Megan Khang in action, (Image: AP)
Megan Khang needed an extra hole to win her first LPGA tournament in 191 career starts.
Andrea Lee agonizingly watched the leaderboard for nearly an hour to see if she would play on the Solheim Cup team for the first time.
It was worth the wait for both.
Khang beat Jin Young Ko with a par in a playoff for her first LPGA win, and Lee rallied to clinch a spot on the U.S. Solheim Cup team at the CPKC Women’s Open on Sunday.
“My game has been trending in the right direction lately and I think this just adds the self-confidence that, hey, I can win out here,” Khang said. “I have won out here now.”
After struggling most of the afternoon, Khang made a 4-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th hole at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club to force the playoff. Ko hit her tee shot on the first playoff hole into the hazard left of the fairway and took a double bogey after a penalty shot.
The 25-year-old Khang hit her second shot to the fringe left of the pin on 18 and two-putted for her first win in eight years on the LPGA Tour, giving her caddie a giant huge after it dropped. She shot 2-over 74 in the final round to finish at 9-under 279 and claimed her long-awaited victory.
“There were definitely nerves,” Khang said. “I was shaking signing my scorecard. I triple-checked that scorecard to make sure everything was correct and we did sign.”
Lee needed to finish 13th to earn one of the seven automatic qualifying spots for the U.S. team. She just missed a birdie on 18 to shoot 70 in the final round, leaving her 11th at 2 under with several players still on the course.
After a nearly hourlong wait, Lee tied for 13th, earning a spot in the Sept. 22-24 matches in Spain.
“I’ve been playing really solid golf, and this course requires hitting fairways and hitting greens, trying to make as many birdies as possible,” Lee said. “I just tried to stay really patient out there and put a solid round together today.”
Lexi Thompson earned the eighth U.S. Solheim Cup spot based on world rankings despite missing the cut by eight shots.
The final spot will come down to former Stanford star Rose Zhang, Angel Yin and Ally Ewing. Zhang and Yin were ahead of Ewing in the world rankings heading into the tournament, but Ewing finished tied for 22nd, while they tied for 41st.
Lilia Vu, winner of the Chevron Championship and AIG Women’s Open, and U.S. Open champion Allisen Corpuz had Solheim Cup spots locked up before the CPKG Women’s Open. So did Khang and Nelly Korda.
Jennifer Kupcho finished tied for 36th and Danielle Kang tied for 59th to round out the top-seven qualifiers. U.S. captain Stacy Lewis will make the final three picks on Monday.
Lee’s finish created a ripple effect on the Solheim Cup standings.
Thompson dropped to eighth on the U.S. Solheim Cup points list, but still made the team as the third-highest ranked American at No. 21 in the world.
Thompson qualified primarily on points earned during a 2022 season that included four runner-up finishes — one at the KMPG Women’s PGA Championship. She’s made the cut twice in nine tournaments this year and, at No. 157 on the LPGA points list, will likely lose her full-time LPGA card for next season.
“Golf is such an individual sport it helps to have someone with experience to help out and interact with the other players,” Thompson told Golf Digest earlier in the week. “I hope to bring strength and determination, too, and being there for the other girls.”
Ko started the day five shots back and rallied to tie Khang with a birdie on No. 16.
Leading by one after Khang’s bogey at 17, Ko hit her tee shot on No. 18 along the tree line to the right, but got up and down from the rough for par to finish at 9 under. Khang then hit her approach shot on the par-4 18th to four feet, giving a short fist pump after sinking the putt to force the playoff.
“I didn’t expect I would play in the playoff, because (I was) five shots behind Megan, but I know if I got lots of birdies it would be chance to win,” Ko said.
Ruoning Yin shot 66 to finish third at 7 under.
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