Munoz Wins Match Play Championship


On a controversial day in New Jersey, Spain's Azahara Munoz edged Candie Kung to win the Sybase Match Play Championship. The $1.5 million tournament started Thursday with 64 players at Hamilton Farm Golf Club in Gladstone.

In Sunday morning's semifinal, Munoz was waging a tight battle with Morgan Pressel. After winning the 12th hole to go 3-up, Pressel received a slow-play penalty, resulting in the loss of the hole. The 23-year-old Florida native was notified of the ruling on the 13th tee by LPGA official and match timer Doug Brecht, which changed the score of the match from 3-up to 1-up.

Pressel was told she had violated the tour's pace of play rule by taking 2:09 - 39 seconds over the allowable 90 seconds - to play her three shots at the par-3 12th. The two players had been warned earlier about slow play after the ninth hole.

Though Pressel appealed the ruling to referee Marty Robinson before her tee shot on No. 13, the penalty was not changed.

Munoz evened the match on the 15th with a birdie. But Pressel contended the Spaniard had touched the line before putting. Officials reviewed a videotape of the Munoz putt on 15, but said they couldn't find evidence of a violation.

Pressel lost the match 2 & 1 with bogeys on the next two holes, sending Munoz into the championship match against Kung, who had beaten Vicky Hurst 2 & 1 in the other morning semifinal.

In her consolation match against Hurst, Pressel beat her fellow American 2 & 1. "It was a crazy day, I'm glad it's over," Pressel said at greenside after edging Hurst. Pressel had earlier refused comment to an on-course television reporter after the semifinal match. An Associated Press photographer heard Pressel tell the reporter, "Not a chance," when he asked for an interview.

The 24-year-old Munoz was in tears while being interviewed following her match with Pressel, a friend. "It's an unfortunate situation," said Heather Daly-Donofrio, the senior vice president of tour operations, in a statement. "This is one of those days where it is very tough to be an LPGA official. It's not an easy thing to deliver a pace-of-play penalty to a player in a situation like this."

Munoz, who won the 2008 NCAA title while attending Arizona State, calmed down for the championship finale with Kung. After ending the front nine all-square, Munoz won the 11th and 12th hole. After halving the 13th, the 49th-seeded Kung, a 30-year-old from Taiwan who now lives in Texas, won the 14th with a par. Following a halve on the 15th, Munoz won the par-3 16th with a bogey and closed out the match when both players carded pars on the 17th.

The victory for Munoz - her first on the LPGA Tour - was worth $375,000, one of the biggest paydays in women's golf.

For complete details for the matches, visit http://www.lpgascoring.com/public/MatchLeaderboard.aspx?TournamentID=27863&RoundID=6.


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