German edges Shin – what a Gal!

Sandra Gal became only the 2nd German to win on the LPGA Tour when she beat World No 2 Jiyai Shin at the Kia Classic.

Sandra Gal became only the second German to win on the LPGA Tour when she beat World No 2 Jiyai Shin in a dramatic final hole duel at the Kia Classic on Sunday.

The 25-year-old Gal rolled home her winning two-foot birdie putt at the Industry Hills Golf Club at Pacific Palms in California after final-round favourite Shin’s 5-foot birdie attempt nicked the right edge of the hole and spun out.

“There was big pressure, a disappointed Shin said afterwards when trying to explain her critical miss. “She was so close to the hole. I was thinking I had to make it.”

Gal closed with a 2-under 71 to finish with a 16-under 276 total, having set up her winning birdie with a sand wedge from 83 yards out on the par-5 18th.

“I was digging deep. I was actually trying to hole it,” a delighted Gal said afterwards. “I came close. I thought I made it.”

Gal follows Tina Fischer as only the second German LPGA Tour winner. Fischer won the Asahi Ryokuken International in 2001.

“I had the belief coming out this morning that I could win,” Gal told the media afterwards. ” just tried to play the course instead of Jiyai.”

Shin, who has already won eight times on the LPGA Tour and has had spells as the World No 1, closed with a 73 to finish all of four shots clear of fellow Korean I.K. Kim, who carded a 70 for a tie at 11-under with American Cristie Kerr, who shot a superb closing 66.

World No 1 Yani Tseng, who has already picked up four worldwide victories this year, including one on the LPGA Tour, and Na Yeon Choi finished in a fifth-place tie at 9 under with Michelle Wie another stroke back in another tie with Marcy Hart and Mindy Kim.

“I felt like I shot a lot better than what I scored,” the six-foot Wie said. “Overall, I had a lot of fun. I played as hard as I could.”

Shin led surprise package Gal by a shot heading into the final round, but quickly fell with three bogeys on the front nine.

The little Korean got back on level terms with a birdie on the par-3 13th where Gal, playing in the same group, had her only bogey of the round.

Shin then edged into a one-stroke lead with a birdie on the par-3 15th, but Gal hit right back with a birdie on the par-4 16th to set up the thriller finish.

Here Gal’s wedge shot hit the green behind the hole and spun back, missing it by a fraction on an inch

Gal can now head off to next week’s opening major of the season, the Kraft Nabisco Championship at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage, with her confidence sky high and her bank account $255,000 richer.

The Top 10 finishers
276 Sandra Gal (Ger) 67 68 70 71
277 Jiyai Shin (Kor) 70 64 70 73
281 In Kyung Kim (Kor) 70 69 72 70, Cristie Kerr 74 70 71 66
283 Yani Tseng (Tai) 71 73 72 67, Na Yeon Choi (Kor) 73 72 65 73
284 Mindy Kim (Kor) 74 66 73 71, Michelle Wie 68 75 71 70, Marcy Hart 73 73 73 65
286 Juli Inkster 75 70 69 72, Suzann Pettersen (Nor) 72 73 71 70