Quick Round with Suzann Pettersen

By Randall MellJanuary 14, 2010, 7:07 am

Suzann Pettersen took advantage of the long LPGA offseason skiing the slopes of Vail, Colo., with her family during the Christmas break. She will tell you she almost grew up on a pair of skis, dropping her backpack at home after school before racing off to the slopes. She says she skied practically every day of the winter growing up in Norway, where on Saturday she was named the nation’s 2009 Female Athlete of the Year.

Pettersen, 28, is a six-time LPGA winner. Five of those victories came in the 2007 season with her sixth coming last year at the CN Canadian Women’s Open.

Senior writer Randall Mell caught up with Pettersen for a Quick Round.

Did you get to ski some fresh powder in Vail?

Yes, it was fantastic. Vail was like a postcard. It was magical. I just enjoyed the time with my family and doing something different from golf, something I like to do.

Do your managers and family worry about you on those mountainous slopes?

I used to be quite crazy, I’m a little more conservative now, but I make sure I have fun on the slopes. My family’s fairly good skiers, so we compete.

The winter Olympics are right around the corner. Will you watch wondering if you could have made the Norwegian Olympic ski team if you hadn’t chosen golf as your profession?

I probably could have been a professional skier, but I also think I could have gone into physiotherapy. I like the body. I like to work with the body. I like working with people.

The PGA Tour season is underway, but you’re still five weeks away from the LPGA’s season opener in Thailand . Will you get a little stir crazy waiting?

I just enjoy the time off. Once the season kicks in, you are so focused throughout that period, so it’s nice, mentally, to be off. I just enjoy normal life.

Two years ago, the LPGA schedule featured 34 events. There are only 24 on this year’s schedule.

It could have been a lot worse. If you look back at 2009, when we were approaching the U.S. Open in July, there were 12 tournaments on the schedule. At the end of the year, we had 24. There was some great work behind the scenes. There are some empty spots on the front of the schedule, but we take it as a good sign that the next couple years will be strong. The players are still great. It’s still a great product. With our new commissioner, I think we are in a good position to make a step forward.

Are 24 events enough for you?

If I look at my last three years, I haven’t been playing much more than 25 anyway, so I’m looking to maybe add one or two events, in Europe . I think it’s nice to support the European Tour as well, since I represent Europe in the Solheim Cup. For the top players, I think you will see most of us playing virtually all the tournaments, unless they fall oddly in the schedule.

What are your first impressions of the new commissioner, Michael Whan?

I’ve only met him a few times. I know he’s a marketing guy, which I think is a good thing right now, to help us go out and get the sponsors back. I think he will be open minded to different solutions. He seems like a very nice guy and he loves golf. He puts the players first, that’s important. That means he will come to us and talk to us, maybe listen to us.

You start the year No. 3 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings. How ambitious are you? How much do you want to be No. 1?

Obviously, I have a dream, and I am not accomplishing that before becoming No. 1. But there are so many great golfers out there right now, and everyone keeps getting better, so you just have to keep working hard. I would like to be at the No. 1 spot before I end my career.

You broke through in 2007 to win five LPGA events and another on the European Tour. This is a funny question, but was there a little bit of a curse in that, in the sense that you set the bar so high that there’s disappointment in winning just once the last two years?

I was looking for more consistency last year, and I achieved that (with 12 top-10 finishes). I can’t be too disappointed, and I got my win. You want to win multiple times, but, like I’ve said before, you have to make sure you put yourself in a good position. If you keep knocking on that door, the door will open.

We’ve heard a lot from the men about how the new rules governing grooves affects them. What about the women? How are they affecting your game?

I’ve been testing the new grooves, and playing with them for awhile now. It has affected me in that I have to move to a little softer ball, to get the spin on the ball back up. It actually surprised me how much the spin on the ball drops, especially on the wedges. And the ball flight a little bit. Like everything else, you have to practice with it and make sure you know how it works.

You’re one of the tour’s longest hitters. Will you sacrifice power with the softer ball?

I don’t think it’s going to affect my distance that much. If I have to give up a few yards, I would rather do that to have more control with my short clubs.

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Awards season: Handing out the 2017 Rexys

By Rex HoggardDecember 14, 2017, 7:00 pm

After careful consideration and an exhaustive review of 2017 we present The Rexys, a wildly incomplete and arbitrary line up following one of the most eventful years in golf.

 There will be omissions – just keep your calls, concerns and even e-mails to yourself. We appreciate your patronage, but not your feedback.

It’s Not You, It’s Me Award. You know the deal: You can’t be a part of two until you’re a better one; but on this front it’s really just a desire to find a better two.

It was a tough year for caddies, and not just any caddies. In June, Phil Mickelson split with longtime bagman Jim “Bones” Mackay. Both player and caddie cited the need for “change,” but the move reverberated throughout the game.

“The fairytale is over,” mused one caddie when told of the high-profile split.

In the wake of the Lefty/Bones break, Rory McIlroy split with his caddie J.P Fitzgerald, and Jason Day replaced looper/swing coach Colin Swatton on his bag. It all proves yet again that there are only two kinds of caddies, those who have been fired and those who are about to be fired.

Run for the Rose Cup. Sergio Garcia got the green jacket, a lifetime exemption to the game’s most coveted member-member and a long-awaited major, but Justin Rose took home the slightly less prestigious “Rose Cup.”

Following a frenzied afternoon at Augusta National in April, Rose lost to Garcia on the first playoff hole, but he won so much more with his honesty and class.

“You're going to win majors and you're going to lose majors, but you've got to be willing to lose them,” Rose figured following the final round. “You've got to put yourself out there. You've got to hit the top of the leaderboard. There's a lot of pressure out there and if you're not willing to enjoy it, then you're not ready to win these tournaments. I loved it out there.”

Few have made losing look so dignified and fewer still are as easy to root for.

Half-Empty Cup. It was the perfect setting, with sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline and the promise of the Tristate masses descending on this fall’s Presidents Cup.

If only all those rowdy New Yorkers had something to cheer.

For the sixth time in the last seven matches, the U.S. team rolled to a victory of at least three points. This particular edition was even in danger of ending on Saturday afternoon thanks to a particularly dominant performance by a young American squad led by Steve Stricker.

Officials spoke of the purity of the competition and the attention the ’17 cup generated, but however you spin the 19-11 rout, this cup is half empty.

Enigma Award. The actual hardware is simply an oversized question mark and was sent directly to Tiger Woods’ South Florida compound following the most curious of seasons.

While it’s become customary in recent years to consider the uncertain path that awaits the 14-time major winner, this most recent calendar brought an entirely new collection of questions following fusion surgery on his lower back in April, his arrest for DUI on Memorial Day and, finally, a glimmer of hope born from his tie for ninth at the Hero World Challenge earlier this month.

When will he play again? Can he compete against the current generation of world-beaters? Can his body withstand the rigors of a full PGA Tour schedule? Should Jim Furyk make him a captain’s pick now or wait to see if he should be driving a vice captain’s golf cart instead?

Little is certain when it comes to Woods, and the over-sized question mark goes to ... the guy in red and black.

After Further Review Chalice. In April, Lexi Thompson endured a heartbreaking loss at the ANA Inspiration, the byproduct of a surreal ruling that arrived a day late via a viewer e-mail and cost the would-be winner a major championship.

The entire event was so unsavory that the USGA and R&A made not one but two alterations to the rules and created a “working group” to avoid similar snafus in the future.

That working group – it turns out the U.S. Ryder Cup team has some sort of copyright on “task force” – initially issued a decision that introduced a “reasonable judgment” and a “naked eye” standard to video reviews, and last week the rule makers kept the changes coming.

The new protocols on video review will now include an official to monitor tournament broadcasts and ended the practice of allowing fans to call in, or in this case e-mail, possible infractions to officials. The USGA and R&A also eliminated the two-stroke penalty for players who sign incorrect scorecards when the player is unaware of the penalty.

While all this might be a step in the right direction, it does nothing to change Thompson’s fate. The AFR Chalice won’t change the harsh reality, but at least it will serve as a reminder of how she helped altered the rulemaking landscape.

Nothing Runs Like a Deere Award. Nothing gets fans fired up like officials turning fields of fescue rough into hay on the eve of a major championship, and the USGA’s decision to do some 11th-hour trimming at Erin Hills in June certainly caught many by surprise.

Officials said the nip/tuck on four holes was in reaction to a particularly foreboding forecast that never materialized, and the maintenance drew the ire of some players.

“We have 60 yards from left line to right line,” Rory McIlroy said. “You’ve got 156 of the best players in the world here; if we can’t hit it within that avenue, you might as well pack your bags and go home.”

The record low scoring at the U.S. Open – winner Brooks Koepka finished with a 16-under total – didn’t help ease the fervor and had some questioning whether the softer side of the USGA has gone a bit too far?

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Podcast: Daly takes big pride in 'Little John'

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 14, 2017, 5:28 pm

John Daly is a two-time major champion, but the newest trophy in his household belongs to someone else.

That’s because Daly’s son, 14-year-old Little John “LJ” Daly, rallied to capture an IJGT junior golf event over the weekend. The younger Daly birdied the first extra hole to win a five-person playoff at Harbour Town Golf Links, site of the PGA Tour’s RBC Heritage.

Daly recently sat down for a Golf Channel podcast to describe what it’s like to cheer for his son and PNC Father-Son Challenge partner, share the unique challenge presented by the upcoming Diamond Resorts Invitational and reflect on some of the notable highs of a career that has now spanned more than 25 years.

Sneds starts slowly in Masters invite bid

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 4:22 pm

Brandt Snedeker flew halfway around the world in search of a Masters invite, but after one round of the Indonesian Masters it appears he'll likely return home empty-handed.

Snedeker made only two birdies during his opening round in Indonesia, shooting an even-par 72 that left him in a tie for 77th and 10 shots behind leader Justin Rose. This is the final OWGR-rated event of 2017, and as a result it has drawn several notable entrants, including Snedeker, who hope to crack the top 50 in the world rankings by year's end to secure a trip to Augusta National.

Full-field scores from the Indonesian Masters

Snedeker started the year ranked No. 28, but after missing five months because of injury he entered the week ranked No. 51 and is projected to slip even further by the end of the month. As a result, he likely needs a top-3 finish in order to secure a return to the Masters, which he has missed only once since 2007.

World No. 55 Dylan Frittelli also struggled, shooting a 4-over 76 in the opening round, while No. 56 Kiradech Aphibarnrat is tied for 14th at 4 under. Yusaku Miyazato, currently 58th in the world, is tied for ninth and five shots behind Rose.

Should Snedeker and the other hopefuls fail to crack the top 50 by the end of the year, two paths to the Masters remain: win a full-point event on the PGA Tour in early 2018 or be inside the top 50 in the world rankings when the final cutoff is made on March 25.

Nathaniel Crosby at the 1983 Bing Crosby Pro-Am at Pebble Beach. Getty Images

Crosby selected as 2019 U.S. Walker Cup captain

By Will GrayDecember 14, 2017, 3:19 pm

The USGA announced that former U.S. Amateur champ Nathaniel Crosby will serve as the American captain for the 2019 Walker Cup, which will be played at Royal Liverpool Golf Club in Hoylake, England.

Crosby, 56, is the son of entertainment icon and golf enthusiast Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at The Olympic Club as a teenager and earned low amateur honors at the 1982 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also played in the 1983 Walker Cup, coincidentally held at Royal Liverpool, before embarking on a brief career in professional golf, with his amateur status reinstated in 1994.

"I am thrilled and overwhelmed to be chosen captain of the next USA Walker Cup team," Crosby said in a statement. "Many of my closest friends are former captains who will hopefully take the time to share their approaches in an effort to help me with my new responsibilities."

Crosby takes over the captaincy from John "Spider" Miller, who led the U.S. squad both in 2015 and earlier this year, when the Americans cruised to a 19-7 victory at Los Angeles Country Club.

Crosby is a Florida resident and member at Seminole Golf Club, which will host the 2021 matches. While it remains to be seen if he'll be asked back as captain in 2021, each of the last six American captains have led a team on both home and foreign soil.

Started in 1922, the Walker Cup is a 10-man, amateur match play competition pitting the U.S. against Great Britain and Ireland. The U.S. team holds a 37-9 all-time lead in the biennial matches but has not won in Europe since 2007.