Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng captured the 2012 RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup in dramatic fashion, shooting a back-nine 31 to capture her 14th career LPGA Tour victory by one stroke over Na Yeon Choi and Ai Miyazato.
Despite recording birdies on five of her first six holes on the back nine, Tseng still had only a slim one-shot lead heading into the final hole of play as darkness fell upon the Wildfire Golf Club in Phoenix. Following a day full of lightning delays, hail storms and freezing temperatures, the finish ended up being perhaps the most electric moment of the day as the tournament came down to the final hole. Tseng two-putted from 45-feet for par on the par-4 18th to seal her one-shot victory.
It was a wild and wacky day in Phoenix. Players teed off for the final round with temperatures in the 40s, unseasonably cool weather for Phoenix this time of year. But the cold temperatures were the least of the worries for the players.
It had been 105 days since the Phoenix area had any measurable rain, but there was plenty of inclement weather to slow down play on this day. Hail fell early on in the round, covering a few greens, and three times lightning in the area forced delays. The delays totaled three hours and one minute with play resuming for a final time at 5:39 p.m. PT.
What was a long day on the course began with Miyazato and Tseng tied atop the leaderboard at 14-under-par. It was familiar territory for the two, as they played together in the final group last month at the Honda LPGA Thailand. Tseng came from one shot back at that event to defeat Miyazato by a stroke for her 13th career LPGA Tour victory.
But it was a slow start for Tseng on this Sunday. After matching Miyazato with a birdie on the third to move into a tie for the lead at 15-under, Tseng tallied back-to-back bogeys on No. 7 and 8 to drop three shots off the lead as Miyazato moved to 16-under.
Choi made a strong charge on the front-nine, tallying three straight birdies on No. 5-7 to move into a tie for the lead. But things changed quickly on the back nine. Miyazato held a two-stroke lead over Choi when play resumed for a second time but things tightened up quickly as Tseng began her birdie run. She moved into a tie for the lead with her third birdie on the back nine and then took the lead with a birdie on the par-3 14th. Tseng’s lead was two after a birdie on 15 but birdies by both Choi and Miyazato on the 16th shrunk that to one shot, putting pressure on the world’s No. 1 player who managed to once again deliver a memorable moment.
The LPGA Tour is in the midst of a three-week West Coast swing that includes stops in Phoenix and Carlsbad, Calif. before wrapping up in Rancho Mirage with the first major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
Log on to LPGA.com later today for more extensive notes and interviews from the RR Donnelley LPGA Founders Cup.