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Lewis takes lead in opening round
October 09, 2014, 2014

Interviews:
Rolex Rankings No. 1 Stacy Lewis (-6)
Rolex Rankings No. 14 Na Yeon Choi (-5)
Rolex Rankings No. 36 Hee Young Park (-5)
Rolex Rankings No. 7 So Yeon Ryu (-5)
Rolex Rankings No. 9 Shanshan Feng (-4)

The first round of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia ended with Stacy Lewis sitting atop the leaderboard after firing a, opening-round 65 for the second consecutive week. The World No. 1 used an aggressive approach on the 9th hole, an approach that led to three consecutive birdies on 9, 10 and 11. She finished with a bogey-free round and a feeling that she was able to get through the day.

“Yeah, another week I got off to a good start again.” Lewis said. “It was kind of one of those rounds that early it was actually kind of shaky and had to make a few par putts on the first three holes, but really just kind of hung in there and gave myself a lot of birdie looks at it and was fortunate to make a few. So it was a little bit of an ugly round, but I got a lot out of it.”

Lewis leads four South Koreans by a stroke, once again making this tournament a battle of the U.S. vs. the Republic of Korea. Players from the Republic of Korea have dominated LPGA events lately, winning six of the last seven LPGA tournaments.

Putting under pressure: After a round, you will most likely see Stacy Lewis out on the putting green practicing. You don’t become the No. 1 player in the world without putting in a little extra work.

“I don’t think I’m ever happy with my putting. “ Lewis said. “I mean, the short game is something that it’s always hit or miss. It’s hard to keep it going week off week, so it’s something you’re constantly working on. Under pressure the putting I think is almost the hardest thing, so if you can get the putting solid when the pressure is off, hopefully it kind of holds up. That’s why I practice it so much, because I want it to hold up on Sundays. That’s what I’m hoping for. It was good today, but it still could have been a little bit better.

Official simulator of the LPGA: The LPGA announced that GOLFZON, the world’s leading company in the virtual golf industry, is the LPGA’s newest Official Marketing Partner and will serve as the “Official Golf Simulator of the LPGA” beginning in 2015.

So Yeon Ryu, who after an opening round 66 at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, credited the golf simulator with the growth of golf in Korea. When she was younger, many of her friends were unfamiliar with the game so it was hard to connect with them.

“After the golf simulator business, people start to more play golf, and golf population is going to increase a lot.” Ryu said.

She was such a fan, she even became involved in the business.

“After Golf Zone’s entry into the industry, I started getting involved in the golf business, so now I have a golf simulator shop.” Ryu said. “I have two different ones in Seoul, so now I’m pretty much involved with golf, and I’m really happy to see Golf Zone start the business really well but also kind of really good affect to increase golf fans for us.”

As the “Official Golf Simulator of the LPGA,” GOLFZON will have a presence on multiple LPGA platforms including the Tour’s websites as well as its social media platforms. It will also have a presence on various worldwide LPGA telecasts and on site at several LPGA tournaments.

During the press conference at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club to announce the three-year partnership, GOLFZON also announced the donation of two GDR (GOLFZON Driving Range) systems to KLGCC and its members. As the Official Golf Simulator of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, the fans on site this week can experience the most technologically advanced system in the world while visiting the Gallery Plaza.

Who will be No.1: The battle for No. 1 continues this week at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia. One player has a chance to unseat Stacy Lewis at No. 1 and that’s 17-year old Lydia Ko. The No. 3 player in the Rolex Rankings can take the top spot with a win in Kuala Lumpur and Stacy Lewis finishes T12 or worse. No. 2 Inbee Park is not in the field this week due to wedding preparations back in her home country of Korea.

“Just say it. You want to be No. 1 in the world. Say it. Come on. Come on.” Stacy Lewis jokingly putting words in Lydia Ko’s mouth during the press conference today after Ko was asked if she was happy with her current world ranking.

Social scene: As one of the players’ favorite stops on the LPGA Tour, many took to the streets of Kuala Lumpur to explore the city early in the week. Belen Mozo was one of the players who visited the Patronas Twin Towers.

“Oh these beautiful ladies!! #Petrona Twin Towers #KL #SimeDarbyLPGA #beautifulcity”

-Belen Mozo via Instagram (@belenmozo)

Quote of the day: “It was just really cool to see someone in that position just be so down to earth and just so excited to play with me, when I was pretty excited to be playing with her.”

-Stacy Lewis explaining what it was like to play with Her Majesty, The Raja Permaisuri Agong, Tuanku Hajah Haminah Hamidun, The Queen of Malaysia.

Pressure is off: Shanshan Feng did not play the way she wanted to in her native China last week, finishing T49. She was hopeful that once she got to Malaysia, the pressure would be off and she could relax and focus more.

“I’m more relaxed this week.” Feng said. “Last week, I mean, I think people wanted me to win again, and I told everybody I was not going to give myself pressure, but I think I still did a little bit. I tried too hard and actually it went the wrong way.”

She feels at home in Malaysia and after an opening round 67, she sits just two shots off the lead.

“But I think I really enjoy it here in Malaysia every year.” Feng said. “Last year I did really well, and here I can still speak Chinese to everybody, so it’s almost like home again.”

The race for $1 million: The Race for the CME Globe and its $1 million prize is heating up. Players now have six weeks remaining to improve their position in the season-long points competition before the point reset. Stacy Lewis has a 1,222 point lead over Inbee Park, who is not in the field this week due to wedding preparations.

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. 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. Below are the current top-10 standings in the Race to the CME Globe prior to the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia:

Rank
Player
Points
Top-10s
Wins
1
Stacy Lewis
4333
16
3
2
Inbee Park
3222
14
2
3
Lydia Ko
2906
10
2
4
Michelle Wie
2588
10
2
5
Anna Nordqvist
2325
8
2
6
So Yeon Ryu
2181
11
1
7
Karrie Webb
2106
5
2
8
Lexi Thompson
1949
8
1
9
Azahara Munoz
1922
8
0
10
Cristie Kerr*
1834
11
0
* Not in the field this week

Ready for a win: Na Yeon Choi (-5) has finished within the top-5 in three of her last four tournaments played. Her last win on Tour came at the 2012 CME Group Titleholders, the same year she finished runner up at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia.

“Yeah, I mean, someone asked me like how is your golf game going, and I always say, I’m ready. “ Choi said. “But especially these days, like my game is going really better, and I have a lot of confidence with my game. Like these days, I work with my caddie like more than five months, so we know each other very well. I think everything is kind of get ready to win, so hopefully.”

In 2011, she had a one stroke vistory over Yani Tseng at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia.

Take 6a: There are 16 players who will play all six tournaments during the 2014 Asian leg of the LPGA Tour. The players are as follows. Chella Choi, Sandra Gal, Eun Hee Ji, Moriya Jutanugarn, Danielle Kang, Haeji Kang, Christina Kim, Ilhee Lee, Mirim Lee, Amelia Lewis, Belen Mozo, Hee Young Park, Beatriz Recari, Sarah Jane Smith, Line Vedel and Amy Yang.

INTERVIEWS

Rolex Rankings No. 1 Stacy Lewis (-6)

Q. You have to be pretty happy with the way things went today.
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, another week I got off to a good start again. It was kind of one of those rounds that early it was actually kind of shaky and had to make a few par putts on the first three holes, but really just kind of hung in there and gave myself a lot of birdie looks at it and was fortunate to make a few. So it was a little bit of an ugly round, but I got a lot out of it.

Q. You had had three in a row as you made the turn; is that correct? Was that a little bit of momentum, like here we go again, confidence builder?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, my goal was to shoot a 1- or 2-under on the front there and hit a great iron shot into 9. Had hit 6-iron into the back pin to about 10 feet, and it was just a really good swing, and it gave me some confidence with my golf swing and was able to just be a little bit more aggressive than I was early in the day. Hitting it close on 10 to about four feet, then made about a 10-footer up the hill on 11. More than anything, it just kind of gave me some confidence to finish out the day.

Q. You're world No. 1, quite popular in the United States, but you're quite popular here with the Queen of Malaysia. You played with her yesterday. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, it was a lot of fun. Once we got inside the ropes, she was definitely a golfer, you could tell. She was telling me all the courses that she's played all over the world. She's probably played more courses all over the world than I have, and she loves it. We had a good time out there. We were betting some money on a few holes, and it was a good time. It was just really cool to see someone in that position just be so down to earth and just so excited to play with me, when I was pretty excited to be playing with her.

Q. Do you strive in these sort of conditions, being hot and humid, do you strive to do well in these sort of conditions?
STACY LEWIS: Yeah, I grew up in Texas in the States where it's hot and humid like this in the summers, so I guess I'm kind of used to it. The thing I like about it is the ball just goes a mile so you can kind of free-wheel it a little bit more and hit it a little bit further. I don't know, I guess just growing up in Texas I'm more used to it than anything. This is just a normal summer day, so it's good.

Q. At the press conference the other day you emphasized that you really like this course, but what is it about this course that you really like?
STACY LEWIS: I think the course is just fun to play. It's a course where if you're in position, you can make a lot of birdies, but if you get out of position, you're struggling to make par. It's just a fun course. It's kind of quirky or a few holes. You kind of have to take your par and run, but then you've got like the turn of 13 and 14 out there are two really good holes, I think. They're short but they're still really hard. I don't know, it's just a fun course to play. It's not your let's hit driver, 6-iron, driver, 7-iron. At least you've got some variety there where you're hitting wedges in, but you're also hitting some 5-irons, as well.

Q. I saw you practicing alone on the practice green getting your putting right. It worked out today, but are you in a zone where you're happy with your putting, or do you still think you need to work on that?
STACY LEWIS: I don't think I'm ever happy with my putting. I mean, the short game is something that it's always hit or miss. It's hard to keep it going week off week, so it's something you're constantly working on. Under pressure the putting I think is almost the hardest thing, so if you can get the putting solid when the pressure is off, hopefully it kind of holds up. That's why I practice it so much, because I want it to hold up on Sundays. That's what I'm hoping for. It was good today, but it still could have been a little bit better.

Q. I was just wondering how much the leaderboard plays a part in mindset, in your mindset, and when do you know -- are you actually paying attention to it or completely blocking it out?
STACY LEWIS: I actually like watching leaderboards. I like kind of seeing how the course is playing, especially when you tee off later, kind of seeing what people in front of you are doing. I saw So Yeon got off to a hot start there. I saw she was 5-under through 7 or something like that. I like to know that just to know, all right, they're making a lot of birdies, I need to start making some birdies, too. I like watching it, and it doesn't really affect -- especially today it doesn't really affect what you do. I like seeing -- it's fun to watch certain players play well on certain types of golf courses, too, so I like watching that. I don't know, it gives me something to think about out there, I guess.

Rolex Rankings No. 14 Na Yeon Choi (-5)

NA YEON CHOI: Today I had a great day. I think the good thing is I started very early, first group, a little bit cooler. It was a little cooler out there. But I think in the afternoon, the heat a little bit affect my focus out there. I think that's why I missed a couple fairways on the back nine. That's why I got one bogey out there. But I don't have any regrets out there. My putt was good. After last week I had practiced a lot for short game, and I think it just paid off, yeah.

Q. You've been playing really well, three top-5 finishes of your last four tournaments. I think in Canada you said you're ready for your win. How do you feel right now?
NA YEON CHOI: Yeah, I mean, someone asked me like how is your golf game going, and I always say, I'm ready. But especially these days, like my game is going really better, and I have a lot of confidence with my game. Like these days, I work with my caddie like more than five months, so we are knowing each other very well. I think everything is kind of get ready to win, so hopefully.

Q. In Canada you were up against So Yeon. Once again So Yeon is at the top of the leaderboard. You're both heading into Inbee's wedding, bridesmaids. Is that going to be bragging rights at the wedding to see who can pull this one off?
NA YEON CHOI: I don't know. Hopefully we both play well before Inbee's wedding. I hope Inbee -- I know Inbee is cheering for us for this tournament. Hopefully we have a good result and we have a great time at her wedding.

Q. Just your reaction, what your feelings are after today's play, fantastic round. What's your reaction?
NA YEON CHOI: I'm very happy. I really feel satisfied with my game today. I got one bogey out there, but I think still that bogey was good, and luckily my ball didn't go into the water. I liked that bogey when I had it. And then my putt was really well, so hopefully I can keep continuing on to Sunday with my putter, and yeah, I think I just need a good rest after today and then come back with a good feeling tomorrow.

Rolex Rankings No. 36 Hee Young Park (-5)

Q. Great round again today; how are you feeling?
HEE YOUNG PARK: I feel great. I was playing last week in Beijing, but I got cold and sick, flu, so a bit rough the last couple days, but now feels a lot better, and the weather is perfect. It's been still not but not really extremely hot, which is perfect for me. I played with Natalie today. She played really good. That's, I think, a little bit of motivation from that low round today, which is good. Yeah, I think pretty much ready.

Q. How did you beat the cold? Lots of fluids or rest?
HEE YOUNG PARK: I drink a lot of water and like medicine, took a lot of medicine, and then didn't do much practice, a lot more stay like warm inside hotel room and relax. I think a lot of drink water helped me.

Q. Is that what you're going to do tonight then, too?
HEE YOUNG PARK: Yes, of course. Obviously here, this week, lots of good food around here like hot soup, noodles and things, so I'm going to eat warm stuff tonight and then get rest.

Q. How was the course today?
HEE YOUNG PARK: Pretty wet out there still. I believe it rained a lot last week, so very wet. Even on the greens, too, so I can hit a little more aggressive to pin like every hole, the green.

Q. Did participating in the Chip For Charity help you today do you think?
HEE YOUNG PARK: I think so. I hit it quite a bit good. It's been like chipping, my distance wise, pretty good, and then I checked it, even the charity chipping contest, which just feels good.

Q. Favorite thing about Malaysia; what do you like best about coming here?
HEE YOUNG PARK: Food.

Q. What kind? What's your favorite so far?
HEE YOUNG PARK: Seafood, especially chili crab in Malaysia and Singapore, I think best in the world.

Rolex Rankings No. 9 Shanshan Feng (-4)

Q. How was the day? Everything all right with your game?
SHANSHAN FENG: Yeah, I think I started the game like really solid. I made two birdies on the first two holes, and then actually I hit two kind of like poor drives, so I made two bogeys afterwards, but I stayed patient and made four more birdies on the back, and I'm really happy about that 4-under score.

Q. Talk about your goal for this season.
SHANSHAN FENG: Well, my goal actually this year was to win three times, actually, and now it's zero so far, and I have five left, so I'm trying hard. Like last week, I was defending champion, and we were playing in China. I think I was just -- it was just not my week. I totally lost myself out there last week, so I'm really happy that I'm actually shooting in the 60s again today, so I'm feeling good.

Q. It's quite hazy out there. Did you find it more difficult to play in the haze?
SHANSHAN FENG: I don't think so. It doesn't really do anything except for you can't see really far. But it's the same. I think it's actually pretty good because we have less sun and it's less humid, so I liked it.

Q. Coming off last week, did you feel a lot of pressure being at home defending? Do you feel more at ease this week now?
SHANSHAN FENG: Yes, I think so. I'm more relaxed this week. Last week, I mean, I think people wanted me to win again, and I told everybody I was not going to give myself pressure, but I think I still did a little bit. I tried too hard and actually it went the wrong way. But I think I really enjoy it here in Malaysia every year. Last year I did really well, and here I can still speak Chinese to everybody, so it's almost like home again.

Rolex Rankings No. 7 So Yeon Ryu (-5)

Q. So I don't know, I gather you can an investor in the technology. Tell us a little bit more about that.
SO YEON RYU: You know what, when I was young I was always really happy and able to play golf, but one thing that made me unhappy is when I introduced myself that I play golf, my friends in all Korea all said, maybe you're living in a different world than us because a couple years ago golf was not really easy to start in Korea because not many golf courses near capital city and not many golf ranges near like downtown. It was really hard to approach golf, so that's why a lot of people said I'm living a little different. But after the golf simulator business, people start to more play golf, and golf population is going to increase a lot.

After Golf Zone's entry into the industry, I started getting involved in the golf business, so now I have a golf simulator shop. I have two different ones in Seoul, so now I'm pretty much involved with golf, and I'm really happy to see Golf Zone start the business really well but also kind of really good affect to increase golf fans for us. This is really my personal opinion, but I've seen chairman Kim maybe since 2008 or 2009, then I was always impressed how much he has passion about golf. When I talk about golf with him, he always is happy and he knows about golf a lot. Just as my opinion, he's the leader of Golf Zone, so it means Golf Zone can be really great marketing partner for the LPGA, so I look forward to seeing LPGA and Golf Zone make a huge difference for the future.

Q. You're on a hot streak at the moment. You won in Canada at the end of August, you came third in Portland classic, you're one shot off the lead today. Tell us about your round today.
SO YEON RYU: Well, this is definitely one of my favorite stops on the Asian swing. The golf course is fabulous, and (inaudible) to golf. They support so many junior golfers, so I feel always special to be here. Before I won the Canadian Open, I had a kind of big turn of like winning drought, so I don't want to make another two-year winning drought, so I really look forward to making another win in Malaysia.

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