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Gaby Lopez wins LPGA tournament in Florida in 7-hole playoff

Gaby Lopez ran in a 30-foot putt for birdie Monday to defeat Nasa Hataoka in a seven-hole playoff that took an additional day to complete on the Diamond Hotels Event of Champions

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. —
Having already battled for 5 further holes into darkness with out generating a champion an afternoon previous, Gaby Lopez and Nasa Hataoka confirmed as much as paintings at eight a.m., identical to common other folks.

The early warning call and additional golfing was once price it for Lopez, who rolled in a 30-foot putt for birdie to be successful at the 7th playoff gap Monday and seize the season-opening Diamond Hotels Event of Champions.

It was once the second one LPGA name for Lopez, who 14 months in the past turned into simplest the second one participant from Mexico to win on excursion, becoming a member of International Golfing Corridor of Repute member Lorena Ochoa. She earned $180,000 for the victory.

The elite box featured 26 LPGA event champions who had gained tournaments within the final two seasons.

This was once the LPGA’s fourth-longest playoff. The longest was once 10 holes on the 1972 Corpus Christi Civitan Open, the place Jo Ann Prentice beat Corridor of Famers Sandra Palmer and Kathy Whitworth.

Lopez and Hataoka wound up enjoying the tricky 197-yard 18th gap at Tranquilo Golfing Membership at 4 Seasons Golfing and Sports activities Membership Orlando 8 occasions over two days, with two birdies from Lopez the adaptation.

Lopez birdied from 18 toes on her ultimate gap of legislation Sunday to earn a place in a playoff along Hataoka and Inbee Park, who was once eradicated at the 3rd playoff gap.

Hataoka, who had made a deft up-and-down from 30 yards for par to increase the playoff to a 7th gap as play resumed Monday, had the threshold at the ultimate gap after hitting a Four-hybrid that rode a slope alongside the correct facet of the fairway and curled to 12 toes from the opening.

However Lopez, whose ball slightly made the hanging floor, went first, her putt up the hill slowing and tumbling into the cup on its final rotation. Hataoka, ranked 6th on the earth, made a deficient stroke, pulling her birdie strive left.

After every week of heat Florida climate, temperatures within the mid-40s greeted the ladies Monday and morning shadows lined the fairway as they returned to the 18th. The par three is lengthy and difficult, with a deep bunker in entrance and rocks and water guarding the left facet of the fairway. Avid gamers require hybrids and fairway metals to achieve the fairway. There have been simplest six birdies overall made at the gap all week; Lopez owned 3 of them.

Hataoka had loved her week enjoying along athletes and celebrities — the 49-player superstar department was once gained by means of pitcher and Corridor of Famer John Smoltz. However the drive amped up as soon as the playoff started.

“Being a star pro-am, I assumed I used to be going to only revel in it and feature a laugh. However then with the ability to be within the ultimate and do the playoff, that was once a in point of fact just right enjoy, and I believe this might lend a hand me one day,” stated Hataoka, whose 2020 targets come with a No. 1 score and an Olympic gold medal in her house nation of Japan this summer season. “When the tournaments begin to get tougher and tougher, it is going to be a just right lesson for me.”

Lopez charged into competition with a Five-under 66 Sunday, and performed with self assurance within the playoff. She entered the week ranked 56th however now has momentum to begin her 5th LPGA season. In her first LPGA victory, the 2018 Blue Bay LPGA Championship in China, she had the lead and was once grouped with the arena’s best two avid gamers on the time, Ariya Jutanugarn and Solar Hyun Park. This time, victory took a unique path.

“I proved to myself that I will be able to win in any state of affairs,” Lopez stated. “My first win was once within the lead. My 2nd win was once coming from at the back of. And with the ability to put all the ones moments in combination and recall them whilst I’m strolling at the fairway right here and check out to stick affected person. That’s what I proved to myself probably the most, my skill to stick within the second.”

Park, in the hunt for her 20th LPGA victory, was once ousted at the playoff’s 3rd gap when her tee shot hit off rocks alongside the left of the fairway and bounded into water. Park, Lopez and Hataoka completed 72 holes at 13-under 271.

The victory qualifies Lopez for the 2021 Event of Champions. She was once requested if she have been relieved she shouldn’t have to look Tranquilo’s well-worn 18th gap for any other 12 months.

“No longer in point of fact. I imply, I do have a sense for this gap,” Lopez stated. “I adore it. It was once an excellent quantity for me the day past, to be truthful.”

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