Suzann Pettersen's final competitive shot proved to be one of the greatest clutch putts ever. The Norwegian is the first on the five-strong shortlist for NCG's Player of the Year
David Leadbetter knows Suzann Pettersen better than most having worked with the Norwegian since 2008. The highlight of their time together came at the Evian Championship in 2013, the first year it was played as a major, when Pettersen doubled her tally.
So we asked the legendary coach to describe how a player who has been out for nearly 20 months can hole the winning putt from eight feet, with break, in the Solheim Cup. It will go down as one of the greatest clutch putts in the history of the game as well as her last competitive shot after Pettersen announced her retirement in among all the celebrations.
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“First of all Suzann’s the ultimate competitor and you could see that in her play and it was a mark of her career really,” Leadbetter tells NCG. “The Solheim to her is the ultimate and it really gets her juices flowing.
“She played so much golf for so many years, so the time off and not playing for so long was probably a really good thing mentally. Probably her biggest flaw was that she is so hard on herself and a perfectionist so it will have been a good chance to reflect on things.
“She’s had good fundamentals for a number of years, it’s not like riding a bicycle but the thing you lack is the tournament feels but from a technique point of view it was as good as ever. She has one of those swings which has a lot of longevity attached to it and she’s very strong. That said I can’t recall anyone doing anything like this.
“Suzann always had a very good swing. By not playing for that long there will be a bit of ring rustiness but with the matchplay aspect she can use her psyche and course management and put it all together. There were a few loose shots but you can afford that, if you lose a hole then so be it. She is one of those people in the game who has the real intimidation factor and she certainly makes her presence felt.
“Physically she’s a very fit person. She was probably the fittest player on the LPGA Tour which will have helped, and with the good memories from the past she will have been able to conjure up the necessary form and desire to do what she did. The last putt was very Suzann.
“I had a funny feeling that she would hole it, it’s difficult to will the ball in the hole but she seems to have that ability. When the chips dropped she performed. You couldn’t have written a better script, it all came down to that putt. It was a very interesting way to sign off – she’s a leader and what Beany (Catriona Matthew) was looking for, looking for someone to lead the pack. One day she’ll be a great captain. Beany wanted a couple of solid points and someone to help a young player like Anne van Dam along the way.
“I haven’t had a lot of contact in recent years but she worked so hard and was so focused on her golf for the last 30-odd years so it didn’t surprise me that she was going to retire. Suzann’s an all-or-nothing type of person and playing part time wouldn’t have satisfied her. She always said she would retire well before 40 and she did it at 38 – she had a great career and what she did will go down in Solheim folklore for forever and a day.”
Pettersen is the first of a five-strong list of candidates for NCG’s Player of the Year. Stay tuned throughout the week for the other contenders.
Leadbetter was talking to NCG on behalf of the David Leadbetter Golf University, an online platform that uses the latest interactive training techniques to educate coaches with input from several experts in various areas of the game, including fitness and conditioning, sports psychology, and technical swing instruction.