Alison Walshe of the United States fired a six under par 66 to set the pace on day one of the Volvik RACV Ladies Masters at RACV Royal Pines in Queensland on Friday.
Read what the leading players had to say here:
Alison Walshe 66 (-6)
KATHIE SHEARER: Hello Alison! We have all been waiting and holding our breath, wondering what was going to happen in the last few holes, we watched you climb up the leader board. When you started out did you feel you had this round in you?
ALISON WALSHE: Yeah, I put a lot of work into my off season and what not and its the first round of the year, and I don’t know, I felt really confident, I’ve been hitting about with my coach, and I had a pretty positive and confident mind set coming into today and now to play the way I did just kind of solidified that and puts me in a good spot.
Q. Such a late hit off what did you do when you got up this morning?
ALISON WALSHE: I was up early because of the Jet-lag, so I had some coffee and went to the gym, and then I got here, had some lunch and warmed up. It wasn’t too bad actually.
Q. Is that your first look at the course today did you get to go out yesterday?
ALISON WALSHE: I did not, no. I didn’t go out on the course or anything. I’ve played here before and I remember the course quite a bit, and then fact that it’s wet it kind of helps because it’s carry yardages or what not but the course is actually in great condition considering the weather, so yeah today was kind of a blind start.
Q. Did you think you had an advantage this after, considering the course had a chance to dry out from this morning?
ALISON WALSHE: I don;t think so really. I think from what I heard from the Pro-Am and today was that it had dried out a lot. Granted we were playing later, and it probably had dried out, but the wind picked up so I think there is all different factors and I enjoyed the lay-in and the extra time to dry out, it was nice.
Q. So you had played here before, how long for, and how have you gone?
ALISON WALSHE: I believe this is my fourth year playing in this tournament, the first to be honest I couldn’t tell you. I think I have always finished pretty well, like the twenties, but last year I missed the cut by a shot.
Q. You had one top ten finish in the US last year?
ALISON WALSHE: I’ve been lucky enough to be in a position, now after a few years experience, I can get in a good position from the first round and close it off by the end of the week.
Q. What was the best part of your round today, what were you most happy with?
ALISON WALSHE: I will probably say my putting. I have been putting a lot of work into that. And it was pretty slow, so I just had to really give it a firm hit or what not, I made a lot of good putts, so I was happy with that.
Q. How many years have you played on the LPGA tour?
ALISON WALSHE: this will be my third season
Q. just that last few holes, and you birdie the 8th to get on the lead there, it seemed a bit sad on the course, no one to wave too or anything!
ALISON WALSHE: (laughs) yeah I guess it was luck of the draw being late, but it was alright, it is also Friday, so hopefully Saturday and Sunday we will have some good crowds out there.
Q. Where is home to you?
ALISON WALSHE: Palm Beach Gardens right now. I grew up in Massachusetts, and my family is there, but I’ve been in Florida now for a few years.
Q. Irish born, what age did you leave for the States, and what is your family business careers been?
ALISON WALSHE: I was born in Ireland, and moved to the States just after I was three, due to my dad’s job at the time. We moved to Boston, and we’ve been there since.
q. You had a putt on the 6th hole, which was your 15th I guess, from about 12 feet, and it almost hit a brick wall when it hit the hole, is that what you thought too?
ALISON WALSHE: Yes, I think one more rotation and it dropped in the hole, but uphill in the green, and obviously the weather has factor into the green, and end of the day it is a little bit slow. But one more rotation and it would’ve gone in.
Q. So are you here to play the obviously the Australian Open, but the tournaments in Asia?
ALISON WALSHE: Yes, I am actually just on the side for the first two, so I’m hoping over the next few weeks, people will get moved around and I can play in those.
Q. What mindset tomorrow, do you just go out and look for another low number?
ALISON WALSHE: Yeah, I mean that’s the thing about golf tournaments, if you are in the right mind, there is a lot breeze out there, same thing today, just go out there and continue hitting it well, and keep making the putts.
Q. I guess every player when they turn profession, thinks about winning a tournament, have you been patiently waiting for your chance or impatiently?
ALISON WALSHE: (laughs) I guess patient, I was lucky enough to win a lot in amateurs, and first year I struggled a bit as a pro because I couldn’t immediately transition into winning, but it is a learning experience, and I am one to learn. But I am putting my time in and my time will come soon.
JESSICA KORDA 67 (-5)
KATHIE SHEARER: Jessica, what a great round out there, you must be thrilled.
JESSICA KORDA: Yes, it’s nice to have the first round of the season under my belt and for it to be a good one, but still a lot of rust to shake off.
Q. We asked Stacey the same question but your feelings about the conditions of the course, did it surprise you how good it was?
JESSICA KORDA: I actually got to play yesterday, so from yesterday to today the golf course looks completely different. It’s a lot more dry. The greens are pretty firm. They took the water out of all the bunkers. The grounds crew did an unbelievable job to transform the golf course pretty much from what it was. I’m staying up here and on Monday and Tuesday I saw the lake in the middle of the fairway; so it was definitely a great job.
Q. Jessica, how’s it been since you won the Australian Open last year and coming back here with all those memories, are you really keen to back up what you did last year?
JESSICA KORDA: Yeah, I mean, I feel really good in Australia. There’s something about it that makes me feel really at home, everybody’s so nice. Life’s changed a little bit, not much though, you just have a title to your name and you have a lot more expectations kind of around you. It was a great first win and hopefully I can keep going on that moment, even though I didn’t really win after the win last year.
Q. Has your Dad given you anymore advice about how to handle that success early at such a young age?
JESSICA KORDA: My Dad is amazing with managing my schedule and just keeping me really grounded. With my Mum they do a great job. Then I go home and I’m just their child, nobody really special. I still do everything I always did and that really helps me just kind of stay grounded.
Q. Jessica, you mentioned rust in your round today. What parts of your game do you think need attention heading into the weekend?
JESSICA KORDA: You have those flared drives and maybe hit too much club on one shot. I think I flew the pin by like 20 yards with the wedge today. You just have a little bit more adrenalin and you’re not used to it, so the more you keep playing, the more you get used to it and you don’t make those mistakes. I got away with a lot of them today, so…
Q. I was going to say, is that something you can actually work on, on the practice range or is it something you have just got to ground out?
JESSICA KORDA: No you just keep playing and playing and playing. That’s the good thing about being on tour, you always have next week, so you have to get your mindset into playing mode and practising what you’ve been doing in the off season.
Q. You had an excellent start, something else very similar for tomorrow heading into Sunday then?
JESSICA KORDA: Yes hopefully. You never know with this game.
Q. You mentioned you didn’t really cash in on having won the Australian Open and carry that form through last year. What was it that you struggled with going home after that win last year?
JESSICA KORDA: I played four weeks in Australia last year and I was sick for every single one of them, except for my last days in Melbourne, so just coming home, I had a hard time getting out of bed for a week. I was so exhausted. So really that was hard for me and I didn’t get into Singapore or Thailand the weeks after that, so my next event was almost a month and a half after I’d won. I was just really after being sick and on antibiotics. It was really tough.
Q. Jessica, can I ask you to go through the best of your birdies today?
JESSICA KORDA: If I can remember them, sure. I birdied 1 and 2. On 1 I tugged my drive a little bit off the fairway so it was in the rough. It’s one of those things like I said, it’s just momentum but hit a great wedge shot into about two feet. Then on the 9th hole I hit a nice little seven iron into the par 3, 11 and made a 20 footer, just perfect dead centre.
I didn’t make anything for a while, just was making some silly mistakes here and there. I birdied the par 5 I think, yeah, I birdied the par 5. I hit the ball way right. I had to pitch out over the trees and then had 130 yards to the pin and then hit it there to15 feet and made that.
I should have birdied a lot more holes. I had a lot more opportunities. I should have hit a birdie at 17 and 18 but didn’t capitalise on those. Then I birdied 1 just again.
I’ve actually hit the sprinkler twice today. I hit the sprinkler on 1 and I hit the sprinkler on 7 and on 1 I was actually like 50 yards passed the girls and just had a wedge shot in and made like a 15, 10 footer and then I don’t know where my other birdie came from.
Q. You mentioned that wedge to two feet, was that a shot that sticks out in your mind or is there another shot during the course of the round that maybe was a feature for you?
JESSICA KORDA: No, I hit a lot of good shots, a lot of good shots that sometimes maybe even got unlucky. I hit my driver really well. So just confidence to always hit it well and even if I made a mistake I didn’t really get upset about it, because it is my first round since last year, so it’s just really taking the time to work through everything and staying calm.
Q. When was your last competitive round?
JESSICA KORDA: I played beginning or December I think, first or second week in December, I played in Taiwan.
Q. Simon caddied for you last year in Melbourne, is he caddying for you this week?
JESSICA KORDA: No he’s not, he couldn’t. I actually did ask him but he had some prior engagement.
Q. Who have you got on the bag this week?
JESSICA KORDA: I’ve actually got a local this week, it’s nice.
Q. After this are you going to play New Zealand?
JESSICA KORDA: No, I’m going to Melbourne. I’m going to kind of just stay in Melbourne for a little bit and play the golf courses out there and then make my way to Canberra the week after. I’m going to be gone playing five weeks in a row so I just wanted to take one week for myself.
Q. That includes the LPGA events in Thailand and Singapore?
JESSICA KORDA: Yes, I don’t go home till May.
Q. Just to clarify, the sprinkler head you hit, you did on 1 with your opening drive and it bounced into the rough, and then you got your birdie there?
JESSICA KORDA: Yes, I think I ended up birdying it. I’ve never hit a sprinkler in my life until now.
Q. These holes were on your back nine, weren’t they?
JESSICA KORDA: Yes, it was the front nine but my back nine.
Q. Do you expect 5 under to hold up as leading score today?
JESSICA KORDA: The conditions out there are really good, so it’s definitely scoring conditions. It depends on the players and if it’s going to be windy or not. Definitely the greens are starting to get a lot firmer so it’s not as easy to keep the ball by the hole, especially if you have a front pin, but I think there’s definitely going to be somebody that’s going to pass it. There’s going to be a 6 or a 7 under.
STACEY KEATING 68 (-4)
KATHIE SHEARER: Stacey, a lovely solid round out there today; are you pleased you left a few behind?
STACEY KEATING: Yeah, I got off to a good start. I was struggling with my driver quite a bit off the tee but I managed to scramble even a couple of birdies out of the trees, so that was kind of nice and I putted very well today; so that always helps when you’re scrambling a little bit.
Q. Which holes are those ones out of the trees? You were saying you were hard up against the trees?
STACEY KEATING: A couple of the holes early, I think 3rd and 4th I just struggled off the tee a little bit, but I guess I never put myself in too much trouble. I was either in a fairway trap or in some light rough and I managed to scramble it out there.
Q. I guess one of the big themes of the day was being able to play with one of your idols, Karrie Webb. How did that go and were there nerves on the first tee?
STACEY KEATING: More nerves than I’ve ever felt I think, definitely. I was very nervous but I was very excited, so I was happy to get the first one airborne and I was away. I’m very fortunate that I’ve been able to get to know Karrie quite well. I’ve played a lot of rounds with her actually but never actually a competition round. I think it was a little bit different but I just enjoyed her company out there.
Q. That drive off the first tee was down the middle of the fairway?
STACEY KEATING: Yes, no problem.
Q. Stacey, did it affect your play? Did you sort of find yourself watching Karrie at times or was it pretty easy to get into your own rhythm and carry on from there?
STACEY KEATING: I mean I tried not to, I wanted to focus on my own game, but obviously having her there was always going to be a little distraction but hopefully I used it for the better and was able to concentrate and just focus on my own game.
Q. Stacey, just wondering how it was considering the lack of preparation you had for the tournament this week because of the weather, was it hard to get out of the blocks early today?
STACEY KEATING: I think I was fortunate; I got to play the pro-am yesterday. There was half the field that didn’t get to play, nor a practice round. I felt good. I still got some solid practice done on Tuesday and Wednesday and I did feel good out there, but I’ll be going to the range to try and sort the driver this arvo.
Q. What about the actual condition of the course today, considering the amount of rain that we’ve had, was it up to scratch?
STACEY KEATING: I think it was fine considering what we’ve had and considering how it looked when I arrived on Tuesday. It was flooded. There were a couple of patches where I took relief for the casual water but nothing real. They had preferred lies so at least you were able to clean the ball, not so much for the lie but just to be able to clean it.
Q. Do you feel that a similar round tomorrow is required to get into the action on the Sunday, to get into the money on Sunday?
STACEY KEATING: Yeah definitely, there are always some low scores here. I’m happy with how I played today and hopefully I can just build on that tomorrow.
Q. You had a really good round going until sort of midway through your back nine, what happened at that point with those couple of bogeys?
STACEY KEATING: The first bogey came on the 5th – the 4th, 4th, I hit what I thought was a good tee shot and it ended up in that fairway trap that comes out more than I thought and maybe I chose the wrong line there and then I sort of had to take my medicine and didn’t get up and down. That’s okay that’s a bogie and that happens.
The next on the 7th, well I hit it in the fairway trap, left it in the fairway trap, had to lay up, still had like 115 left to the pin and got up and down from there. So that’s a bogie I’ll take. They’re two great bogies that really I’m actually not too disappointed with and I know that side of the course is definitely a lot tougher.
Q. I imagine you’d take 4 under on a day like today? Were you disappointed to get to 6 under and let it slip?
STACEY KEATING: Of course maybe looking back on it, but like I said, those bogies, they weren’t too disappointing. I hit a good shot that cost me a bogey and then I scrambled from like 115 out to make the bogie, so I still see positives in that. Then I hit a great shot into the last, which is a difficult par 4 and I left the putt right in the heart short, so I guess a little disappointing there, but I’ll take it.
Q. Stacey, looking back in the 12 months that you’ve experienced, the good, the highs and the lows; how much better a player now do you think you were than you were 12 months ago?
STACEY KEATING: I think I’m a lot more confident, a lot more comfortable playing professional golf. Obviously I’m just carrying that confidence over and hope it can keep going. I’m just enjoying playing in Australia and hopefully I can keep it up the next couple of weeks as well.
Q. When you were DQ’d in the British Open last year, how much of an influence did Karrie Webb have on you getting over that?
STACEY KEATING: A lot. I was around her a lot that week prior to even playing. I played both practice rounds with her; I was able to learn a lot from her. I was very lucky that she was there when I actually got told that I wasn’t required tomorrow. A lot of the Aussie girls were there and I was very fortunate to have a lot of help because I wasn’t in a good state.
Q. Stacey, today being a competitive round with Karrie, from inside the ropes was there anything that you observed about the way Karrie goes around a course or gets into those little focus moments that you haven’t seen before or are they old hat now?
STACEY KEATING: I’ve watched her so much in competition; I’ve had practice rounds with her; so I know how she plays. It was just obviously, good to be in competition with her. She’s just a flasher isn’t she?
Q. Stacey, Karrie said yesterday very complimentary, that you were one of the most exuberant people she’d ever seen.
STACEY KEATING: Is that right, what else did she say about me?
Q. You could play golf. Where does that exuberance and that sheer love of golf come from?
STACEY KEATING: I do, I love it. I love practising, I love playing and I love competing. I’m very fortunate that I’m doing it for my living right now. I do, I love all sports but obviously this is my chosen one and I love it.
Q. It can be a bit of a dog-eat-dog. Have you still got that same coach that you had in 2006?
STACEY KEATING: Yes, I’ve had the same coach. I’ve only ever had one coach.
Q What is your support like on the tour, who have you got?
STACEY KEATING: My boyfriend Darren, who caddies for me. He’s the only one that really travels with me. Occasionally my coach would come out. No, Darren, he’s always there.
Q. Stacey, the last time we spoke you were saying that you hadn’t played well at home previously because you’ve had high expectations of yourself and playing here. Have you managed to find a mindset today that enables you to bring out your golf?
STACEY KEATING: I try to keep low expectations and hopefully I did that today and I can keep that going over the weekend I guess, because I think I play better that way.
KARRIE WEBB 70 (-2)
KATHIE SHEARER: Are you pleased with your round?
KARRIE WEBB: It was very solid, I felt strong all through the round. I am not quite as sharp as I need to be and my putting wasn’t so good. The course is playing longer than I am used to, the last hole we payed was the 9th and I hit a good drive and 5 iron.
It was good to have my family out walking with me, they always give me great support.