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Kongkraphan endures three playoff holes to notch Symetra Tour victory

  • P.K. Kongkraphan holds up the ball she just sank in the third sudden death playoff against Michelle Shin at the Northeast Delta Dental International at Beaver Meadow in Concord on Sunday July 21, 2013.  <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    P.K. Kongkraphan holds up the ball she just sank in the third sudden death playoff against Michelle Shin at the Northeast Delta Dental International at Beaver Meadow in Concord on Sunday July 21, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Michelle Shin watches after teeing off during the Northeast Delta Dental International on Sunday, July 21, 2013 in Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Michelle Shin watches after teeing off during the Northeast Delta Dental International on Sunday, July 21, 2013 in Concord.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • P.K. Kongkraphan chips on to the green at the 18th hole during her match against Kim Kaufman and Christine Song at the Northeast Delta Dental International on Sunday, July 21, 2013 in Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    P.K. Kongkraphan chips on to the green at the 18th hole during her match against Kim Kaufman and Christine Song at the Northeast Delta Dental International on Sunday, July 21, 2013 in Concord.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Michelle Shin watches hitting her ball from the fairway during the Northeast Delta Dental International on Sunday, July 21, 2013 in Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Michelle Shin watches hitting her ball from the fairway during the Northeast Delta Dental International on Sunday, July 21, 2013 in Concord.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • P.K. Kongkraphan reacts after winning her match against Kim Kaufman and Christine Song at the Northeast Delta Dental International on Sunday, July 21, 2013 in Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    P.K. Kongkraphan reacts after winning her match against Kim Kaufman and Christine Song at the Northeast Delta Dental International on Sunday, July 21, 2013 in Concord.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Michelle Shin and P.K. Kongkraphan hugs after the end of their triple sudden death playoff on Sunday, July 21, 2013 at the Northeast Delta Dental International at Beaver Meadow in Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Michelle Shin and P.K. Kongkraphan hugs after the end of their triple sudden death playoff on Sunday, July 21, 2013 at the Northeast Delta Dental International at Beaver Meadow in Concord.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • P.K. Kongkraphan holds up the ball she just sank in the third sudden death playoff against Michelle Shin at the Northeast Delta Dental International at Beaver Meadow in Concord on Sunday July 21, 2013.  <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Michelle Shin watches after teeing off during the Northeast Delta Dental International on Sunday, July 21, 2013 in Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • P.K. Kongkraphan chips on to the green at the 18th hole during her match against Kim Kaufman and Christine Song at the Northeast Delta Dental International on Sunday, July 21, 2013 in Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Michelle Shin watches hitting her ball from the fairway during the Northeast Delta Dental International on Sunday, July 21, 2013 in Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • P.K. Kongkraphan reacts after winning her match against Kim Kaufman and Christine Song at the Northeast Delta Dental International on Sunday, July 21, 2013 in Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Michelle Shin and P.K. Kongkraphan hugs after the end of their triple sudden death playoff on Sunday, July 21, 2013 at the Northeast Delta Dental International at Beaver Meadow in Concord. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

P.K. Kongkraphan’s wedges never wavered. With the Northeast Delta Dental New Hampshire International boiling down to a sudden-death playoff with Michelle Shin, Kongkraphan had to hit approach after approach, with the pressure only building on each one.

She stuck the first one. She stuck another. And another. The putter wasn’t as obedient, but it did just enough to lift the Thailand native to a victory over Shin on the third playoff hole at Beaver Meadow Golf Course.

“I feel glad today. I’m very happy,” said Kongkraphan, who finished at 9 under and earned her first career win on the tour. “I didn’t make a putt. I missed many tee shots today … but I made my wedge shots.”

Kongkraphan entered the day with a one-shot lead, but had to play extra thanks to a charge from Shin, who shot a 5-under 67 and knotted the score late on the back nine after entering the round four shots off the pace. The two entered a playoff, which meant playing the 18th hole until there was a winner.

It took a while, as the two waged a battle of precision. Both found the fairway with their tee shots, and both stuck their approach shots four feet from the pin. Kongkraphan appeared to let the tournament slip away when her putt lipped out, but she got a reprieve when Shin’s didn’t fall, either. The two played the hole the same way on the second playoff attempt, as Shin landed her pitching wedge three feet away, Kongkraphan did the same with her 54-degree wedge from the first playoff hole and both made their short putts.

Shin’s accuracy slipped on the third playoff try, as her drive found the right rough and her 9-iron settled 12 feet away. Kongkraphan, meanwhile, remained methodical, putting her third straight 5-wood of the playoff in the fairway and landing her third straight 54-degree wedge three feet from the pin.

“I played exactly the same yardage. The tee shot I hit 5-wood three times, and the second shot I hit (from) 105 yards three times,” she said. “This week, my gap wedge was perfect. It’s awesome.”

Shin’s birdie putt missed just right, and she missed the follow-up as well for a bogey. The gaffe proved costly, as Kongkraphan missed her birdie putt right but was able to tap in for the win.

“I kind of pushed my drive a little, but my approach shot was okay, it was a makeable birdie putt,” Shin said. “Then, you saw (what happened).”

Shin was in good spirits after the win, which made sense considering the rally she staged to even force the extra holes. She was tied for eighth after two rounds, but while names at the top of the leaderboard fell off the pace, Shin took off. She birdied the first, fourth and seventh holes, and after a bogey on 10, birdied 11, 13 and 14 to even up the score and put the pressure squarely on Kongkraphan.

“This course is very scoreable. There are a lot of birdies out here if you have good approach shots,” Shin said. “I just thought about having solid shots into the green. … It was just all about making those opportunities, and I was converting them all. My putting was on today.”

Kongkraphan was up to the challenge. Her 1-under 71 didn’t have the luster of her two 68s to open the tournament, but she never made the mistake that would open the door for Shin. She played the back nine at 1 under with a birdie on 12, and she had a clutch par save on the 18th hole when she pitched from near a bunker on the right to within five feet and made the putt.

“I (was) more comfortable on the course. I was a little bit nervous because it was my first time in the leader group and I (was) the leader,” she said. “I just played like I (have been). If I didn’t win, it’s okay. I just did my best.”

Shin wasn’t the only golfer making a late charge on a hot and humid afternoon. Marina Alex and Jackie Stoelting both began the day tied for 15th, but shot a pair of 66s to finish tied for third at 8 under. Stoelting had seven birdies during the day, all coming after a bogey on the second hole, while Alex had eight, including four on the final eight holes.

Hannah Jun and Isabelle Boineau were tied for fifth at 6 under. Jun birdied four holes en route to a 3-under 69, while Boineau had four birdies but also stumbled to four bogeys and finished with an even-par 72.

(Drew Bonifant can be reached at 369-3340 or at abonifant@cmonitor.com, or via Twitter @dbonifant.)

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