For exciting golf the final round at the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola didn’t disappoint. The greens firmed up today and the putts got harder for everybody but Suzann Pettersen (Norway), who sent one ball after another into the cup for another birdie on her card.
Pettersen, Stacy Lewis (USA) and Christie Kerr (USA) shared the top of the board through the final round, sometimes swapping places, other times sharing the top slot. Lizette Salas (USA) stayed right behind the trio all the way and when Kerr bogied 18 she and Salas swapped places. They all played a superb tournament. In the end it was Pettersen 1st, Lewis 2nd, Salas 3rd, and Kerr 4th, but it played out to the final holes.
When Stacy Lewis missed a birdie putt on the 18th hole and went to the clubhouse at 18 shots under par, the tournament was Pettersen’s to win or lose. Lewis can be pleased with her 2nd place finish. The #2 ranked player in the world put together 4 bogie-free rounds of golf with an economical 117 putts and says she’s ready for The Evian.
Pettersen, ranked #3 ranked in the world by Rolex and a world-class athlete in every respect, played steady to the end, firing one precision drive after another off the tee, sending putt after putt to the bottom of the cup. When the tournament ended, Pettersen had piled up 24 birdies in 4 rounds of golf and took the championship at the Safeway Classic for the 2nd time.
The final 4 putts on the 18th hole resonated with a drama that blended friendship with raw competition. Pettersen and her friend Yani Tseng(Chinese Taipei) were paired in the final round. Tseng, who had started the round with a 3 shot lead, doubled on the 2nd hole and never recovered her game. She struggled throughout the round, carding 78 and ending the tournament at -12, 8 shots off Pettersen’s lead. Pettersen putted first on the 18th green, missing a final birdie by inches. With only a tap-in between her and victory, she stepped aside for Tseng to putt. Tesng’s first putt went past the cup and her come-bace was about 18 inches. Pettersen stood statue-like while Tseng completed the hole, then stepped forward, tapped in her ball for the win, and went immediately to embrace her good friend and competitor.
Pornanong Phatlum (Thailand), who established an early lead at the Safeway Classic, carded even par for her final round and ended the tournament at -12.
A bit farther down the board, newcomer Min Soe Kwak (South Korea), who had yet to make the cut in an LPGA event when she was summoned to fill the player slot vacated Thursday morning by Paula Creamer’s (USA) withdrawal, made the cut on this one and finished the tournament at -8 for a share of 30th place. Defending champ Mika Miyazato (Japan) shot her best round today, despite a double on the 9th hole, and finished the tournament at 6 shots under par.
The LPGA Tour rests next week, in preparation for The Evian Championship September 12-15 at Evian-les-Bains, France. Inbee Park (South Korea) is the defending champion.
I’ll provide some previews of the players and the course in the coming days and The Evian will be covered by both Golf Channel and NBC.