Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng successfully defended her title at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship Presented by P&G, beating Amy Yang on the first hole of a playoff. After missing a 4-foot putt on the final hole of regulation that would have given her the title, Tseng sank a long birdie putt when they replayed the par-5 18th in the playoff to capture her fifth LPGA title of the 2011 season.
Tseng began Sunday atop the leaderboard with Yang and both shot matching 68’s in the final round at Pinnacle Country Club.In the playoff on the par-5 18th, Yang reached the green in two while Tseng’s second shot skirted just over the green on the fringe. Both putted their third shots which came up within six feet but Yang missed her birdie while Tseng converted to defend her title in Rogers, Ark.
Tseng, who now has 10 career LPGA Tour victories, recorded five birdies and two bogeys en route to a final-round, three-under-par 68. Last year Tseng shot a 6-under 65 in the final round of this tournament to capture a come-from-behind victory over second-round leader Michelle Wie, who had entered the day leading by three strokes.
With five victories this year, Tseng know joins an elite group of woman who have accomplished that feat in a season including Louise Suggs, Mickey Wright, Kathy Whitworth, Nancy Lopez and Pat Bradley to name a few. She also won this year’s Honda LPGA Thailand, LPGA State Farm Classic, Wegmans LPGA Championship and RICOH Women’s British Open.
“This is great,” said Tseng following her victory. “I mean, always have a good crowd here and the people are really nice, volunteers and so many great people around here. Very nice to be out here. This year, the weather was perfect, so we were very lucky. So I’m just really happy, just really happy to be back here.”
So close, yet so far…Amy Yang has been knocking on the door of her first career LPGA victory since last year’s LPGA Tour Championship where she went into the final round with a one-stroke lead.
Yang, who began the day tied with Yani Tseng, made an arrant second shot on the 18th hole but managed to save par to force a playoff with Tseng.
“After I saw her good third shot (on the 18th hole of regulation play), I just want to make sure make a par,” said Yang. “You know, there’s always ?? I mean, I’m not meaning she’s going to miss that, but you never know what’s going to happen out here.”
Despite missing the cut in her previous two starts on the LPGA, Yang’s runner-up finish this week ties the best finish of her career which came at the 2010 LPGA Tour Championship..
Learning to keep a lead: Tseng has now won five of the 10 times she has led or co-led entering the final round on the LPGA Tour. 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 this year’s Kraft Nabisco Championship.
( photos courtesy of nwachampionship.com)