NORTH PLAINS, Ore. (AP) — Following the Women’s British Open, Suzann Pettersen returned again to her native Norway to join in the healing process after the horrific attacks on July 22 left 77 dead and shook her homeland.
Pettersen has been humbled in the face of the tragedy.
“The incredible thing is just how everyone’s kind of worked around this together. Everyone’s just been supporting each other,” she said. “I mean, you heard stories of people who survived. It’s just dreadful, to be honest, to hear the stories. You get goose bumps.”
Pettersen was playing in the Evian Masters in France when the attacks occurred. Anders Behring Breivik has admitted detonating a bomb that killed eight people in central Oslo and fatally shooting 69 others at an island youth camp.
After a trip home in the aftermath of the attacks, she played in the British Open the final weekend in July before returning to Norway again.
“It’s just I never expected to get those messages that stuff like that had happened at home. I think that was the most shocking one. For that many young people to lose their lives is dreadful,” she said.
At the last minute, Pettersen decided to take part in last weekend’s Irish Ladies Open on the women’s European tour, and came away with a win. The No. 3-ranked golfer in the world finished the event at 18 under, six strokes in front of Azahara Munoz Guiarro of Spain.
The victory at Killeen Castle sealed Pettersen’s spot on the European Solheim Cup team that will compete against the United States Sept. 23-25 – at Killeen Castle.
Pettersen will get a good look at some of her Solheim competition this weekend at the LPGA Safeway Classic. The final spot on the U.S. team will be determined following the event at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club just west of Portland.
The team already includes Cristie Kerr, Morgan Pressel, Stacy Lewis, Angela Stanford, Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie, Brittany Lincicome, Brittany Lang, and Juli Inkster.
Katie Futcher, Kristy McPherson and Vicky Hurt are vying to edge Christina Kim out of the last spot. Captain Rosie Jones will add two additional teammates on Sunday following the tournament.
Ai Miyazato of Japan won last year’s Safeway Classic, besting Kerr and Na Yeon Choi by two shots on the Ghost Creek course at Pumpkin Ridge. The win was Miyazato’s fifth of the 2010 season.
Miyazato is again in the 150-player field this year for the tournament’s 40th anniversary in the Portland area. So is world No. 1 Yani Tseng, who won this year’s British Open for her fifth career major.
Kerr, third-ranked in the world, is also playing in the 54-hole event which starts Friday. She won the Safeway Classic in 2008 when it was still at Columbia Edgewater Country Club, then finished in a tie for second last year.
Kerr is still looking for her first win this season.
“I’ve worked really hard on my game and I’ve been close a number of times. Even at the end of last year I was close to winning again,” Kerr said this week. “So it’s not a good feeling not to have any wins on the board at this point in the season, but I still have 10 or 12 events left, and I have to focus all my energy on getting that win.”
In 2009, Pettersen came close to winning the Safeway Classic, but settled for runner-up after M.J. Hur birdied on the second hole of a playoff for her first LPGA victory.
“I guess I’ve been lucky. I guess I’ve been unlucky,” Pettersen said about Portland. “I’ve been close, but not too close at the end here.”
The European Solheim Cup team will be finalized after the world rankings are updated on Aug. 29. Pettersen, Melissa Reid, Laura Davies and Christel Boeljon have already locked up spots.