Sunday, September 30, 2007

Navistar Classic – Final Round

Maria Hjorth birdied 17 to take the outright lead and held on to win the inaugural Navistar Classic by one shot over Stacy Prammanasudh. Lorena Ochoa and Angela Park tied for third at -12, Karrie Webb (-10) was fifth and Amy Hung (-9) finished sixth.

Neither Ochoa nor Prammanasudh could get it going on the front nine as both were tied at -13 after nine holes. Hjorth started making a move when she chipped in for eagle at the par-5 5th. That put her two shots back and a birdie at 8 brought her to within one. At the par-5 10th, Maria managed to roll her second shot to four feet from the flag but she missed the eagle try that would have given her the lead. She settled for birdie and a three-way tie for first. At 12 Hjorth pulled her approach long and left but she recovered nicely to six feet and saved par. Stacy rolled in an 18-footer to take the outright lead at -14 while Lorena three-putted when her 30-footer through the fringe came up seven feet under the hole and she missed her par to fall back to -12.

Up ahead, Angela Park birdied from eight feet at 17 and from 12 feet just off the green to post a 63 and make -12 the clubhouse lead. The final group all had birdie opps at 13 and two of them did again at 14 but none were cashed in. Hjorth had to lag a double-breaking 50-foot putt at 14 to stay one back of Prammanasudh. At 15 Ochoa mis-clubbed her approach, leaving a putt of at least 75 feet. She went wide left and 12 feet past and when she missed her par, she was looking at falling three back with three to play. Except that Stacy hit a terrible putt from 25 feet that curled far to the right, setting up a five-footer that she missed. Hjorth was short with her 10-foot birdie try but she was now tied again with Prammanasudh, Ochoa and Park lurking two shots back.

After waiting a few minutes on the tee at the par-3 16th, Hjorth played to the back of the green, Prammanasudh landed on the front and Ochoa got her shot to stick on the plateau where the pin was placed. As Maria and Stacy two-putted, Lorena drilled her putt for birdie to climb back to within one. The wait was even longer at the 17th tee – the tee box was moved up to encourage more players to go for the green in two but that change shortened the fairway to only 260 yards which doesn’t allow driver for most players. Both Hjorth and Prammanasudh layed up but Ochoa (as you might guess) went for it, and landed nicely on the front third of the green. Maria’s third released to the back fringe but she elected to putt from 25 feet away and dropped it in to take the lead. Stacy missed her 18-footer and Ochoa two-putted for birdie, leaving them both one back with one to play. At 18 all three reached the green in regulation but Ochoa had pushed her approach to the far right. Her birdie try came up short. Prammanasudh had 25 feet but missed her attempt to the left. That gave Hjorth two putts to win and she did just that.

This is the third career victory for the big Swede but is her first since she won the Mizuno Classic in 1999 with a mis-matched set of clubs (hers were lost in transit). Maria had just moved into my Top 30 last month after finishing second in the British Open. Not too shabby, outdueling two Top 10 players to get your first win in eight years!

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