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Amateur Michelle Piyapattra wins Canadian Women's Tour opener in a playoff

Amateur Michelle Piyapattra

Chuck Russell/GOLF CANADA

It only took one playoff hole for amateur Michelle Piyapattra to claim the season-opening Canadian Women's Tour stop at Morningstar Golf Club in B.C.

The 21-year-old from California defeated fellow American Lauren Mielbrecht and defending champion Samantha Richdale of Kelowna, B.C. for the victory and an exemption into the 2014 Canadian Pacific Women's Open.

"I was just trying to stay focused and make sure to think that it's not over until it's over. It was really a great feeling especially with such great competitors out here," Piyapattra said after hitting her approach shot on the first playoff hole to within three feet of the cup. "It was amazing for my approach shot just to stay on the green because I've been having trouble with that all week."

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Piyapattra's final round 74 was highlighted by three birdies – the most critical coming at the par-4 16th hole which allowed her to grab a share of the lead. The Columbia University Lion senior graduates next week and hopes to play as a professional at Canada's National Women's Open Championship at London Hunt and Country Club in August.

"It's really an honour and I'm obviously still an amateur since I'm still in school and graduating next week," she said. "Hopefully by then I'll have a professional status. It's going to be great that it's my first event and I got into it as an amateur, it's a real honour."

Despite the loss, Richdale and Mielbrecht shared first-place prize money due to Piyapattra's amateur status. Mielbrecht carded the low round of the day with a 1-under 71, while Richdale posted a 3-over 75. 

Team Canada Development Squad member, Valérie Tanguay of St. Hyacinthe, Que., shared fourth place at 2-over par alongside amateur SooBin Kim of Coquitlam, B.C., and American Seul-Ki Park.

Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., Canada's top ranked amateur and the No. 3 ranked female amateur in the world, carded a second straight round of 74 to finish in a tie for eighth with fellow Canadian amateur Anne-Catherine Tanguay, who shared the first round lead. Sister Brittany Henderson, who recently turned pro after a solid collegiate career at Coastal Carolina, was a further stroke back in 10th.

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