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Preview Interviews with Yani Tseng, Stacy Lewis, Karrie Webb, Michelle Wie and Jessica Korda, the defending champion, at Royal Canberra.
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Yani Tseng

YANI TSENG, Rolex Rankings No. 1

MODERATORWell Yani, number 1 in the world.  Do you see yourself winning around here this week?

YANI TSENG:  I think yes because I feel pretty good.  This is my first tournament of the year and I’m very excited and I love Australia.  I came here every year to play and to have a holiday, so I’m very familiar for Australia and playing at Royal Canberra, this is a great golf course.

 

It’s true, I don't know if it’s my game but I think after those few rounds, practice rounds, I think my game is pretty good and my hitting - you just need to get on the fairway for this course is the main key for me this week.  I’m very looking forward to it and very enjoy it.

 

MODERATOR: Karrie said in an earlier interview that she thought that the course would change if it’s dry, you’ll get plenty of run on the fairways.

YANI TSENG:  Yeah, I don't know if I’ve got it wrong because lots of dog leg left, dog left right, because I don’t think, even running too far, you kind of run through the fairway.  If you can take it rest, do a little draw, that way you can leave a little more round, but if you’re hitting like straight and high, you don’t want an extra around and then overshoot the fairways.

 

Q.  Yani, what’s been happening with your golf over the last 12 months, because you had that rough patch?  You still won three tournaments.  Karrie was saying that you were complaining about your year last year but she would have been happy with your year.

YANI TSENG:  Yeah, when I look back I am very happy about it.  I know it’s been a tough year for me but when I look back, I have three wins, I have 12 top 10s, so that’s still pretty good, because all the people are putting high expectation on me, even myself too.   I’ve been putting so much pressure on myself and then it’s like I practice so hard.  It’s almost overdoing it, because I never practice so much like last year and then all the expectation was way high and then I don’t feel I don’t like myself to have a missed shot or playing the best shots.

 

But I mean, after that I’ve been learning a lot.  I think last year was very challenging for me and I’m growing a lot from last year.  So I think now maybe last year was my best year to my career and my game to mature.  I think I really learnt a lot and been more able to appreciate everything.  I know winning is not easy and I feel I am very lucky right now.  I’m very appreciative of what I’m doing and I feel I’m luckier than lots of people already.  So I should be more appreciative and now I just want to focus on enjoying this week, enjoying my travelling, even enjoy the best shots and all the shots and just always keep smiling.

 

Q. Have you had to have help with that or is that a conclusion you have reached yourself?  Have you talked to a lot of people about coming to that conclusion that you need to appreciate what you’ve got more?

YANI TSENG:  Yeah, I think when I talk to my coach and my coach kind of give me those because he feel I lose something peaceful in my mind.  I was thinking about my score, I was thinking about world number 1 and I was afraid I’m not number 1 or anything.  I was over thinking a lot about my result instead of doing the pressures. 

 

So my coach keep telling me that you should - one is my coach and one is another people, my friends in Taiwan, he tell me that you should be more appreciate what you’re doing right now and he asked me a question:  Have you say thank you to your club and I start crying because I feel like I never did that to my club.  I never saying thank you to my club.  My club is my best friend.  I do my job and my club doing his job, so I know my club helping me to win in a tournament too.

 

Q.  Your golf club?

YANI TSENG:  My golf club.  So I would just start crying.  I know it’s so funny, but I was like, yeah, I never feel like - I always thank my caddie, thank my team - I never think about my club and then I started feeling I’m very appreciative about everything.  I have a good team, I have a good friend, everybody cares about me.  they don’t care if I’m world number 1.  They hug me and comfort me.  They just care if I’m happy every day or not because last year I look at lots of press, I look at lots of news on the - it drive me crazy. 

 

It was like if I finish out of top 10 and people are like, what’s wrong with Yani?  But I was finishing 12 or 13 but people were just starting asking me what’s wrong with you.  I’m like, it’s just one tournament but after I look more at it, it gave me myself too.  I feel it hurts a lot when I see those things on the news and see what those fans are talking about me, say Yani is struggling, Yani couldn’t play golf anymore or something like that.  I feel really bad.

 

But now I kind of think through already, now I feel like I won’t thank those people that are saying bad things about me and that way I can keep growing up.

 

Q.  You have been listed in the top 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine.  How do you deal with that?  This year is Chinese New Year of the Water Snake, it means wisdom.  Do you have any plans for the new year?

YANI TSENG:  Yes, the first question, it’s my big honour to be top 100 for the Times.  I was there for the ceremony.  So it’s a huge honour for me.  It means a lot for me that I know I’m doing the right things.  I just wish I can help more people using the golf as my job, when I’m helping more people, it makes me very happy too.

 

The second question, I was in Taiwan for Chinese New Year last week for a couple of days and I got some red envelopes for my families.  My Mum told me last year was a bad year for Dragon, and I was Dragon.  So my Mum say, it’s okay, your year is over, your bad year is over.  your good year is coming this year, the Snake.  I go, okay that’s good; so I’m very excited for this year.

 

Q.  Yani, how long since you played a tournament, it must be quite a while and what have you been doing?  Did you put the clubs away?

YANI TSENG:  I put the clubs away for six weeks.  I was very happy.  I was happy as ever because I always play golf as my first priority but now after last year I was really struggling but after that I had six weeks off and I’m so excited to get back to practice.  Then I went to Taiwan and went sightseeing around.  Last month I was in Orlando.  So I’m really enjoying my practice and enjoying working with my coach and my caddie and my trainers.

 

 

STACY LEWIS, Rolex Rankings No. 3

 

MODERATOR:  Stacy, Player of the Year, third in the world, does this course suit you?

STACY LEWIS:  Well I’d say I think any time you’re playing well and you’re playing good, I think any course will suit you.  This course is tricky. You have to hit it straight and I think that’s going to be the main key is how many opportunities you can give yourself off the tee to hit greens.  So long as you hit on the greens I think you can make some putts.

 

Q.   Stacy, is it a case where you don’t really have much clue how you’re going to play at this stage of the year?  Is it a little bit of a lottery?

STACY LEWIS:   For me I think it is.  It’s been a good couple of months since I played a tournament and you can only practice so much.  To get a true feel for what competition is like you just have to get into it. 

 

I mean, there are definitely some unknowns for me coming into this week but I feel the last couple of days have gone pretty well and so I feel pretty good about it.

 

Q.  After the year you had last year, there probably wasn’t a great deal of work on through the Winter?

STACY LEWIS:  No, we didn’t really work on anything crazy.  It was just kind of continuing on what we were working on at the end of last year, kind of setting up what we wanted to work on the rest of the year.  Our goal is just to put myself in contention every week and chip away at Yani’s lead at number 1 in the world. 

 

That’s kind of been the goal since the middle of last year.

 

Q.  You arrived here last year; I think you were number 10 in the world when you came to the Australian Women’s Open last year.  You got to number 2 and I guess Na Yeon Choi gazumped you late in the piece with those two wins she had.  Is getting to number 1 a real goal for you?

STACY LEWIS:  Yeah, it’s kind of the goal that is in the back of your mind.  It’s not the one that - you’re not thinking about it walking down the first hole, it’s one that you’re thinking about at the end of the week.  It’s a big goal and so for me I have to put little goals before the big one. 

 

I’d like to get there.  I think it’s pretty cool to be able to say that you’re number 1 in the world.

 

Q. Are you a person who puts the golf clubs away altogether or have you been playing a bit of social golf over your break?

STACY LEWIS:  Right at the end of the season I put them away for two weeks.  I played a little tournament in December and then kind of played sparingly here and there.  But after the first of the year I got back at it practising pretty regularly.

 

Q.  Do you feel you’re getting acceptance now as the leading American essentially on the LPGA Tour?  I suppose that is a mantle that you now carry.  Does it bring you any extra pressure or are you just enjoying it?

STACY LEWIS:  I don't know.  I think there are some other Americans that kind of get the - they’re the media stars.  They always kind of get that attention and so I think some of that takes away from me a little bit, so I don’t feel like I’m the sole number one, I feel like there’s a lot of other really good players that I kind of share it with.

 

I am getting to the point where I feel like I am kind of carrying the flag and it’s been cool that I’ve been kind of able to help out some of the younger players; just they’ve asked me a lot of questions, some of the rookies about what advice I had for them.  So it’s kind of just interesting how my role has changed over these last few years.

 

Q.  So you’re feeling like a veteran now?

STACY LEWIS:  I am I guess, getting older; it’s kind of crazy.

 

Q.  Do you think you’re getting your proper recognition?  Would you like that or would you rather stay a little bit under the radar?

STACY LEWIS: I think for me I’d rather be under the radar just because I’ve always played that way.  I’ve never been the one that everybody’s talked about right away.   I just kind of sneak in there and seem to play well. 

 

So I’m more comfortable in that role but I would also like it if people would talk about me too.

 

Q.  Stacy, did you make the front cover of either Golf Digest or Golf Magazine in the States last year?

STACY LEWIS: Don't know if I did, nope.          

 

Q.  There weren’t many women on the cover.

STACY LEWIS:  That’s part of it, I don't know, it’s women’s golf versus men’s golf and I’m not Michelle Wie.  But that’s the way it is and I get that and I’m fine with that.  it just motivates me more.  Everybody just keeps giving me more motivation; so why not.

 

Q.  Obviously Royal Melbourne was such a great track last year.  I came in just a couple of minutes late, but what were your thoughts about the scores there based on what you’ve seen so far?

STACY LEWIS: It’s obviously very different from Royal Melbourne.  It’s true lie.  There’s a lot of tricky tee shots, especially on the back nine, there are some long par 4s that you can hit it in the trees pretty quickly.  So I think driving the ball straight is the key and then from there if you hit in the fairway you’ve got a pretty good chance of hitting the green.  So it’s going to be a putting contest from there.

 

Q.  Is it a course where the scores could go low or you expect it will be every day sort of around the par mark?

STACY LEWIS: I think you’ll see some really low scores and then everybody else will kind of be pretty bunched up.  I think it’s a course if you drive it well, you hit every fairway, you’re going to score well.  You can hit a couple of squirly drags and you can make some bogeys pretty quick.  So I think you’ll see some really good scores and then kind of everybody else bunched together.

 

 

KARRIE WEBB, Rolex Rankings No. 12

 

MODERATOR:  I said when you walked in Karrie, I just don't know what to ask you.  I don't know what to say.  So I’m just going to say are you enjoying Canberra this week?

KARRIE WEBB: Yes I am.

 

MODERATOR:  Are you having a look round at all?       

KARRIE WEBB: I don't know if I’ll get to see the sites, my Mum and Dad are doing plenty of that.  It’s really good to be in Canberra.  I can really feel the excitement of the celebrations of the centenary of Canberra and then also the fact that we’re here, like everyone is excited to have the women’s Australian Open here.

 

Q.  Have you played Royal Canberra before?

KARRIE WEBB: A long time ago, I was only 14.

 

Q.  Do you remember what it was all about?

KARRIE WEBB:  It was really my first, it was the Australian School Girls’ Championship, so it was really my first big tournament that I played in  really outside of – actually I played the Australian Junior, but I just never really played this sort of golf before.

 

I just remember the greens being a lot faster than the Eyre Golf Club greens and we were here I think in August so it was freezing cold.  It was during the Australian pilots’ strike, so I bussed it down here. I didn’t remember much about the course.  I thought I might remember a hole or two but I didn’t remember any of it.

 

Q.  How long was that bus ride Karrie?

KARRIE WEBB: Well the trip down actually was on an Army cargo plane to Brisbane and then a bus to Canberra.  

 

Q.  Was it a Hercules?

KARRIE WEBB: I don't know what it was called but we were sitting on benches facing each other and then on the way home it was all the way back on the bus, 44 hours.

 

Q.  How did you go?

KARRIE WEBB: Not very well.  We played the individual here and then we played the team event at I think four different courses in the area, so we did alright as a team.  I didn’t play very well in the individual. I think there was a 90-something thrown in there at one point.  It was a bit cold in the morning for me.

 

Q.  What was a low round?

KARRIE WEBB:  I don't know, I just know there was one in the 90s.

           

Q.  Karrie, do you still get excited playing the Australian Open, given your success?  Do you still get that nervous tinge that you’ve had in the past?

KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, I think there’s nerves on the tee of any tournament and then obviously the Australian Open is a special tournament for me and any of the Australians that are in the field.  The last couple of years with it being an LPGA event, I think there’s an extra buzz and excitement to the event.  So we’ve got a great field again this year and I think that adds to that.

 

Q.  The fact that you’ve got the world no. 1, do you see her as the target or do you sort of focus on your own game?

KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, I don’t really single out any players in particular.  I think you could say one of the hottest players in the world right now is Lydia Ko and she’s a 15 year old amateur.  So I don’t really target any person.  Come Sunday afternoon, if I have a chance to win, if there’s two or three people in front of me then those are the people that I’m targeting.

 

Q.  What about Lydia Ko, does it make you feel old seeing a 15 year old out there?

KARRIE WEBB: It does when you think about when she was born and when I turned pro.  I’m talking about being here in 1989 and she was what, about eight years away from being born, so it’s definitely different.  When I came out on tour I was the youngest at 20 and there were players that felt old when I came out at 20.  So now I know how they felt.

 

Q.  There are a stack of teenage protégés really in the field, Michelle Wie coming through and Lydia?

KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, she’s actually made it into her 20s now Michelle.

 

Q.  I realise that but I’m just saying you’ve got these young players that have come through; just incredible depth, isn’t there?

KARRIE WEBB: Yeah there is, but I think that’s the beauty of golf.  I don’t really think that any age is a negative to how you can play.  I think anyone of any age can play golf at an elite level.  It’s been proven in the women’s game; it’s been proven in the men’s game.  Guys in their 40s have the best years of their career.  Steve Stricker and Vijay Singh have proven that in the men’s game.  Julie Inkster played some of her best golf in her 40s. Then obviously you see the teenagers doing very well at a young age. 

 

I think that the popularity of golf has increased and so therefore the technology with equipment but also the technology of teaching, I think kids are getting taught correctly at a younger age with equipment that fits them.  They’re not starting with heavy cut down clubs, they’ve got clubs that are specially weighted for someone that’s seven or eight years old. 

 

I think all those things led to it being possible for a 15 or a 16 year old to be mature enough to play at an elite level.  But I think it’s still very few and far between.  I think that’s what everyone has to remember, at least when I’m mentoring some of the  young Australian girls, because they see somebody like Lydia Ko and Michelle Wie, Lexi Thompson and feel like if they don’t turn pro at 18 then they’re behind the 8-ball.

 

But sometimes if they turn pro that young they miss out on developing for a couple of years under Golf Australia and some of the funding they get there and if they turn pro two or three years later, they’re actually going to be better players in the future instead of struggling for two or three years in professional golf.

 

Q.  So your advice to Ko would be to stay amateur and enjoy it?

KARRIE WEBB: No, that’s not my advice to her, obviously she’s proven that she’s ready to play professional golf.  But it’s girls that aren’t at the level of Lydia Ko that feel like they’re behind the 8-ball if they stay amateur. They feel like I’m 18 and I’ve got to turn pro.  I don’t necessarily think because someone is doing that, that means everyone has to do it.

 

Q.  Stacey Keating is a good example of that, isn’t she? She hung on for a while?

KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, and she actually made it, she went to - the great thing about now is the opportunity that amateurs have is they don’t have to declare being professional until they get through Q School.  Stacey Keating went to European Q School and didn’t get a great card and probably would have only played in four or five events with that status and she decided - she’d seen what some of the other girls had done with that status, then they struggled and then they didn’t have anywhere to play.  She decided that staying amateur for another year would be better than struggling through four or five events, which proved to be right because she ended up dominating the amateur golf that year in Australia and then has had two quite successful years in Europe.

 

Q.  Karrie, this layout, obviously you don’t remember it from 1989, but what you’ve seen of it this week so far, what are your thoughts? Are you comfortable with it? There is quite a bit of shot-shaping around here?

KARRIE WEBB: Yeah I love that part of it, definitely have to move it both ways off the tee.   I think that will really come into play if these fairways dry out.  Right now they’re a bit soft.  I was quite surprised, I knew how hot it had been here and I think they’ve poured the water on so they haven’t lost the fairways.  But if the fairways firm up then you really are going to have to shape it off the tee to keep it in the fairway.  Then the rough isn’t over long, but if the course firms up for the week and the greens start getting a bit firmer too, you still want to be in the fairway for sure.

 

Q.  Karrie, can you see a small parallel between what’s happened to Yani and your own career, where Yani came out and was so dominating and did everything that you could do in golf so early, and then she’s had to go through a difficult patch and maybe climb the mountain again.

KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, that was a terrible year she had last year, three wins, $1.5 million.  I would have hated to have a year like that.

 

Q.  She did have a really rough patch though, didn’t she?

KARRIE WEBB:  Yeah, she missed a couple of cuts, yes.  Seriously, the parallels that I see are that I saw her speak at the dinner last night and she talked about how awful her year was last year. I would have sat here and said exactly the same thing about how awful my year was--

 

Q.  At the time?

KARRIE WEBB: At the time and it’s just when she’s living in that moment of playing unbelievably extremely well, that drop off, and then having to answer questions why, why, why?  Why aren’t you playing like you did last year?  It’s honestly physically impossible to maintain what she was doing.

 

Until she gets a bit older I don't think she’ll realise that.   I think I realise it now, but I always said I didn’t think I could maintain it for very long.  I think when you’re in the moment of it you don’t ever believe that you’re now going to win tournaments, you’re never going to miss cuts and you’re always going to be in contention.  When that doesn’t happen, the lesson learnt there is that that’s how fine a line golf is.  I walked on either side of that  and I know that now. 

 

She hasn’t even experienced it.  She had a good year last year.  She didn’t have a great year, but she had a good year.  I just hope that she doesn’t put that pressure on herself to have one of those 11 win years.  Those come along not very often. 

 

I think she gets it but just talking to her last night, and then the Taiwanese fans and what-have-you are very excited about it.  I’m sure she answered more questions from their media, where they don’t have a great golf knowledge.  She can’t even explain it herself why it dropped off, she doesn’t understand that yet.  I’d take that year for the next four or five.

 

Q.  Karrie, do you feel pressure to perform in Australia still?  Do you feel that added expectation because you are so well known here?

KARRIE WEBB: I don't know if I feel the pressure anymore.  I do like playing in Australia or love playing in Australia and I do like to play well, only because the one or two times a year that I get a home field advantage with fans that are actually pulling for me harder than they’re pulling for someone from another country.  That’s what I love about it.   I probably put that pressure on myself just so I can have that experience with the fans and give them what they came to watch. 

 

I don’t really feel like I have anything to prove, so I don’t really feel that pressure that I did maybe 10 or 12 years ago.

 

Q.  Karrie, it’s probably like asking a parent which is their favourite child, but you’ve won four of these, is there one that sticks out more than any other, of the four Australia Women’s Opens that you’ve won?

KARRIE WEBB: Yes, that’s hard to say but I’d probably say the one that sticks out the most is the one at Kingston Heath.  I was two behind with three to play and yeah, I think I was almost in the clubhouse at that stage.  I birdied 16 and 17 and then had a good birdie chance on 18 and just missed that to actually win and then won in the play off. 

 

When I got to the 15th green I actually thought I was playing that well that day that I would at least be tied for the lead, so I was very shocked to see that I was two shots behind that day. 

 

I just remember how I handled that and it wasn’t that I had to press, just hit good shots and see what happens, and that’s what happened.  I made a couple of birdies and then ended up winning.  Then to win at Kingston Heath is pretty special as well.

 

Q.  Karrie, I guess it would be the same as last weekend at the Ladies Masters when nothing much seemed to be happening for 10 or 11 holes and then it came.

KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, well the Sunday round was probably the trickiest day of the three, we had higher winds that day   I was a little bit flat on the front 9 but actually felt like how I finished that front 9 and then played 10 and 11, that sort of kept me in the tournament.  I felt like I was pretty patient and I wasn’t pressing, and I wasn’t getting too frustrated that I wasn’t making the birdies I should.  I think what helped too is there was hardly any leader boards on the front 9, so I didn’t really even know where I stood. 

 

Then I saw a leader board on the 10th tee, didn’t hit a great tee shot there and had to make a really good up and down. That, to me was the turning point, even though I then ran up four birdies, if I didn’t get up and down there I think the momentum would have really switched in a negative way.  So getting up and down there was probably the biggest two shots of the day.

 

Q.  You did a great favour to Bob Toohey in that tournament by playing in it.  He probably should have shouted you a magnum of champagne for playing at all.  Was there any persuasion or you just felt it was right to do it?

KARRIE WEBB:  Yeah, honestly I did feel a little bit of pressure to play.  I won’t lie, the state of where that tournament is at right now is disappointing to me.  I know Bob has worked tirelessly; he worked tirelessly just to have that event and if it had of run up against this event and I had to play four in a row, I’m not sure if I would have played it.  It just made it a little easier for me to have a week off last week.

 

Then both my sisters and their kids agreed to come down.  It’s the easiest event for my family, especially with my sisters and their kids to come down; it’s the easiest one to get to.  I want the kids to watch me play a little bit too before I retire.

 

Q.  You do love the kids, don’t you?

KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, so it was a great week.  Everything worked out the way it was supposed to I guess and hopefully that just builds the tournaments up, starts to build it back up.

 

I think it would be to the detriment of women’s golf in this country if we weren’t to have at least two major professional events on TV.  I think young girls need to have the inspiration of watching women play their sport at their best.  Even though I was inspired by watching the men’s golf, I remember when the Australian Masters started at Palm Meadows, for me to watch women’s golf on TV was just unbelievable. And I was 15, 16 when that started.

 

I think it’s great for the growth of the game to have at least two events on TV.  I feel that little bit of responsibility to try and keep that going.  I don't think I can do much more than what I have over the history of that event, but hopefully that jump starts it in the right direction.

 

Q.  Karrie, just on the golf course you mentioned a moment ago that you thought it was a little softer and possibly had to shape your game around it.  Do you regard it as a challenge, this course, or is it a particularly hard course for you to play given your game?

KARRIE WEBB: Because I haven’t played a tournament here anyway, I don’t really know how it’s going to play.  In my mind before I got here I thought it was going to be hard and fast and running.  So it’s been quite an adjustment to see it quite soft. If we don’t get any rain, I know that the fairways will be running and the greens will be blue, so that will be the adjustment through the week, just adjusting with the conditions, the course conditions.

 

I can’t tell you how I think it’s going to play.   I think the front 9 is going to be the 9 that you make most of your score on.  I think there are three par 5s in the first six holes and two of them are quite reachable now, let alone with a little bit of run out there. 

 

So that’s where you make most of your score and then the back 9, there are some quality par 4s out there, that I’ll be happy to make four 4s on.  If I do any better than that I know I’ll be in for a good week.

 

Q.  Were you able to get much golf in last week?

KARRIE WEBB: A little bit not too much, because I knew I had three weeks straight now and I just sort of kept in touch with things.  It made it easier to have a light week knowing how well I played the week before.

 

 

MICHELLE WIE, Rolex Rankings No. 65

 

MODERATOR: Thank you for coming into the media centre Michelle.  I believe this is your first trip to Australia?

MICHELLE WIE:   No, it’s my first time playing in Australia but I’ve been here before once when I was about four years old and I came here a couple of years ago to watch the Australian Tennis Open.  So, I have been to Sydney and Melbourne, so now I’m smack down the middle.  I’m really excited to play this week.

 

MODERATOR: I think you’ve played two or three rounds around this golf course, have you?

MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I just played the front nine once and the back nine once.  It’s a great track.  It looks like a pretty old course, all the big trees.  The course is in really great condition.  The greens are rolling really well, the fairways.  Everything’s just very green and what-not and perfect weather this week.  So I’m just really excited to start.

 

Q.  Michelle, you mentioned the course, many years ago, probably before your parents were even born, Arnold Palmer likened this golf course to Augusta.  The first question, have you ever been to Augusta?

MICHELLE WIE:    No.

 

Q.  The second question, I read one of your ambitions in life is to play in the US Masters.  Do you still hold that ambition?  I read that in a profile of yourself.

MICHELLE WIE: Yes, that is definitely one of my dreams; still is one of my dreams.  You’ve got to dream high right and that’s definitely one of my dreams, to play in the Masters, but right now I’m just really focused on this year, this week.  You have to set up really high dreams, dreams that you may or may not achieve in your lifetime, but to still have them.  I’m just really focused on winning tournaments this year, just being happy and enjoying golf.

 

Q.  You made quite a name for yourself early on by attempting to play on the PGA tour.  You played in Europe, you played in Japan in various tournaments.  You seem to have given that away for a while?

MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, it was really fun.  I learned a lot, I had a lot of great experiences playing in men’s events.  Like I said, right now I really want to focus on kind of playing really well on this tour, winning tournaments and making my name on this tour and just bringing my game to a whole other level; like I said, winning a lot of tournaments and majors, just really focusing on that.

 

Q.  Michelle, I think 25 events last year, one top 10.  How would you describe 2012 and how would you describe where your game’s at right now?

MICHELLE WIE:  2012 was probably the worst year I’ve ever had in my entire career.  It was rough.  Kind of one thing led to another and it kind of snowballed.  The next thing I knew I was kind of struggling to keep my head above water.  But I think I learned a lot from last year.  I think that struggling makes you really realise what you have to work on in the game, what is really lacking and it makes you really realise that you have to work harder, you have to become a better player.  I just really started from scratch.

 

I think that’s what I did this off season.  Some reporter asked me earlier on what I worked on in the off season and I replied everything.  That’s really what I had to work on after last year.  Nothing was really spectacular last year so this off season I really took a lot of time just kind of ripping everything apart and starting from new.  I saw David Leadbetter a lot this off season, a lot more than I usually did and just really working on my swing, my short game, my putting, everything. 

 

I wanted my game to be on a whole other level and hopefully 2013 will be really good.

 

Q.  Did it all come too easily for you too young, because you say you’ve had to work at it now?

MICHELLE WIE: No, I don’t think so.  What I mean by working really hard, I mean that especially kind of after last year you have to - the game of golf has risen.  I think every year in the game of golf players are getting better and you just have to kind of push yourself to be ahead of the game.  I think that obviously working really hard is a given but I worked extra hard I think and I think it hopefully will pay off.

 

Q.  What importance do you place on the Australian Open?

MICHELLE WIE: Very high.  It’s the first tournament of the year.  I’m really excited to be over here.  I think it’s a great field and I want to get off to a really good start.

 

Q.  The field, because it is quite strong, it’s a real challenge for you, isn’t it?

MICHELLE WIE: For sure, yeah.  It’s a great field.  I think last week there was also a really good field as well.  It was almost like the first day of school yesterday when I came out and seeing everyone for the first time after the off season.  It’s going to be a great event. It’s a great golf course, like I said.  It’s going to be challenging and great conditions, great field, so overall it’s going to be a really good event.  I’m going to try my hardest this week.

 

Q.  What importance has the event outside Australia?  Have you received much interest to make up your mind to play in the Australian Open?

MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, for sure, definitely peaked a lot of interest knowing that we’re going to be playing in Australia, there’s going to be an LPGA event here.  I think that a lot of players, US players are very excited to come over here.

 

If it wasn’t really for this tournament, a lot of us won’t have that much of an opportunity to come down here.  It’s a far flight and it just creates a great experience for all US players.  I think it’s the first time a lot of us have seen kangaroos on the golf course and cockatoos flying around, not in cages.  So it’s a great experience for all of us.  I think that everyone is very excited to be here.

 

Q. Why did you come here when you were only four?  Obviously your parents brought you.  Why did they come here; for a holiday?

MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, my parents were great travellers, always were, loved seeing sights.  We travelled all across Europe, Asia.  We went to New Zealand, drove from the north of it to the south of it.

 

Q. When you were aged four?

MICHELLE WIE: Just every year we did something.  So I went to New Zealand when I was a little bit older.  I remember Sydney.  I got really sick because I ate too many M&Ms and I was four.  I misjudged the size of my stomach at that time and I remember seeing - I have this picture of me with a koala bear and I look exactly like the koala bear with my face just round and I had these two little buns that looked exactly like a koala bear.

 

But I enjoyed it and from what I can remember, I loved Sydney.  Then when I came to Melbourne, I absolutely loved it; watching the tennis.  It was a bit hot but it was awesome.  So I’m really excited to experience Canberra.

 

Q.  What was your interest in tennis?

MICHELLE WIE: I love watching tennis.

 

Q.  Why did you come to Australia?  You could have gone to a French Open that was closer?

MICHELLE WIE: It just fit my schedule.  I think that I’ve always wanted to come to Melbourne and I had the opportunity to come.  I was like:  why not?

 

Q.  Whose cheer squad were you on?

MICHELLE WIE: Serena Williams.

 

Q.  Michelle, given that you said you broke your swing down basically the last few months after last year.  Is it a bit of the unknown going into this tournament?

MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, it’s always a bit of an unknown the first tournament of the year.  I think that it’s kind of like studying for a test, I kind of relate it to that.  I know I’ve put my work in, I know I’ve put my hours in, so I’m confident in that matter.

 

But the first tournament of the year you always have that jitter; you always have that nervousness.  But right now it’s really mostly excitement.  I’m excited for this week and I’m just going to try my hardest.  I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself.  I’m just going to put pressure to just try my hardest every single shot; give it my all this week and see what happens.

 

Q.  So it’s like the first day back to school after the holidays where you have to sit a test?

MICHELLE WIE: Exactly.  So you can only imagine how nervous one would be.

 

Q.  Are you really nervous then, leading into that?

MICHELLE WIE:  Yes, I think I’m definitely nervous, but I think it’s a good nervous.  I think I was feeling it the week before I came here and I think it really shows.  It showed me, to myself, how much it means to me and how much I’m excited for this and how much I really want to do well. 

 

But you kind of have to move your nervousness into excitement and you’ve just got to realise you’ve got to enjoy it really.  What’s the point of playing if you don’t really get nervous, you don’t get excited, you don’t have those butterflies?  That’s the fun part about it.

 

Q.  You obviously had a lot of success as a school girl and obviously Lydia Ko has come on the circuit recently.  What advice would you give her, you’re both sort of creations going along.

MICHELLE WIE: She’s a phenomenal player.  The fact that she’s won three times in the last 53 weeks, as I said, it’s phenomenal.  She’s a really nice person as well.  She seems like she has a great head on her shoulders.  She just seems like a kid.  So I hope she stays that way and she just keeps getting better.  I hope she just enjoys it.

 

Q.  She’s showing no signs of turning professional as yet, but you, when you were aged 16 turned pro.  What would your advice be, to turn pro now or stay amateur?

MICHELLE WIE: I have no advice for her.  Turning pro or not turning pro, going to college, not going to college, it’s a very personal decision.  It’s not something where someone can say:  I think you should turn pro.  I think you should stay amateur.  I think you should do this or that.

 

It’s her life; it’s her career.  When I turned pro I really wanted to turn pro.  That was a very personal decision for me.  I really wanted to do that and I have no regrets.  I hope she makes the right decision for her. Whatever decision she makes, it has to really just be on her and what she wants to do.

 

Q.  Michelle, talking of college, I’m assuming now you’re completely done at Stanford, are you?

MICHELLE WIE:  Yes.

 

Q. What did you walk away from there with other than the experience?

MICHELLE WIE: The experience is everything but just people that I met and it was just a life experience that I really needed.  I think that growing up in the spotlight, I had a fairly normal childhood but a nominal childhood.  I kind of almost had to grow up a little bit quickly.

 

It was a big goal that I had growing up.  It was one of my biggest dreams.   All that I can really remember is just wanting to go to Stanford and just kind of achieving that goal of mine was almost as important as playing golf.  So just being able to do that was awesome.

 

I learned a lot - time management, no one’s there telling you do this, do that, eat your dinner, do your laundry, clean your room.  You just kind of really learn to do everything on your own; trust yourself, go to practice on time, put your work in, go to the gym and do your homework at the same time.  I really learned to juggle a lot of things and I had a lot of fun.  I made a lot of great friends and a lot of great professors.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

 

Q.  You went on you had a great time there, I didn’t think you said you got a degree.

MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, I studied, I got a degree from communication.

 

Q.  You weren’t able to play on the College scene because you were a professional obviously.

MICHELLE WIE: No I could not.

 

Q. Were you able to use the facilities and did you train with the team there?

MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, it was a bit interesting and there are all actually double A rules.  Because I was a professional I guess I couldn’t practice at the same time they did but they were very helpful.  I used the range.  I used the facilities.  I used the gym and Jim Harbaugh was very nice, the football coach.  He was very nice and let me use all their facilities. 

 

So I got a lot of help from them.  I think it would have been difficult if I just wasn’t able to use all the facilities, but they were very helpful.

 

Q.  Just looking at your career, you’ve got a couple of LPGA Tour wins.  I think you’ve had top 3s in each of the four Majors.  Is there one particular performance that you rate higher than any others in your career to date?

MICHELLE WIE: I take a lot of pride in my wins and what-not.  I guess just experiences, just overcoming a couple of my injuries.  I just enjoy all the Majors and the Solheim Cups, they’re definitely one of the top.  But I guess there’s nothing that beats a win; for sure.

 

Q.  Talking about working with David over the last couple of months, were there major changes that needed to be made or were they just little tweaks to get back on track?

MICHELLE WIE: I wouldn’t call it really major, it was just tweaks here and there; especially after last year, just working on my confidence, working on my mental game as well.  Just kind of knowing that I’m good at this; just kind of realising that again.  A lot of the tweaks are there, but it was just good, because I got to see David once every week, once every two weeks, so it was just good to kind of keep up with it. 

 

Nothing really major, just a couple of tweaks here and there.

 

Q.  How hard was it for you as you went on last year, to then go into every tournament thinking is this the week that it’s going to change?  How low was your confidence getting towards the end of the year?

MICHELLE WIE: I got pretty low a couple of times but I just won’t let myself get to that point.  It’s still something that I really love to do.  At times it was a struggle, enjoying it, but I was kind of just going out there and just really giving it my all.  I had a lot of help from a lot of people.  Sometimes you’ve got to really look at yourself.  I really needed this off season I think to just kind of take some time and not try to fix everything in one week the week before a tournament or whatever, but just take a good month, two months to really let it slowly get back on track, instead of just trying to change it all in one week.

 

Q.  During the year when your form goes off, do you actually try and fix things from one week to the next?

MICHELLE WIE: Yeah, it’s definitely a difficult part but it is a long year, so I think that having a good off season really does make a difference and the longevity of the year.  But it was a little bit difficult to try and fix something, fix something in one week.  But like I said, you just have to just have fun out there and know you tried your hardest.

 

 

JESSICA KORDA, Rolex Rankings No. 72 and defending champ

 

MODERATOR:  Jess, thank you for coming in today.  Defending champion at the Australian Open, how does that sound?

JESSICA KORDA:    That sounds really cool, yeah.  It’s really exciting to be here this week.  It’s a little different defending on a different golf course and a completely different venue, but it’s exciting.  It’s something new and I’m really enjoying it.

           

Q.  Jessica, 12 months as Australian Open champion, were you greeted in the States as Jessica Korda Australian Open champion or anything like that?

JESSICA KORDA:    No, I actually didn’t but I was glad that the 2012 urkey wasn’t there anymore.  But no, nothing.

 

Q.  Nothing like that?

JESSICA KORDA:  No, nothing like that.

 

Q.  No recognition at all for what you did down here at Royal Melbourne last year?

JESSICA KORDA:  Not on the first tee.  There were recognitions, but not on the first tee.

 

Q.  Did the golf channel ever catch up with you, the President’s Cup the year before, and they were enthusiastic about Royal Melbourne.  You won at Royal Melbourne.  Did they have a chat to you about that in the States?

JESSICA KORDA:  No.

 

Q.  They’re missing out, aren’t they?

JESSICA KORDA:  I won here and then we didn’t pretty much start our season for another month and a half.  There were other winners in that month span.  I got a lot of attention.  I did a lot of media but it kind of fizzled out, which was nice for me, because I was able to keep going and keep concentrating on what I needed to do and keep learning and getting better.

 

So the spotlight really wasn’t put on me but it’s okay because I got one more year kind of to learn.  I’m just really happy to be back.

 

Q. Do you have the same caddie from Royal Melbourne this week again, Simon Clark?

JESSICA KORDA:  No, Simon Clark’s actually caddying for Christie Smith.  This year I have my caddie, Jason Gilroyed.  He’s been caddying for me since April last year.

 

Q.  Jessica, you said at Royal Pines that you were going to take last week off and go and play some golf in Melbourne at the courses down there.  Did you do that?

JESSICA KORDA:  Yeah, I played Metropolitan, Victoria and Royal Melbourne.

 

Q.  What was the purpose of that, because you got so excited about what you saw last year?

JESSICA KORDA:  Yeah, you know, we don’t get to see a lot kind of when we travel.   Everybody’s like, did you play this golf course when you were there?  You should play this and I say, I just played one golf course.  I only played Royal Melbourne. 

 

Actually, the Open’s supposed to be in Victoria next year, so a good thing to go look at it and Metropolitan’s a high rating golf course.  It was just cool to see something else, not just like one golf course every day; kind of be a tourist a little bit.

 

Q.  Jessica, have you had much chance to practice here at Royal Canberra yet or is it all new to you?

JESSICA KORDA:  No, I actually played here last year.  So I’m pretty familiar with the golf course.  This was my first event last year, so I played 14 holes yesterday.  I played nine holes this morning and I’m in the Pro-Am tomorrow afternoon.

 

Q.  Is it an easy golf course to play or is it hard?

JESSICA KORDA:  No golf course you play is an easy golf course.  It’s very narrow off the tee, the greens are pretty bouncy and when you’re coming in, so you need to pick the right clubs.  Certain greens bounce a little more depending on how much sunlight they’ve gotten, because it’s very tree lined here.  Once you go into the trees it’s really tough to come out.  There’s a lot of bunkers out on the golf course.  It’s a tough course and it’s a really fun track to play.

 

Q.  Does it take an added importance with the alignment with the US tour, how the kick off is coming in now?

JESSICA KORDA:  I mean, for me because I play on the US tour it’s like coming back to school.  The first day of school you see all your friends back.  It’s nice to kind of see everybody again.  I’m really kind of just used to seeing them on a week to week basis; so not really.

 

Q.  As defending champion do you feel any pressure at all?  Do you feel as though you’re going to be hunted this week a little bit?

JESSICA KORDA:  No, because like I said, it’s just a lot of fun to experience the whole defending champion thing.  I’ve never done it before.  I’m really enjoying it actually. It’s a new venue.  There’s a lot of news this week.  If it was Royal Melbourne it would probably be a different story, but it is Royal Canberra this week and I feel like it’s just a tournament that I hopefully can contend in.

 

Q. Do you feel because it’s in Canberra and not Melbourne that there is less pressure on yourself?

JESSICA KORDA:  I wouldn’t say less pressure, you always want to do well, even as defending champion.  I think I’m going to have a lot of eyes on me regardless, just the last name, what my Dad’s accomplished as well.  So there’s always eyes on me in Australia more than in the US.  But I don’t think so. I think it’s only the pressure that you put on yourself is only what you feel, because when you’re on the golf course, nothing else matters.

 

Q.  How have you handled trying to get away from what your Dad has achieved on the tennis court?

JESSICA KORDA:  Well he played tennis, I play golf.  For me it’s a little easier.  Nothing he’s accomplished I can accomplish because it’s a different sport.  So there’s not that pressure there of oh, my Dad won this, I need to win that or the comparisons.  The only comparison you can make is my Dad was world no. 2 and I would like to kind of beat that.

 

Q.  Obviously you talked about it sort of feels like the first day back at school.  What have you made of Lydia Ko, the way she’s really burst onto the scene in the last 12 months?

JESSICA KORDA:  I’ve known Lydia for a year and a half now and I’m just amazed.  My sister’s one year younger than she is, so to see the difference between Lydia and my little sister it’s great. 

 

She’s so composed, she’s not only a great player but she’s such a good girl.  She’s humble.  She’s really, really nice and the fact that she’s won just proves how good she is.  You win once it’s okay, you’ve won once.  You win twice and you’re like, oh wow and she won.  It’s not like it was given to her, she actually on the LPGA tournament in Canada and now she’s done it again in New Zealand; which is amazing for her because I know that she was a little nervous about it and anxious to play.  So I’m really happy for her.

 

Q.  Jess, last year after winning the Australian Open, you must have had higher expectations for the remainder of the year.  Did you and if so, did you fulfil those expectations?

JESSICA KORDA:  I wouldn’t think I had high expectations from being on tour my first year, having high expectations, I’ve learned that that’s just not a good thing to do.  My goal for last year was learn what I can do to be better.  What does it take to play out here and win or contend or move yourself up through the rankings, move yourself up on the money list and all these different things.  I’d say that I did. 

 

I moved myself up from what I made in my rankings and also the purses and what I’ve made; definitely kind of reached what I wanted.  Still a lot, a lot of things that I would like to do and I didn’t, but I think I had an all right last year for a second year.  I got a win.  I had a top 10. I would have liked to have played a lot better, definitely, but it’s all about learning.  I’m 19 for two more weeks and I’m going to enjoy that.

 

Q.  What did you learn?

JESSICA KORDA:  I learned to kind of survive out here you have to have a good short game and you have to be consistent.  The whole thing is consistency and I was really lacking that last year.  I would play one good round; one bad round; one good one, one bad round.  You need to be consistent.

 

Q.  To minimize the damage if you’re playing badly?

JESSICA KORDA:   Yes.

 

Q.  Does your father beat you at golf?

JESSICA KORDA:  Oh no.  He has no chance.

 

Q.  When did you first beat him at golf?

JESSICA KORDA:  I think I was 10.  We played a golf course in Czech Republic and I beat my Dad by a couple of strokes and I was really proud of myself.  It’s been all downhill for him since then.

 

Q.  Jessica, a 6 way play off last year, do you expect it to be as tight this year or do you think there are one or two stand-outs?

JESSICA KORDA:  I’m not sure.  I actually answered that question earlier today.  It’s the first end of the season, so you don't know what everybody’s game is.  It’s a little bit easier to kind of look at that mid-year/end of year kind of thing.  But this is a first official season starter so you don't know who’s going to be hot this week.

 

Q.  Who do you expect the players to be to beat?

JESSICA KORDA:  You’re always looking at it, I think Yanni and Stacey, they’ve always been playing well.  Yanni, I think she’s won the Australian Open twice or three times in a row.  Yanni’s the world number 1, she’s always the one to look at.  I like to choose myself on this.  But it’s really anybody’s tournament.  It’s the first tournament of the season, so you don't know what everybody’s been doing in the off season.

 

Q.  You’ve put one tournament under your belt this year?

JESSICA KORDA:  Yeah, I started in Gold Coast, Royal Pines.

 

Q.  You said you played the front nine this morning.  Do you think the course sort of suits your style of game?

JESSICA KORDA:  Yes, definitely.  You kind of have to be able to shape your driver off the tee if you want to cut the corner a little bit.  There are some holes where you need to be dead straight.  I feel like I have those shots in my bag.  It’s just putting everything together.  At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how well you’re hitting it; it’s how well you’re putting.  If you can get the ball in the hole, that’s how you win a golf tournament.

 

Q.  Just finally, is there any time to sightsee in Canberra while you’re here or is it just purely focused on golf?

JESSICA KORDA:  I just came back from a luncheon at the Parliament so I got to see that; that was really cool.  That’s about it.

 

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