Yani Tseng has blasted the opposition away to claim her first Handa Australian Open by three shots at Melbourne’s Commonwealth Course.
The world No 6 played a flawless, bogey free round of 7 under 66 to end her tournament on 9 under 283, three shots ahead of Britain’s defending champion Laura Davies, who finished on 6 under 286.
“I haven’t had this feeling for a while so I am very happy,” she said.
Overnight leader Australian Karrie Webb was bitterly disappointed with her final round. She went into the day with a one shot lead over Italy’s Giulia Sergas and two ahead of Laura Davies, but staggered to a one over 74 to finish on 5 under 287.
Earlier in the final day, Webb threatened to run away with her fifth Australian Open, breaking out to a three shot lead after just five holes. When Tseng checked the leader board she thought as much.
“I told my caddy ‘let’s try to get second place’,” she said.
“We just played our game and tried to be second and after 12 holes I thought: ‘Oh I am only two shots behind,’ maybe I need to play a little bit aggressive and smart.”
And that is exactly what the 21-year-old did, taking on the tight and demanding Commonwealth course with a vengeance. She holed putts from everywhere and in her last six holes, wrested the Patricia Bridges bowl from all comers with four birdies.
It was a new putting grip that gave Tseng the confidence to use the flat stick without fear.
“I changed my grip on Friday and now I really feel the speed on these greens because this is a tough course and you just need to be patient and if you just lose a little focus it is going to be really bad.”
Since the putting grip change Tseng has mastered the Commonwealth course; in two rounds she shot 8 under.
The Handa Australian Open defending champion, Laura Davies, was keeping pace with her playing partners, Webb and Italian Giulia Sergas, but then an incident with a spectator unsettled the veteran.
On the par 5 sixth, her second shot sprayed right into the crowd. When she walked up to find her ball, the spectator advised Davies that her ball had ricocheted off his ankle.
“If it had missed him it would have gone right through the scrub and I think I would have had a clear shot onto the green but I had to get on my knees and tap it with a driver and came up short,” she said.
“If he hadn’t have said anything it would have been okay but I was so worked up. I mean it wasn’t his fault in a way, but he should have been watching, you know.
“I just wish he hadn’t have told me I was pretty rocked.”
Not that Davies was using the mid round drama as an excuse.
“I missed too many putts in the middle of the round and fell away a bit and by the time I had recovered, Yani had 3 or 4 birdies in six holes and I was gone really,” she said.
“Yani just had one of those rounds. On this course to shoot 7 under on the final day she is the worthy champion. You can’t really say much more about it to be honest.”
While Webb eventually finished in outright third, Australian Katherine Hull and Giulia Sergas were next best on 4 under 288, a shot ahead of Australian Lindsey Wright.
England’s Melissa Reid who yesterday said she was still in with a chance, couldn’t get anything going today. Despite being 2 under the card early in her round, she faded to end her third Australian Open Campaign on 3 over 295 and in a tie for 16th.