Drama as young Yang makes history
Korean first to bag 3 LPGA Thailand titles
published : 25 Feb 2019 at 04:30
newspaper section: Sports
Pattaya: South Korea's Amy Yang completed a hat-trick of wins at the Honda LPGA Thailand with a one-stroke victory over Australian Minjee Lee in an exciting finish at the Siam Country Club Pattaya Old Course in Chon Buri yesterday.
Yang's victory went down to the final shot on the last hole of the day as she putted for a birdie and then had to wait as Lee went for an eagle, which would have forced a play-off.
Unfortunately for Lee, her long eagle putt sat on the edge of the hole and refused to drop as the huge crowd held its breath, and then let out a huge cheer to celebrate Yang's victory.
Lee then tapped in for a birdie to leave her one shot behind Yang and give her a well-deserved second place.
Yang has won in Thailand in 2015, 2017 and 2019, becoming the first player to win in the Kingdom three times.
The 22-year-old South Korean's fourth LPGA Tour victory yesterday brought along the US$240,000 winner's cheque and moved her to 22nd place on the All-Time LPGA Money List with $8,884,322 in career earnings.
"This is very special for me. I love coming to Thailand," she said after her victory. "I enjoy it so much here, and that's helpful. I was very nervous out there, but I kept telling myself to be patient. The heat was a challenge, but like everybody else, I just drank a lot of water and tried to stay hydrated."
The 22-year-old Lee, ranked seventh, knocked in six birdies and had only one bogey in her final round. She had been chasing her fifth LPGA Tour victory and was in contention right up to her last shot.
It was a slightly disappointing finish for Thai stars Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn, who ended the tournament as the best of the eight local players in the field. Moriya finished tied in 10th place and Ariya was alone in 14th spot. Moriya carded an 11-under 277 after a final round that included three birdies and no bogeys.
Ariya signed for a 10-under 278 total and her final round included four birdies and two bogeys.
Huge crowds of supporters followed the sisters around the course, even when a brief shower of rain cooled things off as they played the final hole.
Little separated the group of leaders throughout the final day's play. The first half of the final round was a see-sawing battle for the lead among Yang, Lee and Spain's Carlota Ciganda, with in-form American Nelly Korda only a couple of shots behind.
Ciganda, 28, ranked 16th in the world, came out of the blocks firing and started her final round with an eagle followed by two birdies.
With only four holes to play, three were tied for the lead on 20 under -- Yang, Ciganda and Lee -- to set up the nail-biting finish. Ciganda scored an eagle on the 15th to give her a share of the lead and ended the round in third place with 20 under.
The next best Thai finisher was Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras, who ended in tied 29th place with a five-under 283. Amateur Atthaya Thitikul, who turned 16 on Wednesday, finished on even-par in 54th place.