Annika Out Ochoa Survives Playoff


2006 ADT ChampionshipWEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- When the dust settled on an exciting second round, here's how things stood at the ADT Championship: the best player was cut, a wild-card rookie held the lead and three players escaped a six-way playoff to stay alive.
Indeed, the LPGA's season-ending event is shaking out a lot like the NCAA Tournament.
Ai Miyazato
Ai Miyazato is the leader, but scores are reset after the third round (Getty Images).
Annika Sorenstam, the world No. 1, shot an even-par 72 and missed the cut at 2-over 146 -- one shot off the cut line and nine shots worse than leader Ai Miyazato of Japan.
Miyazato, an LPGA rookie and star in her home country, shot a 3-under 69 and led by a shot at 7-under-par 137. Paraguay's Julieta Granada also had a 69 and was second at 5-under 139.
By the time those two women finished their rounds, the story had become Sorenstam and what turned out to be a crowded playoff for the final three spots in the third round.
It was the second time this season that Sorenstam failed to make a cut. At the Michelob Ultra Open in May, she ended a streak of 68 consecutive cuts made dating to the 2002 Women's British Open.
As the two-time defending champion and four-time ADT winner, her exit this weekend was more surprising.
'I tried hard. There's not much more I can do,' said Sorenstam, who finished 20th.
Sorenstam made a bogey at the sixth, a birdie at the seventh and had 16 pars over the rest of the course. She needed a birdie at the par-4 18th to have a chance at making the playoff, but hit a fairway bunker and a greenside bunker before saving par with a 20-foot putt.
'I just couldn't get anything going,' she said.
The final three berths into the third round were determined by a playoff after Lorena Ochoa (70), Pat Hurst (73), Juli Inkster (72), Brittany Lang (70), Jee Young Lee (73) and Morgan Pressel (74) tied for 14th place at 1-over 145.
Hurst bogeyed the first playoff hole, the par-3 17th at Trump International, and was the first player out. Pressel was the first player in, making a 36-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole, the par-4 18th.
'Relieved is the right word,' Pressel gushed after leaving four players to battle for the final two spots.
Inkster and Ochoa became the second and third players to escape the playoff when they made long birdie putts back at the 17th. Inkster rolled in a curling, left-to-right downhill putt, and Ochoa followed with a 25-footer from the fringe moments later.
'She made it and I had to make it,' said Ochoa, who clinched Player of the Year last week with her sixth win of the season.
'Now we have to go out and shoot 5 or 6 under, so I don't know if it's a win-win or a lose-lose,' Inkster added. 'But at least we have a chance tomorrow.'
The playoff results trimmed the field from 32 to 16 players. According to a new format, there will be another cut following the third round to determine the top eight players for Sunday's final round.
Discarding the first 54 holes, the final standings will be determined only by a player's score on Sunday. The winner will receive a record $1 million from the $1.55 million purse.
As Friday's round was coming to a close, some of the players seemed unsure whether their scores would carry over to Saturday, which they do.
'I don't think anyone knows what's going on, really,' joked Cristie Kerr, who birdied the 18th to make herself safe at even-par. 'Now that I know they carry over, I'm going to have to shoot 6 under (tomorrow).'
Others -- especially those flirting with the cut line -- echoed Kerr's confusion.
'I have no idea what's going on, I just have to hang around,' Inkster said after making a knee-knocking par putt at the 18th to remain at plus-one and make the playoff.
The new format, Hurst contended, forced some to reconsider their game plan over the first two rounds. Making it to Sunday, when one good round could produce a hefty paycheck, became even more important.
'There's a different mentality,' she said. 'You've got to play differently out there.'
As for Miyazato, who also led after the first round, she remained steady with four birdies and a bogey Friday despite a bout of nervousness.
'Tomorrow is going to be more nervous for me,' said the 21-year-old rookie. 'It's going to be a good experience...I need birdies. I need patience, I think.'
Karrie Webb, who ranks second behind Ochoa on the money list, shot a 71 and is tied for third place with Natalie Gulbis at 4-under 140. Gulbis, still seeking her first career win, had her second consecutive 70 Friday.
Wendy Ward was fifth at 3-under 141 following a 70, while Paula Creamer (71), Se Ri Pak (71) and Il Mi Chung were one shot further back at 140.
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