ROGERS, Ark. (AP) — Top-ranked Yani Tseng successfully defended her title in the LPGA Tour’s NW Arkansas Championship on Sunday, beating Amy Yang with a 4-foot birdie putt on the first hole of a playoff.
Yang missed a 6-foot birdie try before Tseng holed the winning putt on the par-5 18th.
“I almost cry because today, like in the middle of the round, I felt like, ‘Oh, I’m going to lose today.” Because in my mind, I don’t feel excitement. I don’t make any birdie,” Tseng said. “But I just telling myself, ‘I need to get excited, need more focused, try to stretch, move around, just feel more.’ Like the last three holes, I make some birdies, so that was very important for me.”
During the awards ceremony on the 18th green, Tseng led the large crowd in a chant of “Woo Pig Sooie!” a chant usually heard at Razorbacks football and basketball games.
“This is great,” Tseng said. “I mean, always have a good crowd here and the people are really nice, volunteers and so many great people around here. Very nice to be out here. This year, the weather was perfect, so we were very lucky.”
Tseng and Yang closed with 3-under 68s to finish at 12-under 201 on the Pinnacle Country Club course.
Yang, winless on the LPGA Tour, parred the final 11 holes of regulation, holing a 4 1/2-foot putt on the 18th to force the playoff.
Tseng bogeyed the par-4 13th to drop to 10 under, then rallied with birdies on the par-5 14th and par-4 16th – holing an 8-foot putt to tie Yang.
“After the second hole I was a hole behind and I keep telling myself, ‘It’s OK, we still have lots of holes, stay patient and be always positive and keep focused on every shot,'” Tseng said.
On the 18th in regulation, Yang aggressively went for green in two shots, but hit her approach shot way left of the greenside grandstands before chipping on and saving par. Tseng reached the green in three shots and had a chance to win, but missed a 4-foot birdie putt.
“After I saw her good third shot, I just want to make sure to make a par,” Yang said. “You know, there’s always, I mean, I’m not meaning she’s going to miss that, but you never know what’s going to happen.”
The 22-year-old Tseng leads the tour with five victories this season, including major wins in the LPGA Championship and Women’s British Open, and also has won three other events this year. She also successfully defended her title in the Women’s British Open.
Tseng, from Taiwan, earned $300,000 to push her tour-leading total to $2,116,051. Last year at Pinnacle, she closed with a 65 to beat Michelle Wie by a stroke.
Ai Miyazato (66) was third at 11 under. Cristie Kerr (68) was another stroke back.
Miyazato moved to 10 under on the par-5 14th when she holed out for eagle from a greenside bunker
“It was a perfect bunker shot, I must say,” Miyazato said.
Sandra Gal had the best round of the day, a 64 that left her tied for fifth with Amy Hung (66) and Belen Mozo (68) at 9 under. The German star had nine birdies, including five in her first nine holes, and two bogeys.
Paula Creamer, the world’s No. 9 player, had a 69 to eighth with hometown favorite Stacy Lewis (70) at 8 under. Creamer had five birdies in her first nine holes and was a stroke behind Yang through 10 holes, but dropped back with a bogey on the par-4 12th. After Creamer three-putted from 10 feet, she tossed her ball in a pond in frustration.