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June 17, 2014

Suzann Pettersen


MIKE TROSTEL: Good morning, everyone. Welcome again to the 69th U.S. Women's Open here at Pinehurst No. 2. It's our pleasure to have Suzann Pettersen her in the interview room. Suzann is playing in her 12th U.S. Women's Open, four top-10 finishes, including a tie for second at the 2010 U.S. Open and Oakmont. You've had more than 20 career wins, two Major Championship victories, the 2007 LPGA Championship, and the 2013 Evian Championship. Last year finished in the top-5 in four of the five Major Championships, and this year four top-10 finishes. Suzann, this is a different kind of U.S. Open golf course than you're used to, with no rough. Can you talk a little bit about hitting out of the native areas and how that's different than playing out of the longer rough that you're maybe used to at a U.S. Women's Open.

SUZANNE PETTERSEN: First of all I'm very glad that we're finally here. It's always a big build-up coming -- building up for the U.S. Open, one of the biggest highlights of the schedule. This course looks to me more like a European course, which kind of it suits my eye, it's nice to see other than just high rough and the lush kind of fairways. I think it's a great look. And I was able to play 18 yesterday and I think that the guys made the native areas look really easy. But you can draw some great lies in there and you can be fairly unlucky and be stuck behind some of those small bushes. But in general, you'll be able to advance the ball in the U.S. Open where you used to just hack it out sideways in deep rough. So the course is in great shape, I'm surprised how well they have kept the course. You would think it would be super dry and hard and firm, even on a Monday morning. But the USGA's managed to stay on top of the game and the course is in great shape.

MIKE TROSTEL: You said you watched a little bit of the Men's Open on Sunday. How exciting is this for you to play directly after the Men's Open on the same course?

SUZANNE PETTERSEN: Well, I probably watched pretty much all the telecast for four days, all of the build-up. I just really like to watch the men play. I think you can learn a lot. I was here three weeks, three four weeks ago to play the course, just to kind of have a better visual of kind of seeing the same thing that the guys would be faced with when they played. So if you know what the tee boxes and the fairways and the greens are, that the men are facing you can probably understand it a little better than if you haven't seen it. I think it's a great and very cool thing to be faced with the same challenges as the guys just had last week. Obviously, there's going to be two little bit different games, but you've got to hit fairways, which they're fairly generous and I think this is probably the most fairways the most players have hit in most U.S. Opens that's ever played. It shows the fairways are fairly generous and you've really got to be disciplined hitting into the greens. You've got to find your squares and stick to it. That's tough for me. So I've really got to work on that this week.

MIKE TROSTEL: Very good. We'll open it up to questions.

Q. Most of the guys in this room share something in common with you, in that we think patience is an overrated virtue. How do you go about -- because you're going to hit some good shots this week that just end up in terrible spots. How do you go about getting prepared for that and getting yourself in the mindset that that's just going to happen?
SUZANNE PETTERSEN: Well, you just got to try and minimize the damage when it starts happening. When you start going south, it can quickly go very south. I thought Martin Kaymer was a great example of that last week. On Sunday he probably had everything to lose. And for him to play the way he did around the course, around the greens, just eliminating the big number. You can survive, you can come back from a bogey, it's tougher to come back from double bogeys over and over and over. But what I thought was great last week was you'll see good shots being rewarded and you'll see birdies out there, you might even see eagles. You've just really got to eliminate the big numbers. And patience, I guess is a big key this week. It should be every week, but even so this week. Because USGA, they want to really get into your head, they move the tees around, they will have you think, which I love. I've always been a big fan of the 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. It makes you think, it makes you analyze, and you really have to prepare well and try and stick to that plan.

Q. What were you doing when you were 11 years old and could you have imagined facing a challenge like that when you were that young?
SUZANNE PETTERSEN: Well, I definitely played golf, but I don't know if I could compare my game quite to the best world's best players. For an 11 year old to actually qualify, on this stage, it must be -- it's extraordinary. 11 year old's, I mean I knew what golf was. I practiced and played every day. But it just shows that they start younger and younger and they're so good at such an early age. It's very -- it's kind of scary to look at it from the outside when you're getting older and the younger are only getting younger. So the gap just seems to grow. But hopefully she can have a fantastic week. I'm sure she's already met and played with some of our big idols out here. And for her to draw experience from this is just going to be a huge inspiration, motivation for her to kind of go back and get even better. I'm sure we're going to see her in many, many U.S. Opens to come.

Q. To follow-up on that, there was a nine year old in a sectional qualifier this year for the U.S. Open. How far can the women push this age envelope?
SUZANNE PETTERSEN: I guess age is just a number. If you're good enough, you're good enough. I don't know, I mean a nine year old, 11 year old, I just really wish they also have fun out there and kind of also have a great childhood and kind of -- I always thought that like being diverse at a young age, doing different things, not kind of be -- go too all-in in one sport too early. I think it's really good to have a little bit of variety and a little different experiences from different activities. When you're nine years old, I mean, I was doing everything. It gets to a point where one thing starts taking up a lot of time and you got to, you kind of, I guess your heart kind of gives you the decision of what you want to do. But I really just hope that they're also having fun with it and really enjoying what they're doing. Because it's a long life. In golf you can play forever, so really enjoy it.

Q. You played the practice round yesterday?

Q. How did you play the 5th hole and the 16th hole?
SUZANNE PETTERSEN: Well, the 5th I got on yesterday, it was -- I hit driver, 3-wood. I had like 230, 225 front. So I guess that's going to be fairly reachable all week if you hit a good drive. You saw all the guys, they played that quite aggressively, even though you can get screwed around the greens. And 6, when I played there three weeks ago, it played a lot longer than what we played it yesterday. So I guess USGA wants us to come in with a reasonable club to the green. So for me that was like a blessing to see the tee up that much. I can actually pull out a 6-iron instead of a 4-iron hybrid.

Q. 16?
SUZANNE PETTERSEN: Oh 16. That's a long par-4. I hit a good drive yesterday. I hit a 4-iron to the pin, it was tucked way back.

Q. The length of the golf course, forget the scorecard yardage, in real life, how does this length compare to courses you see each week on the LPGA Tour?
SUZANNE PETTERSEN: I think it's hard to judge the total length of this golf course, because obviously it's playing firm and fast. That's how it's supposed to play and that's how it's going to be playing with it being this hot. It's going to be baking out there. Compared to our regular weeks, yes, it's longer. We rarely see par-4s more than 430, if even that, 420, on the LPGA. Courses I play and practice on, I love to play with the guys. I usually go to the back of the -- all the way back, so for me, I'm used to facing, having more than an iron into par-4s and even on par-3s. But it's whatever you're used to. But I love playing long golf courses, it's going to suit good ball strikers on this course who can kind of spin the ball and come in with a better trajectory, so it's going to be a very true and good test out here.

Q. How are you feeling about your game? I know you missed some time a little bit earlier with the back injury, are you feeling fully healed and ready to go?
SUZANNE PETTERSEN: It was quite a bummer to miss Kraft. I won two Majors and I would really love to win the remaining three during the rest of my career and to miss Kraft, which has been a good Major to me over the years, was very painful. It's painful to miss any tournaments, but Majors in particular. Just really happy I've been able to work on my game, play, I played four events since my back kind of got better with the goal in mind to be able to contend in a U.S. Open. So 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. Just happy to be back.

Q. Obviously just talking about your game and seeing how the course fits with your eye do you see that you can take advantage and be aggressive on this course as what you've talked about in playing and take advantage of those opportunities when you can? Do you think that will be very important in this field?
SUZANNE PETTERSEN: I think so. You saw kind of both strategies last week. Some guys laying back and hitting longer approaches, which probably wasn't the right thing, I think. Then you saw guys being very aggressive. They were hitting a lot of drivers, they were taking it on, because obviously you do hit it out of the fairway, you will be able to advance it most likely. So the word I got from Martin's caddie was like just be aggressive, much better to being in the native area, having a shorter iron than laying back and coming in with less trajectory.

Q. Off topic a bit, with the LPGA Championship, the announcement that they're leaving Rochester after 37 years. My sense has been that some of the veteran players, a little bit sad about leaving Rochester, first of all and just that tournament has always been in Rochester. Some of the newer players don't have much history. They see network TV and the big money and don't really care. What is your thought on the leaving of Rochester and what's happening with the LPGA Championship?
SUZANNE PETTERSEN: Well it depends if you look at me as one of the new players or if I'm one of the veterans out here. I've played many championships in the Rochester area, it's been a fantastic venue for us, the LPGA. We have had crowds unlike any others. The community has been very supportive there. Obviously very sad that this year's going to be the last one. Hopefully we'll be back with another tournament in that area some time in the near future. But it's also very enthusiastic and inspiring for the future of the LPGA, we're moving to bigger, maybe better venues, we're playing better courses. I think we're finally earning the respect and can play good championships on great golf courses. I think that's very exciting for us players, but also for the game of golf. We can test our games on some of the best courses in America and it's always sad, but there's always a time for everything and this is the time for the LPGA to move forward and we're very appreciative of all the support we have had but also time to build new history.

Q. In a similar vein, as exciting as it is to play here on some of these venues that the men have played on in championships, Pine Needles down the road was very good for the Women's Open for years. Would you like to see it in the future still be included as part of the rotation of Women's Open venues?
SUZANNE PETTERSEN: Pine Needles? When did we play? We played there in 2005? 2007. I remember it vaguely. I remember -- I mean Pinehurst is a mecca for golf. This is a great place. Everyone around here is golf nuts. Everybody, whoever you bump into, they know their stuff, they're knowledgeable crowds. Yeah, I think this is a great stop for golf in general, men's or women's. So, yes, I would love to come back here.

MIKE TROSTEL: Suzann, thank you very much and best of luck this week.


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