GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Jennifer Hahn had a chance to sink a 3-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole of regulation Monday and clinch one of two spots left in the field for the ShopRite LPGA Classic.
Hahn, of Las Vegas, missed the putt and instead entered a sudden-death playoff with Alejandra Llaneza, of Mexico City, and Julieta Granada for the final slots given to nonexempt LPGA Tour players to round out the field of 144 for the tournament that starts Friday at Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club.
All three shot a 2-under-par 69 in windy and cool conditions.
So when Hahn had another 3-footer for a birdie on the second playoff hole after making par on the first two, she made no mistake and dropped the ball in the center of the cup.
“I was able to redeem myself,” said Hahn, who telephoned her mother on the way back to the clubhouse. “I hit the ball really well today. I felt comfortable out there. I came around the turn at 3-under and played a good back nine as well.”
But while Hahn was able to get out of the cold, Llaneza and Granada were still going at it in decreasing daylight. The playoff format was the 10th (par-4) and 18th holes (par-5), repeated until one golfer was eliminated.
The remaining pair made par on the next two holes, but Llaneza birdied the fifth at 8:15 p.m. — more than seven hours after her tee time — to secure her place in the 29th edition of the 54-hole Classic, a $1.5 million event played on the par-71 Bay Course.
“We made it more exciting than it had to be,” a relieved Llaneza said. “Both of the other girls played well. It was a fun playoff.”
Joanna Coe, a Mays Landing native and 2007 graduate of Oakcrest High School, missed out on a Classic spot by shooting a 3-over 74. On Sunday, Coe shot a 75 in the Classic’s Battle on the Bay, which awarded an additional spot in the field.
“Of course, you want to be in the tournament if you’re a professional golfer,” said Coe, a PGA Class A professional at Baltimore Country Club in Maryland as of June 1. “You should make this field. I’ll play the U.S. Open qualifier at Hidden Creek (in Egg Harbor Township) next Monday, and we’ll take it from there.”
Like Coe, Granada also competed in Sunday’s event. Counting her five playoff holes Monday, Granada played 41 holes over two days. She has played in every Classic since 2005, with multiple top-10 finishes. Her regulation round Monday saw her improve her score by nine strokes from the previous day.
“I had an 8 on the second hole Sunday, and today I only shot a 5, so I knew I was going in the right direction,” Granada said with a laugh.
“The conditions for the first nine today were beautiful. Then the wind started to pick up, and the temperature started to drop.”
Only six golfers shot par or under Monday — the three who made the playoff plus Whitney Hillier (70), Cindy Ha and Alexandra Newell (both 71). Forty-one golfers entered the event, but only 38 handed in scorecards. Two golfers withdrew and one was disqualified for using a range-finder.
Classic week continues Tuesday with pro practice rounds beginning at 8 a.m. They are free and open to the public.