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Hilary Lunke first qualifier to win title

Portland: Hilary Lunke became the first qualifier to win the US Women’s Open when she sank a 10-foot birdie putt on the last hole to win by one shot after an 18-hole playoff at Pumpkin Ridge on Monday.

The 24-year-old American won her first LPGA Tour title after finishing with a one-under-par 70 in a three-way playoff ahead of compatriots Angela Stanford, who shot an even-par 71, and Kelly Robbins, who had a round of two-over 73.

Lunke had missed a putt of similar length on Sunday that would have given her the title after 72 holes. Instead, she ended regulation play at one-under par, tied with Robbins and playing partner Stanford at the Witch Hollow course.

The trio got off to a slow start on Monday with Lunke making par for a lead she never relinquished as the other two players recorded bogeys on the first hole.

Lunke had two birdies and a bogey to finish the front nine two ahead of Robbins and four in front of Stanford. On the back nine Robbins came within a shot after a birdie at the 10th but then lost momentum, making bogey and double bogey on the 13th.

Stanford had three birdies in the first five holes of the back nine to draw even with Lunke. However, a bogey at the 17th put the pressure on. All three players then birdied the last hole with Lunke staying calm enough to sink the winning putt.

“I kind of switched into match play mode once we were up by 17 green and I knew she was making it and I was preparing to make it on top of her,” Lunke said of the final two holes.

“I was just trying to put a good roll on it and hopefully it would go in, and if it didn’t I was prepared to go extra holes.”

Robbins, who has not won since 1999 and has only one major title, the 1995 LPGA Championship, said despite losing she had been thrilled with the day.

“I was just thrilled to be a part of today and to have a chance,” said Robbin. “It would have been a surprising win the way things have been going for me.

“I was just so pleased with myself Sunday and the way things went for me to get me into the playoff.

“Today, I wasn’t really sharp early and that kind of hurt me and then made a mistake on the back, which, the way those two were playing, you just couldn’t do.”

Lunke, who had won just over $65,000 in her career collected $560,000 for the victory.

He husband Tylar caddied for her during the week and she said the experience had been unforgettable. “It was just a dream out there for us. It was so nice to go through that experience with him. “Who knows what will happen with the rest of my golf career but I will always look back and remember this time that we had together.

“It was just awesome,” Lunke said.

It was the second three-way playoff in the championship’s history. Britain’s Laura Davies beat American Joanne Carner and Ayako Okamoto of Japan to win the title in 1987.

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