KRAIG KANN: Well, good morning everybody. Welcome to the media center here at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. My name is Kraig Kann, chief communications officer at the LPGA. Great to be joined by Inbee Park. I think you know her quite well. She’s had some success in this event. And you are back, although a different venue, so let’s get your impressions, first of all, of Monroe and what you’ve seen thus far. I know you’re headed out to the pro am.
INBEE PARK: Yeah. I’ve been to the course once, I played the course once this week. I was really surprised with how they set up the golf course.
Other people say before we seen the course it’s just wide open and no rough. Everybody is saying that sounds like it’s not going to be like a major golf course setup, and then I actually played this golf course and seen the course. It’s an actual really good major golf course. There’s a lot to this golf course, and greens are very slopey, and even if it’s a little bit of wider off the tee, it’s still a very tough golf course; and the roughs are up, and yeah, it’s going to be a very exciting golf course, and yeah, I think it’s maybe even better than last one.
KRAIG KANN: Last week you played very well. Obviously you didn’t get the victory that you were seeking. How did the setup last week at Blythefield perhaps help you this week? Was there anything similar that you feel like can really help you?
INBEE PARK: Yeah. It had like a little bit of a Locust Hill type of golf course, seeing last week’s golf course, so I thought it’s going to be really good practice.
And I think the grass style and golf course that it was tree lined, I think it’s really similar to this golf course, so I think playing last week helped me a lot, and obviously I really wanted to try that new putter last week, and you know, get the feel of it, and I got that from last week. So yeah, I think that’s good.
KRAIG KANN: One win for you this year, ten Top 10s. Is last week a disappointment for you that you didn’t get the victory or something that only adds more to this week?
INBEE PARK: I mean I ?? you know, to think positively, I just think that I probably saved more for this week. And obviously last week I was 2?under through three holes, and if I shot even par on the last 15 holes, I would have won, but obviously I just didn’t putt as well than in the first three days in the final round.
That was pretty much it. I was very calm out there. I was hitting the ball great. Yeah, I feel my game is in good condition.
KRAIG KANN: Let’s put hands up for questions. Let me go back to last year one more time and talk about the incredible run that you had. I know you’ve been asked about this many times, but what did this event mean for you in the midst of what was not only a great season in women’s golf but in golf period? How big was this one for you?
INBEE PARK: This was my second major for the season, and I think it was, yes, winning two events in a row, and obviously, you know, it meant a lot because, you know, I just didn’t expect what I was going for obviously at that moment. And obviously I didn’t know I was going to win three majors in a row, and this was kind of in the middle of it, so it was a very important tournament.
You know, having a major win before the U.S. Open helped me a lot to kind of building up the season. And yeah, I always love to play in Rochester area, and I actually having to win that week was great because there was so many fans out there watching and so many people wanting us to play well. So it was cool to kind of play good in front of them.
KRAIG KANN: Inbee, has this year been a success for you based on everything you accomplished last year or has it been a mental challenge or disappointment? How would you assess this season?
INBEE PARK: You know, I think for me I think it is ?? I think it’s not a bad season at all for me because I had a win, and I’ve played very consistently this year and I feel like my game is actually improving, just except for the putter. I mean that’s it, because last year I just putt so well. I just holed so many putts, and this year I’m just ?? my game, my ball striking, my greenside chipping, and everything has really improved, but you know, just not many putts, but it’s so hard to beat whatever I did last year. So I knew that before I started this season I was going to have a challenge to beat last year’s record.
But you know, I feel I could have won a couple more tournaments, that’s for sure, especially lately; but yeah, except for the British and last week, I just feel like I played quite good season.
KRAIG KANN: You talked last year about the enormous amount of media attention that you were receiving during that great run of major championship victories and the season that you had. And at the end of the year and then even this year when you were at Augusta National making your speech for the Golf Writers, you talked about how you dealt with that. Do you feel much more comfortable in situations like this, with the media and going week to week and doing press conferences and having that type of attention than you might have a year ago?
INBEE PARK: Yeah. I’m definitely feeling a lot more comfortable in front of the media or dealing with the media or in a pressure condition. I feel like I’m a lot more mature, a lot more experienced, especially like in the situations like where I’m leading or where I am having pressure in the final round. That kind of things they start to definitely help you, and especially like after a third round, even if I was leading last week, I wasn’t that nervous; I was able to do what I’m supposed to do and I was able to do my routines, and you know, I was just myself. And yeah, I think that’s been most different thing.
KRAIG KANN: You certainly walk in with a lot of different body language than you might have a year ago. Very calm. Let’s take a question here, Randall Mell.
Q. Hi, Inbee. Last year when I asked you about your putting you said you really don’t have a putting coach, that’s something you’d take care of yourself. Is that still true? You pretty much work on your own putting?
INBEE PARK: Yes, that’s true. I kind of just talk with my fiancé, and that’s it. On the putting he tries to help me a little, but mostly I just rely on my feeling. I just rely on what I’ve done in the past.
Q. What adjustments have you made this year?
INBEE PARK: You know, just a little bit on the posture. And I tend to pull the ball a little bit, so I’m just trying to start the ball a little bit online. My follow stroke is going a little bit inside, so I’m just trying to straighten that out a little bit.
Q. And just one last thing. You seemed so unhappy with your putting at times this year, and yet you’re No. 3 in putting. Do you just have a really high standard or did you feel like you’re off?
INBEE PARK: I don’t know whether, you know, I’m hitting the ball closer, so I get more opportunities, but I’m missing them, or ?? I think this year I think I’m just getting a lot more opportunities at a birdie than last year, and last year, like I said, if I had 10 opportunities, I made 8 of them. This year I’ve had 20 opportunities, I’m making 8 of them.
I think that’s been actually a little bit of a difference right there. Like I’m hitting so many great shots out there but just really wasting a lot of opportunities. That’s why I feel like I’m missing a lot of putts.
But averaging wise I think I probably gained maybe one or two strokes on the putting per round. I think I’ve averaged about 27, 28 last year. This year I’m hitting a lot of rounds over 30, late 20s.
KRAIG KANN: Inbee, every player seems to go to certain golf courses and they might say this one fits my eye. I really like this course. I can just tell before I even play it, I like how it looks. Specific to putting and the greens, can you walk to a golf course, maybe Monroe this week or Blythefield or any of the other courses that you’ve won on and say I know I’m going to have a good putting week; I like the way these greens are undulated; I like the way these greens are flat? Is there a preference you have and do you know when you’re going to have a good week?
INBEE PARK: Yes. I like the greens where they have bentgrass and very undulated greens. I don’t like greens where they are very grainy or poa annua. Those two greens I kind of, you know, it’s tough to putt on. But wherever it rolls really true, I like to putt good with them.
THE KRAIG KANN: Okay. So now everybody on tour knows where not to play that week. 59 weeks at No. 1 in the rankings. Let’s talk about that briefly. Stacy Lewis reclaimed No. 1 on June the 1st, and then you ended up winning a tournament right after that. How much is the ranking in your mind right now and trying to get back?
INBEE PARK: When I was No. 1, I really thought about being No. 1 or who is trying to catch me or whatever. I was looking at the rankings and that, but since I’ve got to No. 2, 3, I just seem to care less a little bit. And now until I get really close to No. 1, I probably wouldn’t even look at it.
I’m just trying to play good every tournament, and obviously I need to win a couple of tournaments before I get to that spot. So I need to do whatever I need to do before looking at the rankings.
KRAIG KANN: Last thing for me and we’ll let you get out to your pro am. This is the last stop in Rochester for now for the LPGA. Almost 40 years, 38 years here. You’re the defending champion, albeit on a different golf course. What would it mean for you to put your name on that trophy the final time here in Rochester?
INBEE PARK: I think it’ll be such an honor because being the first or being the last is always very memorable, and we have a history here and so many people have been with us here; and yeah, I think being able to put my name on the trophy in Rochester for the last time will have such a lot of meaning for me. So I’ll play as hard as I can so I’ll put my name on it again.
KRAIG KANN: You’ve given a lot to this community over the last years as the defending champion. Best of luck this week. Thank you very much for coming in.
INBEE PARK: Thanks, Kraig.
KRAIG KANN: Inbee Park.