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Rookie remains calm, earns big LPGA payday

By TIMES WIRES
Published November 20, 2006


WEST PALM BEACH - Shortly after Julieta Granada came to the David Leadbetter Golf Academy in Bradenton at age 14, she grew concerned with her family's spending habits. So she and her mother stopped renting cars and relied on bikes.

"We rode the bike around for a year," Granada said. "We only rented cars for tournaments."

After Sunday, money no longer is a concern.

Two days after turning 20, the rookie from Paraguay won her first tournament, taking home the first $1-million prize in women's golf with a bogey-free 68 at the ADT Championship.

"It's just been incredible this whole week," said Granada, who entered with only seven top-10 finishes in 30 LPGA Tour events. "I was really happy just to be playing."

Lorena Ochoa (70) took second and $100,000 to finish with a tour-high $2,592,872, about $300,000 shy of Annika Sorenstam's record set in 2002.

"I tried my best," Ochoa said. "I have nothing to regret. It's been a great season."

Only 32 qualified for the event. The field was trimmed to 16 after two rounds and eight after three. Then the scores were wiped away. Granada, the youngest of the eight, didn't flinch. Even if the scores hadn't been reset, her four-round total of 276 would have been three better than anyone else.

"She's a great little player, a good little fighter," said Karrie Webb, who shot 71 for third. "I'm not surprised to see her win. She just did it in the right week."

Granada parred her first two holes then birdied the par-5 third. She had three more birdies, including at No. 16 to take a three-shot lead. After making a 5-footer to save par at No. 17, she and her caddie, mother Rosa, pumped their fists.

But Granada backed away from her second shot, on the 18th fairway, distracted by the roar two holes away, where Ochoa had made her second straight birdie to get within one. After getting her approach on the green, Granada made par from 3 feet.

And when Ochoa and Webb hit the water with their tee shots at No. 17, it was all but over.

"It's something really, really neat for us," Rosa Granada said.

Paula Creamer (75) had just one birdie, at No. 18, and was never a factor.

Instead, the day belonged to the field's other 20-year-old, whose father is a greenskeeper in Asuncion, Paraguay, and whose mother was a club player but never better than a 10 handicap.

Granada won the U.S. Girls Junior title in 2004, turned pro in June 2005 and won last year's season-ending event on the Futures Tour for a mere $10,500. Now he plans to buy a car.

"I'm so happy," Granada said. "Really, I don't even know how much $1-million is."

Woods loses late lead then playoff

MIYAZAKI, Japan - Tiger Woods blew a three-shot lead with six holes left then lost to Padraig Harrington in a playoff at the Dunlop Phoenix. Woods fell to 14-2 in playoffs in official tournaments. He previously lost to Billy Mayfair at the 1998 Nissan Open.

Harrington played the back nine in 4 under. At the par-4 16th, Woods had a three-putt bogey, missing his second putt from inside 4 feet after Harrington made a 20-foot birdie.

Both birdied the first extra hole. After Harrington's tee shot on the second stopped behind a tree, he sent a shot between the split trunks and into a perfect lie in a trampled area of rough. After hitting to 2 feet, he tapped in for birdie, and Woods missed a 12-foot birdie.

"I was disappointed in the way I missed that putt at 16," Woods said. "I played safe for a reason, and trusted my putting, which wasn't great the whole week."

ASIAN-EUROPEAN: Jose Manuel Lara shot 1-under 69 to win the Hong Kong Open by one over Juvic Pagunsan. Lara finished at 15-under 265.