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August 16, 2016

Stacy Lewis

Gerina Piller

Lexi Thompson

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

JOEL SCHUCHMANN: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. After a successful bronze medal by Matt Kuchar of Team USA last week in the men's competition, I'd like to welcome the women's athletes for Team USA women's golf, Stacy Lewis, Gerina Piller and Lexi Thompson. Ladies, congratulations on being named to the Olympic team as the Olympics returns for the first time in 112 years. Congratulations.
We'll go right into questions. If you could raise your hand, we'll pass the microphones, please identify yourself and your affiliate. Thank you.

Q. I have a question for Stacy. You've spoken about this before, but just if we could get your thoughts on how important the Olympic golf tournament is to the women's game, not just the LPGA Tour, obviously important to them, too, but just in general for the whole sport.
STACY LEWIS: Well, this is an extremely important week for us. You know, and I think Mike Whan did a really good job of moving our schedule around so we don't play in the tournaments around the Olympics. I think that leadership from the top just shows that this is an important week for us. This is a great stage for us to play golf on and for the world to get to see us play, even more than they already do. We've got, I think, all the best players in the world are here. Nobody really dropped out. Everybody is here to compete. I think it's so cool to be an Olympian and to be around everything that this event is is so cool. I grew up probably watching the Olympics more than I watched golf even.
To be here and be a part of this is a big deal.

Q. Why is that? Is the exposure that important do you think?
STACY LEWIS: I think it is. You know, I think for our Tour and for women's golf, any time we can get people to experience what we're about and the way we play, you know, it's different than the guys. Our Tour is different in the way we do things. The way we play golf is different. Once people experience it and they see it, that's when they come back. So the more eyeballs we can get on us, the better. We're constantly fighting for network TV, and that's one huge part of this week is the coverage that we get, and you know, it's just‑‑ it's beyond anything I think we could do just as a Tour. We can kind of piggy‑back the Olympics and hopefully grow our Tour and grow women's golf.

Q. You guys play International Crown and Solheim Cup, you've worn the red, white and blue before, had the honor and privilege of doing that, but this is different. Obviously this is the biggest sports stage on the planet and you're among people from all over the world playing so many different sports. Talk about the difference and the honor and what it means to be a part of this.
GERINA PILLER: I think it's just really cool. It's not like any other event that we play for the team. Obviously you represent Team USA, but it still is an individual stroke play. For me personally, I'm sure the girls will probably agree, any time you can represent your country and put on the stars and stripes is one of the greatest honors, and it's just really cool to be around the other athletes. We play Solheim and we play International Crown, and that's golf. This is every sport you could think of is here at the Olympics. It's just really cool to see, you play your sport and you kind of master what you do, but to see from a difference perspective and get to see the other athletes and how they train.
We're very fortunate to have the LPGA, to have a place to play throughout the whole year, and some of these athletes, they're given one chance. It's just really cool that we have this opportunity to play in the Olympics as well as having a home to play on with the LPGA.

Q. Obviously with the guys, a lot of them didn't come and there was some talk that maybe‑‑ some Tweets and things that were alluded to that maybe they regretted not coming here. How important is it that all of the top women came in regard to propagating golf as an Olympic sport beyond 2020?
STACY LEWIS: I mean, I don't think any of the girls even really thought about not coming. That was just never a thought. It's just‑‑ it's just the way that we are on our Tour. When you have an opportunity to represent your country, you go, and an opportunity to play on the biggest stage, you go. That's just what we do. I mean, I second‑guessed it for a little while, but then I said to myself, how can I not play in the Olympics? How can you not want to be a part of this? I never got a good reason not to go, so that's why I'm here.

Q. It'll have been 18 days since you guys last competed. What have you been doing to stay sharp?
STACY LEWIS: I got married. I probably didn't have the best preparation coming into this, but I did have the best day of my life. I've gotten some practice in the last week or so, and then these last few days had some good practice. But really, I haven't been grinding over it. It was a week I want to come here and enjoy. I don't have huge expectations, but I'm playing well, so I wouldn't be surprised if I'm close there at the end. But definitely a little bit different preparation than normal.

Q. What did you two do?
GERINA PILLER: I flew five flights in one week after the British, so that was fun. My husband plays golf, as well, so just trying to balance being at home and seeing him, and I told him, I said, I'd go as soon as I landed from the British just so I'd have the next week to prepare for the Olympics. I don't think I did anything different.
I did pull weeds in my yard and my hamstrings are so freaking sore it's not even funny. But I like to think of it as just how I prepare for everything else. It's worked before. It works for a regular season event, it works for a major. I feel like it's going to work here, too. For me, not much different, just being home in Texas and loving every second of it.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, exactly. I had two weeks there at home in Florida, and same training and practice schedule like I do for every other tournament, just tried not to overthink things but work on things that I need to just improve in my game and the mental side of it. Just working on getting ready for this week.

Q. Did any of you watch the Olympic men's golf last week on television or do any scouting of the golf in person besides actually being there on Sunday? And did you learn anything about the golf course and the event if you did so?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I mean, I watched it basically every day, and my dad is caddying for me here, and he was like charting it as he was watching it on TV. But it was just cool to watch it on TV, see all the balls bouncing out on the greens and seeing what they were hitting off of tees and how it was bouncing in the fairways. We got a little insight from a few of the players when we were here and watched them the last day.
GERINA PILLER: I watched them tee off, I think. I just feel like they hit the ball completely different than the way we hit the ball, so I don't know, I just don't think that it was really going to do me any good. I actually enjoyed looking at the animals and seeing what was on the golf course. But yeah, I'm kind of not your typical golfer and preparer for a tournament as Lexi is beating it out in the gym and killing the drivers, I'm over there picking weeds out of my yard.
STACY LEWIS: I would say I watched a little bit, but I didn't watch it with an intent to try to learn anything. It was hard on TV to see the slopes and the severity of the greens. The TV just didn't really do it justice. That's what I was surprised by when I got here. But the guys on Sunday, they kind of gave us some insight. Each one of them told us don't go in the bunkers. But other than that, they said it was a fun course to play and that you can make some birdies. That's always good to hear.

Q. Golf is under a lot of pressure coming into this Olympics, and I think a lot of the pressure has been taken off by what the men did last week. Is that a tough act to follow, or does it make your life easier because you don't maybe have to put on a show, you can just free wheel?
STACY LEWIS: I mean, for me, I don't think it really changes anything. I mean, you know, maybe it takes a little bit of pressure off of hoping that the golf is going to be in the Olympics down the road. But other than that, I don't think it really changes. I think we were going to put on a great show regardless of what the guys did. But it certainly helps that it was so successful last week. I mean, I loved hearing the guys' comments about how excited they were to be here and how it exceeded all their expectations. That's what we needed. That's what we needed to hear, and that's what the guys got out there. I think the girls were going to do that regardless, but it was nice to hear it from them.

Q. Lexi, it's been said that this is a bomber's golf course. You're one of the longer hitters. After playing the course, do you agree with that, and do you feel like this is a course you can play aggressively?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yes and no. I think you can definitely take advantage of a few of the longer holes out there and get it down to as short of a club as you can. It helps on a few of the holes. But some of the holes you really just have to play it in a certain area to where you have the best angle at the green and leave the best yardage for yourself. I do hit a good amount of drivers but still, I hit some hybrids and 3‑woods out there, as well.

Q. Do you hit driver on 16?
LEXI THOMPSON: 16, no. I hit a hybrid, and it gets up to like 40 yards and gives me a good pitch up at the green.

Q. Stacy, your Arkansas ties, there are so many Razorbacks here at the Games. Jeff Henderson won a gold medal. How much support do you get from the Arkansas faithful and how much pride do you have in representing an entire state that's behind you?
STACY LEWIS: Well, it's awesome. We have a ton of Razorbacks in the field, and in golf we have quite a few, but it's usually the track and field that we dominate in, so it's nice to have some golfers and add some different athletes to the mix. I love representing Arkansas wherever I go, so to be here with these other athletes is pretty cool. We've got two raise or backs on the women's side. The only two on Tour. So it's a pretty special week for all of us, and we're definitely representing everywhere we go.

Q. Besides staying out of the bunkers, what other advice did the American men pass along to you about just maybe the Games in general and their week and maybe anything you can pass along on that front?
LEXI THOMPSON: Go to the Olympic Village.
STACY LEWIS: It sounds like Rickie had some fun last week. Rickie had some good stories. They just said to go and just hang out and be around the other athletes and go to as many events as you can. That was kind of the big thing. But I mean, they just raved about their week and how much fun they had. We're going to get to some stuff later this week.

Q. To kind of follow on that, what have you seen around town, the touristy bits, what sports would you like to go to, and what athletes, or is there one athlete you'd really like to meet here at the Olympics in another sport?
STACY LEWIS: We all met Katie Ledecky last night, which was pretty cool.
LEXI THOMPSON: That was quite the honor.
STACY LEWIS: I went to track last night.
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I went to track and field two nights ago and watched Usain Bolt kill it out there and got to see a world record, so that was pretty amazing. But the last two days have been pretty busy with us just trying to get our practice rounds in, so we haven't had too much time to go sightsee.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, we only got two days to learn the golf course, so it's kind of been pretty crammed in the last two days, so we haven't really had a lot of time to explore yet. But we're going to women's basketball tonight, cheer on the U.S.

Q. I would imagine you've seen each the gold medal if you met Katie last night‑‑ you didn't? She didn't have it with her? Have you touched a gold medal at all?
STACY LEWIS: No, we saw Kuchar's bronze, but that was it.

Q. Have you envisioned what it would be like to win a gold?
GERINA PILLER: You know, obviously for me growing up, that's not something that was ever in my mind, but since I qualified, you know, I'll probably get choked up even saying this, but just standing on the podium and hearing the National Anthem, I think that's pretty awesome.
STACY LEWIS: I think I definitely thought about it, just the cool part I think is you walk away and you get to keep that medal. You get to take it wherever you go. I've joked I'd take it wherever I went just to maybe wear it around my neck. It's something you get for the rest of your life. You get to be‑‑ one, we're already Olympics, but you get to be a medal winner, and that's pretty special. Everybody has tried to compare this to a major championship, and once you come here, it doesn't even compare. It's just completely different feeling, it's a different‑‑ it's just a different feeling on the golf course. It doesn't feel like a major at all. It just feels like the Olympics. It's unbelievable to be here, and to win a medal would be so special.

Q. Lexi, is there any circumstance where you would try to drive 16, and are the par‑5s reachable, or is that not a smart play?
LEXI THOMPSON: Well, 16 I actually‑‑ I hit a 3‑wood yesterday, and it was going right at the pin and actually rolled through into the left gully and almost went into the waste area, and obviously I saw the guys play from there, and that wasn't the best area because it doesn't bounce up every time. It's tough to make birdie from there, so if you lay back a little bit, it's kind of easier to give yourself a pitch shot to the pins there.
The par‑5s I do hit drivers on and go for the greens, like 1 I remember, 10. 1 and 10 I'll probably go for once I get in the fairway. But yeah, I hit a good amount of drivers, especially on the par‑5s I do.

Q. When we spoke to the guys last week before the tournament, a little kind of funny debate broke out between Bubba and Rickie. Rickie was saying we're always going to go for the win. That's how we're wired. But Bubba said he lays up for a bronze if on 18. So you're in a situation on 18 on Sunday and par is going to get you a bronze medal. Are you getting aggressive and going for gold, or are you saying, it would be all right to be on that podium at all?
STACY LEWIS: I think if you're two shots back, I don't think you get too aggressive. If you're one shot back, I think you go try to win silver. It just depends on the situation like the guys had last week. You had kind of two battling for those first two medals and a bunch of people battling for the bronze. It just depends on the situation. I mean, I don't‑‑ I mean, I think it would be‑‑ I don't know, I think any medal would be cool, but it just depends on the situation for me.

Q. I don't think any of you have said what you thought of the course. I haven't heard that. Stacy, you said you had kind of two days to get out there. What are your thoughts on the golf course?
STACY LEWIS: I think the golf course is great. It's a course you can make a bunch of birdies on, but you have to be pretty careful on some other holes, and like Lexi talked about, it's more about placement than anything. It's hitting it to the right spots to give yourself the right angles. I think length helps on any golf course, especially here I think you can cut some of the corners if you want to. You just have to be really specific with your shots. Good ball striker is going to win here I think at the end of the week.
GERINA PILLER: I think it great it gives you a lot of variety with clubs into the greens. There's some that are par‑4s that are pretty long so you're going to have a long iron, maybe hybrid. Par‑3s are great. You have a short one coming in on No.17, and you have a longer one, I think it's 13, 14. So there's just a lot of variety I feel like. There's some courses we play that you kind of wear the same club out, but I think that I've hit every single club in my bag. I think it just tests your all‑around golf. It's not‑‑ you can't just like bomb driver everywhere and then flip a wedge up there. Like Lexi said, there's drivable par‑4s but I would choose to kind of lay back on some of those just because of where the pin placement in. You've kind of got to plan for your second shot, where you want to be and where you can't be.
LEXI THOMPSON: What they both said. But the course is in perfect shape for us, first of all. But it is a very different layout. When I warm up before my rounds, I usually just do certain clubs, but I feel like here I have to hit more of the clubs in my bag because it's definitely a variety of holes. Like I have a few long irons into a few of the par‑4s and par‑5s, as well, but then they have the short par‑4s where you have a few pitch shots in. It's definitely a variety of clubs that you have to hit, but it's a great layout. It's definitely a tester.

Q. When you guys play internationally, a lot of times it's a match play format. Would you guys like to see in the future maybe a different system in place along with the stroke play, like maybe a match play or a team aggregate kind of thing?
STACY LEWIS: I would like to see some sort of team aspect where there's just like a two‑person team score. Not necessarily a fan of match play just because I think at this event you want the best players to win, and you're going to get the best players to win in a stroke‑play event. But I would definitely like to see a team aspect to it. I think it's fun‑‑ it would be pretty fun to stand up there on the podium by yourself, but it would be even more fun to stand up there with somebody else, so it would be pretty cool if they could add that in the future.
GERINA PILLER: I know it's tough with golf doing that because there's a lot of countries that may not be able to have a full team, and I know that that's kind of what the Olympics is about is representing your country and having the country represented. I feel like I would love to see a team event because you are participating as Team USA, but I think that there's just kind of like a barrier there between having a team event and then there's some countries that may have‑‑ that may not be able to fill a full team, so they're not going to be able to participate. But I think it would be pretty cool, like Stacy said, to compete as a team.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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