Hee-Won Han of South Korea won the LPGA Sybase Big Apple Classic on Sunday, becoming the Tour's third first-time winner in the last four weeks.
updated: February 25, 2007 09:48 IST
Hee-Won Han of South Korea won the LPGA Sybase Big Apple Classic on Sunday, becoming the Tour's third first-time winner in the last four weeks. The 25-year-old, who was the 2001 LPGA Tour rookie of the year, made a 4-foot birdie putt on the closing par-5 18th hole to finish at 11-under 273 - two strokes ahead of American Meg Mallon. The tournament, which featured a prize purse of $ 950,000, was played at the Wykagyl Country Club in New Rochelle, New York - just north of Manhattan. A year ago, at the same tournament, Hee-Won Han was on the brink of victory before letting a final round lead slip away and eventually lost in a sudden-death playoff to Gloria Park. It was the closest she had come to winning an LPGA Tour tournament until Sunday. Beginning the day with a five-stroke lead with Meg Mallon, Han played a a consistent final round to keep herself in contention for the title. On the ninth hole, Han hit her approach shot to the green, as it bounced toward the hole to set up a birdie. She went to 11 under par. Fellow Korean Grace Park made an eagle putt on the 15th hole to move to 8 under par. She finished tied for third at 5 under par for the event. Cindy Figg-Currier, who started the day in third position, five strokes behind the leaders, made a birdie putt on the 14th hole to get to 5 under par. She had a 72 and finished tied for third at 5-under with Park. Han then made a critical birdie putt on the 15th hole to get to 10 under, and in the process, established a two-stroke lead over Meg Mallon. Mallon, who has 14 career LPGA victories, would have fancied her chances against the inexperienced Han - but could get not bridge the deficit on the closing holes. After a 25 foot birdie putt just missed on 16, she then just missed again on the 17th with a 45 foot birdie attempt and remained two strokes back. Then she almost made a 60-foot eagle putt on 18, but the tap-in birdie gave her a 2-over 73 and took any pressure off Han as she faced her final putt. When Han's putt dropped for the victory, she turned to the crowd with her fist held high and a huge smile on her face. Han, who had two other second places last year, won $142,000 for the win. She entered the tournament 23rd on the money list with 284 thousand dollars with four top 10 finishes. Mallon, who was 27th on the money list, won $85,000. This was her fourth top 10 finish in this tournament with the best a third in 1997. (AP)