2005: Pressel’s time at Rolex Junior
Daytona Beach, Fla.
Morgan Pressel thought it was over long before the final putt dropped June 17 at the AJGA Rolex Girls Junior Championship. Not because she’d played her way out of the tournament. Pressel’s stiffest competition down the stretch in Daytona Beach came in the form of a vexing thunderstorm that threatened to take her title.
After nearly four hours of delays, Mother Nature eventually cooperated, allowing Pressel to notch her second AJGA title of the season. The following morning Golfweek’s top-ranked amateur and junior jetted off to Denver for a major of a different kind – her third U.S. Women’s Open.
Pressel was cruising along Friday with a two-shot lead through 13 holes over playing partners Hsiao-Ching Lu, In-Bee Park and Megan Grehan when severe weather halted play at 1:46 p.m. Immediately, Pressel feared the worst.
“I was just afraid they were going to call it for the day and cancel the round,” said Pressel. About two hours later, play resumed for only two holes.
Although Pressel held a three-shot lead through 51 holes, second-round leader Lu (at 5-under 139) would’ve been awarded first place had play not resumed. Fortunately for Pressel, 1 hour and 45 minutes later the clouds parted and players again took to the soppy fairways of LPGA International’s Legends Course in carts.
Pressel figured a trio of routine pars would get the job done. Lu wasn’t so optimistic.
“With only three holes to go she didn’t think she had a chance, but I told her one birdie and you can have a sushi dinner,” said Ernie Huang, Lu’s interpreter. Lu managed to birdie the 16th to pull within two, the winning margin for Pressel.
Still, the 17-year-old from Chinese Taipei was pleased with her performance considering she almost didn’t make it to Daytona Beach. After a late U.S. Women’s Open sectional qualifying round in Rochester, N.Y., Huang and Lu raced to the airport and arrived in Florida Wednesday at 2:30 a.m. Her driver and putter didn’t make it in time for her opening round, so Lu bought replacements in the pro shop.
Kimberly Donovan vaulted up the leaderboard with a closing 6-under 66 to share second with Lu, two shots behind Pressel’s winning 7-under 209 total.
Pressel heads to Cherry Hills looking to outduel another set of successful teens in her fourth start in a professional event this year. After Michelle Wie and Paula Creamer finished Nos. 2-3 at the LPGA Championship June 12, Pressel is encouraged.
“If they’re out there playing like that I know I can be out there playing like that. . . . It’s just a matter of time,” Pressel said.