Lexi Thompson, who entered the final round one shot back of two players, thought that she needed to make a ton of birdies in order to have a chance to win. She didn't do that, but she played well enough as the leaders struggled. She birdied holes 7-9 in order to take control of the tournament, and held on through the back nine, playing it in even par and shooting a final round 69 to win the KEB Hana Bank Championship by a stroke.
"It's very satisfying." Thompson said. "I always look forward to coming back to South Korea and playing in front of these amazing fans. I love Sky 72. It's a great golf course. Getting a win, it means so much."
Thompson made it interesting on the final hole. Nursing a one shot lead heading into the par-5, she hit a massive drive, and decided to go for the green in two despite holding the lead. She hit her second shot left of the green into thick rough, but was able to get up and down for par to secure the victory.
"I'm overall a very aggressive player," Thompson said. "So, if I have 190 front, I'm not laying up. But it's good to play aggressive and know that I can get up-and-down."
Thompson has officially found a rhythm. This is Thompson's second victory of the season, with her first coming back in July. Since that win, Thompson has finished inside the top 10 in four of her six tournaments, including a runner up finish at the final season of the year, the Evian Championship. She was also undefeated at the Solheim Cup, going 2-0-2 and securing 3 crucial points for the victorious Team USA. Overall on the season, she had eleven top 10 finishes, and is ranked 4th in the Race For The CME Globe. She's currently the top ranked American in the Player Of The Year standings, and can move to fourth in the Rolex Rankings by the end of the Asian Swing.
Two players finished one shot back at T2, and they both took very different paths to get there. One was Yani Tseng, the former World Number One who struggled the past couple of seasons. She seems to be back to her old form, as this is her second straight top 5 finish, and third in four weeks. She fired a final round 69, including birdies on the last two holes to put pressure on Thompson. She is now on a hot streak as the LPGA Tour heads to her native Taiwan.
“Just being back where I am. It's better where I am I think,” said Tseng. “I'm just looking forward to win. I came to Asia for these five weeks and looking for a win. I know every week is getting close, and next week in Taiwan, it would be a great win in Taiwan.”
The other player to finish T2 was KLPGA pro Sung Hyun Park. Park was the first round leader after a spectacular 62, but fell back following with a second round 74. She was able to climb back up and shared the 54 hole lead, but never really got it going on Sunday. She had two bogeys and an eagle to finish with an even par 71. Still, for someone playing in her first LPGA tournament, a T2 finish is an incredibly strong result. Park could have as easily plummeted down the leaderboard, but she held steady all weekend.
There are good rounds, and then there is what Amy Yang did on Sunday. Yang entered the final round with virtually no chance at challenging for the lead, which gave her the green light to be aggressive. After birdieing her first two holes, Yang bogeyed the sixth to make the turn at one under par.
That is when the magic started. Yang proceeded to birdie every single hole on the back nine, finishing up with a final round 62 that vaulted her up the leaderboard and into a T4 finish. Yang now sets the record for most consecutive birdies in a round, and picks up her eighth top 10 finish of the season in the process.
“I don't know what just happened. Just can't believe, first time,” Yang said after her round. “I think six in a row was my best. That's the first time. Shots were great. Early in the week I was shaky, but I don't know, this back nine was crazy good, plus putting.”
Yang finished T4 with two other players. One was Gerina Piller, the Solheim Cup hero, who picks up her fifth top 10 of the season. The other was Lydia Ko, who is going to leave feeling a little disappointed. Ko entered the final round tied for the lead with Park, but her putter started to abandon her. She left several putts short, including birdie putts on 14 and 15 which would have jumped her back into a tie with Thompson. Ko could have passed Inbee Park at the Rolex Number One with a victory this week, but she will have to wait at least another week.
Two reliable players finished T7. One was Shanshan Feng, who has now finished in the top 10 in three straight weeks, and four out of her last five tournaments. The other was Suzann Pettersen, who picks up her first top 10 since her controversial incident in the Solheim Cup. It's her seventh top 10 of the season, including one victory.
Six players finished T9 to round out the top 10. Those players were Mika Miyazato (five top 10's this season, and second straight), Brittany Lincicome (first top 10 since July), Chella Choi (four top 10s, one win in 2015), Mi Hyang Lee (two top 10s in three tournaments), Mirim Lee (first top 10 since May), and KLPGA player Yoon-Ji Cho (first LPGA appearance).
Rolex Number One Inbee Park finished T15, along with leading Rookie Of The Year candidate Sei Young Kim and US Women's Open champion In Gee Chun. Michelle Wie finished a disappointing T53.