Ji Eun-hee yesterday fired a seven-under-par 65 to win the Swinging Skirts Taiwan Championship for her first LPGA title since the 2009 US Women’s Open.
Ji, who had a six-stroke lead heading into the final round, carded seven birdies to finish at 17-under 271, six strokes ahead of New Zealand’s Lydia Ko, who also closed with a 65.
“I’m so happy and excited because I haven’t won for the past eight years,” Ji said. “So I was waiting for this moment for so long, so I’m super happy right now.”
Ji’s six-stroke margin of victory ties the largest of this season, joining the previous mark set by Mirim Lee at the Kia Classic.
Ko birdied her last two holes.
“I’ll still take a birdie on the finishing hole,” Ko said. “When I was on 17 tee I said I want to finish with two birdies and I was able to do that. I played really solid today.”
Top-ranked Ryu So-yeon also shot a bogey-free 65 to move into a tie for third place with Lizette Salas and Carlota Ciganda.
Park Sung-hyun, the US LPGA Tour rookie of the year, shot a 71 to finish well back at five-over while defending champion Jang Ha-na was a further stroke behind after closing with a 68.
Tour veteran Jenny Shin, who started the final round tied for second, struggled with the conditions and fell into a tie for 14th after a 73.
Hsu Wei-ling was the top Taiwanese finisher, tying for 10th place with four-under. She was followed by Candie Kung in 14th with three-under and Yani Tseng, who nabbed 17th with two-under.
Additional reporting by staff writer
AFP, JEJU, South Korea
Justin Thomas yesterday holed a 61cm birdie putt at the second sudden-death playoff hole to beat Marc Leishman and win a US PGA Tour title in Asia for the third time.
“It’s an unbelievable honour to win the inaugural CJ Cup,” a relieved Thomas said after battling fierce, gusting winds on Jeju Island for three days. “It was a grind out there today.”
The pair had finished 72 holes at the CJ Cup in South Korea locked at nine-under par, after both missed eagle putts on the 18th hole of a windswept final round of wildly fluctuating fortunes.
Both parred the 18th on their first playoff visit, although Leishman was fortunate to get away with an errant drive and benefit from two free drops: first from behind a wall and then from a service road.
However, the burly Australian’s luck ran out the second time around as his three wood approach carved off on the swirling winds into the water surrounding the island green.
American Thomas then ripped his three wood to the front fringe of the putting surface and ran a putt to 31cm from the flag.
It proved enough as Leishman took a bogey six and Thomas tapped in for the birdie to seal the US$1.665 million winner’s check.
The supremely consistent 23-year-old American is to advance to world No. 3 with the win.
It was his sixth victory of a breakout year since winning the CIMB Classic in Malaysia for the second time exactly a year ago.
Taiwan only had one finisher, Pan Cheng-tsung, who finished 47th with seven-over.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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