May 01

Pettersen (and her back) Are Back in Texas

Pettersen Leads in First Round of North Texas Shootout

I love it when people beat a diagnosis, or least give it a good run for its money. Suzann Pettersen is a golfer with a capitol “G,” and it’s sad to see to someone that excellent and competitive have to sit it out for a long period of time, just because some disc or muscle won’t cooperate.

The last time her back went out on her, it was an eight month layoff, and I can’t help but think she would have made her fair share of noise during that time, had she been able to play. This time, I half-expected the same thing, and perhaps she did as well.

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Apparently, that is not the case. Suzann is leading the North Texas Shootout, despite the fact that it’s supposed to be Stacy’s tournament, being a died-in-the-wool Texan. Treating herself gingerly, Pettersen took good care of herself and putted like a champion to enter a first round 66 – this from a player who is so guarded about her back that she can’t go to the range and hit balls.

pett 1Pettersen leads a pack of pursuers who would not have been chosen by any office pool or Vegas odds maker that I can think of. Assuming that Stacy Lewis would be there would have knocked most people’s wagers out of the park. The group at four under includes: Caroline Masson, who has a bit of a grudge against the course, after blowing it in the final round last year with a 75. She says, though, that it’s not too much in her head – Wouldn’t you know it, there’s Michelle Wie again, one stroke back. Now the office pools are switching their premise to “how long will Wie go without shooting a round over par?” The last time she did it, I was a younger, stronger and smarter person.

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pett 2Cydney Clanton is in the group, an Auburn grad who’s come off the Symetra Tour, appearing confident. I had to do a double-take when I saw the name of Christina Kim in the four under posse. I must admit that I’ve missed her. She’s fun, and I remembered what my parents would say when they met someone who was more fun than average – “Sigh, if she only had a personality.” Apparently, Kim was never really gone. She made thirteen out of twenty cuts last year, even though she hasn’t won since ’05.

Dori Carter joins the minus four group, out of Mississippi. A rookie since 2011, she bought a bike with her first paycheck. Rock stars and other rough-living types, take notice. That’s one of the most wholesome things I can think of to do with a first paycheck.

Cristie Kerr Finally, Cristie Kerr joins in. She’s been playing very well lately, and has won over 15 million since 1997. Now that’s the way to make a living doing what you love.


But still, the news is Suzann Pettersen. A person who can’t truly practice is leading an LPGA tournament. One month ago, her caretakers were afraid to let her fly, or sit for any length of time in something that didn’t fit her perfectly. I have to wonder, how does a person who is strong and a long hitter force themselves to discipline their swing into something less impactful?

Four days of eighteen holes can really take it out of you, and I hope her condition holds steady through the week, and that she won’t miss any real time on tour because of it. For now, though, welcome back.

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