|Interviews with Suzann Pettersen: Individual Professional Strokeplay Champion, Team Korea and Shanshan Feng.|
Suzann Pettersen: Individual Professional Strokeplay Champion
Your first time at Mission Hills Haikou and you won the tournament! How does it feel?
It’s been a fantastic experience to come here. I’ve always been very curious what Mission Hills is all about. I’ve heard so much about it from friends and fellow competitors around the world who have been here and talking so highly of it. It was one of the reasons I really wanted to come here and see this event, I just wanted to see it with my own eyes and it’s an amazing place. They have a fantastic facility. If you’re a golfer, if you just like to hang around the spa, I guess. It’s a nice combination for me to come here and play well, get my first win of the year. Like I said, Asia has brought good fortune to me when it comes to winning tournaments. I’m just glad I can add China to that list.
It seems like you saved your best with a 66. Is that a fair assessment?
Yeah. I was a little bit disappointed yesterday, not finishing stronger, coming down the stretch. Maybe I was stressed about finishing before it got dark. I felt like there was a 64 out there today and I got off to a good start. My goal was to get it to 20 under par. I said if I get beat at 20, I can live with it. I know Inbee is in there and if she just gets one look at a putt, it’s in, so I had to bring my best and the putter was hot today. I’m very happy with how the game is and I’m just very happy to see the work that the China Golf Association does with the kids and how they grow the game. As an ambassador of R&A and trying to grow the game around the world, it’s nice to come here to China and see all the kids out playing and enjoying watching and being inspired by Shanshan and all these great Chinese players.
What was the mindset going into the final round of the tournament?
First of all yesterday was a very good day. It was a solid day. I was happy to see Carlota play. I’ve never played with her and I’m sure she is going to be a part of The Solheim Cup team, so I was kind of excited to see her game and get to know her a bit better inside the ropes. No surprise that I have to compete against the Koreans! They seem to be everywhere we play and Inbee is a fantastic player, world class player and no surprise she’s up there delivering the goods when she really has to. She’s had a good start to the year and I knew it would take the best to get this trophy but I was really keen on winning this tournament and it sets me up for a good start for this new year.
It is the second time you’re coming from behind Inbee Park, if you remember Taiwan. Any preparation yesterday night?
No, not really. I’ve been really enjoying myself here and I feel comfortable. I like coming back and playing on the European Tour. I feel like it’s… I allow myself to be comfortable. I try to use it as a good confidence boost to bring back to the US. I must say, I feel like this is my house, and this is not Inbee’s house.
How will you celebrate the first victory of 2013?
You know, it’s going to be a good one. I’m going to get my suitcase ready, get on the plane and probably spend the next 20 hours up in the air, so I’ll have plenty of time to think about it. It’s just kind of the lifestyle we live. You don’t get to have all these parties to enjoy your trophies and victories but I know all the hard work that goes behind it and for me it’s more the feel of finishing on the last hole that gives me the best feel and the best memory. I wish I could have stayed to have a nice celebration here at Mission Hills but unfortunately I have to get on a plane tonight and get ready for next week.
How does this compare to your last battle with Inbee?
I don’t really look too much at the players around me. It happened to be Inbee that was in the final group in Taiwan as well. I really try to post a number. I got off to a dream start and managed to get a few early birdies, put a little pressure on, showing her that I was here, present, come to give her a battle and she bounces back around the turn with three birdies within four or five holes. We all bring the best out of each other and I think it elevates the game and women’s golf, the competition down to the bitter end. I’m just very happy that I managed to get this one this time.
How were the conditions?
This course has been phenomenal. I think the greens over the last couple of days have firmed up a little bit, hardened up a little bit and at times been a little bit speedier than the first couple of days. I guess there’s not that much humidity here and with the hot weather and a little bit of wind it kind of dries out the green fast. I guess when you harden the greens you have to be a little creative to get it close at times and I guess that also plays into my favour.
Do you feel like the world champion?
I guess with the title I can call myself the World Champion. I’m not sure if I’m going to put the jersey on like they do in cycling and travel round with the jersey on for the next year. It’s a very nice trophy to add to my list of wins in Asia and it’s called the World Championship so I guess I’m the World Champ.
What are your thoughts on the young players coming up?
It’s amazing to see the young players coming pu these days. They are so young and so good. We see it week in, week out. Lydia Ko has shown her potential as a very young girl. There is a couple of very young American girls and obviously Lexi Thompson. They are so good and they hit it a mile. It really makes me feel a lot older, I must tell you. Last week I played with a 16-year-old and I’m twice her age. I like it because it pushes me to work harder and get an edge, building my strength, building my game and I think it’s good for women’s golf, good for golf in general to see new faces coming up and it just shows the work that has gone on behind the scenes. At least in golf I have age on my side.
How do you maintain your mentality under these tough conditions?
I think all of us are pushing each other. I’ve been on tour for a while now and was out when Annika was very dominant and when Lorena was very dominant. As good as Annika was, it was hard to think that someone would come up to an even better level. Lorena showed us that and Yani has pushed that bar even higher. I think the depth of women’s golf is a strong as it’s ever been; it’s as global as it’s ever been and I’m just very proud to be a part of being at the top and competing in these great tournaments that we have week in week out. Asia is a very strong market and I think it’s great that we come to players’ home countries and showcase their skills in front of their home crowd. I think it’s a great thing that the competition is that tough.
|From left: Suzann Pettersen, Simin Feng, Tenniel Chu, Ha-Neul Kim and Inbee Park
Inbee Park (individual event runner-up) and Ha-Neul Kim: Team Event Winners
Can you both take us through the 18 holes with us?
INBEE PARK: As a team, I don’t really worry about the team competition because we had a big lead for the last three days. I think we are pretty comfortable for the team event. So I just focus the game as an individual today because I wanted to win this tournament. I didn’t play great today but Suzann played great so she did it. I am happy that we won as a team. It was a great experience.
HA NEUL KIM: This round I was far from the leaderboard but still want to try to be a good team player. Inbee did a good job so I was just doing my best to keep up with the scores. It is my first time to join the team competition so it is a good experience. So I just enjoyed the team play.
Inbee, you had two shots cushion entering day 4, Suzann Pettersen seems playing better than you did, how do you feel about this?
INBEE PARK: I did my best today. Suzann had a really great day. There’s something that you couldn’t control, it’s a tough medicine so you have to take the medicine and I will try to play better the next week. I gave a shot on the last hole and reached the green but it was a yard short. I think I have tried my best and comfortable with what I am setting right now. I will try to do better next week.
Ha Neul, you won the best dress award. A lot of Korean players are dressing very nice and pretty, did you make any preparation on this week to dress nicer?
HA NEUL KIM: I didn’t notice the best dress award is part of the competition, but I like to dress pretty on the course and then I can focus on the game.
Inbee, this is the second time that Suzann Pettersen coming up from behind. Do you consider this is a curse on you?
INBEE PARK: We met twice and I try not to think this is a curse. Maybe she feels very comfortable playing with me on the last day. I don’t know.
Shanshan Feng – Third place and top Chinese player
I think I played pretty well today. I had four birdies in the first eight holes even though I was kind of having a little too much thinking in my head so I didn’t make birdie on 7 or 8 but I made 2 birdies in the last 3 so I’m really happy about today’s play and I would say 11 under is not a bad score for this week.