For someone who has never won on the LPGA Tour, she made it look easy.
Haru Nomura fired a final round 65, the lowest round of the day by two strokes, to win the ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open by three strokes. The victory is Nomura's first on the LPGA Tour, and comes four years into her LPGA Tour career.
“It has a big meaning, a first win on the LPGA Tour,” Nomura said after the round. “It was surprising that it came early, but it’s just the beginning, I hope.”
Nomura played in the final group, and heard the roars of the crowd as fan favorites Lydia Ko and Karrie Webb began to make birdies ahead of her. Nomura left them all in the dust on the back nine, however, with five birdies on the back nine, including three in a row on holes 15-17. She had the tournament in hand on the 18th hole, and her bogey on the last was her only blemish of the day.
“It makes me feel like I should try more and play better,” Nomura said about hearing the roars from the crowd, according to LPGA.com.
Nomura becomes the first player from Japan to win on the LPGA Tour since Mika Miyazato in 2012. This victory could put Nomura in position to represent Japan in the Olympics.
Unlike some of her near misses, Ko, Homura nearest competitor, was just outplayed in the final round. Ko fired a final round 67, which was her target score, and didn't card a birdie until the 18th hole
“My goal was to shoot 67 today and I shot 67 and I fell a couple of shots behind and you know I felt like I played really solidly,” Ko said. “Obviously it’s not the best finish, you know, finishing with a bogey but other than that, you know I played really well but Haru played even better and the roars I could hear she seemed like she was holing a lot of putts. So when another player does it, it’s really out of my hands.”
First Timers Finding Success
It is incredibly difficult to win for the first time on the LPGA Tour. Last year, there were only five Rolex First-Time Winners, and another three non-members who won for the first time. With the top players winning multiple times in a season, there are so few opportunities for a player to break through for the first time.
This season, however, two of the first three tournaments have been won by players collecting their first trophy.
It is very early into the season and it is a small sample size, but the rest of the pack may be catching up to the top players, at least in terms of victories.