Suzann Pettersen: On a Roll

Suzann Pettersen is on a roll. Sunday she added her latest victory, a five-stroke cruise in the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship over Azahara Munoz. To her credit, Munoz didn’t just roll over, getting to 4-under through 12 and at least getting Pettersen to think about it. But ultimately, two late bogeys did her in.

Munoz was satisfied with her performance, a sort of mini-renaissance that began back at the Evian in France. And she could take some comfort in knowing that Pettersen didn’t just protect the five-shot lead she began with; she went out and shot 3-under 69, an act of confidence and assertiveness that will be remembered by other chasers on down the line. Pettersen was pleased with her performance:

So it was a great result for me.  I kind of — it’s almost hard when you have a big lead and you go out and obviously you want to win, but this course, nothing — you’re only one shot away from a disaster out here.  Just tried to keep my head straight and do what I’m supposed to do. 

And now she’s closing in on Inbee Park and the No.1 ranking in the World. And don’t think she’s not thinking about it:

Obviously I know to be able to get to where I want to be, I have to win tournaments and I have to take advantage of every week that I play.  I’ve played really solid now for quite a while.  It’s been a good run for me.  Winning Evian was obviously a huge high.  I took three weeks off after.  It was tough to take China off.  Especially when you’re playing well, you always want to keep playing.

But at the same time, you want to restore the energy and play fresh all over.  It’s been a good stretch for me in Asia.  I feel very confident going back to the U.S. playing in México [at Lorena’s] next.  Now that I have a chance to almost compete for the overall Money List, and hopefully maybe also the World Rankings by the end of the year.

So I’m very pleased the way everything is going.  I’ve just got to keep the pedal to the metal.

Uh, oh. Not good news for those who know how driven Pettersen can be. Not only how driven she can be, but knowing just how good she’s playing right now. It’s as if the whole of her, her playing skills, her drive and her new focused-but-relaxed temperament, are all blossoming at the same time.

She’s gotten to No. 2 on four different occasions, but this time is different:

Yeah, being No. 2 is pretty much the first loser and I’ve been No. 2 behind four great No. 1s.  I’ve been the No. 2 behind Annika.  I was No. 2 behind Lorena.  I was No. 2 behind Yani and I’m 2 behind Inbee.

So I obviously feel — the first couple times I felt maybe a little bit immature.  I didn’t feel quite ready to take on that role.  Now, I feel my game is progressing.  It’s getting stronger.  I think personally, mentally, I’m ready to take on No. 1.  That’s pretty much — that’s my drive, that’s my goal.  I want to dominate ladies golf and to do that, you’ve got to go out and you’ve got to be comfortable with big leads.

You’ve got to go out and try and get the job done, even though it might be tough, every day and every round, you try to get better, and trying to get mentally tougher.  I’m trying to work on every aspect of the game to make me ready to take on hopefully the top spot on the World Rankings.

She had a similar run back in 2007 and compares then with now:

I feel like I’m a much better golfer than 2007.  It’s been a great ride from — I mean, really you’ve just got to try and enjoy every moment, every run that you get on, because the highs are high, but I mean, sometimes you go through times where it’s tougher.  You don’t have the margins on your side.  But I think you learn from everything, and the years between 2007 and now have made me a better golfer.  And I’m just very happy the way things are looking.  My body is healthy.  My game is in a good spot.

I mean, I’m a grinder.  I love to practice.  I love to prepare myself, and then it’s even better to go out and get the job done.

And some more daunting news for the ladies thinking about taking a run at her; she has the physical wherewithal to get the job done too.

For me, golf — being a professional golfer is a lifestyle.  You can choose to take that on in your own way.  For me, it’s a 24/7 job.  I put my fitness probably as important as my golf, knowing that my body is my biggest and most important tool.

I know if my body is functioning and my body is strong, it’s easy for me to do what I want to do on the golf course.  For me, it’s being fit and healthy gives me a lot of confidence, gives me mental strength, and I love to work out.  That’s my getaway place.  It’s not like someone back home is telling me, you’ve got to go do this and this.  For me, it’s in my heart.  I love getting after it.  I love getting better and I love to push the limits.

Uh, oh.

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