Sunday, 8 January 2012
It was her first tournament in Australia and it was certainly a memorable one after Frenchwoman Joanna Klatten recorded her first professional victory at the Women's Victorian Open.
Klatten was sitting in the Spring Valley Golf Club bar celebrating what she thought was her first professional win.
But, as she threw back a beer with her Ladies European Tour mates with nearest rival South Korean Haeji Kang trailing by two halfway up the par-four 18th, a glass of water suddenly became urgent.
Kang, the highest ranked player in the field holed a 98m sand wedge from the right rough for eagle to force what was an unlikely playoff.
Klatten, 26, hurriedly went looking for her bag and caddie and headed to the practice range.
On the first playoff hole, Klatten holed a 15-foot putt for par to force them back to the 18th for more sudden death. Both players hit the 18th in regulation and Klatten just missed her birdie putt and had a tap in for par, Kang left herself a testing downhill 1 metre par putt. The pressure got to the South Korean and she missed the putt, which saw Klatten begin to celebrate for real.
"They handed a beer to me and supposed it was over, but I did tell them it was not over, she could hole the shot," Klatten said.
"But I still had it. So when she holed the shot, I don't drink, so one beer got me a little bit tipsy. I was a little bit worried. I went to hit some balls and I tried to chug as much water as I could to sober up."
"It's very special, especially the way it happened. Very, very special. And my first time in Australia, even more special, I love Australia."
Klatten, of Paris, fired a bogey free five-under-par 68 including three birdies and an eagle, meaning she played her final 25 holes in an unbelievable 11-under par, after taking an eight on the par-three 10th on Saturday.
"I like the last holes here, I've never done that," she said with a grin.
Kang and overnight leader Rebecca Flood had scrapped for the lead for much of the day until Klatten finished with eagle-birdie-birdie in regulation to vault clear.
Kang had mixed emotions after her spectacular eagle still left her runner-up. "It's disappointing, but I'm OK. I'm happy with the result -- I'm here to check my golf before the Australian Open and I know how I'm doing."
Flood was disappointed not to have broken through for her first maiden professional victory, but was delighted to have contended for so long and finished outright third at 5-under par.
"The nerves were there, but I just made two soft bogeys on one and two, then couldn't get the putter going."
New South Wales’ Rachel Bailey and West Australian Kristie Smith each fired seven-under 66s to better Flood's Saturday 67 as the new course record.
Bailey finished tied for fifth with New South Wales' Frances Bondad (70) at four-under par.
Su Hyun Oh carded a final round of 71 to finish at three-under and tied for sixth to take out the leading amateur title.
Scott Arnold won the mens version of the Victorian Open in this unique format beating Kurt Barnes by one shot.
Source: LET, powered by the Golfblogger Network