Wright learned a lot on LPGA’s Hawaii leg
Playing with Annika Sorenstam and putting herself in a position to win for the second consecutive week, little-known Australian golfer Lindsey Wright loved her stay in Hawaii.
At last week's SBS Open at Turtle Bay, Wright entered the final round trailing eventual winner Sorenstam by two strokes. She faded from view with a 74, but said earlier in the week it was still a good learning experience.
Wright took the lesson to heart during yesterday's final round of the Fields Open in Hawaii. Playing in the next-to-last group with Sorenstam and Angela Stanford, Wright emerged as the one to challenge eventual winner Paula Creamer for the title.
At the 18th, she had a 30-footer for birdie that would have put her in a tie for first, but it just went by the hole. She tapped in for par, then watched as Creamer and Jeong Jang came up the 18th with the championship on the line. Creamer sank a 6-footer for birdie to win and Jang drained her 4-footer for par to secure second.
Wright finished alone in third to earn $86,755 with a final-round 67, just two shots back of the 21-year-old winner. It is the best finish of her career, which began in 2004.
"My goal was to finish fifth, so to contend for a tournament was an awesome feeling," Wright said. "I'm just excited to finish higher up. Usually, I play the final round and kind of fall apart."
Paired with Sorenstam last week, that happened as she dropped from third entering the final round to a tie for 16th, costing her money along the way. But earning nearly $100,000 in two weeks and playing with the greatest women's player in back-to-back tournaments was something special for Wright.
"I loved it, Annika is great," Wright said. "I learned so much from her. I was walking down the last hole thinking, 'I don't know how she won 70 times' because I was nervous down the last few holes."
Creamer, Jang tight
How close were Creamer and Jang this week?
Well, we know they ended up only one shot apart through 54 holes, but it goes beyond even that. Creamer and Jang hit 37 fairways and 42 greens, and each sank 81 putts, leaving Creamer and her parents shaking their heads when told that fact.
"You can't get any closer than that," Creamer said. "To be honest with you, I've never heard anything like that in my career. It came down to the last hole."
Creamer needed only 52 putts the first two rounds, but that number soared a bit yesterday with 29. Still a respectable total, Creamer had a streak of 10 consecutive pars where the ball just wouldn't roll into the hole. She was glad that came to a close after she birdied four of the final five holes to earn the win.
"I was nervous, but I felt confident," Creamer said. "That's why you practice. That's why I do my drills, to feel that. There's nothing like that."
Sorenstam comes close
Take away the double bogey at the 10th and the bogey at the par-5 14th, and suddenly Sorenstam is winning again. Not that she felt bad about it, especially after carding three consecutive birdies to offset the double at 10, but it just shows how close Sorenstam is to regaining her top form.
"I'm very pleased," Sorenstam said. "I had a good run today. I made one or two mistakes coming down the stretch, but then I bounded back. It wasn't enough, but it was fun to have a chance and do all that. It was exciting. I liked having a chance."
Inside the numbers
With only 74 golfers in the field yesterday, the scoring average dropped nearly a stroke to 71.260 from 72.059 on Friday. The hardest hole was the par-4 18th with a scoring average of 4.466.
There were only four birdies and 40 pars that were offset by 23 bogeys, three double bogeys and three triple bogeys by Michelle Wie, Momoko Ueda and Hiromi Mogi. The easiest hole was the par-5 14th with a scoring average of 4.507. There were 38 birdies, 33 pars and two bogeys, including one by Sorenstam.