European star Pettersen out of Solheim Cup with back injury
Suzann Pettersen was hoping to move past the furor she fueled at the 2015 Solheim Cup by helping return the trophy to Europe.
The 36-year-old Norwegian star’s balky back won’t let her get that opportunity.
Pettersen announced Wednesday that she was pulling out of the biennial event between the U.S. and Europe because a slipped disk.
Catriona Matthew, the 47-year-old Scot who was set to serve as a vice captain for Annika Sorenstam, tool Pettersen’s place in the event that begins Friday at Des Moines Golf and Country Club.
Pettersen angered the Americans in Germany two years ago by insisting that Alison Lee be penalized for picking up her ball when she thought her short second putt had been conceded.
The U.S. went on to stage the biggest comeback in Cup history.
“I think you learn from the past, to say it that way, and (I’m) very disappointed not to play obviously,” said Pettersen, who added that she wasn’t concerned about the reaction from American galleries. “I think what happened two years ago was a very unfortunate situation for all of us and for the game of golf. And hopefully, this year around everyone can play as good as we can and showcase the best women’s golf.”
Pettersen, who has a victory and 12 top-20 finishes on the LPGA Tour this season, qualified to make her ninth Solheim appearance through the world ranking.
She decided to go for a run Saturday in Norway so she wouldn’t tighten up during a wedding that evening. During the jog, Pettersen tweaked the disk — an issue she’s dealt with in the past — and missed the wedding.
Pettersen received treatment after arriving in Iowa on Monday. Pettersen made the call to withdraw Wednesday because the pain left her concerned she’d be at less than full strength.
“If I can’t be 100 percent, I don’t think it’s fair for the team, for my teammates, for us to go out there — and it’s a big task to come here and try to get the Cup back,” Pettersen said. “If you can’t even be 90 percent, there’s no point.”
Pettersen will move into the vice captain’s role vacated by Matthew, who is set to play in her ninth Solheim Cup.
Pettersen’s presence as an assistant coach should come in handy considering four European players are Cup rookies.
“I told her put a headset on. And (Pettersen) said, ‘Maybe you’re going to change your mind once I start speaking,'” Sorenstam joked. “But just having her presence here…we’re here to support each other. No task is too little for anybody.”
Sorenstam is optimistic that Europe’s top-ranked player, Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist, will be ready to perform this weekend.
Nordqvist had to rely on a captain’s pick from Sorenstam after a bout with mononucleosis kept her from playing in enough European Tour events to qualify on points.
While Nordqvist said Tuesday that she’s been unable to practice much, she still finished tied for seventh at the Women’s British Open two weeks ago.
“Just look at her performance at the British Open. First of all, I didn’t think she was going to play,” Sorenstam said. “And then to go out to play the way she did.
“We let her do whatever she needs to do to prepare. I’m not so worried about Anna.”