Wildfire Golf Club at JW Marriott Desert Ridge
Third-Round Notes and Interviews
March 21, 2015
Currently 17 players sit within six shots of the lead entering Sunday’s final round and that list includes Stacy Lewis, who is only two behind Kim at 14-under. The last two winners of the JTBC Founders Cup – Karrie Webb and Lewis -- have each gone low in the final round, shooting rounds of 63 and 64 respectively, to take home the title.So it’s no surprise that Lewis already has her sights set on going low on Sunday.
“It’s going to be a shootout,” Lewis said. “ It’s going to be what this golf course sets up for and the leaderboard this year sets up for it even more. For me, I think it almost makes things easier because you have to just go out there and play and see what happens. You can’t watch one person or the people in your groups. You’ve just got to go play golf.”
Rookie Alison Lee showed that low scores can be fired this week as she tied the course record with a 63 of her own on Saturday to move into a tie for third at 13-under-par. The 20-year-old California native will have an opportunity to capture her first LPGA victory as she’ll be in the penultimate group on Sunday.
“I really haven’t even thought about that yet,” Lee said of being in contention for her first LPGA win. “I’m still trying to sink in how my round went today but yeah, it’s really weird. Obviously since junior golf and to college and now professional golf, I’ve been slowly progressively moving up; and to be here and to be able to play well out on the LPGA Tour against these professional golfers, I mean, just that in itself, I feel really blessed and really great and really confident that I can compete with a lot of the girls out here.”
Among the other players just a few shots back of Kim are Rolex Rankings No. 1 Lydia Ko (-12) and LPGA Tour winners Sandra Gal, Lizette Salas and Amy Yang who all sit at 11-under. The 17-year-old Ko already has one victory under her belt in 2015, capturing her sixth LPGA Tour win at the ISPS Handa Australian Women’s Open last month.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
12 - Hyo Joo Kim has played in 12 LPGA events and has yet to finish outside of the top-25, with seven top-10 finishes and a win at the Evian Championship
5/7 - Five of the top-7 players on the leaderboard are first or second year LPGA players (Hyo Joo Kim, Kim Kaufman, Alison Lee, Lydia Ko and Ha Na Jang)
16 - 16 players six within six shots of the lead, last season, Karrie Webb rallied from six shots back on Sunday to win
7 - Number of countries represented in the top-15 on the leaderboard
83 - 83 players made the cut
TIME FOR A BREAKTHROUGH?
Stacy Lewis has found herself in contention many times this season but so far she has been unable to walk away with a victory. Lewis has finished in the top 11 in all four of her events so far in 2015, including a runner-up finish at the Honda LPGA Thailand and a third place finish at the HSBC Women’s Champions.
But unlike previous seasons when Lewis has been very solid in the final round, she has struggled to close at times this year. Her final round scoring average has been 72.5, more than three strokes higher than her average in any other round this season.
Lewis has been making some tweaks to her swing over the past six months, trying to get back to the form that she had in 2012 when she felt it was in its best place. That, she said, has led to some struggles of reverting back to her old swing when the pressure is on.
Lewis was asked if being in contention so many times this season without a win has been frustrating for her or if she looked at it as a positive sign that her swing is getting closer to being back to what she wants it to be.
“Probably a little bit of both,” Lewis said. “I was pretty excited about just putting myself in contention just because of what I was working on with my golf swing. I was glad that I was able to kind of put myself there.
“But then weakness of it kind of came out. I mean, so there’s good and bad in it. You all want to win. I mean, that’s the ultimate, but just knowing that I’m working in the right direction and going in the right direction. I mean, ultimately you want to be playing your best golf this summer, not necessarily in February.”
Lewis’ average per round this season
Round 1 – 67.2
Round 2 – 69.4
Round 3 – 68.8
Round 4 – 72.5
GOING TO DISNEYLAND
Currently sitting tied for third, Alison Lee has just about as decorated amateur career as anyone in golf having earned co-medalist honors at Q-School, the inaugural ANNIKA Award given to the nation’s top female collegiate golfer, playing in Curtis Cups and five LPGA events as an amateur. With that background you would think Lee was born with a club in her hand but that isn’t the case.
“I actually had this conversation with my dad like last week because we were looking through pictures,” Lee said. “And I found a picture of me when I was three with like a little plastic club on the putting green, and my dad told me that he was like a golf fanatic. He told me I didn’t like it at all. Like I didn’t like to practice. I didn’t like being out there.”
So what did Lee’s father do to get his daughter out on the course.
“He bribed me, like what a normal dad would,” Lee said with a smile. “He said, “Okay if you come out and practice, play golf, not just run around for a couple days, we’ll go to Disneyland.” So that’s what got me started. And then yeah, I remember, having season passes to every single amusement park. My mom told me she hates Universal Studios now because she’s been there so many times.”
While the bribes may have worked for a time, Lee’s competitive nature eventually took over.
“Yeah, I think I played in my first tournament when I was seven. It was like a small local tournament, but I won that tournament, and that’s what sparked in me the competition, being in competition, playing. That’s what got me started and, yeah, the rest is history.”
CALM AS KAUFMAN
A consistence presence on the leaderboard and tied for third heading into the final round of JTBC Founders Cup, most might think a second-year Tour player would carry a lot of pressure and nerves. Not Kim Kaufman. Kaufman has been able to remain calm and relaxed out here on the golf course this week and the set up for her surroundings could be playing a large part of it.
Her mom is in town and they celebrated her birthday, which helped her not think too much about her game, but another factor helped keep mind at ease- her alma mater Texas Tech Golf Team.
“The college team here is great,” Kaufman said. “I went to the Suns game with them, been out with my mom and my uncle. I think everybody from South Dakota winters down here. It really helps take you mind off it.”
Just three shots off the lead, Kaufman will look to make a few more aggressive moves Sunday in hopes of her first LPGA Tour Title here in Phoenix, Arizona.
“Going into tomorrow, might go for it a little bit more being the last day,” Kaufman said. “Be a little more aggressive. But overall, you’ve just got to make some putts.”
RESPECT YOUR ELDERS
For most people, 30 doesn’t seem old. But Stacy Lewis knows that with all of the young talent emerging in women’s golf, she has quickly become one of the veteran players out on the LPGA Tour.
That is pretty evident looking at the leaderboard following Saturday’s third round of the JTBC Founders Cup. Of the top 7 players on the leaderboard, no one is older than 23 besides Lewis.
“I do feel old, yes,” Lewis said with a laugh. “We knew it was coming. A lot of the young Koreans were coming out, and so it’s not surprising. I mean, they are fearless. They don’t have the experience, so that’s hopefully to my advantage. But it is a little strange to be ten years older than some of these girls.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I’m super relieved. The worst part is going to sleep thinking about that one shot or that one putt you have to hit. I think that’s the hardest part. So just being able to do the normal stuff in the morning and not having to worry about going to bed so early, you can watch some basketball tonight. Just kind of have a normal night, which is good, since we haven’t had that yet this week.” -Stacy Lewis on getting the third round complete on Saturday