KLPGA star Ji-Yai Shin fired a 66 to win the Ricoh Women’s British Open for her first major championship as well as her first LPGA victory. Yani Tseng also got home in 66 to finish in second place at -15, three shots behind. Eun-Hee Ji and JLPGA great Yuri Fudoh tied for third at -14 while Ai Miyazato claimed fifth at -13.
Shin and Fudoh, two non-members of the LPGA, started the day in the final pairing with Yuri leading by one stroke. Both birdied the 1st hole then Ji-Yai also birdied 5 to move into a tie for the lead at -14. Miyazato, who began the day only two shots behind, birdied the first two holes to draw within a shot but gave one back with a bogey at 7. Ai birdied the par-3 8th to get back to -13 and only one behind Shin. At the 9th, Shin birdied to take the outright lead at -15 while Fudoh bogeyed to fall two behind. Ji rattled off three straight birdies at 9, 10 and 11 to climb into second place at -14 and then Miyazato birdied 10 to join her. When the final twosome went through 10, they both made birdie to put Fudoh into a three-way tie for second at -14 and Shin two shots clear.
The Korean put it away at 13 and 14 – the two birdies opened up a four-shot lead with four holes to play (shades of Na Yeon Choi only seven days ago!). Shin did not falter, parring each of the last four holes. Fudoh birdied 15 to close within three but a bogey at 16 ended her hopes. Tseng birdied 18 to climb into a tie for second and finished as the sole runner-up when Miyazato took double-bogey at the last. Ji got a piece of third when she birdied 18.
With this victory, Ji-Yai Shin becomes the first LPGA non-member to win a major since Laura Davies won the 1987 U.S. Open. At age 20 she becomes the youngest player to win the British and is the fifth-youngest major champion. Three of the five youngest major champions achieved that feat this year (Tseng, Inbee Park, Shin) and the youngest of all did it last year (Pressel). I would say this Youth Movement on the LPGA is a pretty solid one.
By all indications this win guarantees Shin exempt status on Tour for 2009 only. Normally a victory by a non-member is worth only one exempt season – I don’t know if there are any additional years awarded if that win comes in a major. I imagine the LPGA will clarify that for us in a day or two.
Apologies for the lack of posts during the event. A family trip prevented me from watching any of the action or posting any updates. As usual, The Constructivist did a bang-up job of covering all the angles I might have (and then some!) over at Mostly Harmless.