Haru Nomura became a Rolex First Time Winner in style as she carded a stellar 7-under, 65, the lowest round of the day by two strokes, to cruise to a three shot victory at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
“It has a big meaning, a first win on the LPGA Tour,” Nomura said. “It was surprising that it came early, but it’s just the beginning, I hope.”
The day started as the Karrie Webb and Lydia Ko show as the two former ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open winners battled back-and-forth for the majority of the front nine before Nomura took over thanks to birdies on 9, 10 and 13.
“It makes me feel like I should try more and play better,” Nomura said of hearing the roars early in the day playing behind Ko.
Nomura then put the tournament out of reach with birdies on 15, 16 and 17.
“On the 15th. I made birdie, then birdie 16, 17 birdie, that’s it,” Nomura said of when she thought the event was hers to win.
Thanks to the win Nomura is now eligible to compete in the next two events on the LPGA Tour, events she hadn’t qualified for prior to the victory at The Grange.
“I couldn’t play Thailand or Singapore last year, but because I won here I will play now.”
Nomura, who becomes the first LPGA Tour winner from Japan since Mika Miyazato in 2012 at the Safeway Classic, is coming off back-to-back 13th place finishes in the first two events of the LPGA season.
“I tried hard in those tournaments, but the third round was just tough,” Nomura admitted. “But what I realized for this week is that I need to believe in my own golf and this week, that’s why I won. If I believed in my golf earlier, then I might have won those previous tournaments as well.”
Ko finished second at 13-under, 275, while Webb was third at 9-under, 279.
“My goal was to shoot 67 today and I shot 67 and I fell a couple of shots behind and you know I felt like I played really solidly,” Ko said. “Obviously it’s not the best finish, you know, finishing with a bogey but other than that, you know I played really well but Haru played even better and the roars I could hear she seemed like she was holing a lot of putts. So when another player does it, it’s really out of my hands.”
Webb Comes up Shy Of Sixth Women's Australian Open Title
Karrie Webb’s quest for a sixth ISPS Handa Women’s Australia Open title came up just short as the LPGA Hall of Famer settled for a third place finish in her first event of the 2016 season.
“I got off to a good start, I made a couple of putts and that was it,” Webb said. “Didn’t make any more putts after that. I hit it really nicely again today and it just gets really frustrating out there on the greens.”
Despite being disappointed with her flatstick down the stretch, Webb still took a lot away from her week at The Grange.
“It’s good to be back,” Webb said. “It’s been 22 years since we played an Australian Open here and I think the crowds have been great and the support has been great for me, and I love playing The Grange. I think it’s one of the best courses I’ve played in Australia. So I enjoyed my week.”
The solid finish also gave Webb confidence going into next week’s Honda LPGA Thailand.
“Yeah, I love next week’s course and I’ve generally putted quite well there so I’m looking forward to it.”