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Player interviews from the World Ladies Championship at Mission Hills Haikou
Suzann Pettersen, Shanshan Feng, Mr. Tenniel Chu, Vice Chairman of the Mission Hills Group, Inbee Park and Carlota Ciganda at Mission Hills Resort Haikou

Suzann Pettersen, Shanshan Feng, Carlota Ciganda and Lee-Anne Pace gave media interviews at Mission Hills Resort Haikou ahead of the 2013 World Ladies Championship.

5th March 2013

Suzann Pettersen (Norway)

Great to see you at Mission Hills…what is it like to be here for the first time?

You know, I’ve been very excited to come here. I’ve heard so much about these courses and it’s nice to see it in person. Obviously it’s nice to combine it with coming back and playing a European Tour event.

Last week you said you needed to be patient. What’s your approach this week?

This week I’m going all in. I haven’t seen the course yet but I’m looking forward to seeing it in the Pro Am and hopefully I can build some confidence and take it back to the US.

You said you needed to get all five cylinders going at the same time. Are they all firing?

I’m getting there. It’s the beginning of the year, it’s early, I’m a slow starter and it’s nice to get some competitive rounds in my body and I’m ready to go!

You are part of the team that bid for golf to be in the Olympics. How much is that a goal?

I’m just excited for golf to be on the Olympic programme. When I was a part of this group I wasn’t aware that golf had been part of the Olympics back in the day but it’s back where it belongs. It’s actually a dream come true. I never thought that I, as a golfer, would ever compete in the Olympics, but luckily enough if I can just stay healthy and on top of my game I might be able to play with my Norwegian flag on my chest.

Can you talk about your fitness?

I use the off-season, and pretty much the year round, to stay in shape and follow different programmes that I have. For me, working out and being into other sports gives my mind a rest. Other than that I love to be in good shape and using the off-season to train, you have a little bit more time that the rest of the year so just trying to be efficient with the time and we’re all good, all healthy and looking forward to the new year.

Have you been cycling?

I actually took my bike out a couple of times. A couple of the buddies I cycled with have moved and it’s kind of hard to go by yourself. You can’t really hang and I need someone to hang with so it’s a lot of fun.

What are your impressions of the way Chinese golf has developed?

It’s just scary the potential they have here, scary. With Shanshan’s success in the US and when she won the LPGA Championship last year I know that was a huge boost for Chinese golf and it’s fun to see golf grow in different parts of the world and being an R&A ambassador, trying to grow the game around the world, I think it’s nice to go different places and showcase our skills. The LPGA and LET, we travel all over the world and I don’t think there’s a place we don’t go, so I think we take responsibility for trying to recruit young new players to the game.

Have you been to China before?

This is my second or third time to China.

Have you been to Hainan?

I have been to Hainan. We played an LPGA tournament here in 2008, but not at Mission Hills, at a different course. This is pretty much what I remember, a little bit tropical, like Chinese Hawaii. This is a fantastic resort. I’ve heard so many great things about it so it’s nice to be here in person.

What do you think about the format with the team element?

I haven’t quite figured out the format. It’s an individual tournament then you kind of combine the two scores. I think it’s a nice format. As much as golf is an individual sport you try to mix it up and have each country represented by two good players.

You won twice in Asia last year, could this be another?

Asia has been good fortune for me. I’ve actually won almost half my events in Asia, so I feel good. I feel my game is right there and I’m looking forward to going out there and playing and being aggressive.

From left: Park, Feng, Pettersen and Ciganda pose at the Mission Hills Spa

Shanshan Feng (China)

How does it feel to be back here defending your title?

That was actually my first win in China after I turned pro so I was really happy to be the defending champion this week and of course I know playing at home I will have a little more pressure, so what I’m trying to do is, I’m trying to focus. I will try my best on every shot: that’s it.

What do you think about events like this in China, promoting women’s golf?

I think it’s amazing. I think we need some more sponsors, just like Mission Hills. Mission Hills has sponsored a lot of different golf tournaments including the men’s and women’s. I feel really appreciative of that and hopefully we can have more and more tournaments in China.

What do you think about the future of Asian golf and Chinese golf? Should there be a world tour?

I think Asian girls are already really strong and I don’t see why not. Chinese golf right now is a little behind compared to maybe Korea or Japan, but I believe in 10 or 15 years China is going to be one of the top countries for golf.

What do you think about your country’s chances in the Olympics?

It’s only three more years and I would think that I really want to play, but if I can’t play then it means that there are some good young players that show up and I will be really happy if I can’t even play.

The 2012 season was great for you. What are your hopes for 2013?

Last year I did have a good year and actually after last year, a lot of people are expecting me to have an even better year. I would say that I had a little pressure. What I am trying to do is just ignore that pressure. I think I’m in good condition and I think I will have a good year.

Do you think you can defend your title?

I will try. This year we do have a lot more competitors including Suzann, Inbee, Ariya, I would say, I will try my best.

What do you think about the team format?

I think it’s interesting because we don’t get many chances to play as a team, especially because as an Asian, we can never be in The Solheim Cup, so this tournament is great for us.

You have a strong team again in this championship.

I have the same partner this year, Miss Ye Li Ying, who is a close friend of mine and a good player, so I hope we can defend our win.

From left: Lee-Anne Pace, Ha Neul Kim, Melissa Reid, Suzann Pettersen and Carlota Ciganda at the Mission Hills Hot Springs.

Carlota Ciganda (Spain)

Last year was such a successful season. Can you reflect on all that you achieved?

It was such a good year. I played really good golf and I really enjoyed my year in Europe. I met a lot of good people and I had a great time playing golf all over Europe in China, Dubai, India. It was great winning two events and then at the end of the year, winning the Order of Merit.

How did you get into golf?

I started when I was five years old. I started with my dad in a course very close to Pamplona, my city, and I played there since I was five, so I’ve been playing there my whole life and just love it. I started with my dad and his friends and I still play with them, so it’s a lot of fun.

Looking ahead to this season, what’s on your mind?

I’m looking forward to this year. I’m going to play in the States and in Europe and I’m looking forward to joining The Solheim Cup team so I’m trying to play my best to be on the team. I know it’s not going to be easy because there are some great players there so it’s going to be tough but I think I can do it. Then I will try to play in the States in as many tournaments as possible and keep having fun and enjoy.

Would you like to play in the Olympics?

I would love to. That is one of my dreams as a golfer, I would love to be part of the Spanish team and it would be one of my dreams to be in the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Solheim Cup: you are ranked number one on points, so are you confident to stay there?

Yes and no. I know that I am first but in golf anything can happen and if anyone plays good or wins tournaments, they are going to be first, so I need to keep playing well and keep my game at the top as I know a lot of Europeans will play good and it’s not going to be easy.

How about the majors?

I am looking forward to that too because I think I am going to get to play in all five of them so it’s going to be great. The first one will be in California, the Kraft Nabisco, so I’m going to be looking forward to that.

You won in China. Do you feel comfortable here?

I like it. I enjoy the courses here, they suit my game and the people are amazing. The hotels are really nice and they treat us very good, which is nice for the players. I can’t wait to start playing on Thursday and we’ll see how it goes.

What do you think about the tournament format?

I love playing as a team, I love playing with Tania Elosegui, my good friend, and she plays for the same team as me. It will be like a normal tournament because its four days, an individual event, so it’s going to be nice as always.

Lee-Anne Pace (South Africa)

You have great memories from China. How are you feeling?

I’m very excited to be back at Mission Hills, one of my favourite places to come to.

Talk about Hainan.

There is Sanya as well, two of my favourite places to come. It’s just nice to be back. I heard the golf course is really good that we’re playing this week, so looking forward.

What do you think about the strength of Chinese golfers?

Shanshan Feng is obviously the best golfer, an amazing golfer, and a lot of the juniors I’ve seen playing as well. They look like they are going to be good contenders so Chinese golf is on the up.

This tournament is in a way a warm up for the Olympics. How important is that to you?

I think there is not one golfer who is not thinking about the Olympics at the moment and trying to qualify. I know it’s not yet, but it’s on everyone’s mind and a competition like this, helps us to prepare for that and get a bit of a feel.

How does it rate compared to a major?

I think for me, a major still, probably because I’ve never been to an Olympic Games. If I get to go there it might be a gold medal.

What about this three-in-one format?

I think it’s a great way of doing it because we do have a lot of camaraderie between the team mates but at the same time you can also focus on your own game and if the team event might not be going well you can focus on your own thing and I think it’s great.

How is your own game?

I feel stronger definitely. After my fall in October I was a bit disappointed at the end of my season but really good things came from that. I’m much more relaxed and I’m seeing a little bit differently than what I’ve been seeing the last two years, so I’m really looking forward to playing again and happy to be on the golf course.

What’s driving you this year?

Fairways and greens: the same old thing for me. I’m working on my swing, getting it back to performing again, hitting different shots but it’s been so much fun. I had three months off so just working and getting back into the swing of things.






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