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April 1, 2015

Stacy Lewis


THE MODERATOR: Great pleasure to have the past champion of this major championship and former No. 1 in the Rolex Women's World Ranking, Stacy Lewis is here. Great to have you. Beautiful weather and a fantastic week. What are your thoughts coming in this week.

STACY LEWIS: Well, I'm excited to be back. Any time you come to a course that you've won on, you have some great memories on. It's really -- it's fun to be back, and it definitely feels a little bit different this year, as it should, and the first major of the year is always -- everybody is always really excited for.

Q. So let's talk about that first major of the year. How do you build toward that? What have you been thinking about? Is there extra pressure on a player like you knowing where you are in the World Rankings? What's your mindset?
STACY LEWIS: You know, the mindset is good. I've been building on this tournament really since February. It's kind of been in the back of my mind. We've kind of been progressing with my golf swing and just working on little things every single week and working on my golf swing. I've still played some pretty good golf leading up to it. I like where my game is at and I'll continue to kind of work on things even going into the summer. You know, this is not the ultimate. You just keep trying to get a little bit better every day.

Q. Three top-three finishes this year but you haven't had a win, so you're smiling right now, you're saying you feel great about your game, which is probably the exact mindset you want going into a major. Any admitted frustrations over the fact you haven't busted through yet?
STACY LEWIS: Oh, yeah, totally. Knowing just me and my personality, there's frustration. I felt Phoenix was tough, just because I felt like I played well enough that final round to win a golf tournament, and she just played a little bit better. There's definitely frustration, but there's also -- I've done so many good things that I can't be frustrated coming into this week. You know, those tournaments are done, they're over with, and it's on to the next.

Q. Your first win was also the major in 2011 here. We've had players that have sat on this stage over the last couple of days and they talk about what this event means to them. Obviously this is a new chapter for a great tradition of this major championship. What does this event and the robe and the walk and all of that mean to Stacy Lewis for your career?
STACY LEWIS: Well, this to me, this is the LPGA's tournament. This is our tournament, and if you ask any of the retired players, any of the older players, they worked really hard to get this tournament, the traditions that it has, to keep them going. This tournament was so important to them. We were at the champions dinner the other night, and just when they announced that we were keeping the Dinah Shore trophy and keeping the tournament here, I think all of those retired players just stood up and clapped because that's how much it means to them. So that's what that tournament means to me. I played here in 2007 as an amateur, and that really kind of opened my eyes to what was possible, and that's what this tournament is about. It's about giving an opportunity for the next generation, getting the amateurs in to play. You look at the amateurs that have done well, they've also gone on to win the tournament. It's crazy the history of this event. It means the world to me. It's my favorite major of the year. I love the celebration, I love the walk up 18. There's just so many good things about this event that I'm really, really happy we're still here.

Q. You played here as an amateur, you went through LPGA qualifying here, sectional qualifying. You've won here, you've got five top 5s. What is it about the golf course that just plays into you, or is it just that you get so excited to be here?
STACY LEWIS: Well, I love major championships. I think that's the biggest thing. When you come to the mindset of yeah, it's a hard golf course, but if you really are excited to be there and you really love the golf course, it doesn't seem quite so hard. I've liked the challenge of it. In years past, especially the first few years I played, it was firm and fast and it was hard, just legitimately a hard golf course, and it necessarily hasn't been that the last few years, so you kind of have to change your mindset. It's been a little bit softer, you can be a little bit more aggressive. The last couple years your mindset changes a little bit, but it's still a major, and that's what I love.

Q. The golf course is a little softer. They've put a little more water on it because it's been so hot here, but it looks like the rough is a little more difficult than it was last year. Are you in favor of the tougher rough here?
STACY LEWIS: Oh, for sure. I remember playing here in 2007 as an amateur, just legitimately scared on every tee shot, like playing it doesn't go in the rough. That's how hard the rough was. I don't think it's still to those levels. But it's definitely thicker this year, a little bit tougher, tougher to get it out of there. So I'm definitely in favor of that. Anything that makes it a little bit harder I'm in favor of.

Q. When you first drove up to the course this week, is that the first thing you're looking at trying to get maybe a peek at the rough and see where it was?
STACY LEWIS: Well, when I first drove up, I actually was -- I was shocked about the blue tents and the blue everywhere really. You come to this event the last few years and we've seen red with Kraft Nabisco. I was afraid coming to this event everybody would be calling it the old names and everything like that, but as soon as I came on property this was the ANA Inspiration. It didn't even feel like the old sponsor. That was actually my initial thought when I came here. But the biggest thing for me on this golf course is the greens. When they're firm and fast, that's, I think, when this golf course plays the hardest. So the rough for me is kind of an afterthought, but the firmness of the greens I think is what makes it the toughest.

Q. Looking at the stats here, a little bit surprising your lowest scoring average is in the fourth round in this event, which I'm sure has to please you --
STACY LEWIS: I like that, yes.

Q. Anything to attribute that to, or is it just the difficulty of major championship play on a Sunday that brings that out?
STACY LEWIS: Well, I think in a major you learn the golf course every day a little bit better. But I love -- I mean, I love being in contention on Sundays in majors. That's where you want to be. You know, I've been fortunate, I guess, that I've played my best golf then, but I mean, I don't know. I don't know what to attribute it to. I don't know what it is, but I think you should. In theory you should be playing your best golf by the end of the week because you should be learning the golf course as the week goes on.

Q. And to follow up on that, this is a little bit -- we're leading into Masters week next week and it's the only men's major played on the same golf course, and this is the longest tradition of playing the women's majors on the same golf course. Is there a level of familiarity and how does that affect you going into a week like this?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, there is definitely familiarity coming here. I think it's the type of tournament you should have an advantage the more you play the golf course. I think if you look -- other than maybe the amateurs playing well, not a lot of rookies kind of come out in their first go around this golf course and do well. Just knowing the golf course and having that kind of know what to expect on certain holes, know what holes to take your par and move on, knowing what holes to be aggressive on, just having that experience I think definitely helps you.

Q. For those of us who have not played competitive golf, can you put into perspective having 28 consecutive rounds under par?
STACY LEWIS: Well, it's impressive, one. You know, I wouldn't say it's impossible because it can be done. You know, if you're playing some good golf and you kind of -- you get on a roll where you just don't worry about your score. You're just worried about making as many birdies as you can, and I've been in that mind frame, and it's a really cool place to be, and because you're not worried about making a bogey because you know you're going to come back and make a birdie at some point. It's a really good place to be in. And then it's one of those things, the more you get asked about it, the harder it gets, so I don't know if that'll play into maybe Lydia's play this week, but knowing her, it probably won't.

Q. When was the last time you were in that mind frame?
STACY LEWIS: I mean, I think it's similar to -- I went bogey-free in Portland a couple years ago, and you definitely start that last round, you're kind of starting to think about it. I don't really know if my consecutive rounds under par, I don't really know what I stand there, but I think it's kind of similar to having a bogey-free streak. Inbee went on one earlier this year. It's a cool place to be in.

Q. You finished in the top six in three majors last year, so let me follow up a little bit on the question about Lydia Ko because there's been a lot of talk about this new kind of big three on the LPGA with yourself, with Lydia, with Inbee, and yet there are so many other really talented players who are playing great golf right now, Cristie Kerr showed last week she is hardly going away, Karrie Webb has had great success, clearly Lexi Thompson, great player and sat up here yesterday, Michelle Wie, et cetera, but on the big three topic, is that something you enjoy, you relish? Do you love that competitive fire, the story line of it, the potential pressure that goes with that?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I love it. It's one of those things that I think all three of us expect the other person to be there. You know, you look up on a leaderboard, I'm not surprised to see Lydia's name or Inbee's name. That's what it is. The three of us, you're seeing our names on leaderboards all the time, and we maybe are not necessarily winning every week, but we're always in contention, and it's having a bunch of top 10s, not missing cuts. I think Beth Ann was going over some crazy stats, and I think in the last year and a half or so, I think between the three of us, we've missed one cut. I mean, it's a cool thing to be a part of, and we're raising the bar for each other. I've been making a bunch of top 10s the last few years, and I think that's kind of made them kind of realize like, wow, that's pretty amazing, and they want to get to that consistency level of making all those top 10s, and Inbee is starting to do it, and so is Lydia.

Q. So when Lorena was a dominant player out here, when Annika was a dominant player, or if you use the men's game with Tiger Woods being the dominant player, a lot of people love that, you want that one dominant player. Do you subscribe to that player? I know you probably like to be the dominant player, but if you can flip it to the other side of three players or maybe five that are in contention, is that better for women's golf?
STACY LEWIS: I think the dominant player for women's golf is really hard. One, it's a lot of pressure on that one person to perform every week, to answer all the questions, to handle all the obligations, and then I think it makes all of us better having some competition there. I'm a fan of it. I would love to be the dominant player, but there's so much that would have to happen, and truthfully, as good -- there's so many good players now, I don't really see there being a dominant player. I played with Yani when she was kind of in her prime the last few years, and she was a dominant player, but I just don't see anybody doing that anytime soon.

Q. You said the biggest challenge for you here is the greens, so can you comment on how the greens are this week, and what is the real challenge of putting here?
STACY LEWIS: Well, the biggest challenge usually of these greens is the firmness. A lot of the front pins, getting it to stop quick enough, but this year, like it's been probably the last two years prior, the greens are softer, so it's not -- you're not having to land balls short and kind of let them roll up. There's a little less, I'd say, thinking involved. It's a little bit more what's the pin, let's just hit it there. I think that's the real challenge. The greens are definitely a little bit burned out. You can tell by the heat, and they're trying to water them and keep them for the rest of the week. I hope it firms up because I would much rather see it playing a little bit harder than it is right now.

Q. Also, could you just comment on the imagery of Poppies Pond and growing up as a girl what impression that made on you or what it still means to you today?
STACY LEWIS: Gosh, Poppies Pond, I think it's the greatest celebration in golf. I really do. I think it's something that as a little kid you see these players just so genuinely excited, acting like you. They're acting like a little kid, just jumping in a pond. I think it's something that everybody can relate to, everybody can -- they just genuinely see how excited you are, which I don't think you always see in golf. You see somebody win a tournament, kind of hug their families and do that kind of stuff, but I think it's such a cool celebration because you get to see somebody act like you normally would, because golfers are kind of put together, they don't show a lot of emotion, but when you jump in that pond, it's like a little kid just letting out all this energy, so that's what I love about it.

Q. Would you have a different jump this year, maybe something a little crazy?
STACY LEWIS: I don't know, you don't think about the jump because you don't want to jinx yourself. It's one of those spur of the moment things. I know my mom would have to jump again because she needs to redeem herself. That's the /POEPBL part of it I've thought about, but you definitely don't think about it because I don't want to jinx anything.

Q. Have you had that talk with mom, serious talk?
STACY LEWIS: Oh, yeah, she already knows she's going.

Q. What does she say about it?
STACY LEWIS: Oh, I think she's ready to redeem herself, too, because she's tired of being the one that broke her foot in the pond. I think she's ready to redeem herself.

Q. In 2011 you battled Yani, the dominant player at the time. This year we've had so many great back nine battles already between top players. Give us some of the keys here on the back nine Sunday, if it all pans out the way we would like it to with the top?
STACY LEWIS: Well, one, I love the finishing holes here. I think they're a combination of you can make some birdies but then they're also pretty tough, too. You know, it really kind of starts on 14, par-3, just a hard shot with the wind swirling back there in the corner, but if you hit a good shot you can make birdie. And then you go to 15, which you've got to get in the fairway, birdieable hole, though. 16 is kind of the same way, and then 17 is probably one of the hardest shots you're going to hit all day, and then you get the pressure on and everything that is that hole. You're hitting 4s and 5-irons into that green. And then 18 is just set up for excitement, and it has been over the years. I remember when I won, and I've never been so nervous in my life on that tee, and it's a hard tee shot. You've got palm trees in the way, you've got to carry some water, you've got to get it in the fairway, and then if you lay up, it's still a tight lay-up. The back nine sets up to make birdies, but you've still got to hit some golf shots. You can't just kind of bat it around and hope to win.

Q. How do you feel like you are today in terms of mentally different than you were in 2011 when you won here to handle pressure of the back nine?
STACY LEWIS: Well, I feel like I'm a totally different player. You know, I've learned a lot in the battles down the back nine of being a little bit more patient, not trying to force things, knowing when you can and can't make birdies, when to go for stuff and when not to. You know, I think I was fortunate in 2011, and that was just Yani and I, kind of everybody, we kind of cleared ourselves from the pack, so I didn't have anybody else to worry about, which was nice at the time. But I've learned to just kind of hang around more, and it doesn't take perfect golf to win a golf tournament. It just takes being there and hitting the right shot at the right time.

Q. Given the reputation that you have, are you confident in where you might place this year? And also, kind of a personal question about your back, do you play for that little girl who underwent the back surgery? Is that who you play for?
STACY LEWIS: Well, I'd say my expectations this week are to be up near the leaderboard, up near the top going into Sunday. That's my goal every week is to give myself a chance to win on Sunday, and with the way I've been playing, yeah, I would expect myself to be there. But 72 holes, it's a really long week. I got off to a really poor start last year and still ended up finishing third. So definitely just got to stay patient. And then as far as the back, I have a lot of kids that I communicate with, and whether it's scoliosis or something else completely, you know, I'm able to inspire a lot of people. You know, a lot of times you get those reminders at the right time, when maybe you're frustrated a little bit or things aren't quite going your way, and so it's always a good reminder of how far I've come, and it's cool to inspire some kids out there, too.

Q. On the men's side, everyone is curious and anxious to see what Tiger is going to do, whether he'll play next week. What is your level of curiosity? How much have you been following his saga and do you even care whether he's in Augusta next week or not?
STACY LEWIS: Do I care truthfully? No, not really, not as much as --

Q. But you're going next week.
STACY LEWIS: I am going, but not as much as the rest of the media cares about it. I find of kind of hard to even watch because I know as a competitor he wants to play and he wants to play his best. It's almost hard to watch as a player. I find it really hard for him not to play. Maybe he's not 100 percent. I wouldn't be surprised to see him there, just because he's a competitor and he wants to play. I'm just going on Wednesday. I'm out of there. I spend enough time at a golf course.

Q. Every week so far this year you've talked about the swing changes that you've gone through and described them in length and detail. But at this stage, you're driving it very well. What in the world are you and Joe talking about it? Is he just saying, yes, you did it that time, no, you didn't do it that time?
STACY LEWIS: You know, right now it's little things. There were times last week where I wanted to hit a little bit of a draw into a pin and I didn't quite have that shot, so I had to play the fade that maybe ends up a little bit further away from the hole. That's really all we're working on is just getting it to where I can hit any shot I want to because that's ultimately when I play my best. You know, I know if I don't have it, I'm going to find a way to get the ball in the hole, and I'll play a fade all day if I have to. It's just getting to the level where I can hit any shot I need to. That's what we're working on right now.

Q. 11-time winner on the Tour, two majors for you. The one thing that drives Stacy Lewis right now in her career, is it No. 1 in the world, in the Rolex Rankings? Is it more majors? Is it your legacy? What might that be?
STACY LEWIS: Winning more tournaments, and whether it's majors or weekly events or whatever it is, I don't care. It's just winning tournaments.
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