Shanghai, China: Danielle Kang celebrated her 27th birthday in style by successfully defending her Buick LPGA Shanghai title.
The American, who started the day one shot off the lead at the China LPGA-US LPGA Tour co-sanctioned event, closed with a round of 70 at Qizhong Garden Golf Club. That gave her a winning 72-hole score of 16-under 272, earning the San Francisco native US$315,000 for her third LPGA title.
Overnight leader Jessica Korda carded an even-par 72 to finish second, one shot shy of Kang’s total. China’s Liu Yu (65) ended equal third with Japanese Nasa Hataoka (68) and American Kirsten Gillman (68) on 275.
Kang said she returned to Shanghai ‘wanting to win’ but ‘never felt safe’ in her bid to repeat as champion until the last putt dropped.
Kang said: “It was a really stressful day. I definitely played well. It was really tough because you’re watching what Jessica is shooting and scoring, and always just trying to keep in my own game.
“There were a lot of birdie opportunities. I made some great up-and-downs. I’ve never been more nervous than the last putt. But I made it.”
American Korda, daughter of Czech tennis great Petr Korda, lamented her inability to ‘get anything going’ in her bid for a sixth LPGA Tour title.
“Everything was half shots. I was either short or I was long. It was just one of those days where it wasn’t meant to be, I guess,” said the 26-year-old Florida native.
“But if you were going to tell me at the start of the week I would finish second, play in the final group and have the week I did, I would probably have taken it.”
Liu, the 23-year-old China number two, posted her seventh top-10 finish on the US LPGA Tour this year. Her round featured eight birdies, three of them coming over the last four holes, and a lone bogey.
China number one Feng Shanshan registered her best round of the week when she closed with a bogey-free, four-under 68 to finish equal 14th on seven-under. The Guangdong native, who will be in the field for December’s Macalline Women’s China Open, said: “Today, my overall feeling is good. I successfully adjusted my swing and made no big mistakes.”
American Megan Khang (64) and China’s Zhang Yunjie (69) both registered holes-in-one. The fourth and fifth aces of the tournament set a new mark for most holes-in-one at a China LPGA Tour event.
World number one Ko Jin-young signed off with a 69 to sit equal ninth at nine-under in a group that included Canadian Brooke Henderson, the half-way leader, who struggled to her second consecutive round of one-over 73.