The Kingsmill Championship has traditionally provided fans with a great finish on the LPGA Tour, and Sunday’s finale didn’t disappoint. Not only did we have a dogfight down the stretch that went into extra holes, but a nice blend of championship caliber players making a run at the lead as well.
It didn’t take nine holes, and two days as it did last year at The River Course at Kingsmill in Williamsburg, Virginia to identify a winner, but it did take two extra holes on Sunday afternoon to find a champion. LPGA veteran, and 12th ranked Christie Kerr lost a two-stroke advantage that she started the day with to Rolex fifth ranked Suzann Pettersen during regulation play, but would prevail on the second hole to log her 16th LPGA title, and her third at The Kingsmill.
With a little bit of anger in a tee shot on the final playoff hole, that came from missing a six-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole that would have ended the match, Kerr absolutely striped her drive to the middle of the fairway, and long. Pettersen who was a bit further back in the deteriorating conditions, hit her approach shot long and left. Kerr hit to 12 feet, and after Suzann’s chip came up short, she was able to comfortably two-putt for the win.
“I’m just so thrilled. Honestly, the way I hit it today to even have a chance to win,” said Kerr. “I just made so many putts out there to save par and kind of save any momentum, and I started hitting it a little bit better late in the round just in time to make a ‑‑ catch up a couple shots. Yeah, really hard fought, really hard fought. I’m very happy.”
Suzann Pettersen, who won two weeks ago at The LPGA LOTTE Championship, and finished in third place last week at The North Texas Shootout, played strong all day, and was able to make up a two shot deficit during regulation to force the playoff. The bogey on the second playoff hole was her first on the afternoon.
The final round at The Kingsmill on Sunday was every bit as exciting as The PGA event down the road in Charlotte, maybe even better. It included three of the top five players in the world on the top of the leaderboard, and within five strokes of the lead.
Number one, and last weeks winner at The North Texas Shootout, Inbee Park played flawless golf all day. She put up five birdies before making her first bogey on the day at the 18th hole. She finished at -8 under par, and four shots back in sole possession of seventh place.
Stacy Lewis, the number two player in the world, had an up and down afternoon, but made an eagle/birdie run on the 15th and 17th hole to close with a flurry that put her in a tie for fifth place. It was a great finish, but she couldn’t overcome the three bogeys she made earlier in the day.
First round leader, Ariya Jutanugarn also fired a closing salvo with a four-hole birdie run starting at the 12th hole. After shooting even par on the front nine, the young Thai closed with a -5 under 66 which was the best round of the day, that pulled her into a tie for third place. Had she played a little better on Friday and Saturday, she might have won this thing in regulation. The 17 year-old Jutanugarn is close to being a factor on the LPGA Tour.
This day would belong to Christie Kerr. She hung tough all day, playing with Suzann Pettersen who is on a hot streak, and playing very well at this point of the season. Kerr won her third title at The Kingsmill, and her third playoff, the first with her father present. With the victory, she climbs into tenth position on the Rolex LPGA World Rankings.
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