Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist captured her second US LPGA title of the year on Sunday, firing a final-round 67 to win the Kia Classic by one shot.
Nordqvist, whose poor form last year had her contemplating giving up the game, is now heading into the first major of the year — next week’s Kraft Nabisco Championship in Rancho Mirage, California — brimming with confidence.
Her five-under effort gave her a 13-under-par total 275 at the Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, California, and a one-shot victory over the US’ Lizette Salas.
“I’m still almost shaking right now that I’m standing here with another win,” Nordqvist said.
In February, the Swede notched a two-shot, wire-to-wire victory in the LPGA Thailand, holding off a dramatic late challenge from world No. 1 Park In-bee of South Korea.
This time, she had to battle back from a disappointing first-round 73 and after a second-round 68, she carded back-to-back 67s over the weekend.
“It makes me believe a lot more in myself,” said Nordqvist, whose only bogey of the day at 17 came after six birdies. “I couldn’t come into the first major of the year in a better position.”
Salas started the day tied for the lead with the US’ Cristie Kerr and arrived at the 18th tee tied for second with another American, Lexi Thompson, before making her third birdie of the day at the final hole to complete a two-under-70 for 276 and sole possession of second place.
Thompson’s 68 for 277 put her in third, while South Korea’s Chella Choi carded a 69 for 278 and fourth place.
Nordqvist opened her round with a birdie, but Salas stayed atop the leaderboard with 12 straight pars, until the Swede birdied the eighth and ninth to move ahead.
Thompson moved into joint second with Salas courtesy of three straight birdies from the 13th and claimed the clubhouse lead on 11-under, but Nordqvist pulled away with three birdies in four holes from the 13th.
Despite the Swede’s bogey at 17, Salas’ three birdies at 14, 16 and 18 were not enough to force a playoff.
Kerr bogeyed the last hole for a one-over 73 that left her alone in fifth on 279, while Park led a group on 280 that included fellow South Koreans Pak Se-ri and Ji Eun-hee, as well as Stacy Lewis of the US.
Taiwan’s Yani Tseng shot a final-round 76 to finish tied for 55th place on two-over 290.
Additional reporting by staff writer