You are at the top of the leader board. We would expect nothing less. How was it out there today?
I would like to say thank you for coming here. I played early morning so I played without the wind. There was a little bit of rain that soaked the greens so I was really aggressive with every shot to the pin. I missed three or four greens but my short game and putting were good. I played a very easy game.
Did you feel cold this morning?
It was cold and I put on my rain wear for two holes. But it was comfortable weather today.
Are you surprised at how well you are playing considering you have not played much lately?
Yesterday I said I was ready to go. I tried to keep focused. On the front nine I was focused but on the back nine – 10 and 11 – I just seemed to lose my focus. This is the first event of 2011. I want to make a good start to the season.
Why was it so easy for you?
When I started at the first hole I was a little bit nervous. I changed my swing a little bit last month. I changed the tempo. I had confidence but I was a little bit nervous too. But when I played the first hole with good hitting, good contact, I got more confidence in my new swing. After that I just trusted myself and I hit to the pin on every hole.
Twice you’ve been runner-up in Australia. How important is it for you to win here?
I am just happy to play here. I was happy to finish second too. I want to win. That is another step and also good experience for me. No Korean has won this event before. I think I have a good chance to be the first Korean winner this week. There are a lot of good Koreans playing here. I want to win. I am just enjoying being in Australia and doing my best.
Does playing well in Australia set you up for a good year?
Yes, I think so. I played very well here last time so I get big confidence. I get a good feeling for the LPGA Tour and Korea Tour.
Do you like leading or coming from behind?
It doesn’t matter. When I start on top I have a good feeling. I try to keep it going for the next days. When I start bad I think, Okay, bad thing is done.. I make another goal. I does not matter if I start bad or good.
Did you set yourself a target score?
This morning my goal was five under par because I have a good feeling. It is not an easy course but I am very comfortable. It depends on the wind. When I practised on Tuesday I could not control my ball. Tomorrow I play in the afternoon. Hopefully no more wind. I feel very good. If I carry this feeling, maybe I’ll shoot 13, 14 under par. Good chance.
How many birdies today?
What gave you the good feeling this morning?
Last night was great for sleep. I was in my bed about 8.00. It was a really good sleep. I don’t why but for the past couple of weeks it has been hard to get to sleep. Maybe it is the pressure of the season. But yesterday was a good sleep.
Do you feel pressure because you are playing here as the world No. 1?
Yes, I think so. Also in Korea, they really look at me. It is okay. I am learning more to enjoy the pressure.
Have you been in Korea recently?
Yes. For Christmas with my family.
Was there a lot of media attention on you?
Oh yes. When I went back to Korea, for the first 10 days it was interview, interview, interview, interview. It is okay because they are waiting about one year for me. I really have to do it. My body was a little bit tired but it is okay.
When did you land in Australia?
On Sunday. I went to the tennis. Actually, I met Novak Djokovic last year.
How were the conditions?
It was cold and drizzly this morning. I don’t think it was forecast. It was a little unexpected. My whole round was very scratchy. I actually hit more quality shots in my first nine holes than I did on the back nine. I managed to get it around. I did some good things. I have not played for two months. I hit a bad five iron into 18 and it buried in a crater. That does not normally happen. That was a bit of bad luck. Other than that, I scrambled around and managed with what I had. Sometimes you have to do that.
Do you feel that was the best score you could have had?
Probably. I’m not complaining. I have got a bit of work to do on the range this afternoon.
Do you think the bunkers are unfair?
They are inconsistent. I hit a fat five iron (to the bunker on 18). It should not bury. You’d expect if you hit a nine like that, it might bury. Some have so much sand and some have none. I think I got a lucky break on the front nine. It probably evens out.
You hit some great shots today, including your recovery on 14, and some that weren’t so great.
Yes. I missed short putt on 12 and missed a birdie putt on 13. I think I have to pat myself on the back – that’s what Noel is trying to get me to do – because I managed myself fairly well. I got down a little bit because I hit some shots that weren’t there yesterday. I have to figure out what that was. I was able to manage things and I putted well. I missed a short one for par but other than that I putted pretty well today.
What were the shots that weren’t there yesterday?
I left everything right. I was getting stuck behind myself and could not get through the ball. I have to figure out what that is.
Has Alexis played with you before?
I played with her here in the first two rounds last year.
What do you think of what the LPGA is doing to her at the moment? They are not giving her a card and restricting the number of starts she can have.
I agree that kids really shouldn’t be out here playing a full schedule. She is talented enough to be out here, for sure. But that is not the question. Eighteen is young enough. I find it quite surprising that it is so controversial. The NBA in the States and the major league baseball have age limits. You have to finish high school before NBA and now you actually have to go to college for a year. You have to be 19 to get to the NBA. I think 18 is young enough to be on Tour. You think about the States. You can’t run a car until you are 25. That means her parents are with her for 10 years. I think Alexis is a lovely girl and very talented. But I think her playing the schedule she is playing when she really should be finishing high school at the same time, I think that is enough opportunity.
Is all well with your family in Queensland?
I think so. When I made the turn I asked Mum and Dad. They said it was a bit early this morning to call. I have not spoken to them since.
Was that preying on your mind overnight?
I actually turn it (television) over to the cricket. It was enjoyable for a change. I was really getting sucked in to the Channel 7 coverage of it. You weren’t really learning anything, just getting more and more upset for the people. Are there any pictures out yet of Innisfail?
No injuries and no deaths.
Really? That is amazing. .
You had a good year in 2010. Is your game in good shape?
I had a very good year last year in Japan. In the last few months I got really tired and my game went off. I felt in the first two-thirds of the year I played some of my best golf.
You obviously like Commonwealth.
This is my first time here. Unfortunately I could not play last year. I played here for the first time on Monday, a practice round. It is beautiful.
What brought on your good form last year?
I have been working on my weaknesses. I have not putted as well as I should have in the last few years. I have not really taken advantage when I have played well. I went from around 30th on putting to about seventh. That is a pretty big difference. Putting is the key. If you make a few putts you can get going. I putted terribly in the pro-am yesterday. Today I missed one early and then started holing a few. It gets you relaxed and gives you momentum. My putting was probably the difference.
How windy were the conditions?
Usually when you are first in the morning you expect it to be pretty friendly and expect to have a low score. But when we teed off it was drizzling and the course was playing really long. There wasn’t much wind but it seemed to take a big toll. You had to add two and a half clubs just to get it back to the pin. I did not think the front nine was that easy. The ball ran a bit further on the back nine. I think the cold weather made the morning conditions a little harder.
Where do you think 69 will stand at the end of the day?
I don’t know. It depends on the wind. I don’t know what the forecast is.
How does Commonwealth compare with the courses you play in Japan?
It is very different. Whenever I play in Australia it takes me a while to feel feel comfortable because it is such a fast game. The ball rolls a lot more. In Japan we allow for elevation, 10 yards for uphill or downhill. Here is is one or two.
Are you still totally committed to the Japan Tour?
Yes. I’m 30 years old now. I will probably play golf for another four years. To go and play in the States now, I’d have to move there and get a place. It is something that does not appeal to me. There are a lot of challenges I can still achieve in Japan. I like to live at home and travel back and forth. I have a lot of nieces and nephews that I love seeing. It helps me play better golf being at home a lot more. Everyone talks about going to America but it really does not interest me.
Only another four years?
Round about. I don’t know. It depends what happens. I don’t know if I want kids. I am guessing at least four years. After that, it depends where I’m at.
Do you speak Japanese?
Not really. A little bit. I can say a few words to get by. The players teach me a bit and they want to learn English. It is good fun. My caddie speaks a lot of English.
How does today’s round set you up for the rest of the tournament?
It is a good start. You are always nervous at the start of the Australian Open so if you make a good score in the morning is important. I’m sure tomorrow afternoon there will be harder conditions. It is nice to have a few shots under par to make it a bit more comfortable tomorrow.
What is your best Open result?
I think I finished eighth at Metro. It has not been a tournament I have performed particularly well in.
Why do think that is?
If there is a tournament you really want to do well in it is your national championship. There is a little more pressure on us in Australia because we don’t get to play many events here. In Japan I play 30 weeks. You’d hope at some stage you are going to have a good result. When you play two really big events here, you have to perform at that time. Playing different conditions most of the year I find my short game around Melbourne courses a lot different. There are tighter lies. Also, the Australian tournaments come after we have had a break. It can take a bit to get back into it.
You had a good last round in Canberra.
That’s my home course. There was a bit of pressure on there. I played a pretty solid three rounds.
Do you like pressure? Do you like being on top at the start of the tournament?
I tend to do better from behind. I tend to have my best rounds on the last day. I don’t know why. Hopefully I can keep playing well.
Your world ranking warrants you a lot more attention. We don’t see you face on the posters (of the winners in the media centre).
The players in those pictures are ranked a lot higher than me. At big events like this you have to use fresh faces. There are a lot of young players. Perhaps the Australian Tour wants to promote them, which I think is great. We are all trying to do the same thing, whatever the pictures they use. I don’t look at it personally and say my name is not there. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t. In Japan I pretty much never get on a poster.
Can I ask about Damon (Welsford), your caddie?
Is he a good mate of yours?
He is my boyfriend. He does not normally caddie. He is just doing it these two weeks. My Japanese caddie came out to Metro a couple of years ago but his wife said he had to stay home. Damon helps a lot with my game. He was good out there today. He helped me with putts.
Do you play much golf with him?
We practise a bit together but with our schedules so different, it can be difficult. We try to play whenever we can. We hang out whenever we can.
He has had a great summer.
He has played really well. He did not have any status at the beginning of last year. He qualified for events and got some sponsor’s invitations and made the most of it. Now I think he is fully exempt in Australia and has a One-Asia card. He has done a lot with little opportunities.