75-foot eagle putt seals it for Creamer
AMERICA'S Paula Creamer produced a miraculous 75-foot eagle putt on the second play-off hole to win the US$1.4 million (S$1.8 million) HSBC Women's Champions in dramatic fashion yesterday.
With shades of Tiger Woods at the 2005 Masters, she rolled the snaking putt across the large green, over a ridge, down a slope and straight into the cup to snatch the title from Spain's Azahara Munoz.
The wondrous putt ended a thrilling last day when three-round leader Karrie Webb fell apart over the final holes and Creamer came from four shots back overnight with a 69 to go into the play-off with Munoz. Creamer had rounds of 67, 73, 69 and 69 for an aggregate score of 10-under 278 at the par-72 Sentosa Golf Club.
"I could stand there all day long and putt that and not get it within six or seven feet, but it just happens sometimes," said Creamer, who ran across the green screaming when the ball dropped.
She was inches from victory when her birdie putt crept wide on the first play-off hole. On the second, she threw caution to the wind and reached the large, sloping green in two, setting up the eagle opportunity. It was the 27-year-old's ninth LPGA title and ended a trophy drought stretching back to the 2010 US Women's Open.
"I'm shaking," she said after the win. "This has been such a long time coming. Obviously it's a bit of luck (the putt) going in like that."
The putt provided an unforeseeable twist in a tournament which had looked in the bag for Webb, 39, who led from day one right until the closing stages.
A 41st LPGA title seemed a formality for the Australian veteran when she held a three-shot advantage over second-placed Creamer, and four ahead of Munoz, after carding her second birdie of the day on the par-five seventh.
However, the Hall-of-Famer opened the door when she lipped out a three-foot par putt on No. 13. Creamer then rolled in a 15-foot birdie on the 15th to lie just one stroke behind.
And the pressure told when Webb, after a warning for slow play, pulled her tee shot into water on the difficult par-four 15th and walked off with a bogey, now level with Creamer on minus 10 for the tournament.
Another errant drive left Webb in trouble on No. 16. But she escaped with par.
Munoz was still only one shot back from the leaders and when she drained a 12-foot birdie on the par-three 17th, with Creamer in the clubhouse at 10-under, suddenly it was a three-way tie for the lead with one hole to play.
But the wheels came off for Webb as she took two shots to escape from a bunker on the 18th, and finished with a bogey. "I'm a bit in my head right now. There's a lot going on," said Webb. "Just not a lot of good decisions."
Munoz had a 12-foot, downhill birdie opportunity to win it on the last hole but her putt veered left, taking her back to the 18th tee for what turned into a memorable play-off with Creamer.