In an exciting final round 2009 Rookie M.J. Hur outlasted Suzann Pettersen and Michele Redman in a two-hole playoff to claim her first tour victory. Down the stretch it was a question of who wanted to win as a series of errant shots, missed putts, and opportunities turned a would be blowout into one of the most exciting finishes so far in 2009.
When Suzann Pettersen reached the 13th she was in the lead by 3 at -15, with M.J. Hur & Michele Redman leading the charge at -12. M.J. Hur, playing a couple groups ahead of Pettersen and Redman hit her approach close on 14, and sunk the ensuing birdie putt to get within two of Suzann. M.J. continued her stealth iron play and hit another close shot at 15. In the meantime on the 14th, Suzann was on the green after her tee shot to the par 3, but was too agressive with her birdie putt and ran it by. In the short 3 footer coming back, Suzann missed it. Unbeknownst to Hur who now had a putt to tie Suzann. She did not make a solid putt and remained one back of Suzann.
Pettersen on the 15th hole, a par 5, laid up into a decent position after two shots. With a wedge in hand Suzann did the unthinkable, she badly flew the green actually going over the t.v. tower. After dropping to get eye line relief, Suzann hit her pitch short of the green. From there she hit a poor chip, and was finally on the green in 5. Unable to convert her putt for bogey Suzann had to settle for double. Dropping her a stroke behind M.J. Hur.
Meanwhile Hur had another birdie chance at the 16th, of similiar length as the one she had on 15. Hur, perhaps feeling rookie nerves of being in contention, again missed the putt. She would settle for pars at the driveable par-4 17th, and the tough as nails 18th, and posted the -13 number.
Suzann and Michele went to the 220 yard par-4 17th, and both missed the green with their tee shots. Michele, up first, missed hers badly to the left and had a buried lie in the primary rough. Suzann also missed left, but was a bit better, and had a clean lie in the bunker. Michele’s shot was a doozy, buried lie, green running away toward the creek. We had just seen Christina Kim’s pitch run past the hole, off the green, and nearly in the hazard. Michele showing her wily veteran skills, played a perfect delicate pitch that played off the ridge behind the pin, rolling just a few feet away. Suzann hit another good shot, a bit outside of Michele’s setting up two birdie putts for a share of the lead. They both sank to tie M.J. Hur at -13.
Quietly the final group on the course had two players at -11 when they got to the tee at the birdieable 17th. Ai Miyazato and Seon Hwa Lee both had birdie putts on the 17th hole. Ai made hers, Seon Hwa did not. Ai could seemingly birdie the 18th and get into the playoff.
That was if, Redman and Pettersen did not birdie the final hole. The 18th was playing very difficult on this day, and had only 2 birdies and that point in the day. Redman, after a picture perfect drive, hit hers short of a ridge, but directly on line to the pin. Suzann had the opposite fate, she pushed her driver far right, and it bounced off the rocks in the hazard, and landed in the rough. She layed up from there, and hit her third shot to 10-15 feet of the pin. Redman, didn’t quite hit her putt hard enough, but left an easy tap in to ensure there was a playoff. Pettersen had a test par putt, and found the nerve to sink it to make it at least a 3-way playoff.
Miyazato, needing birdie to get into the playoff, hit her tee shot wayward right, and it landed in the primary rough. She missed the green on her approach, made an aggressive pitch, then two-putted finishing at -11 and tied 4th with Seon Hwa Lee and Michelle Wie.
Pettersen had a 2-0 record in playoffs, M.J. Hur was playing in her first LPGA playoff, and Redman had not been in a playoff in 20 years I beleive. Who would settle their nerves?
All three of them had picture perfect drives all in line with eachother. Redman’s approach landed in a very similiar place to her shot in regulation, if not a few feet further away and to the left. Hur was long and to the left and in the rough. Suzann played a beautiful approach and had a 8-12 footed for birdie. Suzann’s was the only shot that looked makeable. Hur left her chip about 5 feet short, and after wrestling with those type of putts down the stretch, definitley left herself some work. Redman putted to 2 feet, marked, and it set the stage for Pettersen.
Suzann must have been the favorite to win out of these three, winning 5 times in 2007, and never losing in a playoff. Here she had a ten footer to claim the sweet feeling of victory. She missed to the left. Hur steadied herself and sank her 6-footer, but Redman missed her two footer. A sad end to a player who really fought hard this weekend, you never want to miss a chance to win like this.
Pettersen & Hur went to the 17th and hoped to get on the green and one. Hur again was short and to the left, but left a doable pitch shot to get a birdie. Pettersen hit one of the worst shots I’ve ever seen her hit, and she was short and to the right, luckily not rolling into the creek that was short of the hole. Her shot was that poorly hit that it was short of the hazard.
Hur pitched to 6 feet, leaving an uphill birdie putt. Pettersen’s approach nearly bounced into the cup, but rolled 20 feet past. Pettersen gave it a good aggressive go for birdie, but it wasn’t good enough. Hur with the tournament in her hands, finally sank a short birdie putt giving her her first career win.
She is the third rookie to win on tour this year after Jiyai Shin & Anna Nordqvist, and made only her 7th cut this year. We’ll see if Hur can continue an ascension upward on the LPGA, or if she’ll fall into Eunjung Yi land.
Christina Kim got up to -12 at one point, but struggled down the stretch. Seon Hwa Lee never got it going today, and even though finished at T-4, was not really a factor. Neither was Anna Nordqvist.
Russy Gulyanamitta had a surprise top 20 finishing T-12 at -7. Her compatriot Poranong Phatlum, had a hole in one, but struggled mightily dropping all the way down to 60th after a 78. Jeong Jang joined Gulyanamitta at T-12, and Jennifer Rosales notched a top 20 finishing at -6 and T-17.
It was adorable watching Haeji Kang try to spray M.J. Hur with champagne after the finish. After not being able to get the spray action she wanted, and Hur fleeing for safety in the gallery, Kang settled for dumping the champagne all over her. Hur teared up hugging her parents, and spoke solid English in a post tournament interview.