After a 4-under-par 68, Shanshan Feng captured her second straight TOTO Japan Classic, to become the first player to retain an LPGA title this season.
“That was my goal, before I started the week, to defend my title. My caddie told me: ‘This week, you’re going to be first. Two weeks ago, you finished third. Last week, you finished second, so you know what comes after that… first.’ I was like, OK, let’s go for it,” said Feng. “Here I am, and I’m really happy.”
Feng had a rough start Sunday, bogeying two of her first three holes. But, she settled into a groove and was 4-under par through her final 11 holes. It turned into a match-play situation with Japan’s own Ai Suzuki, who as 5-under through her final 10 holes, before making a bogey on the final hole of the tournament.
“Her ball striking is so good. She left herself so many birdie chances and I was freaked out,” Feng said of Suzuki with a laugh. “Before I started the round, I told myself to not look at the other scores and just go to 21-under par. I played very well. I’m very honoured and happy to play well in Asia, as an Asian.”
Feng also won the 2016 TOTO Japan Classic, for her sixth LPGA Tour win. The 2017 TOTO Japan Classic victory marks her second win of the season, as she won the LPGA Volvik Championship by one shot in May.
“In my heart, I was trying to win this week. And I’ve done it,” she said.
Feng also played on the JLPGA Tour where she won six times, and had robust fan support all week long at the Minori Course’s Taiheyo Club.
Suzuki had a chance to leapfrog Feng through the back nine, but any time Suzuki made a birdie, it seemed as though Feng would answer with one of her own.
She couldn’t capitalize on opportunities late in the round, and the final-hole bogey sealed the win for Feng.
After a hole-in-one on the par-3 3rd, Anna Nordqvist fired a 6-under-par 66 to move into solo third. To go along with her two victories in 2017, this marked her sixth top-10 finish of the season.
Lizette Salas finished at 13-under par after firing a 4-under-par 68 Sunday. Her fourth-place finish was her fourth top-5 result in her last five weeks. It was her seventh top-10 of the year.
Seven golfers finished at 12-under par and tied for fifth, including Moriya Jutanugarn, who notched her fifth top-5 of the year, and Lydia Ko, who recorded her fourth top-5 in her last seven events.
World No. 1 So Yeon Ryu said she would be taking next week off in order to rehab her still-injured shoulder as she makes a push for Player of the Year honours.
Lexi Thompson continues to lead the Race to the CME Globe as the LPGA Tour heads to China for the Blue Bay LPGA next week, the second-last event of the 2017 season.
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