After Suzann Pettersen’s 15-footer for birdie disappeared in the cup on the 18th green at Hamilton Farm in Gladstone, New Jersey, she dropped her putter and threw her arms in the air in celebration. Finally.
In an intense match, Pettersen beat Cristie Kerr 1-up to capture the Sybase Match Play Championship, putting an end to her 20-month winless streak. For someone who finished runner-up six times last season, it felt like much longer. “It’s 20 months but it doesn’t really feel like 20 months,” said Pettersen during her post-victory presser. “It feels like a lot longer. But like I said yesterday, I’ve had some great tournaments except winning, and I can finally put the dot over the I and it just – the tip of the iceberg. It doesn’t get much better than it.”
Pettersen dug deep this week and even fought off the flu on her way to winning six matches.
“It boils out to winning tournaments, so if you judge your season from winnings, last year was a disappointment,” said Pettersen, who hadn’t won since the ’09 CN Canadian Open. “But at the same time I tried to take a lot of the positives from it. It was a lot, lot better than ’09. Winning is what it’s all about.”
While she even received a congratulatory text from Tiger Woods after beating Amy Hung in the second round, the Norwegian star was most thankful for the support she received from her Twitter followers. Playing on American soil against an American star during the year of a Solheim Cup made the atmosphere actually feel antagonistic.
“You know what I think? I think I’ll have a message from Alison Nicholas saying ‘Europe, 1-up,’” Pettersen said, referring to the European captain.
The biennial Solheim Cup takes place Sept. 23 to 25 at Killeen Castle in Ireland. Pettersen has been a member of the past five European teams, including the last three that have suffered losses to the United States.
*Update: There was also this beauty in the presser. Suzann got a little bit of luck from a local bird on No. 15:
Q. Did you think you would have to go through that many golf holes?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: At least if you’re fit, you can last to the very end. It’s been tough. It feels like I’ve played some great opponents. I played Natalie Gulbis, Stacy Lewis, Yani Tseng, Na Yeon Choi. They’re all up there and they’re great players. It’s been a tough road, but I guess I actually – when I chipped on 15, my ball rolled through some bird shit and I think that’s good luck. So I gave it to my caddie and he just looked at me and said, “Maybe this is for us.” So you need a little bit of luck is all.
(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)