La Costa Resort and Spa
Pre-tournament notes and interviews
March 20, 2012
Suzann Pettersen, Rolex Rankings No. 3
The LPGA Tour returns to La Costa Resort and Spa this week for the third-annual Kia Classic. Defending champion Sandra Gal will test her game on a new golf course after defeating Jiyai Shin by one stroke last season at Pacific Palms outside of Los Angeles. Gal, who fired rounds of 67-68-70-71, captured the victory with one of the season’s most dramatic shots, a clutch wedge from 83 yards to three feet for a birdie and the victory. She went on to earn five additional top-10 finishes in 2011.
The Kia Classic debuted at La Costa Resort and Spa in 2010, when sponsor exemption Hee Kyung Seo won the event as a member of the Korea LPGA (KLPGA). Seo went on to join the LPGA Tour in 2011, winning Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year honors. In 2011, the tournament moved north on I-5 due to renovations at La Costa. The 2012 edition of the Kia Classic will be played on the South Course at La Costa Resort and Spa.
Major Focus: This week’s Kia Classic is the lead-in for the first LPGA major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship. And while everyone in the 144-player field is playing to win this week at La Costa, Rolex Rankings No. 3 Suzann Pettersen acknowledged that her focus is already on getting her game in shape for Kraft.
“This week is all about trying to prepare yourself as good as possible so can you go into next week with lots of energy and kind of stress‑free,” Pettersen said.
“Preparing for next week, this is a great little track,” Pettersen said about the South Course at La Costa. “It's a good test off the tee and very small greens, so you've got to be nailing the irons to hit the greens…
Pettersen has one major title to her name, the 2007 McDonalds LPGA Championship, but she has had many close calls at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. She has finished runner-up a total of three times at the event (2007, 2008, and 2010).
“I've had so many good memories from Kraft,” Pettersen said. “The week is big enough as it is, and it kind of gets the most of you by Sunday. But it's one of my favorite tournaments. I think it's one of those courses that suits your eye, and I can't wait to go there.”
SUZANN PETTERSEN, Rolex Rankings No. 3
Q. I know you've been working hard on your putting so far this year, and I know you've been working with Dave Stockton. He's here with this week. Any specific things that you're working on with him throughout the week?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: We're trying to work on one thing. Just make it as simple as possible. Putting should be the easiest thing in the bag to do. On these greens, it's just trying to get putters that are not fluff because of all the poa annua. It's pretty simple.
Preparing for next week, this is a great little track. It's a good test off the tee and very small greens, so you've got to be nailing the irons to hit the greens.
Q. Next week is a big week with the first major of the year coming up. Does your focus change a little bit when you play in a tournament the week before a major? We know you've been close so many times at Kraft. Are there any special feelings for you every time you go to that event?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I've had so many good memories from Kraft. I've been awfully close a few times. You know, this week is all about trying to prepare yourself as good as possible so can you go into next week with lots of energy and kind of stress‑free.
You know, the week is big enough as it is, and it kind of gets the most of you by Sunday. But it's one of my favorite tournaments. I think it's one of those courses that suits your eye, and I can't wait to go there.
Q. Last week was your first week with Terry McNamara on the bag. Can you talk about what it's like having him out on the golf course and what he brings to your game now?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I've known Terry for a long time. Obviously, when he worked for Annika, we got to play a lot at Solheim. He knows my game and my personality. It's like I told him, it's been on my bucket list to once work with him.
I think it was time for a change, and there's a reason behind everything that happens. I think it was just meant to be that we're both kind of looking at the same time.
I couldn't be more happy with my caddie at the moment. Hopefully, his experience and his patience is going to kind of give me some calmness and trust my game.
Q. How do you feel about your game heading into this week and next week?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I've been playing a lot of good golf this year. It's been a slow start if you look at where I've been finishing. But if I look at the game and I evaluate the game, I feel pretty good. I've just got to keep doing what I'm doing, and hopefully I can roll in a few more putts than I did last week, and that would make a huge difference.