Last Updated on Monday, 25 June 2012 09:36
Monday, 25 June 2012 09:05
WATERLOO, Ont. -- Brittany Lang's first LPGA victory came in dramatic fashion on Sunday.
The American sank a six-foot putt on the third playoff hole to beat South Korean Hee Kyung Seo by a stroke at the inaugural Manulife Financial LPGA Classic.
The 26-year-old Texan actually had a chance to win the tournament on the 18th hole, but pushed a two-foot putt to the left, setting up a four-way playoff with Seo and fellow South Koreans Inbee Park and Chella Choi, both of whom finished at 16-under par.
Choi joined the threesome, who played together in the final group, after shooting 8-under par on the day.
But Choi didn't make it out of the first playoff hole and Park, the leader since the second round, was gone after the second playoff hole when Seo and Lang birdied and she missed a four-foot putt.
Seo and Lang were 4-under on the day, while Park was 2-under.
Lang admitted that she was extremely nervous on her chance to win prior to the playoff -- she'd been a runner-up on the tour six times -- saying her hands were shaking so much she couldn't settle herself down for the putt.
"I gathered myself and it was really good experience to have that playoff go on," said Lang, who was doused with champagne on the 18th green.
"I can't believe it took me seven years to win a tournament out here. I hadn't been that good under pressure and I'm getting better. I'm so thankful it happened this week."
The pressure did seem to get to Lang at times, as she constantly analyzed putts during the playoff and still missed. But she did make the final putt when it counted, after a perfect lift out of the sand on her third shot on the final playoff hole.
"I got better with each putt, because I had to make two other putts to stay in the playoff," said Lang. "The last putt to win, I felt way better than I did in regulation."
Besides getting her first win and picking up $195,000, the six-year tour veteran also broke the Duke University hex.
She is the first of 16 Blue Devils -- a dynasty in women's collegiate golf -- that played on the LPGA tour to have a victory.
"I still can't believe that I'm the first 'Dukie' to ever win an LPGA tournament," said Lang.
"That blows my mind with all the talent that comes out of there.
I'm very thankful and very honoured."
Seo, who actually had the lead after 11 holes at 17-under par, but just couldn't put any distance between her and her playing partners, had a chance to win the first two playoff holes with critical putts inside 15 feet but couldn't get them to fall.
"I tried my best," said Seo, known as the "Supermodel of the Fairway".
"I made good shots up there but the hole was in a really tough position. I just didn't get good breaks."
Park also said she wasn't getting any breaks, but meant it more in general terms. "Today wasn't the best day for playing," she said. "I left a lot of putts out there, I think. Today was just not my day. Maybe the next time."
Choi, a surprise to be in the playoff after starting out the day at 8-under par, was pleased with her finish, despite not winning.
"Today was a very good day and my shot is really good, and my putting is really, really good," said Choi. "My best round today, my best finish today, so I'm very happy."
Choi was actually shocked that she was going into a playoff, thinking someone would break the tie in regulation, and had to be stopped from getting food to play in the playoff.
Seo, Choi and Park take home $90,231 each.
American Stacy Lewis and South Korea's So Yeon Ryu also made a great run at the leaders, both shooting 7-under par on the day and finishing in a tie for fifth at 15-under. Lewis chipped in from the sand on the 18th hole for an eagle to give her five straight finishes in the top five.
It was a big comeback for Lewis, who was 1-over after the first round. "It's all confidence just knowing that if you do have a bad day like I did the first day, knowing that you can come back and play well and still be in contention, still have a chance to win," said Lewis. "Every time you're in the top 10 or something like that, it's a good week for me."
China's Shanshan Feng and Sweden's Anna Nordqvist finished tied for seventh place at 14-under par, while South Korea's Mi Jung Hur was ninth at 13-under, and Sweden's Karin Sjodin and American Sandra Changkija were tied for 10th place at 12-under par.
Canadians finished back in the pack, with Hamilton's Alena Sharp and Maude-Aimee Leblanc of Sherbrooke, Que., tied for 50th at 2-under, while Isabelle Beisiegel of Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que., was even par for 59th place.
Toronto's Rebecca Lee-Bentham was 68th at 3-over and Charlottetown's Lorie Kane was 79th at 9-over.
More articles by Canadian Press