Pak wins on fourth playoff hole for second 2003 title
STOCKBRIDGE, Ga. -- Through the sand, off the scoring tent, out of the prickly rough. The pressure was on, and Se Ri Pak was scrambling all over the course.
Ah, just the way she likes it.
Pak came through with another clutch performance Sunday, pulling off some amazing shots to beat Shani Waugh on the fourth playoff hole at the Chick-fil-A Charity Championship.
''I was impressed with myself, too,'' Pak said. ''Whatever I need to hit, wherever I need to land it, everything was perfect.''
The South Korean won with an 18-foot par putt after Waugh, trying to win for the first time in her career, yanked a tee shot into the lake that runs along the 10th fairway at Eagles Landing Country Club south of Atlanta.
Pak, who began the day three strokes off the lead, won for the ninth time coming from behind. She also improved her playoff record to 4-0.
''I really like the challenge,'' Pak said. ''A lot of pressure makes me play much better. I don't know the reason, but I enjoy it.''
Pak was virtually flawless in regulation, shooting an 8-under-par 64 that included plenty of short birdie putts. In the playoff, which alternated between the 18th and 10th holes, things got a little hairy.
Pak drove into a bunker with her first shot, but still managed to make birdie on the par-5 layout. The next time through 18, she banged her approach off the scoring tent about 20 yards left of the flag, but followed with a brilliant pitch to 10 feet for another birdie.
Moving to 10, Waugh drove into the water, which seemed to make things easy for Pak. But she pulled her second shot over the green, the ball nearly disappearing in the thick rough.
Without much green to work with, she punched the delicate chip past the cup, then made the putt coming back to end the longest LPGA playoff in four years.
''Those were some amazing up-and-downs,'' Pak said.
After taking a drop, Waugh was in position to make bogey. But the Australian never got a chance to putt.
''For a split second, I said, 'Here's my chance,''' Waugh said. ''But she putted incredible. I was not surprised at all when she made that putt.''
Don't forget the final hole of regulation, either. Pak flubbed a chip coming out of the rough behind the green, then rolled in a 15-foot birdie to force the playoff.
''Really, putting saved my day,'' said Pak, who earned her second victory of the year and 20th of her career.
Waugh, whose best career finish had been third at the U.S. Women's Open last year, didn't fold. She nearly matched Pak over 18 holes with a 65, leaving both players at 16-under 200 in the three-round event.
Thirteen-year-old Michelle Wie, making the cut in her second straight LPGA event, sank a 30-foot birdie putt at her final hole to finish with a 71. Two straight rounds below par gave the eighth-grader a 3-under 213 overall.
''This morning I was so tired, I couldn't get out of bed,'' Wie said. ''I struggled a bit, but that's OK.''
Waugh birdied the last three holes of regulation to reach the playoff, the longest since Sherri Steinhauer needed five holes to beat Lorie Kane at the 1999 Japan Airlines Big Apple Classic.
''I've been playing so well this week, so I said to myself, 'Don't spend your life in the LPGA being happy to finish in the top 10,''' Waugh said. ''I really, really wanted it.''
It wasn't to be. Pak became the first two-time winner on the tour this year, following a victory at Phoenix last month. She also moved to the top of the money list with the $202,500 first prize, passing Annika Sorenstam.
The Swedish star took the week off in preparation for her historic appearance against the men at the Colonial next month. Pak has won $511,618 this year -- $10,743 more than Sorenstam, albeit while playing in two more events.
Pak began the day trailing second-round leader Karrie Webb by three strokes, but quickly surged into contention with birdies on her first three holes.
The 33-year-old Waugh played in the final group with two of the biggest names in women's golf, Pak and Webb. But it was the lesser-known Aussie who stood up best to the Sunday pressure.
Webb, a six-time major champion, three-putted from 8 feet on the first hole -- her first bogey of the tournament -- and faded away for good after bogeying the first two holes after the turn.
She stormed by reporters without stopping to talk after a round of 74. Meanwhile, her two partners headed back up 18 to begin the playoff.
Norway's Suzann Pettersen, who started the day four shots behind Webb, birdied seven of the first eight holes to briefly take a two-stroke lead. She missed a 6-footer at No. 6 to break the streak.
Pettersen made the turn with a 29, but couldn't keep it going. She was 2-over on the back to finish at 67 and a three-round total of 204 -- four strokes behind Pak and Waugh.
''I'm a bit disappointed,'' Pettersen said. ''But I'm very happy and very relieved that I finally performed as well as I think I can play.''
This was the third playoff in the 12-year history of the Chick-fil-A, but the first that lasted more that two holes. ... First-round leader Sophie Gustafson wound up tied for fifth after shooting 66. The Swede opened with the same score, but ruined her chances of winning with a 74 Saturday.
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press
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