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Lewis takes lead in Beijing
October 02, 2014

Interviews:
Rolex Rankings No. 1 Stacy Lewis (-7)
Rolex Rankings No. 52 Caroline Hedwall (-6)
Rolex Rankings No. 66 Yani Tseng (-4)
Rolex Rankings No. 120 Belen Mozo (-4)
Rolex Rankings No. 84 Haeji Kang (-4)

The first round of the Reignwood LPGA Classic kicked off this morning at the beautiful Reignwood Pine Valley Golf Club in Nankou, Beijing, China. This is the ninth country the LPGA Tour has visited this season, with five more to go before the final CME Tour Championship in Naples, Florida to finish the 2014 season.

After a 30 minute delay due to some visibility issues this morning, players hit the course to play during one of the most beautiful fall days in Beijing. With blue skies and the Great Wall clearly on display around them, the first round ended with World No. 1 player Stacy Lewis (-7) overtaking Caroline Hedwall (-6) for the tournament lead thanks to birdies on five of her last seven holes.

Big name group: Three of the top four players who sit atop the Rolex Rankings had a chance to play together, which is a rare treat for them. No. 1 Stacy Lewis, No. 2 Inbee Park and No. 4 Suzann Pettersen battled each other throughout the day and gave Chinese fans a chance to witness some great, competitive golf.

It also gave Stacy Lewis a chance to remind them of why she is the top ranked player.

“The grouping today was fun.” Lewis said. “I always like playing with Inbee and Suzann. If you play with the best players in the world, that makes you better. I don’t know if it made me elevate my game and play a little bit a better, but we had great crowds out there, I thought, for a first round.”

Lewis clearly got the best of Park and Pettersen, but there wasn’t much they could do to keep up with Lewis’ birdie barrage over the last seven holes. It’s early, but with Lewis playing patiently she may be tough to catch.

“You learn you just got to stay patient.” Lewis said. “You’re not going to go shoot a 66 or 65 every single day. Yeah, I want to be in the lead. That’s where I want to be. I want to be in the lead coming up 18 on Sunday as well. It’s a good start, but we have a long ways to go."

A big fan of the course: Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall (-6), who got off to a great start with birdies on the first two holes, heads into tomorrow just one stroke behind leader Stacy Lewis. If it wasn’t for a bogey on the par-4 fifth hole, she would share the overnight lead with Lewis.

Ranked 52 in the World Rankings, the Swede, who is yet to record a top-10 finish on tour this year added, “I’m really happy with my game today. I started off with two birdies and felt like I was on a roll there. I had quite a few birdie opportunities on the back nine and kept playing well. It was nice to finish off with a birdie as well. Just really happy.”

Asked about her good record in Beijing, she added, “I just really like the golf course here. The greens are very nice. My key part of the game is tee to green, and suits me really well. The course has been in really nice shape. I just gain confidence playing a lot.”

Quote of the day: “I have a little heart injury from last couple years, but I think now I’m done and I can’t wait to get back.”
- Yani Tseng when asked if she is playing well because she is now injury free.

The race for $1 million: The Race for the CME Globe and its $1 million prize is heating up. Players have seven weeks remaining to improve their position in the season-long points competition before the point reset.

After the reset, the players in the top-3 positions on the Race to the CME Globe Points Standings will be able to win the Race to the CME Globe with a win at the Tour Championship; and the players in the top-9 positions will have a mathematical chance to win the race.

“There’s not much you can do.” Suzann Pettersen responded when asked if being in the top 9 is something that will weigh on her mind over the final part of the season.

“It’s out of your control.” Pettersen added. “Usually when I go to Asia I’ve been very successful here in the past. So just make the most of the trip. Playing the next three, so I’m ready to go. I’m rested and I look forward to this final part of the season."

After the Lorena Ochoa Invitational Presented by Banamex in Mexico, LPGA Members who meet the entry criteria for the CME Group Tour Championship will be seeded based on their position on the Race to the CME Globe Points Standings. Points for each Member will then be reset for the CME Group Tour Championship based on the points reset table listed on www.lpga.com/golf/news/cme-group-tour-championship-eligibility.

The reset will ensure that the race will be won at the season-ending tournament. For more information on point distribution, the reset or entry criteria, please visit www.lpga.com.

Stacy Lewis holds a 1,246-point lead in the competition and is playing well after a second-place finish last week.

Here’s a look at how the top 10 has fared in some of the top statistical categories:

Place Name Top-10s Wins Scoring Greens in Reg Driving Distance
1 Stacy Lewis 15 3 69.38 77% 259.8
2 Inbee Park 13 2 69.74 71.70% 248.3
3 Lydia Ko 10 2 70.24 72.90% 249.8
4 Michelle Wie 10 2 69.7 77.30% 257.15
5 Anna Nordqvist 8 2 70.67 76.20% 251.82
6 So Yeon Ryu 11 1 69.98 75.20% 245.25
7 Karrie Webb 5 2 70.72 70.40% 249.89
8 Lexi Thompson 8 1 70.71 73% 271.3
9 Azahara Munoz 8 0 70.47 73.60% 253.63
10 Cristie Kerr 11 0 70.37 73.20% 256.02

Great Wall visit: The players on Tour get a unique opportunity to see the world one golf course at a time. It’s a treat for the players to get a chance to get away and tour the cities they visit throughout the year. Many of the LPGA Tour players participating in the Reignwood LPGA Classic this week in Beijing jumped at the chance to visit the Great Wall.

Because of the large steps, many of the players sweat their way up the wall and today were dealing with some sore calves as they played the first round today.

“I have extremely sore calves from climbing.” Sarah Kemp said laughing. “The physios have taped up my calves they were so tight today. The stairs are quite large so we were walking on our tippy toes the whole time.”

Playing through pain may have been the key to her strong start today. The Australian native carded her lowest first round score (-1) since she entered the second round of the 2014 Women’s British Open third overall after an opening round 70 there.

“This is my first time to Beijing and this is definitely the best Asian course that I have played. I have played a couple on the LET the last few years and this is my favorite."

Playing with a real smile: Yani Tseng spent 109 consecutive weeks atop the Rolex Rankings from 2011 to 2013 and each day she had a huge smile on her face. That smile has faded lately as the former No. 1 player has struggled with her confidence on the golf course.

The Yani of old has emerged from time-to-time this season, but today you could tell she was having fun out there and the smile returned.

“It’s been couple years I really try to feel more comfortable out there and just enjoy myself and not worry about the score too much and be relax and play golf.” Tseng said. “It’s amazing, that feeling play free out there and not worry about anything and just play by myself and play my own game. I feel very happy. Doesn’t matter what my score is, I just feel much happier now.”

The last couple years have been a struggle for Tseng but she is always optimistic that her return to form is close. You could see that in her smile today.

“I mean last couple year my smile was not really real.” Tseng said when describing her struggles. “This year I feel like I really smile from my heart, from the inside.”

INTERVIEWS

Rolex Rankings No. 1 Stacy Lewis (-7)

EMCEE: We very pleased to have the outright leader of the first round of our tournament; also ranking No. 1 in the world, Stacy Lewis from the United States.
MODERATOR: Stacy, great round today. Strong finish for you. I think it was after 4, your birdie on 4, you had a big smile on your face. Did you know you had it going early on at that point?

STACY LEWIS: I don't know. Early I got off to kind of a slow start. I made two long putts on 3 and 4 which kind of got things going, but really just a slow start. Just stayed patient all day. Was rewarded with that patience by birdieing four of the last five.

MODERATOR: You mentioned birdieing four of the last five, but I believe it was also five of the last seven. Now you end the day leading the tournament and you head into tomorrow in that position.
Is this the strongest you feel like you've finished in a while?

STACY LEWIS: I think I just really like this golf course. It's a golf course you can make a bunch of birdies on just because the greens are rolling so good.

So, I mean, more than anything, I was just trying to hit those shots. At the end there, I just started hitting them a little bit closer and the putts started to go in.

I just really wanted to put up a good number today just going into the next few days where the weather might not be as good.

MODERATOR: You had a pretty big name grouping today as well. You were the only one who went bogey-free. What's the reason for that?
STACY LEWIS: The grouping today was fun. I always like playing with Inbee and Suzann. If you play with the best players in the world, that makes you better. I don't know if it made me elevate my game and play a little bit a better, but we had great crowds out there, I thought, for a first round.

It was a lot of fun playing with those girls. We don't always get to play together. They like to switch us up every now and again. It was a fun day.

MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. Obviously leading after the first day. Do you generally find it easy to keep the lead or to chase the lead?
STACY LEWIS: You know, I mean, at the end of the day you want to be in the lead. Sometimes I led actually I think the last tournament in Alabama after the first day and then didn't really play as good the next two days.

You learn you just got to stay patient. You're not going to go shoot a 66 or 65 every single day.

Yeah, I want to be in the lead. That's where I want to be. I want to be in the lead coming up 18 on Sunday as well.

It's a good start, but we have a long ways to go.

Q. You have expressed several times in this tournament that you would not succumb to any challenge however strong it is. Does the courage have something to do with your fight against injuries like your back injury?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I think a lot of the person that I am is because of everything I went through with my back. I think I was just disappointed a lot as a kid, and it turned me into a fighter and somebody that's never going to give up and back down from a challenge.

That's just who I am. That's why I came back this week. I'm glad I did.

MODERATOR: With your finish here today, you have firm hold on first place in the Red Bull Challenge. Was that one of your goals heading into the tournament?
STACY LEWIS: It wasn't really a goal. It was just my caddie and I, we kind of had a bet when we walked off the 13 green on the Par-3. Just a bet on how many birdies I could make coming in.
I definitely won the bet.

Q. If we come back in the weekend, the fourth round, and we have bigger crowds and galleries, are you prepared better this time to face the challenge of bigger noises?
STACY LEWIS: I hope so. I feel like it's something that I've worked on to get ready for these couple weeks over here. I'm trying just not to react to it. That's what I'm trying to do. Just really staying positive and not reacting to it. I know there will be some cameras going on and noise and that's the way it is for everybody.

Just being a little bit more accepting of it. I know it's only going to get harder as the week goes on. That's why I'm here.

Q. Last year you lost on the last hole. Do you have more ambition to win this year?
STACY LEWIS: You know, I think looking back on last year, this was one of the tournaments I felt like it just got away from me a little bit. You know, Shanshan hit a great shot, but I also could have birdied that hole and gotten into a playoff.

I had my opportunities and I just didn't take advantage of it on 17 and 18. Just felt like it was a tournament that kind of got away from me. I was looking forward to coming back just because the golf course just fits my game and my eye. I felt like I could play low here again.

Rolex Rankings No. 52 Caroline Hedwall (-6)

EMCEE: Dear friends from the media, welcome to the first round press conference of the 2014 Reignwood LPGA Classic.
Now we're very happy to have the current leader in the first round of our classic tournament. Ladies and gentlemen, from Sweden, Caroline Hedwall.

MODERATOR: Caroline, congratulations. You've given yourself an excellent opportunity with an opening round 6-under; currently clubhouse leader; two-stroke lead.
You started with two straight birdies and finished with a big birdie on 18. How are you feeling overall?

CAROLINE HEDWALL: I'm really happy with my game today. Like you said, I started off with two birdies and felt like I was on a roll there.

I had quite a few birdie opportunities on the back nine and kept playing well. It was nice to finish off with a birdie as well.

Just really happy.

MODERATOR: Last year you played well here as well. What do you attribute that to?
CAROLINE HEDWALL: I just really like the golf course here. The greens are very nice. And just my key part of the game is tee to green, and suits me really well. The course has been in really nice shape.

It's kind of easy to play well here.

MODERATOR: Last year you also played pretty well on the Asian swing in general. Is there something in your mindset, more of a year-end push for you?
CAROLINE HEDWALL: Well, I think for me, I just gain confidence playing a lot. That's what I did coming over here. Got a good start here in China and had a great finish in Taiwan last year.
So just when I start playing well, I usually keep playing well. So I think that's the key.

MODERATOR: Questions.

Q. Can you recollect a little bit with us about the bogey you had on the 5th. Was it a miss-selection of club or something?
CAROLINE HEDWALL: Well, that 5th hole you really need to hit the fairway, and I picked the wrong club off the tee there. Hit a 3-wood, but should have been a hybrid. I was long into the rough there, and it's just so hard to get to the pin.

I ended up on the fringe and three putted from there. Missed a three-footer. So could have made par, but sometimes you end up with a bogey.

Q. Do you have any particular strategy for this course?
CAROLINE HEDWALL: Well, I think the fairways are quite generous out here. Off the tee you can basically hit driver everywhere.
My caddie and I were talking a lot about where you want to be on the greens on your approach shot. Being on the wrong side of the pin here you're going to have a tricky putt.

You try and give yourself uphill putts all the time.

Q. Which hole is most difficult and dangerous hole to you?
CAROLINE HEDWALL: Well, actually I've got to say No.4 is playing quite long. It's one of the most difficult ones.

And also No. 5 I would say, because it's crucial to hit the fairway there. If you're in the rough it's so hard to get it to stop because the green is so short. It's hard from the rough to get it to stop. You really need to be on the fairway.

Today it was downwind as well, so makes it harder to stop.

Q. Two questions: You're from the Nordic region, and Beijing is having cold weather. Do you feel naturally accustomed to the weather here?
CAROLINE HEDWALL: The thing is that the courses that we play on we're all over the world. You play in hot weather and you get used to it. Obviously I grew up playing in cold weather.
The weather we had Tuesday and Wednesday, it's not tough for me to play in it because I'm so used to it. I just put on some extra clothing and I'm fine.

Q. Same question from the lady. As we gather, there are more than 500 golf clubs in your country, in Sweden, and you have a relatively small population. Can you talk a little bit about the popularity of golf per capita, the environment, and also the conditions for people to play golf there?
CAROLINE HEDWALL: Yeah, I think we're 9.5 billion people living in Sweden, so it's not a lot compared to China, that's for sure. There are 500,000 of us playing golf. It is a popular sport in Sweden, and that is why there are so many golf courses.

The popularity decreased a couple years ago, but I think it's on the up way again.

Just a lot of golf courses and good practice. Even though you just play six to seven months a year, we have a lot of great golfers. I think it's just because we love it so much.

Q. This question is not related to golf. This is already your second year in Beijing. For this tour, do you plan to do something local, like trying roast Beijing Duck? Visiting the Great Wall for the first time or again? Or go to some interesting cultural places?
CAROLINE HEDWALL: Well, actually did that last year when I was here. I went to the famous square in Beijing.

Q. Tiananmen.
CAROLINE HEDWALL: Yeah. Went to that one and the Great Wall. I did try the duck, so I kind of feel like I did everything last year.

So I would love to go to The Wall again. We'll just see if there is time, though.

Q. You had a break before Evian and a break right after leading up to this tournament. Had you played many other tournaments, or how do you stay on top of it?
CAROLINE HEDWALL: We had (indiscernible) in Sweden the week before Evian because it's in my hometown in Sweden. So I just spent some time there before and then after Evian. I flew directly from Copenhagen coming over here to Beijing.

So it was nice.

Q. Do you feel like you were fresh coming in here and that's one of the key reasons for good play in this round?
CAROLINE HEDWALL: Yeah, absolutely. Just spending time at home, we don't do that that often. It was nice to have a couple weeks at home and practice with my swing coach and my whole team which I have back in Sweden.

I really enjoyed my time and I feel fresh coming in here, yeah.

Rolex Rankings No. 66 Yani Tseng (-4)

YANI TSENG: I didn't give up any shot and I feel like I played fearless and not worry about too much out there.

Really enjoy every shot I hit. Very happy the first day I played.

Q. Yani, you just looked so relaxed and confident and got on with it. I think that's been where you're been struggling. Today really did look like the Yani of old.
YANI TSENG: It is, and it's easy to see. It's been couple years I really try to feel more comfortable out there and just enjoy myself and not worry about the score too much and be relax and play golf.
It's amazing, that feeling play free out there and not worry about anything and just play by myself and play my own game. I feel very happy. Doesn't matter what my score is, I just feel much happier now.

Q. That's a real difference for you. I know we've spoken a lot in the past, and you were getting on such a downer and it was a mental drain. To see you smile at the golf course today, it's been a long time since I've seen that smile. You looked in such a good place.
YANI TSENG: Yeah, I mean last couple year my smile was not really real. This year I feel like I really smile from my heart, from the inside.

It's not easy to do, and I been trying to do it for every day. I make same mistake every day, every tournament. I just try to improve and try to feel as comfortable as I can.

Just like before, doesn't matter how the score. It doesn't matter how the score doing. I want to be comfortable out there and I know I can play good golf.

Q. You are now injury-free.
YANI TSENG: I know I have a little heart injury from last couple years, but I think now I'm done and I can't wait to get back.

Rolex Rankings No. 120 Belen Mozo (-4)

Q. Obviously you have to be pretty happy with how you played today. Are you?
BELEN MOZO: I am. Yes, I am. I mean, there has been mistakes out there, which is fine. I'm fine with that, because I'm working on something in my swing and it's not quite there yet.

But I'm really happy that I pull it through and I was very relaxed. Just trying to get better and better every shot. Didn't effect me that I hit a bad shot.

Q. What are working on with your swing?
BELEN MOZO: It's been a long process since January. It was something so drastic that it couldn't be made one day to another.

We're finally getting there. It's basically the -- I don't know. You want me to go through...

Q. As much as you want to share. How has it helped you?
BELEN MOZO: Impact, my hands were coming too weak, was coming weak and open, and I was hooking the ball too much. So I'm learning to get an impact with more square hands.

Q. Would you say that has a lot to do with your turn around this year, your exceptional play?
BELEN MOZO: Oh, yeah, for sure. It all started because I started working with my coach from Spain, you know, the one that literally made me. He worked with me since I was six, my one and only coach.

Q. What is his name?
BELEN MOZO: Marcelo Prieto. He is Argentinian but lived in Spain for 22 years. That was a game changer for me. We set up some goals for this year. We're about to accomplish them, so we're very happy.

Q. So more him and your swing change or CoCo?
BELEN MOZO: Oh, him. I have to ship CoCo back to Spain because she's getting very naughty.

Q. Oh, know. What is she doing?
BELEN MOZO: She's having anxiety, separation anxiety every time I heave her by herself.

Rolex Rankings No. 84 Haeji Kang (-4)

Q. You have the best position after first round this year. You feeling good or strong about the game?
HAEJI KANG: Yeah, I am. I actually feel great about my game because I'm hitting it pretty straight.

Putting is not there yet, but I think I can work on it through the week and then I'll be in good shape.

Q. Has there been anything you're working on lately?
HAEJI KANG: I been working on my putting stroke because it's been a little shaky during this season. So I'm just trying to work on my like just the basic stuff.

So, yeah.

Q. So you bogey the first hole. How important was the birdie on hole 13 for you?
HAEJI KANG: I actually holed the third shot on No. 12, the third shot. I think it was really important for me to get back into the game so I could concentrate right on there.

Q. Okay. How do you feel about the course conditions?
HAEJI KANG: Like last year, the greens were faster than this year, but it's always in great condition. So I think it's just all about me, how I play. Nothing wrong.

Q. One last question about the facilities for the Reignwood LPGA here. How do you feel about the facilities, the clubhouse, golf course, and hotel?
HAEJI KANG: Yeah, I actually got the biggest hotel room out of the players, so I'm enjoying that. It's really comfortable because everything is so close. I really like it, yeah.

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