Sung Hyun Park showed off the dazzling exhibition of golf that fans became accustomed to watching in 2017 on Sunday at the Volunteers of America LPGA Texas Classic.
Aditi Ashok posted a 7-under over two hours before Park began so she knew exactly what was needed to capture her third career LPGA win.
There were two turning points in her round. One came early when she made a long chip in from just off the green at four for eagle to jump into a share of the lead. The second was her last shot of the day. Sitting at 10-under, Park chipped in for birdie from right of the green to finish at 11-under.
"I knew it was a pretty important shot," said Park. "It was a pretty difficult situation and I'm glad I made it."
Park's short game was magnificent this week. She attempted just 24 putts in round one and 28 in round two. She switched putters last week during her off week and spent a lot of time on her short game in preparation for the week.
Lindy Duncan finished birdie-birdie-birdie about 45minutes after Park had finished to post 10-under. The chip-in turned out to be the shot that won Park the tournament.
The 24-year-old had a marvelous Sunday. She made five birdies and an eagle including three in a four hole stretch on the front nine to zoom into the lead.
The win is important for Park because she hasn't quite lived up to the expectations of her two win rookie campaign in 2017. This is just her second top 10 finish in her eighth start.
"After this win, I feel like I can finish out the season a lot easier," said Park in her championship presser. "I'm really excited about the rest of the season."
And she's on her way bhome to celebrate with her dog, Ato.
"I miss her so much"
The event was shortened to 36 holes on Friday afternoon due to severe weather on Thursday and Friday.
Lindy Duncan Has Breakout Week
Lindy Duncan wasn't happy after the 2017 season. She had a pair of top 10 finishes, but also missed seven cuts.
The former All-American at Duke already has secured her second top 10 finish of 2018.
She closed birdie-birdie-birdie to finish at 10-under after a 64, the low round of the weekend.
"I needed to clean my stuff up," said Duncan about her feelings after 2017. "It's awesome, I'm super excited. It was a grind out there, we were just trying to focus on every shot and we did."
With three holes to play, Duncan asked her caddy, Kyle Alexander, what she needed to do to have a chance at catching Sung Hyun Park.
"He said let's go birdie-birdie-birdie and I was like 'OK'," Duncan said with a chuckle. "I hit a really good tee shot on the par-3 seventh to like a foot and that set up the final stretch."
Duncan said a result like this proves that she's headed in the right direction.
"I'm really starting to get into a routine and I'm just trying to let my game come out," said Duncan. "I've got a lot of confidence now and I can't wait to get started on the next couple."
Aditi Ashok Has Career Best Finish
Aditi Ashok, 20, didn't go to bed on Saturday night until 11:30 p.m. after leaving the course late and eating dinner. She woke up at 6:00 a.m. and went through her warm up routine for the 9:00 a.m. restart of the final round at Old American Golf Club.
She had four holes to play and was in a share of the overnight lead at 6-under.
The Olympian started strong with a beautiful approach to a back pin on the par-5 15th and made a 5-foot birdie putt to get to 7-under. She made a two-putt par on the par-3 16th and then made a nice save on the par-4 17th when her approach went long of the green. Ashok closed with a par on 18.
The third place finish is a career best finish.
"I started off with a birdie and then had a couple wedges, but couldn't get them close enough," said Ashok. "I'm happy with the four holes and I came back one better than I left so that's good."
She has never won before on the LPGA, but does have three wins on the Ladies European Tour.
“I’m proud of how I played because the last two weeks I’ve played well, but have never been in contention after two days. Even if this was a four day tournament, I’ve put myself at the top after two days, which is great.”
Stoelting Earns Important Finish After Struggling
Jackie Stoelting had missed the cut in four of her first six starts this year including the last three. She had earned just $8,012. She completely turned around her season this weekend in Texas.
"The last few weeks have been really tough for me, I've been all over the map," admitted Stoelting. "I sat around all day Thursday and Friday and once I heard 36 holes, I thought to myself that I already made the cut and now let's go. I kind of brought myself back to Symetra (Tour) days when the tournaments are 54 holes and you have to start hot."
The 31-year-old turned in a final round 67 and to finish T8, her career best result. Rounds of 69-67 put her at 6-under.
"My hands were shaking because there is a lot on the line for me, I'm trying to get reshuffled up," explained Stoelting. "I was really trying not to think about that and my husband (Travis) was helping me with that."
Travis is also her full-time caddie on Tour. They couple celebrated their five-year wedding anniversary on Friday.
"We told each other let us have a good tournament as our anniversary present and we did," said Stoelting. "I just got on a roll."
Her previous career best finish was a T18 at the 2017 Kia Classic.