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November 22, 2015

Lydia Ko

Naples, Florida

THE MODERATOR: We would like to welcome in the 2015 Rolex Player of the Year and the Race to the CME Globe winner for the second straight year. Lydia, I saw there were some tears right after you found out that you had won Player of the Year. What did it mean? You've become the youngest in history to win that award. What did it mean to you?
LYDIA KO: After just my putt lipping out on 18, like I said earlier in the week, I didn't know how these points worked out. I didn't know if 6th place was good enough or whatever. My mind kind of went completely blank, but at the same time trying to calculate things that I don't know how to calculate.
I think earlier in the week I said if I could choose one of the awards, I would love to be the Player of the Year. To know that I am the Player of the Year, it's an awesome feeling. Just having my team there and my coaches, my trainer, my family, it's a very special moment.
And I'm so happy that my team was here with me because it wasn't only me that was working hard, it was the whole team. Everybody was working so hard to get better and have that more of a consistent season. For them to be here with me, just a lot of emotions and it's probably the most I'll cry on TV ever.

Q. You now become only the fourth player in LPGA history to win the Louise Suggs Rookie of the Year award and follow it up by being the Player of the Year, Nancy Lopez, Beth Daniel, Annika Sorenstam, and now you. What is it like to be in the company of Hall of Famers in that seat?
LYDIA KO: Awesome. Beth, Annika, Nancy, they are legendary players. Their legacies are here with us. What they have done for the women's golf and LPGA, what they are still doing, they are an inspiration. To put my name along with those three amazing players, it's a huge honor to be part of that. In a way, I'm still thinking, hey, am I deserving to be along those names.
THE MODERATOR: I know last year we asked you when you walked away with a million dollars what you were going to buy. Have you thought what this $1million will be used for?
LYDIA KO: No, no. Maybe to pay the tax of the Kia car I got. I don't know. I didn't really think about it. Especially the last on the weekend and the last couple of days, the top 9, we were all playing good golf. We were all in position where we could make that $1million become ours. Just even until the last moment, you never know who was going to get it. It could have been Inbee, Stacy or whatever. I never really had a moment to think about it. Now we can think about it.
THE MODERATOR: Definitely, I don't know if you know this, but Rolex Player of the Year, the Vare Trophy, tournament title, the Race all came down to the 72nd hole of this tournament. Pretty unbelievable.
LYDIA KO: I think it made it exciting. The start of this week, I think it was just about, hey, is it going to be Inbee or me? Everybody was going of directing to one player rather than there being three winners at the end of the week.
Cristie played great, making the amazing eagle putt on 17. I played alongside her and she was playing great golf. I think there is a very deserving winner of our Tour Championship. And probably most of us would have thought one of the players is going to have both Player of the Year and Vare, but ended up being one for each person. I don't mind this result.
Inbee had an amazing season, congratulations to her in getting in the Hall of Fame. I think it's so exciting. It's been a special year for the Tour. It's not like the spotlight has been on two or three players. I think we've had so many multiple winners. It's been really exciting. For it to come down to the last hole, last group, last putt, it's been a great season on the LPGA.

Q. Part of being a special golfer is constantly wanting to get better. You have clearly done that. What do you think you can do to get even better moving forward?
LYDIA KO: I always feel like you can always get better. I shot 11‑under or something earlier in the year at the New Zealand Open and I felt 11‑under is great. It's a great day at the office. I still felt like, hey, I was that close to maybe shooting a 59. That's why I said there is no perfect round. If you were was a perfect round, you would be hitting it straight into your target and every shot going towards the green and it would go in the hole.
I think there's always a lot I can learn from. I can learn from this week and this year in general. It's not only just my game. I think scheduling and how to balance things is all‑‑ it was something I learned during the last two years.

Q. How have you learned to not be overwhelmed by fame, by fortune, by expectations? Cristie was in here a few minutes ago, she said you have a soul and that you don't seem 18 to anybody out here. Is this just you and can you learn to be that way?
LYDIA KO: I think I've been very fortunate to have a very supportive team around me. I think they have definitely helped me keep grounded, always say, hey, even if I win one week, it's a whole new week and let's go in fresh, obviously confident. Not being like, hey, I'm the champion and world No. 1 and all that. My team has really been helpful in that aspect. I don't know if I could be in this position without them really.

Q. There are a lot of people in this room who are much, much older than you who would have become so frustrated with these putts lipping out. We might have broken a club. You didn't do that. You seemed to show no frustration whatsoever out there. How do you remain so calm and were you churning inside when you were hitting those lips down the stretch?
LYDIA KO: I think we get a fine if we break a club. No, I mean, I did really want to throw my putter in the bush or in the water. It's a good thing the water is not there on every hole.
I said, hey, even if they kept lipping out or I became close, there's always another opportunity on the next hole. There's no 19th hole after the 18th, but I just have to look at the positives. I putted pretty solidly on Thursday, Friday. So I just got to say, maybe it wasn't my week to be‑‑ it wasn't a great putting week, but always taking the positive really helps to calm things down. I mean, obviously I did get really frustrated. If I see my line and all I can do is put a good stroke on it. The rest is part luck, part not seeing the line properly.

Q. When you missed the putt on 18, did you think you had blown it?
LYDIA KO: I didn't know what to think. I knew that I looked to my left and then I did see Inbee and our names right next to each other at 12‑under. Yeah, it might have been a good thing or bad thing that I didn't know how these points system work. If it did really come down to that four‑footer lipping out, I think it would have been‑‑ even though it's been awesome season, I definitely would have felt disappointed, especially with the whole team here rooting for me. I think that's why, when I did find out, there was just a whole lot of emotions. I didn't know what to think. I didn't know what happened.

Q. Last year you got a lot of laughs at the banquet when you rattled off your caddies. This year one caddy. How has Jason impacted your game?
LYDIA KO: It's his fault my speeches aren't as funny anymore. I was getting to my third one and everyone started laughing last year. It's been a good experience and good to have, I think, the consistent team around you.
Last year I felt like every caddie, every person has advantage and disadvantage. You have to look at the positives. I think we've been a strong team. There's always things we could work on and we could try and get better. It's been fun having him on the team. I would never imagine myself to be spending so much time with an Australian, but it's been a lot of fun. Just Australian and New Zealand, even though there is that rivalry, I know we are the closest countries together. We are pretty much like brother and sister kind of relationship. It's been great to have Jason on the team and hopefully this will go for a while.

Q. When you did see Inbee on the 18th green, was there any interesting exchange between you two? I'm sure you would like to win all the prizes, how meaningful is it that you both got to leave with something meaningful to both of you?
LYDIA KO: I kind of‑‑ I think I blocked everybody out, just coming off the 18th green. My eyes were headed straight to the scorer's hut. I was like, hey, let's forget about it and do everything.
When I heard that I was Player of the Year, after that I actually saw her and her family and her team and she's had an unbelievable season. Congratulations again for her getting to the Hall of Fame. I think it's so awesome. She deserves to be there. She's had her career Grand Slam this year, two majors, three other wins. It's been awesome. Even though, yes, I would have loved to be holding both Vare and Player of the Year, she's deserved these awards. I think there was no other player I would give it to.
It's been a fun season and I'm very fortunate that I got to play alongside Inbee and Stacy and all these other girls. We have a lot of fun out there. We're both competing against each other trying to feed off birdies amongst each other.

Q. What are your looking forward to doing in the offseason? Anything like a normal 18‑year old?
LYDIA KO: Jason asked me that question. I'm going to Korea. He said what is the first thing and most important thing you are going to do in Korea. I said I'm going to eat a lot of food. If I look like I gained a lot of weight in my first event back, you guys can't say anything. I'll eat. That's why I train so I can eat. So it's a good balance.
It's winter there, so opposite seasons to New Zealand. I'm sure I'll be seeing a little snow, maybe white Christmas. Who knows?

Q. (Inaudible)?
LYDIA KO: Wednesday.

Q. Years ago, golfers used to do things on their own, maybe a coach. You had people in New Zealand that worked closely with you. Can you imagine playing golf at this level without that kind of a team?
LYDIA KO: I know for sure I couldn't be here without my team. I know the team I have around me now and the team I had back in New Zealand, they have definitely helped me to get in this position. Even the team I had before in New Zealand, my coaches and physios, they helped me get the experience and the opportunity of playing on the LPGA as an amateur. Keep developing my game.
Right now, my very supportive team in Orlando, I know that I could not be here without them. That's why I kind of talk about my team a lot, put up photos. For sure, without them, I don't think there could be me. I've always feel like there's always going to be the supportive team around an athlete and that's what builds them and becomes a whole full team. It's not one individual's effort.

Q. Beyond the individual skills they bring to you, is it almost a little bit of confidence, a little bit of intangible they bring to you as well?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, it's like, when I'm working with David or Sean, it's not always about technique. We're not always saying let's do this, let's do this, let's get this better. They send me texts or we call so I can build my confidence. At the end of the day, I think the mental aspect of the game is huge. You might have a perfect swing on camera, but if you are not confident with it, what's the point. They have been building my confidence and I think that's a huge part of it. It's not only technique or some skill or just getting more stronger. I think there's other parts to it.

Q. Where does this rank alongside seeing the All Blacks win the rugby World Cup in England?
LYDIA KO: That was pretty exciting. The night before the finals, I was getting butterflies. I wasn't able to get great Internet while we were in China, so I wasn't able to look at it. It was at nighttime, so I didn't get the see the game either. I did a bit with Jason, I said, hey, if you lose, you have to wear all black the next day andwrite I love All Blacks. I let him off easy, he only wore a black shirt. Maybe I need to get him back again.
That was exciting. Rugby is one of the main sports in New Zealand. So I'm hoping that me, playing on the LPGA and me being maybe a little bit more on TV can show New Zealand more about golf and give these juniors opportunities to grow the game, grow golf in New Zealand. I think we've got great facilities, great golf courses, even at my home club when you are under 18, it's $100 annual membership fee. That's all you have got to pay. Sometimes you have to pay the course $100 just to play one round. I think we've got these great environments, so there's no reason why golf shouldn't be one of the main sports just like you rugby.
THE MODERATOR: I think you should have Jason wear all black in Australia at the beginning of next year.
LYDIA KO: When they wore the Cricket World Cup, he wore yellow and gold the next day. It wasn't‑‑ I wasn't happy seeing that, but it made my day when Paula said is that Brazil colors. I'll get him back. He wasn't feeling too well. I had a soft spot for him.

Q. (Inaudible)?
LYDIA KO: Oh, yeah. She had to write I love All Blacks on Twitter. I didn't want to write it the other way around. Good thing that the All Blacks won.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much for joining us. Congratulations. Another fabulous year. We can't wait to see what you have to put up in your third year on the LPGA Tour.

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