Choi falls short at the LPGA Safeway Classic

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Choi falls short at the LPGA Safeway Classic


Korea’s Choi Na-yeon reacts to hitting her ball into the water on the 18th hole during the playoff at the Safeway Classic at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains, Oregon, on Sunday. [REUTERS/YONHAP]

Choi Na-yeon failed to clinch the 100th win for Korean golfers in the LPGA as she was beaten by Norway’s Suzann Pettersen. The Norwegian overcame a nine-stroke deficit with a 7-under 64 and made par on the first hole of a playoff to win the LPGA Safeway Classic on Sunday.

Since Ku Ok-hee first marked an LPGA win at the 1988 Standard Register Turquioise Classic in Phoenix, Korean and Korean-American golfers have compiled 99 wins before this tournament. The 99th win was achieved just last month when Ryu So-yeon won the U.S. Women’s Open.

After the defeat, Choi, 24, said that although it feels bad to not win the title, she is still positive that her condition is gearing up well and there are still about 10 events left in this season.

“It feels bad that I couldn’t deliver the 100th LPGA win for Koreans,” Choi said to Yonhap News Agency on Sunday. “But since there are many events left, I believe good news will come out soon.”

Choi finished with a 73 to match Pettersen at 6 under on the Ghost Creek Course. She birdied the par-4 17th to take a one-stroke lead, but dropped a shot after leaving a chip well short on the final hole to force the playoff. In the playoff, Choi’s second shot on the par-4 18th went into the water to the right of the green, and she missed a putt for bogey before Pettersen sank her winning putt at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club.

“If I had to win, I wanted it with a birdie [on the 18th hole],” Choi said. “Perhaps my tempo was too fast, and maybe I was nervous as well.”

Choi tied for second last year, two strokes behind Japanese Ai Miyazato, who had a final round 68 to finish this weekend at 1 under.

Meanwhile, Pettersen, coming off an Aug. 7 victory in the Ladies Irish Open at Killeen Castle, won her second LPGA Tour title of the year and eighth overall. The Norwegian star jumped to No. 2 in the world rankings behind Yani Tseng.

“I didn’t really expect this when I when I woke up this morning nine strokes back,’’ Pettersen said. “I guess when you’re on a roll, you’re on a roll.’’

Pettersen, the Sybase Match Play winner in May in New Jersey, eagled the par-5 10th hole on Sunday to help propel her into the lead.

“It was like 2 inches short,’’ Pettersen joked of her eagle shot, which was nearly a double eagle. “It was as close as you can get, I guess.’’

But Pettersen’s recent success has been bittersweet. Recently she lost a dear family friend in a skydiving accident and she was still reeling from the July 22 attacks in her homeland that left 77 dead. Anders Behring Breivik has admitted to detonating a bomb that killed eight people in central Oslo and fatally shooting 69 others at an island youth camp.

“It makes you realize life’s not all about golf,’’ she said. “It makes you put things in perspective.’’

In 2009, Pettersen came close to winning at Pumpkin Ridge, but settled for second after Hur Mi-jung birdied the second hole of a playoff.

Park Hee-young, still looking for her first tour win, shot a 67 to finish third at 5 under.

Paula Creamer had a 68 to finish another stroke back. The fan favorite had one of the largest galleries of the day.

Korean-American Michelle Wie shot a 75 on Sunday to finish the tournament at 9 over, while Christina Kim shot a 78 to finish a dismal 11 over, but it was just enough to keep her in 10th spot in the points standings for the U.S. Solheim Cup team that will take on their European counterparts in late in September at Killeen Castle.

Koreans will now have to look for their 100th LPGA win at the CN Canadian Women’s Open, which starts on Thursday. Wie was last year’s champion.

By Joo Kyung-don, AP []

한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

! … LPGA 100승, 개울로 풍덩

최나연·페테르센 세이프웨이 연장
첫 홀 ‘유령의 개울’에 공 빠트려
한국여자 축제 ‘다음주에 다시’

한국(계) 여자 골퍼 통산 100승의 꿈이 물보라 속으로 사라졌다.

 최나연(24·SK텔레콤)이 22일(한국시간) 미국 오리건주 노스 플레인스의 펌프킨 리지 골프장 고스트 크리크 코스(파71)에서 끝난 LPGA 투어 세이프웨이 클래식에서 역전패했다. 한국(계) 선수들의 합작 100승도 불발됐다. 최종 3라운드를 3타 차 선두로 출발한 최나연은 2타를 잃어 6언더파가 되면서 이날 7타를 줄인 수잔 페테르센(노르웨이)과 연장을 벌여 패했다.

최나연과 페테르센은 같은 심리 코치를 두고 있다. 과거 수줍음이 많았던 안니카 소렌스탐을 여제로 탈바꿈시킨 피아 닐슨이다. LPGA 투어 진출 이후 몇 년간 2위 징크스에 시달렸던 최나연은 닐슨 코치에게 배운 뒤 우승도 하고 상금왕에도 올랐다.

 최나연은 최종 라운드 경기 전 닐슨에게 전화를 걸었다고 한다. 최나연은 “닐슨이 ‘연습라운드처럼 편하게 해라. 네가 컨트롤할 수 있는 것은 자기 자신뿐이다. 다른 선수나 우승을 통제할 수 없다’는 조언을 했다”고 말했다.

 퍼트감이 좋지 않았다. 짧은 퍼트를 자꾸 놓치면서 최나연은 전반 3타를 잃고 쫓기는 입장이 됐다. 13번 홀에서 보기를 하면서 페테르센과 공동선두가 됐다. 15번, 17번 홀 버디로 한 타 차로 도망갔으나 18번 홀 보기로 연장전에 갔다. 반면에 1오버파로 4라운드를 시작한 페테르센은 부담이 없었다. 그는 “타수 차가 9타나 돼 우승은 기대하지 않았고 잘 치면 크리스티 커를 추월해 세계랭킹 2위로 올라설 수 있다고만 생각했다”고 말했다.

 18번 홀에서 연장전을 했다. 이 홀은 431야드로 긴 데다 그린 앞에 작은 연못이 있다. 이름은 유령의 개울(ghost creek)이다. 코스 이름이기도 하다. 페테르센은 2년 전 이곳에서 허미정(22·엘로드)과 연장을 벌여 패했다. 최나연도 1라운드 더블보기를 했다.

 티잉 그라운드에서 최나연은 흔들리지 않고 페어웨이에 공을 보냈다. 페테르센은 티샷을 왼쪽으로 당겨 쳤다. 그러나 볼은 둔덕에 맞고 튀어 페어웨이로 들어왔다. 행운 덕분에 안정을 찾은 페테르센의 두 번째 샷은 핀으로 향했고 그린을 살짝 넘겨 짧은 러프에 들어갔다. 최나연은 페테르센의 샷 결과를 보고 9번 아이언으로 두 번째 샷을 날렸으나 클럽이 열려 맞으면서 오른쪽 물에 빠졌다. 유령의 개울이 100번째 우승컵을 집어삼켰다.

 박희영(24·하나금융)이 5언더파 3위를 했다. 한국(계) 선수들은 26일 캐나다 퀘벡주에서 벌어지는 CN 캐나디언 오픈에서 다시 100승을 노린다.
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