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Sunday, May 23, 2010
Yoo wins Sybase Match Play title

Associated Press

GLADSTONE, N.J. -- Sun Young Yoo arrived at stately Hamilton Farm with modest expectations. She left with a breakthrough victory.

The 23-year-old South Korean player won the Sybase Match Play Championship on Sunday for her first LPGA Tour title, beating Angela Stanford 3 and 1 after dispatching top-seeded Jiyai Shin in the morning semifinals.

"My goal was to get past the first two days," Yoo said. "I did a lot better."

Sun Young Yoo
Sun Young Yoo, right, became the LPGA Tour's eighth straight foreign winner with Sunday's match play victory.

And she did it from the toughest quarter of the 64-player draw, beating No. 32 Karen Stupples, No. 5 Cristie Kerr, No. 12 Song-Hee Kim and No. 4 Yani Tseng before finishing off Shin 2 and 1 and No. 10 Stanford.

"It was tough," said Yoo, seeded 28th. "I tried to be a little more aggressive out there because it's match play. I think it worked out pretty good."

Yoo also became the LPGA Tour's eighth straight foreign winner and 25th in the last 26 events. Michelle Wie -- in the Lorena Ochoa Invitational in November -- is the lone U.S. champion since Kerr won the Michelob Ultra Open a little over a year ago.

Stanford bristled a bit when she was asked about the U.S. victory drought.

"I don't make anything of it. I think you guys [the media] make a lot out of it," Stanford said. "We're a global tour and I wasn't trying any less out there. ... If anything, I was trying harder because I know that it just keeps coming up."

Patiently working her way around the hilly course on a cloudy, muggy afternoon, Yoo won the 13th and 14th holes with pars to take a 1-up lead.

She doubled the advantage on the par-3 16th with her first birdie of the match, holing a 15-footer after Stanford missed her 20-foot birdie try.

The match ended on the par-4 17th when Stanford missed her birdie putt and conceded Yoo's birdie. Yoo leaped into caddie Kurt Kowaluk's arms in celebration and got a water shower from fellow South Koreans Shin and Amy Yang.

"I felt really comfortable out there," Yoo said. "I wasn't nervous."

Yoo won the par-3 third with a par, then halved the next seven holes, with the players splitting the par-4 ninth with bogeys.

Stanford took a 1-up lead with birdies on Nos. 11 and 12 -- her only birdies of the match -- before handing Yoo the par-4 13th with a bogey.

Stanford's approach from 138 yards rolled off the green into thick, wet rough. She took a drop because of standing water, then watched her third shot roll back into the same area. After another drop, she hit to 4 feet to set up a bogey, and Yoo two-putted for par to square the match.

"It was really mushy down there, but I shouldn't have been down there in the first place," Stanford said. "I tried to hit an easy 9-iron. It got up in the air and started to float and I said, 'Oh, boy!'"

Yoo took the lead on the par-4 14th with another two-putt par after Stanford failed to get up and down for par from a deep greenside bunker.

Yoo then made the 15-foot birdie putt on 16 to make it 2-up. Stanford got a bad break on the hole when her tee shot hit the flagstick and ended up 20 feet away.

"She's a solid putter and, obviously, a solid player," said Stanford, a four-time winner on the LPGA Tour. "If you don't put any pressure on her, she's going to make everything -- and I didn't put an ounce of pressure on her."

Stanford advanced to the final with a 19-hole victory over Yang.

Shin rebounded from her morning loss to beat Yang 3 and 2 in the third-place match.

"Sun Young was great," Shin said.

Divots

In September in the Northwest Arkansas Championship, Yoo and Stanford lost to Shin in a playoff. ... Yoo earned $374,000, while Stanford made $225,000, Shin $150,000 and Yang $112,000.