Swede Anna Nordqvist, who led at the Honda LPGA Thailand for three rounds, held off 4th round charges by defending champion Inbee Park , American Michelle Wie and Scot Catriona Matthew to save her victory. It’s Rolex Ranked No. 27 Nordqvist’s first Tour win since the 2009 LPGA Tour Championship and she’s worked hard to get it.
Nip & Tuck To the 18th
Nordqvist started the day with a four-shot lead over Park and Wie but quickly made things interesting with a double bogey on the par 4 5th hole.
Wie picked up her second birdie of the day on No. 5 to cut the lead to one shot. Wie was looking good for a takeover after her eagle on the par-5 10th, but she gave back strokes on the 13th & 15th holes and dropped back to a -10, 4th place finish.
Matthew also made a 4th round bid for the top with a string of birdies that took her from a 9th place start to a -11, 3rd place finish.
Through it all, Nordqvist played on in a battle for the top that narrowed down to a single challenger, Inbee Park.
Nordqvist rolled a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 7 to extend her lead back to two shots but was pressured by Park who picked up back-to-back birdies on Nos. 7 and 8. Park was bogey-free in her round of 66 on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough for the surging Nordqvist who carded five of her seven birdies on the back nine.
Nordqvist and Park took turns with birdies on the next four holes and never saw the lead cut to less than two. Nordqvist sealed the deal with her 12-foot birdie putt on No. 12 leaving a nice cushion for a bogey on the 72nd for the two-shot win. She said earlier in the week she was contemplating leaving the game and credits her support team and family for keeping her happy and on track to her goals.
The top-ranked player in the world said she was pleased with her performance in her first event of the 2014 season, and Nordqvist was even more pleased with her win.
I’m speechless to be honest . . . It was such a hard push on the back nine. Inbee kept making birdies and Michelle was playing great. Couldn’t really breathe until the last putt . . .
Anna Nordqvist, Honda LPGA Thailand Champion
With her win this week, Nordqvist is projected to move to No. 14 in the Rolex Rankings and will be the top-ranked Swede in the world.
The Top-10 Finishers
The earlier 11th place logjam moved up to the 5th slot on the board during the final round. In the end, Gerina Piller, Stacy Lewis, Yani Tseng, Lexi Thompson and Julieta Granada all finished at nine-strokes-under-par and sharing 5th place.
Piller and Lewis both shot 66 in the final round and traveled the greatest distance, from 19th place starts to 5th place finishes.
Although they both had rough starts, Yani Tseng and Lexi Thompson seemed to settle into fine form during the final two rounds at the LPGA Thailand, holding steady in at the 5th slot through the third and fourth rounds.
Suzann Pettersen‘s run at the top of the Rolex Rankings fell short in Thailand. With rounds of 69, 73, 72 & 66 Pettersen finished at -8 and in solo 10th place. Perhaps she’ll make a stronger run next week at the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore.
Thailand’s International Crown Team
The candidates for Thailand’s representatives at the LPGA International Crown did not play as strongly as might have been expected, given they were competing on home soil and with the support of local fans. At five shots under par, Rolex Ranked No. 111 Thidapa Swannapura was the only Thai player who finished in red numbers. With Pornanong Phatlum finishing at +4, Ariya Jutanugarn at +7, and Moriya Jutanugarn at +9, Thailand is facing some serious deficiencies for the summer competition at Owings Mills, Maryland. (Amateur Supamas Sangchan also finished at +9, but is not eligible for the International Crown Thai team.)
Race to the CME Globe Update
It’s still very early in The Race to the CME Globe but there’s a pattern emerging in the competition. With her win, Nordqvist entered herself into the race by earning 500 points this week. She currently ranks fourth with 526. American Jessica Korda leads the race with 587 points.
The top-5 in the standings for the Race to the CME Globe are:
Rank Player - Points
1. Jessica Korda – 587
2. Karrie Webb – 552
3. Stacy Lewis – 535
4. Anna Nordqvist – 526
5. Paula Creamer – 421
You can see the delayed broadcast of the final Honda LPGA Thailand round on Golf Channel today, 1:30-6pm ET.