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March 28, 2006

Christina Kim


PAUL ROVNAK: Christina, thanks for coming in and joining us.

CHRISTINA KIM: No problem. Thank you for having me, Paul.

Q. I'm sure you would love to be jumping in that lake on Sunday. Talk about playing in the first major of the year and coming into this week.

CHRISTINA KIM: I'm very excited to be here. This is always one of my favorite events to come to. I'm a California girl through and through. So it's always nice to come back. The people here are great. The course is in as good a shape as I have ever seen it. I'm in my fourth year here. And this just always has been a premiere event, not just because it's a major, but because they treat us like stars here. And it's really thrilling to be back.

PAUL ROVNAK: We'll go ahead and take questions.

Q. Is the major victory the next step in your career, do you think, or do you think you need to establish yourself as a more consistent winner before the major comes up?

CHRISTINA KIM: If a major comes along and I end up winning it, I'm not going to deny it. I'm not going to say, "I'm not ready." But definitely I'd like to come out and be able to win. A win is a win. But something as prestigious as a major would mean that I have established myself to a certain degree. I feel in other aspects on Tour I have established myself. I've sort of set myself apart from some of the other players in other ways, but I think if I were to come out and win this week, it would be a huge step for me.

And I'd like to say this golf course suits me. It has got grass. I would love to win out here. That would be a huge thing, but, yeah.

Q. Does the golf course suit you beyond the Bermuda Rye thing?

CHRISTINA KIM: It definitely does. It requires you to start off right, right off the bat. You have to have a good tee shot in order to give yourself a chance at birdie. And this is one of the courses where you have to know where to place your shots and you can't just spray it out anywhere. It does help if you're longer than average, which I'm not you know, I'd like to be longer; everyone would, but it requires you to you have to hit it in the fairway. And then if you hit it on the green, you have to know where to hit it on the green. It's not necessarily a putting game out here, which is something I like. You have to be there, you know, with the shot on every shot.

Q. I'm wondering how you feel about the potential rivals that we're starting to see come up between yourself, other top players


Q. The well, the young people.

CHRISTINA KIM: I turned 22 last week.

Q. I looked it up. I saw that. With Michelle and with Morgan and with Paula. Is that something you sort of relish and see as lasting for a long time?

CHRISTINA KIM: Definitely. Personally I'm not the kind of person to sort of promote rivalries, I guess, because golf is such an individual sport. It's all about you. It's all about me. (Laughter). And it's good for the game because it gives golf it sort of changes the face of golf.

People view it a little bit differently now because they say there is a rivalry between two young hot girls, three young hot girls, three young hot girls and me, whatever. And I think that it's great for the game because it piques people's interest, because golf for so long used to be quote/unquote the grandfather's sport. It was a noble sport, something for the wealthier people. And I think now it's just become a lot more mainstream.

And so the people that are playing, the people that are watching, the people that love the game, we've touched into almost every demographic and I think that's awesome. So rivals wouldn't do anything but help the game, I think.

Q. What were some of the reasons behind your change of residence last year?

CHRISTINA KIM: Well, a lot of it had to do in part with the fact that you look at the schedule, and the only time we are ever on the West Coast was at the beginning and very end of the year. And you're playing two events, take a couple of weeks off, play three events, take a couple of weeks off at the beginning of the year, and you don't feel the need to fly back home.

And the reason I moved to Florida is because we have got a stretch of 13 events in a row this year, something like that, from Vegas all the way up to you know. It's much easier to fly to and from Florida because most of the season is on the East Coast. And the tax break doesn't hurt, I'll admit.

Q. Getting back to the rivalry things. Juli, two weeks ago, stepped up and said, "Hey, don't forget about us," the 40 somethings. Is there a little danger promoting the young players too much and kind of forgetting about the older players?

CHRISTINA KIM: Well, I think I believe that everyone should have the right to be given credit when it's due. Just because someone, you know, almost got their permit and on Tour does not mean anything, because everyone has worked their ass butt off to get here. Excuse me. Everyone has worked their butt off to get here on Tour. And once you get out here, in my opinion, you're back at square one, you've got nothing. You have to build yourself back up. It doesn't matter if you're young, beautiful, this, that, if you can get that ball in the hole in as few strokes as possible, and beat everyone else out here, then you deserve recognition.

What you've done in the past, that doesn't mean anything when you come out here. A win is a win, and that does help you progress faster, I guess, but there is a huge difference between being an amateur versus being a professional. And I think unless you have earned the right to have the spotlight being shown on you at this level, I think you need to earn it before you get it.

I think players like Juli, we've got Cristie Kerr, who is out here, Laura Davis, Laura Diaz, Lorie Kane, all the girls out here, I think we need to promote everybody, not just the young girls. The young ones, we're helping grab the different demographics, which is great, but you can't forget about people like me that are old. I'm just kidding; I'm not.

Rivalry good, but not too good. (Laughter).

Q. Speaking about working parts of your anatomy off to get here. You had a busy year, and your profile has increased so dramatically. Were you able to put in time to work on your game to get here? Is there anything you've done specifically?

CHRISTINA KIM: Definitely. I was in Korea for six weeks, basically from Thanksgiving until just past New Year's. And I was sit hitting 700 balls a day doing that. I may have changed in certain ways, but golf is a huge part of me and I've got the greatest office in the world and I'm not in any mood to give that up right now. I'm working hard on my game and sort of trying to, you know, increase my artillery, if you will, of different shots. So I've definitely been working on that.

Q. As an entertainer

CHRISTINA KIM: Am I entertaining?

Q. Golf is entertainment, you would agree. From an entertainment standpoint, who do you see as your competition, as the LPGA's competition? You have to fight for different segments of the audience, I guess. I'm just curious as to who you see as

CHRISTINA KIM: I think the men's Tour, the PGA Tour is always going to have a little bit of a greater fan base just because they've been for so long the premiere golf, you know, tour to watch. And we've just started to, in recent years, come up as being one of the more entertaining and more enjoyable, you know, tours to watch.

But I think it's the same as baseball. You've got your team, and you can't it doesn't matter if they've got eight bad seasons in a row. If you're dedicated you're dedicated. I think there are a lot of people whose heart is always going to be with the PGA Tour. They'll enjoy our tour but the PGA Tour is probably our greatest competitor, I would say.

Q. (No microphone.)

CHRISTINA KIM: I don't watch baseball, to be honest with you, but I know a lot of people who are fans.

Q. This is a big week. For years the Kraft Nabisco has been up against The PLAYERS Championship and the NCAA regionals, et cetera. And now you're a little bit away from that. Is this a big week for the LPGA Tour? And what do you think has to happen for them to gain any kind of momentum given this situation?

CHRISTINA KIM: This is definitely this is a huge week for us. Like you said, we're not going up against The PLAYERS Championship or the NCAAs and that. I think this is great because this is our first major of the year and this sort of gives us time to shine on our own without being in the shadow of another premiere event.

I think that, you know, there are going to be a lot more people watching because they can now. They don't have to flip back and forth between us and The PLAYERS Championship. They don't have to do this. They don't have to do that. There are more people that are going to watch. And I think that as long as we come out here and we tear the course up, I think that's more than enough, because there are so many great personalities out there on tour that you know, I think this is the kind of course that really brings that out in people. You'll be able to read people's emotions on their faces, and I think that because coming the 70th hole. You hit your drive in the rough. You can see the color drain from their face because they've still got 16, 17, 18. Those are three tough holes they have to close out on, and I think it's going to definitely come down to a great, exciting finish, you know. It doesn't matter if you have got a 10 stroke lead or not, because this is the kind of course that could either make you or break you.

Q. Why six weeks in Korea, just out of curiosity?

CHRISTINA KIM: Well, I went to Korea because I played every event that I was eligible for but one. No, I played every event I was eligible for last year, so I was sort of at a point where I wasn't burnt out, because I don't believe in the term being burnt out, but I was tired of people, so I sort of wanted I came out home, had Thanksgiving dinner, and then we dropped everything and left and went to Korea, went on a little family vacation.

I also went over there to train and try to lose a winter coat I've been carrying around for the last 20 summers. There are a lot of reasons for me going. And part of it was to embrace the Korean culture a little bit more.

I've always been proud of my Heritage. A lot of people have put a lot of precedence on the fact that I'm damn proud to be an American, which I am, but I'm also very proud of where I come from, as well. So I was trying to absorb all of that and just expand myself as a person.

Q. You've been there several times before?

CHRISTINA KIM: About a dozen times throughout my life.

Q. The World Rankings, for some of us who haven't been out on tour much, when the rankings came out, a lot of us and I'm sure a lot of you saw names at the top of that that surprised you. And this week the rankings come out and not listed because of eligibility problems.

I'm curious what the players are talking about in terms of those rankings (inaudible)?

CHRISTINA KIM: See, there's more than one person. We've got several. I think that the general consensus on Tour is that there is no right way to determine a World Ranking, just because every tour has their top players, and I think they put a little bit of precedence on the fact that the size of purse mattered in the tours, or in the rankings, because on the JLPGA, their tour is comparable to ours, which is why a lot of Japanese players stay out there, because it's great competition and they're home and they great money.

It's in the first year of inception, and it's hard to say I mean, you can't the first time you bake a cake it's not going to be right, you're going to add a cup of salt instead of sugar. It's never going to be right the first time you do it. And I think it has a lot of kinks that need to be worked out.

And to be honest with you, in my opinion, I think it should not be based solely on numbers. I think there should be an opinion put into that. And I think there should be other factors like, not necessarily popularity, but if people, you know I don't know, it's hard to describe. I think just sitting there and saying, okay, she's played 1,682 rounds, she's done this, she's done that, the purses are I'm not a person who goes strictly by the book. I don't like coloring inside the lines, to this day.

So I think you have to have your heart and opinion put down on paper as well. And for that reason, I don't think it's ever going to be a truly successful means of ranking for, if ever even the men's tour is still tinkering with it, and they've had it for quite a long time. It's a big world out there. We have a lot of golfers. And there's no way to say no person is better than another, except for Annika Sorenstam.

Q. People talking about learning how to win at all the different levels. When you won at this level, what did you learn about what it took? And as a follow up, is it any different for someone like Michelle who is out here only seven or eight weeks a year?

CHRISTINA KIM: You're talking to the wrong person, because I'm the kind of person who will win after playing like 937 events and everyone else is dragging, and I'm the only one that was just able to make that one last putt.

I learned patience is such a huge thing out here. I mean, everyone says it all the time. I remember my rookie year, everyone said, "Don't worry about it. You have to be patient." And I was always like, "I want to be patient now, damn it." It's one of those things that you learn you have to find your own rhythm.

Annika Sorenstam, she only needs three weeks to play and she'll win all three of them. Other people need to play five or six weeks in a row to build momentum and get the ball rolling.

I can't speak for Michelle. She is a very close friend of mine, and I think only she knows what's best for her. If she wants to go out there and play two events and then take off a month here and there, that's her choice. She's still got school, come on. She still has to buy a car. Everyone has their own means of rhythm, and so I think

Q. (No microphone.)

CHRISTINA KIM: I can't speak for her, nor will I speak for her. I can't say if I were in her shoes, because I'm not. I don't fit size 10.

Q. At the very beginning, can you elaborate a little bit on, A, your motivation for losing the weight you did, and B, what you actually what your training regimen was and what it is now? Have you altered it or are you still working out very hard?

CHRISTINA KIM: One of the reasons I wanted to lose weight was to see if I could do it. I've struggled with my weight for many years and I thought that's the only way that I could do it, was through actual hybernation, would be the only way to lose my winter coat. Fortunately, I didn't have to do that.

I like to view things in life as a game, not as a win or a lose, but the playing aspect of it. And I just sort of I set a goal. I said let's see if I can drop some weight. I didn't give myself a number I did, but it was like a Backstreet Boy, so I didn't, whatever. I said let's see if I can do this. If it works, it works. If not, I was intended to always be larger in life in many ways, you know.

So I came to Korea, and I had an acupuncturist, a dietitian, a massage therapist I saw three times a week, a personal trainer and a yoga instructor. And three times a week I would see the massage therapist. And they would beat me with bowls. It's not like relaxation massages. This is the stuff you couldn't tell them the pressure was too hard, they would wait until you bled I didn't bleed, but...

I did that three and a half hours per visit, three times a week for six weeks. I could have a baby now, and boop, my threshold of pain has gone up. I did that three times a week, as well as I had acupuncture done three times a week as well. And I worked out every day and did yoga every day. And then after three weeks I changed my diet on my own. I was on a strict program. I was eating basically 1,200 calories a day. And then after three weeks I sort of changed the diet on my own. I said this isn't working for me, because they wanted me to have protein at lunch and I wasn't lifting weights and I didn't feel good eating protein. So I ate whatever I wanted, and all I wanted was carrots, spinach and broccoli. I was basically eating rabbit food and I was happy with that.

To this day I eat whatever I want. I've only had meat maybe seven times in 6 or 7 weeks and that's purely by choice. And I was running nine miles a day, working out 3 hours a day, doing yoga one hour a day. I don't have that much time these days because I'm out here. I've cut back a lot, because 63 miles a week, that's like an hour on the highway for most people; not for me, it's about 40 minutes for me, but for most people. So I cut back a little bit. I'm still running several days a week. I'm trying to find my rhythm. 24 hours a day is not enough time for me, especially when you're playing, you are practicing, you have to shake babies' hands and kids' hands and that. I'm still working on it.

Q. (No microphone.)

CHRISTINA KIM: You know, I know that I should feel good, but I stare at myself in the mirror and I feel I don't look any different. And people say, "I didn't recognize you." I wish I could feel the same, but I'm not anywhere near where I want to be. But it's a good feeling to know that people see the difference and I don't. I never really had a bad self image. I never said to myself, "You're so fat." I was never that person. That's just a waste of energy. I feel great. I feel alive now, if you will, in comparison to how I was before. I'm 33 pounds lighter with everything I do. Good stuff.

Q. There is sort of a season of change I guess with the new commissioner coming in. What were the players thinking when Ty stepped down, first of all, and now how has the feeling changes with Carolyn having a couple of months to get there?

CHRISTINA KIM: I think the general consensus is that, you know personally, I never had any problems with Ty. I thought he was a wonderful man. He did everything he could to promote the tour to the best of his abilities. We were at a point where you take risks or you don't. There was some risks that he did not feel he could take, you know, and just to preserve the tour, because he didn't want to see all the hard work they have done for the last thousand years, I guess, you know, come to a screeching halt.

When Carolyn came out here, she had a slightly different view of it because she didn't know a whole lot about golf, you know, the way that Ty did, I guess. She was starting to she was learning about the game this and that, what have you, and I think that she has got a very different view on that. She said, you know what, we'll head in this direction. If it doesn't work, we have a thousand other options to choose from. If one doesn't work we'll try another one.

Everyone likes the fact that she is aggressive. I haven't heard any negative feedback about Carolyn, nor do I think there should be any, because she's she loves this tour and she's got a very different view of what she wants this tour to become. And to an extent, you just need a new look or a new person in charge or something like that. Sometimes you just need something to shake the ball, you know, or to get the ball rolling. And I think now this is going to be a time where it's rolling and rolling, and we're just collecting stuff. We're just going to crash right in and, you know, bam.

Q. With all these treatments you had, Christina, how much did it cost to get thin?

CHRISTINA KIM: I would say, honestly, because I stuck a deal with them, actually, so I got a discount. But I would say all of it together, maybe just shy of six grand or so for the six weeks. That's with like having a 30 man team basically not 30, but there were a lot of people that were there that were willing to help.

Q. How would you measure success of the LPGA down the road? By television ratings, by purse, by not playing two Pro Ams in a major?


Q. How do you think people say this is when we've made it, if they haven't already?

CHRISTINA KIM: I really couldn't tell you. I don't like to think of it in terms of that. I just think that you'll know when you know, you know. It's like true love. When it comes around, you'll know. And right now I don't know either. (Laughter).

Q. You're at a loss for words?

CHRISTINA KIM: No, I'm not at a loss for words. I'm just trying to find the right words to say. Times are changing, though, you know, and let's say we have a huge increase in purses, but let's say the economy has gotten that much better. Where if you were to compare our purses to the economy now versus purses to the economy then, if they're comparable then we haven't succeeded. If we can become a household name, and if people say, Oh my God, is that, fill in name here, while you're walking down the street, that would be a sign of success.

If everyone knew what the LPGA was and knew of it as more than just a bunch of ladies chasing around a little white ball, if they knew it was more than that, if they knew about the entertainment factor and the things we do outside of golf, I think that would be a huge thing. But things like purses and TV time, I think those are just material things, you know, and those are things, just the ebb and flow of life. If the economy gets better, hopefully our purses will get better.

And there's nothing wrong with Pro Ams, because Pro Ams are great. You can meet a lot of new people.

PAUL ROVNAK: Thank you.

End of FastScripts.

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