Portland Classic Presented by Cambia Health Solutions
Columbia Edgewater Country Club
August 27, 2014
Rolex Rankings No. 4 Suzann Pettersen
Rolex Rankings No. 29 Charley Hull
The LPGA continues its storied history in the City of Roses this week when it returns to the Pacific Northwest for the Portland Classic Presented by Cambia Health Solutions. The Tour is back for the 43rd year in Portland and will be hosted by Columbia Edgewater Country Club for the 28th time. Rolex Rankings No. 4 Suzann Pettersen will try to defend her title this week and has a shot at joining Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez as the only three-time winners of the event.
Pettersen won in 2011 when it was held at Pumpkin Ridge. Last week’s champion, So Yeon Ryu, is playing some of the most consistent golf of Tour as of late and coming in on a huge wave of momentum. The No. 5 player in the world finished at 23-under par at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open for her third career victory and first since 2012.
DEFENDING CHAMP ROLLING
The only player on the LPGA Tour with five consecutive top-10s heading into this event is the one without a win this year - 14-time winner Suzann Pettersen. Pettersen, the defending champion here in Portland after finishing at 20-under-par a year ago, is ranked the No. 4 player in the world and won four times a year prior.
“Golf is a funny game because sometimes you can play, you can scramble and you can win tournaments. Other times you’re so close and you’re actually playing so much better golf,” Pettersen said. “You feel like you’re so much more in control of the game, and you just can’t kind of close the door.”
OLD STOMPING GROUNDS
Suzann Pettersen wasn’t able to play a practice round on Monday or Tuesday here in Portland because of prior engagements with Nike. However, arriving as the defending champion here to Columbia Edgewater Country Club, she knows what it’s going to take to win here without taking another look at the golf course.
“This is old, traditional golf course. It’s a driver’s golf course, I would say. I mean if you find the fairways here, you’ll give yourself a lot of great looks,” Pettersen said. “If the conditions stay like this, I heard it’s a little bit firmer. I don’t think there’s too much rain in the forecast, so it’ll be nice if it plays a little bit fast.”
She’ll take a certain swagger around on Thursday that comes with being a two-time champion at this event – once at Pumpkin Ridge and once here.
“Obviously, you have good memories and you feel like you know the course. You kind of have a good strategy of how to get around,” Pettersen said. “I feel like this is like a hometown to me with all the Nike crew and Nike people. It’s just a nice atmosphere here.”
COMMITED TO A CAUSE
As of right now, Charley Hull would be 44th on the LPGA money list based off of where she’s finished this year in LPGA events. Normally, that’d be easily enough to finish in the top-80 that allows players to retain their card. However, Hull is not an LPGA Tour member, she’s a Ladies European Tour member, so she needs to finish in the top-40 to earn status next year based on her money earned.
With only two events left – the Portland Classic Presented by Cambia Health Solutions and the Evian Championship – to qualify because she’s not in the Yokohama Tire Classic field, Hull knows she’s got work left to do.
Her mindset’s remains unchanged though.
“Just try and win. Everywhere,” Hull said. “That’s the way I try and look at it.”
But regardless, the goal is simple – the LPGA Tour.
“But yeah, no, I definitely want to be out here next year. If not, I’ll have to go back to Q-School,” Hull said.
Thanks to her Rolex World Ranking, which climbed as high as No. 26 but is now at No. 29, Hull automatically gains entry in the final stage of Q-School if she’s not able to work her way into the top-40. She’s in the field at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia via a sponsor’s exemption, but because the event doesn’t have a cut, the money doesn’t count towards the money list and status.
Heading into last week’s Canadian Pacific Women’s Open, Hull had been off for four weeks straight. She played the RICOH Women’s British Open, where she finished in a tie for 12th, and played an event in Germany but then was off for four weeks. The time off drove her nuts, and she was itching to get back out last week when she finished in T55 in Canada.
“It’s good to get back into it, because I didn’t like having weeks off. It was a bit frustrating,” Hull said. “But to make the cut last week and to play half decent, you know, I didn’t shoot over par, so slowly getting into it for the Evian.”
In her 12-year career, Suzann Pettersen has learned how to be a strong finisher. The 14-time LPGA Tour winner not only knows how to close out tournaments but has also shown over the past two seasons how to finish off seasons on a strong note.
Starting with her win in Portland last year, Pettersen won three times and recorded three top-five finishes in her final seven events. Two years ago she won twice in her last four events. Asked whether she has a sense of urgency toward the end of the season, Pettersen just thinks things happen to click for her at this particular time on the calendar.
“No. I don’t know. I always seem to play well in the fall,” said Pettersen. “This year the spring wasn’t quite what I anticipated, and late summer, up until now I’ve been playing really good…But I’m playing well, so I mean it’s just about being patient enough to just let it come. It’s kind of tough when you feel like you’re playing some of the best golf I’ve ever played. I’m hitting the ball fantastic. I’m rolling the putts better than I have.”
Pettersen said it has been a balancing act of whether she can take her close calls as frustration or encouragement. She wants win No. 15 badly and hasn’t had a winless season since 2010.
“That’s almost the tough part,” said Pettersen. “So you just gotta work on being even more patient and just be as calm as I can, and I’ve completely lost it a couple of times on the course lately, which is not very helpful.”
THIRD TIME’S A CHARM
Suzann Pettersen has a chance to join some elite company this week and could write her name next to Hall of Famer Nancy Lopez as the only three-time winners of the longest-running, non-major event on the LPGA Tour. Other two-time winners include Kathy Whitworth, JoAnn Carner and Annika Sorenstam.
“Thinking about it is cool. It’s nice to be in a position like that, but you don’t really want to get too ahead of yourself,” said Pettersen. “But definitely a list I would be quite proud to possibly join. But we’ll see what the next couple of days brings, and hopefully I can be there on Sunday and fight it out.”
THE SOCIAL SCENE:
Danielle Kang took part in the LPGA Facebook Takeover on Wednesday and answered fan questions from the LPGA Facebook account.
THE SOCIAL SCENE II:
So Yeon Ryu took over the LPGA’s Instagram accout to take fans through a typical day with the three-time Tour winner. Ryu snapped a shot as she ran alongside Yani Tseng in her morning workout.
“Good morning! We start a day at the gym :) #LPGADayInTheLife @1soyeonryu @yanitseng”
TV TIMES THIS WEEK
The airtimes for the Portland Classic Presented by Cambia Health Solutions on Golf Channel are as follows:
Thursday Aug 28 - 6:30 PM-9:30 PM ET
Friday Aug 29 - 7:00 PM-9:30 PM ET
Saturday Aug 30 - 7:00 PM-9:30 PM ET
Sunday Aug 31 - 7:00 PM-9:00 PM ET
THE MODERATOR: All right. Well, you have to feel pretty good about coming into this week. Playing very well.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah. I've been playing very good. Always exciting to come in here. A little bit more on the agenda than just golf. It's always nice to see all the people with Nike. Had a couple of meetings on Monday, photo shoot on Tuesday. So you really appreciate when you finally can get some time just out on this beautiful golf course and just play some golf. Can't wait to get started.
THE MODERATOR: Tell us about the course. Everyone says probably the best condition it's been in a while. I know you love it here.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I haven't seen it.
THE MODERATOR: You haven't practiced at all?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: No. I'm playing the pro am, though.
THE MODERATOR: Dang.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: So I know what this course has to offer, and all you just gotta adjust to is the speed of the greens.
But it looks in great shape, and everyone's been raving about it, so I anticipate it's going to be in good shape.
Q. You know, you won here last year. You've won at Pumpkin Ridge, two really different kinds of courses. But is this a good fit for you because of your ability to shape shots?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, Pumpkin Ridge I never really liked, and this one I never really liked either (laughs) until I won. And I did the photo shoot over at Pumpkin Ridge, and obviously it brought some good memories back.
Played some good golf there. I mean I lost in the playoff once and won once, and here I've been awfully close and then won last year.
This is an old, traditional golf course. It's a driver's golf course, I would say. I mean if you find the fairways here, you'll give yourself a lot of great looks, and if the conditions stay like this, I heard it's a little bit firmer. I don't think there's too much rain in the forecast, so it'll be nice if it plays a little bit fast. So yeah.
Q. If you win, you'll be the second three-time champion in this tournament.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah, Nancy Lopez.
Q. Does that mean anything to you?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Thinking about it is cool. It's nice to be in a position like that, but you don't really want to get too ahead of yourself. But definitely a list I would be quite proud to possibly join.
But we'll see what the next couple of days brings, and hopefully I can be there on Sunday and fight it out.
THE MODERATOR: At this point last year when you won here, it kind of spurred an awesome finish to the season. You went onto win, including here, three times and closed out the season I think historically very well. What do you mostly attribute that to? Do you think stamina, pace yourself.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: No. I don't know. I always seem to play well in the fall. This year the spring wasn't quite what I anticipated, and late summer, up until now I've been playing really good. Felt like I had an awful good chance of winning the British, and I was in a great position in Rochester until the last day when I kind of had a meltdown on Sunday.
But I'm playing well, so I mean it's just about being patient enough to just let it come. It's kind of tough when you feel like you're playing some of the best golf I've ever played. I'm hitting the ball fantastic. I'm rolling the putts better than I have.
So it's like -- golf is a funny game because sometimes you can play. You can scramble and you can win tournaments. Other times you're so close and you're actually playing so much better golf. You feel like you're so much more in control of the game and you just can't kind of close the door.
That's almost the tough part. So you just gotta work on being even more patient and just be as calm as I can, and I've completely lost it a couple of times on the course lately, which is not very helpful.
THE MODERATOR: Then you've struggled with between frustration and taking it as encouraging that you've been so close.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah. I've been playing solid. Last week I played as poorly as I could, and I was 13, 14-under par. But every day felt like you could go out and shoot 8-under par. So just been trying to keep it consistent and doing the work that I feel is needed. Yeah.
THE MODERATOR: Do you treat title defenses any differently or just feel better, the same week?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Obviously you have good memories and you feel like you know the course. You kind of have a good strategy of how to get around.
I feel like this is like a hometown to me with all the Nike crew and Nike people. It's just nice atmosphere here.
Q. What was the time when you were out with the back injury like for you?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Awful. But to be quite honest, when it's so bad, you don't even think about golf. So it's almost worse being less injured and being semi close to playing, should I play or not play. I mean you probably could play through an injury. That's different than compared to when you just can't even stand up.
So to be quite honest, it's almost mentally easier when you're so far from golf than when you're kind of getting closer. But it's been really good. Played three weeks in a row. This is the fourth. I'm feeling good, feeling no pain. So I recovered a lot faster than other players in this game from this injury, same injury.
THE MODERATOR: Talk about I know you said you gained distance in some irons and even in your drives without lifting weights after you kind of took off. Any explanation of that or is that just kind of a freak incident?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: It's a bullshit story. (Laughs).
THE MODERATOR: Some exaggeration.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Yeah. No, I like to be fit. I work out. But keep it in moderation. I don't push the boundaries. I don't take the risk of doing something stupid. I know it's too fragile still to be complete blonde and do something you really shouldn't have done.
The priority is golf. I mean when you come back from an injury like that, you kind of really focus on trying to just play as much as you can. It's almost better for me to play than be home a week practicing, because when you play, you actually practice less and hopefully you hit a few less shots on the golf course. So for me it's nice to play and I like to kind of play weeks in a row, get a rhythm.
Q. What is it you don't like about this golf course?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Well, I never seemed to like it. But now I think it's fantastic. (Laughs). It's beautiful trees.
THE MODERATOR: Scenery is great.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Scenery is fantastic. You've got the aircraft right over you. You know the time schedule after a couple of days in a row.
It has some great holes. You've really gotta drive the ball well here, and I guess in the past that's -- I remember it was always like the straight hitters who did well around this place, not necessarily the long ones, but like Rosie Jones played great here, Annika played great here. Some of the Koreans have played really well here.
It's all about placement. If you can hit the fairway, I mean you'll have a lot of fun shots ahead of you.
Q. This is a little bit off, but if I say the name Juli Inkster, what kind of pops in your head?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Juli Inkster, she is a legend out here. I think she is -- I mean I wish I will be like her when I'm her age, that passionate about golf, what she does, so competitive, has such a fantastic sports like sportsmanship to the next level. I have a huge amount of respect of Juli. I mean even though I've gotten to know her, she's a great person, I can have a great laugh.
She's really also one that I've looked up during these years during my career on the LPGA. And really fortunate that I've been able to play alongside players like her, Beth Daniel, Meg Mallon, Rosie Jones. I mean I was fortunate to be out here while they were still playing, compared to some of these young ones where they're not here anymore because they've kind of stepped back. So I think it's fantastic to see Juli so passionate still. All she wants to do is just go out and play golf. So I think that's a great asset to this tour.
Q. What did you think of her as a TV interviewer?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: I think she's great. I think she's actually asked me the best questions ever, of all the interviewers out there. She understands the game. She has the insight. She knows what we're thinking. She knows what to ask. So she has all the skills both on and on the air as a commentator. But I prefer to see her play still.
Q. Two weeks until Evian, what makes that tournament different?
SUZANN PETTERSEN: It's always been different. It's just a unique spot. I've always said if I wanted to get married like in Europe, that would be a fantastic place because it just has that scenery. It's just a romantic spot. You wake up every morning, you get stunned by the views. Not that I'm getting married anytime soon. (Laughs).
It's just kind of -- it's just a stunning spot and obviously the changes that they made to the golf course made it a little bit more challenging, a little bit more of a golf course. I was fortunate to win it last year, first time as a major. Definitely one of those tournaments that has been on the bucket list to win during your career. It's just a fantastic trophy, a nice spot, and yeah.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Go have fun.
SUZANN PETTERSEN: Good, thanks.
THE MODERATOR: All right. So you've been out playing pretty regularly out on the LPGA Tour --
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah.
THE MODERATOR: -- this season. How comfortable do you feel? What's the overall feeling just being out here and splitting time between the LPGA and LET?
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah. I've played in quite a few events. I played in the Kraft, and I played well there, which is the first major of the year, and came in seventh. I played really good in some LPGA events this year. I've had some good Top 10 finishes and did well in the majors that I've been in.
I had like four weeks off, and like I played last week. Before that I had four weeks off, and after British Open -- well, I played British Open, and then I played in Germany, but I had four weeks off after that, so it's good to get back into it, because I didn't like having weeks off. It was a bit frustrating. But to make the cut last week and to play half decent, you know, I didn't shoot over par, so slowly getting into it for the Evian.
THE MODERATOR: What did you do in the four weeks off? What was the time passer?
CHARLEY HULL: I played with -- I kept trying to keep competitive rounds, you know, with my friends. And I played with some of them who play on the European Tour or the men's tour. So it was good to have that competition.
Q. How many more sponsor exemptions are you allowed?
CHARLEY HULL: I'm only allowed one more.
Q. One more?
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah.
Q. After this one?
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah. But I'll be playing in Malaysia because I couldn't get one for the next LPGA event in America, because it was only given away I think locally. It's a bit annoying. Malaysia doesn't count toward the money list for me to get my card because it's a no-cut event.
THE MODERATOR: How much have you been paying attention to kind of where you've been ranking on the Money List? I know that was one of your goals is try to play as many events here and get the experience, but also to potentially get status. How much have you been concentrating on that?
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah. It's been important to me. And you know, I've been playing very well. I've had like a third place finish, a seventh place finish. Top 20s and like a twelfth in a major, seventh in a major. I've been getting a lot of experience, and I've had my first win on the Ladies European Tour as well.
So I'm pretty happy. My world ranking got down to 26 as well a few weeks ago. I think I'm back up to 28, but it's still good and I'm pretty happy with the way I'm going.
Q. Is your plan to try to play out here full time this year?
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah. Yeah. Definitely, 100 percent.
Q. And do you know how much money -- do you have like a projection of how much money you've got to earn the rest of the year to do that?
CHARLEY HULL: I've got to be inside the top 40, but it's usually you've got to be inside the top 80 is it.
THE MODERATOR: Top 80 to regain.
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah. To regain your card. I would have that easy if I was a member of the tour, but I'm not, so I have to be in the top 40. But yeah, no, I definitely want to be out here next year. If not, I'll have to go back to Q-School.
Q. Do you know, are you allowed into the final stages after you do second stage?
CHARLEY HULL: Final stage, because of my world ranking.
Q. Have you ever played out in this area of the country before?
CHARLEY HULL: No. I played down in like Palm Springs, where the Kraft was at the beginning of the year. I've been there a few times, but I haven't been this far north.
Q. Have you had a look at the course?
CHARLEY HULL: I only played nine holes yesterday because my luggage went missing, and I only got it yesterday evening, so I was only playing nine holes. And I'm in the pro am today. I usually like to see two 18 holes of a golf course, but I suppose nine holes in 18 holes is better than nothing.
THE MODERATOR: Did you play nine last night when you got your clubs?
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah, last night. Yeah.
THE MODERATOR: What were your initial thoughts of the course? Did it remind you of anywhere you've played before?
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah. I like the golf course. I think it's really nice. I think it's definitely a low-scoring golf course. The rough isn't too thick, but there's a lot of tall trees, which I really like.
I think it's a pretty golf course as well, so I'm looking forward to this week and see what happens.
THE MODERATOR: I know you've been switching back and forth, LET, LPGA. How much is that experience on just the travel and the grind of losing your clubs and being in stressful situations to hopefully prepare you for next year?
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah. Well, you know, it's been an experience, but it's been really good as well, because you get to see all the ups and downs of traveling. But you know, I've got my clubs now, and I can now compete in the event.
THE MODERATOR: Is that the biggest grind, just the travel of everything? Is that something you've gotten used to pretty quick?
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah. I pretty much sleep on the plane.
THE MODERATOR: Easy sleeper.
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah. Pretty good. It's just probably carrying your luggage around in the airport which is a bit annoying.
THE MODERATOR: Dad doesn't help you with that?
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah, dad does, but I mean even carrying one bag is annoying. That's why I have a small handbag now.
Q. How do you handle the like caddie situation because you're playing in so many different events?
CHARLEY HULL: My caddie?
CHARLEY HULL: Oh, yeah. I have my caddie with me all the time. He just goes out and walks the golf course, tells me where to hit it. And I try and hit it where he tells me to. It makes it easier.
Q. Is it the same guy who caddies for you on the LET?
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah.
Q. Okay. So you're dragging him all over the place?
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah.
THE MODERATOR: What's his name?
CHARLEY HULL: Gary.
THE MODERATOR: What's his last name?
CHARLEY HULL: Wildman.
Q. He's the boss out there, just tells you what to do?
CHARLEY HULL: No, I'm the boss out there. (Laughs).
THE MODERATOR: How long have you guys been together?
CHARLEY HULL: Since the Kraft, so that was my --
THE MODERATOR: This year?
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah.
THE MODERATOR: How did you guys match up?
CHARLEY HULL: He just wanted to be caddie for me, so I was like, okay, because I didn't really want to have a caddie, because I won in Morocco without a caddie. So I was just like, just don't say anything and then you can caddie for me. There you go.
THE MODERATOR: Shut your mouth and get on the bag. (Laughs). Did you use a push cart in Morocco or did you carry?
CHARLEY HULL: No. I had a man who carried my bag and stuff.
THE MODERATOR: A local guy?
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah. But he didn't even like --
THE MODERATOR: Say a word.
CHARLEY HULL: No. He just told me wind's to the right, to the left. I had him in the previous year where I played my first pro event, and that was in Morocco, and I came in second in that event. Then I won it this year, the following year after, so it was good.
THE MODERATOR: With the same local guy, who didn't say a word?
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah. His name is Eunice. I like Morocco, though. I like kind of like the -- I don't know, like the Moroccan countries, the Turkey.
THE MODERATOR: Exotic.
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah. I really like them. Are they more like -- the Arabic kind of countries. I really like them kind of countries.
THE MODERATOR: Middle Eastern. Has anybody helped you out here player wise? I know you're friendly with the Solheim Cup players and stuff. Has anybody played a role in giving you advice or the ins and outs of stuff?
CHARLEY HULL: No, not really. I have like -- I'm quite good friends with Jaye Green because we both grew up together in amateur golf, and you know, just -- not really. I just kind of keep to myself out there.
THE MODERATOR: What are you looking forward to the most at Evian in a couple of weeks? I know you played there last year and didn't make the cut, but it's an event everybody looks forward to, playing in another major.
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah. I'm really looking forward to it. It should be exciting, just keep on getting experience and stuff. I just think it's going to be a great week. Hopefully the weather is better than last year.
You know, just try and do better than last year.
THE MODERATOR: Did you have any goals this year or is it just flat-out make enough money, in top 40 or was it get a win when you're playing on the LPGA?
CHARLEY HULL: Yeah, just try and win. Everywhere. That's the way I try and look at it.
THE MODERATOR: So every event you're coming out and you're going in to win it?
CHARLEY HULL: Uh-huh.