|Top European Suzann Pettersen – six strokes off the lead|
Rolex Rankings No. 4 Inbee Park fired a third-round 67 on Saturday to hold onto the lead heading into the final-round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship (@kncgolf). The four-time LPGA Tour winner sits a 12-under through three rounds with second-year member Lizette Salas (@LizetteSalas5) trailing by three-shots.
Park’s putting stats continue to be the talk of the crowd as she carded five birdies and no bogeys during Saturday’s third-round. She claims she has never putted so well at the Mission Hills Country Club.
“I think I played really good the last few years, but then I just didn’t putt that well on these greens,” said Park. “But this year it seems like I’m reading the breaks really good and the putts are rolling in, so I think that’s been a big difference.”
Sitting six-strokes behind Park is a group of six which includes Angela Stanford, Karrie Webb, Suzann Pettersen, Karine Icher, Jessica Korda and Pornanong Phatlum.
Heart not on sleeve for Park. Third-round leader Inbee Park is known for her putting stroke, but not necessarily for her display of emotion. Entering the final round with the lead, the South Korean was asked if she expects to feel pressure.
“I definitely feel pressure out there, like all the other players,” she said. “I feel pressure, but my emotions just doesn’t show that much in my face.”
Park has led or co-led five times in her career entering the final round with her lone victory coming at the 2012 Evian Masters. Her other leads resulted in runner-up finishes, all in 2012, at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic (where she lost in a four-way playoff), the Sunrise Taiwan LPGA Championship, and the Lorena Ochoa Invitational.
Fight On: Second-year LPGA Tour member Lizette Salas will be in unfamiliar territory on Sunday, having never been in contention for a major championship in her professional career. In her four starts in major events, Salas’ best finish came in 2011 at the U.S. Women’s Open where she tied for 15th and was still an amateur. The Southern California native said she’s looking forward to giving a chase to Rolex Rankings No. 4 Inbee Park and is full of confidence heading into the final round.
“No, not in my professional career,” said Salas. “Maybe in college I came back to win a golf tournament, and so this is all a learning experience for me, and I’m just trying to have fun with it. You know, if I just keep it simple and just stick to my game plan and just really believe that I can pull it off and I have so many people around me that believe in it, I just have to believe it myself, so we’ll just see.”
Salas trails Park by three shots after her 3-under 69 on Saturday and said she’s been feeding off of her personal cheering section this week. When asked if she has trouble tuning it out, she confirmed she embraces the extra backing.
“No, I welcome it,” said Salas. “I just say keep cheering me on, and that’s what keeps the adrenaline going and keeps the momentum up for me. You know, I feed off the crowd, and to have my fans out here, my family here, it just helps me stay calm. I said yesterday other players would feel more pressure if they had more fans out. To me that’s the opposite. I welcome more cheers. I heard lots of “fight ons” today and lots of lilies, and that’s very heartwarming. I’m playing in my backyard, so I can’t ask for anything more than that.”
Salas admitted to overthinking things sometimes and said she’ll try to keep a clear mind on the eve of the final round.
“What do I tell myself? Nothing so much,” said Salas. “I can’t sleep very well when I’m in a position like I am today. I just tend to think of a lot of what‑ifs, so tonight I’m just going to tell my mind to shut up and to let me sleep.”
Accidentally great. Inbee Park’s two-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole gave her the three-shot lead she currently holds entering final round play at the Kraft Nabisco. But if she had her way, the putt would have been much longer.
“I wasn’t going for the pin,” she said. “I actually went for right of the pin to the middle of the green, but I slightly pulled it and it just ended up perfect.”
Regardless of length, Park’s putting has been the talk of the tournament – and her career. Last season, she led the Tour in putting average and putts per greens in regulation. It’s no surprise she also won the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average and the LPGA Official Money List.
A birthday treat. A low round, a major championship victory and possibly a fancy new car are the only things Suzann Pettersen (@suzannpettersen) is wishing for as she celebrates her birthday tomorrow. With a strong Saturday surge, Pettersen managed to place herself near the top of the leaderboard and in good position to make those birthday wishes come true.
The Norwegian put herself on the radar after carding four straight birdies in the final four holes, ending the day in a six-way tie for third and six strokes off the lead. Being in her position is not a foreign feeling for Pettersen, who was in the top-10 entering the final round of Kraft Nabisco Championships where she finished as a runner-up (2007, 2008, 2010), but this year she’s hoping the outcome ends with trophy in her hands.
“I mean, I am at least in a position to maybe give myself the best birthday present ever,” said Pettersen. “A couple years ago I bought myself a nice car. I think it would be sweet to have a piece of metal in my hands. I’m getting old. I’ve had a runner‑up finish here three times, and it’s not like I’ve only played here three times; I’ve played here 10, 11 times.”
Pettersen, who is turning 32 tomorrow, has a low number in mind to finish out the Kraft Nabisco Championship with a win.
“Hopefully I can be nice to myself, at least try and shoot ‑‑ if I can shoot twice my age tomorrow, I’ll be very happy,” said Pettersen.
Family Time. Jessica Korda’s (@JessicaKorda) gallery seemed to grow today as she inched up the leaderboard during Saturday’s third-round, but she only cared to see her family following alongside her. Korda put on a show for her parents and two younger siblings today, who she hasn’t seen since January.
“It’s really nice,” said Korda says of seeing her family. “My brother and sister got so big. It was really nice to see everybody, and I miss my dad’s humor and my mom’s calmness, and she did my laundry last night, so it was kind of nice.”
Korda is no longer the timid 19-year-old rookie she was two years ago in 2011. When she joined the tour she traveled with her father every week but now in her third year on tour she travels solo. She said although it was a tough transition, no longer traveling with her father was something they both knew needed to happen.
“My dad is really good about that,” said Korda of their conversation. “He knew that he can’t ‑‑ not that he can’t be here. That’s the wrong word. He knew that it was time to let me go, and my brother and sister do need him a lot more than I would. All he would do is just drive me to the golf course and drive me back and have dinner with me. He got bored probably, too. I mean, that’s no fun.”
After claiming the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open at the beginning of her second season, Korda says she became more comfortable and accepted out on tour, which in turn helped her and her parents realize it was time for Korda to be on her own.
“My sister is 14, turning 15, and my brother is 12, turning 13,” said Korda. “They’re both playing tennis and golf, and so they’re growing in their own aspects and their need their parents there. I’m 20 years old. I don’t really need them to be out here. I can kind of drive myself around. I’ve made my own friends that I can go to dinner with. It’s just easier for them, and it’s definitely nice for both my brother and sister to have their mom and dad at home.”
Course comfort: Texas native Angela Stanford (@Angela_Stanford) surged up the leaderboard on Saturday with the low round of the week, a 6-under 66, and put herself in contention for her first-career major championship. The five-time LPGA Tour winner said she found comfort in the third-round hole locations and said her familiarity with the course has helped her with solid performances over the years.
“We get to play it over and over,” said Stanford. “I’m a slow learner, so I’ve finally got it. No, I think visually some of the holes set up well for me. There are just a couple that don’t, and they usually have these greens pretty firm and fast. I love a fast green. And I think I’m just familiar with it. I’m confident in certain areas, and I know what parts of this course are going to jump up and bite me.”
It wasn’t always good memories for Stanford in Rancho Mirage. She missed two out of her first four starts from 2003-2006 at the Kraft Nabisco and didn’t break the top-50 in her other two. But the thirteen-year veteran has been in the mix the past six years, finishing within the top-15 each of her last six starts, including a tie for third in 2011. She’s currently six-strokes off the lead heading into Sunday’s final round and is optimistic about her position with 18 holes to play.
“I’ll tell you, anything happens here, and being a major, that ‑‑ I think five shots out you still have a chance. I think somebody like Inbee, you know she’s not going to make a huge mistake. Like you’re saying, the fact that she’s that consistent, you know you have to make birdies to catch her. But sometimes that’s okay. It’ll be good for me tomorrow to go out and think I need to chase somebody.”
Tweet of the day: “What an impact he’s made in my mentality, he sent me a message that a golf tournament is a 12 round boxing match, rounds 7 8 9 go for the knockout, rounds 10 11 12 put on a show! Thank you Oscar for your support!!” – Lizette Salas says of pro-am partner Oscar De La Hoya’s advice
Of note… Inbee Park is projected to move to No. 2 in the world should she take the victory.
Third-Round Notes and Interviews
April 6, 2013
Inbee Park -12, Rolex Rankings No. 4
Lizette Salas -9, Rolex Rankings No. 40
Angela Stanford -6, Rolex Rankings No. 18
Suzann Pettersen -6, Rolex Rankings No. 8
Jessica Korda -6, Rolex Rankings No. 44
Karrie Webb -6, Rolex Rankings No. 14
Stacy Lewis E, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Inbee Park, Rolex Rankings No. 4
THE MODERATOR: We’d like to welcome third round leader at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, Inbee Park. Welcome. I have to ask, are you the best putter on earth?
INBEE PARK: My putter was really good today, but I don’t think I’m the best putter on the earth. I mean, there’s a lot of good putters out here, but I think I’m one of them.
Q. Do you think you got a little bit of a lucky break on No. 17 there where your ball just barely made it over the bunker?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, that wasn’t planned. That was a little bit of a mis‑shot. I pulled it slightly and it ended up perfect.
Q. I was talking to Paula Creamer on the putting green and she said during junior golf you played the exact same way, you rolled in every single putt, and she always had trouble beating you. Have you always felt comfortable with the putter in your hand?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, I mean, I didn’t really have to worry about the putting for my golfing career. Sometimes I have to worry about my swing more seriously, but not on the putting. It’s been always good.
Q. Do you ever feel nerves out there? You seem so calm. Nothing seems to bother you, the crowd noise or anything. Are you this calm all the time?
INBEE PARK: Well, nothing, like the sounds from the crowd and like phones, that doesn’t really bother me that much. But I definitely feel pressure out there, like all the other players. I feel pressure, but my emotions just doesn’t show that much in my face.
Q. And not in your swing, either, your swing seems like it’s the same every time. Is that something you take pride in?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, that’s what I’m trying to do, and that’s what I’m trying to work on, trying to have a consistent swing every time, even if I feel pressure.
Q. You won the Women’s Open in 2008 and not too many U.S. fans knew who you were. Now you’re ranked No. 4 in the Rolex Rankings. Do you feel the success you’ve had?
INBEE PARK: Of course. I only one won major in my seven‑year career, and after the U.S. Open I hadn’t won for a while. I had a good year last year, but I definitely need to show a little bit more good play and maybe a couple more majors win would be very nice.
Q. What about Murietta got you there?
INBEE PARK: Well, I don’t actually have a place in Murietta, my coach just lives there so I just go to his house when I have a week off.
Q. What clubs did you use on the two that you hit to about two and a half feet on the back nine, 17 and ‑‑
INBEE PARK: 17, I hit 7‑iron, and No. 12 I hit 9‑iron.
Q. On 17, that was a pretty tough back left pin, and after you watch her go in the bunker, you went right at that pin. What were you thinking on that shot?
INBEE PARK: Well, I wasn’t going for the pin, I actually went for right of the pin to the middle of the green, but I slightly pulled it and it just ended up perfect.
Q. You said your coach lives in Murietta. Who is your coach?
INBEE PARK: Well, he is my previous coach. He is still coaching me, but I am traveling with my fiancé, right now he is my coach.
Q. Is he here today?
INBEE PARK: Yes, he is here today.
Q. Did he give you any good advice?
INBEE PARK: Well, he said I’m swinging pretty good, so he didn’t really say much.
Q. What about your dad, you have no idea, have you heard anything from him?
INBEE PARK: Well, by yesterday he said he wasn’t coming because my mom is stopping him from coming. But they’re coming to Hawai’i.
Q. Do you have a putting coach or is your putting more something that is just natural and all yours?
INBEE PARK: I mean, I never had a putting coach. I had a swing coach, but putting has been my instinct and just my feelings. I never had a putting stroke coach.
Q. Growing up did somebody show you how to putt or you learned it on your own, too?
INBEE PARK: No, I just watched a lot of good players putting and just figured it out.
Q. There is only one player closer than six shots to you. Does that suggest tomorrow is a two‑player race?
INBEE PARK: I mean, this kind of golf course anything can happen on this golf course, so no, I can’t really say that only one player is trying to catch me. But I think everybody within maybe six, seven shots of the lead is still in the mix, I think.
Q. And how would you describe a final round in a major, how it’s just different than another final round? I know you probably want to approach it the same and do the same, but I also suspect that’s not possible.
INBEE PARK: It is different. You feel a lot more pressure and you see a lot more people, and especially playing in the last group. You’ve just got to handle yourself really good under pressure.
Q. You’ve obviously been in this position before. How big of an advantage is that going into tomorrow?
INBEE PARK: I think it’s always good to have more experience. Lizette is playing very good at the moment, so I think we really inspired each other today playing together, and I’ll just try to follow that. We both played very good today.
Lizette Salas, Rolex Rankings No. 8
THE MODERATOR: We’d like to welcome Lizette Salas into the interview room. Lizette, talk to us about your round and then we’ll get into some specifics about what it would mean tomorrow, et cetera.
LIZETTE SALAS: Well, I started off with two birdies back‑to‑back, and that was my goal was to start off strong. I made a three‑putt on 8, which I was not happy about but came back with a birdie on 9, and I wasn’t hitting the ball as well as the first two days, but I kept putting myself in good position, hit some good shots out of the rough, and hit a great bunker shot on 17 to get up‑and‑down for par. Obviously you want to end with a birdie, and didn’t quite drop. Overall pretty good day considering I didn’t hit the ball well.
Q. That missed birdie opportunity at the last, are you going to sleep okay on that?
LIZETTE SALAS: That will be in the back of my mind, just knowing that I could have made that putt and only two shots back. But you just can’t control everything out here, and I just put a good solid stroke and it just didn’t go in.
THE MODERATOR: Major championships provide a big stage. You’ve got one out there now that has 18 holes on it. What have you learned about yourself throughout this competition that you didn’t know prior?
LIZETTE SALAS: Geez, that’s a good question. I just learned that I can play some pretty good golf, and on a big stage like this, being my second year, and I have been in contention these past two tournaments, but not to where I was in the lead in the last group the last two days. So everything is going good, I’ve just got to stay patient and just trust my putter and just keep it simple.
Q. Is it hard to play with somebody like Inbee who seems to have no signs of nerves and just totally unflappable out there? Does that get a little frustrating sometimes when she makes every putt and doesn’t seem to ‑‑
LIZETTE SALAS: Oh, I expected that from her. I’ve played several tournaments with her, and that’s the type of player she is. That’s very admirable on my side. But that’s Inbee, and I just try to have fun and not pay too much attention on what she’s doing, I’m just trying to stick to my game plan. I smile, she might not, who knows. We’re very different players, but we have the same goal, and that’s to win tomorrow and jump in that pond.
Q. How hard will it be to pick up three shots on her?
LIZETTE SALAS: Well, if I play well, it won’t be as hard. I’m just going to stick to my game plan. I can’t control what she does, I can only control my swing thoughts and my routine. That’s all I can control. So we’ll see what happens tomorrow.
Q. Let’s talk about that for a second. Louisville came from 12 back to beat the Shockers in the Final Four semifinals today. You’ve got to come from a few shots back tomorrow. How will your game plan change? Are you going to try to put the foot down early?
LIZETTE SALAS: You know, we’ll see. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow morning, and today luckily I went ‑‑ I got a Tweet from Oscar de la Hoya saying rounds 7, 8 and 9, go for the knockout. So I tried that today, and tomorrow he said put on a show. We’ll see if I shift into gear tomorrow and throw in some fist pumps and knock in a couple birdies.
Q. Just like the first couple days, a lot of support for you out there in the galleries. Do you hear a lot of that? Do you try and tune it out at any point during the round?
LIZETTE SALAS: No, I welcome it. I just say keep cheering me on, and that’s what keeps the adrenaline going and keeps the momentum up for me. You know, I feed off the crowd, and to have my fans out here, my family here, it just helps me stay calm. I said yesterday other players would feel more pressure if they had more fans out. To me that’s the opposite. I welcome more cheers. I heard lots of “fight ons” today and lots of lilies, and that’s very heartwarming. I’m playing in my backyard, so I can’t ask for anything more than that.
Q. You seem really relaxed right now. Are you nervous?
LIZETTE SALAS: My hands are shaking.
Q. Are you calm out there or are you edgy?
LIZETTE SALAS: Today I was a little edgy, but the hands were shaking, but I just tried to smile it off and pretend like I wasn’t nervous. Obviously when you’re in contention for a major championship, of course you’re going to get some nerves, but I tried to calm them down, and birdies help to calm the nerves a little bit. I’m going to try to make as many as I can tomorrow.
Q. Have you ever been in your career in the position that you’ll be in tomorrow, in the final group and you have to go out and chase hard? Has that happened to you before?
LIZETTE SALAS: No, not in my professional career. Maybe in college I came back to win a golf tournament, and so this is all a learning experience for me, and I’m just trying to have fun with it. You know, if I just keep it simple and just stick to my game plan and just really believe that I can pull it off and I have so many people around me that believe in it, I just have to believe it myself, so we’ll just see. We’ll just see what happens.
Q. How long have you been using the longer putter?
LIZETTE SALAS: Since second stage of Q‑school, so almost two years maybe.
Q. Was there a reason for switching?
LIZETTE SALAS: I was not putting very well when I was on the Sumatra Tour. So it was my idea to go to the long putter. I don’t know, I just love it, and it’s definitely helped my confidence on the putting green. But even if I had the short putter it would still be the same stroke.
Q. Stacy Lewis made her first victory a major championship. How much have you thought about that, if at all?
LIZETTE SALAS: Someone did mention it to me, and the boost of a career can start here at the Kraft Nabisco, and it would be amazing if it would for me tomorrow. But you just have to stay patient, you just have to stay in the patient, stay in the present, and I do not want to get ahead of myself tomorrow and just keep it in the fairway and keep it on the green and roll it in.
Q. She has a reputation as one of the great putters out here. What do you think of her stroke?
LIZETTE SALAS: To be honest, I don’t even look at it. I don’t look at anyone else’s putting stroke. She does roll the ball very well. I do look at that, and she does roll in many putts. But I can do that, too. So it’s just a matter of keeping my head still and keeping my grip pressure very, very light. I can make birdie from anywhere. I just have to keep my confidence up tomorrow.
Q. Let’s get back to Oscar a little bit. Seems like you guys are pretty chatty.
LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah, he is just hilarious. We just were cracking jokes during the pro‑am, and he was just saying how golf is like a boxing match, and you just have to keep fighting and you just have to be prepared for anything. He’s just been Tweeting me and calling me or calling my caddie and then talking to me. He’s just been a great inspiration. We have similar backgrounds, and he just told me to be proud of who I am. Yeah, as I get more successful I’m going to have people pulling me different places, but as long as I keep focused and have the right people around me, I won’t have a problem.
Q. Did he say whether he’d come out tomorrow?
LIZETTE SALAS: Oh, I can ask. I don’t know if he will. We’ll see. I’ll Tweet him later.
Q. And what will you do tonight? Do you have a routine?
LIZETTE SALAS: I have no routine. My family is here. They’re going to stay the night. We’ll have the kids go in the pool and just have some family time and have a little barbecue like last night, and just keep it fun. This is what I live for. This is what I dreamed about my entire life is to be in contention at a major championship and hopefully get my first victory here in Southern Cal.
Q. Does your dad do the barbecuing?
LIZETTE SALAS: No.
Q. Do you?
LIZETTE SALAS: No. I just eat the food.
Q. Who does?
LIZETTE SALAS: My host family did the barbecuing last night, so we just relaxed and played for the best tomorrow.
Q. Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in the Rolex Rankings are not playing their best golf this week for whatever reason and it’s provided you this opportunity along with you playing well. Are you ready for all this? Tomorrow could really change a lot about your career. There are several in the media and fans out there who did not know Lizette Salas before this week, before this day.
LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah. A lot can change for me tomorrow. The world might know who Lizette Salas is. That’s what I’ve been wanting to do my entire life is to get my story out there and to get more people aware of someone who wasn’t thought of as a great player but is being successful, and just the way I think about it is I have 37 spots to go. I’m No. 38 in the rankings, and I have 37 spots to go.
Q. What’s the furthest you’ve ever come from behind at any level to win a tournament, do you know?
LIZETTE SALAS: My college coach might know this one, but I’m assuming three shots back. I think it was in Hawai’i or something my junior year. It was in college.
Q. When you bogeyed No. 8, what was the mindset? What did you feel like after that bogey? What were you thinking?
LIZETTE SALAS: I was very upset, and I don’t like to three‑putt, and it triggered that fighter in me, and it triggered something that I want to bring it back, and knowing I had a par‑5 coming just made me want it more. My caddie said, come on, girl, there’s a par‑5, let’s get it back, and I did just that.
What I’ve learned is to just like just forget about it and to not let the mistake from No. 8 go on to No. 9. I just use that negativity to bring out more birdies.
Q. What will you tell yourself this evening before you go to sleep and what would you tell any fans who are following Lizette Salas on the golf course tomorrow about you?
LIZETTE SALAS: What do I tell myself? Nothing so much. I can’t sleep very well when I’m in a position like I am today. I just tend to think of a lot of what‑ifs, so tonight I’m just going to tell my mind to shut up and to let me sleep.
Q. What would you tell the fans who are following you that they need to know about you?
LIZETTE SALAS: I would tell them to wear a lot of red and gold tomorrow and just to keep cheering me on and to ‑‑ what can I for ask but to just cheer me on. I’m here for them, as any other LPGA pro, we’re here for the fans, we’re here to entertain, so that’s what my game plan is tomorrow.
Suzann Pettersen, Rolex Rankings No. 8
THE MODERATOR: We’d like to welcome Suzann Pettersen to the interview room after the third round of the Kraft Nabisco. You shot 67 today, 5‑under, but with four holes to go it didn’t look like you were going to shoot 67. Tell us how those four birdies came together.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, it really felt like it because I probably should have had six straight birdies coming in. Played really solid today, had one bogey. I three‑putted 8. Stats were very good. Just really frustrating when you go out and you hit great shots, you’re getting great looks and then you roll the putts and it’s just not going in. I mean, it’s close, but it doesn’t help you, and it’s hard to really keep the composure and to keep kind of being aggressive and keep playing along. But it paid off today. It was a lot of internal hard work to keep myself in it, and when the putt dropped on 15 I said to myself, try and get one or two more, and I gave myself some good looks.
I’ve given myself a chance for tomorrow.
Q. You’ve broken 70 in the final round three times here, in ’08, ’09, and ’10. Talk about your mentality here going into the final round. Will you be to be aggressive?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, first I had a big test today to try to shoot a low round to get myself get into position where I can have a chance. Yesterday was a little bit disappointing; even though I didn’t really feel I played that bad, I had 35 putts. You’re not going to win major championships with 35 putts. Just tried to go out there today, not overly trying to kill everything out there, just let the patience kind of take me where the shots was needed, and it paid off to the end.
Q. Big day for you tomorrow. It’s your birthday.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah.
Q. Are you going to start the celebration early tonight?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: No. I mean, I am at least in a position to maybe give myself the best birthday present ever. A couple years ago I bought myself a nice car. I think it would be sweet to have a piece of metal in my hands. I’m getting old. I’ve had a runner‑up finish here three times, and it’s not like I’ve only played here three times; I’ve played here 10, 11 times.
Hopefully I can be nice to myself, at least try and shoot ‑‑ if I can shoot twice my age tomorrow, I’ll be very happy.
Q. Could you take us through the final four birdies, how long of putts did you have and how did you make those birdies?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, I took out my putter and rolled it at the pin, hit the center of the cup. Nice to hear that sound when the putt drops to the bottom of the hole.
No, 15 was a wedge in my hand to a couple feet, left‑to‑righter downhill, right in the middle.
16, I hit a gap wedge to about three feet.
17, I made, I don’t know, probably the longest putt, 15, 20 feet, 15 feet.
And I hit a gap wedge to about two feet on the last.
Q. When you are on a string like that do you kind of wish you didn’t have to stop playing?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: No. You know what, I was just glad I kind of maintained my demeanor. I could have easily lost it after 13, lipping 13 and lipping 14.
But sometimes the patience pays off, and it helps to be a little bit older not to kind of lose your head out there.
Q. And last question. Would this mean more to you, winning this tournament, because you’ve been close so many times?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I don’t really think about my past results here. All I can take from it is it’s a course that I like. I like what I see, I like the challenges. The course is set up really nicely. If the conditions stays like today, you need to go low tomorrow. I was hoping it was going to be more windy today, see if we can keep kind of lead more close to where it started, but very good conditions, so we would have seen a few more birdies drop for the leaders.
Jessica Korda, Rolex Rankings No. 44
THE MODERATOR: We’d like to welcome Jess Korda to the interview room here after the third round of the Kraft Nabisco. You shot 68 today, you’re 6‑under par overall, put yourself in the hunt. How nice is it to have your whole family following you around? You haven’t seen them since January.
JESSICA KORDA: It’s really nice. My brother and sister got so big. It was really nice to see everybody, and I miss my dad’s humor and my mom’s calmness, and she did my laundry last night, so it was kind of nice.
Q. You’ve set up shop on the West Coast for the last month or so with a local family. Is that here in the desert?
JESSICA KORDA: Yeah, actually I’m staying at the Pete Dye golf course with a family there, and I’ve stayed with them since my first Kraft Nabisco in 2010. They’re like my family pretty much.
Q. As they just mentioned on Golf Channel, 10 birdies in the last 26 holes. How do you explain the difference between your start and your last 26 holes?
JESSICA KORDA: Apparently someone said my putter was telling me no last night. No, my caddie is from Palm Springs, and he’s really good with reading the greens and helping me stay calm on them. I’m just reading them well and hitting them on the lines that I want. So hopefully I can do that tomorrow again.
Q. How important was it to get that birdie on the last hole after having the two bogeys? Does that give you some momentum going into tomorrow and feel good about the round?
JESSICA KORDA: Yeah, it definitely does. I mean, I had a great yardage to go for it in two, but I just wasn’t hitting the ball as well as I was on the front nine. So we decided to lay up and kind of take it a different route. I was just glad that that ball came down off that hill.
Q. Do you remember at all your dad winning the Australian Open or were you just too young to pay attention to that?
JESSICA KORDA: I mean, I think I have flashbacks sometimes.
Q. Were you there?
JESSICA KORDA: I was there. I was in the stands. I had this purple notebook that I was drawing in and had no idea what was going on. But I do remember him like climbing up the wall and running up to me and my mom and lifting me up and saying that he won. So I definitely remember certain aspects of it, not the whole thing, though.
Q. Does he golf at all, give you any tips, or is he just dad when he’s out there?
JESSICA KORDA: I think he tries to be just dad, but the athlete in him always wants to help, and I appreciate any help I can get from him because he knows so much. Any type of knowledge from him is really appreciated.
Q. What does he tell you? What can he tell you?
JESSICA KORDA: Actually he’s just been telling me to have fun, just relax and smile and enjoy it because there’s only so much you can do in practice, and then you kind of have to really enjoy it out there because through practice you’re not smiling. So that’s your job out there now.
Q. I don’t know if you remember this, I talked to you at the tennis tournament a couple weeks ago, and you seemed very excited about this week, even though it was three weeks away.
JESSICA KORDA: Yeah.
Q. Even though you haven’t played this event that often, what turns you on about this tournament, the history of this, the golf course itself?
JESSICA KORDA: Both. Coming from Florida, we don’t have these amazing views, and the golf course ‑‑ every day I feel like it’s so bright outside, it’s just beautiful, and you really enjoy it. The people here are great. They always are cheering you on, and the history itself, who doesn’t want to jump into Poppies Pond at the end of the day?
Q. How would you sum up your parents’ philosophy toward their role in your career?
JESSICA KORDA: They’re very supporting. My parents will always tell me what they think, not what to do, and that to me is really important. They kind of let me make my own mistakes and let me grow as an individual and don’t pressure me to do anything. Same thing when I was turning pro, they had an ultimatum, if I didn’t make it I was going to go take my SATs and go to school. But I didn’t, so they support me with whatever I do and then just lead me on.
Q. Is that why neither one of them traveled with you on the first part of the Tour swing?
JESSICA KORDA: Actually my dad ‑‑ neither one of my parents travel with me anymore. My sister is 14, turning 15, and my brother is 12, turning 13. They’re both playing tennis and golf, and so they’re growing in their own aspects and their need their parents there. I’m 20 years old. I don’t really need them to be out here. I can kind of drive myself around. I’ve made my own friends that I can go to dinner with. It’s just easier for them, and it’s definitely nice for both my brother and sister to have their mom and dad at home.
Q. Your third year on Tour and you’re kind of emerging as one of the young American stars this year. Talk about the state of American golf and where you see yourself in it.
JESSICA KORDA: I mean, I think a lot of the girls out here are coming out really young now. A lot of the girls that I grew up with are starting to come out on Tour, and we’re kind of having some fun out here, and it’s a little different, we’re a little more outspoken, more media creative and I think just a little more open towards the fans, and it’s great. It’s great to see, and I’m just happy to be a part of it and help the game grow.
Q. We saw you took part in Golf Channel shoot last week where you got dressed up. How fun was that?
JESSICA KORDA: Talk about a makeover. I mean, unbelievable. I’ve never worn pink lipstick before, nor have I ever had curls in my hair before. It was a lot of fun, the whole makeup process of it and trying to throw a diamond in the air without looking down at it to catch it. It was a lot of fun and it was cool to see everybody get dressed up.
Q. Were there some lonely points when you were out on the road by yourself and some scary confusing times trying to figure it out, or did you grow into it pretty quickly and feel like you transitioned on your own pretty easily?
JESSICA KORDA: 2011, my rookie year, my dad had some health problems, so he couldn’t come with me to Taiwan. I was literally set out all by myself. I sat by myself, I ate dinner by myself, and it was really hard. But I think the girls kind of see that you are by yourself and said, oh, we’re going to dinner at this time, do you want to come. They make it a lot easier when you kind of are by yourself, a lot of the girls will kind of take you under their wing and help you out.
But definitely by mid year last year I was completely okay. I travel with Jodi Ewart‑Shadoff. We room together all the time, and Michelle Wie is one of my really good friends and Brittany Lincicome is and Vicky Hurst and Sandra Gal. Just through traveling by myself and playing better and playing with the veteran pros out here that you see week in and week out, you get to know them and they get to know you and you just mesh well.
Q. How many events each year have your parents been out with you?
JESSICA KORDA: Well, through junior golf or ‑‑
Q. No, as a pro.
JESSICA KORDA: My first year my dad was with me every single week except for Taiwan, and then I did Australia all by myself and then I didn’t get to Thailand and Singapore, and then he did Kia and Kraft, and then he didn’t come out until the U.S. Open, so this year is their first time they’ve seen me play since the U.S. Open.
Q. Was there a conversation after Kraft that I’m going to let you go or how did that ‑‑
JESSICA KORDA: My dad is really good about that. He knew that he can’t ‑‑ not that he can’t be here. That’s the wrong word. He knew that it was time to let me go, and my brother and sister do need him a lot more than I would. All he would do is just drive me to the golf course and drive me back and have dinner with me. He got bored probably, too. I mean, that’s no fun.
Q. You had quite a few great saves today. Can you talk about momentum and how important that is and what you think you need to do for tomorrow to get it done? Inbee is at 11.
JESSICA KORDA: I think the putts that I saved were great, gave me confidence, but I was more upset about the shots where I was ‑‑ the reason that I had to make an up‑and‑down. I’m going to go back to the range and kind of straighten things out a little bit. It got a little windier out there, so I’m sure that had a little bit of effect on it. All in all I think I played pretty good, and I’m just excited to be out here and somewhat in contention and have fun tomorrow.
Angela Stanford, Rolex Rankings No. 18
THE MODERATOR: We’d like to welcome Angela Stanford to the interview room here at the third round of the Kraft Nabisco. 6‑under par 66, the round of the week.
ANGELA STANFORD: Thanks. I didn’t know that until you just told me that.
THE MODERATOR: Take us through it.
ANGELA STANFORD: I got off to a pretty good start. I birdied 2 and then kind of got a little loose, missed a couple greens in the next couple holes, and really just tried to figure out my swing out there, just to kind of get it around. I’ve kind of been fighting it all week, and I kind of found a thought that worked the rest of the day and made the turn and started hitting some good shots on the back.
I think these pin placements were familiar, so I knew once I got to certain parts of the green I was reading the greens pretty well today because they were familiar pin placements.
Q. Solheim Cup here, double points here, four‑time member of the Solheim Cup team. Does that factor in at all, the thought of coming out here and having a good finish at the Kraft?
ANGELA STANFORD: Yeah, I think any time it’s a Solheim year, as an American you want to be playing well all year, not just leading up. That’s kind of obvious. So I think if you can play strong in the majors, captains like to see that, too.
So I think any time it’s a Solheim year, you want to be playing good.
Q. Is the course playing relatively easy? Did you expect to see a lot of low scores today?
ANGELA STANFORD: Well, I mean, I kind of glanced at a few leaderboards out there, and I mean, I thought so, because like I said, these pin placements were pretty accessible today.
A little surprised that the leaders aren’t completely running away.
Q. How close to the lead do you think you have to be to have a realistic chance tomorrow, not just you but anybody? Where do you think you need to be?
ANGELA STANFORD: I’ll tell you, anything happens here, and being a major, that ‑‑ I think five shots out you still have a chance on Sunday here.
Q. The last six years you haven’t been out of the top 15 here, third a couple of years ago. Why this golf course?
ANGELA STANFORD: We get to play it over and over. I’m a slow learner, so I’ve finally got it.
No, I think visually some of the holes set up well for me. There are just a couple that don’t, and they usually have these greens pretty firm and fast. I love a fast green. And I think I’m just familiar with it. I’m confident in certain areas, and I know what parts of this course are going to jump up and bite me. So I think when you’re aware of that ‑‑
Q. Because of that familiarity, is this where you feel might be where the breakthrough comes?
ANGELA STANFORD: I sure hope so. I think that ‑‑ you know, I’ve been reading ‑‑ I just read “The Match,” the book, and being from Shady Oaks, I know a little bit about Mr. Hogan’s history. So I know that his breakthrough was late, and he also won a U.S. Open on a course he was familiar with. So maybe. I hope so.
Q. When you see younger golfers, Americans, Jessica Korda, Lizette, is there a stronger number of Americans coming up?
ANGELA STANFORD: Oh, yeah, I think it’s cool to see their names up there, and they have a lot of energy. I think it’s fun to watch these young kids play well, and I think the Americans are playing good, and I think our future is very bright.
Q. I wanted to ask you about the U.S. Women’s Open in ’03 and you came so close and got a taste of that. How much has that driven you to want to claim that first major?
ANGELA STANFORD: If I knew then what I know now ‑‑ actually flip that. I wish I would have won that one. I wish I would have stolen it from Hilary.
I think at the time I didn’t realize what was going on, and the longer I play these majors, the more I realize what they’re about and realize how truly close I was then and I didn’t even know it. It has driven me, but it’s like anything. It’s been a roller coaster. Sometimes I want to stay away from these things and sometimes I want to win them.
Q. Obviously you didn’t have too many mistakes today. Were there any holes you’d like back, even with a 66?
ANGELA STANFORD: Yeah. Again, I know out there what I’m capable of on certain holes. 12, that’s where I made my bogey. That hole, whether it’s the tee shot or the second shot, I haven’t figured that one out, even however many years I’ve been here.
Q. What happened today?
ANGELA STANFORD: I missed the green right on a flag that you can’t really miss it right. But I just ‑‑ it wasn’t ‑‑ it was actually a bad swing.
Q. You talked about maybe your schedule being a little lighter this year, so what’s that done for your mind, knowing you won’t have to grind it out so hard down the road a little bit?
ANGELA STANFORD: It’s helped tremendously. You know, I think you can get caught up out here in numbers and tournaments and ‑‑ for me I just had to realize I’m 35 years old. I’ve been chasing this for a long time. Maybe I just need to relax. So part of that’s been nice because I’ve taken some of that pressure off myself. So that has actually been really good for me mentally.
Q. Is there anything you have planned like if you have some time off, maybe some cool vacations you want to do this year?
ANGELA STANFORD: Stay at home. I love a baseball game, so hopefully the Rangers are in town. But we just spend so much of our time moving that I just would like to just be in Fort Worth, Texas, for a couple weeks at a time. And some of that I bring on myself. Sometimes on off weeks I don’t go home. But I’d probably just go home.
Q. The travel has become so onerous; do you think it will shorten the careers of the women that we might see fewer women playing into their 30s as you have?
ANGELA STANFORD: You know, I would say yes. Just for the couple of incidents that have happened this year, it’s just really hard. It’s really hard on your body. It’s hard on your family sometimes you know, I think about the players, like Juli Inkster and Meg Mallon and Beth Daniel and I think how late those ladies played. I think now it might be 40 instead of 50.
I hope these younger ones keep going, and that’s why I say, if you can go to college and maybe not come out here when you’re 15, you might play a little bit longer. Just I hope some of these girls make it to their 30s because I think with their talent and add maturity, these girls could be real good later on.
Q. You said up front that you came here not hitting it that well. What was your fix and when did you find it?
ANGELA STANFORD: Well, I can’t tell you exactly what the fix is because I’m not 100 percent sure it’s fixed. I just tend to start losing it left and get off tempo and rhythm, and that might be a lot of it. I need to keep it up the left side of the golf course.
Q. Were you not very confident of your chances considering that you weren’t comfortable the way you were hitting it coming here?
ANGELA STANFORD: I don’t know. I mean, I think once you get on‑site, and Mike Wright, my instructor, was here early why the week, and he just has an ability to calm me down. We didn’t really talk about my swing a ton when he was here. He just has this way of putting things in perspective.
So the first couple days this week really, I guess that’s where I kind of found most of my confidence.
Q. You mentioned anyone within five shots would probably have a shot. But as it is right now everyone is chasing Inbee. Her game is very, very consistent. Does that make her a little more difficult to chase down or all bets are off because it’s a major?
ANGELA STANFORD: I think somebody like Inbee, you know she’s not going to make a huge mistake. Like you’re saying, the fact that she’s that consistent, you know you have to make birdies to catch her.
But sometimes that’s okay. It’ll be good for me tomorrow to go out and think I need to chase somebody.
Karrie Webb, Rolex Rankings No. 14
Q. 5‑under 67 today, obviously a good moving day for you. Four shots off the lead right now. Just talk about the day and the position you’ve put yourself in.
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, you know, I left myself a little bit of work after the first two days, but putted really nicely today, made the most of the opportunities I gave myself where I didn’t do that the first two days. Hopefully we’ll only at the end of the day be only four shots off, and I have overcome larger deficits at this course before. I’m just glad I gave myself a chance, and if we can get some breeze going tomorrow, I think that’ll make it interesting.
Q. Do you feel any more ‑‑ got any more Sunday heroics in your bag here at Mission Hills?
KARRIE WEBB: I hope I haven’t used them all. It’s been seven years since I used it, so hopefully I’ve got some left.
Q. Just talk about tomorrow. What’s your mentality in terms of obviously you’re going to be four or five shots back. Are you going to have to go after it or sort of figure it out in the first few holes?
KARRIE WEBB: Yeah, I think it’ll depend on the conditions. If they’re pretty benign, not too much breeze, I think I’m going to have a shoot a pretty low one because there’s a lot of great players in there with a chance. We’ll just see. I knew I needed to finish at 5 or 6 once I made the turn, and happy that I did that.
Stacy Lewis, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Q. You’re 1‑under overall?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah.
Q. Just tell me about the day.
STACY LEWIS: It wasn’t very good. I just didn’t really hit it very close and didn’t give myself many birdie opportunities and just kind of struggled all day.
Q. Have you felt any added pressure coming here as No. 1 to sort of perform, and if not, are you feeling like tomorrow maybe you can make a run?
STACY LEWIS: No pressure really. I mean, coming into the week my swing didn’t feel great and I was kind of hoping I would figure things out by now, but I just haven’t. I don’t know, maybe it all comes together today, but I think the weather is perfect today, so I’m probably pretty far back.