Na Yeon Choi capped her outstanding this year LPGA campaign with a two-stroke victory over fellow South Korean So Yeon Ryu Sunday in the US$1.5 million season-ending Titleholders.
Choi countered a double-bogey at the third with an eagle at the par-five fifth. She added three more birdies - the last of them at the par-four 16th, for a two-under par 70 and a 72-hole total of 14-under 274.
Her second victory of the year, after a triumph in the US Women’s Open, was worth US$500,000 and took her total prize money for the campaign to US$1.9 million.
“I’m really happy with how I played this season,” said the 25-year-old Choi. “I won my first major and even this tournament is very big for me.”
Ryu, who had already locked up Rookie of the Year honours, fell out of a tie for the lead with a three-putt bogey on the par-five 14th. She settled for a 70 for 276.
“My putting wasn’t really great,” Ryu said. “Na Yeon is a great player, and I’m just a rookie, just starting this season. It was quite tough. Na Yeon was great.”
American Brittany Lincicome also signed for a 70 at TwinEagles for sole possession of third place on 277. Australian Karrie Webb posted a 69 for 278, with Ai Miyazato of Japan rounding out the top five after a 74 for 279.
South Korean Inbee Park finished with a share of 11th place to secure the LPGA money title and the Vare Trophy for lowest scoring average.
Stacy Lewis, the first US player to claim Player of the Year honours since Beth Daniel in 1994, finished equal 29th.
Overnight leader Choi ran into trouble at the third, where her approach was left of the green. Her attempt to chip on failed and she two-putted for a double-bogey.
Oddly, falling into a tie for the lead may have helped.
“I was very nervous last night,” Choi said. “I told people that leading the tournament, there’s always extra pressure. Even on front nine, when I had the double bogey and tie for first place, I felt more comfortable than leading. Maybe that sounds a little weird. I like chasing somebody, and then I can play more aggressive.”
She regained the lead shortly thereafter, after her three-wood from 240 yards out at the fifth bounced onto the green and she made the putt for eagle.
After going birdie-bogey at seven and eight, birdies at 12 and 16 were all she needed to stay in front.