|Yani Tseng, the new Ricoh Women’s British Open champion|
Taiwan’s Yani Tseng recorded a wire-to-wire victory at the Ricoh Women’s British Open, becoming the youngest player in history to have won three Major championships at the age of 21.
The bubbly Tseng won her second Major of the year and her third in total on a sunny afternoon at Royal Birkdale in Southport.
She fired a final round of 73 for an 11-under-par total of 277 and finished one shot ahead of Australian Katherine Hull.
Tseng fought off a spirited challenge from Hull. After three holes, her four stroke lead was trimmed to one, but she responded instantly with a birdie at the fourth as Hull took a bogey on the same hole.
Tseng regained her four stroke lead with a birdie at the par-five sixth and there was no change in the score line as both players made the turn in level par 35. However, after Tseng bogeyed the 10th, Hull had the title back in her sights and she birdied the 11th and 13th holes to get within one again.
Coming down the stretch, neither player was able to beat par, but Tseng breathed a sigh of relief as Hull missed a chance to tie from 20 feet at the 17th.
The par-five 18th hole still held its dramas. Tseng’s drive found a fairway bunker and she was forced to play her second shot out to the fairway, before hitting her third shot from 144 yards to the back of the green.
Hull hit her second shot long and chipped to 15 feet but her birdie putt slipped past the left edge of the hole. Tseng was then able to roll her second putt into the heart of the hole for a par to take the first prize of £261,493.
|Yani Tseng in tears with caddie Jason Hamilton|
It meant that she could fill another space in the roomy trophy cabinet she inherited from Annika Sorenstam when she bought the former world No.1’s home in Lake Nona, Florida. It was Tseng’s fifth victory as a professional and her fourth on the LPGA Tour.
Sorenstam, who is Tseng’s idol, had sent a text message the night before the final round, and Tseng had written her words in her yardage book.
“Yesterday she left me a message and she said I'm very happy to see you on top; that's where you belong. I was very happy to get her message. And she said, just trust your ability and you will be fine,” she said.
It was the first time that Tseng had won a tournament after leading going into the final round, four times having thrown a lead away and she considered it her best victory.
“I think it's the toughest win I feel. I always come from behind; I was never leading and won the tournament, I was always leading and lost. So today was really good. It meant a lot to me that I know I can do it when I really need to do it to win a tournament. I was nervous and tired,” she said.
“I was tired today because of all the pressure, all the tension. I was just really trying to focus because Katherine was really pushing me, and then I was just trying to stay relaxed, everything. It was a really tough day for me having a four shot lead going into Sunday.”
|Yani Tseng with Caroline Hedwall |
Queenslander Hull, 28, settled for a round of 70 and recorded her best finish in 23 appearances at Major championships.
Three shots back at seven under par, South Korean Na Yeon Choi, known as ‘NYC’, tied for third place with compatriot In Kyung Kim, the 2009 Omega
Dubai Ladies Masters champion. Fellow Korean Amy Yang tied for fifth at six under par with Hee-Kyung Seo and Cristie Kerr of the United States.
Maria Hernandez of Spain and Norwegian Suzann Pettersen were the leading European players in a share of 14th place on one-under-par, while regular Ladies European Tour competitors Lee-Anne Pace and Becky Brewerton tied for 21st place.
Caroline Hedwall of Sweden, 21, took the Smyth Salver as the leading amateur in equal 27th and is one to watch, following in the footsteps of former recipients such as Anna Nordqvist.