Pettersen downs Choi in LPGA playoff

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68

Norway’s Suzann Pettersen overcame a nine-stroke deficit then defeated South Korean Na Yeon Choi at the first playoff hole Sunday to win the LPGA Safeway Classic. Pettersen started the final round of the 54-hole tournament nine off the overnight lead held by Choi but carded a seven-under par 64 for a total of 207. Choi, who could have won with a par at the final hole of regulation play, closed with a bogey for a two-over 73 that also left her on six-under 207. They returned to the par-four 18th for the playoff, and Choi’s second shot went into the water right of the green. She missed a bogey putt before Pettersen drained her winning shot. Pettersen, who won the Ladies’ European Tour’s Ladies Irish Open at Killeen Castle on August 7, captured her second LPGA title of the year and her eighth overall. Her final round included five birdies and an eagle at the 10th, with no bogeys. With the win she jumps to number two in the world rankings behind Taiwan’s Yani Tseng. “I didn’t really expect this when I when I woke up this morning nine strokes back,” Pettersen said. “I guess when you’re on a roll, you’re on a roll.” Despite her recent successes, Pettersen said her mind hasn’t been all on golf of late. She recently lost a close family friend in a skydiving accident, and she was stunned by the July 22 attacks in Norway that left 77 people dead. Norway held an emotional commemoration on Sunday for the victims of the attacks, in which Anders Behring Breivik bombed Oslo’s government quarter before gunning down participants at an island youth camp. “It makes you realize life’s not all about golf,” Pettersen said. “It makes you put things in perspective.” Choi started the day with a three-shot lead over Stacy Lewis but endured a difficult day. She bogeyed the second, sixth and ninth before her first birdie of the day at the par-five 10th. Her third birdie of the day at the par-four 17th gave her a one-shot lead heading to the final hole, but after missing the green she failed to get up and down for par. South Korea’s Hee Young Park, still seeking a first LPGA win, carded a 67 and finished third on 208. American Paula Creamer carded a 68 for 209. For Choi it was a second straight runner-up finish at Pumpkin Ridge. Last year she finished tied for second, two strokes behind Japan’s Ai Miyazato. Choi claimed her sixth top-10 finish of the year, but hasn’t won an LPGA title yet in 2011 after two victories last season.