Thanksgiving is the time of year when everyone looks back and finds reasons to be thankful. The same is true for many of the players on the LPGA Tour and the Symetra Tour (formerly known as the LPGA Futures Tour). So as we all gather together this Thanksgiving, the LPGA is taking time to explore why we are thankful this holiday season. Today is part three of our five-part series and next we feature Suzann Pettersen
Suzann Pettersen will remember many moments from her 2011 season on the LPGA Tour. Yes, there were two LPGA wins and 11 top-10 finishes. There was the No. 2 Rolex World Golf Ranking right behind pacesetter Yani Tseng.
There was also a tour-leading top ranking in greens hit in regulation (75 percent), a sixth-best tour scoring average (70.97), a No. 5 ranking in season earnings (more than $1.3 million) and even a win abroad at the AIB Ladies Irish Open on the Ladies European Tour as a tune-up for the 2011 Solheim Cup in Ireland.
But what Pettersen may remember the most was her emerging role as a leader on the European Solheim Cup team. Pettersen showed her mettle when it mattered most, winning her crucial singles match 2 up down the stretch in dramatic fashion over Michelle Wie, while also having a heavy influence on her European teammates.
With Europe and the U.S. team locked in a tight battle late in the Sunday singles, and Europe trailing after a second weather delay, Pettersen’s shining moment came in a golf cart with rookie teammates Azahara Munoz of Spain and Caroline Hedwall of Sweden.
“Right before we went back out, we were all in a golf cart and Suzann said, ‘The three of us need to win our points. If we all win our points, we can win the Solheim Cup,’” said Munoz. “Just to see how confident she was gave me confidence. After the round, I realized she was so right because all of us won our points and our team won the Solheim Cup. Suzann has such a good vibe and she was huge for our team.”
“She had a couple of pep talks earlier in the week and when I played the four-ball event with her, she was so encouraging,” said Hedwall, also making her first appearance in the Solheim Cup. “I think she’s a great leader.”
|Azahara Munoz and Suzann Pettersen|
While Pettersen is fiery, intense and sometimes even glowering on the golf course, the Norwegian is more introspective, engaging, funny and humble off the course. When asked by media at the recent CME Group Titleholders how it felt to be the new leader of the European Solheim Cup team, she downplayed her role, saying, “When I’m on the European team, I’m always a junior. Laura Davies is the senior and she takes that role.”
When asked how it felt to play so well in 2011, but to not be able to catch frontrunner Yani Tseng, Pettersen saluted Tseng, saying, “You can’t do anything but applaud what she’s done. It makes me work even harder. I’ve been around Annika [Sorenstam] at her peak … and then Lorena [Ochoa], and now Yani. It just shows that it’s possible.”
Always the perfectionist in pursuit of her own optimal performance, here is what Pettersen had to say in a recent interview about her 2011 LPGA season:
How do you feel about your 2011 season?
It’s been a good year, but I’ve always been a slow starter
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