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Baek Kyu-jung takes LPGA title in S. Korea

South Korean Baek Kyu-jung claimed the LPGA KEB•HanaBank Championship in a playoff on Sunday for her maiden LPGA victory in her first appearance on the tour.

The 19-year-old defeated compatriot Chun In-gee and American Brittany Lincicome with a birdie on the first sudden death playoff hole on the par-72, 6,364-yard Ocean Course at Sky72 Golf and Resort here in Incheon, west of Seoul.

Baek, a member of the Korean LPGA Tour, took home US$300,000 in the winner's purse.

Baek is the eighth South Korean champion of the tournament, which began in 2002 as the only LPGA Tour event here. This was the third straight year in which the champ was determined in a playoff.

The three playoff contestants ended the regulation tied at 10-under and went back to the par-5 18th for the playoff.

Chun was the first to drop out of contention, after finding water just short of the green with her third shot and making bogey.
Lincicome stiffed her third shot to about three feet above the hole, while Baek, who'd recovered after getting into rough off the tee, put her third shot slightly closer.

Lincicome missed her birdie putt just left of the hole, setting up the stage for Baek's clinching putt. The teenager, seemingly immune to pressure, stepped up and drained for the victory.

In regulation, Lincicome fired a bogey-free 66 and took the club house lead early, having played two groups ahead of Chun and three ahead of Baek. Lincicome, playing for the first time in a month, had three birdies on the front nine and three more on the back nine.

Chun, who also shot a 66 in the final round, had four birdies on the front nine and made the turn at 8-under. She had the sole possession of the lead at 10-under after a birdie on the 13th, but committed her first bogey of the day on the next hole to fall into a tie with Lincicome at 9-under.

Chun came right back to pick up another birdie on the 15th. She had a chance to claim the club house lead but pushed her three-foot birdie putt on the 18th, with Baek watching the play unfold from the fairway.

Baek posted a 67 in the final round and had a mediocre front nine, trading in a birdie for a bogey to go out at 5-under. She caught fire on the back nine and poured in five consecutive birdies starting on the 11th to get into contention. She then saved key pars on the 16th and 17th.

On the 18th, Baek left herself with a four-foot birdie putt for the victory but pulled it just wide of the hole to get into the three-way playoff.

She faced a birdie putt of a similar length in the playoff and didn't miss the second time.

Park In-bee shot a 67 Sunday to finish at 9-under, one shy of the playoff. The world No. 2 finished alone in fourth place and came up just shy of reclaiming the No. 1 spot in the world rankings.

With the current No. 1 Stacy Lewis absent here, Park would have replaced the American at the top with a win.

Park would also have risen to No. 1 if she'd ended in second or in a three-way tie for third, as the third-ranked Lydia Ko finished well out of contention in 29th. (Yonhap)