Tseng holds off Choi to claim 6th LPGA title

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Tseng holds off Choi to claim 6th LPGA title


Yani Tseng of Taiwan watches her tee shot at the seventh hole during the final round of the LPGA Hana Bank Championship golf tournament at Sky 72 Golf Club in Incheon yesterday. [NEWSIS]

Korean golfers fell short again, failing to clinch the 100th win in the LPGA yesterday at the Hana Bank Championship as world No. 1 Yani Tseng claimed her sixth title of the season at 14-under 202.

At the Sky 72 Golf Club in Incheon, Tseng collected five birdies without bogeys in the last round of the Hana Bank Championship and beat two-time defending champion Choi Na-yeon by one stroke. Yang Soo-jin, the leader until the second round, tied for third with American Brittany Lincicome and Kang Ji-min at 11-under 205.

“I really enjoyed it out there,” Tseng said. “I tried to focus on every shot, every hole.’’

For Korean golfers, the tournament was a good chance to collect their 100th win in the LPGA, since it was held on home turf.

Since Ku Ok-hee first won an LPGA event at the 1988 Standard Register Turquoise Classic in Phoenix, Korean and Korean-American golfers have compiled 99 wins, with the latest coming in July when Ryu So-yeon won the U.S. Open.

However, since then, Koreans have not collected a single win in the last seven LPGA tournaments. The golfers have made it a nail-biting experience, finishing runners-up five times in those seven tournaments.

Yesterday, Koreans had their hopes on Choi, who was in good form until the 14th hole, chasing Tseng by one stroke. But Tseng gave her final punch on the par-4 15th with her long-range drive, creating an eagle chance within 2.5 meters. She ended up with a birdie, but it gave a two-stroke cushion against the Korean who sunk a par putt after escaping from a bunker.

Choi, 24, birdied the last hole and waited Tseng’s par putt, hoping a miss would send them to an extra round. But when the 22-year-old golfer from Taiwan successfully sunk her par putt from a meter away, Choi’s dream of a defending title and marking Korean women’s 100th LPGA win were all washed away.

“I did my best, but the result was disappointing,” Choi said after the tournament. “I tried anything that I could to chase Tseng, but she really plays golf easy. It seems no one can beat her at this moment.”

With the win, Tseng has added $270,000 to her purse, reinforcing her position as the top prize-money earner in the LPGA. It was also her sixth win of the season after bagging the NW Arkansas Championship two months ago. The 2010 LPGA Player of the Year also beat Korean Yang Hee-young (Amy Yang) in that tournament.

Her six LPGA titles are the most on the women’s tour since Mexican Lorena Ochoa won seven in 2008.

Shin Ji-yai, a former world No. 1 player, tied for seventh after returning from a month-long waist injury, while Korean-American Michelle Wie tied for 35th.

Now with another loss, Koreans and Korean-Americans will have to try to claim their 100th win at Sime Darby LPGA in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Oct. 20.

By Joo Kyung-don [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]
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