The Road to The 2011 Solheim Cup at Killeen Castle
Wednesday July 9th 2008
What are your thoughts on Killeen Castle?
Suzann Pettersen: This place looks fantastic and I can’t wait for 2011 to come.
What are your memories of 2002 in Ireland, when you lost a play-off to Iben Tinning?
Suzann Pettersen: In 2002 in my first year on the European Tour I played here and now to come back, we are coming back for the European Tour, the European swing with the Evian and British around the corner, for me this is a great warm up to the British. You never know what to expect really. Just to be here in Ireland, supporting this event, with The Solheim Cup coming up, I love it.
Have you played the Portmarnock Links?
Suzann Pettersen: I played Portmarnock on Tuesday in sunshine just so I know what that’s like. It will be a good event; there will be a lot of creative golf. You have to play creative golf I would say. You have to play creative golf and have you’re shot making sorted out.
Links golf is very different isn’t it?
Suzann Pettersen: It’s very different. In America it’s all about flying the ball, landing it soft, it’s just a different golf. This is how golf was started and it’s nice to be a bit more creative now and again.
The course is in great shape. Of course the wind and the weather will be a factor. I am expecting tough conditions. I think being able to be creative will be vital this week and of course making putts.
What about the finishing stretch?
Suzann Pettersen: I think all 18 are quite tough.
Is it long enough?
Suzann Pettersen: On a links course you might have a 400 yard par four and one day you hit driver, wedge and one day you hit driver three-iron. That’s the beauty of links golf. It will never give you the same picture.
A links course is usually running so you will get a lot of distance from your tee shots. It puts everyone in a different mindset. I used to play a lot of links golf as a junior. Probably some of the English girls will have an advantage. For me, I don’t play links courses that often, maybe once or twice a year depending on where the British Open is played. I prefer this way.
How is your form?
Suzann Pettersen: I’ve had a good couple of months behind me. This is a bit of a test before the British Open, even though Sunningdale will be different to this. It’s a good test and a good chance to support ladies’ golf in Ireland with The Solheim Cup coming up in a few years’ time. Seeing this course makes me want to put time three years ahead already.
How do you rate Europe’s chance in The Solheim Cup next year?
Suzann Pettersen: I follow golf. In America, all of the European players have pretty much have won recently and I think that’s important, to stay in the winning circle. Over here it’s strong players playing every week, which is very good.
Which players from Europe do you think might make the team?
Suzann Pettersen: Rebecca Hudson just won back to back. Melissa Reid is an upcoming star. The French girls: Gwladys is a good team mate. There is one player we will be missing and that is Annika. She is hard to replace. I think all of us have to step up and make room for another up and coming star.
Do you feel that responsibility?
Suzann Pettersen: I will still be the junior. Laura Davies will be the mother on the team. Laura Davies has played in 10 Solheims and if you ask her I will be the junior. I will have to polish the shoes and do the dirty work while she sits back.
Can you explain what is happening re the Koreans?
Suzann Pettersen: They take these fantastic drugs but now the drug testing is a part of our game…(Just joking!) They just start at such a young age and have fantastic programmes in place. One thing is to start as a young kid and take everything out of the picture: golf 24/7. But I also think it’s important to keep your childhood. You only live once and I look back at my childhood and I’m so happy I did all the things I did. I was into all sports. At the age of 13 there was no more time for running around but at least I had the experience of other influences in my childhood. The Koreans learn from such an early age and they come out on the LPGA Tour at 18. They are fearless, they are good.
Is it the way they think?
Suzann Pettersen: They are just brought up with golf and to be a winner and that’s what drives them. I can look back and I don’t think I would have changed my childhood for anything. I think it’s important that when you’re still a child you have fun and play. I think sometimes, if you did the same programme in Norway as they do in Korea, where they are driven so hard and so tough from that age, you will probably have more people dropping out than completing it because the enjoyment is too hard to get. In Korea it seems like, there are so many of them.
I was intense in myself: that’s my personality. I was the one who drove myself nuts every day. I wasn’t pushed by anyone. My parents were supportive but they never pushed me. It was all from in here and I think that’s where it’s got to come from. What you will also see with the Koreans is that they come out early very, very good but you hardly see anyone staying at the top for a long, long time. I think they burn out. They all come out strong but the way they’ve been pushed is very hard to maintain over a long time period. That’s what I find.
I think Jan Stephenson had a go at the Koreans a couple of years ago for not smiling and relating to the crowds.
Suzann Pettersen: I don’t think I can say too much. When you are out there you are out there to do a job. It’s not a muppet show, that’s what I call it. You are not out there to do all this crazy stuff and make the crowds happy. Hopefully you make the crowd happy by playing good golf. I think that’s the first thing but of course it’s important. Without the crowds and without the fans what is women’s golf? Nothing. It is a fine balance.
Are there any plans for a Presidents Cup?
Suzann Pettersen: We already have the Lexus Cup which is Asia versus the rest of the world, which basically means Korea against the rest of the world. That’s also fun because during the Solheim it’s America versus Europe. During the Lexus Cup I might pair up with Morgan. We are all good friends. The Solheim builds up a rivalry but you are playing against good friends, people you are around every week. All of a sudden you are not supposed to talk to each other? I think that is very fake because it doesn’t matter who you play, it’s still a game of respect. I think the game comes first and then we come second.
You don’t buy into that trying to hate them?
Suzann Pettersen: Some do but I find it very hard. You might go out dining with them the week before. Or you were out seeing a movie and then the next week you are not supposed to talk to each other. That is not how it works for me.
I really enjoy what I do and I wouldn’t swap it for anything. You have to make sure that when you are off, you are off. You have to make sure you get the time off and get your energy back. I find it hard to get away from the game for more than a couple of days. Our off time is December. That’s the time to make any changes.
What do you do in your off time?
Suzann Pettersen: It hasn’t really changed for me. The last weekend I watched the women’s final and then I went to Silverstone on Friday. I am a sports freak and I follow all sports no matter what it is. It’s nice being able to sit back and enjoy some good sports. There are a lot of sports roles models. For me, I use them as inspiration for sure.
Have you had any disappointments like Sergio in The Open Championship last year?
Suzann Pettersen: Nabisco last year, a big learning experience. Probably the moment got bigger than the golf. It is hard to say what happened. At the same time as being a very disappointing moment, it was a big learning curve for me. Maybe Sergio will be a good bet for me this time without Tiger playing. Learning the hard way, you appreciate the good things more.
It is so important to put yourself in contention week in, week out, because that is how you’re body learns how to deal with it. You get to feel you’re body.
How do you prepare for a tournament, is it different from event to event or always the same?
Suzann Pettersen: For me it’s the British Open or the Irish Open it doesn’t matter, you want to try to peak and be in a good frame of mind: whatever it takes to get you there on Sunday.
What do you predict for the winning score here?
If it blows, anything under par is good on a links course. It’s all weather based really. You just have to deal with whatever comes to you.
Could you make any comments on Killeen at all?
Suzann Pettersen: From what I’ve seen the course looks absolutely stunning. It looks like it has enough room for the crowds, to host a tournament like The Solheim Cup. As a venue it has a lot of room.
From what I’ve heard women’s golf is still a little bit behind golf generally so hopefully we can build up the Irish Open. Hopefully by 2011 everyone will be really into women’s golf.