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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Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.