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Kim takes lead in Mexico
November 13, 2014

Interviews:
Rolex Rankings No. 76 Christina Kim (-7)
Rolex Rankings No. 15 Azahara Munoz (-6)
Rolex Rankings No. 23 Lizette Salas (-3)

Christina Kim fired an opening round 65 (-7) and heads into Friday with a one stroke lead over Azahara Munoz at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational at the Club de Golf Mexico in Mexico City. Thanks to two eagles, on 2 and 17, Kim heads into the second round of the tournament with the lead for the first time since the 2008 LPGA State Farm Classic when she finished T-9.

“It seems like every Sunday I’ve been playing well.” Kim said. “Just shoot myself in the foot the first couple rounds, so before we started, TJ (caddie TJ Jones) said, ‘You know what? Let’s pretend it’s Sunday and go from there.’ It’s been a lot of fun.”

Kim is looking for her first win since The Mitchell Company Tournament of Champions in 2005.

Munoz, who needs a top-4 finish at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational to jump into the top-9 of the Race to the CME Globe point standings, had an eagle of her own on 17 to tie Kim for the lead before a bogey on 18 dropper her one stroke off the lead.

Munoz has felt at home in Mexico and credits that with her strong opening round to begin the tournament.

“You know, you have to hit really good drives and hit good shots into the greens. And I like that. I love that the greens are really quick.” Munoz described. “Sometimes, most of the time, I really struggle getting the ball to the hole and here, I don’t have to worry about that. Definitely the ball is getting there. And I don’t know, people treat me like I’m from Mexico, so that’s really nice. You know, after every hole, people always say --- or they sing ‘Ole Ole Ole’. Little things like that - they make me feel good.”

World traveler: Christina Kim is one of three LPGA players who played in all six of the LPGA’s Asian swing and are playing in the Lorena Ochoa Invitational. Kim traveled to Mexico City from Japan and fired an opening-round 65 (-7) and heads into the second round with a one-stroke lead over Aza Munoz (-6).

“I was jet-lagged earlier this week. Got in Monday afternoon and, you know, it was a long 6 weeks considering we probably ended up with 3 1/2 feet of rain in those tournaments.” Kim joked. “But I had a wonderful time. I always love going to new countries or returning to other countries I hadn’t been in a few years. You know there are no cuts. You’re just there to tinker with stuff and try things out and just go out there and have fun and really absorb the culture. That’s what I did the last few weeks. Really working on being well rested and trying to get enough sleep. I think I’m back on the clock now. I think I am.”

Eight golfers who played last week in Japan traveled to play in the Lorena Ochoa Invitational. The three players competed in all six stops on the Asian leg of the Tour are noted with a (*).

Christina Kim*
Pernilla Lindberg*
Morgan Pressel
Mi Hyang Lee*
Catriona Matthew
Angela Stanford
Stacy Lewis
Pornanong Phatlum

Last chance to qualify for CME: The Lorena Ochoa Invitational marks the final week for players to qualify for the CME Group Tour Championship. It also marks the final week for players to jump into the top-9 or top-3 spots in the Race to the CME Globe for a chance at $1 million. Only the top-9 players have a chance to win the $1 million prize, while the top-3 control their own destiny with a win at CME.

Visit www.lpga.com/race-to-cme-globe for more information on how the Race to the CME Globe works and the points breakdown.

Top 3 Scenarios:
-Stacy Lewis and Inbee Park will go into the CME Group Tour Championship No. 1 and No. 2 in the Race to the CME Globe when the points are reset.
- Michelle Wie must win this week, and Lydia Ko must finish 5th-or-worse for Wie to have a chance of taking her place inside the top-3.

Top 9 Scenarios:
- There are only 14 players left in contention for the top 9 positions. Na Yeon Choi and Jessica Korda were eliminated after not winning at the Mizuno Classic.
- Karrie Webb has jumped into the top-9, which forces Azahara Munoz to finish at least 4th in the Lorena Ochoa Invitational to have a chance of falling inside the top-9.
- Lexi Thompson, Cristie Kerr, and Suzann Pettersen each must win to have a chance of getting inside the top-9.

Top 72 scenarios: Alejanda Llaneza could jump into the CME Group Tour Championship field with a 1st or 2nd place finish this week.
- Natalie Gulbis could jump into the CME Group Tour Championship field with a 1st place finish this week.

Of note: If Azahara Munoz finishes in the top-4, Karrie Webb is automatically dropped out. It wouldn’t guarantee Azahara a spot if one of the other three player’s wins. Azahara would have to finish 3rd-or-better to guarantee herself a spot because a third-or-better would push Chella Choi and Karrie Webb below her.

Numbers to know:
2 - Number of career wins for Christina Kim
3 - The number of players who control their own destiny in the Race to the CME Globe and its $1million prize
7 - Number of years that Lorena Ochoa has hosted the Lorena Ochoa Invitational
10 - Current ranking for Azahara Munoz in the Race to the CME Globe
13 - Number of players still in contention for the top 9 positions in the Race to the CME Globe with one week to go
27 - Number of wins on the LPGA Tour for Lorena Ochoa
2005 - Year of Christina Kim’s last win on the LPGA Tour

Quotes of the day: “The course is really classic and classy - it reminds me of Lorena.” - Christina Kim describing her thoughts on the course this week, the Club de Golf Mexico

“I’ve always really looked up to her and not just for how good she played, but for how good of a person she is. So I think we all look up to her just for that reason. So, you know, coming here is such a special event. It’s only 36 of us. It’s such a small field. And it’s always such a good golf course. And they treat us so nice. Coming here is such a treat for all of us.” - Azahara Munoz talking about Lorena Ochoa

It's the beans: Lizette Salas was nervous stepping up to the first tee box today. Playing in Mexico, where many of her family live and where her parents are from means so much to her.

She opened with a double bogey on the first hole but rebounded to finish with a 69 (-3) and four strokes off the lead.

“Just kind of playing in Mexico, you know, where my parents are from. Just been getting a lot of support these last couple of days. You know when I was home, I didn’t really practice. Pro-am was kind of like my practice and new caddy and kind of my mindset - I was a little nervous, but Kurt (Moskaly) did a really good job today of keeping me present and just rolled it really well after that double bogey.”

Salas has been smiling a lot this year, especially after picking up her first LPGA win at the Kingsmill Championship in May. She’s in the hunt for her second win and is excited to be in Mexico.

“I just love playing here. The fans are great. The food’s awesome. I don’t think I’ve had and American breakfast so far this week. So it’s maybe the beans.” Salas said of her lucky charms. “I have no idea. Maybe. I just love playing in this country.”

INTERVIEWS

Rolex Rankings No. 76 Christina Kim (-7)

THE MODERATOR: Alright, with Christina Kim. Christina - great opening round here at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational. 65, 7-under, 2 eagles. Can you walk me through those two eagles?
CHRISTINA KIM: Yea! The first one was on the second hole. And I had - I'm trying to think because we have to do the altitude. We have to take off 10 percent, this and that. I had probably 2-15 to the flag I would say. And then I hit a hybrid, kind of high, just off the green. I probably had about 15, 20 feet or so and chipped it in. It was a good start to my round. I had a good up and down on the first as well for par, so got myself on a good roll. And then on 17 I had 232 yards to the flag. Hit a 5 wood to again about 15, 20 feet - probably closer to 20 feet - just off the green again. And just got a really good roll on the ball. And for the first time in probably five months, I've gotten excited. So I was like, "Come on, come on!" And it fell in a fast rotation so I was pretty pleased with that.

THE MODERATOR: So strong start, strong finish. What does it do for your confidence heading into the next few days?
CHRISTINA KIM: Well you know my caddy TJ Jones and I were talking before the round and I played all 6 events in the Asian swing. So I'm going to finish the season with 8 tournaments in 7 countries. And I don't know what the actual score is, but it seems like every Sunday I've been playing well. Just shoot myself in the foot the first couple rounds, so before we started, TJ said, "You know what? Let's pretend it's Sunday and go from there." It's been a lot of fun. I've personally gotten a lot of inspiration from being fortunate enough to play in the same era that Lorena played in. You know, we were rookies together in the Symetra Tour. And then we were rookies together in the LPGA Tour. She beat me out by like $250 for the Player of the Year on the Semetra Tour though she played a third of the events. There was never any question really, but being able to watch her throughout her career was so short in comparison to some of the other players out there. She's left such an impact not just on this country, but just for the game itself. I try to emulate her today by having a sense of inner peace. Last week I was tinkering with the concept of zen since we were in Japan. Just trying to stay calm and really enjoy myself. Just living it up here. Played with Margarita Ramos and she's a local girl here and it was so nice to see everybody just cheering for her on every shot. And seeing how much love they have for her. It's a really, really special event and more than anything, I'm just thrilled to be here. It was one of my goals to play this event. And it's been a number of years since I've last been here. It's just been great.

THE MODERATOR: You mentioned that you played all 6. How are you feeling physically and mentally after that? Jet-lagged this week?
CHRISTINA KIM: I was jet-lagged earlier this week. Got in Monday afternoon and, you know, it was a long 6 weeks considering we probably ended up with 3 1/2 feet of rain in those tournaments. But I had a wonderful time. I always love going to new countries or returning to other countries I hadn't been in a few years. You know there are no cuts. You're just there to tinker with stuff and try things out and just go out there and have fun and really absorb the culture. That's what I did the last few weeks. Really working on being well rested and trying to get enough sleep. I think I'm back on the clock now. I think I am.

THE MODERATOR: Your group was first off today. Initial thoughts on the course?
CHRISTINA KIM: This course was fantastic. We've played - I've played in 5 courses in Mexico. Between [the different courses] and Guadalajara Country Club where we were up until last year, we've been very fortunate to play some incredible golf courses. But this course is very traditional and it's an old-fashioned golf course. You get a sense of, not age, but it's always great to be on a classic golf course. It's very demanding regardless of just having to figure out the ten percent that you're hitting the ball further. It's been a beautiful golf course. It's been a wonderful, wonderful week so far.

Rolex Rankings No. 15 Azahara Munoz (-6)

THE MODERATOR: Azahara, what a fantastic score. I know slightly disappointing to end up with a bogey, but what an eagle on 17 there. What was going through your mind when you made that putt?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: I don't even know, you know? I played so well today. I made a lot of good putts. I actually should have made a lot more so that was nice. I don't know. I just started get it there. Yesterday, I actually hit it exactly same putt, and I just left it short. And so I said just get it to the hole, and when it went in, it's just one of those days things work for you, and today was one of those days for me.

THE MODERATOR: Have you been working on anything in particular with your putting to make it so easy today?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Not really. I started to putt really well since Taiwan again. I've been putting so well all year, but then the last one has been a little bit of a struggle in Asia. So finally in Taiwan, I started putting better. I guess I got more comfortable and gained a level of confidence. So putting I guess is always the key.

THE MODERATOR: Absolutely. So you played quite well last year. Not here at this course, but here at Mexico City at Lorena's tournament. What is it about Mexico that you seem to play well? Is it in the greens is it the environment, and the altitude, you have to get used to that - what do you do with that?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Well I love the altitude cause finally I'm hitting it far. I don't know - I guess I really like the courses, the way they set up. You know, you have to hit really good drives and hit good shots into the greens. And I like that. I love that the greens are really quick. Sometimes, most of the time, I really struggle getting the ball to the hole and here, I don't have to worry about that. Definitely the ball is getting there. And I don't know, people treat me like I'm from Mexico, so that's really nice. You know, after every hole, people always say --- or they sing Ole Ole Ole. Little things like that - they make me feel good.

THE MODERATOR: Talk a little bit about Lorena and how you looked up to her as a player and why you like coming here and playing in her tournament.
AZAHARA MUNOZ: I mean, obviously, when I was going through college, Lorena, it was her pick, so, you know, she was just winning all these tournaments and being a Spanish speaker, we're not from the same country, but I guess we feel related. So I've always really looked up to her and not just for how good she played, but for how good of a person she is. So I think we all look up to her just for that reason. So, you know, coming here is such a special event. It's only 36 of us. It's such a small field. And it's always such a good golf course. And they treat us so nice. Coming here is such a treat for all of us.

Rolex Rankings No. 23 Lizette Salas (-3)

THE MODERATOR: Alright, here with Lizette. Lizette - double on the first but you
rebounded nicely. Are you pleased with your start overall?
LIZETTE SALAS: Yeah, I think I was a little bit nervous at the beginning.

THE MODERATOR: Why so?
LIZETTE SALAS: I don't know. Just kind of playing in Mexico, you know, where my parents are from. Just been getting a lot of support these last couple of days. You know when I was home, I didn't really practice. Pro-am was kind of like my practice and new caddy and kind of my mindset - I was a little nervous, but Kurt did a really good job today of keeping me present and just rolled it really well after that double bogie. And kept giving myself good putts for birdie and good up and down on 9. Just was really hitting good shots. And I'm not that long off the tee, but I can still get it pretty close for birdie. I kind of just kept laughing and kept smiling out there.

THE MODERATOR: So, new caddy. Kurt - C or K?
LIZETTE SALAS: K.

THE MODERATOR: Last name?
LIZETTE SALAS: Kurt Moskaly? Sometimes I don't know how to pronounce it.

THE MODERATOR: We'll get specifics later. So your dad's here this week. What does it mean to have him here watching you, especially in Mexico?
LIZETTE SALAS: He hasn't been out for a long time. He's been home and just coming back to Mexico has been special for him. His family, our family, is about 6 hours from here. It's just something different. Different atmosphere, different crowds. And it's funny they thought I don't speak Spanish and I said of course I do! I'm almost fluent. And I just love playing here. The fans are great. The food's awesome. I don't think I've had and American breakfast so far this week. So it's maybe the beans. I have no idea. Maybe. I just love playing in this country. My Pro-am group yesterday was phenomenal. I just love it here.

THE MODERATOR: So you love it here, you've always loved playing here. Is it because you are in Mexico you are more motivated to play in this tournament?
LIZETTE SALAS: I think yeah. It's Lorena's event not only do I want to encourage golf in the US, but I also want to encourage golf in Mexico. Trying to change that stereotype that it's only for the rich and the wealthy. And like me, I didn't grow up with much and now I'm playing the LPGA tour. So hopefully these young gals or young boys can live that dream as well.

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