Merkle gets a good lie


POSTED: Monday, May 17, 2010

OK, so Todd Nacapuy wasn't completely honest with Kristina Merkle.

Merkle knew she was protecting a lead on the back nine in yesterday's final round of the Jennie K. Invitational. She just didn't know how big the cushion was, thanks to her caddie.

“;Todd asked about where I stood when we were on 16 and he completely flat-out lied to me,”; Merkle said. “;He was like, 'You've only got two shots,' when I actually had four.”;

Whatever works, right?

Merkle went on to birdie the next two holes to run away with her fourth Jennie K. title in five years, shooting a 1-over-par 73 in yesterday's final round at Mid Pacific Country Club to close the three-day tournament at 2-over 218.

Merkle won her first Jennie K. championship as a freshman at Moanalua High School and claimed her fourth coming off her freshman year at Tulsa.

“;It's such a prestigious event to come and play. The ladies are so great to me, when I come back I just feel welcomed,”; Merkle said.

Merkle began the morning tied with Nicole Sakamoto at 1 over par after 36 holes. She parred the first seven holes yesterday, hitting the flagstick with her first shot on No. 4. Her second shot on the par-5 fifth went into a creek cutting across the fairway. After she took a drop, her approach stopped inches from the hole to save par.

She couldn't escape a bogey on No. 8 and three-putted for double bogey on the ninth hole to bring Hayley Young to within a stroke going into the back nine.

“;I looked at the scoreboard after nine and thought, 'This is kind of close. There's nine holes left and anything can happen,'”; Merkle said.

She got back on track by sticking an 8-iron inside of 4 feet of the cup on the par-3 11th hole to set up her first birdie of the day.

“;I'm not gonna lie, that shot was a complete accident,”; Merkle said. “;Golf is a funny game, so it got me pumped, like 'I've got one, how many can I get on this side.'

“;I hit it kind of fat and pulled it and then the wind took it more left. I don't know how that thing started going right, but it did. I got really lucky on that.”;

She stuck a wedge close to the pin to set up another birdie on the par-5 12th but slipped a bit with a bogey on No. 15.

Young had also dropped a couple of strokes back, but Nacapuy decided to keep that information to himself.

“;We knew at that point she was three or four up, but I needed to keep her focused on what she was doing,”; Nacapuy said. “;It kicked her back in.”;

Merkle then hit a drive into the wind on the par-5 16th that Nacapuy estimated at 298 yards. A wedge and two putts later, she had her third birdie. On the 17th, she hit an easy pitching wedge from 112 yards to about 2 feet for another birdie that opened up a six-stroke cushion.

It wasn't until she spotted the scoreboard while heading up the 18th fairway that Merkle discovered her caddie's little deception. She bogeyed the final hole, but it hardly mattered by then.

“;I looked at the scoreboard and he goes, 'By the way, I lied to you,' “; Merkle said. “;I was like, 'You're so not funny.' “;

Merkle and 12-year-old Allisen Corpuz carded the low rounds of the day as the winds in Lanikai whipped up in the afternoon to inflate the scores.

Corpuz and Young, a Mid-Pacific graduate and Boise State freshman, tied for second five strokes behind Merkle at 7 over. University of Hawaii freshman Kaili Britos was third another stroke back.