ROGERS, Ark. (AP) — Na Yeon Choi eagled the par-4 16th hole from the fairway to take the lead and won the NW Arkansas Championship by two strokes Sunday for her ninth LPGA Tour title.
Choi closed with a 2-under 69 to finish at 15-under 198 at Pinnacle Country Club.
Choi’s 8-iron from 142 yards on the 16th one-hopped into the hole to give her a one-shot lead over Stacy Lewis, the defending champion and local favorite. The South Korean player followed with another 8-iron to a foot on the par-3 17th, and closed with a par.
Choi also won the season-opening Coates Golf Championship in Florida.
Mika Miyazato finished second at 13 under after a 67. Lewis bogeyed the par-5 18th for a 68 that left her tied for third with Azahara Munoz (66) and Anna Nordqvist (70) at 12 under.
Second-ranked Lydia Ko had a 63 to tie for sixth at 11 under.
While Choi struggled for much of her round, shooting a 1-over 37 on the front nine, Lewis – who began the day four behind – surged to the lead with her fourth birdie of the round on No. 10 to reach 13 under.
However, the former University of Arkansas player had birdie attempts lip out on Nos. 11 and 12 and she was unable sink a number of birdie putts on her back nine. That included a 6-foot attempt on No. 17 that came moments after Choi holed her fairway approach a group behind on the 16th.
Choi’s shocking eagle sent her to 14 under, a shot ahead of Lewis.
The 20th-ranked South Korean then followed her remarkable 8-iron make by nearly acing the par-3 17th, with her ball hitting short and rolling to a foot short of the hole. She made the birdie putt to reach 15 under and overcame an errant tee shot on the 18th with a 12-foot par putt.
Choi won despite needing 33 putts in her final round, and she was 1 over on her round before her eagle on the 16th.
Her nearly perfect back-to-back 8-irons were enough, however, to overcome any other struggles for the day and earn $300,000 for the win.