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October 15, 2016

Alison Lee

Incheon, South Korea

THE MODERATOR: I'm here with Alison Lee for the third day in a row. Good to see you again.

Run us through how you were able to bounce back after each bogey, one on the front and one on the back, and bounced back with birdies after each. What was going through your mind as you were hitting the hole after your birdie?

ALISON LEE: Obviously I was really disappointed when I got my first bogey on No. 3. Definitely set me back. But I wasn't too worried. I felt confident with my iron shots. I almost knew I would bounce back because I had a lot of holes left to play and I've been striking the ball really well.

I made four birdies in a row right after that, so it was a great bounce back.

On the back nine, even though I shot 4-under, I still left a lot of the birdie chances out there. I'm really happy with how I've been playing the past few days. I've just been hitting it really solid.

THE MODERATOR: You're in your second year on the LPGA Tour. For some of the fans and spectators that may not know you yet, what kind of player do you want to be seen as, that you wish was known about you to some of your newer fans today?

ALISON LEE: That's a really good question. Yeah, I would definitely say maybe an underdog, I guess, compared to a lot of the other rookies in my class, because they've played well and kind of out shined everyone else in my class.

Like I said, main thing I want people to know -- a lot of people don't know I am still in school and attending UCLA, and actually taking classes on campus. It angered me a little bit the other day about a tweet saying, Oh, it's so amazing how you're in school and playing golf at the same time. Good thing UCLA is easy.

I kind of laughed to myself. I was like, UCLA is not easy. People just think that I'm just in school and golf and it's like nothing, but it is really hard. I want people to know how much hard work I'm putting into everything. It's not like I'm fooling around and not studying.

Literally as soon as I leave the golf course and I go straight back to my hotel and hit the books. I haven't been having dinner with my friends this week. Even my family members this week I haven't had time to really spend quality time with them because I've been a little behind on school work because this whole week has been really hectic.

Yeah, that's what I want people to know. I want to get my degree and I want to graduate from UCLA by June.

THE MODERATOR: What drives you to try to accomplish both? Often if you're very good at golf you're driven to be the top of the world in golf, and yet you also have this drive to graduate on time and finish your studies at UCLA and do well in them as well? What drives you to do that?

ALISON LEE: I would say growing up I guess I was pretty much the same age as Lexi Thompson and Jessica. We competed a lot in the junior golf. Watching them turn pro right out of high school, I actually wanted to do that as well. I planned for a long time I'm just going to turn pro instead of go to college.

Then, I don't know, something just changed my mind and I wanted to go to UCLA and I committed my sophomore year. I spent my first year at UCLA and played well and had a blast; had the best time ever.

A lot of people were questioning why I'm in school. Why are you if school? Why aren't you out on tour instead making money? I was asking them, Why not? Kind of changed my mindset. Seeing a lot of girls nowadays turn pro so early and not experiencing college and life like I am, I kind of wish they would experience that.

For me, I kind of almost want to inspire a lot of girls to go to college. Say, It's okay. It's okay to go to college. There is a misconception of thinking if you go to college you start playing bad and you get driven off the road.

In my opinion, I feel like if golf is really what you want to do, that's not going to happen. I want to show people it's possible. You can do it. You can be in school and play golf at the same time and play well out here.

Michelle Wie going to Stanford and getting a degree really drove me and inspired me to finish college. And all the friends I've made at school, pretty much most of them are nongolfers. To be around that kind of crowd and all of them cheering me on from home, it's super great. Literally they know nothing about golf and they still follow me and somehow figure out how I'm doing. That's really cool.

So it's just nice. It's a nice life. I love it. I love going back home. I love going back to my little apartment in Westwood and being around all my friends. It's a nice escape from golf. I wouldn't want it any other way.

I'm a senior now so I'm going to be done with school in a year. I'm kind of sad actually that I'm going to be leaving soon. It's definitely something I want to show others and inspire other girls that it's okay to do.


Q. (Through translation.) I understand that you're grandfather on your mother's side is from Korea. They have come out to support you. How has that impacted your game in this championship? If you do win, it would be your first win in Korea. Could you comment?
ALISON LEE: Actually, both my grandparents live in L.A. in Los Angeles, in Koreatown. But my grandfather is here. He traveled here from L.A. to come watch. My uncle is also here. He was here for a couple weeks on a business trip, and my uncle's kind of wife's father is also here.

So I do have quite a few family members here. Definitely it would mean a lot. Both my parents were born in Korea and my grandparents came over from Korea and brought them over a long time ago.

Yeah, it would mean a lot to them. I know my grandma has been calling my mom every day and cheering me on and watching from home. Because this is home for them. Definitely would mean a lot because this is my heritage. I am Korean. Yeah, it would be really cool.

On top of that, the fans here are super awesome. It would be really cool.

Q. I think in the Marathon Championship in July you played in final round. The outcome was probably not what you would expected. Is there any pressure going into the final round of this championship with that memory? How will you overcome that pressure?
ALISON LEE: I would definitely say that there is pressure going into the final round. There is always pressure no matter where you are. Even if you were ten strokes in the lead I think there would always be pressure just because anything can happen, especially on this golf course.

There are a lot of birdie opportunities, and if you don't hit it great there are a lot of potential bogeys out there as well. I feel like anything can happen.

Definitely a little nervous going into tomorrow. Like the championship, the Marathon, you know, playing in the final group, I've only played in the final group on the final day a few times now that I've been on tour. They were all definitely learning experiences. Every time I play in those I learn from it.

Like back in June obviously I didn't get the results I wanted, but I definitely learned from that and will take that with me going into tomorrow.

Q. Would you say you play aggressively or more of a defensive player?
ALISON LEE: I would say it depends on the situation. I would definitely say a lot of the time I have been very aggressive, going for the pins, you know, sometimes taking a shorter club when I should be hitting a longer club and kind of choking down a bit. That's what my caddie is there for, to make sure I'm making the right decisions on the golf course.

Q. I understand how difficult it must be to play golf and study at the same time. I really wish you the best of luck. I understand you're going to graduate in May, around May. Are you thinking of going to graduate school and continuing further in your studies?
ALISON LEE: As of right now, no. You know, I've been in school forever, so it would be nice to take a few years off and see what happens. I've been playing well on tour, I think, and for me, it's more the experience to get my degree and everything I've been going through now. That's the reason why I want my degree.

I'll definitely use it in the future. I don't think I'll play golf forever. You can see it already out here, the top players in the world are younger than me and I'm 21. I don't want to be a 35 year old competing against girls 15 years younger than me. If I can compete with them at the time that would be great, but golf is evolving and everyone, all the new youngsters coming in, are getting better and better every year.

Getting my degree from UCLA, definitely want to use it in the future. I don't know what I want to do yet, but I still have time to figure it out.

Q. Do you have any nicknames you go by?
ALISON LEE: I have a lot of different nicknames.

Q. You want to share?
ALISON LEE: Yeah, I mean, from college they called me -- my assistant coach called my Ali Cat. It's all hard to explain, but they called me Ali Cat and Honey Badger. Honey badger is because of this one YouTube video that's really popular. It's of a honey badger, and I guess I kind of act like the honey badger. I don't know.

Then out here, Brittany Lang's caddie, her brother, when we played in the Solheim Cup he started calling me Black Widow on the golf course all day.

So black widow is from the famous Asian pool player with long black hair. He gave me that nickname because we played ping-pong in the team room and me and my caddie, Jason, were playing against everyone and beating everyone at ping-pong. He started calling me Black Widow after that.

Yeah, that's it.

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