Pressel's Birdie Wins

October 18, 2008

Pressel's win was her first in 43 starts and first Top-10 since June.

KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) -- Morgan Pressel served as a gracious host but didn't want to extend Kapalua's welcome by going into overtime.

Pressel birdied the final hole Sunday in the inaugural Kapalua LPGA Classic for her first victory of the season.

Kapalua's tour pro closed with a 3-under 69 to edge Suzann Pettersen (69) by a stroke. Pressel finished at 8-under 280 and earned $225,000 for her second career win.

The 20-year-old Pressel birdied two of her final three holes and made a clutch 15-foot putt from the fringe near the front of the green to secure the victory.

"I was nervous out there," said Pressel, who missed a 2-footer for birdie on 18 in the third round. "I knew what I had to do. ... I didn't want to go extra holes."

The victory was her first win in 43 starts and first top-10 finish since June.

"You expect her to make it," Pettersen said. "You expect good players to make putts."

Pressel won the Kraft Nabisco Championship last year to become the youngest player in tour history to win a major. Pettersen tied for second in that event in California after faltering down the stretch.

Conditions at the scenic and hilly Bay Course were balmy and slightly breezy. The tradewinds were down considerably from the first three rounds.

Laura Diaz (70) finished third at 6 under. Angela Stanford (70), Sun Young Yoo (72) tied for fourth at 4 under, a stroke ahead of Stacy Lewis, who closed with a 66, and Carin Koch (74).

Pressel was in tears after the win as she thanked her grandparents. It was a gutsy performance considering she played alongside top-ranked Lorena Ochoa and No. 2 Annika Sorenstam for the first two rounds and had numerous engagements to attend as Kapalua's poster child.

Pressel shook her fist after draining a 7-foot birdie putt on the par-4 16th to catch Pettersen, who birdied 18 and was already in the clubhouse and waiting for a possible playoff.

Pressel also got up-and-down from the bunker to save par on the par-3 17th. She had a long eagle attempt on the 454-yard, par-5 15th, but three-putted for par.

The 27-year-old Pettersen had a costly bogey on that hole, which was the easiest of the tournament and one that she birdied the two previous days. She ran into trouble hitting into the greenside bunker and then three-putting.

With several players jostling for the outright lead, Pettersen emerged from the pack by birdieing four of five holes just before the turn to reach 8 under and open a three-stroke lead over Pressel, Yoo and Jee Young Lee.

That's when Pressel told her caddie, "Wow. Suzann is on a tear this morning."

"I had my chances out there, let a few players into the game," said Pettersen, winless this year after winning five times in 2007.

Ochoa (71) tied for 14th at 1 under while Sorenstam closed with a 72 and tied for 25th at 2 over. She played solidly the last three days but couldn't overcome her opening round 77. She smiled and waved to the roaring gallery as she tapped in for birdie on the final hole after missing a 15-foot eagle putt.

"I do feel very good about my game. I know the score doesn't reflect that and that's the bottom line in golf," Sorenstam said.

The 72-time LPGA Tour winner made her second to last competitive appearance in the United States before leaving the tour at the end of the year. She will make her final U.S. appearance will be at next month's ADT Championship.

Kapalua also marked the final LPGA Tour event she and younger sister Charlotta, will play together. They will play one more time in Dubai on the Ladies European Tour.

The Sorenstams will be spending a lot of time together. Charlotta teaches at her sister's golf academy.

"She lives in my house and she works for me, so we don't have to fly all the way to Hawaii to hang out," Annika Sorenstam said. "Next year, we'll see a lot of each other."