South Korea's Meena Lee beat Seon Hwa Lee in a playoff to win the LPGA's Fields Open on Saturday. The victory is the second of Lee's career and marks a South Korea sweep of the LPGA's two Hawaiian events after Joo Mi Kim won the season-opening SBS Open.
For many, the real story of the event, however, was Michelle Wie, who made a strong charge on the final day only to finish one shot back of the leaders at 13-under. Wie, playing her first full-field LPGA event as a professional, shot a final-round 66 to earn her first professional paycheck of $73,227.
Here is what Meena Lee, Seon Hwa Lee and Wie had to say following the event:
Question: This is your second career victory. Talk about that, what an exciting finish and the birdie putt to get your victory.
Meena Lee: I never thought about ... winning today, because there was too much gap between the leader at the beginning of today. But after the eagle on the second hole and I had luck of playing well today, so I had a great day.
Q. Talk about the eagle on the second hole.
Meena Lee: I hit a driver and then I had a 9 wood lose, but the sun was in my eyes and I tried to hit it. And I hit it and I didn't see the ball go in. But the gallery was shouting and screaming, so I knew it went in.
Q. When did you realize you were in first place?
Meena Lee: I had been looking at the scoreboard all along.
Q. How worried were you about Michelle Wie?
Meena Lee: I was worried about all the players who are at the top of the leaderboard, not just Michelle.
Q. Michelle's group was in front of you guys and I'm sure you had a pretty hard time playing because you were behind Michelle group.
Meena Lee: Because there were so many gallery following Michelle, Michelle's group, and we had to wait longer for the gallery to clear off for the second shot.
Q. What do you think about the other Lee? She is 20 years old, feisty, played solid yesterday and today. What do you know about her?
Meena Lee: I know that she wasn't on Tour last year. I have played in Korea with her before and I have won a playoff with her before.
Q. Do you remember the name of the event?
Meena Lee: 2002 SK Invitation. She doesn't have emotions coming out her face. She is calm. She is a very good player.
Q. You've been in a playoff before. Does that give you confidence?
Meena Lee: It could be, and it might be just my luck, but I haven't lost a playoff. Every time I have a playoff (four). I haven't lost any of them.
Question: It was a three-hole playoff. You played extremely well last week at the SBS Open, and you got into a playoff here this week. Is this a good way to start the year for you?
Seon Hwa Lee: I wanted it to be a good start, so I worked hard with my coach, Mike Bender, so I practiced a lot.
Q: Can you talk about today? You had the lead going in. You played well today and then you got into the playoff.
Seon Hwa Lee: I already had a playoff with Meena in Korea, but I lose, so today I lose again. I'm a little disappointed but I'll keep trying.
Q. What do you feel about this playoff, because it's your second playoff in the U.S.?
Seon Hwa Lee: I had a little pressure because I want to win, but I keep trying to win. I'll have another chance, I think.
Question: Great tournament, you finished 14-under. You played specifically well, especially today. Talk about your the tournament and your high finish.
Michelle Wie: I played awesome today. I felt I played very solid today, but unfortunately, not the way I wanted it to turn out. I'm happy with the way I played. I played solid and I know what to work on for the next tournament so I feel ready.
Q. You talked a little bit about the crowd on TV. What was your sense that you were getting from them?
Michelle Wie: It was awesome. The positive energy I received from the crowd today was awesome. I felt like I basically knew half the people in the gallery. It was awesome. Just the people following me, rooting for me, especially walking down the 18th hole. It felt awesome.
Q. How bad do you wish this was a 72-hole event so you could have another crack at them? And second, how many times have you seen that putt on 18?
Michelle Wie: Well, really, right now sitting here I really wish it was a 72-hole event. And that putt on 18, I basically hit that a lot. I mean, I play here, and I putted that putt a lot. So I felt comfortable over it. And then once I hit it, it went in the completely opposite direction I wanted it to. It was supposed to go left to right almost straight, but that thing curved left. So I guess that wasn't meant to be.
Q. How do you like what you did today?
Michelle Wie: I felt awesome that I came back from a kind of so-so round yesterday and my game was very solid today. I felt like I was nailing every putt, every shot and I think that's very important for the next tournament, the confidence that I have.
Q. Did you have fun playing with Morgan?
Michelle Wie: Yes, it was great. She is a nice girl. She played good. Carla struggled a bit at the end, but she's a very talented player. I think she'll do really well this year.
Q. Your scores this week are so impressive, is it more reflective of how your game is maturing or your confidence on this course or both?
Michelle Wie: Both. It's how much I worked on my game, mentally and physically. And you know, I felt like my endurance was higher than other tournaments. I felt like I finished strong, and I've been working with Jim Meier, my psychologist, and I have been working on trying to make me feel good and things like that, and he's been dog a good job.
I've been working really hard day-in and day-out and I think it shows, and Ko Olina is almost my home course, basically, and I feel comfortable here. The gallery was great. Everything was awesome.
Q. Do you think that's a big part of it, the mental strategy? Now you're really starting to hone in on your game. Just what you do mentally, is that a big part for you?
Michelle Wie: Yes, I think so. The mental part of the game is very important in golf, especially because it's four and a half, five hours long and you have a lot of breaks in between the shots. And I think the mental part of the game was very was a very important part, and hopefully I can get better as I get older and have more experience under my belt.
Q. Your next event is the Nabisco, which is four or five weeks from now. Anything you'll work on between now and then? And how difficult is it to play well when you have such gaps in between?
Michelle Wie: Well, with this round I want to play next week because I feel I'm right on my game. I'll work on my driver, my short game, wedges, putting, I can improve on that. And I have a lot to work on. I'm looking forward to working on it for the Kraft.
Q. How nice would it have been to have won here and not have to listen to that anymore?
Michelle Wie: Well, I mean, there is a lot of what if, what if, would have been, it would be nice. I would have been awesome if I had won, but unfortunately it didn't happen this week, but hopefully it will happen in the next one.
Transcripts provided by ASAP Sports.
February 27, 2006
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