Yang earns big payday
First American LPGA title comes with record-tying $2M prize
NAPLES, FLA. Amy Yang picked a lucrative time for her first LPGA Tour title on American soil. Yang birdied her last two holes for a 6-under 66 and won the CME Group Tour Championship by three shots. The $2-million (U.S.) prize matched the largest in women’s golf. “I was so nervous down the stretch,” said Yang, who has won four LPGA tournaments in Asia. “But I try to tell myself: I can do this.” Yang holed out for eagle from the 13th fairway to overcome an early three-shot deficit, then let thirdround co-leader Nasa Hataoka make the mistakes in crucial moments down the stretch. After draining a 10-foot birdie putt on No. 18, Yang dropped her putter and covered her face as a half-dozen golfers charged the green and soaked her with bubbly. She had a towel wrapped around her shoulders as she signed her scorecard. “It’s a great honour to have my first victory here,” said the 34-yearold South Korean, who finished at 27-under 261, breaking the tournament record by four strokes. Hataoka and Alison Lee, still winless on tour, tied for second at 24 under. Canadian Brooke Henderson wound up 12th at 15 under after a final-round 71. “Amy had a phenomenal round,” said Lee. “Once she made her eagle on 13, I think that really turned the course of the whole entire day for her.” Yang trailed by three shots after six holes Sunday before charging back into the mix with three birdies over a four-hole stretch. Hataoka answered with a 10-foot birdie putt of her own, and they were tied going to the final three holes. Hataoka blinked first. Her birdie attempt from the fringe ran six feet past the hole, and a putt for par caught the lip. That ended a string of 35 holes without a bogey. On the par-5 17th, Hataoka missed left down a steep ridge, with the pin cut to the left. She bumped her chip to eight feet and missed the birdie chance. Lilia Vu, a two-time major champion this year and No. 1 in the world rankings, closed with a 65 to finish alone in fourth and lock up LPGA player of the year honours for the first time.