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Kim's missed 1-foot putt leads to Yoo's win; Five players had lead in final day of major

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. -- Sun Young Yoo won the Kraft Nabisco Championship with an 18-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole Sunday, earning her first major title after I.K. Kim missed a 1-foot putt on the final hole of regulation.

Yoo won the LPGA Tour's first major of the season with steady play down the stretch, but she got to make the traditional leap into Poppie's Pond only after Kim's mind-boggling miss on the same green minutes earlier.

Yoo, who earned her second career LPGA Tour victory, and Kim finished at 9 under, but Kim could have all but wrapped up her first major with the tap-in par putt.

Kim might have struck the ball oddly, and it toured the lip of the cup before coming out on the same side it entered. The gallery gasped, and Kim raised her left hand to her mouth in disbelief.

"I played straight, and it actually just broke to the right, even that short putt," said Kim, a 23-year-old South Korean who lives in the Los Angeles area. "So it was unfortunate on 18, but I feel good about my game. It's getting better."

Kim's unbelievable miss on the Dinah Shore course will go down in tournament lore after a thoroughly wacky final round in which five players held the lead.

Kim had been the most consistent contender amid those wild momentum swings, going bogey-free through 17 holes -- until she made a mistake reminiscent of Scott Hoch's missed 2-foot putt that would have won the 1989 Masters, and Doug Sanders' miss on a 3-footer to win the 1970 British Open.

"On the playoff hole, it's just hard to kind of focus on what's going on right now," Kim said. "Because I was still a little bit bummed (about) what happened on 18, honestly."

Yoo and Kim played the 18th again in the playoff, and Kim's drive cleared the water, landing in the rough. She left a birdie putt short from the fringe, and Yoo calmly reached the green before burying her winning putt.

Yoo, who joined Grace Park as the only South Korean winners in the history of the tournament, seemed a bit reluctant to celebrate after hugging Kim, but she joined her caddie for the leap into Poppie's Pond.

Kim and Yoo shot 69 in the final round.

***

Mahan tunes up

HUMBLE, Texas -- Hunter Mahan doesn't dwell on bad shots anymore, and he says that's leading to more good ones.

Mahan shot a 1-under 71 on Sunday to win the Houston Open, edging Carl Pettersson by one stroke and becoming the first two-time champion on the tour in 2012.

The 29-year-old Mahan finished 16 under for the tournament and moved to No. 4 in the world ranking, the first time he's ever been the highest-ranked American.

"That's a pretty surreal thing to think about," Mahan said. "It shows me what I can do, shows me what I'm capable of."

The 29-year-old Mahan feels as if he finally has the mental approach to match his physical skills. He credits Canadian sports psychologist Jim Murphy with teaching him to enjoy the game more, and that's led to better results.

"It's easy to let your mind run wild and get down on yourself," Mahan said. "That's what I used to do. I'm trying to pump myself up more and just believe in myself."

Mahan earned his fifth career victory. He has six top-25 finishes in seven starts this year, including a victory over Rory McIlroy in the final of the Match Play Championships in February.

"You've got to enjoy this stuff," Mahan said. "It's kind of an honor and a pleasure to be in these tough situations. This is what you work for, to be in these fun, tough, tight situations."

The new attitude got another pressurized test Sunday.

Standing on the 18th tee with a one-stroke lead, Mahan confidently hit his tee shot down the middle of the fairway, then knocked his 203-yard approach to 21 feet. He gave caddie John Wood a high-five when the ball landed safely on the green.

"Absolutely awesome," Wood said.

The tournament became the run-up event to the Masters in 2007, and Mahan has never felt better about his game heading to Augusta.

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