It looked like Lorena Ochoa had it locked up, but thanks to a miraculous 116 yard pitch that found the hole Karrie Webb would have a chance to win the women’s first major of the year in a playoff. Webb was so stunned by the final hour of the Kraft Nabisco Championship that she lost her way after completing an amazing comeback Sunday. Even after holing out with her wedge, Webb had to watch Michelle Wie try for an eagle chip and the win. She wound up with a par to finish one shot behind. Lorena Ochoa recovered from a back-nine collapse in time to hit a 5-wood onto the island green at the 18th, then made a six-foot eagle putt to force the first playoff at Mission Hills in 14 years. Webb won with a seven-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole.
Asked to explain her magical shot that sent her slow climb back to Hall of Fame standards into warp speed, Webb could think of only one thing.
”Destiny, definitely,” she said.
Wie, 16, felt the same way. Poised to become the youngest winner of a major, she stayed in contention with several clutch shots on the back nine, including a huge drive and a 5-iron to the 18th green that left her 25 feet away for an eagle and the victory. Instead of a putter, she chose to chip. The shot ran 10 feet by, and her birdie putt to force a playoff lipped out.
”I was thinking I could make it,” she said of the chip. ”And if I didn’t make it, birdie. Unfortunately, it got away from me.”
Asked about whether destiny worked against her, Wie quickly contemplated the whirlwind finish.
”Karrie holing it out, Lorena making eagle on the last hole, me not making birdie… it must not be meant to be,” Wie said. ”I tried my hardest.”
Webb closed with a 7-under-par 65 to earn her seventh career major title and first since the 2002 Women’s British Open at Turnberry. And it came four months after she was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
”I’m ecstatic right now,” said Webb, who has been retooling her swing. ”I feel pretty lucky.”
Webb and Ochoa, whose eagle on the 18th gave her an even-par 72, completed 72 holes at 9-under 279. Wie had a one-shot lead with five holes to play but came up one shot short for the second time this year, closing with a 2-under 70. Natalie Gulbis added to the theatrics with three birdies in a span of five holes, but her 18-foot birdie putt to join the playoff barely turned away. She settled for a second consecutive 4-under 68 and a third-place tie with Wie.
Defending champion Annika Sorenstam again can rule out the Grand Slam. She matched Wie’s 70 and finished tied for sixth, seven shots off the pace.
Pos Player To Par R1 R2 R3 R4 Tot Earnings T1 Karrie Webb -9 70 68 76 65 279 $270,000.00 T1 Lorena Ochoa -9 62 71 74 72 279 $168,226.00 T3 Natalie Gulbis -8 73 71 68 68 280 $108,222.00 T3 Michelle Wie -8 66 71 73 70 280 $108,222.00 5 Juli Inkster -4 69 73 74 68 284 $75,985.00 T6 Annika Sorenstam -2 71 72 73 70 286 $57,104.00 T6 Hee-Won Han -2 75 72 68 71 286 $57,104.00 T8 Brittany Lang -1 70 74 72 71 287 $41,293.00 T8 Helen Alfredsson -1 70 72 72 73 287 $41,293.00 T8 Shi Hyun Ahn -1 70 71 71 75 287 $41,293.00
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