World No. 17 Azahara Muñoz of Spain is the top ranked player in the Lacoste Ladies Open de France at Chantaco this week.
The 24-year-old from Malaga is enjoying her most successful season as a professional having secured six top 10s on the LPGA Tour including her second career victory at the Sybase Match Play Championship in May.
Muñoz has had two ties for second and tied for 11th at the Navistar LPGA Classic on her most recent start so arrives in France in great form.
Here, the European Solheim Cup player, who is also a Lacoste ambassador, discusses her hopes for the week.
Azahara, what brings you to the Lacoste Ladies Open de France?
I would like to play in Europe more but it’s hard because we have so many events in the States. Now we have two weeks off so it was a great opportunity for me and obviously it’s a Lacoste tournament. You know, I’m part of their family and I want to support them as well.
How have you prepared for this week and how have your preparations gone?
We have had so many tournaments that last week I got home on Tuesday night and it was raining a lot so I actually rested quite a bit because I was really tired. I’ve been working on my swing and especially on my short game.
Have you have changed your swing?
I did a few changes in the off season and playing in tournaments, you always go back to the same mistakes. Every time I write something about my swing, it’s always the same. After playing four or five weeks I go back to the same and then I have to change it again. It’s the same thing.
Who is your coach?
My coach lives in Seville but there is a guy in Los Angeles, called Jim Gormley at Palos Verdes Country Club, that is going to help me out too because I never really get to come home and even when I do come home, my coach is the Spanish coach, so he might be with the girls, and he is two hours away so I only see him every three months.
How do you rate your own chances of winning this week and do you consider yourself the favourite?
I don’t know. I don’t like thinking that I’m the favourite or I’m not. Whoever plays the best is going to win. Maybe someone that you never expect wins one week. I’m going to give 100 per cent like every week and hopefully I do.
Have you ever played with Lorena Ochoa?
I’ve never played with her because she just retired before I came on the LPGA. I’d love to, yeah.
How do you assess your season so far?
I feel great. So far it’s my best season and I’ve had a lot of top fives, top-10s and I got my first win, so I was really happy with that. It’s really hard to always keep playing really well. I play really well, then relax a little bit, then start playing really well again. When I start playing bad, I had to do so many things on the LPGA, so many interviews and things, I think that kind of got to me because I was tired and I was on the golf course from seven till seven the whole week doing things. I think that got a little to me and obviously I was a little tired. The couple of weeks we had off in the summer and I started playing good again.
How do you manage your time?
Sometimes it’s hard. This week is nice because I got here on Sunday so even though I had to do things, I can play nine holes and then do other things and have time to practice. Sometimes you don’t have a chance. You have to get there on Monday night and then you feel like you are behind doing things. After this I’m going to Malaysia and then I play Korea and Taiwan. I’m skipping Japan because it’s a bit too much and then Lorena’s event and then Florida, the CME tournament, that’s it for the LPGA. Then I have two weeks off and I’m going back to Taiwan. Yani is in charge of a little event that is not many of us so I’ll be back in December.
Are you based in America now?
I don’t have a place in the States. I’m going to buy a place in January. Now, whenever I have two weeks off, I always go back home. When I have one week off I either go to Atlanta with my boyfriend or to Los Angeles, because it’s easier now. I have friends that I can stay with.
What do you think of the Chantaco golf course?
It’s very tricky and I kind of like it because you have to hit good shots to score. It’s short, so there are a lot of birdie opportunities but the greens move a lot. They are very slopey, so I think it’s going to be a challenge. I think it looks like you can make a lot of birdies but because the greens move so much it’s going to be a little challenging.