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July 23, 2014
OWINGS MILLS, MARYLAND
KRAIG KANN: Good morning, everyone, welcome to the media center this morning here at the International Crown. It's great to have you with us at the inaugural International Crown. It's a great pleasure on the day before the matches kick off to welcome in four of the biggest names in all of golf. To my far left is Lexi Thompson, representing the UnitedStates Rolex Rankings No. 5, four‑time LPGA winner, including a Major. Candie Kung is here representing Chinese Taipei four‑time LPGA winner. Inbee Park, the Rolex Ranking No. 3, representing the Republic of Korea, and 10‑time LPGA winner. Karrie Webb is here as well to my immediate left, representing Australia, Rolex Rankings No. 7, and 41‑time LPGA winner and a Hall of Fame member.
Great to have you all with us. We'll take questions. We have microphones in here. Let me start with this and I'll go straight down the line. From Pool A, it's Lexi and Candie Kung, and from Pool B is Inbee and Karrie. Let's.
Start with Pool A and Lexi, some overall thoughts on this event. You've played a Solheim Cup, what has this been like, your first impressions from coming here this week?
LEXI THOMPSON: So far it's been amazing. Golf being such an individual sport, we don't get to play as a team very often, but getting the experience at Solheim Cup last year, being part of a team, it's just such an amazing feeling. Hearing USA chants going up to every green, it's the best experience.
But here at International Crown being the first year for it, being part of an amazing team already and just being at Caves Valley, it's in such great shape and it's such an honor to be here to represent my country and I'm really looking forward to playing.
KRAIG KANN: Each and everyone of you has taken part in some of our pre‑event media. Candie, you being one of them, what are your impressions of this event? This is obviously a great thing for your country.
CANDIE KUNG: Yes, it is. It is awesome to play with some of my best friends and in a team event representing Chinese Taipei. We never had a chance to do this, and International Crown gives us an opportunity to represent Chinese Taipei to play for our country and we're going to have some fun this week for sure.
KRAIG KANN: Inbee, your thoughts on this. You've won Major Championships, you've played in some big events, but you haven't played in anything like this yet. What are your thoughts?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, we have seen in a lot of events, at Solheim Cups and a lot of other players taking part of the team, but we never really got into much of a chance to do something like this before. Obviously, it's always an honor to represent my country and we have 2016 Olympics coming and it's going to be a great event, because we can kind of get ready for it, the Olympics coming up in 2016.
Just to come here and get together with players, we felt like we went back to when we were in an international team back when we were like in middle school. So it reminds us, really, of good memories, and we always play really against each other and that, but this week we will try to help each other and I think it's just a lot of fun.
KRAIG KANN: Karrie, you have won almost everything there is to win. You've played in everything that matters except for something like this. I know this is something you've looked to be a part of. What are your impressions this week?
KARRIE WEBB: It's been a great start to the week. It is an honor to represent Australia. I think over my career I've always been asked if I wanted to play in a Presidents Cup or a Solheim Cup format and I think this is a better format, because even speaking to some of the European girls and even though they get to play in the Solheim Cup, they represent their continent, not necessarily their country. If we had a Presidents Cup format it would have been the same sort of thing. For me, to be able to wear our Australian colors and play under the Australian flag is something that's very special.
KRAIG KANN: Let's talk about the matchups just a little bit and then we'll take questions. So if you have a question, please raise your hand.
Lexi, let me start with you on the matchup, you're going to be paired with Stacy Lewis, 10:45, against Yani Tseng and Phoebe Yao. How much of a surprise was it for you to be paired with Stacy? Is that something you knew going in?
LEXI THOMPSON: Well, we kind of talked about it going into the week, but we had a few practice rounds together already this week. But I think that since it's best ball, it's not alternate shot, so you're not trying to matchup games and see what games work the best with each other, but best ball's a little easier to work out.
I think no matter who I was paired up with, we would make a great team. And obviously we have great players to play against, so we're going to have to play our best out there.
KRAIG KANN: Your teammates, Paula Creamer and Cristie Kerr will take on Candie Kung and Teresa Lu. So Candie, let me get your thoughts on that. You guys are the underdogs clearly in a pool with the UnitedStates. Do you feel like underdogs?
CANDIE KUNG: No, not at all. With best ball, you just got to go out there and make a lot of birdies, and that's what we're going to be expecting the next few days. We're going to go out there and try to make a lot of birdies and see what team comes out with the most birdies and who is going to win at the end of the week. Everybody's a great player out here, so we're going to expect to see a lot of birdies out there.
KRAIG KANN: Okay. Pretty confident there. 10 a.m. tomorrow in Pool B, Inbee Park and So Yeon Ryu will take on Katherine Kirk and Lindsey Wright from Australia. Inbee, you and So Yeon, I know your team is very close. You all know each other very well. That's been talked about a lot this week. How comfortable are you with that pairing yourself tomorrow?
INBEE PARK: We are very comfortable with each other, and all four of us have really similar games. We're not really long, but we're really consistent. I think that is really our key for this week.
Obviously, Australia is a very tough country to beat and having them as a first match is just going to be tough, but we're going to try our best. Obviously even the team with So Yeon, we have done that before in last year Japan versus Korea Cup, so it's going to be very something similar to that. We're just going to try our best and we actually are thinking that we might get Karrie and Minjee, but we missed them by a little bit, so, yeah, I think it's still going to be a good match tomorrow. We try to figure out who is good at par‑4s and who is good at par‑5s and who is good at par‑3s and trying to mix it up that way. That's how we chose the team.
KRAIG KANN: At 10:15 Na Yeon Choi and I.K. Kim will take on Minjee Lee and Karrie Webb. So Karrie, this is pretty cool, it seems like. You got the No. 1 amateur in the world, you're serving as a bit of a mentor, but everybody wants to see how she plays. What are your thoughts on pairing up with her?
KARRIE WEBB: Well, I don't think we're that scientific about our pairings. I think that for us we'll play the sneaky underdogs this week and try to have a lot of fun.
But Minjee, she's ready to play out here full‑time. But for me, out of the four of us, I think that out of the other three of us, Minjee knows me the best. So I think that I felt that to ease her into the competition, it was probably best that she play with me. I've gotten to know her over the last few years as part of my series back in Australia. So for me, it's pretty cool experience, too, that a couple of years ago she was coming over to stay with me at the U.S. Open and now she's ready for the world stage. So it will be a fun day.
KRAIG KANN: Sounds like you're pretty much the captain in that room making some decisions.
KARRIE WEBB: No, we're all very indecisive, but I think we all agreed that that was probably the best pairing for Minjee to start off the competition.
KRAIG KANN: That's good. Let's take some questions.
Q. Karrie, what captains did you drive the cart for at the Solheim Cup and how did that heighten maybe your desire to play in a competition like that?
KARRIE WEBB: I drove Meg's cart when Beth Daniel was captain and I think that's in 2009, and last year I drove Laura Diaz's cart. It probably made me want to play more than be a cart driver and look after the Americans and drive and get Dairy Queen smoothies after I bought out all the dairy smoothies. But, yeah, I've been a part of a few other Solheim Cups just as a spectator, but the atmosphere is always completely different to any tournament that we play as individuals.
To see the Americans, if they were playing an individual tournament, there would be fans out there rooting for Paula against Lexi. But as one, the crowds are cheering for their country and their team. And I'm sure that's going to happen this week. But I think that it's the first event, so we're creating the atmosphere and hopefully it's fun, friendly matches and a lot of good golf played.
Q. Karrie, having been there with the IFB in your ear and seeing it up close, you have a little bit of a different perspective in that you were something of an outsider not playing, but you were close. How have you talked to your teammates about what they can expect on the first tee and when you hear the National Anthem and all of the pressure that goes along with that?
KARRIE WEBB: We haven't actually talked about it. We will probably talk about it tonight. When I was driving out here this morning, I was thinking about the first tee tomorrow, just hearing the National Anthem and I haven't experienced that as a professional golfer. I did a few times as an amateur, but it's been a long time since I played for my country, but also stood on the first tee and to see the flag being raised and listening to our National Anthem. So that will be a really cool experience.
Q. How about the Koreans? You guys don't play as a team. So is it something that you understand the pressure that you're going to feel tomorrow as you get out there?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, obviously we really haven't experienced something like that since we were an amateur. So the same probably really similar to Karrie, it's going to be a very cool experience and, yeah, we're going to feel the pressure tomorrow, obviously, but we're going to have to handle that pressure tomorrow.
Q. For Karrie, how does this course compare to other Major Championship courses you play on? Is it of that caliber in terms of difficulty, in terms of greens?
KARRIE WEBB: Well I've only played one round. I played yesterday, so it's hard to probably say exactly. I think there's quite a bit of length to the golf course and it's pretty soft right now. I'm sure they're going to set it up in a way, though, that maybe isn't as majoresque because you want to see birdies made, you want to see some excitement. But the course is in fantastic shape and it's a great venue to host the first International Crown.
KRAIG KANN: Let me get your thoughts on the venue, Lexi and Candie as well, thoughts on if it favors a particular style of player. Obviously we know you have a little length to your game, Lexi.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, well, I just played nine holes yesterday and nine holes Monday, and the course is in amazing shape. It's definitely a longer course. I think they're playing it about 6600, and it's soft, not much roll out out there. I had a good amount of mid‑irons in, and par‑3s, I had six, seven irons in. So it's definitely going to be challenging.
The greens are rolling fast. They will probably get them to about 12 or 13 is what I heard. So I think it will be definitely challenging, but it is a beautiful golf course in layout for this week.
KRAIG KANN: Candie, Yani was in here yesterday and she talked about the lengths and we obviously know she hits it a long way as well. Does it help the setup as far as your team is concerned? Do you like it?
CANDIE KUNG: Yeah, this is definitely one of the best golf courses we have all year, and the way that we kind of setup the pairings for our team is to have one long hitter and one medium hitter and because a couple of them can probably get to the par‑5s in two. But they're still playing long, so it's going to be fun out there.
KRAIG KANN: Take us into your meeting. How did you determine that? Who was the one calling the shots on that?
CANDIE KUNG: Kind of everybody has a little feeling of who is going to play with who. We just kind of have that sense from each other, because we're friends for a long time and we just know each other's game and who wants to go with who out there.
KRAIG KANN: Let me follow that up and ask you, I'll start with you on this, before we get to another question here on the left. The dynamic of not having a captain. Now somebody who hasn't played in a competition specifically like this, but for you, Lexi, as well, there's not 12 players and there's not one captain, so Candie, what's it like inside your quarters and we'll get everybody's thoughts on this? Has it been tough?
CANDIE KUNG: No, we're easygoing. We're having a lot of laughs in the room and lot of fun talks. We played nine holes together and it was just fun all the way around.
KRAIG KANN: Lexi?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, it's definitely‑‑
KRAIG KANN: Are you calling the shots in there?
LEXI THOMPSON: No. I would say it's pretty much equal around. It's not like Solheim Cup, you don't have 12 players, it's just two matches, two teams that you have to think about. So it's not so much pressure on thinking who is going to matchup best with. So we all have our equal input and it's a lot more relaxed this week I think and it's great doing the practice rounds, because you can play with your whole team. You don't have to just play with one other person. So it's definitely a really cool format this week. But definitely not having a captain is a lot different to get used to, but I think that brings us even closer together.
KRAIG KANN: Inbee, you all having fun trying to make these decisions?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, because four Koreans, we don't really get a choice, we all got to make the decision and follow it usually. It's not really an option, it's just not an order. But for the four of us, just being friends together and just having no captains, it's kind of sharing all the thoughts, and there is no order. I think it's better because we take part of, everybody takes a part. So, yeah, I think it's good that we don't have a captain this time. I think it's going to be fun.
KRAIG KANN: Karrie, what are your thoughts on that? You said you were all indecisive collectively.
KARRIE WEBB: Yes, we were all looking at each other and who wants to play with who and just went back and forth like that. And then finally someone spoke up, I think I spoke up and said, Well, how about I play with Minjee and you guys play the first round and then we'll go from there.
I would really like to play with everybody this week. I think that would be really fun. But in saying that, if we play really well tomorrow, it would be hard to change the pairings up. So we have left that option open. But other than that, I mean it took us about 20 minutes to decide where we were going to dinner the other night. So no one's really making any assertive calls out there.
KRAIG KANN: Question right here in the front.
Q. Lexi, I was asking some of the players yesterday about the young women like you who are able to break into the game at a very early age, and one of the things they mentioned was fearlessness when you're that young. Do you remember feeling like that when you first started competing on the Tour?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I think that the game is getting younger and younger, especially on the women's side. I think that girls are just starting to practice at a younger age. But I think coming out here, even when I was a lot younger, I was definitely fearless. Even if you watched me, I just rammed them, I didn't really care where it went. I still try to get a little bit of that fearlessness in me still out here.
But you still have to play smart, but you can be aggressive at certain times. I think that's definitely a good quality to have out here at certain points.
Q. For Karrie, having won 41 events individually, what's the difference in terms of this event? Obviously you're playing four‑ball. There's less strategy involved. It's just playing. You can almost play it as a regular tournament. But is there a different mental approach that you have to take to a team event in terms of your golf?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, I think that there's a little bit more to best ball than you might think. Obviously, best ball you are just playing your own game and trying to give your team as many opportunities to make birdie as possible. But there are strategies to trying to be the first player to make a birdie on a hole or things like that.
Also, I think the worst thing that you can do when you're playing in a team is to apologize if you had a bad hole. I think that you're both out there trying a hundred percent and I think it's important to pick the other person up if they have had a bad hole, but not apologize for it.
I think in many ways you can play a little more free because you have someone that can pick up the pieces if you are having a bad hole. But again, I think there's a little bit of strategy as far as who plays when and trying to get that ball in the hole first for a birdie.
Q. Inbee, you helped set a standard for South Korean women. You've become a dominant force in women's golf. Yet with the American resurgence this year, South Koreans lost the No. 1 seed here. Stacy got the No. 1 ranking. Do you guys feel any pressure back home to sort of reassert yourself as the No. 1 nation in golf?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, this year obviously the American players are playing very well this year, and obviously it hasn't been like the last couple years. We definitely feel the pressure and we definitely feel like we have to step it up a little bit this year and try to change some kind of a rhythm to it. I think this week's going to be something that can really change it.
I think we're trying to change the pace to our side and, yeah, Korean players overall this year, it's been probably just struggling with the putting a little bit and we're trying to improve that. Once a couple of players start to win and we get a lot of confidence with them...
I think it really has happening with the American players, a couple players have won, their close friends won. Then after that, all the other players really got confidence and they got a team spirit going on. So, yeah, I think it's definitely helped the women's golf.
KRAIG KANN: Lexi, let me follow that up with you. Being an American and being part of this huge boost of momentum and all the victories my American players, now the overall No. 1 seed, is all the conversation about how great the Americans are playing a positive for you all coming into this thing or something that adds pressure?
LEXI THOMPSON: I think it's definitely a positive going into this week. We're not going to put any extra pressure on ourselves. We know we have to bring our A‑game this week because it's not just like Solheim Cup where it's USA against Europe. It's seven other country, top four players from each of those countries, and we know we have to play our best to win this thing. We have to make a lot of birdies. No extra pressure, but I think so far this year we have played pretty well, so we're just going into this event trying to do our best and make a great team out there.
KRAIG KANN: Right here in the back.
Q. Yeah, so everybody that's come up on the stage has talked about how they're either excited, like almost a Spinal Tap 11 excited about playing in a match, in a match play format. I was wondering, with the Olympics being stroke play, would you rather it be a‑‑ if you get the opportunity to compete for your country, play in an a match play format?
KRAIG KANN: Question being when the Olympics rolls around, do you wish it was more of a team format. Let's go with you, Karrie.
KARRIE WEBB: I wish there was a team component to it. I don't wish that it was a match play. I think stroke play brings out the best players at the end of the week. But I think the Olympics is held over two weeks and I think that we could get away from the Tradition of playing ‑‑ well, I think both men and women are playing Wednesday to Saturday. But the men could have started earlier, and then maybe on the weekend, we had a mixed team competition, then we play the following week.
I think you could have had individual medals and also a team component medal. And with golf being back in the Olympics for the first time in a long time, I think they're sort of easing into it, and hopefully in 2020, there's a team component to it.
KRAIG KANN: Inbee, what are your thoughts on the Olympics?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I think not just me, but everyone kind of just really wished that we get two parts in that Olympics game where they have individuals and they also have the team, because it's just all about representing your country and having a team support. So, yeah, I kind of wish that we had them both, yeah.
KRAIG KANN: Any other questions? I'll leave you all with this one then. Players were in here yesterday talking about their excitement, their energy level for this event. There is pool play and you have to advance to get to Sunday and then one country wears the crown as best golfing nation. What would it mean to you personally and to your country to wear that crown on Sunday night? Start with you, Lexi, and work our way this way.
LEXI THOMPSON: It would be such a huge honor to win the International Crown. And be an American, playing for my country, putting red, white and blue on in the morning and going out and playing golf for a living, I mean it's such a huge honor. To hear the National Anthem tomorrow on the first tee, it's just going to be an amazing experience. But to wear that crown on Sunday will be the highest honor that I can have to win it for my country.
KRAIG KANN: Candie?
CANDIE KUNG: It will be an awesome feeling to bring the crown home, back to Chinese Taipei. I know a lot of people are watching this week, because it's the first team event that we have and it's one of the biggest ones that there is going to be for a team event.
We're all looking forward to it, it's going to bring a lot of excitement for people to watch back at home. I know they're going to be watching, sitting up all night watching the matches and hopefully we can bring the crown home. That's what we want at the end of the week.
KRAIG KANN: Inbee, yesterday So Yeon Ryu talked about the importance of this for Korea, that it would be bigger than most people could imagine. Your thoughts?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I know the Korean people are really expecting us to win, but, yeah, but it's a tough time back in my country right now. A lot of sad things happened this year, including the ferry disaster and a couple other bad things happened.
Korea, a lot of people are in a really little bit of a depression, so we really need some kind of hope for my people back in my country, and I think this week could be a big hope for them. And just like what Se Ri did in 1988 and 1998 when we were in IMF, and this week could make a difference in my country. So we're going to play our best and try to bring the trophy home.
KRAIG KANN: Your thoughts, Karrie?
KARRIE WEBB: I don't think we'll be playing with that much pressure on our shoulders, but I think all four of us last night at the dinner when we saw, obviously, the Tiffany trophy, it's amazing, but then we saw the four crowns and I think it's a really cool trophy. I think we all got very excited about the possibility of that happening for us.
I think for us to win the first International Crown would be an honor, but it would be amazing and it would be amazing for women's golf back in Australia. I think it can never hurt for us to get a little more attention back there, maybe a little more funding directed to women's golf in general.
So those things are important to us and we have got to start tomorrow on a good foot and hopefully win a match or two against Korea.
KRAIG KANN: Karrie Webb, Inbee Park, Candie Kung, Lexi Thompson. Thank you so much for coming in. Best of luck this week.
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