June 24, 2012
Lang wins Waterloo title
By TIM MCKAY, QMI Agency
WATERLOO, ONT. - Brittany Lang had to wait seven years for her first LPGA Tour victory, and Hee Kyung Seo prolonged the agony Sunday.
Lang, who went into the final round two shots behind 54-hole leader Inbee Park and tied with Seo, missed a short eagle putt for the victory on the 72nd hole Sunday, and instead put herself into a four-way playoff with South Koreans Park, Seo and Chella Choi.
It was her first career playoff, but Lang hung in there as they played the 18th hole in a playoff three times — her consecutive birdies dropping first Choi, then Park, then, finally Seo — to claim her breakthrough moment.
"I'm just ecstatic," Lang said. "I can't believe I finally won and to do it here was good. To do it for the inaugural event was very special."
It's a scenario the six-time runner up had played over in her mind, with one small wrinkle.
"I actually envisioned making the putt in regulation," she said. "I was just extremely nervous on the last hole to make that putt in regulation and my hands were shaking, it wasn't a good putt, but I gathered myself."
After putting her second shot into the front left green-side bunker the third time through 18, and then watching Seo do the same, Lang calmly splashed it out to about three feet, while Seo could do no better than 7 feet. After the South Korean slid her putt past, Lang made no mistake.
She turned and raised her fists in the air to the large gallery surrounding the 18th green and the popular victor was showered with champagne.
Seo was gracious and philosophical in defeat.
"It was fun and I think it was a great tournament. I tried my best but I think it was Brittany's tournament," she said.
Seo had a putt to win on the first and second playoff holes, both from above the hole, and both of the right-to-left breakers ran out of speed.
Lang had been known as one of the LPGA Tour's best players without a victory, but she bucked that tag Sunday.
"It feels amazing, I can't believe it took me seven years to win a tournament out here," she said. "I hadn't been that good under pressure but I'm getting better and I'm just so thankful it happened this week and I'll only get stronger from here."
Lang, 26, came into the tournament ranked 35th in the world had amassed 35 career top-10 finishes. Her $195,000 winner's cheque brought her career earnings to $3,454,001.50.
It also marks a victory for American golf — this week with Lang in a playoff with a trio of South Koreans, but also this season. Lang became the fourth U.S. player to post victories along with Angela Stanford, Jessica Korda and Stacy Lewis.
"I know a lot of the Koreans do win, but I don't understand that because we do have so many good American players, but even when we win they still say (there's something wrong with the American game)," she said.
Maude-Aimee Leblanc of Sherbrooke, Que., and Alena Sharp of Hamilton took top Canadian honours, finishing at 2-under and tied for 50th.
Lang admitted it's the mental side of her game that has been lacking in the past and she said after missing that first playoff putt, she was able to settle down and compose herself.
"I got better with each putt, because I had to make two other putts to stay in the playoff," she said. "I was so nervous on that first putt in regulation that I couldn't really see what I wanted to I just put it up there, but those two birdie putts I made to stay in the playoff, I was getting better at being nervous and knowing that just because I was nervous I wasn't going to miss it.
"The last putt to win, I felt much better than I did in regulation, so it was good practise."
The past seven years had been good practise for this moment.