SYLVANIA (Ohio) • Chella Choi parred the first play-off hole to defeat fellow South Korean golfer Jang Ha Na on Sunday for her first LPGA Tour title at the Marathon Classic and likely send her father into retirement.
She forced the play-off with overnight leader Jang with a five-under 66 that included five birdies without a bogey. "The first-time win is hard, but the second and third is easier. Hopefully this is a turning point for me," said Choi.
Her father has caddied for her since she joined the LPGA Tour seven years ago. He said he would not retire until she won.
"I wanted to work with my father for my first win. So my father worked with me until now," the 24-year-old said.
Choi finished 72 holes on 14-under 270, tied with Jang - a rookie also in search of a first LPGA title whose 68 was marred by a double-bogey six at the par-four 11th.
LEAVING ON A HIGH
I wanted to work with my father for my first win. So my father worked with me until now.
CHELLA CHOI on her father cum caddie
Jang fought back gamely with three birdies after the setback, but the 23-year-old ultimately could not pull off a wire-to-wire win at Highland Meadows Golf Club.
Her approach at the first play-off hole, the par-five-18th, found the rough behind the green leading to a bogey, leaving Choi to claim the trophy with a par.
Defending champion and world No. 2 Lydia Ko birdied four of her first eight holes and led by as many as two strokes midway through the round before falling back with a bogey at No. 13.
A birdie at No. 17 moved the 18-year-old New Zealand star into a tie at the top on 13 under, but both Jang and Choi birdied it to get to 14 under and she was unable to birdie the last to get into the play-off.
Ko finished with a 67 for 271, equal third with China's Feng Shanshan, who also carded a 67.
South Koreans Kim Hyo Joo and Baek Kyu Jung and American Brittany Lang shared fifth place on 273.
Park In Bee moved within two strokes of the lead with birdies at the seventh and eighth, but did not find another birdie in a round capped by a bogey at No. 18.
The world No. 1 settled for a 70 to total 274, where she was joined by Spain's Azahara Munoz and American Angela Stanford.
Choi's victory - after 28 previous top-10 finishes - was foreshadowed by some excellent golf at the previous week's US Women's Open.
She fired the lowest third-round score in the tournament's history, a six-under 64, in which her 29 on the front nine at Lancaster Country Club was a nine-hole record for a US Women's Open.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS