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Johnson captures first LPGA title

The SportsXchange

MOBILE, Ala. - Jennifer Johnson shot her second straight round of 7-under 65 to capture her first tour victory at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic on Sunday.

Johnson's four-day total of 21-under-par 267 on Magnolia Grove's Crossing Course was a tournament record and gave her a one-stroke victory over Jessica Korda and Pornanong Phatlum.

Johnson had one top-10 finish in her LPGA career before Sunday - an eighth-place showing in another Alabama tournament, the 2011 Navistar LPGA Classic in Prattville.

"I'm a little shocked," Johnson said. "The whole back nine, I didn't know what was happening."

Third-round leader Chella Choi had one bogey in the first two rounds. But she turned the back nine into a free-for-all by bogeying back-to-back par-4s on the 11th and 12th holes. That dropped her to 18-under.

Johnson was the first to get to 19-under down the stretch. She birdied from 12 feet on the par-3 14th hole, which played the toughest on the course Sunday.

Choi got it back together to join her at 19-under with a 15-foot birdie putt on 13.

Phatlum, who carded a 9-under 63, birdied 17, second-round leader Korda birdied 15 and Jiyai Shin birdied 18 to finish at 63 all at about the same time to get to 19-under.

Choi gave a fist pump on her birdie putt on the 15th, but the ball wiggled out, and she stayed at 19-under.

Phatlum finished with three straight birdies to walk off the course at 20-under.

Johnson pulled even with a birdie on the par-5 16th after leaving her eagle putt about a foot short.

Despite having to take a free drop when she overhit the 16th and the ball rolled against the TV-camera tower, Korda stayed in contention by getting a birdie the par-5 to join Johnson and Phatlum at 20-under.

Johnson rolled in a 15-footer for a birdie on 17 to get clear of the clubhouse leader, Phatlum, by going to 21-under.

"The birdie putt on 17, that's when I started thinking a little bit more about winning the tournament," Johnson said. "The putter has kind of been the missing link because I'm hitting the ball so well. And when they go in, it really helps score."

When Korda put her tee shot on the 17th into the greenside bunker, threw her pitch well over the hole and had her par putt wiggle past the right edge for a bogey, Johnson was two strokes clear of anyone on the course and safely on the 18th green.

She two-putted to finish at 21-under, leaving Choi and Anna Nordqvist in need of birdies on the final two holes to force a playoff.

Despite all the birdies dropped during the tournament, neither could do it.
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