JLPGA and KLPGA member Sun-Ju Ahn stuffed her 6-iron from 165 yards on the first playoff hole to five feet and calmly sank the birdie putt to claim her first LPGA victory at the TOTO JAPAN CLASSIC.
“I’m very happy,” Ahn said. “I didn’t think that I’d be able to win the tournament but it’s a nice surprise and I’m very happy.”
Ahn, Angela Stanford and Ji-Hee Lee all finished regulation at 16-under par and went back to the par-4 18th to decide the winner.
In the playoff, all three hit the green where Lee left a 50 footer short and Stanford’s 33-footer narrowly missed setting up Ahn for the victory.
“About halfway I thought it might have a chance but it broke more than I thought it would,” Stanford explained. “Sun-Ju hit a really good shot in there. If you stick it on 18, with this hole, you deserve birdie and you deserve to win.”
With the win Ahn, who now has 27 victories worldwide (1 LPGA, 19 JLPGA and 7 KLPGA), will have an opportunity take up LPGA Membership for the 2016 season through Category 7, non-member win. Ahn is also eligible to compete in the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.
“I haven’t thought much about that yet,” Ahn admitted. “I’m just going to enjoy this win and this moment.”
Jenny Shin, the leader going into the final round, finished a shot out of the playoff in solo fourth place, while Aryia Jutanugarn was fifth after shooting the round of the tournament, an 8-under 64.
Stanford Takes Positives From Runner-Up Finish
Angela Stanford came up just shy in her quest to capture her sixth LPGA victory at the TOTO JAPAN CLASSIC but was able to take away several positives from her week in Japan.
“I’m pretty happy,” Stanford said. “When I left Korea I was pretty upset because I played bad in Malaysia and Korea. I went home put my head down and wanted to get better. I’m happy with this week.”
Stanford will now look to take momentum from Kintestsu Kashikojima Country Club into the final two events of the LPGA season.
“It does a ton,” Stanford said. “In the back of my mind I had chalked this year up to just one of those tough ones but John Killeen, my caddie, kept saying that the year’s not over yet so I guess he was right.”
Ariya Jutanugarn Has Round Of The Tournament
Ariya Jutanugarn fired an impressive 8-under round in tough conditions to finish her week in fifth place at 14-under par.
“Before today I thought that if I shoot 2-under today that’d be good,” Jutanugarn said. “I was just patient and did what I had to do.”
Jutanugarn tallied eight birdies on the day to tie the low round of the week. The fifth place finish is Jutanugarn’s fourth top-10 of her rookie season.
“This year has taught me a lot,” Jutanugarn admitted. “I had a really hard time when I missed 10 cuts in a row but I’ve learned how to come back and now I realize that I’m a good golfer and I’ve got more and more confidence.”