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Pettersen finishes strong to claim Safeway Classic by 2

Birdie barrage gives Norway veteran 20-under total at Columbia Edgewater


by: COURTESY OF JOHN LARIVIERE - Suzann Pettersen follows a tee shot during Sunday's final round of the LPGA Safeway Classic. She won the tournament by two shots at Columbia Edgewater Country Club.Before she left the course on Saturday with a disappointing third-round 70, Suzanne Pettersen said she thought she had one more low score in her.

She was right.

Pettersen's birdie barrage made up for a double bogey on the par-3 2nd hole and gave her the LPGA Safeway Classic title at Columbia Edgewater Country Club.

The 32-year-old from Norway has been in a groove of late, with five top-10s (but no victories) in six tour stops and a Solheim Cup triumph with the European team coming into the Portland tourney.

"It feels like I've been knocking on the door," she said.

With the expanded Safeway Classic lasting 72 holes for the first time since its inception in 1972, Pettersen took advantage.

The 2011 Safeway champion birdied seven holes out of nine after her double bogey to seize control and set up her 12th career LPGA crown.

After the last of those birdies, on No. 11, Pettersen's lead was two over Cristie Kerr.

No one was able to challenge Pettersen down the stretch. She finished with a 5-under-par 67 and a 20-under, 268 total, good for a two-stroke victory.

Stacy Lewis took second at 18-under 270. Lewis fired a 68 but missed some mid-range birdie tries down the stretch that might have applied some pressure to the leader.

"It was a little frustrating," Lewis said. "I played really good, though, so I can't be too upset. A lot of those putts I hit exactly where I wanted to, and they didn't go in."

Lewis went the entire week without a bogey.

"A bogey-free tournament I've never done before. I keep checking things off my coach's list," she said.

But that wasn't enough. Not with Pettersen in high gear.

"I didn't realize Suzann had gotten out to 21(-under) on No. 13. I didn't expect her to be that far (ahead)," Lewis said. "She played some really good golf. I had chances near the end, but I wouldn't hit any of those shots any different. You would think if you went bogey-free, you'd win the tournament, but everybody's scoring so low."

Everybody, it seemed, except the third-round leader, Yani Tseng, whose wheels came off on Sunday.

Tseng had a three-shot advantage after her third-round 63, but she all but shot herself out of contention in the early going Sunday. Playing in a twosome with Pettersen, she also double-bogeyed No. 2, then bogeyed the next two holes to fall to minus-14.

Tseng's day never really picked up. She did birdie Nos. 5 and 7, but lost ground again with bogeys on 9 and 10.

The No. 1-ranked player in the world just two years ago, Tseng wound up with a fourth-round 78. She had to settle for being part of a six-way tie for ninth place at 12-under.

Lizette Salas rolled in an 18-foot birdie putt on the 18th, putting her at 17-under and into third place.

Kerr nabbed fourth at 16-under after her closing 69.

Caroline Masson was fifth with a 70 and 15-under total.

Kerr won the Safeway Classic in 2008, the last time it was played at Columbia Edgewater before a four-year run at Pumpkin Ridge.

She was still within two strokes of Pettersen when she pulled her approach left of the greenside bunker on No. 15 and failed to get up and down from a tough location. It was her first bogey in 32 holes.

Pettersen credited her putting for her second win of the year.

"I wasn't feeling awfully good with the long game, but the putter was definitely a good friend of mine," she said. "Has been all week."

Pettersen had a hiccup on the par-3 16th, missing the green short and then leaving her initial chip still shy of the putting surface.

"Bad swing. Even worse chip," she said.

But she then chipped inside three feet and saved bogey.

"It was a good 4," she said, able to smile about it after the round.

Routine pars on the home two holes protected her two-shot cushion over Lewis.

"I wasn't feeling too comfortable down the stretch," Pettersen said, "but I was putting really good."

And the big key was putting her double-bogey on No. 2 behind her so quickly.

"It was a disaster of a hole," she said. "I felt like an amateur. It ewas just an 8-iron."

But, "I decided before I went out (today) just not to have too many reactions, good or bad. I knew there were birdies out there if you really got it going."

Pettersen collected $195,000 for her win in the $1.3 million Portland event. Lewis earned $117,114.

Pettersen ranks third on the LPGA season money list with $1,233,82, behind No. 2 Lewis. ($1,436,497) and runaway leader Inbee Park ($2,179,877), who withdrew from the Safeway Classic, citing an illness.

Sunday's win was a big lift for Pettersen, coming a week after she shot 72 the final day at the Canadian Women's Open and watched as 16-year-old amateur Lydia Ko went around in 64 to win and beat her by eight shots for the tourney.

"I played really good last week and made a mess out of the last round," Pettersen said, "so I was happy to have another event to play this week, beause I felt like I had some unfinished business to do."