PHOENIX: World No. 1 Yani Tseng birdied five of the first six holes on the back nine after the second of three rain delays yesterday on her way to a one-stroke triumph at the LPGA Founders Cup.
Taiwan’s Tseng fired a four-under par 68 in the final round of the 1.5 million event at Wildfire Golf Club to finish 72 holes on 18-under par 270, one stroke ahead of Japan’s Ai Miyazato and South Korean World No. 2 Na Yeon Choi. Thunderstorm delays of 74 and 66 minutes stretched the day for the leaders, all playing in the final threesome. But Tseng responded after the second stoppage with birdies at the par-4 10th and par-5 11th. She ran off another streak of three in a row ending at the par-5 15th that was interrupted by a 42-minute storm delay, then parred the final three holes in a gathering gloom on the Arizona desert to take the victory.
It was Tseng’s second triumph in four starts this year after a successful title defense last month in Thailand and her 14th career crown. Tseng won 12 titles last year in a breakout season, seven of them in LPGA events and two at majors. She will try to add to her major total in two weeks at the Kraft Nabisco, where she was second last year to American Stacy Lewis.
Tseng shared the 54-hole lead with Miyazato, her final round playing partner in Thailand when Miyazato also lost to Tseng by a stroke. Miyazato, still in search of a major title, was foiled in a bid for her eighth LPGA victory. Miyazato birdied the par-4 third and par-5 fifth holes and answered a bogey at the par-3 six with a birdie at the par-4 eighth, but could only muster a birdie at the par-4 16th on the back nine.
Choi ran off three birdies in a row starting at the par-5 fifth but a double bogey at the eighth dropped her back before she bounced back with birdies at the par-5 11th, par-3 14th and par-4 16th to fall just short. Tseng birdied the par-4 third but stumbled with back-to-back bogeys at seven and eight, only to set up her early back-nine surge that no foe could equal. -- AFP