April 2, 2012
Yoo edges Kim to win Kraft Nabisco Championship
RANCHO MIRAGE, CALIF. - South Korea’s Yoo Sun-young rolled in an 15-foot birdie putt on the first sudden-death playoff hole to beat compatriot Kim In-kyung and claim the Kraft Nabisco Championship on Sunday, her first major title.
After Kim squandered a chance to win in regulation when she missed a one-foot par putt on the final hole, Yoo went on to capture the first women’s major of the year when she birdied the same hole to start the playoff at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California.
“I’m speechless right now. I played pretty solid today,” Yoo, who matched Kim with a final round of three-under-par 69, said in an interview by the green. “I was hoping today for some luck. Looks like I got lucky. I’m very happy.”
Yoo then joined her caddie for a running jump into Poppie’s Pond for the winner’s traditional splash in the water that surrounds the 18th green.
The jubilation was in marked contrast to the stunned reaction by Kim after her tap-in par putt on the 72nd hole caught the right edge, spun around and headed back to her.
“On 18, I wanted to make the putt with the right speed, and I think I’ve done very well,” the 23-year-old Kim told reporters. “But I played straight and actually it just broke to the right, even that short putt. So it was unfortunate on 18.”
After sinking the bogey putt she covered her ears with her hands as she walked off and looked skyward in dismay before heading back to the 18th tee to start the playoff with the duo tied at nine-under-par 279 after 72 holes.
Yoo knocked her tee shot in the fairway, while a still wobbly Kim drove her ball deep into the left rough.
Kim’s third shot on the par-five settled on the edge of the green about 30 feet from the cup, while Yoo set up her winning birdie putt with a laser-like approach to became the second Korean winner of the championship after Grace Park in 2004.
After the agonizing defeat that recalled the devastating finishes of Scott Hoch at the 1989 Masters and Doug Ford at the 1970 British Open, Kim tried to look on the positive side.
“I feel good about my game. It’s getting better. It’s progressing,” she told reporters. “On the playoff hole, it’s just hard to kind of focus what’s going on right now because I was still a little bit bummed what happened on 18, honestly.”
Five-time major winner Yani Tseng of Taiwan (73), who began the day tied for the lead, narrowly failed to join the playoff after she missed a long, curling birdie putt at the 18th that grazed the right edge to finish one shot back of the leaders.
“I was very shocked she missed that, it was like a foot,” said Tseng, who watched the stunning development of Kim’s miss on the 72nd hole as she waited to hit to the green.
“I feel bad for her. I wish she could make that even though I was two shots back.”
Tied for fourth at 281 were 2011 winner Stacy Lewis (66), Koreans Amy Yang (69) and Seo Hee-kyung, and unheralded Swede Karin Sjodin (74), who was co-leader after three rounds.
Sjodin had a three-shot lead early in the round after an eagle at the second hole before five bogeys sent her tumbling, while Seo surged to a three-shot edge in the back nine before fading to the finish with four straight bogeys. (Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue/Patrick Johnston) REUTERS