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June 17, 2014

Stacy Lewis


MIKE TROSTEL: Good afternoon. Like to welcome everyone back to the 69th U.S. Open. I'd like to welcome Stacy Lewis here to the Media Center. This is Stacy's 8th U.S. Open, best finish a tie for third in 2008 at Interlachen. Stacy has played on the victorious 2008 USA Curtis Cup team, first player to go 5-0 in the match's history, has won two Majors in her career, the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship and the 2013 Women's British Open. You're off to a terrific start in 2014, 11 top-10s in 13 tournaments, wins the North Texas LPGA Shoot-Out and the Shop Rite classic and now first in the Rolex World Rankings. You've played at a high level for several years, but you've really kicked it into gear this spring. What's clicked for you?

STACY LEWIS: Well, I think -- I just played really solid over the last year. I think the more you're in contention, the more comfortable you get there, I'm starting to learn how to win different ways. And learn how to just get the ball in the hole better. I think that I would be pretty frustrated if I didn't have those two wins coming into this year. So I think just getting more comfortable there. And I don't know, it's been fun making putts and winning tournaments is always fun.

MIKE TROSTEL: Now we're out here at you Pinehurst No. 2, a little bit of a different look of a golf course than what you're normally used to, no rough, the native areas out there with the sand and wire grass? You said you played 18 holes earlier, what did you think hitting out of those native areas?

STACY LEWIS: Well I tried to keep it out of the native areas, that was the goal. But I did, I hit a few balls out of it, just to kind of see how the club was reacting and really if you got a good lie, you could hit it pretty solid. Actually, the ball kind of jumps out of there. So it's all a toss up, all depends on the lie. But I love the golf course, I love the way you have to think your way around. You really have to -- it's position golf, it's where do I need to be for every hole location and that suits my game. That's the way I play every week. So I think I have that as an advantage. It's just really cool -- it's just a cool golf course, just to walk out there and see it, it's just really cool.

MIKE TROSTEL: Great. We'll open it up for questions.

Q. Staying with the golf course, how much experience have you had with turtle back greens and chipping areas like that out there and what do you think of that?
STACY LEWIS: Well, that's what I've done, I spent most of my practice rounds in those chipping areas around the edges of the greens, because I think you're going to end up there more of the times than you're going to end up on the green. So I've hit hybrids, I've putted, I've used pitching wedge, I've used 56, I've tried a bunch of different shots and it really just depends on the type of grass you're hitting off of. There's different variations, there's some thin stuff, the brown stuff's actually the best to chip off of, you can get a ton of spin off of that. You've just got to pick the right shot at the right time is kind of really what it comes down to.

Q. The putting surfaces?
STACY LEWIS: Putting? The greens are great. This morning they were running pretty quick, just obviously because they were freshly cut versus yesterday afternoon. But they're running fast, there's not a ton of ball marks. The greens look really good actually.

Q. Do you think the heat is going to be a factor for this championship?
STACY LEWIS: Heat. Oh, yeah, I mean yes and no. I think that we all -- we play golf, we play outside, we play in the heat. It is what it is. I grew up in Texas and I live in Florida, so I have no problem with the heat. I welcome it.

Q. I saw you pick up the black mesh to see what it looked like under there, on one of the holes. What did you find? What do you think about those collection areas?
STACY LEWIS: They're really -- it wasn't, it wasn't as bad as I thought it was. The grass was just more burned out there and I think they were just trying to keep what grass is there, keep it there. There's definitely some areas though around those greens you can get in some divots. And I hit some shots out of there, it's just kind of is what it is. So -- but with the burned out kind of the way that it is, it actually makes it a little bit easier.

Q. Have you formulated already a kind of plan in terms of long irons, rescue, drivers, off certain tees and what goes into your thinking and formulation of what clubs to hit? A couple examples would help, actually, out there.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, there's definitely a few holes where you have to kind of position yourself. A lot of it obviously depends on where they put the tees. You look at 7, you could hit from the back tee if it's into the wind you could hit driver. They move the tee up a little bit, you could hit 3-wood or hybrid and if they move the tee up even more, you're -- I would probably not be going for the green but probably just hit an iron down there and have 8- or 9-iron into the green. So it's really, for me, it's hitting it to the fattest part of the fairway and that's kind of what it comes down to. I think if you're in the fairway, you're going to be in a good spot at the end of the week. So I like thinking my way around, I like that the USGA moves tees around, it makes you think instead of just getting up there on the same hole every day.

Q. Does it look like they had a U.S. Open the week before out there or how does it look in terms of conditions?
STACY LEWIS: It's a lot better than I thought it was going to be. I can tell you that. When I came here, I came here three weeks ago and played and once I saw the golf course, I knew that -- I became more comfortable with this whole idea and knew that it -- that it wouldn't be as bad. The worst parts, there's some divots, there's a lot of divots on 1. 1 and 10 in the lay up spot. But then other than that, we're not hitting where the guys hit from in the fairways. So all that is okay. The worst part is just those collection areas around the greens, which we all knew it was going to be, so you just kind of have to figure out how to hit those shots.

Q. I wouldn't imagine that turtle back greens and heat and missing the fairways would bother you as much, considering the condition you were in years ago of the uncertainty of whether you would play again. How have you come from scoliosis to No. 1 in the world?
STACY LEWIS: I don't know. It's a pretty broad question. But I think a lot of what I went through, my back has just made me the person that I am. It made me persevere through some things and kind of get that attitude that my back is always against the wall and I got to find my way out. That's the way I play golf. I never give up, I always try to find a way to just get the ball in the hole as quick as I can, even if I'm hitting it terrible. To be No. 1 in the world, you have to play consistently. You can't miss cuts and finish 50th, even if you're 25th going into the last day, you got to find a way to move up and play better. So that's just kind of the personality I got I think from all that I went through.

Q. Three questions under the promise I won't ask another one the rest of the week if that's all right.
STACY LEWIS: Oh, man. Tough.

Q. U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open conditioning of a golf course, scale of 1 to 10, where would you put it?
STACY LEWIS: A nine. Do you want me to expand on that?

Q. If you want to, yeah. I would have thought maybe less the way you're talking about the divots?
STACY LEWIS: No, I think that's the only way it makes it a nine. Because the greens are perfect, the fairways -- I mean they're not perfect but they're not supposed to be here. So I think that our TOUR -- we -- a lot of weeks we don't get good greens like this. So honestly it's a treat for us to be playing on these good, fast greens.

Q. If you were to make an argument that the women should have gone first, what's your best argument?
STACY LEWIS: I don't know. I thought it would be just keeping the greens, I thought they could keep the greens softer for us and then make them more firm for the guys at the end. So that's the only reason I thought we should go first. Because either way, whoever goes second, they're going to have to deal with divots and going to have to deal with the chipping areas, whatever. So I just thought it would be easier to go from soft greens to firm greens, firmer as you go on. But they have proved us wrong on that.

Q. Lastly, couple guys last week thought that they were going to just pour water on the greens so that you guys would have a better winning score than them. Karrie this morning said that they didn't get the score they wanted from Martin so they're going to try and get it from you. What is your position there?
STACY LEWIS: I think the golf course is going to play hard. I don't know if we shoot the numbers that those guys were shooting last week. They were hitting some pretty short clubs into 18 and from the back tee we're hitting 4s and 5-irons and probably even some hybrids and 3-woods from other girls. So there's just certain holes that are going to play harder for us. And I just, I don't know, I just don't see the scores going too low. I think with the heat, the fairways are going to start to run out, those doglegs become a little bit harder to hold into, so I just see the golf course getting harder as the week goes on.

Q. Following up on the men, did you watch the men either on television or in person and what did you learn from them and did you have any conversations with men about how to play the course?
STACY LEWIS: Well, I did probably the opposite of everybody else. I really didn't watch much of it. I watched a little bit toward the end, because mainly I wanted to see good golf, I didn't want to see balls running off greens and doing this and that. I wanted to have some good positive memories of the course. So I watched some at the end, but it was more from a strategy standpoint on how -- I came three weeks ago and I really have a plan in my head how I want to play this golf course. What was cool is that Martin Kaymer, you watched him, he hits a lot of fades off tees and that's what I like to do. So it was cool to kind of watch him and see like, yeah, that's the shot I saw off that tee. So if anything I got just some affirmation of my strategy and what I have going into the week. And I didn't come anywhere near this town until Monday morning. This week is so long, Majors are so hard, the days, just the tournament rounds are long, so I wanted to conserve as much energy as I could.

Q. A question about Lucy Li, have you met her, have you seen her hit a golf ball and in general or personally, what is your impression of her at her age qualifying?
STACY LEWIS: Well her locker is right below mine in the locker room, which is a little strange. But I saw her on the range this morning for the first time and didn't really watch her hit any balls. Just how little she was and the pigtails kind of caught me off guard. But I'm not a big fan of it. She qualified, so we can't say anything about that. You qualify for an open, it's a great thing. But I just -- I like to see kids be successful at every level before they come out here. I like to -- I would like to maybe see her play some U.S. Ams, play the Pub Links and get into match play, where you have some experience. I just like to see kids learn how to win before they come get beat up out here.

Q. A quick follow-up then, what do you see should be the restrictions or minimums for the U.S. Open?
STACY LEWIS: I don't think you can put any restrictions on it. I don't think -- I don't think that's the answer. Obviously we have our handicap restrictions and everything, so I don't think you can put a restriction on it. But I don't know if from the parents' side you think you kind of wonder -- when I found out she qualified, I said, well where does she go from here? What do you do next? You qualify for an Open at 11, what do you do next? You know? So it's kind of -- I don't know. If it was my kid, I wouldn't let her play in the U.S. Open qualifier at 11, but that's just me.

Q. Bad breaks, bad luck is inevitable at a place like this. Can you talk about how you're a little more mentally prepared for stuff like that? Because you could have a temper from time to time in the past and how you'll handle that this week.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, it's something that I've really tried to work on this year is to stay a little bit more calm out there and to stay a little bit more level. Still get pumped up and get excited, but just not let the bad stuff kind of get to me. I really worked on it and I think it's -- I really do think it's getting better. So I think the winning, the wins at Texas and Shop Rite, the way I won, kind of winning going away and taking care of my game and taking care of what I could control. I mean in Texas I kicked my own golf ball and I still won the tournament. So I think that show as little bit of something there. I just, I don't know, I don't know how, there's no secret formula to it, it's just you got to move on. I think it's almost easier on this golf course, because you know it's bound to happen at some point.

Q. Have you learned anything since you moved to Palm Beach County and have been able to practice alongside some of the PGA TOUR players that's made you a better golfer out here?
STACY LEWIS: I don't know, I think I've gotten a play with some great players and I've said it all along, I've learned a lot from them. It's been fun to be -- to play with Michelle a lot when we're at home and on off weeks. She's got a great short game, so it's fun to kind of learn from her and watch her hit some shots. The guys, you can certainly learn a lot from short game-wise, too. So I think it's helped a lot moving down there, just to be around more pros and more really good golfers. But it was cool last week I got to play with Nick Price and so he had -- we talked a little bit about course management and some things like that and he had some good advice for me. So I think any time you can get around those great players, you can learn a lot.

Q. Quick follow-up. Michelle said she sees how fearlessly they play and if they miss a shot, oh, well, they tried it and that was a mindset that she didn't necessarily have. Do you see that?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I mean I think that -- I don't know if it's good or bad thing, but I think the way the guys play is they get out there and they just swing hard. They don't -- it looks like at least they don't really care where it's going, they're just going out there and swinging hard. But at the same time they know they can go get up-and-down from wherever it is. So I play, I definitely play a little bit different. I'm not out there just swinging for the fences. I'm definitely trying to strategize more and kind of think my way around. But at the same time you can learn from them just hitting those shots out of the weeds. I mean they made those shots out of the weeds last week look so easy, what they're really not.

Q. You won a couple of weeks ago to take back the No. 1 ranking from Inbee. She answers in the last event. What affects does that have on the two of you and if you could stand back and what effect do you think it has on the women's game as a whole, especially going into the U.S. Open?
STACY LEWIS: Well, I mean I think it's a great thing. I think competition makes each -- it makes each of us better. I think that Inbee made me start working harder and play better last year and then the golf I played has certainly made her kind of get on her horse again. So it's great, competition's always great, because it makes everybody better. And when everybody's playing better golf it's better for the sport, it's better for TV, it grows the game. So all in all, I think it's a great thing and for Inbee it was just a matter of time, she's a good enough player that she's going to figure it out.

Q. USGA's avowed goal in staging these back-to-back comparisons to see women basically hitting similar clubs into the greens. You said you're not playing your second shots from the same places the guys are. Are you not reaching them or going past them and is the setup such that you're hitting similar clubs you think or are you hitting them from farther back and therefore much different clubs?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, there's some variety in it. One, obviously everybody hits it to the same spot, so we're hitting two more clubs into the green. But then you can go to 18, where I didn't -- a lot of the guys looked like they were hitting wedges and 9-irons into the green and from that back tee I hit 4-iron. So I think there's some holes that, yeah, they're going to play similar, but then there's some holes that we hit hybrids into. I didn't see any of the guys hitting hybrids into any holes. So it will be interesting to see what they do with the setup. But I think some holes are still going to play longer for us.

Q. With the U.S. Open being kind of like the national championship, obviously the last several years there's been a lot of international winners. What would it mean to you to kind of put an end to that and be an American winner and get bragging rights for the United States?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, this is kind of the only tournament I guess we would have to answer those questions still. Because the Americans, we have been playing some great golf here over the last six months, and it kind of seems like the way things have been going this year that an American is due to win this thing. So for me it would be an honor. It's a championship that I think any American player just has dreams of winning. And it's one of those that makes your career. So whether it happens this week or another week or, you know, I don't want to just win one, I want to win a lot of them. So I think if you go in it with that perspective it makes it a little bit easier.

Q. You mentioned playing with Michelle earlier, I'm curious as you've gotten to know her a little bit, what have you learned about her and sort of have you -- how have you seen her change since she was just sort of a kid out here playing with you guys?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I mean I've only gotten to know Michelle pretty well over the last year. Couple years, really. Really since she got out of school and did her the thing in college, she's, it's like a different person. She's grown up, she's taken ownership of her game. Her relationship with her parents and her family is so much better. She's out there calling the shots instead of the other way around. And it's great to see, because she's playing golf and she's having fun with it. She's one of the biggest nerds you'll ever meet. She's goofy, she's funny. So you may see her super serious, but she's quite the opposite.

Q. Before the tournament Martin Kaymer said he would be happy to take 8-over par. He was a little off on his prediction. Do you have one in mind for this week? A number you like?
STACY LEWIS: I mean, I'm never good with that. I don't know. I think that any, I think any U.S. Open you're making pars, it's a good thing. So I don't know, I don't like numbers, I don't like putting a benchmark out there. I'm going to go out there and try to just minimize the mistakes, really. If you get short sided, you get in trouble, get your bogey and get out of there. I think that's what's going to help you win at the end of the week.

Q. Off topic. You were at 30 Rock obviously for the KPMG announcement, from Rochester. There was some sadness, obviously hearing the news. Can you just give us your thought on what you're leaving behind, but obviously it's going to be good for the future.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, you know, I think we were all -- we're all sad to be leaving Rochester, but there's still a possibility that we could be back. I wouldn't say it's the end. But I think we had such an opportunity with the PGA of America and with KPMG that it's an opportunity you can't pass up. It's something that takes our Majors to another level, like the U.S. Open purse this week being $4 million, it takes the LPGA Championship to three and a half. So to have somebody come to you and say this is what we want to do, it's something you can't say no to. So it's such an opportunity for the TOUR, but we're definitely going to miss Rochester and I hope we get back there in the next year or two.

Q. On that note, about having these back-to-back Opens, and what it could mean for the TOUR, because there was a ton of promotion during the men's tournament of the women are coming next. What kind of opportunity is this and how much pressure is there on you guys to sort of put on a good show, so to speak?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I think it is, first of all, it's a great opportunity. I think any time Rickie and Phil and those guys are talking about women's golf, I think it's a great thing. That's really what we accomplished last week. For them to say they're going to watch us play, I mean that's huge. So it was cool. When I first got here yesterday I saw Pat Bradley and she just had the biggest grin on her face. And she's like, is this not the coolest thing ever? I mean she's like during my generation this would have never happened. I think that's what a lot of the young girls don't realize is what an opportunity this is and how, what a great thing this is. I hope that seeing these other players around, I hope they learn that and they know that this is a great thing for women's golf. While the course may not be perfect out there, I think there's a lot more good things coming out of this week.

MIKE TROSTEL: Stacy, thank you very much and 8:02 off tee No. 10 on Thursday.


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