A bogey-free finish for Amy Yang

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A bogey-free finish for Amy Yang

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Yang Hee-young (Amy Yang) [AP/YONHAP]

Yang Hee-young, also known as Amy Yang, captured her third LPGA Tour title in two years with a win at the Honda LPGA Thailand in Chonburi on Sunday.

Yang shot a bogey-free round of 68 on the final day, giving her a five-shot victory over fellow Korean Ryu So-yeon. Her birdie on the final hole helped set a new tournament record of 22 under par, 266, overtaking the previous record of 21 under par.

The tournament turned into a marathon after heady rainstorms during the second round. Due to rain delays on the second and third day, Yang had to play 31 holes on Saturday and 23 on Sunday.

“The last two days weren’t easy since the rain delays made me get up at 4 in the morning two days in a row,” Yang said during an interview with the LPGA after the tournament.

Although she struggled to get up early, the rain delays seemed to actually help Yang in her preparation. She ended up making 15 birdies, one eagle and just one bogey in her second, third and final rounds.

“I stayed very patient out there, did my best, and I am happy to win the tournament,” Yang said.

After the first 54 holes, Yang started her final round in the afternoon with a five-shot lead over Ryu. At times, her lead got reduced by three shots, but Yang was able to come back and complete her round with a five-shot lead.

Aside from setting a tournament record, Yang won $240,000, and her ranking moved up by three places to eighth in the Rolex ranking and third on the Race to CME Globe, a season-long competition where LPGA Tour players accumulate points at every event.

Koreans dominated the Honda LPGA Thailand as the top four finishers were all Koreans. Ryu finished second with 17 under par, 266, and Kim Sei-young finished third with 15 under par, 272. Chun In-gee tied for fourth, shooting 68 in her final round, 4 under par, to notch a total score of 275, 13 under par.

Unlike other top-ranked golfers, Yang hasn’t had much luck in terms of wins. Since her LPGA Tour debut in 2008, she has only three titles, including the one from this weekend in Thailand.

Still, she has boasted an admirable performance, and her sixth-place ranking in May 2016 made her eligible for the Rio Olympics. Even at the international event, though, she missed her chance to stand on the podium, finishing fourth.

Yang’s LPGA season last year was quite solid, with two runner-up finishes and four top-three finishes. Her final rank on the 2016 LPGA Tour money list was 13th.

Speaking on this season, Yang said, “Since I won early in the season, I am excited for the rest of the season.”

In Yang’s past three years of playing in the Honda LPGA Thailand, she has won twice and finished tied for third.

Park In-bee, who was playing in her first tournament since the Rio Olympics, shot 69 on the last day of the Honda LPGA Thailand, going 3 under par to finish tied for 25th at 5 under par, 283. Lydia Ko finished tied for eight with 11 under par, 277.

Yang will play in the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore from March 2 to 5.

BY KIM DU-YONG, KANG YOO-RIM [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]

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