SUN YOUNG YOO won the Kraft Nabisco Championship with an 18-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole Sunday, earning her first major title after I.K. Kim missed a 1-foot putt on the final hole of regulation.
Yoo won the LPGA Tour’s first major of the season with steady play down the stretch, but she got to make the traditional leap into Poppie’s Pond only after Kim’s mind-boggling miss on the same green minutes earlier.
“She’s a great putter,” Yoo said about Kim. “She usually doesn’t miss that kind of putt, but … in sports, you never know what’s going to happen.”
Yoo, who earned her second career LPGA Tour victory, and Kim finished at 9 under, but Kim could have all but wrapped up her first major with the tap-in par putt.
Kim might have struck the ball oddly, and it toured the lip of the cup before coming out on the same side it entered. The gallery gasped, and Kim raised her left hand to her mouth in disbelief.
“I played straight, and it actually just broke to the right, even that short putt,” said Kim, a 23-year-old South Korean who lives in the Los Angeles area. “So it was unfortunate on 18, but … I feel good about my game. It’s getting better.”
Kim’s unbelievable miss on the Dinah Shore course will go down in tournament lore after a thoroughly wacky final round in which five players held the lead.
Kim had been the most consistent contender amid those wild momentum swings, going bogey-free through 17 holes — until she made a mistake reminiscent of Scott Hoch’s missed 2-foot putt that would have won the 1989 Masters, and Doug Sanders’ miss on a 3-footer to win the 1970 British Open.
“On the playoff hole, it’s just hard to kind of focus on what’s going on right now,” Kim said. “Because I was still a little bit bummed (about) what happened on 18, honestly.”
Yoo and Kim played the 18th again in the playoff, and Kim’s drive barely cleared the water, landing in the rough. She left a birdie putt short from the fringe, and Yoo calmly reached the green before burying her winning putt.
Yoo, who joined Grace Park as the only South Korean winners in the history of the tournament, seemed a bit reluctant to celebrate after hugging Kim, but she joined her caddie for the leap into Poppie’s Pond. She surpassed $3 million in career earnings with her $300,000 share of the $2 million purse.