Munoz wins Sybase; Pressel takes consolation match


Azahara Munoz overcame a controversy-filled morning match and ran a 36-hole gauntlet on Sunday en route to her first LPGA win.

The 19th-seeded Munoz defeated No. 49 seed Candie Kung, 2 and 1, to win the Sybase Match Play Championship at Hamilton Farm Golf Club in Gladstone, N.J.

The Spaniard won the opening hole with par, but gave up the early advantage to Kung's birdie on the par-5 second. After a win for each player on the final seven holes of the front nine, the match made the turn all square.

Munoz cemented her advantage with birdies at Nos. 11 and 12 to forge a 2-up advantage. Kung halved the deficit with a birdie to win at the par-5 14th, but Munoz took advantage of Kung's double-bogey 5 at the 16th to go dormie with two holes to play.

The Arizona State product, who earned $375,000 for the win, has a penchant for match play. Munoz clinched the winning point for the European side at the Solheim Cup last fall at Killeen Castle in Ireland.

Munoz advanced to the afternoon final after defeating friend Morgan Pressel under unfortunate circumstances in a semifinal match.

Pressel was 2 up in their morning match on the par-3 12th, which the American thought she had then won with a par. Put on the clock by LPGA rules officials on the tee, however, Pressel took more than her allotted time to make par. She was given a loss-of-hole penalty, playing the 13th with a 1-up lead instead of being 3 up in the match. 

Munoz won the final three holes of the semi-final to win, 2 and 1, despite an accusation from Pressel she had breached the rules at No. 15. On the green, Pressel claimed Munoz had violated the rules by grounding her putter in the line of a birdie bid. After a review of video footage, no penalty was assessed and Munoz made the putt to start a three-hole run to the win.

For her part, Pressel moved past the unpleasant end against Munoz. She defeated Vicky Hurst, 2 and 1, to win the consolation match and finish in third place.