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October 12, 2015
Incheon, South Korea
NICK PARKER: Hello, everyone. Like to welcome everyone to the KEB Hana Bank Championship. Here with Ingee Chun, So Yeon Ryu, Inbee Park, Lydia Ko and Juli Inkster. Thank you all for being here, first off.
Juli, wanted to start with asking you just how you've seen Korean golf evolve on the LPGA Tour. You've been out here, legend on Tour, seen everyone from Se Ri all the way to Inbee and kind of this next generation with Lydia and Ingee.
JULI INKSTER: Well, it's evolved rapidly. I remember Se Ri when she was a rookie coming out here, very powerful player, very well spoken. Their work ethic and their techniques, amazing. It's been great for worldwide golf.
They really set the bar high for all of us, and they are a lot of fun. I really enjoy being around them and being with them and playing with them. They are very respectful and they honor golf and respect the game of golf.
That's how I was brought up to play, and I can see it carrying on the tradition.
Q. How have you seen this tournament evolve since it first got started, and what it's it like to be home?
JULI INKSTER: I went out to see how Korean golf's evolved. I went out to The Presidents Cup on Sunday, and what I love about Korea is the way they embrace their players. They have so much respect for women's golf. And I wish the United States would do more of that. I couldn't believe how many people knew my name out there.
These players coming up, and Se Ri really set the stage; that they respect their games and they respect women's golf, which I think is marvelous right now?
INGEE CHUN: I think the KEB Hana Bank Championship has evolved for me in terms of the meaning it has for me, as well. When I first played here, I was an amateur, so it was just a dream come true to be able to play with the LPGA players. And when I turned pro, I took part as a KLPGA member, it was an honor to play in the championship.
And it was a great experience to learn from the LPGA players, and I have great expectations to that end. It was a great experience. And as an LPGA player now, this is a sponsor's tournament, so I really want to win. And so I think that the championship has kind of evolved in its significance as I kind of grew.
INBEE PARK: As you know, the LPGA is largely U.S.-based, we don't get an opportunity to play in front of our Korean fans in Korea. I think the biggest advantage of this championship is at least once a year we get to play in front of our family and Korean fans, so that in itself is a great experience. It is the only LPGA Championship held in Korea. This is my ninth time, and last year, I think it's kind of been there as I have played as a player, for instance, last year, I got married, and then right afterwards, I took part in this championship.
And so you have a lot of affection for this championship and.
Q. As a westerner coming over here, I'm a little surprised by the nationalism and the national pride that everybody seems to take in the LPGA, from the guy driving the bus from the airport to the waiter in the hotel. Why is that? What do you equate that to? You've been America for awhile; what sport is the equivalent? Is it Major League Baseball, college football? What kind of fan equivalency would you draw from this?
SO YEON RYU: I think when Se Ri won the '99 U.S. Women's Open, then so many Koreans just really feels proud of her that, you know, Korea is such a small country, but she still shows how strong she is and what's it like in a Korean country.
After that, Koreans started to really respect golf, because golf really wasn't popular before she won the tournament. After that, Se Ri was not only one great player on the LPGA. Inbee began playing really well, she's still playing really well and so many Korean players still play so great in the States.
So I would say after that, so many Koreans really love to see all the Korean players playing really well in the other side of the country. We kind of introduced what's Koreans like, what's the Korean culture, what's the Korean food.
I think that kind of thing, we can see how strong a sport it is; that's how the Koreans started getting interested in golf and getting interested in Korean women's golf, as well.
I would say football, must be No. 1 sport in the States. Especially this year, Ingee won the U.S. Women's Open as a KLPGA player; Inbee achieved the Grand Slam as first Asian player. I would say women's golf is like football in the states.
INBEE PARK: I disagree a little bit with So Yeon there, because I know how big the football is in America and the baseball is in America. But I think we still have a lot more room to improve women's golf and men's golf.
So we still have a lot of room there to learn. It can get a lot more bigger. Korean people love their sports, but I think we have got to have a lot more tournaments in Korea, a lot more events, venues in Korea to have a lot more people enjoy golf like The Presidents Cup or like the Solheim Cup. Something like that, that can draw a lot more people into golf.
It is really big in Korea and people love golf in Korea. Women's golf is so big in Korea. But like you saw last week in The Presidents Cup, Korean men's golf is very good, too.
But I think it's been a little bit misunderstood by maybe a little bit of Korean culture. Because women's golf is so big in Korea, but the men's golf is not as big in Korea. So I wish sometime in the future, people can know how good the Korean men golfers are, as well.
Q. I'm curious why so many people here are so enthused by it, and their sense of nationalism about it. I hate to say this, but Juli, they might know you here but that cab driver in Cleveland, he bet he doesn't.
JULI INKSTER: For sure. It's reverse in the United States. I mean, the men, everybody knows the men. And the women, no one knows.
And I don't know if that's because we have basketball, baseball, football, college sports. Most of the people that are running those are male-oriented. I wish it was more like this over in the States.
INBEE PARK: Korean peoples are really passionate about everything. It's a really small country compared to the United States, so everything gets spread really quickly than back in the States.
If somebody says, you know, I know So Yeon Ryu, she's a golfer; and the word spread so much quicker. That's why I think people are so much -- stick together so much better, and I think, yeah, it's a small country.
Q. This is the first time most of you have seen you since the Solheim Cup. What was the response when you got home and were you surprised at how big the thing played worldwide?
JULI INKSTER: The response was phenomenal. Everybody in the United States, it was great for women's golf. I thought the golf that week was phenomenal. You know, just my team on Sunday made 70 birdies. So they played really great golf.
I wish we would have gotten more response. I'm sure if it was the Korean team playing and coming home, winning something like that, it would have been amazing.
Every year, you try to build from that. It's getting better, but can always do better.
Q. I know you were out at The Presidents Cup. Did you see the players or the captain, Jay Haas, before the matches; as Solheim Cup winning captain, any advice to the players?
JULI INKSTER: I didn't give them any advice. I thought they were pretty good by themselves.
Jay Haas and I have played a lot of golf together. We are very good friends. So he invited me. I stayed in the team room for awhile. They geared me up with rain gear and hats and all that. I got inside the ropes. I watched Phil Mickelson for nine holes and then I watched Billy Haas for nine holes.
The atmosphere out there was amazing. I know they were rooting for the International Team, but also, I felt like they were rooting for the Americans. I think they just really like to see good golf, and there was a lot of great short game shots that were played.
It played tough. I mean, the wind was up and it was rainy. I didn't see a lot of birdies, but I saw a lot of great pars.
Q. So I know this is kind of an impossible question because nobody knows who is going to win obviously and everybody is in it to win. But if you could make a prediction as players, you see each other close on the field, if you can name yourself, of course; if you can make any predictions about who might take away the championships this year, starting from Ingee.
INGEE CHUN: I think it's very unpredictable who will win the championships last year. For instance, last year, I did very well. I was runner-up.
I think that with the LPGA Championship -- you can learn a lot from your fellow players. Everybody is hitting is very well. Everybody has a strong short game. In short, I think everybody has a chance of winning.
I can't say which player will win, but what I can tell you is that you are going to see some great golf this week.
SO YEON RYU: As you mentioned earlier, this is a huge championship with not just three or five players, but more than 50 players on the field. I also cannot predict who will win but I know everybody is in it to win it. What I can say is it's one of the championships that I would like to win the most, so I am one of the players who wants to win it the most.
I think all I can do is do my best, and of course, sometimes your best is not enough. You do need a little bit of luck. So I will just try to do my best under the circumstances and hopefully I'll be a bit lucky.
INBEE PARK: I guess the biggest goal of this competition and what will determine the winner is how you whether you win in the competition against yourself.
So if you play the best game that you have ever played, then obviously that player is going to win. Although, I do hope that the winner could come from somebody on the stage here today.
LYDIA KO: Yeah, it's always hard to choose a winner, even though -- and it's only on the Monday. So it's nearly impossible. But everybody is going to go out. They are trying their best. I'm sure there will be a lot of great golf out there.
This tournament last year was the first time where I played in front of the Korean fans in Korea. I had a great experience and I wish I could finish a lot better. So that's I think my goal for this week, to have a better result than last year.
It's a tough course, and it can get really windy as everyone can see outside. So I think somebody who is really creative and holes a lot of putts will definitely be the winner at the end of the week.
JULI INKSTER: I'm just going to say what they said. They were spot-on.
Q. So if you were a captain of an International Team, not a U.S. Team, and you had the right to bring along two players, who would they be, if you were the captain of an International Team, not the U.S. Team?
JULI INKSTER: Well, I would take two of these right here (laughter). No doubt about that. Yes, I would definitely take two of these up here, any two. They will have to fight it out.
Q. Inbee and Lydia, you seem to be defending various different titles, especially towards the end of the year. If there is one title you really want to hold onto, what is that?
INBEE PARK: Last year and the year before that, towards the end of the season, I was in a position where I was constantly having to defend my title. I have won Player of the Year, I have won the Vare Trophy.
But recently I came to realize that being aware and conscious of defending these different titles has kind of sacrificed my game in a way because I kind of tend to lose concentration by really paying attention to something that is not really central and pivotal to the game.
In fact, in the past two to three years, I haven't really been able to enjoy myself during the Asia swing, especially when this is a time when you're wrapping up the season and you're supposed to have more fun and relax.
So this year, I won the British Open and I achieved a career Grand Slam, so really this year, my goal is to really not get side stepped by these distractions that come in the form of defending these various titles, and I really want to enjoy myself.
LYDIA KO: Obviously right now, because the World Rankings between Inbee and I are so close point-wise, there's a lot of say about who is going to be No. 1 at the week and there's just so much.
But when we are out there, we are just going out there to play some good golf. You know, just trying to enjoy it. I think if we think about what one putt is going to do to the World Rankings, we would not be able to enjoy it. I'm just going to try to enjoy the rest of the Asian Swing.
To me personally, I'm not trying to be all humble and all that, but I really feel like Inbee deserves to be in that world No. 1 ranking. I mean, she did a career Grand Slam this year, she won two majors and she won I think two other events.
So when you have that kind of a year and you played consistently well the last couple years, you deserve to be there. I mean, to me, it's so much fun to be able to play alongside Inbee, Juli, So Yeon and Ingee; to just go out there and have fun and all of us try to hold the trophy at the end of the week.
I think in a way, we are kind of missing out on the most important part; that we are out here trying to play some great golf, show what the LPGA is like, and I think that's the most important thing; rather than one shot or what one placing could do to the World Rankings.
Q. Inbee, it seems that last week, also, your putting was a bit week. So I noticed that you were practicing. With a kind of changes will you be bringing to the game and tomorrow, I believe is your first-year wedding anniversary. Do you have any special plans? Can you share that with us?
INBEE PARK: At the Evian Championship, I struggled with my putting and thought that it could not get any worse, but in Malaysia, I struggled with my putting again; so I thought I might get cancer from the stress (laughter).
But all the other elements of my game, I'm hitting good, my short game is strong. It's just I think the putting that's kind of holding back my score at this point. So I usually don't practice on Mondays, but today I kind of wanted to get out there and try to see if I could find what I can change. But that's not something that can be identified so easily.
So I'm just going to not have very high hopes. I'm going to keep my expectations low. But I will do my best and try to practice.
We don't have any special plans, but I think maybe we'll have a romantic dinner or something.
JULI INKSTER: Can we come? (Laughter).
NICK PARKER: Thanks so much everyone for coming in.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports