Ro)lex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng held off Na Yeon Choi, Ai Miyazato and the darkness in Phoenix to capture a one-shot victory at the 2012 RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. Tseng two-putted from 45-feet on the 18th green as darkness fell upon the Wildfire Golf Club to secure her 14th career LPGA Tour victory.
Despite a day full of lightning delays, hail storms and unseasonably cool temperatures, the final round of the tournament certainly didn’t lack for excitement. The final group was on No. 10 when play resumed for a second
time and Tseng seemed to get a surge following that delay. She tallied birdies on five of her next six holes to take a two-shot lead with three holes left to play. Birdies by Choi and Miyazato on the 16th hole cut Tseng’s lead to just one but the world’s No. 1 managed to par the final two holes to secure her fifth victory in her last 11 starts.
“In my mind I was feeling like we were going to finish tomorrow, so we were really lucky to finish today and finish in the dark the last few holes,” Tseng said. “Because of my eyes, I couldn’t see much of a distance, so I tried to keep telling myself, okay, just finish these few holes, just hit a good shot, good contact, play one shot at a time.”
Turning things around: After falling behind by three strokes on the front nine, Tseng seemed to find her groove after the second rain delay. She came back out from the delay and birdied the 10th – one of five birdies she would tally over the next six holes.
“I’m proud of myself,” Tseng said. “I hung in there on the back nine. I think the second time raining, like second time or first time raining –I think was a good break for me because I finished nine holes, was one over and I had a birdie chance on No. 10, but then we have a break. So I take a little bit my time and come back here to relax a little bit and rethink, restart the day.”
Her playing partners Na Yeon Choi and Ai Miyazato didn’t seem surprised by Tseng’s charge on the back nine but were once again left impressed by her ability to take her game to another level.
“She’s amazing,” Choi said of Tseng. “I mean she plays so well. She never I mean she never looks nervous or if there’s pressure on her. So I think she’s she has a lot of confidence right now.
“I don’t know who can stop her right now. I mean she’s so amazing, and she hit it really far. Me and Ai, we tried to like our best, but she’s pretty far away from us.”
On a roll: Rolex Rankings No. 9 Ai Miyazato began the day tied atop the leaderboard with Yani Tseng but after shooting a final-round 3-under par 69 she came up one stroke shy of earning her eighth career LPGA Tour victory.
Miyazato gained control early in Sunday’s final round after Tseng tallied back-to-back bogeys on No. 7 and 8 to drop three shots behind Miyazato.
After a second delay, the tables began to turn as Tseng began her birdie run and never looked back. This week’s tied for second finish marks Miyazato’s third consecutive top-10 finish of the season. Miyazato’s most recent victory came at the 2010 Evian Masters Presented by Societe Generale.
The Leader Board
Yani Tseng -14, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Ai Miyazato -14, Rolex Rankings No. 9
Suzann Pettersen -9, Rolex Rankings No. 3
Cristie Kerr -9, Rolex Rankings No. 4
Karrie Webb -9, Rolex Rankings No. 19
Caroline Hedwall -8, Rolex Rankings No. 32
Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng and No. 9 Ai Miyazato are tied for the lead at 14-under-par after 54 holes at the 2012 RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. Tseng, who was the second-round leader, shot a 5-under 67 on Saturday at Wildfire Golf Club while Miyazato recorded a bogey-free 6-under 66 to move into a tie for the lead. The pair will head into the final round leading by one shot over Rolex Rankings No. 2 Na Yeon Choi.
Friendly Foes: Co-leaders Ai Miyazato and Yani Tseng are entering familiar territory heading into tomorrow’s final round. The duo have become quite accustomed to playing together in the final group as they were previously paired alongside one another during the final round of the Honda LPGA Thailand 2012.
Miyazato went into the final round of the Honda LPGA Thailand 2012 with a one stroke lead over Tseng but Tseng prevailed to notch her 12th LPGA Tour victory.
While Tseng is known for her strength and aggressive style on the golf course, Miyazato has become infamous for her smooth tempo. The duo’s games might be opposite but during Saturday’s post-round interviews both players acknowledged their excitement for tomorrow’s pairing.
“It’s always fun to play with her,” said Miyazato. “I know her really well and I think we like to play each other. I mean I like to play with Yani, I don’t know about her, but you know, we are totally different types of player. But it’s very inspiring to play with her, so I’m very excited to play with her tomorrow.”
“She’s such a nice great people, great player and you can always learn something from her when you play with her,” said Tseng. “She always smiles when she plays doesn’t matter if she hit a bad shots, it’s like, oh, it’s not a big deal. She always plays so well, and when you play with her, I mean we talk a lot. We just talk everything, not on the golf course, outside of golf course. And it’s just so much fun to play with her.”
Adding to her resume? Yani Tseng will be seeking her 14th career LPGA Tour victory when she tees off on Sunday for the final round of the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup. But holding a lead entering the final round hasn’t necessarily equated to victory for Tseng throughout her career.
Tseng has led or co-led 10 times heading into the final round of a tournament and only five times she has gone on to win the event. But that number is deceptive. She went 0 for 4 to start her career in 2008 and 2009, but since then she’s 5 for 6, her only loss coming at last year’s Kraft Nabisco Championship.