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Gifted
JOHN GARRITY
April 09, 2007
Ultimately it was the penultimate hole that would decide who'd win and who'd lose the LPGA's first major of the year, and Morgan Pressel played it best
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April 09, 2007

Gifted

Ultimately it was the penultimate hole that would decide who'd win and who'd lose the LPGA's first major of the year, and Morgan Pressel played it best

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And a lot of things were said. Creamer, who trailed only Pak and Pettersen through three rounds, dismissed Ochoa's meltdown as a lapse of discipline. "You can't be too greedy," she said, operating under the assumption that Ochoa had been aiming at 17's sucker pin. "There's a time to do that, and that's Sunday, down the stretch."

Creamer was right, but that didn't make it any easier for Ochoa's fans, who rose from their grandstand seats and cheered on Saturday when their favorite arrived at the 18th green. Pressel, I should add, got a different kind of cheer the next day, when she holed a 10-footer for birdie, a 69 and a three-under 285. It was a sharp, enthusiastic burst--accompaniment for her fist pump--that dwindled to polite applause. Nobody had an inkling that she was going to win.

So it goes down as one of those nutty outcomes that leaves you scratching your head--an echo of the 2005 U.S. Women's Open in Denver, where an unsung pro, Birdie Kim, holed a bunker shot on the final hole to snatch victory away from a can't-miss 17-year-old by the name of Pressel. This time Pressel played the spoiler, but it was a stealth victory; she hung back for three days and didn't raise a goose bump until Sunday afternoon, when she got to the 17th hole.

That's right, the 17th. A bunch of us walked out there in the heat, expecting to be turned back by orange cones and barricades. Instead we found pretty much the same par-3 as on Saturday, only the pin was set back right instead of back left. Pressel went out on the tee, which was roped off for safety, and smacked a solid shot pin high. From there she parred the hole, the second putt being a five-foot knee-knocker that she would later call "more important than the putt on 18."

Pettersen? She got to 17 in a more rattled state, having squandered her big lead on the previous two holes. "Perfect club," she said of her tee shot on the par-3. "Hit it a little too hard, hit it left. The chip shot was pretty good. I thought I had the putt; it was so close.... " But there was no roar for Pettersen, who would par the final hole to tie for second with Matthew and Brittany Lincicome.

The final hole--that's where majors should be decided. Not on the 17th.

? Read Alan Shipnuck's Hot List at GOLF.com.

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