SAN MARTIN, CALIF.—Eleven years after finishing as runner-up as an amateur in her first U.S. Women’s Open, Brittany Lang won her first major title — with help from a playoff penalty on Anna Nordqvist.
Lang made par on all three holes of the aggregate playoff and Nordqvist was given a two-stroke penalty for touching the sand with her club in a fairway bunker on the second playoff hole Sunday, helping deliver Lang the title.
At last month’s men’s U.S. Open, eventual winner Dustin Johnson played much of the final round not knowing if he would be penalized one stroke because his ball moved as he addressed it on the fifth green. The penalty ended up proving moot as Johnson won by three shots.
Lang shot a 1-under 71 to finish with a 6-under 282 for the tournament at CordeValle for her second win in 287 tournaments on the LPGA Tour. She survived a bogey on the 17th hole that led to the playoff before recovering in the playoff for a breakthrough win at age 30.
Both players made pars on the first hole of the playoff, which was played on the final three holes of the course. Then things got interesting on the next hole after Nordqvist hit her tee shot into a fairway bunker.
While preparing to hit the shot, Nordqvist’s club barely touched the sand. She did not realize it and both players made par on the hole, heading to the final playoff hole seemingly tied.
But television replays showed the infraction and USGA officials studied the video before determining if the two-stroke penalty was necessary. An official told Nordqvist about the penalty after she hit her third shot on the 18th hole but before Lang did, giving her a possible advantage.
Lang hit her shot onto the green and then two-putted for the win, getting hearty congratulations from many of her fellow Americans on tour after she joined Michelle Wie (2014) as the only U.S. golfers to win the Open in the past six years.
Lang capitalized on a surprising final-round collapse by world No. 1 and 54-hole leader Lydia Ko, who made a double-bogey 7 on the ninth hole and shot 3-over 75 on the day, finishing two shots off the lead in a four-way tie for third with Amy Yang, Sung Hyun Park and 2009 winner Eun Hee Ji.
Lang took sole possession of the lead when she perfectly read a putt from more than 20 feet that broke slightly right before going in the hole to move her to 7-under, with Nordqvist in the clubhouse at 6-under after making an eagle on the par-5 15th.
But Lang followed that up with her first three-putt of the week when she just missed a par from about five feet, leading to groans from the crowd. She followed with a two-putt for birdie on the par-5 18th, setting the stage for the playoff.
Alena Sharp was the top Canadian after closing with an even-par 72 to finish the week at 1-over. Maude-Aimee Leblanc was another stroke back after a 73, Brooke Henderson finished at 11-over after her third 76 in four rounds, and Sue Kim was at 12-over after a final-round 77.