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December 1, 2010
DAVID HIGDON: Welcome to our LPGA Tour Championship press conference. We have the top six players at the LPGA Tour here today. To get things started, I thought I would ask our Commissioner, Mike Whan, to say a few words.
Mr. Whan, you want to work your way up here?
MIKE WHAN: I know you guys came here to talk about them and with them, so I'll get out of your way but just thank you for bringing us back to central Florida. We are home, and it's been a while since we have been back at our home. We are a few miles away from LPGA International where Q-School will start next week. So it's great to finish our season here and have Q-School in the following week.
We have been asked a lot of questions about a lot of things, and I'm sure you guys will, too, over the course of the week. But as I've said to a lot of people: Let this week be about this week. You can ask us questions about everything else, you can ask us questions about the business and everything else, but we won't get this forever at the LPGA, which is the greatest players from around the world competing to be the greatest player in the world.
And so I hope if nothing else, this story gets written the way it should and can be written, because this is a pretty spectacular thing that's happening right now in the ladies game where the best players in the planet play against each other every week; and then it comes town to one big week where somebody gets to hold up the Rolex No. 1 World Ranking for the first time, because it's been owned by just two women since it came out.
Someone is going to finish this year with the No. 1 World Ranking for the first time since Lorena and Annika. So please, take the time to learn about this story and write about this story, because I think for both young women, old women and golfers around the world this is a pretty spectacular time we are seeing and it's all going to play out in the next four days.
DAVID HIGDON: Thought I would start off by asking each one of them a simple question.
Why don't we start with you first, Ai, since you are here to my right. Obviously you've been on the Tour for several years, and last year was a breakthrough year with your one win but a huge leap this year to five wins. Can you tell us a little bit about what the difference was this year for you?
AI MIYAZATO: Skill-wise, it's nothing different I think but my mental has been big change since last time I won the Evian Masters, because I started to trust my style and I believe more about myself right now. That's why I think I'm playing so good so far and I'm very happy with that.
DAVID HIGDON: Thank you.
Big Apple is next, NYC, and this is the second year in a row that you have had a great second half to the season. Last year you had a couple of wins, this year you have come on strong and you're the only player sitting up here who has a chance to win all four year-end titles. So clearly you are on a hot streak. What is it about the second half of the year that seems to work for you?
NA YEON CHOI: I think the confidence made me like strong player, so actually I got big confidence from first, the win last year. That's why I can play well after the second half of the season.
DAVID HIGDON: Jiyai, welcome to Orlando. How was the trip down from Atlanta?
JIYAI SHIN: Well, I came last Sunday. It was horrible traffic, so I take the car about eight hours and a half.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: What, from Atlanta? (Laughter).
MIKE WHAN: Welcome to Thanksgiving. 70 million people get in their cars.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: You have to hit the right pedal.
JIYAI SHIN: But I'm here, And then I will go back to Atlanta.
DAVID HIGDON: Well, you had an eventful year obviously. Over the course of the two years obviously, you've been one of the top players. Last year you were one shot away from being Player of the Year. This year, it's going to come down one of you six up here. What is it you feel about your game this year compared to last year in terms of your skill and experience?
JIYAI SHIN: Well, this year my goal was enjoying the LPGA Tour and more steady play than last year. Because last year, play was good, but sometimes a little bit inconsistent with my skills.
But this year, my play was really good. I'm really happy with my play. So actually I already made my goal. But now I still have some more titles. I just don't want to push it hard to myself. I just want to keep enjoying this week, too.
DAVID HIGDON: Do you miss your appendix?
JIYAI SHIN: Not a lot. (Laughter) No, not really.
DAVID HIGDON: And Yani, a fabulous year, two wins at majors, started at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, where you came from behind to win, and then at the Ricoh Women's British Open where you were winning all the way to the end and held off to win that event. Do you have a preference? Do you like to go into the last day leading, or do you like to actually have somebody ahead of you that you can target?
YANI TSENG: Actually I like somebody ahead of me and I can chase, but now after the British Open, I feel like I need one more step up. I feel like I've improved myself, too. Now I would like to be the last group, but even if it's leader or chasing somebody, now I like both.
DAVID HIGDON: Cristie, obviously a great win this year at the Wegman's LPGA Championship. How did that victory at that event help the rest of your year and your confidence?
CRISTIE KERR: It was a pretty impressive win, not only for myself, and I guess the rest of the word, but it was a great win; it was the first time that an American had reached the Rolex No. 1 ranking, so that was big for American golf. And it was a week that I learned that -- why are you laughing at me? (Looking at Suzann).
SUZANN PETTERSEN: It was impressive. (Laughter).
CRISTIE KERR: I'm trying to phrase it the right way and try to be humble over here.
It's a performance I wish I could recreate on command but that's not how golf works. You know, I learned to not put limits on myself that week, and I had fun.
On to you (passing mic to Suzann).
DAVID HIGDON: We will let you have one more question, Cristie.
CRISTIE KERR: You really want me to answer a question?
DAVID HIGDON: Can you give a breakdown of the other five players that are sitting up here and their games --
CRISTIE KERR: I can't with her laughing at me (turning to Suzann).
DAVID HIGDON: You can start with Ai if you want and work your way to Suzann.
CRISTIE KERR: All right. Well --
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Get it all. (Laughter).
CRISTIE KERR: I think everybody sitting up here as has a lot of heart and the will to win, and we hate to lose. I think first off, everybody up here has that. Ai is a very consistent player. She makes a lot of birdies. She's a very good putter, very good short game. Doesn't make a lot of mistakes. She shoots a lot of low scores, and I mean, gee, I'd better just throw that out there right now that we are all pretty consistent; that's why we are sitting up here. But she chips in a lot, she's got a great short game. Very consistent shooting in the 60s. She's leading the scoring average right now.
Jiyai is very accurate. She's very straight off the tee, very pretty deadly accurate with those little hybrid woods, fairway woods. Great short game, great putter.
Yani has got a lot of power. She's one of the only players on Tour that fades it; can kind of hit any shot under command that she wants. And Yani definitely hates to lose.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: And how is that draw coming along, Yani?
CRISTIE KERR: Myself, pretty all-around I would say. Sometimes, you know, we all struggle with different parts of the game at different times, but anyway, so I'm moving on.
Suzann is definitely --
SUZANN PETTERSEN: You'd better be nice, otherwise --
CRISTIE KERR: Suzann is very long, very intense on the course. Unlike myself, she's a grinder, and again we all love to win, hate to lose, and we all work very hard at our game. That's my effort there.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well done. That was the short version.
CRISTIE KERR: Well, you told me to have the short version.
DAVID HIGDON: We will get you in the booth on GOLF CHANNEL.
CRISTIE KERR: Give me one person to focus on, not six.
DAVID HIGDON: Suzann, you know this course and you've been playing and practicing and you just did a Pro-Am. How is the course playing? Talk us through what this course is and the challenges that all of you are going to face over the next four days.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah, this is, I mean, in my home backyard. I play and practice here quite a bit, but I will say this course will change a lot, especially with how the speed of the greens are this week.
The greens are very, very tough. You're hitting into small targets because of the big undulations in the greens. I think one thing you've got to do this week is to accept bad breaks for good shots, because you will get those out here. It's pretty straightforward off the tee. Obviously hitting the fairways to be able to shape shots into the different flags; but you will see the winner this week will have probably the least amount of putts, I'll tell you that.
DAVID HIGDON: Thanks. We'll open it up to the media now.
Q. For Jiyai and Na Yeon, for all of the success South Koreans have had, there has not been a Player of the Year yet, yet you two are in position to do that. How much would it mean to get that honor as a South Korean golfer?
JIYAI SHIN: Well, we have lots of good players from South Korea. But yeah, like we didn't get the Player of the Year yet. So we'll have a good chance and then the Korean media, they are really focused for the title. So, yeah, we have got a big pressure. (Laughter).
Well, we still have time, not only for this year. So I just do my best and I just want waiting for the chance, the time.
NA YEON CHOI: It will be my dream come true if I get it, the award, and then, you know -- yeah, it will be my dream come true.
Q. An American has won the Player of the Year before, but it's been so long. Can you talk about, it's hard enough just to be Player of the Year, but how does trying to become the first American in I think 16 years to do it factor into the pressure?
CRISTIE KERR: What was the last year it happened?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Who was that?
Q. Beth Daniel.
CRISTIE KERR: It would be pretty amazing. Yeah, it's been a while. And it would be I think a very good thing for American girls junior golf if an American were to win the Player of the Year. I think that, you know, it might help us also to open up some more discussions for some more domestic events, and if I can help in that way, that would be fantastic.
It would be my dream come true, as well. All of us sitting up here feel that way, and just got to go out, four days of competition, and you know, you hope that one of us does it and has a chance.
So we'll just play our best.
Q. For Yani, I'm just curious what the discussion like with the media is back in Taiwan. You've had a really big year. And has the popularity grown? Have you seen any change in your demand?
YANI TSENG: In Taiwan, everybody is crazy about this title, too, and now I'm trying not to look at the Taiwan news, because I don't want to confuse anything. Because every time I look, I feel a little pressure, so now I just don't get on the Taiwanese interview or Internet.
So I just keep what I'm doing right now and I've been working hard for this title. So I think if I just do what I'm doing right now, I think it will be -- it will come true.
Q. Cristie, you were talking about what it would mean for an American to get that title, but what does it just feel like overall that so many people are in contention this year where in years past, it's been just like one player.
CRISTIE KERR: Well, that's a very good question. You know, it is exciting to have the chance, because in years past, it's been pretty much over by half-year mark. So to have the opportunity is very exciting. It's been changing every week. You know, the No. 1 ranking.
But Player of the Year and Vare Trophy, those things are still in play and those are towards the Hall of Fame. We all just have to play hard this week and may the best golfer win.
Q. For Cristie or Yani or really anybody, there are so many things up for grabs, Player of the Year, No. 1 ranking, Vare Trophy; is one placed above the other? Is the No. 1 ranking better than Player of the Year or does it matter? Just, you know, if it gets evenly spread out, does that matter, three people each getting a little piece of the pie.
CRISTIE KERR: Looks like I'm going to answer the question. (Laughter).
For me, Player of the Year is kind of it. It's what you see happening every year, what you wish would happen to you. And I think it's the year-long culmination of you're the best player, this is what it was, these are the points, this is a point towards the Hall of Fame. It's something like winning major championship and having that trophy in your house and seeing it going; that's something nobody can ever take away from you.
So Player of the Year is very important. I would say Vare Trophy is a close second, just because it is a point towards the Hall of Fame.
No. 1 ranking is great, but it doesn't get you a point towards the Hall of Fame. It's more bragging rights than anything, based off a new ranking system that we've had in the last -- I don't know how long it's been going on, four or five years now.
You know, that's kind of how I feel about it.
Do you want to answer it?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: No, that's pretty good.
CRISTIE KERR: All right. (Laughter).
Q. It's become very evident that all six of you are in the running for all of the awards. When did you start paying attention to those numbers and those columns and those stats? Two weeks in the year, do you go, doesn't matter now, but when does it become, oh my God, here we are now, down to this. When does that realization get all of you to go, I can do something now?
CRISTIE KERR: Well, I think it's been something we have been following actually every week, because it's been changing every week.
Beginning of the season is, just that, beginning of the season, and things tend to add up, and then middle of the season you kind of see where you are and really start paying attention to it the middle of the season. It's been different because the schedule has been kind of spread out, and the last seven weeks, we have had a lot of tournaments.
So you're paying attention to it more because it's becoming the end, but, you know, once you're amassing money, winning tournaments and doing well, you tend to look at things a lot more.
So that answers that.
You've got to answer something. Come on.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: There's nothing to say after you've spoken.
YANI TSENG: Actually, I just start thinking about when I was in MÃ©xico. So it's only three weeks ago, because I never paid attention on the Player of the Year, because I don't think I can reach that title.
So after that, I heard media say, oh, you're leading in the Player of the Year and I'm really shocked, because I don't know anything. But now I start, and I really want this trophy, because this meanings a lot to me, just like Rookie of the Year, and this is like -- this is a challenge for all of the players sitting here, and then it starts feeling very exciting and very nice to have the title.
Q. The last time most of us here that just work here in central Florida, remember you winning at Reunion, a long time ago and a lot of things have happened since then. Talk about your transformation from then, which seemed like almost like a big-eyed rookie to now, the transformation of what's happened between now and then.
YANI TSENG: Actually, that was my first time to have a chance to win an LPGA tournament, and I was against Lorena Ochoa.
So I learned lots of things from that tournament, and I'm very happy to come back here and now I live here and I stay here. So it's really nice. I get to sleep in my own bed and just come back here to see, I'm different now, I have five wins instead of zero, my first time to play here.
Q. Just curious, in Korea, which is the bigger deal, Player of the Year or the World Ranking No. 1, for you; and in the Korean media, where are they placing the bigger emphasis?
NA YEON CHOI: I think it will be the same. Any category will be the same to me.
JIYAI SHIN: Me, too. (Laughter).
CRISTIE KERR: What does the Korean media think is more important?
JIYAI SHIN: I think they are more thinking about the Player of the Year, because nobody gets it yet. So who is the first time to get the Korean Player of the Year on the LPGA Tour, so it's a big thing.
Q. Suzann, you haven't said much; you're a local here, how much more have you played this golf course than you would have played a normal LPGA Tour event in the run-up?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: You know, I tried not to play it. I played nine holes. I played one time the North and one time the South last week.
When the final week comes, it's so intense, and I just don't want to burn up my energy. I know the course. I know the lines. Obviously the greens is different because of the speed, so that's pretty much all I've been paying attention to.
By the time Thursday comes, you want to be ready. You want to have enough energy. You don't want to feel like you've played it a million times. So for me, it's been just trying to pace it. I've been going and practicing other places and trying to stay out of this place, because it's been packed with players, I'll tell you that, and caddies.
So I'm glad we don't have any more tournaments here in Orlando, because I think I would be freaked out with all of the preparation everyone does.
But for me, to talk about all of these awards, I'm out of pretty much all of them. The only one I can go is No. 1 in the world. I cannot catch Player of the Year, I'm too far back and I haven't enough rounds for the Vare Trophy.
So for me, it's all in this week. This is my last chance, and I'm just glad we still have a tournament in December, because I feel like I have some unleft business out here. So that's my point of view.
DAVID HIGDON: Thank you.
End of FastScripts