Jang Ha-na continues decade-long KLPGA winning streak
Jang Ha-na picked up her first win of the season at the KLPGA Lotte Open at the Bears Best Cheongna Golf Club in Incheon on Sunday.
Jang took home her first win in the eighth KLPGA tournament of the season, having finished in the top-10 in six of the seven preceding events.
Jang has now won at least one KLPGA Tour event every season for ten straight years, with a total of 14 KLPGA career wins. Sunday's victory takes her career earnings over 5 billion won ($4.5 million).
Jang faced serious competition for the Lotte Open title. Starting the final round, Jang trailed one shot behind Ryu Hae-ran, also looking for her first win of the season, with Pak Ju-young looking for her career-first victory just one shot behind Jang in third.
It was a windy day on the course, making control difficult for even the most seasoned golfers. The wind was generally blowing from the back toward the pin, making it harder for the golfers to judge shot distance.
Even a few holes from the end of the round, Ryu, Jang and Pak were still stacked in first, second and third with only two shots separating the three of them.
Jang and Ryu came out of the par-4 17th tied for first, with only the notoriously difficult par-4 18th left to play, made even more tricky as the wind had changed direction to face the golfers. Ryu and Jang’s shots both landed in bunkers while Pak hit the rough just in front of the green.
Pak’s last iron shot seemed like a miscalculation on her part as the ball landed 15.4 yards from the pin, leaving her with a long and difficult putt that led to a bogie. Pak ended up finishing tied for fourth alongside Son Ju-hee, while Choi Hye-jin stepped up to third with five-under-par.
Jang made her bunker shot first, with the ball landing right next to the pin. Ryu also put the ball on the green, but a little farther away from the hole.
Ryu’s long putt narrowly missed the hole, potentially pushing her down into second place on the final hole. All Jang had to do was make her short putt to take the title, but the seasoned pro was unable to put the ball in the hole, pushing the match into a sudden-death playoff.
Ryu and Jang headed back to the teeing ground, playing the hole in almost the exact same way and quickly finding themselves back in the bunkers. Once again, Ryu's bunker shot went farther, leaving her with a longer putt to finish the hole. Jang landed closer to the pin and this time she didn't miss, taking par while Ryu had to settle with a bogey.
This is Jang’s second sudden-death playoff this season, after losing to Park Min-ji at the Nexen Saint Nine Masters in April.
“I won, thanks to my fans who cheered me on,” said Jang. “It was a rough match because I had stomach cramps, but their cheering made me feel energetic.”
The KLPGA Tour continues with the Celltrion Queens Masters at Seo Seoul Country Club in Paju, Gyeonggi from June 11 to 14. The upcoming tournament will be played as a three-day, 54-hole event.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [firstname.lastname@example.org]