If you happened to watch the LPGA over the weekend, you would have been witness to the ultimate in golf. Suzann Pettersen won the HanaBank Championship in nothing short of dramatic fashion. It was her ninth win on the LPGA Tour and probably one of the most exciting, culminating in a playoff with Scotland’s Catriona Matthew. In the end, they played the par 5 18th hole three times before Suzann became the victor.
What was so interesting to me, was what happened with Suzann’s scoring throughout the event. Pettersen came out of the gate on fire and had a first round course-record of 63! Her second round a was a solid, flames not raging but still smouldering, round of 68. With the fire still stoked, she went into the third and final round with a 5 shot lead over the entire field and a 7 shot lead over her playoff opponent, Catriona Matthew.
There’s always a lot of pressure in any competitive round, but certainly more so in the final round. Of course, when you have the lead nerves can be a factor, or maybe it’s just golf being golf.
Suzann started her final round of play with a par on the first hole, par on the second then a double bogie on the par 3 third! A birdie on the 4th…whew! She finished the remaining holes on the front nine with 4 pars and a birdie. Now for the back nine. A birdie on 10, a par on 11 and a double bogie on the par 3 12th. She finished her final six holes of the day with 5 pars and a birdie. A final round score of 74. She then found herself in a playoff situation with Catriona who shot a cool 67 for her final round. Remember, she wasn’t even in the picture at the start of the day! She was 7 shots off the lead, now she’s heading off to the 18th hole for the playoff and possibly the win! This is the ultimate, “It’s Never Over Until It’s Over” scenario. Can you imagine? She watched the final groups come in and decided that while she waited, she should make a few putts. She was 11 under after all and of course she must have thought, “what if something happened.” The camera kept going back and forth from Catriona on the practice putting green to Suzann on the golf course. Then, it happened…they found themselves in a playoff. And so it began. Both players were good off the tee and solid in their approach shots to the green. However, they found themselves slipping their birdie putts just inches by the hole. Catriona’s birdie attempts were long and dramatic whereas Suzann’s where more within reach each and every time, one birdie putt closer than the one before. It took three attempts at the 18th hole until Suzann finally rolled her birdie putt dead in the center of the cup! Clearly, this was Suzann’s “It’s Never Over Until It’s Over” moment. Two entirely different scenarios presented the same theme. They both played the best they could play over the course of the event.
One of the most interesting facts was the enormous difference in the scoring spread for each player. Catriona had a 3 shot spread with rounds of 68, 70 and 67. Suzann’s scoring spread was a huge one. It was 11 shots! Her rounds were 63, 68 and 74. Here’s something to ponder, if Suzann had an opening round of 74 instead of a record-setting 63, would it have changed the outcome? I think not. I think if Suzann had shot a 74 instead, and you asked her what she thought her chances were to win, she might have very well said, “It’s Never Over Until It’s Over.”