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ANA INSPIRATION MEDIA CONFERENCE
March 8, 2019
Rancho Mirage, California
BRIANNE WIGLEY: This is Brianne Wigley with LPGA Communications here. I'm happy to be joined by two-time ANA Inspiration Champion Brittany Lincicome, and seven-time major champion and 2013 ANA Champion, Inbee Park.
Thanks for joining us this morning to preview golf's first major championship. The 2019 ANA Inspiration, which will take place this year April 4 through 7.
I will start with questions for each of our past champions, and then I will open it up to any media questions.
Inbee, seven major titles to your name, Inbee. What do you remember from your 2013 ANA Inspiration and how special was it to make that jump into Poppy's Pond?
INBEE PARK: 2013 ANA Inspiration was a very memorable tournament for me, as well, because it was a really memorable year for me, 2013, starting ANA Inspiration, I have won three majors in a row for that year, so that was really the high start of the season.
Obviously I have walked by Poppy's Pond many times, but I never really got to jump for a while and finally I got a chance to do that, and putting my name with the greatest names of golf was just an amazing feeling.
BRIANNE WIGLEY: This year is the 10th anniversary of your ANA Inspiration.
First of all, can you believe that and what are your memories from that first major?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: They were awesome. I played in that event many, many times and had always envisioned jumping in Poppy's Pond. To eagle the last hole the way I did it, it was just amazing and then getting to jump in the pond, there's really no feeling like it.
It's the greatest tradition that we have on the LPGA Tour, and obviously I've gotten to do it twice now, and it gets better and better every time I get to do it.
There's just something about Palm Springs, when you drive in and you have the mountains with the snow on top of them and the beautiful flowers and the beautiful golf course, it just puts you in a happy place. So it's definitely one of my favorite places to play on Tour for sure.
Q. Inbee, we haven't seen you too much over the last couple months. I'm just curious why you decided to take some time away, and kind of what have you been doing with your time?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I always kind of started the season either in Thailand or Singapore for most of my career. Just two weeks in the heat, in the last few years that I have done that, it really burned me out so early in the season.
So I kind of wanted to start the season a little bit later to have some more energy in the middle of the season. So yeah, I decided to start in Singapore and yeah, I mean, I haven't been playing the LPGA Tour since Evian, but I played a couple of events back last fall in Korea.
I wouldn't say I took too much time off, but yeah, that off-season was definitely feeling great. I took at least two to three months off from golf, and yeah, it was great. I played last week back on the LPGA Tour, and it definitely felt great, back seeing a lot of good friends and back in the competition, yeah, it was a great feeling.
Q. I actually have a question for each of you. I'll start with Brittany. What's been the best advice that you've gotten so far about playing pregnant?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: What was it? What's the best so far of being pregnant?
Q. About playing while pregnant.
BRITTANY LINCICOME: Oh, well, there's not a lot of expectation, which is nice, so maybe I'll just kind of get out of my own way and go out there and have some fun. I've said this before, you know, play like my 10-year-old self when I played in junior golf and had no cares in the world and just went out and had fun. I think that's what this year is going to be.
And there's so many "what if" questions. And I've talked to Gerina and I've talked to Stacy, trying to figure out like how long I can actually play for.
And I had a little bit of an awakening because Gerina was pregnant at Diamond Resorts and apparently she was 23 weeks -- an outing -- (audio interference)-- I'll be about 32 weeks. Gerina and I had a laugh, she said, "I couldn't see my toes at 32 weeks."
It will be interesting. I'll play as long as I possibly can but the summer months are going to be tough because they are going to be really hot. It's a lot of walking.
So we're just going to play it week-by-week and just kind of see what happens and we're just going to roll with it, but it's going to be a very interesting and obviously very fun year.
Q. How are you feeling, just a side note?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: Awesome. Literally I feel bad telling people this. Like if I wouldn't have taken a pregnancy test, I would have no clue I'm pregnant. I've had no sickness. I've had no cramping, no nothing. We went for our 12-week appointment, did the blood work and the baby looks great. I have an appointment next week. It doesn't feel real yet. We're having a gender reveal on Monday, which I'm super excited about, but yeah, I've had zero symptoms or anything.
So it's kind of a weird feeling. Like I know there's a baby in there, but I'm just not feeling anything yet. I'm not complaining, though. I've talked to a lot of moms and they said they had been really, really sick the whole pregnancy, and obviously I feel super lucky.
Q. Wow, that's amazing. So Inbee, I'm just wondering, what motivates you these days? What would constitute a good 2019 for you? What gets you back out there grinding?
INBEE PARK: First of all, I'd like to congratulate Brittany because I didn't know about it at all. Congratulations, Brittany.
BRITTANY LINCICOME: Thank you.
INBEE PARK: Yeah, what was your question, 2019?
Q. What motivates you? You've accomplished so much already. What's motivating you?
INBEE PARK: I think a lot of things can motivate me, and it's not just the result in golf. It can be the little things that can motivate me.
The most important thing for me is just enjoy the game and enjoying what I am doing, and enjoying competition. I think that really is a motivation for me at the moment, and you know, I have been kind of in and out of the Tour, and you know, when I was not playing the Tour, I really missed the Tour and I really know what I want to do, and I realize how much I didn't appreciate what I was doing.
Yeah, that's kind of the things that really motivates me now, and I really get to appreciate what I am doing, what I am good at, and yeah, just the competition, I missed it since I didn't do it.
There's things that I didn't realize before that I realized a lot and stepping away from the game really helped me. I'm really ready to play again. I think I was just a little bit burned out from a lot of things, maybe outside stress a lot.
But now I think I'm really ready to focus again.
Q. For Inbee, Pernilla Lindberg was just here this week for the Media Day, and she said looking back on the playoff last year, she didn't really realize that she had played eight playoff holes until somebody from the LPGA said, "You're going to the eighth playoff hole."
When you look back on last year, does it seem crazy or does it seem like it was a shorter playoff, a longer playoff? How do you look back on that now?
INBEE PARK: Well, that's definitely the longest playoff I ever had in my career. It was just not finished in one day. We actually had to finish on the second day. Yeah, it was some kind of different experience for me.
I didn't feel like I played bad. Just Pernilla played really well the last couple of holes that we played together. It was probably one that I look back to the most, looking at last year, I really wanted to do well in that ANA Inspiration, and I did, but I just didn't get the win.
But yeah, I really feel like that course really suits my eye, and I have been playing very good over the years in ANA Inspiration, and the relationship we have very special and I look forward to playing again this year.
Q. When you played well there, obviously winning once, losing the epic playoff, what is it that's worked for your game that week that put you at the top of the leaderboard? Was it just the putting? Was it just the ball-striking or does it have to be everything?
INBEE PARK: Well, I think it has to be everything, but a more simple thing is that you need to hole the putts obviously. Not holing the putts, you really can't win the golf tournament.
So ball-striking has to be steady and your putts have to be dropping. Obviously that last year, that tournament, I hit the ball really, really good. Just in the playoff I missed a couple of really good birdie opportunities. I'm just working on the putter a little bit since I played in Singapore.
I feel really happy with the ball-striking, but my putting was just a little bit off. I'm just trying to get that on line and get going.
Q. Brittany, you had a similar situation a few years ago with a long playoff here. You've won here twice. What is it in those two years that you did that enabled you to win the tournament?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: Got lucky (laughing). Hitting two fabulous shots into 18, one to get into the win and one to get into the playoff. In to 15 when I won, I was just going for the green, trying to make a birdie and trying to make a few extra dollars on the weekend, never thinking I was going to hit this miraculous shot again and have a chance to make another eagle.
It's just must be your time and your place maybe, but like Inbee said, you definitely have to be putting well. But obviously being a long hitter, if I can drive it in the fairway, that helps. It's just such a beautiful place that everyone has a smile on their place.
Q. You said that you had not played for two to three months. Is that the longest you've gone without playing? Did you not pick up a club at all, and what was that kind of like?
INBEE PARK: Oh, no, not at all. 2016 and 2017, I was injured and I was away probably like six months or so. So I wouldn't say that was the longest break.
I think it was just regular break for me, and I think it was almost the same as the other players, as well, because their off-season was a couple months, right, if I'm right.
Yeah, I mean, I have played, probably took about two to three weeks off, like off golf, golfing, but I have been constantly practicing after that. So yeah.
Q. Brittany, just being pregnant, has that changed any of your preparations or your expectations at all as you get ready to head to the first major of the year?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: Literally just going to enjoy it. You know, whether I play well or play bad, it's a different time in my life and my husband's life, and obviously we have a miracle on the way and it is what it is.
We're just going to enjoy the ride. I'm hoping to play well in the few events that I get to play, but if I don't, it's not the end of the world and obviously there's a bigger goal at the end of having a healthy baby.
I'm just going to really enjoy it and have some fun with it this year.
Q. Is there something that you haven't accomplished yet in your career that you're desperate to do? I can't think of what that would be but --
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I really think I was lucky enough to achieve a lot of things I really wanted to, and probably even more than what I wanted to.
Yeah, I really appreciate what I have done. I think it is just wanting too much, if I want to achieve something more. I don't know, I wouldn't say it is my goal, but a lot of people around me is saying, oh, maybe you should win Evian again since it became a major. Yeah, a lot of people wouldn't think that, and winning Evian would be great.
But like I said playing well and winning golf tournaments, winning major championships is obviously very important in the golf career. But for me right now, it is more important to play in a healthy body form and just enjoy the game. I don't want to be burned out so early. I really want to keep this enjoyment going because I want to play longer.
But obviously winning the major is always a thrill.
BRITTANY LINCICOME: You take Evian; I'll take the U.S. Open. (Laughter).
Q. How many events do you think you'll play in this season?
INBEE PARK: You know, I think just counting the LPGA events, I think about -- a little bit more than last year. Probably 15 to 17, 18 events. I usually play in a few sponsor's events in Korea. Including everything, I'm thinking 20, 20 to 23 events.
Q. Are you in Vegas now? Are you in America?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I'm back in Vegas. I'm still a little bit in a jet-lag, so just woke up, barely. (Laughter).
BRIANNE WIGLEY: Having two wins at ANA, how does that affect your confidence going into the first major of the year?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: It's a huge confidence builder. I mean, just the shots that I've hit there, and I've played there so many times and have so many wonderful memories. Like I said, just the drive in, the flowers, there's not one blade of grass out of position and the greens are perfect, and just everything about it just is so beautiful that is just is a great place to go play golf.
I'm happy that we have two events to warm up with before that event because I haven't played since diamond resorts, which feels like an eternity ago. There's definitely going to be some rust on this first couple. Excited to knock that off and be ready for ANA.
Yeah, there's a lot of great memories that I can pull just from playing in that event so many times, and it just is a wonderful place.
Q. I'll give this to both of you. Inbee, first. How has women's golf evolved over the course of your career from when you started to now as far as the calibre of play and the exposure the sport has gotten, etc.
INBEE PARK: Well, I think golf has been getting better and better over the years that I have played. You know, we had tough years in the middle, but we improved a lot. Obviously we got more tournaments and we got a lot of variety of sponsors interested in women's golf, and obviously golf being in the Olympics was a big help, even if you're not a golfer, a lot of people started to watch golf and started to get interested into golf.
I think it has been really a lot of positives over the years, and I think we are going the right way. You know, hopefully a lot more young girls pick up the game of golf, and hopefully we get a lot more competition. It is always exciting to see great players coming over from Korea, as well. It seems like somehow the Korean players are developing really, really well. So really happy with that and the variety of winners that we have been having over the few years, it's amazing to see.
Q. Brittany, congratulations. The same question, please.
BRITTANY LINCICOME: Yeah, Inbee nailed it. I just think the exposure with the Olympics and the International Crown, Solheim Cup, fun events like that really gets different fans watching the LPGA, and then what Commissioner Mike Whan has done for the LPGA, I think we have like 33 events now. Just getting us more air time and more exposure and more events obviously is really helping.
With the LPGA Girls' Golf program, we're getting young girls involved with the game of golf. They are coming out way more every week, which is awesome. We're signing a lot of autographs for them trying to get them involved. I think it's just a combination of social media even, just getting more eyes watching us, everything we're doing with the LPGA is just awesome.
BRIANNE WIGLEY: Thank you so much, Brittany and Inbee. Hope you both have a great weekend.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports