The first major championship of the 2012 season brought plenty of drama and plenty of frustration for all involved except the eventual winner Sun Yung Yoo. The Kraft Nabisco Championship took an extra playoff hole to determine the champion as a missed 1-foot putt in regulation by I.K. Kim caused the need for extra time. Tied at -9 it was evident that Kim was mentally shaken as the they were then forced to replay the 18th hole in the playoff. Yoo then won with a birdie to secure her second career LPGA victory.
It was a strange round that saw the lead shared by five different players including world No.1 Yani Tseng who began the day at -9 but finished one over for the day. The trophy was all but engraved with her name as she has led or shared the lead throughout most of the first three days of the tournament. Similar to last year when she was uncharacteristically over par in her loss to Stacy Lewis.
“I feel I’m improving,” Tseng said. “Last year when I finished I was crying so hard, but this year I was happy, smiling, enjoy the crowd, enjoy walking on the 18 holes, and I think it’s because I do my best every shot. I didn’t give up every shot, and I just give 100 percent effort out there, and sometimes like I said, in a tournament you’re not going to finish the way you want. And I said maybe God just wanted another player to win and give me something to learning more and improving myself.”
For Yoo it was the second win for a South Korean at the Kraft Nabisco after Grace Park in 2004. It was also her second victory after winning the 2010 Sybase Match Play. A consistent player on the tour since 2006, Yoo has notched 23 top 10 finishes and over $3 million in earnings. Yoo is expected to jump to 16th in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings after also coming off a 2nd place finish at the Kia Classic last week in San Diego.
“I didn’t think about winning today because I didn’t want to expect too much, and I didn’t want to let myself down,” said Yoo. “But I think I did better than I was thinking, so I’m very happy.”
Defending champion Stacy Lewis shot a 66 to finish T-4 though the low round of the day belonged to Natalie Gulbis who finished with a 65 to bump her to T-8. It was a disappointing day for Karin Sjodin who began the day tied for the lead but shot a 74 to finish T-4.
Next up for the ladies is the LPGA Lotte Championship in Oahu, Hawaii April 18th-21st.