Suzann Pettersen began her 2014 season in style on Thursday as she fired a 6-under 66 to take the first-round lead at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
The Norwegian ripped through The Victoria Golf Club recording nine birdies and three bogeys to take a 1-stroke lead over Jessica Korda, Hee Young Park, Jaclyn Sweeney, and Marion Ricordeau heading into tomorrow’s second round.
Playing in her first tournament of the 2014 season, it took Pettersen some time to get comfortable and trust the swing that led her to four victories last season. While the No. 2 ranked player in the Rolex Rankings had the comfort of mulligans throughout her practice in the offseason, the reality of being allowed to only play one ball quickly set in during today’s opening round.
“I felt like it took me a couple of holes to kind of get comfortable,” said Pettersen. “One thing is to go out and play in practice rounds and always have a second ball in the pocket to drop down if the first one didn't kind of go where you want it to be, but today it's all in. I've got to play the ball as it lies and it's a little different story when you have to put a score card in. But it was nice to kind of feel a little bit of a pump again, feel the heart and go for shots you want to hit and see how you kind of execute them.”
Despite a slow start to the day with a bogey at the par-4 10th, Pettersen had her first opportunity to fist-pump this season with a birdie at the par-4 13th. After making a par saving up-and-down from the greenside bunker on 14, Pettersen used her length to her advantage and birdied the 289-yard par-4 15th.
Pettersen would go on to return to even for the day after a bogey at the par-3 16th but quickly recovered with back-to-back birdies to make the turn at 2-under-par.
The up-and-down day showed no signs of slowing down for Pettersen as she made the turn after a bogey at the short 233-yard par-4 dropped her back to 1-under for the day. Pettersen was quickly able to recover with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 2 and 3 before reeling off three consecutive birdies on her closing holes to finish the day at 6-under-par.
Pettersen finished in a tie for 22nd at the 2012 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open and is no stranger to solid finishes in Australia. In fact, Pettersen feels so comfortable in Australia, she finds it the perfect way to kick-off her 2014 season.
“Every tournament that I come to, I'm here to win,” said Pettersen. “It doesn't matter if we're here or in Sweden, Norway, America; I play to win and I love coming here. It's been - I've had some good results here in the past. I think it's a good way to kick start a new season.”