Pettersen on Golf Central: 'I never won a point that felt so bad'

By Randall MellSeptember 30, 2015, 10:08 pm

In a wide-ranging interview Wednesday on "Golf Central", Suzann Pettersen detailed how she “fell apart” emotionally amid the public backlash over her role in the recent Solheim Cup controversy, how Phil Mickelson helped her through “the nightmare” and why she’s sorry for the way she handled the matter.

“You can’t win [at] all costs,” Pettersen told Golf Channel’s Tim Rosaforte. “Obviously, the sportsmanship and the integrity of the game I felt were left on the sideline. That’s kind of what really hurts me, because I don’t want to be remembered as someone who just gave it all and couldn’t care about the integrity of the game, because that means more to me.”

Pettersen came under fire after American Alison Lee was penalized for improperly picking up her ball when she thought the Europeans had conceded her short putt at the 17th green in a fourball match on the final day of the Solheim Cup. Pettersen was criticized for holding Lee to the penalty after it appeared the Europeans may have misled Lee into thinking the putt was conceded. Though the Americans would go on to win the Solheim Cup, Lee’s penalty created a furor.

“I’m hard on myself, and when I’m on the golf course I don’t smile a lot,” Pettersen said. “I fight to the very end, but at the end of the day, you got to go to bed with a heart saying, `Today, I did something right,’ and that’s kind of what was tough for me, sitting on Sunday night and reflecting and talking to other players about how I had the chance to be the bigger person in the whole picture . . . I never won a point that felt so bad in my entire life. I feel like it just took away the greatness of the Solheim.”

Pettersen said she did write the apology that appeared on her Instagram page the day after the Solheim Cup.

Mell: Pettersen sincere, but apology lacks key element

“The entire letter was straight from my heart,” she said.

Pettersen said teammates warned her in the clubhouse after Sunday’s singles matches not to look at her cell phone and the social media reactions to her role in the controversy. She said she couldn’t help looking.

“That’s when it really hit me,” Pettersen said. “I did actually cry.”

Pettersen said she broke down when teammate Carlota Ciganda pulled her aside in the team room late Sunday to ask how she was doing.

“I just absolutely fell apart,” Pettersen said. “For her to see me like that, when I’m usually the big sister trying to encourage them to do well, I think that was tough for her to see as well, but I just couldn’t hold it back, because I felt like I could have done stuff so differently and put the game of golf in a different light.”

Pettersen said she has had some helpful conversations with some of the game’s “icons,” including Mickelson, Butch Harmon, Michelle Wie, U.S. captain Juli Inkster and European assistant captain Annika Sorenstam.

Mickelson called Pettersen in Germany after the matches ended. Both she and Mickelson work with Harmon.

“One of the first players to reach out to me was Phil on Sunday night,” Pettersen said. “I don’t know how I can thank him enough for the words and the hours on the phone, the conversations we had for the good and bad. This went both ways. He wasn’t just trying to pat me on the shoulder, `Oh, this will be fine.’ He asked me some critical questions, and I had to answer them.”

Pettersen said Wie sought her out in the team hotel after dinner late Sunday.

“I had a great conversation with Michelle Wie, which probably meant the world to me at the time,” Pettersen said. “She took the time to come see me knowing I was emotionally hurt from all of this and this was the last thing I wanted happening, and I’m sorry how it all went down. The words exchanged both ways really helped me.”

Pettersen said she hasn’t spoken to Lee yet, but she intends to do so on the LPGA’s Asian swing.

“She will be one of the first people I will try to reach out to once we get to Asia, and I see her in person,” Pettersen said.

Pettersen said Sorenstam saw all the potential ramifications of the phantom concession early on.

“Annika was a great person for me to lean on in the hours after it all went down,” Pettersen said. “She could see the bigger picture much sooner than I could, talking to her Sunday night.”

One of Pettersen’s harshest critics was Hall of Famer Laura Davies, a former European teammate. Davies has scored more points than any player in Solheim Cup history. Pettersen said Davies’ opinions stung her.

“At the time, it hurt tremendously, I have to say,” Pettersen said. “She’s been a role model for me. I have a tremendous amount of respect for her game and her person and everything she has achieved . . . Hopefully, we’ll square it all up when I see her next. I’ve had a few battles with her in the past, and we always seem to come out on the good side."

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What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

The Ryder Cup topped his list.

Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

“Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

“The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

More bulletin board material, too.

Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

“I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.