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January 13 2012

1:55 AM

Carefree time for Carl

By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM

HONOLULU -- By his own admission, Carl Pettersson hasn't played to his full potential the last few years.

Sure, he won once in 2010, taking the RBC Canadian Open. But in his 84 other starts between 2009-2011, he has just nine top-10 finishes, none in the top three.

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Pettersson
It used to stress him out. But he's vowed this year to concentrate on more basics and just have fun.

He certainly had fun in Thursday's first round at Waialae, shooting a bogey-free 5-under 65.

"I'm trying to put less stress on myself and go out on the golf course and play like I do at home," Pettersson said. "Play relaxed and whatever happens, happens.

"I did a great job of doing that today. Playing like you don't care, almost. Carefree golf."

One of more tangible reasons for his frustration in recent years was his iron play. He said he just hasn't been able to get his weight properly shifted to the left side, something he's been working on for years.

"It takes a while," he said.

Last year, Pettersson ranked 89th in greens in regulation, which was actually a vast improvement over the previous four years when he ranked outside 125 in that category.

But on Thursday, he hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation and felt much better about things.

"Hopefully I can carry that on to the rest of the year," he said. "When the irons are good, it frees up the rest of the game. You can hit a lot more greens and you don't have to get the ball up-and-down as much."

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