Suzann Pettersen was Up to the Challenge Presented by Prudential at the Safeway Classic.
Suzann Pettersen rallied from nine shots back on Sunday to win the 2011 Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola, recording a par on the 18th hole to defeat Rolex Rankings No. 5 Na Yeon Choi on the first hole of a playoff. Pettersen fired the lowest round of the week, a 7-under 64, on the Ghost Creek Course at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club and finished her round nearly two hours before Choi bogeyed the 18th hole to force the playoff.
In the playoff, Choi's second shot on the par-4 18th went into the water to the right of the green, and she missed a putt for bogey before Pettersen, who had lost in a playoff to M.J. Hur at the 2009 Safeway Classic, sank her winning par putt.
Pettersen, who is a native of Norway, entered Sunday at 1-over-par, trailing second-round leader Choi by nine shots, but a strong day with her putter helped her to stake the impressive comeback. Pettersen had five birdies and one eagle on No. 10, which was nearly an albatross as Pettersen joked she had to sink just a two-inch putt, en route to putting herself at the top of the leaderboard.
This is Pettersen's second LPGA Tour title of the year and the eighth of her career. She also won the 2011 Sybase Match Play Championship back in May. Petterson, who recently captured the Ladies European Tour's Ladies Irish Open at Killeen Castle on Aug. 7, will now move up to No. 2 in the Rolex Rankings behind World No. 1 Yani Tseng.
"I definitely didn't think I was going to sit here when I started the day warming up," Pettersen said after her victory. "It was nice to have a back-to-back win, Ireland and here, and my full-time caddie on the bag this week. So now this is really a bonus coming off a five-day vacation back home. I did not anticipate this, but I'll take it."
There were a couple of rookies making some noise at the Safeway Classic on Saturday including Ryann O'Toole who fired a 2-under 69 to move into a tie for fifth, six shots behind the leader Choi. O'Toole is currently second in the race for the 2011 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year with 144 points. She trails Hee Kyung Seo, who holds a significant lead in the race with 449 points. Seo found herself on the leaderboard for part of the day Saturday before finishing with back-to-back bogeys that dropped her to 2-over-par for the tournament.
Although O'Toole is a rookie, this isn't the first time she's found herself in contention entering the final day of a tournament. O'Toole finished ninth at this year's U.S. Women's Open at The Broadmoor in July and that experience seemed to have helped her.
"To finally get in and get a few events under my belt and qualify for the U.S. Women's Open, it just felt like things were finally coming around," O'Toole said. "I mean I played well last years on the Futures Tour, so I knew that I was ready to come out here and do my thing. I went from trying to just make cuts and get my feet wet to after the Open realize that, hey, Top 10 is in my grasp every time. So you know, I'm setting new goals and trying to just take it one step at a time, not try to jump too far. I mean if a win comes, awesome. I'm going to play my game and play one shot at a time, but I'm just going to take it as that."