Ji-Yai Shin, a 20-year-old South Korean, shot a final round of 6-under-par 66 to record a three-stroke victory Sunday in the Ricoh Women's British Open. A final total of 18-under 270 gave Shin her first major tournament win after recording 21 victories in Japan and South Korea.
In becoming the youngest player to win the Women's British Open as a major, Shin said she couldn't even fathom just how being a major tournament champion will impact her career.
"I don't know, because my whole life, I've been waiting for this time," Shin told reporters. "And my dream comes true now."
Shin's victory continued a trend of Asian domination in the women's professional golf scene, especially in majors. Asian players finished in the top five places on the leaderboard at Sunningdale Golf Club and also won the LPGA Championship and the Women's U.S. Open, which was won by Inbee Park of South Korea.
Taiwan's Yani Tseng (66), who won the 2008 LPGA Championship, was second behind Shin at 15-under 273. South Korea's Eun Hee Ji (67) and third-round leader Yuri Fudoh (71) of Japan tied for third on 14-under 274, while Japan's Ai Miyazato (70) placed fifth at 13-under 275.
Overall, 13 of the top 20 finishers were from Asia. That's a stat that defending British Open champion and world No. 1-ranked player Lorena Ochoa said is difficult to ignore.
"There are so many (Asian players), and they are playing so good, so consistent. and they work so hard," Ochoa told reporters. "I think it's something that so many of them had a good week again."
Ochoa was the only non-Asian player to win a major this year, capturing the Kraft Nabisco championship. Her final-round 69 on Sunday left her tied for seventh at 11-under 277.
Meanwhile, LPGA great Annika Sorenstam finished what could be her final major in style. The Swede, who said she plans step away from the game at year's end, sank a 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole to shoot 68 and finish tied for 24th at 6-under 282.
Sorenstam said she enjoyed an emotional walk up the 18th fairway as the gallery expressed its appreciation. One fan fashioned a simple sign, which read: "Annika, you'll be missed."
"I thought that was very special, and I waved at the guys and they clapped, and I came up 18 and everybody was cheering," Sorenstam told reporters. "It just makes you feel good when you get that type of applause.
"I've been out here for 15 years, and I've experienced a lot of joy, a few setbacks, but overall, it's been great. All of a sudden, everything just reflects on your mind, and you're just grateful."
Shin was left feeling the same. Her British Open victory earned her an invitation to play on the LPGA Tour.
In order to rally from one shot off the pace and overtake Fudoh in the final round, Shin said she had to overcome a bout with nerves. Shin pulled even with Fudoh with a birdie on No. 5 and took the lead with a birdie on No. 9.
Shin pulled two shots ahead with a birdie at No. 10. On No. 13, she extended her advantage to three, sinking a 45-foot birdie putt.
"Today, my driver and my irons, putting - everything was very well, very good, and so (it) gave me confidence," Shin said. "Today, I felt comfortable."
August 4, 2008
Anyone looking back at the final scores of the 2009 Ricoh Women's British Open at Royal Lytham and St. Anne's will almost certainly come to the wrong conclusion that this was a comfortable three-shot win for Catriona Matthew. It was anything but as the seemingly imperturbable Scot struggled to hit a fairway throughout the final round and was only rescued by some superb recovery shots and a bunch of astonishing long putts.
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