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Pettersen wins playoff in South Korea
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Rolex Rankings No. 9 Suzann Pettersen (@suzannpettersen) held off a spirited final-round charge by No. 22 Catriona Matthew to win the 2012 LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship (@hanabankgolf). Pettersen sank a five-foot birdie putt on the third playoff hole on No. 18 to clinch her ninth-career victory.

Pettersen shot the worst round of her week by six shots on Sunday but was able to keep her composure to outlast Matthew in 21 holes. She posted three birdies, one bogey and two double bogeys for a 2-over 74, finishing 11-under par. Matthew started the day seven shots off the lead and carded six birdies and one bogey to force the playoff.  Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng (@YaniTseng) finished  third at 10-under par and recorded her first top-10 finish in 13 starts.

Pettersen got off to a shaky start on the front nine and double bogeyed the par 3 third. After birdieing No. 4 she would bogey another par 3 on the eighth. It was then that Pettersen found herself diverting from her original game plan.

“After I bogeyed 8, I looked at my caddie, I said, if I am going to bogey, I might as well just fire right at the pin,” said Pettersen. “There's no point playing safe.  He said, why don't you just play as aggressive as you have all week.  What are you trying to do?  So I might have gone out trying to be a little bit protective, which obviously does not fit my game at all.”

Making the turn at 2-over, she still held a two-shot lead. But another double-bogey at the par 3 12th dropped Pettersen two shots back after Matthew had back-to-back birdies on No. 13 and 14 two groups ahead.

“So made a few birdies on the back nine, made a little bit of unfortunate lie on 12 on the par‑3, but overall I felt like I played pretty good, it was just not a scoring day,” said Pettersen. “I just really tried to hang in there.  I tried not to even look what was going on around me because it would just stress me out.  Just really tried to stick to my own game plan, which I had to readjust after like eight holes.”

But Matthew would go on to birdie three on the back nine while Pettersen continued her par 3 struggles and posted another double bogey on No. 12. She would birdie the par 4 14th as Matthew bogeyed No. 16, putting them both at 11-under par where they finished in regulation.

Although Matthew had the momentum of a hot round on her side, Pettersen did not falter in feeling she had it the whole time.

“I felt like I had it all in my hand both the first time around, second time around, and the third around,” said Pettersen.  “It's getting closer.  I'm getting closer to the hole. But when you have a putt I would say inside eight feet, you feel like you have it in your own hand.  You're not going to get too many of those.  I mean, you would expect Catriona to hit it closer or kind of have a chance, as well.

“I was fortunate enough, but I put enough pressure on her to kind of give myself a good kind of chance,” said Pettersen. “And the third time around I just made a solid stroke, and it dropped.”

Up in the ranks: With her $270,000 winner’s check, Pettersen surpasses both Beth Daniel and Laura Davies for 9th on the LPGA Career Money List. She sits behind U.S. Solheim Cup team captain Meg Mallon and ranks sixth among active players.

“I think as a girl growing up, I never thought I'd ever be in that league,” said Pettersen. “That actually kind of is quite touching actually, that I've already achieved that much.  But I'm only 31, and my big goal is the Olympics in four years.  It's nice to get a head start to my career.  I'm going to get my confidence back, and it's always nice to get back in the winner's circle.” 

In the winner’s circle:

Hometown/Birthplace – Orlando, Florida/Oslo, Norway

Birthdate – April 07, 1981 – currently 31 years, 6 months, and 14 days

Qualified for LPGA Tour – tied for 10th at 2002 LPGA Final Qualifying Tournament

Turned Professional – 2000

  • 9th career LPGA victory; 14th career victory worldwide

 

  • Increased LPGA career earnings to $9,035,662 – surpassing the $9 million mark. She surpasses both Beth Daniel and Laura Davies for 9th on LPGA Career Money List

 

  • First win since August 2011 at the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola

 

  • Second victory in Korea (winner of 2007 HanaBank-KOLON Championship)

 

  • Fourth top-10 finish in Korea (second in 2006, won in 2007, tied for fourth in 2010)

 

  • Earns 30 points toward the Rolex Player of the Year race, increasing total to 63 points and moving from 20th to 12th

SUZANN PETTERSEN, Rolex Rankings No. 9

THE MODERATOR:  I'd like to welcome in the 2012 LPGA KEB Hana Bank champion Suzann Pettersen.  Congratulations.  I think that double fist pump at the end after the putt dropped said it all.  How relieved were you that that putt dropped?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  You know, I just felt like I was actually glad I had a chance to go out there in the playoff.  Again, I just felt great.  I had a great warm‑up this morning and didn't really get off to a great start and didn't really play the par‑3s good at all.  I felt like I had it all in my hand both the first time around, second time around, and the third around.  It's getting closer.  I'm getting closer to the hole.

THE MODERATOR:  You said this week you've been doing a pretty good job not getting too high, not getting too low.  You've been over the past two weeks.  Was there any point in this round where you felt likes your emotions were getting the best of you or you got a little tense, a little nervous?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  No.  After I bogeyed 8, I looked at my caddie, I said, if I am going to bogey, I might as well just fire right at the pin.  There's no point playing safe.  He said, why don't you just play as aggressive as you have all week.  What are you trying to do?  So I might have gone out trying to be a little bit protective, which obviously does not fit my game at all.

So made a few birdies on the back nine, made a little bit of unfortunate lie on 12 on the par‑3, but overall I felt like I played pretty good, it was just not a scoring day.  I just really tried to hang in there.  I tried not to even look what was going on around me because it would just stress me out.  Just really tried to stick to my own game plan, which I had to readjust after like eight holes.

THE MODERATOR:  I saw you give your Catriona a high five on the way to the playoff. Seeing how hot she was all day, what was going through your mind in that cart ride up?  You said you felt like you had it the whole time.

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  Well, you feel like you have it when you actually have a makeable putt to win.  Obviously it's always tough; I was kind of glad it was Catriona, but at the same time, it was like, really?  It was one of those win or lose.

But when you have a putt I would say inside eight feet, you feel like you have it in your own hand.  You're not going to get too many of those.  I mean, you would expect Catriona to hit it closer or kind of have a chance, as well.

I was fortunate enough, but I put enough pressure on her to kind of give myself a good kind of chance.  And the third time around I just made a solid stroke, and it dropped.

THE MODERATOR:  I'm sure you would’ve been a little more comfortable with the lead heading into the 18th or a little more comfortable cushion.  How much does that do for your confidence knowing you grinded it out the last couple holes and then the playoff holes?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  You know, to be quite honest I had no clue.  The last time I saw the scoreboard I saw Catriona was 12‑under through 16.  When we got to 17 ourselves, I believe the board was like way outdated.  The updates were from the 10th and 11th holes.  We were standing on 18, and I said to Brian, last time I saw she was 12.  He said last time I saw she was 11.  So we were kind of guessing.  But I said it doesn't really matter because we're going to make a birdie, I know.  If we're laying up or going for it, we've got to play it our way.  So it didn't really affect where I stood.

But it's always nice to grind it out at the end of the day.  You always feel like you might get the best part of your game, but it was just solid enough to hang in there.

THE MODERATOR:  With the winner's check, it puts you at 9th all‑time on the Money List in a group of pretty special players, some all‑time players.  Where does this win rank with you in pushing you in your career?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  I mean, if I just ‑‑ I think as a girl growing up, I never thought I'd ever be in that league.  That actually kind of is quite touching actually, that I've already achieved that much.  But I'm only 31, and my big goal is the Olympics in four years.  It's nice to get a head start to my career.  I'm going to get my confidence back, and it's always nice to get back in the winner's circle.

Q.  How did you find the course conditions today compared to yesterday?

SUZANN PETTERSEN:  I thought the course was playing quite similar.  The wind was not as high as it was yesterday.  It was a little breezy, came out of the same direction, so quite familiar with that part.  Other than that, I think the greens have been fantastic all week.  They've been rolling really pure, very speedy at times.  I think the course has been in the best shape we've ever seen it, so it was nice to obviously execute and play well.

 

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