Associated Press5 minutes of reading
SPRINGFIELD, NJ — Becoming the second woman from China to win back a major championship Ruoning Yin in awe, even an hour after being presented with the Women’s PGA Championship trophy at Baltusrol.
“When I walked up to this tent, I was just like, ‘Oh, wow, big winner!’ It’s amazing. It’s just unreal,” Yin said on Sunday.
Yin made a birdie putt from about 10 feet on the final hole to beat Yuka Saso by 1 stroke. The 20-year-old closed with a 4-under 67 to finish at 8-under 276 and take a place in Chinese sporting history alongside Shanshan Feng.
“I would say she is definitely the target I’m chasing,” Yin said. “But I think she’s the person who inspired me the most.”
Feng, now the national golf coach of China, won 23 events worldwide, including 10 on the LPGA Tour.
Yin wasn’t even playing golf when Feng won this event — then known as the LPGA Championship — in 2012. She was 9 years old and didn’t start playing for another 18 months. Her main sport was basketball and she idolized Stephen Curry, but her shorter stature made her turn to golf.
Yin has really hit it off in the last two years. She picked up her first LPGA Tour victory earlier this year in Los Angeles and is now the third player to win twice this season, joining Lilia Vu and world No. 1 Jin Young Ko. This win came with a $1.5 million paycheck.
Yin earned it with his fourth birdie on a bogey-free day.
After Saso birdied her front on the par-5 18th hole to move into a tie for the lead, Yin found the rough with her tee shot, then hit her third shot in an ideal spot and curled a right-to-left chipped putt , her fist pumped after it fell.
“I actually kind of felt like I was going to make it and I made it,” said Yin, who hit a tournament-best 66 greens in regulation and 48 of 56 fairways. “It’s a very strange feeling.”
Rose Zhang, who won in her professional debut three weeks ago, also in New Jersey, made a charge with a final-round 67 to finish in a tie for eighth, 3 shots back.
Saso, the 2021 US Women’s Open champion, shot a 66. The championship had a mid-round delay of nearly two hours due to inclement weather, and Yin made three of her birdies after the restart.
Saso of Japan thought she had blown her chance to win when she missed a 10-foot birdie attempt to tie the lead on No. 17. She got up and down from a greenside bunker to birdie the final hole .
“After missing the birdie on the 17th, I just wished I wasn’t going to hit my drive in the water on the 18th,” she said. “But glad I didn’t. Hit a good shot and second shot hit it in the left bunker. It wasn’t an easy bunker shot, but it was manageable and I was able to make it pretty good.”
Xiyu Lin, who either led or shared the lead for most of her last nine, found the water with her drive on the 18th and bogeyed — shooting 67 to finish 2 shots back along with Carlota Ciganda (64), Anna Nordqvist (65) , Megan Khang (67) and Stephanie Meadow (70).
“Unfortunately, I didn’t hit a good tee shot on the last hole,” said the 27-year-old Lin, who is winless on the LPGA Tour but entered ranked No. 14 in the world. “But it could have happened any other hole. I think overall I gave myself good chances. It’s still a really good Sunday to have a lot to take away.”
Lin, also from China, rents a house in Florida to Yin and has joked that she will raise the rent.
Yin was asked about it after winning.
“Oh, wow. In fact, I’m thinking of buying her house right now,” she said, drawing a laugh. “Yeah, just think about it.”
Leona Maguire, who won last week and led after the second and third rounds, shot 74 to end a run of eight straight rounds in the 60s. Seeking to become the first woman from Ireland to win a major, she finished 4 shots back. Maguire did not speak to the media.
Jenny Shin, who started the final round one shot behind Maguire, had a 72 to finish at 5 under along with Zhang and Ayaka Furue.
Baltusrol posted just 16 under par Thursday, but with the course softened by rain, 35 players broke par in the final round, including tournament-low rounds of 64 from Ciganda and Perrine Delacour. No one had shot better than 66 before Sunday.
Zhang, who turned professional after winning his second straight NCAA individual title, started the round at 1 under and got to 6 under at No. 11 with his fifth birdie of the round. She never got closer, bogeying Nos. 13 and 16 around a birdie on 14. She hit her tee shot into the water on the final hole and saved par.
“It’s really cool to see that my game is there and I just have to work a little bit extra harder to play better,” said the 20-year-old.
The next event on the LPGA Tour is another major, the US Women’s Open, which takes place 6-9. July at Pebble Beach.