Tournament to continue Monday
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- The first indication that Sunday's final round of the Kingsmill Championship would not be a normal match-play stare-down came when Paula Creamer hit a shot into the entrance of a tunnel. Hours later, Creamer and Jiyai Shin were engaged in golf's version of "Groundhog Day" as they bobbed and weaved through eight bizarre playoff holes, all staged at No. 18.
When it was finally over, it wasn't over. After matching each other par-for-par on each extra hole, there wasn't enough light to play on. They will return to the River Course at Kingsmill Resort at 9 a.m. on Monday to decide it once and for all. This time they will start on No. 16.
On a day more memorable for its calamity than artistry, Creamer could have won it on the final hole of regulation but badly missed a 4-foot par putt. On the first playoff hole, Shin had a chance to win but left a 6-foot birdie putt short.
Both players are battling victory droughts and played like it. Creamer hasn't won in 26 months, Shin in 22.
"I know winning is always tough but not like this tough," Shin joked.
On one of the playoff holes, both players hit into greenside bunkers but saved par -- Creamer with a clutch 5-footer. Other than that, the sudden-death session devolved into anti-climax as it was fairways, greens, two-putt, back in the cart. Even Creamer sounded bored by the repetition.
"It's tough to make a birdie with that back pin location," Creamer said. "It's unfortunate that we couldn't change the pin or do something a little bit different."
As Sunday's playoff continued, the intensity waned, the huge crowd thinned out, the shadows lengthened and finally the sun disappeared behind the James River. After the last few playoff holes, the fans who remained urged play to continue, cheering lustily each time the players got back into golf carts for the ride back to the 18th tee.
It was finally called at 7:45, nearly eight hours after their 11:50 a.m. tee time. By then, Creamer and Shin had missed the charter plane taking players to the British Women's Open, this year's final major.
"It wasn't like we were thinking British, British, British," Creamer said. "But yeah, we want to get there, too."
The longest playoff in LPGA history lasted 10 holes and was among three players -- Kathy Whitworth, Sandra Palmer and Jo Ann Prentice -- 40 years ago in Corpus Christi, Texas.
After setting the 54-hole tournament record at 16-under par to grab a two-shot lead over Shin, Creamer played the final round in even par. Shin birdied Nos. 15 and 16 to get to 16 under, but Creamer maintained her one-shot lead with a 10-foot birdie putt at No. 16. But she gave it back on No. 18 with her three-putt bogey. Meanwhile, Shin made the second of her 10 straight pars on the same hole.
"First couple of holes of the playoff I was really, really nervous," said Shin, who could be seen often holding her midsection and breathing deeply to relieve tension. "But after that I started getting comfortable with it, the playoff. It's just like so weird."
Sunday at Kingsmill was weird indeed.