WILLIAMSBURG, Va. – Some couldn’t get enough of the well-received return of the LPGA Tour to Kingsmill. As Jiyai Shin and Paula Creamer rode to the 16th tee at the River Course for a rare Monday morning finish, they were surprised to see a gallery.
Unfortunately for Creamer, she ended sudden-death the way she caused it, with a three-putt bogey. Tapping-in on No. 16, Shin made her 11th straight par to conclude the nine-hole playoff and capture the Kingsmill Championship. It is the ninth LPGA win for Shin, ending a 22-month victory drought, extended by left wrist surgery in June.
“I’m surprised this win comes so quick,” Shin, 24, said. “I was thinking it wouldn’t happen for a long time.”
Actually when it finally arrived, it did take a while. The playoff, halted by darkness on Sunday night after the players matched pars for eight straight holes, ultimately ended one hole shy of the LPGA record 10-hole playoff 40 years ago in Corpus Christi, Tex. It does establish a new record for a two-player tie-breaker.
“It took so long, I was really tired,” Shin said. “When I came this morning, still tired.”
Shin adds her name to an illustrious list of LPGA winners at Kingsmill. All seven have captured majors. If Creamer had won, she would have kept that streak intact as well.
Shin, raised in South Korea and now a resident of Atlanta, flies Monday to the Women’s British Open, a tournament she won in 2008 for her first LPGA victory. Players from Asia have captured the last seven LPGA events and the last six majors. The former was a streak most at Kingsmill were anxious to see Creamer end.
“The fans were so great,” Creamer said. “It was almost like a Solheim Cup feeling, hearing ‘U-S-A’ and all that stuff.”
It was a tournament that will be remembered for missed opportunities. Creamer, also a nine-time winner on the LPGA, was on the verge of ending her 26-month drought on the 72nd hole on Sunday, but her bold birdie try caught the lip and rolled four feet past, and she missed the comebacker to send it to a playoff. In sudden-death, Shin missed four putts that would have ended it while Creamer missed three.
On Monday morning, Creamer’s putting woes continued. She again made a strong bid from 30 feet, but it slid five feet by and the 26-year-old from California missed the downhiller for par.
“I thought I hit a great putt, the first one,” Creamer said. “It’s so much faster than the putting green, the practice putting green.”
Creamer will apply the lessons learned when the LPGA returns to Kingsmill next May as the tournament moves to a more optimal date, not that competing with a NASCAR race in Richmond, and college football and the NFL hurt this year’s attendance numbers, which were not available.
“I couldn’t believe how many people were out there,” Creamer said of the surprising Monday crowd. “I [was] like, my goodness gracious, there’s a lot of people out here. That was exciting. That means a lot for everybody to come out and cheer us on.”