Jang Su-yeon wins first title in 5 years at season's first KLPGA tournament
Jang Su-yeon won her first title in five years at the Lotte Rent-a-Car Ladies Open, the first KLPGA tournament of the season, at Lotte Skyhill Jeju on Jeju Island on Sunday.
Jang carded a nine-under-par, 279, to clinch the trophy, one stroke ahead of Lee So-mi, who entered the tournament as defending champion, to become the first golfer to win the title more than once.
The Lotte Rent-a-Car Ladies Open started in 2008 and has continued every year except in 2020, when the tournament was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Jang won her first-ever KLPGA title at Lotte Skyhill Jeju in 2016, back when the event was called the Lotte Mart Tournament. Just one month later, Jang won her second title at the 2016 NH Investments & Securities Ladies Championship. Jang’s last win was at the KLPGA Championship in 2017.
Five years later, Jang was able to repeat her success on the course. After carding 72 on the first day, 68 on the second day and 71 on moving day, Jang started out the final round in a tied fourth position but slowly moved up, picking up three birdies in the first nine.
Despite bogeying the par-4, 13th, Jang came back quickly with a birdie in the par-5, 15th.
But it was down to the last par-5, 18th, to decide who was going to be the first-ever golfer to win multiple times on the course.
Defending champion Lee and 2016 champion Jang were both tied at eight-under-par after the second-to-last hole, and Jang, who was in the second-to-last group, made an impeccable second shot and sunk in her birdie putt first, waiting for Lee who was in the last group. Jang had carded an eagle on the same hole on moving day, carding a 71 on her third round.
“I carded an eagle on this hole yesterday,” said Jang at the post-tournament interview.
“Thanks to that eagle, I think I could just trust myself today.”
Lee needed at least a birdie to extend the match into a sudden-death playoff, and that seemed to have put too much pressure on the defending champion’s shoulders as Lee’s second shot missed the green. She then attempted a chip shot from outside the green with her short iron, which backfired as it not only landed the ball too far from the hole but also downhill, making it roll back further.
Lee had to round off her final round with a par, carding an eight-under-par, 280, one stroke behind Jang.
“I am bewildered right now actually,” Jang said after winning her fourth career title.
“It’s been a long time since I won, and it reminds me of the tough times and the hardships I had on the way. I really needed a win this season, and I am happy to start my season with a win. I will have to try and win my second title this season.”
The KLPGA Tour continues next Thursday at Ferrum Club in Yeoju, Gyeonggi, with the inaugural Mediheal-Hankook Ilbo Championship. There will be a total of 33 events this year, four more than last year. Of the four newly added tournaments, two are inaugural events: The Mediheal-Hankook Ilbo Championship next week and the KH Group IHQ Women's Open in October.
The Mediheal-Hankook Ilbo Championship will be the first KLPGA event to permit spectators on the course in almost two years as the KLPGA has not had an audience since the 2020 season.
BY YUN SO-HYANG [email@example.com]