Tseng wins fifth 2011 LPGA title

High-flying Yani Tseng has retained her title at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, beating Amy Yang in the playoff.

High flying World No 1 Yani Tseng has successfully defended her title at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, beating Amy Yang on the first extra hole of a sudden-death playoff.

After missing a 4-foot putt on the final hole of regulation that would have given her the title outright, Tseng somewhat ironically sank a similar-length birdie putt when they replayed the par-5 18th in the first hole of the playoff to capture her fifth LPGA title of the 2011 season.

Tseng began Sunday atop the leaderboard with Yang and both shot matching 68’s to finish with joint 12-under par 201s in this 54-hole event played at Pinnacle Country Club.

In the playoff on the par-5 18th, Yang, the World No 24, reached the green in two while Tseng’s second shot ran through it and onto the fringe. Both putted short with their third shots, but Yang missed her birdie while Tseng converted and then punched the air with delight.

Tseng, who now has 10 career LPGA Tour victories, recorded five birdies and two bogeys en route to her final-round, three-under-par 68.

She has now won five of the 10 times she has led or co-led entering the final round on the LPGA Tour.

She was 0 for 4 at the start her career in 2008 and 2009, but since then she’s won 5 of 6, her only loss coming at this year’s Kraft Nabisco Championship won by Stacy Lewis.

Lewis, who tussled for the lead with Tseng in the early stages of this Championship, eventually finished in joint 7th place with American Paul Creamer, four shots off the pace.

The US’s No 1 Christie Kerr finished alone in third place, two shots behind Tseng and Yang, and Belen Mozo of Spain, Amy Hung of Taiwan and Sandra Gal of Germany were a further shot back in a tie for fourth

Last year Tseng shot a 6-under 65 in the final round of this tournament to capture a come-from-behind victory over second-round leader Michelle Wie, who had entered the day leading by three strokes.

With her five LPGA victories this season – the other four came at the Honda LPGA Thailand, LPGA State Farm Classic, Wegmans LPGA Championship and Ricoh Women’s British Open, Tseng now joins an elite group of woman who have managed that number.

They include Louise Suggs, Mickey Wright, Kathy Whitworth, Nancy Lopez and Pat Bradley to name some of the game’s leading standouts

“This is great,” said Tseng following her victory. “I mean, they always have a good crowd here and the people are really nice. This year, the weather was perfect, so we were very lucky. So I’m just really happy, just really happy to be back here.”

For Yang, who has been knocking on the door to a first LPGA career victory since last year’s LPGA Tour Championship where she went into the final round with a one-stroke lead, it was once more a case of so close, yet so far.

201 Yani Tseng (Tai) 66 67 68 (Yani won at the 1st play-off hole), Amy Yang (Kor) 69 64 68
203 Cristie Kerr 69 66 68
204 Belen Mozo (Spa) 71 65 68, Amy Hung (Tai) 71 67 66, Sandra Gal (Ger) 70 70 64
205 Paula Creamer 68 68 69, Stacy Lewis 66 69 70
206 Chella Choi (Kor) 68 69 69, Na Yeon Choi (Kor) 68 70 68, Mi-Hyun Kim (Kor) 70 69 67, Brittany Lincicome 71 66 69, Suzann Pettersen (Nor) 68 70 68, Kris Tamulis 70 68 68