Final playoff hole stretches LPGA tournament into nail-biter

Some of the finest female golfers in the world squared off against the elements and each other during the 2017 LPGA Volunteers of America Texas Shootout, hosted at the Las Colinas Country Club April 26 – 30.

Formerly known as the North Texas LPGA Shootout, this year marked the fifth anniversary of the tournament, which is the only LPGA tournament in the state of Texas. The Texas Shootout is unique in that it also allows amateur players to compete with professionals through a qualifier event. This year, four amateur players were chosen to compete in the tournament instead of the usual two. 

Kathy Whitworth, a former player on the LPGA tour, feels having the tour return to Texas has been a boon for golf fans as well as for some of the players.

“We used to have a lot of tournaments in Texas over the years, so I was just really thrilled when this was arranged and [the LPGA] came back to Dallas,” she said. “Dallas was always a big favorite, and we have a lot of fans in this area. Women’s golf has just grown, and we have a contingent of Texas players, which makes it fun for them to come here, because they do have their fans and followers, as well as everybody else.”

Out of 144 athletes, only the top 53 golfers advanced to the final round of play on Sunday, April 30, a round which proved to be a windy one. Very few golfers were able to shoot under par due in part due to the heavy winds, with some gusts hitting nearly 40 miles per hour.

In the end, the game came down to Haru Nomura of Japan and Christie Kerr of Miami, Florida. Both women were tied at the end of regulation play with a score of 76, and faced off on a playoff hole.

The playoff turned into a marathon, lasting nearly two hours as both women scored par on the 18th hole five times in a row. Finally, the sixth time was the charm for Nomura, who pulled ahead of Kerr to win the tournament and her third LPGA title.

Nomura was very happy with her win, even more so because of the support of her fellow golfers cheering her on from the sidelines.

“I’m very happy the players are supporting me and feel like I have to win this one really and I did it,” Nomura said. “I like windy and tough conditions, from fairway to green. I love it.”

Kerr, who ended up finishing second overall, said that even though she made a strong comeback, it was still a difficult week for her.

“It was a tough day. I had a great comeback to even be able to get into the playoff,” Kerr said. “I had her on that second playoff hole when I was behind the green there, and I just made an error, and you can’t do that in playoffs. You have to take advantage of when you have the chance, and I didn’t do that, so I lost.”

Rounding out the top 5 were third place winner Jessica Korda of Bradenton, Florida, Sung Hyun Park of Korea in fourth and Eun-HeeJi of Korea in fifth.

About the Author

Ariel Graham

Ariel Graham is a freelance reporter and blogger. She graduated from Texas Tech University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Electronic Media & Communication in December of 2011. Prior to moving to Dallas, she worked for AM 790 KFYO in Lubbock, Texas, as a commercial voiceover actress, board operator, and producer for “Lubbock’s First News” & “The Chad Hasty Show.” She also wrote a weekly technology blog “The Geek Girl Report,” as well as various news stories and podcasts for the station. She is currently working on her new blog “Super Geek Girl Report,” and in her free time, she enjoys drawing, video editing, and playing video games.