If Alison Walshe is looking for a culprit to explain why she didn’t win the New Zealand Women’s Open, she need look no farther than her play at Pegasus Golf Club’s 11th hole. The Galway native played this short (137 meters) par-3 five strokes over par for her three turns at it in this 54-hole event. Since she finished only a stroke off champion Lindsey Wright, the title turned on her misfires at the second-shortest hole on the course.
Walshe actually played very well otherwise and was one of six women to share the lead after the second round. Her opening-round 68 left her just one off the lead, and was built around seven birdies, but offset by a triple-bogey 6 that she suffered at the 11th hole.
Saturday’s second round saw Walshe endure a rough patch immediately after making the turn, at which she arrived three strokes under par for the round. She bogeyed 10, 11 and 12 to erase any advantage she gave herself on the front side. Birdies at 16 and 18 made up somewhat for those miscues and left her even with the leaders.
Both Walshe and Wright bogeyed the first hole on Sunday, but the eventual medalist more than made up for that with five birdies leading up to the turn, while Walshe countered with three. A Walshe bogey at 11 left her three behind Wright, but she closed the gap to a stroke when Wright took double-bogey 6 at 13.
Meanwhile, Jessica Speechley launched a bid from the back of the pack, going out in 29 to draw into contention. She stalled on the back nine, however; she played this portion evenly, matching a bogey at 13 with birdie at 18 for the clubhouse lead.
As for Walshe and Wright, who were not paired on the course, that duo remained locked in position, as both earned a birdie at 14, prior to taking par at the next three holes. Walshe drew abreast of Wright by sinking a birdie putt at 18 to join Speechley in the clubhouse, awaiting a possible playoff. But Wright scotched those plans when she sank a 4-foor birdie putt of her own for outright possession of the title.
At this stage of his career, any chance at victory may be Paul McGinley’s last. So, while Sunday’s joint-14th in the Avantha Masters in New Delhi, India may appear on the surface to be a boon to McGinley, he must reckon with the notion that this is a tournament that got away.
McGinley shared fifth place, just two strokes off the lead after Saturday’s round. He’d progressively lowered his score over each of the first three days, coming in with 70, 69 and 68. So, what went wrong on Sunday?
Bogey at the second hole and double bogey at the fifth, leaving him three strokes over par, are easy targets. But, then, he’d combined for five bogeys and one par on his previous visits there. Rather, his inability to clip strokes off par in the middle holes, as he had done earlier in the tournament, prevented him from keeping pace. He did earn a birdie at the ninth hole, but then went barren until 17, by which time he was all but mathematically eliminated.
McGinley, who shot 73 on Sunday, finished the event eight strokes under par at 280. South Africa’s Jbe Kruger shot 274 for his first European Tour victory.
Gareth Maybin had another worthwhile outing, carding 285 (72-69-71-73) for a share of 29th place.
An eagle-3 is quite a way to start a round. Too bad that Padraig Harrington couldn’t build on that situation in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, Calif. on Saturday and Sunday.
Harrington began both days in dramatic fashion, but fell prey to bogeys, especially on Saturday, when he shot 74. Six bogeys over a 10-hole stretch, with just a single birdie as whitewash, dropped him down the leaderboard.
Sunday’s round wasn’t quite as punishing, but Harrington’s three bogeys and two birdies after the opening eagle left him with 70 for the round. He finished the tournament tied for 44th place at 288 (74-70-74-70). The low number of 277 belonged to the trio of Keegan Bradley, Bill Haas and Phil Mickelson; Haas won the playoff on the second extra hole.