Kris Tamulis didn’t want to look at a leaderboard, didn’t want to see the lead group chasing her play the 17th or 18th and didn’t want to hit any balls as she waited to see if the 17-under par total she’d just posted 45 minutes prior to the leader’s arrival to the 18th would hold. When she received word that Austin Ernst’s birdie try at the last raced by and Yani Tseng’s 10-footer lipped out on the left hand side, she began crying over the realization that she’d just won her first career LPGA title at the Yokohama Tire LPGA Classic after 11 years and 185 prior events on Tour. Her final-round 7-under par 65 tied her lowest round in relation to par ever and it came at the final 18 holes in a day where she had to play 29 holes after a weather delay had suspended the third round.
“It's amazing. I was definitely not expecting this today,” Tamulis said. “I was just out there playing my game and I had a lot of opportunities for birdie, which was really nice to have. Kept it below the hole for the most part. Honestly didn't even know what I shot until I counted my birdies at the end of the round. It was a marathon out there. We were just trying to get it in, beat the weather, and that's it. So it's unbelievable.”
Tamulis entered the week just hoping to ensure herself spots in the Asian events in the fall and hoping to get enough Race to the CME Globe points to ensure a spot in the field at the CME Group Tour Championship in her hometown of Naples, Florida. What she left with meant more to her for her caddie, Thomas “Motion” Frank, than it did to her. Tamulis had missed the cut at the Lotte Championship in April and flown to San Francisco to prepare for the next week’s event when she received a text from Motion with pictures of his house in Houston had been struck by lightning and burned to the ground.
“Mo believes in me more than I believe in me. He’s just such an inspiration, you know, what happened to his house earlier this year when it burned, his unbelievable, amazing attitude,” Tamulis said. “The text I got from him, the first thing he said was, you know, it’s okay, I’ve got the best friends, I’ve got the best family, and he’s like I’ve got my health. He just keeps me going, keeps me believing in myself and when I don’t want to be out there he’s like, come on, let’s do this. He’s the best!”
As exciting as the win was for Tamulis, it was equally disappointing for Tseng in her quest for her first win in 86 starts over a stretch that’s spanned around three and a half years. After missing a 10-foot putt at the par-5, 17th hole to tie, Tseng hit a beautiful approach into the difficultly tucked pin on the 18th, but her 10-footer held its line until the very last second when it dove left, lipped out, and left Tseng one putt away from a playoff on a putt that she still can’t believe went the way it did.
“I putted on line, the ball just didn’t stay online,” Tseng said. “I don't know why that didn't go in. I made a good putt, I felt boy, it's going in, because I had the little hole in front of my, it was at three feet, it was a little hole. So I just, okay, let's hit left side and then it turns and kind of turn back a little bit, I don't know, that putt is no way it's going to turn left and it turns left at the end. I don't know, I just did my best, you know. Sometimes you need a little luck to win a tournament too.”
Ernst and Tseng finished in a tie for runner-up at 16-under par while Lexi Thompson and Sydnee Michaels tied for fourth at 14-under par.