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OLYMPIC GAMES RIO 2016: GOLF


August 20, 2016


Shanshan Feng

Lydia Ko

Inbee Park


Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

THE MODERATOR: Like to introduce the three medal winners that made the return of golf very special in Brazil. Bronze medalist from China who finished at 10‑under par, shooting a 69 today, Shanshan Feng.
To my far right, the silver medalist from New Zealand, who finished at 11‑under par shooting a 69 today, Lydia Ko.
And the Gold Medalist from the Republic of Korea, who finished at 16‑under par, shooting her third 66 in the tournament, and leading the field for the third straight day, Inbee Park.

Q. How does one step away from top competition for two months and play the way you did today, and what's the most meaningful thing about this victory?
INBEE PARK: Well, I prepared very hard in the last month to come this week and obviously there was nothing guaranteed, because I haven't played that well this season, and I haven't really played that many events with the injury.
So I had to overcome a lot of obstacles. I was able to make my body, physically and mentally, strong enough to compete this week. But obviously didn't expect‑‑ didn't really look for the result. I looked for the results, but didn't really expect much of a result. I just wanted to do what I've just prepared and I just wanted to do what I can do.
There was a lot of naysayers back in Korea where I think they were saying after I made my decision, maybe because I have had the injury, maybe they will think‑‑ a lot of people was saying that maybe it is better to have another player in the field, a fellow South Korean player, which is very understandable. But I really wanted to do well this week to show a lot of people that I can still play.
I'm just happy that I am playing right now. Nothing was really guaranteed a couple months ago where I can play another tournament in golf or not. So I'm happy with that.

Q. How nervous were you over that putt on 18? You knew you were going to have a medal of some color, so did that make it easier or harder?
LYDIA KO: At the back of your mind, unless you make a careless mistake to know that you would be able to hold a medal no matter what, I thought, wow, I can't believe I'm here in this position.
I had not been putting very well today. There's so many that was close, but ended up not falling. Coming down the stretch, I tried to play a little bit more aggressively, and that worked in my favor coming down on 16. Knowing that Shanshan had been playing great today, great all week, I thought maybe she might make a birdie on 18, too.
But either way, I think it was a dramatic finish. Even though as players, we were nervous and excited for that putt in front of us, I think we made it very exciting for you guy, for the media, for the fans and everybody that was watching worldwide.

Q. While you and Inbee have much to celebrate on the 18th green, the third person in your group, Gerina Piller, what did you say to her afterward?
LYDIA KO: Obviously it wasn't the greatest finishes. But I feel like I've been in that position, too, this year. I was leading going down into the last day of the U.S. Open and shot over par on the last day. But either way, I think Gerina still had a fantastic week and I think she made the whole of the U.S. proud. I think she has done amazing at the end.
Sometimes I think we can get carried away by just the results, but I said the Olympics is about celebrating each and every player, celebrating obviously the medalists at the end of the tournament. But I think Gerina, when she looks back, she'll say, wow, that was a great week. She played great and I think either way, I think everyone is proud of her. I think her teammates are also proud of her, too.
Q.How did you prepare for this week?
INBEE PARK: I have been working with two coaches since last month, and because of the injury, my swing was a little bit, not swinging the way I wanted, and we didn't know exactly what the problem was.
The new coach, my husband's friends, found some good points on my swing and we worked on that. Yeah, so I was hitting the ball much better than a couple months ago.

Q. Where does this victory rank in your career? You've been talking about how the Olympics was the highlight of your career. You've won many tournaments, majors. But where does the Olympic Gold Medal rank?
INBEE PARK: I think definitely at the top because you know, this is something I've never done before. I've won majors, but I haven't won a Gold Medal, so this feels definitely very, very special and nothing I want to change. It's a special week and special feeling, and I'm so honoured to represent my country. Being able to receive the Gold Medal on the golf course was an unforgettable moment.

Q. I think when you played in the KLPGA sponsor event, you missed the cut by one. How close were you to not playing?
INBEE PARK: I wanted to play competitive golf before coming into the Olympics, because I wanted to test all my skills. I wanted to know what to work on. That's why I really decided to play that week.
I found the problems on my swing. I found the problems on the greens. I found the problems everywhere. I knew what to work on coming into this week. Obviously competing against professional golfers and just having a practice round is different. So competitive golf was really needed to compete?

Q. Was there any part of you that thinks people might have forgotten that you can play this game pretty good?
INBEE PARK: Well, I mean‑‑
LYDIA KO: She's really good. She's not pretty good. She's really, really good.
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I think I was lucky enough to make a lot of putts this week. Obviously it was a tough day yesterday with the windy conditions and I was able to shoot under par in the third round. That was really the key.

Q. A question from New Zealand. There are a lot of New Zealanders out there today, including some very famous Gold Medalists watching you, and they told me that was one of the best experiences they have seen at the Olympics was watching you. How does that make you feel having that response from Hamish Bond, Eric Murray, those kinds of people.
LYDIA KO: Yeah, because I don't live in New Zealand right now and I haven't been there‑‑ and I don't back home very often, there's not that many times where I can cross paths with the other New Zealand athletes.
That was one of the greatest things that I was really excited about this week was that I was able to meet other New Zealand athletes and see some that I had met before like Eric. We've done a sponsor thing before. And to see him out here and come out and support me, I think has been amazing. That's been one of the greatest memories of this week is to see the other New Zealand athletes, see the New Zealand flag out there and them waving and shouting and supporting. It's been amazing.
I feel like coming down the stretch, that really helped me to kind of push through. I knew that I wasn't only doing this for me and not only for my team, but for the other athletes that were here and for the whole of New Zealand.
Hopefully I made them proud, and it was even for me, as a fan perspective, I was so proud to see the Gold Medalists and the Silver Medalists. That's the greatest part of this week.

Q. With your medal, New Zealand females have now won more medals than New Zealand males for the first time ever in the Olympics. Quite proud of the sisters, as well?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, female power, really. Sometimes I think people say, hey, because of the men, the women are here in this position. But I feel like we have a great reason to say the women can speak for ourselves. It shows how strong the women are and just even by seeing Inbee and Shanshan and all the other athletes, I think each and every one of the players have made their countries proud.
For me to put my contribution in the middle tally and for the women to have more medals than the men, I think it's great. It's something I think for every female in the whole of New Zealand to celebrate about. I think it shows just how strong and how talented the woman's sports athletes are, not only in golf but in all sports.

Q. How did you feel about missing the birdie chance on 18 and overall for the week, anything that made you feel like it was upset about?
SHANSHAN FENG: Overall in the first half of my year, I actually haven't been playing very well. I've only made like a few Top 10s on the LPGA and none in top three so far. My World Ranking has dropped from fifth to like maybe 13th, I don't know where it is at now. So I haven't been playing well.
Coming into this week, I actually did not expect myself to have a medal at the end of the week, but what I was trying to do was to enjoy and try to focus on shot by shot. At the end, I got a medal, so all the hard work has paid off and I'm really happy about it.

Q. Could you describe a little bit about the motivation that carried you through all the process to the medal finish here and to the significance of the games and promotion back in China?
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, of course, China is a very strong country always in the Olympics, and we've made so many gold, silver, Bronze Medals. So my Bronze Medal, maybe it doesn't mean that much for the whole number.
But to myself, I mean, it means a lot, because this is golf back in the Olympics after over a hundred years, and I believe it's the first time that actually a Chinese athlete is competing in this event.
So before I came, I was like, you know, it doesn't have to be me, but four of us, like two boys and two girls, if anybody can have a good result, maybe a medal, it's going to really change everything about golf in China. And of course, I mean, I made it, so that made me even more happy about it.
Coming into this week, I knew that we would be televised all over the world, and usually back in China, you can only watch golf tournaments on golf channels. So like normal people, if they don't know about golf, they don't play golf, they never see us. Like I walk on the street, nobody will know who I am because they don't play golf.
But this time, golf is televised on all channels back in China, even people that they don't play golf, they actually get to see us and they get to actually see how great the Chinese players are. Of course, I make sure that I brought out my AGame and I smiles all the time, whenever if I missed a putt or making a putt. I was like, oh, people back in China are watching, so I need to make sure that I look nicely (laughter) yeah.
Normally when we play golf, maybe we'll have poker faces because we're in working mode. We want to be serious. But this time, I'm like, this is the first time people see me, so maybe I need to look a little nicer, so I smiled a lot more.
But I think that's what actually helped me a lot this week. It helped me to release all the pressure, because I smiled, that meant I wasn't nervous. I didn't care about the results, and I just wanted to enjoy the week, and that's how I got here.

Q. You've achieved so many golfing successes, often the youngest to achieve many things, but you're also now the youngest female Olympian to achieve a medal from New Zealand. What is that new accolade like?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, I think two 19‑year‑olds back‑to‑back winning medals, I think you can't really compare a major or you can't compare any tournament to each another. Each and every one of them are special in its own way, and when you look back, you have so many great memories from that.
I've been dreaming about this moment, dreaming about representing New Zealand since 2009, and being there on the first tee on Wednesday, it brought out a lot of nerves, a lot of butterflies. I had to kind of think of it as, hey, just go out and enjoy it. Go out and try to play some good golf for New Zealand, and the whole of New Zealand is watching, like the whole of China was watching Shanshan.
Those are the things that I tried to think and embrace about, and you know, that's why‑‑ that kind of helped me to relax. And to feel the support and love and get messages that, hey, I'm not going to bed for you; I have to be awake all night to see and watch you play, I think those things kind of inspired me and pushed me.
The Silver Medal, I said, if I get a medal, I'm never going to take it off. I think I might have to shower with it. And I know that it doesn't rust; or at least we're going to try it.
But you know, this is an honour, and I think, you know, this medal is obviously something that I'm very proud of. But it's I think a medal that represents every golfer here, and you know, everyone back at home in New Zealand.

Q. How did you keep your poker face, or did you really feel nothing out there?
INBEE PARK: I felt quite pressured and quite nervous all week this week. Can't compare it to any other week. I felt so much pressure and I felt like this week was so long, physically and mentally, very exhausted, but I'm happy with the result.
Obviously when you're playing for your country, there is some kind of extra energy and power that's coming from you. So I think that really drove me really well on the golf course.

Q. Lydia, I spoke with your caddie after the round and he just said what an excellent experience it's been for him this week, staying at the village. Wonder if you girls can talk about your relationship with your caddie this week, as opposed to other weeks on Tour, and considering that the caddie is in the field of play, any thoughts that these guys deserve a medal with you two, also?
LYDIA KO: Me first? Oh, come on. I think teamwork‑wise or how we approached it, it wasn't different to any other event we go to. Jason did come here earlier than usual. I think to my knowledge, he came here last Tuesday. So he's been here, I said he's probably half‑Brazilian by now and knows a lot of Portuguese. But he was no help when we went to the restaurants.
But I think he realized what the Olympics meant to me and what it meant to our whole team. But what we did on the course, it was no different in that we try and trust each other. I obviously seek him for advice sometimes, and when I'm pressured, for him to calm me down or make me laugh, his jokes here and there. Even when I saw Brad, Inbee's caddie out there, I said, "Hey, Gold Medalist."
I know that even on Jason's part, he has helped me through this week and I know he's put a lot of his time and effort, not only this week and last week, but the weeks coming into the week. So I think the caddies are deserving, so maybe I need to put this over his neck, and then he can have a feel and see how heavy it is. You never know on TV. But no, I think he's done a great job and I think every caddie, especially our caddies, should be proud of what they have done this week and what their players have done this week.

Q. As we know, you and Xi Yu Lin and Guan Tianlang are the most promising players in three different age group‑‑
SHANSHAN FENG: Which age group am I in? (Laughter) The teenagers maybe?

Q. Teenagers. Teenager. Is it a coincidence that you come from the same city in China, Guangzhou, and if not, how do you think the city influenced you in a good way, influenced your career in a good way?
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, we all grew up in Guangzhou together, but me, Janet (Xi Yu Lin ) and Guan Tianlang, we all grew up and we are from the same city. I think the reason why we have more good golfers in Guangzhou is because we have a very good junior team. We were all teammates in the junior team, of course, but I was older. They were very small, but I was still on the team.
I would say‑‑ I don't know how to explain, but everybody tries so hard and work hard. It doesn't matter if your family is wealthy or not. Everybody tries hard because we all have the same goal, is to play good golf, and become like a great golfer in the future.
So I used to play with Guan Tianlang, I used to play with Janet, and if they have any questions, they always ask me. I think actually the city gives us a lot of chances to play in a lot of different competitions, too.
And I don't actually know why Guangzhou has more good golfers, but it might be the food. Guangzhou is famous about food, yes. So if you want to be a good golfer, you come to Guangzhou, you eat Cantonese food. Check maybe that's one of the reasons, I don't know, or maybe water, maybe people. I have no idea. (Laughter).

Q. Who was in your mind when you first got the Gold Medal?
INBEE PARK: There was no really one person I could pick out. I think it's all the people hard working together to become where I am right now. From my family to my husband to my coaches, everyone that was cheering for me back home and just everybody hard working together, and that became a Gold Medal.

Q. Sorry to end on such a boring question, but I just needed to know what club you hit on No. 8, the par3.
INBEE PARK: 6‑iron.

Q. And which of the birdie putts or any of the birdie putts you made today excited you the most.
INBEE PARK: Every putt was exciting, but when I made a putt on No.17, I kind of thought that maybe I can win a Gold Medal, so I got excited after making the putt on 17.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies and congratulations for being Olympic Champions.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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