Korean Hwang Ye-nah bucked a horrible start with clutch birdies and gutsy pars then held off amateur Princess Superal at the back to pound out a one-stroke victory despite a closing three-over 75 in the $75,000 ICTSI Ladies Open at Southlinks Golf Club on Friday.
Hwang blew a two-stroke lead and fell by two after just two holes but bounced back with a third straight birdie on No. 6 then watched her young rival squander chances to pull away with errant drives, poor iron game and shaky putting.
The Korean regained a two-shot lead at the turn and thwarted every Superal charge with birdies and pars to the dismay of the gallery which had braced for a big backside rally by the reigning US Girls Junior champion in the event presented by Champion Infinity and sponsored by ICTSI.
There was none as Superal, who moved to within one again with a birdie on No. 10, tottered and flubbed at least three makeable birdie putts, including a potential playoff side-hiller from 10 feet on the final hole. She settled for pars the rest of the way for a 74.
Hwang completed a wire-to-wire triumph in the 54-hole tournament she dominated with 68 and 66 in the first two rounds. She pooled a seven-under 209 and took the top $15,000 purse, which had been hers as early as the second round with the victory ending her string of poor finishes in the first three legs of the Taiwan LPGA.
Despite her day-long struggle with her irons that saw her reach regulation just six times, Superal kept pressing her bid at the back but just couldn’t set up birdie putts from close range, her makeable bids on Nos. 13, 14 and 18 falling to drop into the cup.
Taiwan’s Yeh Hsin-ning rallied with a four-under 68 and tied Thai Kanphanitnan Muangkhumsakul, who also faltered with a 74, at 215 and split the combined second and third prizes worth $12,000 while Mia Piccio never recovered from a second round 74 with a 76 and ended up solo fifth at 218 worth $3,150.
Reigning back-to-back ICTSI LPGT winner Cyna Rodriguez also sputtered with a 75 and finished sixth at 220 while two-time LPGA winner Jennifer Rosales finally flashed the form expected of her, firing a bogey-free 68 to salvage joint seventh with Malaysian Aretha Pan, who carded a 73, at 221.