Triumph of Youth Pressel Nets Major Win

By Associated PressApril 1, 2007, 4:00 pm
RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- Morgan Pressel became the youngest major champion in LPGA Tour history Sunday with a game well beyond her 18 years, closing with a 3-under 69 at the Kraft Nabisco Championship as everyone around her self-destructed.
 
Pressel played her final 25 holes over Mission Hills without a bogey, finishing the round with a 10-foot birdie putt that looked as though it would be only good enough for second place.
 
Morgan Pressel
Morgan Pressel kisses the trophy before taking the traditional plunge. (Getty Images)
Then came a shocking collapse from Suzann Pettersen, the latest and most significant on a sun-baked afternoon in the desert.
 
Pettersen, a fiery 25-year-old from Norway, had a four-shot lead with four holes to play when she started hitting tee shots into the ankle deep rough and missing putts on the crusty greens. She went bogey-double bogey-bogey to fall one shot behind, and needing a birdie on the par-5 18th, she hit wedge some 25 feet beyond the hole and missed the putt.
 
Pressel, who finished at 3-under 285, was on the practice range when she entered the history books.
 
Previously, the youngest major champion was Sandra Post, who was 20 years, 19 days when she won the 1968 LPGA Championship. On the men's tour, Young Tom Morris was 17 when he won the 1868 British Open.
 
The kid broke down in tears again, this time over the shock and euphoria of winning a major 10 months after graduating high school.
 
'Oh my God! Oh my God!' was all she could manage.
 
Then came the sweetest pool party she ever attended. Keeping with tradition at the Kraft Nabisco, Pressel jumped into the pond surrounding the 18th green with her caddie and grandmother, Evelyn Krickstein.
 
Herb Krickstein, her grandfather and the father of former tennis player Aaron Krickstein, watched with a broad smile. Pressel came out of the water and slipped into a white robe that read, '2007 Kraft Nabisco Champion' on the back.
 
It was hard to believe -- not only at that age, but how it all unfolded.
 
Se Ri Pak, needed this major to complete the career Grand Slam, had a three-shot lead on the front nine until Pettersen took charge with a four-shot swing over three holes. Pak bogeyed five of the last six holes for a 77.
 
Catriona Matthew of Scotland, playing only her second event since becoming a mother three months ago, had a 30-foot birdie putt to reach 4 under when she three-putted for a bogey that left her in a tie for second with Pettersen and Brittany Lincicome (72).
 
But no one threw this tournament away more than Pettersen.
 
'I said yesterday that the one who made the fewest mistakes would win,' she said. 'I did a few too many.'
 
It started with a tee shot into the right rough on the 15th, keeping her from reaching the green and taking bogey. She went right again on the next hole, clipping a branch on her second shot that left her short of the green. Her wedge spun off the front of the green, and she used putter to ram it 8 feet by. The bogey putt caught the lip, and suddenly she was down to 3 under.
 
Pressel watched workers change Pettersen's score under par from a '5' to a '3' and couldn't believe it. Pettersen then came up short on the 17th, chipped to 10 feet and missed again, falling one shot behind.
 
A week ago, Pettersen was runner-up to Lorena Ochoa outside Phoenix.
 
'This time, I felt like I lost the tournament,' she said. 'Last week, I felt like I won second place. Apparently, it wasn't my week. I just didn't finish it off. All credit to Pressel.'
 
Stacy Lewis was low amateur after a 71 that put her in tie for fifth.
 
Pressel became the first American to win this major since Dottie Pepper in 1999. And it atoned for Cherry Hills two years ago, when she was poised to win the U.S. Women's Open until Birdie Kim holed a bunker shot for birdie as Pressel watched in disbelief from the fairway.
 
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    Tiger Tracker: 147th Open Championship

    By Tiger TrackerJuly 20, 2018, 2:30 pm

    Tiger Woods shot his second consecutive 70 on Friday at Carnoustie and enters weekend play at even par for the championship, still in contention for major No. 15.


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    Scott and Sunesson a one-week partnership

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 2:13 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Adam Scott has been in between caddies for the last month and went with a bold stand-in for this week’s Open Championship, coaxing veteran looper Fanny Sunesson out of retirement to work for him at Carnoustie.

    Sunesson caddied for Nick Faldo in his prime, as the duo won four major titles together. She also worked for Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia before a back injury forced her to retire.

    But for this week’s championship, Scott convinced the Swede to return to the caddie corps. The results have been impressive, with the Australian following an opening 71 with a second-round 70 for a tie for 16th place.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    “It's been going great. Fanny is, obviously, a fantastic caddie, and to be able to have that experience out there with me is certainly comforting,” Scott said. “We've gotten along really well. She's picked up on my game quickly, and I think we think about things in a very similar way.”

    Scott was also asked about a potential long-term partnership between the duo, but he didn’t sound hopeful.

    “It's just for this week,” he said. “It would be up to her, but I don't think she's making plans of a comeback. I was being a bit opportunistic in contacting her and coaxing her out of retirement, I guess. But I think she's having a good week. We'll just take it one week at the moment.”

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    After tense Augusta Sunday, Rory ready to be aggressive

    By Ryan LavnerJuly 20, 2018, 1:51 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy temporarily lost his superpowers during the Masters.  

    In one of the most surprising rounds of the year, he played tentatively and carefully during the final day. Squaring off against the major-less Patrick Reed, on the brink of history, with the backing of nearly the entire crowd, it was McIlroy who shrank in the moment, who looked like the one searching for validation. He shot a joyless 74 and wound up six shots behind Reed.

    No, the final round was nowhere near as dispiriting as the finale in 2011, but McIlroy still sulked the following week. He binge-watched TV shows. Devoured a few books. Guzzled a couple of bottles of wine. His pity party lasted a few days, until his wife, Erica, finally dragged him out of the house for a walk.

    Some deeper introspection was required, and McIlroy revealed a healthier self-analysis Friday at Carnoustie. He diagnosed what went wrong at Augusta, and then again two months later at the U.S. Open, where he blew himself out of the tournament with an opening 80.

    “I was worrying too much about the result, not focusing on the process,” he said. “Sunday at Augusta was a big learning curve for me because, even if I hadn’t won that tournament, but I went down swinging and aggressive and committing to every shot, I would have walked away a lot happier.”


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    And so McIlroy has a new mantra this week at The Open.

    Let it go.

    Don’t hold back. Don’t worry about the repercussions. Don’t play scared.

    “I’m committed to making sure, even if I don’t play my best golf and don’t shoot the scores I want, I’m going to go down swinging, and I’m going to go down giving my best,” he said. “The result is the byproduct of all the little things you do to lead up to that. Sometimes I’ve forgotten that, and I just need to get back in that mindset.”

    It’s worked through two rounds, even after the cool, damp conditions led McIlroy to abandon his ultra-aggressive strategy. He offset a few mistakes with four birdies, shooting a second consecutive 69 to sit just a couple of shots off the lead.

    During a sun-splashed first round, McIlroy gleefully banged driver on almost every hole, flying or skirting the bunkers that dot these baked-out, undulating fairways. He wasn’t particularly accurate, but he also didn’t need to be, as the thin, wispy rough enabled every player to at least advance their approach shots near the green.

    Friday’s weather presented a different challenge. A steady morning rain took some of the fire out of parched fairways, but the cooler temperatures also reduced much of the bombers’ hang time. Suddenly, all of the bunkers were in play, and McIlroy needed to adjust his driver-heavy approach (he hit only six) on the fly.

    “It just wasn’t worth it,” he said.

    McIlroy hit a few “skanky” shots, in his words, but even his bigger misses – on the sixth and 17th holes – were on the proper side, allowing him to scramble for par and keep the round going.

    It’s the fifth time in his career that he’s opened a major with back-to-back rounds in the 60s. He’s gone on to win three of the previous four – the lone exception that disastrous final round (80) at Augusta in 2011.

    “I don’t want to say easy,” he said, “but it’s felt comfortable.”

    The weekend gets uncomfortable for everyone, apparently even four-time major winners who, when in form, ooze confidence and swagger.

    Once again McIlroy has that look at a major.

    The only thing left to do?

    Let it go.

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    Z. Johnson may have to pay for the jet home

    By Rex HoggardJuly 20, 2018, 1:23 pm

    CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Zach Johnson will have some bragging rights when he gets back to the ultimate golf frat house on Friday after a second-round 67 moved him into the lead at The Open.

    Johnson is rooming with Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Kevin Kisner, Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler this week at Carnoustie. It’s a tradition that began two years ago at Royal Troon.

    Kisner joked on Thursday after he took the first-round lead that the perks for the house/tournament front-runner were limited: “I probably get to eat first,” he said.


    Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

    Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship


    There is, however, one running wager.

    “Two years ago we, I don't know if you call it bet, but agreement that, if you win, you get the jet and you buy it, so we go home,” said Johnson, who added that because of varying travel arrangements, the wager might not be needed this year. “I didn't pay last year. Somebody else did.”

    Spieth won last year’s championship at Royal Birkdale.

    Despite the expense, Johnson said he didn’t know how much it costs to charter a private flight back to the United States, but it’s a good problem to have.

    “I’d be happy to fork it over,” he smiled.