Former Trojan Nicole Castrale Wins First LPGA Tour Event
June 4, 2007
Former Trojan Nicole Castrale (formerly Nicole Dalkas) won her first LPGA Tour event, chasing down world No. 1 Lorena Ochoa to force a playoff, which she then won on Sunday (June 3) at the inaugural Ginn Tribute Hosted by ANNIKA in Mount Pleasant, S.C.
Castrale, who $390,000 winner check exceeded her entire 2006 LPGA Tour earnings, defeated Ochoa in a one-hole, sudden death playoff victory.
'My goal really going into today was to give myself a chance to win on the back nine,' said Castrale, who is also the fourth automatic qualifier for the ADT Championship via the LPGA Playoffs 2007. 'So really, to stay close enough, basically close to Lorena. It was really weird, I had an eerie calmness about me all week and it paid off.'
Castrale won with a 9-under 279 (69-71-68-71).
In a week that featured the return of tournament host Annika Sorenstam from injury, sponsor exemptions Michelle Wie and MacKinzie Kline and the remnants of tropical depression Barry, which dumped more than three inches of rain on the course over the weekend, Castrale grinded through her final 18 holes with three birdies and two bogeys.
Her final-round 1-under par 71 was enough to force a playoff with Ochoa, who fired a 2-over par 74 during the final round with bogies on two of the final three holes of regulation.
Castrale and Ochoa traded pars on the final hole of regulation and returned to the 18th tee for the playoff.
Ochoa pulled her drive into the hazard left of the fairway on the first playoff hole and was forced to take a drop and a one-stroke penalty. Castrale put her drive dead-center in the fairway and hit a 145-yard 7-iron to 30 feet right of the pin.
Ochoa recovered from her poor tee shot, knocking her third shot to 15 feet, but missed the par putt. Castrale two-putted for the win, which qualified her for the season-ending ADT Championship and a chance to win a $1 million winner's check.
'I always believed that I could win out here,' Castrale said. 'And like I said, it's not always the time schedule that you want it to be in. I would have liked to have won my rookie year in 2002, but I wasn't ready; I wasn't mature enough to win back then; I wasn't as good of a golfer as I am now.'
Castrale's $390,000 paycheck from the $2.6 million purse put her over the $1 million mark in career earnings since joining the Tour in 2002 ($1,031,297). She is now third on the 2007 LPGA Official Money List with $622,587 in season earnings through 10 starts. Last year was her most successful year on Tour with $375,106 in season earnings.