Questions for ... Suzann Pettersen

Questions for … Suzann Pettersen

Suzann Pettersen's one major title came at the 2007 LPGA Championship.
Mike Ehrmann/SI

You’re playing in the Sybase Match Play Championship at the Hamilton Farms Golf Club in Gladstone, N.J . Tell me about the course.
It’s in great shape. You can hit driver off almost every tee. Nice greens.

You have had three second-place finishes this season, including the playoff loss last week to Se Ri Pak at the Bell Micro in Mobile and you’re second on the money list. You must feel good about your game.
I’m pretty pleased with everything considering I haven’t been feeling that great with my body and my game. It’s confirmation for me that I don’t have to play perfect golf to get the job done. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to close the deal this season, but at least I’ve given myself a chance.

What’s wrong your body?
I have a torn muscle in my hip that’s been very painful for quite awhile. It hurts when I walk. The doctors say that I’m not going to damage it by playing, so as long as I feel competitive with it I’m going to keep playing. After the Sybase I will have two weeks off to rest it.

You’re ranked fifth (267.1 yards) on the LPGA Tour in driving distance, so the injury obviously hasn’t affected that part of your game.
Since Thailand at the beginning of the season I haven’t really gone after it with the driver. I’ve been subconsciously protecting the hip a little bit, which has impacted my technique. But as long as I know that the swing problems are being caused by the injury I’m fine. Because obviously the body is good at compensating and finding a way.

You’ve been ranked as high as No. 2 in the world. How do you see the rankings working out over the course of the season?
I think it’s going to be a close race all season. One week I’ll make a move, another week it might be Jiyai Shin, the current No. 1, or Ai Miyazato, who is ranked second, or Yani Tseng, who is ranked fourth behind me. For me it’s all about the final result at the end of the year, because what happens between now and the end of the year is going to vary from week to week, I think.

In 2007 you had five wins, including your first major, the LPGA Championship, and it seemed like you were destined to dominate the Tour for the next several years. What happened?
The margins are so small. I’m not happy about finishing second, but I’m always in contention. Since 2007 I have had 25 top ten finishes, including nine second-place finishes and a win at last year’s Canadian Open. What you want to do is give yourself chances and the more often you give yourself chances, hopefully you can pull off a win.

You have worked with Vision 54, the teaching duo of Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott, on your golf game. How was that?
I have started working with some people back home in Norway. I needed some breathing room and a break from Vision 54, but I’m still very good friends with Pia and Lynn.

What does the loss of Lorena Ochoa to retirement mean to you and the future of the LPGA Tour? Obviously you guys were great rivals.
It’s always a big deal when the best player in the world decides to retire. To me, after Annika stopped playing Lorena took the game to another level and made all of us work harder and become better players. She had been the one we were all trying to chase down. It’s disappointing to me that I won’t get a chance to beat her. If she is happier off the golf course, then I’m happy for her. It’s all about being in a good place in life.

What do you think of Mike Whan’s leadership so far as the LPGA commissioner?
I think we’re in great hands now. Mike has done a great job. The players like him and, most importantly, the people who write the checks love him. I think he has a mission and he’s the man for the job.

As a Norwegian who started her career on the Ladies European Tour, you must like that the LPGA Tour is international in both its player makeup and schedule.
I think the more places that we can play and show our skills the more popular we’re going to be.

Skiing is more popular than golf in Norway. But who are some of the Norwegians coming along in the game that we should be watching?
Henrik Bjornstad on the PGA Tour is very talented. On the LPGA Tour we have a rookie named Marianne Skarpnord.

You have just the one major from 2007, the LPGA Championship. How important is winning majors to you?
I try to peak those weeks, but I try not to treat them any differently than any other event in terms of my effort. In the majors it’s all about patience, and the better players and ball strikers usually arise to the occasion.

What are the tendencies in your golf swing?
Growing up I always had a shut face at the top and I’m trying to get it as neutral as possible so that I can hit all types of shots. I love to shape the ball both ways. Now I don’t have a weak shot in my bag.

What do you learn from watching the men play?
It’s a great inspiration for me to watch the guys. If I’m not playing I like to sit and watch men’s tournaments. Their level of skill is phenomenal. Obviously, Tiger is my favorite. I’ve played and practiced with him.

Has Tiger give you any tips when you’ve been around him?
Yes, but I’m not going to give it to you. It’s my secret.