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Patient Pettersen Steals Safeway Classic

by Jeff Skinner

It’s a shame that the LPGA has so few events this year because when they play they are superb.  The final round of the Safeway Classic should have been a battle between leader Na Yeon Choi and Stacy Lewis.  Choi led Lewis by three strokes and the two of them looked ready to go at it.  But no one told Suzann Pettersen that she was out of it.

Pettersen is having a good season with six top tens and a win at The Sybase Match Play Championship.  But this week her second round 74 left her nine strokes off the lead when play started in the final round.  Even she didn’t give herself much of a chance at a win.

A funny thing happened on the way to the scorer’s tent.  She carded five birdies and an eagle on her way to a tournament low, seven under 64 and a share of the lead.  Pettersen finished her round well before the leaders but was in the clubhouse with a share of the lead at six under for the tournament.  Then came the hard part: being patient for the next two hours while Choi finished.

Choi still had eight holes to play and when she birdied seventeen to get to seven under it looked like Pettersen might be left on the driving range without a playoff.  Choi only needed a par on eighteen to claim her fifth career win but a long approach and a poor chip kept her from that par and she finished tied with Pettersen.

On the first playoff hole Choi mis-hit her approach into the water and Pettersen calmly sunk a par putt for her eighth and most unlikely LPGA win.  “I really thought I had no chance…I just tried to grind,” said Pettersen,  “I definitely didn’t think I was going to be sitting here (as the winner) when I started the day.”

This have to difficult for Choi, she finished second here last year and has six top tens so far this season.

Pettersen moves to second in the Rolex Rankings and third on The LPGA Money List, amazing what a little patience can do.

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