When it comes to match play, you might say Cristie Kerr has just a touch more experience in pressure situations than Seol-An Jeon.
Kerr, an eight-year pro and experienced Solheim Cup player, used that seasoning to her advantage, outlasting LPGA rookie Jeon in a seven-hole playoff to capture the Takefuji Classic at Las Vegas Country Club.
“We were kind of in a match-play situation,” said Kerr, who beat Jeon April 17 long after each player had finished regulation at 7-under-par 209. “The Solheim Cup has really kind of given me a lot of experience, I would say a little bit of an edge.”
Experience may have been an advantage in the playoff, but she just about forfeited any chance at her second LPGA victory when she squandered a four-shot lead on the final six holes of regulation.
Kerr bogeyed four of the six holes, and missed a short par putt that would have won it on No. 18. She closed with a 1-over 73 to match Jeon (69) at 7 under.
Gloria Park (67) finished third at 6 under, and Mi-Hyun Kim (70) was another shot back.
Wind, cold, a bit of rain and a long playoff turned the tournament into a tough test for Kerr. And Jeon, very steady under the pressure of going head-to-head against an accomplished tour player, proved to be an even bigger test than the elements.
“With the exception of the last playoff hole, I think she played better than me,” said Kerr, who made a 3-foot par putt to end it after Jeon hit into trouble on the par-4, 412-yard 16th.
Jeon applied pressure when she made a 15-footer for par on the fourth playoff hole, the 174-yard 17th, but Kerr then knocked in her 6-footer for par to keep the playoff going. After Jeon just missed an 18-foot birdie putt on the sixth extra hole, Kerr could have won it with a 14-footer. But she left the putt about 3 inches short.
Kerr and Jeon matched pars for the first six playoff holes. Jeon finally made the first critical mistake when she hit her second shot on No. 16 over the green.
Her next shot struck a tree limb and dropped short of the green, and she then chipped 35 feet below the hole. Kerr was on the fringe with her second shot and two-putted for the title.
“In this particular playoff, it was getting a lot colder and it was getting windier. I think it was just a matter of survival,” Kerr said.