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Yi captures first LPGA crown

YI Eunjung blew a six-stroke lead then hit a 10-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole to defeat Morgan Pressel and capture her first LPGA victory on Sunday in what might be the final Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic in Sylvania, Ohio.

The 21-year-old second-year pro began the day with a four-shot lead. She birded two of the first three holes to go up six shots. Pressel, chasing her third career victory, pulled even by holing a wedge shot for eagle on the par-5 17th hole.

Yi, from South Korea, finished at 18-under 266 to earn the US$210,000 first prize. She had missed the cut in four of her seven starts this year on tour and her biggest paycheck was just over US$11,000 for finishing tied for 26th at the Corona Championship.

Michelle Wie made a back-nine rush to finish at 16-under, tied for third.

Yi closed with an even-par 71 and Pressel had a 67. Wie had a career-best 64 but lost a chance to put extra pressure on the leaders when she misfired while going for the par-5 18th hole in two shots and had to settle for a par.

On the playoff hole, the 18th, both Yi and Pressel drove into the fairway and to the precipice of a steep hill that leads to a creek. Yi's drive flirted with the trees that line the left edge of the fairway. Both hit metal woods short of the green, and both hit wedge to the green.

Pressel hit first and her approach came up short to the back left pin location, ending up on the first cut of rough about 20 feet from the hole. Yi, who lives part of the year in the San Diego area, hit a lower, harder shot that stopped 10 feet away.

Birdie putt

Pressel's birdie putt held the line and almost fell as it scooted past on the left edge. She then tapped in for par.

After looking over her putt, Yi hit it firmly and - before the ball even settled into the cup - she raised both arms in victory. She was in tears minutes later.

Pressel trailed by four shots as she went to the 16th tee. But Yi three-putted for bogey at the 16th after pulling her drive into the trees and then overshooting the green with her approach. Pressel rolled in a 15-foot birdie putt at the 16th to cut the lead to two strokes.

At the 18th, Pressel had an eagle at the 513-yard, par-5 hole that tied her for the lead.

Lorena Ochoa closed with a 68.

The tournament's contract with its title sponsor, the LPGA and Highland Meadows Golf Club expired after the round.


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