Nineteen year old Tour rookie Yani Tseng made her first L.P.G.A. win a huge one as her 18th hole birdie bested Maria Hjorth on the 4th playoff hole at the McDonald's L.P.G.A. Championship. Tseng's 68 in regulation and Hjorth's 71 placed them one shot in front of Annika Sorenstam and Lorena Ochoa. This was Annika's farewell to the McDonald's and I'm sure falling one stroke short had to hurt. Truth be told, if Lorena or Annika could have putted on the back nine, they may have been the playoff. Putt after makeable putt missed their marks, with many coming up short. I was surprised to see the top two players in the world fall short on meaningful putts in a major. As wet as it's been at Bulle Rock, the players in the last groups have to contend with the mounds around the holes where earlier players have stepped. It puts the hole on a crown and forces the player to "firm" it in. I know they know that. They just didn't execute.
It was a seesaw battle on the back nine. Hjorth called on the golf gods on 15 when her second shot launched out of a hazard, caromed across the green to just on the fringe, from where she made birdie. She then proceeded to chip in for birdie on 16 which gave her the cushion to bogey 17 by missing a three footer that in hindsight would have won her the tournament. All this while Sorenstam and Ochoa were choking putts that would have rendered the rest of the action moot.
Tseng had nerves of titanium in the playoff. If she was nervous, she hid it well. Her lasered approach from the right rough on 18, the 4th and final playoff, to 5'9", and that was the putt that ended it. It was reminiscent of Se Ri Pak's dart to two feet on the same hole in a playoff two years ago to best Karrie Webb. Yani Tseng has a bright future. Previous to this break out win, the rookie had two seconds this year. She becomes at 19, the 2nd youngest major winner on tour, second to Morgan Pressel at 18.
The young US contingent of Pressel, Gulbis, Creamer, Kerr, and Lang played OK, but none were really in contention on the day that matters. Laura Diaz was in the hunt midway through the back nine and finished in solo 3rd at -10.
Pay attention to the future of women's golf. It's become a world game. New names and faces are, and will continue to be, the new fabric of the game. As it should be.
Average Golfer astute observation of the day....."Trevor Immelman is now the only player left with a shot at the Grand Slam".