Rolex Rankings No. 2 Suzann Pettersen is kicking off her 2014 season at the ISPS HANDA Australian Women's Open at Victoria Golf Club in Melbourne this week.
THE MODERATOR: Susan, thank you for coming in, marvellous to see you again. The list of your victories go on and on, when I was trying to look at your bio.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: That's nice; I've been onto it for a while.
THE MODERATOR: We've actually spoken of that before, to say that the young girls that are coming through, the strength of them, how strong they are physically and mentally. Do you see that much more now than when you started?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: You know I think actually the change in the game of golf and the approach actually changed before I got into it. I think Tiger in the late 90s was one of the first, at least the first male really - I don't know if he was the person who really took the serious and total approach but I guess he kick started what you now can see a new type of player.
You see the young players coming out, they're really prepared, they're physically strong, stronger than probably when I started, mentally up there with the best, competing with the best in the world; just really solid players. It's really fascinating to see how good they are at such a young age because I felt like I was fairly good at the time but I was kind of keeping up with the best amateurs in Europe when I was about 18/19 it felt like that was my kind of confidence to kick start my professional career. But these girls out here, I mean they go from, they seem to just be very comfortable at the best stage of women's golf.
THE MODERATOR: Have you had a chance to see this golf course, have you played here before?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: No, I have not played here. I've played 18 holes yesterday. It reminds me very much about the other courses in this area, Royal Melbourne, I played a couple of years ago, I played Yara Yarra way back, one of my first years on tour. But it's typical links course. It's not the type of course that I've seen pretty much since the British, so it's a little bit unusual. I play more of traditional or American courses over the last two or three months. So you've got to adjust accordingly and hopefully there'll be a kind of kick start that gives us a nice challenge earlier on in the year. But it's been a good off season for me, I've been doing a lot of training, kept myself busy and I feel like I'm very eager to start competing again.
Q. Suzann, you had a great year last year, probably your best year I would imagine. What was it that kicked that in for you? Why did you do so well last year? Have you been able to work out what the secret was?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: There's no secret. I guess it's really hard work over a long time. I've managed to stay in fairly good condition healthwise, no massive injuries. That has made a problem for me to kind of prepare the way I feel like I need to prepare. I've been practising the way I wanted to practice and I felt like I showed up more often to tournaments well prepared to actually play. So for me there's no secret, it's a lot of hard work and it's all got to click at the right time, but that's the fun challenge.
Q. You say you've been playing on American style courses recently, do you enjoy the greater challenge that these sorts of conditions demand from players? Your whole game is tested in these conditions, is that when you enjoy it?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah for sure, I think I'm mentally - after having seen Royal Melbourne two years - is it two years ago?
THE MODERATOR: Two years ago.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: That being the first tournament of the year, I wasn't quite ready for that task at that moment. It's nice to kind of ease in, to kind of build your confidence so you don't go straight into it.
So I guess that experience has kind of made me a little bit aware of what I can expect. So it's not as a surprise now as it was two years ago, but I remember back then it was a very tough task [LAUGHS] to get around that course, having seen it on TV, seen the guys play, they make it look so easy but that was definitely a tough course. But this course is in very good shape, firm holes, very good variety off the tees.
Q. As a top grade player do you feel like you should start favorite?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I guess being a favourite is not a bad thing.
Q. I mean do you feel like you can go out and win?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I would not be here if not, so I guess so and I guess being a favourite means a lot of pressure, more expectations but it also means that you're probably pretty good. That's how I look at it.
Q. You spoke about the wind before, how seriously do you take that? If the wind picks up do you feel like your experience can help you in those conditions where others might struggle? Is that your thinking?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I think this is a course where the wind kind of brings the character to the course as well. So I hope it's not horrendous conditions like it was on Sunday, when it was blowing 40 miles per hour; that was tough, I was out here [LAUGHS]. I don't think it was playable on certain holes. I don't know, I mean, I'll see what the different days brings. I'll just try to get into a good start and just try and find a good rhythm straight off the bat and see what the week brings.
Q. Suzann, Jessica Korda was in earlier and she's re-making her whole swing, changing it completely. When you reflect on your swing, has it changed much since you came in as a professional until now?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Not really. I guess golf is about continuous process. I think we golfers, we seem to be a bit of perfectionists. It's like you feel like you can do things better even though it might be at a fairly good level, you might feel like you've got more in you, you feel like you can do things better, do things better day in/day out. The consistency is probably what, for me, is the most important thing. I mean, Jessica is still a very young player; she's got a fantastic talent. She's already won a couple of times out here; she knows what she's doing. I think the only one who can really know if a change is worth doing is yourself.
Q. But you haven't remade your swing at any stage, you may have changed but it…
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I mean, I guess basic thing has kind of stayed the same but I've approached it in different ways. I feel like I've settled in with what I feel I'm best at. I guess I'm too old to start changing. I'm going to just stick to what I have.
Q. Do you have your eye on No. 1?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Not really, I just want to see my…
Q. It's not important?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Not really, I just want to check how good I can possibly be; that's my entire dream, that's my goal. If that is being No. 1, if that is being No. 2 for the rest of my life, then that's what I got. I feel like I've got more in me. I feel like my best golf is still to come. I was home last year; I was touching on where I feel like I should be. It had been a solid year and the good weeks, and that's what's kind of driven me through the Winter. I mean, I was glad I didn't get to that spot because it's also given me a little bit more of motivation to dig a little bit deeper and grind it a little bit harder.
So I mean, basically I just want to see how good I can be. I don't want to leave this game knowing I could have done more or I've left it out there. I mean, I just want to give it all and I feel like I can be pretty good, so whatever that number is, it is.
Q. Are you interested in the Winter Olympics?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I've been up all night for the last four days, Norway's doing pretty good. Yesterday was one of the biggest days for us, there was a little bit of a disaster but it was a very good start. It was very neat, I know pretty much all the Norwegian athletes who's competing, or most of them. It's such a small country and we're a very good community kind of between the different sports so it's a lot of fun to see your friends compete, to do well, not do so well but to see the emotions and see the process they go through. I just can't wait for Rio myself.
Q. Can every kid in Norway ski or skate?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Pardon me?
Q. Every kid in Norway, can they ski or skate?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: No, in Norway kids are born with skis on their feet [LAUGHS] or in Scotland they're born with golf clubs in their hands. So I mean growing up, it's national thing to do and I guess Winter Olympics is the nation's pride and honour. If we fail here, it's national depression for months.
Q. If you were in that Winter Olympic team for Norway, what sport would you be competing in?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I mean it probably would be alpine, downhill. I like skiing.
Q. That's lunacy you realise?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: That's ski's Formula One so I guess that's what you want to do.
Q. What will you do at the first hole here; will you have a bash at the green?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: It's a par 3 isn't it?
Q. I hear it's a par 3.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: No, it's a par 4. I don't know the lay out. Hit it down there and get it on the green.
Q. What about 18, can you reach 18?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah, yesterday I had 7 iron left. I'm actually hitting it a bit further now, so I can finally compete with these long young guns. So I can't wait to face Jessica Korda now. We have our internal battle, she's one up for the year but I didn't play Bahamas so I don't know if it counts. Yeah, 18 looks reachable yesterday. The only par 5 that's definitely not reachable where I'm not even going to try and give it a go is 17?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: It's not even worth trying to pump the driver down there because even if you hit it, it's not reachable. There's this howling downwind, which there wasn't yesterday.