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Golf Today > Tour Schedules > 2006 > LPGA > Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic > Round 4
 

JAMIE FARR OWENS CORNING CLASSIC RELATED STORIES





Mi Hyun Kim beats Natalie Gulbis in playoff

Natalie Gulbis tried to mask the hurt inside.

"I'm always smiling. But it's very upsetting," Gulbis said after Mi Hyun Kim rolled in an 18-foot birdie putt on the third playoff hole to beat her and win the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic on Sunday.

Gulbis, who often models for magazines and calendars, is followed everywhere by huge galleries and is one of the best-known players on the LPGA Tour. Still, she had never finished better than a tie for third in her 4 1/2 years on tour. The sudden-death defeat will likely amplify the questions about her ability to win.

Kim earned $180,000 for her second victory of the year and seventh in seven seasons on the tour. The South Korean also won the Ginn Clubs & Resort Open in April.

"She had soooo many fans!" Kim said. "I still cannot hear."

But Kim was emboldened by the fact that not everyone was cheering for Gulbis.

"I understand that I'm Korean and that many Americans fans are rooting for Natalie," Kim said. "I was happy that a few people said my name or my nickname, or 'Go Mi Hyun Kim."'

Gulbis said Kim had one of the best short games on tour, but said she still should have beaten her. After birdieing six of her first 10 holes in the final round, Gulbis parred the last 11 despite having some terrific birdie opportunities.

It appeared Gulbis, who had five consecutive birdies on the front nine in the final round, had ended her drought when she stared down a 12-footer for birdie and the win on the second playoff hole. But she missed it.

"I had chances," she said. "It's not like I didn't have chances."

After Kim hit her clutch putt on the final playoff hole, Gulbis was wide on a 9-foot putt to continue the playoff.

"I won and I got a trophy," Kim said. "So I'm very happy."

The three top finishers each closed with 6-under 65s, with Kim and Gulbis completing regulation at 18-under 266. Paula Creamer, who birdied Nos. 14, 15, 16 and 17 but missed a 12-footer at 18 that would have gotten her into the playoff, even sat down in the grass near the 18th green to watch the playoff.

"What are you going to do?" Creamer said. "I made one at Sybase (to win in 2005) and this time I missed it. Next time I'm hopeful it'll go in."

Both Kim and Gulbis missed birdie putts of about 12 feet on the first playoff hole. Gulbis had the advantage on the extra hole, but missed another 12-footer that would have given her the win.

"If she makes that putt ... then God gave it to her for a win," Kim said.

Se Ri Pak closed with a 66 to finish fourth at 268. She was trying to become only the third woman to win the same tournament five times. Mickey Wright won the Sea Island Open five times, and Annika Sorenstam has won the Samsung World Championship and the Mizuno Classic five times each. Sorenstam won the Mizuno five years in a row (2001-05).

Reilley Rankin shot a 70 and was at 272, with Brittany Lang (66) and Sung Ah Yim (70) at 274.

Annika Sorenstam, the 2000 Farr winner, made just one bogey all week but couldn't hit birdie putts. She finished with a 70 and was alone at 9-under 275.

Gulbis and Kim started the final round tied for the lead and sparred throughout.

Playing in the same grouping, Kim upstaged Gulbis with a birdie on the second hole -- hitting her approach on the waterlogged par-3 to 8 feet -- to take the lead before Gulbis answered with birdies on the next five holes.

Creamer jumped into contention with birdies at 14, 15,16 and 17 to draw within a shot of Gulbis.

Kim's 4-footer for birdie at 16 drew her within a shot, then pulled even with another birdie at 17 after spinning a wedge to 6 feet.

At the 72nd hole, first Creamer, then Gulbis, and finally Kim all missed birdie putts of around 10 to 12 feet. Creamer needed hers to make the playoff.

"I was very aware of where I was all day," said Creamer, last year's tour rookie of the year but winless for more than a year. "It's just one of those things. I knew that if I kept plugging along and kept giving myself chances, they were bound to drop. They did. And I just kept that momentum going"

After her putt slid off the right edge, she covered her eyes with her right hand. As she walked off the green, she tossed her bright pink golf ball into the stands.

The course was pounded by 2 inches of rain Friday that disrupted the tournament and turned the course into a water park. The players had to be ferried in carts across a small stream that swelled to a 75-yard wide torrent that bisected the course.

Gulbis said she'd try to dwell on the good things from the week.

"It's not like I finished last," she said. "There's a lot of positive stuff here."

Just not a victory.

 

 




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