The wait is over for Amy Yang as she outlasted a one-hole playoff with Hee Kyung Seo at the LPGA KEB•HanaBank Championship to become the fourth Rolex First-Time Winner this season.
Both South Koreans fired 9-under three-day totals in regulation but Yang prevailed with a birdie on the first playoff hole at the par-5 18th.
A member of the LPGA Tour since 2009, Yang has knocked on the door of her first-ever LPGA Tour victory several times including the 2011 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G where she lost in a playoff to Yani Tseng and the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open where she finished runner-up.
“I have been waiting for this championship for a long time, and I'm really happy get it in my home country,” said Yang. “I think still I can't believe it.”
Yang began Sunday’s final round trailing co-leaders Katherine Hull-Kirk and Anna Nordqvist by 1-stroke. The South Korean lingered around the top of the leaderboard throughout most of the final round but finally surged into a tie for the lead after an eagle at the par-4 15th moved her to 8-under for the tournament.
Hull-Kirk, chasing her third LPGA Tour victory, endured a horror round and finished with a final round 80.
With pars on the next two holes, Yang was able to keep her composure and birdie the scoreable par-5 18th to force a playoff with Seo.
Both players hit errant tee-shots on the first playoff hole with Yang’s finding the right rough and Seo’s finding the left. Momentum slowly swung Seo’s way after Yang’s tricky lie in the rough left her with a lengthy third shot.
Despite the difficult third shot, both players managed to find the green in regulation but Yang sunk her 15-foot birdie putt to hoist the trophy.
“I mean, unfortunately this is third time, I guess, and I couldn't win at the playoff,” said Seo. “But I played really well last two days. Just I think the big miss was No. 14 hole, I missed short putt. That was a big one that I could not win. I'm really happy for Amy. She was waiting for really long time. I think I can wait more than her. I know it's going to be coming soon for me, so I will just wait and do my things.”
Playing in front of a large gallery consisting of several close friends and family, Yang fought back tears as she became the eighth Korean to win the LPGA KEB•HanaBank Championship since 2002.