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An Exciting End to the Last Corning Classic

by Jeff Skinner

The LPGA’s Corning Classic proved to be one of the most exciting tournaments of the year for the ladies tour. There were plenty of records tied or broken, a few aces, very low scores, a Sunday back nine charge from a “hometown” favorite and a putt on the very last hole to decide the winner. The Corning Classic was a great success and all the players expressed sadness that this will be the last.

Yani Tseng hung on to take the victory, her first since last year’s McDonald’s LPGA Championship. The likable twenty year old shot 67 in her final round and played aggressively on her back nine. “I think I was 2 under on the first nine, and I felt like I was playing too safe on the front nine,” she said. “So on the back nine, me and my caddie were saying just to be aggressive on the back nine. Maybe just go for it and see how it works and just don’t (worry about it) too much.” True to her word, she hit driver at the par four 16th and drove it on the green, leaving a twelve foot eagle putt. She settled for birdie to get to -20. She carried that momentum onto 17 and carded another bird to get to -21. She then had to wait for Soo-Yun Kang to finish.

Kang also had birdied 16 to get to -21 but a par on 17 left her needing a par on 18 to force a playoff. She was on in regulation and put her first putt three and a half feet past the hole. She missed it to the right and lost her chance for a playoff. She admitted to being a little nervous as she putted on eighteen. It was her putter that cost her the win, as she missed a similar putt on the 13th hole for birdie.

Paula Creamer staged her own charge on the back nine shooting 31 with birdies on the last three holes and four of the last five. Creamer’s 91 year old grandfather lives locally and the Corning fans treat her as a “Hometown Favorite.” She got the largest galleries all week and did not disappoint the fans on the final hole. She sunk a long 60 foot, uphill putt on 18 to get to -20, take the lead in the clubhouse and give the fans a huge charge at the finish. Unfortunately for Paula, Tseng still had a few holes remaining.

Tseng took home $225,000 for her win and tears of joy trickled down her cheeks as she realized she had won. She expressed gratitude and sadness at the passing of the corning Classic. “…thanks to Corning for putting on such a great tournament for 31 years…I wish I could come back here to visit the town, and I’ll be missing you a lot.”

It is amazing that a community the size of Corning can have such a large impact on the LPGA Tour and its local surroundings. For 31 years the fans and volunteers have put on a very well run and popular tournament. The effect on the community goes deeper than the $400 million in positive economic impact it brought to the area. This event has been embraced by the people of Corning with over 37,000 volunteers over the years. Charity is what this event is about and the Corning has raised over $5.3 million for charity during its long run. It is sad to see it go. Maybe when this recession turns around the LPGA can return to one of its most devoted communities.

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