Monday, April 02, 2007

Kraft Nabisco Championship – Final Round

Morgan Pressel birdied 18 to get in the clubhouse at -3 then watched as three players missed putts at 18 that would have tied her, to win the Kraft Nabisco Championship. It is the first professional victory for Pressel and she becomes the youngest player ever (18 years, 10 months) to win an LPGA major tournament.

This tournament came down to the player who avoided Sunday trouble. At first that appeared to be Se Ri Pak, who took a two shot lead midway through the front nine. Her wheels started coming off when she bogeyed 8 and 10. Suzann Pettersen had two early bogeys, but started roaring back with four birdies in seven holes. By the time they cleared 11, Pettersen led by two at -6. When Stacy Prammanasudh bogeyed 14 to begin her downfall, the lead was three. Pak clawed back with a birdie at 12 but gave it right back with a bad tee shot which led to bogey on 13.

So with five holes to play, Pettersen led by three strokes. That’s when she started losing her drives to the right. She scrambled to save par at 14 but couldn’t save it at 15. She was still up two ahead of Catriona Matthew with three to go. About this time was when Morgan Pressel rolled in her 10 footer for birdie on 18, finishing a bogey-free round of 69. Back on the par-4 16th, Pettersen drove into the right-side rough then clipped a tree branch with her second, leaving her about 100 yards away. Her pitch up to the green rolled back off the front. Her par putt from off the green rolled four feet past and when she missed coming back, her lead was gone. Tied with Matthew and Pressel at -3.

Up ahead the carnage continued. Matthew missed a makable par putt on 18 to fall out of the potential playoff. Pak bogeyed 15 and 16 to fall to -1, but still had a chance since she had two holes to play. That vanished when she bogeyed 17 as well. Brittany Lincicome had a good birdie try at 18, but couldn’t convert so she finished at -2. Then Pettersen bogeyed 17 (+4 in three holes) to put Pressel alone in first place. At 18, Suzann overcompensated for her recent driving by pulling her tee shot into the left-side rough. She layed up to about 100 yards then put her third about 20 feet away, giving her one last chance. After a delay for Pak to get a ruling, Pettersen missed her putt. And all that made Morgan Pressel the winner. Wow!

You have to feel sorry for Suzann Pettersen – that’s two weeks in a row that she should have won. Last week Ochoa took it away, this week she gave it away. Hopefully she can keep playing well despite these setbacks. This week’s Big Surprise award goes to Stacy Lewis. The amateur from the University of Arkansas finished tied for fifth only two shots out of the lead. The Big Disappointment is a tough choice, but I have to give it to Annika Sorenstam. Since Lorena didn’t win this week, Annika still should hold onto the World’s #1 Player title. But it’s only a matter of time, I believe.

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