Ji rallies past Pettersen for first LPGA victory
ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Three strokes behind with six holes to play in the Wegmans LPGA, Eun-Hee Ji found a way to get around Norwegian star Suzann Pettersen.
"I thought if I chase her like this, Suzann would feel pressure," the South Korean said after shooting a 5-under 67 to beat Pettersen by two strokes at the tricky Locust Hill course with a 16-under 272 total.
A 22-year-old in her second year on the tour, Ji won her first LPGA Tour title. Her previous best was a second-place finish behind Pettersen in South Korea in October in the Kolon Championship.
1. Ji (-16)
2. Pattersen (-14)
T-3. Jang (-12)
T-3. Han (-12)
5. Kerr (-11)
"I'm like a fly in the sky," Ji said through a translator. "I cannot describe what I feel right now. Last year, Suzann beat me and today I beat Suzann, so now I have a confidence. ... If all the tournaments are like today, I could probably win more."
Pettersen's three-shot lead over Ji at the start of the final round dissolved over the first three holes. Pettersen restored her cushion on No. 12, but Ji bolted in front for the first time with a 7-foot birdie putt on No. 15, where Pettersen missed a 5-footer for par. Pettersen finished with a bogey for a 72.
"I just got outraced," said the 28-year-old Pettersen, who won five times in 2007 and has finishes of second, third and ninth this year. "There's so many good young players. They just stay in there. ... You just got to keep knocking on that door. Hopefully it will open."
Jeong Jang (69), who won in Rochester in 2006, tied for third at 12 under with fellow South Korean Hee-Won Han (69).
Cristie Kerr (69), preparing for her title defense in the U.S. Women's Open, finished fifth at 11 under, two ahead of top-ranked Lorena Ochoa (69), Christina Kim (68), Japan's Ai Miyazato (72) and South Korean Inbee Park (74).
Ochoa, a six-time winner this year, won in Rochester in 2005 and 2007. With $2 million in season earnings, she extended her lead over Annika Sorenstam (69) to more than a half-million dollars. The Swede, who finished at 2 under in a tie for 33rd, is stepping away from the tour at the end of the season.
Michelle Wie closed with a 68 to tie for 24th at 4 under.
Ji already had ties for fourth and ninth this year and earned $300,000 in the $2 million tournament to surge from 42nd to 10th on the money list with $471,413. In just four events last year, she also earned a tie for fifth at the Women's British Open. She took up golf at age 13 and won the Korea Women's Amateur Championship in 2003.
Ji opened with a 12-foot birdie putt and Pettersen bogeyed No. 2, her approach shot obstructed by a tree. Ji deftly chipped in from the back fringe on No. 3 to draw level.
Pettersen's chip to 3 feet from thick rough in front of the par-5 eighth got her two ahead again. She got back her three-stroke lead when she sank a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 11 and Ji missed from 5 feet on the next hole.
The momentum swung back when Ji made a 30-foot birdie on No. 13 and Pettersen drove into the left rough and failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker. After Ji moved into the lead at No. 15, both players birdied the par-5 17th. Ji extended her lead to two with a tap-in on the final green after Pettersen missed from 5 feet for par.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press
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