Sunday, October 22, 2006

Honda LPGA Thailand – Final Round

Hee-Won Han vaulted to the front with five birdies over the first seven holes, then cruised to victory at the Honda LPGA Thailand. Her final score of -14 was five shots better than Diana D’Alessio and six better than Candie Kung, Gloria Park and Nicole Castrale. It was Han’s second win of 2006 and the sixth of her career.

Starting the day two shots back and playing in the last group with Castrale, Han was tied for the lead when she birdied 2 and Nicole bogeyed 3. Hole #4 provided a two-shot swing as Han birdied and Castrale bogeyed again. By the time they were through #8, Hee-Won was six strokes ahead and on cruise control. Castrale’s round of 75 left her at -8. Of the other contenders, Candie Kung (-8 70) had the best chance (albeit a slim one) when she was -9 through the 11th, but bogeys at 12 and 15 ended her hopes. D’Alessio was only -6 at the turn, but came on to steal second place with birdies on 10, 15 and 18.

Christina Kim faltered to tie for sixth by posting a 73. Cristie Kerr also tied for sixth to become my only pick to finish Top 10. A tough choice for this week’s Big Surprise, but I’ll go with Carin Koch. Koch finished in the tie for sixth for her first Top 10 of the year, and only her third Top 20 finish.

A couple of top players really turned things around at this event. Hee-Won had been slipping down my rankings so it was good to see her get back on track. I would also like to point out that Shi Hyun Ahn returned to action this week – her first LPGA event since the British Open in early August – and played very well, finishing T12 (-4). Most of the players here (including Han and Ahn) are in the field at the next event in Korea, which begins Friday.