When Eunjung Yi stepped up to the 17th hole tee box at Highland Meadows Golf Club Sunday, her ears told her she was deadlocked with Morgan Pressel in the final round at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic.
"People were yelling, it was a very big, loud yell," Yi said. "I knew she made the eagle."
Yi claimed the final roar of the day. The 21-year-old South Korean defeated Pressel in a sudden-death playoff to capture her first LPGA Tour win.
As soon as she struck her 10-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole, No. 18, Yi knew she had won. Pressel had just parred the hole.
"There was a lot of pressure on me, but I was tied for first, so I had already improved my golf," Yi said.
"When I hit it, I thought it was going in.
"I'm just a little too proud of myself right now."
Eunjung Yi celebrates as her birdie putt on the first playoff hole falls into the hole to win the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic. It was the first victory on the LPGA Tour for the 21-year-old.
Yi staved off Pressel, who eagled No. 17 to erase a four-strokedeficit in the final three holes. Pressel finished second at the Farr Classic for the second time in three years.
Pressel, also 21 years old from Florida, had two birdie chances to win or tie on No. 18. Her 20-foot putt in regulation stopped two inches short, and her 20-foot putt from the fringe in the playoff rolled left a few inches.
"I actually thought I made the putt - both putts, both times on 18," Pressel said. "I had opportunities."
Yi's win earned her a $210,000 check and a berth in the U.S. Women's Open later this week in Bethlehem, Pa. Minutes after making the putt she called her dad in Murrieta, Calif., to tell him and her mother to pack their bags for the major championship. He had been watching on ESPN2 from the Korean restaurant he owns in a nearby town.
"I'm very excited," said Yi, in her second year on tour. "I just focused on my golf today."
Michelle Wie shot a 64, her best of her professional career, to tie for third place with Seon Hwa Lee and Song-Hee Kim at 16-under.
Yi entered yesterday with a four-shot lead after shooting a career-best 61 in the third round. She started off on fire, nearly birdieing the first hole and then sealing the deal on holes 2 and 3 to move to 20-under par. At one point, she had a six-stroke lead and was playing error-free.
"I didn't see the scoreboard, just hit driver, then second shot," Yi said. "I was focusing on every shot."
Pressel played quite solidly herself. She had a streak of 43 straight holes in the tournament without a bogey. That streak ended with bogeys on holes 13 and 14, and she seemed to fall out of contention. But Pressel had one rally left.
Pressel birdied 16, then stepped to the par-4 17th hole. Her second shot from 70 yards away dropped into the hole, and she grabbed a share of the lead with one hole left to play.
"It's still hard to believe it went in," Pressel said. "Sometimes you get lucky."
Beginning on No. 9 with a bogey, Yi seemed to slightly falter. She bogeyed 16 to fall back to even par for the day. Minutes later came Pressel's eagle.
The previous tournament Yi won also involved a playoff - the 2005 U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship. So there was no faltering on Yi's clinching putt.
"I was very nervous on the last hole, so I just lined up the ball to the right side of the cup," Yi said. "I just hit the ball, and it went in the cup."
Contact Maureen Fulton at:
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