Carl Pettersson wins RBC Heritage
By PETE IACOBELLI
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (AP) Carl Pettersson's happy he's among the best-ever from Sweden. He's just as proud he became a U.S. citizen this year.
"I honestly feel more American than Swedish," Pettersson said.
Pettersson did both nations proud by shooting a 2-under 69 Sunday to win the RBC Heritage by five shots over Zach Johnson and six over Colt Knost. The victory, Pettersson's first since the 2010 RBC Canadian Open, tied him with Jesper Parnevik for the most PGA Tour wins by a Swede.
While Petterson spent the first 10 years of his life in Sweden, he moved with his family to England and eventually the United States. He played college golf at North Carolina State and lives with his wife and children in Raleigh, N.C. It was natural, Pettersson said, to want to be part of where he's lived for so long.
"I love America. It's a great country," said Petterson, who carries dual citizenship. "It's given me everything."
Pettersson had come close to winning twice this year with runner-up finishes at the Sony Open in January and the Houston Open two weeks ago.
Top-ranked Luke Donald needed to finish eighth or better at Harbour Town Golf Links to retain his ranking, but tied for 37th and will fall behind Rory McIlroy.
Johnson shot a 70 to finish second at 9 under, while Knost's chances for his first PGA Tour title fell apart with a 74. He was third at 8 under.
Kevin Stadler (68) and Billy Mayfair (69) tied for fourth at 6 under. Two-time Heritage winner Boo Weekley had his worst round of the week, 73, to tie for sixth with Matt Bettencourt (69).
Masters winner Bubba Watson and most of the world's best took the week off to recover from the year's first major.
It's unlikely, however, anyone would have caught Pettersson in this one. He rolled in a 24-footer on No. 1 to get things started with a birdie. He added another birdie, from 16 feet on the par-3 fourth hole, then two-putted from 40 feet on the par-5 fifth to go up by four shots. When Johnson took bogey at No. 10, Pettersson was five strokes in front and cruising.
Pettersson used a run of five straight birdies on the front side Saturday to gain the lead. He was 13 under on the front nine the four days.
"I like all the holes," he said. "I don't have one hole on the front nine where I feel awkward over the tee shot or second shot."
He also didn't feel too bad on the greens, needing just 104 putts over 72 holes.
Knost was on top after Thursday and Friday and felt good as part of the final pairing. But those nerves Knost acknowledged Saturday were apparently back again in the final round.
He missed an 8-foot putt for par and made bogey on No. 1 for a second straight round to drop three shots behind Pettersson. And just like Saturday, Knost fought back with a birdie on the second hole - he made eagle there in the third round - to close in on Pettersson.
However, Knost's chances ended a hole later with a horrible drive out of bounds left on No. 3 that led to a triple-bogey seven and left him five shots behind and out of contention.
When Knost flew his approach to the 12th green way left, he simply stood in the fairway and stared straight ahead, hands on hips, in disbelief.
"I hit it good this weekend, but the one swing (on No. 3) got me in trouble," Knost said. "I made 7 and that was kind of it."
Pettersson didn't let Knost's troubles affect his focus.
"He had a tough time out there," he said. "But there were still other guys with a chance."
Johnson, four strokes behind Pettersson at the start, tried to make a charge with birdies on the second, fourth and fifth holes. Johnson closed to three shots when he birdied No. 15 and Pettersson had his first bogey of the day moments later.
But Johnson ran out of steam on the 16th hole when he drove into a waste bunker and took bogey. Still, it was Johnson's best showing of the year and first top-10 finish since January.
"There were a couple of bumps along the road, but a lot of positives," Johnson said. "Certainly some things that I can learn from."
Donald headed the list of four golfers among the top 20 who followed the Masters with Harbour Town. World No. 13 Webb Simpson finished at 4 over, while No. 14 Matt Kuchar, two strokes from the playoff in third at Augusta National, also was way off the pace at 3 over. No. 18 Bill Haas did not make the cut.
Pettersson, who earned $1,026,000 for the win, became a U.S. citizen in January, joining his wife and children, all born in America, as U.S. citizens.
"Only test I ever made a hundred," he joked.
He knows that Swedish golf fans also will be excited about his latest win. "But I've lived here so long," Pettersson said, "I'm very American."
Updated April 16, 2012
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