Stanford Had Eerie Feeling About Lunkes Putt

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NORTH PLAINS, Ore. -- Angela Stanford thought the 18th hole at the U.S. Women's Open might hold another day of magic for her. Reality struck when she glanced over at Hilary Lunke.

'I know the kind of line she had,' Stanford said. 'I didn't get my hopes up too high.'
 
Stanford was 1-over heading to the par-5 closing hole at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club on Monday, in a three-way playoff for the title. Lunke was at even par, and Kelly Robbins was 2 over.
 
After a well-placed third shot, Stanford made an impossible 30-foot putt for a birdie. On the same hole a day earlier, she also made a birdie putt to join the playoff.
 
'I hit the best shot that I could and I felt, well, maybe there's still some magic left in this hole for me,' she said. 'Once it went in, I thought, I can't believe this is happening to me.'
 
But there was some magic there for Lunke, too. She made a 15-footer -- after easily draining putts all day -- for the victory.
 
Lunke finished with a 1-under 71, while Stanford was even. Robbins also birdied the final hole to wrap up with a 73.
 
Just a little more than two weeks ago, Stanford missed the cut at the Wegmans Rochester International. But she rebounded with her first ever LPGA Tour win in the ShopRite LPGA Classic last weekend.
 
Even though she didn't pull off a miracle on the 18th, Stanford left the course smiling.
 
'I think when I show up at events now, I can walk a little taller,' the third-year tour pro said of her recent success.
 
But Stanford admittedly sealed her fate with a poor front nine. She opened with consecutive bogeys and added another on No. 8 in a 3-over 39.
 
A run on the back nine, with three birdies in four holes, pulled Stanford even with Lunke -- until a bogey on No. 17 dropped her a shot back and set up the final hole.
 
'For as bad as I hit it on the front nine, maybe this is the way it should be,' Stanford said.
 
In the end, Robbins was nearly forgotten. But an amazing shot from a deep collection area on the No. 18 nearly went in for an eagle.
 
Lunke made the winning putt before Robbins' final putt.
 
'I didn't know if I needed to play anymore,' she said. 'I thought I was done.'
 
Robbins, the veteran of the group with 12 years on the tour, was thinking of giving up the game just a few years back. She has not won an event since 1999.
 
But the Open has given her new energy.
 
'Last week if you would have told me I was going to be in the playoff, I would have said, `Yeah, right. Sure,'' she said.
 
Robbins' unlucky number Monday was No. 13, where she double bogeyed. She also bogeyed three of the first four holes.
 
'I was just happy to be here,' she said. 'I thought maybe I could pull it off.'
 
The three-way playoff was set up Sunday when all three players came in with 1-under 283s.
 
Robbins birdied two of the last three holes Sunday to close with a 2-under 69.
 
Lunke made six bogeys in a 75, but kept her composure and had a chance to win with a 15-foot birdie putt that was right on line but came up short.
 
The surprise was Stanford, who made a slick, downhill birdie putt from 20 feet that fell in the center of the cup on the 18 at Witch Hollow.
 
It was the first playoff in the U.S. Women's Open since Se Ri Pak won at Blackwolf Run in 1998, and the first involving three women since Laura Davies beat JoAnne Carner and Ayako Okamoto in 1987.
 
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