Gladstone, NJ – Azahara Munoz held off Candie Kung 2 & 1 on Sunday to win the Sybase Match Play Championship.
The win was the first on the LPGA Tour for Munoz, but it wasn't without controversy.
In the semifinals, Munoz missed a par putt on the 12th to seemingly fall 3- down to Morgan Pressel. However, on the 13th tee, Pressel was told she had taken too much time after being warned for slow play, and the result was loss of hole.
Instead of being 3-up, Pressel was just 1-up. Pressel later told rules officials that she thought Munoz grounded her putter in her putting line on the 15th green.
Officials reviewed the action and found it to be inconclusive. Munoz won three holes in a row from the 15th to hand Pressel a 2 & 1 defeat after no penalty was given.
Afterwards, there seemed to be no hard feeling between the players as they shared a hug on the range prior to the final matches, and Pressel also went out to congratulate Munoz when she won the final match as well.
"She's such a good friend. As I told you, everything is going to be fine. She's such a good person and a good friend of mine, so I'm happy she was here and it really meant a lot," Munoz said of Pressel in a greenside interview after winning the final match.
Kung beat Vicky Hurst by a similar 2 & 1 margin to reach the final.
Munoz and Kung traded wins on the first two holes. Kung made par on No. 7 to grab a 1-up lead. However, she stumbled to a bogey on the ninth to fall back to all-square.
Around the turn, Munoz birdied the par-five 11th from three feet out to grab the lead. She rolled in a three-foot par putt on the next hole to go 2-up as Kung stumbled to a bogey.
Munoz faltered to a bogey on 14 to cut her lead to 1-up. At the par-three 16th, Kung's tee shot bounced off a sprinkler head, then a cart path and into deep rough.
She blasted across the green and her ball stopped against the collar of the rough after hitting a camera. She hit a poor chip shot, then two-putted for double-bogey.
Munoz also missed the green with her tee shot. She chipped on then two-putted for bogey to go 2-up with two to go.
At the 17th, Munoz two-putted for par from about 15 feet out. Kung had eight feet for birdie to extend the match, but she missed the putt to the right.
Munoz claimed her first tour victory with four wins in an eight-hole stretch on the back nine.
As long as the day was for the players, Munoz made it through with a heavy heart. Her family pushed her to come to the event after the recent death of her grandmother.
"I'm so happy. I almost didn't come to this tournament, but I came for my grandmom, I play for my grandmom so this is for her," Munoz said through tears in a televised interview. "I didn't want to leave because they made me come, but my parents, my sister and my brother told me that she wanted to be here, and just to come and play for her."
Kung had never made it past the second round in her two previous appearances at this event.
"It is a pretty long day. It's kind of blurry right now for me for the whole round, but I'm glad that I pushed everything to the 17th hole," said Kung, who beat world No. 1 Yani Tseng in the third round. "Unfortunately, I hit a couple of bad shots out there, wasn't able to recover, and that kind of got me to where I am."
Pressel beat Hurst 2 & 1 in the consolation match.
"I played well this afternoon. Vicky played great too. We had a very good match," Pressel said in a TV interview. "It was a crazy day and I'm happy that it's over."
NOTES: Munoz earned $375,000 for the victory...All four players that competed today posted their best finish in this event...Kung was denied her fifth LPGA Tour win and first since the 2008 season...After a week off, the tour is back in New Jersey for the ShopRite LPGA Classic, where Brittany Lincicome will defend her title.