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July 8, 2014

Stacy Lewis


COLIN CALLANDER:  Good afternoon we have defending champion, Stacy Lewis.  How much fun is it to be coming here defending the title?
STACY LEWIS:  It is, it's a little strange feeling though coming to this event and being at a different golf course and this one is completely different than St. Andrews.  So it's a little strange coming back but it's fun to be back playing links golf.  And playing in the rain this morning, we got a good taste of it again.  It's nice being back.
COLIN CALLANDER:   What make this is course completely different?  What are the keys to getting around here?
STACY LEWIS:  I think the key to this golf course is going to be keeping it out of the rough, in the fairways and up near the greens.  The greens here are so much smaller than St. Andrews.
But the biggest thing is that you have to really place yourself around this golf course, you can't just get up there and rip driver.  You really have to think your way around, and St. Andrews had that and you could get away with a little bit more there.

Q.  You finished tied 31st in 2010.  Could you remember, was the course setup similar?
STACY LEWIS:  Honestly, I remembered holes once we got on the course but I didn't remember much of actually playing it, because I think it rained almost every single day and it was miserable.  Maybe I chose to block it out, but I honestly don't really remember much of how it played.
But I do remember, this is probably the first one that I actually played halfway decent in, and kind of where I learned‑‑ you have to learn how to get the ball in the hole and learn that it's not about how perfect you hit every shot.  It's managing your game.  So this is where I kind of started to learn how to play links golf.
COLIN CALLANDER:   You come in here, I think you've won three times this season, No. 1 in the world.  You must be pleased with your form coming into the championship.
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, winning a couple weeks ago and then winning three times in the last two months I guess it is, I mean, just coming into this‑‑ this is a time of year when you want to play the best.  This is when all of our majors are and this is the busiest time of the year.
Coming in here I definitely like where my game is at.  You have to adjust things and play different shots than you're used to but other than that, the game is in good shape.

Q.  What have you adjusted for this week, not so much in terms of shots, but in the bag?
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, I'm still kind of working on it, but actually I putt for the U.S. Open, I got a new 3‑wood and hybrid that I hit a little bit higher.
So I've got about five clubs that I need to take, or actually six clubs, and I need to take three of them out, so I'm still trying to figure out the right combination.  Because I would like to have this 3‑iron in the bag over here that I use off some tees, but it's just figuring out the right combination, because a lot of the tee shots you can't use drivers.
So it's which ones for which holes.  Right now, we are kind of planning on a 3‑wood that I hit a little bit higher, and going back to the older hybrid that I hit a little lower and then putting a 3‑iron in instead of a 4‑iron.  So that's kind of the plan right now but that could change before I start on Thursday.

Q.  Is it as bouncy out there as it was at St. Andrews last year, and how often do you relive that 5‑iron shot on the Road Hole?
STACY LEWIS:  I would say obviously today played a little different with the rain we had, so it wasn't nearly as bouncy as St. Andrews.  I was just trying to hit some bump‑and‑runs and some chip shots and they are just not releasing out the way they did last year, and even yesterday; so just that little bit of rain we got.
But there's just so much grass on this golf course.  There's a lot of grass in the fairways.  The rough just right off the fairways is really thick, and then the long stuff is even worse.  There's just a lot of grass in general so it seems to be the more you can carry it is going to be better this week.
That 5‑iron, I mean, it's a shot that I don't think I'll ever forget about.  It's a shot that you hope to pull off maybe once in your career and to do it there, under those circumstances, and to win a tournament, I don't think it ever goes away, and it's certainly nice to know‑‑ it's just nice to know really that I can pull off that shot; I can hit that shot, when there's a ton of wind and a ton of pressure, and I can do it.  So I think that gives you a lot of confidence.

Q.  Where is the club?
STACY LEWIS:  The club is at my house upstairs.  I've kept all my putters that I've used from all my wins, and now the 5‑iron is in that collection.  So the rest of the set of irons are in my garage somewhere and I'll end up getting rid of them soon.  But the 5‑iron is definitely going to stay.

Q.  Upstairs, in a closet?  On a wall?
STACY LEWIS:  It's in one of my Solheim Cup bags, so I guess I should do something more with it. 

Q.  If you've won with these putters, what are they doing upstairs?  Why aren't they in your bag?
STACY LEWIS:  Well, the first one, the one I won Kraft with, I switched to this other putter, and then the one I had most my wins‑‑ or all my wins in 2012 I decided to bend.  So I was able to bend it back but it was not quite right.

Q.  How did you bend it?
STACY LEWIS:  I wasn't happy.  This was an accident bend.  So I got a new one, and that's the new one I've used for the last three years in the bag.  That's why there's two putters up there.

Q.  The par5s down the stretch, how do you plan to attack and how do you think that will come into play?
STACY LEWIS:  Well, I think they are both, I mean, they are both really good holes and you've got to hit‑‑ it's not like they are gimmie birdies.  The shot into‑‑ the approach shot into 17 is hard.  You've got a little cross‑bunker that's 20 yards short of the green and usually you've got a left‑to‑right wind there.
So it's a hard shot, so I think you really‑‑ I don't know if you can be super aggressive there.  Sometimes some of these greens, if you can get it just short and have it chip up, you're better off than trying to get it all the way to the green.
This whole golf course, it's really what the wind is doing and whether you feel comfortable with the shot is how aggressive you want to be.  It a lot of the par 4s, you can hit driver at some of the bunkers or you can lay back with a hybrid and still reach the green.
It's just really how the shot sets up for you, whether you want to be aggressive or not, and it's just really what the shot is.  If I have a good number, I'm going to be aggressive.  If I don't, then I may be play it safe and ride on my short game a little bit.

Q.  Your caddie was talking about the switch that you turn on when you make up your mind that you really want to go into another gear.  Can you talk about that, which clearly was there on Sunday in Arkansas, what that feels like and where that comes from?
STACY LEWIS:  I mean, honestly I don't know what it is.  I don't know‑‑ I figured out Sundays.  Obviously that's where it's all kind of turned around.  I don't know if I just get it in my head that I'm going to win this tournament and nobody else is going to beat me, or I don't know what it is.
I just get into this mode where it's one shot at a time and doing the best you can with every single shot.  Instead of thinking about, this is for birdie or this is to tie for the lead or this is for win.  It's about, I'm going to do the best I can with this shot.
 I've seen once I get into that mode, everything becomes pretty easy and everything else, you can kind of block everything out.  It's a little strange.  I wish I could get there more on Thursdays and Fridays and make Sundays easier.
I don't know, it's a cool place to be.  I don't know, it's really calming, actually, and I've gotten in those situations before where you can feel your heart rate and you're shaking and all those things.  These last few weeks I've gotten into that pressure mode, there's just been a calm and a relaxed feel to it.  I don't know what it is.  But it's a good thing.
COLIN CALLANDER:  Is that something you've just learned to do?
STACY LEWIS:  It's something I've kind of figured out over‑‑ I think really, the big thing was at ShopRite when I won, I felt I was pretty any control all day and really kind of hit a point in the middle of the back nine where I was just like, you need to relax, and I relaxed and everything just kind of took care of itself.
I don't know if it's just kind of taking a deep breath and just relaxing.  That's really all it is.

Q.  The Koreans obviously have been such a strong force on the Tour for so long, but the last few majors have been won by Americans and a European.  Do you think there's a stitch?
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, you look at the first half of this year and how many Americans have won, and there's definitely been a switch.  I don't know, I think we are all kind of motivating each other.  I think we have all been kind of motivated from Solheim and from answering those questions all the time of where are the Americans.
But it's great to see, because we all have great camaraderie amongst us and so it's fun to get together and play practice rounds, play matches, because we are making each other better.  And obviously it's a great thing for the Tour, as well.

Q.  When you were talking about 2010, you said it rained every day and it was pretty miserable.  If it were to rain every day now, have you learned not to be miserable in foul weather?
STACY LEWIS:  I said the weather was miserable.  I didn't say anything else was (laughing).
I truly learned how to play links golf‑‑ I mean, the one day it rained hard for 17 of the 18 holes, and it wasn't about your golf swing or how you hit the shot.  It was about getting the ball in the hole.  Sometimes you hit some ugly shots and they end up okay.  That's where I kind of learned that links golf, that's what it is.  It's not about how solid you hit every shot.  It's just where you get it to the right place.
So I mean, I welcome the challenge.  If it rains every day, I'd love it.  I'd be all for it.  You take half the field out of it because they wouldn't want to be there.  So I'm ready for the weather if it comes.

Q.  And the rough, you say, is tough enough on the edge of the greens and even tougher elsewhere; is it too tough?  Are some of them complaining?
STACY LEWIS:  I don't know.  I mean, I wouldn't complain about it.  I do think if you miss a fairway, you're going to have a hard time advancing the ball.  I think if you get in the tall stuff, it's probably a chip out most of the time depending on the lie.
You just can't go in there.  Because I remember some holes‑‑ I do remember some tee shots in 2010 where we just kind of bombed driver over the bunkers and if you ended up in the rough it was no big deal, where this year, it matters.  You could barely clear a bunker and it's not going to kick all the way down to the fairway.  It's going to get stuck in that longer grass.
So you just have to think more, play a little bit smarter.  It's similar to Pinehurst where we played the Open a couple weeks ago, that you maybe hit hybrid off the tee but still have 5‑ or 6‑iron into the green and you have to be okay with that, because I think if you start getting too aggressive, you can go sideways pretty quick.  You.

Q.  We had Catriona Matthew who is a bit of an enigma, married with two kids and a lot of things she has to balance; how much admiration do you have for what she's doing, competing at her age with her responsibilities?
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, I mean, Katrina, I think she continues to impress everybody, just, one, how long she's played and how she's playing better now than probably she has at any time in her career.  It's just really impressive.  She doesn't play as many weeks as she probably wants to because of the kids and stuff like that.
I think it's something that a lot of the girls look to; you look to her, you look to Juli in that they have done it.  They have raised a family and still had a successful career, and it's just really impressive.

Q.  Curious if you go back to 2008, the U.S. Open, your first as a pro, and Michelle at that time in her career was somewhere bottom‑ish or whatever, did you have any perceptions of her then before you got to know her any different now, and when did that change if it changed?
STACY LEWIS:  I don't know Michelle.  The first time we played together was Q‑School of 2008.  I mean, I knew as much about her as everybody did, just seeing her on TV and stuff like that.  I think the perception definitely changes once you get out here, and a lot of the players, your perceptions change once you meet them.
I think I've gotten to know Michelle kind of through Solheim Cup, that's where we started to get to know each other and obviously we are living pretty close to each other now.  I think once she went to school and went to Stanford, she really kind of became a different person.  Now she hangs out with players more and she gets out and goes to dinner with people instead of just kind of sticking to her team all the time.  You know, that's kind of when it all changed I think.

Q.  You guys strike me as friends who couldn't be any more different.
STACY LEWIS:  That's true.  That's very true.  Obviously we have the golf as the common bond, but yeah, Michigan sell is the artsy kind of goofy person and I'm definitely not that.

Q.  What's the opposite of artsy‑goofy?
STACY LEWIS:  I don't know what that is.  Not artsy at all.  I mean, you go to her house, she's painted everything that's on her walls.  It's all her paintings.

Q.  And you've got a bent putter.
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, I've got a bent putter and need my sister to help me decorate.
I don't really know what it is but I enjoy hanging around her.  It's cool how I've learned a lot from her, and how she is handled the media and how she's handled the pressures and the expectations.  She doesn't read anything that anybody writes and she doesn't really care what anybody thinks about her and it's kind of like, oh, that kind of makes sense.  Wish I could be like that, too.  There's some things about her that I've tried to be more like, and probably vice versa I would think.

Q.  I'll ask her the same question, but if you could be Michelle for one day, what would be the first thing you would want to do?
STACY LEWIS:  Well, one, I'd like to hit it as far as she did.  I'd love to hit it as far as she did.  But other than that I don't know.  I don't know other than that.  I would just love to be able to hit the stinger 3‑woods that she hits.  I don't know how far she hits it but it's very impressive.

Q.  What are your expectations of her as a player now that she's made that breakthrough and has the first major under her belt?  Do you think that's a huge confidence boost and we'll see a lot more of her?
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, I said it coming into the year; coming into the year, I said she was going to have a great year.  Now she's going to be a force every week because she's learning how to take her game to different golf courses and she's contending, playing well at the U.S. Open and then going to Arkansas the next week, which is a completely different golf course and still playing well there.
So now, I think everybody, you expect her to be on the leaderboard and you expect her to be there on Sunday, and I think she's expecting that of herself, too it.
I don't know if anybody could be a female Tiger Woods but Michelle definitely moves the needle.  I think her playing good golf is good for everyone.  It's good for the Tour and it's good for the other players.  You know, it really is a great, great thing.  I said the U.S. Open couldn't have been scripted any better there.  We are on our biggest stage there and our biggest star winning there, and she won't even tell you that, but she is our biggest star and she moves the needle and her winning there was huge for us.
She knows that but I don't think it factors into how she plays.

Q.  Are you surprised, given what she's been through in the past that she's always loved the game as much as she has?
STACY LEWIS:  No.  She's always enjoyed playing.  I don't think that's‑‑ she was hurt.  A lot of those times, she had injuries that people I don't think necessarily knew about and she maybe came back too soon from.
She's always loved the game, and I think now she's healthy and obviously playing better golf helps you enjoy it more.  I mean, she's loving life right now.  She's 24 years old and having fun and that's what she should be doing.

Q.  You both went to university at a time when a lot of girls coming on Tour haven't.  Do you think that's a huge advantage?
STACY LEWIS:  I do.  I think I always‑‑ honestly, I hate all these girls turning pro so young.  I love seeing girls go to college.
You know, you learn how to be an individual and you learn how to take care of yourself and take care of your game and not rely on so many people.  I think that's the biggest advantage of going to college.  You saw that in Michelle.  She's taking ownership of her game.  Look at the whole putting stance.  Everybody went crazy when she switched to it but she took ownership of it and she said, I'm going to do this and it's going to work and she believed in it.  So she's got that belief in herself.
That's why I think so many girls coming out, I don't think they have that belief that they can really do it, and college just kind of helps‑‑ I think it helps build that confidence.

Q.  Have you tried it?
STACY LEWIS:  I don't think my hamstrings are flexible to do that.  But it makes sense.  She's so tall that‑‑ if I was that tall, I would think I would want to get closer to the ground, too.  But she's making it work and that's the biggest thing.

Q.  From an interest standpoint, do you think it's important for two players such as you and Michelle to separate yourselves and what that would be like to have a friendly rivalry?  We haven't seen one of those on the LPGA in long time.
STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, I think rivals are great for any sport, and I don't think you have to hate each other, because we are never going to hate each other.  But I can tell you we both want to beat each other once we get on the golf course, and that's all you need for a rivalry to work.  I think it would be a great thing.
I love battling down the stretch with anybody, and if it was Michelle, that would be a great thing.  We're never going to hate each other, though, so we are never going to be saying bad things about each other and we are going to fight till the end and then you congratulate the winner and you go work hard and try and win the next week.
It's going to take both of us playing good golf.  Obviously we can't just coast now because other people are going to be coming up trying to beat us, too.  We both have to just keep working hard and see what happens.  But just the way things are going, the way golf courses are being set up with the length advantage, our courses just keep getting longer.  So anybody that hits it far has an advantage.  Saw that at Kraft with Lexi and Michelle in the final group and the Open was the same way.
So having length is an advantage and that's going to continue.  So it's going to take a lot of the people out of the tournament.  I think there's an opportunity for a rivalry for sure.

Q.  (Inaudible.)
STACY LEWIS:  We don't really play money games.  We just go out and practice and hit shots and stuff like that.  Michelle is usually very focused on the next meal.  Because we usually play in the morning and then go have lunch and she usually gets very focused on the lunch and kind of doesn't pay attention to the whole golf side of it (laughing).  She'll tell you the same thing.
COLIN CALLANDER:   Thank you very much for your time and good luck this week.

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