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Pettersen has chance to overtake Park in 2014 debut

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Matt Kuchar of the US tees off on the first hole at the Northwestern Mutual Challenge golf tournament in Thousand Oaks, California on December 5, 2013. The Tiger Woods Foundation announced recently that the annual unofficial event hosted by the 14-time major champion will move to Florida in 2014 following the final World Challenge contested at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, west of Los Angeles, from December 5-8th. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

Rolex world No. 1 Inbee Park won’t be teeing it up this week at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, but No. 2 Suzann Pettersen, No. 3 Stacy Lewis and No. 4 Lydia Ko are all in the field at Victoria Golf Club.

Park is scheduled to make her 2014 LPGA debut at the Honda LPGA Thailand next week, where she will be the defending champion.

Pettersen will make her 2014 debut this week with a chance to overtake Park as the new Rolex world No. 1. Pettersen should ascend with a victory this week, possibly even with a second-place finish. The LPGA projections won’t be final until later in the week.

Pettersen has been No. 2 behind four different players in her career, but she has never been No. 1. Remarkably, despite Park’s record-setting year winning three majors and six LPGA titles in 2013, Pettersen entered last year's season finale at the CME Group Titleholders with a chance to overtake Park as No. 1. Pettersen fell short.

“That’s what has kind of driven me through the winter,” Pettersen said. “I was glad I didn't get to that spot, because it's also given me a little bit more motivation to dig a little bit deeper and grind it a little bit harder.”

Pettersen, 32, is downplaying talk she could rise to No. 1 this week.

“I just want to check how good I can possibly be,” Pettersen said. “That’s my entire dream. That’s my goal. If that is being No. 1, if that is being No. 2 for the rest of my life, then that's what I got. I feel like I've got more in me. I feel like my best golf is still to come.”

Pettersen tends to feast on the LPGA’s Asian swings, which begins next week. She has won six professional titles in Asia, five of them LPGA titles.

Pettersen is scheduled to go off with Lewis and Australia’s own Karrie Webb in the first two rounds of the Women's Australian Open. They’re off at 1 p.m. local time on Thursday (5 a.m. ET). Ko is scheduled to tee it up with Beatriz Recari and Azahara Munoz at 1:10 p.m. local time on Thursday (5:10 a.m. ET).