Koreans miss at Aussie Open

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Koreans miss at Aussie Open

Korean women golfers failed to claim victory in the LPGA season opener as Ryu So-yeon and Seo Hee-kyung tied for second place in the Women’s Australian Open yesterday. American Jessica Korda took home the title after a six woman playoff.

At the Royal Melbourne Golf Club, Ryu and Seo along with Americans Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lincicome and Korda and Paraguay’s Julieta Granada all finished the regulation 72 holes at 3-under 289 before entering the playoff round. It was the first six-woman playoff in LGPA history since the 1999 Jamie Farr Kroger Classic, which was won by Pak Se-ri.

All six players made par on the first extra hole, but the winner was decided on the second extra hole as Korda sank a 25-foot birdie. Meanwhile, Seo, Lewis, Lincicome and Granada made par, and Ryu finished with a bogey.

For the 18-year-old Korda, daughter of 1998 Australian Open tennis champion Petr Korda, it was her first LPGA Tour title since playing her 16th start as an LPGA Tour member. She took home the $165,000 prize for her victory, while the other five each received $63,784.

With the win, Korda is expected to jump from 285th place to 30th in the world rankings. She has also become the sixth-youngest winner in LPGA Tour history and the fourth-youngest to win a 72-hole event.

For Korean golf fans, it was a painful defeat as both Ryu and Seo had a chance at victory without going into the playoffs.

Ryu, who is in her first year in the LPGA, and Seo, last year’s LPGA Rookie of the Year, played in the same group and began the final round just one stroke behind Korda yesterday.

Both Koreans were trailing one shot behind Korda until par-4 on the 13th hole. But while the American rookie golfer had bogeys from the 14th to 16th holes, Ryu and Seo maintained their leading scores with pars.

Both women were tied for first on the leader board, with a one-stroke lead over the second-place group at 4-under, until the par-5 17th hole.

Coming into the par-4 18th hole, both Koreans were in position to claim the trophy if one of them had birdied. But luck was not with either golfer as both had bogeys and were forced to enter the playoff. Seo’s 1.2-meter (3.9-foot) par putt rolled out of the hole, while Ryu missed her one-meter par putt to close the final round at even-par 73.

It was an especially bitter loss for Ryu, the reigning U.S. Open champion who won the title by beating Seo in the playoffs, because it was the second time in two weeks she had finished as runner-up in the final moment.

The 21-year-old Ryu also watched victory slip out of her hands last Sunday when she lost to the Netherlands’ Christel Boeljon on the last hole of the Gold Coast RACV. Ryu had entered the final round with a three-stroke lead, but Boeljon birdied the hole and Ryu finished with par.

Meanwhile, Korean-American Jenny Shin finished a stroke out of the playoffs at 2-under 290 after finishing with 70 in the final round.

Top-ranked Yani Tseng was 1-under 291 after finishing with 74 yesterday, sharing eighth place with Katie Futcher of the United States. The Taiwanese Tseng has had a bad start in the LPGA season opener. She had a 76 in the second round when she dropped six strokes with a quadruple bogey and two bogeys. The defending LPGA Tour Player of the Year also had a triple bogey on the par-4 fourth yesterday.

The LPGA Tour will be in Asia for the next two weeks. The Honda LPGA Thailand tournament will begin on Friday, followed by the HSBC Women’s Champions tournament in Singapore.

By Joo Kyung-don [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]
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