Jennifer Johnson of the US fired a seven-under 65 on Sunday to seize her first LPGA Tour title, posting a one-shot victory over Pornanong Phatlum and Jessica Korda in the Mobile Bay Classic.
Johnson had eight birdies and just one bogey on the par-72 Crossings course at Magnolia Grove for a 21-under total of 267.
“I’m a little shocked, I didn’t even realize I shot 65,” said the 21-year-old, whose previous best finish was a tie for eighth in Prattville, Alabama, in 2011.
Her total of 267 bettered the tournament’s scoring record by four strokes.
Thailand’s Pornanong climbed up the leaderboard to seize her share of second place with a nine-under 63. After opening with a bogey at the par-four first she had 10 birdies, including three in a row to end her round.
She was joined on 268 by Korda, who started the day one off the lead and had seven birdies in a four-under 68.
Overnight leader Chella Choi of South Korea carded a 70 to finish in a group of five players sharing fourth place on 269. She was joined by compatriot Shin Ji-yai (63), Australian Hall of Famer Karrie Webb (68), Thai teenager Ariya Jutanugarn (65) and Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist (69).
At the turn, Johnson was one stroke behind Korda. She said she began thinking seriously that she had a chance to win when she sank a 15-foot birdie putt at the 17th to get to 21-under.
Even before she made that putt, she had seen that Pornanong, playing several groups ahead, had reached 20-under.
“Oh, yeah, I was definitely aware,” Johnson said. “Before I hit my birdie putt on 17, I saw that Pornanong was tied with me at 20 and I didn’t want a playoff, so I was like: ‘I’m going to make this thing.’”
Johnson said she would try to take time to enjoy the victory.
“I’ll try to, but I’m always looking ahead,” she said. “I’ve got to try and relax more. It means a lot. Since I played my first tournament, I was nine, and when I was about 12 or 13 I wanted to play on the LPGA. So like nine years, this is kind of what I’ve worked for.”