Leta Lindley defeated Jeong Jang with a birdie on the first playoff hole to win the LPGA Corning Classic. It is the first victory of Lindley’s 14-year career. Mi Hyun Kim and Sun Young Yoo finished tied for third, one shot behind, while Meredith Duncan was fifth, three shots back.
Both Jang and Lindley started well – they each birdied twice early on. A bogey by Lindley at 4 set her back to -7. Jang eagled the par-5 5th to reach -11 and take a four-shot lead. Yoo birdied 2 and also eagled 5 to reach -7. Kim birdied three of her first five holes to get to -7. Erica Blasberg had started +1 through the first three holes but she birdied 5 and 6 to get back within three at -8. A bogey at 7 and a double at 8 dropped Erica out of contention and she struggled the rest of way, posting 79 and finishing T37.
Jang’s lead started shrinking at the turn – a bogey at 9 dropped her to -10 while Yoo birdied 10 and 12 to pull within one and Lindley birdied 10, 11 and 12 to tie for the lead. Peanut birdied 12 to draw within two. At 15, SYY birdied to create a three-way tie for first and Kimmie’s birdie moved her to within one.
JJ birdied 16 to retake the solo lead. Leta responded at 17, birdie tying her at -11. Yoo was unable to answer with one of her own. Peanut birdied 18 to tie Yoo for third. When both Lindley and Jang parred 18, the playoff was on.
Kudos to Mi Hyun Kim, who made the cut on the nose and then shot 68-66 to tie for third. Hee-Won Han and Diana D’Alessio were in the same position Friday and both rallied to finish T8. Condolences to Dina Ammaccapane (and Larry) – her 76-76 finish dropped her to T51 – and Jeong Jang, who suffered her second playoff loss of 2008. Correction: It was Jang's second playoff loss since last July (to Gulbis at Evian).
The coverage on Golf Channel begins at 6:30 EDT. As soon as I've got more details on how all this played out, I'll update. ESPN.com has info on how the playoff went down.
UPDATE: That was one great finish! Lindley’s birdie at 17 was a tap-in following an approach she almost holed out. At 18, Jang’s approach rolled into the back-left greenside bunker. Her shot from there rolled just right of the hole but six feet past. JJ made the comebacker to force the playoff.
They replayed 18 – JJ drove into the left rough, Lindley drove perfectly down the right side of the fairway. Jang again found a greenside bunker – this time on the left front. From 156 yards away, Leta’s approach released up to about seven feet from the hole. JJ blasted right at the hole and the ball stopped about three inches away! She tapped in for par but Lindley rolled home her birdie putt for the victory. Leta’s son ran up to her on the green and I heard her tell him “Mommy won!”. Yes, indeed.
We nearly had 15th hole magic like Jimin Kang enjoyed back in 2005. Sun Young Yoo’s tee shot rolled to a stop about one inch away. Had it dropped, the ace would have put Yoo in the playoff. She played an outstanding chip shot at 18 that just missed left, forcing her to drop her par putt from seven feet to salvage the third-place tie.
As the victory hugs were being given, Jang hugged Lindley and bent over to say hello to Lindley’s son. I’m happy Leta won this event – anyone who’s been on Tour that long without a victory has my support – but I really hate that it came at the expense of JJ. This was her second playoff loss of the year, her third overall second-place finish and her third straight Top 3 finish. Keep plugging, girl.