Suzann Pettersen closed with a 3-under 69 in the final round and held off a charging Brittany Lang on Sunday to claim her 15th LPGA Tour victory at the Manulife LPGA Classic. Pettersen, who led by one shot heading into the final round, got off to a shaky start with two bogeys in her first five holes. The Norwegian didn’t record a single bogey in the first 55 holes of the week.
“I felt it was tougher today,” said Pettersen. “For me, some stupid mistakes early on but I kept digging deep and finished strong and I feel like I played really good golf this week. So I’m really excited for next week and it’s nice to be back.”
Back-to-back birdies on Nos. 8 and 9 got her back into a tie for the lead with playing partners Cristie Kerr and Mariajo Uribe at 19-under par.
“I made a good birdie on 8, backed it up with a tap in birdie on 9 and hit a great 4 iron to 10 and kind of felt like that set the pace a little bit,” said Pettersen. “Eagled 12, it was a little bit of a game changer. I knew the scores were not as low as it has been early in the week, but I was still trying to get to my number. I didn’t get there but it was good enough.”
After rolling in a 25-foot eagle putt on the 12th and extending her lead to two shots, Kerr responded with a short birdie putt to get back within one. Pettersen’s chip into the par 4 13th hole rolled away 15 feet past the hole and was unable to convert for par. Her third bogey of the day dropped her back into a tie with Kerr at 20-under par with five holes to play. But Kerr turned out to not be Pettersen’s main challenger down the final stretch. Brittany Lang, the 2012 winner of the event and playing two groups in front of Pettersen had the low round of the day by two shots, a 7-under 65.
“Yeah, feel great. I got a little nervous towards the back nine,” said Lang. “I played great all week and I really was in control of my shots and my emotions towards the end, so it’s all you can ask for, to be clutch and make birdies, so very proud.”
The 29-year old American birdied three of her final four holes to get within one shot of the lead at 21-under par. But Pettersen would close with birdies on Nos. 16 and 17 to get to 22-under and had a tap-in par putt on the last to seal the win. She said she didn’t look at the leaderboard late in the round and thought she had a bigger cushion on her last two holes.
“I actually thought I was two or three clear standing on 17,” said Pettersen. “I was asked if I knew where I was and I said no. They said you need a couple more birdies. I think that made 17 a little easier because I thought I had much more of a cushion. Brittany had finished so strong. Very happy with the way I played and the way I handled myself.”
Pettersen said she will enjoy the victory for one night then turn her attention to Westchester Country Club where the Tour’s second major will take place next week for the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. She said her win today is great motivation to continue her strong play leading into the summer stretch that includes three majors in six weeks.
“I hope I didn’t peak one week early,” Pettersen joked. “But this is just a start, this is what I’ve been working for. I’m starting to feel that the process is kind of coming together. This is a start of a big summer. Next week is obviously our second major of the year, but we also have other great majors lined up three or four out. There’s a lot to be done and you can’t sit and enjoy this week for too long because already we’ve got to go out and do some preparation on the new course.”