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Pettersen (back) hitting balls, hopes to play next week

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Suzann Pettersen returned to work Wednesday with swing coach David Leadbetter at ChampionsGate in Orlando in hopes of teeing it up at next week’s LPGA event in San Francisco.

Pettersen, who hasn’t played since aggravating a disc in her back three weeks ago, is on the commitment list to play the Swinging Skirts Invitational at Lake Merced Golf Club.

“She hopes to be ready, but she’s taking it day by day,” said Dan Levy, her manager.

Pettersen, 33, is following a rehab program designed by Tom Boers, the therapist who has helped Fred Couples, Davis Love III and Ernie Els with golf-related back issues. She withdrew from the Kia Classic and the year’s first major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, with back pain.

“She’s feeling better,” Leadbetter told GolfChannel.com.  “She’s not in pain anymore, and she may play next week, but she’s not certain. She doesn’t want to rush it.”

The biggest issue might be the five-hour flight from Orlando to San Francisco. Pettersen couldn’t sit for 10 minutes without significant pain when Leadbetter saw her at Mission Hills before she withdrew from the Kraft Nabisco. They worked a short session Wednesday on the range.

“She didn’t do her normal practice session, but she hit the ball pretty well,” Leadbetter said. “We probably hit balls for a half and then worked on the short game. It was just an hour overall, really, which is normally a warm-up session for her.

“I was quite impressed. She actually hit it really well, looked like she hadn’t missed a beat.”

Pettersen’s a workout warrior. Leadbetter said she’s probably going to have adjust her future training regimen.

“It’s probably a little bit of a wakeup call, because she does go at it pretty hard,” Leadbetter said. “She is a super athlete, and it’s a lifestyle thing with her. I told her if she didn’t work out the rest of the year, she would still be more fit than most players.”