IN SEARCH OF A FIRST
Of all the tournaments for Chella Choi to win, this didn’t look like the one after an opening-round 2-over-par 73. Her playing partner in the playoff, Ha Na Jang, had opened with a 5-under-par 66 and Choi was tied for 62nd after the opening day. But she made a huge charge the second day after shooting 5-under. Choi went on to shoot a stellar 6-under par 65 with 8 birdies, the low for the day, and then finished her week with another 5-under par on Sunday. On the last hole of the final round, Choi missed her first fairway of the day at the most inopportune of times, but her caddie steadied her.
“I missed tee shot, but I have confidence after the miss,” Choi said. “So, okay, I try and focus. I just try make a par, so I made a par.”
Choi’s par scramble forced Ha Na Jang into a playoff. Choi has had a great experience with her father who worked for 21 years as a policemen before taking on the role as Choi’s full-time caddie. In 2012 it seemed apparent that her father was ready to retire but Choi wanted her father to stay on the bag and be a part of her first win.
“So one year, first year, my father say, No, I want to just retire after this. But after 2012 maybe, after second round, I leading so I went media center. So I say, I want to work with my father for first win, so my father until now work with me.,”
Both Chella and her father were overcome with emotion on the 18th green after getting her first win under their belt.
“You know, I can’t believe,” said Choi. “First, can’t believe. I can’t believe I sitting here and everything.”
Added Choi’s father, Jiyeon Choi: “I really waited for this time, so I’m really happy. Win is really important, but I try to like enjoy her golf today. She won, so really happy.”
Choi and her father already have tickets and hotel rooms booked for at least the next two weeks so he’ll remain on the bag for at least two weeks. After that, they both said they’ll sit down and talk and see whether he will be on the bag for the rest of the season.
ONE BIRDIE SHORT FOR KO
Defending champion Lydia Ko came up a little short this week in her bid to defend her second title of the year. She gave a good run as the defending champion with a 4-under round today to finish 13-under for the week, but in the end Chella Choi and Ha Na Jang made more birdies coming down the stretch.
“4 under is I think a good score at the end of the day,” said Ko. “Seeing how average my first day score was, to be top 5 or whatever, I think it’s a good finish for the week. I’m happy that I could give it a run for it to defend the title.”
Rain delays are very draining for some players and Ko admitted she felt a little fatigued after having to warm up more than once during the third round.
“I warmed up three times yesterday, and I think by the end of the second one I was getting tired,” said Ko. “End of yesterday I was really tired, and I could see that with my ball striking the back nine. I wasn’t hitting it as good.”
Though Ko did not secure a win this week she is not deterred, she feels ready to tackle the RICOH Women’s British Open in two weeks and will prepare by playing in the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open.
“I’ve been playing pretty good the last couple weeks,” said Ko. “Played pretty solid at the U.S. Open last week, too. So I’m really happy that my form is coming back a little bit. Six weeks ago I just wasn’t getting anything going, so it’s great to kind of bring a little bit of the momentum, go out, have fun at the Scottish Open next week.”
NUMBERS TO KNOW
2 - Ha Na Jang finished as the runner-up for the second time in her rookie season
5 - This was the fifth playoff of the 2015 LPGA season
73 - Chella Choi won Sunday despite a first-round 2-over-par 73
157 - Chella Choi took control of her first career LPGA win in her 157th LPGA start