It is officially unknown as to mulligans origin. Most, though not all, of the stories in some way involve golf. And it is the sport with which the word is most often associated.
Because its not about whats happened in the past; its about having the opportunity for atonement. And what you do with it.
A few ladies had such a chance Sunday at the McDonalds LPGA Championship at Bulle Rock Golf Course in Havre de Grace, Md.
There was Karrie Webb, who lost this very tournament in a playoff to Se Ri Pak a year ago. A seven-time major champion and Hall of Fame member, she was the favorite in many eyes to win. Trailing by two to start the final round, Webb was in the shadows of the lead all day.
Still two back on the 72nd hole, she coaxed in a fantastic right-to-left curler for birdie. Alas, once again, it wasn't quite enough as she finished runner-up for the second straight year.
Thats the one thing about a mulligan: just because you have a second chance doesnt mean it wont result in the same outcome.
There was Lorena Ochoa, who lost a big lead in the final round of the Ginn Tribute and was trying to overcome a big deficit one a week later. Ochoa has done everything in golf with the major exception of winning a major championship. She started Sunday five back, but with measured confidence.
Its been done before, she said Saturday of erasing a quintet of strokes.
But not this time.
Without the pressure of playing from the front, which has hampered her at times, Ochoa managed to get within two of the lead on three separate occasions but no closer.
There was Na On Min, who was trying to follow in the footsteps of countrywoman Pak. In 1998, Pak, a then 20-year-old rookie from South Korea, captured the McDonalds LPGA on her way to a Hall-of-Fame career. Min, 18, was in position to do the same ' at least the win-the-McDonalds-as-an-unheralded-rookie thing.
Min led by one entering the final 18 holes and actually managed to extend that to two at one point during the front nine. Then she missed a short par putt at No. 6. And another at No. 7. And another at No. 8. She dropped down the leaderboard faster than Michelle Wies Q-rating.
Even four straight birdies on the back nine weren't enough to match her idol's accomplishment.
Min, a non-exempt player, likely had no reason for a mulligan at the start of the week. She leaves, however, hoping for one in the future.
And then there was Suzann Pettersen, who wasted a four-shot lead with four holes to play in losing the first major of the season, the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Pettersen managed to win her first-ever LPGA Tour event three starts after her Rancho Mirage meltdown but winning a regular event doesnt quite make up for blowing a major.
The Michelob Ultra Open is kind of like the tours fifth major. The McDonalds LPGA is a real major.
Pettersen grabbed sole possession of the lead after the seventh hole Sunday. This time she would lead by as many as two shots down the stretch. And this time she would not self destruct ' nor would she be caught.
Pettersen's lead coming home wasn't nearly as advantageous as it was at the Kraft Nabisco. But bouyed by that experience, and armed with her mulligan, Pettersen played the back nine in 4-under-par 32, with nary a bogey.
Ten weeks after a loss that left her in tears, Pettersen made the most of her mulligan, which shouldn't be too surprising, seeing as this is the same woman who overcame a severe back injury, one in which doctors told her she would never play golf again.
'This is amazing,' Pettersen said upon receiving the trophy. 'I'm still trying to get a grasp on this. I mean, this is a major.'
Golf, like any sport, has its winners and losers. When you're among the latter all you can do is hope that the game offers up another occasion for atonement.
'Sure I'm disappointed,' Pettersen said in the wake of her Kraft Nabisco loss. 'I mean, I guess my time will come.'
And so it has.
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