Pettersen eager to return to major stage


PINEHURST, N.C. – The first LPGA major of the year boasted a star-studded leaderboard, with Lexi Thompson outlasting Michelle Wie to win the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

While the tournament provided dramatic storylines, one notable name was missing: Suzann Pettersen.

Pettersen was ranked No. 2 in the world when she withdrew from Kraft because of a nagging back injury, ending her streak of 33 straight major championship appearances. This week she arrives at Pinehurst for the U.S. Women’s Open, ranked No. 4 and eager to get back on one of the biggest stages in the women’s game.

“It was quite a bummer to miss Kraft,” Pettersen said Tuesday. “I won two majors and I would really love to win the remaining three during the rest of my career. To miss Kraft, which has been a good major to me over the years, was very painful.”

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The Norwegian has made five starts since returning from injury, tying for eighth two weeks ago at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic.

“I’m ready for this week to get started and I’ve been able to prepare the way I have wanted to, so I can’t complain,” she said. “Just happy to be back.”

Pettersen had a career year in the majors in 2013, with four top-five finishes including a win at the Evian Championship. The lone outlier among that group was the U.S. Women’s Open, where she missed the cut at Sebonack, but despite last year’s setback Pettersen insists that she looks forward to the mental and physical challenge that awaits this week at Pinehurst No. 2.

“USGA, they want to really get into your head, move the tees around. They will have you think, which I love,” said Pettersen, whose best finish in this event came in 2010 when she tied for second. “I’ve always been a big fan of U.S. Opens. As much as you might hate it as it kind of goes down, you look back and you think that it actually made you a better golfer.”