Kraft Nabisco Championship Third Round Notes and Interviews
Mission Hills Country Club
Dinah Shore Tournament Course, Rancho Mirage, California
Saturday Notes and Interviews
April 5, 2014
Sunday’s final pairing at the first major championship of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, will feature a pair of long-hitting phenoms who are both looking for their fi rst major victory. Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson sit tied atop the leaderboard at 10-under-par 206 following the third round of play at Mission Hills Country Club.
“I’m really excited I’m going into Sunday tied for the lead,” Thompson said. “Obviously, you’re going to be a little nervous. I think if you’re not nervous, you don’t care. But it’s a good nervous. This is what I’ve been waiting for and what I’ve worked my whole life for. So I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”
Wie, 24, shot a bogey-free 68 on Saturday and fi nished the day as the third-round co-leader with the 19-year-old Thompson, who made a three-putt bogey on the 18th to shoot 69 and fall back to 10-under-par.
“I think I talked about it before, but I’m defi nitely a lot more appreciative of where I am going in with the lead,” Wie said. “I think I definitely am not as wide eyed as I used to be, which could be a good thing or a bad thing. But at the same time, I’m really happy with where I am right now.”
This will mark the fi rst time that Wie has held a share of the lead entering the fi nal roundof a major championship since the 2006 U.S. Women’s Open. Wie was 16 years old at the time.
Sitting two strokes back of the leaders is another young star, Charley Hull of England. The vivacious Hull, who delivered a breakthrough performance at last year’s Solheim Cup, fi red a 6-under 66 on Saturday to move into a tie for third at 8-under-par with five-time major champion Se Ri Pak. Hull turned 18 on March 20 and a victory for her on Sunday would make her the youngest major champion in LPGA history.
HULL OF A ROUND
Charley Hull put together the low round of the day with a six-under 66 to climb into a tie for third entering the final round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
“I hit it quite well,” Hull said. “My irons were pretty good and I hit some good drives. I hit some bad drives toward the end which I’m working on on the range. But holed good putts my when I got myself in trouble, I was able to get out of it. I’m pretty happy with how it’s going.”
The 18-year old is showing little signs of nerves as she looks to become the youngest player to ever to a major and to make the leap into Poppie’s Pond.
“You know, I enjoy it being good young. There are a lot of great young players coming up, especially Lydia, Lexi and everyone,” Hull said. “But I think age is just a number. I think it’s more about experience, yeah, it’s good.”
IN GOOD SHAPE
Se Ri Pak (-8) was one of the three players (Lexi Thompson and Michelle Wie) to have the lead at one point during an exciting Saturday. It could be her experience that helps the 5-time major champion pull out another win on “Championship Sunday”.
“It should give me a lot of confidence, no doubt.” Pak said. “Because you’re there before which just helps you with great experience and play heading into Sunday.”
The pressure is something that Pak feels confident she can overcome.
“If you’re 2-back or you’re leading, it’s probably as much as I could handle the pressures and just focus as much as I could.” Pack said. “Yeah, that it helpful heading into Sunday, no doubt.” Pak’s best finish at the Kraft Nabisco Championship was T8 back in 2012 and she’s looking for her first win here.
The largest comeback victory here at the Kraft Nabisco Championship was Karrie Webb in 2006, who was 7 shots back and shot a 7-under 65 to win. Webb currently sits 7-strokes back of Wie and Thompson at three-under. Webb also has a pair of come-from-behind victories on the season.
QUOTES OF THE DAY
“I think if we could make a lot of birdies tomorrow and keep it close tomorrow, I think that it would defi nitely do a lot of good things for the Tour. I think Lexi is a really entertaining golfer. I like to think I’m somewhat entertaining as well. So I think the both of us paired together is great. I think it’s great for the Tour, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
- Michelle Wie talking about the glamour pairing between both her and Lexi Thompson
“We bomb it off the tee and hit a lot of drivers usually. So it will be exciting to watch. I know Michelle pretty well and I’ve gotten to play with her quite a few times, so it will be a great Sunday to watch.”
- Lexi Thompson describing the excitement of being paired with Michelle Wie tomorrow.
EAGLES FOR A CAUSE
“Wounded Warrior Project® Weekends” is a season-long charity program that will be tied into the Race to the CME Globe. Each Saturday and Sunday at LPGA tournaments, CME Group will donate $1,000 to Wounded Warrior Project® for each eagle that is recorded. This amount will increase to $5,000 for each eagle during the weekend of the CME Group Tour Championship and a formal check will be presented to the Wounded Warrior Project® during the trophy ceremony at the CME Group Tour Championship.
Today, four total eagles were recorded which brings the total money raised this year to $70,000. Through the first five tournaments prior to Kia, $66,000 had been raised.
|Jee Young Lee||11|
THE SOCIAL SCENE
The final round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship has captured the golfi ng world, including a Masters Champion in Bubba Watson (@bubbawatson) who took to twitter to share
his excitement for the final day.
“Can’t wait for tomorrow’s final round of the @KNCGolf! @Lexi & @themichellewie final pairings!! #CanOpenerinThePond”
KELLY THESIER: Good afternoon, everyone. We'd like to welcome our other co‑leader here at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, Lexi Thompson, into the interview room. Congratulations. 3‑under par round today, tied for the lead with Michelle Wie at 10‑under par. Just take me through that day out there. I know not the finish you wanted on 18, but overall a solid day.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, overall it was a pretty solid day. I had a little slow start, I missed a few short putts for birdie, but not the ending I wanted. But overall I played pretty solid just like the last few days. I'm getting looks at birdies and just waiting for a few more to drop for me.
Q. You've been putting yourself in contention it seems a lot recently. Two wins at the end of last year. It seems that you've been building up to this moment of being tied for the lead entering the final round of a major. Do you feel like everything you've been going through has kind of prepared you for this moment?
LEXI THOMPSON: I think it definitely has. Like I said, every tournament I go into is a learning experience. Even if I play bad, I learn so much from it. But recently I've been trying to have a little bit more fun out there, smile, joke around and be relaxed. I think that's when my game comes out the most. So hopefully it will be a good Sunday for me. I'm looking forward to it.
KELLY THESIER: Michelle was just in here. She said she's excited about being tied for the lead but also a little nervous about tomorrow. What are your feelings like going into the final round of a major tied for the lead?
LEXI THOMPSON: I'm really excited I'm going into Sunday tied for the lead. Obviously, you're going to be a little nervous. I think if you're not nervous, you don't care. But it's a good nervous. This is what I've been waiting for and what I've worked my whole life for. So I'm really looking forward to tomorrow.
Q. 25 putts yesterday, 31, I think today. Was it anything different or did you feel like the putting was ‑‑ you were putting as well today as you did yesterday they just didn't go in?
LEXI THOMPSON: I would say I had a few mis‑reads today. I don't think I putted as well today and put as many good strokes on my putts. But overall I had a lot of good looks at birdies today, so just do the same thing for tomorrow and go up to the putt confidently and just knock it in.
Q. You and Se Ri and Michelle all held the lead at one point by yourselves. Were you caught up in some of that? Obviously, Michelle just playing in front of you and playing with Se Ri?
LEXI THOMPSON: I actually didn't really pay attention to it. Every time I passed the leaderboard I looked the other way. I want to go out there and play my own game and not worry about others. Obviously, tomorrow I have to look a little bit at it because it's the final round. But just go out there and play my own game, not worry about others. I know I'm playing pretty well, but just go into it with a confident attitude.
KELLY THESIER: Lexi, I asked Michelle what it will be like playing with you in the final round tomorrow. We talked about both long hitters, both kind of play exciting‑type golf. What do you think that pairing is going to be like tomorrow?
LEXI THOMPSON: It's going to be a great pairing. We bomb it off the tee and hit a lot of drivers usually. So it will be exciting to watch. I know Michelle pretty well and I've gotten to play with her quite a few times, so it will be a great Sunday to watch.
KELLY THESIER: Did you get to know her too? You guys were teammates on the Solheim Cup team last year. Did that help to get to know her even a little bit better? I know everybody said they bond over that experience. Did that allow you to get to know Michelle a little bit? What would you say about her personality and what she's like off the golf course?
LEXI THOMPSON: The Solheim Cup definitely brings all the players together. That's what's so great about team events. You make so many new friends and get to know players so well. Golf is such an individual sport you don't get to know the other players and get to play team events that much. But Michelle is just a character. She's so much fun and bubbly and she jokes around, so it's pretty relaxed whenever you're around her. You know she's going to crack jokes and just make fun.
Q. You'll probably see a lot and read a lot tomorrow morning about the importance of this pairing to the LPGA. Michelle said she kind of understood that as well. Do you understand how people might be excited about this or do you just go out and win a golf tournament?
LEXI THOMPSON: I know people will be really excited about tomorrow's pairing, but I'm not really going to worry about it. I'm just going to go out and have fun tomorrow. It's the final day of a major, and I'm tied for the lead, so I'm very excited that I've put myself in this position. I'm just going to go out and have fun and play in front of those fans.
KELLY THESIER: Lexi, I know you probably don't want to think too much about the idea of winning, but has the possibility of that leap ‑‑ everybody talks about the leap into Poppie's Pond. Have you thought at all about what that would be like or what your jump might be like if it does come?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I've definitely thought about it. It's pretty hard not to when you pass it every time coming up to the 18th green. It's definitely a dream of mine and it has been a goal of mine ever since I first played in this tournament. But I'm really looking forward to it. This tournament has so much history behind it, so it would be quite an honor to win this tournament.
KELLY THESIER: Good afternoon, everyone. We'd like to welcome one of our current co‑leaders, Michelle Wie into the interview room. Congratulations, a great 4‑under par round today. Tied for the lead with Lexi Thompson at 10‑under par heading into the final round. How does it feel to be in the lead going into final day of play?
MICHELLE WIE: It's very exciting. I'm really excited that I have a good chance tomorrow. I'm really happy that with my placement. Definitely nervous for tomorrow, but extremely excited.
KELLY THESIER: This is the first time that you've held a lead going into the final round of a major since the 2006 U.S. Women's Open. At that time you were tied with the lead with Brittany Lincicome and Annika Sorenstam. How different are you now compared to back in 2006 when you were holding that lead?
MICHELLE WIE: I think I talked about it before, but I'm definitely a lot more appreciative of where I am going in with the lead. I think I definitely am not as wide‑eyed as I used to be, which could be a good thing or a bad thing. But at the same time, I'm really happy with where I am right now.
KELLY THESIER: You get to play in the final pairing with Lexi. You know Lexi well. You were on the Solheim Cup team together last year. What are you expecting with that group tomorrow with you two? I mean, you both hit it a long ways, you're both tall, you're both fun to watch play, but what are you expecting with that pairing with the two of you?
MICHELLE WIE: I think it's just going to be a lot of fun tomorrow. I really like Lexi. I think she's a really good girl. I love watching her play. I think she's just a great player. So I'm really excited for tomorrow. I think it will be some good golf.
Q. Bogey‑free today, even though you put it in some interesting positions once in a while. Again, the confidence that you seem to have doing a lot of different things on the golf course seems different, hitting the low tee shot, being able to move the ball around. Is that confidence or is it just something that you're doing differently in your game?
MICHELLE WIE: I definitely feel a lot more confident out there on the golf course. I just go out there and I think I'm just really I know what I need to do, and I think that came with experience of playing so many rounds in my life. But I think I'm definitely a lot more confident.
Q. That low stinger tee shot, if you will, I mean, how much or how long have you known that that was the strategy around this golf course coming in this week?
MICHELLE WIE: You know, that's kind of always been in my bag. Kind of reintroduced it back into my game the last couple of months. It's just ‑‑ I guess it's just something that I've always felt comfortable doing, and I've played well on this golf course.
Q. Would you describe some of the putts today as defensive? I mean, I think that was one of the things that several of the commentators were saying, that perhaps you were a little ‑‑ I don't know if you want to say tentative, but a little defensive on some of the putts?
MICHELLE WIE: Well, I just thought the greens were a little bit quicker than they were, so I actually thought I hit them perfectly. But I'm not the type of putter that slams putts in. I've always been a die‑in kind of putter. Just left a lot of putts short today, which is frustrating. But at the same time, it's a major, and you just have to be a little bit careful.
Q. Did you leave yourself in positions where you had some putts that you couldn't be aggressive? Or was that the nature of leaving those short?
MICHELLE WIE: I think I did well on the uphill putts today. I had some pretty good speed going into one. But a lot of putts that I had were a lot of downhill putts today. I misjudged the speed a little bit.
Q. Some would say over the last few years two areas that have maybe been a challenge for you and areas for improvement would be putting and course management. One, would you agree with that; and two, do you feel that those are two areas that you've definitely improved upon?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I think putting is something that I've been working really hard on, course management, for sure. Both things I've worked very hard on. I think everything in my game needs improvement. I think that I've been working hard on every part of my game, and it's definitely, I think getting better, and that's my goal. I just want to get better a little bit every day.
Q. The young lady from England, Charley Hull, sneaking up on the leaderboard as you might have noticed.
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah.
Q. First of all, how much do you know about her? Have you played with her? How much have you gotten to know her?
MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, we played together at the British Open last year, and she's a really good player. She's really young, really feisty. We played against her in Solheim. She did really well there. She's a good player. She's really solid. Definitely doesn't seem that young. It's good to see her on top of that leaderboard as well.
Q. When you see players like her or like Lexi or some of the other young players, do you kind of look at them and think back to what you dealt with coming up at that age and those experiences? And do you kind of mentor younger players and kind of tell them, look, this is some of the stuff that you might want to avoid? This is some of the stuff that you might want to do to make yourself better?
MICHELLE WIE: You know, I never insert my opinion to them. I just feel like they have a really good head on their shoulders. They have a really good team around them. I just make myself available. If they ever want to grab dinner. If they ever want to ask me a question, I'm always there. I'm always there to answer a question. If they want to ask me something, they're more than welcome to. I'll never be the person that inserts my own opinion and tell them what to do, because I obviously never listened.
I mean, I think they have a great team around them and they're smart. I think they've been doing really well so far, so I don't want to ruin it.
Q. I was surprised you used the word nervous about tomorrow. What are you nervous about?
MICHELLE WIE: Oh, yeah, I'm nervous. I probably won't sleep that well tonight. It's just the chance. You want something so badly. I dreamed about this all my life, so I'm just trying to not think about it so much. I'm just trying to think it's a normal Sunday. You're a couple shots behind and just kind of play it that way. Definitely nervous, but I think that's a good thing. It's a sign that I'm really excited and I really want this. I think it's good. Nerves are definitely good.
Q. I'm sure over the years you've imagined different ways you would jump into the pond. How has that changed over the years in your mind, and what do you think tomorrow might look like?
MICHELLE WIE: I've always ‑‑ the one thing I've really thought about always walking past is I really hope I don't like trip and fall in. I really haven't thought about a strategy aside from that. But I'm not even going to think about that. I'm just going to go out there and just enjoy myself.
Q. I know you just want to concentrate on your game and tomorrow; but if you could step back for a second, the pairing is truly a glamour pairing for the Tour tomorrow. What do you think you can do for the LPGA with a great show?
MICHELLE WIE: I think if we could make a lot of birdies tomorrow and keep it close tomorrow, I think that it would definitely do a lot of good things for the Tour. I think Lexi is a really entertaining golfer. I like to think I'm somewhat entertaining as well. So I think the both of us paired together is great. I think it's great for the Tour, and it's going to be a lot of fun.
KELLY THESIER: By the way, I do think both of you are very entertaining golfers.
Q. You really looked good out there today. I wanted to say that off the bat. I just wanted to know, do you go into attack mode tomorrow playing alongside Lexi or do you just kind of see what she's going to do in this give and take match?
MICHELLE WIE: I'm just going to ‑‑ if it was Match Play it would be a completely different story. But I'm just going to go out there and play the same game plan I've played the last three days. I'm not going to go out there and do anything stupid and change anything. If I go out and shoot a good score, that's all I can do. I can't control what anyone else does. I'm just going to go out there and keep playing the same game that I'm playing. Make some birdies, make some pars and see where it leads me.
Q. Se Ri, take us through your round today?
SE RI PAK: It was a really good start actually on the front nine. Still the same the last three days had really solid shot on each hole and I had a lot of confidence. It was really fun today. A lot of gallery out there and a lot of fans out cheering me. I played with a young, super strong players. It was a good experience, really fun to watch her play. At the same time it gave me a great tempo at the same time too. It was good. Just there is nothing to complain about it. Of course I mis‑hit it there a little bit, but that will happen on this golf course. So we're still good finishes heading into the last round. I think I'm in pretty good shape.
Q. You mentioned being in pretty good shape. You're still in the Hunt, only two back. What is your approach going into tomorrow?
SE RI PAK: Probably same as last three days. Try to play smart. Trying to not make any big number of errors. At the same time, trying not to have trouble shots out there. So just keep it at the same tempo as the last three days. Just hole to hole, shot to shot, try to focus as much as I could, and hopefully I'll play 18. At the end of the round I'll have a big smile.
Q. You're a major champion in the past. How do you think that experience of having a couple majors under your belt will help you going into tomorrow?
SE RI PAK: It should give me a lot of confidence, no doubt, because you're there before, which is that just helps you with great experience and playing heading into Sunday. If you're 2‑back or you're leading, just it's probably as much as I could handle the pressures and just focus as much as I could. Yeah, that makes it helpful heading into Sunday, no doubt.
KELLY THESIER: Good afternoon, everyone. We'd like to welcome Charley Hull into the interview room. First off, congratulations. What a fabulous round today. 6‑under 66, now sitting 8‑under overall, just a few shots off the lead of a major championship. What was working really well in your game today?
CHARLEY HULL: I hit it quite well. My irons were pretty good and I hit some good drives. I hit some bad drives toward the end which I'm working on on the range. But holed good putts my when I got myself in trouble, I was able to get out of it. I'm pretty happy with how it's going.
KELLY THESIER: I'd say pretty happy. 66 is pretty good. You played in seven previous LPGA events, but everybody remembers the Solheim Cup experience from last year. In fact, your best LPGA finish came the week after when you played at the CN Canadian Women's Open and finished tied for 17th. What did that experience in the Solheim Cup do for you?
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah, well, the experience helped me with my putting because when I had that putt to be, well, to go 1‑up at the last against Lexi and Paula, it was only like four feet. I hit my 9‑iron close, and that kind of made me think I can putt under pressure. Then it's given me confidence for the rest of the year to now.
But it's put a bit of pressure on me as well to perform out there because I haven't won yet until two weeks ago when I won my first pro event, now I feel like I deserve to be in some LPGA events. I got some invites, and I've kind of got the monkey off my back. I've got the win and hopefully there are many more coming.
KELLY THESIER: A few big weeks for you. You won, and a few weeks ago turned 18, pretty exciting stuff. What is it having that first professional win under your belt? What's that done for your confidence level? Is that a big thing to get under injure belt finally?
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah, well, I shot 9‑under in the last round, and I won. When I won I thought, all right, I feel a lot better. But I think it was because I have imagined myself winning so many times and dreaming it, but actually I made it when it turned into reality, it was like all right. I kind of expected it. And I really want to win again now because I've got the bug for it. I suppose anyone would have the bug for that, but it was just all right.
Q. Can you talk about the decision not to go to Q‑school for LPGA last year, and then have you had a hard time getting sponsor exemptions starts on the LPGA this year?
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah, I didn't want to go to Q‑school last year, because first of all I missed some events on the LET. And second of all, I was really enjoying my friends and stuff at home, just being a kid, going out and going to parties and stuff. I don't want to miss that living over here full‑time at the moment, because I was still 17. I still wanted my childhood in a way.
I've got another 20 or hopefully 30 years of playing golf. So you look at Laura Davies, and she's had a great career, so there was no rush for me to get over here. That's it, really. What was your second question?
Q. Starts on the LPGA?
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah, I got some invites. I've got Swinging Skirts and Kingsmill so far.
Q. I heard a little bit from what you were talking about that you said you're a little bit clumsy. You consider yourself clumsy. Do you find yourself up near the top of the leaderboard right now, does that make you nervous at all about the thought of jumping into the pond tomorrow?
CHARLEY HULL: No, I haven't really thought about that. I'm not really going to think about that. You know, I'm not clumsy all the time, just like sometimes. Yeah, but that's it, really.
Q. You played here last year and finished 38th?
CHARLEY HULL: Two years ago.
Q. Yeah, two years ago you finished 38th. What do you remember from that that is helping you this week on this golf course?
CHARLEY HULL: I don't know, really. Just pace putting. I can't really remember too much from two years ago. I can just remember when I shot 4‑under, and I thought, wow, that's a great round to shoot 4‑under in a major. And this year I come back and shoot 6‑under. So, yeah, it feels pretty good, just to be steady around this golf course.
Q. You said winning was good, but maybe not as over the top as you want it. Would winning a major be over the top for you?
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah, definitely, it would be the best feeling ever. It would be the best moment of my life because I'm going to watch The Masters next week, and I'm really looking forward to that. You know, it would just make The Masters even better.
Q. To what extent do you get tired of the, oh, so young kinds of questions, reference to your youth and the consistency of those kinds of questions?
CHARLEY HULL: Well, I appreciate living life as full, being young at the moment and you're not going to get asked these questions for a long time. You know, I enjoy it being good young. There are a lot of great young players coming up, especially Lydia, Lexi and everyone.
But I think age is just a number. I think it's more about experience, yeah, it's good.
Q. We know about the autograph signing with Paula. But I'm curious the two names at the top of the board, Michelle and Lexi. How much do you look up to them? What is your first memory of maybe watching them play?
CHARLEY HULL: I remember going to (Indiscernible) when I was 9 years old because I played in a Pro‑Am with Morgan Pressel. I remember watching Michelle Wie on the range there. So I wasn't really too sure who she was, but I would see people talking about Michelle and then Lexi also when she was really young. But, yeah, that was about it, really.
Q. Is there someone on the Tour that you look up to? Someone that you consider an icon?
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah, I think Suzann Pettersen and Lydia Ko.
KELLY THESIER: Is it funny to look up to Lydia when she's a little bit younger than you?
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah, it is. But I just know she's a great player, and I think anyone can look up to Lydia even if they're 20 years older than her. I think she's a great player. I like her. She's a good friend. I played with her a bit over the last couple of months, and she's a great kid and such a nice person and down to earth. So I think she's brilliant for the Tour.
Q. I saw you guys become friends last year actually at the CN Canadian Women's Open, really talking about being young. Do you guys ever share what the experiences are like being one of that younger group that's out here that might be a little younger than some of the others?
CHARLEY HULL: No, not really. I don't know. We don't really talk about that too much. But, no, not really.