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Published: Sunday October 14, 2012 MYT 3:20:00 PMUpdated: Sunday October 14, 2012 MYT 4:17:30 PM
By LIM TEIK HUAT
KUALA LUMPUR: South Korean golfer Park Inbee had a birdie binge in her first five opening holes on the back nine to thank for helping her lift the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia title at the Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club on Sunday.
Inbee, the current LPGA Money List leader and winner of the U.S. Women's Open in 2008, denied compatriot Choi Na-yeon from 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. Jimin Kang was the winner of the inaugural title here in 2010.
Inbee became a major winner earlier this season when she won the Evian Masters for her third-career victory.
Na-yeon, who won the title by one stroke last year, settled for the runner-up cheque for US$179,747 after she only managed a 71 on the final day to finish with a total of 13-under 271.
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.
So-yeon Ryu of South Korea scored a five-under 66 to take fifth 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 Yani Tseng of Taiwan as the second golfer to successfully defend a title this season.
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.
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 10th, 11th, 13th and 14th as Na-yeon struggled to keep to the fairways.
"I am very happy to win the 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 a bogey-bogey finish but very happy still to win the tournament.
"I had to play good on the final day to win every time I won so far," 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 aggressive 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.
World number one Yani Tseng tied for 49th spot with a 71 for her total of five-over 289.
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.
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