Suzann Pettersen prevailed in a wild final round of thrills and spills at the LPGA KEB-HanaBank Championship in Incheon, South Korea.
After blowing a five-shot lead in regulation Sunday with the help of a pair of double bogeys, Pettersen rebounded to defeat Catriona Matthew in a playoff with a birdie at the third sudden-death hole.
World No. 1 Yani Tseng closed strong, missing out on the playoff by a single shot. Her solo third-place finish was her first top 10 in five months. She will defend her title next week at the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship in her homeland.
It was the ninth LPGA title of Pettersen’s career, her first in 14 months.
“After I bogeyed 8, I looked at my caddie, I said, 'If I am going to bogey, I might as well just fire right at the pin, there's no point playing safe.’ He said, 'Why don't you just play as aggressive as you have all week? What are you trying to do?’” Pettersen told media after her round. “So I might have gone out trying to be a little bit protective, which obviously does not fit my game at all.'
With a double bogey at the 12th, her second of the round, Pettersen’s lead was gone. She found herself two behind Matthew.
“I just really tried to hang in there,” Pettersen said. “I tried not to even look at what was going on around me because it would just stress me out.”
Pettersen came back with a birdie at the 14th and with Matthew making bogey at the 16th, her first of the day, the playoff soon followed. Pettersen closed with a 2-over-par 74, Matthew with a 67.
With the $270,000 first-place check, Pettersen moved to ninth on the LPGA career money list with $9,035,662 in earnings. She moved past Beth Daniel and Laura Davies in career money winnings.
“I think as a girl growing up, I never thought I'd ever be in that league,” said Pettersen. “That actually is kind of quite touching, that I've already achieved that much. But I'm only 31, and my big goal is the Olympics in four years. It's nice to get a head start to my career. I'm going to get my confidence back, and it's always nice to get back in the winner's circle.”