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Taiwanese golfer reaches LPGA Match Play final before stumbling

2012/05/21 14:26:32

Taipei, May 21 (CNA) Taiwanese golfer Candie Kung may have lost to Spain's Azahara Munoz 2 and 1 in Sunday's final of the LPGA Sybase Match Play Championship in Gladstone, New Jersey, but it was still her best finish on the LPGA Tour in four years.

Kung, seeded 49th in the 64-player tournament, was the lowest seeded of the remaining four players entering the semifinals Sunday morning, and she was happy to have reached the final and pushed the 19th-seeded Munoz to the 17th hole.

"It is a pretty long day...I told myself if I'm going to lose, I'm going to lose it on 18 or even further, and I did that. Unfortunately, I hit a couple of bad shots out there, wasn't able to recover, and that kind of got me to where I am," Kung said after finishing in the top-20 on the LPGA Tour for only the second time this year.

Although Kung missed her chance to win for the first time since 2008, she said it felt great to be able to advance as far as she did in a tournament that saw defending champion Suzann Pettersen of Norway and many top Asian players eliminated early.

Kung may have sprung the tournament's biggest upset when she ousted top-ranked compatriot Yani Tseng 3 and 2 in the third round Saturday, and she advanced to the final Sunday afternoon by defeating 37th-seeded American veteran Vicky Hurst 2 and 1 in the morning.

"I got a lot of text messages from my friends saying that I beat Yani. She is a good friend of mine, but it's golf and I'm going to win one day, she's going to win one day. But I'm very happy that I got to where I am this week, got to Sunday," said the 30-year-old golfer.

Kung, who has won only four titles since joining the LPGA Tour in 2002, and only once since capturing three titles in her first full year on tour in 2003, said she has found her game again in recent years after struggling earlier this year.

"I've been playing pretty consistent and I'm feeling pretty good right now. I feel like my game is back to where it's supposed to be. I haven't been playing this consistent like four, five weeks in a row in a while, and I'm happy to see where I'm at right now...and hopefully I'll be able to finish consistently through all year," Kung added.

In Sunday afternoon's final, Kung was 1-up after eight holes, but bogies by Kung on the 9th and 12th holes and a birdie by Munoz on the 11th gave the Spaniard three of the next four holes to go 2-up.

Kung got one back when Munoz bogeyed No. 14, but Munoz returned to 2-up when she scored a bogey and Kung a double bogey on the par-3 16th after both players missed the green off the tee. Munoz clinched the match when both players parred the par-4 17th to claim her first LPGA Tour crown and the US$375,000 first prize.

Kung, who once ranked as high as sixth in the global rankings but is currently 102nd, earned US$225,000 in the US$1.5 million tournament.

(By Lung Po-and and Sofia Wu)