Rolex Rankings No. 27 Azahara Munoz held off Candie Kung to win 2&1 in the final match of the 2012 Sybase Match Play Championship and become a Rolex First-Time Winner on the LPGA Tour. Munoz clinched her first LPGA victory after she halved the 17th hole with Kung. Despite playing with a heavy heart this week after the passing of her grandmother last Sunday, Munoz managed to win six matches to capture the title and the $375,000 first-place prize.
Munoz was the first strike in today’s final match when she pared the first hole to take a 1 up lead over Kung. Kung then responded on the second with a birdie to return the match to all square until a birdie on No. 7 moved her to 1 up over Munoz. The Spaniard then pared the ninth hole to make the turn all square. It wasn’t until the back nine that Munoz took the driver’s seat. After winning Nos. 9, 11 and 12, Munoz looked like she was in the driver’s seat to earn her first LPGA Tour victory. Kung was determined not to go out without a fight as she pared No. 14 to go 2 down with four to play. Munoz then got a routine par on No. 17 to win the match and become this year’s Sybase Match Play Championship.
Munoz never had to play the tricky par-5 18th at Hamilton Farm Golf Club and her largest victory of the week came in the this morning’s semifinal match when she defeated Morgan Pressel 5&4.
The road to Munoz’s match-play title:
Azahara Munoz (19) defeated Lindsey Wright (46), Karrie Webb (6), Jodi Ewart (62), Stacy Lewis (6), Morgan Pressel (15)
Monkey off her back… Munoz’s victory at the Sybase Match Play Championship makes her the second Rolex First-Time Winner this season following Jessica Korda’s win at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
“It feels amazing,” said Munoz of her victory. “You know, I’ve been close a few times, but I just never knew if I was good enough to win. Finally having got it, it feels really good.”
Munoz has come close to winning on the LPGA Tour in the past recording two tied for second finishes at this year’s LPGA LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf and the 2011 Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship. In 2010, Munoz won Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year becoming the first Spaniard to win the award.