Pettersen Living In The Moment

By Brian HewittJune 8, 2007, 4:00 pm
Suzann Pettersen is calm. Too calm.
Watch out field.
The 36-hole leader of the McDonalds LPGA backed up a smooth 69 Thursday with a sweet 67 Friday to take a one shot lead over Karrie Webb at the halfway mark of the seasons second major for the women.
Ive been calm Pettersen, said after birdieing five of her last nine holes. Not letting things get to me.
This is the same 26-year-old Norwegian whose temper can run as hot as the fjords in her native land run cold. She speaks three languages: Norwegian, English and blue with equal facility. During a live television interview after a Solheim Cup once, Pettersen used a word that would make your mother blush. And it got past the five second delay.
Talent has never been the problem with Pettersen. Composure has.
At the Kraft Nabisco Championship nine weeks ago Pettersen had everything under control until the last four holes on Sunday. She played them in 4'over par. It was a melt down of monumental proportions. And it was not pretty to watch.
But it got her attention. She started listening to her mental coaches'Pia Nilsson and Lynn Marriott. Almost every day. And they started brainwashing her in the best sense.
She started saying things like, I dont look at it as a collapse, when asked again about Kraft Nabisco.
And things like, You should never say youre in control or the game will get you the next day.

Then she won for the first time on the LPGA at the Michelob ULTRA Open at Kingsmill in mid-May.
Then she changed her putter this week.
Then she went out the first two days and hit 23 of 28 fairways and 24 of 36 greens while needing just 53 putts on the tricky greens at Bulle Rock Golf Course.
Im right where I want to be, she said after her round.
Suzann Pettersen is calm. Too calm.
A lot of people think Suzann Pettersen is also the BPOTLONTWAM. That is to say shes the Best Player Other Than Lorena Ochoa Never To Win A Major. As acronyms go she is still young enough for this to be a compliment. Although any such list would also have to include the names of Paula Creamer and Brittany Lincicome.
If you ask Pettersen what she admires most about Ochoa, the worlds No. 1 ranked player, her answer shouldnt come as a surprise.
She doesnt let anything get to her, Pettersen says. If you look at her, when she hits a bad shot, you would hardly see it on the next shot.
But Kraft Nabisco was pretty recent. There must be scars.
I forgot about that a long time ago, Pettersen said Friday. Kraft was well-evaluated.
It was mid-summer hot in Maryland Friday. Pettersen walked much of her round between shots with an umbrella over her head to fend off the sun. Staying cool will be her top priority on the weekend. She knows that now. Knowing and doing are two different things. It has not been established in the minds of her competitors that she has learned to pull off the latter.
Meanwhile, in the bigger picture, Pettersen is just another reason why womens professional golf is more interesting today that at any other period in recent memory.
There are so many compelling names to check on the leaderboard. When will Ochoa win her first major? Can Morgan Pressel, the little grinder, make it two for two on the big stages this year? What about the near and mid term futures of injured players Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie?
All of these are good stories. And their threads will be picked up again later this month at the U.S. Womens Open at Pine Needles in North Carolina.
For the record, Sorenstam, Creamer and Pressel are tied at 5-under through 36 holes. Lincicome is one better than that. And Wie made the cut on the number at 3-over. But shes 11 back of Pettersen.

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    Bernhard Langer, Hale Irwin at the 1991 Ryder Cup (Getty Images)

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