Featured Golf News
Pettersson Moves Up, Donald Moves Down
Thanks to a red-hot front nine, Carl Pettersson enjoyed a cake walk Sunday at Harbour Town Golf Links. The native of Sweden and long-time resident of Raleigh, N.C., birdied three of his first five holes to cruise to victory in the RBC Heritage.
In addition to taking home $1.026 million and 500 FedEx Cup points, the former North Carolina State star's fifth victory - tying him with Jesper Parnevik for the most Tour wins by a Swede - earned him a snazzy plaid-tartan jacket that goes to the Heritage champion.
"It's getting harder and harder to win out here," said the burly Pettersson, who revealed the secret to maintaining his physique: "Drink 10 beers and eat a tub of ice cream before you go to bed."
Despite his 5'10", 200-pound frame, Pettersson can really play. The victory moved him to 35th on the latest World Golf Ranking and fourth in the season-long FedEx Cup points' standings.
Those same rankings found former No. 1 Luke Donald going to second behind Rory McIlroy, who was idle over the past weekend. Donald did play in the Heritage on Hilton Head Island, but needed to finish eighth or higher to retain the top spot. But the 34-year-old Englishman shot rounds of 75, 69, 71 and 71 to end up T-37 at 2-over 286 and slipped a notch.
Lee Westwood stayed at No. 3, while newly crowned Masters' champion Bubba Watson - also taking the week off - stayed at No. 4. (For all the updated rankings, visit http://www.officialworldgolfranking.com/rankings/default.sps.)
After signing his scorecard, the likeable Pettersson met with reporters and discussed his play on a Harbour Links that was penurious in yielding low scores. The 34-year-old was the only player to post four under-par rounds, finishing at 14-under 270, five shots clear of runner-up Zach Johnson.
Here's what Pettersson had to say after receiving the winner's hardware, paycheck and the gaudy jacket.
MODERATOR: We'd like to welcome the 2012 RBC Heritage champion Carl Pettersson into the interview room. Moves up to No. 4 in the FedEx Cup standings and earns his fifth career victory on the PGA Tour, tying with Jesper Parnevik for most for a player from Sweden. Congratulations on a great tournament and a great week.
CARL PETTERSSON: Yeah, it was great. I knew I was playing well. I didn't want to put too much pressure on myself. I was kind of downplaying the whole thing. But getting off to a birdie on 1 was great. The whole front nine I played really good. I felt like I was being greedy; I could have been a couple more under. It was a tough day. The greens were really quick. I played good all day. I missed a few tee shots on the back nine, but scrambled well and bogeyed the 15th, which I managed to do the last three days. But it was good. It was a solid - the swing felt good. I felt calm. It was a great feeling today.
MODERATOR: First win since the 2010 RBC Canadian Open. Talk about getting the double, and you should have gotten RBC involved here a little bit earlier.
CARL PETTERSSON: Yeah, I played okay last year. I didn't play great. It was okay, not great. But showed signs toward the end of the year. And started off the year at the Sony finishing second and played good, and then it was kind of spotty. And then in Houston I found that new swing key, just opened up my stance and left my left hip clear through the ball. I've played great. So hopefully this feeling lasts a long time.
Q. What was it about this front nine? I think you were 13 under for the tournament on the front. What was it about that?
CARL PETTERSSON: Well, obviously I was swinging well and playing well. I like all the holes. I don't have one hole on the front nine where I feel awkward over the tee shot or second shot. The back nine I've got a few holes, 10, I'm scared to go left. And 14 is a tough tee shot, the par 3. So it was important today to get to off to a good start, knowing that I'm more comfortable on the front nine than the back nine and I managed to do that. I love the golf course. This has always been one of my favorite golf courses. It's fun to play. You have to hit shots. Even if you hit it into the trees, if you can move it right to left, left to right, you can usually get it on the green or close to the green. It's a shot-maker's golf course.
Q. What's it like to win by five? We've seen a lot of guys this year with big leads the last day who weren't able to hold them. What was it like to play with a pretty good sized lead the last day?
CARL PETTERSSON: Coming into the last hole it was nice (laughter). It's also more nerve-wracking when you've got a five shot lead with nine to go because it's yours to blow. I knew I had a five shot lead with nine to go. I told myself my goal was to shoot under par on the back nine. I didn't do that, but that was a personal little goal I set for myself to do. It was a tough day. I was nervous but I felt calm. I felt like I was in control. It was nice going up to the last hole with a five shot lead.
Q. Did you learn something from the guys who let those leads slip away and maybe come out with something different from that?
CARL PETTERSSON: I don't know. Everybody is different. I've definitely learned from my previous wins how I react under pressure and what I need to do and stuff like that. But, no, I can't really speak about that.
Q. Obviously with the swing change, you probably wouldn't be surprised if you were the first in GIR, but you also led putting, I was wondering if there was something in that as well that you changed?
CARL PETTERSSON: I put in a new putter, I've used it on and off before, it's a Nike Method long putter, and I used it in Houston, finished second there. I putted well all week. So it puts a nice roll on it. But I've used a long putter for 14 years. I'll be back to the short one next year when they ban it.
Q. I'm wondering if Ryder Cup comes into your thoughts at all?
CARL PETTERSSON: I've been close before, but I'm not going to think about it too much. It's a complicated system. I'm not sure if I'm a member of the European Tour, which you have to be, to be eligible, maybe I could be a captain's pick, but that's a long way down the road. That's in September, I believe. I was close in '06 to make the team, but it wasn't to be. Fairly close in '08. That's too far down the road, just see what happens.
Q. A few years ago you went on that stretch where you lost weight, and threw you off your golf game. How did you put that weight back on?
CARL PETTERSSON: It took a while to get the swing back. '08 I had a good year. I won Greensboro that year. I was trying to figure out what I was going to do to get to the next level and fitness, and I really started working out and eating better, and I lost 30 pounds very quickly. That was during the off season, and it really threw my golf game - '09 I played terrible, I finished 150 something on the money list, FedEx Cup list. It took a long time, just the last six months I felt comfortable again. Threw my timing off. But I managed to win in Canada in '10 with more hitting lightning in a bottle. I made a cut and shot 67 on the weekend. I felt like this year my game was starting to come back to where it was in '08, '07, '06 and '05. I played really solid. It's fun to play again, and I kept the weight on.
Q. How hard was it to get back to your normal weight and how did you put it back on?
CARL PETTERSSON: Well, you drink, you know, 10 beers and tub of ice cream before you go to bed (laughter). That puts it on quickly.
Q. What's your normal demeanor in a normal round of golf? Do you find that that changes when you're chasing a win in the final round on a Sunday or do you actually make it change on a final round when you're chasing?
CARL PETTERSSON: Yeah, I'm pretty laidback. I didn't chat that much to Colt today, as much as we did yesterday. I was kind of into my own thing. I'm a laid back person but anytime I get in contention I kind of go into this little bubble, and I just try to stay there. I chatted a little bit here and there, but I was pretty focused on everything. There was a lot of conversations up here with myself throughout the day. And I found that's what works for me, and that's the way I do it when I get in contention.
Q. Do you find it overcomes you or you actually purposely do that?
CARL PETTERSSON: I purposely do it, just to stay on task.
CARL PETTERSSON: Well, yeah, he had a tough time on 3. ButI knew Zach and Boo, I felt somebody was going to play really well today. And Zach got it going there. There was still other guys who had a chance. And Colt came back pretty nice. I know he didn't finish as well as he wanted to. But he played good and he came back. But there was more other guys that could have shot 4 or 5 under and really made things hard.
Q. A lot of players have talked about the overall Sea Pines experience and they enjoy coming here because they kind of hang out in this area. Would you mind talking about that for a second?
CARL PETTERSSON: I've been coming here 10 years, ever since I've been on Tour, and this is the first year my wife and kids were out here. My oldest child is in school. We love coming here. It was a little different coming here without them, because it was a great family week. I think all the players, all the caddies, the Tour staff, the media, too, it's a great place. And this week it certainly is special. It's very friendly, great family atmosphere, and great golf course. So I think everybody loves coming.
Q. Was there a shot or putt out there you felt was particularly important?
CARL PETTERSSON: The tee shot on 14, I don't like that tee shot one bit. Anything can happen there. I've hit it in the water before, I've hit it left, and I knew 14 was a hole you could rack up a big number on. I hit a pretty good 7 iron, I was looking at the left edge of the green. Once I got past 14, I thought I was okay, but then I snap hooked it on 15. And I had some issues there. It wasn't really until 17 where I felt I had won the tournament.
Q. A win like this tying Jesper, if you go to Sweden are you going to get mobbed by sports fans over there now?
CARL PETTERSSON: Probably not. I haven't lived there since 1987. Yeah, I know I'm Swedish. I've spent the majority of my life - I lived in England for five years. Sweden ten years, my first ten years, and then England for five years, and then in America ever since. I honestly feel more American than Swedish. I became an American citizen this year, I've got dual citizenship. Sweden is a golf crazed country. I know I'm from Sweden, but I've lived here so long I'm very American.
Q. Not many guys have won five PGA Tour events, what does this one mean to you?
CARL PETTERSSON: Yeah, every win is real special. It's getting harder and harder to win out here with the players. I feel like in the last two or three years it's really become really competitive. It was competitive before, don't get me wrong, but it seems like there's a lot more younger guys playing really good, hitting it a mile, and all of a sudden I'll be 35 this year, I'm one of the old guys, trying to get around the golf course. But five wins is great. I'm hoping to add to that. I know it's going to take a lot of effort and hard work and dedication, but I hope I can add to it.
Q. We talked about this era of fitness and guys who are really hitting the gym and so forth, but what does it say about someone like you and other guys that it doesn't really matter, as long as you've got talent and can hit the ball?
CARL PETTERSSON: Well, ultimately it's a hand eye coordination sport. Just because you don't look like an athlete doesn't mean you're not an athlete. We're not running marathons here, we're just walking 18 holes (laughter). Maybe some of these guys are overdoing it (laughter). It's great to be fit and everything, but I feel like I'm fit enough to get around 18 holes.
Q. Do you have a fitness routine now?
CARL PETTERSSON: No, no, I get stretched every day, that's about it.
Q. You said you got your U.S. citizenship this year?
CARL PETTERSSON: Yeah.
Q. When did that happen?
CARL PETTERSSON: Beginning of the year.
CARL PETTERSSON: Yeah. Only test I ever made a hundred (laughter).
Q. Why did you decide to do that?
CARL PETTERSSON: Well, my wife is from here, obviously, and I've got two kids, and I've lived here since 1994, and I just felt like it was time. I've still got my Swedish passport, dual citizenship. I love America. It's a great country. It's given me everything I have. And I just want to be a part of the country.
Q. What have you got, anything in your wardrobe or closet that's going to match the sports coat?
CARL PETTERSSON: I don't know. I've always wanted to win a jacket. And this is a great one. I think I've got a plaid vest at home, I wore it at Christmas one year. I don't know if it still fits. It might have been in '09 (laughter).
MODERATOR: Carl Pettersson, 2012 RBC Heritage champion. Congratulations.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.