Rookie M.J. Hur wins Safeway Classic in playoff

Aug 31, 2009 - 12:38 AM By ANNE M. PETERSON AP Sports Writer

NORTH PLAINS, Ore.(AP) -- Long after she earned her first trophy on the LPGA Tour, shook hands with countless tournament organizers and fielded questions from the media, rookie M.J. Hur returned to the 18th green at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club.

There, the winner of the Safeway Classic signed autographs for about 50 fans.

The South Korean made a 6-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole to beat Suzann Pettersen for her first tour victory.

Hur pumped her fist and broke into giggles after sinking the putt on the par-4 No. 17 hole. Then fellow tour player and best friend Haeji Kang chased the South Korean around the green, trying to douse her with champagne.

Hur's laughter continued unabated when she was finally caught. The tears of joy didn't come until she hugged her mother.

Hur shot a final-round 65, while Pettersen and veteran Michele Redman each shot a 67 to finish at 13-under 203 and set up the playoff.

Redman, whose last tour victory came in 2000, was knocked out when she missed a short putt for par on the first playoff hole, the par-4 No. 18.

Hur, who competed on the Futures Tour last season, had played in 13 previous tournaments this season, making the cut six times.

After a foot-long putt for par to finish her round, she quickly exited the course. But rather than retreat somewhere to watch Pettersen and Redman finish their rounds, she hung out in the clubhouse before heading for the putting green.

Pettersen and Redman each birdied No. 17 to help set up the playoff.

Just 19, Hur wasn't nervous. When asked why not, she shrugged and said, "I don't know."

Pettersen's putt for birdie on the second playoff hole missed to the left, opening the door for Hur to clinch it.

"It was a good putt but it just didn't break, so it's disappointing," she said. "But this is what we work for, and I guess there's next week."

Pettersen had four straight birdies to surge atop the leaderboard and at one point take a three-stroke lead, but a double bogey on the par-5 No. 15 hurt her.

The native of Norway had not won since 2007, when she had five victories. She was a runner-up at the Corona Championship earlier this year and had eight top-10 finishes before Sunday.

"I've hoisted a lot of trophies in my head," she said. "All I can do is just keep plugging along."

While ominous clouds and scattered downpours marked the first two rounds, brilliant sunshine and temperatures in the 80s welcomed the last day. Michelle Wie, Ai Miyazato and Seon Hwa Lee all finished two shots back at 11-under 205.

Wie finished the final round with a 66. Playing her first full season on tour, Wie was runner-up in the season-opening tournament in her home state of Hawaii.

She said she's been gaining confidence, boosted by her performance in the Solheim Cup. The United States defeated the European team in the competition last weekend in Sugar Grove, Ill.

"It's not really pressure," she said about getting her first victory. "I just want it to happen already."

While Wie and several others were playing in the Solheim Cup, Hur was practicing. Her performance on the tour is important, she said, because her father sold his sporting goods business in South Korea to accompany her.

"I practiced a lot," she said. "That's why I had a good score this tournament."

Rookie Anna Nordqvist, who won the LPGA Championship earlier this year, was a one-stroke leader going into Sunday's final round. She shot a 72 to finish at 10 under.

Defending champion Cristie Kerr finished well back at 5 under with a 72.

The tournament was moved this year to the Ghost Creek course at Pumpkin Ridge, about a 20-minute drive west of Portland. It had been played the past 19 years at Columbia Edgewater Country Club, near the Portland International Airport.

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