Jiyai Shin prevails at Australian Open
BY Bruce Young | LPGA Tour | 2013 ISPS Handa Women's Australian Open | Wrap | 17 Feb 2013
The ISPS Handa has been won by the brilliant 24 year old Korean golfer Jiyai Shin who has held off a last round challenge from the world number one Yani Tseng and fought off a valiant attempt to win the event by New Zealand 15 year old Lydia Ko.
Starting the final round tied with Ko, Shin was given a reprieve when Ko double bogeyed the very first hole after an uncharacteristic drive found the left hand trees and she took two to get back to the fairway.
Ko then bogeyed the second hole and with Shin making birdie at the par five 1st, by the time the pair reached the third tee Shin had a four shot break over Ko.
To Ko’s great credit she fought back with a two putt birdie at the 3rd and then holed a twenty footer for birdie at the 4th and when Shin missed the green left at the 4th and took bogey the difference was just one.
When Shin bogeyed the 12th the pair was tied at 16 under but soon after Ko began to falter and it would be Tseng who would present Shin with her biggest challenge.
Perhaps the most critical shot of the final round came at the par four 14th when, after missing the green left, Shin was forced to make a decision. Would she take a drop from alongside an advertising sign or would she go ahead and play given the good lie she had drawn?
She chose to play it as it was and her lob wedge found the hole. She had the lead and when she then birdied the par five 15th she enjoyed a two shot buffer.
Ahead at the 18th Yani Tseng had moved to 16 under and with her length an eagle at the par five was not out of the question especially after a massive drive. If she could find a way to do just that then it was very much a case of game on.
From the middle of the fairway and from just 240 yards she pulled her second shot into the trees and failed to make an eagle or a birdie and so Shin would enjoy the luxury of a two shot buffer with three holes to play. She was able to play them in a conservative manner and her three pars to finish secured the two shot victory.
“The chip shot at the 14th was a very important shot,” said Shin after her round. “After that I felt more relaxed. I didn’t know Yani’s exact score but I knew with her length she would have a chance of getting on in two so knew I had to keep playing well.”
When asked about a lack of discussion between her and Ko today Shin replied. "I was feeling tired and there was a lot of tension and pressure referring to the situation rather than any issues between the pair.
“I enjoyed playing with Lydia though and am very impressed with how well she hits the ball and her putting is very good. She will win lots of tournaments in the future.”
Shin had finally won in Australia after several near misses and ten visits to the country. "I am really happy to have won in Australia.
“Coming up the 18th hole was amazing with so many people,” said Shin. "I feel very comfortable in Australia and have a lot of friends here.
Shin said after wards that she has set a goal for 2013. “I want to be the Player of the Year this year,” she said. “A Korean has not been named as that so it would be my goal to be Player of the Year.”
After her valiant attempt Tseng was still philosophical about her near miss. "I always feeling good here and I mean, I try my best today. I think today I got some pretty good lucky bounce too, because I didn’t drive as well like last few days but I got some good bounce, kick on the fairway, hit the tree, bounced to the fairway, so it’s kind of really lucky.
“To finish 7 under, I’m very happy for whole week. I mean, last hole I just tried a little bit too hard. I had 240 to the pin, 210 to the front. I can easy hit my 17 rescue there but it was gusting wind when I want to hit, so I kinda waited a little bit, but still pretty strong winds, but I just hit it too hard over to the left and didn’t make birdie there but I’m pretty happy with whole day; pretty solid round today.
Ko finished two shots further back alone in third position with Thailand’s Moriya Jutanguran and Spain’s Beatriz Recari sharing 4th.
Ko looked at her effort as the glass half full. “I mean I had a few struggles with my drives, but I mean, like I said, I can’t play good every single round. I came fourth?” So lost in the moment was she that she had not realised she had finished alone in 3rd position.
She did however come away feeling very good about her week and the continuing experience she is gaining. "I mean obviously there are points and aspects where I do need to learn. Like, to me, today I think I realised that you know, after a bad hole it kind of carried onto the next hole. Yeah, I mean, like you can see, Jiyai Shin didn’t really matter what she had on one hole, the next hole it was pretty fresh.
“So yeah, those are the kind of of aspects I learnt. You know, I played with some big names out there this week, so yeah, I was very privileged to play with them.”
The leading Australian was Katherine Hull-Kirk who finished in a share of 8th position.
The tournament was a resounding success as was the venue at Royal Canberra. Perfect weather for all four days greeted the players and the large crowds who had gathered despite an Australian not been in genuine contention.
Given the propose changes to the Royal Canberra layout it may be some time before the Australian Women’s Open gets back to this region but it let no-one down in its debut as a venue for this particular event.
Neither did the game’s leading players including a young 15 year old from New Zealand.
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