Stacy Prammanasudh waved to the gallery after winning the Fields Open yesterday.
Stacy P earns a ‘V’
Prammanasudh holds off Lee by 1 to win the LPGA event
They call her Stacy P because her last name of Prammanasudh doesn't fit neatly on any leaderboard. But after yesterday's win at the $1.2 million Fields Open in Hawaii, LPGA Tour officials had best figure out how to make more space.
The 27-year-old lifelong resident of Oklahoma remained steady and true down the stretch of yesterday's final round to secure her second tour win with a 4-under 68. Her three-day total of 14-under 202 left her one shot clear of South Korea's Jee Young Lee, who also shot a 68 to finish alone in second at 13-under 203.
Lee put herself in position to win her first tour event by completing the final five holes of her rain-delayed second round early yesterday morning to move to 9 under for the tournament, one shot off the pace set by Prammanasudh and tour rookie Angela Park.
In only her second season on tour, Lee has yet to win, but managed six top-10 finishes last year. Park has done well as a junior golfer and on the Futures Tour, but the 18-year-old is hardly a seasoned veteran, leaving Prammanasudh as the old lady in the final pairing.
As they teed off, it was obvious that going low would be the order of the day. Cristie Kerr made some noise with a blistering 7-under 65. Japan's Ai Miyazato also climbed steadily up the leaderboard with a final-round 66.
But after Prammanasudh opened with back-to-back birdies on the first two holes, it became apparent that only Lee had any real shot at tracking her down. The light-hitting Park tried to keep pace with her playing partners, but could manage only a closing 71 to finish in a tie for third at 11-under 205 with Miyazato and American Morgan Pressel (69).
"I had been in a situation (like this) one other time and I was just trying to pull on those experiences and maintain myself out there on the golf course," Prammanasudh said. "You know, it's difficult and it's intense, but you know, you just find something within yourself to make it through."
As she walked up the 18th fairway, Prammanasudh and Lee were on the front edge on the right side of the green. Lee's birdie putt never had a chance as it came up 3 feet short. Prammanasudh ran her birdie try about 3 feet past, leaving a tricky putt for par to win for the first time since 2005.
"You know, the first (win) kind of came upon me by surprise," Prammanasudh said of her victory at the Franklin American Mortgage Championship. "You know, I wasn't expecting to win so early, and then you put in a lot of hard work to try to get that second one. I'm definitely glad that I played well enough to come out on top today."
Prammanasudh decided late last year that it was time to seek professional help after learning how to play golf from her father. Last December, she went to Palm Springs, Calif., to meet with instructor Bill Harmon, who helped make some swing changes in only five easy lessons.
Last night, Prammanasudh returned to the mainland with her husband, who caddied for her these last two weeks. On their way back to Oklahoma, they will stop in Palm Springs to meet with Harmon today to see if any tweaking needs to be done before the next event in Mexico in two weeks.
"I was playing a practice round with Nicole Castrale at the U.S. Open last year," Prammanasudh said. "Bill has been Nicole's teacher from when she was little. I wasn't striking it well going into the Open, and I was just kind of, you know, I was talking with him, walking up the fairway.
"I was like, 'Yeah, let me know if you see anything.' I was just joking. He's not there for me. He's there for her. I just threw it out there. Why not? A couple of holes later, he mentioned my grip looked too strong with my right hand, and that's all I focused on the remainder of the season, and that literally changed my season right there."
Lee isn't ready for any new lessons just yet. The powerful South Korean had her chances to catch Prammanasudh on the back nine, but couldn't put enough pressure on Prammanasudh to cause her to fold. After she birdied Nos. 12 and 13, Lee managed only pars the rest of the way. It was frustrating for the 21-year-old, but she believes a win is still in her near future.
"I think there were a lot of chances for me to catch up," Lee said. "But I missed that chance (on the back nine). There were a lot of chances for me to make more birdies, but I just couldn't do it. I believe I started the season great and I'm pretty sure I'll have a win if I play well like I did this week.
"Last year, I finished runner-up to Seon Hwa Lee, who ended up winning rookie of the year. She had a win later on in the season. I'm confident that I'll be able to win and it will help me once I do."
As for Prammanasudh, keeping consistent is a key for her. In the first two weeks of the season, she leaves Hawaii with a win this week and a tie for eighth at the season-opening SBS Open. She's hopeful bigger and better things await.
"I had my best season in my career last year," Prammanasudh said. "I didn't come out with a win, but there was a lot of learning throughout the 2006 season that helped get me to this place."