BALTUSROL (AFP): China’s Yin Ruoning sank a 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole on Sunday to win the Women’s PGA Championship for her first major title.
The 20-year-old from Shanghai fired a four-under par 67 to finish 72 holes at Baltusrol on eight-under 276 and defeat Japan’s Yuka Saso by one stroke.
Yin took the $1.5 million top prize and became only the second woman from China to win a major title after Feng Shanshan, who captured the 2012 Women’s PGA crown.
“It’s amazing,” Yin said. “It’s just unreal.”
Saso, a 22-year-old Philippine-born Japanese star who won the 2021 US Women’s Open, birdied the par-5 18th to match Yin for the lead at 7-under on the rain-soaked layout at Springfield, New Jersey.
Yin answered by landing her approach 10 feet from the hole and rolled in the tension-packed birdie putt for the victory in the year’s second women’s major tournament.
“After the tee shot I saw Yuka make an incredible birdie here, I knew I had to make birdie at this hole to win the championship and I’m glad I did it,” Yin said.
An early afternoon storm halted play for almost two hours, but after play resumed Yin birdied the 13th and 14th to grab a share of the lead, parred the next three holes as rivals faltered, and won at the last after hitting every green in regulation in the final two rounds.
“For last couple days, my ball striking was perfect,” Yin said. “I only missed six greens in four days so I think my ball striking was pretty good.
“My goal for today, just no three-putts. And I did it too. I didn’t think too much. Just no three-putts Because last few days I made five bogeys and four of them were three-putts.”
A third-place pack on 278 included Spain’s Carlota Ciganda, Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist, China’s Lin Xiyu, American Megan Khang and Northern Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow.
Japan’s Ayaka Furue, South Korean Jenny Shin and American Rose Zhang shared eighth on 279.
Yin had joined Feng as the only Chinese women to win an LPGA title when she captured the LA Open in April.
Among those unable to match Yin down the stretch was Lin, who shared the lead when the storm struck.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Lin said of Yin’s victory. “She’s young and she’s so talented. She’s definitely really good at dealing with pressure. It’s great to see that.”
Yin rents a house in Orlando from Lin and said she hadn’t thought about how her rent might now get higher.
“Actually, I’m thinking about buying her house right now,” Yin said.
– ‘I’ve got goosebumps’ –
Shin and Lin were deadlocked atop the leaderboard when play resumed after the storm but seven others were within two strokes.
Lin held the lead alone after Shin made a bogey at the eighth and kept it until Yin birdied the 13th and 14th and Saso made her fourth birdie in six holes at 15 to share the lead on 7-under, although Saso stumbled with a bogey at 16.
Lin found water off the tee at the par-5 18th and closed with a bogey to leave Yin alone in the lead.
Saso responded with a tap-in birdie at 18 to share the lead, setting the stage for Yin’s closing heroics.
“I actually kind of felt that I was going to make it and I made it,” Yin said. “It’s a very weird feeling.”
She joined a list of major winners at Baltusrol that includes Jack Nicklaus, Phil Mickelson and women’s icon Mickey Wright.
“I’ve got goosebumps,” Yin said. “They’re all legends. I’m glad that I can be part of it.”
Yin hopes her victory can boost golf in China.
“I think it means a lot,” Yin said. “I think it’s going to push a lot of kids to play golf.”