Choi wins U.S. Open
July 08, 2012
Na Yeon Choi was just nine-years-old when she watched Se Ri Pak make U.S. Women's Open history at Blackwolf Run in 1998. It was a win that caused a surge of inspiration in young women in South Korean to pursue a career in professional golf. Choi's victory only solidifies that. Today, she stands on the 18th green hoisting the same trophy as her role model lifted just 14 years ago.
Blackwolf Run did not play easy for the LPGA Tour this week, but Choi managed to adapt to the challenges of the 6,984 yard course. Choi made her move on day-three of the 2012 U.S. Women's Open, jumping from four strokes behind the leader following the second round, to leading the field by six strokes heading into the final round. Choi weaved her way around several obstacles on Sunday, but managed to save herself with several impressive putts. Even with a triple-bogey on the 10th hole, Choi managed to keep her lead to finish 8-under and 5-strokes ahead of fellow South Korean, Amy Yang.
With this win, Choi is projected to reclaim second place in the Rolex Women's World Golf Rankings that she held before Stacy Lewis took the spot after the Wegmans LPGA Championship. Choi joins a league of nine fellow South Koreans who have won a women's major championship on the LPGA Tour.
Na Yeon Choi -8, Rolex Rankings No. 5
Amy Yang -3, Rolex Rankings No. 13
Sandra Gal +1, Rolex Rankings No. 39
Suzann Pettersen +4, Rolex Rankings No. 6
Se Ri Pak +4, Rolex Rankings No. 33 and 1998 U.S. Women's Open champion
Lexi Thompson +5, Rolex Rankings No. 23
Michelle Wie +10, Rolex Rankings No. 40
Lydia Ko +12, (a)
Yani Tseng +14, Rolex Rankings No. 1
For complete scores click here
The 24-year-old South Korean elicited memories of Pak's victory with her play on Sunday as she started the day off with a six-stroke lead but had to overcome some bumps along the way. After cruising through the front nine at even-par, Choi ran into trouble on the 10th when she had a triple bogey to cut her lead to two shots. But she grinded her way through a tough stretch and with birdies on three of her next six holes, brought her lead back to five shots. A bogey on the 18th couldn't erase the smile on Choi's face as she celebrated her victory with a shower of champagne from her fellow Koreans, including Pak. The humble Choi bowed to her elder, Pak, at the end of the celebration.
"She said, hey, Na Yeon, I'm really proud of you. You did a really good job, and you was really calm out there. She talked to me a lot. And she was hugging me," Choi said. " That was -- like 14 years ago I was only 10 years old, and like when I was watching TV, my goal was like -- my dream was like I just want to be there. And 14 years later I'm here right now, and I made it. My dreams come true. It's an amazing day today, and like I really appreciate what Se Ri did and all the Korean players, they did. It's really no way I can be here without them."
Choi becomes the fourth South Korean in the last five years to win the U.S. Women's Open, joining Inbee Park (2008), Eun-Hee Ji (2009) and So Yeon Ryu (2011). This is her sixth career victory on the LPGA Tour and her first major championship. Her previous best finish in a major was a T2 at the 2010 U.S. Women's Open at Oakmont.
Choi took up golf while in third grade and she credits her father - Byung Ho Choi - for playing a large role in her golfing career. He owned a gas station in the countryside of South Korea in a small town called O-San. Choi would help pump gas at the full service station and when business was slow, she would practice her wedges by lobbing shots over a 1-meter tall heater that her father would catch with a baseball glove. She also practiced hitting shots into a rice field behind her house and would have to go pick all of them up.
While her parents played a huge part in helping her to make it on the LPGA Tour, Choi made a decision toward the middle of 2009 to ask her parents to go back to Korea so that she could become what she called an "adult" and pursue her golfing career independently. It wasn't an easy decision, considering that she would then have to do everything on her own and do it without the two people who she loves very dearly.
With her parents still in Korea, Choi was by herself for this important victory and she choked up during the trophy presentation when she started speaking about her family. Choi is flying back to Korea on Monday to see her parents and celebrate this special win with the two people who did so much to get her to this point in her career.
"I haven't talked with my parents yet, but I don't know, maybe my mom was crying or my dad was crying. I don't know, but I'm pretty sure they really happy right now," Choi said. " And I'm going to Korea tomorrow, and I love to see my parents in the airport, and I really miss -- actually, I feel really sorry for them, because they are not here right now. But I'm pretty sure they were watching on TV and they couldn't sleep last night, and they supported me a lot. I really appreciate what they did."
After recording a triple bogey on the 10th hole that cut her lead to two shots, Na Yeon Choi bounced back with a birdie on the 11th to get her lead back to three. Choi then sank a 20-foot, par-saving putt on the 12th after finding trouble and got two kind bounces off the rocks on the par-3 13th that kept her from going into the water as she went on to save par.
Choi was a big fan of professional wrestling growing up and used to wrestle with her older brother. She felt that the first person to show tears would be the loser in a fight so she always tried hard not to cry. At 5-foot-5 with a slender stature, Choi has joked that she's much stronger than she looks. So perhaps it's no surprise that one of Choi's favorite quotes comes from legendary boxer, Muhammad Ali. "Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee."
And on this day, she agreed that it was her mental strength to get through that rough stretch which made her a champion.
"That moment maybe I thought I might screw up today, but I thought I needed to fix that. I can do it," Choi said of her thoughts after the triple bogey. "So I tried to think what I have to do. So I decided I have to talk with my caddie. So I started to talk with my caddie about just like what airplane tomorrow, or about the car or about the vacation. Not golf. And then I had a good result on 11. I made a birdie, and I had a good par on 12. After that I got really good vibes from there. And 13 I had a little bit miss to the right, but after two bounce and ball kicked to the left from right side hazard, so I think I pretty good control my emotions today."
For the second straight year, South Koreans captured the top two spots in the U.S. Women's Open. Amy Yang finished in sole possession of second place, shooting a 1-under 71
The finish tied Yang's career-best and it also marks her best finish in a major. Her previous-best finish was a T4 at this year's Kraft Nabisco Championship and a fourth place finish at last year's RICOH Women's British Open.
"I learned a lot," Yang said. "It gives me a lot of confidence that I came in second this week. My game is feeling pretty good and I'm going to keep trying hard."
Sandra Gal delivered her best career performance in a major by finishing third at this week's U.S. Women's Open. But she acknowledged that it was a bit of a struggle during Sunday's final round.
"I just really, really hung in there today," said Gal, who shot 2-over 74. "I didn't hit a lot of greens. I made up-and-down from everywhere and then I was lucky to roll in a few longer putts and I just stuck it out till the end. I had to chip out on 18 and I hit a nice little pitch shot close. That's about how my game was all day."
Gal, who became a Rolex First-Time Winner at last year's Kia Classic, was pleased with the way she was able to play this week. It marks her first top-10 finish in 14 events this year and she credits one change to making a big difference for her this week.
"I think what really turned it around was my putting," Gal said. "I did change putters last week to a Metal X Callaway putter, and I started rolling it really nicely with it and I think that really, really helped me this week."
Se Ri Pak was determined to be in the field for this week's U.S. Women's Open at Blackwolf Run, so determined that she has found a way to battle through a shoulder injury that many believed would keep her off the golf course for months.
Despite suffering a labrum tear in her left shoulder during a fall at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic back in April, Pak found a way to compete again on the course where she captured her most memorable victory - the 1998 U.S. Women's Open. She finished out the week in grand fashion too, shooting a 1-under 71 to jump from T25 into a T9 and record a top-10 finish at a place she has come to love.
"I'm trying to take it easy on it because I really want to be out here this week," Pak said of her shoulder. "So I'm glad I'm here. Of course, I wanted to be at top of the leaderboard. I'm trying to actually do my best, but it's pretty hard. It's very difficult."
Considering how much Pak's victory here in 1998 meant to South Korean golf, it seemed fitting that as Pak was finishing up her round on the 18th hole, Choi was on the adjacent 9th green. The moment was almost a symbolic passing of the torch.
"I'm trying to give her a little look back, but I don't want her to lose her focus, so I'm trying to not give her look," Pak said. "But you know, she's already been there many times. She won five times already, and of course, this is a little different than a regular event, but of course, having a lot of pressure herself, but she's good enough to be out there, hung in there."
For nine holes on Sunday, it looked like Rolex Rankings No.1 Yani Tseng had gotten her game back on track. But then she made the turn and the wheels fell off. After shooting 33 on the front nine of her final round, Tseng posted a 45 on the back to shoot her second straight round of 78.
"It was like some amateur was playing on the Back 9," Tseng said. "But I mean these four days I played nine holes good every day. It was like switch on and off. It was like perfect front 9 and Back 9 was just way off. It was like a totally different person playing golf."
For Tseng, the round of 78 marked the 11th consecutive round where she has failed to break par. It's certainly an uncharacteristic stretch of golf for the world No.1 but while the question "What's wrong with Yani?" is starting to come more frequently, Tseng said she's not too concerned about her game just yet.
"I still feel confidence," Tseng said. "I only play three bad tournaments. I know it's three in a row, but it's not the end of the world. So still have lots of tournaments left, and I have two weeks off the next two weeks, and hopefully I can come back to play well in the Evian Masters."
15-year-old Lydia Ko earned low amateur honors at the U.S. Women's Open, finishing at 12-over-par 300 for the week after shooting a final round 75.
"I guess only three amateurs did make it to the weekend, but everyone out here, they deserve to be out here, and they earned their way here," Ko said. "So I'm honored to get the low amateur prize."
Ko, who is ranked the No. 1 Women's Amateur in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, became the youngest person to ever win a professional golfer event back in February. She won the Bing Lee/Samsung Women's NSW Open on the ALPG at the age of 14. Ko also played in one LPGA Tour event earlier this year, the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open, where she finished in a T19.
Sandra Gal, Ilhee Lee and Giulia Sergas punched their "Ticket to CME Group Titleholders" at the U.S. 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.
NA YEON CHOI, Rolex Rankings No. 5
THE MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, the 2012 United States Women's Open champion, Na Yeon Choi, who finished at 281, 7-under par, becoming the sixth Korean player to win the United States Women's Open in the last 15 years. How good is this to have won this championship?
NA YEON CHOI: You know what, I think I couldn't believe this right now. Maybe tomorrow in Korea I can feel something. But right now it's the same as like usual day.
I just want to say to all the volunteers and fans out there they supported me a lot, so that was helping me a lot and encouraging me.
So I really want to say to all the fans and crowd out there they did a really good job, and one more thing, I think I was very calm out there. And I had a really good patience the last hole. I think I'm pretty proud of myself too.
THE MODERATOR: How did you keep your patience on the 10th hole? How did you remain calm? Out of all the wonderful birdies you had this week, people still want to know what happened on No. 10. First of all, what happened on your tee shot?
NA YEON CHOI: I think my swing was a little quick, so my ball started to the little bit left. And then the wind from off right-to-left, so ball moved to the left. And then my ball carry over the hazard left side. So I had one hazard and I got a couple of missed shots, and I had the triple bogey on 10.
That moment maybe I thought I might screw up today, but I thought I needed to fix that. I can do it. So I tried to think what I have to do. So my decide is I have to talk with my caddie. So I started to talk with my caddie about just like what airplane tomorrow, or about the car or about the vacation.
THE MODERATOR: Anything but golf.
NA YEON CHOI: Without golf. Not golf. And then I had a good result on 11. I made a birdie, and I had a good par on 12. After that I got really good vibes from there. And 13 I had a little bit miss to the right, but after two bounce and ball kicked to the left from right side hazard, so I think I pretty good control my emotions today.
THE MODERATOR: Was there any point where you felt that this was your championship? Was there some point out there where you believed that you had won it?
NA YEON CHOI: I'm sorry. I couldn't understand.
THE MODERATOR: Was there a particular time or one hole where you felt like I have won?
NA YEON CHOI: Actually, when I had birdie on 15 I thought I might be a winner this week. But on 17, after tee shot, my caddie said to me you can watch the leaderboard right now. And before that I didn't watch leaderboard at all today.
Q. What has Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott meant for your career? Your coaches, Pia Nilsson and Lynn Mariott, how important have they been for your career?
NA YEON CHOI: They always gave me good advice about really small goal. They said I need to have a small goal every day. And last night they text me. They were watching on TV, and they say like you did a good job on third round, but you have to play one more round. So it's not done. So they said sometime you have to forget good day too. Sometimes you have to forget bad happen or bad result or bad day. But sometimes you have to forget good day too.
And on Sunday will be another just new day. So just do what you can do and just focus on your game and have some small goal before you tee off, and just warm up. And warmup is just warmup. Don't judge or compare about the swing.
So when I read that text message, I had a really good feeling from them, and I have a really good confidence.
THE MODERATOR: Did you try to do the things they told you to do?
NA YEON CHOI: Yes. Actually, my swing coach flew here last night from Orlando, and then he was here, that really helped me today. And then sometime I had a really serious warmup, but this week I never had the serious warmup. And even today the warmup was just warmup.
And I stretched my body and just hit a couple of shots and I talked to my caddie about what you did last night, and I talked to my swing coach about just like without golf things.
So I had a really good warmup today, and then I had a bogey on the first hole, but I still had a good feeling about my swing and game. So I think the confidence make good results today.
Q. You mentioned distracting yourself, speaking with your caddie after the 8 on 10. Is that part of your mental routine? Or do you have a mental routine for when you have a bad hole?
NA YEON CHOI: Yes, I have a mental coach. And they always say golf is five or six hours of sport. But I have to do only ten minute focus on game. The shot -- when I hit the shot, it only takes like five seconds or seven seconds. And after shot, during the walk to the next shot, I have to switch off for my mental.
So I just tried to talking with some fun thing or not golf or like some food, anything. I can talk with my caddie. And then when I go to the second shot area, I just turn on switch, switch on my turn on, and maybe focus like 100% coming, and then just switch off.
THE MODERATOR: Now everyone in the world will be doing that.
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah.
Q. Can you take us through your tee shot? I think it was 13, you get not one, but two lucky bounces on those rocks next to the water. Did you think you had the second lucky bounce?
NA YEON CHOI: I mean, I thought my ball going to -- went to hazard. When I hit impact, I thought the ball was going to be start right. And then the wind doesn't help for my ball to the left. Might got hazard. After the first bounce, even after the first bounce, I didn't know that. But after the second bounce it was kicked to the left. And I had a good second shot area.
So when I had that happen, I look at my caddie, and all the winners have won the tournament, they had a little bit of luck. So I thought maybe today I had luck from that tee shot, and then that's why I can win today.
Q. It looked like Se Ri Pak was on the 18th green and she might have even had a bottle of champagne to spray you with. How meaningful was that moment to you to have her there for that?
NA YEON CHOI: That was really appreciated what she did. And she say like -- she say, hey, Na Yeon, I'm really proud of you. You did a really good job, and you was really calm out there. She talked to me a lot. And she was hugging me.
That was -- like 14 years ago I was only nine years old, and like when I was watching TV, my goal was like -- my dream was like I just want to be there. And 14 years later I'm here right now, and I made it. My dreams come true. It's an amazing day today, and like I really appreciate what Se Ri did and all the Korean players, they did. It's really no way like I can be here without them.
Q. Have you had a chance to talk to your parents yet?
NA YEON CHOI: Not yet.
Q. Can you tell us about the shot on No. 12? What was that lie like, and did you consider taking a drop for an unplayable lie?
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah. You're talking about third shot, right?
NA YEON CHOI: I had a pretty bad lie on 12. I almost thought like take an unplayable, but even if I take unplayable, it might get bad lie again. So me and my caddie, we decided we have to hit it hard and just get out from there, even doesn't matter over the green or short of the green, doesn't matter. We have to hit very hard from there. So I just tried to hit very hard, and then I didn't expect my ball finish on the green. But there was a very surprising me. I just hit it hard and I just think about impact, but it kicked to the right and stopped very well. So I had really good par over there.
THE MODERATOR: That was a world-class par. That really was. And it had a lot to do with you keeping your momentum going. I heard at one point your caddie said, okay, we're going to drop it.
NA YEON CHOI: Uh-huh.
THE MODERATOR: And he was pretty definite about it. But it seems from you telling your parents you wanted to live on your own and the way you handled playing your own game today that you have become a more independent person, making your own decisions and not letting your caddie make all the decisions.
NA YEON CHOI: I don't know. That moment just I had confidence about that shot. That's why I just trust my decision, and I just trust that decision and I hit, you know, hit the shot and I have good result. That's why I got like double extra confidence from that.
THE MODERATOR: That was some par.
Q. Can you comment on how much you enjoyed the course or how difficult it was or how scenic it was? What were your thoughts about Blackwolf Run?
NA YEON CHOI: I think the course is pretty long and difficult. Yesterday and today it was getting firmer fairway and greens. So we have to ball landing exactly what we want. If not, we had -- we might get like trouble.
But like I think trust is a big thing. I just trust when my caddie gave me the number, and I just trust my swing and I just hit my swing, and then even good result -- like even I had a bad result, I never judged about that. I just do to the next shot, think about next shot, and just do my best every shot.
The course is pretty hard, but if I trust myself and I think always good results follow.
Q. You said yesterday that you still remember that feeling when you were watching Se Ri win back in 1998. How does that feeling compare to the feeling when you got to kiss the trophy today after you won?
NA YEON CHOI: I would like to say to myself I did a really good job today. Maybe like after No. 10 hole, I might get screw up myself, if I keep angry or frustrating. But I thought I need to fix that, so I was starting talk with my caddie. I asked him when are you going back to home or that kind. And then he tried to speak very confidently. He said, Na Yeon, just forget that 10th hole. We can do it. Just think about future, not past. Past is already past. So just think about future, and then we can do it. Then we started talking about some fun things. And that makes me feel a lot better.
I had a birdie on 11, and he said you know, see, you can do it. He gave me a lot of confidence. So I really thankful what he did on the course.
THE MODERATOR: You birdied No. 11 every day. Has to be a favorite hole.
NA YEON CHOI: Oh, I didn't know that, but it might be the favorite hole.
Q. I noticed you said before you enjoyed Tae Kwon Do. Do you do that? Or do you practice that or did you grow up doing that?
NA YEON CHOI: Before I started golf, yes, I was playing Tae Kwon Do. I went to Tae Kwon Do academy every day with my brother. I had a coach in there and he really want to make me like professional Tae Kwon Do fighter, but my father say you can't do this. She's going to play golf. When I started golf, I just quit the Tae Kwon Do.
Q. I know you've been asked a lot over the years about Korean players winning a lot, but this tournament in particular Koreans have kind of dominated in the last five years. Why do you think your compatriots do so well at the U.S. Women's Open?
NA YEON CHOI: I don't know. We just do -- practice hard and working hard and like -- especially this week, the good memory, special memory gave me good confidence, like when I was young, when I watched Se Ri playing, I remember everything. I remember what she -- how she playing on the course.
When I came to here on Monday, I just -- I think that feeling through my head or through my heart, something remind how I started playing golf. So I just reminded what is my goal or what I can do. That special memories or special feeling makes me strong or think about basic things.
So like this week I didn't expect I can win this week. On Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, I had no idea. I just do my best every hole, and even after second round, I didn't expect how I playing this week or I want to win this week. But after yesterday -- after third round, I thought like you know I might can win this week but I'm not going to try hard. Just do my best and keep the feeling when I was nine years old. I just want to -- I really wish like 14 years later from now some junior golfer or some young Korean golfer say I watching on TV how Na Yeon playing 14 years ago and that was really inspire me. That's all I want, really.
Q. Do you think Korean players outwork the rest of the world? Do you think Korean players work harder than the rest of the world?
NA YEON CHOI: I think -- I can say like this. I think American parents or American people like to compliment. But Korean people like Korean parents sometimes talking too much or teaching too much, but I think Korean people get motivated from other people. Like we got some motivate, and we can bounce up more higher like for Korean players.
So I think that was a little bit different Korean culture and American culture.
Q. What do you think about your parents now?
NA YEON CHOI: I haven't talked with my parents yet, but I don't know, maybe my mom was crying or my dad was crying. I don't know, but I'm pretty sure they really happy right now. And I'm going to Korea tomorrow, and I love to see my parents in the airport, and I really miss -- actually, I feel really sorry for them, because they are not here right now. But I'm pretty sure they were watching on TV and they couldn't sleep last night, and they supported me a lot. I really appreciate what they did.
THE MODERATOR: And you can take that with you.
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah.
Q. Can you tell us what you were thinking coming up the 18th fairway with a five-stroke lead?
NA YEON CHOI: Well --
Q. What are you thinking as you come up to the last green?
NA YEON CHOI: I'll tell you the truth. I think a lot of people know I don't have any ceremony after a win. Like some player has like this or upper cut or that kind. (Gesturing) But I don't have any ceremony, so I was thinking what I have to do after I made the putt.
I mean, I think I was pretty nervous out there, so after I made the putt, I couldn't do anything. I just -- I was very happy, but I couldn't do this thing. I don't have confidence that -- that's not my personality, I think.
THE MODERATOR: That's not you. You were being yourself.
Q. Tell us about your future plans.
NA YEON CHOI: I'm going to Korea tomorrow, and then I have one week of in Korea, and I may play one JLPGA tournament. And then I'm going to Evian. And then I'm going to London and I want to watch some Olympic Games in London. So I have a couple of days vacation in London. So I'm going to London, and then I might come back to Orlando maybe, August 2nd. And then I try to prepare for Jamie Farr tournament, what I won two years ago.
Q. You talked about having a lot of small goals. Is your long-term goal to be the No. 1 world-ranked player? Is that something you think about? Or is that something important to you?
NA YEON CHOI: You mean my goal?
NA YEON CHOI: Actually, my final goal maybe it will be final goal. My final goal is like I want to play Olympic 2016 and get some medal under the Korean flag. That is my biggest goal right now. I mean, I can be like No. 1 in the world or Player of the Year, but my biggest dream is playing Olympic 2016 and I want to get some medal from there. That's why I want to go to Olympic this year and see what's the feeling in there. I want to just feeling that.
Q. You mentioned your parents not being here. How long have you lived independently by yourself? And was that an important step for you to kind of grow as a person?
NA YEON CHOI: I had won 2009 from Samsung World Championship. Before that 2009, I think maybe it was in June, I told my parents I want to be more independent. I want you guys to go back to Korea and go there and relax and support me from there. And then that moment actually they were mad, and my mom was crying, because they did very hard working for me up to now. But I said I think I need to be more independent. I can learn something from independence.
And then they left, and I was traveling by myself. And then after four weeks later, I won the Samsung Tournament and my mom and dad called me, like I knew you could do it. So look mom and dad, I really learned a lot of things from independence. I know what I have to do. I still practice hard and working hard. So like please trust me, and then when you were in Korea and support me, that was really helping me about my emotion.
So after that moment, they live in Korea right now, until right now, and so that's why they are not here right now.
Q. As you mentioned about your caddie help you so much, can we have his name? And when did he start to help you?
NA YEON CHOI: My caddie name is Shane Joel. He worked for Mark O'Meara, PGA TOUR, Championship Tour. I think they worked like last seven years. And then this week is only the second week working with him.
THE MODERATOR: Your second week with him?
NA YEON CHOI: Yes. Last week we started together. And this week is the second week working with him.
Q. I wanted to ask you about a small incident on the 15th hole where you and Amy were sharing the same umbrella as you were walking down the fairway. That may seem like a small thing, but it was a nice show of sportsmanship. I wonder if that's common in Korea? Are you guys just close friends? What would you say about that?
NA YEON CHOI: We were talking about my little puppy, because she saw my picture on the yardage book.
THE MODERATOR: Gigi?
NA YEON CHOI: And she wanted to buy some dog too in Orlando. So she asked me about what kind of dog you have and how old is he. That kind.
THE MODERATOR: And he wanted to know are you close friends?
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah. I met her almost like ten years ago. We grew up together in Korea. Then she went to Australia for I think high school. So I haven't seen her like a couple of years, but I met him -- I met her again in the LPGA tour. So we are good friends and she's really nice. And we live in Orlando together -- I mean, same -- like close area. So sometime we can practice together or practice round together.
THE MODERATOR: And he also mentioned are the Korean players close to each other as friends?
NA YEON CHOI: I think so. Especially around my age has a lot of golfers on the LPGA Tour. Like Inbee Park, Jiyai Shin, Song-Hee Kim, I.K. Kim, the same as me. We grew up together and we were on the same national team when we were young. I think we're pretty close to each other.
THE MODERATOR: I'm amused when you say "when we were young." You're only 24.
Q. You said it meant a lot to you to work hard on your English. How hard was that and why is that important to you?
NA YEON CHOI: After I won the Vare Trophy 2010 and I finished No. 1 on the Money List, after that year I felt not many people know about me, especially American fans and American media. Then I talked to my dad, I might need to English study, study English. He said, do whatever you want.
So I say, okay, I'm going to find an English tutor, and then I'm going to travel with him a whole year. And I found a good teacher, and I was traveling with him last whole year. And even when we had the dinner or when we had breakfast, I was talking English with him.
So I think that helped me a lot for improving my English. And then even yesterday I did a live interview after play. And then my English tutor texted me, I watched it on TV, and then he gave me a lot of compliment. And that makes me confident to speak English.
So I think I need to keep studying English, but right now I am really happy to I can speak with the American people.
THE MODERATOR: We're very happy you can speak to us too. And you speak so very well. Na Yeon Choi, whose favorite sports phrase is "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee." And you did that today. Congratulations
AMY YANG, Rolex Rankings No. 13
Q. Just talk us through your round a little bit. Just give us a recap.
AMY YANG: You know, I think I had good round today. 1-under par. It was very tough out there. I tried my best. Yeah, it was a fun day.
Q. And how was it out there playing? You know, the crowds were a little bit bigger today. How was it out there?
AMY YANG: Very exciting to play in a lot of people.
Q. 14 years after Se Ri won here to have Korean players finish first and second, what does that mean to you?
AMY YANG: You know, could you rephrase it, please.
Q. Yeah. Is it kind of a special moment that a Korean player finished first and second 14 years after Se Ri won here?
AMY YANG: Yeah, it is. It is very special and very -- it's -- yeah.
Q. You got within a couple of shots. You had a small window there to get close, but then she just kind of pulled away from you.
AMY YANG: I knew she was going to play well. She's very consistent player.
Q. What are you going to take away from this week? You played in the last group? Just what are you going to take away from it?
AMY YANG: Well, I learned a lot. It gives me a lot of confidence that I came in second this week. My game is feeling pretty good and I'm going to keep trying hard.
Q. Is there some pride in it that the U.S. Open Championship goes back to Korea again? Is there some country pride in that, I guess?
AMY YANG: I guess.
Q. I guess you would have thought it would have been you; right, instead of Na Yeon Choi up there? You would have rather seen yourself up there rather than Na Yeon, correct? But is it still good that it's going back to Korea?
AMY YANG: Yeah. Yeah. I think so. Yeah.
SANDRA GAL, Rolex Rankings No. 39
SANDRA GAL: You know, I just really, really hung in there today. I didn't hit a lot of greens. I made up-and-down from everywhere and then I was lucky to roll in a few longer putts and I just stuck it out till the end. I had to chip out on 18 and I hit a nice little pitch shot close. That's about how my game was all day
Q. Probably going to be the best finish in at Open. What do you take away from it? Maybe did you snag like a key or something this week?
SANDRA GAL: Yeah. Well, I think just leading up to this event my game started to get a lot better and more solid, and I think the key to it -- I'll probably keep that to myself. I think it's just less thinking and more playing and really enjoying out there.
Q. When you're playing well, what's going well?
SANDRA GAL: My putting. I think what really turned it around was my putting. I did change putters last week to a Metal X Callaway putter, and I started rolling it really nicely with it and I think that really, really helped me this week.
Q. How do you play at a major at a tournament like this where Na Yeon had such a big lead? What's your thought going into the final round of a situation like that?
SANDRA GAL: I mean it was a bit frustrating because it was hard to catch up with her unless she had a really bad day, which I'm not hoping for anyone. On this golf course once you're six shots behind, it's hard to make it up. So basically it was just a battle for second or third.
SE RI PAK, Rolex Rankings No. 33 and 1998 U.S. Women's Open champion
Q. When you were finishing up, Choi was on the 9th green. It was sort of like you were right together at that particular moment. You were finishing up on the 18th green?
SE RI PAK: I saw that, yes.
Q. Was that sort of symbolic? Was that passing the torch to her?
SE RI PAK: Well, I know she's focused, and I'm trying to give her a little look back, but I don't want her to lose her focus, so I'm trying to not give her look. But you know, she's already been there many times. She won five times already, and of course, this is a little different than a regular event, but of course, having a lot of pressure herself, but she's good enough to be out there, hung in there. I know she have a little trouble on No. 10, but still many holes to go. She'll be okay.
Q. At the same time you have to be fair to your fellow countryman, Amy Yang, who is chasing her?
SE RI PAK: Yes. Like last year a couple of Koreans went into playoff. Again, they play together last round. I'm really happy to see that. I'm very proud of both of them, no matter what happened. Of course they are coming to one of these champions. They are still young, very young age and many career to go, and they will already having great success. So no doubt.
After this week they will have great experience and helping their future. So as I said, just really exciting to watch it, because back 14 years ago, of course, nobody here from my country, which feel like really alone, but now, I feel really good.
Q. How did the shoulder hold up and how did the course play different this time than '98?
SE RI PAK: Well, my shoulder right now been -- it wasn't much cause problem, but still after injury, I still weak, my shoulder. Still have work to do. I'm trying to take it easy on it because I really want to be out here this week. So I'm glad I'm here. Of course, I wanted to be at top of the leaderboard. I'm trying to actually do my best, but it's pretty hard. It's very difficult.
But compared to '98 and this year it's a little different. I'd say more for giving, but still difficult. I wouldn't say easier. Fairways is wider, firmer, longer. Especially wind, harder. Back in '98 you it seemed more tight, firm, same thing, wind. But this course is a little different. But this golf course by itself is already hard enough to be out there to shoot low numbers.
But this year, you know, of course, back then here all this make everything a lot better. Players actually are taking care of themselves really well. But as I said, the meadow is a great golf course. I really, really enjoy it.
Q. Do you remember when you finished second to Na Yeon on the Korean LPGA when she was still an amateur player?
SE RI PAK: How do you know that?
Q. I did some research.
SE RI PAK: Yeah, yeah.
Q. Did you see anything special in her way back then? That was like seven or eight years ago even?
SE RI PAK: Actually I saw her first time ever, she was an amateur, yes. And I think she's already having great season going on, and I heard about it a little bit, and actually I played with her once that week, but I saw her when she play. I mean she have, yeah, she have a great solid swing and she have great tempo, and she's a really calm player. She's not really up and down. She always was a consistent player. So I know she was going to be really, really good, and after a couple years later she turn pro and I see her here, yes, my theory is yes, I'm right. She's really good.
As I said, you can't see all Korean players from young age. They're here. They won many times. But they really work at it and at the same time right now they're really smart. They know how to take care of themselves and how to traveling, keep company, keep work, rest. So they're really proud. I'm just really happy to see them all.
Q. Given everything you've been through, are you very happy with how you played this week and how you finished?
SE RI PAK: Yes. First of all, because I'm playing this week, because as I said, I got injure my shoulder. I wasn't sure I can able to play. But I'm here and play no problem. That's the biggest.
And second, yes. Of course a little bit disappointed for yesterday, last round, but I'm still finish okay. I'm happy about that, and of course, my game has come close. Actually I'm happy to play again. And then as I said, biggest this week, as I said, back 14 years and after 14 years later I'm here again. So that's biggest grateful this week.
Q. When was Na Yeon recognized in Korea? I think she's top-rated amongst the Korean players, but she hadn't won a major. Others have. So how well is she recognized?
SE RI PAK: She already won five times here. So of course, now in my country they -- actually it's really popular sport right now, golf. So many people -- I mean back in '98 to now you can see the people more recognize players, every player actually. So that makes a difference. So she's really great fame for young age. Everybody loves her and she have such a great smile, so yeah, she's really famous.
Q. Despite all the majors that have been won by your fellow countrymen, would this one have more significance because it was your victory here 14 years ago that started it all?
SE RI PAK: Back in '98. Yes, yes. As I said, back then, '98, our country golf is different sport. They think it was a little different. But now you can see it's just really popular. People love it. Now with so many kids playing, families playing. Everything, such huge difference because of '98, yes. Huge impact in '98 at this place. So I think as I said, this is probably the biggest moment for my country and now.
Q. Is it fitting, then, that it looks like another Korean is going to win at Blackwolf Run?
SE RI PAK: Oh, yes. I mean as I said, I'm just really happy to see what happened. They probably watching on TV in '98. They probably, what, ten years, nine years, yeah. I wasn't that old. Anyway. But yeah, they were watching TV back then, and they didn't know what's going on in golf. And after, you know, I won the U. S. Open they're watching this moment here and they know what is golf and they think of their dreams, and then junior come Tom play the LPGA and now they're about to win a major. It wasn't open for everybody. Young players have such a great experience, especially this week. This is probably the most memorable for everybody. Everybody probably dreams about winning the U. S. Open.
I mean of course all major, yes, everybody wants it. But particularly U. S. Open is really champion of champions, I think.
Q. Tell me about what was going through your mind on the last hole, the 18th. You were just about to finish up your Open here.
SE RI PAK: When I was in the water. I think I love water here, 18. I'm in the water again. I never thought it was going to go in the water, but I guess this is my hole, I guess. I have to list all the days I put it in the water. That would be great.
Of course, the golf is just like that, you know. Just pretty silly game and fun game. Of course, I don't want the finish to be that way, but nothing you can do, right.
Q. 14 years having come back after having won the Open here, was there anything that you were just sort of going through your mind as you were about to wrap up your second Women's Open here at Blackwolf Run?
SE RI PAK: First place I never really thought about coming back again here because this is my -- 14 years later. I never play exactly same golf course ever we play. This is probably the second, and this is the event I am actually born in as top player.
So you know, as I said, that's why I'm having really the point I have -- the moment I have shoulder injury, it's really disappoint me really, most of the time. It's not because I have to off season. It's just because I can't be here. That much it really means to me a lot. But as I said, I was wishing I was competing one more time. But as I said, it's more than winning. This is probably more than winning I'm here.
As I said, it was such a great week and a great place, and this is probably the most ever in my life spend time here two times. That's probably the best week ever.
Q. Will you stay around for the end?
SE RI PAK: Probably. We'll see. Yes.
SUZANN PETTERSEN, Rolex Rankings No. 6
Q. Tougher conditions today versus the first three rounds. Was it what you expected from the final round of the U.S. Open?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I think the conditions today were pretty good. It doesn't get much better. Hardly any wind. The course was really receptive. I don't think it ever got as hard as it was the last time the U.S. Open was here. We just talked about it. I played pretty awful today and just hit my irons pretty bad. If your game is on, you can shoot under par, and that's pretty good in a U.S. Open.
Very disappointing weekend for me, 9-over par. But hung in there. It's easy to let it totally slip away when it starts slipping gradually, but yeah.
Q. You were one of the only golfers early on in the tournament that was kind of not worrying about the course and all the talk about the course is so hard. You seemed really, really confident. Was it just basically your play over the last two rounds and the course was just the course and you were fine with it the whole way through?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I still don't think the course is that hard. If you hit good golf shots, it's receptive. The fairways are fairly firm, so distance-wise it's not that bad. The holes I thought were going to be really long didn't really play long. They played 12 up pretty much every day. Today they played it back. I think I had a 6-iron or something to the pin. Not really that long. And even 3 turned out being fairly reasonable. The wind was never really that hard into you and at least we had an iron into the green.
So overall I think the course is not that intimidating as a lot of other U.S. Open courses that I've played has been.
Q. What do you take, if anything, out of this week?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: What do I take? It was a good start. Obviously I could have asked for a better two rounds. Yesterday was the toughest day. Yesterday was about survival. Not kind of putting yourself too far out of it. I was a bit too far out of it and made a terrible second shot on 5 today, which kind of killed the momentum of trying to do something special. So wasn't too many birdies today.
Q. What are your plans for the next few weeks, tournaments coming up?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: We have -- we're all going to Europe in a couple of weeks, so I'm headed back to Norway for a couple of weeks of practice and see some friends and family, and then it's time to work again.
Q. What's the best part about being back in Norway as opposed to being in the States? Is there something that you really miss when you are gone?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: There's certain foods. Summers in Norway are usually pretty good. But I guess it's the mid 70s on a good day. It hasn't really been that close the last month. But it's just nice to get away from the every day life, I would say. Come up against an old environment. See friends and family and just hang out.
Q. What did you think of the area, Kohler, the town, the people, the spectators?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, the hotel was fantastic. Other than that, I was in Sheboygan one time. I thought it was a ghost town, to be honest. There was no one there and you don't see anybody on the street. Pretty dead. A lot of nice people, though. It's been a great reception here at the course. Been a lot of people, a lot of fans, even though it was really hot early on.
But it's a nice place to kind of get away and collect your thoughts and get some energy, but I don't think you are here to -- it's not the party town.
Q. Your best day this week was the day you over slept. Are you going to make a habit of that?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: No. But I mean I still had my time. I just had to cut everything short. It was an overall decent week, very disappointing weekend for me. Game really didn't stick around, as I was hoping it would be. Didn't really putt that well on the weekend either, so that kind of helps you to put a good score together.
LEXI THOMPSON, Rolex Rankings No. 23
Q. Can you tell us how you struggled specifically?
LEXI THOMPSON: I pretty much had two bad holes that got me in trouble with a double. Usually messes up your round. Other than that it was all right.
Q. Talk about the conditions, being a final round. Were they tougher than you've seen the first few days?
LEXI THOMPSON: It wasn't windy at all. A lot harder pin places, tucking in your corners and water.
Q. Overall, are you happy with the way you played this week?
LEXI THOMPSON:: Yeah, I am. Just I just had a few bad holes. Got me in trouble. But overall, I was really pleased with my ball striking, and my putting is a lot better.
Q. Talk about the Women's Open experience here specifically at Blackwolf Run and Kohler and the fans??
LEXI THOMPSON: It was great. Even in the practice rounds the fans were great. The course was in amazing shape. It was so pure. I was really happy to be here and it was an amazing experience like every Open is.
Q. We talked to you yesterday about trying to catch Na Yeon. She had one little misstep today. In retrospect was it pretty hard to believe somebody was going to catch her the way she played?
LEXI THOMPSON: Usually when you play that good on a Saturday it gives you a lead on everybody. She's a great player and I would say deserves it. I just tried my best and didn't end up doing as well as I wanted to.
Q. Would this major mean more to you than any other if you were able to get that one? It seems to be the consensus this, among all majors, is the top one. Do you feel the same way?
LEXI THOMPSON: Yeah, I would say the U.S. Open is probably the biggest major and definitely the most honor if you win it.
MICHELLE WIE, Rolex Rankings No. 40
Q. So just walk us through your round today. How did it go out there?
MICHELLE WIE: It was one of the most frustrating rounds for me. I hit a lot of missed shots today. Just the long game, didn't feel comfortable for me out there, and I hit every putt really good and every putt looked like they were going to go in which didn't go in. It was a very frustrating round overall. But at the same time I still had a lot of fun playing today and it was a great U. S. Open experience, and I'm really looking forward to the next tournament.
Q. Tell us about the experience this week. What's it been like here with the crowds in Wisconsin?
MICHELLE WIE: It's been great, a really great overall experience in Kohler. The fans were awesome, just very respectful and very cheering us on. It felt really good. I can't wait -- I hope there's another opportunity for us to come back here because I would really love it.
Q. Such a big deficit for everybody to overcome. Is it easy to get out there and press too much and cause you to hit bad shots?
MICHELLE WIE: I just didn't feel comfortable today with my long game. On this golf course it's tough. You have to hit good shots in there, which I didn't today. You know, it just makes for a very long round.
Q. What will you take out of this tournament with you? Do you just kind of eliminate the bad and remember what went so well for you in the record-setting round you had for the one day? Or do you just kind of take all of it and try to learn from it?
MICHELLE WIE: I'm going to take all of it and learn from it. Obviously there was a lot of positives this week that I will take on. There are some things I need to work on, but at the same time this week was a definite confidence-booster for me. Being in contention again, it didn't work out for me today but just being up there? Contention for me kind of got my juices flowing and kind of made me want it more and felt like what it was like again. So I'm really looking forward to the next tournament and there's a lot of positives to take from this week and a lot of things I'm definitely going to learn from.
Q. Where are you headed next?
MICHELLE WIE: Evian is my next tournament. I'll have a nice two-week break. I think I'm going to need a little break after this week.
Q. The way the course has been playing, is it that much more impressive the way Choi has been able to keep it going?
MICHELLE WIE: Exactly, yeah. Like I said yesterday, her 65 was amazing. My course record lasted a whole 24 hours.
So you know, she's doing really well and I'm rooting for her.
YANI TSENG, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Q. So a rough Back 9, huh?
YANI TSENG: Yeah. It was like some amateur was playing on the Back 9. But I mean these four days I played nine holes good, played good nine holes every day. It was like switch on and off. It was like perfect front 9 and Back 9 was just way off. It was like a totally different person playing golf.
Even yesterday, too, I had a bad front 9 and a good Back 9. So it was like every day I been nine hole perfect. So I just need to figure out just continue to play 18 holes, good holes instead of just nine.
I feel my game is there. I mean today the front 9 I was very confident at 3-under front 9. Shot like 9-over the Back 9.
But I still feel confidence. I only play three tournaments. I know it's three in a row, but it's not the end of the world. So still have lots of tournaments left, and I have two weeks off the next two weeks, and hopefully I can come back to play well in the Evian.
Q. It's not even the same nine, that the front 9 is tough and the back 9 is easy. It's just different 9s for you each day?
YANI TSENG: It's about a mental game. When you get everything going and it's very easy to make a putt, hit shots, but when you have a couple bad holes, couple bad shots, it's really hard to continue playing well.
So I mean on the Back 9 I feel confidence when I stand there, but just couldn't hit it straight, couldn't hit it close to the pin, and got a bad luck with a bounce, and everything kind of just goes pretty bad.
Q. Was there a consistent miss? Like did you all of a sudden start missing everything left or was it just kind of both ways?
YANI TSENG: Both ways. Pretty consistently both ways. Like one left, one right. But sometimes I think it was a little luck, too, and I just need to be more committed to play really one shot at a time, because on the front nine I make -- I had bogey on No. 8, but when I step on the No. 9, I even don't know I make bogey on No. 8. That's how I play before, but like on the Back 9 I know exactly I had a double also, and try to make birdie this hole and then getting worse every hole.
Q. Are you going to stick around to see if Na Yeon can finish this out?
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I'm going to stay here. I booked my flight tomorrow because I thought I would be here tonight. But it just didn't go the way I wanted, but yeah, I will look around and watch a little golf on this great golf course and see how they play.
Q. If she can finish it out, what do you think that would mean, at least for you as a friend of hers?
YANI TSENG: Yeah. I'm very happy for her because it means a lot for her because a Korean won 14 years ago and Se Ri and now it's Na Yeon. So I hear her coach is coming down to watch, too. So it's going to be good for her.
Q. Are you surprised it's taken her this long to win a major if she does it today?
YANI TSENG: Not really. A major you need to play well but sometimes you need a little luck, too. There is always major pressure. All the major you don't know who is going to win. There is also come up a special name like you never heard about it. So you need to play one week perfectly to win in this week, and hang in there and be patient is the most important things.
LYDIA KO (a)
Q. Tough finish out there. You were 3-under through 15. Just a couple of bad swings coming in?
LYDIA KO: Yeah. It's a few pulls. I pulled my third shot on 16 and then pulled my first shot, my drive on 18, and then pulled my third shot.
So yeah, maybe energy, but yes. It's not going everywhere. Just a few pulls.
Q. Obviously happy, you were thinking about low amateurs when it came down to 18. Did you know what you needed to do to get in the house to get in?
LYDIA KO: No. My head was pretty full already then, and yeah, it was kind of disappointing the last three holes.Yeah, I wasn't thinking too much about it, and trying to concentrate.
Q. Lydia, your round yesterday was the highest you had had in the tournament. How much did you want to come back today and then finish the tournament on a better note?
LYDIA KO: Today my goal was to shoot under par, and I definitely thought it was possible, especially until 15.
Yeah, it was just a couple of bad holes and a couple of bad shots. Not a whole bad round.
Yeah, yesterday was a bit disappointing, too, but most of my round today was pretty good.
Q. Being low amateur is an honor. I know you struggled at the finish, but you did it. What sort of satisfaction do you have out of having accomplished that?
LYDIA KO: You know, I guess only three amateurs did make it to the weekend, but everyone out here, they deserve to be out here, and they earned their way here. So I'm honored to get the low winner prize.
Q. Do you feel like you were justified -- you're the top ranked amateur in the world right now. You come here as a 15-year-old. You obviously proved yourself that you're deserving of that lofty status. Do you feel like you've proved that this week?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, I think so. Definitely there were a few points where I could have improved, but there were good putts in the way, and I got good experience out here, and I was able to play with Stacy Lewis, Hee Young Park, and so it was really good, and I just enjoyed being out here and being able to play the tournament itself was really good.
Q. Can you talk a little bit more about that? You said coming in you weren't thinking about winning. You just wanted to have fun and enjoy the experience. How much did that help you this week as you played?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, like if I play a national amateur or like the U.S. Amateur, you know, that's where all the amateurs are, and I think that's where I get a bit more pressure, and that's where I really want to win. And obviously if I did win, I wouldn't say no to it. But I mean, yes, I think it took a bit of pressure off me, and one of my goals was to become low amateur, and I accomplished that.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about how you worked with and if you've stayed in touch with them all week or if they've been here with you?
LYDIA KO: You know, just my mom is here, and before I came here, I trained a lot with my coach, Guy Wilson, who is here, and also with my dad and the team back at Institute of Golf, and also NZ Zone Golf as well for the Srixon Academy.
Q. Where do you plan to play after this tournament?
LYDIA KO: I was thinking maybe the U. S. juniors or something. I'll be around the U. S. for a while. And hopefully playing a few more events.
Q. What will you take away from this week?
LYDIA KO: I think, you know, like playing different kind of shots, and managing like stress and coping with stress.
I think it's in probably pretty good condition out here and it's hard to get these every single round you play. Yeah, and also just the experience playing with a purse.
Q. This is your second go around here. Do you feel like you're getting comfortable playing over here, the conditions are a little different, the depth of the fields are a little different?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, I think so. Definitely there's more competition in the States than New Zealand. There are great players in New Zealand, but there are many more here.
And yeah, it's always fun to play here, but it's quite hard because it's the winter season back in New Zealand and we're coming straight here where it's dry, hot and humid, so it's the exact opposite, but I guess I have to cope with that and manage that to play well.