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Pettersen Birdies Third Playoff Hole for South Korean Title
Despite entering the final round of the HanaBank Championship with a seemingly safe five-stroke lead over the field, Suzann Pettersen made things interesting in the $1.8 million LPGA Tour event at Sky 72 Golf Club's Ocean Course in Incheon, South Korea.
The 31-year-old Norwegian closed with a 2-over 74 - 11 strokes more than the course record-setting 63 she shot the first round - to tie Scotland's Catriona Matthew in regulation at 11-under 205. The duo played the par-5 18th three times in a sudden-death playoff, with both carding pars the first two trips.
But on the third time, Pettersen made a five-foot birdie putt to forget about blowing the big lead and secure her ninth LPGA victory and first since the 2011 Safeway Classic. Pettersen, who also won the HanaBank tournament in 2007, earned $270,000.
"I felt like I had it all in my hand both the first time around, second time around, and the third around," she said of the extra holes. "The third time around I just made a solid stroke, and it dropped."
Defending champion Yani Tseng closed with a 69 to finish a stroke out of the playoff at 10-under 206, while another shot back was South Korean Se Ri Pak (70). Lexi Thompson (70) and Germany's Sandra Gal (71) ended up in a tie for fifth at 208.
Pettersen wasn't sure what happened in the final round. After starting Sunday with two pars, she doubled the par-3 third but birdied the next. After another bogey on the par-3 eighth, she made the turn in 2-over 38. Two birdies and another double-bogey - also on a par-3 (the 12th) - brought her home in 36. On Sunday she played Sky 72's four par-3s in 5-over par.
"My game felt great and I had a great warm-up this morning, but did not get off to a good start," she told reporters. "I made a few birdies on the back nine, but overall I felt like I played pretty good. But it was just not a scoring day. I tried not to look what was going on around me as that can stress you out."
The 43-year-old Matthew, a native of Edinburgh, had a chance to win the tournament in regulation after posting six birdies through 14 holes. But a bogey on the par-4 16th - followed by two straight pars - brought her into a tie with Pettersen to force the playoff.
For complete scoring, visit http://www.lpgascoring.com/public/Leaderboard.aspx.