Jiyai Shin of South Korea was in a league of her own as she collected her second Ricoh Women’s British Open title in five years at Royal Liverpool.
The 24-year-old former world number one shot a final round of 73 in brutal conditions to finish as the sole competitor under par for the championship on a 279, nine under total.
Rolex Rankings No. 10 Jiyai Shin captured her second career major championship title in dominating fashion, shooting rounds of 71-73 in a 36-hole finale Sunday to take a record-breaking, nine-shot victory at the 2012 RICOH Women’s British Open. Shin, who won the 2008 RICOH Women’s British Open at Sunningdale, finished at 9-under-par 279 and was the only player in the field this week who managed to finish under par at the difficult Royal Liverpool Golf Club.
After high winds on Friday caused the event to lose an entire day’s worth of the play, the tournament geared up for a 36-hole finish on Sunday. Players teed off for the third round early on Sunday morning and remained in the same groups as they worked to finish all 72 holes before the sun set on the final day of play.
Shin began the day with a commanding five-shot lead over Rolex Rankings No. 9 Inbee Park, who entered this week having captured eight straight top-10 finishes on the LPGA Tour. Park ended up being the closest to Shin after 72 holes, but it was LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Karrie Webb who put the pressure on Shin as the third round finished early in the afternoon Sunday. Webb shot a 4-under 68 in the third round to pull within three shots of the South Korean native and looked to be in hot pursuit of her eighth major title.
However when the last few groups teed off for the final round, more bad weather settled in at Hoylake and scores soared after the first couple holes. Webb went 4-over through three holes to begin her final round while Shin triple-bogeyed the first. Yet Shin still found a way to distance herself from her competitors. Back-to-back birdies on the sixth and seventh stretched Shin’s lead back to a sizeable amount and she maintained that commanding lead heading into the final stretch of holes.
With a 10-shot lead entering the final hole of play, Shin was able to truly enjoy a picturesque finish. The sun finally broke through the clouds for the first time all day as the 24-year-old walked up the 18th fairway en route to completing her 10th LPGA Tour victory.
“I said yesterday, my goal was 1under par every single day. So my goal was 4under. I think it was enough score,” Shin said. “So I’m really surprised even from yesterday and then also today, I hit even par with 36 holes with this weather, so I’m really surprised and inspired by myself. Because really tough course here, so when I finished it today, I’m just like, wow, I can play good score any, any other course, I’m pretty sure of that.”
Shin’s nine-shot victory is the largest in RICOH Women’s British Open history, dating back to when it became a major in 2001. The largest margin of victory at the event had previously been held by Karen Stupples, who won by five shots in 2004 at Sunningdale. Louise Suggs holds the all-time record for the largest winning margin in a major for her 14-stroke victory at the 1949 U.S. Women’s Open.
Asian domination: Shin’s victory at the RICOH Women’s British Open meant that for the first time in the LPGA’s history, all four major titles in a season were won by Asian-born players.
Shin is the third South Korean to win a major in 2012, joining Sun Young Yoo who captured the Kraft Nabisco Championship and Na Yeon Choi who won the U.S. Women’s Open. Shanshan Feng became the first player from mainland China to win on the LPGA Tour back in June when she captured the Wegmans LPGA Championship.
“I think so many Asia players are playing at the moment on the LPGA Tour, so it makes a lot of chance to win,” Shin said. “Especially, I don’t know I don’t know how can I say, I didn’t play last two major tournaments, but I played in Nabisco and here. Well, I work so hard, I guess that’s why I get this trophy, but, I don’t know, I know all the other players doing their best and they work hard, too. So it makes it just happen.”
The sweep by Asian players of the majors this year comes 14 years after Se Ri Pak revolutionized golf in South Korea by capturing two straight LPGA majors to begin her career in 1998, the McDonald’s LPGA Championship and the U.S. Women’s Open. But Pak wasn’t the first Asian-born player to win a major championship. Chako Higuchi of Japan earned that distinction when she won the 1977 LPGA Championship.
While a sweep of the majors is certainly a milestone, success in majors is nothing new for Asian players. They’ve now won nine of the last 12 majors on the LPGA Tour.
Setting records: By winning the 2012 RICOH Women’s British Open, Jiyai Shin became the first player in LPGA history to win this event after having won the previous week on the LPGA Tour. Shin actually managed to capture two victories in one week, having defeated Paula Creamer on the ninth playoff hole on Monday morning to take home the Kingsmill Championship title.
“I’m happy to finish today because I didn’t want to play until Monday,” Shin swaid. “But today I played 36 holes, but finally done today. And then it was a really, really tough and long day, because I played 36 holes with rain and wind, so really hard to keep focussed. But it was work today. So I feel a little tired now. [laughs]”
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