Gaby Lopez was unable to snare a second ace on China’s Hainan Island yesterday, but rock-solid golf in windy conditions gave the Mexican a one-shot victory at the Blue Bay LPGA for her first title on the elite women’s tour.
The world No. 136 hit four back-nine birdies in a one-over-par 73 that proved enough to keep her Thai playing partner Ariya Jutanugarn at arm’s length as she finished on eight-under 280 for the US$2.1 million tournament.
“It wasn’t an easy day, it was tough,” said Lopez, the first Mexican winner on the tour since Lorena Ochoa claimed the last of her 27 titles in 2009. “I wasn’t going to sit and protect my lead — I was going to go out and give it my all and if it didn’t go my way, then okay.”
World No. 1 Ariya also shot a 73 for second place ahead of France’s Celine Boutier, who celebrated her 25th birthday with a flawless six-birdie 66 for third place on six-under.
World No. 2 Park Sung-hyun of South Korea endured a miserable front nine and could only manage a 74 for a share of seventh with Ariya’s older sister Moriya (71).
Lopez was the second first-time winner on the LPGA’s Asian swing after Nelly Korda claimed her maiden title in Taiwan two weeks ago.
Defending champion Feng Shanshan of China finally fired in the fourth round with a 68 to finish ninth, seven shots behind Lopez.
Taiwan’s Hsu Wei-ling had an on-par day, lifting her 14 places to finish in a share of 40th on nine-over 297 total, while compatriot Chien Pei-yun had a tougher day, slipping eight places after carding a five-over in the round to finish on 10-over 298.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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