JLPGA star Ai Suzuki gave the fans in Japan a thrill on Sunday at the 2019 TOTO Japan Classic. 14-time JLPGA winner Suzuki played the final two rounds bogey-free and closed with a Sunday 67 to hold off any challengers and capture her first career LPGA title at 17-under par.
“Somehow, I am very settled, and my shot were solid,” Suzuki said through a translator. “So I did not have to worry about other players. I just have to play bogey free round. One thing I wanted to improve is to have some birdies on Sunday back nine. Because I think strong players are like that. I wish I can do that. It was my 15th win. This one is special because US LPGA tour event. It’s beyond Japan, and International Event.”
LPGA major champion Hyo Joo Kim made a late charge playing alongside Suzuki as she birdied her last three holes for her 12th top-10 finish of the season and third runner-up result finishing at 14-under par.
“Next week I will practice more, and then workout a bit hopefully same for CME, top 10,” Kim said of her goals for the upcoming season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.
Minjee Lee posted a final-round 68 to finish at 11-under par and collect her second-straight top-three finish.
“Obviously would be nice to win, but we were pretty much playing for second, I think, so I just tried to make as many birdies as I could out there and just play my game,” Lee said of the final round in Japan.
2019 LPGA Tour rookie Jennifer Kupcho came out firing on Sunday with five birdies on her first seven holes, she cooled off to post a 68 and finish in a tie for fourth with Jing Yan for her third top-five finish of the season. Afterwards Kupcho said she was really pleased to finish off her first Asia swing with a good result and head into the CME Group Tour Championship with a bit of momentum.
“I was hitting the ball really well. Gave myself a lot putts. I even missed a couple, left them on the lip,” Kupcho said. “I played really well this week and I'm pretty happy with it…It’s been really cool just to see all the different countries and different cultures. It's definitely something I would've never dreamed of. It's pretty cool to be able to see it all.”
Two-time TOTO Japan Classic champion Shanshan Feng finished T6 at -9 alongside Gaby Lopez, Sakura Koiwai and Erika Kikuchi.
Early in the afternoon on Sunday Morgan Pressel had the Seta Golf Course on high alert as she made birdies on her first five holes. Pressel would make the turn in 29 before stumbling with three straight bogeys on holes 13-15. Her hot start was enough to keep her tied for 10th at -8 alongside Azahara Munoz and Hannah Green, for her second straight top-10 finish.
“I really haven't had my A game for the whole trip, but proud of the way I've grinded it out the last two weeks,” Pressel said. “I don't know if it'll be a top 10 this week, close to top 10 last week, so definitely proud of the way that we fought out there.”
2019 AIG Women’s British Open winner Hinako Shibuno finished T13 in her third career LPGA start, while the top-ranked American in the field Lexi Thompson finished T24 in her first start since September.