Tue, May 30, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Han survives sudden-death playoff

AP , CORNING, NEW YORK

Han Hee-won of South Korea hits her approach shot on the 18th hole during the final round of the LPGA Corning Classic in Corning, New York, on Sunday. Han defeated Meena Lee, also of South Korea, on the fourth hole of a sudden-death playoff.

PHOTO: AP

Han Hee-won parred the fourth hole of a sudden-death playoff with Meena Lee to win the LPGA Corning Classic on Sunday.

It was Han's first win of the year and fifth overall, and three have come in six playoffs. Lee, who finished second here for the second straight year, lost it when her second shot at the par-4 eighth bounced badly away from the green.

With Han safely on the green in two and staring at par, fellow South Korean Lee played an aggressive third shot which bounced twice and nearly hit the flag before rolling several feet past. When she missed the putt coming back and settled for bogey, Han simply two-putted to win the fourth playoff in Corning's 28-year history.

"I was pretty nervous out there," Han said. "I was just thinking keep it in the fairways.."

The victory was worth US$180,000, boosting Han to third place on this year's money list at just over US$700,000, and dealt Lee a critical setback. Because she won the Fields Open in February -- in a playoff over rookie Lee Seon-hwa -- Lee was exempt from qualifying for the US Open in late June. But she did not submit her application before the deadline and now must win one of the next three tournaments to get in.

Lee, who moved into the top 10 on the money list with US$373,970, declined to discuss the matter.

Though Han and Lee are close friends, this remained all business because Han was aware of Lee's plight.

"I'm not that good of a person," Han said afterward, smiling. "Three times second place, that's pretty good, but I don't like that. I wanted to win."

Both parred the first extra hole, No. 18, Han with a nice-up-and-down after landing in a greenside bunker with her second shot.

After both parred No. 8, they went back to 18, and Han got a lucky bounce when her tee shot struck a tree on the right side of the fairway and caromed back out to the fairway. Lee drove under the right trees but managed to save par to keep the playoff going.

Lee, who self-destructed last year on the 18th hole and lost to Jimin Kang by two strokes, came from six shots behind third-round leader Jeong Jang and looked to be a winner for the second time this year until Han rallied with birdies at the final two holes of regulation.

Han, who started the round at 11 under, rolled in a putt from inside 12 feet that briefly seemed to stop at the lip before dropping softly into the hole to get to 14 under at 17.

Han then used driver on the tough par-4 18th hole, hit her second shot to 3 feet and made birdie for a 68 to force the playoff just moments after Lee had finished her 66.

Jeff Maggert won the St. Jude Classic for his third US PGA Tour title and first since 1999, closing with a 5-under 65 for a three-stroke victory over Tom Pernice Jr..

Maggert, who began the round three strokes back, sealed his first victory since the 1999 Match Play Championship by rolling in a 36-foot eagle putt on the par-5 16th for a three-stroke lead.

"I would've bet I would've won more times by now," Maggert said. "With five kids at home, I have a lot of other priorities that are important to me in my life. It's just great I can come out here and do this ... and still fortunate I can come out and win at the age of 42."

He had four birdies, a bogey and the eagle in the final round to finish at 9-under 271 on the TPC at Southwind, the first time the winner here has been in single digits on this course.

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