Posted by: happyfan08 | January 20, 2009

2008 Awards: Best Playoff

Seon Hwa Lee tops Karrie Webb, Ginn Tribute, to end slump

The finish at this event was one of the most exciting of the year.  This tournament looked like it was in the bag for Sophie Gustafson, who started the day with a six shot lead.  At one point, she had increased that to seven shots, but after that collapsed disastrously.


With Gustafson out, several other players rose into contention.  Na Yeon Choi moved close to the lead, but on the back nine fell back down the leaderboard.  Seon Hwa Lee and Song Hee Kim both tied Gustafson, then Karrie Webb also moved to join them.  When Webb made an unlikely up and down on the 17th hole to save par, it looked like the tournament might go her way.


Then Seon Hwa Lee made one of the greatest shots of the year for the Korean contingent.  On the 18th hole, she hit her approach to the fringe, some 40 feet from the hole.  She proceeded to drill that birdie to move into the lead.  The only player who could deny her now was Webb, and she would need a birdie to do it.  Webb hit her approach to 12 feet, then made the clutch birdie to tie Lee and force a playoff.




Seon Hwa Lee hugs Karrie Webb after winning the playoff at the Ginn Tribute

Seon Hwa Lee hugs Karrie Webb after winning the playoff at the Ginn Tribute





In the playoff, both missed the fairway.  Lee hit her shot about 40 feet from the hole, while Webb got to about 15 feet, a makeable birdie.  Lee hit a fantastic lag to a foot for an easy par, then Webb had a putt for the win, but left it about three feet short.  Amazingly, Webb missed the par save and handed the tournament to Lee.  It was this victory that finally ended the ten month long winless streak for the Korean golfers.


Honorable Mentions

Ji Yai Shin loses to Akiko Fukushima despite outplaying her, JLPGA Salonpas Cup

Ji Yai Shin played five events in Japan in 2008, winning two of them and finishing runner up in two others.  This Major on the JLPGA tour was perhaps her closest near miss.  She had already won her first JLPGA event when she took part, and was now gunning to add a tour Major to her resume.  She did not have a great start.  After two rounds, she was eight shots out of the lead, and it looked like she would not be a factor on the weekend.


But she made a huge run up the leaderboard on Saturday.  By the end of the day, Akiko Fukushima was the leader at 5 under, Chinese star Na Zhang was at 4 under, and Shin was at 3 under.  In the final round, Shin was flat out brilliant, by far the best player in the field tee to green.  She was missing a few putts here and there, but it looked like this would be her day.  The event ended up being a battle between long bomber Fukushima and the Korean superstar.


On the 17th hole, a par 5, Fukushima had the advantage but hit a terrible drive.  Shin hit the green, had a good chance for birdie, but missed it, while somehow Fukushima scrambled for bogey.  She made a tough par save on 18 to force a playoff.


They wound up playing five playoff holes. Shin hit all five greens while Fukushima hit only two. It seemed pretty much the whole playoff that it was Shin’s to win, yet somehow Fukushima would not go away. On the 4th playoff hole, Fukushima hit a tricky downhill 15 foot curling putt to save par and extend the match. But on the 5th playoff hole, Shin left her 30 foot birdie try 7 feet short, and blew her par putt by three feet. Fukushima, however, also missed par, so Shin seemingly had new life. But Shin missed the bogey save, handing the trophy to Fukushima, who later admitted she had never believed the whole day she could beat Shin until she finally did. Shin made a four putt (groan) on the final hole to give away a chance at her first Japanese tour Major.


Ji Yai Shin outlasts He Yong Choi and Sun Ju Ahn, KB Star Tour #4

See ‘Best Korean Confrontation’, Honorable Mention, for more details.


Ji Yai Shin beats So Yeon Ryu, Korean Women’s Open

Rookie star So Yeon Ryu looked primed to win this event, the first Major of the year on the KLPGA tour.  The final day’s weather was terrible, and it took nearly seven hours to complete some of the rounds.  But as the day progressed, Ryu extended her lead to four shots over Shin.  Things looked good for the teen prodigy.


Then Ryu made bogey on hole 10, while Shin birdied 11 and 12.  Ryu made another birdie on 14 to move her lead to two strokes.  It stayed that way until the seventeenth hole.  On that hole, Shin made birdie, Ryu bogied, and just like that, they were tied.  There would be a playoff.


They played the 18th hole three times, a par 5, for the title. This had not been an easy hole, judging by the scores on it this day. On the decisive third go around, Shin hit her third shot approach to 3.5 meters, while Ryu hit her tee shot into a bunker and missed the green on her third. She got her fourth onto the green, but missed the par save, and Shin two putted for the win.


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