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June 9, 2015

Inbee Park


THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, welcome to the KPMG Women's PGA Championship. It's great to have you all here with us this afternoon as we continue our press conferences. I hope you know this lady to my left, your right. The No. 2 ranked player in the women's World Rankings, the Rolex rankings, Inbee Park. Thank you for being here. I think you probably know, you can be No. 1 in the world again if you win this week, right?

INBEE PARK: Yeah, that would be a nice gift.

THE MODERATOR: You are the two-time defending champion. What are your impressions of Westchester Country Club from what you've seen?

INBEE PARK: First of all, it's a beautiful golf course and obviously it's a great set up for a major championship. It really reminds me a lot of the U.S. Open golf courses we play. The leaderboards and the grandstands and everything, and it just feels like a true major golf course. With the wind getting up here, it can play really difficult. But I think it's just going to be a fun little course and yeah, it's a great setup for a major. I'm really excited to play this week.

THE MODERATOR: You were here for Media Day, so you got a little bit of a sneak peak. "Elevation" was the word we talk about with majors, not elevation as in 2,000 feet above sea level, but elevating and taking our major championships to another level. KPMG and The PGA of America partnering with the LPGA. How important is it for you, one of the best players in the world, to see these major championships go to another level?

INBEE PARK: As a player, I think it is a great thing to see and I'm really excited to see. It's our tournament and this is where we compete, and that level is getting higher and higher and everybody helping us to raise this level up is a great thing. Obviously The PGA of America and the LPGA collaborating this tournament together and making a great tournament is something different and something unique. We've never done this before. Everything is really new and everything is very fresh and very exciting. So I'm really excited to see what this tournament is going to end up being. I'm sure it's going to be a great one, and hopefully I'll be the one holding the trophy. I can't control that one but for sure I'm going to try very hard.

THE MODERATOR: Can you talk about the wins that you had in this major over the last couple years, Locust Hill and also at Monroe, two very different golf courses and I'm sure as you said, this one feels like a U.S. Open type venue. How are these two championships different for you?

INBEE PARK: Obviously the Locust Hill was very narrow fairways, and the accuracy was the key for that golf course. Obviously tough greens and thick roughs. But the Monroe golf course was a bit different, a little bit wider fairways and not much off the tee but you have to work around the greens. I think it was two different golf courses, but I was able to handle myself really good on two different golf courses. This golf course is probably a bit of everything. You have to be accurate off the tee. You have to be accurate with the irons, and you have to putt really well. It's very slopey greens. You've really got to be careful and you've got to be on the lower side of the hole. Some of these holes, when you short-side yourself, you just have to walk away with bogeys. Those are some strategies we have to think about. The golf doesn't always go the way you want to obviously, but we have to at least try hard to do that.

THE MODERATOR: Before we get to our first question, one more from me. You're one of three players with multiple wins on the LPGA this season. If you can compare your position this year and how you're playing going into what really is a big major championship season now, compared to the last couple of years, do you feel like you're in a better place now? Is your game better than it might have been over the last couple years?

INBEE PARK: I feel like it was a good warmup. The 11 tournaments I had this year, from now to (the next) two months is a very important part of the season. The last few weeks has been a good confidence boost for me. The two wins gave me a lot of confidence, and obviously I had a best start of the season in 2013 but this is probably the second best season I've ever had, the earlier part of the season. I'm not really a quick starter, but this season has started very good, and hopefully wrap it up really nicely with these big tournaments coming on. I'm trying to get my body rhythm and the golf swing and the putting, everything, trying to get to the very good level in this summertime.

Q. You said that there's a lot of slope to these greens. You've talked about your putting. You've been frustrated a little bit with your putting but it seems like you've been pretty happy with it lately. What is the state of your putting now?
INBEE PARK: I feel pretty comfortable with the putting since Texas. I had a really good putting week in Texas, when I had that win. It just gave me so much confidence on that week. I had a new putter in Texas and tried that for the first week and I won that week. So obviously it was a good change and obviously I feel like I found a really good putter. I haven't been putting in 20s before Texas but since Texas and on, I've been putting in the 20s quite a lot of times. That's where I want to be. So I feel like I'm really getting close to where I want to be. These greens, sometimes you've just got to get it close to the hole, not trying to make everything like the other weeks. But I like the slopes on the greens. Instead of reading the putt and thinking, is this going left or is it going right, you can tell, these lines, it's going to go left, it's going to go right. It's just a matter of how much it's going to go. That's the types of greens I like and Westchester is definitely those greens. So there's no confusions with the breaks.

Q. So you've had the same putter in your bag that you had in Texas now. Is it the same kind of putter or did you change your style of putter at all?
INBEE PARK: I had Sabertooth before and I have a 2-ball now.

THE MODERATOR: As a follow-up to his question, you've won four of the past 11 majors on the LPGA, three in a row -- do you remember that?

INBEE PARK: I remember (laughs).

THE MODERATOR: So that was pretty good. If I told you you could only have one part of your game that might be most important in a major, for you, would it be accuracy off the tee specific to a course like this? Would it be hitting greens so you're not playing from around the greens in the rough, or would it be being lights out with the putter?

INBEE PARK: Definitely putter I think. Everybody would choose putter over anything. Putter is the scorer pretty much. So I definitely choose putter over driving or irons or anything.

Q. How is the course playing now, and how firm and fast would you like to see it for the weekend?
INBEE PARK: I played here three weeks ago when they had a Media Day. It's probably really similar condition to what they had. But I think they got rain a couple days, so it's playing a little bit softer than what I thought it would play. But obviously if they get dry weather for the next couple days, I think it can really firm up. I would like it would be a little more firm than right now. It's just really depending on the weather. Right now, it's holding up. It's holding the short iron shots and a little bit of mid-iron shots. So, yeah, I would like the fairways a bit more running so we get a little bit more shorter irons but with the firmer greens.

Q. Could you go into specifics on what you and your husband have been working on coming into this week to prepare for the major stretch here.
INBEE PARK: Nothing really special. We just try to do the same thing that we usually do. Sometimes I try too hard for the majors. Sometimes I try too hard for the important tournaments and it doesn't really seem to work well. So we just try to really stay with the same routine, the same things that we do. It was really hard to take Monday off yesterday, so I couldn't help myself, I just came out and just putted a little bit. And everybody was practicing so I thought I should practice a little bit. It's just those kind of things. It's a major. Everybody is excited and everybody wants to play well. I usually take Monday off. I usually don't practice Monday but I had to do a little bit. It's just those kind of things, trying to stay in the same routine. You try a little bit harder but that's what everybody is going to do. Try to have the pressure a little bit off of me. I love to play the week before the major tournaments to get last things checked and feel more relaxed. That's what I really try to do before the major tournaments.

Q. So The PGA of America set up this course. Have you noticed any subtle differences than maybe your typical LPGA week?
INBEE PARK: I say that there's a little bit of a difference where the LPGA is set being up the golf course and The PGA of America is setting up the golf course. They have their own thoughts. I mean, this is what my caddie said, they have the little pins in front of the green so they can shoot the front of the green. My caddie said, wish they could have that every week. It's just little things like that but nothing really major I don't think. They are both pretty good with the setting up the golf courses. There's probably some short par 4s and really long par 4s. LPGA probably have really similar distances of par 4s, so I think it's just they have a lot of par 5s on this golf course, too. So just a little bit of difference.

THE MODERATOR: We have some special guests in the room. We have a junior reporter, Nicole in the front row who is nine years old and we have Effie, who won the Drive, Chip & Putt Championship this year, as a special guest this week. You're going to hear a lot of the term this week, "inspire greatness," because of KPMG and what they stand for and what they are trying to elevate this major with their messaging. Who inspired you to be the great player that you are?

INBEE PARK: You know, it can be I think everything -- it doesn't take a lot to inspire somebody. It can be just a little thing. For me, just my dad just saying that I want to play golf with you and that could be your inspiration. I think it's just really depending on the people what your inspiration is and one thing for sure, it's nothing huge is the inspiration. It's just little things in life can inspire you all the time.

THE MODERATOR: You haven't finished lower than a tie for 18 this year. You have seven Top 10s, speaking of those victories. Do you feel pressure in trying to get back to No. 1 in the world knowing that each and every week as the skill level on this tour continues to get better and better and better that you have to have your A Game every week to be where you are?

INBEE PARK: I don't feel that much pressure going back to No. 1 or being No. 2. I don't really worry about No. 1 or No. 2 anymore that much. I've been there before and I know how that feels. I want to be No. 1 when I'm ready. Let's say if I finish like in the 10th and Lydia finishes a little bit worse, I become No. 1 by .001 or whatever and the next week is a week off and there's a change -- I like to be there when I'm ready and my game is good. There's no rush to it. We play every week and we play with each other every week. There's opportunities every week. Yeah, there's no rush for it.

Q. Now that this major is a co-operation with the PGA of America, have you noticed any differences? Does it feel or look differently? When this partnership happened, what did you all sort of think on Tour?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, we thought it was a great thing, because we never really had a collaboration with The PGA of America. We had one with the USGA and one with Ladies European Tour and Asian tours, but PGA of America was really the first thing for us. It's like a Women's PGA Championship. I felt we were going to get what the men get, probably something similar to them. I thought that would be really exciting. It looks like that's what is happening. This is a great facility. It's a great golf course, great everything in here, great practice facility. So, yeah, it's going to be a good week for us.

THE MODERATOR: Would it mean something extra special to be the first to win the tournament as it now currently stands?

INBEE PARK: Yeah, I think what more inspires me I would say is defending my title. Obviously I've never done anything three times in a row before -- well, a couple majors -- (laughter) but three times like defending, three times, never done that before, so that would be very special for me.

Q. About 15 years ago with the influx of women from South Korea came over, creating more competition for the American women and there was a lot of talk about a rivalry back then. Do you still sense a rivalry between the South Korean women and the American women?
INBEE PARK: I mean, obviously the United States and South Korea is the best women's golfing countries. Those two countries are always going to be having a rivalry in between obviously. Like the International Crown or next year, later, the Olympics, the United States and South Korea has the best players in the world in women's golf. So we are going to have somewhat a little bit of a rivalry at all times I think, and that's a good thing; that we have a competitor and that makes us to work harder.

THE MODERATOR: We'd better look out for Azahara and Beatriz and that gang from Spain. Inbee Park, No. 2 in the world, Rolex women's World Rankings, thank you very much.
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