Sunday, 24 February, Pattaya – South Korea’s Amy Yang made it a hat-trick of wins at the Honda LPGA Thailand on Sunday with a one-stroke victory over Australian Minjee Lee in an exciting finish at the Siam Country Club Pattaya Old Course in Chonburi province.
Yang’s victory went down to the final shot on the final hole of the day as she putted out for a birdie and then had to wait while Lee putted for an eagle, which would have forced a play-off. Unfortunately for Lee, her long eagle putt sat on the edge of the hole and refused to drop as the huge crowd held its breath, and then let out a huge cheer to celebrate Yang’s victory.
Lee then tapped in for a birdie to leave her one shot behind Yang and give her a well-deserved second place.
Yang has won in Thailand in 2015, 2017 and 2019, claiming victory in the Kingdom every two years. The 22-year-old earned her fourth LPGA Tour victory along with the US$240,000 winner’s cheque and moved to 22nd on the All-Time LPGA Money List with $8,884,322 in career earnings.
“This is very special for me. I love coming to Thailand,” she said after her victory. “I enjoy it so much here, and that’s helpful. I was very nervous out there, but I kept telling myself to be patient. The heat was a challenge, but like everybody else, I just drank a lot of water and tried to stay hydrated.”
The 22-year-old Lee, ranked 7th, knocked in six birdies and had only one bogey in her final round. She had been chasing her fifth LPGA Tour victory and was in contention right up to her last shot.
It was a slightly disappointing finish for Thai stars Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn, who ended the tournament as the best of the eight local players in the field. Moriya finished tied in 10th place and Ariya was alone in 14th spot. Moriya finished with an 11-under after a final round that included three birdies and no bogeys.
Ariya cared a 10-under and her final round included four birdies and two bogeys. Huge crowds of supporters followed the sisters around the course, even when a brief shower of rain cooled things off as they played the final hole.
Little separated the group of leaders throughout the final day’s play. The first half of the final round was a see-sawing battle for the lead between Yang, Lee and Spain’s Carlota Ciganda, with in-form American Nelly Korda only a couple of shots behind.
Ciganda, 28, ranked 16th in the world, came out of the blocks firing and started her final round with an eagle followed by two birdies.
With only four holes to play, three were tied for the lead on 20-under – Yang, Ciganda and Lee – to set up the nail-biting finish. Ciganda scored an eagle on the 15th to give her a share of the lead and ended the round in third place with 20-under.
“I chipped in for eagle on the 15th and at the time I didn’t realise that had given me a share of the lead,” said Ciganda. “I was very happy with the way I played today and the way I’m playing in general.”
Thai favourites the Jutanugarn sisters played their final round in the same group, something they had not done for a long time.
“It was very special for us because I haven’t played together with her for a long time in Thailand,” said Ariya. “We talked to each other a lot during the round, but not about golf – where we’re going next week, what we’re going to eat and things like that.
“Right now I’m just trying to improve my game to get better and better and improve my confidence.”
“It’s been great playing front of Thai fans,” said Moriya. “That means a lot to us. My goal this year is to try to improve and to make every day better and better.”
The next best Thai finisher was Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras, who ended the tournament in tied in 29th place with an overall score of 5-under. Amateur Attaya Thitikul, who turned 16 on Wednesday, finished on even-par in 54th place.
The Honda LPGA Thailand 2019 is organized by IMG with Honda Automobile (Thailand) Co., Ltd as the title sponsor, and supported by many partners including the Sports Tourism Authority of Thailand, National Sports Development Fund (NSDF), Tourism Authority of Thailand, Betagro Group, Siam Daikin Sales Co., Ltd, EVA Airways Corporation, Siam GS Sales Co., Ltd, etc. Officially broadcasting the Honda LPGA Thailand 2019 will be MCOT Channel 30.
LAST FIVE CHAMPIONS AND RUNNERS-UP
2018: Jessica Korda, 263 (-25); Lexi Thompson, Moriya Jutanugarn, 267 (-21)
2017: Amy Yang, 266 (-22); So Yeon Ryu, 271 (-17)
2016: Lexi Thompson, 268 (-20); In Gee Chun, 274 (-14)
2015: Amy Yang, 273 (-15); Mirim Lee, Yani Tseng, Stacy Lewis, 275 (-13)
2014: Anna Nordqvist, 273 (-15); Inbee Park, 275 (-13)