Apr
1
2012
Well, That Certainly Was A(nother) Wild and Crazy (and Unexpected) Finish…[*Update]
By Stephanie Wei under LPGA

Yani: Still smiling

I’m not sure where to start, but how about that finish at the LPGA’s first major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship!? You know, just when I thought we were finally going to have a relatively calm and boring (in a good way) Sunday, mayhem broke loose.

 

Tied for the lead going into the final round at Mission Hills, Yani Tseng was expected to coast to victory on the way to her sixth-career major at the ripe age of 23. We had already nearly handed her the trophy before the day started — heck, actually before she even hit a shot! After all, it was Yani, the No. 1 player and the most dominant golfer in the world, who had just won three of her last five events.

Uh, well, yeah, not so fast. I nearly had an anxiety attack (OK, I kinda did) around the 5th hole, realizing that things weren’t going to be so smooth. Not the end of the world, but you know, I’m glad I stayed up ’til the wee hours of the night transcribing interviews with Nancy Lopez, Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa and Gary Gilchrist on Saturday! Naturally, the questions I asked were focused on a theme where the outcome would be Yani winning, but hey, life goes on. Besides, it was pretty cool chatting with such legends.

My mind is still spinning from the leaderboard and all the crazy drama. One thing that obviously stands out was IK Kim’s unfortunate miss on the 72nd hole. Thing is, it wasn’t like IK was careless or one-handed it. She went through her routine, did everything textbook, and it just caught the right edge and lipped out. She told her caddie that maybe she should have been reactive and just gone and tapped it in, but she also said she can’t really focus on the shoulda, coulda, wouldas. The golf gods owe her one, though. Big time.

[*Update: I was standing next to the 18th green when IK missed the tap-in, and the gasps of horror sent chills up my spine. First of all, I was confused because I saw her lag the first putt and I thought she just went up and tapped it in. So I stopped paying attention and was doing something with my phone (naturally) to kill the five minutes it’d take the other girls to finish putting out. Then, I heard THE GASP. I know she was trying to stick to her routine and stuff, but I’m not a huge fan of the ladies (not all do it, but a lot of them) who mark tap-ins…That’s obviously not the point, but IK is such a sweetheart that it makes your heartbreak more. I mean, looking at that leaderboard with all the girls who had a shot to win…uhh…well, who?]

The miss dropped IK to nine-under and forced a playoff against Sun Young Yoo (who?) As it happened, Yoo birdied the first hole in sudden death. Meanwhile, a still shell-shocked IK handled it like a true pro and stuck around for a good 30 minutes or so to field questions from the press. Class act.

I’ve got a game story to write for SI Golf+, so I better get to that, but just wanted to post some nonsensical thoughts here.

Oh, and with Yani’s loss today, I think that means Sean Foley is now the most dominant person in golf. Hunter Mahan won his second tournament of the season at the Shell Houston Open to keep Foley’s streak alive. The instructor whose students include Justin Rose, Tiger Woods and Hunter Mahan (and Stephen Ames), have now won four of the last six events. That’s a pretty damn good winning percentage.

Congrats to Foley, Mahan and his caddie John Wood.

Many have asked who my favorites are to win the Masters. Well, here it is: Sean Foley.

Alright, I’ve got a long night ahead of me. Good news is by this time tomorrow (barring a disaster like missing a flight, which is possible) I’ll be at Augusta. Light at the end of the tunnel!

For now, reactions/comments on today’s results and the upcoming week — otherwise known as what’s been hyped as THE BEST MASTERS EVER.

*Update: Thanks to Sahalee Joe for pointing out the video of one of IK’s many interviews after what happened.

(AP Photo/Matt York)