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American Teen Wins in Australia
On Sunday Jessica Korda duplicated her father's feat when he won the 1998 Australian Open title in Melbourne. But Petr Korda's victory came in tennis, while his 18-year-old daughter's came in golf at the Women's Australian Open.
The teenager closed with a 1-over 74 at a tough Royal Melbourne to tie five other players in regulation at 3-under 289, then won the tournament with a 25-foot birdie putt on the second sudden-death playoff hole to secure the first victory of her professional career.
"It is a really special place for my family," said Korda of Melbourne. "For my first win, I honestly could not have thought of a better place."
Also qualifying for the largest playoff in LPGA history were Americans Stacy Lewis and Brittany Lincicome, Paraguay's Julieta Granada, and South Koreans So Yeon Ryu and Hee Kyung Seo. Lewis, Lincicome and Granada got a spot in the overtime session after closing 71s, while Ryu and Seo each had even-par 73s.
Starting the final round with a one-stroke lead, Korda carded three birdies through eight holes but double-bogeyed the par-4 ninth at the famed links course. After a bogey and a birdie on the first two holes of the inward half, she marked two straight pars before reeling off three bogeys in a row. But a birdie on the par-5 17th and par on the last secured her a spot in the playoff.
Playing in two threesomes in the extra session, all six players got pars on the 18th, with Lincicome just missing a 6-foot birdie attempt that would have gotten her the win. "I couldn't have hit it any better," Lincicome said. "It was perfect, perfect speed. ... Lips out and comes back to you."
On the second playoff hole after Korda sank her birdie attempt, Lincicome almost forced another hole but narrowly missed a 15-foot birdie try. "Same thing on the second putt, hit it exactly where I wanted to hit it and it just didn't break," Lincicome said.
Playing in only her 16th LPGA start, Korda did something unusual after her three consecutive bogeys on the back nine. She ran to the 17th tee. "I was kind of upset," she told reporters later. "I needed to let off some steam. The way I throw off steam is I go for a run. It calmed me down. I was running around the parking lot this morning, too. I was doing circles around the cars.
"I thought, 'Come on, you can still get it back.' . . . I was walking down the fairway like an absolute goof."
During the trophy presentation, Korda mimicked her father's trademark scissor-kick celebration. She had reason to be elated. In addition to receiving a historic silver cup, she earned $165,000 and became the sixth youngest winner in LPGA Tour history.
Projected to jump from 285th to 30th in the world ranking, Korda became the sixth youngest winner in LPGA Tour history and the fourth youngest to win a 72-hole event.
"All the times I was down last year, it is all worth it," Korda said. "It made me grow up. It made me realize that you've got to change your life to live out here and this is proof. I know that all the hard hours I put in and will keep putting in are really worth it. Every moment."
For all the scores, visit http://www.lpgascoring.com/public/leaderboard.aspx?TournamentID=27853.
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