WASHINGTON: Tsubasa Kajitani beat Emilia Migliaccio in a playoff to win the Augusta National Women’s Amateur on Saturday as the Georgia venue prepared to host the Masters.
The 17-year-old from Japan rolled in a five-foot par putt at the first extra hole to win the second edition of the event.
Kajitani carded a final-round 72 and American Migliaccio carded a 70 as both finished at one-over par.
They returned to the 18th tee for the playoff, both finding the fairway. Migliaccio, a 21-year-old who plays college golf at Wake Forest, pushed her approach right of a greenside bunker, her third shot landing in the bunker.
Kajitani, meanwhile, hit her approach shot to the back right of the green, her birdie attempt leaving her a testing putt for par.
“I can’t describe it,” a tearful Kajitani said of her feelings at winning the tournament hosted by the fabled club in Georgia.
“I’ve played a few professional tournaments in Japan, as well as some big tournaments in America, but you can’t really compare with this tournament,” she said.
Kajitani had seemed in control, with a two-shot lead with two holes to play.
But she took a double bogey at the 17th and with Migliaccio in the clubhouse at one-over, Kajitani had to par the last hole of regulation to force a playoff.
She was in a fairway bunker off the tee, laid up and made par.
Six players — Pauline Roussin-Bouchard, Rachel Heck, Emma Spitz, Karen Fredgaard and second-round co-leaders Ingrid Lindblad and Rose Zhang — tied for third place, one stroke behind Kajitani and Migliaccio.
Kajitani, ranked 26th in the world amateur rankings, entered the final round tied for fifth place.
After an early bogey at the par-three fourth she birdied eight, 14 and 15 before disaster struck at 17.
Encouraged by caddie Chad Lamsback, she parred the last hole of regulation to tie Migliaccio, then had to wait for the final three groups to finish before the playoff began.
“To be honest, when I came to the States, I didn’t expect that I’m going to win the tournament,” Kajitani said. “And then day-by-day I have been confident and then I won the tournament.”
Migliaccio, the world’s 15th-ranked amateur, was pleased with her day, but found the playoff defeat a bitter pill to swallow.
“It’s hard to bogey and lose to a par,” she said. “If they birdie, it’s like, well, did everything I could.
“But I wanted to hit a better shot and felt good over the club and was happy to be in the fairway but just didn’t work out.”