Rolex Rankings No. 8 Jiyai Shin outdueled Lydia Ko and held off a surging world No. 1 Yani Tseng to capture the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open at Royal Canberra Golf Club.
Shin stamped her authority on the championship when she hit a perfectly executed lob wedge chip shot into the 14th hole from thick rough.
The 24-year-old South Korean had stood on the 14th tee tied with the 15-year-old Ko at 16 under par, but Ko took bogey after finding a fairway bunker and after Shin birdied the 15th, it was effectively over for Ko, the winner of the previous week’s ISPS Handa New Zealand Open, who finished in third place as the leading amateur.
Tseng fired the low round of the day, a 66, to shoot up to second position. She was still in the hunt coming down the 18th, but needing an eagle she hit her second shot into the trees left of the green and took a par.
Shin, who is once again a force in women’s golf after recovering from hand surgery last year, said the pressure that mounted over Sunday’s highlight made her lob wedge shot one of the best shots of her career.
“Well I think today this chip shot is much – make the important of this tournament because before when I chip it in, my play wasn’t bad,” said Shin. “But after chipped it in I get more in the legs and then more enjoy the other few holes. So it was great up and down for me.”
The 2012 Ricoh Women’s British Open champion said she could’ve taken relief but she preferred the lie she already had near the wooden fence fixture.
“Yes, from the ball to the hole around the 15 yard and then I hit a low wedge, 60 degree wedges and I hit a little bit high shot and then it was land perfectly,” said Shin. “Then the actual lie, the green lie was straight, so I just keep focus, hit it straight (laughs) because the fence is really close to the ball flight, so I just – I’m thinking, just keep headed down.”
While most fans focused on Jiyai Shin and Lydia Ko, the world No. 1 player in the world, Tseng, started the day eight shots back and chipped away at the lead playing three groups in front of final pair. Tseng used a bogey on No. 1 as motivation and got things going with three-consecutive birdies to follow.
“After first hole I wasn’t happy to make bogey there,” said Tseng. “I think I was a little nervous, but I don’t know, but that bogey I think give me pump a little bit. That’s why I think I make three birdies in a row, I think because of that bogey.”
Tseng eagled No. 6 to get her to 13-under and made the turn four strokes off the lead. It wasn’t until the middle of her back nine when she thought she might have a shot at catching Shin.
“On the back 9, I think about like 12, 13 hole because I know I was pretty close but after I look next hole I made birdie, it was like, you never see Jiyia make bogey,” said Tseng. “I think she only made a couple of bogey today, but I feel like on the back you still have two more par 5s, so I feel like still a good chance to make birdie and to make eagle to get close. But I was pretty happy about it today. I’m going to try my best and the last three holes really got me pumped up little bit, because I really want to make birdie to get close.”
Tseng would go on to get three more birdies on the back nine on Nos. 13, 15 and 16 to cut the lead to two. It came down to the final hole, the par 5 18th to have any chance of catching Shin who still had three holes to play.
“I know, I feel like I want to make eagle because I mean I’ve been hitting my 17 pretty good all day, but on that one I just, I probably tried to killed it and it was pulling to the left,” said Tseng. “But I still got a pretty good lie for the third shot. I mean, I just make that shot too complicated. It should be pretty simple really. I kind of played that tree and played, but those trees should be very easy and I just hit it too hard for my third shot, otherwise could be a good birdie there.”
After a brilliant putting performance in her first round, Ko thinks her work on the greens still needs improvement. She had 21 putts on Thursday during her 10-under 63 in comparison to her 33 during her final round.
“I always think putting is the biggest part of the game and also the psychology part,” said Ko. “So those are the two things I would like to build up. I’ve got a couple of years until I turn pro so I guess within that period hopefully I’ll be able to get a little bit better.”
Jiyai Shin, -18, Rolex Rankings No. 8
Yani Tseng, -16, Rolex Ranking No. 1
Lydia Ko, -14, Rolex Rankings No. 30
JIYAI SHIN, Rolex Rankings No. 8
MODERATOR: Just what the doctor ordered? They said you were the villain, you won and Lydia was just in and she said that she enjoyed playing with you. She that from everybody she played with she learnt something. She learnt from you today that if you had a birdie or whatever happened, the next hole started fresh and she was taking that with her.
JIYAI SHIN: Well I really enjoyed with Lydia because, you know, yesterday probably about she made it sad for me because she make I feel too old to play (laughs) but I really enjoy and still very impressive her playing. She did it great and then her putting is also great. She said after we finish, she ask: How many times did you win on the LPGA? I say: Oh I had 11 win this time, but I said, you are a lot younger than me, so you have more chance to win (laughs) the year, so.
Well, finally I win in Australia so I really happy about that and well, I was so nervous this morning because this course I had a good chance for birdie but also lot of make hard to keeping the par. Then the course is kept dry, so really hard to control with my iron distance, but I had two bogeys today, but I think they still happy with only two bogeys because I missed a few greens today but my chip shot was great and I had a good up and down out there. So well I believe – and then when I come through the 18th, the green, so many people down there so I would feel was amazing to work through the 18th.
MODERATOR: You have a lot of support here.
JIYAI SHIN: Yes, yes. Well, I don’t know, so when I come to Australia all the time I’m just like really comfortable and I really enjoy. I meet a lot of friends. I have a lot of friends in Australia and I really enjoy the time watching the kangaroos (laughs). So well, I really happy to be here.
Q. Jiyai, before you chipped in and you were in the rough, Tseng was coming home strong. Were you worried that that’s when it was about to go south?
JIYAI SHIN: Well, it was little bit but I have like, like, 30, 40 centimetres chance of the – still have room, not enough, like less than 50 centimetres, but I’m pretty sure I can hit it straight (laughs) with my chip shot and then actually ball sitting was good. So if I dropped that, I’m not sure ball sitting like that good. So I just kept hitting and when they’re in, I really surprised (laughs). So I’m pretty sure that is golf (laughs).
Q. How does that compare to your eagle out of the bunker yesterday?
JIYAI SHIN: Well I think today this chip shot is much – make the important of this tournament because before when I chip it in, my play wasn’t little bit tough but after chipped it in I get – final I get more in the legs and then more enjoy the other few holes. So it was great up and down for me.
Q. Jiyai, can you explain how you played that shot, did you hit a long wedge, did you open the face?
JIYAI SHIN: Yes, from the ball to the hole around the 15 yard and then I hit a low wedge, 60 degree wedges and I hit a little bit high shot and then it was land perfect and then the actual lie, the green lie was straight, so I just keep focus, hit it straight (laughs) because the fence is really close to the ball flight, so I just – I’m thinking, just keep headed down (laughs).
Q. Could you have had a drop there if you wanted to have a drop, you would have been able to have a drop?
JIYAI SHIN: Well, it was very close to the fence, so if I hit a little bit bigger swing, definitely I hit the fence.
Q. So you preferred to play it because it was lying well?
JIYAI SHIN: Yes.
Q. Is it one of the best shots of your career, do you think?
JIYAI SHIN: I think so, yes.
Q. Do you feel you got a 4 stroke lead possibly two early, four strokes after two and you had to think about that for a fairly long while after that?
MODERATOR: When you had a big lead early in the round, did it make you think then, all the round you’re thinking: I must protect my lead?
JIYAI SHIN: Well, not really. Lydia had a couple mistake first couple of holes but you know, I pretty sure she playing good this course too, so I just keep focus my game and then last year I have a great experience of the big lead, so it make help for keep focus.
Q. Did you know that Yani had gone to equal leader with you?
JIYAI SHIN: Well I didn’t know exactly her score each hole but I saw that she playing good (laughs) like around the 15 and 16 because at the course they have a few leaderboards, so I keep watching that she playing and her score. Then when I on number 15, they have a screen and then I saw that she playing on the 18 the chance to two on, so I said: Wow. Then I have a good chance for birdie on 15 too, so I thinking: Oh, definitely I have to make this putt (laughs).
Q. What did you think of Lydia’s performance throughout?
JIYAI SHIN: Well, she missed a couple of shots today but she is still great player. I know today when she’s playing, even me, we played with a really big pressure, so very impressive all the time when I’m watching her play and I really enjoyed watching her playing.
Then, well, I played her last year in Canada and I thinking she grown up a little bit, she’s taller than me now (laughs), so well I think she had a lot of opportunity for the next few years.
Q. It didn’t really seem you were conversing a lot today or chatting a lot today. Was that because of the tension of the day?
JIYAI SHIN: Yes and then last couple of days was really hot here and so today physically feels like really little bit tired, because, you know, pretty warm and keep dry, little wind in the afternoon so hard to keep focus on this afternoon.
We’ll definitely have a lot of tension, pressure because this is the first tournament of the LPGA so all the players make a good start of this year, so I had big pressure and last night I talk with my Dad and he keep pushing me (laughs) like: Oh, you’re still good player, just keeping going. He said a lot of things for me so it make a little bit pressure more.
Q. Did you feel as though the luck went your way today? You holed the chip shot. On number 10 the ball hit the trees and ricocheted into the middle of the fairway.
JIYAI SHIN: Yes.
Q. It didn’t go for Lydia on the first hole, it ricocheted backwards. It was maybe your turn after the two runner-up finishes?
JIYAI SHIN: Well I think a little bit like that but you know, with golf nobody knows, so I just keep looking at it.
Q. Can you tell us about when you ran down the fairway on one hole?
JIYAI SHIN: Oh, well little bit further back of the front group, so we had a little warning of the time (laughs).
Q. Jiyai, did you feel you were behind, because you seemed to be keeping up with the group in front and Recari’s not noted for being a fast player, so it seemed to me like you were keeping up with them.
JIYAI SHIN: Well, our group have a lot of people around the course so when we cross to the – after we’re finished, really hard to get to the other tees, so it take a lot of time and then, you know, when players playing with the pressure, they’re playing a little bit long, so it take a little bit – we couldn’t catch the front groups I’m pretty sure, we have to go fast and then – well yeah, so that’s why I run a couple of holes (laughs).
Q. Did you have any doubts that you’d get back to playing this well after your injury that you had?
JIYAI SHIN: Sorry, what did you say?
MODERATOR: Did you ever have any doubts after your injury you would then become such a great player?
JIYAI SHIN: I think, actually I got more strength after operation because straight after operation, two months break make a lot of muscles lost of my left side, my arms and hand, so after that I really hard training with my physical body. So after operation I get more distance actually, so it made the help for more chance to make a birdie on the par 5.
Q. Do you feel that you can be a better player now than you were when you were number 1 for 18 months or two years or however long it was?
JIYAI SHIN: Well, I think so because I have more experience and then I know how – then I have experience with the playing with the pressure too, and well, now I’m more focused to enjoy the playing, but well when I play on the course, it feels like I’m playing like coach management and when I’m playing with a chip shot and putting is much better than a couple of years ago.
Q. How many times have you visited Australia now? You mentioned the meat pies and kangaroos a few times; how many times have you been out here?
JIYAI SHIN: Well I don’t know, almost 10 times. I think more than 10, 10 or more than 10. Then also I work like for few years with the Australian caddies, now I’m working with a French guy but when I work with the Australian guy I learn some Aussie word like g’day mate (laughs).
JIYAI SHIN: Yeah, some slang of the Australian and then I’m still working with my trainer, he’s Australian guy too, so well when I first time be here, when I was 15, 14, yeah in my memory, when I first time came to be here, I really just fall in love in Australia, so I’m coming every year still.
Q. Jiyai, have you got any goals set for this year? Obviously you’ve got two majors, both British Opens, you no doubt want to win more majors, but have you set any goals for this year?
JIYAI SHIN: I’m looking for the Player of the Year, because so many good premium players play on the LPGA but we never get the Player of the Year. So that’s my new goal this year. But first I’m just keep focus each tournament because well, actually before when I came to this tournament I really wanted to be win this tournament too because I had a good chance of this tournament last few years, and well, I want to showing the good win in front of the Australian people (laughs), so I made first goal this year, so I just step by step and then the end of the year I’m looking for the Player of the Year.
Q. Would you like to see the tournament come back here in a few years at some point, in Canberra?
JIYAI SHIN: Well, this is my first time in Canberra and then, you know, last year when I play in Melbourne is totally different, the course shape, lots of trees round here, that’s my – when I come first day when I come up to here, I’m thinking: This is my course, so I just, I hope keep playing with this course (laughs).
Q. You have a very positive attitude on the golf course; it’s very different to Lydia’s. Do you think it gives you an advantage on the course, a bit of momentum from it?
MODERATOR: You have a different personality, you’re very cheerful on the course and do you think that this gives you a momentum that you love to play, so you’re very cheerful, then you go to the next hole cheerfully and it really doesn’t seem to get you down if things are not really going your way.
JIYAI SHIN: Well, this is me (laughs). Well, yeah, that’s me. In the golf course our outside the golf course I’m always enjoying my life and then, you know, when I’m playing on the course, I’m just like I’m really lucky to playing on the LPGA, so (laughs) and well, and then the players, we walking in the middle of the fairway, this the only player and then few volunteers and caddies, very special for walking on the fairway and just really enjoy playing and then walking on the golf course. You know, I said after operation finally I found that how I love it, playing golf and then I love my life, so it make it more happy and then more positive thinking on the golf course.
YANI TSENG, Rolex Rankings No. 1
MODERATOR: Yani, your best for last. Was it great fun out there today?
YANI TSENG: It is. I mean, it was a pretty solid round for me and I mean I just want to – I feel really appreciated, those fans out here, they give me 100 per cent support, because I saw so many friends that follow me for four days, so it was very incredible because, I mean, when I stay most is Asian and probably 10 or 20 of them, but this week it was like bunch of player coming out.
I told my manager, like wow, so many player coming out, so many people coming out to watch me play. I want to show my best and I think they give me lots of motivation to play well too. I want to do the best out here.
I mean, I it was great. I wanted – I feel very warm welcome to first week of the tournament in Australia. So I mean, I always feeling good here and I mean, I try my best today. I think today I got some pretty good lucky bounce too, because I didn’t drive as well like last few days but I got some good bounce, kick on the fairway, hit the tree, bounced to the fairway, so it’s kind of really lucky.
To finish 7 under, I’m very happy for whole week. I mean, last hole I just tried a little bit too hard. I had 240 to the pin, 210 to the front. I can easy hit my 17 rescue there but it was gusting wind when I want to hit, so I kinda waited a little bit, but still pretty strong winds, but I just hit it too hard over to the left and didn’t make birdie there but I’m pretty happy with whole day; pretty solid round today.
MODERATOR: Was there one time that you looked at the leaderboard and think: This could be mine? Was there a certain part in your round, did you think that?
YANI TSENG: On the back 9, I think about like 12, 13 hole because I was – I didn’t switch off after I made birdie on the par 3, I start doing, so I know I was pretty close but after I look next hole I made birdie, it was like, you never see Jiyia make bogey.
I think she only made a couple of bogey today, but I feel like on the back you still have two more par 5s, so I feel like still a good chance to make birdie and to make eagle to get close. But I was pretty happy about it today. I’m going to try my best and the last three hole really give me pump up little bit, because I really want to make birdie to get close.
MODERATOR: There was almost a stampede of your fans out there when you finished. They were almost throwing themselves at you to get your autograph and get your photo. That makes you feel very welcomed here.
YANI TSENG: I mean it’s my pleasure. I mean, they give me lots of motivation. I just need to take five or 10 minutes to sign this – it’s nothing. I mean I feel I was very happy those fans out here. I don’t know, I just I feel very warm. I almost cry if I win but I didn’t but I still feel like I really enjoy this week. It doesn’t matter how I play and then those fans, they always give me 100 per cent support, they give me a clap even I don’t make good shot, they always encourage me and they always like, go Yani and so it’s always so much fun. I always feel good to hear that on the golf course.
Q. Did you feel you needed to make the approach shot on the last hole to be any chance of winning against Jiyai?
YANI TSENG: I know, I feel like I want to make eagle because I mean I’ve been hitting my 17 pretty good all day, but on that one I just, I probably tried to killed it and it was pulling to the left. But I still got a pretty good lie for the third shot. I mean, I just make that shot too complicated. It should be pretty simple really. I kind of played that tree and played, but those trees should be very easy and I just hit it too hard for my third shot, otherwise could be a good birdie there.
Q. Did you think you were any chance at the start of the day, especially after you bogeyed one to be nine shots back?
YANI TSENG: Not really, I feel like I just want to go out to have fun. I just want to make more birdies as I can. I wasn’t thinking if I want to win. I mean, pretty tough fight, top 10, I’m pretty happy. I wasn’t thinking about anything and I mean, after first hole I wasn’t happy to make bogey there. I think I was a little nervous, but I don’t know, but that bogey I think give me pump a little bit, that’s why I think I make three birdie in a row, I think because of that bogey. Probably if I don’t make bogey I probably won’t have that two birdie or three birdie; you never know.
Q. Yani, I’m from New Zealand and the whole country is talking about Lydia Ko at the moment. What do you think about her performance?
YANI TSENG: I mean, she playing great. Yesterday we were talking about who is going to win and we saw Lydia Ko playing well today too. I mean, she just needed more experience. This is a very strong field. I mean, you play on the LPGA, it’s always so different with the amateur too, but I think she will learn a lot from this tournament. She’s a great player. She’s hitting so consistently and I think she just need to play more tournament, I think she will be there and she will be a top player. I mean, I played with her the last two days in a row and then you don’t see her miss like hitting shots. I mean, you don’t see her miss putt and she’s very – and she’s kind of very easy going after she make putt. It’s like, thank you. It’s so easy; it’s kind of pretty relaxed when you see her play.
LYDIA KO, Rolex Rankings No. 30
MODERATOR: Lydia, I said to you walking up from the presentation, a little bit disappointing today, wonderful, wonderful for you to be in this position, always as the leading amateur, but a little bit disappointing with your game today?
LYDIA KO: Yeah it was, I mean I had a few struggles with my drives, but I mean, like I said, I can’t play good every single round. I came fourth?
LYDIA KO: Third in a professional tournament is a pretty good result and yeah, I can’t say I’m not fully pleased. I mean, I was disappointed with how I played today, but yeah, no, in some respects it was good but I think it was just a couple of drives and there was just one part of the game.
Yeah, overall I had my career low here on Thursday, so yeah, it was a pretty good week.
KATHIE SHEARER: Yani was saying when we interviewed her before that it’s a great learning experience for you. This is the strength of the field that she plays against all the time. What did you learn today?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, I mean obviously there are points and aspects where I do need to learn. Like, to me, today I think I realised that you know, after a bad hole it kinda carried onto the next hole. Yeah, I mean, like you can see, Jiyai Shin didn’t really matter what she had on one hole, the next hole it was pretty fresh. So yeah, those are the kinda of aspects I learnt. You know, I played with some big names out there this week, so yeah, I was very privileged to play with them.
Q. You obviously put down your performance today; was it nerves or were you tired?
LYDIA KO: I’m not sure, like just being out there, like it’s quite hard to feel that I was – I didn’t feel I was tired, but yeah, it was just a few drives. I guess I might have come a bit tired, but you know, I’ve got another tournament next week and if I really want to go on tour I’ll be playing three or four weeks in a row, so those are the kind of things I will need to build up to.
Q. Lydia, were you quite proud of yourself still to be able to get back on level terms? Was there a feeling there in that last six holes when you had a chance?
LYDIA KO: Yeah there was and then Jiyai had a chip in for a birdie and that was a pretty good chip in. Yeah, I mean I was pretty proud of what she did. I can’t really control what the other person is doing and nor can I control what I’m doing, so yeah, so it was good, you know, to get back into the game, but then, you know, after a few bogeys I knew I just got to enjoy being out there.
Q. The first tee shot was way left under the trees. Was it just nerves that you let get the better of you on the first tee?
LYDIA KO: Probably (laughs). Yeah, I’m not sure where that came from.
Q. Lydia, a huge thing, coming third, getting the Halberg Award as well, you must be feeling pretty excited about how things are going and how everyone in New Zealand is viewing how well you’re doing?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, I mean, I guess Thursday was the best day, Valentine’s Day, 63, leading and also getting the Junior Halberg Award, so yeah, that was a good day. Yeah, I mean this week it was pretty good and I got a lot of things within this week and I learnt a lot as well. So yeah.
Q. How many watches do you have Lydia?
LYDIA KO: Watches?
MODERATOR: Watches, prizes?
LYDIA KO: Nothing.
Q. You seem to win a few watches for your play?
LYDIA KO: No, they’re medals, just the silver medal thing. You can use it as a necklace and I did that when I won the Aussie last year.
Q. What are your plans after Thailand? Do you actually get to go to school?
LYDIA KO: No, I’m going to Thailand tomorrow, so yeah, I’ll have one practice round and then get back into it again. So yeah, pretty excited to be playing another LPGA event and then I’ve got the New Zealand PGA Championship, which is pretty big within New Zealand, it’s a men’s professional event, so yeah, I’ll be playing that as well and then going to school.
Q. What did you think of Royal Canberra in general this week compared to some of the other sand-bed courses you might have played in Melbourne? Is there potential for it to come back here again, the Australia Open, at some point?
LYDIA KO: Yeah, I think so but I actually play with the Vice Captain here, Jack for the Pro-Am and yeah, he was talking about they’re going to re-do the course, so yeah, they said it will probably take a few years for it to come back but yeah, I think it’s definitely a capable course and definitely a deserving course.
Obviously, you know, I heard that the heat here was very incredible, really hot and the course was in very good condition for that, so definitely the greenkeepers and the staff have been working well and yeah, it’s a tree-lined golf course and you can definitely shoot low scores but it can be pretty wild out there as well.
Q. One thing that you’d like to take away from this week, what would it be?
LYDIA KO: I think, you know, just the experience and I got to see like the world number 1, Yani and Jiyai Shin this week and then also Michelle Wie, who’s my idol. So yeah, I got to see different aspects of everybody’s game and then also Kristie Smith yesterday. Yeah, so I kinda learnt a little bit from everyone, so yeah, I can’t really say I learnt this bit and I learnt this, but yeah.
Q. If you’re deficient in one part of your game, what do you think it would be?
LYDIA KO: You mean a build up?
Q. Is there one part of your game that you think you really need to work on to get better?
LYDIA KO: Like on Thursday I putted very well, you know, 22 putts and then it wasn’t as good today and the days before but yeah, no, I always think putting is the biggest part of the game and also the psychology part, so those are the two things I would like to build up. Yeah I’ve got a couple of years I guess, until I turn pro so I guess within that period hopefully I’ll be able to get a little bit better.