American Megan Khang captured her first LPGA title after 190 starts, defeating former world number one Ko Jin-young in a playoff on Sunday to win the CPKC Women’s Canadian Open.
Khang’s long-sought breakthrough victory came with a par on the first extra hole, the 25-year-old from suburban Boston saying the eight-year wait made the triumph all the sweeter.
“It’s tough to win out here,” she said. “Eight years is a long time. It’s great to get the first.”
Ko fired a three-under par 69 Sunday while Khang needed a tense four-foot birdie putt at the 18th to shoot 74 and finish deadlocked after 72 holes on nine-under 279 at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club.
The playoff began at the par-4 18th as fourth-ranked Ko hooked her tee shot left into a bush beyond a cart path while Khang found the fairway and the fringe of the green.
Ko took a penalty stroke and blasted from the concrete into a greenside bunker, then punched onto the green and two-putted for double bogey, leaving Khang three putts from victory.
Khang’s first stopped inches from the hole and she tapped in the next for the title just before friends raced onto the green to spray her with champagne.
There were times, Khang said, she wondered if it would ever happen.
“I think it crosses a lot of people’s minds,” she said. “I know my game is trendy and it has matured over the past few years so I was more like, ‘It’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of time.’
“It just happened to be the CPKC Open. This course suits my game very well and I’m just pumped to finally get the first one.”
China’s fifth-ranked Yin Ruoning was third on 281 after a 66 with South Korean Kim Sei-young and Australian Hannah Green sharing fourth on 282.
Khang had 33 top-10 finishes since 2016, the most of any player without an LPGA triumph.
Khang began with a three-stroke lead over South Korea’s Kim Sei-young but stumbled early with bogeys at the par-3 third and par-4 sixth.
“A couple early bogeys and you look at the leaderboard and you’re wondering when you’re going to get it going,” Khang said.
Khang said she told her caddie: “I definitely need you to talk to me because I’m freaking out in my head.”
She answered a bogey at 10 with birdies at the par-5 11th and par-3 12th to reclaim a two-stroke lead.
Ko pulled within two with a birdie at 14 and when Khang and Kim both made bogeys at 13, Khang was one ahead of Ko, who missed out on her third LPGA title of the year and 16th overall.
Ko sank a five-foot birdie putt at 16 to match Khang for the lead. Khang sank a tense six-foot par putt at 16 to stay tied but at the par-3 17th, Kang lipped out from eight feet to make bogey, forcing her to sink a four-footer for birdie at 18.
© Agence France-Presse