Missed putt costs Kang chance at LPGA Corning Classic title
It’s a golfing cliché - a player standing over a short putt with a golf tournament on the line.
For Soo-Yun Kang, it became a reality - one that will haunt her for the near future.
Kang needed a two-putt par from 60 feet on the 18th hole to send the 31st LPGA Corning Classic to extra holes at Corning Country Club on Sunday. Yani Tseng was in the clubhouse at 21-under par – as was Kang as she walked up to the green.
Her first putt, a tournament-winning birdie attempt, went past the hole roughly three to four feet. Her par putt to tie Tseng was also off the mark - giving the win to Tseng.
“It looked like it was right to left, but ball went right. I missed the read,” Kang said. “Then my brain went all white - then nothing.”
Kang, who began the day tied with Mika Miyazato at 17-under par, stayed near the top of the leaderboard throughout her final round. She made birdies at Holes 2 and 5, then drained a nice 30-foot putt to move to 20-under par at the 9th hole.
Her drive on 10 found the sand, which led to a bogey. She rebounded with a birdie at 12 and narrowly missed a short birdie try at 13.
Kang was at 20-under par when the crowd around 18 erupted after Paula Creamer’s long birdie putt sent her to 20-under, as well.
After pars at 14 and 15, Kang knocked her approach to 16 about four feet. After making it, she was alone at 21-under par, until Tseng – playing in the group ahead of Kang – made a birdie at 17 to also reach 21-under.
Kang’s drive on 17 rolled into the tree line on the left side, forcing her to play a bump and run from 80 yards out.
Kang’s ball reached the green but rolled back to the front – where she two-putted for par.
“My shot normally is with a draw, but I tried for a straight ball, but it made a draw into the left side toward the trees,” Kang said of her tee shot on 17. “I saw that Yani made a birdie on that hole. I wanted to make birdie on that hole, but I made par.”
Still tied for the lead, Kang drove her ball perfectly on 18, leaving her a short distance to the green. Her approach came up about 60 feet short of the flag, on the front edge of the green.
“Pitching wedge, but a little push,” Kang said.
When Kang’s birdie putt did not go in, she wheeled around with her putter - a mistake.
“I didn’t watch after the ball went past the hole,” Kang said.
Had she watched her ball, she may have better seen which way it would break coming back, which could have calmed her nerves somewhat.
“I was a little nervous. It’s like I have to make this putt to go into a playoff,” Kang said. “I missed that kind of putt for birdie on 13, but I felt I could make it (on 18).”
Following the trophy presentation, where Kang and Creamer received Steuben bowls for finishing second, Kang reflected on her play.
“I’m ok with the way I played today. I think I played pretty well,” she said. “Obviously, I’m very, very disappointed that I missed that putt on 18.
“I’ll just keep trying hard and remember for that putt – don’t ever do that.”