SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. (AP) — Morgan Pressel came back to Pine Needles all grown up. But putting trouble at the U.S. Women’s Open kept the youngest women’s player to ever win a major from claiming her second victory.
Trailing by one stroke entering her final round, Pressel had trouble putting and faded fast during a final-round 77 that dropped her into a tie for 10th at 3 over and left her in tears as she walked off after her double bogey on No. 18.
“I just kind of lost it, especially coming down at the end,” Pressel said.
The 19-year-old winner of the Kraft Nabisco entered her final 18 holes at 3 under and in position to make a run at third-round leader Cristie Kerr and at a second major.
Pressel was 2 under with five holes to go before her poor finish, bogeying three of those before ending her round on the troublesome 18th.
Her chip from the right fringe skipped the green and rolled into a bunker on the left side, and after escaping the sand, she tossed her wedge aside.
“It just snowballed a little bit,” Pressel said. “I probably let it get a little away from myself. Tried grinding pretty hard, and that’s something I can’t do.”
Later, she cried as she walked past reporters, crouched and buried her head in her hands and occasionally wiped away tears with her golf towel.
“It was just a mess,” she said.
Pressel formerly was the youngest player to qualify for the Open when she did it as a 12-year-old in 2001, the last time it was at Pine Needles – 12-year-old Alexis Thompson took over that honor this year, having beaten her out by a few months.
UNSEATED: Annika Sorenstam had a lot more fun the first time she came to the North Carolina sandhills.
The defending champion who also won it in 1996 – the first time it was played here – finished this year well off the pace at 8 over par.
“I saw a little bit more of the course than I wanted to see,” Sorenstam said.
Sorenstam, who came to Pine Needles in search of her fourth Open championship, shot a 73 in her final round.
“I wish I could say I (made progress). I’m very disappointed – I actually thought I scored quite well for the way I hit it,” she said. “There were some times I missed some putts, there were some times I didn’t make up and down, but there were some times I ended up in some places that were difficult, so overall, it’s not been a good week.”
The Open was the third tournament back for Sorenstam, who missed two months because of a bulging disk in her back and a ruptured disk in her neck. She said doctors have told her she needs surgery and an MRI was planned for Monday.
“I’ve not been working on my swing, because I’ve just been happy to be back,” Sorenstam said. “I don’t know if that was a good thing, long term. … I’ve been thinking a lot this week about what to do right. This week, you just have to play. You can’t have all those thoughts. My game is not at the stage where I want it to be, so I figured I’m just going to work now and think long-term.”
BACK NEXT YEAR: Ji-Yai Shin and In-Bee Park have one less thing to worry about: the top 15 finishers earn automatic entry into next year’s Open.
“Next year I have a freebie,” Park said.
Park finished tied for fourth at 2 under after shooting 69, and Shin – who woke up Sunday with a one-stroke lead – finished in sixth place, two shots behind Park after a final-round 74.
Next year’s Open is June 26-29, 2008, at Interlachen Country Club in Edina, Minn.
SHIN’S STORY: A note in Shin’s biography in the Open’s media guide is incorrect, the USGA said.
Shin’s mother was killed in a traffic accident in 2005, and the biography erroneously said Shin suffered serious injuries in the wreck.
The USGA later issued a clarification saying Shin was not in the car.
Shin said through an interpreter that she draws strength from the accident, and that she hopes her mother’s spirit can help her.
DUKES UP: Duke University had a strong presence in the final round – three of the four amateurs who made the cut had ties to the Blue Devils.
Jennie Lee, playing in her third Open, finished at 10 over and in a tie for 39th to share the honor for low amateur with Korea’s Jennifer Song.
Duke teammate Amanda Blumenhurst was one of two low amateurs last year when she was 9 over and tied for 10th at Newport Country Club.
A third player, Mina Harigae, will begin her freshman year at Duke this fall. Harigae finished 21 over after a final-round 80.
Lee’s accomplishment marked the fourth time since 1998 that a Duke player was a low amateur, and the second straight time a Blue Devil did it at Pine Needles – Candy Hannemann was 11 over in 2001.