LEAWOOD, Kan., May 20, 2007 –
But after extra holes today, the focus shifted to a determined second-year pro from Connecticut who not only successfully wrestled with the relentless rough of Leawood South Country Club, but who also had the challenge of outlasting Emily Bastel, an experienced player with a Tour-tested short game. Liz Janangelo stepped up today to grab her second season victory in seven events. The duo tied at four-over-par 217 after 54 holes, but it was Janangelo who closed out the win today after three extra holes.
“It’s always hard to win and I was very, very nervous on the front nine today,” said Janangelo, 23, of West Hartford, Conn., who shot a five-over-par final-round score of 76 in her birdie-free round. “It’s just nice to have another win to sort of validate the first one.”
That first win came in Tampa back in March and the story line was more about bad weather, delays, suspensions and 25-mph wind before Janangelo finally came out on top against – you guessed it – Emily Bastel. Janangelo won that bad-weather marathon at two-over-par 215 to clip Bastel by a shot at 216 (+3). So it came as no surprise when the same two grinders went head-to-head again today in another over-par slugfest against the conditions and each other.
“The course was so difficult that the cream had to rise to the top,” said Janangelo, a four-time All-American at Duke University. “With this golf course, if you weren’t in the fairway, you were looking at bogey. It was right in front of you.”
For that reason, Janangelo left her driver in the bag and opted for her 3-wood today. Still, the long-hitter struggled, as did the rest of the field that registered a whopping final-round scoring average of 76.41. It wasn’t always pretty. The required focus just to keep the ball in play sorted out the field.
“The greens were firm and hard to hold because you’re hitting out of the rough, and with Zoysia [grass] fairways, you can get a lot of fliers,” explained Janangelo.
To kick off today’s final round, the Connecticut player took a double-bogey on the second hole when she hit a tree and fumbled through a series of errors to two-putt from 20 feet. She bogeyed No. 3 and No. 6, and scrambled to save par on Holes 7 and 8. When she made the nine-hole turn, Janangelo again scrambled to save par on the 10th with a chip and a two-inch par putt. She got up and down for par on 12 and 13, missed a six-foot birdie chance on 14, and then bogeyed the 15th hole when she airmailed the green and didn’t save par from six feet. The birdies simply would not come. Janangelo again saved par on the 16th hole when she hit a flop shot to one foot. She scrambled again for par from three feet on the last hole.
“Probably her greatest virtue is her patience,” said Janangelo’s caddie, Brian Combra. “If she missed a green, she still had a good attitude and said she was going to hit it close. The rough was so tough, but Liz never got ahead of herself.”
Meanwhile, Bastel, who played the last two seasons (2005-2006) on the LPGA Tour, struggled with a lackluster front nine. But the former Michigan State University All-American played the back nine at two-under-par 33, cranking up the pressure on Janangelo with birdies on holes 15 and 16.
“I turned at three-over and thought maybe I was out of the tournament, but then I thought I could play the back nine pretty well,” said Bastel, of Upper Sandusky, Ohio. “I looked at the leaderboard at the 15th hole and saw that if I made a couple of birdies coming in, I’d be right there.”
And Bastel was right there. All she could do was hit range balls to stay warmed up and wait for Janangelo to play two more holes. When the Connecticut player two-putted for par from 35 feet on the 18th, the sudden-death playoff was set – returning to the 18th tee until a winner was determined at this inaugural event.
Both players bogeyed the first playoff hole, with Janangelo hitting her approach into a bunker and failing to get up and down for par. Bastel’s pitch rolled 15 feet past the hole. She also couldn’t convert for par.
On the second playoff hole, Janangelo hit her 6-iron approach to the back right fringe 45 feet from the hole. She pitched to eight inches and made par to put the pressure on Bastel, who flew the green to the back rough. Bastel’s chip came up 13 feet short of the hole, but with Janangelo waiting with a par in her pocket, Bastel drained her putt to save par and forced another hole.
“It’s like match-play and Emily has a great short game,” said Janangelo of her opponent at this week’s event presented by Zurich. “I expected her to make that putt.”
The two went back to the 18th tee for the third time and both hit perfect drives, splitting the fairway with Janangelo to the left side and Bastel to the right. As she walked to her ball, Bastel even quipped to the gallery, “Did you ever see that movie, ‘Groundhog Day?’”
But this time, the playoff would find an end. Janangelo’s approach landed 50 feet to the right of the hole and she nearly made the birdie putt when her attempt burned the left edge, setting up a tap-in putt for the win. Bastel’s approach landed in the back first cut of rough. She chipped, but left an eight-footer for par. Bastel’s par putt lipped out to two feet, assuring Janangelo of her second season victory.
“I feel like I really scrambled all week and to not be hitting it my best and still have a chance to win the tournament says a lot about how I hung in there and was grinding it out,” said Bastel, who is now second to Janangelo on the Tour’s money list. “The course was a U.S. Women’s Open-caliber golf course and Liz is a really strong player. A course like this should suit her.”
Leawood South “suited” only four players today who shot even-par 71 or better. Rachel Bailey of Faulconbridge, Australia and Allison Fouch of Grand Rapids, Mich., both carded 71s to tie for third at 220 (+7) with Vikki Laing (75) of Musselburgh, Scotland and Kim Augusta (76) of Rumford, R.I.
Brandi Jackson of Greenville, S.C., fired a one-under-par 70 to finish seventh at 221 (+8). Meaghan Little of Sturgis, S.D., fired the only other sub-par 70 for a tie for 12th at 224 (+11).
And while the deceptively difficult 6,277-yard course tested both the wits and wedges of players all week, it became evident why some of the world’s greatest champions have won here. LPGA Hall of Famer Kathy Whitworth won three times at Leawood South when the LPGA Tour played here in the early 1970s.
Thirty years later, a young pro named Janangelo won the battle of the tenacious. And it won’t likely be the last encounter this season between the Tour’s No. 1 and No. 2 players.
“Liz is a great player,” said Bastel. “And I’ll look forward to visiting more with her this year.”
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Weather: Mostly sunny with a high temperature of 77 degrees with wind around 14 mph, gusting to 20 mph.
Contact: Lisa D. Mickey, Duramed FUTURES Tour at (863) 709-9100 and at [email protected]