Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship
Sunrise Golf & Country Club
Yang Mei, Taoyuan, Taiwan
Final-Round Notes and Interviews
October 27, 2013
Suzann Pettersen fired a final-round 3-under 69 to claim her 14th career LPGA Tour victory and successfully defend her title at the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship. It was a head-to-head battle with Spaniard Azahara Munoz throughout the day but Pettersen pulled away late in the round to secure a five-stroke victory and clinch her fourth win of the season.
“It feels great to come here and defend my title and play as well as I did,” said Pettersen. “It was very tough out there. Since the very first shot on Thursday, the conditions gave us a very big challenge. Today, Azahara gave me an even bigger challenge. She played really good on the front nine -- well, she played really good all around. I think I can almost thank her for keep pressing and keep pushing me because I just had to keep staying aggressive and try to make birdies.”
Pettersen entered the final-round with a four-stroke lead and the Norwegian would be the first to strike on Sunday with a birdie at the second.
Just when Pettersen seemed to be cruising to the victory, Munoz began staging a comeback and pulled within three-strokes of the lead after a birdie at the fourth. Pettersen continued to see her lead slip through her fingertips after an untimely bogey at the par-5 ninth reduced her lead over Munoz to a mere one-stroke.
Pettersen would maintain a one-stroke lead until Munoz pulled within even with a birdie at the par-4 12th.
Just as soon as Pettersen saw her lead fade, she quickly regained control after back-to-back birdies at Nos. 13 and 14 left her with a comfortable three-stroke lead.
“She (Munoz) was hot -- to birdie 12, that was quite a birdie, quite an approach for me,” said Pettersen. “That was a huge putt; gave her a two-shot swing on 12. On 13, I can go for it. I have enough clubs, I have the shots to do it but I didn't know if it was the right time. We thought it would be as easy -- it's not that hard of a wedge shot so we played it kind of the traditional way, and I think the wind switched a little bit on us as she was over the ball. She was in a tough spot, and unfortunately made a bogey, and it gave me a little bit of a cushion. But at the same time, I wasn't really paying too much attention to her. I had 10-under par as my goal to get to.”
Pettersen would cruise throughout the remainder of her final round at Sunrise Golf & Country Club and birdie the par-5 18th to successfully defend her title for the first-time on the LPGA Tour. While Munoz and Pettersen engaged in a head-to-head battle throughout the majority of Sunday, Pettersen admitted it helped her focus during the final round.
“For me, it was to keep pushing and keep pressing,” said Pettersen. “I birdied the next, I had a good putt on 15 to have another birdie. I had a chance on 17, and then I made the putt on 18. So for me, 10-under was my goal. That's kind of where I tried to keep my focus. But obviously the way it ended up, it was literally a race between her and me.”
With the win, Pettersen crossed the $2 million mark in season earnings with $2,241,847 and moves within $93,613 of Inbee Park on the LPGA Official Money List.
Ready for the challenge… In her 11-year career on the LPGA Tour, Suzann Pettersen has held the No. 2 position in the Rolex Rankings to an elite list of number ones including Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa, Yani Tseng and Inbee Park. After claiming her fourth victory this season at the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship, the Norwegian is inching closer to not only obtaining the No. 1 ranking in the Rolex Rankings but also to surpassing Park in the Rolex Player of the Year race and LPGA Official Money List.
“Yeah, being No. 2 is pretty much the first loser and I've been No. 2 behind four great No. 1s,” said Pettersen. “I've been No. 2 behind Annika, I was No. 2 behind Lorena, I was No. 2 behind Yani and I'm 2 behind Inbee.”
While Pettersen still ranks behind Park, a string of solid tournaments that has included three wins and two top-3 finishes in her previous five tournaments has her within striking distance. With only three tournaments remaining on this year’s LPGA Tour schedule, time is running out for Pettersen but according to 14 time LPGA Tour winner, this is the first time she has been prepared to hold the number one spot.
“The first couple times I felt maybe a little bit immature,” said Pettersen. “I didn't feel quite ready to take on that role. Now, I feel my game is progressing. It's getting stronger. I think personally, mentally, I'm ready to take on No. 1. That's pretty much -- that's my drive, that's my goal. I want to dominate ladies golf and to do that, you've got to go out and you've got to be comfortable with big leads.”
Golden Ticket Winners: Azahara Munoz, Mina Harigae, and Mi Jung Hur punched their "Ticket to CME Group Titleholders" at the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship, each earning a spot in the season-ending CME Group Titleholders event, which will be held Nov. 21-24, 2012 in Naples, Fla. The third-annual CME Group Titleholders is a season finale with a field made up of three qualifiers from every LPGA Tour tournament.
THE MODERATOR: I'd like to welcome our 2013 Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship winner, Suzann Pettersen, into the interview room.
Suzann, your first time successfully defending your title at a tournament. How does it feel?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: It feels great to come here and defend my title and play as well as I did. It was very tough out there. Since the very first shot on Thursday, the conditions gave us a very big challenge.
Today, Azahara gave me an even bigger challenge. She played really good on the front nine -- well, she played really good all around. I think I can almost thank her for keep pressing and keep pushing me because I just had to keep staying aggressive and try to make birdies.
So it was a great result for me. I kind of -- it's almost hard when you have a big lead and you go out and obviously you want to win, but this course, nothing -- you're only one shot away from a disaster out here. Just tried to keep my head straight and do what I'm supposed to do.
THE MODERATOR: We were just talking how you're inching closer to Inbee with every tournament; do you think about it more now that you've won?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Obviously I know to be able to get to where I want to be, I have to win tournaments and I have to take advantage of every week that I play. I've played really solid now for quite a while. It's been a good run for me. Winning Evian was obviously a huge high. I took three weeks off after. It was tough to take China off. Especially when you're playing well, you always want to keep playing.
But at the same time, you want to restore the energy and play fresh all over. It's been a good stretch for me in Asia. I feel very confident going back to the U.S. playing in México next. Now that I have a chance to almost compete for the overall Money List, and hopefully maybe also the World Rankings by the end of the year.
So I'm very pleased the way everything is going. I've just got to keep the pedal to the metal.
Q. How important was No. 13 to you to win the tournament?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: She was hot -- to birdie 12, that was quite a birdie, quite an approach for me. That was a huge putt; gave her a two-shot swing on 12. On 13, I can go for it. I have enough clubs, I have the shots to do it but I didn't know if it was the right time. We thought it would be as easy -- it's not that hard of a wedge shot so we played it kind of the traditional way, and I think the wind switched a little bit on us as she was over the ball. She was in a tough spot, and unfortunately made a bogey, and it gave me a little bit of a cushion. But at the same time, I wasn't really paying too much attention to her. I had 10-under par as my goal to get to.
So for me, it was to keep pushing and keep pressing. I birdied the next. I had a good putt on 15 to have another birdie. I had a chance on 17, and then I made the putt on 18. So for me, 10-under was my goal. That's kind of where I tried to keep my focus. But obviously the way it ended up, it was literally a race between her and me.
But at the same time, the way she played, she almost made me focus and kind of recharge even better.
Q. You've been in this position many times before; does it feel different this time around? You're breathing down Inbee Park's neck.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah, being No. 2 is pretty much the first loser and I've been No. 2 behind four great No. 1s. I've been the number behind Annika. I was No. 2 behind Lorena. I was No. 2 behind Yani and I'm 2 behind Inbee.
So I obviously feel -- the first couple times I felt maybe a little bit immature. I didn't feel quite ready to take on that role. Now, I feel my game is progressing. It's getting stronger. I think personally, mentally, I'm ready to take on No. 1. That's pretty much -- that's my drive, that's my goal. I want to dominate ladies golf and to do that, you've got to go out and you've got to be comfortable with big leads.
You've got to go out and try and get the job done, even though it might be tough, every day and every round, you try to get better, and trying to get mentally tougher. I'm trying to work on every aspect of the game to make me ready to take on hopefully the top spot on the World Rankings.
Q. Compared with the 2007, you won five times in that year, and this year, also this is your fifth victory. What does this one mean to you?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, I've only won four on the LPGA but five obviously with my win in China early on. I feel like I'm a much better golfer than 2007. It's been a great ride from -- I mean, really you've just got to try and enjoy every moment, every run that you get on, because the highs are high, but I mean, sometimes you go through times where it's tougher. You don't have the margins on your side. But I think you learn from everything, and the years between 2007 and now has made me a better golfer. And I'm just very happy the way things is looking. My body is healthy. My game is in a good spot.
I mean, I'm a grinder. I love to practice. I love to prepare myself, and then it's even better to go out and get the job done.
Q. Many young players tend to get a taste of success at a very young age, at 20 or 21, but that success doesn't last long. So now players seem to peak around 30, probably your age. Annika encourages not to turn pro when you're young. You personally had many up-and-downs, and now you're in your prime, 32 years of age. What's your take on this?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: You know, time has changed since I first turned pro. I mean, I finished my school back in Norway. It was either for me go to college in the U.S. or turning professional.
For me, I knew what I wanted, and for me, it was just to postpone something that I really wanted to do, going to college. So I decided to turn pro, and I played two years in Europe before I kind of went to the LPGA and qualified for that tour.
For me, that was a great road. The thing is, you have to find what suits your personality and your life. That being said, I mean, since I joined this tour, I mean, the amount of young players coming out at a very early age, I mean, young age -- I mean, 16, 17, 18, they are so good.
I mean, I can understand that it's hard for them not -- you almost get impatient, because all they want to do is go out to compete and they are good enough to win out here. Lydia Ko has won. She's 16. She's won pretty much half the events she's teed up in in the professional events. She chased me down in a major championship. She's good enough. She's got the game, so I can understand that it's very tough not to be tempted to kind of rush into everything.
But that being said, at least in golf, you have the age on your side. I think you get better and better. If you train smart and listen to your body, I think age will be your best friend, and I'm now drawing on a lot of experience that I've had over the last -- in my 20s, and learning from it and it makes you stronger.
Q. You got really nice body shape and it's very solid. Do you do any extra sports like physical training?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: For me, golf -- being a professional golfer is a lifestyle. You can choose to take that on in your own way. For me, it's a 24/7 job. I put my fitness probably as important as my golf, knowing that my body is my biggest and most important tool.
I know if my body is functioning and my body is strong, it's easy for me to do what I want to do on the golf course. For me, it's being fit and healthy gives me a lot of confidence, gives me mental strength, and I love to work out. That's my getaway place. It's not like someone back home is telling me, you've got to go do this and this. For me, it's in my heart. I love getting after it. I love getting better and I love to push the limits.
Q. Do you feel differently winning this year from last year?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Every win is different. I feel like I have a little bit more confidence this time around than last year. But I also feel like the last 12 months have made me a stronger player. I feel like it's been a good year overall, and I feel ready to take on these challenges. And it's fun. It's different players, different conditions. It's hard to kind of put it side-by-side, but I mean, every win is different. Each win has its story. It was great to come back in. I think this is my first time defending, and to do it here in Taiwan in front of all of these Taiwanese friends and all the friends I've made coming here over the years, it's great.
Q. You came up just short, but good day overall?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Yeah, it was really good. I was 4-under through 12 holes, and I was really playing really well. I made two bogeys coming in but I hit two really good shots and one came up short and one came up long, just misjudged the wind a little bit but I played really well and I had a chance and I'm happy with my week.
Q. What did you think this morning waking up; did you know that you had to go pretty low to catch her?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Yeah, she's playing really well, so you know that she's going to come out strong and play good. But she's leading, so she's not -- I was thinking she wasn't going to go 5- or 6-under, but, you know, when I was 4-under through two, obviously I had a chance, we were tied, but she's a really good player. She made three birdies coming in and that was it.
Q. We talked yesterday about how you've been playing recently and seems like your game has really taken form again; what does this do for your confidence this week?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: It does a lot. Well, France help a lot, and I've been playing so bad all year and finally I played a good golf tournament and won in Europe.
The last couple weeks I've been playing well but every day something happens, like, I don't know, I hit one out-of-bounds or I miss short putts or whatever. Finally this week I put four good rounds and I'm really happy.
Q. What are your plans the rest of the year?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: I'm playing Lorena and then Naples.
Q. So how are you feeling going forward?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: I'm feeling good. I'm have an invite in Loren and I'm happy to qualify for CME this week and I'm just going to keep having fun on the golf course and hopefully I'll get to see my coach again before Lorena and keep playing like this.
Q. You and Suzann were members of two Solheim Cup teams; did that make it any more special today?
AZAHARA MUNOZ: Yeah, I love playing with her. We are pretty good friends and we had a good chat out there. You know, it's fun, when you play with people that you like, it's much more enjoyable, so it's good.