World No. 2 Suzann Pettersen fired a three-under 69 for a total of 279 in the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship yesterday to defend her title, saying she is ready to take the world No. 1 spot.
“It feels great to come here and defend my title, and play as well as I did,” the Norwegian said after the tournament.
The win — the first time she has had to defend a title — helped boost Pettersen’s bid to catch world No. 1 Inbee Park, who finished a disappointing 28th at the previous weekend’s KEB-HanaBank Championship in South Korea and skipped the event in Taiwan.
“Yeah, being No. 2 is pretty much the first loser and I’ve been No. 2 behind four great No. 1s. I’ve been the number behind Annika [Sorenstam]. I was No. 2 behind Lorena [Ochoa]. I was No. 2 behind Yani [Tseng] and I’m two behind Inbee,” Pettersen said. “I didn’t feel quite ready to take on that role. Now, I feel my game is progressing. It’s getting stronger. I think personally, mentally, I’m ready to take on No. 1... That’s my drive, that’s my goal.”
The 32-year-old had a tough Saturday when she carded one-over 73, narrowing her lead to four strokes ahead of Azahara Munoz, Yoo Sun-young and Carlota Ciganda.
While admitting wind had given her difficulty at the Sunrise Golf and Country Club in Yangmei, Taoyuan County, since teeing off on Thursday, Pettersen said that yesterday Munoz presented an “even bigger challenge.”
“She played really good on the front nine, well, she played really good all around. I think I can almost thank her for keep pressing and keep pushing me, because I just had to keep staying aggressive and trying to make birdies,” Pettersen said.
Pettersen carded three birdies in the final nine holes to offset the pressure when Munoz was four-under through 12 holes.
Munoz said she “misjudged the wind a little,” but added: “I played really well and I had a chance, and I’m happy with my week.”
Caroline Hedwall of Sweden came in third on 286, followed by Ji Eun-hee of South Korea, who carded 287.
Taiwan’s Tseng said that she deserved an “F” for her poor performance in her home tournament.
Tseng, who started the day with a three-round total of 10-over 226, had a smooth start yesterday as the former world No. 1 shot a birdie on 13.
However, the 24-year-old later bogeyed the tricky 373-yard par-four seventh to finish tied for 40th place.
“I would only give myself a 59 [out of 100] for my performance,” said Tseng, who finished third last year and won the tournament the previous year.
“If the scores for the first two rounds and the last two rounds were calculated separately, I would get better scores [for the last two],” she joked.
The Taiwanese player said she repeated the same mistakes, hitting too softly on several holes on a course she has dominated in the past.
“I putted much better today, compared with the first two rounds,” she said, noting that she had three-putted six times in the second round for six bogeys and no birdies.
Wearing her lucky color pink yesterday, the local favorite said it was a pity that she did so poorly in the first two rounds.
“I simply fell way behind,” she added.
The highest-ranked Taiwanese was Candie Kung, who shot a one-under 71 yesterday to finish tied for 11th place on three-over 291. Tseng was best of the rest of the Taiwanese players.