INCHEON • American Lexi Thompson took advantage of a faltering final round by world No. 2 Lydia Ko to claim the US$2 million (S$2.77 million) LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship by one shot in Incheon, South Korea, yesterday.
Golf's world No. 5 fired a final-round three-under 69 at the Sky 72 Club for a total of 273 to leapfrog joint overnight leader Ko (72) and claim her sixth LPGA Tour title and second of the year.
"Getting the win, it means so much," Thompson said at the trophy presentation.
Ko's difficult day was complete when she missed an eight-foot birdie putt on the last hole that would have allowed her to reclaim the world No. 1 ranking from South Korean Park In Bee.
Instead she finished in a share of fourth. Former world No. 1 Tseng Ya-ni (68), who has fallen outside the top 50, continued her return to form by finishing joint second with South Korean Park Sung Hyun (71), who struggled with a cold putter on the back nine.
It was Tseng's fourth top-10 finish of the year, and third in her last four starts.
"I'm looking forward to getting a win," said the Taiwanese golfer, who will be looking for her first victory since March 2012 this week on home soil at the Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship.
"I came to Asia for these five weeks looking for a win and I know every week it is getting closer."
South Korean Amy Yang struck a joint course-record 62 to vault up the leaderboard to claim a share of fourth on 275, alongside Ko and American Gerina Piller (67).
Ko and Sung Hyun had started the round with a share of the lead but the New Zealand teenager never really got going yesterday with three bogeys in the middle of her round to drop off the pace.
The big-hitting Sung Hyun, a three-time winner on the Korean Tour this year, was always in touch but a string of missed birdie efforts over the closing holes meant she could not exert more pressure on the 20-year-old Thompson.
The American, meanwhile, had no such problems with the short stick and recorded a run of three straight birdies from the seventh to move clear.
Although she dropped a shot on the par-four 11th, she produced a neat up-and-down on the driveable par-four 15th to pick up another birdie and stay clear as she calmly parred her way home.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE