Azahara Munoz will never going to forget her first LPGA Tour win. It was as emotional as it was controversial.
Munoz beat Candie Kung, 2 and 1, on Sunday to win the Sybase Match Play Championship in Gladstone, N.J.
The title match was set up when Morgan Pressel was penalized for slow play while in control of her semifinal match with the Spaniard who played at Arizona State.
Pressel was one of the first to hug and congratulate her good friend Munoz.
The outcome all hinged on the morning semifinal in which Munoz and Pressel were both slow, although Munoz was admittedly slower. They were warned about slow play after nine holes and put on the clock after No. 11.
The 12th hole changed it all. Pressel seemingly won with a par for a 3-up lead.
However, before she could tee off on No. 13, tour official Doug Brecht informed her that she was being penalized for slow play.
Pressel had taken 2:09 to play her three shots, 39 seconds over the 30-second limit per shot.
In match play, a time penalty is the loss of the hole, and that meant Munoz was 1-down with six holes to play.
“It was tough timing because it was a really big, I think, turning point in the match, going from 2-up to 3-up, and then all of a sudden back to 1-up,” said Pressel. “You know, it was — I mean, it was really unfortunate.”
Munoz was apologetic, adding she was surprised Pressel was penalized.
“I know I was slow and I really apologized for that and I told her, but I do feel both of us were slow and she was the only one getting penalized, and that was not fair and I know that,” Munoz said.
The penalty didn’t end the controversy.
Munoz evened the match with a birdie at No. 15, a stroke that was delayed when Pressel contended the Spaniard touched the line of her putt before striking the ball.
Match referee Marty Robinson had two other officials review videotape.
Robinson said they could not see any evidence of a rule violation. Munoz then made her putt.
Pressel lost the match, 2 and 1, when she bogeyed the next two holes, missing a 3-foot par putt at No. 17.
The title match was almost anticlimactic. Munoz took a 2-up lead at Nos. 11 and 12 when Kung ran into problems and never lost it.
Jason Dufner made a 25-foot birdie putt on the final hole for a one-shot win over Dicky Pride in the Byron Nelson event in Irving, Texas. It was Dufner’s second victory in four weeks. Olympia’s Andres Gonzales, in his first PGA Tour start this year, tied for 19th and earned $78,780. … Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts beat Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, 1-up, to win the Volvo World Match Play Championship in Spain. … Former U.S. Amateur champion Nick Flanagan won the Nationwide Tour’s BMW Charity Pro-Am, beating fellow Australian Cameron Percy with a par on the third hole of a playoff in Greer, S.C.
TRACKING LOCAL GOLFERS on the PGA tour
Last week: HP Byron Nelson Championship, TPC Four Seasons Resort, Irving, Texas.
In the field: University Place’s Michael Putnam, Tacoma’s Troy Kelly and Olympia’s Andres Gonzales.
Gonzales’ fourth-round score: Even-par 70.
Position: Gonzales (3-under 277) tied for 19th, eight strokes behind winner Jason Dufner (67) at 11-under 269. Putnam (6-over 146) and Kelly (7-over 147) missed the cut Friday.
Recap: If you count Gonzales’ 2011 season-ending showing at the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital Classic (career-best tie for 16th) when he was a PGA Tour member, the Capital High graduate has posted back-to-back top-20 finishes. Gonzales opened with 12 consecutive pars Sunday, then rolled in a 16-foot birdie putt at No. 13. He gave it back at the finishing hole when he hit his approach shot over the green, and his chip shot did not advance far enough to get to the slope that feeds to the hole. It left him with a downhill 17-footer for par, which he missed.
Next for Gonzales: A return to the Nationwide Tour, but he is playing in the Washington Open Invitational starting today at Glendale Country Club in Bellevue.email@example.com