Michelle Wie shot a 68 yesterday to finish one stroke behind Karrie Webb in the Evian Masters in Evian, France.
Caught in a Webb
Karrie Webb rallies to leave Michelle Wie in second place at the $3 million Evian Masters
EVIAN, France » If Michelle Wie needs any guidance on how to finish a golf tournament, Karrie Webb is willing to show her the way.
The former world No. 1 from Australia rallied from two shots behind Wie with seven holes to play to capture her third title of 2006. Supreme play on the back nine after an up-and-down front allowed her to win the $3 million Evian Masters by one stroke over Wie and England's Laura Davies.
Webb, who had never won here, finished the week at 16-under 272. In the past, Webb has had trouble with the greens -- even in her prime years this was a title that eluded her -- but 2006 is definitely her year. A check for $450,000 and a Rolex watch were just part of the prize package awaiting the happy Webb.
Webb sealed the deal with her birdie at the par-3 17th. She hit a 53-degree wedge at the 114-yard hole to within 20 feet. She holed a right-breaking putt, then watched as Wie and Davies missed birdie putts to give her a two-shot advantage heading to the 18th.
The 467-yard par-5 provided some suspense. Webb played safe with good course management by laying up.
"I wasn't going to give it to anyone, they had to come after it to get the win or a playoff," Webb said, then smiled.
Davies hit a superb 7-iron from 186 yards into the green to set up a 12-foot eagle putt, which she missed. Wie, who hit her driver into the left rough again, fired a 6-iron into the right greenside bunker.
She blasted out to within 4 feet, making the birdie putt to finish tied for second with Davies at 15-under 273. Webb needed only par to hold off the hard-charging Wie and Davies, which she did to spoil Wie's chances once more. Wie missed joining Webb and Lorena Ochoa in a playoff at the Kraft Nabisco in March by one shot.
"You are always dealing with emotions, and you have to coach yourself through it," Webb said, who added she was thrilled to be back on the winning path.
Wie, in the final grouping with Webb and Davies, birdied the first hole en route to a 3-under 33 on the front nine. It was the first of two birdies and an eagle at the par-5 ninth for Wie. Her only blemish was a bogey at the par-4 fourth.
Wie let it rip on the 482-yard ninth. She hit her driver and then a 7-iron to 35 feet, then sank the putt. The lead changed numerous times under the searing Evian sun, with Wie eventually building a two-shot advantage over Webb and Davies. Ochoa also joined the fray on the back nine after Webb bogeyed the par-4 11th.
But she regained control with birdies at the 12th and 14th, coupled with Wie's bogey at the unlucky 13th. That proved to be her undoing as she heads to England this week for the Women's British Open.
"I played hard today," Wie said. "I am getting very close. I feel good about my game and I saved some key putts today, particularly on 15. It was a fun day playing with Laura and Karrie. Laura was making some spectacular shots. I learned a lot and I didn't feel I was lacking anything."
Ochoa, who finished tied for second in 2005, hovered at the top of the Evian leaderboard once more. She began with a superb front nine of 31, but couldn't hold it as the day progressed. Ochoa finished in fifth place behind Korean Mi Hyun Kim, who scored a spectacular closing 66 for fourth place at 14 under.
Paula Creamer, the Pink Panther defending her 2005 Evian Masters title, played her final round with a hot pink ball. She shot a superb 65, the day's lowest round, to finish at 11 under in seventh place. Tied for eighth were world No. 1 Annika Sorenstam and Korea's Jeong Jang, who finished seven shots off the lead.
Base jumpers arrived at the 18th green with the Australian flag to signal Webb's win. Thousands flocked around the green to applaud all. Wie mania is on the rise in the Alps, and Davies -- a two time Evian Masters champion -- is always a favorite with the crowds, who love her shot-making.