Korda wins Women's Australian Open
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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Jessica Korda broke out her father's trademark scissor-kick celebration Sunday when she won the Women's Australian Open at Royal Melbourne for her first LPGA Tour title.
She decided against the cart wheels that her father, Petr, did when he won the 1998 Australian Open tennis title. Maybe she was still dizzy following a topsy-turvy final day of the tournament.
After losing the lead with a late bogey run, the 18-year-old American fought back to take the last spot in an improbable six-player playoff, then won with a 25-foot birdie putt on the second extra hole.
"It is a really special place for my family," Korda said. "For my first win, I honestly could not have thought of a better place."
What did her father say when they spoke by phone after the victory?
"That he was, `So proud of me and we'll talk about the three-putts after,'" she said.
She closed with a 1-over 74 to finish at 3-under 289 in the first women's professional event at Royal Melbourne, the difficult sand-belt layout that was the site of the 2011 Presidents Cup.
Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lincicome, Julieta Granada, So Yeon Ryu and Hee Kyung Seo also were in the playoff that matched the largest in LPGA Tour history.
Ryu and Seo, playing ahead of Korda and Nikki Campbell in the second-to-last group, topped the leaderboard at 4 under going into the final hole of regulation, but made bogeys to set up the big playoff.
Lewis finished with a 70, Lincicome and Granada shot 71, and Ryu and Seo 73.
Split into threesomes on the par-4 18th, all six players parred the first extra hole. Lincicome's 6-foot birdie try circled the cup and stayed out.
"I couldn't have hit it any better," Lincicome said. "It was perfect, perfect speed. ... Lips out and comes back to you."
Playing in the first threesome, Lincicome also narrowly missed a 15-foot birdie try on the second playoff hole.
"Same thing on the second putt, hit it exactly where I wanted to hit it and it just didn't break," Lincicome said.
A few minutes later in the second group, Korda made her birdie putt, and won when Granada missed a 12-footer that would have sent the two back to the 18th tee.
"I was really calm," Korda said. "I knew what the putt did because I'd had it before and it did not move. I was a little higher up and more to the right. I knew the line and I knew the speed. All I had to do was just hit it. It started breaking. I thought, `Oh, my goodness no, don't lip out, don't break too early.' I don't even know what side of the hole it hit. I was overwhelmed by everything."
Making her 16th start as an LPGA Tour member, Korda took a one-stroke lead into the round and was two ahead at 7 under after birdieing three of the first eight holes.
Then she made it a lot more exciting than she wanted.
She had a double bogey on No. 9, bogeyed 10, birdied 11, and bogeyed Nos. 14-16 to drop to 2 under - two strokes behind Ryu and Seo.
Korda then ran - yes, ran - to the 17th tee.
"I was kind of upset," she said. "I needed to let off some steam. The way I throw off steam is I go for a run. It calmed me down. I was running around the parking lot this morning, too. I was doing circles around the cars."
Her mind was racing, too.
"I thought, `You've got to be kidding me,'" Korda said. "I was lipping out and not reading my putts correctly. But I thought, `Come on, you can still get it back.' ... I was walking down the fairway like an absolute goof."
She rallied with a birdie on the par-5 17th - "After I made the birdie, I was OK, like, `I can do this,'" she said - and parred the 18th.
Projected to jump from 285th to 30th in the world ranking, she became the sixth youngest winner in LPGA Tour history and the fourth youngest to win a 72-hole event.
"All the times, I was down last year, it is all worth it," she said. "It made me grow up. It made me realize that you've got to change your life to live out here and this is proof. I know that all the hard hours I put in and will keep putting in are really worth it. Every moment."
Jenny Shin finished a stroke out of the playoff at 2 under after a 70.
Top-ranked Yani Tseng, the winner the last two years at Commonwealth Golf Club, was 1 under after a 74. She had a three-hole stretch Friday in her second-round 76 when she dropped six strokes with a quadruple-bogey 8 and two bogeys. On Sunday, she had a triple bogey on the par-4 fourth, and bogeyed 15 and 16.
"If I didn't have the two bogeys late, I probably still would have had a chance," Tseng said. "So it's good that I hung in there and fought back."
Katie Futcher also was 1 under after a 74.
DIVOTS: Korda earned $165,000. ... The scoring average Sunday was 74.92 and the four-round total was 76.492. ... Campbell shot a 77 to tie for 12th at 1 over. ... The LPGA Tour will be in Thailand and Singapore the next two weeks.
Updated February 12, 2012