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Jennifer Kupcho wins three-woman playoff at Meijer LPGA Classic

JENNIFER Kupcho tapped in for birdie on the second playoff hole to defeat Ireland’s Leona Maguire and world No. 2 Nelly Korda and win the Meijer Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Classic on Sunday in Belmont, MI.

The trio went to a playoff, replaying the par-5 18th hole, after all three carded 18-under-par 270 for the week at Blythefield Country Club. Kupcho and Maguire birdied the first playoff hole to knock out Korda and keep going.

The second time down, after Kupcho two-putted for birdie, Maguire watched her 3-foot birdie putt lip out, ceding the victory to Kupcho.

“I thought she was going to make it,” Kupcho said. “When she hit it by the hole and I still had to putt from the fringe, I thought to myself, ‘That’s not a gimme,’ because I was just shaking and missed essentially a same-length putt. But then once I made the tap-in, I mean, I was already looking at the rules official to go to the next hole, which was No. 4. I thought she was in.”

It marked Kupcho’s second victory of the year after she earned her maiden LPGA Tour title at the Chevron Championship, the first major of the season.

“I’ve been really close, but, I mean, this leaderboard was stacked,” Kupcho said. “I think that’s what I’m most proud of, is the players that were up there with me. It was a very close battle to the end, and I’m proud of it.”

Kupcho led after the first and second rounds before Korda slipped past her to take the 54-hole lead. On Sunday, Kupcho shot a 1-under 71 with a colorful card that included an eagle, a double bogey, three birdies and two bogeys.

Korda, aiming to defend her title at this event, managed an even-par 72. This week was her second tournament back after missing four months to recover from a blood clot in her arm.

“Unfortunately, sometimes you have it and sometimes you don’t,” Korda said. “If you told me I think three, four months ago when I was in the ER that I would be here, I would be extremely happy.”

Maguire joined the party with her fourth straight round in the 60s, a 7-under 65 with eight birdies and just one bogey. She birdied No. 18 to set herself up for playoff participation.

Lydia Ko of New Zealand shot a 68 Sunday and finished alone in fourth at 17-under 271. Tying for fifth at 16 under were Nelly Korda’s sister — Jessica Korda (67) — Carlota Ciganda of Spain (67), Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand (68) and Lexi Thompson (70).

It was the final tour stop before next week’s major, the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Nelly Korda is the defending champion. — Reuters

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