Kraft Nabisco: Play-off joy for Young Yoo as I.K. Kim suffers late despair

SOUTH Korea’s Yoo Sun-young rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt on the first sudden-death play-off hole to beat compatriot Kim In-kyung and claim the Kraft Nabisco Championship on Sunday, her first major title.

After Kim squandered a chance to win outright when she missed a one-foot par putt on the final hole, Yoo went on to capture the first women’s major of the year when she birdied the same hole to start the play-off at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California.

“I’m speechless right now. I played pretty solid,” said Yoo, who matched Kim with a final round of three-under-par 69. “I was hoping for some luck. Looks like I got lucky. I’m very happy.”

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Yoo then joined her caddie for a running jump into Poppie’s Pond for the winner’s traditional splash in the water that surrounds the 18th green. The jubilation was in marked contrast to the stunned reaction by Kim after her tap-in par putt on the 72nd hole caught the right edge, spun around and headed back to her.

“On 18, I wanted to make the putt with the right speed, and I think I’ve done very well,” said the 23-year-old Kim. “But I played straight and actually it just broke to the right, even that short putt. So it was unfortunate on 18.”

After sinking the bogey putt she covered her ears with her hands as she walked off and looked skyward in dismay before heading back to the 18th tee to start the play-off with the duo tied at nine-under-par 279 after 72 holes. Yoo knocked her tee shot in the fairway, while a still wobbly Kim drove her ball deep into the left rough.

Kim’s third shot on the par-five settled on the edge of the green about 30 feet from the cup, while Yoo set up her winning birdie putt with a superb approach to became the second Korean winner of the championship after Grace Park in 2004.

Kim tried to look on the positive side, adding “I feel good about my game. It’s getting better. It’s progressing,

“On the play-off hole, it’s just hard to kind of focus what’s going on right now because I was still a little bit bummed what happened on 18, honestly.”