By TOM LAMARRE
Tiffany Joh didn’t expect her first victory on the Duramed Futures Tour, but she’ll take it just the same.
Joh, from San Diego and UCLA, came from five strokes down after 36 holes and then holed a four-foot birdie putt on the fourth playoff hole to turn back Gerina Mendoza in the ING New England Golf Classic at Wintonbury Hills Golf Course in Bloomfield, Conn.
“Honestly, just getting into the playoff was an accomplishment,” said the 23-year-old Joh, who was the medalist at the 2010 Futures Tour Qualifying Tournament. “This is just completely unexpected because I was five back, and because Gerina is such a great player.
“I was pretty nervous, but in the past, I was really shaky. This time, I was so nervous that I almost got tired.”
Joh, who captured the 2006 and 2008 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links titles, posted a score of 67-65-68–200, 10-under par, and collected $14,000, while Mendoza, of Roswell, N.M., and Texas-El Paso finished at 62-65-73–200.
Libby Smith of Essex Junction, Vt. finished third at 66-70-67–203, while Jane Rah of Torrance and Oklahoma State wound up at 68-71-65–204 to tie for fourth with Jenny Shin, also of Torrance, who came in at 70-66-68–204.
Alison Walshe of the University of Arizona and Westford, Mass., totaled 69-70-67–206 and tied for eighth with Esther Choe of La Quinta, who shot 67-71-68–206, and
Hannah Jun of San Diego and UCLA, who wound up at 71-66-69–206.
Dewi Claire Schreefel of USC and the Netherlands tied for 13th at 72-68-67–207, and Sara Brown of Tucson, Ariz., Michigan State finished at 73-68-67–208 to tie for 15th with Jennifer Song of USC and South Korea, who came in at 68-72-68–208, and Ayaka Kaneko of Pepperdine and Honolulu, who wound up at 72-67-69–208.
Stephanie Louden of Stanford and Las Vegas shot 70-72-68–210 and tied for 25th with Leanne Bowditch of Pepperdine and Australia, who carded a score of 67-72-71–210.
Jessi Gebhardt of Chandler, Ariz., and Oregon State totaled 71-71-70–212 and tied for 33rd with Jennie Lee of Huntington Beach and Duke, who wound up at 70-72-70–212, and Nicole Smith of Riverside and the University of Tennessee, who finished at 70-71-71–212.
Carolina Llano of Pepperdine and Colombia shot 71-72-70–213 and tied for 40th with
Jenny Lee of Simi Valley, who wound up at 74-68-71–213, Kristin Ingram of Pasadena and the University of Arkansas, who finished at 72-69-72–213, and Mo Martin of Altadena and UCLA, who came in at 71-67-75–213.
Sophia Sheridan of Cal and Mexico tied for 51st at 70-73-71–214, while Miriam Nagl of Arizona State and Germany totaled 73-70-72–215 to tie for 56th with Ryann O’Toole of San Clemente and UCLA, who finished at 74-69-72–215, and Sofie Andersson of Cal and Sweden, who wound up at 72-70-73–215.
Selanee Henderson of Apple Valley and UC Irvine shot 74-69-74–217 and tied for 63rd with Veronica Felibert of USC and Venezuela, who totaled 74-69-74–217, while
Lisa Ferrero of Lodi and the University of Texas tied for 68th at 69-74-76–219.
Mendoza started the final round with a five-shot cushion and birdied her first hole to go up by six, the big hitter didn’t give herself many more chances because she hit only five greens in regulation, leading to five bogeys.
“I was good off the tee, but I just wasn’t hitting the greens,” said Mendoza, who claimed her third runner-up finish of the year and fourth on the Futures Tour. “It’s hard to score well when you’re chipping for birdies all day.
“I’m disappointed that I didn’t win, but Tiffany played great.”
Joh got back into the hunt by carding three consecutive birdies through the fourth hole and took the lead with a birdie on No. 14 when Mendoza made bogey on the same hole.
After leading virtually all the way following her eight-under par 62 in round one, Mendoza had to sink a four-foot birdie putt on the final hole of regulation to force the playoff.
Both players made pars on each of the first three playoff holes before Mendoza drove into a hazard on the fourth and made it easy for Joh by carding a bogey. Needing only two putts to win, Joh settled for one.
“I wasn’t completely sure which way it was going to break, so I hit it center,” said Joh, who moved to No. 10 on the Futures Tour money list, with the top 10 at the end of the season earning LPGA Tour playing cards.
“When I think about how many times Gerina has been in contention, I feel sad for her because she deserves it more than me. She’s been in contention more. I was just trying to get into the top 20. Maybe I need to set my goals a little bit higher.”
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