After a record setting opening round, Lorena Ochoa couldn’t quite hold on to win the 2006 Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Instead, an electrifying eagle by Karrie Webb from the fairway on 18 forced a playoff. Webb won the playoff on the first hole, taking the year’s first major.
Webb (shown at right), who hasn’t won since 2004, played one group ahead of the trio of Ochoa, Natalie Gulbis and Michelle Wie. Webb had played steadily all day, putting herself into a position to jump into the lead when she holed her shot with a pitching wedge from 116.
Ochoa, on the other hand, lost the lead with a poor back nine. On 18, needing to make eagle to match Webb, she hit a gutsy 5 wood to the island green, where she one putted.
Wie and Gulbis also played well, both finishing one shot out. But for two shots it would have been a four way playoff. Wie’s birdie putt to join the playoff lipped out. And Gulbis, while getting birdies on three of the last five holes, missed an 18-foot putt in the end.
It was an exciting match—the kind that the LPGA has been hoping for. Gulbis and Ochoa are stars on the tour, and Wie’s presence made it all the better.
Webb is an interesting story. Once the LPGA’s leading player, her game has collapsed in recent years. It was her first win since 2004, and her first major victory since she won the 2002 Women’s British Open at Turnberry.
Prior to that, though, she was as good as it gets. The youngest person ever to enter the LPGA Hall of Fame, her career encompassed 31 wins, with seven major championships, including the Women’s British Open in 1995, 1997, and 2002, the Kraft Nabisco Championship in 2000 and 2006, and the U.S. Women’s Open in 2000 and 2001.
She still is only 32 years old.
Next up for the LPGA: The Takefuji Classic on Apr 13-15 in Las Vegas.