CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) – Top-ranked Yani Tseng won the Kia Classic on Sunday for her second straight LPGA Tour title and third in five events this year, closing with a 2-under 70 for a six-stroke victory.
“Today the first hole I just kind of felt like every day is the same,'' Tseng said. “I didn't feel like today was Sunday. I didn't feel like I had a three-shot lead. I just focused on playing one shot at a time. I think I did a good job to just kind of focus on myself.''
The 23-year-old Taiwanese star finished at 14-under 274 on La Costa's Legends Course and has had a least a share of the lead after all eight rounds the last two weeks.
She became the second-youngest player to reach 15 LPGA Tour victories. Nancy Lopez was 22 when she reached the mark.
Tseng won the LPGA Founders Cup last week in Phoenix and also won the LPGA Thailand in February. She led the tour last season with seven victories – including major victories in the LPGA Championship and Women's British Open – and finished the year with 12 worldwide titles.
“I think it is her work ethic,'' said Brittany Lincicome, 11 shots back at 3 under. “She has put a lot of effort into being No. 1. She has definitely raised the bar for the rest of us.''
South Korea's Sun Young Yoo had a 71 to finish second.
“I think I played pretty good,'' Yoo said. “I just didn't make the short ones out there. It was a little too bumpy. She (Tseng) played great. There is nothing I can say. Yeah, it was fun to watch.''
Shanshan Feng shot a 67 – the best round of the day – to tie for third with South Korea's Jiyai Shin at 7 under. Shin had a 74.
Tseng began the round with a three-stroke lead over Shin. The straight-hitting Shin birdied the second hole to pull within one, but struggled with her putter, missing par ties of 3 feet or closer on Nos. 6, 12 and 15.
Tseng chipped in for birdie on the par-4 fifth and also birdied the par-4 ninth. She made a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-4 15th and took a six-stroke lead when Shin bogeyed the par-4 16th.
Tseng had a three-putt bogey from 30 feet on the final hole, her only three-putt green of the week.
The Kraft Nabisco Championship, the first major of the year, is next week at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage. Last year, Tseng had the 54-hole lead, but closed with a 74 and lost to Stacy Lewis. It was the last time in seven events that Tseng has lost going into the final round with the lead.
“I was very, very close last year,'' Tseng said. “But when I look back, I was very happy that I didn't win because that's why I'm learning. If you keep winning, you don't know what you're going to learn.
“Last year was a huge experience for me, and I'm just heading into next week and I'm look forward to it. I know what I'm going to do and still play one shot at a time, be patient, and I love that golf course. The golf course suits me pretty well and suits my game. I can't wait to start on Thursday.''