Posted by: happyfan08 | January 18, 2009

2008 Awards: Best One on One Battle

Ji Yai Shin loses to Karrie Webb, Aussie Open, then gets revenge at the ADT

Who would have thought that one of the most compelling rivalries of the year would develop between a 19-20 year old rising Korean star and an Australian Hall of Famer?  But these two would run into each other twice in 2008 with a tournament on the line, each player capturing one win.  With Shin now on the LPGA tour full time, 2009 could turn out to be very interesting should they meet again!


By the time Ji Yai Shin arrived in Australia in January to play the Australian Ladies Open, she was already the highest ranked women’s golfer in the world not playing on the LPGA tour.  Karrie Webb, meanwhile, was not playing at the same level as she had when she became the youngest person to qualify for the Hall of Fame, but she nonetheless always played the Australian events well.  In fact, she was a three time winner of the Open, and was looking to add another title at this event to her resume.


After two rounds, the surprise leader was amateur Kristie Smith, but Ji Yai Shin was only two shots back, and KLPGA star and LPGA rookie –to-be Hee Young Park was also in the running.  After round three, however, it was Australian Lindsey Wright who had moved into the lead at 3 under.  Karrie Webb and Shin were tied one shot back.


In the final round, the tournament turned into a battle between Webb and Shin.  Shin played great on the front nine, but was still a shot behind Webb at the turn.  On the back, however, Shin kept turning up the heat, making birdies on 10, 12, 13 and 15 to zoom to 8 under and a two shot lead.  Webb was shocked to discover, when she reached the 15th hole, that instead of being in the lead, she was two shots down.


Shin’s final round 67 was the low round of the entire week, and she had every reason to believe it would be enough to win the trophy.  Webb had had trouble on the 18th hole all week, so Shin certainly had a big advantage over her.  But Webb would not give up: she birdied 16 and 17, then parred 18 to force a playoff.


The two players parred the first playoff hole.  On the second try, Webb made the decisive birdie putt to win the title.  She would later call it one of her greatest ever wins, a tribute to Ji Yai for the brilliance with which she had contested the trophy.


Having battled it out in one of the first events of 2008, the two combatants would meet again in one of the last events of the year, the LPGA’s ADT Tour Championship.  With one million dollars on the line, the tournament came down to Shin and Webb.  Shin had a three shot lead over Webb with four holes to go, but on the 15th hole, she muffed a bunker shot and made bogey, while Webb nearly dunked an eagle chip and made a tap in birdie.  Just like that, only one shot separated the two.  And the three hardest holes on the course still awaited them.  How would Shin hold up?  Brilliantly.  She played those final three holes in one under par, and held off Webb for a one shot win.  The million dollar jackpot was hers.  Afterwards, Webb had nothing but praise for Shin, saying that she was the Korean most likely to carry on in the footsteps of Se Ri Pak.  Speaking of the Australian Open win, she added, “I’m just glad I got one before she got going.” Musing about the missed opportunity to win the biggest prize in women’s golf, she said, “I just wish I could’ve swapped this one and the Australian Open now.”


Ji Yai Shin clutches the million dollars she won at the ADT

Ji Yai Shin clutches the million dollars she won at the ADT

Honorable Mentions:

Eun Hee Ji trumps Suzann Pettersen, Wegman’s

Suzann Pettersen won five LPGA events in 2007, and looked likely to become the next golfer to challenge Lorena Ochoa as the world’s best.  But in 2008, she had not won an event in the first half of the year.  At the Wegman’s LPGA tournament in Rochester, New York, she entered the final round with a three shot lead over Eun Hee Ji, who had yet to win an event on tour.  At last year’s Kolon Hana Bank Championship, the only LPGA event played in Korea, Pettersen became the first non-Korean to win that event, with Ji finishing second. 


Ji quickly caught Pettersen on Sunday, but Pettersen reclaimed a three shot lead as the day progressed.  Ji made a clutch birdie on 13 and Pettersen a bogey to cut the lead to one.  Two holes later, there was another two shot swing and Eun Hee took the lead.  After Pettersen made a birdie on the 17th, Ji made a clutch putt to maintain her lead, then two putted for the win.  Amazingly for a player who had never been in the position to win on the LPGA before, it was Ji, not Pettersen, who came through repeatedly in the clutch to grab the win.


Seon Hwa Lee beats Karrie Webb, Ginn Tribute

See ‘Best Playoff’ for more details!


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