HAVRE DE GRACE, Md. - Maybe next time everyone will believe Suzann Pettersen. The big-hitting Norwegian insisted to the world that she was mentally tough despite her collapse at the Kraft Nabisco earlier this year.
Today here at Bulle Rock, Pettersen proved it by winning the McDonald's LPGA Championship, shooting a solid 5-under 67 in her final round, including a 4-under back nine, to hold off seven-time LPGA Tour major winner Karrie Webb by one stroke.
Pettersen, who finished at 14-under for the championship, held off a host of strong (and in one case, improbable) contenders, including not only Webb (13-under) but non-exempt rookie Na On Min (the surprise third round leader finished at 12-under) Lindsey Wright (10-under) and Angela Park (9-under).
"I don't think any of us have ever seen Suzann that calm," Webb said, watching this walk of a first-time major winner.
Pettersen needed all the Zen she could get. She arrived at 18 one shot ahead of Webb, who had just finished in the group ahead. The thing that most often torments Pettersen, the one that had turned her previous round on Saturday into a struggle, is her control off the tee. She's long - and sometimes she's wild. This time, however, she hit her last drive right down the middle of the fairway.
She got on the green, needing a two-putt to win. She rolled her 35-foot birdie chance within inches, and knew the trophy would be making a tour of Norway. The putter Pettersen used on that deciding shot has been in her possession for less than a week. She borrowed it from an amateur partner in Tuesday's pro-am and putted great with it all tournament.
"I tried not to think that it was a major today," Pettersen said, no doubt recalling the disastrous last four holes at the Kraft Nabisco, when she went bogey, bogey, bogey, double bogey to give away a championship that was hers to win. "I just wanted to win another tournament."
After Pettersen birdied the 17th for a two-shot lead, Webb knew she needed a birdie on No. 18 to keep the pressure alive. Playing a group ahead, Webb did just that, curving in a tough slightly downhill 18-footer, unleashing two Tiger Woods-fist pumps as soon as the ball dropped.
But Webb's 32 on the back nine would only be good enough for second place at the LPGA Championship (for the second straight year). Na On Min, the 18-year-old non-exempt rookie who shocked everyone by taking the lead into the final round, finished third at 12-under with a late run of four straight birdies for a final round 70.
Michelle Wie shot a 7-over 79 to finish at 21-over, dead last among the 84 players who made the cut. She left Bulle Rock guaranteeing she would play in the upcoming U.S. Women's Open and joking about what her major would be at Stanford.
In one bit of news, Wie said she would play more pro events while in college than she does now.
"High school was like a full-time thing for me," Wie said. "High school is more of a mandatory education system … College is I'm paying my money to go there and I think that I'm just going to study a lot in the offseason. I'm definitely not taking more time off."
Paula Creamer - one of the Tour's rising stars who skipped college entirely - studied her play in the majors instead. When she eagled the par-5 eighth, it looked like she was ready to make a run. But Creamer couldn't keep the momentum going and her 8-under finish never gave her a real chance, thanks to poor putting.
"I hit the ball so good today," Creamer said. "I gave myself so many chances … That's all right though."
Lorena Ochoa is no longer blasé about majors gone. The new No. 1 player in women's golf watched her futility in golf's defining events stretch to 0 for 22. Ochoa played as consistent as anyone all week, but she never posted a score lower than a 69, which left her at 8-under.
Annika Sorenstam didn't come close to her 11th major title either. After charging up the crowd with a Friday run, Sorenstam's weekend turned mundane, including today's 71 for a 5-under finish.
Lindsey Wright put up the best round of the day among the contenders, charging to 10-under with a closing 66. But Pettersen never came back to her. She wouldn't come back to anyone, a decidedly different outcome than the Kraft Nabisco, when she blew a four shot lead on the back nine.
Pettersen didn't have that kind of a cushion to work with this time. Webb never fell more than a few shots back and afterwards the Hall of Famer was still kicking herself for a bogey all the way back on No. 2.
Pettersen kept hitting fairways. Her approach also changed coming in. Her coach Gary Gilchrist wouldn't let her brood as she waited for the last tee time of the day. Instead they sat and watched the Federer-Nadal French Open tennis final.
"Those guys just go for it," Pettersen said afterwards when asked if she learned anything from the tennis. "They don't give a darn. They go for their shots no matter the situation. That's how I tried to be today."
June 10, 2007
Chris Baldwin keeps one eye on the PGA Tour and another watching golf vacation hotspots and letting travelers in on the best place to vacation.
Anyone looking back at the final scores of the 2009 Ricoh Women's British Open at Royal Lytham and St. Anne's will almost certainly come to the wrong conclusion that this was a comfortable three-shot win for Catriona Matthew. It was anything but as the seemingly imperturbable Scot struggled to hit a fairway throughout the final round and was only rescued by some superb recovery shots and a bunch of astonishing long putts.
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