KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — South Korea’s Na Yeon Choi won the LPGA Malaysia on Sunday for her first LPGA Tour victory of the season and fifth in three years, closing with a 3-under 68 to beat top-ranked Yani Tseng by a stroke.
Choi finished at 15-under 269 at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club and earned $285,000. She birdied the par-3 17th to pull ahead and parred the par-4 18th to hold off Tseng a week after finishing second behind the Taiwanese star in South Korea.
“I took something from last week,” Choi said. “I had a great experience from last week. … I did my best last week. … So, I learned something. And then this week, I had a great feeling about my game. I played so well this week.”
Choi became only the second South Korean winner on the LPGA Tour this year, joining U.S. Women’s Open champion So Yeon Ryu. The victory also was the 100th LPGA Tour win by players of Korean descent.
“I won my fifth tournament and a hundred times for all of the Korean players,” Choi said. “So it’s very nice. Icing on the cake.”
Tseng, a six-time LPGA Tour winner this season, parred the final two holes for a 65. She earned $176,791 to push her tour-leading total to $2,563,629.
“Na Yeon played great and she made a couple birdies on the back nine,” said Tseng, set to play next week in the inaugural LPGA Taiwan Championship. “I finished second this week, that means I still have space to improve next week.
“I think after these last two weeks I’m ready for next week. I’m excited for it and looking forward to do my best. Looking forward to try to win next week.”
Tseng, four strokes behing Choi entering the round, pulled even at 14 under with birdies on the par-3 15th and par-5 16th.
“Today, before I’m going to play, I tell myself, ‘Just shoot 6 under and finish 14 under,'” Tseng said. “So, this is my goal today, and I achieved my goal and didn’t win. That’s all that happened. I do my best and then I played my best today.
After Tseng missed a birdie opportunity on No. 17, Choi hit her tee shot to about 5 feet to set up the deciding birdie.
“I wasn’t nervous when I started today, but started getting nervous on 15 when I hear that Yani got birdie, birdie,” Choi said. “So I was nervous, like from 15, 16, 17, 18 I was so nervous, but I had a great result. So it feels amazing.”
Spain’s Azahara Munoz closed with a 69 to finish third at 12 under, South Korea’s Se Ri Pak (69) followed at 10 under, and Americans Stacy Lewis (70) and Brittany Lang (73) were 9 under. Michelle Wie had a 75 to tie for 18th at 2 under.