so. He's a really nice guy. Maybe he's going to send me a message, maybe not, but I know that he's following me a bit. Yeah, we'll see, I don't know.
Q. The advice you got from your coach from Martin about links golf, is there anything specific that you have used today or the last three days?
CAROLINE MASSON: Well, it's more like the mental side that you just accept whatever is coming, the conditions, and you just ‑‑ that you're prepared for bad bounces or maybe an unlucky shot or whatever. But Martin loves links golf and loves this ‑‑ I don't know, loves this kind of golf. I was thinking about that a little more. Sometimes I'm getting mad when I get a bad bounce or whatever, so I think that helped me a bit to stay calm on the course and just accept whatever is coming.
Q. Could you tell us about your caddie? I was asked for his name.
CAROLINE MASSON: His name is Martin Ridley. He's from England. We started working together in September last year. He was caddying for Bettina Hauert, a very good player before, a German player, and yes, it's really going well. Our first finish was third, I think, so it was going well from the beginning, and we just really have a good time out there.
Q. You're a member of the same golf club as Sandra Gal; is that correct?
CAROLINE MASSON: Yes, right.
Q. Which one is that?
CAROLINE MASSON: Golf Club Hubbelrath in German. It's in Düsseldorf. It's a big club in Düsseldorf. We played together in our German team championships. It's just very nice to see her sometimes. Not very often, because she's playing in the States. But nice to see her, nice to talk to her, yeah.
Q. German golf, it looks like Sandra Gal stepped up this year and obviously Martin Kaymer, and after Bernhard Langer, there was a drought going, and all of a sudden Martin Kaymer came up and Sandra Gal and you. Looks like quality rather than quantity out there. Tell us a little bit about German golf, the situation right now.
CAROLINE MASSON: I think the Federation does a really good job. That's why right now is the moment that there are more players coming and turning pro and playing really well because they have really good national coaches, national teams, and quite a bit of manager support. I think that's really important, and there are just more and more good amateurs coming, boys and girls, and it's unfortunate we don't have that many players on the men's or the women's tours because they somehow don't want to turn pro or don't dare to, I don't know why. But I think that's going to change in the near future. We have really good amateurs out there, so I'm looking forward to the next years to see who turns pro and who's playing really well.
THE MODERATOR: Could we get the details of the birdies and the couple of bogeys, please?
CAROLINE MASSON: Yes, of course. 1, hit a really bad tee shot there but hit the green, three‑putted unfortunately, but just not an easy start. I felt a bit nervous.
Q. What was the distance of your three‑putt?
CAROLINE MASSON: About 12 metres, something like that. The birdie, I hit about two metres there, really good shot in there, 5‑iron. Then on 5, 4‑iron in there, pretty tough hole today with the pin, I think. Pin was in the back, and made a really good putt like down the right. That was a pretty good putt. That was about three metres maybe.
6, I hit the green in two and just two‑putted for birdie from about 10 metres. I hit a 4‑iron. 11, I hit a very good second shot, again, about two metres maybe, pretty straight putt there. That was an 8‑iron. 14, put it in the bunker on the right side. That was not a really tough bunker shot but still a long one, so not really easy. It was like about three metres short probably, made that putt.
17, hit the green again in two, two‑putted from 10 metres probably. Bogey on 18, just hit a ‑‑ I had some really, really high tee shots and that was one of them, and then I had a really long shot in, hit a 3‑iron and hit that in the bunker. Bunker shot wasn't easy, but I was happy to actually make bogey there.
Q. You probably walked off thinking that was a good bogey?
CAROLINE MASSON: That was a good bogey, yeah. The bunker shot wasn't too bad actually. But it's just fine. As I said, I just made some mistakes out there, and to get away with a bogey, I think especially in that situation, I have to be happy.
Q. Do you support a specific football club or players?
CAROLINE MASSON: That's a good question. Yeah, Schalke 04. Well, it's an okay football club in Germany. The stadium is about five minutes from where I grew up, Schalke. That's where Raul is right now. It's just a good German club. They did really good in the championship last year, so that was awesome. Yeah, just really into it.
I mean, I'm not there very often because obviously don't really have the time, but if I get the chance to see a game, I just go to the stadium. It's just a family thing. I mean, my brother's a fan, my dad, yeah. You just have to be a Schalke fan if you grow up there.
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. We have Yani Tseng here, who's just had her second consecutive 66 and is currently 13‑under par, 203, I think currently two shots behind the lead. Congratulations, great round of golf. Can I get your general thoughts on the round today.
YANI TSENG: Yeah, you know, I played awesome. I played really good today. They had some really tough pins out there, but I played really smart and I hit my irons very well. I gave myself lots of birdie chances today. I missed some but I still made a lot, and I played one shot at a time and tried my best every shot and every putt, and I just feel really good. I made one really, really long putt on No. 14. That was like 23 yards, and after that I told my caddie, I haven't putted that long putt for a while, and it was really good, and very happy.
Q. What about your position going into the last round? You must be pleased with that.
YANI TSENG: Yeah, actually before the won this tournament last year, I always come from behind. After I won the British Open I feel I learned how to be leading and winning tournaments. But now I've got two shots back, and I feel really good. I'm just very excited and can't wait to go out there tomorrow. On this golf course two shots is nothing ‑‑ it's very easy, just one bogey, one birdie can make basically the difference.
Q. There's one girl in front of you, a German called Caroline Masson. Have you ever heard of her before?
YANI TSENG: No. I just asked my caddie, who's that. I've never seen her play before. I've never played with her. But I'm very excited for tomorrow to go out in the last group.
Q. Since you didn't know her, were you surprised that she would hang on there as well as she did after you holed that massive putt and there was a big roar?
YANI TSENG: You know, golf courses like this are really tough, and I don't pay too much attention to her. There's so many great players out here competing in this tournament to try to win in this tournament. I think she's a great player and it's good to see her on the top of the leaderboard. But I think tomorrow we'll become friends tomorrow, and just have a little chat and just enjoy it.
Q. Were you surprised that somebody you didn't know should be at the top of the leaderboard?
YANI TSENG: No, I think it's ‑‑ sometimes it's ‑‑ so many great players, I didn't know some players on the lead, and maybe some players don't know me, as well. After a rookie when I was two rounds, three rounds leading on a major and people would say who I am, just the same thing. So many great players that are just playing this good week.
Q. Will you have a particular game plan tomorrow?
YANI TSENG: Hopefully just stay like today and just be aggressive. I kind of was very aggressive today and just trust and try my best every shot, and that's all I can do.
Q. You must be incredibly confident given the huge run you've been on recently.
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I do. I feel really comfortable and confident right now. Just feel very excited for tomorrow.
Q. Talking about your comfort level, now that you've got four majors, just talk about how your ability to cope with the pressure has changed from the first one to the most recent one.
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I learn lots of things the past three years, and I learn from mistakes, and I've been winning and lost tournaments a few times, and I've learned from the experience. But I know I've got to experience it tomorrow. The only thing I can do is try my best and play one shot at a time and try to not think too much. I don't want to put too much pressure on myself to say I have to win. I just want to do the things I can do and enjoy it tomorrow. We always get a big crowd at the British Open, so I'm very excited and looking forward to tomorrow.
Q. I remember last year you were humming a song. Have you been using a similar strategy this year?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, this year I changed things. I kind of sort of just look at the sky and look at the view around, the people around, so it's kind of enjoy and keep my chest out and chin up, be a good professional, good body language and smart, look at the gallery, and that's the things I do for this year to keep me relaxed and thinking positive.
Q. Can you rate that round?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, delighted with it. I knew I had to go out there and shoot a pretty low number, so yeah, very happy with 68.
Q. Bewildering changes on the leaderboard. Were you aware of that as the round progressed when you were out there?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Not really until the back nine, but obviously looks like she's doing very well, Caroline, and Yani just made an eagle. We'll see how they finish.
Q. You talked about the possibility of winning at this championship. You've done it at Royal Lytham and you know how special it would be here in Scotland, but what kind of support have you been getting from the home crowd?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, I mean, obviously it would be fantastic. I'm an ambassador for Carnoustie Country, so to win at Carnoustie would just be fantastic.
Q. How do you rate your position currently? You're five shots behind as we speak, but how do you rate it right now?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, I'd like to probably be a little bit closer, but they've got some birdie opportunities but a couple of tricky holes, as well. We'll see how they finish. I think it's supposed to be a little bit windier tomorrow, so five shots, can really pick that up pretty quickly.
Q. Describe the atmosphere out there.
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, it was fantastic. It's not often I get to play in Scotland, and the crowds were out in force today. I was lucky enough to make a few birdies today, so it's great to hear them cheering when the putts go in.
Q. What is it about this championship you enjoy so much?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: I think it's the one chance we get to play on links golf each year. I grew up on that kind of golf. I hadn't had a great record in it, but since I won it, it's nice to come back and play links golf.
Q. Do you feel like you may have an advantage tomorrow with your local knowledge?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: I think everyone kind of knows the course now. Yani has certainly got a good ball flight for the wind. But having grown up on this kind of golf will maybe help me a little bit.
Q. Let's say you're half a dozen shots behind going into the final round. Is that the same as half a dozen shots on a different golf course, let's say an American style golf course?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: I think it depends on the wind tomorrow. I think it's meant to be a little bit windier tomorrow, so six shots really isn't much if the wind blows around here. I'm delighted with it. I made a couple of good par saves in the first couple of holes and then birdied 5 on the way out, really good birdie there actually, 6‑iron in. And then a few birdies on the back nine. Yeah, pleased with how I played today.
Q. Any particular shots that you were pleased with?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: 18. You know, I played 18 really well. I hadn't hit that fairway yet. I managed to hit the fairway and a really good shot in. I thought the putt had a chance, but 68 is not too bad.
Q. Did you feel that was quite critical?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, and everyone else was birdieing that, so I kind of cooled myself and hit a really good chip. You really kind of feel that you're losing half a shot if you don't birdie that one.
Q. Given where you were on the leaderboard, as well?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, I was wanting to try and birdie that. And 18 wasn't an easy hole.
Q. Overall the scoring is much higher today.
CATRIONA MATTHEW: I think the pins are a little bit trickier and there's definitely a bit more wind today.
Q. What do you make of Caroline Masson?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, obviously playing very well. I haven't seen her play yet, but yeah, she's obviously doing everything right.
Q. She just seems to be unable to make any mistakes at the moment, which is ultimately what you're going to need?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, I think it's meant to be a little bit windier tomorrow, so it'll be a different kind of golf course tomorrow. Yes, you just need to try and grind out pars tomorrow.
Q. You're still well in touch?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, who knows how many I'll be behind by the end of the day, but all I can do, I shot a good score today. I can't really control what she does.
Q. At what point do you think it's too far behind, four behind, five behind?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: A lot of it depends on the weather, how windy it is. I think if it's windy ‑‑ Paul Lawrie came back from ten shots. If it's windy, anything can happen.
Q. Do you enjoy playing The Open here?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, love it, great to play at Carnoustie. I've been an ambassador now for Carnoustie Country, so it's great to be in this area.
Q. Do you feel it's an advantage having won on the links before?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, I mean, I think ‑‑ well, I think everyone kind of knows the course now, and if the wind gets up, I don't think that's a big advantage. Having won this tournament before, I think, helps a little bit.
Q. Did you get a lift from the crowd or did they put you under more pressure?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: No, it was great. Obviously when you're playing well and making birdies, it's great to hear the crowd cheering you on.
Q. Quite a few of the Koreans are struggling. Is there any reason for that?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Certainly the pin positions are tougher. You have to play away from a lot of the pins, certainly in the first few holes, and it's windier today, so it's a little bit trickier. Maybe they're not used to playing this kind of golf as much in the wind.
Q. Do you feel that plays into your hands if it's windy tomorrow?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yes, I mean, probably I'm certainly used to it a bit more. But Yani is world No. 1, I think she knows how to play in the wind.
Q. Are you happy with your putting?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Yeah, I had a couple drop today, so I'll look for more of that tomorrow.
Q. What are you going to do for the rest of the day?
CATRIONA MATTHEW: Probably just practise a little bit and then go back and get something to eat.