Trust in her swing pays off for South Korean Ji

Ji Eun-hee pretending to take a selfie with the trophy after winning the Tournament of Champions on Sunday.
Ji Eun-hee pretending to take a selfie with the trophy after winning the Tournament of Champions on Sunday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

MIAMI • The conditions were chilly in the final round of the LPGA Tour's Tournament of Champions on Sunday, but Ji Eun-hee warmed up to the task early to seize the title after firing a one-under 70 for a two-shot win over fellow South Korean Lee Mi-rim.

On a day when colder temperatures (just above 10 deg C) and gusty winds made life more difficult at the Four Seasons Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, Ji shook off back-to-back opening bogeys to win her fifth LPGA title.

"It was a little bit chilly for me today. My body was a little bit tight on first tee, so I just pulled a little bit and I made a bogey," she said.

"I made a bogey again (on the) second hole. I was like, 'OK, wait a minute. I need to play this'. But I have like 16 more holes, and I just trust my swing after that."

The 32-year-old, a former US Women's Open champion whose 2017 Swinging Skirts Taiwan triumph saw her end an eight-year title drought, has now won at least one tournament in three straight seasons.

She started the day tied for the lead with New Zealand's former world No. 1 Lydia Ko and they remained locked atop the leaderboard after nine holes.

But Ko's challenge faded with a double-bogey at No. 13, promptly followed by a bogey at No. 14.

She made her only birdie of the day at the 16th, but another double-bogey at the par-three 18th saw her slump to a six-over 77. That left her in eighth place, seven shots adrift of Ji's 14-under 270 total.

Ji finished with five birdies and four bogeys. Lee applied some pressure with birdies at the 10th, 13th and 16th that moved her to 12 under and that was where she finished after her three-under 68.

Ji added that the format of the new season-opening event, which features celebrities playing alongside LPGA winners from the past two seasons, made for a relaxing week. "It made it more fun," she said. "I didn't get nervous."

American Nelly Korda (71) finished third.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2019, with the headline 'Trust in her swing pays off for South Korean Ji'. Print Edition | Subscribe