Stanford started off the week in convincing fashion, firing a tournament-low 6-under-par 66 to take a two-shot lead in the first round following six birdies, four coming on the front nine.
Stanford then carded a 2-under-par 70 in the second round to maintain the lead alongside Jenny Shin and Katie Futcher, who both shot 5-under67 to join her in front of the field heading into the third round at 8-under-par.
The three leaders matched each other’s’ performances in the third round, each carding1-under 71 to maintain the lead heading into the final round of the tournament.
As the leaders made the turn on Sunday at Tanah Merah Country Club, Yani Tseng seemed to be taking control, but the back nine had other plans for the Rolex Rankings No. 1. Tseng birdied five of the first nine holes to tie Shin for the lead at 11-under-par with nine holes to play, but was derailed by a double bogey on 10, a bogey at 14 and missed birdie opportunities at the driveable par-4 No. 16 and the No.17 where she lipped out for eagle from the fairway and missed a four-footer for birdie. The 23-year-old finished the week at 9-under-par, one shot behind the four players who played extra holes.
Stanford handled the ups and downs of the final round and playoff holes like a 12-year Tour veteran, as overcoming missed opportunities on the 18th hole in regulation and twice during the playoff before closing out the win. Her final round was highlighted by four birdies, two on both the front and back nine. She sat one shot behind Jenny Shin heading into the final hole of regulation before a weather delay suspended play for and hour and 34 minutes.
After returning to the 18th tee, Shin pulled her drive left, took relief and ended up with a double bogey, dropped to 10-under-par. Stanford made bogey to force the playoff with Choi and Feng.
With the victory, Stanford earns her first win since 2009 at the season-opening SBS Open at Turtle Bay and makes it her fourth season in her 12-year career with at least one victory. Currently ranked No. 17 in the Rolex Rankings, she also pushes herself into a tie for second with Jessica Korda in the race for the Rolex Player of the Year Rankings, sitting three points behind No. 1 Yani Tseng’s leading 33 points.
The HSBC Women’s Champions concludes the season-opening three-week Asia-Pacific circuit. The LPGA Tour will return to the U.S. and will resume play on March 15 in Phoenix, Arizona, for the RR Donnelly LPGA Founders Cup.
Please visit LPGA.com later today for more extensive notes and interviews from the HSBC Women’s Champions 2012.