Norway’s Suzann Pettersen overcame a nine-stroke deficit then defeated South Korea’s Choi Na-yeon at the first playoff hole on Sunday to win the LPGA Safeway Classic.
Pettersen started the final round of the 54-hole tournament nine off the overnight lead held by Choi, but carded a seven-under-par 64 for a total of 207. Choi, who could have won with a par at the final hole of regulation play, closed with a bogey for a two-over 73 that also left her on six-under 207.
They returned to the par-four 18th for the playoff and Choi’s second shot went into the water right of the green. She missed a bogey putt, before Pettersen drained her winning shot.
Pettersen, who won the Ladies European Tour’s Ladies Irish Open at Killeen Castle on Aug. 7, captured her second LPGA title of the year and her eighth overall.
Her final round included five birdies and an eagle at the 10th, with no bogeys.
With the win she jumps to No. 2 in the world rankings behind Taiwan’s Yani Tseng. Tseng shot a 73 to finish tied for 13th place on one-over 214. Fellow Taiwanese Candie Kung shot a 69 to finish on four-over 217, while compatriot Amy Hung also carded a 69 to finish a shot further back.
“I didn’t really expect this when I when I woke up this morning nine strokes back,” Pettersen said. “I guess when you’re on a roll, you’re on a roll.”
Despite her recent successes, Pettersen said her mind has not been all on golf of late.
She recently lost a close family friend in a skydiving accident and she was stunned by the July 22 attacks in Norway that left 77 people dead.
“It makes you realize life’s not all about golf,” Pettersen said. “It makes you put things in perspective.”
Choi started the day with a three-shot lead over Stacy Lewis, but endured a difficult day. She bogeyed the second, sixth and ninth, before her first birdie of the day at the par-five 10th.
Her third birdie of the day at the par-four 17th gave her a one-shot lead heading to the final hole, but after missing the green she failed to get up-and-down for par.
South Korea’s Park Hee-young, still seeking a first LPGA win, carded a 67 and finished third on 208. American Paula Creamer carded a 68 for 209.
For Choi, it was a second straight runner-up finish at Pumpkin Ridge. Last year she finished tied for second, two strokes behind Japan’s Ai Miyazato.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER