PGA Tour

Pettersson makes it look easy in winning RBC Heritage

Third-round leader quickly creates breathing room on way to win at Harbour Town

sfastenau@beaufortgazette.comApril 16, 2012 

Carl Pettersson holds up his trophy after winning the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing on Sunday at Harbour Town Golf Links on Hilton Head Island, S.C.

JONATHAN DYER -- THE ISLAND PACKET

Carl Pettersson enjoyed a fun pairing on Saturday with his friend, Colt Knost, trading barbs and one-liners and conversing throughout the round.

But winning isn't easy, Pettersson said after the round. And so Sunday at Harbour Town Golf Links, he turned serious.

"I'm a laid-back person, but any time I get in contention, I kind of go into this little bubble," Pettersson said. "And I just tried to stay there. I chatted a little bit here or there, but I was pretty focused on everything."

Pettersson limited most of the conversation to his head, allowing himself to emerge only as he walked down the 18th fairway with a five-shot lead. The Sweden native and newly naturalized American citizen coasted to victory and the tartan jacket at the RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing, shooting 2-under-par 69 during the final round to finish 14 under for the tournament. He held off Zach Johnson (-9) and a sliding Knost, whose attempt at a first PGA Tour victory was derailed by a triple-bogey seven on No. 3.

"I believe in myself," said Knost, who finished alone in third place at 8 under. "I think things are starting to turn for me."

Beaufort resident Mark Anderson enjoyed his best tournament as a professional, finishing 3 under, tied for 13th and earning $106, 875. Bluffton resident Kyle Stanley finished 6 over and slipped to a tie for 60th.

Pettersson won for the fifth time on the PGA Tour, but his first since the 2010 RBC Canadian Open. He made birdies at Nos. 1, 4 and 5 to create a cushion, by that time over second-place Johnson.

After praising his iron play during the week, Pettersson finished first in greens in regulation and first in putts per greens in regulation. Utilizing a recently added Nike Method long putter, Pettersson rolled in a 16-foot putt for birdie on the first to jump-start his round.

The long putter has been a Pettersson staple since he was a college player at N.C. State, when he hit the ball well but couldn't finish better than fifth or sixth. After watching amateurs have success with the long putter during summer tournaments, Pettersson made the switch and hasn't wavered. The recent belly putter craze has created some momentum for banning the ability to anchor a putter with your body. Pettersson believes the putters will be round for a while, but talked with college roommate Tim Clark, his roommate this week in Sea Pines, about what he would do if his favorite piece of equipment was banned.

He won't need to worry right away. And despite the talk of the difficulty of winning and the recent flops on tour this season, Pettersson found little reason to worry about anything Sunday.

His five-shot margin of victory matched Tiger Woods' victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational as the largest this season. His fifth PGA Tour victory matched Jesper Parnevik for most from players from Sweden.

Pettersson said the big margin affected him heading into the back nine, that he knew the victory was his to surrender. He set a goal of finishing under par on the back side but shot 1 over the final nine.

"I was nervous, but I felt calm," Pettersson said. "I felt like I was in control. It was nice going up to the last hole with a five-shot lead."

Johnson made a bid to grab the tartan jacket on a course he loves. His birdie on No. 15, followed by Pettersson's bogey on the same par 5, cut the margin to three.

"There was a lot of positives," Johnson said.

But the Iowa native gave shots back on two of his final three holes to remove the drama for Pettersson, who donned a borrowed tartan jacket from tournament director Steve Wilmot until he's given one of his own next year.

Pettersson's weight has always been a topic of conversation. He dropped 30 pounds but wasn't comfortable during an off year in 2009. He gained the pounds back, regaining his old game only the past several months.

"It's fun to play again," he said.

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