CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Suzann Pettersen can be forgiven for being slightly distracted at this week’s $2.5 million Ricoh Women’s British Open.
She has more important matters on her mind.
Pettersen is carrying the sorrows of a nation on her shoulders. The Norwegian is in mourning over the tragic deaths of 95 of her compatriots at the hands of Anders Behring Breivik in Oslo and its environs last week.
The 30-year-old Pettersen sported a black armband as a mark of respect to the dead during the final two rounds of the Evian Masters last week. When she wasn’t on the golf course, she tried to get in touch with as many friends as she could. It wasn’t easy.
“It’s still heartbreaking,” Pettersen said. “Over the weekend it was hard to get hold of everybody because everybody was kind of in shock.”
Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg has been defiant in his belief that Norway will emerge stronger after this disaster. Pettersen reinforced that view here at Carnoustie.
“What’s amazing through all this is how we all stick together. We stay strong together. Obviously no one can do anything about what actually happened but we can stay together for the future.
“From my perspective, it’s kind of like 9/11 because of the size of the country, and so many people have been affected. People are really in shock.”
Pettersen does not know anyone who suffered in the tragedy, but that didn’t make the disaster any less tragic.
“It doesn’t matter if you know someone close or someone out there because one loss is one loss for all of us.”
The seven-time LPGA winner could have been forgiven for pulling out of the final two rounds in Evian, but that was never a consideration.
“I think everyone at home would feel like you should go out there and play for us,” she said. “In Norway they actually cancelled all sports events throughout the weekend. Friday night, every bar, restaurant, any public place was closed. It was a ghost town. I thought, sports means nothing when it comes to situations like this. You go out there and you fight for your heart and you fight for your friends and fellow Norwegians at home.”
That’s what Pettersen will be doing this week at Carnoustie. She doesn’t really need any incentive to win the Women’s British Open, but don’t be surprised if there’s a little extra motivation this week.