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Monday October 15, 2012

Inbee lifts title thanks to a birdie binge in first five holes

South Koreans
continued their
domination of the Sime
Darby LPGA Malaysia
golf tournament when
Park Inbee pipped good
friend and defending
champion Choi Na-yeon
to the title at the KL
Golf and Country Club
yesterday. - S.S.KANESAN/The Star South Koreans continued their domination of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia golf tournament when Park Inbee pipped good friend and defending champion Choi Na-yeon to the title at the KL Golf and Country Club yesterday. - S.S.KANESAN/The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: South Korean golfer Park Inbee had a birdie binge in her first five holes on the back nine to thank for helping her lift the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia title at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club yesterday.

Inbee, the current LPGA Money List leader and winner of the US Women’s Open in 2008, denied compatriot Choi Na-yeon from making a successful defence of the title as she finished with a four-under 67 to win by a two-stroke margin on 15-under 269.

It was 24-year-old Inbee’s second title of the season and a cheque for US$285,000 but more importantly, she kept the winning streak for South Korea. Kang Jimin was the winner of the inaugural title here in 2010.

Inbee became a Major winner earlier this season when she won the Evian Masters. Yesterday’s win was her third career victory.

Na-yeon, who won the title by one stroke last year, settled for runners-up and a cheque for US$179,747 this time after she only managed a 71 on the final day to finish with a total of 13-under 271.

Focused: Catriona Matthew of Scotland takes aim before putting at the 14th hole during the final round
of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia yesterday. Focused: Catriona Matthew of Scotland takes aim before putting at the 14th hole during the final round of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia yesterday.

Hall of Famer Australian Karrie Webb finished third with a three-under 68 on a total of 12-under 272, her best finish of the season so far.

One stroke behind for fourth was Scottish Catriona Matthew, who had a 67 for 11-under 273.

Ryu So-yeon of South Korea scored a five-under 66 to take fifth spot on 10-under 274.

It was all over for Na-yeon as she double bogeyed on the par-three 17th and any chance of her joining Tseng Yani of Taiwan as the second golfer to successfully defend a title this season came to an end.

There were anxious moments for Inbee, however, as she dropped one shot on the 17th and her tee-shot from the 18th flew straight into the bunker.

Nice shot: Choi Na-yeon takes a shot from the fairway at the 11th hole during the final round of the
Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia at the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club yesterday. Nice shot: Choi Na-yeon takes a shot from the fairway at the 11th hole during the final round of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia at the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club yesterday.

However, she managed to contain the damage to just one bogey and relief was written all over her face as she walked back to the clubhouse.

Inbee took over the lead after making birdies on the 10th, 11th, 13th and 14th as Na-yeon struggled to keep to the fairways.

“I am very happy to win to win a second time, the first time I done this in my career. I was nervous coming to the 17th and 18th as I knew I was leading and it was tough from there.

“It’s was a bogey-bogey finish but I’m very happy to win the tournament. I had to play good on the final day,” said Inbee.

On her strategy, Inbee said she had to put up a similar performance as in the third round where she shot a six-under 65 to move to second on the leaderboard.

“I need to go really low to win and playing aggressively helped me and got me the birdies. My golf has improved a lot, hitting, chipping and putting. I am also happy there were no delays today,” added Inbee, who came here off back-to-back runner-up finishes at the Ricoh Women’s British Open and the CN Canadian Women’s Open.

Na-yeon put up a brave front as she missed out on her bid to claim her seventh career LPGA title.

“She (Inbee) was playing well and I think six under before she got nervous the last two holes.

“I played well on the front nine but I had one bogey on the ninth. I wasn’t mad after that bogey but I think if I made par from there, maybe I could have play better.

“I think I had bad luck on the 17th as well (double bogey). I really like to thank my friend Inbee. I’m very happy she won this week,” said Na-yeon.

World number one Yani tied for 49th spot with a 71 for five-over 289 total.

World number two Stacy Lewis of United States put up a three-under 68 for a share of 19th spot on four-under 280.

The LPGA Tour continues its Asian swing with the HanaBank Championship scheduled for this weekend in South Korea, followed by stops in Taiwan and Japan.

Final round scores

269: Park Inbee (Kor) 69-68-65-67; 271: Choi Na-yeon (Kor) 65-67-68-71; 272: Karrie Webb (Aus) 65-71-68-68; 273: Catriona Matthew (Sco) 68-68-70-67; 274: Ryu So-yeon (Kor) 68-73-67-66; 275: Paula Creamer (US) 69-67-70-69, Lindsey Wright (Aus) 70-66-72-67; 276: Jessica Korda (US) 68-71-73-64; 277: Candie Kung (Tpe) 70-71-71-65, Lizette Salas (US) 68-67-76-66, Mika Miyazato (Jpn) 66-69-71-71, Ai Miyazato (Jpn) 68-69-68-72, Ariya Jutanugarn (Tha) 69-72-67-69; 278: Azahara Munoz (Spa) 71-71-67-69, Yoo Sun-young (Kor) 66-70-72-70; 279: Lee Ilhee (Kor) 69-71-70-69, Karine Icher (Fra) 70-69-71-69, Lee Il-hee (Kor) 69-71-70-69, Ji Eun-hee (Kor) 70-67-72-70; 280: Brittany Lang (US) 69-68-70-73, Kim I.K. (Kor) 70-67-72-71, Feng Shanshan (Chn) 70-72-71-67, Suzann Pettersen (Nor) 71-64-70-75, Stacy Lewis (US) 70-69-73-68, Beatriz Recari (Spa) 72-66-73-68, Sydnee Michaels (US) 69-65-75-71; 281: Cristie Kerr (US) 68-77-69-67, Park Hee-young (Kor) 67-72-70-72, Amy Yang (Kor) 70-69-71-71; 282: Momoko Ueda (Jpn) 68-67-74-73; 283: Sandra Gal (Ger) 72-71-70-70, Chella Choi (Kor) 71-74-65-73, Gerina Piller (US) 70-74-71-68, Lexi Thompson (US) 69-71-76-67, Mina Harigae (US) 70-71-74-68; 284: Karin Sjodin (Swe) 70-71-68-75, Mo Martin (US) 70-70-73-71, Cindy La Crosse 70-72-71-71; 285: Anna Nordqvist (Swe) 72-70-71-72, Michelle Wie (US) 75-72-70-68, Pornanong Phatlum (Tha) 74-70-72-69, Shin Jiyai (Kor) 71-70-69-75, Caroline Hedwall (Swe) 70-67-75-73; 286: Nicole Castrale (US) 78-67-71-70; 287: Meena Lee (Kor) 73-68-73-73, Jennifer Johnson (US) 74-72-71-70; 288: Katherine Hull (Aus) 70-71-74-73, Brittany Lincicome (US) 71-73-73-71, Danielle Kang (US) 72-73-72-71; 289: Julieta Granada (Par) 72-72-70-75, Han Hee-won (Kor) 67-75-74-73, Tseng Yani (Tai) 78-72-68-71, Alison Walshe (US) 71-72-78-68; 290: Jodi Ewart (Eng) 73-75-70-72; 291: Cheng Ssu-chia (Kor) 75-72-67-79; 292: Jenny Shin (Kor) 72-74-67-79, Kang Hae-ji (Kor) 69-76-76-71, Mariajo Uribe (Col) 81-73-70-68; 293: Sophie Gustafson (Swe) 71-74-72-76; 294: Giulia Sergas (Ita) 76-72-76-70, Vicky Hurst (US) 68-81-72-72; 296: Angela Stanford (US) 73-79-71-73, Aretha Pan (Mas) 73-73-75-75, Amanda Blumenherst (US) 72-76-80-80; 301: Ainil Johani (Mas) 73-80-74-74, Carly Booth (Sco) 80-75-76-70; 303: Jean Chua (Mas) 75-73-79-76; 318: Morgan Pressel (US) 79-83-81-84; 330: Sarfina Vinota (Mas) 81-84-81-84.

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