Thailand’s Kongkraphan wins Symetra golf tourney in Concord
CONCORD — They challenged and chased and pushed.
And Thailand’s P.K. Kongkraphan answered each and every threat on the way to her first Symetra Tour — Road to the LPGA — win on Sunday at Beaver Meadow Golf Course.
It took three sudden-death playoff holes, but Kongkraphan, thanks to some wicked wedge play, put away Michelle Shin in the end to collect a winner’s check of $15,000 in the 10th Northeast Delta Dental International.
“I’m glad today, very happy,” a smiling Kongkraphan said. “I’m so happy.”
She became the 11th different winner in the 11 tournaments this year and the first to win when taking the lead into Sunday.
Kongkraphan shot 68-68-71-207 and was 9-under through regulation.
Shinn pushed her throughout the day and shot a 5-under par 67 to force the playoff.
Jackie Stoelting and Marina Alex each matched the best round of the tournament with 66s on Sunday and were waiting and ready in case Kongkraphan and Shin faltered.
Kongkraphan was unable to hold off Shin in regulation, but outlasted her in three straight playoff holes, each of them contested on the par-4, 301-yard No. 18.
“I didn’t make many putts today, but I made my wedge shots,” Kongkraphan.
“I hit 5-wood on my tee shot and the wedge shots (on the playoff holes) were all exactly the same,” she said. “One-hundred and five, 105, 105.”
She nailed them all.
Shin and Kongkraphan stood side by side for their approach shot on the first playoff hole. Shin stuck hers within about four feet. Kongkraphan was just a little farther out.
Shin could only smile as she walked to the green “What the heck?” she said later.
Kongkraphan missed her putt, though. Shin missed, too.
“I should have made that putt,” Shin said. “There were some nerves. . . . And I guess I didn’t see enough break.”
They went back and did it again and this time both made their putt for birdie.
On the third sudden death hole, Shin had what she called a makeable birdie putt, but then missed a short one for par.
Kongkraphan missed a three-footer for birdie, but tapped in her par putt and had her victory.
The $15,000 nearly matched what she had made in her first eight tournaments this year and lifted her from 15th to third in the money list with a total of $32,323. She’s $10 behind Cydney Clanton, who is second, and within $400 of leader Sue Kim.
Five events remain in the tour this season and the top 10 on the list when it ends earn their LPGA card for next year.
Shin earned $9,295 for second place and vaulted from 67th to 24th on the money list.
“To be honest, I’ve been struggling a lot this year, with my putter especially,” Shin said. “I’m pretty happy to put three solid, great rounds together.”
Stoelting made a major move on the list, too.
She and Alex each collected $6,008. Stoetling jumped from 23rd to 16th and Alex solidified her spot in the top ten and took over the No. 5 spot.
“I was leading at (the tourney event in) Decatur by two strokes and played with fear,” Stoelting said. “I played without fear today. I was very aggressive and tried to scare the leaders a little bit.”
Kim Kaufman, who graduated from Texas Tech University in May, was in the last group for the first time and was a stroke behind Kongkraphan when the day began.
She had trouble early and fell back.
“I bogeyed one and four and did stuff I wasn’t doing all week,” Kaufman said “It was unfortunate, but I kind of held it together and was 1-under on the back. It’s disappointing, but you’ve got to learn from it.”
Kaufman finished at 68-69-74 and in a tie for seventh with Olivia Jordan-Higgins.
They each earned $2,754. Kaufman, who won a tournament in Michigan three weeks ago, slipped a spot in the money list to No. 10 with a total of $25,539.