Suzann Pettersen takes ninth title
INCHEON, South Korea -- Suzann Pettersen won the HanaBank Championship on Sunday for her ninth LPGA Tour title, beating Catriona Matthew with a 5-foot birdie putt on the third hole of playoff after blowing a big lead.
Seven strokes ahead of Matthew at the start of the round, Pettersen shot a 2-over 74 to finish at 11-under 205 on Sky 72 Golf Club's Ocean Course. The 43-year-old Matthew finished with a 67.
They played the par-5 18th three times in the playoff, halving the first two extra holes with pars.
LPGA HanaBank Leaderboard
1. Pettersen* (-11)
2. Matthew (-11)
3. Tseng (-10)
4. Pak (-9)
T-5 .Thompson (-8)
T-5. Gal (-8)
* -- won on third playoff hole • Complete scores
"I felt like I had it all in my hand both the first time around, second time around, and the third around," said Pettersen the Norwegian who also won the 2007 event. " 'It's getting closer. I'm getting closer to the hole.' ... And the third time around I just made a solid stroke, and it dropped."
Pettersen took a five-stroke lead over South Korea's So Yeon Ryu into the final round after opening with a course-record 63 and shooting a 68 on Saturday.
Matthew, from Scotland, had a two-stroke lead after Pettersen's double bogey on the par-3 12th. Pettersen rallied with a birdie on the par-4 14th and Matthew dropped a stroke on the par-4 16th to leave them tied at 11 under.
"My game felt great and I had a great warm-up this morning, but did not get off to a good start," Pettersen said. "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."
She also had a double bogey on the par-3 third and bogeyed the par-3 eighth.
"After I bogeyed eight, I looked at my caddie, I said, 'If I am going to bogey, I might as well just fire right at the pin. There's no point playing safe,' " Pettersen said. "He said, `Why don't you just play as aggressive as you have all week. What are you trying to do?' So I might have gone out trying to be a little bit protective, which obviously does not fit my game at all."
She earned $270,000 to move into ninth place on the career list with $9,035,662, passing Beth Daniel and Laura Davies.
"As a girl growing up, I never thought I'd be in that league," Pettersen said. "It is quite touching that I have achieved that much. I am only 31 and my big goal is the Olympics in four years. It is good to get a head start in Korea. It is always good to get in the winner's circle."
Defending champion Yani Tseng was third at 10 under after a 69. The top-ranked Taiwanese player won three of the first five events of the season.
Se Ri Pak was the top South Korean player in the country's lone LPGA Tour event, closing with a 70 finish fourth at 9 under. American teenager Lexi Thompson and Germany's Sandra Gal followed at 8 under. Thompson shot a 70, and Gal had a 71. Ryu shot a 73 to tie for seventh at 7 under.
South Korea's Mi Hyun Kim shot a 78 to tie for 61st at 8 over in the final round of her career. The eight-time tour winner announced her retirement this month and received a sponsor exemption into the field.
"Even until the last putt dropped, it didn't really hit me that this was my last round," Kim said. "But after turning in my last scorecard and seeing the other players coming up to me and crying with me and for me and just seeing all you guys in the press conference, it is hitting me now."
Michelle Wie closed with a 70 to tie for 30th at even par. Cheyenne Woods shot a 75 to finish 60th in the 68-player field at 7 over. Woods is Tiger Woods' niece.
The tour will remain in Asia the next two weeks. The LPGA Taiwan Championship is next week, followed by the Mizuno Classic in Japan.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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