Tue, Mar 29, 2011 - Page 19 News List

Gal out-duels Shin to win Kia Classic

GERMAN WINNER:Sandra Gal is only the second woman from her country to win in LPGA Tour history, while world No. 1 Yani Tseng came in fifth

AFP, LOS ANGELES

Yani Tseng of Taiwan hits a shot during the third round of the Kia Classic at the Industry Hills Golf Club in Industry, California, on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

Sandra Gal birdied the final hole to win the LPGA Kia Classic on Sunday, becoming the second German winner in LPGA Tour history with her triumph over world No. 2 Shin Ji-yai.

Gal, 25, claimed the trophy when she sank her birdie putt from inside two feet at the final hole to complete a two-under 71 for a 16-under total of 276 at the Industry Hills Golf Club east of downtown Los Angeles.

Shin, an eight-time winner on the LPGA Tour and a former world No. 1, closed with an even-par 73 for 277.

“I had the belief coming out this morning that I could win,” Gal said. “I thought I could do it. I just tried to play the course instead of Ji-yai.”

Cristie Kerr shot a 66 to tie for third with South Korea’s Kim In-kyung (70) at 11-under 281.

Shin started the day with a one-shot lead over Gal, but she dropped back with three bogeys on the front nine. Her struggles on the green were epitomized at the second hole, where she missed a two-footer for par.

“My putter was not working good,” Shin said. “I had a lot of chances for birdies, but didn’t make them.”

Trailing by as many as two strokes, Shin pulled even at the par-three 13th where she birdied as Gal made her only bogey of the day.

Shin edged one shot ahead with a birdie at 15, but Gal answered with a birdie at 16 and they arrived at the par-five 18th tied at 15-under.

After Shin put her third shot within five feet, Gal’s wedge into the green rolled within inches of the pin and stopped less than two feet from the cup.

“I was trying to hole it,” Gal said. “I came close. I thought I made it.”

After Shin’s birdie attempt curled around the edge of the cup then slid away, Gal stepped up and made hers.

“It was big pressure. She was so close to the hole,” Shin said. “I was thinking I had to make it.”

Gal joined Tina Fischer as the only Germans to win on the LPGA tour.

“I was digging really deep,” said Gal, who earned US$255,000.

World No. 1 Yani Tseng of Taiwan carded a 67 for 283, tied with South Korea’s Choi Na-yeon, who shot a 73, for fifth place.

Tseng was apparently satisfied with her performance on Sunday, saying it enabled her to regain her confidence.

After finishing 14th on Saturday, Tseng said she discussed with her coach how to improve her skills.

“I decided to resume my previous playing style and practiced till late night, both of which allowed me to have a good performance today,” Tseng said after the game.

Through the event, Tseng said, she had come to a better understanding of her strengths and weaknesses.

“I will continue improving my putting skills and remodeling my basic golf movements,” Tseng said.

The 22-year-old spent half an hour signing autographs for her fans after the game on Sunday.

“I am deeply moved by my fans’ passionate support over the past few days as they have accompanied me playing out 18 holes everyday,” an emotional Tseng said.

She will move to Mission Hills at Rancho Mirage, California, next week for the LPGA’s first major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, which she won last year.

Taiwanese compatriots Amy Hung and Candie Kung shot 73 and 79 for 293 and 302 respectively.

The LPGA moves to Mission Hills at Rancho Mirage, California, for the first women’s major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship, which started yesterday.

ANDALUCIA OPEN

REUTERS, MALAGA, SPAIN

Former Open champion Paul Lawrie ended a nine-year winless run on the European Tour with a one-shot victory in the Andalucia Open on Sunday.

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