MELBOURNE, Australia -- American teenager Jessica Korda won the Women’s Australian Open on Sunday for her first LPGA Tour title, holing a 25-foot birdie putt on the second hole of a six-player playoff.
The 18-year-old Korda completed a two-sport, father-daughter Australian double with the breakthrough victory in the LPGA Tour opener. Petr Korda won the 1998 Australian Open tennis tournament, also in Melbourne.
The 2012 Women's Australian Open is being staged on the Composite Course at Royal Melbourne, which hosted the 2011 Presidents Cup about two months ago.
“It is a really special place for my family,” Korda said. “For my first win, I honestly could not have thought of a better place.”
Korda closed with a 1-over 74 to finish at 3-under 289 in the first women’s professional event at Royal Melbourne, the historic sand-belt layout that was the site of the 2011 Presidents Cup.
Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lincicome, Julieta Granada, So Yeon Ryu and Hee Kyung Seo also were in the playoff that matched the largest in LPGA Tour history.
Playing in threesomes on the par-4 18th, all six players opened the playoff with pars. On the second, Lewis, Lincicome, Granada and Seo made par and Ryu had a bogey.
Ryu and Seo, playing ahead of Korda and Nikki Campbell in the second-to-last group, topped the leaderboard at 4 under going into the final hole of regulation, but both closed with bogeys to shoot 73.
Lewis finished with a 70, and Lincicome and Granada shot 71.
Playing in the first playoff threesome, Lincicome had a good chance to win on the first extra hole, but her 6-foot birdie try circled the cup and stayed out.
“I couldn’t have hit it any better,” Lincicome said. “It was perfect, perfect speed. It was uphill. Lips out and comes back to you.”
She missed a 15-foot birdie try on the second extra hole.
“Same thing on the second putt, hit it exactly where I wanted to hit it and it just didn’t break,” Lincicome said.
After Korda made her birdie putt in the second group on the second playoff hole, Granada missed a 12-footer that would have sent the two back to the 18th tee.
“I was really calm,” Korda said. “I knew what the putt did because I’d had it before and it did not move. I was a little higher up and more to the right. I knew the line and I knew the speed. All I had to do was just hit it. It started breaking. I thought, `Oh, my goodness no, don’t lip out, don’t break too early.’ I don’t even know what side of the hole it hit. I was overwhelmed by everything.”
Making her 16th start as an LPGA Tour member, Korda began the round with a one-stroke lead and was two ahead at 7 under after birdieing three of the first eight holes.
She had a double bogey on No. 9, bogeyed 10, birdied 11, and bogeyed Nos. 14-16 to drop to 2 under, then rallied with a birdie on the par-5 17th and parred the 18th to get the final spot in the playoff.
“I thought, `You’ve got to be kidding me,”’ Korda said about the bogey run. “I was lipping out and not reading my putts correctly. But I thought, `Come on, you can still get it back.’ … I was walking down the fairway like an absolute goof. After I made the birdie, I was OK, like, `I can do this.”’
Projected to jump from 285th to 30th in the world ranking, she became the sixth youngest winner in LPGA Tour history and the fourth youngest to win a 72-hole event.
“All the times I was down last year, it is all worth it,” she said. “It made me grow up. It made me realize that you’ve got to change your life to live out here and this is proof. I know that all the hard hours I put in and will keep putting in are really worth it. Every moment.”
Jenny Shin finished a stroke out of the playoff at 2 under after a 70.
Top-ranked Yani Tseng, the winner the last two years at Commonwealth Golf Club, was 1 under after a 74. The Taiwanese star had a three-hole stretch Friday in her second-round 76 when she dropped six strokes with a quadruple-bogey 8 and two bogeys. On Sunday, she had a triple bogey on the par-4 fourth, and bogeyed 15 and 16.
“If I didn’t have the two bogeys late, I probably still would have had a chance,” Tseng said. “So it’s good that I hung in there and fought back.”
Katie Futcher also was 1 under after a 74.
DIVOTS: Korda earned $165,000. The five playoff losers each received $63,784. … The scoring average Sunday was 74.92 and the four-round total was 76.492. … The LPGA Tour will be Asia the next two weeks for the LPGA Thailand and HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore.