World No. 1 Yani Tseng (曾雅妮) defended her LPGA Thailand title for her 13th LPGA Tour victory, with birdies on the final two holes yesterday to hold off playing partner Ai Miyazato by a stroke.
The 23-year-old Taiwanese star shot a six-under 66 to finish at 19-under 269 on Siam Country Club’s Pattaya Old Course. She opened with a 73, then shot consecutive 65s to enter the final round a shot behind Miyazato.
Before the tournament, she made a wish on a lucky Thai statue.
“I had some luck out there,” Tseng said. “I shot one-over the first round, but I came back very soon and played 20-under the next three days. I felt like I could improve a lot and I feel like something gave me luck.”
She also visited the statue last year.
Last year, Tseng won the event for the first of her seven LPGA Tour victories last season, including major victories in the LPGA Championship and the Women’s British Open.
The five-time major champion finished the year with 12 worldwide victories. She has 33 career worldwide professional victories.
“I feel much more pressure coming into this year,” Tseng said. “Last year, when I started, I was nothing. I was just in the top five in the world, but I don’t have 12 wins or [the] world No. 1 title. After last year, I have [the] world No. 1 and I had 12 wins and that pressure keep[s] going on and on.”
On the par-five 18th, she came through with the pressure on, almost holing her 104-yard approach shot and tapping in for the winning birdie.
“It was an incredible shot. I think it’s the shot of the week,” Tseng said. “Especially, I saw that Ai hit it so close and I knew she was going to make that putt. So, I tell myself: ‘I need to get this close.’”
“It was tough. I had 104 [yards] to the pin and a little uphill. I know my ball is going to spin a lot, so I just tried to keep it low and not spin too much,” she said. “I was very proud of myself for hitting that shot into 18 and making birdie to win.”
Miyazato, who won the 2010 tournament, also birdied the final two holes in her 67.
“Of course, Yani is No. 1, so I knew it wouldn’t be easy today,” Miyazato said. “I kind of expected her to play that way.”
Tseng eagled the par-five opening hole and Miyazato had a birdie, leaving them tied at 15-under. Tseng took the lead with a birdie on the par-four third and added birdies on the par-four sixth and par-five seventh. At the turn, she had a three-stroke lead over Shin and four-shot advantage over Miyazato.
“I played really well on the front nine, but it was tough on the back nine, especially when you see Jiyai and Ai keep making birdies,” Tseng said. “It got tight down the stretch. It was tough. I feel like I had lots of emotions today.”
Meanwhile, Taiwan’s Candie Kung finished tied for 41st at two-over 290 after a final-round 75. Compatriot Amy Hung finished tied for 49th at four-over 292 after a final-round 72.