Suzann Pettersen has her highest world ranking (No. 2) after her best-ever year in 2013. But as a new season begins for her at the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open at Victoria this week, she says the No. 1 ranking is not her specific focus.
While the top rung held by South Korea's Inbee Park would undoubtedly be in the back of her mind, the Norwegian is process-orientated. That means turning up to play well-prepared, and waiting for the results to fall.
"Not really,'' she said today, when she was asked if she was targeting the No. 1 slot. "I just want to check how good I can possibly be. That's my entire dream. That's my goal. If that is being No. 1, if that is being No. 2 for the rest of my life, then that's what I've got. But I feel I've got more in me. I feel like my best golf's to come.
"That's what was fun last year. I was touching on where I feel I should be. That's what's driven me through the winter. I was almost glad I didn't get to that (No. 1) spot because it's also given me more of a motivation to dig a little bit deeper and grind a little bit harder. Basically, I want to see how good I can be. I don't want to leave this game knowing I could have done more or left something out there. I want to give it all and I feel like I can be pretty good, whatever that number is.''
Pettersen had an amazing year in 2013, winning the European order of merit as well as winning four times on the LPGA Tour, including a major, the Evian Championship in Switzerland. It came after a period in which her game appeared to have stalled. "There's no secrets, really,'' she said. "It's really hard work over a long time. I've managed to stay in fairly good condition, health-wise. There's no massive injuries. I can prepare the way I want to prepare, practise the way I want to practise, and I felt like I showed up more often to tournaments well-prepared to actually play. For me, it's hard work and it's all got to click at the one time. That's the fun challenge.''
The 32-year-old has been in Australia a few days, practising at Victoria from Sunday when the high winds made the course "unplayable'', and sitting up at nights watching her compatriots compete in the Winter Olympics. She knows many of the prominent Norwegians strutting their stuff in Sochi, and of course, the alpine sports are second nature in her native country. "In Norway, kids are born with skis on their feet!''
This week is her first tournament of 2014, and she comes well-prepared. Ready to win, though?
"I would not be here if not. I guess so. Being a favorite means more pressure, more expectation but it also probably means you're pretty good. That's how I look at it.''