King Kung at Takefuji

By Sports NetworkApril 19, 2003, 4:00 pm
LAS VEGAS -- Candie Kung carded a 2-under 70 Saturday to earn her first LPGA Tour victory at the Takefuji Classic. Kung, who finished the tournament at 12-under-par 204, held off Cristie Kerr, Soo-Yun Kang and 2002 champion Annika Sorenstam, who tied for second at 10-under-par 206.
'This is great,' said Kung. 'That is about all I can say about it. It is awesome.'
Kang and Sorenstam began the final round five strokes off the pace, but both shot 5-under 67s in the final round to put pressure on Kung.
Kung entered the last round sharing the lead with Catriona Matthew, who owned at least a share of the lead after each of the first two rounds. Kung dropped a shot at the first after losing her drive right, then parred seven straight holes before rolling in a six-footer for birdie at the par-5 ninth.
On the back side, Kung made it back-to-back birdies with a two-putt birdie at the par-5 10th. She rolled in another birdie at the par-4 12th, before sinking a 30-footer for her final birdie and a three-stroke lead at the par-4 15th.
'I was just trying to go there and knock everything in the hole,' said Kung, who earns $165,000 with the victory. 'That is what I was trying to do. I wanted to hit fairways, greens and try to make a putt.'
Kung, who won the 2001 U.S. Public Links Championship before turning professional later that summer, faltered with a three-putt bogey at the last, but it didn't matter.
'I was just trying to hit the green on the third shot and somehow it flew the pin,' said Kung. 'I did not know how many shots I was leading by. I was trying to hit it on the green and two-putt from there.'
Kang had a strong front nine. She rolled in a birdie at the fourth from 10 feet out before sinking a four-footer for birdie at the sixth. She capped the front side with consecutive birdies on eight and nine.
Around the turn, Kang birdied the 12th and 14th both from within 10 feet to get to 11-under. Her chance at challenging for the crown ended with a bogey at the 15th when she was unable to get up-and-down.
'I knew I was at 11-under and Kung was at 12-under before my bogey on 15,' said Kang. 'I wanted to make birdie, but didn't. I am happy with my finish though.'
Kerr started slowly with a bogey at the first, but recovered quickly. She rolled in a 15-footer at the next for birdie. Kerr then birdied the two par-5s on the front nine, Nos. 6 and 9, to get to 11-under. On the back side, she was unable to keep up her momentum. She carded eight pars and dropped a shot after missing the green at the par-3 14th.
'I would have been a lot happier if my last putt went in,' said Kerr. 'I played pretty well and hit a lot of greens, but today was just not my day to make putts.'
Sorenstam made a nice run to try to make it back-to-back titles at this event. She struggled to start both nines with bogeys at the second and 10th. Otherwise, she had an excellent round. The top-player in the women's game birdied the third, sixth and ninth to get to minus-7.
After her bogey at 10, Sorenstam ran off three straight birdies from the 13th to move into contention. Over the final three holes, Sorenstam could only muster a birdie at the last to move into a tie for second.
Hee-Won Han finished alone in fifth at 9-under-par 207, followed by Matthew (74), Se Ri Pak (69) and Akiko Fukushima (69), who tied for sixth at minus-8.
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