Khang beats Ko in playoff to win CPKC Women’s Open
VANCOUVER — Megan Khang had patiently waited eight years to win her first LPGA Tour title. Ultimately, an extra hole didn't matter as long as she fulfilled that dream.
Khang beat South Korea's Jin Young Ko in a one-hole playoff on Sunday at the CPKC Women's Open, the Canadian national championship. It was a nerve-racking day for the 25-year-old American, who saw her three-shot lead dwindle away through the fourth round, leading to the climactic do-or-die hole.
"I feel like, you know, being that it was eight years to get the first win, it definitely creeps into your mind, 'am I going to win out here?'" said Khang, with the Women's Open trophy beside her. "That's when a good team comes into play. My parents, my boyfriend, my caddie, they're like 'it's not if you're going to win, it's when.'
"It's about maturing and being more comfortable and confident in my game and focus on the task at hand instead of the results."
That kind of self-reliance has sustained Khang and her family for decades. Her parents emigrated from Laos to the United States during the Vietnam War when they were children. As Khang excelled as a junior golfer, her father realized it could lead to a university scholarship and more opportunities.
"I thought about going to college, but I just turned pro right after high school," said Khang, who hopes to be named to the United States' Solheim Cup team on Monday. "We're truly living the American dream and I owe everything to them for sacrificing and believing in me and my dad. This is a family win."
Khang had a three-shot lead over Sei Young Kim, also from South Korea, heading into Sunday's fourth round with Ko sitting in a tie for third another two shots back.
Kim and Khang — paired together in the day's final group — had identical 2-over 74 rounds on Sunday as Ko fired a 3 under to force the playoff.
"I didn't expect I would play in the playoff, because I was five shots behind Megan, but I know if I got lots of birdies it would be a chance to win," said Ko, who won the event in 2019 at Magna Golf Club in Aurora, Ont. "It was close, I played really well today."
Khang had been focused on holding off Kim until the 16th hole when she looked at a leaderboard and realized that Ko, playing a pair ahead, had tied her. Khang then bogeyed the par-3 17th hole and had to compose herself to birdie No. 18 and set up the sudden death round.
"There were definitely nerves. I was shaking signing my scorecard," said Khang. "I triple checked that scorecard to make sure everything was correct before we did sign."
Although Ko seemed to be carrying all the momentum into the playoff, her drive went wide left and out of bounds. Ko had to call it unplayable as course marshals cleared away spectators so she could have a clear path out of the woods. Her bad luck continued as her punch out landed in a bunker on the right side of the green.
Khang, meanwhile, moved straight up the 18th fairway with two clean shots putting her on the green.
"I didn't know where Jin Young had hit her tee shot," said Khang. "I was just trying to keep my head down and stay in the moment and not get ahead of myself."
Khang made two putts to reach par, embracing Ko after the victory with thousands of fans around the green at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club cheering.
Both the men's and women's Canadian golf championships were decided in playoffs this year. Nick Taylor of Abbotsford, B.C., won the RBC Canadian Open after a four-hole playoff with England's Tommy Fleetwood on June 11 at Toronto's Oakdale Golf and Country Club.
Brooke Henderson (68) of Smiths Falls, Ont., was the low Canadian, tying for 13th at 2 under. Hamilton's Alena Sharp (68) tied for 36th at 3 over.
"This was overall a great week," said Henderson, who won her national championship in 2018 at Regina's Wascana Country Club. "I didn't play my best but the fans out here were amazing. I feel really satisfied today."
Sunday's final round was the third-straight day with an air quality advisory in the metro Vancouver area. Smoke from ongoing wildfires in British Columbia's Interior region hung over Vancouver, obscuring views of nearby mountains.
That advisory included the area surrounding Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club but its course remained relatively clear of smoke due to strong winds off the nearby Fraser River.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 27, 2023.