After sinking the winning putt for Europe at the Solheim Cup, Suzann Pettersen calls time on her professional career, describing it as ‘a perfect closure’.
Just an hour after she created one of the most defining moments in Solheim Cup history, Suzann Pettersen announced her retirement from professional golf.
‘It all leads to this moment’ were the words emblazoned on the 18th grandstand behind her, and there was no more fitting a slogan to describe the final putt of the contest, and the encore to her illustrious professional career.
The moment belonged to the Solheim Cup veteran, who delighted the home crowds with a final hole birdie to win her match, and the contest for Europe, 14.5 points to 13.5.
For Pettersen, it was the perfect way to end an impressive career, and she announced her retirement from the game soon after the celebrations.
“This is it,” said Pettersen immediately after her win. “This is the last you’ll see of me playing in the Solheim. I can’t express it any better. I mean to hole the winning putt, for the winning putt. Nothing beats the Solheim Cup in my career.”
And while it initially sounded like she was just only announcing her retirement from the Solheim Cup, Pettersen then explained during Europe’s winning press conference it was also the end to her professional career.
“I think this is a perfect closure — the end for my at least Solheim career, and also a nice “the end” for professional career. It doesn’t get any better,” said Pettersen, before quickly adding “My professional career, I’m done.
“I’m closing it down tomorrow, and what more can I say? I’m done.
“Obviously life has changed for me,” she continued, referencing the birth of her son. “He’s obviously the biggest thing that’s ever happened for me. But now I know what it feels like to win as a mom. I’m going to leave it like that. “And to do it with these girls, I never thought I was going to be here four months ago until I met Beany this summer. And to have the confidence from Beany to give me the go, yeah, this is it. I’m completely done.”
And what a fitting end it was, clinching the winning putt at the Solheim Cup.
But it was a moment that might never have existed if not for Catriona Matthew taking a chance and choosing the 15-time LPGA Tour winner as one of her four wildcards.
At the time of the announcement there were plenty of questions raised about selecting a team member, however experienced, that had played little professional golf in the last two years.
Pettersen, who had taken 20 months away from the game to start a family, had played just two events in 2019 before being named in the Solheim Cup team, and missed the cut in both: The team event Matthew at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational and the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open.
“She got a bit of stick for getting that pick, but it just shows it was the right one” said Matthew, who said she always had a lot of faith in Pettersen.
But if there were any doubts about her game they proved to be unfounded as she partnered Anne van Dam to win her opening fourballs session 4&2 over Morgan Pressel and Marina Alex, and took her match with van Dam against Brittany Altomare and Annie Park to the 18th on Saturday in a round that included five birdies in six holes for the 38-year-old.
That form continued on Sunday as she went 2up after six holes against Marina Alex in the 11th match of the day, and stayed ahead after losing the eighth hole and winning the 11th. Alex fought back well with back-to-back wins to level the match at the 14th, eventually sending the penultimate match down the final hole.
Standing on the 18th tee, Matthew approached Pettersen, and she knew in that moment her point was important, but didn’t realise that she was standing over the winning putt, thinking instead Bronte Law was behind her in the fairway. Little did she know, Law had already won her match on the 17th, and the defining moment was hers: Miss and the USA would retain the Solheim Cup, or hole it for European victory.
“It’s a dream come true to pull this off here in Scotland, in front of these crowds, for Beany, here at Gleneagles,” said Pettersen. “It doesn’t get any better.
“That it came down to the final putt — I thought Bronte was in behind me in the fairway, but she’s so good, she closes it out on 17. And I actually didn’t know that it was the putt.
“But I knew I was just — I knew it was so close because Beany came up on the 18th tee, and I’m, like, okay, I understand; you don’t have to say much. But it was fun.
After the announcement, both Matthew and teammate Anna Nordqvist paid tribute to the nine time Solheim Cup player.
“I think I’m speaking to everyone on this team,” said Nordqvist. “Suzann has been a big role model for all of us the last couple of years, more than that. I remember my first Solheim Cup in 2009, I got to play alongside a lot of my idols growing up.
“It was Laura Davies, Helen Alfredsson, it was Beany, it was Mimmi Hjorth and Suzann Pettersen — I got to be paired with Suzann my second match and it was really cool. It was definitely one of my best highlights of my career.
“She’s going to be missed. But she’s such a rock star. And me and Hedwall getting paired with Beany and Suzann in July, I knew that was maybe one of the last times I would play with both of them. So it was a pretty incredible experience. But she’s just such a great character and a big role model for all of us.”
“Over the last, I don’t know how long, 20 years maybe — maybe 15 only — she’s been one of the trailblazers in European women’s golf,” said Matthew. “I think we’ve played on maybe seven, eight Solheim Cups together. So, just been a huge part of women’s golf and the Solheim Cup.
“It’s such a special moment for her. If this happens to be her last moment in professional golf, well, may as well go out at the top.”