Short game carries Nordqvist to Mojo 6 win
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – Anna Nordqvist, one of the tallest players on tour, is a short-game wizard. Looking at her 6-foot frame one expects a power game, but it’s her touch on and around the greens, along with her steely nerves, that wins tournaments. Nordqvist took down rookie Amanda Blumenherst in the final match of the Mojo 6 on Friday to take home $350,000. She holed out two bunker shots – one in the quarterfinal and one in the final – to significantly pad her bank account.
“A lot of short game practicing has paid off,” Nordqvist said. No kidding. The winner’s check is a significant payout in the world of women’s golf. In fact, it’s a $50,000 bump over the winner’s check at the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Blumenherst took home $120,000 for her efforts, a nice sum even if it is unofficial.
“When I look back I think well, I got beat by a chip-in,” Blumenherst said. “It’s not like I played poorly.”
Nordqvist holed out for eagle from the bunker on the par-5 second hole to take a 1-up lead she never relinquished. Blumenherst, who called this week a great confidence builder, had five pars and one birdie in six holes.
The Mojo 6, an experiment in keeping would-be golf fans entertained and awake by shortening rounds to six holes, was embraced, for the most part, by players and fans alike. It was a whirlwind of golf, with one playoff after another and one round after another. Nordqvist won three matches on Friday, beating Christina Kim, Cristie Kerr and then Blumenherst.
“Playing aggressive, I think that suits my game,” Nordqvist said. “You’ve just got to go out there and go for it.”
• Still trying to wrap my head around the fact that players skipped this event. Money doesn’t motivate everyone, but c’mon, it’s an all-expense-paid trip to Jamaica and a guaranteed payout of $26,000 for last place. Those who made it to Friday’s round were guaranteed $40,000. Plus, the LPGA needs innovative, excited sponsors, and this made-for-TV event is a terrific way for fans to see players in a new light. With such a gaping hole in the spring schedule, this seemed like a no-brainer commitment.
• Fans will likely see Christina Kim sitting behind the sixth hole having a farewell drink with her caddie, Andy Dearden, when this is aired on CBS May 1-2. The two are parting ways after this week as Dearden goes to the Ladies European Tour to be closer to his family.
Kim cried after losing her match to Nordqvist, but said it was more about parting with Dearden than the golf. Kim drove the green on the par-4 fifth hole in the quarterfinal match and looked to have the advantage after Nordqvist chunked her chip shot into the bunker. But the Swede rebounded by holing out for birdie to halve the hole with Kim. Nordqvist then stuck her tee shot on the par-3 sixth hole to 6 feet to win, 1 up.
Like Blumenherst, Kim was at the Mojo on a sponsor exemption and raved about the format. Her motto for the year is to show “no fear,” so the do-or-die style of the Mojo fit perfectly.
“Being in Jamaica doesn’t hurt, either,” she said.
• As Suzann Pettersen and Na Yeon Choi fought to advance to the semifinals on the sixth hole, fans were a bit distracted by the presence of Jamaican super star Usain Bolt. The three-time gold-medal winner in China last summer is the world’s fastest man. Naturally, one of the world’s slowest sports doesn’t get his heart racing, but Bolt managed to entertain fans with a few tee shots into the ocean.
Bolt looked nervous as he prepared to hit, looking toward Kim and CBS analyst Paula Creamer for last-minute advice. He barely got the first shot airborne but made better contact the second time around.
“Definitely do follow Tiger Woods a little bit, but it’s so slow,” Bolt said.
Bolt rode away in a cart after the photo-op with tournament organizer Ed Moses hanging off the back. Moses, a world-class swimmer, won both gold and silver medals at the 2000 Olympics.
That’s a lot of clout in one cart.