CAMBRIDGE, Ont.— It was a two-horse race down the stretch at the Manulife LPGA Classic this weekend.
Suzann Pettersen stepped to the first tee with the lead on Sunday morning, and fended off 2012 champion Brittany Lang in windy conditions to win her 15th LPGA Tour title.
“It feels fantastic. I feel like I played some pretty good golf this week,” said Pettersen, at the post-round press conference. “I managed to keep my head together (despite early bogeys) and play aggressive.
“It was a good day on the golf course.”
Pettersen birdied the par-3 17th hole to move to 22 under par, enough to beat Lang by one stroke. The champion thought she had more of a buffer between her and second place when she was on the 17th tee though.
“If you had told me that I was all square with Brittany, I would have been a little more nervous over that putt,” said the 34 year old who became the first European to win the title. “I felt really relieved (when the putt dropped) because I thought I was two or three clear.”
The native of Oslo, Norway had not won on tour since winning four times in 2013, a stretch of 35 straight starts that was difficult at times. A change in coach at the end of last season has helped her find the form she had two years ago.
“Butch (Harmon) is a great mentor more than anything,” said Pettersen, asked why a new coach has had such a positive impact so quickly. “He makes you work hard, and hard work pays off.”
Pettersen will travel to New York tonight to prepare for the second major of the season, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, that takes place next week.
The Canadian Story
While Canada’s winless streak continued, Alena Sharp took home the honour of top Canadian for the third time in the four years that the Manulife Classic has existed. She finished the week at 10 under par despite shooting one over on Sunday.
“Today I was one over, but the conditions were pretty tough,” said the Hamilton, Ont., native. “I think if it wasn’t windy the scores would have been really low again so I’m really happy with my progress.”
Sharp finished in a 12-way tie for 27th, improving on her previous best finish of 30th at the Manulife. She also moved inside the top-70 in the Race for the CME Globe, a year long competition that concludes with the CME Group Tour Championship at the end of the season.
“Every week, I’m going to keep chipping away at it and keep myself in position so that I don’t have to worry about (qualifying for the playoffs) at the end of the year,” said the 218th ranked player in the world. “I just want to keep building on the momentum that I had going into this week.”
Before Sharp finished her round, Sue Kim was the top Canuck in the clubhouse after posting a 1-under-par 71 to finish the tournament at five under.
“I really learned how to be patient out here,” said the Langley, B.C., native, on how this weekend helped her prepare for next week’s major. “There are lots of birdies out here and I really didn’t want to be going after it when it’s going to come to you.”
Sara-Maude Juneau, of Fossambault, Que., finished one stroke back of Kim in her first LPGA event of the year.
“I mis-clubbed twice on my two bogeys at 14 and 15, and I didn’t make my pars,” said the 27 year old, who made her first LPGA cut this week. “Other than that I was right there in the fairway, I had good chances.
“I wasn’t making a lot (of putts) but overall I am really happy about this week.”
Rounding out the Canadian contingent was Monday qualifier Natalie Gleadall. The Stratford, Ont., native had a rough round on Sunday finishing with a six-over-par 78, but said the crowd made it enjoyable.
“I was definitely the local girl this week and all these people from Stratford came out to support me,” said the 24 year old to a group of reporters. “I am just so thankful that they came out and that I have as many supporters as I do.”
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