Webb denies Pettersen in playoff

(Melbourne, March 3 2002) World number two Karrie Webb from Australia emerged the victor at the first extra hole of the $Aus500,000 AAMI Australian Women’s Open at Yarra Yarra GC after a dramatic final day battle with Norwegian Suzann Pettersen.

Pettersen – valuable Solheim points

Despite missing birdie putts of eight feet at the opening hole and five feet at the third, while Webb drained putts of 35 and 20 feet for birdie at the second and fourth, Pettersen was openly frustrated, but kept her determination.

The Australian showed a kink in her armour with a three putt bogey at the fifth, and saved par from 12 feet after a world class bunker shot at the tricky par three sixth.

Pettersen suffered a three putt bogey from fifteen feet at the seventh to allow Webb the luxury of a two shot lead heading into the par fives, eight and nine.

The eighth was halved in par but the 27-year-old from Queensland showed her courage as she took the huge fairway bunkers on with her tee shot while Pettersen opted for the safety of an iron.

The tournament could have been all over at this hole as Webb played a remarkable three wood from 234-yards, finishing ten feet away. Pettersen responded magnificently with a wedge to two feet for her third shot.

Webb holed for eagle to move three in front, but made a basic error with her approach, and her chip to bogey the tenth.

Well clear of the field, it almost became matchplay and when Pettersen, with the honour, saw her ball plug in the face of the deep bunker on the 11th, the defeated expression on her face told the story.

However, Webb, admittedly not on top of her game this week, followed her into the trap and the pair conjured high calibre shots to secure pars.

The Australian extended her lead to three at the 12th with a birdie from three feet and Pettersen finally holed a birdie putt at the 13th to close the gap.

Webb found the trees on the right with her tee shot at the 14th and with Pettersen safely in for par, Webb holed another long putt to save par and her lead.

But the drama began as Pettersen, underdog all day and suffering with her putting, holed from 15 feet for birdie at the par five 16th to reduce the gap to two.

But at the next, she hit a tree with her approach shot and miraculously saved par from thirty yards while Webb could not take advantage.

And at the final hole, it was Webb who made the mistake, blocking her approach to the right into thick rough.

The Norwegian responded with a towering four iron to twenty feet, setting up a 72nd hole birdie to tie the lead with Webb, who could only par.

In the playoff, both players hit huge drives, but Pettersen, opting for a seven wood pulled her approach into the deep greenside bunker, Webb found the green safely.

The Norwegian, who was the 2001 Evian Tour Rookie of the year, splashed to twenty feet. Webb putted aggressively, eight feet past the hole leaving a slick downhill putt for her first birdie at the 18th all week.

Pettersen missed, and Webb courageously holed for the Euro49,291 first prize.

“I thought, ‘not again’,” said Webb, who lost in a playoff to Annika Sorenstam at the ANZ Ladies Masters last week.

“But hats off to Suzann, she played really well today. She hung in there and made some great birdies coming down the stretch. I gave myself a couple of opportunities, but couldn’t make them.

“But I made a few putts before that, so I can’t complain, and I was obviously very happy to make that last putt in the playoff.

“My putter really performed well this week. It feels great to win; to lose two playoffs would have been disappointing, so I am glad I won this week. I only just found out that Suzann in 20-years-old, knowing that, we will definitely have to look out for her, she didn’t falter coming down the stretch and gave herself a great eagle chance at the last to win the tournament.”

Pettersen, despite losing, was happy with her performance.

“I gave myself a chance and that was nice. I never really played myself out of it. I kept it going all the way and had a birdie on the last. Karrie is a great player and she is really a good putter,” said Pettersen, who wished she could have putted like her.

“That’s what I feel. We both hit it good from tee to green but she seemed to get it in – I didn’t. I played with her for two rounds and she holed everything. She holed a couple of par putts. You can’t expect anything else. If she is on the green, you expect her to hole it. She is a such a great player.”

The consolation for the Norwegian youngster is 20 valuable points for The Solheim Cup 2002, where she is currently in second place with 101 points.