Weihai, China: Park Bo-mi held her nerve to beat fellow Korean Lee Ji-hoo at the first hole of a sudden-death play-off and secure her maiden win at the Kumho Tire Ladies Open.
Lee had closed with a 69 to finish on six-under 210 at the China LPGA Tour-LPGA Tour of Korea co-sanctioned event in Shandong Province.
Park, playing behind Lee in the final group at Weihai Point, drained a 12-foot uphill putt on the last hole of regulation for a 70 to force the play-off.
In extra time, Lee’s approach found a bunker at the back of the 18th green while Park was safely on the putting surface, her ball 20 feet to the right of the flag.
Lee then flew her bunker shot 25 feet past the hole and missed her putt for a bogey five. With two putts to win, Park was too aggressive as her ball rolled six feet past the hole.
But she showed nerves of steel to hole out with her next effort to earn 100 million Korean won (about US$86,623) and two first-class round-trip tickets on Asiana Airlines.
“I knew that I needed to force the play-off so I gave my 100 per cent effort on that putt. I was very nervous because this was my first play-off. But I’ve known Lee since we were junior players. We’ve played together many times so it helped. Moreover, my father was my caddie and he did a great job to calm me down,” said the 23-year-old who turned pro in 2012.
“This is my first win. My next goal is a second win before the end of the season.”
Lee could not hide her disappointment. The 23-year-old had a chance to win in regulation but missed a 10-foot putt on the last for birdie.
“I was very confident that I could win, but this golf course is really tough. I made a miscue in the play-off. I wanted to avoid the bunker but the shot went in that direction. But I am grown up and will take this,” she said.
Korean Ahn Song-yi finished one stroke back in third after a final round 69. World number six Feng Shanshan of China, the tournament leader through 36 holes, closed with a 73 to finish equal fourth two shots back with Korean Lee So-lar (71), a China LPGA Tour member.
“I wanted to win this trophy, but didn’t make it. I struggled with my swing early in the round and then some putts refused to sink. But I did give my best effort to every shot,” said Feng who will play in next week’s US Women’s Open in New Jersey. “Don’t worry, I will return to this tournament and attempt to win it next year.”
The shot of the day was executed by Lee Hyo-rin. Using a pitching wedge, the Korean aced the 125-yard 17th hole. She won a business class return ticket on Asiana Airlines.
Weihai Point Golf Resort is a 6,146-yard, par-72 layout designed by Golfplan, a Full Business Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation.