DALY CITY, Calif. (AP) Haru Nomura held on in strong wind to win the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic on Sunday for her second LPGA Tour victory of the year.
The 23-year-old Japanese player closed with a 1-over 73 in steady 35-40 mph wind at Lake Merced to finish at 9-under 279 and beat South Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace by four strokes.
”It wasn’t the windiest conditions I’ve ever played in, but it was certainly up there, but also temperature-wise, I thought it was one of the coldest days,” Nomura said. ”Everybody same situation today, so I try my patience. I picked up my patience. … I feel so cold, but I also feel happy.”
Nomura won the Australian Women’s Open in February, pulling away to beat top-ranked Lydia Ko by three strokes for her first LPGA Tour title.
”When I came into this year, I had two goals. That’s to win an LPGA tournament and also win an LPGA major tournament,” Nomura said. ”Now I’ve won two tournaments LPGA this year, so I think my goal now is to win a major.”
After birdieing the par-5 sixth to reach 11 under, Nomura bogeyed four of the next five holes. She rebounded with a speeding 70-foot birdie putt on the par-3 12th.
”That putt rolled on a line. I felt 100 percent it would go in,” Nomura said. ”When it did go in, I thought, `I’m winning.”’
She added another birdie on 14 and offset a bogey on 16 with a birdie on 17.
”I like tight courses,” Nomura said. ”You guys will find this strange, but I like windy situations. I like playing in the wind. I like tough situations, so when I spoke to the caddie (Jason McDede), even before the championship last week in Hawaii, I told him, `I’m going to come here and win this tournament because I really like this course. I enjoy this course.”’
Nomura was projected to jump from 36th to 23rd in world ranking. She joined Ko and Ha Na Jang as the only two-time winners this season.
The Japanese player had a rules scare Saturday. After her third-round 71, she met with rules officials to examine her play from an awkward stance on a slope in a bunker on the par-5 sixth hole. The officials decided no penalty was warranted for building a stance, leaving her with a par instead of a double bogey.
Pace bogeyed the first five holes in a 74.
”I don’t think after five holes I was thinking about smiling,” but after I made a few birdies, yeah. It was definitely tough out there, but Haru played amazing golf. She was very steady. …
”It was freezing. It was very, very gusty. A lot of the shots you stood over and it was just really, really difficult to commit to the lines. It was a very tough day.”
Ko shot a 75 on her 19th birthday to tie for sixth at 1 under. The New Zealander won the tournament the previous two years.
”If I was half my weight, I’d probably already be flying away like a balloon,” Ko said about the wind. ”It was just tough today straight out of the bit. I came out here to warm up, and it was blowing. It didn’t seem like it was going to settle down any time soon, so just even a wedge shot was tough.”
Gerina Piller and Na Yeon Choi tied for third at 4 under. Piller shot a 73, and Choi had a 75. Piller’s husband, Martin Piller, tied for fourth earlier Sunday in the PGA Tour’s Texas Open.
”Nothing makes me more happy than to see him succeed,” Piller said. ”It’s just something we love to do, and we’re in a situation that we’re playing on the top tours in the world, so it’s pretty cool.”
So Yeon Ryu, the first-round leader after a tournament-record 63, was fifth at 2 under after a 75.
Brooke Henderson joined Ko in the group at 1 under after a 76. The 18-year-old Canadian extended her top-10 streak to eight events.
Third-ranked Lexi Thompson (71) also was 1 under along with Jenny Shin (72) and Mi Jung Hur (74).
Michelle Wie withdrew because of neck spasms after playing the first 15 holes in 11 over. Wie was 16 over after opening with rounds of 73, 73 and 75.
She’s winless since the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open and hasn’t had a top-10 finish in 33 events. Last year, she struggled with left hip and ankle injuries. In 2014, she fought a stress fracture in her right hand.