Saturday, November 25, 2006

ADT Championship – Final Round

Julieta Granada shot 68 to win the ADT Championship and the $1 million prize money. Lorena Ochoa finished second with a round of 70 while Karrie Webb finished third with a 71. The prize money vaulted Granada to fourth place on the 2006 money list.

Granada entered the back nine at -2 and birdied #10 to take a one shot lead over Ochoa, two over Webb. Playing in the final group with Lorena, Karrie bogeyed the 10th to fall three back. Then at 13, Ochoa also took bogey to fall two behind. All the while, Julieta (playing two groups ahead) was making her pars. Until 16, that is – her eight-footer for birdie put her up by three at -4. Both of her pursuers kept coming – Webb birdied 14 and 15 to get to -2 and Ochoa birdied 15 and 16 to reach -3. The signature 17th hole decided it all. Granada made another eight-footer to save par, but both Lorena and Karrie found the water and had to scramble for bogeys. Julieta two-putted from 30 feet for par at 18 then waited until Ochoa’s approach to 18 failed to hole out, making Granada the surprising winner.

The Paraguayan rookie had just celebrated her 20th birthday on Friday and the victory made her the eleventh millionaire of 2006 (almost double the previous LPGA record – there were six in 2005). Looks like she’ll be able to afford to pay a caddy if her mom decides to quit hauling that big bag! I hope that doesn’t happen – Julieta and her mom are such fun to watch.

As I said in my third round post, I would be happy with whoever won on Sunday. Watching Granada get her first victory with all the pressure from the money and the top two in the Player Of The Year standings chasing her was certainly exciting and (as Roger Maltbie said) had a “warm and fuzzy” feeling about it. It was also good to see that Julieta would have been the winner even if the final eight players had not had their scores reset to even par - she certainly earned the victory. Julieta Granada deserves all the congratulations anyone can give her – just don’t call her the LPGA Champion or POY, please.

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