Pettersen Widens Lead in Taiwan


Propelled by an ace on the second hole, Suzann Pettersen carded a 3-under 69 to extend her lead from three shots to five in the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship. The $2 million, 72-hole event began Thursday at Sunrise Golf & Country Club in Yang Mei, Taoyuan, Taiwan.

The Oslo native stands at 7-under 137, five strokes ahead of South Korea's Sun Young Yoo (69) and Spain's Carlota Ciganda (70). Six back are Katherine Hull-Kirk (70) and Spain's Beatriz Recari (71).

Pettersen has won twice this year and is currently second in the Rolex World Ranking behind Inbee Park. The Oslo native trails the South Korean by just over 200 points.

Park isn't playing this week, so a second consecutive win in Taiwan by Pettersen would take her closer to Park with two tournaments remaining on the schedule.

Pettersen aced the 133-yard second with a pitching wedge; it was her third hole-in-one on tour. "I called the shot, hit it exactly how I wanted and was fortunate enough that I had a good break. Very good shot. It's nice to get a hole in one when you actually call the shot in advance and then pull the trigger."

She recognized that the course played tough due to high winds. "Today was a really tough day. The wind got stronger and stronger and it's definitely not easy out there. The wind and the conditions tests every aspect of the game. I mean, even an 80 yard shot it's challenging enough to control the spin and know what the ball is going to do.

"Standing over putts, you feel the wind on the body. It's a mental test out there but it's a fun challenge. I've been playing really solid golf, and I'm excited to be where I'm at after two days." (See below for her full post-round interview.)

Other scores included a second straight 74 by Lexi Thompson, the winner two weeks ago in Malaysia. Last week's winner, Amy Yang, is not playing in Taiwan.

Local favorite and 2011 Sunrise champion continued her difficulties. The erstwhile top-ranked player in women's golf has carded rounds of 76 and 78 to plummet down the leaderboard at the tournament in her home country.

For all the scores, visit www.lpga.com.

After signing her card, Pettersen met with reporters for the following Q&A.

MODERATOR: Suzann, let just start off stalking about your hole in one, did that kick start your round at all?

SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, it was definitely a good hole. I don't know if it really kick started. I couldn't get the putts to drop after that. But I sat on the tee, it was a very good shot. I called the shot, hit it exactly how I wanted and was fortunate enough that I had a good break. Very good shot. It's nice to get a hole in one when you actually call the shot in advance and then pull the trigger.

So today was a really tough day. The wind got stronger and stronger and it's definitely not easy out there. The wind and the conditions tests every aspect of the game. I mean, even a 80 yard shot it's challenging enough to control the spin and know what the ball is going to do. Standing over putts, you feel the wind on the body. It's a mental test out there but it's a fun challenge. I've been playing really solid golf, and I'm excited to be where I'm at after two days.

MODERATOR: You have a big lead heading into the weekend. Do you almost feel unstoppable?

SUZANN PETTERSEN: I literally don't really look too much behind me. I'm playing pretty good. I'm trying to shoot the best I can shoot, and if I want to finish where I want to finish at the end of the year, I've got to start this week and try to make the most out of this tournament. That's kind of where my focus is.

Q. What's your overall evaluation of this golf course in terms of its challenges and difficulties?

SUZANN PETTERSEN: This course, I think the biggest challenge is the conditions. Last year we played here, it was not quite as windy. This is probably up to where it was the first year we were here. This is to the point where it's really challenging. It's almost - it's too strong to almost holed it up against the wind. You've got to play the wind and you've got to have the guts to see the shots and go for it, and I think the most important thing is to be in control of the spin. Every shot is challenging. It's not like one easy tee ball or one easy iron shot out there. With this wind, you've got to be right there in the present every single shot, and don't really get too much ahead of yourself.

Q. The LPGA gave you the nickname Smiley, kind of as a joke, about how you never smile on the golf course. But since I've been with you in Asia, it seems like you've started smiling a lot more off of it. Is that the case? How much fun are you having?

SUZANN PETTERSEN: I think I'm just getting to the point in my career that I'd better just enjoy what I do. I'm tough enough on myself that, I mean, I can grind it out on the course and kind of be focused. But I'm trying to enjoy this ride, because I guess I'm maturing and you actually realize that you are fortunate to do what you do. I'm happy to be healthy, happy to be able to work on my game every day to get better. So for me, I don't know, I love playing golf; I love playing in Asia; I love coming to Taiwan. I don't see the reason why not playing here. So for me, it's all about finding a good schedule that allows me to rest up in between so I can come back strong, and it's worked out pretty well so far.

Q. Which club you use on the second hole and how many times do you hit a hole in one in your career?

SUZANN PETTERSEN: I hit a pitching wedge. I think it was 133. We tried to pitch it 128. That's all I remember. It was just a little pitching wedge. How many? You know what, I'm getting so old, I can't remember them all. I think I had maybe three on the LPGA. Total, I've had five or six I think. I had a couple as a kid, so, I don't know if that counts.

Q. Do you consider Taiwan your lucky place, because you won here last year and this year you're in a commanding position; and you are close to Inbee Park in terms of the World Ranking, what do you think about that?

SUZANN PETTERSEN: You know what, when I played Swinging Skirts last year, I was out for dinner with Annika and Yani and Yani had bought both of us this present, and she gave this dog. It's because my birthday is in April and she said, this is your good luck charm for the year. It's a Chinese, what do you call it, on the Chinese calendar I guess. It's a dog year, whatever, and I've kept it very close to my heart ever since. So I guess that is my lucky charm. It's not a real dog, like a little statue.

Q. So you were born in the year of the dog?

SUZANN PETTERSEN: Probably, yeah. You know, I also did - NewYear's Eve, I was with some Spanish friends of mine and you know how they count down for the new years. For the last ten seconds into the new year, they have one great a second, and that's also a good luck charm. We did that and we had a lot of fun with it. So you one great for each second as they come up, count down till midnight. That's also fun. That's also a good luck charm. I've done a lot of good things that should be in my favor.

Q. Last year in the final round, you kind of duke it out with Inbee Park. And Inbee obviously is not here this year. Do you miss the challenge from Inbee?

SUZANN PETTERSEN: Our schedule is so packed. I was a little surprised Inbee didn't show up. I knew she was kind of planning on it but unfortunately that didn't work out. Obviously you want to play against the best players in the world; have more than enough to play this golf course at this moment, so that's kind of where I'm going.

Q. You bogeyed your second hole yesterday in round one and today you had an ace; what's the difference?

SUZANN PETTERSEN: Three shots is the difference. (Laughter).

Q. Did you make any adjustments?

SUZANN PETTERSEN: Three shots, or three - three putts. Today was good for my putting stats. No putts is always good.

Q. And on your sixth hole today, on your approach shot, there seems to be a wind that brings your ball closer to the hole. Did it help?

SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah, I was very lucky because I didn't get up on the green in time to mark my ball. I had a very tricky up and down. I just had to play for percentage. I left the ball a little bit above the hole. I can say that I played for that to happen, but as we were sitting waiting for Caroline to chip, my ball caught a gust and went from being 25 feet to about ten feet.

The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.


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