SINGAPORE: America’s Paula Creamer produced a miraculous 75-foot eagle putt on the second play-off hole to win the $1.4 million HSBC Women’s Champions in dramatic fashion on Sunday. With shades of Tiger Woods at the 2005 Masters, Creamer rolled the snaking putt across the large green, over a ridge, down a slope and straight into the cup to snatch the title from Spain’s Azahara Munoz. The wonder-putt ended a thrilling last day when three-round leader Karrie Webb fell apart over the final holes and Creamer came from four shots back overnight with a 69 to go into the play-off with Munoz.
“I could stand there all day long and putt that and not get it within six or seven feet, but it just happens sometimes,” said Creamer, who ran across the green screaming when the ball dropped. Creamer was inches from victory when her birdie putt crept wide on the first play-off hole, and on the second she threw caution to the wind and reached the large, sloping green in two, setting up the eagle opportunity. Soon-to-be-married Creamer, 27, wins her ninth LPGA title and ends a trophy drought stretching back to the 2010 US Women’s Open, while Munoz, 26, will have to wait for her second LPGA win.
Long time coming: “I’m shaking, oh my gosh,” said an emotional Creamer. “This has been such a long time coming. Obviously it’s a bit of luck (the putt) going in like that.” Creamer’s putt provided an unforeseeable twist in a tournament which had looked in the bag for Australian veteran Webb, 39, who led from day one right until the closing stages. A 41st LPGA title seemed a formality for Webb when she held a three-shot advantage over second-placed Creamer, and four ahead of Munoz, after carding her second birdie of the day on the par-five seventh. However, the Hall-of-Famer opened the door when she lipped out a three-foot par putt on 13. Creamer then rolled in a 15-foot birdie on the 15th to lie just one stroke behind.
And the pressure told when Webb, after a warning for slow play, pulled her tee shot into water on the difficult par-four 15th and walked off with a bogey, now level with Creamer on minus 10 for the tournament. Another errant drive left Webb in trouble on 16. But after hitting sideways onto the fairway from the edge of a bunker, she arrowed her approach to within five feet and escaped with par. Munoz was still only one shot back from the leaders and when she drained a 12-foot birdie on par-three 17, with Creamer in the clubhouse at 10-under, suddenly it was a three-way tie for the lead with one hole to play. But after three days in control, the wheels came off for Webb as she took two shots to escape from a bunker on 18, wrenched her approach left and finished with a bogey.
“I’m a bit in my head right now. There’s a lot going on,” said Webb. “Just not a lot of good decisions.” Munoz had a 12-foot, downhill birdie opportunity to win it on the last hole but her nervy putt veered left, taking her back to the 18th tee for what turned into a memorable play-off with Creamer. Creamer had rounds of 67, 73, 69 and 69 for an aggregate score of 10-under-par 278 at par-72 Sentosa Golf Club.
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