Golf Today - Over 80000 pages of golf information
Golf News
 

Bae and Baek leading crammed leaderboard
October 18, 2014

Interviews:
Rolex Rankings No. 33 Kyu Jung Baek (-5)
Rolex Rankings No. 105 Hee-Kyung Bae (-5)
Rolex Rankings No. 2 Inbee Park (-4)
Rolex Rankings No. 4 Suzann Pettersen (-4)
Rolex Rankings No. 24 Brittany Lincicome (-4)

A pair of KLPGA players sits atop the leaderboard after three rounds at the LPGA KEB-HanaBank Championship. Kyu Jung Baek and Hee-Kyung Bae are at 5-under par and both shot 4-under 68 in the third round at SKY72 Golf Club. They lead a crammed leaderboard that has 18 players within three shots of the lead. Ten players are in a tie for third and sit just one shot back and includes world No. 2 Inbee Park, two-time winner of the event Suzann Pettersen and major champion Brittany Lincicome. Americans Cristie Kerr and Michelle Wie are amongst a group of five in a tie for 13th and are two shots off the lead.

Baek, who is making her first LPGA Tour start in her career, had six birdies and two bogeys in her round on Saturday. She said her putter has been the key all week and needed just 25 putts on Saturday.

“I think my putting was strong today and my shot was relatively weaker compared to my putting. But I think I was able to manage my game because I did a lot of par saves. And so ultimately, I was able to get a low score.”

Baek is in her first season on the KLPGA Tour and currently co-leads the Rookie of the Year Race. The 19-year old has three victories this year in Korea and said she did not have her sights on playing on the LPGA Tour next season. But a win this week could change that. She would become the fourth teenager to win on Tour this season joining Lexi Thompson, Lydia Ko and Hyo Joo Kim.

“I think prior to this tournament, I was focused on staying in Korea next year, learn and build my experience, and I was planning to go to Q School next year,” said Baek. “I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I will think about that if I win this tournament.

“And I also want to mention, of course it would be wonderful if I can win this championship, but coming into this tournament, my main focus was to build my experience and learn because so many LPGA players take part in this tournament,” Baek added. “In the first round and second round and this round through the groups and players I’ve been playing with, I’ve been able to learn a lot, especially in the second round.”

Fellow KLPGA member Hee-Kyung Bae played the first 10 holes of the third round even-par and didn’t pick up her first birdie until the par 4 11th hole.

“I think my iron shots today were strong but my putting wasn’t especially strong. So especially in the front nine, I would make it on the green pretty close but then my putt wouldn’t drop,” said Bae. “So then after making the first birdie on the back nine, I really picked up momentum and in the back nine, my putting was stronger and my shots were stronger and I also took advantage of the fact that the tee boxes were closer on the back nine.”

She birdied four of her final six holes including No. 18 to take the clubhouse lead. The 22-year old is in her fifth season on the KLPGA and has two career victories, one as an amateur. She played in the event in 2010 as an amateur and tied for 65th. Asked whether she had any expectations of winning coming into the week, Bae said she just happened to find herself at the top of the leaderboard on Saturday.

“No, not at all. I didn’t think about winning coming into this championship,” said Bae. “I think in the back nine, I was able to lower my score significantly, and doing that, I found myself on the top of the leaderboard.”

Low round of the day honors went to Michelle Wie and defending champ Amy Yang who both shot 5-under 67. Wie jumped from T36 to T13 and is just two shots back with just one round to play. Yang moved from T50 to T21 and is four shots back at 1-under par.

Another putter switch for Park: Inbee Park continues to play a version of musical chairs with her choice of putters and swapped out her most recent TaylorMade model with an old friend. She made the mid-tournament switch back to the Odyssey Sabertooth which was in her bag during her streak of three-straight major wins in 2013.

“Yeah, the last two days have been nothing was really going well. I putted really horrible yesterday and I really wanted to have some kind of a change,” said Park. “And today I changed the putter to the old putter and it was working a little bit better than yesterday obviously. Yeah, I don’t know, I was just struggling with the putter, so couldn’t think of anything else.”

Her putting numbers don’t exactly support the switch but her score put her back in contention and plans on keeping it in. Park had 28 putts in the first round, 31 in the second round and 30 today. She posted rounds of 71-73-68 through the first three days.

She’s looking forward to a later wake-up call tomorrow and will be featured in the final group with KLPGA members Kyu Jung Baek and Hee Kyung Bae. She’s been trying to catch up on sleep since hosting a wedding on Monday in Seoul.

“Excited for waking up late, because I’ve been getting earlier and earlier and earlier,” said Park. “Because like first day I played last group and next day one hour earlier and next day another hour earlier. So my wake up call will be late tomorrow, so I’m excited for that.”

The 11-time LPGA Tour winner knows that a win is within reach and admits she’ll have nerves on the first tee tomorrow in front of a massive Korean crowd.

“I just want to have the ball striking the way it is right now,” said Park. “I’m probably going to be a little more nervous tomorrow but want to keep the ball striking and hopefully a few more putts will drop.”

Pettersen eyeing third win in Korea: Suzann Pettersen considers herself the most popular Norwegian in Korea.

“More than the Prince,” said Pettersen.

And rightfully so. Pettersen, who is the only non-Asian player to win the event (2007 & 2012), will try to become the only three-time winner tomorrow. She expects to have some cheers from the Korean crowd tomorrow and is hoping to pick up her first win of the 2014 season.

“I would love to win this tournament three times overall,” said Pettersen. “It would be fun to have a chance going down tomorrow. Obviously I feel like I have some great fans here in Korea, as well. So even though I’m a non Korean, I feel like I have a lot of great support.”

The No. 4 ranked player in the world has historically played well in Asia and has five career wins on the continent. Her last victory came nearly a year ago at the Sunrise Taiwan LPGA Championship. With a stacked leaderboard and only one round to play, Pettersen said she’ll have the blinders on and won’t be watching any movement at the top.

“Not really. I’m trying to just stick to the game plan,” said Pettersen. “I mean, I still feel like I have a low round on this course in me. Hopefully we can knock it out tomorrow.”

Get them on your side: Brittany Lincicome knows that a little support in the final round of the KEB-HanaBank Championship will go a long way. The 10-year LPGA Tour member acknowledges the fact that getting some cheers for the gallery gives her a needed boost.

“I think it’s getting better each time that I’m in this position,” said Lincicome. “It’s funny with the fans, if you can get them on your side, it gives you that little boost of confidence that you need.”

Don’t be surprised to see Lincicome give the Korean crowd a wave or hat tip on Sunday. She hopes her interaction will win them over.

“Today with Beatriz and Karine, there was no Asian people, so it was like they were kind of rooting for whoever was doing good, and if you give them a little nod or wave, they loved it and they cheered for you even louder,” said Lincicome. “I think I need to get them on my side somehow tomorrow. I’m sure there’s tons of Korean players at the top of the leaderboard they will be rooting for. But it does help to feed off of them and gives you that confidence that you need to make birdies.”

Quote of the day: “It would feel like a miracle.”
Hee Kyun Bae on whether it would be a dream come true to win on Sunday.

INTERVIEWS

Rolex Rankings No. 33 Kyu Jung Baek (-5)

Q. My first question, in the front nine, you did three birdies and one bogey, and on the back nine, you also did the same score. So can you tell us about your game today?
KYU JUNG BAEK: I think my putting was strong today and my shot was relatively weaker compared to my putting. But I think I was able to manage my game because I did a lot of par saves. And so ultimately, I was able to get a low score.

Q. This course, wind has always been a factor and wind definitely was a factor in the first two rounds. So now we are almost done with the third round and we are going into the fourth round. How much do you think the wind impacted the game?
KYU JUNG BAEK: I think for the first two rounds, wind was very strong, so it was very difficult. But today there is definitely less wind and overall, this is leaving most players to lower their scores today. And as you can see, there are a lot of KLPGA players on top of the leaderboard, and I think this is because recently, the KLPGA players have been able to become accustomed to playing longer distances and more difficult pin positions.

Q. You're considered a long hitter in the KLPGA. How do you think this is an advantage on this course, specifically referring to some of the holes?
KYU JUNG BAEK: I think for some of the par 5s, they are a bit short. So unless you don't have any wind coming on head on, you can make it on the green in two. And so I think that's the area where a long hitter would have an advantage.

Q. So you've had three wins so far this year, and I'm sure you would have thought about going to the U.S., going to the LPGA. So prior to this tournament, what were your plans on going to the U.S.?
KYU JUNG BAEK: I think prior to this tournament, I was focused on staying in Korea next year, learn and build my experience, and I was planning to go to Q School next year.

Q. Does this mean you will change your plans if you win this tournament?
KYU JUNG BAEK: I don't want to get ahead of myself. I will think about that if I win this tournament. And I also want to mention, of course it would be wonderful if I can win this championship, but coming into this tournament, my main focus was to build my experience and learn because so many LPGA players take part in this tournament. In the first round and second round and this round through the groups and players I've been playing with, I've been able to learn a lot, especially in the second round. In the third round today, I played with two other KLPGA players, Haeji and In Gee, that I've known since way back, so it was very good.

Q. So my question is on the first day, your score wasn't that great but on the second and third day, you played a very solid game. Can you tell us why? And also going into the fourth round, what do you think the biggest factor will be in winning this tournament? Will it be the weather? Will it be the other players?
KYU JUNG BAEK: First of all, I think on the first day, my putting was not that solid and that affected my game. I think going into the fourth round, the biggest factor that will determine success is not really the weather or how the other players are playing. I guess the biggest factor is myself. Of course everybody can play very well where they are on an upward swing, but the key to I think winning a tournament is how you manage the course when you're not playing particularly well, if you're not shooting particularly well. So I think the biggest factor will be how I overcome crisis when, for instance, there is a missed shot.

Rolex Rankings No. 105 Hee-Kyung Bae (-5)

Q. Tell us about your game overall today on the front nine. You par saved all the holes on the front nine and on the back nine, did you four birdies, one bogey and then a birdie. So walk us through your game?
HEE KYUNG BAE: I think my iron shots today were strong but my putting wasn't especially strong. So especially in the front nine, I would make it on the green pretty close but then my putt wouldn't drop.
So then after making the first birdie on the back nine, I really picked up momentum and in the back nine, my putting was stronger and my shots were stronger and I also took advantage of the fact that the tee boxes were closer on the back nine.

Q. Looking back on this year you were pretty steady and strong. Do you see a chance of winning this tournament?
HEE KYUNG BAE: I think today, this round, I was able to shoot lower. As I mentioned earlier, my putting wasn't that strong, so I missed a couple. But I think my game overall was okay. Looking back on the year overall, I actually attended this championship in 2010 as an amateur, so I do remember this course, and I feel good about this course.

Q. Now that you're in contention to win, have you thought about what you would do if you were to win the event and take LPGA membership as your goal to get on the LPGA?
HEE KYUNG BAE: Of course, if I win, I would definitely take the opportunity to go to the LPGA. My ultimate goal is to get to the LPGA. Of course, I was preparing for the JPGA, but my ultimate goal is to go to the LPGA. So if I can achieve that goal the earlier, the better.

Q. Will you be excited to be in the lead group tomorrow?
HEE KYUNG BAE: I think I would know once I am standing on the first tee box tomorrow. But looking back on the past three days, I haven't been struggling to make the shots. Instead, rather, I missed some shots just by like maybe I had more chances.
So I don't think I would feel particularly nervous.

Q. Would it be a dream come true to win here? Did you think coming in here you would win it, have a chance to win it?
HEE KYUNG BAE: No, not at all. I didn't think about winning coming into this championship. I think in the back nine, I was able to lower my score significantly, and doing that, I found myself on the top of the leaderboard.

Q. How about if it came down to it and you won tomorrow, how excited would you be? Dream come true?
HEE KYUNG BAE: It would feel like a miracle.

Rolex Rankings No. 2 Inbee Park (-4)

Q. Very good day. Do you feel like you had to make up a little bit for yesterday? Did you have a mentality of make this up?
INBEE PARK: Yeah, the last two days have been nothing was really going well. I putted really horrible yesterday and I really wanted to have some kind of a change. And today I changed the putter to the old putter and it was working a little bit better than yesterday obviously. Yeah, I don't know, I was just struggling with the putter, so couldn't think of anything else.

Q. So did you have the Sabertooth?
INBEE PARK: Sabertooth.

Q. You changed to the Sabertooth?
INBEE PARK: I had the TaylorMade.

Q. And you changed back to the Sabertooth?
INBEE PARK: Yeah.

Q. When is the last time you played with that one?
INBEE PARK: Nabisco. I changed to like PING putter and then TaylorMade and now back to it.

Q. Any highlights?
INBEE PARK: It was a very nice day today. Hit a lot of shots close. Many people are hitting a lot of shots close. Many birdie opportunities, and I hit a couple of them really close today. Like No. 6 was one of the toughest holes, but I hit it into like two feet, so that's been probably my best shot today. And yeah, I just had a lot of opportunities today, and probably everybody else does, yeah.

Q. Playing with So Yeon had to be fun.
INBEE PARK: Yeah, we know after the drawing came out yesterday, we text each other that we're together tomorrow, so let's have fun. Good energy going on in the round, so it was a fun round and we both played good. So it was a good day.

Q. What about tomorrow, most exciting thing for tomorrow, playing in one of the later rounds?
INBEE PARK: Excited for waking up late, because I've been getting earlier and earlier and earlier. Because like first day I played last group and next day one hour earlier and next day another hour earlier. So my wake up call will be late tomorrow, so I'm excited for that.

Q. Anything that you know you'll have to do to get in contention to have a chance?
INBEE PARK: I just want to have the ball striking the way it is right now. I'm probably going to be a little more nervous tomorrow but want to keep the ball striking and hopefully a few more putts will drop.

Rolex Rankings No. 4 Suzann Pettersen (-4)

Q. Strong start, birdie, birdie start, set the tone.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah, I 3 putted three, and then just seemed to have like a birdie, bogey race out there for a little while. Then just tried to kind of keep your head together and try and finish strong.
So tried to get to five, six. Just disappointing to bogey 17, and then the putt not dropping on 18. But hoping I'm still within two or three.

Q. No wind today?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: It dropped. There was a little bit to start.

Q. Not nearly as bad as the other days?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: No, not as bad. Enough to get your attention on the first nine I guess, and on the back nine it seemed to drop, which is a bit unusual. Seems like we've had everything.

Q. How much does winning twice here you have to feel very comfortable here.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I would love to win this tournament three times overall. It would be fun to have a chance going down tomorrow. Obviously I feel like I have some great fans here in Korea, as well. So even though I'm a non Korean, I feel like I have a lot of great support.

Q. Give me a little bit on why the course suits you so well and your game.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I don't know if it actually suits my game, but you make it work. Fake it till you make it.

Q. Tell me about the finishing stretch of holes here. Exciting?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: You can be aggressive on 16, or 18, obviously be an exciting finishing hole and you can get there in two.

Q. Packed leaderboard. Were you watching it at all today?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Not really. I'm trying to just stick to the game plan. I mean, I still feel like I have a low round on this course in me. Hopefully we can knock it out tomorrow.

Rolex Rankings No. 24 Brittany Lincicome (-4)

Q. Well, the scorecard looked a little crazy, 2 2 2 2. Did it feel like it was in bunches?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: Yeah, I mean, it was I thought I would get on a roll and then I would just kind of get set back. And then I would get on a roll and it was just like one bad swing here or there, and just the last couple coming in, I got tired and lazy and didn't make good swings. Maybe need to eat more tomorrow, not sure.
Making birdies which is always good. Just need to stop making the other. At least I'm not super out of it, which is good.

Q. Very stacked leaderboard. It was changing all day. Did you look at all?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: I actually looked a couple times. I don't know if that's something I'll be doing forever or if it's just kind of here or just because they are there. But I definitely knew kind of where I was and how I was doing. Didn't feel too much pressure like, okay, you need to make birdies or you need to stop making bogeys and stuff. Just was kind of going along doing my own thing, and, yeah.

Q. Playing in the final group, you're getting more used to it now but still a bit of a thrill?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: I think it's getting better each time that I'm in this position. It's funny with the fans, if you can get them on your side, it gives you that little boost of confidence that you need.
Today with Beatriz and Karine, there was no Asian people, so it was like they were kind of rooting for whoever was doing good, and if you give them a little nod or wave, they loved it and they cheered for you even louder. I think I need to get them on my side somehow tomorrow. I'm sure there's tons of Korean players at the top of the leaderboard they will be rooting for. But it does help to feed off of them and gives you that confidence that you need to make birdies.

Q. The final stretch can be exciting and can create a little drama. What do you think someone is going to need to do to really run away with it?
BRITTANY LINCICOME: I'm assuming somebody is going to shoot 4 or 5 under tomorrow. I feel like I made a bunch of birdies today. Just need to stop making the bogeys and concentrate maybe just a little extra harder on every shot and not just take everything for granted out there. Just keep doing what I'm doing and hopefully tomorrow will be my 4 under day.

LPGA KEB HANABANK CHAMPIONSHIP RELATED STORIES










© Golftoday.co.uk 1996-2018 - Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy - About Us - Advertise - Classifieds - Newsletter - Contact Us