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Golf: Choi Na-yeon’s great eight helps secure ninth LPGA title

Choi Na-yeon won her ninth LPGA title at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. Photo: AFP.

Choi Na-yeon won her ninth LPGA title at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. Photo: AFP.

June 29, 2015: Fast-finishing Choi Na-yeon eagled 16 and birdied 17 on her way to winning her second LPGA title of the year at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, vaulting the Korean to seventh on this year’s money list.

 

Choi, who won the season-opening event in Ocala, Florida, was a shot behind World No. 3 Stacy Lewis playing the par-four 16th at Pinnacle Country Club, where the Korean holed out from 145 yards with her favourite club, the eight-iron, for a game-changing eagle.

 

The smiley Korean then strengthened her lead with a birdie at the par-three 17th before a par at the par-five 18th rounded off a two-under-par 69 and a three-day total of 15-under 198, two ahead of Japan’s Mika Miyazato (67) in a tournament reduced to 54 holes.

 

Lewis (68) bogeyed the last to share third on 12-under with Azahara Munoz (66) and Anna Nordqvist (70), one ahead of a group including World No. 2 Lydia Ko (63).

 

Choi had followed her opening 66 with a second-round 63 on Saturday that gave her a two-shot lead starting the final day, but a win didn’t look likely until she holed out with her beloved eight-iron.

 

“I hit three‑wood and then from about 145 yards I hit a controlled eight‑iron. When I held the finish (of my swing), I thought it’s going to be good, but I didn’t expect it to go in,” said Choi, who won US$300,000 and moved up seven spots to World No. 13.

 

“Today my shots were good, but my putting wasn’t great. Maybe I tried to play too conservatively, but I tried to keep focusing on my shots and then I just realised I could win even without putting well.”

 

Choi, 27, is enjoying a return to winning form, having been without a victory for two years after a spectacular 2012 when her three titles around the world included the US Women’s Open.

 

“After Ocala I had, not a struggle, but a lot of expectations of myself,” said Choi, who lives in Orlando, Florida.

 

“I had a missed cut right after the win and then another missed cut at Kia, so I just tried to improve. Last week in Orlando, I had a great off week and a good practice so I think I deserve it.”

 

Choi has won nine LPGA titles and remains 10th on the all-time LPGA money list with US$10,236,907.

 

Choi Na-yeon LPGA Victories:

2009 Samsung World Championship

2009 HanaBank-KOLON Championship

2010 Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic

2010 LPGA HanaBank Championship

2011 Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia

2012 U.S. Women’s Open

2012 CME Group Titleholders

2015 Coates Golf Championship Presented by R&L Carriers

2015 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship

 

Source: LPGA (www.lpga.com); Editing by SportAsia

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