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Golf: Tseng shows her class to retain Honda LPGA title

20 February, 2012

PATTAYA: Taiwan's Yani Tseng clinched victory the Honda LPGA Thailand tournament on Sunday in a thrilling performance that showed why she is the world's number one women's golfer.

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Tseng, who was the defending champion in the $1.5 million event, fired a six-under-par 66 to edge out Japan's Ai Miyazato by one stroke at the Siam Country Club Old Course. The Japanese star performed bravely throughout the round, battling back time and again to keep the pressure on Tseng. But the Taiwanese seized the win in dramatic fashion with a stunning iron to the green at the 18th from 104 yards, leaving her a two-foot birdie putt to defeat Miyazato, who also birdied the hole for a 68. Korea's Shin Ji-Yai shot 67 for third place while compatriot Amy Yang was a further three shots behind. Tseng said her victory was “very emotional” and she had to work hard for it, especially on the back nine.

“That was my shot of the week at the 18th,” she said. “I knew I had to get it close because Ai had a birdie lined up. I didn't want it to go to a play-off.” Miyazato said she was quite happy with her performance despite just missing out. “Overall I played really well, although I let slip a couple of birdie chances,” she said. “But next time I want to win.” She praised Tseng's performance. “Yani is No 1, so I knew it wouldn't be easy. After five holes she was five-under and I kind of expected that.” The spectators were treated to golf of the highest calibre as the two stars battled it out. Tseng showed her intentions right from the start with an eagle at the first hole, immediately wiping out Miyazato's overnight lead despite the Japanese player sinking a birdie at the same hole. Looking supremely confident, Tseng moved into the lead with a birdie at the third and by the seventh was four shots ahead.

But Miyazato kept fighting back and on the back nine it was virtually toe-to-toe, especially the last four holes. Shin, playing in the pairing in front with Karrie Webb, was also doing well and at the 17th was briefly level with Tseng, but was unable to deliver at the last. Webb's own challenge collapsed with a quadruple-bogey nine at the seventh and she finished in ninth place. Tseng said she tried to stay relaxed on the back nine, with many Japanese in the huge gallery supporting Miyazato. “My caddy kept me calm and I tried to smile a lot. It was an incredible crowd.” Then came the drama at the par-five 18th. Despite a poor drive, Miyazato gave herself the chance of a birdie but Tseng rose to the occasion with her third shot. Sunday also saw the third hole-in-one of the tournament when Morgan Pressel of the US aced the eighth. The LPGA Tour next moves to Singapore for the HSBC Women's Champions tournament.

End.