LET Order of Merit leader Suzann Pettersen fired a final-round 3-under 69 to claim her 14th career LPGA Tour victory and successfully defend her title at the Sunrise LPGA Taiwan Championship. It was a head-to-head battle with Spaniard Azahara Munoz throughout the day but Pettersen pulled away late in the round to secure a five-stroke victory and clinch her fourth win of the season.
“It feels great to come here and defend my title and play as well as I did,” said Pettersen. “It was very tough out there. Since the very first shot on Thursday, the conditions gave us a very big challenge. Today, Azahara gave me an even bigger challenge. She played really good on the front nine ‑‑ well, she played really good all around. I think I can almost thank her for keep pressing and keep pushing me because I just had to keep staying aggressive and try to make birdies.”
Pettersen entered the final-round with a four-stroke lead and the Norwegian would be the first to strike on Sunday with a birdie at the second.
Just when Pettersen seemed to be cruising to the victory, Munoz began staging a comeback and pulled within three-strokes of the lead after a birdie at the fourth. Pettersen continued to see her lead slip through her fingertips after an untimely bogey at the par-5 ninth reduced her lead over Munoz to a mere one-stroke.
Pettersen would maintain a one-stroke lead until Munoz pulled within even with a birdie at the par-4 12th.
Just as soon as Pettersen saw her lead fade, she quickly regained control after back-to-back birdies at Nos. 13 and 14 left her with a comfortable three-stroke lead.
“She (Munoz) was hot ‑‑ to birdie 12, that was quite a birdie, quite an approach for me,” said Pettersen. “That was a huge putt; gave her a two‑shot swing on 12. On 13, I can go for it. I have enough clubs, I have the shots to do it but I didn’t know if it was the right time. We thought it would be as easy ‑‑ it’s not that hard of a wedge shot so we played it kind of the traditional way, and I think the wind switched a little bit on us as she was over the ball. She was in a tough spot, and unfortunately made a bogey, and it gave me a little bit of a cushion. But at the same time, I wasn’t really paying too much attention to her. I had 10‑under par as my goal to get to.”
Pettersen would cruise throughout the remainder of her final round at Sunrise Golf & Country Club and birdie the par-5 18th to successfully defend her title for the first-time on the LPGA Tour. While Munoz and Pettersen engaged in a head-to-head battle throughout the majority of Sunday, Pettersen admitted it helped her focus during the final round.
“For me, it was to keep pushing and keep pressing,” said Pettersen. “I birdied the next, I had a good putt on 15 to have another birdie. I had a chance on 17, and then I made the putt on 18. So for me, 10‑under was my goal. That’s kind of where I tried to keep my focus. But obviously the way it ended up, it was literally a race between her and me.”
With the win, Pettersen crossed the $2 million mark in season earnings with $2,241,847 and moves within $93,613 of Inbee Park on the LPGA Official Money List.