Fields lacked drama of 2006
The LPGA event at Ko Olina was missing something
The closing act of the Aloha Season was played out on a chilly tradewind evening at Ko Olina Resort.
While there was a good crowd gathered at the picturesque 18th green as a husband-and-wife team ended the show, it lacked the drama that Michelle Wie and Morgan Pressel produced before packed galleries a year ago.
Wie is back at school waiting for two suspect wrists to become whole and Pressel failed to produce that dynamic closing 18 holes that's needed to kiss the trophy. A bogey at the par-5 opening hole left Pressel slapping the head of her putter like a petulant child.
Minutes later, eventual winner Stacy Prammanasudh strolled through with a birdie, a two-shot swing that Pressel never overcame. Top American Cristie Kerr fired a 7-under 65 that might have meant more had she not been assessed a pair of one-shot penalties on Thursday.
That mental lapse cost her nearly $46,000 and any shot of getting her 10th win on tour. Kerr caused quite a stir with her controversial remarks to the Star-Bulletin and GolfWeek senior writer Beth Ann Baldry. Kerr said in a driving rain storm that she felt bullied by LPGA Tour officials with their ruling that was based on Golf Channel replays.
Kerr wasn't quite as fired up on Saturday, even going on the Golf Channel after her round to defend her remarks, but she still believes the wind moved her golf ball on the slick slope of the 12th green, not the grounding of her club.
Afterward, Kerr addressed media members in a more subdued tone, preferring to talk about her closing round of 65, but not denying her original remarks. She had made her point on Friday, drawing the ire of Golf Channel analyst Dottie Pepper early in Saturday's broadcast.
Kerr said that the two shots lost were in the back of her mind all day, but it wasn't the kind of thing that would stick around much longer.
"No, if it were the last tournament of the season I think it would be different," Kerr said. "It's only the second week of the season and I have the whole season ahead of me. If this were the last tournament of the year it would stick with you the whole offseason. So I'm glad it happened the second tournament of the year and I have this round to build on."
Kerr was so on edge about the matter during Friday's rain-delayed round that she tracked down reporters twice just to make sure her point was made.
"I thought I did everything right; obviously from the tape I didn't," Kerr said Friday. "I didn't think it was handled right. He (LPGA vice president of rules Doug Brecht) didn't need to make me so upset. That's the one thing I think the tour needs to focus on, too, is, we've been battling and fighting on the course all day.
"I'm sure they have an appreciation, but they really don't know what we go through and I just came off three unbelievable saves to salvage the round. I'm feeling great (with her 3-under 69 that later becomes a 71). I thought they were in the tent to help us figure out how many -- because Christina Kim hit a tree and the ball hit her -- and how many stroke penalty that was. Then, it's me the focus is on. It's bad timing, it was a shock. But again, I take responsibility if I messed up. But it was still pretty harsh."
Prammanasudh's timing couldn't have been better. She finished her second round atop the leaderboard just as the skies grew dark and the players preparing for the afternoon grew blue with the realization that they would not complete round two on this day.
Closest competitors Angela Park and Jee Young Lee were caught in that rain delay. Park eventually drew even with Prammanasudh once she completed her nine holes on Saturday. Lee started on the 14th early Saturday, and like Park, had to wait several hours before teeing it up again for round three.
This break allowed Prammanasudh to practice her short stuff Friday afternoon and play a light game of Spades with her caddie-husband, Pete Upton, with fellow American Pat Hurst and her husband, Jeff Heitt, that night.
"Ironically, it was the exact same situation for my first win," Prammanasudh said of her victory in Tennessee in 2005. "There was a rain delay, similar situation. I was not involved in the delay. We played cards and just had a relaxing evening and a good night's rest, and packed up the room and went and had a nice sit-down breakfast (Saturday morning) and got to the golf course and did my usual routine."
It all added up to a one-shot win for Prammanasudh, who left the islands on a red-eye flight Saturday night No. 1 on the LPGA Tour money list with $205,285. Interesting enough in its own right, but not quite Wie and Pressel of a year ago.