Yani surges, but ends up two shots short in Australia

Staff writer, with CNA and AP, CANBERRA

Mon, Feb 18, 2013 - Page 1

Taiwanese world No. 1 Yani Tseng (曾雅妮) finished in second place in the Women’s Australian Open yesterday with a 16-under 276, while South Korea’s Shin Ji-yai won the championship.

Tseng, who has been top of the women’s world rankings for two years, fired six birdies, one eagle and one bogey in her final round, but she remained two strokes behind Shin, who claimed the title.

Tied for fourth place with a nine-under 210 after the third round, Tseng surged on the final day of the year’s first LPGA tournament at Royal Canberra.

She shot the best round of the last day — a seven-under 66 — to dash past teenage star Lydia Ko into outright second place.

“I was always feeling good here and I tried my best today,” Tseng said. “I got some pretty good lucky bounces too. I didn’t drive as well as the last few days, but I got some good bounces, some good kicks on the fairway — hit a tree, bounced on the fairway — so it’s kind of really lucky.”

Her performance was seen as a good sign for Tseng’s continuing recovery from a slump that began late last year, when she failed to make the top 10 in 11 consecutive tournaments after the ShopRite LPGA Classic in June.

Shin mixed three birdies with two bogeys in her final-round dogfight with Ko and Tseng, and added the Australian title to her two British Opens, among 37 professional victories.

Ko’s share of the lead evaporated quickly on the final day with a double-bogey, bogey start.

However, the 15-year-old amateur fought back to reclaim the joint lead after 13 holes, before Shin calmly dismissed her challenge.

Shin effectively clinched her victory on the 14th hole when, tied with Ko at 16-under, she holed an incredible pitch from deep rough behind an advertising hoarding to make birdie.

“I’m really surprised,” Shin said. “There are so many good players here, so I’m really happy to play well. I can’t explain at the moment. I just feel excited.”

Ko finished three-over for the day and 14-under for the tournament.

The teenager was hunting back-to-back wins in professional tournaments after winning last week’s New Zealand Women’s Open.

Ko has won three professional tournaments in the past 13 months, taking the New South Wales Open to become the youngest winner of a professional event, then winning the Canadian Open to become the youngest winner on the LPGA Tour.

She struggled yesterday to overcome her poor start and was never able to comfortably settle into her final round.

“I had a few struggles with my drives, but … I can’t play good every single round,” Ko said. “Third in a professional event is a pretty good result and I can’t say I’m not fully pleased.”

Taiwan’s Amy Hung (洪沁慧) finished with a 75 to card a one-under total of 291, tied for 70th place.

Tseng is set to defend her title at the Thailand Open on Thursday.

She won the tournament at Siam Country Club in 2011 and last year.