CN Canadian Women’s OpenVancouver Golf ClubCoquitlam, British ColumbiaAugust 26, 2012Final-round Notes and Interviews
Fifteen-year-old amateur Lydia Ko made history on Sunday becoming the youngest player to win in LPGA Tour history with a victory at the 2012 CN Canadian Women’s Open. Ko, who 14 days ago claimed the U.S. Women’s Amateur title, sprinted to the finish line with a back-nine 33 that included five birdies to win Canada’s national championship at the age of 15 years, 4 months and 2 days. The teenager carded a 5-under-par 67 in the final round to finish the week at 13-under-par 275, three shots ahead of Inbee Park who claims runner-up honors with a twist – she banks the $300,000 first place prize due to Ko’s amateur status.”It’s great to win, and the last few holes, it got a bit nerve-wracking, but Stacy Lewis after my birdie on 15 she said, you know, you can do it, and it was really great to have another player that I look up to giving me that much support,” Ko said. “So it was really awesome.”Ko entered the day with a one-shot lead over four players, including Stacy Lewis and Jiyai Shin, two players that were paired with her in the final group. Following the round, Lewis praised Ko’s poise.”I was most impressed with just her demeanor,” said Lewis, the No. 2 player on the Rolex Rankings who tied for sixth at 7-under-par. “I mean you would have never known that it was the final round of an LPGA event. She played like she had been there before.”The New Zealander carded seven birdies and two bogies – including the 18th hole where adrenaline got the best of her – over the final round. She didn’t look at a leaderboard until the 17th hole, at which point she had a four-stroke lead and knew the tournament was hers for the taking.”I actually purposely looked on 17 so I could see where I was positioned, and I saw there was actually like four, five shots gap, so I kind of tried to play the 18th quite relaxed, and everything went straight, but my adrenaline got to me and it went way past the green,” she said. “(But) then I won. That’s the most important part for me.”Ko will travel back to her native Korea on Monday before trekking to Great Britain, where she will play the 2012 RICOH Women’s British Open in three weeks. She plans to maintain her amateur status for the time being.”I’ll still remain an amateur and then finish high school and then go to college in the States,” said Ko, who donated her glove from Sunday’s round to the World Golf Hall of Fame. “I mean this is a great win, but I don’t think this will affect me changing my roots to my career.”
A $300,000 shot… A nearly 60-yard hole-out on 18 pulled Inbee Park out of a tie with Na Yeon Choi to secure a runner-up finish and a $300,000 check. Despite Lydia Ko’s historic win, the amateur couldn’t collect the first place prize, giving the rest of the field a bigger paycheck this week than merited. Park says she’s never felt more fortunate to get a runner up finish.
“It feels great,” Park said. “I finished second and get the first place money. It hasn’t happened maybe in 40 years. It hasn’t happened that often. And I was lucky this week, I guess.”
Park is in the midst of her most successful year on the LPGA Tour, notching her third runner up and eighth consecutive top-10 this season including her win at the Evian Master Presented by Societe Generale.
Stat check… With a $300,000 check Park sits at $1,419,940 in season earnings, surpassing Stacy Lewis for the top spot on the list. Lewis trails behind by more than $100,000 but still leads the Rolex Player of the Year race with 146 points and leads by 26 over Yani Tseng.
The Vancouver Golf Club proved difficult for many rookies this week with only seven of 23 making the cut this week. Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year leader and runner up So Yeon Ryu and Lexi Thompson were among the 16 who missed the cut, allowing Lizette Salas (T32), Mo Martin (T22) and Sydnee Michaels (T15) to make a move. However, Ryu still hold a commanding lead in the race with 931 points, more than 300 points over Thompson.
Golden ticket winners: Lydia Ko, Jane Rah and Catriona Matthew punched their “Ticket to CME Group Titleholders” at the CN Canadian Women’s Open, each earning a spot in the season-ending CME Group Titleholders event, which will be held Nov. 15-18, 2012 at The TwinEagles in Naples, Fla. The second annual CME Group Titleholders is a season finale with a field made up of three qualifiers from every LPGA Tour tournament.
Tweets of the day: “All I have to say is that was one of the most impressive rounds of golf I have ever watched! #crazygood” — @StacyLewis after playing with Lydia Ko in final round
“Hope you paid attention today folks cause history just happened. Incredibly impressive what @ko_lyds did. Big congrats” — @SophieGustafson
Quotable: “I think it’s good for the game. Yeah, I feel I’m old on the tour now. I’m only 23, but there’s so many younger players now.” – Yani Tseng on 15-year-old Lydia Ko’s win
Of note… Defending champ Brittany Lincicome finished with a 6-over 294 and tie for 60th… Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng tied for 35th with a 1-over 289… Haeji Kang tied the low round of the day shooting a 67 to finish in eighth place.
Lydia Ko, Amateur
THE MODERATOR: Today’s a historic day on the LPGA. With your victory you become the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history by more than 16 months. Last year Lexi Thompson was the youngest winner in September at the Navistar LPGA Classic at the age of 16. You’re 15. Tell us how it feels.LYDIA KO: It feels amazing, and I broke the youngest record in January for the New South Wales Open and to break another record or being in the history, it’s amazing, and it’s always awesome to be able to play with the pros. Yeah, it’s great to win, and the last few holes, it got a bit nerve-wracking, but Stacy Lewis after my birdie on 15 she said, you know, you can do it, and it was really great to have another player that I look up to giving me that much support. So it was really awesome.
THE MODERATOR: You’re a very accomplished player at such a young age. You’re the reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur champ. The CN Canadian Women’s Open gave you a sponsor exemption this week. Did you ever think in your wildest dreams you would come here and beat 149 other players for the title? LYDIA KO: No, not really. I won the New South Wales Open, and that was the only European Tour event, but LPGA Tour is where I want to turn professional and hopefully my career would direct that way.So I never knew I had it coming, and I was so happy to win the U.S. Amateur, to win this, I never think about it. I just wanted to make the cut. And when I saw that I was tied first after the second day, I was like, wow. I’m feeling really good. And yeah, kind of surprised to have two wins in such a short time.
THE MODERATOR: Today we got a call from the World Golf Hall of Fame asking for something, a memento from your round to put on display. How cool is that at the age of 15 you’re going to have something on display next week in the World golf Hall of Fame? LYDIA KO: It’s amazing. It’s something different from being a winner and to have something that you won or that you used to have on the history of the Wall of Fame. So that’s great. I’ve always wanted to visit there and go there, but to have something that’s mine to be up there is amazing, and you know, it doesn’t come down or anything. So it’ll always remain there, and it will be a good memory. It’s been an awesome week, so it’s been good news from the start.
THE MODERATOR: Well, now you’ll have a reason to go visit and see your golf glove on display.LYDIA KO: Yeah.
Q. Congratulations. You spoke earlier in the week about wanting to go to school, not sure about becoming a professional. And your world is going to change when you wake up tomorrow. It already has today. To rethink the possibility of turning pro either this year or next year because of your success, you play so many tournaments as it is. Are those thoughts going to change?LYDIA KO: No, I don’t think so. I don’t think any of my plans will change. I’ll still remain an amateur and then finish high school and then go to college in the States. I mean this is a great win, but I don’t think this will affect me changing my roots to my career.
Q. Lydia, I was just curious, what item do you think you might like to donate to the World Golf Hall of Fame?LYDIA KO: We decided to give my glove, my Srixon glove, and it will be placed up there along with the many great people — the many things that the big names put up there.
Q. Just as a follow-up question, if I may, I noticed you’re wearing a red shirt. Do you always wear a red shirt in the final round of the tournament?LYDIA KO: I don’t know. I think I wore a red shirt on the last day of the U.S. Amateur as well, I think. And Under Armour pants. So yeah, my mom asked me this morning what do you want to wear, and I said, black pants. And she said, red top? And I was like, okay. She said, oh, you’re going to look like Tiger Woods, because you know, he seems to do that as well. And red is a good color, and yesterday I wore gray/silver like on the top, and my aunt called and said, you look too dark. So I guess this is bright enough; right?
Q. So you don’t wear red specifically because Tiger wears it?LYDIA KO: No, not really. It’s just another color.
Q. Lydia, can you talk a little bit about the start of your Back 9? That seems to be where you won the tournament. Obviously you ran off that string of birdies. Have you played much better golf in a situation like that?LYDIA KO: No. This week I made, I think on the first day like two birdies in a row, and then the second day three birdies in a row, and then yesterday I kind of separated birdies, and today I had four birdies in a row; and that makes a lot of difference. It gets you from 1-under to 5-under. And it’s always good to have a birdie, but to follow it up is awesome. And my drives at the start of my round wasn’t so good. I was pushing it to the right. So I wasn’t that happy, but you know, on 9 I had a great drive and then I followed it up on 10. And it was a long drive and I got to get on the green in two, so fortunately I didn’t have a pressure birdie putt. It was only a tap-in.
Q. I wanted to ask one other question. Really big crowds out here this weekend and they really seemed to be supporting you in a big way. Did you feel that support when you were walking down the fairways here?LYDIA KO: Yeah, definitely. Like I said in my other interviews, this is the biggest crowd I’ve ever played in, and like on 18 just from the front of the tee, everyone to the back of the green. And it was a lot of people. And yeah, it’s always good to — people say “go Kiwi” or “go Lydia,” and I’m not sure it was because I was leading at that point or something. But yeah, it was awesome to hear people cheering for you.
Q. I’m from Japan, and a lot of our players were having problems with the greens. Did you feel anything with the greens being difficult or anything like that?LYDIA KO: No. I think those greens were good. Yeah. Obviously I didn’t have much of a problem. But it was really helpful to have Brian Alexander who knew the greens really well. And there were putts where I wasn’t so sure and he knew where to go. Yeah, I mean yesterday I had a little bit of trouble on the greens, but that happens. You don’t always get four perfect days and four perfect days of golf.
Q. New Zealand being so close to Japan you don’t have much of a time difference. Would you think about playing tournaments in Japan?LYDIA KO: Yeah. I got a sponsor’s exemption for one of the events in September, but I’m playing the World Amateur Championship in Turkey at a similar time, so unfortunately I won’t be able to go to the event in Japan, but hopefully if I get time or, you know, if I am able to play a tournament in Japan, it would be awesome because I’ve never been to Japan all my life.
Q. Lydia, your association with Brian Alexander, your caddie, was exceptional. You couldn’t have asked for a better individual to be your caddie. Do you plan to stay in touch?LYDIA KO: Yeah, definitely. I stay in touch with all my caddies. It doesn’t matter who. I stay in touch with my caddie from the U. S. Open, Doug Wilbur as well. So yeah, I mean you get quite a good bond when you’re as a caddie and a player, and I’ve had quite a few caddies, and it’s been awesome. And at the New South Wales Open, Steven, he knew the course really well as well. He had experience on the tour in caddying. And I guess Steven and Brian, they’re both not related to me, but we got a really good bond, and I guess this will be good memories from this week.
Q. Aside from yourself, there were 12 ladies from South Korea. Did you have an opportunity at all this week to meet any of those others, talk to them, get to know them?LYDIA KO: Well, I played with two other Korean professionals on the first two days, and I played with Chella Choi yesterday, and I played with Jiyai Shin today. So I played with a Korean the whole tournament, and yeah, I got a little chance to talk to them, and it was awesome, especially today with Jiyai Shin. She’s one of the like Korean professionals I look up to, and she was awesome. Yeah, so it’s always great that people that you look up to be nice and be supportive what you do, so it was really great and hopefully she enjoyed it as much as I did.
Q. Lydia, congratulations. That was fantastic. A couple of questions. Firstly, what were those red balls you were eating on the Back 9 that I saw?LYDIA KO: Cherry tomatoes. I don’t know if you guys call it differently.
Q. And secondly, you have the most beautiful swing, beautiful tempo, rhythm. But you have that move just at the end of the old pre-shot routine where you swing the club more on a flat plane. Are you working on something in particular or are you conscious of technique, swing technique?LYDIA KO: Yeah. A little bit. Most of the swing stuff needs to be done on the range, and you never know what’s going to happen on the course. And you can’t really go so technical on the course. At the start of this week, like before the tournament I was having a little trouble with my swing, and because my coach isn’t here, he kind of helps me do everything. And it’s hard to pick out what’s wrong. So you know, Scott Rogers, who’s a member of the PGA of Canada, and he came out and checked my swing, and you know, I was kind of going like this. So he said, you know, just follow through a bit, and it’s a great swing. So you do wind up there and then your knee and your ankles, so I think that routine helps, and it gets you through the ball really well.
Q. Lydia, you’re 15 years old. You’ve just beaten the best players in the world. Has it sunk in what you’ve just accomplished, and was there ever a point on the Back 9 where you’re looking around going what the hell is going on here?LYDIA KO: (Laughs). I don’t know. Like the first time I looked at the leaderboard was on I think 17 or something. Maybe I had a peak or anything. But I kind of looked at it because I wanted to become more relaxed, and today I said I’ve got nothing to lose. I already got the leading amateur in my bag. And yeah, all I need to do is play my game, and my goal was 4-under, so I shot 5-under, even better. And yeah, it was really hard, and I actually purposely looked on 17 so I could see where I was positioned, and I saw there was actually like four, five shots gap, so I kind of tried to play the 18th quite relaxed, and everything went straight, but my adrenaline got to me and it went way past the green. And then I won. That’s the most important part for me.
Q. Lydia, do you think — I mean you’re talented — we saw your talent. Do you think you could have won this without Brian reading a lot of putts for you. You had Scott Rogers helping you with your swing a little bit. How important were they — especially Brian and Scott?LYDIA KO: I personally think no one can do — I don’t think this win is all about me. I think it’s contributed to everyone. You just can’t play. From the start you need — you’ve got your coach, your mom, your parents, your support crew. You need all of them, you know. It makes a whole lot of difference, and I want to give my win to them as well. And yeah, it’s something to celebrate. And yeah, I don’t think I could have done it by myself, and at the start of the week my shots were a bit ugly, to be honest, and I wasn’t happy at all. So to have Scott helping me, and today when I was nervous, Brian was confident about his reads. So it made my life a little more simple.
Q. You talked about how important it is for you to finish high school, and you seem like a very grounded person. How do you keep yourself grounded after all this success?LYDIA KO: I don’t know. Maybe it came from my mom or dad or something. But I just try to stay relaxed, and I’m No. 1 in the world as an amateur, but I really don’t think about that. I just feel like I’m just an athlete playing or doing something that I really love.
Q. So what are you going to do to celebrate?LYDIA KO: I’m going to Korea tomorrow. At the start of the week I wanted to go shopping actually. So shopping’s gone. So maybe something fun. Maybe I didn’t go and shop at the start of the week because I was ready for this. But yeah, I’ll have dinner with Brian and Caroline and my mom and Joe and Brent who came all the way from New Zealand.
Q. Can you do the score card?LYDIA KO: One was par. 2, birdie. 3.
THE MODERATOR: Say what happened. Do you remember it? Like 7-iron to ten feet, that kind of stuff.LYDIA KO: Yeah. I’ll try. It’s going to be a long one. Like even the drives?
THE MODERATOR: No. For birdies just say what club you hit to the green and how far the putt was.LYDIA KO: Do I need to talk about my pars?
THE MODERATOR: No.LYDIA KO: My first birdie on 2, I hit 8-iron and it went to maybe two feet. So simple. And next birdie was 6. Like that hole, I just went right all the way. My drive went right. My second shot went right. But my third shot was good. And I hit a gap wedge from like 90-something yards. And I was in the right rough. And I had an eight-yard putt, and it went in. And 7, once again, I made a bogey. It was a good shot, though, to the green, and I chipped it and it was a little sloppy. And I made two putts for a bogey. And 10, I got on the green for two, and I two-putted from ten yards. And 11 I hit — I don’t know what club I hit. I don’t know what club I hit on 11. But I hit it to maybe three yards, to nine feet. And 12 I hit hybrid 22 and broke down, and I hit it to nine feet. Around nine feet, ten feet again. And 13 I hit driver, then 5-wood and I chipped it and I hit maybe six feet putt. And 15, I hit hybrid again, hybrid 22, and I had six feet putt for birdie. And bogey, 18 I hit hybrid 20 over the green and the chip wasn’t so great and I two-putted.
Q. You won the big tournament today. (Indiscernible). LYDIA KO: No, not really. There’s been times where I was really kind of disappointed with what I did, and I mean after so many experiences being able to play with the pros I enjoy really every moment of it. And as time went by, I realized, you know, you’re never going to always win, you know. You’re not ever not going to win, and you can’t play good golf every single time. So there hasn’t been a time where I wanted to quit golf. And I’ve been enjoying it for the last ten years and hope so for the next few years to come.
Q. Lydia, with your win here, you qualify for the CME Title Holders event for LPGA winners in November. Are you planning to go to that tournament? It’s in Florida. LYDIA KO: I didn’t know that. I’m not sure. I mean like when I go back to New Zealand, which is like the 3rd of October, in two weeks I actually have an external Cambridge exam, so I’m going to be really studying a lot and put golf at the back. Yeah, I need to pass my exams and get good results for that. So I’m not sure. It just depends, and also, I need to go to school and stay in New Zealand sometime. And always November and December has always been my prep time for January, February and March because I do a lot of tournaments over in Australia.
Q. You said yesterday that even if you won this event, that the U.S. Amateur would mean more to you. How do you feel about it?LYDIA KO: Yeah. I still think the U.S. Amateur means a lot, even though it’s a great honor to win this. Yeah, the U.S. Amateur — like I didn’t cry after this one. But that one I did cry. And I think, yeah, to me, U.S. Amateur is a big event, and obviously this event is huge as well, but still, as an amateur winning one of the biggest amateur events, I feel like it was a better win, even though this was so awesome.