60th Seed Baena Wins Match Play Title

By Sports NetworkJuly 3, 2005, 4:00 pm
GLADSTONE, N.J. -- Marisa Baena, ranked 60th in the 64-player field, parred the final hole Sunday to defeat 47th-seeded Meena Lee, 1-up and win the HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship.
 
The win was her first on the LPGA Tour and she pocketed $500,000 for the victory, the richest first-place prize in LPGA Tour history. That's big for someone who had only made $87,258 so far in the 2005 season.
 
Marisa Baena
Marisa Baena knocked off six straight higher seeds en route to the Match Play title.
'It's been a great week,' said Baena. 'I have no words. That's almost what I've made my entire career. I made $30,000 last year and here I made $500,000 in a week.'
 
Baena established a 3-up lead on the back nine, but Lee never relented. At the 15th, Baena missed a 25-footer for birdie, while Lee holed a 12-footer to win the hole and trail 2-down.
 
Lee, who hit first on almost every hole because Baena is longer off the tee, hit her approach to 15 feet at the 16th. Baena was 20 feet short of the hole and came up 2 feet short with her birdie putt. Lee once again holed the tester and now her deficit was only 1-down with two to play.
 
Lee looked to be in trouble at the par-3 17th when she missed the green left. Baena hit a 7-iron 15 feet short of the hole, then watched Lee chip to 8 feet. Baena had a chance to win the title, but her putt never touched the hole. Lee drained the par save to stay 1-down and force the final to reach No. 18.
 
At the 18th, both players found the fairway off the tee and Lee came up 40 feet short with a 7-wood. Baena landed 25 feet over the flag with her second.
 
Lee hit a tentative putt that left her 6 feet for par. Baena needed two putts to win the title and she lagged her birdie try to tap-in range. Lee conceded the match and title to Baena.
 
'It's amazing,' said Baena. 'My husband is here, my dad is here, so it's even more special for me.'
 
Baena came to the tour with a lot of promise. She lost the 1996 U.S. Amateur title to Kelli Kuehne, but had an amazing collegiate career at the University of Arizona. Baena won 10 tournaments, including the 1996 NCAA Individual title.
 
Lee, who was not even in the field last week at the U.S. Women's Open, took her second runner-up finish in this her rookie year. She tied for second at the LPGA Corning Classic.
 
Baena took the lead several times on the front nine, but Lee almost always squared the match.
 
Lee never played in a single match-play event before this week and it showed at the par-five ninth. She went through the green with her third, then chipped through on the other side with her fourth. Baena was in there close, putting for birdie, but Lee conceded instead of taking a shot with her chip and maybe holing out for par. If Baena missed the birdie putt, and Lee made her long chip, the hole would have been halved, but Lee conceded to fall 2-down.
 
Lee answered with a 10-footer for birdie at the 10th to cut the margin in half.
 
Baena built a 2-up lead at the 11th when she rolled in a 6-foot birdie putt and Lee failed to capitalize from 4 feet. Baena gave one back thanks to a poor tee shot in the bunker at 12, but she reclaimed a 2-up edge at 13. She rolled in a 7-footer for birdie at the par-4 hole.
 
Baena reached the green in two at the par-5 14th. She had 35 feet for eagle and Lee had almost the same distance for birdie. Baena lagged her birdie try close to the hole, but once Lee missed her birdie putt, she perhaps conceded early as Baena had almost 2 feet left. Baena went 3-up until Lee's dramatic comeback attempt.
 
Baena ousted Natalie Gulbis (No. 5), Grace Park (No. 37), Jennifer Rosales (No. 21) and Karrie Webb (No. 29) en route to the semifinals, where she beat Candie Kung (No. 8), 2-up.
 
Lee defeated Hee-Won Han (No. 18), Kim Saiki (No. 50), Liselotte Neumann (No. 31) and Pat Hurst (No. 39), and Wendy Ward (No. 14) to make the final match.
 
In the consolation match, Ward overcame a 3-down deficit to defeat Kung, 2 and 1. Ward ran in a pair of 15-foot birdie putts at 15 and 17 to close the door on Kung, who bested No. 1 seed Annika Sorenstam in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
 
Related links:
  • Leaderboard - HSBC Womens World Match Championship

  • Full Coverage - HSBC Womens World Match Championship
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    What's in the bag: CareerBuilder winner Rahm

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 22, 2018, 10:37 pm

    Jon Rahm defeated Andrew Landry in a playoff to earn his second PGA Tour title at the CareerBuilder Challenge. Here's what's in his bag:

    Driver: TaylorMade M4 (9.5 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Fairway wood: TaylorMade M3 (19 degrees), with Aldila Tour Green 75 TX shaft

    Irons: TaylorMade P790 (3), P750 (4-PW), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind (52, 56 degrees), Milled Grind Hi-Toe (60 degrees), with Project X 6.5 shafts

    Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour Red

    Ball: TaylorMade TP5x

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    Strange irked by Rahm-Landry friendly playoff

    By Jason CrookJanuary 22, 2018, 9:45 pm

    Curtis Strange knows a thing or two about winning golf tournaments, and based on his reaction to the CareerBuilder Challenge playoff on Sunday, it’s safe to say he did things a little differently while picking up 17 PGA Tour victories in his Hall-of-Fame career.

    While Jon Rahm and Andrew Landry were “battling” through four extra holes, Strange, 62, tweeted his issues with the duo’s constant chit-chat and friendly banter down the stretch at La Quinta Country Club, where Rahm eventually came out on top.

    The two-time U.S. Open champ then engaged with some followers to explain his point a little more in depth.

    So, yeah ... don't think he's changing his perspective on this topic anytime soon ever.

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    Randall's Rant: The Euros won't just roll over

    By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2018, 9:36 pm

    The Ryder Cup may not be the King Kong of golf events yet, but you can hear the biennial international team event thumping its chest a full eight months out.

    As anticipation for this year’s big events goes, there is more buzz about Europe’s bid to hold off a rejuvenated American effort in Paris in September than there is about the Masters coming up in April.

    Thank Europe’s phenomenal success last weekend for that.

    And Rory McIlroy’s impassioned remarks in Abu Dhabi.

    And the provocative bulletin board material a certain Sports Illustrated writer provided the Europeans a couple months ago, with a stinging assault on the Euro chances that read like an obituary.

    McIlroy was asked in a news conference before his 2018 debut last week what he was most excited about this year.

    The Ryder Cup topped his list.

    Though McIlroy will be trying to complete the career Grand Slam at Augusta National come April, he talked more about the Ryder Cup than he did any of the game’s major championships.

    When asked a follow-up about the American team’s resurgence after a task-force overhaul and the injection of young, new star power, McIlroy nearly started breaking down the matchup. He talked about the young Americans and how good they are.

    “Yeah, the Americans have been, obviously, very buoyant about their chances and whatever, but it’s never as easy as that. ... The Ryder Cup’s always close,” McIlroy said. “I think we’ll have a great team, and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”



    McIlroy may have been talking about Alan Shipnuck’s bold prediction after the American Presidents Cup rout last fall.

    Or similar assertions from TV analysts.

    “The Ryder Cup is dead – you just don’t know it yet,” Shipnuck wrote. “One of the greatest events in sport is on the verge of irrelevancy. The young, talented, hungry golfers from the United States, benefitting from the cohesive leadership of the Task Force era, are going to roll to victory in 2018 in Paris.”

    European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn won’t find words that will motivate the Euros more than that as he watches his prospective players jockey to make the team.

    And, boy, did they jockey last weekend.

    The Euros dominated across the planet, not that they did it with the Ryder Cup as some rallying cry, because they didn’t. But it was a heck of an encouraging start to the year for Bjorn to witness.

    Spain’s Jon Rahm won the CareerBuilder Challenge on the PGA Tour, England’s Tommy Fleetwood started the week at Abu Dhabi paired with American and world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and won the European Tour event, and Spain’s Sergio Garcia won the Singapore Open in a rout on the Asian Tour.

    And McIlroy looked close to being in midseason form, tying for third in his first start in three months.

    Yes, it’s only January, and the Ryder Cup is still a long way off, with so much still to unfold, but you got an early sense from McIlroy how much defending European turf will mean to him and the Euros in Paris in September.

    The Masters is great theater, the U.S. Open a rigorous test, The Open and the PGA Championship historically important, too, but the Ryder Cup touches a nerve none of those do.

    The Ryder Cup stokes more fervor, provokes more passion and incites more vitriol than any other event in golf.

    More bulletin board material, too.

    Yeah, it’s a long way off, but you can already hear the Ryder Cup’s King Kong like footsteps in its distant approach. Watching how the American and European teams come together will be an ongoing drama through spring and summer.

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    Quail Hollow officials promise players easier conditions

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 22, 2018, 9:14 pm

    Quail Hollow Club - a staple on the PGA Tour since 2003 - debuted as a longer, tougher version of itself at last year’s PGA Championship, receiving mixed reviews from players.

    The course played to a lengthened 7,600 yards at last year’s PGA and a 73.46 stroke average, the toughest course in relation to par on Tour in 2017. As a result, it left some players less than excited to return to the Charlotte, N.C.-area layout later this spring for the Wells Fargo Championship.

    It’s that lack of enthusiasm that led officials at Quail Hollow to send a video to players saying, essentially, that the course players have lauded for years will be back in May.

    The video, which includes Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris and runs nearly five minutes, begins with an explanation of how the first hole, which played as a 524-yard par 4 at the PGA, will play much shorter at the Wells Fargo Championship.

    “I had a number of my friends who were playing in the tournament tell me that tee was better suited as a lemonade stand,” Harris joked of the new tee box on the fourth hole. “I doubt we’ll ever see that tee used again in competition.”

    Harris also explained that the greens, which became too fast for some, will be “softer” for this year’s Wells Fargo Championship.