LAFAYETTE, La., April 20, 2008 - South Korean rookie M.J. Hur forced a playoff with a birdie on the 18th hole and outlasted Vicky Hurst on the ensuing green to claim a title at the third annual Louisiana Pelican Classic on Sunday.
Hur, a product of Seoul, South Korea, caught fire on the back nine with three consecutive birdies and the 18-year old earned her first professional win to the tune of an $11,900 paycheck. She made up a four-stroke deficit to Hurst with 27 putts and scored six birdies on the day.
It was reminiscent of the season-opening Bright House Networks Open in Lakeland, Fla., when Sunny Oh of Manhattan Beach, Calif., clipped runner-up Kim Welch of Sacramento, Calif., in a playoff.
Hur made birdie on her last hole to pull even with Hurst at 10-under par 206 for the tournament and ended regulation at 4-under-par 68 for the day. In the playoff, Hurst's second shot on the par-4 18th hole landed two feet off the top of the fringe and set her up with a downhill putt.
Hur faced an uphill putt and left it short on a chance for birdie but was able to salvage par. Hurst left her par putt just inches wide of the cup and Hur claimed the win.
"My putting was really good and part of the reason I had the score today," Hur said. "I wasn't nervous in the playoff but I was nervous on 17 and 18. I didn't have any feelings at the time."
It was a career-low round of 68 for Hur, who was a member of the Korea National Team in 2006. She promised to buy her father a new belt and some shoes with her newfound earnings.
Hur was able to make a critical par with the help of her favorite club on the 17th hole to prevent Hurst from clinching the win.
"I was really nervous at the time and I tried to get my practice rhythm," Hur said. "I feel really happy because the 8-iron is my lucky club. I really like that club."
Fellow South Korean and former Duramed FUTURES Tour alum, Song-Hee Kim gave Hur her personal yardage book two weeks before coming to Lafayette. Kim, now on the LPGA Tour, won the first edition of the Louisiana Pelican Classic in 2006 by one stroke.
"She has really good course management skills," Hur said of Kim. "I have my dream and I want to go to the LPGA Tour."
Hur and Hurst met in the U.S. Women's Amateur Championship last year and Hur said that Hurst gave her all she could handle.
"She (Hurst) has a really good driver shot," Hur said. "She's so long."
Hurst, of Melbourne, Fla., made bogey on her first hole, but offset it with a birdie in front of the crowd at nine. She was steady on the back with nine pars, but no birdies after coming off a tournament-record 8-under par 64 in second-round play on Saturday.
For the 2007 AJGA Rolex Player of the Year, it was still just her third tournament since turning pro and she improved on an 11th-place performance at the AMERICAN SYSTEMS Invitational just two weeks ago in Daytona Beach.
"I wasn't playing as good as yesterday," Hurst said. "I was a little nervous, but now that I've experienced being in this position, maybe it will be a little easier now."
Onnarin Sattayabanphot, Leanna Wicks and Kelly Lagedrost each fired rounds of 67 (-5) and helped themselves in the final standings, moving up to third, fourth and a tie for fifth, respectively.
Nari Kim of Seoul, South Korea, the first-day leader at the AMERICAN SYSTEMS Invitational, closed her tournament with a flurry, finishing in a tie for fifth and carding a round of 4-under par to finish with a 210 (-6) for the event.
The Duramed FUTURES Tour continues its Southern Swing next week in McAllen, Texas, for the Jalapeno Golf Classic at the Palm View Golf Course.
For real-time scoring and more information, visit www.duramedfuturestour.com.
Weather: Mostly sunny with a high temperature of 83 degrees and winds blowing S at 8-10 mph.
photos Janos Schmidt