Pettersen Wins First Career Major

By Associated PressJune 10, 2007, 4:00 pm
McDonalds LPGAHARVE DE GRACE, Md. -- Suzann Pettersen kept saying that her major meltdown 10 weeks ago was a distant memory. For those not listening, all they had to do was watch her Sunday at the LPGA Championship.
 
Pettersen never flinched down the stretch, closing with a 5-under 67 to hold off a spirited challenge by Karrie Webb and a late charge by 18-year-old Na On Min for a one-shot victory and her first major championship.
 
The 26-year-old Norwegian had ample opportunity to fold at Bulle Rock, but she didn't budge. She hit the ball so purely that she never missed a green on the back nine and only twice had a birdie putt longer than 12 feet. One of those was on the final hole, when she had two putts from 30 feet for the victory.
 
The pace was perfect -- just like everything else on the back nine -- and settled 3 inches from the cup.
 
It was nothing like her performance at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, when Pettersen squandered a three-shot lead over the final four holes with two bogeys and a double bogey, a collapse that left her in tears.
 
She bounced back to win the Michelob Ultra Open a month later, then removed any doubts about her psyche at Bulle Rock.
 
Webb, a runner-up for the second straight year, made her earn it. The seven-time major champion made a clutch par from the bunker on the 16th, then closed with two straight birdies for a 67.
 
'I knew what happened to her at Kraft, and I just knew I needed to keep putting pressure on her,' Webb said. 'She obviously executed very well coming down the stretch, and she should be very proud of herself. It shows a lot of courage and guts and trust in her ability.'
 
Min, trying to become the youngest major champion in LPGA history, ran off four straight birdies on the back nine to get within one shot, but settled for pars on the last two holes for a 70 to finish third in her first major championship.
 
Pettersen made four birdies on the back nine, none bigger than a 12-footer on the 17th to give her a cushion going to the final hole. She finished at 14-under 274 and earned $300,000 to over $1 million for the season.
 
Lorena Ochoa remains No. 1 and without a major. She was close enough to make a move, one of eight players separated by three shots at various stages of the back nine, but missed key birdie chances and had to settle for 69 and a tie for sixth, six shots behind.
 
Michelle Wie completed an acrimonious stay at Bulle Rock with a small consolation -- her first performance-based paycheck of the year.
 
'It's a good feeling to get a paycheck,' she said with a laugh.
 
Then again, she had to make an 8-foot bogey putt on the final hole to break 80, it was her 20th consecutive round without breaking par, she finished in last place by 10 shots, and her 21-over 309 was the highest 72-hole score of her career, professional or amateur.
 
'I think it was a good decision (to play), but also maybe a couple of weeks too early,' Wie said. 'I have to test the waters sometime. I felt like this week is a lot better than last week, and I hope the U.S. Open is going to be a lot better.'
 
The Women's Open is in two weeks at Pine Needles.
 
The teenager who stole most of the attention through three days was Min, an 18-year-old from South Korea who had a one-shot lead as she tried to become the youngest LPGA major champion in history. She got plenty of breaks early, making par from the bunker on the opening hole and building a two-shot lead with a birdie on the fourth.
 
But the lead was gone in two holes, and soon she was an afterthought.
 
Pettersen hit an approach into 2 feet on the uphill fifth to get within one, then let Min retreated. The teenager missed two straight par putts inside 4 feet, then failed to get out of a greenside bunker on the par-5 eighth and took another bogey. Min didn't make another birdie until the 13th hole, and then she couldn't miss.
 
Most of the back nine was a duel between Webb and Pettersen, with the Norwegian in the final group and always in the lead.
 
Webb got to within one shot with a 40-foot birdie on the 11th, and Pettersen answered with an 8-foot birdie on the 13th. Moments later, Webb made an 8-foot birdie on the 14th.
 
The pivotal hole was the par-5 15th, which can be reached in two with a good drive.
 
Webb didn't hit one. She pushed it into the right rough, had to chip out short of the hazard that left her 207 yards away and did well to make par. Pettersen found the fairway and the green, and two-putted for birdie to lead by two with three holes to play.
 
'One shot -- I'll be thinking of a lot of places where I could have made that up,' Webb said.
 
Pettersen won't have to think about Kraft Nabisco until she returns to the California desert next year as a major champion.
 
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    Poulter offers explanation in dispute with marshal

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:47 pm

    Ian Poulter took to Twitter to offer an explanation after the Englishman was accused of verbally abusing a volunteer during the third round of the Scottish Open.

    Poulter hooked his drive on the opening hole at Gullane Golf Club into a bush, where Quintin Jardine was working as a marshal. Poulter went on to find the ball, wedge out and make bogey, but the details of the moments leading up to his second shot differ depending on who you ask.

    Jardine wrote a letter to the tournament director that he also turned into a colorfully-titled blog post, accusing Poulter of berating him for not going into the bush "feet first" in search of the ball since Poulter would have received a free drop had his ball been stepped on by an official.


    Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


    "I stood and waited for the player. It turned out to be Mr. Poulter, who arrived in a shower of expletives and asked me where his ball was," Jardine wrote. "I told him and said that I had not ventured into the bush for fear of standing on it. I wasn't expecting thanks, but I wasn't expecting aggression, either."

    Jardine added that Poulter stayed to exchange heated words with the volunteer even after wedging his ball back into the fairway. After shooting a final-round 69 to finish in a tie for 30th, Poulter tweeted his side of the story to his more than 2.3 million followers:

    Poulter, 42, won earlier this year on the PGA Tour at the Houston Open and is exempt into The Open at Carnoustie, where he will make his 17th Open appearance. His record includes a runner-up at Royal Birkdale in 2008 and a T-3 finish at Muirfield in 2013.

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    Immelman misses Open bid via OWGR tiebreaker

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:25 pm

    A resurgent performance at the Scottish Open gave Trevor Immelman his first top-10 finish in more than four years, but it left him short of a return to The Open by the slimmest of margins.

    The former Masters champ turned back the clock this week at Gullane Golf Club, carding four straight rounds of 68 or better. That run included a 5-under 65 in the final round, which gave him a tie for third and left him five shots behind winner Brandon Stone. It was his first worldwide top-10 since a T-10 finish at the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.

    There were three spots available into The Open for players not otherwise exempt, and for a brief moment it appeared Immelman, 38, might sneak the third and final invite.


    Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


    But with Stone and runner-up Eddie Pepperell both not qualified, that left the final spot to be decided between Immelman and Sweden's Jens Dantorp who, like Immelman, tied for third at 15 under.

    As has been the case with other stops along the Open Qualifying Series, the tiebreaker to determine invites is the players' standing in the Official World Golf Rankings entering the week. Dantorp is currently No. 322 in the world, but with Immelman ranked No. 1380 the Swede got the nod.

    This will mark Dantorp's first-ever major championship appearance. Immelman, who hasn't made the cut in a major since the 2013 Masters, was looking to return to The Open for 10th time and first since a missed cut at Royal Lytham six years ago. He will instead work the week at Carnoustie as part of Golf Channel and NBC's coverage of The Open.

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    Stone (60) wins Scottish Open, invite to Carnoustie

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 6:06 pm

    There's never a bad time to shoot a 60, but Brandon Stone certainly picked an opportune moment to do so.

    Facing a jammed leaderboard in the final round of the Scottish Open, Stone fired a 10-under 60 to leave a stacked field in his wake and win the biggest tournament of his career. His 20-under 260 total left him four shots clear of Eddie Pepperell and five shots in front of a group that tied for third.

    Stone had a mid-range birdie putt on No. 18 that would have given him the first 59 in European Tour history. But even after missing the putt on the left, Stone tapped in to close out a stellar round that included eight birdies, nine pars and an eagle. It's his third career European Tour title but first since the Alfred Dunhill Championship in December 2016.


    Full-field scores from the ASI Scottish Open


    Stone started the day three shots behind overnight leader Jens Dantorp, but he made an early move with three birdies over his first five holes and five over his first 10. Stone added a birdie on the par-3 12th, then took command with a three-hole run from Nos. 14-16 that included two birdies and an eagle.

    The eye-popping score from the 25-year-old South African was even more surprising considering his lack of form entering the week. Stone is currently ranked No. 371 in the world and had missed four of his last seven worldwide cuts without finishing better than T-60.

    Stone was not yet qualified for The Open, and as a result of his performance at Gullane Golf Club he will tee it up next week at Carnoustie. Stone headlined a group of three Open qualifiers, as Pepperell and Dantorp (T-3) also earned invites by virtue of their performance this week. The final spot in the Open will go to the top finisher not otherwise qualified from the John Deere Classic.

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    Daly (knee) replaced by Bradley in Open field

    By Will GrayJuly 15, 2018, 12:13 pm

    Former champion John Daly has withdrawn from The Open because of a right knee injury and will be replaced in the field at Carnoustie by another major winner, Keegan Bradley.

    Daly, 52, defeated Costantino Rocca in a memorable playoff to win the claret jug at St. Andrews in 1995. His lingering knee pain led him to request a cart during last month's U.S. Senior Open, and when that request was denied he subsequently withdrew from the tournament.

    Daly then received treatment on the knee and played in a PGA Tour event last week at The Greenbrier without the use of a cart, missing the cut with rounds of 77-67. But on the eve of the season's third major, he posted to Twitter that his pain remains "unbearable" and that a second request for a cart was turned down:

    This will be just the second time since 2000 that Daly has missed The Open, having also sat out the 2013 event at Muirfield. He last made the cut in 2012, when he tied for 81st at Royal Lytham. He could still have a few more chances to improve upon that record, given that past Open champions remain fully exempt until age 60.

    Taking his place will be Bradley, who was first alternate based on his world ranking. Bradley missed the event last year but recorded three top-20 finishes in five appearances from 2012-16, including a T-18 finish two years ago at Royal Troon.

    The next three alternates, in order, are Spain's Adrian Otaegui and Americans Aaron Wise and J.B. Holmes.