Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, Ghost Creek Course
North Plains, Ore.
August 21, 2011
Final-round notes and interviews
Suzann Pettersen -6, Rolex Rankings No. 3, won on the first hole of a playoff
Na Yeon Choi -6, Rolex Rankings No. 5
Hee Young Park -5, Rolex Rankings No. 70
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."
Another emotional win: While things have been clicking on the golf course for Pettersen this summer, life certainly has not been easy off of it. First there was the tragedy that struck her hometown of Oslo, Norway on July 22. A total of 77 people lost their lives in two attacks, a bombing near the government buildings in the capital city and a mass shooting at a youth camp on a nearby island.
Pettersen was grieving another loss this week after a close family friend, Amman Henneie, was killed in a skydiving accident on Wednesday back in Norway. Henneie, 29, left behind a wife and a 10-day-old son and Pettersen dedicated her victory to his memory.
"It's been a brutal summer," Pettersen said. "This last incident was just the top of the ‑‑ just, I don't know. It's, like I said, it's been very, very tough. All I can think of is my love and my hugs go to his family and his wife and his little son. It's just very, very sad."
"It makes you realize life's not all about golf," she added. "It makes you put things in perspective."
Moving on Up: Pettersen woke up on Sunday morning thinking that she was too far behind the leaders to be able to put herself into contention. So instead, she focused on another goal in order to motivate herself to shoot a low round – her spot in the Rolex Rankings.
"I'm on the range, and Dave [Brooker, Pettersen's caddy] goes you know if you shoot a low one today you might take over the number two spot in the world ranking," Pettersen said. "Sometimes you just need a few triggers like that to get an extra focus and make you wanting it because you're kind of out of the hunt, you feel like."
Of course Pettersen was able to shoot a low enough round to put her right back in the mix for another victory, but she also accomplished that second goal. When the Rolex Rankings are released on Monday, Pettersen will jump ahead of Cristie Kerr to take over the No. 2 spot.
"No. 2 ranking doesn't really mean much to me," Pettersen said. "I'm trying to chase down Yani. To chase down her, you've got to win tournaments. I went one step in the right direction."
|Na Yeon Choi|
Choi birdied No. 10 but a bogey on No. 13 forced to give up at least a share of the lead for the first time all day. Still the 2010 Vare Trophy winner managed to come to the 18th hole with a one-shot lead thanks to birdies on 15 and 17. But Choi found trouble on 18 after she hit her second shot just over the green. After leaving her chip shot about 12 feet short, Choi missed her par putt to force the playoff with Pettersen and she to settle for her first runner-up finish of 2011, which was her sixth top-10 finish of the year.
"First of all, congratulations to Suzann," Choi said. "She played so well today. I shot 2‑over par, and it's not a great score, but she played so well. She did a really good job.
"Like in the playoff, I just hit it and missed the shot, and it's my fault. I think I got still great experience. Like if I have next time like same situation I'll be better than the other player, right? So I got some here. So just not disappointed and I keep trusting myself, and I'm doing great. So we'll see next week."
Golden ticket winners: Hee Young Park, Vicky Hurst, and Ryann O'Toole punched their "Ticket to CME Group Titleholders" at the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola, each earning a spot in the season-ending CME Group Titleholders event, which will be held Nov. 17-20, 2011 at Grand Cypress Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The inaugural CME Group Titleholders, a season finale with a field made up of three qualifiers from every LPGA Tour tournament, is a format never previously used in professional golf.
Of Note… Hee Young Park bogeyed the 18th hole to miss being in the playoff by one shot. Park finished in third place alone at 5-under-par…Defending champion Ai Miyazato shot a 3-under 68 in Sunday's final round to finish in a tie for eight at 1-under-par…The Safeway Classic set a record for attendance at 88,100 fans over the course of the three-day tournament…The final round scoring average of 72.720 was the lowest of the three rounds.
SUZANN PETTERSEN, Rolex Rankings No. 3
THE MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome the 2011 Safeway Classic champion Suzann Pettersen into the interview room, starting the day nine shots back of the leader. Kind of take me through your day and kind of what your emotions were going from the moment you teed off until winning?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Wow, I definitely didn't think I was going to sit here when when I started the day warming up. But I teed off, and my caddie told me, you know, if we have a good one today, we might be able to pass Cristie on the World Ranking. Just something to have some motivation to go out.
We got off it to a pretty good start. Gave myself a lot of chances, missed the short putt on 8. I really thought I had no chance and just tried to grind. I knew people ahead of me weren't doing too much, but I never saw the leaders are going to kind of end up where they did. Made a fantastic eagle on 10, and a birdie on 11 and a great par save on 12.
From then I just thought try to get a few more birdies and then I had to wait two hours for the other girls to finish. That was probably the tough part is I had to start all over again. I couldn't ask for a better pin placement on 18. It really suits my go‑to shots. When I was in the first one to hit, I thought it would be good to just give it a go and put the pressure on her. So it was a good shot, and I made my good par.
Q. What did you do for those two hours?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, went up to the clubhouse, saw the chiropractor, had a few cracks. Yeah, he popped a few joints. Tried to sneak out the names of the picks of Rosie and the U.S. captain. Just trying to get time running.
Q. I know it's been an emotional summer for you with what happened in Norway this week and you dedicating this win to your friend. Can you just talk about what this summer has been like off the course?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I don't think we can take anymore back home. It's been a brutal summer. This last incident was just the top of the ‑‑ just, I don't know. It's, like I said, it's been very, very tough. All I can think of is my love and my hugs go to his family and his wife and his little son. It's just very, very sad.
To pass away at 29 years old is way too early, but he left this place doing what he loved to do. So I guess that's the only kind of thing you can look back at and say he did what he loved to do. But anyway, it's tragic. It was nice to go ahead and play some golf and put life in perspective. Even though I didn't feel great in my game. I dug deep, and grind, and made a few putts on the back nine.
Q. What does it mean to you with how you played this week that you take over the No. 2 spot in the Rolex Rankings?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah, well, No. 2 ranking doesn't really mean much to me. I'm trying to chase down Yani. To chase down her, you've got to win tournaments. I went one step in the right direction. 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.
Q. Can you talk about on the playoff hole, talk about your drive? First you got a good kick out there, and what was the go‑to shot? Can you describe what was your go‑to shot?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I've been aiming down that left side all week long. You never get a huge bounce coming off there. Even if it stays out there, it leaves you a pretty good angle. But 9 out of 10 shots are always going to jump back out to the fairway, that is one thing I've learned over the years playing this course.
I mean, I can hit draw, I can hit fade, and my go‑to shot is a fade. I took a little off, and I told my caddie, There is no point anywhere from this pin, and I hit it pretty good. It was just two or three inches too long. It stayed on the green. Me being the first one to hit, I thought I had to put the pressure on first. So good shot, good execution.
Q. Can you describe your eagle on number 10?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah, it was like two inches too short. Yeah, it was as close as you can get, I guess, but I left it short.
Q. What was the club you hit?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I hit a 3‑wood. Little nice draw 3‑wood. It was 240 out and got the right bounce. It was a bit of an aggressive line, but I got the right bounce and perfect.
Q. Did you come in thinking of a number today or anything like that?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: You know what, we tried to go out and make birdies. To be honest, I never thought 6‑under was going to do it. But around this place, you can make birdies, but if you miss greens, it's hard to get up‑and‑down, especially with the greens being this firm.
So I don't know. I'm a bit surprised. But that's a good thing. When you can post a low number, you can sit and relax and wait for the other ones.
Q. When you're isolated in first place, does your mind play tricks on you when you're that far in front of everybody else?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I really don't know how far. I know she shot 6‑under in the first round and then she was three shots ahead. Three shots is nothing out here. You see that's the thing. You have three shots and you never feel secure or safe.
I can't talk on her behalf, but you've got to go out and try to play your own game. Like I said, I never thought 6‑under. I never paid attention to the board. I looked at the board on 17. I saw my name in that little window, and it said T‑1. I'm like,
(From earlier interview with Pettersen after her round ended)
SUZANN PETTERSEN: His nickname is Annan. Close family. Just one of those friends that you've been growing up with and you have all the same friends. It's just tragic, 29 years old.
Q. What is his last name?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Henneie. I mean, it's just absolutely terrible. He left a 10‑day old boy. Got married this spring. So it's just very, very ‑‑ it's been a tough summer. It just feels like I don't feel we can take anymore right now, so, yeah.
Q. You said you still weren't totally pleased with your game. What did you mean by that?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I'm putting good. I've been putting good all this summer. I'm very happy with my new putter. It seems like coming down the stretch, it just seems to click. I burned a few edges yesterday. Burned a few edges early today. Burned a few that I felt like I should have made, but managed to get back in it and give myself a chance and just captivated the few that I had.
Q. How long was your eagle putt on 10?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: It was about three inches. It was almost in. It was just short.
Q. Have you ever had a double eagle before?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: No, I don't think I have. I left it short.
Q. I apologize. I didn't hear what happened to your friend.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: He died in a skydiving accident.
Q. When you started today, like you were saying before, you were nine shots back. How do you kind of prepare yourself mentally for a round today?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, I'm on the range, and Dave [Brooker, her caddy] goes you know if you shoot a low one today you might take over the number two spot in the world ranking. Sometimes you just need a few triggers like that to get an extra focus and make you wanting it because you're kind of out of the hunt, you feel like.
But I might have a chance. I think I'll fall short. I think some of those girls will make some birdies coming in, but overall, very, very pleased with the first week back.
Q. Did you change your approach or just go for pins or anything like that?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: If you have a pretty good club in your hand with the yards she had, I just told her there is no point trying to fire away from the pin. Like on 11, I knew it was enough club to kind of go after it. So sometimes you've got to risk to get some reward, and yeah.
Q. On 17, did you hit the same club that you hit two years ago during the playoff?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Thanks for reminding me.
Q. Yeah, sorry.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: No, it's actually a new club. It it's not the same club.
Q. But because of the way that finished?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah, but that's two years ago. I feel like I can hit a lot more different shots now.
Q. Just overall with how you've played this summer, going back to Sybase and capturing that win, and the win at the Ladies Irish Open and now playing this way today, how pleased are you with your game overall?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Overall, I feel good. Now I just feel like I can relax and enjoy it. I feel like I've kind of proven to myself that I won here. I won in Europe. It just makes you more relaxed. You know, I don't know. You just go out with the lower shoulders.
I guess I'm just trying to enjoy it, don't get upset with bad shots and just looking at a challenge. I mean, I had a terrible tee shot on 12. I mean, I wasn't even close to the green on my second shot. You just see the chance and trying to get up‑and‑down. It's actually quite fun.
Q. That was a great shot on 18 too. How was your lie on that?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: It was pretty good. But you've still got to pull it off and trust the putt, so, yeah.
Q. Did you know what Na Yeon was doing that she had gone to five?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I hadn't watched the leaderboard at all. I never thought it was going to be close.
NA YEON CHOI, Rolex Rankings No. 5
Q. A tough day but can you talk about your round and the finish in the playoff?
NA YEON CHOI: First of all, congratulations to Suzann. She played so well today. I shot 2‑over par, and it's not a great score, but she played so well. She did a really good job.
Like in the playoff, I just hit it and missed the shot, and it's my fault. I think I got still great experience. Like if I have next time like same situation I'll be better than the other player, right? So I got some here. So just not disappointed and I keep trusting myself, and I'm doing great. So we'll see like next week.
HEE YOUNG PARK,
Rolex Rankings No. 70
HEE YOUNG PARK: Yeah, well, I played well. Actually this golf course every year, this is my third year, but every year like Top 10 or around there. So I just felt like just very calm and comfortable. Yesterday afternoon and today little bit disappointed with my putt.
But I just pretty good worked with my caddie, and I just enjoyed it and everything's fine. Even I didn't realize finish the 18 putt and then I didn't know the leaderboard or like the leader. So I was happy, yeah.
Q. Did you know that you were tied for the lead?
HEE YOUNG PARK: No, I didn't know that. Because Na Yeon and a few girls pretty good are already there. So I thought just forget about it and just play. I think that's a lot of help. I tried to keep avoiding the leaderboard. Like, oh, just keep playing, you know. Just like that and then everything's good.
Then 18 just happened, and my second shot I little bit I pulled it in the rough. But the lie was like a little bit difficult lie, so I couldn't do that any. But I was happy.
Q. I was going to say, so close, but still have to be pleased with the way you were able to and hopefully carry it on to next week too.
HEE YOUNG PARK: Yeah.