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June 27, 2017

Lydia Ko

Olympia Fields, Illinois

CHRISTINA LANCE: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the media center at the KPMG Women's PGA Championship. We are also streaming on Facebook Live. Happy to be joined by world No. 1 Lydia Ko. She's a 14-time LPGA winner including the 2016 ANA Inspiration and 2015 Evian Championship. Last year at the 2016 KPMG Women's PGA at Sahalee she was the runner-up to Brooke Henderson, and Lydia has spent a whopping 104 weeks at world No. 1. Welcome to Olympia Fields. I know you played your pro-am this morning so you've had 18 holes on the golf course. What does it look like out there?

LYDIA KO: It's beautiful. You know, the course is in amazing condition. It's like there's no wrong piece of grass in the wrong place. Yeah, you know, the vibe is great, and yesterday with the showcase and the skills challenge, we got to see a lot of juniors out there. So I think that was kind of a preview of how many people are going to come out and watch us play. Yeah, you know, it should be a very exciting week.

CHRISTINA LANCE: Yesterday in the showcase, getting to spend the day with Phil Mickelson, I know you're a huge fan of Phil, but what was that experience like for you to interact with him but also to see all those kids out there?

LYDIA KO: You know, it was great. Phil is my favorite player, I think -- well, not I think, yes, he is my favorite player, and just to be able to do that in a skills challenge with him and Stacy and Brooke, it was a lot of fun. Seeing him hit those flop shots, it's not easy to do off the little tight grass there. He's, I think, a role model to a lot of people out there, so that's why a lot of kids were so excited to see him. It's great to be able to spend some time with your role model, and I definitely enjoyed it, and it's something that I'll never forget. So playing with my -- doing the challenge with my favorite player yesterday and playing with Drew Scott today, who's actually one of my favorite TV celebrities, it's been a very exciting couple of days.

CHRISTINA LANCE: Did you get some tips from either of them, Phil on playing the North Course or Drew on how to remodel your kitchen?

LYDIA KO: I think we were so trying to be so, hey, in the rival mode yesterday, we had a great time. I said, hey, I think I'm going to try and beat you. The girls both hit my face first, and I thought we would be ganging up on Phil, but it was such a cool time, and Drew was a great person, too, so they're just obviously excellent in what they do on a normal basis. But great people, too.

Q. How much time have you spent with Phil prior to this, and does he know that he's your favorite player?
LYDIA KO: I think so. I actually met him once before at Callaway, and yeah, I said, hey, Phil is my favorite player, and he received a text and he came over and watched me hit some balls and gave me a signed British Open flag, and that was, I think -- for that whole rookie year, I had it in my golf bag while I was playing, so you know, the second time. But I had actually seen him hit balls at the Masters when I was there last year, and then at the back-to-back Opens in Pinehurst, too. So I didn't get to spend a lot of time with him, but the times that I did, I really enjoyed it, and he was just so welcoming, and when you kind of see the person that you've always seen on TV, you definitely get a little nervous, but he was so funny, and his humor just kind of made you not feel all those butterflies.

Q. Back to this week, given how close you came last year and given the fact what's happened since then, you've now fallen out of No. 1, do you feel less pressure, more pressure, or is it just about the same coming in?
LYDIA KO: I think it's pretty similar. You know, there might be a little less pressure because some of the other girls are playing in such great standards. This is a new week, and every day is a new day, so you just never know what's going to happen. But I don't feel like a lot of things have changed. It's only been a few weeks, and of all the changes that have happened. But with the rankings and with how well all the girls are playing, you never know exactly what's going to happen, and in one week things can change.

I'm trying to stay positive, and to me I'm thinking more about how can I be more consistent and put myself in contention rather than thinking about, hey, I really want to be the No. 1 ranked player again.

Q. Have you felt pushed by Ariya and So Yeon? Have you felt their presence in that they've raised their game and you have to raise yours even though your game was at an amazingly high level for a long time?
LYDIA KO: You know, I think we all motivate each other, and especially when we're playing alongside each other, it's really nice when one player is on that birdie streak or playing really well, we can kind of feed off each other, and I think that's the great thing about our Tour. You see with the past winners before So Yeon, we had 13 different or is it 14 different winners, and that's impressive, and I don't know if that's ever happened before. It just shows the amount of talent that everybody feeds off each other and they're all really good vibes that we're feeding off. So no, obviously I'm going to -- I'm working hard to keep consistently putting myself in positions, and no matter what ranked player you are, you can always get better in your game, and I think that's the great thing about golf, so that's what I'm going to continue to keep doing.

Q. Your thoughts on Olympia Fields, just as a golf course, and the current condition for the major test you have this week?
LYDIA KO: Obviously, you know, Olympia Fields have held other big major championships, so it's already proven itself that it is a great golf course, championship worthy, and right now it's in amazing condition. It's a great balance of holes, actually. It's not all short or all long. We have some longer holes where we might be coming in with hybrids or even a 5-wood in some cases, and then some shorter ones where you can take advantage and make those birdies. So it's a great balance, and I love golf courses like that where it doesn't really suit to one type of player. You know, it brings a lot of people in. I think that's why we're going to see a lot of great golf this week.

CHRISTINA LANCE: We're gearing up for two majors in the next several weeks, and then the women's British coming right after that. How are you pacing yourself throughout this long, tough stretch coming up?

LYDIA KO: You know, with this 12 weeks in a row, we knew it was going to be both tough mentally and physically, and that's why I took those three weeks off earlier in that stretch. I'm planning to take next week off so I can have a gap between this week and then the U.S. Open. But I think all the girls feel more excited than worried that, hey, this is going to be physically tough. You know, this is great events. We're playing at some of the great golf courses, and the fans and the sponsors are so excited to see us. So I think we're more in the excited mode, and with this stretch of majors, I think it's going to be very exciting with what state of talent the Tour is at.

Q. Recently the Olympics said that golf would definitely be in the 2024 Games as well as 2020. As someone who enjoyed the experience as much as you did last year, what kind of a shot in the arm for women's golf is that, that it's going to be around at least for two more Olympics?
LYDIA KO: I think it's an amazing step forward. The women's game has obviously grown throughout the years, and because we have had so many amazing role models, that's why we've come this far, and you know, last year competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics, it's a moment that I'll never forget. With some things you're the champion of that year, and then you're the defending champion, but you get to keep this for four years at least. You know, it was just great to be in that vibe of being there alongside some of the other best athletes in the world, not just in the sport of golf, and you never really get to meet all these people in sailing or shot-put, and it's just the biggest range of sports right there.

I think last year with golf being involved in over 100 years, I think it was great for obviously both the men and the women but especially for the women as more juniors, I think, looked at the Olympics and said, hey, in the future Olympics, I want to be there to represent my country, and I think it was a week that all of us girls that were there will never forget, and I think that will continue. So hopefully the Olympics will keep going for the women's golf, and I think more and more people will get more interested, even though they might not be in the golfing industry.

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