Birdie lifts Pak to first win since '07
MOBILE, Ala. -- It was like the old days for Se Ri Pak, coming up with a clutch shot when she needed it and carrying the day when it came down to a playoff.
Pak ended a three-year victory drought with a birdie on the third hole of a playoff with Brittany Lincicome on Sunday in the rain-shortened Bell Micro LPGA Classic.
Pak, the Hall of Famer from South Korea, used a nice bunker shot to set up the putt that sealed her 25th career win and first since she won the 2007 Owens Corning Classic.
Playing the par-4 18th for the straight time in the playoff, Pak hit a fairway bunker shot from about 170 yards to 10 feet to give herself the winning birdie chance while Lincicome saved par with a long downhill putt.
"I've been here so many times, but I think I've been having a hard time the last couple of years," said Pak, 6-0 in playoffs. "I'm trying to get back the way I [was]. I'm trying to get myself to better momentum. I work really hard every single day, every single moment, every single tournament.
"I knew this day was going to come. All I could do is be patient and work hard."
The tournament was cut to 54 holes after rain washed out the fourth round.
The sodden course received about 4 inches of rain overnight and it was still drizzling throughout the playoff on No. 18.
"I asked the rules official, 'How many times has somebody ever played the same hole before?'" Lincicome said. "She was like, 'Please, let's not go there.'"
Suzann Pettersen also made the playoff, but dropped out with a bogey on the second hole and headed to the clubhouse at the Crossings Course at Magnolia Grove on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.
Pak, Lincicome and Pettersen were tied at 13-under 203 when they teed off together in the morning. An hour into their round, the leaderboard had been shuffled and the threat of lightning sent the players scurrying off the course and into the clubhouse for a 5½-hour wait.
All three wore purple ribbons on their caps honoring Erica Blasberg, a six-year LPGA Tour veteran who died a week earlier at her home in suburban Las Vegas. Police have not said whether foul play was involved, and the coroner said it could take four to six weeks to determine a cause of death.
Pak, who also wore a pink wristband with Blasberg's initials sandwiching a heart, also won the Tournament of Champions on the Crossings Course in 2001 and 2002.
Lincicome made Pak earn No. 6, though. Lincicome sank a 30-foot putt after overshooting a bunker shot to force Pak to make her own shorter putt.
"I knew the sand in the bunker was really, really fluffy so thought I would kind of go down a little bit after it," said the 24-year-old from St. Petersburg, Fla. "I tried to pick it a little bit and obviously I caught it a little bit clean. Then I hit one of the best putts I've ever hit.
"It was nice to be in that position and not miss it and make a bogey and just kind of give it to her. It felt kind of good to at least make her make that birdie."
Bell Micro LPGA Classic Leaderboard
1. Pak-x (-13)
T-2. Lincicome (-13)
T-2. Pettersen (-13)
T-4. Choi (-11)
T-4. Lee (-11)
T-4. Munoz (-11)
x-won in playoff
Lincicome held a one-stroke lead over Pettersen going into the delay after a birdie on No. 3, though it wound up not mattering. She spent much of the down time playing cards with her niece and nephew and loading up on the Southern staple sweet tea.
Several players were threatening to catch the lead group on the leaderboard when play stopped. Lee was 1-under through four holes to tie Pak for third place two strokes back. The biggest mover was Angela Stanford, who pushed to 11-under with three birdies in four holes.
Stanford won the event in 2008; it wasn't held last year while the course was renovated.
The three playoff contenders had combined for seven pars, one bogey (Lincicome) and one birdie (Pak) on 18.
All three parred the hole on the first playoff, and Pak and Lincicome did it again the next time.
Pettersen barely got her third shot onto the green on the second playoff to set up a bogey. She has two seconds and two third-place finishes in six events this season.
Pettersen made a hasty exit and did not talk to reporters. She was projected to supplant Jiyai Shin at No. 1 in the rankings with a win.
Shin, Chella Choi and Amy Yang stuck around to cheer on their fellow Korean, clutching champagne bottles in hopes of a celebration.
"I don't know if I've ever seen that before where we celebrated together," Pak said. "That really makes it special."
Shin (213) finished in a tie for 26th while three-time winner Ai Miyazato (221) was among the players at No. 49. Michelle Wie (221) was last among the 73 players who made the cut.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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